Monday Reads: The Great Unravelling

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

It’s another one of those Mondays where there are so many things to do and dig out of that I hardly know where to start.  This has been a year where keeping up with all the unraveling threads is a mythical task.  It requires a Greek deity to find them all and knit them back together.

Countries dependent on rule of law depend on functional institutions, intelligent and skilled participants, and commitment to the many parts and pieces that solidify social bonds.  We know that many of these social bonds and contracts are under attack and that many of the institutions designed to carry out the will of the people as stated in the Constitution are being undermined.  It feels as though we’ve entered a period where many groups have grabbed a loose thread and ran off with it so as to unravel as much as possible.

Much of this has been brought to you by fanatical Republicans and spineless Democrats who rarely take on a good fight and play go along and get along way too much. Republicans are in deep denial if they think all that’s gone on with Kremlin Caligula and Trumpism is not the fruit of their poison tree.

I’m saddened to read so many false equivalencies, whiffs, and denials by Republicans that cannot see that this is what they’ve been nuturing since the implementation of the Southern Strategy.  That link goes to Ben Shapiro who rightly calls out White Supremacists for being White Supremacists but immediately denies any connection or responsibility to feeding those beasts.

The Alt-Right Is Not Conservative. One of the hottest takes from the Left is that the alt-right represents the entire right — that what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia represented conservatives broadly. That’s factually incorrect, and intellectually dishonest. The alt-right is not just conservatives who like memes or who dislike Paul Ryan. The alt-right is a philosophy of white supremacy and white nationalism espoused by the likes of Vox Day, Richard Spencer, and Jared Taylor.

Then, we arrive at this:

6. The Left’s Malfeasance And Support For Violent Groups Like Antifa Grow The Alt-Right. Antifa was violent in Charlottesville.

And so it’s every one that’s not a conservative’s fault for not calling down and pushing out the usual group of anarchists–now designer labelled “antifa” akin to “alt-right”–and not the fault of the Republican Party that’s fed the Alt Right subgroups for decades.

I’m glad to see some one call white supremacists out for what they are.  ‘Alt-Right’ is a squishy mush of nothing. I equally wish we’d drop the new designer label of ‘antifa’  and just call the other nutters there what they are which is the usual assortment of anarchists who show up at everything to create chaos because that’s what anarchists do and want. However, as some one whose pre-defined political life was to identify with Republicans, libertarians and conservatives (forgive me I was a swimming in privilege as a white teen in a red state backwater) I have to remind you that none of this can be disowned by Republicans or movement conservatives.

I understand Ben is more “libertarian” than movement conservative but now that  I’ve decided labels are for cans let me say this.  The Republican Party owns this because they own the Southern Strategy and self-identified conservatives developed and exploited it. That’s something started in the Nixon years and played to the hilt with Ronnie Raygun and his welfare queens meme. It continues with a war against an inner city drug problem –crack–while sympathizing with what is mostly a white, rural phenomenon of meth/opiate addiction. It also includes the party’s take over by crazy religious extremists which are anything but conservative unless you consider theocracy preferable to a republic. We all need to call out the goofs on all sides. I’ve been as vocal in my criticism of kooky Jill Stein and positively worthless and whacky Bernie Sanders as I’ve been all along of Kremlin Caligula. But really, where are the adult Republicans and conservatives in the room when they allow Bannon, Gorka, and Miller into the West Wing?

You think a few folks would be uncomfortable if we’d have seen Jeremiah Wright as a strategist with an office in the West WIng next to the last president? You think Reid what let that happen? Seriously, you cannot dog whistle and appease the kooks and then expect to just brush them off when convenient. Every single Republican Strategist since the Nixon bunch has worked hard on that Damned Southern Strategy. I bailed in the early 90s because none of that damn stuff is what any of us in this country should be about. The Bernie appeasement going on with the DNC is just about as crazy but not quite as evil compared to having spent like 40 decades thinking you can convince a bunch of backwoods Hitlers and Christofascists that you’re going to do their bidding if they just vote for the guys that want to deregulate the government.  That’ a Faustian bargain and if you lay down with devils then you can’t complain when the world points out the horns you’ve sprouted.

Trump talks about his ‘good genes’ constantly. His father was arrested in a KKK rally. He supposedly had a copy of Hitler’s tome next to his bed. His first real support and new AG is the World’s Oldest Living Confederate Widow who has a history of being a walking example of what the Southern Strategy was designed to attract.

So, Trump belatedly gave a speech today on the weekend violence that killed a young woman that was supposed to quell the negative comments about the “on all sides” comments on Saturday.  I’ve never really bought in to the old saying better late than never.  I still don’t.  

President Donald Trump directly condemned white supremacists and neo-Nazis in a statement from the White House Monday afternoon.

“Racism is evil — and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” Trump said in response to the attacks in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend.

“Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America,” Trump said.

“As a candidate I promised to restore law and order to our country and our federal law enforcement agencies are following through on that pledge,” Trump said. “We will spare no resource in fighting so that every American child can grow up free from violence and fear. We will defend and protect the sacred rights of all Americans and we will work together so that every citizen in this blessed land is free to follow their dreams, in their hearts, and to express the love and joy in our souls.”

Democrats and Republicans have excoriated Trump for his unwillingness to condemn the groups behind the violent protests that left one woman dead who was allegedly hit by a car driven by a man with ties to white supremacy groups.

After blaming the violence “on many sides” Saturday, Trump stayed silent for close to 48 hours, letting his trademark bluntness and campaign pledges to call terrorism what it is succumb to silence and vagueness.

Trump was asked by reporters after he spoke why he waited so long to condemn these hate groups by name and did not respond.

Feeling comforted yet?  I didn’t think so. The FBI and the DHS have repeatedly warned against the ongoing and escalating threat to our country from domestic terrorists of this ilk. Trump has ignored it and defunded the law enforcement agency studying it and charged with corralling it.

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security in May warned that white supremacist groups had already carried out more attacks than any other domestic extremist group over the past 16 years and were likely to carry out more attacks over the next year, according to an intelligence bulletin obtained by Foreign Policy.

Even as President Donald Trump continues to resist calling out white supremacists for violence, federal law enforcement has made clear that it sees these types of domestic extremists as a severe threat. The report, dated May 10, says the FBI and DHS believe that members of the white supremacist movement “likely will continue to pose a threat of lethal violence over the next year.”

The “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which attracted hundreds of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other members of the so-called alt-right, sparked violent clashes over the weekend. A woman, Heather Heyer, was killed by a car that drove into a crowd of people protesting the rally.

James Alex Fields Jr., the driver of the vehicle that struck Heyer, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

Since the outbreak of violence over the weekend, President Trump has been heavily criticized for not condemning racist groups. “We must remember this truth: No matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are ALL AMERICANS FIRST,” he tweeted.

The FBI, on the other hand, has already concluded that white supremacists, including neo-Nazi supporters and members of the Ku Klux Klan, are in fact responsible for the lion’s share of violent attacks among domestic extremist groups. White supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 … more than any other domestic extremist movement,” reads the joint intelligence bulletin.

The report, titled “White Supremacist Extremism Poses Persistent Threat of Lethal Violence,” was prepared by the FBI and DHS.

The bulletin’s numbers appear to correspond with outside estimates. An independent database compiled by the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute found that between 2008 and 2016, far-right plots and attacks outnumbered Islamist incidents by almost 2 to 1.

So, Republicans can distance themselves from the overt racism of the Alt Right but their policies say something else.  They pass and support voter suppression laws deemed racist by Courts.  They refuse to recognize the complaints on use of force by Police against persons of color and are looking to pass laws to make police brutality less actionable.  They violate the Constitution by trying to punish so-called Sanctuary Cities who refuse to help the Federal Government enforce racist and unnecessary deportation measures.

