David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louise Anna Turpin, 49, are accused of shackling and torturing their 13 children, ages 2 to 29, for years. ... of the classroom for him,” he said. “When he was finished with class, she would take him home.” Despite the alleged factors of his home life, the son maintained a 3.93 grade point average after attending school ...
Thousands of members of the Trump cult waited outside for hours in the summer heat of Phoenix on Saturday, before gaining entrance to a Turning Point USA event where their personal god and savior appeared as part of his 2021 revenge tour. It was a political rally, a gospel revival, a rock concert, a carnival and a family reunion all in one.
As a show of loyalty to the Trump death cult, most of the attendees refused to wear masks to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus pandemic and its new, even more contagious delta variant. The Trumpists even went so far as to heckle the news media with chants of "No masks!"
These are the people recently described in a recent Washington Post essay by Michael Bender, who has spent considerable time among Trump's most diehard followers:
They were mostly older White men and women who lived paycheck to paycheck with plenty of time on their hands — retired or close to it, estranged from their families or otherwise without children — and Trump had, in a surprising way, made their lives richer. ...
In Trump, they'd found someone whose endless thirst for a fight encouraged them to speak up for themselves, not just in politics but also in relationships and at work. His rallies turned arenas into modern-day tent revivals, where the preacher and the parishioners engaged in an adrenaline-fueled psychic cleansing brought on by chanting and cheering with 15,000 other like-minded loyalists.
Trump and his neofascist movement inspires such extreme loyalty that his followers are willing to kill or die for him. No one feels that way about Joe Biden and the Democrats.
During his speech in Phoenix, Trump played his familiar roles: bully, mob boss, preacher, public menace, demagogue in waiting and former president who expects to be returned to power by any means necessary. As Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reportedly warned in the weeks after Trump's defeat last November, Trump has channeled the energy and grandiose false claims that propelled Adolf Hitler to power in Germany.
On Saturday night, Donald Trump captivated his audience with a truly Orwellian performance. The event was officially titled, "Rally to Protect Our Elections." But of course the 2020 presidential election only required "protection" from Trump and his allies — protection against voter suppression, widespread lies and subterfuge, an attempted coup against the certification of electoral votes and other attempts to undermine democracy and subvert the people's will.
Trump repeatedly claimed that his "patriotic" movement had been betrayed by the Democrats, President Biden, the news media, social media platforms and other assorted "enemies." He made masterful use of doublespeak, saying, "I am not the one trying to undermine American democracy — I am the one trying to save American democracy."
He even added a new wrinkle to the Big Lie narrative, claiming that votes were supposedly rigged, stolen and otherwise manipulated in Biden's favor — and the truth is to be found in "the routers," the sort of technical-sounding detail that is actually nonsense. Adding new details to a conspiracy theory is an effective way of keeping one's audience engaged, ensuring that the conspiratorial mind finds new channels to follow and new mysteries to be solved.
Trump ramped up his vague threats of political violence, mixing the unsettling and the absurd in vintage style:
- "Like it or not, we are becoming a communist country. That's what's happening, that's what's happening. We are beyond socialism."
- "The survival of our nation depends on holding these responsible. ... We have to hold those that are responsible for the 2020 presidential elections scam. It was a scam, greatest crime in history, and we have to hold these people accountable."
- "These people are crazy. Whatever happened to cows, remember they were going to get rid of all the cows? They stopped that, people didn't like that. Remember? You know why they were going to get rid of all the cows? People will be next."
- "The Biden administration's action is an outrageous insult to the American people and to our country. The United States of America is the most just and virtuous nation in the world in the history of the world. And I'll tell you, you're not going to have a country very much longer. You're not going to have a country."
- "Our country is being destroyed by people who have no right to destroy it. People that won an election illegally. People that should not have been elected. They lost in a landslide. Joe Biden and the radical Democrats are wrecking our nation. I don't even believe it's him. I honestly don't believe. I don't think Joe knows where the hell he is. I don't think it's him. Crime is surging. Inflation is soaring. The border is gone. We went from the strongest border ever to the weakest border ever. The border is non-existent. Illegal aliens are pouring in, in record numbers. Critical race theory is being forced into every facet of our society. Free speech is being crushed."
In all, Trump's Phoenix rally was a celebration of lies, white victimology, paranoia and threatened acts of "patriotic" revenge and political violence. Such threats or possibilities are a key attribute of fascism, which proposes scorched-earth tactics to destroy the old social order and create a new one in the image of the leader and the followers.
How did the public respond to Trump's Phoenix rally? The same public voices who have been sounding the red alert about Trump's neofascist movement and its escalating threat to democracy continued to do so. In most important ways, the events of Jan. 6 were just a trial run or harbinger for worse political violence in months and years ahead.
