Friday Reads: Waiting on Justice

Justice By Miles MacGregor

Good Day Sky Dancers!

One of the recurrent themes in the headlines these days is the long uneven road to American Justice. We got a brief respite a few weeks ago with the Chauvin trial which quickly dispensed with a murdering cop once the system was put to work in the proper way.  This was a state case handled by the Minnesota AG Keith Ellison, the former Minnesota Congressman.

You can watch some CBS video on conversations with Jurors in the case here. You can tell they took their duties seriously and not one of them will ever be the same.  Such is the cost of justice to all of us and a burden worth paying.

We’re beginning to see the Department of Justice work in the proper way too.  Many of the key appointments are focused on both ridding the corruption of the Trumpist regime and moving forward to ensure we live up to our Constitutional promise, our rule of law, and our inspirational founding with many coming together to make one.

Zachary Basu at Axios reports today that “Merrick Garland rapidly erasing Trump effect at Justice Department.”  We need no reminder of the role of Bill Barr in blocking prosecution to many criminal activities.

  • Attorney General Bill Barr played a central role in the Trump administration’s most high-profile controversies, from undermining the Russia investigation to intervening in the cases of indicted Trump associates to ordering the forcible clearing of protesters in Lafayette Square Park.

The Biden/Garland Justice Department will play a central role in restoring rule of law and enacting many of the Biden/Harris Justice priorities.

  • DOJ’s broad authority also overlaps with many of the issues at the top of President Biden’s agenda, including restoring faith in government, promoting racial justice and police reform, and curbing gun violence.

Here are just a few of the actions taken to date.

The Justice Department also announcedon Wednesday that three Georgia men were charged with federal hate crimes in the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, whose death was a rallying cry during last year’s racial-justice protests.

  • In Michigan, a superseding indictment was filed against five men accused of plotting last year to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, with prosecutors referring to the alleged crimes as “domestic terrorism” for the first time.
  • That shift comes amid new developments in the investigation of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, which has been described as the most complex probe in DOJ history. Garland, who played a leading role in the prosecution of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, has vowed to make prosecuting the Capitol rioters his “first priority.”

Other major steps taken in Garland’s first 50 days include:

  • “Pattern or practice” investigations into the Minneapolis and Louisville police departments, following the deaths last year of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
  • A 30-day “expedited review” into how DOJ can better prosecute and track hate crimes amid a surge in violence against Asian Americans.
  • The revocation of a Trump-era policy that restricted federal funding for “sanctuary cities.”
  • Responsibility for five of the six executive actions on gun control ordered by Biden.

ABV Gallery (abvatl.com) artists Tommy Bronx and Ash “Wolfdog” Hayner installed a new mural at the intersection of Irwin and Randolph Streets in the heart of the Old Fourth Ward.

The biggest headline grabbers at the moment are the supoenas served on Rudy Guilliani and the stories of sex trafficking and child rape coming out of the Matt Gaetz investigation.  Both of these are sordid in their own way and full court press is to be expected.  However, the work going on to prosecute the insurrectionists as well the additional addition of federal hate crime charges to the murder of unarmed black men by police and others is significant.  The new addition of Covid-19 based hate crimes against those of Asian descent will likely be in the headlines shortly.

The New Republic has a feature article on the AG.  “The Mystery of Merrick Garland. Biden’s attorney general is neither an ideologue nor a partisan, but a consensus-builder. How will he wield his power in this historic, politically charged moment? The piece was written by Matt Ford.

So how did Garland get tapped to be Biden’s attorney general? The most cynical interpretation of Biden’s choice is sheer pragmatism. Nominating Garland all but assured a smooth path to confirmation through the Senate, no matter who controlled it. (Biden nevertheless waited until the outcome of the Georgia runoffs was clear before making the Garland pick public.)  Garland’s nomination also freed up a seat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is usually considered the second most powerful court in the nation and a warm-up spot for future Supreme Court nominees. There is even perhaps a dash of sympathy in the choice: Garland’s nomination gives him a chance to not be remembered as the would-be high court justice who was blithely snubbed by the U.S. Senate.

Nominating Garland, however, also fits well with the vision of governance that Biden had offered voters on the campaign trail. He is neither an ideologue like Sessions nor a partisan like Barr, partly because of his judicial oath and partly because of his temperament. Garland’s own sister toldThe New York Timesin 2016 that she didn’t know her brother’s party affiliation. In more than two decades on the D.C. Circuit, Garland carved out a reputation as a consensus-builder. From his elevation to the appellate bench in 1997 to his nomination to the Supreme Court in 2016, Garland wrote just 11 dissenting opinions—a testament to his ability to bring colleagues of all stripes together.

“He was not a hands-off, let-the-clerks-just-do-their-thing kind of judge,” Jessica Bulman-Pozen, a Columbia University law professor who clerked for Garland from 2007 to 2008, told me. “He was himself totally steeped in every case. He knew all the details. He knew the record.” Garland is often described as a centrist or a moderate, because he does not fit neatly into any particular ideological box. That description, however, is less revealing than it seems. “I don’t want to say he’d be sort of moderate in the sense of waiting or restraint in addressing [things],” Bulman-Pozen said, “but I think moderate perhaps in the sense of being careful, conscientious, thorough.”

So, the salicious cases are heating up today.

There is nothing like a story from a desperate man who can turn state’s evidence on a higher up. The Gaetz Saga gets more sordid daily. 

Welp, it looks like Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz better start working out so that he can fight off attackers in prison because he’s about to lose his job and go straight to the pokey if anything in his former friend’s letter is true.

Joel Greenberg, a longtime associate of Gaetz, admitted in a letter that he and Gaetz paid for sex–including sex with an underaged girl.

