Why Women’s Rage Is Necessary for America

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“Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger”
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“Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger”
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“Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger”

A book by Rebecca Traister

“Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger”

A book by Soraya Chemaly

My wife looked at me with arched eyebrows as I read aloud several passages from the two books late one night. “You didn’t know that?” she asked quietly.

No, I didn’t.

Even now, a year since the Harvey Weinstein revelations and nearly two years since the “Access Hollywood” video, after hearing so many #MeToo stories and reading books on the structures of misogyny, there was still so much I didn’t know about the depths of anger that these accounts draw from—so much, I suppose, I had the luxury of not knowing.

I didn’t know that, by the time they are preschoolers, children learn that boys can express their anger but that girls must suppress theirs. I didn’t know how much physical pain women endure in their lives, simply because they are women, and how frequently that pain is discounted, deemed “emotional.” I didn’t fully grasp how throughout our political history, principled rage has been lionized when emanating from men, but pathologized when coming from women, acceptable when it upholds women’s roles as nurturers, not when it serves their personal ambitions or collective aspirations.

And I didn’t quite realize that the #MeToo movement is not solely about revealing the pervasiveness of rape, assault and harassment, though it is accomplishing that. It’s also, as Rebecca Traister writes in her new book, a broader insurrection against gender inequality driven by “the righteous fury of the unrepresented” and, as Soraya Chemaly writes, an attack on “the injustice of having one’s social experience denied and hidden from communal understanding.”

To read long excerpts at Google Books from “Good and Mad,” click here and from “Rage Becomes Her” click here.

Traister’s “Good and Mad” and Chemaly’s “Rage Becomes Her” are two urgent, enlightening books that I hope will be read together, works that are well timed for this moment even as they transcend it, the kind of accounts often reviewed and discussed by women but that should certainly be read by men. Traister, whose columns on gender and power earned her a National Magazine Award this year, focuses on the political history of female anger. She spans the suffrage movement to the 2016 election to, of course, the #MeToo wrath now upending the casting couch, the anchor chair, the editor’s desk and nearly even the highest bench in the land. Chemaly, an activist with the Women’s Media Center, emphasizes the psychology and culture of female anger, mixing personal experience with reporting and academic research to show how that anger is deemed a transgression of gender norms, and how the pressure to dial it back—and not be labeled shrill or scolding or imperious or just plain crazy—only pisses women off further.

But more than anything, these two writers have come to praise female anger, as an emotion and a tool. Anger is a catalytic force for activism and organizing, they argue, a demand for accountability, a statement of rights and assertion of worth. It is also a vital form of communication, Traister explains, a way for women to find one another and realize that their frustrations are shared. “The expression of primal, agonizing anger that followed Trump’s election meant that for the first time, some women—even those who’d been living in proximity to one another for years—could hear one another.” Or as Chemaly puts it, “Anger isn’t what gets in our way—it is our way.”

With “Rage Becomes Her,” Chemaly offers a relentless catalog of the sources of female anger and the efforts to repress it. “As girls, we are not taught to acknowledge or manage our anger so much as fear, ignore, hide, and transform it,” she writes, and that lesson promotes accommodation and deference. Structural burdens such as the “caring mandate”—women’s enduring responsibilities for household chores, child care and elder care, regardless of whether they also work for pay—are “stressing us out and making us angry, sick and tired.” The daily risks women navigate are just a cost of living while female. “Sexual harassment and violence are so normalized among girls and women,” Chemaly writes, “that they don’t often consciously register them as abusive behaviors.”

Until, of course, they do. Traister recalls a public run-in she had in 2000 with Harvey Weinstein when, as a young reporter, she sought to interview him at a party and the producer jabbed his finger into her shoulder, called her a “c—” and, after her male colleague asked him to apologize, wrangled him into a headlock. Weinstein suffered no consequences, and press accounts of the episode minimized his offenses. Soon thereafter, Traister began hearing rumors about his behavior with women. “Among the reasons that I never really entertained the idea of reporting the story myself was that I had been shown so clearly that I could not have won against that kind of power,” she writes. Only years later, with the New York Times and New Yorker coverage of Weinstein’s pattern of predation and violence, “a Harvey-sized hole was blown in the American news cycle, and there was suddenly space and air for women to talk—to yell and scream and rage.”

That rage, both authors argue, is not only healthy but rational and productive. “We envision our emotions battling our reason because, after all, that’s what we are usually taught,” Chemaly writes. “The entire setup makes it easier for what you say to be portrayed as unreasonable.” One of Traister’s heroes is the late Florynce Kennedy, the lawyer, civil rights advocate and second-wave feminist who laced her activism with anger (“The next son of a bitch that touches a woman is gonna get kicked in the balls,” she warned male journalists at the 1972 Democratic National Convention) as well as biting humor (“Are you my alternative?” she would retort when men asked if she was a lesbian). Traister sees echoes of that attitude in today’s uprising, in her view a welcome evolution from the glossy, nonconfrontational, celebrity-driven, cool-girl feminism of the early 21st century, one in which Traister acknowledges her own stylistic complicity. “I’d absorbed the message that open anger was needlessly overdramatic and unattractive—that it would be too much, really—and I had worked to accommodate these assumptions, tempering my fury in my writing,” she writes. “So I was funny! And playful, cheeky, ironic, knowing!”

“Good and Mad” is neither cheeky nor playful. It is angry; the book embodies its own argument. Traister remains outraged by the “brutal masculinity” that prevailed in the 2016 election. She decries the “shrugging condescension” with which many dismissed the women’s marches following President Trump’s inauguration. She dwells on the “performative dickishness” that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell displayed when attempting to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s criticisms of Jeff Sessions’ civil rights record. (Nevertheless, you may recall, she persisted.) And though her book was completed too early to discuss Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Traister is incensed at the late senator Ted Kennedy for staying quiet during the 1991 confirmation hearing of Clarence Thomas—when an all-male Senate Judiciary Committee heard Anita Hill’s testimony—in part because of Kennedy’s own history with women.

In her insightful 2017 book, “Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny,” Cornell philosopher Kate Manne explores the notion of “himpathy,” the impulse to extend excessive sympathy to male wrongdoers over their female victims. Traister is especially harsh toward any women of the #MeToo era who dare stand up for powerful men accused of misconduct. “Women who are willing to defend white patriarchy and its abuses—usually women with proximity to powerful men and the chance to gain from it, and who are therefore themselves often white—have historically found reward from those powerful men, in the form of sexual or romantic attention, marital alliances, as well as jobs and stature, in exchange for their defense,” she writes, wielding a rather broad brush.

Elsewhere in her book, however, Traister is more understanding of women with differing views, arguing that any movement that campaigns for half the population is necessarily “an unwieldy enterprise, one that tries to represent fundamentally conflicting interests, divergent perspectives, and people from varied backgrounds who have lots of good reasons to distrust, resent, and disagree with one another.” It’s a more realistic and compelling vision, and doesn’t rely on large-scale questioning of motives.

Indeed, Traister eloquently highlights the challenge of blaming not just forces and systems, but individuals. “We must confront the fact that the bad guys are, in many cases, also our good guys: the men in our beds, our hearts, our families,” Traister writes. “They are our brothers and fathers and uncles and friends and lovers and husbands and roommates and sons.” She is tired of male acquaintances and colleagues coming to her for “feminist absolution” and describes others, including her husband, who had just never realized things were this bad. One night during the peak of the #MeToo onslaught, he asked her, “How can you even want to have sex with me at this point?”

I’ve not posed that question to my wife, at least not yet. After my enthusiasm for these books betrayed ignorance about various aspects of female life, she assured me that she didn’t think I was an idiot, resignation and sympathy mingling on her face.

If there was anger there, too, she knew how to hide it.

