Monday Reads: How is this even a Thing? I try to fully Celebrate Black History Month this year

RL Barnes, Ph.D. ‏ @DigitalHistory_ 24 Oct 2018 More “In 1828, T.D. “Big Daddy” Rice, a struggling white actor, made his New York stage debut. With a single dialectical song performed in blackface, his routine radically transformed the cultural landscape of North America.”

Well, it’s Monday Sky Dancers and it’s never too late to learn new things unless you’re Donald Trump.

The appalling way women have been historically treated was one of the hallmarks of the last two years. The #MeToo movement led to a very differently looking congress in 2018. The #BlackLivesMatter movement went back front and center yesterday at the Super Bowl.

It’s Black History month and it’s time to find teachers and take lessons.  It’s also evidently time to relearn a few lessons some people failed to get the first million times out.

I’m fully beginning to think that the next election will be about the historically shameful way that Black people have been treated up to and way pass the Emancipation Proclamation and the enfranchisement of Black men into the voting populace in 1870 with the passing of the 15th Amendment.  Virginia has once again taken center stage.

How can a man my age think that participating in any form of black face as an adult in any manner during–at the very least–the back half of the 20th century forward think that’s not an offense that should cause you to resign your position as Governor of the state that basically was ground zero for American slavery?  How can a Democratic leader who relied on votes from African Americans not do the right thing?  When will Virginia Governor Ralph Northram resign?

The drumbeat spread to the state’s public universities. The College of William and Mary on Monday announced that Northam would not attend Friday’s inauguration of new president Katherine Rowe, saying in a statement that “the Governor’s presence would fundamentally disrupt the sense of campus unity we aspire to and hope for with this event.”

University of Virginia president James Ryan issued a statement Sunday suggesting that Northam should resign, saying that if a leader’s “trust is lost, for whatever reason, it is exceedingly difficult to continue to lead. It seems we have reached that point.”

On Sunday night, the governor met with senior staffers of color to discuss his future following two days of defiance against the national clamor that he should resign. People familiar with that meeting said Northam had not reached a decision.

It was unclear who was present, but the group did not include Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), who would become governor if Northam resigned, the people said. One Democratic official said the meeting was emotional in tone.

Calling the Sunday night meeting was a clear signal of Northam’s effort to weigh support within the administration as he evaluates his options. Although he pledged Saturday to stand his ground, he also said he would reconsider if he thought he could no longer be effective.

Though blackface was the No. 1 entertainment form throughout the United States in the 19th century, it has a particularly notable legacy in Virginia. The first globally famous minstrel troupe hailing from New York City rebranded itself as the Virginia Minstrels in 1843. Dan Emmett, the group’s founder, understood his minstrel troupe needed to project a sense of authentic, stereotypical blackness. Virginia, a state that imported enslaved Africans as a colony as early as 1619, embodied the complex relationship between blackface entertainment, slavery and American culture in a single word. The troupe did not just borrow Virginia’s brand, but shaped it: Its song “Dixie” became the unofficial Confederate anthem.

That legacy can be seen in the history of blackface at the University of Virginia, founded and designed by another Virginia governor: Thomas Jefferson. Virginia was a state built on enslaved labor, and U-Va. was no different. Beginning in 1830, the university would “hire out” enslaved people from the surrounding area. Eventually, U-Va. purchased humans like “Big Lewis” Commodore in 1832 at auction for $580, permanently separating him from his family.

Virginia’s slave empire ended when African American slaves fought for their freedom in the Civil War. After 1865, Lewis Commodore was free. But when slavery disappeared, fundraising with amateur blackface minstrel shows and city minstrel parades emerged. They featured fictionalized blackface slaves and their Klansman counterparts — a pairing on display in the Northam photo — to sustain Virginia’s infrastructure and segregated economy, as well as to inculcate new generations into a form of white supremacy associated with collegiality, school spirit and patriotism.

Over the weekend, BB introduced me to Dr RL Barnes and her area of research which is basically the not so subtle and the subtle ways that the Institutions of this country remind every one of what racists think is the “place” of Black Americans in their own country.  It’s also about how some of us passively, stupidly, and naively go along with it and internalize it.

I remember poring over literature, laws, and popular culture in the 1970s discovering how language, pictures, stories, and culture all work together to keep women in their “place”.  As a teenager and young adult, it became very freeing to be able to point these things out and to discover it wasn’t all in your head that menfolk and their enabling women were out to get you.

I knew there was similar things in place for people of color including all the stereotypes of Native Americans, Hispanics, and African Americans that culture, the law, and society can feed you.  I’m beginning to read stories of friends much the same way I read stories of friends screaming Me Too.

Over the weekend, I learned that decorating with recently picked cotton bolls was and is a thing.  Oh, this is not making faking spider webs with synthetic batting and its use isn’t the innocent thing that Way Fair, Hobby Lobby and others are making it out to be. 

There was also a history of casually tossing bags of them on to the lawns of “inconvenient” neighbors which seems a bit like something the KKK would do.  How is this a thing?

Bridging that gap requires unpacking why, for many black people and people of color, raw cotton is a symbol of racial terror.

