Lazy Caturday Reads

Good Morning!!

On Thursday, June 11, Lawrence O’Donnell discussed the speech on Civil Rights that President John F. Kennedy gave from the Oval Office on that day in 1963. The purpose of the speech was to propose the Civil Rights bill that passed after Kennedy’s assassination. Fifty-seven years later, we’ve made some progress, but systemic racism still runs rampant in this country. I thought I’d share some excerpts from that long-ago speech today.

NPR: John F. Kennedy’s Address on Civil Rights.

On June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy addressed the nation on the most pressing domestic issue of the day: the struggle to affirm civil rights for all Americans. His administration had sent National Guard troops to accompany the first black students admitted to the University of Mississippi and University of Alabama.

Excerpts selected by NPR:

…It ought to be possible… for American students of any color to attend any public institution they select without having to be backed up by troops.

…It ought to be possible for American consumers of any color to receive equal service in places of public accommodation, such as hotels and restaurants and theaters and retail stores, without being forced to resort to demonstrations in the street, and it ought to be possible for American citizens of any color to register and to vote in a free election without interference or fear of reprisal.

Painting by Ekaterina Mateckaya

It ought to be possible, in short, for every American to enjoy the privileges of being American without regard to his race or his color. In short, every American ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated. But this is not the case….

…This is not a sectional issue…Nor is this a partisan issue…This is not even a legal or legislative issue alone. It is better to settle these matters in the courts than on the streets, and new laws are needed at every level, but law alone cannot make men see right.

We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution.

The heart of the question is — whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities. Whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated. If an American, because his skin is dark, cannot eat lunch in a restaurant open to the public, if he cannot send his children to the best public school available, if he cannot vote for the public officials who represent him, if, in short, he cannot enjoy the full and free life which all of us want, then who among us would be content to have the color of his skin changed and stand in his place? Who among us would then be content with the counsels of patience and delay?

One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free….

…It is not enough to pin the blame on others, to say this is a problem of one section of the country or another, or deplore the fact that we face. A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all.

Those who do nothing are inviting shame as well as violence. Those who act boldly are recognizing right as well as reality…

You can watch the entire speech at C-Span. I watched it yesterday and it made me so sad. The comparison between Kennedy and the current occupant of the White House so so glaring. Not only was Kennedy capable of compassion and empathy, but he also spoke eloquently, in complete sentences and paragraphs. Today we have a fraudulent “president” who babbles nonsense, effortlessly lies about everything and has no idea how to do the job he holds even if he actually wanted to be a leader.

Cat in the window, by Joanna DeRitis

Speaking of Trump’s incoherent babbling, on Thursday he gave another strange Fox News interview with Harris Faulkner (who is black). For Fox, the questions were pretty tough. You can read the transcript and watch video excerpts at Factbase.

The most stunning moment in the interview was when Trump claimed to have done more for black Americans than any previous president, including Abraham Lincoln. Business Insider: Trump says Abraham Lincoln ‘did good’ for the Black community but that ‘the end result’ is ‘questionable.’

“So I think I’ve done more for the Black community than any other president, and let’s take a pass on Abraham Lincoln because he did good, although it’s always questionable, you know, in other words, the end result —” Trump said before Faulkner interjected.

“Well, we are free, Mr. President, so I think he did pretty well,” she said, referring to Lincoln.

“We are free,” Trump said. “You understand what I mean.”

“Yeah, I get it,” Faulkner said.

This isn’t the first time Trump has claimed he’s done more for the Black community than his predecessors.

“This may well be the president’s most audacious claim ever,” Michael Fauntroy, a professor of political science at Howard University, told The New York Times earlier this month. “Not only has he not done more than anybody else, he’s done close to the least.”

Of course it’s not really clear what Trump was trying to say, because his speech is so incoherent. At Slate, Jeremy Stahl tries to make sense of Trump’s words: What Was Trump Trying to Say About Abraham Lincoln?

A lot of people saw the transcript of those words—and perhaps watched the clip—and interpreted Trump as having said that “the end result” of Lincoln’s presidency—i.e., winning the Civil War, preserving the union, and ending the atrocity of chattel slavery—was “always questionable.” [….]

