Saturday, July 04, 2020

Self-Deception


A happy thought about Independence Day from one guy on Twitter:
This nation was not founded on "free speech" and does not practice it. It was founded, among other things, on the First Amendment's guarantee "Congress shall make no law.... abridging the freedom of speech."

That prevents government from infringing upon free speech but private actors can do otherwise. We're reminded often by some on the race (formerly, "race and gender") left- of the Cooper vs. Cooper showdown in Central Park, NY. There, as the New York Times summarizes

Mr. Cooper, who is black, asked a white woman to put her dog on a leash. When she did not, he began filming. In response, the woman said she would tell the police that “an African-American man is threatening my life” before dialing 911.

The video went viral- or rather, half the video went viral- the portion Mr. Cooper decided to release minus the portion in which he threatened- uh, er offered- to feed a stranger's dog.

 (True, relevant, story: after a public meeting attended by many people including a K-9 police officer, I asked the officer if I could give a little of the food I had to the dog. She said "no" and only later, never having owned a pet, did I learn that chocolate is poisonous to a dog.)

Mr. Cooper dared her to call the police, as she did, identifying Mr. Cooper as African-American rather than simply "some guy." Mr. Cooper left, the police determined that the incident was minor, and that was it.

Unfortunately, that was not it as she faced a torrent of bigoted and sexist abuse on social media, a majority of which was prompted by her identification of Mr. Cooper as "African-American, apparently now a toxic charge. She was fired from her "high-level finance job," pleasing individuals cheered that a worker can be fired without due process. The dismissal was not constitutionally prohibited because it had nothing to do with government, and her employer evidently was less concerned with job performance than the popularity of the speech she expressed on her free time. 

It was a reminder of the limits of the "free speech" many people naively believe is guaranteed to us by the US Constitution. So, too, is naive the notion that we "look at our history with clear eyes and see both our flaws and triumphs."

In the video below, you will see presidential adviser Larry Kudlow contending that the USA is not guilty of systemic racism because "You have as evidence of that view, our first black president, just a few years back, won two terms, and I regarded that with pride as an American."





He said that; he really did. He said that we couldn't possibly be racist given that a black person had been elected President. Of course, that was a binary choice, one made in part because the presidential (and the very unpopular vice-presidential) candidate he was opposing had to defend an eight-year presidency soundly rejected by the American people.

Larry Kudlow's remark would have almost made a little sense had he himself voted for Barack Obama and thereby helped demonstrate that America had wiped out its original sin. However, the chance of that having occurred is slim to none, and slim is on its way out of town.

The theory that election of a black demonstrates that there is no systemic racism is absurd. And it is absurd not only insofar as the presidential terms of Barack Obama were followed by the election of an openly and brazenly bigoted candidate who first caught the attention of the Republican electorate by steadfastly maintaining that the black President was born in Africa.

It is similarly absurd when asserted by other individuals, most notably by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, whom I recently saw and heard state that America clearly is not racist because a black was elected President. It is a belief expressed by many conservatives, most of whom probably voted against Obama, though some no doubt did vote for him as a sort of expiation.

Trying to convince oneself or others that the USA is not racist because of the election of an African-American is a way for conservatives/Republicans to avoid looking "at our history with clear eyes (to) see both our flaws and triumphs." But it's not only the right and/or Republicans who need self-assurance.  A senior editor at The Atlantic actually tweeted
Seemingly unaware that when one finds herself in a hole, she should stop digging, some clarification:


No, Refusing to face our history honestly does not encapsulate a spirit to do anything better.  We should not choose to be deaf, dumb, and blind. A historian and journalist (of the left, actually) has the courage to explain

Historian Annette Gordon-Reed, who enjoyed the musical, nevertheless found

The show portrays Hamilton as a “young, scrappy, and hungry” immigrant (he was born on the Caribbean Island of Nevis, but qualified as a U.S. citizen when the Constitution was adopted), an egalitarian, and a passionate abolitionist. All of this is wrong, Gordon-Reed said.

“In the sense of the Ellis Island immigrant narrative, he was not an immigrant,” she said. “He was not pro-immigrant, either.

“He was not an abolitionist,” she added. “He bought and sold slaves for his in-laws, and opposing slavery was never at the forefront of his agenda.

“He was not a champion of the little guy, like the show portrays,” she said. “He was elitist. He was in favor of having a president for life.”

The musical simplifies and sanitizes history, said Gordon-Reed. “The Hamilton on the stage is more palatable and attractive to modern audiences,” she said.

Set amid the Revolution, the play fails to depict the central role played by slavery at that moment in history, and also neglects to mention that most of the Founding Fathers were slave owners.

Hamilton was not a bad guy for his time and no statue of his should be removed.  However, Abraham Lincoln fought a war to end slavery and Hans Christian Heg was an abolitionist, and their statues have seen better days.The celebration of "Hamilton" and of the man himself reflect our preference to see things as we wish they were rather than as they are.

Alexander Hamilton is not accurately portrayed on stage. Election of Barack Obama neither ended racism nor proved that racism does not exist. And Americans are not guaranteed freedom of speech. It would be comforting to believe that we "look at our history with clear eyes and see both our flaws and triumphs." But reality is often discomfiting and its admission, it appears, is prohibitively uncomfortable.



