Nel's New Day

January 21, 2018

Evangelical Racism in America

[Note on government shutdown: a GOP talking point against the shutdown is that Democrats are holding the military hostage by refusing to pay them from the shutdown. VP Mike Pence lied to an audience of U.S. soldiers that the Democrats were at fault: Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) immediately attempted to introduce a bill to pay all military-connected employees after the shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) shut her down.]

American evangelicals has a long history of racism:

  • New England Puritans waged war against indigenous people in the 1600s resulting in best-selling fiction about innocent white women forced to live in the forests with men who scalped their children.
  • Ulster Scots in the middle and southern British American colonies in the 1700s viewed the Creeks, Cherokees, and Shawnees the same as the savage Irish infidels they escaped.
  • American Founders considered themselves superior to non-white people in the American “nation,” the term from Latio natio, birth. Thomas Jefferson called black people a hostile nation.
  • Future president Andrew Jackson told volunteers in the War of 1812 that they were free to wipe out indigenous communities and runaway slaves south of the Tennessee River like Israelites waged holy war for “their” land west of the Jordan.
  • Whites believed they were endangered and had the right to vengeance in the 19th and 20th centuries: the KKK lynched black men who they accused of raping women in the 1890s, and the KKK of the 1920s attacked Jews and Catholics because of “racial purity.”
  • White nationalism was manifested in the mid-20th century with communism as the enemy.
  • Southern and western evangelical mega-churches became a political force during the 1970s and 1980s.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has ridden the wave of white supremacy since he was sued in 1973 for trying to keep black people out of his rentals. In 1989, he called for killing five men of color who were accused of raping a white woman in Central Park and continue to declare their guilt ten years after DNA proved them innocent in 2006. His white supremacist following increased in 2011 when he started the “birther” movement, claiming that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen. DDT has never personally retracted his accusation. Andrew Jackson was his model when he came to the White House, and his racist rants have increased. The religious right has now adopted DDT and his racist beliefs.

Evangelicals have defended both DDT’s sexual assaults on women and his “s**thold” statement. Robert Jeffress, one of DDT’s Evangelical Advisory Council, said:

“What a lot of people miss is, America is not a church where everyone should be welcomed regardless of race and background. I’m glad Trump understands the difference between a church and country. I support his views 100 percent.”

Samuel Rodriguez described DDT’s remarks “a distraction,” and Mark Burns justified DDT’s comments with 1 Timothy 5:8:

“A man that does not take care of his own home, his own home, their own people, is worse than an infidel. We have somehow forgotten that in America.”

In his inability to understand that the bible doesn’t make law for the U.S., Jeffress also said that DDT has the religious authority to kill the leader of North Korea:

“The Bible gives President Trump the moral authority to use whatever force necessary including assassination, or even war to take out an evildoer like Kim Jong-un.”

Steve Strang, founder of the Christian magazine Charisma, compared DDT to the Messiah while touting his new book, God and Donald Trump.

“Here he was, the promised Messiah, and these are the people who practice Jewish law better than anyone else and they just had a mindset against him and couldn’t see the truth. A lot of people get a mindset, they think a certain way politically … and they just think that way and they don’t think for themselves.”

According to Strang, people who don’t support DDT are like the “Pharisees in Jesus’s day” who conspired to sabotage Jesus. Dissenters will not be tolerated. Strang compared opposition to DDT with other “Christians throughout history who have twisted facts.”

Strang did get one strong dissent to him in an article reporting these beliefs. Ernst Loehl Sr. (Expeditor at Freelance Entrepreneur) shouted this in an email:

“SO JESUS WAS AN ADULTERER, LIAR, PERVERT AND SEXUAL PREDATOR by his own words ????? A THIEF, CHEAT, DISCRIMINATOR, AND A RACIST????? HAD FIVE CHILDREN BY THREE DIFFERENT WOMEN AND DIVORCED TWICE??? THAT’S THE COMPARISON YOUR ANALOGY PURPORTS TO SUPPORT !!!  … YOUR CONTENSION IS NOT ONLY DISGUSTING AND UNTRUE,, ITS EVIL !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Televangelist Jim Bakker, convicted criminal for accounting fraud and accused of rape, exonerated DDT’s alleged sexual relationship with porn queen Stormy Daniels by saying that DDT was sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with her and the $130,000 that DDT secretly gave Daniels was “to help rescue her from the destructive adult film industry. What a man of God!”

The religious right may start trying to ban people of color in the judicial system just as they want to prevent LGBTQ judges. Mat Staver, head of the far-right legal group Liberty Counsel, has said gay judges cannot make fair rulings in LGBTQ rights and his “religious freedom.” He protested the nomination of Andrew McDonald as chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court who could be the first openly gay chief justice of any state court. McDonald has been on the court since 2013. Staver accused McDonald of being a sexual deviant by comparing him to Alex Kozinski, the 9th Circuit Court judge accused of sexual misconduct by six women. According to Staver, gay judges “identifies as someone based upon his sexual practices” but heterosexual judges don’t. It would be appropriate, however, to nominate a judge whose identity is wrapped up in religious beliefs such as Thomas Nielsen who defended Prop 8 in California that banned marriage equality.

One pastor lambasted DDT for his racist comments about Haiti and African countries when Vice President Mike Pence listened to him from the front row. Pence and his wife, Karen, attended the Metropolitan Baptist Church, an historic black church in Largo (MD) when Maurice Watson told the congregation that God led him to speak against DDT’s “dehumanizing” and “ugly” comments. Watson said that many of his congregants had come from those countries and added:

“Whoever made such a statement, whoever used such a visceral, disrespectful, dehumanizing adjective to characterize the nations of Africa, whoever said it, is wrong. And they ought to be held accountable.”

The congregation clapped, and Pence’s face turned red. The next day Pence failed to appear at a public Martin Luther King Jr. Day ceremony although his name was listed on the program. He had taken photos of himself laying a wreath at the King memorial in private the day before and tweeted something about “all men … created equal.” Comedian Samantha Bee of Full Frontal took him to task, referring to Pence flying across the country to walk out of a NFL game after players knelt in protest during the National Anthem:

“Three months ago, you walked out of an event in disgust because of a non-violent protest by black athletes.”

The pastor of Worldwide Christian Center in Pompano Beach (FL) left the GOP because of its failure to denounce white supremacists and child molester Roy Moore. Former DDT supporter Reverend O’Neal Dozier said he can no longer tell black voters to support Republicans. He had hoped, like the “white people from the ’60s and ’70s,” DDT would “reverse his views concerning black people” but “saw after he was elected that he has not changed,” Dozier said. “He is always attacking people of color.” Calling DDT “the great divider in chief,” Dozier said, “He hates everybody except the white supremacists.” (Dozier still hates “homosexuality.”) Dozier’s letter to the South Florida Times.  

Evangelicals are becoming polarized like the rest of the country. Roger E. Olson, theology professor at Baylor University in Texas, asked his colleagues to stop enabling DDT’s language and actions.

“My fellow evangelicals who continue to support and even defend Trump in spite of everything he has said about the weak and vulnerable people of the world: It is time to admit you have been wrong and stop defending the indefensible.”

Olson pointed out that the poverty in the countries that DDT denigrated often comes from “European and American colonialism and exploitation.”

To further polarize the nation, DDT created an agency promoting health workers to deny services to people for any reason that they consider “moral” or “religious.” It’s an authoritarian method permitting the dehumanization of all groups of people except white Christian men—the same process used in other countries to eliminate all “undesirables.” DDT started the process immediately after his inauguration by almost entirely selecting far-right Christian white men for the judiciary and the executive departments and continued it with a “fake” report that demonizes immigrants. The new agency advancing discrimination furthers his purpose to “Make America White Again.”

We cannot forget the poem by German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller protesting the Nazi movement and the inattention by other Germans that begins “They came for the …” and ends “Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” We are in a time when the government has started coming for one segment before moving on to another. If we are not careful, there will be no one left “to speak for me”–or you.

