Lazy Saturday Reads: The Museum of African American History and Culture

The first direct morning sun paints the Washington Monument a shade of red near the Smithsonian Institute''s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Jahi Chikwendiu

The first direct morning sun paints the Washington Monument a shade of red near the Smithsonian Institute”s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Jahi Chikwendiu

Good Afternoon!!

I’m devoting this post to articles about the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened this morning. I think we all need rest from the campaign and the endless advice on how Hillary should behave at Monday night’s debate.

The Chicago Tribune: New Smithsonian museum chronicling black history opens: ‘It’s absolutely breathtaking.’

Centuries of struggles and strife, decades of planning and pain, and years of hoping for a place that African-American history can call home will culminate as President Barack Obama officially opens the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

A shining bronze beacon on the National Mall, only steps away from a monument dedicated to a slaveholder president, the new Smithsonian will chronicle the complex relationship between the United States and a people it once enslaved, and tell the story of those who worked to make the necessary changes to bring the country to where it is today.

Ida B. Wells

Ida B. Wells

“It doesn’t gauze up some bygone era or avoid uncomfortable truths,” Obama said in his weekly radio and internet talk. “Rather, it embraces the patriotic recognition that America is a constant work in progress, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is within our collective power to align this nation with the high ideals of our founding.” ….

Ground was broken for the new museum in 2012 on a five-acre tract near the Washington Monument after a decades-long push for an African-American museum on the National Mall. Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, a longtime civil rights icon, worked with then-Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas to usher legislation through Congress, and President George W. Bush signed into law the bill that allowed the museum to move forward.

Construction was completed earlier this year on the 400,000-square-foot museum designed by British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye. The museum strikes a unique shape on the Mall with its three-tiered bronze exterior panels inspired by an African wooden column. The patterned bronze colored tiles are inspired by 19th century ironwork created by slaves in the South, and allow sunlight into the museum through patterned openings.

Inside, museum officials say they have nearly 3,000 items occupying 85,000 square feet of exhibition space including exhibits like a Tuskegee Airmen training plane and the casket of Emmett Till, a murdered African-American boy whose death helped rally the civil rights movement.

“It’s been 100 years in the making. So many people have dreamed about this fought for this and wanted this to happen,” said U.S. Circuit Judge Robert L. Wilkins, who wrote the book “Long Road to Hard Truth” about the struggle to get the museum open. “It’s going to be a testament to their work and a testament to so many of our ancestors that this museum will open on the Mall.”

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass

The Twin Cities Pioneer Press has a wonderful collection of photos museum exhibits.

As a child in St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood in the 1950s, there were few places Marvin Anderson could learn about African American history.

“You grew up knowing more about European history than you do about your own history,” Anderson said. “African American history was neglected — either though ignorance or through suppression.”

But with the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Saturday in Washington, D.C., his grandchildren will have access to that history.

“A museum that’s constructed to preserve and interpret the contributions and accomplishments of the African American community means a lot to me as a person,” Anderson said. “And it will mean a lot to my grandchildren.”

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks

The Washington Post: African American Museum opening: ‘This place is more than a building. It is a dream come true.’

More than 100 years after it was first proposed and 13 years after it was authorized by Congress, the National Museum of African American History and Culture opens today in Washington.

“There were some who said it couldn’t happen, who said ‘you can’t do it,’ but we did it,” said Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who led the charge to make the museum a reality. “This place is more than a building. It is a dream come true.”

The long-awaited moment is being heralded by a weekend of celebrations across the city, in what the museum director Lonnie Bunch has called a “mini inauguration.” The most anticipated event is the grand opening ceremony on the National Mall, which is being broadcast on C-SPAN and streamed online, including at washingtonpost.com. More than 7,000 official guests heard speeches from Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and former president George W. Bush, who signed the 2003 bill that authorized the museum….

Since the day Obama presided over the museum’s groundbreaking in 2012, an impressive 400,000 square foot structure has been built in the shadow of the Washington Monument. Serving as home to more than36,000 artifacts, the museum exists to both memorialize and educate, and most importantly to museum director Bunch, cement the African American story’s place in the American story.

Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson

Jonathan Capehart: Lonnie Bunch: Even if you’re white, ‘the story of slavery is still your story.’

“This is a story that is too big to be in the hands of one community,” saidLonnie Bunch. “It really is the story that has shaped us all.”

That story is that of African Americans. And on this weekend of the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), the seventh episode of “Cape Up” is my conversation with its founding director Lonnie Bunch. The stunning structure on the Mall is the physical manifestation of a multi-decade effort that kicked into high gear in 2005 when Bunch, a former Smithsonian curator who was president of the Chicago Historical Society, was tapped to helm the effort.

In 2003, President George W. Bush signed the bill that made the national African American history museum a legal reality. But that was the easy part.

“The biggest part of this job was to make people believe that this could happen. But what it really meant was that I had to find ways to believe it. And to take risks,” Bunch told me at the museum last week. “For example, when we did the groundbreaking, we didn’t have all the money. So what I did is, well, let’s make the hole anyway because I knew that Congress wouldn’t let a hole stand next to the Washington monument.” ….

“We went around the country, stole the idea from ‘Antique Roadshow,’ asked people to bring out their stuff. We didn’t take it,” Bunch explained. “We helped them preserve grandma’s old shawl, that wonderful 19th-century photograph. But what happened was that people get excited and they’d say, ‘Well do you want it?’ And we would say, ‘Give it to local museums first.’ Then if it was really significant it came back to D.C.”

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Smithsonian.com: The New Exhibition on Black Music Could Give Other Museums a Run for Their Money.

Music is so much a part of black America, it pops up all over the vast new National Museum of African American History and Culture. From Harriet Tubman’s modest hymnal of spirituals to Sly Stone’s signed Fender Rhodes keyboard and Public Enemy’s boom box that helps close the 20th-century cultural history, there’s no separating the importance of music from the history on hand.

But when one arrives at the entry to the fourth floor “Musical Crossroads” exhibition, heralded by the sparkly red finish on Chuck Berry’s Cadillac, the futuristic fantasy of the Parliament-Funkadelic mothership replica, and Michael Jackson’s Victory Tour fedora, it is as if entering its own inclusive African-American Music History Museum.

And inclusive it is—with displays on African music imported by the enslaved to this country, devotional music that helped bind black communities against all odds, gospel, minstrel music, ragtime, jazz, blues, rhythm & blues, rock ’n’ roll, hip-hop and EDM. Yes, and some country stars of color as well.

One of the challenges of opening the Smithsonian’s newest major museum was acquiring its contents from scratch. Sure, the nearby National Museum of American History already had a lot of artifacts, from Scott Joplin sheet music to Dizzy Gillespie’s B-flat trumpet.

Emmett Till

Emmett Till

The Root: Emmett Till’s Casket Is ‘One of Our Most Sacred Objects’ at African-American History Museum.

Curating for a museum is no doubt a difficult job, and one of the more difficult decisions that Lonnie Bunch III—founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture—remembers grappling with was whether to include the casket that once held the brutalized remains of Emmett Till.

“I remember struggling with, ‘Should we collect that?’” Bunch said, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Even after he accepted the donation of Till’s casket by Till’s family after his remains had been exhumed and reinterred, Bunch wondered if it was “too ghoulish” to include in an exhibit.

