Archives for category: Uncategorized
  1. Give him a chance, he is a political newcomer.
  2. He is picking the best and brightest for his cabinet and they will help him out.
  3. Let him pull the country together.
  4. He will not govern by Tweets.
  5. He is draining the swamp; that’s why it looks so chaotic.
  6. Let the adults in the room govern.
  7. Limit his power over nuclear weapons by the generals taking charge.
  8. General Kelley will keep him in line.
  9. He really doesn’t need that many people in government so we can have all these vacancies.
  10. He manages best when he can hear all viewpoints even those opposing him.
  11. Let him fire a few people and get that Reality TV show out of his system.
  12. Chaos is good.
  13. Who is “President David Dennison” is that his alias?


Can we just get rid of the man?; he is not a god.  Everyone in the World would be better off.  25th Amendment is very easy to do; assemble the 7 remaining cabinet officials and call it.


So today March 19, 2018, on Thom Hartmann the Facebook Data manipulation was discussed.


Cambridge Analytica Ain’t Nuthin:
Look out for i360 and DataTrust
By Greg Palast

There are two dangers in the media howl over Trump’s computer gurus Cambridge Analytica, the data-driven psy-ops company founded by billionaire brown-shirts, the Mercer Family.

The story is that Cambridge Analytica, once directed by Steve Bannon, by shoplifting Facebook profiles to bend your brain, is some unique “bad apple” of the cyber world.

That’s a dangerously narrow view. In fact, the dark art of dynamic psychometric manipulation in politics was not pioneered by Cambridge Analytica for Trump, but by i360 Themis, the operation founded by… no points for guessing… the Brothers Koch.

Mark Swedlund, himself an expert in these tools, explained in film The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, that i360 dynamically tracks you on 1800 behaviors, or as Swedlund graphically puts it [see clip above],
“They know the last time you downloaded porn and
whether you ordered Chinese food before you voted.”
Swedlund adds his expert conclusion: “I think that’s creepy.”

The Koch operation and its competitor, DataTrust, use your credit card purchases, cable TV choices and other personal info — which is far more revealing about your inner life than the BS you put on your Facebook profile. Don’t trust DataTrust: This cyber-monster is operated by Karl Rove, “Bush’s Brain,” who is principally funded by Paul Singer, the far Right financier better known as The Vulture.

Way too much is made of the importance of Cambridge Analytica stealing data through a phony app. If you’ve ever filled out an online survey, Swedlund told me, they’ve got you — legally.

The second danger is to forget that the GOP has been using computer power to erase the voting rights of Black and Hispanic voters for years — by “caging,” “Crosscheck,” citizenship challenges based on last name (Garcia? Not American!!), the list goes on — a far more effective use of cyberpower than manipulating your behavior through Facebook ads.

Just last week, Kris Kobach, Secretary of State of Kansas and Trump’s chief voting law advisor, defended his method of hunting alleged “aliens” on voter rolls against a legal challenge by the ALCU. Kobach’s expert, Jessie Richman, uses a computer algorithm that can locate “foreign” names on voter rolls. He identified, for example, one “Carlos Murguia” as a potential alien voter. Murguia is a Kansas-born judge who presides in a nearby courtroom.

It would be a joke, except that Kobach’s “alien” hunt has blocked one in seven new (i.e. young) voters from registering in the state. If Kobach wins, it will, like his Crosscheck purge program and voter ID laws, almost certainly spread to other GOP controlled states. This could ultimately block one million new voters, exactly what Trump had in mind by pushing the alien-voter hysteria.
Become A Kobach Litigation Supporter
Help us fund our mass litigation operation against Kris Kobach (Trump’s Vote-Thief-in-Chief). For now, details must remain confidential.

The Cambridge Analytica story was first reported by The Guardian and Observer in 2015. Did we listen? Did any US paper carry the story the British paper worked on for years? So, my first reaction reading this story was nostalgia — for the time when I was a reporter with The Guardian and Observer investigations team. We could spend a year digging deep into complex stories, working with crazy insiders. There, in 2000, I uncovered another cyber-crime: Using database matching to purge felons from Florida voter rolls. (None, in fact, were felons; most were Democrats.)

I moved back to America, but found I had to give up any hope of doing true, deep investigative reports for newspapers in my own country. US papers will sometimes re-report Guardian news, but American media almost never initiates deep investigation. And THAT, fear of the cost, difficulty and risk in digging out the truth, is a greater threat to America than Steve Bannon.

What is the media?  We all hear the GOP jokes about the Lame Stream Media (Main Stream Media); but how did we get to this point where Trump’s claims about Fake News dominate our news cycles?

At the start of the Revolutionary War we had handbills that would be posted to the Town Square.  But they got out the information to the farmers and the rural areas.

