I just love that photo taken during Monday’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They are all trying to claim their candidate won, but that’s how they looked while they were watching their candidate self-immolate in front of 80 million viewers.
And how did the Clinton side look? Check it out.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Then there’s this one taken backstage after the debate.
I love that one! Now for the news of the day.
Kurt Eichenwald has another big scoop on Trump’s dirty dealings: How Donald Trump’s Company Violated the United States Embargo against Cuba.
A company controlled by Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, secretly conducted business in Communist Cuba during Fidel Castro’s presidency despite strict American trade bans that made such undertakings illegal, according to interviews with former Trump executives, internal company records and court filings.
Documents show that the Trump company spent a minimum of $68,000 for its 1998 foray into Cuba at a time when the corporate expenditure of even a penny in the Caribbean country was prohibited without U.S. government approval. But the company did not spend the money directly. Instead, with Trump’s knowledge, executives funneled the cash for the Cuba trip through an American consulting firm called Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corp. Once the business consultants traveled to the island and incurred the expenses for the venture, Seven Arrows instructed senior officers with Trump’s company—then called Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts—how to make it appear legal by linking it after the fact to a charitable effort.
The payment by Trump Hotels came just before the New York business mogul launched his first bid for the White House, seeking the nomination of the Reform Party. On his first day of the campaign, he traveled to Miami, where he spoke to a group of Cuban-Americans, a critical voting bloc in the swing state. Trump vowedto maintain the embargo and never spend his or his companies’ money in Cuba until Fidel Castro was removed from power.
He did not disclose that, seven months earlier, Trump Hotels already had reimbursed its consultants for the money they spent on their secret business trip to Havana.
At the time, Americans traveling to Cuba had to receive specific U.S. government permission, which was granted only for an extremely limited number of purposes, such as humanitarian efforts. Neither an American nor a company based in the United States could spend any cash in Cuba; instead, a foreign charity or similar sponsoring entity needed to pay all expenses, including travel. Without obtaining a license from the federal Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) before the consultants went to Cuba, the undertaking by Trump Hotels would have been in violation of federal law, trade experts say.
Read the rest at the Newsweek link above. This story seems to be getting a lot more attention than Eichenwald’s previous ones. I think some reporters are finally waking up to the fact that while they were obsessing on Hillary Clinton’s emails a few real journalists like Eichenwald and David Fahrenthold were doing serious investigative work that is suddenly paying off for them and making others in the mainstream media look like lazy fools.
Yeah, not incredible at all. The media has acted like a pack of ravening wolves trying to tear Hillary apart for the past year while they laughed and joked about a thin-skinned authoritarian nationalist and white supremacist with a realistic chance of winning the U.S. presidency.
Trump’s misogyny and fat-shaming are getting a lot of attention after Hillary brought it up at the debate. I know there are plenty of men who think this is not a serious issue, but for women who have had to deal with men like Trump it certainly is one. Besides, misogyny and sexism obviously have real-life economic effects too.
After the Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes opened for play in 2005, its world-famous owner didn’t stop by more than a few times a year to visit the course hugging the coast of the Pacific.
When Trump did visit, the club’s managers went on alert. They scheduled the young, thin, pretty women on staff to work the clubhouse restaurant — because when Trump saw less-attractive women working at his club, according to court records, he wanted them fired.
“I had witnessed Donald Trump tell managers many times while he was visiting the club that restaurant hostesses were ‘not pretty enough’ and that they should be fired and replaced with more attractive women,” Hayley Strozier, who was director of catering at the club until 2008, said in a sworn declaration.
Initially, Trump gave this command “almost every time” he visited, Strozier said. Managers eventually changed employee schedules “so that the most attractive women were scheduled to work when Mr. Trump was scheduled to be at the club,” she said.
Trump’s sexist behavior came out in a “labor relations lawsuit.”
The employees’ declarations in support of the lawsuit, which have not been reported in detail until now, show the extent to which they believed Trump, now the Republican presidential nominee, pressured subordinates at one of his businesses to create and enforce a culture of beauty, where female employees’ appearances were prized over their skills….
Employees said in their declarations that the apparent preference for attractive women came from the top.
“Donald Trump always wanted good looking women working at the club,” said Sue Kwiatkowski, a restaurant manager at the club until 2009, in a declaration. “I know this because one time he took me aside and said, ‘I want you to get some good looking hostesses here. People like to see good looking people when they come in.’ ”
As a result, Kwiatkowski said, “I and the other managers always tried to have our most attractive hostesses working when Mr. Trump was in town and going to be on the premises.”
Read more at the link.
Jennifer Lin, a former reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote at BillyPenn.com about a personal experience she had with Trump in 1988. She had written an article about how Trump tried to cheat shareholders in his casino company by buying them out for $15 per share. Lin wrote about Dale Scutti who realized the shares were worth a lot more than that and starting buying them. Merv Griffin, who wanted to get into the Atlantic City casino business got wind of Scutti’s activities and made a counteroffer.
The situation got ugly and after a month of fighting, the moguls made a deal: Trump would get the unfinished Taj Mahal, Griffin would get everything else, and investors would get $36 a share.
My story that morning made the point that if it wasn’t for this unknown investor from upstate New York, shareholders might not be earning more than twice what Trump originally offered. Scutti had told me he thought Trump was trying to scare shareholders into accepting his offer with threats of bankruptcy and warnings that he was the only one capable of completing the over-budget Taj Mahal project.
She had tried and failed to reach Trump for comment, but when the story appeared he suddenly wanted to talk to her.
And now I was holding for Mr. Trump.
There was no hello. But there was yelling, lots of yelling.
The word “shit” was used repeatedly as a noun and adjective.
I had shit for brains.
I worked for a shitty newspaper.
What sort of shit did I write.
Before I could reply, he hung up.
Then he called my editor in Philadelphia, Craig Stock. Now it was Craig’s turn to “Hold for Mr. Trump.”
Craig was treated to the same Trumpian wordplay, but got an added treat. Trump referred to me as “that cunt.”
Craig, a calm Iowan, asked Trump what was wrong with the story. He explained that The Inquirerwould run a correction if the paper had made an error.
Trump snapped that he didn’t read the story.
“No one reads the story,” the 41-year-old blustered. “I read the headline and I didn’t like it.”
Craig suggested that he read the story, then call him back if there were any problems.
He did not hear back from Trump.
If you haven’t read this remarkable review of a new biography of Adolf Hitler by Volker Ullrich: In ‘Hitler,’ an Ascent From ‘Dunderhead’ to Demagogue. New York Time book reviewer Michiko Kakatani seems to have specifically written the piece to highlight resemblances between Hitler and Donald Trump–and she did it without ever mentioning Trump’s name. I’m not able to cut and paste from this amazing piece, but I hope you’ll go read it.
I have quite few links for you today, so I’m going to just post headlines for the rest.
Washington Post: Trump’s method for the big fib: Defend, defend, then grasp at straws.
Vanity Fair: How Hillary Clinton Played Trump for a Fool.
Politico: Trump accuses Google of ‘suppressing’ Clinton info. (Based on a story from a Russian propaganda site)
Gabe Ortiz at Medium: For All The “Miss Housekeepings” — Including My Mom.
Washington Post: Enabler or family defender? How Hillary Clinton responded to husband’s accusers. (Because every wife should respond with kindness and empathy to women who have affairs with her husband, right?)
PBS Frontline: The FRONTLINE Interview: Tony Schwartz. (Trump’s ghostwriter)
Huffington Post: Another Miss Universe Contestant Says She Was Fat-Shamed By Donald Trump.
Huffington Post: Megyn Kelly Goes After Kellyanne Conway On Trump’s Misogyny.
What stories are you following today?
Hello and Good Morning
It is my thought that we give the comics a go this Wednesday, because they surely had a smörgåsbord to work with in this week’s news cycle.
What a knock out from Luckovich…
From Cagle Cartoons:
That’s all folks!
This is an open thread.
Yup it is Sunday…
And I didn’t forget what day it is this time.
While walking into the local Banjoville Walmart, I was stopped by an employee. He was on his way to bring in carts and it was obvious that being a greeter was not among his regular duties. He said, rather forced, “Welcome to Walmart” and then proceeded to ask abruptly, “Is that tattoo on your arm Arabic?”
Now, picture me…in my long Indian brightly printed yellow, pink and red cotton wrap skirt, a plain bold colored maroon t-shirt, with my head wrapped in a magenta flowered batik bandanna. No…I say to the man. That is a Tibetan tattoo. So is this one, I show him my other arm, they are both Sanskrit. “Are you sure that isn’t Arabic?” he says. Yes, I’m positive. It is calligraphy. He continues to insist…”It looks like Arabic to me. I’m certain it is Arabic.” He would not believe me. I had to get a bit confrontational and walk away. The man would not let up.
