Rudy Giuliani’s Admission Is No Surprise

When former New York City mayor and Donald Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani told Fox News’ Sean Hannity Thursday that the president reimbursed Michael Cohen, another attorney of his, for the $130,000 Cohen paid to silence adult film star Stormy Daniels about her 2006 affair with Trump, he contradicted the president’s prior claims that he knew nothing about the hush money, making the revelation the day’s top news story.

Despite the apparent media shock over Giuliani’s admission, it should not come as a surprise that he was the member of Trump’s team to break the news.

Giuliani, who has supported Trump since the 2016 presidential campaign, appeared on Fox and Friends just weeks before the election and said that former FBI operatives told him that there would be a “pretty big surprise” which would swing the election in Trump’s favor. One week later, then-FBI Director James Comey told Congress that he was reopening the inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Following Comey’s announcement, Giuliani told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he had not been in communication with the agents he had only a week prior talked about informing him of such an October surprise.

For a president like Donald Trump, who prioritizes loyalty to him above all else in his appointees and employees, Rudy Giuliani seems like a logical confidant. However, Giuliani’s tendency to reveal too much, whether influenced by dementia; egomania; impulsiveness; stupidity; or some combination seems to suggest that if Trump wants to defuse special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, he should consider finding a new attorney.

 

 

 

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A Message to the Left: Stop Empowering Nazis

Dear socialists, communists, anarchists, and other assorted far left rapscallions,

Despite my disagreements with you, I tend to agree with the core tenets of what you believe. That said, many of you, whether you realize it or not, are empowering Nazis, neo-Confederates, and other white nationalists when you dabble in anti-Semitism.

“But what about Palestine/Israel?” I know many of you are about to say. If you’re one of those people, it’s time for you to sit down, shut up, and listen. If you wouldn’t dismiss racism against Chinese people over Tibet, don’t do the same with anti-Semitism. You’re empowering Nazis.

“Claims of left-wing anti-Semitism are just used to silence criticism of Israel.” Nonsense, I have never heard a rabbi or other Jewish authority figure say all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. They’ll say that there’s nothing wrong with criticizing Israeli policies, but there is plenty wrong with advocating for the destruction of the Jewish state and cheering on subsequent massacres of its people. If you fall into the latter category, you are empowering Nazis.

“Anti-Semitism ended when the West gave the Jews their own settler-colonial ethnostate on partitioned land.” Okay, maybe Israel was founded on settler-colonialism, but equating people conquering indigenous land with the aim of enriching their home country with those returning to a land their ancestors were exiled from millennia ago in search of a better life is pretty gross. If that’s your attitude, you’re empowering Nazis.

As for the partitioned ethnostate part, do you wish the same destruction of Pakistan, Malaysia, Liberia, Northern Ireland, or Lebanon? If not, maybe you’re a Nazi empowerer.

“But Jews are white Europeans.” Then why are the majority of Israelis Jews of color? In fact, most are darker than Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi. Also, why were Ashkenazi Jews never treated as such by other Europeans? If you can’t offer a compelling response, you’re empowering Nazis.

“But Jews have privilege today” Not all Jews have privilege. Some are extremely poor. Regardless, many also had privilege in the late days of the Weimar Republic, how did that turn out? If you refuse to recognize that Jews can lose their privilege in a blink of an eye, you’re empowering Nazis.

If you “all lives matter” the Holocaust, you’re empowering Nazis.

When you regularly use Jewish connection to Israel or lack thereof to divide “the good Jews” from “the bad Jews,” you aren’t just empowering Nazis, you’re playing their game

When you only let those “good Jews” in your social justice circle if they regularly degrade their culture, religion, and traditions, you are empowering Nazis.

When you reduce Jewish identity to a religious one, you ignore that the Nazis had no problem with our faith, but they did with our “race,” thus empowering Nazis.

If you accused Jews of centering themselves on issues of race while the Charlottesville protesters chanted “Jews will not replace us,” and insisted they merely said “You will not replace us,” you empowered the protesters.

If you failed to explicitly condemn anti-Semitism when Jews ran to your side for help in the wake of the protests, you didn’t just empower the protesters, you sided with them.

I am aware that in the United States, Jews have many privileges compared to other demographics. That said, when it comes to white nationalism, Jews are seen as the archenemy of the white race and the root of what they see as the “degradation” of Western civilization. In other words, white nationalist ideology relies much more on hatred of Jews to operate than it does towards other minorities. If that’s not enough for you to be willing to show solidarity with Jews, you should trade in your Guy Fawkes mask for a swastika.

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Local Pizzeria Helps Antifa Distinguish Delivery Boys from Nazis

Antifa Member Holding Pizza Sign. Digital Image. Kiwi Farms. Web. 6 December 2017. <kiwifarms.is>

NEW YORK – The staff of popular Manhattan pizzeria Papa Tony’s are in shock after one of their delivery boys was knocked unconscious by an Antifa activist.

César Pérez had just left the parlor on a delivery run around nine o’clock P.M. when, according to multiple witnesses, he was attacked by his assailant, who confused the red baseball cap he wears as part of his uniform for a “Make America Great Again” hat.

A representative from the New York Police Department reported that they had identified and apprehended the suspect: Brooklyn-based Antifa activist, former Occupy Wall Street representative, and career trust fund baby Harvey Schultz. “These days, fascists are all over the place and out in the open,” Schultz told DisAm. “If he didn’t want to be punched, maybe he should have worn another colored hat that would distinguish him from a Trump supporter. I don’t have the time or energy to look closely at the lettering on red hats, I’m just a dirty hippie.”

Anthony Pizzacoli, the owner and operator of Papa Tony’s, expressed concern for the attack on Pérez. “I’m a progressive. I voted for Bernie in the primary and Hillary in the general election, so it pains me to think that one of my best delivery boys could be confused with a Nazi,” Pizzacoli said. “I’m organizing a gathering at the shop so that Antifa members can meet my employees and not mistake them for Trump supporters again. We’ll have free pizza, soda, and garlic knots.”

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Big Changes Underway at the Disaffected American

Hey everyone!

Sorry for not being as able to share my commentary as I used to be. Life keeps me busier than before. That said, some big changes are underway at The Disaffected American which will be revealed upon the publishing of the next post at a time to be determined. Hope to hear from you then!

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Beinart and Mandel Discuss Trump, Clinton, at JCC Manhattan

 

On Monday evening, liberal and conservative journalists Peter Beinart and Bethany Mandel, respectively, held a talk at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan prior to the first presidential debate between real estate executive Donald J. Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Over the course of the discussion, Beinart and Mandel both discussed a variety of notable moments and information about what might be the ugliest presidential election in contemporary United States history. Among them, Beinart pointed out how Clinton’s infamous “deplorables” statement and the Clinton campaign’s fumbling to disclose her pneumonia were perhaps the two lowest points of her campaign.

Mandel, whose rural upstate New York upbringing helped to shape her conservative worldview, mentioned that Trump’s appeal comes from rural whites who other candidates have neglected. She also highlighted Mozilla’s CEO losing his job due to his opposition to marriage equality as an example of the “political correctness” that many fear will affect them, and drive them to vote for Trump.

Beinart also highlighted that entertainment and politics have become increasingly intertwined in recent years, and touted the possibility that Trump was the end result of this problematic fusion.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the talk was Mandel’s mention that despite her conservative background, and despite the future of the Supreme Court laying in the balance in this election, she will vote for Clinton. Her reasoning being that she would rather have a Supreme Court that she disagrees with for at least a generation than risking the possibility of a world war, possibly involving nuclear weapons, if Trump were to be elected.

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My First Impressions of the 2016 Republican National Convention

 

The general election season got off to a rocky start on Monday as New York businessman Donald Trump and his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, prepared to accept their nominations for president and vice president at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Unfortunately for them, things thus far have not gone as hoped.

From protests from the “Never Trump” faction of delegates and Ohio Governor John Kasich’s subtle attack on Trump’s authoritarian tendencies during the Republican Governors’ Association’s video to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s visible unhappiness during an interview, to allegations of Melania Trump plagiarizing a paragraph from First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention, which was followed by an onstage kiss between her and her husband that looked quite inauthentic, it was overall pretty hard to take the first day of the convention seriously.

The RNC so far has largely been an embarrassment. Only in the next few days will we learn whether it gets better as well as whether the nomination of Trump’s presumptive challenger and fellow New Yorker, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is any smoother.

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Jermaine Himmelstein and the 80-20 Rule

Everyone knows that New York City is a great place for people watching. Its buskers, immigrants, and various eccentric characters of local legend can enable tourists to have a truly exciting visit without requiring them to pay extra at the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty.

Exciting as it may be, people watching in New York can be dangerous, as evidenced by Jermaine Himmelstein, better known as the “Free Hugs Guy,” who has a long history of violent and predatory behavior to those women who approach him for the free hugs he advertises. He made local headlines just days ago after he was arrested on Thursday for attacking and robbing a 22-year old Canadian woman after she refused to tip him for a hug. Covering the incident, The New York Times reported that Himmelstein’s mother has said her son is autistic. While his disability is not an excuse for his aggressive behavior, the Times’ reporting on it helps draw attention to the often problematic ways the media talks about mental illness and disability and violence.

