Here’s One Monument Tr-mp Didn’t Mind Dishonoring

A few days ago, Tr-mp, morally confused, equated Nazis with those fighting Nazis. He equated racist haters with those fighting racism and hate. He conflated imperfect nation-building revolutionaries in 1776 with slavery-defending traitors in 1861. But that wasn’t enough. Today he tweeted:

Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.

He was, of course, referring to the treacherous heroes of haters, people like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. And Tr-mp finished with this:

…the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!

It’s not odd that Tr-mp sides with the haters. And it’s not odd that he does so rather robustly and openly. What is odd is that he expresses such profound regard for “our beautiful statues and monuments,” considering he launched his political career by dumping his orange doo-doo—birtherism—on one of the most important monuments to the greatness of America: President Barack Obama.

Ten Augusts ago, during the crowded Democratic primary season of 2007, not many people thought a black man with a strange name would win the nomination of the Democratic Party—once the home of segregationists and other racists—not to mention win the presidency of a nation whose economic power was initially built on the backs of slaves. But win he did. And his win was truly monumental. And Donald Tr-mp, like a diarrhea-plagued pigeon, pooped all over our first African-American president, the living monument to the most prominent promise of America, the radical idea that some of us are still trying to perfect: that no matter who you are or where you came from, you are free to craft your own future.

Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention in 2008 featured these words:

Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story—of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren’t well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.

It is that promise that has always set this country apart – that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.

That’s why I stand here tonight. Because for two hundred and thirty-two years, at each moment when that promise was in jeopardy, ordinary men and women – students and soldiers, farmers and teachers, nurses and janitors — found the courage to keep it alive.

From Tr-mp’s embrace of racist birtherism to his labeling the free press his “enemy” and “the enemy of the people” to his advocacy of political and police violence to this week’s purposeful equivocation regarding the moral status of white supremacists and Nazis, he has been crapping on many of America’s greatest monuments, while defending its bad ones.

And he has never apologized—and never will—for desecrating that national monument named Barack Hussein Obama.

“Just Because They Claim They’re Christians”

Perhaps you’ve seen him on CNN. Or maybe on NBC’s Meet the Press. Or maybe at a rare Tr-mp press conference, when he was doing his job of Chief Political Correspondent for wacky televangelist Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, the Tr-mp-friendly place where slanted and misleading and fake conservative “news” was first invented.

Image result for david brody and cbn newsWell, today I saw him, David Brody, on MSNBC, defending Donald Tr-mp’s obvious reluctance to call out his friends on the right who happen to be Nazis, white supremacists, and some who express sympathy for the terrorist who killed Heather Heyer with his car on Saturday in Charlottesville. Brody’s appearance today was shameful in many ways, considering Brody proudly calls himself an evangelical Christian and may be the most well-known “journalist” who does. But it was not surprising for me to hear him defending Tr-mp.

Way back in 2016, Brody wrote a piece for USA Today (“Donald Tr-mp’s appeal to evangelicals is real: David Brody”) that essentially predicted how well Tr-mp would do with conservative evangelicals. He wrote:

Explaining this attraction is not as hard as it seems. On the surface, you see the potential warts: three marriagesa pro-choice past, salty language delivered by a New Yorker, and the list goes on. To be sure, Tr-mp would not be Central Casting’s prototype evangelical candidate. Name-calling along with the hefty ego aren’t sought after character traits.

But something is resonating. You see, Tr-mp operates in a world of absolutes where there are winners and losers; there is the right way and the wrong way. In short, it’s a world painted in black and white. Evangelicals see the world in much the same way, in that accepting Jesus is the only way to heaven and the Bible is the inerrant word of God. They are publicly ridiculed for their unbending, non-negotiable approach, just as Tr-mp is widely mocked for his adamant positions. It’s called a common psychological bond.

Now, it is hard for some of us to understand how anyone, much less people who profess to follow a craftsman from Palestine who went around telling people to turn the other cheek, can have a “psychological bond” to a sick bully like Tr-mp, but Brody turned out to be right. Without right-wing evangelical support, Tr-mp would be guest-hosting for Sean Hannity right now and still whining about a “rigged” election.

But Brody wrote something else I find interesting:

The Tr-mp brand also includes a lack of political correctness. Combine that with his tough talk on fighting terrorism, temporarily banning Muslims coming into the USA and taking the fight to the Islamic State terrorist group (seize the oil!), and what you get is an attentive congregation. Why? Because the persecution of Christians overseas and fighting radical Islam are top-tier issues for evangelicals. The fact that terrorism is the top concern of Americans this election cycle only helps Tr-mp’s cause. After all, ISIL is brash and in-your-face, and Tr-mp is just as brash.

Well, well, well. What have we here? Forget the fact that Tr-mp’s in-your-face brashness was on vacation this weekend, when he could have used it to confront racist- and hate-fueled violence that was essentially done in his name, done, in many cases, in the name of the white Christian nationalism that Tr-mp and Steve Bannon promoted and rode into the White’s House. Forget that. Notice the phrase “fighting radical Islam”? You notice how Brody tells us that conservative evangelicals fell in love with Tr-mp partly because he was for “temporarily banning Muslims coming into the USA”?

What Brody was doing, and what he correctly noted was important on the Religious Right, was branding all of Islam by the actions of a few. In fact, Tr-mp figured out early on that this is what made him so popular with what he often calls “the evangelicals.” He constantly harped on President Obama’s refusal to say “radical Islamic terrorism,” Obama not wanting to brand the sociopathy behind ISIS and other violent groups as a true expression of Islam. But Tr-mp said the phrase so often and so loudly that it was clear he had no qualms—Tr-mp is pathologically qualm-proof—about painting an entire religion with an extremist brush. Remember, Brody told us part of his appeal was his black-and-white brashness.

