Sunday Reads: R-E-S-P-E-C-T …Take a knee

The cartoon above was a good one…

There is a lot I would like to say, but without internet or cell service…it is difficult to get any thoughts or words of protest out there.

Hell, it is impossible to read the blog. So, since I’m writing this post blind…I hope that everyone is fine.

Here’s a few tweets to start the post,

I will end with this tweet, because it expresses exactly how I have felt about taking a knee from the very beginning …

It was never a question of disrespect. The players did not turn their backs on the flag. Ugh!

This is an open thread.

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Sunday Reads: Broflake

Fuck Irma.

I don’t think it will replace my usual phrase, that being: Fuck Bernie Sanders. (I mean my iPhone knows that is what I’m typing once I get to the fuc…because it begins to suggest the ending…zip and easy, 1,2,3…Fuck Bernie Sanders.

We have been staying at Vogel State Park…my daughter works for the DNR…there at Vogel, and I really do not know what we would do without the park’s generosity. My mom’s biopsy is tomorrow…and on Friday we find out if she needs to resume her chemotherapy.

Internet and cell service is not strong here, in fact…we barely have a connection on either service. So the post is going to be a quick one.

I thought this Instagram picture below would get your attention. It sure got mine. And it introduced me to the term “broflake.”

“On the radar: broflake” by @OxfordWords

http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2017/07/on-the-radar-broflake/

Check that entry out…it gives the source of the word snowflake and more on the term, broflake.

All you need is LOVE. By Michael Owen in Baltimore. Follow: @theblonde

A post shared by StreetArtGlobe (@streetartglobe) on

Well, we have moved into the other cabin…this one has zero wifi and cell. I will have to end the post here. It is going to be a rough time ahead.

This is an open thread.


Wednesday Reads: Big Mouth … Speak Up

Sorry, let’s make this an open thread.


Friday Reads: Grappling with Religious & Right Wing Nuttiness

Good Afternoon!!

I don’t know what’s worse these days.  Trump himself or the increasing wingnuttery he’s bringing to our government.Fascism and the ideologies of white supremacists and bigoted, anti-science christofacists have a strong friend in 45 who sees them as an adoring mob. They are popping up every where in the few jobs he’s tried to fill. Several of them are joyfully taking us back to the Dark Ages. Here are a few recent moves that should worry us.

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The oldest living confederate widow continues to place the DOJ in support of bigotry. “In major Supreme Court case, Justice Dept. sides with baker who refused to make wedding cake for gay couple.” This is just another example of the absolute glee with which the AG goes after the rights of every one who doesn’t look like him.

In a major upcoming Supreme Court case that weighs equal rights with religious liberty, the Trump administration on Thursday sided with a Colorado baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

The Department of Justice on Thursday filed a brief on behalf of baker Jack Phillips, who was found to have violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act by refusing to created a cake to celebrate the marriage of Charlie Craig and David Mullins in 2012. Phillips said he doesn’t create wedding cakes for same-sex couples because it would violate his religious beliefs.

The government agreed with Phillips that his cakes are a form of expression, and he cannot be compelled to use his talents for something in which he does not believe.

“Forcing Phillips to create expression for and participate in a ceremony that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs invades his First Amendment rights,” Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey B. Wall wrote in the brief.

People have a right to believe what ever nonsense they want to under our first amendment and to not have those beliefs disrupted by the government. However, they do not have the right to use those beliefs to oppress others and that appears to be the case with most of these folks.  They can’t keep it to themselves and to their personal lives. They have to punish the rest of us with it.

This approach to your beliefs–that you’re a strict adherent to whatever–that your beliefs preclude you from doing your job without inflicting it on the rest of us is popping up in the Senate hearing of an appellant Court Judge who is a strict Catholic. This has implications for many of the rights of people who do not carry the same beliefs. A judge is  government appointed to uphold secular rule of law. Should one person’s nuttery guide every one else’s pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness?

Dianne Feinstein sat alongside other senators at a hearing on Wednesday and questioned two federal appellate-court nominees. She was particularly anxious about Amy Coney Barrett, a law professor at Notre Dame: Feinstein was not convinced that Barrett would uphold Roe v. Wade given her traditional Catholic beliefs.

“The dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein said. “And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.”

While recent Senate hearings have skirted the boundary of posing religious tests for public servants, raising constitutional questions, something more complicated seemed to be going on here. Sheldon Whitehouse, the Democratic senator from Rhode Island, expressed frustration that Barrett and her fellow nominee at the hearing, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen, refused to discuss how their personal beliefs might shape their legal thinking. He and the other Democratic senators seemed to believe that religious convictions affect how judges apply the law. “To sit here and pretend that there is no role for people’s personal and private views … when they go to the court—it’s just, it’s so preposterous as to be silly,” Whitehouse said.

