#AlternativeFacts; Alternative Reality: April 11, 2017

Yes folks, it’s April 11th, not April 1st, and I promise that nothing said here is made up. I preface this in such a way because frankly, nearly everything that’s transpired over the past 24 hours defies belief to an extent that it seems necessary.

Let’s start with Sean Spicer. Earlier today, in a press briefing, the man known for creating alternative facts attempted to spin a new narrative: that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is worse than Adolf Hitler was during World War II. The main point of his argument hinged on maybe the most absurd lie this man has told as Press Secretary– an impressive feat, mind you– that Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.” Anyone who’s studied an iota of history is aware of the gas chambers used for mass-murder in the concentration camps used to murder upwards of 12 million people. Spicer is not among them– he referred to these camps as “Holocaust Centers,” and, even when pressed, maintained that Assad’s alleged ordering of the use of Sarin gas was a worse crime than Hitler, because Hitler, in this alternative universe, did not use chemical weapons “on his own people.” To add insult to injury, these comments come during the celebration of Passover, a Jewish holiday.

Spicer apologized on CNN almost immediately afterwards, calling the comparison a “mistake,” but the damage is long done. The Ann Frank Center, Nancy Pelosi, and the general public have called for his immediate ouster, and the hashtag #FireSpicer has been trending on Twitter for several hours as of this writing. This is not the first time the Trump administration has been accused of anti-semitism in this still-infant presidency, either. On Holocaust Remembrance Day, newly-inaugurated President Trump drew ire for failing to mention the six million Jewish victims in his speech. Meanwhile, Breitbart “news,” formerly owned by White House Senior Advisor Steve Bannon, is regularly criticized for anti-semitic language and advocacy– hallmarks of the alt-right, or “alt-Reich”. Richard Spencer, meanwhile– the “White Nationalist” (read: actual, shameless Nazi) who coined the term “alt-right” and got punched in the face at the Women’s March, had also been a fervent supporter of Trump, at least until the air strikes in Syria. Spencer and the alt-right have denounced the missile launches as the brainchild of Jared Kushner–also a Senior Advisor, Ivanka Trump’s husband, and a practicing member of the Jewish faith- who Bannon and the alt-right apparently refer to as a “globalist cuck.” The latter is beyond the scope of this blog, but I will take a moment to address the former, if only to say this: globalism is already the way of the world. There is no winding back that clock, and even if there were, no one in favor of preserving the human race should be advocating it. Those using the term as an insult are only broadcasting the distance between their limited perceptions and reality. And, if there is room for populism within a globalist word–a large and contentious if– it will not be heralded by a member of the 0.1% who only has his own interests in mind. Make no mistake: Donald Trump may well have run and “won” on a populist platform, but he is not, nor will he ever be a populist president.

So… that happened.

In other “what the %&#$” news, a bill was introduced to the House of Representatives– H.R. 193– that would withdraw the United States from the United Nations by repealing the United Nations Participation Act of 1945. The bill is sponsored by Mike Rogers (R-AL) and co-sponsored by eight Republicans, who introduced the bill just before Congress entered its two-week Easter leave. (I’ll spare you my off-topic rant on Christian privilege in this country for the moment, and instead link you to this fantastic article on the subject by Ellen Friedrichs over at Everyday Feminism.) While our Representatives return home for the holiday, let’s all evaluate this information in preparation for what should be some incredibly productive town hall meetings: while the United States has, admittedly, been the United Nation’s largest funder, this funding accounts for slightly more than one percent of the federal budget. This includes voluntary contributions–which, while important, the United States can choose to withdraw at any point such a decision is deemed necessary. Compare this to the nearly 16% of the budget dedicated to military spending in 2015. If one of these two expenditures should be cut, it seems clear that military spending could be decreased in favor of continuing to protect human rights abroad. And, in preemptive response to those making the argument that we should not be the world’s police force: I agree. The fact is, withdraw over a fifth of the United Nations’ funding as well as the full force of the United States military backing UN resolutions, and the world suddenly becomes a place much more in need of individual nations to act to defend human rights than it already is. Donald Trump and the Republican Congress cannot selectively decide when they will and will not take responsibility for the world’s problems: the moment he acted in Syria, the decision was made. I urge all of you to remind your Representatives of this in Town Hall meetings: if the President is going to allege to care about tiny babies dying in Syria, he cannot simultaneously take his ball and go home when it comes to the United Nations– the governing body in charge of organizing a global response to such atrocities.

Finally, the news broke today that the FBI had obtained a FISA– Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act– warrant to surveil Trump campaign advisor Carter Page last summer in relation to his contacts with Russia. Such warrants can only be obtained against American citizens when there is probable cause that that individual is acting as an agent of a foreign government. Somehow, our wayward President has decided this vindicates his unsubstantiated claim that President Obama unlawfully ordered Trump’s “wires tapped” at Trump Tower leading up to the election. The absurdity speaks for itself: first, the presence of a FISA warrant negates any question of illegality, second, the intelligence community continues to stand firm in its repudiation of Trump’s claims, and third, the President might want to focus his attention on the fact that there was enough cause to justify the existence of such a warrant against a major campaign advisor. Then again, when a witch hunt is enough to convince his supporters, (I urge you to avoid that portion of Twitter, if you’d like to maintain possession of your sanity) maybe Trump is content to allow this subject to remain in the court of Public Opinion for the time being. Meanwhile, The Resistance is mainly content to allow this as well, acutely aware that this matter will likely end up in a much more significant court in the near future.

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