Monday, August 21, 2017

How the Republican party quietly does the bidding of white supremacists

Let us finally rip off the veneer that Trump’s affinity for white supremacy is distinct from the Republican agenda. It isn’t

Russ Feingold [former Senator for Wisconsin] is right. It's not enough for Republican leaders to send out tweets denouncing neo-Nazism and white supremacy. If Republicans are genuinely concerned about combatting racism they must end their ugly efforts at voter suppression, extreme gerrymandering and felon disenfranchisement,” -- Senator Bernie Sanders

From the Guardian:

It takes approximately 30 seconds to send a tweet. A half hour to draft and release a statement. And the shelf life of both is only marginally longer. We should not commend Republican party elected officials who claim outrage on social media at Trump’s remarks, often without daring to mention his name. The phony claimed outrage becomes dangerous if it convinces anyone that there is a distinction between Trump’s abhorrent comments and the Republican Party agenda.

The lesson from Charlottesville is not how dangerous the neo-Nazis are. It is the unmasking of the Republican party leadership. In the wake of last weekend’s horror and tragedy, let us finally, finally rip off the veneer that Trump’s affinity for white supremacy is distinct from the Republican agenda of voter suppression, renewed mass incarceration and the expulsion of immigrants.

There is a direct link between Trump’s comments this week and those policies, so where is the outrage about the latter? Where are the Republican leaders denouncing voter suppression as racist, un-American and dangerous? Where are the Republican leaders who are willing to call out the wink (and the direct endorsement) from President Trump to the white supremacists and acknowledge their own party’s record and stance on issues important to people of color as the real problem for our country?

By Russ Feingold

Sunday, August 20, 2017

White House officials absent from Sunday shows

After delivering a statement condemning white supremacist and Nazi groups by name on Monday, the president reignited public furor on Tuesday when he blamed both white nationalists and counter-protesters for the mayhem in Charlottesville, saying that there were good people on both sides.

So it’s no wonder White House officials were notably absent from the morning news show lineups on Sunday.
From the Hill:

"To give you a sense of how reluctant Republicans are to talk about President Trump this week, not one member of the current Republican leadership in Congress agreed to come on the broadcast this morning," Chuck Todd, host of NBC's "Meet the Press," said.

"In fact, even the White House was unable, or perhaps unwilling, to provide a guest, right down to the White House press secretary."

ABC's Martha Raddatz, who filled in for George Stephanopoulos on "This Week," said that the White House had similarly declined to provide an official to appear on the show.

Instead, she said, the White House referred the show to Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of Liberty University and an ardent Trump ally outside the White House.

"When we asked the White House for an official who could appear on this program today to speak on behalf of the president, they pointed us to our next guest," Raddatz said, introducing Falwell.

It was not clear if White House officials turned down offers to appear on the shows.

By Max Greenwood

NBC -- Trump’s Approval Rating Stands Below 40 Percent in Three Key Midwest States

Respect is earned. Trump has not earned my respect. I don't respect bullies, I don't respect racism, I don't respect bigots, I don't respect fascists, I don't respect dictators, I don't respect pathological liars, I don't respect anyone that trashes our Constitution, I don't respect anyone who is disrespectful to others and finally anyone that would say "I could shoot someone in Time Square and no one would care" is never to be respected,” -- Steve Silverman

With sixty percent of voters saying they are embarrassed by Trump’s presidency, I would assume voters wholeheartedly agree.

More bad news for Trump in the aftermath of his comments on Charlottesville, according to a new News/Marist poll. His approval ratings have fallen below 40 percent in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin -- three states that were key to his election.

Sixty percent of voters also said that they are embarrassed by his presidency. The results are notable because Trump won these states by a narrow margin in November. Nationally, Trump's approval also hit an all-time low of 34 percent last week.

Americans don't believe in hateful violence, and they want a president who doesn't, either. More people see Trump for what he is: a bigoted opportunist who stokes hatred for political gain.

By Mark Murray

Serpico, others from NYPD, rally in support of Kaepernick

Current and former New York City police officers rallied on Saturday in support of getting quarterback Colin Kaepernick a job in the National Football League.

