Monday Reads: A Soundtrack and President* for the Ignorant

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I’ve had a rough week trying to deal with the fall out from the extreme temperatures, snow, and ice here.  It seems my cable box went because water pooled in the connections outside.  My electrician discovered a few sockets that were acting up, we basically took them off line, and now I have my office and desk back. I also can watch news again which is something I haven’t been able to do for about a week now.  What’s that they say about ignorance is bliss? As you can see, black activist James Baldwin had some other thoughts and I’m certain he couldn’t see far enough into the future to imagine the horror show today.

An ABC/Washington Post Poll shows that “Almost half of voters question Trump’s mental stability”. The other’s can’t be paying attention or are being deliberately obtuse.

Forty-eight percent of voters think Trump is mentally stable, versus the 47 percent of voters who think he is not.

Trump’s job approval rating at his one year mark is at 36 percent, while 58 disapprove. The next lowest approval rating from a president at one year was Gerald Ford in 1975 with 45 percent.

The president earlier this month defended his mental stability and his intelligence in a series of tweets following questions about his mental stability that were sparked by journalist Michael Wolff’s book “Fire and Fury.”

The Government has been shutdown by Trump and his xenophobic and racist cronies. Well, from the sounds of it, it is mostly because of hard lines drawn by Kelly and Miller.  The Senate will vote on the short down at noon.

Key senators are meeting ahead of a high-stakes vote at noon Monday on a bill to reopen the government and fund it for three weeks, though it remains unclear if this plan will win over enough Democrats to pass.

The vote comes several hours after the workday for hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal employees was supposed to have begun, and comes three days after the government officially shut down Friday at midnight. Many of the shutdown’s full effects were less visible during the weekend, when much of the federal workforce would typically be off anyway.

“I don’t think this is the right way to get policy outcomes is to shut the government down. When we tried it, it didn’t work well for us,” GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told reporters, appearing alongside GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Jeff Flake of Arizona. “Here’s what I predict. Once we start talking about immigration and voting on immigration, we’ll find 60 votes to make sure these DACA recipients’ lives are not ruined by March 5.”

The Senate vote was moved from 1 a.m. ET Monday to noon after it became clear Democrats would block the spending bill over disagreements on a variety of issues, most notably what do about young people affected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas said he thought Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York agreed to push back the vote to give his caucus “a chance to chew” on a GOP proposal to break the impasse.

“It’s better to have a successful vote tomorrow at noon than a failed vote tonight,” Cornyn told reporters.

Stephen Miller continues to be the voice of white supremacy in the White House and appears to be one of the main obstacles to settling anything.

On Sunday, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) — whose doomed immigration compromise with Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) was the target of that Trump tirade in the Oval Office — blasted Miller as a primary reason for the continuing standoff over border issues.

“As long as Stephen Miller is in charge of negotiating immigration, we are going nowhere. He’s been an outlier for years,” Graham told reporters at the Capitol. “I’ve talked with the president; his heart is right on this issue. He’s got a good understanding of what will sell. And every time we have a proposal, it is only yanked back by staff members.”

 The reality, though, is arguably more complicated.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, said Trump has hawkish immigration views on a gut level but doesn’t necessarily understand all of the policy details and implications. He said Miller and Chief of Staff John F. Kelly — who also plays a crucial role in immigration policy — are “not so much yanking the president’s leash” as doing “the proper job of staff” by steering the president to his goals.

“There was a story line that people were developing in their own minds that Miller is the source of evil and without him everything would be great,” Krikorian said. “The truth is the president is committed to this general perspective on immigration, and Miller and Kelly are there to help him implement what he always wanted to do.”

Miller’s driving obsession is immigration, an area where he has long pushed hard-line positions going back to his days as a combative conservative activist at Duke University. In Washington, as an aide to then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), he was instrumental in helping to kill a bipartisan effort in 2013 for a broad immigration deal. He and Sessions helped galvanize House conservatives to block the bill passed by the Senate, including distributing a handbook of talking points aimed at undercutting the compromise.

 

In an astounding, Orwellian move, the Trump Justice Department put out a completely false narrative on the source of terrorism in the US blaming those not born in the United States and inferring they were pretty much from Trump’s “shithole” countries.  This was an end run around DHS analysts which have long determined that this is not the case.

The document didn’t mince words. It claimed three-quarters of “international terrorism” convicts were immigrants, an assertion meant to bolster Donald Trump’s cherished Muslim-focused ban on entering the country. And the report put the claim in the mouths of an agency assembled to keep Americans safe after 9/11: the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Working off the 549 federal international-terrorism convictions tallied by the Justice Department, the document stated: “An analysis conducted by DHS determined that approximately 73 percent (402 of these 549 individuals) were foreign-born.”

But the Department of Homeland Security did not perform that analysis. DHS’ analysts did not contribute to the highly controversial report, The Daily Beast has learned.

According to a government source familiar with the episode, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ office took charge of the report’s assemblage of statistics—which some terrorism analysts consider highly misleading—and sent it to DHS Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen for her imprimatur after it was all but finalized.

“The Trump administration is trying to turn counterterrorism into an immigration issue,” said Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina, where he tracks Muslim-American involvement in terrorism.

Career professional analysts at DHS communicated to the Justice Departmentthat the data sought for the report simply did not exist within their department. DHS, multiple sources said, does not track or correlate international terrorism data by citizenship or country of origin, and have warned the Trump administration that doing so risks a misleading portrait of both terrorism and immigration.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg adds to the voices with #MeToo stories.  You can view the interview at the link.

Long before she donned a black judge’s robe, before she led a decades-long legal fight for gender equality, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a young, studious college kid taking a chemistry class at Cornell University.

One day, as she was preparing for a test, she told her professor she felt uncomfortable with some of the material.

“He said, ‘I’ll give you a practice exam,’” Ginsburg recalled in an interview Sunday with NPR’s Nina Totenberg at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

When Ginsburg went to class the next day, she discovered that the professor had actually just slipped her an advance copy of the real test. “And I knew exactly what he wanted in return,” she said. “And that’s just one of many examples.”

Ginsburg recounted the story in a roughly 90-minute discussion with Totenberg that touched on the 84-year-old justice’s experiences with sexual misconduct and her reaction to the #MeToo movement, as well as her career as a women’s rights advocate and her future on the high court. She was in Utah for the premiere of “RBG,” a new documentary about her life that was co-produced by CNN.

Susan Glasser writes about historian Walter Russell Mead and how his influence has led to a following in the Trump White House for genocidal President Andrew Jackson.

Bannon had seized on Mead’s work as part of his war on the other factions inside Trump’s White House, and especially the hyper-entitled family members like son-in-law Jared Kushner and “globalists” like national security adviser H.R. McMaster he viewed as selling out Trump’s “America First” vision to the more conventional course preferred by the Washington establishment. In the rumpled Mead and his writings about the “Jacksonian” tradition in American foreign policy, Bannon saw a populist kindred spirit—and a suitably rabble-rousing model for the antiestablishment course he hoped Trump would follow.