According to a scathing report in the Daily Beast, Greenberg reportedly wrote a handwritten confession letter claiming that he and Gaetz were “involved in sexual activities” with a girl who was 17 at the time.

“From time to time, gas money or gifts, rent or partial tuition payments were made to several of these girls, including the individual who was not yet 18,” he wrote.

“I did see the acts occur firsthand and Venmo transactions, Cash App or other payments were made to these girls on behalf of the Congressman.”

Shepard Fairey’s one-hundredth mural on the Founder’s League building on Clemence Street in Providence. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Speaking of badly behaved and nasty Trust Fund babies, Tucker Carlson tried to give Rudy Guiliani a platform.  The SDNY probably  hopes old Rudy will keep going on TV to blabber away at this rate.  However, let’s turn to the NYT version today. “Firing of U.S. Ambassador Is at Center of Giuliani Investigation“.  I really would be thrilled if former Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch got the last word on this as a witness.

It was a Pyrrhic victory. Mr. Giuliani’s push to oust the ambassador, Marie L. Yovanovitch, not only became a focus of President Donald J. Trump’s first impeachment trial, but it has now landed Mr. Giuliani in the cross hairs of a federal criminal investigation into whether he broke lobbying laws, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The long-running inquiry reached a turning point this week when F.B.I. agents seized telephones and computers from Mr. Giuliani’s home and office in Manhattan, the people said. At least one of the warrants was seeking evidence related to Ms. Yovanovitch and her role as ambassador, the people said.

In particular, the federal authorities were expected to scour the electronic devices for communications between Mr. Giuliani and Trump administration officials about the ambassador before she was recalled in April 2019, one of the people added.

The warrant also sought his communications with Ukrainian officials who had butted heads with Ms. Yovanovitch, including some of the same people who at the time were helping Mr. Giuliani seek damaging information about President Biden, who was then a candidate, and his family, the people said.

At issue for investigators is a key question: Did Mr. Giuliani go after Ms. Yovanovitch solely on behalf of Mr. Trump, who was his client at the time? Or was he also doing so on behalf of the Ukrainian officials, who wanted her removed for their own reasons?

It is a violation of federal law to lobby the United States government on behalf of foreign officials without registering with the Justice Department, and Mr. Giuliani never did so.

Even if the Ukrainians did not pay Mr. Giuliani, prosecutors could pursue the theory that they provided assistance by collecting information on the Bidens in exchange for her removal.

There’s a lot of Trumpist folks gonna lose their freedom.  I’m pulling that Gaetz and Guiliani lose everything they’ve got.  Get those January 6 insurrectionists too!!!

Meanwhile, I’m going to be watching the return of our Department of Justice.  Have a great weekend!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: A Bad Day For Him?

Young Lady Reading the Newspaper at Home in the Evening

Young Lady Reading the Newspaper at Home in the Evening, by Yann Rebecq

Good Morning!!

There’s a police captain in Atlanta named Jay Baker who needs to fired immediately. Since when do we take the word of mass murders on their motives?

So this pathetic loser was having a bad day? What about the 8 women he killed and their surviving family members? Or don’t they count because they aren’t white males?

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that Captain Baker appears to be a racist. The Daily Beast: Georgia Sheriff Spokesman Posted Racist COVID Shirts on Facebook.

A Cherokee County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office spokesperson came under fire Wednesday afternoon for pinning the deadly Tuesday shooting rampage that left eight dead—including six Asian women—on a 21-year-old white man’s “really bad day.”

“Yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did,” Jay Baker said during the joint news conference with the Atlanta Police Department about 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long.

But it seems the same spokesperson shared racist content online, including pointing the finger at China for the ongoing coronavirus pandemic—the same vitriol advocates say has fueled a horrific surge in violence against Asian Americans.

In a Facebook page associated with Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office, several photos show the law enforcer was promoting T-shirts with the slogan “COVID-19 imported virus from CHY-NA.”

“Place your order while they last,” Baker wrote with a smiley face on a March 30 photo that included the racist T-shirts.

“Love my shirt,” Baker wrote in another post in April 2020. “Get yours while they last.’”

The shirts appear to be printed by Deadline Appeal, owned by a former deputy sheriff from Cherokee County, and sold for $22. The store, which promotes fully customizable gear, also appears to print shirts for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard, a “ceremonial unit, all volunteers, who represent not only the Sheriff’s Office but also the county when participating in a variety of events,” according to a March 10 Instagram post.

The Washington Post Editorial Board: Opinion: The Atlanta shootings cannot be dismissed as someone having a ‘bad day.’

HOURS AFTER a 21-year-old White man purchased a gun on Tuesday, authorities said, he went on a shooting spree in the Atlanta area that killed eight people, most of them women of Asian descent. The question that investigators are trying to answer is why. Was it, as many members of the Asian American community believe, racial bigotry? Crimes of opportunity? Or, as the alleged shooter is reported to have told police, the result of a supposed sex addiction that led him to target spas? No matter the answer, the events in Georgia stand as yet another terrible reminder of the epidemic of gun violence in this country that for far too long has gone neglected.

Xue Jie, Chinese artist

By Xue Jie, Chinese artist

Robert Aaron Long, arrested following a brief search, is accused of opening fire at three spas in the Atlanta area, killing eight people and wounding a ninth. Six of the people killed were Asian, and two were White. All but one were women. Identified so far: Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Xiaojie Yan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44 and Paul Andre Michels, 54. That police were able to make a quick arrest is a credit to the collaboration of different police agencies, critical cooperation from the suspect’s family and the reach of social media. According to authorities, the suspect was headed to Florida and intent on more violence.

The shootings occurred as there has been an alarming rise in discrimination, harassment and attacks of Asians. Stop AAPI Hate, a group that has collected first-hand accounts of discrimination and xenophobia against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, this week reported nearly 3,800 hate-related incidents from March 2020 through February 2021. It connects the attacks to racist rhetoric, including from former president Donald Trump, that suggests Chinese people are to blame for the pandemic….