As conservative, often religiously motivated positions on issues like gay marriage and banning abortion increasingly become out of step with popular opinion and legal precedent, this boundary between personal conviction and legal fidelity is going to become even tricker to navigate. What’s the line between examining a nominee’s religious convictions and believing those convictions disqualify her from serving the country?

You cannot live in a democratic society without a live and let live philosophy.  Keeping to your own personal beliefs should not mean condemning and preventing others from exercising theirs. Crazy religious fundamentalists are also stopping progress on Climate Change in this country.  What can we do to stop these people from encroaching on common sense, modernity, and policy that would improve the lives of millions?

Just a day before Donald Trump announced he would withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, ExxonMobile shareholders voted for the company to come up with a plan to address climate change. When even oil companies that have long opposed environmentalism are in favor of reducing carbon emissions, why is the Trump administration set against those policies? The answer may lie in the fact that for many religious fundamentalists, a belief in God’s omnipotence and infallibility is what orders their existence—a conviction that can overrule economic incentives or earthbound politics.

Philip Schwadel is a sociologist at the University of Nebraska who studies how Americans’ attitudes about religion and politics change from generation to generation. For a study published in April, he reviewed decades of polling data to try and figure out the most likely predictor for thinking that global warming was not a major problem. Schwadel concluded that biblical literalism—or the belief that the Bible is the word of God —is what’s keeping Americans from an agreement to fight climate change.

His paper in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion analyzed 18,083 survey responses from 1983 to 2012 in which people answered the question, “Which of these statements comes closest to describing your feelings about the Bible?” Evangelical Protestants make up about 20 percent of the US population, and according to Schwadel’s study, 55 percent of people who identify as evangelical answered that question with, “The Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word.” Overall, he found that white people who chose that answer were the most likely to de-prioritize environmental spending and not think climate change was something to worry about.

There are an estimated 35 million biblical literalists in the United States. These people—who may think, for instance, God intends for the Earth to end like it’s written in Revelation anyway, so who am I to intervene?— are incredibly hard to convert to the cause of fighting climate change. Pleas from secular scientists and journalists are going to fall on deaf ears; the two sides end up mostly talking past each other.

Those fundamentalists represent a fairly tiny minority in the US—a little more than 10 percent of all Americans. But enabled by fossil fuel money, religious climate change deniers have acquired massive amounts of political influence, to the point that some conservative politicians who favor fighting climate change are allegedly afraid to speak up. And several biblical literalists are in Trump’s cabinet, which surely had something to do with the president’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement in June.

This is happening just as a time when the number of White self-identified Christians is dwindling.  Yet, with the party of white supremacy and its current torch holder we see their radical agenda driving policy.

The future of religion in America is young, non-Christian and technicolor.

Almost every Christian denomination in the U.S. shows signs of growing diversity as white Christians, once the majority in most mainline Protestant and Catholic denominations, give way to younger members, who tend to be of different races, according to a study released Wednesday (Sept. 6) by the Public Religion Research Institute.

And American evangelicals — once seemingly immune to the decline experienced by their Catholic and mainline Protestant neighbors — are losing numbers and losing them quickly.

Americans are also continuing to move away from organized religion altogether, as atheists, agnostics and those who say they do not identify with any particular religion — the group known as the “nones” — hold steady at about one-quarter (24 percent) of the population.

The study, “America’s Changing Religious Identity,” contacted 101,000 Americans in 50 states, and has an overall margin of error of plus or minus 0.4 percentage points. And while the survey spotlights transformations afoot in many religious groups, it also shows a seismic shift for a long-standing American religious powerhouse: white evangelicals.

“This report provides solid evidence of a new, second wave of white Christian decline that is occurring among white evangelical Protestants just over the last decade in the U.S.,” said Robert P. Jones, PRRI’s CEO and author of “The End of White Christian America.”

“Prior to 2008, white evangelical Protestants seemed to be exempt from the waves of demographic change and disaffiliation that were eroding the membership bases of white mainline Protestants and white Catholics,” he said.

“We now see that these waves simply crested later for white evangelical Protestants.”

Their numbers have led to enabling the crusade of Kremlin Caligula against all things Barrack Obama. You absolutely must read this essay in The Atlantic by  TA-NEHISI COATES.    It’s a long read with lots of data and brilliant analysis.

It is often said that Trump has no real ideology, which is not true—his ideology is white supremacy, in all its truculent and sanctimonious power. Trump inaugurated his campaign by casting himself as the defender of white maidenhood against Mexican “rapists,” only to be later alleged by multiple accusers, and by his own proud words, to be a sexual violator himself. White supremacy has always had a perverse sexual tint. Trump’s rise was shepherded by Steve Bannon, a man who mocks his white male critics as “cucks.” The word, derived from cuckold, is specifically meant to debase by fear and fantasy—the target is so weak that he would submit to the humiliation of having his white wife lie with black men. That the slur cuck casts white men as victims aligns with the dicta of whiteness, which seek to alchemize one’s profligate sins into virtue. So it was with Virginia slaveholders claiming that Britain sought to make slaves of them. So it was with marauding Klansmen organized against alleged rapes and other outrages. So it was with a candidate who called for a foreign power to hack his opponent’s email and who now, as president, is claiming to be the victim of “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history.”

