Monday Reflections on Martin Luther King

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

Today’s the day we celebrate the contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King and the inspiration of his life, sacrifice, and commitment to civil rights.

I woke up today thinking about the country and neighborhood that I was born into and grew up in.  My father was a Ford Dealer in small town Iowa and I spent my first nursery and grade school years there.  Eisenhower was president when I was born.  JFK was the first president I remember.  I was in second grade when he was assassinated. My second grade teacher came into our classroom with tears to announce it. The first election I remember was between LBJ and Goldwater.

I remember watching two things on the nightly news that was a ritual for our family. The struggle for civil rights unfolding in the south and the reports of the Vietnam war occupied much black and white air time.  Both were horrifying.  I ended my pre-college years in Omaha across the river spending the last years of high school watching the Watergate hearings. I graduated and shortly thereafter, the president resigned.  This is the time line of a baby-boomer born right in the middle times.

The most clear thing that stood out to me as I was growing up and into adulthood where I took my place in the women’s movement and then in the fight against AIDS and discrimination against GLBT was that at the very heart of everything was our creed that  all were ‘created  equal’ and endowed with ‘inalienable’ rights. No one’s life was lived with that creed more in mind than the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King.  I also remember the day he was assassinated and trying to get to my grandfather’s place in Kansas City the long way around the riots.  Some time it takes more sacrifice and anger than we should have to muster to realize those rights.  That was 50 years ago.

Looking back at the Obama presidency and the hope I had that Hillary would also be a first, I remember those days as a kid when the holiday we celebrated was President’s day.  We celebrated Lincoln who saved the Union and freed the slaves.  We celebrated George Washington who could not tell a lie.  Through all of this, my young heart got the message that Presidents could be flawed but the great ones did not lie.  They sought the freedom and dignity that all of us deserved.  They fought in the war against NAZIS and fascism to preserve and establish freedom and dignity for others. They sent Federal Troops to places in America where black men were murdered and black people were denied their basic rights as US citizens because that’s what moved the fight for freedom and dignity along in this country.

The Presidents we celebrated as children were honest and true to our values.  They were celebrated for their humble beginnings, their military service, and–in many cases–their great minds. They established national parks to protect our nation’s lands and created the EPA. Nixon went to China.  Reagan sought out the Soviets to decrease the threat of annihilation by nuclear weapons.  Barack Obama stands in many ways as a monument to the work of King but will most likely be seen as a bright and moral man who led us out of dark economic times with a level head while seeking the establishment of health care for all.

We most often associate Dr King with his “I have a dream” speech and his letters from the Birmingham jail.  But, this was also a man who fought for the dignity of garbage collectors to have a living wage for an honest day’s work.  Our patriotic days celebrate traits of Presidents and heroes fighting for and establishing our shared values. We celebrate their establishment and furtherance as much as we celebrate the men themselves. (This is also why we need a few more patriotic holidays that enfranchise our women heroes and our indigenous peoples. Hint: NO MORE COLUMBUS DAYS)

The deal is this, I always thought that when they told us those stories of “anyone can become” president that it didn’t mean that it was an anyone that “lied”, avoided military service, ruined relations with allies, praised fascists, and gave speeches vilifying those among us that couldn’t join the Klan and recognizing goods on sides for which good does not exist in the American framework.

My children are grown and I no longer have to pass along the country’s folklore. I’m glad because what we see in the placeholder in the oval office today is anathema to all those lessons I learned during the celebration of President’s day in my grade schools and that both my daughters learned in their grade school classrooms during the celebration of MLK day.  Kremlin KKKaligula chops down cherry trees every day and lies about it. Kremlin KKKaligula seeks to send our minorities back into servitude. His speeches are of Dreams of White Supremacy.  He is way beyond a flawed man.  He daily violates  our shared values and looks towards their destruction.

He has to go.  One way or another. Many people sacrificed so we could vote and this is the year that we show Martin Luther King that his fight to get voting rights and that his sacrifices were not in vain. I usually think of my grandmothers when I vote because I know they could not vote until well into their middle age.  This November, I will hold up the promise of Dr Martin Luther King’s Dream and vote for everything that he lived and died for.   Join me and get others to do so too.  We need not just a blue wave. We need a rainbow wave. We need a colors of the earth wave.

Here are some reads that you might like.

From Electric Literature:  “11 Incredible Books by Writers from ‘Shithole’ Countries. Let’s celebrate just a few of the amazing authors the president says he wouldn’t want in the U.S.”

But it’s a good reminder to celebrate the work of writers from Africa, and from Haiti, El Salvador, and other protected-status countries. As writers, readers, and human beings, we would all be intellectually impoverished by the lack of these voices. Here are some of our favorite novels, memoirs, and poetry by authors from the countries Trump disdains, many of whom celebrate their complicated homelands in their work.

And, from a patron of the Seattle Public Library: “Sh**hole Countries”: a Reading List.”

Our sh*t-for-brains 45th President doesn’t read, but you do! Explore some of the places and cultures he’s maligned, learn history he’s ignorant of, and see the world through the eyes of people whose lives he regards as worthless. Resist hate-mongering and race-baiting, and experience the world and your fellow human beings in ways that only someone not wholly devoid of curiosity, empathy, and functional literacy truly can! *Note: This list is not a publication of the Seattle Public Library, nor intended to be presented on its behalf. It was created on a patron account, outside the library, in the same manner that any library patron can do. (I encourage library patrons everywhere to create and share their own lists!) The Bibliocommons software tags all such lists with its creator’s home library. I apologize for any confusion: it was never my intention to present this list on the Library’s behalf.

From New York Magazine and the Jonathan Chait: “Why Republicans Love Dumb Presidents”.

Rather than segregate questions about Trump’s brain away from the broader partisan debate, they dissolve the former into the latter. They believe that Trump’s being called dumb by the intellectual elite is intimately connected to his political identity. This belief is largely correct. As it has moved farther and farther right, the Republican Party has grown increasingly anti-intellectual. Trump’s base adores him, not despite his obvious mental limitations, but because of them.

Two caveats are in order. First, many intelligent people have conservative values, and rationally support the Republican Party. Second, while Trump’s lack of mental aptitude may be similar to that of previous Republican leaders in kind, it is very different in degree. That said, Trump’s flamboyant ignorance and disdain for intellectual standards are very much in keeping with modern conservative politics.

From the SF Chronicle:   “Airbnb loses thousands of hosts in SF as registration rules kick in.”

Thousands of San Francisco hosts on Airbnb and rival home-stay sites have stopped renting their homes and rooms to tourists. Many others are scrambling to register their vacation rentals with the city as a Tuesday deadline looms for Airbnb and HomeAway to kick off unregistered hosts.

