Friday, January 8, 2021

Happy Friday

Trump released a hostage video of himself.

Trump promised a smooth transition in a video message posted on Twitter Thursday night, saying that his supporters had pursued post-election challenges in good faith, but “now tempers must be cooled and calm restored.”

Trump’s comments are the closest he has come to acknowledging his loss, and they follow escalating calls for his removal, coming hours after the nation’s top congressional Democrats demanded he be removed from office for his role in the deadly sacking of the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

Too late; Congressional leaders are ramping up calls for either the 25th Amendment, impeachment, or resignation.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on officials to immediately invoke the 25th Amendment, warning that they are prepared to begin impeachment proceedings if the Cabinet and vice president do not act.

Though that extraordinary step is unlikely to succeed, it is a sign that a growing number of Democrats and Republicans now believe Trump is too dangerous to remain president.

Trump “invited an armed insurrection against the United States of America,” Pelosi told reporters a day after a pro-Trump mob incited by the president stormed the Capitol, vandalizing the building and forcing lawmakers to evacuate. One woman was fatally shot and three people died of other causes.

Over the course of the day, a growing chorus of officials — including current Cabinet secretaries and Trump allies — strongly chastised the president, who stayed out of sight until his evening message, in which he denounced the mob attack, adding “to those who broke the law, you will pay.”

Reading off a script in a flat voice, Trump claimed he immediately deployed the National Guard to help secure the building and expel the intruders. Other officials have disputed that account. Trump also claimed his attempts to overturn the election results were simply his efforts to “ensure the integrity of the vote.”

“Now, Congress has certified the results,” he said. “A new administration will be inaugurated on January 20th. My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power.”

I still hold to my belief that nothing will happen to actually end Trump’s regime before January 20, but with the proverbial rats leaving the sinking ship — so far two members of the Cabinet — Elaine Chao and Betsy DeVos have resigned — at the least the hue and cry will clamp down on anything he might attempt while leaving the building, like start a war or pardon himself.  Not that either Ms. Chao or Ms. DeVos deserve anything more than a golf clap for for finally finding the courage to stand up now when his behavior has been outrageous and an assault on the Constitution since they were sworn in.

A lot can happen in twelve days.

Vanda orchid in bloom.

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Looking Back/Looking Forward

I’ve been wondering how I would do this post for a long time.  I even debated doing it at all, sure that everything I predicted for this year would be out the window and over the fence because once I write it, I don’t look at it.  So, let’s open the time capsule and see what’s inside.

Trump will survive impeachment.  The fix is in.  Revelations about his corruption will keep on coming, and yet the Republicans will cower with him.  It will be his big campaign rallying point.

That was an easy one.

I have no idea who the Democratic Party will nominate for president, and neither do you, but whoever it is will beat Trump in November despite the best efforts of the Kremlin.  I hope it is by such a margin that even Fox News will call it a blowout.  Trump will scream and carry on about it being rigged, but by this time in 2020, he’ll be doing everything he can to trash the place on the way out the door with pardons and lame-duck appointments of Nazi sympathizers and pedophiles.  (If I’m wrong on this and Trump is reelected, I’m moving to Montserrat.  It’s safer to live on an island with an active volcano.)

Wow, I’m impressed how I nailed that one.

Obamacare will survive in the Supreme Court but by a 5-4 ruling.

They haven’t ruled on the latest attempt to kill it, but it sounds like it will survive based on the weakness of the case brought by Texas.

There will be more restrictions placed on reproductive rights, but Roe v. Wade will not be struck down.

Still with us. I give it even odds with the new court in the future.

The Democrats will take back the Senate by one seat and all that bottled-up legislation will finally get through in time for the House, still under Nancy Pelosi, to pass them all again and get them signed by the new president.

Close but no cigar. We’ll know the outcome of this one next week.

The economic bubble will burst, the trade deals with China and Europe will screw over the American consumer, and it’s going to look like one of those 19,000 piece domino videos.  Trump and Fox will blame the Democrats for the monster deficit and carry on about how we need to cut more taxes and destroy Social Security and Medicare to save them.

And it did, thanks to Covid-19. More on that later.

Even with the Democrats taking over in 2020, they won’t be in office until January 2021, so I’ll save predictions for what they’ll come up with in terms of health care, gun safety, and climate change until this time next year, assuming my house in the suburbs of Miami at 10 feet above sea level is still on dry land.

See below.

As for me, my playwriting and productions thereof will continue.  I’m planning on my 29th trip to the Inge Festival in May and hope to be invited back to Alaska in June.  As I’m writing this, the novel that I started twenty-five years ago tomorrow is on the glide path to land by the time I go back to work next week.  I can predict that it will never be published because I never meant it to be.

This was a productive year for me as a playwright: 23 new plays written since this time last year: 4 full length, 1 monologue, 2 one-acts, 1 one-minute, and 15 ten-minutes. I compiled 2 anthologies. Four of them were produced via pixels. Covid-19 postponed Inge and Valdez to 2021, and plans are in the works to return with the vaccine swimming in my bloodstream. I signed with Smith Scripts to publish and license seven plays and two anthologies. And I did finish “Bobby Cramer” on January 10, 2020.

As for hopes for the new year, I hope for continued good health and fortune for my friends and family.  I can’t ask for more than that.

I remain in good health, so far. Regular readers know that my father died on May 25 from Covid-19. My mom, aka Faithful Correspondent, is in assisted living and spending a lot of time doing a lot a reading. She passes on her best wishes to her faithful readers.

Now on to my fearless predictions for 2021.

  • Trump will not go quietly; he may even announce his run for 2024 as they give him the bum’s rush, literally or figuratively, as Joe Biden is being sworn in.  But by March, if not sooner, he’ll be old news and as much a distant memory as “Pink Lady and Jeff.” (Look it up.)
  • The Republicans will do as much as they can to throw squirrels in the wood-chipper for President Biden like they did with President Obama, but I have a feeling it won’t happen.  For one thing, Joe Biden isn’t Barack Obama, and second, this country is so fucking tired of noise and fury and discombobulation that the GOP will find little patience for the MAGA noise.
  • Every executive order signed by Trump will be rescinded by President Biden.
  • Relations with Cuba, put on ice by Trump, will resume its thaw under Biden, and los historicos in Miami can lump it.
  • The pandemic will be under control by June — just in time for my trip to Alaska — and the masks and restrictions will slowly and cautiously be going away by Labor Day.  The final casualty count, though, will be over 500,000 deaths.  I wish I could say there will be a reckoning for those who could have prevented it, but I doubt it.
  • Racial and social justice will continue to make strides forward, and it is to be hoped that with an administration that is not actively opposed to it and supporting racism, overt or otherwise, we will be further along than we are now.
  • The economy will slowly recover as the pandemic gets under control and people emerge from isolation.  The Republicans will suddenly remember that they hate deficits, something they never seem to worry about when they’re in the White House.
  • Obamacare will survive in the Supreme Court because the case brought by Texas is flawed.  Even the conservatives on the court seem skeptical during oral arguments in November.
  • Foreign relations will improve now that the bully has been sent packing.  Suddenly France, Germany, and the EU will be more willing to work with us, and although my expertise in foreign affairs is limited, I think we’ll be better off with China and Japan than we are now.  Russia will still try to mess with us, but at least they won’t have an ally in the White House.
  • We will still have soldiers in harm’s way overseas a year from today.
  • On a personal level, I will strive to keep up my writing.  I have made many connections during these uncertain times, and they will grow.
  • As for hopes for the new year, I hope for continued good health and fortune for my friends and family.  I can’t ask for more than that.

I am glad 2020 is over.  But in reality, the date on the calendar doesn’t matter; it’s up to all of us to make this year as good or as bad as we can.  Unpredictable things will continue to happen: a year ago, “coronavirus” was a crossword puzzle clue, “wear a mask” was a Halloween suggestion, social distancing was for introverts, and Zoom was a brand of hot cereal.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring.  I just hope we’re all here to find out.

Monday, December 14, 2020

The Old College Try

Today is the day the Electoral College meets, each elector in their own state and the District of Columbia, to actually cast votes for the president and vice president.

It’s over. At that point, the outcome can’t be changed. New electors can’t be appointed in any state, by legislatures or any other means. No time machine exists to undo the meetings of each state’s electors that already have occurred.

There is nothing for Congress to do except to accept that Biden has won based on a majority of the electoral college ballots cast on Monday.

Of course, Congress still must receive and count these electoral college votes and formally pronounce Biden the winner, in a special joint session on Jan. 6. But that will be a mere formality. No officially sanctioned slates of rival electors — from state legislatures, as previously feared (and urged by President Trump), for example — exist for Congress to decide between. Republican senators can go ahead now and publicly acknowledge the result.

Some people can’t deal with that.

Trump signaled that he will continue to challenge the results of the 2020 election even after the electoral college meets Monday in most state capitols to cast votes solidifying Joe Biden’s victory.

In a Fox News interview that aired Sunday morning, Trump repeated his false claims of election fraud and said his legal team will continue to pursue challenges, despite the Supreme Court’s recent dismissal of a long-shot bid to overturn the results in four states Biden won.

“No, it’s not over,” Trump told host Brian Kilmeade in the interview, which was taped Saturday at the Army-Navy game at the U.S. Military Academy. “We keep going, and we’re going to continue to go forward. We have numerous local cases. We’re, you know, in some of the states that got rigged and robbed from us. We won every one of them. We won Pennsylvania. We won Michigan. We won Georgia by a lot.”

