Some will remember 2016 as the year a reality show host was elected to the nation’s highest office. I will remember 2016 as the year the U.S. media trivialized dissent and trivialized the concerns of Donald Trump’s most vocal critics. Some media personalities did so directly, others passively, while many more were bystanders. “Democrats are alarmists”, “Our Democracy is safe, we have structures in place to protect it.”, “Dems have Clinton, on one hand, and the pretense of an impending doomsday, on the other”, “The Democrats are hysterical”.
I can hear the Trump-warnings as clear as a ringing bell. Democrats from the grassroots to the Presidential level warned about the danger Donald Trump posed, and not just to the American Presidency, but to the nation, as a whole. He was on a two-year media tour with zero plans to govern the nation, while the media found Hillary Clinton “too-prepared” and “too-rehearsed”. It was clear that Trump didn’t know the difference between the U.S. Constitution and a poorly written “Celebrity Apprentice” script. Hillary Clinton was “too wonky”, by comparison. Despite the numerous run-ins with the law at federal, state, and local levels, and a smug disdain for authority – other than those who sided with him politically, Trump’s legal issues were largely ignored. Clinton was always “allegedly-guilty” in the eyes of the media and some voters. Proof of guilt was never necessary.
Trump’s harshest critics were women, and African-Americans. While 42% of women supported him, only 8& of African-Americans did. Why? As a woman of color, I can tell you why I believe most of us never bought into the argument that our structures (courts, judges, law enforcement, and ultimately the voters) would hold Trump accountable.
As people of color, here is what we know from firsthand contact and generations of survival weariness: the structures that so many in the, primarily, white (male) media thought would constrain a uniquely unqualified white (male) candidate are neither tangible nor rigidly applied. They are structures that work when the people who apply them do their jobs – without bias. The experiences of African-Americans in the U.S. have led us to understand how fragile those systems are. We knew what it meant that Trump stirred deep racial animus among his supporters. We knew what it meant to hear crowds chanting about their passion to possess the American dream, for themselves, and to dispossess others of that dream. There was no way those structures were going to hold for long (see the Muslim travel ban). We also knew that the man who would be granted the power to push the boundaries of those structures would do so gladly, and most likely succeed.
African-Americans have seen this particular shit-show up close and personal, many times before. We know it does not end well not matter what anyone tells you. We watched post-civil war Reconstruction become secondary slavery and lynching. Our 40 acres and a mule became sharecropping and convict leasing. The right to vote became the poll tax and grandfather clauses. Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice replaced Emmett Till. Recy Taylor, “4 Little Black Girls (Addie Mae Collins [age 14], Carol Denise McNair [age 11], Carole Robertson [age 14], and Cynthia Wesley [age 14] become Sandra Bland, Gynnya McMillen, Cyntoia Brown, and countless others. Redlining, the unholy banking and real estate alliance that deprived generations of African- and Latino-American families of a home surrounded by a white-picket fence in tree-lined suburbs, became affordable (segregated) housing- turned untended housing projects and untended rental property. Outlawed redlining became modern-day redlining. How many examples do you need? I have more.
Almost every major stumbling block dropped into the lives of people of color took place IN SPITE OF the structures of society that were designed to ensure equality and fairness. In many cases, those structures aided and abetted the destruction of minority lives, placing blocks at the local, state, and federal levels. Individuals, like Martin Luther King, Jr, and the contemporary Black Lives Matter heroes, end up on watchlists and are described as potential threats to our freedoms and/or safety. They are placed alongside the names of spies who sell out the nation’s interests to hostile, and friendly, foreign governments. Those structures, at times, treat the people who fight for a fairer America with the same disdain as those who would do her harm – especially when the fight centers on racial equality.
The very fact that media sources and politicians play the game, “What if Barack Obama did that?” shows the tacit acknowledgement that #44, by virtue of his race and the bigotry of those who were determined to see him fail, could never have gotten away with behavior for which Trump has been given a pass. Trump’s behaviors range from sheer incompetence to potentially traitorous. The same “structures” that demanded perfection of Obama, and still rejected his best efforts, are the very structures that demand almost nothing of value from Trump. Why? Those structures are ideas, accepted and put into practice by people, who have to hold to those values despite personal beliefs and biases.
So you see the problem here? If the answer is yes, you know what African-Americans knew when we gave him only 8 percent of our vote (and by the way “8%”, you are not invited to my cookout – and you know what that means).
The bottom line is that, yes, we will survive Donald J. Trump, whether he is in prison by the end of his term, or simply voted out of office. The problem is that with any major tragedy, we run the risk of surviving but without being able to recover the delicately progressing nation we were before Trump came along. We run the risk that the privilege that afforded this grand opportunity to the most uniquely unqualified man, in history, will lead us all to pay for it, for the rest of our lives and part of the lives of our children and grandchildren.
The next time the primarily (white, male) media tells you to “calm down” or that you are being “hysterical”, vote like your lives and futures depend on it. They just might.
While awaiting the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, next week, the one thing to keep in mind is that if her story is deemed credible, Judge Kavanaugh’s fate should not be determined based solely on his alleged actions at age 17. His fate should be determined based on his actions every day after the alleged attempted rape. More on that, in a moment.
