Lazy Saturday Reads: Media Belatedly Begins Vetting Bernie

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Good Morning!!

Before I get started, I want to thank Delphyne for posting the above photo on Facebook. I just couldn’t resist it. Now to the news of the day.

After his big win in the New Hampshire primary, Bernie Sanders is finally beginning to get some serious vetting from the media. It will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure.

Last night, this story popped up at The New York Times: FEC Tells Sanders Campaign That Some Donors May Have Given Too Much. The FEC found more than 100 “small contributors” had given more than the legal limit of $2,700 to Sanders’ campaign. It’s not a huge deal according to the Times, but to me it seems to be part of a pattern of dishonesty on the part of the Bernie’s campaign.

Here’s a more critical take on this story from the Daily News Bin: FEC launches inquiry into hundreds of “excessive” contributions to Bernie Sanders campaign.

In what the FEC has titled “Excessive, Prohibited, and Impermissible Contributions” to the Bernie Sanders campaign, it lists nearly a thousand contributions from hundreds of donors, some of them repeat offenders. Sanders is accused of failing to provide adequate detail on who the contributors are beyond their names, which campaigns are required to make their best effort to do under federal law. The FEC is also informing Sanders that he “may have to refund the excessive amount” if he can’t adequately explain where all the money came from….

The FEC report also accuses the Bernie Sanders campaign of widespread “incorrectly reported” reimbursements for travel purposes and other costs. Sanders has been warned that if he cannot explain the stunningly long laundry list of violations, “failure to adequately respond by the response date noted above could result in an audit or enforcement action.” Read the full FEC report.

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Then there’s this from the Wall Street Journal: Sanders’s Record, Filings Show Benefits From Super PACs, Links to Wall Street Donors.

In nearly every speech, Bernie Sanders reminds voters that he doesn’t have a super PAC, doesn’t want money from Wall Street and rejects establishment politics.

Yet the Vermont senator has benefited from at least $1.5 million in backing from super PACs and from political groups that don’t have to fully disclose their donors, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission….

He may not have formed one of his own, but Mr. Sanders is getting help from National Nurses United for Patient Protection, a super PAC that gets its money from the nation’s largest nurses’ union, with nearly 185,000 members.

The union doesn’t have to disclose its donors, but a spokesman said the super PAC money comes exclusively from members’ dues. Representatives from the union have frequently joined the senator at events and this week launched a bus tour across South Carolina ahead of the state’s Feb. 27 primary. At an Iowa campaign stop, Mr. Sanders thanked the group for being “one of the sponsors” of his campaign.

In a five-minute video posted online by the nurses union in October, Mr. Sanders said he was “honored” to have the union’s support and highlighted his work on its members’ behalf.

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The rest of the article provides details on Sanders’ fundraising from big donors to the DSCC, which has supported in his House and Senate campaigns.

“He was just like any other senator hobnobbing with lawyers and lobbyists from DC,” said Rebecca Geller, a Washington attorney who attended with her husband, a financial services lobbyist. Ms. Geller, who has donated to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, said Mr. Sanders was happy to take photos with her family. “My kids have fond memories of him hanging out by the hot tub.”

In addition, Sanders’ claims in debates and other forums are getting more fact checking and scrutiny. Here’s one example from The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler: Bernie Sanders’s claim that Hillary Clinton objected to meeting with ‘our enemies.’ This is refeering to the exchange in which Sanders claimed that Clinton said that Obama’s proposal to talk to Iran’s leaders without preconditions was troubling. Kessler:

Some arguments never die. For readers who may not recall a pivotal exchange between then-Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, here’s what Clinton and Sanders are arguing about.

In a debate on July 24, 2007 hosted by CNN, a question came to the candidates from YouTube:

In 1982, Anwar Sadat traveled to Israel, a trip that resulted in a peace agreement that has lasted ever since. In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?

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Obama took the question first and answered emphatically yes:

I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them — which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration — is ridiculous.

Now, Ronald Reagan and Democratic presidents like JFK constantly spoke to Soviet Union at a time when Ronald Reagan called them an evil empire. And the reason is because they understood that we may not trust them and they may pose an extraordinary danger to this country, but we had the obligation to find areas where we can potentially move forward.

And I think that it is a disgrace that we have not spoken to them. We’ve been talking about Iraq — one of the first things that I would do in terms of moving a diplomatic effort in the region forward is to send a signal that we need to talk to Iran and Syria because they’re going to have responsibilities if Iraq collapses.

They have been acting irresponsibly up until this point. But if we tell them that we are not going to be a permanent occupying force, we are in a position to say that they are going to have to carry some weight, in terms of stabilizing the region.

Closeup of ginger cat lying on old book near spectacles on books background

Closeup of ginger cat lying on old book near spectacles on books background

Then Clinton responded, saying that before any such high-level meetings, diplomatic groundwork first would be necessary:

Well, I will not promise to meet with the leaders of these countries during my first year. I will promise a very vigorous diplomatic effort because I think it is not that you promise a meeting at that high a level before you know what the intentions are.

I don’t want to be used for propaganda purposes. I don’t want to make a situation even worse. But I certainly agree that we need to get back to diplomacy, which has been turned into a bad word by this administration.

And I will purse very vigorous diplomacy.

And I will use a lot of high-level presidential envoys to test the waters, to feel the way. But certainly, we’re not going to just have our president meet with Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez and, you know, the president of North Korea, Iran and Syria until we know better what the way forward would be.

As president, Obama took the path that Clinton had recommended.

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During the PBS debate on Thursday night, Sanders tried to explain away his no vote on a comprehensive immigration bill that was sponsored by Ted Kennedy and supported by most Democrats. Matt Yglesias responded at Vox: What Bernie Sanders told Lou Dobbs in 2007 about why he opposed the Kennedy-McCain immigration bill.

In Thursday night’s debate, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders briefly exchanged words over his vote against the 2007 comprehensive immigration reform bill that John McCain and Ted Kennedy wrote and that both Clinton and Barack Obama supported, while Sanders and most Republicans plus some Democrats were opposed. Sanders cited as his motive opposition to the bill’s guest worker provisions, which he said were bad because a Southern Poverty Law Center investigation had likened conditions in existing agricultural guest worker programs to slavery.

It’s interesting to compare this with what he said about the bill at the time on Lou Dobbs’s show. Dobbs, for those who’ve forgotten, was a business news broadcaster who refashioned himself as a somewhat Trump-esque anti-immigration, anti–trade deal populist in the mid-aughts.

If you watch the interview you’ll see that Sanders isn’t particularly interested in working conditions for guest workers and he’s also not narrowly focused on the H2 programs the SPLC report was about — he also talks about H1 programs for skilled workers that, whatever their flaws, are clearly not slavery.

Dobbs is opposed to the whole idea of “amnesty,” which Sanders was not, but Sanders also doesn’t argue with Dobbs about it. Sanders doesn’t really say anything about the costs and benefits to immigrants themselves — whether that’s people who’ve been living illegally in the United States or potential future guest workers — one way or another. His focus is on the idea that “what happens in Congress is to a very significant degree dictated by big-money interests” and that “I don’t know why we need millions of people to be coming into this country as guest workers who will work for lower wages than American workers and drive wages down even lower than they are now.”

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Finally, Sanders got himself in some hot water at the Black citizens’ forum in Minneapolis yesterday. Politico reported on the meeting and Twitter went nuts.

Sanders criticism grows pointed at black community forum

MINNEAPOLIS – A warm, welcoming African-American crowd grew increasingly frustrated with Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday evening, complaining that he’s too scared to talk about specifically black issues.

Sanders was here for “A Community Forum on Black America,” introduced by the local congressman, Rep. Keith Ellison, one of Sanders’ only two endorsers in the House, But unlike many of the packed rallies that have greeted Sanders in other parts of the country, neither the folding chairs nor the bleachers in the gym here at Patrick Henry High School were full….

Questions from a panel and the crowd drilled down on felon voting rights — which Sanders said he strongly supported restoring — but turned to environmental racism and reparations for slavery, with demands for more exact answers about actions the candidate for the Democratic nomination would take if he was elected president.

The tension quickly rose over his 40-minute appearance, with moderator Anthony Newby repeatedly calling for “specific redress.”

“I know you’re scared to say ‘black,’ I know you’re scared to say ‘reparations,’” said Felicia Perry, a local entrepreneur and artist on the stage. “Can’t you please specifically talk about black people?”

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Sanders responded:

“I said ‘black’ 50 times,” he said. “That’s the 51st time.”

But, Sanders said, the issues at hand are more about economics than race.

“It’s not just black,” he said. “It’s Latino. In some rural areas, it is white.”

WTF?! Could this guy be any more tone deaf? Even though he has to know he needs black voters to win Southern primaries, Sanders just can’t break away from his obsession with Wall Street billionaires and income inequality to see that racism is a separate though related issue that affects how people fare in our culture.