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Friday, July 03, 2020

Acting Badly, Looking Good


Victory? Oh, sure.

The Washington Redskins of the National Football League will be changing its name now that, as reported by The Washington Post

After years of resistance, the team said it was launching a thorough review of the name. It did not share any details of the process, but two people familiar with discussions between Snyder, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and league officials that led to Friday’s announcement said the review is expected to result in a new team nickname and mascot.

“You know where this leads,” one of the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “They’re working on that process [of changing the name]. It will end with a new name. Dan has been listening to different people over the last number of weeks.”

The different people he has been listening to are not the multitudes of protesters of racial bias, native tribal members, nor the activists who for decades have been promoting a name change. Instead, on July 2

FedEx, a longtime sponsor and naming-rights holder of the team’s home stadium, issued a one sentence statement calling for a change. Fred Smith, the FedEx chief executive, is a minority owner of the Redskins.

That would be the same FedEx which is non-union and in which

workers who charge that their benefits are less than at rival UPS said the company has bombarded them with anti-union messages and forced them to attend anti-union meetings.

The Guardian obtained recordings of meetings that were mandatory and required workers to sign in, according to a FedEx employee, held at FedEx facilities in 2015 and 2016, where managers and union avoidance consultants lectured workers on unions as the Teamsters was attempting to organize FedEx drivers at several locations around the United States.

“It’s time to campaign. If you don’t want this third party coming in putting a wall between us, it’s time. Because when you campaign and tell them you don’t want them here, eventually it becomes loud and clear to them. You can do that,” said a FedEx human resources manager in a July 2016 captive audience meeting.

There is pressure coming from other socially conscious companies. And so

Larry Di Rita, Bank of America’s president for the Washington market, said: “As a partner and sponsor, we have encouraged the team to change the name and we welcome this announcement.”

Nonetheless, one owner of a small software company has explained that Bank of America

is now being sued by small businesses for shutting my and other small enterprises out of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan. The allegation is that BofA served large businesses first, on whom they could earn the most in fees per transaction.

After joining with others to bring the world economy nearly to a standstill earlier this century, Bank of America received a $45 billion bailout from the federal government and still

brought tens of thousands of Americans to foreclosure court using bogus, “robo-signed” evidence – a type of mass perjury that it helped pioneer. It hawked worthless mortgages to dozens of unions and state pension funds, draining them of hundreds of millions in value. And when it wasn’t ripping off workers and pensioners, it was helping to push insurance giants like AMBAC into bankruptcy by fraudulently inducing them to spend hundreds of millions insuring those same worthless mortgages.

The Post adds

As major corporate backers of the team, FedEx and PepsiCo tied their brands to that of the Redskins for years. In their respective statements acknowledging that they support a name-change, neither company used the word “Redskins."

How sensitive; or progressive; or "woke" the two of them are. PepsiCo, as we know, is a major player in the soft drink market, in which the easily absorbable sugar which is intrinsic to its product is arguably the most important contributor in the universe to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and liver disease, let alone obesity.

At the time the WaPo article was written, Nike had not yet issued a statement but had removed the Washington Redskins merchandise from its website.  In recent years, Nike has moved some of its production from  mainland China to other nations, especially Vietnam. However, it still owns facilities in China, whose dictatorial, murderous regime has been propped up by Nike and other American corporations which, when pressed, will demonstrate their sensitivity and compassion by demanding that ethnically insensitive nicknames change. 

Meanwhile, the exploitation of Chinese workers by a government engaged in destroying the culture of Uighurs, and with the most extensive deployment of internment camps since the Holocaust, will remain. The death of Americans still will be an integral part of the PepsiCo business model. BOA will continue to lead the way in cheating customers and small businesses. FedEx will continue to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on union avoidance consultants because the working conditions and benefits of its employees pale in importance to opportunistic public relations. 

And why not? It's 2020 and workers, consumers, small business, health care, and genocide cannot compare to being on the right side in the identity wars.








                                          HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY



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Thursday, July 02, 2020

In Defense Of President Trump (No, Really)


Upon reading Jim Acosta's tweet, my first thought was the same as that of Walter Shaub:
Alas, no. According to the White House transcript of "Remarks by President Trump on the Jobs Numbers Report," President Trump stated (beginning at 6:40 of the video below) maintained

.... We followed them, with this terrible China virus, and we are likewise getting under control.

Some areas that were very hard-hit are now doing very well.  Some were doing very well, and we thought they may be gone and they flare up, and we’re putting out the fires.  But other places were long before us, and they’re now — it’s like life; it’s got a life.  And we’re putting out that life, because that’s a bad life that we’re talking about.

But all of this suggests that workers are confident about fighting a new job....

I've added the first and last sentences only as context. Thus, speaking of SARS-CoV-2, the President stated

some (areas) were doing very well, and we thought they may be gone and they flare up, and we're putting out the fires. But other places were long before us, and they’re now — it’s like life; it’s got a life.  And we’re putting out that life, because that’s a bad life that we’re talking about.