Trump agreed, which is why the Jackson portrait went up and the president was visiting Old Hickory’s Tennessee home within weeks of his inauguration, never mind the instant outcry that greeted Trump’s embrace of a slaveholding, Native American-fighting early 19th century predecessor as his role model. “That’s what Steve Bannon told me,” Mead recalled in a new interview for The Global Politico, our weekly podcast on world affairs. “There was this Jacksonian moment.”

Even now, exactly a year after Trump’s inauguration, Mead says that while Bannon has been purged from the White House, Bannonism—and by extension the bowdlerized, 21st century version of Jacksonianism he was peddling—has not. If you want to understand Trump’s otherwise incomprehensible presidency, Mead argues, you need to understand America’s seventh president.

“The Steve Bannon side of the Trump presidency remains very Jacksonian. Bannon isn’t in the White House, and he’s not welcome I think, but his influence is still felt,” Mead says. “Trump’s base remains Jacksonian. And Trump knows how to play to this base. So even as Trump has kind of adjusted in some ways to the necessities of the Washington establishment and, you know, ‘Well, you can’t just completely reinvent American foreign policy,’ he continues to orient in this way.”

After all, Mead notes, Bannon may be gone, but as for the president, “He still has a portrait of Andrew Jackson hanging in the Oval Office.”

Religious Extremists in HHS are blurring the line between church and state. They’re attacking the rights of women and GLBT people. Read this sad state of affairs investigated by Politico.

A small cadre of politically prominent evangelicals inside the Department of Health and Human Services have spent months quietly planning how to weaken federal protections for abortion and transgender care — a strategy that’s taking shape in a series of policy moves that took even their own staff by surprise.

Those officials include Roger Severino, an anti-abortion lawyer who now runs the Office of Civil Rights and last week laid out new protections allowing health care workers with religious or moral objections to abortion and other procedures to opt out. Shannon Royce, the agency’s key liaison with religious and grass-roots organizations, has also emerged as a pivotal player.

“To have leaders like Roger, like Shannon, it’s so important,” said Deanna Wallace of Americans United for Life, an anti-abortion group that was frequently at odds with the Obama administration. “It’s extremely encouraging to have HHS on our side this time.”

But inside HHS, staff say that those leaders are steering their offices to support evangelicals at the expense of other voices, such as a recent decision to selectively post public comments that were overwhelmingly anti-abortion. “It’s supposed to be the faith-based partnership center, not the Christian-based partnership center,” said a longtime HHS staffer, referencing the HHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships led by Royce.

More than a dozen current and former HHS staffers, who requested anonymity to speak freely, spoke with POLITICO for this story. HHS declined to make top officials available for interviews.

Many police continue to react with violence against members of minorities.  La Mesa police violently handcuffed and slammed a 17 year old girl to the ground at her school. The incident was caught on video.

Officers were called to the school when a 17-year-old student who had been suspended refused to leave the University Avenue campus, La Mesa Police Chief Walt Vasquez said in a statement.

A school resource officer tried to get the girl to leave voluntarily, then ordered her to do so. When she didn’t cooperate, the officer handcuffed her and began walking her to the school’s office, Vasquez said.

“As they were walking, the student became non-compliant on two separate occasions and made an attempt to free herself by pulling away from the officer,” the chief said. “To prevent the student from escaping, the officer forced the student to the ground.”

In video of the incident, the officer is seen throwing the girl over his shoulder onto the concrete sidewalk. He then used the weight of his body to pin her to the ground.

The officer forced her to the ground twice, witnesses said.

Vasquez said that after the student agreed to quit resisting or trying to escape, the officer helped her up and walked her to his patrol vehicle.

Police said that the student suffered minor abrasions during the incident and that she was evaluated by paramedics at the police station who determined she didn’t require treatment.

Aeiramique Blake, speaking on behalf of the girl’s family, said the incident has been mischaracterized by police.

Blake said the teen was assigned to in-school suspension for tardiness when the girl told an instructor she wasn’t feeling well. The student explained she was anemic and had experienced similar feelings before, but the teacher allegedly accused her of being on drugs, Blake said.

Is it really so difficult for people to see the underlying tribal hatred that’s leading to increased violence, denial of basic rights, dehumanization of so many of our citizens simply because they are not white, male, straight, and the right flavor of christian?  We have always had the stain of slavery and patriarchy follow our country on its path to the future.  How could so much ignorance come to such a place of power when we’ve made it through so much?

It’s good to be back with y’all but it’s certainly a day of highly disturbing news, policy, and stories.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?  Share the knowledge.

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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?


Lazy Saturday Reads: This Is Our Reality Now

What might have been.

Good Morning!!

The news is ugly today. The “president” calls other countries “shitholes” as he works to turn the United States into a “shithole” full of ignorant white people who live in fear of anyone who doesn’t look and think exactly as they do. On top of the “president’s” classless vulgarity and racism, it looks like next we’re going to be subjected to examinations of the “president’s” degrading sexual history.

This nightmare reality we are living in might have been prevented if only the media weren’t populated by numerous misogynist men who prey on naive young women and at the same time enjoy mocking strong, competent women like Hillary Clinton when they dare to pursue their ambitious dreams.

In the wake of the *shitstorm* over the “president’s” vile and ignorant comments in a meeting about immigration, it looks as if one of the worst media misogynist could finally get his comeuppance.

The Cut: Exclusive: Watch Chris Matthews Joke About His ‘Bill Cosby Pill’ Before Interviewing Hillary Clinton.

On January 5, 2016, MSNBC Hardball host Chris Matthews interviewed Hillary Clinton in an Iowa fire station during the Democratic primary season. Network footage obtained by the Cut shows Matthews, during the interview setup, making a couple of “jokes” about Clinton. He asks, “Can I have some of the queen’s waters? Precious waters?” And then, as he waits for the water, he adds, “Where’s that Bill Cosby pill I brought with me?” Matthews then laughs, delighted with the line, for an extended moment, as the staffers around him react with disbelief, clearly uncomfortable. (Cosby has been accused of sexual impropriety by dozens of women, some of whom allege that they were drugged and raped by the comedian.)

“This was a terrible comment I made in poor taste during the height of the Bill Cosby headlines,” Matthews said to the Cut. “I realize that’s no excuse. I deeply regret it and I’m sorry.”

Really? Fuck you Tweety. It’s time for you to retire.

Back to The Cut:

Matthews has a long history of talking disparagingly about Hillary Clinton, whom he once called “witchy,”and often seems to channel what a hypothetical sexist Republican might say about a woman candidate: “she-devil,” “Madame Defarge.” In 2005, he wondered whether the troops would “take the orders” from a (female) President Clinton. “Is she hemmed in by the fact that she’s a woman and can’t admit a mistake,” he asked in 2006, “or else the Republicans will say, ‘Oh, that’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind,’ or ‘another fickle woman’? Is her gender a problem in her ability to change her mind?” He once pinched her cheekfollowing an interview, and, though he later apologized, on another occasion suggested that she only got as far as she did on the political stage because her husband had “messed around.”

We’re all familiar with Tweety’s garbage talk. To paraphrase Trump: “Take him out!”

