The alt-right was always one step away in the GOP

This past week, Hillary Clinton said THIS:

I don’t disagree with Secretary Clinton that Donald J. Trump receives credit for opening the door to the white supremacist/ alt-right movement (or the “so-called alt-right”, to quote Andrea Mitchell… so-called? How about self-identified????).  I would contend two additonal points.  First, the door was partially opened, when Trump got there. That’s how he made his way in.  Second, Trump’s additional “crime” is in taking the door off of its hinges and posting the “welcome” sign for supremacists when he was done.  The #GOP unlocked that dWelcome Signoor long ago, making room for Trump,  when it first nominated Goldwater , who virulently  opposed the civil rights bill.  The party has been toying with Goldwater-esque politics at varying depths since then.  

In reality, the #GOP has always tolerated racism from its candidates, as long as racism was carefully coded, enough so to allow a plausible deniability of anything untoward taking place.  The sentiment had to be “warm” – accompanied by a smile,  none of the bile dripping, vein popping, raging racism of the pre-civil rights movement.  It had to have finesse, and be described as benevolently patriarchial “concern” for minority groups.  It had to be inconsistent enough to create a sense of cognitive conflict by having its actors behave in ways that seemed to run counter to the charge of racism.  It was ok to hire individual minorities.  It was not ok to ensure equal access of opportunity for ALL minorities.  

Below are some of the #GOP’s greatest hits.  If they need explanation, you should talk to some of your progressive friends more often:

Richard M. Nixon (whose tendency toward grievance counting and vindictiveness is  often viewed as having the most direct connection to Trump’s brand of modern Republicanism)

The Nixon legacy: 

“You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

John Erhlichmann to Dan Baum, 1994

You tell me, did it work?  It would be easy to believe that Erhlichmann made it all up.  How could the Nixon WH view minorities, African-Americans, in particular, as being the enemies of the Republican Party?  Many African-Americans were still registered members of the party, right?  He won an enviable 32 percent of the African-American vote despite his reported disregard for African-American people.  The problem for those who are in denial regarding Nixon’s racist disposition is that there are over 265 hours of audiotape from the Nixon White House,  which confirm his prejudices against African-Americans,  Jewish-Americans, and many others.

 If you follow this Miller Center link, and listen to more of the recordings, his comments about  minority groups will make your hair stand on end. 

Ronald  Reagan  (who opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968)

Source: Bill Moyers

Those comments are only shocking or confusing to those who supported Reagan.  To those who understood the real issues of poverty in minority communities, those comments were sad and unnecessarily divisive.  If this helps (current data, but consistent over time):

Income Spending Chart

Source:  NPR

Why is spending on food higher for low income people?  Impoverished and lower income people have household budgets, too, they aren’t buying steak and lobster.  They tend to live in communities, which rely on more “mom and pop” stores instead of major chains. Major chains have more buying power to pass lower costs on to consumers.  They offer fresher produce and more product choices. There is a huge grocery gap in our communities.   Low income individuals spend more money for food, but are able to buy less.  “Young Bucks” buying steak and lobster with food stamps while everyone else eats hamburger is more a figment of the racist and classist imagination than it is reality.

Consciously or unconsciously, Reagan’s supporters make a distinction that I refer to as the politicized Reagan vs. the projected Reagan.  Politicized Reagan is the person his non supporters see and judge based on the legislation he did (or did not support), and the rationales he gave – including the refusal to support sanctions against S. Africa. It is not always clear whether his choices were politically motivated or reflective of his true beliefs, but at some point it no longer matters.  He supported the frighening Goldwater,  fought civil rights legislation, was PUBLICLY unclear of whether he thought MLK, JR was a communist sympathizer, engaging in dog whistle politics despite the truth of the lives of minority people.  Of Dr. King, Reagan  wrote, to Gov. Meldrim Thomson (member of the John Birch society): “On the national holiday you mentioned, I have the reservations you have, but here the perception of too many people is based on an image, not reality. Indeed to them, the perception is reality. We hope some modifications might still take place in Congress.”

 The proejcted Reagan is the man I think his supporters, who were typically not impacted by his more unsavory beliefs and policies,  have chosen to believe in – despite all evidence to the contrary.  I see a  revisionist approach to the man, one which allows his supporters to view his  values as non-racist or non-harmful.  After all,  he was merely seeking to help minorities help themselves, wasn’t he?  They see him as someone who couldn’t have held racist sentiments because he occasionally said nice things about minorities  or displayed some act of contrition for a lousy thing he’d said or done.  I think it’s worth noting that Reagan’s most openly positive PERSONAL actions, regarding race, reported in the link above, occurred prior to his political transition.  As President, he spoke about overt acts of racism that he found troubling.  None of those feelings stopped him from promoting the false notions of welfare queens and young bucks buying steaks with food stamps.