You undoubtedly can list more.  We keep having to cover this and many other racist and fascist Republican measures that are undoubtedly supported by the Alt Right.  Lawmakers are now trying to make it legal to run over protesters in many states and municipalities.  This is from The Miami Herald.  

The shutdown of highways by protestors prompted several arrests, and lawmakers – most of them Republican – in many states introduced legislation with various levels of protection for drivers who hit protestors that were blocking streets. Some first responders have been fired for making jokes about running over Black Lives Matter protestors.

Miami has experienced roadway-blocking protests of its own: both the election of President Donald Trump and his inauguration prompted significant traffic snarls.

Florida Sen. George Gainer introduced a bill that would ensure drivers who “unintentionally” hit protestors who are obstructing traffic would not be held liable. It failed in committee.

Gainer told WUFT that he was motivated to file the bill due to protests in Miami and Tampa and anti-Trump protests across the country.

“They should have every right in the world to protest the things they disagree with,” Gainer said. “But they don’t have the right to randomly go out into the interstates and attack the cars, beat on the windshields, jump up on the hoods and act like they’ve been hit. In some cases, they set themselves up to be hit.”

In North Carolina, a similar bill passed the House on a 67-48 vote but died in the Senate. Other states that considered similar legislation include Virginia – where 32-year-old Heyer was killed – Oklahoma, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington, according to the Washington Post. Some states took the route of removing liability from drivers, while some simply increased penalties for blocking roadways.

Flowers and other mementos are left at a makeshift memorial for the victims after a car plowed into a crowd of people peacefully protesting a white nationalist rally earlier in the day in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

These bills are in response to BLM protests so don’t tell me the Republicans don’t own a huge role in today’s institutional racism. Here’s an old piece from The Atlantic with the right headline by Jeet Heer.  “How the Southern Strategy Made Donald Trump Possible.  In states like South Carolina, the mogul reaps the benefits of the GOP’s longstanding appeal to racism.”

It’s essential to remember that the Southern Strategy did not originate with cynical GOP pols and right-wing extremists, but was—ironically enough—first hammered out in the pages of National Review, the very publication that now excoriates Trump “a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP.” National Review can disavow Trump as loudly as it wants, but it was the magazine—and the conservative establishment that drew its political ideas and strategies from it—that created the politics that have now morphed into Trumpism.

Republicans own all of this.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

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Wednesday Reads: Just what exactly are the Republicans Nominating?

Steve Bell, UK The Guardian

Steve Bell, UK, The Guardian

Good Afternoon!

I’ve watched the Republican Party go straight down the drain from about the time they nominated and beatified a senile old B movie Actor for President.  I really thought that was about the worst they could do after Richard Nixon. Then came Dubya Bush.  That had to be the worst, right? Well, I was wrong.  They’re in the process of nominating a reality show celebrity with longstanding ties to the Mafia and the White Supremacy movement whose lies more than 90% of the time and has absolutely no understanding of the world beyond his penis and phony persona.  He’s a huckster with so many failed businesses–seeded by his inheritance and tax incentives–that it’s even difficult to take him seriously  when he touts his special deal-making talent.

Yes, don’t we all wish we had a rich father who co-signed every deal and whose death ended the dealing because there was no longer a co-signer?  Any one could do business on those terms.   The laundry list above is basically what the media buries below the free advertising it bestows on a man that should be a pariah.

The other thing, too, that I think the media has to hold his feet to the fire on is he’s gotten away with this notion that he’s a superior deal-maker, and a very successful businessman. I thought about it after he went after the Iran deal. He said, “Obama negotiated this horrible deal with Iran. It’s a bad deal, and when I get to Washington, there won’t be bad deals anymore. I’m a great deal-maker.” And then the reality, the objective reality, is that he’s been a horrible deal-maker. His career is littered with bad deals. And yet, he’s essentially now a human shingle. He’s not someone who’s a particularly adept deal-maker, if you look at his whole career.

Donald Trump Biographer Timothy O’Brien

Why are the Republicans doing this to our nation?  How much do they despise our country?

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“This is too unreal. Can we watch something more realistic like Star Wars?” Philip Ytournel, Denmark’s Politiken

The consolidation that is now occurring within the Republican Party around this horrible human being who is widely recognized as being essentially morally and intellectually bankrupt is beyond horrifying.  It is the stuff that makes the most cynical of us start applying the Godwin Frame.  What kind of candidate is praised by the pariah state of North Korea? 

Writing in DPRK Today, a self-described Chinese North Korean scholar named Han Yong Mook called the presumptive Republican nominee “wise” and a “far-sighted presidential candidate.”
“The president that U.S. citizens must vote for is not that dull Hillary — who claimed to adapt the Iranian model to resolve nuclear issues on the Korean Peninsula — but Trump, who spoke of holding direct conversation with North Korea,” he wrote.

I cannot understand how many people do not see the appalling lack of character in this man. He is not fit for any level of public service and should’ve been cut off from any use of public funds years ago. It’s amazing to me that he’s not run afoul of the law before however, I am very aware that getting a rich white man into jail for stealing public treasure and racketeering is not an easily accomplished task given they can run amok in the justice system for some time.  The Trump “University” scam should have landed the man in jail.

Fernando Liera, Mexico

Fernando Liera, Mexico

I’ve taught university for some time both in for-profit Universities and state run Universities and community colleges.  The stories coming out of  the failed Trump “University” are horrifying.  An article in The Atlantic written by Matt Ford refers to it as “The Art of the Swindle.”  That’s very aptly put.

Predators, by and large, do not attack the strongest prey in the wild. They instead target the vulnerable, the very young, and the very old—the prey that is least able to defend itself.

Trump University, the defunct real-estate education program created by presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, pursued a similar approach, according to its former employees in legal documents unsealed Tuesday.

“Based upon my personal experience and employment, I believe that Trump University was a fraudulent scheme, and that it preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money,” said Ronald Schnackenberg, a sales manager at Trump University in 2006 and 2007.

Those declarations and other internal Trump University documents depict an aggressive, ethically dubious business model that targeted potential customers’ financial fears and socioeconomic anxieties and offered Trump’s personal brand as the solution—a strategy later echoed in his presidential campaign.

The model of registering students in for-profit Universities is frequently to line up Sales People that have innocuous names like Student Adviser or Recruiter to apply the screws. Many of these For-Profits have either failed or reformed under lawsuit, threat of losing any accreditation they may have achieved or under threat of losing the ability to provide Student Loans.  Trump “University” was never accredited and therefore never regulated under Federal laws.  So, it operated outside even the worst of these models.   Completely false information was provided to students as part of a heavy-handed sales pitch.  This article from HuffPo has some extremely interesting documents that were released by Judge Curiel via a decision related to Art Cohen v. Donald J. Trump.

Since he launched his presidential bid last year, Trump has offered conflicting accounts of his involvement with Trump University. In March, Trump defended the company during a debate, saying that its salespeople “did a good job” and that the program had an “A” rating from the Better Business Bureau. (The truth is a little more complicated.) Trump has also claimed in promotional videos that he hand-picked the instructors at Trump U.

The playbooks instruct salespeople to mention Trump by name in order to intimidate potential customers who are hesitant to spend thousands of dollars on a Trump University product. “Mr. Trump will not listen to excuses,” the playbook tells salespeople to say, “and neither will we.”

In another scenario, salespeople are instructed to berate potential customers, telling them, “You’ve had your entire adult life to accomplish your financial goals… and you’re not even close to where you need to be.”

TRUMP UNIVERSITY

But according to more than 5,000 former Trump University customers, it wasn’t their plans that were flawed — it was the Trump U. business model itself. Many of the former students now suing Trump say they were pressured into spending money they didn’t have on Trump University products.