From the NYT:

Trump’s Racism, a definitive list. (

The media often falls back on euphemisms when describing Trump’s comments about race: racially loaded, racially charged, racially tinged, racially sensitive. And Trump himself has claimed that he is “the least racist person.” But here’s the truth: Donald Trump is a racist. He talks about and treats people differently based on their race. He has done so for years, and he is still doing so.

Trump is a Racist, PERIOD.  (CHARLES M.BLOW)

Racism is simply the belief that race is an inherent and determining factor in a person’s or a people’s character and capabilities, rendering some inferior and others superior. These beliefs are racial prejudices.

The history of America is one in which white people used racism and white supremacy to develop a racial caste system that advantaged them and disadvantaged others.

Understanding this, it is not a stretch to understand that Donald Trump’s words and deeds over the course of his life have demonstrated a pattern of expressing racial prejudices that demean people who are black and brown and that play to the racial hostilities of other white people.

The Heartbeat of Racism Is Denial   (IBRAM X. KENDI)

Mental health experts routinely say that denial is among the most common defense mechanisms. Denial is how the person defends his superior sense of self, her racially unequal society.

Denial is how America defends itself as superior to “shithole countries” in Africa and elsewhere, as President Trump reportedly described them in a White House meeting last week, although he has since, well, denied that. It’s also how America defends itself as superior to those “developing countries” in Africa, to quote how liberal opponents of Mr. Trump might often describe them.

Mr. Trump appears to be unifying America — unifying Americans in their denial. The more racist Mr. Trump sounds, the more Trump country denies his racism, and the more his opponents look away from their own racism to brand Trump country as racist. Through it all, America remains a unified country of denial.
The reckoning of Mr. Trump’s racism must become the reckoning of American racism. Because the American creed of denial — “I’m not a racist” — knows no political parties, no ideologies, no colors, no regions.

So, what do we tell our American children? What does the world tell theirs about US?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Saturday Morning Lite

Syria War Room, by Steve Sack

Syria War Room, by Steve Sack

Good Morning!!

 

I don’t know about you, but I really missed JJ’s Friday Night Lite post last night, so I thought I’d start out Sky Dancing’s Saturday with some political cartoons. I hope you enjoy these — courtesy of Cagle Post.

A few more on Syria:

 

Assad Chemicals by Steve Sack

Assad Chemicals by Steve Sack

 

Assad Chemical Weapons, by Mike Keefe

Assad Chemical Weapons, by Mike Keefe

 

Syria Plan by Rick McKee

Syria Plan by Rick McKee

 

The Anti-War Left by Eric Allie

The Anti-War Left by Eric Allie

 

Syria and Affleck by John Cole

Syria and Affleck by John Cole

 

Cameron's Failure, by Rainer Hatchfeld

Cameron’s Failure, by Rainer Hatchfeld

 

March on Washington 50th Anniversary:

 

I Have A Dream Anniversary, by Nate Beeler

I Have A Dream Anniversary, by Nate Beeler

 

MLK Nightmare by Jeff Darcy

MLK Nightmare by Jeff Darcy

 

Dreamer, by Adam Zyglis

Dreamer, by Adam Zyglis

 

Labor Day and Income Inequality

 

Fast Food Minimum Wage, by Jimmy Margulies

Fast Food Minimum Wage, by Jimmy Margulies

 

Labor Day Jobs, by Jeff Parker

Labor Day Jobs, by Jeff Parker

 

NFL Concussion Lawsuit

 

NFL Concussion Lawsuit, by Bruce Plante

NFL Concussion Lawsuit, by Bruce Plante

 

Immigration Reform

 

Immigration Reform, by Mike Lukovich

Immigration Reform, by Mike Lukovich

 

I hope everyone has a wonderful Labor Day weekend!! And if you’re not out on the beach or doing something else more exciting, please post links to the stories you’re following today in the comment thread.


Thursday Reads: Civil Rights Struggle, Syria Intervention, NYPD Spying, Boston Bombing, and “League of Denial”

Withers_07

Good Morning!!

I’ve got so much news for you this morning, I don’t know if I’ll have room in a reasonable-length post, so I’ll get right to it. I’ll begin with some stories on yesterday’s 50th anniversary of the March On Washington.

PBS had an amazing interview with Rep John Lewis in which he recounted his memories of that day in 1963 and the speech he gave as a youthful leader in the Civil Rights Movement: ‘I Felt That We Had to Be Tough’: John Lewis Remembers the March on Washington. I hope you’ll read the whole thing, but here’s a brief excerpt:

REP. JOHN LEWIS, D-Ga.: On that day, I was blessed.

I felt like I had been tracked down by some force or some spirit. I will never forget when A. Philip Randolph said, “I now present to you young John Lewis, the national chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.”

And I went to the podium. I looked to my right. I saw many, many young people, staffers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, volunteers. Then I looked to my left. I saw all these young people up in the trees, trying to get a better view of the podium.

Then I looked straight ahead. And I saw so many people with their feet in the water trying to cool off. And then I said to myself, this is it, and I went for it.

On meeting with President Kennedy before the March, and how the podium and the crowd came to be so diverse:

He [JFK] didn’t like the idea of a March on Washington.

When we met with him, A. Philip Randolph spoke up in his baritone voice we met with the president. And he said, “Mr. President, the black masses are restless. And we are going to march on Washington.”

And you could tell by the movement of President Kennedy — he started moving and twisting in his chair. And he said, in effect, that if you bring all these people to Washington, won’t it be violence and chaos and disorder?

Mr. Randolph responded and said, “Mr. President, there’s been orderly, peaceful, nonviolent protests.”

And President Kennedy said, in so many words, I think we are going to have problems. So we left that meeting with President Kennedy. We came out on the lawn at the White House and spoke to the media and said, we had a meaningful and productive meeting with the president of the United States. And we told him we’re going to March on Washington.

And a few days later, July 2, 1963, the six of us met in New York City at the old Roosevelt Hotel. And in that meeting, we made a decision to invite four major white religious and labor leaders to join us in issuing the call for the March on Washington.

American folk singer and activist Pete Seeger (left) adopted and helped popularize "We Shall Overcome" by teaching the song at rallies and protests. Here he sings with activists in Greenwood, Miss., in 1963. (NPR)

American folk singer and activist Pete Seeger (left) adopted and helped popularize “We Shall Overcome” by teaching the song at rallies and protests. Here he sings with activists in Greenwood, Miss., in 1963. (NPR)

NPR had a wonderful story yesterday about the history of the Civil Rights Movement’s signature song: The Inspiring Force Of ‘We Shall Overcome’.