I felt like saying. Look, you have to be the most idiotic shithead I’ve come across. First off, what are you doing profiling the shoppers of this store? B) Are you that stupid, do you think this bandanna is a Hijab? And second…no…that is not a pressure cooker bomb under my skirt…my ass is just really that big!
Well, it turned out the dude is considered, “Special Needs” but honestly, that “label” could be used as an excuse for most of the populace today. (For what it is worth, to keep repeating the word Arabic, he must get his news from FoxNews?) I still don’t think having a low IQ should mean that folks should get away with all the foul and disgusting things being said (or done) that are completely out of line. Especially when it comes to the shit-stain running for the Republican presidential ticket.
But I refuse to link to anything that con-orange-weave-wearing-asshole has said or done.
Today the links I will share are all related to Reading. Because I cannot take anymore bullshit…I’m just too fucking emotionally drained to do anything else.
Oh, and many of the images are by photographer Miles Aldridge: I Only Want You to Love Me. | Blog. | The Creative Directory.
First up, take a look at this video: (I’ve embedded the video below, but if you do not see it, click on this link here.)
Rats still inundate major world cities, spreading disease, undermining buildings and generally grossing people out (even though they make great pets).
But thanks to one hardy biologist’s birth-control innovation, perfect harmony could now become reality.
From rats to bullies? Maybe: This is How Literary Fiction Teaches Us to Be Human
Think about every bully you can remember, whether from fiction or real life. What do they all have in common?For the most part, they don’t read — and if they do, they probably aren’t ingesting much literary fiction.
This isn’t just snobbery, it’s a case that scientists are slowly building as they explore a field called Theory of Mind, described by Science Magazine as “the human capacity to comprehend that other people hold beliefs and desires and that these may differ from one’s own beliefs and desires.” Inan abstract published by the magazine in 2013, researchers found that reading literary fiction led to better results in subjects tested for Theory of Mind. That same year, another study found heightened brain activity in readers of fiction, specifically in the areas related to visualization and understanding language. As Mic explains: “A similar process happens when you envision yourself as a character in a book: You can take on the emotions they are feeling.”
More recently, Trends in Cognitive Sciences reported more findings that link reading and empathy, employing a test called “Mind of the Eyes” in which subjects viewed photographs of strangers’ eyes, describing what they believed that person was thinking or feeling (readers of fiction scored significantly higher). It turns out that the narrative aspect of fiction is key to this response.
Another article for you, this time on the work of Walt Whitman: The Millions : An Essential Human Respect: Reading Walt Whitman During Troubled Times – The Millions
We live in contentious times. In these frenzied days, it’s worth returning to Walt Whitman’s book of Civil War poetry, Drum-Taps. First published in 1865, Drum-Taps reflects on the confrontation of grand visions and the human costs of realizing them. It suggests the importance of empathy in the face of significant ideological disagreement.
Whitman took the side of the Union, the vision of which played a major role in both his poetic and political thinking. In his original preface to Leaves of Grass, Whitman called the United States “essentially the greatest poem,” and the visionary project of a poet for Whitman involved the creation of a broader fellowship that transcended the conventional boundaries of society. He viewed the United States as a vehicle for this enterprise of fellowship.
In its record of the Civil War, Drum-Taps homes in on the juxtaposition of vision and the flesh, of aspiration and suffering. For all the great ambition of the antebellum United States, it contained great pain, and the carnage of the Civil War painted in red, white, and gangrene the price of maintaining the hope of the Union. Ideas clashed in the Civil War, but men and women bled. Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust’s 2008 study This Republic of Suffering argues that the magnitude of suffering and death during the Civil War sent shockwaves through American culture; the equivalent of over 600,000 war deaths in 1861-1865 would be over 6 million deaths in 2016.
The horror of this legacy of pain influenced Whitman’s life and poetry. His brother George served in the Union army throughout the war, and Whitman himself had a front-row-seat for the carnage of the Civil War during his time as a medical orderly. He spent countless hours comforting the wounded and sick soldiers in Washington D.C. and elsewhere. In an 1863 report, he reflected on visiting the wounded at the capital’s Patent Office, which had been converted to a hospital:
A few weeks ago the vast area of the second story of that noblest of Washington buildings, the Patent Office, was crowded close with rows of sick, badly wounded and dying soldiers. They were placed in three very large apartments. I went there several times. It was a strange, solemn and, with all its features of suffering and death, a sort of fascinating sight.
Whitman attended to that magnitude of suffering in Drum-Taps. In one of his notebooks, he claimed that “the expression of American personality through this war is not to be looked for in the great campaign, & the battle-fights. It is to be looked for…in the hospitals, among the wounded.” In many respects, the poems of Drum-Taps are songs for and of the wounded.
Bearing the bandages, water and sponge,
Straight and swift to my wounded I go,
Where they lie on the ground, after the battle brought in;
Where their priceless blood reddens the grass, the ground;
Or to the rows of the hospital tent, or under the roof’d hospital;
To the long rows of cots, up and down, each side, I return;
To each and all, one after another, I draw near — not one do I miss;
An attendant follows, holding a tray — he carries a refuse pail,
Soon to be fill’d with clotted rags and blood, emptied, and fill’d again.
That refuse pail, ever filling and emptying, implies the seemingly endlessness of tending to bodies and spirits ravaged by war. The figures of these soldiers are sacred and exalted — that “priceless blood” — but still they suffer.
Whitman’s verse does not hide that suffering, or the price it exacts:
From the stump of the arm, the amputated hand,
I undo the clotted lint, remove the slough, wash off the matter and blood;
Back on his pillow the soldier bends, with curv’d neck, and side-falling head;
His eyes are closed, his face is pale, he dares not look on the bloody stump,
And has not yet looked on it.
With grim irony, these lines attend to amputations suffered in the name of preserving the Union. Beyond the specific details of this wound-dressing, we see also the signs of the psychological pain of the amputee, who cannot even bear to look at the site of his dismemberment. In “The Dresser” and elsewhere, the poetic speaker does not profess an ability to end this suffering or nullify the pain of the sufferers. Instead, he can only act as a witness to this suffering.
Please read the rest at the link, this article is written by, E. THOMAS FINAN who teaches at Boston University.
Reading is a form of relaxation for some, a chance to relate to others, but for one woman the form of a book…the place where books are held, the reading room, a library, was something to capture. How One Woman Photographed Every Library in New York | Literary Hub
When architectural photographer Elizabeth Felicella was not working for clients, she spent her free time photographing all 210 branches of New York City’s Public Library system. Five years later, the resulting work, Reading Room, is essentially an enormous catalog of over 2,000 negatives covering libraries in all five boroughs. We chose some of our favorites to feature below…
Through arrangements with each of the library systems, I worked mornings before the branches opened to the public. I traveled by subway and bus and made six to twelve pictures of each branch, interiors and exteriors, using a 4 x 5 inch view camera. My archive, to date, holds over 2,000 negatives.
The library was a generous subject—it served as a rich source for reflection on both the topic at hand and on my work as an architectural photographer. One of Melvil Dewey’s objectives in establishing his decimal system for library classification was to encourage browsing: materials were organized by subject in open stacks so that a reader might encounter a related, but perhaps unknown book, on her trip to the shelf. I identified with Dewey’s reader and adopted “browsing” as a criterion for shooting—a process that might render more or different things than I anticipated.
I borrowed metaphors from the library and began thinking of my photography in terms of reading and writing. The library offered a reprieve from the often strict conventions of architectural photography. Without abandoning my objective of describing each branch in pictures, I took license to shoot in long and short sentences: big, overall views full of tables and chairs, but also plants, bathroom graffiti, pencil sharpeners (a lot of them), magazine covers, people waiting in line outside. No shot list was applied: I photographed what struck me, following tangents, filling out categories that emerged on their own over the course of the project. The richness of the process was the richness of the branches themselves. I found them beautiful, even and sometimes especially the most neglected, with their layers of use, fragments of earlier arrangements, updates, familiar elements, improvisations, accidents, incongruities: in short, places that look something like what everyday thinking feels like.
More pictures at the link….I only put one of the images up here. Be sure to go and look at the others. There is also more to read about the process of the work…
Here is another interesting story for you: Bad Bitches in the Canon
What if Anaïs Nin and Flannery O’Connor had been friends?
“Lila appeared in my life in first grade and immediately impressed me because she was very bad.” -Elena Ferrante, ‘My Brilliant Friend’
The writers Anaïs Nin and Flannery O’Connor both hit milestones in the 1950s: O’Connor won a whole bunch of literary awards, and Nin married her second husband, (twenty years her junior) while still married to her first. The former was thwarted only by lupus, the latter by the IRS, which would not let both husbands claim her on their tax returns. Such is the life of a literary bad bitch.
