Monday, February 29, 2016

Why No One Should Be Surprised That Donald Trump Didn't Disavow The KKK

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., in this file photo taken July 10, 2015. Trump swatted away the latest controversy to shadow his unorthodox march toward the Republican presidential nomination on Monday, attributing his failure to disavow support from a white supremacist to a faulty television earpiece. 
Why no one should be surprised that Donald Trump didn’t disavow the KKK
Trashing Donald Trump for failing to disavow the Ku Klux Klan and one of its better-known living figures, David Duke, is all the rage in Republican circles right now.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the presidential candidate it seems much of the Republican establishment is hoping can lay waste to Trump's campaign, described Trump's defense or at least absent critique of the KKK and Duke as an act that renders Trump “unelectable.” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) issued an anti-Trump declaration on Twitter this weekend after Trump's comments indicating that he cannot, in good conscience, support Trump. Sasse said he would instead “look for some third candidate — a conservative option, a constitutionalist.” And MSNBC host and newly minted Washington Post contributor and former Florida congressman Joe Scarborough (R) has described Trump's whole gentle David Duke, KKK commentary as a "disqualifier."

And the critiques really do not stop there. Many are coming from fellow Republicans, conservative media and think-tank types who, coincidentally, also want to derail the fast-moving and well-powered Trump campaign. And, as if on-schedule, Trump has offered another one of his classic blame-the-media explanations for the whole darn thing. This time, it's the media and its faulty equipment -- a bad earpiece that rendered CNN host Jake Tapper's question about Duke and white supremacists hard to hear. Trump was, as per usual, not interviewed in person but from a distance with the assistance of technology. And it did not perform well. Trump says he could not really hear the questions that were being asked.
Right. Maybe. Or, maybe Trump had some concern that speaking too badly about the Klan might dredge up some not-so-distant family history, as The Fix has written about.
But, alas, this moment allegedly brought to us all by a bad earpiece isn't exactly the first, the second or even the 50th bit of evidence that a central part of Trump's campaign and appeal to voters is built upon what many reporters have politely but rather insufficiently described as the growing "anxiety" about America's shrinking white middle and working classes. Much of this logic hinges on the counterfactual notion that, if 11 million people -- most of them Latinos who earn paltry wages -- were shipped out of the country tomorrow, the jobs available would somehow restore or provide white America's economic security. That, folks, just plain is not true. So, reason says that what these people believe that they would get out of a massive deportation program is really something else.
There is a big blinking sign pointing right at this. For all of the sudden Republican hand-wringing and wagon-circling in the battle to dethrone Trump, Donald Trump remains a relative newcomer to the national political scene, and this kind of equivocation existed long before he showed up.
Many, many national Republican candidates have made similar claims about what is necessary to restore the United States' allegedly lost, alleged former glory. But that work has often connected the proper social order, safety and personal economic security of some Americans with constraining, incarcerating, closely policing and dominating nonwhite Americans.
Simply put, that's been a central part of almost every Republican presidential campaign and certainly many congressional races since Barry Goldwater became that party's presidential nominee in 1964. And those are campaign tactics, strategies and claims and arguments that have inculcated at least some portion of the entire electorate -- Republicans and Democrats alike -- with what are fundamentally racist, sometimes white supremacist ideas.
Other candidates have just been more subtle. That's all. Sometimes they weren't even that.
For those of you now enraged, please take a deep breath and consider the following from very recent political history.
