Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Not In A Vacuum

Is it just a coincidence that white supremacists showed up at a Black Lives Matter encampment in Minneapolis looking for trouble in the same news cycle that the leading Republican candidate told several large crowds and the news media that a Black Lives Matter protester “deserved to be roughed up”?

I am sure Mr. Trump will say that he had nothing to do with the shooting in Minneapolis — either the one by the neo-Nazis or the one by the police that started the demonstration.  In fact, he and his supporters probably think that they’re the ones who are the victims here because none if this would have happened if those uppity protesters knew their place.

This kind of thing does not happen in a vacuum.  Mr. Trump started it; he can end it.  But that would mean ending his campaign, so it’s not going to happen on his part.  That leaves it to the rest of us.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Roughing Up

Via the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Five protesters were shot late Monday night near the Black Lives Matter encampment at the Fourth Precinct police station in north Minneapolis, according to police.

Those who were shot sustained non-life-threatening injuries, said police spokesman John Elder in a statement.

Miski Noor, a media contact for Black Lives Matter, said “a group of white supremacists showed up at the protest, as they have done most nights.”

One of the three counterdemonstrators wore a mask, said Dana Jaehnert, who had been at the protest site since early evening.

When about a dozen protesters attempted to herd the group away from the area, Noor said, they “opened fire on about six protesters,” hitting five of them. Jaehnert said she heard four gunshots.


The protesters, angry over the fatal police shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark on Nov. 15, have maintained a presence outside the police station ever since.

Eddie Sutton, Jamar’s brother, issued this statement early Tuesday morning in response to the shootings:

“Thank you to the community for the incredible support you have shown for our family in this difficult time. We appreciate Black Lives Matter for holding it down and keeping the protests peaceful. But in light of tonight’s shootings, the family feels out of imminent concern for the safety of the occupiers, we must get the occupation of the 4th precinct ended and onto the next step.”

I would hope that Donald Trump will denounce this type of “roughing up,” but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Short Takes

President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu made nice in their Oval Office meeting.

The Burmese opposition claimed a landslide victory in parliamentary elections.

The president of the University of Missouri system resigned due to protests over racial tensions.

The World Anti-Doping Agency accused Russian athletes, coaches and team doctors of systematic doping.

What is it with Republicans and making up personal history?

Tropical Update: TS Kate pops up north of the Bahamas and heads east.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Short Takes

Iran convicted Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, but they didn’t say of what.

Suicide bombers were behind the bombing in Turkey last week.

Russian warplanes are carrying out more airstrikes in Syria.

Confederate flag-wavers indicted for disrupting a black birthday party.

Dell Computers buys EMC for $65 billion.

The Nobel Prize for Economics went to Angus Deaton of Princeton.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Another Dispatch From Post-Racial America

Via TPM:

Politico reported that state Rep. Janet Adkins (R) made the suggestion regarding U.S. Rep. Corrinne Brown’s (D) district in a closed-door meeting of the North Florida Republican caucus.

“It’s a perfect storm,” Adkins said on the audio recording. “You draw it in such a fashion so perhaps, a majority, or maybe not a majority, but a number of them will live in the prisons, thereby not being able to vote.”

Adkins made sure there were no reporters in the room before she made her comments, according to the report.

Speaking of fashion, Janet, you look lovely in those flowing white robes, and the hood adds just the perfect touch of nostalgia for those old times there that are not forgotten.

Florida is undergoing redistricting because the lines drawn the last time were deemed to be in violation of the Florida constitution’s ban on making them blatantly partisan.  The legislature had to have a special session in August to try again, and they deadlocked.  Now it’s up to the court to do it right.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Short Takes

China devalued their currency to stabilize their place in the world market.

Right-wing armed militia freaks show up to “patrol” Ferguson with assault rifles.

Greece is on the verge of clinching a deal for a new bailout.

The EPA is hard at work to clean up its ten-million gallon mess in Colorado and New Mexico.

Watch the skies: The Perseid meteor shower peaks this week.

The Tigers lost 6-1 in K.C.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday, July 6, 2015

Short Takes

U.S. women’s soccer team for the win over Japan 5-2.

Greece votes “OXI” (“No”) to the bailout.

Secretary of State Kerry locked in negotiations with Iran as deadline approaches.

New York prison escapee returned to the joint.

South Carolina legislators brace for Confederate flag debate.

The Tigers had a topsy-turvy weekend against the Blue Jays.

(Footnote: this is the 2,400 edition of Short Takes.  Good morning.)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

That Settles It

Well, what a relief.

“America isn’t a racist country, not even close,” she wrote in an op-ed in The Hill on Monday. “The left falsely saying so promotes not progress but division. American history includes slavery and racism, but its current status and future as a whole does not.”

