I publish an "Editorial and Opinion Blog", Editorial and Opinion. My News Blog is @ News . I have a Jazz Blog @ Jazz and a Technology Blog @ Technology. My domain is Armwood.Com @ Armwood.Com.
What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White
Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.
This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.
Saturday, March 31, 2018
Gaza-Israel border calm one day after deadly protests - YouTube
"The Gaza Strip is reeling from the bloodiest episode in years after Israeli forces killed more than a dozen people during demonstrations near the frontier. Gazans had gathered as part of a “Great March of Return” protest demanding refugees and their descendants be allowed to return to their ancestral homes in Israel.
It was the start of a six-week sit-in, and was advertised as a peaceful protest, expected to continue until 15 May when Palestinians commemorate the roughly 700,000 people who either fled or were expelled from their homes in the war surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948. As Israeli snipers opened fire, it quickly turned into bloody chaos..."
On Saturday, as the coffins made their slow sad progress, mourners thronged the narrow thoroughfares, demanding “revenge”.
The Gaza Strip mourns its dead after protest is met with bullets | World news | The Guardian Gaza-Israel border calm one day after deadly protests - YouTube
New video released of Alton Sterling shooting - under the color of law with no consequences to the perpetrators. This is why I have not said the "Pledge of Allegiance" or sung the "National Anthem" since the 8th grade. Only a fool has loyalty to their enemies. "It appears that my worst fears have been realized, we have made progress in everything yet nothing has changed". Derrick Bell
Alton Sterling shot by officer within 90 seconds videos show - "It appears that my worst fears have been realized, we have made progress in everything yet nothing has changed". Derrick Bell
Census question on citizenship sparks widespread backlash The new census question on citizenship has sparked a widespread backlash, with our guest telling Joy Reid, ‘if the census is corrupted, all of American democracy is corrupted as a result.’ #ResistanceIsNotFutile
When Bail Feels Less Like Freedom, More Like Extortion - The New York Times
"As commercial bail has grown into a $2 billion industry, bond agents have become the payday lenders of the criminal justice world, offering quick relief to desperate customers at high prices. When clients like Mr. Egana cannot afford to pay the bond company’s fee to get them out, bond agents simply loan them the money, allowing them to go on a payment plan.
But bondsmen have extraordinary powers that most lenders do not. They are supposed to return their clients to jail if they skip court or do something illegal. But some states give them broad latitude to arrest their clients for any reason — or none at all. A credit card company cannot jail someone for missing a payment. A bondsman, in many instances, can.
Using that leverage, bond agents can charge steep fees, some of which are illegal, with impunity, according to interviews and a review of court records and complaint data. They can also go far beyond the demands of other creditors by requiring their clients to check in regularly, keep a curfew, allow searches of their car or home at any time, and open their medical, Social Security and phone records to inspection.
They keep a close eye on their clients, but in many places, no one is keeping a close eye on them.
“It’s a consumer protection issue,” said Judge Lee V. Coffee, a criminal court judge in Memphis. Before recent changes to the rules there, he said, defendants frequently complained of shakedowns in which bondsmen demanded extra payments. “They’re living under a constant daily threat that ‘if you don’t bring more money, we’re going to put you in jail.’” The pressure, the judge said, “would actually encourage people to go out and commit more crimes.”
Unlike payday lenders, the bail bond industry deals with potential criminals whose very involvement with the law raises questions about their trustworthiness. But in the United States criminal justice system, the Supreme Court has affirmed, liberty before trial is supposed to be the norm, not the exception — the system is intended to allow defendants to stay out of jail.
Bail bond practices have drawn the ire of judges who complain that payment plans are too lenient on people accused of serious crimes, allowing them to get out for just a few hundred dollars or even no money down. Those judges say it should be more difficult for the accused to walk free."
When Bail Feels Less Like Freedom, More Like Extortion - The New York Times: "
Friday, March 30, 2018
The bitter lie behind the census’s citizenship question - The Washington Post
"Not only is the constitutionally mandated census central to apportioning political power at every level of our representative form of government, but also the data collected influences the allocation of more than $675 billionin federal funds every year, along with countless policy and investment decisions by government agencies, nonprofit organizations and private enterprise.
The Supreme Court in 2016 ruled unanimously that “representatives serve all residents, not just those eligible or registered to vote,” and the Constitution makes clear that the census has a clear purpose: to count all U.S. residents, regardless of background, as the basis for the apportionment of political power. The Census Bureau spent most of this decade responding to this mandate, leading painstaking research, technology development and question testing. With their belated interference, Trump and Sessions are upending this meticulous preparation.
The harm from this decision, if it’s not reversed, will be expensive and long-lasting. This cavalier action will drive down response rates and drive up costs, as the Census Bureau tries to incorporate this untested question with little time to spare, develop new communications and outreach strategies, plan for the expanded field operation and count the millions of people who will be more reluctant to participate because of the addition of this controversial question.
Even before this disastrous decision, local officials and community leaders were deeply concerned about the difficulty of achieving a robust response in some communities, given a political climate in which immigrants are demonized and families live in fear of loved ones being plucked off the streets and deported. Adding a question about citizenship status into the mix can only heighten suspicions, depress response rates and sabotage the accuracy of the 2020 count. This decision would affect everyone, with communities that are already at greater risk of being undercounted — including people of color, young children, and low-income rural and urban residents — suffering the most.
What is the benefit here? The false justification offered by Sessions and his Justice Department, and repeated in Ross’s decision memo, is that this question is critical for Voting Rights Act enforcement. That argument is a bitter lie, laced with cruel irony. Consider that this is the same Sessions who has called the Voting Rights Act “intrusive” and has shown no compunction in flouting voting rights enshrined in law..."