You can read about the exchange in a little more detail in this CNN article: Bernie Sanders faces frustrated crowd at race forum in Minneapolis. The story ends with this interesting description of the chaos:

The forum finished inconclusively when activist Clyde Bellecourt commandeered the microphone to talk about issues relating to Native Americans being what he called “completely forgotten” by the federal government.

His statement drew on for several heated and emotional minutes as moderators asked him to get to his question and Bellecourt declared, “If you have to carry me out of here, carry me out of here!”

Sanders rose from his chair, thanked the crowd and scurried offstage.

Sanders simply doesn’t understand racism. As a white person, I can’t claim a deep understanding either, but at least I get that racism is a powerful force keeping Black people down and the problem won’t be solved by breaking up big banks or raising taxes on the wealthy and middle class to pay for free college and single payer health care.

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Sanders’ tunnel vision on the income inequality issue blinds him to the systemic effects of racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice, which interact with economics but cannot be solely explained or remedied by economic policies.

This attitude goes along with Sanders’ odd statement at the debate when he was asked what he would do about systemic racism. From USA Today:

The African-American community lost half of their wealth as a result of the Wall Street collapse, says Sanders. When “you have unbelievable rates of incarceration,” which leaves children without their parents, “clearly we are looking at institutional racism” and an economy in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, he says. Race relations would be better under a Sanders presidency, he says, because he’d create millions of jobs for low-income kids “so they’re not hanging out on street corners.”

How does Bernie expect to pull in Black voters when he claims he would do better on this issue than the first Black American president and when he characterizes Black kids as “hanging out on street corners.” Good grief. Kids hang out on street corners in my middle class town and the even wealthier communities nearby. Kids in cities tend to do that.

Bernie just doesn’t get it, and he doesn’t even seem able to tailor his message to groups whose votes he desperately needs.

What stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a great weekend!


Wednesday: Banjoville, Georgia. A microcosm of Trump Nation.

Good Afternoon

This little section of delight in the North Georgia Mountains…I’ve spoken before of the cross-section of folks who live and breed in the town of Banjoville. Simple kinds of folk, why the sign welcoming people to our county states as much:

 

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I’ll give them the “Scenic Beauty” but as far as the “Friendly People” …that is open for debate.

I’ve noticed the Trump situation has made the bold hateful comments more mainstream. it is acceptable and standard and now common place to find this shit among the facebook pages of the typical Banjoville resident.

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(One of those comments is written by a superintendent of schools…more on that later in the post.)

But there is something more to it than all this hate, which is deep seated in the back mountain town mentality that populates so much of the nation. The Trump Nation. It is a nation that would never support a Cruz or Rubio, because when it comes down to it…they have Latino blood.

There was a tweet I saw yesterday that sums the whole thing up perfectly.

 

Yes, when it all comes down to it, White always wins.

And this is what I see everywhere I go in Banjoville.

A White Right Wing Christian Hate that is prejudice against any and all who is not “one of them.” Living in a town like that is hell. My family has experienced the discrimination first hand many times. To this point I bring you the reason for this post. The Trump Nation embodied in Banjoville, what does this mean for society.

We live in a town where the Sheriff’s Office is so blatant about their total embrace of the practice of Separation of Church and State. This is the painted image that greats you as you walk into the Sheriff’s Office:

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It is a picture by an artist, Beth Sweigard, known for painting fetuses and a sad Jesus…

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….or Jesus at the Jewish Peoples’ Wall…

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When I first saw that Patriotic Jesus poster in the sheriff’s department, I immediately thought about that other spectacular artist…Jon McNaughton.

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Yeah, he is the artist who immortalized Clive Bundy above as some kind of western hero for the nation….

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You want a real laugh, take a look at the gallery of patriotic work here jonmcnaughton. com /patriotic/

I’ve seemed to have gotten carried away there, I need to get back to the Banjoville Sheriff Dept.

Everywhere you look there is proof that the Sheriff is a holy man, even a plaque that states he has been to church more times than any other man alive on the planet. ( I kid you not.)

Tell me that a person who is not a “real” Christian will have a equal chance at justice in that building. (The color of their skin goes without saying…back before the State of Georgia forcibly frightened all the immigrants out of town, the officers made most of their arrest by stalking the Spanish Sunday Mass up at the Catholic Church…and pulling over any car leaving the church.)

How about the fine Doctors in the area? Who proudly display their affiliation in The Oathkeepers…Oh yeah, we even have one who is a leading authority member of the affiliation. How does this affect his service to the public…the entire public. (Well, I guess since he is in private practice that is not a legitimate question, but if he is the only doctor your insurance plan accepts what then?)

Then you have the teachers and administrators at the schools, counselors who are partial to the local Banjoville White Christian. Coaches who are prejudice against players… teachers who will penalize a student if they are the wrong” color or even the wrong Christian faith. (Y’all remember Catholics are a no go as well.) This is not something made up…this really happens and it effects the future lives of students.

This is the view of a Trump Nation from my little Banjoville. The hate and bitterness is nothing new, it is just becoming bolder in its execution.

Now he’s hooked the Christian conservatives: Accept it, Donald Trump’s not fading — even more on the right are buying his snake oil – Salon.com

Donald Trump might actually be able to pull it off. A new, nationwide poll from CNN/ORC shows that Trump’s lead in the Republican polls has grown even stronger going into the Iowa caucus, which kicks off the primary season. He’s reached 41 percent support amongst Republican voters, which is more than double what his closest contender, the even more ridiculous Ted Cruz, has. Even more startlingly, Trump’s supporters seem more assured of their votes than the supporters of any other candidate. It seems Trump might do what seemed to be impossible: Overcome the resistance of party leaders to grab the nomination.

[…]
…things are looking a lot better for Trump than anyone could have predicted. Part of the issue is that his closest contender, Ted Cruz, hasn’t made the progress he clearly thought he would at this late stage.

Mea culpa time. I’ve long thought that Ted Cruzhad a strong chance of knockingTrump out of the race, and that Cruz would either win the nomination or at least winnow it down so that Rubio could sneak up and grab it. In my own defense, the theory was pretty sound. I argued that Christian right voters would move away from go-nowhere candidates like Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson and coalesce behind a single candidate. It seemed that Cruz, who is an even nastier bully than Trump but speaks fluent evangelical-ese in a way that Trump can’t master, was well-positioned to suction up those Christian right voters.

The evangelicals did abandon the smaller candidates but, in a somewhat surprising twist, they flocked to Trump. Cruz’s once robust support amongst evangelicals is plummeting. He now has only 20 percent of the evangelical vote, whereas Trump has 37 percent of their support.

And now Jerry Falwell Jr. is endorsing Trump. This is doubly huge because Cruz used Liberty University, which Falwell is the president of, as the stage to announce his run for presidency. But such is the Trump-momentum that Cruz is getting left behind even by those whose support he thought he could count on.

Trump’s ability to win over evangelical voters is the surest sign yet that his campaign will not collapse as quickly as every predictive model imaginable suggested it should. Prying Christians off Trump should have been easy! He’s been married three times and literally cheated on his first wife in a church. His attempts to pretend he cares about religion have been limp and unconvincing, and yet, his base of support with evangelicals is only getting stronger.

The best explanation for why comes from Adam Lee of Daylight Atheism, who points out that “evangelicalism isn’t especially concerned with beliefs, nor has it ever has been.”

“Whether it’s Prohibition and communism, dancing and divorce, or abortion and gay marriage, evangelicals’ pet causes have changed radically over the decades,” he adds. “The issues themselves have only ever been important as a boundary marker, a way to delineate Us from Them.”

Trump fails comically to convince anyone he’s ever even cracked a Bible, he is the master at the “us vs. them” narrative. It turns out this is actually all the majority of Christian conservatives needed. All that stuff about Jesus and family values was merely window dressing. All that really matters is being told that people like them are better and more worthy than other people, and whoever can do that the most effectively — turns out that’s Donald Trump – will beat out the competition.

The us vs them….no that is not the right way…it is more like I said above, Trump pulls this “he is one of US” or “they are not one of us”… is more like the wording to me. One of Us being the key phrase. Us being only White Caucasians, accepting Jesus as your Savior kind of Christian, Us.

 

Anyway, that is my observations of Trump supporters, for another look, take a gander at this: The Return of the Middle American Radical An intellectual history of Trump supporters.

Trump not only got Jerry Falwell yesterday… Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. endorses Trump – The Washington Post . He also got: Sheriff Joe Arpaio to Endorse Donald Trump in Iowa – First Draft. Political News, Now. – The New York Times and today: Donald Trump wins John Rocker’s endorsement | www.ajc.com

A long read here: How Trump Happened – WSJ.com

However, I think the reason Trump happened is because of the media’s lack of calling Trump out for his racism, sexism, and every other thing the bigoted asshole has done.  Of course the Media isn’t only to blame. I think the corporate powers are a YUUUUGGGEE part of the problem too.

Watch this interview from The Young Turks that touches on the media and corporate sponsors.

Oh, the other points of the interview are very well taken, but y’all get the message here.

Just take a look at the headline from The Washington Examiner: Why can’t Donald Trump handle Megyn Kelly? | Washington Examiner

WTF is that?