And I got an e-mail from Publishers Clearing House that says I might be a winner.

What I think disturbs me is that a lot of people can’t deal with it and lash out, including the violence on the streets from those right-wingers who said would be the result of Trump winning another term and that the left couldn’t deal with it.

Nearly three dozen people were arrested during a night of unrest in downtown Washington that began Saturday with rallies supporting President Trump and descended into chaos and violence as a group with ties to white nationalism roamed the streets looking to fight.

One of those arrested was 29-year-old Phillip Johnson of the District, who was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon in connection with at least one of four stabbings that occurred.

For most of the day, police largely kept opposing factions separated, at times frustrating the Proud Boys, a male-chauvinist organization that supports Trump’s attempts to reverse an election he lost.

It’s not exactly Berlin in 1935, but it’s coming from the same mind-set.

Ever the optimist — and counting on a goldfish-level of short-term memory — I think that by the time we get to January 6, which is when Congress will officially certify that Joe Biden won, Trump will be grumbling to himself in South Florida (and trying to figure out how to dodge a subpoena from the Southern District of New York on January 21), and Americans will be lining up to get their Covid-19 vaccinations and wondering what name the Cleveland Baseball Team will call themselves from now on.

Sometimes it’s a good thing to be easily distracted.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Sunday Reading

How To Stop a Coup — Lizzie Widdiecombe in The New Yorker.

Ah, election season. There’s a patriotic buzz in the air. Bumper stickers and lawn signs all over the neighborhood. Now comes the time when we check the location of our polling places, make a plan to vote—and pack a “go bag” in case we need to take to the streets in sustained mass protest to protect the integrity of the vote count. That last one is not something you’d expect to be doing in the United States, but things are different in the Trump era. For months, the President has been warning that he might not concede the election in November if he loses, telling reporters who asked him to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, “There won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation.” It sounded ominous, although it was hard to imagine how he could make good on the threat to stick around no matter what. Then, media organizations began publishing pieces outlining the myriad ways in which the President and his allies might turn a narrow loss into a win. The possibilities include familiar tactics—contesting mail-in ballots and turning the process into Bush v. Gore on steroids—and others that sound straight out of a police state. For example, Trump could summon federal agents or his supporters to stop a recount or intimidate voters. According to some experts, this would constitute an autogolpe, or “self coup”: when a President who obtained power through constitutional means holds onto it through illegitimate ones, beginning the slide into authoritarianism.

O.K., then. Time to start getting ready. But how, exactly, do we do that? In September, a group of organizers and researchers published a fifty-five-page manual called “Hold the Line: A Guide to Defending Democracy,” which has been downloaded more than eighteen thousand times. And the Indivisible Project, along with a coalition called Stand Up America, are preparing their members to take to the streets if Trump contests the election results. “I’ve been beating the drum on this particular cause since July, and I’m delighted to see so many people coming around to it,” the activist and sociologist George Lakey said recently. His own “Aha!” moment came when Trump sent federal agents in military fatigues to Portland, Oregon, to tangle with protesters. “It hit me, the way Trump is dealing with Portland, Oregon, that’s a test,” he said. He guessed that Trump was hoping to provoke a violent backlash from the protesters, so that he could lay the groundwork for not accepting the election results, under the pretense that the country had descended into violent chaos. “Trump can be underestimated by the left,” Lakey said. “He gets made fun of, but he’s shrewd.”

Lakey, who is eighty-two, is best known for his book “A Manual for Direct Action,” from 1964, which was often referred to as a bible for the participants of the civil-rights movement. Since then, he has trained activists in countries including South Africa, Thailand, and Sri Lanka in their struggles against repressive regimes. “In the U.S., we’re used to waiting for social change,” he said, referring to multiyear efforts like the civil-rights or women’s-rights movements. But defeating a coup is different. “Everything happens really fast. You’ve got sometimes three days, sometimes a week, sometimes three months to beat a coup.” The average American activist needed a new skill set. “This is the teen-ager who’s been playing excellent football, and now he wants to play baseball,” he said. “He can’t just walk on the field and be great. He needs to learn a new set of rules.”

In August, Lakey helped form a group called Choose Democracy that has been circulating a pledge committing people to “nonviolently take to the streets if a coup is attempted,” which has more than thirty thousand signatures. And he began giving a series of training sessions via Zoom called “How To Beat an Election-Related Power Grab.” On a recent Thursday, at 7:30 P.M., more than five hundred concerned citizens tuned in. They exchanged greetings on the group chat:

Hello from “Bad things happen” in Philadelphia!

Please do more of these!!! I know lots of white suburban women who are interested.

Lakey, who has white hair and bushy white eyebrows, is a Quaker, and brings a cheerful, Sunday-school-style delivery to lessons about overthrowing authoritarian regimes. He began with the work of the political scientist Stephen Zunes, who has studied occasions when the citizens of a country managed to rise up and defeat a coup: Bolivia, in 1978; the Soviet Union, in 1991; Thailand, in 1992; and Burkina Faso, in 2015. According to Zunes, these movements had several things in common: they were nonviolent, and they drew from a broad cross-section of society. And they refused to compromise. So, Lakey emphasized, there could be no cutting a deal with Trump. “That is reeeeally important,” he said, citing a demand from the Choose Democracy pledge: “Every vote must be counted. And we refuse to accept the authority of someone who is practicing something different.” Another takeaway, for activists, is to focus “on the center of the political spectrum,” Lakey said. “We’re looking to influence them to tip the outcome of the struggle in our direction.” Will they side with the protesters or with Trump?

To illustrate, he told the story of the Kapp Putsch, in the Weimar Republic. In 1920, a group of soldiers, veterans, and civilians tried to seize control of Berlin, under the right-wing leadership of Wolfgang Kapp. The legitimate government fled, and Kapp proclaimed himself the country’s leader. “He walked into the capitol building ready to run the country,” Lakey said. “However, he found that the government workers had all gone on strike. There was nobody in the building except him.” He wanted to issue a proclamation that he was running the country, Lakey added, “But he didn’t know how to type. So, the next day, he had to bring his daughter to type out the manifesto.” The coup collapsed within days. Lakey said, “The magic in that situation was the rapid alliance that was built, over a weekend, between the left”—trade unions, Communists—“and the center. It could overcome the right wing, even though they had the Army.”

He said that his listeners should start to build similar alliances. “Go beyond the usual suspects: the progressives, the left.” One woman asked in the chat, “Who is the Center in the US these days? Dems? Church? Libertarians? Moderate Republicans? Ha. How to trust them?” Lakey assured his audience that, while the U.S. may feel extremely polarized, “the truth is we’re not nearly as polarized as we may become.” He said that centrists could be found everywhere from the business world to the medical establishment. “Bank presidents. People who manage schools or colleges . . . you name it, if it’s some kind of institution that expects to have a future.”

There were questions about tactics. 
“What does refusal to recognize illegitimate authority look like?
” one participant wrote. Mass protests? Lakey warned that, while marches may be useful, “in my opinion they are wayyyy overrated.” (It is hard to imagine a Trumpist regime being swayed by a mob of citizens in pussy hats.) Instead, he encouraged his audience to think strategically. He pulled up a slide titled “Pillars of Power,” which showed a classical edifice. The roof was labelled “Regime/Status Quo.” The pillars were labelled with the words Business, Politicians, Military, Media, Judiciary, Police, and Bureaucracies. “Obviously, the Trump family is not going to be able to run the government by itself,” he said. They’ll need institutional support. “The question is how do we, as activists, go after these pillars in such a way as to encourage them to buckle, and allow the Trump regime, or his attempted regime, to fall?” Participants in the chat then came up with politicians they might approach:

Last, Lakey clicked to a slide that said, “What about Violence?” This topic had been hovering over the proceedings. Zunes, the political scientist, had said in a recent interview, “The thing that scares me the most is, unlike all these other countries I’ve studied, this country has millions of people who have guns—and not just guns but semi-automatic weapons—that are loyal Trump supporters, and whom he can call out to suppress such a nonviolent uprising.” Several attendees had expressed concerns in the chat about groups like the Proud Boys and right-wing militias, writing things like, “
I have never been in a demonstration where some people are likely to have automatic weapons.”

Lakey acknowledged, “There are a lot of alarming things going on already in this country with regard to what I call Trump’s ‘irregulars.’ ” He said that protesters should plan their rallies for places where it would be difficult for violence to break out: in the lobby of an office building or in a car caravan. He told participants to imagine that they were Proud Boys looking to “rumble.” “Ask, ‘What would they welcome?’ And then not do that!” he said. One tip, from the civil-rights movement: “When in doubt, sit down. It’s counterintuitive. But it has been used in multiple cultures, and it works.” (Except with tear gas. Then, he said, “walking slowly would be best.”)

If things do get ugly, he noted, it could be useful for the cause. “Get your smartphone and expose what happened. Offer yourself for interviews,” he said. The key is to draw a contrast between the violent regime and the peaceful protesters. That’s what happened during Thailand’s military coup, in 1992, when soldiers shot into a crowd of nonviolent demonstrators. The public was horrified. “It brought a surge of people into the struggle that overthrew the coup plotters,” Lakey said. “What we’re teaching tonight is evidence-based. It’s how baseball is played.”

