Race

Justice Served

It has been two and a half years since Walter Scott’s death.  I wrote about it here… but basically, he was running from a cop and was shot IN THE BACK AS HE WAS RUNNING AWAY.  The video makes this crystal clear:

Well, good news:

Michael Slager, the former South Carolina police officer who shot and killed Walter Scott, was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in federal prison, a decision the Scott family said gave it a “sense of justice.”

“This is an historic day for civil rights, in particular for officer-involved shootings,” said Chris Stewart, one of the Scott family’s attorneys, at a press conference following the sentencing.

US District Court Judge David Norton made his decision after hearing emotional statements from members of both families. Norton earlier Thursday had said the “appropriate underlying offense” for Slager, who is white, was second-degree murder.

Scott’s family has repeatedly expressed forgiveness to Slager, who said that he was thankful for that. But the victim’s relatives were glad to see the officer held accountable.

“We are hurt,” said Anthony Scott, Walter’s brother, “and we do have some type of passion for the Slager family, in that they have to suffer as well. And we do forgive Michael Slager for what he did. But yes, we did want justice for my brother, and we feel that we have gotten a sense of justice.”

Slager pleaded guilty in May to violation of civil rights by acting under the color of law in Scott’s April 2015 killing. Slager’s 2016 state murder trial ended in a mistrial.

At the time of the shooting, Scott was only the latest black man to be killed in a series of controversial officer-involved shootings that prompted “Black Lives Matter” protests and vigils.

In related news, another cop gets away with murder:

Police in Mesa, Arizona released disturbing body camera video on Thursday hours after a former officer was acquitted of a murder charge in the fatal shooting of an unarmed man.

The verdict cleared Philip Brailsford, 27, of criminal liability in the 2016 death of Daniel Shaver, of Granbury, Texas. He was also found not guilty of reckless manslaughter, reports CBS Phoenix affiliate KPHO-TV.

The shooting occurred at a hotel in the Phoenix suburb where officers responded to a report of someone pointing a gun out of a window. The video, obtained by KPHO, shows Brailsford pointing a gun at Shaver as Shaver lies on the ground, holds his hands in the air, cries and begs the officer not to shoot.

Check out this video. If the jurors got this right, then the law is messed up.

In Fairness, It Is Hard To Keep All These Mass Shootings Straight

This week saw another mass shooting, this time in Northern California (4 dead, shooter killed — UPDATE: 5 dead — they found his wife’s bodied hidden in his house).

Trump, returning from his Asia stint, tweeted this in response late last night:

Unfortunately, the Sutherland Springs Texas shooting was LAST week’s mass shooting.  He deleted the above tweet, although it does look remarkably like a tweet he sent out on November 5:

Embarrassing.

It actually wasn’t the only embarrassing tweet from Trump in the past 12 hours.  There was another one.  First, the backstory. Three UCLA basketball players were arrested in China for shoplifting last week. When Trump was in China, he asked President Xi to intervene. The three basketball players, all black, are coming back to America.  And Trump tweeted this about an hour ago:

WHO DOES THIS?  It is almost as if he is being critical of them, expecting them not to be thankful. I’m sure they are.

I have no doubt that if the three student athletes were white, he would not have tweeted this. This is Trump signaling his supporters that black people are ungrateful, and should be grateful.  It’s disgusting.

Trump: Blaming The Victim

This is outright inhumane:

Trump is laying the groundwork for abandoning Puerto Rico, and blaming it for its infrastructure problems that existed pre-hurricane. Lost in his “analysis” is that the people suffering there (still no power or clean water on most of the Island) are AMERICANS.

If Bush was negligent with Katrina response, Trump is being outright punishing.

According to some sources, there are now 117 people listed missing in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria struck the island on Sept. 20. (I’m trying to verify)

San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz — who hasn’t been shy about calling out the President for the federal response to the devastation in Puerto Rico, which she thinks has been inadequate — pushed back.

She called his comments “unbecoming” of a commander-in-chief and said they seem “more to come from a ‘Hater in Chief.’”

He really is a hater.  This is proof.  This has little to do with the fact that Puerto Rico is a territory, not a state, and everything to do with the fact that the people there are Latino.

UPDATE:  More words from the San Juan Mayor — scathing:

And for comparison:

And the White House contradicts Trump:

Asked for a response to Trump’s remarks, the White House later said it was “committed to helping Puerto Rico” and working with local leaders and Congress “to identify the best fiscally responsible path forward.”

“Successful recoveries do not last forever; they should be as swift as possible to help people resume their normal lives,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly reiterated during a Thursday news briefing that the Trump administration would “stand with those American citizens in Puerto Rico until the job is done.”

Why Is Trump Tweeting About The NFL?

Thursday night in Alabama, at a rally, Trump went off on a tangent about the NFL and its bad ratings and how players who refused to stand for the national anthem (i.e., Colin Kaepernick) should be fired by the owners.  This got cheers from the Alabamians, because they are Alabamians.  And it made headlines on Friday (since he never says anything of substance), so Trump doubled down this weekend.  And tripled down.  And 4X downed. Etc.  Here’s SOME of those tweets, which are continuing into this morning:

For its part, the NFL stood united. For the Sunday games, many owners released statements supporting their players’ right to protest.  And of course, there was kneeling.  Players kneeled.  An owner kneeled.  A singer of the National Anthem kneeled on the last line.  Many in the crowds kneeled or stayed seated.  Some booed.  Others cheered.  Some teams, rather than take part in a political spectacle, decided to stay in the locker room during the anthem.  Players who didn’t kneel locked arms with those who did, in a sign of solidarity (including Trump’s friend, Tom Brady).

All-in-all, there was significant pushback.  And what was once a smattering of kneels became an overwhelming number of them. Trump seemed please with those who booed.

Later, many players spoke out.  They spoke of being “disappointed” or “disheartened”. A Seattle Seahawks wide receiver minced no words:

Trump does not seem to understand (or care) why some players had been choosing to kneel in the first place.  It is not a stand against American ideals, the flag, or the Anthem.  It is that the American ideals symbolized by the flag and the Anthem are not being applied to all of America’s citizens — black people in particular.

And now Trump is creating  fight, challenging the patriotism of those who kneel. Trump is making clear his moral priorities. He is infinitely more offended by the sight of a black ballplayer quietly, peacefully protesting racism in the United States than he is by racism itself.

The question is why, e.g., why would Trump continue to poke at the players and, as he did Sunday night, call for the NFL to change its policies to ban any sort of protests surrounding the anthem?

The most basic (and right) answer is because he knows that, for his base, this fight is a winner for him. Specifically:

1. The players are rich. Remember that Trump, despite being a billionaire, sees himself (and is regarded) as the voice of the Average Joe. And he knows that lots of Average Joes resent how much money these players make for playing a game.

2. The players are playing a game. Spend 10 minutes talking about football (or any pro sport) with a group of people, and I guarantee that you will hear someone (if not several) say something like: “Man, they get to play a game for their job. I’d do that for free.” (Obviously points No. 1 and No. 2 are closely tied.)

3. The players are (mostly) black. Trump insisted on Sunday night that “this has nothing to do with race.” But that simply doesn’t fly. The vast majority of the players in the NFL are black. Ditto the players in the NBA, whom Trump also went after over the weekend. Trump knows that. And he also knows that when he uses phrases such as “our heritage” to describe what’s allegedly under assault in the anthem protests, many of his supporters see that in racial terms. You don’t simply get to repeatedly flick at racial animus — in the campaign and as President — and then plead total innocence when those code words trigger a reaction.

4. Trump can paint this as a battle for patriotism. The anthem protest was begun last year by then-San Francisco 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who cited concerns about the deaths of African-American men at the hands of police as the motivation for his stance. Trump has seized on the protests as some sort of slap in the face to the military, which it’s not. By painting the players as insufficiently loyal to the country, Trump can make an appeal to patriotism — a powerful emotion not just in his base but in the country.

It certainly does not appear to be working. Yes, maybe it pleases his base, but most people recognize it as being divisive, even if they disagree with the protests. It is stirring a hornet’s nest, plain and simple.

Others are wondering about his priorities. Days after Maria struck, Puerto Rico remains crippled by widespread destruction and catastrophic flooding. Villages were razed and communications ruined, leaving officials unable to tally an accurate toll of the death and devastation. Power is out, and restoration of the electrical grid may take months, not weeks. A dam was compromised, threatening major flooding and a loss of drinking water.

There is no food.

There is no agriculture.

Although Puerto Rico cannot vote for president and has no voting representatives in Congress, its citizens are entitled to the same federal emergency funds and resources that Washington has been funneling to the far more politically powerful and economically resilient states of Texas and Florida in their hurricane miseries.

The same holds true for the US Virgin Islands.

Yet Trump has said (or tweeted) nothing these past few days on the subject.  Instead, he throws oil on the fire of an already too-polarized country.  It’s difficult to see the benefit in rending this country apart in a culture war.  But apparently the White House sees this as good.

Clearly, this is why Russia wanted him to be president – to start wars in his own country.

FLASHBACK: From an owner of the USFL football team in Tampa Bay:

UPDATE:  Conservatives, republicans and old white people have Trump’s back, but all told, only 38% agree with Trump

UPDATE: Props to Greg Popovich, head coach for the Spurs (basketball) for saying this at NBA Media Day:

Verdict in on Philando Castile Killing

Remember this? I wrote about it last year.

A Minnesota jury has reached a verdict in the manslaughter trial of Jeronimo Yanez, the officer who fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop last year.  Yanez is on trial for one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of intentional discharge of firearm that endangers safety because Castile’s girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter were also in the car.

Announcement soon.

UPDATE: NOT GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS

Of course.

Who’s Sorry Now?

On July 25, 2015, Joe Torres and Kayla Norton, joined about a dozen other people in a convoy of pickup trucks waving large Confederate flags as they drove around Douglas County, a suburban Atlanta community. Most of them belonged to a group called “Respect the Flag.”

This was only a few weeks after Dylann Roof attended a prayer service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, then shot and killed nine people, all African Americans.

The convoy of trucks passed by the victim’s residence where the victims were grilling hot dogs and hamburgers while hosting a child’s birthday party featuring a bouncy castle, snow-cone machines, and a DJ.  They yelled racial slurs.

The drivers parked the trucks near the house and the slurs continued. Torres retrieved a shotgun from his vehicle, pointed his shotgun at the group of African American party-goers and stated he was going to kill them while his friends stated that “the little ones can get one too,” referring to the young children at the party.

Norton was accused of making similar threats. The victims said some member of Torres’ group was armed with a knife and a tire tool.

Most of the group was arrested and made some sort of plea deal.  But Torres and Norton were sentenced yesterday. Torres was sentenced to 20 years, with 13 years in prison, after a jury convicted him on three counts of aggravated assault, one count of making terroristic threats and one count of violating of Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act.  Kayla Norton was sentenced to 15 years, with six years in prison. She was convicted on one count of making terroristic threats and one count of violation of the Street Gang Act.

Look how sad they are.

I suspect they weren’t sad until they actually got caught.

At the sentencing hearing, Kayla Norton apologized for her role in the incident saying, “I want you all to know that is not me. That is not me, that is not him. I would never walk up to you and say those words to you. I’m so sorry that happened to you. I am so sorry.”

The problem is that she did walk up and say those words.

Oh well. No sympathy here. Actions have consequences.  I’m sure they will make many friends among the mixed-race populations in prison.

Walter Scott Follow-Up

It has been a year and a half since Walter Scott’s death.  I wrote about it here… but basically, he was running from a cop and was shot IN THE BACK As HE WAS RUNNING AWAY.  The video makes this crystal clear:

There’s even indication that the cop planted evidence on/near the body.  Yes,. look at the video.

So what happened at trial?

But despite an unarmed victim, forensics proving he was shot multiple times in the back, a police officer who made a false report, and clear video showing the entire debacle, Slager was not convicted of murder or manslaughter in his trial this week. A lone juror spared him that fate with a refusal to convict. That triggered a mistrial.

Something is horribly wrong with the system.

Fortunately, the prosecutor will retry the case.  Again.  For the THIRD time.

Even operating under a standard in which police officers get the benefit of every reasonable doubt, it seems hard to understand why the cops involved wouldn’t have been convicted of manslaughter. The fact that neither was convicted is the latest evidence that the system as it now exists does not reliably punish cops for even egregious killings.

The policy debate around policing has lately focused on the tactics and rhetoric of Black Lives Matter (while mostly ignoring its excellent Campaign Zero roadmap for policy reform). Whatever conservatives think of Black Lives Matter, it is long past time that more of them join with libertarians and liberals in an effort to address this problem: Armed agents of the state are killing American citizens at rates far higher than other developed countries, and even when videos show them killing unarmed individuals, some are somehow getting away with it.

A Win Against The Pipeline

In a rare win for progressives, the Secretary of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reportedly told Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Archambault that the current route for the Dakota Access pipeline will be denied.

According to MSNBC, the Corps of Engineers will conduct an environmental study to see how the pipeline can be rerouted to lessen any potential environmental impact. However, the pipeline will not cross the Missouri River under Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Reservation.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell released a statement Sunday afternoon in support of the decision.

“The thoughtful approach established by the Army today ensures that there will be an in-depth evaluation of alternative routes for the pipeline and a closer look at potential impacts, as envisioned by NEPA,” Jewell said in the statement.

“The Army’s announcement underscores that tribal rights reserved in treaties and federal law, as well as Nation-to-Nation consultation with tribal leaders, are essential components of the analysis to be undertaken in the environmental impact statement going forward.”

The protesters had been facing a Monday deadline to vacate their encampment near Cannon Ball, ND.

“We will not fight tonight, we will dance!” Rami Bald Eagle, Cheyenne River Lakota Tribal Leader shared the great news, with much celebration breaking out among the people.

Thousands of U.S. Veterans have boots on the ground at the Standing Rock Protest, many more than expected. Tim King, former editor of Salem-News.com, is there and heard the announcement.

U.S. military Veterans have been standing “out front” for a couple of days with more of their brothers and sisters-in-arms arriving daily. No, they do not have weapons.

The bitter cold has not chilled the passion behind stopping the pipeline. The many members of “Veterans Stand for Standing Rock,” brought supplies such as gas masks, earplugs and body armor, to stand firm as a unit to protect protesters from the police and their rubber bullets.

But instead, tonight they dance. It looks like the Americans have won, after all.

Standing Rock Sioux Chairman David Archambault II reacted to the announcement, calling it a sign that President Barack Obama “is listening.”

“We are encouraged and know that the peaceful prayer and demonstration at Standing Rock have powerfully brought to light the unjust narrative suffered by tribal nations and Native Americans across the country,” Archambault said. “We call on all water protectors, as we have from the beginning, to join our voices in prayer and to share our opposition to this pipeline peacefully. The whole world is watching and where they see prayerful, peaceful resistance, they join us.”

Water protectors have been camped out near the construction site of the pipeline since April and have dogged the pipeline work at every step. More than 400 people have been arrested as they stood their ground against pepper spray, mace, rubber bullets and sound cannons, among other violent methods.

She Seems Nice

Trump voter going on a tirade

This incident is the just the latest in a recent spate of obscene and racist tirades by Trump supporters. Last week a Trump fan abused black employees of a Miami Starbucks and over the weekend a viral video showed a Delta Airlines passenger screaming about “Hillary bitches.” Yesterday Delta apologized for not removing the man. Also this weekend a Colorado home supply store fired its manager for calling a customer a “faggot who voted for Hillary.”

Does Korematsu Provide Precedent For A Muslim Registry?

No.

No, it doesn’t.  Not even a close call.

Let’s just all get on the same page.

This is happening:

And the obvious question is…. would it be constitutional for the government to require citizens to register based on their religion?

The OBVIOUS answer should be NO, and the reason most people instinctively know it would be unconstitutional is to do a thought experiment: substitute “Christian” for “Muslim” and see how that flies.

I’m going to set aside the obvious invidiousness of the proposed registry, as well as the obvious difficulties in enforcing registration.  Instead, I’m just going to focus on Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944), the case that Trump surrogates are citing as “precedent”.

Korematsu was the case involving Japanese-American internment during World War II.  Roosevelt ordered that George Takei and his family and other Japanese-Americans leave their jobs, friends, businesses, etc. and report to “camps” for the duration of the war.  These were American citizens, living on the West Coast, of Japanese descent.  It came about as the result of a presidential executive order — Executive Order No. 9066 to be exact.

Fred Korematsu was born in Oakland, California, in 1919, the third of four sons to Japanese parents Kotsui Aoki and Kakusaburo Korematsu who immigrated to the United States in 1905.  When the internment order came down, he refused to comply and went into hiding in the Oakland area. He was arrested on a street corner in San Leandro on May 30, 1942, after being recognized as a “Jap”.  He was tried and convicted of violation of a military order – specifically, the military order for internment given under the authority of Executive Order 9066.

That military and executive orders were challenged and the US Supreme Court upheld the internment of Japanese-Americans, with three dissents.

Korematsu is still good law, so I revisited it. Why did the Supreme Court find such an order to be constitutionally valid?

One reason was precedent.  One year earlier, in a case called Hirabayashi v. United States, the Supreme Court upheld a curfew which applied only to the Japanese.

