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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

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.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Case for a Trump-Russia Conspiracy Is Getting Stronger - The Atlantic











"‘There are definite legal consequences to Cohen’s statement,’ said Jens David Ohlin, a law professor and vice dean at Cornell Law School. ‘This reeks of a criminal conspiracy. It doesn’t even matter if nothing came of the meeting [although that’s far from clear]. If Trump knew about the meeting and was okay with it, Trump and those around him could be guilty of an inchoate conspiracy.’"

(Via.). The Case for a Trump-Russia Conspiracy Is Getting Stronger - The Atlantic:

'Both parties are mired in white supremacy,' says ex-candidate in Denver...

Saira Rao calls out Congress' apathy toward abuses of immigrant families...

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Attorney: 'Stand your ground' law is license to kill people of color

Attorney: 'Stand your ground' law is license to kill people of color

A secret tape, a rightwing backlash: is Michael Cohen about to flip on Trump? | US news | The Guardian

Michael Cohen ‘is no longer willing to take a bullet for Donald Trump’, according to another former Trump aide, Sam Nunberg.

"A second former Trump campaign adviser, Sam Nunberg, said Cohen’s decision to hire Washington power lawyer Lanny Davis made it clear he was looking for a deal.

“Any political person would know: the minute he signed Lanny Davis, it was over,” said Nunberg. “He wants to make a deal or do what he feels is going to be best for him. He’s no longer willing to take a bullet for Donald Trump.”

The question of whether Cohen remains loyal to Trump is separate from the question of whether Cohen is approaching a deal with prosecutors. But Cohen’s personal loyalties are still highly relevant and on Wednesday, Davis said those loyalties had shifted.

“Cohen is trying to reset his life as not being Donald Trump’s bullet-taker, or worse, a punching bag for Donald Trump’s defense strategy where he takes the bullets,” Davis told NBC News. “This is a turn for him. It’s a new resolve to tell the truth no matter what, even if it endangers him.”

In the 1990s, Davis worked for Bill Clinton. In his Friday tweet, Trump called Davis “Bill and Crooked Hillary’s lawyer” and asked: “Gee, I wonder if they helped [Cohen] make the choice!”

‘Family and country first’

Cohen is facing potential charges of bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations in connection with a company he set up before the 2016 election to facilitate a payment to the pornographic film actor Stormy Daniels. Davis released an audio recording on Tuesday night in which Trump appears to suggest to Cohen that a payment to suppress the former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story be made in cash. Both women have alleged affairs with Trump which Trump has denied.

The Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, has been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in the Cohen case, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The legal pressure on Cohen could subside if he were able to reach a deal with prosecutors in which he would, the thinking goes, attest to activity by Trump or within the Trump Organization that prosecutors might use to prosecute a separate crime or crimes. Such a deal between Cohen and prosecutors could be very bad for Trump, analysts think."

Police Pulled 9-mm Gun On Ving Rhames At His Home In California | News One

Trump’s ‘emoluments’ battle: How a scholar’s search of 200 years of dictionaries helped win a historic ruling - The Washington Post








"D.C. and Maryland are suing President Trump for violating a little-known constitutional provision called "the emoluments clause." (Video: Jenny Starrs/Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Just 10 days before his inauguration, Donald Trump called a news conference in New York to deal, among other things, with mounting questions about how he would separate his presidency from his vast business interests, including the new Trump International Hotel in Washington, and avoid violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause.

It was a rambling affair. He railed about Hillary Clinton, “fake news,” the Russia “witch hunt” and the “nonsense that was released” by intelligence agencies — before finally getting to the point. He introduced a lawyer, who hauled out stacks of folders, which Trump described as “some of the many documents that I’ve signed turning over complete and total control” of his businesses to his sons.

The lawyer, Sheri Dillon, then explained how, even though Trump would be receiving income from his business empire, the Constitution’s emoluments clause would not be a problem. The provision, Article I, Section 9, Clause 8, bars federal officeholders from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State.”

But by Dillon’s standards, it did not apply to emoluments “that have absolutely nothing to do” with the office of president: that is, to transactions connected with a president’s private business.

The president’s lawyers would later elaborate with a similarly narrow definition of the clause. It applies only to foreign benefits “conferred that arise from services rendered to a foreign state” by the president “in his or her official capacity,” they argued in a brief. The clause is “office-and-employment-specific.” In other words, it bars only payments or presents or other emoluments given the president in connection with a decision he might make as president.

That would take Trump off the hook for, say, foreign payments to his hotels from which he profited because he did not get them in his “official capacity.”

It was for some a little too convenient, sending them scurrying to dictionaries for a definition of “emoluments,” since neither the framers of the Constitution nor the justices of the Supreme Court have provided one.

Among the seekers was John Mikhail, a law professor with a PhD in philosophy and associate dean at the Georgetown University Law School. But while reporters, for example, tended to look it up in Merriam-Webster, Mikhail went to dictionaries available to the framers of the Constitution in 1787, which is what litigants do when trying to figure out what the Founding Fathers meant.

 (Courtesy John Mikhail, Georgetown Law)But Mikhail didn’t stop at a few dictionaries. With the aid of a Georgetown law student, Genevieve Bentz, he embarked on a lexicological odyssey into dozens of long-forgotten dictionaries, published over a 200-year period before 1806, 40 regular dictionaries and 10 legal dictionaries, listed here.
The research yielded a very different, much broader definition than that put forward by Trump’s lawyers. “Every English dictionary definition of ’emolument’ from 1604 to 1806″ uses a “broad definition,” including “profit,” “advantage,” “gain,” or benefit,” he wrote in his paper describing the research.

As to the “office-and-employment-specific” interpretation by Trump’s team, Mikhail wrote that “over 92 percent of these dictionaries define ’emolument’ . . . with no reference to ‘office’ or ’employment.’ ”

In other words, by his research, the emoluments clause would bar any benefit or profit to a president via a foreign state, whether in his capacity as president or in any other role, such as the owner of a hotel. It would, specifically, cover Saudi Arabia or Kuwait renting out space at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

“I sort of felt like I had them in the crosshairs,” he told The Washington Post on Thursday.
He did.

On Wednesday, Mikhail’s labors paid off. In a historic decision, U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte in Greenbelt, Md., ruled that a suit brought by the District of Columbia and Maryland could go forward instead of throwing it out, as the administration desired.

Messitte cited, in part, what he called the “exhaustive” research of Mikhail, mentioning him by name 17 times.
And while citing numerous other factors, the judge’s choice of definition proved crucial to the ruling, the first on the meaning of the Constitution’s emoluments clauses. (There are two, one covering domestic gain, the other foreign.

The judge noted that Mikhail’s dictionary research was more extensive than that of the president’s lawyers, covering “virtually every founding-era dictionary.” Citing Mikhail again, Messitte said, “the President’s definition appears in less than 8% of these dictionaries” vs. 92 percent for the broader meaning.
 (Courtesy of John Mikhail)“The clear weight of the evidence,” wrote the judge, “shows that an ’emolument’ was commonly understood by the founding generation to encompass any ‘profit,’ ‘gain,’ or ‘advantage.’
“Though the Court agrees that mere counting of dictionaries may not be dispositive, it nonetheless remains highly remarkable that [quoting Mikhail] ‘every English dictionary definition of “emolument” from 1604 to 1806 relies on one or more of the elements of the broad definition DOJ rejects in its brief.’ ”
Accepting the broader definition, everything else fell into place.
If the emoluments clause referred narrowly to compensation for official services, as Trump argued, that would make it a bribery clause.

A violation would therefore be almost impossible to prove, since bribery entails a quid pro quo. As the plaintiffs noted, he said, it didn’t make sense “that the Framers would have wanted to leave a large loophole that would preclude the [emoluments] Clause from accomplishing any meaningful purpose.”
Plus, the founders listed bribery among the crimes for which a president can be impeached. Why would they do that if it was covered by the emoluments clause?

Another thing that didn’t make sense: The foreign emoluments clause allows a president to accept things of value with the consent of Congress, he recalled. He said he doubted that the Founding Fathers would tolerate bribery of the chief executive as long as Congress said it was okay.
“It seems highly unlikely that the Framers would have intended bribery to be both an impeachable offense and, at the same time, an activity Congress could consent to when a foreign government donor is involved. The President makes no attempt to come to terms with this anomaly.”
Mikhail’s research was a massive undertaking, possible only because the old dictionaries are available not just in musty libraries anymore but on the Internet. A task of perhaps 15 years with journeys to scores of libraries could be achieved in a matter of weeks.

