Welcome back to All the News You Didn’t Even Know Was Going Down. What a long strange week it’s been. Trump has issued more executive orders which have made millions of migrants without documents potential targets for deportation. Meanwhile, Trump has gone to war with the centrist and pro-Democrat press as his supporters gear up for a set of demonstrations in an attempt to build street level support for the unpopular billionaire. Meanwhile, as state and local governments discuss more draconian attacks on protests and demonstrations, police and sheriffs have aggressively cleared many of the water protectors at Standing Rock while the EPA prepares to roll back various environmental regulations.
With all that and more in mind, let’s get to the news!
Trump’s already limited popularity has continued to fall in various polls, with some now reporting that up to half of the population favors his impeachment. To counter his falling popularity, Trump has sought to go back and re-energize his base and organized his first post inauguration campaign rally in Florida while more “March 4 Trump” events are being called for on March 4th.
At the Florida rally, Trump promoted the slogan, “Putting America Back to Work. We Are Going to Put People Before Government,” which played to Trump’s populist veneer while also disguising Bannon’s underlying goal of promoting “American exceptionalist” and “economic nationalist” politics above neoliberalism which really equate to pushing through massive deregulation, destroying environmental restrictions, tax cuts for the wealthy, and putting blame for economic hardship on immigrants and those receiving entitlement programs.
Meanwhile at CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) this week, much of this same proto-fascism was on display, while at the same time the conference did a feeble attempt to distance itself from the Alt-Right which in the past it has coddled, with event organizers even kicking out Milo before the conference began and Richard Spencer during the day. As one report wrote:
The other day, we noted how after years of helping to normalize the racist Alt-Right, the organizers of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) are now trying to distance themselves from the movement. This is despite the fact that this year’s conference features a main stage interview with White House strategist Steve Bannon, who just last year bragged about turning Breitbart, a prominent CPAC sponsor, into “the platform for the Alt-Right.”
This morning, Dan Schneider of the American Conservative Union, which organizes CPAC, delivered a speech titled “The Alt Right Ain’t Right at All” in which he tried to claim that the Alt-Right has no place within the conservative movement because the term “Alt-Right” has been hijacked by “a hate-filled left wing fascist group” for the purpose of confusing people about what conservatism really represents.
But while the “Alt-Right,” which in many ways has already been successfully mainstreamed into the Trump administration, was thrown under the bus as a “left-wing” movement, popular movements and struggles, the “Left” media, and anyone that does anything Trump doesn’t like (such as judges) were all presented as one united enemy at CPAC.
Steve Bannon, who sat down with Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to rally the Republican and conservative movement base around the regime, described the press as “corporatist” and “globalist” who were attacking Trump’s “economic nationalist agenda…” These sentiments were backed up by Trump himself at CPAC, who railed against the “corporate media” who he accused of promoting fake news and referred to potentially millions of people set to be deported as “bad dudes.” Trump also touted the mega-build up of the American military, cutting welfare, and plans to push through various pipelines and energy projects.
But Trump and Bannon’s attacks on the media also materialized in reality on Friday, when Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a press conference, The New York Times, The LA Times, CNN, and the BBC were all barred from attending, while far-Right operations like Breitbart were allowed in.
Back to Steve Bannon, his own speech laid out a clear path that the administration will continue to head in during the coming months and years, and should be seen as a roadmap and a warning to everyone. Bannon’s “three point program” included:
- “National security and sovereignty,” which has played out by attempting to end refugees from Syria entering the country, the Muslim ban, pushing to build a wall along the Mexican border, and pushing to deport potentially millions of undocumented people. Not grabbing headlines however, is Bannon and Trump’s open push to launch a trade war with China and other superpowers in a drive to solidify supremacy of the American economy that greatly threatens world war for the sake of the profits of a few.
- Second is what Bannon likes to describe as “economic nationalism,” which essentially means the US switching from a globalized neoliberal model to a nationalist one, while making business within the US more hospitable by attacking unions, opening up massive amounts of energy reserves, rolling back environmental conditions, regulations on business, banking, and financial sectors, and also slashing taxes for corporations and the wealthy. While this is touted as “populist,” it simply attempts to make the US into an economic powerhouse while grinding down the working-class, exploiting the carbon bubble while possible, and solidifying corporate and financial power.