In Trump, white supremacists see one of their own. Only grudgingly did Trump denounce the Ku Klux Klan and David Duke, one of its former grand wizards—and after the clashes between white supremacists and counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, Duke in turn praised Trump’s contentious claim that “both sides” were responsible for the violence.

The largest narrative in this piece tears apart the media narrative that no one understands the poor white working man.   It delves into the demographics of Trump vs. Hillary voters and the false narrative that the Democratic Party ignores the working class.

The focus on one subsector of Trump voters—the white working class—is puzzling, given the breadth of his white coalition. Indeed, there is a kind of theater at work in which Trump’s presidency is pawned off as a product of the white working class as opposed to a product of an entire whiteness that includes the very authors doing the pawning. The motive is clear: escapism. To accept that the bloody heirloom remains potent even now, some five decades after Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down on a Memphis balcony—even after a black president; indeed, strengthened by the fact of that black president—is to accept that racism remains, as it has since 1776, at the heart of this country’s political life. The idea of acceptance frustrates the left. The left would much rather have a discussion about class struggles, which might entice the white working masses, instead of about the racist struggles that those same masses have historically been the agents and beneficiaries of. Moreover, to accept that whiteness brought us Donald Trump is to accept whiteness as an existential danger to the country and the world. But if the broad and remarkable white support for Donald Trump can be reduced to the righteous anger of a noble class of smallville firefighters and evangelicals, mocked by Brooklyn hipsters and womanist professors into voting against their interests, then the threat of racism and whiteness, the threat of the heirloom, can be dismissed. Consciences can be eased; no deeper existential reckoning is required.

This transfiguration is not novel. It is a return to form. The tightly intertwined stories of the white working class and black Americans go back to the prehistory of the United States—and the use of one as a cudgel to silence the claims of the other goes back nearly as far. Like the black working class, the white working class originated in bondage—the former in the lifelong bondage of slavery, the latter in the temporary bondage of indenture. In the early 17th century, these two classes were remarkably, though not totally, free of racist enmity. But by the 18th century, the country’s master class had begun etching race into law while phasing out indentured servitude in favor of a more enduring labor solution. From these and other changes of law and economy, a bargain emerged: The descendants of indenture would enjoy the full benefits of whiteness, the most definitional benefit being that they would never sink to the level of the slave. But if the bargain protected white workers from slavery, it did not protect them from near-slave wages or backbreaking labor to attain them, and always there lurked a fear of having their benefits revoked. This early white working class “expressed soaring desires to be rid of the age-old inequalities of Europe and of any hint of slavery,” according to David R. Roediger, a professor of American studies at the University of Kansas. “They also expressed the rather more pedestrian goal of simply not being mistaken for slaves, or ‘negers’ or ‘negurs.’ ”

This is the same narrative realized in the dynamics of the flee to the Republican Party by Dixiecrats summed up by LBJ.

The night that Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Actof 1964, his special assistant Bill Moyers was surprised to find the president looking melancholy in his bedroom. Moyers later wrote that when he asked what was wrong, Johnson replied, “I think we just delivered the South to the Republican party for a long time to come.”

It may seem a crude remark to make after such a momentous occasion, but it was also an accurate prediction.

To understand some of the reasons the South went from a largely Democratic region to a primarily Republican area today, just follow the decades of debate over racial issues in the United States.

(Original Caption) Only Jeff Davis is Missing. Birmingham, Alabama: Mrs. Beulah Waller, 77, of Byron, Ga., wildly waves a confederate flag as Dixie Democrats go about the business of seceding from the Democratic Party. The rump convention, called after the Democrats had attached President Truman’s civil rights program to the party platform, placed Governor J. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and Governor Fielding L. Wright of Mississippi in nomination. Eugene “Bull” Conner, city commissioner of Birmingham, is at extreme right.

You can read or watch more on this at the History Channel in a special on the Civil Rights movement and the signing of Civil Rights legislation in 1964. There is actually plenty of evidence that Pastors and not Politicians turned Dixiecrats Republicans. The wing nuttery of the Trumpsters is the wing nuttery of white supremacists wrapped up in a warped form of fundamentalist christianity. They are both forms of facism and they are natural allies.

Crediting the Nixon campaign with the flight of Southern conservatives from the Democratic Party dismisses the role Southerners themselves played in that transformation. In fact, Republicans had very little organizational infrastructure on the ground in the South before 1980, and never quite figured out how to build a persuasive appeal to voters there. Every cynical strategy cooked up in a Washington boardroom withered under local conditions. The flight of the Dixiecrats was ultimately conceived, planned, and executed by Southerners themselves, largely independent of, and sometimes at odds with, existing Republican leadership. It was a move that had less to do with politicos than with pastors.