10 Real Facts About Ronald Reagan That Republicans Never Choose to Admit

 

Jesse Helms (who attempted to filibuster the bill which created the MLK, Jr. Holiday)

“White people, wake up before it is too late. Do you want Negroes working beside you, your wife and your daughters, in your mills and factories? Frank Graham favors mingling of the races.” – Ad created by campaign strategist Helms and friends for the blatantly racist (and successful) U.S. Senate campaign of Willis Smith in 1950. During the same campaign, Helms described UNC as “the University of Negroes and Communists.”  Creative Loafing 

The Helms Center denies any involvement, officially or unofficially, in the Smith campaign.  Then there is this:

Helms gained a political following in the 1960s as a commentator on Raleigh’s WRAL-TV and the Tobacco Radio Network with his denunciations of the civil rights movement, liberalism and communism.  As a senator, he explained that he voted against Roberta Achtenberg, President Clinton’s nominee for a Housing and Urban Development position, “because she’s a damn lesbian.”

“Let it GO! “, you say.  Everyone was racist, sexist, and homophobic in the 1950s and 60s, you say.  Well, that’s WRONG, I respond. Not everyone was racist, sexist, and homophobic.  That’s one of the reasons there was support for the Civil Rights bill and cross cultural participation in the movement.  Jesse Helms did not give up his beliefs after the Civil Rights movement (which he opposed). 

Same source:

When Helms encountered protesters during a visit to Mexico in 1986, he remarked: “All Latins are volatile people. Hence, I was not surprised at the volatile reaction.”

Let’s not forget his reported comments to Orin Hatch about Carol Moseley-Braun (D), the first elected  African-American female U.S. Senate, serving from 1993 to 1999:  “Watch me make her cry. I’m going to make her cry. I’m going to sing ‘Dixie’ until she cries.”  The Helms Center,  of course, reports the interaction as much more  friendly. It adds that she heard his comments to Hatch and told him that his singing would make her cry if he sang “Rock of Ages”.  Awwww, see, racism can be warm and friendly too, depending on which side of that interaction you’re standing.  No need to realize that CMB managed to defuse an awful situation with humor…. just so those associated with the Helms Center know, slaves did not sing in the fields out of joy.

Strom Thurmond (who left the Democratic Party because of its support for 1964 Civil Rights Act)

His most famous quote – the unsanitized version?

“I wanna tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there’s not enough troops in the army to force the southern people to break down segregation and admit the nigger race into our theatres into our swimming pools into our homes and into our churches.” 1948

The quote is reported with either “Nigger” or “Nigra” being used.  Which matters more? Neither.  What matters more is that by the time he uttered those words, Thurmond was the father of a 23 year old African- American woman named Essie Mae Washington-Williams.  He’d kept her hidden from the public.  Thurmond fathered her when he was 22 years old and Ms. Washington-Williams’ mother, Carrie Butler, was 16 years old and a maid working  in the Thurmond household.

When his daughter was 32 years old,  the then-Democrat, Thurmond had successfully filibustered the 1957 Civil Rights Act by speaking for more than 24 hours.  Would it surprise you to know that he supported Barry Goldwater in 1964?  No?  It shouldn’t. He did.  He also worked aggressively for Richard M. Nixon in 1968. 

Slate outlines the reasons why Thurmond’s later actions should not be treated as a repudiation of his earlier beliefs.  For me, the fact that he died, never acknowledging his daughter is sufficient.  She set the historical record straight, on her own, six months after her father’s death.

Steve King

For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert. Those people would be legalized with the same act.” July 2013, referring to Dreamers.

Calves the size of cantaloupes?  75 pound bags?  Ok, Whatever, Steve King.

(While in Cleveland, Ohio,  July 2016):  “This whole ‘white people’ business, though, does get a little tired, Charlie. I mean, I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about? Where did any other sub-group of people contribute to civilization?”

I’m sure if he’d just asked anyone who studied African-American history, or anyone who knew anything about that city, that they would have told him about Kentucky born Garrett Morgan, who made Cleveland, Ohio his home: Inventor of the first safety hood, one of the first stop lights, and a host of other inventions.  King’s race baiting comments are too numerous to name.

Paul LePage

Everything you need to know about this guy is summed up in the following statement: 

In addition to the GOP’s stand out all stars, above, there are the assorted bunch of racially insensitive characters (elected at all levels of government) whose actions mirror the above, to varying degrees.  I do not believe that all of the above are equal in terms of the depth of vulgarity of their approaches to race and racism.  I do believe they are tied to an ideology that binds them to the Republican party.  As stated earlier, Trump didn’t open the door to the alt-right, he just took the door off the hinges so that they could move about freely.  It is up to GOP voters and supporters as to whether the door is closed, or if they leave it open and allow the alt-right to eventually burn the party down.  The constant denial of its troubles with race will mean that the door can never be properly secured to keep out the fringe. If the party doesn’t start to look deeply into its soul  and then take action, it will never again be the party of Lincoln, in the way that it has hoped to be.  Their refusal to take action after the 2012 autopsy tells us that.

Let’s hope that post-Trump,  things change for the better.

 

 

The Gift of Privilege – the Joe Scarborough/ Mainstream Media edition

VOTE imageAnyone who knows me knows that I had FINALLY come to my senses.  I stopped watching @MorningJoe and saved myself the frustration of waiting for his uber-partisan switch to be flipped.  Election years have been the worst.  Scarborough seems to pride himself on being equally critically of “both parties”. If ever I have the time, I will gladly present a counter to that belief.  It is not yelling at both parties that is the indication of fairness, it is the level of analysis and focus on the severity of the issues that count.  That Scarborough,  and most of his colleagues, still suffer from False Equivalency Syndrome (FES) goes without saying, but so many others have said it so well, for so long, why not include that wisdom?