And she should know because she has never heard a racist epithet about her.  So there.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Everybody On Stage For The Funeral Number

Jimmy Durante, the late great vaudevillian, once noted “Everybody wants ta get inta the act!”

This Friday’s funeral for Rev. Clementa Pinckey, who was one of the people killed in the massacre in Charleston last week, will be a crowded affair.  President Obama will deliver the eulogy and Congress is shortening their business week so they can all be there, including the Republican leadership.  They’re also piling on to the “take down the flag” movement which, until Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) said she was in favor of, got a lot of “well, I don’t knows” from the GOP.  But once the Republican governor of one of the first primary states said it was okay, they all joined in.

Interesting, isn’t it?  None of these people bothered to show up to the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday at the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, which is just as potent a reminder of the struggle for civil rights as the Confederate flag, but now that they perceive it’s okay to walk away from the white supremacist base of the party, they’ll be there.

Charlie Pierce:

Now, of course, we will hear a lot of ahistorical braggadocio about how it was Republicans who freed the slaves, and passed the civil rights acts in the 1960s, Party Of Lincoln and all that. And we will hear about how great we are in general because we have all come together to agree that, in 2015, we decline to further glorify the symbol of a bloody insurrection launched in defense of chattel slavery. We rock. We are so very awesome. I give it a couple of weeks before the conventional wisdom congeals that we have “moved past the controversy” and we can all get back to gutting the Fair Housing Act and undermining voting rights and performing all the rites and rituals that have come to mark the Day of Jubilee.

Jimmy Durante was right; it’s all an act.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Proving His Point

President Obama:

We’re not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of not being polite to say ‘nigger’ in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t overnight completely erase everything that happened 200 or 300 years prior.

It’s ironic that the right-wingers are worked up about President Obama using that word when they’re the ones who shrug (or retweet) when one of them uses it about the president.

It’s even more ironic that their twitterpation is proving the president’s point.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Another Reason To Go To Quaker Meeting

So you don’t have to watch crap like this masquerading as “news analysis” on Sunday mornings.

While the country — and South Carolina, in particular — is once again debating racism in America, NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday offered a video of men in prison expressing regret for their own gun violence. All of the men in the video are black.

The segment was part of Sunday’s show, which focused on the recent killing of nine black people at a bible study group in Charleston, South Carolina. The alleged shooter, Dylann Roof, is accused of making racist statements during the rampage and in an online manifesto that describes black people as “stupid and violent.” He has been seen in photos online holding a Confederate flag and wearing the flags of apartheid-era South Africa and white-ruled Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

“The circumstances you are about to see are very different from the racist violence in Charleston,” Meet the Press host Chuch Todd said in the introduction to the video.

“But their lessons remain important, and we simply ask you to look at this as a colorblind issue,” he said.


“The last thing we wanted was to cloud the discussion of the topic,” Todd wrote on the NBC website after receiving a wave of negative feedback on social media about the video.

“The original decision to air this segment was made before Wednesday’s massacre. However, the staff and I had an internal debate about whether to show it at all this week. When we discussed putting it off, that conversation centered around race and perception – not the conversation we wanted the segment to invoke,” he said.

In a panel discussion responding to the blowback, Todd said, “It wasn’t meant to be a black and white issue. And I understand maybe it’s one of those moments when people are only seeing through black and white.”

Yessir, we’ll really get to the bottom of race relations in America by showing a bunch of pundits sitting around talking about what the black experience is like.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Crash of Symbols

If the Confederate flag was offensive enough to the Texas DMV to ban a license plate with it, you would think that it would be time to stop flying the flag on the lawn of the statehouse in South Carolina.

Ta-Nehisi Coates:

The Confederate flag’s defenders often claim it represents “heritage not hate.” I agree—the heritage of White Supremacy was not so much birthed by hate as by the impulse toward plunder. Dylann Roof plundered nine different bodies last night, plundered nine different families of an original member, plundered nine different communities of a singular member. An entire people are poorer for his action. The flag that Roof embraced, which many South Carolinians embrace, does not stand in opposition to this act—it endorses it.

After the fall of the Third Reich, Germany banned the symbols of the Nazi era, including the swastika.  It was an ancient symbol used by many cultures including Native Americans, but Hitler and his gang turned it into  a sign of evil, repression, and mass murder.  (John Ross Bowie tweeted, “The confederate flag is about ‘states rights’ the way the swastika is about ‘fixing the German economy.'”)

Here in America we don’t ban symbols by law.  The First Amendment protects the right of people to fly whatever flag they want as long as it’s not obscene, and besides, banning the Confederate flag would only make it a martyr to a lost cause and give its believers something to rally around.  But we can remove it from our presence by shaming the otherwise reasonable people who defend the act of flying the flag into taking it down lest they be associated with the Dylann Roofs of the world.