The bitter lie behind the census’s citizenship question - The Washington Post
E.P.A. Prepares to Roll Back Rules Requiring Cars to Be Cleaner and More Efficient - The New York Times
E.P.A. Prepares to Roll Back Rules Requiring Cars to Be Cleaner and More Efficient - The New York Times
Wednesday, March 28, 2018
The Left’s Embrace of Empire - The history of the left in the United States is a history of betrayal. | The Nation
"Bret Stephens, arguably the most hawkish voice at The Wall Street Journal throughout the George W. Bush and Barack Obama presidencies, now occupies an even more prominent perch at The New York Times. Bari Weiss, also formerly of the Journal, has also moved to the Times, despite a history of smearing Muslim and Arab professors. And Max Boot, yet another Journal veteran, has been rewarded with columnist status at The Washington Post for his intrepid defense of America’s wars. A similar pattern can be discerned across network television and public radio, where proponents of American hegemony—ranging from former Bush speechwriter David Frum to founder of The Weekly Standard Bill Kristol to editor in chief of The Atlantic Jeffrey Goldberg to former US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power and a daunting litany of national-security-state officials—are presented as wise sages.
Evangelicals insist Trump 'has changed' since alleged porn star affair. Hypocrisy is inherent in their legalistic belief system. Their Christian revisionist theology based on the centrality of faith as opposed to Jesus's teachings of good works was condemned according to the Gospels. His highest condemnation was for the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. Evangelicals theology is based upon the same legalistic belief system that led Jesus to call them hypocrites and vipers.
Why Conservative Evangelicals Like Trump - The Atlantic
"At the end of The Evangelicals, her nearly 700-page history of white evangelical Americans from colonial times to the present, Frances FitzGerald settles on the last of these assessments. “The simplest explanation was that those evangelicals who voted for Trump had affinities with the Tea Party,” she writes. They seemed to care more about shrinking the government, creating jobs, and deporting illegal immigrants than about enforcing Christian morals. “The Trump victory had shown,” she goes on, “that the Christian right had lost its power.” Yet FitzGerald’s careful account offers grist for a much richer exploration of evangelicals’ affinity with Trump..
Fitzgerald begins with the great revivals of the early 18th century, which brought forth evangelicalism as we know it today, more or less. The emphasis on the literal truth of the Bible, the focus on the born-again experience, and the swarm of entrepreneurial evangelists whom no Old World church hierarchy could control—the basics of evangelical culture were in place 300 years ago.
She follows this story through the rise of the Christian right in the 1970s and ’80s, and evangelicals’ role in politics today. Synthesizing a wide range of scholarship, FitzGerald offers no major argument of her own, but she reveals long-standing patterns in evangelical politics and leadership. Her overview, in tandem with an array of more pointed books on the subject, suggests that evangelical support for Trump is not a deviation at all—not a sign of hypocrisy or declining influence. On the contrary, that 81 percent figure makes perfect sense.
Late in her book, as FitzGerald recounts evangelical activists’ embrace of the Tea Party movement during the Obama years, she deems the alliance “unlikely,” at least “from a historical perspective.” In fact, the partnership between white Protestants and libertarians dates back at least to the American Revolution. In the 18th century, evangelical Christians had plenty of company among their fellow colonists in decrying the king’s abuse of power. But evangelical preachers fused their commitment to freedom from “civil tyranny” with a demand for the spiritual freedom to decide, without political coercion, to accept Christ. “There is not a single instance in history in which civil liberty was lost and religious liberty preserved entire,” preached John Witherspoon, a Presbyterian minister with evangelical sympathies who signed the Declaration of Independence. “If therefore we yield up our temporal property, we at the same time deliver the conscience into bondage.”
Evangelicals in the early republic nurtured a deep suspicion of an encroaching federal government, and many were happy to collaborate with heterodox politicians who felt the same way. Thomas Jefferson may have taken a razor to his personal copy of the Gospels, excising the tales of miracles, but he had friends among the Baptists, who supported his campaign to enshrine religious freedom into law. Trump is not the first politically useful infidel to find allies in the evangelical world.
The point is that American evangelical religion was born in a revolutionary state. This founding moment of rebellion against big government left evangelicals keenly aware of the fragility of personal liberty—and the capacity of centralized power to snuff it out. Over time, the conservative evangelical vision of spiritual liberty fused with free-market ideology. Recent research has called attention to the collaborative efforts of capitalists and evangelical ministers to convince Americans that the free market is sacred. In the late 19th century, Darren E. Grem notes in The Blessings of Business (2016), businessmen recruited evangelical organizations to help them pacify a restive labor force. “Either these people are to be evangelized, or the leaven of communism and infidelity will assume such enormous proportions that it will break out in a reign of terror such as this country has never known,” warned the evangelist Dwight L. Moody in 1886.
The labor unrest of the turn of the 20th century, the Great Depression, and the New Deal hardly appear in FitzGerald’s book, but those decades of economic disaster and reform are crucial to explaining conservative white evangelical politics through the rest of the century, as well as the embrace of Trump. By the time the Roosevelt administration began to transform the federal government’s relationship to American capitalism, millions of Catholic, Jewish, and Eastern European immigrants had settled in the United States. Large numbers of African Americans began migrating north and agitating for civil rights. Many white evangelicals feared they were losing control over the nation’s culture. By redistributing wealth to the poor—including so many foreign-born arrivals and African Americans—the New Deal threatened to undermine that authority even further. Opposition to Soviet Russia provided a perfect rallying cry: The country represented the godless, totalitarian end toward which the New Deal might lead.
In One Nation Under God (2015), Kevin M. Kruse probes the alliance between leading industrialists and the Los Angeles preacher James W. Fifield Jr. In 1935, Fifield co-founded an organization called Spiritual Mobilization to battle the New Deal’s “encroachment upon our American freedoms.” His propaganda campaign, funded by donations from tycoons like the tire magnate Harvey Firestone and J. Howard Pew Jr. of Sun Oil, dazzled Americans with radio spots and Independence Day media blitzes celebrating “freedom under God.” Mailings encouraged ministers to warn their flocks of the “anti-Christian and anti-American trends toward pagan stateism in America.”
