Monday Reads: Racism defines that Basket of Deplorables

Image result for paintings black and brown children vintageGood Morning Sky Dancers!

Racism has always defined the life and times of the Slum Lord’s son occupying the White House who was undoubtedly planted there with hacking by Russians as well as baskets of deplorables.  Will racism continue to define the future of this country as well as its past? What can we do to end our national nightmare?

The much publicized Trumpkins Twitter Rampage we endured the last few weeks comes from a sick mind and heart of some one who is very insecure about his unearned success.  This same some one is very much aware he’s out of his league, probably facing jail time if he loses the election, and likely to learn more every day that he is a joke among national leaders who recognize him for the small minded bigot and thug he is.  So, rather than do a little soul searching, he blames completely innocent people whose only discernible distinction is how their skin handles melanin.

We never think these Twitter Rampages could get uglier but they always do. The uncouth, hateful bigot that occupies the Oval Office keeps finding new lows since there are no more functioning guards on the man and few guardrails to contain his sociopathic behavior.  The last one will go this week, the stoic Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates  His replacement will undoubtedly purge what ever he can of evidence showing the Russians–with the help of the Trump Family Crime syndicate–stole our elections.

But meanwhile, Esteemed Congressman Elijah Cummings and the city and people of Baltimore are under systemic racist attack. He’s angry so why not pick on good people of color and others? The rest of us must come to their defense or lose our souls.  We all must rid our country of Trump or lose our hope for democracy and a more perfect union.

Here is some commentary that might interest you on the topic.

Most of us laughed when the many in the media went out of their way to say that the Republican base just faced “economic uncertainty” and Trump was simply a result of that. These are people that have ignored the systemic race baiting of the Republican party since Nixon–the so-called Southern Strategy–and the howls of white evangelicals in the south who wanted their schools kept segregated and found no quarter in the Democratic Party under LBJ. Trump’s Racism defines that party and any one that doesn’t damn his bigoted public attacks on the many shades of brown and black Americans to whom this country owes much is complicit and racist.

<i>Echoes of Harlem</i>, 1980, By Faith Ringgold (American, b. 1930); Acrylic on canvas; 79 1/2 x 80 1/2 inches; The Studio Museum in Harlem; Gift of Altria Group, Inc.; Courtesy American Federation of Arts; ©1980 Faith Ringgold

Echos of Harlem, 1980 Faith Ringgold

From Bloomberg Opinion and Timothy L O’Brien:  “Trump’s Racism Infests the Republican Party”.

Over this past weekend Trump put Cummings and his Baltimore district in his crosshairs, tweeting at him 17 times in a racially-charged salvo of alternately bigoted, hostile and inaccurate insults that commenced at 7:14 a.m. on Saturday and concluded at 6:49 a.m. on Monday. Baltimore and its neighboring areas, the president allowed, were a “very dangerous & filthy place” and a “rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.” Cummings was “incompetent” and a “brutal bully” responsible for Baltimore’s problems, a “racist” who “spends all of his time trying to hurt innocent people.” As he has done before, Trump also retweeted the musings of a far-right British pundit who is a self-described racist to make his case against Cummings.

A broad, diverse swath of Baltimore residents and supporters responded to Trump by coming to Cummings’s and their city’s defense, acknowledging that Baltimore had myriad problems, including crime and poverty, but was hardly the noxious monolith the president was slagging. #WeAreBaltimore became a ubiquitous hashtag and a rallying cry on social media. Perhaps the most poignant and powerful voice in all of that was a CNN anchor, Victor Blackwell, who was born in Baltimore and noted during a pointed, emotional broadcast on Saturday that Trump frequently uses the words “infested” and “infestation” when describing the homes or countries of people of color.

“Donald Trump has tweeted more than 43,000 times. He’s insulted thousands of people, many different types of people. But when he tweets about infestation, it’s about black and brown people,” Blackwell said. “There are challenges, no doubt. But people are proud of their community. I don’t want to sound self-righteous, but people get up and go to work there. They care for their families there. They love their children, who pledge allegiance to the flag just like people who live in districts of congressmen who support you, sir. They are Americans, too.”

One person who has yet to speak out on Cummings’s behalf is his good friend, Meadows. The congressman from North Carolina, like his entire political party, has remained silent while Trump – an inveterate racist– has spent yet another weekend targeting a high-profile Democrat of color in heinous, prejudiced ways. In that context, Meadows is a proxy for the lack of political courage and moral clarity in Trump’s Republican Party.