 (Courtesy John Mikhail)Mikhail told The Post he and Bentz “worked feverishly night and day,” using online databases to dive into works like Thomas Blount’s “Glossographia,” published in 1656; Samuel Johnson’s “A Dictionary of the English Language,” published in 1753; James Barclay’s “A Complete and Universal English Dictionary,” published in 1774; and dozens more, including the standard legal dictionaries of the era.

From these, Mikhail would ultimately produce blog posts at Balkinization, which were widely referenced by other legal blogs, followed by a carefully researched paper, followed by a joint amicus brief summarizing his findings, which was submitted to the court.

The government, he told The Post, was trying “to suggest that the meaning of the term emolument is tethered to an office — that was their term. … I already knew that a lot of dictionaries said otherwise, and had a pretty strong inclination that if I dug deeper into dictionaries it would continue to validate that fact. And that’s what we did.”

It’s by no means the end of the line. It was not a ruling on the merits. An appeal is likely. But Mikhail’s mining of a question never answered by the Supreme Court is likely to remain at the forefront of the litigation.

“Judge Messitte’s thoughtful opinion certainly was gratifying,” Mikhail told The Post Thursday, crediting his researcher as well as his collaborators on the amicus brief, Jack Rakove, Gautham Rao, Simon Stern and Jed Shugerman.
“I was obviously quite pleased for the issues to be resolved in the way that they were. I had a sense that he might come down this way,” having attended oral arguments. “But I didn’t really didn’t expect that he would do so so strongly. He really did embrace the theory that we had been proposing.”

Trump’s ‘emoluments’ battle: How a scholar’s search of 200 years of dictionaries helped win a historic ruling - The Washington Post:

Friday, July 27, 2018

Corruption Case Begins Against Kazakh Couple That Allegedly Laundered Money Through Trump Tower

"On Thursday, a court in Kazakhstan launched preliminary hearings of a corruption case against the former mayor of the Kazakh city of Almaty, Viktor Khrapunov, and his wife Leila Khrapunova, a couple with deep ties to the Trump Organization.

The former mayor and his wife have been accused of a wide array of crimes, including money laundering embezzlement, abuse of office, fraud and the creation of an organized crime group. They are currently living in Switzerland, but are being tried in absentia. The couple claims that the charges against them are politically motivated.

Reports and court documents have demonstrated that the couple has deep ties to Trump associates, including Trump’s current lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former Trump adviser Felix Sater. They have also been accused of using purchases in a Manhattan Trump tower to launder stolen money.

An investigation published last year by McClatchy, for example, showed that the international real estate and investment firm Bayrock Group, which has partnered with the Trump Organization on multiple projects, was previously in business with the couple."

How to Be Healthier, Happier and More Productive: It’s All in the Timing - WSJ

How to Be Healthier, Happier and More Productive: It’s All in the Timing

"...Scientists began measuring the effect of the time of day on human brain power more than a century ago, when the pioneering German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus conducted experiments showing that people learned and remembered strings of nonsense syllables more effectively in the morning than at night. Since then, researchers have continued that investigation for a range of mental pursuits. They’ve drawn three big conclusions.

First, our cognitive abilities don’t remain static over the course of a day. During the 16 or so hours we’re awake, they change—often in a regular, foreseeable manner. We are smarter, faster and more creative in some parts of the day than others.

Second, these daily fluctuations can be extreme. “The performance change between the daily high point and the daily low point can be equivalent to the effect on performance of drinking the legal limit of alcohol,” write Russell Foster, a neuroscientist and chronobiologist at the University of Oxford, and Leon Kreitzman in their book “Rhythms of Life.” Other research has shown that time-of-day effects can explain 20% of the variance in human performance on cognitive undertakings.

Third, how we do depends on what we’re doing. We’re more effective at some tasks early in the day and at other tasks later in the day..."

How to Be Healthier, Happier and More Productive: It’s All in the Timing - WSJ

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Families remain separated as deadline passes

As Death Toll Rises in Flint, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha on Her Fight to Exp...

Skepticism after US government says it's 'on track' to reunite 2,551 children | US news | The Guardian

Kirstjen Nielsen arrives for a closed doors meeting with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on 25 July, on Capitol Hill. In the meeting, she said the government was ‘on track’.

"The Trump administration on Thursday faces its court-imposed deadline to reunite 2,551 children it forcibly separated amid concerns from advocates and attorneys that parents were coerced into being deported without their children.

The US homeland security department (DHS) secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, said the government was “on track” to meet the deadline, during a meeting on Wednesday with roughly 20 members of the Congressional Hispanic caucus.

Many of those present told the Associated Press that Nielsen’s comment was met with open disbelief and anger. Representative Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from Texas, tweeted that Nielsen told the caucus: “I am not a racist. Nobody believes families should be separated.”

The Trump administration is due to update the court on Thursday with the latest figures for how many families have been reunited. The count on Tuesday was 879 parents reunited with their children.

The government also said Tuesday that 463 parents had been deported without their children, alarming attorneys who doubt immigration authorities clearly explained to parents what they were agreeing to do."

Skepticism after US government says it's 'on track' to reunite 2,551 children | US news | The Guardian

Mueller Examining Trump’s Tweets in Wide-Ranging Obstruction Inquiry - The New York Times

"WASHINGTON — For years, President Trump has used Twitter as his go-to public relations weapon, mounting a barrage of attacks on celebrities and then political rivals even after advisers warned he could be creating legal problems for himself.

Those concerns now turn out to be well founded. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is scrutinizing tweets and negative statements from the president about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, according to three people briefed on the matter.

Several of the remarks came as Mr. Trump was also privately pressuring the men — both key witnesses in the inquiry — about the investigation, and Mr. Mueller is examining whether the actions add up to attempts to obstruct the investigation by both intimidating witnesses and pressuring senior law enforcement officials to tamp down the inquiry.

Mr. Mueller wants to question the president about the tweets. His interest in them is the latest addition to a range of presidential actions he is investigating as a possible obstruction case: private interactions with Mr. Comey, Mr. Sessions and other senior administration officials about the Russia inquiry; misleading White House statements; public attacks; and possible pardon offers to potential witnesses."

(Via.). Mueller Examining Trump’s Tweets in Wide-Ranging Obstruction Inquiry - The New York Times:

Opinion | What Doesn’t Kill Him Makes Him Stronger - The New York Times

By Charles Blow

"Facts don’t matter to millions of Americans anymore. That is just the truth. Republicans bewitched by Donald Trump have devalued the import of truth.

It is a sad truth and a dangerous one. What is the operational framework of a society when the truth ceases to be accepted as true?

There may be precedents in other countries, but one would be hard pressed to find a precedent here. It is becoming cliché now to say that we are in uncharted territory with Trump and his regime, but that is precisely where we are.

There is tremendous possibility for peril, but luckily for Trump and the country, we have so far avoided all-out catastrophe. There is no guarantee that our lucky streak will be extended.

Every day there is no catastrophe, every day yet another never-before-seen, outrageous scandal emerges from this administration and Trump is not destroyed by it, it strengthens him and numbs us and steels his supporters.

The more he lies without paying a price for it, the more he weakens the power of the truth to defend right and condemn wrong. And he expands his latitude to lie more.

Trump is experiencing something of a Superman Syndrome: Having survived so many episodes that would have destroyed another presidency, he has become ever more emboldened in his offenses because he comes to see himself as invincible. What doesn’t kill him makes him stronger.

Rather than lying less, Trump is increasing the frequency of his lying. As The Washington Post’s Fact Checker reported last month:

“When we first started this project for the president’s first 100 days, he averaged 4.9 claims a day. But the average number of claims per day keeps climbing as the president nears the 500-day mark of his presidency. In the month of May, the president made about eight claims a day — including an astonishing 35 claims in his rally in Nashville on May 29.”

Trump has gone from making 4.9 false claims a day to now making 6.5 a day.

It’s not that this behavior is being normalized as much as it is becoming ritualized.

On Tuesday, Trump upped his assault on truth, telling the audience at a veterans’ event in Kansas City, Mo., “Just stick with us, don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news,” before telling them, “Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening.”

There was applause and cheering from the crowd.

Rather than the presidency imposing some sense of propriety on Trump, he has used the power of the position to project a sort of hypnotic disregard and amnesiac self-delusion upon the people who follow him. So much of what Republicans once said they believed has now been betrayed.

Furthermore, Trump plays to a duality, a contradiction within his supporters: tough guy with a tender ego. He boasts about being strong while simultaneously whining about being assailed.