Also worth reading, tweets by Matthew Gertz of Media Matters. A couple of examples:

That’s part of a long thread about Matthews ugly sexist remarks about Clinton you can read on Twitter.

And now let’s check out some of the latest stories about the “president” Chris Matthews and his kind helped put in the White House.

Trump’s racism

The New York Times Editorial Board on the “president’s” “shithole” shitstorm: Donald Trump Flushes Away America’s Reputation.

Where to begin? How about with a simple observation: The president of the United States is a racist. And another: The United States has a long and ugly history of excluding immigrants based on race or national origin. Mr. Trump seems determined to undo efforts taken by presidents of both parties in recent decades to overcome that history.

Mr. Trump denied making the remarks on Friday, but Senator Richard Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, who attended the meeting, said the president did in fact say these “hate-filled things, and he said them repeatedly.”

Of course he did. Remember, Mr. Trump is not just racist, ignorant, incompetent and undignified. He’s also a liar.

Even the president’s most sycophantic defenders didn’t bother denying the reports. Instead they justified them. Places like Haiti really are terrible, they reminded us. Never mind that many native-born Americans are descended from immigrants who fled countries (including Norway in the second half of the 19th century) that were considered hellholes at the time.

Read the rest at the NYT link. How appropriate that the headline contains the word “flushes.”

Adam Serwer at The Atlantic: Trump Puts the Purpose of His Presidency Into Words.

Francis Amasa Walker had fought to preserve the Union in the Grand Army of the Republic, but by 1896 he saw its doom in the huddled masses coming from Eastern Europe. The “immigrants from southern Italy, Hungary, Austria, and Russia,” Walker lamented in The Atlantic, were “beaten men from beaten races; representing the worst failures in the struggle for existence,” people who had “none of the ideas and aptitudes which fit men to take up readily and easily the problem of self-care and self-government, such as belong to those who are descended from the tribes that met under the oak-trees of old Germany to make laws and choose chieftains.”

More than a century later President Donald Trump would put it differently, as he considered immigration from Africa, wondering, “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” instead suggesting that America take in more immigrants from places like Norway.

These remarks reflect scorn not only for those who wish to come here, but those who already have. It is a president of the United States expressing his contempt for the tens of millions of descendants of Africans, most of whose forefathers had no choice in crossing the Atlantic, American citizens whom any president is bound to serve. And it is a public admission of sorts that he is incapable of being a president for all Americans, the logic of his argument elevating not just white immigrants over brown ones, but white citizens over the people of color they share this country with.

Please go read the whole thing.

Philip Kennicott at The Washington Post: What did the men with Donald Trump do when he spoke of ‘shithole countries’?

Over the past year, as our political culture has grown more coarse and corrupt, I’ve felt different things: sometimes, anger; often, bitter resignation; and occasionally, a bemused sense of pure absurdity. But the past two nights I have actually wept. Why now? Why in response to these particular prompts? A confused and ailing woman in a thin medical gown was tossed to the roadside in freezing weather by security guards from the University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus in Baltimore. Who orders such a thing, and why would anyone carry out that order? Then, the president of the United States calls Haiti, El Salvador and African nations “shithole” countries. Who says that kind of thing? Who thinks it? Who listens to it without reflexive outrage?

Back to the Post article:

According to a few of the president’s defenders, this is what we all really think. “This is how the forgotten men and women of America talk at the bar,” said a Fox News host, imputing to ordinary Americans sentiments they wouldn’t suffer to be said at their own dinner tables. There was the usual talk about “tough” language instead of talking about this course which helps improve language, as if using racist language was merely candor or an admirable impatience with euphemism.

His defenders seemed to say that if the president says things that we would be ashamed even to think, he is somehow speaking a kind of truth. But while there may be countries that are poor and suffer from civil discord, there are no “shithole” countries, not one, anywhere on Earth. The very idea of “shithole” countries is designed to short-circuit our capacity for empathy on a global scale.

These two incidents, in Baltimore and in the Oval Office, seem related — inhumane indifference from a hospital and blatant bigotry from the president — which is even more troubling. They are about who is on what side of the door, or the wall, or any other barrier that defines the primal “us and them” that governs so much of the worst of our human-made world. When Trump called disfavored countries “shitholes,” he was indulging the most lethal and persistent tribalism of all: pure, unabashed racism. After a candidacy and now a presidency marked by implications of racism, the president has grown more comfortable with speaking in overtly racist terms, condemning whole countries and their people for not being more like “Norway,” one of the whitest countries on Earth….

Remarks like these from the president are still shocking but hardly surprising, given the frequency with which they occur. What I want to know is how the men in the room with him reacted. This is the dinner table test: When you are sitting and socializing with a bigot, what do you do when he reveals his bigotry? I’ve seen it happen, once, when I was a young man, and I learned an invaluable lesson. An older guest at a formal dinner said something blatantly anti-Semitic. I was shocked and laughed nervously. Another friend stared at his plate silently. Another excused himself and fled to the bathroom. And then there was the professor, an accomplished and erudite man, who paused for a moment, then slammed his fist on the table and said, “I will never listen to that kind of language, so either you will leave, or I will leave.” The offender looked around the table, found no allies and left the gathering. I don’t know if he felt any shame upon expulsion.

Again, please go read the rest.

On the Trump scandal front:

Raw Story: Haitian government claims ousted dictator ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier laundered stolen money through Trump Tower.

Trump and Baby Doc

More than a fifth of Trump’s condominiums in the U.S. have been purchased since the 1980s in secretive cash transactions that fit a Treasury Department definition of suspicious transactions, reported Buzzfeed News.

Records show more than 1,300 Trump condos were purchased through shell companies, which allow buyers to shield their finances and identities, and without a mortgage, which protects buyers from lender inquiries.

Those two characteristics raise alarms about possible money laundering, according to statements issued in recent months by the Department of Treasury, which has investigated transactions just like those all over the country….

According to the Buzzfeed News report, the Haitian government complained in the 1980s that former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier laundered money stolen from the Caribbean nation’s treasury by purchasing an apartment in Trump Tower.

Duvalier, nicknamed “Baby Doc,” was overthrown in 1986, but three years earlier used a Panamanian shell company called Lasa Trade and Finance to buy apartment 54-K in Trump’s Manhattan tower for $446,875 cash.

Trump, the future U.S. president, signed the deed of sale.

I tried to read the Buzzfeed story yesterday, but it got to be too much to deal with. Now I plan to go read it carefully.

CNN: James O’Keefe says Trump asked him to go on birther-linked mission.

James O’Keefe

Donald Trump in 2013 asked James O’Keefe, the controversial conservative filmmaker, if he could “get inside” Columbia University and obtain President Obama’s sealed college records, according to a passage in O’Keefe’s forthcoming book, a copy of which was reviewed by CNN.

O’Keefe, a guerrilla filmmaker whom critics have decried for his tactics and who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for entering federal property in 2010 under false pretenses, writes in “American Pravda: My Fight for Truth in the Era of Fake News” that during a meeting in New York City Trump complimented his ACORN sting videos (“That pimp and hooker thing you did, wow!”). But, O’Keefe writes, Trump “was a man with a plan” and “did not agree to this meeting to sing my praises.” [….]