Fifield and his allies did not succeed in dismantling the New Deal. But by the 1950s, Billy Graham was rallying huge crowds with his dark predictions about the communist menace, an ideology “masterminded by Satan,” he said in 1957. “Graham sometimes invoked Communism as part of an end times prophecy,” FitzGerald writes, “and at other times as part of a jeremiad in which Americans had a choice to make.” In blending their movement’s libertarian inclinations with anticommunist hysteria and anxieties about cultural change, these evangelical leaders helped catalyze the most powerful ideology in modern American politics: Christian free-market mania. Evangelicals in other countries, such as Canada, worked alongside secular Social Democrats to build a generous social safety net. In the United States, conservative white Protestants ensured that the welfare state remained anemic.
At the same time, conservative white evangelicals have a long record of being highly pragmatic, rather than purist, in their libertarianism. Throughout American history, they have been more than happy to use the tools of the federal government to protect their own authority and advance a moral agenda—as they did, for example, during the campaign for Prohibition. This selective libertarianism continues to thrive. Trump’s promises to “drain the swamp” resonate with deeply rooted suspicion of big government, but conservative evangelicals applaud his more intrusive proposals as well. Today, many on the religious right find themselves on the losing side of global capitalism, and they don’t want anyone messing with their Social Security or Medicare.
Trump’s threats to curb free trade and punish journalists may make real libertarians apoplectic. And his initial executive order restricting immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries outraged some prominent evangelical organizations and leaders who lamented the order’s unbiblical abandonment of refugees. But other influential evangelicals, such as Billy Graham’s son Franklin, support Trump’s policy. The president’s isolationist approach plays well among Americans who believe that the time has come to restore the capitalist order as God intended it to be: with native-born white Americans on top.
In any case, ideology is not the sole bond between conservative evangelicals and Donald Trump. His dictator-lite charisma is essential to his appeal. To the majority of Americans—those who did not vote for him—Trump has all the allure of the boorish boss who takes too many liberties at the staff Christmas party. But his authoritarian machismo is right in step with a long evangelical tradition of pastor-overlords who anoint themselves with the power to make their own rules—and, in the event of their own occasional moral lapses, assure their followers that God always forgives.
Other forms of Christianity, like Roman Catholicism and many strains of liberal Protestantism, feature formidable Church structures: diocesan councils and synods, hierarchies and protocols that help keep rogues and would-be autocrats in line. In the evangelical world, these institutions are generally much less powerful—or nonexistent. FitzGerald chronicles the imperial ambitions of ministers like the Midwestern fundamentalist William Bell Riley and Jerry Falwell, a prime mover behind the Moral Majority. “Those who had built up their own churches or Bible schools,” she writes,“were rulers of their own fiefdoms.”
Down through the decades, more than a few of these figures, FitzGerald observes, have squelched dissent or scandal with little concern for the opinion of denominational bureaucrats. In a tradition that has always prized “soul liberty” and spiritual autonomy, American evangelicals have sometimes shown a strong preference for leaders who demand unquestioning obedience—and who, like Trump, consider disagreement a form of disloyalty.
Nowhere is this tendency more obvious than in the evangelical subculture that nurtured Donald Trump himself: the prosperity gospel. When Trump was a child, his family attended Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, pastored by Norman Vincent Peale, a celebrity minister whose influence radiated throughout evangelical circles and beyond. He was one of the most famous proponents of a spiritual style sometimes called the “Health and Wealth” gospel or “Name It and Claim It” faith.
Praying for a new car or a promotion may sound “shockingly materialistic,” FitzGerald writes. But for believers, prosperity theology means that the material world has “a miraculous, God-filled quality.” Its basic tenets appear throughout the Bible—the notion that God answers prayers, rewards believers with worldly blessings, and punishes those who don’t keep the faith. And then, like most heresies, it pushes such orthodox teaching to an extreme. Imagine that your desired reality is true, Peale urged believers. His handy slogan: “Prayerize, picturize, actualize.” Peale, the dean of “the power of positive thinking,” would have understood Trump’s penchant for inventing his preferred reality.
God never goes back on his word. According to many prosperity-gospel preachers, if you don’t get that new job you prayed for, then you didn’t pray sincerely enough, live righteously enough—or give generously enough to your church. The Florida mega-church pastor Paula White, who is frequently called the president’s “spiritual adviser” (and, like him, is on her third marriage), encourages her followers to donate generously to her ministry, and to expect financial returns. “When you give the ‘firstfruits of your increase,’ as the Word says, your ‘barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will OVERFLOW,’ ” her website promises.
Trump perfected his own brand of prosperity ministry in the ad campaigns for the now-defunct Trump University. “I’ll show you how to turn this sizzling opportunity into a tidal wave of profits,” one 2007 newspaper advertisement read. The candidate who specialized in ludicrous promises has continued that magical thinking now that he’s in office, as he vows to create “25 million new jobs” and insists that he can replace Obamacare with “a much better health-care plan at much less money.”
Throughout the 2016 campaign, historians suggested a range of analogies to explain Trump’s growing popularity. Did his momentum resemble the rise of fascism in 1930s Germany? Do his despotic tendencies and sensitive ego remind us of Napoleon? Maybe Henry VIII? Distant echoes are always tantalizing. The truth is that Trump’s victory—especially his popularity among conservative white evangelicals—has sources closer to home. His ascendancy was certainly galvanized by a 21st-century whirl of social media and global economic discontent. But in the end, Trump won over evangelicals—and won the election—because he exploited beliefs and fears with origins deep in America’s past."
Why Conservative Evangelicals Like Trump - The Atlantic
Tuesday, March 27, 2018
At Least Twelve States to Sue Trump Administration Over Census Citizenship Question - The New York Times - The Trump Administration is blatantly violating Article Section 2 of the Constitution.
"WASHINGTON — At least 12 states signaled Tuesday that they would sue to block the Trump administration from adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 census, arguing that the change would cause fewer Americans to be counted and violate the Constitution.
New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said he was leading a multistate lawsuit to stop the move, and officials in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington said they would join the effort. The State of California filed a separate lawsuit late Monday night.
“The census is supposed to count everyone,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. “This is a blatant and illegal attempt by the Trump administration to undermine that goal, which will result in an undercount of the population and threaten federal funding for our state and cities.”