Cotton represents the product of a system that required slave labor to function. More recently, perpetrators of racial intimidation have used cotton as a symbol of their hatred. Before white robes became the uniform, some KKK members wore ceremonial hornsstuffed with cotton. Two white men seeking to intimidate and unsettle members of the University of Missouri’s Black Culture Center littered the front lawn of the Center with cotton balls. The word even fills the mouths of students who bully their black peers by calling them “cotton pickers.”

Jasmine Gales, a black woman and social activist in Nashville, explains how this context translates into the contemporary mindset of many people of color:

“Black people’s association with the cotton plant is an obvious one of trauma and suffering,” she wrote for The Tennessean. “In being culturally sensitive to the history of African-Americans which includes slavery and the free labor of cotton harvesting, an institution wouldn’t choose to display it at a dinner meant to uplift the black experience.”

The individuals who reacted defensively or dismissively to the cotton complaints either ignored this context or were ignorant of it entirely. If there wasn’t an explicitly racist motive behind the design choice, they reasoned, then it wasn’t a problem.

Neither perception reflects an absolute truth. But the chorus of naysayers trying to drown out the voices of two black women reflects a power dynamic that must inform a culturally responsive interpretation.

So, I was horrified back in 1986 when the CJ Howell movie “Soul Man” came out. Haven’t seen it. Wouldn’t see it. Still can’t believe some one released and funded it and filmed it.  It had obvious implications for my generation because of the Bakke Supreme Court decision in 1978 and my experience with busing and integration prior to that in and around 1973.  There were mad white people every where about those decisions but I kind’ve wrote it all off to crazy white uneducated southern white trash and didn’t really explore it.  Well, I’m exploring it now and finding that my assumptions were naive.  Well, stupid if you really want the truth

There is, of course, no acceptable way for deeply unacceptable films to reach their merciful conclusions. But Soul Man manages to confound even one’s worst expectations. Before Mark’s big reveal to the campus, Gordon assumes the role of a pseudo-defense attorney, flipping the script on the product-of-his-environment argument. Mark, he argues, was brought up to be selfish and entitled, the product of an upper-crust white family in the suburbs. “Can you blame him for the color of his skin?”

For some reason, James Earl Jones’s character agrees with the assessment, and is even amused by Mark’s stunt. “You must have learned a great deal more than you bargained for through this experience,” he remarks, grinning. “I didn’t really know what it feels like, sir,” adding, “If I didn’t like it, I could always get out.”

That line is the movie’s nauseating coup de grâce, intended to justify the fact that Mark gets off with little more than a slap on the wrist for his deception. He tells Jones’s character that he wants to finish his law degree to “do some work that might be of use to someone.”

Mark’s happy ending prefigures a new era of racist film: the 21st-century white savior flick, a future constant in multiplexes and on Oscar ballots.

The deal is this.  The blackface thing in that Virginia med school during the 1980s wasn’t an outlier. It was evidently another one of those “things” that I had no clue was a thing.  I’m fortunate to know many New Orleans Writers and bloggers including a young black woman whose outrage at a cottonball decoration introduced me to more subtle ways that white culture continues to terrorize Black Americans.

My friend and blogger at The American Zombie reminded me this weekend that Tulane had a similar incident. One of the guys that was involved ran unsuccessfully for governor of Louisiana and now owns one of the state’s two big Newspapers. 

I thought it prescient to repost this story today to remind folks that institutionalized racism is still alive and thriving behind the closed doors of collegiate fraternities throughout the South.  Also to point out that the universities themselves should not be blamed.  As evident in my story, Tulane struggled for years to separate the DKE’s from the school’s namesake going so far as to kick them off campus and not recognize them as an official fraternity.  They existed as an independent entity living off-campus until the cancer finally died out around the late 90’s, or at least it went into remission. I would hope it’s dead but judging by the impenitent attitudes of the former DKE’s in the comment section of my post I would assume an entire new generation of kids are now carrying their fathers’ prejudices with them under alternate letters of the Greek alphabet.

My favorite dodge in that comment section was the DKE alum who tried to convince me that the noose in the 1975 yearbook picture was actually a tire swing sans tire:


A “tire swing sans tire” hanging twenty-something feet in the air would lead me to believe all these guys were on the Tulane pole vaulting team.  And how, exactly, did the tire disappear from the noose?  The tire split before the rope did? No one thought to ask, “Hey…you know…we have a noose hanging in our yearbook picture…should we take that down?”  What a load of shit. 

University of Oklahoma president David Boren voiced his distaste with the actions of the SAE’s but he may have a hard time eradicating the fraternity from the campus if he so chooses.  Once again, I don’t want to blame the educational institution itself, the actions of these fraternities do not represent the morals of the body wh ole.  Anyway, here’s the story, reposted:

State Sen. Ernie Chambers (2017)

You may read Jason Brad Berry’s 2010 story at this link.  I was in college at the University of Nebraska at the time. I was in grad school at the time of Northram’s adventure.  I personally know of no one in my circle that would’ve done anything remotely like that even though I did witness a number of horrifying angry white people during the Omaha Public Schools “busing” policy’s start.

