Can I Get Some Justice?

From a Google Image Search – CNN.com

Can I Get Some Justice?

I hear this in my head to the tune of ‘Can I Get a Witness? Have courts always been partisan and I just fell for the hype that courts were above parties and politics? OK, I was naïve. But have courts become even more partisan than ever. Is there less middle ground. Is there nothing between a liberal view and a conservative view? If all ideologies are polar opposites how can courts avoid being partisan? You either respect women’s right to make decisions about their own bodies, or you consider abortion murder. You either agree that executive power has few limits or you agree that there are limits and checks and balances on the executive. Do Presidents and Vice Presidents have to show their taxes or not? Can social media muffle a President when remarks seem unpresidential or inappropriate? How many times can a decision made by one judge be overturned on appeal in another court? Can you just pick and choose a court that has a judge with an ideology that matches yours? Were these ever things we questioned before? Did we have these questions but the divide between courts is wider now?

Apparently, if you don’t like the decision of one court you can just appeal in another court that is the province of a more sympathetic judge. Look at how long Trump has been able to drag out the question of whether he needs to show us his taxes or not. What happened recently in the Flynn case where Judge Sullivan was overruled by Barr is another long story. The contretemps over the Southern District of New York with the turf war between Berman and Barr shows more of the battle of the judges.

George Bush (Rep.) appointed 2 Justices to the Supreme Court, 62 judges to the Court of Appeals (conservatives), 261 judges to the District Courts (conservatives). 

Obama (Dem.) in eight years appointed 2 Supreme Court Justices, 55 judges to the Court of Appeals (liberals) and 268 judges to the District Courts (liberals). He was blocked by Mitch McConnell from even nominating a third Justice to the Supreme Court although there was an opening.

The Trump administration in four years has appointed 2 Justices to the Supreme Court (conservatives), 53 judges to the Court of Appeals (conservatives) and 143 to the District Courts (conservatives). 44 nominations await Senate action and there are only 71 vacancies remaining on the US District Court benches. 

This gives us federal courts where conservatives have the edge they have been striving for: 

Court of Appeals – 115 Republican appointments. 55 Democratic appointment

US District Courts – 404 Republican appointments. 268 Democratic appointments

It is unclear if Bush or Obama made appointments by party, but we know that Trump has only nominated judges from a list drawn up by the Federalist Society, so we know that these appointments were made along the Republican party line.

Of course, only rich people usually get to play this ‘game of courts’ because appealing over and over is very expensive and many Americans cannot even make bail in one city or county court. But if you are wealthy you can apparently shop for the justice you want and even if you can’t pick your judge you might be able to pick the district in which you file and in which the case will be brought. If at first you don’t succeed keep trying. And if you are this President you have an entire Justice Department at your disposal to make your legal outcomes so. Bill Barr was exactly the AG Trump dreamed about. There has been quite enough dream fulfillment for this one man who always wants more. Will we ever trust our courts to be nonpartisan? Time to reform the justice system in America and not just because it is racist, it is also elitist and not the least bit blind.

Atavistic Attitudes

Washingtonian

Democrats have tried to tackle race inequality before and they were shut down by Conservatives in the Republican Party, some of whom are racists who never got over losing the Civil War and who nursed their racial myths, hated Northern liberals, and felt that the generals who lost the Civil War were heroes. There are Americans who seem to think that wiping out Americans of African Descent, brought here by their own ancestors into slavery, is justified; that they should be terrorized and killed, either separately or in groups until they leave. (America is their country; where would they go?) At least a campaign to decimate this population appears to be true if you keep track of black deaths at the hands of white folks and the police. In 2020 a law was just introduced by Kamala Harris and Cory Booker that would make lynching illegal. Do you know any white folks who were ever lynched?

In the 60’s the nation was made aware of the dissatisfaction of our fellow citizens with black and brown skin. The Black Panthers showed America what it could be like if black Americans decided to get really angry and militant. Citizen demonstrations by black Americans arose in a number of American cities and neighborhoods. Perhaps you heard about the demonstrations in Watts which turned destructive and were labeled as “riots.” Race “riots” were effective in that they scared legislators into thinking about laws that could be passed and actions that could be taken. Solutions split into two camps. One group, mostly composed of liberals, agreed that our treatment of our black neighbors had been appalling and that what was needed was an investment of time and money and opportunity focused on lifting up black folks in our inner cities for the most part. Of course, the squeaky wheel gets the grease so bigger cities got more resources. During the administration of LBJ programs to educate and offer good health care and encourage entrepreneurship in our cities proliferated. 