What should also be said is that FES seems to prevent members of the media from examining their own, personal and professional, hiases that may hinder their ability to identify the real issues that divide voters.   Superficial analyses of cultural concerns and attitudes, based on false equivalencies, do more than annoy readers; they potentially turn over power to individuals who should not have it, distort history, and often place vulnerable communities at even greater risk.  More on that, later.

Admittedly,  I have been watching #MorningJoe at least twice a week over the last several weeks.  Why?  I was curious about how Scarborough and his colleagues would handle the revelation of #Trump’s character and the public’s increasing rejection of #Trumpism.  FINE!  I also watched to gloat because it was pretty clear to many viewers, very early on, that the #TrumpTrain would derail for the obvious reasons.  I was stunned to tune in and hear Scarborough chastizing the media for zeroing in on #Trump’s dark, weak, and overly dramatic (thoroughly inaccurate) portrayal of America as a nation on the decline.  His convention speech suggested a nation beseiged by race wars and hand-to-hand combat in the streets, an economy in stark decline, financial institutions  on the verge of collapse, and himself as the great savior.  If you are old enough to remember the term “Helter Skelter”, you are old enough to understand why Trump’s convention speech took on an air of madness for some of us.

U.S. FlagScarborough’s reported relationship with Trump has always been uncomfortable, for me as a (then consistent)  viewer. It made me uncomfortable enough to cause me to become an ex-viewer .  To tune in, again, and see that he seemed to still have hope that a deeply flawed candidate such as Trump might yet connect with the American public  was even more disturbing.  To whom would Trump’s words connect and what would that mean for the rest of us?   That apparent hope gave me the greatest clarity,  yet.

The problem with the media, not just Scarborough, is that they do not possess the sort of understanding of diverse groups that would, and should, have made them more skeptical of this candidate from the beginning.  A Trump win is not one that bodes well for nonwhite individuals, nor for those who are LGBTQA, nor for those who have disabilities, who are recent immigrants, nor would it be welcome news for women who value the progress society has made toward reaching equality.  African-American voters, in particular,  have been dismissed as voting on the basis of soaring rhetoric and simple affiliation.  Give us more credit than that.  We have long memories, and despite our varying levels of economic and educational successes (overlooked by the pro-Trump crowd), there are some experiences that are so common to so many of us, that we know bigotry when we see it.  We know danger when it is headed our way, even if it smiles and laughs, and calls us “friend”.  We have a shared history that tells us  to pay attention to actions, not just words.

Scarborough, along with cohost Mika Brzezinski, touted a personal history with Trump as the reason they saw him as a good man, a man whose success was easily explained.  Had they  missed Trump’s legal issues regarding housing discrimination?  Are they absolutely clueless that this sort of behavior extends far beyond not being able to move to a nicer apartment?  The exceptionally talented Bomani Jones wrote the following of Donald Sterling, but he may as well have written it about Donald J. Trump and every other person guilty of housing discrimination:

Discrimination in the housing market has been crippling to the attempts blacks and Latinos have made to empower themselves economically. The worst examples are in the sales market — there’s a wealth of urban economic evidence showing how the inability to buy homes has affected the black-white wealth gap — but such behavior in the rental market is just as damaging. Consider that, frequently, moving to a fancy neighborhood like Beverly Hills provides the best chance a family has at placing its children in decent schools, something we all can agree is pretty important.

People tend to think of the more annoying manifestations of racism, like how hard it can be for non-white people to get cabs in New York. But in the grand scheme, stuff like that is trivial. What Sterling is accused of is as real as penitentiary steel.