Maybe I am being sensitive?

Although the article is not as bad as the headline makes it…

This feud has gotten ridiculous. Republican front-runner and businessman Donald Trump is now threatening to boycott the upcoming GOP debate if host Fox News doesn’t remove Megyn Kelly as a moderator.

I don’t usually like the argument that takes the form of, “if candidate can’t stand up to X, how can they stand up to the Islamic State?” But I do wonder how Trump will be able to handle anyone as president if he can’t take the sort of pointed questions about his weaknesses that originally soured him on Kelly.

It all started last August at the first GOP debate, when Kelly asked Trump about the New York businessman’s comments toward women in the past. The question was one of the most memorable of the debate, and prompted Trump to later claim: “you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes … Blood coming out of her wherever.”

Kelly has recently poked fun at former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Trump, and hosted National Review editor Rich Lowry, whose magazine has come out against the Republican front-runner.

And here we are. This insignificant back and forth has caused Trump, for the fourth time this cycle, to threaten to boycott a debate. Trump said he would boycott two CNN debates if CNN President Jeff Zucker didn’t donate money to charity. He also threatened to pull out of the CNBC debate if the format wasn’t changed (rival Ben Carson made a similar threat as well).

This makes Fox News spokesperson Irena Briganti’s statement all the more relevant: “Donald Trump is just trying to build up the audience for Thursday’s debate, for which we thank him.”

Trump is unlikely to actually boycott the debate and host his own town hall for rival networks, as he has claimed he would do. But if he has no plans to actually do this, his ongoing comments and actions toward Kelly are troubling.

How will Trump handle a hostile press if he is president? We know the press will be more harsh toward a Republican president, and that the press is especially hostile toward Trump, so will he just shut them out? And does Megyn Kelly, on a right-leaning network, really need to be public enemy number one to the Trump campaign?

I realize that this, like everything Trump does, is for attention, but it ultimately brings into question his ability to handle adversity and criticism.

That and imagine his fat sweaty fingers on the button of our nuclear arsenal.

Trump: ‘Obviously’ I Was Joking About Shooting People And Not Losing Votes

“It Was Like a Fascist Rally”: Sikh Protester Ejected From Trump Event Speaks Out

On Cruz and Rubio, Jesus thumping there way to Iowa:

Ted Cruz’s Evangelical Gamble – The New York Times

Rubio presses ‘Judeo-Christian values’ in Iowa | TheHill

Cruz’s Constant References to Jesus Drive Millions to Atheism – The New Yorker

Other links…

Trump Said He Bought Windows From China Because America’s Were Too Expensive – The Daily Beast

The Progressive Policy Donald Trump Just Embraced | ThinkProgress

Donald Trump endorses an idea liberals love: letting Medicare negotiate drug prices – Vox

Noam Chomsky Says GOP Is ‘Literally A Serious Danger To Human Survival’

As Donald Trump and Ted Cruz Soar, G.O.P. Leaders’ Exasperation Grows – The New York Times

Well what do you expect when you have GOP politicians like these:

Maine Gov. LePage: Bring back the guillotine

Racist, bigoted Facebook posts from top schools official can’t be tolerated

Leaked Documents Undermine Official Story Of Flint Water Crisis | ThinkProgress

 

In other news:

Denmark approves controversial refugee bill allowing police to seize asylum seekers’ cash and valuables | Europe | News | The Independent

Is the Oregon Standoff Over Yet?

Ammon And Ryan Bundy Arrested In Oregon; One Militant Dies In Shootout With Law Enforcement | ThinkProgress

After Bundy Arrest, Remaining Militia Says They Will Continue Occupation And Are Prepared To Die | ThinkProgress

Eyewitnesses Give Conflicting Accounts Of How Rancher Was Killed In Standoff

Christie ‘Glad’ That ‘Thin-Skinned’ Trump Skipping Fox News Debate

 

That is all, more updates and links in the comment section below.

This is an open thread y’all….


The Three R’s: Religion, Racism, and Republicans

Klansmen file into an Atlanta church in 1949 to attend Sunday evening services

Klansmen file into an Atlanta church in 1949 to attend Sunday evening services

 Good Thursday Afternoon!!

Christmas is just a week away; and, I’ll be honest, I’ll be glad when it’s all over. Of course there’s still New Year’s to deal with, but then we can get back to “normal,” such as it is. But will life ever feel truly normal to me again?

This morning I was thinking back over the devolution of the Republican Party during my lifetime. The first president I remember was Dwight Eisenhower. He was boring and he led the way for future GOP leaders in bringing religion into the public sphere; he initiated the “national prayer breakfast,” added “under God” to the pledge of allegiance, and “In God We Trust” to our currency. He formed a close relationship with the Rev. Billy Graham, who served as an adviser to Eisenhower’s campaign and his administration. However, he did preside over a healthy economy and improvements in America’s infrastructure.

The next Republican president was Richard Nixon. Nixon was also close to Billy Graham and Graham was a regular in Nixon’s White House. He continued Eisenhower’s prayer breakfast “tradition.” He began the overtly racist “Southern strategy” in order to attract Dixiecrats to switch parties; and thus Nixon began the politics of resentment and hatred of “the other” that dominate the GOP today.

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Gerald Ford was religious, but didn’t try to impose his beliefs on the rest of us, but his Democratic successor Jimmy Carter was a “born again Christian” whose public religiosity may have encouraged Republicans to continue linking politics and religion.

Ronald Reagan was apparently not deeply religious, but he attracted support from the growing religious right groups and often talked publicly about God and Christianity, especially after he was shot in 1981. Once again Billy Graham was a fixture in the White House and Reagan used religion as a political tool.

In 1982, Reagan supported a constitutional amendment to allow voluntary school prayer. A year later he awarded the Rev. Billy Graham the Presidential Medal of Freedom and proclaimed 1983 the “Year of the Bible.” He called on Americans to join him: “Let us take up the challenge to reawaken America’s religious and moral heart, recognizing that a deep and abiding faith in God is the rock upon which this great nation was founded.”

Reagan also used racism, of course. He even announced his run for the presidency with a speech supporting “states rights” in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman were murdered because they were trying to register African American voters in 1964. William Raspberry in the Washington Post in 2004:

It was bitter symbolism for black Americans (though surely not just for black Americans). Countless observers have noted that Reagan took the Republican Party from virtual irrelevance to the ascendancy it now enjoys. The essence of that transformation, we shouldn’t forget, is the party’s successful wooing of the race-exploiting Southern Democrats formerly known as Dixiecrats. And Reagan’s Philadelphia appearance was an important bouquet in that courtship.

I don’t accuse Reagan of racism, though while he served, I did note what seemed to be his indifference to the concerns of black Americans — issues ranging from civil rights enforcement and attacks on “welfare queens” to his refusal to act seriously against the apartheid regime in South Africa. He gets full credit from me for the good things he did — including presiding over the end of international communism. But he also legitimized, by his broad wink at it, racial indifference — and worse.

His political progeny include Trent Lott, who got caught a while back praising the overtly segregationist 1948 presidential candidacy of Strom Thurmond, and, I suspect, many Lott soul mates in the current Republican congressional majority.

Today’s Republican majority in the House and Senate is probably far more racist (as well as right wing “Christian”) than the one Raspberry referred to in 2004.

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George H.W. Bush and his son George W. Bush continued the Republican tradition of race baiting and using right wing fundamentalists–who had by then grown very influential in politics–to get votes.

When George W. Bush was in the White House, I couldn’t imagine this trend could actually get worse. But here we are today in a presidential race in which all of the GOP candidates are campaigning on hate and fear of “the other” and using fundamentalist religious beliefs to fan the flames.

 The leading Republican candidate for president Donald Trump has actually said in a primary debate on national TV that as president he would kill the families of suspected terrorists in order to prevent attacks, and not many media talking heads have expressed shock about it.

Trump wants to round up 12 million undocumented immigrants, put them on buses and drop them off at the Mexican border. He wants to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. and he thinks he can shut down “parts of the internet” to keep potential terrorists from using it.

Another leading candidate, Ted Cruz, said on Tuesday night that as president he would “carpet bomb” any place where ISIS holds territory. Cruz is the favored candidate of fundamentalist “Christians.”

Both Trump’s and Cruz’s proposed actions would constitute war crimes.

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The other candidates are horrible too. For example, Chris Christie has now said twice on national TV that he would shoot down a Russian plane that entered a no-fly zone.

How have we come to this? I can see the progression in my lifetime. What can we do to break the stranglehold of right wing religious extremism and intolerance on the Republican Party? The only thing I can think of is to elect Democrats to the White House, Congress, and State Houses. If we don’t, we’re on the road to fascism.

Interesting Reads for Thursday

A crazy article from the WaPo: ‘Unfriending’ Trump supporters is just another example of how we isolate ourselves online.

Think Progress: Trump Answers Question About Affordable Child Care By Mocking The Questioner.

CNN: Putin praises ‘bright and talented’ Trump.