The initial #GOP defense for Judge Brett Kavanaugh centered around what seemed to be an unassailable denial that Kavanaugh was capable of assaulting Dr. Christine Blasey Ford when he was only 17 and she was 15. The defense transitioned to one that suggested that even if the event had occurred, he was very young. Furthermore, the person he was, then, should have no bearing on who he is as a human being, now. There has been an outpouring of sympathy, for Judge Kavanaugh, matched by a myriad of doubt, derision, and outright character assassination for Dr. Ford. Ford is even faulted for not, at 15, taking on a system that has storied tradition of secondary victimization of adult rape survivors who dare to step forward and name their attackers. What hope would she have had?
Why didn’t Ford tell someone, more than three decades ago when the event allegedly took place? I think the answer can be found in the numerous attempts by critics to unveil every detail of Dr. Ford’s life – while ignoring the unanswered questions about Judge Kavanaugh’s spending habits and outstanding debts, which are also relevant to any decision to grant him a lifetime appointment to the bench.
If less than a third of sexual assaults are reported, and less than 5% of perpetrators are convicted, what hope did a 15 year-old have at the time of the alleged, brutal, assault? We understood even less about rape and rape survivors then than we do, now.
I would strongly urge anyone reading this blog entry to make your way to RAINN to learn more about sexual assault and its impact on survivors of violence. I strongly urge you to urge your member of congress to do the same. I fear for Dr. Ford in her appearance before the Senate Judiciary committee, given the comments and excuses I have read regarding Judge Kavanaugh’s presumed innocence, at best, and newly limited culpability, at worst.
Is he the same person who, at 17, is alleged to have engaged in such a brutal assault of a 15-year-old teenage girl? Most likely not, but if he is guilty, he is the same man who lived every day of his life without once apologizing to his victim or taking responsibility for that day. If he is guilty, he allowed Dr. Ford to live every day of her life with self-doubt, fear, shame, anger, and a sense of loss that impacted her life to the point of needing support and care to try to recover from the event. The #GOP is mounting it’s own “Brock Turner defense” in which Turner’s father commented that 20 minutes of action shouldn’t ruin his son’s entire life.
I think it is telling that the Good Ole’ Privilege party views the event from the perspective of the alleged perpetrator and not the alleged victim. If guilty, Judge Kavanaugh has seemingly moved on and, to our knowledge, has not sought help for any guilt or despair associated with attacking another person. Dr. Ford has lived with her trauma for more than 30 years. She has not forgotten the clothing she wore, the sound of the music getting louder, the smell of alcohol on her attacker, the hand that covered her mouth, the friends in the house who could not hear her screams, and her own feelings of despair thinking that she would become a rape victim.
If her story is accepted as credible, Judge Kavanaugh is not being criticized and held accountable solely for his actions as a 17 year-old, but for his actions every day since then and his refusal to take responsibility for \the scars his actions left on the psyche of another human being. If our elected #GOP officials don’t understand that, they are even less deserving of their positions than any nominee they would send to the bench.
Instead of weeping over the state of our nation, we should be thinking of how to become proactive in defending her and protecting our values. We know that we cannot trust the current #GOP-led congress to stand up for our values or to protect low-income and middle-income Americans.. Protecting our American identity has to come from the only source that truly matters: the voters. If you are not registered to vote, you need to be:
I hope you will consider watching the Jack Bryan documentary “Active Measures”. There are no anti-Clinton level tin-foil conspiracy theories, here. There are documented pieces of evidence which do not require “interpretation”, or even misinterpretation, to connect Donald J. Trump to Russian intelligence and Russian oligarchs. Those ties simply exist and have been openly discussed by credible journalists even before Nov. 2016.
I would also urge you to read EVERYTHING written by journalists Sarah Kendzior and Kurt Eichenwald, and former intelligence officer, Malcolm Nance. Follow them on twitter: @MalcolmNance@sarahkendzior and @kurteichenwald.
Mr. Nance is a former intelligence officer with more than 36 years of experience and a specialization in studying Russian Cyber espionage. I think it would be fair to call it warfare, now While Donald Trump was attacking Ronald Reagan for his Russia policy and was lobbying to be appointed an ambassador to Russia, Mr. Nance was putting his life on the line to keep America safe from Russia’s imposing reach. If it’s happening now? Malcolm Nance has already predicted it.
Kendzior has written extensively about the anatomy of authoritarian governments, and routinely writes about tendencies in the current WH administration to make huge swings away from our representative government to one in which the voice of the people is primarily ignored when those voices are inconsistent with will of a fickle Donald Trump. Where else would you go to be educated about words like kakistocracy?
Much of Eichenwald’s work on this topic was written as a warning prior to the election and feels like a road map for any investigation into the relationship between Mr. Trump and his Russian business “friends” — who seemed to think that buying into Trump businesses also means buying into America’s representative democracy. Eichenwald has been inside of #Trump’s head for a long time… and for that he has both my sympathies and gratitude. I wish more of us had listened to him before the general election.
