Tag Archives: Trump

Noam Chomsky: Trump could stage a ‘false flag’ terror attack and ‘change the country instantly’

Author and political philosopher Noam Chomsky sounded a dire warning on Monday in an interview with AlterNet’s Jan Frel, saying that President Donald Trump could stage a “false flag” terror attack in an effort to consolidate his power and strip Americans of their constitutional rights.

Chomsky warned that eventually the people who voted for Trump will realize that his “promises are built on sand” and begin to lose faith in his presidency, at which point Trump will need someone to scapegoat, so he will say, “‘Well, I’m sorry, I can’t bring your jobs back because these bad people are preventing it.’ And the typical scapegoating goes to vulnerable people: immigrants, terrorists, Muslims and elitists, whoever it may be. And that can turn out to be very ugly.”

“I think that we shouldn’t put aside the possibility that there would be some kind of staged or alleged terrorist act, which can change the country instantly,” Chomsky said.

Chomsky — who has called Trump a “con man” who will drag civilization “down to the utter depths of barbarism” — also said that much of the world is amused at the outrage many Americans feel about Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“I mean whatever the Russians may have been doing, let’s take the most extreme charges, that barely registers in the balance against what the U.S. does constantly,” he said. “Even in Russia. So for example, the U.S. intervened radically to support [Boris] Yeltsin in 1991 when he was engaged in a power play trying to take power from the Parliament, Clinton strongly supported him. In 1996, when Yeltsin was running, the Clinton administration openly and strongly supported them, and not only verbally, but with tactics and loans and so on.”

“All of that goes way beyond what the Russians are charged with, and of course that is a minor aspect of U.S. interference in elections abroad,” said Chomsky, adding that the U.S. operates under a philosophy of “If we don’t like the election, you can just overthrow the country.”

The White House is reportedly in turmoil after the collapse of the administration’s healthcare law, which was withdrawn before it could come to a vote on Friday. While the president’s poll numbers are at historic lows, Trump’s supporters are still largely loyal to the man they voted for.

By David Furguson

Posted by the NON-Conformist

More Guns, Less Medicine: Trump’s Military Spending Binge Would Swamp Savings From Health Care Repeal

THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE (CBO) released its analysis of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) on Monday, finding that the Trump-backed House Republican bill that seeks to repeal and replace Obamacare would save the federal government $337 billion over 10 years — at the cost of throwing 24 million people off of health insurance coverage by 2026.

But those theoretical savings would be more than wiped out by an also theoretical increase in military spending that President Trump wants Congress to pass.

Shortly after the release of the CBO report, House Speaker Paul Ryan put out a statement embracing its findings, claiming among other things that it found that the AHCA would “dramatically reduce the deficit.”

Yet Ryan has offered no objections to Trump’s request for an additional $54 billion in annual military spending in this coming year. The increase alone amounts to 80 percent of Russia’s current military spending; it would make the United States responsible for almost 40 percent of global military expenditures.

Assuming that the Trump administration set the new amount as a baseline going forward, over 10 years it would amount to $540 billion in additional spending. This eclipses the $337 billion that would ostensibly be saved were the AHCA to pass in its current form and remain in place.

And the CBO also finds that the vast majority of savings from the law will come after 2020, when the Medicaid expansion is rolled back. In fact, it wold add $56 billion to the deficit in its first three years:

CBO2-1489445969

Congressional Budget Office

The reason the AHCA doesn’t save more is because it also includes a $600 billion tax cut, most of it aimed at benefiting wealthier taxpayers, by paring back taxes used to support the Affordable Care Act.

AHCA’s impact on the federal budget deficit is hardly the whole picture, of course. The CBO estimates that 14 million people would lose health insurance coverage in its first year. The cost of health insurance premiums would go up for many. The CBO notes, for example, that someone 64 years old earning $26,500 a year would see their net premiums increase from $1,700 annually to $14,600:

CBO-1489441955

Congressional Budget Office

President Trump can offer any number of justifications for hiking military spending while embracing a health care bill that would throw tens of millions off of health insurance. But he just can’t claim to care about the deficit.