According to O’Keefe, Trump “suspected Obama had presented himself as a foreign student on application materials to ease his way into New York’s Columbia University, maybe even Harvard too, and perhaps picked up a few scholarships along the way.”

O’Keefe wrote that during the 2013 meeting Trump suggested O’Keefe infiltrate Columbia and obtain the sealed records: “‘Nobody else can get this information,'” O’Keefe quoted Trump as saying. “‘Do you think you could get inside Columbia?'”

Read more at CNN.

The Washington Post: After drubbing by media, Trump’s ambassador to the Netherlands apologizes for anti-Muslim remarks.

Pete Hoekstra and Trump

The embattled U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands Peter Hoekstra apologized Friday for making unsubstantiated anti-Muslim claims at a conference in 2015, after his first week in the post was clouded by questions about the incendiary statements.

Hoekstra, a former Republican congressman from Michigan and recent political appointee, made the apology during an interview Friday with De Telegraaf, one of the largest Dutch newspapers, at the end of a particularly rough introduction for the new ambassador.

“Looking back, I am shocked I said that,” he told the newspaper. “It was a wrong statement. It was wrong.”

Hoekstra made the remarks in question during a conference on terrorism hosted by the right-wing David Horowitz Freedom Center. He talked about the supposed “chaos” brought to Europe by immigrants from Islamic countries and repeated a baseless theory about so-called “no-go zones” that is popular in right-wing media.

“Chaos in the Netherlands. There are cars being burned. There are politicians that are being burned,” Hoekstra said at the time. “With the influx of the Islamic community — and yes, there are no-go zones in the Netherlands. All right? There are no-go zones in France.”

Considering the quality of people Trump is appointing to diplomatic posts, I’m sure we can expect more embarrassing episodes like this.

So . . . I could go on and on. I deliberately left out the story of Trump and the two porn stars. It’s still difficult for me to believe this horrible man is POTUS. He has to go before he completely wrecks this country and destroys any hope of our regaining respect around the world.

What stories are you following?


Lazy Saturday Reads: A News Dump From Hell As Monster Hurricane Hits

Edgar Degas (French artist, 1834–1917)

Good Morning!!

I’m getting the feeling that Trump realizes his days as “president” are numbered, and he has decided to do as much evil as he possibly can while he’s still in power.

Last night, while the decent people in the country were focused on the devastating hurricane approaching Texas, Trump overwhelmed our concern for our fellow Americans with a Friday news dump from hell.

He signed an order to prevent transgender people from serving in the military and ordered that any medical care being provided to transgender individuals already serving be stopped.

The New York Times: Trump Gives Mattis Wide Discretion Over Transgender Ban.

President Trump signed a long-awaited directive on Friday that precludes transgender individuals from joining the military but gives Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wide discretion in determining whether those already in the armed forces can continue to serve.

Mr. Mattis’s decisions will be based on several criteria, including military effectiveness and budgetary concerns, a senior White House official said in briefing reporters.

1927 Jane Rogers Interior Scene

Left unclear was how many of the thousands of transgender service personnel estimated to be in the military might keep serving. By putting the onus on Mr. Mattis, the president appeared to open the door to allowing at least some transgender service members to remain in the military.

Dana W. White, the chief Pentagon spokeswoman, said that Mr. Mattis had received the guidance but did not indicate how he would proceed.

From Twitter:

Soon after that news broke, the White House announced that Trump had pardoned evil racist former Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Slate: Trump’s Pardon of Joe Arpaio Is a Clear and Ugly Message to Hispanic Americans.

On Friday night, minutes before Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, Donald Trump issued the first presidential pardon of his administration to Joe Arpaio, the longtime Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff whose record of proudly tough, sometimes brutal, and ultimately illegal policing of Latino immigrants made him among the nation’s most admired and reviled lawmen.

In 2011, a federal judge ordered Arpaio to stop targeting Latino drivers. He refused. In July, a judge found he had willingly resisted that order, and could serve up to six months in jail for criminal contempt. He had yet to be sentenced, and the pardon ends the possibility that the 85-year-old Arpaio will see jail time.

Herbert Badham (Australian artist, 1899-1961) Breakfast Piece

In a tightly worded two-paragraph statement, Trump praised Arpaio’s “admirable service to our nation.” The statement doesn’t mention his conviction, or the various human rights scandals that plagued his 24-year tenure as the sheriff of Arizona’s most populous county, which includes Phoenix. The county spent tens of millions defending Arpaio in court from various charges and settling cases resulting from inhumane jail conditions.

“Pardoning Joe Arpaio is a slap in the face to the people of Maricopa County,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton wrote on Friday night. “Sheriff Joe Arpaio targeted and terrorized Latino families because of the color of their skin. He was ordered by a federal judge to stop and he refused. He received a fair trial and a justifiable conviction, and there’s nothing the President can do to change that awful legacy and the stain he had left on our community.”

I also highly recommend reading this Slate piece on Trump’s suggestion he would pardon Arpaio by Mark Joseph Stern, written Aug. 15: White Nationalist Rule Is Already Here.

As a number of people have pointed out, Trump’s pardon of Arpaio is also a further attack on the judiciary by a lawless “president.” He went ahead with the pardon without even consulting the Justice Department. Others have noted that this action by Trump sends a message to all his criminal cronies that they can lie to the FBI and Special Counsel Mueller and in return he will pardon them.

The news dump also included the “resignation” of White House Nazi Sebastian Gorka.

CNN: Sebastian Gorka gone from White House.

Sebastian Gorka, an outspoken and combative defender of President Donald Trump’s national security agenda, has left his position as a White House counterterrorism adviser, two administration officials told CNN.

1938 Sandra Bierman (American artist)

The news, which came late Friday evening, was widely expected in the West Wing, which has now seen high-profile departures on successive Fridays for several weeks.
Gorka was one of Trump’s most prominent cheerleaders, frequently hitting the airwaves to defend the President’s policies and public statements.
But his role outside of television hits was unclear. He did not play a major policymaking role, according to administration officials, and was not a member of the National Security Council.

Two White House Nazis down (Bannon and Gorka), two more to go–Stephen Miller and Trump.

It looks like Trump also plans to end Obama’s program to help immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. 

NBC News: Trump Likely to End DACA Immigrant Program.

President Donald Trump appears likely to pull the plug on DACA, the Obama-era program allowing young people who came to the U.S. illegally as children to remain here, several government officials said Friday.

Administration officials said Friday that the Homeland Security secretary, Elaine Duke, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions discussed the program with senior officials Thursday during a meeting at the White House. Sessions has been a consistent opponent of the program.

As many as 1 million immigrants could be affected.

Trump is said to be weighing whether to let DACA gradually expire or end it immediately, but the officials said it is not yet clear which option Trump may choose.

Fuck everyone who voted for this cruel monster and everyone who voted third party.

Hurricane Harvey so far

The LA Times last night: Collapsed roofs and downed trees as Hurricane Harvey brutalizes its way across Texas.

The storm slammed onto shore Friday evening as a powerful Category 4 hurricane and powered its way north of Corpus Christi.

