Tuesday Reads: Old Man Trump’s Crazy Axios Interview

Good Morning!!

This morning I forced myself to watch and listen to Trump’s full interview with Jonathan Swan of Axios. It wasn’t easy. Of course it was characterized by Trump’s lying, obfuscating, and excuse-making, but oddly my biggest takeaway was that Trump truly sounds like a feeble old man now. His voice seems very different from the way he sounded during the 2016 campaign–it sounds weak and reedy. I think the difference after four years is really striking. Here’s the interview:

 

I found this 2013 article at NBC News about what happens to our voices as we age: The wavery, shaky ‘old person’s voice,’ explained.

“Voice can depend on general health. In general, we start seeing aging problems at age 65,” says Claudio Milstein, associate professor of surgery at Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. “The typical change as we get older, is that we get thin, breathy voices … [and] those are the characteristics that make it sound like a person has an old voice.”

Evidence confirms that voices do change with age. The vocal chords should vibrate between 90 and 230 times per minute, with young people experiencing the most movement and older people experiencing the least, explains Amee Shah, associate professor and director of the Research Laboratory in Speech Acoustics and Perception at Cleveland State University.

“In my lab we look at acoustic data because perception can be misleading and the hard numbers confirm it. It is true that as we age our voices change,” says Shah.

When we age our vocal chords weaken and become drier. Our respiratory systems and torsos change, too, with our lungs and chest cavities becoming more rigid, while our spines curve, causing us to stoop over (for some a little, others a lot). Weakened and dry vocal chords become stringy, which prevent normal vibration, causing higher pitched voices that sound thin. And the transformations in the respiratory system and chest mean we have less power behind our voices. Even the joints in our vocal chords can become arthritic, contributing to problems.

“The vocal folds are made up of muscle and collagen among other things. Just like other muscles thin out or atrophy, the vocal folds do as well,” says Gina Vess, a speech pathologist and director of the Clinical Voice Programs at Duke University Medical Center.

As for the content of the interview, I thought it was interesting that Swan began with a question about Trump’s commitment to Norman Vincent Peale’s positive thinking. Like his wealth, this was something that Trump got from his father, according to his niece Mary Trump.

From NPR on July 25: 2020 Crises Confront Trump With An Outage In The Power Of Positive Thinking.

“Affirm it, believe it, visualize it, and it will actualize itself.” Such mantras have characterized much of the Trump story from his childhood when he first absorbed it from the man who first spoke it, Norman Vincent Peale.

Peale was a minister and author much admired by Trump’s father. His most famous book, The Power of Positive Thinking, sold millions of copies in multiple languages and helped spawn a self-help movement and industry that has flourished ever since.

The Trumps attended Peale’s Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, and Peale officiated at the first of Donald Trump’s three marriage ceremonies.

Emulating Peale’s ferocious focus on attitude probably helped Trump plow ahead when his presidential prospects seemed hopeless just weeks before Election Day in 2016. The candidate appeared behind in polls and a now-infamous audio recording revealed his toxic comments about women.

But “there are no hopeless situations,” Peale had counseled, “only people who take hopeless attitudes.”

Obstacles, Peale taught, should never be a deterrent: “You will find they haven’t half the strength you think they have.”

Until this year, it is possible Trump took this literally. Arguably, he was getting away with it far more often than not.

He seemed to have been experimenting with this parallel universe approach all his life.

Trump is trying to apply the “power of positive thinking to the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s obviously not working for him, because a virus can’t be hoodwinked like people can.

So what happens when positive thinking fails? What happens when the power goes out? In common experience, when the power goes out, it gets darker.

Trump’s critics and opponents say that is exactly what we are seeing in America today.

Unable to conquer the combination of pandemic effects and civil unrest by the force of his will and a Twitter blizzard of “alternative facts,” Trump is now turning to a set of alternative powers.

Now Trump has turned to outright fascist tactics–sending federal agents into U.S. cities to put down protests against police brutality, trying to delegitimize the upcoming presidential election, working to suppress votes by destroying the Post Office and sabotaging the U.S. Census.

USA Today: ‘It is what it is,’ Trump says of rising coronavirus deaths as he insists outbreak is ‘under control.’

Axios National Political Correspondent Jonathan Swan began the interview by asking Trump if his sometimes “wishful thinking” and “salesmanship” was suitable in a crisis that has killed more than 155,000 people in the U.S.

Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon

“I think you have to have a positive outlook, otherwise you would have nothing,” Trump said. As he frequently has done in defending his record on the pandemic, the president pointed to the travel restrictions he imposed on China and Europe, arguing hundreds of thousands – a number he later put in the “millions” – more would have died without those actions. He added that even one death was too many.

“Those people that really understand it, that really understand it, they said it’s incredible the job that we’ve done,” Trump said.

“Who says that?” Swan asked, but Trump continued to talk about the China travel ban. Swan pointed out that the virus was already in the U.S. by the time Trump issued the ban.

Swan pressed Trump on whether his positive spin on outbreak – telling people the outbreak is under control and not to worry about wearing masks – could be putting people in danger by “giving them a false sense of security.” [….]

Trump responded to that criticism by saying he thinks the outbreak is “under control.” Swan asked how he could say that as the average number of daily deaths had climbed back up to over 1,000.

“They are dying, that’s true. And it is what it is,” Trump said. “But that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing everything we can. It’s under control, as much as you can control it.”

More Takeaways from the Axios interview:

Jonathan Ross at The Daily Beast: Trump Reveals Self-Delusion Over COVID Statistics in Mind-Blowing Argument With Reporter.