Although Jermaine Himmelstein demonstrates that there are indeed people with mental disabilities and illnesses who threaten those around them, it is well-documented that such people are the minority. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, not only are no more than 5% of violent acts carried out by mentally ill people, but those with mental illnesses are ten times more likely to be victims of violence than the general population. A study carried out by the US Department of Justice from 2007 to 2009 had similar findings about people with disabilities. The findings of these studies demonstrate that Jermaine Himmelstein’s violent behavior, as well as such other prominent violent crimes carried out by those with or alleged to have mental illnesses and disabilities, such as Sandy Hook Elementary School gunman Adam Lanza. UC Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger was also widely reported to have had autism in the wake of his crime, even though the evidence for such a diagnosis was questionable at best. Regardless of whether Himmelstein, Lanza, and Rodger had mental illnesses or disabilities, the official statistics show that their actions make them part of the exception rather than the norm.

Ultimately, it’s fair to conclude that media coverage of the mental health of the minority of violent criminals with such illnesses and disabilities hurts the majority of people with such conditions who are not violent. Preexisting stigmas surrounding mental disabilities and illnesses make such reporting even more harmful to them. For such reasons, when someone such as Jermaine Himmelstein commits a violent crime, we all should divert our attention from their mental health or ability and focus on their actions instead.

 

Image Credits: by Andrew Savulich via New York Daily News 

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Ming China, Precursor to European Dictatorship: Part 5, Militant Authoritarianism

 

In the first post of this series, I defined fascism as:

a political system distinguished by an emphasis on patriarchal, rural values; corporatist economic policy; extreme nationalism and patriotism, often involving extreme xenophobia and/or racism; and militant authoritarianism in both domestic and foreign affairs.

In the fifth post and conclusion of this series, I will focus on the militant authoritarianism present in the domestic and foreign affairs of both Ming China and the fascist states of Europe in the twentieth century.

Secret police played an important role in the administration of both fascist European countries as well as Ming China. For Mussolini’s Italy, the secret police, known as the Organization for Vigilance and Repression of Anti-Fascism, or OVRA for short, worked to help keep Mussolini in power and combat Italian citizens opposed to him and his fascist ideology. In Nazi Germany, Gestapo played a similar role. Ming China’s secret police, the Jinyiwei, became influential following the execution of Chancellor Hu Weiyong for suspicion of conspiracy to overthrow the Hongwu Emperor.

The Jinyiwei’s rise was not the only way in which Ming China became more authoritarian following Hu’s execution. In fact, the Hongwu Emperor’s suspicions of his chancellor would lead him to completely abolish the chancellery and mandate that the responsibilities historically designated to the chancellor of China were now those of the emperor. Considering the chancellery had served as an important office in Chinese politics since at least the Spring and Autumn Period of the Eastern Zhou roughly two thousand years earlier, Hongwu’s efforts marked a greater concentration of power in the hands of the emperor of China.

In regards to foreign policy, fascist European states and Ming China both pursued aggressive expansionism. For Italy under Mussolini, this involved the conquest of Ethiopia and Albania as well as a consolidation of Italian political influence in Egypt, Libya, and Somalia with the intent of asserting Italian cultural supremacy in these places. In the case of Germany, Hitler would conquer such countries as Poland, France, Morocco, Greece, Denmark, and the Netherlands in the name of Lebensraum, or living space for the German people.

Ming Chinese expansionism stemmed  at least in part from the fact that it emerged from the rubble of the much larger Mongol Empire. This reality motivated Ming rulers to conquer territory that had been controlled by the Yuan Dynasty, but was not part of China proper. Perhaps the most notable areas the Ming conquered were on their southwestern frontier. The land they conquered there constitutes the present-day Chinese provinces of  Qinghai, Yunnan, Guangxi, and Guizhou. Cooperating with indigenous Salar, Uyghur, and Hui Muslim peoples who accepted Ming rule peacefully, Yunnan was conquered and subsequently subjected to settler colonialist policies. These policies dramatically changed the demographics of the region, as these lands, which had previously been dominated by such ethnic groups as the Miao and Yao peoples, developed a Han Chinese majority. These policies would lead to several unsuccessful rebellions by the ethnic minorities in these areas, which would be defeated by the establishment of governance intended to acculturate them into Chinese society.

 

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Ming China, Precursor to European Dictatorship: Part 4, Nationalism, Patriotism, Xenophobia and Racism

 

In the first post of this series, I defined fascism as:

a political system distinguished by an emphasis on patriarchal, rural values; corporatist economic policy; extreme nationalism and patriotism, often involving extreme xenophobia and/or racism; and militant authoritarianism in both domestic and foreign affairs.

