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.
Thursday, March 21, 2019
Monday, March 18, 2019
Sunday, March 17, 2019
"FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — Two young men were found dead inside torched cars. Three others died of apparent suicides. Another collapsed on a bus, his death ruled an overdose.
Six deaths, all involving men with connections to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, drew attention on social media and speculation in the activist community that something sinister was at play.
Police say there is no evidence the deaths have anything to do with the protests stemming from a white police officer’s fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, and that only two were homicides with no known link to the protests.
But some activists say their concerns about a possible connection arise out of a culture of fear that persists in Ferguson 4 ½ years after Brown’s death, citing threats — mostly anonymous — that protest leaders continue to receive.
The Rev. Darryl Gray said he found a box inside his car. When the bomb squad arrived, no explosives were found but a 6-foot (1.8-meter) python was inside.
“Everybody is on pins and needles,” Gray said of his fellow activists.
No arrests have been made in the two homicides. St. Louis County police spokesman Shawn McGuire said witnesses have simply refused to come forward, leaving detectives with no answers for why the men were targeted.
“We don’t believe either one was connected to each other,” McGuire said, but adding, “It’s tough to come up with a motive without a suspect.”
Ferguson erupted in protests in August 2014 after officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Brown during a street confrontation. Brown was unarmed, but Wilson said he fired in self-defense when the black teenager came at him menacingly.
A grand jury declined to charge Wilson in November 2014, prompting one of the most violent nights of demonstrations, and one of the first activist deaths.
Deandre Joshua’s body was found inside a burned car blocks from the protest. The 20-year-old was shot in the head before the car was torched.
Darren Seals, shown on video comforting Brown’s mother that same night, met an almost identical fate two years later. The 29-year-old’s bullet-riddled body was found inside a burning car in September 2016.
Four others also died, three of them ruled suicides.
— MarShawn McCarrel of Columbus, Ohio, shot himself in February 2016 outside the front door of the Ohio Statehouse, police said. He had been active in Ferguson.
— Edward Crawford Jr., 27, fatally shot himself in May 2017 after telling acquaintances he had been distraught over personal issues, police said. A photo of Crawford firing a tear gas canister back at police during a Ferguson protest was part of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage.
— In October, 24-year-old Danye Jones was found hanging from a tree in the yard of his north St. Louis County home. His mother, Melissa McKinnies, was active in Ferguson and posted on Facebook after her son’s death, “They lynched my baby.” But the death was ruled a suicide.
— Bassem Masri, a 31-year-old Palestinian American who frequently livestreamed video of Ferguson demonstrations, was found unresponsive on a bus in November and couldn’t be revived. Toxicology results released in February showed he died of an overdose of fentanyl.
The Ferguson protests added momentum to the national Black Lives Matter movement, but they also generated resentment from people angered by TV footage of protesters hurling rocks and insults at police. Amid lingering anger, activists and observers say that while they see no clear connection between the deaths and the protests, they can’t help but wonder about the thoroughness of the investigations.
“These protesters and their deaths may not be a high priority for (police) since there is this antagonistic relationship,” Washington University sociologist Odis Johnson said. “I think there is a need for them to have a greater sense of urgency.”
Activists say that in the years since the protests, they have been targeted in dangerous ways.
“Something is happening,” said Cori Bush, a frequent leader of the Ferguson protests. “I’ve been vocal about the things that I’ve experienced and still experience — the harassment, the intimidation, the death threats, the death attempts.”
Bush said her car has been run off the road, her home has been vandalized, and in 2014 someone shot a bullet into her car, narrowly missing her daughter, who was 13 at the time.
She suspects white supremacists or police sympathizers. Living under constant threat is exhausting, she said, but she won’t give in.
“They shut us up and they win,” Bush said.
It’s unclear if residual stress from the protests or harassment contributed to the suicides, but Johnson said many activists feel a sense of hopelessness.
“This has to have a big impact on their mental health,” Johnson said. “For many, law enforcement is not a recourse. Many times law enforcement is not on their side.”
Experts say the deaths also are indicative of a concern at the core of the protests — the underlying difficulty of life for young people of color. Five of the men who died were blacks in their 20s.
Black St. Louis County residents are three times more likely than whites to be poor, often meaning they lack adequate health insurance that could allow them to better address not only physical ailments but mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
They also tend to live in areas with higher crime rates. The 2010 U.S. census showed that while people who live in wealthy and mostly white western St. Louis County can expect to live well into their 80s, life expectancy in parts of mostly black north St. Louis County reaches only into the 60s. Life expectancy in Kinloch, a few miles from Ferguson, is 56.
Forty-five of the county’s 60 homicide victims last year were black in a county where less than a quarter of the population is black, according to police statistics.
“Here in St. Louis, unfortunately, we have allowed the culture of crime and violence to morph into dimensions that anybody’s at risk any day, any time,” said James Clark of the nonprofit Better Family Life."
Puzzling number of men tied to Ferguson protests have died
Friday, March 15, 2019
Monday, March 11, 2019
Sunday, March 10, 2019
Saturday, March 09, 2019
Friday, March 08, 2019
Even some of her critics have to admit that the attacks on her are ridiculous and no one is saying what she is saying is not true.
"The identity politics fiasco surrounding Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar has been excruciating. Half of me is angry at her. The other half is furious for her.
Among the most basic anti-Semitic tropes are these: Jews employ semi-occult powers to control world events; they manipulate hapless gentiles with their money; and Jews in the diaspora are disloyal to the countries in which they live. Omar, in the course of making perfectly valid criticisms of Israel and its most powerful American lobby, has invoked each of these tropes.
Twice now, she has publicly expressed regret for saying things that many Jews — including some who are quite far to the left on Israel — see as freighted with anti-Semitism, only to reignite public controversy with new insensitive comments. Most recently, while speaking on a panel last week, she said, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is O.K. for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
[Listen to “The Argument” podcast every Thursday morning, with Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and David Leonhardt.]
Writers I respect, including Paul Waldman at The Washington Post, have argued that there was nothing wrong with what Omar said, because she was criticizing those who demand that she show more fealty to Israel, rather than accusing Jews of dual loyalties. But even if you interpret her words that way, she’s committed what might be called, in another context, a series of microaggressions — inadvertent slights that are painful because they echo whole histories of trauma. I assume Omar has been reckless rather than malicious, but it is incumbent on her, as on any public person who wades into fraught sectarian debates, to speak with care. This doesn’t mean she should temper her criticism of Israel, just that she needs to stop giving ammunition to those who want to conflate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.
So I think Omar deserves criticism. Criticism, however, is not the right word for what she’s faced. As one of the first two Muslim women in Congress — and the first to wear a hijab — Omar has been subject to a terrifying campaign of racist vilification, including a poster in the rotunda of the West Virginia Capitol linking her to 9/11. She is treated as a dangerous foreign interloper in American politics and the embodiment of anti-Semitism, even though her Republican colleagues routinely demonstrate far worse anti-Jewish bigotry.
