Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for October 9th, 2017

We Snuck into Seattle’s Super Secret White Nationalist Convention

leave a comment »

David Lewis writes at The Stranger:

Back in January, I e-mailed Dr. Greg Johnson, organizer of Northwest Forum, Seattle’s hottest closed-door white nationalist convention, asking for an interview on the latest in regional racism. He turned me down. Thanks to the internet, the far right no longer needs the mainstream media to get its message out. Print, television, and radio lose their relevance when everybody’s just a click away from Pepe the Frog, Disney songs dubbed with racist lyrics, and pseudo-intellectual essays that somehow try to bring ancient Rome into all this.

Also thanks to the internet, it only took me about an hour to change my identity from David Lewis, Seattle historian, to Dave Lewis, Neo-Nazi film editor and aspiring book critic from Charlottesville, currently living in Los Angeles. This Dave Lewis has never been to Seattle, but has always wanted to attend Northwest Forum.

My film editor persona dangled a giant chunk of cheese in front of Dr. Johnson. In addition to being a racist, Johnson is also a huge cinephile who has published two books of “pro-white” movie reviews wherein he rants against Zootopia as “pure evil” but surprisingly enjoyed 8 Mile. The role of film editor also worked to my advantage because, despite a recent fundraising spike, the white nationalist movement still has a hard time attracting people with artistic or technical talent.

Dr. Johnson bit the cheese. Entry into Northwest Forum typically requires “extreme vetting,” which means meeting in person and getting a beer with one of the Northwest’s white separatist organizations like True Cascadia. But I didn’t even have to send in a photo after mentioning that, as a Charlottesville native (actually from Ballard), I was writing an essay titled Tear Down Lee and Put Up Lincoln: Abraham Lincoln, World’s Greatest White Nationalist. The essay actually wasn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. One of Abraham Lincoln’s main objections to slavery was that it led to miscegenation, and he believed in deporting all the freed slaves to Haiti or Liberia as soon as the war was over. As the abolitionist Frederick Douglas put it, African-Americans were “at best only his stepchildren.”

My e-mail invite listed the forum for August 26th at noon, the same day Black Lives Matter activists planned a march to Lake View Cemetery to protest the Confederate Civil War memorial. Only the stated location aroused my suspicions, since the invite said we would be meeting at the Queen Anne Public Library, and policy dictates that library events have to be open to the public. A white nationalist convention definitely wasn’t the kind of thing you’d want Joe Seattle to stumble in on after he finishes pirating CDs onto his laptop. Nevertheless, as I got closer to the library, I noticed several young white dudes sporting the “fashy” haircut, previously known as a “Macklemore.” A lookout Nazi in a white polo shirt stood on the front lawn, twirling his curly tech-dick mustache. He noticed my white polo, which like the “Macklemore,” is now associated with white nationalism. Just to scrub out any doubt, I was also carrying a copy of the 1958 Neo-Nazi classic The Lightning and the Sun. “Are you here for the thing?” He asked. They were really going all out on the secret agent stuff. I nodded and he pointed me across the street to an early-20th century Masonic Lodge with dozens of other white nationalists heading through the doorway. Dr. Johnson said he told the Masons this was a writers group.

Originally built by the telephone company in 1900, the lodge was refurbished by the Masons in 1927. Upon entering, a woman who looked like a grizzled waitress from a black and white movie hit me up for a $40 admission fee (not mentioned in my invitation). Women, it turns out, are only slightly more common than black people at white nationalist conventions.

Of the 70 to 80 people in the lodge, only about four were female. By far the one who creeped me out the most was a five-year-old girl in white dress clomping around in pink boots with her blond hair in a pink ribbon who played Beethoven on the piano. When she walked by in her white dress eating a white Top Pot donut, the fawning look of admiration she received from Dr. Johnson seeing the next generation of white supremacy made my jaw drop. One of my new friends noticed the look on my face:

DL: Sorry, I’m just not used to seeing kids at these things.
NAZI: You wouldn’t see her if this was an Antifa rally.
DL: Yeah, she’d be wearing a little black bandana.
NAZI: No. She’d be a fucking abortion.