Nonetheless, Bunch decided to move forward with the idea, saying that it was essential to explore stories such as that of Till—the Chicago teen who was brutally murdered for whistling at a white woman while visiting family in Mississippi—in order to represent the full story of the African-American experience.

“You couldn’t tell the story of the African-American experience without wrestling with difficult issues, without creating those moments where people have to ponder the pain of slavery, segregation or racial violence,” Bunch said.

Smithsonian.com: Two Hungry Reporters Dig Into the Sweet Home Café at the African American History Museum.

When the National Museum of African American History and Culture hosted a soft opening, we came hungry. The museum, more than 100 years in the making, brimmed with treasures. Untold stories and famous tales burst to life through artifacts in the exhibitions. But we headed straight down the museum’s magnificent central staircase to the below-ground Sweet Home Café. We were on assignment to report on the food. And reader, we did.

 The 12,000-square foot café is divided into four stations, which honor the geographic regions of African-American culture—the North States, Agricultural South, Creole Coast and Western Range. We sampled from each, stuffing ourselves with the rich offerings, Georgia shrimp and Anson Mills stone ground grits, slow-cooked collards and cornbread sticks, empanadas heaped with black eye peas, golden corn and chanterelles, not to mention Johnston County sweet potato pie. What we couldn’t eat, we shamelessly snuck home in our purses—paper napkins lovingly protected a Wild Turkey pecan pie and the remains of a BBQ buffalo brisket sandwich.

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To eat the food at the Sweet Home Café is to take a bite out of history—an authenticity of ingredients and culinary skill passed down and reinterpreted by generations of black home cooks and gourmet chefs around the country. This food has been shaped by regional cuisine and distinctive cultures, but also by history, something impossible to be forgotten when you see the counters and stools lining two walls of the 400-seat cafe, recalling the Greensboro sit-ins in North Carolina and the brave civil rights activists that sat down to peacefully protest Woolworth’s white’s-only lunch counter service in 1960. While we eat, images and quotes from historical and modern black voices are the backdrop, from the towering image of the Greensboro Four to a quote by Michael W. Twitty, who pens the food blog Afroculinaria.

“Our food is our flag…it sits at the intersection of the South, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America,” he writes.

I know there’s plenty of other news out there, but I hope you’ll take the time to dive into one of these great articles. Of course this is an open thread, so please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread.


Thursday Reads: Trump Themed Street Art and News of the Day

passion_trump

Good Morning!!

Only a few more days till the first presidential debate of 2016, and the campaign is just getting crazier and crazier. Yesterday Donald Trump admitted that he’s still a a birther. Kevin Drum:

Ben Garbarek, a local news reporter in Toledo, asked Donald Trump today what it was that changed his mind about President Obama’s birthplace:

BG: This announcement earlier this week with you saying that you believe President Obama was in fact born in the United States, after all the years where you’ve expressed some doubt, what changed?

Trump: Well I just wanted to get on with, I wanted to get on with the campaign. A lot of people were asking me questions. We want to talk about jobs. We want to talk about the military. We want to talk about ISIS and get rid of ISIS. We want to talk about bringing jobs back to this area because you’ve been decimated so we just wanted to get back on the subject of jobs, military, taking care of our vets, etc.

Just as everyone suspected, Trump made his insulting, half-assed statement that Obama was born in the U.S. because he was hoping to just move on from his 5-year campaign against President Obama’s character and identity. If this isn’t a question in the debate, we’ll know that Lester Holt–who has been outed as a registered Republican–is biased in favor of Trump.

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Yesterday, Buzz Feed published an amazing old radio interview with Trump by Laura Ingraham: Trump In Crazy 2011 Interview: “I’m Very Proud” To Be A Birther.

When Ingraham asks Trump in the interview about Gov. Tim Pawlenty saying he believed Obama is a US citizen, Trump replied, “He doesn’t want to be labeled as a birther probably.”

“I’m proud to be,” he said. “I’m very proud of it. I’m very proud of it. I don’t like the term. I think it’s a demeaning term to the people that believe he should have a birth certificate. Some people believe he was not born in this country.

“And when people ask me that question, I just can’t be sure because nobody knows. How about when his family is arguing over what hospital? You know his family members are arguing over which hospital. Then he writes that letter, supposedly to a hospital, and in the letter he puts a cute little sentence — ’the place of my birth’—and the doctors didn’t even know about it. There’s something very strange going on here.”

Earlier in the interview, Trump discussed the possibility that President Obama might not want to release his birth certificate because it might list him as a Muslim.

“He doesn’t have a birth certificate, or if he does, there’s something on that certificate that’s very bad for him,” Trump said. “Somebody told me — and I have no idea whether this is bad for him or not, but perhaps it would be — that, where it says religion, it might have Muslim. And if you’re a Muslim, you don’t change your religion, by the way. But somebody said maybe that’s the reason why he doesn’t want to show it. I don’t think so. I just don’t think he has a birth certificate, and everybody has a birth certificate.” ….

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And there’s this bit of insanity:

“Now, you know, when I hear he took an ad in the paper, his parents, these are poor people,” Trump said. “When did you ever hear of anybody taking an ad in the paper? I see so much fraud in this world. An ad like that could have been staged. I don’t mean staged at the time. I mean could have been computer-generated five years ago, eight years ago, two years ago. It could have been computer-generated.”

I guess to Trump middle-class folks like Obama’s grandparents are “poor people.”

We’ve seen the stupidity of many Trump supporters, but this one takes the cake: A Trump campaign chair in Ohio says there was ‘no racism’ before Obama. The Guardian:

Donald Trump’s campaign chair in a prominent Ohio county has claimed there was “no racism” during the 1960s and said black people who have not succeeded over the past half-century only have themselves to blame.

Kathy Miller, who is white and chair of the Republican nominee’s campaign in Mahoning County, made the remarks during a taped interview with the Guardian’s Anywhere but Washington series of election videos.

“If you’re black and you haven’t been successful in the last 50 years, it’s your own fault. You’ve had every opportunity, it was given to you,” she said.

“You’ve had the same schools everybody else went to. You had benefits to go to college that white kids didn’t have. You had all the advantages and didn’t take advantage of it. It’s not our fault, certainly.”

Miller also called the Black Lives Matter movement “a stupid waste of time” and said lower voter turnout among African Americans could be related to “the way they’re raised”.

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Now that’s deplorable, but not all that surprising. After all, Trump himself said on Tuesday that “African-Americans are in their worst shape ‘ever, ever, ever'” I guess he never heard of slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow. Sopan Deb at CBS News:

KENANSVILLE, N.C. — Donald Trump made another eyebrow-raising comment in his efforts to speak to the African-American community Tuesday, telling a rally in North Carolina that blacks in the United States are in their worst shape “ever, ever, ever.”

“We’re going to rebuild our inner cities because our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape that they’ve ever been in before,” Trump told the crowd. “Ever, ever, ever.”

Trump’s comments came in a town named for a slaveowner’s family: Kenansville was founded in the early 1800s and the Kenan family, according to the town’s website, owned “20 to 50 slaves.” As he has done in other recent speeches, Trump compared inner city shootings to war-torn countries like Afghanistan.

“You take a look at the inner cities: You get no education. You get no jobs. You get shot walking down the street,” he said.

“They’re worse, I mean honestly, places like Afghanistan are safer than some of our inner cities.”