- Lastly, Bannon described the task of the Trump administration as “deconstruction of the administrative State,” to much great applause. Bannon discussed that Trump’s cabinet appointees were picked specifically for these tasks, which essentially means destroying and/or privatizing social welfare, health-care, and community service programs that have been in place for decades providing a meager safety net for poor and working-class people.
Bannon made several other key points, first that Trump’s win was only made possible by the coming together of the campaign’s vanguard and the insurgent conservative rank-n-file base. He also spelled out that the Trump campaign was a coalition of a variety of far-Right formations and individuals who all worked together to get things done.
Bannon went on to say that everyday with Trump will be a fight against “them,” meaning the Left, opposition forces, and the media – to implement Trump’s agenda. Bannon stated that as ‘jobs come back’ under Trump and conditions ‘get better,’ ( :-[ ) then opposition would get even worse from the media and other forces, which of course helps paint a conspiratorial situation. You’re either with Trump, or against America.
Bannon also called on those represented at CPAC to rally under shared principles, saying that from economic nationalists to libertarians to conservatives, they should unite around the US being a nation with an economy as opposed to a neoliberal state “with open borders,” and a nation with “a culture, and a reason for being. I think that’s what unites us.” Bannon’s blend of semi-libertarian, nationalist, and far-Right capitalism is also on display in his weird-ass film, Generation Zero. We urge you to watch it if you want to understand where these people who are now running the country are coming from, or at least, how they want you to see the world.
“There’s a new political order that is being formed out of this,” Bannon lamented. Those opposed to this order should take note.
But Trump and Bannon weren’t the only people to offer up some shit-gems. Various speakers gave speeches on how the “the Left” was in fact the major threat facing the country. Ginni Thomas, a conservative activist and husband to a supreme court judge, pushed forth a theory in a speech on “World War III,” that Islam and communism were working together to destroy Murica:
World War III started about 1,400 years ago [with Islam]. Islam and the Bolsheviks have never parted company.
Trevor Loudon, a birther conspiracy theorist, would add that “professional revolutionaries” along with the Democratic Party and in bed with Russia were supporting Clinton and working against the United States – oh and along with Muslim Brotherhood too.
— New York City Antifa (@NYCAntifa) February 25, 2017
The person that took the “professional protester” conspiracy theory to the max was NRA VP Wayne LaPierre, who about 2 minutes into his speech singled out the black bloc along with the media:
Claiming that activists who are protesting President Trump are being paid thousands of dollars as part of a massive conspiracy to “dehumanize and demonize” conservatives in order to purge them from society, LaPierre painted the NRA as the only organization capable of protecting decent Americans from the “terror and bloodshed” that is sure to come.
LaPierre had nothing but scorn for the role that the media is supposedly playing in this effort to destabilize society and longed for the days when people who leaked government information were hung for treason.
“Our country is under siege from a media carpet-bombing campaign,” he said, “and America knows it. You can hear it in their tone, their sneers, you can literally see the disdain on their faces. Everything from their word choices to their inflection is trained on one target: purposely and maliciously destroying the Trump presidency, no matter what it takes and no matter what it costs.”
Outraged about damaging reports coming out about the Trump administration, LaPierre declared that “100 years ago, if you eavesdropped and published the affairs of the head of state, you would have been tracked down and hanged for treason.”
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) February 25, 2017
There are several takeaways from CPAC this year. The first is that Bannon is right, not only has Trump outlined what he is going to do in his speeches and everything that Bannon has spelled out time and time again and they mean it, but that moreover, a new political order is rising. The old Republican Party that was more interested in Dominionist, interventionist, and neoliberal economics is dead. Bannon paints this struggle as a fight against “the elites” of the party and in wider society. But they also know that in order to carry out their agenda, they have to have support, they need to play up their populist message, or at least sell it.
To do this, they are working overtime to keep support strong and steady in their base while also presenting it as a social movement with a real relationship with Trump and those within the State. After all, Trump has and will continue to call on his supporters to support his policies especially against popular opposition in the streets. Chipping away at this support and trying to find cracks within it is definitely needed.
