August 2017



Featured Articles and Editorials:

Main Stories

White Supremacists in Charlottesville

Remarkable documentary by VICE about the events in Charlottesville, including interviews with people on both sides of the protest:

Doxxing White Supremacists Is Making Them Terrified
(VICE – 8/15/17)

In January, Fox News Posted a Video of Cars Mowing Down Protesters That Urged Viewers to “Study the Technique”
(Slate – 8/15/17)

How the Charlottesville Attacker Became Radicalized
(VICE – 8/14/17)

Charlottesville Suspect Allegedly Hit His Mom in Fight Over Video Games
(VICE – 8/14/17)

What We Know About James Alex Fields, Driver Charged in Charlottesville Killing
(New York Times – 8/13/17)

Car Hits Crowd After White Nationalist Rally in Charlottesville Ends in Violence
(New York Times – 8/12/17)

“Why we voted for Donald Trump”: David Duke explains the white supremacist Charlottesville protests
(Vox – 8/12/17)


Posted on Facebook:


Trump’s Response to White Supremacists in Charlottesville

Trump’s deleted cartoon dramatically altered the message, says Indianapolis Star creator
(Washington Post – 8/15/17)

Trump Defends Initial Remarks on Charlottesville; Again Blames ‘Both Sides’
(New York Times – 8/15/17)

Read the transcript of Donald Trump’s jaw-dropping press conference
(CNBC – 8/15/17)

Consequences for Trump’s Response to White Supremacists in Charlottesville

Mnuchin responds to nearly 300 former classmates calling for his resignation
(The Hill – 8/19/17)

After Charlottesville, Republicans remain stymied over what to do about Trump
(New York Times – 8/19/17)

Now charities are dumping Trump, too
(CNN – 8/18/17)

Text of James Murdoch’s Email Condemning Trump’s Response to Charlottesville
(New York Times –  8/17/17)

Trump’s Embrace of Racially Charged Past Puts Republicans in Crisis
(New York Times – 8/16/17)

Trump disbands CEO advisory panels
(Politico – 8/16/17)

Inside the C.E.O. Rebellion Against Trump’s Advisory Councils
(New York Times – 8/16/17)

Trump tweets he knows plenty of CEOs to replace the ‘grandstanders’ who resigned from his manufacturing council
(New York Times – 8/15/17)

North Korea

North Korea warns of ‘merciless strike’ ahead of US-South Korea drills
(CNN – 8/21/17)

Mullen: Trump’s rhetoric on North Korea ‘has taken away options’
(Politico – 8/13/17)

Trump Says Military Is ‘Locked and Loaded’ and North Korea Will ‘Regret’ Threats
(New York Times – 8/11/17)

Trump threatens North Korea with “fire and fury

Trump: Maybe ‘fire and fury’ statement on North Korea wasn’t tough enough
(CNBC – 8/10/17)

Meet Kim Jong-un, a Moody Young Man With a Nuclear Arsenal
(New York Times – 8/10/17)

North Koreans stage massive rally in show of defiance against Donald Trump
(The Independent – 8/10/17)

North Korea Guam missile strike plan ‘ready by mid-August’
(BBC – 8/1017)

‘God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un,’ evangelical adviser says
(Washington Post – 8/9/17)

A 25-Year Army Vet Explains the North Korea Warning Sign He’s Waiting For
(Esquire – 8/9/17)

North Korea now making missile-ready nuclear weapons, U.S. analysts say
(Washington Post – 8/8/17)

Trump and Russia

Trump Praises Putin Instead of Critiquing Cuts to U.S. Embassy Staff
(New York Times – 8/10/17)

Unarmed Russian Air Force jet overflies the Pentagon, Capitol, CIA
(CNN – 8/10/17)

Low-Flying Russian Surveillance Plane Flies Over Capitol and Pentagon
(Time – 8/10/17)

Interactive Timeline: Everything We Know About Russia and President Trump
(Bill Moyers & Company – 8/717)

Maybe What Russia Wants From Trump Is Permission to Launder Its Dirty Money
(Slate – 7/20/18)

Mueller Investigation

FBI conducted predawn raid of former Trump campaign chairman Manafort’s home
(Washington Post – 8/9/17)

Why is the FBI so interested in Paul Manafort that agents were literally at his door before dawn?
(Washington Post – 8/9/17)