By Zaid Jilani/TheIntercept

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The Dance of Death

The ruling corporate elites no longer seek to build. They seek to destroy. They are agents of death. They crave the unimpeded power to cannibalize the country and pollute and degrade the ecosystem to feed an insatiable lust for wealth, power and hedonism. Wars and military “virtues” are celebrated. Intelligence, empathy and the common good are banished. Culture is degraded to patriotic kitsch. Education is designed only to instill technical proficiency to serve the poisonous engine of corporate capitalism. Historical amnesia shuts us off from the past, the present and the future. Those branded as unproductive or redundant are discarded and left to struggle in poverty or locked away in cages. State repression is indiscriminate and brutal. And, presiding over the tawdry Grand Guignol is a deranged ringmaster tweeting absurdities from the White House.

The graveyard of world empires—Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Mayan, Khmer, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian—followed the same trajectory of moral and physical collapse. Those who rule at the end of empire are psychopaths, imbeciles, narcissists and deviants, the equivalents of the depraved Roman emperors Caligula, Nero, Tiberius and Commodus. The ecosystem that sustains the empire is degraded and exhausted. Economic growth, concentrated in the hands of corrupt elites, is dependent on a crippling debt peonage imposed on the population. The bloated ruling class of oligarchs, priests, courtiers, mandarins, eunuchs, professional warriors, financial speculators and corporate managers sucks the marrow out of society.

The elites’ myopic response to the looming collapse of the natural world and the civilization is to make subservient populations work harder for less, squander capital in grandiose projects such as pyramids, palaces, border walls and fracking, and wage war. President Trump’s decision to increase military spending by $54 billion and take the needed funds out of the flesh of domestic programs typifies the behavior of terminally ill civilizations. When the Roman Empire fell, it was trying to sustain an army of half a million soldiers that had become a parasitic drain on state resources.

The complex bureaucratic mechanisms that are created by all civilizations ultimately doom them. The difference now, as Joseph Tainter points out in “The Collapse of Complex Societies,” is that “collapse, if and when it comes again, will this time be global. No longer can any individual nation collapse. World civilization will disintegrate as a whole.”

Civilizations in decline, despite the palpable signs of decay around them, remain fixated on restoring their “greatness.” Their illusions condemn them. They cannot see that the forces that gave rise to modern civilization, namely technology, industrial violence and fossil fuels, are the same forces that are extinguishing it. Their leaders are trained only to serve the system, slavishly worshipping the old gods long after these gods begin to demand millions of sacrificial victims.

“Hope drives us to invent new fixes for old messes, which in turn create even more dangerous messes,” Ronald Wright writes in “A Short History of Progress.” “Hope elects the politician with the biggest empty promise; and as any stockbroker or lottery seller knows, most of us will take a slim hope over prudent and predictable frugality. Hope, like greed, fuels the engine of capitalism.”

The Trump appointees—Steve Bannon, Jeff Sessions, Rex Tillerson, Steve Mnuchin, Betsy DeVos, Wilbur Ross, Rick Perry, Alex Acosta and others—do not advocate innovation or reform. They are Pavlovian dogs that salivate before piles of money. They are hard-wired to steal from the poor and loot federal budgets. Their single-minded obsession with personal enrichment drives them to dismantle any institution or abolish any law or regulation that gets in the way of their greed. Capitalism, Karl Marx wrote, is “a machine for demolishing limits.” There is no internal sense of proportion or scale. Once all external impediments are lifted, global capitalism ruthlessly commodifies human beings and the natural world to extract profit until exhaustion or collapse. And when the last moments of a civilization arrive, the degenerate edifices of power appear to crumble overnight.

Sigmund Freud wrote that societies, along with individuals, are driven by two primary instincts. One is the instinct for life, Eros, the quest to love, nurture, protect and preserve. The second is the death instinct. The death instinct, called Thanatos by post-Freudians, is driven by fear, hatred and violence. It seeks the dissolution of all living things, including our own beings. One of these two forces, Freud wrote, is always ascendant. Societies in decline enthusiastically embrace the death instinct, as Freud observed in “Civilization and Its Discontents,” written on the eve of the rise of European fascism and World War II.

