Monday Reads: Stranger than Fiction and all that jazzPosted: August 22, 2016
Today is the Anniversary of the first sighting of the Loch Ness Monster back in the 1930s. I figure that’s as good of a place as any to start our reads today because everything else is a lot less believable. This is the type of monster sighting I’d like to read about. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind of monster sighting we get today.
Newly published documents reveal that a Scottish police official in the 1930s believed ‘beyond doubt’ that the Loch Ness monster existed. Expert Loren Coleman says it reveals the government’s longstanding policy to protect the mythic beast.
I’m pretty much turning into a victim of shaken head syndrome because I find myself doing that or picking my jaw up off the floor nearly daily. Every day there’s a monster sighting on the internet. Perhaps having a major political party elect a known-nothing reality TV star for president has something to do with it. Donald Trump has this way of bringing out the worst in people and bringing out the worst people. He is the monster we see today on the internet and on TV and he brings a lot of them with him.
This is not a headline I expected to see over the weekend or even these days. That is until the Donald stirred the White Supremacy pot. “Armed, Confederate flag-waving White Lives Matter protesters rally outside Houston NAACP.” Houston, you have a problem.
White Lives Matter staged a rally outside the NAACP’s Houston headquarters on Sunday, sparking controversy and counter-protests in a city where racial tensions remain high after a string of recent incidents.
Clutching Confederate flags, white supremacist signs and, in several cases, assault rifles, roughly 20 White Lives Matter members stood on the sidewalk of a historically black neighborhood to denounce the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
“We came out here specifically today to protest against the NAACP and their failure in speaking out against the atrocities that organizations like Black Lives Matter and other pro-black organizations have caused the attack and killing of white police officers, the burning down of cities and things of that nature,” organizer Ken Reed told the Houston Chronicle. “If they’re going to be a civil rights organization and defend their people, they also need to hold their people accountable.”
Reed, who was wearing a “Donald Trump ’16” hat and a “White Lives Matter” shirt with white supremacist symbols, said protesters were “not out here to instigate or start any problems,” despite the weaponry and body armor on display.
Of course! No one whose been listening to Trump spout his “second amendment solutions” advice has any malice or intent to do harm to anyone! This guy in Tulsa, Oklahoma–as an example–was just exercising his metaphorical constitutional rights a few weeks ago too!
For years, the Jabara family says, their Tulsa neighbor terrorized them.
He called them names — “dirty Arabs,” “filthy Lebanese,” they said.
He hurled racial epithets at those who came to work on their lawns, they alleged.
He ran Haifa Jabara over with his car and went to court for it.
And it all came to a head last week when the man, Stanley Vernon Majors, walked up to the front steps of the family home and shot and killed Khalid Jabara, police said.
“The frustration that we continue to see anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, xenophobic rhetoric and hate speech has unfortunately led up to a tragedy like this,” it said.
Or this guy that gunned down an Imam in NYC with his assistant. Just a white guy waxing in that special first amendment way and exercising his second amendment solutions.
Saturday’s shooting was not the first incident of violence to hit this growing Bangladeshi community, which straddles the border between the New York boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn.
For years, attacks have happened, most frequently during Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, when activity at the five neighborhood mosques peaks. Police bolstered patrolling efforts and stationed officers outside of mosques during the month. For the most part, community members said their presence has been helpful.
But protection during Ramadan is not enough, Hoque said.
“I feel like 106 Precinct is very lazy because they don’t have enough patrolman in our area,” she said. At the rally, Hoque said she witnessed community members, usually on the side of the police, levy similar charges.
While some uneasy neighborhood residents believe the need for more robust policing is greater than ever, some younger community members feel it is time to lessen the community’s dependence on police.
On Wednesday afternoon, the men of Al-Furqan Jame Masjid were gathered in the prayer space, which amounted to little more than two adjoining rooms cooled by an array of three-armed ceiling fans. There, they discussed plans for succession and next steps.
Mohamed Amen, an Egyptian-American police officer in the community affairs bureau, was among the men seated in front of the crowd of 30 men.
During his comments, Officer Amen reiterated that morning’s news: the charges against Oscar Morel, the suspected killer, had been changed from second-degree murder to first-degree murder. If convicted, he explained, the assailant could face life in prison without parole.
“Alhamdulilah,” a few men murmured in unison. Thank God.
Then he addressed the matter of motive. “I can tell you that the hate crimes unit is conducting its own investigation,” he said.
It does seem that some Republicans and former Trump supporters are beginning to understand that Trump appears to be leading a movement of white nationalists and supremacists. This is despite the attempt by some to dress the wolf up in sheep’s clothing.
Donald Trump is alienating his own supporters because of his sometimes “erratic” and inflammatory ad hominem attacks, according to a focus group held Saturday by pollster and Republican strategist Frank Luntz.
“He was my first choice. But just along the way, he has — I guess you can say he’s lost me,” one participant said in the focus group, which aired Sunday as a segment on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I’m not saying there’s no chance of turning but he’s become outrageous. I mean, we all have thoughts, but I think he speaks without thinking.”
The panel, conducted in Pennsylvania, only had a handful of attendees that were still committed to supporting the GOP nominee. Several more participants once backed Trump but no longer do.
“When he initially began to run, he gave voice to a lot of the frustrations that I was feeling about how government is working or more to the point not working,” one man, Michael R., said. “But since then, he’s been running as a 12 year old and changes his positions every news cycle, so you don’t even know where he stands on the issues.”