I grew up knowing that Omaha purposefully designed its interstate system to isolate the black part of town that provided the  only black representative in the state’s unicameral.  His voice was powerful and pissed off that powers that be for decades which frankly thrilled me to pieces. Senator Ernie Chambers turned 80 in 2017 and his legacy will be a forever thing there.  Still, finding  all this stuff went on with me totally unwoke embarrasses me and made me extremely sad. Senator Chambers was my primary teacher on racism until I moved to New Orleans.  I  have found I need more teachers. I need to learn more about these things that I did not know were a thing.

As I delve more into Black history with so many motivations that it’s hard to unwind them all, I turn to this “How Frederick Douglass Harnessed the Power of Portraiture to Reframe Blackness in America”.  Douglass knew the power of an image before nearly any one.

For Douglass, this was no happy accident. Today, he is remembered as an influential advocate of emancipation and civil rights, a legacy defined by his best-selling autobiographies and powerful speeches. But what has largely been forgotten is the way he deftly manipulated the power of images to advance his cause.
To put it simply, Douglass was a photography buff. He penned four speeches expounding upon the medium throughout his life—one more than the man considered the Civil War era’s most prominent photo critic. He held Louis Daguerre, the inventor of the daguerreotype, in great esteem for broadening photography’s appeal beyond the upper class. Because of daguerreotypes, Douglass claimed, “the humblest servant girl may now possess a picture of herself such as the wealth of kings could not purchase fifty years ago.” He viewed photography as the most democratic of the arts.
He also believed deeply in its objectivity. “For Douglass, photography was the lifeblood of being able to be seen and not caricatured, to be represented and not grotesque, to be seen as fully human and not as an object or chattel to be bought and sold,” says Celeste-Marie Bernier, co-author of Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century’s Most Photographed American (2015).
Photography was the perfect tool for a man trying to rewrite racial prejudices in the United States, and Douglass sought out every opportunity to be captured. With each portrait, he could present America with an additional image of blackness that contradicted the prevailing racist stereotypes.

Zulu 1937
The king of Zulu rides on his float.

The last time I really thought about the history of blackface was back when there was discussion of the role of Zulu and the incredible racist roots of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras. Here’s something you may want to read about the krewe and its signature looks from New Orleans investigative paper The Lens

It’s hard to measure the scope of Zulu’s influence on what the Times-Picayune’s Doug MacCash has called the “new” Mardi Gras, and on what I have called the restoration of carnivalesque carnival, after the dark ages of the white supremacist anti-carnival ushered in by the Mystick Krewe of Comus in 1857. It’s a remarkable testament to the resilience of carnival spirit that, in the midst of the white supremacist era, when Comus, Momus, Proteus, and Rex ruled the day, the Zulu king first stepped off a banana boat in the New Basin canal wearing a lard can crown. The date: 1909.

That’s why it’s so upsetting — also a bit absurd — when people who have no understanding or appreciation for carnival aesthetics and social analysis chime in from hundreds of miles away with self-righteous finger-wagging. What they’re about is shaming traditions that are far more revolutionary than they are able to comprehend.

That’s exactly what has happened this year, when Tales of the Cocktail founder Ann Tuennerman went up on Facebook with a picture of herself in Mardi Gras regalia and since then, after taking flack for it, has been agonizing through a multi-part act of public contrition. Tuennerman’s sin is to have had the temerity to accept the great honor of riding in the Zulu parade on Mardi Gras morning, wearing the traditional mask of Zulu blackface.

I say “Zulu blackface” because the style of blackface worn by Zulu riders is distinct from other forms of blackface viewed as offensive due to their history as a tool of white supremacist ideology. One of the distinctive visual features of Zulu blackface is an enlarged white eye on one side of the face, which can be seen in depictions of the Zulu Big Shot as well as on Tuennerman’s face in her much-maligned social media posting. In the world of totalitarian expression — the opposite of carnivalesque expression — such nuances of signification go unnoticed.

typically clueless (and arrogant) response to Ann Tuennerman’s posting came from Chicago’s Nikkole Palmatier: “I have a problem with the blackface entirely. As do most people outside of the New Orleans tradition. Just as those who live outside of Cleveland think the Indians logo is racist and the term ‘Redskins’ is racist.”

Yeah. Just let that sink in for a minute. It’s hard to conceive of a more egregiously false analogy than this. Are the Cleveland Indians and Washington Redskins actually Native American institutions, founded, owned, and staffed, at all levels, by Native Americans?

Palmatier’s argument leads us to question whether Zulu’s iconography should be practiced by anyone, not just whether Zulu should accept white riders. And that’s a whole other can of worms. It calls into question the extent to which black people should be allowed agency in representing their own experience; it also places limits on how black people themselves choose to enunciate anti-racist arguments.

There’s also the Spike Lee film “Bamboozled” for an interesting take.  This film was made in 2000.

I feel this year that I need to unpack a lot more about black history and experience than reading inspirational speeches by the Rev Dr. Martin Luther King, jr.  We’ve all seen the images of black stereotypes that were prevalent in the pre Civil Rights era.  I’ve only used the original “Jim Crow” here but we likely all know many more.  For me, it’s time to learn some of the deeper stories and to listen more about how this country continually dehumanizes our Black Americans.