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January 12, 2018

DDT: Week Fifty-one – ‘Unhelpful’

Almost 29 months ago, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) gave this speech to kick off his campaign for the U.S. presidency. About people coming across the border from Mexico, he said, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. When he became the last standing GOP candidate and then won the Electoral College, well-meaning people said to give him a chance, that he’s not an ideologue. In a few more days DDT will have been in control for a year, and he is an ideologue, never deviating from that first speech on June 16, 2015. Yesterday he continued to define his immigration policy in a meeting within the Oval Office:

“Why do we want all these people from ‘shithole countries’ coming here?”

“Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.”

At that same meeting, he said, “We should have more people from Norway,” DDT said. Top in the world for happiness and personal freedom as well as one of the richest per capita, Norway has conception-to-death health care and other public assistance, unlike the United States which ranks 23rd in income inequality and 21st in personal freedom.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) did report, “I said my piece directly to [Trump] yesterday,” and Graham told Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) that the revelations made by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) are essentially “accurate.” Other isolated voices disturbed by DDT’s remarks are Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and John McCain (R-AZ). Yet most of the GOP responses to DDT’s comments are appalling: two Republicans attending the meeting suffered amnesia, two stayed mute, and one merely said he attended the meeting. White House spokesman Raj Shah defended DDT by saying, “Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people.” Some White House staffers believe that DDT’s racist remarks will resonate with his base. Ann Coulter supported this belief when she said that DDT’s comments showed that “he’s trying to win me back.”

Today, DDT participated in a White House event with King’s nephew, Isaac Newton Farris, Jr. to honor Farris’ uncle, Martin Luther King, Jr. DDT refused to answer questions from the press, but Farris said that he talked with DDT about his comments before the ceremony. He denies that DDT is a racist and called him “racially ignorant.” Definition of racist: “a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.”

The GOP leadership was pitiful. RNC chair Ronna Romney McDaniel and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had no comments. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) called DDT’s remarks “unfortunate” and “unhelpful.” “Unhelpful” may become the popular response; it is the same word that Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) used in an interview about DDT’s statements.

Two days before DDT’s temper tantrum about immigration, he concluded in a filmed 55-minute meeting with about two dozen legislative leaders from both parties that he would accept anything that Congress wanted. During the meeting, DDT kept changing his position and agreed with the last person who had spoken. He first agreed with Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) about DACA being a clean bill with no other issues. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) reminded him about border security (aka wall), the end to “chain migration” or family-based migration, and the elimination of the diversity visa lottery so he added those to the “clean” DACA bill. His proposal became a comprehensive immigration deal which he earlier said could be postponed.

People surmise that he allowed filming of the meeting to disprove the allegations in Michael Wolff’s book, Fire and Fury. Yet his incoherence was obvious, and the book’s publisher has shipped over 700,000 copies with another 1.4 million copies on order.

DDT’s immigration policy is illustrated by his deporting 200,000 El Salvadoran immigrants, some of them here since 2001, through ending their Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This action may break up families as parents may leave their 190,000 U.S.-born children instead of taking them back to the extremely dangerous El Salvador. A third of the people who DDT plans to deport are homeowners; mayors of Houston, Los Angeles and other cities with large number of Salvadorans are urging DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to consider the contributions of TPS recipients. The loss of TPS recipients will also cost U.S. employers almost $1 billion in hiring and retraining new employees. Over the past decade, TPS recipients have contributed $6.9 billion to Social Security and Medicare.

Another way to get rid of legal immigrants, Operation Janus revokes citizenship for naturalized citizens who lack proper fingerprint records. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) failed to appropriately use fingerprint records for 315,000 people, and they may be subject to having their citizenship revoked.

DDT’s “unhelpful” statements will be useful to overturn bans on refugees as it was in California when U.S. District Judge William Alsup blocked DDT’s removal of protections for undocumented “dreamers” brought to the U.S. as children. When Alsup also left safeguards against deportation in place for almost 700,000 participants in the DACA program, he cited DDT’s support for the program as part of his justification. In September, DDT tweeted:

“Does anybody really want to throw out good, educated and accomplished young people who have jobs, some serving in the military? Really!”

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the decision “outrageous” because DDT, who rules by executive order, “is committed to the rule of law.”

During his speech to the American Farm Bureau Federation, DDT lied about how small farmers will be getting a great deal of money from the $5.5 trillion tax package, another lie, and told them:

“Oh, are you happy you voted for me! You are so lucky that I gave you that privilege.”

He also asked for a standing ovation. Economists at the Department of Agriculture project lower farm output and increased taxes on the lowest-earning farms. Withdrawing from trade pacts will also hurt farmers if DDT follows through with his threats.

Unhelpful to DDT and the GOP was Sen. Diane Feinstein’s release of the Glenn Simpson’s ten-hour testimony about Fusion GPS, investigator Christopher Steele, and the investigation of DDT before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Earlier, its chair, Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) made Steele the first person accused of wrongdoing in the Russian connection when they lied about Fusion’s being involved only with Democrats. The action was taken without any Democrat’s involvement. For almost a year, the conservative Washington Free Beacon, financially supported by GOP Paul Singer, paid for the investigation before DDT took the lead for the GOP candidate in April 2016 and Democrats paid for the investigation. Grassley had reneged on a promise to release the testimony if Fusion was amenable.  Feinstein explained the testimony’s release:

“The innuendo and misinformation circulating about the transcript are part of a deeply troubling effort to undermine the investigation into potential collusion and obstruction of justice. The only way to set the record straight is to make the transcript public.”

Clarification of key GOP errors regarding the testimony:

  • Despite Sanders description of Fusion GPS as linked to Democrats, the company has many GOP clients.
  • Steele has “a Sterling reputation” for not exaggerating or fabricating who felt professional obligated to approach the FBI about his information because a security threat if a presidential candidate is being blackmailed by information from Russian cameras in luxury hotel rooms.
  • The FBI already had other intelligence, some of from inside DDT’s campaign, that supported Steele’s information.
  • Steele severed his connection with the FBI after the New York Times reported that the FBI had found no DDT connections to Russia a few days before the election for fear that the DDT’s people were manipulating the FBI for political ends.
  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) became involved through his advisor David Kramer because Simpson and Steele “were mutually concerned about whether the United States had just elected someone who was compromised by a hostile foreign power.”
  • DDT’s publicity described Carter Page as “a zero, a lightweight” (Simpson’s words), but he was discovered “to be an espionage suspect who was, in fact, someone that the FBI had been investigating for years.”
  • Simpson said, “Most importantly the allegation that we were working for the Russian government then or ever is simply not true. I don’t know what to say. It’s political rhetoric to call the dossier phony. The memos are field reports of real interviews that Chris’s network conducted and there’s nothing phony about it. We can argue about what’s prudent and what’s not, but it’s not a fabrication.”
  • The investigation concentrated on character and competence with no concern regarding political views. It was a search for the truth.

In short, the infamous Steele dossier was originally contracted by anti-DDT Republicans and shared with the FBI before the election, an agency that ignored any publicity about it while they widely publicized and debunked Anthony Weiner email connection with candidate Hillary Clinton only three weeks before election day. To cover for DDT, Republicans are still lying about the factual information in the dossier and former FBI director James Comey relationship with investigator Robert Mueller. Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz is peddling the lie that hiring a foreign national to do work for a campaign is illegal. News about the testimony’s release faded after DDT’s “shithole” description of many of the world’s countries, but the GOP will have more difficulty lying about its authenticity.

Much more happened in the past week. Tune in tomorrow.

October 4, 2017

A Needed Conversation on Race

Filed under: Discrimination — trp2011 @ 11:34 PM
Tags: ,

My small community on the Oregon coast is a mix of active progressives who fight for human rights and conservatives who pray to the Second Amendment. The local newspaper is a popular venue of discussion, some of it strongly opposed to public education, LGBTQ rights, and healthcare for all. (Many from the latter group are firmly attached to their Medicare because retired people compose a large percentage of the population.)

The tragedy of 59 deaths and at least 527 wounded people in Las Vegas earlier this week has consumed much of the media space, but the slow careful reading of condolences by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) doesn’t erase his antagonism toward a majority of people in the United States. His recent behavior in Puerto Rico when he was off teleprompter was indicative of his dismissal of anyone who doesn’t have his white skin. His throwing packages of towels at a group of survivors after the destruction of their second hurricane in a few weeks and his insistence that they grovel for assistance demonstrated his belief that, to him, Puerto Rico, is an inferior colony.