Southern churches, warped by generations of theological evolution necessary to accommodate slavery and segregation, were all too willing to offer their political assistance to a white nationalist program. Southern religious institutions would lead a wave of political activism that helped keep white nationalism alive inside an increasingly unfriendly national climate. Forget about Goldwater, Nixon or Reagan. No one played as much of a role in turning the South red as the leaders of the Southern Baptist Church.

There is still today a Southern Baptist Church. More than a century and a half after the Civil War, and decades after the Methodists and Presbyterians reunited with their Yankee neighbors, America’s largest denomination remains defined, right down to the name over the door, by an 1845 split over slavery.

Spirituality may be personal, but organized religion, like race, is a cultural construct. When you’ve lost the ability to mobilize supporters based on race, religion will serve as a capable proxy. What was lost under the banner of “segregation forever” has been tenuously preserved through a continuing “culture war.” A fight for white nationalism and white cultural supremacy has in some ways been more successful after its transformation into an expressly religious, rather than merely racist crusade.

You can also see the Republican Party’s drive to disenfranchise people of color by their crusade removing access to Voting. Disenfranchising racial minorities and limiting poll access is key to White hegemony. Kris Kobach is obsessed with the idea that outsiders are still elections in traditionally white voting enclaves that Kobach believes must’ve been stolen because after all, all white people think like him except the minority rotting away in big cities.  He’s also being empowered by the Kremlin Kaligula Krewe.

Writing for Breitbart, Kobach picks up a story from the Washington Times about voting in New Hampshire last year. That state has been a focus of voter-fraud conspiracy theories for two primary reasons: (1) It was close and (2) Trump didn’t win it. (In Michigan, a state he did win and where the percentage-point margin was even narrower, no one allied with Trump has raised a question at all. In fact, his lawyers asserted in a anti-recount lawsuit in that state that “all available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.”)

New Hampshire has also been a focus of fraud allegations because it has same-day voter registration, allowing people to show up to a polling place to vote even if they hadn’t registered in advance. This is the focus of the Times piece, and of Kobach’s failing freshman logic paper at Breitbart.

The Times presents numbers released by the Republican speaker of the New Hampshire House, which we quote directly below:

  • 6,540 people registered and voted on Nov. 8, based on presenting out-of-state licenses.
  • As of Aug. 30, about 15 percent (1,014 of the voters) had been issued New Hampshire driver’s licenses.
  • Οf the remaining 5,526, barely more than 200 (3.3 percent) had registered a motor vehicle in New Hampshire.

So: some 5,313 voters registered with out-of-state licenses but hadn’t then registered a car within 10 months.

Now, here’s Kobach:

“So 5,313 of those voters neither obtained a New Hampshire driver’s license nor registered a vehicle in New Hampshire. They have not followed the legal requirements for residents regarding driver’s licenses, and it appears that they are not actually residing in New Hampshire. It seems that they never were bona fide residents of the State.”

And then he’s off to the races: It’s likely that the results of the Senate race are tainted! It’s possible that New Hampshire’s electoral votes went illegally to Hillary Clinton!

John le Carré is an author focused on bringing his experience as a British Spy to cold war spy fiction. He’s given an speech covered by  The Guardian. John le Carré on Trump: ‘Something seriously bad is happening’ Author draws parallels between Donald Trump and rise of 1930s fascism, in rare public appearance at Royal Festival Hall

John le Carré, one of Britain’s greatest living writers,has spoken of the “toxic” parallels between the rise of Donald Trump and the rise of 1930s fascism.

In a rare public appearance, the 85-year-old novelist and former spy spoke of his disdain for Trump and his despair for the US and the wider world.

“Something truly, seriously bad is happening and from my point of view we have to be awake to that,” he told an audience at the Royal Festival Hall in London.

“These stages that Trump is going through in the United States and the stirring of racial hatred … a kind of burning of the books as he attacks, as he declares real news as fake news, the law becomes fake news, everything becomes fake news.

“I think of all things that were happening across Europe in the 1930s, in Spain, in Japan, obviously in Germany. To me, these are absolutely comparable signs of the rise of fascism and it’s contagious, it’s infectious. Fascism is up and running in Poland and Hungary. There’s an encouragement about.”

Even today, Le Carré said, Ang Sang Suu Kyi is speaking of “fake news” in Burma. “These are infectious forms of demagogic behaviour and they are toxic.”

Is it too much to ask that we throw all these ideologies to the ashbin of history in the age of weapons of mass destruction and the ability of mankind to forever scar the planet?  There is no place for these ideas that seek to raise up the self worth and paths of some people over those of others when we need every one’s cooperation to keep the peace and save the planet. It’s not moral to enable them to do it. We must stop this assault on Civil Rights.

What’s on your blogging and reading list today?


Sunday Reads: Good Luck

Images from Texas are disturbing…keep in mind that many of the tweets below are a few hours old.