But addressing the race issue, the majority wrote only this:

It is said that we are dealing here with the case of imprisonment of a citizen in a concentration camp solely because of his ancestry, without evidence or inquiry concerning his loyalty and good disposition towards the United States. Our task would be simple, our duty clear, were this a case involving the imprisonment of a loyal citizen in a concentration camp because of racial prejudice. Regardless of the true nature of the assembly and relocation centers — and we deem it unjustifiable to call them concentration camps, with all the ugly connotations that term implies — we are dealing specifically with nothing but an exclusion order. To cast this case into outlines of racial prejudice, without reference to the real military dangers which were presented, merely confuses the issue. Korematsu was not excluded from the Military Area because of hostility to him or his race. He was excluded because we are at war with the Japanese Empire, because the properly constituted military authorities feared an invasion of our West Coast and felt constrained to take proper security measures, because they decided that the military urgency of the situation demanded that all citizens of Japanese ancestry be segregated from the West Coast temporarily, and, finally, because Congress, reposing its confidence in this time of war in our military leaders — as inevitably it must — determined that they should have the power to do just this. There was evidence of disloyalty on the part of some, the military authorities considered that the need for action was great, and time was short. We cannot — by availing ourselves of the calm perspective of hindsight — now say that, at that time, these actions were unjustified.

Basically, they are saying — “we’re at war”.

The dissent by Justice Roberts was having none of it:

This is not a case of keeping people off the streets at night, as was Hirabayashi v. United States,320 U. S. 81, nor a case of temporary exclusion of a citizen from an area for his own safety or that of the community, nor a case of offering him an opportunity to go temporarily out of an area where his presence might cause danger to himself or to his fellows. On the contrary, it is the case of convicting a citizen as a punishment for not submitting to imprisonment in a concentration camp, based on his ancestry, and solely because of his ancestry, without evidence or inquiry concerning his loyalty and good disposition towards the United States. If this be a correct statement of the facts disclosed by this record, and facts of which we take judicial notice, I need hardly labor the conclusion that Constitutional rights have been violated.

And that is essentially the difference.  We’re not at war with the Muslims — there has been no declaration of Congress to that effect.  Furthermore, there is no “military urgency” now like there was following the bombing of Pearl Harbor (it is more than 15 years after 9/11).  Two good reasons right there.

Then you have something that you didn’t have in Korematsu, which was a case about heritage.  The proposed Muslim ban isn’t about heritage; it is about religion.  “Muslim”, after all, simply means an adherent to the religion of Islam.  Islam knows no national origin or skin color.  Cassius Clay, a black American, didn’t come from another country.  Yet he was a Muslim (which he became Muhammad Ali).

So if this is registry of religious beliefs, — welcome First Amendment.

There’s simply on way in hell this Supreme Court would be cool with registering Muslims.  It would be unanimously shot down, even without overturning Korematsu.

In fact, that would be a nice way to start the Trump presidency.  With a 8-0 loss in the Supreme Court.

What Happened In Charlotte Last Night

The Guardian’s Ijeoma Oluo wrote about the events of the night (you need to click through to see the photo described below):

A line of police officers stand in the dark on a Charlotte, North Carolina, highway. They look like an occupying force with their helmets and face shields and various weaponry strapped all over their armored clothing. A large bus illuminates them with its headlights. The front of the bus declares in bright lights: “NOT IN SERVICE”.

It’s as if these police responding to protests of Tuesday’s shooting death of Keith Scott are carrying with them a lighted banner that declares what black Americans already know: they are not in service. Not for us.

It’s the message that police have always been sending black Americans. Blacks make up about 13% of the US population, and yet accounted for 27% of the approximately 1,146 people killed by police in 2015. “Not in service” is the message we got when Tamir Rice was killed, when Freddie Gray was killed, when Eric Garner was killed. This was the message we got when Terence Crutcher was killed this week while asking for service. We understand that if our police force really does exist to protect and serve, it does not exist to protect and serve us.

From what I saw (on national TV) last night, and from reports of friends who were there, the Charlotte police got rambo’ed up too quickly last evening, getting in riot gear long before there were signs of violence and destruction.  While this had the effect of dispersing the more gentle elements of the remaining protesters, it predictably agitated others, turning them into… well… agitators.

I don’t condone or excuse those who destroyed property or threw tear gas back at police.  I am also sympathetic to those police injured last night.  But the key word in the previous paragraph is “predictably”.  The police knew, or should have known, that their show of force and resoluteness would bring about what eventually happened.

The job of police, both as an individual and as a force, is to DE-escalate dangerous or potentially dangerous situations.  Something about their training (at least for some of them) has failed to stress that, and instead, it is about escalation.  With predictable results.

I think they are continuing this mistake with the curfew and declaration of a state emergency (bringing in the National Guard).  A return to normalcy is what is needed.  The mayor and the police are not signaling a return to normalcy with these actions.  I don’t know what will happen tonight, but I don’t expect it to have calmed down in the face of this overdone “response”.

The Clinton “Alt-Right” Speech

Some people are saying this is the best speech of her campaign so far, as she finally takes off the gloves and calls Trump racist (in so many words)

The response has been generally good on the left, although many would point out that the GOP was basically racist, and Clinton should have called out the whole damn party.  I think that the GOP has been complicit in racism by being silent about its more extreme members who clearly cater to that disgusting sentiment.  I’m not sure that amounts to racism, but perhaps so.

After all, let’s look at a timely news item coming out of West Virginia — something embarrassing for WV’s Attorney General:

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey fired a spokeswoman Thursday, after it was revealed that she took part in a video called “The Stop White Genocide Video” that recites slogans of white supremacists.

Carrie Bowe, who was Morrisey’s assistant communications director, appears throughout the video, speaking about white genocide, a white nationalist conspiracy theory that alleges immigration and integration will cause whites to become extinct.

The YouTube video, first uploaded in December 2012 by someone with the screen name of “Johnny Mantraseed,” boasts that it was banned in 18 countries and was once removed from YouTube. It was re-posted to YouTube in 2013 and has been viewed more than 260,000 times.

Throughout the video, Bowe, who started working for Morrisey in January 2015, repeatedly states, “Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white,” a phrase coined by well-known white supremacist Bob Whitaker, who lives in Charleston, South Carolina.

She has since taken to Facebook (of course) to say she had no idea what the final video would look like, as if that somehow excuses her for saying the following on video:

“If I tell you the ongoing truth about genocide against my race, the white race, liberals and ‘respectable conservatives’ agree that I’m a Nazi that wants to kill 6 million Jews,” Bowe says.

Bowe also says white children in schools are being misled.

“Throughout elementary school, junior high, high school and college, I was told that my race, the white race, was the cause of all the world’s problems,” Bowe says in the video. “Now, many of you have jobs where minorities say things that would get you as a white person instantly fired.”

The four women ask viewers to “recite The Mantra,” a series of phrases embraced by segregationists.

“Asia for the Asians, Africa for the Africans, white countries for everybody,” another women in the video says, the first phrase of “The Mantra.”

Here’s my favorite part:

Bowe, who made $40,000 as a Morrisey aide, served as his acting press secretary in September 2015. She also helped manage his field office staff members.

Before Morrisey hired her, she was member relations director with the conservative Family Policy Council of West Virginia.

That’s the state level version of the Family Research Council.

The conservative Family Policy Council of West Virginia is asking Wheeling leaders to release any and all documentation of the proposed protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents with a Freedom of Information Act request.

The request states that any such ordinance would elevate “changeable” sexual behavior to a special level of legal protection. The Charleston-based council’s president, Allen Whitt, said this ordinance has already likely been drafted under residents’ noses, despite Mayor Glenn Elliott assuring no such legislation is anywhere near a draft, let alone fully realized.

“That is misinformation. It is untruth,” Whitt said. “Their position is to pass a city ordinance. We’ve seen this multiple times. That’s a straight up lie.”

The council describes itself as a “leading conservative policy group championing social issues,” such as religious freedom.

If you were to say there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between alt-right, the klan, and good old fashioned “family values” conservatism, I don’t think many could refute that outright.

In any event, Clinton was obviously trying to woo moderate Republicans who cannot identify with Trump’s blatant racism, so she wasn’t prepared to go that far.

And Clinton’s speech has sent Trump into a fit (“no, CLINTON is the REAL racist!”).

Unfortunately, CNN is chastising both candidates for getting into the mud.  The problem with “both sides do it” of journalistic equality is that one side actually has a basis for doing it.

Maine Governor Paul LePage (R) Doesn’t Like Being Called A Racist… But He Is

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) left a threatening voicemail for a Democratic state lawmaker on Thursday, using obscene language and challenging the lawmaker toprove the governor is racist.

LePage believed that state Rep. Drew Gattine (D) accused him of being racist after the governor said he kept a binder full of drug traffickers arrested in Maine and that more than 90 percent of them were black or Hispanic. In an interview with the Portland Press Herald, Gattine denied he had made the claim.

In the voicemail, obtained by the Press Herald, LePage directed several obscenities toward Gattine.

“Mr. Gattine, this is Governor Paul Richard LePage. I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you cocksucker,” LePage said. “I want to talk to you. I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people and you little son-of-a-bitch, socialist cocksucker. You, I need you to, just freakin’, I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you.”

Listen for yourself:

That’s….. not…. good.

In January, LePage said men with names like “D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty” were dealing drugs in Maine and impregnating white women. Earlier this week, he said the binder he kept proved he isn’t racist because it supported his statements about the racial makeup of the traffickers.

LePage released a statement today, saying he was angry and apologizing for his language.

“When someone calls me a racist, I take it very seriously. I didn’t know Drew Gattine from a hole in the wall until yesterday. It made me enormously angry when a TV reporter asked me for my reaction about Gattine calling me a racist. It is the absolute worst, most vile thing you can call a person,” he said. “So I called Gattine and used the worst word I could think of. I apologize for that to the people of Maine, but I make no apology for trying to end the drug epidemic that is ravaging our state.”

The governor also said that he never intended to harm Gattine.

“When I said I was going after Gattine, I meant I would do everything I could to see that he and his agenda is defeated politically. I am a history buff, and I referenced how political opponents used to call each other out in the 1820s — including Andrew Jackson, the father of the Democratic Party. Obviously, it is illegal today; it was simply a metaphor and I meant no physical harm to Gattine,” he said.

Gattine did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on the incident, but he told the Press Herald that LePage’s voicemail was “inappropriate and uncalled for.”

“What I said to the television reporter today is that the kind of racially charged comments the governor made are not at all helpful in solving what the real problem is,” Gattine told the Press Herald. “And that is, we have a crisis in the state of Maine of people overdosing on heroin and prescription drugs and we are not doing enough with respect to treatment and prevention.”

After leaving the voicemail, LePage publicly attacked Gattine and invited a television crew and Press Herald reporter for an interview in which he said he wished he could duel Gattine.

“When a snot-nosed little guy from Westbrook calls me a racist, now I’d like him to come up here because, tell you right now, I wish it were 1825,” he said, according to the Press Herald. “And we would have a duel, that’s how angry I am, and I would not put my gun in the air, I guarantee you, I would not be (Alexander) Hamilton. I would point it right between his eyes, because he is a snot-nosed little runt and he has not done a damn thing since he’s been in this Legislature to help move the state forward.”

LePage and Gattine have clashed on a number of issues, according to the Press Herald, including the governor’s effort to get rid of food stamps in his state.

Gattine wasn’t the only target of LePage this week. On Wednesday, he called Khizr Khan, the father of a killed American soldier, a “con artist” for criticizing GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Breaking: 4th Circuit Overturns Lower Court; Finds That GOP “Intentionally” Passed “Discriminatory” Voting Rights Law

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit invalidated North Carolina’s stringent new voting restrictions, holding that the law violates both the United States Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. The North Carolina measure, the Fourth Circuit held, has a discriminatory impact on black voters, impermissibly burdening their voting rights under the VRA. More boldly, the court also held that the law was enacted with discriminatory intent, designed by the Republican legislature to curb black voting rights in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. This dual finding of discriminatory impact and intent makes the Fourth Circuit’s decision the boldest judicial rejection of voting restrictions in years.

As the court explains, North Carolina passed its omnibus voting bill, SL 2013-381, almost immediately after the Supreme Court freed the state’s voting laws from federal “preclearance”—meaning that after nearly 50 years under supervision, the state was finally free to change voting laws without federal oversight. The legislature promptly “requested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices.” And “upon receipt of the race data, the General Assembly enacted legislation that restricted voting and registration in five different ways, all of which disproportionately affected black voters.” The new law created draconian requirements for valid voter ID, eliminating those IDs most commonly used by black voters; cut back early voting and killed same-day registration; eliminated preregistration for teenagers; and eliminated out-of-precinct voting for voters who accidentally showed up at the wrong precinct in the correct county.

Every single one of these restrictions disproportionately burdened black voters; indeed, as the Fourth Circuit writes, SL 2013-381 seemed to “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” (Meanwhile, there is essentially no evidence that voter fraud ever occurs in North Carolina.) The evidence that the legislature enacted SL 2013-381 for precisely this purpose—to hamper black voting rights—is almost overwhelming. Indeed, the state even acknowledged that it had eliminated one early voting day, a Sunday, because it was a traditional “souls to the polls” day, when black voters were provided transportation from church to the polls. “Counties with Sunday voting in 2014 were disproportionately black” and “disproportionately Democratic,” the legislature said—so, in response, it did away with one of two days of Sunday voting. This, the Fourth Circuit writes, is “as close to a smoking gun as we are likely to see in modern times”:

The State’s very justification for a challenged statute hinges explicitly on race—specifically its concern that African Americans, who had overwhelmingly voted for Democrats, had too much access to the franchise.

But really, the North Carolina legislature littered its voting law with almost comically obvious smoking guns. Black voters, the court explains, are also more likely to utilize same-day registration, preregistration, and out-of-precinct voting. The legislature knew this when it enacted SL 2013-381; it had “requested a racial breakdown” of different voting methods, and, as the Fourth Circuit notes, discovered:

The legislature’s racial data demonstrated that, as the district court found, “it is indisputable that African American voters disproportionately used [same-day registration] when it was available.” … [I]n-person assistance likely would disproportionately benefit African Americans. SL 2013-381 eliminated same-day registration.

And on and on it goes—each restriction, the court persuasively explains, was crafted to crack down on voting methods favored by black voters. These “seemingly irrational restrictions unrelated to the goal of combating fraud,” the Fourth Circuit writes, can only be explained by discriminatory intent. And the legislature’s highly suspect behavior in enacting SL 2013-381—rushing it through, on party lines, as soon as it was freed of federal oversight—raises serious constitutional red flags. “Indeed,” the court writes, “neither this legislature—nor, as far as we can tell, any other legislature in the Country—has ever done so much, so fast, to restrict access to the franchise.”

As a result of the law’s discriminatory intent and impact, the Fourth Circuit concludes, each of its central provisions must be invalidated under the Equal Protection Clause and the VRA.

It is a very hard rebuke to the lower court.  Now, I know Judge Schroeder, the lower court judge who found that there was no discrimination intended when North Carolina passed its new voter laws.  He is a thorough and competent judge, and certainly no racist.  But not being a Southerner, he just doesn’t see certain things which the older Southern gentlemen of the Fourth Circuit did see.  As the Fourth Circuit wrote, “the [lower] court seems to have missed the forest in carefully surveying the many trees.  This failure of perspective lef the court to ignore critical facts bearing on legislative intent, including the inextricable link between race and politics in North Carolina.”

This is a HUGE win for North Carolina (the people, not the current government) with national repercussions.

It will no doubt go to the U.S. Supreme Court, where, with a 4-4 split, it will probably be upheld.

The 83 page opinion is below:

He Did Everything Right But Got Shot Anyway

Charles Kinsey, a behavioral therapist who was trying to help an autistic patient who had wandered away from a group home, did everything right when confronted by cops with guns drawn.

Frankly, I say he should have known better than to be a behavioral therapist trying to help an autistic patient in the middle of the day like that.

Unity In Color, At Least

Salon:

At last official count, there were expected to be a total of 18 black delegates at the Republican National Convention this week. Yes, eighteen, or roughly 0.7 percent of the 2,472 national delegates in Cleveland.

***

According to the best estimate we have, the share of black delegates at this week’s GOP convention is lower than any time it has been in more than a century (and possibly even longer)—including during a dozen or so conventions that took place back when there were still legally segregated water fountains and lunch counters in our country.

Anyone surprised?

RELATED UPDATE: 

Jesus:

He Who Lives By The Sword?

You don’t want to slander the dead, but if this is true, then I suppose it wouldn’t be a slander.

What am I talking about?  An awkward but somewhat convincing article that Lorne Ahrens, one of the five Dallas cops killed last week by Micah Xavier Johnson, was a white supremacist.

Let’s be clear.  Murder is murder.  Even if Ahrens was a white supremacist, he died at the hands of a murderer.  Period.

But if true, does it not add to the dialogue about a racism problem in our police force?  Was this man a hero?  You read the article and decide for yourself.

Picture Of The Year?

“They’re not protesters. You know, these are thugs, they’re rioters.  And yeah, I’m calling out the media, saying quit claiming that these rioters are people. They’re stomping on a flag — figuratively and literally — shouting ‘death to cops’, celebrating violence.” – Sarah Palin on Black Lives Matter Protesters

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More and More, It Looks Like The Dallas Cop Killer Was A Nut

Dallas police now believe that Micah Johnson, who shot and killed 5 Dallas police following a Black Lives Matter march, was actually planning some sort of mass attack, but advanced his plans to take advantage of the BLM march. His house was full of bomb making equipment, far too much to have put together in recent days.  He had received “defensive” combat training in Dallas two years earlier.

And most troubling, writing on his wall in blood.

This man was a time bomb. It’s almost like he didn’t need a reason to go off.

Two Deadly Police Shootings In Two Days

Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was standing in the parking lot selling CDs as he had for years when two white cops arrived on Tuesday night. By Wednesday morning he was dead and protesters were in the city’s streets. Calls erupted from Congress and the NAACP for an independent investigation into the shooting, which the Justice Department announced within hours.