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Trump, Kavanaugh and the Path to Neoliberal Fascism

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Henry Giroux.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published on Salon

Even in the darkest of times we have the right to some illumination. —Hannah Arendt

The threads of a general political and ideological crisis run deep in American history, and with each tweet and policy decision Donald Trump pushes the United States closer to a full-fledged fascist state. His words sting, but his policies can kill people. Trump’s endless racist taunts, dehumanizing expressions of misogyny, relentless attacks on all provisions of the social state and ongoing contempt for the rule of law serve to normalize a creeping fascist politics. Moreover, his criminogenic disdain for any viable sense of civic and moral responsibility gives new meaning to an ethos of selfishness and a culture of cruelty, if not terror, that has run amok. Yet it is becoming more difficult for the mainstream media and pundits to talk about fascism as a looming threat in the United States in spite of the fact that, as Michelle Goldberg observes, for some groups, such as “undocumented immigrants, it’s already here.”

The smell of death is everywhere under this administration. The erosion of public values and the rule of law is now accompanied by a developing state of emergency with regards to a looming global environmental catastrophe. An ecological disaster due to human-caused climate change has accelerated under the Trump administration and appears imminent.Trump’s ongoing attempt to pollute the planet through his rollback of environmental protections will result in the deaths of thousands of children who suffer from asthma and other lung problems. Moreover, his privatized and punitive approach to health care will shorten the lives of millions of poor people, uninsured youth, undocumented immigrants, the unemployed and the elderly. His get-tough “law and order” policies will result in more police violence against blacks while his support for the arms industry, military budget and gun laws will accelerate the death of the marginalized both at home and abroad. Under the Trump regime all bets are off regarding the sustainability of democracy.

The appointment of Brett Kavanaugh, a right-wing ideologue, to the U.S. Supreme Court, in spite of allegations of sexually assaulting at least two women, further reveals both the dangerous politicization of the judicial nomination process and the authoritarian politics that now dominate American society. The control of the court by ideological fundamentalists has been a long-sought goal of Republican Party extremists. And now the American people, especially women, the poor and people of color, will pay a terrible price for Kavanaugh’s appointment. The Kavanaugh affair is a symptom of the deeper roots of a fascist politics at work in American society. Kavanaugh is not only a blatant symbol of a toxic masculinity, he is also emblematic of a boisterous and unchecked expression of ruling-class white privilege. This is especially true given the racist double standard that characterizes America’s justice system. As Amanda Klonsky put it in the Chicago Sun-Times:

Why does Judge Brett Kavanaugh, accused of sexual assault, feel entitled to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States, while my formerly incarcerated students — often jailed for crimes like battery from fistfights — are left unemployed, sometimes for life, banned from even the most entry-level work? That Kavanaugh is under consideration for appointment to the Supreme Court at all throws the racist double standard in our justice system into sharp relief. There is one standard of behavior for African-American and Latinx young people, who are harshly punished for crimes in adolescence, and quite another for wealthy white boys, who can be accused of sexual assault and still go on to be nominated to serve on the most important court in the world.

Kavanaugh perfectly aligns with Trump’s racism and his decisions on matters of civil rights and racial justice will more than likely further reproduce a long legacy of white racism and state violence in the United States. This is especially tragic and ominous given that Trump’s contempt for people of color appears boundless and legitimates the notion of whiteness as a site of terror. He slanders and humiliates black athletes, black women and any other person of color who calls him on his racism and white supremacist views. Moreover, his thuggery in support of police brutality and mass incarceration further accelerates the growth of a racialized carceral state.

Most recently, in a brutish and deeply troubling display of misogyny, Trump viciously mocked the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of a sexual assault. Drawing laughter and shouts from a crowd in Southaven, Mississippi, Trump went further, following up his vile remarks by stating that men were the real victims of the #MeToo movement because they were being unfairly accused of sexual harassment, and that many males would lose their jobs. It is hard to miss the irony of this statement coming from a man who has been accused of sexual misconduct by at least 22 women and has been caught on tape bragging about grabbing women by the crotch. What is worth noting here is not only his indifference to the shocking levels violence waged against women but also the degree to which misogyny has always been endemic to fascist politics.

While it is easy for the mainstream press to go after those politicians who remain silent in the face of Trump’s sexism and racism, there is little interest in situating his misogyny and white supremacy within a neoliberal fascist politics that is aligned with neo-Nazis, white nationalists and other militant groups who argue for racial cleansing and increasingly commit violent acts against people of color who oppose their views. Trump’s politics are endlessly whitewashed in the mainstream media, which too often views his policy decisions more as the infantilized outbursts of an impetuous tweeting teenage bully rather than as a shock and threat to the laws and values that constitute a democracy currently in peril. The mainstream press argues that Trump’s rhetoric is divisive, humiliating and hateful, but rarely is it associated with the rhetoric of fascist politics or for that matter with the power of moneyed interests of the financial elite.

This evasion is all the more frightening since Trump, not to mention most of his critics, seem unaware of the accumulated terror unleashed by past fascists. Trump appears reckless when implementing policies that echo faintly the genocidal practices used by Nazis in their concentration camps, such as separating children from their undocumented parents and putting both in caged prisons. While Trump has not gassed tens of thousands of children as Hitler did, putting children in cages suggests crossing a moral and political line that opens the door to even more extreme forms of barbarism. –At the same time, his anti-democratic proclivities are on display almost every day. For instance, Trump’s open infatuation with demagogues such as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un is matched only by his consistent vilification of America’s democratic allies. One clear cut example is his ludicrous claim that trade wars with Canada are justified because Canada represents a threat to America’s national security. The latter is uttered at the same time that Trump calls Kim Jong-un terrific.

Trump has not only normalized racism in the United States and given new legitimacy to the hate filled rants and ideologies of neo-Nazis and white nationalists, he has deepened the crisis of democracy by elevating emotion over reason and turning civic illiteracy into a virtue. Ignorance turns deadly when embraced by the powerful and removed from any notion of the material consequences it has for those who have to suffer from a practices of abandonment, terminal exclusion, and state violence.

State-sanctioned ignorance is more than fodder for late night comedy shows, it also provides the psychological conditions for certain individuals and groups to associate “pollution” and disposability with what Richard A. Etlin calls “a biologically racialist worldview, which divides the human race according to the dichotomy of the pure and impure, the life-enhancing and the life-polluting.” This is a language mobilized by the energies of the ethically dead, and echoes strongly with the anti-Semitism that was at the center of the genocidal policies of the Third Reich. This poisonous anti-Semitic discourse has returned with a vengeance in Hungary, Poland and a number of other countries now moving towards fascism. It is also surfacing among alt-right and other neo-Nazi groups in the United States. Unsurprisingly, there are also coded hints of it in Trump’s language. Trump is more careful with his displays of anti-Semitism, especially given the uproar that followed his comments stating that there were decent people marching with neo-Nazis in Charlottesville.

One of the most revealingly ideological comments made by Trump during the Kavanaugh affair was contained in a tweet aimed at the women who had confronted Sen. Jeff Flake and other Republican senators over their support for Kavanaugh. Trump stated that “the very rude elevator screamers are paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad. Don’t fall for it. Also, look at all the professional made identical signs. Paid for by Soros and others. These are not signs made in the basement from love.”

Trump exposed more than the level of political corruption and hatred of women that now defines American politics, he also appropriated an anti-Semitic discourse to discredit both the women to whom he is referring and dissent in general. Many conservative pundits and commentators have also followed Trump’s lead and claimed that protesters were paid by George Soros. This display of anti-Semitism directed at Soros is not new for Trump. As Greg Sargent pointed out in the Washington Post, this vile piece of anti-Semitism directed at Soros played a “starring role in Trump’s 2016 closing ad, which was the perfect expression of this type of exclusionary populist demagoguery.” Not only do Trump’s comments and the earlier ad mirror anti-Semitic propaganda from the 1930s, it also legitimates the vicious attacks on Soros in a number of Eastern European countries, including Poland, Romania and Serbia. But it is President Viktor Orbán of Hungary who is leading the pack in his attack on Soros as part of a larger attack on Jews.

