Stop Being Surprised, He’s A Racist

The erstwhile president of the United States of  America managed a good trick. Combine 1950s racism with 1950s white supremacist sentiments.  Not bad for one Twitter storm.

He blended the “Go back to Africa” taunt with “those outside agitators are Commies,” (abetted by his little minion Sen. Lindsey Graham). This harkens back to one of the old Redemptionist themes, “all our darkies were happy until those Yankee abolitionist agitators came along.” The updated version was all our N-words were happy before those outside agitators from the north started meddling in our state’s rights.  The current version generalizes opposition to white supremacist views…those outside agitators are Commies and un-American.  Repetition doesn’t improve the sentiment.

But why does anyone pretend to be shocked? He espoused the blatantly racist birtherism plague. He came down the escalator to tell us about “those” drug dealers and rapists, and said he couldn’t get a fair trial before that Mexican judge (a native of Indiana.)  He said there were some “very fine people” among those chanting the Nazi slogans in Charlottesville.  And to put some icing on the cake, his supporters are whining that it’s racist to call out his racism. (See Brit Hume)

He didn’t so much respond to reporters questions today about his racist tweets, as he talked past them, and over the reporters who pressed on.  His isn’t the most powerful voice on the lawn or in the room as it is the most rude and persistent. There’s a distinction. A distinction lost on him.

Senator Angus King recalled lawyer Robert Welch, “have you no decency…at long last have you no decency.” Perhaps it is telling that Senator McCarthy tried the same interruptive, rude, response during that infamous hearing. It was the beginning of his end.

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Filed under Congress, House of Representatives, Immigration, Politics, racism

GOP: Stop Desecrating The Flag

I’m tired of GOP complaints about anyone showing disrespect to the American flag. Full out tired. And I’ll remain that way until they stop advocating immigration policies which are a desecration of that banner and what it stands for.

It is a desecration of the flag to fly it above a facility in which children are mistreated. Period.  Please don’t try to tell me “these aren’t our children,” because while they are in our custody they are ours. They are our responsibility.  If a youngster is too young to understand when and how to use a toothbrush — then teach him.  There is NO excuse for not providing adequate staffing and supplies for children to maintain basic hygiene. There is no excuse for not providing supervision and medical examinations, or waiting until medical issues are serious before providing care. No excuse whatsoever.  And, to attach a flag to the wall overlooking this kind of catastrophe is inexcusable in itself. It is a desecration.

It is a desecration to fly a flag over a building in which children are held without adequate food, bedding, recreation, education, and legal representation.  It is a desecration to fail to provide an adequate number of translators and other assistants for them in service to a deliberately cruel and racist policy.  It is a desecration to put a flag in the immediate vicinity on any activity which is in flagrant violation of international norms, morals, and standards for the treatment of our fellow human beings.  Think for a moment of a person in authority referring to a refugee as a “tonk” and dehumanizing an individual in our name under our flag. It’s a desecration.

It is a desecration of the flag for it to stand in a court room wherein a four year old is alone before a judge in a pseudo-“hearing” on his or her status as a refugee to this country.  This is not a hearing, not a judicial proceeding, it is a travesty.

It is a desecration of the flag for it to fly over a for-profit facility over which there is inadequate supervision.  Yes, say the contractors we will take billions in public funds but we will not allow random inspections; we will not allow oversight by the Congressional members who want to view how  tax dollars are being spent.  This, too, is a travesty.  The flag ought not fly over travesties.

Should a flag hang in a building in which hearings are held without a translator being made available? Without competent legal assistance?”  I pledge allegiance to a flag but only if it flies over people who look and sound just like me, and think the way I do?  This is a Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, nation of believers and non-believers; black, white, brown, and every shade in between. The flag is broad enough to cover us all.  If it flies freely and proudly it will do so over all of us.

So, every time some member of the GOP remarks about some athlete (or anyone else for that matter) desecrating the flag — please note, the Stars and Stripes defeated the Stars and Bars.  The flag of unity and fraternity defeated the cause of division, treason, and its racist emblem.  The Stars and Stripes should hang proudly wherever there is liberty and justice for all.  Anything less is a desecration.