By Utagawa Hiroshige

I would never definitively state that I believed Trump didn’t mean the most racist possible interpretation of one of his often hard-to-grasp word salads. Indeed, he has in the past questioned the fact that the Civil War needed to occur, stating in 2017 that had Andrew Jackson been president at the time he would have stopped the Civil War from happening because he would have realized “there’s no reason for this.”

“The Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask the question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?” Trump said back then.

As my former colleague, Jamelle Bouie, wrote at the time, that statement—apparently that Jackson could have come up with a perfect “deal” to prevent the Civil War—was as dangerous as it was ahistorical.

Given that past remark, it’s certainly plausible that Trump’s brain is so rotted from his own racism that he would say that the end results of Lincoln’s presidency were “questionable.” Based on the context of the question, though, and more recent comments from Trump, I think that is unlikely.

I interpret this particular word salad to be an attempt by Trump to validate his recent tweet that his administration “has done more for the Black Community than any President since Abraham Lincoln.”

Trump was likely attempting to say that while “I think I’ve done more for the black community than any other president,” he would ask that in such a ranking “let’s take a pass” on including Lincoln, because it’s an unfair comparison, but—even if he were to go head-to-head with Lincoln for the title of “best president for black people ever”—despite the fact that Lincoln “did good,” it would still be “always questionable” whether Trump was better, because you have to consider “the end result” of each man’s presidency.

Okay . . . I guess that’s as good an interpretation as any.

At Vox, Zach Beauchamp discusses another howler from the interview: Trump: “The concept of chokehold sounds so innocent, so perfect.”

When asked about police use of chokeholds on suspects like George Floyd, who was killed after a Minneapolis officer pinned him by the neck with his knee for nearly nine minutes, Trump initially told Faulkner that “I don’t like chokeholds,” even saying that “generally speaking, they should be ended.” But he contradicted that pretty quickly, saying that when you’ve got someone who is “a real bad person … what are you gonna do now — let go?”

He even went further, saying that “the concept of chokehold sounds so innocent, so perfect,” if a lone police officer is attempting to detain someone.

Deborah DeWitt, Birdwatching

His position, as far as I can tell, seems to be that maybe sometimes individual officers need to use chokeholds, but the more police there are, the less likely it is they’ll need to use one:

TRUMP: I think the concept of chokehold sounds so innocent, so perfect. And then you realize, if it’s a one-on-one. But if it’s two-on-one, that’s a little bit a different story. Depending on the toughness and strength — you know, we’re talking about toughness and strength. There’s a physical thing here too.

FAULKNER: If it’s a one-on-one for the [officer’s] life …

TRUMP: And that does happen, that does happen. You have to be careful.

The most relevant part here isn’t the president’s views on the details of self-defense tactics, but rather the lack of empathy in the way he talks about the issue. The only world in which police using chokeholds could sound “innocent” or “perfect” is a world in which you don’t think about what happens to people when they’re literally being choked — or one where you assume that it won’t happen to people like you.

A recent LA Times investigation found that 103 people were “seriously injured” by police using “carotid neck restraints” in California between 2016 and 2018. Black people, who make up 6.5 percent of the state’s population, were 23 percent of those injured in such holds.

Trump’s thinking seems so deeply shaped by his sense of generalized police innocence, his unwillingness to really process the fact of racial discrimination in police use of force, that he’s capable of saying out loud that chokeholds sound “innocent.”

What all this interpretation really boils down to is that Trump is disastrously incapable of doing the job of POTUS. And yet we’re stuck with him, so writers struggle to figure out what the hell he is talking about.

Stories to check out today

David Smith at The Guardian: ‘He just doesn’t get it’: has Trump been left behind by America’s awakening on racism?

The Washington Post: Trump says he’ll ‘go on and do other things’ if he loses in November.

Julian Borger at The Guardian: ‘Trump thought I was a secretary’: Fiona Hill on the president, Putin and populism.

The New York Times: Trump’s Actions Rattle the Military World: ‘I Can’t Support the Man’

NBC News: From ‘beautiful letters’ to ‘a dark nightmare’: How Trump’s North Korea gamble went bust.

The New York Times: Trump Moves Tulsa Rally Date ‘Out of Respect’ for Juneteenth.

The Daily Beast: Survivors of KKK’s Ax Handle Attack Appalled at Trump Speech.

The Washington Post: Republicans and Trump want a Jacksonville convention party. Some locals are worried about the area’s health.