The playbook instructed Trump University employees on how to target potential customers with bad credit. “What most people do,” reads one prompt, “is handle the tuition by putting it on their credit cards because it gives them the ability to make very small monthly payments and maintain a low overhead to run their real estate project.” Later on, it says, they can “use their success in real estate to pay off the banks in a couple of months or so.”

“However, you don’t seem to have the advantage of having that kind of leveraging power,” the pitch continues. “Do you have any other seed capital or savings set aside to further invest into your real estate projects?”

TRUMP UNIVERSITY

The playbook also emphasizes the need to collect key financial information from potential customers. Salespeople were instructed to find out if clients were single parents who “had three children that may need money for food,” for example, or if they were a “middle-aged commuter.”

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Steve Bell, UK. The Guardian

This is an equally horrifying lede from NY Magazine : “Trump University Told Recruiters to Target Single Parents With Hungry Kids.” The analysis is provided by Eric Levitz.

It’s worth remembering that even before Donald Trump launched his pseudo-fascist campaign for the presidency, he was already among the most loathsome humans our great nation has ever produced. On Tuesday, U.S. district court judge Gonzalo Curiel ordered the public release of Trump University’s “playbooks” — guides the (bait-and-switch scheme masquerading as a) real-estate school used to recruit (or con) its enrollees. The playbooks show that prospective students were encouraged to pay for the program, which could cost up to $35,000, by going into credit-card debt.

“We teach the technique of using OPM … other people’s money,” reads one sales script that was obtained by The Hill. “Most students who are invited to this program use established lines of credit, like a credit card, utilizing the bank’s money, OPM, to handle their tuition. I’m not talking about tens of thousands of dollars, but on the other hand, not a couple of hundred dollars either.”

In practice, Trump University staff delivered this message a bit more crudely, according to newly released written testimony obtained by the New York Times. “It’s O.K., just max out your credit card,” Corrine Sommer, an event manager at the school, recalled her colleagues telling prospective students.

If a cash-strapped applicant said, “I don’t like using my credit cards and going into debt,” the playbook instructed recruiters to respond, “[D]o you like living paycheck to paycheck? … Do you enjoy seeing everyone else but yourself in their dream houses and driving their dreams cars with huge checking accounts? Those people saw an opportunity, and didn’t make excuses, like what you’re doing now.”

Most charmingly, the playbooks suggest recruiters exploit the desperation of a single parent with hungry children in order to convince said parent to take on massive credit-card debt.

The Republican Party is well known for its massive and nasty Opposition Research and character smear blitzes.  Roger Stone is with Trump so he obviously was not on the job working against his friend.  However, where were the people behind Jeb Bush?  This massive amount of information has been out there. The Politico link which leads to the first quote is an interview with five Trump Biographers who all basically find him to be an appalling person with pages of examples and citations.

Both the press and the Republican party have not done due diligence with Trump.  Are they that obsessed about Hillary Clinton that they’ll let a fascist in the White House with less morality than any sentient being slithering, crawling, or slinking in the deepest, darkest nether regions of our planet?

So, the Mafia connections are pretty brazen also. You can read my friend Peter’s take on them here at First Draft.  Peter excerpts a particularly horrifying article from David Cay Johnston.

David Rowe, Australia, The Australian Financial Review

David Rowe, Australia, The Australian Financial Review

I’m not the only one who has picked up signals over the years. Wayne Barrett, author of a 1992 investigative biography of Trump’s real-estate dealings, has tied Trump to mob and mob-connected men.

No other candidate for the White House this year has anything close to Trump’s record of repeated social and business dealings with mobsters, swindlers, and other crooks. Professor Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, said the closest historical example would be President Warren G. Harding and Teapot Dome, a bribery and bid-rigging scandal in which the interior secretary went to prison. But even that has a key difference: Harding’s associates were corrupt but otherwise legitimate businessmen, not mobsters and drug dealers.

This is part of the Donald Trump story that few know. As Barrett wrote in his book, Trump didn’t just do business with mobbed-up concrete companies: he also probably met personally with Salerno at the townhouse of notorious New York fixer Roy Cohn, in a meeting recounted by a Cohn staffer who told Barrett she was present. This came at a time when other developers in New York were pleading with the FBI to free them of mob control of the concrete business.

From the public record and published accounts like that one, it’s possible to assemble a clear picture of what we do know. The picture shows that Trump’s career has benefited from a decades-long and largely successful effort to limit and deflect law enforcement investigations into his dealings with top mobsters, organized crime associates, labor fixers, corrupt union leaders, con artists and even a one-time drug trafficker whom Trump retained as the head of his personal helicopter service.

Now that he’s running for president, I pulled together what’s known – piecing together the long history of federal filings, court records, biographical anecdotes, and research from my and Barrett’s files. What emerges is a pattern of business dealings with mob figuresnot only local figures, but even the son of a reputed Russian mob boss whom Trump had at his side at a gala Trump hotel opening, but has since claimed under oath he barely knows.

Tom Robbins writing for Vice also has some very telling information.

Actually, there’s an old FBI memo that puts a different spin on Trump’s attitude about the mob. It is a classic example of a young but already shrewd Trump hard at work. It was written in 1981 by a veteran FBI agent, reflecting meetings that he and a fellow FBI official were having with the 35-year-old developer from Queens, then a rising star in New York’s business firmament. The topic of the meetings was Trump’s pending plunge into the Atlantic City casino industry. And while the memo was written in the stilted language of FBI-bureaucratese, Trump’s wide-eyed comments were recorded with what seems like barely suppressed amusement. “Trump advised agents that he had read in the press and media and had heard from various acquaintances that Organized Crime elements were known to operate in Atlantic City,” the memo states.

Then, there are the ties to white supremacist groups. This recent Forbes article is on his propensity to retweet NAZIs.  Okay, I finally Godwinned.

Trump is “giving us the old wink-wink,” wrote Andrew Anglin, editor of a white supremacist website called The Daily Stormer, after Trump retweeted two other “white genocide” theorists within a single minute. “Whereas the odd White genocide tweet could be a random occurrence, it isn’t statistically possible that two of them back to back could be a random occurrence. It could only be deliberate…Today in America the air is cold and it tastes like victory.”

It is possible that Trump ― who, according to the campaign, does almost all of his own tweeting ― is unfamiliar with the term “white genocide” and doesn’t do even basic vetting of those whose tweets he amplifies to his seven million followers. But the reality is that there are dozens of tweets mentioning @realDonaldTrump each minute, and he has an uncanny ability to surface ones that come from accounts that proudly proclaim their white supremacist leanings.

There’s this article from The Atlantic which diagram’s Trump’s language to the KKK of the 1920s which would indicate his father’s influence. Where was the sunlight on this last fall?  The analysis is by Kelly J. Baker.

Making America great required exclusion, intolerance, and vitriol. Unfortunately for the Klan, their message of 100 percent Americanism started losing ground by the end of the 1920s. Public scandals involving Klan leaders and convictions of Klansmen for murder made white Americans reconsider their allegiance to the order and its increasingly tarnished ideals. The Klan started to appear too extreme and dangerous for even the slightest association. Their steep rise was tempered by an equally steep fall. Moreover, the Klan developed an image problem: their persistent association with racism—which continues to plague the modern Klans despite efforts to rebrand their image to reflect the love of the white race, not racism per se.

The Klan’s message of 100 percent Americanism and restrictive immigration resonated in the 1920s, and their message gains traction again and again every time white Americans encounter social change and shifting demographics. With a black president, LGBT equality, an enormous Hispanic community, and predictions that America will soon be a majority minority country, their message resonates now, too. That’s why a former Klan leader is encouraging other white supremacists to vote for Trump and why The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos found that extremist white-rights groups also plan to vote for him. Maybe Trump doesn’t know better. Or maybe the echoes are less like echoes and more like the purposeful conjuring of a racialized message—one that too many white voters still want to hear.