WaPo: Pentagon chief’s use of personal email will prompt Senate review.

ABC News: Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli Arrested for Securities Fraud.

NYT: Fact Checking Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio on Immigration.

Politifact: Ted Cruz misfires on definition of ‘carpet bombing’ in GOP debate.

ABC News: Carly Fiorina Digs in on Claim That General’s Retirement Was Due to Obama Dispute

Christian Science Monitor: Why are non-Muslim women wearing the hijab?

ABC News: AP Interview: McConnell Suggests New Look at Patriot Act.

NBC News: Criminal Charges to Be Brought Against Enrique Marquez, Ex-Neighbor of San Bernardino Shooters.

Kevin Drum: Strike Two for Pair of New York Times Reporters.

I posted about this guy awhile back. The Cut: Millionaire Cleared of Rape Charge After Claiming He Tripped and His Penis Fell Into Teen.

The Atlantic: Lessons From the Mistrial in the Freddie Gray Case.

What stories are you following today? Or are you just too busy getting ready for the upcoming holidays? Either way, have a terrific Thursday!


Tuesday Reads: Good News and Bad News and Other News

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Good Afternoon!!

There’s good news and bad news today. The bad news is that there’s a Republican debate tonight. The good news is this is the last Republican debate before the primaries begin.

Honestly, I don’t know if I can stand to watch another GOP debate. I’ll probably give it a try, but I don’t know how long I’ll last. I’d watch the MSNBC coverage if Rachel Maddow were anchoring it; but for some reason Chris Matthews is doing it again.

It’s been quiet here as it usually is during the holiday season, so maybe we can use this thread to comment on the debate. If for some reason we get really busy, I’ll put up another thread tonight. Please let me know if you plan to watch the debate, and we’ll just play it by ear.

The main debate will begin at 8:30PM on CNN, and it will be live streamed on CNN’s website. There will be a kids table debate at 6PM with only four participants: Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Lindsay Graham, and George Pataki.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate and Senator Rand Paul speaks during the Heritage Action for America presidential candidate forum in Greenville, South Carolina on September 18, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Keane - RTS1TOL

U.S. Republican presidential candidate and Senator Rand Paul speaks during the Heritage Action for America presidential candidate forum in Greenville, South Carolina on September 18, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Keane – RTS1TOL

Rand Paul should be at the kid’s table; but for some strange reason CNN is letting him appear on the main stage–perhaps because he whined about it or maybe because CNN likes him, who knows. If you didn’t see it last night, I highly recommend watching Rachel Maddow’s report on the Rand Paul story.

Some stories about what could happen in tonight’s circus/horror show:

MSNBC: Five Storylines to Watch During Tonight’s GOP Debate.

Vox: Republican debate 2015 live stream: time, TV schedule, how to watch online.

CNN: Who will hold the winning hand at Vegas GOP debate? 7 things to watch.

NPR: Tonight’s GOP Debate: Cruz On The Rise As Terrorism Becomes Central Focus.

Ed Kilgore at NY Magazine: Can CNN Get the Cage Match It Wants in GOP Debate?

Here’s another strange story leading up to the debate in Las Vegas tonight. A very wealthy person has purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and he wants to remain anonymous–even to the paper’s employees. Now who could this person be. Someone should ask Sheldon Adelson about it.

Mother Jones reports: Did a Republican Megadonor Just Secretly Buy Nevada’s Biggest Newspaper?

The sale has created a controversy because, while there is no rule requiring a newspaper to disclose its owners, the Journal-Review will be, by far, the largest newspaper in America whose owners are secret. The intrigue is not just journalistic: For a well-heeled person interested in influencing an election, owning the largest paper in the state that in a few short months will hold one of the first nominating events of the primary season (third for Democrats and fourth for Republicans) is a good place to start.

The news broke on Friday, when the paper’s management told employees that the publication, which had been owned by a publicly traded chain of newspapers called New Media Investment Group, had been sold for $140 million. The new owners? An LLC based in Delaware called News + Media Capital Group LLC. The only publicly available information on News + Media Capital Group LLC is that it was founded two months ago in Delaware, and it used a corporate agent that hides any identifying information.

Sheldon Adelson, chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp., speaks during an interview in Hong Kong, China, on Monday, Nov. 30, 2009. Jerome Favre/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sheldon Adelson, chairman of Las Vegas Sands Corp., speaks during an interview in Hong Kong, China, on Monday, Nov. 30, 2009. Jerome Favre/Bloomberg via Getty Images

WTF?!

TheReview-Journal’s management introduced a man named Michael Schroeder as the manager of News + Media Capital Group LLC. Schroeder has been the publisher of a very small chain of newspapers in Connecticut and declined to tell theReview-Journal who the new bosses were, other than to say they were “undisclosed financial backers with expertise in the media industry,” a description that does little to narrow down the field. Another detail that leaked from the paper’s management was that there are multiple owners, at least some of whom are based in Las Vegas. The description is odd, since most individuals who have invested in news organizations previously would be aware that refusing to say who owned the paper would do nothing but stir controversy, especially within the paper’s own staff.

The paper’s management also seemed almost determined to stoke controversy. According to the Huffington Post, a version of the story detailing the paper’s sale went to press with a quote that suggested Schroeder was dismissive of employee concerns about the new ownership.

“They want you to focus on your jobs…don’t worry about who they are,” Schroeder allegedly said at a meeting with employees. But the quote was pulled, as were other critical comments, before a new version of the article was printed.

I guess we’ll find out who it is eventually; but Adelson seems to be the most likely candidate, since he lives in Nevada.

A younger Donald Trump with his father Fred Trump

A younger Donald Trump with his father Fred Trump

I know I’ve been writing way too much about Donald Trump lately, but I just had to share something that Dakinikat told me about yesterday. These are old links that I somehow missed when I wasn’t taking Trump seriously early on. Apologies if someone has posted these at Sky Dancing previously.

It looks very much like Donald Trump’s father was a member of the Ku Klux Klan as a young man. From Boing Boing: 1927 news report: Donald Trump’s dad arrested in KKK brawl with cops.

According to a New York Times article published in June 1927, a man with the name and address of Donald Trump’s father was arraigned after Klan members attacked cops in Queens, N.Y.

In an article subtitled “Klan assails policeman”, Fred Trump is named in among those taken in during a late May “battle” in which “1,000 Klansmen and 100 policemen staged a free-for-all.” At least two officers were hurt during the event, after which the Klan’s activities were denounced by the city’s Police Commissioner, Joseph A. Warren.

“The Klan not only wore gowns, but had hoods over their faces almost completely hiding their identity,” Warren was quoted as saying in the article, which goes on to identify seven men “arrested in the near-riot of the parade.”

Named alongside Trump are John E Kapp and John Marcy (charged with felonious assault in the attack on Patrolman William O’Neill and Sgt. William Lockyear), Fred Lyons, Thomas Caroll, Thomas Erwin, and Harry J Free. They were arraigned in Jamaica, N.Y. All seven were represented by the same lawyers, according to the article.

The final entry on the list reads: “Fred Trump of 175-24 Devonshire Road, Jamaica, was discharged.”

In 1927, Donald Trump’s father would have been 21 years old, and not yet a well-known figure. Multiple sources report his residence at the time—and throughout his life—at the same address.

Later on in his life, the elder Trump was sued for refusing to rent or sell his properties to African Americans.

A 1979 article, published by Village Voice, reported ona civil rights suitthat alleged that the Trumps refused to rent to black home-seekers, and quotes a rental agent who said Fred Trump instructed him not to rent to blacks and to encourage existing black tenants to leave. The case was settled in a 1975 consent degree described as “one of the most far-reaching ever negotiated,” but the Justice Department subsequently complained that continuing “racially discriminatory conduct by Trump agents has occurred with such frequency that it has created a substantial impediment to the full enjoyment of equal opportunity.”

If Donald Trump was raised in a home where racism was acceptable, that could explain some of his behavior today. It’s certainly interesting to know about this, and I regret that I didn’t read this article when it first appeared in September. You might want to read this piece at the Academe blog as well: Does It Matter if Donald Trump’s Father Was a Member of the Ku Klux Klan?

Trump rally las vegas

Naturally the Trump rally in Las Vegas last night produced more shocking news. McKay Coppins reports at Buzzfeed: Trump Campaign Rally Erupts In Chaos And Ugly Confrontation.

The Republican frontrunner had invited a supporter up to the stage to recount how his son was killed by an undocumented immigrant. Midway though the story, a pair of protesters interrupted.

“That’s why we need gun control!” one called out from the sea of Trump die-hards in the Westgate Resort and Casino ballroom.

A zealous chorus of boos filled the room, while the two protesters brandished a homemade poster (“NO HATE. YOU’RE FIRED.”) and began shouting over the din….

By the time security swooped in, several amped-up Trump supporters had already encircled the protesters — booing, and chanting, and slowly closing in — while a crush of smartphone-wielding media scrambled to capture footage of the clash. The guards managed to remove one protester, but the other resisted, stiffening his limbs and screaming about the First Amendment as they tried to haul him toward the exits. When he toppled to the floor, a horde of rallygoers assembled to hurl insults and threats at him.