Nin is famous for her unexpurgated memoir Henry and June, which details her 1931–2 sexual obsession with the American writer Henry Miller and, now and then, his wife June (who appears in the flesh for about two paragraphs). About three fucks out of every ten thousand, Henry and/or Anaïs wonders if they’re together because they cannot be with June. She is the parmesan to their pasta — what O’Connor, in her letters, would spell as cheeze — but never the main dish. Nin’s memoir should have been titled Henry and…Where’d she go? NY? Oh well. As for O’Connor, well, even Esquire lists her on their predominantly male must-read list. She’s right up there — a few spots ahead of Henry Miller.
The funny thing is, Anaïs Nin is not on that list, even though she was all over Henry Miller. Most people — and by ‘most people,’ I mean ‘most woefully inexperienced freshman English majors,’ by which I mean ‘myself, once’ — read Anaïs Nin to learn how artists love, if not how to be an artist in love. And then they go into therapy.
Ah, that should give you enough to go and finish it off on your own.
And yet, I have one last link for you, yes…it is another literary themed article.
In praise of “the gaiety of those who have nothing more to lose and so excel at giving.”
The weather has seeded our earliest myths, inspired some of our greatest art, and even affects the way we think. In our divisive culture, where sharped-edged differences continue to fragment our unity, it is often the sole common ground for people bound by time and place — as we move through the seasons, we weather the whims of the weather together.
Of the four seasons, autumn is by far the most paradoxical. Wedged between an equinox and a solstice, it moors us to cosmic rhythms of deep time and at the same time envelops us in the palpable immediacy of its warm afternoon breeze, its evening chill, its unmistakable scentscape. It is a season considered temperate, but one often tempestuous in its sudden storms and ecstatic echoes of summer heat. We call it “fall” with the wistfulness of loss as we watch leaves and ripe fruit drop to the ground, but it is also the season of abundance, of labor coming to fruition in harvest.
The peculiar pleasures and paradoxes of autumn are what the great French writer Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (January 28, 1873–August 3, 1954), better known as Colette, explores in a portion of Earthly Paradise: An Autobiography of Colette Drawn from Her Lifetime Writings (public library) — the posthumously published, out-of-print treasure that gave us her abiding wisdom on writing, withstanding criticism, and the obsessive-compulsiveness of creative work.
Recounting an essay assignment from her schoolgirl days, Colette writes in the autumn of her life:
It has always remained in my memory, this note written with red ink in the margin of a French composition. I was eleven or twelve years old. In thirty lines I had stated that I could not agree with those who called the autumn a decline, and that I, for my part, referred to it as a beginning. Doubtless my opinion on the matter, which has not changed, had been badly expressed, and what I wanted to say what that this vast autumn, so imperceptibly hatched, issuing from the long days of June, was something I perceived by subtle signs, and especially with the aid of the most animal of my senses, which is my sense of smell. But a young girl of twelve rarely has at her disposal a vocabulary worthy of expressing what she thinks and feels. As the price of not having chosen the dappled spring and its nests, I was given a rather low mark.
She considers how autumn haunts the other seasons and signals its superior splendor:
The rage to grow, the passion to flower begin to fade in nature at the end of June. The universal green has by then grown darker, the brows of the woods take on the color of fields of eel grass in shallow seas. In the garden, the rose alone, governed more by man than by season, together with certain great poppies and some aconites, continues the spring and lends its character to the summer.
Depths of dark greenery, illusion of stability, incautious promise of duration! We gaze at these things and say: “Now this is really summer.” But at that moment, as in a windless dawn there sometimes floats an imperceptible humidity, a circle of vapor betraying by its presence in a field the subterranean stream beneath, just so, predicted by a bird, by a wormy apple with a hectically illuminated skin, by a smell of burning twigs, of mushrooms and of half-dried mud, the autumn at that moment steals unseen through the impassive summer…
Even a child cannot respond to everything. But its antennae quiver at the slightest signal.
Of course there is much more at the link, so be sure to read the rest of that thread…I know that you can’t resist it.
That is all for this first Sunday of Autumn in 2016.
This is an open thread.
I’m devoting this post to articles about the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened this morning. I think we all need rest from the campaign and the endless advice on how Hillary should behave at Monday night’s debate.
Centuries of struggles and strife, decades of planning and pain, and years of hoping for a place that African-American history can call home will culminate as President Barack Obama officially opens the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
A shining bronze beacon on the National Mall, only steps away from a monument dedicated to a slaveholder president, the new Smithsonian will chronicle the complex relationship between the United States and a people it once enslaved, and tell the story of those who worked to make the necessary changes to bring the country to where it is today.
“It doesn’t gauze up some bygone era or avoid uncomfortable truths,” Obama said in his weekly radio and internet talk. “Rather, it embraces the patriotic recognition that America is a constant work in progress, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is within our collective power to align this nation with the high ideals of our founding.” ….
Ground was broken for the new museum in 2012 on a five-acre tract near the Washington Monument after a decades-long push for an African-American museum on the National Mall. Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, a longtime civil rights icon, worked with then-Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas to usher legislation through Congress, and President George W. Bush signed into law the bill that allowed the museum to move forward.
Construction was completed earlier this year on the 400,000-square-foot museum designed by British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye. The museum strikes a unique shape on the Mall with its three-tiered bronze exterior panels inspired by an African wooden column. The patterned bronze colored tiles are inspired by 19th century ironwork created by slaves in the South, and allow sunlight into the museum through patterned openings.
Inside, museum officials say they have nearly 3,000 items occupying 85,000 square feet of exhibition space including exhibits like a Tuskegee Airmen training plane and the casket of Emmett Till, a murdered African-American boy whose death helped rally the civil rights movement.
“It’s been 100 years in the making. So many people have dreamed about this fought for this and wanted this to happen,” said U.S. Circuit Judge Robert L. Wilkins, who wrote the book “Long Road to Hard Truth” about the struggle to get the museum open. “It’s going to be a testament to their work and a testament to so many of our ancestors that this museum will open on the Mall.”
The Twin Cities Pioneer Press has a wonderful collection of photos museum exhibits.
As a child in St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood in the 1950s, there were few places Marvin Anderson could learn about African American history.
“You grew up knowing more about European history than you do about your own history,” Anderson said. “African American history was neglected — either though ignorance or through suppression.”
But with the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Saturday in Washington, D.C., his grandchildren will have access to that history.
“A museum that’s constructed to preserve and interpret the contributions and accomplishments of the African American community means a lot to me as a person,” Anderson said. “And it will mean a lot to my grandchildren.”
More than 100 years after it was first proposed and 13 years after it was authorized by Congress, the National Museum of African American History and Culture opens today in Washington.
“There were some who said it couldn’t happen, who said ‘you can’t do it,’ but we did it,” said Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who led the charge to make the museum a reality. “This place is more than a building. It is a dream come true.”
The long-awaited moment is being heralded by a weekend of celebrations across the city, in what the museum director Lonnie Bunch has called a “mini inauguration.” The most anticipated event is the grand opening ceremony on the National Mall, which is being broadcast on C-SPAN and streamed online, including at washingtonpost.com. More than 7,000 official guests heard speeches from Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and former president George W. Bush, who signed the 2003 bill that authorized the museum….
Since the day Obama presided over the museum’s groundbreaking in 2012, an impressive 400,000 square foot structure has been built in the shadow of the Washington Monument. Serving as home to more than36,000 artifacts, the museum exists to both memorialize and educate, and most importantly to museum director Bunch, cement the African American story’s place in the American story.
“This is a story that is too big to be in the hands of one community,” saidLonnie Bunch. “It really is the story that has shaped us all.”
That story is that of African Americans. And on this weekend of the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), the seventh episode of “Cape Up” is my conversation with its founding director Lonnie Bunch. The stunning structure on the Mall is the physical manifestation of a multi-decade effort that kicked into high gear in 2005 when Bunch, a former Smithsonian curator who was president of the Chicago Historical Society, was tapped to helm the effort.
In 2003, President George W. Bush signed the bill that made the national African American history museum a legal reality. But that was the easy part.
“The biggest part of this job was to make people believe that this could happen. But what it really meant was that I had to find ways to believe it. And to take risks,” Bunch told me at the museum last week. “For example, when we did the groundbreaking, we didn’t have all the money. So what I did is, well, let’s make the hole anyway because I knew that Congress wouldn’t let a hole stand next to the Washington monument.” ….
“We went around the country, stole the idea from ‘Antique Roadshow,’ asked people to bring out their stuff. We didn’t take it,” Bunch explained. “We helped them preserve grandma’s old shawl, that wonderful 19th-century photograph. But what happened was that people get excited and they’d say, ‘Well do you want it?’ And we would say, ‘Give it to local museums first.’ Then if it was really significant it came back to D.C.”
