Tuesday Reads: White Privilege and Trump’s “Best People”

Good Morning!!

White privilege is a powerful thing, and here’s some proof.

WGN9 Chicago: Waffle House shooting suspect held on $2M bail.

A man accused of killing four people with an AR-15 rifle at a Tennessee Waffle House has been formally charged with four counts of criminal homicide and is being held on $2 million bail.

Court records say 29-year-old Travis Reinking was charged Monday. He is due in court Wednesday.

Police say Reinking was wearing a green jacket and nothing else Sunday when he stormed the restaurant in southeast Nashville and opened fire with the military assault-style rifle, first in the parking lot and then inside. Police credited a quick-thinking customer who wrestled the gun away from preventing more bloodshed.

Authorities say Reinking fled the scene after the scuffle with the restaurant patron. The suspect was captured Monday after an intense manhunt with local and federal police officers that lasted more than a day.

And yet, the judge gave him bail. Let’s hope his father (who reportedly returned the assault weapon to his son after the Secret Service took it away during an arrest at the White House) doesn’t raise the money to get him released.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, a golf club called the police on four black women members for allegedly playing too slowly. AP:

“I felt we were discriminated against,” one of the women, Myneca Ojo, told the York Daily Record. “It was a horrific experience.”

Sandra Thompson and four friends met up Saturday to play a round of golf at the Grandview Golf Club, where they are all members, she told the newspaper.

At the second hole, a white man whose son co-owns the club came up to them twice to complain that they weren’t keeping up with the pace of play. Thompson, an attorney and the head of the York chapter of the NAACP, told the newspaper it was untrue.

On the same hole, another member of the group, Sandra Harrison, said she spoke with a Grandview golf pro, who said they were fine since they were keeping pace with the group ahead of them.

Despite that, the women skipped the third hole to avoid any other issues, she said….

The five are part of a larger group of local women known as Sisters in the Fairway. The group has been around for at least a decade, and all of its members are experienced players who have golfed all over the county and world, Thompson said. They’re very familiar with golf etiquette, she said.

After the ninth hole, where it is customary to take a break before continuing on the next nine holes, three of the group decided to leave because they were so shaken up by the earlier treatment, the women told the paper.

Thompson said the man from the second hole, identified as former York County Commissioner Steve Chronister, his son, club co-owner Jordan Chronister and several other white, male employees approached the remaining two women and said they took too long of a break and they needed to leave the course.

Then the police arrived, but they took no action. Read more at the link.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump repeatedly told his followers that he knew “the best people” and would hire the very best to work for his administration. That’s not working out so well.

EPA chief Scott Pruitt is still hanging in there, but for how much longer?

CNBC: Embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt faces public grilling this week as GOP support erodes.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt reports to Capitol Hill on Thursday for a pair of hearings on his agency’s 2018 budget proposal, but the embattled Trump deputy is likely to face as many questions about his personal conduct as EPA’s spending priorities.

Since the hearings were announced, revelations about Pruitt’s rental of a Washington apartment linked to an energy lobbyist have sparked a near-daily trickle of reports detailing alleged ethics abuses and lavish spending that have put the EPA chief’s political future in peril.

In just the last few weeks, Pruitt has been accused of retaliating against EPA staff, arranging official trips to fulfill his personal travel whims and orchestrating pay raises for aides in defiance of the White House. The number of investigations into his conduct has expanded to five, and the government’s top watchdog determined last week that the agency violated the law by installing a $43,000 soundproof phone booth in Pruitt’s office.

The hearings could be a make-or-break moment for Pruitt, who has already sat through a combative Fox News interview that reportedly bruised his standing in the administration. Pruitt goes before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s subcommittee on Environment in the morning and the Committee on Appropriation’s subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies in the afternoon.

And, according to Bloomberg, the White House is telling Republicans not to defend Pruitt.

White House officials are cautioning Republican lawmakers and other conservative allies to temper their defense of Scott Pruitt, according to two people familiar with the discussions, in a sign that administration support for the embattled EPA chief may be waning.

The warnings come as several top GOP lawmakers have stepped forward to publicly criticize Pruitt in recent days, marking a dramatic turn of fortune for one of the most conservative members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet who has been heralded for dismantling Obama-era regulations.

Republicans are now sharpening their criticisms about Pruitt amid a revelation that he met at least once with the lobbyist whose wife rented him a bedroom on Capitol Hill.

Last night the news broke that White House physician Ronny Jackson, Trump’s pick to lead the VA, is in trouble.

The New York Times: Ronny Jackson, Trump’s V.A. Nominee, Faces Claims of Overprescription and Hostile Work Environment.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is examining allegations that President Trump’s nominee to lead the Veterans Affairs Department oversaw a hostile work environment as the White House physician and allowed the overprescribing of drugs, according to congressional officials briefed on the committee’s work.

They have also received claims that Dr. Ronny L. Jackson drank too much on the job.