“Light the motherfucker on fire!” one Trump supporter yelled….

One after another, protesters were forcibly dragged from the ballroom — limbs flailing, torsos twisting in resistance — while wild-eyed Trump supporters spewed abuse and calls to violence.

“Kick his ass!” yelled one.

“Shoot him!” shouted another.

Unreal.

Cruz
Trump’s main competitor tonight should be Ted Cruz. From CBS News: Why Ted Cruz might be a threat to Donald Trump.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has surpassed businessman Donald Trump in three recent Iowa polls of likely Republican Iowa caucus-goers. Trump has taken notice, and has begun to cast doubt on Cruz’s fitness for the presidency, calling Cruz a “bit of a maniac” on Fox News Sunday, for instance. The two have come a long way sincecampaigning together against the nuclear deal a few months ago, but that was back before Cruz was polling so well in Iowa.

Trump doesn’t like anyone who challenges his lead in the polls – he compared neurosurgeon Ben Carson to a child molester with a pathological disease when Carson’s popularity began rising among Iowans. But while Carson may be seeing his moment pass, Cruz is peaking as voters begin to settle on their favorite candidates, and his mastery of the issues reassures many evangelical voters who would otherwise like Carson.

Read the rest to learn the reasons author Rebecca Kaplan believes Cruz could beat Trump. Frankly, I think Cruz is actually the scarier of the two. A couple more articles on Cruz:

WaPo Wonkblog: A guide to what Ted Cruz really believes.

NBC News: GOP Latinos Slam Ted Cruz and Self-Deportation Plan On Eve of Debate.

So . . . will you be watching the clown show tonight? What stories are you following?


Thursday Reads: I Don’t Belong in This World

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Good Morning!!

I hardly know where to begin today. Following the news these days is like going through the looking glass into an alternate reality.

So often in my life I’ve felt that I don’t belong in this world. I have that feeling today. There are so many people and events that I just don’t understand.

I’ll begin with yesterday’s Supreme Court arguments in an important case about affirmative action. Yesterday in a comment, Dakinikat posted this article from Mother Jones: Justice Scalia Suggests Blacks Belong at “Slower” Colleges.

Scalia’s comments came during arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas, a case over whether the university’s use of race in a sliver of its admissions decisions is constitutional. The University of Texas-Austin is being challenged over its use of race in admissions decisions for about 25 percent of its freshman class. About 75 percent of the students at UT-Austin are admitted through what’s known as the Top Ten Percent program, in which any student graduating within the top 10 percent of his or her class is guaranteed admission, regardless of race. The other 25 percent are admitted via a “holistic” process that takes race, and other factors, into account. It’s the “holistic” program that Abigail Fisher—who was denied admission for the university in 2008—is challenging.

The University of Texas has determined that if it excluded race as a factor, that remaining 25 percent would be almost entirely white. During the oral arguments, former US Solicitor General Greg Garre, who is representing the university, was explaining this to the justices. At that point, Scalia jumped in, questioning whether increasing the number of African Americans at the flagship university in Austin was in the black students’ best interests. He said:

There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well. One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.

He went on to say, “I’m just not impressed by the fact the University of Texas may have fewer [blacks]. Maybe it ought to have fewer. I don’t think it stands to reason that it’s a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible.”

Boys-reading-in-the-snow-007

This morning some writers are claiming that Scalia’s comments weren’t racist because he was referring to studies by respected researchers and not expressing his personal opinion.

Alex Griswold at Mediaite: Media Jumps The Gun, Attacks Scalia For Perfectly Reasonable Question.

First of all, it’s worth noting that oral arguments are not an avenue for justices to share their views on the case at hand; it’s an opportunity to suss out any holes in the arguments of both parties. To that end, justices often advance arguments and theories they do not necessarily hold….

As it happens, Scalia was pretty accuratelyciting a brief filed by two members of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. They point to a study showing that black scientists are much more likely to have graduated from historically black colleges, even though those schools are less academically stringent than elite universities:

With only twenty percent of total black enrollment, these schools were producing forty percent of the black students graduating with natural science degrees, according to the National Science Foundation. Those same students were frequently going on to earn Ph.D.s from non-HBCUs. The National Science Foundation reported, for example, that thirty-six percent of the blacks who earned an engineering doctorate between 1986 and 1988 received their undergraduate degree from an HBCU.

Why have HBCUs been so successful? [The authors] believed that unlike at mainstream institutions, African-American students at HBCUs were not grouped at the bottom of the class. Roughly half were in the top half of the class.

Scalia isn’t citing some crackpot theory that only these two civil rights officers are worried about, by the way. The“mismatch effect” is a pretty common critique of affirmative action in academia that’s based on pretty hard data. The most prominent book on the subject wasn’t written by cranks, it was written by UCLA and Stanford law professors.

Reading by the fireplace. Photo by Caroline Jensen.

Reading by the fireplace. Photo by Caroline Jensen.

OK, but Scalia did express a personal opinion at the end of his remarks. Furthermore, these studies apparently do not address the issue of whether diversity in the student bodies and faculty at “elite” universities is a good thing for the college experience and for society as a whole.

James Warren also defended Scalia’s remarks at Poynter: Media muddle: Was Scalia being racist?

And then there’s the question of why so many Americans love their guns more than life itself–or at least the lives of their children and fellow citizens. Many of these people are the same ones who are constantly claiming they are “pro-life.” Someone please explain to me why this makes any sense.

The Christian Science Monitor: Why are gun rights activists planning a fake mass shooting?

Two gun rights groups in Texas have planned a mock mass shooting event on Saturday in order to raise awareness about their view of the relationship between gun rights and mass shooting casualties. They believe that by increasing open carry rights, mass shootings can be reduced or even prevented.

Gun control advocates have been vocal about their desire to enact new restrictions on ownership of certain kinds of guns in the wake of two mass shootings in Colorado Springs, Colo., and San Bernardino, Calif., in less than a week. The groups hosting the mock shooting event say that it will demonstrate how the intervention of responsible gun owners can reduce the number of lives lost in a mass shooting scenario.

The two groups, Come and Take it Texas and Dontcomply.com, had originally planned to hold their event at the University of Texas but later moved the event off campus after meeting with university officials.

Sorry, but I have no clue how this exercise could relate to an actual mass shooting event.

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And what about the phenomenon of Donald Trump? Why does he think it’s useful to fan the flames of racism, nativism, and Islamophobia and in the process increasing the visibility of hate groups and encouraging violent attacks on minority groups in the U.S.?

Politico: White supremacist groups see Trump bump.

The Ku Klux Klan is using Donald Trump as a talking point in its outreach efforts. Stormfront, the most prominent American white supremacist website, is upgrading its servers in part to cope with a Trump traffic spike. And former Louisiana Rep. David Duke reports that the businessman has given more Americans cover to speak out loud about white nationalism than at any time since his own political campaigns in the 1990s.

As hate group monitors at the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League warn that Trump’s rhetoric is conducive to anti-Muslim violence, white nationalist leaders are capitalizing on his candidacy to invigorate and expand their movement.

“Demoralization has been the biggest enemy and Trump is changing all that,” said Stormfront founder Don Black, who reports additional listeners and call volume to his phone-in radio show, in addition to the site’s traffic bump. Black predicts that the white nationalist forces set in motion by Trump will be a legacy that outlives the businessman’s political career. “He’s certainly creating a movement that will continue independently of him even if he does fold at some point.”

Reading by the fire, Edward Lamson Henry.

Reading by the fire, Edward Lamson Henry.

Are Trump’s statements actually likely to energize hateful individuals to resort to violence?

According to experts at the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center who monitor hate groups and anti-Muslim sentiment, Trump’s call on Monday to halt the entrance of Muslims to the United States is driving online chatter among white supremacists and is likely to inspire violence against Muslims.

“When well-known public figures make these kind of statements in the public square, they are taken as a permission-giving by criminal elements who go out and act on their words.” said Mark Potok of the SPLC. “Is it energizing the groups? Yeah. They’re thrilled.”

Marilyn Mayo, co-director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, said Trump’s proposal this week to halt the entrance of Muslims into the United States is only the latest statement to inject vigor into the racist fringe of American politics. “Since the beginning of Donald Trump’s candidacy, we’ve definitely seen that a segment of the white supremacist movement, from racist intellectuals to neo-Nazis have been energized,” she said.

Check out this piece by Steve Benen: Trump spokesperson: ‘So what? They’re Muslim.’