It’s sometimes hard to determine whether President Trump is being willfully misleading or if he truly believes what he’s saying. But an astonishing interview clip from Axios appears to show that Trump has genuinely managed to convince himself that his response to the coronavirus pandemic has been effective—because he only considers partial and deceptively flattering statistics to be true. Brandishing childishly simplistic, brightly colored COVID-19 graphs presumably provided to him by aides trying to keep him happy, Trump proudly tells Axios’ Jonathan Swan that the U.S. is “lower than the world,” without elaborating. When Swan looks at the chart, it becomes clear Trump is only considering death as a proportion of coronavirus cases—not as a proportion of population, which shows the U.S. is faring very badly. Trump snaps back: “You can’t do that.” Holding out his charts, he goes on: “You have to go by where… look, here is the United States… You have to go by the cases.” Asked why South Korea has lower deaths by population, Trump hints that he believes the country is faking its stats, without providing any evidence to support himself.

Axios: Trump stokes fears of election-night mail voting fraud.

President Trump raised new alarms about the alleged danger of election fraud in an interview with “Axios on HBO,” warning that “lots of things can happen” with voting by mail if the presidential race isn’t decided on election night.

Why it matters: Trump’s comments — which contradict the lengthy history and widespread use of mail-in voting — could be a preview of the claims he’ll make on election night to undermine trust in the results if he appears to be losing.

  • Election experts say there’s a good chance that the presidential race won’t be decided on election night, and could drag on for days, because so many people will vote by mail to protect themselves from the coronavirus.
  • One expert’s scenario suggests that the early returns could favor Trump because most Republicans will vote in person, but that the later returns will swing toward Joe Biden because many Democrats will vote by mail.

Axios: Trump declines to praise John Lewis, citing inauguration snub.

President Trump dismissed the legacy of the late Rep. John Lewis in an interview with “Axios on HBO,” saying only that Lewis made a “big mistake” by not coming to his inauguration.

The big picture: Trump’s comments were a glaring contrast with the praise Republicans and Democrats showered upon Lewis this week, and a default to personal grudges during a week of mourning for a civil rights hero….

When asked if he found Lewis’ life impressive, Trump responded, “He didn’t come to my inauguration. He didn’t come to my State of the Union speeches. And that’s OK. That’s his right. And, again, nobody has done more for Black Americans than I have.” [….]

Trump also declined to say whether he found Lewis personally impressive: “I can’t say one way or the other. I find a lot of people impressive. I find many people not impressive.”

There’s much more to the interview, which was a disaster for Trump. I have to say that Swan did an excellent job. If you can stand to, I hope you’ll watch the whole thing. It’s around 30 minutes long. I’d really like to know what you think about Trump’s old-man voice too.

Have a great day everyone! I’ll post some news links in the comment thread below.


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

Claude Monet, Water Lillies, 1916

Here we go folks. Trump is not just laying the groundwork for martial law; he now wants to delay the election.

Associated Press: Trump floats November election delay – but he can’t do that.

President Donald Trump is for the first time floating a “delay” to the Nov. 3 presidential election, as he makes unsubstantiated allegations that increased mail-in voting will result in fraud.

The dates of presidential elections — the Tuesday after the first Monday in November in every fourth year — are enshrined in federal law and would require an act of Congress to change. The Constitution makes no provisions for a delay to the Jan. 20, 2021 presidential inauguration.

Still, the mere suggestion of the delay was extraordinary in a nation that has held itself up as a beacon to the world for its history of peaceful transfer of power.

Trump tweeted Thursday: “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

CNN: Trump floats delaying election despite lack of authority to do so.

President Donald Trump explicitly floated delaying November’s presidential election on Thursday, lending extraordinary voice to persistent concerns that he would seek to circumvent voting in a contest where he currently trails his opponent by double digits.

Trump has no authority to delay an election, and the Constitution gives Congress the power to set the date for voting. Yet Trump’s message provides an opening — long feared by Democrats — that both he and his supporters might refuse to accept the results of the presidential results.

But in his tweet on Thursday morning — coming 96 days before the election and minutes after the federal government reported the worst economic contraction in recorded history — Trump offered the suggestion because he claimed without evidence the contest will be flawed.

Trump has previously sought to stoke fear and lay the groundwork to question the election’s results by promoting the idea that mail-in voting leads to widespread fraud and a “rigged” election. Democrats have warned that his efforts are meant both to suppress voting and to provide a reason to refuse to leave office should he lose.

Dove 1949 Pablo Picasso

Bill Barr appears to be planning an “October surprise.” The Washington Post: Barr says he won’t wait until after election to reveal Durham’s findings. Democrats fear a campaign-altering surprise.

Attorney General William P. Barr reiterated this week that he will not wait until after November’s election to release whatever U.S. Attorney John Durham finds in his examination of the FBI’s 2016 investigation into President Trump’s campaign, raising fears among Democrats that Barr and Durham could upend the presidential race with a late revelation.

Republicans have been eagerly awaiting Durham’s findings — hopeful that the prosecutor Barr handpicked last year to investigate the investigation of possible coordination between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia will validate their fierce criticisms of the bureau. Democrats, meanwhile, have worried that the Connecticut U.S. attorney is aiding a political stunt designed to undercut an investigation that dogged Trump’s presidency.

As the election draws near — and much of what Durham is doing remains a mystery — both sides have grown increasingly anxious, with liberals fretting over an October surprise, and Republicans wondering whether Durham’s work could push into the next administration.

Barr has repeatedly and stridently attacked the Russia investigation — saying that what happened to Trump was “one of the greatest travesties in American history” — while hinting vaguely that he is “troubled” by what he knows Durham has found. That has drawn accusations from Democrats and legal analysts that he is inappropriately talking about an ongoing case and prejudging its outcome.