Earlier this week, Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, accused Representative Jerry Nadler of doing the bidding of the wealthy liberal donor “Tom $teyer,” whose father was Jewish. (To be clear, this tweet counts both as inane AND anti-Semitic,” Nadler responded.) Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican who is one of Trump’s fiercest defenders, once brought an internet troll who’d denied the Holocaust to the State of the Union. Omar gestured at the idea of dual loyalty, but Donald Trump, speaking to American Jews last December, referred to Israel as “your country.” Indeed, no president has done more to mainstream classically anti-Semitic ideas about an authentic volk at war with parasitical globalists. It’s maddening to watch men who’ve flirted with outright fascism — like former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka, who wore the medal of a Nazi-aligned Hungarian group to one of Trump’s inaugural balls — act like sanctimonious defenders of the Jews.
The point is not to excuse Omar by comparison. It’s to say that Omar said things that are offensive and that she’s the victim of a double standard. She’s been held up for unique opprobrium because, breaking with America’s foreign policy consensus, she empathizes with Palestinians more than Israelis. Representative Juan Vargas, a Democrat of California, gave the game away earlier this week when he tweeted, “It is disturbing that Rep. Omar continues to perpetuate hurtful anti-Semitic stereotypes that misrepresent our Jewish community. Additionally, questioning support for the U.S.-Israel relationship is unacceptable.”
House Democratic leaders have been widely panned for their handling of the Omar affair, but its contradictions put them in a near-impossible bind. To ignore her words would be to tolerate mild anti-Semitism, an unsavory proposition at any time, but especially now, when many Jews feel newly vulnerable in a country that’s long been a haven. To publicly rebuke her would mean joining in the over-the-top demonization of a black Muslim woman facing death threats. Ultimately, Democrats on Thursday settled on a resolution condemning anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim discrimination, and “bigotry against minorities,” a blandly inoffensive document that didn’t seem to satisfy anyone.
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As that resolution was being hashed out, The Hill published an interview with House Majority Whip James Clyburn that poured gasoline on a trash fire. Defending Omar, who spent four years of her childhood in a Kenyan refugee camp, he seemed to describe her suffering as more visceral than that of Jews. “There are people who tell me, ‘Well, my parents are Holocaust survivors.’ ‘My parents did this.’” Clyburn said. “It’s more personal with her. I’ve talked to her, and I can tell you she is living through a lot of pain.”
More from Opinion on Ilhan Omar and anti-Semitism:
Opinion | Bret Stephens: Ilhan Omar Knows Exactly What She Is DoingMarch 7, 2019
Opinion | Thomas L. Friedman: Ilhan Omar, Aipac and MeMarch 6, 2019
Opinion: Anti-Semitism Charges Roil DemocratsMarch 7, 2019
I don’t doubt that Omar is living through a lot of pain, but minimizing the legacy of the Holocaust is never a good idea, particularly when your party is managing an internal crisis over anti-Semitism. For a moment I was frightened: with the country in the hands of a repugnant white nationalist, this is not the moment for Democrats to tear themselves apart over race and religion.
Then the voting on the anti-bigotry resolution started. Every Democrat present backed the resolution, but 23 Republicans voted against it. It was a reminder that while Democrats sometimes fail to live up to the ideals of multiethnic democracy, Republicans don’t seem to recognize those ideas at all. Omar needs to do better, but right now there’s still only one political party in America that is a safe place for hate.
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Michelle Goldberg has been an Opinion columnist since 2017. She is the author of several books about politics, religion and women’s rights, and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for public service in 2018 for reporting on workplace sexual harassment issues. @michelleinbklyn"
Opinion | Ilhan Omar’s Microaggression - The New York Times
Paul Manafort got off with far to easy a sentence given the scope of his wrongdoing and his unrepentant attitude. Young kids of color have are regularly sentenced for longer for swelling and ounce of marijuana. This is a disgrace but sadly not surprising. This is a central case of how color and economic privilege work together in America.
Paul Manafort Is Sentenced to Less Than 4 Years in 1 of 2 Cases Against Him - The New York Times
Paul Manafort Is Sentenced to Less Than 4 Years in 1 of 2 Cases Against Him - The New York Times
Thursday, March 07, 2019
By J.T. Smith II
Mr. Smith served as executive assistant to Attorney General Elliot Richardson in 1973.
"If Mueller’s findings compel legal action, the attorney general should reconsider the policy against indictment of a sitting president.
Mr. Smith served as executive assistant to Attorney General Elliot Richardson in 1973.
Reports that Robert Mueller will soon issue the findings of his investigation have brought a new urgency to the question of whether, assuming sufficient evidence exists, a president can be indicted while in office.
Most people take for granted that both Mr. Mueller and the new attorney general, William Barr, accept the current Justice Department legal position — reached in a 2000 opinion — that a sitting president cannot be indicted. In a June 2018 memo, Mr. Barr said that under “the Framers’ plan,” the “proper mechanism for policing the president’s” actions “is the political process — that is, the People, acting either directly, or through their elected representatives in Congress.”
Yet since 1973, the Justice Department has revisited its position five times on the question of indicting a sitting president and reached different conclusions. In fact, as executive assistant to President Richard Nixon’s attorney general, Elliot Richardson, I can speak to the circumstances that delivered that first opinion: The principal purpose of the 1973 Watergate-era legal opinion — which concluded that a sitting president cannot be indicted — was to aid in removal from office of a criminally tainted vice president, who, the memo concluded, could be indicted.
But it was not intended to set an ironclad precedent that would forever shape how a president might be treated.
My experience makes me believe that Attorney General Barr should reconsider Justice Department policy. If the evidence gathered by the Mueller investigation on the actions of the president and his advisers indicates a crime, an indictment might be the proper course to hold the president accountable. Further, the indictment policy does not stand in isolation: It has repercussions for a Mueller report and access to it for Congress and the American public.
The durability of the Office of Legal Counsel’s 1973 opinion is curious. It was prepared under extraordinarily stressful and unique circumstances — borne from the investigations that led to the resignations of Vice President Spiro Agnew that year and President Nixon in 1974.
In 1973, Vice President Agnew faced a grand jury investigation, mostly stemming from his tenure as governor of Maryland, into alleged bribery, extortion and tax evasion. Mr. Agnew resisted pressure to resign. Attorney General Richardson sought guidance on the indictment question in an effort to bring pressure on the vice president.
When the legal opinion was written, it was a very close question and was ultimately shaped by Mr. Richardson’s goal to remove the vice president from his office. The Office of Legal Counsel determined “there is no express provision in the Constitution which confers such immunity upon the President,” even though Article I, Section 6 provides for limited immunity for members of the legislature. (It also said, in reaching its conclusion, that there were “a number of policy factors that weigh heavily against” indicting a sitting president.)
Following the determination on vice presidents, Mr. Richardson obtained the indictment of Mr. Agnew, and rather than face a prolonged legal battle, the vice president pleaded no contest and resigned in 1973.