We KNOW that when this sort of discrimination occurs, some of our children are missing out on an opportunity to improve their educational outcomes.  Their parents will later be admonished for not working hard enough to improve their circumstances by moving them to better schools.  We KNOW that some children are left fighting their way through tougher neighborhoods.  Their parents will later be accused of not working hard enough to protect them and for accepting community violence.   We KNOW that some of us will lack access to jobs that are better paying because of the inability to move into the communities where those jobs exist.  They  will later be accused of not actively trying to improve their lot, but waiting for a handout from the government.   We KNOW that who you know often matters as much as what you know and some of us aren’t granted the same opportunities to estalblish and broaden helpful social networks for our children and families.  The Sterlings and Trumps of the world will rarely ever be accused of doing harm or damaging society because of their own personal and moral failings.  That accusation will be left for their victims.
More importantly, we know what it means when someone who is guilty of the above  behavior has to sign a pledge to not do it again.   Does most of the media understand it?  While the media is establishing a false equivalency between “unlikable” Hillary Clinton and “unlikable” Donald Trump, how many of them will dig deeper into the truth behind that data and what “unlikable” means in terms of outcomes for individuals and communities, in the long term?
 Were Scarborough and Brzezinski unaware that the candidate called for the execution of teenagers accused of raping and assaulting Central Park jogger, Trisha Meili?
Trump CP5 ad.jpg
The NYTimes covers this issue and a smear campaign in which St. Regis Mohawks were targeted by the candidate just over a decade, later.  They were targeted with ads which stated that, “The St. Regis Mohawk Indian record of criminal activity is well documented.”  I guess it worked so well in the CP5 case, why change the tactic?
We now know that the Central Park Five were innocent.  To be fair, it seemed clear to many, even then, that they were innocent.  Rather than apologize for his harsh treatment of five exonerated young men, the youngest of whom were 14 years old when accused, Trump continued to defend his belief in their guilt:
Trump CP5 response
Alternet.org discusses more of the candidate’s anti-black bigotry
This isn’t just about #Trump getting it wrong. This isn’t about major pitfalls in a campaign run by a novice too green to pivot, too inexperienced to be politically correct.   This is about a candidate’s  longstanding pattern of presenting negative and false images of people of color, a history denied by pro-trump supporters and largely ignored by the media, even after his false comments about undocumented Mexican Immigrants.
Those comments were treated as being indicative of a “new Trump”, one  willing to say anything to win an election.  Thankfully,  FES does not influence the reporting of all issues at all times and there has been some (limited) coverage of racially charged campaign comments that are consistent with his pre-campaign history.  Rather than worrying about appearing “fair” in the eyes of Trump supporters, what about being fair to diverse communities and covering our concerns as lived  history, not simply concerns of party affiliation?  Why not confront Trump and his SPOX more often with serious questions about his behaviors and asking whether they have evidence of a real change, significant enough to erase his sordid past?
It should also be noted that his actions in the Central Park Five case are deeper than “getting it wrong”.  It reminds many of us in the African- and Latino-American communities of how infrequently the media challenges indiviuals of privilege on similar actions and comments.  Does Mr. Trump know how many people of color have been falsely accused and convicted of crimes, often based on evidence that wouldn’t be sufficiently used to expel a child from school?  Is he aware of how perception can impact conviction rates and carry more weight than evidence?  Does he care how his actions have contributed to the pain of many families of color who have suffered as they have watched beloved children and family, those they know are innocent,  be convicted  and sentenced to life in prison, or even receive the death penalty?  The Innocence Project provides more data.
Whether or not they are apologists, listening to @JoeNBC and Mika this past week, felt like listening to  every privileged apologist for racists & racism I have ever met.  They refuse to believe that despite THE RECORD, it is more likely the case that they either wore blinders in Trump’s presence, did not fully understand racism when they saw it,  or that they were protected from his behavior because they were not the targets of his beliefs. Any of the above is more likely than the likelihood that racism (or any of the other -isms) the candidate displays is the result of a change in situation.Any of the above is more likely than a recent change in nature (especially  in the nature of a man who brags that he hasn’t changed since he was 8 years old).  I was fortunate enough to watch when frequent guest,  Donny Deutsch, participated.  Deutsch was exactly right in asking how well anyone actually knows Trump as he listened to the denials that the man was a racist and that his beahvior was an act.  He wisely asked how many people sitting around the table could say the things Trump said if they didn’t believe them.  Sadly, Joe Scarborough  stopped him  from allowing that meaningful dialogue to take place.
 I have also felt equally betrayed by the members of the media who praised Trump for staying on message while reading from a teleprompter, as he challenged  African-Americans on what we had to lose by voting for him.  They did so without considering the weight of his racist message on African-Americans.  Rather than praise Trump’s ability to stay on message, where was the outrage that he treated all African-Americans as a monolithic group, all of whom must be impoverished, all of whom are sending children to “failing schools”, all of  whom are unemployed, etc
What do we have to lose?  Let me count the ways!  I doubt that a man whose campaign is a study in transitioning a major political party to a racial Nationalist party has the right to ask that question.  Just as many voters were taken in by the legend of a “man of the people” who just happens to be a successful billionaire businessman, far too many members of the media may have been taken in as well.  The media is failiing those of us most at risk under a potential President Trump.  Most of the media won’t have to experience the same risks, and will have the luxury of continuing to nurture its FES while failing to question #Trumpism and its implications.
Below are just a few examples of the questions the media might, broadly,  ask differently without FES:
1. Without @Potus saving the auto industry and passing the economic stimulus over Republican’s objections, what would the likely rate of unemployment and rate of economic growth be at this time?
Follow up: Which Republican plan would have led to a faster economic recovery?  WAS there a Republican plan for economic recovery?
2nd Follow up:  Are there comparative business practices on the #Trump side that would tell the public how he would have handled an economic crises differently?
2.  Rs complain that the economy hasn’t grown fast enough. Do they have examples of faster rates of growth under a Republican President or under Republican congressional control, given an economy as broken as the one Obama inherited?
3.  How can a Presidential candidate whose history with communities of color is so antagonistic be expected to serve those communities, now?
4.  #Trump has had a direct hand and denying access to opportunity for families of color through his rental policies.  Several former Apprentice stars are concerned about his racially tinged comments and behaviors as well as their concerns earned while working with him, including Randal Pinkett, Kwame Jackson, Tara Dowdell, Marshawn Evans Daniels, and James Sun and  Kevin Allen, .  He currently counts as part of his inner circle  individuals with connection to the white supremacists movement, including Steve Bannon.
What concrete evidence can Trump provide that makes apparent his committment to diversity, immigration, sex and gender diversity, disability status, and other groups?
5.  Will Trump commit to never hiring a nationalist or a person who is anti-LGBTQA in his administration, if elected?  If weeding out bias is good enough for his “Extreme Vetting” process, it should be good enough for his cabinet.
6.  What are the assurances he will give to all Muslim-Americans that he will make sure that they are protected under the constitution and are free from harm?     How will he ensure their safety after the rhetoric of the campaign season?
7.  Trump claims to have never mocked a person with a disability (collective eyeroll, friends).  Has he ever given thought to the disability community, laws affecting the daily existence of Americans with disaibilities?  What changes would he make to current ADA and other laws that would protect persons with disabilities?  What legislation would he work to have introducted to congress?
8. To whom does Trump believe he owes and apology?  #POTUS for the birther attacks and demands to see all of the President’s documentation, including college transcripts?  The above cultural groups?  The Central Park Five?  The St. Regis Mohawk?  The Khans , all Gold Star families and all individuals currently serving in the military or who have ever served?  If they are not all on his list, why not?

