Sunday Reads: A tRump Wall Along the Trail of Tears…

 

 

 

Tuesday was like an emotional whiplash, driving to practice…I was crying for songs I heard on the radio, songs that really were not the kind to get weepy over. (I mean, John Mellencamp’s Check it Out?)

From Ellijay to Dalton, the original Trail of Tears…

 

Home of James and Joseph Vann, on the Chieftains Trail in Nortthwest GeorgiaI take a route that follows the exact path of the Trail of Tears, even passing by Chief Vann House that sits atop a hill overlooking a four corner stop that is home to two gas stations and a used car lot. This grand house that once belonged to James Vann, a member of the Cherokee elite. It was built in 1804…and in 1819 President James Monroe spent the night in this home of Cherokee honor. The Vann family continued to live there until February 1835, when James Vann’s eldest son Joseph…and his family were forcibly removed. Imagine, a family whose home once hosted the President of the United States, forced from that home by a different President…sixteen years later. And who was that President? Andrew Jackson, of course.

1830

  • Jackson authorizes Indian Removal Act of 1830.

1835

  • Jackson signs Treaty of New Echota with unrecognized leaders of Cherokee Nation, which allows him to force the Cherokees to move to land in what is now Oklahoma. 4,000 Native Americans die on this journey, also known as the Trail of Tears.

I wonder if Jackson would have called the number of deaths due to his Trail of Tears, “fake news” if Twitter was around back then?

But back to what I was saying….

While following this path of sorrow and death, that is constantly in my thoughts as I drive, I think about the horrors the Cherokee experienced so many years ago.

I think about the irony, that not a half a mile away from the Vann house, along the original route….the original round up route, there is this sign. Blatant. Hate filled. Disgusting.

You should see the other side of this sign, the tRump is surrounded by “patriotic” colored “bricks” of red, white and blue…to make a symbolic wall.

Yes, on this Trail of Tears, there is a wall of support for tRump. The twist of the screw is painful. This tRump supporter is so deplorable, he puts up a sign expressing bigoted racist views, on a road that many years ago…thousands of Native Americans died on while they were rounded up and kicked out of their own country.  And the frosting, the person responsible for this horrendous Act, is the one President that tRump admires most.

On Tuesday, it seemed to truly come into focus.

It was an anniversary, thousands were killed 17 years ago. The death totals from Hurricane Maria were finally making news, in fact it would only be a matter of 36 hours before tRump would tweet this disgusting shit:

 

 

There was only a sliver of a moon on Tuesday, it was the same orange color as the other bright star in the sky…Mars. The road was pitch black. I could see nothing at all, except for the area that my headlights illuminated. I was startled to see a horse and rider coming towards me on the right hand side of the road. This original road marking the Trail of tears.

The horse and the rider were all dark, nothing alerted me to their presence except for the whiteness of the rider’s bare feet. I know it is strange but those white bottoms of a shoe-less rider hit me like a slap across my face. The horse, saddled…not bare backed. The rider fully dressed including a cowboy hat, but riding barefoot? And my headlights reflecting back to me the whiteness of the soles of his feet.

The darkness surrounding this Trail of Tears. The darkness of the day, September 11th. The hate filled sign of a tRump Wall and an American Flag.  It seemed to echo back to the sliver of a blood orange moon…was it waning or waxing? I am so tired of the months that go by…watching everything going to hell. I just want to sleep. No more, please, no more.

 

 

 

 

This is an open thread…please post links to worldly events below.

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Monday Reads: A Soundtrack and President* for the Ignorant

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I’ve had a rough week trying to deal with the fall out from the extreme temperatures, snow, and ice here.  It seems my cable box went because water pooled in the connections outside.  My electrician discovered a few sockets that were acting up, we basically took them off line, and now I have my office and desk back. I also can watch news again which is something I haven’t been able to do for about a week now.  What’s that they say about ignorance is bliss? As you can see, black activist James Baldwin had some other thoughts and I’m certain he couldn’t see far enough into the future to imagine the horror show today.

An ABC/Washington Post Poll shows that “Almost half of voters question Trump’s mental stability”. The other’s can’t be paying attention or are being deliberately obtuse.

Forty-eight percent of voters think Trump is mentally stable, versus the 47 percent of voters who think he is not.

Trump’s job approval rating at his one year mark is at 36 percent, while 58 disapprove. The next lowest approval rating from a president at one year was Gerald Ford in 1975 with 45 percent.

The president earlier this month defended his mental stability and his intelligence in a series of tweets following questions about his mental stability that were sparked by journalist Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury.”

The Government has been shutdown by Trump and his xenophobic and racist cronies. Well, from the sounds of it, it is mostly because of hard lines drawn by Kelly and Miller.  The Senate will vote on the short down at noon.

Key senators are meeting ahead of a high-stakes vote at noon Monday on a bill to reopen the government and fund it for three weeks, though it remains unclear if this plan will win over enough Democrats to pass.

The vote comes several hours after the workday for hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal employees was supposed to have begun, and comes three days after the government officially shut down Friday at midnight. Many of the shutdown’s full effects were less visible during the weekend, when much of the federal workforce would typically be off anyway.