From AP News:

A former New York City police officer, whose claims of police corruption in the 1970s were chronicled in an Al Pacino movie, joined dozens of current and former officers Saturday at a rally in support of getting quarterback Colin Kaepernick a job in the National Football League.

The former San Francisco 49ers player became a controversial figure last year after he refused to stand for the national anthem in what he called a protest against oppression of people of color.

He opted out of his contract in March and became a free agent, but so far, no NFL teams have signed him for the upcoming season.

The gathering in Brooklyn featured about 75 mostly minority officers wearing black T-shirts reading ''#imwithkap.''

One exception was retired officer Frank Serpico, whose exploits were featured in the 1973 film, ''Serpico.''

He admitted not being a football fan but said he felt it was important to support Kaepernick for his stance.

''He's trying to hold up this government up to our founding fathers,'' said the now 81-year-old Serpico.
By Julie Walker

NAACP calls for boycott if Kaepernick remains unsigned

Current and former New York City police officers rallied on Saturday in support of getting quarterback Colin Kaepernick a job in the National Football League, according to AP News. The NAACP demands it.

From the Sports Xchange:

Two prominent organizations showed support for quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his inability to catch on with an NFL team.

The NAACP chapter in Atlanta is calling for all football fans to boycott NFL games by not watching those contests until a team signs Kaepernick.

Meanwhile, a number of current and former New York City police officers, including Frank Serpico, gathered in Brooklyn in support of Kaepernick.

Kaepernick, 29, brought controversy when he decided to kneel during the national anthem prior to NFL games in protest of racism in America. He became a free agent after playing for the San Francisco 49ers last season, but no team has signed him for the coming season.

Gerald Griggs, the vice president of the NAACP's Atlanta chapter, said this week that his chapter will boycott all things related to the NFL as long as Kaepernick remains unsigned.

"There will be no football in the state of Georgia if Colin Kaepernick is not on a training camp roster and given an opportunity to pursue his career," Griggs told Fox 5 in Atlanta. "This is not a simple request. This is a statement. This is a demand."

Raiders’ Derek Carr, Khalil Mack promote racial solidarity during anthem

From the Las Vegas Review Journal:

Derek Carr is a budding star NFL quarterback. Khalil Mack is the reigning AP Defensive Player of the Year. Together, their statures afford them a large following.
On Saturday, they hoped to lead.

Carr placed his right hand atop the back-neck area of Mack’s jersey throughout the national anthem before the Raiders’ 24-21 exhibition loss to the Los Angeles Rams. This was no accident, Carr said afterward. The gesture was intended as a message of solidarity amid racial tension in the United States.

“Any kid, any family, any adult that follows us or looks up to us, we knew their eyes would be on us,” Carr said. “We wanted to show them that it’s OK for a white kid and a black kid who come from two different neighborhoods to grow up and love one another and be best friends.”

Carr, 26, said the two are “not protesting” the anthem.

“We’re not doing anything like that,” he said. “What we wanted to do is show all the kids that look up to me, that look up to him that white kids, black kids, brown kids — blue, green; it doesn’t matter — can all be loving to each other. That’s what me and Khalil are. We’re best friends, and we love one another. The only reason we did that was to unify people and unify the people that look up to us.

By Michael Gehlken

AP News -- Massive counter-protest upstages Boston free speech rally

Free speech rally in Boston on Saturday was very successful. Some confrontations and skirmishes but otherwise a great day, and a great example of “Boston Strong.”

From AP News:

Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans in a public rejection of white nationalism upstaged a small group in Boston that planned a “free speech rally” a week after a violent clash rocked Virginia and reverberated across the U.S.

Counterprotesters marched through the city on Saturday to historic Boston Common, where conservatives had planned to deliver a series of speeches but soon left. Police vans later escorted the conservatives out of the area, as boisterous counter-protesters scuffled with police.

Organizers of the event, the Boston Free Speech Coalition, had publicly distanced themselves from the neo-Nazis, white supremacists and others who fomented violence in Charlottesville on Aug. 12. A woman was killed at that Unite the Right rally, and many others were injured, when a car plowed into counterdemonstrators.