My gift to you? The Nance/ Kendzior/ Eichenwald “starter pack”. Read, weep if you must, and then roll up your sleeves and get to work for the midterm elections!
Born into slavery, Harriet “Ross” Tubman freed herself and then put her life in jeopardy to do the same for countless other enslaved humans. She did so by making perilous trips, in the dead of night, through hostile lands. Her courage and bravery bested the cowardice and rage of the people who hunted her like an animal. She also served as a nurse during the civil war and led black and white troops on raids against confederate soldiers. Never afraid of a fight, Ms. Tubman also took on the issue of women’s rights. She still inspires me.
Sojourner “Isabella Baumfree” Truth fought for the rights of women before she was ever acknowledged as a woman, in her own right. She was the first African-American woman to successfully sue a white male – a man who illegally enslaved her child. Sold into slavery as a child, her mother’s heart gave her the courage to fight to free her son. She also helped her daughter escape slavery. Her courage is undeniable. I proudly claim the gift her legacy leaves behind.
In the late 1800s, Ida B. Wells fought to stop the lynching of black bodies. She held no reasonable expectation of police or federal protection. There were no social media platforms to rally supporters to her side. She wrote the Red Record to highlight the horrors taking place in the daily lives of supposedly “free men” who were routinely hanged at the whim of men who could no longer legally own them. Instead, those men took deadly possession of “free” bodies and altered the futures of their victim’s children and families. I hold dear the courage that sustained Ms. Wells.
Feel free to add from the millions more stories of women who are strong, vibrant, brilliant, kind, but most importantly, FEARLESS. Remember their names as you learn their stories. I ask you to do so for the following reason; if you think that closing 7 of 9 Randolph County polling places will stop African-Americans from showing up at the ballot box to help Stacey Abrams earn her place in Georgia history, you are not paying close enough attention!
…That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?
Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?
Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.
If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them…
Excerpted from Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman” speech
Admittedly, I am not over the live stream of Philando Castile’s death. I am not over the deaths of Amadou Diallo, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin (who died at the hands of a “neighborhood watch” member), Sandra Bland, Stephon Clark, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, John Crawford, nor of our Latin/Hispanic brothers and sisters whose names and stories are often ignored by the media – despite their incredibly high risk of being fatally shot while unarmed. I am not over the untimely deaths of all other unarmed Americans whose lives were cut short because of someone else’s fear or biases. Each new death rips open a barely healed wound while adding the weight of its own mass.
I am not anti-Police but I am, unapologetically, anti- senseless death and anti- brutality. That Robert Johnson’s name wasn’t added the list above, gives me no comfort.
The longer video (sound kicks in during the skirmish)
I believe in the necessity of a defense / peace force that serves and protects American communities. I also believe that most of the individuals who serve as part of that force are honest, serve with good intentions, and serve to great effect. Those who poorly serve their communities not only risk harming innocent citizens, but create unnecessary burdens for their fellow brothers- and sisters-in-blue. They tarnish the legacies of hardworking officers and ruin their relationships with citizens whose trust and support are necessary to create effective neighborhood partnerships – partnerships which save lives.
Where we have, societally, missed the mark is that the focus is almost always on the individual(s) involved in fatal shootings. We should want to know the details of each shooting, for the sake of the public record and for the sake of families traumatized by these events. It is not unreasonable to invest our hope in making significant changes in policing, and policies, by learning the details of each shooting. Officers involved in the fatal shootings of unarmed citizens present only half the story – the latter half. While no one officer may be a problem, it is possible that the process of determining fitness to serve is the problem. That is where the story begins.
What is the process for determining fitness for duty of new recruits/trainees? Is the entire protocol state-wide, or are some standards local/regional?
Officers are typically held to the standards and regulations put forth by the state, but how different is evaluation process from state to state – and regions within states?
What part of that initial evaluation process is used to assesses potential racial/ethnic/gender/religious biases against others?
Humans are prone to bias, so most of us show some form or bias, but some of us show stronger biases than others. What kind of anti-bias training is offered prior to hiring, and after? How extensive is the training?
Which specific psychological evaluations are used? If none are used? Why not?
Who gives and scores the evaluations?
What are the qualifications of those individuals?
Are their resumes/CVs available for review?
Are there differences in evaluations administered in-house vs those administered by private agencies?
Are police departments tracking the records of officers involved in cases of brutality/corruption complaints to determine if the same individuals/organizations are responsible for the pre-hire (and any subsequent) evaluations of those officers?
Are warning signs identified by evaluators ignored or downplayed by departments?
Are there policies for follow-up evaluations (every five years, for example)?
Given the high levels of stress officers face, in the best of circumstances, it is not unreasonable to suggest that a psychological “check up” be given throughout the course of an officer’s career. Every officer should be given the ability to address job-related stress and then return to duty.
Are the INITIAL evaluations re-examined, in cases where brutality/corruption complaints are filed against officers or when unarmed citizens are shot? Are there details in the initial evaluation that were deemed irrelevant then, that would later carry greater significance?