“I don’t think this is the right way to get policy outcomes is to shut the government down. When we tried it, it didn’t work well for us,” GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told reporters, appearing alongside GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Jeff Flake of Arizona. “Here’s what I predict. Once we start talking about immigration and voting on immigration, we’ll find 60 votes to make sure these DACA recipients’ lives are not ruined by March 5.”

The Senate vote was moved from 1 a.m. ET Monday to noon after it became clear Democrats would block the spending bill over disagreements on a variety of issues, most notably what do about young people affected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas said he thought Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York agreed to push back the vote to give his caucus “a chance to chew” on a GOP proposal to break the impasse.

“It’s better to have a successful vote tomorrow at noon than a failed vote tonight,” Cornyn told reporters.

Stephen Miller continues to be the voice of white supremacy in the White House and appears to be one of the main obstacles to settling anything.

On Sunday, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) — whose doomed immigration compromise with Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) was the target of that Trump tirade in the Oval Office — blasted Miller as a primary reason for the continuing standoff over border issues.

“As long as Stephen Miller is in charge of negotiating immigration, we are going nowhere. He’s been an outlier for years,” Graham told reporters at the Capitol. “I’ve talked with the president; his heart is right on this issue. He’s got a good understanding of what will sell. And every time we have a proposal, it is only yanked back by staff members.”

 The reality, though, is arguably more complicated.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, said Trump has hawkish immigration views on a gut level but doesn’t necessarily understand all of the policy details and implications. He said Miller and Chief of Staff John F. Kelly — who also plays a crucial role in immigration policy — are “not so much yanking the president’s leash” as doing “the proper job of staff” by steering the president to his goals.

“There was a story line that people were developing in their own minds that Miller is the source of evil and without him everything would be great,” Krikorian said. “The truth is the president is committed to this general perspective on immigration, and Miller and Kelly are there to help him implement what he always wanted to do.”

Miller’s driving obsession is immigration, an area where he has long pushed hard-line positions going back to his days as a combative conservative activist at Duke University. In Washington, as an aide to then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), he was instrumental in helping to kill a bipartisan effort in 2013 for a broad immigration deal. He and Sessions helped galvanize House conservatives to block the bill passed by the Senate, including distributing a handbook of talking points aimed at undercutting the compromise.

 

In an astounding, Orwellian move, the Trump Justice Department put out a completely false narrative on the source of terrorism in the US blaming those not born in the United States and inferring they were pretty much from Trump’s “shithole” countries.  This was an end run around DHS analysts which have long determined that this is not the case.

The document didn’t mince words. It claimed three-quarters of “international terrorism” convicts were immigrants, an assertion meant to bolster Donald Trump’s cherished Muslim-focused ban on entering the country. And the report put the claim in the mouths of an agency assembled to keep Americans safe after 9/11: the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Working off the 549 federal international-terrorism convictions tallied by the Justice Department, the document stated: “An analysis conducted by DHS determined that approximately 73 percent (402 of these 549 individuals) were foreign-born.”

But the Department of Homeland Security did not perform that analysis. DHS’ analysts did not contribute to the highly controversial report, The Daily Beast has learned.

According to a government source familiar with the episode, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ office took charge of the report’s assemblage of statistics—which some terrorism analysts consider highly misleading—and sent it to DHS Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen for her imprimatur after it was all but finalized.

“The Trump administration is trying to turn counterterrorism into an immigration issue,” said Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina, where he tracks Muslim-American involvement in terrorism.

Career professional analysts at DHS communicated to the Justice Departmentthat the data sought for the report simply did not exist within their department. DHS, multiple sources said, does not track or correlate international terrorism data by citizenship or country of origin, and have warned the Trump administration that doing so risks a misleading portrait of both terrorism and immigration.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg adds to the voices with #MeToo stories.  You can view the interview at the link.

Long before she donned a black judge’s robe, before she led a decades-long legal fight for gender equality, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a young, studious college kid taking a chemistry class at Cornell University.

One day, as she was preparing for a test, she told her professor she felt uncomfortable with some of the material.

“He said, ‘I’ll give you a practice exam,’” Ginsburg recalled in an interview Sunday with NPR’s Nina Totenberg at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

When Ginsburg went to class the next day, she discovered that the professor had actually just slipped her an advance copy of the real test. “And I knew exactly what he wanted in return,” she said. “And that’s just one of many examples.”

Ginsburg recounted the story in a roughly 90-minute discussion with Totenberg that touched on the 84-year-old justice’s experiences with sexual misconduct and her reaction to the #MeToo movement, as well as her career as a women’s rights advocate and her future on the high court. She was in Utah for the premiere of “RBG,” a new documentary about her life that was co-produced by CNN.

Susan Glasser writes about historian Walter Russell Mead and how his influence has led to a following in the Trump White House for genocidal President Andrew Jackson.