You can follow any of these links to Trump’s sordid past, present, and undoubtedly our conjoined future.  Perhaps both the Republican Party and the media are so caught up in their own frames that they’ve failed to take Trump seriously. We’re beginning to see more standard vetting now.  However, it’s nearly too late.  Phillip Bump of WAPO analyzes the consolidation of the party around Trump.

What’s changed, though, is that Republicans have warmed up to the guy. As the Times writes, “[U]nfavorable views toward Mr. Trump among Republican voters have plummeted 15 percentage points since last month; 21 percent now express an unfavorable view of him, down from 36 percent in April.” We pointed out last week that consolidating the Republican base would make Trump’s favorability numbers look more like Clinton’s, and voila.

The subtext to that is this: With their nominee settled, Republicans are rallying around him. There’s more evidence to this effect than is worth delineating, but this is not uncommon for presidential races.

There will be undoubtedly be much white washing.  He’s still getting more free press than any one ever has before.  Just this week as Clinton was introducing major policy initiatives on the military and veterans, the  cable TV cameras were focused on an empty podium waiting the wildly-coiffed one.  Corporate news chases profits and this man needs to be stopped at all costs.  The two countries in the world that welcome Trump are Putin’s Russia and North Korea. The rest are horrified.  We all should be horrified.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: I Don’t Belong in This World

cover_books_catieviox4.widea

Good Morning!!

I hardly know where to begin today. Following the news these days is like going through the looking glass into an alternate reality.

So often in my life I’ve felt that I don’t belong in this world. I have that feeling today. There are so many people and events that I just don’t understand.

I’ll begin with yesterday’s Supreme Court arguments in an important case about affirmative action. Yesterday in a comment, Dakinikat posted this article from Mother Jones: Justice Scalia Suggests Blacks Belong at “Slower” Colleges.

Scalia’s comments came during arguments in Fisher v. University of Texas, a case over whether the university’s use of race in a sliver of its admissions decisions is constitutional. The University of Texas-Austin is being challenged over its use of race in admissions decisions for about 25 percent of its freshman class. About 75 percent of the students at UT-Austin are admitted through what’s known as the Top Ten Percent program, in which any student graduating within the top 10 percent of his or her class is guaranteed admission, regardless of race. The other 25 percent are admitted via a “holistic” process that takes race, and other factors, into account. It’s the “holistic” program that Abigail Fisher—who was denied admission for the university in 2008—is challenging.

The University of Texas has determined that if it excluded race as a factor, that remaining 25 percent would be almost entirely white. During the oral arguments, former US Solicitor General Greg Garre, who is representing the university, was explaining this to the justices. At that point, Scalia jumped in, questioning whether increasing the number of African Americans at the flagship university in Austin was in the black students’ best interests. He said:

There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas, where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well. One of the briefs pointed out that most of the black scientists in this country don’t come from schools like the University of Texas. They come from lesser schools where they do not feel that they’re being pushed ahead in classes that are too fast for them.

He went on to say, “I’m just not impressed by the fact the University of Texas may have fewer [blacks]. Maybe it ought to have fewer. I don’t think it stands to reason that it’s a good thing for the University of Texas to admit as many blacks as possible.”

Boys-reading-in-the-snow-007

This morning some writers are claiming that Scalia’s comments weren’t racist because he was referring to studies by respected researchers and not expressing his personal opinion.

Alex Griswold at Mediaite: Media Jumps The Gun, Attacks Scalia For Perfectly Reasonable Question.

First of all, it’s worth noting that oral arguments are not an avenue for justices to share their views on the case at hand; it’s an opportunity to suss out any holes in the arguments of both parties. To that end, justices often advance arguments and theories they do not necessarily hold….

As it happens, Scalia was pretty accuratelyciting a brief filed by two members of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. They point to a study showing that black scientists are much more likely to have graduated from historically black colleges, even though those schools are less academically stringent than elite universities:

With only twenty percent of total black enrollment, these schools were producing forty percent of the black students graduating with natural science degrees, according to the National Science Foundation. Those same students were frequently going on to earn Ph.D.s from non-HBCUs. The National Science Foundation reported, for example, that thirty-six percent of the blacks who earned an engineering doctorate between 1986 and 1988 received their undergraduate degree from an HBCU.

Why have HBCUs been so successful? [The authors] believed that unlike at mainstream institutions, African-American students at HBCUs were not grouped at the bottom of the class. Roughly half were in the top half of the class.

Scalia isn’t citing some crackpot theory that only these two civil rights officers are worried about, by the way. The“mismatch effect” is a pretty common critique of affirmative action in academia that’s based on pretty hard data. The most prominent book on the subject wasn’t written by cranks, it was written by UCLA and Stanford law professors.

Reading by the fireplace. Photo by Caroline Jensen.

Reading by the fireplace. Photo by Caroline Jensen.

OK, but Scalia did express a personal opinion at the end of his remarks. Furthermore, these studies apparently do not address the issue of whether diversity in the student bodies and faculty at “elite” universities is a good thing for the college experience and for society as a whole.

James Warren also defended Scalia’s remarks at Poynter: Media muddle: Was Scalia being racist?

And then there’s the question of why so many Americans love their guns more than life itself–or at least the lives of their children and fellow citizens. Many of these people are the same ones who are constantly claiming they are “pro-life.” Someone please explain to me why this makes any sense.

The Christian Science Monitor: Why are gun rights activists planning a fake mass shooting?

Two gun rights groups in Texas have planned a mock mass shooting event on Saturday in order to raise awareness about their view of the relationship between gun rights and mass shooting casualties. They believe that by increasing open carry rights, mass shootings can be reduced or even prevented.

Gun control advocates have been vocal about their desire to enact new restrictions on ownership of certain kinds of guns in the wake of two mass shootings in Colorado Springs, Colo., and San Bernardino, Calif., in less than a week. The groups hosting the mock shooting event say that it will demonstrate how the intervention of responsible gun owners can reduce the number of lives lost in a mass shooting scenario.

The two groups, Come and Take it Texas and Dontcomply.com, had originally planned to hold their event at the University of Texas but later moved the event off campus after meeting with university officials.

Sorry, but I have no clue how this exercise could relate to an actual mass shooting event.

be14d8ee7bafafcb42947427b81c140c

And what about the phenomenon of Donald Trump? Why does he think it’s useful to fan the flames of racism, nativism, and Islamophobia and in the process increasing the visibility of hate groups and encouraging violent attacks on minority groups in the U.S.?

Politico: White supremacist groups see Trump bump.

The Ku Klux Klan is using Donald Trump as a talking point in its outreach efforts. Stormfront, the most prominent American white supremacist website, is upgrading its servers in part to cope with a Trump traffic spike. And former Louisiana Rep. David Duke reports that the businessman has given more Americans cover to speak out loud about white nationalism than at any time since his own political campaigns in the 1990s.

As hate group monitors at the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League warn that Trump’s rhetoric is conducive to anti-Muslim violence, white nationalist leaders are capitalizing on his candidacy to invigorate and expand their movement.

“Demoralization has been the biggest enemy and Trump is changing all that,” said Stormfront founder Don Black, who reports additional listeners and call volume to his phone-in radio show, in addition to the site’s traffic bump. Black predicts that the white nationalist forces set in motion by Trump will be a legacy that outlives the businessman’s political career. “He’s certainly creating a movement that will continue independently of him even if he does fold at some point.”

Reading by the fire, Edward Lamson Henry.

Reading by the fire, Edward Lamson Henry.

Are Trump’s statements actually likely to energize hateful individuals to resort to violence?

According to experts at the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center who monitor hate groups and anti-Muslim sentiment, Trump’s call on Monday to halt the entrance of Muslims to the United States is driving online chatter among white supremacists and is likely to inspire violence against Muslims.

