Nel's New Day

October 27, 2022

Russian Invasion of Ukraine – Day 245

Russian President Vladimir Putin has one last chance to win his invasion of Ukraine—a GOP congressional takeover on November 8. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) suggested that the House would pull funding for the war if he becomes speaker. They would destroy Ukraine’s courageous struggle to keep its democracy at the same time that its troops are retaking land Russia started to occupy since its attack on February 24, 2022. Putin’s conscription attempts are bad to terrible, and men dragged onto the battle field are poorly equipped and badly trained. While Russian propaganda proposes Ukrainian genocide, the Russian attacks on Ukrainian power stations removing electricity from a million people has only increased Ukrainian resolve.

In the past, Republicans have exhibited friendship with Putin and Russia, and recent votes against aid for Ukraine has shows that continued Russian support by far-right congressional members. In a New Yorker interview with Isaac Chotiner, columnist Christopher Coldwell gave reasons for this GOP fondness for the brutal country trying to annihilate Ukrainians. The GOP sees Putin as an ally in their culture wars and the shared contempt for international institutions. They also admire Putin’s “macho nativist authoritarianism” and have been swayed by his trolling propaganda to influence U.S. elections in the past eight years.   

Fortunately, for Ukraine, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-CA) opposes McCarthy’s position. McConnell called on President Joe Biden to expedite military aid to Ukraine and promised GOP senators will work to ensure “timely delivery of needed weapons.” There was no mention of McCarthy, but the difference was obvious.

Another reason for the far-right extremist attachment to Putin is his similarity to Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) and their similar goals. Maureen Dowd wrote:

“They would rather destroy their countries than admit they have lost. They have each created a scrim of lies to justify lunatic personal ambition. And while it should be easy to see through these lies, both cult-of-personality leaders are able to con and bully enough people to remain puissant.”

The strongmen who went into Ukrainian apartments with rifles and forced the occupants to vote in favor of the sham referenda annexing eastern Ukraine oblasts bear an alarming resemblance in dress and manner to the men stalking the Arizona ballot drop boxes.

Conservatives permiting Russia to overcome Ukraine and move across Europe will have the same danger as conservatives’ supporting Germany in the leadup to World War II. With other members of “America First,” Charles Lindbergh, the hero of many people in the U.S. for making the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean, urged people to join Germany to preserve “our inheritance of European blood.” In 1940, editors of the conservative Wall Street Journal wrote that “our job today is not to stop Hitler [who had] already determined the broad lines of our national life at least for another generation.”

Famous U.S. manufacturers supported Germany’s efforts in his prewar preparations. In 1938, Henry Ford opened an assembly plant in Berlin to build “troop transport-style” vehicles for the German military, and both Ford and his chief executive received the Nazi Grand Cross of the German Eagle for “distinguished service.” GM built the “Blitz” truck in Berlin, used for German army blitzkreig attacks on Poland, France and the Soviet Union.   GM and Ford converted their Axis plant to production of military aircraft and trucks, building almost 90 percent of the armored “mule” 3-ton half-trucks and over 70 percent of the Reich’s medium and heavy-duty trucks which served as “the backbone of the German Army transportation system.” Ford provided access to huge quantities of raw materials, especially rubber, and GM gave Hitler the synthetic fuel technology. All the dealings were “extremely profitable.”

Eighty years later, blatant anti-Semitic attacks by leaders such as Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), Pennsylvania’s gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, and rapper Kanye West have resulted in the highest levels of harassment, vandalism, and violence toward Jews since the 1970s. Russians are donating millions of dollars to U.S. politicians—including DDT—through straw donors. Putin capitalized on U.S. political divisions with the statement that the West is divided into “traditional, mainly Christian values” and another—“aggressive, cosmopolitan, neocolonial, acting as the weapon of the neoliberal elite.”

The UN objected to a Russian argument that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cannot report to the Security Council regarding allegations Moscow is using Iran-made drones in Ukraine, violating a 2015 resolution. Tehran denies it supplied the drones, but they have been filmed in attacks. Russia also accused the U.S., Britain, France, and Germany of trying to exert influence over Guterres to investigate this use of drones. In addition, Russia may be advising Iran on ways to suppressing open demonstrations after the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini for not following Iran’s dress code.

Iranian troops are “directly engaged on the ground” in Crimea supporting Russian drone attacks on Ukraine’s power stations and other key infrastructure, according to the White House. Russians may need the Iranians to train them how to use their drones. Zelensky said that Russia had ordered 2,400 drones from Iran.

A senior Russian foreign ministry official threatened the U.S. and its allies with targeting their commercial satellites in return for their involvement in the Russian war against Ukraine. He may have been referring to SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellation, used by Ukrainian soldiers for communications, and synthetic aperture radar satellites tracking Russian troop and tank movements. The official made the same threat last month but may not have followed through because taking this action is difficult. In addition, Russians threaten to blow up a hydroelectric power plant in the Kherson region.

Russia also calls for the “de-Satanization” of Ukraine, a lie one step lower than their earlier goal of “de-Nazification” and reminiscent of the QAnon conspiracy theories in the U.S. Russian soldiers’ strategy to defeat Ukrainian civilians is to capture, torture, and then kill them in organized brutality throughout Russian occupied territory.

Ukraine is advancing on occupying Russian forces in Kherson despite heavy fighting. A Russian military blogger wrote, “I don’t exclude the surrender of Kherson [by the Russians].”

A recent discussion about nuclear-laced “dirty bombs” has been exacerbated by Russia’s letter to the UN with the evidence-free accusation that Ukraine plans to use them. While he spreads these lies, his military had an exercise of tests capable carrying nuclear warheads involving land, sea, and air. Videos of launches were published along with the defense minister’s claim that the tests were successful.

Earlier this week, Ukraine pushed back Wagner Group mercenaries operated by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Bakhmut, Donetsk, and seized a key highway in Luhansk. Prigozhin admitted slow progress amid “fierce enemy resistance.” Sergei Surovikin (aka General Armageddon), Russia’s new commander of the invasion in Ukraine known for his brutality, used the word “tense” in trying to retake southern and eastern Ukrainian regions that Russian President Vladimir Putin had claimed to annex through his coercive faux referenda. Russian troops are in danger of being pinned against the western bank of the 1,367-long Dnipro River bisecting Ukraine from north to south.

About trying to keep Kherson, Surovikin said, “The situation in this area is difficult.” He blames Ukraine for shelling infrastructure and residential buildings which Ukraine said was done by Russian military. Russians struggle to obtain supplies from the east because Ukrainians bombed the main bridge across the Dnipro and decided to ferry materials and equipment from the west bank of the Dnipro River to the eastern bank toward Russia. 

Syrian war crimes investigators may join crime victims in Ukraine to put Russian President Vladimir Putin into prison because he has used the same people, weapons, and tactics in both countries’ atrocities. In the command hierarchy, Putin is responsible for the crimes and its prosecution. Russia never agreed to be called up in the International Criminal Court, but Ukrainan courts or those in third countries could prosecute him. The U.S. could also declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism or support calls from Baltic states for an international tribunal to hold Putin and Russia accountable for the separate international crime of aggression used to prosecute Nazi criminals at Nuremburg. Putin’s international crimes have no statute of limitations.

A new shadow government in Belarus is planning to form a coalition with Ukraine to reduce Russia’s expansion after concerns that Russia will also invade Belarus. Taking Belarus allows Putin to move onto attacking Western Europe. Russia is sending about 9,000 troops and hundreds of armored vehicles for possible deployment.

In his latest escalation to the invasion, Putin has declared martial law in the four Ukrainian areas he annexed although he doesn’t occupy all the territory. He also ordered an “economic mobilization” in eight regions adjoining Ukraine, including Crimea, which Russia invaded and annexed in 2014. In Russia, he gave additional powers to leaders of its 80+ regions to protect critical facilities, maintain public order and increase production in support of the war effort.

U.S. F-16 warplanes intercepted two Russian bombers within the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone. It is a perimeter where air traffic is monitored beyond the border of national airspace to provide additional reaction time in case of hostile actions. A Russian jet also crashed into an apartment in Yeysk, a port town about 25 miles from Ukraine, while it was on a training mission. The death toll is at least 14, including three children.  

July 8, 2022

Conservatives in UK, US: A Study in Opposites

Boris Johnson, elected UK prime minister in December 2019, has been teetering on the edge of being driven out of what he calls “the best job in the world.” On July 7, 2022, he was forced out of 10 Downing Street after his own party no longer tolerated the scandals swirling around him. Johnson finally resigned when almost 60 members of his government quit although he plans to stay as leader until the Conservative Party finds his replacement.

“I’ve tried to persuade my colleagues that it would be eccentric to change governments when we’re delivering so much… and when the economic scene is so difficult domestically and internationally,” Johnson said. But his persuasion failed, and government officials want him out of government as soon as possible.

Roiling the country were the parties at his offices during the COVID lockdown, inappropriately using donor money to refurbish the Downing Street home for prime ministers, and ordering MPs to vote in protection for a colleague breaching lobbying rules. His second ethics adviser recently resigned in under two years. The tipping point was a drunken groping by one of his appointments. The man denied the allegations, but the public learned Johnson kept him in a top government office after knowing about other concerns about the person. His own party members questioned both his judgment and his willingness to be honest.