How Marco Rubio may have saved the Republican party

I scarcely see how any of the @GOP’s top 3 contenders has a shot at beating Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders this coming fall.  What I do believe is that Marco Rubio, whose campaign is all but finished, has most likely saved the Republican party from assured self-inflicted destruction this coming election cycle.  He hasn’t done it by demeaning the legacy of former President Jimmy Carter, a man whose personal and professional accomplishments CAN be named, unlike Rubio’s light/nonexistent accomplishments.

Rubio hasn’t saved his party by finally figuring out the cause of global climate change (he’s not a scientist, after all).  He has potentially saved his party, and Cruz’s political career, by exposing what appears to be Donald Trump’s biggest weakest.  Thin skin.  That is a trait that should make anyone ineligible to hold the nation’s highest office.

Say what you will about President Obama, but what you can’t say is that he ever let criticism stop him from focusing on his job while in office.  President Obama inherited an economy considered so frightfully in peril that then-candidate John McCain took the unprecedented move of suspending his Presidential campaign to “deal with the crisis”.  President Obama  is now presiding over an economy that:

Our President has continued to help push the nation forward in all areas of American life, despite dealing with an obstructionist congress that refuses to compromise and then blames him for not working with them. He has continued the push forward despite the scurrilous vicious attacks on his parents, wife, children, and extended family.  He has done so despite the vicious and cruel taunts, attacks, and repeated violations into the physical space that he and his family now call home.  THAT is the temperament we need in our national leader.

Has Donald J. Trump yet given a speech in which he hasn’t defended both his hand size and the size of his penis since the comment was made on Feb. 27th?  Trump’s focus on  Rubio’s comment was so intense that he marred the history of  presidential debates to respond to it.  An open defense of your member during a Presidential debate is not exactly the kind of “first” you want to be known for.  Rubio has called the man a con artist and implied that the issues with Trump University are so severe that Trump might even have engaged in criminal activity.  What gains traction to the point of distraction with Trump?  The hand size comment.  During a March 5th speech in West Palm Beach at Trump International, he faulted “someone else” for bringing up the comments about his hands, leading him to address the issue during the debate. (Personal Responsibility?)  To be clear, the comment was raised to put Rubio on the defensive for engaging in personal attacks after promising that he wouldn’t.  Trump was not asked to respond to it.  How much more presidential would Trump have looked had he not addressed the comment at all, but let Rubio twist over a broken promise?

Trump’s focus on Rubio’s comments is so intense that he even involved the golf champions at Trump International in a discussion about his “hands”.  He asks, “Do I hit the ball good?”, “Do I hit it long?”, “Is Trump Strong?”. (22:07)   Again, I doubt that most voters will see that as a presidential move.

 

Rubio seems to have thrown Trump off of his game plan (whatever that plan was).  At what point will we stop hearing about his member and more about the plans that will make a difference in the lives of the American people?  If you are looking for work, or worried about your mortgage, do you care about the size of Tump’s penis?  Can you imagine what would happen if Trump was in negotiations with international leaders who threw him off his game by commenting on his hand size?   How would he ever survive? Trump’s  ego and temperament have been called into question for some time.  In a comment that ran for less than 1 minute, Rubio has been able to show the American public yet another side to Trump, and caused Trump to spend approximately a week defending something that does not require a defense.  Will this win Trump voters in the general election? I doubt it.  Given Cruz’s comeback Saturday, Trump’s tactics may not play well in the GOP primary, either, moving forward.

Since the comments have been repeatedly uttered, blamed on others for raising the point, and uttered, again,  we learn that Trump has lost ground with later voting Republicans – while winning the early vote.  We have also learned that Kasich has pulled ahead of Trump in Michigan.  Will Rubio, win or lose, be heralded as true hero of the GOP this election cycle?  If so, he  finally has an accomplishment he and his supporters can talk about!  Is this the beginning of the end for Trump ?  Admittedly, Trump wasn’t supposed to make it this far, so only time will tell.

The Walking Dead – Recap: Season 6, Episode 11

Untying the Knot?

Wow! Months later and Abe, who was sweating Sasha for a chance to get to know her, is now sweating the sheets with Rosita. The bedroom scene comes just after we see Abe and Sasha coming back from patrol together.  Did the two of them have a change of heart about getting together? The looks they’re giving each other say there is still something between them.. 

… Read the full recap, here at:  AllAboutTheTea  Don’t forget to check out the latest AATT news on your favorite celebs and recaps of your favorite reality shows!