Virtually every time I use the word “Nazi” I’m using it as an insult. In the world of millennial white nationalism, there aren’t a ton of people who actually self-identify as Nazis. Despite usually agreeing with everything the Nazis did and believing the Holocaust is just “anti-white propaganda,” they always claim a technical reason for why they aren’t “National Socialists.” None of these reasons would ever make sense to anybody outside the community and “I’m not a Nazi, but” is one of the most common white nationalist recruitment tricks to have people hear them out.

White nationalists generally don’t want to look like characters out of American History X anymore. Fashion choices at the convention ranged from Ruby Ridge to Mad Men, but most of the people there looked like you might run into them on Capitol Hill or in the U-District. That said, there is a type. According to my observations, the standard Seattle Nazi is a white male under 30 who either works in the tech industry or is going to school to work in the tech industry. “You’re also a coder? Do you mind if I send you something I’ve been working on?” I heard that more than once.

Nobody at the convention looked less like a Nazi than organizer Greg Johnson in his sports coat and open-collared shirt. Before the forum I didn’t even know what the former philosophy professor Dr. Johnson looked like, as he is extremely good at keeping pictures of himself off the internet. Before an undercover Swedish activist working for Hope Not Hate secretly filmed him as part of a yearlong investigation into international white nationalism, the only picture of Johnson anywhere on the internet was a heavily blown up photo of him from his professor days on a Neo-Nazi website accusing him of being gay, calling him “Grinder Greg Johnson.” (The owner of the website is apparently unaware that Grindr is spelled without an “e”.) Whether he is actually gay and whether that’s an issue are among the more divisive questions in the white nationalist community.

When not fighting for the white ethno-state, Dr. Johnson lives an extremely NPR lifestyle filled with world travel, visits to art galleries, and opera. Talking to him, his college philosophy professor background comes out. He even recommended a better translation of Giambattista Vico’s New Science to me, and discussed Vico’s influence on James Joyce. If not for sprinkles of racial and anti-semitic slurs, he looks and acts exactly like someone you would run into at the Hugo House. While most white nationalists think Johnson keeps his identity secret because they think he is gay, he probably just doesn’t want to be recognized during intermission at the Seattle Symphony.

People attend the forum to meet the visiting blue chip racists that Dr. Johnson flies in. Notable guests have included Identity Evropa founder Nathan Damigo and anti-semitic professor Kevin MacDonald. The forum I attended featured Jared Taylor, founder and editor of the online white nationalist magazine American Renaissance, fresh from his VICE interview with Eddie Huang. One of the world’s leading advocates for scientific racism, Taylor is unique among white nationalists in that he believes East Asians to be objectively superior to whites. He signed some copies of his books in Japanese, having grown up in Japan to missionary parents and developing fluency in the language.

Visiting speakers have been surprised by the turn out in Seattle. Taylor told me that the meeting was actually bigger than similar events he has attended around the country. In a podcast following an earlier forum, Kevin MacDonald said he was impressed by both the turn out and superior quality of the attendees. Originally, Dr. Johnson planned on having a forum in Seattle on the even-numbered months and a forum in New York City on the odd-numbed months, but recently decided he might pull the NYC forum because it is much harder to fill a venue in New York than in Seattle, despite the Big Apple having almost 8 million more people. The surprising number of racists in liberal cities first occurred to Johnson years ago. He was working for a “highbrow” white nationalist magazine and noticed that many of their readers lived close to one another without knowing they had neighbors who shared their racist interests. Johnson set out to bring these people together in private. Seattleites, even the ones who love Hitler, hate confrontation.

Speaking of Hitler, while at the bar getting coffee and Top Pot donuts, I noticed Seattle’s Hitler tea-pot guy, Charles Krafft, stood right behind me. In 2013, the art critic Jen Graves revealed in The Stranger that Krafft’s Nazi-inspired ceramic art might not be ironic. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 October 2017 at 5:25 pm

Posted in Daily life, Politics

Blogging less, unpacking more

leave a comment »

I think unpacking is like software development: the last 10% takes 90% of the time. Today I did link my Withings (now Nokia) scale to the internet, so I can continue the record of my weight (which is dropping).