The Constitution requires that every resident of the United States be counted in a decennial census, whether or not they are citizens. The results are used not just to redraw political boundaries from school boards to House seats, but to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal grants and subsidies to where they are needed most. Census data provide the baseline for planning decisions made by corporations and governments alike."
The Trump Administration is blatantly violating Article Section 2 of the Constitution. The Constitution is not a sacred document. As you can see by the following quotation the Constitution is an inherently racist document but the what Trump is doing is illegal. The 14th Amendment vitiated the racist portions of this document but it still speaks volumes about the founding fathers and this nation.
"Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct."
Least Twelve States to Sue Trump Administration Over Census Citizenship Question - The New York Times
The History and Purpose of The U.S Constitution's Second Amendment
Monday, March 26, 2018
Inside the collapse of a bipartisan Obamacare deal - POLITICO
Everybody on Capitol Hill agreed: If anyone could break the deep-rooted partisan logjam over Obamacare in Congress, it was that deal-making duo Patty and Lamar.
But in the end, it was Obamacare that broke their alliance.
Just seven months after Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) heralded the beginning of a new bipartisan era on health care following the collapse of Obamacare repeal efforts, their lofty ambitions ended in much the same way as every Obamacare-related negotiation over the last eight years — with claims of betrayal, warnings of political fallout and no progress toward bridging the deep divide over the nation’s health care system. When Congress put its finishing touches on a $1.3 trillion spending bill late last week, there was one glaring omission: a proposal to head off huge premium spikes just before the November midterm elections.
“I’m no magician,” Alexander said in a fiery floor speech Thursday, after Murray blocked a final effort to include a last-ditch partisan proposal in the spending package. “I greatly respect the senator from Washington and enjoy working with her, but on this issue, I think we’ve reached an impasse.”
The unraveling of the senators’ health care partnership, which culminated in an increasingly bitter dispute over abortion policy, effectively ended Congress’ last best chance of shoring up Obamacare this year, while doubling as a fresh sign of just how far apart the two parties remain on health care.
Many senators thought the long history of bipartisan dealmaking between Alexander and Murray, who lead the Senate HELP Committee, would result in the first-ever bipartisan Obamacare deal eight years after it passed with only Democratic votes. They had previously rewritten the No Child Left Behind education bill and the 21st Century Cures Act speeding drug and medical device approvals — two big accomplishments in a Congress that struggles to agree on much of anything.
In truth, Murray and Alexander came closer than ever before to striking a good-faith deal aimed at stabilizing the health law — only to watch it collapse over peripheral policy disagreements and broader political calculations.
Since September, Alexander had slowly cultivated support among many Republicans for the once-implausible idea of injecting billions of dollars into already-shaky Obamacare markets after the party had backed moves that would surely weaken them, such as the elimination of the requirement to purchase health insurance. For the first time in Obamacare’s history, Republicans feared voters would blame them for premium increases.
But Republican leaders refused to include the senators’ initial Obamacare stabilization agreement in a budget deal late last year over concerns it wouldn’t clear the House, where an influential conservative bloc has staunchly opposed any legislation seen as aiding the health care law. Their second try fell apart last week in dramatic fashion after a flurry of eleventh-hour negotiations and policy clashes between Republicans, Democrats and the White House played out against the backdrop of Congress’ race to fund the government.
At the center of that was a late-emerging dilemma over abortion restrictions. Republicans insisted the deal to prop up the Obamacare marketplaces had to include prohibitions on the federal funding of abortion — dubbed “Hyde” language — which was not written into the Affordable Care Act but is in nearly every other health spending bill. The debate over abortion funding nearly derailed Obamacare before its passage in 2010.
Democrats balked at the new GOP demand, arguing it would significantly expand federal funding restrictions on abortion. Any insurance plan that covered abortion wouldn’t be able to get federal funds from Obamacare, or worse, insurers in some states wouldn’t be allowed to sell any individual market health plan that covers abortion, they warned.
Talks hit a standstill. GOP leaders insisted on the abortion restrictions if any Obamacare stabilization package were going to make it into the omnibus spending bill. And Democrats stood firm, knowing Republicans would need their votes to pass the omnibus and keep the government open.
“There was no need to re-litigate the discussion around taxpayer funding for abortion,” said a Democratic aide familiar with the negotiations. “It just simply wasn’t the venue, like it or not.”
Still, Alexander, Murray and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), a moderate who supports abortion rights, tried to resolve the dispute in the final days of omnibus negotiations. Days before the spending bill passed, Democrats offered language similar to what was in the Affordable Care Act, sources familiar with the negotiations said.
Obamacare already requires insurers to separate federal funds from the money paid by customers for abortion coverage, under a controversial agreement brokered in 2010 by former Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, an anti-abortion Democrat.
“Sen. Murray made it clear that she was willing to negotiate to make sure the status quo was maintained,” an aide to Murray said.
But that drew the two sides no closer, with the GOP viewing the offer as “lipstick on Stupak,” according to a Republican source familiar with negotiations. Republicans have long protested that the "Stupak" language didn't do enough to prohibit the federal funding of abortion. Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Alexander all said Republicans wouldn't vote for anything they deemed less restrictive than Hyde language.
“I think they genuinely did everything they could at the last possible second to sabotage us — to have a political issue,” said a senior Republican aide.
As it became clear that the whole stabilization plan was unlikely to make it into the omnibus, McConnell asked Democrats to include parts of it that wouldn’t wade into abortion policy. McConnell’s proposal included new flexibility for states to overhaul their insurance markets, the ability to sell health insurance across state lines and the creation of cheaper “copper” health plans, according to Democratic and Republican sources. Democrats also rejected those offers.
Facing a stalemate, Alexander and Collins secured White House support for their own stabilization package — an endorsement that hinged in large part on inclusion of the Hyde language. Collins, whose support for the GOP tax bill was contingent on passing an Obamacare stabilization package, dismissed any suggestion the Hyde language would change the status quo.
“This is nothing radical or new, and it is baffling and gravely disappointing that this should be used to block this package,” she said on the Senate floor Thursday.
Alexander and Collins, backed by several other GOP lawmakers, posted their stabilization bill March 19 — pushing their split with Democrats into public view and effectively ending the Senate’s brief detente over Obamacare.