Republican legislators were frightened by the violence enough to try these lefty ideas although they hated them and never let Democrats forget that they felt this approach was wrong. Even then Republicans had no faith that the government could solve societal or economic problems. But what they really believed is that Black Americans were lazy and flawed and that they were incapable of adopting the behaviors of successful white folks. They were uneducable and had no work ethic. They were simply a bunch of drunks and criminals and any money spent on such programs would be wasted money. They sabotaged these programs with one hand while they voted for them with the other. They added rules and restrictions that made taking part in many of these programs embarrassing or difficult. The government built housing but only in certain neighborhoods where poverty practically guaranteed that the building would be substandard and overcrowded. There was optimism on the left and the self-fulfilling prophecy of predictions of failure on the right; in fact, Conservatives Republicans made sure that failure was built in so they could say ‘I told you so.’

Then the right came back in the 80’s and 90’s and claimed that these programs had been abject failures; that they had no effect on lifting up inner city black folks. The self-fulfilling prophecy ‘bombs’ built into the programs had muffled their effectiveness. But it was not true that no one was lifted up. The number of Americans of African Descent in the middle class grew. Head Start programs did help children do better in school. Small businesses did spring up, but without any nurturing from above they often failed and added to the burden of hopelessness. Home ownership improved for a few, but because of redlining many people were imprisoned in their inner city neighborhoods without the resources to find housing in diverse, upscale neighborhoods or they owned homes that were undervalued. Real estate is at the base of much generational wealth. Such wealth could only be found in the inner cities residents felt by becoming a professional athlete, a musician, or engaging in some form of criminal or gang activity. Imagine if these were the only choices white children had?

As the programs failed and some in the inner cities turned to gangs for power and family loyalty, criminal activity increased in our inner cities. Guns appeared on our city streets. Families in these neighborhoods who hoped for a better future for their children found that their children got sucked into gangs, each with a pitifully small turf of city territory that they had to protect and defend against intrusion by other gangs. Did anyone get rich? A few gang leaders flashed cash and fancy cars, but it did not trickle down to the regular troops. Gangs have ended up being a sort of pyramid scheme. Conservatives began to slip the words ‘law and order’ into every conversation. What they meant is that we need our police forces to declare war on these behaviors and put these criminals, big and small, young and old, but only black or brown or poor, into jail cells. Getting them off the streets will solve the problems. They were successful at busting gangs, using old mafia laws, like RICO laws to convict in the courts. “Being nice to them won’t work”, Republican said. “We told you so. Put the fear of the law in them. Let them live out their lives in prison.” It became a kind of exile right here in America. Racists avoided having to find a nation or an island to ship people of color off to. Did it work? Did our inner cities become oases of civil society, the arts and opportunities to advance economically. No ‘law and order’ did not work. No, although our cities contain many creative and positive elements we could not exactly grant them oasis status.

So, here we are once again, trying to find out how to rid ourselves of our racism and of the damage it does to black and brown Americans and to the ideals America was supposed to stand for. And we are divided in exactly the same ways we have always been. Democrats still say that opportunity, that welcoming Americans of African Descent into diverse communities with great schools and lots of adult mentoring for any children who struggle educationally is the only correct pathway out of racial discrimination and inequality. Once we recover from the economic setbacks of the coronavirus, reparations to make up for the lack of chances to build up generational wealth, for the land robbed from black folks, for the lives destroyed or ended, would definitely be in order.

But Democrats are not in control and the current administration, right down to the lowliest new Republican representative or senator believes that ‘law and order,’ the baton and the tear gas, the hoses and the rubber bullets, the dogs and the real bullets are the only language that black and brown Americans will understand. They see no injustice here. All they see is people flaunting the rule of law and the power brokers. They still refuse to accept that their own hatred and fear caused the tragic suppression of black and brown people in America. Until Republicans are voted out, and Conservatives are ignored to become a circular echo chamber pontificating only to each other, until then, we cannot do the things that need to be done; pass the laws that need to be passed, spend the resources that need to be spent and try, just try to humbly apologize for what has been done and what has not been done. And then we have other shortcomings to make up for as well. Do not let that ‘law and order’ cry win the day. Vote in the Democrats and since we are a big tent party  we will find ways to lose racism forever and to try, once again, to live up to the uncompromised ideals of the American republic/democracy. If the Democrats lose in 2020 you get Trump’s Troops and apparently the entire military might of the United States in our streets. Republicans cannot and will not change the way they think; their atavistic attitudes.

Washingtonian

” The Only Good Democrat is a Dead Democrat”

From a Google Image Search – Restavek Freedom blog

“The Only Good Democrat is a Dead Democrat”.

Trump praised this statement (he did not say it himself) on Twitter. The statement was made in a video by a commissioner in New Mexico and a Trump supporter. The guy from New Mexico said he did not mean the statement literally, but it is entirely possible, given Trump’s constant moves to suppress the Democratic vote, the way he praises his gun-toting followers/defenders, his resolve to end coronavirus protocols as soon as he learned that it was attacking (and killing) mainly minorities and seniors (although he is a senior) is perceived by Himself, (does he actually perceive or does his gut just burble satisfaction when he listens to its urgings) to be perfectly justified because the Democrats are at the top of his enemies list. Democrats are not seen as people, just targets for vengeance and if you happen to be a Democrat how can you not be frightened by this, and forewarned?

We the people who are still rational and believe in a common morality are trying to avoid an explosive confrontation with Trump until after we see what happens in the 2020 election, and I guess we owe it to our founders to make the most of this last tool in the Constitutional toolbox. But if cops keep killing black folks we may lose it. That may even be what these acts are: provocations to get us to respond physically against these wrongful acts. 

We want to see the police as protectors and defenders against antisocial acts, but watching three cops with knees on a supine man in handcuffs who is not resisting arrest hardly projects an image that is respectful of citizens. Even if there is history between the arresting officer and George Floyd, that was not the basis that was given for this arrest. Supposedly Mr. Floyd passed a counterfeit $20 bill. If I had a counterfeit $20 bill would I even know it was counterfeit? Would I lose my life? Maybe, I am a Democrat, but probably not because I do not have pigmented skin. 

We the people do not want this awful pattern to play out over and over again. It is racist: it is wrong: and it is tragic. It is a tragedy we do not need in a world that is already quite tragic enough. It is also unnecessary because if a stimulus bill focused on those at the bottom of the economy passed it might have kept poverty at bay. So this explosion is not just the province of the city of Minneapolis or the police; it is also on Mitch McConnell’s plate, the President’s plate and the Republicans in the Senate own it too. They all own this because they refuse to see that when people are robbed of economic hope they may have to resort to desperate measures, which may be the true cause of all the current tensions in American society. This, along with anger at centuries of discrimination, may help explain the looting. America has had black Americans under a knee, or many knees since they were brought here in slavery. The knee pressure may lighten at times, but in times like this, when a virus is depressing our economy that pressure is getting stronger each day as the unemployment rate rises and the food stamps are cut.

The federal government must help the people at the bottom, the people whose upward trajectory literally ended up on life support. If you don’t and you start killing those who are left without adequate food or support systems you will start something you may not be able to end. The President also tweeted, “once there is looting, there will be shooting, quoting a Floridian from 1967.” The President may declare that he did not say that he would favor violence, but he has telegraphed violence often enough that denial seems strictly pro forma. 

If we continue down this road we are on, the racism, the vigilantes with long guns, we the people will have to arm ourselves and get ready for the second civil war in America history. A majority of Americans cannot continue to rationalize inaction and allow our nation to be turned into something unspeakable. There are Democrats who own guns, of course, but the left does not have armed militias. In a war who would our soldiers back, who would our policemen back? It could be a massacre and we know it. Do we go with Malcolm X or do we stay with Martin Luther King? There are 200 new right-wing judges on federal courts for life. The things we object to may become the law of the land. Are the sheeple just the people who love Trump and worship him, or are the sheeple any of us who put up with his twisted governance. I have never been in a war; I do not want to be in a war, but, like the abolitionists all over America and the world who fought with words and then with guns in the first civil war which ended slavery, but did not end racism; if police continue to pick off black folks one death at a time we will have to prepare a response that is powerful enough to show that we do not now and never will tolerate racism in America any longer. 

Trump Effects on School Bullying

Reuters – Jonathan Ernst – Washington Post

The Southern Poverty Law Center recently conducted a survey of a wide array of American public schools about bullying. They have published their results in a PDF and also in a non-PDF format.

What they found from educator reports is that school bullying, always a problem, had taken a Trumpian turn. Students and even teachers were cited for attacks on minorities, immigrants, Muslims and many of these attacks invoked Trump by name. “Trump is building a wall to keep you out.” “Trump will ban all Muslims and deport you.” “Trump will send all black people back to Africa.” Some teachers teach that Trump is a good man and they do not report children for using xenophobic and racist taunts. Children feel threatened and find little support from administration. Children have had to transfer schools and get counselling. 

Here are some of the findings of the SPLC, an admittedly left-leaning organization fighting racism and xenophobia for decades. I know that we often hear truths called ‘biases’ these day, but that does not matter. This organization has paid its dues and done the work and kept our attention on discrimination and unfairness and injustice, a mission that is even more important now. 

“Here are the highlights: from the Southern Poverty Law Center survey:

• More than two-thirds of the teachers reported that students—mainly immigrants, children of immigrants and Muslims—have expressed concerns or fears about what might happen to them or their families after the election. 

• More than half have seen an increase in uncivil political discourse. 

• More than one-third have observed an increase in anti-Muslim or anti-immigrant sentiment. 

• More than 40 percent are hesitant to teach about the election. 

We also know that questions in a survey can be designed to elicit data that reflects the bias of the organization doing the questioning, but there is also anecdotal evidence published in this article and in a Washington Post article to back up the claims that Trumpian-style bullying is on the increase in our schools.

From the Southern Poverty Law article:

“Students do not understand why this has become such an angry and dishonorable campaign. They are taught better behavior by their teachers, and then they see this mess on TV and are confused.” 

Omak, Washington 

“Openly racist statements towards Mexican students have increased. Mexican students are worried.” Anaheim, California 

“Students have become very hostile to opposing points of view, regardless of the topic. Any division now elicits anger and personal attacks.” Jefferson, Georgia 

From the Washington Post article:

“However, a 2016 online survey of over 10,000 kindergarten through 12th-grade educators by the Southern Poverty Law Center found that more than 2,500 “described specific incidents of bigotry and harassment that can be directly traced to election rhetoric,” although the overwhelming majority never made the news. In 476 cases, offenders used the phrase “build the wall.” In 672, they mentioned deportation.”

Washington Post

At first I wondered why TV media did not pick up this story and make a bigger deal of it. That would be the normal way to behave. But then I remembered that times are anything but normal. Making this a prominent story in the media might escalate the bullying and the threat level. It is also entirely possible that since the source of the story is the Southern Poverty Law Center it could be dismissed as left wing propaganda too easily. Regardless of the reason, the import of this data about school bullying is just another aspect of many ‘fascist’ influences in Trump’s America. Sadly the only remedy we have to change the national dialogue rests on the 2020 election which the media is turning into a anti-Democratic Party field day. While it is true that the Democrats seem to be in some disarray, each of the Democrats have policies that could change the script from pleasing billionaires to meeting the needs of we the working people. And a primary is a contest. I wish the media did not have to go all sensationalist to attract reader/watchers. This will be a very consequential election indeed. Our children are at stake.

MLK Day: Racism and Memory

From a Google Image Search – WSFA.com

There are a couple of things I would like to say on this Monday in 2020 as we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s day. Since MLK and I lived through the same times he loomed large in the news, and he still looms large in my memories of those days. So first I will tell you a little story and then I will tell you something I read in the newspaper today that would, if he were still alive, inspire MLK to fight on, because sadly discrimination is still all too real. 

I was, as a young adult, a hippie. Weird word, hippie, I guess it was supposed to refer to how “hip” we were. I did not wear flowers in my hair, but I went to concerts in the park and danced to the music and I learned. I learned about the military-industrial complex, and about losing our guys in a war that was not our war. I learned that women were tired of being second class citizens and that from now on we wanted to have our needs and rights taken into consideration. And I learned about racism, which I knew of, but had not seen close up and ugly. 

Martin Luther King was a bit older than me. By the time I was 20, he was 34, five years away from his death by assassination. America was in the midst of displaying racial ignorance all over our TVs for the whole world to see. I did not take a bus south. I had my own apartment and had to work. I did march in a demonstration or two. And no matter how much I wanted to I could not take my eyes off my TV when I was home from work. 

Here are well-dressed, peaceful people just walking together in their dignity to ask for their rights as American citizens; not separate rights that were supposed to be separate but equal and weren’t equal at all, but just to be left alone to work, live, eat, and travel as freely as any other American. The difference between what America stands for and how America betrays its ideals was never as clear as when those powerful streams of water pouring from fire hoses hit those brave marchers, knocking them to the ground, ruining their best clothing, putting some in the hospital, and striking fear in my heart because something was happening in America that was incomprehensible.

In the midst of all this show of hate, one of my friends decided that we should spend a Sunday in a local storefront Pentecostal church. She was a braver girl than I was, I secretly felt we would be intruding and might not be welcome. But we were welcomed in that church. We were accepted and then petted and called out as “pretty flowers who wandered into the midst of the congregation.” We were blessed and encouraged to go forward and let the minister lay his blessed hands upon us. It was an enlightening experience, an experience that lives vividly still in my memory. And it was impossible not to contrast our warm welcome with the hate playing out daily on my TV. I mourned the sins of the white people in my nation, a nation I had always been proud of – until living in a diverse neighborhood as a hippie girl, opening up my mind to things that never impacted me growing up in my safe suburb. Perhaps we don’t all have these moments of revelation, but I did.

You would think that watching this racial hate play out would have given vent to all the negative prejudices arising out of nothing except the color of one’s skin and that we would have been left burned clean of hate and embracing our differences. That is not the case as we know. Here, at the beginning of the 21st century we see how deeply we have nourished the roots of our racism. We have watched black men killed for the thinnest of reasons and we have seen that there are Americans who must proclaim that ‘Black Lives Matter’. Why would an athlete who has achieved his dream of sports stardom, feel the need to take a knee when he hears the Star Spangled Banner? If racism were not alive and well there would be no need to face white derision by seemingly disrespecting America, when you are really just asking for what should already belong to you. 

That’s the story I promised, and here is the news. In today’s New York Times is a story about what Ben Carson, as Trump’s head of Housing and Urban Development is doing these days. We have been made aware of redlining and how it was used to keep some neighborhoods white and some neighborhoods black, to keep us separate. But today my own city was mentioned in this national article as a city that has refused to reassess homes in black neighborhoods, that has left these houses with assessments that are too high and which have allowed the city to collect more tax dollars in this segregated neighborhood than they do in wealthier sections of the city where, inexplicably, assessments are lower. 

Now Ben Carson plans to make it more difficult to fight these outdated assessments, to go before the city and present a case for reassessment. It is quite technical and diabolical. In order to make a case for reassessment you must present a list of every reason the city could give for turning you down and then you must refute each argument. In other words, you must now possess some kind of assessment ESP that, of course, does not exist. You must read the city’s mind, a city that can just invent new reasons for why they cannot offer you a reassessment. This directly affects the wealth that should accrue to black homeowners, and does accrue to white people every day from owning a house. 

The article also discusses “balloon loans” which make an initial mortgage payment affordable and then raises it out of reach at a later date. All this creativity expended to keep black people from succeeding in America – no wonder we are becoming a decaying nation. We are putting our creative talents to use in the service of the wrong tasks. Martin Luther King, Jr., you left us way too soon, the battle not nearly done, and I’m sorry if your sadness at the evils in the world will not allow you unalloyed enjoyment of the joys of the afterlife. 

2020 Election: Money, Racism, Misogyny, Brutality

From a Google Image Search – Big Blue Tent – Travel Wisconsin

Today, 1.13.2020, Cory Booker dropped out of the 2020 race. America lost out on Kamala Harris. And Julian Castro. The press is pointing out the ironies of a “big tent” party, a party that would like to back so-called “minorities” like Americans of African descent and Americans of Spanish descent and women (not a minority at all but still classified as such). In fact any Democratic candidate who is trying to run a grassroots-funded campaign will continue to be in trouble in the race for office in 2020. 

Democrats are strong opponents of the Citizens United decision which, in a sense, gave votes to corporations, to money (not an organic life form) and to wealthy Americans (they can buy votes with ads and deeply-strategized ground games). If you saw Rachel Maddow’s wall graph showing the campaign war chest for each Democrat in the 2020 presidential race (except Mr. Deval) then you saw the enormous funds backing the billionaires and you saw the puny amounts raised from individual voters. Our donations are small and they still impact our personal budgets. It begins to seem ridiculous to even bother sending in our ones, tens and fifties. We are each a David fighting a Goliath and it is becoming clear to us that even hundreds of thousands of us are unable to make even a dent in what the Goliaths can come up with. And, although they may feel pained by their enormous expenditures, we know they will not be poor when this is all done.

So it is interesting to note that there is not a pool of Americans of African Descent who can run as billionaire candidates even though African Americans have been in American longer than most of our ancestors. Racism and its effects on black fortunes couldn’t require any clearer evidence than this. Nor is there a pool, or big enough pool, of billionaires of Spanish descent, or billionaire women to try to buy the Presidency. This election looks difficult enough without trying to inject financial purity into it.

There is also the Trump factor infecting all of our decisions about the perfect 2020 candidate, and it is hardly inconsequential. Trump has the charisma that Jack Nicholson displayed as the Devil in the film Witches of Eastwick, which some of you probably did not see because you are too young. For a while that devil charmed us all, until he didn’t. (The analogy seems to fall apart because some of us have never been charmed by Donald Trump, but it is apt in many ways.) Time marches on and we have now seen many sides of Donald that never bothered us much as long as he wasn’t our President. One of his worst sides is his belief in white supremacy and another is his misogyny. Lying of course, and cheating are also sins that have served him well in getting elected.

Because Trump runs a very duplicitous, alpha male, white-Europeans-rule kind of race Democrats realize that he would, most likely, have greater success demonizing minority candidates than he would against white male candidates, although they have not proven better at standing up to Trump’s patter (which should not work). We worry that with all the racist undercurrents being called forth once again in America and all the anti-immigrant feelings being whipped up and with the fact that Trump empowers white men (who knew they needed to be more empowered) a “minority candidate” could be brutalized in the 2020 election and that however hard they punched, Trump’s long years of practice with counterpunching and his lessons from expert counterpunchers like Roy Cohn and his dad, would leave these opponents bloodied and would give us four more years of a ruinous Trump presidency. Perhaps we are simply being protective of the members of our party most likely to be obliterated by the meanest old man we have ever encountered who isn’t spending his senior years in a recliner.

I’m still reading David Blight’s biography of Frederick Douglass (it’s a long one). Mr. Douglass’s long career as a warrior who used words to fight slavery, which he understood intimately having been a slave himself, made him feel a bit despondent at the actual unfolding of the Reconstruction which was bloody and deadly for freed slaves in the south. But he immediately recognized that many white slave owners feared reprisals. He also recognized that the South never had to feel the real sting of losing the Civil War. These slave states were welcomed almost immediately back into the Union and as soon as the war was over many southerners returned to serve in the Senate and the House. By then Douglass could see that being set free did not mean that southern hearts had been changed. They still saw black folks as inferior to whites and they certainly did not want them to vote or own land or amass fortunes. Douglass would be saddened to know that these racist elements still exist in America, and be appalled by the amount of time that has passed, as time should have changed such prejudices far more than it has. He rejoiced when the 15th amendment gave freed slaves the vote, but despaired at the horrific backlash in some southern states. 

It is such a sad commentary on American progress with respect to acceptance and tolerance, that in what could be America’s  “space age” (if we aren’t too engrossed in simply trying to survive), we are still fighting the Civil War and battling for equal rights for Americans of color and for women (who achieved the right to vote last).

Don’t be too hard on the Democrats right now because we can only conjecture, run the numbers, employ a great ground game and accept what a tough road it could be to beat this bad man who is still an incumbent and who has both the Republicans and the Fundamentalist vote-getting machinery behind him.

Who’s Coup-ing Who?

Who’s ‘Coup-ing’ Who?

Often we think of a government coup as a revolution, an attempt by one ideological group to wrest the reins of government from those currently in power. We see it as a quick bloody battle where the perpetrators run a risk of death or imprisonment if they don’t succeed. If those in power lose then a new leader sits in the seat of power and sets policy. Those who rise to power can execute, imprison, or exile the ousted leader and his/her followers.

Overturning a leader through a democratic election usually is not considered a coup. Donald Trump is trying to change that. He claims that the Democratic Party is attempting a coup against him. The House is attempting to take over the executive branch, he says. Of course, in this case the Democrats in the House of Representatives are exercising legal prerogatives assigned to them in the Constitution of the United States. Congress is supposed to act as a check if the executive branch looks as if it has gone rogue. All that means is that they are allowed to ask questions and collect facts to make sure that a President and others in the Executive Branch are upholding their oath “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”. The Constitution and historical practice places few limits on the investigative powers of the House or Senate Congressional Committees. Congress has oversight responsibilities over the Executive Branch. Investigation is Congress’s superpower.

Trump is a master of the craft of twisting reason until our brains feel ready to explode. He is claiming that the Democratic representatives in the House are using (or planning to use) their investigative powers to take over the Executive Branch and thereby, take over the American government. They are using the Constitution to invalidate the Constitution. (Did your brain explode yet?)

It is possible to have a bloodless coup, a coup whereby one political party pushes another political party out of power through chicanery and rigging elections. This kind of coup can take some time. Coups are things that generally happen in what we once named “third world countries”, countries where democracy is ‘iffy’, in places that are now labelled “illiberal democracies”- democracies in name only. We are supposed to be a “stable democracy”, well-established; the democracy, against which all others are measured.

But we have a President who accuses the Democratic Party of being traitors to the nation, of trying to turf him out of office and take over the government through a legal procedure called “impeachment”. Or perhaps, he asserts, they want to damage him so badly that he loses the 2020 election ( while at the same time he claims this is impossible.) Yes, he is obviously a desperate man, but he is accusing the Democrats of being traitors, guilty of treason!, just to wiggle out of having the nation hear the possible proofs of his bad behaviors.

He says that the Democrats are partisan, so they cannot be objective. Well that’s when I have to ask, “who’s coup-ing who”? The Democrats only appear to be partisan because the Republican Party has put them in that position. When Mitch McConnell said that he would obstruct everything Obama did he meant it and the GOP was behind all the disrespect towards Obama and the Dems that people insisted on blaming on both parties. It was the GOP who refused to do the compromise negotiations that have made our basically two-party system work. With obstruction, if one party absolutely refuses to compromise the other party must either capitulate completely or join in the standoff. Which party is partisan? Both I guess, but one by design, and one by default. The Republican Party has not stopped opposing the Democratic Party to this day.

We are in a pitched battle. It seems to be about the size of government and whether or not government should pay for programs that benefit the American people. It now seems to be also about whether or not America will be, going forward, a white, Christian nation. We are in this battle because industry fled and money went to safe havens and all the blood (money) went to the head (the wealthiest). Do we keep wealth inequality because these wealthy people deserve what they have (according to them)? We know what happens biologically when our lower body is deprived of blood flow. Will the same thing happen if less and less money ‘trickles down’ to those who are not at the very top of the social heap? Will the society die from within?

This picture of the future does not bother the Republicans, in fact they seek it, they are trying to hold on to this lop-sided distribution of life’s blood (which sadly, right now, is money). The Democrats would like to be the party of balance, of restoring a democracy which is fast disappearing The Democrats are not the ones who denied giving even a hearing to a legal nominee to the Supreme Court. The Democrats are not the ones who keep trying to use the “I’m Rubber, You’re Glue” strategy to pin their sins on the other party.

If anyone is staging a coup it is the Republican Party (which is now headed by Donald Trump). The GOP has been attempting to ‘own’ the entire federal government of the US and they have not been the least bit worried about doing this by the book. Tinkering with elections has been the GOP’s favorite weapon to use in their coup. They almost succeeded. In 2016, using a number of voter suppression and voter propaganda techniques (and perhaps by allowing a foreign government to interfere in an American election) they succeeded in taking over all three branches of government. They haven’t been able to hide their game plan so they just blatantly get on with it. Dems argue against these tactics and the GOP just laughs.

Although the GOP lost the House in 2018 they do not consider this will end their plans. This is a war and they only lost a battle. There is always another election and they are still tinkering, tinkering away. And if rigged elections don’t get them what they want the takeover of the states which they have been conducting will eventually succeed in turning enough states Red to trigger a Constitutional Convention and allow them to put the GOP stamp on our Constitution.

Trump is using the coup accusations flying around the internet these days to turn him into a victim (“poor president Trump”) of a ruthless political takeover by a party that is supposedly wielding the Constitution like a club. Ironically Democrats have learned that there are almost no tools available to fight a President or a political party willing to ignore the rules set down in our documents. The Democrats have never called what the Republicans are up to a coup, but I have. Now the Democrats are being accused of perpetrating a coup against Trump (and by association the Republicans). But he has simply taken the truth and twisted it to his advantage. Don’t believe him. If you use your head it’s pretty easy to tell who’s coup-ing who/m.

Trump and Racism: Guilt by Association?

I would like to think that Donald Trump is a racist and a white supremacist/white nationalist because he has been turned into a pod person á la Invasion of the Body Snatchers (movie) by watching too much Fox News, but after my researches I can see that this that is not the case. All sources seem to agree that Trump’s penchant for making derogatory remarks that arise from the ethnic identities of people (who are classified racially as anything other than white) is a trait that he has displayed quite publicly for decades.

I don’t know why we pussyfoot (do you like the way I worked in the word pussy because Donald Trump is also a misogynist) around labeling Trump as a racist and a white supremacist, but we do. We say that Donald Trump likes to surround himself with alt-right types who are avowed white nationalists which really means white supremacists. But we are loathe to assume that he is one of their company.

White nationalists claim that they do not feel superior to people of color, they simply feel that the United States was founded as a white, Christian nation and they want it to stay that way. White supremacists, of course, do contend that white folks of European descent are superior in every way to all others. http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/08/14/donald_trump_s_ties_to_alt_right_white_supremacists_are_extensive.html

I say that the white nationalists are simply not as honest about their true feelings, but that they truly do believe that whites are superior. They may, however, in their heart of hearts (if they have them) see that white supremacists got a bad name in Nazi Germany and they want to disassociate themselves from the horror people connect with the deeds that white supremacy justified.

Donald, of course, says he does not have a racist bone in his body and I recently remember hearing one of his old acquaintances repeat this claim. It is a specious claim considering that racism is stored in the brain and there are no bones in the brain. And like many things that Mr. Trump says it is a lie, although he has possibly convinced himself through repetition that it is true.

Donald Trump is a 50’s guy who uses inappropriate terms to describe minority people, terms others have discarded because they are offensive. He is proud that he does not bow to the changing norms of what is culturally appropriate and his followers like this about him. But using racist language shows a real lack of respect for the feelings of the people these terms were intended to denigrate. Refusing to adjust his language reflects his refusal to adjust his mindset. Conjugate the verbs; he was a racist, he is a racist, he will be a racist. And he does think white folks are superior.

If my logic is not enough to convince, even though others agree with it, then look at the people he brought into the White House with him. We are not supposed to make someone guilty by association, but I do not know anyone who would be willing to consort with this band of haters. We have Steve Bannon, Steven Miller, Sebastian Gorka and their cohorts outside of the White House, Alex Jones and Richard Spencer, et al.

Steve Bannon

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/15-gross-things-steve-bannon-has-said_us_596e174de4b0e983c059116b

Steve Miller:

https://www.alternet.org/right-wing/21-facts-explain-exactly-who-stephen-miller

Sebastian Gorka

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/08/14/donald_trump_s_ties_to_alt_right_white_supremacists_are_extensive.html

Others that are connected through Breitbart.com and the media to Donald Trump:

Michael Flynn

Michael Flynn, Jr.

Alex Jones

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/08/14/donald_trump_s_ties_to_alt_right_white_supremacists_are_extensive.html

Richard Spencer

 https://www.adl.org/news/article/richard-spencer-five-things-to-know

Milo Yiannopoulos

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/08/14/donald_trump_s_ties_to_alt_right_white_supremacists_are_extensive.html

Things Trump says and does:

Trump on Obama: ‘Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate?’

Trump on Mexican immigrants: ‘Criminals and rapists’

… “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” he said in 2015. “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

“And some,” he added, “I assume, are good people.”

Trump on dead Muslim soldier’s mother: ‘Allowed to speak?’

United States Army Captain Humayun Khan was killed in Iraq in 2004. His parents, Americans with Pakistani roots, spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, criticizing Trump’s candidacy and its inherent racism. The father, Khizr Khan, spoke; his wife, Ghazala, stood by him.

Trump’s interpretation of the scene: “If you look at his wife, she was standing there. She had nothing to say. She probably – maybe she wasn’t allowed to have anything to say.”

Trump on right-wing extremism: ‘Racism is evil,’ or is it?

Trump was at first quiet following last weekend’s violence between left and right-wing protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. Then the president blamed “violence on both sides,” without explicitly calling out neo-Nazis and other racists. Following fierce criticism at home and abroad, Trump finally made a clear statement: “Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs.”

However, at a press conference just a few days later, Trump changed course: “You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” he said.

Trump’s critics charge that he has not done enough to credibly distance himself from white-supremacist and other right-wing movements. His aide, Steve Bannon, was editor-in-chief of Breitbart News, a mouthpiece of the far-right movement known as alt-right.

Many right-wing activists and groups feel emboldened by Trump’s comments. Critics say he does not do enough to distance himself from white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan or the alt-right movement.

http://www.dw.com/en/the-racist-comments-of-donald-trump/a-40127122

Conclusions:

We certainly have had racists in our government before, and even white supremacists who did not perhaps use that label but clearly expressed such views. We have never elected a blatantly racist/white nationalist/white supremacist as our President before, however.

Perhaps this is a backlash-President elected by people who were stunned by having a black man in the oval office as our President. Perhaps it is a reaction to the oft-repeated message that white people will soon make up a minority of the American population.

The roots of racism have always been deep in this nation and hard to extract. We have watched for a recovery from our Civil War which has never really happened. The murmurings sometimes become shouts as they seem to be now during the Trump administration. Perhaps this is because we see an unholy alliance between those who still fight the Civil War and those who resent seeing immigrants of color and immigrants from non-Christian nations, especially those here without proper documents, seemingly “changing the face” of our (supposed) (white) American “exceptualism.”

We need to remember that whenever Trump makes a decision or backs a policy this supremacist strain comes into play, consciously or unconsciously, and he may even have consulted some of these alt-right (racist) cronies to help him set his priorities.

We can see this in his travel ban, his deportation plans, his waffling over DACA, the importance he places on the wall, his reluctance to stick to agreements with non-European nations or contribute to programs that assist non-European nations (with the exception of Israel and, in fact, many Israelis have European roots).

We see this in his unwillingness to give credence to the violent acts, intimidations, and acts of hate that are in the DNA of groups like the KKK that join forces with the newer white supremacy groups; and in his failure to see the difference between Antifa and these alt-right groups.

There is nothing in our Constitution that prevents a racist from holding office, even the office of Presidency. In fact many will argue that since some of the authors of the Constitution and the early leaders in our government owned slaves that this President fits right in with our origins. Public cultural values have evolved since the days of our forefathers and racism is considered ignorant and wrong because our thinking has progressed.

And yet here we are with a racist President who would be happy to have all his jackbooted friends resting with their dogs and guns, feet on the fender of the fireplace, which we can easily picture taking up space in the oval office. And this President refuses to admit that this harmful aberration is a real part of his nature at all.

Do we remain constantly vigilant and resist, even while it all seems so distant and harmless, or do we let the worst be done and then try to clean it up afterwards? I know history swings around, that it is perhaps more like a spiral than a straight line, but knowing what we know now how can we not call out this racism each time it rears its ugly head. How do we accept any future that is not globalist in scope and inclusive of all living things on the planet? This is another one of the facets of Trump that causes us to worry and keeps us feeling that we must be always ready to resist.

Ta-NeHisi Coates

We Were Eight Years in Power

“It is not so much that I logically reasoned out that Obama’s election

would author a post-racist age. But it now seemed possible

that white supremacy, the scourge of American history, might be banished in my lifetime.”