THE RIGHT WING
21 Facts That Explain Exactly Who Stephen Miller Is
The new Trump mouthpiece has been like this for a long time.
By Kali Holloway / AlterNet February 17, 2017
Photo Credit: YouTube
Even among the right-wing ideologues doing the actual presidenting in this administration, Stephen Miller stands out for the copious amounts of Kool-Aid he mainlines. Speaking to the New York Times, a Trump team colleague described Miller as “fiercely loyal” to the president, “a true believer in every sense of the word.” Though he joined the campaign in its early days, penning many of the apocalyptic speeches that won fear-drunk Republican hearts and minds, Miller recently got a lot more visibility after a string of television appearances in defense of the Muslim ban. At each stop, Miller showed a flair for the dramatic: he lied, he dodged, he put on his best tyrant’s voice and proclaimed the executive branch above the law. It seemed contrived and forced, like a politically precocious, weasley teenager’s idea of how to command a crowd. According to those who know Miller’s history, that’s not so far off the mark.
Dating back to junior high school, Miller has been the unwavering right-winger now before us. Though the internet, and some of his family members, were quick to compare him to Joseph Goebbels, this reporter saw a resemblance to Roy Cohn—a Trump mentor—down to the sartorial details. Miller wears retro skinny suits, only recently ditched a chain-smoking habit and has the kind of cockiness that reads as unexamined, unsympathetic self-hatred. His barked orders and put-on baritone are all part of the package, and can strike an observer as funny. At least until you remember this guy is trying to turn the country into an all-white gated community.
The Trump administration is the natural place for Miller to end up. He’s been writing racist, anti-immigrant rants for half his life and he’s only 31. He’s worked for some of the most deplorable U.S. politicians out there, only to become the voice for the worst of all. By all accounts, he is as terrible—and dangerous—as he seems, which is why he’s no laughing matter. And in that way, he is exactly like his boss. As one of his high school classmates told the Daily Beast, “People laughed at [Miller] because he was a buffoon, he was a performer, he thrived on spectacle. I’m very conscious now, looking back, that he was treated the same way that Trump was—he wasn’t taken seriously.”
Here are 21 facts that explain who Stephen Miller is.
1. The National Rifle Association was his first right-wing love.
Miller grew up in Santa Monica, a coastal city long regarded as a progressive bastion in L.A. County. A Los Angeles Times profile states Miller, along with two siblings, was raised in a “Jewish family of longtime Franklin Roosevelt Democrats.” Somewhere around eighth grade, Miller’s politics took a hard right after reading Guns, Crime, and Freedom, penned by National Rifle Association head Wayne LaPierre.
2. He dumped a childhood friend because he was Latino.
According to Jason Islas, in the summer between middle and junior high, Miller told him, “I can't be your friend anymore because you are Latino.” According to Islas, the two never spoke again, though he hasn’t lost much sleep over the demise of their friendship. “[It] didn't bother me, because the fact that Miller rejected me because I am Latino showed me he was pretty much worthless,” he told Univision.
3. He was the ' best-known and least-liked conservative activist' in his liberal high school.
Miller was in the racial and political minority at Santa Monica High, where 30 percent of students were Latino, 12 percent black and 5 percent Asian. Oscar de la Torre, a counselor at the school who remains active in the community, describes Miller as being “on a crusade against liberalism and liberals.”
Student body president Justin Brownstone says Miller “enjoyed saying things that were perceived as racist. The more he offended, the happier he was.”
“He had a lot of grudges,” de la Torre told Fusion. “He didn't go out of his way to go to dances or to have girlfriends. I don't remember ever seeing him smile.”
4. He started as a right-wing mouthpiece in high school.
Julia Ioffe writes that Miller reached out to conservative talk radio host Larry Elder while at Santa Monica High, mostly to complain about pervasive liberalism in his school. He also started writing articles for the Santa Monica Lookout. Miller leveraged his role as local conservative media maven to win unilateral wars against what he imagined were lefty enemies in his school.
“Thus began a cycle that would repeat itself over and over in high school and college,” Ioffe writes, “Miller would clash with school administrators over a perceived leftist conspiracy...then escalate the conflict by taking it to a conservative talk show, infuriating the administrators but yielding a compromise in Miller’s favor.”
In a column written just after graduation, Miller noted that just “since his Junior year in High School, he [had] been a guest on local and national radio over thirty times.”
5. He spent months fighting to reinstate the Pledge of Allegiance in his high school.
In a letter to local media outlet the Lookout decrying “political correctness out of control,” 16-year-old Miller complained that “our school refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance in classrooms for years,” proof that “they only adhere to the liberal guidelines.” For months, Miller pestered school administrators to “bring back the pledge” even dragging the superintendent into the fight. The pledge was ultimately reinstated, though Miller moaned in his letter that “it is still only said twice a week, while policy dictates it should be said every day.”
6. Some things Miller’s classmates have said about his attitudes on race.
Charles Gould, whom the Daily News describes as Miller’s schoolmate from first to 12th grade, wrote, “[Miller] was an unabashed racist. No, I’m not being over sensitive and no, I’m not using the 'r' word where it doesn’t apply. In private conversations he was constantly making disparaging remarks about the African-American, Latino and Asian students at our school.”
Classmate Natalie Flores, who wrote a Huffington Post piece about growing up with Miller, told Univision that Miller seemed to have “an intense hatred toward people of color, especially toward Latinos.” She added, “I think his big problem was the Latinos. He thought they lived off welfare.”
“[It] was not just that he targeted minority students, and played a victim on a regular basis, but was an asshole,” Ari Rosmarin, the editor of the student newspaper who now works at the ACLU, told the Daily Beast. “Most people knew him because he made it his business to have everyone hear his vile rhetoric on a regular basis.”
7. His high school writings demonstrate his budding right-wing views.
In that same letter, Miller writes, “When I entered Santa Monica High School...I noticed a number of students lacked basic English skills. There are usually very few, if any, Hispanic students in my honors classes, despite the large number of Hispanic students that attend our school. Even so, pursuant to district policy, all announcements are written in both Spanish and English. By providing a crutch now, we are preventing Spanish speakers from standing on their own...”