His griping, in a weird way, is what fuels his gasconade. He insists to his supporters that he is being treated unfairly and their reflexive defense of him prevents them from even entertaining the fairest of criticisms.

Indeed, the more Trump is rebuked by his opponents, the more his base rallies.

As New York Magazine wrote this week about a new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll: “Trump has seen his approval rating tick up to 45 percent, an all-time high for him in the survey. Trump’s high rating, up one percent from June, is thanks largely to support of Republicans, 88 percent of whom told pollsters that they approve of the job he’s doing. Among them, 64 percent strongly approve of Trump, who is experiencing an almost unheard-of level of support from members of his own party.”

CNN obtained on Tuesday a secret recording between Trump and his then-attorney Michael Cohen made two months before the election in 2016 in which the two men discussed setting up a company to funnel a payment to American Media to make sure it continued to keep silent about the story of former Playboy model Karen McDougal, a woman who claims to have had an affair with Trump.

That alleged affair happened soon after Melania Trump had given birth to the couple’s son, and allegedly during the period that Trump is accused of having a sexual encounter with the porn star Stormy Daniels.

The White House had previously denied any knowledge that McDougal had even sold her story. That clearly was a lie. Trump not only knew; he was discussing buying it from the seller.

This would have been a lethal revelation for any other president, but in these maddening Trump days, it becomes just another breach of faith, protocol, custom and possibly the law to toss on top of the ever-growing mound.

Rather than cowering in shame at his deception and his unseemliness, Trump simply goes on the attack, tweeting outrage and indignation:

“What kind of a lawyer would tape a client? So sad! Is this a first, never heard of it before? Why was the tape so abruptly terminated (cut) while I was presumably saying positive things? I hear there are other clients and many reporters that are taped — can this be so? Too bad!”

We are all trapped, for the time being, held hostage by an empowered president, a self-neutered Congress, and a cultish horde of Trump voters.

But it is the vote that is the most likely way to curb this rolling tragedy. The midterm elections are only a little more than 100 days away.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

Charles M. Blow has been an Op-Ed columnist since 2008. His column appears every Monday and Thursday. He joined The Times in 1994 and was previously the graphics director. He also wrote the book “Fire Shut Up in My Bones.”

Opinion | What Doesn’t Kill Him Makes Him Stronger - The New York Times

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Armwood Opinion Channel Volume 1 Number 2 - WWII, Race And Technology

Opinion | Trump, ‘He’s Like a Rapper’ - The New York Times




















"Some people are baffled by Donald Trump’s fawning admiration of the world’s strongmen. I am not.

If you know anything about Donald Trump’s formative years in his native New York, you know that this has been part of his life since the beginning.

In particular, he was a young man in the city when the hip-hop cultural movement was born here in the 1970s. He witnessed the birth and ascendancy of hip-hop in the city, the moguls it made, the bravado it brandished.
He liked it, envied it, aped it. He created of it something all his own: He learned to assert white privilege and emulate black power.

There have always been white people like Trump who fetishize black culture — thrill seekers who want to dip their toes into what they view as exotic, but also want to stay dry and removed from it.

Trump practiced the racism of exceptions: He disdained poor minorities — those who wanted to rent his property; criminal suspects like the Central Park Five, of whom he wrote, “I want to hate,” and whom he wanted to have executed. But he marveled at the exceptional, those who amassed money and power while projecting a counterculture aesthetic and ethos.
He admired the men who learned how to monetize swagger. He has learned from them and applied their lessons to his largely white world.

That’s why I think this racist actually believes on some level that he is not a racist. He counts his flirtation with rich black rappers and athletes as proof of his egalitarianism.

As Donald Trump Jr. told The Daily Caller in February while defending his father against charges of racism: “You know it’s amazing — all the rappers, all his African-American friends, from Jesse Jackson to Al Sharpton, have pictures with him.”
Perhaps Trump’s most notable and consequential hip-hop relationship was his odd friendship with the troubled boxer Mike Tyson, who has also rapped from time to time. Tyson sometimes entered the ring with Public Enemy’s “Welcome to the Terrordome” blaring. In a way Tyson was the epitome of hip-hop: Brash, bold, raw, powerful, dangerous, reckless.
Despite Tyson’s many issues — his drinking, his drug use, his problems with the law, his rape conviction — Tyson remained a hero to Trump.

As Chris Ayres wrote earlier this month in British GQ about this strange relationship: “From an early age, Trump, like his brothers, Freddy and Robert, had been instructed by his father, Fred, to think and act like a ‘killer.’ And the world had seen no better or more celebrated killer than Iron Mike. In particular, Trump was fascinated by Tyson’s disruptive, asymmetrical tactics.”

Ayres makes a grand assertion, one that has merit:
“It was Tyson — not Steve Bannon or even Vladimir Putin — who planted the strategic seeds for Trump’s hostile takeover of the United States of America in 2016.”

I would say that it wasn’t only Tyson, but also New York City’s hip-hop culture writ large that Trump weaponized. He is the Elvis Presley of politics, a cultural appropriator who took the coarser side of the black men whose thrall he was in and repackaged their qualities behind a white face.

Indeed, his previous and present relationships with hip-hop royalty have put the hip-hop royals in a bind, because the racism we see was not their experience of him. For them, his racism was muted by their money.
In 2015 Russell Simmons penned an open letter to “To My Old Friend Donald Trump” in which he writes, “You’re smarter and certainly more loving than you let on.” And after Trump’s atrocious Charlottesville comments, Simmons said of Trump, “He’s not acting on any real belief.” In April, Kanye West tweeted: “You don’t have to agree with Trump but the mob can’t make me not love him.”

I guess the relationship status between Trump and some in hip-hop should read: “It’s complicated.”

In 2015, when Trump was a candidate, rapper Ja Rule said of him: “Trump is very entertaining. He speaks very openly and candidly about what he feels. I think it’s a breath of fresh air for everybody to hear it. It’s not always the politically correct thing, but I think that’s what people are enjoying about Trump being in the running. … Trump is crazy. He has always been an outspoken person. I’m not shocked by anything that comes out of his mouth at all. He’s like a rapper.”

At least Trump was a wannabe rapper. He wanted to be associated with the power rappers projected, with the glamour and the girls and the gangster motif. That is the same way he’s now operating on the world stage.

The problem for America is that men pretending to be strongmen will always yield to stronger men. They will always bow to the men they want to be. In the presence of the real thing their mimicry is made mockery. As we would say in hip-hop, Trump is faking the funk.

Opinion | Trump, ‘He’s Like a Rapper’ - The New York Times

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

End of the American dream? The dark history of 'America first' | Books | The Guardian

















"When he promised to put America first in his inaugural speech, Donald Trump drew on a slogan with a long and sinister history – a sign of what was to follow in his presidency

Sarah ChurchwellLast modified on Mon 23 Apr 2018 07.49 EDT“Sadly, the American dream is dead,” Donald Trump proclaimed when he announced his candidacy for president of the United States. It seemed an astonishing thing for a candidate to say; people campaigning for president usually glorify the nation they hope to lead, flattering voters into choosing them. But this reversal was just a taste of what was to come, as he revealed an unnerving skill at twisting what would be negative for anyone else into a positive for himself.

By the time he won the election, Trump had flipped much of what many people thought they knew about the US on its head. In his acceptance speech he again pronounced the American dream dead, but promised to revive it. We were told that this dream of prosperity was under threat, so much so that a platform of “economic nationalism” carried the presidency.

Reading last rites over the American dream was disquieting enough. But throughout the campaign, Trump also promised to put America first, a pledge renewed – twice – in his inaugural address. It was a disturbing phrase; think pieces on the slogan’s history began to sprout up, explaining that it stretches back to efforts to keep the US out of the second world war.

In fact, “America first” has a much longer and darker history than that, one deeply entangled with the country’s brutal legacy of slavery and white nationalism, its conflicted relationship to immigration, nativism and xenophobia. Gradually, the complex and often terrible tale this slogan represents was lost to mainstream history – but kept alive by underground fascist movements. “America first” is, to put it plainly, a dog whistle. The expression’s backstory seems at first to uncannily anticipate Trump and (at least some of) his supporters, but the truth is that eruptions of American conservative populism are nothing new – and “America first” has been associated with them for well over a century. This is merely the latest iteration of a powerful strain of populist demagoguery in American history, from president Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) to Louisiana senator Huey Long a century later – one that now extends to Trump.

The slogan appears at least as early as 1884, when a California paper ran “America First and Always” as the headline of an article about fighting trade wars with the British. The New York Times shared in 1891 “the idea that the Republican Party has always believed in”, namely: “America first; the rest of the world afterward”. The Republican party agreed, adopting the phrase as a campaign slogan by 1894.