Another, Howard E. chimed in: “Whenever somebody makes a derogatory comment to him, like in a democratic convention, Trump feels like he needs to attack that person. And he says things that are crazy. And I keep asking myself: is this the kind of person I want to handle the nuclear codes?”
Luntz followed up, asking, “what’s the answer?”
Howard responded: “No way.”
If Republicans are looking for a kinder, gentler, more presidential Donald Trump, they aren’t getting him today. He was more preoccupied with gossiping about Morning Joke and Mika then doing outreach to African Americans with “nothing to lose”.
On Monday morning he trained his Twitter fire at the MSNBC show “Morning Joe,” formerly one of his favorite places to campaign.Trump criticized “Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski in highly personal terms, calling her “off the wall, a neurotic and not very bright mess!”
He also implied that Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough have been secretly dating. He called them “two clowns.”
The comments about Brzezinski were reminiscent of Trump’s highly personal attacks against Fox host Megyn Kelly.
The co-hosts were in the middle of a three-hour live broadcast at the time and had been highly critical of Trump earlier in the morning.
Scarborough responded during a commercial break, stating that “Clinton is targeting key swing states today while Trump starts his day obsessed with cable news hosts while channeling Gawker.”
He ended the tweet with one of Trump’s favorite put-downs: “SAD!”
More people are beginning to worry that his end game is actually to start a Alt-right/White Nationalist media empire given his thrown in with both Alec Jones and Steve Bannon.
Has Donald Trump given up on winning the White House and “pivoted” (this might be his real pivot) to a full-blown effort to build a national following that will outlast the election, perhaps allowing him to establish a media empire with him at the helm — one that caters, at least to some degree, to a white nationalist or “alt-right” audience? Was that his plan all along?
The last few days have brought fresh reporting and evidence that suggest this is where Trump is really headed, a scenario that a numberof observers (your humble blogger included) have been speculating about for months. I thought it would be useful to round up this evidence:
* Vanity Fair media writer Sarah Ellison reports in a radio interviewthat Trump has had private discussions with his inner circle about “how to monetize” the new audience he’s built up. As Ellison puts it, this potential goal should no longer be seen as “speculation.”
* The New York Times reports today that in July, Trump’s campaign “spent more on renting arenas for his speeches” than he did on setting up a national field operation, leaving him with no operation to speak of. That is consistent with the idea that Trump (as I’ve speculated) is very consciously sinking most of his resources into a format (rallies) that allows him to continue staging his unique form of raucous WWE-style political entertainment, and building an audience that thrills to it, rather than winning a general election.
Meanwhile, Campaign Mommy Kellyanne Conway insists that the Donald doesn’t hurl any personal insults.
In February, Conway called Trump’s attacks on rivals like Cruz “vulgar.”
“Do I want somebody who hurls personal insults,” she asked on CNN, “or who goes and talks about philosophical differences?”
On Sunday, though, Conway claimed that Trump’s tone has changed and that he’s already made a pivot “on substance.”
“He doesn’t hurl personal insults,” she said. “What he’s doing is he’s challenging the Democratic Party. He’s challenging Hillary Clinton and President Obama’s legacy.”
She’s been mommysplaining her “pivots” from the Cruz campaign to the Trump nearly all weekend. It’s really pretty disgusting and disingenuous which appear to be her trademarks. However, there’s no way to mommysplain Steven Bannon who has been labelled “the most dangerous political operative in America” and wants to take down establishment Republicans as well as democrats. Check this piece about him out even though it’s from last year.
While attacking the favored candidates in both parties at once may seem odd, Bannon says he’s motivated by the same populist disgust with Washington that’s animating candidates from Trump to Bernie Sanders. Like both, Bannon is having a bigger influence than anyone could have reasonably expected. But in the Year of the Outsider, it’s perhaps fitting that a figure like Bannon, whom nobody saw coming, would roil the national political debate.
The biggest scare now is that Trump has been priming the pump about rigged elections and evil media plots against him. Given that his followers now regularly threaten the media and a few of them are using their second amendment solutions are immigrants, what can we expect when he loses? Will we have the police dealing with the well-armed League of Angry White men?
“Among the values most necessary for a functioning democracy is the peaceful transition of power that’s gone on uninterrupted since 1797. What enables that is the acceptance of the election’s outcome by the losers,” said Steve Schmidt, the GOP operative who was McCain’s campaign strategist in 2008.
“Here you have a candidate after a terrible three weeks, which has all been self-inflicted, saying the only way we lose is if it’s ‘rigged’ or stolen — in a media culture where people increasingly don’t buy into generally accepted facts and turn to places to have their opinions validated where there’s no wall between extreme and mainstream positions. That’s an assault on some of the pillars that undergird our system. People need to understand just how radical a departure this is from the mean of American politics.”
Should Trump opt not to concede after a loss or deliberately roil his supporters and spark uprisings by refusing to accept the legitimacy of the election results, he would still have little recourse to alter a significant electoral victory for Clinton. Only if the election were close, hinging on one or two states where there were alleged voting irregularities, could Trump seriously contest the result in court.
But beyond who wins the White House in November, many Republicans fear that Trump’s efforts to diminish people’s confidence in mainstream media, fair elections and politics itself will have a lasting impact.
I’m expecting a good deal of these dudes will not go quietly into that great night. Frankly, I hope the police are up to it. There’s a reliance on conspiracy theories and monster sightings that scares the bejeebus out of me. It’s hard to know what exactly what folks like this will do when backed into reality. The Donald Trump monster is not fake in the traditional sense of monster sightings. He’s more than real even though everything he promises, affirms as truth, and does is not particularly real.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?