The Daily Beast: A Black Man Was Found Hanging From a Tree—Residents Don’t Buy That It Was a Suicide.

Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine: Michael Flynn Writes Column Confirming He Is Definitely Insane.

The Atlantic: Coronavirus Researchers Tried to Warn Us. Before the pandemic hit, they struggled to get funding that might have helped us fight COVID-19.

USA Today: Fired Florida scientist builds coronavirus site showing far more cases than state reports.


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?


Tuesday Reads: The Republican Party’s Mess

 tea-party-confederate-flag-rally

Good Morning!!

I’m sure you’ll recognize the image at the top of this post. The photo was taken at a Tea Party rally in Washington, DC, a couple of years ago. I’ve included other similar photos in this post. Don’t tell me the people holding these flags don’t understand that it is a symbol of racial hatred.

Since Barack Obama was elected President of the United States, we have seen shocking overt racism on display by right wing Republicans, and so called “mainstream” Republican elected officials have done nothing to stop it. The simple truth is that the Tea Party is a racist hate group that was formed in reaction to the election of a black president.

As a consequence of Republican officials’ refusal to call the Tea Party what it is, we have seen extreme right wing candidates like Ted Cruz elected to high office and stupid and hateful people like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann treated seriously by the media. It’s a national disgrace, and we should begin to hold Republicans responsible for it.

110902_Confederate_flag_2

Nikki Haley was elected governor of South Carolina in 2010 as a Tea Party candidate, although she has since fallen out of favor with the group. Yesterday Haley made a cowardly, mealy-mouthed public statement calling for removal of the Confederate flag from the state house grounds, and yet today she is being celebrated in the media for her “courage.” Here’s part of it:

For many people in our state the flag stands for traditions that are noble. Traditions of history, of heritage and of ancestry.

The hate-filled murderer who massacred our brothers and sisters in Charleston has a sick and twisted view of the flag. In no way does he reflect the people of our state who respect, and in many ways, revere it.

Those South Carolinians view the flag as a symbol of respect, integrity and duty. They also see it as a memorial. A way to honor ancestors who came to the service of their state during time of conflict. That is not hate, nor is it racism.

At the same time, for many others in South Carolina, the flag is a deeply offensive symbol of a brutally oppressive past. As a state, we can survive and indeed we can thrive as we have done whilst still being home to both of those viewpoints. We do not need to declare a winner and a loser here.

We respect freedom of expression. And that for those who wish to show their respect for the flag on their private property, no one will stand in your way.

But the statehouse is different. And the events of this past week call upon us to look at this in a different way….

One hundred and fifty years after the end of the Civil War, the time has come. There will be some in our state who see this as a sad moment. I respect that. But know this, for good and for bad, whether it is on the statehouse grounds or in a museum the flag will always be a part of the soil in South Carolina. But this is a moment in which we can say that that flag, while an integral part of our past, does not represent the future of our great state.

It is South Carolina’s historic moment, and this will be South Carolina’s decision. To those outside of our state, the flag may be nothing more than a symbol of the worst of America’s past. That is not what it is to many South Carolinians. The state house belongs to all of us. Their voices will be heard, and their role in this debate will be respected….

But we are not going to allow this symbol to divide us any longer. The fact that people are choosing to use it as a sign of hate is something that we cannot stand. The fact that it causes pain to so many is enough to move it from the capitol grounds.

Confederate-Flag-Flying-in-the-Sun

Why couldn’t Haley just admit that the flag on the her state house grounds is a symbol of resistance to integration and to legal recognition that African Americans should have equal rights; and that decades after the changes brought about by Civil Rights Movement they are still not treated equally by many, including police officers? By the way, maybe she should also consider opposing the efforts of Republicans in South Carolina to prevent African Americans from voting.

Last night I watch Rachel Maddow’s show for the first time in months, and I’m very glad I did. Maddow presented a detailed history of the Council of Conservative Citizens, the group whose website inspired Dylann Roof to murder nine African Americans at a prayer group meeting at the Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC last week. The Council of Conservative Citizens grew directly out of the White Citizens Councils  that fought to maintain racial segregation in Southern cities in the 1950s and 1960s. From Wikipedia:

The Citizens’ Councils (also referred to as White Citizens’ Councils) were an associated network of white supremacist organizations in the United States, concentrated in the South. The first was formed on July 11, 1954 After 1956, it was known as the Citizens’ Councils of America. With about 60,000 members across the United States, mostly in the South, the groups were founded primarily to oppose racial integration of schools, but they also supported segregation of public facilities during the 1950s and 1960s. Members used severe intimidation tactics including economic boycotts, firing people from jobs, propaganda, and occasionally violence against civil-rights activists.