Frances Brokaw, a retired physician and Quaker in Hanover, New Hampshire, attended the Zoom training and came away feeling better about the coming weeks. “I found it helpful and hopeful,” she said. She’d written to New Hampshire’s secretary of state, a Democrat, and its governor, a Republican, asking them not certify the election results until all absentee ballots have been counted. The secretary of state’s office had responded affirmatively. “I haven’t heard back from the governor,” she said. But she plans to keep writing. And she will join in street protests if necessary, despite the spectre of election-related violence and the threat of the coronavirus. “If need be, I’m ready,” she said. “If we’re talking about the well-being and safety of millions of people in this country from this President—who is totally off the rails from what I’ve seen—yes, I’ll put myself on the line for that. I have a grandson who’s five months old, and I want the world to be safe for him.”

Cuba Goes For Trump? — Tim Golden in The New York Times.

With Florida again looking pivotal in the presidential race, Donald Trump and Joe Biden have found themselves revisiting a decades-old question that could decide a crucial share of votes: What to do about Cuba?

It’s a debate that many analysts thought was largely over. When President Barack Obama traveled to Havana in 2016 to “bury the Cold War” between the two countries, the tentative support of many Cuban-Americans surprised even hopeful Democrats. That fall, Hillary Clinton — who had called for ending the United States economic embargo against Cuba “once and for all” — won more Cuban votes in Florida than Mr. Obama had collected in 2012.

Four years later, the Cold War is decidedly back. In a sustained barrage of punitive measures, Mr. Trump has restricted travel to the island, blocked investment and withdrawn most American diplomats from Havana. Visas for Cubans to visit or join family in the United States have been cut sharply. The administration has even begun to limit the ways Cuban-Americans can send money to their relatives.

But while Cuban-Americans oppose many of those specific policies, according to a survey this summer by Florida International University, two-thirds broadly support Mr. Trump’s confrontational stance toward the island’s Communist government.

“Ultimately, most Cuban-Americans view logistical inconveniences as a small price to pay for freedom and accountability of a dictatorship that has oppressed its people for far too long,” said Mercedes Schlapp, a Cuban-American who served in the Trump White House and is a senior adviser to the Trump campaign.

Mr. Biden argues that the president’s tough line should be judged by the results, not the rhetoric. “The administration’s approach is not working,” he said on a visit to Miami this month. “Cuba is no closer to democracy than it was four years ago.”

Yet if recent polling holds, analysts said, Mr. Trump could win 60 percent of the Cuban-American vote — surpassing the estimated 50 percent to 54 percent he won in the 2016 election. “Trump has gone through the roof with the poll numbers from Hispanics,” the president told a group of Cuban-American supporters at the White House last month. “I guess they didn’t know I love you, but I do.”

Even as the race in Florida has tightened, it remains to be seen whether the Cuba issue is still potent enough, almost 62 years after the revolution, to help swing the state and its 29 electoral votes; along with New York, Florida has the third-largest number of electoral votes, after California and Texas. The two-thirds of Cuban-Americans who live in Florida account for only about 5 percent of its roughly 14 million voters. But their shifting views on American policy are again drawing outsize attention in a state that remains closely divided between the two parties.

“This clearly is a harder line” toward Cuba, said Guillermo Grenier, a sociologist at Florida International University who has overseen its surveys of Cuban-American opinion for nearly 30 years.

To Miami’s old guard, who fled Cuba after the 1959 revolution, Mr. Obama’s attempt to promote change through closer engagement was always dangerously naïve. By not conditioning his opening on human rights improvements, they argued, Mr. Obama threw then-President Raúl Castro an economic lifeline while demanding nothing in return. The regime’s continued repression of political critics thereafter was entirely predictable.

Still, Democrats were confident that Cuban-American demographics were shifting their way. Whatever the recalcitrance of Cuban elders, their children and grandchildren appeared less wedded to the coercive approach that had so long failed to bring meaningful change on the island. More recent immigrants — who were generally more skeptical that the government in Cuba could be dislodged and were more connected to relatives there — also supported freer travel and closer economic ties.

So, after years of growing Cuban-American support for the Democratic Party, one of the most striking results of the F.I.U. poll was the 76 percent of recent Cuban immigrants who reported having registered to vote as Republicans. Only 5 percent the respondents, who came to the United States between 2010 and 2015, said they had become Democrats; the rest described themselves as independents.

Even as the Democrats have gained ground, the Republican Party has been more active and better organized among Latinos in South Florida. Hard-liners on Cuba remain powerful across local Spanish-language media outlets. “For Republicans, it’s always a home game in Miami,” said Ana Sofía Pelaez, a leader of the Miami Freedom Project, a progressive Cuban group focused on social issues.

Younger, hipper Republican partisans have also begun to emerge. Among the more prominent is a kooky YouTube personality, Alexander Otaola, who left Cuba in 2003 and offers a comedic, reggaeton-infused alternative to the vitriolic talk radio that still echoes on local airwaves. Mr. Otaola has become a boisterous Trump evangelist, exhorting his audience to beware the Democrats’ “socialist” tendencies.

The biggest influencer has been Mr. Trump himself. His warnings that the Democrats will deliver America to socialism, while silly to some voters, have been repeated constantly in advertising and social-media posts that target Florida refugees from Venezuela and Nicaragua as well as Cuba. The purported threat of self-described democratic socialists like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been a staple theme of that campaign, which has established at least a notional coherence between Mr. Trump’s domestic politics and his bellicose stance toward leftist regimes in Latin America.

“They have been relentless,” said Jose Javier Rodriguez, a Democrat and Cuban-American state senator, of the “socialism” attack. “So relentless that it has been somewhat effective.”

Another big factor in Mr. Trump’s success with Cuban-American voters has been his willingness to show up. Mr. Trump was mocked by some critics last month when he recalled a “beautiful” award he said he had received from veterans of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. (No such award is known to exist.) But he should hardly have to prove his loyalty to the cause. The very first stop on Mr. Trump’s first foray into presidential campaigning in 1999 was the two-room Bay of Pigs Library and Museum in Miami’s Little Havana, where he turned up with his then-girlfriend, Melania Knauss. “My policy,” he said then, “is you have to keep pressure on Castro.”

As president, Mr. Trump has tried to ratchet up that pressure. In addition to blocking tourism, investment and trade, he all but shuttered the American Embassy in Havana, citing mysterious suspected attacks on diplomats there. Visas for Cubans to visit the United States were cut to 10,167 last year from a high of 41,001 in 2014. His administration also suspended a family reunification program that had authorized more than 125,000 Cubans to join relatives in the United States since 2007, and it sharply increased the deportation of Cuban asylum seekers.

Cuban-Americans’ response to those measures has been contradictory. In the F.I.U. poll, 71 percent of the respondents said the United States’ long-running economic embargo against Cuba hasn’t worked, yet 60 percent said it should remain in place. Many of them also said Washington’s Cuba policy was less important to them than other issues, including the economy, health care, race relations and even China policy.

Florida Democrats admitted that they have had little success in trying to focus attention on the collateral damage to Cubans from Mr. Trump’s policies. The Democrats may have done even less to argue the Obama administration’s case that closer contact with the United States is the best way to push the Cuban government toward greater political and economic freedom for the island.

“I think a lot of Democrats have concluded that while there are strong intellectual arguments for those initiatives, politically they just don’t pay off,” said Carlos Curbelo, a former Republican congressman from Miami.

Ed. note: For those of you outside of South Florida, it should be noted that there are other Latin communities in Miami-Dade besides Cubans. It’s just that they’re the loudest, another quality they share with Trump. They also seem to have a love/hate relationship with dictators. The old guard who left after the revolution fled a dictator they hated because he overthrew a dictator they liked, and now they’re flocking to another one with authoritarian tendencies. One thing this election may show is that for all their noise and propaganda, their power is diminishing.

Doonesbury — Postal service.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Us Against Them

This is more than disturbing.

Hours before law enforcement forcibly cleared protesters from Lafayette Square in early June amid protests over the police killing of George Floyd, federal officials began to stockpile ammunition and seek devices that could emit deafening sounds and make anyone within range feel like their skin is on fire, according to an Army National Guard major who was there.

D.C. National Guard Maj. Adam D. DeMarco told lawmakers that defense officials were searching for crowd control technology deemed too unpredictable to use in war zones and had authorized the transfer of about 7,000 rounds of ammunition to the D.C. Armory as protests against police use of force and racial injustice roiled Washington.

In sworn testimony, shared this week with The Washington Post, DeMarco provided his account as part of an ongoing investigation into law enforcement and military officers’ use of force against D.C. protesters.

On June 1, federal forces pushed protesters from the park across from the White House, blanketing the street with clouds of tear gas, firing stun grenades, setting off smoke bombs and shoving demonstrators with shields and batons, eliciting criticism that the response was extreme. The Trump administration has argued that officers were responding to violent protesters who had been igniting fireworks, setting fires and throwing water bottles and rocks at police.

But DeMarco’s account contradicts the administration’s claims that protesters were violent, tear gas was never used and demonstrators were given ample warning to disperse — a legal requirement before police move to clear a crowd. His testimony also offers a glimpse into the equipment and weaponry federal forces had — and others that they sought — during the early days of protests that have continued for more than 100 days in the nation’s capital.

DeMarco, who provided his account as a whistleblower, was the senior-most D.C. National Guard officer on the ground that day and served as a liaison between the National Guard and U.S. Park Police.