It is not a marching song. It is not necessarily defiant. It is a promise: “We shall overcome someday. Deep in my heart, I do believe.”

It has been a civil rights song for 50 years now, heard not just in the U.S. but in North Korea, in Beirut, in Tiananmen Square, in South Africa’s Soweto Township. But “We Shall Overcome” began as a folk song, a work song. Slaves in the fields would sing, ‘I’ll be all right someday.’ It became known in the churches. A Methodist minister, Charles Albert Tindley, published a version in 1901: “I’ll Overcome Someday.”

The first political use came in 1945 in Charleston, S.C. There was a strike against the American Tobacco Co. The workers wanted a raise; they were making 45 cents an hour. They marched and sang together on the picket line, “We will overcome, and we will win our rights someday.”

There’s much more about how the song was passed from group to group and changed over time. Please give it a listen–it’s only about 8 minutes long, but really fascinating.

Not a single Republican appeared at yesterday’s commemoration of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. George W. Bush and his father George H.W. Bush couldn’t come because of health issues, but John Boehner and Eric Cantor are presumably in good health, but they refused offers to make speeches at the event, according to Roll Call.

That wasn’t a wise choice, said Julian Bond, a renowned civil rights activist, in an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday afternoon.

“What’s really telling, I think, is the podium behind me, just count at the end of the day how many Republicans will be there,” Bond told news anchor Alex Wagner. “They asked senior President Bush to come, he was ill. They asked junior Bush, he said he had to stay with his father.

“They asked a long list of Republicans to come,” Bond continued, “and to a man and woman they said ‘no.’ And that they would turn their backs on this event was telling of them, and the fact that they seem to want to get black votes, they’re not gonna get ‘em this way.” [….]

Cantor’s decision to turn down the invitation to speak is especially striking given his stated commitment to passing a rewrite of the Voting Rights Act in the 113th Congress, and the many opportunities he has taken over the past several weeks to publicly reflect on the experience of traveling with Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., to Selma, Ala.

Sadly, Dr. King’s dream of peace has not made much progress in the past 50 years. And now the U.S. and its allies are considering another military intervention–in Syria.

Fortunately, the UK is now hesitating. NYT: Britain to Wait on Weapons Report Ahead of Syria Strikes.

Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, who runs a coalition government, is facing political difficulties from legislators mindful of the experience in Iraq, when assurances from Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George W. Bush that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction proved inaccurate and a false pretext for war.

Mr. Cameron bowed on Wednesday to pressure from the opposition Labour Party and to some within his own coalition who want to allow United Nations weapons inspectors a chance to report their findings and for the United Nations Security Council to make one more effort to give a more solid legal backing to military action against Damascus.

At BBC News, Nick Robinson explains why Cameron “buckled.”

If you think that NSA domestic spying is invasive, you should take a look at what the NYPD has been up to since 9/11. Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman of the AP have a new book out called Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD’s Secret Spying Unit and bin Laden’s Final Plot Against America. There’s an excerpt at New York Magazine: The NYPD Division of Un-American Activities. It’s long, but a very important story. Please give it a read if you can.

Yesterday Apuzzo and Goldman published a related shocking story at AP: NYPD designates mosques as terrorism organizations.

The New York Police Department has secretly labeled entire mosques as terrorist organizations, a designation that allows police to use informants to record sermons and spy on imams, often without specific evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Designating an entire mosque as a terrorism enterprise means that anyone who attends prayer services there is a potential subject of an investigation and fair game for surveillance.

Since the 9/11 attacks, the NYPD has opened at least a dozen “terrorism enterprise investigations” into mosques, according to interviews and confidential police documents. The TEI, as it is known, is a police tool intended to help investigate terrorist cells and the like.

Many TEIs stretch for years, allowing surveillance to continue even though the NYPD has never criminally charged a mosque or Islamic organization with operating as a terrorism enterprise.

The documents show in detail how, in its hunt for terrorists, the NYPD investigated countless innocent New York Muslims and put information about them in secret police files. As a tactic, opening an enterprise investigation on a mosque is so potentially invasive that while the NYPD conducted at least a dozen, the FBI never did one, according to interviews with federal law enforcement officials.

Tsarnaev
Boston Magazine has published more photos from “Behind the Scenes of The Hunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.”  Above is a photo of Tsarnaev exiting the boat in which he hid for hours as law enforcement searched all over Watertown for him. See more photos at the link.

In more hopeful news, one long-hospitalized survivor of the bombings was given the go-ahead to return home to California yesterday: Boston Marathon bomb survivor John Odom set to return home to Torrance (Daily Breeze News).

Nearly five months after a bomb almost took his life at the Boston Marathon, John Odom of Torrance was cleared by doctors on Wednesday to finally come home.

Odom’s wife, Karen, who has never left her husband’s side, has been chronicling her husband’s long recovery on Facebook, called it a “monumental” day.

“It’s official, John is released to go home!!!” she posted on the John Odom Support Page. “Although his recovery is nowhere near complete, there is no medical or physical reason he can’t fly home and continue his recovery in California. We are hoping to be home the end of next week, a few days shy of 5 months since we left on that now famous 4 day trip.”

“Famous” is one way to put it. The couple could have never imagined the journey they’ve been on since April 15.

Read the rest of this moving story at the link.

On October 8th and 15th, NPR’s Frontline plans to show League of Denial,a two-part two-part investigation examining whether — as thousands of former players allege — the NFL has covered up the risks of football on the brain.” The documentary has so far been produced in partnership with ESPN, but last week the sports channel backed out of the collaboration presumably because of pressure from the NFL. From The New Republic: ESPN Quit Its Concussions Investigation With ‘Frontline’ Under Curious Circumstances.

“Frontline,” the prestigious, multiple-Emmy-winning investigative news show produced by Boston’s PBS member station, announced late Thursday afternoon that a 15-month-old partnership with ESPN in which they published a series of pieces exploring how the National Football League has (and has not) accounted for the relationship between playing football, head trauma, and brain damage, had come to an end. Dating back to last November, “Frontline” had run articles on its site featuring the work of Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada, ESPN staffers (and brothers) even as these articles appeared at espn.com and as the brothers did segments for ESPN’s award-winning investigative series “Outside the Lines.” The end result—in addition to abook that the brothers are publishing in October—was to be a “Frontline” documentary, League of Denial (also the book’s title).

According to “Frontline,” the documentary will premiere this season on October 8 and 15, but, “from now on, at ESPN’s request, we will no longer use their logos and collaboration credit on these sites and on our upcoming film.” Executive producer David Fanning and deputy executive producer Raney Aronson expressed their “regret” and credited ESPN with “a productive partnership.” They added, “The film is still being edited and has not been seen by ESPN news executives, although we were on schedule to share it with them for their editorial input.”