Trump also needs to appear that he is making things better for his base, largely declassed middle to upper-middle class white people. How Trump is going to do this, or if he will be able to, is still up in the air, but it surely seems that major projects such as construction of the wall along the Mexican border, detention facilities, and energy/pipeline projects will be part of his possible “success” stories.
Moreover, it’s clear that both the media’s hounding of Trump continues to be a problem as well as popular opposition on the streets of the country for the regime. In the face of this, states across the US are pushing forward laws that further criminalize protesting and demonstrations that Republican law-makers are hoping to rush through successfully. This cuts to the heart of myths such as “paid protesters,” for if the State can downplay popular opposition, it can normalize repression against it.
While this situation seems grim, and it is, we have to remember that there is still massive opposition to Trump across the US and the regime knows this. They’re betting they can scare people off the streets with old-fashioned repression, scapegoating, and attacking the militants in various struggles. Their message of violence and threats is the same to anyone that opposes them, and as time passes, only grows stronger. How our social movements do in standing up to this assault is anyone’s guess, but in understanding what our enemies are thinking and why, is a good first step.
Moreover, we have to understand that Bannon and others like him see in Trump a kind of “last stand” against the impending ascension of the the millennial generation that grows more and more disconnected from establishment politics and more and more anti-capitalist. Nothing like a good old world war and a strengthening of white supremacy and patriarchy to bring the young back into the fold and remind them of what America is all about.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) February 24, 2017
Police and sheriffs have dismantled the Oceti Camp in North Dakota at Standing Rock over the course of several days, leading to various arrests. According to Unicorn Riot:
The water protector camp that for months formed a beachhead against Dakota Access Pipeline construction was destroyed midday Thursday, February 23rd. A combination of law enforcement and military units forced aside the last inhabitants so the remaining structures could be demolished, while a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) helicopter orbited overhead.
The Army Corps of Engineers’ deadline of Wednesday, February 22nd, demanding water protectors clear out of the main #NoDAPL camp, passed without law enforcement entering the camp, although several journalists were attacked (see our full report).
The main camp, which several weeks ago hosted thousands of people, known as Oceti Sakowin or Oceti Oyate, often called ‘Oceti’ for short, was dismantled with 46 arrests reported on Thursday (AP).
In response, new camps have gone up, as it remains unclear what will happen with those who remain.
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) February 25, 2017
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) February 25, 2017
While the future of the encampments at Standing Rock remain in question, the outside campaign to divest and defund DAPL continues, with Seattle having just canceled a city contract with Wells Fargo worth billions.
How we can continue to push these campaigns, especially in an autonomous and confrontational nature, remains to be seen. Check Unicorn Riot for more updates and consider writing your own reports and analysis for It’s Going Down.
Anti-Migrant Executive Orders
A new set of orders which Trump described as a “military operation” has come out in regards to immigration, giving a green light to immigration officials to go after those who are undocumented, leading to some disgusting results and one person possibly killing themselves after being deported. In The New York Times, journalists described the new sense of freedom immigration police now feel they have:
In Virginia, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents waited outside a church shelter where undocumented immigrants had gone to stay warm. In Texas and in Colorado, agents went into courthouses, looking for foreigners who had arrived for hearings on other matters.
At Kennedy International Airport in New York, passengers arriving after a five-hour flight from San Francisco were asked to show their documents before they were allowed to get off the plane.
The Trump administration’s far-reaching plan to arrest and deport vast numbers of undocumented immigrants has been introduced in dramatic fashion over the past month. And much of that task has fallen to thousands of ICE officers who are newly emboldened, newly empowered and already getting to work.
“Before, we used to be told, ‘You can’t arrest those people,’ and we’d be disciplined for being insubordinate if we did,” said a 10-year veteran of the agency who took part in the operation. “Now those people are priorities again. And there are a lot of them here.”
The article goes on to write:
Two memos released this past week by the Department of Homeland Security, the parent agency of ICE and the Border Patrol, provided more details about how it would carry out its plan, which includes Mr. Trump’s signature campaign pledge — a wall along the entire southern border — as well as speedier deportations and greater reliance on local police officers.