Esther Webber, a senior U.K. correspondent for Politico Europe, explained that people in the UK hate hypocrisy, the idea that a leader won’t follow the rules. The response to Johnson’s behavior was that they vote for the party and not the person. When Johnson no longer had the party’s support, they thought it was time him to go.

Johnson was known for his similarity to Dictator Donald Trump (DDT)—his early show business career, clownish behavior, and willingness to break the law. Instead of being statesmen, both are showmen, wallowing in the howls of their crowds where they spread their lies. They are both conservatives, but differences lay in Johnson’s intelligence, education, and his family’s political background. A huge difference between Johnson and DDT is that the prime minister’s officials decided not to lie for him. They aren’t willing to destroy their own reputations by defending Johnson.

The biggest difference between DDT and Johnson is that DDT refused to resign after he lost the election because his party enabled him whereas Johnson quit because his party held him accountable. Fifty years ago, GOP finally understood the corruption of Richard Nixon and told him that he didn’t have their support. Testimony against DDT in the past year has been far more damning, and Republicans largely doubled down to lie for him. Even those who considered a confrontation with him immediately after the insurrection on January 6 soon backed down and traveled the sacred trail to Mar-a-Lago to regain his approval. Conservatives in both countries regard their leaders, DDT and Johnson, as liabilities, but in the U.S. the GOP is counting on gerrymandering, voter suppression laws, courts, and a waning base to get them into power at any cost to the nation.

In the United States, GOP legislators are willing to go to any lengths—as far as overturning a presidential election to support DDT. A chief example is Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who is fighting his subpoena from a grand jury in Fulton County (GA) for his complaints to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff about procedures for counting absentee ballots in the 2020 general election. Graham contacted them twice and reviewing the ballots for fraud. That was at the same time when DDT was calling Raffensperger demanding another 11,780 votes, the number he thought he needed to win Georgia. After numerous recounts, however, Joe Biden won by 12,670 votes.  (Above: Graham during confirmation hearings for Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.) 

Graham’s lawyers tried to use his position as the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee as a justification, but he wasn’t representing the committee. He was calling as a DDT supporter to overturn the election. Another fake “justification” was the “Speech and Debate” statement in the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 6, Clause 1) to shield congressional members from questions about their legislative activities and their motivations. The Supreme Court had ruled in Gravel v. United States (1972) that lawmaker “errands” not part of their legislative function are not protected by the speech and debate clause. 

The close friendship between Graham and DDT since the death of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) made his reasons for asking Georgia to look into fraud highly questionable. The grand jury also subpoenaed DDT lawyers who worked on behalf of an organized effort to overturn Biden’s election: Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, Cleta Mitchell, Jenna Ellis, and Kenneth Chesebro.    

Jacki Pick Deason, another subpoenaed lawyer, presented heavily edited video before Georgia lawmakers in a December 2020 hearing falsely showing election workers producing “suitcases” of illegal ballots, according to court filings. State election officials’ investigation quickly showed the allegation to be false, but the spreading of the lies by Deason, Ellis, and Giuliani led to the massive disruption in the lives to two poll workers, Shaye Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman. who testified at one of the House January 6 investigative committee hearings. Chesebro worked with the local Republican Party to collect 16 fake electors who would then casting their false votes for DDT, part of Eastman’s plot.

Former federal prosecutor Shanlon Wu predicted that Graham’s legal argument to block the subpoena will lose in state court and his lawyers will appeal it to federal court. Wu thinks that the Supreme Court is unlikely to agree that the state of Georgia is a branch of the federal government, but other courts may question this rational position after recent rulings. He did describe Graham’s position as “an arrogant[,] pompous and legally weak argument from Graham [that] should be slam-dunk rejected by any court that hears it.”

In “The Most Pathetic Men in America,” Mark Leibovich uses interviews with DDT’s supporters in Congress for his lengthy essay to be printed in his forthcoming book Thank You for Your Servitude: Donald Trump’s Washington and the Price of Submission, highlighting Graham’s and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) as DDT’s sycophants who denigrated DDT in private and groveled before him in public.

Asked how he could go from being one of DDT’s “most merciless critics in 2016” to crawling to him afterward, Graham used the term “relevance.” McCarthy said that his relationship with DDT was exciting, just the idea that he could get him on the phone any time. Once on the cover of Time as “The Republican Savior,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) predicted a “reckoning” inside the GOP before becoming an avid DDT minion.

Asked about their legacy as a DDT fanatic, Rudy Giuliani, subpoenaed for his part in trying to overturn the 2020 election, said, “Fuck it.” Olivia Nuzzi, working for the New York magazine, said his fly was unzipped at the time, and he was drunk on Bloody Marys. Former AG Bill Barr, responded, “Everyone dies.” McCarthy said nobody was putting up to ethical GOP representatives such as Jeff Flake from Arizona and Mark Sanford from South Carolina. Graham said, “Don’t care,” and then talked about the migrant children separated from their parents and kept in cages, “I don’t care if they have to stay in these facilities for 400 day.”

Leibovich wrote:

“The gap between the public adoration expressed by Trump’s Republican lickspittles and the mocking contempt they voiced for him in private could be gaping. This was never more apparent, or maddening, as in the weeks after the 2020 election. ‘For all but just a handful of members, if you put them on truth serum, they knew that the election was fully legitimate and that Donald Trump was a joke.’”

Republicans kept saying after the election to be patient, and Graham said to give DDT the “space” required for him to come to grips with his losing the majority of the electoral votes. McCarthy said he was trying to “manage” DDT until he accepted reality. A senior GOP official said, “What is the downside for humoring him for this little bit of time?” That “little bit of time” turned into a mob of DDT’s supporters attacked the Capitol Police, including spearing one of them with a flagpole still attached to the U.S. flag. After DDT moved out of the White House, Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) showed up at Mar-a-Lago to personally present him with Scott’s invented “Champion for Freedom” trophy. Susan Glasser quoted a former U.S. ambassador describing former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as “a heat-seeking missile for Trump’s ass.” Pompeo is considering a run for the 2024 presidential candidate against DDT.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), a GOP member of the House investigative committee, said , “McCarthy started all of that.” Asked about her legacy, she looked toward historical biographer David McCullough, delights in spending his days with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson and all of the other Founding Fathers. Cheney lamented, “I have to spend my days with Kevin McCarthy.”

Inspirational are the small collection of DDT’s administration and elected official testifying at the House committee’s hearings, suffering intimidation, threats, and smears while telling the truth. Meanwhile, Graham went to Ukraine with Richard Blumenthal (D-CO) to present President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with the resolution adding Russia to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism that the two senators introduced in May.

June 30, 2022

Supreme Court Destroys Constitution, Part I

The swearing in of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson onto the U.S. Supreme Court makes two firsts for the high court: she is the first Black woman to be a justice, and the high court has four female justices for the first time in history. The 116th justice, she replaces Stephen Breyer who retired just before her being seated. Jackson was appointed in February and faced rugged confirmation hearings, rife with racism and transphobic questions and statements from Republican senators. The 53-47 vote approving her appointment was largely on party lines. Her swearing-in came immediately after the high court announced a large number of controversial rulings, many of them removing the rights of people in the U.S. [Photo: Jackson takes a judicial oath from Breyer, right, while her husband, Patrick Jackson, holds two bibles.]

On the last day of June, the activist conservative Supreme Court completed its release of opinions, promoting guns, opposing pro-choice, and supporting other pro-death positions. As the six Supremes twist the Constitution for their own purposes, they following their only rationale: they can do it.

Three of this week’s decisions:

West Virginia v. EPA:  Like the multiyear strategy by GOP officials, conservative legal activists, and funders to rewrite law in Roe v. Wade, the GOP-appointed justices curbed the EPA’s ability to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants by ruling that the EPA lacks broad authority to shift energy production from coal-burning power plants to cleaner sources such as solar and and power. As Justice Elena Kagan said in her dissent, the majority didn’t even “see what the new rule says” before ruling. In fact, there was no rule after the D.C. Circuit Court rejected one from Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Kagan also wrote:

“The subject matter of the regulation here makes the Court’s intervention all the more troubling. Whatever else this Court may know about, it does not have a clue about how to address climate change. And let’s say the obvious: The stakes here are high. Yet the Court today prevents congressionally authorized agency action to curb power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions. The Court appoints itself — instead of Congress or the expert agency — the decision-maker on climate policy. I cannot think of many things more frightening.”

Kagan noted that the conservatives’ impositions on EPA’s authority “fly in the face of the statute Congress wrote.” The majority stated that “it is simply ‘not plausible’ that Congress enabled EPA to regulate power plants’ emissions through generation shifting. But that is just what Congress did when it broadly authorized EPA in Section 111 to select the ‘best system of emission reduction’ for power plants.” Regarding the conservatives’ claim that they are textualists, she wrote, “The current Court is textualist only when being so suits it.”