The allegations, which have been under investigation since last week, forced the postponement of Dr. Jackson’s confirmation hearing, planned for this Wednesday as senators scrutinize the nominee’s time leading the White House medical staff. Officials familiar with the allegations against Dr. Jackson declined to offer precise details but said that they suggest a pattern of behavior, not just one or two isolated incidents.

How do you “drink too much on the job” at the White House? Shouldn’t any drinking on the job be forbidden?

Dr. Jackson, a rear admiral in the Navy who serves as the White House physician, was already expected to face difficult questioning during his testimony before the committee. Last month, Mr. Trump fired his first Veterans Affairs secretary, David J. Shulkin, an experienced hospital administrator and veteran of the V.A. medical system, and then chose Dr. Jackson largely out of personal affinity.

The White House did little or no vetting of his background before announcing his nomination on Twitter. Before serving as a White House physician, Dr. Jackson had deployed as an emergency medicine physician to Taqaddum, Iraq, during the Iraq war.

The Senate only received paperwork from the Trump administration formalizing Dr. Jackson’s nomination last week.

Read more at the NYT. Do you suppose this job could have been a bribe to get Jackson to lie about Trump’s height and weight and the state of his health? Or did Trump knew about the drinking and use it as blackmail?

And then there’s Mike Pompeo, current Director of the CIA and nominee for Secretary of State. Frankly, I think this guy is terrifying; and, unfortunately, it looks like he’ll be confirmed. Here’s some background on Pompeo and his scary religious beliefs:

Michelle Golberg at Slate, January 2017: “This Evil Is All Around Us.” Trump’s pick for the CIA, Mike Pompeo, sees foreign policy as a vehicle for holy war.

In June 2015, Rep. Mike Pompeo, a Kansas congressman, headlined a “God and Country Rally” at Wichita’s Summit Church. “To worship our lord and celebrate our nation at the same place is not only our right, it is our duty,” he began. Pompeo’s speech was a mishmash of domestic culture war callouts and dark warnings about the danger of radical Islam. He cited an inflammatory prayer that a pastor named the Rev. Joe Wright once delivered before the Kansas State Legislature: “America had worshipped other Gods and called it multiculturalism. We’d endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.” He lamented government efforts to “rip faith from our schools” and then segued immediately into a discussion of the jihadi threat: “This evil is all around us.” Pompeo concluded by describing politics as “a never-ending struggle … until the rapture.” [….]

Like Trump, Pompeo has been a fierce critic of efforts to rein in the CIA’s torture program and a champion of keeping Guantanamo Bay open. While in Congress, he was a frequent guest on the radio show of famously paranoid Frank Gaffney, a man disinvited from the right-wing Conservative Political Action Conference after claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood had infiltrated its parent organization, the American Conservative Union. (In the Trump era, Gaffney has been brought in from the cold: After the election, the New York Times reported that he was informally advising Trump’s inner circle on national security hires.) Gaffney once called Pompeo “one of the most intelligent men I know in public life,” and the two see the world similarly. In February 2015, they spoke about President Obama’s use of the term “violent extremism” instead of “radical Islam,” a linguistic choice that some on the right see as a secret message of solidarity with jihad. Gaffney suggested that Obama might be conveying “an affinity” for ISIS’s cause, if not all its tactics: “the raising up of the Muslim Ummah, a grand rebalancing of America’s role in the world.” Pompeo relied, “Frank, every place you stare at the president’s policies and statements, you see what you just described … every policy of this administration has treated America as if we are the problem and not the solution.”

Like Gaffney, Pompeo believes that radical networks have wormed their way into every corner of the country. “There are organizations and networks here in the United States tied to radical Islam in deep and fundamental ways,” he said on Gaffney’s show. “They’re not just in places like Libya and Syria and Iraq, but in places like Coldwater, Kansas, and small towns all throughout America.”

From Vox, March 15, 2018: Mike Pompeo, Trump’s pick for secretary of state, talks about politics as a battle of good and evil.

That Pompeo is an evangelical Christian is, on its face, not particularly notable; 25 percentof Americans are. But Pompeo’s specific brand of evangelical Christianity, with its insistence on seeing Muslim-Christian relations as an apocalyptic holy war, makes him an unnerving choice for such a senior foreign policy position.

During his tenure as CIA director, and before that as a member of the House of Representatives, Pompeo has consistently used language that casts the war on terrorism as a cosmic divine battle of good and evil. He’s referred to Islamic terrorists as destined to“continue to press against us until we make sure that we pray and stand and fight and make sure that we know that Jesus Christ is our savior is truly the only solution for our world.”

Pompeo clarified that only a small percentage of Muslims were, in fact, terrorists (although in a 2013 speech, he called them potentially complicit in terrorism). Still, his language echoes a wider point: that the war against terrorism can be fought, in part, with Christian faith.

In other speeches, he’s characterized American domestic politics as a similarly apocalyptic struggle between good and evil, in which other (non-Christian) faiths and political views were signs of cultural decay. He cited a sermon previously delivered by Pastor Joe Wright in front of the Kansas state legislature: “‘America had worshipped other Gods and called it multiculturalism. We’d endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.’” Sources inside the CIA told Foreign Policy that Pompeo’s speeches within the CIA are no less loaded with explicitly religious language.