By the 1970s, following passage of federal civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s and enforcement of constitutional rights by the federal government, the influence of the Councils had waned considerably. The successor organization to the White Citizens’ Councils is the Council of Conservative Citizens, founded in 1985.

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Maddow pointed out that in 2010, Haley Barbour was quickly eliminated from the race for the GOP nomination when he publicly praised the White Citizen Council in his home city of Yazoo, Mississippi. Maddow also interviewed SC Rep. James Clyburn about the history of the Confederate flag that still flies on the SC state house grounds. He explained that that flag was a Virginia flag flown by Robert E. Lee and that it has nothing to do with South Carolina history. It was put up over the SC state house in 1962 as a direct response to the battle for civil rights for African Americans.

Why couldn’t Nikki Haley simply admit that in her statement? Frankly, the Republican Party has allowed itself to become the party of racism and hatred; and it’s time for decent Republicans to face up to that and and deal with it honestly.

Here’s what Melissa McEwan wrote about Haley’s statement:

She couldn’t even be bothered to say that the thing is a racist symbol. Which has nonetheless not stopped members of her party from celebrating her courage.

The thing is, it’s not really “brave” to take down a flag that never should have been flying in the first place.

I see what Haley is doing as approximately as “brave” as when I clean up cat vomit. You’re supposed to clean up gross messes in your home….

let’s not pretend that it’s a Great Leadership moment, when it took 150 years of fluttering insult, and nine deaths in the last week at the hands of one of the many white people to embrace that contemptible symbol of white supremacy, to pull it off the flagpole.

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I completely agree. As I wrote in a comment yesterday, the Confederate flag is a symbol of hate and fear that should be in the same category as the Nazi swastika and the “n” word. Why should people be allowed to fly it on their own property? Why should more intelligent and sensitive neighbors or even people driving by have to see it?

It’s way past time for Republicans to stop beating around the bush and clean up the disgusting mess in their party, and it’s time for all Americans to recognize that racism in any form is evil.

Here’s a more serious discussion of the meaning of the Confederate flag by Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic:

What This Cruel War Was Over. The meaning of the Confederate flag is best discerned in the words of those who bore it.

This afternoon, in announcing her support for removing the Confederate flag from the capitol grounds, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley asserted that killer Dylann Roof had a “a sick and twisted view of the flag” which did not reflect “the  people in our state who respect and in many ways revere it.” If the governor meant that very few of the flag’s supporters believe in mass murder, she is surely right. But on the question of whose view of the Confederate Flag is more twisted, she is almost certainly wrong.

Roof’s belief that black life had no purpose beyond subjugation is “sick and twisted” in the exact same manner as the beliefs of those who created the Confederate flag were “sick and twisted.” The Confederate flag is directly tied to the Confederate cause, and the Confederate cause was white supremacy. This claim is not the result of revisionism. It does not require reading between the lines. It is the plain meaning of the words of those who bore the Confederate flag across history. These words must never be forgotten. Over the next few months the word “heritage” will be repeatedly invoked. It would be derelict to not examine the exact contents of that heritage.

This examination should begin in South Carolina, the site of our present and past catastrophe. South Carolina was the first state to secede, two months after the election of Abraham Lincoln. It was in South Carolina that the Civil War began, when the Confederacy fired on Fort Sumter. The state’s casus belli was neither vague nor hard to comprehend:

…A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction. This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

In citing slavery, South Carolina was less an outlier than a leader, setting the tone for other states, including Mississippi

Please go read the whole thing at the link.

Republicans are now arguing that Democrats are responsible for the confederate flag symbolism and for the South’s history of racism. It’s true that Dixiecrats fought to maintain segregation, but most of those old guys switched to the Republican Party back in the Civil Rights era. The Republicans own the mess now, and they need to get busy cleaning it up.

As always, this is an open thread. Please post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comments below.


Memorial Day Reads

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Good Morning!!