Abdullah Muflahi owned the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge where all this happened.  He was a friend of Sterling and allowed him to sell CDs in front of the story.  Muflahi walked out the front door when he saw the officers talking to Sterling and said there was no “altercation,” as police claimed, until the cops tasered and tackled Sterling. That’s when Muflahi took out his phone and started recording. (Warning: Graphic video)

I was on Twitter last night reading about this, and the protests, when something came across the transom.

Another shooting of a black man by cops.  A traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, near Minneapolis.  The victim’s name is Philando Castile.

The video begins after the shooting occurred and shows the man, slumped and bloodied, against the woman who was recording. Her young daughter sat in the back seat.  The video streamed live on a private Facebook account belonging to Lavish Reynolds, and the clip was passed rapidly among Twitter, Facebook and YouTube users, becoming significant news online before traditional outlets — even those in the Minneapolis area — caught up.

The woman, presumably Lavisjh Reynolds, began by calmly narrating what was happening as she trained the camera on Mr. Castile, whom she described as her boyfriend, and on at least one officer who was pointing a gun through the driver’s side window.

“Please, officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him,” she said. “You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration, sir.”

Reynold’s daughter, who was in the back seat, appears several times in the video. Near the end of the 10-minute clip, as the two are sitting in the back of a police car, she comforts her mother, saying, “It’s O.K., Mommy. It’s O.K. I’m right here with you.”

The terror in the voice of the cop is palpable, while Lavish Reynolds (at least in the beginning) is calm and reasoned.  Castile dies in the video.

Reynolds can be heard throughout the video repeating that they were stopped for a broken tail light, that the officer requested Castile’s driver license, and that Castile was shot when he went to retrieve his license for the officer. She also states on the video that he worked for St. Paul public schools and did not have a criminal record. According to Castile’s mother, he was the cafeteria supervisor at a St. Paul Montessori school.

The Minnesota governor has asked for a federal investigation into the fatal shooting of Castile.

The Washington Post is tracking the number of people killed by police in the America. There were 990 in 2015. There were 506 showing for 2016 now.  There is something terribly wrong.

And because it is a presidential campaign year, expect this: Hillary will talk about it, and Trump will use it as an excuse to pat policemen on the back.

But I suspect nothing much will happen.

Breaking: Scotus Decisions

Three big cases remain outstanding on the SCOTUS docket: one on abortion, one on immigration, and one on affirmative action.  The last one was just handed down moments ago.

FISHER v UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS

Facts of the case

In 1997, the Texas legislature enacted a law requiring the University of Texas to admit all high school seniors who ranked in the top ten percent of their high school classes. After finding differences between the racial and ethnic makeup of the university’s undergraduate population and the state’s population, the University of Texas decided to modify its race-neutral admissions policy. The new policy continued to admit all in-state students who graduated in the top ten percent of their high school classes. For the remainder of the in-state freshman class the university would consider race as a factor in admission.

Abigail N. Fisher, a Caucasian female, applied for undergraduate admission to the University of Texas in 2008. Fisher was not in the top ten percent of her class, so she competed for admission with other non-top ten percent in-state applicants. The University of Texas denied Fisher’s application.

Fisher filed suit against the university and other related defendants, claiming that the University of Texas’ use of race as a consideration in admission decisions was in violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The university argued that its use of race was a narrowly tailored means of pursuing greater diversity. The district court decided in favor of the University of Texas, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision. Fisher appealed the appellate court’s decision.

Question

Does the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment permit the consideration of race in undergraduate admissions decisions?

SCOTUS Decision

Affirmed. 4-3.

This is decidedly a compromise; Kennedy’s opinion says that UT must continue to reassess its need for any kind of race-conscious affirmative action, and that it is justified only by a robust record showing that other means of addressing diversity concerns have failed. But there is also a pretty meaningful shift away here from the trajectory of Fisher I. That case faulted the lower court for giving too much deference to the judgments of the university; this decision affirmatively states that “Considerable deference is owed to a
university in defining those intangible characteristics, like student body diversity, that are central to its identity and educational mission.”

From end of majority opinion: “The Court’s affirmance of the University’s admissions policy today does not necessarily mean the University may rely on that same policy without refinement. It is the University’s ongoing obligation to engage in constant deliberation and continued reflection regarding its admission policies.”

This is, I think, the first time Kennedy was on the pro-affirmative action side.

Strong dissent from Alito.which begins :””Something strange has happened since our prior deci­sion in this case…”.  50 page dissent is being read by Alito.

SCOTUS had the Fisher case in 2013. One suspects Roberts and Alito now wish they hadn’t punted it back to the 5th Circuit.  When Fisher I came through, this happened:

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The peanut gallery:

UNITED STATES v TEXAS

Facts of the case

In June 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, along with criteria for determining when prosecutors can choose not to enforce immigration laws under DACA. People who qualify for DACA may apply for work authorization. In 2014, DHS established a similar process for parents of citizens and lawful permanent residents as well as expanding DACA by making more people eligible. The new program was known as the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program.

Texas and other states sued to prevent the implementation of DAPA and argued that it violated the Administrative Procedure Act because it had not gone through the notice-and-comment process, and because it was arbitrary and capricious. The states also argued that DAPA violated the Take Care Clause of the Constitution, which clarifies the President’s power. The district court held that the states had standing to file the suit and temporarily enjoined the implementation of DAPA because the states had established a substantial likelihood of success on the notice-and-comment claim. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed and held that the states had standing as well as a substantial likelihood of success on their substantive and procedural claims.

Question

  1. Do states that provide subsidies to persons who are granted deferred action have standing to sue because the new guidelines will lead to more persons being eligible for deferred action?
  2. Is the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program arbitrary and capricious?
  3. Did DAPA violate the Administrative Procedure Act by failing to go through the notice-and-comment procedure?
  4. Does DAPA violate the Take Care Clause of the Constitution?

SCOTUS Decision

The per curium opinion in its entirety reads “The judgement is affirmed by an equally divided court”

This means that Texas has standing and the case can go forward.  When decisions are tied, this means that it has precedent in that circuit only and not nationwide.

While some outlets are reporting that the court’s action essentially kills the programs, it’s more accurate to say that it blocks them presently while their future remains uncertain. (It also has no effect on Obama’s original deferred action program for DREAMers announced in 2012.)

Since the split left in place a nationwide injunction that was unilaterally issued by a federal judge in the Fifth Circuit on Obama’s immigration programs—Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)—that injunction will almost certainly invite legal challenges in other circuits.

It is a loss, to be sure, but not a permanent one.

And although not one of the big three, the Dollar General case caught my eye.

DOLLAR GENERAL v MISSISSIPPI BAND OF CHOCTAW INDIANS

Samantha Bee can give the background:

Facts of the case

Dollar General Corporation (Dollar General) operates a store on land held in trust for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (Tribe). The store operates pursuant to a lease and business license agreement with the Tribe. In the spring of 2003, John Doe, a 13-year-old member of the Tribe alleged that he was sexually molested by the store manager, Dale Townsend, while he was working at the store as part of an internship program that the Tribe runs and in which the Townsend agreed to participate.

In 2005, Doe sued Townsend and Dollar General in tribal court. Both defendants moved to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and the tribal court denied the motions. The Choctaw Supreme Court upheld the denial of the motions by finding that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Montana v. United States, which allowed a tribe to regulate the activities of nonmembers who enter into a consensual arrangement with the tribe, applied in this case. The defendants then sued the Tribe in federal district court and sought injunctions to stop the suit in tribal court. The district court granted the injunction for Townsend but not for Dollar General because the company had failed to carry its burden to show that the Montana decision did not apply in this case. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed.

Question

Does a tribal court have jurisdiction to adjudicate civil tort claims against nonmembers?

SCOTUS Decision

The per curium opinion in its entirety reads “The judgement is affirmed by an equally divided court”

Meaning the child molester cannot be tried in the Indian court, but Dollar General can.

Lord Gets Served

For nearly a 20 minutes Tuesday night, CNN political commentator and Donald Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord tried to defend the presumptive GOP nominee’s racist rant against a federal judge.

It didn’t go well at all. Instead, seven other panelists raked Lord over the coals.

Asked whether he would denounce what Trump said as racism, Lord said, “It wasn’t racism. He is calling attention to racism. Hello!?”

Lord added: “If I thought he was a racist, I would not be here.”

Enjoy:

Meet Another Trump Delegate

…. with a perfectly innocent Twitter handle.

Lori Gayne

.She is Chicago mortgage banker Lori Gayne:

“With all the racism going on today, I’m very proud to be white. Just like black people are proud to be black and now, as white people, whenever we say something critical we’re punished as if we’re racists. I’m tired of it. I’m very proud,” Gayne said.

“I’m so angry I don’t even feel like I live in America. You can call me a racist. Black Lives Matter? Those people are out of control,” she said.

Gayne isn’t the first Trump delegate to embrace white power. William Johnson, a Trump delegate in California, resigned last week after Mother Jones revealed that he was the leader of the white nationalist American Freedom Party. And the anti-Muslim pastor Guy St-Onge resigned as a Trump delegate after being questioned about his views by the Guardian. The AFP now claims that it has other members who are Trump delegates but has declined to release their names.

Trump Supporters Are Really Really Ugly

On Thursday evening, New York Times Washington editor, Jonathan Weisman tweeted out a link to a Robert Kagan editorial in the Washington Post. Kagan’s editorial explained the relationship between what’s happening with Trump and fascism.

It’s a common — and common sense — argument, i.e.., that patriotism becomes nationalism becomes fascism, with the rise of a charismatic figure with no regard for laws or history, and creating an “us vs them” environment. What they have is anger, militancy, and the cult (yes, cult) following of a single strongman leader. What they have is racism, a simplistic nationalism, a concept of governing both domestically and internationally that is based on bullying and threats. What they have is the mindset of children pulling the wings from flies.

As Kagan wrote:

That this tough-guy, get-mad-and-get-even approach has gained him an increasingly large and enthusiastic following has probably surprised Trump as much as anyone else. Trump himself is simply and quite literally an egomaniac. But the phenomenon he has created and now leads has become something larger than him, and something far more dangerous.

Republican politicians marvel at how he has “tapped into” a hitherto unknown swath of the voting public. But what he has tapped into is what the founders most feared when they established the democratic republic: the popular passions unleashed, the “mobocracy.”  …

This phenomenon has arisen in other democratic and quasi-democratic countries over the past century, and it has generally been called “fascism.” Fascist movements, too, had no coherent ideology, no clear set of prescriptions for what ailed society.

So what happened?  The response that Jonathan Weisman received did nothing to dispel the connection between Trump supporters and those of earlier fascist movements.

Check out Weisman’s timeline.  I’ll put a small sample of the vileness below the fold….

Trump And “Apprentice: Race War”

Buzzfeed has the audio:

In early 2005, Donald Trump explained to radio host Howard Stern that he had considered hosting a version of his show The Apprentice pitting black contestants vs. white ones.

Trump thought the concept, which BuzzFeed News reported Thursday Trump pushed the idea on his syndicated radio show, would be the highest rated show on television.

“On The Apprentice there was a concept, okay, thrown out by some person, nine blacks against nine whites,” said Trump. “And it would be nine blacks against nine whites, all highly educated, very smart, strong, beautiful. Do you like it? Do you like it, Robin?”

“I think you’re gonna have a riot,” Stern co-host Robin Quivers said, after Stern said he liked the idea.

“It would be the highest-rated show on television,” interjected Trump.

Stern went on to ask Trump a series of questions.

“Very dark blacks, or light-skinned blacks?” Stern asked.

“Assortment,” Trump responded, “against whites.”

When a laughing Quivers asked how many blondes, Trump added he wanted all nine whites to be blonde.

“This was a thought that was given to us, and I don’t think NBC is thrilled with the idea, with the concept,” says Trump.

“Wouldn’t that set off a racial war?” asks Stern.

“Actually, I don’t think it would,” responded Trump. “I think it would be handled very beautifully by me. Because, as you know, I’m very diplomatic… Also, I think you’d have 35 million people a night watching.”

Stern said that on some level the idea was wrong, but he’d watch it. “You’d have to, because you want to know when the riots start,” Quivers said.

“There’s something wrong with it, but I don’t know, maybe we should think about it,” Trump said.

Trump’s Awkward Outreach To Hispanics

Because when one thinks of Hispanics, of course, one thinks of tacos.  That’s what their culture is all about, right?  Tacos?

The number of things wrong with this tweet is astounding.  Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday.  Taco bowls aren’t Mexican, nor is Trump Tower Grill.  And in my experience, Mexicans prefer to be called “Latinos”, not “Hispanics”.

No matter.  This isn’t an outreach to “Hispanics” anyway; it’s an outreach to Trump’s white base.  They don’t like being painted as bigots and racists by policies like “the wall” and believing that the Mexican immigrants are “rapists”,etc.  So they say, “I’m not racist!  I love tacos!”  It’s basically an affirmation to Trump’s voters that they aren’t racists.

UPDATE:  RNC Chairman Reince Priebus responds to Trump’s tweet:

“He’s trying. Honestly, he’s trying,” Priebus told Politico’s Mike Allen at a breakfast event on Friday. “I honestly think he understands that building and unifying and growing the party is the only way we’re going to win. I think he gets that.”

Yes, he’s trying not to be a bigot.

Listen, if that’s how you describe the actions of your party’s nominee, then your party has a problem.

The Tubman Freakout

Seriously?

That’s Fox’s Greta Van Susteren saying that Obama is needlessly “dividing the country” by replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20, with Harriet Tubman.

Has this woman lost her mind?  Dividing the country between who and who?

Or is it personal (she does resemble Jackson)?

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Then, Van Susteren had a suggestion as to how the Obama administration could have avoided “dividing the country”:

Give Tubman her own bill. Like a $25 bill. We could use a $25 bill. Put her picture on that and we could all celebrate. That’s the smart and easy thing to do. But no, some people don’t think and would gratuitously stir up conflict in the nation. That is so awful, and yes, dumb.

Right.  Because that worked so well the Susan B Anthony coin.  It flopped, the US Treasury ended up with 520 million surplus coins after halting production. A $25 bill would be even more contrived, and it would end up creating more work in retail stores, banks, and so on in separate handling of the currency from $20s and $50s.  There’s simply no NEED for it.

Van Susteren isn’t alone in this.  Trump has called it political correctness.  Ben Carson thinks Tubman should go on a $2.

But here’s the thing: the all LOVE that she is on our money.  It’s the OTHER people who are offended by Treasury Secretary Lew and Obama.

Anyway, time to learn about Tubman:

Trump Shouldn’t Talk About Things

He took questions on the Today show today:

Q: Tell us your views of LGBT and how you plan to be inclusive. Please speak about the North Carolina bathroom law.

A: ”North Carolina did something that was very strong and they’re paying a big price and there’s a lot of problems,” said Trump, who would have left things as they were. “There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate, there has been so little trouble.” He said that instead, the new law has brought tremendous economic “strife” for the state, including various boycotts by entertainers and major businesses. “Leave it the way it is.”

Okay, kudos.  It was the right answer, and in stark contrast to Ted Cruz, who actually defended HB2 last week. During an MSNBC town hall, Cruz said, “As the father of daughters, I’m not terribly excited about men being able to go alone into a bathroom with my daughters, and I think that’s a perfectly reasonable determination for the people to make.”

I am not confident that Trump supporters will agree with him on this.

But then this….

Q: Regarding news that Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill: Was the move an act of political correctness or a long-overdue gesture?

A: Trump hailed Jackson as a president with a “great history of tremendous success” and said he would rather leave Jackson on the bill. “I think it’s pure political correctness. Been on the bill for many, many years and really represented somebody that was very important to this country,” he said. He suggested putting Tubman on the $2 bill or creating a new one altogether. “I would love to see another denomination, and that could take place, I think it would be more appropriate.”

Jackson had a “great history of tremendous success” if that means successfully relocating the Native Americans and laying the groundwork for the Civil War.  Seriously, Trump has no clue what Jackson did.  And if you ask around (or Google), the truth is that nobody has the slightest idea how Jackson got on the $20 bill in the first place.

No really, we checked. The Treasury Department, which has the authority to determine who appears on what bills (so long as that individual is already dead), says on its Web site that its own historical records “do not suggest” why certain presidents ended up on certain bills during a blitz of portrait selections in 1928.

In fact, Jackson was opposed to the creation of paper money.

But I digress.

Let me return to Trump.  The slam on “political correctness”?  Listen, even I believe we can go too far sometimes in pointing out and correcting perceived social slights.  But political correctness means nothing more than showing respect for, and occasionally honoring, minority viewpoints.  And when rich white men like Donald Trump take a slam at political correctness, you know what they are talking about.  It’s the death cry of the white American male, seeing his power and influence diminished by the rise of (oh, the horror!) women and minorities.  For some, slamming political correctness offers an excuse for blatant bigotry.

Consider the contrast between the two questions put to Trump above,  He is clearly capable of seeing discrimination — he has no problem letting Kaitlen Jenner use whatever bathroom she wants in Trump Tower.  And yet, put a black woman on the $20?  Why, that’s political correctness gone awry.

What’s the difference?

Speaking of Trump, I came across this, which I clip from the Baltimore Sun:

trumpsupporter

Hey nineteen.  STFU.

Trump The Unifier

At last night’s Super Tuesday presser, Trump insisted that he was a “unifier”, adding that being a unifier to his resume may surprise some people, and “believe me”.  But…

VALDOSTA, Ga. — There are different accounts of who made the decision to eject approximately 30 black students who say they were standing silently at the top of the bleachers at Donald Trump’s rally here Monday evening.