He goes on to gripe about condoms in his school (“Legally speaking, sex between minors is statutory rape”), the presence of a student LGBT group (“[W]e have a club on campus that will gladly help foster their homosexuality”), reverence for Native Americans (“excusing their scalping of frontiersmen as part of their culture”) and the lack of praise for the U.S. military (“Osama Bin Laden would feel very welcome at Santa Monica High School.”)
In another article he wrote, “We have all heard about how peaceful and benign the Islamic religion is. But, no matter how many times you say that, it cannot change the fact that millions of radical Muslims would celebrate your death for the simple reason that you are Christian, Jewish or American.”
Here’s what he used for his senior yearbook quote, citing Teddy Roosevelt: “There can be no fifty-fifty Americanism in this country. There is room here for only 100 percent Americanism, only for those who are Americans and nothing else.”
Stephen Miller is nationalist from way back! Check out his yearbook quote! WHEW!
12:03 PM - 13 Feb 2017
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8. He actively tried to undermine student groups focused on Latino and black issues.
Oscar de la Torre, his former high school counselor, says Miller frequently claimed that because he—a white male—didn’t experience racism or sexism, students of color were making it up. “He didn’t believe the oppression existed,” de la Torre told the Times. “This guy is 17 years old, and it’s like listening to someone who’s 70 years old—in the 1930s.”
During a summit to address African American and Latino issues, Miller showed up with the message that the room was delusional and he knew better. “He wanted to sabotage us,” de la Torre told the Times. “He confronted everyone, denying that racism existed. He said that was a thing of the past.” (In a column about the meeting, Miller would later indicate the real problem wasn't racism but “leftist victim mentality.”)
9. He was once booed off the stage for making a racist joke about the school janitors.
While running for student council, Miller made a speech complaining about having to pick up his garbage when there were janitors for that. The incident, which survives in the video below, was funny because the janitors were black and brown people who got paid almost nothing to pick up garbage. Get it? Haha, right?
“It was a racist remark because we all knew that our janitors were people of color,” Flores told Fusion.
“He was booed unanimously by the student body off the stage. People were disgusted,” Rosmarin, of the ACLU, told the Daily Beast. “That kind of incident with the janitorial staff—everyone, no matter what your background is, understands why that is an awful thing to say.”
(A bit of aughts trivia: the winner of that election was Mark Hunter, the guy behind the Cobrasnake party photo empire.)
10. He attended Duke University, where people remember him, though not fondly.
Here is how Miller was recently described by John Burness, the former senior vice president of public affairs and government relations at Duke: “He’s the most sanctimonious student I think I ever encountered. He seemed to be absolutely sure of his own views and the correctness of them, and seemed to assume that if you were in disagreement with him, there was something malevolent or stupid about your thinking. Incredibly intolerant.”
A college classmate told the New York Times that at a freshman orientation event, he introduced himself by announcing, “My name is Stephen Miller, I am from Los Angeles, and I like guns.”
11. In college, he greatly expanded his portfolio of right-wing hate pieces .
In a column lamenting “multiculturalism” at Duke and other colleges, Miller listed all the cool things that make America great:
“We are the nation of cinema and radio, crooning and jazz, convertibles and diners, the Old West and New York City. Our culture includes Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jackie Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, Douglas Macarthur, Milton Friedman, Edgar Allen Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Edison and again, for emphasis, Elvis Presley.”
Neat-o! He only forgot to include Pat Boone and racism.
In another article, Miller accused Maya Angelou of “racial paranoia” and said her “legendary wisdom” amounted to “tired, multicultural clichés.” Another piece finds Miller finally breaking the right wing’s longstanding silence on the liberal media, asking why there aren’t any movies “about the evils of the Islamic holy war, the merits of capitalism…[o]r, dare I say it, a movie with a positive take on the Bush administration?”
For good measure, Miller also gives voice to the Angry Adult Virgin Lobby, noting that “shows like Queer As Folk, The ‘L’ Word, Will & Grace and Sex and the City, all do their part to promote alternative lifestyles and erode traditional values.”
12. He helped found and lead a campus group called the Terrorism Awareness Project.
CNN reports Miller served as “national campus coordinator, president, and co-founder” of the group, launched by the David Horowitz Freedom Center. (Horowitz is a vocally anti-black, anti-Muslim xenophobe and Zionist.) The project claimed its mission was to end “the efforts of the radical left and its Islamist allies to destroy American values and disarm this country as it attempts to defend itself in a time of terror." Miller promoted events like "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week”—which didn’t catch on, for some reason—and videos with gross titles like The Islamic Mein Kampf. He also tried to get other college newspapers to run ads, like this one, which was reportedly designed by Richard Spencer. When colleges turned them down, Miller took his case to the only show that would have him, “Fox & Friends.” You can watch that appearance; note that Miller was still using his real voice, not his now-famous King of the D&D Virgins voice.
13. He palled around with white supremacist and recently punched neo-Nazi Richard Spencer.
When Miller was an undergrad and Spencer was working on a Ph.D. he was too racist too finish (no really, he dropped out to found a racist “think tank”), the two became buddies as members of the Duke Conservative Union. Together, they worked on an event featuring Peter Brimelow, founder of the virulently xenophobic VDARE and a notable hate-scene fixture with his very own SPLC page. Spencer told the Daily Beast he was a “mentor” to Miller, saying he “spent a lot of time with him at Duke...I hope I expanded his thinking.”
Spencer, who has lauded Miller as “very bold and strong,” said ahead of the election, “It's funny no one's picked up on the Stephen Miller connection. I knew him very well when I was at Duke. But I am kind of glad no one's talked about this because I don't want to harm Trump."
For the record, Miller has said the two were merely members of the same club and that they fell out of touch after graduation.
14. Another white nationalist is also a big fan, as is David Duke.
In a piece titled “Stephen Miller is David Duke’s Favorite Jew,” Forward picks up recent tweets from the former Klansman applauding Miller. “I can’t help it, I like this guy,” Duke states in one message.
Jared Taylor, whose anti-black output was a favorite of racist murderer Dylann Roof, reportedly also namechecked Miller. The Washington Post points to a post by Taylor which notes that Trump’s lack of white racial consciousness is helped by “men close to him — Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, Stephen Miller — who may have a clearer understanding of race, and their influence could grow.”