It's a weird way of speaking but it's Trump's way of talking. Moreover, if anyone had said this, it would be a reference to the coronavirus having a life. No one else would have said this, but still.

Of course, Trump has demonstrated by word and deed that he believes American lives don't matter. (At least Black Lives Matter believes black lives matter, which is at least some people). However, the President's words today give little additional support to the recognition that, in pursuit of what he believes would be a superior gene pool, Donald Trump wants people to die. Stay tuned.



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Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Or "Keep The Next Coronavirus To Yourself"


In a development as startling as "Donald Trump's claim does not meet the standards of objective truth"

The National Basketball Association and National Basketball Players Association are planning to paint "Black Lives Matter" on the court inside both sidelines in all three arenas the league will use at the Walt Disney World Resort when it resumes the 2019-20 season late next month in Orlando, Florida, league sources told ESPN....

On a conference call with reporters Friday, leaders of both the NBA and the NBPA said the league and union were discussing several ways to use the NBA's platform in Orlando to call attention to racial equality, social justice and police brutality. Over the weekend, Chris Paul, president of the players' union, told ESPN that the league and union were collaborating to allow players to wear uniforms with personalized messages linked to social justice on the backs of their jerseys in place of players' last names.





Social justice warriors such as Commissioner Adam Silver are not immune from hypocrisy:


The Black Lives Matter movement may be in the process of morphing into a more generalized one for social justice. But the number one agenda item of BLM is "defund the police. It is at its core an anti-police movement. 

If messages of social justice, including opposition to police brutality, are permitted on the jerseys of NBA players, it will be fascinating to see whether messages less compatible with the league's profit motive are permitted.  Kasparov might suggest "Religious Freedom for Uyghurs" or "Free HongKong." For those individuals preferring the cryptic (and if the NBA permits any names on jerseys), there could be "Where are Fang Bin and Chen Quishi?" or "In Memoriam, Li Wenliag." Disturbingly, the possibilities are nearly endless.

Otherwise, the NBA might prohibit anything critical of mainland China, in which case the league will have decided that Xi Jinping's totalitarian regime is more worthy of respect than, say, big-city police departments in the USA. If so, we would find out that the "mutual respect" Commissioner Adam Silver talks about is the league's interest in financial gain, human rights be damned.



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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Police Defunding Experiment


Peter Jamison of The Washington Post reports that in 2008, approximately an hour northeast of San Francisco

officials in Vallejo, Calif., reluctantly took a step that activists are now urging in cities across the country: They defunded their police department.

Unable to pay its bills after the 2008 financial crisis, Vallejo filed for bankruptcy and cut its police force nearly in half — to fewer than 80 officers, from a pre-recession high of more than 150. At the time, the working-class city of 122,000 north of San Francisco struggled with high rates of violent crime and simmering mistrust of its police department. It didn’t seem like things could get much worse.

You may remember when in 2016 Donald Trump made his pitch to the African-American community with "What do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump? What do you have to lose?"

Things can always get worse. And now that there are 127,000 deaths-disproportionately black- later, it's clear that African-Americans had quite a lot to lose. The residents of Vallejo, California thought that things couldn't get worse

And then they did. Far from ushering in a new era of harmony between police and the people they are sworn to protect, the budget cuts worsened tensions between the department and the community and were followed by a dramatic surge in officers’ use of deadly force. Since 2009 the police have killed 20 people, an extraordinarily high number for such a small city. In 2012 alone, officers fatally shot six suspects. Nearly a third of the city’s homicides that year were committed by law enforcement....

 Beyond the obvious consequences of fewer officers — such as fewer responses to burglaries, car thefts and other lower-priority offenses — this city has learned the hard way that a smaller police force is not necessarily a less deadly one....

It is very likely a more deadly one.  When there is a burglary, car theft, or other offenses, a public employee with a gun is the only option. So before the local economy declined in 1996 after closure of a naval base

Vallejo offered generous pay and benefits for public employees, particularly police officers and firefighters. When the economy crashed, the city’s decimated tax base forced it into bankruptcy. The police department, which accounted for much of Vallejo’s spending, was put on the chopping block.

Mayor Bob Sampayan said the cuts were felt immediately.

“We were in triage mode,” said Sampayan, himself a former police officer who retired in 2006. “We responded only to crimes in progress, and everything else was put on the back burner.”

Lt. Michael Nichelini, president of the Vallejo Police Officers’ Association, recalled watching as one division and program after another — traffic, narcotics, school resource officers, community policing — was cut so that the department could concentrate its remaining staff on patrol and investigations. Veteran officers fled, he said, and those who replaced them were often less-experienced cops willing to accept lower pay and rougher working conditions.

“It severely impacted our ability to provide not only top-notch police service but, I would say, even regular police service,” Nichelini said. In a city with high rates of violent crime, he added, the smaller number of officers found themselves repeatedly confronting dangerous situations.

Defunding the police- a big step further than taken by Vallejo- is suicidal. The city partially defunded its force, leading to less- rather than more- accountability.  If police departments are partially defunded, hence are smaller, accountability- a prime goal of the current movement- will decline, rather than rise: Alert Black Lives Matter, which is (insofar as it is sincere) completely unaware. Jamison continues

“If you have a guy who’s in a shooting, or uses a baton, or whatever,” Nichelini said, “that same officer is coming right back to work, because we don’t have anybody else to take their place.”