Well, the shoe is now on the other hypocritical hoof.

Today on MSNBC, I heard Brody say the following, while he was defending Tr-mp’s indefensible behavior:

Evangelical Christian leaders all have a responsibility to denounce all of this by name, KKK, neo-Nazis.  They have nothing, nothing—AND LET ME SAY THAT IN ALL CAPS—nothing to do with true biblical Christianity at all. Because, remember, just because they claim they’re Christians doesn’t mean it’s so.

Remember, y’all. Remember. Whenever you hear Mr. Two Corinthians broad-brushing Islam with the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism”—when you hear about yet another one of his shady business deals or how he cheated or groped someone—when you hear about another Tr-mp connection to Russian oligarchs—when you hear him avoid criticizing Vladimir Putin and David Duke—that just because someone claims to be a Christian doesn’t mean it is so.

But given what Mr. Two Corinthians and the Religious Right have done to Christianity, in Tr-mp’s case maybe it does.

The Basest of the Base

There will, of course, be other Nazi-nationalist rallies peopled mostly by men, angry and white. Maybe there will be more Heather Heyers, victims of home-grown and home-nourished terrorism, victims of a redundancy: hate and Tr-mpism. Maybe more cops will die trying to manage the hostility created by gun- and shield-wielding white supremacists, terrorists who by their very behavior betray the stupidity of their centuries-old claim. Maybe Tr-mp will again try to play a sick game of avoiding placing the blame where it belongs, on the basest of his debased base—the deplorables.

Image result for violence in charlottesvilleWe can be sure there will be more turmoil because the fight in this case, as in all the others like it, is over the perceived loss of white identity, which is really the expected and inevitable loss of white cultural privilege. The perception of those losses will only intensify over time among those who fear a browning horizon, who fear a population wishing to move past the sins of our forefathers by removing monuments to stubborn ignorance, monuments to the sin of our slavery-condoning past—monuments to treason.

This latest terrorist attack was connected to a plan to relocate a statue of Robert E. Lee that stands in a park in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia. Back in May of this year, a vocal Tr-mp supporter named Richard Spencer appeared at a more peaceful protest of the removal and relocation and stated the case of the hopelessly hateful:

We will not be replaced from this world. Whites have a future. We have a future of power, of beauty, of expression.

It should be noted that Robert E. Lee had no real connection to the city of Charlottesville. The statue was donated to the city in 1924, at a time when white people desperately wanted to send a message to African-Americans that they were, and would remain, second-class “citizens.” This period was the high-water mark for the Ku Klux Klan. As History.com notes,

At its peak in the 1920s, Klan membership exceeded 4 million people nationwide.

Thus, there is a nexus in some white minds between monuments to Lee and white supremacy, even if many of those white minds try to hide behind the excuse that “it’s our history,” and that “revisionists” want to alter the historical record. I know this because more than six years ago I wrote a piece titled, “Robert E. Lee And The Romance Of Rebellion.” In that short piece, which featured a lively discussion in the comment section, I wrote:

I have always wondered why it is that so many people considered Robert E. Lee a hero, this disloyal Union officer who betrayed his country, who owned slaves and led men into battle to preserve the right of white men to buy and sell black families like cattle.

I ended that post with this:

I don’t think you will find many statues of Erwin Rommel in Germany, or visit any Erwin Rommel High Schools, but in the American South, there are plenty of monuments to Robert E. Lee.

One has to wonder why that is.

Now, one has to wonder why the relocation of a statue of Robert E. Lee, a traitor to his country, is worth taking the life of a 32-year-old girl, who was in Charlottesville to protest a racist “Unite the Right” rally, and who, her mother said, “always had a very strong sense of right and wrong” and “was very caught up in what she believed to be fair.”

And one has to wonder why a man pretending to be the President of the United States, cannot condemn—by name—the movement that killed Heather Heyer, or the movement whose racist rally led to the death of two state troopers. His first instinct was to muddy the moral waters with a false equivalence between the Nazis and those who opposed them. (By tomorrow, he likely will have a more sober and civilized response, having been shamed into it by nearly every ethically sane man and woman in America.)

In truth, one doesn’t have to wonder about Tr-mp’s strange non-condemnation of white supremacy. In December of 2015, Politico published an article (“White supremacist groups see Trump bump“) that began this way:

The Ku Klux Klan is using Donald Tr-mp as a talking point in its outreach efforts. Stormfront, the most prominent American white supremacist website, is upgrading its servers in part to cope with a Tr-mp traffic spike. And former Louisiana Rep. David Duke reports that the businessman has given more Americans cover to speak out loud about white nationalism than at any time since his own political campaigns in the 1990s.

Not quite a year later, many white supremacists celebrated Tr-mp’s hiring Steve Bannon to be his White House Chief Strategist. Bannon is, at the very least, a white nationalist, as the University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato pointed out today on CNN, saying Tr-mp should “fire all the white nationalists on his staff, starting with Steve Bannon.”

Yesterday afternoon, after Tr-mp spoke about the tragic events in Charlottesville, a terrorism-supporting freak from the racist, anti-Semitic alt-right wrote:

Tr-mp comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us.

He said that we need to study why people are so angry, and implied that there was hate… on both sides!

So he implied the antifa are haters.

There was virtually no counter-signaling of us at all.

He said he loves us all.

Also refused to answer a question about White Nationalists supporting him.

No condemnation at all.

When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room.

Really, really good.

God bless him.