From what I understand, the folks in that picture above have been rescued.

 

 

 

 

Take a few minutes and read some of the responses to this tweet:

 

 

 

 

The latest news:

Live coverage: Hurricane Harvey continues to batter Texas

 

Houston weather coverage: Houston Weather (@abc13weather) | Twitter

 

3,000 guard troops called up as ‘catastrophic’ Harvey causes deadly floods in Texas – The Washington Post

 

But back to more flood images and videos:

 

 

 

 

 

 

I realize this is practically all twitter links, and I did leave out the news reports of protest and various “rally” things being held around the US today…please feel free to talk about it in the comments…I only wanted to focus on the devastation going on in Texas.

This is an open thread.


Monday Reads: The Great Unravelling

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

It’s another one of those Mondays where there are so many things to do and dig out of that I hardly know where to start.  This has been a year where keeping up with all the unraveling threads is a mythical task.  It requires a Greek deity to find them all and knit them back together.

Countries dependent on rule of law depend on functional institutions, intelligent and skilled participants, and commitment to the many parts and pieces that solidify social bonds.  We know that many of these social bonds and contracts are under attack and that many of the institutions designed to carry out the will of the people as stated in the Constitution are being undermined.  It feels as though we’ve entered a period where many groups have grabbed a loose thread and ran off with it so as to unravel as much as possible.

Much of this has been brought to you by fanatical Republicans and spineless Democrats who rarely take on a good fight and play go along and get along way too much. Republicans are in deep denial if they think all that’s gone on with Kremlin Caligula and Trumpism is not the fruit of their poison tree.

I’m saddened to read so many false equivalencies, whiffs, and denials by Republicans that cannot see that this is what they’ve been nuturing since the implementation of the Southern Strategy.  That link goes to Ben Shapiro who rightly calls out White Supremacists for being White Supremacists but immediately denies any connection or responsibility to feeding those beasts.

The Alt-Right Is Not Conservative. One of the hottest takes from the Left is that the alt-right represents the entire right — that what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia represented conservatives broadly. That’s factually incorrect, and intellectually dishonest. The alt-right is not just conservatives who like memes or who dislike Paul Ryan. The alt-right is a philosophy of white supremacy and white nationalism espoused by the likes of Vox Day, Richard Spencer, and Jared Taylor.

Then, we arrive at this:

6. The Left’s Malfeasance And Support For Violent Groups Like Antifa Grow The Alt-Right. Antifa was violent in Charlottesville.

And so it’s every one that’s not a conservative’s fault for not calling down and pushing out the usual group of anarchists–now designer labelled “antifa” akin to “alt-right”–and not the fault of the Republican Party that’s fed the Alt Right subgroups for decades.

I’m glad to see some one call white supremacists out for what they are.  ‘Alt-Right’ is a squishy mush of nothing. I equally wish we’d drop the new designer label of ‘antifa’  and just call the other nutters there what they are which is the usual assortment of anarchists who show up at everything to create chaos because that’s what anarchists do and want. However, as some one whose pre-defined political life was to identify with Republicans, libertarians and conservatives (forgive me I was a swimming in privilege as a white teen in a red state backwater) I have to remind you that none of this can be disowned by Republicans or movement conservatives.

I understand Ben is more “libertarian” than movement conservative but now that  I’ve decided labels are for cans let me say this.  The Republican Party owns this because they own the Southern Strategy and self-identified conservatives developed and exploited it. That’s something started in the Nixon years and played to the hilt with Ronnie Raygun and his welfare queens meme. It continues with a war against an inner city drug problem –crack–while sympathizing with what is mostly a white, rural phenomenon of meth/opiate addiction. It also includes the party’s take over by crazy religious extremists which are anything but conservative unless you consider theocracy preferable to a republic. We all need to call out the goofs on all sides. I’ve been as vocal in my criticism of kooky Jill Stein and positively worthless and whacky Bernie Sanders as I’ve been all along of Kremlin Caligula. But really, where are the adult Republicans and conservatives in the room when they allow Bannon, Gorka, and Miller into the West Wing?

You think a few folks would be uncomfortable if we’d have seen Jeremiah Wright as a strategist with an office in the West WIng next to the last president? You think Reid what let that happen? Seriously, you cannot dog whistle and appease the kooks and then expect to just brush them off when convenient. Every single Republican Strategist since the Nixon bunch has worked hard on that Damned Southern Strategy. I bailed in the early 90s because none of that damn stuff is what any of us in this country should be about. The Bernie appeasement going on with the DNC is just about as crazy but not quite as evil compared to having spent like 40 decades thinking you can convince a bunch of backwoods Hitlers and Christofascists that you’re going to do their bidding if they just vote for the guys that want to deregulate the government.  That’ a Faustian bargain and if you lay down with devils then you can’t complain when the world points out the horns you’ve sprouted.