Carl Larsson, Lady Reading Newspaper

Shortly after midnight, the storm made a second landfall along the northeastern shore of Copano Bay and downgraded once again to a Category 3 storm, the National Weather Service reported.

Initial reports suggested the staggering strength of the storm.

At least 10 people were treated for injuries at a local jail in the town of Rockport, about 31 miles northeast of Corpus Christi, after the roof of a senior citizens’ complex collapsed, local media reported.

Part of a local high school also collapsed, and a portion of the exterior of a hotel peeled off in the heavy winds, KXAN reported.

“People are trapped inside at least one collapsed building. We can’t get rescue teams to them right now,” Rockport City Manager Kevin Carruth told KIII News.

Emergency officials reported large numbers of downed trees and more than 86,000 people around the state without power.

The Atlantic this morning: ‘The Rainfall Threat Is Only Beginning.

Harvey arrived near Corpus Christi as a Category 4 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center, the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States in a dozen years. A few hours later, the hurricane made a second landfall near Copano Bay as a Category 3 hurricane. Harvey lost strength as it moved inland over south Texas, and was downgraded to Category 1 early Saturday morning, sustaining winds at 90 miles per hour. The hurricane will likely keep slowing down and become a tropical storm later Saturday, the center said.

But the danger is far from over. Even as it weakens steadily, Harvey’s slow-motion churn is expected to create life-threatening conditions for the next several days as torrential rain continues until Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. Harvey is predicted to dump 15 inches to 30 inches of rain on southern Texas, with some parts getting as much as 40 inches, leading to “catastrophic” flooding. Storm-surge flooding may reach nine to 13 feet above ground along parts of the Texas coast between Port Aransas and Port O’Conner.

“Even though #Harvey has made landfall, the rainfall threat is only beginning,” the National Hurricane Center said in a tweet Friday night.

The flooding could leave neighborhoods underwater for days and, as previous hurricanes have done, surface sewage, coffins, and even alligators seeking safety on higher ground.

Here’s a lovely prayer that Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes posted on Facebook (h/t Delphyne on Twitter).

Laurie Kersey, Woman Reading

Dear Brave Souls, Please join me in strong prayer for the people at the coastline of Texas, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Houston and all surrounds.

Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated in the devastation of wind and flood of a hurricane that made landfall earlier tonight, putting out electricity, flooding the land and homes, washing away so much, fouling the water in many places.C

Please especially prayer for the poor who often have little to no resource to evacuate [no car or stores of food to take with.]

Please pray for all pregnant women and those trying to help them who are scared.

Please pray for all the old and frail in hospital and nursing homes and those who care for them with great heart.

Please pray for all children and inocentes

Please pray for all the horses, dogs and cats and other companions of feathers and fur, as well as wild birds and the fourleggeds

Please pray for help to come, shelter to come, clean water to come, food to come as quickly as possible.

Please help those without papers not be afraid to evacuate, to safeguard their lives utterly.

I send love and my tears to bless this prayer… Texas being Mexico long ago, and the land still loved as well as its people who are often farmers and fisherpeople, small business people, many often in the villages surrounding the larger towns listed above, living often in many of the old ways of our ancestors still.

May all be kept safe, may all be fed and watered that is, the human beings and the animals,

may the storm’s 130 mph wind exhaust itself as it walks screeching overland,

may the winds die,

may the flood waters that have reached over 6′ tall at this writing, recede in ways least damaging to all creatures, humans and structures.

And may the foundations and pillars of fundaments be secure,

may the guardian trees whose roots and earth have been soaked with the rains and thereby softened, drive their roots even deeper, and remain standing in these winds.

May all be held close and know that strangers pray every health onto them now, and in coming days…

This we ask in the name of all that is Holy and of Source without source.

And with love beyond love,
dr.e

The good news is that the Russia investigation is progressing.

Vox: Robert Mueller is looking into Michael Flynn’s potential ties to Russian hackers.

At issue is an effort by Peter Smith, a Trump-supporting GOP operative and private equity executive, to track down Hillary Clinton’s infamous 30,000 or so deleted emails during the fall of 2016.

Paul Cezanne, The artist’s father reading his newspaper

The effort, described on the record to Harris by Smith (the 81-year-old man died a week and a half after their interview), entailed outreach to several hacker groups, including at least two that Smith believed to be Russian-tied, to see if they had hacked the emails and could release them.

The emails — which Clinton said she deleted because they were personal and unrelated to her work as secretary of state — never surfaced. And Smith didn’t work for the Trump campaign.

But there is a potential connection to the campaign — through Flynn. Smith repeatedly claimed that he was in contact with Flynn about the effort to find Clinton’s emails, per Harris’s sources…

NBC News: Mueller Seeks Grand Jury Testimony from PR Execs Who Worked With Manafort.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued grand jury subpoenas in recent days seeking testimony from public relations executives who worked on an international campaign organized by Paul Manafort, people directly familiar with the matter told NBC News.

This is the first public indication that Mueller’s investigation is beginning to compel witness testimony before the grand jury — a significant milestone in an inquiry that is examining the conduct of President Donald Trump and his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, among others.

It is also further indication that Manafort, Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, could be in serious legal jeopardy.

According to one executive whose firm received a subpoena, Mueller’s team is closely examining the lobbying campaign, which ran between 2012 and 2014. Some of the firms involved in the campaign received subpoenas for documents weeks ago, the executive said, and now the Mueller team is seeking testimony.

That’s all I have for today. What stories are you following? If you are in the path of the hurricane, please stay safe. 


Friday Reads: “Something wicked this way comes …”

rosaparksWelcome to the start of an Orwellian Dystopia.   Will the Vichy Democrats enable the demise of Civil Rights?  How many of us will stand up to defend our Bill of Rights?

A man deemed “too racist” to be a Federal judge by a judiciary committee led by Senate Republicans during the Reagan years has just been nominated to the be the nation’s head enforcer of Civil Rights law.  Jeff Sessions “once joked that he only took issue with the KKK’s drug use and referred to civil rights groups as “un-American.”

The man who President-elect Donald Trump will nominate as the 84th attorney general of the United States was once rejected as a federal judge over allegations he called a black attorney “boy,” suggested a white lawyer working for black clients was a race traitor, joked that the only issue he had with the Ku Klux Klan was their drug use, and referred to civil rights groups as “un-American” organizations trying to “force civil rights down the throats of people who were trying to put problems behind them.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), an early Trump supporter who has been playing a major role on the Trump transition team, met with the president-elect in New York on Thursday. In a statement, the Trump team said the president-elect was “unbelievably impressed” with Sessions.

On Friday morning, Trump and Sessions confirmed that Sessions had been offered the attorney general position.

J. Gerald Hebert remembers Sessions’ time as the top federal prosecutor in Mobile, Alabama, well. Speaking to The Huffington Post earlier this month, Hebert said he was stunned that an Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a possibility.

More than three decades ago, Hebert was in his 30s and working on voting rights cases for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. He was based in D.C. but spent time in Alabama working with Sessions, who was a U.S. attorney in Ronald Reagan’s administration.