Murray contends she didn’t know in advance that Republicans would forge ahead on their own with this Hyde language. A Republican aide maintains that Murray’s office was sent the text days in ahead of time.
The passage of the omnibus effectively ended Congress’ major legislative work for the year. Alexander’s and Murray’s camps insist the bipartisan duo will survive this bump in the road. They’ve been through contentious battles before, such as the nomination process of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
But with lawmakers already eyeing November’s midterms, the breakup guarantees that Obamacare will be at the center of yet another election cycle.
Democrats hoping to seize control of the House have hammered the Trump administration for undermining Obamacare at every turn. GOP lawmakers, meanwhile, maintain that Obamacare is fundamentally flawed and that Democrats weren’t willing to compromise when Republicans tried to find a solution that would sidestep another chaotic year in the individual insurance market.
“I don’t understand it,” Alexander said of the impasse. “And I don’t see any way to make any progress on it.”
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Inside the collapse of a bipartisan Obamacare deal - POLITICO: ""
What it's like to be black in Naperville, America - Naperville Sun - This is eerily similar to my experiences growing up in Staten Island New York in the 1960s but add racial violence and constant racial taunts.
By Brian Crooks, www.chicagotribune.comView OriginalJuly 18th, 2016
"Editor's note: Brian Crooks moved to Naperville when he was in the 5th grade; his parents still reside here. On Saturday, he wrote a Facebook post about his experiences being an African-American living in America that has since gone viral and has elicited hundreds of comments from people around the world. Because of its length, we're publishing excerpts here. To read the entire post, go here.
The first time I was acutely aware of my Blackness, I was probably 6 or 7 years old. Like, before then obviously I knew I was Black, but I hadn't really had it put in my face like this until I was about 6 or 7. I used to go to daycare back then, and we went on a field trip to a water park one time. One of the other boys from the daycare came up to me and told me he was surprised I was going on the trip because his dad told him all colored people were afraid of the water since we sink to the bottom. He didn't know he was being offensive. He was just curious why someone who would sink to the bottom would want to go to a water park.
In elementary school, I was in the gifted program. I've never been any good at math or science, but I was a really creative kid who loved history and telling stories. In third grade, the gifted program focused on the middle ages. I was in heaven. I loved learning about knights and castles and all that stuff. We had a group project to do sometime that year, where we had to give a short speech about something we'd learned during the year. All of the groups broke off to divvy up the work when my teacher came over to my group. Wouldn't it be "easier" and more fun for me if my group did our presentation as a rap? I'm eight years old. I have no history writing any kind of music, much less a full 3 or 4 minutes of rap verses for me and my teammates. But, I tried. The other kids just expected it to be natural for me. They looked at me like, "What do you mean you don't know how to rap?" We ended up just doing it as a regular presentation like everybody else, and afterward my teacher came up to me and said, "I thought you guys were going to rap? I was looking forward to MC Brian." Again, she didn't know that she was making a racially-insensitive statement. Why would she? It's not like she'd had deep conversation about how Black people feel about their Blackness, or the way Black people internalized the way White people feel about our Blackness.
From elementary school through middle school, I can't remember how many times the White kids asked if they could touch my hair. I'm not kidding when I say it happened pretty much once a week at least. At first, it didn't bother me. But eventually I felt like an exhibit in a petting zoo. And I didn't have the vocabulary to explain to them that it was really weird that they kept asking to touch my hair all the time. See, I was a pretty shy kid. I was the only Black one, I was overweight, and I'd moved three times before I turned 10. So, rather than tell the White kids that no, they couldn't rummage through my hair, I just said yes and sat there quietly while they marveled at how my hair felt.
My least favorite time of the year, every year, was February. Black History Month. Being the only Black kid in the class, I was the designated reader for the entire month. When it came time to read from our history books about slavery and the Triangle Trade Route, I was always the one who was chosen to read. When it came time to read about Jim Crow, it was my turn. George Washington Carver and the peanut? That sounds like a job for Brian. Booker T. Washington? Harriet Tubman? Surely Brian is the perfect choice for those passages. All the while, I felt the eyes of my fellow students on me. Again, I was already a shy kid. So, having an entire classroom of White kids stare at me while I explained what lynching and Black Codes were was pretty mortifying.
In 8th grade, I went to a friend's house to jump on his trampoline. I didn't know the kid all that well, but we had some mutual friends and at that age, if a kid has a trampoline, you're going to jump on that trampoline. He had a couple of neighbors who were probably 6 or 7 year old girls. We're jumping on the trampoline and the girls come out of their house and come over into his yard. Within about 5 minutes, they were laughing while saying "Get off our property, Black boy." They were little, and they were laughing, so I don't think they knew how ugly they were being. After all, they'd probably never had a Black kid in their one or two elementary school classes. But they'd clearly heard that phrase somewhere else before. I wasn't even on their property; I was next door. But it's fair to assume that at some point, someone in their house had said "Get off my property, Black boy."
In high school, I was around more Black kids. Still not a lot, but more than zero, so that was nice. When I was fifteen, I got my first "real" girlfriend. I'd asked some girls out before, and some of them said yes, but when you're 13 or 14 years old, what does "going out" even mean? So, my first "real" girlfriend was White. After all, I was living in an overwhelmingly White community and it's not like I was a heartthrob, so I was in no position to tell a girl who liked me that I was only interested in dating a Black girl. I might've never had a girlfriend if that was the line I drew. We were a good couple. We got along well and had similar interests and stuff. Basically, what you'd like to have as a high school sophomore. Her parents were divorced, but her mom and stepdad liked me. Then, her biological father found out I was Black. A week later, she called me crying and said we had to break up. Her dad didn't support her dating a Black person. So, my first heartbreak came as a direct result of racism.
When I was going through driver's ed, my behind the wheel instructor was a football coach at one of the other Naperville high schools. He asked what kind of car I wanted one time, and I told him I was gonna get my dad's Dodge Intrepid, but that I really liked my brother's Mazda. He looked at me like I was nuts and said he figured I'd want an Impala so I could put some hydraulics on it and "hit dem switchezzzzz." When we got back to my house at the end of my last behind the wheel session, he shook my hand and said it was a pleasure teaching me how to drive. Then, he said, "You're a Black kid, but you're pretty cool, you know? Like, you're not like one of THOSE Black people, you know?"