“When well-known public figures make these kind of statements in the public square, they are taken as a permission-giving by criminal elements who go out and act on their words.” said Mark Potok of the SPLC. “Is it energizing the groups? Yeah. They’re thrilled.”

Marilyn Mayo, co-director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism, said Trump’s proposal this week to halt the entrance of Muslims into the United States is only the latest statement to inject vigor into the racist fringe of American politics. “Since the beginning of Donald Trump’s candidacy, we’ve definitely seen that a segment of the white supremacist movement, from racist intellectuals to neo-Nazis have been energized,” she said.

Check out this piece by Steve Benen: Trump spokesperson: ‘So what? They’re Muslim.’

Katrina Pierson, a spokesperson for Donald Trump’s campaign, argued this morning on CNN that her boss’ proposed Muslim ban has merit because “never in United States history have we allowed insurgents to come across these borders.” Reminded that Trump’s policy would block lots of peaceful people who have nothing to do with violence, the spokesperson was unmoved.
“So what?” Pierson replied. “They’re Muslim.”
reading-by-the-fire
How are voters responding to Trump’s hate speech against Muslims?
As for public opinion, it’s too soon to gauge polling reactions, but we already have a sense of Republican voters’ general attitudes on the subject.
Public Policy Polling published results yesterday on GOP voters’ attitudes in North Carolina. Among the findings:
* 48% of North Carolina Republicans endorse the idea of a national database of Muslims.
* 42% of North Carolina Republicans believed thousands of Middle Easterners cheered in New Jersey on 9/11.
* 35% of North Carolina Republicans support shutting down American mosques.
* 32% of North Carolina Republicans believe practicing Islam in the United States should be illegal.

WinterTan

We are certainly seeing plenty of attacks on Muslims around the country. On Tuesday I posted a story about someone leaving a pig’s head at a mosque in Philadelphia. Today, I saw this on Raw Story: Texans begin nightly smashing windows of Muslim family only six weeks after they move in.

A Muslim family in Plano, Texas fear that they may have been targeted with a hate crime after rocks smashed through their windows at least two times in the last week.

The family told KTVT that they moved to Plano six weeks ago, and that they believe that the people throwing the rocks may be sending a message about their religion.

Windows in the home have been smashed twice in the last two days. At their request, the names of the family members were not being released.

Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) spokesperson Alia Salem explained to KTVT that there had been a spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes in recent weeks.

“Right now, we’re getting multiple hate crime reports every single day,” Salem said.

Why? This is not the America I want to live in. I’d rather escape into a book, but somehow I feel compelled to stay aware of what is happening.

What stories are you following today?


Thursday Reads: Happy New Year!!

Sydney 2015

Sydney 2015

Good Morning!!

New Year’s Celebrations Around the World

Berlin 2015

Berlin 2015

 

Hong Kong 2015

Hong Kong 2015

 

London 2015

London 2015

 

Moscow 2015

Moscow 2015

 

New York 2015

New York 2015

 

Paris 2015

Paris 2015

 

Rome

Rome

 

Tokyo

Tokyo

 

The Latest News

Sadly, the New Year’s celebration in Shanghai was marred by a terrible tragedy.

From Xinhuanet, China:

SHANGHAI, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) — The death toll of a fatal stampede during New Year celebrations late Wednesday in Shanghai rose to 36 as of Thursday afternoon, local authorities said.

Seven injured have checked out of hospital. Among the 40 injured being treated in local hosptals, 13 are suffering from serious injuries, the municipal government said.

The tragedy happened at a crowded square in Shanghai’s gleaming Bund area at around 11:35 p.m. There were 25 women among the deceased whose ages ranged from 16 to 36, said the authorities of Shanghai, a metropolis that is home to a population of over 23 million….

Survivors described the stampede as “horrific and hellish.”

Some said they were standing on the steps adjoining the major road and the sightseeing platform when the deadly incident happened.

“The steps leading to the platform were full of people. Some wanted to get down and some wanted to go up,” said a witness who gave her surname as Yin. “We were caught in the middle and saw some girls falling while screaming. Then people started to fall down, row by row.”

The woman said she covered two kids in front of her with her arms in the chaos. Her son followed her.

“When we brought him out of the crowd, his forehead was bruised, he had two deep creased scars on his neck, and his mouth and nose were bleeding,” said the mother.

Dirty shoe prints covered her son’s clothes when the 12-year-old boy came to safety.

“The crowd was in a panic. We stood in the crowd, feeling squeezed and almost out of breath,” another witness, surnamed Yu, said. “Some yelled for help, but the noise was too loud.”

Other survivors said police rushed to the scene and tried to pull out people who were stuck, but without much success.

“The chaos lasted several minutes, then some of the injured were seen being carried out of the crowd,” Yu said.

Security personnel and police officers at a Shanghai hospital where victims were treated on New Year's Day (Reuters)

Security personnel and police officers at a Shanghai hospital where victims were treated on New Year’s Day (Reuters)

From the Independent, China New Year’s Eve crush: At least 36 killed and 47 injured in Shanghai stampede.

State media and witnesses have said the incident at Chen Yi Square was at least partly caused when people scrambled for coupons that looked like dollar bills that were being thrown out of the window of a bar on the third floor of a building overlooking the Bund.

A man who brought one of the injured to a local hospital said the fake money had been thrown down from the bar as part of New Year’ Eve celebrations, which he claims triggered the stampede. But Shanghai police could not confirm the cause of the tragedy and have asked people to be patient, according to state television.

Many of the dead and injured were students, and 28 of the dead were women, state media reported.

The trouble is believed to have broken out about half an hour before midnight. Pictures published by Xinhua and on social media outlets showed several people lying on the floor with rescuers attempting to revive the injured as police tried to restore order.

In Boston, protesters staged a “die-in” at the beginning of First Night festivities.

BOSTON (WHDH) –As Boston’s First Night activities began Wednesday afternoon, so did demonstrations by people protesting racism and police brutality.

The protesters started gathering at 2:30 p.m. on the steps of Boston Public Library.

Protesters said they heard calls from Mayor Marty Walsh and Police Commissioner William Evans asking them not to disrupt the family event.

But, they said, the protests aren’t a disruption. They are just an extension of the other family events around the city.

“When kids see people dying in in the middle of the square maybe they’ll ask their parents ‘why is America like this?’” Martin Henson said.

“When the police officers respect black lives and respect us, and we don’t get killed because things are happening because we have children and we have brothers and sisters, that’s when this will stop,” Courtney Hambrick said.

A die-in happened in Copley Square right in front of the library at 5 p.m. Nearly 100 protesters participated while a large crowd gathered to watch.

See tweets and more photos from the protest at Boston.com.

In St. Louis, Protesters present[ed an] “Eviction Notice” to St. Louis Police.

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – A group of approximately 75 marched throughout downtown St. Louis Wednesday before gathering outside of Police Headquarters.

The protesters posted an “Eviction Notice” on the door of the headquarters which listed reasons that “Chief Sam Dotson and all other occupiers of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department” would be “removed from power.”

News 4’s Russell Kinsaul was at the headquarters and said there was a line of police officers outside the front door preventing people from entering the building. He said the officers used pepper spray when the protesters attempted to enter the building.

Protesters said they would be at the headquarters for about four hours to represent the hours that Michael Brown’s body lay in the street.

blog_nypd_patch

According to The Daily Beast, NYPD officers are staging their own protest against public criticism of police officers shooting and killing black men: Ground Zero of the NYPD Slowdown.

The end of 2014 in New York City has felt like the end of days. The last week of the year was marked by strained relations between Mayor Bill DeBlasio and the rank and file of the NYPD following the shooting of two officers: Rafael Ramos and Wejian Liu, shootings blamed by President of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch, on the Mayor’s response to the Eric Garner protests.