“It is in sadism, where the death instinct twists the erotic aim in its own sense and yet at the same time fully satisfies the erotic urge, that we succeed in obtaining the clearest insight into its nature and its relation to Eros,” Freud wrote. “But even where it emerges without any sexual purpose, in the blindest fury of destructiveness, we cannot fail to recognize that the satisfaction of the instinct is accompanied by an extraordinary high degree of narcissistic enjoyment, owing to its presenting the ego with a fulfillment of the latter’s old wishes for omnipotence.”

The lust for death, as Freud understood, is not, at first, morbid. It is exciting and seductive. I saw this in the wars I covered. A god-like power and adrenaline-driven fury, even euphoria, sweep over armed units and ethnic or religious groups given the license to destroy anything and anyone around them. Ernst Juenger captured this “monstrous desire for annihilation” in his World War I memoir, “Storm of Steel.”

A population alienated and beset by despair and hopelessness finds empowerment and pleasure in an orgy of annihilation that soon morphs into self-annihilation. It has no interest in nurturing a world that has betrayed it and thwarted its dreams. It seeks to eradicate this world and replace it with a mythical landscape. It turns against institutions, as well as ethnic and religious groups, that are scapegoated for its misery. It plunders diminishing natural resources with abandon. It is seduced by the fantastic promises of demagogues and the magical solutions characteristic of the Christian right or what anthropologists call “crisis cults.”

Norman Cohn, in “The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Messianism in Medieval and Reformation Europe and Its Bearing on Modern Totalitarian Movements,” draws a link between that turbulent period and our own. Millennial movements are a peculiar, collective psychological response to profound societal despair. They recur throughout human history. We are not immune.

“These movements have varied in tone from the most violent aggressiveness to the mildest pacifism and in aim from the most ethereal spirituality to the most earth-bound materialism; there is no counting the possible ways of imagining the Millennium and the route to it,” Cohen wrote. “But similarities can present themselves as well as differences; and the more carefully one compares the outbreaks of militant social chiliasm during the later Middle Ages with modern totalitarian movements the more remarkable the similarities appear. The old symbols and the old slogans have indeed disappeared, to be replaced by new ones; but the structure of the basic phantasies seems to have changed scarcely at all.”

These movements, Cohen wrote, offered “a coherent social myth which was capable of taking entire possession of those who believed in it. It explained their suffering, it promised them recompense, it held their anxieties at bay, it gave them an illusion of security—even while it drove them, held together by a common enthusiasm, on a quest which was always vain and often suicidal.

“So it came about that multitudes of people acted out with fierce energy a shared phantasy which though delusional yet brought them such intense emotional relief that they could live only through it and were perfectly willing to die for it. It is a phenomenon which was to recur many times between the eleventh century and the sixteenth century, now in one area, now in another, and which, despite the obvious differences in cultural context and in scale, is not irrelevant to the growth of totalitarian movements, with their messianic leaders, their millennial mirages and their demon-scapegoats, in the present century.”

The severance of a society from reality, as ours has been severed from collective recognition of the severity of climate change and the fatal consequences of empire and deindustrialization, leaves it without the intellectual and institutional mechanisms to confront its impending mortality. It exists in a state of self-induced hypnosis and self-delusion. It seeks momentary euphoria and meaning in tawdry entertainment and acts of violence and destruction, including against people who are demonized and blamed for society’s demise. It hastens its self-immolation while holding up the supposed inevitability of a glorious national resurgence. Idiots and charlatans, the handmaidens of death, lure us into the abyss.

By Chris Hedges/Truthdig

Posted by The NON-Conformist

‘Fix crime rate or I’ll send in feds’ – Trump to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

US President Donald Trump has warned Chicago he will “send in the feds” if city officials fail to bring the crime rate under control. The city has so far had more shootings and homicides in 2017 than at the same time last year, according to reports.
Trends
Police brutality, Police-involved shootings
In a tweet on Tuesday, Trump stated that if Chicago doesn’t fix the growing crime problem, which he slammed as “horrible carnage,” he will resort to federal intervention to quell the violence.
Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible “carnage” going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!

The newly-inaugurated president did not specify, however, the kind of federal intervention he meant – whether it is federalization of the local police, sending in the FBI or another federal agency, or some other course of action.