I made a batch of mayo using Old Bay seasoning, and I recommend it. Look at my standard mayo recipe under the “optional ingredients” for the Old Bay variation (using 1.5 tsp of Old Bay in place of 3/4 tsp of salt).

There is an amazing amount of little stuff to deal with in the tail end of a move. But tonight I’m reading Friday the Rabbi Slept Late, by Harry Kemelman, by , on my Kindle (where it’s just $2).

Tomorrow is a new shave cream, gift from The Wife: orange oil, vitamin E, coffee, and pineapple extract. I can’t wait. 🙂

Written by LeisureGuy

9 October 2017 at 5:09 pm

Posted in Daily life

Some things people forget about when hosting parties

leave a comment »

A good answer on Quora from Ross Cohen:

Things people forget about when hosting parties

  • Toilet Paper. Have more than you think you’ll need and leave the extra rolls in an obvious place. While you’re at it, freshen up the soap.
  • Areas of Congestion. The doorway, the kitchen, the food and drink. These are the primary places where people naturally congregate and bottleneck. Expect this and plan ahead as best you can. If you can set up a bar or food station somewhere other than the kitchen and far from the doorway, you’ll spread people out and make for a more comfortable, convivial atmosphere with lively, inclusive discourse.
  • Garbage. Don’t make people hunt for trash bins. Have more than one and spread them out. If you don’t, it’ll either pile up or people will have to carry it around or trek to the kitchen. Also, have an extra bag right in the bin so emptying/replacing is quick and easy. Have a plan for bottles and cans if you want them separate (recycle!).
  • Mixers. Cola, Diet Cola, Ginger Ale, Sprite, OJ, Tonic — it’s up to you but remember that unlike liquor, wine, and beer, no one brings these things. When they run out, they run out.
  • Ice. Everyone always forgets ice. Unlike drinks, it’s not something people tend to bring, either. Take care of it from the getgo so there’s one less thing to worry about. Don’t put it all out at once, though (so best have some freezer space cleared).
  • Hide any off-limits bottles. Would you be upset if that favorite bottle of wine you’re saving for a special occasion got opened? Don’t leave it anywhere near the partygoers.
  • Music. Best to plan your playlist before people arrive so you can be social.
  • Go the extra mile when introducing people. Don’t just throw names out, try to point out some common interest or fun fact about one of them as an ice breaker. You’re most likely going to get pulled from half the conversations you start, so best to help people bridge the gap as soon as possible (especially for less outgoing friends). Also, if you’re not 100% sure two people know each other’s names, re-introduce them. It’s better to let them have fun at your expense (“Of course I remember Tim!”) than to leave your friends with any unnecessary awkwardness.
  • Directions. People will have last minute issues and text you while you’re trying to host. To minimize that, try to think of everything and make it as easy as possible. Don’t just list the address, list the cross streets and landmarks. List the color. Describe everything. Mention the nearest trains, highway exits, places to park, or whatever else is appropriate for where you live.
  • What should we bring? Consider answering that question in the invitation, tactfully. Otherwise you’ll end up with one or more of the following: things you don’t want/need brought, lots of repetitive, individual questions at inopportune times, or nothing.
  • Photos. Do you want them taken? You’ll probably get distracted and forget. Prior to the party, or right at the start, ask a friend or two to remember to remind and/or take photos for/with you later. Or do it right away.
  • Is there someone you never see and really want to talk to? Every party I’ve ever hosted has flown by, even if it was 6 hours long. There are inevitably people I wish I’d spent more time talking to, especially since not everyone stays as long as others. If there’s someone you never see, or perhaps have a crush on and just want to make sure you talk to, seek them out right away and make sure it happens. Otherwise you’ll just fall into conversations opportunistically and spend all your time getting pulled in every direction by arriving and departing guests.
  • Clean everywhere. If there’s a room, someone will end up seeing it. Make your bed.
  • If anything is fragile or valuable, put it away.
  • If you have phone chargers, plug them into areas where guests will be.
  • Have a place for jackets and bags. If it’s a closet, have enough hangers. If it’s a bedroom, don’t forget to tidy.
  • Make space in your fridge. If people are bringing things, there needs to be a place to put it.
  • If you have a tight space for the number of people you’re expecting, consider removing coffee tables or other furniture.
  • Seating. Depending on the type of party and guests, you might have to add or remove seating. Is it a Super Bowl party? Think through the seating carefully, no one wants to stand. Is it more of a kegger with tons of people? Consider removing things to open up the space. Are some seats isolated? Consider removing or relocating them to promote mingling. Some people will park themselves on a couch and never speak to anyone they didn’t arrive with.
  • Think through your Guest List. Figure out any issues in advance. Do any of them have allergies you know of? Do any of them hate each other? Is there someone you can’t invite if you invited someone else? Is there someone you have to invite if you invited someone else? Save yourself the drama and plan accordingly.
  • Decorations. If you’re into that. I suggest making this the absolute lowest priority as it’s simultaneously the most time consuming and the least essential element of a successful party.
  • Napkins. Spread them around. Which brings me to my next point…
  • Spills. They happen. Expect it and plan accordingly.
  • Temperature. Has there ever been that many people in that space? Have you planned for that?
  • Don’t overspend. It’s tempting and easy to do, but in almost every category you can spend less than you think you should and the party will be just as good. Are people bringing alcohol? You probably don’t need as much of a starter supply as you’re tempted to buy.
  • Food. Think carefully about the time you’ve scheduled the party. If it’s during dinner time, you best have substantial food. If it’s before or after a standard meal time, snacks are appropriate (and have refills ready). But for the love of all that is holy, have something. Hungry guests leave or become hangry. That’s not good for anyone.