But for those with ICE badges, perhaps the biggest change was the erasing of the Obama administration’s hierarchy of priorities, which forced agents to concentrate on deporting gang members and other violent and serious criminals, and mostly leave everyone else alone.
What remains to be seen is if these actions will lead to wide scale roundups, which the administration says won’t happen, or just continued build up of powers, more agents, and more detention facilities. For more information on the orders, check out this video below which breaks them down.
Not surprisingly, private prisons are making a comeback in the face of potentially incarcerating so many migrants:
Few profited more immediately from Donald Trump’s election than the private-prison industry. On Nov. 9, the day after Mr. Trump won, the Corrections Corporation of America (now CoreCivic), the nation’s biggest operator of private prisons, saw its stock price jump 43 percent; its leading competitor, the GEO Group, rose 21 percent. Stocks in those companies are up more than 100 percent since Election Day.
On Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions scrapped an order issued last August by President Barack Obama’s Justice Department to phase out the government’s use of private prisons, which increased substantially as exploding prison populations strained the capacity of state and federal facilities in the 1980s. At their peak, privately run prisons housed 30,000 federal inmates, or about 15 percent of the total federal prison population; by this May, they will hold around 14,000.
For now, the Justice Department’s new policy will affect a relatively small number of people. Tens of thousands more state prisoners are housed in private prisons, and the federal prison population has been shrinking for four years. But private facilities are sure to start expanding again under the Trump administration, thanks in part to mass detention of undocumented immigrants and increased enforcement of federal laws against recreational marijuana use.
Trump that Spring
You could call the Groundhog’s Feb. 2 declaration of six more weeks of winter fake news or alternative facts. Since Punxsutawney Phil’s pronouncement, spring-like weather has overtaken much of the nation. And some of the month’s warmest weather with respect to normal is yet to come.
So far this month, the temperature has averaged more than five degrees above normal over the Lower 48 — with the warmest temperatures with respect to normal centered over Texas.
“I keep rubbing my eyes and wondering when I am going to wake up from this fast-forward spring,” writes meteorologist Paul Douglas for the Star Tribune. “Weather maps continue to keep looking like March this week with hints of April this weekend. Unreal.”
Through Feb. 13, the nation set an astonishing 1,495 high temperature records compared to just 10 for cold, according to Guy Walton, a meteorologist who tracks such temperature extremes. That’s a “whopping” 150 to 1 ratio of record highs to record lows, Walton said.
The new head of the EPA is also poised to roll back a series of milktoast Obama regulations:
The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency suggested to a gathering of conservative Republicans on Saturday that the agency could begin as early as next week the process of rolling back some of the federal regulations put in place by the Obama administration.
“The future ain’t what it used to be” at the EPA, Scott Pruitt said during an address at the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC.
Pruitt, who started at the agency Tuesday, did not specifically indicate what rules President Trump’s administration will target immediately. But he cited a controversial clean water rule as an example of a regulation that went too far.
The regulation – known as the Waters of the United States Rule and adopted by the Obama administration – expands the definition of waters subject to the jurisdiction of the EPA under the Clean Water Act.
DNC Stays In the Center
The DNC has always been a party for ruling class interests, and in the last several decades under the Clintons it has moved to represent the interests of Silicon Valley and those of upper-middle class wealthy urban professionals, not the working class. Today’s win by Obama’s former labor secretary, Tom Perez (which led the Hillary wing of the party) to the head of the DNC only further cements this.
The Democrats will attempt to stay a Centrist party and only use “left-wing opposition” as a means to bring people into the party, as they did Bernie. At the same time, groups like Swing Left are already attempting to build on the Trump moment and are getting ready for elections in 2018.
If we want to get out from behind this hamster wheel – we’ll have to out organize them and continue to push our ideas into the public consciousness.
The ROAR Conference is coming up in the bay area and is fundraising. Please help!
It’s Going Down
Don’t forget we have a new magazine. We are working on getting copies out around the US, but if you have access to make copies the PDF is here.
— The Base (@TheBaseBK) February 26, 2017
Wanna make some IGD stickers? PDF here!
Thanks to everyone that’s kicked down this month to support IGD. It means a lot!