It seems conceivable that the 2022 midterms may be the last "free and fair" national elections in the United States — and given the Jim Crow Republicans' accelerating war on multiracial democracy, that prediction is generous.
Too many voices in the media continue to downplay the dangers to democracy represented by Donald Trump, his movement and the Republican Party. When voices in the mainstream media do speak out, they often lack credibility because they were so late to face the truth about the Trump movement. They may express alarm now, but it's not clear that has much if any impact on public consciousness.
The house has been on fire for several years and now the professional smart people and others with a prominent public platform are finally screaming for help. It is far too late for such belated sounds of alarm to have a real impact on the public's consciousness.
Liberal schadenfreude was in full bloom on social media, which saw a torrent of mockery directed at Trump and his followers, often describing them as ignorant rubes or losers. But laughter will not save America from Trumpism.
In a recent conversation with Salon, physician and psychoanalyst Dr. Justin Frank, author of "Trump on the Couch," described this kind of laughter in the face of Trumpism as "unhealthy humor" and "defensive in nature."
It's defending against anxiety and fear. Specifically, it is a defensive use of contempt. Through it, people can demean and insult Donald Trump, which in turn means they don't have to be afraid of him. One of the ways a person can express contempt is through laughter. Thus it is a denial of one's vulnerability, because contempt means the other person is harmless, therefore he or she cannot hurt you. In that way, Trump is made into a pathetic fool. "If I laugh, it's not going to hurt me."
Ultimately, defensive contempt is a way of dismissing Trump's dangerousness. However, that type of contempt toward Trump is really an attack on reality. It is also an attack on one's own perception because you have actually undermined your own ability to understand just how dangerous Donald Trump is.
Six years into the Age of Trump, the American people cannot claim ignorance of Trump and his movement. They have been warned repeatedly. They have witnessed the consequences. On Twitter, former Republican strategist Steve Schmidt offered these observations after Trump's Phoenix rally:
Ignoring Trump is not an option. Looking away is not an option. Trump is the 2024 presumptive nominee of the GOP. His insanity, conspiracy theories, rage, grievance and lying are dangerous. His words tonight teemed with menace and intimations of violence. Yet, he remains unchallenged except @Liz_Cheney and @RepKinzinger will defy him. He is in complete and total command of the Republican Party and he is waging war on the idea of American democracy. We are at the most dangerous moment in this nations history since the Civil War. Trump is unstable, unfit and addled yet he could be the 47th President. If that happens, we lose the country. We lose our democracy.
Famed Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein told CNN's "Reliable Sources" on Sunday that Trump exhibits "a kind of delusional madness — such as Gen. Milley was talking about — that's on a scale and a scope that we have never experienced in an American president in our history. I think we need to calmly step back and maybe look at Trump in a different context. He is our own American war criminal, of a kind we've never experienced before."
All Donald Trump has to do to command more political violence is to tell his followers the place, date and time. Can anyone doubt they would eagerly follow his orders? The rest of the American people would be shocked. The mainstream news media would tell readers and viewers that this was "unprecedented" and "unimaginable" and that no one could have imagined such a thing in America. Democratic leadership would bray on about "bipartisanship," "democratic institutions," "norms" and "rules." Such reactions are a choice, born of willful ignorance and learned helplessness — a choice that may well doom American democracy.
Subway's tuna sandwiches may not be their most famous product, but some (including this author) would argue they are one of their tastiest. Needless to say, it was alarming to read a report that a New York Times investigation into the sandwich's tuna found "no amplifiable tuna DNA," suggesting that the so-called tuna sandwich was not, in fact, tuna fish. Subway later questioned the reliability of the DNA tests, claiming in a statement that it "is simply not a reliable way to identify denatured proteins like Subway's tuna, which was cooked before it was tested."
The viral "fake tuna" debacle has undoubtedly hurt Subway's brand, and heightened a popular perception of corporations as shifty and untrustworthy. Yet regardless of the mystery meat's provenance, the saga highlights a larger industrial supply chain problem — namely, that fish fraud, as it is known, is prevalent. That means that if indeed some of Subway's tuna is "fake," it may not entirely be their fault.
"On Subway specifically, I would say that they are probably better than average, as far as companies of their size," John Hocevar, marine biologist and director of Greenpeace's oceans campaign, told Salon. "There are so many problems with the tuna industry that it is very difficult for companies sourcing as much tuna as Subway to be confident that they know their fish wasn't caught with forced labor, or in ways that are very harmful to our oceans."
Tuna isn't the only fish that has fraud problems. Oceana, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit ocean conservation group, began to investigate seafood fraud in 2011 and has since uncovered troubling patterns. In 2016 the group released a report about the worldwide scope of seafood fraud that detailed a pervasive, stomach-churning cheat of unsuspecting consumers. On average, one out of five of the more than 25,000 samples of seafood that they tested from 55 countries were mislabeled, with the trend occurring at every stage of the supply chain.