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Then yesterday afternoon, Trump taped a “town hall meeting” on “African American issues” hosted by Fox News’ Sean Hannity. The audience appeared to be made up entirely of white people. Cleveland.com: Donald Trump calls for expansion of ‘stop-and-frisk’ on ‘Hannity’ Fox News taping in Cleveland Heights.

“I see what’s going on here, I see what’s going on in Chicago,” Trump said, according to a preview video posted on FoxNews.com. “I think stop-and-frisk, in New York City, it was so incredible the way it worked. And, we had a very good mayor. But New York City was incredible the way that worked. So I think that would be one step you could do.”

“Stop-and-frisk” refers to a policy of stopping and searching pedestrians under the theory that it may help police find guns and other weapons, and get them off the street. Opponents question its effectiveness, and say stop-and-frisk is demeaning, and disproportionately targets minorities. A New York federal judge in 2013 declared it unconstitutional.

Bill de Blasio successfully ran for mayor of New York City in 2013 on a platform that involved abandoning stop-and-frisk. Cleveland Councilman Zack Reed unsuccessfully pushed for its implementation in Cleveland in 2014. Other cities that have implemented stop-and-frisk — and later agreed to limit its use — include Chicago and Newark, New Jersey.

The legal basis for stop-and-frisk stems from a 1963 case from Cleveland — Terry v. Ohio — that eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Attorney Louis Stokes, who later became a congressman, argued on behalf of John W. Terry, who was stopped by a Cleveland police officer while standing on a street corner in front of a jewelry store at 1276 Euclid Avenue.

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To top it all off, Trump said on Fox and Friends this morning that his federal stop and frisk policy will consist of police officers taking guns away from black people. DailyKos:

FOX AND FRIENDS: will you explain what that is to my folks down in South Carolina that don’t really deal with stop and frisk? What exactly is it and what are the pros and cons?

TRUMP: Well, there are different levels. and you have somebody coming up who is the expert on it but basically they will—if they see, you know, they are proactive and if they see a person possibly with a gun or they think may have a gun, they will see the person and they will look and they will take the gun away. They will stop, they will frisk, and they will take the gun away and they won’t have anything to shoot with. I mean, how it’s not being used in Chicago is—to be honest with you, it’s a quite unbelievable, and you know the police, the local police, they know who has a gun, who shouldn’t be having a gun. They understand that.

History shows that blacks and Hispanics are primarily the people who get stopped and frisked, and Trump knows it.

A construction worker stands in front of a piece of street art portraying prospective U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump, in east London

Meanwhile, the good news is that Hillary Clinton is doing much better in the polls this week. NBC News:

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton leads Republican Donald Trump by six points among likely voters heading into the first presidential debate on Monday, according to a brand-new national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

The survey – which was conducted after Clinton’s return to the campaign trail following her bout with pneumonia – shows a bigger advantage for the secretary of state than did polls taken during the heightened scrutiny of her health….

“Despite arguably the worst few weeks of her candidacy, the fundamentals still point toward a Hillary Clinton victory,” says Democratic pollster Fred Yang of Hart Research Associates, who conducted the survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies.

McInturff adds, “Donald Trump has closed the margin since August, but as we head towards the debate, still needs to push this campaign closer. The good news for him is the electorate narrowly agrees with him that America has lost ground and wants to see a change in direction.”

In a four-way horserace, Clinton gets support from 43 percent of likely voters and Trump gets 37 percent, while Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson is at 9 percent and the Green Party’s Jill Stein is at 3 percent.

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And the best news of all: Barack Obama is coming and he’s fired up! Bloomberg: Obama Throws Himself Into 2016 Race Hellbent on Clinton Victory.

Barack Obama is about to launch a presidential campaign blitz for Hillary Clinton unprecedented in the modern era, pledging a dramatic commitment of time and resources to a contest he now unabashedly frames as a referendum on his personal and political prestige.

Obama plans to devote at least one to two days each week in October to campaign for Clinton through rallies, targeted radio and television interviews, social media outreach and fundraising, said an adviser who requested anonymity.

In addition, the president’s aides have told the Clinton campaign he would be willing to appear in television ads for her. His wife, Michelle, has already cut radio, online and TV ads for the Democratic nominee, another aide said, also requesting anonymity to discuss internal planning.

Obama’s involvement comes at a critical time, with enthusiasm for Clinton lagging behind support for Obama among the young people and minorities who helped power him to the presidency. At the start of the campaign, Clinton’s camp once questioned how closely to embrace Obama but now her aides are eager to have his help.

“From the beginning, we have been interested to have him out there as often as they can spare him between now and November,” said Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon. “As we get closer to the finish line, there’s no one better to help make the closing argument than President Obama.”

 

I’ll end with a couple of fun videos.

The Dali Lama makes fun of Donald Trump.

 

Hillary Clinton appears on Funny or Die’s “Between Two Ferns.”

 

What stories are you following today?


Tuesday Reads

trump-foundation

Good Afternoon!!

As usual I’ve been having a difficult time figuring out where to begin my post. Then I saw the new story by David Farenthold at The Washington Post. This one has to be the story of the day: Trump used $258,000 from his charity to settle legal problems.

Donald Trump spent more than a quarter-million dollars from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits that involved the billionaire’s for-profit businesses, according to interviews and a review of legal documents.

Those cases, which together used $258,000 from Trump’s charity, were among four newly documented expenditures in which Trump may have violated laws against “self-dealing” — which prohibit nonprofit leaders from using charity money to benefit themselves or their businesses.

In one case, from 2007, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club faced $120,000 in unpaid fines from the town of Palm Beach, Fla., resulting from a dispute over the size of a flagpole.

In a settlement, Palm Beach agreed to waive those fines — if Trump’s club made a $100,000 donation to a specific charity for veterans. Instead, Trump sent a check from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, a charity funded almost entirely by other people’s money, according to tax records.

In another case, court papers say one of Trump’s golf courses in New York agreed to settle a lawsuit by making a donation to the plaintiff’s chosen charity. A $158,000 donation was made by the Trump Foundation, according to tax records.

The other expenditures involved smaller amounts. In 2013, Trump used $5,000 from the foundation to buy advertisements touting his chain of hotels in programs for three events organized by a D.C. preservation group. And in 2014, Trump spent $10,000 of the foundation’s money for a portrait of himself bought at a charity fundraiser.

Or, rather, another portrait of himself.

Yes, that was in addition to the $20,000 Trump spent on a six-foot tall portrait of himself. Read many more details at the link.

Next up, Donald Trump Jr. provides evidence that white supremacy is at the core of the Trump campaign. Yesterday Jr. tweeted this message:

It turns out that this is a well-known white supremacist meme. They used to use M&M’s but switched to Skittles after George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin.

Philip Bump at The Washington Post explains the mathematical fallacy behind Junior’s tweet: Donald Trump Jr. inadvertently encourages America to scoop up refugees by the handful.

If there were a bowl of delicious fruitish-flavored Skittles in front of you and three would kill you, you should not pick up a handful and start eating. That would be a very, very bad idea.

This idea easily scales downward. If you had a carton of eggs and three of the eggs were poisonous, you should absolutely not eat from that carton. If I give you three cookies and all three are poisonous, again: Avoid! I am actively trying to kill you for some reason, perhaps because you are bad at math.

The problem for Donald J. Trump, Jr. is that scaling it the other way doesn’t work as well — and that’s why the part in blue doesn’t apply.