Aronson told me late Thursday that ESPN contacted “Frontline” last Friday to request that it remove ESPN’s logo from its website, citing the technicality that it was a “trademark issue.” It wasn’t until Monday, after the latest collaboration was published on “Frontline”’s website and aired on “OTL,” that ESPN also requested that language describing collaboration not be used, and that it became clear the collaboration itself was coming to an end.

The circumstances are indeed mysterious. Perhaps it was over-cautiousness on ESPN’s part or perhaps indirect pressure from the League. If you’re interested in this important story, go read Marc Tracy’s piece at TNR.

A couple more useful links on this story:

PBS: Questions Over NFL Doctor Cloud League’s Concussion Case

Bill Littlefield at NPR’s Only a Game: ESPN And Frontline Part Ways Over ‘League Of Denial’

The authors of the book League of Denial will continue their involvement with the Frontline presentation.

I’m running out of space, so I’ll end there, and add a few more links in the comments. Now what stories are you following today? Please share your links in the thread below.


Saturday Morning Open Thread: Libertarians Are Not Our Friends

color-rand-paul-ron-web

Good Morning!!

Sorry I’m posting this so late today. I’ve been pondering some issues that have been troubling me for a long time, and I keep getting stuck about how to write about them.

I’m beginning to see the libertarian influence on so-called “progressives” as a very serious problem for the future of our country. Here’s a somewhat incoherent beginning to a discussion of this problem. I’m putting this out there in the hope that I’ll get some feedback from you that will help me sort this out. So here goes…

Partial transcript:

“I’m a big admirer of Ron Paul and Rand Paul for their very principled positions in the U.S. Congress on a number of issues. They have been the strongest supporters of the fight against the U.S. attacks on Wikileaks and on me in the U.S. Congress. Similarly, they have been the strongest opponents of drone warfare and extrajudicial executions.

And so, that’s quite an interesting phenomenon in the United States. The position of the libertarian Republican–or a better description [right?]–coming from a principle of nonviolence, the American libertarian, that produces interesting results.

So, nonviolence, not going to invade a foreign country. Nonviolence, don’t force people at the barrel of a gun to serve in the U.S. Army [?? The U.S. doesn’t have a draft]. Nonviolence, don’t extort taxes from people to the Federal government, with a [policeman?]….

Similarly, other acts of nonviolence in relation to abortion that they hold. I think that some of these positions that are held by Ron Paul…I can see how they come from the same underlying libertarian principle. I think the world is often more complex. By taking a laid out principle but sometimes simplistic position, you end up undermining the principle. In the short term, visions of the principle are one thing, visions of the principle…it’s quite hard to know [inaudible].

A few comments…

It’s not clear to me whether Assange supports the Paul’s position on abortion, but clearly it’s a side issue for him–not nearly as important as the Paul’s support of Wikileaks and Assange himself, since he later said that both political parties have been compromised and the only hope for the future comes from the libertarian portion of the Republican Party. HuffPo:

He then put forth an argument against both established political parties in Washington, claiming that nearly all Democrats had been “co-opted” by President Barack Obama’s administration, while Republicans were almost entirely “in bed with the war industry.”

The current libertarian strain of political thought in the Republican Party was the “the only hope” for American electoral politics, Assange concluded.

Assange sees federal taxes as “extortion.” I assume that includes the payroll taxes that support Social Security and Medicare. He never mentions social programs at all; as a libertarian he probably opposes them. This is in line with other libertarians who are leading the fight against the U.S. government keeping any secrets whatsoever, e.g., Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden, Conor Frierdersdorf, and David Sirota (I’ll have more about this in a later post).

Not only does Assange not know that the U.S. doesn’t have a military draft, he’s pretty mixed up about recent U.S. history. In praising right wing racist news aggregator Matt Drudge, Assange said, via Raw Story:

“Matt Drudge is a news media innovator. And he took off about eight years ago in response to the Monica Lewinsky scandal.”

(Eight years ago was 2005, the first year of George W. Bush’s second term, when President Bill Clinton had been out of office for five years and the Lewinsky scandal and subsequent failed impeachment attempt were a matter of history.)

Assange claimed that Drudge made his name by “publishing information that the establishment media would not. It is as a result of the self-censorship of the establishment press in the United States that gave Matt Drudge such a platform and so of course he should be applauded for breaking a lot of that censorship.”

Assange says he supports non-violence. I’d like to point out that in U.S. history, one of the leading advocates of nonviolence and civil disobedience was a man named Martin Luther King. Fifty years ago King led a “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.” But Assange favors the Pauls’ notion of “nonviolence.” (Assange doesn’t appear to know that Ron and Rand Paul are the recipients of vast corporate donations from the defense industry.) I wonder if Assange knows that Ron and Rand Paul oppose Civil Rights laws? I wonder if he cares?

Julian Assange–along with Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald–is currently the idol of the “emoprogs” who have become so distracted by the NSA leaks story that they don’t even notice that Republicans have a very good chance of retaking the Senate next year. These supposed “leftists” have forgotten all about jobs, protecting social programs, women’s rights, civil rights, economic inequality, and our crumbling infrastructure in order to follow a handful of privileged, young white male libertarian pied pipers who are focused only on their own personal “liberties.”


Monday Reads: Political Ink

Clinton

Good Morning!

Here’s a little bit of this and that to get  your political juices flowing for the week.

The NYT profiles potential FED chair candidate La La Summers as some one that has many flaws but much power and personal wealth.  He has the credentials and the connections but does he really have the gravitas for the job?

Mr. Summers’s wealth comes mainly from two periods of private sector work between government postings. After a lengthy tenure at the Treasury Department in the 1990s, he became the president of Harvard — a job that Robert E. Rubin, who preceded Mr. Summers as Treasury secretary, helped him obtain.

But in 2006, Mr. Summers was forced out of the university presidency for a variety of reasons, including remarks he made questioning why few women engage in advanced scientific and mathematical work. Soon after, a young Harvard alum brought him into the hedge fund world with a part-time posting at D. E. Shaw. That firm, one of the largest in the industry, paid Mr. Summers more than $5 million.

Mr. Summers’s wealth soared from around $400,000 in the mid-1990s to between $7 million and $31 million in 2009, when he joined the Obama administration, according to a financial disclosure he filed at the time. Before returning to government service, he earned $2.7 million from speeches in one year alone.

As for his current work, representatives for Citigroup, Nasdaq and D. E. Shaw declined to disclose his pay. His speaking rates today run into the six figures, according to an associate who spoke on the condition of anonymity, and Mr. Summers has spoken to Wall Street companies like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup.