In high school, I played football. There was a kid on the football team who I'd been friends with since middle school. Not, like, best friends or anything, but we ran in similar circles and we were certainly friendly with each other. When we were 16 or 17, he started referring to me as "The Whitest Black guy." It really pissed me off. He knew it pissed me off. I guess because I used proper grammar, wore clothes that fit, and listened to metal in addition to hip hop, it made me "White." Turns out, to be "authentically Black" means being a caricature of what a Black person should be, according to this suburban White kid.
I got pulled over a lot in high school. Like, a lot a lot. By this point, I was no longer driving the Dodge. I had a Mazda of my own. It was flashy and loud, but this was 2002 and everybody with a Japanese car was doing a Vin Diesel impression, so it's not like mine stood out that much more than anyone else's. I spent a ton of money on my car and was especially aware of its appearance. You can understand, then, why it was weird that I was routinely pulled over for a busted taillight. After all, that's the kind of thing I would've noticed and gotten fixed, especially if that taillight tended to burn out once a week or so. My parents had told me how to act when pulled over by the police, so of course I was all "Yes sir, no sir" every time it happened. That didn't stop them from asking me to step out of the car so they could pat me down or search for drugs, though. I didn't have a drop of alcohol until I was 21, but by that point I was an expert at breathalyzers and field sobriety tests. On occasion, the officer was polite. But usually, they walked up with their hand on their gun and talked to me like I'd been found guilty of a grisly homicide earlier in the day. A handful of times, they'd tell me to turn off the car, drop the keys out the window, and keep my hands outside the vehicle before even approaching.
I went to the University of Iowa, which is a very White campus in a very White state. It's funny, because most of the people I met there who came from small-town Iowa were really excited to finally meet a Black person. And it wasn't like they wanted me to be a mascot; they genuinely wanted a Black friend so they could learn about Black people and stuff. It was nice. On the other hand, if I was in a bar and talking to a girl they didn't think I should be talking to, or in their drunken state they bumped into sober me, you'd be surprised to see how quickly some of these guys will call a complete stranger a nigger.
Once, when I came home from college, I was pulled over less than a block from my parents' house. It was late, probably about midnight or so, but I hadn't been drinking and it was winter so I wasn't speeding because it had snowed that day. The officer stepped out of his car with his gun drawn. He told me to drop the keys out the window, then exit the car with my hands up and step back toward him. I knew he was wrong, but I wasn't about to be shot to death down the street from my parents' house because my failure to immediately comply was interpreted as me plotting to murder that officer. So yeah, I stepped out and backed up toward the officer. He hand cuffed me and refused to tell me why I had been pulled over, or why I had been asked to exit my vehicle. Only when I was sitting in the back of the police car did he tell me that there had been reports of gang activity in the area and that a car fitting my car's description with a driver fitting my description had recently been involved in said gang activity. Gang activity. In south Naperville. Committed by a Black male driving a bright blue Mazda MX-6 with a gaudy blue and white interior. Yeah, alright. He was very short in asking me what I was doing in the neighborhood so late at night. I explained that my parents lived at that house with the glass backboard over there. He didn't believe me. He took me back out of the car and put me face down on the hood of the police car to frisk me. I'd already been searched once before he put me in the car. Then, he spent about 15 minutes searching my car while I stood hand cuffed in the cold. My ID had my parents' address on it, but he still didn't think I lived there. I could tell he wanted to accuse me of having a fake ID. About a half hour after being pulled over, when he found nothing on me, nothing in my car, and nothing on my record, he reluctantly let me go. He didn't even say sorry, or explain that it was his mistake; he must've been looking for another Black man in a bright blue Mazda MX-6 who was a gang leader in south Naperville. He sat in the street until I drove to my parents' house, opened the garage door, drove inside, and then closed the garage door.
One summer when I was back from college, I had an argument with a good friend of mine. When I say "good friend," I mean that this is a guy I knew since middle school. Our dads used to work together. I can't count how many times I had spent the night at his parents' house. But we had an argument. The kind of argument most friends have at one point or another. This time, he decided to get really, really racial about it. He started off by telling me I should be ashamed of my complexion (he later claimed that he meant I had bad skin; only I'd only had like two pimples in my entire life). Then, he said I belong in the ghetto, not Naperville. In the end, he looked me dead in the face and called me a nigger. Again, this was one of my closest friends. Since then, I've completely cut him out of my life. But, it fits with the experiences that I've had too many times; people can be totally cool for years and years but suddenly decide that they need to be super racist because they want to hurt you. They'll say they're sorry, they'll explain how you misinterpreted what they said, but the fact is, they reach for racism because they think it'll emotionally and psychologically destroy you, and that's what they want to do at that moment.
I could go on and on and on about this. I could tell you about the guy who wanted to buy his guitar from someone who "actually knew what a guitar was" when I worked at guitar center. At that point, I had a Gibson Les Paul at my house and an Ibanez acoustic, plus a Warwick fretless bass. I could tell you about the coworker who thought it was funny to adopt a stereotypical Black accent to apologize that we weren't going to have fried chicken and cornbread at our company Christmas party. I could tell you about the time I gave my floor mate a haircut freshman year and he "thanked" me by saying he'd let a negro cut his hair any day of the week. I could tell you about leaving a bar heartbroken and fighting tears when the Trayvon Martin verdict came out only to see a couple middle-aged White guys high-fiving and saying he "got what he deserved" right outside. These are only a handful of the experiences I've had in my 31 years.
I've never had a Black boss. I played football from middle school through senior year of high school and only had one Black coach in that whole time. Not just head coaches, I'm talking about assistants and position coaches. I've had two Black teachers in my entire life. One was for my Harlem Renaissance class, and one was for my sign language class. I've never been to a Black doctor, or a Black dentist. I've never been pulled over by a Black police officer. What I'm trying to explain is that, in 31 years, I've seen three Black people in a position of authority. Think about what that does to the psyche of a growing young man. I remember being excited just a few years ago when we started to see Black people in commercials without there being gospel or hip hop music in the background (remember that McDonald's commercial where the little kid was pop-locking with the chicken McNuggets?).