Opponents feared that white nationalists might show up in Boston anyway, and turned out in force, some dressed entirely in black with bandannas over their faces. Officials said the rallies — the largest of about a half-dozen around the country on Saturday — drew about 40,000 people.

Counterprotesters chanted slogans, and waved signs that said: “Make Nazis Afraid Again,” ″Love your neighbor,” ″Resist fascism” and “Hate never made U.S. great.” Others carried a large banner that read: “SMASH WHITE SUPREMACY.”

Chris Hood, a free speech rally attendee from Dorchester, said people were unfairly making it seem like the rally was going to be “a white supremacist Klan rally.”

“That was never the intention,” he said. “We’ve only come here to promote free speech on college campuses, free speech on social media for conservative, right-wing speakers. And we have no intention of violence.”

One of the planned speakers of the conservative activist rally said the event “fell apart.”

NY Times -- The Benefits of Standing by the President

Blind loyalty to Trump helped Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of the private equity giant Blackstone, nail down one of the biggest deals on Wall Street this year — its selection by Saudi Arabia to manage a new $20 billion fund, the largest in the world to invest in infrastructure projects.

The Saudi’s decided on Schwarzman because he's a close adviser of Trump. The announcement of the deal was even made at the royal palace in Riyadh as Trump and Jared Kushner looked on.

Nothing illegal occurred, as far as we know. But the deal makes clear how much corporate leaders stand to gain by sticking by Trump, and how much they risk by standing up to him -- as several did this past week. Even more kudos to them.

By Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Ben Protess, Michael Corkery

Remembering Dick Gregory, legendary comic and civil rights activist

From politicians and actors to activists and comedians, to fans and friends — people have been taking to Twitter in droves to pay homage to Dick Gregory, the iconic satirist and civil rights activist who died on Saturday at the age of 84.

“He taught us how to laugh. He taught us how to fight. He taught us how to live,” wrote activist Rev. Jesse Jackson. “Dick Gregory was committed to justice. I miss him already.”

Dick Gregory was jailed and beaten by Birmingham police for parading without a permit in 1963. He took a bullet in the knee while trying to calm a crowd during the Watts riots in 1965. Two years later, he ran for mayor of Chicago against the infamous Richard Daley.

He was a close friend of Martin Luther King Jr. and in 1968 he ran for president against Richard Nixon. He pulled an astonishing 1.5 million votes—as a write-in candidate. During that campaign, he was arrested by U.S. Treasury agents for printing and distributing fake American currency with his picture on the bills as campaign literature.

He was an activist and a comedian, well known for his hunger strikes for justice. In 1967, he weighed more than 280 pounds and smoked and drank heavily. Then he began a public fast starting Thanksgiving Day to protest the war in Vietnam. 40 days later, he broke his fast with a hearty glass of fruit juice. He weighed 97 pounds.

In the summer of 1968, he fasted for 45 days as a show of solidarity with Native Americans. The following summer he did another 45 days in protest of de-facto segregation in the Chicago public schools. In 1970 he went 81 days to bring attention to the narcotics problem in America. Beginning in 1971 he went nearly three years without solid foods, again to protest the war. During that stretch he ran 900 miles from Chicago to D.C.

During the Iran hostage crisis, he traveled to Tehran in an effort to free the hostages and he traveled to the north of Ireland to advise hunger-striking IRA prisoners. In his campaign against hunger he traveled to Ethiopia more than ten times.

Throughout his life, Dick Gregory was a target of FBI and police surveillance, and he was virtually banned from the entertainment arena for his political activism.

He died today at the age of 84. We spoke with him many times on Democracy Now!, about racial profiling, the death penalty & more. Hear him tell his life story, in his own words:

February 26, 2002

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Boston Globe -- In a city with fraught racial past, a day of protest against hatred and bigotry (VIDEO)

By Mark Arsenault

Today, Boston set the example of how political rallies and counter-protest should be managed. Everything the Mayor and Boston Police Department said in news conferences prior to Saturday’s rally they executed without a hitch. There were some skirmishes and confrontations but very few. We are all proud of the people of Boston and what Massachusetts and Boston stand for: “peace and love not bigotry and hate.”