God? God bless him? Is this Radical Christian Terrorism? You be the judge. But before you judge, consider what that same right-wing Nazi freak wrote recently:

…whatever you think of Christianity, it was the glue that bound white people together as a single race.

And whatever you think of Christianity, the best society you can live in is a White Christian society.

That sociopath who praised Tr-mp for refusing to specifically condemn people like him is named Andrew Anglin. And he just published a piece about the victim of the terrorists in Charlottesville titled (I won’t link to it),

Heather Heyer: Woman Killed in Road Rage Incident was a Fat, Childless 32-Year-Old Slut

He said:

Despite feigned outrage by the media, most people are glad she is dead, as she is the definition of uselessness. A 32-year-old woman without children is a burden on society and has no value.

These are the people Tr-mp protects with his sickening silence. And if we are supposed to call those militant zealots who are very loosely connected to mainstream Muslim faith “radical Islamic terrorists”—and Tr-mp insists very loudly they are—then Andrew Anglin qualifies as a radical Christian terrorist, even if he doesn’t consider himself “especially religious.”

Whatever he is, we know he is a Tr-mp supporter. And Tr-mp knows it, too.

Two Kinds Of Madmen

The precipitous and dangerous drama still unfolding between the United States and North Korea, essentially between Dim and Kim, was entirely predictable, for those of us who know how mentally unstable and sadly insecure Tr-mp is. And now that we are fairly confident that the North Koreans are farther along the path to being a nuclear power with ICBMs than most experts had previously estimated (funny how intelligence reports are not questioned by Tr-mp these days), the situation comes down to the decisions of two alleged madmen and whether one or the other or both will be restrained by reason.

For the purpose of this post, I want to define two kinds of madness that I believe is infecting the minds of the men who fate, or a nasty God, has put in charge of weapons of mass destruction. First there is Tr-mp. No need to go on at length about what ails him. His mental challenges have been discussed endlessly here and everywhere (see this 9-minute segment, “Real Doctors Diagnose Tr-mp”). One prominent psychologist, John Gartner, has pronounced him a “paranoid psychopathic narcissist,” for instance. But even if you are inclined to think that such a professional diagnosis is too wild in this case, you have to admit that you really don’t need a PhD to see that Tr-mp’s day-to-day behavior reveals some kind of severely disordered mind. That’s clear to even many of his followers, who seem to like that aspect of his personality, even if they call it something like “unpredictability.”

Then there is Kim Jong-un. If you have followed the news the last several days, you have seen or heard many people try to assess the mental state of Kim. Is he sane? Is he a madman? Is he a rational actor? The fact that no one seems to know for sure is what makes this drama so dumb and dangerous. Tr-mp himself told Philippine President Duterte that Kim “could be crazy.” If so, why tempt him to act on his craziness? Why talk like a middle-school bully and put the lives of millions at risk? What if Ivanka or Tr-mp’s two creepy older sons were living in Seoul? Would he tempt Kim with stupid bluster?

Back in April, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked chief of staff John Kelly (he was Secretary of Homeland Security at the time), “Do you think Kim Jong-un is mentally unbalanced?” Kelly said:

Oh, heck, I don’t know. He seems like someone who knows what he’s doing. I mean, clearly, the number one thing in his mind is to remain in power. I think in the dynamic of a dictatorship like that, he’s got to do that by convincing everyone around him—first of all holding them all in stark terror—and convincing everyone around him that he’s a strong man and is willing to stand up, and all the rest of the rhetoric. I think the only way to decide whether he’s insane or not is to lay him down on the couch and have a battalion’s worth of psychiatrists talk to him and figure it out.

So, Kelly says Kim “knows what he’s doing” but isn’t sure if he’s sane or insane. Okay, then. That clears that up.

Our relatively weak Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has his opinion, which, also in April, he offered to Fox “News”:

All indications…by intelligence agencies, and there have been a number of independent psychologists who have done analysis as best they can, all indications are that he is not crazy. He may be ruthless. He may be a murderer. He may be someone who in many respects we would say by our standards is irrational. But he is not insane.

That observation made me think of something G. K. Chesterton wrote in his book, Orthodoxy:

Every one who has had the misfortune to talk with people in the heart or on the edge of mental disorder, knows that their most sinister quality is a horrible clarity of detail; a connecting of one thing with another in a map more elaborate than a maze. If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it; for in many ways his mind moves all the quicker for not being delayed by the things that go with good judgment. He is not hampered by a sense of humour or by charity, or by the dumb certainties of experience. He is the more logical for losing certain sane affections. Indeed, the common phrase for insanity is in this respect a misleading one. The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason.

That’s Kim Jung-un. Clearly, if you examine his behavioral history, you see a madman who has demonstrated no “sane affections.” He seems to only use reason in service to his maniacal pursuit of perpetual power and existence as an unchallengable cult figure to “his” people. Because there does seem to be potential for a transactional understanding with such a madman, there is some hope that diplomacy can somehow de-escalate the present situation until a more solid diplomatic effort (including help from the Chinese and other world players) can find a possible solution to the long-term problem of a nuclear North Korea with world-threatening ICBMs.

Image result for kim jong un and trump face swapThe problem is that Tr-mp, displaying the kind of madness not conducive to the patience of diplomacy, can’t keep his undisciplined mouth out of this situation. I reject the idea, advanced by some silly pundits, that there is a method to Tr-mp’s magniloquent madness, that he and his advisers have a “strategy” behind all the sophomoric bluster. No. To Tr-mp this is a reality TV test of wills—a game of chicken. Except it’s not Tr-mp sitting in the car, but millions of Koreans, North and South, who will pay the bloody price if Kim overreacts and takes the dare or if Tr-mp orders a foolish pre-emptive strike after a minor act of provocation. And that fact, that innocents will die unnecessarily, is what should be the focus of all the news coverage of this crisis.