When we say "Black Lives Matter," understand what that actually means. We aren't saying that ONLY Black lives matter. We're saying "Black lives matter TOO." For the entirety of the history of this country, Black lives have not mattered. At a minimum, they haven't mattered nearly as much as White lives. If a Black person kills another Black person, and we have it on tape, the killer goes to jail. If a White police officer kills a Black person and we have it on tape, the entire judicial system steps up to make sure that officer doesn't go to jail.
That is why Black people are in such pain right now. The deaths are bad enough. But having the feeling that nobody will ever actually be held accountable for the deaths is so much worse. And then watching as the police union, the media, and conservative politicians team up to imagine scenarios where the officer did nothing wrong, and then tell those of us who are in pain that our pain is wrong, unjustified, and all in our heads just serves to twist the knife.
If you read all this, I really, really want to say thank you. I know it was a lot to get through. But this is real. This is me. This is what my life is and has been. And I'm not alone."
What it's like to be black in Naperville, America - Naperville Sun
Sunday, March 25, 2018
Derrick Bell: Fighting Losing Battles | New Politics
In an essay, "A Testament of Hope," published after his death, he [King] wrote of his setbacks, the time spent in jails, his frustrations and sorrows, and the dangerous character of his adversaries. He said those adversaries expected him to harden into a grim and desperate man. But: "They fail, however, to perceive the sense of affirmation generated by the challenge of embracing struggle and surmounting obstacles." So, while Dr. King led a struggle toward a goal — racial equality — that seemed possible, if not quite feasible, in the 1960s, there was a deeper message of commitment to courageous struggle whatever the circumstances or the odds.
"Courageous struggle whatever the circumstances or the odds." Indeed, this was Derrick Bell’s testament as well."
Derrick Bell: Fighting Losing Battles | New Politics
NRATV’s Colion Noir to Parkland teens: No one would know you if classmates were alive - The Washington Post
NRATV’s Colion Noir to Parkland teens: No one would know you if classmates were alive - The Washington Post
Stop Shielding Gun Makers - The New York Times
Senator Charles Schumer has proposed three measures to reduce gun violence: expanded background checks, protective orders to disarm individuals at risk of violence or self-harm, and an assault weapons ban. These proposals are critically important. But there is another effective response that has been largely ignored: repeal of a law that prevents suits against the gun industry.
A bedrock principle of the American legal system is accountability for wrongdoing. Businesses that cause harm may be held legally responsible in a court of law. Through the imposition of financial liability, our legal system encourages businesses to reduce harm to consumers by making their products safer and disclosing the risks associated with their use.
Thanks in part to the accountability imposed by lawsuits, society knows more about the dangers of smoking, and tobacco companies market their products more responsibly. Automakers continually develop and install new safety features, and these innovations deliver results: From 1975 to 2016, the rate of motor vehicle deaths decreased by nearly half. While motor vehicle deaths have declined over the last two decades, firearm deaths have not: According to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more people now die from firearms than motor vehicle accidents.
This disturbing reality exists in large part because, unlike other industries, gun manufacturers and sellers are shielded from legal accountability. Bowing to years of intensive N.R.A. lobbying, Congress enacted the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act in 2005. The law bars most suits against gun manufacturers and sellers for the harm they cause, immunizing the gun industry from accountability for the tens of thousands of gun deaths that occur in the United States each year.
Young people — and, as the Parkland survivors Emma González and David Hogg so eloquently remind us, young people of color — are hit especially hard. A recent study shows that firearms are now the third-leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 17 and, according to C.D.C. data, the leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds. Numerous scientific studies indicate that keeping guns in a home endangers its residents. Studies have also shown that guns in the home are far more likely to be used in criminal assaults, homicides, suicides and accidental shootings than in self-defense.
Yet the law enables the gun industry to advertise its products as safety devices that consumers need to protect themselves and their families without fear of legal liability.
After the Las Vegas shooting, in which 58 people were massacred and hundreds more injured, lawsuits were filed against the companies that organized the concert, own the hotel and made and sold the bump stock device the killer used to increase the firing rate of his weapons — everyone but the companies that made and sold his guns. That is because the gun manufacturers and sellers have a weapon that is not available to the concert organizers and hotel owner — statutory immunity.
The N.R.A. claims that the act is necessary to protect gun manufacturers and sellers against unfounded lawsuits. Unlike cars, hammers, tobacco and alcohol, its argument goes, guns are intended to kill. But our legal system has multiple checks to filter out lawsuits that lack merit. There is no reason for the gun industry to have special protections that are unavailable to other businesses that sell products that pose far less risk of harm.
One element of the N.R.A.’s argument is true: Guns are inherently dangerous. But there are proven ways to make them safer. One study found that more than 40 percent of accidental gun deaths could have been avoided if the gun was equipped with at least one safety feature. Because of the act, gun manufacturers have no incentive to include such features.
After the Parkland shooting, American Outdoor Brands, Smith & Wesson’s parent company and the manufacturer of the weapon used in the Parkland shooting, announced that it would not “manufacture and market” products with additional safety features (including trigger-locking technology) and that it does not “invest in R. & D. in this area” because doing so would be “irresponsible.” Perhaps the repeal of the law would change this cynical narrative.
Gun sellers likewise enjoy broad immunity. They can sell dozens of weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition to a single buyer who could resell them on the black market or plan a mass shooting without fear of legal accountability. Federal law requires only a perfunctory background check, and the employee handling the background form may be an untrained clerk. Without the threat of civil liability, gun sellers have no incentive to adopt more rigorous procedures or to provide training to their employees, which could stop a violent tragedy at the point of sale.
Democrats in Congress have introduced a bill to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Congress should pass that bill. The gun industry doesn’t deserve a special legal perk that immunizes it from liability. And the victims of gun violence deserve their day in court."