Bannon had seized on Mead’s work as part of his war on the other factions inside Trump’s White House, and especially the hyper-entitled family members like son-in-law Jared Kushner and “globalists” like national security adviser H.R. McMaster he viewed as selling out Trump’s “America First” vision to the more conventional course preferred by the Washington establishment. In the rumpled Mead and his writings about the “Jacksonian” tradition in American foreign policy, Bannon saw a populist kindred spirit—and a suitably rabble-rousing model for the antiestablishment course he hoped Trump would follow.

Trump agreed, which is why the Jackson portrait went up and the president was visiting Old Hickory’s Tennessee home within weeks of his inauguration, never mind the instant outcry that greeted Trump’s embrace of a slaveholding, Native American-fighting early 19th century predecessor as his role model. “That’s what Steve Bannon told me,” Mead recalled in a new interview for The Global Politico, our weekly podcast on world affairs. “There was this Jacksonian moment.”

Even now, exactly a year after Trump’s inauguration, Mead says that while Bannon has been purged from the White House, Bannonism—and by extension the bowdlerized, 21st century version of Jacksonianism he was peddling—has not. If you want to understand Trump’s otherwise incomprehensible presidency, Mead argues, you need to understand America’s seventh president.

“The Steve Bannon side of the Trump presidency remains very Jacksonian. Bannon isn’t in the White House, and he’s not welcome I think, but his influence is still felt,” Mead says. “Trump’s base remains Jacksonian. And Trump knows how to play to this base. So even as Trump has kind of adjusted in some ways to the necessities of the Washington establishment and, you know, ‘Well, you can’t just completely reinvent American foreign policy,’ he continues to orient in this way.”

After all, Mead notes, Bannon may be gone, but as for the president, “He still has a portrait of Andrew Jackson hanging in the Oval Office.”

Religious Extremists in HHS are blurring the line between church and state. They’re attacking the rights of women and GLBT people. Read this sad state of affairs investigated by Politico.

A small cadre of politically prominent evangelicals inside the Department of Health and Human Services have spent months quietly planning how to weaken federal protections for abortion and transgender care — a strategy that’s taking shape in a series of policy moves that took even their own staff by surprise.

Those officials include Roger Severino, an anti-abortion lawyer who now runs the Office of Civil Rights and last week laid out new protections allowing health care workers with religious or moral objections to abortion and other procedures to opt out. Shannon Royce, the agency’s key liaison with religious and grass-roots organizations, has also emerged as a pivotal player.

“To have leaders like Roger, like Shannon, it’s so important,” said Deanna Wallace of Americans United for Life, an anti-abortion group that was frequently at odds with the Obama administration. “It’s extremely encouraging to have HHS on our side this time.”

But inside HHS, staff say that those leaders are steering their offices to support evangelicals at the expense of other voices, such as a recent decision to selectively post public comments that were overwhelmingly anti-abortion. “It’s supposed to be the faith-based partnership center, not the Christian-based partnership center,” said a longtime HHS staffer, referencing the HHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships led by Royce.

More than a dozen current and former HHS staffers, who requested anonymity to speak freely, spoke with POLITICO for this story. HHS declined to make top officials available for interviews.

Many police continue to react with violence against members of minorities.  La Mesa police violently handcuffed and slammed a 17 year old girl to the ground at her school. The incident was caught on video.

Officers were called to the school when a 17-year-old student who had been suspended refused to leave the University Avenue campus, La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez said in a statement.

A school resource officer tried to get the girl to leave voluntarily, then ordered her to do so. When she didn’t cooperate, the officer handcuffed her and began walking her to the school’s office, Vasquez said.

“As they were walking, the student became non-compliant on two separate occasions and made an attempt to free herself by pulling away from the officer,” the chief said. “To prevent the student from escaping, the officer forced the student to the ground.”

In video of the incident, the officer is seen throwing the girl over his shoulder onto the concrete sidewalk. He then used the weight of his body to pin her to the ground.

The officer forced her to the ground twice, witnesses said.

Vasquez said that after the student agreed to quit resisting or trying to escape, the officer helped her up and walked her to his patrol vehicle.

Police said that the student suffered minor abrasions during the incident and that she was evaluated by paramedics at the police station who determined she didn’t require treatment.

Aeiramique Blake, speaking on behalf of the girl’s family, said the incident has been mischaracterized by police.

Blake said the teen was assigned to in-school suspension for tardiness when the girl told an instructor she wasn’t feeling well. The student explained she was anemic and had experienced similar feelings before, but the teacher allegedly accused her of being on drugs, Blake said.

Is it really so difficult for people to see the underlying tribal hatred that’s leading to increased violence, denial of basic rights, dehumanization of so many of our citizens simply because they are not white, male, straight, and the right flavor of christian?  We have always had the stain of slavery and patriarchy follow our country on its path to the future.  How could so much ignorance come to such a place of power when we’ve made it through so much?

It’s good to be back with y’all but it’s certainly a day of highly disturbing news, policy, and stories.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?  Share the knowledge.