Late Monday night, a Trump spokeswoman denied that the incident at Valdosta State University’s campus was initiated “at the request of the candidate” or the presidential campaign. A spokesman for the Secret Service contradicted the students’ statements that federal agents led them out of the building, saying Trump staff and local law enforcement officials were in charge of handling protesters.

However, Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress tried to clear up the confusion Tuesday morning, telling USA TODAY that he personally went to speak to the Trump campaign staff and the local law enforcement officers helping with security to confirm who ordered the students out, and to ask why.

“These folks were told to leave the PE complex by the Trump detail,” Childress said.

The police chief said he thinks the Trump staff made the right call — and it wasn’t a racial issue.

Trump had rented the venue, so “he had the right to tell folks he didn’t want to be there, that they had to leave. I’m not campaigning for anyone. That’s not what I do. But in this case, I support them,” Childress said.

The sight of the students, who were visibly upset, being asked to leave the grounds created a stir at a university that was a whites-only campus until 1963.

The young people said they had planned to sit in silent protest, but were escorted out by security officials before the presidential candidate began speaking. The incident was recorded on video by several attendees. (Some of the footage can be found herehere and here.)

I am pretty sure the story isn’t who kicked out those students for Donald Trump, but the fact that they were kicked out at all.

Oh, Give It A Rest, White People

The Guardian reports:

The NFL has been accused of various misdemeanours down the years, from ignoring head trauma to failing to control its players’ off the field activities. Now we can add another problem to the list: allowing hate speech to be disseminated during the Super Bowl via the medium of song and dance.

That, at least, is the view of a group behind an “Anti-Beyoncé Protest Rally”, which is due to take place on 16 February outside NFL headquarters in New York. “Do you agree that it was a slap in the face to law enforcement? Do you agree that the Black Panthers was/is a hate group which should not be glorified?” reads the group’s posting on Event Brite. “Come and let’s stand together. Let’s tell the NFL we don’t want hate speech & racism at the Superbowl ever again!” The group did not respond to the Guardian’s request for more information.

Beyoncé was the star of Sunday’s Super Bowl half-time show, appearing alongside Coldplay and Bruno Mars. She performed her new single, Formation, which referenced the Black Panthers and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The proposed rally is not the only dissent that has risen after Beyoncé’s performance. On Monday the former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani appeared to be particularly incensed by the reference to Black Lives Matter and described the performance as an attack on the police. “I thought it was really outrageous that she used it as a platform to attack police officers who are the people who protect her and protect us, and keep us alive,” he told Fox News. “And what we should be doing in the African American community, and all communities, is build up respect for police officers.”

Giuliani also believed the Super Bowl was the wrong platform for Beyoncé. “This is a political position and she’s probably going to take advantage of it,” Giuliani said. “You’re talking to middle America when you have the Super Bowl. So if you’re going to have entertainment, let’s have decent, wholesome entertainment. And not use it as a platform to attack the people who put their lives at risk just to save us.”

This is yet another exhibit in a theory I have long espoused — i.e., that conservatives have binary minds. Black Lives Matter is not an attack on ALL police and people who put their lives at risk.  It is attacking bad police and bad police training.  Is that too nuanced for people like Giuliani?

What The Tamir Rice Incident Reveals About Open Carry Gun Laws

So much yes from Charles Pierce in Esquire:

There certainly is no point in emphasizing the damn irony that Ohio is an “open carry” state so, even if the cops assumed Rice was 18, and they also assumed his gun was real, they had no cause even to stop him, let alone open fire. Listen to the spiel that Wayne LaPierre unspools every time he’s in a room with more than four people listening: arm yourselves, because the world is a hellscape of violent Others who are coming for you and your children. At its heart, open carry is about open season on the people who scare you. It’s certainly not about an absolute Second Amendment right that applies to black people as well as white. Open carry is about You and the Others, and so is the training of our modern, militarized police forces. If only Tamir Rice had not been born with that congenital ability to become huge and threatening the way he did in the mind of Timothy Loehmann. If only…

The prosecutor — who (half-heartedly, I’m sure) presented the case to the Grand Jury (which failed to hand down any indictments) — said that the officers followed policy.

What scares me is that might just be true.

In which case, we need to change the policy.

Does Being White Make You A Racist?

Professor George Yancy of Emory University thinks so.  Here’s his New York Times Editorial, an open letter to White America.  I print it in full below the fold.

But here is my response:

Dear Mr. Yancy:

You speak undeniable truths about the world we live in, and about how white people like me benefit (almost instinctively) from white privilege.  That’s true.

But you’ve decided to redefine “racist” in such a manner that it — the word and what it represents — becomes meaningless.  As a practical matter, I can do nothing about my supposed “racism” other than be aware of it and do what I can to change the white privilege power structure, which I already do.  I have that responsibility, not only as a white man, but as a citizen of the Earth.  But being responsible for countering structural racism does not make me guilty AS a racist.

We are in an era in which great big, gaping, enormous, and injurious generalizations about broad populations are increasingly acceptable. “All men are sexist”… and so on.  And taking the philosophy that being white in America makes one culpable for racism is a great big, broad, gaping and enormous generalization.

But generalizations are the cornerstone of prejudice, which leads to the -isms which divide us.  They certainly cannot be said with love and societal health in mind.

Furthermore, I don’t believe the tautology that disagreement with you is proof that you are correct.  That is a logical fallacy.  That you may have predicted my response to your thesis does not make your thesis correct (nor particularly clever).

I like what you write to the extent that it forces “white America” (whatever that means) to be mindful of the structural racism that exists in all of the facets of life — from sports to law to politics to entertainment and so on.  But you bury the lede by making it personal.  By writing to ME as if you know ME, and insisting that I am a racist (as you define that word) has to practical use.  Even if you admit that you are racist and sexist, and even if you dress it all dressed up in bows — an actual gift for which I am (supposedly) to thank you, it does not move the ball forward or fix any problem.  It just stirs the pot.

Yes, I am a racist as you insist on defining it.  But that is your “problem”.  I cannot do anything about it.

And so I give this “gift” back to you.  And I urge you to keep fighting the good fight.  You can join me in that fight too.  Just don’t bring any presents.

KRA

Police-Related Racial Homicide in Winston-Salem?

On December 9th, Winston-Salem resident Travis Page died after being handcuffed by four Winston-Salem police officers.  After being handcuffed.

It’s a story all too familiar — a young black man dies — not in a shootout with police — but while under police custody.

It is irrelevant what Travis Page did or was accused of doing.  Unless he was attacking police with violent force, he shouldn’t have died.  Unless…

Unless it was… suicide?  An accident?  So the burning question becomes… what happened?

Fortunately, three of the four officers had body cams (the fourth was a trainee and was not required to have a body cam).  What will those cameras show?  We won’t know, at least not for a while.  District Attorney Jim O’Neill will not be releasing the videos since they are evidence in the police investigation.

Mayor Joines and the Winston-Salem Journal are among the many who are calling for the video release.

Chad Nance over at Camel City Dispatch has been doing the yeoman’s work on this, and has a nice breakdown of what is known from the public record:

  • At approximately 7:28pm on December 9th the WSPD received a 911 call reporting shots fired at the Family Dollar location on Rural Hall Rd.
  • The person who called in the complaint described a suspect fitting Travis Page’s description.
  • The suspect was described as being six-feet, four-inches tall, heavy set, and wearing a blue shirt and dark shorts.
  • Responding officers were 20 year veteran, Corporal Robert Fenimore, 22 year veteran Officer Christopher Doub, 3 year veteran Officer Austin Conrad and trainee Officer Jacob Tuttle.
  • Officers found Page a short distance from the Family Dollar. According to the WSPD he ran when police approached.
  • According to an officer on the scene recorded in a citizen video (Taken sometime after the confrontation and the arrival of Forsyth County EMS, but before Page had been taken to the hospital) Page was running away from police when he fell.
  • According to police, Page ingested a controlled substance at this time. The particular substance that he allegedly ingested has not been identified at this time.
  • The WSPD’s report indicates that Page resisted arrest and the officers had to use pepper spray on him. The officer who administered they spray has not been identified.
  • Officers have indicated that once Page was handcuffed he became “Unresponsive”.
  • According to the police report, the responding officers and Forsyth County EMS attempted to use life-saving measures to revive Page. They have not been specific about what these measures entailed.
  • Officers claim that they found a gun and controlled substances on Page before he was taken to the hospital.
  • Travis Page was pronounced dead at the hospital.
  • According to public records Travis Page did have a criminal history that included assault on a police officer and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon while on probation.
  • Page’s mother told local media that her son had a variety of medical conditions including bronchitis and gout. Travis Page’s medical records are protected by HIPPA laws and that information must be considered anecdotal at this time.
  • The SBI is now handling the investigation into the death of Travis Page and the officers have been placed on administrative duty as is common procedure in these kinds of cases.
  • WSPD’s Lt. Catrina Thompson has stated publicly that the body cam footage will not “Embarrass Winston-Salem.”

(Read the story — Mr. Nance clearly knows more than he is willing to write about)

It would be inappropriate to pass judgement on the officers at this point.  But this incident is on a lot of peoples’ radar.

60 Years Ago Today

A black lady sat on a bus.

No, not Claudette Colvin.  The one who came nine months later, on December 1, 1955.  Yeah, Rosa Parks.  The lighter-skinned one.

That whole thing was planned, you know.  Rosa Parks (who died in 1995) wasn’t a nobody; she was an activist. She knew the bus driver too.  Knew him to be a real jerk.  It was supposed to spark a one-day boycott, but it kind of snowballed.  In a good way.

That was sixty years ago.  The struggle isn’t over.

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The Murder Of Laquan McDonald

It was murder.  Plain and simple.

But let’s start with the account from the police union, as described to the Chicago Tribune in October 2014:

“He’s got a 100-yard stare. He’s staring blankly,” [Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Pat] Camden said of the teen. “[He] walked up to a car and stabbed the tire of the car and kept walking.”

Officers remained in their car and followed McDonald as he walked south on Pulaski Road. More officers arrived and police tried to box the teen in with two squad cars, Camden said. McDonald punctured one of the squad car’s front passenger-side tires and damaged the front windshield, police and Camden said.

Officers got out of their car and began approaching McDonald, again telling him to drop the knife, Camden said. The boy allegedly lunged at police, and one of the officers opened fire.

McDonald was shot in the chest and taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:42 p.m.

Emphasis mine.

Let’s see what actually happened:

Not quite the same.  And NBC News in Chicago reports that after the shooting police arrived at a nearby Burger King to review surveillance footage from the restaurant:

After the shooting, according to Jay Darshane, the District Manager for Burger King, four to five police officers wearing blue and white shirts entered the restaurant and asked to view the video and were given the password to the equipment. Three hours later they left, he said.

The next day, when an investigator from the Independent Police Review Authority asked to view the security footage, it was discovered that 86 minutes of the video were missing.

In a statement, a spokesman for the IPRA said: “We have no credible evidence at this time that would cause us to believe CPD purged or erased any surveillance video.”

But according to Darshane, both the cameras and video recorder were all on and working properly the night of the shooting.

“We had no idea they were going to sit there and delete files,” Darshane said. “I mean we were just trying to help the police officers.”

Rrrrright.

The levels of repulsiveness in this incident are alarming.  Not only the shooting, but the cover-up, and the fact that it never would have come to light but for legal persistence and FOIA requests.  One can imagine how often the police were able to get away with these things before video cameras.

Protests are most peaceful, but continue:

After a night of loud, angry protests but few arrests, police and elected officials are bracing Wednesday for more possible backlash over the release of a dramatic video showing a white Chicago police officer shooting at a black teenager as he lay on the street.

Organizers from Stop Mass Incarceration Network Chicago have called for new protests Wednesday in Chicago’s Loop and in the busy retail strip along north Michigan Avenue on Friday.

On Tuesday night, crowds of well over 200 people marched through downtown streets chanting “16 shots,” a reference to the number of times that, prosecutors say, Officer Jason Van Dyke fired at 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who died later of gunshot wounds.

Scores of protesters clashed mildly with police late into the evening, occasionally pushing and shoving with officers in heated confrontations.

Even right wing reaction is muted.  Sean Hannity had to admit this was murder (but then he shifted focus to “what about all the police who have been killed”).

NC Senator A Member of The KKK?

Anonymous is at it again.

The hacking group claimed last month to have hacked multiple KKK Twitter accounts, and obtained some membership rosters of the KKK. This list includes a number of other prominent politicians across the country. Anonymous said it would be unmasking Klan members around the anniversary of the Ferguson protests.

Here is the full listing of political figures — including NC Senator Thom Tillis — that Anonymous claims to be linked to the notorious hate group, which got on Anonymous’ bad side last year when a chapter threatened to use “lethal force” against protesters in Ferguson, Mo.

[REMOVED BY ADMIN]

It is not immediately clear what impact, if any, this will have. None of this, it seems, can be proved. Not yet anyway.

But will the mainstream press start looking into it?

UPDATE:  Yup…. USA TODAY has it….

UPDATE #2:

Yup.  There was something about the release of names that had a certain casual-ness about them.  Anonymous usually does some vetting in order to maintain credibility, and this stuff seemed unvetted.  In light of that, I will remove the information.

As the New York Times once wrote (and I’m paraphrasing), “Anonymous is a small cadre of hacking geniuses surrounded by a sea of computer idiots.”

Trump Draws Analogy Between Black Protesters And Isis

And here is what he linked to…

We need a strong leader- and fast! A video posted by Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Trump is saying, in no uncertain terms, that if Sanders can’t stand up to black protesters, then how will he stand up to ISIS?

My question to Trump is…. why do you place Black Lives Matter protesters on the same side of the equation as ISIS terrorists?

I am wondering if Trump is trolling for attention, because this will get it.  It is a huge mistake.

KKKKids: Where Are They Now?

Almost 10 years ago on this blog, I wrote about Prussian Blue – the name of the rock group comprised of two twin sisters, Lamb and Lynx Gaede, who sang songs about white pride and nationalism and had a huge following among white supremacists.

Here is what they looked like then:

Twins Lamb and Lynx Gaede are singers in a band called Prussian Blue whose songs have nationalistic lyrics branded rascist by critics. The 13-year-old twins from Bakersfield, California, have even modelled T Shirts showing an emblem of Hitler for the website www.ayryanwear.com

As I wrote then, the two girls had been nurtured from birth with the racist beliefs of their mother, April Gaede.  They recorded two albums and even toured Europe, performing at white nationalist organizations. They even went on to say that they believed the Holocaust was a “myth,” and in fact, the name Prussian Blue refers to the by-product of the poisonous substance used to gas Jews in concentration camps.

So what happened to them?

Well, they got a lot of publicity around 2005 — much of it negative as you might suspect — and eventually left Bakersfield, California to go to Montana, where they hoped to hide under a rock.

As they grew older, and much to the disappointment of their racist mother, the girls’ views changed.  They now think diversity is great.

They both live in Montana still, with Lamb living on her own and working as a hotel maid, and Lynx lives with their mother, stepdad and half-sister, Dresden (the names of these children, good lord) in a home near Lamb.

As a freshman in high school, Lynx was diagnosed with cancer and a large tumor was removed from her shoulder. She also suffers from a rare condition called CVS, Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome, which sounds like the most horrible disease in the world.

Unfortunately Lamb has suffered from a few health problems as well, including scoliosis and chronic back pain, as well as lack of appetite and emotional stress… wonder where that came from.

But the one thing that helps them get through the day? Pot. Yes, you read that right.

Lynx reveals, “I have to say, marijuana saved my life. I would probably be dead if I didn’t have it.”

In fact, the two made more history as they became one of the first five minors to get a medical marijuana card in Montana

Lynx tried to explain why they got into the business in the first place, saying, “My sister and I were home-schooled. We were these country bumpkins. We spent most of our days up on the hill playing with our goats.”

Lamb adds, “I was just spouting a lot of knowledge that I had no idea what I was saying.”

 

“We just want to come from a place of love and light,” Lamb said. “I think we’re meant to do something more  — we’re healers. We just want to exert the most love and positivity we can.”

2011, USA: Lamb and Lynx Gaede of White Power group Prussian Blue///Lamb and Lynx Gaede of Prussian Blue. Credit: Polaris

Good for them.

For The Black Lives Matter Files

I suspect stories like this fly under the radar an awful lot, and nobody even knows about it:

A young black man arrested by police in Portsmouth, Virginia, on the same day that one of the city’s officers fatally shot an unarmed black 18-year-old, has been found dead in jail after spending almost four months behind bars without bail for stealing groceries worth $5.

Jamycheal Mitchell, who had mental health problems, was discovered lying on the floor of his cell by guards early last Wednesday, according to authorities. While his body is still awaiting an autopsy, senior prison officials said his death was not being treated as suspicious.

“As of right now it is deemed ‘natural causes’,” Natasha Perry, the master jail officer at the Hampton Roads regional jail in Portsmouth, said of his death in an interview. Perry said there were no obvious outward signs of injury to the 24-year-old’s body.

Mitchell’s family said they believed he starved to death after refusing meals and medication at the jail, where he was being held on misdemeanour charges of petty larceny and trespassing. A clerk at Portsmouth district court said Mitchell was accused of stealing a bottle of Mountain Dew, a Snickers bar and a Zebra Cake worth a total of $5 from a 7-Eleven.

Mitchell was a chain-smoker, had bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.  None of those things, however, should have caused his death of “natural causes” at the age of 24.

Setting aside, if possible, his death (which, I am sorry, IS suspicious) why the hell is a black man in jail, without bail, for four months, for stealing $5 worth of groceries?

