Friday Reads: War on Everyone

Good Afternoon!

It’s difficult to keep up.  I try to set aside interesting items and with in a few minute or hours they are dated!  It’s also challenging to keep up with the number of things being passed, signed, and appointed that are hostile to modernity,women, immigrants, civil rights, and science and knowledge in general.  Today’s list includes removing Consent Degrees that reform urban police departments, taking funds from all planned parenthood activities, and letting churches become SuperPacs. Oh, and White Nationalists have the sads about Steve Bannon.

Some of the  interesting illustrations today come from a Rev. Branford Clarke’s illustration in the 1926 book Klansmen: Guardians of Liberty and another propaganda book called Heroes of the Fiery Cross.  I thought it fitting we remind people of what kind of evil can lurk behind religious extremists.  The first set of illustrations is aimed directly at Catholicism which shows that there’s an internecine battle between Christian brands .

I’ve also included a Dr. Seuss cartoon from a similar period sending up the idea of  the “America First” movement from the WW2 period.  I think you can see today’s Deplorables are definitely throwbacks from the darkest parts of our country’s history. Notice the anti-immigrant movement at that time concentrated on sorting out right and wrong type Europeans around WW2.  It was the Chinese prior to that.  Some of these illustrations are propaganda. Others are political cartoons of the period fighting the same sentiments we see today.

Betsy DeVos is a total nutter.  So, why wouldn’t she bring on people who are just like her. This is from ProPublica.  “DeVos Pick to Head Civil Rights Office Once Said She Faced Discrimination for Being White. Candice Jackson’s intellectual journey raises questions about how actively she will investigate allegations of unfair treatment of minorities and women.”   I really have a difficult time understanding how upper middle class white people think they’re oppressed by minorities.

The new acting head of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights once complained that she experienced discrimination because she is white.

As an undergraduate studying calculus at Stanford University in the mid-1990s, Candice Jackson “gravitated” toward a section of the class that provided students with extra help on challenging problems, she wrote in a student publication. Then she learned that the section was reserved for minority students.

“I am especially disappointed that the University encourages these and other discriminatory programs,” she wrote in the Stanford Review. “We need to allow each person to define his or her own achievements instead of assuming competence or incompetence based on race.”

Although her limited background in civil rights law makes it difficult to infer her positions on specific issues, Jackson’s writings during and after college suggest she’s likely to steer one of the Education Department’s most important — and controversial — branches in a different direction than her predecessors. A longtime anti-Clinton activistand an outspoken conservative-turned-libertarian, she has denounced feminism and race-based preferences. She’s also written favorably about, and helped edit a book by, an economist who decried both compulsory education and the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Jackson’s inexperience, along with speculation that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will roll back civil rights enforcement, lead some observers to wonder whether Jackson, like several other Trump administration appointees, lacks sympathy for the traditional mission of the office she’s been chosen to lead.

Her appointment “doesn’t leave me with a feeling of confidence with where the administration might be going,” said Theodore Shaw, director of the Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina School of Law, who led Barack Obama’s transition team for civil rights at the Department of Justice.

The attack on Women and their Healthcare continues with abandon.

There was a stealth signing of an anti-Planned Parenthood law.  The Hyde Amendment has longed banned Federal Funds from supporting any abortion services but many in the religious nut crowd believe birth control is abortion and follow the lies of extremists who insist taxpayer money supports the procedure.

President Donald Trump privately signed a bill on Thursday that allows states to withhold federal money from organizations that provide abortion services, including Planned Parenthood, a group frequently targeted by Republicans.

The bill, which the usually camera-friendly President signed without any media present, reverses an Obama-era regulation that prohibited states from withholding money from facilities that perform abortions, arguing that many of these facilities also provide other family planning and medical services.

The bulk of federal money Planned Parenthood receives, though, goes toward preventive health care, birth control, pregnancy tests and other women’s health services. Federal law prohibits taxpayer dollars from funding abortions and Planned Parenthood says 3% of the services it provides are abortions

The signing comes weeks after Vice President Mike Pence, a social conservative who regularly touts his anti-abortion stances, cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate after two Republicans opposed the measure.

“(Women’s) worst fears are now coming true. We are facing the worst political attack on women’s health in a generation as lawmakers have spent the past three months trading away women’s health and rights at every turn,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, said in a statement.

So far, we’ve seen no camera opportunities for  signings for the Planned Parenthood funding freeze, undermining gun background checks by allowing the mentally ill easy access, removing transgender protections and a Muslim Ban.  We’re also seeing a tax bill that includes a provision to let churches support political candidates. This is a move that most certainly runs afoul of the First Amendment but the religious nuts in this country don’t appear to care about anything but installing christofascism on us.