What we have here is a sick man, acting foolishly as our commander-in-chief, playing a dangerous game with a North Korean madman devoid of natural human emotions. And if this ends without bloodshed this time, this drama will unfortunately have a sequel—unless we can rid ourselves of the madman on our side and then begin to exhaust all diplomatic and non-military solutions before we think the unthinkable.

The Dopey Leading The Dope

For years now, I have accused Fox & Friends, the morning show Tr-mp loves, of being an IQ-murdering, brain-baking embarrassment to American life. Yesterday, Vox pubished a piece (“We analyzed 17 months of Fox & Friends transcripts. It’s far weirder than state-run media.“) with the sub-header: “How the Fox morning show evolved into Donald Tr-mp’s posse.” Yes, the unprosecuted p-ssy prodder has a posse:

What we found is that Fox & Friends has a symbiotic relationship with Trump that is far weirder and more interesting than state media. Instead of talking for Trump, they are talking to him.

Naturally, the juvenility that defines Fox & Friends appeals to the lazy, uninformed teenager in the White’s House. And the hosts take advantage of his interest in the anti-intelligence programming they offer—and his pathologically abbreviated attention span—in order to give him advice. And, sadly for the country, the man who has to essentially have coloring book intelligence briefings frequently listens.

If you’ve ever spent 30 minutes with Fox & Friends (may a couple of your IQ points Rest in Peace, by the way), then the idea that these simpletons are giving advice to Agent Orange and that Agent Orange heeds some of it, should make you very restless at night. Every night. Because the next morning—seven days a week—brings another episode of Fox & Friends.

The good news is that when Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade, and Ainsley Earhardt get on the air and publicly tell Tr-mp how to handle North Korea, at least we’ll have a few minutes lag time to get in our bomb shelters. Or if, like me, you don’t have one of those, to pick up a 30-pack or your medication of choice.

Most Everything You Need To Know About Why Black Folks Are Afraid Of Greitenstan—I Mean, Missouri

By now, most folks in Missouri (and most outside) have heard of the NAACP’s travel advisory involving my state. Most people, however, probably haven’t read the actual text of the travel advisory, the first ever issued by the group at the state level. So, because this is the Internet, here is part of it (first issued by the Missouri NAACP State Conference), which I have slightly edited:

A travel advisory has been issued in the State of Missouri due to the
sad passage of Senator Gary Romine’s Jim Crow Bill – SB 43 – and
recent events throughout Missouri.

The advisory means each individual should pay special attention
while in the state of Missouri and certainly if contemplating spending
time in Missouri. Unlike seasonal weather advisories, where no
unnecessary travel on city streets or parking might be directed, the
NAACP wants to make Missourians and our visitors aware of looming
danger which could include the following by example of what has
happened to some residents and visitors:

Tory Sanford who recently died in a jail cell but was never arrested
after running out of gas when he traveled into the state accidentally;

Racist attacks on University of Missouri students while on the states’
campuses – as the University of Missouri System spoke in favor of
Romine’s Jim Crow Bill;

Missouri’s legislature Representative Rick Bratton argued that
homosexuals are not human beings according to his faith;

Black high school students in St. Louis have been attacked with hot
glue while denigrated racially;

Two internationally born men gunned down outside in Kansas City
after their killer thought them to be Muslim;

According to the Missouri Attorney General African-Americans in
Missouri are subjected to excessive traffic – 75% more likely to be
stopped and searched based on skin color than Caucasians,
Public threats of shooting ‘Blacks’ that terrorized University of
Missouri students and members of the public.

Individuals traveling in the state are advised to travel with extreme
CAUTION. Race, gender and color based crimes have a long history
in Missouri. Missouri, home of Lloyd Gaines, Dred Scott and the
dubious distinction of the Missouri Compromise and one of the last
states to lose its slaveholding past, may not be safe…

The Missouri State Conference NAACP asked that you do the
following:

warn your families, co-workers and anyone visiting Missouri to
beware of the safety concerns with travel in Missouri,

notify members of your trade associations, social and civic
organizations that they are traveling and living in Missouri at their own
risk and subject to unnecessary search seizure and potential arrest,
and file and seek help on any existing claims for discrimination,
harassment, retaliation, and whistle blowing ASAP…

Now, you can investigate all of the incidents listed in this advisory and decide for yourself if the advisory is warranted. But I will focus on SB 43 itself—which is now law in the state after our Tr-mpian governor signed it in June—and show why it is that this law is not just a Jim Crow-type law for African-Americans, but why it represents a danger to all those who have been at least partially protected by Missouri’s anti-discrimination laws.

But the first thing you need to know about this ridiculous law—which amends the Missouri Human Rights Act—is that its sponsor, Republican Senator Gary Romine (whose district comprises counties south of St. Louis) is the owner of a business in Sikeston called Show-Me Rent to Own. That business is one of those “Don’t Need a Loan, No Credit Required” furniture and appliance stores where you can rent a couch or a coffee table or a TV or a potted plant for a week or a year or whatever. In my experience, places like that tend to prey on those with poor credit, which usually means, of course, the poor. So, let that speak or not speak to the character of Sen. Romine.

In any case, allow me to quote extensively (you should read it all) from an April story involving Romine that was written by Sarah Fenske of the Riverfront Times:

In March 2015, a man who used to work at Show-Me Rent to Own in Sikeston, Missouri, filed a lawsuit alleging that his supervisor regularly used racial slurs against him, telling him, among other things, to “quit acting like a n*gger” — and Related imagethat a map on the wall of the store circled a majority black neighborhood with the words “do not rent” written next to it.