P.S. Don’t ever get party cups from the dollar store. Years ago I did and they really sucked. The color ran onto people’s fingers and ended up on my walls. And the plastic was so thin the cups barely held their shape.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 October 2017 at 2:02 pm

Posted in Daily life

The Real ‘Unmasking’ Scandal Could Be Yet to Come

leave a comment »

Ned Price has an interesting post at Lawfare:

Ned Price is a lecturer at The George Washington University. He previously served as a Special Assistant to President Obama on the National Security Council staff, where he also was the Spokesperson and Senior Director for Strategic Communications. Before that, Ned was an Assistant Press Secretary and Director for Strategic Communications on the National Security Council staff. Prior to serving at the White House, Ned was at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), where he was a spokesperson and—prior to that—a PDB briefer and senior analyst covering a range of strategic and tactical issues. He publicly resigned from the Agency in February 2017 after more than a decade of service, citing the Trump Administration’s disregard for intelligence analysis. Prior to joining the CIA, Ned was an Associate at The Cohen Group, working under former Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen on a variety of public policy, non-profit, and business initiatives. He has also worked on several political campaigns.

He writes:

Within the pantheon of Trump administration scandals, the manufactured uproar over “unmasking” came and went quicker than most. It was last spring that White House officials, working in tandem with House intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes, laundered intelligence information in an effort to train Americans’ sights on a practice that is routine—if highly regulated—within our national security establishment.

The effort blew up in their faces. The House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into Nunes,  who partially recused himself from the Russia investigation. The White House staffer who oversaw the secret political operation has since been fired. Even prominent Republicans, including Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, have publicly distanced themselves from the affair.

All’s well that ends well, right?

Unfortunately, the episode’s most pernicious blowback may be yet to come. It now threatens to inflict collateral damage on one of the intelligence community’s most important tools, Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA), which is up for congressional renewal this year. In its effort to distract from the Russia investigation while also tarnishing Obama administration officials, the current White House’s tactics may end up depriving our national security professionals of a tool they need to keep Americans safe.