Let us take, for example, the explanation of the GOP's 2012 presidential loss offered by a Republican often considered to be quite "moderate." This is a Republican who has, during the 2016 election cycle, emerged as a voice of reason and offered fairly consistent -- and we must say, well-reasoned -- critiques of Trump. But think back to that moment just after the 2012 election, when Mitt Romney told reporters that he lost because of Obama's "gifts" and free stuff for minorities. Actually, Romney also included "young people." Perhaps he meant young, liberal white people in this explanation, too.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney delivers his concession speech during his election night rally in Boston, Massachusetts, November 7, 2012. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)
Consider that Romney said this in mid-November, when the fact that his own campaign had won 59 percent of the white vote (just four points more than McCain in 2008) was well-known. So, too, was the fact that he lost black, Hispanic and Asian voters by even larger spreads than McCain. And the latter is particularly important because Asians, as a group, have higher education levels and median income than all other racial and ethnic groups, making their personal need for "free stuff" less than pronounced. Romney also had to have known that a larger proportion of black women turned out and voted than any other group.
We can understand Romney's reluctance to acknowledge that one of the so-called "free" things Obama delivered during his first term was health insurance reform sought by Democrats since Truman -- or that, even in 2012, there was evidence that this program would eliminate health insurance coverage disparities between white and black kids (as Obamacare did in 2014). We can certainly understand why this wealthy man who unquestionably earned even more money in his lifetime would not want to acknowledge that at least some portion of Obama's stimulus package and other economic ideas brought the U.S. and, for that matter, the world economy back from the brink. We even understand that Romney and some voters today aren't willing to face the full truth about the changing composition of the American electorate -- nor the fact that white Americans have not been participating in presidential elections at the rate that they could for decades.
Some of this may be a principled matter of political disagreement. Some of this may have been a public attempt to bolster his own understandably bruised ego. But Romney and anyone else who repeats the free-stuff claim should and probably do know that this claim is, first, fundamentally wrong on the facts. White Americans comprise the numerical majority of the individuals receiving almost every form of public assistance or social support in the United States. That is a fact. It is also true that regions of the country where people vote overwhelmingly for Republicans, not Democrats, receive the largest share of taxpayer-financed help of various kinds. Fact.
When someone as capable with numbers and as rational as Mitt Romney offers up this kind of excuse for a campaign loss with many other quite logical explanations, Americans really should pay attention. What he really did was tap into a long-running set of racial stereotypes and rationalizations that have been used to explain disproportionate black and Latino poverty in the United States since before the end of slavery. The free-stuff idea may be more subtle than membership in or gentle public commentary about the KKK. But the free-stuff argument is most definitely a product of  white supremacy.
Now, that is not to say that every Republican is a racist and every Democrat is not. That is beyond simplistic and untrue. But Trump is a relatively new figure on the national political stage. He cannot be blamed alone for thinking this pervasive in the electorate.
In reality, Republicans have trafficked in a vicious circle of ideas about race, effort, opportunity, equality and superiority for nearly 60 years. Republican presidential candidates and many a members of Congress have used some version of the Southern Strategy to motivate white voters and to win elections. More recently, it seems that scarcely updated versions of the same tactics have been used to distract the party's increasingly economically distressed working-class white voters. It's quite useful to have them believe that illegal immigrants, affirmative action, social safety net programs, voter fraud and, last but not least, political correctness are their biggest political problems. That secures votes for Republican candidates and, at the same time, allows those same people, once in office, to avoid some very hard and complicated policy work around the labor, tax and entitlement policies that shape all Americans' lives.
Sen. Barry Goldwater testifies before House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee. 