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Filed under Immigration, Politics

So, what is it?

Citizen Trump’s pronouncements on the situation for migrants on our southern border are confusing. For example,  are the conditions so dire they will be a deterrent to other people from Central America? (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.) Or, are they just fine, and the press — heretofore denied access — should all flock to the Rio Grande for photographs? (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.)

Are there children unwashed? Without toothbrushes? Without medical care? Without clean clothing?  Because… they don’t want showers? They don’t know how to brush their teeth? They are better off here than they were at home? (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.)  Or, if the conditions are bad enough people won’t want to subject their children to this treatment?  Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.)

The President has or has not seen the border detention facilities? He said he’d seen the facilities and everything was fine. (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.) Or, he hasn’t actually visited any of the detention centers, but he knows everything is just fine. (Trumpian base of deplorables cheers happily.)

There are, frankly speaking, nothing but mixed messages coming from this incompetent administration regarding the conditions in which adults and children are being held.  Further, while we’re trying to find out what is happening in supposedly short term processing centers, we’re not asking enough questions about what’s going on in the TrumpCamps.

This morning the administration is touting improvement at CBP centers, saying only 26 children remain in custody. Good, but of those no longer counted among the border detainees, how many are reunited with family? How many are still separated from family members?

We can, and should be, more specific when asking about those youngsters who’ve been assigned to places like the Homestead facility.  Where are the adolescent girls held? Under what conditions? With what kind of supervision and assistance?  Do all the youngsters have immediate access to legal representation? To education? To health and recreation programs? Are the children under the supervision of adults who aren’t likely to refer to them by using insulting slang terms?

Unfortunately, we’re not likely to get definite answers, and those we do get will be contradictory and confusing.  This cannot continue.

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Filed under Immigration, Politics

I haven’t forgotten you: Immigration Irritation

There’s always an excuse, and mine is a matter of set up, sight issues, and just plain getting out of the habit. There’s also the notion that given the current administration there’s a real potential for writing the same post every day. But, enough about me. There are some vent valves I need to turn on.

First, there’s one story now. The president wants immigration to be the topic, and I’d happily oblige.  It’s the president playing macho-man, “tough on those brown skinned interlopers” who would “infest” us, who don’t arrive speaking fluent English. Who make “real” Americans feel uncomfortable.   It’s racism with a side of nativism served up to those hungry for someone to blame for the banality of their own lives. Served up to those whose sense of self worth is riddled with such weakness they cannot abide any circumstance in which they are outsiders. Why else their continuous whine about people speaking another language?

Ever wonder at the capacity of white English speakers to assume that if someone is speaking another language then it must be because the non-English speakers are mocking them?  It doesn’t add more than 10 seconds to a phone call to ask if the caller would like to press 2 for Spanish. Why the whining? That this same whine threads back to German, Irish, Eastern European, Italian, Jewish, and every other previous migration is lost on the Great Discomfited.  “Others” make the weak feel uncomfortable, and they hold it as their right not to be the least bit disturbed.

However, when easing one group’s discomfort comes at the price of perpetuating cruelty, then that price tag is entirely too steep. The president came right out with it. Don’t want to be caged in squalor? Separated from your children? Stuffed into inadequate facilities and then detained indefinitely? Stay away (you’re making me uncomfortable.)

The weak kneed racism is patently obvious. Scuttle the DACA program guidelines.  End the incentives for non-citizens to join the US military. Threaten to deport non-citizen family members of serving members of the Armed Forces. Insert a citizenship question into the Census.  Evict tenants if one family member is undocumented.  Change the asylum process from civil to criminal. Withhold interpretation from those who need it during legal proceedings. Advocate detaining asylum seekers indefinitely.  The intent has been announced repeatedly.  The cruelty is the point.  Stay away, you’re making me uncomfortable.