By 1916 'America first' had become so popular that both presidential candidates used it as a campaign sloganA few years later, “See America First” had become the ubiquitous slogan of the newly burgeoning American tourist industry, one that adapted easily as a political promise. This was recognised by an Ohio newspaper owner named Warren G Harding, who successfully campaigned for senator in 1914 under the banner “Prosper America First”. The expression did not become a national catchphrase, however, until April 1915, when President Woodrow Wilson gave a speech defending US neutrality during the first world war: “Our whole duty for the present, at any rate, is summed up in the motto: ‘America First’.”

American opinion was deeply divided over the war; while many decried what was widely perceived as a baldly nationalist venture by Germany, there was plenty of anti-British sentiment, too, especially among Irish-Americans. American neutrality was by no means always motivated by pure isolationism; it mingled pacifism, anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism, nationalism and exceptionalism as well. Wilson was delivering the “America first” speech with his eye on a second presidential term: “America first” should not be understood “in a selfish spirit”, he insisted. “The basis of neutrality is sympathy for mankind.”

 First in line … Republican national convention in Cleveland, Ohio, 2016.First in line … Republican national convention delegates in Cleveland, Ohio, 2016. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesThe phrase was rapidly taken up in the name of isolationism, however, and by 1916 “America first” had become so popular that both presidential candidates used it as a campaign slogan. When the US joined the war in 1917, “America first” was transposed into a jingoistic motto; after the war, it slipped back into isolationism. In the summer of 1920, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge delivered a keynote speech at the Republican National Convention, denouncing the League of Nations in the name of “America first”. Harding secured the Republican nomination and promptly sailed to victory that November using the slogan, which his administration would invoke ceaselessly before it collapsed amid the ruins of the US’s greatest political bribery scandal to date.

By 1920, “America first” had joined forces with another popular expression of the time, “100% American”, and both soon functioned as clear codes for nativism and white nationalism. It is impossible to grasp the full meaning of “100% American” without recognising the legal and political force of eugenicist ideas about percentages in the United States. The so-called “one-drop rule” – which said that one drop of “Negro blood” made a person legally black – was the foundation of slavery and miscegenation laws in many states, used to determine whether an individual should be enslaved or free. The logic of the one-drop rule extended from the notorious three-fifths compromise in the constitution, which counted slaves as three-fifths of a person. Declaring someone 100% American was no mere metaphor in a country that measured people in percentages and fractions, in order to deny some of them full humanity.

In 1920 Upton Sinclair published a furiously satirical novel called 100%: The Story of a Patriot, inspired by the case of a radical, Tom Mooney, who was sentenced to hang for a 1916 bombing on charges widely viewed as spurious. Sinclair’s novel is told from the perspective of Peter, “a patriot of patriots, a super-patriot; Peter was a red-blooded American and no mollycoddle; Peter was a ‘he-American’, a 100% American ... Peter was so much of an American that the very sight of a foreigner filled him with a fighting impulse.”

Peter fully believes that:
100% Americanism would find a way to preserve itself from the sophistries of European Bolshevism; 100% Americanism had worked out its formula: “If they don’t like this country, let them go back where they come from.” But of course, knowing in their hearts that America was the best country in the world, they didn’t want to go back, and it was necessary to make them go.

But “100% American” was not only xenophobic and nativist. When Senator Knute Nelson died in 1923, he was hailed in obituaries across the US as “100% American” – despite having been born in Norway. Why? Because Nelson was descended from “the true Nordic line”, “from the race which set up strong gods and bred strong men”.
“Nordic” was yet another code, used in the same ways that the Nazis would use “Aryan”. “Nordicism” held that people of northern Europe were racially superior to those of southern Europe (and everywhere else), a theory espoused by white supremacists such as Lothrop Stoddard and Madison Grant, whose The Passing of the Great Race: or The Racial Basis of European History (1916) became one of the most influential works of eugenicist scientific racism. But in practice, Nordic was used to describe anyone who was blond, white, Caucasian or Anglo-Saxon. Colloquially, “Nordic”, “100% American” and “America first” were used all but interchangeably.

















A 1927 Ku Klux Klan parade in Washington DC.A 1927 Ku Klux Klan parade in Washington DC. Photograph: Buyenlarge/Getty ImagesIt should come as little surprise, then, that the Ku Klux Klan also adopted “America first” as a motto. In 1919 a Klan leader gave a Fourth of July speech declaring: “I am for America, first, last and all the time, and I don’t want any foreign element telling us what to do.” The fantasy of a US once populated solely by the racially pure Nordic “common man” was the Klan’s genesis myth as well, the prelapsarian past to which they intended to force the country to return – by violence if necessary.

In January 1922, the Klan staged a parade in Alexandria, Louisiana, bearing two flaming red crosses and banners with slogans including “America First”, “100% American” and “White Supremacy”. That summer the Klan took out an advertisement in a Texas newspaper: “The Ku Klux Klan is the one and only organization composed absolutely and exclusively of ONE HUNDRED PER CENT AMERICANS who place AMERICA FIRST.”

If the Klan were allowed to take over the US, one newspaper cautioned, 'we shall have a dictatorship'Within months, Americans were watching the rise of fascism in Europe, as Mussolini took power in Rome. Explaining “fascists” to American readers that year, the press found an obvious example ready to hand. “In our own picturesque phrase,” wrote the New York World, “they might be known as the Ku Klux Klan.” It does not require hindsight to view the Klan as a crypto-fascist organisation: their contemporaries could instantly see the likeness, and the danger. In November 1922 a Montana paper noted that, in Italy, fascism meant “Italy for the Italians. The fascisti in this country call it ‘America first’.” There are plenty of the fascisti in the United States, it seems, but they have always gone under the proud banner of “100% Americans”.

The autumn of 1922 also saw the first mention of a rising German fringe politician called Adolf Hitler in the US press. At the time, a young American journalist named Dorothy Thompson was living in Vienna, where she was reporting on the rise of antisemitism. By November 1923, she was in Munich trying to interview Hitler following his abortive Beer Hall Putsch, filing articles on the way he had updated German nationalism thanks to “suggestions from Mussolini”.
Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle warned its readers that the KKK was no different from “100 % patriotism in Europe”:
There should be no misunderstanding about the Klan. It represents in this country the same ideas that Mussolini represents in Italy; that Primo Rivera represents in Spain. The Klan is the American Fascista, determined to rule in its own way, in utter disregard of the fundamental laws and principles of democratic government.
If such people were allowed to take over the US, it cautioned, “we shall have a dictatorship”.

By 1927, the Klan had spread across the country. That May, roughly 1,000 Klansmen gathered to march in the Memorial Day parade in Queens, New York, many in white robes and hoods, accompanied by 400 members of their women’s organisation, the Klavana. Some of the reported 20,000 spectators in Queens that day objected to the Klan’s presence in a civic parade; fights broke out, and it turned into a riot. In the days that followed, the New York papers revealed the names of a total of seven men who had been arrested in Queens. Five of them were identified as “avowed Klansmen” who had been marching in the parade and were arrested for “refusing to disperse when ordered”. A sixth was a mistake – a car had run over his foot – and he was immediately released. The seventh, a 21-year-old German-American, was not identified in the press as a Klansman. The reports only stated that he was arrested, arraigned and discharged. No one knows why he was there. His name was Fred Trump.

In September 1935, a month after announcing he would run for president, Senator Long of Louisiana was assassinated. Called “America’s first dictator”, Long had worried many observers with his blend of populism and authoritarianism. After his death, one writer referred to Long as “the Mississippi valley rendering of Il Duce”. Despite assurances from many Americans that it can’t happen here, Long’s rise to power had shown just how it could. Its growing presence was so clear that at the end of 1935 Sinclair Lewis published a novel inspired by Long’s career (but written before his murder), in which he imagined what American fascism would look like. The title of It Can’t Happen Here was “ironical”, Lewis told reporters: “I don’t say fascism will happen here,” he said, “only that it could.”