A Defense Department official briefed on the matter downplayed DeMarco’s allegations, saying emails asking about specific weaponry were routine inventory checks to determine what equipment was available.

This is the kind of weaponry that you use to confront an army, not a bunch of peaceful demonstrators. This is the kind of response you would expect in places like Beijing or Moscow, not across the street from the White House. And for what? To clear the street so Trump could hold a bible?

Trump’s Wormtongue, also known as Attorney General Barr thinks that demonstrating for justice is treasonous.

Attorney General Bill Barr encouraged federal prosecutors to choose the most serious charges for those arrested for violent crimes during protests, including by way of a rarely used sedition law that would charge the demonstrators with plotting to overthrow the U.S. government.

President Donald Trump has previously accused at least one Black Lives Matter activist of treason.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Barr offered up a number of statutes for the prosecutors to use in a call last week and pushed them to use federal charges even when state ones could apply.

Barr, following Trump’s lead, has put prosecuting protesters front and center in his agenda, often making no distinction between those demonstrating peacefully and those the FBI has identified as opportunistic interlopers taking advantage of the chaotic scenes.

These are not the actions of a government in support of democracy. These are these are the actions of cowards and fascists.

These are the people who need to go.  Preferably to jail.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

In Kenosha

Charles P. Pierce:

Be wary of paramilitaries. When the men with guns who have always claimed to be against the system start wearing uniforms and marching around with torches and pictures of a Leader, the end is nigh. When the pro-leader paramilitary and the official police and military intermingle, the end has come.

—Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny

From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Kenosha Police said early Wednesday morning that two people had been shot and killed and a third injured during protests over the shooting of Jacob Blake; authorities were looking for a man armed with a long gun. Earlier Wednesday, Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that one victim had been shot in the head and another in the chest late Tuesday, just before midnight. Beth didn’t know where the other person was shot, but video posted on social media showed someone had been shot in the arm.

The incident occurred at about 11:45 p.m. in the area of 63rd Street and Sheridan Road, Kenosha police said. The release from the Kenosha Police Department said the injuries to the third individual were not life threatening. The release said the names, ages and cities of residence for the victims were still being determined.

The gunfire coincided with the arrival of some armed right-wing boogaloo militia types. From The Guardian:

Beth said people describing themselves as belonging to a militia had been patrolling Kenosha’s streets in recent nights but he did not know if the shooter was involved with such a group. “They’re a militia,” Beth told reporters. “They’re like a vigilante group.” The shootings were reported at about 11.45 pm in an area crowded with protesters supporting the Black Lives Matter movement calling for an end to police brutality and systemic racism across America.

Where the hell were your guys, sheriff? Armed militias roaming the streets? Where’s the National Guard?

Cellphone video of at least two of the shootings posted online showed what appears to be a white man with a semi-automatic rifle firing three or four shots from a prone position on the ground, hitting at least two people…Footage posted on social media showed chaotic scenes as gunfire rang out, scattering people in the street. One of the victims, a young shirtless white man with a red bandana around his neck, was seen receiving first aid in a car park after being shot in the head. In another image, a man sits on the ground with his arm almost severed by a gunshot wound…

Images of the rival group showed heavily armed white men, some wearing body armour. According to witness reports, the two groups had clashed as the night wore on, and police fired teargas and rubber bullets at demonstrators near Kenosha’s courthouse. Social media users posted a series of images including video that appeared to show the same individual – a young man – at key points during the confrontation, including interacting with police in a tactical vehicle who say they “appreciate” the alleged vigilantes’ help and give them bottled water.

Oh, that’s where they were.

The alleged gunman is finally seen heading north towards several police tactical vehicles, with his arms raised as the tactical vehicles drive by him. Other clips, which appear to have been filmed before the shootings, show him interacting with local police, who at one stage tell him not to approach, but at another talk to him and other armed men. Beth said the initial investigation into the shooting was focused on the group of men with guns outside the petrol station.

Commenting on calls to deputise citizens to help police the protests, Beth said: “I’ve had people saying: ‘Why don’t you deputise citizens? This is why you don’t deputise citizens with guns to protect Kenosha.”…“Ain’t nothing being done. We’re the only ones,” said Joe, 29, who said he was a US Marine veteran. “Three thousand of us are armed and ready,” he added.

Anyone who appears on the streets of Kenosha after curfew with a firearm needs to be arrested on sight. I don’t care how much bottled water they hand out.

In related news, 68 people were arrested in Louisville for sitting down in the street

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

On To Chicago

From the Chicago Tribune:

Chicago may see an influx of federal agents as soon as this week as President Donald Trump readies to make good on repeated pledges he would try to tamp down violence here, a move that would come amid growing controversy nationally about federal force being used in American cities.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security, for example, is crafting plans to deploy about 150 federal agents to the city this week, the Chicago Tribune has learned.

The Homeland Security Investigations, or HSI, agents are set to assist other federal law enforcement and Chicago police in crime-fighting efforts, according to sources familiar with the matter, though a specific plan on what the agents will be doing — and what their limits would be — had not been made public.

DHS in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment, while the Department of Justice indicated an announcement would be forthcoming on an expansion of what has been dubbed Operation Legend, which saw several federal law enforcement agencies assist local police in Kansas City, Missouri, including the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service.

One Immigration and Customs Enforcement official in Chicago, who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak on the matter, confirmed the deployment was expected to take place. The official noted that the HSI agents, who are part of ICE, would not be involved in immigration or deportation matters.

Federal agents being used to confront street protesters in Portland, Oregon, has raised alarm in many circles. Chicago, too, has dealt with protests that have led to injuries in recent days.

At an unrelated news conference Monday morning, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she has great concerns about the general possibility of Trump sending feds to Chicago based on what has happened in Portland.

If Trump wants to help, she said, he could boost federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives resources and fully fund prosecutors.

“We don’t need federal agents without any insignia taking people off the streets and holding them, I think, unlawfully,” Lightfoot said.

For those of us of a certain age, violent protests on the streets of Chicago takes us back to 1968 and the demonstrations outside the Democratic convention. At the time, then-Mayor Richard Daley unleashed the Chicago police that led to what the official report from the Walker Commission to conclude that the mayhem on the streets was instigated by the police.

Mayor Daley was spoiling for a fight, basically daring the Yippies and the Poor Peoples’ Campaign to show up and march.  They did, and were greeted by tear gas and batons.   It was shown on national television, split-screen with the convention, and it was exploited by the Republicans in the fall campaign that elected Richard Nixon on a “law ‘n’ order” platform, along with the Southern Strategy to get the white votes who were being wooed by George Wallace, who was running a Trump-like campaign of fear and loathing.

I doubt that Trump is reading the history of the summer of 1968, but someone in his campaign is.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Keep Marching

Matthew Yglesias in Vox:

The Women’s Marches over-awed Donald Trump’s Inauguration. Protesters at airports checked the initial version of Trump’s travel bans. Ordinary Americans’ phone calls and door knocks defeated multiple attempts to roll back the Affordable Care Act. It all sent a clear message during Trump’s first two years in office: Resistance works.

Engaged protesters were not able to block the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act or Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, but they did render both toxically unpopular. The resistance spurred an unprecedented level of interest in special elections, swinging seats across the country, and powered Democrats to sweeping wins in the 2018 midterms.

And then it stopped. There was no mass mobilization to call senators in advance of the resolution blocking Trump’s border emergency declaration. There were no crowds on Capitol Hill. There are no reports of Republican senators canceling town halls because they’re afraid to face angry crowds demanding a floor vote on the anti-corruption bill HR 1. There are no protesters demanding that Trump accede to Congress’s request for his tax returns in part because no request has been made.

The resistance has demobilized. And for Democrats, it’s probably a huge mistake.

It’s perhaps more a matter of how people look at life in general that has led to this.  Conservatives not only see the glass half-empty, they’re on the lookout for someone, somewhere, to dash it from their lips.  They live in a world of suspicion and hyped-up tension; every stranger is a danger; every person that doesn’t look or sound like them is up to no good, so no matter what the reality is, you can’t trust anybody.  That explains why even after winning elections the right-wingers never stop complaining and campaigning.

Progressives see it the other way: everything has the potential for beauty and comity; we can just all get along if only we’d trust our inner goodness.  Electing their people will turn everything right and we can all take a deep cleansing breath and relax.

But you cannot stop and rest on your laurels and think the defeated will retreat, having learned their lesson.  They’ll be back with a vengeance because that is what they do.  That’s why after the election of the first African-American president so many people pronounced racism was dead and believed we had at last grown past the original sin of slavery and institutional bigotry, only to have it made abundantly clear that not only was prejudice and paranoia still alive and well, it could elect the most dangerous threat to American democracy since Fort Sumter.

It’s easier to scare people with a siege mentality, and it’s a great control mechanism; keep the followers in line (and getting their money) with fear and loathing.  (Organized religion figured that out thousands of years ago.)  The Democrats cannot let their guard down, and they don’t have to make up fake news or gin up paranoia to show the world that they need to keep up the marching.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Civics Lesson

Learning about the Constitution in practical ways.

A Florida student is facing misdemeanor charges after a confrontation with his teacher that began with his refusal to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and escalated into what officials described as disruptive behavior.

The student, a sixth-grader at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland, Fla., east of Tampa, refused to stand for the pledge in the Feb. 4 incident, telling the teacher that he thinks the flag and the national anthem are “racist” against black people, according to an affidavit. The teacher then had what appeared to be a contentious exchange with the boy.