Sorry little fragile flowers. If life were to be entirely comfortable there would be no mosquitos and house flies.  There are 330+ million people in this great nation, and many of them speak Mandarin, Spanish, French, and Korean. Get over yourself. The odds they are talking about you in the supermarket might be a million to one. At least.

There are no serious calls for open borders. That’s a right wing racist talking point extrapolated from questionable premises into fantastical conclusions. It’s solely designed to increase discomfort, and hence fear.  We are not being invaded. That, too, is a right wing racist talking point.  Get past these.

We are either Reagan’s city on the hill, or we aren’t. We listen carefully to his remarks on his last speech from the White House or we don’t.

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Filed under civil liberties, Immigration, Politics

Some Questions? Chasing C Words

The new GOP talking point is “it’s over,” “it’s done,” or some variant thereof. The “it” in question is the investigation of Trumpian malfeasance. Not. So. Fast. There are questions yet answered.

1. What explains the curious hiring of Paul Manafort as the chair of the 2026 Trump presidential campaign?   And, the even more curious change in the Republican 2016 platform concerning Ukraine?

2. What explains the efforts by Trump administration transition and early administration personnel to establish insecure back channels with the Russians?  What explains the fact that General Flynn is kept in place well after the administration is warned he has not been honest about his connections with the Russians?

3. What explains why the Trump administration expresses its desire to ease sanctions on Russian oligarchs in the face of Russian intransigence in Ukraine? Crimea?

4. What explains the reluctance of the Trump administration to follow standard procedures with regard to diplomatic relations and contacts involving the Russians? Why are there no note takers? Witnesses? Or, others who could verify US statements made during or as a result of these meetings or talks?

5. What explains the alignment between Russian efforts to weaken the NATO alliance and the rhetoric coming from the White House?

One possible explanation rests on the premise we’ve been chasing the wrong C words.  While the recent public investigations have centered on Collusion (a diversionary term of art) and Conspiracy, a legal term with a more precise definition, the C word we should be considering is COMPROMISE.

Has the President of the United States of America been compromised by a hostile foreign power? And, if so, how and to what extent?

So, no, Mr. President, until we more fully understand the underlying motives and results of your strange foreign policy decisions, until we can be assured there is no Compromise involved…it isn’t done and it’s not over.

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Filed under Foreign Policy, Politics

Patience: Selected Advice from those Far Wiser than I

This isn’t the beginning of the end, in terms of the investigations into the Trump Administration, it’s the end of the beginning.  I’d agree.  The Mueller investigation was narrowly focused, concerned with Russian interference, and run by a by-the-book investigator.  The initial investigation spawned other, perhaps more “dangerous” topics for the grifter in chief.  Witness, the efforts by the SDNY, the State of New York, the Manhattan District Attorney, various regulatory agencies, and so forth.

Collusion isn’t the point.  Not that the Oval Office Occupant wouldn’t like for us all to focus upon whatever collusion might be. The bar has been raised a few times as well.  It isn’t “collusion” if the campaign didn’t do it! Oh, but there were some 100 points of contact between Trumpians and the Russians, well then, it isn’t collusion if the president didn’t do it personally.  Oh, the president won’t release transcripts or even notes about his sessions with Comrade Putin? Oh well, it isn’t collusion if you can’t find the smoking gun so to speak.  However, “collusion” isn’t the point — the point is: Is the President of the United States of America vulnerable to Russian influence in matters of foreign and perhaps even domestic policy?  If so, is there evidence of this influence being applied?  Now let’s think about our diminished relationships with NATO allies, with NATO itself, with the British.  There’s enough smoke to indicate a nice sized fire. We need to see what’s burning.

No matter what Mueller says, the Oval Office Oaf will announce a victory.  And, it will be a grand victory — nothing like it in the history of the world, perhaps even since the Big Bang!  The Mueller Report won’t use the word “collusion” because it’s not a legal concept.  The word is “conspiracy.”  Therefore, because the Mueller Report won’t actually say “collusion” explicitly the president* will declare there wasn’t any.  We should expect this.  His cult followers certainly do.