Trump talks about his ‘good genes’ constantly. His father was arrested in a KKK rally. He supposedly had a copy of Hitler’s tome next to his bed. His first real support and new AG is the World’s Oldest Living Confederate Widow who has a history of being a walking example of what the Southern Strategy was designed to attract.

So, Trump belatedly gave a speech today on the weekend violence that killed a young woman that was supposed to quell the negative comments about the “on all sides” comments on Saturday.  I’ve never really bought in to the old saying better late than never.  I still don’t.  

President Donald Trump directly condemned white supremacists and neo-Nazis in a statement from the White House Monday afternoon.

“Racism is evil — and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” Trump said in response to the attacks in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.

“Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America,” Trump said.

“As a candidate I promised to restore law and order to our country and our federal law enforcement agencies are following through on that pledge,” Trump said. “We will spare no resource in fighting so that every American child can grow up free from violence and fear. We will defend and protect the sacred rights of all Americans and we will work together so that every citizen in this blessed land is free to follow their dreams, in their hearts, and to express the love and joy in our souls.”

Democrats and Republicans have excoriated Trump for his unwillingness to condemn the groups behind the violent protests that left one woman dead who was allegedly hit by a car driven by a man with ties to white supremacy groups.

After blaming the violence “on many sides” Saturday, Trump stayed silent for close to 48 hours, letting his trademark bluntness and campaign pledges to call terrorism what it is succumb to silence and vagueness.

Trump was asked by reporters after he spoke why he waited so long to condemn these hate groups by name and did not respond.

Feeling comforted yet?  I didn’t think so. The FBI and the DHS have repeatedly warned against the ongoing and escalating threat to our country from domestic terrorists of this ilk. Trump has ignored it and defunded the law enforcement agency studying it and charged with corralling it.

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security in May warned that white supremacist groups had already carried out more attacks than any other domestic extremist group over the past 16 years and were likely to carry out more attacks over the next year, according to an intelligence bulletin obtained by Foreign Policy.

Even as President Donald Trump continues to resist calling out white supremacists for violence, federal law enforcement has made clear that it sees these types of domestic extremists as a severe threat. The report, dated May 10, says the FBI and DHS believe that members of the white supremacist movement “likely will continue to pose a threat of lethal violence over the next year.”

The “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which attracted hundreds of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other members of the so-called alt-right, sparked violent clashes over the weekend. A woman, Heather Heyer, was killed by a car that drove into a crowd of people protesting the rally.

James Alex Fields Jr., the driver of the vehicle that struck Heyer, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

Since the outbreak of violence over the weekend, President Trump has been heavily criticized for not condemning racist groups. “We must remember this truth: No matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are ALL AMERICANS FIRST,” he tweeted.

The FBI, on the other hand, has already concluded that white supremacists, including neo-Nazi supporters and members of the Ku Klux Klan, are in fact responsible for the lion’s share of violent attacks among domestic extremist groups. White supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 … more than any other domestic extremist movement,” reads the joint intelligence bulletin.

The report, titled “White Supremacist Extremism Poses Persistent Threat of Lethal Violence,” was prepared by the FBI and DHS.

The bulletin’s numbers appear to correspond with outside estimates. An independent database compiled by the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute found that between 2008 and 2016, far-right plots and attacks outnumbered Islamist incidents by almost 2 to 1.

So, Republicans can distance themselves from the overt racism of the Alt Right but their policies say something else.  They pass and support voter suppression laws deemed racist by Courts.  They refuse to recognize the complaints on use of force by Police against persons of color and are looking to pass laws to make police brutality less actionable.  They violate the Constitution by trying to punish so-called Sanctuary Cities who refuse to help the Federal Government enforce racist and unnecessary deportation measures.

You undoubtedly can list more.  We keep having to cover this and many other racist and fascist Republican measures that are undoubtedly supported by the Alt Right.  Lawmakers are now trying to make it legal to run over protesters in many states and municipalities.  This is from The Miami Herald.  

The shutdown of highways by protestors prompted several arrests, and lawmakers – most of them Republican – in many states introduced legislation with various levels of protection for drivers who hit protestors that were blocking streets. Some first responders have been fired for making jokes about running over Black Lives Matter protestors.

Miami has experienced roadway-blocking protests of its own: both the election of President Donald Trump and his inauguration prompted significant traffic snarls.

Florida Sen. George Gainer introduced a bill that would ensure drivers who “unintentionally” hit protestors who are obstructing traffic would not be held liable. It failed in committee.

Gainer told WUFT that he was motivated to file the bill due to protests in Miami and Tampa and anti-Trump protests across the country.

“They should have every right in the world to protest the things they disagree with,” Gainer said. “But they don’t have the right to randomly go out into the interstates and attack the cars, beat on the windshields, jump up on the hoods and act like they’ve been hit. In some cases, they set themselves up to be hit.”

In North Carolina, a similar bill passed the House on a 67-48 vote but died in the Senate. Other states that considered similar legislation include Virginia – where 32-year-old Heyer was killed – Oklahoma, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington, according to the Washington Post. Some states took the route of removing liability from drivers, while some simply increased penalties for blocking roadways.