A few days ago, I read an article about the “true meaning of Memorial Day.” I can’t find it now, but it was in the Chicago Tribune. The author wrote that Memorial Day began as “Decoration Day,” when Southern women decorated the graves of Confederate soldiers. I Googled some more and found other writers making the same claim. Here’s a piece by a Civil War historian from Purdue University Caroline Janney:

Many may not know the holiday weekend that marks the start of summer by paying respects to veterans and remembering loved ones began when white Southern women took a leadership role in honoring their Civil War veterans, says a Purdue University historian.

“After the Civil War, southern men would have appeared treasonous if they had organized memorials to honor their fallen, so women – perceived as apolitical – instead organized tributes and events that set the tone for how the country celebrates Memorial Day today,” says Caroline E. Janney, professor of historyand president-elect of the Society of Civil War Historians. “In 1866, the men were figuratively hiding behind the skirts of these women who worked together as part of Ladies’ Memorial Associations.”

The women organized dozens of memorials during the spring of 1866 and the following years, Janney says. Historically these memorials were scheduled throughout the spring as a sign of renewal and rebirth, and each community chose its own date to celebrate.

The date usually reflected a key date in the Civil War, such as the May 10 death of Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, or a battle close to the association’s individual area. Memorial Day became more unified when larger associations, such as the United Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy, began organizing memorials in the 1890s. And memorial days also were observed in the North, but they were organized by Union veterans beginning in 1868, two years after the ex-Confederate women had established the practice.

I was surprised, because I had read years ago that the practice was begun by former slaves who wanted to honor Union soldiers. I found the above photo on Facebook–with the suggestion that it was taken on that first Decoration Day May 1, 1865; but I can’t be absolutely certain that’s accurate. Note that that dates is a year earlier than the one Janney writes about. It turns out that a number of places and people claim to have started the practice of decorating Union and Confederate Graves. Southerners designated “Confederate Memorial Days.” Kingston, Georgia claims to have held the first one.

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Yale historian David Blight wrote about the disputed origins of Memorial Day in the New York Times in 2011.

Officially, in the North, Memorial Day emerged in 1868 when the Grand Army of the Republic, the Union veterans’ organization, called on communities to conduct grave-decorating ceremonies. On May 30, funereal events attracted thousands of people at hundreds of cemeteries in countless towns, cities and mere crossroads. By the 1870s, one could not live in an American town, North or South, and be unaware of the spring ritual.

But the practice of decorating graves — which gave rise to an alternative name, Decoration Day — didn’t start with the 1868 events, nor was it an exclusively Northern practice. In 1866 the Ladies’ Memorial Association of Columbus, Ga., chose April 26, the anniversary of Gen. Joseph Johnston’s final surrender to Gen. William T. Sherman, to commemorate fallen Confederate soldiers. Later, both May 10, the anniversary of Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s death, and June 3, the birthday of Jefferson Davis, were designated Confederate Memorial Day in different states.

Soon the yearly practice became partisan:

In the South, Memorial Day was a means of confronting the Confederacy’s defeat but without repudiating its cause. Some Southern orators stressed Christian notions of noble sacrifice. Others, however, used the ritual for Confederate vindication and renewed assertions of white supremacy. Blacks had a place in this Confederate narrative, but only as time-warped loyal slaves who were supposed to remain frozen in the past.

The Lost Cause tradition thrived in Confederate Memorial Day rhetoric; the Southern dead were honored as the true “patriots,” defenders of their homeland, sovereign rights, a natural racial order and a “cause” that had been overwhelmed by “numbers and resources” but never defeated on battlefields.

Yankee Memorial Day orations often righteously claimed the high ground of blood sacrifice to save the Union and destroy slavery. It was not uncommon for a speaker to honor the fallen of both sides, but still lay the war guilt on the “rebel dead.”

But Blight discovered in a historical archive at Harvard University that the earliest celebration of “Decoration Day” was organized by freed slaves in Charleston, South Carolina in 1865.

During the final year of the war, the Confederates had converted the city’s Washington Race Course and Jockey Club into an outdoor prison. Union captives were kept in horrible conditions in the interior of the track; at least 257 died of disease and were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstand.

After the Confederate evacuation of Charleston black workmen went to the site, reburied the Union dead properly, and built a high fence around the cemetery. They whitewashed the fence and built an archway over an entrance on which they inscribed the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.” ….