Watch the SDNY.  These investigators and litigators aren’t finished.

Watch the State of New York.  These investigators and litigators are getting started.

Watch the House Committee investigations and hearings.  It may not do to get bedazzled by the number of subpoenas issued by various committees. Notice that there is a pattern to these requests.  The president* has taken some action and been opaque about it. The action and its motivation will be investigated. The question of “why” will emerge.  We can probably conjecture there are some basic reasons behind it — (1) the president stands to benefit from it; (2) it expresses or activates one of the president’s biases or prejudices.  Lather, rinse, repeat. Lather, rinse, repeat. There may be more than 80 requests for information and data, but we likely won’t be too far off target if we believe that information will demonstrate an abuse of power, an illegal activity, an immoral activity, or illustrate a pattern of deviousness previously not associated with any White House, including that of Richard M. Nixon.

This is the first act of a tragic play. For that matter, it’s likely only the first scene of the first act.

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Filed under Politics

The President Can’t Hide From His Words

On June 8. 2014 Las Vegas, Nevada police officers Soldo and Beck went to a pizza diner.  Their meal was interrupted by Jerad and Amanda Miller, two right wing anti-government extremists who had previously participated in the infamous Bundy Ranch stand off. Officers Soldo and Beck paid with their lives for the Millers’ warped minds and itchy trigger fingers.  The Millers and their ilk aren’t typical of American politics, but then that’s exactly what makes them dangerous.

Last November, the Washington Post reported:

“As a Republican, Mitchell Adkins complained of feeling like an outcast at Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky. “Hardcore liberals” made fun of him, he wrote, and he faced “discrimination on a daily basis.” He soon dropped out and enrolled in trade school.

But his simmering rage led him back to campus one morning in April 2017, when Adkins pulled out a machete in the campus coffee shop, demanded that patrons state their political affiliation and began slashing at Democrats.

“There was never any ambiguity about why he did it,” said Tristan Reynolds, 22, a witness to the attack, which left two women injured.”

Fortunately, the result wasn’t as lethal as in the Las Vegas, Nevada pizza parlor, but the core problem was similar.  Fast forward to October 26, 2018.  Cesar Sayoc sent out 13 pipe bombs to critics or opponents of President Trump.  We were lucky, none exploded either in the mail or at the destinations of the intended targets.

The Washington Post article, which described the increase in right wing violence offered this sobering information :

“Over the past decade, attackers motivated by right-wing political ideologies have committed dozens of shootings, bombings and other acts of violence, far more than any other category of domestic extremist, according to a Washington Post analysis of data on global terrorism. While the data show a decades-long drop-off in violence by left-wing groups, violence by white supremacists and other far-right attackers has been on the rise since Barack Obama’s presidency — and has surged since President Trump took office.”

Might we wonder why?  After Sayoc was arrested the tenor of the White House response left something to be desired:

Speaking at the White House, Trump praised the “incredible job” done by investigators and promised to punish the person responsible. Speaking later at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, Trump won applause from his loyalist supporters for calling for national unity and an end to political violence. But he soon attacked the media, encouraged chants of “CNN sucks” and set the audience up to boo the Democratic House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, and reprise “lock her up” chants aimed at Hillary Clinton. [Guardian]

It seems he just can’t help himself.  And now, after the arrest of Christopher Hasson, and the confiscation into evidence of his cache of weapons and ammunition, the President can’t bring himself to acknowledge how his “lock her up,” chants and repeated references to the press as the “Enemy of the People” might play a role in eliciting reactions like those of the Millers’, Sayoc, Adkins, and others.