The job that is likely to generate the most scrutiny for Mr. Summers is his work with Citigroup, which was rescued from the brink of bankruptcy by the federal government’s bailout. Though he does not have an office there, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said he was a regular consultant. In a statement, Citigroup said he provided “insight on a broad range of topics including the global and domestic economy” to prestigious clients, and attended internal meetings.

Citigroup hired Mr. Summers in part to advise Vikram S. Pandit, who resigned as chief executive last year. With his work there, Mr. Summers followed in the footsteps of his friend, Mr. Rubin, who joined Citigroup after he left the government and earned more than $100 million.

Another political analyst–this one writing for Bloomberg–thinks that the Republicans are inching towards civil war and that the next election may look like n0d9jfk1964.  The focus has been on the Paul-Christie rift.

As Republicans continue to sort through their future, having lost the popular vote for president in five of the last six elections, they are having intramural battles with echoes of 1964, when Barry Goldwater won the nomination at a convention rife with division over the role of the U.S. in the world and civil rights at home. Derided as an extremist, he went on to lose to President Lyndon Johnson in a landslide.

Now, Republicans are squabbling over the National Security Agency surveillance program, immigration and gay marriage. The Christie-Paul rift last week highlighted the divide, with the governor calling the senator’s criticism of the NSA program “dangerous” and the Kentuckian responding that his critic must have forgotten the Bill of Rights.

“It’s always healthy to have discussions from different wings of the party as the party works on its identity going into the midterms,” said LaTourette, who chose not to seek re-election to Congress in 2012 citing the extreme positions among some of his Republican colleagues. “It wouldn’t be so healthy if this was next year or 2015 and the focus is on who the presidential nominee will be.

Martin Luther King III has a written a book on what it meant to grow up the footsteps of his father. Even better, you can get it to read with your child or grandchildren because it is written for children!!  You can read about or listen to an NPR interview with King here.

Martin Luther King III recounts this and other stories from his childhood in his new children’s book, My Daddy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Martin Luther King III had been thinking about writing about his child’s-eye view of his father for almost a decade, but the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington became a personal deadline. The book, written for young children, has just been published, three weeks ahead of the anniversary.

Now Martin Luther King III and his wife, Andrea, have a 5-year-old daughter, Yolanda Renée. She was named for Martin Luther King III’s oldest sister, who died suddenly in 2006. In the book, young Martin Luther King III tells readers about the games he played with his father.

Martin Luther King III also retells stories of accompanying his father on marches from time to time. On one, they were confronted by a police officer “with a huge dog that growled at me. I was terrified.” That is, he was scared until his dad took his hand and told him they would be fine.

“I felt safe. My dad was not a tall man, but he always made me feel like he was a giant. I was never afraid when I was with him,” Martin Luther King III writes.

Long after his father’s death, Martin Luther King III has had to deal with others’ expectations that he would take up the cause. King is deeply grateful that decades ago, his mother relieved him of some of that pressure.

“You don’t have to be your father,” Coretta Scott King told him. “Just be your best self, whatever that is. We are going to support you.”

BushFootTattoo

This has to be the worst use of tax dollars that I’ve seen in years. A report shows State-Funded Crisis Pregnancy Centers Talk Women Out Of Birth Control and Condoms. Is this really the way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions?

When a woman walked into a state-funded “crisis pregnancy center” in Manassas, Va., this summer and told the counselor she might be pregnant, she was told that condoms don’t actually prevent STDs and that birth control frequently causes hair loss, memory loss, headaches, weight gain, fatal blood clots and breast cancer.

“The first three ingredients in the birth control pill are carcinogens,” the CPC counselor said, adding that she always tries to talk women out of taking it.

The counselor also told the woman that condoms are not effective at preventing pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases because they are “naturally porous.”

“Safe sex is a joke,” she said. “There’s no such thing.”

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia recorded the exchange, released Wednesday, as part of its undercover investigation into the 58 state-funded “crisis pregnancy centers” in Virginia. The organizations are part of a national network of about 2,500 Christian centers that advertise health and pregnancy services, but do not offer abortions, contraception or prenatal care. Instead, they are intended to talk women out of having abortions and to advocate abstinence until marriage.

These organizations receive state money through the sale of “Choose Life” license plates at the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s Republican gubernatorial candidate, sponsored the legislation that established that fundraising system during his time in the state senate.

NARAL sent undercover women into several crisis pregnancy centers throughout Virginia and recorded their interactions. The investigation revealed that 71 percent of the CPCs in Virginia give out medically inaccurate information about the health consequences and effectiveness of birth control, condoms and abortion.

According to the report, in addition to criticizing the use of birth control and condoms, 40 of the CPCs told women that abortion causes long-term psychological damage and leads women to develop eating disorders and drug addictions. One counselor allegedly told NARAL’s undercover investigator that if she was a certain blood type, the abortion could cause her body to create antibodies that would attack her fetus the next time she tried to get pregnant.

Greg Mitchell recalls interviewing the man that dropped the A-Bomb on Hiroshima in this blog post.

Paul W. Tibbets, pilot of the plane, the “Enola Gay” (named for his mother), which dropped the atomic bomb over Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. died at 92 in 2007,  defending the bombing to the end of his life. Some of the obits noted that he had requested no funeral or headstone for his grave, not wishing to create an opportunity for protestors to gather.

I had a chance to interview Tibbets nearly 30 years ago, and wrote about it for several newspapers and magazines and in the book I wrote with Robert Jay Lifton, Hiroshima in America.

The hook for the interview was this: While spending a month in Japan on a grant in 1984, I met a man named Akihiro Takahashi. He was one of the many child victims of the atomic attack, but unlike most of them, he survived (though with horrific burns and other injuries), and grew up to become a director of the memorial museum in Hiroshima. The August 6 bombing led to the deaths of at least 75,000 people in a flash and at least that many more in the days and years that followed. At least 90% of them were civilians, mainly women and children.

Takahashi showed me personal letters to and from Tibbets, which had led to a remarkable meeting between the two elderly men in Washington, D.C. At that recent meeting, Takahashi expressed forgiveness, admitted Japan?s aggression and cruelty in the war, and then pressed Tibbets to acknowledge that the indiscriminate bombing of civilians was always wrong.

But the pilot (who had not met one of the Japanese survivors previously) was non-committal in his response, while volunteering that wars were a very bad idea in the nuclear age. Takahashi swore he saw a tear in the corner of one of Tibbets’ eyes.