It Was Racism

The way some people see it, Dylann Roof’s attack on the Emmanuel A.M.E. church Wednesday night that left nine people dead was an attack on “religious liberty.”  The people who are saying that are, to be charitable, out of their fucking minds.  Mr. Roof has a long history of racism and so when he opened fire, he wasn’t doing it because he objected to bible study.

Of course the chatterers at Fox News would do anything to avoid the racism charge because as we all know, America is no longer a racist country because hey, didn’t we twice elect that guy from Kenya with the sketchy birth certificate and the secret Muslim leanings?  Besides, the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act so that means we’re all getting along just fine.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Clap Your Hands, Go To Jail

So this happened in America:

Four people, including Ursula Miller and Henry Walker, both of whom are black, were asked to leave the ceremony after cheering on the graduates.


A few days after the ceremony, those asked to leave for cheering were served with arrest warrants.

Foster, who is white, pressed disturbing the peace charges against the attendees by filing an affidavit with the county Justice Court, which issued arrest warrants, the police and court clerk told TPM.

Wow.  Just… wow.  (As Doktor Zoom at Wonkette notes, at least they weren’t tased.  Or shot in the back.)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Notes From Post-Racial America, Ctd.

I was not the only one to notice that the coverage of Waco and Baltimore was different.

Unlike in Ferguson and Baltimore, where protests went on for days, there was no live news coverage of the Waco shootout. And yet the incident at a Texas restaurant hasn’t been used as a bridge to discuss other issues about families, poverty and crime, media critics, columnists and civil rights activists say.

They complain that there appears to be little societal concern about the gunplay at a restaurant in Texas, whereas politicians — including President Barack Obama — described violent looters in Baltimore as “thugs,” and the media devoted hours of television and radio airtime to dissecting social ills that affect the black community.

On Twitter, #wacothugs and #whiteonwhitecrime were trending, with columnists around the nation debating the differences. “So the mainstream media refuses to talk (hashtag)WacoThugs, huh? No panel discussion on their childhood? Fatherless homes?” radio and TV commentator Roland Martin said on Facebook. The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates tweeted sarcastically, “Why won’t America’s biker gangs be more like Dr. Martin Luther King?”

There are a lot of reasons for this cognitive dissonance, but the most obvious one is that we — all of us — have a tendency to think in terms of groups.  Political parties tend to think that all people in a certain group will vote a certain way, so they pitch their message to the broadest denominator they can come up with to attract them and then run with it.  For example, Republicans hope that by nominating Marco Rubio, they’ll attract the Latino vote all over the country despite the fact that Mr. Rubio is Cuban and there’s a history of animus between Cubans and Latinos who are not.  (Not to pick on just the Latinos; there’s animus between any number of groups within groups.  Go to an antique car club meeting, toss out “Mustangs kick Camaros ass,” and run for your life.)   Democrats try to find candidates who will appeal to the patchwork of groups that vote for them, so they’re on the hunt for a black Latina lesbian from a working-class neighborhood in Evansville to give the keynote speech at the convention.

The problem with that is that thinking all people in a certain group think alike, even if they agree overwhelmingly on an issue such as immigration or marriage equality, may say so for vastly different reasons.  A businessman may want amnesty-granting immigration reform not because he cares about the horrible living conditions in a foreign country but because he needs someone to pick his tomatoes.  A gay man could be unalterably opposed to same-sex marriage not because of any biblical imprecation but because he sees it as just one more way the queer community is desperately trying to conform to the ways and mores of the straight world.  It’s been shown that one reason Obamacare still polls unfavorably is because not only are there those who say it’s Commie socialized medicine, but there are those who don’t think it’s Commie socialized medicine enough.

It is hard-wired in our nature to lump people together by identifiers such as race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or any convenient way of categorizing someone else, including social groups like clubs or gangs.  Even the most open-minded of us will still see the world in what is basically an “us vs. them” mentality, and Waco vs. Baltimore is one more example.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Notes From Post-Racial America

When members of a largely African-American community committed property damage during protest demonstrations against the killing of an unarmed black man in Baltimore, it was a sign of social decay and a need for moral clarity.

When a bunch of biker gangs had a shoot-out in Waco, Texas, and left nine people dead, it was a “brouhaha,” not unlike when frat boys get rowdy after their university wins — or loses — a football game.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

That Was Then

Radley Balko has a very good article in the Washington Post titled “This isn’t 1968. Baltimore isn’t Watts. And Hillary Clinton isn’t Michael Dukakis.”

It’s much easier to demagogue riots to exploit white fear of black crime than it is to ask complicated questions about what caused this group of people to grow so desperate in the first place. Historically, that tact has also won elections, and deviating from it arguably has lost them.

You need to read the whole article, please.