Republican voters -- 49 percent of whom now back Trump, according to a CNN poll out Monday -- have been primed for Trump's campaign, its overt racism and xenopobia for decades. Romney's free stuff and Trump's claims about dangerous illegal immigrants, Muslims and political correctness are very much coming from the same very old playbook.
In fact, they are so much a part of modern American political culture that almost everyone agrees that the myth of millions of black welfare queens has elected presidents on both sides of the political aisle. We know that race-related ideas about danger, risk, criminality and incompetence have fueled public policy, George H.W. Bush's infamous Willie Horton ad and more recent Obama attack ads where his skin was digitally darkened.
And in 2016, we have all watched experienced political reporters struggle to figure out how to describe Trump's statements about undocumented Mexican immigrants, his calls for a ban on Muslim immigration or a Muslim surveillance program in language that felt accurate but "fair."
We have also heard former Florida governor Jeb Bush echo Mitt Romney's free-stuff claims during his own failed presidential bid. And if you read any comments beneath political stories in the last few days, you have almost certainly seen something quite similar repeated many times and in many ways by both Republicans and some Democrats to explain Hillary Clinton's huge South Carolina Democratic primary win.
We won't question the sincerity of each of the men who critiqued Trump for his soft touch on the KKK. We are, after all, talking about the KKK. Disavowing the organization probably has the same kind of nearly universal support enjoyed by advocates of expanded literacy.
What we are saying here is that there is very little reason that any voter paying attention to presidential politics since 1964 should find themselves in need of Republican Party smelling salts right now.

Janell Ross is a reporter for The Fix who writes about race, gender, immigration and inequality.

Melania Trump, First Lady
(Or First Centerfold?)

Evangelicals LOVE Donald Trump: 
We Are Known By The Company We Keep

Trump's Immigrant Slovenian Wife (And Nude GQ Model) Gives First Interview

Alan: Despite Trump's encouragement of the worst angels of our nature, I want him to win the Republican nomination 
in order to reveal the terrified face of American conservatism.
Remember: If you're terrified, the terrorists won.
And you made their victory possible.

Must-See Video Of New Hampshire State Representative And Trump Supporter, Susan DeLemus

Trump's Immigrant Slovenian Wife (And Nude GQ Model) Gives First Interview

Donald Trump: The Paranoid Style In American Politics And The Ongoing Festival Of Hatred

Updated Compendium Of Pax Posts About Donald Trump

Update On Ivana Trump's Revelations Concerning Donald's Fondness For Hitler's Speeches 

Trump: For The Fearful, Random Decisiveness Is More Attractive Than Wisdom, Prudence, Truth

Spot-On Truth-Teller Donald Trump: The Most Important Thing Said At The Republican Debate

Moderate Republican For Trump: Only Trump Can Restore GOP Sanity... By A Landslide Loss

Chris Rock Just Gave A Brilliant And Brave Oscar Speech About Hollywood Racism

Seinfeld Drives With Chris Rock, Colbert And Obama For Coffee

Chris Rock Just Gave a Brilliant and Brave Oscar Speech About Hollywood Racism

| Sun Feb. 28, 2016 
Chris Rock's Monologue Video:

In his searing opening monologue for the 88th Academy Awards—what he dubbed the "White People's Choice Awards"—comedian Chris Rock relentlessly roasted Hollywood's racism, in a year criticized for only nominating white actors.
"We want opportunity," he said. "We want black actors to get the same opportunities as white actors. That's it." Watch the full clip above.
It was, in fact, a year marked by stellar performances from actors of color, includingMichael B. JordanAbraham Attah, Idris Elba, Teyonah ParrisO'Shea Jackson,Ava DuVernay, and David Oyelowo. And Chris Rock, without pulling any punches, called the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences out on it: "If they nominated a host, I wouldn't even get this job."
He went on: "Is Hollywood racist? You damn right Hollywood's racist," Rock said. "Hollywood is sorority racist: We like you Rhonda, but you're not a Kappa."
Since its list of nominees was unveiled in January, the Academy has been criticized for its failure to nominate a single minority actor for the second year in a row. The move fueled outrage from celebrities, with some like Spike LeeJada Pinkett Smith, and Will Smith refusing to attend this year's ceremony. There was also an online campaign using the hashtag #OscarSoWhite. (One bright spot: Mexican filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu, who is vying to become the first director since Joseph Mankiewicz to win best director for the second year in a row for The Revenant.)
In response to the criticism, the Academy vowed to change its membership rules to boost diversity among voters. (This could take a while: A recent Los Angeles Timesanalysis found that Oscar voters are currently 91 percent white and 77 percent male.) The film industry's diversity problem comes down to, in part, a problem with the creative pipeline, which is largely made up of white guys. Research shows film studios may be throwing away millions of dollars for their failure to embrace diversity.