The owner of the business is state Senator Gary Romine (R-Farmington), and in response to the suit, his lawyers acknowledged that, yes, a map in the back of the store had those very words written upon it. Everything else, he pretty much denied.

In any other state, that kind of admission might be a scandal — or at least grounds for future questioning. “Hey, Senator Romine! Who was redlined by that ‘do not rent to’ directive? And did any employees tell you about the allegations against your supervisor? If so, did you take any action?”

But hey, this is Missouri. And instead of Romine’s business practices forcing him into the hot seat, he’s instead using them as the basis of a folksy anecdote about “frivolous litigation” to advance legislation that would gut workplace protection against racial discrimination in Missouri…

Sarah Fenske goes on to describe what now is the law. She calls it,

a toxic stew: a mess of bad provisions that manages to exempt state employees from whistleblower protections, gut workers’ ability to allege racial discrimination, and protect Romine’s own interests, all in one package.

She then quotes Representative Steve Roberts, a Democrat from St. Louis:

“I honestly don’t understand how this hasn’t gotten more media attention.” He notes that when he questioned Romine about being sued for discrimination, the senator had a telling answer: “Which time?”

“It’s so bold to have a senator who’s been sued for this, multiple times, leading the charge,” Roberts says. “It is clearly self-dealing.”

Clearly. But even if it wasn’t, the law is horrific. I’ll allow Fenske to describe why because I think she does it so well:

SB 43 would gut the state’s Human Rights Acts (which is already fairly limited — among other things, sexual orientation is not covered). But under these new provisions, instead of showing only that race or gender are “a contributing factor” to discrimination, Missouri residents would have to show that it was “the motivating factor” (emphasis added).

So let’s say someone works for … just to come up with a totally random example … Gary Romine’s rent to own business. And let’s say they were subjected to the barrage of invective described in the lawsuit against Show-Me Rent to Own, which includes phrases like “black people are the worst to work with,” “black people are the worst to rent to,” “as long as I am manager, there will never be two black people working here again,” and, of course, the n-word. (Romine, for the record, didn’t respond to either a phone message or email seeking comment yesterday.)

Then let’s say the employee was fired. Under the new law, it wouldn’t be enough to show that race was one of the reasons he faced termination. His lawyers would have to show it’s the single biggest reason — an incredibly difficult standard.

I have to stop here and tell you that as someone who has occasionally represented employees who filed complaints of workplace discrimination, Fenske is absolutely correct to emphasize how difficult it is under ordinary discrimination laws to win a judgment against an employer. And she is also correct in emphasizing how harder it will be under SB 43 to win such a case. It will essentially require a business owner to stand up and say, “Yep, I fired the black guy because I don’t like n*****s.” It’s really that bad. Thus, that’s part of the reason the NAACP referred to it as a Jim Crow law.

But the law is bad for an even more onerous reason, one so bad it caused my own local state representative, a reactionary named Bill White, to reject it. Here’s how The Missouri Times reported that part of it:

The bill also removes provisions that would prevent the actual discriminating party – be it a supervisor or fellow employee – from being named in the case, which horrified Rep. Bill White, R-Joplin.

“What this bill does in its current form, the person who hung the noose in somebody’s locker, that person doesn’t get named in this case in this bill,” White said, citing a specific discrimination case in which a white employee racially discriminated against a black employee.

Kudos to Bill White for having at least some limitations on his shortsighted, radical conservatism. (And I think I’m being way too generous to say he has some limitations; maybe this is the only one).

If all that wasn’t bad enough, the law also limits damages in cases where a complainant actually wins. So, even if you get the owner to admit he fired you because you’re black and he hates blacks, his liability is capped. And that’s not all. This law doesn’t just make it harder for African-Americans to sue for discrimination, it also makes it harder for those pursuing age or sex or religious discrimination. If you’re an old fart no longer wanted because you’re old, a woman no longer wanted because you’re a woman, or, say, a Muslim working in a “Christian” environment, well, too bad for you. Businesses need protection from the likes of you and your ambulance-chasing, litigation-loving lawyers!

Which, of course, is how this damned thing, which was rammed through the legislative process in the most unseemly manner imaginable, was justified. It’s good for business. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce has been demanding this law for years. And here’s how The Missouri Times reported that angle:

“It was a priority for us and it’s been a priority for us for over a decade,” House sponsor Rep. Joe Don McGaugh said after session. “When you talk to the business community, the examples that they share are pretty broad with the number of people who come in and say, this was a real factor for businesses coming into the state. So, hopefully, it has a pretty quick impact.”

Rep. Kevin Engler, who has carried the legislation in the past, noted during floor debate the bill was needed to ensure Missouri remained competitive with other states.

“Privately, this is a number one cost driver,” Engler said. “We have to make Missouri a better place to bring jobs and development and workers.”

So, there you have it. We have a test case here in Missouri, similar to the “experiment” conducted by Sam Brownback and radical Republicans in Kansas. That Sunflower State experiment was a miserable and enduring failure, and the deeply unpopular Brownback is hightailing it out of the state for a job Tr-mp offered him in the federal government, a strange job of promoting “religious freedom” around the world. Good riddance. But meanwhile, we can now sit back here in Missouri and either watch the jobs flood in and government revenues increase because businesses are much freer to discriminate, or we will watch a continued decline in Republican-dominated Missouri, reflected in this AP report in June:

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — New data show it’s unlikely Missouri revenues will grow enough to fully fund the budget passed by lawmakers last year.