Conservatives keep writing letters with the message of “get over it” in their attempt to normalize DDT’s behavior. There is nothing normal about his behavior or his actions, and we can’t buy in to a need for this normalizing. Below is an op-ed to the local newspaper in response to letters supporting DDT’s racism. The author is right in stressing the importance of dialog about issues surrounding racism in the United States. Keep educating yourself, and keep talking!

A rash of letters here has begun to supply a needed conversation on racism. The public should be grateful to the editor for providing a venue for this. It’s time to step back and consider the whole issue more objectively.

The issues which set off this debate were the actions of neo-Nazis (which they proudly call themselves) at Charlottesville, Trump’s defense of them, and his equation of peace activists and leftists with the various neo-Nazi, KKK, and other white supremacists groups which began the provocation.

Trump’s obvious sympathy for groups of this kind was long preceded by his bigoted attacks on women, Blacks, Hispanics, immigrants, and Muslims. This was followed by the pardon of Joe Arpaio, guilty of abusing his office, racial profiling, contempt of court, and violating the Constitution. Trump’s pardon excuses these things and undermines the rule of law.

As a result, there have been letters attacking Trump’s racism and letters defending him. The letters attacking Trump refer to facts, i.e. 74% of hate crimes in the last 10 years have been committed by right-wing hate groups, 24% by Islamists” and only 2% by “leftists.” Letters defending Trump rely on name-calling, using words such as “haters,” “dims,” and even “Californians.” Anything to avoid the facts of the argument. Always, they promote the idea that Trump’s critics are a radical extreme.

The facts are different. Trump has been denounced not only by Democrats, but by noted Republicans, his own Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, former party chairs, etc. Across the world, people are appalled as well.

One of the letters which sparked special local outrage was one in which the author said that “if you stand with Trump, you stand with the Nazis.” Even some progressives thought this was a bit too much. Really? In criminal law you would talk about “aiding and abetting,” in military law, you would talk about “giving aid and comfort to the enemy.”

People trying to stop hate speech aren’t as “hate-filled” as armed thugs shouting, “Jews will not replace us” and “blood and soil.”  The blood part of that chant refers to the idea that human “goodness” resides in the “purity” of your “blood.”  Do such utterances not deserve loud and very clear denunciation?

My point is that this really is about race, not political correctness.  Our community needs to talk about it. And I hope that readers note the quality of the arguments on both sides.  On one side, there are denunciations of real faults; on the other deflections and denial.

The bottom line is, lots of Germans supported Hitler, not because they were members of the Nazi party, or because they hated Jews or foreigners, but because they liked some of what Hitler said, especially the idea that he was “making Germany great again.” These supporters and others who just kept quiet helped him along, and they rightly share the blame for what happened.

Trump is a package deal—in the end you will be responsible for the whole ugly package.

Diane Eckstein

August 30, 2017

‘Trump’s Terrible 10’

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 3:15 PM
Tags: , ,

Republic Report has started a weekly countdown on the “10 most disgraceful figures” in the administration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). The criteria revolve around money corrupting democracy—in DDT’s case, “how money and greed, mixed with disrespect for constitutional values, know-nothing ignorance, serious bigotry, and an endless capacity for lying, can really, really corrupt democracy.” Since the beginning of the project, DDT has won—but  you never know! The first few have just appeared this week.

  1. Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior. Last week’s ranking: —

While Zinke’s Navy veteran daughter was boldly attacking Trump as “a disgrace” (!) for the military transgender ban, the Secretary was busy proposing to the White House that several national monuments be dramatically shrunk and opened for mining and drilling.

  1. John Kelly, White House Chief of Staff. Last week’s ranking: —

Yes, he likely accepted the job out of patriotism. And yes, he ridded the White House of roaches Gorka, Bannon, And The Mooch. And maybe he’s made the West Wing paper flow more crisp. But since General Kelly became White House chief of staff a month ago, his boss Trump has made his racist Charlottesville remarks, given his unhinged Phoenix speech, issued his lawless Arpaio pardon during a Category 4 hurricane, advanced his bigoted armed forces transgender ban, and attacked multiple GOP Senators. Kelly reportedly is not even trying to restrain Trump. But Trump is the problem.

  1. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary. Last week’s ranking: —

At her first press briefing in a while, Sarah Sanders shrugged about Trump’s false, incendiary General Pershing mass killing story, then dismissed as “a ridiculous and outrageous claim and doesn’t dignify a response from this podium” the relatively measured statement to a reporter by Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker that Trump “has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.” The same Corker statement then did dignify an attack tweet from President Trump.

  1. Gary Cohn, Director of the National Economic Council. Last week’s ranking: 2

Following Trump’s praise, as Cohn stood by his side, of participants in the Charlottesville white supremacy Nazi Klan march as “very fine people,” Cohn was so principled and brave he reportedly drafted a resignation letter. There was, it seems, no need to send it.

  1. Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education. Last week’s ranking: 9

As part of her efforts to give taxpayer dollars to for-profit colleges no matter how badly they lie and hurt people, DeVos’s Education Department gave the predatory for-profit Charlotte School of Law, banned from federal aid by the Obama Administration, a chance for reinstatement after the school hired as its lobbyist the Podesta Group’s Lauren Maddox, who had advised DeVos during her confirmation hearing. The State of North Carolina finally shut down the school. Forced by law to offer a path to federal loan cancellation for students whose financial futures had been ruined by the school’s predatory practices, DeVos’s Department offered the least generous approach possible.

  1. Scott Pruitt, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. Last week’s ranking: 7

In the midst of its active efforts to encourage corporations to destroy the environment and the climate, Pruitt’s EPA announced it will stop sponsoring an awards program honoring voluntary efforts by businesses to reduce global warming. An EPA spokesman said, “It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that we don’t plan to fund an awards ceremony on climate change.” It isn’t a surprise, because Pruitt is a disgraceful climate denier in the back pocket of the fossil fuel industries.

  1. Mike Pence, Vice President of the United States. Last week’s ranking: 6

Those adoring gazes at Trump, those pained dismissals as “nonsense” of undisputed facts about Trump. Disgraceful.  Also, won’t you please be our president?

2 & 3. Ivanka Trump, Assistant to the President, and Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to the President. Last week’s ranking: 4 & 5

Jews related to Donald Trump, and still working in the White House for Donald Trump. Donald Trump, you’ll recall, praised participants in the Charlottesville white supremacy Nazi Klan march as “very fine people.” It also remains the case that the pair are unqualified for their jobs, that the federal anti-nepotism law should bar their employment, and that their refusals to divest from their businesses raise serious ethics concerns.

  1. Donald J. Trump, President of the United States. Last week’s ranking: duh

In one of the most disgraceful acts of the most disgraceful presidency in U.S. history, Trump pardoned ex-Phoenix sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt for defying a federal court order to stop violating the Constitution by racially profiling Latinos and detaining them based solely on suspicion regarding their immigration status. Trump issued the pardon prior to Arpaio’s sentencing, without a formal Justice Department review, and without Arpaio expressing any regret whatsoever for his conduct. The pardon came late on a Friday afternoon, in the midst of a massive deadly hurricane attacking the Gulf Coast, with a tweet and a White House statement that did not forgive Arpaio’s racist abuses of power but rather celebrated them.

Worse, the pardon, which Trump shamelessly teased at his disgraceful, unhinged, falsehood-filled, self-pitying campaign speech Tuesday in Phoenix, threatens an era of unbounded impunity, with pardons for Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, various Trumps, cronies, Russian mobsters, and himself. It sends a message to targets of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe that they may not need to cooperate after all, because a president with no shame and no limits may be ready to pardon them.

 

Trump also whined and complained about Congress not already providing a billion and half dollars from taxpayers for his border The Wall™, despite the fact that (1) he promised endlessly in the campaign that Mexico would pay for The Wall™; and (2) The Wall™ is the dumbest idea ever, with or without the solar panels.

And Trump moved ahead with his disgraceful bigoted military transgender ban, which blatantly discriminates against patriotic Americans while weakening our national security.