I intend to fully celebrate Black History month.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

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Sunday Reads: Quickly

 

 

And the new season is upon us…I’m not talking GoT…

Obama ‘new blood’ remark has different meaning for Biden  | TheHill

Former President Obama’s talk about how politics need “new blood” is being seen as a blow to Joe Biden, the former vice president that Obama did not back to succeed him in 2016.

[…]

…Obama and Biden as friends…

[…]

…recent remarks like the one Obama made this week in Hawaii represent a sort of threat to Biden, who has told allies in recent days that he’s likely to enter the 2020 presidential race.

Obama was speaking broadly about the need for new blood in politics, not specifically the need for new blood in the Democratic Party.

But coming on the heels of Obama’s meeting with former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas), a rising Democratic star who most political observers see as competing with Biden for a slice of the primary electorate, it also sent a signal to the wider political world.

The remark and the burgeoning flirtation between Obama’s political network and O’Rourke also stings Biden given the 2016 campaign, when Obama backed Hillary Clinton and nudged the vice president away from the race, insiders say.

Blah, blah, blah. Then there is this actual quoted dialogue about how much Obama loves “Joe” …seriously:

“The president loves this guy, loves Joe, thinks the world of him. He would go in a battle ditch with Joe but that’s different than giving his brand to him,” one ally of Obama’s said in describing the political dynamic and the former president’s actions.

“He has an incredible soft spot for him. And I’m sure he’ll do everything he can to make Joe feel good, but he won’t come out and make Joe his candidate,” the ally said. “And I think that hurts Joe.”

Poor Joe Biden. I don’t know why I started this post off with this little nugget from the Hill. Perhaps, it was the way they are already framing Biden in this coming blood sport of the Democratic Presidential Primaries. If you read the rest of the article, it once again brings up Hillary…and how she stole Joe’s chance back in 2016, by gaining Obama’s support. Considering the fucking horrible display the press has given Warren and Harris, the mysoginistic treatment we saw of Hillary back in 2008 and 2016 will be nothing compared to what the women candidates will face this time around.

This, for me at least, makes the case for an even for bolder Dem ticket in 2020:

 

An all women ticket.

 

Yes, I am for a full kitty administration. Fuck all these dickheads who have gotten us where we are today!

This is an open thread.


Sunday Reads: New Years Wish

^My New Year’s Wish ^

 

 

Now for some interesting tweets:

 

 

 

 

 

Regarding the Kelly interview this morning:

 

 

 

And I want to end with this:

Fuck Yes!

And what is with all this Beto shit! Stacy Abrams ran a hell of a campaign…and came damn close to winning, even with all the possible illegal voter suppression that Kemp succeeded in achieving while acting as Secretary of State and running for Governor. She has a future ahead of her, but like Harris…she is a black woman.

This is an open thread…


Monday Reads: The End is Nearing!

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I believe the end of our national nightmare may be coming to an end.  Yes, part of me really wants this to happen badly because I’m extremely tired of reading things like that useless wall plowing through a National Butterfly refuge and that children are dying in ICE custody because his base is a bunch of racist xenophobes and all  plus the rest of the horrid things he’s been up to. But, I’m old and I’ve been through this before.  Nixon resigned right after I graduated High School.  I’m seeing many of the same signs that his days may be numbered.  Oh, yes, the pictures are from our National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas (Hildago County along the Rio Grande).

Timothy O’Brien–writing for Bloomberg–explains how and why KKKremlin Caligula is in a ‘legal vise’.  There is not one thing that the Trump Family crime syndicate owns or has been involved in that’s not under investigation by some component of our Justice System.

As President Donald Trump and his lawyers turn toward the new year, they’ll have to contend with a legal narrative that’s taken fuller shape through a flurry of court filings and news reports that began landing about three weeks ago and extended through Friday afternoon: Members of Trump’s presidential campaign – and possibly “Individual 1” himself – may have orchestrated a number of criminal conspiracies that took root before and during the 2016 presidential campaign, continued after Trump won the election, and have tainted the White House’s policies and torn at its operations ever since.

The breadth of investigations is so sweeping – as many on social media and reporters with the Washington Post, the Associated Press, and Bloomberg News have already noted – that few of the worlds Trump inhabits have escaped prosecutors’ attention. The Trump Organization, the Trump Foundation, the Trump family, the Trump campaign, the Trump transition, the Trump inauguration, and the Trump White House are all being probed for wrongdoing.

The Trump team’s possible collusion with Russia to sabotage and tilt the 2016 election, a probe spearheaded by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, pulls many strands of the investigations together. Trumplandia’s intersection with Russia may have started with business propositions more than a decade ago (such as the Trump SoHo hotel and condominium), and included more recent undertakings like a project in Moscow, before evolving into a political partnership during the 2016 campaign after Trump’s presidential prospects brightened.

A senate report details the incredibly complex and twisted the interference of Russian in the 2016.  The presidential election was so tight in key electoral states that it’s very difficult to not see that the Trump Presidency is not a legitimate one.  I can only imagine what the final Mueller report will elucidate.