A virtually inevitable increase in the use of lethal and non-lethal force by police ahas ensued with the decline in personnel. Vallejo resident and former city attorney for Santa Rosa (CA) Brien Farrel

who in his old job frequently scrutinized police-misconduct complaints and defended accused officers, said the extent of police violence against citizens in Vallejo has become a major financial liability as well as a moral outrage.

“My estimate is that there are 20 to 30 misconduct suits pending against Vallejo. That’s an extraordinary number for a city of 120,000,” Farrell said. “I am an expert at assessing the civil liabilities of police officers in these incidents. And the city has major exposure.”

Alternatively, we could do away with publicly-funded police officers and replace them with privately funded employees whose misconduct (misbehavior being a human condition) would prompt many lawsuits. And then the business would declare bankruptcy. Black Lives Matter would surely fill the gap in funding.

Admittedly, if we don't defund police, we will never be able to grasp the utopia, such as when  

One teenager, 16, was fatally shot and died after being taken to hospital. The other victim, 14, is in intensive care.

The zone, initially known as Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (Chaz) and now called Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (Chop), was set up amid protests over the killing of George Floyd.

As it is part of a protest against police brutality, it is self-policing.

In a statement, Seattle hospital Harborview Medical Center said one of the boys was brought in by a private vehicle at 03:15 local time, while the other was driven in by the Fire Department's medical team at 03:30 on Monday.

"The male shooting victim who arrived to Harborview... at 03:30 from the Chop area on Capitol Hill in Seattle has unfortunately died," the statement added.

Although the site was initially occupied by hundreds of peaceful protesters, this is the fourth shooting within the boundaries of Chop in the last 10 days.






A land of self-policing: who knew anarchy could be dangerous?



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Sunday, June 28, 2020

When Race Is Just A Four-Letter Word


Good response to a tweet from the Obama Administration's ethics chief:

Trump long ago took off his hood... and put it back on, took it off and put it back on. He is impulsive and as he faces a daunting deficit against Joe Biden, he will continue to try one idea after another until he lands on what the believes is a winning theme. 

Call it "racist" or call it "racially tinged"; most voters already knew that Donald Trump is racist, racially tinged, bigoted, or whatever we might call it. Even many of his fans know that. The only controversy should be whether, as the media generally implies, he maintains considerable support despite that realization or because of it. I vote the latter.

Consequently, we shouldn't fall for any of his diversionary tactics. Nor should we believe the GOP is about nothing other than white power and corruption, though the former, and especially the latter, are involved.

Discussing with fellow Young Turk (no longer as young as they once were) Carly Fiorina's assertion that she will not vote to re-elect Donald Trump, Ana Kasparian can be seen beginning at approximately 5:34 of the video below going on a worthy rant about Fiorina and her Republican Party. She ends by stating, somewhat inconsistent with her message, "I really think Carly Fiorina needs to take a step back and really re-evaluate her own political ideology and whether she's in the right party."

Recognizing when he has been helpfully set up, Uygur responds

Yea, she's full of crap.... when she talks about corporate control, are you kidding me? So, Fiorina, do you disagree with the rule now? So this is, what they're doing is they're saying you're allowed to do derivative gambling again with customer money and without keeping enough reserves.

It is the riskiest gambling there is on the planet, they wind up gambling with trillions of dollars that isn't theirs and that they don't actually have the money to back up. That's how we collapsed the last time, in 2008. So Fiorina, are you in favor of that or against that?

I know, I don't even have to ask you,. Of course, you're in favor of (here the video is garbled, perhaps something about killing the Volcker Rule) and build more mansions and yachts until we collapse. And is any Republican against it?

.....Mitch McConnell, the dude's middle name is corporate control. What does Mitch McConnell stand for if he doesn't stand for corporate control? Lower taxes for corporations, more deregulation, crush the workers. That's Mitch McConnell, the Republican Party 101. So please spare me this about you're against Republicans, against corporate control. They're more for corporate control then they are racist and it's not even close. where as racist as they are, they would much, much rather have their corporate overloads rule over us all. They're their water boys.





So, yes, Walter Shaub, we can say that Republicans are about more than white power and corruption. They're about corporate control and corruption- but I repeat myself.



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Saturday, June 27, 2020

Bolton's Motive


The mystery of John Bolton's refusal to testify against Donald Trump in impeachment hearings earlier this year now has been solved- inadvertently, by Bolton himself.

In a column written earlier this month, never-Trumper Bill Kristol defended John Bolton's decision to criticize President Trump, characterized Bolton as scrupulously honest, and remarked

those who continue to support Trump need to accept that they’re supporting a man who has done what Bolton says Trump has done. And those who support a Trump second term need to accept that they are supporting four more years in office for a president who has done what Bolton says Trump has done.

And those who continue to keep silent are keeping silent from us, their fellow citizens, their judgment of a president who has done what Bolton says Trump has done.

Enough. Bolton has spoken. Surely there are others who will now dare to disturb the sound of silence.