So let’s figure out what the analogy is. The libertarian (and Koch brothers-backed) think tank Cato Institute published a report last week assessingthe risk posed by refugees. That report stated that, each year, the risk to an American of being killed by a refugee in a terror attack is 1 in 3.64 billion, as Huffington Post’s Elise Foley noted on Twitter. From the report:

From 1975 through 2015, the annual chance that an American would be murdered in a terrorist attack carried out by a foreign-born terrorist was 1 in 3,609,709. Foreigners on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) killed zero Americans in terrorist attacks, whereas those on other tourist visas killed 1 in 3.9 million a year. The chance that an American would be killed in a terrorist attack committed by a refugee was 1 in 3.64 billion a year.

In other words, for every 10.92 billion years that Americans live — one Skittle, if you will — refugees will kill an American in a terror attack in three.

There’s more logic at the the link, but the real story here is that Donald Trump Jr. gets his news from Brietbart and probably other white supremacist sources.

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The Washington Post editorial board is again excoriating Trump: Birtherism is Donald Trump’s Big Lie.

WHAT DONALD TRUMP popularized as a Big Lie — the birther myth about President Obama — is now a shibboleth among his followers and many Republicans. It matters not a whit that Mr. Trump has finally, for blatant political purposes, admitted that the president was born in the United States; large numbers of his partisans, and of Republicans generally, still don’t believe Mr. Obama has a legitimate claim to the office he has held for nearly eight years.

Birtherism, a hoax perpetrated on Americans, is proof positive of the enduring efficacy of the Big Lie, the proposition that people will sooner believe a monumental falsehood than a trivial one, especially if it is repeated often enough. The cost of such a hoax is not only to the truth but also to the democratic process, which is rendered ridiculous by the ensuing debate. Mr. Trump has revealed his own facility with fraud and deceit, and he has also exposed how vulnerable democracy is when confronted with a charlatan-celebrity, bereft of principles and willing to say anything to grab headlines.

The cancer of corruption perpetuated by Mr. Trump’s dazzling dishonesty has infected not only his campaign but also the Republican Party, which falls in line, sheeplike, to defend his every lie.

Now Mr. Trump says falsely that Hillary Clinton was the originator of birtherism? GOP officials say so, too. Now Mr. Trump claims credit for putting to rest an “issue” he himself perpetuated? GOP officials say so, too. No pronouncement is too preposterous for Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and the party’s other unscrupulous grandees.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon

Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon

How does Trump get away with it? Dakinikat sent me this explanation from CNBC: Why Trump gets away with huge lies and Clinton gets trashed for little fibs.

…why is Trump getting a pass from the voters? No it’s not because Trump is a man and Clinton is a woman. No, it’s not because some powerful media types secretly want Trump to win. You’ll start to find the real answer when you learn a simple legal rule that boasts a rare combination of enforcing free market fairness and understanding human nature. It’s called “puffing,” and that is the official term that legally protects salespeople and businesses from making boastful claims about their products and services that no one really expects to be provable by empirical facts. Legal protections for puffing are the reasons why you can’t sue Snapple for saying it’s made from the “best stuff on Earth,” or go after Budweiser for calling itself the “king of beers.” You get it, right?

And when it comes to puffing, nobody has done it more and for longer in the public than Donald J. Trump. Every hotel he builds is the most elegant, every golf course the most beautiful and challenging, and every contestant on “The Apprentice” had a 200 I.Q. Trump’s natural state is building up his brand and properties in a way that would make a used car salesman blush. The public is used to it and accepts it just as we accept that used car salesman boasting about the 2005 SUV he’s pushing. If we ever get angry at that boasting salesman, it’s only after that car breaks down. Otherwise, we believe we look like nitpicking maniacs to quibble over every conceited claim.

The voters are giving Trump much of the same kind of a pass for the same reasons. And Trump is helping achieve this result by making sure he maintains his salesman’s image for as long as possible at every public appearance and interview.

Okay, but I don’t buy that this has nothing to do with sexism or the long history of the media viciously attacking Hillary for every tiny “misstep.”

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Police around the country are still shooting and killing black boys and men, but somehow they avoided killing terror suspect Amad Khan Rahami and they often do the same when they shoot at white people. It’s just heartbreaking that cops in Columbus Ohio felt the need to kill a 13-year-old boy who was only 5 feet tall and weight less than 100 pounds as he tried to run away from them. Just look at the photo of him in this story in The National Memo:

Tyre King, the 13-year-old African-American boy recently killed by police in Columbus, Ohio, was running away when he was fatally struck by several bullets, according to an independent medical examiner hired by the child’s family. Attorneys representing the family said Monday his loved ones were not allowed to view King’s body on the night of his death and will be forced to wait six to eight weeks for official autopsy results.

The King family hired Francisco J. Diaz, a practicing medical examiner in Wayne County, Michigan, to look into the death. Diaz determined the boy was shot three times. The bullets entered through the left side of his body, any of which could have been the fatal shot. King was struck in his left temple, his left collarbone and in his left flank. King was said to be reaching for a BB gun in his waistband when he was shot three times.

Tulsa police shot and killed an unarmed man with his hands in the air:

In footage filmed from a police helicopter, Terence Crutcher, 40, can be seen slowly walking from the edge of a street north of Tulsa toward his vehicle, which authorities said had been reported abandoned at 7:36 p.m. (8:36 p.m. ET) and left running in the middle of the road.

For several seconds, an officer follows Crutcher from behind with a gun trained on him. Three more officers then converge on the scene as Crutcher lowers his hands and approaches his SUV. While standing beside the driver’s side door, he suddenly drops to the street. Moments later, blood can be seen saturating his white t-shirt.

The Tulsa Police Department also released dash-cam video of the incident. NBC News:

During a news conference Monday, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said that Officer Tyler Turnbough tasered Crutcher, and a second officer, Betty Shelby, fired at him after telling a dispatcher “that she’s not having cooperation from” Crutcher.

mandatory-birthing

Hillary Clinton reacted the clearly unjustified shooting: Policy Mic:

Hillary Clinton expressed outrage over the video released Monday showing police shooting and killing Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man who was stranded in the road after his car broke down, saying incidents like this one are “intolerable.”

Clinton made the comments on the Steve Harvey Morning Show, Harvey’s radio show, Tuesday morning.

“How many times do we have to see this in our country?” Clinton said, according to a transcript published by CNN’s Dan Merica. “In Tulsa, an unarmed man with his hands in the air. This is just unbearable. And it needs to be intolerable.”

She went on to say that white Americans need to combat the “implicit bias” that’s led to incidents like Crutcher’s death.

She also said that she personally appeal to white Americans, saying “this is not who we are” and we need to work to end bias in policing.

I’ll add some more links in the comment thread. What stories are you following today?


Saturday Morning Open Thread

i-90_-_thruway_split_w_of_albany_ny

Good Morning!!

I’m on the road to Boston in Utica, NY. I’ll be home later this afternoon, and I’ll make every effort to post something more then. In the meantime, here’s an open thread.

Is it possible that the media has finally changed its tone toward Donald Trump? Yesterday I heard NPR announcers say several times that Trump’s claim that Hillary Clinton started the birther controversy was “false” or “not true.”

Apparently the media was enraged at the treatment Trump gave them yesterday when he tricked them into thinking he would admit he was wrong to push the horrid birther story for five years at a press conference. It turned out he didn’t answer any questions and didn’t produce anything resembling an apology. Then he refused to allow the media to accompany him on a tour of his new hotel in Washington DC. He had only wanted free media for his business interests.