Way back when we had the “Muckrakers” and the Penny Press.  Randolph’s Hearst’s Yellow Journalism and the sinking of the Maine in Havana, Cuba that started the Spanish-American War.  That was the historical past.

I studied journalism in 1976 and it was just after Watergate. Everyone had just seen All the President’s Men with Redford and Hoffman.  So the field was crowded and the professor counseled us on that only 10 of our 110 class would get a job.  The standards of writing a story then publishing it, were very high.  Usually three sources had to be collaborated.  So the modern criticisms we see about fake news when someone doesn’t like the news are really suspect if the media upholds the standards.

It use to be the big three: ABC, CBS and NBC and they held each other in check, plus the news wire services Associated Press and United Press International (which no longer exists). Newsrooms had a thousand people and did all sorts of investigative journalism—maybe 10-20 leads at a time. Now it is lucky to have one.

So what our media had evolved to is that newspapers started stories and investigative journalism, and then TV just read the newspapers on the air (knowing that all of it was substantiated).  But how many “paper” newspapers are sold now?   So many are closing and consolidating.  The Internet has changed the “news” and the media.  Consolidation of news sources also reduces quality and separate news venues.  Fox news is underwritten by Rupert Murdock to the tune of billions—so they don’t have as much at risk by reporting Fake News.

So my tirade started when someone posted a Meme that said: Two Democrats Investigating Russian Collusion are busted for Russian Collusion—across the pictures of Senators Adam Schiff and Mark Warner.

I asked for a confirmation because that was the first time i heard it and it had no sponsor to it.  Suspicious.  Then I found:this article.

Donald Trump Joins With Russian Bots to Trash Mark Warner on Twitter

Both the president and pro-Russian interests are promoting a Fox News story revealing the Democratic senator’s texts.

Both MSNBC and CNN are carrying this story. Sure Mother Jones and Rolling Stone and vanity fair are not mainstream publications but the big sources verify what they are saying and it is a united front. With only Fox News or Brietnart reporting: “George Soros brought a copy of Mother Jones Magazine and therefore they are Nazi’s.” What what does one have to do with the other? This is of course made up but they always use guilt by association—this meets no other organizations journalism’s standards. The conspiracy theories are crazy on Fox. But they have people hypnotized and make a lot of money.

Mark Warner’s name never emerged until he just spoke out about the Steele Dossier. Adam Shiff has spoken out for awhile and has been a target for that same time frame. But the timing should make you suspicious.  The Russians are very smart to take advantage of everything Trump Tweets. See Former FBI agent Clint Watts in his Senate Testimony to the Intelligence Committee: He said that they were watching 2 Russian Agents and their posts and tweets and they tweeted that “Obama was a Muslim born in Kenya” in 2008 and they noticed Trump forwarded this. Just in December 2016 Trump again re-Tweeted tweets from the same 2 Russian agents.

A Citizen’s duty is now to sort out the Fake News from the real news and to hold leaders to account.  Media is seemingly powerless to hold Trump to account.  It is a sad state of affairs for the Fourth Estate.

My White cousin in the Tea Party started attacking Obama from the beginning in 2009:

  • He violated constitution because he was born in Kenya;
  • He wasn’t smart and got through college because of Affirmative Action;
  • He is not a Christian but a Muslim;
  • He wasn’t tough on immigrants;
  • He would take our guns away;
  • He plays too much golf and is always on vacation at huge taxpayer expense;
  • He spends too much on flying around the world;
  • He spent $200 million to his trip to Spain and Michelle bought $2 million in dresses at taxpayer’s expense.
  • He smoked pot and can’t be President.
  • He takes orders from the Marxist Saul Alinsky.

Later during the eight years of virtual sainthood (when compared to Trump):

  • He disrespected military;
  • He disrespected FBI;
  • He didn’t wear an American flag pin;
  • He didn’t cover his heart with his hand during the Star Spangled Banner;
  • He looked away as the wreath was being placed on the Unknown Soldier;
  • He smiled and was laughing during an official Head of State visit;
  • He insulted (insert world leader name here);
  • He uses a teleprompter too much and is lost without it;
  • He lies;
  • He issued too many Executive Orders;
  • He did a 1500 page bill for Healthcare that no one had time to read (Trump Tax Plan—anyone????).

So everything Obama was blamed for, Trump is “innocent” of?   It makes no sense at all.  Trump HAS ACTUALLY DONE EVERYTHING Obama was accused of and really didn’t do.  If you were smart enough to recognize it under the Obama Administration, why don’t you recognize it now?  Such an illogical double standard —you should be ashamed of yourself.  You should be calling for his head to roll as you were for Obama.  This is only a man, not a god.  Trump is a very imperfect, worthless and immoral man—why do you protect him?