So, on May 6, 1985, I called Tibbets at his office at Executive Jet Aviation in Columbus, Ohio, and in surprisingly short order, he got on the horn. He confirmed the meeting with Takahashi (he agreed to do that only out of “courtesy”) and most of the details, but scoffed at the notion of shedding any tears over the bombing. That was, in fact, “bullshit.”
“I’ve got a standard answer on that,” he informed me, referring to guilt. “I felt nothing about i.” .I’m sorry for Takahashi and the others who got burned up down there, but I felt sorry for those who died at Pearl Harbor, too….People get mad when I say this but — it was as impersonal as could be. There wasn’t anything personal as far as I?m concerned, so I had no personal part in it.

“It wasn’t my decision to make morally, one way or another. I did what I was told — I didn’t invent the bomb, I just dropped the damn thing. It was a success, and that’s where I?ve left it. I can assure you that I sleep just as peacefully as anybody can sleep.”  When August 6 rolled around each year “sometimes people have to tell me. To me it’s just another day.”

So, we have a few Texas Sky Dancers here. This Guardian article on Texas being all Oil and no Water is kind’ve frightening.

Beverly McGuire saw the warning signs before the town well went dry: sand in the toilet bowl, the sputter of air in the tap, a pump working overtime to no effect. But it still did not prepare her for the night last month when she turned on the tap and discovered the tiny town where she had made her home for 35 years was out of water.

“The day that we ran out of water I turned on my faucet and nothing was there and at that moment I knew the whole of Barnhart was down the tubes,” she said, blinking back tears. “I went: ‘dear God help us. That was the first thought that came to mind.”

Across the south-west, residents of small communities like Barnhart are confronting the reality that something as basic as running water, as unthinking as turning on a tap, can no longer be taken for granted.

Three years of drought, decades of overuse and now the oil industry’s outsize demands on water for fracking are running down reservoirs and underground aquifers. And climate change is making things worse.

In Texas alone, about 30 communities could run out of water by the end of the year, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Nearly 15 million people are living under some form of water rationing, barred from freely sprinkling their lawns or refilling their swimming pools. In Barnhart’s case, the well appears to have run dry because the water was being extracted for shale gas fracking.

The town — a gas station, a community hall and a taco truck – sits in the midst of the great Texan oil rush, on the eastern edge of the Permian basin.

A few years ago, it seemed like a place on the way out. Now McGuire said she can see nine oil wells from her back porch, and there are dozens of RVs parked outside town, full of oil workers.

But soon after the first frack trucks pulled up two years ago, the well on McGuire’s property ran dry.

No-one in Barnhart paid much attention at the time, and McGuire hooked up to the town’s central water supply. “Everyone just said: ‘too bad’. Well now it’s all going dry,” McGuire said.

Ranchers dumped most of their herds. Cotton farmers lost up to half their crops. The extra draw down, coupled with drought, made it impossible for local ranchers to feed and water their herds, said Buck Owens. In a good year, Owens used to run 500 cattle and up to 8,000 goats on his 7,689 leased hectares (19,000 acres). Now he’s down to a few hundred goats.

The drought undoubtedly took its toll but Owens reserved his anger for the contractors who drilled 104 water wells on his leased land, to supply the oil companies.

 

So, what is on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads

T1587384_05Good Morning!Today is the day we remember Martin Luther King and it’s the day for the formal inauguration ceremony for President Barack Obama.

John Nichols–writing at The Nation–believes that “This President Can—and Must—Claim a Mandate to Govern“.

With his second inauguration, Barack Obama will become the first president since Dwight Eisenhower to renew his tenure after having won more than 51 percent of the vote in two consecutive elections.

More importantly, in a political sense, he will be the first Democrat since Franklin Delano Roosevelt to have won mandates from the majority of the American people in two consecutive elections.

This is the perspective that Americans should bring to the inaugural festivities. We should expect a great deal from Barack Obama. Despite four years of battering by Fox and Limbaugh and the Tea Party and Mitch McConnell, he has been re-elected with a higher percentage of the popular vote than John Kennedy in 1960, Richard Nixon in 1968, Jimmy Carter in 1976, Ronald Reagan in 1980, Bill Clinton in 1992 or 1996 or George Bush in 2000 or 2004.

Obama’s mandate extends beyond himself.  His party has increased its Senate majority and Democrats earned 1.4 million more votes in House races than Republicans. Gerrymandering and money kept Republican control of the House, but that opposition party is in such disarray that the president really does have an opening to make something of his mandate.

Obama must seize that opportunity as an essential part of making the case for bold executive orders and a bold legislative agenda that will bring not just the hope but the change he promised in what now seems like a very distant 2008 campaign. The president has in the transition period since the 2012 election displayed a willingness to push harder, to go bigger, and it has yielded significant progress not just on gun-safety issues but in the long struggle against the Republican austerity agenda that makes a diety of deregulating away consumer and environmental protections, tearing the social safety net and cutting taxes for wealthy campaign donors.

To consolidate that progress, and to assure that his second term will be as visionary and activist as his 2012 campaign promised, Obama must, like FDR, use every opportunity to give voice to the agenda- not just in his inaugural address but in his February 12 (Lincoln’s Birthday) State of the Union address.

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Many things have become political footballs these days.  The bodies, abuse, and rape of women.  The idea that taxpayer money should be used to support religious indoctrination or profiting from educating our children.  Even Science, so much at the center of a lot things we were proud of in the 20th century,has become political.  Are there any dangers in this? Dr. Puneet Opal presents his case at The Atlantic.

Over the past few years, and particularly in the past few months, there seems to be a growing gulf between U.S Republicans and science. Indeed, by some polls only 6 percent of scientists are Republican, and in the recent U.S. Presidential election, 68 science Nobel Prize winners endorsed the Democratic nominee Barack Obama over the Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

As a scientist myself, this provokes the question: What are the reasons for this apparent tilt?

Some of this unease might be because of the feeling that the Republicans might cut federal science spending. The notion is certainly not helped by news-making rhetoric of some Republicans against evolution in favor of creationism; unsubstantiated claims that immunization aimed at preventing future cervical cancer cause mental retardation in young girls; and unscientific views of how the female body can prevent pregnancies under conditions of rape.

These comments might represent heartfelt beliefs of the leaders in question; however, some might simply be statements designed to placate the anti-science sections of their base, as part of the political calculus.

A recent opinion in the leading science journal Nature, written by Daniel Sarewitz, a co-director of the Consortium for Science Policy and Outcomes at Arizona State University, suggests that this polarization of scientists away from the Republicans is bad news. Surprisingly — as he tells it — most of the bad news is the potential impact on scientists. Why? Because scientists, he believes — once perceived by Republicans to be a Democratic interest group — will lose bipartisan support for federal science funding. In other words, they will be threatened with funding cuts. Moreover, when they attempt to give their expert knowledge for policy decisions, conservatives will choose to ignore the evidence, claiming a liberal bias.