State Budget Director Dan Haug on Friday announced state revenues grew 2.6 percent through May compared to the same period last fiscal year.

That’s well under the 7 percent needed to fully fund spending outlined in this year’s budget and the 3.4 percent legislators originally estimated.

Revenues also are below the scaled-back 3 percent-growth mark that Republican Gov. Eric Greitens and lawmakers predicted in January.

Lower-than-expected growth means funding cuts made by Greitens and his predecessor, former Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon, likely will stay in place.

“Funding cuts.” Sound familiar? It should. That’s the kind of language used in Brownbackistan. Soon we will have our own Show-Me state version: Greitenstan.

The Trash Man

I’ve been thinking about trash lately. And a trash-the-Tr-mp segment on MSNBC this morning, featuring Republican Steve Schmidt and Democrat Joel Benenson (who were senior campaign strategists and advisors for, respectively, John McCain and Hillary Clinton), was a cosmic message to me to talk a little (a little more) about trash myself.

When I was a kid growing up in a small town in Kansas, every week a guy came by our house in his modified pickup truck, dutifully, to pick up our garbage. We, unfortunately, called him the Trash Man, as in, “Hey, the Trash Man is coming tomorrow.” But he had a name: Mr. Thurston. And he had an essential job: keeping the community clean and livable. If it weren’t for him, and others like him, all of us would be living in filth.

These days we have a real Trash Man we have to deal with. He also has a name: Tr-mp. And he also has a job, but it’s not like the job Mr. Thurston had. Tr-mp’s job, he thinks, is not to pick up the trash and better our communities; his job is to spread garbage and pollute our national community. It’s the one and only job Tr-mp is good at. I mean, he’s really good at it. Trash is everywhere.

Steve Schmidt and Joel Benenson were on MSNBC discussing, among other things, the latest revelation about Tr-mp, that he thinks the “White House is a real dump.” (I highly recommend reading the entire article published first by Golf magazine, just in case you need a renewed affirmation of how small, petty, phony, dishonest, and cheap Tr-mp is, as well as how many people, including foreigners, are willing to embrace and enrich him out of self-interest.)  Schmidt and Benenson were highly critical of Tr-mp for his remark about the historic residence, with Schmidt giving an especially moving account of the dignity and honor associated with the White House. But this is one case where Tr-mp has it absolutely right. The White House is currently a dump. It became a dump on the afternoon of January 20, 2017, when the Trash Man moved in. 

Tr-mp has trashed our institutions, as we all have witnessed. And almost hourly he trashes the truth, often in conjunction with another trash-spreader, Fox “News.” This morning, one of my favorite people, Rob Reiner, tweeted the following:

Exhausting to see a POTUS lie, break the law, act irrationally, undermine democracy & disgrace US every day. GOP, you know you agree. Impeach

Reiner is right that all of this is exhausting. It does wear one out watching the Trash Man distribute disinformation, catapult crap on the Constitution, and spend most of his time petty-tRelated imageweeting, playing golf, and using his office to enrich himself. Yes, that is exhausting. But Reiner is wrong in saying the GOP agrees that Tr-mp is disgracing the country. Most of them don’t think so, and most of those who do don’t care enough to do a damned thing about it. Impeachment is not on the horizon.

What is truly more exhausting than watching the Trash Man throw garbage in our country’s political streets and dump sewage in our electoral streams, is watching the Republican Party help him do it. They keep gas in the Trash Man’s truck. They keep him going. They are as responsible for the littered landscape, the polluted polity, as he is. Even those few Republicans who do—meekly—speak up, who do—mildly—complain about Tr-mp’s behavior, still mostly vote his way—the recent passage of a bill on Russia sanctions being the rare exception.

Republican Senator Jeff Flake has been widely celebrated for an op-ed he wrote (and, of course, a book for sale) criticizing Tr-mp and the GOP’s failure to adequately address his alleged betrayal of conservatism, as well as the dysfunction he has created:

…as I layered in my defense mechanisms, I even found myself saying things like, “If I took the time to respond to every presiden­tial tweet, there would be little time for anything else.” Given the volume and velocity of tweets from both the Trump campaign and then the White House, this was certainly true. But it was also a monumental dodge. It would be like Noah saying, “If I spent all my time obsessing about the coming flood, there would be little time for anything else.” At a certain point, if one is being honest, the flood becomes the thing that is most worthy of attention. At a certain point, it might be time to build an ark.

One would think that if Jeff Flake believes a political Noah’s Ark is needed to save us from a Tr-mpian flood of filth, that at the very least he would be the first one in line with a piece of gopher wood in one hand and a bucket of pitch in the other. But that’s not the case. All he has is an almost near-perfect pro-Tr-mp voting record. In other words, Flake is putting as much gas in the Trash Man’s truck as just about anyone in Congress and he deserves blame for that, not praise.

Finally, back to my Mr. Thurston. The vital public service he provided, for little remuneration, is a gazillion times more than Tr-mp or his family has ever provided or will ever provide. Mr. Thurston’s contribution to society was to help keep it clean. Tr-mp’s contribution is to dirty it. The man pretending to be president would not be worthy of putting on his feet Mr. Thurston’s boots. And the further truth is that the real Trash Man, whose very presence has made the White House a (hopefully) temporary dump, isn’t really worthy of living in a trailer park.

Nor are his Republican enablers.

Forget About The Mooch, Here’s The News You Should Be Talking About Today—And Every Day

Big effing deal. Anthony Scaramucci, a second-class asshole, lost his job working for a first-class asshole. But that ultimately meaningless story is all the rage. Meanwhile there’s this:

Earth to warm 2 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, studies say

By the end of the century, the global temperature is likely to rise more than 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

This rise in temperature is the ominous conclusion reached by two different studies using entirely different methods published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Monday.