An often-overlooked facet of the Agnew case — but highly relevant to our circumstances today — was Mr. Richardson’s insistence that the vice president’s resignation and plea on a single count be accompanied by an extraordinary, publicly available 40-page summary of the criminal behavior involving Mr. Agnew that the Justice Department was prepared to prove at trial. Mr. Richardson believed, correctly, that a full recounting of Mr. Agnew’s shameful behavior would put to rest any contention by his supporters that he had been made a political victim.
Ten days after Mr. Agnew’s resignation, though, Mr. Richardson himself resigned, as part of the events leading up to the Saturday Night Massacre. In an effort to end the Watergate investigation, Mr. Nixon called for the firing of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. Mr. Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus both resigned rather than carry out that order.
Mr. Richardson, Mr. Cox and their successors also insisted upon access to White House evidence. They deeply appreciated the right and responsibility of Congress to exercise reasonable stewardship regarding the behavior of leadership of the executive branch.
Mr. Mueller’s investigation has brought us to face similar questions of institutional integrity and transparency for the American public. If Mr. Barr determines that Mr. Mueller’s findings compel legal action, he should reconsider the policy against indictment of a sitting president.
But if Mr. Barr holds to the view that a president’s actions should be policed by the political and not criminal process, it will be imperative that he share a Mueller report with Congress and, to the extent practicable, with the public, redacting only information that is classified or otherwise prohibited by statute.
In light of the gravity of our circumstances, it would be timely and appropriate for the Justice Department to reconsider the shaky policy regarding indictability of a sitting president and provide Congress and the public with the Mr. Mueller’s full findings and conclusions. Only through sunlight and transparency can we preserve confidence in our national institutions and leadership."
Opinion | What if the Mueller Report Demands Bold Action? - The New York Times
Wednesday, March 06, 2019
"WASHINGTON — President Trump dismissed on Tuesday an expansive document request by House Democrats scrutinizing whether he obstructed justice or abused power as nothing more than a political sideshow — and he suggested the White House might not cooperate.
Trump Dismisses 81 House Document Requests. Here’s Where They Went. - The New York Times
In the Middle of His Official Business, Trump Took the Time to Send Checks to Michael Cohen - The New York Times
"WASHINGTON — On a busy day at the White House, President Trump hosted senators to talk about tax cuts, accused a Democratic congresswoman of distorting his condolence call to a soldier’s widow and suffered another court defeat for his travel ban targeting Muslim countries.
In the Middle of His Official Business, Trump Took the Time to Send Checks to Michael Cohen - The New York Times
Tuesday, March 05, 2019
Monday, March 04, 2019
Trump’s Grip Shows Signs of Slipping as Senate Prepares to Block Wall Emergency - The New York Times
"WASHINGTON — Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, conceded on Monday that he could not stave off final passage of a resolution overturning President Trump’s national emergency declaration, setting up a rebuke to Mr. Trump amid signs that the president’s grip even on his own party in Congress may be slipping.
With Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky joining three other Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Thom Tillis of North Carolina — in announcing he would support the measure, Democrats now have the 51 votes they need to secure passage and to force Mr. Trump to issue the first veto of his presidency.
Mr. McConnell is exploring whether he can amend the House-passed resolution of disapproval, to send it back to the House and slow its trip to the president’s desk. Ms. Collins and Ms. Murkowski are both sponsors of a separate resolution, virtually identical to the House resolution, introduced in the Senate last week.
And while a veto is highly unlikely to be overturned, the congressional majority that forces it will stand as a powerful rejection of the tactics Mr. Trump has used to fulfill his top campaign promise to build a wall on the southern border — and will apparently be the first time since passage of the National Emergencies Act of 1976 that Congress has voted to overturn an emergency declaration."
Trump’s Grip Shows Signs of Slipping as Senate Prepares to Block Wall Emergency - The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Facing a showdown vote as early as this month over the embattled “Green New Deal,” Senate Democrats are preparing a counteroffensive to make combating climate change a central issue of their 2020 campaigns — a striking shift on an issue they have shied away from for the past decade.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, outlined the new strategy in an interview last week, casting it as a way to mobilize millennial voters, a key part of the Democratic constituency that the party will need to turn out to win in swing states.
With progressives pushing Democrats to embrace the Green New Deal — and Republicans ridiculing the idea as socialism — Mr. Schumer is effectively trying to turn a weakness into a strength. He is planning daily floor speeches attacking Republicans for inaction and a proposal for a special Senate committee focused on the issue, which he intends to announce this week.
And while there is virtually no chance of passing climate change legislation in a Republican-controlled Senate with President Trump in office, Mr. Schumer said he wanted legislation to run on next year — and bring to a vote in early 2021, should his party win the White House and the Senate.
“This is the first time Democrats have decided to go on offense on climate change,” Mr. Schumer said in an interview in his office. Asked about a bill, though, he conceded that “it’s going to take us a little while to come up with a consensus that works.”
But even one of the most ardent evangelists for climate action, former Vice President Al Gore, conceded that it could be difficult for the party to come together around actual legislation. “This is a heavy lift politically,” he said.
Despite that, Democrats see fighting climate change as a winning issue on the campaign trail — a way to mobilize not only young voters but also progressives, who are increasingly talking about the environment in terms of economic and social justice, given the outsize effect pollution has on minority communities.
Protesters for the Sunrise Movement, which encourages young people to combat climate change, outside Representative Steny Hoyer’s office last year.
Photo by: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA, via Shutterstock
Climate change has for the first time emerged as a front-and-center issue in national political campaigns. On Friday, Washington’s governor, Jay Inslee, announced that he would campaign for president on the signature issue of fighting climate change. Other Democratic presidential candidates regularly make campaign speeches about the subject, and most initially rushed to back the Green New Deal, the liberal social policy proposal made famous by its author, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. Students around the world are “striking” from school this spring to demand action.
But the rise of climate change as a rallying cry has come with huge downsides for Democrats. The ambitions of its youthful advocates have clashed with the caution of Democratic veterans, memorably caught in a viral video of middle and high schoolers confronting Senator Dianne Feinstein of California.
And in a speech to conservative activists on Saturday, President Trump appeared to salivate at the chance to confront Democrats on the issue. “I encourage it,” he mockingly said of the Green New Deal. “I think it’s really something that they should promote.”
Republicans see a political advantage in tying Democrats to the most contentious Democratic proposals, like linking climate change policy to universal employment.
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, plans to put the Green New Deal to a vote, without a single hearing or legislative language, as a way of daring Senate Democrats, especially those running for president, to go on record in favor of it.
“Whether or not they agree with everything in the Green New Deal, they are going to be lumped into what that proposal was,” said Antonia Ferrier, a Republican strategist and former top aide to Mr. McConnell. “To be charitable to them, they care about this issue and think it’s important. But they also do run a risk of alienating a lot of independent-minded voters in some of those states that Hillary Clinton lost in 2016.”