Trump’s coded endorsement of Orbán’s attack on Jews, whom he appears to blame for all of Hungary’s problems, is particularly repellent given its viciousness and the horrors of the past it echoes. For instance, recalling the genocidal rhetoric aimed at Jews in the past by the Nazis, Orban commemorated the 170th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 by stating the following (without mentioning Jews directly):

They do not fight directly, but by stealth; they are not honorable, but unprincipled; they are not national, but international; they do not believe in work, but speculate with money; they have no homeland, but feel the whole world is theirs. They are not generous but vengeful and always attack the heart — especially if it is red, white and green [the colors of the Hungarian flag].

Prior to the recent election in Hungary, Orbán plastered images of George Soros throughout the country. Soros is both a Hungarian citizen and a Jew, and was a perfect symbol for Orbán to vilify in his efforts to take over the country. Soros is dangerous to Orbán because of his promotion of the open society, open borders, cosmopolitanism, human rights and democracy. That he is Jewish made it easier for Orbán to attack him personally without having to openly express his hatred of democracy.

That Trump would use a reference taken out of the poisonous playbook of this fascist leader is both revealing and dangerous. Not only because such rhetoric indexes a fascist politics and the potential dangers that follow, but also because of the silence that surrounded Trump’s reference to Soros, with all of its toxic implications. Even if Trump is not consciously anti-Semitic, he should know better since, as journalist Ron Kampeas points out, his comments traffic “in conspiracies of control and destruction identified with classical anti-Semitism.” Trump’s consistently coded support for an ideology embraced by neo-Nazis and other white nationalists is not new. It is the discourse of blood and soil that propelled an emotionally charged language of hate, reification, dehumanization and eventually mass murder. Forgetting this history is less an act of historical ignorance than a complicitous practice of reviving the conditions that give birth to the horrors of the past.

Trump’s defenders might argue that Trump is not an anti-Semite because two of his former lawyers were Jewish — Roy Cohn and Michael Cohen. Moreover, his daughter converted to Judaism. This may be true, and Trump may just be so stupid to know and not to care when he is producing an anti-Semitic stereotype, and so ignorant of history that he can’t put together the threat of rising anti-Semitism in Europe and the history of genocide that it produced. But if we are to believe writers such as Michael Wolff and Bob Woodward who have chronicled the post-2016 chaos in the White House that Trump has overt white supremacists such as Stephen Miller making decisions for him, the Kavanaugh hearings may signal a danger that far exceeds the misogyny and Vichy-type silence revealed by the spineless Republican Party and the Trump administration.

Mitch McConnell and the other gravediggers of democracy in the Congress could care less about Trump’s crude language, governing style, character or potential revelations of criminal acts. They have no qualms or reservations about supporting a fascist politics as long as they get what they want from their alliance with the racists, xenophobic ultra-nationalists and white nationalists. According to historian Christopher R. Browning, the Republican Party, in particular has received a big payoff in selling its soul to Trump’s worldview:

[H]uge tax cuts for the wealthy, financial and environmental deregulation, the nominations of two conservative Supreme Court justices (so far) and a host of other conservative judicial appointments, and a significant reduction in government-sponsored health care (though not yet the total abolition of Obamacare they hope for). Like Hitler’s conservative allies, McConnell and the Republicans have prided themselves on the early returns on their investment in Trump.

The Kavanaugh appointment exposes more than what commentators such as Robert Reich and historians such as Timothy Snyder view as alarming and frightening parallels between the United States and Hitler’s regime, or what the Yale historian Jason Stanley calls an accelerating fascist politics. Their analyses seem overly cautious. There is little doubt that Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court is an abomination not only because of his alleged sexual assaults, but his equally revealing and right-wing ideological rant against the left, Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party during his Senate hearing. More ominous, when comprehended within the context of an emerging fascist politics, is the recognition that his appointment is part of a broader effort on the part of the Trump administration to radically modify the rule of law and individual rights, further depriving them of any meaning and cutting them off from any viable humanitarian standards.

We are in the midst of an American version of fascism, which is not to suggest a fascism modeled exclusively after Nazi Germany. Fascist rhetoric has become normalized in the United States, white terror is no longer coded, and ultra-nationalism has merged into a love affair between the U.S. and a host of ruthless dictators. Of course the U.S. has a long tradition of civil liberties but it also has a long tradition of lawlessness, and the latter is now winning out. It thrives under the guise of a neoliberalism that has fueled for the past 40 years vast inequalities in wealth and power, producing a level of political and economic corruption that signals not just a hatred of democracy, but a unique style of American fascism.

The Kavanaugh hearings should serve to remind us that we live in increasingly dangerous times. It is important to remember that fascism begins not with violence, police assaults or mass killings, but with language. Not only have we learned this from the rise of fascism in the 1930s in Europe but also in the current historical moment — a moment in which lawlessness, misogyny, white nationalism and racism are resurgent all over the globe. If fascism begins with language so does a strong resistance willing to challenge it.

This is all the more reason for individuals, institutions, labor unions, educators, young people and others not to be silent in the face of the current fascist turn in the United States and elsewhere. In the face of the hatred, racism, misogyny and deceit that have become part of a state-sanctioned public dialogue, no one can afford to look away, fail to speak out, and risk silence. This is especially true at a time when history is used to hide rather than illuminate the past, when it becomes difficult to translate private issues into larger systemic considerations and people willingly allow themselves to be both seduced and trapped into spectacles of violence, cruelty and authoritarian impulses. Under such circumstances, the terror of the unforeseen becomes all the more ominous.

Any viable notion of change will have to reject the notion that capitalism and democracy are synonymous and that participatory democracy begins and ends with elections. Doing so is crucial to undoing the myth that political power is separate from economic power — a myth that upholds the false assumption that whatever problems currently exist under the Trump administration are endemic to Trump’s alleged mental health, ignorance and other character flaws. In actuality, the fascist politics now shaping the United States have been in the making for decades and are systemic to neoliberal capitalism and deeply entwined with iniquitous relations of power. Rob Urie illuminates the issue, particularly in relation to class divisions. He writes:

The class relations of American political economy are antithetical to the notion of a unified public interest. The point isn’t to suggest that this or that authoritarian leader isn’t authoritarian, but rather to sketch in the political backdrop to argue that the lived experience of social, economic and political repression is lived experience, not academic theories or bourgeois fantasies. The circumstances of investment bankers stripping assets, industrialists relocating factories built by workers to low-wage locations and tech ‘pioneers’ using licenses and patents to extract economic rents is systemically ‘authoritarian’ in the sense that democratic consent to do so was neither sought nor given.

It is time for a broad-based social movement to reject finance capitalism, embrace education as central to a politics willing to fight to persuade people to reclaim their sense of agency and push at the frontiers of the ethical imagination, connect what they learn to addressing social issues, taking risks and challenging the destructive narratives that are seeping into the public realm and becoming normalized. Any dissatisfaction with injustice necessitates combining the demands of moral witnessing with the pedagogical power of persuasion and the call to address the tasks of emancipation. We need individuals and social movements willing to disturb the normalization of a fascist politics, and to oppose racist, sexist and neoliberal orthodoxy. As Robin D.G. Kelley observes, we cannot confuse catharsis and momentary outrage for revolution. In a time of increasing tyranny, resistance appears to have lost its usefulness as a call to action.

For instance, the novelist Teju Cole has argued that “‘resistance’ is back in vogue, and it describes something rather different now. The holy word has become unexceptional. Faced with a vulgar, manic and cruel regime, birds of many different feathers are eager to proclaim themselves members of the Resistance. It is the most popular game in town.” Cole’s critique appears to be borne out by the fact that the most unscrupulous of liberal and conservative politicians, such as Madeline Albright, Hillary Clinton and even James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, are now claiming that they have joined the resistance against Trump fascist politics.