“He was very affable, always wanting to have a conversation, a cup of coffee,” Hebert said. “Over the course of those months, I had a number of conversations with him, and in a number of those conversations he made remarks that were deeply concerning.”

After Sessions was nominated to be a federal judge in 1986, Hebert appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify about these remarks. It was unusual for a career DOJ lawyer to testify about a judicial nominee’s character, and Hebert said at the time that he did so with “very mixed feelings,” telling senators he considered Sessions “a friend.” Hebert told them Sessions had “a tendency to pop off” and that he was “not a very sensitive person when it comes to race relations.”

HuffPost reviewed a transcript of the Sessions’ 1986 confirmation hearings. In this selection, Hebert testified that he had once relayed comments about a white lawyer being described as a race traitor, and that Sessions had responded by saying “he probably is” …

The ADL CEO has announced he will register as Muslim if such a registry–as promised by the future Trump Administration–is enacted. Many Jewish Americans are concerned with the threat of laws that remind them of Europe’s awful past.

The head of an organization dedicated to combating anti-Semitism says he will register as a Muslim should President-elect Donald Trump create a national database for the religion’s followers.

“The new administration plans to force Muslims to register on some master list,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), told listeners at the group’s Never is Now Conference in New York Thursday, according to Haaretz. “As Jews we know what it means to be forced to register.

“I pledge to you that because I am committed to the fight against anti-Semitism that if one day Muslim-Americans are forced to register their identities, that is the day this proud Jew will register as Muslim. Making powerful enemies is the price one must pay, at times, for speaking truth to power.”

Trump supporters have floated a registry of Muslim immigrants as part of efforts to combat radical Islamic terrorism, but officials with his transition team have denied any such plans.

Greenblatt added Americans must reject all forms of discrimination regardless of which minority group it targets.

“No one has an excuse for excusing intolerance. We must stand with our fellow Americans who may be singled out for how they look, where they’re from, who they love or how they pray,” he said

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), an immigration hard-liner who has been advising Trump, said Wednesday that transition policy advisers were debating the merits of such a database.

54b9cf2c2d491021bcd18545c350d236Many Holocaust survivors are as traumatized by this election as sexual assault survivors and victims of abuse.

The dramatic increase in anti-Semitism and hate crimes since Election Day is a horrifying flashback for veteran Jewish Americans.

“It’s a very traumatic time for survivors and their families,” said Eva Fogelman, PhD, a New York-based, licensed psychologist and a pioneer in the field of Holocaust survivor post-traumatic stress disorder.
“There’s been a definite spike in anxiety among survivors in the past week,” Fogelman added. “They witness hate speech and anti-Semitic symbols from their childhood follow them here, and it triggers a relapse in their trauma. One of my patients said, ‘I lived through one Hitler, I don’t want to live through another.’”

Though sleeplessness and nightmares about their wartime experiences are the most common symptoms, intense fear of leaving and losing one’s home is another.

Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo, an Army veteran, will become Trump’s CIA director if confirmed by the Senate. He is a Tea Partier. f684ad067c151f22742c0315c1fbaa09

He’s a supporter of the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk data collection program and sought to restore the agency’s access to the data it had already collected under the Patriot Act from its inception through late last year.

Pompeo is also one of the most vocal critics of the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Pompeo, who grew up in the traditionally Republican enclave of Orange County, California, founded Thayer Aerospace, a company that made parts for commercial and military aircraft. After selling Thayer, he became president of Sentry International, a company that manufactures and sells equipment used in oil fields.

He was elected to Congress in 2010 on a wave of tea party support and with backing from the Koch Industries political action committee. The Wichita-based conglomerate’s PAC is well known for its support of conservative candidates.

Though Pompeo is generally known for his opposition to Obama administration policies, he’s occasionally given heat to some fellow Republicans. Last year, his name was floated as a potential rival to Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to become House speaker.

Trump’s choice for NSA is a horrifying pick also. He’s got contacts with US enemy states.

But Flynn has also shown an erratic streak since leaving government that is likely to make his elevation disconcerting even to the flag officers and senior intelligence officials who once considered him a peer.

Flynn stunned former colleagues when he traveled to Moscow last year to appear alongside Russian President Vladi­mir Putin at a lavish gala for the Kremlin-run propaganda channel RT, a trip Flynn admitted he was paid to make and defended by saying he saw no distinction between RT and U.S. news channels such as CNN.

Flynn said he used the trip to press Putin’s government to behave more responsibly in international affairs. Former U.S. officials said Flynn, seen dining next to Putin in photos published by Russian propaganda outlets, was used as a prop by the autocratic leader.

Flynn was forced out of his job as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014 over concerns about his leadership style. After the ouster, he frequently lashed out in public against President Obama and blamed his removal on the administration’s discomfort with his hard-line views on radical Islam.

Spurning the decorum traditionally expected of retired U.S. flag officers, Flynn became a fervent campaigner for Trump and was given a high-profile role speaking before the GOP convention, an appearance in which he led the crowd in “lock her up” chants against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Flynn’s behavior drew the ire of former colleagues and superiors, including retired Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who made Flynn his top intelligence officer during critical stretches of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I’m trying to regain my nerve to fight all this but I feel like I’m getting way too old to do 7f65ea6e2fa9400b39db2d99dccf2557-1much good.  However, if Paul Ryan has his way, I will likely be on the ice floes.

Here’s some advice from Sarah Kendzior who has:

…. studied authoritarian states for over a decade, I would never exaggerate the severity of the threat we now face. But an American kleptocracy is exactly where president-elect Trump and his backers are taking us. That’s why I have a favor to ask you, my fellow Americans.

We’re heading into dark times. This is how to be your own light in the Age of Trump.

She has many suggestions but this was the most poignant. I think we must hold on to our values and be prepared to defend them.

That voice is your conscience, your morals, your individuality. No one can take that from you unless you let them. They can take everything from you in material terms – your house, your job, your ability to speak and move freely. They cannot take away who you truly are. They can never truly know you, and that is your power.

But to protect and wield this power, you need to know yourself – right now, before their methods permeate, before you accept the obscene and unthinkable as normal.

My heart breaks for the United States of America. It breaks for those who think they are my enemies as much as it does for my friends. You still have your freedom, so use it. There are many groups organizing for both resistance and subsistence, but we are heading into dark times, and you need to be your own light. Do not accept brutality and cruelty as normal even if it is sanctioned. Protect the vulnerable and encourage the afraid. If you are brave, stand up for others. If you cannot be brave – and it is often hard to be brave – be kind.

But most of all, never lose sight of who you are and what you value.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: In Other News

dancing-skeletonsHappy Halloween!

I thought I’d cover a few interesting stories in lieu of dragging too much of this crazy election into your feeds.  I thought I’d first focus on some interesting women’s news since we’re about to shatter the ultimate glass ceiling here in the USA.  Bill Moyers recommends this study by the VERA Justice Institute on Women and Jails in an era of reform.

Since 1970, there has been a nearly five-fold increase in the number of people in U.S. jails—the approximately 3,000 county or municipality-run detention facilities that primarily hold people arrested but not yet convicted of a crime. Despite recent scrutiny from policymakers and the public, one aspect of this growth has received little attention: the shocking rise in the number of women in jail.