Married At First Sight: Rescue Needed

david-ashley-married-at-first-sight-2

I am convinced that poor David Norton () was sorely in need of rescuing during the entire six weeks of what I, from my viewer’s perspective, can only describe as a tragic marriage.  I don’t care what happens in next two weeks.  He has received such shabby treatment in the first four weeks that they should be counted as serving double time in marital hell.  This past episode has me wondering how often the “experts” review the footage of the daily interactions of the newlyweds. If they aren’t reviewing the footage on a daily basis, who alerts them when red flags are raised?  More importantly, what are their guidelines for intervening in relationships? I realize that it wouldn’t make sense for the experts to be present every day, but unless the editing has us all fooled and David Norton became a monster when the cameras stopped rolling, he deserved better. Had he made such an awful a choice of a partner on his own, it would be easier to watch. His hot mess of a marriage was inflicted on him because he trusted in experts whose matchmaking skills deserve serious questioning.  FYI Network (@FYI) has invested a great deal of money, time, and energy in recasting #MAFS season after season.  Is it time for the network to put those resources to use in recasting the experts?

david-ashley-married-at-first-sight-4Norton is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t.  If he tries to spend time with Ashley, he is forcing her to interact and she is not ready. She needs space. If he leaves her side, even during a party they are hosting at their home, he is abandoning her. The guy was watching the grill and entertaining their guests.  Why didn’t Ashley go stand next to him, talk to him, interact with him? Their relationship feels emotionally abusive and it is painful to watch.  David’s days are spent trying to make Ashley 100% happy, without being given the slightest idea of what herculean task he would have to perform to make that happen.  Last week we learned that Ashley couldn’t think of three things she liked about David, despite his ability to quickly provide a list of what he thought her best qualities were.  He forgot to add that it is really neat the way she is able to blink, walk, and talk while barely registering a pulse!  (Cheap shot, I know.) She couldn’t find one nice thing to say, in return. She wanted to go and “think about it”. Hell, I spend less than a hour per week with the guy, and as a viewer even I can find three things I like about David (great sense of humor, kind, patient).  What sucks most is watching him take full responsibility for Ashley’s unhappiness and unwillingness to get beyond her lack of physical attraction to him.

At this point, I hope it IS true that David has asked another woman out for drinks.  He has
been treated as a pariah in his own home for at least a month by the airing of the last episode.  Under most circumstances I would stand by the adage that “it takes two”.  In terms of making a marriage work?  tres-vanessa-married-at-first-sight-2Yes.  In terms of working to make sure a marriage falls apart? No.  Ashley is doing a great job sabotaging the marriage, all on her own.

At least the other two couples are bringing something good to the table.  They almost redeem the experts – if you ignore the rest of the experts serious misjudgments in prior seasons.

Vanessa Nelson () and Tres Russell () are still as cute as buttons and I like watching their struggle even when it gets bone tough.  Tres’ concern about abandonment when Vanessa went “home” to spend the night away from him was telling.  It was also heartbreaking.  How quickly the childhood pain of his mother leaving him came back (or never fully went away and is always sitting at the surface). I think it is fair to say that Vanessa had not yet made the leap of thinking of them as a committed couple since her apartment was “home”, not the space she shared with her husband. So…shouldn’t she should have made room for Tres’ occasional uneasiness?  P.S. His distancing comments in response to his friend’s observation that he and Vanessa seemed to be in love were boneheaded… THINK IT, man, don’t talk about your uneasiness in a room full of invited guests.  She is your wife, not a live-in hook up.

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Samantha Role () and Neil Bowlus ()  are a sweet surprise for me.  She has become softer and is now open to seeing the good in him. I think Neil is amazing, based on what we’ve seen of him so far.  He is becoming more assertive in saying what needs to be said.  It feels as if Neil is beginning to see Sam as a person, instead of simply as “his wife”. As recently as last week,  I wanted poor Neil to run and never look back.  Now I am wondering what a loving relationship between these two would look like.  I am looking forward to watching their journey unfold. On the shallow end, who didn’t love Neil’s response to seeing Sam work out on the silks?  I am sure some of his reaction was sheer awe that Sam, who is typically serious and businesslike, has an artistic side.  I also can’t help but believe that if Neil was attracted to Sam before, he was after that day.

David and Ashley leave me hoping this show is cast by actors, while Vanessa and Tres, as well as Samantha and Neil. have me hoping just the opposite.

If Ted Cruz won Iowa, did Sarah Palin lose?

I am still trying understand what the value of Sister Sarah’s endorsement was, other than to provide Saturday Night Live with another winning political season.  SNL once again capitalized on the questionable phenomenon that is Sarah Palin by lampooning her bizarre and rambling endorsement. as seen in the video posted below.  (I would advise you to skip the actual endorsement in the first video and enjoy the pure comedic gold of the second video):

Palin endorsed Trump, prior to the Iowa Caucus,  without hesitation, she claims in an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie.  Despite her long held ties to Ted Cruz (Iowa 2016), despite the support she gave Cruz in his bid for national office during his Senate run, and her belief that he is a “true conservative”, Palin tells the Today Show hosts the following about Cruz: “I want to keep him in the Senate, and I want Donald Trump to be our president.” Why not?  Cruz has routinely distracted the Senate from the work that needed to be done in favor of throwing rotted red meat at those for whom his circus act plays well.