When arrested, Mr. Long had a 9mm gun that authorities said was purchased earlier in the day. Details of the purchase — and whether it was legal — were not disclosed. Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office said Mr. Long took responsibility for the shootings and characterized the spas as a “temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.” He added, “Yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did.”

Really? Have we become so nonchalant about gun violence that we rack up the murder of eight people to someone having a “bad day?” Just as the coronavirus represents a public health emergency requiring scientific solutions and government action, so gun violence is a public health crisis that demands attention and action to put in place common-sense safety laws.

Bess Levin at Vanity Fair: Why Are We Taking Robert Aaron Long’s Word For It That The Georgia Killings Weren’t About Race?

When Georgia law enforcement briefed the public on Wednesday morning about the 21-year-old white man who shot and killed eight people—six of them Asian women—at Atlanta-area massage parlors Tuesday night, it wasn’t helpful.

Officials made a puzzling series of claims of fact, despite being cartoonishly cautious about other aspects of the case. Officials claimed that 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long had a “sex addiction” but admitted they didn’t know whether sex work occurred at the places where Long killed people. Who told them that Long had a sex addiction? Was it Long himself?

They weren’t sure whether Long was motivated by the racial identity or gender of his victims, and thus said they couldn’t say with certainty that a hate crime had been committed, but then again, they said with certainty that before he’d committed the crimes the shooter had “a really bad day.” Who told them that Long had a really bad day? Did they fact-check that one, or did they once again simply repeat the words of a suspected mass killer into a microphone? (I think I speak for a lot of people when I say: I don’t give a flying-saucer fuck about what kind of day a mass shooter was having before opening fire.)

In her book Down Girl, philosopher Kate Mann describes the phenomenon of “himpathy,” which she defines as “the inappropriate and disproportionate sympathy powerful men often enjoy in cases of sexual assault, intimate-partner violence, homicide, and other misogynistic behavior.” The phenomenon is particularly on display when a male public figure is accused of sexual misconduct and his defenders comment on how the man’s life has been “ruined,” like when Lindsey Graham lost his marbles during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.

Mai Trung Thu, Vietnamese artist

By Mai Trung Thu, Vietnamese artist

When men specifically target women in their violent crimes, some in positions of power fall all over themselves to make the case that those crimes were somehow in women’s power to stop, that men’s out-of-control unmet entitlement functions like a semitruck that lost the use of its brakes while heading down a steep grade, and that those who get hit should have moved out of the way.

Violent acts committed by men who have a problem with women and sex—they’re not getting enough; they feel bad about getting too much; the women who they believe should be giving them sex are instead choosing to have sex with other men—are similarly excused as something we should understand on an emotional level. If only women had been sluttier/less slutty when it came to the sad men, perhaps the men wouldn’t have been pushed to do what they did….

The murder of six Asian women and a white man and white woman in Atlanta didn’t only call to mind over-empathization with maleness; Long’s treatment by law enforcement also draws attention to the way authorities treat whiteness.

Harmeet Kaur at CNN: Fetishized, sexualized and marginalized, Asian women are uniquely vulnerable to violence.

Of the eight people who were killed when a White man attacked three metro Atlanta spas, six were Asian women.

Investigators said it was too early to say whether the crime was racially motivated, and instead pointed to the suspect’s claim of a potential sex addiction.

But experts and activists argue it’s no coincidence that six of the eight victims were Asian women. And the suspect’s remarks, they say, are rooted in a history of misogyny and stereotypes that are all too familiar for Asian and Asian American women.

They’re fetishized and hypersexualized. They’re seen as docile and submissive. On top of that, they’re often working in the service sector and are subject to the same racism that affects Asian Americans more broadly.

The way their race intersects with their gender makes Asian and Asian American women uniquely vulnerable to violence, said Sung Yeon Choimorrow, executive director of the non-profit advocacy group National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum….

Di Li Feng

Painting by Di Li Feng

The perceptions of Asian and Asian American women as submissive, hypersexual and exotic can be traced back centuries.

Rachel Kuo, a scholar on race and co-leader of Asian American Feminist Collective, points to legal and political measures throughout the nation’s history that have shaped these harmful ideas.

One of the earliest examples comes from the Page Act of 1875.

That law, coming a few years before the Chinese Exclusion Act, was enacted seemingly to restrict prostitution and forced labor. In reality, it was used systematically to prevent Chinese women from immigrating to the US, under the pretense that they were prostitutes.

Read more details at CNN.

A few more stories on this topic:

Rex Huppke at The Chicago Tribune: Column: Atlanta shooting suspect’s ‘bad day’ and the whitewashing of white crime.

CNN: Unsettling questions surround the motive behind three Atlanta-area spa shootings as Asians in the US face increased hate.

The Washington Post: Asian Americans see shooting as a culmination of a year of racism.

The Atlantic: Why This Wave of Anti-Asian Racism Feels Different. The author Cathy Park Hong sees the recent upsurge in violence as a turning point for Asian Americans.

As always this is an open thread. What’s on your mind today?


Monday Reads: Stranger than Fiction and all that jazz

Good Afternoon!!!

0427-OLOCH-Britain-Loch-Ness

Today is the Anniversary of the first sighting of the Loch Ness Monster back in the 1930s.  I figure that’s as good of a place as any to start our reads today because everything else is a lot less believable. This is the type of monster sighting I’d like to read about. Unfortunately, it’s not the kind of monster sighting we get today.

Newly published documents reveal that a Scottish police official in the 1930s believed ‘beyond doubt’ that the Loch Ness monster existed. Expert Loren Coleman says it reveals the government’s longstanding policy to protect the mythic beast.