According to figures cited in his tweet, Trump appeared to be reacting to a story published by the Chicago Tribune this Monday, where the news outlet reported that at least 228 people have been shot in Chicago so far this year, which is a 5.5 percent increase from the same period in January 2016. The Tribune also reported at least 42 homicides as of Monday morning, an increase of 23.5 percent.

Chicago Police Department spokesman Frank Giancamilli disagreed with the Tribune over the numbers, noting that according to police data, there have been 182 shootings in the city this January – “exactly flat from last year,” as cited by Reuters.
The Tribune stuck to its figures, however, suggesting the city was on track to exceed last January’s 50 homicides, the most for the month in 16 years.

With a population of 2.7 million people, Chicago had more shootings and homicides last year than any other US city, according to Chicago Police statistics, cited by Reuters. Chicago’s homicide toll for 2016 was 762, the highest since 1996. Its murder clearance rate, which measures the solved and closed cases, remains one of the lowest in the country.
Donald J. Trump ✔ @realDonaldTrump
Chicago murder rate is record setting – 4,331 shooting victims with 762 murders in 2016. If Mayor can’t do it he must ask for Federal help!

Earlier this month, Trump already pointed to the fact that the city’s murder rate was “record setting,” warning that if the mayor [Rahm Emanuel] can’t cope with the situation, “he must ask for Federal help.” Tuesday’s statement is the first on the matter expressed by Trump as president.

One of Trump’s first promises during his inauguration speech was to “empower our law enforcement officers to do their jobs and keep our streets free of crime and violence.”

“The Trump Administration will be a law and order administration. President Trump will honor our men and women in uniform and will support their mission of protecting the public. The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it,” reads a brief posted on the White House website right after the inauguration.

The brief comes at a time of widespread support in the US for police reform. Nationwide protests call for transparency and accountability in law enforcement in the wake of the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, as well as other cases of police abuse, especially against African Americans.

Less than two weeks ago, the US Justice Department published a damning report on the Chicago Police, accusing them of regularly using force which was “unjustified, disproportionate and otherwise excessive.”

“Chicago Police Department (CPD) engages in a pattern or practice of using force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution,” the DOJ said in the report. The report stated that Chicago Police have unfairly targeted minorities and used “unreasonable force” on predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods, causing a breakdown in police-community trust.

“The city fails to investigate the majority of cases it is required to investigate by law,” the DOJ said. It also pointed out that, even when an investigation is launched, it is “aimed at eliciting information favorable to the officer.”

From Russia Today

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Why the Historic Women’s March Was Controversial for Some Black Women

Just one day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, an estimated 470,000 people (and millions more across the United States and the world) flooded the streets of Washington, D.C., for the first Women’s March on Washington.

Men, women and children — but mostly women — turned out for the historic march on Saturday, Jan. 21, to stand up for women’s rights but also to protest against newly inaugurated President Donald Trump, who made a series of overtly misogynistic remarks during his campaign.

Millions ultimately gathered to unify under the umbrella of feminism, civil rights, immigration and environmental activism, among other issues. However, many Black female organizers and intellectuals had their doubts about the march meeting the needs and concerns of Black women.

Old rifts between Black women organizers and the white feminist movement began to arise soon after the idea for the Women’s March on Washington was announced. The New Yorker reported that the idea for the march was credited to Teresa Shook, a retired white lawyer who resides in Hawaii. After Trump’s surprising presidential win, Shook launched a Facebook event page suggesting a protest. Word of her anti-Trump idea quickly spread, garnering more than 10,000 supporters overnight.

Shook initially called her event the Million Woman March, a moniker originally attributed to a massive protest for Black sisterhood and self-determination held in Philadelphia in 1997. The retired attorney eventually changed the name of her rally, but some Black women still weren’t convinced and accused white women’s rights advocates of appropriating movements started by Black women.

“The many mistakes inherent at all levels of organizing the Women’s March event from very early on demonstrate the very problematic nature of ‘white feminism,’ ” Jalessah Jackson, a Gender and Cultural Studies major working on her master’s at Simmons College in Boston told Atlanta Black Star. “That is, white feminists’ tendency [historically] to align themselves with white supremacy to achieve their own goals.”