The current court examines an executive branch policy that was never enacted and follows this court’s pattern of obstructing EPA’s efforts, beginning with staying the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan—an unprecedented action. This rule had set a goal for each state to limit carbon emissions but permitted states to determine how to meet those goals.

The decision is dangerous not only for refusal to delay climate warming in this one respect but also denial of the EPA ability to fight the climate crisis overall. The Clean Air Act, originally signed by President Lyndon Johnson and amended by presidents of both parties, has saved “millions of lives and trillions of dollars.” According to experts, the ruling can set the U.S. back years and have deadly, costly impacts. About 25 percent of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions come from generating electricity with coal about 20 percent of U.S. electricity.

According to Kagan, the majority isn’t following precedent but making up justifications. “The Court has never even used the term ‘major questions doctrine’ before.” This ruling states that biggest issues should be settled by Congress, not agencies, with no definition for the biggest issues. Justices  assigned technical decisions to unknowledgeable lawmakers instead of experts. The activist conservative justices could also apply the “Major Questions Doctrine” to all areas such as health, safety, and consumer protections. In another area, the six Supremes could block IX regulations, such as handling sexual misconduct allegations.

Noted legal expert Rick Hasen wrote about how the self-identified “textualists” deviate from valid textual analysis, proving Kagan’s point about the new opportunist “textualists.” In West Virginia, they failed to use the words of a statute in context with surrounding text, to read punctuation and grammar, and to examine dictionaries and other literature to determine meaning. Hasen wrote, “Instead, the Justices pull a rabbit out of a hat and avoid the words of the statute almost in their entirety.” The justices’ “substantive cannon … comes from the value judgments of the conservative Justices and from nowhere else. These justices are skeptical of broad administrative power, and of executive power generally. These justices know that in a closely divided Congress, its rulings like this will stymie legislative action on issues like climate change or preventing the spread of Covid. And they are fine with that… So much for honest textualism.”

Ardoin v. Robinson: The six Supremes blocked a district court’s order requiring the Louisiana legislature to draw new congressional maps that included a second majority-Black district. The lower court found that the original map likely violates Section 2 of the federal Voting Rights Act. The justices put the challenge to the map on hold until deciding a similar dispute involving Alabama redistricting. With the oral argument on October 4, the old racist maps will obviously be used in the 2022 general election. Louisiana’s Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards had vetoed the original map, but the legislature overrode him. Blacks comprise almost one-third of the state’s population, but the Supreme Court map has only one of six districts with a majority of Black voters.

On June 6, a federal judge agreed the challengers had a good case and told the legislature to draw a revised map for two majority-Black districts. Louisiana’s secretary of state Kyle Ardoin asked the 5th Circuit Court freeze the judge’s order, but a three-judge panel with appointments by Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump rejected the request. Ardoin appealed, and the panel set oral arguments for early July. On June 17, however, Ardoin asked the Supreme Court to put the district court’s order on hold by June 20, claiming the 5th Circuit Court’s refusal had  thrown the state “into divisive electoral pandemonium” and created “confusion statewide, all of which undermines confidence in the integrity of upcoming congressional elections.” He added that the “racial gerrymander … is particularly ‘odious.’”

Early voting doesn’t begin until October, over two months away, and the original map is the one that is racially gerrymandering. Yet the six Supremes bypassed the Court of Appeals to ignore a very conservative panel of judges and violate a law. The one-page order from the six Supremes provides no explanation of why they stripped half the Black representation in the U.S. House of Representatives.  

Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta: Oklahoma—and perhaps other states—now have the authority to prosecute non-Native people committing crimes against a Native person on tribal lands. This conservative majority was only 5-4 with Neil Gorsuch joining the three “liberal” justices. Gorsuch wrote that the Cherokee were promised they would be free from state interference when they were exiled to Oklahoma:  

“Where this Court once stood firm, today it wilts. Where our predecessors refused to participate in one State’s unlawful power grab at the expense of the Cherokee, today’s Court accedes to another’s.”

In 2015, Oklahoma state prosecutors charged Victor Castro-Huerta for the malnourishment and neglect of his five-year-old disabled stepdaughter and sentenced him to 35 years in prison. Castro-Huerta is not Native, but his stepdaughter is. The abuse occurred on the Cherokee Reservation. According to the Supreme Court opinion in McGirt v. Oklahoma (2020), Castro-Huerta could be only federal prosecuted.

The new decision limits McGirt, which declared much of eastern Oklahoma an American Indian reservation and blocked the state from prosecuting Native Americans on these lands which includes much of Tulsa. Instead, offenders are prosecuted in either tribal or federal court. The state is unable to “prosecute anyone for crimes committed on tribal land if either the victim or perpetrator is Native American.” Oklahoma overturns part of McGirt with the opinion that the state can intervene when victims are tribal members.

Native American rights advocate Gentner Drummond won the June 28 GOP primary for Oklahoma AG by defeating John O’Connor, Gov. Kevin Stitt’s choice who he had appointed last year for AG. Drummond had said that he was “not in favor of ripping [away] Native Americans’ rights they have been granted by treaty.” O’Connor called for disestablishing the six recognized Indian Nations in eastern Oklahoma. Drummond also called O’Connor Stitt’s personal attorney, leaving none for Oklahoma.

The ruling applies to all states if Congress doesn’t pass a law opposing that action for a given tribe of reservation. The result is a massive disruption of Indian Country criminal justice, including tribes’ prosecuting non-Indians for intimate partner violence and child abuse. The dissent stated that Congress could easily use a quick reversal as it did in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (2007).

Lobbyist Grover Norquist said:

“My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

The six Supremes have the same goal for the Constitution, and they’ll do it in a much shorter time.

To be continued.

February 14, 2022

Just on Monday: DDT’s Finances, Sarah Palin’s Lost Lawsuit, Trucker Convoy

The rats are leaving the sinking Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) ship. His tax firm, Mazars Accounting, fired the Trump Organization as its client and stated that last decade’s statements “should no longer be relied upon.”  AG Letitia James, investigating DDT’s financial affairs for a civil suit, had already described his valuation process as often inaccurate or misleading when compared with the supporting data and documentation that the Trump Organization submitted to its accounting firm.” DDT greatly low-balled the property valuations for taxation purposes while inflating them to get loans.

Last year, James obtained DDT’s personal and corporate tax returns back to 2011. Mazars refuse finish this year’s tax returns, due February 15, 2021, including personal returns for Melania Trump and Donald Trump Jr. The taxes have unresolved information regarding the apartment of Matthew Calamari Jr., son of DDT’s security director, who was called to testify in a separate case about a tax fraud scheme for employees receiving untaxed payment including cars and apartments.

Mazars executive and accountant Donald Bender has helped prepare DDT’s financial statements since at least 2002. The company’s departure is joined by banks, law firms, and consulting firms refused to do business with the Trump Organization. The Trump Organization statement declared there were no “material discrepancies.” James’ examination of DDT’s statements to banks and insurers between 2004 and 2020, however, revealed numerous discrepancies between the properties’ condition and DDT’s assertions about them on those such as his Seven Springs estate (Westchester County, NY), his triplex in Trump Tower, his Scotland golf resort, his Westchester golf club, Trump Park Avenue in Manhattan, and his 40 Wall Street office building.

James’ office found inaccuracies in the Trump Organization statements to the IRS and General Services, holding the federal lease to DDT’s D.C. hotel. The attorney general is working with Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg in his criminal investigation. DDT’s son Eric, who oversees the Trump businesses, and the Trumps’ lawyers, claim James has a political bias.

Last fall, DDT was $1.3 billion in debt, including an additional $200 million after he left the White House. Over $730 million is owed in the next three years, part of it $100 million on Trump Tower in September 2022 and $285 on a New York skyscraper million in November 2022. Another $353 million comes due in 2023 and 2024.  By 2020, DDT was down to $93 million in liquid assets, $200 million less than in 2015, and could owe between $100 million and $300 million or more in back taxes, restitution, and penalties. None of DDT’s businesses makes a profit, and his legal fees of $1.6 million are rapidly increasing. 

DDT’s holdings may be worth $2.1 billion, but that’s about two-thirds of their value before the pandemic. Before his father died, DDT declared bankruptcy and got more millions from his father, no longer possible. His only guaranteed income is an annual pension of about $200,000 for having been elected president, and his move toward “poverty” could be dangerous for the United States. DDT’s wealth of information, especially if he’s receiving classified briefings, will be valuable to foreign governments when he seeks help from them. Without help from domestic banks, foreign loans are his only resort. His biggest need, however, would be to be elected president to regain that clout.

To divert from from attention from Mazurs’ letter that he was likely cheating on his taxes and other financial statements, DDT promoted the evidence-free claim that Hillary Clinton “spied” on him during his campaign by hacking him. He called for Clinton to be executed, and sycophant Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) echoed the call to kill Clinton for the non-existent crime. Jordan said, “We’ve never seen anything like this in history …, truly unprecedented,” failing to acknowledge that most of what DDT does is “truly unprecedented.”