15. He worked for noted racist Jeff Sessions.
After a stint working for Michelle Bachmann, Miller took a communications job with Senator Jeff Sessions in 2009. Sessions' office—where Miller could could help the racist, xenophobic sausage get made—helped elevate his visibility among conservatives, though initially, he was known mostly for his emails (see #16).
Politico notes the up-and-comer played a pivotal role in crushing the Gang of Eight’s 2013 bipartisan immigration bill. The outlet points out that “when the bill passed the Senate...Miller literally wrote the 23-page handbook that House members were given on how to fight the deal.” As you may already know, after being deemed too racist for the federal bench in the 1980s, Sessions was judged perfectly racist for the Trump administration and confirmed attorney general.
16. As you might imagine, he is a super annoying emailer.
A recent New York Times article describes Miller as “a man whose emails were, until recently, considered spam by many of his Republican peers.” The Times goes on to say:
As a top aide to Mr. Sessions, the conservative Alabama senator, Mr. Miller dispatched dozens and dozens of bombastic emails to congressional staff members and reporters in early 2013 when the Senate was considering a big bipartisan immigration overhaul. Mr. Miller slammed the evils of “foreign labor” and pushed around nasty news articles on proponents of compromise, like Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. One exhausted Senate staff member, forwarding a Miller-gram to a reporter at the time, wrote: “His latest. And it’s only 11:45 a.m.”
17. On the campaign trail, he warmed up the crowds for Trump.
Miller’s job was to toss small bits of red meat for the audience to gnaw on while they waited for Trump to hit the stage and throw them the rest of the bloody carcass. In the video below, shot at a rally in Wisconsin, he rails against “foreign workers,” telling the audience they’re “competing against you, and your children, and your grandchildren, and your brothers, and sisters and neighbors for jobs. Low-wage foreign workers being brought in to take your place at less pay.”
He talks about “uncontrolled migration from the Middle East,” and “illegal immigrants being arrested...for the most heinous crimes imaginable,” and hails Trump as the candidate “who will protect our cities, who will protect our communities, who will save our families.”
18. He wrote Trump’s RNC and 'America First' inauguration speeches.
Miller is reportedly responsible for penning Trump’s ominous RNC speech, in which he declared, “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.”
While there was the option of going lighter for the inauguration—some presidents do not use the minutes after being sworn in to share a vision of the country as a dystopian hellscape—Miller stuck with fearmongering:
"Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential. This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”
19. He’s considered the brain behind the travel ban.
Though he denies it, Miller is believed to have written a significant portion of the travel ban, with some help from Steve Bannon and congressional aides sworn to contractual secrecy. Multiple sources have reported that the Steves have refused to consult with other agencies that might have necessary insights or legal expertise, leading to disastrous rollouts. In order to counter the negative press around the Muslim ban (we’re calling it what Trump calls it, because that’s what it is), Miller was sent on a Sunday morning press tour last weekend.
20. Infamous quotes from Miller’s tour of the Sunday morning shows last weekend.
“Our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.”
“The president’s powers...represent the apex of executive authority.”
“We will have unquestioned military strength beyond anything anybody can imagine.”
“That’s the story we should be talking about and I’m prepared to go on any show anywhere anytime and repeat it and say the president of the United States is correct 100 percent.”
21. His family is mostly not proud of him.
Buzzfeed News rounded up posts from Miller’s extended family, who seem not particularly keen on his new role. His mother’s brother, David Glosser, posted on the wall of a local media outlet, “With all familial affection I wish Stephen career success and personal happiness; however I cannot endorse his political preferences. I am not a Trump supporter.”
Glosser's letter, which is fairly long, goes on from there:
Mr. Trump is trying to sell you something...He sells fear of immigrants, contempt of our daughters, sisters, and wives, and sows discord and anger. He knows the dictator’s disgraceful sales tricks of challenging the integrity of democratic elections, he finds an unpopular outside group to blame our troubles on, cooks up false electoral fraud theories if he doesn’t get his way, threatens and bullies his opponents, and tells us that he is the only one that can lead the nation ahead. He’s trying to sell you something, and it’s not a good product. For the first time in my memory a major American political party’s presidential candidate has proposed that laws and regulations be established solely on the basis of a person’s religion and ethnic background. The legitimization of this as a basis of serious political discussion is a terrible step into darkness. Remember, what goes around comes around. If today it’s “them,” then tomorrow it may be you.
Finally, my nephew and I must both reflect long and hard on one awful truth. If in the early 20th century the USA had built a wall against poor desperate ignorant immigrants of a different religion, like the Glossers, all of us would have gone up the crematoria chimneys with the other six million kinsmen whom we can never know.”
Another family member, commenting on the post, wrote, “At least he [Miller] doesn’t share our last name.”
http://www.alternet.org/right-wing/21-f ... hen-miller
Will Trump and Bannon Drag Us Into Another Big Ground War? It Could Happen Sooner Than We Think
Our president wants to "knock the hell out of ISIS" and "take the oil"; his key adviser longs for World War III
By Heather Digby Parton / Salon
February 23, 2017
Photo Credit: Screenshot / lci.fr
On Wednesday NBC News released a poll reporting that 66 percent of Americans are worried that the United States will become involved in another war. One might think that’s surprising since President Donald Trump has been famously portrayed as an old-school isolationist, an image mostly based upon his lies about not supporting the Iraq War and his adoption of the pre-World War II isolationist slogan “America First.”
As I laid out here a few weeks ago, that assumption is wrong. Trump is anything but an isolationist. He’s not much on alliances, preferring to strong-arm other nations into supporting the U.S. “for their own good.” But if they are willing to cough up some protection money, he might agree to fulfill our treaty obligations. His adoption of the phrase “America First” reflects his belief that the U.S. must be No. 1, not that it should withdraw from the world.
In other words, while Trump has no interest in perpetuating the global security system under which the world has lived since the dawn of the nuclear age, that’s not because he believes it hasn’t worked. He doesn’t know what it does, how it came to be or why it exists. He simply believes other countries are failing to pay proper respect and he aims to make sure they understand that America isn’t just great again –it’s the greatest.