A city with a fraught racial past turned out tens of thousands of protesters Saturday for an overwhelming denunciation of racism, anti-Semitism, and religious bigotry, in a demonstration that was largely peaceful though punctuated with scuffles and some edgy nose-to-nose encounters among demonstrators.

On a hot, humid day, sweaty throngs on Boston Common chanted — sometimes angrily, often profanely — against Nazis, against racism, the KKK and fascists. They held signs calling for peace, waved the rainbow flag of the gay rights movement and held placards honoring Heather Heyer, a woman killed last weekend opposing white nationalists at a rally in Charlottesville.

My co-workers thought I was crazy to come here because a woman was killed last week,” said Ny Martin, 40, of Medford. “But that’s why I had to be here.

The local impetus for the massive demonstration on Boston Common was a rally planned before Charlottesville by the Boston Free Speech Coalition, a group that claims to promote open dialogue but that civil rights advocates say is linked to people who espouse racial hatred and violence. Coming a week after the Virginia violence, the Boston “free speech” event generated a massive response by residents and law enforcement.

I think it’s clear today that Boston stood for peace and love not bigotry and hate, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said.

Police Commissioner William B. Evans said in a press conference after the event, We probably had 40,000 people out here standing our city and that’s a good feeling.

Nearly all the demonstrators were here for the right reason, Evans said, though we did have people who came here to cause problems.

Business Insider -- Steve Mnuchin's Yale classmates are urging him to resign from the Trump Administration in protest

Over 300 of Steve Mnuchin’s Yale University Class of 1985 classmates signed a letter asking him to resign as Secretary of the Treasury in response to President Donald Trump’s comments on recent events in Charlottesville.

In part, the letter to Mnuchin said,

“We do so today because President Trump has declared himself a sympathizer with groups whose values are antithetical to those values we consider fundamental to our sacred honor as Americans, as men and women of Yale, and as decent human beings. “President Trump made those declarations loudly, clearly, and unequivocally, and he said them as you stood next to him.

"We call upon you, as our friend, our classmate, and as a fellow American, to resign in protest of President Trump’s support of Nazism and white supremacy. We know you are better than this, and we are counting on you to do the right thing.”

The class members are made up of different political persuasions but said they cannot condone Nazis and white supremacists. “We can disagree on the means of promoting the general welfare of the country, on the size and role of government, on the nature of freedom and security, but we cannot take the side of what we know to be evil.”

Matthew Countryman, one of Mnuchin's classmates, stated their letter had nothing to do with politics: "This is not a matter of the debt ceiling or the infrastructure project. This is a question of what kind of democracy, what kind of nation will we be, and whose side is [Mnuchin] on.”

By Bryan Logan

Bannon: 'The Trump Presidency That We Fought For, and Won, Is Over'

Did Donald Trump and Steve Bannon just go from friends to enemies?

No. Their partnership, albeit in a different way, may be even stronger than ever.

Here’s Bannon’s declaration upon returning to Breitbart News after his resignation as White House Chief Strategist:

“If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents -- on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America,” according to Bloomberg News. 

The Weekly Standard:

With the departure from the White House of strategist Stephen K. Bannon, who helped shape the so-called nationalist-populist program embraced by Donald Trump in his unlikely path to election, a new phase of the Trump presidency begins. Given Trump’s nature, what comes next will hardly be conventional, but it may well be less willfully disruptive—which, to Bannon, had been the point of winning the White House.

“The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,” Bannon said Friday, shortly after confirming his departure. “We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency. But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else. And there’ll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over.”

By Peter J. Boyer

The secret, dangerous world of private prisons

The private prison industry is booming, and Trump will keep it that way. In one of his first acts on the job, Attorney General Jeff Sessions immediately rescinded an Obama administration order to phase-out the use of private prisons altogether.

Not surprisingly, the stock prices of for-profit prison corporations have soared since the order was revoked. One company (The GEO Group, which operates 64 prisons across the country) has already scored $774 million worth of federal contracts this year.