In the United States, studies released since 2014 found the average fraud rate (weighted by sample size) to be 28 percent. Worldwide, Asian catfish, hake and escolar were the fish most commonly substituted; more than half of the replacement fish (58 percent) were from species that could get certain consumers sick. In Italy, 82 percent of the 200 swordfish, grouper and perch samples tested were revealed to have been mislabeled; nearly half of the substituted fish have been labeled "threatened with extinction" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
"Overall, what we found is that seafood fraud can happen anywhere both geographically and in the supply chain," Oceana deputy vice president for US campaigns Beth Lowell told Salon by email. Lowell explained that the supply chains which move aquatic food from the ocean to your table are "often opaque," making it easy for incompetence or unscrupulousness to lead to a bait and switch at consumers' expense.
Lowell added, "Oceana found that nearly one out of every three fish tested in the United States — in grocery stores and restaurants alike — were mislabeled." Often the mislabeling meant customers were spending more money than the fish was worth, or potentially put consumers at risk from fish that could endanger them. In one instance, Oceana found that high-mercury fish, for which the FDA warns against consumption by young children and pregnant women, were mislabeled and sold as "safe" fish that are low in mercury.
So why is fish fraud prevalent? The answer boils down to lack of regulation, poor regulatory bodies, and the profit motive — in other words, capitalism behaving as usual.
"In addition to the fact that we import a lot of seafood that was caught illegally, once it gets to a supermarket or a restaurant, we can't be confident that the legal seafood that is being sold is actually what it's being labeled as, and there are several reasons for that," Hocever explained. Indeed, very few businesses seriously follow their responsibility to trace the origins of their fish, and they can get away with it because their business is difficult to observe.
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He added, "Another big challenge is something called trans-shipment at sea. Your average person would assume that a boat goes out, catches fish, and then comes back into port, sells those fish, and then goes back out, catches more fish. Instead, tuna vessels often handover their catch to another boat at sea and just keep fishing."
Hocevar advocates for a few specific solutions to the fake fish problem. We can ban or heavily regulate oceanic trans-shipment, increasing third party coverage of boats that exchange products, improve transparency over who owns fishing vessels and more effectively implement existing regulations.
"All seafood sold in the U.S. should be safe, legally caught, responsibly sourced, and honestly labeled," Lowell told Salon. "Until then, honest fishermen, seafood businesses, consumers and the oceans will pay the price. Consumers have a right to know more about the seafood they eat, including what species it is, where it is caught and how it was caught so they can make their own decisions whether that be for health, sustainability or other reasons." She argued that the United States to expand the number of seafood types covered by the Seafood Important Monitoring Program (SIMP) and make sure that all seafood is traceable from the fishing boat to when it is consumed.
The Subway tuna sandwich scandal is not the first one to draw attention to the problem of fish fraud. The New York attorney general issued a report in 2018 revealing that a significant percentage of the fish purchased in New York City was mislabeled. Among other things, Letitia James found that farmed salmon samples were sold as "wild" 27 percent of the time, 87 percent of lemon sole was mislabeled, and 67 percent of red snapper fillets were mislabeled.
"I'm very happy to see law enforcement getting involved," Larry Olmsted, author of "Real Food/Fake Food: Why You Don't Know What You're Eating and What You Can Do about It," told Salon at the time. "Mislabeling is rampant in the seafood industry, and if you can't reliably get the fish you want in a port city like New York, just imagine what levels of fraud are like further inland. This business has had a fraud problem for years and years and the only people tracking it have been public interests groups."
Without regulation, us consumers may spend our lives worrying that the purveyors of succulent fish steaks, flavorful sushi rolls and moist crab cakes may be lying to us. That leaves us with a choice: take an informed risk, or avoid seafood altogether — even if that means, in my case, giving up on delicious Subway tuna hoagies.
Over the weekend, Donald Trump held a huge indoor rally in Arizona, called "Rally to Protect Our Elections," which in all likelihood will end up being a super-spreader event since so many of his followers are anti-vaccine and anti-mask. They showed up in great numbers, dressed in their flamboyant MAGA gear, excited and thrilled to be in the presence of their leader.
Trump made passing reference to the vaccines in his endless speech, taking credit for them and telling people he thinks they should get them but then going out of his way to say he respects those who choose not to do it. Of course, the crowd really only cheered the latter.
But the rally was billed as really about "election integrity," which in Trumpworld translates to the Big Lie about 2020. And he delivered. He went on and on about the so-called "fraud" spreading bogus details along the way, reinforcing his determination to organize the party around his lost cause. In the context of January 6th and Trump's ongoing Big Lie, there was a darker message as well.