Nonetheless, he didn't speak when his words would have made by far the greatest impact. Bolton hasn't leveled with us as to why- until he did so, by indirection, on Friday's Real Time with Bill Maher. President Trump's former National Security Adviser stated (beginning at 11:30 of the video below)

....  but I do think what I'm going to focus on is keeping Republicans in control of the Senate because if Biden does win, I think it's very important to make sure Republicans have at least one of the three elected entities.

Maher then commented

You took a lot of heat for not testifying in impeachment because you did call it a drug deal and you did say if you were a senator, you would have voted for impeachment, so you were on the Democrats' side on that but you said- and I thin I agree with you here- it wouldn't have changed the vote. I agree with that.

That's a safe bet. If Donald Trump had interrupted the impeachment trial by entering half-naked the Senate chamber, shooting a six shooter at the ceiling and yelling "yippee ki yay" before crawling out on all fours, Susan Collins would have pronounced herself "concerned."

Maher continued

But is the book going to change anybody's vote- I mean by coming out with a book instead of testifying? You think that's more influential that you have a book that says "Donald Trump is a narcissistic dunce who sides with dictators"? Didn't we know that?

Bolton responded

Well, look, the book is the most detailed I could make it and still get through the government's pre-publication review process. I do think that while it may not have taken a village, it does take a book. I don't think with all due respect, with a television interview or even testimony in Congress you can tell anything approaching the full story. I do think this is the best I could do.....

With all due respect, while "timing is everything" is trite and sometimes invalid, it is valid in this instance.  Had Bolton testified before Congress, Republicans still would have voted against impeachment, then against conviction. They're in too far, they can't go back, and they'll have to go down with the ship.





But it would have put those GOP representatives, then senators, on the spot. None could have said "I didn't know," as some Germans did following discovery of death camps at the close of World War II, because Donald Trump would have been (further) exposed.  It would have given ammunition to Democratic senate candidates running against incumbent Republicans in their drive to take control of the Senate and put a check on the President whom Bolton believes seriously jeopardizes national security. It could have been very, very bad for Republicans trying to hold on to their seats.

Kristol, again:
The rock-ribbed conservative pledged to fight a subpoena and kept his mouth shut when his voice was most needed to prevent that second Trump term.  He maintained silence because "what I'm going to focus on is keeping Republicans in control of the Senate."

That would dramatically embolden Trump in a second term.  Moreover, the failure to testify before the House enhanced Trump's re-election prospects by keeping vital information from the public. Because of his staunchly conservative and Republican pedigree, Bolton may have possessed with voters the credibility not possessed by truly patriotic Americans, those who spoke out and were smeared by Administration acolytes as part of the "deep state."

Bill Kristol is right.  John Bolton, who told Maher that he's unlikely to vote for either Trump or Joe Biden, is an honest right-winger. And if strengthening Donald Trump's hand and blocking the election of a Democratic President is the price to pay for keeping the US Senate in Republican hands, it's a price he'll gladly pay.




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Thursday, June 25, 2020

Everyone Wins


It was a big story over the weekend. However, now it’s little more than filler for cable news because

The FBI has determined that a noose found in NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace's garage at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday had been there since at least last year, according to the bureau.

A statement issued by U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town said that an investigation has concluded that no federal crime was committed.

"The FBI learned that garage number 4, where the noose was found, was assigned to Bubba Wallace last week. The investigation also revealed evidence, including authentic video confirmed by NASCAR, that the noose found in garage number 4 was in that garage as early as October 2019," the bureau said. "Although the noose is now known to have been in garage number 4 in 2019, nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week."

Of course, no one could have. Yet, a crew member for Richard Petty Motorsports, IQ presumably at least in the double digits, found it and reported to the NASCAR, which notified the FBI. The league reported it despite a) the "noose" being situated in a likely place for a door handle; and b) the "noose" situated low to the ground, which would  make it difficult to hang someone over 24" tall.

Maybe the crew member merely and NASCAR used bad judgement. If so, at 6'1", 160 pounds, and a longtime member of the AARP, I am being recruited by the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks.

This was not mere error. Following the discovery of the door pull noose

NASCAR drivers, pit crew members and others on Monday marched in solidarity with Bubba Wallace, in the wake of a racist incident that targeted the only full-time Black driver in the sport’s elite Cup Series.

The moving moment occurred ahead of the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, which was broadcast Monday afternoon on Fox Sports.


Wallace hugged some of the drivers at the "momentous occasion." However, that "right side of history" turns out to have been misplaced outrage at an unknown someone who put up a door pull in Bubba Wallace's garage. Nonetheless, it did gain NASCAR great publicity in its effort to erase its past- and present- as a league dominated by very conservative white men and women, some with sympathies for the Confederacy. But good publicity is priceless and can overcome almost any inconvenient image. Let Bubba Wallace himself explain:

Report a rope pull to the FBI as racial intimidation, put on an inspiring demonstration, then congratulate yourself for "progress we've made as a sport to be a more welcoming environment for all."

Someone is pulling not only a door handle, but wool over our eyes.  People with a sense of humility would say "we're sorry, it was an honest mistake." The absence of humility suggests this was no blunder.  NASCAR and Bubba Wallace come out of this smelling like roses, the one as a subject of great sympathy, the other as a league devoted to the rights of black Americans at a time when sympathy for the Confederacy is bad business.