First, some background on the legislation up for renewal. The intelligence community regards Section 702 as one of the most important tools in its arsenal because of what it enables: targeted surveillance of foreigners outside the United States. Identified U.S. citizens cannot be targeted under this authority. But without this law, national security professionals would need court authorization to, for example, read emails between two Syria-based terrorists communicating through U.S.-based platforms, such as Gmail or Yahoo. Among its many successes, intelligence officials say, this tool helped identify a terrorist constructing a suicide vest in Europe, disrupted a proliferation ring and thwarted a plot against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. That’s why the national security establishment has noted that a clean renewal of the FAA, with Section 702 fully intact, is its top legislative priority.

How exactly does Section 702 factor into the uproar surrounding alleged U.S. surveillance and unmasking of Trump campaign officials? The short answer is . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 October 2017 at 12:39 pm

Is ‘Terrorism’ More Morally Objectionable Than Other Forms of Mass Killings?

leave a comment »

Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat professor for peace and development at the University of Maryland and director of the University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll, writes at Lawfare:

Is the Las Vegas mass murderer a “terrorist”? This question has been hotly debated in recent days, which is in many ways surprising given that there is a near consensus on a straightforward definition of terrorism—roughly, as targeting noncombatants for political ends. One obvious reason for this debate is our society’s obsession with terrorism carried out in the name of Islam. Many, including our commander in chief, seem to leap to label horror against civilians “terrorism” as soon as it’s revealed that the attacker is Muslim and before anything has been confirmed about motives. But beyond the issue of double standards, there is a bigger issue at play here that we need to sort out as a society: We seem to imply that “terrorism” is morally worse than ”mass murder” or even ”hate crimes.” That is a flawed proposition that has its roots in a flawed post-9/11 discourse, exacerbated with instrumental use of the “terrorist” label by our government and leaders.

Lawfare has hosted a number of essays on legal aspects of the language used to describe violent events. Benjamin Wittes highlighted the importance of developing common vocabulary to describe them; Jane Chong stressed the consequences, including legal ones, of President Obama labeling the Boston Marathon bombings terrorism but not the Charleston shootings; and Susan Hennessey spoke particularly of the legal logic in categorizing terrorism. Regardless of the legal distinctions, I suggest that there is a prevalent sense that terrorism occupies a higher order of immorality, and offer reflections on its origin and justifiability.

The definition of terrorism includes both ends and means, but moral judgment is principally based on the means. People can morally sympathize with the motives behind some ends of terrorism—freedom, self-determination, etc.—while rejecting the means. With “hate crimes,” on the other hand, both ends and means are objected to, by definition. “Mass murder” is at least as morally objectionable as terrorism, and sometimes more. Yet “terrorism” adds an irrational stigma that elevates moral objections.

There is a similar stigma associated with “suicide terrorism.” All terrorism is morally objectionable based on its targeting of civilians/noncombatants. The “suicide” part adds little value to the moral objections.  Without the objectionable targeting of noncombatants, sacrificing the self for a higher cause is celebrated by almost every society. Yet for some, this form of terrorism seems to occupy an even higher level of immorality.

Of course, some of this is about fear: What is the chance that I may be targeted by a mass murderer, a terrorist or a suicide terrorist? Fear of terrorism has intensified since the 9/11 attacks, the Iraq war and its continuing fallout. While understandable, this fear is also irrational: The vast majority of mass attacks in the U.S. have not had a clear political motive, and certainly have not been carried out by Muslims.

A bigger factor in the stigmatizing effect of the label “terrorism,” and in the confusion on what constitutes terrorism despite the relatively clear definition, is how our own government and leaders have employed that term in the past decade and a half: To stigmatize enemies, often inconsistently. As I pointed out in an article in the Cornell International Law Journal in 2002, the analytical incoherence of speaking about terrorism as if it were an ideology, not simply an immoral instrument for varying ends (some of which can be legitimate), and of “terrorist groups” instead of “terrorist acts,” has fueled unhelpful discourse and perceptions. In the process, governments have used the terrorist label to . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 October 2017 at 12:34 pm

Posted in Law, Terrorism

The Republican’s Guide to Presidential Etiquette

leave a comment »

The NY Times Editorial Board has a lengthy list of Presidential Etiquette examples today:

Republicans used to care a whole lot about how a president comported himself, and whether he acted at all times with the dignity his station demands.