This post will be dedicated to the roles of patriotism, nationalism, xenophobia, and racism in Ming China and the fascist states of twentieth century Europe.

Perhaps the most obvious examples of patriotism and nationalism that these societies had in common was the extreme glorification of their leaders. In such fascist European countries as Italy, Germany, and Spain, finding grandiose images of Mussolini, Hitler, or Franco in public places was an easy feat, and schoolchildren were required to praise them at the beginning of every school day.u

For the Ming, the imperial palace known as the Forbidden City served as a prime example of the glorification of their emperors. The Forbidden City, which was completed by the Yongle Emperor in 1420,  would feature an immense portrait of the reigning emperor in the front exterior. Every succeeding Chinese emperor until the Qing’s overthrow by the Guomindang in 1911 would have such a portrait featured there. Under communist rule, this practice has been adjusted, with a portrait of Mao Zedong taking the place of those of Ming and Qing emperors.

Racism in fascist societies, especially Nazi Germany, is well-known and well-documented, though views of racism differed from state-to-state. Under Hitler, Germany’s racial politics were rooted in the idea that some peoples were genetically and biologically inferior than others, with Northern European (Aryans) considered the “master race.” While Mussolini was also a racist, he believed that one’s race was not a product of genetics, but rather their culture. In other words, a person’s ethnicity did not matter in fascist Italy as long as they embraced Italian culture and asserted that it was superior to all other cultures.

Xenophobia in Ming China much more closely parallels Mussolini’s cultural racism than it does Hitler’s biological racism. Prior to the rise of the Ming, China was governed by the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, which was deeply cosmopolitan and failed to consider that the Chinese had traditionally considered their culture superior to all others, fostering resentment from their subjects. Ming governance partially served to reinforce the traditional idea of the global supremacy of Chinese, and particularly Han Chinese, culture. However, upon overthrowing the Mongols, the Han supremacist Ming inherited a China that was more cosmopolitan than ever before. In order to address this problem, such emperors as Hongwu and Yongle applied traditional Confucian philosophy to these structural changes in order to make them compatible with their vision of a supreme Chinese culture in which one’s Chinese identity stemmed not from their ethnicity, but from their adoption of Han linguistic and cultural norms.

 

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Ming China, Precursor to European Dictatorship: Part 3, Corporatist Economic Policy

 

In the first post of this series, I defined fascism as:

a political system distinguished by an emphasis on patriarchal, rural values; corporatist economic policy; extreme nationalism and patriotism, often involving extreme xenophobia and/or racism; and militant authoritarianism in both domestic and foreign affairs.

in order to demonstrate how China under the Ming Dynasty can be considered the world’s first fascist state. In the second post, I discussed patriarchy and rural values in Ming China and the fascist European states of the twentieth century. In this post, I will discuss the economic similarities between Ming China and said fascist states.

Because the economics of the fascist states of twentieth century Europe often varied in key ways from one another, it is hard to find a perfect way to describe a specific economic system as “fascist.” For this reason, the similarities between these countries and Ming China are not so obvious and must be understood in their respective historical contexts.

By defining fascist economics as “corporate,” that is to say that they benefit primarily those in power at the expense of those with less while at the same time not being truly capitalistic. This was the case with both Ming China and fascist European nations. In the case of the latter, a Social Darwinist approach to economics emerged in which wealthy businessmen were promoted while undermining working-class institutions. Although Ming China’s policies, at least early on, rejected such a view, its economy did increasingly liberalize over time in ways that are in some ways similar to, but cannot truly be compared to, capitalism. Because of some of the similarities in social Darwinist and capitalist thought, it is interesting to compare fascism’s “third way” rejection of free-market capitalism and Marxism to that of Ming China’s non-capitalist liberalism.

Ming China’s caste system also enabled a common practice that ensured that the wealthy would continue to benefit at the expense of those with less economic clout. Although merchants were the lowest caste in Ming society, their profession nonetheless enabled them to amass great amounts of wealth. The highest caste were the scholar bureaucrats who helped govern China, also known as “shi.” Members of the shi caste obtained their rank by passing an intensive exam on Confucian philosophy that any Chinese subject could take. However, caste and class did not always go hand-in-hand in Ming China. Because of this, merchants and shi would often partner with each other. For the shi, it was to learn the art of running a business from merchants in order to achieve wealth. For merchants, they wanted the shi to tutor them for the Confucian exams in order to help them improve their rank in Chinese society and achieve greater power and prestige. In this way, the wealthiest segments of Ming China would remain the most powerful at the expense of the other, less affluent, castes.

 

 

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