Is there a mechanism for police officers to recommend re-evaluation when there are concerns which are not yet reported as brutality complaints or concerns which may stem from daily conversations between officers. Imagine if an officer had the ability to safely recommend re-evaluation in this case:
Racist texts read at trial of Inkster police officer accused of beating black motorist
“At least give me the satisfaction of knowing you were out there beating up n*****s right now,” said a text sent to Zieleniewski earlier this year. It was read aloud in court.
“LOL,” Zieleniewski said in his text response. “Just got done with one.”
Floyd Dent was the target of Officer William Melendez’s attack. Auxiliary Officer John Zieleniewski was reportedly Melendez’s trainee/partner. Floyd Dent’s name is not on the list, above, but under different circumstances, it could have been.
We know that the majority of officers never fire their weapons during the course of their service, and rarely, if ever, have altercations with members of the community. It is why we should be especially concerned in cases where this does occur, even more when the victims are unarmed and not a threat to the officer(s) involved. Members of police departments, who fully understand the job – having their own experiences to rely on, should be the most concerned.
Just as minority communities are plagued by being defined by our most troubled members, oddly enough, police officers suffer the same fate. It would, in almost any other circumstance, be the first step in creating a common understanding. These are communities that understand that the overwhelming majority of its members are good people who only want to live in peace and coexist with others.
Police departments should never hesitate to take the same advice it gives to communities of color, in particular: “Stand up to your most problematic members. Turn them in if they behave in ways that are violent or threatening. If those in charge aren’t doing their jobs, do it for them. Keep us all safe.”
Public service, in all of its manifestations, is both a privilege and a responsibility. Lasting relationships are formed between citizens and public servants (at all levels) who honor policing as a privilege and responsibility. While we focus individual cases and the circumstances which have contributed to each unfortunate death, there are bigger questions to ask. Asking them is not about blaming. Asking bard questions strengthens our defense/peace forces AND the communities they serve. Telling half the story, the latter half, will never get us there. We must tell the full story. We deserve no less.
Admittedly, I am still wary of trusting newly-awakened Republicans – those willing to stand up against the excesses of #Trump’s ignorance, bigotry and cruelty, and against the party they love dearly. My wariness stems from the level of introspection the Republican party has failed to show in figuring out how Donald Trump could so easily take control of their party – beyond the absurdity of trying to blame President Obama or Democrats. Even the newly-awakened are focused on “now” and not how they got here. Some Republicans blame Trump’s prior identification as a Democrat (ignoring the fact that he has opportunistically joined several political parties before ravaging theirs). Trump clearly knew he could never successfully run bigoted messages through the Democratic Party, and that those same messages would be well-received by Republican voters.
Any time I tell myself to be more trusting of Republicans who have become Trump critics, I also remind myself to try to let go of old fears based on lingering cultural memories for the slightly milder Trump-esque messages the Republican party pushed prior to his election. Rationality will win, in the end, yes? I would say yes, but then there is the lesson of John Podhoretz, a lesson I will let serve as my wake-up call. This lesson is an easy one. The moment there appears to be a “data driven” message that suggests that Trump’s ignorance, bigotry and cruelty are also mainstream, some will celebrate it and treat it as a warning that it is time for a change in the broader society – a change that should be more inclusive of Trump voters (and, implicitly, more inclusive of some of Trump’s messages). Data used as evidence for change can be as limited as viewer ratings for a single episode of a sitcom revival that may not be indicative of what follows.
To buy into Republican euphoria over Roseanne ratings, you must first cling to the, ridiculous, long-standing GOP argument that liberals do not watch programs or movies featuring conservative actors. Pretend it is true despite the fact that several cities with the highest viewer rates were in states that have traditionally (pre-2016) voted with the Democratic party and that several cities with the lowest ratings are in deep red states, Assume, as Podhoretz seems to, that the ratings are primarily due to pro-Trump voters who tuned in to see their choices defended and the rehabilitation of the well-embraced, Clinton-generated, label: “Deplorables”. I guess it is safe to ignore the viewers who are not Trump supporters, but who also remembered The Connors, fondly, before politics became so sadly acrimonious. While it is clear that the “Deplorables” celebrated a successful Hollywood actress embracing their guy, the original show was comprised of fans of all political leanings.
More than excitation, there should be a growing concern facing those moved by this turn of events. Roseanne-the character is supposed to be modeled after Roseanne-the actress. How much blurring between the two will occur with the sitcom? Roseanne – the character, will have to always remain the Roseanne-lite version of the actress. What happens when Roseanne – the character, begins yukking it up over joining an attack on 17-year old David Hogg by tweeting the conspiratorial phrase “Nazi Salute”? I can’t quite imagine playing a laugh track over this one:
Can Roseanne-the character talk about her penchant for conspiracy theories involving the deaths of Seth-Rich, and the mind-numbingly stupid Pizzagate ? It is difficult to fathom that Trump-conservatives really want to see themselves portrayed on TV, embracing the full Trump agenda. It is even harder to believe that those defending Trump supporters, even while taking on Trump, want to see his supporters as they are, either. Imagine what that reflection looks like on national television, in an attempt to normalize the worst pro-Trump excesses. What Trump supporters seem to really want is a warmer, fuzzier, more rational portrayal of themselves, streaming into America’s living rooms.