Even Michael Hayden, the former NSA chief and CIA director under George W. Bush, has joined the ranks of Albright and Clinton in condemning Trump as a proto-fascist. Writing in the New York Times,Hayden chastised Trump as a serial liar and in doing so quoted the renowned historian Timothy Snyder, who stated in reference to the Trump regime that “Post-Truth is pre-fascism.” The irony here is hard to miss. Not only did Hayden head Bush’s illegal National Security Agency warrantless wiretapping program while head of the NSA, he also lied repeatedly about his role in Bush’s sanction and implementation of state torture in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This tsunami of banal resistance was on full display when an anonymous member of the Trump’s inner circle published an op-ed in the New York Times claiming that he or she and other senior officials were part of “the resistance within the Trump administration.” The author was quick to qualify the statement by insisting such resistance had nothing to do with “the popular ‘resistance’ of the left.” To prove the point, it was noted by the author that the members of this insider resistance liked some of Trump’s policies such as “effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more.” Combining resistance with the endorsements of such reactionary policies reads like fodder for late-night comics.

The Democratic Party now defines itself as the most powerful political force opposing Trump’s fascist politics. What it has forgotten is the role it has played under the Clinton and Obama presidencies in creating the economic, political and social conditions for Trump’s election in 2016. Such historical and political amnesia allows them to make the specious claim that they are now the party of resistance. Resistance in these instances has little to do with civic courage, a defense of human dignity, and the willingness to not just bear witness to the current injustices but to struggle to overcome them. Of course, the issue is not to disavow resistance as much as to redefine it as inseparable from fundamental change that calls for the overthrow of capitalism itself.

While the call to resist neoliberal fascism is to be welcomed, it has to be interrogated and not aligned with individuals and ideological forces that helped put in place the racist, economic, religious and educational forces that helped produce it. What all of these calls to resistance have in common is a opposition to Trump rather than to the conditions that created him. Trump’s election and the Kavanaugh affair make clear that what is needed is not only a resistance to the established order of neoliberal capitalism but a radical restructuring of society itself. That is not about resisting oppression in its diverse forms but overcoming it — in short, changing it.

While it is crucial to condemn the Kavanaugh hearings for their blatant disregard for the Constitution, expressed hatred of women, and symbolic expression and embrace of white privilege and power, it is necessary to enlarge our criticism to include the system that made the Kavanaugh appointment possible. Kavanaugh represents not only the deep-seated rot of misogyny but also, as Grace Lee Boggs has stated, “a government of, by, and for corporate power.” We need to see beyond the white nationalists and neo-Nazis demonstrating in the streets in order to recognize the terror of the unforeseen, the terror that is state sanctioned, and hides in the shadows of power.

Such a struggle means more than engaging material relations of power or the economic architecture of neoliberal fascism, it also means taking on the challenge of producing the tools and tactics necessary to rethink and create the conditions for a new kind of subjectivity as the basis for a new kind of democratic socialist politics. We need a comprehensive politics that brings together various single-interest movements so that the threads that connect them become equally as important as the particular forms of oppression that define their singularity. In addition, we need intellectuals willing to combine intellectual complexity with clarity and accessibility, embrace the high-stakes investment in persuasion, and cross disciplinary borders in order to theorize and speak with what Rob Nixon calls the “cunning of lightness” and a “methodological promiscuity” that keeps language attuned to the pressing claims for justice.

Trump has surfaced the dire anti-democratic threats that have been expanding under an economic system stripped of any political, social and ethical responsibility. This is a form of neoliberal fascism that has redrawn and expanded the parameters of what after the genocidal practices and hate-filled politics of the 1930s and 40s in Europe was once thought impossible to happen again. The threat has returned and is now on our doorsteps, and it needs to be named, exposed, and overcome by those who believe that the stakes are much too high to look away and not engage in organized political and pedagogical struggles.

***

Hannah Arendt once wrote that terror was the essence of totalitarianism. She was right and we are now witnessing the dystopian visions of the new authoritarians who now trade in fear, hatred, demonization, violence and racism. This will be Trump’s legacy. It is easy to despair in times of tyranny, but it is much more productive to be politically and morally outraged and to draw upon such anger as a source of hope and action. Without hope even in the most dire of times, there is no possibility for resistance, dissent and struggle.

A critical consciousness is the prerequisite for informed agency and hope is the basis for individual and collective resistance. Moreover, when combined with collective action, hope translates into a dynamic sense of possibility, enabling one to join with others for the long haul of fighting systemic forms of domination. Courage in the face of tyranny is a necessity and not an option and we can learn both from the past and the present about resistance movements and the power of civic courage and collective struggle and how such modes of resistance are emerging among a number of groups across a wide variety of landscapes.

What is crucial is the necessity of not facing such struggles alone, allowing ourselves to feel defeated in our isolation or giving in to the crippling neoliberal survival-of-the-fittest ethos that dominates everyday relations. Radical politics begins when one refuses to face one’s fate alone, learns about the workings and mechanisms of power, and rejects the dominant mantra of social isolation.

There is strength in numbers. One of the most important things we can do to sustain a sense of courage and dignity is to imagine a new social order. That is, we must constantly work to revive a radical political imaginary by talking with others in order to rethink what a new politics and society would look like, one that is fundamentally anti-capitalist and dedicated to creating the conditions for new democratic political and social formations. This suggests creating new public spheres that make such a dialogue and notion of solidarity possible while simultaneously struggling against the forces that gave rise to Trump, particularly those that suggest that totalitarian forms are still with us.

As I have stressed, rethinking politics anew also suggests the possibility of building broad-based alliances in order to create a robust economic and political agenda that connects democracy with a serious effort to interrogate the sources and structures of inequality, racism and authoritarianism that now plague the United States. This points to opening up new lines of understanding, dialogue and radical empathy. It means, as the philosopher George Yancy suggests, learning “how to love with courage.”

A nonviolent movement for democratic socialism does not need vanguards, political purity or the seductions of ideological orthodoxy. On the contrary, it needs an informed and energized politics without guarantees, one that is open to new ideas, self-reflection and understanding. Instead of ideologies of certainty, unchecked moralism and a politics of shaming, we need to understand the conditions that make it possible for people to internalize forms of domination, and that means interrogating forgotten histories and existing pedagogies of oppression. Recent polls indicate that two-thirds of Americans say this is the lowest point in American politics that they can recall. Such despair offers the possibility of a pedagogical intervention, one that provides a political opening to create a massive movement for organized struggle in the United States.

Rebecca Solnit has rightly argued that while we live in an age of despair, hope is a gift we that we cannot surrender because it amplifies the power of alternative visions, offers up stories in which we can imagine the unimaginable, enables people to “move from depression to outrage,” and positions people to take seriously what they are for and what they are against. This suggests trying to understand how the very processes of learning constitute the political mechanisms through which identities — individual and collective — are shaped, desired, mobilized and take on the worldly practices of autonomy, self-reflection and self-determination as part of a larger struggle for economic and social justice.

First, it is crucial to develop a language in which it becomes possible to imagine a future much different from the present, one that refuses to privatize hope with a crude individualism. Second, it is crucial to develop a discourse of critique and possibility that rejects the ongoing normalizing of existing relations of domination and control while simultaneously repudiating the notion that capitalism and democracy are synonymous. It would be wise to heed the words of the late science-fiction visionary Ursula K. Le Guin when she wrote, “We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Nay, human power can be resisted and changed by human beings.”