This has nothing to do with American exceptionalism. Trump is happy to admit that American pretenses to moral leadership are hypocritical, and he’s openly contemptuous of anyone who believes that the U.S. should try harder to live up to its ideals. If you want to understand what Trump believes, “to the victor goes the spoils” pretty much covers it. He means it in terms of his family, which continues to merge the presidency into its company brand all over the world, and he means it in terms of the United States because we are the richest and most powerful nation on earth and we can take whatever we want.
One of his goals is to “defeat ISIS.” And when he says defeat, he means to do whatever it takes to ensure it does not exist anymore. That does seem like a nice idea. After all, ISIS is an antediluvian, authoritarian death cult and the world would be better off without it. The question, of course, has always been how to accomplish such a thing.
Thoughtful people rationally understand that “defeating” radical extremism of any kind isn’t a matter of killing all the people. Indeed, the more extremists you kill, the more extremists you tend to create. But while Trump simply sees the world by playground rules, his consigliere Steve Bannon sees the threat of ISIS as a preordained apocalyptic confrontation between Western countries and the Muslim world. In a notorious speech he gave at the Vatican in 2014, Bannon put it this way:
We’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict … to fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting, that will completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years.
He has called Trump his “blunt instrument” to bring about this global conflagration. Bannon is now a member of the National Security Council and is said to be running a parallel national security agency called the Strategic Initiatives Group, which he has stacked with kooks who share his views. He is a powerful influence.
Trump has promised to take the gloves off, and I think we all know exactly what he meant by that. He said it many times during the campaign — he favors torture. And he reiterated it just last month in his interview with ABC’s David Muir saying, “When ISIS is doing things that nobody has ever heard of since medieval times, would I feel strongly about waterboarding? As far as I’m concerned we have to fight fire with fire.”
He went on to grudgingly promise that he would listen to the secretary of defense and hold back on the torture if that was his recommendation, but also claimed that he’s talked to people at the highest levels of the intelligence community who told him that torture works like a charm. So we will have to see if Trump is really able to restrain himself. (His CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, has been all for it in the past. Maybe they’ll simply decide to leave Defense Secretary Jim Mattis out of the loop.)
But what about Trump’s promises to “bomb the shit out of ’em” and “take the oil?” What about Bannon’s desire to bring on WorldWar III? Will that really happen? It might, and sooner than we think.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday:
More American troops may be needed in Syria to speed the campaign against the Islamic State, the top United States commander for the Middle East said on Wednesday.
“I am very concerned about maintaining momentum,” Gen. Joseph L. Votel, the head of the United States Central Command, told reporters accompanying him on a trip to the region.
“It could be that we take on a larger burden ourselves,” he added. “That’s an option.”
Despite his unfounded reputation for isolationism, it’s obvious Trump is itching for a war. Responding to a debate question as to whether he would follow a military commander’s advice to put troops on the ground, he said, “We really have no choice, we have to knock out ISIS. We have to knock the hell out of them.” When asked how many troops he thought might be needed he replied that the number he’d heard was 20,000 to 30,000.
Nobody thought much of Trump’s bluster at the time. But now he’s in the White House with an apocalyptic crackpot whispering in his ear and generals on the ground talking about taking on “a larger burden.” Whether his administration’s military advisers, Defense Secretary Mattis and newly installed national security adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster, are as eager for this battle remains to be seen. But it appears that the two-thirds of Americans who are worried that we’ll be dragged into another war are anxious for good reason.
Steve Bannon Says ‘Deconstruction of Administrative State’ Is Trump’s Plan
Posted on Feb 24, 2017
By Nadia Prupis / Common Dreams
The media is going to “continue to fight,” Bannon said. “If you think they are giving you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken.” (CNP /MediaPunch/IPX)
Giving rare public remarks on Thursday, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said the Trump cabinet was working towards the “deconstruction of the administrative state” and repeatedly referred to the media as “the opposition party.”
Bannon’s speech at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland evoked the same shades of authoritarianism that have permeated President Donald Trump’s time in office, from his outraged tweets to his picks to lead federal agencies.
He outlined what he described as “three verticals” of Trump’s agenda that would focus on “national security and sovereignty,” “economic nationalism,” and “deconstruction of the administrative state”—meaning a rollback of taxes, regulations, and trade agreements that the administration has claimed are hampering economic growth and individualism.
“If you look at these cabinet nominees, they were selected for a reason, and that is deconstruction,” he said.
Bannon appeared on stage at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, where the two of them were interviewed by Matt Schlapp, president of the American Conservative Union, which hosts the annual CPAC gathering.
At one point, Bannon, who formerly chaired the rightwing outlet Breitbart News, called the media “the opposition party,” echoing remarks both he and Trump have previously made.
“They’re corporatist, globalist media that are adamantly opposed to an economic nationalist agenda like Donald Trump has,” he said. “If you look at the opposition party and how they portrayed the campaign and how they portrayed the transition and how they portray the administration, it’s always wrong.”
“They’re going to continue to fight,” he said of the media. “If you think they are giving you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken.”
At several points throughout their speech, Bannon and Priebus were interrupted by loud cheers from the audience.
“There’s a new political order that’s being formed,” Bannon said toward the end. “The center core of what we believe, that we’re a nation with an economy…with a reason for being, I think that’s what unites us.”
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/ste ... e_20170224
Steve Bannon had to have been coordinating the Russian collusion in the Donald Trump campaign
By Bill Palmer | March 2, 2017
Now that at least six of Donald Trump’s campaign managers, advisers, and surrogates have been caught colluding with the Russian government during the campaign, it’s clear that this didn’t all transpire by mere happenstance. Someone within the Trump campaign had to have been coordinating the effort – and no, not Trump himself. That person has to have been Steve Bannon from the start.
Consider the chronology of events: Paul Manafort has deep financial ties to the Kremlin, but he was brought into the Donald Trump campaign fairly late. The timeline makes clear that the campaign was colluding with Russia before he was hired and after he was nudged out. Michael Flynn joined the Trump campaign much earlier, and the evidence says he’s fully under Russian control, but his role suggests he was a mere go-between. Carter Page is another Russian stooge, but he never had enough influence in the campaign to have been coordinating the Russian collusion. And Jeff Sessions was merely a Trump campaign surrogate, an informal adviser.