In the wake of this turmoil, the New York Post reported that the police had stopped policing. In the week starting Dec. 22, arrests were down 66 percentcompared to the same week in 2013. According to the Post, citations for traffic violations fell by 94 percent, from 10,069 to 587. Summonses for low-level offenses like public drinking and urination fell 94 percent—from 4,831 to 300. And drug arrests dropped by 84 percent, from 382 to 63.

The numbers reinforce another article in the Post, in which cops confessed to “turning a blind eye” to minor crimes. An NYPD supervisor told the Post, “My guys are writing almost no summonses, and probably only making arrests when they have to—like when a store catches a shoplifter.” In the later article, the Postquotes the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which warned its members to put their safety first and not make arrests “unless absolutely necessary.”

On Wednesday afternoon in the predominantly black Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, many had noticed the police slowdown. A car mechanic who goes by the name “Big Perm” said he noticed a change in the neighborhood. “They just walk around, they ride in their patrol cars, and they just pass by,” he said. He does not approve of the police slow down, like most people I spoke to. Big Perm worries that the lack of policing the “small fry” will lead to more crimes by “big fry.” In the meantime, he is keeping his children at home.

A young man who wouldn’t give his name also noticed the police slowdown over the past week in a neighborhood he says is usually teeming with police activity. “I see the streets are different, they have a different look to them. I’m not seeing the police like I usually see them,” he said. But he said the streets are calmer, too. “More police makes it crazy. If they see me and my friend having a conversation, and my cousin comes down the street, it’s a problem. I just try to keep out their way most of the time.”

David Duke campaigning in 1991

David Duke campaigning in 1991

The Steve Scalise story is still in the news, but it doesn’t appear that The Louisiana Congressman will be resigning his Majority Whip post anytime soon. Perhaps that is because, as the New York Times reports, David Duke’s ideas now represent mainstream attitudes in the Republican Party.

From NPR: 6 Reasons Steve Scalise Will Survive His Speech Scandal.

Unless further evidence emerges of liaisons with the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, or EURO, Scalise will take his oath next week for the 114th Congress as the No. 3 leader of the chamber’s GOP — the party’s largest majority since 1928.

That was the message tucked into the bouquet of supporting statements Scalise received Tuesday from Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other prominent Republicans….

Scolded and scalded, Scalise was still standing.

Suffice it to say that the whip’s protestations of innocence about EURO and its views have strained credulity, both in Washington and in Louisiana. EURO was co-founded in the 1990s by David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader and American Nazi. Duke at that time had run for governor and for the U.S. Senate as an insurgent Republican, doing well enough in both cases to distress the national GOP and attract news attention from around the world.

That’s pretty shocking, but I guess it shouldn’t be. Republicans have become the party of ignorance, racism, sexism, and nativism.

North Jersey.com notes that the Republican record on race has become so awful that Scalise actually suggested that speaking to David Duke’s was no different than talking to the League of Women Voters.

A WHITE supremacist organization is not akin to the League of Women Voters. That should be obvious to anyone, let alone the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives. But it was not to Steve Scalise of Louisiana back in 2002 or even this week.

The House majority whip is dealing with the backlash over the revelation that in 2002 he addressed the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, or EURO, an organization founded by David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader. Scalise claims he had no idea about the group’s ideology; he was a state politician at the time, understaffed, and he would talk to anyone about tax policy.

While that is hard to accept, given the very high profile of Duke in Louisiana, even if taken at face value, the congressman’s comments to the Times-Picayune earlier this week, when he tried to defend himself, show a lack of understanding about racial divisions in the United States.

“I spoke to the League of Women Voters, a pretty liberal group. … I still went and spoke to them. I spoke to any group that called, and there were a lot of groups calling,” he offered in his defense. The League of Women Voters wants citizens to get out and vote; in what definition of “democracy” does encouraging voter participation become “pretty liberal”?

The League of Women Voters is completely nonpartisan and welcomes both Republican and Democrats to its membership.

Tom Brady

How valuable is Tom Brady to the New England Patriots? The Sporting News reports: Tom Brady takes one for the team, helps Patriots remain perennial contenders.

On Sunday, Tom Brady earned $24 million in future contract guarantees with the Patriots. On Monday he volunteered to eliminate those guarantees in return for an extra $1 million in salary each year to help his team pay for players in free agency.

The reason for the contract restructure is to allow the Patriots to avoid having to place his $24 million in salary, which would be earned from 2015 through 2017, in escrow early in the the 2015 League Year. Salary that is guaranteed at the start of the year for skill must be funded in entirety by the team, meaning the Patriots would have had to set aside $24 million for future payments. Once those skill guarantees are eliminated so is the need to set aside the money in advance. This is a common reason teams use vesting guarantees when signing a contract.

Brady has been a dream come true for the Patriots and their ability to remain competitive, not just on the field but off it. Brady’s $8 million salary and $14 million cap charge in 2015 rank just 17th in the NFL. Meanwhile his closest contemporaries of Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Tony Romo will carry cap charges of $21.5, $26.4, and $27.7 million and actual salaries of $19, $19 and $17 million. He is a unique talent and team player the likes of which we many never see again.

Brady has been giving his team hometown discounts ever since his first Super Bowl win in 2002, in stark contrast to so many greedy professional athletes.

More News Headlines

The Hill, Pope Francis drives a wedge between Catholic Church, GOP

Jameis Wilson will suffer no consequences for raping a fellow college student in 2012.

The Daily Beast: Jameis Winston Cleared of Rape Like Every Other College Sports Star, even though the hearing that cleared him was a pathetic joke.

From Vice.com: JAMEIS WINSTON CONDUCT HEARING TRANSCRIPT REVEALS MASS CONFUSION AND BIZARRE DECISION-MAKING.

Here’s an excellent piece on the reality of “false accusations” of rape from Autostraddle.

Rebel Girls: Our “False Rape” Hysteria is Bullsh*t

Wired, Over 80 Percent of Dark-Web Visits Relate to Pedophilia, Study Finds.

Bostino, Harvard Law Found in Violation of Title IX; Agrees to Remedy its Sexual Assault Policy.

Oregon Live, Why the backlash against Donna Tartt’s ‘The Goldfinch’ was so extreme.

PBS News Hour, Why are snowy owls moving so far from their Arctic home? And where can I spot one?

Marketwatch, You can put the next stock-market crash on your 2016 calendar now.

Christian Science Monitor, Judge rules that Boston Marathon bombing trial will begin Monday.

Forbes, Are Monarch Butterflies Endangered? Population Down Ninety Percent.

What else is happening? Have a great New Year’s Day, Sky Dancers!!


Late Night Catch Up…Open Thread

Mike Luckovich…does it again!

Getting back into the groove of things, so tonight I have some updates on a few crime and white supremacy stories we have been watching.

First is one that has me scratching my head about…remember that “cannibal” attack in Miami? The one that was blamed on “bath salts,” well…according to the county Medical Examiner: Causeway Cannibal Not High On Bath Salts

Rudy Eugene, the Causeway Cannibal who ate the face off a homeless man he attacked along the MacArthur Causeway, was apparently  not high on bath salts or any other exotic street drug at the time of the attack, according to a report released Wednesday by the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner. The news leaves law enforcement officials wondering what drove Eugene to strip off his clothes, attack homeless man Ronald Poppo, and chew off pieces of flesh from Poppo’s face

Maybe it was a voodoo curse after all?

The much-anticipated toxicology report released by Miami-Dade Medical Examiner Dr. Bruce Hyma found marijuana in Eugene’s system, something CBS4 News had previously reported, but no evidence of  any other street drugs, alcohol or prescription drugs, or any adulterants found in street drugs.

The report said this includes cocaine, LSD, amphetamines (Ecstasy, Meth and others), phencyclidine (PCP or Angel Dust), heroin, oxycodone, Xanax, synthetic marijuana (Spice), and many other similar compounds.