The comments of Sarewitz might be considered paranoid thinking on the part of a policy wonk, but he backs up his statement by suggesting a precedent: the social sciences, he feels, have already received this treatment at the hands of conservatives in government by making pointed fingers at their funding. Therefore he says that a sufficient number of scientists must be seen to also support Republicans for the sake of being bipartisan. To be fair to Republicans, no politician has actually targeted science funding in this vindictive manner. But this assessment only goes to show how science is quickly becoming a political football.

I would argue that this sort of thinking might well be bad for scientists, but is simply dangerous for the country. As professionals, scientists should not be put into a subservient place by politicians and ideologues. They should never be felt that their advice might well be attached to carrots or sticks.

Democratic Economists outnumber Republicans by 2.5 to 1.  No wonder many Republicans home school their children and use specious textbooks.

The President was sworn in quietly on Sunday on the day mandated by the Constitution.

With only his family beside him, Barack Hussein Obama was sworn into office for a second term on Sunday in advance of Monday’s public pomp, facing a bitterly divided government at home and persistent threats abroad that inhibit his effort to redefine America’s use of power.

It was a brief and intimate moment in the White House, held because of a quirk of the calendar that placed the constitutionally mandated start of the new term on a Sunday.

But the low-key event seemed to capture tempered expectations after four years of economic troubles and near-constant partisan confrontation. And it presaged a formal inauguration on Monday that will be less of a spectacle than the first one, when the nation’s first black president embodied hope and change for many Americans at a time of financial struggle and war.

For Monday’s festivities, with the traditional parade, balls and not least the re-enacted swearing-in outside the Capitol, there will be fewer parties and fewer people swarming the National Mall; organizers expect less than half the 1.8 million people who flocked to the city last time.

Once the parties end, Mr. Obama’s second-term challenges are formidable, not least given his ambitious priorities of addressing the national debt, illegal immigration and gun violence.

The economy, while recovering steadily, remains fragile. The unemployment rate is as high as it was in January 2009, though it is down from the 10 percent peak reached late that year, and there is no consensus with Republicans about additional stimulus measures — or virtually anything else.

And as the terrorist attack in Algeria last week illustrated, Mr. Obama continues to confront threats around the globe, both from state actors like Iran and North Korea and from Qaeda-inspired extremists seeking to exploit power vacuums in the Mideast and across Africa and Asia.

It’s been 50 years since Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his “I’ve Got a Dream” Speech. 

The speech he delivered the next day — Aug. 28, 1963 — rocked the nation, as King challenged America to live up to the ideas of justice and equality it professed to cherish.

Fifty years later, the “I Have A Dream” speech is still widely regarded as the most powerful and significant speech of the 20th Century.

As the nation celebrates King’s birthday today, the speech itself is being remembered and celebrated in Detroit — which got the first glimpse of the speech — and across the nation.

King speechwriter Clarence B. Jones, who was one of those advisers on the speech, will be the featured speaker at a program today in Ann Arbor and two programs open to the public in Detroit on Tuesday.

Jones, scholar in residence at the Martin Luther King Jr. Research & Education Institute at Stanford University, helped draft parts of the speech and was on stage with King when he delivered it in Washington.

Jones believes the riveting crescendo of the speech was God-given.

He said he remembers gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, also on stage, telling King, “Tell them about the dream, Martin. Tell them about the dream,” said Jones during a recent telephone conversation. “He pushed the written text aside and started speaking from the heart. It was like he had become possessed, like someone had taken over his body. It was electrifying.”

It wasn’t just what he was saying, but the powerful delivery that stirred the nation’s moral conscience, Jones said.

“The speech tapped into the very core values of who we were supposed to be as a country,” Jones said. “He was speaking prophetically about what America could be if it lived out the principles of the Declaration of Independence. Everybody who heard it, black or white, segregationists or integrationists, everybody knew he was speaking the truth.”

It’s hard to think about what life was like for those black Americans living in the Jim Crow South before the work of people like Dr. King and Miss Rosa Parks.  Here’s Dr King Speaking about the Bus Boycott in Selma in 1955.  You can find a collection of historical videos on the struggle for racial equality here.

It’s good that we have a day to reflect on all of those things–both good and bad–that make up American History.  Have a wonderful holiday!

kingin selma


Friday Night Open Thread: Trayvon Martin Case Updates

Good Evening! The big news today is that Minkoff Minx is back home and resting after her surgery. She even managed to send off an e-mail to the rest of the administrators, so she might even be reading this–if so, hi there, Minx!

I have several updates on the Trayvon Martin case. The city of Sanford is preparing for the aftermath of the special prosecutor Angela Corey’s decision on whether or not she will order the arrest of George Zimmerman.

Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett said on Thursday that the city’s emergency management team has met regularly with the U.S Department of Justice to construct a plan. Officials said extra police officers and fire department officials are on standby. Neighboring agencies have also been asked to assist, if needed.

“You always prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Triplett said. “We’re planning for the ‘what-if’ case scenario, and that would be to make sure that all of our citizens get the protection they pay their taxes for.”

The grand jury ordered by Governor Rick Scott is scheduled for next Tuesday, April 10, so Corey is expected to decide soon.

If she finds probable cause, Corey could direct-file the charges anytime or present evidence to a Seminole County grand jury, which was tentatively scheduled to meet on Tuesday. The grand jury could indict, ask to hear more evidence, or decline to indict.

Since the Stand Your Ground Law has been invoked by Zimmerman, even if charges are filed, a judge could review the case and grant immunity, thus dismissing the charges.

Corey previously stated that she may not need the grand jury. I’ll be honest: I just have a gut feeling that she will decline to charge Zimmerman. I hope I’m wrong, but Corey is known for charging juvenile offenders very harshly and trying them as adults. Last year, she charged a 12-year-old boy with first degree murder and ordered him tried as an adult in the death of his two-year-old brother. HuffPo reports that Corey

is known for her tough tactics aimed at locking up criminals for long sentences and making it difficult to negotiate light plea bargains.

Furthermore, 57-year-old Angela Corey has handled hundreds of homicide cases involving the justifiable use of deadly force – experience that could prove invaluable.

Angela Corey

On the other hand, they also report that Corey is exceedingly close to the Sheriff’s office and police. One colleague told HuffPo that she is “too close” to them.