Jordan also has a reason for diverting the media into a new direction: he’s been called before the House January 6 investigative committee to explain his personal role in the insurrection—another “truly unprecedented” action. Michael Edison Hayden with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s intelligence project referenced Jordan and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) when he said, “Some of these politicians sound more like 8chan posters, or Daily Stormer commenters, than leaders.” Among other inflammatory declarations, DDT failed to condemn white supremacists, promoted the extremist Proud Boys, and told January 6 insurrectionists “we love you” in his video address after the attack on the U.S. Capitol.  

DDT accused former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann of working for Clinton in his investigation into a “covert communications channel” between the Trump Organization and Alfa Bank, tied to the Kremlin. Sussman actually represented Tech Executive-1. An examination of Special Investigator John Durham’s report shows no direct connection between the Clinton campaign and the Alfa Ban investigation, and Durham didn’t use the term “infiltrate” as Fox asserted.

These claims came from DDT’s former staffer Kash Patel who focuses on protecting DDT. He allegedly pushed intelligence agencies to release classified secrets, hoping to prove unfair prosecution of DDT and illegally disclosed classified information. Close to heading up the CIA, he was also suspected of controlling U.S. intelligence and military command centers to keep DDT in the White House. Patel was apppointed as Pentagon chief of staff in November 2020 and blocked President-elect Joe Biden’s transition from access to information and officials.

During the past six years, DDT has a history of non-fact accusations about being “wire tapped,” starting out with President Obama as the false perpetrator. With Patel, DDT entered another chapter.

After a decade-long battle, Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate, again lost her libel case against the New York Times this time when a judge plans to dismiss the lawsuit. He said she didn’t meet the high legal standard of “actual malice” in a 2017 editorial with an inaccurate claim about her and would formally issue the ruling after the jury verdict. It was the first libel suit against the NYT to go to trial almost 20 years.  Palin may appeal the ruling to a higher court. The trial had been delayed because of Palin’s positive COVID results although she ate out twice in New York restaurants during that time without wearing a mask.

The newspaper editorial connected the 2011 shooting of then-Rep. Gabby Giffords, along with the wounding of 13 others and the deaths of six, to the map on Palin’s website from her PAC showing crosshairs on several districts, including that of Giffords. After the NYT apologized for the error of the connection, a judge initially dismissed the case, but a federal court took it. The New York Times v. Sullivan case (1964) ruled that a public figure must prove an outlet operated with “actual malice” in publishing defamatory information.

The battle is not yet finished; the case could end up with the conservative Supreme Court that tends to rule against First Amendment rights. If the high court were to overturn the 1964 decision, right-wing media outlets could be in worse trouble than mainstream sources.

On the flip side, a federal judge, appointed by DDT, has ruled that federal agencies cannot base decisions on the global “social cost of carbon.” In Louisiana, James Cain stated that the guideline “directly causes harm” for state revenue from the oil and gas lease sales.

The trucker convoy in Canada to stop mandatory vaccinations for Canada-U.S. crossings is temporarily halted, and traffic again flows on Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit (MI) daily carrying $360 million in cargo, about 25 percent of the trade between the two countries. The seven-day blockade caused just the auto industry to face losses as high as $988 million. The cost of the blockades so far has been estimated at $300 million a day. Plants from Ford, GM, Stellantis, Honda, and Toyota have all been idled, and hundreds of thousands of workers without pay are accompanied by a shortage of new cars, once again forcing up prices.

Protesters are still choking traffic in Ottawa and crossings in Emerson, Manitoba, and Coutts, Alberta. Canada’s capital is still paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional daily policing. Over half the Canadians, 53 percent, oppose the protests, and 59 percent disapprove of the truckers’ tactics. The numbers are rising as the protests continue.

Evidence of U.S. support from conservatives came after hackers found the 92,845 donors to the Christian fundraising site GiveSendGo and put them online. Vice grabbed the data: 56 percent of donors came from the U.S. although the 29 percent of Canadians outraised them, $4.3 million to $3.6 million. Hackers also diverted the website, still offline, to GiveSendDone.wtf that shows a video from Disney’s film Frozen with a statement comparing donors to insurrectionists. GiveSendGo provides a platform for extremists—the Proud Boys, QAnon followers, and families of January 6 insurrectionists in prison. A Canadian judge froze the $8.7 million from the Christian site, and the GoFundMe website was closed down after $10 million, returning all but $1 million to the donors.  

Rep. Rand Paul (R-KY) is just one GOP congressional member calling for big trucker protests in the United States to “clog things up” and incidentally destabilize the nation’s economy. Their promotion failed at the Super Bowl so now they’re hoping to blockade Biden’s State of the Union speech on March 1. The GOP, the new party of protest.  

January 17, 2022

Supreme Court Caught on Religion

Filed under: Religion — trp2011 @ 12:59 AM
Tags: , , , ,

For the first time in history, the Supreme Court has no self-identified Protestant. Although Neil Gorsuch now attends the Anglican Church, he was raised Catholic, putting him one of the seven Catholics sitting on the bench. Steven Breyer and Elena Kagan are Jewish. This demographic is at odds with the religious makeup of the U.S. population: 20 percent Catholic and two percent Jewish. Another 43 percent are Protestant, and 26 percent of the population considers themselves unaffiliated. Thus 78 percent of the U.S. population has no representation on the Supreme Court.

Religion should not interfere with a judge’s ruling, but a strong Catholic upbringing can result in a hierarchal and patriarchal philosophy in governance and behavior. Amy Coney Barrett demonstrated her adherence to the church by serving on the board of her religion’s schools after knowledge of their sexual abuse became well known. Decisions are delivered from the top in the Catholic Church with no allowance for democratic input or appeal. The rationale of originalism or textualism, when convenient, is especially important to Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, following the former Catholic justice Anthony Scalia.

Thus the conservative Catholic justices view the U.S. Constitution, intended to be secular, as holy Scripture that must be read for its words and not its meaning. The end result is a controlling authority by these justices by only the elite. This ideology fits the Republican party that expects their justices to follow party dictates to obtain the GOP political goals.

Since justices appointed by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) have gained the majority, one of them only ten days before Joe Biden was elected president, they have permitted the rampant spread of COVID in churches, kept refugees in Mexico, and refused to block evictions during the pandemic. Recently, the majority permitted vigilantes to pursue anyone “assisting” with abortions, even if that meant only talking positively about abortions and giving a pregnant person a ride for her procedure.

The Reformation, a protest against Catholicism, began a more bottom-up approach to decision-making, and Protestantism influenced the U.S. political governing bodies from the days of the Founding Fathers. Women began to be admitted to Protestant clergy and leadership decades ago, and Protestant ideology is one of “priesthood of all believers” in which people use independent consciences to make decisions. From this comes a process of independent judicial thought, missing among the SCOTUS majority.

Catholics tend to oppose separation of church and state, obvious in the Supreme Court decisions within the past several months. Activism of the conservative majority effects this through its “state law” instead of constitutional law. In that way, the Republicans can control a majority of states, thereby controlling a majority of senators to block laws presented by Democrats. Through the increase of religious control within DDT’s four years, the country has become increasingly polarized because conservative Christian religion expanded its control over laws for all people, no matter what religion they have—or don’t have. The Supreme Court has the ultimate rule over any laws. At this time, the conservative majority of justices is enforcing religion over secular law, using any artifice they wish.

During this term, the Supreme Court will decide such religious cases as whether taxpayers must fund tuition at non-licensed private religious schools, whether the city hall can fly a religious flag on the city flag pole, and if a person being executed can have non-Christian spiritual advisers—which Alabama and Texas have banned.

The high court will now take Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, the case of a Washington state high school football coach who wanted to pray at mid-field after games. A parent had filed a complaint because his son, an atheist and one of the team players, felt as if he must join in the prayer to avoid loss of playing time. The district tried to make accommodations for the coach by offering a private space for prayer or permitting him to pray after the crowd had left. He continued the practice and was placed on paid administrative leave. The head coach recommended he not be rehired for a variety of reasons, and Kennedy, who didn’t apply for a coaching position, used the First Amendment and civil rights laws to suit the school district. His appeal against the decisions by the district court and the 9th Circuit Court to the Supreme Court in 2018 was turned down although Alito issued a statement, joined by Thomas, Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh, that the court might review it in the future. The high court now has its majority for the coach with Barrett.

Another case likely to appear before the Supreme Court could come from mandatory vaccines starting with those in military service. The troops have peacefully agreed to take 17 different vaccinations, but some of them are balking at the vaccination for COVID. In early January, a federal judge in Texas blocked the Defense Department from taking action against 35 Navy sailors refusing the coronavirus vaccine, stating that they can use religion as an excuse because the vaccine uses cell lines from a voluntarily aborted fetus. The Navy does not permit religious exemption to any vaccine before the COVID vaccination.

Success with this excuse would also exempt people from vaccines against rubella (German measles), hepatitis, chicken pox, smallpox, and polio as well as over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, Tylenol, Pepto Bismol, Tums, Lipitor, Senokot, Maalox, Ex-Lax, Claritin, Benadryl, Sudafed, Preparation H, Claritin, Prilosec, and Zoloft. In addition, the most popular treatment COVID, the monoclonal antibody Regeneron, was derived from fetal tissue as was the medication Remdesivir. 