Monday Reads and Alternative History: President Swiss Cheese Brain can’t remember Why we had a Civil War

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I’ve spent a few hours rereading the latest Trump interviews with his usual displays of argle bargle.  Yes. He still is obsessed with the idea Obama wiretapped him.  Yes. He is still obsessed with losing the popular vote and screaming fake news!. Then, there’s his obsession with Andrew Jackson that appears to be based on anything but history. It seems America’s genocidal maniac could’ve prevent the Civil War from the grave according to Trump’s Alternative History Facts.

How many people do you know that would ask this question other than maybe a first grader?  “Trump: ‘Why was there the Civil War?'”  Oh, and how many of you–knowing that Andrew Jackson was responsible for the big  win of the War of 1812–would live long enough to be around for say, the Civil War?  I assuming you’re reaching down there for the kids you know attending nursery school.  I would certainly expect some one who was sent to private military school which is full of old men fascinated by wars would have learned about the entire Civil War and the Battle of New Orleans.  Wouldn’t you?

President Trump during an interview that airs Monday questioned why the country had a Civil War and suggested former President Andrew Jackson could have prevented it had he served later.

“I mean had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later you wouldn’t have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart,” Trump said during an interview with the Washington Examiner’s Salena Zito.

“He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said, ‘There’s no reason for this.'”

Jackson, the nation’s seventh president, died in 1845. The Civil War began in 1861.

The president further questioned why the country could not have solved the Civil War.

“People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why?” Trump said during the edition of “Main Street Meets the Beltway” scheduled to air on SiriusXM.

“People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”

During the interview, the president also compared his win to that of Jackson.

“My campaign and win was most like Andrew Jackson, with his campaign. And I said, when was Andrew Jackson? It was 1828. That’s a long time ago,” Trump said.

“That’s Andrew Jackson. And he had a very, very mean and nasty campaign. Because they said this was the meanest and the nastiest. And unfortunately, it continues.”

Andrew Jackson was a racist and he acted on it.   He was a slave owner.

“Stop the Runaway,” Andrew Jackson urged in an ad placed in the Tennessee Gazette in October 1804. The future president gave a detailed description: A “Mulatto Man Slave, about thirty years old, six feet and an inch high, stout made and active, talks sensible, stoops in his walk, and has a remarkable large foot, broad across the root of the toes — will pass for a free man …”

Jackson, who would become the country’s seventh commander in chief in 1829, promised anyone who captured this “Mulatto Man Slave” a reward of $50, plus “reasonable” expenses paid.
Jackson added a line that some historians find particularly cruel.
It offered “ten dollars extra, for every hundred lashes any person will give him, to the amount of three hundred.”
The ad was signed, “ANDREW JACKSON, Near Nashville, State of Tennessee.”

Jackson, whose face is on the $20 bill and who President Trump paid homage to in March, owned about 150 enslaved people at The Hermitage, his estate near Nashville, when he died in 1845, according to records. On Monday, President Trump created a furor when he suggested in an interview an interview with the Washington Examiner’s Salena Zito that Jackson could have prevented the Civil War.

 

Just for good measure, let me also point you to Andrew Jackson’s message to Congress on ‘Indian Removal.’  It’s about the policy that sent two Southern Tribes on a Trail of Tears that was nothing short of mass genocide.

“It gives me pleasure to announce to Congress that the benevolent policy of the Government, steadily pursued for nearly thirty years, in relation to the removal of the Indians beyond the white settlements is approaching to a happy consummation. Two important tribes have accepted the provision made for their removal at the last session of Congress, and it is believed that their example will induce the remaining tribes also to seek the same obvious advantages.

The consequences of a speedy removal will be important to the United States, to individual States, and to the Indians themselves. The pecuniary advantages which it promises to the Government are the least of its recommendations. It puts an end to all possible danger of collision between the authorities of the General and State Governments on account of the Indians. It will place a dense and civilized population in large tracts of country now occupied by a few savage hunters. By opening the whole territory between Tennessee on the north and Louisiana on the south to the settlement of the whites it will incalculably strengthen the southwestern frontier and render the adjacent States strong enough to repel future invasions without remote aid. It will relieve the whole State of Mississippi and the western part of Alabama of Indian occupancy, and enable those States to advance rapidly in population, wealth, and power. It will separate the Indians from immediate contact with settlements of whites; free them from the power of the States; enable them to pursue happiness in their own way and under their own rude institutions; will retard the progress of decay, which is lessening their numbers, and perhaps cause them gradually, under the protection of the Government and through the influence of good counsels, to cast off their savage habits and become an interesting, civilized, and Christian community.  

What good man would prefer a country covered with forests and ranged by a few thousand savages to our extensive Republic, studded with cities, towns, and prosperous farms embellished with all the improvements which art can devise or industry execute, occupied by more than 12,000,000 happy people, and filled with all the blessings of liberty, civilization and religion? The present policy of the Government is but a continuation of the same progressive change by a milder process. The tribes which occupied the countries now constituting the Eastern States were annihilated or have melted away to make room for the whites. The waves of population and civilization are rolling to the westward, and we now propose to acquire the countries occupied by the red men of the South and West by a fair exchange, and, at the expense of the United States, to send them to land where their existence may be prolonged and perhaps made perpetual.