The Obama administration wanted to close private prisons for a reason. The Justice Department's inspector general found that privately-run facilities are far less safe than those operated by the federal Bureau of Prisons. For example, private prisons have higher rates of violence and limited access to health care.

In reversing Obama's decision, the Trump administration has once again embraced the idea that private prisons are more efficient.

Rubbish. The so-called “market” for private prisons is an utter fallacy. Prisoners aren't consumers who can switch facilities when the service is lousy. Nor do taxpayers have enough information on how inmates are treated to affect outcomes. Private prisons only create incentives to put more people behind bars.

Sessions is proving he’s every bit as awful as we had expected, once again dragging the country backwards. We must close these facilities and end mass incarceration.

For example, “Louisiana is the world's prison capital. The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana's incarceration rate is nearly five times Iran's, 13 times China's and 20 times Germany's.

The hidden engine behind the state's well-oiled prison machine is cold, hard cash. A majority of Louisiana inmates are housed in for-profit facilities, which must be supplied with a constant influx of human beings or a $182 million industry will go bankrupt.

Several homegrown private prison companies command a slice of the market. But in a uniquely Louisiana twist, most prison entrepreneurs are rural sheriffs, who hold tremendous sway in remote parishes like Madison, Avoyelles, East Carroll and Concordia. A good portion of Louisiana law enforcement is financed with dollars legally skimmed off the top of prison operations.

If the inmate count dips, sheriffs bleed money. Their constituents lose jobs. The prison lobby ensures this does not happen by thwarting nearly every reform that could result in fewer people behind bars.

Meanwhile, inmates subsist in bare-bones conditions with few programs to give them a better shot at becoming productive citizens. Each inmate is worth $24.39 a day in state money, and sheriffs trade them like horses, unloading a few extras on a colleague who has openings. A prison system that leased its convicts as plantation labor in the 1800s has come full circle and is again a nexus for profit, according to Nola.

By David Gambacorta

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Hill -- Bannon exit raises new questions for White House

“Ousted White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon returned to the conservative Breitbart News website on Friday and said he’ll be ‘going to war’ for President Donald Trump, vowing to intensify from the outside the fight he has waged against opponents of his brand of populist conservatism.

“’If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents -- on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America,’ Bannon said Friday in an interview with Bloomberg News hours after his departure was announced,” according to Bloomberg News.

Steve Bannon’s days at the White House are over, but questions remain over how much influence — or chaos — he will cause from the outside.

While the chief strategist’s ouster is a victory for new White House chief of staff John Kelly and his goal of eliminating leaks and bringing order to the Oval Office, some believe Bannon could be an even more disruptive force for the Trump administration from the outside.

Bannon returned to Breitbart News immediately after his departure. He had turned the news site into a right-wing juggernaut as chairman before joining the Trump campaign.

Steve’s allies in the populist-nationalist movement are ready to ride to the gates of hell with him against the West Wing Democrats and globalists like [deputy national security adviser] Dina Powell, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump, [economic adviser] Gary Cohn and [national security adviser] H.R. McMaster, said one Bannon ally.

“They should all be very worried that their efforts to undermine the president will be exposed,” the ally continued. If they think what’s happened with Steve is rough, wait until they see what he does outside the White House.

By Jonathan Easley And Jordan Fabian

Bloomberg -- Bannon Says He's `Going to War for Trump' After White House Exit

Removing Steve Bannon or other alt-right factions from the White House is ridiculous. The problem is Trump. The President is a white nationalist and racist, and he believes that he is superior to others. Hate groups are Trump’s people. The only way to solve the problem is to remove Donald Trump from office.

The problem was never just Steve Bannon. It was and always will be Donald Trump, -- Senator Bernie Sanders

Ousted White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon returned to the conservative Breitbart News website on Friday and said he’ll be going to war for President Donald Trump, vowing to intensify from the outside the fight he has waged against opponents of his brand of populist conservatism.

“’If there’s any confusion out there, let me clear it up: I’m leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents -- on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America, Bannon said Friday in an interview with Bloomberg News hours after his departure was announced.

Bannon led the evening editorial meeting at Breitbart, where he resumed his role as executive chairman, the website said in a statement.