If living in the United States is “so bad,” why not go to another place to live? substitute teacher Ana Alvarez asked the student, according to a handwritten statement from her.

“They brought me here,” the boy replied.

Alvarez responded by saying, “Well you can always go back, because I came here from Cuba, and the day I feel I’m not welcome here anymore, I would find another place to live.” She then called the school office, as she did not want to keep dealing with the student, according to the statement.

Officials said the situation escalated. The student yelled at the administrative dean and a school resource officer with the Lakeland Police Department after they came to the classroom, accusing them of being racist and repeatedly refusing to leave the room.

“Suspend me! I don’t care. This school is racist,” the student, who is black, told the dean as he walked out of the classroom with his backpack, according to the affidavit.

According to a statement from the Lakeland Police Department, the boy then “created another disturbance and made threats while he was escorted to the office.” He was later charged by police with disruption of a school facility and resisting an officer without violence.

I am sure there are plenty of people who think the teacher and the cops were right to bust this kid for being unpatriotic and refusing to give in to the demands that he salute the flag and recite the pledge.  Fortunately they are in flagrant disagreement with the United States Supreme Court that ruled in 1943 that no state official can compel anyone to be patriotic.

If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.

This would also apply to those who think that football players showing their feelings in a non-disruptive and silent way should be fired.  The Constitution has your number, too.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Making Sense Of The Confrontation

If you have been following the reports about the confrontation between the Native American Nathan Phillips and a group of teenagers from a Catholic school in Covington, Kentucky, on the Mall for the anti-abortion demonstration last weekend, you’ve been hearing a lot of conflicting versions: the kids were the innocent bystanders who got caught up in it, or they were the instigators by mocking the Native Americans and the Indigenous Peoples March, or there was another group of Black Israelites who stirred it up.

Here’s a rather succinct version of what happened, put together by Josh Marshall at TPM.

A Native American group (The Indigenous People’s March) had marched to the Memorial earlier in the day. Later a group of teenage boys from a Catholic High School in Covington, Kentucky were also there. They were in town for the March for Life, an anti-abortion march. They had apparently congregated at the Memorial as a staging point to wait for buses to leave. While these two very different things were happening, there was a third much smaller group of so-called “Black Israelites” – maybe half a dozen men – who had been there seemingly for most of the day haranguing both groups. One video I watched from earlier in the day shows the Black Israelites haranguing the Native American marchers for “worshipping totem poles” and in other ways needing to repent to God.

I’m not sure how common they are in other cities or parts of the country. If you live in New York or DC or Philadelphia you’ve probably seen them. They’re mainly known for a form of very aggressive street preaching, often combative and using racial epithets. They are often and not-unfairly viewed as a cult. In a later interview, Phillips said they reminded him of the protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church, the ones who used to go to the people’s funerals and rant hateful things about gay people. That’s a pretty good analogy.

In any case, at some point late in the afternoon, the Black Israelites are yelling at the High School kids and vice versa. The more aggressive language, at least at the start, is coming from the Black Israelites, using homophobic slurs and using the N-word directed at one of the High Schoolers who’s African-American (seemingly the only one.) It’s not totally clear to me who started what here. But you’ve got the hyper-aggressive black supremacist group and this crowd of white high school boys in MAGA hats. So I’m not sure much of a spark was needed.

It’s this situation Phillips described as getting out of control when he decided to intervene to settle things down or at least try to put himself between the two groups. Phillips walks between the two groups and into the group of students. The group of students parts around him and pretty quickly he’s surrounded by high school students who are variously laughing, jeering and chanting. The one student whose face you’ve no doubt seen doesn’t move aside like the others and that’s where you have the standoff captured in the original viral video.

As this is happening, the kids surrounding the two are taunting Phillips and laughing and variously goofing off like high school guys do. The entire tableau is defined by the fact that Phillips, the Native American elder with a dark complexion, is surrounded by lily white teens probably half of whom are wearing MAGA caps. They’re all laughing, taunting and doing ‘tomahawk chops’ in response to Phillips. I’ve seen various people claiming in the light of the new videos that the kids might simply be milling around or laughing uncomfortably or even chanting in unison with Phillips’ drumming. That’s a stretch by any definition and the ‘tomahawk chop’ hand motions put any such claims to rest. It’s already a pretty riled up situation. But it’s crystal clear their reaction to Phillips is one of jeering and racial taunting.

The boy who was at the center of the confrontation on the other side of Phillips, Nick Sandman, later released a statement in which he claims he was “startled and confused” and attempting to defuse the situation by “remaining motionless and calm.” He says he was saying a “silent prayer” in the viral video in hopes that the situation would not get out of hand.

I’m sure there was some element of being startled or even confused. Few of us are ever thinking only one thing in a chaotic situation. But I see no way to reconcile Sandman’s claims with what’s actually on the video. He can be seen hipping and hawing around Phillips like the rest of the kids just before the stand off and he seems more cocky and defiant than anything like trying to appeal for calm in the video that went viral. Eyewitnesses claim they heard the boys making various denigrating remarks about Native Americans. I heard some of those on the video but not all of them. Phillips and Sandman gave conflicting accounts of whether Sandman refused to move as Phillips tried to walk up the steps. At least the video itself makes it hard to resolve that.

The original video especially is so loaded – smiling white boy in a MAGA cap standing on the verge of laughing in the face of an impassive Native American beating a ceremonial drum – that it’s probably impossible for anyone to look at it and not project all sorts of beliefs, fears, grievances about the society we live in. But again, I don’t think Sandman’s explanation is credible. I think he decided to stand his ground, get in the guy’s face, and smile a kind of satisfied smile to show he wasn’t backing down. Meanwhile, his friends are surrounding both of them, goofing, taunting, jeering. Again, the chopping hand motion tells the story.

One side note that probably deserves more attention. There were apparently chaperones with the boys. Again, these are high school students on a school trip. Whatever you think of the rest of it, all the videos show numerous points at which adults should have intervened but apparently didn’t.

Having been a high school teacher and having taken a number of field trips with kids of that age (and that privileged mindset), it’s not hard to imagine this happening with the awareness of the grown-ups in charge and realizing too late that it’s getting out of control and onto the airwaves.  That in no way excuses it.

The pathetic message from the kid’s parents — we’re the victims here! — goes right along with the mindset that started the whole thing, and the adults on the trip and back home have a lot of explaining to do about how well they teach their children to respect others.  If they want to win people over to their side, be it anti-abortion or whatever, they’re going to have to do it without the Trump-inspired smirk.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Sunday Reading

Lest We Forget — Michael Eric Dyson on how we have forgotten what Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in.

Photo by Morton Broffman/Getty Images

In June 1966, less than two years before he was killed, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached from his Atlanta pulpit of the dynamic dance between Good Friday and Easter, between death and resurrection, between despair and hope.

“The church must tell men that Good Friday is as much a fact of life as Easter; failure is as much a fact of life as success; disappointment is as much a fact of life as fulfillment,” he said. Dr. King added that God didn’t promise us that we would avoid “trials and tribulations” but that “if you have faith in God, that God has the power to give you a kind of inner equilibrium through your pain.”

From nearly the moment he emerged on the national scene in the mid-1950s until his tragic end in 1968, 10 days before Easter, Dr. King was hounded by death. It was his deep faith that saw him through his many trials and tribulations until the time he was fatally shot on that motel balcony at 6:01 p.m. on April 4 in Memphis.

Faith summoned Dr. King, an ordained Baptist preacher, to the ministry. It made him a troublemaker for Jesus and it led him to criticize the church, criticize the world around him and, in turn, be criticized for those things. In honoring his legacy today, we must not let complacency or narrow faith blind us to what needs to trouble us too.

Dr. King passionately believed that a commitment to God is a commitment to bettering humanity, that the spiritual practices of prayer and worship must be translated into concern for the poor and vulnerable. Dr. King would want us to live his specific faith: work to defeat racism, speak out in principled opposition to war and combat poverty with enlightened and compassionate public policy.

In his lifetime, he was disappointed in the complacency of both black and white churches. He would be as disappointed today. The white church largely remains a bastion of indifference to the plight of black people. White evangelicals continue to focus on personal piety as the measure of true Christianity, while neglecting the Social Gospel that enlivens Jesus’ words for the masses. Dr. King saw faith as an urgent call to service, a selfless ethic of concern that, he said, quoting the Hebrew prophet Amos, made “justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Today, in the midst of resurgent bigotry and deep divisions in this country, faith is too often viewed as an oasis of retreat, a paradise of political disengagement. On this Easter Sunday, as we mark 50 years since Dr. King’s death, it is a perfect and necessary time to remember his faith — and rekindle its urgency.

Dr. King often declared his preacher’s vocation by citing something like a biblical genealogy of black sacred rhetoric that traced through his family: “I grew up in the church. My father is a preacher, my grandfather was a preacher, my great-grandfather was a preacher, my only brother is a preacher. My daddy’s brother is a preacher. So I didn’t have much choice.”

But Dr. King’s faith underwent significant change. At first, he was discouraged from the ministry by a strain of black preaching that was long on emotion and short on reason. Then, at Morehouse College, his encounter with preachers like the school’s president Benjamin Mays convinced him that the ministry was intellectually respectable.