None of them fit the role or the timeline that would have been required to have masterminded the Donald Trump campaign’s Russian collusion from the start. Trump himself appears to be in deep financial debt to Russia, as well as subject to some kind of Russian blackmail. But that makes him a pawn in all this, not a ringleader. Nor is it easy to picture Trump, who only ever handles things in broad strokes, to have been carefully coordinating a clandestine operation to conspire with a Kremlin that was holding him hostage. Instead, tire’s only one person who fits the bill.
Although Steve Bannon didn’t become CEO of the Donald Trump campaign until fairly late in the game, the timeline says Trump was relying on him for guidance from the start. Bannon had real control of the campaign from beginning to finish, no matter who was officially in charge at any given time. Bannon was a seasoned political operative who would have understood how to coordinate with the Russians as needed. And Bannon’s stated goal to destroy the American system of government by any means necessary fits with a willingness to get his stooge Trump elected by conspiring with the foreign power to which Trump was personally beholden.
There is, as of yet, no specific publicly available evidence linking Steve Bannon to the Trump-Russia conspiracy. Nor do I have any specific evidence up my sleeve. But he’s the only person who was in a position to have pulled off coordinating the conspiracy with Russia from Trump’s end. Bannon had motive, means, and opportunity – and no one else did. That’s not enough to convict him. But it’s enough to know which way we should be looking next.
WILL DONALD TRUMP’S DATA-ANALYTICS COMPANY ALLOW RUSSIA TO ACCESS RESEARCH ON U.S. CITIZENS?
Tracing the suspicious-looking, and messy, ties between a Ukrainian oligarch, an elections-information firm, and the GOP candidate’s former campaign manager
The Trump campaign has hired Ted Cruz’s former data-analysis firm, Cambridge Analytica—and in doing so, it has connected itself with a British property tycoon, Vincent Tchenguiz, and through him with the Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, a business associate of Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who resigned last week. It would be hard to find a better example of why the ownership of the companies that collect data on the American electorate matters.
What Cambridge does is what marketers have done for some time now: segment potential customers (in this case, voters) by their buying habits, lifestyle, and psychology. It most famously worked on the “Leave.” campaign during Brexit voting in the United Kingdom.
Cambridge Analytica’s British parent company, SCL, has attracted criticism for some unusual strategies, such as trying to persuade opposition supporters not to vote in a Nigerian election, using the influence of “local religious figures.”
Mainly, though, SCL and CA both seem to have some pretty tired ideas. “The firm groups people according to where they fall on the so-called OCEAN scale, which psychologists use to measure how open, conscientious, extroverted, agreeable, or neurotic they are,” Wired reported in April. There’s nothing evil—or particularly smart—about this “psychological profiling,” which has been around for decades, and it’s questionable if it actually works to predict voting behavior.
CA obviously didn’t sprinkle the right kind of fairy dust for Cruz; a recent news item has it that the campaign felt it was CA to develop its product. Others say the firm doesn’t quite “get” American politics and has reliability issues: As Advertising Age quoted a consultant: “The product comes late or it’s not quite what you envisioned.”
But what’s worrisome is that CA, as The Wall Street Journal reports, is not just relying on public records:
Cambridge Analytica is surveying tens of thousands of Britons across the country on issues including partisanship, personality, and their concerns about EU membership. The company will then fuse those findings with other publicly available data on voters to produce advice for how “Leave. EU” should target their messaging more specifically through multiple channels.
Between “big data,” cyberwarfare, and new levels of detail in election polling, Americans ought to be thinking seriously about who owns the firms that collect this data.
And because CA is linked to U.K. property mogul Vincent Tchenguiz, who himself has connections to Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, a Putin protégé (and Paul Manafort business associate) it’s possible the information CA collects might be shared with people who are not friendly to American democracy—not that Donald Trump thinks there’s anything wrong with Putin, Firtash, and others like them.
For 10 years, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company’s largest shareholder was Vincent Tchenguiz, who, together with his brother Robert, is estimated to be worth £850 million (about $1.1 billion). Even today, a year after Tchenguiz divested his shares, SCL Group Chairman Julian Wheatland, who is also one of the company’s four directors, is a Tchenguiz employee.
Tchenguiz used the same Guernsey holding company, Wheddon Ltd., to invest both in Cambridge Analytica’s parent company in the U.K. and in another privately held U.K. business whose largest shareholder was the Ukrainian gas middleman Dmitry Firtash. (To buy into a privately held business you normally need the approval of the biggest shareholders, who were Firtash and Raymond Asquith, who also works for Firtash.) Firtash, indicted in 2014 by the United States in a complex bribery case, is under a sort of house arrest in Austria, free on $175 million bail, while the U.S. continues to attempt, unsuccessfully, to extradite him. He has already been stripped of some of his Ukrainian assets by prosecutors there.
Many articles have reported that the U.S. billionaire Robert Mercer is the owner of Cambridge, but some basic Googling would have shown that this isn’t true. The Daily Beast got it right; Cambridge Analytica’s press releases refer to it as “the U.S. subsidiary of SCL Group.” But the relationship between Cambridge Analytica and SCL is far from easy to decipher.
The privately-held SCL Group Ltd. (UK co. #05514098) has a half-dozen subsidiaries, with an overlapping group of directors. One subsidiary is SCL Elections. Cambridge Analytica’s website in December 2015 listed its New York address as Suite 2703 in the News Corp. building, 1211 Avenue of the Americas, the same New York address formerly listed on SCL Elections’ website as its New York office. (Both websites have since been updated, with new addresses.) SCL Elections is entirely owned by executive Alexander Nix.
Meanwhile, another related company, SCL USA, incorporated in January 2015 and entirely owned by SCL Elections, changed its name to Cambridge Analytica UK Ltd. on April 14 of this year. Confusingly, its U.K. address, 1 Westferry Circle, is not the same as either the address of SCL Elections or the London address of Cambridge Analytica at 1-6 Yarmouth Place in Mayfair. And it’s unclear if there’s a Cambridge Analytica incorporated anywhere in the United States; one would have to search registers in all 50 states.