Terrible Live Shooting On TV This Morning

Troubling video (not bloody, but shocking)

Both the reporter and the cameraman are dead.

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During an interview on CNN, General Manager Jeffrey Marks confirmed that today was Parker’s last day with the station. Marks also said that Ward’s fiancee Melissa Ott was in the control room during the broadcast, and saw the shooting happen live. From the video shot by the cameraman (as he died), a frame may have caught the shooter. 11935115_10156061166125093_4992410002731105501_n 

This all happened at 7:45 a.m. today during a live interview in the town of Moneta, Virginia. A manhunt for the shooter is on. Let me state the obvious before everyone else does:

(1)  Yes, the only reason this is “news” is because it happened on TV.  But double murders happen all the time.
(2)  Yes, the victims are white, although honestly, when black people are shot and it is recorded, we pay attention then as well.
(3)  This would be a good time for the candidates to speak up about gun control.  Watch the GOP candidates say instead that this is a time for “prayers” so that they never have to address gun control.

UPDATE 10:25 a.m. — Shooter is apparently a disgruntled employee of the TV station.

UPDATE 10:40 a.m. — Suspect identified as Vester Lee Flanigan (or Lester Lee Flanigan?), a light-skinned black man, who is about 6’3″, 250lbs and driving a gray 2009 Ford Mustang with Virginia license plates WZE-8846.  Police are in pursuit on Interstate 81 In a related story, of local interest, the second guy in the local (Rockingham County NC) manhunt was caught last night.  So that happened.

UPDATE 11:25 a.m.  Ugh. This story gets worse and worse. The shooter (Flanigan) goes by the name of Bryce Williams. He was a reporter at the station. And he started sharing video of the shooting (from his vantage point) on his Twitter account (which has been shut down) and Facebook page (also shut down). The video is very graphic and people are very good about not posting (or viewing it).  I’ve seen it, but I won’t post or link to it.  You can see him walk up to her and draw his gun and aim it at her (image below).  Nobody notices.  He puts the gun down and steps back a step or two.  Another 3 or 4 seconds pass.  Suddenly he lifts the gun and fires.  Alison Parker is seen running off.  The screen goes black and you hear more shots.   You don’t actually see anyone get hit, but it is startling.

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And more about the shooter now….  

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UPDATE 11:55 a.m. – Not dead, but in critical condition.

UPDATE 2:00 p.m. – Okay.  Now confirmed dead.

And now a motive — or rather several of them — emerge:

In the 23-page document faxed to ABC News, the writer says “MY NAME IS BRYCE WILLIAMS” and his legal name is Vester Lee Flanagan II.” He writes what triggered today’s carnage was his reaction to the racism of the Charleston church shooting:

“Why did I do it? I put down a deposit for a gun on 6/19/15. The Church shooting in Charleston happened on 6/17/15…”

“What sent me over the top was the church shooting. And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them.”

It is unclear whose initials he is referring to. He continues, “As for Dylann Roof? You (deleted)! You want a race war (deleted)? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …(deleted)!!!” He said Jehovah spoke to him, telling him to act.

Later in the manifesto, the writer quotes the Virginia Tech mass killer, Seung Hui Cho, calls him “his boy,” and expresses admiration for the Columbine High School killers. “Also, I was influenced by Seung–Hui Cho. That’s my boy right there. He got NEARLY double the amount that Eric Harrisand Dylann Klebold got…just sayin.'”

In an often rambling letter to the authorities, and family and friends, he writes of a long list of grievances. In one part of the document, Williams calls it a “Suicide Note for Friends and Family.”

–He says has suffered racial discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying at work

–He says he has been attacked by black men and white females

–He talks about how he was attacked for being a gay, black man

“Yes, it will sound like I am angry…I am. And I have every right to be. But when I leave this Earth, the only emotion I want to feel is peace….”

“The church shooting was the tipping point…but my anger has been building steadily…I’ve been a human powder keg for a while…just waiting to go BOOM!!!!”

Meet Campaign Zero

I, among others, have wondered aloud what the Black Lives Matter movement actually wanted beyond just being “listened to”.   After all, I argued, black people are dying, and while raging against the machine might feel cathartic, it is not actually going to result in concrete changes.  Hillary Clinton made this point as well when she met with BLM activists.  She wanted to know, as did I, what sort of concrete initiatives were they interested in?

I’m happy to see that BLM activists have now come up with exactly what everyone’s been asking for. It’s called Campaign Zero, and it even comes with its own nifty graphic:

blog_campaign_zero

Some of these demands are easy: police body cams, for example, have become widely supported on both right and left, and by both activists and police. Others are a little harder: independent investigations of police shootings and better representation of minorities on police forces aren’t universally supported, but they do have fairly wide backing already. And some are more difficult: it will be tough to wean police forces off their up-armored humvees and challenging to end the vogue for broken-windows policing.

That said, these are all specific and achievable goals. They even have a fact sheet here that tracks some of the presidential candidates and where they stand on each issue. But since most law enforcement activities are run at the state, city or county level, this kind of fact sheet needs to be done locally as well.

All in all, this is very good. BLM won’t get everything it wants—nobody ever does—but Campaign Zero should allow them to avoid the fate of Occupy Wall Street, which generated a ton of passion but never really offered any place to channel it. BLM has now done both, and has a good shot at making their issues important ones during the upcoming presidential campaign.

The Dishonest Attack On Shaun King

shaunkingI saw this story bubbling a couple days ago, and even the mainstream media was touching it.  Certainly, Fox was.  It has to do with the race of a #BlackLivesMatter activist named Shaun King.  In the blogosphere, Breitbart “News” seems to have launched a virulent attack Shaun King, alleging that he’s been lying about his heritage like Rachel Dolezal, and is actually white, not black.

Here’s Shaun King’s response to this mess, posted at Daily Kos, and it’s a damned shame that he even had to write this: Race, Love, Hate, and Me: A Distinctly American Story. I won’t quote from this; just go and read it.

Shame on the mainstream journalists who fell for yet another creepy hit piece from right wing blogs they should have known better than to trust as sources. How many times do they need to get burned before they learn this lesson?

Does BLM Want To Change Minds Or Change The Law?

Last week I gave a full-throated defense of myself and others who had taken issue with the tactics of Black Lives Matter.  This came in the wake of a Seattle political event involving Bernie Sanders, where two BLM activists took the stage as Sanders started speaking, and effectively hijacked the agenda (as well as hijacking Sanders).  Sander never got to speak.  In my previous post, I said it was not a good idea to attack people who are normally allied with your position, as you need to engage in coalition-building in order to effect meaningful change.

I attributed it to a generation gap within the civil rights movement.  The New York Times thinks so too.

Now BLM protesters, true to their word, are going after other candidates as well.  They attempted to do the same thing at a Hillary Clinton event, but were blocked by the Secret Service.  To her credit, Clinton met privately with the BLM protesters.  BLM made a video of the meeting and released it yesterday.

The disconnect was obvious, as CNN explains (emphases mine):

The activists filmed the encounter and released the video in twoparts on Monday night. The Clinton campaign also provided CNN with a transcript of the exchange.

The activists, led by Daunasia Yancey, founder of Black Lives Matter in Boston, pressed Clinton on her family’s role in promoting “white supremacist violence against communities of color.”

Clinton acknowledged during the conversation that laws put into place by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, did not work out as planned.

“I do think that there was a different set of concerns back in the ’80s and the early ’90s. And now I believe that we have to look at the world as it is today and try and figure out what will work now,” she said. “And that’s what I’m trying to figure out and that’s what I intend to do as president.”

But Clinton also told the protesters that she was “not sure” she agreed with the activists that her husband’s policies were racist.

“I do think that a lot of what was tried and how it was implemented has not produced the kinds of outcomes that any of us would want,” she said. “But I also believe that there are systemic issues of race and justice that go deeper than any particular law.”

The activists did not appear to be won over by their conversation with Clinton.

Yancey told reporters earlier this month that she never heard “a reflection on (Clinton’s) part in perpetuating white supremacist violence” and that Clinton “gave the answer she wanted to give.”

Two of the activists shared their disappointment with Clinton’s response on CNN on Tuesday.

“Her policy response — if it’s not addressing the anti-blackness inherent in some of the previous polices, we’re just going to see that thread continue,” Yancey said. “And that’s what we’re looking to hear. What’s shifted? What’s changed for Hillary Clinton that’s going to make us believe that she’s going to take this country in a different direction in terms of race?”

Specifically, what Clinton didn’t seem to appreciate the insinuation. “Respectfully, if that is your position, then I will talk only to white people about how we are going to deal with the very real problems,”

I don’t understand this need of BLM to get people like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to admit things they shouldn’t admit to.  Neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton were promoting white supremacist violence.  Period.  They just weren’t.  You can make the argument that was an unintended consequence of flawed policies, but to say that the Clintons were promoting white supremacy?  Simply crazy.  And good for Hillary (and Bernie) for standing their ground on that.

Over at Balloon Juice, Betty Cracker gets annoyed:

It seemed to me that the BLM Boston reps who met with Hillary were more interested in getting her to own up to her role in advocating for Bill Clinton’s anti-crime policies than discussing policymaking going forward. One of the activists, Daunasia Yancy, expressed disappointment that she didn’t hear “a reflection on (Clinton’s) part in perpetuating white supremacist violence.”

While I admire Yancy’s commitment, the mom in me found it impossible to resist the urge to face-palm when I read that comment. Clinton is a candidate for president, and you expect her to reflect on her personal role in “perpetuating white supremacist violence”? Lots of luck with that. Here is Clinton’s response to BLM’s opening salvo about systemic racism:

“Your analysis is totally fair. It’s historically fair. It’s psychologically fair. It’s economically fair. But you’re going to have to come together as a movement and say, ‘Here’s what we want done about it.’”

That didn’t sit well with one of the activists, Julius Jones, who basically accused Clinton of whitesplaining (not in so many words, but that was the gist) at the beginning of the second video, which can be seen here. And Clinton got a tad snippy in return.

Here’s a rough, edited-for-length transcript of the exchange referred to above:

JONES: “If you don’t tell black people what we need to do, then we won’t tell you all what you need to do.”

CLINTON: “I’m not telling you, I’m just telling you to tell me.”

JONES: “This is and has always been a white problem of violence. There’s not much that we can do to stop the violence against us.”

CLINTON: “If that is your position, then I will talk with only to white people about how we are going to deal with very real problems.”

JONES: “What you just said was a form of victim-blaming. You were saying what the Black Lives Matter movement needs to do to is change white hearts is to…”

CLINTON: “I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate…you’re not going to change every heart. You’re not…you may change some hearts, but if that’s all that happens, we’ll be back here in 10 years having the same conversation.”

It’s worth watching both videos, which unfold not unlike some of the discussions seen here and elsewhere.

But BLM Boston has been slamming HRC on Twitter ever since the videos were released last night.

***

BLM Boston has its agenda — they are idealists. Hillary Clinton has hers — she is a pragmatist. What did you think?

Spot on.  I think that is part of the disconnect.  Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are politicians.  They FIX things.  You certainly understand (and I think Clinton and Sanders understand) the anxiety and desperation of the BLM protesters they encounter.  But that just can’t be all there is to the movement, can it?  Like me, John Cole hopes not, but he doesn’t know what else to do:

[I]t’s not difficult to fear the same thing happening to BLM that happened to OWS [Occupy Wall Street]. Granted, the movements are not the same. Economic inequality lacks the urgent life or death reality that face the black community, as their lives really are at risk for just doing what white people like me do every day and don’t think twice about it. Things like driving to the grocery store, or walking down the street, or going to the pool, or, well, basically anything seems to be excuse enough to shoot a black person these days. So there is an urgency that separates the two movements.

There are also similarities- mostly structural, in that a decentralized organic movement like this has all kinds of different actors with different ideals and different attitudes towards what is productive and what is not. There is no rigid leadership structure, and were there one, it would probably kill the movement anyway. People who follow protest movements are in a much better position to discuss this than I am, so I will just stop there.

But one key similarity that OWS and BLM have in common that continues to lead to these uncomfortable Jerry Maguire/Rod Tidwell “Help me help you” moments such as the most recent video….  Economic inequality and racial inequality are such large foundations of what this country is and what we are made of that no one really knows where to start in a way that will succeed. It’s just that entrenched in our society, and the issues of racial and economic inequality are concomitantly inexorably intertwined yet disparate issues. This is, after all, a nation that was literally built on the backs of slaves, yet race is not the key reason that so much economic inequality exists.

***

So while we may have reached a tipping point with the populace screaming for change, the deck is so stacked against us in favor of those already with institutional and economic power that really, it’s difficult to figure out where to go and what to do, and screaming for change becomes just screaming. This is not a bug, this is by design.

***

So we’re back at the beginning. How do you harness the energy of movements like BLM and make actual, tangible, immediate things happen? And how do you stop people from yelling at each other when they are basically on the same side to focus the rage where it belongs- into real plans of action? If you know, you’re smarter than me. And, apparently, the Clinton, Sanders, and O’Malley campaigns.

When you read of the account in Vanity Fair, you can see this is a contest of idealism versus pragmatism, with Clinton pushing the latter:

In a move that recalled some of the criticism of the Occupy Wall Street movement, Clinton pressed the activists to come up with specific demands. She pointed to the civil-rights movement, the gay-rights movement, and the women’s-rights movements as examples of progress achieved through a detailed road map of lawsuits and actions. “You can get lip service from as many white people you can pack into Yankee Stadium and a million more like it who are going to say, ‘We get it, we get it. We are going to be nicer,’” she said. “That’s not enough, at least in my book.”

The BLM protester seems to get that.

In a second video, Jones appears to respond to Clinton’s answer by taking issue with the recommendation, arguing that the issues the Black Lives Matter movement is working on—incarceration, police use of force, systemic inequalities in the justice system—are not ones that can be fixed by actions on the part of black people. “I say this as respectfully as I can: if you don’t tell black people what we need to do, then we won’t tell you all what you need to do,” Jones said. “This is and has always been a white problem of violence.”

I genuinely don’t think Clinton was telling Yancey, Jones, and the other activists that they need to come up with policy to rescue themselves from white supremacy (although I understand why Jones interpreted it that way, and I almost certainly would have done the same in the moment); I think she was saying, “Design the policy you want to see, because my role is a policymaker.”

This is the schism that I have noticed.

I can certainly understand Clinton’s response:

Clinton didn’t seem to appreciate the insinuation. “Respectfully, if that is your position, then I will talk only to white people about how we are going to deal with the very real problems,” she said. “Look, I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You’re not going to change every heart. You’re not.”

“But at the end of the day, we can do a whole lot to change some hearts and change some systems and create more opportunities for people who deserve to have them to live up to their own God-given potential,” Clinton continued. “You can keep the movement going, which you have started, and through it you may actually change some hearts. But if that’s all that happens, we’ll be back here in 10 years having the same conversation.”

It seems to me — and of course, I’m a white man and haven’t lived with this problem every day — that BLM isn’t set on what it wants, other than to identify the problem and make sure everyone knows what the problem is.  But some of us (me, the Clintons, Sanders) are already there, and have already been there for…. decades.  We want to SOLVE it, and I’m not sure BLM knows or cares or, most likely, believes that (perhaps they are too pessimistic to think that a solution is real or that the sincerity is real).  So then what is the next step for pragmatists?

Changes, turn and face the strain.

UPDATE:  More voices to add to the mix.  The subject is Bill Clinton’s 1994 “Tough On Crime” bill.  David Lind at Vox:

But when one activist associates the bill with a project of “white supremacist violence,” Clinton buckles. She takes it as a statement about intent: that laws like the 1994 crime bill were deliberately passed out of malice toward black communities. And so she counters that she and her husband were deeply concerned about black victims of crime, and were simply acting out of a desire to protect them…

The problem is that the conversation isn’t clear whether “extension of white supremacist violence” is about the intent of these policies or their consequences. This is a common problem with discussion of racism: Structural racism isn’t about feelings in individuals’ hearts, it’s about systems and outcomes. But it’s easy to slip from talking about systems to talking about people, and that’s what happened here.

Personally, I think the intent simply doesn’t matter. Clinton herself said, “You don’t change hearts. You change laws.” What matters is the external reality, not the feelings of the people who create it; caring about people will not save you from making policy choices that will hurt them.

In other words, iintent doesn’t matter — if law has a bad effect to black people, it is racist even if the intentions are good.

At Mother Jones, Kevin Drum has the response:

Lind suggests that intent doesn’t matter. Something is racist if it has racist consequences. But I think you have to be pretty careful about that. Lind is right that, whether racially inspired or not, it’s important to face structural racism clearly and work relentlessly to overcome it. Nonetheless, intent does matter. Calling someone racist does nothing except make matters worse unless they really do have racist intent.

My point exactly.

So was the 1994 crime bill racist in intent? No. Lots of black leaders, including black mayors who faced rising crime rates daily, supported it. Violent crime really was a huge problem—and it really was especially severe in black communities. Nobody at the time knew that lead might be the culprit for this, so they simply had to address it as best they could given what they believed. So they did. The 1994 crime bill was not a white supremacist project. It was a crime bill.

At the end of her piece, Lind argues that Hillary Clinton “doesn’t need to show she’s changed her heart. But she does need to show that she has learned, and changed her mind.” This puzzles me. Hillary has defended her support of the 1994 crime bill given what she knew at the time, but she has also proposed criminal justice reforms that make it clear she has learned and has changed her mind. If those reforms are insufficient, fine. Fight for more. But both Clintons have made it clear that their views on crime have changed. There’s simply no excuse for pretending that either one of them was involved in a conspiracy of “white supremacist violence” against black communities.