“What we see happening is white women tokenizing and using women of color to advance their own agenda,” Jackson continued. “I don’t think that’s genuinely intersectional. I’m not interested in faux solidarity or intersectionality being merely an afterthought.”

The “intersectionality” Jackson spoke of is a term coined by African-American feminist and legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989 and is the concept of inextricably linked facets of race, sex, gender identity and economic status.

The galvanizing issue behind the march was the election of President Trump, who walked to victory with 53 percent of the white female vote. But could white women who couldn’t convince other white women to vote against Trump now center themselves in the “resistance” against his policies?

Many African-American women questioned why they should respond to white women’s call for human rights when they felt their own calls had gone unanswered. Historically, African-American women’s rights advocates have taken issue with the feminist movement overall, highlighting its sometimes racist and exclusionary practices. Was this present-day equality march tumbling down the same rabbit hole? Was it catering to the anxiety of white women over Trump’s victory, while bypassing the real concerns Black women (and communities) have been organizing around for centuries without the resources or support from the people now jumping in front of the line?

Lastly, if Hillary Clinton had won the election and broken the glass ceiling, would there still not be a need for a march to make sure Clinton was clued in that women, particularly Black women, would still be facing income and wealth gabs, police and incarceration issues, terrible public education policies, as well as reproductive rights issues?

Columnist Jamilah Lemieux addressed these concerns in an op-ed piece for ColorLines on Tuesday, Jan. 17. In it, Lemieux explained that she wouldn’t be participating in the Women’s March because she didn’t see the point in “putting my body on the line to feign solidarity with women who, by and large, didn’t have my back prior to November.”

“When I learned that some of those women had decided to channel their disappointment into a ‘Million Women March,’ my twisted moment of pleasure quickly gave way to a familiar sense of annoyance,” she wrote. “Once again, the labors of Black folks (in this case, the 1995 Million Man March and the 1997 Million Woman March organized by Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam) were being co-opted and erased by clueless White ones.

“Will the Women’s March on Washington be a space filled primarily with participants who believe that Black lives matter?” Lemieux added. “I’m not sure.”

Black women’s rights advocates like Lemieux and others who spoke out against the march’s lack of intersectionality and called for more inclusivity were quickly deemed “divisive” and destructive to the vision of feminist solidarity. White feminists condemned African-American, LGBTQ, and Muslim activists who dared to speak up when their interests were forgotten or ignored, creating what critics called “conflict.”

“The attempted hijacking of the march’s agenda and all the nasty tit-for-tat between white vs. black/queer/Muslim/trans and other identities tells a very disturbing story about the divided state of feminism today,” contributor Emma-Kate Symons wrote in an opinion piece for Women in the World. “It saddens me to see the inclusive liberal feminism I grew up with reduced to a grab bag of competing victimhood narratives and individualist identities jostling for most oppressed status.”

Jackson countered Symons’ argument, however, by pointing out how white feminists who supposedly care about the rights of ALL women failed to rally behind Black female victims of police brutality. She added that white women’s rights advocates have a tendency to pick and choose whose female rights they care about.

“Most of the women who marched pat themselves on the back and go back to ignoring women who reside at the intersections of multiple identities,” Jackson told ABS. “Identifying these issues is not being divisive. I believe that in order to affect social change, we must identify what hasn’t been working in order to fix it.”

Some of these issues were resolved or at least finagled by including experienced nonwhite women organizers and activists in the writing of the guiding vision of the march, including them in the list of speakers and having them help lead the organizing process after the rocky start.

The Women’s March was a historic success in bringing out the masses, with far more people turning out for the protest than for Trump’s inauguration, according to The New York Times. But as the feminist movement struggles to become more diverse and open, many concerns need to be addressed, such as leadership, resources and the next steps in creating a viable “resistance” to Trump’s agenda. Moreover, there’s a need to tackle the liberalism of the historic feminist movement, which has too often fought for a place for white women at the expense of Black ones.