As Republicans struggle to craft a sweeping tax package — a process already rife with political land mines — they are preparing to add another volatile element to the mix: a provision that would end a six-decade-old ban on churches and other tax-exempt organizations supporting political candidates.

The repeal of the “Johnson amendment” is being written into tax legislation developed in the House of Representatives, according to aides. President Trump has vowed to “totally destroy” the provision at the behest of evangelical Christians who helped elect him.

The inclusion of the repeal in broader tax legislation could bolster its chances. A stand-alone bill would almost certainly face a filibuster in the Senate, where opponents fear the measure would effectively turn churches into super PACS.

There is some indication that Bannon and the out-of-the-linen-closet White Nationalists are despairing of Trump’s latest moves and forays into conventional NeoCon policies.

Politico has spoken with several nationalist Trump supporters who are already feeling disillusioned with what they’ve seen from the president, especially in the wake of former Breitbart editor Steve Bannon’s demotion from the National Security Council.

“It was like, here’s the chance to do something different — and that’s why people’s hopes are dashed,” Lee Stranahan, a former Breitbart News editor, tells Politico. “There was always the question of, ‘Did he really believe this stuff?’ Apparently the answer is, ‘Not as much as you’d like.’”

There is a lot of scuttlebutt and gossip around Bannon these days.  This is from the Politico bit on Bannon and his merry band of Bigots.  Remember, nutter Rebekah Mercer loves her some Bannon.  Will they go rogue?

Meanwhile, Bannon could launder more salacious hits through the tabloids. “You go National Enquirer on them,” said blogger Mike Cernovich, a self-described student of Bannon’s work who said he has discussed the eventuality of Bannon’s firing with people close to him.

“There’s sex scandals people are sitting on,” Cernovich said. “All the gossip and drama and stuff that might be a little more personal is going to get leaked.”

Trump mega-donor Rebekah Mercer, Bannon’s chief patron, spent much of Friday at the offices of Cambridge Analytica — a data firm in which her family is invested and on whose board Bannon sat before joining the White House — exploring potential gigs for Bannon should he be fired, according to The New York Times.

Cernovich speculated that Bannon could, with the help of Cambridge Analytica’s data, move from the personal to the political by identifying his enemies’ most vulnerable allies in Congress and encouraging challengers to run for their seats. “There will be big primary campaigns against them,” Cernovich said. “It will be Eric Cantor-style warfare.”

Several people familiar with Bannon’s modus operandi said he would be unlikely to take on Trump directly, preferring instead to shift blame toward others while leaving the door open to a rapprochement with the president — at least at first.

“In Steve’s dream scenario, he would depart, things would fall apart even more so, and Trump would beg him to come back to fix it,” Bardella said.

Otherwise, Trump could eventually find himself directly in Bannon’s cross hairs, some said.

“We would see House and Senate races in 2018 to, you know, go after Trump’s agenda,” said internet troll Charles Johnson, an ally of Bannon who worked for him at Breitbart. “Everything would slow down. His presidency would essentially be over. Bannon is more than just a man. He is honestly something of an idea because he represents something that both the establishment and the left-wing media hate.”

Some analysts believe that the departure of Bannon would create virtual war on Trump’s blue collar supporters. 

If Bannon leaves the White House, his departure might be viewed as the end of Trump as a defender of blue-collar Americans. In fact, though, we are dealing more in perceptions than in reality. Behind the mask, Trump never really showed serious interest in transforming the basic Republican agenda to help struggling Americans.

On Wednesday, Trump reversed himself on his tough rhetoric about China when he said that he no longer planned to get rid of the Export-Import Bank. The GOP plan to replace Obamacare, which has failed to gain enough votes to pass the House, would take away benefits from some of Trump’s lower income supporters. And his proposed budget also would have drawbacks for parts of Trump’s base.
In many of the rural areas that voted for Trump, residents would experience cuts to senior centers, after-school programs, farm services and infrastructure spending for towns and more.
Trump’s plans to weaken government regulation — although a boon to financial services and fossil fuel executives — also may not help his base. The benefits might “trickle down,” but right now the verdict is out.
Trump promised to break with traditional approaches to politics so that he could uplift the “forgotten” Americans suffering from the elimination of manufacturing jobs and rising inequality.
Trump promised to break with traditional approaches to politics so that he could uplift the “forgotten” Americans suffering from the elimination of manufacturing jobs and rising inequality. But, in fact, he’s behaving like a classic Republican politician.
Where would we be on this topic without a discussion of that sly old KKK coot AG Jeff Sessions who wants to improve police morale by removing consent degrees.  Set those downtrodden urban police officers free!!

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday that consent decrees between the federal government and local police departments on reforming police activities can lower police morale.