Trump Seeks to Rally Political Base as Mueller Probe Accelerates
(Bloomberg – 8/4/17)

Mueller Seeks White House Documents on Flynn
(New York Times – 8/4/17)

Mueller impanels grand jury in Russia probe
(The Hill – 8/3/17)

Mueller Plunges Across Trump’s Red Line
(The Atlantic – 8/3/17)

Former Justice Department official joins Mueller team
(Reuters – 8/1/17)

Conflicts of Interest

Secret Service quits Trump Tower in dispute over lease
(BBC – 8/4/17)

Mental Illness

As Trump ranted and rambled in Phoenix, his crowd slowly thinned
(Washington Post – 8/23/17)

Donald Trump ‘handed folder of positive news clippings twice a day by White House staff’
(The Independent – 8/9/17)

Full transcript: Trump’s Wall Street Journal interview
The president sat down with the Journal’s editor-in-chief Gerard Baker in the Oval Office on July 25
(Politico – 8/1/17)

Those Calls to Trump? White House Admits They Didn’t Happen
(New York Times – 8/2/17)

‘This deal will make me look terrible’: Full transcripts of Trump’s calls with Mexico and Australia
(Washington Post – 8/3/17)


Trump is Going to Resign Soon, President’s “Art of the Deal” Writer Predicts
(Newsweek – 8/17/17)

Trump Impeachment Process Begins as Democrat States President ‘Failed test of Moral Leadership’
(Newsweek – 8/17/17)

National Mood

Missouri official deletes Trump assassination post
(Journal Gazette – 8/18/17)

New ad by the National Rifle Association directed at New York Times: “We’re Coming for You”

… and a previous NRA ad from about a month ago:


Poll: Half of Republicans would back postponing 2020 election if Trump proposed it
(The Hill – 8/10/17)

Steve Bannon Ousted

Bannon is back at Breitbart News, and he’s planning to make mischief
(The Atlantic – 8/18/17)

Steve Bannon’s exit from the Trump White House, explained
(Vox – 8/18/17)

National Finances

Secret Service depletes funds to pay agents because of Trump’s frequent travel, large family
(USA Today – 8/21/17)

Trump to Congress: Fund the Wall or I’ll Shut the Government
(New York Times – 8/23/17)

Other Stories That You Should Know About

Yes, Donald Trump really did look into the sky during the solar eclipse
(CNN – 8/22/17)

Trump Settles on Afghan Strategy Expected to Raise Troop Levels
(New York Times – 8/20/17)

Prominent Supporter of President Trump Admits He Regrets His Vote
(Time – 8/17/17)

Justice Dept. Demands Data on Visitors to Anti-Trump Website, Sparking Fight
(New York Times – 8/15/17)

Venezuela calls Trump’s warning of possible military action a ‘crazy act’
(CNN – 8/12/17)

Trump attacks on McConnell bring rebukes from fellow Republicans
(Washington Post – 8/10/17)

Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Urges Trump to Privatize Afghan War & Install Viceroy to Run Nation
(Democracy Now – 8/9/17)

Scientists Fear Trump Will Dismiss Blunt Climate Report
(New York Times – 8/7/17)

With military discipline imposed, Trump getting more time for decisions
(Reuters – 8/4/17)

Attorney general says Justice Dept. has tripled the number of leak probes
(Washington Post – 8/4/17)

Trump’s daughter-in-law hosts ‘real news’ program on his Facebook page
(The Hill – 8/2/17)


(Los Angeles Times – 8/20/17)

Trump Thinks About Nuclear Annihilation a Lot, But Doesn’t Know Much About It
(New York Magazine – 8/20/17)

Don’t fall into the Bannon trap
(CNN – 8/18/17)

How To Punish A President
(Just Security – 8/17/17)

‘He is stubborn and doesn’t realize how bad this is getting’
(Politico – 8/16/17)

A professor of German history explains the true horror of Trump’s response to Charlottesville
(Raw Story – 8/16/17)

How America Lost Its Mind
(The Atlantic – September 2017 Issue)

Jared Kushner Calls Kim Jong-un “Totally Unqualified Person” Who Got Job Only Through Nepotism (Satire)
(New Yorker – 8/18/17 Issue)

Millions Willing to Work for Mueller for Free If That Would Speed Things Up(Satire)
(New Yorker – 8/15/17)