Trump is again number one — the most disgraceful figure in the Trump administration. Trump is not merely a disgrace; he’s a total and complete disgrace.

August 15, 2017

White Supremacy: The Party of Trump

Filed under: protests — trp2011 @ 11:03 PM
Tags: , , , ,

Every day, I hope that I can address something other than Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in my blog posts, but every day, he becomes more and more disgusting. When he was elected and inaugurated, well-meaning people—and others—called for time to give him a chance. Almost thirty weeks after he took over the United States, he has shown himself to be worse and worse. Today was a low point in the past 206 days. It doesn’t mean that we have hit rock bottom, but we are sinking into a giant cesspool with fecal material added every day. DDT added another general to the White House nine days ago. John Kelly (left) was supposed to bring some order and discipline surrounding DDT, but situations have only worsened in the ten days since he became DDT’s chief of staff. Today he just hung his head during DDT’s press conference today at Trump Tower, the first time that DDT has gone to this home since he was inaugurated.

After complaints about the lack of press conferences during his 200+ days, DDT has started holding them since he began his vacation at Bedminster (NJ) on August 4. As with his rallies, his responses are filled with insults and slurs before he walks out in anger when he doesn’t like the questions. Today’s meeting with reporters was supposedly about infrastructure, but DDT focused on protecting white supremacists and attacking the counter-protesters in Charlottesville last weekend when three people died and 35 were injured.

DDT had veered from his Saturday statement that blaming people “on many sides” to yesterday’s forced statement written by someone else that cited responsible groups such as the KKK and neo-Nazis. When a reporter asked him today why he waited to blame white supremacists for the violence, he unleashed his “fire and fury” in his attacks on everyone except his small white supremacist base.

In an attempt to appear presidential, he started out by saying that he didn’t blame the white supremacists on Saturday because of his natural caution—an approach that he has never taken. DDT said, “I had to see the facts, unlike a lot of reporters.” An examination of his past reactions reveals that he never shows any “caution” if the perpetrator appears to be a member of a racial or religious minority, for example calling a robbery at a casino in the Philippines an act of terrorism.

DDT’s customary incoherence appeared when he was asked about whether he would call Heather Heyer’s death from a white supremacist who sped his car into a crowd as terrorism. He said he would call it “the fastest one to come up with a good verdict,” whatever that means.

The “alt-left” is now being used by conservatives as a pejorative term for people who support diversity, and DDT joined the white supremacists in using this term and accused them of being “very, very violent.” Conservatives hope that their new term for progressives will make it on the same level as the racist “alt-right” in their effort to shut down their protests against white supremacy.

DDT claims that within the crowd of neo-Nazis and white supremacists are “very fine people.” He said, “If you look, they were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee,” Trump said, talking about the torch-lit procession changing the Nazi “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us.” He speaks as if he were actually a part of the crowd. DDT’s justification of the white supremacists’ actions is that they are protecting statues of people like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson—treasonous military leaders who declared war against the United States—with American Revolution leaders George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. He accused protesters of trying to “change history” and “change culture.”

The last question DDT took as he left the podium was whether he planned to visit Charlottesville. He said: “Do you know I own a house in Charlottesville? I own actually one of the largest wineries in the United States, that’s in Charlottesville.”

It’s all about Donald.

The morning before the press conference, DDT retweeted a violent image of a train running down a CNN reporter. Fifteen minutes later the tweet disappeared from his Twitter feed but has stayed on the internet. This act follows the death of a woman in Charlottesville Saturday morning after she was deliberately struck by a car driven by a white supremacist and after another heated exchange with CNN reporter Jim Acosta.

A senior White House official described the DDT at the press conference as a person out of control, subject to personal instincts and whims. “That was all him — this wasn’t our plan,” the official said. Another person described him as “distracted” and “irritable” in his interactions with top aides since his statement yesterday. He was angry about what he perceived as his unfair treatment, feeling that he had already given in too much to opponents, and sympathized with “protesters” who defended their “heritage.” The resignation of four CEOs from his manufacturing advisory committee only fueled his fury.

DDT has energized white supremacists. After his press conference, former KKK leader David Duke tweeted,

“Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth.”

White supremacist leader Richard Spencer wrote, “Trump’s statement was fair and down to earth.”

The White House leaped to present GOP lawmakers with their talking points (aka marching orders) regarding DDT’s position on the left along with a transcript of his comments at the press conference in case they were lucky enough to miss it.

These are some of the “fine people” who DDT protects. Four white supremacists beat up 20-year-old DeAndre Harris, an instructional assistant in a special education class who called out “Go home! Leave town!” The white supremacists left him with a concussion, broken wrist, and chipped tooth. Harris is alive only because his friends saved him. The photograph is available because of one man’s bravery. One of the men pointed a 9mm pistol or a Glock semi-automatic at photographer Zach D. Roberts, but Roberts took the photo anyway. The man ran when he heard the click of the camera three feet away. The police did not help Harris, nor did it reach out to Roberts for any photos. One of the white supremacists may, however, be Michael Ramos who unsuccessfully tried to delete Facebook admissions of his beating Harris. Freelancer Chuck Modiano also videoed parts of the vicious beating.

 

Duke and Spencer may be delighted with the Charlottesville rally and DDT’s approval, but the white supremacists who attended it are less satisfied. They are amazed that they’re losing their jobs and getting death threats. Peter Cvjetanovic is confused about the photo taken as he marched and chanted with white supremacists went viral. “I did not expect the photo to be shared as much as it was….  I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo.”

TV news hosts on regular shows are predictably jarred, but even Fox network host Kat Timpf is disgusted. “I’m still in the phase where I’m wondering if it was actually real life,” she said. https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/08/15/business/media/wow-stunned-tv-hosts-reacted-in-real-time-to-trump.html  Her co-host, Guy Benson, said that DDT “lost me” when he described the “very fine people” participating in the white supremacist rally. He said:

“They were chanting things like, ‘Jews will not replace us.’ There’s nothing good about that.”

Charles Krauthammer said, “What Trump did today was a moral disgrace.” He added that the president had broken from his predecessors who recognized the history of civil rights.

After dealing with DDT for over two years, Republican lawmakers may have figured out that he’s a racist. They have spent his first 200+ days defending his white nationalism, but the “very fine people” comment may have pushed several of them over the edge. A few Republicans such as Sens. Orrin Hatch (UT), John McCain (AZ), Marco Rubio (FL), and Cory Gardner (CO) had spoken up before today. Added to this list after today’s press conference are Sens. Jeff Flake (AZ), Rob Portman (OH), David Perdue (GA), Todd Young (IN), Susan Collins (ME), Jerry Moran (KA), Tom Tillis (NC), John Hoevan (ND), James Lankford (OK), Tim Scott (SC), and Dean Heller (NV). The acid test for all these GOP senators will be how they vote for his agenda in September.

When Republicans want votes from progressives, they brag about being the “party of Lincoln.” In 2017 they have become “the party of Trump.”

August 14, 2017

Republicans, DDT Responsible for White Supremacy

At least one person was killed and 35 others were injured in Charlottesville (VA) last weekend in a protest against a white nationalist (aka supremacist) rally. Fringe far-right groups had called for “Unite the Right” in reaction to the proposed removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, and people came from throughout the country. Far-right group members carried assault rifles and wore paramilitary clothing; some had large shields, helmets, and gas masks. The collection of neo-Nazis, KKK, and other rightwing organizations, once considered the fringe, focused on racial, religious, and LGBTQ minorities. Chants included “White lives matter,” “Jew will not replace us,” “Blood and soil” (a Nazi slogan describing the bond between Aryan people and German land), and “Fuck you, faggots.” Their heroes are the treasonous people who declared war against the United States.