“There’s a real danger, in fact an urgent threat, that anything the Department of Justice does will be timed to aid the president,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D- Conn.) said in an interview, adding, “Barr has proven ready, willing and able to distort, distract and deceive.”

I wonder if this news will affect Trump’s attitude about the pandemic?

Cain attended Trump’s hate rally in Tulsa and didn’t socially distance or wear a mask.

The Daily Beast: Herman Cain Dies After Month-Long Battle With Coronavirus.

Herman Cain, the one-time Republican presidential candidate and prominent businessman, has died a month after he was hospitalized with COVID-19.

“We knew when he was first hospitalized with COVID-19 that this was going to be a rough fight,” a post on his website said Thursday. “He had trouble breathing and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. We all prayed that the initial meds they gave him would get his breathing back to normal, but it became clear pretty quickly that he was in for a battle.”

The post said there were “hopeful indicators, including a mere five days ago when doctors told us they thought he would eventually recover, although it wouldn’t be quick.”

Vincent Van Gogh, Water Lillies 1887

However, he “never quite seemed to get to the point where the doctors could advance him to the recovery phase.” [….]

Cain was 74. He had been “pretty healthy” in recent years, the post said. However, he was considered at higher risk for severe coronavirus complications due to his history of cancer.

Whatever semblance of normal business remained on Capitol Hill during the COVID-19 outbreak was upended when U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Tyler Republican, disclosed Wednesday he tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

Several other members of Congress similarly tested positive to little fanfare over the last several months. But Gohmert’s diagnosis unleashed a commotion on Capitol Hill unlike anything the nearly two dozen staffers, consultants, lobbyists and members interviewed for this story could recall in recent memory.

Gohmert’s aversion to wearing masks and following other practices intended to mitigate the spread of the virus led many here to believe he might eventually contract the virus and potentially expose his colleagues. For months, members and staffers on the Hill watched with simmering fury as Gohmert and a handful of other Republican lawmakers made their rounds each day without masks.

“I just find it very disturbing that there are still many of my colleagues, especially in [the] Judiciary [Committee], that are just not following the attending physicians’ guidelines,” said U.S. Rep. Sylvia R. Garcia, a Houston Democrat who spent much of Tuesday in the same room as Gohmert in a hearing that included testimony from U.S. Attorney General William Barr.

“We’re going to have to find a way to make it a rule — and perhaps make it a rule with sanctions — because we’re spending too much time in Judiciary either arguing about it or talking about it, and we’re all on edge because they’re not wearing their masks,” she added. “I’m not sure why, but it’s just very disturbing.”

Water Lillies, Claude Monet

Gomert thinks wearing a mask is what made him sick.

“I can’t help but wonder if by keeping a mask on and keeping it in place, if I might have put some … of the virus on the mask and breathed it in. … But the reports of my demise are very premature,” he said. “If somebody feels strongly about everybody should wear a mask, then they shouldn’t be around people that don’t wear masks.”

What a moron.

California and Florida recorded record numbers of coronavirus deaths per day yesterday. CBS News:

Both California and Florida — the two states with the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country — set new records for single-day coronavirus deaths on Wednesday. The heartbreaking milestones come as the U.S. surpasses 150,000 deaths from the virus.

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday said 197 people in the state died from COVID-19 on Tuesday, the state’s highest in a single day. The state also reported 8,755 new positive cases.

According to Johns Hopkins University, California has the highest number of confirmed cases in the U.S., with at least 473,785. If California were its own country, it would have the fifth-highest number of cases behind only the U.S., Brazil, India and Russia….

Florida’s Department of Health confirmed Wednesday that 216 people died from the virus on Tuesday, a new single-day record for the state just one day after setting its previous record of 186 new deaths. An additional 9,448 people tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to at least 451,423 confirmed cases.

The Sunshine State surpassed New York — a former hot spot that reported six new COVID-19 fatalities Wednesday — in total confirmed cases Saturday. Many ICUs across the state are at or nearing capacity.

Picasso, Dove of Peace, 1949

I’ll end with this from The New York Times. John Lewis wrote an essay shortly before he died: Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation. Though I am gone, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.

While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity.

That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.

Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor. He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me. In those days, fear constrained us like an imaginary prison, and troubling thoughts of potential brutality committed for no understandable reason were the bars.

Though I was surrounded by two loving parents, plenty of brothers, sisters and cousins, their love could not protect me from the unholy oppression waiting just outside that family circle. Unchecked, unrestrained violence and government-sanctioned terror had the power to turn a simple stroll to the store for some Skittles or an innocent morning jog down a lonesome country road into a nightmare. If we are to survive as one unified nation, we must discover what so readily takes root in our hearts that could rob Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina of her brightest and best, shoot unwitting concertgoers in Las Vegas and choke to death the hopes and dreams of a gifted violinist like Elijah McClain.

Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.

Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.

Head over to the NYT to read the rest.

Take care Sky Dancers, and please give a shout out in the comments if you can. I love you all and don’t know how I could have made through the past four years without your voices.


Sad Caturday Reads: John Lewis Has Died

 Good Morning!!

Today is a sad day. Civil Rights leader and Congressman John Lewis has died.

Kathryn Q. Seelye at The New York Times: John Lewis, Towering Figure of Civil Rights Era, Dies at 80.

Representative John Lewis, a son of sharecroppers and an apostle of nonviolence who was bloodied at Selma and across the Jim Crow South in the historic struggle for racial equality, and who then carried a mantle of moral authority into Congress, died on Friday. He was 80.

His death was confirmed in a statement by Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives.

Mr. Lewis, of Georgia, announced on Dec. 29 that he had Stage 4 pancreatic cancer and vowed to fight it with the same passion with which he had battled racial injustice. “I have been in some kind of fight — for freedom, equality, basic human rights — for nearly my entire life,” he said.