The NASCAR desperately needed an image makeover and Bubba Wallace was well-situated to assist the business and simultaneously elevate his own prominence. Nonetheless, this may be on the level, a reasonable response to a hostile, racist threat with everyone well-intentioned.  And I expect that call any day now from the Milwaukee Bucks.



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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Anti-Racists Now An Enemy


Born in 1829, he moved with his family to Wisconsin, USA in 1840. He later joined the 4th Wisconsin Militia and served as Wisconsin State Prison Commissioner.

As an anti-slavery activist, he joined the state chapter of Wide Awakes, reportedly "an anti-slave catcher militia." The governor appointed him colonel of the 15th Wisconsin Volunteer Regiment, the only all-Scandinavian regiment in the Union Army. He was wounded at the Battle of Perryville in Octobe , 1862 and a few months later commanded his regiment during the Battle of Stones River.

Consequently, he was placed in command of a newly-formed army brigade in May, 1863. However, he was killed four months later at the Battle of Chickamauga, becoming the highest-ranked Wisconsin soldier killed in combat during the Civil War.

Brave soldier, giving his life for his country in battle against enemy; anti-slavery activist; proud immigrant to the United States of America. The enemy he fought was the Confederate States of American, which advocated states rights in order to maintain its practice of slavery. And now:
This is no longer one or two lawbreakers or anarchists. This is now the movement.  This is the unsurprising, albeit not quite inevitable, evolution of a movement led by a group which promotes the hashtag DefundthePolice, "a national defunding of police." That is not defund racist or dysfunctional police departments, nor even the slightly vague "defund police." It is defund the police, nationally, in toto.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” declared Declaration of Independence author Thomas Jefferson, also a President.  On another day, in another city, his statue was torn down; also (George Washington, too).. No matter how many media anchors and pundits note “black lives matter” (which most of us already believed) and Democrats voice support for the “Black Lives Matter movement,” this is now less a movement than a crusade headed into Donald Trump’s wheelhouse.










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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Details To Be Determined


Back in the good old days- or at least what we thought were much better days, before most of us were aware of the looming pandemic- President Trump was impeached by the United States House of Representatives.  The Republican Senate preferred to remain deaf, dumb and blind and defiantly refused to hear any witnesses. But recognition that the GOP places party above country was enhanced by eloquent and piercing speeches of House impeachment manager Adam Schiff, including one which featured (beginning at :50 of the video below)

Can we be confident that he will not continue to try to cheat in that very election? Can we be confident that Americans and not foreign powers will get to decide and that the President will shun any further foreign interference in our democratic affairs? And the short, plain, incontrovertible answer is "no, you can't." You can't trust this President to do the right thing, not for one minute, not for one election, not for the sake of our country.

You just can't. He will not change and you know it....

What are the odds if left in office that he will continue to try to cheat? I will tell you:  100%, not five, not ten, not even fifty, but 100 percent. If yo have found him guilty and you do not remove him from office, he will continue to try to cheat until he success.





We don't know exactly how, when, and where Trump will try to cheat his way back into the Oval Office. However, we know more of how he has done so previously, aside from the deal he tried to work with Ukraine which prompted the impeachment hearings.  Last week we learned

During a one-on-one meeting at the June 2019 Group of 20 summit in Japan, Xi complained to Trump about China critics in the United States. But Bolton writes in a book scheduled to be released next week that “Trump immediately assumed Xi meant the Democrats. Trump said approvingly that there was great hostility among the Democrats.

“He then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win,” Bolton writes. “He stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump’s exact words but the government’s pre-publication review process has decided otherwise.”

Republican senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who with 51 of his colleagues voted against conviction of the President, effectivelyacknowledged the President's guilt when he explained his  opposition to calling witnesses to testify at the trial.  "I don't need to hear any more evidence to decide that the president did what he's charged with doing," he maintained, "so if you've got eight witnesses saying that you left the scene of an accident, you don't need nine."

The vast majority of the US Senate realized that the President was guilty of abuse of power, obstruction of justice, or both.  We now know, almost for certain, that Donald J. Trump tried to put American democracy up for sale previously. As Adam Schiff warned us, he will do it again.



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Sunday, June 21, 2020


Director of the Office of Government Ethics in the Obama Administration:

 A prominent surgeon and researcher:

In early March, with the Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of San Francisco, President Trump appeared to be more concerned with numbers than with the coronavirus itself when he stated

I don't need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn't our fault. And it wasn't the fault of the people on the ship either, okay? It wasn't their fault either and they're mostly Americans. So, I can live either way with it. I'd rather have them stay on, personally.

Three months later, when the President spoke on Saturday night in Tulsa, we learned that he is in fact concerned with the coronavirus, only to encourage, rather than stem, its spread. He stated

When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people. You’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people slow the testing down please. They test and they test….

Gawande, who believes Trump is apathetic about the loss of American lives and Shaub, who thinks Trump is concerned only with his re-election, may be overly generous.
  