Thom Hartmann had a revelation on his radio program in 2017 that everything in our modern society was built by FDR. With such a bold statement it takes awhile to lay it out but in his monologue he really nailed it. FDR’s “Confiscatorial Tax Rate” of 91% financed our society starting in 1933 and continuing throughout the war years. The high rates kicked in a at million, two million and three million dollar salaries which were few back then, but are now more commonplace.

So back to the premise of: “everything in our modern society was rebuilt or created by FDR to the chagrin of the GOP.” That is why they constantly must tear it apart, discredit it or underfund it so it fails. Even to the point of removing FDR from the Dime and replacing him with Reagan as well as on the twenty dollar bill. What a cruel joke! The dime was reserved for Roosevelt because of the most popular slogan of the timed—“brother can you spare a dime;” describing the Republican Great Depression and that the dime was the asking fee of the March of Dimes trying to conquer polio that FDR suffered from. The GOP is pretty sick with its thinking.

Feb. 11, 2011 9:35 am
By Phil Stone
Tom was talking with someone at C-Pac who insisted that it was not FDR or the New Deal which got us out of the Depression, but WWII.

Tom explained that it was not the war itself, but the demand for goods and services (preparing for war) that lead to increases in production and improved employment levels, and this came about through Government spending. Tom also pointed out that war was actually an inefficient factor here, because if the resources devoted to building non-productive assets, like munitions, had been used to build productive items, we might have had the same effect for half the cost.

This is all true as far as it goes, and certainly supports the Keyesnian approach President Obama has tried to use to help the economy recover from the Republican depridations it has suffered. And it is worth noting that in Sarah Palin’s first book, she actually claimed that it was the New Deal which caused the Great Depression. No doubt this dis-information has had its intended effect upon some potential voters.

But I think that this focus on the economic factors, while important, obscures an equally important aspect of FDR’s legacy, particularly as it applies to President Obama. What did FDR do to earn re-election if the prosperity held off till the war? What is often overlooked is that perhaps the greatest thing FDR gave to America was Hope. After years of depression, an almost fatalistic approach from Hoover, and the appearance that things would only get worse, FDR brought the belief that he would not give up trying until he was successful. When instant miracles did not occur for everyone, people knew that he would keep on trying, and they should do the same. We know that fiscal conservatives opposed his spending programs, keeping them from being as successful as they might have become. And we know that these objections continued on through the war build up which we now realize played a big role in getting the economy back up to full speed. But part of what kept the country going through all of this was the Hope which FDR inspired.

I think that that is partly why the Republican strategy to defeat President Obama began with the immediate target of mocking the Hope which he inspired, and continued to blocking all his attempts to help Americans, in the process diminishing their Hope. My local conservative columnist, John Kass, mocked Senator Obama’s supporters as being high on “hopium.” And of course Ms. Palin notoriously asked how that hope was working out, even as her comrades did everything they could to hamstring the President efforts. And clearly, given the lack of support among liberals at the polls at the mid-term, many people have lost their hope.

While I am disappointed with a few of the Administration’s move to date, I have to wonder, what did the Liberals who abandoned Obama expect? He was never going to be FDR, because his goal was to reduce the divide in Congress, and he did not have FDR’s Congressional support, so he needed to reduce the divide. The fact is that Obama served in the US Senate. He knew better than most of his critics how many Clintonite/DLC/pro-business Democrats were in Congress, and he knew that he needed to go a new way to get them to follow. And so he became, in contrast to the Tea guys and the Republican establishment, the Adult in the room who would point out the childishness and the insanity, and the distortions, and show faith that the American public was still worthy of Democracy, rather than a travelling Medicine show. Hope about us.

And so he remains, and goes to the USCC and challenges them to be patriots. And in doing so he makes clear what he will be able to say in the next election if they dont get on board and help the country. They want tax cuts for companies which dont pay taxes now. They want tax incentives to invest in jobs overseas, rather than for Americans. They want fewer regulations to save them money, and shift their costs to other Americans, who may pay with their lives. They took the bail-outs meant to help everyone, and sat on them, because they could, and the businesses farther down the financial chain had no choice. (At the same we see that Rep Paul Ryan is trying to get the Fed to tighten the money supply even further, and make it even harder on small businesses and consumers.) They want everyone to have to give their savings to Wall Street, and let Wall Street make the rules.

But for every compromise Obama makes, rather than being seen as someone who will not give up when faced with devastating political opposition, he is portrayed by too many as simply another corporatist. He inspired hope by manging to demonstrate that we were a better nation than many of us thought. But when the nation in effect let us down by also sending politicians who would do literally anything to defeat him, even sacrificing the interests of the nation, our Hope diminished, and Obama as the repository of our Hope, suffered.

All the President can do is to keep going. Some one has to be the adult, and treat us as adults. And all that we can do as citizens is to keep trying to live up to that ideal of a nation that we glimpsed with his election. And try to live up to the ideals we try to teach our children.
Begun 76 years ago today, the WPA brought America into the modern age. Our times call for a repeat of this effort.

More than three quarters of a century ago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that the “demoralization caused by vast unemployment is our greatest extravagance. Morally it is the greatest menace to our social order.” He also insisted that he would “stand or fall” by his “refusal to accept as a necessary condition of our future a permanent army of unemployed.” On the contrary, he said, “we must make it a national principle that we will not tolerate a large army of unemployed and that we will arrange our national economy to end our present unemployment as soon as we can and then take wise measures against its return. I do not think it is the destiny of any American to remain permanently on relief rolls.”

To put people back to work, FDR launched a series of programs designed to protect America’s environment (through the CCC reforestation programs and creation of the shelter belt in the Midwest to bring an end to the Dust Bowl) and build America’s economic infrastructure. The most famous of these was launched seventy-six years ago today: the Works Progress Administration or WPA. Between 1935 and 1943, the WPA literally built the infrastructure of modern America, including 572,000 miles of rural roads, 67,000 miles of urban streets, 122,000 bridges, 1,000 tunnels, 1,050 fifty airfields, and 4,000 airport buildings. It also constructed 500 water treatment plants, 1,800 pumping stations, 19,700 miles of water mains, 1,500 sewage treatment plants, 24,000 miles of sewers and storm drains, 36,900 schools, 2,552 hospitals, 2,700 firehouses, and nearly 20,000 county, state, and local government buildings.

Conservatives critics charged that the WPA was a “make work” program, but its accomplishments, which touched nearly every community in America, continue to make a mockery of this charge. The WPA put millions of skilled and unskilled laborers back to work — it was a requirement of the program that all those involved in the projects, from the architects and engineers down to the construction laborers, be hired by WPA dollars. It provided the critical economic infrastructure needed to bring the United States into the modern age.

It’s free! Sign up to have the Daily Digest, a witty take on the morning’s key headlines, delivered straight to your inbox.

Sadly, many of the conditions that led to the creation of the WPA are once again with us today: high unemployment and a crumbling economic infrastructure that is rapidly rendering the United States less and less competitive in the global economy. This sorry state of affairs is detailed in a recent article in The Economist, which notes, among other things, that the United States’ public spending on transport and water infrastructure has fallen steadily since the 1960s and now stands at a paltry 2.4% of GDP. Meanwhile, Europe spends on average 5% of GDP on infrastructure and China is spending 9%. In fact, the United States, according to the article, does not spend nearly enough just to maintain, let alone expand, its existing transport and water systems. The result is that today the US ranks 23rd among the nations of the world in overall infrastructure quality, according to a recent study by the World Economic Forum.

A new and even modest stimulus package would help alleviate this critical problem and provide millions of skilled and unskilled jobs, but the deficit hawks in Congress will have none of this. They insist that such a use of government is contrary to the American way.

To this, FDR’s would no doubt reply:

[T]o those who say that our expenditures for Public Works and other means for recovery are a waste that we cannot afford, I answer that no country, however rich, can afford the waste of its human resources…

In our efforts for recovery we have avoided on the one hand the theory that business should and must be taken over into an all-embracing Government. We have avoided on the other hand the equally untenable theory that it is an interference with liberty to offer reasonable help when private enterprise is in need of help. The course we have followed fits the American practice of Government — a practice of taking action step by step, of regulating only to meet concrete needs — a practice of courageous recognition of change. I believe with Abraham Lincoln, that “The legitimate object of Government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done but cannot do at all or cannot do so well for themselves in their separate and individual capacities.”

Isn’t it time we rebuilt our nation and put people back to work? Time for a new WPA?
David Woolner is a Senior Fellow and Hyde Park Resident Historian for the Roosevelt Institute.
more at

We are going through this exercise with our Fiestas Entrada pageant and the attack by the Red Nation protest group in 2015-17.

The Year History Died

We lost our hold on history when we declared it had ended

Thus, the past is the fiction of the present.”

–Michel de Certeau, The Writing of History

What is the meaning of history today? What idea of history is supposed to come to our minds when we hear its name invoked day after day? After all, Donald Trump’s political rise has been fueled from the beginning by the promise of a return of history, or a return to history. Moreover, whether in an attempt to sing their own praises or excuse themselves from blame, President Trump and his disciples have repeatedly (and often falsely) appealed to the “historic” weight, size, and significance of his election victory, of his inauguration and the crowd it drew, of his trips to Europe, of his trips to Asia, of the GOP tax bill, of his defense spending, of his dismantling of national monuments, of the natural disasters that have occurred during his time in office, etc.