 

 

Seriously, did he legitimately achieve the office?  This is by Marc Fisher writing for WAPO.  Between the Russian interference and the payoffs and suppression of affairs, who can say?

As if the country didn’t have enough to be divided about, now the forces aligned for and against President Trump are battling over whether his presidency is legitimate.

The evidence emerging in recent days and months of crimes committed to help Trump win the presidency is fueling arguments from Democrats and other Trump critics that the man in the Oval Office got the job through nefarious means. Even without proof that those crimes swayed votes, the critics say Trump has no moral hold on the office.

In the past week, the legitimacy debate has swelled with each new court filing in cases stemming from the investigations into Trump’s 2016 campaign.

First came the statement by federal prosecutors in New York that Trump attorney Michael ­Cohen “sought to influence the election from the shadows” by arranging to pay hush money to women who said they had extramarital affairs with Trump. Then, on Tuesday, executives at the National Enquirer’s parent company admitted paying hush money to prevent news of the candidate’s alleged infidelities “from influencing the election.”

In Congress, in the media and among activists, criticism of Trump is increasingly taking the form of arguments that he won office fraudulently — especially as the hush-money revelations have landed atop allegations by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team that Russian agents engaged in a criminal scheme to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy.

“People don’t actually really consider Trump a legitimate president,” former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean said on MSNBC last month. “He was obviously elected and all this business, but he does not represent American values.”

Back to the Senate report on Russian Interference via WAPO.  It’s pretty clear why Trump feels illegitimate and seeks to prove his election every time he speaks.

A report prepared for the Senate that provides the most sweeping analysis yet of Russia’s disinformation campaign around the 2016 election found the operation used every major social media platform to deliver words, images and videos tailored to voters’ interests to help elect President Trump — and worked even harder to support him while in office.

The report, a draft of which was obtained by The Washington Post, is the first to study the millions of posts provided by major technology firms to the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), its chairman, and Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), its ranking Democrat. The bipartisan panel hasn’t said whether it endorses the findings. It plans to release it publicly this week.

The research — by Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project and Graphika, a network analysis firm — offers new details of how Russians working at the Internet Research Agency, which U.S. officials have charged with criminal offenses for interfering in the 2016 campaign, sliced Americans into key interest groups for targeted messaging. These efforts shifted over time, peaking at key political moments, such as presidential debates or party conventions, the report found.

The data sets used by the researchers were provided by Facebook, Twitter and Google and covered several years up to mid-2017, when the social media companies cracked down on the known Russian accounts. The report, which also analyzed data separately provided to House Intelligence Committee members, contains no information on more recent political moments, such as November’s midterm elections.

“What is clear is that all of the messaging clearly sought to benefit the Republican Party — and specifically Donald Trump,” the report says. “Trump is mentioned most in campaigns targeting conservatives and right-wing voters, where the messaging encouraged these groups to support his campaign. The main groups that could challenge Trump were then provided messaging that sought to confuse, distract and ultimately discourage members from voting.”

It appears they specifically targeted Black voters.  This is from NBC News’ Ken Delianian

Two separate reports on the operation were prepared for senators, both of which were obtained by NBC News. Both sets of researchers found, as Mueller did, that the Internet Research Agency set out in the 2016 presidential election to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, in part by inflaming right-wing conspiracy theories and seeking to engender distrust among — and suppress the vote of — left-leaning groups, including African-Americans.

The Russians set up 30 Facebook pages targeting black Americans, the researchers found, and 10 YouTube channels that posted 571 videos related to police violence against African-Americans. YouTube, which is part of Alphabet, the holding company for Google, was not correct when it said in a statement last year that Russian content did not target a segment of U.S. society, the researchers concluded.

The Russians also set up hotlines that encourage people to discuss sexual or other personal problems the researchers found, raising the possibility they could use the information later to blackmail people. Through deceit, the Internet Research Agency recruited many Americans to take various political actions, the researchers found.

The post that drew the most attention featuring Trump emerged on Jan. 23, 2017, after his inauguration — a conspiracy theory asserting that President Barack Obama had refused to ban Sharia Law and encouraging President Trump to take action. It was shared 312,632 times from a page created by Russian propagandists.

The top post featuring Clinton came a month before the election, the researchers found — a soup of conspiracy theories alleging that she would win because of voter fraud and alluding to an armed uprising. It received 102,253 engagements, which can be anything from likes and shares to comments.

“This newly released data demonstrates how aggressively Russia sought to divide Americans by race, religion and ideology, and how the IRA actively worked to erode trust in our democratic institutions,” said Senate Committee on Intelligence chairman Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.

Frankly, Senator Burr, the same could be said about the Republican Party. This is why I agree with Melissa at Shakesville

From Melissa:

What’s crucial to understand about this dynamic is that none of it would have been possible without decades of groundwork laid by the Republican Party.

It would not have been possible had the Republican Party not, for example, critically undermined the sort of corporate regulation that would have prevented the monopolies and the vacuum of oversight in which social media giants proliferated, with zero accountability to the populations they exploited in reckless cash grabs.

It would not have been possible had the Republican Party not, for example, ruthlessly fomented divisions among the U.S. populace, which created fissures into which any bad actor could shove their own crowbar to create massive breaks.