Lewis and Thompson had married in 1928, and his novel was heavily influenced by her circle’s conversation about the situation in Europe. She had just become the first American foreign correspondent to be ejected from Germany by Hitler, making her an international celebrity. “Whatever else the Hitler revolution may or may not be,” she wrote, “it is an enormous mass flight from reality.” On her return to the US, Thompson was given a nationally syndicated newspaper column; immediately she began writing about the emergence of bands of loosely organised fascists around the US, where a “Union party” had assembled to unite the right, creating an amalgamation of white supremacist fascist groups.
One of Thompson’s columns on American fascism was titled “It Can Happen Here”, in which she asked:

Whom do they hate? Life, which has treated them badly. Who is to blame? Some scapegoat is to blame. The Negroes working in the fields that should be theirs? Or the Jews? Do they not keep the prosperous shops? Or the Communists … or the trade unionists … Or the Catholics who have a Pope in Rome? Or the foreigners who take the jobs? These are to blame. Therefore exterminate them. We are poor and dispossessed. But we are white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant. Our fathers founded this country. It belongs to us.

Just as Thompson’s column was published, in May 1936, William Faulkner finished Absalom, Absalom!, a novel driven by the proposition that what had defined southern history was the fact that poor white people gained self-respect and racial pride from their belief in their inherent superiority to black people. If that sense of racial superiority were ever threatened, the story predicted, they would erupt in violence. A year earlier, WEB Du Bois had explained that “white laborers were convinced that the degradation of Negro labor was more fundamental than the uplift of white labor”. Although white labourers remained poor, Du Bois wrote, they were “compensated in part by a sort of public and psychological wage”, the wage of racial superiority.

In the autumn of 1940, a coalition of Americans against US entry into the second world war formed the America First Committee. Charles Lindbergh would become their spokesman, Thompson perhaps their fiercest opponent. “I am absolutely certain in my mind that Lindbergh is pro-Nazi,” she wrote in 1941. “He hates the present democratic system and … intends to be President of the United States, with a new party along Nazi lines behind him.” By May 1941, Lewis had joined the America First Committee, while he and Thompson had quietly separated. According to Lewis’s biographer, he was “at that time vigorously opposed to American intervention in the European war … his sympathies with the America First people”.

In August 2017, seven months into Donald Trump’s presidency, a coalition of American fascists calling themselves Unite the Right staged a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. It came as a shock to many observers that the Klan and neo-Nazis could march in modern America, shouting: “Jews will not replace us.” It came as a greater shock that Trump refused to condemn them.

When the story emerged during the 2016 campaign that Trump’s father had been arrested at what was often described (erroneously) as a “Klan rally”, Trump at first denied that the Fred Trump in question was his father, saying they’d never lived at the address named in the newspaper reports. But although Donald never lived there, the Trump family did. There is no evidence that Fred was at the 1927 Memorial Day parade to support the Klan. What’s remarkable is that, of the parade’s 20,000 spectators, the only six who were arraigned after the riots were five “avowed Klansmen”, and Fred Trump.

Donald has spoken often, and proudly, of the father he idolised. “My legacy has its roots in my father’s legacy,” he stated in 2015. There is good reason to think eugenics plays a role in that legacy. “The family subscribes to a racehorse theory of human development,” said one of Trump’s biographers, Michael D’Antonio. “They believe that there are superior people and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get a superior offspring.” Trump also endorsed a garbled version of eugenics in a 2010 interview: “I think I was born with the drive for success because I have a certain gene. I’m a gene believer.” And while it is true that no one knows why Fred Trump was arrested along with five members of the Klan in 1927, it is also true that his later record would not suggest he was there to protest against the Klan. Maybe it was all just a coincidence.

Or maybe not. In October 2017, the New York Times reported that Trump’s close adviser, Stephen Miller, chose “100% Americanism” as a quotation for his high school yearbook page. Trump made international headlines in January 2018 when he demanded during discussions of immigration from Haiti and Africa why he would want “all these people from shithole countries”, adding that he wanted “more people from places like Norway”. Commentators noted that Norway is overwhelmingly ethnically white, but many were puzzled by what seemed an arbitrary preference. “Why Norway?” asked a Houston Chronicle report, highlighting the “racialism” of the choice; it added that the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer had approved Trump’s remarks, which indicated: “Trump is more or less on the same page as us.” The Chronicle did not, however, mention that the page in question continues to specify Nordicism per se – and “America first” – as its racial ideal for the US.

We cannot hear a dog whistle if we are not in its range. We cannot understand the subtexts of our own slogans if we do not understand their contexts; we risk misreading our own moment if we don’t know the historical meanings of expressions we resuscitate, or perpetuate. We are all asking urgent questions about the present, but there are far more surprising answers than many think to be found in the past. The backstory of loaded phrases can help us understand how we found ourselves facing these problems today – and even, perhaps, how to stop them from detonating into violence once more •

End of the American dream? The dark history of 'America first' | Books | The Guardian: ""

“Bring the War Home”: The Long History of White Power and Paramilitary V...

Clarence Thomas' wife, Ginni Thomas, shares fake news pics on Facebook. Is this suprising? Birds of a feather...






















   This is fake, stock photo.













"The wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas shared fake news images on Facebook of African-Americans who allegedly “walked away” from the Democratic party.

Modal TriggerGinni Thomas' postFacebookGinni Thomas, a lawyer and conservative activist, shared a number of posts from “The Citizens Mandate” that appeared to show former members of the Democratic party — but the individuals are models posing for stock images.

“Thank you, #WalkAway movement, for showing us there are American citizens appalled at what they are seeing in the Democrat Party and its activists,” Thomas wrote on July 16 along with the mocked up image of an African American woman.

The item showed the model along with a list of inflammatory reasons she purportedly left the political party.
The image is a stock photo that can be found by a simple image search.
Modal TriggerGinni Thomas' postFacebookThomas shared a second post from the Citizens Mandate page on Saturday that showed an African American man who the group also claimed had left the party.
“My wife and I both work full time and still cannot afford to send our own kids to college,” read the image Thomas shared on Saturday.

That man is also a stock image model.

This what not the first instance of Thomas sharing questionable material on social media

Clarence Thomas' wife, Ginni Thomas, shares fake news pics on Facebook: ""

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Louisiana is No Longer the World’s Prison Capital. Here’s What’s Next. | American Civil Liberties Union

Prison Hallway

"After spending years as the prison capital of the world, a new report indicates that Louisiana has finally shed this shameful title thanks to the historic package of criminal justice reforms passed last year. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, Louisiana’s incarceration rate is now the second highest in the nation, below that of Oklahoma..."

Louisiana is No Longer the World’s Prison Capital. Here’s What’s Next. | American Civil Liberties Union

Why Donald Trump's Legal Team Would Leak Cohen Playmate Hush Money Tape ...

Israel's Nation-State Law Angers U.S. Jewish Leaders - The Atlantic

"Israel passed a law this week that has been floating around the Knesset for a half-dozen years. Branded the “nation-state bill,” the legislation declares that Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people, and that “the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” It establishes Hebrew as the official language of Israel and downgrades Arabic to a language with “special status,” even though many people in Israel’s sizeable Arab minority primarily speak in Arabic. The law also asserts that Jewish settlement—without specifying where—is a national value, and promises to encourage and advance settlement efforts.

Some liberal Jews, especially outside of Israel, are outraged. “The damage that will be done by this new nation-state law to the legitimacy of the Zionist vision … is enormous,” wrote Rick Jacobs, the head of the U.S.-based Union for Reform Judaism, in a press release. J Street, a liberal Zionist organization, called it “a sad day for Israel and all who care about its democracy and its future.”

The law is controversial because it inflames the core tension in Israel’s identity. The country was established as a democracy—and a model of Western, liberal values—but it’s also premised on Jewish identity. In a state established as the national homeland of the Jews, it was never entirely clear what rights non-Jewish minorities should be assigned, and Israel has been arguing with itself over how to balance these identities since it was founded. Critics, especially Jews in diaspora, see this new law as a definitive declaration in favor of the Jewish identity at the expense of the democratic one.

The interpretations of those outside the land and those living there don’t always overlap, however. Israel’s new law is a consequential signal of Israel’s values, especially when it comes to Arab-Israeli minority rights. But its passage doesn’t necessarily represent the right-wing victory that critics claim.

The nation-state bill was first introduced in 2011 by a center-right member of the Knesset, Avi Dichter. The core goal was to establish the unique Jewish right to an Israeli homeland as one of Israel’s basic laws—effectively, its foundational, constitutional rules. When the final version passed this week, Dichter declared that “we are enshrining this important bill into a law today to prevent even the slightest thought, let alone attempt, to transform Israel to a country of all its citizens,” according to Ynet, an Israeli news website. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it this way: “We enshrined in law the basic principle of our existence. Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people, that respects the individual rights of all its citizens. This is our state—the Jewish state. In recent years there have been some who have attempted to put this in doubt, to undercut the core of our being. Today we made it law: This is our nation, language, and flag.”