“Is President Obama Disrespecting the Oval Office?” Fox News asked in 2010, with a link to images of Mr. Obama and his aides tossing a football, or eating apples just inches from the Resolute desk.

“Wear a suit coat and tie,” said Andrew Card Jr., President George W. Bush’s former chief of staff, in reaction to pictures of Mr. Obama in shirtsleeves in 2009.

“I do expect him to send the message that people who are going to be in the Oval Office should treat the office with the respect that it has earned over history,” Mr. Card said.

But hey, that was then! In 2017, there’s a whole new bar for tolerable conduct by the commander in chief. Our original guide cataloged several dozen examples. Almost five months later, it’s clear that an update is necessary. This expanded list is meant to ensure that Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and other congressional Republicans never forget what they now condone in a president.

So, if you are the president, you may:

Mock a foreign leader with a demeaning nickname and threaten his country with nuclear annihilation over Twitter

Call for the firing of “son of a bitch” athletes who choose to exercise their right to free speech

Refer to the White House as “a real dump”

Spend the weekend golfing at your private club while the mayor of an American city wades through sewage-filled water to help citizens after a catastrophic hurricane, then accuse that mayor of “poor leadership” when she criticizes your administration’s slow response to the storm

Criticize victims of that hurricane still living without drinking water or electricity by saying they “want everything to be done for them

During a visit to some of those victims, throw rolls of paper towels at them and tell them they should be “very proud” that only 16 people have died so far, unlike in a “real catastrophe”

Attack a senator battling terminal cancer

Pick nominees to the federal bench who call a sitting Supreme Court justice a “judicial prostitute” and refer to transgender children as part of “Satan’s plan”

Campaign hard for a Senate candidate; then when he appears likely to lose, say “I might have made a mistake” and later delete your tweets supporting him

Behave so erratically and irresponsibly that senators of your own party resort to saying you’re treated like an adult day-care student to keep you from starting World War III

Spend one of every three days as president visiting at least one of your own properties

Publicly and privately humiliate your own attorney general for recusing himself from an investigation into your campaign

Say nothing when a foreign leader’s bodyguards brutally attack peaceful protesters in the streets of Washington, D.C.

Tweet GIFs of yourself violently attacking the media and your former political opponent

Encourage police officers not to be “too nice” when apprehending criminal suspects

Help draft a misleading statement about the purpose of a meeting between your son, other top campaign aides and representatives of a rival foreign power intent on interfering in the election

Deliver a speech to the Boy Scouts of America that includes mockery of a former president and winking references to sexual orgies, and then lie by claiming that the head of that organization called and told you it was the best speech ever delivered in Boy Scout history

Hang a framed copy of a fake Time magazine cover celebrating your business acumen in your golf clubs around the world

Mock a female television anchor’s appearance, saying . . .

Continue reading.

The above is less than half the list.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 October 2017 at 11:40 am

Simpson Emperor, Coates Rose shaving cream, Feather AS-D1, and Stetson Classic

with 3 comments

I’m still looking for a good photo spot in the new apartment, a search somewhat hindered by the continuing gradual unpacking. Today the kitchen counter is made to serve.

I came across this tube of Coate’s Rose shaving cream and though to give it a good. Unfortunately, as I squeezed the tube, it split lengthways, perhaps damaged in the move. Still there was ample shaving cream available then, and my Simpson Emperor 3 Best made a very nice lather.

My Feather AS-D1 is one of the ones that work well, and three passes left a smooth face, to which I applied a splash of Stetson Classic. A good start to the morning.

Today is Thanksgiving here, so I’ll be thankful that we’ve arrived safely and have unpacked as much as we have.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 October 2017 at 10:43 am

Posted in Shaving

%d bloggers like this: