“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”
“I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Letter from a Birmingham Jail”
April 16, 1963
By Eric Draitser
When Martin Luther King wrote of the white moderate, he wrote of the enemy of progress, the foe of social justice, the obstacle to the defining social movement of his time. He understood, perhaps better than many of his contemporaries, that the white moderate was the single most pernicious influence in the broader sociopolitical landscape. For it was the white moderate who opposed the essential and necessary radicalism, who blocked attempts at widening the Civil Rights Movement, who enjoined that demands be tempered, grievances be blunted; all while posing as a friend of the movement, a defender of the marginalized and oppressed.
Such was the essence of the white moderate in King’s day. Such is the essence of the white liberal today. For it is the white liberal who finds any excuse to slander and attack radical people of color who challenge the ruling class; who justifies support for white supremacy, imperialism, and neocolonialism; and who does so with the palliative opiate of self-satisfaction – the genuine, though entirely wrongheaded, belief in his/her own essential goodness.
This phenomenon has been on full display in the ongoing attacks on Green Party Vice Presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka, a man who has dedicated more than four decades to resistance against racism and oppression of African-Americans and other African diaspora communities. To watch accusations and implications of racism and bigotry lobbed at him like so many arrows from the crossbowmen of corporate media is to receive a crash course in white liberal racism – that undeniable phenomenon whose name must not be spoken.
Perhaps the best example of this sickening tactic came on CNN’s Town Hall with Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka. The host, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo – brother of Democratic New York governor Andrew Cuomo – deliberately decontextualized Baraka’s use of the phrase “Uncle Tom” to describe President Obama. An obvious smear intended to discredit the Green Party ticket in the eyes of Black (and liberal white) voters, Cuomo smugly implied that Baraka’s usage of Uncle Tom was, in itself, racist.
But even a cursory analysis of the term, the context in which it was used, and Cuomo’s intent in raising the issue, not only vindicates Baraka’s usage of Uncle Tom, it reveals the deep-seated racism of Democratic party shills, and American liberals in general.
Interrogating Uncle Tom
The term itself is generally accepted to mean a person, usually a black man, who is overly eager to please white people, and is quick to betray his own race in pursuit of acceptance among whites. Thus the term is less a superficial racial epithet than it is a psychological and sociological critique, particularly when used by a black man against a fellow black man. To be sure, racially charged language takes on varying levels of meaning and emotional gravitas depending on who uses it. In this case, however, a black leftist uses it to deconstruct the mythology surrounding the first black president.
Does anyone doubt that, from a purely objective perspective, President Obama has indeed abdicated his responsibility to improve the political, economic, and social lives of Black Americans? A quick look at the statistics for Black America reveals that, if anything, the lives of black people have gotten considerably worse under Obama: life expectancy, per capita wealth, employment levels, infant mortality, children in poverty, etc. all point to a deterioration of the living conditions for Blacks under Obama. Do these facts constitute betrayal of black people in the pursuit of serving the white establishment? Certainly, Ajamu Baraka argued that they do. It is hard to counter his assertion.
And how about Obama’s merciless slaughter of black and brown people around the world? From the lynchings, rapes, and murders of black Libyans carried out by Obama’s proxy terrorist forces during the regime change operation against the Libyan Government of Muammar Gaddafi, to the drone bombings of black and brown people all over the world, to the continued militarization of the African continent under the auspices of Obama’s AFRICOM: Do these policies and actions taken by the first black president constitute a betrayal of people of color in the service of the white ruling class and the Empire? Baraka has argued that they do.
So the question then becomes: Is Baraka’s use of the term Uncle Tom truly unwarranted? Or is it rather that liberals, especially white liberals, choose to ignore the material reality of Obama’s presidency in favor of the mythos of the kind-hearted and cool black president with the big smile swooping down on the wings of hope and change like an angel come down from heaven? Perhaps Ajamu Baraka has simply intruded into the dream and, like temperamental children, white liberals shed their crocodile tears in hopes of crying themselves back to sleep.
Liberal White Supremacy
But there is another, even more insidious, aspect to this CNN Uncle Tom moment that must be reckoned with; namely, what the subtext of the question tells us about the pathology of 21st Century American liberalism.
When the white liberal Cuomo implied that the black radical Baraka was somehow engaging in racism or bigotry by referring to Obama as “Uncle Tom,” Cuomo was actually betraying the deeply rooted, almost unconscious, racism at the heart of American liberalism. For, you see, a white man can accuse a black man of racism when said black man critiques another black man who has been anointed by the white establishment. In other words, it’s not Obama’s skin color that makes Baraka’s use of the term unacceptable to Cuomo, it is Obama’s position.
Cuomo here plays the role of sentinel of the establishment, guarding the gates of discourse, dictating to blacks and whites alike what is or is not appropriate when it comes to critiquing the first black president.
Obama is the right kind of black man, while Baraka is the wrong kind. Obama the liberal is deserving of respect, while Baraka the radical is deserving of scorn. Sorry Ajamu, you’re just not the right kind of black man.
And while black men are murdered seemingly every single day by law enforcement, Obama pens op-ed pieces arguing that “Every day, [police] confront danger so it does not find our families … We recognize it, we respect it, we appreciate it, and we depend on you.” This is the right kind of black man, one who is passive and subservient in the face of ongoing, brutal oppression and violence. Baraka on the other hand, a man who has repeatedly lent his vocal support to the Movement for Black Lives among many other pro-black social movements, is caricatured as a bigot and racist.
The white liberal sees no contradiction here. He/she is blind to the irony of utilizing anti-racist verbiage to uphold an inherently racist and white supremacist argument which stealthily justifies the institutions of oppression and coercion while demeaning and slandering those who seek to dismantle them.
This is the white moderate to which Dr. King referred: the liberal more devoted to “order” than to justice. This is the cultural pathology of liberalism, an ideological disease which afflicts millions of people who, in their own self-deception, see themselves as healthy and righteous.
But diseased they remain, in utter denial of their own mental illness. And, instead, they choose to scapegoat those few men and women of the radical cloth who attempt to minister to the sick, to nurse them back to health. For you see, it is not the disease that must be fought, but rather the foul-tasting medicine. That is why Ajamu Baraka is made into the villain while Barack Obama is the cure. Such is the upside-down reality of the liberal.
White supremacy and racism are not mere discursive constructs to be woven into elaborate, but mostly empty, rhetorical flourishes. They are real phenomena existing in the real world of political life. And they are not simply the collective hatred expressed by hooded klansmen or bareheaded neo-nazis, but rather are the underlying assumptions, ideas, and values at the root of American political, economic, and social life – expressed by the police officer, the politician, and the news anchor in the finely tailored suit.
But to say it, and to do so publicly, is to transgress against the social norm. And to do so when speaking of the first black president is to commit the gravest sin against the god of liberalism.
Ajamu Baraka is not vilified for calling Obama an Uncle Tom. He is vilified for refusing not to.
First, the day: It was an unseasonably pleasant summer day 53 years ago today when nearly 250,000 people assembled peacefully and purposefully on the National Mall for the March on Washington D.C. Accounts describe an almost cloudless sky, bluer than reality, the air unseasonably dry, with the mercury hovering in the mid 70s for most of the day. And the mood, famously, was electric, crackling with energy, pregnant with triumph, as though the park were a leviathan, roofless church.
But then there is this: In the 19,359 days since Martin Luther King Jr. delivered perhaps his most praised address–a sort of christening of a new and better Republic–a case can be made that the material conditions of African Americans has actually worsened, not improved.
When King stepped to the dais, the incarceration rate in the U.S. was roughly identical to Germany and Finland’s, as Michelle Alexander notes in her bestselling book, The New Jim Crow. In the intervening years, the U.S. has quadrupled its prison population, Finland has cut its incarceration rate by more than half, and Germany’s has remained stable. Drug offenses account for virtually the entire explosion in the U.S. prison population, and Blacks, in turn, represent nearly three-quarters of offenders sentenced to jail for drug offenses, despite representing only 13 percent of the population and the same percentage of the nation’s drug users.
And blacks have fallen much farther behind whites since 1963. According to the Urban Institute, average white family wealth in 1963 exceeded that of African-American families by about $117,000 in 1963. By 2013, the average wealth of white families exceeded Black families by $500,000, when adjusted for inflation.
“Everything has changed and nothing has changed.” – Rev. Joseph Lowery
Another reason why African-Americans have less wealth than whites is debt. With good-paying manufacturing jobs drying up, especially since Congress passed the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993, Blacks have redoubled their efforts to improve their earning power, but mostly what they have to show for it is merely debt. Forty-two percent of African-American Americans between the ages of 25 and 55 had student loan debt in 2013, compared to 28 percent of whites. The figure was negligible for both in 1963 which was two years before the federal government began its program of federally-guaranteed educational loans.
This dispossession, and the loss of decent work for men especially has fundamentally restructured the Black family, making marriage almost obsolete. This has a compounding effect because research shows that marriage almost erases racial disparities in income and health.
In 1950, 17 percent of African-American children lived in a home with their mother but not their father. By 2010 that had increased to 50 percent. In 1965, only eight percent of childbirths in the Black community occurred out-of-wedlock. In 2010 that figure was 41 percent; and today, the out-of-wedlock childbirth in the Black community sits at an astonishing 72 percent. The number of African-American women married and living with their spouse was recorded as 53 percent in 1950. By 2010, it had dropped to 25 percent.
And to dismiss the trope that these figures on family formation merely reflect Black male irresponsibility, a 2007 study by a Boston University researcher found that Black men who did not live with their families make more of an effort to spend time with their children than any other racial or ethnic group.
Reflecting on the 50 year anniversary three years ago, one of King’s top lieutenants, the Rev. Joseph Lowery stood on the same marble steps of the Lincoln Memorial and summed up the last half century thusly:
“Everything has changed,” he said succinctly, “and nothing has changed.”
By Tom Crofton
Recent Dem Candidate for 50th Assembly Seat (8/29/16)
I appreciate the concerns of fellow progressive Dan Roche [Daily Call, 8/27/16] regarding Aug 9th primary losses in WI.
Since mine was personal I’d like to respond to several criticisms mentioned in the Daily Call, not in defense but in hope others can glean something.
Messaging was a part of our strategy and we had several trained Witicoff people writing and editing our words.
We said ” For-profit health insurance is an intentionally predatory business model that needs to be replaced with Badger Care for all”
“Minimum wage = Living Wage”, “Fix our local roads, grow our local economy”, etc.
We used several hundred radio ads and had them targeted to upcoming events.
We scheduled about 20 small brunches in the park (blueberry cakes, sausage, and potatoes; all from local growers), and advertised them door to door, with postcards, and radio, but turnout was too small to continue to hold them.
We had a remarkable parade presence and won the best float in one parade.
Our biggest effort was a face-to-face, door-to-door effort that left literature with our messages, website, and contact info- including my personal cell number – at thousands of doors. Over a period of six months I got calls only five times to answer questions and received only a few emails that asked questions or expressed support.
The winning strategy was to run on the right of my positions and appeal to the upper middle class elements that had felt the bad economy of the last decade in their stock portfolios, but were never threatened greatly with real poverty, and who have rebounded back well enough to not question the whole system. The system is based on exploiting resources and people of lesser means regardless of the outcomes, and disregarding “external costs”.
The idea that Henry Ford paid his people enough to buy the product they were making is considered quaint by those who make six-figure incomes but shop at big box stores. Their liberalism says if we go back a few years we can find a society that worked well enough to not need major reform. I can’t see a time when that was actually true.
The strategy also engaged those who have fought our endless wars to support one of their own without recognizing that wars for fossil fuels are supporting an eco-system-destroying economic machine that needs to be replaced; that the soldiers were being used by the machine for its purpose, not ours, and that a shift to renewables offers a sustainable economic solution that can bring peace and prosperity to all.
Where the real decisions are made
But my strategy depended on those who are suffering the pain of real poverty, who work three jobs to pay deductibles and child care, who are not recovering from the excesses of the rigged system to stand up. They did not. I will accept the blame for not being a better candidate in my presentations. I understand that in my not accepting a role as a “freshman assemblyman who will not be able to do anything” I lost the opportunity to be present in the debates in the back rooms where the real decisions are made.
What I discovered is how the current political environment is really a class-warfare battlefield. Just as the progressives, socialists, and communists in the the early 1900’s in Europe abandoned working class solidarity to slaughter each other on the killing fields of the aristocrats’ WWI in the name of nationalism, so are we in the process of defending, as blue collar workers, brainwashed by materialism and jingoistic phony “Amerikan Exceptionalism”, the gated communities of our “liberal” and neo-liberal neighbors. The 1%-99% mentioned nationally is more like a 15%-85% locally, where the highs are not as high but the lows are very low.
The only choice left
In recent weeks the move of the Clinton campaign towards the right, including hugs from Henry Kissinger, has re-opened my eyes. The parallels to my own campaign are really quite amazing. I am most concerned about the future for our kids. I truly believe we are at, or past, a critical tipping point of climate change and that the pain and suffering coming is completely unnecessary. My failure to find a more public platform to help turn the tide is painful to me. As I look around I see only the Greens talking in similar terms. I believe that short of a new voting system that allows more parties, the Dems need to become the Greens. That won’t happen in small steps to the right, or left.
By Lauren Leatherby & Rich Harris
The Guardian (8/28/16)
The map of competitive states is expanding this year as Donald Trump’s poll numbers dipped to surprising lows in historically red states such as Georgia and Arizona. The last time either state voted Democratic was two decades ago.
But even as the small club of battleground states grows this year, fewer than 10 states will likely determine the outcome of this year’s race.
Relying on the same handful of states to decide the outcome of presidential elections is a fairly recent phenomenon. Just three decades ago, when politics weren’t yet so polarized, all 50 states were up for grabs, swinging between parties from one election to the next.
Looking somber and drained near midnight on 6 November 1984, Democrat Walter Mondale conceded victory to Ronald Reagan in the presidential election after Reagan won 49 of 50 states. Mondale won only his home state of Minnesota.
Such blowout elections may seem incredible today, but Reagan’s win was less exceptional at the time. Just 12 years earlier, in 1972, Richard Nixon also swept 49 out of 50 states against George McGovern to become president. And in 1964, Lyndon B Johnson won 44 states to Barry Goldwater’s six.
That’s in stark contrast to today’s political landscape.
Despite campaign troubles and low favorability ratings, Trump will almost certainly win at least 20 states, if not 25 – half the US – on election night. In a different decade, a candidate plagued by controversial statements, with ahistorically underfunded campaign, and who many party elites have publicly denounced might have been tanking in more states.
The term “swing states” is well known today, but the same few states determining several consecutive presidential elections is a recent occurrence.
The phrase “swing state” wasn’t mentioned in books until the 1950s, according to Google Ngram Viewer, a service that shows how often phrases have been used in texts over time. But between 2000 and 2008, usage of the term more than tripled. During that period, Ohio, Florida, Virginia and a handful of others coalesced into the group we now think of as swing states.
Since 2000, 40 states have voted for the same party’s candidate in all four presidential elections. By contrast, in the four elections between 1984 and 1996, states “swung” more often: only 17 states voted for the same party’s candidate in the four consecutive elections during that period.
Increasing political polarization is a big factor in the swing state phenomenon. The roots of current polarization stretch back to about the 1970s; since then, the parties have become not only more ideologically sorted but also more ideologically divergent, and their members more hostile toward the opposing party.
Liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats used to make up a much larger share of both the US Congress and the broader population. Even a decade ago, conservative Democratic representatives in Congress voted alongside Republicans almost as often as they voted alongside Democrats. Now, conservative Democrats in the House and Senate have been unseated by Republicans, and liberal Republicans have lost their seats to Democrats.
It’s also increasingly rare for members of either party to break party lines when voting, both for ideological reasons and as strategic moves in an increasingly intense competition for party control. …
(Daily Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2015. Open source and free to use with link to www.thedailycall.org )
By Sady Doyle
In These Times (8/26/16)
The Roger Ailes harassment scandal was never just about Roger Ailes. We knew that from the beginning: Gretchen Carlson, the woman whose sexual harassment lawsuit helped topple the Fox News chief (and unleashed a flood of similar harassment and assault allegations) stated that she’d only come into Ailes’ line of sight because she was pursuing remedy for a different instance of workplace discrimination.
The circumstances of Carlson’s suit are indicative of a wider problem. In her suit, Carlson alleges that her Fox & Friends co-host, Steve Doocy, made her life hell by “mocking her during commercial breaks, shunning her off air, refusing to engage with her on air, belittling her contributions to the show, and generally attempting to put her in her place by refusing to accept and treat her as an intelligent and insightful female journalist.” When she reported his behavior, Ailes allegedly called Carlson a “man hater” and told her to “get along with the boys,” eventually demanding sex in return for his intervention.
With all that in mind, can it really be surprising that yet another woman has now come forward to allege sexual harassment—or that the woman in question, Andrea Tantaros, describes Fox News itself as “a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny?”
The specific harassers named are new—Bill O’Reilly, correspondent John Roberts and former Sen. Scott Brown are all named—and so are some details. (Tantaros alleges that after she shot Ailes down the company’s media relations department began arranging bad press for her, even setting up fake social media accounts to attack her online presence with nasty comments.) But the overarching allegation that Ailes “(did) not act alone”—that other men at the network benefited from a system designed to enable sexual harassment and that the system found a way to cover for the accused men and make their female victims disappear—was familiar from Carlson’s suit. The players may change, but the song remains the same, and anyone who’s studied how sexual harassment works has no trouble recognizing this particular tune.
Fox News has declined to comment on Tantaros’ case, citing pending litigation. The network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, released a statement saying it was conducting an internal review of conduct by Ailes and Doocy. Ailes has strenuously denied the accusations against him, as has Brown.
There’s been a lot of ink spilled on Ailes’ personal repugnance over the past few months, but sexual harassment almost never comes down to one corrupt executive. For that matter, the harm done to victims usually doesn’t start with the big, obvious assaults or demands. Sexual harassment is built on minor violations accrued over time—a put-down here, an off-color hint there—until the boundaries of normal workplace behavior have been eroded to the point of collapse, and the major crimes (assault, stalking, quid pro quo demands) can be committed without fear of violating norms.
Though some harassers may be more vicious and more predatory than others, the process of disintegrating those boundaries and establishing an unsafe environment is usually crowdsourced throughout an organization. If harassers don’t think they can get away with something, they won’t do it. Creating an environment in which they can get away with it—and in which they can get away with it precisely because everyone else is already doing it—is part of the process.
To think of sexual harassment as a problem of one bad man is to fall into the fallacy of seeing sexual assault as a crime of passion. Sexual harassment is much more likely to result in someone losing her job than in sex. Someone is unlikely to fall in love or lust because she’s been forced to undress in front of colleagues (something Tantaros alleges Ailes did to her) but she’s very likely to have her job performance compromised by psychological damage or distraction, or gain a reputation as difficult because she can’t safely or comfortably work with certain colleagues, or simply quit because she can’t bear to come into work.
Sexual harassers don’t want sex. They want to push women out of the labor force, which they can easily do by making work more dangerous for women than it is for men.
Though it’s tempting to see the Fox News situation as somehow due to the uniquely horrible politics or personalities of the people involved—and they are, indeed, horrible—workplace environments like that are common enough that up to 1 in 3 women reports experiencing workplace harassment in her lifetime. And while we often envision harassment as coming from a predatory boss, in practice it’s largely a horizontal crime, committed between people whose only real power differential is their gender.
In the above-cited survey, 75 percent of women’s harassment came from male co-workers, and only 38 percent came from male managers. (Female co-workers were also represented on the list—but comprised only 10 percent of perpetrators.) What causes workplace harassment isn’t the politics of the workplace, or even individual power dynamics. The underlying cause is how the organization sees and enforces gender. …
By Nika Knight
Common Dreams (8/28/16)
Germany’s Vice Chancellor and Economic Minister said that the controversial Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has “de facto failed,” admitting that negotiations between the U.S. and E.U. have completely stalled.
“Negotiations with the U.S. have de facto failed, because of course as Europeans we couldn’t allow ourselves to submit to American demands,” Sigmar Gabriel told the German news station ZDF in an interview that will air at 7pm German time Sunday, according to Der Spiegel.
“Everything has stalled,” Gabriel said.
“Nobody is really admitting it,” Gabriel added,according to the Independent.
The Independent reports on the context to Gabriel’s remarks:
The 14th round of [TTIP] negotiations between American and E.U. officials took place in Brussels in July and was the third round in six months.
[…] He said that during the talks neither side had agreed on a single common chapter out of the 27 being deliberated.
The UK-based economic justice group Global Justice Now celebrated Gabriel’s comments. Kevin Smith, a spokesperson for the group, said:
The fact that TTIP has failed is testament to the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the streets to protest against it, the three million people who signed a petition calling for it to be scrapped, and the huge coalition of civil society groups, trade unions and activists who came together to stop it. TTIP would have resulted in a massive corporate power grab, and sovereign democracies across the E.U. would have been deeply compromised.
We’re still not out of the woods in terms of dealing the E.U.’s legacy of toxic trade deals. CETA, the free trade deal between Canada and the E.U. has already been ratified, and if the European Parliament passes it, it will come into effect before the U.K. parliament has had any chance to vote on it. So many of the controversial elements of TTIP would effectively come in through the back door with CETA, and people across Europe are already mobilizing in large numbers to stop this attempted corporate coup just like they have done with TTIP.
In fact, despite noting the failure of the TTIP negotiations, Gabriel still told ZDF that he believes the Canada-E.U. Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is a better agreement than the TTIP—but also observed that it is being perceived by the public as interchangeable with TTIP, according to Deutschlandrundfunk.
Yet CETA is having its own procedural problems, and its future may be in doubt: as CBC reported earlier this month, multiple European countries are still attempting to alter and amend the agreement, and disagree on how to implement the deal—a mere two months before it is supposed to be ratified.
Leaked meeting notes quote Jean-Luc Demarty, E.U. director-general for trade, saying that CETA is a “litmus test” for E.U. trade policy, CBC reports. Demarty reportedly added that an inability to ratify the deal “would be a big credibility problem for the E.U.: it would be ‘close to death.'”
By Alexandra Rosenmann
Trump really can’t win with anyone this week. After repeatedly asking African-American voters “What do you have to lose?” Trump proceeded to participate in a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity Wednesday night, proving himself weak on what is supposedly his signature issue: immigration.
“You also seem to be indicating there might be something other than ‘they have to go back,’” Hannity told Trump, referencing reports that Trump may be softening his plan, which initially included a deportation force for 11 million undocumented immigrants.
“We have to follow the laws of our country,” Trump told Hannity.
“That means they go back,” Hannity said.
“I’ll ask the audience,” Trump said. “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know. You tell me.”
Trump’s far-right fans were not happy with this answer, most notably Ann Coulter, who criticized Trump’s comments Thursday.
“It sounds as if some campaign consultant has slipped into his campaign, and I don’t think he should have been hiring Rubio’s speechwriter for his interview with you giving all these ridiculous talking points for amnesty,” Coulter said.
RINO Pundit took Coulter’s statement and ran with it in a parody video titled Hitler Finds Out Trump Supports Amnesty which uses the 2004 German historical war filmDownfall (Der Untergang), based on Hitler’s Bunker by Joachim Fest.
“Ann Coulter starts her Trump-supporting book tour this week, and we may get through a full week without face-planting,” an adviser appears to tell Hitler, according to RINO Pundit’s subtitles.
“As long as Trump’s pivot isn’t too drastic we should be in the clear,” Hitler says.
“Trump went full-blown amnesty on a Hannity special. He’s using ‘back taxes’ as a way of hiding he’s endorsing the Gang of 8 bill,” the advisers tell him.
“We were the alt-right’s darling for deporting Mexicans and building the wall!” he exclaims.
The New Yorker (8/27/16)
Calling it a “scary moment” and a “close call,” Donald Trump’s campaign officials confirmed that they had recaptured Mike Pence after the Indiana governor attempted to flee the campaign bus in the early hours of Friday morning.
According to the campaign, Pence had asked to stop at a McDonald’s in rural Virginia so that he could use the bathroom, but aides grew concerned when the governor failed to reappear after twenty minutes.
After determining that Pence had given them the slip, Trump staffers fanned out across the Virginia backcountry, where the governor was believed to have fled.
News that Pence had vanished touched off a panic in Indiana, where residents feared that he might return to resume his political career.
After forty-five minutes of searching, however, campaign officials located a bedraggled and dazed Pence walking along Virginia State Route 287, where the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee was attempting unsuccessfully to hitch a ride.
A confrontation that Trump aides characterized as “tense” ensued, after which a sobbing Pence returned to the bus.
In the aftermath of Pence’s disappearance, Hope Hicks, Trump’s press secretary, attempted to downplay the severity of the incident. “This is the kind of thing that happens in the course of a long and demanding campaign,” she said. “Having said that, we’re grateful to have Mike Pence back with us, and we won’t let him get away again.”
Reportedly, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie offered to fill in for Pence in the event that he became unable to fulfill his duties. That offer was declined.
(photo: Little Redfeather Design/Honor the Earth via Indian Country Today)
By Kandi Mossett
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (8/26/16)
This week on CounterSpin: For months now, hundreds and then thousands of indigenous people have been taking part in peaceful protests at the Sacred Stones camp in North Dakota. They’re protesting the construction of what’s called the Dakota Access pipeline, slated to carry fracked oil across the state and across the Missouri River. The Standing Rock Sioux say the Army Corps of Engineers approved the pipeline without their consent. For many people, what’s happening right now in North Dakota is a crucial story of a frontline fight of indigenous people against extractive industry—and on behalf of humanity, really, and the planet.
So far, though, for corporate media, it’s not much of a story at all. As we record, none of the big 3 tv networks have so much as mentioned it.
We’ll hear about the pipeline protests from Kandi Mossett, Native energy & climate campaign organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network. She joins us from the Sacred Stones camp to talk about this evolving, undercovered story.
By Cristian Farias
Huffington Post (8/26/16)
A federal appeals court on Friday seemed to reach a limited compromise in the controversy over Wisconsin’s voter identification law, which has been in the crosshairs of multiple lawsuits and appeals for years.
With one judge recused, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit consolidated the disputes and issued an order that kept the law on the books, but appeared to give voting rights advocates a small consolation prize ahead of the November election.
The court explicitly rejected a softening device ― like one ordered by a federal judge this month in Texas ― that would allow voters lacking the required voter ID card to simply sign an affidavit attesting to their identity before they cast a ballot.
Instead, the court accepted assurances from the state of Wisconsin that its Division of Motor Vehicles would “mail automatically a free photo ID to anyone who comes to DMV one time and initiates the free ID process.”
(Daily Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2016. Open source and free to use with link to www.thedailycall.org )
“No one must present documents, that, for some, have proved challenging to acquire; no one must show a birth certificate, proof of citizenship, and the like,” the court noted, quoting the state from a prior legal filing.
The 7th Circuit stressed that mere “initiation” of this process ― showing up at the DMV, regardless of what documentation the prospective voter has ― was enough for a voter to receive a voting credential at no cost.
But this also presupposes that affected voters, especially those of lesser means or without transportation, actually can make it to a DMV location. Or that the state will actually keep voters informed that this mechanism even exists.
Pointing to other rulings striking down similar voter ID laws in other states, the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought one of the lawsuits against Wisconsin, didn’t seem to trust the state to deliver.
“Two trial courts have found that, over the last five years, Wisconsin has utterly failed to get IDs into the hands of voters who need them,” Sean Young, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s voting rights project, said in a statement. “There’s no reason to believe that the state’s latest eleventh-hour ‘emergency’ procedures will work any better than its past failed policies.”
Young added that the ACLU would keep fighting the law in court, but didn’t say whether he would seek Supreme Court review.
Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, who specializes in election law, wrote in a blog post that, given time constraints ahead of the November election, it’s unlikely that the Supreme Court would intervene.
“I think this is the end of the line for this election,” Hasen wrote.
By Nadia Prupis
Common Dreams (8/26/16)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) this week endorsed a Colorado ballot measure that would create single-payer healthcare in the state, urging his supporters to rally around the amendment and stating, “If that proposal can win in Colorado, I believe that idea will spread around the country.”
“It is absurd, it is beyond belief, that here in America we remain the only major country on earth not to guarantee healthcare to all people,” Sanders said at an event in Vermont on Wednesday, where he offered his official endorsement.
As the Denver Post reports, Colorado Amendment 69—known colloquially as ColoradoCare—would create a universal healthcare system funded by payroll taxes that would largely replace private health insurance. People could still choose to keep their own, although they would still be required to pay the tax.
Support for the measure from Sanders carries a lot of political weight; not only was universal healthcare a cornerstone of his presidential campaign—one of the signature issues that endeared him to progressive voters—but he also won the Colorado caucus in March.
Owen Perkins, a spokesperson for the ColoradoCareYES campaign, said in a statement this week that “It’s hard to imagine a figure whose support of ColoradoCare is more meaningful than Senator Sanders.”
“No one has done more to elevate the idea of Medicare-for-all in the United States in recent years, and by bringing the notion of universal healthcare into stadiums, auditoriums, town halls, and living rooms throughout the country, Senator Sanders has helped create the ideal environment for passing ColoradoCare,” Perkins said.
If Colorado approves the amendment, it will be the first state in the nation to implement single-payer healthcare. And as Health Care for All Colorado executive director Donna Smith told Common Dreams in November, that could have national implications, because “we are not relying on the elected officials to advance universal healthcare.”
“This may be a way for other states to learn from our work in Colorado and also pursue single-payer reform at the ballot as a way to overcome some of the political inertia that settles in when so many powerful, monied interests hold court over the legislative process,” Smith said at the time. “The ballot measure…is about much more than achieving healthcare justice. It is also about citizens coming together and using the democratic process to successfully achieve healthcare justice.”
(This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.)
Stephen Colbert injecting himself with an EpiPen because he’s allergic to douche.
By Tom Boggioni
The Raw Story (8/27/16)
Prior to a riff on why actor Ian McKellan turned down over a million dollars to marry former Napster exec Sean Parker, while dressed as Gandaldf — which should delight Lord of the Ring fans — Stephen Colbert took some shots at Mylan exec Heather Bresch for jacking up the price on life-saving EpiPens.
Colbert began by noting that — under Bresch — the price of EpiPens has jumped for $100 for a pair to over $600, telling his audience to not go into shock over the price jump because they can no longer afford the pens.
With Mylan saying the price increase better reflects the product’s “value,” Colbert added, “Now to be clear, that value is saving the lives of people who can’t breathe. Or, as Mylan likes to calls them: ‘gasping cash-filled meatsacks.’”
The late night host then linked Mylan head Bresch to Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli following having to inject himself with an EpiPen after seeing a picture of Shkreli and explaining, “That was a close one. I’m severely allergic to douche.”
Sharing a clip of Bresch defending the price increase on CNBC by saying, “No one is more frustrated than me,” Colbert ridiculed her response.
“She’s ‘frustrated,’” Colbert smirked. “I mean the tone-deafness of that just takes your breath away — and getting your breath back will cost you over 600 bucks.”
Watch the video below via YouTube:
(Daily Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2016. Open source and free to use with link to www.thedailycall.org )
By Cayla Dengate
Huffington Post (8/25/16)
Climate change began long before humans started tracking it and new data taken directly from the earth’s oceans and living things shows our global warming targets are off by about half a century.
While scientists previously determined climate change data from instrumental records that began in the late 1800s, a new study published in Nature on Thursday looked for telltale signs of change in coral growth, ocean sediment, ice cores, tree rings and cave stalagmites.
Lead researcher Nerilie Abram said these natural records began changing long before humans started taking measurements.
“We wanted to ask the question ‘when did climate change begin?’ And our direct observations were not long enough, so we turned to these natural recorders,” the paleo climate scientist told The Huffington Post Australia.
“When we saw the results, it was quite astounding.
“We questioned the result. We questioned our research methods. We questioned everything but that was the result that stuck — the effects of climate change started to be seen about 180 years ago.”
Abram told HuffPost Australia the research had important implications for global climate change targets.
“It’s a project we’ve been working on for four years of hard slog science. I’s nice to step back and see what we achieved, but also to see how it fits into the bigger conversation around the world.
“Scientists met in Geneva last week to talk about the [COP21 Agreement’s] very ambitious target to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. We’re already very close to the 1.5 degree target, but this earlier component of warming that we’ve shown pushes us even closer.
“Even without this contribution of extra earlier warming, we don’t have long before we hit those warming targets.”
Climate Council professor Will Steffen said the research was a dire warning to today’s ever-increasing population.