Women in jail are the fastest growing correctional population in the country—increasing 14-fold between 1970 and 2014. Yet there is surprisingly little research on why so many more women wind up in jail today. This report examines what research does exist on women in jail in order to begin to reframe the conversation to include them. It offers a portrait of women in jail, explores how jail can deepen the societal disadvantages they face, and provides insight into what drives women’s incarceration and ways to reverse the trend.

largeReuters reports that Abortion by prescription is now used as much as surgical prescriptions.  What does this mean to our right to privacy and protection of our constitutional right to decide for ourselves?

American women are ending pregnancies with medication almost as often as with surgery, marking a turning point for abortion in the United States, data reviewed by Reuters shows.

The watershed comes amid an overall decline in abortion, a choice that remains politically charged in the United States, sparking a fiery exchange in the final debate between presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

When the two medications used to induce abortion won U.S. approval 16 years ago, the method was expected to quickly overtake the surgical option, as it has in much of Europe. But U.S. abortion opponents persuaded lawmakers in many states to put restrictions on their use.

Although many limitations remain, innovative dispensing efforts in some states, restricted access to surgical abortions in others and greater awareness boosted medication abortions to 43 percent of pregnancy terminations at Planned Parenthood clinics, the nation’s single largest provider, in 2014, up from 35 percent in 2010, according to previously unreported figures from the nonprofit.

Jonathan Chait–writing for NYMag–begins the dissection of what this dose of authoritarianism we’ve seen this year means for the future of the GOP.

Approaching the 2016 election from this historical perspective, in which Trump’s every boast, tweet, and threat disappears into the ether, may at first blush sound like a relief. It is the opposite. Trump is an extreme event, but Trumpism is no fluke. Its weaknesses are fleeting, and its strengths likely to endure. Far from an organization that is “probably headed toward a civil war” — as the Washington Post recently put it, summing up a rapidly congealing consensus — the Republican Party is instead more unified than one might imagine, as well as more dangerous. The accommodations its leaders have made to their erratic and delirious nominee underscore a capacity to go further and lower to maintain their grip on power than anybody understood. More consequentially, the horrors Trump has unleashed are the product of tectonic forces in American politics. Trump has revealed the convergence of two movements more extreme than anything in the free world that may yet threaten the democratic character most Americans take as their birthright.

h8We’ve not only seen a pungent form of authoritarianism but we’ve also seen racism and misogyny on levels that are hard to take.  An autistic, black young teen accidentally veered off a race in NY and was treated to nightmare.

Chase Coleman, an autistic ninth-grader at Corcoran High School, was running in a cross country race in Rochester when a middle-aged stranger attacked him.

The man got out of his car, shoved Chase down in the road and yelled “get out of here” before driving off, according to witnesses.

A few days after the Oct. 14 incident, the nonverbal 15-year-old runner handed his uniform back to his coach and quit the team.

Now Chase’s mother, Clarise Coleman, wants to know why Rochester authorities refuse to press charges against the man who admitted pushing Chase.

She fears the answer is this: Chase is black and disabled, and his attacker was white.

Whatever the reason, 57-year-old Martin MacDonald of suburban Pittsford was not charged. Rochester City Court Judge Caroline Morrison denied a requested arrest warrant charging MacDonald for second-degree harassment, despite Coleman’s desire to press charges.

The harassment charge is only a violation, with a maximum jail sentence of 15 days. But Coleman is outraged that authorities won’t seek at least that much justice for her son.

“If that man had been black and Chase had been white, and that (police) report went in, he’d have been in jail,” she said.

We’ve got our own Nightmare before Halloween here in Sabine Parish, Louisiana.  The KKK is actively getting out the vote.  This is from Lamar White, Jr. and his blog CenLamar.images

Shortly before midnight on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, members of the largest white supremacist hate group in the country, the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, distributed small zip-locked packets on the windshields of vehicles parked along the sleepy streets and in the driveways of Many, Louisiana.

Many, the seat of Sabine Parish, is a tiny town of less than 3,000 residents tucked away in the farthest corner of West Central Louisiana, within shouting distance of the Texas border.

According to the most recent Census, the town’s racial demographics are split almost evenly: 48.18% white and 47.42% African-American, and their most famous hometown hero is Charlie Joiner, an African-American and a record-breaking NFL wide receiver who was inducted into pro-football’s Hall of Fame and who was once praised by Coach Bill Walsh as “the most intelligent, the smartest, the most calculating receiver the game has ever known.”

Two days ago, members of a Ku Klux Klan organization (it’s not worth using the adjective “fringe,” because all KKK groups deliberately embrace their fringe identities) targeted Charlie Joiner’s hometown and, during the dead of the night, distributed these packets, according to multiple sources in Many and in the surrounding area:

Some highly inappropriate Halloween costumes have been rocking universities this weekend. An Arkansas college student was expelled over a black-face Bill Cosby costume.   Fans at a football game between Wisconsin and Nebraska used lynching to display their dislike of Clinton and the President Obama and support of Trump.  That was extremely appalling.

Wisconsin hosted Nebraska in Madison on Saturday night. In the stands at Camp Randall Stadium, one fan dressed in a Donald Trump mask, and that fan’s companion dressed in two masks: one for Hillary Clinton, one for President Obama.

The fan in the Trump mask appears to have depicted himself lynching his partner in the Obama and Clinton masks.

This election year seriously needs to be over ASAP.

Here’s some links for those of you interested in following the latest hooplah with the FBI and the bomb thrown by Senator Harry Reid yesterday.

From Politico: Poll: Comey’s bombshell changes few votes vintage-halloween-postcard-image-graphicsfairy

The race for the White House is tight, but it has not been radically changed by the FBI director’s bombshell announcement last week.  —  Hillary Clinton has a slim three-point lead over Donald Trump one week before Election Day …

From HillaryClinton.com:  An open letter from Former Prosecutors and other high ranking Justice officials.

It is out of our respect for such settled tenets of the United States Department of Justice that we are moved to express our concern with the recent letter issued by FBI Director James Comey to eight Congressional Committees.  Many of us have worked with Director Comey; all of us respect him.  But his unprecedented decision to publicly comment on evidence in what may be an ongoing inquiry just eleven days before a presidential election leaves us both astonished and perplexed. We cannot recall a prior instance where a senior Justice Department official—Republican or Democrat—has, on the eve of a major election, issued a public statement where the mere disclosure of information may impact the election’s outcome, yet the official acknowledges the information to be examined may not be significant or new.

Director Comey’s letter is inconsistent with prevailing Department policy, and it breaks with longstanding practices followed by officials of both parties during past elections.  Moreover, setting aside whether Director Comey’s original statements in July were warranted, by failing to responsibly supplement the public record with any substantive, explanatory information, his letter begs the question that further commentary was necessary.

From The Hill :  Reid: FBI has ‘explosive information’ about Trump, Russia

Harry Reid is alleging that the FBI has “explosive information” about a connection between Donald Trump  —  and the Russian government, suggesting that federal investigators have unveiled damning new information about the Republican presidential nominee.