Mick Mulvaney, the president’s acting chief of staff, sat for an interview with Fox News on Sunday and said there was nothing racist about Trump’s comments. “If I had poverty in my district like they have in Baltimore,” Mulvaney said, “I’d get fired.” (Mulvaney’s old South Carolina district does have poverty rates like Baltimore’s – as do many of the ruralred state districts that Trump avoids criticizing).

Frida Kahlo, The Broken Column, 1944, Museo Dolores Olmedo Broken Column frida kahlo

The Broken Column, Frida Kahlo

Herb Keinon of the Jerusalem Post reminds Republicans that ‘32,000 JEWS LIVE IN BALTIMORE DISTRICT, TRUMP: ‘NO HUMAN’ WANTS TO” and that “Elijah Cummings, bashed by Trump, helps sponsor month-long summer program in Israel for black students”.

Elijah Cummings, the African-American Baltimore congressman who found himself on the receiving end of a Twitter thrashing from US President Donald Trump, has a LARGE number of Jewish residents in his district, is close with the local Jewish community, and for the last two decades has helped sponsor a trip to Israel for black students from his district.

In 2014, Maryland’s 7th district, where Trump said “no human would want to live,” housed some 32,000 Jews, 4.46% of the population in the district. According to data in the Jewish Federations of North America’s Berman Jewish Data Bank, this district would rank in the top 65 of America’s 435 congressional districts with the largest Jewish population.

The chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Cummings has been sharply critical of Trump’s immigration policies. Earlier this month he slammed acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan during a Congressional hearing over border conditions along the Mexican frontier, and his committee has launched a number of investigations of the Trump White House.

On Saturday, Trump hit back.

“Rep. Elijah Cummings has been a brutal bully, shouting and screaming at the great men & women of Border Patrol about conditions at the Southern Border, when actually his Baltimore district is FAR WORSE and more dangerous,” Trump tweeted. “His district is considered the Worst in the USA.”

Cumming’s district, Trump said, “is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place.” The president said that Cummings’ district, WHICH INCLUDES western Baltimore, “is considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States. No human being would want to live there. Where is all this money going? How much is stolen? Investigate this corrupt mess immediately.”

For the last two decades, Cummings has partnered with the Baltimore Jewish Council in backing the Elijah Cummings Youth Program in Israel (ECYP), a two-year leadership fellowship that aspires to build leadership and bridges between the African-American and Jewish communities.

Some 200 students have participated in the program, with its centerpiece being a month spent in Israel. The students live at the Yemin Orde Youth Village south of Haifa and are paired, as its promotional literature says, “with displaced teens from over 24 countries, including Ethiopia, Israel, South America, Europe and the former states of the Soviet Union.”

Jonathan Capehart of WAPO does not mince words “In Trump’s America, the ‘basket of deplorables’ is overflowing”.

When you’re a person of color — whether in politics, journalism or regular life — you’re accustomed to folks demanding that you criticize or denounce people, especially if they look like you. Some of them deserve criticism for what they’ve said. (See Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.) Some of them aren’t worth the oxygen required of denunciation because they are marginal characters who don’t have any power. (See Louis Farrakhan.) But we do it because it is the moral and right thing to do.

Yet, the president of the United States goes on a racist tear against Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), chairman of the House oversight committee, and his Baltimore district, and there is virtual silence from the president’s supporters. The president of the United States goes on a racist tear against Omar and three other women of color elected to serve in the House of Representatives, and there is virtual silence. The president of the United States stands back for 13 seconds as his bread-and-circuses crowd brays “Send her back!” about Omar, and there is virtual silence. Actually, it’s worse than that. Excuses are made.

Facing a grilling from Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said of Trump’s racist tweets: “It has absolutely zero to do with race.” He told Margaret Brennan, the host of CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” about the racist tweets about Baltimore, “I understand that everything that Donald Trump says is offensive to some people.”

Image result for mexican american art paintings images

Woman with a Basket of Calla Lilies, mural details, José Clemente Orozco,

So, there’s this op ed also from WAPO and it’s not that the facts on the ground are wrong, because they aren’t.  It’s not that a lot of things under Trump are wrong, because they are.  It’s not even that the list of Trump’s evil is longer than one issue, because it’s way longer.

It’s this.  The discussion today is and should be about Racism and the evil that the Republicans and Trump are doing to people who are Americans and people that want to be Americans simply because they are some shade of brown.  Racist  screeds and actions inciting white nationalists to violence are enough to Damn The Occupant of the White House to hell and Impeachment.