Third, it is imperative to reject the notion that all problems are individual issues and can only be solved as a matter of individual action and responsibility. This is one of neoliberalism’s most powerful ideological tenets, working to make the personal the only politics that matters while detaching private troubles from the wider world. All three of these assumptions serve to depoliticize people and erase both what it means to make power visible and to organize collectively to address such problem. Fourth, there is a need, I believe, for a discourse that is both historical, relational and comprehensive. Memory matters both in terms of reclaiming lost narratives of struggle and for assessing visions, strategies and tactics that still hold enormous possibilities in the present.

Developing a relational discourse means connecting the dots around issues that are often viewed in isolated terms. For instance, one cannot study the attack on public schools and higher education as sutured internal issues that focus exclusively on the teaching methods and strategies. What is needed are analyses that link such attacks to the broader issue of inequality, the dynamics of casino capitalism and the pervasive racism active in promoting new forms of segregation both within and outside of schools.

A comprehensive politics is one that does at least two things. On the one hand, it tries to understand a plethora of problems from massive poverty to the despoiling of the planet within a broader understanding of politics. That is, it connects the dots among diverse forms of oppression. In this instance, the focus is on the totality of politics, one that focuses on the power relations of global capitalism, the rise of illiberal democracy, the archives of authoritarianism and the rise of financial capital. A totalizing view of oppression allows the development of a language that is capable of making visible the ideological and structural forces of the new forms of domination at work in the United States and across the globe. On the other hand, such a comprehensive understanding of politics makes it possible to bring together a range of crucial issues and movements so as to expand the range of oppressions while at the same time providing a common ground for these diverse groups to be able to work together in the interest of the common good and a broad struggle for democratic socialism.

Finally, any viable language of emancipation needs to develop a discourse of what Ron Aronson calls social hope. He writes:

Social hope, the disposition to act collectively to change a situation, entails that we act not blindly but with a sense of possibility. The cold stream demands that we prepare ourselves and assess the conditions under which we are operating. The hope of social movements calls for objective, clearheaded organization and action, and an appreciation of the circumstances in which we may be successful. This realistic stream of hope mingles with the visionary stream that motivates us; without both, there is no hope. Hope uniquely combines our longing, our own real intention, and our sense of potency with real possibility, the subjective and the objective.

Aronson is right in arguing that naming what is wrong in a society is important but it is not enough, because such criticism can sometimes be overpowering and lead to a paralyzing despair or, even worse, a crippling cynicism. Hope speaks to imagining a life beyond capitalism, and combines a realistic sense of limits with a lofty vision of demanding the impossible. As Ariel Dorfman has argued, progressives need a language that is missing from our political vocabulary, one that insists that “alternative worlds are possible, that they are within reach if we’re courageous enough, and smart enough, and daring enough to take control of our own lives.” Reason, justice, and change cannot blossom without hope because educated hope taps into our deepest experiences and longing for a life of dignity with others, a life in which it becomes possible to imagine a future that does not mimic the present.

I am not referring to a romanticized and empty notion of hope, but to a notion of informed social hope that faces the concrete obstacles and realities of domination but continues the ongoing task of realizing a future in which matters of justice, equality, freedom and joy matter. Casino capitalism is a toxin that has created a predatory class of unethical zombies who are producing dead zones of the imagination and massive ecologies of immiseration that even George Orwell could not have envisioned, while waging a fierce fight against the possibilities of a democratic future.

The time has come to develop a political language in which civic values, social responsibility and the institutions that support them become central to invigorating and fortifying a new era of civic imagination, a renewed sense of social agency and an impassioned international social movement with a vision, organization and set of strategies to challenge the neoliberal nightmare engulfing the planet. Such a strategy would have to revive the radical imagination and the task of thinking about a future without capitalism and oppression; launch a comprehensive education program to provide alternative narratives, memories and histories that enable the capacities for informed judgment, ethical responsibilities and civic courage; and last but not least create those alternative public spheres where a new conversation can be opened up about the creation of a new progressive and socialist political formation. As Karl Marx said, there is nothing to lose but our chains.

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Why the Kavanaugh Confirmation Has Shaken Me

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Carol A. Wells.

I was sexually assaulted when I was a teenager.

I was lucky, I got away.

I don’t remember the date…or even the year.

I went home that night but have no idea how I got there.

I never told my parents.

I don’t remember the man’s name.

I never reported it to authorities.

But I can describe the office where he assaulted me.  I remember where the desk was in relationship to the door because I kept staring at the door, willing for someone to knock. I remember the beautiful Persian miniatures hanging on the wall—he had spent time explaining them to me. I remember trying to rub my mouth off my face after I managed to escape. I remember my terror.

I was a Freshman or Sophomore at UCLA, and a reporter for the Daily Bruin, the student newspaper.  It was sometime between 1963 and 1965.   I could look up the year because the Shah of Iran was coming to UCLA—I think to receive an honorary degree—and many students were planning to protest. But I don’t want to make the memories any clearer than they still are after all these years. I was assigned to interview a visiting professor from Iran and report on his thoughts about the Shah and the planned protests.  The professor attacked me in his office, he pushed me onto his desk.

After the attack I told several friends who helped me deal with it emotionally.  None of them suggested going to the authorities.  This was more than 50 years ago. Sexual harassment wasn’t a term. #MeToo didn’t exist.  But I am outraged after listening to the ridicule and mockery that Trump and his supporters are leveling at Dr. Christine Blasey Ford because:

“She doesn’t remember when it happened.”

“She doesn’t’ remember how she got home.”

“She never told her parents.”

All of those charges can apply to me.  But it happened. Outrage is too mild a term for what I am feeling. I cannot stay silent.

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On the Anniversary of #MeToo, a Look at Our Best Reports

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Truthdig.

Friday marks a year since a New York Times piece about Hollywood heavyweight Harvey Weinstein sparked a viral movement against sexual violence in its many forms. In honor of the milestone, Truthdig has rounded up some of its best original reports on the subject by columnists Sonali Kolhatkar, Kasia Anderson, Natasha Hakimi Zapata, Emily Wells and more. Click on the hyperlinked headline in the following list to read the full article.

Turning #MeToo Into a Movement for Gender Justice

Heads have fallen aplenty, but what will it take to channel this sea change into a lasting cultural shift?

#MeToo Creating a Slow but Steady Sea Change (Audio)

Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer sits down with professor and media expert Mary Murphy to discuss the #MeToo movement and her thoughts on the future of journalism.

It’s the Patriarchy, Stupid

Over and over, men like Harvey Weinstein and Matt Damon miss the larger point about the #MeToo movement.

I’ll Vouch for It: James Toback Is Capable of Sexual Harassment

Sixteen years ago, I had a professional encounter with “The Pick-up Artist” director that gives me reason to believe the women now accusing him.

How Should Journalists Report on the #MeToo Movement?

We have an obligation to listen—then report with nuance, attention and scrutiny.

Tony Robbins, Women See Who You Are

Your unprocessed anger was on full display in your behavior toward a woman who challenged your criticism of the #MeToo movement.

From #MeToo to #WeToo

Sexual harassment of women by men is an act of retaliation, but now the foundation of patriarchal dominance may be crumbling.

Why Some of Us Hesitated to Say #MeToo

To speak out on the issue of male power abuse, many women must leap into a personal reservoir of pain.

Sanders Wants a ‘Revolution’ in How We Treat Women

Known for campaigning for a political revolution in 2016, Bernie Sanders is now calling for a cultural one.

Beyond #MeToo and #IBelieveYou

If we really want to make our society safer, we must acknowledge the subtle ways we maintain a culture that disempowers women.

In the Era of #MeToo, Will Trump’s Accusers Finally Be Heard?

The GOP leadership should be called out on its hypocrisy in believing Roy Moore’s accusers—but not President Trump’s.

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Study: Survivors of Sexual Assault Experience Real Health Consequences

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Naomi LaChance.

A study published Wednesday suggests sexual harassment and assault can have extended health consequences, including depression, anxiety, poor sleep and high blood pressure.