He called the Hasson incident “a shame.” When asked if his rhetoric might have played a role in igniting Hasson’s rage, the President asserted his words have been “very nice.” [CNN video]  I’m not at all certain the record bears this out — there’s another example, again in Las Vegas, where Trump called out that he’d like very much to punch a heckler in the face.   Trump keeps hauling out the Enemy of the People line to describe the media, most recently three days ago, directly targeting the New York Times.  On February 12, 2019 the Times reported on the assault of a BBC cameraman at Trump’s rally in El Paso, Texas.  The White House keeps announcing that the President condemns violence and doesn’t condone attacks on reporters and opponents, however the list of incidents compiled by ABC news keeps getting longer.  So does the assemblage from Vox.   And these incidents and comments are not without consequences:

“A Kentucky gunman attempted to enter a historically black church, police say, then shot and killed two black patrons in a nearby grocery store. And an anti-Semitic loner who had expressed anger about a caravan of Central American refugees that Trump termed an “invasion” has been charged with gunning down 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue, the deadliest act of anti-Semitic violence in U.S. history.”

If the President’s word choices are determined by what will play well with his base, then he (and his advisers) might do well to consider the distinction between base and debase.  He is now speaking not merely to the deplorables, but to the despicables and the debased.  It’s been noticed.  The ADL reports that as of 2014 about 70% of Americans thought it was necessary for the government to step in to counter Antisemitism, the poll results now show about 80% believing the government should do more to protect against this scourge.

In April 2009 Janet Napolitano warned us about the rising temperature of right wing extremism in this country — and the conservatives prompted hit the fainting couches.

 The American Legion formally requested an apology to veterans. Some in Congress called for me to be fired. Amid the turmoil, my (Daryl Johnson) warning went unheeded by Republicans and Democrats. Unfortunately, the Department of Homeland Security caved to the political pressure: Work related to violent right-wing extremism was halted. Law enforcement training also stopped. My unit was disbanded. And, one-by-one, my team of analysts left for other employment. By 2010, there were no intelligence analysts at DHS working domestic terrorism threats.

What’s happening today? Not much.

“The Trump administration has done little to counter the impression that it is soft on right-wing extremism. Even before Trump took office, his presidential transition team began drawing up plans to redirect national-security resources away from white supremacists to focus solely on Islamic terrorism. The main target of this effort was Countering Violent Extremism, an interagency task force created by Barack Obama in the wake of the Charleston Church shooting to help prevent acts of violence before they happen. In 2016, the Office of Community Partnerships, which housed C.V.E., boasted a full-time staff of 16, about 25 contractors, and a budget of $21 million. But the Trump White House was skeptical of the preventative approach.”  [Vanity Fair 2018]

The situation within the Department of Justice at present describes a CVE program killed for all intents and purposes by a thousand paper cuts.

There are some actions we should consider:

  • Fully fund and restore the CVE efforts within the Department of Justice.
  • Keep records and statistical analyses of right wing terrorist groups and their activities within the United States.
  • Prioritize efforts to combat foreign influences which seek to foment racial and ethnic divisions in the United States.
  • Publicize the sources of funding for right wing extremist groups and their propaganda machines, including Dark Money organizations.

We can do some things individually.  I, for one, don’t find ethnic ‘jokes’ amusing, and I’m not above telling the reciter thereof so. If this makes the “Adkins'” of the world uncomfortable, so be it.  I don’t need to listen to anti-government spiels, unwarranted racial or ethnic diatribes, and I feel no compunction about indicating to those emitting this verbal garbage I’m quite through listening.  “I don’t hate you, I’m just through listening.”  If this drives the cockroaches back into the dark, fine. That’s where they belong.    If a person thinks a two year old Guatemalan girl and her 20-something parents are a “national security threat,” and doesn’t hold the same opinion of  some jerk with a personal arsenal harboring his sexual, political, ideological, whatever, perversions, then the person probably won’t enjoy my company anyway. I certainly won’t be enjoying his.

We DO want affordable health care. We DO want to address climate change issues. We DO want to rationalize and reform our immigration policies.  And, we need to tell our Congressional representatives and Senators we’d like this done in a country that doesn’t have to put up with the rhetoric of derision and division, and the verbal violence that leads to the real thing.

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Filed under anti-immigration, Gun Issues, Immigration, Las Vegas, Politics, racism, White Supremacists