By Tanasia Kenney

Posted by The NON-Conformist

Trump vows to end overseas ‘intervention & chaos,’ rebuild ‘depleted’ US military

Donald Trump has laid out a military policy which he says is aimed at ending “intervention and chaos” overseas. He promised to build up the “depleted” military, but said it would be done with prevention in mind, rather than aggression.
Speaking at the latest stop on his “thank you” tour of swing states, President-elect Donald Trump told a crowd in Fayetteville, North Carolina that he wants to “strengthen old friendships and seek out new friendships,” stressing that the US will “stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about, that we shouldn’t be involved with.”

“We don’t want to have a depleted military because we’re all over the place fighting in areas that we shouldn’t be fighting in. It’s not going to be depleted any longer,” he said during the Tuesday event.

He spoke of the need to spend money “on ourselves” rather than continuing to run up an extremely costly tab in the Middle East.

“We’ve spent, at last count, $6 trillion in the Middle East, and our roads have potholes all over, our highways are falling apart, our bridges are falling, our tunnels are no good, our airports are horrible like third world countries,” Trump said. “We’re going to start spending on ourselves, but we’ve got to be so strong militarily like we’ve never ever been before.”

Although Trump vowed to build up the “depleted” military, he said it would be done “not as an act of aggression, but as an act of prevention.”

“In short, we seek peace through strength,” he said.

He went on to stress that the focus of the US military should be on defeating terrorism and destroying Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), promising that the goal would be achieved under his administration.

Also on Tuesday, US President Barack Obama took a much different stance during his final national security speech, defending his legacy of fighting IS – despite continuous criticism by Trump.

“Today the results are clear,” Obama said, crediting the US-led coalition of countries battling IS, and claiming that it has lost more than half its territory and faces a dwindling recruitment effort.

Trump has been critical of Obama’s approach towards IS, claiming he is waging a “politically correct” war against the terrorist group, and criticizing his refusal to use the words “radical Islamic terrorism” after the Orlando massacre.

The president-elect also accused Obama of being the “founder of ISIS” at a Fort Lauderdale, Florida rally in August.

“In fact, in many respects, you know, they honor President Obama. ISIS is honoring President Obama. He is the founder of ISIS. He’s the founder of ISIS, OK?” he said at the time.

Trump’s Tuesday comments were made during the latest stop of his “thank you” tour of swing states which were vital to his win. He will continue the tour in Iowa and Michigan later this week.

From/RT

Posted by The NON-Conformist

The GOP’s Stealth War Against Voters

Will an anti-voter-fraud program designed by one of Trump’s advisers deny tens of thousands their right to vote in November?

When Donald Trump claimed, “the election’s going to be rigged,” he wasn’t entirely wrong. But the threat was not, as Trump warned, from Americans committing the crime of “voting many, many times.” What’s far more likely to undermine democracy in November is the culmination of a decade-long Republican effort to disenfranchise voters under the guise of battling voter fraud. The latest tool: Election officials in more than two dozen states have compiled lists of citizens whom they allege could be registered in more than one state – thus potentially able to cast multiple ballots – and eligible to be purged from the voter rolls.
The data is processed through a system called the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, which is being promoted by a powerful Republican operative, and its lists of potential duplicate voters are kept confidential. But Rolling Stone obtained a portion of the list and the names of 1 million targeted voters. According to our analysis, the Crosscheck list disproportionately threatens solid Democratic constituencies: young, black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters – with some of the biggest possible purges underway in Ohio and North Carolina, two crucial swing states with tight Senate races.