Hyma’s office specifically ruled out bath salts, a class of synthetic drugs that have been known to cause bizarre behavior and overheating of people who use them, two things that made some believe Eugene’s cannibalistic behavior could be blamed on the drugs.

“The department has also sought the assistance of an outside forensic toxicology reference laboratory, which has confirmed the absence of “bath salts,” synthetic marijuana and LSD,” the report said.

“Within the limits of current technology by both laboratories, marijuana is the only drug identified in the body of Mr. Rudy Eugene.”

The news from the medical examiner sends investigators back to square one as they look for what caused Eugene’s bizarre behavior.

Freaky stuff!

In other news out of Sanford, Florida: Sanford detective: Trayvon Martin never used deadly force

police records released Tuesday show in greater detail how the Sanford detective investigating the case was unconvinced that Zimmerman was legally justified when he shot Martin. Detective Chris Serino believed Zimmerman jumped to a “faulty conclusion” about Martin, an unarmed teen who he said never used deadly force when he battered Zimmerman and caused him to frantically scream for help 14 times.

Days after several recorded interviews between Serino and Zimmerman were made public, the detective got a new job: On July 7, he starts in his new assignment as a uniformed patrolman on the graveyard shift, at the same pay.

“It’s not a demotion,” Sanford Police spokesman Sgt. David Morgenstern said of Serino, 45, who has been with the department for 15 years.

“There isn’t any more prestige in being a detective. We have officers who love uniform patrol. This was of his own free will.”

The article continues,

On Tuesday, prosecutors released several videos and audio tapes, most of which had already been made public last week by Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara. One video released Tuesday shows several minutes of previously unseen footage of Zimmerman discussing with police his doctor’s diagnosis of his injuries.

“I have a broken nose. She says I could use stitches, but she’d rather not put them in – as long as I didn’t mess with my head. My skin is already healing nicely,” Zimmerman said at the end of a video where he walked through the scene with investigators the day after the Feb. 26 shooting. “She says I didn’t need to put stitches in right away.”

As to the absence of wounds on other parts of his body, Zimmerman said: Martin “was just focused on my head.”

Zimmerman said that his doctor also advised that he needed to let the swelling in his nose go down before it could be treated. Sanford Detective Doris Singleton noticed that the inflammation on the side of Zimmerman’s bruised head had gone down.

“My wife is an RN student, so she went to work,” Zimmerman said. “Good to keep her busy, I guess.”

An unedited version of Serino’s sworn statement shows he believed the injuries were “marginally consistent with a life-threatening violent episode described by him, during which neither a deadly weapon nor deadly force was deployed by Trayvon Martin.”

Ugh…no comment…cause you all know what I think about all this.

In Banjoville news, ACLU to represent KKK group  

The American Civil Liberties Union will champion a Ku Klux Klan outfit’s right to “adopt” a section of highway in Union County, an ACLU official said Tuesday — on the same day that key members of the KKK group acknowledged they live in a neighboring county.

The cyclops lives on the border of Union County, and according to him…

…lives in Morganton in Fannin County, which he described as “a mile or two from the Union County border.” But he said the KKK’s headquarters is in Blairsville. He said it also has a physical headquarters there but would not provide specifics.

“That’s one of the secrets we do have,” he said, adding that the fact that he lives in Fannin has no bearing on the Adopt-a Highway application. “It doesn’t matter where we live, it’s irrelevant to the case.”

But it’s not irrelevant to some in Union County.

“We don’t know why they picked Union County,” said Union County Commissioner Lamar Paris, a native of the county and the top elected official for a dozen years. “They could have easily chosen the last mile of Fannin County as opposed to the first mile in Union County.”

Paris said he was “not aware of any members of the KKK now or in the past being from the county.”

Yeah I bet…it is an election year, in fact Union County voters will be hitting the polls next month. In our local paper he does not mention any negative feelings towards members of the KKK…just that the news of this adopt-a-mile ruckus must have been picked up by news outlets world wide because it was a “slow news day.”  The people in office in my county are all asses, and the ones who are trying to get elected are even worse.

One last news bit for you…and Kreepy is just the thing this story is about. Cannonfire: Judge Kreep

If a writer of fiction had come up with such a name, readers would hoot. A guy named Gary Kreep runs a far-right Muslim-bashing “birther” group called the United States Justice Foundation. He was just elected a judge in San Diego.

Let me take a step back, though. Mr. Kreep was just elected to San Diego’s Superior Court. This ninny is a judge, beating out a 27 year deputy district attorney that had “received the county bar association’s highest rating and who was supported by local police unions and sitting judges.”

Damn, what the hell is this world coming too!

Oh…and one last thing, I have a video/dvr alert for you all:

DIRECTED BY PRESTON STURGES – 6/30 on TCM

The reason this is so exciting, is that they are having The Great McGinty at 11 pm EST, don’t miss it!


Georgia Says No To KKK, Detour on Burning Crosses for now…

Good Evening!

After keeping up with the situation in my hometown of Banjoville, it was so wonderful to see this headline tonight.

Georgia official: KKK won’t be allowed to ‘adopt’ highway – CNN.com

Citing safety concerns and the organization’s history, Georgia transportation officials said Tuesday they would not allow a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan to “adopt” a one-mile stretch of highway in North Georgia.

The Klan chapter wanted to clean a stretch of Georgia State Route 515 in Union County, Georgia, according to paperwork obtained by CNN.

The application was filed by the International Keystone Knights of the KKK on May 21.

Keith Golden, commissioner for the state Department of Transportation, wrote the chapter’s secretary that officials determined the mountain roadway, with a speed limit of 65 mph, was not a safe place for cleanup volunteers to work.

Golden’s letter to April Chambers cited other concerns.

“The impact of erecting a sign naming an organization which has a long-rooted history of civil disturbance would cause a significant public concern,” he wrote. “Impacts include safety of the traveling public, potential social unrest, driver distraction or interference with the flow of traffic.”

Video at the link.

I know that April Chambers, the Keystone KKK secretary is reported to have said….”We’ll see them in court.”  The ACLU has received a request for assistance and is looking into it…DOT rejects Klan application to adopt highway, legal challenge likely  | ajc.com

Harley Hanson, who filed the application for the Klan, has pledged to sue if he was rejected.

Missouri lost a lengthy legal battle to ban the KKK from adopting a road in that state.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal urged state Transportation Commissioner Keith Golden to reject the Klan. In an e-mail to Golden on Tuesday, Deal’s chief of staff, Chris Riley, said the governor “does not support the approval of the application.”

In other news…

George Zimmerman wife arrested: George Zimmerman’s wife arrested, charged with perjury  This is really no surprise, she lied on the stand and the Judge was not “happy” about it. There is something to be said for seeing the mug shots of both the Zimmermans on that link.

  • Seminole County jail mugshots of George Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie Zimmerman.
Seminole County jail mugshots of George Zimmerman and his wife,… (Seminole County jail, Seminole…)
prosecutors say Shellie Zimmerman spent the days before that April hearing shifting tens of thousands of dollars out of her husband’s account, then deliberately lied to the judge.On Tuesday, she was arrested on a perjury charge and booked into John E. Polk Correctional Facility. It’s the same jail her husband has called home since the deception was revealed earlier this month, leading the judge to revoke his bond.”The prosecutor sent a strong message that you have to tell the truth in court because it is the whole basis of the American judicial system,” said Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Trayvon’s family, after learning of the new arrest.

In an affidavit, prosecutors revealed new details about Shellie Zimmerman’s alleged efforts to hide money from the court.

Four days before she testified to having no knowledge of the funds, the affidavit says, Shellie Zimmerman began a series of transfers into her account — totaling $74,000 from April 16 to April 19.