Shortly after Trump won the presidency, an Indiana University president wrote "The US may soon be facing the high noon of social Darwinism in the second decade of the 21st century." Seven months later, the President remarked of his granddaughter Arabella "she's unbelievable, huh? Good, smart, genes."

Who speaks like this? Someone who believes that only the strong will, and should, survive.   Someone whose family, as Trump biographer Michael D'Antonio warned us before the 2016  election, believes in the "racehorse theory of human development," wherein "there are superior people and that if you put together the genes of a superior woman and a superior man, you get a superior offspring.”

This family of Drumpf gave birth to a man who may or may not believe that high numbers of casualties from Covid-19 will give him a leg up in the election. But it is a man who yet again has told us that he believes that more death from a pandemic is a benefit, not a bug, to the human race..



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Saturday, June 20, 2020

Show, No Show


The two cable news networks not Trump TV face a test Saturday evening. On the print end, CNN notes that President Trump

returns to the campaign trail Saturday in Tulsa with his first rally since the coronavirus pandemic began, looking to reignite support for his struggling reelection bid while sweeping aside concerns from his own health experts and continuing to stoke tensions by threatening protesters outside his Oklahoma spectacle.

Trump is eager to resume the boisterous rallies that he believes were key to his 2016 victory at a time when his reelection prospects have dimmed, in large part because many Americans disapprove of his handling of both the coronavirus and his response to calls for racial justice that are gripping this country.

His own plans for the rally -- originally scheduled for Friday, which was Juneteenth -- the day marking the end of slavery in the United States -- may have only deepened the sense that the President, who has a history of making racist remarks and is opposed to renaming military bases named for Confederate leaders, is out of touch with a county trying to reckon with its racially violent past. That past is especially painful in Tulsa, home to a 1921 massacre of hundreds of Black Americans who were attacked by a White mob in Greenwood, a neighborhood then known as "Black Wall Street" that was looted and burned....

by gathering his backers at Tulsa's Bank of Oklahoma Center arena -- an indoor venue that holds 19,000 people -- the President is zealously flouting nearly every one of the principles outlined by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for gatherings of people, as CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta noted Friday.

Trump has long demonstrated his disdain for science, reason and the advice of experts, especially if it conflicts with his political goals. Even as he commands the highest office in the land, he has skillfully honed his image as an outsider operating from the inside in the eyes of his loyal base.

Stoking tensions? Out-of-touch? Zealously flouting nearly every one of the principles outlined by the CDC? As if to confirm fears:





If that's the case- and it definitivelyy is- the two cable networks not Trump TV have the opportunity to perform a public function when the Chosen One addresses his true believers in Oklahoma. Publicizing tweets from the President is relatively benign. They are not visual, and thus of limited effect; and most voters, including many Trump supporters find them not helpful.

But rallies are the President's bread-and-butter. They are where he shines, albeit in a belligerent, hateful, even cartoonish manner. His vile nature shines through and energizes his base. The media has enthusiastically published the anti-police brutality/defund the police protests also. However, it did not do so from beginning to end; face masks were worn at the largest of the demonstrations; and they were outdoors, significantly reducing exposure of participants to the coronavirus.

They were not held in any part to increase spread of the disease. By contrast, the Tulsa rally is to be held indoors, with air conditioning, which greatly increases the danger. That suits the President's interest in people dying, but there is no need for the responsible media to play along.




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Small Loss


Don't sweat it, Ottawa.  Canada has lost to Ireland and Norway its bid for one of the two rotating, temporary seats on the United Nations Security Council.  Canadian human rights activist Kaveh Sharouz, writing with unusual clarity and integrity, notes

notwithstanding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s sloganeering on international affairs, Canada isn’t back. With a humiliating loss in the UN Security Council election, we seem to be exactly where we were in 2010. Getting Canada back onto the Security Council had been a cornerstone of Trudeau’s foreign policy, if for no other reason than to succeed where Stephen Harper failed. And now, having won fewer votes than his predecessor, Trudeau has nothing to show for it....

While Trudeau did not spend as readily as our opponents Norway and Ireland (the latter even splurging on U2 tickets for 150 foreign diplomats), he sacrificed a lot in this quixotic quest. To win the votes of unsavoury regimes and their allies, Canada kept silent on China’s mass human rights abuses, said nothing about Bashar Assad’s butchery in Syria, refused to talk about gay rights in Senegal, and voted against an amendment calling on Cuba to release political prisoners. The list goes on.

He explains his country is now free to reclaim its "voice for democracy and human rights protections internationally" and can

begin by taking the battle to some of the worst global actors. China, surely, is at the top of that list. There’s strong evidence it runs horrifying concentration camps for its Uyghur minority. It has taken away what little independence Hong Kong had left. Its malfeasance led to a far greater pandemic than the world would have otherwise experienced. And it continues to unjustly imprison two Canadians. Unburdened by the need to win a UNSC seat, we should abandon what a former Canadian ambassador to China calls Canada’s “almost humiliating” posture towards Beijing.

The same should be done with Iran and Russia, two of the most malevolent regimes on the international scene. Compelled by the UNSC race, we have been eerily silent when those regimes take political prisoners or when they slaughter their citizens in the streets. Worse than silence, our prime minister has even periodically hobnobbed with officials of a regime responsible for killing dozens of our citizens in the skies.