The procession was led by 3,000 black schoolchildren carrying armloads of roses and singing the Union marching song “John Brown’s Body.” Several hundred black women followed with baskets of flowers, wreaths and crosses. Then came black men marching in cadence, followed by contingents of Union infantrymen. Within the cemetery enclosure a black children’s choir sang “We’ll Rally Around the Flag,” the “Star-Spangled Banner” and spirituals before a series of black ministers read from the Bible.

After the dedication the crowd dispersed into the infield and did what many of us do on Memorial Day: enjoyed picnics, listened to speeches and watched soldiers drill. Among the full brigade of Union infantrymen participating were the famous 54th Massachusetts and the 34th and 104th United States Colored Troops, who performed a special double-columned march around the gravesite.

Nearly 150 years later, it’s apparently very difficult for some Americans to credit African Americans with the first Memorial Day (or with much of anything else for that matter). As Ta-Nehisi Coates showed in The Atlantic recently, it’s apparently difficult for Americans to remember much of anything about African American history–before or after the Civil War. Why would anyone feel comfortable mourning the “lost cause” of a society built on the enslavement of other human beings? I can understand mourning the dead Confederate soldiers, but shouldn’t there be recognition that they died for something shameful? We can look around us today and still see the aftereffects of the slavery and the war that ended it. Will we ever get over it? One more quote from Blight’s article:

The war was over, and Memorial Day had been founded by African-Americans in a ritual of remembrance and consecration. The war, they had boldly announced, had been about the triumph of their emancipation over a slaveholders’ republic. They were themselves the true patriots.

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On Memorial Day in 2014, we honor the dead of all wars, but we treat our living war veteran with disrespect. From CNN, ‘Thanks for your service’ not enough, by Sebastian Junger, Jim McDermott and Karl Marlantes.

According to current Veterans Administration estimates, 22 American veterans take their lives every single day.

High rates of unemployment, homelessness, alcoholism, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress are decimating our community of veterans. With the wars of the past 13 years in Iraq and Afghanistan coming to a close, we are seeing too many casualties among American soldiers in this transition to peace.

In light of this crisis, we need a new kind of Memorial Day.

Many veterans are desperate to talk about their experiences with fellow Americans who accept shared responsibility for what is done in war, particularly the killing. Yet these conversations rarely happen today. How can a veteran truly come home unless we acknowledge that our nation’s wars are something we all chose and paid for?

Returning Vietnam veterans were treated shamefully. That, thankfully, is behind America. We’ve moved from outright hostility to awkward, if well-meant, expressions of “thank you for your service” and the creation of a number of new veterans services organizations.

However, there remains an abiding sense of national indifference, or worse, a sense that somehow veterans are victims. This must change.

A great deal needs to change for the United States to be “one nation indivisible.”

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In the News

 

Isla Vista Mass Murder:

The horrible murders in Santa Barbara are still at the top of the Google News page today. A few links:

NBC News: What Do We Know About Elliot Rodger’s Rampage?

Little Green Footballs: Echoes of Montreal – Isla Vista shows us 25 years doesn’t change much.

NY Daily News: Social media strikes back with #YesAllWomen after deadly Isla Vista rampage.

Slate: The Pick-Up Artist Community’s Predictable, Horrible Response to a Mass Murder

CBS Los Angeles: Rodger’s Family Friend says Killer’s Parents Tried to Get Son Mental Help.

Village Voice: Rightbloggers: Santa Barbara Killer Elliot Rodger’s Sexist Rants Have Nothing To Do With Sexism (Or Guns).

Fox News: Sheriffs never saw menacing videos before California rampage.

NY Daily News: Santa Barbara killer’s parents raced to stop him after receiving disturbing emails

 

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Other News:

The Washington Post: White House mistakenly identifies CIA chief in Afghanistan.

The New York Times: Pro-European Businessman Claims Victory in Ukraine Presidential Vote.

Reuters: French far right in ‘earthquake’ win as Europe votes.

Raw Story: It’s all in your head: Scientist now believes his pioneering work on gluten allergy was wrong.

Raw Story: SC pastor accused of turning Bible college into forced labor camp for foreign students.

The Hollywood Reporter: Walt Disney Family Feud: Inside His Grandkids’ Weird, Sad Battle Over a $400 Million Fortune.