A midnight kitchen experience over a cup of coffee after he received phone calls threatening to blow out his brains and blow up his house during the Montgomery bus boycott gave the fear-stricken Dr. King a sense of God’s unshakable presence. He said that instead of inherited faith, he had to forge the terms of his own relationship to the Almighty.

“I had to know God for myself,” he explained. “I could hear an inner voice saying to me, ‘Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness, stand up for justice, stand up for truth. And lo, I will be with you, even until the end of the world.’”

For the rest of his life Dr. King did just that. His faith propelled him to fight Jim Crow, the ugly hatred it bred in the white soul and the haunting inferiority it left in black minds. It led him to speak valiantly against the lynching, bombing and shooting of black people who merely wanted what white people took for granted: a cup of coffee at any lunch counter, a room at any hotel they could afford, a drink at any water fountain they passed, a seat on a bus wherever they pleased and a desk in the nearest schoolhouse.

Dr. King’s faith put him at odds with white Christians who believed it was their mission to keep separate the races — the same people whose forebears believed it was their duty to enslave Africans and punish blacks who sought to escape their hardship. Dr. King realized that he wasn’t simply in battle against a society built on legal apartheid, but that he also had to fight against a racist culture that derived theological support from white Christianity.

White evangelicals were opposed to Dr. King because they conveniently divided body and soul: Race was a social issue that should be determined by rules in society and laws generated by government. Such a view meant that the racist status quo was sacred. The point of religion was to save the souls of black folk by preaching a gospel of repentance for personal sin, even as segregation often found a white biblical mandate. After Dr. King spoke at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1961, the most prominent institution of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, many white churches in the South withheld financial contributions to the school.

If rabid racists were a clear threat to black well-being, it was the white moderates who claimed to support civil rights but who urged caution in the pursuit of justice who proved to be a special plague. In 1963, eight white Alabama clergymen issued a statement pleading for black leaders to slow their aggressive campaign against segregation in Birmingham, Ala. The clergymen cited “outsiders” who had come to Birmingham to lead demonstrations that were “unwise and untimely.”

The white clergymen blamed the black protests for inciting hatred and violence through their “extreme measures,” arguing that their cause “should be pressed in the courts and in negotiations among local leaders, and not in the streets.”

Showing The Way — Sophia Steinberg, a high school student, reports in The Nation how the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High are leading the way for her generation.

Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Minu smiled as she saw my homemade sign, finished in a rush to get to the march. We boarded the subway, surrounded by people who were clearly traveling to the same place we were. On our way to demonstrate against gun violence in America, we discussed our SAT scores and her upcoming trip to Japan. While we talked about the minor dramas of our junior year, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were preparing to speak in front of an international audience about the trauma they experienced during a school shooting.

Until late February, no major news source was giving a platform to Generation Z. Now, images of Emma González and her fellow survivors are ubiquitous. A classmate of mine at Beacon High School, Etta Gold, thinks “most kids are scared of the bureaucracy because they don’t believe they can actually change the law,” but the teenagers from Parkland are “inspiring when it comes to enforcing change.” I was impressed by their capacity to organize a national march, amid their own trauma and despite their age. Beacon junior Sam Sheridan echoed Etta’s sentiments: “Seeing people your own age [speak] makes a difference.” I wasn’t shocked to see that some of the few public figures who shared my views on privilege, gun control, and the president were high-school victims of gun violence.

During the march, I held my sign high as I listened to the solemn, empowering words of survivors and activists. Parkland student Meghan Bohner spoke about her firsthand experience with the shooter when I noticed tears streaming down my face. Around noon, we began our march around Central Park, booing President Trump’s New York properties along the way. My eyes were fixed on the crowd as protesters raised their fists and demanded change.

Watching Emma González’s speech later that day, I understood her power. She captivated the nation with silence. Etta agreed: “Something about González compelled [her] to keep watching.” Her bravery, so unwavering, makes change viable. If she could face the world with her questions, so could I. Her extraordinary speech rejected the mundane thoughts and prayers of so many politicians. Her very presence has created a path for teenagers to follow. Those of us who chose to walk that path have a chance at ending gun violence in black communities, preventing the sale of assault rifles, and most of all—saving lives. In González’s gut-wrenching silence, audiences could search for the solution and perhaps find it within themselves.

Soon after the march, Minu, who is a year older than me, found out she was eligible to become a registered voter. It will “feel good to really participate, she told me.” Before the March for Our Lives, I felt as though America could make its teens feel invisible. As I watched Minu join the thousands of newly registered voters, I realized that our teen spirit can no longer be ignored.

Laura’s “Vacation” — Brian Schatz in Mother Jones on Laura Ingraham’s sudden decision to take some time off.

Laura Ingraham, the Fox News host of The Ingraham Angle, announced late Friday that she is going on vacation for a week as advertisers continue to abandon her show.

Ingraham is leaving amidst ongoing controversy and boycotts. Earlier in the week, she took to Twitter to mock Parkland school shooting survivor David Hogg—the 18-year-old senior who has become prominent in the student movement for gun control—for not getting into some of the colleges he had applied to, saying that he whined about the rejections.

In response, Hogg called on his followers to contact her top advertisers. After two advertisers pulled their support, Ingraham, claiming to be moved by “the spirit of Holy Week,” apologized. Hogg didn’t buy it:

As Ingraham leaves for vacation, more than a dozen advertisers have now dropped her show. We’ve seen this kind of vacation before.

Bill O’Reilly took a “pre-planned vacation” last April amid advertiser cancellations after the New York Times detailed his settlements following harassment allegations from five women, totaling at least $13 million. He was fired soon after.

“Fear not,” Ingraham told her viewers on Friday. “We’ve got a great lineup of guest hosts to fill in for me.”

At Home With The Cohens — Calvin Trillin on the domestic side of Trump’s lawyer.

As the breakfast dishes were cleared away, both Cohens remained at the table with their coffees. Mrs. C, who had been gathering material for the family’s tax return, was looking through a pile of financial documents. Michael Cohen was studying his daily list of people to threaten.

“I see here that the electric bill is up a bit this year,” Mrs. C said.

“Mmmm,” Mr. C murmured. He was trying to decide whether the first person on his list would be frightened more by “I will take you for all the money you still don’t have” or “What I’m going to do to you is so fucking disgusting”—both of which phrases he’d used to threaten a Daily Beast reporter (to no avail) in 2015.

“The bill from that gardener who replaced the rose bushes seems pretty reasonable,” Mrs. C said.

“Mmmm,” Mr. C murmured again. He was considering using another phrase from that same Daily Beast encounter—“I’m going to mess your life up for as long as you’re on this fuckin’ planet.” That threat, he thought, had a nice mob-enforcer ring to it, particularly if he used what he sometimes referred to as his “Corleone voice.”

“Michael,” Mrs. C continued. “Here, stuck to the receipt from those people who repaired the washing machine, is a payment of a hundred and thirty thousand dollars to Essential Consultants. What is that all about?”

“That was hush money to a porn star,” Mr. C said.

“Michael,” Mrs. C said, in a weary voice, “I’ve told you before: people with no humor should not try to tell jokes.”

“That wasn’t a joke,” Mr. C said. “A porn star claimed to have had an affair with D.J.T., and, just before the election, I gave her a hundred and thirty thousand dollars to keep her mouth shut.”

“An affair with who?”

“With Mr. Trump. You might have seen Don, Jr., on television referring to his father as ‘D.J.T.’ We thought that would make him sound right up there on the level of Presidents like F.D.R. and J.F.K.”

“Donald Trump had an affair with a porn star?” Mrs. C asked.

“Definitely not,” Mr. C said. “D.J.T. is a happily married family man. He is a man of honor and integrity and one of our great Presidents. In fact, I’ve retained a fellow in South Dakota to do a title search on what seems to be some unused space on Mount Rushmore, just to Lincoln’s left. We could buy it secretly through a shell corporation—I know how to do that—and hire our own sculptor.”

“Let me get this straight,” Mrs. C said. “You paid a hundred and thirty thousand dollars to a porn star so that she’d remain quiet about something that didn’t happen? “

“Well, not directly. I paid the hundred and thirty thousand dollars through a shell corporation so it would stay secret.”

“Then how come we have here a Certificate of Formation for Essential Consultants, issued by the Delaware Secretary of State’s Corporation Division, and signed by you?” Mrs. C said, holding up a document.

“Well, it turned out to be not quite as secret as it might have been,” Mr. C said. “I made up really neat alliterative pseudonyms for D.J.T. and the porn star, but I couldn’t think of a really neat alliterative pseudonym for myself.”

“How about Danny Dumbass?” Mrs. C said.

“I don’t want you to be upset about this,” Mr. C said. “I’m sure we’ll be reimbursed.”

“You believe that Donald Trump, known to every subcontractor, supplier, and banker in New York as the King of the Deadbeats, is going to pay you back?”

“As I was saying,” Mr. C replied, “We prefer to refer to him as D.J.T. It sounds more Presidential.”

Doonesbury — Everything new is old again.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Walking Out To Step Up

TaMara and Betty Cracker at Balloon Juice have recaps of yesterday’s school kids walking out for seventeen minutes to honor the memory of those killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and to demand changes to gun laws at the state and federal level.

What struck me the most about this movement is that this is well-disciplined and deadly serious on the part of the participants.  This is not a lark to them or a chance to cut school.  They realize what’s at stake: not just their lives but the future of the country.  Many of them are old enough to vote now and a lot more of them will be old enough to vote in 2020.