On the front lines of the bloody campaign to end Jim Crow laws, with blows to his body and a fractured skull to prove it, Mr. Lewis was a valiant stalwart of the civil rights movement and the last surviving speaker at the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963.

More than a half-century later, after the killing in May of George Floyd, a Black man in police custody in Minneapolis, Mr. Lewis welcomed the resulting global demonstrations against police killings of Black people and, more broadly, against systemic racism in many corners of society. He saw those protests as a continuation of his life’s work, though his illness had left him to watch from the sidelines.

“It was very moving, very moving to see hundreds of thousands of people from all over America and around the world take to the streets — to speak up, to speak out, to get into what I call ‘good trouble,’” Mr. Lewis told “CBS This Morning” in June.

“This feels and looks so different,” he said of the Black Lives Matter movement, which drove the anti-racism demonstrations. “It is so much more massive and all inclusive.” He added, “There will be no turning back.”

More on Lewis’ history:

Mr. Lewis’s personal history paralleled that of the civil rights movement. He was among the original 13 Freedom Riders, the Black and white activists who challenged segregated interstate travel in the South in 1961. He was a founder and early leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which coordinated lunch-counter sit-ins. He helped organize the March on Washington, where Dr. King was the main speaker, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

John Lewis, foreground, being beaten by a state trooper during the voting rights march in Selma, Ala., on March 7, 1965.Credit…Associated Press

Mr. Lewis led demonstrations against racially segregated restrooms, hotels, restaurants, public parks and swimming pools, and he rose up against other indignities of second-class citizenship. At nearly every turn he was beaten, spat upon or burned with cigarettes. He was tormented by white mobs and absorbed body blows from law enforcement.

On March 7, 1965, he led one of the most famous marches in American history. In the vanguard of 600 people demanding the voting rights they had been denied, Mr. Lewis marched partway across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., into a waiting phalanx of state troopers in riot gear.

Ordered to disperse, the protesters silently stood their ground. The troopers responded with tear gas and bullwhips and rubber tubing wrapped in barbed wire. In the melee, known as Bloody Sunday, a trooper cracked Mr. Lewis’s skull with a billy club, knocking him to the ground, then hit him again when he tried to get up.

Televised images of the beatings of Mr. Lewis and scores of others outraged the nation and galvanized support for the Voting Rights Act, which President Lyndon B. Johnson presented to a joint session of Congress eight days later and signed into law on Aug. 6. A milestone in the struggle for civil rights, the law struck down the literacy tests that Black people had been compelled to take before they could register to vote and replaced segregationist voting registrars with federal registrars to ensure that Black people were no longer denied the ballot.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: John Lewis, civil rights hero, Georgia congressman, dies at 80.

Before the sit-ins and freedom rides, before nearly dying at the hand of an Alabama state trooper at the Edmund Pettus Bridge and before ascending to the top ranks of Democratic politics, John Lewis wanted to be a preacher.

As a young boy tending to his family’s chickens in rural Pike County, Ala., the future Georgia congressman would assemble the landfowl onto their roosts and recite Bible verses to them nearly every evening. He even conducted funeral services and the occasional baptism.

SNCC chairperson John Lewis at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Lewis’ central role in the civil rights movement put an end to his pulpit dreams. But his moral clarity and unwavering commitment to nonviolence and the “beloved community” – a democracy of racial, social and economic equality – infused every chapter of his life. It also earned him the respect of a nation that early-on feared his presence….

John Robert Lewis was born Feb. 21, 1940, to sharecroppers Willie Mae and Eddie Lewis in Troy, Ala., at at a time when the Deep South was the epicenter of legalized racism and discrimination. He was one of 10 children.

In that atmosphere, Bob Lewis, as he was called, was given an early and tough life lesson by his parents: there was little to be gained and much to lose in rebelling against the system.

“They would say, ‘That’s the way it is. Don’t get in trouble. Don’t get in the way,’” Lewis said later.

But the “Whites Only” signs he saw, from water fountains to the best seats in the movie theater, ignited a slow burn inside him. Even in places where no placards hung, like the voter registration office at the county courthouse, he understood that the unspoken apartheid rules applied. The impression that made on the young boy was so deep that Lewis seldom went to movie theaters even years later when he could have chosen any seat he wished.

Again there’s much more about Lewis’ life at the link.

The New York Times Editorial Board describes how as a young man, Lewis challenged the more moderate Civil Rights leaders of the day: The Radical Resistance of John Lewis. Willingness to risk his life for civil rights was essential to the quest for justice. On Lewis and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee:

These young demonstrators chose to underscore the barbaric nature of racism by placing themselves at risk of being shot, gassed or clubbed to death during protests that challenged the Southern practice of shutting Black people out of the polls and “white only” restaurants, and confining them to “colored only” seating on public conveyances. When arrested, S.N.C.C. members sometimes refused bail, dramatizing injustice and withholding financial support from a racist criminal justice system.

This young cohort conspicuously ignored members of the civil rights establishment who urged them to patiently pursue remedies through the courts. Among the out-of-touch elder statesmen was the distinguished civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall, who was on the verge of becoming the nation’s first Black Supreme Court justice when he argued that young activists were wrong to continue the dangerous Freedom Rides of early 1961, in which interracial groups rode buses into the Deep South to test a Supreme Court ruling that had outlawed segregation in interstate transport.

Mr. Marshall condemned the Freedom Rides as a wasted effort that would only get people killed. But in the mind of Mr. Lewis, the depredations that Black Americans were experiencing at the time were too pressing a matter to be left to a slow judicial process and a handful of attorneys in a closed courtroom. By attacking Jim Crow publicly in the heart of the Deep South, the young activists in particular were animating a broad mass movement in a bid to awaken Americans generally to the inhumanity of Southern apartheid. Mr. Lewis came away from the encounter with Mr. Marshall understanding that the mass revolt brewing in the South was as much a battle against the complacency of the civil rights establishment as against racism itself.