Politico: The ‘Wary of Hillary’ Democrats

What else is happening? Please post your links in the comment thread, and enjoy the holiday!


Sunday Reads: A o.k. for oll korrect.

033Good Morning

Can you believe it is already May?  Whoosh, this year is going by fast!

I realize this post is a little late this morning, but I wanted to give Boston Boomer’s late night thread a while to “stew” since it seemed like big news…

Well…because it is Sunday, I have a mix of special interest links, historical long-reads and a dash of Etymology quickies for you to sink your teeth into.

For starters, here is an explanation of the post’s title.

What’s the Real Origin of “OK”? | Mental Floss

OK, here’s the story. On Saturday, March 23, 1839, the editor of the Boston Morning Post published a humorous article about a satirical organization called the “Anti-Bell Ringing Society ” in which he wrote:

The “Chairman of the Committee on Charity Lecture Bells,” is one of the deputation, and perhaps if he should return to Boston, via Providence, he of the Journal, and his train-band, would have his “contribution box,” et ceteras, o.k.—all correct—and cause the corks to fly, like sparks, upward.

It wasn’t as strange as it might seem for the author to coin OK as an abbreviation for “all correct.” There was a fashion then for playful abbreviations like i.s.b.d (it shall be done), r.t.b.s (remains to be seen), and s.p. (small potatoes). They were the early ancestors of OMG, LOL, and tl;dr. A twist on the trend was to base the abbreviations on alternate spellings or misspellings, so “no go” was k.g. (know go) and “all right” was o.w. (oll write). So it wasn’t so surprising for someone come up with o.k. for oll korrect. What is surprising is that it ended up sticking around for so long while the other abbreviations faded away.

Go figure? I don’t know why, but I always spell o.k. like “okay.”

Anyway, I thought that was a fun bit of trivial nonsense that might come in handy one day. You never know.

Okay…I saved a few links over the past week, you may have missed some of them…

From Bloomberg: Barack Obama, Gun Salesman of the Year

President Barack Obama is arguably the nation’s top gun salesman. The “Obama surge,” as the Wall Street Journal calls it (others call it the “Obama bubble“), appears to have increased gun sales in the U.S. by millions of units over his presidency.

The gun lobby/makers must be happy about that!

What the chart doesn’t provide is a reason for the increase. We can probably rule out a couple possibilities. A surge in hunting? Not likely. As Bloomberg News has reported, hunting has been in decline for years. Only about 13.7 million people hunted in 2011, a new low.

How about a crime wave? Nope. Violent crime began declining long before Obama took office and kept on declining through Obama’s first term, right into the teeth of the Great Recession. Preliminary numbers for the first half of 2012 do show a slight uptick of 1.2 percent, but it’s hardly the stuff of national panic. Even if the increase holds, crime in 2012 will be lower than it was in 2008.

So if hunting and crime are both declining, what is rising? Politics, for one.

Crazy talk has not been in short supply since Obama’s first presidential campaign took flight. Talk-radio jocks, the gun lobby and others who invest long in hysteria may preach to the choir, but the choir appears to be increasingly well-armed. Despite survey data indicating a steady decline in the number of households owning guns, the overall quantity of guns keeps rising. (Either a smaller number of people are buying a whole lot more guns, or a large number of gun owners are lying to pollsters, or both.)

There was a story in the New York Times last week that caught my eye: Trinity Church in Manhattan Is Split on How to Spend Its Wealth

There has never been any doubt that Trinity Church is wealthy. But the extent of its wealth has long been a mystery; guessed at by many, known by few.

Now, however, after a lawsuit filed by a disenchanted parishioner, the church has offered an estimate of the value of its assets: more than $2 billion.

The Episcopal parish, known as Trinity Wall Street, traces its holdings to a gift of 215 acres of prime Manhattan farmland donated in 1705 by Queen Anne of England. Since then, the church has parlayed that gift into a rich portfolio of office buildings, stock investments and, soon, mixed-use residential development.

[…]

Over the years, the church has sold or given away much of the original 215 acres from Queen Anne, but it has 14 acres, including 5.5 million square feet of commercial real estate.