Democrats have been skittish about embracing the “green activist” label at least since 2000, when Mr. Gore lost his bid for the White House. Their unease worsened in 2010, when President Barack Obama’s effort to push a climate change bill through Congress crashed in the Democratic Senate and helped sink the careers of some Democrats who voted for it.
Flooded homes and roads in Elizabeth City, N.C. after Hurricane Florence last year.
Photo by: Hilary Swift for The New York Times
“Climate change, to our frustration, was never an issue that rung a bell with voters, particularly in the throes of coming out of an economic crisis,” said David Axelrod, the former chief political strategist to Mr. Obama. “But now we’re a decade down the road, and the road is surrounded by floods and fires in a way that is becoming more and more visible.”
Polls show that millennial voters, the largest voting demographic, consistently rank climate change as an issue of top concern — something older generations never did. A 2018 poll by the Pew Research Center found that millennials are the only generation in which a strong majority — 65 percent — says both that there is solid evidence of global warming and that this is attributable primarily to human activity.
Mr. Schumer said that he believed voters now saw climate change as an issue that affected them in their daily lives, as scientific reports link climate change to damaging extreme weather, such as stronger storms, flooding and drought.
He pointed to “the energy of the young people” on the issue and added, “We want to take that energy and channel it into something more constructive.”
Celinda Lake, a Democratic strategist, said that if Democrats talked about the issue correctly — using phrases like “transitioning to green energy,” rather than the more polarizing “climate change” — they could win over Trump voters, who associate words like “transition” and “energy” with jobs.
“Trump’s weakest issue is the environment,” Ms. Lake said. “As a Democrat, you’re mobilizing our side, you’re cross-pressuring his voters and you’re talking about the economy and the environment at the same time.”
But Democrats are likely to run into trouble when it comes time to propose serious policy solutions. Already, supporters of the Green New Deal have been met with criticism that the proposal is chiefly a set of broad-strokes outlines, rather than concrete legislative language.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, introducing the Green New Deal last month.
Photo by: Pete Marovich for The New York Times
The Green New Deal immediately won the embrace of multiple Democratic presidential candidates, including Senators Kamala Harris of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont.
But it was also hit by a backlash, as Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s website mistakenly published a draft summary of the document that included contentious provisions not endorsed by those candidates, like language that called for economic security “for all who are unable or unwilling to work.”
Other Democrats shied away, including Ms. Feinstein, who told the group of student protesters, “there’s no way to pay for it,” and “it wouldn’t pass the Senate.”
Mr. Schumer called the episode “a little hiccup, nothing more.”
Republicans saw an opportunity.
“Do our Democratic colleagues really support this fantasy novel masquerading as public policy?” Mr. McConnell asked last week on the Senate floor, discussing his plan for the coming vote. “Do they really want to completely upend Americans’ lives to enact some grand socialist vision?”
Mr. Schumer’s plan to protect Democrats from going on the record in support of the Green New Deal is to have all members of his caucus simply vote “present” when Mr. McConnell brings the proposal to the Senate floor.
Mr. Schumer said he would then counter with a more detailed policy solution, but that may prove just as risky. Such a solution to climate change is the same as it was in 2010, when Mr. Obama failed to pass a bill that required polluters to pay for their carbon emissions.
Policy experts say the solution to climate change is still to put a price — ideally, a tax — on carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, essentially creating an energy tax that would raise the price of gasoline and electricity generated from fossil fuels. That idea is likely to remain a tough sell with many voters, even as it energizes the liberal left wing of the Democratic Party.
Veterans of the 2010 debacle say the political risk will not be as great as it was then.
“There has been a lot of change since then,” said Rick Boucher, a former Democratic congressman from a coal-rich quarter of southwest Virginia, whose constituents voted him out of office for backing the Obama-era climate change bill."
Pressed by Climate Activists, Senate Democrats to ‘Go on Offense’ - The New York Times
"By George Yancy, www.nytimes.comView OriginalMarch 4th, 2019
To understand this degrading practice, we must examine the white face that refuses to see itself in its own monstrous creations.
Mr. Yancy is a philosophy professor and author.
In his memoir “Black Boy,” Richard Wright expresses his dismay that white America would continue to fail to understand what it means to be black in America because it “will take a bigger and tougher America than any we have yet known.” I, along with many others, share Wright’s dismay. We have not seen much evidence of that bigger and tougher America when it comes to seriously and collectively interrogating white racism in this country.
The recent scandals over prominent whites donning blackface provided a reminder of this failure. Gov. Ralph Northam of Virginia apologized for appearing in a photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook of two students, one in blackface and one wearing Ku Klux Klan “regalia,” and admitted to darkening his face to look like Michael Jackson when he went to a dance party. Similarly, Florida State Representative Anthony Sabatini, while a sophomore in high school, donned blackface, replete with a do-rag, gold chains, sunglasses and a New York Yankees cap. As of this writing, both Sabatini and Northam have refused to resign from their political offices.
After these incidents became public, I saw and heard white pundits and commentators condemn these individual cases and persons. This is certainly reasonable. There isn’t much dispute over the racist history and nature of blackface. Condemnation is a sign of greater awareness about this hurtful, racist practice, but it is also a way of distancing: By attributing blackface to a few “bad apples,” they fail to treat this as a teachable moment about the deeply ingrained nature of white American racism. They also ignore the degree to which blackface is actually little more than a perverse expression of whiteness.
To face blackface, as it were, head-on, we must address the structure of whiteness that drives it. Blackface is a performance historically grounded in white supremacy and as such, an act of epistemological and ontological terror. In other words, blackface is a form of “white knowing” (in reality, of white unknowing), of white projection, and of stipulating through performance of what it means to be black by way of lies about what it means to be white. Hence, to understand blackface, we must return to the white face that refuses to see itself in its own monstrous creations.
Blackface is a product of a long history of whiteness and its attempt to make sense of itself through both the consumption and the negation of black humanity. It speaks to the parasitic nature of whiteness and its need to “feed.” After all, whiteness, in its colonial expression, must consume and yet exclude that which is other, that which is black.
Understanding blackface in this way can be an important step toward starving whiteness of its need for the “other,” its need to be what it is not, its need to masquerade, its need to project — or in its root meaning, to “throw forth” — its lies onto the black body and to pretend as if the black body has always been the site of those projections.
Blackface also echoes the pain and suffering felt by black people whose bodies and identities underwent transmogrification, where they were rendered grotesque and bizarre, defined by ugly white myths. White American blackface was a grotesque extension of minstrelsy from the Middle Ages, where servant-performers, as Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates state, “entertained their patrons by playing music, singing, telling stories, juggling, or performing comic antics and buffoonery.”
Within the white American antebellum context and after, anti-blackness was at the very heart of white blackface minstrelsy. The black body functioned as the repulsive and revolting object of white disgust, with whites “throwing forth” their hatred and lies onto what they themselves had created. White American blackface performers engaged in exaggerated and distorted gestures, warped dialect and racist clowning, all creations of the white American imaginary. As white performers blackened their faces with burnt cork, re-presented the black body in caricatured, silly, ersatz, inferior, horrible, and damnable ways, they were able to mark black bodies publicly as appallingly stupid and subhuman.