Music is so much a part of black America, it pops up all over the vast new National Museum of African American History and Culture. From Harriet Tubman’s modest hymnal of spirituals to Sly Stone’s signed Fender Rhodes keyboard and Public Enemy’s boom box that helps close the 20th-century cultural history, there’s no separating the importance of music from the history on hand.
But when one arrives at the entry to the fourth floor “Musical Crossroads” exhibition, heralded by the sparkly red finish on Chuck Berry’s Cadillac, the futuristic fantasy of the Parliament-Funkadelic mothership replica, and Michael Jackson’s Victory Tour fedora, it is as if entering its own inclusive African-American Music History Museum.
And inclusive it is—with displays on African music imported by the enslaved to this country, devotional music that helped bind black communities against all odds, gospel, minstrel music, ragtime, jazz, blues, rhythm & blues, rock ’n’ roll, hip-hop and EDM. Yes, and some country stars of color as well.
One of the challenges of opening the Smithsonian’s newest major museum was acquiring its contents from scratch. Sure, the nearby National Museum of American History already had a lot of artifacts, from Scott Joplin sheet music to Dizzy Gillespie’s B-flat trumpet.
Curating for a museum is no doubt a difficult job, and one of the more difficult decisions that Lonnie Bunch III—founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture—remembers grappling with was whether to include the casket that once held the brutalized remains of Emmett Till.
“I remember struggling with, ‘Should we collect that?’” Bunch said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Even after he accepted the donation of Till’s casket by Till’s family after his remains had been exhumed and reinterred, Bunch wondered if it was “too ghoulish” to include in an exhibit.
Nonetheless, Bunch decided to move forward with the idea, saying that it was essential to explore stories such as that of Till—the Chicago teen who was brutally murdered for whistling at a white woman while visiting family in Mississippi—in order to represent the full story of the African-American experience.
“You couldn’t tell the story of the African-American experience without wrestling with difficult issues, without creating those moments where people have to ponder the pain of slavery, segregation or racial violence,” Bunch said.
When the National Museum of African American History and Culture hosted a soft opening, we came hungry. The museum, more than 100 years in the making, brimmed with treasures. Untold stories and famous tales burst to life through artifacts in the exhibitions. But we headed straight down the museum’s magnificent central staircase to the below-ground Sweet Home Café. We were on assignment to report on the food. And reader, we did.The 12,000-square foot café is divided into four stations, which honor the geographic regions of African-American culture—the North States, Agricultural South, Creole Coast and Western Range. We sampled from each, stuffing ourselves with the rich offerings, Georgia shrimp and Anson Mills stone ground grits, slow-cooked collards and cornbread sticks, empanadas heaped with black eye peas, golden corn and chanterelles, not to mention Johnston County sweet potato pie. What we couldn’t eat, we shamelessly snuck home in our purses—paper napkins lovingly protected a Wild Turkey pecan pie and the remains of a BBQ buffalo brisket sandwich.
To eat the food at the Sweet Home Café is to take a bite out of history—an authenticity of ingredients and culinary skill passed down and reinterpreted by generations of black home cooks and gourmet chefs around the country. This food has been shaped by regional cuisine and distinctive cultures, but also by history, something impossible to be forgotten when you see the counters and stools lining two walls of the 400-seat cafe, recalling the Greensboro sit-ins in North Carolina and the brave civil rights activists that sat down to peacefully protest Woolworth’s white’s-only lunch counter service in 1960. While we eat, images and quotes from historical and modern black voices are the backdrop, from the towering image of the Greensboro Four to a quote by Michael W. Twitty, who pens the food blog Afroculinaria.
“Our food is our flag…it sits at the intersection of the South, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America,” he writes.
I know there’s plenty of other news out there, but I hope you’ll take the time to dive into one of these great articles. Of course this is an open thread, so please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread.
Today’s post is going to focus on the few days…and the shooting deaths of two black men by police.
By now I am sure you have heard of #TerenceCrutcher …you may not have yet heard of #KeithLamontScott. The fact that I’ve put their names in #hashtag format should give you a huge clue…these two men are the latest men to be killed by police while being black.
A fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man by a white officer has reopened fresh wounds in this city with a fraught history among African Americans, white residents and police officers.
A graphic police video shows Terence Crutcher, 40, being fatally shot by a police officer Friday night as he walks with his hands up toward his SUV, stalled out in the middle of the road.
Video at that link and more…
The police shooting victim in Charlotte, North Carolina has been identified by friends and family as Keith Lamont Scott, 43. The officer who shot Scott has been identified as Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Brentley Vinson.
UPDATE: 9/20/16, 9:00 p.m. ET — The victim’s daughter, Lyric Scott, has gone live again from a growing protest in response to the police shooting of her father.
***ORIGINAL STORY BELOW***
A disabled black man has died at the hospital after being shot by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Tuesday afternoon on Old Concord Road in University City, a subdivision of Charlotte, NC.
Police said they were searching for someone who had outstanding warrants when they saw a man with what they believed to be a gun leave a vehicle.
According to police reports, the man, who has not been named, returned to his vehicle. When they approached the man, they claim he “posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers” and one of them opened fire. An eyewitness told the victim’s daughter that a Taser was used on her father, then he was shot at least three times.
Medics arrived and the injured man was taken to Carolinas Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.
The victim was not the subject of the initial search, said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney.
I have so much to say, but my internet is acting up or wordpress is doing something wonky…I will give you plenty of links for now…more to be said in the comments.
That statement about her brother was not a bad bad dude…oh wow.
The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the police killing of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Friday, but his family is demanding that the charges against the involved officer be filed immediately.
Police were originally responding to an unrelated call when they approached Crutcher’s vehicle, which had been stalled in the middle of the street. Shortly after the officers arrived, one officer deployed his taser on Crutcher who stood by his car. Moments later, Officer Betty Shelby, who is white, fatally shot Crutcher, who was black and unarmed, while he had his hands raised in the air, according to this graphic video footage released on Monday. Inone video that was captured by an overhead helicopter, Crutcher is seen standing by his car while a police officer is overheard describing him as a “bad dude.”
“That big ‘bad dude’ ― his life mattered,” Crutcher’s twin sister Tiffany Crutcher told reporters on Monday, according to Tulsa World. She went on to demand an end to police brutality. “The chain breaks here. We’re going to stop it right here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This is bigger than us right here. We’re going to stop it right here.”
Tiffany, who just celebrated her 40th birthday with her brother, mentioned a recent text message she received from Terence that she said read, “I’m going to show you. I’m going to make you all proud.”
She expressed her grievance over his loss and how Terence will never get that chance, “because of the negligence and the incompetency and the insensitivity, and because he was a big, ‘bad dude,’” Tiffany said. “And so we’re demanding today, immediately, that charges are pressed against this officer that was incompetent, that took my brother’s life.”
“When Terence was shot, he laid on the ground bleeding out without any assistance,” Dario Solomon-Simmons, an attorney for the family and longtime family friend, said at the conference. “Terence died on that street by himself in his own blood, without any help.”
“This video is extremely disturbing,” he added. “Without a doubt we believe this was an unjustified shooting that should not have happened.”
The anger around Crutcher’s death has been felt from many on social media who have poured out their grievances online over the police killing of yet another unarmed black man with the trending hashtag #TerenceCrutcher. However, as the mourning continues, Crutcher’s sister has asked that people remain peaceful as they demonstrate their anger over his death.
“Just know that our voices will be heard,” she said. “The video will speak for itself. Let’s protest. Let’s do what we have to do, but let’s just make sure that we do it peacefully, to respect the culture of (the Crutcher family).”
This next link is from a comment by a woman who has an adopted black son…she lives in Tulsa.
On the Kaepernick protest:
Here’s How Many Black People Have Been Killed By Police Since Colin Kaepernick Began Protesting | Huffington Post Oh yeah, it has only been one month.
At least 15 black people have died during encounters with the police since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began protesting police violence by kneeling before NFL games, based on numbers compiled by The Guardian.
Kaepernick’s decision to sit or take a knee during the national anthem first drew attention after his team’s Aug. 26 preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, when he told NFL.com that he was “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Since then, Kaepernick’s continued protest has drawn considerable criticism from politicians, police unions, pundits, other professional athletesand many on social media who have opposed both his message and his method of conveying it.
But the problem Kaepernick wants to highlight has continued. And on Monday, it was back in the news again, after police in Tulsa, Oklahoma, released multiple videos that showed the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher.
The videos show that 40-year-old Crutcher, like so many other black men, was unarmed with his hands in the air when police officers shot and killed him as he returned to his car, which had stalled in the middle of a roadway. The videos run contrary to the department’s initial statements about the shooting, which claimed that Crutcher had ignored officers’ warning to raise his hands.
And lastly a few links that are related to the topic today:
I can’t end this post on a happy note. No way in hell.