 

His ideological, highly unrealistic, approach to governing has not served the nation, nor his party, well in my opinion.  His legislative record is paltry, at best.  His most significant accomplishments in congress may be his ability to help shut down the government and to keep media attention on himself as he makes promises to his base that he is improbably going to be able to deliver.

Given the serious miscalculation of the value of Palin’s endorsement, and her inability to swing conservative voters into Trump’s camp in meaningful numbers,  this will hopefully be the end of the courtship of Palin by Republican pols. Trump, himself, now looks more like “Palin the Failed Promise” than “Donald the Future Leader”.  It now feels as if they  share the same penchant for saying anything, showing zero competence in discussing ANY issue,  ability to gloss over the reality of voter mood, and an ability to spew meaningless rhetoric.  We’eve been down that road, and ONE the individual who helped take us there in 2008 just endorsed Trump and probably cost him Iowa and the party’s nomination.

Ultimately, the greatest irony is that post Iowa, both Cruz and Trump are beginning to be viewed as placeholders for Marco Rubio.  No matter the outcome on the Republican side, this should be an interesting election season and one that should make Hillary Clinton feel optimistic about the election this coming fall.  Months, money, and motivation… down the drain, because in the end both Trump and Cruz will be stumping for a weak Rubio.

In any case, this all feels like a WIN for Hillary Clinton:

Trump is too much of a reminder of the obnoxious boss many people can’t wait to get away from.  He reminds you of the boss who sorely underpays you and then shows you the pictures of the expensive remodel on his grand new home.  Despite his recent run away from his comments that “wages are too high”, that comment will live with him.  Note that American hourly wages are too high.  I don’t recall any statement where Trump questioned the wages of the workers at the top.

Cruz is too much like that odd neighbor whose odd behavior leaves you feeling uncomfortable for reasons you can’t explain. You know enough to not to do business with him or leave him alone with your valuables.

Rubio?  Sigh. Poor Rubio.

 

RHOA / RHOP The struggles over race are real!

AshleyandHusbandThe Real Housewives of Potomac is beginning to feel more like equal parts serious business and guilty pleasure.  It is quickly becoming a Rorschach test on race and racism in America, while sneakily exploring the complexities of perceived race in the African-American community.  The more Real Housewives of Potomac (#RHOP) airs, the more I love the show and its contrast with the Real Housewives of Atlanta. I am still a proponent who believes there is more than enough room for both.  At this time, I am simply more fascinated with the Potomac crew.  Fans have commented on the ” color struck” nature of the Potomac wives.  The point is well taken with the introduction of Ashley Darby (@_AshleyDarby) and Katie Rost’s (@KatieRost) immediate questioning of the race of Darby’s husband and whether Darby, herself, was biracial.

I have been to my fair share of social events, with friends and with strangers.  I have never heard a single soul ask about the race of another person’s spouse or significant other at an event.  I couldn’t tell if the two women knew one another, if only by reputation, and this was Rost’s clumsy way of introducing the fans to another housewife with a White spouse/boyfriend.  Maybe the outburst was simply indicative of Rost’s standard way of introducing herself to others.  Color struck?  Maybe, but my question to you is: “How do the issues regarding race in the Potomac differ from the issues of race being raised by the #RHOA?”  The difference I see is that race is partially weaponized by the #RHOA while the #RHOP use race for the purposes of identification and asking the “big” and “small” questions.  Evidence?

The short list for #RHOA

  • Phaedra Parks refers to Apollo’s preference for canned vegetables as a product of growing up with a White mother.  She has made a couple of references to his childhood that are rather racially charged and inappropriate – at least her comments are ones that I think most individuals (not just viewers) would find inappropriate.
  • Phaedra also claims that Kenya Moore is so full of “—-” that it made her skin brown. (Uh, that is one damned low blow in any context).  Whatever you think of Kenya Moore (@KenyaMoore) please give her credit for her role in African-American history.  Kenya Moore’s participation in the Miss USA pageant was more more step forward in America’s realization that brown skin is beautiful.  Brown skin is NOT the color of “—-“.
  • Phaedra comparing the Glen Rice Jr. incident to tragic loss of innocent young lives (Michael Brown (age 18), Eric Garner (age 43), Treyvon Martin (age 17), Tamir Rice (age 12), and so many others).  To my shock and sadness, Kim Fields co-signed. Parks even invoked the name of #BlackLivesMatter (@Blklivesmatter), adding insult to injury by stating that Kenya Moore behaved like some “old white lady in the suburbs” who, because of racism, was needlessly afraid of black men.  I watched the after-altercation video posted by Kandi Burruss Tucker as a counter to Parks claims.  They were all hiding in a bedroom, the night of the incident.  No one ran to embrace Rice or his “Aunt Tammy” when they returned to the house that evening.  Suburban hysteria? Nah.
  • Nene Leakes referred to Claudia Jordan as a “half breed” last season.  I don’t think anyone needs help understanding why this one was 100% rude and cruel.
  • Nene Leakes accused Kim Zolciak of treating Sweetie like a “slave” and not respecting black women.  For my money, Kim treats everyone who works for her like a slave. I  don’t see a problem with race, in that regard.  I think the attack was used to stoke the flames more than register a serious complaint about the treatment of  women of color.  Did Nene somehow miss Kim’s treatment of Sweetie when they were great pals?  It didn’t seem to bother her, then.  It only became a weapon when she seemed to grow tired of Kim’s friendship (or became jealous of Kim’s unlikely/undeserved chart topping success).
  • Phaedra’s focus on race as a social issue (onscreen) happened only recently, to my memory, after Apollo Nida’s conviction.  Referring to brown skin as the color of human waste is, in my book, inconsistent with a genuine concern for equality.