Counter-protesters had gathered on a side street when the Dodge rammed them and then backed up to injure others. The death of Heather Heyer, 32, and injuries of nineteen other people came from a car that sped up and drove into the helpless crowd, in an attack identical to the federal government definition of terrorism of vehicles as weapons against innocent people. The car’s driver, 20-year-old James Alex Fields, was “infatuated” with Adolf Hitler and Nazism in high school, according to his former history teacher, Derek Weimer. He was dropped from basic training two years ago “due to a failure to meet training standards” according to an Army spokeswoman. Fields was photographed holding a Vanguard America shield and wearing their uniform, but the hate-group organization disavowed him as a member. Dillon Ulysses Hopper, self-identified “CEO,” was a Marine for over a decade, leaving last January, and a recruiter for three of those years. Vanguard describes itself as a “white identitarian political movement” with only members “of at least 80% White/European heritage,” straight, non-felons, and non- sexual degenerates. It uses the Nazi slogan “Blood and Soil” and stresses that “the glory of the Aryan nation must be recaptured” in the United States, free of Jewish influence.

Two state troopers were killed in a helicopter crash on their way to help law enforcement. Saturday’s event was the third time that “alt-right” groups came to the city after the city council voted in May to sell Lee’s statue and rename Lee and Jackson parks. White supremacist Richard Spencer led dozens of torch-wielding demonstrators on May 13 in a rally resembling those of the KKK. Although several statues of Confederate leaders have been removed, over 700 Confederate monuments remain to commemorate the war against the United States.

David Duke, former KKK leader, celebrated the rally:

“This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back.”

Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer expressed the opinion of tens of millions of people in the nation when he blamed the developing racism and White Nationalism on Dictator Donald Trump (DDT):

“I’m not going to make any bones about it. I place the blame for a lot of what you’re seeing in America today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president.”

DDT avoided tweeting about the tragedy for several hours, only making a statement after his wife, Melania, made her sixth tweet since DDT’s inauguration. (Unfortunately, she copied former First Lady Michelle Obama—again.) Even then, DDT did not reference Charlottesville; his tweet was generic “come together as one” and “Charlottesville sad!” Later he made a statement in which he blamed everyone:

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides—on many sides.”

White supremacists were delighted with DDT’s statement and the fact that he ignored a question about white supremacists. Commenters on the white nationalist message board Stormfront praised DDT, stating that DDT’s comments could also be a criticism of Black Lives Matter.

DDT was warned of increasing white extremism three months ago but only dropped terrorism by whites from his domestic terrorism funding. According to an FBI report, white supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016…more than any other domestic extremist movement.” His initial refusal to address the specific problem in Charlottesville and his silence on the bombing of a Minnesota mosque is in direct contrast to his insistence that “radical Islamic terrorism” will flourish until political leaders name the conflict. He also refused to answer a question about whether the violence could be called terrorism.

Signer pointed out DDT’s support for white supremacists:

“Look at the campaign he ran. Look at the intentional courting, both on the one hand of all these white supremacist, white nationalist groups, anti-semitic groups; and then look on the other hand, the repeated failure to step up, condemn, denounce, silence, put to bed all those different efforts, just like we saw yesterday.”

Two days before the white supremacist march on Charlottesville, Sinclair Broadcasting Group mandated that their outlets show a piece by Mark Hyman that compared the removal of Confederate statues, described as “heroes,” to the Taliban blowing up the 2000-year-old “Buddha of Bamiyan” statues in Afghanistan. Sinclair already owns or operates 173 stations, including such major stations as KOMO in Seattle and KATU in Portland (OR), and hopes to acquire another 60.  Already the nation’s largest television station operator, the acquisitions would give the far-right media company access to 72 percent of the country’s population.

DDT didn’t release his feeble condemnation for white supremacist groups for 48 hours—after the conservative polling company Gallup showed a drop in his approval ratings to 34 percent. A large number of people in the nation thought it was too little, too late. Three CEOs on his manufacturing business council agreed and resigned: Merck’s Ken Frazier, Under Armour’s Kevin Plank, and Intel’s Brian Krzanich. Elon Musk (Tesla) had quit earlier after DDT rejected the Paris Agreement. DDT attacked only the black CEO in his tweet.

Always trying to distract, DDT tweeted today, “The Obstructionist Democrats have given us (or not fixed) some of the worst trade deals in World History. I am changing that fast!” He also insinuated that he might pardon former sheriff in Arizona, Joe Arpaio, convicted of disregarding a state judge’s order to stop anti-immigrant traffic patrols. DDT called the racist Arpaio a “great American patriot,” perhaps not a good move considering his racist approach to last weekend’s events.

Some GOP congressional members did openly disagree with DDT’s Saturday statement about the travesty:

“Mr. President, we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.”—Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)

“Very important for the nation to hear [President Trump] describe events in Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by white supremacists.”—Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL))

“We should call evil by its name. My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”–Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

“What ‘White Nationalists’ are doing in Charlottesville is homegrown terrorism that can’t be tolerated anymore that what any extremist does.”—Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

David Duke responded:

“I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.”

He’s right: the GOP fed the needs of white supremacists to get their votes. Carol Anderson, Professor of African American Studies at Emory University, has a brilliant article on how conservatives have gotten hooked on the addiction to the drug of white supremacy that all should read.

Some well-meaning progressives are calling for protesters to not confront white supremacists in their rallies by holding separate events, but they fail to remember that peaceful protesters against racism have been approached by white supremacists and attacked. Protests against white supremacists are ratcheting up. In Durham (NC), 170 miles south of Charlottesville, people pulled down a monument celebrating soldiers who attacked the United States during the Civil War, and Jim Gray, mayor of Lexington (KY), said he will remove two Confederate monuments. Officials in Tennessee and Maryland are also calling for the removal of Confederate monuments.

Marchers may have thought they were anonymous, but the torches lighted their faces for hundreds of photographs that have spread across the nation. Some of them have already lost jobs, school placements, and, in some cases, their families. The vicious slurs from The Daily Stormer toward the murdered woman also led to the website losing its provider, GoDaddy. Google has rejected the Stormer’s application.

Because of DDT and the GOP, people in the U.S. daily struggle against white nationalists. DDT is the leader of the GOP, and he promoted the takeover of the GOP by white supremacists. He started his racist campaign against President Obama with the birther movement and shared neo-Nazi imagery and memes on his campaign tweets. The endorsement of white supremacy continued with his hire of personal advisers Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, and Stephen Miller. DDT’s pick for attorney general blocks reproductive rights for women, claims affirmative action only for whites, increases laws against cannabis to put more blacks in prison, and deports only undocumented immigrants who are racial minorities. DDT’s administration wants only fear and division. People in the United States no longer feel safe because of the growing white supremacist domination.

February 27, 2017

White Supremacists in Control of U.S.

DDT wants to hire another 15,000 border agents, but the country can’t even train the ones they’ve already hired. Egyptian-born, French citizen, World War II scholar, member of the National Center for Historic Research Henry Rousso was detained for ten hours at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport, accused of coming to the country to work on an illegal visa, subjected to a body search, forced to give an oath, and threatened with deportation on the first flight back to Paris with no explanation. He came to the United States to speak at a Texas A&M symposium about the French collaboration with Nazi Germany to round up and deport tens of thousands of Jews from France during the Holocaust. Egypt is not one of DDT’s targeted countries, and French citizens to not need special visas to come to the United States.

mem-foxMem Fox, world-famous Australian children’s author of over 30 books, said she may never return to the United States after she was detained and insulted by border control agents in Los Angeles for almost two hours. She was en route to a conference in Minnesota. The 70-year-old woman said, “I have never in my life been spoken to with such insolence, treated with such disdain, with so many insults and with so much gratuitous impoliteness.” Agents questioned the validity of her visa although she had traveled to the U.S. 116 times with no incident.

A 25-year-old British math teacher traveling with a group of children and other teachers was denied entry into the United States and removed from a plane in Iceland a week after a U.S. court had already overturned DDT’s Muslim ban. Security personnel escorted Juhel Miah, who had valid visa documentation, from the aircraft with no reason.

adam-purintonWhile trying to keep innocent people out of the United States, the federal government may not address home-grown terrorism—such as the killing of Srinivas Kuchibhotla and wounding of Alok Madasani, immigrants from India who worked for the Garmin technology company. They were peacefully sitting in Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe (KS) when Adam W. Purinton (left) returned after being thrown out for his ethnic slurs and insults about the two men’s immigration status and shot them.