Like all weapons of vote suppression, Crosscheck is a response to the imaginary menace of mass voter fraud. In the mid-2000s, after the Florida-recount debacle, the Bush administration launched a five-year investigation into the allegedly rampant crime but found scant evidence of wrongdoing. Still, the GOP has perpetuated the myth in every national election since. Recently, North Carolina Board of Elections chief Kim Strach testified to her legislature that 35,750 voters are “registered in North Carolina and another state and voted in both in the 2012 general election.” [Editor’s note: This quote was taken from the power point that accompanied Strach’s testimony. In a subsequent letter, she informed us that during her presentation she “stressed that we were not suggesting that 35,750 voters had committed any type of fraud. My testimony was that the data we received from the Crosscheck Program showed that in the 2012 general election, there were 35,750 people who voted in North Carolina whose first and last names and dates of birth matched persons who voted in the same election in another state.”] Yet despite hiring an ex-FBI agent to lead the hunt, the state has charged exactly zero double voters from the Crosscheck list. Nevertheless, tens of thousands face the loss of their ability to vote – all for the sake of preventing a crime that rarely happens. So far, Crosscheck has tagged an astonishing 7.2 million suspects, yet we found no more than four perpetrators who have been charged with double voting or deliberate double registration.
On its surface, Crosscheck seems quite reasonable. Twenty-eight participating states share their voter lists and, in the name of dispassionate, race-blind Big Data, seek to ensure the rolls are up to date. To make sure the system finds suspect voters, Crosscheck supposedly matches first, middle and last name, plus birth date, and provides the last four digits of a Social Security number for additional verification.
In reality, however, there have been signs that the program doesn’t operate as advertised. Some states have dropped out of Crosscheck, citing problems with its methodology, as Oregon’s secretary of state recently explained: “We left [Crosscheck] because the data we received was unreliable.”
In our effort to report on the program, we contacted every state for their Crosscheck list. But because voting twice is a felony, state after state told us their lists of suspects were part of a criminal investigation and, as such, confidential. Then we got a break. A clerk in Virginia sent us its Crosscheck list of suspects, which a letter from the state later said was done “in error.”
The Virginia list was a revelation. In all, 342,556 names were listed as apparently registered to vote in both Virginia and another state as of January 2014. Thirteen percent of the people on the Crosscheck list, already flagged as inactive voters, were almost immediately removed, meaning a stunning 41,637 names were “canceled” from voter rolls, most of them just before Election Day.
We were able to obtain more lists – Georgia and Washington state, the total number of voters adding up to more than 1 million matches – and Crosscheck’s results seemed at best deeply flawed. We found that one-fourth of the names on the list actually lacked a middle-name match. The system can also mistakenly identify fathers and sons as the same voter, ignoring designations of Jr. and Sr. A whole lot of people named “James Brown” are suspected of voting or registering twice, 357 of them in Georgia alone. But according to Crosscheck, James Willie Brown is supposed to be the same voter as James Arthur Brown. James Clifford Brown is allegedly the same voter as James Lynn Brown.
And those promised birth dates and Social Security numbers? The Crosscheck instruction manual says that “Social Security numbers are included for verification; the numbers might or might not match” – which leaves a crucial step in the identification process up to the states. Social Security numbers weren’t even included in the state lists we obtained.
We had Mark Swedlund, a database expert whose clients include eBay and American Express, look at the data from Georgia and Virginia, and he was shocked by Crosscheck’s “childish methodology.” He added, “God forbid your name is Garcia, of which there are 858,000 in the U.S., and your first name is Joseph or Jose. You’re probably suspected of voting in 27 states.”
Swedlund’s statistical analysis found that African-American, Latino and Asian names predominate, a simple result of the Crosscheck matching process, which spews out little more than a bunch of common names. No surprise: The U.S. Census data shows that minorities are overrepresented in 85 of 100 of the most common last names. If your name is Washington, there’s an 89 percent chance you’re African-American. If your last name is Hernandez, there’s a 94 percent chance you’re Hispanic. If your name is Kim, there’s a 95 percent chance you’re Asian.