Liberal pop culture has likewise developed something of an obsession with “historic” moments, markers, and achievements. Leftists, too, are doing battle among themselves over their own historical legacies as they continue forging a politics that seeks to address injustices done to the “historically oppressed.” At the same time, white supremacist and proto-fascist groups are growing bolder by the day, marching to the beat of their own blood-soaked appeals to a “proud” history they refuse to let die. Rising from the boiling broth, every week brings renewed battles over the very idea of history as it exists in personal experiences, monuments, classrooms, building names, stories, textbooks, prophecies, awards, etc.

Everyone is seemingly obsessed with history and also completely incapable of agreeing on what it means.

One could say that these are the consequences of an age in which history itself no longer seems to mean anything. Or perhaps the opposite is true—perhaps our problem is that history means too much. It’s clear, in either event, that we’re living through a curiously counter-historical era—one in which everyone is seemingly obsessed with history and also completely incapable of agreeing on what it means. This, I believe, is the central feature of our political moment: the accelerated death of any semblance of a commonly accepted (or tolerated) idea of history, and the resulting, increasingly ruthless war among competing visions of what history is, what it should look like, what purposes it must serve, what bearing it will have on the present, and what place any of us will have in it.

To be clear: this is not to say we’re experiencing (or re-experiencing, as the case may be) the much-ballyhooed “end of history.” In that distant, pregnant moment immediately following the fall of the Soviet Union, “free-market” liberal democracy had seemingly secured its place as the pinnacle of historical development, the “final form of human government,” as Francis Fukuyama confidently declared. Though that’s not to say this prematurely announced Hegelian victory has no bearing on what I’m describing. In fact, I’d argue that history’s relatively rapid death has been due, in large part, to the many and repeated manifestations of our deeply ingrained belief that, for decades, we have been sitting proudly at its summit.

Even if we never willfully bought into the idea itself, life in twenty-first-century America has largely suffered from the peculiar affliction of operating as if history itself was over—as if the endpoint was never in question, as if the continued dominance, let alone the very survival, of our interlocking arrangements of life and commerce and governance were never in doubt (at home or abroad). This affliction has much to recommend it. Its chief symptom, after all, is comfort: the comfort that allows us to remain blissfully ignorant of all the unlovely ways in which the American empire continues to operate as a motive force in the perpetual unfolding of history; also the comfort in the blind, imperial hubris of our now taken-for-granted role as a tirelessly interventionist superpower. However, taking such premature and unmerited comfort in the assured “end of history” is precisely what left so many of us oblivious to history’s continued work—oblivious, if not to the wars being waged at home on the world we took for granted, then to the legitimate threats posed by the insurgent forces behind them, from the Kochs and ALEC to Trump and the alt-right. This past year should have left no doubt in our minds about the latter.

Victors’ Tales

As much as it is a type of memory, history is a form of authority. The ultimate difference between “history” and “the past,” after all, is that the former always imposes itself on the latter. The past is always in the past—the past always was—but history can only be insofar as it can recover and represent the past through stories. And stories are never neutral. Even if it does so with the utmost respect and gentleness, history can never be entirely neutral or wholly inclusive in its recuperation of the past through stories. Stories always need authors, and authorship is always, inescapably a condition of authority.

The very act of narrating the past, as Michel-Rolph Trouillot reminds us, involves often subtle but unavoidable operations of power. To fit into a narrative that can be understood, available information must always be interpreted and ordered to “make sense”; choices must inevitably be made about what to include, how to present it, and what to leave out; questions of causality must be explained with hypotheses; etc. “Something is always left out while something else is recorded,” Trouillot writes. So, naturally, it matters who is doing the recording and how. The reasons for narrating the past, together with the sanctioned ways of turning the past into capital-H History have varied widely across cultures and time periods. But history itself is always a battle over how history itself is told—a battle to claim the right, the authority, to “author” the past.

History itself is always a battle over how history itself is told.

With such authority comes the power to set the acceptable standards for what history should look like, how it should function, and so on. At least since the end of the Cold War, the national popular consensus of neoliberalism (refreshed regularly by politicos, media pundits, pop culture, etc.) had seemingly settled on a core collection of shared assumptions about these concerns. Of course, this is not to suggest that all historiographical debates were magically settled (quite the opposite, in fact). But there was a certain continuity, an apparent shared consensus regarding the most basic historiographical demands ranging from who got to speak “with authority” about history and which (real or imagined) audiences they were expected to engage in suitably deferential fashion. Today, three decades after that confident moment of democratic reckoning, there is nothing shared about our standards and assumptions about history.