Within this racist construction, though, white bodies remained “normative,” “intelligent,” “civil,” “nonthreatening,” engaging in “mere entertainment” and they implicitly and explicitly reinforced deeply problematic and false “racial differences” between black and white bodies. As the scholar Ronald L. Jackson argues, “The darkened face, created from the moistened debris of burnt and crushed champagne corks, insolently signified that Whites did not want to see Blacks for who they really were culturally, but, instead, … an iconographic image, a scripted racial body inscribed with meanings and messages Whites enjoyed seeing, ones that were self-affirming and insular.”
On this score, American whiteness embodied and embodies an epistemological and ontological divide that it takes as “normative,” as “common sense.” And it tells a self-redeeming and self-congratulatory history that is itself indicative of white power and privilege.
As the feminist and white anti-racist activist Peggy McIntosh writes, “When I am told about national heritage or about ‘civilization,’ I am shown that people of my [white] race made it what it is.” At the base of this narrative history are lies and distortions; indeed, more broadly, there is an entire underside of white modernity that consists of enslaved and dehumanized black bodies and often forgotten indigenous bodies across the Americas that were brutally slaughtered and decimated. To use the poet and theorist Vincent Woodard’s terms, blackface in particular can be described as an expression of “consumption rituals” and “consumption practices.” In short, the black body and bodies of color are the subject of white consumption.
To conjure the performance of blackface, whites had to engage in a magical trick that involved profound self-deception. White theatrical spaces of blackface performance were forged to confirm the “truth” that white gazes beheld. White people gathered within such spaces to have their worldview proven beyond a doubt. White audiences, through their attendance and their laughter, helped to “validate” the white racist distortions as true. They laughed at those who were deemed fundamentally different from themselves, and that laugher helped to sustain the illusions they had projected, their creations, their myths, authored by an arrogant white race who dared to assume they knew black people better than black people knew themselves.
Imagine whites in blackface on the stage: The actor “throws forth” all of the lies and distortions onto the black body. Here is where the combined performance displays a kind of consumptive process. The whites in the audience embrace and internalize the projections. They accept the putrid lies — the happy “darky,” the black “idiot,” the inferior “nigger”— that fill them with self-certainty about their “superior” status. They deny that they have created these lies and that denial sustains their white “purity” and “innocence.”
Black people are not the horrible and derogatory racist myths that so many white people have depicted, whether through blackface or other white American pastimes. I know who I am. Blackface tells me absolutely nothing about myself, but it does tell me about whiteness, and its grotesque projections. But what if blackface reveals something far too weighty and threatening for white America, something that would require a bigger and tougher America to confront? What if blackface is clear evidence of the emptiness of whiteness, the hollowness of its being as an identity marker?
Blackface is not a black problem. It is a white one, and fixing it is the job of white America. In her book “Dismantling Privilege: An Ethics of Accountability,” the religion scholar Mary Elizabeth Hobgood writes, “For whites to construct an identity outside the racist construct, we would need to give up our socially constructed white selves and embrace the rejected parts of our humanity that requires scapegoats.”
I couldn’t agree more. Blackface is the white man’s burden, not ours.
George Yancy is professor of philosophy at Emory University. His latest book is “Backlash: What Happens When We Talk Honestly About Racism in America.”
Opinion | Why White People Need Blackface - The New York Times
"The parallels between the Mafia and the Trump Organization are striking, and Giuliani perfected the template for prosecuting organized crime.
Mr. Graff is the author of “The Threat Matrix: Inside Robert Mueller’s F.B.I. and the War on Global Terror.”
Any onetime Mafia investigator who listened to the Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen testify Wednesday would have immediately recognized the congressional hearing’s historical analogue — what America witnessed on Capitol Hill wasn’t so much John Dean turning on President Richard Nixon, circa 1973; it was the mobster Joseph Valachi turning on the Cosa Nostra, circa 1963.
The Valachi hearings, led by Senator John McClellan of Arkansas, opened the country’s eyes for the first time to the Mafia, as the witness broke “omertà” — the code of silence — to speak in public about “this thing of ours,” Cosa Nostra. He explained just how “organized” organized crime actually was — with soldiers, capos, godfathers and even the “Commission,” the governing body of the various Mafia families.
Fighting the Mafia posed a uniquely hard challenge for investigators. Mafia families were involved in numerous distinct crimes and schemes, over yearslong periods, all for the clear benefit of its leadership, but those very leaders were tough to prosecute because they were rarely involved in the day-to-day crime. They spoke in their own code, rarely directly ordering a lieutenant to do something illegal, but instead offering oblique instructions or expressing general wishes that their lieutenants simply knew how to translate into action.
Those explosive — and arresting — hearings led to the 1970 passage of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, better known as RICO, a law designed to allow prosecutors to go after enterprises that engaged in extended, organized criminality. RICO laid out certain “predicate” crimes — those that prosecutors could use to stitch together evidence of a corrupt organization and then go after everyone involved in the organization as part of an organized conspiracy. While the headline-grabbing RICO “predicates” were violent crimes like murder, kidnapping, arson and robbery, the statute also focused on crimes like fraud, obstruction of justice, money laundering and even aiding or abetting illegal immigration.
It took prosecutors a while to figure out how to use RICO effectively, but by the mid-1980s, federal investigators in the Southern District of New York were hitting their stride under none other than the crusading United States attorney Rudy Giuliani, who as the head of the Southern District brought charges in 1985 against the heads of the city’s five dominant Mafia families.
Ever since, S.D.N.Y. prosecutors and F.B.I. agents have been the nation’s gold standard in RICO prosecutions — a fact that makes clear precisely why, after Mr. Cohen’s testimony, President Trump’s greatest legal jeopardy may not be in the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller.
What lawmakers heard Wednesday sounded a lot like a racketeering enterprise: an organization with a few key players and numerous overlapping crimes — not just one conspiracy, but many. Even leaving aside any questions about the Mueller investigation and the 2016 campaign, Mr. Cohen leveled allegations that sounded like bank fraud, charity fraud and tax fraud, as well as hints of insurance fraud, obstruction of justice and suborning perjury.
The parallels between the Mafia and the Trump Organization are more than we might like to admit: After all, Mr. Cohen was labeled a “rat” by President Trump last year for agreeing to cooperate with investigators; interestingly, in the language of crime, “rats” generally aren’t seen as liars. They’re “rats” precisely because they turn state’s evidence and tell the truth, spilling the secrets of a criminal organization.
Mr. Cohen was clear about the rot at the center of his former employer: “Everybody’s job at the Trump Organization is to protect Mr. Trump. Every day most of us knew we were coming and we were going to lie for him about something. That became the norm.”
RICO was precisely designed to catch the godfathers and bosses at the top of these crime syndicates — people a step or two removed from the actual crimes committed, those whose will is made real, even without a direct order.