This inherent bias results in an astonishing one in six Hispanics, one in seven Asian-Americans and one in nine African-Americans in Crosscheck states landing on the list. Was the program designed to target voters of color? “I’m a data guy,” Swedlund says. “I can’t tell you what the intent was. I can only tell you what the outcome is. And the outcome is discriminatory against minorities.”
Every voter that the state marks as a legitimate match receives a postcard that is colorless and covered with minuscule text. The voter must verify his or her address and mail it back to their secretary of state. Fail to return the postcard and the process of taking your name off the voter rolls begins.
This postcard game amplifies Crosscheck’s built-in racial bias. According to the Census Bureau, white voters are 21 percent more likely than blacks or Hispanics to respond to their official requests; homeowners are 32 percent more likely to respond than renters; and the young are 74 percent less likely than the old to respond. Those on the move – students and the poor, who often shift apartments while hunting for work – will likely not get the mail in the first place.
At this point, there’s no way to know how each state plans to move forward. If Virginia’s 13 percent is any indication, almost 1 million Americans will have their right to vote challenged. Our analysis suggests that winding up on the Crosscheck list is hardly proof that an individual is registered in more than one state. Based on the data, the program – whether by design or misapplication – could save the GOP from impending electoral annihilation. And not surprisingly, almost all Crosscheck states are Republican-controlled.
The man behind crosscheck is Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Yale-educated former law professor. After 9/11, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft tasked Kobach with creating a system to track foreign travelers. (It was later shut down over concerns about racial profiling.) He is best known as the author of Arizona’s “Driving While Brown Law,” which allowed cops to pull over drivers and ask for proof of their legal status. He co-wrote the ultraconservative 2016 RNC party platform, working in a recommendation that Crosscheck be adopted by every state in the Union. He’s also the Trump adviser who came up with a proposal to force Mexico into paying for Trump’s wall.
In January 2013, Kobach addressed a gathering of the National Association of State Election Directors about combating an epidemic of ballot-stuffing across the country. He announced that Crosscheck had already uncovered 697,537 “potential duplicate voters” in 15 states, and that the state of Kansas was prepared to cover the cost of compiling a nationwide list. That was enough to persuade 13 more states to hand over their voter files to Kobach’s office.
In battleground-state Ohio, Republican Secretary of State John Husted’s Crosscheck has flagged close to half a million voters. In Dayton, we tracked down several of the suspects on our lists. Hot spots of “potential duplicate” voters, we couldn’t help but notice, were in neighborhoods where the streets are pocked with rundown houses and boarded storefronts. On Otterbein Avenue, I met Donald Webster, who, like most in his neighborhood, is African-American.
Crosscheck lists him registered in Ohio as Donald Alexander Webster Jr., while registered a second time as Donald Eugene Webster (no “Jr.”) in Charlottesville, Virginia. Webster says he’s never been a “Eugene” and has never been to Charlottesville. I explained that both he and his Virginia doppelgänger were subject to losing their ability to vote.
“How low can they go?” he asked. “I mean, how can they do that?”
I put his question to Robert Fitrakis, a voting-rights attorney who examined our Crosscheck data. I showed him Donald Webster’s listing – and page after page of Ohio voters. Fitrakis says that the Ohio secretary of state’s enthusiasm for Crosscheck fits a pattern: “He doesn’t want to match middle names, because he doesn’t want real matches. They’re targeting people with clearly defined ethnic names that typically vote for the Democratic Party. He wants to win Ohio the only way he knows how – by taking away the rights of citizens to vote.”
Kobach refused to speak for this story. So I went to Newton, Kansas, where he was headlining an ice-cream-social fundraiser in a public park. I approached Kobach with the Crosscheck list he had refused me, and asked, “Why are these lists so secret?”

“They aren’t,” Kobach answered, contradicting what his attorney had told me.
I pointed to a random match on the Crosscheck list and asked him why it identified James Evans Johnson as the same voter as James P. Johnson.
Kobach denied the name could be on the list. “Our system would not yield this match,” he said. (And according to the rules of his program, it shouldn’t have.)
“This is the list you gave [Virginia], and they knocked off 41,000 voters,” I said.
“That is false!” he said, as he hurried away. “You know why? Federal law prohibits that.”
Kobach is correct that federal regulation typically would complicate such a sweeping purge, but somehow tens of thousands of voters in Virginia got knocked off the rolls anyway.
Kobach’s Crosscheck purge machinery was in operation well before Trump arrived on the political scene – and will continue for elections to come. Low voter turnout of any kind traditionally favors the GOP, and this is the party’s long game to keep the rolls free of young people, minorities and the poor. Santiago Juarez of New Mexico, an attorney who has done work for the League of United Latin American Citizens, has spent years signing up Hispanic voters in the face of systemic efforts to suppress their vote. He scoffed at the idea of a massive conspiracy among Latinos to vote in two states. “Hell,” he said, “you can’t get people to vote once, let alone twice.”

By Greg Palast/Rolling Stone

Posted by The NON-Conformist