Among 304 women ages 40 to 60, 19 percent told the researchers they had experienced workplace sexual harassment, 22 percent said they had experienced sexual assault and 10 percent said they experienced both.

Those who had experienced harassment were twice as likely to have high blood pressure and poor sleep, according to the research, which was published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Those who had experienced sexual assault were three times as likely to show symptoms of depression and twice as likely to have anxiety. Women who said they survived a sexual assault also experienced poor sleep.

Insomnia, depression and anxiety have been shown in turn to have negative health implications. High blood pressure can lead to cardiovascular disease, a top cause of death among women.

Rebecca Thurston, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh and the lead author on the study, said predatory behavior can cast a long shadow. “Experiencing sexual harassment and/or assault not only has implications for your quality of life, social functioning and job performance, but also for your mental and physical health,” she said.

The researchers also examined the women’s socioeconomic status and level of education, finding that women who reported being sexually harassed were both highly educated and under financial duress:

<blockquote>Financially stressed women can lack the financial security to leave abusive work situations. Why more highly educated women in the present study were more likely to be harassed is unclear; these women may more often be employed in male-dominated settings, be more knowledgeable about what constitutes sexual harassment, or be perceived as threatening; sexual harassment is an assertion of hierarchical power relations.</blockquote>

This is not the first research into the correlation between sexual violence and health, although it makes an attempt to differentiate itself from past research by relying less on self-reporting and more on hard medical data.

A British study published in June found that four in five teenage girls who experienced sexual assault, many of whom were living in poverty, had depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder four to five months after the assault. A study published in 2012 established a link between women who experienced intimate partner violence and high blood pressure. A 2008 study that looked at low-income workplace abuse also found a correlation between women who had experienced sexual harassment and high blood pressure.

While women are often encouraged to move on emotionally from traumatic experiences, this research shows that sexual assault and harassment should be taken seriously by medical professionals—and everyone else.

“These are often events from long ago, but they are clinically important right now,” said JoAnn Pinkerton, executive director of the North American Menopause Society.

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We Need to Talk About Masculinity

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by By Jill Richardson / OtherWords.

When we discuss sexual assault, we often talk about women. What should women do to stay safe?

When I was in school, girls were even trained in women’s self-defense. I don’t know what the boys did during those time periods. Study hall?

Ask any woman what she does to prevent sexual assault and she’ll have an answer. She uses the buddy system when walking at night, or she carries pepper spray, or she doesn’t leave her drink unattended when she’s out, and so on.

We look out for one another. In college I had a friend with an alcohol problem. We’d babysit her or take her home to keep her safe if she drank too much, to keep her from getting assaulted.

Ask a man what he does to keep himself from getting assaulted. At most, you’ll get a “don’t drop the soap” joke.

I think we need to change the discussion. Let’s talk about masculinity. Actually, gender scholars talk about masculinities, plural.

Men express their gender identities in a variety of ways. Some believe that “being a man” requires honesty, courage, hard work, and competence. Others express masculinity through physical prowess, toughness, and daring.

And some think it means sexual prowess with women.

Many gender scholars say that gender is something you do, not something you are. Your gender expression is something you achieve.

When men or boys express emotions other than anger, show vulnerability, or do anything that can be remotely construed as “feminine,” they’re linguistically kicked out of manhood, told to “man up” or “grow a pair.”

I saw my father socializing my brother into his future role as a man from a very young age. If my brother cried or expressed any weakness, my father told him to “be a tough hombre.” My brother suffered from severe anxiety and probably PTSD. He didn’t need to be told to man up. He needed hugs, empathy, love, and therapy.

For straight men who emphasize the performance of sexual prowess, sex with women is necessary to achieving masculinity—and women saying no puts a roadblock in their path to being a man. For these men, it’s inconvenient that they don’t have carte blanche access to our bodies.

It doesn’t help that vulnerability is “unmanly,” or that we socialize men to repress their emotions instead of feeling them, because those are necessary ingredients in a healthy intimate relationship.

Obviously, this doesn’t characterize all men. However, the pressure on men to achieve masculinity through sexual prowess, devoid of any emotional vulnerability or empathy, serves to create a toxic culture in which some men believe they have a right to women’s bodies.

So when women deny them access to their bodies, some men take it by force.

In fact, a Five Thirty Eight review of recent studies suggested that this kind of toxic masculinity, more so than alcohol, is what leads to sexual assault.

Maybe if we raised men to feel their full range of emotions, to feel confident in their manhood without violating women, and to respect the boundaries of others, we wouldn’t have to teach women to use the buddy system and watch their drinks.

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One Man Could End World Hunger, but He Won’t

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Lee Camp.

I do not want to talk about Jeff Bezos.

But in order to not talk about Jeff Bezos, I have to talk about Jeff Bezos.

We all know the Lex Luthor-looking head of Amazon is the richest human in the world.

He’s achieved a net worth of more than $150 billion by selling everything that has ever existed … with free shipping. (It turns out the only thing stopping the human race from giving all our money to one man was that pesky $4.99 shipping fee.)

But let me stop right here. Even the way we talk about economics is influenced by a capitalist culture that tells us amassing money is the answer to everything. Did you notice I said Bezos “achieved” a net worth of $150 billion, and that seems like a normal way to phrase it? However, would you say, “Jeffrey Dahmer achieved eating the hearts of 10 different people?” No, that would sound odd to you. Yet having $150 billion is nearly as sociopathic, and still we use terminology as if it’s GREAT!

But, like I said, this column is not about Jeff Bezos. It’s about clean water.

Clean water is one of the most important things to anyone and everyone (second only to nacho cheese). Yet millions around the world don’t have clean water or struggle to get it. A report by the U.N. “estimated that 300 million people on the continent [of Africa], more than a third of the population, have no fixed supply [of clean water].” And 6 billion lack proper sanitation. The CDC says 2,200 children die a day from diarrheal diseases—mostly from unclean water.

Millions of people in total die each year from a lack of clean water. So how much would it cost to change that? It would cost $10 billion a year to bring pure water to the entire world.

Jeff Bezos himself could provide the world with clean water for the next 15 years.

He could save millions upon millions of lives. But instead of doing that, he will continue to enrich himself by delivering sex toys in a box with a smiley on it.

But this is not about Jeff Bezos. It’s about world hunger. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty while the U.N. in 2015 estimated it would cost $30 billion a year to end world hunger. Imagine—not a soul hungry! And big shock—when people aren’t hungry, there’s less crime, less hatred, better decision-making, and so forth. Hunger correlates with all kinds of shitty stuff, which means we all benefit when there’s no hunger. Think about it; you probably have coworkers who miss lunch and start spraying hate crimes around the office. Then you have to say, “Leslie, I think if you just had a taco, you would stop using the C-word so much.” Now imagine Leslie on a global scale.

Jeff Bezos himself could end world hunger for five straight years. If he teamed up with the Koch brothers, they could do it for eight to 10 years.

But Bezos wouldn’t do that. Instead, he’ll just make billions convincing people to put Amazon Echo spy systems into their own homes.

This column is not about Jeff Bezos. It’s about Flint, Mich.

You remember how upset we were about Flint’s water? It was poisoned with lead. It was destroying lives of people who were already poor to begin with. Then the authorities came to the conclusion it would cost $216 million to fix, and everyone was aghast. That’s an insane amount of money. How could ANY city afford that?!

Jeff Bezos could pay to repair Flint’s water supply 694 times over.

He could pay for it 690 times over and still have 864 million dollars left to pay for a cast of people to dance around him dressed like wood sprites and sprinkle glitter on his shining bald head for the rest of his fucking life. (So don’t say he wouldn’t be happy.)

But this column is not about Jeff Bezos. It’s about homelessness.