He left the White House earlier Friday, ending a controversial tenure as the administration is engulfed in a storm over the president’s remarks on violence in Virginia. Bannon’s departure was agreed on mutually with new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.

By Joshua Green, Justin Sink, Margaret Talev

Economist -- Donald Trump has no grasp of what it means to be president

Defenders of President Donald Trump offer two arguments in his favour—that he is a businessman who will curb the excesses of the state; and that he will help America stand tall again by demolishing the politically correct taboos of left-leaning, establishment elites. From the start, these arguments looked like wishful thinking. After Mr Trump’s press conference in New York on August 15th they lie in ruins.

The unscripted remarks were his third attempt to deal with violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend (see article). In them the president stepped back from Monday’s—scripted—condemnation of the white supremacists who had marched to protest against the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general, and fought with counter-demonstrators, including some from the left. In New York, as his new chief of staff looked on dejected, Mr Trump let rip, stressing once again that there was blame “on both sides”. He left no doubt which of those sides lies closer to his heart.

Mr Trump is not a white supremacist [I disagree here, he is a white nationalist and a racist]. He repeated his criticism of neo-Nazis and spoke out against the murder of Heather Heyer (see our Obituary). Even so, his unsteady response contains a terrible message for Americans. Far from being the savior of the Republic, their president is politically inept, morally barren and temperamentally unfit for office.

Another day of big news. My sympathy goes out to the victims of the horrific terrorist attack in Spain.

And back home more aftershocks from the President about our own precarious state. If you want to know how other parts of the world see what is happening here, consider this provocative cover and accompanying text from The Economist, hardly a left-wing publication. A sample quote:

"Mr Trump’s inept politics stem from a moral failure. Some counter-demonstrators were indeed violent, and Mr Trump could have included harsh words against them somewhere in his remarks. But to equate the protest and the counter-protest reveals his shallowness. Video footage shows marchers carrying fascist banners, waving torches, brandishing sticks and shields, chanting “Jews will not replace us”. Footage of the counter-demonstration mostly shows average citizens shouting down their opponents. And they were right to do so: white supremacists and neo-Nazis yearn for a society based on race, which America fought a world war to prevent. Mr Trump’s seemingly heartfelt defense of those marching to defend Confederate statues spoke to the degree to which white grievance and angry, sour nostalgia is part of his world view."

ABC -- Charlottesville victim’s mother says, 'I’m not talking to the president now after what he said' (VIDEO)

(Proud Mother Says 
Charlottesville Victim Heather Heyer 
'Was About Stopping Hatred' | Common Dreams)

By Sabina Ghebremedhin, Kelly Mckelvey, 
Catherine Thorbecke  

The mother of Heather Heyer, the woman killed Saturday when a car rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, said she "will not" speak with President Donald Trump in the wake of her daughter's death.

“I have not and now I will not,” Susan Bro said in an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts today on “Good Morning America,” adding that she believes the first phone call to her from the White House came during her daughter’s public memorial service on Wednesday.

“The first call, it looked like actually came during the funeral. I didn’t even see that message,” said Bro. “There were three more frantic messages from press secretaries throughout the day and I didn’t know why.”

Bro, who had thanked Trump in a statement on Monday for his "words of comfort and for denouncing those who promote violence and hatred,” said she was recovering from the exhaustion of the funeral Wednesday and did not return the White House messages.

She said her opinion of Trump’s response changed after she had time to watch news coverage of the Charlottesville protests after laying Heyer, 32, to rest on Wednesday.

"I hadn’t really watched the news until last night and I’m not talking to the president now, after what he said," Bro explained. "It’s not that I saw somebody else’s tweets about him, I saw an actual clip of him at a press conference equating the protesters ... with the KKK and the white supremacists."

She continued, "You can’t wash this one away by shaking my hand and saying, ‘I’m sorry.’ I’m not forgiving for that."