There have been student marches and protests before; I participated in them when I was their age: against the war in Vietnam, against segregation, for civil rights.  But those were distant and abstract causes; Vietnam was a place that few of us could find on a map, and civil rights didn’t divide my white upper-middle class suburban life.  What we were trying to change was an entire culture: no more war, no more racism.  It was noble, it was overarching, and of course it was never going to be fully realized.

These students, these young adults, have a more specific goal in mind and are much more focused.  They don’t want to change the world; they just want to make it safer.  That’s not too much to ask.  We didn’t do it for them, so now they’re stepping up.  And it might just work this time.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Russian Role Model

Via the AP:

Russian protesters shouting slogans including “Putin is a thief!” gathered briefly around the Russian government’s headquarters while marching through central Moscow.

The lengthy march Sunday by the mostly young group of several hundred protesters came after a large gathering at Pushkin Square dispersed. The rally was among protests nationwide in support of opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s call to boycott the March 18 presidential election.

The marchers headed down Novy Arbat, one of Moscow’s widest and busiest avenues, to the riverside government building colloquially known as the Russian White House. They shouted slogans and some threw handfuls of snow through the high, spiked fence surrounding the building before moving on.

Navalny himself was detained by police earlier in the day.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was detained by police en route to an unauthorized protest rally in Moscow, is expected to be charged with a public-order violation.

That charge could bring a punishment of 20 days in jail.

Navalny called for nationwide demonstrations Sunday to support a boycott of Russia’s March 18 presidential election, in which Vladimir Putin is seeking a fourth term. Navalny has been barred from running in the election.

Navalny was seized by police Sunday while walking to the Moscow protest. Russian news reports cited police as saying he was likely to be charged with violating a law on calling public demonstrations.

I’m sure that there was someone at the White House taking notes on this and filing it away for the 2020 campaign.  It could come in handy, y’know.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sunday Reading

Overwhelming the Hate — McKay Coppins in The Atlantic on how counter-protest shut down the Nazis in Boston.

WOBURN, Mass. — Kyle Chapman was sitting in a dimly lit Irish pub about 20 minutes outside of Boston, where Saturday afternoon’s so-called “Free Speech Rally” had just been shut down by tens of thousands of counter-protesters.“The white man is one of the most discriminated against people in this entire country right now,” he explained.

Chapman—a muscly right-wing organizer who went viral earlier this year after video footage showed him swinging a heavy wooden stick at liberal Berkley demonstrators—had been scheduled to speak at the rally on Boston Common. But organizers ended up pulling the plug early, he said, when the crowd of counter-protesters grew too large. After being escorted to safety by police, he and other attendees retired here to lick their (metaphorical) wounds.

“I was definitely concerned for my safety and the safety of the other attendees,” Chapman said. “The barricades [that police] set up were four-foot barricades and … there would have been no way to stop the alt-left domestic terrorists if they decided to attack us.”

There had, in fact, been a smattering of violent incidents in the midst of the sprawling protests outside the event—mostly egged on by the minority of “antifa” agitators in the crowd. Beyond that, police said the demonstrations were overwhelmingly peaceful: About 33 arrests had been made out of a crowd of 40,000. After last week’s white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia turned fatal, local police here had come prepared for the worst. But the scene in Boston was starkly different.People spread out blankets on the grass and munched on snacks, cheering on the upbeat counter-protesters—who, by some estimates, outnumbered the free speech rally-goers by more than a thousand to one—as they marched down Charles Street. Some dressed up for the occasion: A middle-aged guy with a man bun  sported a tank top with “Resistance” spelled out across his chest in glittery gold; a group of women wearing pointy black hats and matching veils silently roamed the Common carrying a sign announcing themselves as “Witches against white supremacy.” Protesters carried posters that read, “Not in my city,” and joined in periodic chants of, “Fuck the Nazis!”

As with most large political demonstrations, the scene took on an absurdist quality at times. At one point, Black Lives Matter activists lit a flag on fire, prompting a tattooed onlooker in a Red Sox cap to launch into a profanity-laced rant about the lack of patriotism on display. A heated argument followed between him and a few other bystanders, which went on for several minutes before someone pulled the tattooed ranter aside and asked, “You know that was a Confederate flag, right?”

“It was a Confederate?”“Yeah.”

He paused for a moment to process this information, and then smiled sheepishly. “Shhh,” he said, pressing a finger to his lips. He then returned to his argument.

Organizers were adamant in the days leading up to the Free Speech Rally that they were not supporting white nationalism, and disapproved of the beliefs that were showcased in Charlottesville. They said they would throw out anyone who showed up in neo-Nazi garb, or brought signs advocating for white supremacy.

At the same time, the small group that gathered on Boston Common clearly shared some ideological sympathies with the alt-right movement—a dynamic that could make it increasingly difficult to untangle the extremist racial elements from the broader American right.

Chapman, for example, told me he did not under any circumstances consider himself a white nationalist. “But I can tell you that there is a war against whites,” he said. “Whites are discriminated against en masse. I personally have been the victim of multiple hate crimes. As a people, we do have our own grievances, we do have our own story to tell.” Until it becomes safe to discuss that reality in mainstream political circles, he argued, victimized whites will continue to gravitate toward the alt-right.

Chapman says “free speech” is his primary concern, and added that it was the one reason libertarians like himself would come to the defense of Richard Spencer and his ilk. “I don’t really know them personally, and I don’t know if they’re bad people personally,” he said. But “they had the right to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights in Charlottesville. And those rights were intentionally suppressed.”

Joe Biggs—a former InfoWars writer who was among the first proponents of the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory that claimed a Clinton-linked pedophile ring was operating out of a Washington, D.C. pizzeria—was also among the scheduled speakers who didn’t get to deliver his remarks before the rally was shut down. He fumed that the mainstream media was to blame for perpetuating a false narrative that they were white supremacists. (“I think I’ve dated one white woman in my entire life,” he said in an attempt to demonstrate his lack of prejudice, noting noting that his wife is Guyanese.) But even if they were, he argued, the First Amendment would protect them. “Hate speech is allowed!” he said.

But Biggs’s free-speech zealotry wasn’t completely without limit. When I asked whether he considered Saturday’s massive gathering of counter-protesters a victory for free speech, he thought about it. He mused that if they were so offended by the rally, they could have just stayed away. And while he said he supported their right to stand outside and demonstrate their disapproval, the protesters had gone too far.

“When you sound like an angry, violent mob, you’ve lost the high ground,” he said, “and now you’re just scum.”

Saw It Coming — David Remnick in The New Yorker on Trump’s true allegiances.

Early last November, just before Election Day, Barack Obama was driven through the crisp late-night gloom of the outskirts of Charlotte, as he barnstormed North Carolina on behalf of Hillary Clinton. He was in no measure serene or confident. The polls, the “analytics,” remained in Clinton’s favor, yet Obama, with the unique vantage point of being the first African-American President, had watched as, night after night, immense crowds cheered and hooted for a demagogue who had launched a business career with blacks-need-not-apply housing developments in Queens and a political career with a racist conspiracy theory known as birtherism. During his speech in Charlotte that night, Obama warned that no one really changes in the Presidency; rather, the office “magnifies” who you already are. So if you “accept the support of Klan sympathizers before you’re President, or you’re kind of slow in disowning it, saying, ‘Well, I don’t know,’ then that’s how you’ll be as President.”

Donald Trump’s ascent was hardly the first sign that Americans had not uniformly regarded Obama’s election as an inspiring chapter in the country’s fitful progress toward equality. Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House, had branded him the “food-stamp President.” In the right-wing and white-nationalist media, Obama was, variously, a socialist, a Muslim, the Antichrist, a “liberal fascist,” who was assembling his own Hitler Youth. A high-speed train from Las Vegas to Anaheim that was part of the economic-stimulus package was a secret effort to connect the brothels of Nevada to the innocents at Disneyland. He was, by nature, suspect. “You just look at the body language, and there’s something going on,” Trump said, last summer. In the meantime, beginning on the day of Obama’s first inaugural, the Secret Service fielded an unprecedented number of threats against the President’s person.

And so, speeding toward yet another airport last November, Obama seemed like a weary man who harbored a burning seed of apprehension. “We’ve seen this coming,” he said. “Donald Trump is not an outlier; he is a culmination, a logical conclusion of the rhetoric and tactics of the Republican Party for the past ten, fifteen, twenty years. What surprised me was the degree to which those tactics and rhetoric completely jumped the rails.”

For half a century, in fact, the leaders of the G.O.P. have fanned the lingering embers of racial resentment in the United States. Through shrewd political calculation and rhetoric, from Richard Nixon’s “Southern strategy” to the latest charges of voter fraud in majority-African-American districts, doing so has paid off at the ballot box. “There were no governing principles,” Obama said. “There was no one to say, ‘No, this is going too far, this isn’t what we stand for.’ ”

Last week, the world witnessed Obama’s successor in the White House, unbound and unhinged, acting more or less as Obama had predicted. In 2015, a week after Trump had declared his candidacy, he spoke in favor of removing the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s capitol: “Put it in the museum and let it go.” But, last week, abandoning the customary dog whistle of previous Republican culture warriors, President Trump made plain his indulgent sympathy for neo-Nazis, Klan members, and unaffiliated white supremacists, who marched with torches, assault rifles, clubs, and racist and anti-Semitic slogans through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia. One participant even adopted an ISIS terror tactic, driving straight into a crowd of people peaceably demonstrating against the racists. Trump had declared an “America First” culture war in his Inaugural Address, and now—as his poll numbers dropped, as he lost again and again in the courts and in Congress, as the Mueller investigation delved into his miserable business history, as more and more aides leaked their dismay—he had cast his lot with the basest of his base. There were some “very fine people” among the white nationalists, he said, and their “culture” should not be threatened.