In its initial form, however, the bill didn’t win much support, and its provisions have been haggled over ever since. “Over the long and tortured seven-year history of this bill, it has essentially been emptied of almost all of the content that the right-wing folks who supported it at the beginning sought for it to contain,” said Noah Efron, a professor at Bar-Ilan University and former member of the Tel Aviv City Council. “If the right-wing government has worked for seven years on a bill that in its first forms had teeth, and in the end they pass a weakened bill that’s symbolic … is that a sign of strength or of weakness?”

And indeed, Bezalel Smotrich, a member of the Knesset’s right-wing Jewish Home party, wrote on Facebook after the bill passed that he felt conflicted about the final version. “It does not mention the name of God,” he complained, or “a settlement clause with real practical significance.” Efron, who has been monitoring the reaction to the bill in Israel, told me that ultra-Orthodox newspapers have been arguing that the law could end up being challenged in Israel’s largely liberal courts, which could ultimately undermine its provisions—or worse. The law establishes Shabbat as an official day of rest in Israel, and ultra-orthodox Jews worry that courts could end up reversing that or making it harder to protect Shabbat observance through laws that close public stores, for example. Smotrich echoed this as well in his written comments.

On some parts of the Israeli left, though, the reaction has been vastly different. “It fits so well with the narrative on the left that it’s almost not questioned: that Israel is sliding towards an abyss of non-democracy, of rising commitment to ethnocracy,” said Efron. “There are people who really felt as though: This is it. This is the day I’m marking on my calendar, the day when Israeli democracy ended.” For his part, Efron thinks “that’s crazy,” even though he identifies with the political left himself. He doesn’t think the bill matters nearly so much, especially because it has minimal practical effect.

“Arabic is no longer an official language, but it’s not going to suddenly stop being spoken by 20 percent of the Israeli population,” said Sara Hirschhorn, a lecturer on Israeli history at Oxford. “Stores and businesses and buses were already closed on Shabbat in some parts of Israel. What difference is [the provision about Shabbat] going to make?”

Daniel Sokatch, the head of the liberal Zionist organization the New Israel Fund, sees the new law as a signal of what Israel values—and where it’s heading. Even if it won’t change much about day-to-day life in Israel in the short term, it’s part of a larger trend. The law asserts “Jewish supremacy,” he told me, and serves “mostly to be a stick in the eye to Israel’s 22-percent Arab minority.”

Many liberal Jewish organizations in the U.S. have echoed this apprehension: This is one more sign, they say, that Israel is becoming less tolerant of minorities—including non-Orthodox Jews. Steven Wernick, the head of the Conservative Jewish movement in the U.S., wrote a letter to the Israeli government protesting the bill, according to Haaretz. The legislation was passed around the same time that a Conservative rabbi was arrested in Israel for performing a non-Orthodox wedding, which is illegal; the Conservative movement condemned the arrest in a statement.

“Israel is losing its soul and weakening its democracy and Jewish character,” Wernick said, according to Haaretz. “Its beacon of light on the nations is now dim. Even I am having difficulty seeing it.”

But diaspora Jews may be imagining Israel differently than Israelis imagine themselves. “Israelis, specifically, see Israel as a political concept. And diaspora Jewry see it more as a spiritual expression,” said Hirschhorn. This is evident even in Wernick’s language: For many diaspora Jews, Israel represents the hope of a righteous expression of Jewish values—“a beacon of light”—rather than a state with a horse-trading political process and all its attendant shortcomings. Especially in America, where the establishment of a state religion would seem anathema to most citizens, the ethno-religious aspects of Israel can be jarring. “Part of Zionist DNA …. was to have elements of a special status for Jewish homeland and Jewish historic rights that would be elevated above the rights of others,” Hirshhorn said.

Palestinians and Arab-Israelis have condemned the bill, arguing that it formally sanctions discrimination against minorities in both Israel and its territories. “What surprised me is that Israel went ahead and just enshrined that Jewishness is more important than its democratic character,” said Nizar Farsakh, who was a member of the peace-negotiation team of the Palestinian Liberation Organization between 2003 and 2008. “That has always been the case—that’s how Palestinians experience Israel—but to actually make it into the [basic law] is a first.”

The prospect of a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians has long been distant, but over the past few months—with ongoing protests in Gaza and signs of a deepening alliance between Israel and the U.S.—it has seemed even less likely. Farsakh said the new law makes any kind of negotiation impossible. “Rationally speaking, you cannot expect peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict with such a statement,” he said. “Now it’s law: Jews have higher rights than non-Jews.” Saeb Erekat, a current representative of the PLO, wrote in a statement that “this law builds up on dozens of racist and discriminatory laws against non-Jews. … We are convinced that this law would not have been passed without the culture of impunity that Israel continues to enjoy.”

While the law is new, the challenge it presents to Israel’s identity is not. This was written into the very first lines of the 1948 Israeli declaration of independence: “The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. … After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith … and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it.” This law repeats the longstanding Jewish claim to the land of Israel, which some believe extends all the way between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. As far as the current Israeli government is concerned, it seems, that claim is the only one that truly matters."

Israel's Nation-State Law Angers U.S. Jewish Leaders - The Atlantic

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Donald Trump Is a Stone-Cold Racist, Full Stop | News

Donald Trump Is a Stone-Cold Racist, Full Stop | News

Lawrence: Mueller indictments are Watergate Part 2

Lawrence: Mueller indictments are Watergate Part 2

Lawrence: Mueller indictments are Watergate Part 2

Lawrence: Mueller indictments are Watergate Part 2

Let's drop the euphemisms: Donald Trump is a racist president | Opinion | The Guardian

trump and may

"Watching this pinball president ricochet around Europe, you could be forgiven for thinking there’s no method to Donald Trump’s madness.

Nato is both a rip-off and very strong. Theresa May’s Brexit plan is both pathetic and terrific. Trump’s interview with the Sun was both fake news and generally fine. Trump has all the consistency of Katy Perry’s Hot N Cold, except when it comes to two things: immigrants and Vladimir Putin.

Immigration is where Trump’s journey begins and ends: the message running all the way through this stick of rock. Trump told the Sun that immigration in Europe was “a shame”. Why such concern? “I think it changed the fabric of Europe and, unless you act very quickly, it’s never going to be what it was and I don’t mean that in a positive way.”

Don’t worry, Mr President. We didn’t think you meant it in a positive way. There was a time when politicians like you preferred to use a dog whistle, but those days seem quaint now. There’s something to be said for using a foghorn to blast your racism across the continents. At least we all know what kind of politics you represent.

But just in case anyone had any doubts, Trump took his explicit nativism several steps into more sinister territory on Friday while standing next to the British prime minister. When asked about his “fabric of Europe” comments, Trump began by talking about terrorism, before explaining his thinking.

“I just think it’s changing the culture. I think it’s a very negative thing for Europe. I think it’s very negative,” he said, as if we didn’t hear him the first time with the foghorn. “And I know it’s politically not necessarily correct to say that. But I’ll say it and I’ll say it loud. And I think they better watch themselves because you are changing the culture.”

They better watch themselves because you are changing the culture. There’s a polite way to say this, but the time for good manners has long gone. The president of the United States just threatened the safety and security of immigrants the world over.

Not just in Europe, he made clear, as he continued to talk about American immigration. “We have very bad immigration laws and we’re, I mean, we’re doing incredibly well considering the fact that we virtually don’t have immigration laws,” he explained.

So now we know. The reason Trump ordered the separation of thousands of immigrant children from their parents – some never to be reunited again – was because they better watch themselves. They are changing the culture and it better stop or else they’ll get hurt.

Trump has mused before about how good it would be to deport people without judges messing things up. He doesn’t consider his own country’s ample immigration laws to be actual laws that he respects. It’s one short step for a president – but one long step for democracy – to go from disrespecting the laws to ignoring them.

This is the language and mentality of so many extreme-right and neo-Nazi parties in Europe. So in the Trump spirit of saying it loud, it’s time to drop the euphemisms: Trump is today’s first major government to be led by the racist far right. It’s not some kind of new populist politics; it’s the old National Front.

It’s more than “not normal” – the media’s favorite phrase for expressing disapproval with the way Trump is blowing up the old norms. Trump personifies the kind of extremist policies that were the wet dreams of the John Birch Society and George Wallace.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. This is a president who started with racist conspiracies about the birthplace of America’s first black president, before launching his campaign with a racist rant about Mexican rapists. Once elected, after losing the popular vote, he rushed out his Muslim travel ban and has since unleashed his long-promised deportation force on anyone looking faintly Latino.