A major missing piece in “religious freedom” is a formal definition of “religion,” something that the courts have never established. In 1890, the Supreme Court wrote in Davis v. Beason:

“[T]he term ‘religion’ has reference to one’s views of his relations to his Creator, and to the obligations they impose of reverence for his being and character, and of obedience to his will.”

An expansion of this explanation in Torcaso v. Watkins (1961) was the statement that the establishment clause prevents government from aiding “those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs.” A footnote clarified that this principle extended to “religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God … Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism and others.”

In United States v. Seeger (1965), the court addressed conscientious objector status by people objecting to war individuals for reasons other than a supreme being, which the statute required, as did Welsh v. United States (1970) which combined religion with deeply and sincerely held moral and ethical beliefs.

Yet by 1972, the majority in Wisconsin v. Yoder applied the free-exercise clause only to “a ‘religious’ belief or practice and “the very concept of ordered liberty precludes allowing every person to make his own standards on matters of conduct in which society as a whole has important interests.” Thomas v. Review Board (1981) went further away from protecting philosophical values, ruling that a Jehovah’s Witness who quit his job after transfer to a weapons-making facility was motivated by his religious beliefs.

Courts throw around the words “religion” and religious freedom” but have no guidance about what they mean. The current court’s “definition” of religious freedom makes people denied freedom by the religion into second-class citizens, in some situations even in danger of illness.

Last Saturday night, DDT, the man who appointed one-third of the Supreme Court justices met with 15,000 of his faithful followers at Florence (AZ), home to the prison where the state performs executions. Once again, John F. Kennedy didn’t appear to be president, and the “live performances” by dead musicians and singers such as Michael Jackson, Prince, Whitney Houston, Janis Joplin, Tupac, and John Lennon didn’t materialize.  [visual: trump tired]

Last July, DDT looked a bit tired at his appearance in Sarasota (FL), but he evidently lasted 93 minutes to worshipping cries. As usual, he spewed lies about election fraud in a state spending $5.8 million, only to find fewer votes for him and no criminal charges for any fraud. Pennsylvania, which wants to mimic Arizona with a so-called “forensic investigation” into the 2020 election, suffered a setback after the state Supreme Court temporarily delayed a private inspection of the Dominion voting machines used in a heavily GOP county, population 14,500, where DDT won 85 percent of the vote.

The New York Times bravely did a fact-check on DDT’s statements and published one article about how nervous Republicans are about DDT’s repetition of past grievances.  Otherwise, the mainstream media largely ignored the event. The world is tired of DDT’s stale repetitions, and he isn’t getting any buzz for them. People aren’t even outraged about him anymore; they’re just waiting to see what comes out of the January 6 investigation—and the Supreme Court.

 

January 7, 2022

GOP Continues Its Shameful Behavior

Until January 6, 2022, President Joe Biden occasionally referred to Deposed Dictator Trump (DDT) only as “the other guy.” In his speech commemorating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol one year earlier, however, he consistently condemned the lies told by “the former president of the United States” and how destructive the statements from “the former president” are for democracy in the United States. Biden didn’t use DDT’s name once in his 16 references to DDT, one time calling him a “defeated former president” and declaring that his outsized ego won’t allow him to admit he lost.

DDT wasn’t happy about Biden’s speech. Banned from social media for his lying, DDT issued press releases with accusations that the U.S. has corrupt elections, isn’t energy independent, and has a deteriorating international standing. He continued with the false claim about the “rigged” 2020 presidential election—and the same lie again. The next one accused Democrats of trying to “stop the peaceful transfer” of power and made claims of new evidence that Georgia, who he begged for just 11,780 more votes for his win, was selling ballots for $10 and frequent statement about the election itself being “the real insurrection.”

Biden, however, didn’t let the insurrectionists off the hook. He said:

“Those who stormed this Capitol, and those who instigated and incited, and those who called on them to do so, held a dagger at the throat of America and American democracy. They didn’t come here out of patriotism or principle. They came here in rage — not in service of America but rather in service of one man.

“You cannot love your country only when you win. You can’t obey the law only when it’s convenient. You can’t be patriotic when you embrace and enable lies.”

Republicans angrily berated Biden for his lack of unity and plaintively crying about how Biden was “politicizing” January 6. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich gave the strangest comment:

“Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.’”

Other shameful events:

Numerous studies point out the massive ignorance of Fox watchers, and their “reporting” on January 6 was a prime example of why. During the many events commemorating the biggest disaster in the U.S. since 9/11, Fox featured a video of a painting dog. On Fox & Friends between 6:20 and 9:00 am, the insurrection anniversary received two slight mentions, a news headline package and Brian Kilmeade’s suggestion that Biden was trying to divert attention to les damaging topics for him. Lara Trump talked about how much time Biden spent in Delaware (not as much as her father-in-law’s disappearance from the White House), a nurse discussed her firing for not being vaccinated, a former U.S. Marine complained about Biden’s Afghanistan pullout, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced distribution of COVID test kits but omitted his allowing almost one million of them to expire from nonuse.

Newsmax, a more conservative network than Fox, used Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) to complain about the bad treatment January 6 insurrectionists were receiving in jail. Conservative news outlets ignored speeches describing experiences while under siege. Top Breitbart headlines included “Democrat Day of Hysteria,” “Kamala Unhinged” and “Dividin’ Biden Blames Trump.” RedState.com led with “The Twisted Morality of Those Who Obsess over January 6th.”

Ignorance.

Jacob Chansley, aka the QAnon Shaman photographed bare-chested in furs at the insurrection and carrying a spear, celebrated his January 6 by calling a QAnon show about his new fake theory about underground civilizations where the military are developing technology “several hundred years” more advanced than on the earth’s surface. Jackson Lahmeyer, Oklahoma’s U.S. Senate candidate, hosted Michael Flynn, who called the Biden administration “a takeover of the United States system of government” and “a shift from democracy to socialism.” Lahmyer consistently called Biden the “former vice president.” He held up a copy of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto and said the current administration was a “total communist takeover.” Flynn continued to call for a military coup in the U.S. and called for “soldiers.”

Fox’s Tucker Carlson brought Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) to his knees for repeating his statement about the January 6 assault being a “violent terrorist attack.” The FBI defines domestic terrorism as “violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.” Tucker lashed out at Cruz and his statement, and Cruz rushed to talk to Carlson on his program to take back his comments and apologize. Carlson finally agreed that people who attack police officers should be prosecuted but may not be terrorists. He also told Cruz he didn’t believe his explanation that he “used a dumb choice of words,” sent later in a tweet. Cruz, who considers himself second in running for the 2024 presidential election after DDT, can’t even stand up to a media outlet. Although he was part of the congressional cabal to overturn Biden’s election on January 6.

Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) did have a little press conference as planned, but the highly conservative Newsmax walked out on it. About Cruz’s description about the attack, Gaetz said Cruz can “bend over” all he wants but nobody will ever love him. On Steve Bannon’s podcast, Gaetz claimed that the Capitol was “booby trapped” by removing barriers (probably why attackers climbed the walls) by people who “didn’t know they were breaking the law.” He also said all of them, including himself and Greene, were “blood libeled.” (Blood libel, aka ritual murder libel, is a false anti-Semitic accusation that Jews murder Christian children or other gentiles to use their blood in religious rituals.)

The Supreme Court began 2022 with conservative judges and attorneys arguing against mandates for vaccinations. “The fact that you face at work that risk when you go to work doesn’t make it a workplace risk,” a right-wing attorney told Justice Elena Kagan. Two of the lawyers opposing the mandate argued from home, one of the perks of white-collar employees, because they have COVID

Conservative justices, a majority because of DDT, will most likely use this case to quash the ability of agencies to determine regulations for the nation’s laws. For its vaccination mandate, OSHA used a federal law permitting it to issue an “emergency temporary standard” when it determines that it’s “necessary” to protect employees from a “grave danger” resulting from “physically harmful” “agents” or “new hazards.” The coronavirus is both an infectious “agent” and a “new hazard” that poses a “grave danger.” The mandate fits the law. Justices, however, don’t want to authorize the law because they came from the Federalist movement to erase “the administrative state,” agencies implementing laws passed by Congress. Chief Justice John Roberts opposes OSHA’s mandate because it is based on a law passed “50 years ago.” Despite the burgeoning additional 849,181 infections and 2,015 deaths in the U.S. from COVID yesterday, the six conservatives will find some “constitutional” way around the law designed to slow the pandemic.

Texas, the state where vigilantes can pursue people supporting abortion and women die because the procedure is no longer legally available, now minimize long voting lines like long lines for COVID testing. The state GOP posted an image actually taken in Manhattan. Beto O’Rourke, former Texas representative and current gubernatorial candidate, addressed Gov. Greg Abbott when he wrote, “76,000 Texans have died on your watch and one-fifth of the state’s healthcare workers quit because Abbott “abandoned them.”  

New Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin is mimicking DDT by picking Andrew Wheeler, former coal lobbyist and DDT’s EPA chief, for his secretary of natural resources to obtain a “growing power supply.” While in the federal government, Wheeler promoted pollution by rolling back environmental rules and falsely claimed the climate change threat won’t happen until “50 to 75 years out.” Wheeler’s confirmation goes to the state Senate with a Democratic majority of 21-19. Anti-abortion will likely be another Youngkin issue: when a crowd lambasted him for not being sufficiently against abortions, he told them he had to stay quiet about his anti-abortion beliefs so that he could get elected. A year ago, Wheeler failed to condemn the January 6 attack and refused to criticize DDT.

The party of White supremacy is whitewashing the right-wing insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, by denial, differentiation (It wasn’t that bad according to conspiracy theorists like Tucker Carlson), and transcendence (look at the bigger picture). Another diversion is bolstering, claiming that DDT’s base loved the way he fought for them. Since the beginning of his campaign in 2015, DDT has attacked the United States and licensed people to follow his hatred through his confirmation.

October 18, 2021

Racist Problems Caused by Legislature

Southlake (TX), population 32,376, has a Black percentage of 1.7 percent and a household median income over $240,000; most students attend schools in the Carroll ISD. The idyllic community became the focus of an NBC documentary, Southlake: Racial Reckoning in a Texas Suburb, after a video of students shouting racial slurs led to students sharing accounts of racism and discrimination. A school board attempt to address the problem caused a culture war about the non-existent teaching of GOP-invented issue of “critical race theory (CRT)” when the vast majority of White conservatives decided to wipe out any mention of racism with the help of new Texas legislation. 

A new superintendent in the school district of 8,400 students developed a plan to work on the problems of racism, but wealthy conservative parents elected school board members to quash support for anyone except white students. Again, Southlake stories went viral. First, the school board voted 3-2 to reprimand a fourth-grade teacher, named the school’s teacher of the year, for having the book This Book Is Anti-Racist in her classroom. Parents of one child who donated $1,000 to elect the school board members complained the book was against their “morals and faith.” In over 5,000 reviews, the book had received an average of 4.35 stars out of five.

The reprimand came from the demand that any classroom libraries had to “give deference to both sides” of historical topics. In a “training” of book content, a top district administrator mandated the new requirement for classroom libraries, even books about the Holocaust when German Nazis killed over 6 million people, primarily Jews, in concentration camps during the 1940s. A secret recording of the training also went viral.  

Despite the recording, the school district claimed that the media was wrong about these statements: Carroll ISD claimed that “our district has not and will not mandate books be removed, nor will we mandate that classroom libraries be unavailable.” Written materials from the district ordered teachers to have mandatory training about new rules and directions for getting rid of books that don’t meet the “deference” rule. Teachers are to discard books that present singular, dominant narratives “in such a way that it … may be considered offensive.” The purpose is to avoid any lessons that make students (presumably White) feel “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress” because of their race. According to the school district reprimand, one parent can cause the elimination of instruction or teaching materials. One teacher asked:

“How am I supposed to know what 44 sets of parents find offensive? We’ve been told: ‘The parents are our clients. We have to do what they want.’ And this is what they want.”

For their libraries, teachers have used yellow caution tapes or black sheet of paper with a sign reading, “You can’t read any of the books on my shelves.” 

Among the books that teachers are afraid to keep in the classroom:

  • Separate Is Never Equal: a picture book by Duncan Tonatiuh about a Mexican American family’s fight to end segregation in California in the 1940s.
  • A Good Kind of Trouble: Lisa Moore Ramée book about a girl involved in the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • The Hate U Give: ” Angie Thomas’ book depicted radicalized reactions to a policy shooting.
  • All books by Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison.

Censorship attempts by White parents in other places also want to eliminate any non-White books:

  • Franklin (TN): Martin Luther King Jr. and the March on Washington (Frances E. Ruffin), The Story of Ruby Bridges (Robert Cole) about the 6-year-old Black girl who integrated a Louisiana public school in 1960, and several others.
  • York County (PA): After the school district voted to censor books recommended by the district’s diversity committee, national protest including that from Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter Berniece King caused the district to reverse their censorship.
  • Katy Independent School District (TX): award-winning graphic novels about the lives of young Black men by Jerry Craft.

Earlier this year the Carroll ISD had told teachers they could not use Scholastic News, a current events magazine for youth from one of the largest and most reputable publishers in the United States, after parents said its articles had a liberal bias. A teacher in the district described the driving forces behind determining “both sides” are fear, ignorance, and racism. The person said teachers are not “asked to have opposing views on colonization. We’re not being asked to have opposing views on Christopher Columbus Day or Thanksgiving.” Educators’ lives are at risk, according to the teacher, who reported threats against teachers who speak out “to destroy their lives, to come for their license, to go after their families.”

Southlake’s problems are not going away. During tonight’s school board meeting with over 50 speakers, a former student described the anti-Semitic bullying he experienced in the Carroll ISD that made him consider suicide. Teachers said they felt unsupported and under attack. A Jewish parent, descendent of Holocaust survivors, said his family is thinking about moving from Southlake. Some parents condemned the advice for “opposing” perspectives on the Holocaust but defended the district administrator who gave these orders.

Another Texas law goes into effect in December about social studies curriculum restrictions to the state’s “understanding of the fundamental moral, political, and intellectual foundations of the American experiment in self-government; the history, qualities, traditions, and features of civic engagement in the United States; the structure, function, and processes of government institutions at the federal, state, and local levels.” This curriculum can come only from the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, the Federalist Papers, Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, the first Lincoln-Douglas debate, writings of the founding fathers of the United States, the history and importance of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the 13th, 14th, and 19th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Missing are the 15th Amendment, guaranteeing voting by Blacks, and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Requirements cut from the state standards include “the history of Native Americans,” “[founding] mothers and other founding persons,” and topics such as slaves by George Washington (Ona Judge) and Sally Hemmings (Thomas Jefferson). Frederick Douglass’s writings, the Fugitive Slave Acts of 1793 and 1850, the Indian Removal Act of 1830 forcing indigenous Americans off their southeastern lands, and Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists defending the separation of church and state have disappeared as have “historical documents related to the civic accomplishments of marginalized populations” about the Chicano movement, women’s suffrage and equal rights, the civil rights movement, indigenous rights, and the U.S. labor movement. White supremacy, eugenics, the Ku Klux Klan, and the importance of the civil rights movement are gone.

If teachers voluntarily address controversial issues and current events, they must address all perspectives and not “choose sides.” Teaching about “courage” can use “George Washington crossing the Delaware, or William Barret Travis defending the Alamo,” according to a member of the state board of education. The bill specifically removes a requirement to teach about slavery and how it is morally wrong, women’s suffrage, equal rights, the Emancipation Proclamation, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.  

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick stated:

“Parents want their students to learn how to think critically, not be indoctrinated by the ridiculous leftist narrative that America and our Constitution are rooted in racism.”

Schools in other states are also permissive about racism. In Rome (GA), Black students were singled out for punishment when a diverse group of students—Black, Latinx, and White—at Coosa High School protested the school’s failure to discipline White students using racial slurs against Black students and waving a Confederate flag at them. All students were warned against the protest where they only had flyers, but only Black students were suspended. A White student pointed out she escaped any punishment “because I’m white.” Public school students have a constitutional right to protest.

A Dallas Morning News editorial “blame[s] legislative meddling” for the Southlake chaos—and probably the racist laws in other Republican states which are described as protecting students from the non-existent CRT education.

“If any American community embodies the national frenzy about how we teach race in schools, it’s Southlake. The acrimony over Carroll ISD’s diversity plan to tackle racism reshaped the school board, drew unflattering headlines, and inspired a podcast by NBC News…

“What happened in Southlake this month is the unfortunate outcome of a new and misguided state law against critical race theory that passed earlier this year. While the law doesn’t define the term or even mention it, it was crafted by legislators in the context of a national panic about how our country confronts racism…

“There should be no moral confusion in our schools about the evils of the Holocaust, of slavery, of white supremacy… There have been more than enough incidents to make it clear why many students and families feel less than welcome in Southlake, so it should be equally clear why the community needs honest and civil discussions about a diversity and inclusion plan.

“The Texas Legislature has made it harder for Southlake to find a path toward reconciliation. Our lawmakers should be joining us in these difficult conversations instead of dividing us.”

Amen. The Southlake debacle is about far more than the Holocaust, but it’s a beginning to address the rampant pro-racism laws being passed in red states.

July 6, 2016

‘Political Correctness’ – Just Being Nice

“Political correctness” is a term initiated in the 1793 Supreme Court case Chisholm v. Virginia upholding the rights of people to sue states. Justice James Wilson wrote in his opinion that people, rather than states, hold the most authority which makes a toast given to the United States” is not “politically correct.” He preferred the greater accuracy of “People of the United States.”

For almost 200 years, the term was largely obscure until conservatives co-opted the term in the 1980s for their personal political gain by using the phrase for a leftist conspiracy that infiltrated the higher education system. For decades, people argued about being “politically correct” in teaching and language in university classes.