Katrina Pierson, a spokesperson for Donald Trump’s campaign, argued this morning on CNN that her boss’ proposed Muslim ban has merit because “never in United States history have we allowed insurgents to come across these borders.” Reminded that Trump’s policy would block lots of peaceful people who have nothing to do with violence, the spokesperson was unmoved.
“So what?” Pierson replied. “They’re Muslim.”
reading-by-the-fire
How are voters responding to Trump’s hate speech against Muslims?
As for public opinion, it’s too soon to gauge polling reactions, but we already have a sense of Republican voters’ general attitudes on the subject.
Public Policy Polling published results yesterday on GOP voters’ attitudes in North Carolina. Among the findings:
* 48% of North Carolina Republicans endorse the idea of a national database of Muslims.
* 42% of North Carolina Republicans believed thousands of Middle Easterners cheered in New Jersey on 9/11.
* 35% of North Carolina Republicans support shutting down American mosques.
* 32% of North Carolina Republicans believe practicing Islam in the United States should be illegal.

WinterTan

We are certainly seeing plenty of attacks on Muslims around the country. On Tuesday I posted a story about someone leaving a pig’s head at a mosque in Philadelphia. Today, I saw this on Raw Story: Texans begin nightly smashing windows of Muslim family only six weeks after they move in.

A Muslim family in Plano, Texas fear that they may have been targeted with a hate crime after rocks smashed through their windows at least two times in the last week.

The family told KTVT that they moved to Plano six weeks ago, and that they believe that the people throwing the rocks may be sending a message about their religion.

Windows in the home have been smashed twice in the last two days. At their request, the names of the family members were not being released.

Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) spokesperson Alia Salem explained to KTVT that there had been a spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes in recent weeks.

“Right now, we’re getting multiple hate crime reports every single day,” Salem said.

Why? This is not the America I want to live in. I’d rather escape into a book, but somehow I feel compelled to stay aware of what is happening.

What stories are you following today?


Friday Reads: How do you solve a problem like The Donald?

The Republican Party is trying to rein in Donald Trump after his remarks saying that many Mexican immigrants are rapists and criminals. They don't want anyone to think the GOP is a racist party, even though history, and the fact that Trump is now running second in the polls, indicate otherwise.

It’s the Friday after Thanksgiving and hopefully, you’re able to rest and relax!

It’s the official start of Crass Consumerism Season so the throngs of the junk-driven are out buying cheap worthless stuff today that will undoubtedly fill up landfills some time next year.

There are many things about US Society that are downright shameful. Our history of slavery, mass genocide of indigenous peoples, destruction of old growth forests, treatment of ethnic and religious minorities and women just are parts of the darkest parts of our history that we cannot deny and should not forget. Today we seem doomed to repeat bad behavior.

We live in a society where police mercilessly attack and kill unarmed citizens and the leading Republican Candidate stands before an enthralled audience making fun of disabled Americans and arguing that deeply harmed minority citizens get what they have coming to them. Meanwhile, they’ll spend this weekend being thankful for Murica! and exercising their right to trample others into the ground for the chance of getting a cheap shiny object.  Some will probably be toting guns in full view because Murica! too.

And yet, many of us persevere in the basic values that established our country’s form of governance.  That would be things like rule of law which is established by the people’s representatives, the nonestablishment of a government supported and enforced religion, and the rights of all of our citizens to life, liberty, justice and the pursuit of happiness. These are our ongoing presents to ourselves and to humankind even though we tend to get lost in a mountain of shiny objects.

Why do we continue to bring out both the worst and the best of humanity?

One of the most horrifying thing about the cold-blooded shooting of LaQuan McDonald in Chicago last year is that it took a good-hearted, fair-minded public servant whistle blower to bring this atrocity of justice to the attention of the courts and the public.  We could not catch nor fact check–let alone hold accountable–public servants without camera technology, cell phones, and the internet. Now, there is a call that cameras be omnipresent.   It has always been their word against ours and they win because law and order Murica!.  Believe me, I know this intimately. The police intimidate witnesses and manufacture evidence.  The system believes them. But now, we have cameras and they have cameras.  We are a nation of Big Brothers.

In other words, it took a highly non-standard series of events—a whistleblower and many lawsuits—for Chicagoans to learn of, and then get to see, the incident. (As recently as November 13, Rahm Emanuel, the city’s mayor, refused to put a hard date on the video’s release.) If a similar incident were to happen, and it was captured on a body cam, what would it take to make it public—another whistleblower?

It’s more than an academic question. The city of Chicago will soon spend $1 million in federal funds to purchase body cameras for its force. As I wrote last December, the campaign which got dashboard cameras installed in most American police cars last decade looks a lot like the one that currently seeks to get body cameras placed on most American police. Then, as now, a coalition of local chiefs and anti-police-violence activists rallied to support the technology. Then, as now, millions in federal funding soon followed.

But then, the story of police dash cams ground to a halt. There has never been a widespread study of whether dash cams reduced racial profiling or police abuse, though some smaller studies have found they they did not. (It’s highly likely that body-worn cameras will be better studied.) And as various cities limited access to dash-cam footage, it became difficult for citizens and activists to obtain video.

Will the story be the same with body cameras?

Similarly, Donald Trump has been caught on camera saying facist, outrageous, bigoted, and hateful things about people. He’s definitely one of those cheap, shiny objects chased by those easily distracted by cheap shiny objects.  His latest attack included a mimicking the illness and related handicap of a NYT donald-trump-john-mccain-comments-cartoon-colereporter whose only crime was providing evidence that he’s a big fat liar. This too was captured on camera and the evidence of his denial stands debunked by fact-checking and documentation also.  However, the press follows leading presidential contenders and documents their every move and word. Have we arrived at the point where we have to similarly ensure that every elected official and public servant in a position of power is similarly hounded?  Are most of our officials so corruptible that they can’t be trusted to freely move with out a public eye on them as suggested by Orwell in 1984?  Think what it took to capture David Vitter’s calls to the DC Madam from the floor of the Senate or Anthony Weiner’s dick pix?  Do we have to continually babysit them with cameras to ensure they don’t tap their toes in public restrooms, harass teenage pages,  and threaten reporters with bodily harm?

A day after he was widely rebuked for mocking a reporter with a physical disability, business mogul and reality TV star Donald Trump on Thursday denied that he had done so and accused the reporter of “using his disability to grandstand.”

Trump also demanded an apology from the New York Times, the reporter’s employer, which earlier in the week issued a statement condemning Trump for ridiculing “the appearance of one of our reporters.”

The incident occurred Tuesday at a rally in South Carolina, as Trump was defending his recent claim that he had witnessed thousands of Muslims cheering in New Jersey on Sept. 11, 2001, as the World Trade Center towers collapsed. On stage, Trump berated Times investigative reporter Serge Kovaleski for his recent recollection of an article he wrote a few days after the attacks, which Trump has been citing to defend his claim.

Trump appeared to mock Kovaleski’s physical condition; the reporter has arthrogryposis, which visibly limits flexibility in his arms.

“Now, the poor guy — you’ve got to see this guy, ‘Ah, I don’t know what I said! I don’t remember!’ ” Trump said as he jerked his arms in front of his body.

Trump’s assertions about Muslims celebrating in 2001 have been fact-checked and discredited by law enforcement and government officials who were in New Jersey in the days and weeks after the terrorist attacks.

Trump has defended his recollections by citing a 2001 article by Kovaleski, who worked for The Washington Post at the time and wrote that “authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.”

Those allegations were never corroborated but have persisted in online rumors in the 14 years since the attacks. In an interview on CNN this week, Kovaleski said he did not recall “anyone saying there were thousands, or even hundreds, of people celebrating.”

071115_TrumpForecast_COLORMy friend and fellow Louisiana Blogger Lamar White Jr. does a great job of tearing into The Donald’s excuse.

He launched his campaign by claiming the majority of undocumented immigrants from Mexico were rapists and drug dealers sent to the United States by the Mexican government. He believes it’s possible that Barack Obama forged his own birth certificate and lied about the identity of his own mother in order to eventually run for president (note: The only way Obama would not be eligible for office is if his mother wasn’t who he said she was; it doesn’t matter where he was born). He said that an American prisoner of war who spent five and a half years being tortured and has spent the rest of his life in public service was not a “war hero.” He suggested that Megyn Kelly of Fox News was critical of him at a debate because she was on her period. He thinks the United States should consider building a database of all Muslims in the country and an enormous wall on our border with Mexico. Apparently, he is the only person in the world who saw footage of “thousands and thousands” of Muslims in Jersey City, New Jersey cheering on the streets as the Twin Towers collapsed on September 11, 2001.

Amazingly, sadly, pathetically, none of this has made a dent in Donald Trump’s xenophobic, fascistic, and bigoted campaign to become the next President of the United States. But on Tuesday, at a rally in South Carolina, he unwittingly hit the detonate button on his campaign. This time, finally, Donald Trump can run but he can’t hide.

This time, he picked on the wrong person.

It’s funny, but several things converged to get me to the title of the post today.  The first was thinking how do we get rid of this man?  How far is too far?  The second, was hearing a friend saying she was ashamed of that our country had so many people that could support him.  What kind of person does that?  The perfect storm happened when I’d already found the title, starting writing, and then up popped an update on Memorandum with this article in the Washington MonthlyHow Do You Solve a Problem Like Trump-Mania?.  Nancy LeTourneau and I must be seeking guidance from the same greater universal vibe.trump-crazy-john-cole-the-scranton-times-tribune

 When Republicans lost that race to Barack Obama, they tapped into all the energy Palin had stirred up in their base in an attempt to delegitimize the election and fuel their obstruction. Those are the same flames Donald Trump is exploiting today.