Fred Hiatt warns people not to be complacent under Trump just because the Recovery is still present today.  Coming from a chocolate city with a lot of recent South Amercan and Mexican transplants, I can tell you that the only people that could possibly be complacent under Trump because of the economy are white people.  And white people of a certain DEPLORABILITY at that.  I cannot imagine a black or brown person living in this country today that is complacent about Trump.

To the world, it is not just Trump taking these positions. It is America. The damage will be long-lasting.

And his ignorance and cynicism reverberate through some of the biggest stories of our time: the confidence of authoritarian strongmen in China, Russia and beyond; their distortion of technology from a liberating force into a malevolent tool of surveillance and suppression; the destructive warming of the climate, which the United States ignores and abets. None of these is easily reversible.

The story is similar, if more familiar, at home. The constant, willful lying; the attacks on the press and on the very idea of truth — these are not harmless. They draw from but also foster a lack of trust that will persist long after his presidency.

So does the racism. So do the ugly attacks on immigrants. So do the contempt for science and the refusal to stand up to foreign attacks on our elections. So do the disparaging of public servants and the casual threats to wield the vast powers of the federal government against perceived political enemies. These things used to be not okay. Now they are okay. There will be no easy return.

Yes, we’ve avoided recession, the nation is (mostly) at peace, the government will not default. Naturally, we are thankful.

Image result for portrait barack obama

Official portrait of President Barack Obama , Kehinde Wiley Official portrait of First Lady Michelle Obama, Amy Sherald

Dear Fred (fellow white human being).  The racism is not a side show or an afterthought.  It’s not one point in a long list today.  It’s the central theme (Send them Back), the ongoing theme (Many Good People on both sides), the first spoken theme (Drug Dealing and Rapist Mexicans), and the ever present theme (shit hole countries and infested American cities). The dog whistles and race baiting Republicans have employed to wink and nod at bigots have finally come full circle.  The policies of Voter Suppression, Family Separation, and White Nationalism are a pogrom. They are a Republican Pogrom worthy of the KKK.

Jeet Heer has something to say about that in The Nation and it harkens back to something deeper and stated here for quite some time.

The contrast between Trump’s utter disdain for non-white lawmakers and his willingness to chastise an American ally on behalf of a jailed musician is partly traceable to the president’s special warmth for celebrities, especially if they praise him. It’s a bluntly personal response: if you criticize Trump, as Cummings and others have, you’re his enemy. If you are Trump’s pal, he’ll go the extra mile to help you out.

The priority Trump gives to transactional relationships gives some credence to Senator Lindsey Graham’s argument that the president is a narcissist rather than a racist.

But Graham’s formulation is too simple. It’s more accurate to say Trump’s racism and narcissism are both facets of his desire to rule like a feudal lord. If we see Trump as a would-be baron or an aspiring king, then his varied reaction to people of color makes sense: he loves those who pledge loyalty to him and hates those who defy him in any way.

Writing in the November/December issue of The New Left Review, University of California sociologist Dylan Riley challenged the popular view, found across the political spectrum, that Trump is a fascist. Using the ideas of Max Weber, Riley argued that Trump was rather a practitioner of patrimonialism, the style of governance built on personal loyalty that was found in “the later Roman Empire and medieval Europe.”

It is patrimonialism that links Trump to oddball cronies like Wilbur Ross, Jared Kushner, Thomas Barrack, Stephen Miller, and Matthew Whitaker. As Riley observes, “Bonds of purely personal loyalty bind the seedy milieu of lumpen-millionaires (Ross and Kushner inside the Administration, Thomas Barrack outside) and hangers-on of various sorts (Miller, Whitaker) to Trump.” Patrimonialism also explains Trump’s use of the presidential pardon power on behalf of his political supporters such as Dinesh D’Souza, Conrad Black and Joe Arpaio.

Structurally, the American presidency has always been an elected monarchy. But Trump has ruled more like a king than most presidents, transforming the traditional bonds of partisanship or ideology into relationships of personal fealty.

Trump’s essentially feudal conception of politics is surely traceable to his long-standing connections to the Mafia, perhaps the modern organization that most closely resembles the patrimonial governance of the pre-modern world. In the mob, the Godfather is a de facto lord, who offers protection in exchange for respect and tribute.