"Our nation is up against the most sinister forces...This nation does not belong to them, this nation belongs to you," Trump said.
He wasn't talking about a foreign enemy. And the reference to 1776 was, as you'll no doubt recall, one of the insurrectionist rallying cries on January 6th, even pushed by GOP members of Congress on that day:
Let's just say that Donald Trump is not distancing himself from the insurrection. In fact, he is using code words and conspiracy theory signals to suggest that he's still as happy about it as he reportedly was when it happened.
Meanwhile, in Washington, we have seen the Republican Party do everything in its power to bury any investigation into that day. They've waged an ongoing tantrum over Speaker Nancy Pelosi's various attempts to put together a commission or select committee to gather a full account of what happened on that day. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy insists that no investigation that doesn't include Republicans who are pushing the Big Lie and are, therefore, complicit in the insurrection, can possibly be fair. (Would he would have wanted members of Al Qaeda on the 9/11 commission as well?)
While there's little doubt that a few GOP members of Congress are true believers, this is really all about one thing: the 2022 elections. And the last thing Republicans want to be talking about in that campaign is the trainwreck of January 6th. But even if they had been able to derail a congressional investigation, they can't shut up Donald Trump, and he can talk of nothing else — and the Republican establishment is increasingly worried about it.
CNN's Manu Raju asked South Dakota Republican Senator John Thune... about the former president's claim that the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 was a "lovefest.""That's not what any of us here experienced," he responded. "Trying to rehash and revisit and re-litigate the past election is not a winning strategy for trying to get the majorities back in 2022."
Raju asked the South Dakota senator if Trump's claims of widespread fraud will hurt the party's chances in the 2022 midterms. "I mean, he's gonna keep saying it. There's not anything we can do about it," Thune said. "But like I said, anytime you're talking about the past, you're not talking about the future. And I think the future is where we're gonna live."
Trump spoke to this at the Arizona rally this past weekend:
I tell this to people. I tell it to Republicans and a lot of them are very good people and they say, "Well, sir, we have to get onto the future." Let me tell you, you're not going to have a future. First of all, our nation is being destroyed, but you're not going to have a future in '22 or '24 if you don't find out how they cheated with hundreds of thousands and even millions of votes, because you won't win anything. You won't win anything.
Whether they like it or not, the GOP strategy in 2022 is going to be about relitigating 2020. Trump is out there endorsing candidates who defended him and nixing anyone who may have balked, creating even more anxiety among Republican leaders. He is still in charge.
You might wonder why they are so nervous since Trump does get out their base and in the midterm that could be decisive. Well, they are probably aware that Trump continuing to dominate will also help Democratic turnout. And while it is very true that much depends on the Democrats' ability to deliver the material benefit they promised, negative partisanship is a very powerful motivator and nobody brings it out like Donald Trump.
CNN political analyst Ron Brownstein has written about this, noting that Democrats were able to produce exceptional turnout in 2018 and 2020 among people who don't always vote because of the deep antipathy to Trump. They have all the contact numbers for these folks and will be sure to let them know exactly what Trump is up to, even if they aren't paying close attention.
Michael Podhorzer, political director of the AFL-CIO, has said that the 7.7 million voters who didn't vote in 2016 but came out in the next two elections, along with the 18 million first-time voters in 2020 are key to success in 2022. According to the Catalyst election analysis, half of those first-time voters who cast a ballot for Biden, did so to vote against Trump. If he's out there talking his usual trash, the Democrats will likely have a much easier time persuading those voters to come out in 2022.
Beyond that, Mitch McConnell is almost certainly concerned about Trump's ongoing disparagement of the voting system. After all, he knows there's a good chance he lost the Senate because Trump's accusations of rampant electoral corruption resulted in Georgia Republicans failing to vote in the runoff that elected two Democratic senators. Trump has a very loyal base but there may be more than a few who figure it just isn't worth it when they hear the constant refrain about corrupt election systems.
Whether Democrats are able to take advantage of this opening remains to be seen. The official line is that they are going to depend upon a good economy and the proverbial "kitchen table issues" to get out the vote. But last week the president himself seemed to indicate that he understands that Democratic voters are still highly motivated by their loathing of the man who still insists he won the election. At a campaign rally for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, Biden threw down the gauntlet, calling McAuliffe's Republican opponent a "Trump acolyte."
Biden added: "I whipped Donald Trump in Virginia and so will Terry." He trolled Trump in a way designed to thrill the crowd, which it did:
He knew what he was doing. It was a subtle, but effective jab at the former president who famously had to hold his glass with two hands. Don't be surprised to see more of this. If Trump won't go away the Democrats wouldn't be fools not to take advantage of it.
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