The affidavit says about $47,000 more was transferred from George Zimmerman’s account to his sister’s. Shellie Zimmerman withdrew about $18,000 more in cash, prosecutors say.

Prosecutors say the Zimmermans used a rudimentary “code” to discuss the money in recorded jailhouse phone calls — referring to $100,000, for example, as “$100.” At least two of the calls, the state alleges, were made while Shellie Zimmerman and her husband’s sister were at a local credit union making the transactions.

Zimmerman told his wife to “pay off all the bills” with the money, prosecutors said, including an American Express card and a Sam’s Club card. He also instructed her on how to pay his bail.

According to the affidavit, after her husband was released on bond days after the hearing, she transferred more than $85,000 back into his account. A branch manager at their credit union told prosecutors he knew the couple and saw Shellie Zimmerman talking to her husband on the phone April 16.

The manager said he had helped Shellie Zimmerman transfer control of George Zimmerman’s account, at one point speaking directly to George Zimmerman by phone.

I have a couple more news links for you:

Top conservative says read my lips: Don’t sign ‘no new tax’ pledge

As a conservative Republican, Lindsey Graham has never had a problem promising not to raise taxes.  Like almost every other Republican member of Congress, he has signed the anti-tax pledge put forth by Grover Norquist’s group Americans for Tax Reform.

But now Graham says the debt crisis is so severe that the tax pledge — which says no tax loopholes can be eliminated unless every dollar raised by closing  loopholes goes to tax cuts — has got to go.

“When you eliminate a deduction, it’s okay with me to use some of that money to get us out of debt. That’s where I disagree with the pledge,” said Graham.

Jeb yesterday…Graham today…hmmmm…

And, remember that post I did about the only newspaper in the city of New Orleans going to digital? Well, here ya go: Times-Picayune lays off nearly one-third of its staff | NOLA.com

Managers at The Times-Picayune are informing more than 200 members of the newspaper staff today that their last day at the company will be Sept. 30. The Times-Picayune, according to company executives, is shrinking its overrall staff — including news, advertising, circulation and other departments — by 32 percent, or 201 employees.

Times-Picayune editor Jim Amoss on announced changes
Times-Picayune editor Jim Amoss on announced changes
Times-Picayune editor Jim Amoss talks about the recently announced changes coming to the newspaper and its online partner, nola.com. Watch video

In the news operation alone, 84 of the 173 people currently employed in the Times-Picayune newsroom were notified Tuesday that they will lose their jobs and be given severance packages.

Finally, I want to leave you with a  couple of cartoons…Mike Luckovich is back!  6/13 Mike Luckovich cartoon: Economic policies | Mike Luckovich

6/12 Mike Luckovich cartoon: Adopt-a-highway | Mike Luckovich


Monday Evening Reads: Clean up on Hwy 515, Burning Crosses Ahead

**Update**

 

Please sign the petition…Human Rights Petition: Don’t Let the KKK Adopt a Highway | Change.org

 

Good Evening

Just a quick post tonight, since I am off visiting my Aunt who is up here in Banjoville on vacation. In fact, tonight’s reads touches on my hometown of Banjoville…we are in the news yet again.

KKK group seeks Adopt-A-Highway OK  

Knighthawk (from left), April Hanson and her husband Harley Hanson, members of the International Keystone Knights Realm of Georgia, perform a traditional Klan salute along the portion of highway they want to adopt allowing them to put up a sign and do litter removal near Blairsville on Sunday, June 10, 2012. Harley Hanson, the Exalted Cyclops of the group, said "how can you say beautiful mountains and streams if trash is piled up on the side of the road."

The Ku Klux Klan wants to “adopt” a stretch of highway in North Georgia, which would allow the white supremacy group to receive official state recognition for cleaning litter from the road, according to records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through an open records request.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is reviewing the May 21 request filed by International Keystone Knights of the KKK in Union County and are set to meet with lawyers from the state attorney general’s office today to decide what to do.

The application — which covers a one-mile stretch of Route 515 in the Appalachian Mountains near the North Carolina border — has placed Georgia officials in a bind. A lengthy legal battle took place in Missouri after that state sought to ban an effort by the KKK to adopt a road there. Missouri eventually lost, with courts holding that the First Amendment prevented the state from denying an applicant because it disagreed with their viewpoint.

This is the same group that is planning a huge KKK rally in Banjoville…at our county courthouse in September…from what I hear, this rally is going to be the 6th such KKK rally in the state this year.  Back to the AJC article,

Harley Hanson, who filed the application and said he is the exalted cyclops of the Klan’s Realm of Georgia, said the group is simply trying to be civic minded.

“We just want to clean up the doggone road,” the 34-year-old electrician from Blairsville, said in an interview with the AJC. “We’re not going to be out there in robes.”

But state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, head of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials called on state officials to reject the application from a “domestic terrorist group” even if it means a costly legal fight.

“This is about membership building and rebranding their name in a public way,” the Atlanta Democrat said of the KKK. “If the state approves [their application] then they are complicit.”

Hanson said if he is denied, he’ll sue and would seek help from the American Civil Liberties Union, which assisted in the Missouri lawsuit.

The move is another way to bring the Klan into mainstream, just as the list of “beliefs” on the KKK site are almost mirrored taking points of the GOP. What I mean is they espouse, prayer in school, closed borders, anti-immigration, drug screening for “welfare” assistance,  pro-life blah…blah…blah.

KKK chapter wants to adopt stretch of Georgia highway

If the Georgia Department of Transportation accepts the application, the KKK would be responsible for cleaning litter on a part of Georgia State Route 515 in the Appalachian Mountains near the North Carolina border.

“All we want to do is adopt a highway,” said April Chambers, the chapter’s secretary. “We’re not doing it for publicity. We’re doing it to keep the mountains beautiful. People throwing trash out on the side of the road … that ain’t right.”

Jill Goldberg, a Georgia DOT spokeswoman, confirmed the application but said, “the department is deferring comment beyond that, however, until a resolution is determined.”

DOT officials will discuss the matter Monday with representatives from the state attorney general’s office, she said.

Chambers continues,

“We’re not racists,” Chambers said Monday. “We just want to be with white people. If that’s a crime, then I don’t know. It’s all right to be black and Latino and proud, but you can’t be white and proud. I don’t understand it.”

[…]

Chambers said the group is more than 100 strong. “We have a lot of support,” she said.

“I don’t see why we can’t (adopt the stretch of highway),” she said. “Would it be any different if it was the Black Panthers or something? Someone always has some kind of race card.”

On its website, the International Keystone Knights of the KKK says it is “fed up with the Federal tyranny and oppression of Reconstruction, and the time was ripe for Clandestine Armed Resistance.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, lists the KKK as “the most infamous — and oldest — of American hate groups.”

“Over the years since it was formed in December 1865, the Klan has typically seen itself as a Christian organization, although in modern times Klan groups are motivated by a variety of theological and political ideologies,” the law center’s website says.

“We’re not a hate group,” Chambers insisted Monday. “We don’t hate anybody. We’re just white people that want to stick with white people. The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) wants to stick with black people. Just because I’m white, I can’t stick with my own group?”

The thing that gets me is that this hate-group is becoming more politically involved, like the KKK member in Pennsylvania that was elected to office a few weeks ago. Steve Smith, White Supremacist, Wins Republican Post With Single Vote

A northeastern Pennsylvania man with longstanding ties to white supremacist groups entered a polling place on primary election day and wrote in his name for a low-level position with the local Republican Party committee.

Steve Smith wound up getting elected with a single vote – his own – and now presents a headache for a GOP that doesn’t want him but might not be able to get rid of him.

Pennsylvania Democrats spread word last week of his April election, linking to a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center that described Smith’s associations with “an extraordinary array of white nationalist, skinhead, and neo-Nazi groups,” including a group formerly known as the Keystone State Skinheads.

It is a scary thing to see this happening so close to home.