Who could have predicted it? Anyone, really. Two years ago, the Daily Stormer, the foremost neo-Nazi news site in the country, called on white men to “vote for the first time in our lives for the one man who actually represents our interests.” Trump never spurned this current of his support. He invited it, exploited it. With Stephen Bannon, white nationalism won prime real estate in the West Wing. Bannon wrote much of the inaugural speech, and was branded “The Great Manipulator” in a Time cover story that bruised the Presidential ego. But Bannon has been marginalized for months. Last Friday, in the wake of Charlottesville, Trump finally pushed him out. He is headed back to Breitbart News. But he was staff; his departure is hardly decisive. The culture of this White House was, and remains, Trump’s.

When Trump was elected, there were those who considered his history and insisted that this was a kind of national emergency, and that to normalize this Presidency was a dangerous illusion. At the same time, there were those who, in the spirit of patience and national comity, held that Trump was “our President,” and that “he must be given a chance.” Has he had enough of a chance yet? After his press conference in the lobby of Trump Tower last Tuesday, when he ignored the scripted attempts to regulate his impulses and revealed his true allegiances, there can be no doubt about who he is. This is the inescapable fact: on November 9th, the United States elected a dishonest, inept, unbalanced, and immoral human being as its President and Commander-in-Chief. Trump has daily proven unyielding to appeals of decency, unity, moderation, or fact. He is willing to imperil the civil peace and the social fabric of his country simply to satisfy his narcissism and to excite the worst inclinations of his core followers.

This latest outrage has disheartened Trump’s circle somewhat; business executives, generals and security officials, advisers, and even family members have semaphored their private despair. One of the more lasting images from Trump’s squalid appearance on Tuesday was that of his chief of staff, John Kelly, who stood listening to him with a hangdog look of shame. But Trump still retains the support of roughly a third of the country, and of the majority of the Republican electorate. The political figure Obama saw as a “logical conclusion of the rhetoric and tactics of the Republican Party” has not yet come unmoored from the Party’s base.

The most important resistance to Trump has to come from civil society, from institutions, and from individuals who, despite their differences, believe in constitutional norms and have a fundamental respect for the values of honesty, equality, and justice. The imperative is to find ways to counteract and diminish his malignant influence not only in the overtly political realm but also in the social and cultural one. To fail in that would allow the death rattle of an old racist order to take hold as a deafening revival.

Not Enough — Charles P. Pierce on Bannon’s exit.

Apparently, the NYT got the word that Steve Bannon will be leaving the White House to spend more time with his fellow gargoyles at Breitbart’s Mausoleum For The Otherwise Unemployable. This being Camp Runamuck, of course, the White House is saying the president* gave him the heave-ho, while Bannon says he quit a few weeks ago, and nobody knows anything about anything.

The president and senior White House officials were debating when and how to dismiss Mr. Bannon. The two administration officials cautioned that Mr. Trump is known to be averse to confrontation within his inner circle, and could decide to keep on Mr. Bannon for some time. As of Friday morning, the two men were still discussing Mr. Bannon’s future, the officials said. A person close to Mr. Bannon insisted the parting of ways was his idea, and that he had submitted his resignation to the president on Aug. 7, to be announced at the start of this week, but the move was delayed after the racial unrest in Charlottesville, Va.

While this is all entertaining as hell, and it is, and while it’s even more entertaining to speculate what vengeance Bannon and his army of angry gnomes could wreak on this presidency*, I am not going to be turning handsprings along the Charles over this development. First, it’s eight months overdue and both Stephen Miller and the ridiculous Dr. Sebastian Gorka, Ph.D. are still there. Second, I decline at the moment to believe that Bannon will be blocked entirely on the president*’s cell phone. And third, given that this is a president* who would require his paper boy to sign a non-disclosure agreement, I think it’s reasonable to speculate that Bannon’s silence will be handsomely remunerated. But there’s one more general reason that I am not popping corks over this.

Whatever else he was, Bannon was one of the few people in that operation who still at least was making mouth noises about economic populism after inauguration day. I have to think that the various corporate sublets in the Republican congressional leadership—Paul Ryan, chief among them—are looking at Bannon’s departure as an opportunity to lead a president* who knows nothing about anything right down the trail of corporate oligarchy. I’m glad he’s gone, but there’s still enough left to concern us all.

Doonesbury — Reality for sale.

Monday, August 14, 2017

This Is Us

Trying to make sense of what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday is a fool’s errand because things like that don’t — or shouldn’t — make sense in the true meaning of the term.  The people who organized the march to “unite the right” knew they would provoke a strong reaction from other people; they were counting on it.  And they got it, and I’m probably not alone in thinking that the bloodier it got, the more they liked it.

The organizers called it a march to “Unite the Right,” but it’s not as if the right really wants to “unite.”  The right-wing Establishment controls all three branches of the federal government, but to the folks who paraded through the streets with Nazi and Confederate flag, they don’t think of themselves as the same kind of right wingers that have been elected to Congress and state houses.  The marchers consider the Establishment to be weak and ineffective, and the fact that Nazis and Confederates felt compelled to come up with this demonstration, aside from provoking the outrage, was to register their opinion that the Republicans who dog-whistled and winked and nudged their way into office by exploiting the far-right base have not delivered what the Nazis and gun nuts demanded.  They want to see the immigrants loaded onto boxcars, they want to see the gays and lesbians marginalized and Muslims terrorized; they want to see whatever it is they think will make America great again, and if it takes killing a few freaks and coloreds to do it, well, that’s how they do it.  The Establishment wants basically the same thing but without the violence and echoes of Nuremberg.

Despite a tweet or two to the contrary, the far right was probably just as disappointed in Trump’s limp statement of condemnation as the rest of us were.  They expected him to stand up for them — after all, what about all those rallies where he said he would? — and now he comes out with this P.C. line about “many sides”?  To them, a true patriot would have stood with them and given them the “fire and fury” support that they saw in the campaign.  This is the one who said to “knock the crap out of them,” and cheered when demonstrators got roughed up.  Where is he now? they wonder.

The shock and the horror will fade, but now comes the reckoning.  There will be investigations, there will be the funerals, there will be the TV interviews with the neighbors, and the delving into what drove the kid from Maumee, Ohio, to step on the gas.  But if past is any guide, it will be the same kind of short-term navel-gazing until the next distraction comes along, the same way we deal with mass shootings and similar fits of madness.

It’s common practice for pundits and TV shrinks to say things like “we are all to blame” for whatever is the incident of the moment, whether its a mass shooting or a bridge collapse.  It’s an easy way to get out of offending anyone and letting us move on.  But in this case, that’s not the case.

Every person who voted for Trump owns this.  It doesn’t matter why; whether they hated Hillary Clinton and her e-mails or her laugh or her wardrobe collection; whether they were an aggrieved white person who had harbored resentment against Barack Obama for being the first black president and who was able to pull off two terms without so much as a whisper of scandal and thereby disproving all of their crackpot theories about the inferiority of the African-American race; or if they just voted for Trump because that’s the way to show the rest of America that they too think the way to run the country is through tantrums and bullying.  In the end it doesn’t matter why; they just did.  And now they see what they have wrought.

We heard a lot of Republican elected officials express outrage and put forth a lot of “thoughts and prayers” for the victims, and they felt safe joining the chorus who said Trump’s Saturday statement was less than enough.  But they have been enabling him since the election — some of them long before — and now they’re shocked and saddened as if this was completely unexpected.  All that proves is that they are either too stupid to recognize what was going on or they were willfully ignorant of the shouts and banners that came along with the marchers who goose-stepped through Charlottesville.  They have been to these rallies before.  They have heard the chants.  They were there.  They did nothing.  Now they have to answer for it.

So what do we do?  First, we do not accept that there are two sides to this.  In their worst day of whatever demonstrations the left has held in the last forty years, they never came close to the vitriol and aggravated hatred that has been seen at the average Trump rally, let alone last weekend.  There is simply no comparison, and anyone who says there is is full of shit.  Second, we must stand up to this kind of bullying and hatred and not allow it to be bellowed unanswered.  There must be a firm stand against this kind of hatred and bigotry.  That they have the right to say it is not in dispute.  But that doesn’t give them the license to go unanswered or not be held responsible for the consequences.  If people get fired from their jobs for spouting hate, that’s not a violation of the First Amendment; it’s an enforcement of a code of civil and responsible behavior as a citizen.

Most importantly, we need to recognize that this is who we are.  There are people in this country who would do it harm by trying to remake it in a perverted interpretation of laws and genetics.  It’s not a matter of “both sides are equally responsible.”  It’s a matter of seeing those among us whose values and objectives are dangerous to the country we have become over the last 240 years and who believe the only way to get it to where they want it is through violence and tyranny.  There are more of us who believe in stable government, the rule of law, equality for all, and peace in our streets than those who don’t.  It is well beyond the time to stand up.  That is what we do.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Monday, July 17, 2017

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Tuesday, June 13, 2017