STAT News -- White nationalists are flocking to genetic ancestry tests. Some don’t like what they find

It was a strange moment of triumph against racism: The gun-slinging white supremacist Craig Cobb, dressed up for daytime TV in a dark suit and red tie, hearing that his DNA testing revealed his ancestry to be only “86 percent European, and … 14 percent Sub-Saharan African.” The studio audience whooped and laughed and cheered. And Cobb — who was, in 2013, charged with terrorizing people while trying to create an all-white enclave in North Dakota — reacted like a sore loser in the schoolyard.

“Wait a minute, wait a minute, hold on, just wait a minute,” he said, trying to put on an all-knowing smile. “This is called statistical noise.”

Then, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, he took to the white nationalist website Stormfront to dispute those results. That’s not uncommon: With the rise of spit-in-a-cup genetic testing, there’s a trend of white nationalists using these services to prove their racial identity, and then using online forums to discuss the results.

White supremacist Craig Cobb
found out through DNA testing
that he was “86 percent European,
14 percent Sub-Saharan African.

Kevin Cederstrom/AP

By Eric Boodman

Dan Rather: Trump’s glorifying ‘the greatest band of traitors’ in US history

In a Thursday morning tweet, Donald Trump once again stood up for the principle that honoring the leaders of a 19th century rebellion whose goal was to entrench the institution of chattel slavery is similar to honoring the founders of the United States of America.

Dan Rather:

The Party of Lincoln has become the Party of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee. To borrow a phrase from the President's own limited eloquence - Sad!

In another Twitter rant this morning, Mr. Trump has tripled down, quadrupled down (haven't we lost count by now) on his morally bankrupt false equivalence between not only Nazis, anti-Semites, other racists, and the counter-protesters. But he's now equating the greatest band of traitors in American history with our Founding Fathers.

No Robert E. Lee and George Washington are not in the same category. Go to Mt. Vernon and you will learn about a heroic but tragically flawed man who could not escape the deep prejudices of his time even as he wrestled with their moral injustices. Head to the monuments of the Confederacy and you will see only the exultations of those who sought to tear the United States asunder so they could keep in place a cruel bondage of their fellow human beings.

This could be a time for a reckoning with our history, but it seems that the only history Mr. Trump is interested in is revisionist sloganeering.

The United States abolished slavery, but at a great and bloody cost. We abolished legal segregation, also at great cost. I covered Klan rallies in the 1960s, and I have seen that hatred up close. It made my blood run cold, as a privileged, white Christian male. I could not imagine the terror it would strike in the peoples for which it was intended.

Even before this recent descent into Nazi and Klan rallies of heavily armed bigots, we had a long way to go on racial justice. Now it seems we are in danger of more bloodshed and open conflict. I have no doubt that the forces of good will win out, but at what cost?

The demons from our past have never been put to rest, but their destiny is for the trash heap of history. And all decent Americans should not only say that but act accordingly. The time for cheap words is over. The question is will Americans realize that a quick Twitter post won't do. Will theyh stand up? Will they speak openly and honestly? Will they name names? We have a President openly waving the banner of The Lost Cause.

Many have died for the cause for justice. And so I end here with a quote from Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. These were words that Republicans used to stand by and I hope they do again. Mr. Lincoln's sentiments do not seem dated, but tragically of our moment:

"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Time -- Prominent Supporter of President Trump Admits He Regrets His Vote

Julius Krein, who founded American Affairs and has been described as a "pro-Trump journal based on the promise to "Make America Great Again," now realizes that Trump's actions threaten the future of the country. Krein now has disavowed the president for his response to Charlottesville, and he encourages others to do the same.

He writes:

"I can’t stand by this disgraceful administration any longer, and I would urge anyone who once supported him as I did to stop defending the 45th president..."

"It is now clear that we were deluding ourselves. Either Mr. Trump is genuinely sympathetic to the David Duke types, or he is so obtuse as to be utterly incapable of learning from his worst mistakes. Either way, he continues to prove his harshest critics right..."

"Mr. Trump once boasted that he could shoot someone in the street and not lose voters. Well, someone was just killed in the street by a white supremacist in Charlottesville. His refusal this weekend to specifically and immediately denounce the groups responsible for this intolerable violence was both morally disgusting and monumentally stupid. In this, Mr. Trump failed perhaps the easiest imaginable test of presidential leadership. Rather than advance a vision of national unity that he claims to represent, his indefensible equivocation can only inflame the most vicious forces of division within our country."