By his early 20s, Mr. Lewis had embraced a form of nonviolent protest grounded in the principle of “redemptive suffering”— a term he learned from the Rev. James Lawson, who had studied the style of nonviolent resistance that the Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi had put into play during British colonial rule. The principle reminded Mr. Lewis of his religious upbringing and of a prayer his mother had often recited.

In his memoir “Walking With the Wind,” written with Michael D’Orso, Mr. Lewis explains that there was “something in the very essence of anguish that is liberating, cleansing, redemptive,” adding that suffering “touches and changes those around us as well. It opens us and those around us to a force beyond ourselves, a force that is right and moral, the force of righteous truth that is at the basis of human conscience.”

The essence of the nonviolent life, he wrote, is the capacity to forgive — “even as a person is cursing you to your face, even as he is spitting on you, or pushing a lit cigarette into your neck” — and to understand that your attacker is as much a victim as you are. At bottom, this philosophy rested upon the belief that people of good will — “the Beloved Community,” as Mr. Lewis called them — would rouse themselves to combat evil and injustice.

This is a very sad day in America. We need young leaders like John Lewis now, as with every day that passes we move closer to the death of American democracy.


Rainy Day Monday Reads

John Lewis at Black Lives Matter Plaza - Democratic Underground

Good Day From Soggy New Orleans !

Tropical Storm Cristobal has left the area technically but we’re still getting plenty of rain and street flooding!  Just another good reason to stay my fat ass home and find us some good reads today.

From CNN and Chandelise Duster: “Civil rights icon John Lewis calls Black Lives Matter mural ‘a powerful work of art’ during visit with DC mayor”.

In a series of photos posted on Twitter by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser on Sunday, the Georgia Democrat is seen standing next to the mayor wearing a mask on the giant mural, which spans two blocks of 16th Street, a central axis that leads southward straight to the White House.

“We’ve walked this path before, and will continue marching on, hand in dihand, elevating our voices, until justice and peace prevail,” Bowser tweeted. “Thank you for joining me at Black Lives Matter Plaza, in front of the White House, @repjohnlewis.”

I was moved by this picture of 80 year old Civil Rights Legend Representative John Lewis standing shoulder-to-shoulder at Black Lives Matter Plaza with DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. Every time I feel like this country is on a road to no where and re-fighting the same fights with little result, Rep. Lewis pops up and reminds me I haven’t been at it long enough to be bone tired yet.

He’s a beacon of light in a long endless night that I wanted ended with an illegitimate grifting narcissistic White House Usurper in Federal Prison along with all of his evil enablers.

This interview with Rep. Lewis is from New York Magazine and Zak Cheney-Rice.

We have, in a lot of the cities where this unrest is happening today, progressive mayors, progressive city councils, and yet law-enforcement violence occurs regardless of who’s in office. I just wonder, Where should concerned Americans be directing their energy when voting the right people, or who they think are the right people, into office doesn’t seem to be solving the problem?
We must never ever give up, or give in, or throw in the towel. We must continue to press on! And be prepared to do what we can to help educate people, to motivate people, to inspire people to stay engaged, to stay involved, and to not lose their sense of hope. We must continue to say we’re one people. We’re one family. We all live in the same house. Not just an American house but the world house. As Dr. King said over and over again, “We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters. If not, we will perish as fools.”

Do you have any advice or thoughts for communities that are looking for ways to reform how policing is done where they live?
It is my belief that we must work on a national level as well as a local level. That we need to humanize police forces, humanize the people, whoever is in charge of the police department at the local level but also at the national level.

Can you tell me what you mean by “humanize”? Do you mean we need to understand that they are humans too?
Well, I mean that we all are human beings, and we must be treated like human beings and respect the dignity and the way of each other. What happened in Atlanta with the officer beating up two young students was uncalled for. And I think the mayor and the police chief did the right thing, and they didn’t wait — they did it right on the spot. Of course, officers of the law didn’t have a right to abuse other people’s right. You have to be human.

Do you think there are major philosophical differences between the way that your generation viewed the struggle for civil rights and the way today’s younger generation views it?
Well, I wouldn’t say there are major differences. I think my generation of young people was greatly influenced by the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr. and by individuals like James Lawson. And we dedicated ourselves to creating what we called the loving community. We wanted to do what we called “redeem the soul of America.” We wanted to save America from herself.

Read the rest of the interview at the link.  This interview is also about  “release of Good Trouble, a documentary about his life and work.”

Protesting never comes easy. Many folks believe that the act of protest is revolutionary and leads to violence and property destruction. It is quite American and Constitutional and should lead to peaceful change. There are many who do not want that.

From the CBS affiliate in Richmond, VA: “‘KKK President’ arrested for hitting protester with his truck
A hate crime investigation is underway.”

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — The Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney said a hate crime investigation was underway against the self-proclaimed president of the Virginia KKK.

Harry Rogers appeared in Henrico Court Monday morning where he agreed to receive a court-appointed attorney.

Rogers, 36, of Hanover, was formally charged with attempted malicious wounding (felony), destruction of property (felony), and assault and battery (misdemeanor) after police said he drove his pickup truck into a group of protesters Sunday in Lakeside.

The destruction of property charged stemmed from a bicycle damaged during the ordeal.

A Henrico judge denied Rogers’ bond during Monday’s hearing.

Outpouring of support follows Rep. John Lewis' cancer diagnosis ...