But hey, in Trump’s swiss cheese-like brain: “Trump proposes an alternate history where Civil War was avoided.”

Trump’s Jackson obsession likely comes from Steve Bannon.

But the reason Jackson has taken on such a physical and rhetorical presence in the Trump White House is, in fact, primarily because of Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist and the former head of Breitbart. According to officials in the Trump campaign, presidential transition, and administration speaking to The Daily Beast, Bannon would often discuss Jackson’s historical legacy and image with Trump on and after the campaign trail, and how the two political figures were a lot alike.

“[During the race], Trump would say he had heard this pundit or this person making the comparison, and [Steve] would encourage him and tell him how it was true,” a Trump campaign adviser who requested anonymity to speak freely told The Daily Beast. “It was a way to flatter [Trump], too. Bannon and Trump talked about a lot, but this was the president they had casual [conversations] about the most.”

Another senior Team Trump official said that “as the transition was underway, he would encourage [Trump] to play up the comparison,” and that “Trump’s campaign and message was a clear descendant of Jacksonian populism and anti-political elitism.”

“[Bannon] is why Trump keeps equating himself with Andrew Jackson. That is the reason why,” the aide added.

According to two sources with knowledge of the matter, Bannon had suggested and had given Trump a “reading list” of articles and biographies on Jackson, and reading material on Jacksonian democracy and populism. Stephen Miller, another top Trump adviser, also recommended and offered related reading material to Trump, a senior Trump administration official said.

Quick Baby and Corgi Break before we move on to more depressing stuff about Kremlin Caligula.  I’m moving towards the school of thought that we need a happy sanity break of the kind BB provides.

Okay, that’s not enough! Try this from Samatha Bee on what we coulda shoulda had instead of a mentally and emotionally deranged baby man in the nation’s seat of power.

Other news about Brutal, murdering Dictators beloved by Kremlin Caligula:

Trump Says He’d Meet With North Korea’s Kim If Situation’s Right via Bloomberg.  Maybe he needs to appoint Dennis Rodman to the State Department. Most of the jobs are open there.

President Donald Trump said he would meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un amid heightened tensions over his country’s nuclear weapons program if the circumstances were right.

“If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it,” Trump said Monday in an Oval Office interview with Bloomberg News. “If it’s under the, again, under the right circumstances. But I would do that.”

The U.S. has no diplomatic relations with North Korea, and as recently as last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at the United Nations that the U.S. would negotiate with Kim’s regime only if it made credible steps toward giving up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

“Most political people would never say that,” Trump said of his willingness to meet with the reclusive Kim, “but I’m telling you under the right circumstances I would meet with him. We have breaking news.”

“Philippines’ Duterte on Trump’s White House invitation: ‘I’m tied up'” via The Hill.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said he could not commit to visiting the White House after President Trump invited him this weekend, saying “I am tied up.”

“I cannot make any definite promise. I am supposed to go to Russia; I am supposed to go to Israel,” he said, according to Yahoo News.

Trump’s invitation to Duterte, who has been accused of backing the vigilante execution of people involved in the drug trade and threatening journalists and political opponents, drew criticism from human rights groups. He invited the controversial leader to the White House without consulting the State Department or the National Security Council.

“By essentially endorsing Duterte’s murderous war on drugs, Trump is now morally complicit in future killings,” John Sifton of Human Rights Watch told the New York Times.

“AFTER A HUNDRED DAYS, TRUMP IS TRUMP IS TRUMP”   which contains analysis by John Cassiday of The New Yorker.

If you want Trump to say something nice about you, it helps enormously if you are an authoritarian leader. Now that the continuing investigations into Russian interference in the election have forced him to be more reticent about exalting the virtues of Vladimir Putin, Trump is evidently seeking out other soul mates. On Saturday, he invited Rodrigo Duterte, the brutish President of the Philippines, who human-rights groups have accused of presiding over hundreds or thousands of extrajudicial killings in a drug war, to visit Washington.

In an interview broadcast on Sunday on “Face the Nation,” Trump even had some complimentary things to say about North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-un, who is widely regarded as unstable. Noting that Kim had acceded to power at a young age and asserted his control over his generals and other family members, Trump said, “So, obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie. But we have a situation that we just cannot let—we cannot let what’s been going on for a long period of years continue.”

One situation that will continue, it seems, is Trump’s inability to take responsibility for any failures or mistakes on his part. When CBS’s John Dickerson asked him, “What do you know now on day one hundred that you wish you knew on day one of the Presidency?” Trump replied, “Well, one of the things that I’ve learned is how dishonest the media is.” Pressed by Dickerson on whether there was anything else he’d picked up, he said, “Well, I think things generally tend to go a little bit slower than you’d like them to go . . . . It’s just a very, very bureaucratic system. I think the rules in Congress and in particular the rules in the Senate are unbelievably archaic and slow moving.”

