The Bundys and their religious government

❝ The Bundys are Mormons who believe that the Constitution was inspired, if not more or less dictated wholesale, by God—and that the founding of the United States was the first step toward the restoration of Zion on the continent where most of the Book of Mormon takes place. They’ve taken much of this from W. Cleon Skousen, a fervent Mormon and formative figure of the postwar America extreme-right who believed in a divine America beset by internationalist conspiracies to overthrow the Constitution. The Bundys have identified parts of the Skousenite philosophy and built their own system on top of it—as much a practical guide to living as a political schema, and it’s something they teach as all their own, without citing any influences besides the Constitution and the Bible.

❝ The Constitution, for the Bundys, is an expression of certain natural rights, which are basically our rights to life, liberty, and property, with a heavy emphasis on property. These are supposed to have been implanted by God and so natively obvious that all people sense them intrinsically. Property, for them, is gotten and maintained, in a very frontier way, by your right to “claim, use, and defend” it, as they repeat ad nauseam. It’s a strange irony of the Bundys’ ability to generate media attention that this is maybe the key trio of words in their entire ideology, but that if you Google “claim, use, defend” along with the name “Bundy,” they seem to have not been able to get a single reporter to quote the phrase.

Yeah, they sound like so many of the John Birchers, Minutemen, Klan members I’ve encountered in almost 60 years of activism for civil liberties, civil rights. Including a few family members back East. Religious bigotry comes even easier than distorting the Constitution to most of these folks. Analysts who care about this crap more than I — have written, will write over and again detailed analyses of what drives this variety of populist ideology. I can’t crank up enough curiosity to drag my attention past their nutball crap. Focussing on their outlaw habits pretending to be civil disobedience is dangerous enough. More than that is deadly boring.

Betrayal of the American People

Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s beleaguered Environmental Protection Agency administrator, faced tough questioning at a Senate hearing Wednesday that included one Democrat calling Pruitt’s entire tenure a “betrayal of the American people…”

“Every day there seems to be a new scandal and you at dead center,” New Mexico Democrat Tom Udall told Pruitt. “Your tenure at the EPA is a betrayal of the American people. You have used your office to enrich yourself at the expense of the American taxpayer and public health.”

Udall lives up to his family’s tradition, a Senator’s responsibility to the people who he represents and the nation as a whole. Unlike scumbags like Pruitt and our fake president.

One scumbag responsible for 96 million robocalls

❝ Have you ever gotten a phone call from a number that looked very similar to your own, only to pick up and realize it’s a robocall trying to sell you something?

If you have, you’re not alone. This week, the Federal Communications Commission slapped its largest fines ever on a Florida man it says is responsible for more than 96 million of those dreaded robocalls.

❝ Adrian Abramovich, the Miami man behind the scheme, was ordered to pay a $120 million fine this week as punishment for scamming millions of people with more than 96 million robocalls over a three-month period in 2016.

❝ While robocalls themselves aren’t illegal, it is illegal to “spoof” caller ID information in the name of defrauding people, which is exactly what the FCC says Abramovich did. He spoofed area codes as well as the first three digits of phone numbers in order to disguise the calls as legitimate calls from local numbers.

If you can’t do the time or pay the fine – than don’t commit the crime!

So, How Many Countries Are Bribing Our Fake President?

China…just committed $500 million to build a theme park in an Indonesian luxury mega-development that will also feature Trump Organization-branded hotels and a golf course. Days after the commitment was finalized, Trump announced that he wants to lift sanctions that have been imposed on a Chinese telecom company called ZTE, which did business with Iran…

Qatar’s government has…reportedly met multiple times with representatives of Newsmax, the conservative media outlet run by Trump’s frequent Mar-a-Lago companion Christopher Ruddy, about a potential investment in the company. The reported negotiations have coincided with a shift in the Trump administration’s rhetoric about Qatar: After initially condemning the country for supporting terrorism, a condemnation that coincided with a Qatari decision not to invest in Jared Kushner’s company, the White House has now decided that Qatar is a trustworthy ally whose leader is, in Trump’s words, a “great friend….”

• Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, named the developer of a Trump-branded building in Manila as the country’s trade envoy to the U.S.

Actually, the headline should be “How many countries are working at bribing our fake president – that we know about?” The number grows every day, Professional journalists continue to ply their craft regardless of the small but powerful number of cable news pimps, tabloid flacks and payroll politicians working their runny butts off for populist scumbags. They may have won a few rounds. Chalk that up to ignorant voters.

The best army that generals of fascism ever have is uneducated voters. Still, even the dullest follower must recognize the economic and social losses resulting from their obedience to fear and bigotry shouted out at campaign rallies. Hopefully, sooner rather than later.

Recent Wars of the American Empire

This essay is the introduction to Tom Engelhardt’s new book, A Nation Unmade by War

❝ As I was putting the finishing touches on my new book, the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute published an estimate of the taxpayer dollars that will have gone into America’s war on terror from September 12, 2001, through fiscal year 2018. That figure: a cool $5.6 trillion including the future costs of caring for our war vets. On average, that’s at least $23,386 per taxpayer.

Keep in mind that such figures, however eye-popping, are only the dollar costs of our wars. They don’t, for instance, include the psychic costs to the Americans mangled in one way or another in those never-ending conflicts. They don’t include the costs to this country’s infrastructure, which has been crumbling while taxpayer dollars flow copiously and in a remarkably — in these years, almost uniquely — bipartisan fashion into what’s still laughably called “national security.”

❝ That’s not, of course, what would make most of us more secure, but what would make them — the denizens of the national security state — ever more secure in Washington and elsewhere. We’re talking about the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. nuclear complex and the rest of that state-within-a-state, including its many intelligence agencies and the warrior corporations that have, by now, been fused into that vast and vastly profitable interlocking structure.

Of course this rape of the national pocketbook – in the course of building a new imperial empire to replace the failed British model – is bipartisan in Congress and throughout our government. When did you expect political standards, history-based ethics, to replace the simple profit motive driving most American politicians?