Ad Age reported that CA “will not discuss its investors,” but the mothership, SCL Group, has pretty straightforward ownership: From shortly after its incorporation in 2005 until June 2015, according to the company’s obligatory Companies House filings, the largest of the 15 shareholders of SCL Group was Tchenguiz.
Tchenguiz made his money in London’s highly competitive real estate market and is said to be smart as a whip. He and his brother Robert are also known as big Tory donors. But what they’re best known for isn’t something any entrepreneur seeks out.
In March 2011 the brothers were arrested in dramatic predawn raids as part of an investigation into the 2008 collapse of the Icelandic bank Kaupthing. Just before its collapse, Kaupthing’s loans to the Tchenguiz brothers totaled 40 percent of its capital. It has been charged that Kaupthing—which had a far-from-transparent ownership structure—was effectively the Tchenguiz brothers’ bank and that they looted the bank, leading to its collapse. Various Kaupthing executives ended up in jail. Yet Vincent Tchenguiz managed to beat the charges, and even to win restitution from the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office after charges were dropped. Many think the SFO badly mishandled the case.
That’s not all. Kaupthing’s largest shareholder, Meidur, now called Exista, which owned 25 percent of its shares, had ties to Alfa Bank, the largest Russian commercial bank; Alfa chairman was “deep state” figure Mikhail Fridman, chairman and co-founder of Alfa Group, the parent of Alfa Bank. Meanwhile, Trump adviser Richard Burt is on the “senior advisory board” of Alfa Bank. (None of which is illegal or secret.)
Vincent Tchenguiz’s investment in SCL Group Ltd. began soon after the company’s incorporation July 20, 2005. In the fall of 2005, Tchenguiz’s Consensus Business Group acquired 22,533 shares of SCL—the largest single shareholding, representing 24 percent of its then-95,134 shares. On Nov. 11, 2006, a new director was appointed to represent Tchenguiz’s interests—Julian David Wheatland, who was listed as “chairman” in the 2010 and 2011 accounts and on the SCL Group website.
Wheatland was formerly “head of the International Division at U.K. structured-finance house Consensus Business Group.” Consensus is Tchenguiz’s holding company. Wheatland is currently CEO of Consensus Community, a part of Consensus Business Group, which in turn manages investments for Investec Trust (Guernsey) Ltd., a trustee for the Tchenguiz Family Trust.
The 2006 accounts (available online) of SCL Group show a whopping loss of £2.3 million ($3.02 million), but no “going concern” statement was included. In May 2013, SCL Group’s auditor resigned; the 2011 accounts were the last audited accounts filed. Shareholders’ equity plummeted from: £681,000 in 2006 to a modest £273,000 in 2012 to £4,424 in 2013 and £87,420 in 2014—a very poor showing compared to similar companies.
Tchenguiz remained involved in SCL Group for 10 years, despite its lack of financial returns. Vincent Tchenguiz is mainly known as a real estate investor; his reasons for acquiring shares in SCL in the first place are as opaque as his reason for divesting them. From the outside, it seems an odd, unprofitable sideline. But SCL is a private company, so we can only follow the filings: Tchenguiz’s 22,533 shares were initially held by Consensus Business Group and later owned by Wheddon Ltd., another vehicle owned by his family holding company, Investec Trust.
Then, as of June 10, 2015, SCL canceled Wheddon’s 22,533 shares and paid Wheddon £147,746 (about $194,500)—a tiny amount in relation to Tchenguiz’s estimated wealth. It also changed its name from Strategic Communications Laboratories Ltd. to its current name, SCL Group Ltd. Julian Wheatland signed the “special resolution,” which, in U.K. business is a move “to protect minority shareholders against important decisions being taken without proper consideration and, to the extent possible, consensus.”
Did Tchenguiz change the name and remove his shareholding as an attempt to rebrand, in preparation for going to work for Ted Cruz? If that’s so, the Cruz campaign did only an imitation of due diligence, looking only at the company’s current ownership, not even bothering with the previous year, and not noticing that Tchenguiz still has a director on the company. Though Tchenguiz no longer owns shares in SCL, he would likely retain influence on the company operations: His director, Julian Wheatland is still SCL’s chairman and one of SCL’s four directors to this day. Wheatland is also a director of two other companies in the SCL family: SCL Analytics Ltd. and SCL Strategics Ltd.
Tchenguiz has branched out beyond his core ground-rents business before—and this is what connects him to Manafort partner Dmitry Firtash. Around the same time that he bought into SCL, in 2005-2006, Vincent Tchenguiz began giving interviews publicizing a new interest: “green” investing. One of these seemingly anodyne investments was in a privately held U.K. company called Zander Group Ltd. that has a very complex capital structure.
What does Zander do? Zander says on one of its subsidiaries’ websites that it is in the business of soil regeneration. It doesn’t seem to get a lot of work, but on March 2007, according to a posting on its website from January 2012 (since removed), it signed a contract to work on anti-desertification in Moammar Gadhafi’s Libya. An ex-director of Zander Group, Geoffrey Stuart Pearson, was jailed in Britain for his role in the collapse of Langbar Corp., the U.K.’s biggest AIM market fraud. (At the time, the U.K.’s SFO shut Langbar down in fall 2005, Zander shares were its only investment. The SFO apparently never found this interesting.)
As the obligatory Companies House filings show, Tchenguiz invested in Zander Group in 2005-2006 through his Vantania Holdings Ltd.; on Sept. 11, 2015, Vantania transferred its shares to Wheddon Ltd. (This was just after Wheddon had divested its shares in SCL Group Ltd.)
Here’s the Firtash link: From 2006 until 2011, the largest single shareholding in Zander Group, 28 percent of the total shares, was owned by a Cyprus company called Spadi Trading. And Spadi was owned by Group DF, as in Dmitry Firtash, in the British Virgin Islands. This holding company is one of 153 companies worldwide the U.S. is trying to seize pursuant to its indictment of Firtash. (Spadi’s ultimate owner is Robert Shetler-Jones, also a Group DF board member.).