This is an open thread of course.
So, I promised I’d try to avoid politics today even though that’s very difficult given our proximity to the elections and the fact that one of the candidates is uniquely unfit for office. I’m trying to avoid it as much as possible but it just seems that I can only do it for so long. So, let’s start out with some other news and then, I have to go there because like most sane Americans, I know my President was born in Hawaii, earned his way into top Ivy League Schools, and practices a form of agnostic,secular Christianity like a good portion of the country and who cares about that sort of thing any way? We sorta kinda heard that from the nation’s most visible conspiracy theorist and white nationalist today. But let me save that for last!
Yesterday, a long list was released of the candidates for The National Book Awards. It’s a rare occasion when I get to read things not associated with research but I always look forward to this list and picking up a few choice bits of fiction to welcome the change of weather.
The National Book Foundation announced Thursday its longlist of 10 titles in the running for the National Book Award for fiction, which celebrates the best in American literature over the past year.
Garth Greenwell (What Belongs to You) is the sole debut novelist in this year’s longlist, released in The New Yorker. There are veteran writers in the form of Chris Bachelder for The Throwback Special, his fourth book; Paulette Jiles for News of the World, Karan Mahajan for The Association of Small Bombs, Elizabeth McKenzie forThe Portable Veblen, and Lydia Millet for the Sweet Lamb of Heaven.
Previous finalists also made the list, including Adam Haslett, (also previously nominated for a Pulitzer Prize) for Imagine Me Gone, Brad Watson, for his second novel, Miss Jane, and Jacqueline Woodson, who previously won in the Young People’s Literature category for her 2014 memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, this time longlisted for her novel Another Brooklyn. Colson Whitehead is nominated for the critically acclaimed The Underground Railroad, which follows a slave’s adventures in the antebellum South.
The fiction longlist follows a week full of announcements, with the National Book Foundation unveiling the contenders for the Young People’s Literature, Poetry, and Nonfiction categories. The 40 books in the running this year span a diverse range of genres, writers, and experiences.
So, I guess I will add a little bit on politics in here but not any race horse coverage. I’m not sure if you heard, but Wisconsin’s Governor Scot Walker is under investigation for campaign finance irregularities. One of the fascinating things about the links is that they uncover a web of deceit and dark money. Will this investigation lead to a case before the Supreme Court and trouble for one of the Koch Puppets? The documents show the influence of right wing mega donors in the Republican Party.
Rarely do members of the public get to see behind the closed doors of political nonprofits, which may receive unlimited amounts of money from mega-donors without disclosing anything about their operations. But a trove of leaked documents from an investigation into Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s 2012 recall election campaign has offered an unprecedented look at how politicians operate in a post-Citizens United world that features record levels of undisclosed political money.
The documents, leaked to The Guardian newspaper, detail the allegedly illegal coordination between Walker’s campaign and an outside group.
Walker, in a scramble to win a bitterly contested election, asked a slew of right-wing billionaires in 2011 and 2012 to pour money into the Wisconsin Club for Growth, a dark money group working closely with a top aide to the governor. After Walker won, a special prosecutor opened an investigation into the campaign’s alleged coordination with the group. The leaked documents come from that controversial investigation, which Walker and his allies had dismissed as a partisan witch-hunt.
In 2015, the Wisconsin Supreme Court even shut down the investigation, ruling that the Walker campaign did not violate the law because coordination between candidates and outside groups is only prohibited for so-called express advocacy—direct calls to vote for or against a specific candidate. The Walker campaign only coordinated with Wisconsin Club for Growth on issue advocacy ads, which don’t expressly tell voters how to vote, the court ruled, and the activity was therefore legal. The decision infuriated government watchdogs, especially since two conservative justices refused to recuse themselves despite having received outside support from the Wisconsin Club for Growth during their own previous judicial elections.
Not only has the Walker scandal roared back into the spotlight, it may be headed for the Supreme Court. In April, the special prosecutor in the case called on the high court to overturn the state Supreme Court’s decision to end the investigation, arguing that coordination on issue advocacy is, in fact, illegal, and that the plaintiffs didn’t receive a fair trial because the two justices failed to recuse themselves. The Supreme Court is expected to announce later this month whether it will hear the case.
The documents revealed by The Guardian provide a detailed look at how Walker and his aides used Wisconsin Club for Growth to circumvent traditional campaign contribution limits, and get around a state ban on political donations from corporations.
In one leaked email, Walker casually mentions that he got John Menard, CEO of the home improvement chain Menard’s, to contribute $1 million directly from his corporation to the Wisconsin dark money group. A $10,000 check to the group from a wealthy financier had the words “Because Scott Walker asked” written on the memo line.
A report on Madison.com shows other mega donors solicited by Walker that then sent contributions to The Club for Growth. These contributions would not have to be exposed and are not subject to the usual restrictions. I’d really love to see all these folks taken down and sent to jail.
Another previously undisclosed check to Wisconsin Club for Growth for $10,000 from finance executive Frederick Kasten Jr. includes a memo line that reads: “Because Scott Walker asked.”
The documents show Walker also solicited donations from several wealthy individuals, many of whom or their companies made contributions to the Club, not Walker’s campaign. Contributions from Wisconsin donors and companies included $25,000 from Brookfield-based Hammes Co., $25,000 from Green Bay-based Schneider Enterprise Resources; and $100,000 from Ted Kellner, CEO of Milwaukee-based Fiduciary Management.
Among others from whom Walker sought money, the records show, were business magnate T. Boone Pickens and Lowry Mays, then-chairman of Clear Channel Communications.
In an August 2011 email, after the first wave of Senate recalls, Walker asked “did I send out thank you notes to all our (c)4 donors?”
The s0-called “John Doe investigation” has been going on since August, 20102 and no charges have been filed yet.
Gov. Robert Bentley issued an executive order Thursday declaring a state of emergency in Alabama over concerns about fuel shortages in the wake of a gasoline pipeline spill that released about 250,000 gallons of gasoline south of Birmingham and shut down a major pipeline connecting refineries in Houston with the rest of the country.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal issued a similar executive order for his state on Tuesday.
The pipeline operator, Colonial Pipeline, released the following information Thursday afternoon:
“Based on current projections and consultations with industry partners, parts of Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina will be the first markets to be impacted by any potential disruption in supply.”
“Colonial has briefed officials in these states and will continue to provide timely information to the public so that they can plan accordingly.”
The executive orders will allow fuel delivery truck drivers in each state to work longer shifts and exceed maximum hour limits established by the U.S. Department of Transportation in order to prevent gasoline outages.
The orders apply only to trucks that are transporting fuel to areas served by the pipeline.
In addition, some suppliers have begun shipping refined gasoline by water to New York from Houston while the pipeline is shut down.
The pipeline has been shut down since Friday and normally transports 1.3 million barrels per day of refined gasoline and other petroleum products from refineries in Houston to the south and eastern seaboard. The pipeline terminates at New York Harbor.
Nothing wrong with using massive amounts of toxic sludge, oh no! Oh, and did you hear that California is likely in a permanent state of drought?
A grim new study led by a UCLA geography professor revealed that the current 5-year drought in California could last indefinitely, with the resulting arid conditions becoming “the new normal” for the state.
The study, which looked at prolonged periods of dryness in California over the past 10,000 years, was published Thursday in the Nature.com journal Scientific Reports.
It noted that the state’s drought in the 21st century has been the most intense ever recorded, with drier than normal conditions in 10 of the past 14 years; the last three years have also been the hottest and driest in about 120 years.
The study investigated how natural climatic forces such as sun spots, a slightly different earth orbit and decreased volcanic activity intermittently warmed the region through radiative forcing, contributing to historic periods of dryness that lasted for hundreds and even thousands of years. It also looked at the presence and impact of greenhouse gases, another more recent warming force.
A grim new study led by a UCLA geography professor revealed that the current 5-year drought in California could last indefinitely, with the resulting arid conditions becoming “the new normal” for the state.
Maybe they can find other uses for golf courses, avocado and almond farms, and swimming pools in the state.
The NYT editorial board is horrifyed by Missouri’s recent move to pull down any form of gun safety laws. Here’s a few reasons I won’t be driving through Missouri any time soon.
In an alarming victory for the gun lobby, Missouri’s Republican-controlled Legislature voted Wednesday to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto and enact a wholesale retreat from gun safety in the state.
The law will let citizens carry concealed weapons in public without a state gun permit, criminal background check or firearms training. It strips local law enforcement of its current authority to deny firearms to those guilty of domestic violence and to other high-risk individuals. And it establishes a dangerous “stand your ground” standard that will allow gun owners to shoot and claim self-defense based on their own sense of feeling threatened.