This comment jibed with something Trump said in an interview last week with Reuters, when he complained that, “This is more work than my previous life. I thought it would be easier.” Trump seems to have entered the Oval Office blissfully unaware of how the American political system works, or of the fact that the Founding Fathers purposefully placed strict limits on the power of the Presidency. Since January 20th, Congress and the judiciary have taught him some harsh lessons, and it’s clear he hasn’t enjoyed them. To Dickerson, he went so far as to claim that the system was “unfair—in many cases, you’re forced to make deals that are not the deal you’d make.”

So, I saved the most shocking for last and this is from TPM’s Josh Marshall . ” Priebus: Trump Considering Amending or Abolishing 1st Amendment.”

A number of press reports have picked up this exchange this morning between ABC’s Jonathan Karl and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. But people have missed the real significance. Priebus doesn’t discuss changing ‘press laws’ or ‘libel laws’. He specifically says that the White House has considered and continues to consider amending or even abolishing the 1st Amendment because of critical press coverage of President Trump.

Sound hyperbolic? Look at the actual exchange (emphasis added) …

KARL: I want to ask you about two things the President has said on related issues. First of all, there was what he said about opening up the libel laws. Tweeting “the failing New York Times has disgraced the media world. Gotten me wrong for two solid years. Change the libel laws?” That would require, as I understand it, a constitutional amendment. Is he really going to pursue that? Is that something he wants to pursue?

PRIEBUS: I think it’s something that we’ve looked at. How that gets executed or whether that goes anywhere is a different story. But when you have articles out there that have no basis or fact and we’re sitting here on 24/7 cable companies writing stories about constant contacts with Russia and all these other matters—

KARL: So you think the President should be able to sue the New York Times for stories he doesn’t like?

PRIEBUS: Here’s what I think. I think that newspapers and news agencies need to be more responsible with how they report the news. I am so tired.

KARL: I don’t think anybody would disagree with that. It’s about whether or not the President should have a right to sue them.

PRIEBUS: And I already answered the question. I said this is something that is being looked at. But it’s something that as far as how it gets executed, where we go with it, that’s another issue.

It’s really difficult to know why any of this has come about in our Republic at this point in time.  A handful of angry white people in a few states targeted by Russian propaganda and enabled by voter suppression laws brought this on us.   How do we get rid of him?

Trump’s critics are actively exploring the path to impeachment or the invocation of the Twenty-fifth Amendment, which allows for the replacement of a President who is judged to be mentally unfit. During the past few months, I interviewed several dozen people about the prospects of cutting short Trump’s Presidency. I spoke to his friends and advisers; to lawmakers and attorneys who have conducted impeachments; to physicians and historians; and to current members of the Senate, the House, and the intelligence services. By any normal accounting, the chance of a Presidency ending ahead of schedule is remote. In two hundred and twenty-eight years, only one President has resigned; two have been impeached, though neither was ultimately removed from office; eight have died. But nothing about Trump is normal. Although some of my sources maintained that laws and politics protect the President to a degree that his critics underestimate, others argued that he has already set in motion a process of his undoing. All agree that Trump is unlike his predecessors in ways that intensify his political, legal, and personal risks. He is the first President with no prior experience in government or the military, the first to retain ownership of a business empire, and the oldest person ever to assume the Presidency.

For Trump’s allies, the depth of his unpopularity is an urgent cause for alarm. “You can’t govern this country with a forty-per-cent approval rate. You just can’t,” Stephen Moore, a senior economist at the Heritage Foundation, who advised Trump during the campaign, told me. “Nobody in either party is going to bend over backwards for Trump if over half the country doesn’t approve of him. That, to me, should be a big warning sign.”

Trump has embraced strategies that normally boost popularity, such as military action. In April, some pundits were quick to applaud him for launching a cruise-missile attack on a Syrian airbase, and for threatening to attack North Korea. In interviews, Trump marvelled at the forces at his disposal, like a man wandering into undiscovered rooms of his house. (“It’s so incredible. It’s brilliant.”) But the Syria attack only briefly reversed the slide in Trump’s popularity; it remained at historic lows.

It is not a good sign for a beleaguered President when his party gets dragged down, too. From January to April, the number of Americans who had a favorable view of the Republican Party dropped seven points, to forty per cent, according to the Pew Research Center. I asked Jerry Taylor, the president of the Niskanen Center, a libertarian think tank, if he had ever seen so much skepticism so early in a Presidency. “No, nobody has,” he said. “But we’ve never lived in a Third World banana republic. I don’t mean that gratuitously. I mean the reality is he is governing as if he is the President of a Third World country: power is held by family and incompetent loyalists whose main calling card is the fact that Donald Trump can trust them, not whether they have any expertise.” Very few Republicans in Congress have openly challenged Trump, but Taylor cautioned against interpreting that as committed support. “My guess is that there’s only between fifty and a hundred Republican members of the House that are truly enthusiastic about Donald Trump as President,” he said. “The balance sees him as somewhere between a deep and dangerous embarrassment and a threat to the Constitution.”

The Administration’s defiance of conventional standards of probity makes it acutely vulnerable to ethical scandal. The White House recently stopped releasing visitors’ logs, limiting the public’s ability to know who is meeting with the President and his staff. Trump has also issued secret waivers to ethics rules, so that political appointees can alter regulations that they previously lobbied to dismantle.