Exactly, it appears, as Mr. Trump did at the top of his family business: “Mr. Trump did not directly tell me to lie to Congress. That’s not how he operates,” Mr. Cohen said. Mr. Trump, Mr. Cohen said, “doesn’t give orders. He speaks in code. And I understand that code.”
What’s notable about Mr. Cohen’s comments is how they paint a consistent (and credible) pattern of Mr. Trump’s behavior: The former F.B.I. director James Comey, in testimony nearly two years ago in the wake of his firing, made almost exactly the same point and used almost exactly the same language. Mr. Trump never directly ordered him to drop the Flynn investigation, Mr. Comey said, but he made it all too clear what he wanted — the president isolated Mr. Comey, with no other ears around, and then said he hoped Mr. Comey “can let this go.” As Mr. Comey said, “I took it as, this is what he wants me to do.” He cited in his testimony then the famous example of King Henry II’s saying, “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?,” a question that resulted in the murder of that very meddlesome priest, Thomas Becket.
The sheer number and breadth of the investigations into Mr. Trump’s orbit these days indicates how vulnerable the president’s family business would be to just this type of prosecution. In December, I counted 17, and since then, investigators have started an inquiry into undocumented workers at Mr. Trump’s New Jersey golf course, another crime that could be a RICO predicate; Mr. Cohen’s public testimony itself, where he certainly laid out enough evidence and bread crumbs for prosecutors to verify his allegations, mentioned enough criminal activity to build a racketeering case. Moreover, RICO allows prosecutors to wrap 10 years of racketeering activity into a single set of charges, which is to say, almost precisely the length of time — a decade — that Michael Cohen would have unparalleled insight into Mr. Trump’s operations. Similarly, many Mafia cases end up being built on wiretaps — just like, for instance, the perhaps 100 recordings Mr. Cohen says he made of people during his tenure working for Mr. Trump, recordings that federal investigators are surely poring over as part of the 290,000 documents and files they seized in their April raid last year.
Indicting the whole Trump Organization as a “corrupt enterprise” could also help prosecutors address the thorny question of whether the president can be indicted in office; they could lay out a whole pattern of criminal activity, indict numerous players — including perhaps Trump family members — and leave the president himself as a named, unindicted co-conspirator. Such an action would allow investigators to make public all the known activity for Congress and the public to consider as part of impeachment hearings or re-election. It would also activate powerful forfeiture tools for prosecutors that could allow them to seize the Trump Organization’s assets and cut off its income streams.
The irony will be that if federal prosecutors decide to move against President Trump’s empire and family together, he’ll have one man’s model to thank: his own TV lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who perfected the template to tackle precisely that type of criminal enterprise."
Opinion | How Giuliani Might Take Down Trump - The New York Times
Saturday, March 02, 2019
Friday, March 01, 2019
Thursday, February 28, 2019
"WASHINGTON — President Trump ordered his chief of staff to grant his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, a top-secret security clearance last year, overruling concerns flagged by intelligence officials and the White House’s top lawyer, four people briefed on the matter said.
Mr. Trump’s decision in May so troubled senior administration officials that at least one, the White House chief of staff at the time, John F. Kelly, wrote a contemporaneous internal memo about how he had been “ordered” to give Mr. Kushner the top-secret clearance.
The White House counsel at the time, Donald F. McGahn II, also wrote an internal memo outlining the concerns that had been raised about Mr. Kushner — including by the C.I.A. — and how Mr. McGahn had recommended that he not be given a top-secret clearance.
The disclosure of the memos contradicts statements made by the president, who told The New York Times in January in an Oval Office interview that he had no role in his son-in-law receiving his clearance.
Mr. Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe D. Lowell, also said that at the time the clearance was granted last year that his client went through a standard process. Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter and Mr. Kushner’s wife, said the same thing three weeks ago.
Asked on Thursday about the memos contradicting the president’s account, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said, “We don’t comment on security clearances.”
Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Mr. Lowell, said on Thursday: “In 2018, White House and security clearance officials affirmed that Mr. Kushner’s security clearance was handled in the regular process with no pressure from anyone. That was conveyed to the media at the time, and new stories, if accurate, do not change what was affirmed at the time.”
The decision last year to grant Mr. Kushner a top-secret clearance upgraded him from earlier temporary and interim status. He never received a higher-level designation that would have given him access to need-to-know intelligence known as sensitive compartmented information.
It is not known precisely what factors led to the problems with Mr. Kushner’s security clearance. Officials had raised questions about his own and his family’s real estate business’s ties to foreign governments and investors, and about initially unreported contacts he had with foreigners. The issue also generated criticism of Mr. Trump for having two family members serve in official capacities in the West Wing.
Mr. Kushner has spent this week abroad working on a Middle East peace plan. Among his meetings was one with Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.
While the president has the legal authority to grant a clearance, in most cases, the White House’s personnel security office makes a determination about whether to grant one after the F.B.I. has conducted a background check. If there is a dispute in the personnel security office about how to move forward — a rare occurrence — the White House counsel makes the decision. In highly unusual cases, the president weighs in and grants one himself.
In Mr. Kushner’s case, personnel division officials were divided about whether to grant him a top-secret clearance.
In May 2018, the White House Counsel’s Office, which at the time was led by Mr. McGahn, recommended to Mr. Trump that Mr. Kushner not be given a clearance at that level. But the next day, Mr. Trump ordered Mr. Kelly to grant it to Mr. Kushner anyway, the people familiar with the events said.
The question of Mr. Kushner’s access to intelligence was a flash point almost from the beginning of the administration. The initial background check into Mr. Kushner dragged on for more than a year, creating a distraction for the White House, which struggled to explain why one of the people closest to the president had yet to be given the proper approval to be trusted with the country’s most sensitive information.
The full scope of intelligence officials’ concerns about Mr. Kushner is not known. But the clearance had been held up in part over questions from the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. about his foreign and business contacts, including those related to Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Russia, according to multiple people familiar with the events.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr. Kushner was part of a group that met with a Russian lawyer who went to Trump Tower claiming to have political “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. And during the presidential transition, Mr. Kushner had a meeting with the Russian ambassador at the time, Sergey I. Kislyak, and the head of a Russian state-owned bank. When he applied for a security clearance, he did not reveal those meetings.
He later made several amendments to that section of his application, known as an SF86. His aides at the time insisted he had omitted those meetings inadvertently.
Mr. Kushner initially operated with a provisional clearance as his background check proceeded.
In an entry to Mr. Kushner’s personnel file on Sept. 15, 2017, the head of the personnel security division, Carl Kline, wrote, “Per conversation with WH Counsel the clearance was changed to interim Top Secret until we can confirm that the DOJ or someone else actually granted a final clearance. This action is out of an abundance of caution because the background investigation has not been completed.”
In a statement to The Times when Mr. Kushner received the clearance last year, Mr. Lowell said that “his application was properly submitted, reviewed by numerous career officials and underwent the normal process.”