Greg Sargent expressed his skepticism that any of the attacks currently being planned or implemented against Trump will have an effect on his supporters. To demonstrate how right he is about that, take a look at this post one of them wroterecently. Obviously the writer has heard about the reports that some members of theGOP establishment are planning to launch a coordinated attack against Trump.

You truly Mr. GOP whatever, underestimated the voter here. In voter, I am speaking of the TRUMP VOTER . The one who knows the games, the drills, and will never vote for any other GOP candidate no matter what you do. I, myself will vote for Micky Mouse before I vote for any other than Trump!

You have just ruined the club you call a party. You are a private entity and it is now obvious what you all do. So puppet controllers for the puppet masters. Go to ….your elections on your own. I am done with you and America wants Trump and we will vote for Donald Trump either third party or on your lousy ticket. You, however, are done. Broken, and over. You have had your last party, enjoy it!Her commenters obviously agree. Here’s just the first one:

I knew the GOP wasn’t to be trusted, they hate Trump, they can’t control him because he is his own man. I know I am not the only one that will vote for him and no one else, whether he runs GOP or 3rd Party. He has the vision, the intelligence and the guts to do what is right for America and its people, he owes no one and he will make the tough decisions. He’s not interested in being PC he’s interested in saving this Nation. The GOP should be ashamed, they should be backing Trump all the way, but that would be against everything they believe in….their own self interests. Go Trump will be heard loud and clear across the land and this will backfire on you establishment GOP’rs!!!!!Nothing anyone says about Trump is going to change these people’s mind. Attacks on him only reinforce what they already believe – which is that the Republican Party has abandoned them and is terminally broken. The Grand Old Party created an insurgency that is now turning on them. That’s what Trump-mania is coming down to.

donald-trump-monster-john-darkow-columbia-daily-tribune-missouriI was looking around for similar articles and came up with this analysis by Molly Ball writing at The Atlantic.

“I have got my mind made up, pretty much so,” says Michael Barnhill, a 67-year-old factory supervisor with a leathery complexion and yellow teeth. “The fact is, politicians have not done anything for our country in a lot of years.”

These people are not confused. They are sticking with Trump, the only candidate who gets it, who is man enough to show the enemy who’s boss.

Barnhill is wearing a button he just bought from a vender outside the convention center. It says “TRUMP 2016: FINALLY SOMEONE WITH BALLS.”

They seem so nice, your friends and neighbors. Your fellow Americans.

“In today’s time, if I’m a white person who’s proud to be white, I’m a racist,” says 44-year-old Kevin Stubbs, a land surveyor who shared his Marlboro Reds with an African American T-shirt vender on the way in. “Yet a minority can say that.”

“I do not feel safe,” says his fiancee, Loree Ballenberger, 42. “People are coming in across the border, and we have no idea where they are coming from.” She recently called her congressman to urge him to vote for a bill limiting Syrian refugees.

“I remember seeing Muslims around the world celebrating after 9/11,” says Chip Matthews, a 63-year-old retired carpentry teacher in glasses with tinted lenses. So what if it was the Mideast and not New Jersey? “The basic point, I think, is true,” he says.

“I look at the pictures of those refugees and they all look like able-bodied young men, 18 to 30 years old,” says his wife, Patrice Matthews, a 62-year-old retired school-district worker. Matthews doesn’t see why we have to be the ones to help these people. “It’s their country—they need to take it back,” she says.

I hear versions of the point about able-bodied young men from five different people. I hear, over and over again, that illegal immigration is the biggest problem we face. Almost everyone says their second-choice candidate is Ted Cruz, the senator from Texas; many express a wish that he and Trump would run on the same ticket.

Barnhill, the man with the “balls” button, says, “Like he says, people have got to abide by the law. And unfortunately, a lot of minorities don’t.”

The deal is that it really does take balls to to tap your foot in a stall in a Minneapolis Airport to signal you’re up for sex, or post a profile on Tinder when you’re a values politician with a wife and family at home, or

Audience members listen as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop at the Burlington Memorial Auditorium, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Burlington, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Audience members listen as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop at the Burlington Memorial Auditorium, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Burlington, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

sext out a dick pick.  It takes balls to call the DC madam during a Senate vote from the floor of the US Senate.  It certainly takes balls to send a bunch of aides off to steal papers from some one’s therapist or the office of the other party who opposes you. It takes balls to send investigators to spy on your political enemies and stalk a private blogger whose only sin was to interview one of your hookers.  It takes balls to sexually harass teen pages and to suppress the findings of a police report that shows the cold blooded murder of citizen until after your re-election.

Most of our elected officials have plenty of that.

What’s the difference between that and the false bravado of The Donald whose exploits are basically that of a trust fund bully well versed in prep school mean?

Well, that appears to be the appeal bigotry. This is what really separates the ballsy from the fascist. That is also why we now see the move to remove coming from the Republicans themselves. The Donald’s brand is exposing the underlying bigotry of conservatism and the game they play with their base.  It’s okay to play footsy, but we can’t have any cameras or it becomes as obvious as the Donald mimicking the hands of a man with a chronic muscle ailment.

Many say the populist crazy talk is typical of the White House primaries, but Republican frontrunner Donald Trump’s increasingly incendiary remarks are leading some conservatives to brand him a “fascist” and party rivals to ramp up attacks against him.

Most spectacularly, the real estate tycoon recently said he would support registering Muslims in a database, and insisted — despite lacking any evidence — he saw Arabs in New Jersey cheer when the Twin Towers fell on 9/11.

His stance has become so belligerent that voices are asking, even inside his party, whether he is committed to democratic values.

Republican experts are warning that Trump could do lasting damage to the GOP, and that his nomination in the party primaries would essentially hand the presidency to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

Several campaign teams in the primary race now appear to be coalescing around the need to oppose the celebrity billionaire’s candidacy.

Establishment conservatives even took the unfathomable step of using the F-word against a member of their own party.

“Trump is a fascist. And that’s not a term I use loosely or often. But he’s earned it,” Max Boot, a military historian and foreign policy advisor to Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio, posted on Twitter.

“Forced federal registration of US citizens, based on religious identity, is fascism. Period,” added John Noonan, a national security advisor to former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

In its Tuesday editorial the New York Times said the past week of the campaign had been “dominated by Donald Trump’s racist lies.”

The Seattle Times used similarly strong language in a Wednesday editorial that denounced Trump’s “button-pushing lie after button-pushing lie.”

“Trump’s campaign message reflects a kind of creeping fascism,” the paper said. “It needs to be rejected.”

151019-trump-crowd-2148_01ca270a00c25d158966a41758d228f5.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000Frankly, I think if you dress this shit up and code words–like Ronald Reagan announcing his presidency while hinting that he’ll go after ‘welfare queens’ by carefully choosing the location of the announcement–you’ll do just fine.  The deal is that you can’t get caught.  The problem is that the world of the internet, cameras, and citizen journalists make this all very difficult.

The problem is this.  When do we see that people like Trump and officers that shoot unarmed black men are not really outliers in US society.  There’s a bunch of them out there and they do find refuge in the Republican party and the nation’s press who portrays white, male, christian terrorists as “lone wolves” or dismisses the hard bigotry of a preacher politicians like Huckabee or Santorum simply because they don’t have the money to go far enough?

When do look at ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves why we tolerate this craziness?  Why do we insist that all lives matter instead of recognizing the institutional murder of unarmed black citizens?  Why do we shrug when Christians announce their persecuted then go after planned parenthood on religious grounds all while screaming Muslims want unAmerican sharia law?  We’re a society who likes shiny things and we’re willing to trample a kid to get at a vegetable steamer all in the name of a holiday supposedly for the prince of peace.

Riddle me how so many of us can be that bigoted and that dumb and we can solve a problem like the Donald and the accompanying Trump mania some day.  Yeah, what exactly do we do with stupid white people?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: The Adulting Blues

adultingGood Morning!

Well, today’s the kind’ve day that makes me want to hide under the covers and have my mother do all my laundry and cooking. Well, actually my Dad used to do all the cooking but you know what I mean.  It’s been like that for at least a few days as my car’s battery gave out in a very inconvenient location on Thursday night and my bills are bigger than my latest paycheck.  A lot of my ennui and accompanying stress has to do with the uberhype of the 10 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina which for a lot of us is an ongoing process of things becoming more undone than they were before.  

Then, there’s just the constant barrage of news–none of which is particularly good–which includes ISIS destroying an ancient wonder. You know what an armchair archaeology buff I am. It’s just so easy to deal with dead civilizations rather than live ones. Trump continues to belittle any one in his path, and every one in the Republican primary is unleashing misogyny and racism. I’m going to focus on the racism today because I think both BB and JJ have given the current misogyny binge complete justice.