Why Does Trump Still Refuse to Criticize Putin?
(The Atlantic – 8/11/17)

Trump threatened ‘fire and fury.’ Here’s why to some that’s perfectly Godlike.
(Salt Lake Tribune – 8/11/17)

A Trump nuclear strike against North Korea: constitutional or not?
(Politifact – 8/10/17)

Liberals are terrible at arguing with conservatives. Here’s how they can get better.
(Washington Post – 8/10/17)

Sorry, Mike Pence, You’re Doomed
(New York Times – 8/8/17)

The biggest threat to free speech? It’s the left
(Boston Globe – 8/7/17)

The Policies of White Resentment
(New York Times – 8/5/17)

The Democratic Self-Sabotage Continues
(Esquire – 8/4/17)

Trump’s continued attacks on Clinton tell us why the Democrats lost
(Washington Post – 8/4/17)

Trump’s supporters worship him as though he were their personal road to salvation and happiness
(Alternet – 7/31/17)

Alternative Facts from an Alternative Universe

Posted on Facebook by former Navy SEAL sniper:



Cartoons, Images & Video

Source: Unknown


Source: Unknown

Cartoon by Dan Wasserman, Boston Globe:


Tina Fey’s Takedown of Trump

Source: Unknown:


Posted on YouTube by “Liberal Redneck” (warning: profanity):

Source: Unknown


Source: Unknown


Source: Unknown



Cartoon by David Horsy, LA Times:


Cartoon by Dave Granlund:


Cartoon by Ann Telnaes, Washington Post:


Cartoon by Dave Granlund:


Cartoon by Dave Granlund:


Cartoon by Jeff Darcy:


Cartoon by Phil Hands, Wisconsin State Journal:

Cartoon by Kevin Siers:


Cartoon by Phil Hands, Wisconsin State Journal:


Source: Unknown


T-shirt available at this link:

Source: Unknown:

Source: Unknown:

America’s Cult Culture

America’s Cult Culture

Cults absolutely fascinate me: Scientology, the Manson family, Bhagwan Rajneesh, Zendik Farm, Jim Jones and the People’s Temple, the Branch Davidians, Warren Jeffs, Heaven’s Gate. Part of the draw is marveling at the wacked out belief systems and blind loyalty, and part of it is a lingering question in the back of my mind: could I ever be susceptible to something like that? I have thrown myself passionately into causes and felt a strong loyalty to charismatic individuals. What separated those periods in my life from the kind of personality capable of joining a cult has, in retrospect, at times seemed like a very thin line.

Things that cults tend to have in common include:

  • Passionate and unquestioning loyalty to the leader
  • The leader’s words and beliefs are seen as the absolute truth, even when evidence is presented to the contrary
  • Doubt or dissent are discouraged
  • Members are isolated: communications with friends and family who might raise questions about the new beliefs are ended or severely limited
  • Members have a sense of superiority over nonmembers and outsiders, often viewing them through an us-versus-them filter
  • Leadership is unaccountable
  • The cult’s goals and beliefs can be used to justify actions and events that members would otherwise see as unacceptable or unethical

Looking from the outside at the bizarre beliefs and practices of a cult, it can be easy to dismiss cult members as dumb, gullible, crazy, or weak in character. Yet many intelligent, well-educated, reasonable people join cults. What would cause an otherwise sane person to come under the sway of something so illogical?

Nearly every human being is motivated by a desire for belonging, significance, and meaning. A cult fills those needs, and provides something else that can be intoxicating for many: a sense of moral, spiritual or intellectual superiority. Cult members believe that they are privy to a level of understanding and truth that the rest of the world is oblivious to. They are special. And challenges to that truth are by extension challenges to their specialness. When self-esteem is low, such challenges can feel deeply threatening and cause cult members to double down on the beliefs that have given them such a self-satisfying feeling of being special.

American politics has evolved into something that powerfully and dangerously combines many traits of the cult mentality – on both sides, but particularly for Trump supporters. In a recent CNN interview, a very articulate entrepreneur stated emphatically that if Jesus Christ came down from the cross and told him that the President had colluded with the Russians, he wouldn’t believe it unless Donald Trump verified that it was true. While this is an extreme example, Trump’s “I could shoot someone on 5th Avenue” statement is not far off base for many of his supporters.