I am not sure why it is so important for BLM to have politicians label themselves as racist.  It escapes me because doing so will not save one black live.

 

Straight Outta Beating Up Women

I’m looking forward to seeing the N.W.A. bio-pic “Straight Outta Compton”, but I’m not surprised that the former N.W.A. members deal with the misogyny issue by, well, not acknowledging it.  Ice Cube recently was asked about it and he said that he doesn’t understand why “upstanding ladies” would come to the defense of the “bitches” and “hos” referred to in the group’s rap music.  Sadly, I think that misses the point, since the music talks about murdering and raping “bitches” and “hos”.  I think even “upstanding ladies” would agree with me: that’s still not okay.  And let’s not forget that Dr. Dre virtually ended the career of Dee Barnes (“Pump the jam, pump it up”) after beating her to a bloody pulp.

I expect the movie to say important things, and it certainly is timely given the national focus on police violence and race.  But my understanding is that women barely appear in the movie except as mothers, wives, and you guessed it, hos — which is misogynistic in its own way (the film’s producers include Dr. Dre and Ice Cube).  Too bad.  It almost makes me wish that they would put an asterisk in the corner of the screen along with statistics about domestic violence, particularly violence perpetrated against black women.

Even The Gun Nuts Don’t Want A Piece Of This

A few days ago, I mentioned the presence of armed white people — the Oath Keepers — present on the streets of Ferguson during the racial tensions.  They were there, they said, the protect a reporter from the ultra-right wing website, InfoWars.

Except now we learn that Infowars denies knowing these guys or what they’re doing.

Maybe that’s true, maybe not.  But many gun nuts are thinking this is a bad idea.  A typical example… from the blog “BEARING ARMS, Guns & Patriots Saving Liberty and Lives“:

It seems quite clear that the four white Oath Keepers self-deployed to a black neighborhood in which there is considerable racial tension, in what many regard as nothing more or less than a show of force. They interjected themselves into a community where they were neither wanted nor requested, and raised tensions instead of assuaging them as the prior group of Oath Keepers did in December of 2014.

Our continuing fight to not only retain but reassert our Second Amendment rights after years of abuse at the hands of an increasingly statist government is one that requires a deft touch, and I’m proud to say that the vast majority of gun owners clearly understand this. As a result, we’re attracting more shooters, across wider cultural lines.

***

And we’ll continue to create a more inclusive “gun culture 2.0″ as long as we act intelligently.

I don’t know anything about the individual Oath Keepers involved in this most recent appearance of the Oath Keepers in Ferguson, but then again, their intentions and pedigrees are all but irrelevant. The public perception of what they were doing, and why they were there, is what matters.

They did us no favors.

Of course, that blogger (if you read further) is only concerned about the reputation of the pro-gun crowd and not the fact that people might get, you know, killed.

But…. it’s progress.  Right?

Pissing On Your Best Friend

Earlier this week, I got in — not one but two — debates with good progressive friends about the wisdom of the BLM movement shutting down Bernie Sanders speaking at a Social Security and Medicaid event last Saturday in Seattle.  It’s a lot of ground to cover, but I read something by Hamilton Nolan (whoever he is) at Gawker that gets me 66% of the way there.  So I am going to piggyback on his essay to explain my take:

On Saturday, Bernie Sanders was scheduled to speak to a crowd of thousands of supporters in a Seattle park. He never did; the event was shut down after a handful of protesters disrupted it in the name of “Black Lives Matter.” This was remarkably dumb.

Some caveats up front: 1) “Black Lives Matter,” like “Occupy,” is not a formal group with strict membership requirements. It is a banner, an overarching cause, a general proclamation of a set of political beliefs that can be picked up by anyone who cares to invoke its name. The actions of a few people should not, therefore, be used to try to tarnish that entire cause.

Yup.  And part of the problem in the debates about “what BLM did” is that there is no centralized BLM leadership.  When you think “BLM”, think “Tea Party”, but with a different set of goals.  When I use “BLM” in this post, I am referring to those who say and believe that what happened in Seattle speaks for all BLM movement supporters, even though I do not concede that to be true.  *I* am a BLM movement supporter, one of many who disagree with the tactics in Seatlle.

2) There are already plenty of conspiracy theories circulating in lefty circles about the group of protesters who disrupted the event, and their true motivations, and what they hoped to accomplish. I do not want to dive into a sea of unprovable suppositions, or overgeneralize about a broad cause. There have already been many tortured op-eds by progressives trying to painstakingly reconcile what happened. The fact is that this is not the first time that Bernie Sanders has been driven from the stage by Black Lives Matter protesters.

Agreed.  The background of the protesters at the event is interesting.  One of them was definitely once a Sarah Palin supporter, but what that means NOW, if anything, can only be guessed at.  For the purposes of what I am saying, I will consider the background of the protesters to be irrelevant.

I simply want to talk about the wisdom of doing this.

It is stupid, don’t do it.

Is “Black Lives Matter,” drawing attention as it does to institutional racism, racist police practices, and other pervasive instances of racism in American society, a legitimate cause? Of course it is. It is perfectly appropriate for BLM to wave its banner in rallies, in protest marches, and in city halls. It is appropriate to wave its banner in neighborhoods, in meeting halls, in the media, and in the streets. It is even, I would argue, appropriate for protesters to stand up and raise their voices and be disruptive at campaign rallies for political candidates who are acting to reinforce and support the sort of racism that they are campaigning against.

One of the criticisms that gets pushed against people like me who were critical of BLM is that we’re trying to get black protesters to “be nice” and “not make waves” and not “shake up the status quo”.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Direct action is not only a valid tactic, but in many instances, a necessary tactic.  My gripe is not against direct action — it is against misdirected action

Donald Trump, the leading Republican presidential candidate, who spits venom about “illegals” pouring into America to rape innocent women, could use a good Black Lives Matter protest. Almost every Republican presidential candidate, in fact—who stumble over themselves competing to build a bigger wall on the border and who unerringly back the police state in word and deed—could use a good Black Lives matter protest. As could most Republican senators, and state governors, and a host of mayors and city council members and sheriffs.

But Bernie Sanders?

Let me stop again here and blunt what some might be thinking.  I am not a Bernie Sanders supporter.  I like much if not most of what he says.  But I don’t think an 80 year old socialist can be an effective leader in this ultra-divided political climate.  He would be a great king, but this is a democracy where compromise is actually necessary.  I also doubt his bona fides on foreign policy.  And a number of other reasons.  So don’t tag me with “You’re in Bernie’s camp” assumption.  You would be wrong.

Nor do I think Sander’s campaign is above reproach.  He has many critics on the left for a number of reasons.  The unbelievably awesome Larry Lessig, for example, is critical of Sanders, saying that Sanders has not put campaign finance reform at the top of his agenda.  Like Lessig,  I believe that you can’t solve the major problems of this country (including racial problems) without changing the way we elect people.  And I’m excited about a possible Lessig campaign.  But you don’t see Lessig, or other Sanders critics, storming the stage and shouting at Sanders like it is a Jerry Springer show.

Bernie Sanders? Bernie Sanders, of all presidential candidates, is the one that you choose to target on the issue of America’s structural racism? Bernie Sanders is the most progressive serious presidential candidate, and the most liberal, and the most vocal and wise on the issue of America’s entrenched and widening economic inequality. And should the Black Lives Matter movement care about economic inequality? Of course. The average white household in America has 16 times the wealth of the average black household. No group in America suffers from our nation’s economic inequality more than black people. Further, closing the racial wealth gap is probably the single most effective thing that any politician could do to help advance the cause of ending structural racism in America. This is because promoting progressive economic policies that work against the extreme concentration of wealth in small groups of people is something that politicians can actually do that has actual real world effects on racial inequality. “Giving nice speeches” is an example of a thing that politicians can do that tends to have little if any real world effect on racial inequality. I guarantee you that there are Democratic (and even some Republican) presidential candidates who are far more polished and smooth politicians than Bernie Sanders who are capable of giving speeches on race in America that sound far more pleasing and life-affirming to listen to than anything that Bernie Sanders says in his own plainspoken growl. And those candidates, who are heavily influenced by Wall Street donors, will go on to do very little to close the racial wealth gap in America, unlike Bernie Sanders.

So the question is: do you want someone who will do the things that will actually address the issues you care about? Or do you want to be pandered to better?

Many on the left find it hard to come out and say “this was stupid,” because they support both Bernie Sanders and the Black Lives Matter movement. That is a misperception of the political landscape. Believing that a small group of angry young protesters did something that was not well thought out need not make you feel guilty or racist; rash and counterproductive things are what young people do. Screaming Bernie Sanders offstage is dumb because you support Black Lives Matter. For those perceptive enough to separate pretty slogans from actual policy prescriptions, it is clear that Bernie Sanders is the candidate most aligned with the group’s values. Stifling his voice only helps his opponents.

Go shout at someone who deserves it.

Here’s where I have a little pushback of my own for the Gawker opinion piece.  While it is true that Sanders is, of all the candidate, the one most likely to be the best friend of the BLM movement, it is clear that the BLM movement doesn’t see it that way.  The Gawker pieces doesn’t seem to understand this point.  So I’ll address it.

The Seattle protesters (and perhaps the ones at Netroots) claim not to be interested in partisan politics.  In fact, the Seattle protesters claim that that “white supremacist liberals” are actually the cause of the problem.

If that is indeed the position of ALL of BLM (and again, it isn’t, because BLM is just an umbrella name to describe a movement, rather than an actual organization), then BLM is in serious trouble.  It is not liberals who can be blamed for the black people dying at the hands of law enforcement.  Progressive policies are not the root cause of this (and tellingly, no BLMed can point to one), nor are progressives guilty by reason of complacency.

Especially and including Sanders.  Sanders had incorporated a searing critique of entrenched racism into his regular stump speech.  He addressed the SCLC (MLK’s organization) talking about Sandra Bland and the need for officers to wear police cameras.  When he addressed the national conference of the Urban League on August 7, Sanders rattled off the names of Brand, Brown, Boyd, Garner, Scott, Gray and Rice and presented his own standards. “Violence and brutality of any kind, particularly at the hands of law enforcement sworn to protect and serve their communities, is unacceptable and must not be tolerated, he said. “We must reform our criminal justice system. Black lives do matter, and we must value black lives.”

All this was BEFORE last weekend.  His reward was a public scolding by Seattle activists who prevented him from speaking at a Social Security rally, one of whom demanded the crowd “join us now in holding Bernie Sanders accountable for his actions.”  What would those actions be?  It wasn’t explained then or since.  Maybe that’s because the people who supported the Seattle protests were too busy congratulating themselves and taking victory laps, while the rest of us shook our heads in embarrassment and disbelief.

It’s possible that the Seattle protesters didn’t know about Sanders’ statements over the past few weeks, but if so, then the organization that prides itself on using the new social media of the Internet to “spread the word” and organize encountered a massive fail.

Even if they had known, my understanding is that the Seattle protesters didn’t care about Sanders’ civil rights past (going back 50 years) or his recent statements about black lives.  The BLM, I’m told, doesn’t care about partisan politics.

Which is all well and good, but then its focus on candidates of the 2016 election seems counterproductive to even its OWN mission.  In any event, I don’t think they should care about partisan politics either.  If a Republican candidate had the same background and positions as Sanders, he/she should be welcomed into the BLM fold as well.  Being am equal-opportunity troll still means you are a troll (See Trump, Donald)  (UPDATE:  Speaking of Trump, he just held a short press conference. He said Bernie Sanders was “weak” when he allowed #BlackLivesMatter protesters to take the microphone at his rally… and actually threatened to physically fight them if they tried to do the same thing to him.  Attention BLMers: you want to impress me?  Don’t take your fight to Sanders who offers the path of least resistance because he’s on your side.  Take it to Trump)

As an aside, yet ANOTHER defense offered by those who support the Seattle protests — and it is a common theme running through the larger debate — is that “white people” shouldn’t be telling “black people” how to run “their” movement.

This is absurd for a number of reasons.  The first is, many people don’t see it as a movement refined to people of color.  As Kennedy once said:

“The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.”

It’s not “my” movement?  Bullshit.  Besides, if the people doing the killing are white, and I am white, and what they do reflects upon me (and apparently it does), then I’m not going to remain silent when I see a movement destined to fail.

Furthermore, I’m not criticizing the movement “as a white man”.  The criticisms I have a color-neutral, and one way you know that is because my exact same criticism of BLM has been said by Oprah Winfrey and Al Sharpton, who became, as a result, pariahs within the BLM movement (more on that in a moment).

To suggest that my criticisms come because of my whiteness denies a central tenant of a belief that BLMers themselves hold — that I am a beneficiary of white privilege (I acknowledge that I am a beneficiary of a racist system, but that does not mean I cause or support it).  I don’t check my color, and I am not conscious of it when I open my mouth to opine.  However, it is helpful to the BLM movement that I am portrayed that way, and they will take advantage of liberal white guilt to advance that theory that all whites are racist.  But it simply isn’t true.  I know when I am being condescending on a racial basis — that it “feels” that way to a black person doesn’t make it so.

So returning the the point, who then can the finger be pointed when it comes to racial injustice?  Go to the conservative blogs whenever a unarmed black person gets shot by white policemen.  If they are talking about it at all, it is in defense of the police.  The opposite is true of the progressive blogs.  Compare the new media versions of the right and the left on the subject of racial homicides.  Hell, compare the old media.

BLM supporters are quick to point out that racism is different now.  It isn’t hoods and Civil War flags.  No it isn’t.  That’s too obvious.  But that doesn’t mean it is mainstream progressive thought either. LISTEN to what is said on the very very white Fox News.  None of them have hoods either.

Can progressives be taken to task for failing to fix the problem?  Sure.  For example, Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative (or rather, the expansion of his My Brother’s Keeper Initiative) seems like weak tea to many, and I tend to agree.  But failure to fix the problem is not the same as being at the root cause of the problem.  BLMers seem to not know the difference.

So what is BLM’s problem with me and Oprah and Sharpton?  Not hard to answer.  We’re the older generation.  And THAT, I insist, is really what this schism is about.  Not progressive left against BLM, but rather, old (experienced) activists and younger ones.  If I sound condescending in my criticisms to a young black BLM activist, my condescension is rooted in my experience, not my skin color.

One defender of BLM said that he had been involved in social activism for 7 years, so he’s not a neophyte.  Seven years is good, but it’s not 37.  And as other BLM activists have blatantly admitted, proudly, they don’t care about the past.  MLK was then, this is now.

Each generation needs to find its own voice, so you certainly can understand where BLM comes from.  If I grew up with black parents who were (probably) liberal and followers of Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, and I came of age in world where young black people got shot and nobody seemed to care, I too might reject the world and politics of my parents (not just leftie politics, but the racist political system altogether) and start from scratch.  So I get that.

But black lives matter.  They matter more than white peoples’ feelings (as we often hear), but guess what?  They matter more than black peoples’ feelings, too.  I don’t care that “this ain’t your daddy’s revolution” as many BLM signs and websites like to say.  Fidelity to being “now” — and using social media, and being leaderless, and being angry, and upturning the apple cart, and yada yada yada — that don’t mean shit if doesn’t yield change.

And the problem with BLM is that they waste time reinventing the wheel –thinking that their “new” brand of movement will get things done.  In the meantime, black lives are at stake.  But for some reason, it is more important to close their ears to (or even piss on) natural allies than to be pragmatic about ACTUAL change.

Not that the BLM cares about history, but the phenomenon of self-marginalization isn’t new.  In the 1960s, you had a split between the militant Malcolm X and Martin Luther King.  Both engaged in direct action, so that factor is a wash.  But who was the white power structure more afraid of — (a) Malcolm X and his threat to take democracy into black hands “by any means necessary”, or (b) Martin Luther King with his progressive coalition taking direct action (coupled with his ability to work within the system he was engaging)?

Martin Luther King was the threat.

Why?  Because for all his talk and perceived militancy, Malcolm X had no method, no program, no “means” that would actually bring about long-lasting change.  King, on the other hand, had shown he could move mountains.  And when he crossed Pettus bridge on his way to Selma, it wasn’t just King and the SCLC; it was preachers and volunteers of every religion and race.  (The only person to die in the march to Selma was a white woman).

But BLM doesn’t seem to care about that.  “Coalition politics is sooooo 60 years ago, and we’ve got hashtags now!”  So old farts like Oprah and me, we can sit on the side.  That’s seriously what is going on today.

It’s too bad.  Because social media is great for getting people to look at stuff.  A black girl in Houston gets kneed in the back by a white cop at a pool party in Houston.  Some guy with a cellphone records it.  Bam!!  People all over the world know about it before the day is over.  That’s powerful and an incredible tool to harness.

But one need only look to the Occupy movement to see the shortcomings of relying just on that.  At the end of the day, almost no financial reform came when Occupy took the tents down.  Only one very low level guy has been prosecuted for the intentional financial crimes that resulted in a catastrophic worldwide depression that saw the USA alone lose trillions in net worth, and saw hundreds of thousands of Americans lose their hopes for retirement, or a house, etc.  The best tthat can be said of the Occupy movement is that “income inequality” is a phrase people know, and it is sorta kinda a campaign issue in 2016.

Perhaps that was all the Occupy intended to do, so I won’t say it is a “failure”.  But one thing is certain — by design or by accident, Occupy had no Act Two.

BLM is going the way of Occupy in that they think that simply exposing the problem is the same as fixing it.  Unfortunately, people are aware of the race problem already.  The mainstream media didn’t cover financial shenanigans because it wasn’t sexy and it was hard to understand, but they DO cover race wars.  So the American public is aware of the problem (even conservatives who deny it is a problem are aware of the issue).  At best, you’re either preaching to choir, or just annoying people who will resist you.  At worst, you are annoying your allies.