I’m down with whatever it takes.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads

jackson squareGood afternoon!

BostonBoomer got into a bad fight with a bush that needed trimming and came out the loser yesterday.  She’s laid up at her mother’s house with a terrible, horrible, awful, very bad rash.  So, I’m writing today’s post and it’s on the tardy side as usual these days.  I’ve never been a morning person but now I have no reason to be since all my lectures, etc. happen in the evening. So, I’m just going to get us caught up on some thoughts today on the cultural shift of the last few weeks and give you a few suggested reads.

There’s some interesting things going on in New Orleans that I thought I’d share with you.  We’re a southern city in a southern state even though our history is more nuanced that some of the other southern states and cities.  There are two very prominent statues in the city from our past.  The first is one of Andrew Jackson atop a stallion to recognize his role in the Battle of New Orleans.LA-Bldg_0170_1_2_3_4_tone-merge-1024x605

The second statue stands on top of a huge column and is part of a traffic roundabout called Lee Circle.  It is, of course, a statue of Robert E. Lee the Confederate General.  Lee looks more than a little defiant with his back to the Mississippi and his arms crossed. He faces due North.  

Mayor Mitch Landrieu has decided that he’d like to take down the statue and rename the circle because he feels that it’s a little too much of a monument to a confederate general.  My question is when do we cross the line from glorification of past sins to erasing some history that we need to really discuss and understand.

Lee was not exactly Nathan Bedford Forrest, the ex-Confederate General who helped to found the KKK. Nor, was Lee a particularly gung-ho Confederate General to start out with if you remember your history.  Lee did something completely different than Forrest after the Civil War.  He became an educator and an advocate of educating black Americans. Lee also freed his slaves 10 years before the war. So, he was a complex man with a complex history as are most of our historical figures.  Still, both of these men who led an insurrection need to be understood without glorification. Can a monument area become an outdoor teaching museum made to elucidate instead of glorify just as many of our National Parks and Museums already do.

After the Battle of New Orleans, Andrew Jackson became a U.S. President who is notable for the “Trail of Tears” which was the policy of forcibly and violently removing Native Americans from their land.  The Chocktaw nation was removed from their land in the south and sent on what amounted to a death march west to what is now Oklahoma.  There are two National Parks where Jackson figures prominently. One is the Chalmette Battlefield site where the Battle of New Orleans took place.  The other is Trail of Tears National History Trail.   One is a site of national pride.  The other is a site of national shame.  Jackson, you may recall, is still etched on our $20 bill. If any one’s statue needs to come down it is surely that of Andrew Jackson.

However, history is a nuanced bitch and should never be white washed or banned or removed.  While I fully support removing the Confederate Battle Flag off of public buildings that aren’t museums, I question the wisdom of Mitch Landrieu and others who want to remove monuments rather than use them as an opportunity to teach.

Again, If any one deserves to have all his monuments torn down it is the genocidal Jackson.   Yet, without the win at the Battle of New Orleans we might have a totally different history with the British.  The citizenry who could vote at the time made him President.  He was an extremely controversial President and at times very unpopular for a variety of reasons.  Studying the variety of reasons helps us to learn about past mistakes and the ramifications of these mistakes to our present and future.

Andrew Jackson had long been an advocate of what he called “Indian removal.” As an Army general, he had spent years leading brutal campaigns against the Creeks in Georgia and Alabama and the Seminoles in Florida–campaigns that resulted in the transfer of hundreds of thousands of acres of land from Indian nations to white farmers. As president, he continued this crusade. In 1830, he signed the Indian Removal Act, which gave the federal government the power to exchange Native-held land in the cotton kingdom east of the Mississippi for land to the west, in the “Indian colonization zone” that the United States had acquired as part of the Louisiana Purchase. (This “Indian territory” was located in present-day Oklahoma.)

The law required the government to negotiate removal treaties fairly, voluntarily and peacefully: It did not permit the president or anyone else to coerce Native nations into giving up their land. However, President Jackson and his government frequently ignored the letter of the law and forced Native Americans to vacate lands they had lived on for generations. In the winter of 1831, under threat of invasion by the U.S. Army, the Choctaw became the first nation to be expelled from its land altogether. They made the journey to Indian territory on foot (some “bound in chains and marched double file,” one historian writes) and without any food, supplies or other help from the government. Thousands of people died along the way. It was, one Choctaw leader told an Alabama newspaper, a “trail of tears and death.”

This is what Mitch says about removing the Lee Statue and redoing Lee Circle. 

Now is the time to talk about replacing the statue of Robert E. Lee, as iconic as it is controversial, from its perch at the center of Lee Circle, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced Wednesday (June 24) during a gathering held to highlight his racial reconciliation initiative.

“Symbols really do matter,” he said. “Symbols should reflect who we really are as a people.

“We have never been a culture, in essence, that revered war rather than peace, division rather than unity.”