At this point, there are many previously respectable leaders – at home and overseas – as well as administration officials and journalists who have fooled themselves into thinking they are some kind of moderating influence. They have failed. They are a cheap veneer of respectability on an explicitly and punitively racist president.

The moral choices that Trump poses to anyone with a conscience or love of country are only made more clear by the ludicrous irony of his own story.

The grandson of a German immigrant, Trump has married not one but two immigrants. He knows full well how hard it is to be an immigrant: his family was so ashamed of its German roots through two world wars that Trump continued to pretend he had Swedish roots at the time he put his name to The Art of the Deal.

As any TV psychologist might observe, it was a continental-sized giveaway when Trump lied about his immigrant roots to the press after trashing Nato on Thursday. “I have great respect for Germany,” he said, after attacking the German government for months. “My father is from Germany.”

Fred Trump, father to Donald, was born in the Bronx.

If you make a herculean effort, you can just about understand what Trump means when he complains that the culture is changing. It’s true: the world is becoming more integrated and diverse right before his eyes.

That diversity is not just a source of talent for America and Europe, but has long been the core test of our decency: the standard by which we judge ourselves. America’s founding freedoms were in part to protect religious minorities persecuted elsewhere: the kind of people we’d call asylum seekers today.

Or, as Theresa May gamely put it on Friday: “The UK has a proud history of welcoming people who are fleeing persecution to our country. We have a proud history of welcoming people who want to come to our country to contribute to our economy and contribute to our society. And over the years, overall immigration has been good for the UK.”

Even the Brexit-leading prime minister, after an anti-immigrant Brexit campaign, has to admit the obvious. Another foreign leader might recognize those words as a rebuke. But not this president.

Trump is the kind of person who digs around the darkest corners of the extreme-right internet to come up with some England First nonsense. “You don’t hear the word England as much as you should,” he told the Sun, spouting the kind of drivel that gives skinheads a bad name. “I miss the name England,” he said.

If he read one of his many unexamined briefing papers, he might know that one of the likely conservative successors to Theresa May is the immigrant-sounding Sajid Javid, born Muslim in the north of England. His family shares a Pakistani heritage with the immigrant-sounding Sadiq Khan, the left-leaning London mayor Trump thinks is a terrorist sympathizer.

Perhaps next time Trump visits London, he’ll have to remember whether the bad guy is called Sajid or Sadiq. That’s the problem when the culture changes. You better watch yourself, Donald."

Let's drop the euphemisms: Donald Trump is a racist president | Opinion | The Guardian

Friday, July 13, 2018

Mueller indictment suggests Russia did listen to Trump The new document says Russian officers tried to hack Hillary Clinton on the same day in 2016 that Donald Trump asked them to.

All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC

US indicts 12 Russians for hacking DNC emails during the 2016 election. Rosenstein said those charged were operatives of the GRU, a Russian military intelligence agency. He said they had “corresponded with several Americans through the internet”, including an associate of the Trump campaign. Roger Stone, a longtime adviser to Trump, previously acknowledged that he had exchanged messages with one of the online personas accused on Friday of being a front for Russian intelligence, but he denied knowing that true identity. | US news | The Guardian

Rod Rosenstein holds a news conference to announce the indictments Friday in Washington DC.

US indicts 12 Russians for hacking DNC emails during the 2016 election | US news | The Guardian

Will Parents Separated from Their Children at the Border Be Forced to Se...

Rosenstein: 12 Russians charged with hacking

Blue Wave? Not Without Black or Brown

Martin vs. Malcom

Trump’s Racist Rhetoric Is Embraced in a Midterm Contest | The Nation

John Faso Congressman

“In one of the tightest swing districts in the country, one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents is running an unabashedly Trump-like campaign. Representative John Faso represents New York’s 19th district—a microcosm of the country, closely divided between densely populated, deep-blue towns and long expanses of rural red—and he isn’t talking about Trump’s tax cuts (House leaders let him vote against them) or focusing on any other issues of substance. He certainly isn’t talking about health care, after voting to strip coverage from almost 10 percent of his constituents. Instead, the centerpiece of his campaign has been claiming that MS-13 gangsters are coming to kill us all, and promising to address the contrived ‘issue’ of low-level drug dealers being arrested with SNAP benefit cards in their pockets.
Faso didn’t face a primary challenger, so this isn’t about throwing red meat to the base to secure the nomination. What we’ve seen so far is likely to be his pitch for reelection. And it’s striking to see a politician who won this relatively purple district in 2016 by portraying himself as a moderate Republican, critical of Trump’s campaign, now choose a strategy that seems more appropriate for a deep-red district in the Bible Belt. (Faso’s popular predecessor, Chris Gibson, was arguably one of the last moderate Republicans in the House.)
This time out, Faso has chosen to run on classic appeals to white racial anxiety. According to the Center for Immigration Studies, a right-wing, restrictionist group that doesn’t shy from trumpeting the ostensible dangers of MS-13, no member of the gang has ever been arrested in the district. Journalist Hannah Dreier, who has been covering MS-13 for years, reported that while MS-13 is notably brutal, it is small compared to other gangs, hasn’t grown in membership in recent years, and almost never targets ‘true outsiders—people who are not friends with any gang members or targets for recruitment.’ While MS-13 is not the transnational powerhouse conservatives describe, Drier noted, ‘it is the US gang most strongly tied to Central America, which is where the majority of asylum-seeking teenagers come from.’"
(Via.) Trump’s Racist Rhetoric Is Embraced in a Midterm Contest | The Nation:

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

What Does It Mean to Abolish ICE?














"Then when Senator Warren offered her support to protesters on July 30, she worded her Facebook post carefully: ‘The President’s deeply immoral actions have made it obvious that we need to rebuild our immigration system from top to bottom, starting by replacing ICE with something that reflects our values.’

The week before Ocasio-Cortez’s win, actor-activist Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging New York Governor Andrew Cuomo from the left, said on The View, ‘ICE is relatively new. It came in after September 11th. We’ve been handling immigration and customs for a long time here; we don’t need ICE.’"

(Via.). What Does It Mean to Abolish ICE?:

Federal Judge Downplayed Role in Detainee Cases : NPR - Brett Kavanaugh, may have been less-than-forthright with Congress at a crucial hearing last year to confirm his appointment to a seat on the powerful federal appeals court in Washington, D.C

"Brett Kavanaugh, may have been less-than-forthright with Congress at a crucial hearing last year to confirm his appointment to a seat on the powerful federal appeals court in Washington, D.C."

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Trump’s Personal Driver for 25 Years Sues for Unpaid Overtime - Bloomberg

"Donald Trump’s personal driver for more than 25 years says the billionaire real estate developer didn’t pay him overtime and raised his salary only twice in 15 years, clawing back the second raise by cutting off his health benefits.

Noel Cintron, who is listed in public records as a registered Republican, sued the Trump Organization for about 3,300 hours of overtime that he says he worked in the past six years. He’s not allowed to sue for overtime prior to that due to the statute of limitations.

“In an utterly callous display of unwarranted privilege and entitlement and without even a minimal sense of noblesse oblige,” Trump and his businesses exploited the driver, Cintron says in the complaint.

The driver’s allegations echo those of other Trump employees or contractors who have sued the president or his businesses over the years claiming he has underpaid them or failed to honor promises to compensate them for their work. They have included mortgage brokers, landscapers and electricians who say they were stiffed on commissions or fees.

Last year, one of Trump’s luxury golf resorts in Florida was ordered by an appeals court to pay more than $32,000 to a supply company that claimed it wasn’t paid for paint that was used to spruce up the property.

“Mr. Cintron was at all times paid generously and in accordance with the law,” Trump Organization spokeswoman Amanda Miller said in a statement. “Once the facts come out we expect to be fully vindicated in court

Cintron says he was required to be on duty for Trump starting at 7 a.m. each day until whenever Trump, his family or business associates no longer required his services. He worked as long as 55 hours per week, but was paid a fixed salary of $62,700 in 2003, $68,000 in 2006, and $75,000 in 2010, according to the complaint.

The wage bump in 2010 came with a catch, Cintron said. He was induced to surrender his health insurance, saving Trump approximately $17,866 per year in premiums, according to the lawsuit.

"President Trump’s further callousness and cupidity is further demonstrated by the fact that while he is purportedly a billionaire, he has not given his personal driver a meaningful raise in over 12 years!" Cintron said.

Cintron, 59, lives in Queens, New York, his lawyer, Larry Hutcher, said in a phone interview. The driver started working for the Trump Organization about 30 years ago, and worked his way up to chauffeuring the president-to-be. He declined to comment to reporters outside his home.