CNN: Donald Trump’s Birther Game.

Just as Donald Trump gained on Hillary Clinton this week, he returned to his old ways of self-sabotage.

As the “birther” controversy swelled around him, he stood before a national television audience seemingly poised to address the issue that launched his political career — and then he spent 30 minutes delivering an infomercial about his new hotel. As the event was about to wrap, he tossed out a near-throwaway line: “President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.” ….

Black congressional leaders, along with Clinton’s campaign, pilloried Trump’s brief statement on Obama’s birthplace — which was not an apology, an explanation or even an admission that he was the loudest promoter of the birther movement.
At a press conference, member of the Congressional Black Caucus urged voters to register and get out and vote this November.

“We are used to dog whistles, but the thing we are not used to are the howls of wolves. These are howls, not whistles,” said Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina….

Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, called Trump’s actions “disgraceful.”
“After five years of pushing a racist conspiracy theory into the mainstream, it was appalling to watch Trump appoint himself the judge of whether the President of the United States is American,” Mook said in a statement. “This sickening display shows more than ever why Donald Trump is totally unfit be president.”

To top off his awful day, last night Donald Trump for the second time called for Hillary Clinton to be assassinated. NBC News:

MIAMI — Donald Trump mixed policy with intimations of violence in Miami on Friday, reversing his position on re-engaging with Cuba and pushing for Hillary Clinton’s security to disarm because of her proposed firearm reforms.

Trump represented Clinton’s position on gun rights as wanting to “destroy your Second Amendment” and said that her bodyguards should no longer carry firearms in light of her policy stance, which includes expanded background checks for gun sales.

“She doesn’t want guns, take their — let’s see what happens to her,” Trump said. “Take their guns away, okay? It’ll be very dangerous.”

Trump’s comments were slammed by Clinton’s campaign on Friday night:

“Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President, has a pattern of inciting people to violence. Whether this is done to provoke protesters at a rally or casually or even as a joke, it is an unacceptable quality in anyone seeking the job of Commander in Chief,” Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, wrote in a release.

“This kind of talk should be out of bounds for a presidential candidate, just like it should be out of bounds for a presidential candidate to peddle a conspiracy theory about the President of the United States for five years,” Mook added.

“But we’ve seen again and again that no amount of failed resets can change who Donald Trump is. He is unfit to be President and it is time Republican leaders stand up to denounce this disturbing behavior in their nominee.”

Even the media’s sudden willingness to call Donald Trump out on his lies may not be enough. Trump is actually moving up in the polls. Hillary would still win if the election were held today, but the media’s bias against her is taking its toll. It’s time for the media to stop playing Trump’s game and get serious about reporting on the issues.

More interesting stories to check out this morning:

Raw Story: Charles Blow: Trump ‘became the grand wizard of birtherism — that is simply a fact.’

Dan Gillmor at The Atlantic: Fighting Politicians’ War on Truth.

Margaret Sullivan at The Washington Post: It’s time for TV news to stop playing the stooge for Donald Trump.

Media Matters: CNN’s Corey Lewandowski Wants President Obama To Apologize To Donald Trump For “The Incendiary Things He’s Said.”

Slate: Jimmy Fallon Mussing Donald Trump’s Hair Is the Point of No Return.

Talking Points Memo: Trump Introduced By A Birther At Event Where He Walked Back Birtherism.

Peter Daou: The most graceful and dignified indictment of the U.S. media you’ll see in 2016

Joseph Stiglitz at Medium: Why TPP Is a Bad Deal for America and American Workers.

Now I have to get ready to hit the road. I’ll check in with you later on. What stories are you following today?

 

 


Tuesday Reads

November Wind, John Roush

November Wind, John Roush

Good Afternoon!!

A brief personal note: I’m still staying with my mother in Indiana. I was ready to go home last week, but I came down with a virus that seems similar to what Dakinikat had recently. Then my mom had a fainting episode that may have been caused by dehydration (sound familiar?). I called 911, because she collapsed suddenly and I had no idea what happened. Luckily, I was there and was able to lower her to the floor gradually. Her vital signs turned out to be fine, but she hurt her leg because of her position on the floor. She’s better now, but today my cold is the worst it has been. So I’m not sure how coherent this post will be, and it’s obviously very late.

Like other Sky Dancers, I’ve been at my wits end lately with the way the media is attacking Hillary and letting Trump slide on his racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia as well as the actual corruption around his so-called family foundation. The only redeeming factor on MSNBC yesterday was Lawrence O’Donnell’s epic rant about the media “losing it’s collective mind” over Hillary’s health. If you missed it, you must watch it as soon as you can.

Midwest Prairie

Midwest Prairie

I’ve also come to the conclusion that The New York Times and the Associate Press are deplorable and irredeemable. Surprisingly, The Washington Post is currently doing the best job of holding Trump accountable and not “losing its mind” over every single thing Hillary says or does.

I want to begin with two articles I found somewhat calming.

Stuart Rothenberg at The Washington Post: Why Clinton’s narrow lead is bigger than it looks.

Big swings in polls get the big headlines because they imply big changes in a race. But over the past three-and-a-half decades, I’ve grown skeptical of big swings in polls at this late date, and I’ve seen only modest changes in voting behavior in presidential elections.

It isn’t that big swings can’t happen during a campaign. It’s that big swings are rare because there are so few swing voters in the electorate and all swing voters rarely move in the same direction.

A little more than a month ago Gallup found 38 percent of respondents saying they were political Independents, while only 31 percent said they were Democrats and 27 percent said they were Republicans.

But once respondents who “leaned” to one party or the other are allocated, only 11 percent of Americans called themselves true Independents (and some of them probably are closet partisans). This same distribution has been found by the Pew Research Center.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey conducted after the Democratic convention (July 31-Aug. 3) showed 33 percent of respondents were independents, while 13 percent were true independents.

Dramatic events – such as a national party convention or a heavily watched televised debate  – can produce significant swings in the polls, and a bad economy, presidential scandal or unpopular war can produce substantial electoral swings, such as when normally Republican Indiana voted for Barack Obama in 2008.

But unless there is dramatic news, you should be very skeptical about any survey showing a dramatic shift in voters’ attitudes over a few weeks. Remember, not only are survey results subject to a margin of error, but 5 percent of surveys produce results outside that margin.

If you look at actual presidential election results, you may be surprised to see how little swing there is when all the votes are counted.

Prairie Storm, John Hulsey

Prairie Storm, John Hulsey

McClatchy: Why the election map has a built-in, and growing, Democratic bias.

The presidential election map is undergoing a fundamental change, with shifts that will make it easier for Democrats to win not only in 2016 but also for years to come.

Driving the change are two demographic trends: The share of Hispanic and under-30 voters, who favor Democrats in big numbers, is growing significantly in states that in the last decade were decent bets to vote Republican.

“We’re moving in a direction where the demographic map makes it harder and harder for Republican candidates to win the presidency if current conditions continue,” said Mark Hugo Lopez, the director of Hispanic research at the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

Colorado, Nevada and Pennsylvania illustrate how the demographic changes are giving Hillary Clinton an electoral advantage Democrats are unlikely to lose anytime soon. Clinton leads in Pennsylvania and Colorado, which for years were regarded as swing states, and she has a polling edge in Nevada.