Sessions’ comments come after he ordered the Justice Department earlier this month to review all existing consent decrees. The decrees are formal agreements between the federal government and local police departments overseen by a federal court.

Sessions made comments on “The Howie Carr Show,” a New England-based conservative radio program.

“I do share your concern that these investigations and consent decrees have the, can turn bad. They can reduce morale of the police officers,” Sessions said. “They can push back against being out on the street in a proactive way. You know New York has proven community-based policing, this CompStat plan, the broken windows, where you’re actually arresting even people for smaller crimes — those small crimes turn into violence and death and shootings if police aren’t out there.”

“So every place these decrees, and as you’ve mentioned some of these investigations have gone forward, we’ve seen too often big crime increases,” Sessions continued. “I mean big crime increases. Murder doubling and things of that nature. It’s just, we’ve got to be careful, protect people’s Civil Rights. We can’t have police officers abusing their power. We will not have that. But there are lawful approved, constitutional policies that places — New York is — the murder rate is well below a lot of these other cities that aren’t following these tactics.”

More than twenty cities–including my home New Oreans–are under DOJ Consent decrees.  This is one of the biggest legacies of the Obama administration.

At the time, former Attorney General Eric Holder explained his department would attempt to negotiate a “consent decree” with municipal leaders and, in absence of a settlement, sue in federal court to compel action. Seeing no immediate reform–outside of several notable resignations and firings in Ferguson–and demanding an extension that covers all 90 jurisdictions in St. Louis County, social justice advocates were ho-hum when the department released its findings in Cleveland last December and, more recently, announced a similar investigation would be conducted in Baltimore.

The truth is more than 20 U.S. cities are now under a consent decree, meaning they have agreed to work with the Justice Department’s civil rights division to—in effect—reform themselves. The legally binding actions outlined are specific and stem from rigorous fact-finding. In recent days, the city of Cleveland entered a similar agreement, and current Attorney General Loretta Lynch signaled she will lead an investigation into the Baltimore police department after Freddie Gray was killed in police custody.

Cleveland has been embroiled in controversy since the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice last November and the acquittal of police office Michael Brelo in the fatal shooting of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. Brelo was among 13 officers who unleashed a stunning 137 rounds on the unarmed suspects as they sat in their car. The city was already under a “pattern and practice” investigation at the time of both incidents.

So the question remains: how effective are such measures?

The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, passed in 1994, has proven to be one of the most significant pieces of justice-related legislation enacted over the last 20 odd years. It is most widely known for its problematic measures, including the so-called “three strikes” law that mandates life imprisonment for three-time offenders. Signed into law by former President Bill Clinton, that aspect has disproportionately fueled the mass incarceration of African American men.

However, the law also handed the civil rights division the ability to pursue police agencies if they demonstrate a “pattern and practice” of violating the Constitutional rights of the people they are sworn to serve and protect—including the use of excessive force, racial profiling, and policing-for-profit schemes. The extraordinary language came just three years after Rodney King was beaten by four LAPD police officers. It was a response to a national outcry that the federal government do more to hold law enforcement agencies accountable when local authorities fail.

The prevalence of third-party videotape, which grew exponentially in the years since Rodney King with the advent of smartphone technology and the ubiquitous nature of surveillance cameras, has afforded investigating agencies with a bevy of tangible evidence. Relying on an officer’s statement, as North Charleston, South Carolina police had initially done in the case of patrolman Michael Slager, is no longer the end of the inquiry. Slager, who was unaware that a bystander recorded him, made a flurry of false statements related to the death of Walter Scott. When a tape emerged of him standing calmly in a footpath and shooting Scott five times in the back, he was arrested and charged.

This is definitely a huge concern for those of us that live in urban areas where police practices have been anything but enlightened.  It’s been a major way of putting all levels of government and the communities in a place where reform is possible.

Now it’s in jeopardy along with many other things.

So, the one bit of rumors coming from left wing media that seems terrifically exciting is that there are about to be arrests in the T-Russia Spy-O-Rama. 

The claim first came from @SheWhoVotes, a Twitter user who is also a Constitutional lawyer and has a solid track record. She tweeted today that she’s “Hearing from intelligence insiders that [New York State Attorney General Eric] Scheiderman is working closely with intel. They’re going to take out the entire three ring circus” (link). This was then quickly validated with the words “Fact check: true” by Louise Mensch, a former member of British Parliament who is now a political journalist, and whose inside sources have been consistently correct about the FISA warrants in the Trump-Russia investigation going back to last fall.

My feet are doing a jig over this one:

Anyway, I decided skip the part where we open the third war front against NK in an attempt to distract the Press from the rest of this steaming hot pile of shit. Because, these are the real revolting developments …

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