In the 2016 presidential campaign, political correctness was highlighted in the first GOP debate after Fox network Megyn Kelly asked Donald Trump about his verbal sexist attacks against women. He was ready with an answer:

“I think the big problem this country has is being politically correct. I’ve been challenged by so many people, and I don’t frankly have time for total political correctness. And to be honest with you, this country doesn’t have time either.”

The audience applauded, and other GOP presidential candidates adopted the tactic. Erica Hellerstein and Judd Legum wrote:

“The term “political correctness,” particularly in the Republican presidential primary, does not have a specific definition. Rather it functions like a Swiss army knife—it is the answer to every kind of issue that a candidate might confront. It’s a “get out of jail free card” for bigotry, sexism and lying.”

Dr. Warren Blumenfeld wrote:

“The political Right coined the terms ‘political correctness,’ ‘politically correct,’ and ‘PC’ as pejorative rhetorical ploys to intimidate, discredit, and outright dismiss the statements, policies, and actions of the progressive Left generally, and more specifically, to inhibit anyone from thinking critically and challenging societal inequalities.”

Trump and his surrogates use the term the most. The candidate complains that he can’t even use the word “thug” without criticism. Corey Lewandowski has been fired from Trump’s campaign but still defends the candidate, describing the accusation of anti-Semitic content of Donald Trump’s tweet using the Star of David, Hillary Clinton, images of $100 bills, and the word corruption “political correctness run amok.”

In the past, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), former GOP presidential candidate, blamed political correctness on 9/11 and used it for collecting email addresses. Ben Carson tweeted that we should “#StoPP funding political correctness and Planned Parenthood.” Asked what they have in common, he said that “political correctness” is making people amoral. Carson also said tried to connect political correctness and his opposition to Obamacare and accepting Syrian refugees. Criticized for saying that a Muslim should not be president, a statement that violates the U.S. Constitution, Carson said, “Political correctness is ruining our country.”

The opposition to political correctness (aka civility) is supported by 68 percent of people in the U.S.—81 percent of Republicans. Even 62 percent agree that “a big problem this country is being politically correct.” GOP candidates know these high figures and play on them in order to avoid any difficult topics. It’s all in the repetition.

In today’s News-Times (Newport, OR), Gilbert Schramm provides his take on “political  correctness”:

Like most Americans, I was horrified by the shooting in Orlando—and by Trump’s response. He immediately tweeted, “We can’t afford to be politically correct anymore.” Wait, “political correctness” wasn’t the cause of the shooting; political incorrectness was the cause.

Obviously, if you subject any group to unrelenting bigotry and hate-speech, some unstable person will eventually act on the lies and hatred they have been fed. It doesn’t really matter whether the hatred in Orlando came from a radical Christian, Jew, or Muslim, extremist fundamentalists from all three religions can have equally ugly attitudes about the LGBT community.

To truly understand Orlando, you need to understand the systematic conservative attack on the term political correctness. Nothing defines what the modern Republican Party has become more clearly than its misuse and abuse of this term: Trump and his supporters take an obscene pride in mocking it.

This is truly puzzling. In general usage, “ correct” means right, and “incorrect” means wrong. Why do they reverse our traditional values and language and pretend that the term is an insult?

Through American history, as progressives fought for women, religious, ethnic and racial minorities, they developed new language that reflected their concern for equal rights. The whole idea of political correctness was to improve communication, to reduce conflict, and to be more civil. Not a bad idea.

In creating a better language to express American values, there was sometimes a silly notion that re-labeling problems simply made them go away. Some bigots may have used the new terms insincerely. Some good people may have been unfairly criticized for not keeping up with the changing language. But true progressives not only amended their language, they did other concrete things to rectify the scars caused by institutional racism.

Affirmative action was necessary to help correct the deep institutional disadvantages left by centuries of racism. The GOP has been attacking affirmative action for years by arguing that it constituted “reverse racism.” This is an absurd argument. Its very existence proves that those who use it don’t truly understand the lasting damage left by the real racism.

Then there is the term “colorblind.” Just recently, a Trump spokesman complimented Trump for being “colorblind.” Colorblindness is not vision enhancement; it is a vision deficit that removes a whole dimension of nuance.

So when you hear terms like political correctness, reverse racism, or color-blindness, you are hearing someone who doesn’t understand racism, bigotry, or gender bias at all, and who likely doesn’t care. Yet in spite of conservative efforts to turn the truth upside down, being politically correct (right) is better than being politically incorrect (i.e., just wrong and offensive).

The Trump attitude that “correctness is a bad thing has now spread from opinion to facts. His casual attitude towards facts is noteworthy—in most of what he says he just doesn’t have much use for the truth. For him, it’s right to be wrong.

Trump’s abuse of the term political correctness may have more to do with the “political” part than with correctness. After all, he has won so far by disclaiming any past experience as a politician. Republicans believe that the existence of governments is only excused by the fact that total anarchy is just a tad bit worse. Progressives, on the other hand, feel that government can play a positive role. History has repeatedly proven the progressives to be right.

If GOP conservatives don’t believe that government can make life better, they should leave governing to those who know it can do some good.

Meanwhile, they should stop turning the truth (and our very language) upside down. Corruption of language leads to corruption of thought. That corruption makes it possible to believe that suppressing the vote protects democracy, that there is something called “legitimate rape,” that more guns will make us safer, that gun-free zones attract violence, and other GOP nonsense.

Whatever mild annoyance has been caused by politically correct language, the carnage in Orlando is a stark example of the alternative.

Republicans brag that Donald Trump is honest because he says what he thinks. They seem to admire him for calling undocumented Mexicans “rapists” and stating that sex appeal is responsible for a woman’s success. Zeba Blay wrote:

“To yearn for the opposite of the ‘politically correct’ is simply to yearn for the ability to be comfortable, to maintain the right to trivialize issues that affect people’s lives…. Using “politically correct” as an insult or dismissal is emblematic of an inability to approach difficult conversations with the complexity they demand. Being uncomfortable or annoyed is not a good enough reason to dismiss every conversation that hinges on social justice, as if actual social justice were the worst thing in the world.”

Political correctness is accepting Spanish-language messages on service lines, not telling racist jokes at work, and being less demeaning to women. It’s a way of showing sensitivity toward others, especially those who have been invisible or expected to be submissive. Conservatives don’t like it because it’s hard work. They just want to say what they think—and what they think can be very unpleasant.

Noted author and illustrator Neil Gaiman said, “I started imagining a world in which we replaced the phrase ‘politically correct’ wherever we could with ‘treating other people with respect’, and it made me smile.” It makes me smile too.

December 4, 2014

Conservatives Blame Police Killings on Big Government

Some conservatives have joined progressives in decrying the lack of an indictment for a police officer who killed a 43-year-old Staten Island man with a chokehold. Last July, Daniel Pantaleo joined other police officers in taking down Eric Garner while he was standing on the street. Within minutes Garner was dead, as a video of the tragedy shows. After the grand jury released its decision not to indict Pantaleo, people across the country filled streets in protest.

Conservatives objection, however, comes from their belief that big government is responsible for Garner’s death. Without high cigarette taxes in New York, Garner would not have died, according to Lawrence McQuillan in the Washington Times:

“[E]very vote for higher taxes gives police increased authority to exert more force on citizens in more situations. Higher excise taxes inevitably lead to more violent clashes between police and smugglers…. Eliminating punitive cigarette taxes would shrink the underground market and help redirect police resources to combating real crimes of force and violence, rather than empowering police to employ violence in the name of tax collection.”

Those who question such taxes fail to understand the benefits of a law that gives people a better quality of life through reducing smoking. Libertarians argue that these taxes are an undemocratic intrusion into private lives. Yet McQuillan’s logic requires the elimination of all taxes because they use police resources “to employ violence in the name of tax collection.” He fails to understand that no taxes means no government services—including police.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), potential presidential candidate, followed the same distorted line of reasoning last night when he appeared on Chris Matthews MSNBC program, Hard Ball. After expressing initial dismay about the video of Garner crying out “I can’t breathe” multiple times, Rand concluded:

“I think it’s also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes. So they’ve driven cigarettes underground by making them so expensive. But then some politician also had to direct the police to say, ‘Hey, we want you arresting people for selling a loose cigarette.’ And for someone to die over breaking that law, there really is no excuse for it. But I do blame the politicians.”

Rand ignored the fact that Garner died because a police officer violated NYPD rules by putting Garner in a chokehold and holding his head against the ground.

It’s not the first time that Rand has exonerated police action by blaming “politicians” and “the war on drugs.” In a Time op-ed piece published after the grand jury failed to indict Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson (MO), Rand wrote:

“Escaping the poverty trap will require all of us to relearn that not only are we our brother’s keeper, we are our own keeper. While a hand-up can be part of the plan, if the plan doesn’t include the self-discovery of education, work, and the self-esteem that comes with work, the cycle of poverty will continue.”

According to Rand, Brown was responsible for his own death because he failed to participate in “self-discovery.” Nowhere did Rand mention that Brown was only one month away from attending a vocational education school after having graduated from high school—those pieces of “education” and “work.”

Rand also got his information wrong. According to his op-ed, “In Ferguson, the precipitating crime was not drugs, but theft.” Much of the information released before the grand jury proved that Wilson didn’t know that Brown had participated in an alleged crime. Brown’s crime was jaywalking.