Stop Shielding Gun Makers - The New York Times
Friday, March 23, 2018
EXCLUSIVE: ‘Lone DNC Hacker’ Guccifer 2.0 Slipped Up and Revealed He Was a Russian Intelligence Officer
"Robert Mueller’s team has taken over the investigation of Guccifer 2.0, who communicated with (and was defended by) longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone. SPENCER ACKERMAN KEVIN POULSEN 03.22.18 7:00 PM ET Guccifer 2.0, the ‘lone hacker’ who took credit for providing WikiLeaks with stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee, was in fact an officer of Russia’s military intelligence directorate (GRU), The Daily Beast has learned. It’s an attribution that resulted from a fleeting but critical slip-up in GRU tradecraft.
That forensic determination has substantial implications for the criminal probe into potential collusion between President Donald Trump and Russia. The Daily Beast has learned that the special counsel in that investigation, Robert Mueller, has taken over the probe into Guccifer and brought the FBI agents who worked to track the persona onto his team."
(Via.) EXCLUSIVE: ‘Lone DNC Hacker’ Guccifer 2.0 Slipped Up and Revealed He Was a Russian Intelligence Officer:
Yes, John Bolton Really Is That Dangerous - The New York Times
"The good thing about John Bolton, President Trump’s new national security adviser, is that he says what he thinks.
The bad thing is what he thinks.
There are few people more likely than Mr. Bolton is to lead the country into war. His selection is a decision that is as alarming as any Mr. Trump has made so far.
Coupled with his nomination of the hard-line C.I.A. director, Mike Pompeo, as secretary of state, Mr. Trump is indulging his worst nationalistic instincts. Mr. Bolton, in particular, believes the United States can do what it wants without regard to international law, treaties or the political commitments of previous administrations.
He has argued for attacking North Korea to neutralize the threat of its nuclear weapons, which could set off a horrific war costing thousands of lives. At the same time, he has disparaged diplomatic efforts, including the talks planned in late May between Mr. Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. He not only wants to abrogate the six-party deal that, since 2015, has significantly limited Iran’s nuclear program, he called for bombing Iran instead. He has also maligned the United Nations and other multilateral conventions, as Mr. Trump has done, favoring unilateral solutions.
Over a 30-year career in which he served three Republican presidents, including as United Nations ambassador and the State Department’s top arms control official, Mr. Bolton has largely disdained diplomacy and arms control in favor of military solutions; no one worked harder to blow up the 1994 agreement under which North Korea’s plutonium program was frozen for nearly eight years in exchange for heavy fuel oil and other assistance. The collapse of that agreement helped bring us to the crisis today, where North Korea is believed to have 20 or more nuclear weapons.
While Mr. Trump’s criticism of the Iraq war during the campaign raised the possibility that he might take a less aggressive stance on foreign policy, no one was a more vociferous proponent of that disastrous invasion than Mr. Bolton, a position he has not renounced. At the time, Mr. Bolton said Iraqis would welcome American troops and the United States’ military role would be over quickly as Iraqis exercised their new freedom from Saddam Hussein and established a democracy. It was the sort of simplistic and wrongheaded position he takes on most policies.
Mr. Bolton will replace H.R. McMaster, the three-star general who had cautioned against jettisoning the Iran nuclear deal without a plan for what came next, among other policy differences with the president. Mr. Bolton would be the third national security adviser in Mr. Trump’s 14 chaotic months in office.
While General McMaster never had a smooth time in the White House, Mr. Bolton already has a relationship of sorts with Mr. Trump since he has met with the president a number of times and is a commentator on Fox News, which the president spends much of his time watching.
He campaigned hard for the job, even after Mr. Trump previously rejected him for both that position and secretary of state, in part because the president didn’t like his bushy mustache — seriously.
The national security adviser is the person who makes sure the president hears the views of all the national security agencies, including the State Department and Defense Department, and drives policy toward a decision. It is hard to see Mr. Bolton playing the honest broker. Mr. Bolton is known to play a ruthless inside game as he maneuvered to win bureaucratic battles and freeze out people he thinks crossed him. He has been such a lightning rod that he couldn’t get confirmed as United Nations ambassador in 2005 so President George W. Bush gave him a recess appointment, and he stayed in the job about a year. It was considered unlikely that the Senate could have confirmed him as secretary of state, but the national security adviser job doesn’t require confirmation.
Bringing on the fiery Mr. Bolton now, at a delicate moment with North Korea, is a terrible decision. While Mr. Trump has often threatened North Korea with military action, he accepted Mr. Kim’s invitation to a summit, brokered by South Korea’s president, who is eager for a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis.
Mr. Bolton, by contrast, told Fox News earlier this month that talks would be worthless and has called South Korean leaders “putty in North Korea’s hands.” On February 28, he insisted in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that “it is perfectly legitimate for the United States to respond to the current ‘necessity’ posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons by striking first.”
Last summer he wrote in the Journal, “The U.S. should obviously seek South Korea’s agreement (and Japan’s) before using force, but no foreign government, even a close ally, can veto an action to protect Americans from Kim Jong Un’s nuclear weapons.”
On Iran, Mr. Bolton and the president are in sync, with both arguing that the United States should withdraw from the nuclear agreement by a May deadline. In March 2015, he argued in a New York Times op-ed that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor “can accomplish what is required.”
Going to war in either of these cases would not only create unnecessary bloodshed, it would be disastrous for the United States and its allies, South Korea and Japan. The Iran deal has substantially halted the nuclear program and needs to be maintained. Negotiations between the United States and North Korea, given a new impetus by Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim, need to be tested.
Mr. Bolton’s position on Russia, that NATO must have a strong response to the Kremlin-linked poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain, is somewhat better than Mr. Trump’s. But his rejection of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and endorsement of a book by the anti-Muslim activist Pam Geller are unacceptable positions for a top American official.
Mr. Bolton is certain to accelerate American alienation from its allies and the rest of the world. Congress may not be able to stop his appointment, but it should speak out against it and reassert its responsibilities under the Constitution to authorize when the nation goes to war."
Yes, John Bolton Really Is That Dangerous - The New York Times