I’m sure there’s a lot to be said still about all of this and the details coming out from the victim who alleges Trump raped her at 13.   

Remember, tis the season for Nasty women!  And Nasty women vote!!  Bad Hombres need to vote too!!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Lazy Saturday Reads: A Shocking Day In Politics

 matisse-woman-reading-with-tea1Good Afternoon!!

Yesterday was the worst day in politics that I can recall seeing in my many years of following politics closely. The closest thing I can remember is the “Saturday Night Massacre” in October 1973, when Nixon fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox along with Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy William D. Ruckelshaus. That was a shocking day.

Yesterday was a shocking day, and not just because of the video of Donald Trump degrading women and bragging about sexually assaulting them. Anyone who has paid any attention to Trump’s behavior over the past year and to his career before running for POTUS should have understood this is the kind of man he is. Just this year Trump has repeated defended Roger Ailes for sexually harassing and abusing women at Fox News.

And does anyone actually believe that there isn’t plenty more video demonstrating Trump’s abusive behavior?

Trump’s treatment of women has been well known over the years. In May, the New York Times published a lengthy article with example after example of Trump’s sexist and abusive behavior toward women. It sunk like a stone as the Times and the rest of the media focused on Hillary Clinton’s emails and then the Clinton Foundation.

But the shocking video released yesterday was not the only shocking revelation that came out. Trump also stated that he still believes the Central Park Five–African American and Hispanic teenagers who were wrongly convicted and served full sentences for raping a jogger in Central Park in 1989–are guilty, even though they were exhonerated by DNA evidence and the confession of the real perpetrator. NBC News New York:

Félix Vallotton, The Reader

Félix Vallotton, The Reader

Donald Trump stepped back into one of the most racially charged controversies in New York City history this week, saying he still believed the “Central Park Five” were guilty.

Two years after a judge approved a $41 million settlement with the five men, Trump told CNN they should not have been exonerated, after one of the men said he was hoping for an apology from the Republican presidential nominee.

“They admitted they were guilty,” Trump told CNN in a statement. “The police doing the original investigation say they were guilty.” ….

Following their arrest, Trump took out full-page ads in the city’s newspapers calling for New York to bring back the death penalty, though he did not explicitly say those five defendants should be executed.

And yet, many Republicans–including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan have not withdrawn their support from this man who has and will continue to shame their party and our country. Some Republicans are coming out to say they will no longer vote for Trump, it’s far too little and far too late. These people know who and what Trump was all along. Anyone who hadn’t already denounced him before yesterday are stuck with him.

Georges d'Espangnat

Georges d’Espangnat

There is no way the GOP can dump Trump from the ticket, and this morning he told Robert Costa of The Washington Post that he will never quit. 

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said in an interview Saturday that he would not drop out of the race under any circumstances, following calls from several in his party to do so.

“I’d never withdraw. I’ve never withdrawn in my life,” Trump told the Washington Post in a phone call from his home in Trump Tower in New York. “No, I’m not quitting this race. I have tremendous support.”

“People are calling and saying, ‘Don’t even think about doing anything else but running,” Trump said when asked about GOP defections. “You have to see what’s going on. The real story is that people have no idea the support. I don’t know how that’s going to boil down but people have no idea the support.

“Running against her,” Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, makes keeping the party behind him easier, Trump added.

“It’s because she’s so bad. She’s so flawed as a candidate. Running against her, I can’t say it’d be the same if I ran against someone else, but running against her makes it a lot easier, that’s for sure.”

jean-edouard-vuillard

jean-edouard-vuillard

Late last night in his so-called apology, Trump tried to excuse his behavior by claiming that Hillary and Bill Clinton have done far worse to women. If you haven’t seen it, here’s one place to watch it. Rolling Stone: 

Trump’s video apology came hours after the Republican nominee dismissed the footage as “locker room talk” and apologized only if “anyone was offended” by the comments.

However, rather than simply apologize, Trump used his video to further blast Bill and Hillary Clinton for alleged previous improprieties. Here’s the full transcript:

I’ve never said I’m a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I’m not. I’ve said and done things I regret, and the words released today on this more than a decade-old video are one of them. Anyone who knows me, know these words don’t reflect who I am.

I said it, it was wrong, and I apologize.

I’ve travelled the country talking about change for America. But my travels have also changed me. I’ve spent time with grieving mothers who’ve lost their children, laid off workers whose jobs have gone to other countries, and people from all walks of life who just want a better future. I have gotten to know the great people of our country, and I’ve been humbled by the faith they’ve placed in me. I pledge to be a better man tomorrow, and will never, ever let you down.

Let’s be honest. We’re living in the real world. This is nothing more than a distraction from the important issues we are facing today. We are losing our jobs, we are less safe than we were 8 years ago and Washington is broken.

Hillary Clinton, and her kind, have run our country into the ground.

I’ve said some foolish things, but there is a big difference between words and actions. Bill Clinton has actually abused women and Hillary has bullied, attacked, shamed and intimidated his victims. We will discuss this more in the coming days.

See you at the debate on Sunday.

So bragging about sexually abusing and assaulting women–actions that Trump admitted in the video–are “nothing more than a distraction.” That’s not an apology. And Trump went on to threaten more horrible behavior to come on Sunday night.

jacques emile blanche

jacques emile blanche

There undoubtedly will be more fallout today, but many Republicans are still saying this isn’t a “game-changer.”

Politico: GOP insiders: It’s not a knockout punch.

Leaked audio of Donald Trump making crude, sexually aggressive comments about women has dealt a serious blow to the GOP nominee’s presidential campaign, but swing-state Republican insiders aren’t convinced it will effectively end Trump’s chances in November.

A slim majority of Republican members of The POLITICO Caucus — a panel of activists, strategists and operatives in 11 battleground states — said they don’t think news reports of the Trump tape are a “knockout blow” for the GOP ticket. But while 54 percent of Republicans say Trump can overcome these comments, 46 percent say the New York real-estate magnate’s chances are doomed.

“Trump’s obscene comments might be the straw that broke the camel’s back for evangelical voters, Republican women and any remaining undecided voters,” said a Colorado Republican — who like all insiders, completed the survey anonymously in the hours after the tape of Trump describing trying to sleep with a married woman and boasting that he could kiss and grope women because of his celebrity.

“Our politics is tribal and polarized. So it’s not like this swings the thing 10 points,” a Virginia Republican added. “What it does though, and it has the same impact, is it further devastates Trump amongst women and white college-educated voters, two groups he had to make up big time ground with to even stand a chance of winning. Those windows have now permanently closed.”

We’ll see. Honestly it was hard for me to even write this post, and I’m sure it will be painful to read. It disgusts me that Hillary and here supporters have to deal with this racist, bigoted asshole when we should be celebrating the election of the first woman President of the United States. But I have no doubt that Hillary will maintain her dignity and make us proud again on Sunday night.

In a way it actually seems fitting that this woman who has been attacked for decades in the most disgusting and sexist ways will be the one to save our country from the danger and shame of a President Donald Trump.

I’ll have more links in the comment thread. Please feel free to post your thoughts and links on any topic.