I’m pretty much turning into a victim of shaken head syndrome because I find myself doing that or picking my jaw up off the floor nearly daily. Every day there’s a monster sighting on the internet.  Perhaps having a major political party elect a known-nothing reality TV star for president has something to do with it.   Donald Trump has this way of bringing out the worst in people and bringing out the worst people. He is the monster we see today on the internet and on TV and he brings a lot of them with him.

This is not a headline I expected to see over the weekend or even these days. That is until the Donald stirred the White Supremacy pot. “Armed, Confederate flag-waving White Lives Matter protesters rally outside Houston NAACP.”    Houston, you have a problem.

White Lives Matter staged a rally outside the NAACP’s Houston headquarters on Sunday, sparking controversy and counter-protests in a city where racial tensions remain high after a string of recent incidents.

Clutching Confederate flags, white supremacist signs and, in several cases, assault rifles, roughly 20 White Lives Matter members stood on the sidewalk of a historically black neighborhood to denounce the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“We came out here specifically today to protest against the NAACP and their failure in speaking out against the atrocities that organizations like Black Lives Matter and other pro-black organizations have caused the attack and killing of white police officers, the burning down of cities and things of that nature,” organizer Ken Reed told the Houston Chronicle. “If they’re going to be a civil rights organization and defend their people, they also need to hold their people accountable.”

Reed, who was wearing a “Donald Trump ’16” hat and a “White Lives Matter” shirt with white supremacist symbols, said protesters were “not out here to instigate or start any problems,” despite the weaponry and body armor on display.

Of course!  No one whose been listening to Trump spout his “second amendment solutions” advice has any malice or intent to do harm to anyone!  This guy in Tulsa, Oklahoma–as an example–was just exercising his metaphorical ness-1934constitutional rights a few weeks ago too!

For years, the Jabara family says, their Tulsa neighbor terrorized them.

He called them names — “dirty Arabs,” “filthy Lebanese,” they said.

He hurled racial epithets at those who came to work on their lawns, they alleged.

He ran Haifa Jabara over with his car and went to court for it.

And it all came to a head last week when the man, Stanley Vernon Majors, walked up to the front steps of the family home and shot and killed Khalid Jabara, police said.

“The frustration that we continue to see anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, xenophobic rhetoric and hate speech has unfortunately led up to a tragedy like this,” it said.

Or this guy that gunned down an Imam in NYC with his assistant.  Just a white guy waxing in that special first amendment way and exercising his second amendment solutions.article-2604176-06EBDC54000005DC-231_634x494

Saturday’s shooting was not the first incident of violence to hit this growing Bangladeshi community, which straddles the border between the New York boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn.

For years, attacks have happened, most frequently during Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, when activity at the five neighborhood mosques peaks. Police bolstered patrolling efforts and stationed officers outside of mosques during the month. For the most part, community members said their presence has been helpful.

But protection during Ramadan is not enough, Hoque said.

“I feel like 106 Precinct is very lazy because they don’t have enough patrolman in our area,” she said. At the rally, Hoque said she witnessed community members, usually on the side of the police, levy similar charges.

While some uneasy neighborhood residents believe the need for more robust policing is greater than ever, some younger community members feel it is time to lessen the community’s dependence on police.

On Wednesday afternoon, the men of Al-Furqan Jame Masjid were gathered in the prayer space, which amounted to little more than two adjoining rooms cooled by an array of three-armed ceiling fans. There, they discussed plans for succession and next steps.

Mohamed Amen, an Egyptian-American police officer in the community affairs bureau, was among the men seated in front of the crowd of 30 men.

During his comments, Officer Amen reiterated that morning’s news: the charges against Oscar Morel, the suspected killer, had been changed from second-degree murder to first-degree murder. If convicted, he explained, the assailant could face life in prison without parole.

“Alhamdulilah,” a few men murmured in unison. Thank God.

Then he addressed the matter of motive. “I can tell you that the hate crimes unit is conducting its own investigation,” he said.

Travel.Scotland, Oddities. pic: June 1969. American submarine expert Dan Taylor sits in the cockpit of his 20 foot submarine at Loch Ness, where he will go underwater to search for the Loch Ness Monster. PPP

Travel.Scotland, Oddities. pic: June 1969. American submarine expert Dan Taylor sits in the cockpit of his 20 foot submarine at Loch Ness, where he will go underwater to search for the Loch Ness Monster. PPP

It does seem that some Republicans and former Trump supporters are beginning to understand that Trump appears to be leading a movement of white nationalists and supremacists.  This is despite the attempt by some to dress the wolf up in sheep’s clothing.

Donald Trump is alienating his own supporters because of his sometimes “erratic” and inflammatory ad hominem attacks, according to a focus group held Saturday by pollster and Republican strategist Frank Luntz.

“He was my first choice. But just along the way, he has — I guess you can say he’s lost me,”  one participant said in the focus group, which aired Sunday as a segment on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I’m not saying there’s no chance of turning but he’s become outrageous. I mean, we all have thoughts, but I think he speaks without thinking.”

The panel, conducted in Pennsylvania, only had a handful of attendees that were still committed to supporting the GOP nominee. Several more participants once backed Trump but no longer do.

“When he initially began to run, he gave voice to a lot of the frustrations that I was feeling about how government is working or more to the point not working,” one man, Michael R., said. “But since then, he’s been running as a 12 year old and changes his positions every news cycle, so you don’t even know where he stands on the issues.”

Another, Howard E. chimed in: “Whenever somebody makes a derogatory comment to him, like in a democratic convention, Trump feels like he needs to attack that person. And he says things that are crazy. And I keep asking myself: is this the kind of person I want to handle the nuclear codes?”

Luntz followed up, asking, “what’s the answer?”