Cintron said he was Trump’s personal driver until the Secret Service took over.

In addition to the unpaid overtime, Cintron claims the Trump Organization failed to provide annual wage notices as required by New York law. Cintron is seeking about $200,000 in damages, Hutcher said.

The case is Cintron v. Trump Organization LLC, Supreme Court, State of New York (Manhattan)."

Trump’s Personal Driver for 25 Years Sues for Unpaid Overtime - Bloomberg

Trump pardons Oregon cattle ranchers in case that sparked 41-day occupation of national wildlife refuge - The Washington Post - This is what happens when you have a third generation gangster in the Whitehouse.

This is what happens when you have a third generation gangster in the Whitehouse.    "President Trump on Tuesday pardoned father-and-son cattle ranchers in southeastern Oregon who were sentenced to serve prison time on two separate occasions for the same charges of arson on public lands, a move their supporters hailed as a shift in how the federal government approaches the West..."

Trump pardons Oregon cattle ranchers in case that sparked 41-day occupation of national wildlife refuge - The Washington Post

Trump pardons Oregon cattle ranchers in case that sparked 41-day occupation of national wildlife refuge - The Washington Post - This is what happens when you have a third generation gangster in the Whitehouse.

This is what happens when you have a third generation gangster in the Whitehouse.    "President Trump on Tuesday pardoned father-and-son cattle ranchers in southeastern Oregon who were sentenced to serve prison time on two separate occasions for the same charges of arson on public lands, a move their supporters hailed as a shift in how the federal government approaches the West..."

Trump pardons Oregon cattle ranchers in case that sparked 41-day occupation of national wildlife refuge - The Washington Post

91-year-old man beaten with brick, told 'go back to Mexico' - CNN

“CNN)Tears glistened on the black and purple bruises covering 91-year-old Rodolfo Rodriguez's face as he described being attacked by a group of people while going for a walk on the Fourth of July.
"I can't walk anymore," Rodriguez said in Spanish. "I'm in so much pain."

He'll be turning 92 in September, Rodriguez said, and he's never been hurt like this before, in a life working the fields with cattle and corn.

He had traveled from Michoacan, Mexico, to visit his family in Willowbrook, California, a city in Los Angeles County, his grandson Erik Mendoza said.

He makes the trip about twice a year, and takes a walk through the neighborhood every day after lunch, Mendoza said. "Everyone in the neighborhood knows him already," he said.

Rodriguez said he was walking to a nearby park on Wednesday when he passed a woman and a little girl. Without warning, the woman assaulted him, he said, hitting him with a concrete block and enlisting a group of men to join in beating him.

"I didn't even bump into her kid," Rodriguez said. "I just passed her and she pushed me and she hit me until she was done."

91-year-old man beaten with brick, told 'go back to Mexico' - CNN

Opinion | There’s So Much You Don’t Know About Brett Kavanaugh - The New York Times - The 1890s are coming back.

"And you probably won’t until it’s too late.

The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

So what can the American people hope to know in the days ahead about Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s latest candidate for the Supreme Court, who will very shortly hold one of the most powerful unelected jobs in government and wield profound influence over their daily lives? An awful lot, and yet, at the same time, so alarmingly little.

First, the awful lot: Judge Kavanaugh would shift the balance of constitutional jurisprudence to the right, creating a solid right-wing majority on the court possibly until the second half of the 21st century. While the somewhat unpredictable Justice Anthony Kennedy once served as the fulcrum for the court, that role will now go to Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., a far more ideological conservative.

Judge Kavanaugh, who sits on the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia, has been a fixture in conservative politics and is widely respected by the Republican elite. Before becoming a judge, he clerked for Justice Kennedy and worked for Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel who investigated President Bill Clinton, and later in the George W. Bush White House. He successfully portrayed himself in his remarks at the White House as a nice guy who coaches girls in basketball, feeds the homeless and believes in the Constitution.

What Americans can’t know about Judge Kavanaugh: pretty much anything else. That’s thanks to the perversion of the Supreme Court confirmation process, which once provided the Senate and the public with useful information about a potential justice’s views on the Constitution, but which has, ever since the bitter battle over President Ronald Reagan’s failed nomination of Robert Bork in 1987, devolved into a second-rate Samuel Beckett play starring an earnest legal scholar who sits for days at a microphone and labors to sound thoughtful while saying almost nothing.

Neil Gorsuch perfected the role last year, with his aw-shucks demeanor and his disingenuous regrets that, gosh, it just wouldn’t be right to express his views about almost any legal case or issue that had come before the court in the past, or might one day in the future.

Senate Democrats didn’t cover themselves in glory trying to pin down Justice Gorsuch, spending an inordinate amount of time hammering him on old opinions that demonstrated his supposed disdain for the “little guy.” Justice Gorsuch easily parried the charge by pointing out, rightly, that his allegiance was to the Constitution and not to individual litigants, however sympathetic they might be.

It’s true that Supreme Court nominees used to sail through the Senate on voice votes. That was another era, when the major parties weren’t as polarized as they are now, and the justices’ votes often broke down in unpredictable ways. Today, there is essentially no overlap between the conservative justices, all appointed by Republican presidents, and the liberals, all appointed by Democratic presidents — and that was before Justice Kennedy stepped down. The increasing polarization undermines the crucial role the court needs to play in our democracy, acting as a neutral arbiter that checks the elected branches.

There are structural fixes, like term limits, that could counteract this trend. When the Constitution’s framers decided to give Supreme Court justices lifetime appointments, the life expectancy for a free white male was roughly 35 years — less than half what it is today, and equal to the entire tenure of Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired in 2010 and is still going strong at 98.

One proposal would limit justices to 18-year terms, which would create an opening on the court every two years, and reduce some of the political gamesmanship that surrounds open seats today. But any change to the justices’ tenure would require a constitutional amendment, and so is a longer debate for another day.

In the meantime, what should senators ask Judge Kavanaugh?

First, the questions everyone wants answered: What is his judicial philosophy? How does he approach interpreting the Constitution and statutes? Does he agree with the decision in landmark Supreme Court cases like, say, Brown v. Board of Education, which outlawed racial segregation in public schools, or Griswold v. Connecticut, which established a constitutional right to privacy? There’s no reason, despite their protestations, that nominees for the highest court in the land can’t give the public straight answers to these questions and many more like them — several, including Chief Justice Roberts himself, did so in the past.

But Senate Democrats and others who believe in the importance of an independent and nonpartisan judiciary also need to treat these hearings as a public-education opportunity. Where once these sorts of hearings served to inform Americans about the finer points of constitutional law, now they might be used to alert them to cynical tactics of power politics. For starters, that would mean making it clear that Monday’s nomination belongs not to Mr. Trump so much as to the conservative legal activists at the Federalist Society, who have spent nearly four decades building a movement to reshape the federal judiciary and rewrite whole sections of constitutional law.

During the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump publicized a list of possible Supreme Court nominees preapproved by the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, another conservative group. It was scrubbed of any squishes along the lines of David Souter, Anthony Kennedy or even Chief Justice Roberts, all of whom have been deemed insufficiently committed to the cause for failing to vote in lock step with the radical right’s agenda. (Judge Kavanaugh was left off the original list but was added later.)

The Federalist Society claims to value the so-called strict construction of the Constitution, but this supposedly neutral mode of constitutional interpretation lines up suspiciously well with Republican policy preferences — say, gutting laws that protect voting rights, or opening the floodgates to unlimited political spending, or undermining women’s reproductive freedom, or destroying public-sector labor unions’ ability to stand up for the interests of workers.

In short, Senate Democrats need to use the confirmation process to explain to Americans how their Constitution is about to be hijacked by a small group of conservative radicals well funded by ideological and corporate interests, and what that means in terms of the rights they will lose and the laws that will be invalidated over the next several decades.

We’re witnessing right now a global movement against the idea of liberal democracy and, in places like Hungary and Poland, its grounding in an independent judiciary. Mr. Trump and Senate Republicans appear happy to ride this wave to unlimited power. They will almost certainly win this latest battle, but it’s a victory that will come at great cost to the nation, and to the court’s remaining legitimacy.

Americans who care about the court’s future and its role in the American system of government need to turn to the political process to restore the protections the new majority will take away, and to create an environment where radical judges can’t be nominated or confirmed. As those tireless conservative activists would be the first to tell you, winning the future depends on deliberate, long-term organizing in the present, even when — especially when — things appear most bleak."

Opinion | There’s So Much You Don’t Know About Brett Kavanaugh - The New York Times