Still, the underlying thing of all things Trump has been racism.  This was true of his first ventures in being a slum lord right up and through the Central Park Five lynching calls.  It’s his response to Charlottesville. It’s his attack on the women of color in Congress. He enjoys going on racist screeds.  He gets some kind of sadistic thrill from it.

He has underlying motivations that can probably be carved out in the territory of a number of personality disorders and venal sins.  But, there is something pervasive and overtly deep felt about his actions and words that show a special hatred of women and an even deeper hatred of people of color.  Again, he gets off on being an outspoken race war baiting racist and he should not get a pass, a side wink, or even an excuse.

That is something we cannot ignore, trivialize, or bury in a list of all his evil deeds. And, that’s really how I feel.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: The Dark, Depressing Place That Is Trump’s America

July 31, 2017 – A vehicle travels east on Front St. in Bells, TN on Monday afternoon. Bells is one of five small towns that comprises Crockett County, Tennessee.  (Yalonda M. James for Mother Jones)

Good Morning!!

Ever wonder what is it like to be a person of color in a Trump-supporting state? Read some personal testimony at Mother Jones: “We Just Feel Like We Don’t Belong Here Anymore,” by Becca Andrews. Andrews returned to her hometown of Bells, Tennessee to find out.

I remember high-school Madyson Turner as a vibrant young black woman with a sense of humor that could dissipate tension in any room. (Turner’s name has been changed here to protect her privacy.) But when we meet up in a Subway sandwich shop in Alamo, there’s a new weight to her shoulders, and her infectious laugh doesn’t come quite so easily.

When she first began to see reports about the violence in Charlottesville, Turner thought it was a tasteless joke. Then she saw videos of the clash on Saturday, and her phone rang—her boyfriend was calling to check on her and process what was happening. He sounded upset. What he said tore at her: “I would rather the world end instead of us having to keep dealing with this stuff.” What hurt her more was the realization that she agreed with him.

“With the way it’s going now, I’m actually scared that I won’t make it,” she said to me in a text message.

Turner tells me that over the past year, life for her family has changed. She hints that her parents have been in West Tennessee long enough to know which families fought against civil rights “back in the day.” Since Trump’s election, they’ve warned her to steer clear of a list of people that is too long for comfort.

The day after the November presidential election, Turner went with her mother to the store, and they both kept their heads down. “We just feel like we don’t belong here anymore,” she says.

Turner’s mom, who cleans houses in town for a living, went to work a couple of days after that, and her employer, an older white woman, brought up the results of the recent election. The two had talked politics before—Turner’s mom is a Democrat, and her employer is a Republican. “Well, you might as well come and live with me now,” the employer said. “You gonna be mine eventually.”

She called her daughter in tears. Turner immediately got in her car and picked her mother up to bring her home.

Last year before the election, a young woman Turner described as one of her best friends casually mentioned she hoped for a Trump victory so that he might “do away with some of these African American people.” She quickly clarified that she wasn’t referring to Turner’s “type,” but when Turner sharply asked her what she meant, she couldn’t answer. Another friend assured her that it would be okay if Trump won the election because she would convince her parents to purchase Turner’s family as their new slaves. In a place where a few large plantation-style houses remain scattered through the county, the “joke” feels a lot like a threat.

The stories are heartbreaking. Please go read the rest if you haven’t already.

The Guardian reports what happened to an African American woman in Texas: Dashcam video shows police sexually assaulted Texas woman, lawyer says.

Charnesia Corley

The attorney for a black woman subjected to an invasive and lengthy roadside strip search by Texas police has released a dashcam video of the incident that he says shows her treatment was a form of rape.

“When you stick your fingers in somebody without their effective consent, that’s rape in any state that I know of,” said Sam Cammack, an attorney for Charnesia Corley.

Cammack made the video public after two Harris County deputies, Ronaldine Pierre and William Strong, were cleared of official oppression by a grand jury earlier this month. They are still with the sheriff’s department. Cammack wants an independent prosecutor to look into the case; a federal civil rights trial is set for January.

Corley was pulled over for allegedly running a stop sign and failing to use turn signals. In the video, she is made to stand, handcuffed, outside her car while two officers look inside. She is then searched with the rear passenger-side door open, partially obscuring the camera’s view of her body.

Corley is then put on the ground, naked below the waist, and examined for about 11 minutes by a female officer using a flashlight. The incident happened in the parking lot of a Texaco garage in Houston late on a June evening in 2015, when she was a 20-year-old student.