I agree with Podhoretz that there is a wake-up call for Hollywood. I think that call is, “DON’T FALL FOR IT!”. The other shoe has yet to drop. Roseanne – the show has yet to deal with the reality of Roseanne-the actress. There is also the discrepancy between the version of #Trumpism she portrays, and the reality of #Trumpism the rest of us live. Beyond the white-working class, there are many more of us who are harmed, daily, by #Trump’s message. There are many of us whose children are at greater risk, whose sensibilities have been insulted and assaulted, who feel displaced by a nation and by people we were learning to trust and embrace. At the risk of reminding my Republican friends of another failing that got us to this point, I am hesitant to use a well-worn phrase that fits, but I will. Hold on to your hats: You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig. Let’s wait to see where the show takes us before screaming “Victory!”.
My Republican friends, you may have to hold on to those premiere episode ratings. Trumpism and reality will soon set in and if there is anything we have learned in our recent experience it is this, that everything Trunp touches eventually becomes a rousing dumpster fire. I expect the same outcome, here.
While receiving overwhelmingly positive attention for their work in rallying teens nationwide to combat gun violence, the #Parkland teens are also the targets of random cranks and critics. The silliest charge leveled against them is that they couldn’t possibly comport themselves in the manner in which they have without coaching from liberal operatives. What a sad way to devalue and dismiss America’s youth.
Who are these teens?
These are the same people whose academic standards have been set higher than almost any generation before it.
This generation has had to defend itself against exploitation from adults (some of whom run for office and support other predators who run for office). Prior generations suffered in silence. This generation no longer has to be silent, but still struggles to be believed. They have learned to find their voices, here, too.
This generation has fought to own their identities, values, and bodies – yet another fight which has taught them to find their voices.
This is the group of young people who communicate with their global peers on twitter, instagram, xbox, playstation, and a host of formats that most of us have not yet heard of or may ever know. They communicate with global peers who are shocked at the levels of accepted gun violence directed at children and teens in America. They communicate with global peers, none of whom have ever had to practice “active shooter” safety drills in school.
They are the people who have been treated as acceptable collateral damage in our glorification of gun culture over the defense and care of our children. They dare to refuse to become collateral damage.
At times by intent, often by sheer dumb luck, these are the young people we have created. Instead of criticizing them, we should be grateful that they are our current justice leaders and future social and elected leaders. I am confident in the bright future of this nation in the hands of the following leaders (and many others whose names and faces we still don’t know):
At age ll, Naomi Wadler is representing the girls whose stories don’t make the evening news:
“You can hear people in power shaking in their boots”
“… five years ago, this happened… five years ago and no change has come…”
“Bullets do not discriminate, so why should we?”
“We need to arm our teachers, with pencils, pens, paper, and the money they need to support their families and support themselves, before they can support the future…”
“Keep Screaming at your congressmen…”
“I learned to duck bullets before I learned to read:”
“6 minutes, 20 seconds….. fight for your life before it’s someone else’s job”
Jennifer Hudson voices the hope – and hard work- of this movement”
A – they are indicative of a lack of moral character that proves to the evangelical movement that he should not be permitted to serve in the nation’s highest office, nor as a role model for youth?
Doubtful. They are no longer worried about “what to tell the children” as they claimed to be with Bill Clinton. They are no longer worried that their children will ask them uncomfortable question about sex and sexuality as it relates to marriage. Good luck in those discussions about Porn, Playboy, and the office of the Presidency, evangelicals, To be fair, I have a sneaking suspicion that you are not as “in the dark” on these discussions as some think.
B – the payments may be tied to campaign law violations that could result in criminal charges against #Trump and members of his team?
Doubtful. Even if those reports are to be believed, Team Trump has never been held accountable by the cowardly #GOP majority – which would most assuredly fight any charges leveled against the man who signs their bills, no matter how awful those bills are for American families and workers. #GOPTaxScam.
C – the payments show his disregard for women and that he has no problem trying to silence women no matter his own complicity?
Doubtful. I find it odd that a man who brags about his sexual prowess works to silence the women reportedly involved.
His base isn’t concerned about how he treats the women with whom he had affairs, nor the woman on whom he cheated. If there are no tears for Melania, from the hypocritical right wing, fhe women Trump is alleged to have strong-armed into silence don’t stand a chance.
D – the payments show us just how little integrity and honesty he has?
Here is where I place my money. Donald Trump stood before the American public, looked voters in the eye, and lied about knowing nearly every woman who made a claim against him. He positioned himself as a happily married man, of wealth, who is being extorted by liars and gold digging “tramps”. He stood before the American public and defamed women whose only real “crime” was telling the truth about former relationships with a man whose loyalty to others is in short supply.
Voters have often assumed that a person who couldn’t be loyal to the people who loved them most, couldn’t be trusted to care about the rest of us. If you lie to a spouse, you will lie to anyone, the theory goes. What do you make a of a person who is disloyal, who lies about it, who allows the public to believe that everyone who steps up to admit their role in an affair is lying?
Hopefully? That individual will be remembered as a stain on history and a one-termer.