It would not have been possible had the Republican Party not, for example, abandoned their responsibility of good governance, willing instead to compromise the security of the nation — and ultimately its sovereignty — in order to win.

We’re just beginning to see the connections between the NRA, Russian Money, the Republicans, and elections. What other Republicans will be found with Russian money and connections besides Dana Rohrbacher?  A new poll suggests no one believes Trump now. When will that extend to the rest of his cronies?  From NBC News: Poll: 62 percent say Trump isn’t telling the truth in Russia probe. More Americans want Democrats — not Trump — in charge of setting policy, a new national NBC News/WSJ poll finds.

Six in 10 Americans say President Donald Trump has been untruthful about the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, while half of the country says the investigation has given them doubts about Trump’s presidency, according to a new national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

The survey, conducted a month after the results of November’s midterm elections, also finds more Americans want congressional Democrats — rather than Trump or congressional Republicans — to take the lead role in setting policy for the country.

And just 10 percent of respondents say that the president has gotten the message for a change in direction from the midterms — when the GOP lost control of the U.S. House of Representatives but kept its majority in the U.S. Senate — and that he’s making the necessary adjustments.

Polls like these are likely to stick the more news we get from all these investigations.  How long can the party ignore them?  The Plum line argues that Trump’s been weakened.

Stephen Miller, the Trump kingdom’s Immigration Iago, wants you to believe that his boss retains great leverage in the ongoing government shutdown fight — so much so that he will, repeat will, get his great border wall. Miller, a top White House adviser, said Sunday that President Trump will “do whatever is necessary” to force Democrats to cough up the $5 billion he wants for the wall and will “absolutely” shut down the government to get it.

In reality, it’s not even clear that Trump has sufficient Republican support to get his wall money out of Congress. The New York Times now reports that Republicans aren’t even sure that this funding would pass the House, because many Republicans who were defeated in the midterms might not bother showing up to vote for it.

Wait, this cannot be! Miller, after all, spent much of his “Face the Nation” appearanceexcoriating Democrats over the wall. Democrats have instead offered far less in border security funding, with restrictions against spending it for that purpose. Miller suggested Democrats have the weaker position, claiming they must “choose to fight for America’s working class, or to promote illegal immigration.”

Wow, what a powerful message! That must be the same message that carried Trump and House Republicans to a great midterms victory! Oh wait, the opposite happened. This has gone down the memory hole, but last summer, Miller vowed that precisely that same contrast on immigration would prove potent for Republicans. They ran the most virulently xenophobic nationalist campaign in memory — and lost the House by the largest raw-vote margin in midterm elections history.

The meta-message that Miller hoped to convey is that Trump retains formidable strength in the shutdown battle over the wall, but the real story right now is that Trump is weakened. He lacks leverage in the shutdown fight, and it’s plausible that he’s losing influence over congressional Republicans.

So, how far can the party take the policy of dead and imprisoned immigrant children with tattoed numbers waiting to seek legal refuge and ravaged butterfly sanctuaries?  My guess is that everything but the tweets go dark in the six week hold up at Mar a Lago.   The NJ one is under investigation by the state so it seems he’s got few options to hide out these days.  He’ll have sixteen days to stew and discuss what to do with all the other out of touch greedos.

Meanwhile, I just hope we clear him out before he can do any more damage.  But, then there’s Pence …

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 

 


Sunday Reads: How long must we wait?

 

After reading Boston Boomer’s post yesterday about all this…shit, it makes me even more disturbed.

I am not able to work my thoughts into words lately.  Maybe it is the fact that nothing or no one will hold this nightmare accountable…and that we are this close to having a cancerous monstrosity of this administration appointed for a lifetime membership to the Supreme Court. Together with Gorsuch…Kavanaugh and the rest of the conservative members will change our lives as Americans. The impact will be fatal. In an all to literal sense. It will solidify tRump…he will get away with everything. (And this is not pushing it too far, would tRump even take it to announcing himself…president for life?) Would Kavanaugh just nod and say, sure…it is within his executive rights?

I’m tired of being Chicken Little, or a Cassandra…but nothing gives me hope.

Here’s a few links you may have missed:

This article was recommended by Sarah Kendzior:

Some more issues with Women’s Tennis:

At U.S. Open, power of Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka is overshadowed by an umpire’s power play – The Washington Post

Chair umpire Carlos Ramos managed to rob not one but two players in the women’s U.S. Open final. Nobody has ever seen anything like it: An umpire so wrecked a big occasion that both players, Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams alike, wound up distraught with tears streaming down their faces during the trophy presentation and an incensed crowd screamed boos at the court. Ramos took what began as a minor infraction and turned it into one of the nastiest and most emotional controversies in the history of tennis, all because he couldn’t take a woman speaking sharply to him.

Williams abused her racket, but Ramos did something far uglier: He abused his authority. Champions get heated — it’s their nature to burn. All good umpires in every sport understand that the heart of their job is to help temper the moment, to turn the dial down, not up, and to be quiet stewards of the event rather than to let their own temper play a role in determining the outcome. Instead, Ramos made himself the chief player in the women’s final. He marred Osaka’s first Grand Slam title and one of Williams’s last bids for all-time greatness. Over what? A tone of voice. Male players have sworn and cursed at the top of their lungs, hurled and blasted their equipment into shards, and never been penalized as Williams was in the second set of the U.S. Open final.