The information age promised to enrich our minds, offering us whole worlds of knowledge and ideas previously inaccessible or difficult to access. Instead, what we have ended up with is a country divided into factions, each of which has largely chosen for itself one “world,” where they stay firmly cloistered within their own silo of information and ideas. Cable news shows, talk radio shows, blogs, social media connections, and personal connections can all be selected to provide daily tailored reinforcement for the ideas and facts that we already want to believe – and deselected to shut out contrary views and information. Spiked by the interpersonal animosity towards differing views that intensified during the 2016 election, many of us have evolved the same sort of self-selected isolation from “outsiders” (i.e., differing views) that takes place in a cult, but on a mass scale, and in a context that feels like we are simply continuing about our normal lives.

That isolation and us-versus-them feeling is bolstered by a smug sense of superiority. Many who oppose Trump look down their noses at Trump supporters as ignorant, racist, hypocritically possessing a warped and selective moral compass, willfully blind to the dangerousness, corruption and self-centered motivations of the President, and easily duped by a compulsively lying charlatan. Trump supporters feel a sense of snickering superiority to those who oppose the President, seeing them as completely disconnected from any meaningful awareness of the hardships endured by rural and working class Americans, willfully blind to the deep systemic flaws that are crushing the American dream for so many, gullibly guzzling fake news from the mainstream media, and hypocritically preaching love and tolerance in the same breath as they hate and shun those who dare not buy into every nuance of their increasingly rigid and narrow liberal ideology. Both worldviews nurture an uncompromising sense of being “better than the other side” – and a growing belief in an inferior, less-than-human mass of “others” living in the same country.

We are in the midst of a perfect storm for something potentially very frightening in America: a powerful, nuclear-armed nation technologically wired for totalitarianism as never before, with a weak-kneed political class of corporate sycophants and a dimly recalled set of Constitutional rights, checks and balances being the only things standing in the way of losing our democracy entirely. Our charismatic leader is seen by his followers as irrefutably having “the truth,” and his reckless, dangerous and impulsive behavior is met with an uneasy shrug from a timid Congress, rather than being met with any real accountability. His supporters seem willing to rationalize anything that he says or does, even if it clearly and directly conflicts with values that they claim to hold dear. The President hardens their faith in him by discounting any uncomfortable facts as “fake news.” Relatives and long-time friends are disconnecting socially and online in favor of those whose beliefs are more in line with their own. Large segments of the population now consider themselves superior to the out-of-touch “others.” And unlike all but the most insulated cults, most Americans immerse themselves daily  in multiple channels of information and ideas that all confirm the chosen reality they want to believe in. In short, many Americans are now part of the foundations of a massive, potent, and self-contained cult.

Lest those who oppose Trump start feeling too smug about all this, look no further than that smug feeling to realize that, under the right circumstances and with your own self-selected relationships and channels of information, you are just as susceptible to this mentality. You are not superior. You just didn’t fall for this particular dogma and misinformation.

There is no easy answer to the situation in which we find ourselves. Attitudes and beliefs have become largely solidified. Impeachment looks unlikely in the near term, and realistically would not address the conditions that have landed us here. A large number of bloggers and news outlets have found a reliable money stream from churning out appealing misinformation, selective facts and innuendo. And our culture and political system are so massive and clumsy as to be capable of changing course with the nimbleness and speed of an ocean liner.

But the path that we are on is unsustainable. If we continue to isolate from one another and dehumanize one another, it can lead nowhere good.

When a loved one is in a cult, one solution is “deprogramming” – kidnapping the cult member, holding them against their will, educating them about the techniques used by cults, encouraging and praising them when they engage in critical thinking, and working to restore an emotional connection with people from their past outside the cult. Given the large swath of the country under Trump’s spell, a deprogramming approach is not practical – much less ethical or legal.

What little solution that I can visualize to America’s current plight is this. Reconnect with people with whom you disagree. Listen to their concerns, their fears, their dreams, and try to understand what in their life experiences make that so important to them. Be humble. Assume the best of them as your fellow human beings, and avoid judging or shaming them, even as you hang on firmly to your values. Frequently and continuously seek out news sources that you know you’ll disagree with – not because they will give you facts, but because they will help you understand what is animating the passions of others, and because it will help you in your conversations with them. And remember that there are many flavors of Kool Aid out there: be sure that you aren’t drinking any yourself.

– rob rünt