It reported $158 million in real estate revenue for 2011, the majority of which went toward maintaining and supporting its real estate operations, the financial statement indicates. Of the $38 million left for the church’s operating budget, some $4 million was spent on communications, $3 million on philanthropic grant spending and $2.5 million on the church’s music program, church officials said. Nearly $6 million went to maintain Trinity’s historic properties, including the main church building, which was built in 1846; St. Paul’s Chapel; and several cemeteries, where luminaries including Alexander Hamilton and Edward I. Koch are buried. The remainder went into the church’s equity investment portfolio.

Of course, with all that wealth comes infighting between the church members and leaders.

Differences over the parish’s mission and direction last year led nearly half the 22-member vestry — an august collection of corporate executives and philanthropists — to resign or be pushed out, after at least seven of them asked, unsuccessfully, that the rector himself step down.

It really is something to read about all the money involved, then to read the comments…when salaries are mention. Damn, these “one of the largest landowners in Manhattan” Episcopals are giving the “Red Prada Slippered” Catholics a run for their money.

Salon had this article last week as well: 6 ways Big Pharma manipulates consumers

The blockbuster pill profit party is over for Big Pharma. Bestselling pills like Lipitor, Seroquel, Zyprexa, Singular and Concerta have gone off patent and sites which their ads sustained are withering on the vine. WebMD, for example, the voice of Pharma on the Web, with a former Pfizer exec serving as CEO, announced it would cut 250 positions in December.

But don’t worry, Wall Street. Pharma isn’t going to deliver disappointing earnings just because it has little or no new drugs coming online and has failed at the very reason for its existence. Here are six new Pharma marketing initiatives that are guaranteed to keep investor expectations high along with our insurance premiums. The secret? Recycling old and discredited drugs and marketing diseases to sell the few new ones.

Read about the six ways at the link.

When I read this next story, I felt sad…but it also made me laugh in a sadistic kind of way….maybe because the whole thing was caught on tape?

‘World’s largest jigsaw’ collapses into 40,000 pieces days before it was due to go on show at Sandringham

A 40 thousand piece jigsaw commemorating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee crashed to the floor and broke leaving its assembler, who had spent more than 200 hours putting it together, heartbroken just days before it was due to go on display at Sandringham.

The jigsaw was put together by craftsman Dave Evans from Weymouth. He spent five weeks creating the 19.5ft by 8ft creation and believes it will enter the Guinness World records as the world’s largest jigsaw once it has been formally accredited.

Speaking to local press about the puzzle’s completion prior to its collapse from the wall of his studio, Mr Evans said: “I’m literally over the moon that I’ve finally reached the last piece. My fingers are sore, my eyes are tired but my heart is full of pride and I honestly couldn’t have done this without the backing of a superb team. I feel like I’ve reached my own moon landing and the eagle has landed.”

He is putting it all back together again. If it collapses a second time…I think someone is trying to tell the man something.

This next link is more recent, from yesterday via the Guardian Hollywood conservative unmasked as notorious Holocaust revisionist

To those who knew him, or thought they knew him, he was a cerebral, fun-loving gadfly who hosted boozy gatherings for Hollywood’s political conservatives. David Stein brought right-wing congressmen, celebrities, writers and entertainment industry figures together for shindigs, closed to outsiders, where they could scorn liberals and proclaim their true beliefs.

Over the past five years Stein’s organisation, Republican Party Animals, drew hundreds to regular events in and around Los Angeles, making him a darling of conservative blogs and talkshows. That he made respected documentaries on the Holocaust added intellectual cachet and Jewish support to Stein’s cocktail of politics, irreverence and rock and roll.

There was just one problem. Stein was not who he claimed. His real name can be revealed for the first time publicly – a close circle of confidants only found out the truth recently – as David Cole. And under that name he was once a reviled Holocaust revisionist who questioned the existence of Nazi gas chambers. He changed identities in January 1998.

Cole’s brazen reinvention as a social networker and political pundit deceived a roll-call of conservative politicians, filmmakers, journalists and broadcasters who had no clue about his past. A falling out with a friend led to his unmasking in his social circle two weeks ago, when a group of former supporters was shown YouTube clips of Cole’s incendiary – and until then forgotten – television appearances in the early 1990s.

As a combative twentysomething with tousled black hair, he was a vilified guest on chat shows hosted by Phil Donahue, Montel Williams and Morton Downey, among others, and was depicted as a neo-Nazi on news shows such as 60 Minutes and 48 Hours.

Read the rest of the exclusive interview at that link above…more stories after the jump.

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