How troubling is this pattern of the use, discarding, denying and defaming of women? None of us knows, just yet, but we will begin to find out on #StormySunday, as Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) tells part of her story on Anderson Cooper this Sunday on CBS’ 60 minutes.
Can we just stop ignoring the fact that human trafficking is a HUGE issue as part of the Channel 4 News expose on Cambridge Analytica? Is it not equally as bad as the misuse of data belonging to 50 million people in this country? How ironic that people who manage data seemingly didn’t investigate the client with whom they met to discuss ways of discrediting political rivals. That new client was a Channel 4 undercover reporter. Cambridge Analytica CEO, Alexander Nix, is recorded offering the new client the “service” of sending Ukrainian sex workers to rivals’ rooms to discredit the rival. SEX WORKERS! In most parts of the world, that sort of offer is referred to as engaging in sex trafficking – and yet the offer is barely mentioned.
How are the sex workers be hired? What is the history of the exploitation of these women – are they in the work by choice or by force? Who will be paid for their labor? Do they receive direct payment or will a manager/pimp/human trafficker receive that payment on their behalf? The introduction of the world “Kompromat” to the American English has, I’m afraid, lessened the impact of the reality of what the word means and its potential for harm to the worker on the more dehumanizing end of the bargain. It is doubtful that we are talking about women (and men) who decided to enter the sex trade of their own accord. Self-selecting the field still holds risks and the potential for dehumanization, but individuals at least own their labor and have the right, and the ability, to decline work.
Have we accepted the practice of the exploitation of women for power as standard and, therefore, acceptable or predictable? We know it is historical, but isn’t it time for that history to end? Are we to conclude that individuals who hire sex workers to compromise others are simply business people, or political figures, who are using a means to reach an end? What happens to those sex workers when the job is finished? Are they compromised in a way that puts their lives at risk? Even when the target is exposed, he is rarely placed in a life-threatening situation, does the risk increase for the sex worker?
IF concern for the women who are trafficked as part of these seedy plots is, sadly, not enough, let’s really make it “sexy”.
— Did Team Trump receive the same offer as other potential new clients? When, and who would have been the identified targets of such offers?
— If the link between CA and #Trump extends as far back as is now alleged, was #Trump preparing the public for a CA hit on #TedCruz after Trump-friendly rags claimed that Cruz had a history of hiring sex workers?
— Ted Cruz was also a client of CA, was the same Kompromat offer made to him regarding primary rivals? How could he not know that CA operated this way?
— How could Kushner, Trump, Trump Jr., Conway, Bannon, Manafort, and the rest of the rogue’s gallery of individuals tightly connected to CA not know that this was part of the “services” the organization provided?
— What will be the reaction of an Evangelical movement that has made peace with #Trump’s infidelities and ill treatment of women? They have already made peace with his relationship with porn star, Stephanie Clifford (#StormyDaniels). Will they make peace with his relationship with a company that brags about trafficking women as a matter of routine? A man with a “difficult” history with women hires a company with a “difficult” history with women. How much more of their integrity are Evangelicals willing to sacrifice to defend this?
And now for the less “sexy” part: Why are we not more concerned that trafficking and politics seem to go hand-in-hand? Somewhere out there, at any given moment, human traffickers are profiting in ways we never expected, but that directly and indirectly touch our lives. They are profiting by making us queasy and distrustful of any politician caught up in one of these plots. They may even be profiting by putting elected officials in high offices, blackmailing them into making decisions favorable to traffickers, their bosses, their colleagues – all at our expense, in order to cover their secrets.
I am hoping that the U.S. Congress (read as: The Democrats), or some other international governing body, will research Nix’s offer. If they find that there is even one scintilla of evidence pointing to this as a routine past practice, CA should be, in my opinion, charged with human trafficking in an international criminal court.
I was raised in a family whose origins began in the southern United States, like many other African-American families. Like so many others, my family survived the pre-civil rights south. Some part of that survival took careful planning. Some of it was pure luck. I share that to help you understand why this week has been an emotional black hole for me, from the beginning of the racist attacks in Charlottesville to the time it has taken me to write these words. Each day the exhaustion is compounded by the battle over whether the appropriate sentiments of disgust and despair have been uttered by Donald Trump. It is an important question, but is it the only question we should focus on during this critical time?
While we focus on #Trump’s weak assessment of the attacks in Charlottesville, and an astounding double reversal of blame, which effectively supports white nationalists, there are other words I hear that speak louder to me than Trump’s. I still hold my uncles’ stories in my head, told with laughter, lived in pain. I remember the story of the uncle who crossed a pasture, running to avoid an angry bull, taking the dangerous run to get home before dark. He feared the sundown laws more than he feared the bull. I was too young to realize the absurdity of laughing that risking his life in that moment saved him from a worse fate. I remember the discussions about the stores my light-complexion mother could safely enter, while her darker-complexion brothers had to wait outside. I think about the legacy of Emmett Till and thank God that my uncles weren’t falsely accused of speaking to white women while they waited. As sad as their stories of terror and discrimination were, I realize that their stories could have been worse, told by my mother – remembering brothers no longer alive to share their own testimonies.