Howard responded: “No way.”

If Republicans are looking for a kinder, gentler, more presidential Donald Trump, they aren’t getting him today.  He was more preoccupied with gossiping about Morning Joke and Mika then doing outreach to African Americans with “nothing to lose”._63417388_olderpiclake_getty

On Monday morning he trained his Twitter fire at the MSNBC show “Morning Joe,” formerly one of his favorite places to campaign.

 Trump criticized “Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski in highly personal terms, calling her “off the wall, a neurotic and not very bright mess!”

He also implied that Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough have been secretly dating. He called them “two clowns.”

The comments about Brzezinski were reminiscent of Trump’s highly personal attacks against Fox host Megyn Kelly.

The co-hosts were in the middle of a three-hour live broadcast at the time and had been highly critical of Trump earlier in the morning.

Scarborough responded during a commercial break, stating that “Clinton is targeting key swing states today while Trump starts his day obsessed with cable news hosts while channeling Gawker.”

He ended the tweet with one of Trump’s favorite put-downs: “SAD!”

More people are beginning to worry that his end game is actually to start a Alt-right/White Nationalist media empire given his thrown in with both Alec Jones and Steve Bannon.Calgary_Herald_281057

Has Donald Trump given up on winning the White House and “pivoted” (this might be his real pivot) to a full-blown effort to build a national following that will outlast the election, perhaps allowing him to establish a media empire with him at the helm — one that caters, at least to some degree, to a white nationalist or “alt-right” audience? Was that his plan all along?

The last few days have brought fresh reporting and evidence that suggest this is where Trump is really headed, a scenario that a numberof observers (your humble blogger included) have been speculating about for months. I thought it would be useful to round up this evidence:

* Vanity Fair media writer Sarah Ellison reports in a radio interviewthat Trump has had private discussions with his inner circle about “how to monetize” the new audience he’s built up. As Ellison puts it, this potential goal should no longer be seen as “speculation.”

* The New York Times reports today that in July, Trump’s campaign “spent more on renting arenas for his speeches” than he did on setting up a national field operation, leaving him with no operation to speak of. That is consistent with the idea that Trump (as I’ve speculated) is very consciously sinking most of his resources into a format (rallies) that allows him to continue staging his unique form of raucous WWE-style political entertainment, and building an audience that thrills to it, rather than winning a general election.

Sunday Express Article 230751 Zoom InMeanwhile, Campaign Mommy Kellyanne Conway insists that the Donald doesn’t hurl any personal insults. 

In February, Conway called Trump’s attacks on rivals like Cruz “vulgar.”

“Do I want somebody who hurls personal insults,” she asked on CNN, “or who goes and talks about philosophical differences?”

On Sunday, though, Conway claimed that Trump’s tone has changed and that he’s already made a pivot “on substance.”

“He doesn’t hurl personal insults,” she said. “What he’s doing is he’s challenging the Democratic Party. He’s challenging Hillary Clinton and President Obama’s legacy.”

She’s been mommysplaining her “pivots” from the Cruz campaign to the Trump nearly all weekend.  It’s really pretty disgusting and disingenuous which appear to be her trademarks.  However, there’s no way to mommysplain Steven Bannon who has been labelled “the most dangerous political operative in America” and wants to take down establishment Republicans as well as democrats.  Check this piece about him out even though it’s from last year.

While attacking the favored candidates in both parties at once may seem odd, Bannon says he’s motivated by the same populist disgust with Washington that’s animating candidates from Trump to Bernie Sanders. Like both, Bannon is having a bigger influence than anyone could have reasonably expected. But in the Year of the Outsider, it’s perhaps fitting that a figure like Bannon, whom nobody saw coming, would roil the national political debate.

 

The biggest scare now is that Trump has been priming the pump about rigged elections and evil media plots against him.  Given that his followers now regularly threaten the media and a few of them are using their second amendment solutions are immigrants, what can we expect when he loses?  Will we have the police dealing with the well-armed League of Angry White men?

“Among the values most necessary for a functioning democracy is the peaceful transition of power that’s gone on uninterrupted since 1797. What enables that is the acceptance of the election’s outcome by the losers,” said Steve Schmidt, the GOP operative who was McCain’s campaign strategist in 2008.

“Here you have a candidate after a terrible three weeks, which has all been self-inflicted, saying the only way we lose is if it’s ‘rigged’ or stolen — in a media culture where people increasingly don’t buy into generally accepted facts and turn to places to have their opinions validated where there’s no wall between extreme and mainstream positions. That’s an assault on some of the pillars that undergird our system. People need to understand just how radical a departure this is from the mean of American politics.”

Should Trump opt not to concede after a loss or deliberately roil his supporters and spark uprisings by refusing to accept the legitimacy of the election results, he would still have little recourse to alter a significant electoral victory for Clinton. Only if the election were close, hinging on one or two states where there were alleged voting irregularities, could Trump seriously contest the result in court.

But beyond who wins the White House in November, many Republicans fear that Trump’s efforts to diminish people’s confidence in mainstream media, fair elections and politics itself will have a lasting impact.

I’m expecting a good deal of these dudes will not go quietly into that great night.  Frankly, I hope the police are up to it.  There’s a reliance on conspiracy theories and monster sightings that scares the bejeebus out of me.  It’s hard to know what exactly what folks like this will do when backed into reality.  The Donald Trump monster is not fake in the traditional sense of monster sightings.  He’s more than real even though everything he promises, affirms as truth, and does is not particularly real.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Tuesday Reads: The Orlando Attack Was Anti-LGBT Terrorism

 internalized-homophobia

Good Morning!!