The measure has drawn no great national attention, but it certainly provides further evidence that gun safety cannot be left to state lawmakers beholden to the gun lobby. Democrats opposed to the Missouri bill called it a “perfect storm” of lowered standards for the use of deadly force and an invitation for people to be armed without responsible controls. The measure was enacted by the Republicans, despite strong public opposition and warnings about the threat to public safety from the state Police Chiefs Association. Everytown for Gun Safety, one of the groups fighting the gun lobby, noted that stand-your-ground laws result in disproportionate harm to communities of color.
Mr. Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed the measure in June, saying it would allow individuals with a criminal record to legally carry a concealed firearm even though they had been, or would have been, denied a permit under the old law’s background check. Mayors Sly James of Kansas City and Francis Slay of St. Louis warned against restricting the power of the local police to deny guns to those who commit domestic violence. They cited sharp spikes in domestic violence homicides in their cities, and they noted that the police would be left at greater risk by this bill.
Republican legislative leaders, who cut short debate on the override vote on the last day of the session, were ebullient in overriding a variety of the governor’s vetoes beyond the gun measure, including one that will force voters to show a government photo ID.
The Justice Department is preparing to launch a renewed strategy to address the unrelenting scourge of heroin and opioid addiction, in part by placing greater emphasis on identifying links between over-prescribing doctors and distribution networks across the country.
The plan, outlined by Attorney General Loretta Lynch in an interview with USA TODAY, is part of an eleventh-hour push by the Obama administration against a public health crisis that continues to claim nearly 100 people each day in the United States.
In a memo that is expected to be circulated next week to all 94 U.S. attorney offices, Lynch said prosecutors are being urged to more readily share information across state lines about prescription drug abuses by physicians that could identify traffickers and far-flung trafficking routes more quickly.
At the same time, Lynch said federal prosecutors will be directed to coordinate their enforcement efforts with public health authorities in their districts as part of an overall strategy that puts equal emphasis on prevention and treatment.
“I’m not calling anybody out, because I think the people who look at this problem realize quickly how devastating it has been to families, to communities, to public health dollars, to law enforcement resources,” the attorney general said. “There is no one magic bullet for this.”
While opioid and heroin addiction have earned the distinction as the single greatest drug threat in the U.S., largely due to a casualty rate that has nearly quadrupled since 1999, the federal government’s effort to counter it — or even slow it — has been spotty.
Earlier this year, the Obama administration requested nearly $1.1 billion as part of a plan to pay for drug treatment, invoking a common refrain that drug overdoses — driven increasingly by heroin and other opioids, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone — are responsible for more deaths than car crashes. Yet after Congress approved landmark legislation in July for expanded drug addiction treatment and prevention, it did not include the $181 million to actually fund the measure.
Meanwhile, the deadly drug epidemic, which shadowed the early presidential primaries in addiction-plagued New Hampshire and Ohio, has largely receded from the public discussion during the general election.
“I have never seen anything like this,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said during an appearance earlier this year before the Senate Judiciary Committee with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., to outline the human wreckage that addiction has left behind in their tiny state. “This is about real people dying.”
Michael Botticelli, director of National Drug Control Policy, said Thursday that a key part of the administration’s renewed effort against heroin and opioid abuse will be to push Congress in the remaining days of the administration to provide the funding for both the legislation it approved earlier this year and the $1.1 billion in grants sought by the White House, which is staging a series of public events next week to call attention to the problem.
“The biggest area where we have fallen short is filling the gap between people who need treatment and those able to get it,” Botticelli said, adding that it remains a challenge to “keep people alive so that they can get into treatment.”
“We need more treatment capacity. We cannot wait to save people. This requires a response commensurate with the size of the epidemic,” the director said.
Okay, on to that one last bit of news and because it’s fresh off the TV and the buzz of the day,. Donald Trump kind’ve sort’ve walked backed his birth nonsense. But first, let’s notice he advertised his hotel and will likely be sending campaign money to his hotel to do so.
It’s already remarkable — in a bad way — that a nominee for president of the United States has to make a major speech to disavow the racist, baseless conspiracy theory he started about the president’s birth certificate.
But it’s even stranger that Donald Trump has managed to turn it into an advertisement for his new hotel in Washington, DC:
I am now going to the brand new Trump International, Hotel D.C. for a major statement. (via Twitter)
“Nice hotel,” he opened his remarks, which were part of a ceremony honoring
Medal of Honor winners. He went on to call it one of the best hotels, maybe, in the world.
Most presidential candidates — well, most presidential candidates wouldn’t need to make this speech in the first place. But if they did, they’d find some kind of neutral ground to do it, somewhere like the National Press Club.
Of course, Trump does own the hotel, so there’s nothing wrong with him having an event there instead of somewhere else. But using the speech, and the Medal of Honor winner’s he honoring, to actively promote his own business and brag about how great it is is part of a long history of Trump using his campaign and his foundation to personally enrich himself. (Ivanka Trump, who’s using his policy platform to promote her own brand, is following in her father’s footsteps.)
Donald Trump on Friday stated that he no longer believes President Barack Obama was born outside the United States, breaking away from a conspiracy theory that helped fuel his political rise.
“President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period. Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again,” Trump said at his new Washington hotel, flanked by Medal of Honor recipients, in an appearance that often seemed like a plug for his property and an extended endorsement of Trump by veterans.
He also blamed Hillary Clinton for raising questions about Obama’s citizenship during the 2008 campaign, despite no evidence that she did so.
“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. I finished it,” he said on Friday morning, referencing his public pressure campaign in 2011 that resulted in Obama releasing his long-form birth certificate showing he was born in Hawaii.
The reversal came after his aides and allies had publicly pressured him to disavow the theories, which had furthered the racist and xenophobic undertones of his presidential campaign. But Trump had continued to play coy, often saying in interviews that the issue didn’t matter anymore, even as he refused to state outright that he no longer believed Obama could have been born in Kenya.
Many of Clinton’s allies reacted to Trump’s statement with disgust.
“Trump doubled down on lie-filled statement from his campaign last night & took no responsibility for his bigoted attacks on our President,” Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted.
My guess is that he did this under duress. I frankly agree with TPM: STONE COLD LIAR. This is from Josh Marshall.
As I said earlier, birtherism is not about a factual error. It’s conscious and deliberate racist agitation. Indeed, it was birtherism which built Trump’s political profile and his base among white supremacists which enabled him to mount his successful primary campaign. His political career was built birtherism and racism. He’s never apologized. Indeed, he’s said he deserves praise for it. So he’s doubled down on more lies, apologized for nothing, and says he deserves credit for what he did. Think about that.
Meanwhile, he’s trying to defend his son who seems to have anti-Semitic tendencies like his father also. Who the freak keeps holocaust imagery at the front of his brain for off the cuff statements? Wonkette gets to explain it here.
Anyway, this is obviously LOL, because offhand Holocaust references are one of the best ways to show casual onlookers that your funny bone is in good, working order, at least in the dank, nasty, racist, white supremacist, neo-Nazi parts of the internet. Hey remember a few days ago when Trump Junior shared that really disgusting white supremacist meme? Good times.
But anyway, this is all a false alarm, because the Trump campaign says Baby Trumpers was clearly just talking about a capital punishment gas chamber, which is definitely, totally the most common and up-to-date way people are executed in the United States. Gosh almighty, it’s been used in the United States TEN WHOLE TIMES since 1976, so it’s definitely more seared into the public consciousness than the electric chair or lethal injection, when people think “capital punishment.” (This whole paragraph contains many Big Sarcasms, if you did not know!)
The Holocaust, on the other hand … gas chambers are kinda what comes to mind.
You can call me shocked. I figured he’d have grabbed for something like “lynching”. That would have another level of appeal to their fan boys from Storm Front and the American Nazi Party.
Meanwhile, I’m going back to the good book sitting on my nightstand. I can’t take much more of this Trump nightmare. The horrifying Economics “policy” speech yesterday did me in. It was like a flash back to the worst part of the 80s.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
2007’s Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother. In an outtake posted to YouTube, Arquette declared “No one in my life or on the streets can say or do anything that’s going to persuade me from becoming … who I am.”
In fact, the only label she ever truly embraced was the one she gave herself – The Lady Chablis. “I just try to be who I am without all the labels people try to put on you,” she told the reporter at Savannah Magazine.
“The legacy that she wanted to leave was one of ‘believe in who you are and never let the world change who you are,'” [her sister Cynthia]Ponder said. “Love yourself first and respect yourself first and others will love and respect you.”
The leaves are starting to change their colors here in the mountains. That normal process that creates a marvelous paint of brilliant transformation has begun. Same trees…same hills…same mountains. Whatever nature has planned, that innate process that happens when the leaves change from green to vivid hues of crimson and gold, radiant orange and fire…colors that you could describe with names that sound more like MAC lipstick color hues…than the shade of leaves hanging from the trees. Which seems appropriate, because this post is a tribute to two ladies who gave glam to transgender before hashtags and tweets.