Already moving toward the Democrats in the Obama era, Hispanics and younger voters are trending strongly Democratic in the Trump era.

Read more details the rest at the link.

As Lawrence O’Donnell pointed out last night, people who are already supporting Hillary are unlikely to be swayed by reports about her health, and Trump supporters are unlikely to switch sides because his racism and incompetence. They like him because they are racists too. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who fails to reject Donald Trump after the shocking things he has said over the last year is obviously supporting his racism.

Photo of abandoned one-room schoolhouse

Photo of abandoned one-room schoolhouse

Another bit of positive news from the WaPo: Middle class incomes had their fastest growth on record last year.

The incomes of typical Americans rose in 2015 by 5.2  percent, the first significant boost to middle-class pay since the end of the Great Recession and the fastest increase ever recorded by the federal government, the Census Bureau reported on Tuesday.

In addition, the poverty rate fell by 1.2 percentage points, the steepest decline since 1968. There were 43.1 million Americans in poverty on the year, 3.5 million fewer than in 2014.

The share of Americans who lack health insurance continued a years-long decline, falling 1.3 percentage points, to 9.1 percent.

The numbers, from the government’s annual report on income, poverty and health insurance, suggest the recovery from recession is finally beginning to lift the fortunes of large swaths of American workers and families. The Obama administration and its allies immediately hailed them in glowing terms.

“This exceeds the strong expectation that I already had,”  Jason Furman, the chair of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, said in an interview, in which he called the income report the strongest ever from the Census Bureau. “The news here is the growth rates. I’ve read the last 21 reports, including this one. I have never seen one like this, in terms of, everything you look at is what you’d want to see or better.”

Trump keeps saying that America is in decline and everything about our country is terrible. But he’s just lying like he does about everything under the sun.

More Congresspeople are going on Cable news to defend Hillary. Here’s a great segment with Black Caucus Chairman Rep Gregory Meeks. Keep an eye on the facial expressions of the woman interviewer.

David Fahrenthold has a new piece today that demonstrates the Trump campaign’s confusion about how foundations and charities work: Donald J. Trump Foundation is Trump’s money, his campaign manager says. No.

Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, was asked on CNN this morning to provide evidence to prove Trump’s claim that he has given generously to charity.

She didn’t.

In the process, Conway also seemed to be unaware of a key fact about Trump’s personal charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation.

Which is: The Trump Foundation’s money doesn’t actually come from Trump’s own pocket.

“Donald Trump has been incredibly generous over the course of his life,” Conway told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota.

“With his own money?” Camerota asked.

“With his own money, and his foundation’s money — which is his money,” Conway replied.

Platte Valley Summer, by Dale NIchols

Platte Valley Summer, by Dale NIchols

Wow. If you’ve been following Fahrenthold’s research, you know how completely wrong that is. Please go read the whole thing.

Here’s a strange suggestion that can’t be ignored because of the person who made it. Again from the WaPo: The man who discovered CTE thinks Hillary Clinton may have been poisoned.

Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who has made the NFL so uncomfortable with his discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the brains of deceased players, suggests that Hillary Clinton’s campaign be checked for possible poisons after her collapse Sunday in New York.

Omalu, whose story was famously told in the movie “Concussion,” made the suggestion on Twitter, writing that he advised campaign officials to “perform toxicologic analysis of Ms. Clinton’s blood.”

Omalu suggests that with the Russian interference in the 2016 election this is something to be concerned about.

I doubt if it’s true, but what’s the harm in checking it out? We’ve seen some unbelievable things happening this year.

That will have to do it for me today. I may add more links in the comment thread. 


Lazy Saturday Reads: Political Incorrectness For Me, But Not For Thee

Good Afternoon!!

Well, Hillary’s gone and done it now. And her base is fired up! Last night at the LGBT for Hillary gala in NYC, she told the truth about Trump supporters last night, and the Trump campaign and the white male media are reaching for their smelling salts and swooning onto their fainting couches. Outrage!

Trump supporters have spent months yelling “lock her up” and “hang the bitch” whenever Trump mentions her name in his rallies. When he mentions President Obama, they scream “he’s a Muslim.” But when Hillary talks about their ugly bigotry, they’re suddenly innocent victims and “hard working Americans.”

Trump rally in Mobile, Alabama

Trump rally in Mobile, Alabama

Guess what? There are millions of hard working Americans who are not white bigots. The simple truth is that anyone who supports Trump at this point is aligning him or herself with racism and xenophobia. That is Trump’s entire platform. He doesn’t have any realistic plans to bring jobs to working people, and he plans to lower taxes on the rich so much that there will be zero federal money to do anything about jobs, infrastructure and the other fake items in his talking points.

Abby Philip of the Washington Post last night: Clinton: Half of Trump’s supporters fit in ‘basket of deplorables.’

Hillary Clinton said Friday that “half” of Donald Trump’s supporters could be grouped in “the basket of deplorables” at a fundraising event in New York City.

“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables’. Right?” Clinton said to applause and laughter from the crowd of supporters at an LGBT for Hillary fundraiser where Barbra Streisand performed. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.”

Man at Trump rally

Man at Trump rally

“And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up,” she added.

Clinton then noted, as she has several times in the past, that Trump has “given voice” to white supremacist and anti-Semitic voices on the Internet.

“He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric,” Clinton said. “Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.”

Of course that’s not all she said.

“That other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change,” Clinton said. “It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different.

“They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead end,” Clinton said. “Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

Oh my God! How dare Hillary call out the racists and white supremacists who not only flock to his rallies, but also inhabit the highest levels of his campaign? Although the media didn’t cover it very well, she gave an entire speech on this topic last month. Some excerpts:

From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia.

He is taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party.

His disregard for the values that make our country great is profoundly dangerous.

In just this past week, under the guise of “outreach” to African Americans, Trump has stood up in front of largely white audiences and described black communities in such insulting and ignorant terms:

“Poverty. Rejection. Horrible education. No housing. No homes. No ownership. Crime at levels nobody has seen.” Right now,” he said, “you walk down the street and get shot.” [….]

A man with a long history of racial discrimination, who traffics in dark conspiracy theories drawn from the pages of supermarket tabloids and the far, dark reaches of the internet, should never run our government or command our military.

Hillary Clinton at last night's LGBT for Hillary gala.

Hillary Clinton at last night’s LGBT for Hillary gala.

Ask yourself, if he doesn’t respect all Americans, how can he serve all Americans?

Now, I know some people still want to give Trump the benefit of the doubt.

They hope that he will eventually reinvent himself – that there’s a kinder, gentler, more responsible Donald Trump waiting in the wings somewhere.

Because after all, it’s hard to believe anyone – let alone a nominee for president  – could really believe all the things he says.

But the hard truth is, there’s no other Donald Trump. This is it.

Maya Angelou, a great American whom I admire very much, she once said: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Were any of the white reporters who are so outraged today paying attention to that speech? Right now Hillary is the only person who can save this country from being taken over by a racist populist demagogue who publicly expresses admiration for strongman leaders like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un.

We’ll see what happens with this, but I hope Hillary doesn’t back down. In fact the percentage of “deplorables” in Trump’s audiences is probably greater than 50 percent.

Here are a couple of article from June about the Trump “coalition.”

Vox: The easiest way to guess if someone supports Trump? Ask if Obama is a Muslim.