Not Even Past

We are living in an in-between period, an interregnum, in which history has lost all semblance of agreed-upon authority. Far from serving as a reassuring arbiter of social goods and larger political goals, the past today is a battlefront in a metastasizing war of all against all. The combatants are familiar enough to anyone glancing across a newspaper’s front page or a battery of cable chyrons: politicians, citizens, pundits, institutions, extremist groups, media outlets, social-media feeds—all are frantically jockeying to redefine and rezone the acceptable sources of historical authority as an essential step in their own parochial quest for political, cultural, and economic domination. This entails, among other things, directing their most vicious efforts at discrediting, destroying, or elbowing out traditionally accepted sources, practices, and standards.

It would be shallow to argue that such a state is the direct result of a twenty-first-century ecosystem dominated by the same digital media that have fried our attention spans, flattened our long-term historical memories, and provided a haven for fake and algorithmically filtered news, “alternative facts,” splintered publics, echo chambers, and so on. That is, an ecosystem that has provided many of the very conditions that have aided and emboldened these simultaneous assaults on history as we understand it. But it is absolutely true that history would not be in its current state without these things. Explaining how these and other socio-historical factors have directly or indirectly set the stage for the “death” of history is a much larger task. The real issue right now is the end result. When history has been unmoored from the sanctified markers and standards that anchor its authority, when accepted discourses and institutions are being viciously discredited, when individual and collective memories have been so dangerously flattened by the pace of the digital content stream, the result is a history up for grabs and a free-for-all battle of competing historical visions that operates, not by persuasion or compromise or consensus, but only by the singular principle of blunt force.

One presumes it won’t be this way forever, though. What is playing out as we speak is a battle over who gets to wield history’s power and how. And if we continue to play by the assumption that history has “ended,” that the result is already somehow guaranteed to be in our favor, we will lose.

The End of the End of History

As a historian, watching the news these days feels a lot like standing on the walls of Troy after Achilles slew Hector, looking down forlornly as the thing I love is defiled and dragged mercilessly through the dirt. It feels that way every time President Trump burps out proof that he knows next to nothing about the Civil War, or when he confidently implies that Frederick Douglass is still alive, or when he proudly shows the world he doesn’t know the basic history between China and Korea, or when he and his cabinet pathologically lie about just about anything in the recent past. It feels that way every time I’m reminded that Dinesh D’Souza crawled back out of the swamp and published a bestselling work of revisionist claptrap this summer claiming to expose “the Nazi roots of the American left”—and that this same person also coached the Trump administration on how to defend white supremacists and vilify the left. It feels that way every time the mainstream opens itself up to renewed and proud defenses of colonialism, monarchy, robber-baron capitalism, and myriad other skeletons in Western civilization’s dark, cavernous closet. History as we know it is being repeatedly brutalized before our eyes, and it seems like there’s little we can do to stop it.

As we confront, over and over again, the profound wrongness and stupidity of the Trumpian right’s grasp on history, the typical liberal-left response is to roll our eyes, to point and laugh, to maybe even express disgust and disbelief while still taking comfort in knowing what we know. But in the process of this no-doubt necessary cleansing of the lymphatic system, something else oozes out: the viscous trace of some elementary conceit at the core of how we’ve come to understand the world. It’s the kind of conceit about history and one’s place in it that has traditionally been reserved for those who enjoyed the greatest power and privilege of their day—up until, or just before, they lost it.

What is playing out as we speak is a battle over who gets to wield history’s power, and if we continue to play by the assumption that history has “ended,” we will lose.

I’m not interested in rehearsing another finger-wagging sermon about people being unduly “smug” or “elitist” about their historical knowledge. Nor do I plan to launch some relativist screed proposing that we are all somehow equally guilty of playing just as fast and just as loose with history as Trump and his ilk are. My real concern is that we will be either powerless or too late in confronting the horror of our historical moment if we do not seriously reckon with the peculiar conceit that has shaped our idea of history itself. Such a conceit is premised on faith in a history whose authority is tied to the standards and practices that have been secured by the very technocratic powers (from government to academia and the media) that are now under direct attack. It is premised on the normalized belief that the way we see history will always be the norm, that the world will continue to reflect back to us a history we recognize. At bottom, this enabling conceit suggests we actually take far less comfort in knowing the truth about history than we do in presuming that we are the living, rightful subjects of a truth that will always be secured and validated by history. If there is anything that can be taken as an enduring truth of history, it’s that such conceits always eventually come to an end.

In calling out the historical ignorance of Trump and his disciples, our impulse is to overreach. The problem isn’t that they’re wrong and we can usually prove it with facts, references, links, and arguments. The problem is that, in seeking to demonstrate the fanciful and malicious historical fictions of our not-so-loyal opposition, we unknowingly become dependent on this idealized notion of history as some vast, unmoving, and rigorously vetted archive of verifiable truth—and we assume the position of the qualified knowers of this truth. In our rush to confront the stupidity of others, we can end up boiling complex historical questions down to the matter of being right vs. being wrong, being smart vs. being ignorant, because on the surface, the dispute in question really is that painfully simple. But we are also overlooking the one essential truth about history that we absolutely cannot afford to: History is not about “correctly” remembering the past; it’s about the power to determine what gets remembered, and how.