Shortly after the Charlottesville attacks began, the hashtag #ThisIsNotUS began trending. The hashtag is interesting in its effect as much as its viral status. The tag created a sense of open expression for those who believe that we are a better nation than the events on display in Charlottesville – when white pseudo-supremacists attacked a diverse group of Americans. The hashtag opened expression for persons of color whose lived experiences remind us that #ThisIsTheUsYouDidntKnowStillExisted, sadly. To a lesser extent than in the past? Certainly, but the virulent strains of racism which negatively affect the lives of people of color have only been modified in terms of degree of existence, barely modified in terms of degree of impact (more on that, another time). The hashtag has also opened expression for alt-right pseudo-supremacists to try to defend themselves against their heinous acts, and for conservatives trying to defend their party by distancing themselves from the pseudo-supremacists.`
Not that they would care, but I have my own list of #GOP heroes I have placed on #TheResistance honor roll. They are GOPers who routinely stand up to Trump without fear, and without hesitation. Some are individuals who are granted public forums to discuss their concerns, others are social media heroes. I am disheartened by the fact that not one of them seems to understand that the violence in Charlottesville is a problem because it is directly and indirectly indicative of what the #GOP has become over time, and not in the moments after Donald J. Trump took office. The #GOP’s decades long rhetoric about the poor and about minority groups was the powder keg. #Trump and his alt-right goons have only served as the proverbial lit match.
For decades the republican party traded progress for power. Wrapped in what the #GOP has claimed as “party policy” is a continuous stream of coded attacks against citizens of color devised to achieve the party’s end goals. Whether the codes were intentional or unintentional is irrelevant, given the outcome. Those attacks have created a sense of aggrievement in White Americans who were led to believe that “liberal policies” went too far in helping the poor and persons of color – often conflated as one in the same. The “unwarranted” support for the poor, and for minorities, robbed White voters and their communities of opportunity, the Republican party line implied, when not directly stated.
White-voter-aggrievement appears to have more to do with Republican rhetoric than liberal policy or liberal actions focused on minority communities:
Angry southern Democrats who felt betrayed by the party’s movement toward civil rights were taken in by the Republican party in the 1950s and on, most especially after the 1964 civil rights act. The #GOP has been playing to the racial resentment Southern Whites have felt since the act was passed, including failing to condemn Atwater’s southern strategy. The “Party of Lincoln” welcomed the fleeing Dixiecrats, trading the support of loyal African-American voters. What values and beliefs did the Republican party believe the Dixiecrats would bring to the fold? Which voters did they think the anti-integration politicians would bring with them?
Reagan and Dole are credited for openly standing up to the racist elements of their party and boldly stating that there is no room in the Republican party for bigots, for people who espouse values that are antithetical to American values. Dole, in particular, pointed to the exits during his convention speech and unequivocally asked racists to make use of them. They deserve credit for standing up. The bigger question is why the statements had to be made in the first place. What is it about the Republican party that causes the periodic need for tamping down openly divisive and hateful rhetoric from members of the party? What is it about Republican policy and ideology that continues to draw those individuals to it?
Remember that Reagan’s push back against racists is also countered against his “welfare queen” analogy. Who was she? ” She used 80 names, 30 addresses, 15 telephone numbers to collect food stamps, Social Security, veterans’ benefits for four nonexistent deceased veteran husbands, as well as welfare. Her tax-free cash income alone has been running $150,000 a year.”, according to Reagan, as he explained the need for welfare reform. She was racialized, of course. To the public, she was the African-American woman living multiple generations on welfare. She was unwilling (more than unable) to care for herself and the numerous children she continued creating – children raised without fathers in the household She was a burden on the hardworking tax paying citizens of this nation. On one hand, Reagan told the party to reject racism and open displays of hostility toward minorities. On the other hand?
Similar examples are available in every prior and successive Republican administration. Republican politicians continue to serve as grand marshals of the aggrievement parade by telling some new version of the welfare queen story, without adding the following:
Most people who are impoverished are working – they are not collecting payments, sitting on their asses, happy to live their lives on welfare. They periodically need support to help their families survive tough economic times until they can land on their feet, again. Staying out of poverty is hard, but individuals who are impoverished keep fighting.
Welfare does not make one “rich” by any comparative American standard. There is no incentive to stay impoverished.
Persons of color are disproportionately poor, but are not the only poor who receive welfare benefits. Many of the aggrieved have most likely received support, or live in places with relatively few minority status individuals, and still have high levels of need and support.
People living in those “liberal places” that support “liberal policies”, such as those living on the east and west coasts, are also strong contributors in terms of paid tax dollars. They often pay more in taxes than they receive by way of federal services and support. Those who attack liberal policies and programs often live in places that receive more in federal support than they pay in taxes.
Can you be against the notion of welfare without being racist? Sure. I have yet to hear anti-welfare rhetoric that is not also racist, stereotypic, and just plain hateful.
How else have Republicans traditionally contributed to rhetoric meant to amass votes, despite the likely outcome of heightening division?
Trending job loss in fields such as coal mining were tied to liberal policies favoring “the other”, as well as extreme liberal environmentalism. Instead of acknowledging the role of automation meant to increase productivity and profit, liberals – who were heavily focused on minority communities, were to blame. Instead of acknowledging the reduced need for coal because of more efficient resources such as natural gas, liberals were to blame.