During a review of security clearances in February 2018 that was prompted by the controversy surrounding Rob Porter, then the White House staff secretary, who had been accused of domestic abuse, Mr. Kushner’s clearance was downgraded from interim top secret to secret, limiting his access to classified information. At the time, Mr. Kelly wrote a five-page memo, revoking temporary clearances that had been in place since June 1, 2017.
That affected both Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump, who told friends and advisers that they believed that Mr. Kelly and Mr. McGahn were targeting them for petty reasons instead of legitimate concerns flagged by officials.
Mr. Kushner and Ms. Trump both complained to the president about the situation, current and former administration officials said. In Mr. Kushner’s case, Mr. Trump would often turn to other aides and say in frustration, “Why isn’t this getting done?” according to a former administration official. On at least one occasion, the president asked another senior official if the person could sort out the issue. That official said no, according to this account.
Mr. Kelly did not believe it was appropriate to overrule the security clearance process and had brushed aside or avoided dealing with Mr. Kushner’s requests, a former administration official said. Mr. Kelly did not respond to a request for comment.
House Democrats are in the early stages of an investigation into how several Trump administration officials obtained clearances, including Mr. Kushner.
Mr. Trump’s precise language to Mr. Kelly about Mr. Kushner’s clearance in their direct conversation remains unclear. Two of the people familiar with Mr. Trump’s discussions with Mr. Kelly said that there might be different interpretations of what the president said. But Mr. Kelly believed it was an order, according to two people familiar with his thinking.
And Mr. Trump was definitive in his statements to The Times in the January interview.
“I was never involved with the security” clearances for Mr. Kushner, the president said. “I know that there was issues back and forth about security for numerous people, actually. But I don’t want to get involved in that stuff.”
A recent report by NBC revealed that Mr. Kline had overruled two career security specialists who had rejected Mr. Kushner’s application based on the F.B.I.’s concerns. A senior administration official confirmed the details laid out in the NBC report.
Mr. Kline was acting on the directive sent down by the president, one of the people familiar with the matter said.
The day that Mr. Lowell described Mr. Kushner’s process as having gone through normal routes, aides to Mr. Kushner had asked White House officials to deliver a statement from Mr. Kelly supporting what Mr. Lowell had said. But Mr. Kelly refused to do so, according to a person with knowledge of the events."
Trump Ordered Officials to Give Jared Kushner a Security Clearance - The New York Times
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Sunday, February 24, 2019
"Why do black people still feel we have to retain white empathy at the expense of being truly empathetic to ourselves?
Michelle Obama was the highest-profile black American woman in the world for eight years. A poster advertising her memoir, “Becoming,” is seen in Warsaw earlier this month.
Photo by: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto, via Getty Images
I happened to be finishing Michelle Obama’s memoir, “Becoming,” during her recent surprise appearance at the Grammys. She gave a short speech about music bringing people together — “whether we like country, or rap or rock, music helps us share ourselves,” she said. The timing felt appropriate — it’s Black History Month, and although the Obamas are now ensconced in that history, we are only beginning to truly examine their legacy.
Let me stress that I like Mrs. Obama. I very much identify with her. I, too, was born in the ’60s and grew up working class in a black family that saw higher education as the way forward. What’s always interested me about Mrs. Obama is how she created a modern narrative of black womanhood just by being herself. The most notable accomplishment of her memoir is that she shows how being consciously black and being an individual are not incompatible, but an ordinary state of being.
She is a soldier in the racial struggles that engage all black folks, but at the same time she is human — vulnerable, uncertain, thrilled to be in love, anxious to be liked. She is, for a time, comfortably middle class, too, which may be the most radical part of this narrative, because black folks who acquire money and prestige are assumed not to have any problems worth serious consideration (they are not, in other words, authentically black). Not so.
And yet reading “Becoming” made me realize, with a sinking heart, how much further we have to go before we routinely hear the whole story about black people's experience.
This becomes clear in those brief parts of the book that address two of the most controversial moments of the 2008 presidential campaign: Mrs. Obama’s remark on the campaign trail that “for the first time in my adult life I’m really proud of my country,” and the sermon by the Obamas’ longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., that the media boiled down to the epithet “God damn America.”
In the first case, Mrs. Obama maintains that she meant nothing racial, that she was not being unpatriotic, merely expressing gratitude for the volunteers and good energy of the campaign. In the second case, she condemns Mr. Wright as expressing a racial paranoia that exists on both sides of the color line — “the suspicion and stereotyping ran both ways,” is how she puts it — implying a kind of false equivalency that permeates our politics, especially around race. She dismisses such suspicion in her own relatives, who have lived through segregation and Jim Crow, as so much “cranky mistrust.”
That’s it? After giving the story of black people such loving examination, Mrs. Obama strategically shuts it down. She cannot or will not acknowledge how any black person voicing pride in country for the first time makes perfect sense. She cannot or will not acknowledge that Mr. Wright’s critique of America was part of the liberation theology tradition that includes Martin Luther King Jr., a great patriot.
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. speaking to his congregation at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago in 2006.
Photo by: Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune, via Associated Press
More important, these are critiques I’ve heard in many forms from ordinary black people. I can’t imagine Mrs. Obama hasn’t heard them, too, and doesn’t understand exactly where they come from.
The point is not that she has to completely agree with Mr. Wright. But in her disavowals, she’s making a political choice — not surprising, given the book and other projects that hinge on her popularity and “relatability.” That’s what’s so dismaying. As the highest-profile black American woman in the world for eight years, as a towering first, she has a rare chance — an obligation, in my mind — to broaden the national narrative of exclusion from a story of black striving and overcoming to a story of black discontent. That would be much more meaningful than any feel-good awards-show speech about the “unifying power of music.”
She could at least give our discontent the same consideration she gives to Iowa voters and military families and other groups whom she describes as having opened her eyes to the deepest meanings of being American. But we don’t get that here. Once again we are denied our fullness because of a (justified) fear it will be interpreted as anti-American. Mrs. Obama still follows the rule of assimilation: It’s more important to retain white empathy than to be truly empathetic to ourselves.
Mrs. Obama writes at one point that as a black first lady, her “grace would need to be earned.” She’s talking again about those rules of assimilation, of that familiar burden of having to be three times as good to even be given a chance. (This, of course, is a truth built into the whole phenomena of Black History Month.) Too bad she doesn’t add that, in their incredible forbearance, black Americans earned their grace long ago, as well as their residual resentments and frustrations built up over 400 years, which are dismissed by the mainstream as anger or crankiness.
Mrs. Obama does get it right in the title: More of the story of black Americans is being told than ever before, but there is still so much left out, often deliberately. It — and we — are still becoming."
Opinion | Michelle Obama’s Rules of Assimilation - The New York Times
"The ambitious plan has had a rocky start, but it has also changed the national conversation. That alone is reason to applaud it.
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.