Flowers and other mementos are left at a makeshift memorial for the victims after a car plowed into a crowd of people peacefully protesting a white nationalist rally earlier in the day in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

These bills are in response to BLM protests so don’t tell me the Republicans don’t own a huge role in today’s institutional racism. Here’s an old piece from The Atlantic with the right headline by Jeet Heer.  “How the Southern Strategy Made Donald Trump Possible.  In states like South Carolina, the mogul reaps the benefits of the GOP’s longstanding appeal to racism.”

It’s essential to remember that the Southern Strategy did not originate with cynical GOP pols and right-wing extremists, but was—ironically enough—first hammered out in the pages of National Review, the very publication that now excoriates Trump “a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP.” National Review can disavow Trump as loudly as it wants, but it was the magazine—and the conservative establishment that drew its political ideas and strategies from it—that created the politics that have now morphed into Trumpism.

Republicans own all of this.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Wednesday Reads: Eclipse From Reality…Hump Day Cartoons

Cartoon by MStreeter -

08/09/2017 Cartoon by MStreeter

 

The upcoming total eclipse is big news here in Georgia. I am sure it is making the rounds of top stories in states where folks will observe the complete and total event. In Banjoville they are closing the school:

Solar eclipse 2017: Some schools close on Aug. 21, traffic plans during eclipse | AL.com

Expect heavy traffic along the path of totality for the Aug. 21 complete solar eclipse. (Contributed photo/Department of Transportation)

Areas along the prime viewing path of the Aug. 21 complete solar eclipse are bracing for an influx of visitors and traffic.

In Nashville, the city’s school board has opted to close on the day of the eclipse. According to the Tennessean, more than 400 teachers and 100 bus drivers were scheduled to be off that day, with only a half-day possible for high schoolers and no pre-kindergarten. School officials cited other concerns in deciding to close, including heavy traffic.

Dubbed the “Great American Eclipse,” the main viewing path – or path of totality – for the complete solar eclipse spans from Oregon to South Carolina and includes portions of Tennessee. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park part of the viewing path and has several activities planned on that day.

My daughter works for the Georgia DNR, at Vogel State Park, and they are expecting to close the park because they will have reached full capacity within an hour after the park opens on Aug. 21st.

Concerns over traffic tie ups are growing as the eclipse nears. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, some 200 million people – a little less than 2/3 of the nation’s population – live within a day’s drive of the path of the total eclipse.

The traffic will not be the only effect this eclipse brings…5 surprising effects the total solar eclipse will have besides darkness

Subtle differences may be noticed in areas that only experience a partial solar eclipse, but much bigger changes will take place along the narrow path from Oregon to South Carolina that see a total eclipse of the sun.

1. 360-degree sunrise/sunset

While everyone’s attention will be focused on the sky, looking down can reveal another scene that not many have experienced.

Spectators that look at the horizon during totality will witness the colors of sunrise and sunset around them in every direction.

This 360-degree sunset effect is caused by the light from the sun in areas outside of the path of totality and only lasts as long as the face of the sun is covered by the moon.

2. Stars and planets

As the moon causes day to turn to night, the darkness will reveal the stars in the sky as well as a few planets.

People shouldn’t waste too much time looking for planets and constellations since many of these can be seen at night during different parts of the year. However, the eclipse will make it easy to spot Mercury, a planet that can be tricky to spot due to its close proximity to the sun.

I hope many of you get a chance to see these…Number 4 on the list has a historical record to match…

The celestial alignment will also reveal the sun’s corona, the area of hot gas the surrounds the sun.

A few lucky spectators may even be fortunate enough to see a meteor streak across the sky during the brief period of darkness.

3. Light pollution and city lights

Those watching the total solar eclipse from a city, parking lot or street corner may still see some light during the brief period of totality.

This light will not be from the sun, but rather streetlights that automatically turn on when it gets dark outside.

These automatic lights will not ruin the eclipse, but it may make it more difficult to spot planets and stars in the sky during totality.

4. Temperature change

Not only will an eclipse cause the environment to appear different, but also feel different.

“When sunlight fades at twilight, we always notice how things start to cool down. The same is true for the temporary dimming during a total solar eclipse,” NASA said.

Depending on factors such as the time of year, cloud cover and the length of totality, the air temperature can drop more than 20 degrees F.

During a solar eclipse in 1834, the air temperature in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania reportedly dropped by 28 degrees F.

Astronomers aren’t expecting the temperature to drop quite that much, but people may still feel the temperature drop by around 10 degrees F.

Here is a graph of the temperature change from a total eclipse in Zambia, 2001;Credit/Dr. Mitzi Adams NASA/MSFC:

temp change eclipse

The fifth thing you can see is something called Shadow Snakes. Now this one is a bit more tricky to witness, and does not always occur:

5. Shadow snakes

One of the rare phenomenon to look for during the total solar eclipse is something called shadow bands or shadow snakes.