According to conservatives, the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner had nothing to do with racism: it was only because of the liberals’ insistence on the “nanny state.” Without taxes and handouts, the poor would disappear, and the police would have no need to kill those who they are employed to protect.

Yet conservatives ignore the problem of police across the United States who evidence racial prejudice in their community. Five officers in Montgomery County (OH) are being investigated but are still being paid, three of them remaining on the job, for such text messages as “I hate n*ggers. That is all” and “What do apples and black people have in common? They both hang from trees.”

Brown and Garner aren’t the only black men recently killed by white officers. John Crawford is dead after he shopped in Walmart and picked up a toy gun; Darrien Hunt was killed with multiple shots in his back for carrying a toy sword; and 12-year-old Tamir Rice was killed in Cleveland because he openly carried a toy gun—legal in Ohio.

According to footage, Rice was shot within two seconds of the police officer’s pulling up in his car. The killer, Timothy Loehmann, had been judged unfit for police work two years ago by his then-employer, Independence (OH), that cited his “dismal” handgun performance. An investigation into Cleveland’s police division for the past 18 months revealed that officers “carelessly fire their weapons, placing themselves, subjects, and bystanders at unwarranted risk of serious injury or death.” Two examples were police shooting an unarmed hit-and-run suspect in the neck and firing 24 rounds in a residential neighborhood, hitting 14 parked cars and another six hits of houses. A police chase two years ago used at least 62 vehicles and 137 bullets to kill two unarmed black suspects, each sustaining over 20 gunshot wounds.

Last spring, a police officer, 47-year-old Frank Phillips, was photographed choking a drunken student at an end-of-the-year party at the University of Tennessee. Two other police officers handcuffed the man. Within hours of the photo being published in the UK Daily Mail, Phillips was fired, and the officers handcuffing him were placed on leave. The choked man is white and still alive.

Ethan Couch is still alive after he killed four people and injured two others in a drunken joy ride. He is now safe in an upscale rehab facility and facing another nine years of rehabilitation and probation. Kevin Miner, who kicked an officer and broke his hand when found hiding in a stranger’s basement, was arrested with no one shot or otherwise hurt. Cliven Bundy is considered a hero after he organized an army in Nevada that threatened government officials with high-powered weapons. All these men are white. White people are inconvenienced; black people are killed. Much more information is available at hashtag #CrimingWhileWhite where white people are recording their easy escapes from police action after committing crimes.

Satirist Andy Borowitz has a solution for the grand jury lack of indictment: supply them with eyes. Dorrinson is a mythical senator used in several of Borowitz’s columns. In this one he said:

“Body cameras are an important part of the solution. But I strongly believe that if you take video evidence and add eyes, the combination would be unstoppable.” [In response to the request for working brains:] “Yes, in a perfect world, all grand juries would have brains. But progress is an incremental thing. Let’s start with eyes and eventually work our way up to brains.”

Even former RNC chair Michael Steele understands the problem in the United States when white police officers can kill black people with impunity although evidence shows that the police are in the wrong. He said that “a black man’s life is not worth a ham sandwich” to grand juries and the prosecutors who are hired to fight for an indictment.

Those who are convinced that there was no racial motivation in no indictment in the Garner case should imagine the response from Fox and other far-right sources if the police officer had been black and the victim a wealthy white man.

July 28, 2014

Time for GOP Shill Gregory to Leave ‘Meet the Press’

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:38 PM
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Back in the day of Tim Russert, Meet the Press had good journalists who verified its news. After Russert’s death six years ago, host David Gregory, who took over from interim moderator Tom Brokaw, has demonstrated a serious bias on the conservative side. Last Sunday was no different: he played an unconfirmed Israeli video allegedly showing Hamas shooting rockets from a UN school. This video was accompanied by a sympathetic interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who explained, among other positions, that the only way to “peace” is to militarily destroy Hamas.

In response to Gregory’s question about whether Hamas is using civilians and the UN in a propaganda war, UN Relief & Works Agency spokesperson Chris Gunness pointed out the ridiculousness because of his inability to even see the video:

“To bring me on a live program and expect me to comment live on air on pictures I haven’t actually seen, I think anyone looking at this program would agree that’s really unfair. I mean, if I can see it, I’ll happily comment on it.”

Although Gregory did say at the end of the program that the UN confirmed the video does not show what Gregory early purported, he still gave credence to the Israeli report, “So this is a back and forth that we are not able to settle at this point.”

Gregory’s conservative bias is nothing new. Over a year ago, I wrote a piece beginning with his pandering to conservatives from his start on the show when he promised Mark Sanford the ability to “frame the conversation” when he talked about abandoning South Carolina for an assignation with his mistress and lying about his whereabouts.  Esteemed journalist Frank Rich pointed out that Gregory may be “playing the part [of Joe McCarthy] to make some noise” when Gregory attacked Glenn Greenwald for supporting Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks.

On the Jay Leno show, Gregory said:

“I think it’s deeply disturbing when someone takes it upon him or herself to decide they’re uncomfortable with some program and they decide they want to undo a government program. I don’t think that’s what the founders of the country envisioned and it’s not a real way to do that.”

That position is in direct opposition to journalism’s requirement of  in-depth reporting.

On a program last October, Gregory called for more “leadership” from President Obama. Typical of conservatives, Gregory wanted to know when Obama was going to “demonstrate he can bring along converts to his side and actually get something meaningful accomplished.” Unfortunately for the host, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne was present to gently explain the confusion between presidential “leadership” and giving in to GOP demands:

“A lot of times, though, when people say the president should lead, what they want him to do is adopt Republican positions and then push for those. That’s not leadership, that’s capitulation. I think we should stop talking about a Grand Bargain and try to have normal government in the next two months.”

The Republicans have refused to have a “normal government.”

Gregory specializes in asking leading questions that permit his conservative guests to present their far-right positions. An example occurred during his interview with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s role in the 2012 Benghazi deaths. Gregory allowed Paul to again smear Clinton with the false opinion that she denied additional security forces at the compound although she knew the need. Not satisfied with Paul’s attack on Clinton, he then encouraged more smears by asking if Benghazi disqualified Clinton for presidential candidacy.

Earlier this month on Meet the Press, Gregory supported House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) lawsuit against the president because Democrats would have been just as upset if a Republican president had delayed some of the Affordable Care Act’s implementation. Fortunately, former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm was present to bring the program back to reality. She reminded Gregory that George W. Bush had delayed parts of the Medicare Part D implementation with no negative reaction from Democrats. That was before she called Boehner’s lawsuit “the legal equivalent of birtherism.”

Granholm also filled in Gregory’s omission that the Republicans had voted overwhelmingly—time and again—to delay the exact provision that they are now using to sue the president. But that wasn’t all. In talking to former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who was discussing the problems within the Republican party needing a positive message for blue-collar workers, Gregory said, “the Obama economy,” blaming one person for the disaster that the GOP has supported. This was the same show when he asked if the border immigration crisis is “Obama’s Katrina moment.”

That Gregory is in trouble with the network has been obvious for some time. In March, the head of NBC News, Deborah Turness, met with him and executive producer, Rob Yarin, to discuss “format changes” for the show. Fourth-quarter 2013 ratings showed the lowest total viewers in the show’s history which started in 1991. A “format change,” however, won’t change the fact that the program caters to Republicans, with its base of old, white men. A diverse guest list that didn’t include John McCain and his cohorts almost every Sunday could make the difference. Hispanics and blacks are almost invisible on the show except for a few appearances on the panels; the women, segregated to the roundtable, are mostly members of the media.

Beyond adding accuracy and lack of bias to Meet the Press, these ideas could improve the show:

One way that Tim Russert used to grill politicians was to put some of their past quotes that contradicted their statements on the show and ask them to explain their positions. No host now uses this approach; it’s a “format change”! And it works well on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. 

Russert also appeared skeptical of all answers. Gregory needs to expose inconsistencies while being respectfully aggressive.

Gregory could also invite guests that aren’t visible elsewhere. Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell, who appear on MSNBC almost every day, frequently appear on Meet the Press.

The drums beating the rumor that Gregory will be gone after the fall elections are getting louder. Viewership is down 43 percent since he took over six years ago, and only the Winter Olympics saved the show from third place this year. Sadly, suggestions for a replacement are Chuck Todd, Joe Scarborough, and Mika Brezezinski—more conservatives. At least Brezezinski would mean that a woman would finally host one of the Sunday political talk shows, but she needs to lose the submissive behavior that she demonstrates on the Scarborough show.

On June 15, when Iraq was the focus of all Sunday talk shows on CNN, Fox, CBS, NBC, and ABC this Sunday, no women or people of color were featured on the solo interviews. Two-thirds of the participants on the roundtable discussions were men. Of the 38 guests on the shows were five people of color, and no one show had more than two women or two non-white guests.

That same week, Melissa Harris Perry’s show had ten guests: four women and five people of color. It was the only show to feature an Iraq war veteran. Now there’s an idea: replace Gregory with a black woman.

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