I think the best way to start the ball rolling is with this article from The Guardian.
The two transgender women were activists and entertainers who dared to be themselves – and set the tone for future generations
In the last week, America lost two pioneering transgender women entertainers:Alexis Arquette and The Lady Chablis. Both died relatively young, Arquette at 47 and Chablis at 59. Then again, perhaps that’s actually rather old, given the world they were born into: although there’s no good data on life expectancies for trans and gender non-conforming people in the United States, the statistics we do havesuggest that they face greater health concerns with fewer resources than their cisgender counterparts, and that they are therefore more likely to die younger as well. Yet both Arquette and Chablis lived outsized lives despite their short durations, and along the way, they managed to break barriers for transgender artists everywhere.
In the 1990s, if you wanted to see a trans actor on the big screen, you had remarkably few options. Despite a plethora of films with large transgender roles, ranging from the deplorable (Ace Ventura Pet Detective), to the complicated (The Crying Game), to the tragic (Boys Don’t Cry), trans actors were almost entirely sidelined from major productions. Today, a small handful are gaining traction in mainstream film and television projects, such as Laverne Cox, Tom Phelan, Mya Taylor, Jamie Clayton and Trace Lysette. And if a cisgender actor does play a transgender character, there’s bound to be some uproar, as there was when it was recently announced that Michelle Rodriguez would play a transgender assassin in the new Walter Hill film, (Re)Assignment.
But that wasn’t even a conversation in the 90s, when Arquette and Chablis became two of the first trans actors to play trans roles in major mainstream films – Arquette as the gender non-conforming George (based on Boy George) in Adam Sandlers’s The Wedding Singer (1998), and Chablis as herself in the 1997 docu-thriller, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Both women had nuanced, complicated and shifting understandings of their own genders. Perhaps reflecting the time in which they grew up, over the course of their lives both used (or had applied to them) a wide variety of labels, from “drag queen” and “female impersonator”, to “transgendered” and “gender suspicious”. Yet no matter what words they used, both were always vocal advocates for trans people, rights and representation.
Arquette came to movie work early in her career, thanks in part to her famous family. The Lady Chablis, on the other hand, was a well-known performer in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia, but it wasn’t until the publication of the true-crime book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (in 1994), that she gained wider notoriety. After spending over 200 weeks on the New York Times’s bestseller list, the book was made into a film starring Kevin Spacey and a young Jude Law. Chablis was shocked when they asked her to audition for the role of herself. In an interview with NPR, Chad Darnell, the film’s casting director, recalls that she informed him “there’s nobody else who can play me but me”. When he suggested Whitney Houston, she slapped him so hard she drew blood – and got the role.
Like the leaves on the trees, both The Lady and Arquette lived life being who they truly are…as nature intended. Here are some quotes from articles over the past few days that will be good to read.
The Lady Chablis, the transgender performer featured in the 1994 best seller “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” and in the film version, died on Thursday in Savannah, Ga. She was 59 and had been working until about a month ago.
The cause was pneumonia, said Cale Hall, a longtime friend and an owner of Club One, where she had performed for three decades.
Ms. Chablis was a standout character in the book, in which the author, John Berendt, introduced the world to Savannah and the sometimes eccentric people who live there.
“She was The Lady Chablis from morning to night,” Mr. Berendt said in an interview on Thursday. “She had a great repartee,” he said, “and she had a way with words. She was creative.”
They first met when Ms. Chablis, who had just received her biweekly estrogen shots, insinuated herself into Mr. Berendt’s car for a ride home.
“She had both hands on her hips and a sassy half-smile on her face as if she had been waiting for me,” he wrote.
She would become the book’s most popular character, Mr. Berendt said. She was also his favorite.
“It’s not as if she died without knowing,” he added. “She knew. And she also knew she was everybody’s favorite.”
After the book came out, Ms. Chablis appeared on “Good Morning America” and “Oprah.” Readers from around the country went to see her at Club One. She published an autobiography, “Hiding My Candy,” in 1996 and the next year played herself in Clint Eastwood’s film adaptation of the Berendt book.
She was born Benjamin Edward Knox in Quincy, Fla., on March 11, 1957, and never finished high school. She took the name Chablis as a teenager. As she recalled in Mr. Berendt’s book, her mother, inspired by a wine bottle label, had intended the name for a younger sister but had had a miscarriage. Ms. Chablis immediately expressed interest in the name.
“I said, ‘Ooooo, Chablis. That’s nice. I like that name,’ ” she was quoted as saying in the book. “And Mama said, ‘Then take it, baby. Just call yourself Chablis from now on.’ So ever since then, I’ve been Chablis.” She had her name legally changed to The Lady Chablis.
Over twenty years ago, Chablis was written in as a character in John Berendt’s non-fiction narrative, Midnight in The Garden of Good and Evil. The story centralizes around Jim Williams, a noted Savannah socialite and antiques dealer who was found guilty of murdering a local male prostitute named Danny Hansford. Berendt wrote Chablis into the book as one of the many eccentric true-life characters and he uses her to better paint the picture of queer nightlife in Savannah. In both the book and the film, Chablis acts as a light-hearted contrast to the more serious themes of the story, with memorable one-liners such as “two tears in a bucket, motherfuck it” and “yes, I am a bitch, and proud of it, honey”. Her performance both on the page and on screen established her as an icon within the drag world, however, Chablis has contributed more to the community than just her work with Kevin Spacey.
In 1996, a year before she graced Clint Eastwood’s rendition of Midnight, Chablis published an autobiography entitled Hiding My Candy: The Autobiography of the Grand Empress of Savannah. In her book, Chablis spills the T on her upbringings in drag, beginning with her introduction to Miss Tina Devore in a Tallahassee nightclub. Devore would go on to become Chablis’s drag mother and in Midnight, Chablis remarks that she got her drag name from Devore, saying “my mama got the name Chablis off a wine bottle. She didn’t think it up for me though. It was supposed to be for my sister”. While in Atlanta, Chablis began her transition towards becoming a transgender woman, taking hormones and legally changing her name to Brenda Dale Knox, all while still developing a budding drag career. In his book, Berendt remarks that he meet Chablis at a doctor’s office after a routine estrogen injection, writing that “her big eyes sparkled. Her skin glowed. A broken incisor tooth punctuated her smile and gave her a naughty look”. But it wasn’t just Berendt who was captivated by the queen because after the film’s release she went on to guest on Good Morning America and the Oprah Winfrey Show. Despite her growing fame, Chablis stuck true to her roots throughout the 2000s, headlining Savannah Pride and hosting the Miss Gay Pride Pageant. In 2013, she made an appearance on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, reading the wives to filth before a live audience.
Many have commented on the drag icon’s passing, including the book’s author John Berendt. “She’ll be remembered for her outrageous profanity-laced spontaneity and for being one of the first up-front transsexual personalities to be accepted by a wide audience.” Today we see many transgender actors and actresses beloved by millions on the big screen, however, Chablis and her role in Midnight made her a legend and a role model for others who have followed in her footsteps. And while Chablis was loved by audiences for her role on screen as well as by those who had the chance to watch her perform, the road to stardom wasn’t easy for Chablis. In her autobiography, Chablis explains that performing in Atlanta taught her about the realities of prejudice and she was even arrested for falsification of identification. “They took my purse and my gowns and they took The Doll to jail, honey…”, Chablis writes and she shows readers that performing in drag and living as a pre-operative transgender female was not as accepted at the time as it is today.
Chablis continued to perform at Club One in Savannah up until she was hospitalized on August 6th 2016. On social media, Club One paid tribute to their resident queen, sharing that “just as The Book shined the spotlight on Savannah, so too did Chablis shine the spotlight on the gay scene, and especially on Club One. She was Club One’s very first entertainer, officiating our grand opening in 1988, and paving the way for female impersonation in Savannah. No one, however, could outshine the Grand Empress herself.” And while Chablis may no longer be performing on the main stage at Club One, her legacy as a drag performer and transgender pioneer will live on for many generations to come.
I’ve always been fascinated with The Doll…something about her way of expressing herself made me feel like she was an old friend.
As for Alexis….The Arquette family has issued this statement:
“Our brother Robert, who became our brother Alexis, who became our sister Alexis, who became our brother Alexis, passed this morning September 11, at 12:32 am,” Richmond wrote. “He was surrounded by all of his brothers and sisters, one of his nieces and several other loved ones. We were playing music for him and he passed during David Bowie’s Starman. As per his wishes, we cheered at the moment that he transitioned to another dimension.”
The Arquette family have paid tribute to their daughter Alexis Arquette and commended her fight for the “understanding and acceptance” of the transgender community.