Books such as “Hillbilly Elegy” were embraced by the media as helping all of America understand the plight of White American Trump voters, whose woes were economic (by implication) and not racial. I believe that the author J.D. Vance is honest in his assessment. I believe that commentators such as Krystal Ball and politicians such as Bernie Sanders, believe this. The wholesale dismissal of the role of race, however, is something I find deeply troubling. Individuals in those regions of the country lost coal producing, and other manufacturing jobs, for the reasons identified above, among others, and because they had them in the first place – something no one points out when the attacks on liberals, liberal policies and “the other” begins.
Were more minorities hired in those positions they, too, would experience high degrees of unemployment in those same regions of the country. Republican politicians routinely imply that White voters were intentionally left behind by liberals who only cared about identity politics. Political pundits and some progressive politicians have claimed the same. It is odd that these same voters are represented by red state politicians who failed to see the tide turning, and failed to help create other employment opportunities. Instead, Republican pols have used identity politics, as well, in coded, implicit, and often racist ways.
Minority status individuals are often disproportionately represented in under- and unemployed communities and they were not, largely, charmed by #Trump’s rhetoric. They were not largely chanting “Build that Wall”, or engaging in racist/sexist chants during political rallies. Trump’s appeal is not primarily economic, in my opinion, given the average income of Trump supporters and the economic diversity in his alt-right crowds. It is a point that I don’t believe was lost on the #GOP and the #RNC in the race to trade progress for power.
This group is aggrieved and feeling as if they are under attack because they have been told by the republican officials who represent them that they SHOULD feel aggrieved and that they ARE under attack, by liberals, liberal policies, by minority communities who are coming to take what is theirs – no other explanation needed as the truth is not politically expedient.
Other moves in the republican trade of progress for power? Most are self-explanatory:
Republican officials who promoted racist, stereotypic, policy suggestions that would have done little to reduce the effects of poverty on minority households. Who could forget Newt Gingrich’s proposal that janitors in schools be fired and that poor teens take their places in cleaning schools?
“This is something that no liberal wants to deal with,” Gingrich said. “Core policies of protecting unionization and bureaucratization against children in the poorest neighborhoods, crippling them by putting them in schools that fail has done more to create income inequality in the United States than any other single policy. ..
Note that he referenced “neighborhoods” and not “rural communities”. I guess internships with local businesses and jobs that would allow teens to save for college would have been a bit much for the kids in those “neighborhoods”. Kill the wage-protecting unions and place teens in those positions. (Not)Brilliant?
Republicans failed to stand up to racist attacks against President Barack Obama. They didn’t stand up to the noose-hangers, the birthers, those who led the birthers, the racist joke tellers, and a host of others who were either voters or elected Republican officials who demeaned President Obama for eight years, using an obviously racist lie. The aggrieved lived eight years believing that an interloper had taken control of the federal government and created policies and programs that disadvantaged them… such as Obamacare. Their elected pols neglected to tell them that Obamacare also benefits rural (largely White) communities, the same communities that are now finding it difficult to continue without Obamacare.
Romney sought support from the chief birther, Donald Trump, semi-legitimizing Trump, despite his obvious racist birther movement. The party should have cut ties with Romney when that happened.
Birtherism is not the only racist language Republicans are comfortable using. Who can forget the “Plantation talk” which permeates the party, even recently in the Osoff-Handel race? The notion of being on a voter plantation apparently does not extend to White voters who reliably vote republican each year – even in the reddest red states where education attainment is low, on average, incomes are low, health care outcomes are dismal, and teen pregnancy rates are high. If there is a plantation that should be avoided… Well…
Trump entering the race referring to Mexican immigrants as rapists, murders, and drug dealers, despite the fact that the data tells us just the opposite – that crime rates are below the national average in immigrant communities. Instead of cutting him off at the knees, Republican politicians traded progress for power, indulging him, complimenting him, hoping to curry favor with his largely uncritical voting base… until it was too late and they realized that he would become their nominee. Never let it be said that the Republican party learns from its mistakes. They doubled down their support during the general election, despite Trump courting the “frog-loving alt-right” and his increasingly erratic behavior.
Paul Ryan recently promoted “building that wall”, while on horseback at the border. The man who once said that Trump’s language was indeed racist, joined him in advocating building a wall against people who have done little to harm us. The Wall is Trump’s signature promise based on a false racist claim. Well done, Speaker Ryan. Another epic failure.
I am disheartened when I hear Republicans champion their party and its heroes as anti-racist, and fault Trump for everything that is happening now. Why? For me, it is the surest sign of a party that is unable and/or unwilling to change. It is a party looking for a scapegoat and #Trump is as good as any, for now. For people of color, it is a temporary reprieve, since we are usually the party’s scapegoat. As stated earlier, Trump is the lit match but that match would burn itself out, if not for the powder keg the Republican party provided. This was a partnership, an ugly, hurtful partnership – a long time in the making.
Will Charlottesville bring about a real change in the Republican party? I would like to think so, but for now, I doubt it.