The federal lawsuit against Harris County alleges: “When one of the Deputies tried to insert her fingers into Ms CorTheley’s vagina, Ms Corley protested. At that point, the Deputies forcibly threw Ms Corley to the ground, while she was still handcuffed, pinned her down with her legs spread apart, threatened to break her legs and without consent penetrated her vagina in a purported search for marijuana.”

The Guardian is on the ground in Pennsylvania: ‘Trump’s delivering exactly what they wanted: white male supremacy.’

Leaning over a table stacked with “Resist!” buttons and “Impeach Trump” stickers, Kathy Harrington pointed to the offending spot. “It’s probably still there somewhere,” she said. Harrington, 56, was inviting attendees of the annual Musikfest bash in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, to sign up to support progressive causes – and to protest against Donald Trump. And then there was one guy who “just looked at us and spit”, said Sandra Davis, 58, a colleague of Harrington, who pointed out the evidence still evaporating from the pavement.

Kathy Harrington joins fellow political activists during Musikfest in Bethlehem. Mark Makela for the Guardian

“They feel empowered,” Davis said of Trump supporters since the election. “They’re given voice. The louder and the more vulgar, the better.”

Images from the night before of white supremacists carrying torches in Charlottesville, Virginia, were deeply disturbing but not surprising, said another activist, Ginny Atwell.

“I think his core base are the true deplorables,” Atwell, 72, said of Trump. “The white supremacists. He’s delivering exactly what they wanted. White male supremacy.”

Trump is never too busy defending white supremacists to find new ways to reverse things President Obama did. The Washingtonian: Trump Removed the White House’s Capital Bikeshare Station.

As Capital Bikeshare grew bigger and more widespread over the past seven years, there was always one station the vast majority of users could never access: a nine-slot dock inside the White House’s security perimeter. For more info about online security services, Check this out. The station, located at 17th Street and State Place, was visible to the eye when it was installed in 2010, but did not appear on any system map, making Capital Bikeshare’s smallest station an unofficial “secret” location.

The spot where the WH Capital bikeshare station used to be.

But on Tuesday, Twitter user Gregory Matlesky passed by the White House and noticed the station not there.

Turns out Matlesky’s intuition was correct. The station was removed earlier this week at the Trump Administration’s request, District Department of Transportation spokesperson Terry Owens tells Washingtonian.

Owens adds that the station was installed in 2010 at the request of the Obama Administration, which had a favorable record with the cycling community. The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery—or TIGER—grant program in the 2009 stimulus act funded bike-infrastructure programs throughout the United States, including the installation of several bike lanes and cycling paths around Washington. Before former President Barack Obama left office in January, his Transportation Department signed off on new regulations redefining traffic as people who move on roads, rather than strictly vehicles—a change considered a coup for cyclists and pedestrians.

Apparently WordPress no longer allows us to post tweets, but I’ve posted the photo Matlesky shared.

Why is Mike Pence ending his Latin American trip three days early? Oliver Willis at Share Blue opines: Pence cuts foreign trip short to rush home as Trump’s presidency collapses.

The latest alarm sign for Trump that his presidency is crumbling was the complete destruction of the advisory councils he had put together months ago. Multiple CEOs pulled out of the group, leading Trump to then impotently declare that he was ending them.

Pence also reiterated his support for Trump’s divisive remarks on the terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“I stand with the president,” he said, and insisted that Trump “has been clear” on standing against racism. The claim is disconnected from reality, coming less than 24 hours after Trump delivered a full-throated defense of white supremacists, arguing that they were provoked by the “alt-left,” and characterizing pro-confederacy Nazis as “fine people.”

Standing with Trump might not be so good for Pence’s 2020 prospects.

Tony Schwartz, who wrote Trump’s book The Art of the Deal, thinks Trump is going to resign. HuffPost:

Tony Schwartz

Donald Trump’s Art of the Deal co-author Tony Schwartz is predicting that the president is getting ready to call it quits ― and that the resignation will happen soon.

In followup tweets in response to questions, Schwartz predicted Trump would make a deal for immunity in the Russia investigation in exchange for his resignation.

“The Russia stuff will be huge,” he wrote. “He doesn’t want to go to jail.”

He also urged Trump’s opponents to keep up the pressure, and he slammed the president’s elder children.

Read Schwartz’s tweets at HuffPost. I agree with him. Ever since I heard that Pence was rushing back to the U.S. for a meeting at Camp David, I’ve suspected Trump will be pressured to resign. It may not happen right away, but I believe it will happen.

I’ll add more links in the comment thread. What stories are you following today?