Here’s more on “The Disturbing Appeal of Boogaloo Violence to Military Men” from Daily Beast.  “The fringe movement is the latest in a long series of paramilitary scenes to court U.S. soldiers.” as reported by Kelly Weill.  Here’s your outside agitators.

Fantasies of a violent tipping point feature prominently in the Boogaloo scene, which—while relatively new and not an ideological monolith—generally trends right-wing or fringe libertarian, with many of its memes and aesthetic markers borrowed from more explicitly racist alt-right and 4chan culture. The movement is broadly anti-government, and talks often of sparking a civil war.

In the midst of that are current and former service members talking about waging war on U.S. soil. Participation by military members in an anti-government movement might seem counterintuitive on its face, but the Boogaloo movement is only the latest in a long series of fringe paramilitary scenes that court American troops.

Parshall, 35; Andrew Lynam, 23; and William Loomis, 40, were arrested at a Black Lives Matter protest in Las Vegas. But the trio weren’t there to protest the death of George Floyd, prosecutors say. Instead, they allegedly planned to throw Molotov cocktails and incite violence, in the hopes of sparking greater unrest.

Their Las Vegas cell came under investigation in April, when one of Parshall and Lynam’s associates contacted the FBI about what that person claimed was the two men’s interest in conducting a terror attack, prosecutors said. The person agreed to become a confidential informant in the group, and gathered with members as they allegedly discussed plots to commit violence and overthrow the government.

The trio allegedly went heavily armed to a “re-open” rally in Las Vegas—one of the largely conservative protests attended by people who wanted to end COVID-19 business closures. There, they allegedly talked of targeting government infrastructure, like a ranger station at a nearby lake.

During later meetings, they allegedly planned to blow up a power station and throw smoke bombs at a different re-open protest. (They allegedly went to the protest but got cold feet when they saw cops watching them.) Finally, on May 30, they allegedly attended the Black Lives Matter protest with Molotov cocktails and a plot to spark chaos. The FBI arrested all three on the spot.

John Lewis (1940- ) •

And from Seattle: “Man drives into Seattle George Floyd protest, shoots one protester.A 27-year-old man was taken to hospital after being shot, police said.

Video shared on Twitter by a bystander at the incident showed a man emerging from a vehicle that appeared to have struck a barricade at an intersection. The driver appeared to be carrying a gun in one hand as he ran into the crowd. The sound of what appeared to be gunshots could be heard on video of the incident from the scene.

One witness told NBC News’ local affiliate KING that the victim had tried to stop the vehicle from driving into the crowd before the driver shot him. NBC News was not able to confirm this account.

Police later tried to disperse the protesters and said some people had thrown projectiles and fireworks at officers, the department said on Twitter. Police said some demonstrators had shone green lasers in officers’ eyes.

Police said they were responding with pepper spray and blast balls. Police also authorized the use of tear gas.

We continue to find completely unacceptable behavior in many many police forces as they seem completely at a loss to deal with crowds of mostly peaceful protestors.

A NYT editor has been fired for publishing the authoritarian, hateful Op Ed written by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton who truly is represents the worst of American vicissitudes from the Trumpist Regime. This is from Vox and David Roberts:  “The Tom Cotton op-ed affair shows why the media must defend America’s values.  It cannot remain neutral when those values are under threat from racialized authoritarianism.”

Last week, the New York Times editorial page published an op-ed by Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton calling for a wide-scale military crackdown on protests against police brutality.

It immediately caused an uproar both inside and outside the Times, as covered in the Times itself, the Washington PostSlate, and here at Vox, by my colleague Zack Beauchamp. That was followed by a plaintive editorial from the head of the Times opinion page, James Bennet, attempting to explain the decision to run the piece, then an official apology from Times editors, and then, on Sunday, Bennet’s resignation.

In his excellent explainer on what happened and the history of tensions between the Times opinion and news sides, Beauchamp asks some questions that I want to pull out and mull over. They get at a core dilemma facing political media in the Trump era.

“Does every idea that’s popular in power, no matter how poorly considered, deserve some kind of respectful airing in mainstream publications?” he asks. “Or are there boundaries, both of quality of argument and moral decency, where editors need to draw the line — especially in the Trump era?”

There clearly are boundaries. The Times would not publish an op-ed advocating for a return to chattel slavery in the US. Presumably no mainstream US publication would. If it was found that a US senator (or a group of them) believed in the return of slavery, the Times would not give the senator space to make his casein the op-ed section. It would assign reporters to cover the story, like a scandal.

That slavery is abhorrent is taken as a background assumption informing coverage, not a subject of legitimate debate in which both sides deserve a hearing.

So the question is where are the boundaries and, just as importantly, who draws them? Who decides what is in bounds and out of bounds? Is it the press’s job to draw those lines and defend those boundaries?

These questions are at the heart of the Cotton affair, and they have haunted all of journalism since Donald Trump became president.

WeLoveYamiche Trends After Donald Trump Accuses Reporter of Asking ...

In deed, most Journalists seem at a loss still about what do about the radicalized authoritarianism of the Trumpist Regime.  All except Yamiche Alcindor of PBS who is another Beacon of hope, truth and reason in these dark days.  From the UK Independent: “Trump clashes with black female reporter again who asks about unemployment rates: ‘You’re something’. Reporter asked about rising minority unemployment despite overall declining joblessness as president sat down to sign a bill. He was not amused.”

He ignored a question about George Floyd, a black man killed by white police officers in Minneapolis last week. And he grew agitated with Ms Alcindor when she asked how, despite lower overall unemployment, rising joblessness among African-Americans and Asian-Americans could be considered positives.

“Excuse me, I’d like to sign this bill,” Mr Trump said before telling Ms Alcindor: “You are something.”

She soon defended herself on Twitter, calling her’s a “critical question.”