You can go read that CNN story for the methodologies involved and other details, but if the following doesn’t interest you more than one of Tr-mp’s chumps losing a job he was eminently unqualified to do (which happens so regularly now that it doesn’t even qualify as news), then you are missing the larger meaning of all the stuff going on, what CNN termed “a grim reality”:

“These studies are part of the emerging scientific understanding that we’re in even hotter water than we’d thought,” said Bill McKibben, an environmentalist not affiliated with either study. “We’re a long ways down the path to disastrous global warming, and the policy response — especially in the United States — has been pathetically underwhelming.”

Fareed Zakaria said on Sunday morning that the United States was “becoming irrelevant” in the world because of “the bizarre candidacy of Donald Tr-mp, which has been followed by an utterly chaotic presidency.” But even though Zakaria is right about the chaos we see each and every day, and even though he correctly cites a Pew study that shows “People around the world increasingly believe they can make do without America,” he is wrong about our irrelevancy, as anyone who understands climate change can tell you. We are very relevant. It matters that Tr-mp is a coal-loving fool. And it matters that he pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement on carbon emissions, which first set the 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit mark as a threshold. Why? Because,

If we surpass that mark, it has been estimated by scientists that life on our planet will change as we know it. Rising seas, mass extinctions, super droughts, increased wildfires, intense hurricanes, decreased crops and fresh water and the melting of the Arctic are expected.

The impact on human health would be profound. Rising temperatures and shifts in weather would lead to reduced air quality, food and water contamination, more infections carried by mosquitoes and ticks and stress on mental health, according to a recent report from the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health.

Currently, the World Health Organization estimates that 12.6 million people die globally due to pollution, extreme weather and climate-related disease. Climate change between 2030 and 2050 is expected to cause 250,000 additional global deaths, according to the WHO.

If you think these two latest studies are outliers, think again:

The study confirms conclusions of many other studies, said Bill Hare, director and senior scientists of nonprofit Climate Analytics. Hare was not affiliated with either study.

“This interesting paper confirms the conclusion about where the world is headed unless there is a major increase in the ambition of climate and energy policies,” Hare said….

“It shows, in effect, that unless we start reducing emissions quickly — soon there is a risk that we will overshoot temperature limits like 1.5 or 2 degrees C,” Hare said. “It is just another confirmation of how dangerous the present situation is unless CO2 emissions, which have flatlined in the last few years, really start dropping.”

The solution, if there is one, to this disturbing problem (disturbing even if you, like me, won’t live long enough to feel its worst effects) is, of course, public policy. And unfortunately our public policy on this and so many other critical issues is in the hands of an incompetent, incoherent, and tragically indifferent buffoon. The CNN story ends with this:

“There are only two realistic paths toward avoiding long-run disaster: increased financial incentives to avoid greenhouse gas emissions and greatly increased funding for research that will lead to at least partial technological fixes,” said Dick Startz, economist and co-author of the second study. “Neither is free. Both are better than the catastrophe at the end of the current path.”

Image result for solar powerSilver linings and hope are hard to find in climate change studies, but they also don’t account for every factor.

“The only bright point is that, as the study authors say, they haven’t factored in the plummeting cost of solar power,” McKibben said. “That’s the one way out we still might take — but only if our governments take full advantage of the breakthroughs our engineers have produced.”

Yeah, well, good luck with our government taking full advantage of such breakthroughs. And good luck with getting a significant number of people to pay attention to this alarming story. After all, today we’ve got The Mooch to distract us, and tomorrow it will be some other insignificant intrigue inside the crumbling White’s House or, Allah forbid, a twisted tweet.

News You Probably Haven’t Heard Yet.

Anyone reading this blog doesn’t need a detailed recap of the news lately. More apologies for Russia; yet another unreported meeting with a stadium full of Russians accompanied by an still-evolving set of lies about the meeting; Tr-mp publicly dope-slapping Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russian thing; rumors are rampant that Tr-mp is considering firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller because Mueller is getting in his bidness; we know Tr-mp is thinking about pardoning everyone around him including himself, which I suppose we should call “masturpardonation”; an unpolished liar for Tr-mp named Spicer is gone and a slicker liar for Tr-mp named Scaramucci is on the scene—Scaramucci is a much better kisser; Tr-mp commissions a new Navy ship and essentially orders the sailors and naval officers to do his political bidding for him.

Just another bizarre week in a declining America.

And if you think all of that stuff is bad, here’s the latest:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Democrats are furious over what they are saying is the latest outrage involving Donald Tr-mp. Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer are both demanding Republicans in Congress take quick action after Tr-mp fired Robert Moeller, had him arrested, ordered him to be pilloried on a site near the Lincoln Memorial early Sunday morning, then hours later allegedly had him decapitated with a dull steak knife from Mar-A-Lago. CNN cameras on the scene seem to have captured a golf-suited Tr-mp tee up Mr. Moeller’s bloody head and drive it an estimated 250 yards into the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. Tr-mp then held what the administration said was a record-setting rally at the same site Sunday afternoon with derisive chants of “Fore! Fore! Fore!” echoing throughout the National Mall.