There are 554,000 homeless people in the U.S., one of the richest countries in the world. What would it cost to give each of these struggling people his or her own apartment? Recent numbers show the cheapest apartments to rent in America are in Wichita, Kan. (because why would ya? … unless you were heavily invested in grasshoppers). In Wichita an apartment costs $632 per month. (In San Francisco that’s the cost of the monthly utility bill for a dog house.) So $632 per month amounts to $7,584 per year. Therefore, the total cost to give every American houseless person an apartment in Wichita would be $4.2 billion.

Jeff Bezos could give every homeless person their own apartment for the next 36 YEARS.

This is one man we’re talking about! But Jeff Bezos would never do that. He’d rather push a bag of 3,000 live ladybugs on someone actually searching Amazon for “Lady Bugs” the Rodney Dangerfield film (which was apparently intended as a children’s movie, but now seems like a guidebook for how to become a #MeToo predator).

But this column is not about Jeff Bezos. It’s about education.

When people go to college without coming out stuck under immense debt, it often changes their whole lives. They can get better jobs, eat healthier, provide for their family. “According to the American Association of Community Colleges,” this source says, “the average yearly cost of tuition and fees for community college students in the U.S. is $3,347. …” It usually takes two years to graduate from community college, so the cost for two years is $6,694.

Jeff Bezos could pay for the entire community college education of 22.4 million students.

That’s more than the entire number of college students enrolled this year across our country. Of course you’d have to pay for your own beer bongs, posters of John Belushi in the “college” sweater, macaroni stuck to the floor and pregnancy tests. (But I know a guy who can get you a homemade pregnancy test for 35 cents. It’s made out of alkaline batteries and sawdust, but it’ll spot a freakin’ baby a mile away.)

However, this column is not about Jeff Bezos. It’s about the system that created Bezos.

If you removed Bezos from Amazon tomorrow and vacuumed all his money away, he would be replaced by another sick hoarder of egregious wealth. This is because we have a deathly ill economic system. Think about it this way—the goals of our economy (and any economy),

  • Pursuit of abundance (all people’s basic needs are met)
  • Sustainability (can the system keep going forever)
  • Liberation of humanity from hard and dangerous labor (nobody doing jobs they hate)
  • Adaptation to emerging technologies and variables

Makes sense—we should seek a sustainable system where nobody is dying or miserable. Here’s the problem—unfettered capitalism doesn’t even claim to be ATTEMPTING any of that. Our economy’s mission statement is basically to “… preserve inefficiency for the sake of monetary circulation, economic growth and power preservation.”

Profit over all else. It doesn’t matter how many people die or work at an Amazon warehouse for pennies. Does. Not. Matter. So it’s not that capitalism is failing in this new Gilded Age. Rather, capitalism is succeeding at what it was meant to do: amass all the money in a tiny number of hands and exploit everyone else.

That’s what this column is about.

If you think this column is important, please share it. This column is based on a segment performed and written by Lee Camp for his TV show “Redacted Tonight.” Also, check out Lee’s free weekly podcast, “Common Censored.

 

 

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The Woman Who Accused Soccer Player Cristiano Ronaldo of Rape Seeks Justice

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Naomi LaChance.

An American woman who has accused international soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo of rape has come forward with her full story. Kathryn Mayorga, 34, plans to sue Ronaldo, 33, of Portugal and seeks to void a previous out-of-court settlement and nondisclosure agreement.

Mayorga detailed the alleged attack in Der Spiegel on Friday. According to documents reviewed by the German magazine, Ronaldo filled out a questionnaire with law firm Carlos Osório de Castro in which he admitted “she said ‘no’ and ‘stop’ several times.”

Mayorga said that on June 12, 2009, Ronaldo raped her in his Las Vegas hotel room. She said she had repeatedly turned him down during the course of the night. Eventually, he pulled her into the bedroom and jumped on her. She said she yelled “no, no, no” before he raped her anally. Afterward, she filed an anonymous police report and had a rape kit performed at the hospital.

According to Der Spiegel, Ronaldo said in the questionnaire to his lawyers: “She said that she didn’t want to, but she made herself available.… But she kept saying ‘no.’ ‘Don’t do it.’ ‘I’m not like the others.’ I apologized afterward.”

Months later, Ronaldo paid Mayorga a $375,000 settlement—a week’s salary for Ronaldo on Real Madrid—and she signed a nondisclosure agreement.

Mayorga plans to sue Ronaldo and have the previous agreement voided. “The purpose of this lawsuit is to hold Cristiano Ronaldo responsible within a civil court of law for the injuries he has caused Kathryn Mayorga and the consequences of those injuries,” Leslie Mark Stovall, Mayorga’s lawyer, said.

“I thought, ‘Is this a joke?’ This guy that is so famous and so hot … he’s a frickin’ loser and a creep,’” Mayorga said.

“I’ve had these serious breakdowns. And again, blaming of the rape. And I blame him, and I blame myself for signing that thing,” she added.

Ronaldo’s legal team called the Der Spiegel report “blatantly illegal” and “an inadmissible reporting of suspicions in the area of privacy.”

In 2005, Ronaldo was arrested and questioned on suspicion of rape at his London hotel, but Scotland Yard investigators did not pursue charges against him.

Documents were provided to Der Spiegel by the whistleblower platform the Football Leaks. In April, documents from the Football Leaks showed Ronaldo’s use of previously undisclosed offshore tax havens. In June, he agreed to pay the Spanish government  $21.7 million to avoid going to prison for tax evasion.

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Sen. Sanders Demands That FBI Investigate Kavanaugh

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by By Jake Johnson / Common Dreams.

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Saturday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) demanded that the newly reopened FBI investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh examine both the serious accusations of sexual assault against him and whether he lied to Congress in his testimony.

“In order for this FBI investigation regarding Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to be complete,” Sanders wrote, “it is imperative the bureau must not only look into the accusations made by Dr. Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick, it should also examine the veracity of his testimony before the Judiciary Committee.”

The Vermont senator went on to call on the Senate to not “constrain” the FBI probe to one week, arguing that a truly thorough probe could take longer.

“If you are concerned with a delay in this confirmation process, remember that Senate Republicans refused to allow the Senate to consider Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court for nearly a year,” Sanders wrote. “In addition to investigating the accusations made by multiple women, a thorough investigation should include a review of Judge Kavanaugh’s numerous untruthful statements in his previous testimony before Congress.”

Even prior to the emergence of credible sexual assault allegations against him, Kavanaugh—who on Thursday repeatedly refused to endorse an FBI probe into the allegations against him—was accused by several Democratic senators of lying to the Senate during hearings for his nomination to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 2004 and 2006.

In his letter to Grassley on Saturday, Sanders listed some of these examples, as well as statements Kavanaugh made “under oath regarding his treatment of women and his use of alcohol,” which “appear not to be true.”

Read Sanders’ full letter:

Dear Chairman Grassley,

In order for this FBI investigation regarding Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to be complete, it is imperative the bureau must not only look into the accusations made by Dr. Ford, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, it should also examine the veracity of his testimony before the Judiciary Committee.

The Senate should not constrain the FBI to one week and must allow time for a full investigation. I would request that you inform the FBI that you will not consider their work complete until they examine the truthfulness of Judge Kavanaugh’s statements under oath while testifying before the Senate throughout his career, given the very serious fact that lying to Congress is a federal crime.

If you are concerned with a delay in this confirmation process, remember that Senate Republicans refused to allow the Senate to consider Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court for nearly a year.