The conceit of a fixed and undeviating history shares in the same disastrously blind overconfidence that fueled the bullet-train ride to our current mess: the confidence that there is just some objective, definitive body of historical knowledge that others are too ideologically warped to see or accept. It is of a piece with the liberal fetishization of “statistics” or “science” as authoritative instruments of inarguable knowledge we can deploy in order to effectively banish the vicious anti-knowledge of dangerous idiots, even when we don’t fully grasp them ourselves. Within this charmed circle of empirical privilege, it doesn’t really matter all that much whether our assertions are right. The real issue is our undying, technocratic faith in the rightness and permanence of the very things whose rightness and permanence depend on the power we are currently losing.

The Politics of Time

Our typical responses to history when it happens generally prove that we have no idea how history works. This is more observation—and admission—than judgment. A lot of it just has to do with the ways we’re wired. Getting by doesn’t really require that we try “to see the forest from the trees,” or to assiduously ponder our places or roles in history; on the contrary, it discourages it. We aren’t really programed to feel that history is somehow on the line in our day-to-day lives. From elementary school on up, we’re given a pretty boilerplate idea of what history is, when and where it “happens,” and who or what “makes” it. And it’s not this, not here, not now, not me.

But this, too, is an essential ingredient in the making of history: a critical mass of passive life that can adjust to it, absorb it, embody it, make it move, and make it stick. Here I don’t mean “passive” in any sort of condescending or derogatory way. It is more or less a name for the general condition of living in the world together. Again, we are encouraged and often need to operate with very little active or sustained concern for capital-H History. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t still and always participating in it. Indeed, one of the most crucial features of our participation in history has been our notorious inability to apprehend the high-stakes battle over history’s world-making power until it’s too late. For all the whiggish certainty that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, the real problem would seem to be that the populations who disregard history are condemned to be eaten by it.

Many Americans, I think, are currently experiencing for the first time what so many peoples on history’s stage have experienced in the past, even by America’s own hand: the imminent threat of erasure. Like the Maya who watched much of their culturedisappear into the vacuum of historical loss, like the millions and millions of other indigenous people who once populated this continent, like the countless slaves who, in building this country, were denied the right to be historically legible as anything else, many today are facing for the first time the reality that their stories are not guaranteed a place in the future. The bone-warping dread and anger and refusal that comes with facing such a reality has been, at times, enough for groups and individuals to storm the castle of history themselves and rewrite the world as we know it.

We would be wrong, though, to assume that these groups and individuals are always, to put it crassly, “the good guys.” No one who was ever erased by history saw themselves as the hero, or the villain, at the time. Determining who the villains of history are is one of the great spoils of historical conflict; heroes are designated after the fact by those who get to tell the story. “[T]he past is the fiction of the present.” We know this. It is also a grim fact that the Trump-led right and its many radical fiefdoms had long seen themselves as the ones under threat of historical erasure (a point thattheir opposition did not deny). That is, of course, until they got power.

Now it’s our turn to fear the abyss. Now it’s our turn to fight against oblivion. The frightening truth, however, is that for too long, too many of us have continued to operate on the same privileged belief that the supports holding up our given idea of history will not collapse—the same, shibboleth, in other words, that has sheltered us from ever having to consider what it would be like to face the kind of threat we’re now facing. Too many have failed to acknowledge that the Trumpian political mission is determined, not just to secure a place in history, but to dictate what history will bemoving forward. Because such a prospect has never encroached on our privileged ability to expect that history would always have a favorable place for us (or any place at all), we seem to be utterly incapable of recognizing it for what it is. And time is running out.


Maximillian Alvarez is a dual-PhD candidate and graduate student instructor in the departments of History and Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan. He received his BA and graduated with honors from the University of Chicago in 2009.


Someone has asked to defend my assertion that the Koch Family is evil. That at the end of each PBS show Charles or David Koch have their name flashed as a benefactor. As if this is enough to erase the deep Koch Family crimes. Fred Koch (, the brothers’ father, made a small fortune illegally selling arms to Joe Stalin that he used in the purge of the White Russians or the slaughter of twenty (20) million Russian citizens. His intense dislike of Communism after spending so much time in Europe and helping Stalin led him to help found the John Birch Society ( This is an ultra-right-wing group of libertarians who believed in having a New World Order since the United States was on the wrong path in the late 1950’s.

Charles Koch helped found and fund the Cato Institute in order to advance conservative principles: ( part of this is the destruction of the national Public School system.

Nazi connections:

William —

Even with Congress frequently deadlocked, the Koch brothers have found a way to quietly pass sweeping right-wing legislation across the country.