A DDT proposal is to eliminate its focus on white supremacist terrorism by completely concentrating on what is calls “radical Islam terrorism.” The White House has denied that DDT’s policies have any relationship with the increased anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim occurrences since the election, yet the number of white supremacist groups is rapidly growing. The renaming of the federal program Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) to Countering Radical Islamic Extremism ignores far-right attacks and mass shootings, such as the massacre of black churchgoers last year, which U.S. officials don’t classify as “terrorism.” This change sends a signal to white supremacy extremists that they are safe to commit violent actions and kill people.

It’s been five days since Purinton yelled “Get out of my country” and shot the two Indian men as well as Ian Grillot, who tried to intervene in the shooting. DDT has said nothing about the killing. Press Secretary Sean Spicer has not even mentioned the killing in his press briefing until today when he called it “disturbing.”

This past month, Mark Charles Barnett, was arrested in Florida because he planned to bomb several Target stores. He wanted to cause the stock price for the corporation to drop so that he could have a cheaper investment. DDT made no comment about this action. Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell told an undercover officer that he wanted to attack non-whites just like Dylann Roof had killed nine blacks in a church. DDT said nothing about Barnett or McDowell.

According to Charles Kurzman, who teaches sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and David Schanzer, director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University, 74 percent of the law enforcement agencies they surveyed listed anti-government extremism as one of the top three terror threats in their jurisdictions, a far greater percentage than the 39 percent who listed Al Qaida and similar groups. Since 9/11, an annual average of nine U.S. Muslims per year has been involved in terror plots compared to the 337 each year by right-wing extremists. With a one in a six million chance in 2016 of a person in the U.S. being killed by a Muslim terrorist, DDT is declaring more war in the Middle East and asking for a nine percent increase in the military budget.

DDT promotes distrust and hatred within and toward the United States. During the first hours of his Muslim ban, videos of families torn apart, children in detention, elder women blocked from board planes, and more horrific visuals circled the world and spread on pro-Isis social media. These messages reinforced the Al-Qaeda prediction that the “West would eventually turn against its Muslim citizens.” No matter how many times people say that no immigrants from the seven nations on the Muslim ban have killed anyone in a U.S. attack, however, the white supremacists in the White House ignore the facts. The West is fighting not a religion but an ideology that DDT is helping to spread. The border agents who pick up innocent people like teachers, authors, and famous scholars are helping ISIS increase their recruitment.

In developing this hatred, DDT and the entire country is losing the support of those most able to fight a war against ISIS—Muslims. They are the ones who can root out violence and identify the few dangerous people. In the past Muslims have turned in their extremist relatives and friends to Muslims because they believe in the United States. Their knowledge of the language and culture give them a unique advantage that almost all law enforcement officials lack. Muslims, including students, also challenge the extremist narratives on social media with positive information, an action that the past Department of Homeland Security deemed essential. Many of these people supporting the fight against ISIS are now banned from entering the United States, even with the Muslim ban overturned.

Overseas, local Muslims fight terrorism efforts while putting their lives at risk. The new message for them is that the U.S. hates all Muslims equally. The countries identified in DDT’s ban show that he cannot identify between Sunnis and Shiites. In the past, the U.S. used Shiite governments as an ally to fight ISIS, and Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen have large Shiite populations that are less extremist than Sunnis.

While DDT has declared war on all Muslims, he has welcomed the message of white supremacy, largely through his strongest advisors headed by Steve Bannon. Many of their threats are against Jewish institutions. The unprecedented 69 bomb threats called in to Jewish community centers during the first weeks of January have terrified children who had to be evacuated, and historic Jewish cemeteries are being vandalized. The most recent desecration was this weekend in Philadelphia. In the past 45 days, there have been 190 incidents against Jews and Jewish institutions across the U.S. This is terrorism.

DDT largely ignored the threats of violence until the media pushed him into a few tepid answers in which he briefly talked about the Jewish members of his family. These weak statements, however, followed ugly anti-Semitic stereotypes in his speeches and advertisements, and the threats continue—20 of them today directed toward children’s schools and community centers throughout 13 East Coast states.

The first month following DDT’s election saw 1,094 reports of “bias-related incidents” against Jews, immigrants, women, and LGBTQ people—and that number may have been underreported because people didn’t want to talk about them. Social media is a useful place to spread bigotry, but white supremacists know that they have one of their own in the nation’s highest office. After DDT refused a question from a religious Jewish reporter representing an ultra-Orthodox Jewish magazine, a tweet celebrated by the statement, “Sit down Jew boy! The goyim have had enough.” Now DDT has further given the haters a safe place by ignoring them in a federal counter-terrorism program.

Meanwhile, the killing in Kansas has not been declared either a hate crime or an act of terrorism, despite the killer claiming that he had killed “a couple of Iranians.” Last week, press secretary Sean Spicer was asked about the link between the president’s rhetoric and the rise of reported hate crimes in the U.S. He said that “any loss of life is tragic” and added that “to suggest that there’s any correlation, I think, is a bit absurd.” DDT’s condemnation is saved for people he assumes are Muslim and people of color.

The nation is becoming much less safe under DDT’s policies. White supremacists have declared open season on everyone in the United States, and DDT’s policies are supporting them.

January 11, 2017

Nominee Hearings: Make America Corrupt Again

Filed under: Congress — trp2011 @ 9:50 PM
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Writing about the timing for Senate confirmation hearings—at least accurately!—has become almost impossible. A few days, I was bemoaning how Cabinet members are being rushed through without deliberation, but every hour seems to change the GOP game plan. Originally, six Cabinet-level confirmations were scheduled on the same day that the chamber works on the budget (that one that grows the deficit by $10 trillion in the next decade) and Donald Trump (DT) gives his first press conference in six months to divert attention from his nominees. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said, “There is a whole lot of: ‘Don’t watch what we’re doing here.” Watchers now, however, can see how the GOP is failing at its job.

The inability of Betsy DeVos (Department of Education) put off her hearing until next Tuesday in the hopes that she can finished her required ethics paperwork. Her investment in a for-profit charter school would be a conflict of interest in any other administration.  As more cabinet nominees are shown to have possible conflicts of interest, they have also been postponed without the necessary review of background checks and ethics review.

Andrew Puzder (Department of Labor) may not get a hearing until February. The postponement comes at the same time as a new survey finding that two-thirds of the women who work at his fast-food restaurants (Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s) reported sexual harassment in the workplace. That was followed by a spokesperson for Puzder who confirmed that his ex-wife appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to talk about his domestic violence against her in the 1980s.

Wilbur Ross (Department of Commerce), also  scheduled for today, has his hearing next Thursday, again because the committee has not received his ethics agreement. The hearings for CIA director nominee, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KA) for CIA Director was postponed until tomorrow. That makes hearings for four different cabinet members on one day.

Conservatives are blaming Walter M. Shaub Jr., the director of the ethics office, for the delay, but nominees have not submitted their information to him.

The schedule as of recently:

  • Attorney General: Jeff Sessions – Jan. 10-11
  • Homeland Security: John Kelly – Jan. 10-11
  • State: Rex Tillerson – Jan 11 (may go into Jan 12)
  • Transportation: Elaine Chao – Jan. 11
  • CIA: Mike Pompeo – Jan. 12
  • Labor: Andrew Puzder – February
  • Defense: James Mattis – Jan. 12
  • HUD: Ben Carson – Jan. 12

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) accused Democrats of trying to slow down the process in demanding the necessary paperwork, but he had been a stickler for this requirement when President Obama was elected. Now he calls them “little procedural complaints.” Necessary submissions require tax returns, FBI background checks, and Office of Government Ethics information.

Sen. Jeff Sessions’ (Department of Justice) had completed the FBI background check, but his original application skipped over years of experience. He withheld decades of records about his career—information about 1981-1993 as U.S. Attorney to the Southern District of Alabama, 1995-1997 as the state’s attorney general, and 1997-2002 as a first term U.S. senator. Also missing are the hearings after his nomination for federal judge in 1986 when he was determined to be too racist for the position and dozens of recent interviews when he made controversial statements. It all came out in the hearing anyway.