So BLM needs an Act Two and a way to bring about change.  But they are stuck in Malcolm X mode, engaging in divisive politics that marginalizes themselves, and specifically rejecting coalition movements   That’s unfortunate.

I could probably write another post on what BLM should be doing, but that would take too long.  The thumbnail version is this: act more locally.  Police units operate and the city, county and municipal level.  That’s where the rubber needs to meet the road.  National politics and politicians can only do so much.

So demand “audits” or “report cards” from every police department.  Have specific benchmarks that every law enforcement entity needs to meet.  Some criteria might relate to hiring practices (i.e., does the racial make-up of the police officers reflect that of the population they serve), police distribution (i.e., do minority policemen police minority neighborhoods), data collection (i.e., is information gathered relating to the race of people stopped, frisked, detained, as well as the race of the cop), police training (i.e., prevailing model that is taught — self-protection model vs “protect and serve the public” model), police continuing education, views on use of cameras (not only by police but the public recording the police) and so on.  Require local police departments to issue annual reports on these and other factors.  Form joint legislative-citizen committees to address shortcomings that surface from these reports.  Write and pass local legislation to correct flaws in the system (I, for one, think that government should not be permitted to negotiate with police unions on any issue mentioned above).  And so on.

And if direct action is needed, BLM needs to take direct action at the local level against whatever entity is obstructing it.  But don’t marginalize.  BLM needs to understand, for example, how other groups — say, groups concerned about gun control, or groups concerned about income inequality — have issues that bear directly on the issues that concern BLM.  And bring them in.  Don’t piss them off and shut them out.

That’s what BLM needs to do, at a minimum.

That is, if it cares about black lives.

“Keep your eyes on the prize.”

– Folk song from 1950s and 1960s civil rights movement

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LOOSE THREADS AND AFTERTHOUGHTS:  I thought I would update this post to address a few items I didn’t touch.  Some of them, I think, are obvious, but I seem to keep reading the same thing so….

(1)  “The Seattle protest exposed the white supremacist liberalism that exists.”  Nope.  It really didn’t.  Apparently, some people think that if you boo a rude black person who is stealing the mic, you are booing because the person is black.  Which of course isn’t true.  They were booing because it was rude.  Flashback:

[Kanye] West had said that he was “rude” for interrupting her acceptance speech for Best Female Video. “It was just very rude, period,” West said to Leno. “I’d like to apologize to her in person.”

The people who criticized Kanye weren’t being racist, were they?

Furthermore, go back to the video.  When the protesters call for 4½ minutes of silence for Michael Brown (to symbolize the 4½ hours his body lay on a Ferguson street), the rally organizers raised their hands in support, as did many in the audience.  Yes, there were catcalls and even some slurs (there are always are a few in every crowd).  But to say that it exposed liberal racism?  Based on what?

This isn’t to say that there isn’t white progressive racism.  There is.  Some of it is blatant but exists in small pockets (Yes, certain counties in West Virginia, I am looking at you).  Some of it comes in more subtle forms, like those who insist that they are “colorblind:” and “don’t see race”. That, of course, is its own kind of racism.   Of course, those people exist within all political camps (personally, I have seen more people on the right espouse themselves as “colorblind” than those on the left, but that might just be my experience).  But as I state in the main body of my essay, the forces opposed to what BLM seeks to do are on the right.  And if they visit rallies of THOSE candidates, they will see the racism.  Sanders was an easy target because he was close to the protesters philosophically.  Getting him to condemn racism in BLM language wasn’t like leading a horse to water and forcing him to drink — it was like approaching a horse already drinking from the water.

(2)  “Who cares what the Seattle protesters did?  They were successful, weren’t they?”  Nope.  I’ve already discussed how Sanders had already spoken about the black lives matter before the Seattle protest.  But more than that, some people claim that by focusing on economic injustice, Sanders was avoiding the issue of racial injustice.  That’s simply not true.  Sanders understands, as apparently many BLM supporters do not, that you cannot achieve sweeping revolutionary racial changes unless you address economic injustice.  Race and class are inextricably tied together.

Take two real world examples:  A rich and famous former athlete kills two people in Brentwood, California.  He gets due process of a trial (several trials actually), and retains the best lawyers.  He’s found not guilty.  Compare that to a a guy in Staten Island, New York, who allegedly tried to sell a cigarette on a sidewalk.  He was summarily executed by police who compress his neck and chest until he could no longer breathe.  No trial, no lawyers, no due process guaranteed by the Constitution.  Since both guys were black, you can’t point your fingers at racism.  It has to do with class.

Now, I certainly understand why protesters in the BLM movement would not like it if a presidential candidate (or someone like me) brings up the topic of economic injustice within a dialogue about racial injustice.  It certainly appears like an attempt to skirt the race issue (or even sweep it under the table).  Perhaps that might be considered a “gaffe” by failing to talk about race, instead of economy, to people upset exclusively about race (and who don’t see the economic connection).  But I maintain… unless you are looking for bandaid approaches rather than long term permanent solutions, you need to understand how class and economics play a part in racial injustice.  There are many good books on this issue.

(3)  Black people don’t know what all white people think.  Does this even need to be said?  Any sentence that begins with “White people think that….” is just as prejudiced as a sentence that begins with “Black people think that….”.  I know what a broad brush is, and it is a broad brush no matter who wields it.  It doesn’t help a race movement to make broad-brush statements about someone else’s race.

This is entirely different from pointing out a structure or a political system which benefits one race over another.  That is true and supportable.

So one can say that white people benefit from the current legal and political systems to the detriment of people of color.  But don’t say that all white people want to preserve a system which endows them with white privilege.  That’s simply untrue, and people of color don’t get to ascribe my motives any more than I can accurately ascribe theirs.

In a related vein, don’t claim that the white people at the Sanders event were “inconvenienced”.  That’s spin. Some of them waited a long time to see/hear Sanders.  Some of them wanted to know what he would say.  But in the long run, who cares?  Or “hurt feelings”.  Again, that’s probably not true.  But who cares?  The criticisms against BLM are because BLM is shooting itself in the foot.

(4)  Stop with the ridiculous false comparisons.  Yes, being shot by police is worse than interrupting a political event.  So is dying from breast cancer.  Should the Koman people interrupt a BLM event because dying from breast cancer is worse than a rally?

(5)  What to do, what to do.  Hopefully, the Sanders incident was just a setback for BLM.  Hopefully, they will rethink their broader strategy.  But one should not disparage their efforts completely.  Direct action against those who deny there is a problem (or who take the position that people of color are the problem) will always help.  I don’t mean to turn anyone off to BLM.  They should be a part of YOUR coalition,even if they reject coalition politics.  In that vein, let me point to other organizations worthy of your time and consideration.  Some have been around for a long time.  For example, the Stolen Lives Project and the October 22 Coalition (to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation).

The latter has many local chapters (here’s the one for Greensboro NC) and his calling for a National Day of Protest on October 24.  The event has a wide range of endorsers — from Eve Ensler to Cindy Sheehan (I mention them, because they are white), from the mother of Tamir Rice to the Cornel West.  A coalition.

 

Has Ferguson Gotten Better?

One year after the arrest and killing of Michael Brown, a young unarmed black man, Ferguson seems to be in deeper trouble than ever.  Several investigations, including one by the DOJ, found that the police officer did not act improperly in the shooting of Michael Brown.  BUT the DOJ found that the police department was ethically un-diverse (compared to the general population) and was systematically targeting the minority community for everything from major offenses to traffic violations.  One year on, political leaders have changed or been replaced, but

A year after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown sparked a firestorm in Ferguson, the city is still pumping out thousands of new arrest warrants and jailing people over minor offenses, according to an exclusive CNNMoney analysis.

This practice continues despite a scathing report from the Department of Justice in March that found that Ferguson’s police department and municipal court were unconstitutionally targeting low-income and minority residents with tickets and fines for minor offenses — often in pursuit of revenue. The report noted that there were more than 16,000 people (residents and non-residents alike) with outstanding arrest warrants as of the end of last year, equivalent to around 75% of the town’s population.

While the police were the ones giving out the tickets, the DOJ slammed the city’s court for using arrest warrants to squeeze money out of the people least able to afford the fines. Even though there need to be repercussions for people who break the law and ignore their tickets, the DOJ says jail time is far too harsh a punishment for infractions that rarely pose a major threat to public safety.

But in the wake of the DOJ report, CNNMoney found that Ferguson is still at it. The city has issued more than 2,300 new arrest warrants so far this year and thousands of older warrants continue to haunt people — even as neighboring municipalities are wiping out old tickets or warrants entirely.

The court clerk fired over racist emails that surfaced during the DOJ investigation has a new job with another Missouri court… six miles away from Ferguson.  That’s not progress either.

And this weekend saw violence as well as a shooting.  However, reports suggest that a black man was shooting directly at police cars, and police shot back and seriously wounded him.  If those are the actual facts, I don’t think that can be pinned on police.  People like that…. #nothelping.

But according to news reports, little has changed within the police department.  And it doesn’t look like their tactics have changed much.  On the radio, I heard someone describe the protests this week compared to those from one year ago.  He said, “One year ago it was like 1955; this weekend it was like 1965”.  Meaning… much more chaos.

And speaking of #nothelping, this happened….

As St. Louis County Police stage mass arrests of black protesters for suspicion of possessing weapons, tonight in Ferguson, Missouri, the extreme right wing militia Oath Keepers are stalking the streets openly carrying assault rifles.

oathferg

Why were they there?  They were sent by conspiracy lunatic Alex Jones to protect his “reporters.”  To get a sense of what these guys are about… see the guy in the picture above?  Watch him in the video below:

The race problem meets the rightwing extremism problem.  This has disaster written all over it.

UPDATE:  I read over at Mother Jones this:

During the same time last year, Oath Keeper members took it upon themselves to guard the city’s rooftops with assault rifles. Police officials eventually ordered the group to leave, saying their presence was inciting fear and suspicion in an already tense situation. However, no members were arrested.

I did not know they were there last year as well.  However, I wonder what the police would have done last year (or this year) if it was an armed black militant group on the streets for the same reason.  Would the police simply have “ordered” them to leave…. with no arrests?

Bernie Sanders, #BlackLivesMatter, and The Difference Between Activism and Flaming

A Tough Weekend For Black Lives Matter, says the headline of an article in today’s Atlantic.  And why?  Two things: (1) an officer-involved shooting of a black youth by cops in Ferguson, Missouri at the end of a day of otherwise peaceful protests, and (2) a demonstration at a Bernie Sanders rally in Seattle on Saturday.

The first one was a setback because the youth was reportedly shooting at police cars.  I have little to say about this because it happened late last night, and I’m sure we don’t know all of the facts (also, the first facts that come out of these things are often wrong).  However, if it is true that some black kid was shooting at police cars and they had legal justification to shoot back — yeah, that’s a setback form BLM.  Not, of course, because they condoned or incited the shooting, but it mars the day and the movement as a whole, and gives credence to the BLM haters who say (often in racist tones) that the blacks are at fault and there is no racism problem with law enforcement in that town.  (The DOJ believes differently, but never mind that, right?)

The second matter is, to me, actually troubling.  I’ll let CNN report what happened:

Seconds after Sanders took the stage, a dozen protesters from the city’s Black Lives Matter chapter jumped barricades around the stage and grabbed the microphone from the senator. Holding a banner that said “Smash Racism,” two of the protesters—Marissa Janae Johnson and Mara Jacqeline Willaford, the co-founders of the chapter—began to address the crowd.

“My name is Marissa Janae Johnson, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Seattle,” she said to sustained boos from an audience that had waited an hour and a half to hear Sanders. “I was going to tell Bernie how racist this city is, filled with its progressives, but you already did it for me, thank you.

“You are never going to hear Bernie speak if I don’t hear silence now,” said Johnson, adding later, “Now that you’ve covered yourself in your white supremacist liberalism, I will formally welcome Bernie Sanders to Seattle.”

To sustained boos from the audience that assembled to see Sanders, Johnson demanded that the senator take action on saving black lives and called on him to release his plans to reform policing. “Bernie Sanders, would you please come over here,” she said. Johnson and Willaford demanded—and eventually won—a four-and-a-half-minute-long moment of silence in honor of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager who was killed by an officer in Ferguson, Missouri, a year ago on Sunday. Sanders stood just feet away off stage, chatting with his wife, Jane, and the three aides that came to Seattle with him. Sanders’ aides said the senator had no plans of leaving during the protests, but once Johnson did not appear willing to give up the mic after the moment of silence, organizers effectively shut down the event.

Sanders released a statement in response to the interruption by Johnson and Willaford. “I am disappointed that two people disrupted a rally attended by thousands at which I was invited to speak about fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare,” it read. “I was especially disappointed because on criminal justice reform and the need to fight racism there is no other candidate for president who will fight harder than me.” (The emphasis is mine).

The Atlantic article goes on to opine, “this sort of activism strikes me as a self-inflicted blow to Black Lives Matter.”  Me too.  They did it in part by painting all of Bernie’s audience as “covering themselves in white supremacist liberalism.”

Adventures In Police Framing

Then:

A police officer in Alabama proposed murdering a black resident and creating bogus evidence to suggest the killing was in self-defence, the Guardian has learned.

Officer Troy Middlebrooks kept his job and continues to patrol Alexander City after authorities there paid the man $35,000 to avoid being publicly sued over the incident. Middlebrooks, a veteran of the US marines, said the man “needs a god damn bullet” and allegedly referred to him as “that nigger”, after becoming frustrated that the man was not punished more harshly over a prior run-in.

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Middlebrooks allegedly said “the police were going to pull [Bias] aside on a routine traffic stop and [Bias] would get killed”. According to the lawsuit, which has since been filed to court in a separate ongoing case against the city, this prompted the brother-in-law to retrieve a voice recorder that Bias had been carrying around with him in an attempt to monitor alleged harassment by police, and then return to the conversation with the officer.

On the recording, Middlebrooks is heard suggesting Bias had been behaving threateningly towards his relatives. The officer said if he were in the same position, he would “fucking kill that motherfucker with whatever I had in that fucking house”.

Now:

Some of the contents of Sam DuBose’s car at the time of his death have been identified.

WLWT has confirmed through CPD’s search warrant inventory document that four bags and a jar of marijuana were in Dubose’s car at the time of the July 19 traffic stop that ended in former UC Officer Ray Tensing fatally shooting DuBose.

However, multiple sources have told WLWT officers found a little less than 2 pounds of marijuana.

No officials were immediately able to confirm the amount of marijuana found.

According to reports, the marijuana was found in the car’s center console, under the front passenger seat and on the floor behind the driver’s seat.

Police sources said the street value for the amount of marijuana found in DuBose’s car is  anywhere between $2,000 and $5,000 depending on the quality and the demand.

Police said any marijuana weighing more than two pounds is considered a felony.

Officers said the search warrant was obtained two days after the deadly shooting.

The New Word For “RINO” (And What It Says About Republicans)

In the early 2000s, just as the wars in the Middle East were ramping up, a new word started appearing in the Internet lexicon: RINO.  It stands for “Republican In Name Only”.  It is an insult hurled from Republicans to any member of the GOP who’s more liberal than a Republican “should be”.  Any politician tagged as a RINO — and many were — virtually became extinct in the GOP over the following decade, as fewer and fewer moderate Republicans got re-elected.

There is a new similar phrase floating about.  It is “cuckservative”.  It’s a play on the words “conservative” and “cuckold”. “Cuckold” in this sense has a sexual connotation:

A cuckold, of course, is a legitimate word for the husband of an adulterous wife — but that doesn’t really do justice to what they’re suggesting here, either. The people who throw this term around are most likely referencing a type of pornography whereby a (usually, white) man is “humiliated” (or ironically thrilled) by being forced to watch his wife having sex with another (usually, black) man. I’m not going to link to this, but feel free to Google it.

Being a combination of those two words, a “cuckservative” is a conservative who sells out his racial heritage — i.e., a race traitor.  Underlying the use of the word — which comes up ion debates about immigration reform, criminal justice reform, etc.– id the notion that whites should only support policies that help whites. The goal is to stir up fear among whites — “Don’t be a cuckservative” — and to encourage more tribalism and polarization.

Over at Salon, Joan Walsh is alarmed by the prevalent use of this word, a word rooted in racism and misogyny:

“Cuckservative” started showing up in my Twitter mentions last week, after I suggested Donald Trump supporters might not be the brightest bulbs. As I clicked around, I came to a shocking conclusion: I’ve been uncharacteristically downplaying the amount of racism and misogyny powering the right today. The spread of the epithet “cuckservative” is a sign that the crudest psycho-sexual insecurity animates the far right….

This is not merely a new way to shout “RINO.” It’s a call to make the GOP an explicitly racist party, devoted to the defense of whites. It’s no accident it’s taken off in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign launch/performance art, where he attacked illegal Mexican immigrants as “rapists” and “criminals.”

White nationalist Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute explained Trump’s appeal to Dave Weigel: “a) he is a tougher, superior man than ‘conservatives’ (which isn’t saying much), and b) he seems to grasp the demographic displacement of European-Americans on a visceral level. We see some hope there.”

Rush Limbaugh helped spread the term to the mainstream when he praised Trump like this: “If Trump were your average, ordinary, cuckolded Republican, he would have apologized by now, and he would have begged for forgiveness, and he would have gone away.”

The folks behind the term are also wildly anti-Semitic. Huckabee became a popular target after he claimed President Obama’s Iran deal was “marching Israelis to the ovens.” The guys who bray “cuckservative” hate Obama, of course, but they may hate Israel more.