You can ask just one simple question to find out whether someone likes Donald Trump more than Hillary Clinton: Is Barack Obama a Muslim? If they are white and the answer is yes, 89 percent of the time that person will have a higher opinion of Trump than Clinton.

That’s more accurate than asking people if it’s harder to move up the income ladder than it was for their parents (54 percent), whether they oppose trade deals (66 percent), or if they think the economy is worse now than last year (81 percent). It’s even more accurate than asking them if they are Republican (87 percent).

Those results come from the 2016 American National Election Study (ANES) pilot survey. My analysis indicates that economic status and attitudes do little to explain support for Donald Trump.

These results might be rather surprising since most political commentators have sought to root Trump’s appeal in the economic anxieties of working-class whites. As George Packer recently wrote in the New Yorker:

The base of the [Republican] Party, the middle-aged white working class, has suffered at least as much as any demographic group because of globalization, low-wage immigrant labor, and free trade. Trump sensed the rage that flared from this pain and made it the fuel of his campaign.

Other analysts, however, have found that support for Trump is rooted in animosity and resentment toward various minority groups, especially African Americans, immigrants, and Muslims.

Read more at the link.

cyoglhdwyaao6do

The Atlantic: Donald Trump’s Coalition of Restoration.

[A] survey by the non-partisan Public Religion Research Institute, and the center-left Brookings Institution, measures Americans’ attitudes about a broad range of issues relating to immigration and demographic change. Consistently, the poll found that Trump supporters view the changes with greater—often much greater—alarm than not only Democrats or independents, but also Republicans who did not support Trump during the GOP primaries. In all, the survey shows that Trump was lifted by a coalition that largely believes the America it has known is under siege—and that unprecedented measures are required to reverse the threat.

According to figures provided to me by PRRI, Trump supporters (including both Republicans and GOP-leaning independents who backed him during the primary) are more likely than Democrats, independents or other Republicans to say that they worry about being a victim of terrorism or violent crime; that they are bothered when they hear immigrants talking in a language other than English; that discrimination against whites is as great a problem as discrimination against minorities; and that American and Islamic values are inherently at odds. Fully 80 percent of Trump voters say that immigrants are more burden than benefit to America; just 27 percent of Democrats, 41 percent of independents, and 53 percent of other Republicans agree.

Often the contrast between Trump supporters and all other adults widened further when the poll measured those who hold these positions most vehemently. Fully 44 percent of Trump supporters, for instance, said they “completely agree” it bothers them when they hear immigrants speaking a language other than English; less than half as many independents, Democrats, or non-Trump-supporting Republicans agreed. Likewise, while about two-fifths of Trump Republicans “completely” agreed that “because things have gotten so far off track in this country, we need a leader who is willing to break some rules,” less than one-fifth of Democrats, independents, and other Republicans concurred.

That instinct helps explain the broad support in Trump’s coalition for his edgiest proposals; indeed, the poll makes clear that Trump triumphed not in spite of his most polarizing ideas, but largely because of them. Roughly four-fifths of Trump supporters say they back his plans to build a wall with Mexico, to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the country, and to bar Syrian refugees. In each case, between 43 and 47 percent of Trump supporters back those ideas strongly.

TERRE HAUTE, IN - MAY 01: Guests wait in line before Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses a rally at the Indiana Theater on May 1, 2016 in Terre Haute, Indiana. Trump is campaigning in Indiana ahead of the state's primary election on May 3.  (Photo by Charles Ledford/Getty Images)

TERRE HAUTE, IN – MAY 01: Guests wait in line before Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses a rally at the Indiana Theater on May 1, 2016 in Terre Haute, Indiana. 

Republicans are now trying to claim that this is Hillary Clinton’s “47 percent moment.” Bullshit! From Daniel Politi at Slate: Why It’s Ridiculous To Call Clinton’s “Basket of Deplorables” Her “47 Percent” Moment.

Hillary Clinton has straight out called Donald Trump a racist who is “offering a dog whistle” to the most extremist, hateful portions of American society. But now Republicans are acting very shocked that Clinton would say that around half of Trump’s supporters could be classified under the broad heading “basket of deplorables,” meaning racists, sexists, homophobes or xenophobes. In other words people who would never vote for Clinton.

The Democratic presidential candidate’s use of the word “half,” immediately made Republicans associate it with Mitt Romney’s infamous “47 percent” line from the campaign that was secretly recorded. Except, you know, this event was covered by the press and her statement—read in context—was actually a call to arms for her supporters not to automatically dismiss someone as irredeemable just because he or she happens to support someone like Trump.

As is evident from the remarks, what Clinton was saying is that not all Trump supporters are racists, xenophobes or homophobes, a common thinking in particularly liberal circles. So “if you know anybody who’s even thinking about voting for Trump, stage an intervention,” Clinton said before adding that getting people to stop supporting the Republican candidate “may be one conversion therapy I endorse.” [….]

[In 2012] Romney talked down and dismissed the importance of poor people while Clinton talked down to and dismissed racists, xenophobes, and homophobes. A slight difference. Plus, Romney was talking about people who may have actually chosen to support him whereas Clinton was referring to people who in no way would vote for her. So the risk of alienation really isn’t that great to begin with, although of course it could make the most fervent Trump supporters more fervent.

Please don’t back down, Hillary! You are right, and the media will disparage you no matter what you say or do. Thank you for standing up for Americans who don’t want our country to be led by a disgusting racist, white supremacist,  and wannabe dictator.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a wonderful weekend!


Thursday Reads #LaueringTheBar

hillary-clinton-matt-lauer-commander-in-chief-forum-2016-ap-640x480

Good Morning!!

Last night’s “Commander-In-Chief Forum” on NBC and MSNBC was way beyond pathetic. Matt Lauer is not a serious journalist, and why he was picked to moderate is a mystery. Even Chuck Todd or Rachel Maddow might have done a better job.

But just imagine if Joy Reid had been chosen to moderate. I have no doubt she would have asked fairer questions and would have been willing and able to fact-check Donald Trump’s lies. She would very likely have asked Hillary Clinton some serious questions about foreign affairs instead of spending 10 minutes cross-examining her on emails and then repeatedly interrupting and bullying the first woman candidate for POTUS as Lauer did.

This morning #LaueringTheBar is trending on Twitter, and Lauer is being skewered everywhere. What an embarrassment for NBC, a once-great network! For anyone who didn’t see Lauer’s disgraceful performance, you can read the entire transcript at Time Magazine.

Some choice tweets:

In a forum devoted to veterans’ affairs, Lauer never asked Trump about his attacks on the Khans, or his multiple draft deferments.

I could go on and on, but I want to share some more substantive reactions to last night’s media debacle (mostly just links).

Jonathan Chait: Matt Lauer’s Pathetic Interview of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump Is the Scariest Thing I’ve Seen in This Campaign.

I had not taken seriously the possibility that Donald Trump could win the presidency until I saw Matt Lauer host an hour-long interview with the two major-party candidates. Lauer’s performance was not merely a failure, it was horrifying and shocking. The shock, for me, was the realization that most Americans inhabit a very different news environment than professional journalists. I not only consume a lot of news, since it’s my job, I also tend to focus on elite print-news sources. Most voters, and all the more so undecided voters, subsist on a news diet supplied by the likes of Matt Lauer. And the reality transmitted to them from Lauer matches the reality of the polls, which is a world in which Clinton and Trump are equivalently flawed.