The Alabama Republican criticized Judge Sonia Sotomayor and Goodwin Liu for incomplete questionnaires, accusing the latter of his incompetence because of his “extraordinary disregard for the Committee’s constitutional role” or attempting “to hide his most controversial work from the Committee.” Sessions said that Liu might be committing a felony by omitting information from his questionnaire. After almost a year of the Senate ignoring the nominee, President Obama withdrew the nomination. Liu is now seated on California’s Supreme Court.

Sessions is perhaps the most controversial nominee, and McConnell had limited the number of witnesses called by Democrats to four in the two-day hearing, only half the length of four days for John Ashcroft, the last nominees for AG plucked from the Senate. Ashcroft’s hearings included 19 outside witnesses plus four senators. Committee Chair Chuck Grassley refused to push back the time of Sessions’ hearing because of his omissions on his applications. Two witnesses against Sessions were Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)—the first time a sitting senator has testified against a sitting senate nominee—and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). Sessions did not appear for today’s hearing–but that is another story for later.

Although Sessions’ racist record goes back many decades, his current record shows racist, homophobic,  and misogynist  attitudes. For example, he gave Trump a pass for his sexist comments and admissions to sexual assault because “everybody knows that Trump likes women” and “uses this kind of talk.” He praised the 2013 Supreme Court ruling that eliminated key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965; he voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act; he voted for a constitutional ban of same-sex marriage; he opposed the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the hate crimes prevention act; and he voted to abolish a program that helps businesses owned by women and minorities compete for federally funded transportation projects. In 2015, he praised a 1924 immigration law to end “indiscriminate acceptance of all races.”

In addition to being racist, anti-immigrant, homophobic, and anti-woman, Sessions has connections to Southern Co., one of the nation’s biggest electric companies and his biggest corporate donor. Favors for the company could impact his legal work on the Clean Power Plan which regulates carbon emissions from electric utilities. A power plant that the company is building is also being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. ExxonMobil also gave to campaigns of Sessions who then vociferously objected to any investigations into the company concealing its knowledge of climate change from its shareholders and the public. This is the man who would be guiding the country in protecting the laws and civil rights.

Sessions has said that he will not recuse himself from voting on his own nomination as Hillary Clinton and John Kerry did.

Even the Republicans admit that they have different standards for DT’s nominees. Asked if past standards of disclosing foreign payments apply to DT’s Cabinet nominees, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) said it should not. HuffPo repeated, “So it’s different now because it’s Trump?” Inhofe said twice that’s “just right” about different standards for DT. The question came from a GOP letter, also signed by Inhofe, demanding  “unprecedented disclosures” from former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) when he was President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense. At that time, Senate Republicans had a concern about “the potential for foreign conflicts of interest.” The same Republicans no longer have that concern.

The hearing for Elaine Chao (Department of Transportation) went quite well if you can stomach sexist comments such as “I regret that I have but one wife to give for my country’s infrastructure” (Mitch McConnell and “I keep thinking … how excited your daddy is right now … and that he is responsible for you and your performing” (Jim Inhofe).  Even the Democrats joined the nonsense.

John Kelly (Department of Homeland Security) said gave all the right answers to keep his hearing audience happy, but the questions were softballs.

Donald Trump’s press conference was also today. But that, too, is another story as is information from the hearing for Rex Tillerson (Secretary of State).

The lights have already gone out twice in a week at the Washington Monument. It could be an indication of the coming dark ages.

January 8, 2017

‘Understanding’ Won’t Change GOP Voters

If only Hillary Clinton were more likable. If only she had gone to the right states. And on and on.

After the election, Democrats used Clinton as the scapegoat for losing the election and skipped over the antagonistic media, the James Comey illegal releases, the Russian hacking, the Trump lies, and a number of other issues beyond her control. Ignoring all these reasons, Democrats decided they lost the presidency because they didn’t try to “understand” the white working-class segment of the population.

Forsetti’s Justice presents his perspective of “understanding” rural Christian white America.

“The real problem isn’t East Coast elites who don’t understand or care about rural America. The real problem is that rural Americans don’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out. They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because they don’t want to admit it is in large part because of the choices they’ve made and the horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe…. The problem is they don’t understand themselves or the reasons for their anger and frustration.”

The white Christian god is king in deep-red states. Tribal belief systems are shaped by religious fundamentalism which prevents curiosity, change, learning, and criticism. Democrats who think that these fundamentalists need “understanding” are wrong: they only want agreement. All educated progressives are enemies to fundamentalists.

“Education is the enemy of fundamentalism because fundamentalism, by its very nature, is not built on facts.”

Fundamentalists believe in teaching reading and writing but reject any disagreement to their doctrine. Women should marry and have children the minute that they graduate from high school, and college for young men is a waste of time. Even young people who attend college automatically reject whatever doesn’t fit into their fundamentalist belief systems.

Justice defines rural Christian white Americans as racists. They may deny this description because they’ve—mostly—stopped burning crosses and lynchings, but their belief system tells them that they are superior because they are white, all made in the image of their white god. Religion teaches them that a less-than-white skin comes from sins instead of their ancestors. Fundamentalist belief that blacks are curse, for good reason, means that they shouldn’t be treated as equals. Internal change is frightening to fundamentalists so they ignore evolution, genetics, and science. No “understanding” from Democrats will make them less racist and more open to facts.

Propaganda works exceptionally well with fundamentalists because they have no protection against it, no openness, willingness to re-evaluate, critical analysis, and self-reflection. Fundamentalists grant some people “expert status” and believe everything they say, treating it like gospel.

“Rural Christian white Americans have let anti-intellectual, anti-science, bigoted racists like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, the Stepford wives of Fox, and every evangelical preacher on television into their systems because these people tell them what they want to hear and because they sell themselves as being like them.”

These people are like DT: they have nothing in common with these fundamentalists except for their color and language of white superiority. Yet fundamentalists treat them as authorities.

Bad information stays with fundamentalists because of their “closed-off” belief systems. Justice compares this to spinal fluid, “great as long as nothing infectious gets into it. If bacteria gets into your spinal fluid, it causes unbelievable damage because there are no white blood cells to fend off invaders and protect the system. Without the protective services of white blood cells in the spinal column, infection spreads like wildfire and does significant damage in a short period of time. Once inside the closed-off spinal system, bacteria are free to destroy whatever they want.”

Anything outside their belief system is a threat to fundamentalists who want the behavior be blocked for everyone. Same-gender couples marrying, blacks protesting police killings of unarmed friends and family, immigrants performing cheap labor, Muslims celebrating a non-Christian religion, women making a working wage, people getting a college education, scientists warning about climate change—all these are threats. A black president is a threat. The Chinese are threats. Fear makes them create or believe false information such as “President Obama was born in Kenya, is a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood who hates white Americans and is going to take away their guns.”

The solution isn’t “understanding” the irrational and unjustified fears based on the lies that come from their fundamentalist belief systems promoted by rural white Christians. Fundamentalists don’t trust Democrats and aren’t open to them. Finding “common ground” isn’t the answer. Justice wrote:

“When a 2,700-year-old book that was written by uneducated, pre-scientific people, subject to translation innumerable times, and edited with political and economic pressures from popes and kings, is given higher intellectual authority than facts arrived at from a rigorous, self-critical, constantly re-evaluating system that can and does correct mistakes, no amount of understanding, respect or evidence is going to change their minds and assuage their fears.”

One way fundamentalist belief changes is through personal occurrence. Acceptance of same-gender marriage switched from 68 percent of the people opposed 20 years ago to a 61-percent acceptance today. Even 40 percent of Republicans support marriage equality. Fundamentalists learned that their friends and family were part of the LGBT community, and the conflict between the belief system and personal experience more than reversed their opinions.

Changes in belief systems can come from catastrophes, especially if taken personally.Comedian Dennis Miller changed from using complex, left-leaning humor to right-wing anger and frustration after the 9/11 attacks. The reverse can also be true: the Great Depression and FDR’s progressive remedies moved GOP members into being Democrats who disagreed that the economy could be saved only by the free market but destroyed by the government.

George W. Bush’s disastrous recession didn’t have the same effect because Congress and the Obama administration saved people from the suffering in the 1930s. Without the shock of a devastating economic depression, conservatives stuck to their belief system of badly regulated markets, supply side economics, and ineffective ways to respond to financial crises. Instead they rewarded the political party causing the problem by voting them into a record number of state legislatures and House control.

Catastrophes also don’t always solve situations. A century and a half after the South lost the Civil War fundamentalists there think they were right and need to change the outcome.

The fundamentalist belief system supports lies that President Obama was in charge at the beginning of the financial crisis and that the mortgage crisis was because the government forced banks to lend to unqualified minorities. President Obama’s dark skin made their lies seem accurate.

Fundamentalists believe that only god can change the weather; that god thinks women should be subservient to men; and that god created whites superior to people of color, especially in an environment where white people interact with few people of color. The fundamentalist belief system requires fundamentalists to vote for massive tax cuts and cutting back government although it hurts their personal situation.

Justice wrote:

“’Rural white America needs to be better understood,’ is a dodge, meant to avoid the real problems because talking about the real problems is viewed as too upsetting, too mean, too arrogant, too elite, too snobbish. Pointing out that Aunt Bea’s view of Mexicans, blacks and gays is bigoted isn’t the thing one does in polite society. Too bad more people don’t think the same about Aunt Bea’s views. It’s the classic, ‘You’re a racist for calling me a racist,’ ploy.”

Democrats are only avoiding the obvious—that the U.S. has always had a race problem. The divide will continue as long as rural Christian white Americans fail to accept such truths that their votes are responsible for the largest redistribution of wealth to the top in the history of the country, that white business owners are to blame for moving jobs overseas, that no one is going to block their buying guns if they are sane, that their churches won’t have to marry same-gender couples, that access to birth control won’t damage their lives, that they get more help from the government than people in the blue states, that health crises are not “moral failings,” that shopping at big-box stores destroys small businesses, and that most of their problems come from the Republicans who they elect. Economic policies that help rural Christians—increased minimum wage, unions, infrastructure assistance, renewable energy, closing climate change, healthcare reform, etc.—come from Democrats.

Until fundamentalist Christians quit voting against their personal interests just to hurt immigrants, they will continue to suffer—along with all the rest of the bottom 99 percent. Trying to “understand” the white voter isn’t going to change anything.

January 5, 2017

What Passes for News on NBC:

Filed under: Media — trp2011 @ 8:46 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Criticized for being close to Donald Trump (DT) and advising him on his campaign, Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC’s The Morning Show, claimed that people had to be good friends with political figures in order to get news from them. The conservative “news” show host has stayed while MSNBC fired progressive talk show hosts and replaced them with hacks such as Chuck Todd who has a daily show on that cable network as well as destroying the reputation of Meet the Press.

Now NBC has picked up Megyn Kelly from Fox, despite the latter’s offer of $100 million for her to stay. Kelly became a Fox star after she verbally attacked DT in the first primary debate. Now NBC is trying to boost its ratings by scheduling her as host of a daily daytime show and a Sunday newsmagazine program while she covers major political events.

Here’s some of Kelly’s past “journalism”:

Santa Claus is white. Kelly responded to a Slate column suggesting that black Santa Clauses make people of color feel more included:

“Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn’t mean it has to change, you know? I mean, Jesus was a white man too. He was a historical figure, that’s a verifiable fact, as is Santa — I just want the kids watching to know that.”

A journalist should know that “white” didn’t exist in first-century Palestine or third-century Turkey. Or that Santa Claus is not “a historical figure.”

Oh yes, Jesus was also white.

Victims should be blamed. Kelly said that Dajerria Becton, a 15-year-old black girl thrown to the ground by a police officer, deserves blame because of being “no saint.”

“The girl was no saint, either. He had told her to leave, and she continued to linger. When a cop tells you to leave, get out.”

Becton was doing exactly what the cop ordered: he said to leave “now” and she walked away. Corporal Eric Casebolt yelled at her, ran after her, grabbed her, and dragged her to the ground. He only stopped because two other officers grabbed him. He resigned, and she was not charged.

Pepper spray is just “a food product.” Kelly says that being sprayed is not any problem.

“It’s a derivative of actual pepper, it’s a food product, essentially. A lot of experts are looking at saying is that the real deal. Has it been diluted?”

Police-grade pepper spray is 5.5 times hotter than the hottest known pepper, the ghost chili that has been compared to “a cocktail of battery acid and glass shards.” A U.S. Army study stated that pepper spray’s active ingredient “is capable of producing mutagenic and carcinogenic effects, sensitization, cardiovascular and pulmonary toxicity, neurotoxicity, as well as possible human fatalities.”It can cause corneal damage and was associated with 26 deaths in California between 1993 and 1995—one in every 600 people sprayed by state police officials. The product is banned for military use overseas by the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits the use of “any chemical which through its chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans or animals.” 

Criticism of the Vietnam War sounds like Osama bin Laden. Bill Ayers, a former member of the Weather Underground, agreed that it was fair to criticize his actions in bombing government buildings during the 1960s but that people should criticize violent actions that the U.S. takes in its military campaigns throughout the world. Kelly responded:

“I hear you saying — You sound like, with respect, Osama bin Laden.”

People in Colorado can commit voter fraud by printing out ballots at home. No they can’t! Kelly failed to understand the vote by mail process when she claimed that a new law “literally allows residents to print ballots from their home computers, then encourages them to turn ballots over to ‘collectors’ in what appears to be an effort to do away with traditional polling places.” Only people living abroad or serving in the military can receive them via email.

The New Black Panther Party is the greatest threat to American democracy ever. Six years ago, Kelly found prominence on the Fox network through her “shocking” reports about the organization that she accused of leading a vicious voter intimidation campaign during the 2008 election. In reality—not something of importance to either Kelly or Fox—two Black Panthers stood outside a heavily black Philadelphia voting place. Police removed them after complaints. Two years later, one Black Panther was at the same location, politely opening the door for voters. Media Matters reported that Kelly “devoted 45 segments, totaling more than 3.5 hours, to the investigation in a two-week timeframe” on the “scandal.” Her story was one of anti-white racism from Eric Holder, then head of the Department of Justice, who protected the NBPP and refused to investigate black people.

“Well, think about that. Think about that. … Now you’re going to have instances like this where Black Panthers and others can go to the polling stations and do this if they so choose. And they just basically are gonna get a pass because while it’s not an official thing, it’s been made very clear to all the rank-and-file voting rights attorneys in the DOJ those cases are not to be pursued.”

Racism has no relationship to police shootings of black people. Again not true! Yet Kelly continually used former Los Angeles Police Department officer Mark Fuhrman on her show to dismiss any racism. She also decried the “anti-cop, thug mentality” in black communities and criticized the Obama administration for encouraging integrated neighborhoods “whether the communities want it or not.”

megyn-kelly

Kelly gently searches for Donald Trump’s (DT) sensitive side. After her original attack on DT in the first primary debate and his refusal to attend another debate because of her, she changed to a cozy interview after he gained his GOP candidacy. At one point, she asked:

“Has anyone ever hurt you emotionally?”

Racist “jokes” among officials are acceptable and normal. After a police officer killed Michael Brown in Ferguson (MO), an investigation uncovered blatantly racist email exchanges among the town’s commanders, police officers, and court officials. For example, the comment that President Obama would not keep his job in the 2012 election because “what black man holds a steady job for four years” and depicted him as a chimpanzee. Another example was the “joke” about a man seeking “welfare” for his dogs because they are “mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no frigging clue who their Daddies are.”

Most of the points above illustrate Kelly’s racist approach in her “news.” Her move to NBC appears to be a support of racist conspiracies and falsehoods in mainstream news.

Over a year ago, Andrew Lack, head of news for NBC and MSNBC, said that he was shifting away from left-wing hosts to save the network. Since then, the networks concentrated on presidential candidate DT over his competition and became another venue to tout the right wingers.

If NBC hopes to bring Fox network watchers to its network, they’re sadly mistaken. Reading the comments on the NYT article shows that the conservatives dislike her more than the progressives do. Of course, the highly conservative CEO of NBC won’t mind copying Fox in its non-progressive policies.

A much quieter move from Fox to MSNBC was accomplished by Greta Van Susteren. It appears that Megyn Kelly had already sucked all the oxygen out of the two networks.

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