“Shadow bands are thin, wavy lines of alternating light and dark that can be seen moving and undulating in parallel on plain-colored surfaces immediately before and after a total solar eclipse,” NASA said.

Some people also call these shadow snakes since their wavy motion can look like snakes slithering on the ground.

The article says if you want to see them, it is best to put a piece of white poster board or sheet on the ground and keep a close eye on the lookout for them. There is a video of the Shadow Snakes at the link, so please go and take a look at that…it took me a few minutes to realize what I was watching, until I noticed the faded glimpse of shadows streaking across the white portion of the screen. Very faint and difficult to see. It is almost like looking at those popular 3-d posters from back in the day…you would have to stare into them a long time and then pow…you saw it.

 

I have been actively avoiding the news the past week and a half. First because my aunt and family were in town, then it became a natural defense mechanism. The few times I did come out to see what was going on, stories of nuclear catastrophe caught my attention:

Trump Threatens ‘Fire and Fury’ Against North Korea if It Endangers U.S. – The New York Times

 President Trump threatened on Tuesday to unleash “fire and fury” against North Korea if it endangered the United States, as tensions with the isolated and impoverished nuclear-armed state escalated into perhaps the most serious foreign policy challenge yet of his administration.

In chilling language that evoked the horror of a nuclear exchange, Mr. Trump sought to deter North Korea from any actions that would put Americans at risk. But it was not clear what specifically would cross his line. Administration officials have said that a pre-emptive military strike, while a last resort, is among the options they have made available to the president.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Mr. Trump told reporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., where he is spending much of the month on a working vacation. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

What the fuck? It made me welcome this bloody story out of Australia:

 

If you can’t see that video from Time magazine…here’s two articles for ya…

Flesh-Eating Sea Fleas Feast on Teen’s Feet at Australian Beach – Motherboard

It’s not shark jaws you have to be worried about, but microscopic pincers.

If you’re terrified of the ocean because of sharks, you should reconsider—the real thing you need to be afraid of is invisible.

As reported by Australian news outlet The Age, 16-year-old Sam Kanizay decided to cool off after a difficult football practice on Saturday night by taking a dip in the water at the Dendy Street Beach in southeastern Australia. When he came out, his legs were dripping with blood.

Sam Kanizay’s father, Jarrod Kanizay, told Australian news outletnews.com.au that his son didn’t know he was bleeding until he stepped out of the water.

“He went back to his shoes and what he found was blood on his legs. As soon as we wiped them down, they kept bleeding,” he said. “There was a massive pool of blood on the floor [at the hospital].”

But the culprit wasn’t sharks, stingrays, or any of the usual suspects in marine attacks on humans.

Tiny ‘meat-loving’ marine creatures ‘eat’ teenager’s legs at Melbourne beach | Australia news | The Guardian

Experts left stunned by possible sea lice bites after Sam Kanizay emerged from the beach at Brighton with severe bleeding

[…]

University of New South Wales marine invertebrates expert, Alistair Poore, said he had never seen a case like it.

Poore told Guardian Australia the biting must have been caused by a marine invertebrate, most likely sea lice. But he said a large number of sea lice would be needed to cause such extensive bleeding.

“If it is sea lice, then it is a pretty dramatic example of it,” Poore said.

He said often beachgoers mistook stinging from the remnants of jellyfish tentacles with bites. But Poore said the bleeding in this case appeared too severe for that scenario.

[…]

The next night, Kanizay went back to the beach with a pool net full of meat and captured the creatures he said were responsible.

“What is really clear is these little things really love meat,” he said of a video showing the bugs in a tray of water devouring chunks of meat.

Now that is some scary shit.

Forget all about Marabunta…

 

Now for some cartoons.

08/09/2017 Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

 

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 08/09/2017 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Cartoonist Gary Varvel: Trump vacation Tweets: 08/09/2017 Cartoon by Gary Varvel

Cartoon by Gary Varvel - Cartoonist Gary Varvel: Trump vacation Tweets

08/09/2017 Cartoon by David Horsey

Cartoon by David Horsey -

08/02/2017 Cartoon by David Horsey

Cartoon by David Horsey -

08/09/2017 Cartoon by Kevin Siers

Cartoon by Kevin Siers -

08/09/2017 Cartoon by Joe Heller

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

08/05/2017 Cartoon by Joel Pett

Cartoon by Joel Pett -

Playing the Country Card: 08/09/2017 Cartoon by Jen Sorensen

Cartoon by Jen Sorensen - Playing the Country Card

Judge Jury and Executioner in the Philippines War on Drugs: 08/09/2017 Cartoon by Angelo Lopez

Cartoon by Angelo Lopez - Judge Jury and Executioner in the Philippines War on Drugs

Working Vacation: 08/09/2017 Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis - Working Vacation

This is an open thread….