Hal Uhrig

George Zimmerman has a new attorney who is a former police officer, now a criminal defense attorney, who has experience with the media. But that experience did not serve him well today when he suggested in a TV interview that Zimmerman may have suffered from “shaken baby syndrome” after Trayvon Martin supposedly bashed his head on the sidewalk. Except that the new attorney is now claiming his client’s head was bashed into the “ground.” (Just a side note: neither of Zimmerman’s attorneys has actually met him in person yet. They’ve only talked with him on the phone.)

Hal Uhrig, a lawyer and former Gainesville, Florida, police officer who recently joined Zimmerman’s defense team, cited in a TV interview the brain damage that can seriously injure or kill an infant.

His point, which has been made before, was that Zimmerman contends he shot Martin in self defense and feared for his life after the 17-year-old attacked him and began pounding his head into the concrete pavement of a gated community on a rainy evening in Sanford on February 26.

But Uhrig’s choice of words, and use of a recognized sign of child abuse to defend a 28-year-old man who killed a kid, seemed likely to raise more than just a few eyebrows.

“We’re familiar with the Shaken Baby Syndrome,” said Uhrig on the CBS This Morning program. “You shake a baby, the brain shakes around inside the skull. You can die when someone’s pounding your head into the ground.”

Shaken baby syndrome can occur in very young infants because their skulls are still soft, they aren’t yet in control of their neck and limbs, and their heads are very large in proportion to their bodies. Adults can obviously suffer serious head trauma leading to internal bleeding and death, but if EMT’s believed that had happened to Zimmerman they would have insisted he be transported to a hospital.

One of Uhrig’s first actions after taking the job was to get rid of Zimmerman’s “friend” Joe Oliver (now being called a “media adviser”), who made innumerable embarrassing media appearances in which presented a number of inconsistent explanations of what supposedly happened the night of the shooting.

A group of about 40 Florida college students have organized a 3-day march from Daytona Beach to Sanford (41 miles), Florida to demand racial equality in honor of Trayvon Martin. The march is “modeled after the historic 1965 civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala.”

They call themselves the Dream Defenders. The march began earlier today.

The campaign began at Daisy Stocking Park and will conclude on April 9 at Sanford City Hall. During the march, students will be stopping every two hours and receiving training. They will also work on developing a strategy to launch a larger youth movement to address racial inequalities. Their first stop is the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center for a prayer vigil and speakout. You can track the group as they march on their website.

The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office and police officers in Daytona Beach, DeLand and Orange City are coordinating and will be helping with traffic control to make sure the students are safe while crossing busy highways.

Vanessa Baden, a 2007 alumna of Florida State, flew in from Los Angeles to attend the march on behalf of Dream Defenders. She said the purpose of the march is to call for the arrest of George Zimmerman and the investigation of the process of law enforcement following the shooting of Trayvon Martin.

“What we’re not trying to do is try Zimmerman in the court of public opinion. We get that there’s a process in this,” Baden said. “We’ll be patient with the process if they allow the process to begin.”

The group expects other college students to join the march along the way. Good for them. I know darn well if Martin Luther King were still alive, he would be there too.

Unfortunately, a group of “armed neo-Nazis” is already in Sanford, supposedly to help in riot control after Angela Corey makes her decision.

Neo-Nazis are currently conducting heavily armed patrols in and around Sanford, Florida and are “prepared” for violence in the case of a race riot. The patrols are to protect “white citizens in the area who are concerned for their safety” in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting last month, says Commander Jeff Schoep of the National Socialist Movement. “We are not advocating any type of violence or attacks on anybody, but we are prepared for it,” he says. “We are not the type of white people who are going to be walked all over.”

Because nothing diffuses racial tension like gun-toting racial separatists patrolling an already on-edge community.

Lots of audio “experts” are still analyzing Zimmerman’s initial 911 tape to see if he used word “coons” in a whispered utterance. CNN’s expert claims Zimmerman said “fucking cold.” Another expert says it was “fucking punks.”

In addition, I found this slowed down tape of the 911 call by a witness. It was posted by a self-described “audio person.” You can hear screams for help in the background, then a gunshot, and another sound after the shot. It sounded like a scream after the gunshot to me.

NBC has fired a producer who edited the Zimmerman 911 tape and played the edited version on the Today Show as if it were the original.

The person was fired on Thursday, according to two people with direct knowledge of the disciplinary action who declined to be identified discussing internal company matters. They also declined to name the fired producer. A spokeswoman for NBC News declined to comment.

The action came in the wake of an internal investigation by NBC News into the production of the segment, which strung together audio clips in such a way that made George Zimmerman’s shooting of Mr. Martin sound racially motivated. Ever since the Feb. 26 shooting, there has been a continuing debate about whether race was a factor in the incident.

The segment in question was shown on the “Today” show on March 27. It included audio of Mr. Zimmerman saying, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.”

But Mr. Zimmerman’s comments had been taken grossly out of context by NBC. On the phone with a 911 dispatcher, he actually said of Mr. Martin, “This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.” Then the dispatcher asked, “O.K., and this guy — is he white, black or Hispanic?” Only then did Mr. Zimmerman say, “He looks black.”

Obviously, the editing was misleading, but I actually think the real 911 tape sounds worse and more racially biased. JMNSHO.

Family and friends of George Zimmerman are starting a website to raise funds for his defense and his living expenses. The reporter, Frances Robles says that Zimmerman has suffered “weeks of withering media coverage lambasting him and his supporters…” I’d say the lambasting of Trayvon Martin has been even more “withering,” but of course he no longer has “living expenses,” because George Zimmerman shot and killed him. But what do I know? Poor George….

Robles also notes that Zimmerman has attract some troubling supporters

such as white supremacists and the Rev. Terry Jones, the Gainesville pastor who announced last year plans to burn the Quran and now plans to hold a rally for Zimmerman. Gun ownership advocacy groups have also announced intentions to contribute $10,000 towards Zimmerman’s defense.

But one of Martin’s attorneys points out that

“It’s a PR strategy, a propaganda campaign,” said Natalie Jackson, an attorney for Trayvon’s parents. “His friends and family are doing him a big disservice by race-baiting. They are trying to divide a jury. Frank Taaffe, Joe Oliver, everybody gets up there and says, ‘George Zimmerman is not a racist.’ That’s not what we’re talking about.

“We’re talking about whether he was justified in taking Trayvon Martin’s life.”

I agree with Jackson that the racism issue is a red herring. It’s up to the FBI to decide whether this was a hate crime or not. But Zimmerman needs to be arrested and charged. Then he can plead his case for self-defense to a judge and jury instead of the media.

Feel free to discuss any topic on this thread. I decided to focus on the Martin case because there was so much news coming out today on it, and it has otherwise been a pretty slow news day because of the upcoming christian holiday.