They’ve done it by spending millions upon millions of dollars to take over state legislatures and enact their agenda: Dismantle unions, scrap environmental protections, cut taxes for the super-rich and take away voting rights.

This stranglehold on our democracy is just getting started. As best-selling author Nancy MacLean exposes in her incredible book, “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America,” the movement traces back to libertarian thinker James McGill Buchanan and has numerous powerful allies, including Mike Pence.

If you want to understand the intellectual framework for the agenda of the Koch brothers and the full extent of their secretive plans, Nancy MacLean’s timely book — a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award — is a must-read.

Do you want to read this important book AND support Democracy for America’s work to defeat the Koch brothers at the ballot box? Chip in $39 to DFA today and we’ll send you a copy of “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America” as our thanks for your support.

The Kochs will not stop at reshaping state politics; they want to reshape the U.S. Constitution as well.

Republicans now control 32 state legislatures. If they reach control of 34 states — or two-thirds of all of the states — they will use Article 5 to begin amending the Constitution.

Already 28 states have moved forward in support of passing a “balanced-budget amendment” — a dangerous proposal that would endanger our economy and programs like Social Security. Additional far-right amendments, like an abortion ban or a ban on same-sex marriage, would be soon to follow.

Here’s what we can do to stop the Koch brothers:

  1. Work to elect candidates in all 50 states and flip state legislatures from Purple to Blue
  2. Expose their plans and spread the word about their dangerous implications
  3. Overturn Citizens United

You can contribute to all of these important causes by supporting DFA today and getting a copy of “Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America” at the same time.

If you want Nancy MacLean’s powerful book, please chip in $39 to support DFA’s work to defeat the Koch brothers at the ballot box — and we’ll send you a copy of “Democracy in Chains” as our thanks.

Thank you again for your support.

– Jay

Jay Henderson, Digital Strategy Manager
Democracy for AmericaKoch
What Do the Koch Brothers Want?
As a result of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, billionaires and large corporations can now spend an unlimited amount of money to influence the political process.

Perhaps, the biggest winners of Citizens United are Charles and David Koch, owners of the second-largest privately run business in America Koch Industries.

Among other things, the Koch brothers own oil refineries in Texas, Alaska, and Minnesota and control some 4,000 miles of pipeline.

According to Forbes Magazine, the Koch brothers are now worth $80 billion, and have increased their wealth by $12 billion since last year alone.

For the Koch brothers, $80 billion in wealth, apparently, is not good enough. Owning the second largest private company in America is, apparently, not good enough. It doesn’t appear that they will be satisfied until they are able to control the entire political process.

It is well known that the Koch brothers have provided the major source of funding to the Tea Party and want to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

David KochWhat else do the Koch brothers want?

In 1980, David Koch ran as the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate in 1980.

Let’s take a look at the 1980 Libertarian Party platform.

Here are just a few excerpts of the Libertarian Party platform that David Koch ran on in 1980:

“We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.”
“We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”
“We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services.”
“We also favor the deregulation of the medical insurance industry.”
“We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in Social Security should be made voluntary.”
“We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service. The present system, in addition to being inefficient, encourages governmental surveillance of private correspondence. Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service.”
“We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.”
“We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.”
“As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.”
“We support repeal of all law which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws.”
“We advocate the complete separation of education and State. Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”
“We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws.”
“We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit.”
“We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.”
“We support abolition of the Department of Energy.”
“We call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation.”
“We demand the return of America’s railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of the public roads and national highway system.”
“We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called “self-protection” equipment such as safety belts, air bags, or crash helmets.”
“We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Administration.”
“We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.”
“We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children.”
“We oppose all government welfare, relief projects, and ‘aid to the poor’ programs. All these government programs are privacy-invading, paternalistic, demeaning, and inefficient. The proper source of help for such persons is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.”
“We call for the privatization of the inland waterways, and of the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households.”
“We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”
“We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”
“We support the repeal of all state usury laws.”
In other words, the agenda of the Koch brothers is not only to defund Obamacare. The agenda of the Koch brothers is to repeal every major piece of legislation that has been signed into law over the past 80 years that has protected the middle class, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the most vulnerable in this country.

It is clear that the Koch brothers and other right wing billionaires are calling the shots and are pulling the strings of the Republican Party.

And because of the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, they now have the power to spend an unlimited amount of money to buy the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the next President of the United States.

If they are allowed to hijack the American political process to defund Obamacare they will be back for more.

Tomorrow it will be Social Security, ending Medicare as we know it, repealing the minimum wage. It seems to me that the Koch brothers will not be content until they get everything they believe they are entitled to.

Our great nation can no longer be hijacked by right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers.

For the sake of our children and our grandchildren, for the sake of our economy, we have got to let democracy prevail.