Lauer focused a third of his questioning time on Clinton’s private email server. Her decision to follow Colin Powell’s advice is a legitimate blot on her record. But Lauer did not move the ball forward on the question in any meaningful way….

The impression an uninformed or even moderately informed viewer would receive from this interview is that the email issue represents a sinister crime, perhaps completely disqualifying from office, rather than an unjustifiable but routine act of government non-transparency.

The email exchange would not by itself be so alarming except when viewed in juxtaposition with Lauer’s hapless interview of Trump. Trump began the interview by boldly insisting, “I was totally against the war in Iraq. You can look at Esquire magazine from 2004. You can look at before that.” This is a lie. Trump has been quoted supporting the invasion beforehand and even afterward. Nobody has produced any evidence of Trump contradicting his support for the war before it started. His line to Lauer was transparently ridiculous – how could a 2004 interview supply evidence of having opposed a war that began in 2003? But Lauer did not try even a single follow-up.

Lauer’s attempt to press Trump was the completely ineffectual technique of asking repeatedly if he is ready to serve as commander-in-chief. Lauer probably believes the answer is no, but nothing about this question would drive home Trump’s extraordinary lack of knowledge. Instead it allowed him to performatively demonstrate his confident, alpha-male reality-show character as a prospective chief executive.

trumplauer_590

More reads on last night’s forum:

Dylan Byers: Critics blast Lauer’s ‘Commander-in-Chief Forum’ performance.

Charles Blow: Donald Trump is Lying in Plain Sight.

NBC News: Barack Obama Urges Americans to Challenge Trump’s ‘Wacky Ideas.’

Politico: ‘Embarrassing to our country’: Trump suggests he’ll fire top generals.

New York Times: Matt Lauer Fields Store of Criticism Over Clinton-Trump Forum.

Washington Post: Donald Trump’s thoroughly strange claim about his Mexico visit.

Huffington Post: Matt Lauer Failed the Moderator Test.

Media Matters: Eight Of The First Nine Questions At NBC’s Commander-In-Chief Forum Are About Hillary Clinton’s Email.

It’s difficult to choose the most shocking thing Donald Trump said last night, but for me, the absolute worse was when he “revealed” information he supposedly learned in his confidential security briefings with the CIA.

LAUER: You recently — you recently received two intelligence briefings.

TRUMP: Yes, I did.

LAUER: Did anything in that briefing, without going into specifics, shock or alarm you?

TRUMP: Yes. Very much so.

LAUER: Did you learn new things in that briefing?

TRUMP: First of all, I have great respect for the people that gave us the briefings. We — they were terrific people. They were experts on Iraq and Iran and different parts of — and Russia. But, yes, there was one thing that shocked me. And it just seems to me that what they said President Obama and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, who is another total disaster, did exactly the opposite.

LAUER: Did you learn anything in that briefing — again, not going into specifics — that makes you reconsider some of the things you say you can accomplish, like defeating ISIS quickly?

TRUMP: No, I didn’t learn anything from that standpoint. What I did learn is that our leadership, Barack Obama, did not follow what our experts and our truly — when they call it intelligence, it’s there for a reason — what our experts said to do. LAUER: Hallie?

TRUMP: And I was very, very surprised. In almost every instance. And I could tell you. I have pretty good with the body language. I could tell they were not happy. Our leaders did not follow what they were recommending.

WTF?! In the first place, the candidates are not supposed to talk about anything that happened in those briefings, and in the second place, Trump is claiming that professional CIA officers somehow signaled to him that President Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and current Secretary of State John Kerry have ignored their advice and that the CIA is upset about it? Last night Andrea Mitchell said she believed the intelligence community would have to respond to Trump’s bizarre claims.

I heard on MSNBC that the intelligence community is pushing back on this, but I haven’t seen any published articles about that yet.

This morning, Hillary Clinton held a press conference–the third day in a row she has answered questions from the media. Here’s the whole thing.

 

Hillary was asked about Trump’s remarks about the security briefings and whether she agreed with him about their contents. She replied simply that she would never say anything about what happened in confidential intelligence briefings. I thought she was relaxed and dignified and gave straightforward answers. I guess we’ll find out later how the media participants evaluate the press conference.

 

I have two more stories I want to highlight that aren’t about last night’s candidate “forum.”

Mother Jones: Clinton Campaign Says There Is a “Direct Link” Between Trump and Russian Hackers.

A Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman says a new article in the New York Observerestablishes a “direct link” between the Donald Trump campaign and the hacker or hackers who have recently penetrated the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and other high-profile Democratic officials.

On Tuesday, the Observer published a piece maintaining that the DCCC had coordinated—presumably improperly—with the Hillary Clinton campaign in 2015. The story, written by a freelance contributor named Michael Sainato, cited “an internal DCCC memo” leaked to the Observer from Guccifer 2.0—the handle of the hacker or hackers who have successfully targeted these Democratic committees. The Observer is owned by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has been a top adviser to the Republican presidential nominee.

Shortly after the post went up, Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted: Russian hackers now leaking directly to Jared Kushner’s paper. Trump campaign not even being subtle anymore https://twitter.com/observer/status/773252856740741120 

In an email to Mother Jones, Fallon elaborated on his tweet: “Guccifer 2.0 is known to be the Russians. And now that they are leaking materials obtained from their hacking to Trump adviser Jared Kushner’s newspaper, that’s a pretty direct link between Trump and the Russians behind this hack.”

Kushner is married to Ivanka Trump and has become an influential figure within Trump’s political team.

Glen Caplin, another spokesman for the Clinton campaign, issued a more complete statement: “The Russians have become even more brazen in their effort to influence the election by leaking documents to Trump adviser Jared Kushner’s newspaper for publication. Trump’s longtime confidant Roger Stone has already admitted he’s in contact with Julian Assange, who has been exposed for actively aiding the Russians. And both Stone and Assange are promising more leaks targeting Clinton as the election approaches, something Donald Trump actively invited. This is a national security issue and every American deserves answers about potential collusion between Trump campaign associates, WikiLeaks and the Kremlin.”

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Matt Olsen at Time Magazine: Why ISIS Supports Donald Trump. (Hillary recommended this article last night during the forum and this morning during her press conference.)

In recent months, ISIS has made clear that it’s closely following this election, too—and it has chosen a candidate. Interviews with ISIS members and analysis of social media, including in a recentForeign Affairs article by Mara Revkin and Ahmad Mhidi, make it clear: “ISIS is rooting for Trump.”

This year, ISIS isn’t simply a passive observer of American politics. Since the group’s rapid rise in 2014, ISIS has established a far-reaching, sophisticated propaganda machine. Its members rely on social media to shape public opinion, recruit new members and mobilize followers to carry out attacks. Now, some of them are using those channels to advocate for Trump. In August, one ISIS spokesman wrote: “I ask Allah to deliver America to Trump.” Another supporter declared: “The ‘facilitation’ of Trump’s arrival in the White House must be a priority for jihadists at any cost!!!” ISIS is working to drum up support for the candidate it has called “the perfect enemy.”

That may come as a surprise to some. After all, Trump has spent this election season making a series of combative and bellicose comments on terrorism—from his pledge to kill the families of terrorists, his plans bring back torture of suspected terrorists and his call toban all Muslims from entering the United States. But the truth is, Trump’s statements and extreme policies aren’t just contrary to our values—they play right into the hands of ISIS.

Please read the rest at the link above.

So . . . what else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread and have a terrific Thursday!