 

We can only hope something good can come out of November:

And what about that plaid shirt guy?

And by the way:

Meanwhile…

 

Latest update on Florence:

17 years, is a long ass time!

Check out this tweet from Pasco Sheriff’s office…

And what the fuck is with the brown sock monkey?

In relation to that….

 

I want to end with this news out of Dallas…

 

This is an open thread.


Sunday Reads: “Sanctions that didn’t exist before this regime took office.” – Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State.

 

 

A lot of shit went down this week, the reason I chose to highlight the quote up top is simply because of the key word: Regime.

Many news outlets made quite a point about Mike Pompeo’s Freudian slip, referring to the tRump Administration as “this regime.”

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER Senate Grills Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Aired 4:30-5p ET CNN.com – Transcripts

“Sanctions that didn’t exist before this regime took office.” – Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State.

Now, I read the transcript…link above, and honestly…I don’t know what the fuck “regime” Pompeo is talking about; so much bullshit is spewing from his mouth. But if he is indeed referring to tRump…he spoke the words we all know to be true.

I think the following sentiment has been mentioned before:

 

Take a look at this thread, it deals with Stein and Sanders and Tad Devine…and only strengthens my belief in #FuckBernieSanders :

Here is another long thread to check out, about my state…Georgia and the asshole named Kemp currently running for Governor:

A few tweets that continue to question the 2016 elections.

Here are some associations with tRump and his “friends” ….including the folks that perhaps Putin may have wanted to be excluded from sanctions?

Treasury May Drop Sanctions on a Company Owned by One of Putin’s Allies – Mother Jones

The Trump Administration may lift sanctions on a major Russian company founded by one of Vladimir Putin’s top allies.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnunchin told reporters during G-20 meeting of Finance Ministers last week, that the department may remove sanctions on Rusal, an international aluminum company that controls an estimated 6 percent of the global market that has long been controlled by Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska is a Putin confidant who has been implicated in suspected coordination between Moscow and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, but he has repeatedly denied involvement. As Reuters reported, the department is mulling the move in the wake of a sharp increase in aluminum prices that followed Trump‘s imposition of a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports.

“The objective was to impact the oligarchs, not to impact the hardworking people of Rusal as a result of the sanctions,” Mnunchin told CNN, which reported the comments on Friday.

In April, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on Deripaska and Rusal, along with 24 other Russians, in a delayed action aimedat punishing Russia for interfering the 2016 election. Under the sanctions, the US assets of the individuals and firms listed are frozen, and American citizens are barred from doing business with them. Deripaska was specifically singled out for “having acted or purported to act for, or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, a senior official of the Government of the Russian Federation.”

Updates on tRump’s crimes against humanity:

The latest on that 6 year old who was assaulted at a detention center…she has been reunited with her family.

A 6-Year-Old Detainee Was Reportedly Made to Sign a Responsibility Form After She Was Allegedly Sexually Abused at a Facility | Teen Vogue

A 6-year-old girl was allegedly sexually abused while at an Arizona-based detention center, The Nation reports. The child, who The Nation refers to as D.L., reportedly left Guatemala with her mother because of gang violence; they were separated at the U.S. border on May 24, as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. The 6-year-old was then placed in Casa Glendale, a detention center run by Southwest Key Programs.

According to The Nation, D.L.’s father (who lives in California) received a phone call from Southwest Key on June 11, telling him that another child in the detention center had allegedly “fondled” his daughter and other children. Mark Lane, a spokesperson representing D.L.’s family, told The Nation that the 6-year-old’s father was instructed “not to worry” because “Southwest Key was changing some of its protocols and such abuse would not happen again.” (The report notes that several weeks later, D.L.’s father received another phone call, alerting him to a second instance of alleged abuse by the same suspect.)

The Nation also reports that D.L. was asked to sign a form that was part of the detention center’s “intervention protocol.” The form, a copy of which was obtained by The Nation, noted that D.L. was instructed to maintain her “distance from other youth involved,” and that she was made aware it was her “responsibility to maintain appropriate boundaries with peers/workers.” The document also noted that it was D.L.’s “responsibility to report sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and/or inappropriate sexual behavior.”

 

 

Boston Boomer mentioned this yesterday in the comments:

 

But this is really the disgusting part:

How Catholic Bishops Are Shaping Health Care In Rural America | FiveThirtyEight

07_catholic hospitals_GEOGRAPHY 4x3_rev

Almost as soon as President Trump took office, he began rolling back health care rules that had angered religious groups for much of the last decade. First, Trump signed an executive order declaring that his administration would protect religious freedom. Then, his administration ruled that health insurance plans offered by large employers don’t have to cover contraception for employees, an about-face from a contentious Obama policy. The Department of Health and Human Services created a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, signaling a new focus for the agency. A proposed rule could require all 5,500 hospitals in the U.S. to post notices informing individuals and entities that they are protected from religious discrimination.