Being rejected by the United Nations should be considered more a badge of honor than a badge of disgrace. It's not Iran and Russia which that body- or its human rights council- is concerned with:



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Friday, June 19, 2020

Dropping Out Of What She Was Never In


I am considering calling Commissioner Adam Silver of the National Basketball Association and advising him that I no longer want to be considered for the next NBA draft.

I'm too short to play professional basketball, maybe even as a point guard. And I run as fast as an average white man of 55 years of age, which is a little beneath my chronological age; but still. My jump shot never was very good. Nonetheless, I expect to be lauded because I stepped aside for the "many incredibly talented" young men whom teams could select.

If that seems a little silly- and it is- consider that, as Politico notes

Sen. Amy Klobuchar late Thursday said she personally called Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden to advise he pick a woman of color as his running mate, effectively announcing the end of her vice presidential aspirations.

"I truly believe, as I actually told the vice president last night when I called him, that I think this is a moment to put a woman of color on that ticket," the Minnesota Democrat told MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell. "And there is so many incredibly qualified women."





Prior to that call, Amy Klobuchar had as much chance of being selected as Joe Biden's running mate as did I- or that Klobuchar had of being the first selection in the NBA draft.

Moreover, the odds of Biden (who long ago had said it would be a woman) choosing a black woman is roughly the same as that the first pick in the next (presumably April) NBA draft will have spent some time in college- or in high school.

It was nearly that great four weeks ago, before the killing of George Floyd, a black man crudely slayed on the streets of Minneapolis by a white police officer,, sparking an unprecedented string of massive protests focused on racial bias in policing. Although someone progressive a heartbeat from the presidency would have served, and would serve, the country well, the first order of business is to defeat Donald Trump.

That priority was understood well before Klobuchar made her empty gesture, and it was understood by most experts that the greatest electoral benefit in a running mate would be in someone black, whatever her ideology.

Once Floyd was killed and widespread support for the protests became evident, selection of someone black became imperative. Whatever Klobuchar's chances- and they were somewhere between zero and one percent- they slid to zero because, as the Politico writers understand

as protests over police brutality against African Americans erupted across the country following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, the traditional running mate calculus was altered. Klobuchar's credentials as a former prosecutor with a tough-on-crime record didn't sit well as her home state became a locus among protests and calls for structural change in law enforcement.

 Two other potential Biden picks, California Sen. Kamala Harris and Florida Rep. Val Demings, also have law enforcement backgrounds. However, both are black women, have more support among African-American leaders and have been more comfortable discussing issues of race, inequality and police brutality.

There are two relevant points there: 1) Klobuchar was a prosecutor and this is a point in time, perhaps unprecedented in American history, that such a qualification diminishes, rather than enhances, appeal; 2) other v.p candidates "have been more comfortable discussing issues of race, inequality, and police brutality."

That probably is not because of Harris/Demings/Klobuchar. The views expressed on this issue (issues?) have been nearly identical across the Democratic Party, whatever the ethnicity of the individual. Yet, as we all have witnessed in the media recently, blacks simply have been more comfortable discussing these issues than have whites.

Whatever the reason(s), that is an inescapable observation.  Oh, and there is this: if it weren't for African-American voters, Joe Biden would be back in his mansion in Wilmington, Delaware wondering how he could have entered three Democratic presidential races in his long political career and won zero(0) primaries or caucuses.

"Payback is a bitch," many people have said. In this case, payback is no bitch- but vital, and inevitable, whatever Amy Klobuchar wants us to believe..



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Thursday, June 18, 2020

A Different Kind Of Leadership


Shortly after the protests over the killing by police in Minneapolis of George Floyd, syndicated columnist Paul Waldman remarked

We have now seen Trump tested twice in rapid succession, called upon to provide leadership that goes beyond the practical management of the federal government or the selection of policies that turn out to be wise. That leadership is spiritual and emotional, the kind that gives Americans hope that we can solve our problems and emerge from our current nightmare. And his failure worsens by the day.

Leadership, however, can take more than one form. It can mean leadership of a nation which, as Waldman outlines, the President has spectacularly failed at. Or it can mean leadership of a faction of the American people, of which Trump has been far more successful:
Are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives. A lesser leader might say "are inconsistent with strict constructionist principles" or "are at odds with the values of the American people."  He would be wrong, of course, nor would it be exercising leadership.

Instead, the President has chosen to encourage supporters, or would-be supporters, of his, such as the armed, right-wing Boogaloog Bois. He already has witnessed the impact of other armed, right-wing men in state capitols in Columbus, Lansing, and Albany, NY.





And now, he warns about losing an Amendment that nearly can't berevoked. We've been down this road before, with calls to "liberate Virginia," "liberate Michigan," and "liberate Minnestota." So encouraging an armed rebellion against the federal government or the Supreme Court is just another effort to provoke the individuals or groups who will be ready after the election, winor lose, to take up arms against their fellow Americans.



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Self-Deception

A happy thought about Independence Day from one guy on Twitter: Today is a beautiful day to honor the ideals that our country wa...