The Arquette family have requested privacy and asked for donations be made to organisations which support the LGBTQ community in her honour.
Her sibling’s statement in full:
“Our sister, Alexis Arquette, passed away this morning, September 11th, 2016.
“Alexis was a brilliant artist and painter, a singer, an entertainer and an actor. She starred in movies like ‘Last Exit to Brooklyn’, ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Jumpin’ at the Boneyard’, ‘Of Mice and Men’, ‘The Wedding Singer’, and ‘The Bride of Chucky’. Her career was cut short, not by her passing, but by her decision to live her truth and her life as a transgender woman. Despite the fact that there are few parts for trans actors, she refused to play roles that were demeaning or stereotypical. She was a vanguard in the fight for understanding and acceptance for all trans people.
“She fiercely lived her reality in a world where it is dangerous to be a trans person — a world largely unready to accept differences among human beings, and where there is still the ugliness of violence and hostility towards people that we may not understand.
“Alexis was born as Robert, our brother. We loved him the moment he arrived. But he came in as more than a sibling — he came as our great teacher. As Alexis transitioned into being a woman, she taught us tolerance and acceptance. As she moved through her process, she became our sister, teaching us what real love is.
“We learned what real bravery is through watching her journey of living as a trans woman. We came to discover the one truth — that love is everything.
“In the days leading to her death, she told us she was already visiting the other side, and that where she was going, there was only one gender. That on the other side, we are free from all of the things that separate us in this life, and that we are all one.
“She passed away surrounded by love. We held her and sang her David Bowie’s ‘Starman’ as she punched through the veil to the other side. We washed her body in rose petals and surrounded her with flowers.
“Alexis always had to do everything first. She left before we were ready to let her go. We are all heartbroken that she is no longer with us, but we are grateful for the grace and kindness we were all shown during this difficult time. We are comforted by the fact that Alexis came into our family and was our brother and then our sister, and that she gave us so much love. We will love you always, Alexis. We know we were the lucky ones.
“The family asks that in lieu of flowers or gifts, donations please be sent to organizations that support the LGBTQ community in honour of Alexis Arquette.
“Please respect our privacy during this time of grieving.”
Actress and transgender activist Alexis Arquette transitioned to a woman in her late thirties, so why did her brother, Richard, and ex-boyfriend, Ryan Black, refer to her with male pronouns? It’s especially confusing for some, considering sister Patricia referred to Alexis with all female pronouns in the family’s press release about Alexis’ death Sunday.
GLAAD, formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, encourages the media to becautious of “pronoun confusion”: “Ideally a story will not use pronouns associated with a person’s birth sex when referring to the person’s life prior to transition. Try to write transgender people’s stories from the present day, instead of narrating them from some point in the past, thus avoiding confusion and potentially disrespectful use of incorrect pronouns.”
The Associated Press Stylebook writes reporters should: “use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth. If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly.”
So if Alexis transitioned to a female more than a decade ago, why is there confusion about her gender? Lesser known to the public, Alexis became more fluid about her gender later in life. In fact, she said she was “not transgender anymore” when Caitlyn Jenner came out last year.
“She was like, ‘Yeah, sometimes I’ll be a man, sometimes I’ll be a woman. I like to refer to myself as gender suspicious,’” her brother, David Arquette, said on “Kocktails with Khloé” in February.
David was confused. “I said, ‘You’re my sister and brother?’” he recalled asking. “[Alexis] said, ‘It depends on how I’m dressed.’”
Alexis believed there was only one gender after death. “In the days leading to her death, she told us she was already visiting the other side, and that where she was going, there was only one gender,” Patricia wrote in the family’s press release. “That on the other side, we are free from all of the things that separate us in this life, and that we are all one.”
Arquette remained fiercely private about her health struggles and obstinate about seeking treatments, ignoring her friends’ and family’s entreaties to take the life-saving AIDS drugs that were emerging every year. In recent weeks, the battle became a losing one: Arquette, 47, had developed an infection in her liver that spread throughout her body.
She was pronounced dead at 12:32 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11. The news was first shared in a Facebook post from her eldest brother, Richmond Arquette, 53, perhaps the least-known member of a powerhouse acting family that includes Rosanna, 57, Patricia, 48, and David, 45. “Our brother Robert, who became our brother Alexis, who became our sister Alexis, who became our brother Alexis [has] passed,” began his announcement.
Alexis had left specific instructions for her death: David Bowie’s “Starman” was to play as her final moments approached. (Glam rock had always been her favorite genre of music, followed by new wave and punk.) And when the final breath passed her lips, she asked that everyone cheer “the moment that [s]he transitioned to another dimension.”
A few other links:
Whether or not AIDS complications played a role in either woman’s death, they can still teach us a lot about the health inequality of transgender life.
This week has seen the death of two famous transgender women. First was Lady Chablis, the 59-year-old African-American performer made famous by the best-selling book and later Clint Eastwood film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Chablis spent much of her life as an elegant and attractive cabaret performer at nightclubs in Savannah, Ga., and Columbia, S.C. Her death from pneumonia did little to diminish her star power which had grown from her role in Midnight (she played herself) to appearances on The Real Housewives of Atlanta and Bizarre Foods America: Savannah. According to The Advocate’s Neal Broverman, she continued her club performances, wrote an autobiography, and “used her fame for good, raising money for diabetes and LGBT causes. She remained beloved in Savannah, even though she lived in South Carolina.”
Lady Chamblis (above) made Savannah a destination
In her obituary, pneumonia was listed as the cause of Chablis’s death. Pneumonia, literally an infection in one or both lungs, affects 1 million people a year in the U.S. and kills about 50,000. There’s a vaccine, but it’s usually only recommended for people over 65 or those with immune system issues like HIV.
Pneumonia, just like what Hilary Clinton has, is common and can be caused by bacteria or viruses from things like the flu, whooping cough, and chicken pox. People who have HIV are more susceptible, as are those who smoke, or have diabetes, asthma, or heart disease. When people in the HIV world hear someone died of pneumonia, and they are otherwise in decent health, we can’t help but wonder if it that pneumonia was a complication of their HIV.
Chablis died, at 59, just days before actress-turned-artist Alexis Arquette did so as well.
Arquette, 47 at her death, was the second youngest of a Hollywood dynasty that began with her grandfather Cliff Arquette, a man who dressed as both Mrs. Butterworth (replete with falsetto and mustache) and a character, Charlie Weaver, that became so famous and ubiquitous he occupied the Hollywood Squares in character longer than most other stars of the time. (Cliff, in fact, was rarely seen in public without playing the Charlie Weaver character.)
The family bloodline traces back to Meriwether Lewis (half of for the the 1800s era Lewis and Clark Expedition) for whom Alexis’s own father was named. (He was on The Waltons.)
Arquette’s siblings — Rosanna, Richmond, Patricia, and David Arquette — were reportedly by her side at the end, and supportive throughout her tabloid-ridden life. But if People magazine, ex-boyfriend Robert DuPont, and “anonymous sources” are to be believed, Arquette died of complications from AIDS — an inoperable cancerous tumor and some sort of infection — at Cedars Sinai hospital, as her family played David Bowie’s “Starman.” These same “sources” reported that Arquette had been living in a West Hollywood, Calif. Actors Fund home for people with HIV, rather than with her wealthy siblings, out of a need for independence.
Here the thing about all this, and about the attendant reports debating over whether Arquette’s transition a decade ago was still relevant, whether she was misgendered by family members in death or whether she now identified as “gender suspicious” and thus open to pronouns of any sort — the thing here is that nothing about Arquette’s health or death has been confirmed by those closest to her, by her family or by her doctors, and until then we can’t say she had HIV at all. That won’t stop the tabloids though, which requires us, too, to comment.
The same can be said for Lady Chablis.
What we do know is that when we hear about transgender women dying in their 40s and 50s, and the cause isn’t violence, we know that complications from AIDS is a very real possibility. That’s because HIV disproportionately impacts transgender women, especially those, like Chablis, who are women of color. We know that the life expectancy for a a black trans woman it’s extremely low and often unlikely to be from old-age natural causes and far more likely to be violence or AIDS complications.
And, those of us in the world of HIV healthcare and activism know that for years, pneumonia and cancer have been code words for AIDS complications.
Go to the link to read the rest of that post…which also touches on the Hillary conspiracy.
This is an open thread. Please post links to whatever you like in the comments below. I just would like to end with this last bit from the very first article I discussed in this post. It phrases my thoughts and feelings:
Today, we are a little further down that road to equality thanks to pioneers like The Lady Chablis and Alexis Arquette, but our world is also a little dimmer without their light. The roles they won might seem small or stereotypical by today’s standards, but they were exceptional 20 years ago. Rest in power, Goddess Chablis and Goddess Arquette.
Rest in power is right…and may the glam be with you!