“In the first half of the 1800s, the human population was much smaller, homes did not have electricity and coal-fired power generation was in its infancy,” Steffen said.
“And yet this study finds that Earth’s climate was still responding to the small increase in carbon emissions at the start of the Industrial Age.
“Last month was the hottest month in the history of the Earth and 2016 is likely to be the third year in a row to break global temperature records.
“This study demonstrates that human influence on the climate system can be traced back to centuries ago, but that those 19th century changes were small and slow compared to the massive, planet-wide changes in climate we are experiencing today.”
Nature’s watchful sentinels
Abram said the research project began at Australian National University because she had a hunch the ocean could tell climate scientists about its history.
“The oceans are really important and have been largely overlooked,” she said.
“In the tropical oceans, we used coral records for information because corals grow a lot like trees and their rings, every year they put down another layer of their skeleton, and as the chemistry of the ocean changes, so too does their structure.
“It was quite hard to find the big living corals but once we had them, the living part of the coral is only on the very upper surface so what’s below is all old skeleton that’s been laid down and can be drilled out.
“It’s challenging to go back in time more than 400 years, then we need to look at other things like sediment cores.”
In the murky mud of the ocean floor are layers of tiny shell creatures, that lived their life absorbing chemicals in the ocean and kept that information encoded in their shells.
“It seems like sand and mud but these sediments contain the organisms and the chemicals they absorbed form the ocean surface while they were alive.”
Ice cores in the Arctic and the Antarctic completed the picture, along with tree rings and cave systems.
“They’re all telling us the same thing,” Abram said.
“I hope it gives an extra push to the urgency of climate change. We need to get into tacking this problem very, very quickly.”
By Andrea Germanos
Common Dreams (8/26/16)
President Barack Obama’s creation on Friday of the world’s largest marine protected area drew praise from lawmakers, Hawaiian community members, and environmental groups alike, who say it will help protect biodiversity and increase resilience in the face of climate change.
Obama is expanding the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii, more than quadrupling it in size to 582,578 square miles.
A White House fact sheet says the expansion, which also bans commercial resource extraction, will afford “critical protections for more than 7,000 marine species,” “improve ocean resilience,” and help preserve “resources of great historical and cultural significance.”
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), who was among those who had proposed the expansion to the president, praised the move, calling it “one of the most important actions an American president has ever taken for the health of the oceans.” He noted, however, that it was “only beginning” because “management, research, educational opportunities, and enforcement” need to follow.
Similarly welcoming the move was Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), who said the expansion “will help to combat climate change, preserve biodiversity, and honor cultural traditions.”
Milletseed butterflyfishes in 2009 in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Credit: Greg McFall (Photo: NOAA’s National Ocean Service/flickr/cc)
Calling it “a bold decision that will have lasting benefits for Hawaii’s unique ecosystem,” Greenpeace oceans campaign director John Hocevar said, “Setting aside areas closed to fishing, drilling, and other extractive uses is the best way to protect biodiversity, rebuild depleted fish populations, and increase the resilience of marine ecosystems so they can better withstand the impacts of climate change.”
Yet, he added, “Bolder steps are still needed” as “Less than two percent of the world’s oceans are protected from fishing, and many scientists suggest a target of 40 percent.”
That target, he continued, “in remote areas as well as those closer to home—will help preserve the health of our oceans and our communities.”
Thousands of signatures had already been delivered to call for the expansion.
Ashley Watts, a marine biologist, wrote that it “would not only protect critical ocean resources at a time when they’re under threat, it would also be the best thing in the long run for fishermen and lovers of Hawaii seafood.” The calls came from younger community members as well, like five-year-old Zeke from Maui who said the expansion would “help protect our ocean and sea life,” or a 14-year-old who argued that “every generation that comes is responsible for protecting this Earth that is all of our homes.”
Other communities members stressed a different point: “I believe the United States has a moral obligation to protect the resources in that area for the time when the United States de-occupies our nation so we can resume control of what is actually ours,” said one man at a public forum.
Obama’s announcement comes just ahead of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress, which will be convening in Honolulu, and a day after the National Park Service celebrated its 100th birthday.
Papahānaumokuākea was first declared a national monument in 2006 by President George W. Bush, and it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. A press statement from the Department of the Interior explains that Papahānaumokuākea’s “biological and geographic isolation, coupled with singular oceanographic and geological conditions, have produced some of the most unique and diverse ecological communities on the planet.”
Marine life scored another win this week when Chile created the 186,433 square-mile Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park. “In times when oceans are hit by the overexploitation of species, pollution, and phenomena such as climate change, the protection of these islands means a great step forward for oceans in Chile and the rest of the world,” said Liesbeth van der Meer, executive director of Oceana Chile.
(This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.)
RoundRiver Institute LLC