Please go read the rest.

Now, what else is happening? What stories are you following today?

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28 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: White Privilege and Trump’s “Best People””

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Trump didn’t get his military parade to show off for Macron, but he did get a garish, embarrassing display of armaments and review of the troops. Ugh. Is it customary to fire off cannons throughout the playing of La Marseillaise?

    • bostonboomer says:

      In a meeting after the ceremony, Trump called Kim Jong Un “open” and “honorable.”

      • NW Luna says:

        ?? Not that Trump would know what open and honorable are, but this might be almost as bad as the Little Rocket Man tirades. What is he going to give away?

  2. bostonboomer says:

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Here’s a 2017 piece on Pompeo at Foreign Policy: More White, More Male, More Jesus: CIA Employees Fear Pompeo Is Quietly Killing the Agency’s Diversity Mandate.

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/09/08/more-white-more-male-more-jesus-cia-employees-fear-pompeo-is-quietly-killing-the-agencys-diversity-mandate/

    • Catscatscats says:

      And I am sure he will do more of the same at a decimated, demoralized State Dept where diversity is probably mission critical. Is it just me, or does Pompeo have a strong “creep” vibe?

      • quixote says:

        Very strong. Turns out he’s a fundie Dominionist who thinks it’s essential to have Gawd in Gubbmint. Just saw that yesterday. What could possibly go wrong.

  4. bostonboomer says:

  5. bostonboomer says:

  6. Pat Johnson says:

    I keep asking myself: Why? Why are we stuck with this insane,vindictive jerk who knows nothing about anything and who is a daily embarrassment on the world stage?

    His only talent – if it can be described as such – is self promotion. He ranks right up there with the Kardashian’s whose claim to fame is taking pictures of themselves without clothes. An empty vessel of overwhelming self aggrandizement that if he were not POTUS would be hilarious to watch.

    He just appeared alongside the president of France and flicked dandruff off his suit. He called Kim Jong Un “honorable”. He led a meeting with Macron by his side “praising” himself for achievements regarding employment figures for minorities and women. Incredible!

    Most people would be embarrassed by the number of investigations being done regarding collusion, obstruction, corruption and porn stars. His choices of candidates to lead various positions are ludicrous. His latest pick for VA administrator appears to be a drunk and a loose dispenser of pharmaceuticals while heading a department described as having a “hostile environment”.

    His SoS sounds like a war mongering Christian nut job not to mention the odious choice in choosing John Bolton as his national security adviser. This is the caliber of morons surrounding this stupid, stupid man.

    Only 1 year with Mueller that feels like forever. Waiting for the other shoe to drop while he plays “kissy face” with the dictators of Russia and North Korea is vomit inducing. When will this all end?

    Hopefully before he sells us all out to the highest bidder. Unless he has already done so.

  7. NW Luna says:

    We knew this already, but it’s good the facts get more exposure.

  8. NW Luna says:

    Is another one going to bite the dust soon? Only the best people!

    Trump suggests embattled nominee for VA post drop out because of ‘ugly’ process

    President Trump said Tuesday that he is standing behind Ronny L. Jackson to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, but suggested his embattled nominee should drop out because of what Trump characterized as “ugly allegations” that have surfaced.

    “I don’t want to put a man through a process like this,” Trump said when asked about Jackson’s nomination during a joint news conference at the White House with French President Emmanuel Macron. “It’s too ugly, and it’s too disgusting.”

    “I said to Dr. Jackson, what do you need it for?” Trump said. “To be abused by a bunch of politicians? … If I was him … I wouldn’t do it.”

    • NW Luna says:

      This was an odd phrasing in that NYT story on Jackson:

      …allowed the overprescribing of drugs…

      “Allowing?” But Jackson is the only one with prescriptive authority in the WH.

  9. NW Luna says:

    Sound OK until you look at the details. Apparently by “transparency” they mean having research subjects’ confidential personal info revealed.

    Pruitt unveils controversial ‘transparency’ rule Tuesday limiting what research EPA can use

    Tuesday that would establish new standards for what science could be used in writing agency regulations, according to individuals briefed on the plan. The sweeping change, long sought by conservatives, could have significant implications for decisions on everything from the toxicity of household products to the level of soot that power plants can emit.

    The rule would only allow EPA to consider studies for which the underlying data are made available publicly. Advocates describe this approach as an advance for transparency, but critics say it would effectively block the agency from relying on long-standing, landmark studies linking air pollution and pesticide exposure to harmful health effects.

    Some researchers collect personal data from subjects but pledge to keep it confidential — as was the case in a major 1993 study by Harvard University that established the link between fine-particle air pollution and premature deaths, as well as more recent research that tapped a Medicare database available to any scientific group guaranteeing confidentiality of the personal information. That practice would not be allowed under the new rule.

    Gretchen Goldman, an expert on air pollution and research director for the organization’s Center for Science and Democracy, said the rule could put some scientists in a quandary: Keeping personal health data or propriety information private would mean having their work ignored by the EPA.

  10. bostonboomer says: