Saturday, July 11, 2020

WATCH: Frederick Douglass’ Descendants Read ‘What To The Slave Is The 4th Of July?’

The game show host in the White House gave a Hollywood style shout out to the late Frederick Douglass in 2017, implying that he was alive, and it was risibly and typically Trump. CNN: “I am very proud now that we have a museum on the National Mall where people can learn about Reverend King, so many other things,” Trump said. “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is being recognized more and more, I notice.” – Trump added: “Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and millions more black Americans who made America what it is today. Big impact.” This is the level of comprehension with which Trump is able to deal with the history of systemic racism, as we saw at Mt. Rushmore, when he somnambulantly read the same names from a teleprompter, with all the gravity and empathy that one would use to intone the ingredients in a cake recipe, or something else they found equally trivial. When Trump’s not at a rally, exclusively, he’s going through the motions of governing. He hates it probably as much as we hate seeing him do it. – Here are five descendants of Frederick Douglass, reading his speech before the Abolitionist Society in 1852, after he escaped slavery. It was quite a piece of work then and it resonates particularly now, through these young people who are his descendants, and part of his legacy. – 6:58 in length If you want to read the full text, here’s a link. I’ll bet many people, if not most of us, never thought of it from this perspective before.

Trump Campaign Appropriating Nazi, White Supremacist Symbols. These are Not Mistakes.

There comes a point when something can no longer be called a “coincidence” or a “blunder.” We’ve hit that point — passed it, really — with the Trump administration and the campaign (they are one and the same, of course). The Nazis created the “Nazi Eagle,” or the “Iron Eagle,” in the 1920s, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Of course, like other Nazi images, it is now popular with American white supremacists, neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates — the rock-solid core of Trump’s electoral base. So, when we see the logo of the Trump 2020 campaign, should we be surprised? Trumps new logo for 2020 is eerily familiar, where have I seen this before? 🤔 — YS (@NYinLA2121) July 1, 2020 So far this new logo is sold on T-shits that you can get for a cool $30 from the Trump campaign site, which I will not link to because you don’t want the shirt unless you want to give the Trump campaign $30 for the privilege of ceremonially burning it. I wouldn’t bother. As you might imagine, American Jews — or Jews anywhere, I would imagine — are not happy with this. Trump & Pence are proudly displaying a Nazi-inspired shirt on their official campaign website. They are promoting genocidal imagery yet again — just days after President Trump retweeted a video of a supporter chanting “white power.” Link: — Bend the Arc: Jewish Action (@jewishaction) July 1, 2020 Bend the Arc: Jewish Action wrote: It’s not an accident. Bigotry is their entire brand. If some right-wing bootlicker wants to try the “it’s a coincidence” or whatever argument, just respond with this, and don’t forget to punch a Nazi: They look nothing alike — Lyndsay 🎮 (@LyndzLP) July 2, 2020 But the campaign isn’t calling it a mistake. Of course, they’re doubling down on it, claiming that the problem is with the perception and not the reality of the symbol. Trump 2020 communications director Josef Goebbels, er, Tim Murtaugh, said: “In Democrats’ America, Mount Rushmore glorifies white supremacy and the bald eagle with an American flag is a Nazi symbol. They have lost their minds.” Apparently criticism of the logo is “moronic,” in Murtaugh’s words. The “America First” slogan, another key element of the logo, also has a deep, and ugly, history. — usurper (@usurper19) July 2, 2020 Early in his campaign, Trump said: I’m not isolationist, but I am “America First.” So I like the expression. I’m “America First.” Steven Miller and Steve Bannon co-wrote that March 2016 campaign speech. Both Miller and Bannon are neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and were brought into the Trump campaign because, not in spite of, their stances. (Don’t forget, Trump’s first Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, is an unrepentant white supremacist and neo-Confederate.) The America First Committee (AFC) was founded in 1940, and initially focused on its opposition of the US entering the war on either side. Its members included socialists, conservatives, and Americans from prominent and wealthy families. Future US President Gerald Ford was a member, as was future Vice-Presidential candidate Sargent Shriver, future Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, and others. But, anti-Semitism and an increasing pro-Nazi slant began to define it, Less than eight weeks before the Pearl Harbor attack, AFC spokesperson Charles Lindbergh delivered a wildly anti-Semitic speech on […]

Why Black Lives Matter Must Not Be ‘Disappeared’ By Daily Political Distress

I’ve noticed, as I’m sure you have, that the onslaught of dreadful and deadly news of late has served, inadvertently one hopes, to shove Black Lives Matter news and stories to one side. Understandable on one level—the daily news grows worse every day. Bounties on the heads of our serving men and women in Afghanistan; Coronavirus upticks that are starting to look like the Black Plague had nothing on it, never mind the most famous of the early plagues we all know about occurred in the 14th century; jobs reports being touted, with “falling” unemployment numbers that economists are declaring to be not credible—that is, not 11.1% (which is let’s face it still really awful), but rather closer to 14%; and those infection number upticks showing a growth pattern that may make us think a 20% unemployment number is good news. But there’s this: You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body Is a Confederate Monument The black people I come from were owned and raped by the white people I come from. Who dares to tell me to celebrate them. This article, an opinion piece, by Caroline Randall Williams, appeared in the New York Times on June 28. Williams is the daughter of author Alice Randall. But of more import to our shared history: Williams is the great-great granddaughter of Edmund Pettis, Confederate general, and after whom the infamous Selma Bloody Sunday Bridge is named, The Pettus Bridge. Upon which bridge, on March 7th, 1965, peaceful marchers were trapped at the foot of the bridge, attacked, beaten, and tear gassed. Including currently serving Congressman John Lewis. Take a few minutes to read her article. And you’ll see why Black Lives Matters and all related offshoots of this umbrella movement must not be allowed to disappear from our attention. And further, the removal of monuments and statues makes such good sense, not from merely a dry historical place, but as a way of honoring all those folks of color whose bodies are, as Williams says, Confederate Monuments.  
Wall Street Journal / YouTube Confederate Flag Supporters Rally in Georgia...

Turning The Tables On Racism

As you get older, and there’s less on your plate every day, you have more time to think. And when you have a whole life to think back on, who knows what will come to you unbidden? And so it was that, recently, while thinking of the incredible events surrounding the national change of mood regarding confederate monuments, and the confederate flag, and believe it or not, I found striking similarities to another massive social and political shift that occurred during my life. It will take a bit to get there, but believe me, it all comes together in the end. My heart soared when I saw and heard that the state of Mississippi had finally lifted itself out of the muck and became the last state to remove the confederate flag as a component of it’s state flag. This is s work in progress, but it is progress. Following the Mother Emmanuel massacre, South Carolina lowered the confederate flag for the last time from the state capitol. Confederate monuments and statues are coming down all over the country, and even NASCAR, the granddaddy of southern sports, has barred confederate flags from their events and properties. But there is an underlying social movement involved in this that I don’t think people really realize right now, and it has to do with the psychology of racism, or any other socially questionable behavior. Let me explain. I was a long time smoker, I started smoking when I was 16, and didn’t stop until I was 58, when I switched to vaping. And I was a serious smoker, committed to my right to poison my lungs. But being an avowed smoker during that time frame, I had front row seats to the social upheaval that finally turned the tide of the acceptability of smoking. When I started smoking, it was socially acceptable, it was done everywhere. But somewhere along the line, people who didn’t smoke got tired of having their clothes smell like an ashtray, and getting diseases common to smokers, even though they didn’t smoke. And then they got some solid scientific evidence on their sides, and it was off to the races. It started slowly, but once it got rolling, it was unstoppable. In rapid succession, smokers could no longer smoke in restaurants, in bars, on airplanes or theaters, at indoor sporting events, and finally, even at outdoor sporting events. And the ultimate psychological effect was that it tended to isolate smokers from each other, and to minimize the places where fellow huffers could congregate and feel comfortable among other true believers. Every time you lit up a Marlboro, you felt less and less like The Outlaw Waylon Jennings, and more and more like The Outlaw Josie Wales. Are you seeing the connection? It’s easy for a good ole boy to take great pride in grabbing his confederate flag on a short pole, jamming that pole into a holder on the back of his redneck Cadillac, and zooming off to a NASCAR event, there the same flag flies from a pole, there is confederate paraphernalia on sale at the race, and some of the cars in the race have the confederate flag decals on their cars. It’s much easier for a racist to feel self confident in his beliefs, and to say to his […]

Charlie Pierce Lambasts Tom Cotton ‘Nuttier Than A Bag Of Squirrels’ After Cotton’s Racist...

Tom Cotton is not only a Trump supporter but an acolyte of the MAGA cult, aspiring to be High Priest. Trump was never going to be around more than eight years in any event, and now it looks like he’ll bite the dust sooner, but that doesn’t mean that his dogma won’t live on. After all, the GOP paved the way for forty years so that a creature like Trump could appear and Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley and a few others are in line to assume the mantle. However, they might do well to consider whether it’s a dying religion and Cotton may be on a fool’s errand. Cotton spoke in front of the Senate on the topic of whether Washington, D.C. should become a state. He said things like, “Would you trust Mayor Bowser to keep Washington safe?” As opposed to Trump? Personally, I would trust Rin Tin Tin to keep Washington safe, above Trump, and we’ve already seen why. In all events, Cotton’s speech was a coded racist screed for the ages. As Esquire’s Charlie Pierce put it, “What the fck is this? I mean, besides the obvious dogwhistles that can be heard beyond the orbit of Neptune.” Esquire: Cotton blew through the customary bargain-bin of historical references—Jacobins! The Philadelphia Mutiny!—and he trotted out the name of Marion Barry, of whom I had not thought in a decade, as a demonstration that DC can’t be a state because the residents can’t be trusted to govern themselves. (Dips into bargain-bin of historical references and comes up with a small box labelled, “Redeemers.”) There was some lengthy mendacity on the subject of, if Washington can be a state, why can’t Jacksonville or New York? And, of course, the cat peeped from the bag; this is all about two additional Democratic senators elected by a population to whom the Republicans would rather not appeal. But just as one’s interest began to flag, Cotton let the pigeons loose. “Yes, Wyoming is smaller than Washington by population, but it has three times as many workers in mining, logging and construction, and ten times as many workers in manufacturing. In other words, Wyoming is a well-rounded working-class state. A new state of Washington would not be…What vital industries would the new state of Washington represent? Lobbying? Bureaucracy? Give me a break. By far, the largest group of workers in the city are bureaucrats and other white-collar professionals. This state would be nothing more than an appendage of the federal government.” Interesting that he would tout Wyoming, the most insanely over-represented deeo red Republican state in the union. The population of the entire state is 578,000, which is roughly the size of Glendale, Pasadena and Burbank put together and nobody wants to give the San Fernando Valley statehood and two more senators, I’ll warrant that. Now I find it fascinating that hardhat trades like mining and logging and manufacturing are considered more valuable pursuits than what goes on in the cities, and so does Charlie Pierce. He marvels that in Cotton’s mind, the aforementioned trades “count for more as ‘workers’ than do street-cleaners, and hotel maids, and cops, and cabbies, and sanitation workers, and bodega clerks who make Washington a better place for Tom Cotton to live than back home in Bugtussle is.” So read this as the […]

New Police Chief Fires Three Racist Cops on First Day in Office

I live in Wilmington, NC. Nice beaches just a few minutes’ drive away, warm weather, college town ambience in some areas. And lots and lots of racism, both overt and (barely) under the surface. And, like so many other cities, towns and rural districts across this great country of ours (TM), our police departments and sheriff’s offices are…problematic. Some of the officers are as bluntly and callously racist as you can get. Others are good and dedicated people. I know, I’ve worked with them when I was in the educational system. This story is about both sets. [Trigger alert: I am not going to use bleeps or asterisks to sanitize the words spoken by the racists in this story. Be warned.] The Wilmington Police Department, which has a distinctly checkered history in race relations, has a new police chief, Donny Williams. Williams is black. That’s notable. One of Williams’s first actions as chief was to fire three particularly bestial racists on the force. Name them and shame them: Michael “Kevin” Piner, James “Brian” Gilmore, and Jessie E. Moore II, all white, all veterans of the police force. The firings come after a routine review of dashcam footage that accidentally recorded two phone conversations between the officers. Williams used the “extraordinary circumstances” exclusion in North Carolina law to allow him to report the details of the firings. A lawyer for the officers attempted to prevent Williams from doing just that. In a press conference by Williams and some — not all — members of the City Council, Williams said: Why are we releasing this information this way and at this time? Because it is the right thing to do. Normally, personnel laws allow only a very small amount of information to be made public. However, in exceptional cases, when it is essential to maintain public confidence in the administration of the City and the Police Department, more information may be released. This is the most exceptional and difficult case I have encountered in my career. We must establish new reforms for policing here at home and throughout this country. He added: When I first learned of these conversations, I was shocked, saddened and disgusted. There is no place for this behavior in our agency or our city and it will not be tolerated. Mayor Bill Saffo added, “I can honestly say that I was sickened by the vile and destructive language used by these officers.” Williams will release the video footage if he can secure the approval of a judge. The June 4, 2020 conversations were recorded from Piner’s car. The first recording to draw the attention of the police supervisor was a conversation between Piner and Gilmore, who pulled up alongside Piner in his car. When the conversations turned to the George Floyd protests, the talk quicly turned ugly. Piner told Gilmore that the WPD was only interested in “kneeling down with the black folks.” Gilmore replied that he had seen a YouTube video of white people bowing down on their knees and “worshipping blacks.” Bad enough, right? It gets worse. The three then began badmouthing some of their black colleagues. One was characterized as “bad news” and a “piece of shit.” Piner said of the black officer, “Let’s see how his boys take care of him when shit gets rough, […]

What the F*ck Is Going On with You, Gaetz?

I expect just about any level of idiocy from Matt Gaetz (R-Beer Bong). He’s the idiot who cribbed garbage conspiracy theories from Reddit for a House amendment calling for the prosecution of Hillary Clinton and James Comey. He’s the lunatic who brought a white supremacist to the State of the Union address. He’s the jackass who threatened House witness Michael Cohen on Twitter, and demanded to be allowed to take part in the Cohen hearing even though he isn’t a member of the House Judiciary Committee. He’s the traitor who led a squad of fellow traitors into a highly secure Capitol Building facility to disrupt the Trump impeachment hearings. He’s the assclown who wore a gas mask (see the photo above) on the House floor to mock the precautions being taken in light of the COVID-19 virus. (When one of his constituents died from the virus days later, Gaetz sent thoughts and prayers. Mighty big of him.) And, he’s the sorry shit who posted on Twitter recommendations that the US military “hunt down” members of the so-called “antifa” movement because they are “terrorists.” But now…I’ll admit. I’m flabbergasted. Two days ago, as documented by our own Mama Zoom, Gaetz got his ass handed to him by black Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond. Richmond spoke at length about the Republicans’ greasy efforts to derail the House floor discussion of police brutality against people of color: I am absolutely sitting here offended. To my colleagues, especially the ones that keep introducing amendments that are a tangent and a distraction from what we’re talking about, you all are white males, you never lived in my shoes and you do not know what it’s like to be an African American male. … If you are opposed to this legislation, let’s just have a vote. But please don’t come in here and make a mockery of the pain that exists in my community. Gaetz, who doesn’t have an iota of decency in his privileged white body, leapt up and berated Richmond. It didn’t work. But one statement Gaetz made before being dragged from the floor kicking and screaming, er, being gaveled into silence, was this: Are you suggesting that you’re certain that none of us have nonwhite children? Richmond refused to take the bait, and eventuallly Gaetz returned to sulky silence and absent-minded crotch scratching. But the next day, something unexpected happened. Gaetz, who is 38, unmarried, and has never once spoken about family other than his parents and siblings, took to Twitter to announce that he…wait for it…has a son! He is the father of a proud baby boy…wait a minute…a proud teenager, my bad, named Nestor, who came over, quite legally, Gaetz assures us, from Cuba six years ago when he was 12. And Gaetz has been his proud daddy ever since. For all those wondering, this is my son Nestor. We share no blood but he is my life. He came from Cuba (legally, of course) six years ago and lives with me in Florida. I am so proud of him and raising him has been the best, most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life. — Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) June 18, 2020 Um…wut? Gaetz suddenly has a son? For how many years? He admits that the young man in question, Nestor Galban, isn’t related to him, and he […]

The Talk: Part II

It is a tragic, embarrassing, unnecessary part of American life.  You moderately well dressed, privileged 17 year old white kid like me gets his license, hops into the family car, and cruises around looking to pick up girls and get laid. A moderately well dressed, normal looking 17 year old black teen gets his license, proudly comes home, and is sat down at the kitchen table by his mother, father, grandmother or father, whomever his family authority family figure is for The Talk. The Talk is a primer created solely for one purpose, to keep young African Americans from becoming tragic statistics because a brake light was out, or a turn signal malfunctioned. Always refer to the officer as “Sir.” Keep your hands in plain sight. Obey every instruction. Don’t be a smart ass if you have friends with you. Don’t make any sudden movements or motions. Don’t raise your voice.  And above all else, do whatever you have to do to come home again after the stop. In his iconic, muckraking political bombshell book, Boss: Mayor Richard J Daley of Chicago, legendary Chicago political reporter Mike Royko laid out two short vignettes about black and white life in Chicago when it came to the police. As many times as I’ve read and reread the book, these have stayed with me through all of these years, and I think they have a purpose in the current conversation, so I’d like to share them with you. The first was direct and to the point, when Royko wrote that There was a vast difference between an Irishman coming to Chicago, many of whom went on the police force on their first day in town, and a black man from Atlanta coming to Chicago to visit family, many of whom were thrown into a cell in their first day in town. Paints quite the stark picture, doesn’t it, possible sarcasm included? The second one dealt with Chicago cops tactics when stopping a white motorist, Unlike with minorities, the cop had to be careful how he treated you. If you were young, acceptably dressed, and well spoken, the cop had no way of knowing what, were you maybe the nephew of an Alderman, in which case you could beat him over the head with his own bully club without a whimper of protest. Ah,m the layered approach to white privilege. Not only were you white, but who knew what kind of influential white people you knew? The reason I bring these things up is that things are changing with lightening speed when it comes to the area of white men policing black Americans, and there may be an unexpected consequence to at least one of the more popular flash reforms being bandied about and in some cases already applied by cities and departments. You already know I come from a cop family, with outstanding bullshit stories. But wrapped around the bullshit stories is one inviolate rule. Your partner is your life. Even if a gun is never drawn, cops are going to go through doors, into unknown situations that can morph and escalate quickly. And a cop, any cop, has to have 100%  faith in his partner before they go through that door. Anything less could lead to hesitation and second guessing, which could be fatal. Pressure begets pressure. And increased pressure begets power. In the 23 days of active, massive protests since the police […]