My friend Peter has actually written exactly what I’m feeling on this dreadful week where they’re actually pulling out parades and doing “resilience tours” to hype the city and its survival.  Like I said, we may have survived Katrina, but I still have my doubts about our surviving the hipsters, the gentrification, and our elected overseers who have forced us to privatize things that weren’t working before but now are worse and to capitalize on things that turn us into a Disaster Minstrel Show. Again, this is not my writing but Peter’s but I could’ve written it word for word except I obviously don’t have his wife!

I am dreading the influx of disaster tourists who will surely be showing up in town this week. Some of them will be sincerely motivated and others will be of the “I volunteered once with Habitat for Humanity after Katrina so I know what it was like” variety. No, you don’t. You don’t know what it’s like to be barred from your home for 6 weeks and have to sneak in like Dr. A and I did. You don’t know what it’s like to have a bad case of survivor’s guilt because you didn’t fare as badly as other people in town. You don’t know what it’s like to have to re-tell your “Katrina story” over and over again. You don’t know what it’s like to be having dinner and have do-gooders burst in to save your pets because you didn’t, or couldn’t, wash the marks off your front door. Actually, neither do I but it happened to some friends of mine. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase putting on the dog…

The aftermath of the storm was a very painful period in the lives of New Orleanians. We’ve lived it day-in and day-out for 10 years at varying levels of intensity. That’s why I’m not enthusiastic about rehashing those days regardless of whether it’s done by resilience tour types or the krewe of “we’ve gone to hell in a designer handbag.” I wish they’d all piss off and leave me alone. I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Yes. I feel that way. Piss off and leave me alone.  Unfortunately, my neighborhood has turned into the mini-Quarter and I can’t even walk the dog around the block or have a beer without either bumping into seven bridesmaids giggling, six film crews taping, and five fucking Air BnB parasites.

This headline from WAPO actually made me scream:  A ‘resilience lab’.  They’ve obviously bought into the Mayor’s hype. This is the paragraph that’s described my reality.  Every day I walk out of my house and feel like screaming “WTF  are you doing here? Why don’t you go back to the hell realm you came from instead of bringing it here to me?”  No east coast newspaper article on New Orleans is complete these days without telling people that the place to be is my freaking neighborhood, the Bywater. I have fewer and fewer neighbors all the time. My neighborhood has been completely overrun with people hoping to redefine and cash in on cool.

He smiled at first. It looked so charming, all those people driving slowly down Burgundy Street through the Faubourg Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods, pointing cameras.

Then it dawned on Keith Weldon Medley: These folks weren’t tourists or architecture buffs. They were shoppers. And on their shopping list was almost everything that could be had in these neighborhoods, a collection of Creole cottages, shotgun doubles, warehouses and small manufacturers at a humpback bend of the Mississippi River.

In the evolution of post-Katrina New Orleans, few phenomena have been more striking than the dramatic demographic shift of places such as Bywater from majority black to majority white. One census block group in Bywater dropped from 51 percent African American before Katrina to just 17 percent afterward; the largest went from 63 percent to 32, according to a Washington Post analysis of U.S. census data.

“You saw all these white people. Obviously they were displacing black people who were here before,” said Medley, a historian who lives in the house where he grew up in the Marigny.

My daily mantra is “I see fucking stupid White People.”

So, I really don’t intend for this to be my Katrina post. I’ve been there and done that.   Let me post a few more things that are pissing me off today.

There’s an obvious asset bubble bubbling away here so the market’s correcting and the Fed is going to start bringing up interest rates. This blog has an interesting take on what’s going on which is particularly relevant to my field of research as a currency bloc and international economist.

Global stock markets are in a 2008ish kind of crash today and I really don’t much time to write this, but I just want to share my take on it.

To me this is fundamentally about the in-optimal currency union between the US and China. From 1995 until 2005 the Chinese renminbi was more or less completely pegged to the US dollar and then from 2005 until recently the People’s Bank of China implemented a gradual managed appreciation of RMB against the dollar.

This was going well as long as supply side factors – the opening of the Chinese economy and the catching up process – helped Chinese growth.

Hence, China went through one long continues positive supply shock that lasted from the mid-1990s and until 2006 when Chinese trend growth started to slow. With a pegged exchange rate a positive supply causes areal appreciation of the currency. However, as RMB has been (quasi)pegged to the dollar this appreciation had to happen through domestic monetary easing and higher inflation and higher nominal GDP growth. This process was accelerated when China joined WTO in 2001.

As a consequence of the dollar peg and the long, gradual positive supply shock Chinese nominal GDP growth accelerated dramatically from 2000 until 2008.

However, underlying something was happening – Chinese trend growth was slowing due to negative supply side headwinds primarily less catch-up potential and the beginning impact of negative labour force growth and the financial markets have long ago realized that Chinese potential growth is going to slow rather dramatically in the coming decades.

As a consequence the potential for real appreciation of the renminbi is much smaller. In fact there might be good arguments for real depreciation as Chinese growth is fast falling below trend growth, while trend itself is slowing.

The market has rebounded but the financial markets are obviously still shaky. China is the world’s largest economy now so anything house after katrinathat happens there is bound to ripple around the world.

The global whiplash underscored investors’ shaken confidence in China’s slowing economy and central bank. The world’s second-largest economy is now reeling over what China’s state media is calling “Black Monday,” during which its markets just recorded their biggest one-day nosedive in eight years.

But the mid-morning bounce off deep trading lows led some analysts to question whether financial markets had already finished their fall. Tech giant Apple, which begun the morning down 13 percent and dipping below $100, was trading 2 percent higher by the afternoon, at about $107.

The dismal opening marked a worrying continuation of last week’s free fall. The Dow’s blue-chip index plunged more than 500 points on Friday, capping its worst week since 2011 and entering what Wall Street calls a correction, having tumbled 10 percent from its May peak.

The sell-off bruised every industry, wiping out gains in rapid order after a year of mostly steady trading. Some of America’s biggest companies shed tens of billions of dollars in market value in only a few days, and the markets’ early gains have yet to restore those losses.

S&P 500 companies lost more than $1 trillion in market value last week, and the Dow and other indices are on track to record their dreariest month since February 2009.

On Friday, China reported its worst manufacturing results since the global financial crisis, following shortly after Beijing earlier this month surprised investors by announcing it would devalue the nation’s currency.

China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite index has fallen by nearly 40 percent since June, after soaring more than 140 percent last year. Markets in Europe also plummeted, and Asian shares on Monday hit a three-year low.

Economist gadfly and miserable human being Larry Summers is pearl clutching about the rate hikes.  He seems to be on a search to be relevant again but on a very wrong path. This article alone ought to make you very glad that he’s not the Fed Chairman since he seems completely oblivious to the asset bubbles that I see in assets around the country including houses once again.

Like most major central banks the Fed has put its price stability objective into practice by adopting a 2 per cent inflation target. The biggest risk is that inflation will be lower than this — a risk that would be exacerbated by tightening policy. More than half the components of the consumer price index have declined in the past six months — the first time this has happened in more than a decade. CPI inflation, which excludes volatile energy and food prices and difficult-to-measure housing, is less than 1 per cent. Market-based measures of expectations suggest that, over the next 10 years, inflation will be well under 2 per cent. If the currencies of China and other emerging markets depreciate further, US inflation will be even more subdued.

Tightening policy will adversely affect employment levels because higher interest rates make holding on to cash more attractive than investing it. Higher interest rates will also increase the value of the dollar, making US producers less competitive and pressuring the economies of our trading partners.

Please check out housing and stock prices Lala and then try again.

Republicans continue to show they have no idea about the reality of black people in this country. Trump attacked Martin O’Malley for sensitivity to the Black Lives Matter Campaign.

Appearing on Fox News over the weekend, Donald Trump admitted to being completely ignorant about the Black Lives Matter movement. “I know nothing about it,” the billionaire real estate developer said.

Of course, his lack of knowledge didn’t prevent him from harshly criticizing the effort. Trump said that he’s “seeing lot of bad stuff about it right now.” He said Martin O’Malley, a contender for the Democratic nomination, was a “disgusting little weak pathetic baby” for apologizing to Black Lives Matter activists earlier this year.

katrina_five_18Huckabee played the MLK card and completely confused King’s Son.

Martin Luther King III, the son of the late civil rights leader, said he was “perplexed” by GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee’s comments last week suggesting that his father would be “appalled” by the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I think dad would be very proud of young people standing up to promote truth, justice and equality,” King said during an interview on SiriusXM radio. “I was perplexed by the comments, but people attempt to use dad for everything.”

King’s comments come in response to a CNN interview last week in which the former Arkansas governor spoke out against the Black Lives Matter movement, saying racism is “more of a sin problem than a skin problem.”

If you look at the picture of flooded New Orleans and the view over the flooded lower ninth ward towards city, you’ll see a cluster of white tallish buildings sitting right on the river in the middle of that photo.  Just a hair to the right is where my house still stands and where I’m there right now with a pillow pulled over my head trying to block out the world of adults.  I don’t want to be one of them at the moment.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?