Yes. She is something!  She is a journalist we should lift up as some one who does her job extremely well. She asks the tough and right questions and does it with grace.

Rep. John Lewis remembers Selma, 51 years later

So, there is a discussion about “defunding” the police which aims to completely redesign police departments. Christy E. Lopez from WAPO writes “Defund the police? Here’s what that really means” in an Op Ed today.

Be not afraid. “Defunding the police” is not as scary (or even as radical) as it sounds, and engaging on this topic is necessary if we are going to achieve the kind of public safety we need. During my 25 years dedicated to police reform, including in places such as Ferguson, Mo., New Orleans and Chicago, it has become clear to me that “reform” is not enough. Making sure that police follow the rule of law is not enough. Even changing the laws is not enough.

To fix policing, we must first recognize how much we have come to over-rely on law enforcement. We turn to the police in situations where years of experience and common sense tell us that their involvement is unnecessary, and can make things worse. We ask police to take accident reports, respond to people who have overdosed and arrest, rather than cite, people who might have intentionally or not passed a counterfeit $20 bill. We call police to roust homeless people from corners and doorsteps, resolve verbal squabbles between family members and strangers alike, and arrest children for behavior that once would have been handled as a school disciplinary issue.

Police themselves often complain about having to “do too much,” including handling social problems for which they are ill-equipped. Some have been vocal about the need to decriminalize social problems and take police out of the equation. It is clear that we must reimagine the role they play in public safety.

So, we continue to have a lot of listening, discussing, and marching to do.

I hope every on has a good week!  Be kind and gentle with yourself and others and stay safe!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Tuesday Reads: Civil Rights Legend vs. Shameless Racist Demagogue? No Contest.

John Lewis marching from Selma to Montgomery with Dr. Martin Luther King and other Civil Rights leaders.

John Lewis (right) marching from Selma to Montgomery with Dr. Martin Luther King and other Civil Rights leaders.

Good Morning!!

As we approach the dark day when tRump will take the oath of office, my feeling of living in an apocalyptic scifi novel grows ever stronger. How can this be happening?

This morning marks day 4 of tRump’s attacks on civil rights hero and member of Congress John Lewis; and over in Russia, Vladimir Putin went on state TV to defend his puppet from American criticism

Bloomberg: Putin Says Doesn’t Believe Trump Met Prostitutes in Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he doesn’t believe that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump met with prostitutes in Russia, calling the accusations part of a campaign to undermine the election result.

Unsubstantiated allegations made against Trump are “obvious fabrications,” Putin told reporters in the Kremlin on Tuesday. “People who order fakes of the type now circulating against the U.S. president-elect, who concoct them and use them in a political battle, are worse than prostitutes because they don’t have any moral boundaries at all,” he said.

Putin said that Trump wasn’t a politician when he visited Moscow in the past and Russian officials weren’t aware that he held any political ambitions. It’s “complete nonsense” to believe that Russian security services “chase after every American billionaire,” he said.

The Kremlin has denied that it holds any compromising material on Trump after U.S. intelligence officials informed the president-elect about unsubstantiated reports that Russia had compiled potentially damaging personal information on him….

Trump is “a grown man, and secondly he’s someone who has been involved with beauty contests for many years and has met the most beautiful women in the world,” Putin said. “I find it hard to believe that he rushed to some hotel to meet girls of loose morals, although ours are undoubtedly the best in the world.”c

Well I guess that settle that then . . . not. Does Putin actually think he’s helping tRump or is he trying to undermine his chosen POTUS? Who knows? Can anyone recall a foreign dictator defending an U.S. president-elect before?

20 May 1961, Montgomery, AL, wo battered Freedom Riders, John Lewis (left) and James Zwerg (right) stand together after being attacked and beaten by pro-segregationists in Montgomery, Alabama. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

20 May 1961, Montgomery, AL, two battered Freedom Riders, John Lewis (left) and James Zwerg (right) stand together after being attacked and beaten by pro-segregationists in Montgomery, Alabama. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Putin may be defending tRump, but he has already rejected the president-elect’s offer to remove sanctions on Russia in return for reductions in their nuclear arsenal.  Radio Free Europe reports:

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters at the United Nations in New York on January 16 that Moscow was willing to talk to the United States about nuclear disarmament, but it was not going to discuss arms control as part of a deal to lift sanctions.

“Sanctions are not a subject for dialogue,” Ryabkov said. “We have never discussed any criteria for the listing of sanctions and are not doing it now. All these sanctions were introduced under contrived and illegitimate pretexts.”

Ryabkov said Russia was open to discussion on the subject of curbing nuclear arms, but stressed that Moscow would not make concessions on arms in exchange for the United States lifting sanctions.

“Without dialogue nothing will happen at all, but it would be too naive to think Moscow would change its [defense posture] for that or other reasons,” Ryabkov said.

Meanwhile back in the USA, tRump appears to be the least popular president-elect in history, according to two new polls.

CNN: CNN/ORC Poll: Confidence drops in Trump transition.

Donald Trump will become president Friday with an approval rating of just 40%, according to a new CNN/ORC Poll, the lowest of any recent president and 44 points below that of President Barack Obama, the 44th president.

Following a tumultuous transition period, approval ratings for Trump’s handling of the transition are more than 20 points below those for any of his three most recent predecessors. Obama took the oath in 2009 with an 84% approval rating, 67% approved of Clinton’s transition as of late December 1992 and 61% approved of George W. Bush’s transition just before he took office in January 2001.

Trump’s wobbly handling of the presidential transition has left most Americans with growing doubts that the President-elect will be able to handle the job. About 53% say Trump’s statements and actions since Election Day have made them less confident in his ability to handle the presidency, and the public is split evenly on whether Trump will be a good or poor president (48% on each side).