The changes are all designed to ensure that employers, health care institutions and providers don’t have to participate in health care practices they object to for ethical or moral reasons. But even decades before the Trump administration moved to roll back Obamacare policies, some religious hospitals — in particular, Catholic hospitals — already had the green light from the government to deny certain treatment options to their patients. These hospitals’ right to refuse care is generally unquestioned, creating a dilemma for the people who walk in the door: What happens when you need or want a standard medical service, but the hospital won’t provide it?

In a growing number of communities around the country, especially in rural areas, patients and physicians have access to just one hospital. And in more and more places, that hospital is Catholic. That sounds innocuous — a hospital is a hospital, after all. But Catholic hospitals are bound by a range of restrictions on care that are determined by religious authorities, with very little input from medical staff. Increasingly, where a patient lives can determine whether Catholic doctrine, and how the local bishop interprets that doctrine, will decide what kind of care she can get.

This is worrying news:

I lit candles for Lewis this morning…I hope he gets better…

 


Wednesday Reads: Lies Lies Lies

 

About that ridiculous shit show from tRump yesterday:

 

‘Did the dog eat his homework too?’ CNN’s Erin Burnett slams Trump – Business Insider

In a scathing opening monologue on Tuesday, CNN anchor Erin Burnett slammed President Donald Trump’s explanation that he misspoke during a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Damage control, the president claims he misspoke once in his disastrous summit with Putin,” Burnett said on CNN. “Did the dog eat his homework too?”

During his press conference with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, Trump initially said he did not “see any reason why” Russia would be responsible for meddling in the 2016 US Presidential election. When asked if he would condemn Russia for its election interference, Trump refused to back the US intelligence community’s assessment, and instead, railed against the FBI and his political opponents.

“My people came to me … They said they think it’s Russia,” Trump said at the summit on Monday. “I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia.”

“I will say this,” Trump added. “I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

After a wave of critics from both parties criticized his remarks, Trump backtracked his comments and said in a tweet that he had “GREAT confidence” in the US intelligence community.

“How stupid does Trump think we Americans are?,” Burnett said in her monologue. “The president’s excuse for his embarrassing press conference where he sided with Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence chiefs does not add up.”

 

Trump’s handwritten notes spotted on Russia statement – YouTube

Trump Adds Notes in Margins of Written Statement on Russian Meddling: ‘THERE WAS NO COLUSION’ | Mediaite

President Donald Trump couldn’t help but add one of his favorite phrases to staff-prepared remarks today.

When trying to convince the world that he actually meant to say he saw no reason it “wouldn’t” be Russia who interfered in the 2016 elections rather than “would,” the notes written in the margins of his prepared remarks – in all caps and in big, black Sharpie – read “THERE WAS NO COLUSION.”

Now, given how many times the president has seen and spat the word “collusion,” you’d think he’d know how to spell it at this point. Even more than the flimsy-at-best explanation of his remarks, perhaps this ought to alarm us, as it indicates beyond a doubt that no matter how familiar Trump appears to be with something, he refuses to absorb correct information about it.

One more thing about the statement tRump made yesterday:

Gloria Borger: Trump looked like he was in a hostage tape – YouTube

She is not the only one to bring up that point, that tRump looked like a hostage reading off a prepared document…I thought the same thing when I saw the tape.

And just a couple more tweets:

Yeah, curlygramma is right…Maddow’s show was awesome last night.

So simple and very true, why not hold hearings on all those questions that we ask daily here on the blog?

Then there was this horror news breaking on The Last Word:

Read the alert at the bottom of the screen on the picture in this tweet:

Fucking hell…let me say that again…fucking hell!

 

 

 

Cartoons, if you please:

07/17/2018 Cartoon by Nate Beeler

Cartoon by Nate Beeler -

CONSISTENT PRES: 07/17/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - CONSISTENT PRES

07/17/2018 Cartoon by Bob Gorrell

Cartoon by Bob Gorrell -

Helsinki Summit: 07/17/2018 Cartoon by Mike Keefe

Cartoon by Mike Keefe - Helsinki Summit

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 07/17/2018 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Helsinki Summit: 07/17/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Helsinki Summit

07/17/2018 Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

07/17/2018 Cartoon by J.D. Crowe

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe -

07/17/2018 Cartoon by Joel Pett

Cartoon by Joel Pett -

07/13/2018 Cartoon by Joel Pett

Cartoon by Joel Pett -

07/14/2018 Cartoon by Joe Heller

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

Check out the date on that one.

Trump meeting with Vladimir Putin ventriloquist: 07/17/2018 Cartoon by David G. Brown

Cartoon by David G. Brown - Trump meeting with Vladimir Putin ventriloquist

Summit Gift: 07/17/2018 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Cartoon by Paul Fell - Summit Gift

07/16/2018 Cartoon by Matt Wuerker

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

HELSINKI “SUMMIT”: 07/16/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - HELSINKI "SUMMIT"

07/15 Mike Luckovich: Cozy time.

 

07/17 Mike Luckovich: Advanced puppetry

 

07/18 Mike Luckovich: What I really meant.

 

 

 

 

Bashing our Allies: 07/16/2018 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Bashing our Allies

 

 

 

Those lies are gonna get ya!

This is an open thread.