It’s hard to believe, but worth recalling, that during the presidential debates in 2016, not a single question about climate change was put to Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. That, of course, was before a plague of hurricanes, droughts and savage forest fires in California and around the world captured the public’s attention; before Mr. Trump brought renewed focus to the very issue he had dismissed as a hoax by fecklessly rolling back nearly every positive policy thing President Barack Obama had done to address it; before a series of frightening scientific reports appeared last year, warning that the window of opportunity to ward off the worst consequences of a warming globe was quickly closing.
It was also long before anyone had seen a nonbinding congressional resolution calling for something called the Green New Deal, an ambitious plan to tackle climate change (and a lot else, too) that earlier this month burst like a shooting star upon the Washington political and legislative scene. The resolution — introduced by Ed Markey, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a newly elected Democratic representative whose district covers parts of the Bronx and Queens — calls for a “10-year national mobilization” through giant investments in infrastructure and carbon-free energy. It has since won the full or partial allegiance of a half-dozen Democratic presidential hopefuls who pray that town hall participants or debate moderators will ask them what they think about global warming. Which in turn means that, whatever becomes of the plan, it will have moved climate change — a serious issue that has had serious trouble gaining traction — to a commanding position in the national conversation. That alone is reason to applaud it.
In name and concept, the plan is not new. The term Green New Deal appeared in a column in The Times by Thomas Friedman in January 2007, in which he called for a vast public and private investment program that would throw everything under the sun (including, actually, the sun itself) — wind, solar, nuclear power, energy efficiency, advanced research, tax incentives and a price on carbon — into a massive effort to build a more climate-friendly energy system while also revitalizing the American economy.
This is essentially what the Mr. Markey and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez had in mind when they rolled out their resolution on Feb. 7. Unfortunately, that rollout was anything but smooth, due largely to the bungling of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s staff, which posted on her website a set of pugnacious and poorly written talking points (later disavowed) that scared even moderate Democrats. Apart from bold if probably unattainable objectives (a total transformation to renewable energy in 10 years), the talking points dismissed as unacceptable three strategies that many experts say are necessary to any solution: nuclear power, technology that allows fossil fuel plants to capture and store their own emissions, and market-based solutions like a carbon tax or the kind of cap and trade bill that Mr. Markey worked valiantly and unsuccessfully to get Congress to approve 10 years ago. The talking points made other dubious promises, including jobs even for Americans “unwilling” to work. The immediate result of this amateurish mess was to hand Mr. Trump and other climate deniers irresistible political talking points.
The actual resolution seems more measured. It speaks only of a 10-year mobilization effort to reduce carbon emissions, without giving an explicit deadline, and it is silent as to particular strategies, leaving nuclear, carbon capture and price signals very much on the table. It does not mention costs. Some experts believe that fully remaking the energy delivery system could run into the trillions of dollars; proponents argue that spending trillions now could save much more in damages later.
The idea of decarbonizing the economy is ambitious, commendable and urgent. In early January, for instance, came three hugely dispiriting reports. The Rhodium Group, a research firm, estimated that America’s carbon dioxide emissions, after a period of decline, had risen by 3.4 percent in 2018, even as a near-record number of coal plants around the country were retired. The main culprits were economic growth and rising emissions from factories, putting America’s vow to cut greenhouse gas emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 further out of reach, absent bold new policies or technological breakthroughs.
This bad news was followed by a study in Science finding that the oceans are warming at an alarming pace, 40 to 50 percent faster than the United Nations had estimated, putting corals and fisheries at even greater risk. If that were not enough, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences followed with a study predicting faster melting of Antarctica’s huge ice reserves.
These are not good signs, but Mr. Markey, ever the optimist, thinks there is no better time to put forth aggressive ambitions and solutions. Obviously, nothing will happen legislatively as long as the Republicans control the Senate and Mr. Trump sits in the White House. But the stars are aligned, Mr. Markey thinks, for a robust debate about a climate strategy that his party can take to the voters in 2020. The steady drumbeat of alarming reports, plus one climate-related multibillion dollar disaster after another, has raised public consciousness, which in turn increases public pressure on Congress to do something. In an exchange that went viral on Friday, a group of children pressed Democractic Senator Dianne Feinstein over her refusal to support the plan. “We’re the ones who are going to be impacted,” one of the children lamented.
Meanwhile, technological progress toward clean-energy solutions has been nothing short of remarkable, giving the lie to the old denier argument that clean energy inevitably means fewer jobs. Wind capacity has increased more than fourfold in the last decade. Solar power, while still a very small part of the total energy mix, has increased at an even faster rate. And prices for both have dropped to the point where they are increasingly competitive with fossil fuels. Ten years ago, an electric car was a curiosity; now more than a million have been sold in the United States.
For now, the nation must endure Mr. Trump’s boneheaded policies. The president has rejected the Paris agreement on climate change and rolled back Obama-era limits on carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants and methane emissions from oil and gas facilities, while doing all he can to open more lands and waters to oil and gas exploration.
Last week, his administration made clear that it would proceed with plans to weaken fuel economy standards, despite strong objections from California and other states. In addition, The Times reported, he will soon form a special committee whose main purpose, it appears, is to challenge warnings from the Pentagon and intelligence agencies that global warming poses a threat to national security.
The immediate task facing the Democrats in 2021 — if they win control of the White House and Congress — will be to reverse Mr. Trump’s reversals. But even now, there are familiar policies that the Democrats, who control the House, can pass through key committees and the full House to force the Senate, and the nation, to debate them. These policies could go a long way toward meeting a goal of net zero emissions by midcentury, less than what the Green New Deal calls for but consistent with the recommendations of the United Nations. They could include a national electricity standard utilizing nuclear and carbon capture along with wind and solar; larger (and more consistent) tax incentives for electric vehicles; an infrastructure program that brings serious federal dollars to bear on improving efficiency in buildings and the electrical grid; major efforts to promote the sequestration of carbon in forests, farms and public lands — a critical component, which the Green New Deal recognizes, in any effort to pull carbon from the atmosphere.
Step-by-step measures like these will suit the political temperature of most House Democrats (only about 70 of whom have endorsed the Green New Deal), including the speaker, Nancy Pelosi, who gave even the toned-down resolution the back of her hand — “The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?”
Whether such measures will satisfy the activists who have gathered around Ms. Ocasio-Cortez is another matter. After all, her talking points, as well as the resolution itself, speak also of providing higher education for all Americans; universal health care; affordable housing; remedies for “systemic injustices” among the poor, the elderly and people of color; and a federal job guarantee insuring “a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations and retirement security.”
Which raises this question: Is the Green New Deal aimed at addressing the climate crisis? Or is addressing the climate crisis merely a cover for a wish-list of progressive policies and a not-so-subtle effort to move the Democratic Party to the left? At least some candidates — Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota among them — seem to think so.
Read literally, the resolution wants not only to achieve a carbon-neutral energy system but also to transform the economy itself. As Mr. Markey can tell you from past experience, the first goal is going to be hard enough. Tackling climate change in a big way is in itself likely to be transformative. We should get on with it."
Opinion | The Green New Deal Is Better Than Our Climate Nightmare - The New York Times