These are the people that 17 presidential candidates are catering to.  And not one of them as the decency to say enough is enough.

U.C. Officer shoots and kills Sam DuBose

Ray Tensing is the first officer in Cincinnati to face murder charges for killing someone in the line of duty.

The video proved to be crucial evidence to the grand jurors who indicted Tensing, and it stunned city officials, prosecutors and the relatives of shooting victim Samuel DuBose.

It also was a reminder that video, whether captured by witnesses on smart phones or by police officers themselves, is transforming the way fatal encounters involving police are investigated and perceived around the nation.

“It’s an absolute tragedy that anyone would behave in this manner,” Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said after publicly releasing the video. “It was senseless. It’s just horrible.

“He purposefully killed him.”

The video shows that Tensing, who stopped DuBose in Mount Auburn on July 19 for driving without a front license plate, speaks to him for a little less than two minutes before the fatal shot is fired.

When Tensing asks DuBose to take off his seat belt, DuBose says “I didn’t even do nothing” and turns his ignition key, starting the car. Tensing then reaches into the car with one hand and, with the other, fires a single shot into DuBose’s head.

DuBose did not appear to be belligerent or aggressive toward the officer before the shot was fired, though his lawyer, Stew Mathews, said Tensing feared he would be run over.

Mathews said charging his client with murder was “absolutely unwarranted.” He said he expected an indictment, but on lesser charges. “Murder is the purposeful killing of another,” Mathews said. “There wasn’t any purpose to kill this fella.”

Tensing, 25, faces 15 years to life in prison if he’s convicted.

Tensing claimed he was “dragged” by DuBose’s vehicle following an altercation during a routine traffic stop, and was therefore forced to open fire, shooting DuBose once in the head.

The conservatives at Legal Insurrection have tried to somehow come to Tensing’s defense with a breakdown of the video.  Certainly, their argument is likely to parallel that of Tensing’s attorneys at trial, i.e., Tensing had a reasonable fear that he would be dragged and since that fear was reasonable, he had a right to shoot in self-defense.  I don’t think that’s what the video reveals, and even the Legal Insurrection folks can’t make that claim stick

What’s worse for Tensing is what happens in the aftermath of the shooting, but still caught on the full video (not in the particular video above).  As The Guardian pointed out, you could see Tensing’s co-officers start to justify the shooting with amounts to be an obvious lie:

A Guardian analysis of the nearly 28 minutes’ worth of Tensing’s body-camera footage released by the prosecutor’s office also shows the aftermath of the shooting and reveals that on three occasions, two other police officers repeat Tensing’s account that he was dragged by DuBose, and one of these officers claims to have witnessed it occurring.

Tensing repeats, multiple times throughout the footage, the claim that he was dragged by DuBose’s vehicle. But at five minutes and 44 seconds into the video, he states: “I think I’m OK. He was just dragging me.”

To which a second officer, who stands out of the frame, replies: “Yeah, I saw that.”

Tensing continues: “I thought I was going to get run over. I was trying to stop him.”

Then, at six minutes and 54 seconds into the footage, while Tensing is seemingly conversing with the same officer, he states: “He was dragging me, man.”

The officer replies, “Yeah.” To which Tensing continues: “I got my hand and my arm caught inside.” The officer then replies, “Yeah, I saw that.”

The identity of this officer is not immediately clear. A copy of the University of Cincinnati police division’s information report on the shooting names university police officer Phillip Kidd as a witness to the entire event.

The information report, written by UC police officer Eric Weibel, states: “Officer Kidd told me that he witnessed the Honda Accord [DuBose’s vehicle] drag Officer Tensing, and that he witnessed Officer Tensing fire a single shot.”

Weibel’s report continues: “Looking at Officer Tensing’s uniform, I could see that the back of his pants and shirt looked as if it had been dragged over a rough surface.”

About 14 minutes into the video, while Tensing is still at the site of the shooting, but has now moved further away from DuBose’s crashed car, he is instructed by a third officer to indicate where the altercation had started.

This officer appears to be a member of the Cincinnati police department and wears a sergeant’s lapel on his arm. He states: “You can talk about anything you want except for what happened [sic]. The only thing that I ask of you is where did it start?”

Tensing replies: “I initiated the traffic stop at Vine and Thill.”

The two officers then clarify the direction Tensing was driving. The sergeant then states: “And, it looks like you got dragged if I’m understanding, looking …”

To which Tensing replies: “Yes.”

Tensing has pled not guilty.  It’s not clear whether the other officers are being investigated for complicity or conspiracy after the fact.  But they should be.

New Sandra Bland Revelations

This just came out:

Sandra Bland, the black woman found hanging dead in a Texas jail days after a traffic stop, smoked or possibly swallowed a large amount of marijuana while in custody, her family’s attorney reported the district attorney as saying.

Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis made the disclosure in a text message to attorney Cannon Lambert, who has called the state’s autopsy on the Chicago-area woman defective, Lambert said.

“Looking at the autopsy results and toxicology, it appears she swallowed a large quantity of marijuana or smoked it in the jail,” Mathis said in a text message to Lambert that the attorney provided to Reuters.

Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the text. Repeated calls to Mathis’ office were not returned.

“This will of course be very relevant in any future criminal or civil litigation,” the message from Mathis to Lambert said.

This doesn’t look good for the police of Waller county.  Even if actual murder is a leap, we KNOW this:

(1)  The dashcam, nor the eyewitness video, supports the officer’s account of what happened.  We don’t see her assaulting the officer.

(2)  The arrest was unwarranted.  Bland was under no legal obligation to extinguish the cigarette in her own car, even with a traffic stop.

(3)  If, as the Waller county police assert, Sandra Bland had attempted suicide in the past (she told them in her admittance paperwork), they should have put her on a suicide watch.  They did not do this.

(4)  If the toxicology of the autopsy is correct, how did marijuana get in her cell?

UPDATE – several hours later:

Medical examiners ruled the death of Sandra Bland a suicide by hanging, and the autopsy uncovered no evidence of a violent struggle,according to the Texas prosecutor Warren Diepraam, the first assistant district attorney of Waller County:

Diepraam said there were no defensive injuries on Bland’s hands. He said there were about 30 cuts on her wrists, and that the scarring suggests they were made two to four weeks ago, well before her arrest.

Diepraam said that toxicology tests found marijuana in Bland’s system, but he said further tests would be necessary to determine when she ingested it.

Jail intake forms filled out for Bland appear to show that she told jailers she tried to commit suicide last year, and that she had been “very depressed” in the past. But the answers on the forms are inconsistent.

Apparently, reporters were walked through graphic photos.  There is a concurrent investigation going on as to what happened at the roadside.

 

Updates To Sandra Bland Death Including Possible Dash Cam Edits

Background is here — Unfortunately, not a new story.  Black person gets pulled over in a southern town and dies in police custody.  The person was Sandra Bland, a vibrant educated 28 year old woman from outside Chicago, who as down in Houston for a job interview, which she got.  After a verbal exchange with police following a traffic stop for failing to change lanes on July 10, she was arrested.  She was dead 3 days later.  Police say she hanged herself with a plastic bag inside the Waller County Jail.

There was video of the arrest from a passerby.  We now have the police dashcam video.  Here it is in full:

Yeah, I know it’s 52 minutes.  So I understand if you don’t want to watch.

But there is something funky about the video…. in two places.

At one point, a tow truck driver exits his vehicle and walks around State Trooper Brian Encinia’s car. Within seconds, the truck driver is seen making the same exit and walk, but Encinia, who can be heard recalling the traffic stop encounter in detail, is uninterrupted.

Minutes later, a white car appears on the screen and disappears two times, before reemerging and making a left turn.

In both cases, audio of Encinia’s voice continues without interruption. Watch the two clips:

One explanation could be that the equipment was faulty, but authorities have agreed to investigate whether or not officers tampered with the evidence.

My sense it is not edited, if only because it so obvious and bad.  But we’ll find out.

Of greater concern, is what wasn’t edited out of the video.  What you have his this officer following and following Bland, as if looking for a pretext to pull her over.  Driving while black, anyone?  And then she fails to make a signal while changing lanes.  And he pounces.  Bam!

And then, contrary to arresting officer’s affidavit that Bland “was swinging her elbows at me and then kicked my right leg in the shin,” causing “pain in my right leg and small cuts on my right hand,” the video clearly shows Brian Encinia being unnecessarily hostile to Bland — who is, by her own admission, annoyed that he had tailed her until he could manufacture a reason for pulling her over.

Encinia aggressively enters her vehicle, telling her that he will “yank you out of her” if she doesn’t comply with his directive “to step out of the car.”

“Step out or I will remove you,” he said.

“I’m getting removed for a failure to signal?” she asked.

“Get out of the car or I will remove you,” he replied.

“I’m calling my lawyer,” she said.

“I’m going to yank you out of here,” Encinia replied, and proceeded to do exactly that, at which point the situation quickly escalated.

A FURTHER THOUGHT:  Over at FDL, a blogger makes a reasonable argument why police may be culpable, even if the death was a suicide.

Another Jailed Black Person “Hangs Herself”

Are you buying this?

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According to authorities, an 18-year-old girl hanged her self in an Alabama jail. The inmate has been identified as Kindra Darnell Chapman by the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office.

Chapman was arrested on a first-degree-robbery charge for allegedly taking a cellphone and booked at Homewood City Jail Tuesday around 6:22 p.m., AL.com reports. She was last seen alive at 6:30 p.m by jailers and found unresponsive at 7:50 p.m. Officials report that Chapman used a bed sheet to hang herself.

Chapman was pronounced dead at Brookwood Medical Center. Homewood police are currently investigating this death.

This was Tuesday, the same day the story broke about Sandra Bland.

Now, we know very little about the facts.  But check it out.  Assuming the allegations are true, she hung herself because of a cellphone.  And while you are mulling the probability of that, consider that she was only in the 80 minutes between when she was last seen and when she was found dead, this girl had figured out and executed her own suicide with resources in the cell.

Is it all possible?  Sure.  But this is Alabama.

UPDATE:  I found this picture of her… a fuller one of the picture above.

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Apparently, Kindra was pretty bad-ass.  (I found other pictures of her making the same gesture).

And a picture of her apparently with a gun.

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Although, these pictures make it LESS likely that this girl would kill herself.  Obviously, she wasn’t weak.  I’ll bet she gave some sass.

The Suspicious Death Of Sandy Bland

28-year-old Sandra Bland (also called Sandy).  She was visiting Texas from Naperville, Illinois (a Chicago suburb) to interview for a college job at her alma mater of Prairie View A&M.  She got the job.

On July 10, she tweeted this:

A view hours later, she was pulled over for a routine traffic violation (failure to use her turn signal).  Stories vary, but the police claim she was combative. The story ends this way: Sandy Bland died in a Texas holding cell on or around July 13, 2015:

Sandra Bland was found dead in a Waller County, Texas, jail cell on Monday at 9 a.m. after being arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer during a routine traffic stop, the I-Team has learned. Authorities say her death appears to be suicide. In numerous emails and phone calls to the ABC7 I-Team, her friends and relatives say they do not believe the official version of what happened and say this is a case of foul play in a county with a history racial intolerance.

Here’s a video that surfaced, purportedly depicting Bland’s July 10 arrest:

The full uncut video is here.

Quotes taken from the footage suggested that Bland objected to rough handling by the officer or officers who arrested her, and she’s quoted as saying:

You just slammed my head into the ground. Do you not even care about that? I can’t even hear! … You slammed me into the ground and everything.

statement two days ago about Bland’s July 13 death in custody was published by the Waller County Sheriff’s Office to their Facebook page. The statement confirmed that Bland was arrested on July 10 (purportedly for failing to signal a lane change):

On Monday, July 13th, at approximately 09:00 am, a female inmate was found in her cell not breathing from what appears to be self-inflicted asphyxiation. CPR was immediately started and Waller County EMS notified. She was pronounced deceased a short time later. In order to maintain the integrity of the investigation, the Texas Rangers were immediately notified to conduct the death investigation. The Texas Commission on Jail Standards, Texas Attorney General and Waller County District Attorney’s Offices were notified. The name of the female is being withheld at this time while investigators speak with family members from another state. She was arrested on Friday, July 10th, for Assault on a Public Servant by a DPS Trooper and booked into the Waller County Jail. Sheriff R Glenn Smith states that any loss of life is a tragic incident and while the investigation is being conducted by outside agencies, the Waller County Sheriff’s Office will continue to observe the daily operations of the jail to always look for improvements and/or preventions of these incidents.

Oh.  Sheriff Glenn Smith thinks it is a “tragic incident”, does he?  Well, Sheriff Glenn Smith was fired from his job as police chief in Hempstead, Texas, after racism allegations were made against him and four of his officers, the Houston Chronicle reported.

He was fired in 2008 and elected shortly after by Waller County to be its sheriff.

Daily Kos columnist Shaun King has also reported that there have been other suicides recently at the county jail.

If that’s true, that doesn’t bode well.

LaNitra Dean, a friend of Bland’s, was one of many who told the ABC affiliate in Chicago they were skeptical of the circumstances under which Bland died:

The Waller County Jail is trying to rule her death a suicide and Sandy would not have taken her own life. Sandy was strong. Strong mentally and spiritually.

Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis told the outlet that he didn’t “have any information that would make [him] think [Bland’s death] was anything other than just a suicide.” Thousands of social media users signed a Change.org petition calling for the Department of Justice to do an autopsy on Sandra Bland.

A little more on Sandra Bland:

sandrabland1

She had degrees. She belonged to a Black Greek Organization. She was employed. And she was about to start a new job.  Does this strike you as someone who would hang themselves in a cell?

Bland’s Facebook page shows that she was active in the Black Lives Matter movement and often posted about police brutality and racial injustice, including in videos she called “Sandy Speaks,” where she opined on race issues.

And about an hour ago:

Chicago media says:

FBI officials tell the ABC7 I-Team that agents are aware of the case and coordinating with local authorities. The Texas Rangers are currently investigating.

“They are monitoring the local investigation until it’s complete,” an FBI official said. That is the standard procedure, she said

RIP Confederate Flag (In South Carolina)

After a contentious and often emotional debate in the SC House, with a lot of political wrangling (and attachments of bill-killing amendments, all of which failed), Governor Nikki Haley signed the bill yesterday, and the flag came down today

Well, that only took 5+ decades.

Here in North Carolina, they took down the Confederate flag from inside the state capitol building after complaints from civil rights leaders…. back in April 2013.  There wasn’t a lot of hullabaloo about it.  A couple of weeks ago, the NC Governor urged the legislature to pass a law to end the official designation of “civic club” for the Sons of Confederate Veterans organization and to stop issuing plates with the C.S. flag emblazoned on them.

But as of now, you can still get a license plate with the confederate flag on it.  Well, not RIGHT now.  There’s been a rush in the past couple weeks and the DMV is sold out (for the moment).

And there are other movements in other Southern states.

Alabama

Gov. Robert Bentley ordered that four Confederate flags be removed from a monument on the state’s capitol grounds last week — a move that came after a Democratic lawmaker filed a bill that would have done just that.

But 1,000 flag supporters rallied at the Statehouse on Saturday, flying hundreds of Confederate flags and claiming its removal is an affront to their southern heritage.

Georgia

Gov. Nathan Deal’s administration late last week halted the use of specialty license plates created by the state for the Sons of Confederate Veterans that featured the Confederate flag.

Mississippi

State House Speaker Philip Gunn said last week that the state’s current flag — which features the Confederate stars and stripes in its upper left corner — should be changed. But Mississippi voted in a 2001 referendum to keep the Confederate flag in place as part of its state flag. Lawmakers are unlikely to change it until a new legislative session begins in January.

Tennessee

Gov. Bill Haslam has said the Confederate flag should be removed from Tennessee’s Sons of Confederate Veterans specialty license plates. But proposals to end the specialty plates, at least, won’t be discussed until the state legislature meets again early next year.

Haslam has also called for the state to remove a bust of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Ku Klux Klan founder and slave trader, from the Capitol.

Virginia

Gov. Terry McAuliffe ordered an end to Sons of Confederate Veterans specialty license plates that, like Georgia’s and Tennessee’s, featured the Confederate emblem.

Rand Paul on Taxes and Slavery

Rand Paul recently spoke in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and to draw a line from taxes to slavery:

“Now you can have some government, we all need government,” the Kentucky senator said while discussing Thomas Paine and the role of government at the local public library. “Thomas Paine said that government is a necessary evil. What did he mean by that?”Paul said he believes that “you have to give up some of your liberty to have government,” saying he was “for some government.”

“I’m for paying some taxes,” continued Paul. “But if we tax you at 100% then you’ve got zero percent liberty. If we tax you at 50% you are half slave, half free. I frankly would like to see you a little freer and a little more money remaining in your communities so you can create jobs. It’s a debate we need to have.”

Nnnnno.

Slaves sitting around and complaining about their high tax rate.

Slaves sitting around and complaining about their high tax rate.

Quote Of The Day

Mike Huckabee on a radio show interrupts himself in response to a question about same-sex marriage:

Because if you equate same-sex marriage to a civil right — First of all, what an insult to African-Americans, who were hosed in the street, who were beaten, who were truly discriminated against with separate restrooms, separate drinking fountains, separate entrances. That was true discrimination and it was horrible. It’s hard to say that the redefinition of marriage is on the same basis as was racial discrimination throughout our history.

Right.  Because a white guy who supports the Confederate flag is all of a sudden an expert on what is offensive to black people.

Also, since the quote came up in the context of same-sex marriage, I’mma put this here.  Happened a couple days ago at a street/music festival in Columbus, Ohio.