[Listen to Landrieu’s speech on why Lee Circle should be renamed, or read a full article on his announcement here. ]

The slaying last week of nine black people in a historic Charleston, S.C., church at the hands of Dylann Roof, an avowed white supremacist, has sparked heated debate about whether the Confederate battle flag and other symbols associated with the country’s racist past ought to be displayed in public places.

Just two days ago, Landrieu was noncommittal when asked whether the Lee statue should be removed, though he called for a larger discussion on it and other Confederate monuments in New Orleans. The 2018 Tricentennial Commission, whose tasks include addressing the city’s complex racial history ahead of its 300th anniversary, would also examine the propriety of the monuments continued display on public property, the mayor’s office said.

“These symbols say who we were in a particular time, but times change. Yet these symbols — statues, monuments, street names, and more — still influence who we are and how we are perceived by the world,” a spokesman said in a statement. “Mayor Landrieu believes it is time to look at the symbols in this city to see if they still have relevance to our future.”

Now, I will give him credit if he manages to get Jefferson Davis Parkway renamed.  That shocked me the first time I saw it.  But, there’s an opportunity lost in the Lee Circle suggestion.  That opportunity is to highlight a complex moment in history and a complex man.  One of his former slaves Rev. William Mac Lee wrote some fascinating bits about their lives together.  

There are many more things that we could learn about the horrible institution of slavery and the men that enabled it. That’s a real conversation we need to have about race.  That institution has shaped race relations in this country.  We can’t bury or white wash the past by removing all elements of it.  We need not glorify the men, but we do need to understand the history and work to ensure we correct the sins and errors of the past. We also, need to instruct on how their actions inform our lives now by including more into these monuments or parks. Rev William Mac Lee wrote this about his former owner.

I was raised by one of the greatest men in the world. There was never one born of a woman greater than Gen. Robert E. Lee, according to my judgment. All of his servants were set free ten years before the war, but all remained on the plantation until after the surrender.

trailoftears05We have an opportunity in these places where monuments reside to discuss the sins, the complexities, and all of the people impacted both past, present and future.  There’s more than enough land there to introduce us to William Mac Lee and his descendants as they struggle to navigate the post Civil War South as well as understand the ways that Lee atoned and evolved.

Even statues of the nasty Nathan Bedford Forrest give us an opportunity to put a face and history on the horrible acts of the KKK including lynchings which were frequent and savage in many parts of our country. So, rather than just bury this history and these men, why not use the sites to explore the history of the lives they shaped?  Lee became an advocate of black education even while maintaining the racist notions of the time that African Americans were savages that could eventually be brought to full status through education.  That’s an attitude that needs elucidation because it still informs many in the South. I remember thinking of Lee when Barbara Bush made her pronouncement at the AstroDome on Katrina refuges.  Forrest created the original domestic terrorist organization.  How did these men take such different paths? How far have we come or not come since then?

So, in all of this call to bring down monuments, I hear no similar call to remove the statue of the genocidal Jackson that is also surrounded by enough land for us to be regaled not only with his victory at the Battle of New Orleans but his savage treatment of the Southern Tribes.  The square could be used to connect the Jackson of Chalmette Battlefield to the Jackson of The Trail of Tears.  For some reason, we seem incapable of grabbing teaching moments when they are upon us.  But think, no one plowed under the major concentration camps and there are Holocaust Museums.  They are are there for us to learn, understand, and evolve.

The SPLC has asked that holidays celebrated in the names of Jeff Davis and Robert E Lee be dropped.  This is appropriate.  It’s important to remove the glorification even while we search for deeper understanding of the acts, men, and history.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has launched an online petition asking that Alabama and four other states drop holidays honoring Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee.

“It’s time to stop the celebrations,” the petition says. “We should honor those who represent American ideals, not those who led the fight to preserve slavery.”

The other states listed are Arkansas, Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.

The petition follows other calls to remove symbols honoring the Confederacy since the murders of nine African-American worshipers at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., two weeks ago.

Gov. Robert Bentley had Confederate flags removed from a monument on the north side of the state Capitol last week.

In Birmingham today, a city board voted to explore removal of a Confederate monument from Linn Park.

SPLC President Richard Cohen said it was a good time to act on the organization’s concerns about holidays honoring Confederate President Davis and Lee, the South’s top general.

“We thought that now, while the public is sensitive to these issues and in some sense has a broader understanding of the nature of these kinds of symbols, that it would be a good time to put this issue on the public agenda,” Cohen said.

He said the petition was a way to start conversation.

“Why we honor people who fought to preserve slavery is a question I think the public has to ask itself,” Cohen said.

Again, it is a completely different thing to revere or honor bad actors.  So, I’m a firm advocate of museums, parks, and national historic sites that tell the full picture.  I’m not in favor of glorification.  Maybe, we should also have a conversation on the true stories behind the Thanksgiving myths eventually.  Plus, some one needs to talk to Mitch Landrieu about Andrew Jackson.  The man committed genocide plain and simple. But that’s enough from me!!!

Here’s a few interesting things that you might want to read today.

So, that’s my thoughts and suggestions for today.

What’s on your reading and blogging list?