There’s no proof that Tchenguiz knows Firtash, but it’s hard to imagine he’d be able to buy into a closely-held private business like Zander without the approval of the largest shareholder, even though Tchenguiz only bought 74,075 out of 11.5 million Zander Group shares in 2006. Moreover, Zander Group’s chairman, and its biggest shareholder, is Raymond Asquith, an English peer who doubles as an executive of Group DF.
Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, had numerous dealings with Dmitry Firtash’s Group DF. Firtash is probably the most savory person with whom Manafort has worked; others include Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch formerly barred from the United States for Russian mob ties, ex-Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovich, Mobutu Sese Seko, Ferdinand Marcos, and African warlord Jonas Savimbi. The fact that Vincent Tchenguiz’s man Wheatland is still the chairman and a director of SCL Group and that Tchenguiz is also a co-investor with the Firtash crew might give some candidates pause—but there’s no reason to think Trump is one of them. (As far as the public record indicates, Trump has never worked directly with Tchenguiz and Paul Manafort is not a director of any English companies, though he might be a shareholder; this information is not easily searchable.)
The moral may be, we ought to be paying closer attention to who owns the companies collecting data on American voters.
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This Stunningly Racist French Novel Is How Steve Bannon Explains The World
“The Camp of the Saints” tells a grotesque tale about a migrant invasion to destroy Western civilization.
By Paul Blumenthal , JM Rieger
Stephen Bannon, President Donald Trump’s chief strategist and the driving force behind the administration’s controversial ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, has a favorite metaphor he uses to describe the largest refugee crisis in human history.
“It’s been almost a Camp of the Saints-type invasion into Central and then Western and Northern Europe,” he said in October 2015.
“The whole thing in Europe is all about immigration,” he said in January 2016. “It’s a global issue today — this kind of global Camp of the Saints.”
“It’s not a migration,” he said later that January. “It’s really an invasion. I call it the Camp of the Saints.”
“When we first started talking about this a year ago,” he said in April 2016, “we called it the Camp of the Saints. ... I mean, this is Camp of the Saints, isn’t it?”
Bannon has agitated for a host of anti-immigrant measures. In his previous role as executive chairman of the right-wing news site Breitbart — which he called a “platform for the alt-right,” the online movement of white nationalists — he made anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim news a focus.
But the top Trump aide’s repeated references to The Camp of the Saints, an obscure 1973 novel by French author Jean Raspail, reveal even more about how he understands the world. The book is a cult favorite on the far right, yet it’s never found a wider audience. There’s a good reason for that: It’s breathtakingly racist.
“[This book is] racist in the literal sense of the term. It uses race as the main characterization of characters,” said Cécile Alduy, professor of French at Stanford University and an expert on the contemporary French far right. “It describes the takeover of Europe by waves of immigrants that wash ashore like the plague.”
The book, she said, “reframes everything as the fight to death between races.”
Upon the novel’s release in the United States in 1975, the influential book review magazine Kirkus Reviews pulled no punches: “The publishers are presenting The Camp of the Saints as a major event, and it probably is, in much the same sense that Mein Kampf was a major event.”
Linda Chavez, a Republican commentator who has worked for GOP presidents from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush but opposed Trump’s election, also reviewed the book back then. Forty years later, she hasn’t forgotten it.
“It is really shockingly racist,” Chavez told The Huffington Post, “and to have the counselor to the president see this as one of his touchstones, I think, says volumes about his attitude.”
The cover of this English translation of The Camp of the Saints calls it “a chilling novel about the end of the white world.”
The plot of The Camp of the Saints follows a poor Indian demagogue, named “the turd-eater” because he literally eats shit, and the deformed, apparently psychic child who sits on his shoulders. Together, they lead an “armada” of 800,000 impoverished Indians sailing to France. Dithering European politicians, bureaucrats and religious leaders, including a liberal pope from Latin America, debate whether to let the ships land and accept the Indians or to do the right thing — in the book’s vision — by recognizing the threat the migrants pose and killing them all.
The non-white people of Earth, meanwhile, wait silently for the Indians to reach shore. The landing will be the signal for them to rise up everywhere and overthrow white Western society.
The French government eventually gives the order to repel the armada by force, but by then the military has lost the will to fight. Troops battle among themselves as the Indians stream on shore, trampling to death the left-wing radicals who came to welcome them. Poor black and brown people literally overrun Western civilization. Chinese people pour into Russia; the queen of England is forced to marry her son to a Pakistani woman; the mayor of New York must house an African-American family at Gracie Mansion. Raspail’s rogue heroes, the defenders of white Christian supremacy, attempt to defend their civilization with guns blazing but are killed in the process.
Calgues, the obvious Raspail stand-in, is one of those taking up arms against the migrants and their culturally “cuckolded” white supporters. Just before killing a radical hippie, Calgues compares his own actions to past heroic, sometimes mythical defenses of European Christendom. He harkens back to famous battles that fit the clash-of-civilizations narrative — the defense of Rhodes against the Ottoman Empire, the fall of Constantinople to the same — and glorifies colonial wars of conquest and the formation of the Ku Klux Klan.
Only white Europeans like Calgues are portrayed as truly human in The Camp of the Saints. The Indian armada brings “thousands of wretched creatures” whose very bodies arouse disgust: “Scraggy branches, brown and black … All bare, those fleshless Gandhi-arms.” Poor brown children are spoiled fruit “starting to rot, all wormy inside, or turned so you can’t see the mold.”
The ship’s inhabitants are also sexual deviants who turn the voyage into a grotesque orgy. “Everywhere, rivers of sperm,” Raspail writes. “Streaming over bodies, oozing between breasts, and buttocks, and thighs, and lips, and fingers.”
The white Christian world is on the brink of destruction, the novel suggests, because these black and brown people are more fertile and more numerous, while the West has lost that necessary belief in its own cultural and racial superiority. As he talks to the hippie he will soon kill, Calgues explains how the youth went so wrong: “That scorn of a people for other races, the knowledge that one’s own is best, the triumphant joy at feeling oneself to be part of humanity’s finest — none of that had ever filled these youngsters’ addled brains.”