Uh oh. Trump Gets Cold Feet and Cancels Juneteenth MAGA Rally

Stephen Miller must be tearing out his remaining strands of hair and pounding on the walls. Trump’s return to MAGA rallies was set to kick off with a night in Tulsa on June 19, Emancipation Day. The racist implications of this have had pundits doing flip flops for the past week. But Trump is at his golf club in New Jersey tonight, tweeting, and this is what just came down. We had previously scheduled our #MAGA Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for June 19th – a big deal. Unfortunately, however, this would fall on the Juneteenth Holiday. Many of my African American friends and supporters have reached out to suggest that we consider changing the date out… — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2020 …We have already had ticket requests in excess of 200,000 people. I look forward to seeing everyone in Oklahoma! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2020 My best speculation is that Stephen Miller put this together, because what a terrific racist statement to make, nudge nudge wink wink, and then somebody actually explained to Trump what happened in Tulsa in 1921 and how abysmally the optics would play if he went through with this plan. The destruction of the Greenwood section of Tulsa was the the worst episode of racial violence ever seen in the country to that time and frankly, ever since as well. Is it possible Trump will change the date of the RNC acceptance speech, set for the 60th anniversary of Ax Handle Sunday in Jacksonville, Florida? That was doubtlessly Stephen Miller’s work as well, and every bit as tone deaf and awful as the Juneteenth rally date. Is Miller on the way out? He used to be good buds with Jared Kushner, surprisingly, the Nazi and the Jew. Maybe Kushner is playing palace intrigue and offing Miller to save daddy-in-law. Who knows? Trump world is imploding and maybe the crown prince is trying to save the day. Anything is possible.  

George Floyd’s Death Was an Act of Cowardice for Personal Motives

Everything I know about police, criminals, etc does not come from Law and Order — which is actually a good thing, as it turns out. One thing I know from experience: most murders have a personal component. And it seems that may be the case with Derek Chauvin and his choice to murder George Floyd. Chauvin worked as security for a bar in Minneapolis, El Nuevo Rodeo, where Floyd worked as a bouncer. The building owner, Maya Santamaria, recalled: “Chauvin was our off-duty police for almost the entirety of the 17 years that we were open. … They were working together at the same time — it’s just that Chauvin worked outside and the security guards were inside.” Interestingly, the bar employee who first spoke about Floyd and Chauvin “bump[ing] heads” during their time working together, David Pinney, has now changed his story, saying that Chauvin had a conflict with a different African-American employee, not Floyd. Pinney originally described himself as very close to Floyd: “Like, I see him like a brother.” He said: “I can relate to George, how he felt. And I think that’s what makes that personal bond between him and I, dealing with Derek.” Apparently that brotherly relatioship has changed in the last few days. I’ll be curious as to what Pinney testifies to under oath. Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s younger brother, agreed with Pinney’s earlier characterization. In testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, Floyd said: “[Chauvin] killed my brother just because he didn’t like him, and it has to be racist. It has to be something to do with racism.” He went on to say: He gave the little that he had to help others. He was our gentle giant. I was reminded of that when I watched the video of his murder. He was mild mannered; he didn’t fight back. He listened to the officers. He called them “sir.” The men who took his life, who suffocated him for eight minutes and 46 seconds. He still called them “sir” as he begged for his life. A.J. Jaurequi, a club promoter in the area, wondered if Floyd and Chauvine “had some beef with each other, because it’s odd that you’d treat someone you knew like that.” Originally, Pinney told CBS News that Floyd and Chauvin knew each other “pretty well,” a view somewhat corroborated by Santamaria. She steered CBS towards Pinney because, Pinney later told CBS, “she was unable to give detail information about George because she did not have a close relationship with him as I did.” That led to his supposed mistake in misidentifying Floyd. Pinney stands by his characterization that Chauvin was “extremely aggressive within the club.” On June 6, five days before Pinney made his retraction, he did a nearly hour-long interview with CBS, where he went into detail about the relationship between Floyd and Chauvin. “Is there any doubt in your mind that Derek Chauvin knew George Floyd?” the reporter asked. Pinney replied, “No. He knew him … I would say pretty well.” He added: “I knew George on a work basis. We were pretty close. When it came to our security positions, he was in charge and I worked directly below him as a security adviser.” Pinney contrasted Floyd with Chauvin. Floyd, he said, “was good at talking with people and establishing himself. […]

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