As we learn more about Omar Mateen, the man who murdered 49 people and injured 53 others at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, it is becoming clear that it was no accident that the gunman deliberately targeted LGBT people. His claims of connections to overseas terror groups may have been little more than a cover for his own “internalized homophobia.” From an LGBT support website “Revel and Riot.” The image at the top of this post also comes from the Revel and Riot article.

THE DEFINITION

Simply put, internalized homophobia happens when LGBQ individuals are subjected to society’s negative perceptions, intolerance and stigmas towards LGBQ people, and as a result, turn those ideas inward believing they are true.

It has been defined as ‘the gay person’s direction of negative social attitudes toward the self, leading to a devaluation of the self and resultant internal conflicts and poor self-regard.’ (Meyer and Dean, 1998).

Or as “the self-hatred that occurs as a result of being a socially stigmatized person.” (Locke, 1998).

PROBLEMS WITH THE TERM

Many LGBQ people do not relate to the expression “internalized homophobia” and as a result end up rejecting the idea before thoroughly examining its meaning. The word “internalized” presents the first barrier. “The concept suggests weakness rather than the resilience demonstrated by lesbians and gay men and keeps the focus away from the structures of inequality and oppression.” (Williamson, I., 2000) The word “homophobia” is the next complication – a difficult and seemingly illogical possibility. How can someone who identifies as LGBQ also have feelings of dislike, fear, and disgust towards themselves? So what can we do about the fact that the combination of words “internalized” and “homophobia” feel unrelatable for so many LGBQs?

Researchers have suggested that using ‘heterosexism’, ‘self-prejudice,’ and ‘homonegativity,’ in addition to the widely accepted term “internalized homophobia,” can help to add depth to our comprehension of the true meaning of the issue.

WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?

Internalized homophobia is a concept much more nuanced than it’s simple definition would suggest. It is clear that the word “homophobia” in this context, is misleading – the over simplified idea that it is individual acts of fear and ignorance diverts our attention from the much more pervasive systemic oppression that is at the root of the problem. The hateful and intolerant behavior of those closest to us often has the most profound impact (parents, church community, peers, partners). While they should be held responsible as individuals, the real culprit is an aggressively heterosexist society that is defining what is “normal,” and therefore what is “right” and “wrong,” through laws, policy, culture, education, health care, religion and family life. This systemic oppression is meant to enforce the gender binary, marginalize LGBTQ people, and keep heterosexual people and their relationships in a position of dominance and privilege.

When we see that homophobia is a result of a this larger system, we see that it is institutional; that it is impossible to exist outside of it; that the real definition of it is so much more than the dictionary simplicity of “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals;” that the root structure is vast, affecting every aspect of life and culture. All of these factors make dismantling heterosexism extremely complicated, and uprooting internalized homophobia even more so.

The above paragraphs form the introduction to a long article, complete with academic references. I can’t help but wonder if it may provide a better explanation for Omar Mateen’s actions than the reflexive assumption that his terrorist attack was inspired the quite disparate terror groups that he claimed connections with.

Pulse nightclub after the attack.

Pulse nightclub after the attack.

From Al Jazeera: Orlando: Omar Mateen ‘pledged loyalty to ISIL, others.’

An American man suspected of killing at least 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando espoused support for a jumble of often-conflicting organisations, according to the director of the FBI.

As details of the worst mass shooting in US history emerged, FBI Director James Comey said on Monday that the suspect, identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen, had not only pledged loyalty to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), but also expressed solidarity with the Tsarnaev brothers who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing and a suicide bomber who died on behalf of the al-Nusra front, a group at odds with ISIL.

“They’re really trying to paint a picture of a confused person, who felt targeted because of his religion,” said Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane, reporting from Orlando.

The shooter had called 911 during the attack at the Pulse nightclub early on Sunday to express his allegiance to ISIL.

But Comey – who believed Mateen had “strong signs of radicalisation” – said that in the past few years, the gunman also expressed support for both al-Qaeda and Hezbollah.

The FBI investigated Omar Mateen for 10 months beginning in May 2013 after he was said to have inflammatory remarks in support of terrorists.

Mateen appears to have been confused about the groups he named and that they were in opposition to each other. It now seems that these claims were attempts to draw attention away from his conflicted attitudes toward LGBT people and possibly toward his own sexuality.

Lawrence Mower at The Palm Beach Post: Orlando shooter Omar Mateen was gay, former classmate says.

A former classmate of Omar Mateen’s 2006 police academy class said he believed Mateen was gay, saying Mateen once asked him out….

The classmate said that he, Mateen and other classmates would hang out, sometimes going to gay nightclubs, after classes at the Indian River Community College police academy. He said Mateen asked him out romantically.

“We went to a few gay bars with him, and I was not out at the time, so I declined his offer,” the former classmate said. He asked that his name not be used.

He believed Mateen was gay, but not open about it. Mateen was awkward, and for a while the classmate and the rest in the group of friends felt sorry for him.

“He just wanted to fit in and no one liked him,” he said. “He was always socially awkward.”

Members of YAWF (Youth Against War & Fascism) carry a banner in the Fifth Annual Gay Pride Day march (Gay Liberation Day), New York, New York, June 30, 1974. It reads 'Stonewall Means... Fight Back! Smash Gay Oppression!' (Photo by Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images)

Members of YAWF (Youth Against War & Fascism) carry a banner in the Fifth Annual Gay Pride Day march (Gay Liberation Day), New York, New York, June 30, 1974. It reads ‘Stonewall Means… Fight Back! Smash Gay Oppression!’ (Photo by Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images)

The Orlando Sentinel: Witness: Omar Mateen drank alone at Pulse before attack.

 At least four regular customers at the Orlando gay nightclub where a gunman killed 49 people said Monday that they had seen Omar Mateen there before.

“Sometimes he would go over in the corner and sit and drink by himself, and other times he would get so drunk he was loud and belligerent,” Ty Smith said.