Witnesses initially arriving at the grisly scene earlier in the day say they overheard Tr-mp tell Vice President Mike Pence, “Off with his head!” just before Moeller was taken out of the stocks and placed on a large cutting board that, according to two White House sources, was supplied by one of Tr-mp’s hotel kitchens. Those same sources told the Associated Press that Tr-mp gave Pence a gold-plated steak knife believed to have come from Mar-A-Lago and that Mike Pence immediately agreed to the beheading, allegedly saying it was “an honor to serve the broad-shouldered” Tr-mp. 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself and the entire Justice Department from the matter, saying, “We all serve at the pleasure of the president.” Speaker Paul Ryan was asked for a comment and he attributed the “mishap” to Tr-mp’s relative inexperience as a Washington politician. “If true, it’s just another rookie mistake,” he told a gathering of reporters at the Capitol. “You guys just don’t get it. This guy is new to all this. And he doesn’t play by Washington rules.” When asked if the incident would slow down legislative business in the House, Ryan said, “The American people sent us here to do a job on them and that’s what we’re focused on.”

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would not comment on the apparent murder and subsequent events, saying only that he and his Senate colleagues are continuing to work hard on “passing a healthcare bill that can get signed into law” and then “moving on to other parts of our aggressive agenda.” When asked if he thought the administration’s alleged beheading of Moeller might constitute obstruction of justice, if not murder, McConnell replied he had “no comment on pending investigations.” 

There was one critical voice coming from Capitol Hill. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that if Tr-mp was involved in the firing, pilloring, and beheading of Special Counsel Moeller that his actions would be “inappropriate.”

Meanwhile, reporters from all the over the area flocked to Washington in order to interview Tr-mp supporters before they could leave the rally and return home to their economically-challenged rural communities. Many Tr-mp supporters openly doubted the reports of the beheading, one older man, wearing a Rush Limbaugh tee shirt, calling it, “another phony story planted by the drive-by media.” Still another rally attendee said he doubted the media reports because “everybody knows you can’t hit a human head 250 yards with a normal driver.” Then, after hesitating, said, “But if anyone could, Tr-mp could.”

Another woman attending the rally told a Washington Post reporter that the whole thing was a “Chinese hoax.” A man who left the rally early to get to his job at a fast-food restaurant he said is secretly frequented by Tr-mp, told the New York Times, “You know, it may have been Tr-mp. But it really could have been anybody. It could have been a 400-pound man who got tired of hearing all of the fake Russia-Tr-mp news coverage and just couldn’t take it anymore,” the man said, adding, “Whoever it was, though, it probably wasn’t Putin.”

White House spokesmen have issued no on- or off-camera comment, but Tr-mp tweeted just after his rally: So many people were asking why didn’t the Special Council [sic] look into the Hillary Clinton and Comey crimes? Well, maybe he WAS and THEY had him killed! Sad!”

 

This Is Why We Have The Right-Wing Government We Have

While it is absolutely proper to focus on the disintegration of our democracy, in terms of how Tr-mp and his defenders aided and abetted (and still are) Russia’s attack on our electoral process and Putin’s poisoning the well of trust in the mainstream press, I think I should point out something happening here in my own state. We have our own version of Tr-mp and Tr-mpism. Our governor is a mini-Tr-mp. Our legislature is a mini-House Freedom Caucus. Reactionary forces dominate our state as if, as I have said before, we were Louisiana.

The Kansas City Star published a story this morning (“Thousands of Missourians are about to be cut from prescription drug program“) that is breathtakingly sad for a couple of reasons. Here is how the story began:

More than 60,000 elderly Missourians got a letter from the state last month informing them they were about to be cut off from a program that had helped them pay for prescription drugs.

Marjorie Prunty, 74, of Platte County, remembers what she thought when her letter arrived.

“I’m going to die.”

Now, think about that. An elderly citizen, a citizen of our state, a citizen of the wealthiest and most powerful nation on the face of the earth, fears for her life. And she fears for her life because of this:

In May, state lawmakers voted to save $15 million in the state’s $27 billion budget by cutting a state program called MORx.

Those earning between 85 percent and 185 percent of the federal poverty level, or up to about $22,000 a year for an individual, had previously qualified for MORx, which covered 50 percent of out-of-pocket prescription drug costs.

Now those 63,000 people — including more than 6,000 in Jackson County alone — are no longer eligible.

Way back in 2006, when MORx was created as a “wrap-around” benefit to George W. Bush’s Medicare Part D prescription drug entitlement program, our Republican governor, Matt Blunt, said:

We are pleased to help low-income seniors and those with disabilities continue to receive their needed medications.

Here in 2017, Republicans are no longer pleased to help low-income seniors and disabled Missourians. That’s how far we have fallen as a state, how far the GOP has fallen as a political party. And Marjorie Prunty, 74, of Platte County, now thinks, “I’m going to die.” That is pathetic. It is sad. But what is more pathetic, what is sadder than that, is how the Star story ended:

Prunty says she’s been reaching out to her representative and the governor’s office to share her story. She doesn’t believe she has much hope, but has no ill-will towards politicians in Jefferson City.

“I voted for these people. I’m not mad at them,” she said. “They just don’t understand. They don’t know what it’s like to be poor. They can’t identify with us.”

What do you say to someone who thinks that way? She fears for her life. She knows why she fears for her life. But apparently because she “voted for these people,” she isn’t “mad at them.” This isn’t a case of a low-information or stupid voter not knowing what is going on. This woman, Marjorie Prunty, knows what is going on. And despite her fear she will die, despite knowing who is causing her fear that she will die, I can just about guarantee you that when it comes time to vote next year, she’ll vote for the same people who threaten her life with their right-wing cruelty.

Whatever it is that makes Marjorie Prunty think the way she does explains why we have not only a cruel right-wing state legislature, but a cruel Republican-led national one—and why we have Tr-mp-Pence-Putin in the White’s House.

I have no words to explain this reality. I can only just walk away, head down.

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