The Camp of the Saints — which draws its title from Revelations 20:9 — is nothing less than a call to arms for the white Christian West, to revive the spirit of the Crusades and steel itself for bloody conflict against the poor black and brown world without and the traitors within. The novel’s last line links past humiliations tightly to its own grim parable about modern migration. “The Fall of Constantinople,” Raspail’s unnamed narrator says, “is a personal misfortune that happened to all of us only last week.”
STEPHANIE KEITH/GETTY IMAGES
Protesters rally against President Donald Trump’s travel ban at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Jan. 28, 2017, in New York City.
Raspail wrote The Camp of the Saints in 1972 and 1973, after a stay at his aunt’s house near Cannes on the southern coast of France. Looking out across the Mediterranean, he had an epiphany: “And what if they came?” he thought to himself. “This ‘they’ was not clearly defined at first,” he told the conservative publication Le Point in 2015. “Then I imagined that the Third World would rush into this blessed country that is France.”
Raspail’s novel has been published in the U.S. several times, each time with the backing of the anti-immigration movement.
The U.S. publishing house Scribner was the first to translate the book into English in 1975, but it failed to reach a wide audience amid withering reviews by critics. A rare favorable take appeared in National Review. “Raspail brings his reader to the surprising conclusion that killing a million or so starving refugees from India would be a supreme act of individual sanity and cultural health,” then-Dartmouth professor Jeffrey Hart wrote in 1975. “Raspail is to genocide what [D.H. Lawrence] was to sex.” Hart added that “a great fuss” was being made over “Raspail’s supposed racism,” but that the “liberal rote anathema on ‘racism’ is in effect a poisonous assault upon Western self-preference.”
The book received a second life in 1983 when Cordelia Scaife May, heiress to the Mellon fortune and sister to right-wing benefactor Richard Mellon Scaife, funded its republication and distribution. This time it gained a cult following among immigration opponents.
May’s money has also been instrumental in funding the efforts of John Tanton, the godfather of the anti-immigration movement in the U.S. Tanton, who began as an environmentalist and population control proponent, founded a host of groups focused on restricting immigration, including the Federation of American Immigration Reform, the Center for Immigration Studies, NumbersUSA and U.S. English. May’s fortune has fueled these groups with tens of millions of dollars in contributions over the years.
Linda Chavez was recruited in 1987 to head U.S. English, which advocates for English to be designated the country’s official language. But then a series of disturbing stories painted Tanton’s motives in a racial light. Among other issues, Chavez said she learned that his funding came from the pro-eugenics Pioneer Fund and from May, who Chavez knew had helped publish The Camp of the Saints. Chavez recalled seeing Tanton’s staffers carrying the book around their offices. She quit the group.
Tanton, who insists his opposition to immigration is not connected to race at all, told The Washington Post in 2006 that his mind “became focused” on the issue after reading The Camp of the Saints. In 1995, his small publishing house, Social Contract Press, brought the book back into print for a third time in the U.S., again with funding from May. Historians Paul Kennedy and Matt Connelly tied the book to then-current concerns about global demographic trends in a cover story for The Atlantic.
“Over the years the American public has absorbed a great number of books, articles, poems and films which exalt the immigrant experience,” Tanton wrote in 1994. “It is easy for the feelings evoked by Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty to obscure the fact that we are currently receiving too many immigrants (and receiving them too fast) for the health of our environment and of our common culture. Raspail evokes different feelings and that may help to pave the way for policy changes.”
In 2001, the book was republished one more time, again by Tanton, and again gained a cult following among opponents of immigration like the border-patrolling Minutemen and eventually the online “alt-right.”
KIRK IRWIN/GETTY IMAGES FOR SIRIUSXM
On his Breitbart News radio show, Stephen Bannon repeatedly used The Camp of the Saints as a metaphor for migrants and refugees.
Bannon’s alt-right-loving Breitbart has run multiple articles over the past three years referencing the novel. When Pope Francis told a joint session of Congress that the U.S. should open its arms to refugees in September 2015, Breitbart’s Julia Hahn, now an aide to Bannon in the White House, compared his admonition to Raspail’s liberal Latin American pontiff. And the novel’s thesis that migration is invasion in disguise is often reflected in Bannon’s public comments.
The refugee crisis “didn’t just happen by happenstance,” Bannon said in an April 2016 radio interview with Sebastian Gorka, who now works for the National Security Council. “These are not war refugees. It’s something much more insidious going on.”
Bannon has also echoed the novel’s theory that secular liberals who favor immigration and diversity weaken the West.
“Do you believe the elites in this country have the backbone, have the belief in the underlying principles of the Judeo-Christian West to actually win this war?” he asked Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), now the attorney general, in June 2016.
“I’m worried about that. … They’re eroding, regularly it seems to me, classical American values that are so critical to our success,” Sessions replied.
Like Raspail, Bannon has reveled in the past victories of Christendom over Islamic forces.
“If you look back at the long history of the Judeo-Christian West struggle against Islam, I believe that our forefathers kept their stance, and I think they did the right thing,” he said in a 2014 speech broadcast to a conference at the Vatican. “I think they kept it out of the world, whether it was at Vienna [the Battle of Vienna in 1683], or Tours [the Battle of Tours in 732], or other places. … They were able to stave this off, and they were able to defeat it, and they were able to bequeath to us a church and a civilization that really is the flower of mankind.”
Now Bannon sits at the right hand of the U.S. president, working to beat back what Bannon calls “this Muslim invasion.” And Trump is all in on the project. During the campaign, he called for a ban on all Muslims entering the country. His Jan. 28 executive order, since blocked in the courts, turned this campaign idea into executive policy.
Trump has continued to defend the executive order as a life-or-death national security issue. “We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America,” he said in his first speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday.
Five days earlier, Trump had called his immigration enforcement efforts a “military operation.”
Although Department of Homeland Security officials walked back that statement, the president’s conflation of immigration with warfare did not go unnoticed.
“They see this as a war,” Chavez said.
Chavez, who supports some of Trump’s economic policy proposals, called the direction the White House is taking on immigration and race “extremely dangerous.” She said Trump’s immigration moves are “a kind of purging of America of anything but our Northern European roots.” Bannon, she added, “wants to make America white again.”
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