Kudos to Krein for taking a stand against racism. More Trump supporters have begun to see the danger his presidency poses to the country. We all need to speak out against this demagoguery -- regardless of our political party -- to reaffirm our values as Americans,” -- Robert Reich

By Katie Reilly

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Time -- Mother of Charlottesville Victim Urges 'Righteous Action' in Powerful Speech

There was a memorial service yesterday for Heather Heyer, the young woman killed over the weekend while protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Her mother offered forgiveness and urged mourners to honor her daughter by standing up to the injustices in the world:

"Let's channel ... anger not into hate, not into violence, not into fear, but let's channel that difference, that anger, into righteous action."

"You need to find in your heart that small spark of accountability. 'What is there I can do to make the world a better place? What injustice do I see?' … You poke that finger at yourself like Heather would have done. You take that extra step. You find a way to make a difference in the world."

"Find what's wrong. Don't ignore it, don't look the other way. You make a point to look at it and say to yourself, 'What can I do to make a difference?' And that's how you're going to make my child's death worthwhile. I'd rather have my child, but by golly, if I gotta give her up, we're going to make it count."

I have no doubt that if we take these words to heart and follow in Heather's footsteps, we can overcome the hate that took her life. Find what's wrong. Don't ignore it. Ask yourself what you can do to make a difference.

By Brian Witte and Sarah Rankin

STAT -- Democrats in Congress Explore Creating an Expert Panel on Trump’s Mental Health

There is also a bill aimed at establishing a “commission on presidential capacity”

Many politicians, journalist, academics, and many in the mental health community are increasingly questioning the state of Trump’s mind and whether he is capable of continuing to be our President.

Political commentator George Will says President Trump is someone who is not able to "think and speak clearly,"and that it’s “up to the public to quarantine this presidency by insistently communicating to its elected representatives a steady, rational fear of this man whose combination of impulsivity and credulity render him uniquely unfit to take the nation into a military conflict."

Robert Reich, author and chancellor’s professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkley, is the former Labor Secretary to President Bill Clinton. He argues that it is “now time to seriously consider the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which provides for removal of a president who is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office’.”

Trump’s deviant behavior is a problem. Many have called his mental problem to be outright dangerous for our country. But a Republican-led Congress will not take any action and that’s perhaps the most significant problem we have.

Three congressional Democrats have asked a psychiatrist at Yale School of Medicine to consult with them about forming an expert panel to offer the legislators advice on assessing President Trump’s mental health.

Yale’s Dr. Bandy Lee told STAT that over the last few weeks members of Congress or their staff have asked her to discuss how members might convene psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals “to review the president’s mental health and review it on a periodic basis.” The closed meeting is expected to take place in September, she said.

The request came from three current congressmen and one former member, she said. She declined to name them, saying they told her they did not wish to be publicly identified yet.

The invitation comes as 27 representatives, all Democrats, have co-sponsored a bill to establish “a commission on presidential capacity.” The commission would carry out a provision of the 25th Amendment, which gives Congress the authority to establish a body with the power to declare a president unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Under the bill, H.R. 1987, eight of the 11 members of the commission would be physicians, including four psychiatrists.

Trump has not released his medical records beyond a brief summary from his physician last year. He has said he never sought or received a mental health evaluation or therapy.

But since his election and, increasingly, his inauguration, a number of mental health experts have spoken or written about what Trump’s behavior and speech suggest about his cognitive and emotional status, including impulsivity and paranoia, with some offering formal diagnoses, such as narcissistic personality disorder.

In a book scheduled for publication in October that was edited by Lee, 27 experts offer their views of what Lee calls “Trump’s mental symptoms,” including his impulsivity, “extreme present focus,” pathological levels of narcissism, and an apparent lack of trust that is a sign of deep paranoia. The book is based on a small meeting Lee organized at Yale in April on whether psychiatrists have a “duty to warn” about any dangers Trump poses because of his psychological makeup.

By Sharon Begley