The President-elect dismissed the poll findings on Twitter: “The same people who did the phony election polls, and were so wrong, are now doing approval rating polls. They are rigged just like before.”

John Lewis, beaten during Selma to Montgomery march.

John Lewis, beaten during Selma to Montgomery march.

The Washington Post: Here’s just how brutal Donald Trump’s pre-inauguration poll numbers are, in context.

Donald Trump will take the oath of office as the most unpopular president in at least four decades, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Just 40 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of Trump right now. A majority — 54 percent — have an unfavorable one.

And that probably undersells just how historically unpopular our new president is right now. The only reason we can’t go back further than four decades is because we simply don’t have the data; polls weren’t as plentiful back then.

The data we do have suggest most every non-Trump president experienced an outpouring of goodwill in the two months between their election and their swearing in. Trump just hasn’t gotten it.

The pre-inauguration favorable numbers for the six presidents to come before him, in fact, were all significantly higher than their share of the popular vote. For Obama, it was 26 points higher (79 percent favorable versus 53 percent of the vote). Every other recent president except Ronald Reagan was at least double-digits higher — as much as 28 points for Jimmy Carter. (Reagan’s was 7 points higher.)

The favorable rating for Trump, meanwhile, is actually six points below his vote share (46 percent).

More results from the poll at the WaPo link above.

Another shot of John Lewis during the Selma to Montgomery march.

Another shot of John Lewis during the Selma to Montgomery march.

The New York Daily News reports that scalpers are losing money on Inauguration tickets.

Donald Trump will take office as one of the most unpopular President-elects in recent history — and even scalpers may feel the pain.

Some flippers, who acquired tickets to Trump’s inauguration with the intent of reselling them on the secondary market, are striking out in their efforts to peddle them and are now looking at some relatively “yuge” losses.

Yossi Rosenberg, 36, of upper Manhattan, told the Daily News he bought a pair of tickets to Friday’s Washington, D.C. event from a woman in Westchester County for $700, thinking he could flip them for at least twice as much.

“Nobody wants to buy them,” Rosenberg told The News. “It looks like I’m stuck with them, I might even have to go.”

As tRump would say, “Sad.”

It’s difficult to see how tRump’s attacks on John Lewis could be helping him. Petula Dvorak at The Washington Post: Where was Donald Trump when John Lewis was fighting for civil rights? Let’s compare.

We can start in 1960, when Trump was 14 and Lewis was 20. They both clearly showed their leadership potential early.

At New York Military Academy in Cornwall, N.Y., Donald Trump won a “neatness and order medal.”

That same year, John Lewis became one of the original 13 Freedom Riders, defying laws that prohibited blacks and whites from sitting next to each other on public transportation, some people then started to use other ways as cars or a scooter to travel different places.

Three years later in 1963, man-of-action Trump led his private school’s white-gloved drill team in the Columbus Day parade in New York. But he was also removed from that drill team command, classmates said, because he hazed younger students.

That same year, Lewis helped organize the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and spoke alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

In 1965, Trump got his second Vietnam draft deferment as a Fordham University student.

In 1965, on a day that became known as Bloody Sunday, Lewis helped lead 600 marchers across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. When the marchers stopped to pray, they were tear-gassed and beaten by troopers. Lewis’s skull was fractured.

In 1973, Trump’s actions got him sued by the Department of Justice. He was managing his dad’s properties and wouldn’t rent apartments to African Americans. The Trumps eventually settled the lawsuit without any admission of wrongdoing.

That same year, John Lewis was running the Voter Education Project, which pushed to register minority voters across the country.

John Lewis, with bandaged head sits next to MLK during press briefing.

John Lewis, with bandaged head sits next to MLK during press briefing.

Trump owned the ’80s, right? His actions that decade?

In 1981, Trump bought a 14-story building facing New York City’s Central Park and began a campaign to drive out the rent-stabilized tenants so he could begin gutting and renovating the building. According to lawsuits, Trump cut heat and water to the remaining tenants.

In 1981, John Lewis was elected to the Atlanta City Council.

In 1987, Trump’s book, “The Art of the Deal,” became a bestseller. Action? He didn’t even write it; talk about talk talk talk. And his ghostwriter, Tony Schwartz, now regrets the picture he painted of Trump in that book.

In 1987, Lewis was elected to Congress.

The truth is that tRump likely had no idea who John Lewis was; and after someone told him he still didn’t feel any shame. Psychopaths don’t feel shame like normal people do.

At The National Memo, Froma Harrop has some good advice for the media: treat him like a toddler. Too bad they probably won’t listen.

Dog trainers have long advised owners against reacting to their pets’ attention-seeking antics — the barking, jumping and pushiness.

“Dog owners often inadvertently reinforce (reward) these behaviors by interacting with the dog,” writes veterinary behaviorist Lisa Radosta. “Any attention can be regarded as a reward, even yelling.”

Similar advice is doled to parents of whining, tantrum-throwing toddlers. Many in the media could use it, as well. All that sputtering over Donald Trump’s personal taunts and stupid tweets is exactly what the president-elect seeks. Turn away. Turn away.

If Trump won’t take questions from serious journalists at a news conference, it’s not a news conference. Reporters are merely playing “straight man” on a reality TV show — complete with paid hecklers and promotions for Trump properties. They don’t have to be there.

Their job is to cover what Trump does, which includes his appointments and ties to foreign adversaries. If Trump publicly insults U.S. or foreign leaders, that’s still news. If he insults newspeople, so what?

Unfortunately, most in the “thin skinned” media will probably be more upset by his attacks on them than by his policies. On related article checkout personal injury lawyers melbourne.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a great Tuesday!