Smith told the Orlando Sentinel that he saw Mateen inside at least a dozen times.

“We didn’t really talk to him a lot, but I remember him saying things about his dad at times,” Smith said. “He told us he had a wife and child.” ….

Another Pulse regular, Kevin West, told the Los Angeles Times that Mateen messaged him on and off for a year using a gay chat app.

They had never met, West said, but he watched as Mateen entered the club about 1 a.m. Sunday, an hour before the shooting began.

There’s quite a bit of information about Mateen’s connections to law enforcement in the article. I think those could reveal a great deal about his personality as well as his attitudes toward homosexuality. I’m sure we’ll be learning more in the days ahead.

According to The Daily Mail, even Mateen’s ex-wife says he had “gay tendencies.” From the article:

Many in the Orlando gay community are now coming forward to share similar stories of seeing Mateen at clubs for the past decade or speaking to him on hookup apps….

Regulars at Pulse said they saw Mateen several times over the past three years drinking alcohol and dancing with men.

A couple who perform as drag-queens at the popular venue in 1912 South Orange Avenue said they had seen the 29-year-old party at Pulse.

Ty Smith and Chris Callen said the father-of-one was sometimes so drunk he had to be removed from the club.

Callen, who performs as Kristina McLaughlin, said: ‘I’ve seen him a couple of times at Pulse, a couple of other people that I’ve spoken with, including an-ex security guard, have actually witnessed this guy at Pulse many times before.’

Smith said he’d seen Mateen at Pulse ‘at least a dozen times.’

‘We didn’t really talk to him a lot, but I remember him saying things about his dad at times,’ Smith said. ‘He told us he had a wife and child.’

A security guard who worked at the club two years ago still remembered Mateen turning up to the venue, he added.

Orlando’s gay community is still reeling from the tragedy, and those who had seen Mateen at gay clubs before seem to all have a story to share about his temper.

Callen said Mateen, who seemed like a ‘nice guy’ and was ‘comfortable’ with the draq queens, threatened someone with a knife when he became angry about a religious joke.

Remarks that Mateen drank heavily conflict with his apparently strict adherence to his Muslim faith, including regular worship at a mosque in his home town of Port St. Lucie – where he was quiet and kept to himself.

It seems fairly obvious that Mateen’s attack on The Pulse was a terrorist attack against the LGBT community perpetrated by a confused young man–just as the murders at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs were a terrorist attack against women, despite that fact that authorities won’t call it one. The only reason the focus in the Orlando attack has been on connections to foreign terrorism is that Omar Mateen’s parents came from Afghanistan. They were here long before 9/11, because Mateen was born in Queens, NY and he was 29 years old.

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Here’s a 2012 article from Scientific American on the possible connections between homophobia and repressed homosexuality: Homophobes Might Be Hidden Homosexuals.

Homophobes should consider a little self-reflection, suggests a new study finding those individuals who are most hostile toward gays and hold strong anti-gay views may themselves have same-sex desires, albeit undercover ones.

The prejudice of homophobia may also stem from authoritarian parents, particularly those with homophobic views as well, the researchers added.

“This study shows that if you are feeling that kind of visceral reaction to an out-group, ask yourself, ‘Why?'” co-author Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, said in a statement. “Those intense emotions should serve as a call to self-reflection.”

The research, published in the April 2012 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, reveals the nuances of prejudices like homophobia, which can ultimately have dire consequences. [The 10 Most Destructive Human Behaviors]

“Sometimes people are threatened by gays and lesbians because they are fearing their own impulses, in a sense they ‘doth protest too much,'” Ryan told LiveScience. “In addition, it appears that sometimes those who would oppress others have been oppressed themselves, and we can have some compassion for them too, they may be unaccepting of others because they cannot be accepting of themselves.”

Ryan cautioned, however, that this link is only one source of anti-gay sentiments.

Read much more about these studies at the link.

born-child-homophobia-homophobic-quote-favim_com-143354

It’s very important not to allow the media and Republicans to erase the fact that the attack on The Pulse was an attack on the rights of people in the LGBT community and their freedom to gather and support each other in public places.

A few more relevant links:

The Atlantic: The Extraordinarily Common Violence Against LGBT People in America.

Erasing 76 Crimes: 1000s who died in anti-gay, anti-trans attacks (updates).

The New York Times: Before Orlando, There Was New Orleans.

The Daily Beast: Drag Queen: Anti-Gay Terrorist Omar Mateen Was My Friend.

The Christian Science Monitor: For gay community, Orlando a sign threats remain amid growing tolerance.

The Desert Sun: Anti-gay community has blood on its hands: Column.

What stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.

 


Thursday Reads: A Sad Day

Split Sadness, Nicki Sands

Split Sadness, Nicki Sands

A Sorrowful Good Morning.

The top story this morning is the shocking mass murder of 9 people in a predominantly black church in Charleston, South Carolina yesterday. Authorities are calling it a hate crime. The shooter has not yet been caught, but surveillance photos of him and his care have been released.

Reuters reports: Manhunt follows attack on historic black South Carolina church.

Police in Charleston, South Carolina, were searching for a white gunman on Thursday who killed nine people in a historic African-American church, in an attack that police and the city’s mayor described as a hate crime.

The shooter, a 21-year-old white man with sandy blond hair, sat with churchgoers inside Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for about an hour on Wednesday before opening fire, Police Chief Gregory Mullen said.

The victims included Reverend Clementa Pinckney, the church’s pastor and a Democratic member of the state Senate, his cousin and fellow state senator, Kent Williams, told CNN.

The gunman is extremely dangerous, Mullen said, and police did not have a sense of where he might be.

“This is an unfathomable and unspeakable act by somebody filled with hate and with a deranged mind,” Charleston Mayor Joe Riley told reporters.