In addition to investigating the accusations made by multiple women, a thorough investigation should include a review of Judge Kavanaugh’s numerous untruthful statements in his previous testimony before Congress. Specifically:

  • In his previous testimony before Congress, Judge Kavanaugh was asked more than 100 times if he knew about files stolen by Republican staffers from Judiciary Committee Democrats. He said he knew nothing. Emails released as part of these hearings show that these files were regularly shared with Kavanaugh while he was on the White House staff. One of the emails had the subject line “spying.” Was Judge Kavanaugh being truthful with the committee?
  • In 2006 Judge Kavanaugh told Congress he did not know anything about the NSA warrantless wiretapping program prior to it being reported by the New York Times. This year an email revealed that while at the White House he might have been involved in some conversations about this program.  Was Judge Kavanaugh being truthful with the committee?
  • In 2004 Judge Kavanaugh testified the nomination of William Pryor to the 11th Circuit “was not one that I worked on personally.” Documents now contradict that statement. Newly released documents also call into question whether Judge Kavanaugh was truthful that the nomination of Charles Pickering “was not one of the judicial nominees that I was primarily handling.” Was Judge Kavanaugh being truthful with the committee?
  • In 2006 Judge Kavanaugh testified, “I was not involved and am not involved in the questions about the rules governing detention of combatants.” New evidence released as part of these confirmation hearing contradicts that assertion. Was Judge Kavanaugh being truthful with the committee
  • Kavanaugh testified before the committee that he did not believe polygraphs were reliable. In 2016 he wrote, “As the Government notes, law enforcement agencies use polygraphs to test the credibility of witnesses and criminal defendants.  Those agencies also use polygraphs to ‘screen applicants for security clearances so that they may be deemed suitable for work in critical law enforcement, defense, and intelligence collection roles.’ . . .  The Government has satisfactorily explained how polygraph examinations serve law enforcement purposes.”  (Sack v. United States Department of Defense, 823 F.3d 687 (2016)) What changed his opinion or was he misleading the committee as to his beliefs about the reliability of polygraph tests?

Additionally, several statements made by Judge Kavanaugh under oath regarding his treatment of women and his use of alcohol appear not to be true. The scope of the FBI’s investigation must include investigating the following statements:

  • Judge Kavanaugh repeatedly told the committee he never drank to the point where he didn’t remember something.  He also denied ever becoming aggressive when he drinks. However there have been many reports from those Judge Kavanaugh attended high school, college and law school with that contradict this assertion. Was he being truthful with the committee?
  • Judge Kavanaugh testified he treated women “as friends and equals” and “with dignity and respect.”  Numerous entries in his school yearbook would seem to contradict this. Was Judge Kavanaugh’s statement to the committee truthful?
  • Judge Kavanaugh claimed that he and Dr. Ford “did not travel in the same social circles.”  Dr. Ford said she dated Chris Garrett, referenced as a friend in his yearbook. In fact she testified Garrett introduced her to Kavanaugh. Was Judge Kavanaugh’s statement to the committee truthful?
  • Kavanaugh claimed he did not drink on weeknights but an entry on his calendar for Thursday July 1 states, “Go to Timmy’s for Skis w/ Judge, Tom, Pj, Bernie, Squi.” Kavanaugh clarified to Sen. Booker that “Skis” referred to beer. Was his original statement to the committee truthful?

A fundamental question the FBI can help answer is whether Judge Kavanaugh has been truthful with the committee. This goes to the very heart of whether he should be confirmed to the court. If a thorough investigation takes longer than a week, so be it. First and foremost, we need the truth.

Sincerely,

Bernard Sanders

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Christine Blasey Ford Details Alleged Assault in Moving Statement

Read more of this story here from Truthdig RSS by Naomi LaChance.

Christine Blasey Ford delivered testimony Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her sexual assault accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Ford is a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University and a research psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California. Here are excerpts from her prepared testimony:

I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school. I have described the events publicly before. I summarized them in my letter to Ranking Member Feinstein, and again in my letter to Chairman Grassley. I understand and appreciate the importance of your hearing from me directly about what happened to me and the impact it has had on my life and on my family.

Ford described the assault, which she alleges took place in 1982:

Brett and Mark came into the bedroom and locked the door behind them. There was music already playing in the bedroom. It was turned up louder by either Brett or Mark once we were in the room. I was pushed onto the bed and Brett got on top of me. He began running his hands over my body and grinding his hips into me. I yelled, hoping someone downstairs might hear me, and tried to get away from him, but his weight was heavy. Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes. He had a hard time because he was so drunk, and because I was wearing a one-piece bathing suit under my clothes. I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from screaming. This was what terrified me the most, and has had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me. Both Brett and Mark were drunkenly laughing during the attack. They both seemed to be having a good time. Mark was urging Brett on, although at times he told Brett to stop. A couple of times I made eye contact with Mark and thought he might try to help me, but he did not.

During this assault, Mark came over and jumped on the bed twice while Brett was on top of me. The last time he did this, we toppled over and Brett was no longer on top of me. I was able to get up and run out of the room. Directly across from the bedroom was a small bathroom. I ran inside the bathroom and locked the door. I heard Brett and Mark leave the bedroom laughing and loudly walk down the narrow stairs, pin-balling off the walls on the way down. I waited and when I did not hear them come back up the stairs, I left the bathroom, ran down the stairs, through the living room, and left the house. I remember being on the street and feeling an enormous sense of relief that I had escaped from the house and that Brett and Mark were not coming after me.

Ford said she had discussed the attack in therapy sessions, but in July, she recounted: “I saw press reports stating that Brett Kavanaugh was on the “short list” of potential Supreme Court nominees. I thought it was my civic duty to relay the information I had about Mr. Kavanaugh’s conduct so that those considering his potential nomination would know about the assault.”

Ford continued:

On July 6, 2018, I had a sense of urgency to relay the information to the Senate and the President as soon as possible before a nominee was selected. I called my congressional representative and let her receptionist know that someone on the President’s shortlist had attacked me. I also sent a message to The Washington Post’s confidential tip line. I did not use my name, but I provided the names of Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge. I stated that Mr. Kavanaugh had assaulted me in the 1980s in Maryland. This was an extremely hard thing for me to do, but I felt I couldn’t NOT do it. Over the next two days, I told a couple of close friends on the beach in California that Mr. Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted me. I was conflicted about whether to speak out.

On going public with her accusations, she said:

“Since September 16, the date of The Washington Post story, I have experienced an outpouring of support from people in every state of this country. Thousands of people who have had their lives dramatically altered by sexual violence have reached out to share their own experiences with me and have thanked me for coming forward. We have received tremendous support from friends and our community.

At the same time, my greatest fears have been realized—and the reality has been far worse than what I expected. My family and I have been the target of constant harassment and death threats. I have been called the most vile and hateful names imaginable. These messages, while far fewer than the expressions of support, have been terrifying to receive and have rocked me to my core. People have posted my personal information on the internet. This has resulted in additional emails, calls, and threats. My family and I were forced to move out of our home. Since September 16, my family and I have been living in various secure locales, with guards. This past Tuesday evening, my work email account was hacked and messages were sent out supposedly recanting my description of the sexual assault.

Apart from the assault itself, these last couple of weeks have been the hardest of my life. I have had to relive my trauma in front of the entire world, and have seen my life picked apart by people on television, in the media, and [by those] in this body who have never met me or spoken with me. I have been accused of acting out of partisan political motives. Those who say that do not know me. I am a fiercely independent person and I am no one’s pawn. My motivation in coming forward was to provide the facts about how Mr. Kavanaugh’s actions have damaged my life, so that you can take that into serious consideration as you make your decision about how to proceed. It is not my responsibility to determine whether Mr. Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell the truth.

I understand that the Majority has hired a professional prosecutor to ask me some questions, and I am committed to doing my very best to answer them. At the same time, because the Committee Members will be judging my credibility, I hope to be able to engage directly with each of you.”

Read Ford’s prepared testimony in full at CNN.

Since Ford came forward, two other women have made allegations against Kavanaugh: Deborah Ramirez said that Kavanaugh shoved his penis in her face during a party, and Julie Swetnick said that Kavanaugh was present at a party where she was gang-raped. Swetnick also said she saw Kavanaugh “consistently engage in excessive drinking and inappropriate contact of a sexual nature with women during the early 1980s.”

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