#RHOP’s approach

RHOP_Photo ShootI am not always happy with the approach taken by the #RHOP when talking about race but I appreciate the fact that the discussion is deeper than assuming  it is acceptable to treat race as an insult.  I have already challenged my own ideas about race (and religion) watching this show.  Unlike Gizelle Bryant (@GizelleBryantand Robyn Dixon (@robynbdixon), I don’t have a problem with Katie Rost’s identification as a Jewish woman.  Her choice to practice Judaism is not, and should not be, about how many other people of color choose Judaism.  Her choice is about her relationship with God and it is personal.  I don’t mind the fact that Katie’s knowledge of African Americans who  have practiced Judaism is so limited.  Here is some light reading regarding African-American Jews/Judaism:

10 Celebrities you didn’t know were Jewish

15 Celebs who are Black and Jewish

BlackJews.Org

African-American Converts Finally Recognized as Jews in Israel

Black Synagogue Takes a Big Step Forward

Chicago rabbi set to become chief of black Jews group

I don’t find the fact that Rost doesn’t speak Hebrew to be particularly disconcerting nor the fact that she attends Temple only on the high holy days.  CEO Christians (Christmas and Easter Only) get that.  I have Jewish friends who are not people of color and are no different from Rost.  My problem with Katie is that her biracial and Jewish identities seem to come from a place of rejecting the notion that she has African/African-American heritage, as well, instead of a fully inclusive embrace of her diverse identity.   I suspect that Dixon and Bryant have the same concerns. Rost has seemingly found every way possible to reject African-American identity and anything associated with it:  she loves the White boys and the Jewish boys, she is biracial – without references to her African-American heritage.  I don’t want Rost to be any less of the things she loves and values.  I just want to see evidence that she values all of the pieces that make her who she is, not that she owes that to me.  I even question myself in regard to why it matters to me that she embrace her African-American heritage.  Do I, or does anyone else, have the right to tell her that being African-American helped shape her character?  Do we have the right to tell her that her children should be asked to embrace their African-American heritage as well?  I am landing on the side of the fence that says that she should want that, but I don’t believe it is my decision, as a viewer, to make.  My only hope is that if she chooses to ignore her African-American heritage, it is not another “#RHOA brown skin moment”.  African-American heritage is not inferior or ugly.  It is complementary.

Charisse KarenAdmittedly, Rost is not the only person I question.  I view Charrisse Jackson-Jordan and Karen Huger’s pretense that they understand and fit in to “high society”, instead of being hoi polloi , as an unconscious defense against stereotypes linked to African-American identity.  If they feel like the genuine article, to you, I apologize, but nothing rings true about them, for me.  The pretense, as I see it, reads like a barrier against the racist charges of being “nothing more than a poor girl raised on a farm” or a “section 8 recipient”, stereotypes which confuse issues of race with issues of socioeconomic status.  Neither of those descriptors deserve to be treated as badges of shame.  Ashley Darby understands that and it makes me admire how much she embraces her past – a past which shaped her and motivated her into becoming the person she has become.  She is definitely hoi polloi (as I proudly am) and she is worth a dozen of the self-proclaimed high society mavens.  Far from inoculating them, the pretense of Jackson-Jordan and Huger makes me wonder all the more about their pasts and what they appear to be running from.  Poverty is not race.  It is not shameful.  It is not to be mocked and maligned.  It saddens me when those who are directly or indirectly impacted by those stereotypes use them to attack others and to establish self-serving hierarchies.

Oddly enough, while I disagree with the exception they  Dixon and Bryant take to Rost’s self-identification as a Jewish woman,  they are the only two wives, so far, whose voices about African-American people, and especially African-American women, feel and sound authentic.  It will be heartbreaking, enlightening, and enriching when the epic fight about racial identification with Rost takes place.  Rather than shut their voices down as belonging to silly women, stuck on color and fighting dumb fights on a reality show, I hope the scenes end up challenging us to talk about race in a meaningful way.  I hope the show challenges us to think about culture, cultural appropriation, self-identification, and the true beauty and diversity of the African-American community.  We are Lauren London, Craig David, Lisa Bonet,  Amar’e Stoudemire, Sammy Davis Jr., Nell Carter, Jackie Wilson, and Drake (African American and Jewish).  We are Ne Yo, Tyson Beckford, Denyce Lawton, Kelis, LeShonte Heckard and  William Demps (African-American and Asian).  We are Laz Alonso, Judy Reyes, Tatiana Ali, Gina Torres, Kid Cudi, Maxwell, Zoe Saldana, and Victor Cruz  (African-American and Latino).

We. Are.

I appreciate the fact that #RHOP is pushing the envelope of understanding with regard to race and identity. I plan to keep watching, keep thinking about my own views, and continue questioning.  I will see you around if you plan to do the same.

Catch my review of the second episode of The Real Housewives of Potomac at All About the Tea.