Six females and three males died in the attack, Mullen said.

AP photo: Police talk to a man outside the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina.

AP photo: Police talk to a man outside the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting, June 17, 2015, in Charleston, South Carolina.

More from The Washington Post: 9 dead in ‘hate crime’ shooting at historic African American church in Charleston.

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Police widened the search Thursday for a gunman who opened fire and killed nine people during a prayer service at a historic African American church in downtown Charleston, in one of the worst attacks on a place of worship in the United States in recent memory.

At least one other person was injured in the Wednesday night assault, which began about an hour after the assailant entered the church and observed the service, authorities said.

“We believe this is a hate crime; that is how we are investigating it,” Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen said at a dawn news conference.

What a horrible crime. I hope they catch this dangerous young man soon.

Officers in fatigues, some with dogs, said they were searching “near and far” for the gunman, described as a clean-shaven white male in his early 20s with sandy blond hair and a slight build. Police said he was wearing a gray sweatshirt, blue jeans and Timberland boots. He is believed to be the only shooter.

At a nearby Embassy Suites, which was serving as an informal headquarters for church members, people began sobbing and screaming as they learned details about what had happened.

“We just left speaking to members of the families,” Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley (D) told reporters overnight. “It was a heartbreaking scene I have never witnessed in my life before.” ….

Though authorities did not release the names of the victims, the church’s pastor, Clementa Pinckney, who is also a South Carolina state senator, was missing after the shooting, and some members of the congregation feared the worst. Indeed, House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford said Pinckney was among the dead, and friends started posting “RIP” condolences on social media.

Suspect police are searching for in connection with the shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina is seen from CCTV footage released by the Charleston Police Department June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Charleston Police Department

Suspect police are searching for in connection with the shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina is seen from CCTV footage released by the Charleston Police Department June 18, 2015. REUTERS/Charleston Police Department

From ABC News: Police Release Photos of Charleston, South Carolina, Church Shooting Suspect.

The suspect was described as approximately 5-foot-9, wearing a sweatshirt with distinctive markings and Timberland boots, police said. Joining the search were the FBI and state law enforcement.

Police also said the car he was driving had a “very distinctive” license plate. Officials would not elaborate on the make and model of the car.

“This is an all-hands-on deck effort with the community and law enforcement,” Mullen said.

Police said they had set up a tip line — 1-800-CALL-FBI — advised the public to be alert and said to call 911 and not approach.

How many more of these mass shootings do we need to have before we do something to control access to guns in this country? This time it’s a hate crime too. If this isn’t terrorism, what is?

Rev. Clementa Pinckney

Rev. Clementa Pinckney

According to The Chicago Tribune, Rev. Clementa Pinckney had sponsored a bill to have police officers wear body cameras.

Pinckney 41, was a married father of two who was elected to the state House at age 23, making him the youngest member of the House at the time.

“He never had anything bad to say about anybody, even when I thought he should,” Rutherford, D-Columbia, said. “He was always out doing work either for his parishioners or his constituents. He touched everybody.”

The attack came two months after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, Walter Scott, by a white police officer in neighboring North Charleston that sparked major protests and highlighted racial tensions in the area. The officer has been charged with murder, and the shooting prompted South Carolina lawmakers to push through a bill helping all police agencies in the state get body cameras. Pinckney was a major sponsor of that bill.

I’m feeling incredibly sad. I don’t know what else to say.

And now this from Raw Story: Shooter opens fire on church in Memphis hours after terrorist kills nine in Charleston.

During choir practice in Memphis, a gunman opened fire. A bullet remains lodged in the wall of the church, CBS reports.

As of press time, police are at the St. Matthew Missionary Baptist Church on Pendleton Street making inquiries and collecting information. WREG reports officers were called to the scene at 6:45 a.m. on Thursday.

No one was injured during the shooting.

News of the Memphis shooting spread quickly on social media this morning, in a country grappling with this Wednesday’s shooting by a white man in Charleston, South Carolina whoopened fire in a black church and killed nine people.

Read some of the tweets at the link. And please be careful in Memphis, JJ.

More News:

I’m going to give you the rest of the news in a link dump. I have to rush around today, because I’m getting ready to leave for Indiana tomorrow to celebrate my mother’s 90th birthday. Her birthday was June 10, but we’re having a big party on the 27th. I have to get out there early to help get things organized.

Hollywood Reporter: Donald Trump Campaign Offered Actors $50 to Cheer for Him at Presidential Announcement.

The New York Daily News: Five-decade study links pesticide DDT to breast cancer.

The Washington Post: The $10 bill will soon feature a woman. But the debate is only beginning.

A racial incident involving police and black teenagers in Cincinnati: What really happened at Fairfield pool?

The New York Times: Pope Francis, in Sweeping Encyclical, Calls for Swift Action on Climate Change.

The Guardian: Pope’s climate change encyclical tells rich nations: pay your debt to the poor.

The New Republic: The Last Time Conservatives Dismissed a Major Encyclical, It Ended Terribly for Them.

Salon: Fox News as we know it may be screwed: Roger Ailes’ stunning rebuke could spell the end. With Rupert Murdoch stepping aside, Roger Ailes will now report to Murdoch’s Fox-hating sons.

New York Magazine: Roger Ailes’s Demotion Signals Power Shift Within Murdoch Empire.

CNN: Brian Williams expected to stay at NBC (but he won’t be a news anchor).

WPTZ Channel 5: No evidence escaped prisoners have left area, police say. 600 officers still searching for David Sweat, Richard Matt.

The Washington Post: Why Roger Goodell might be in tough spot on Tom Brady suspension.

CBS News: American Enterprise Institute finds Wells Report ‘deeply flawed.’ They found no evidence that the Patriots’ footballs were even deflated.

What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.