It was the talk of the night, as actors took to the marathon of preshow red carpet interviews to raise awareness, not just about diversity, but about sexual assaults on college campuses and clergy sexual abuse.

Donald Trump And David Duke Blown Away By The Good Spirits Of "19 Miles From Davis"

Dear F,

Thanks for your email. 

Sorry to be slow on the backswing.

It was a late night; rehearsal at Alger's, followed by the last 90 minutes of Oscars at Chuck's place.

I don't know if Danny is aware of David Duke. I doubt it but will check.

Humankind's historical memory is astonishingly short and most people don't pay attention anyhow.

Twenty years ago, an Annapolis history professor said "teaching cadets about Vietnam was like teaching them the Peloponnesian Wars."

For your amusement... 

"Trump Derailed By Obama Endorsement"
The Borowitz Report

Yesterday's rehearsal produced some good recordings.


Day Tripper: (This track was recorded after most band members had gone and my voice was ragged from overuse. Still, I think you'll see the potential.) 

A number of venues have expressed interest in 19 -- mostly Spring and Summer gigs.

Still, "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" and -- mirabile dictu! -- we just signed our first paying gig at Raleigh's Gizmo BrewWorks - June 10th. 

I'm also hoping 19 will do twice monthly dance parties on the lawn at Ixtapa. I think it'll be great for high school kids to have their "own" dance hall - under the stars too!

We start recording at Pete Kimosh's Durham studio on March 6th with a second session set for March 20th. 

The four songs we'll record at the outset are "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke and Loud, Loud Music," Jumping Jack Flash," Ronnie Shellist's' "Evil Woman" and "Baby, Now That I've Found You" (by the great Alison Krauss). 

In subsequent sessions, we hope to "flesh out" an album choosing the remaining songs from "Black Velvet," "Fire," "Come Together," "Somebody To Love," "Can't You See," "You Make Loving Fun," "Wagon Wheel," "The Weight," "Up On Cripple Creek," "L'il Red Riding Hood," "Wicked Game," "Tired Of Waiting," "Time Won't Let Me," "Summertime" and a couple compositions by band leader John Newnam and his brother Dan. 

If we can get Chuck to play piano we could also record our tribute version of Bowie's "Space Oddity."



On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 3:53 PM, FV wrote:

Dear A
Trump just decided to disavow Duke. Apparently someone told him who he is.
I was surprised to see 2 college students in Alabama being interviewed on MSNBC who did not know Duke. Does it surprise you? Does Danny know who he is?


Former Clinton Official, Robert Reich, Endorses Bernie Sanders

I wasn't planning to endorse a presidential candidate in the Democratic primary. I have deep respect for both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, and I planned to weigh in only on issues and policies from the sidelines.
But by last Friday, I couldn't in good conscience hold back. So I formally endorsed Bernie Sanders for president.
I'll say more about why in a minute, but first, I have a simple request. Today is the end of the quarter for Bernie Sanders. Right now, the only way we can get Big Money out of politics is by huge numbers of us contributing small money. That's why Bernie has set an exceptionally ambitious goal of raising $40 million this month before tonight's midnightFEC fundraising deadline. 
st among them, I believe Big Money is choking our democracy. It's perhaps the issue we must solve to move forward.
It's clear that Bernie has the passion and the track record to take on Big Money. But it's more than that. He's been leading by example—running a stunningly inspiring grassroots campaign that's unlike any other campaign in recent presidential history.
It's not powered by billionaire Super PACs but by millions of small donations from Americans. As the young people at his rallies know—and often shout back to him, joyously, during his speeches—his supporters' donations average just $27.
Bernie's building a movement by the little guy and gal, for the little guy and gal—for the people, not just the wealthiest few. His campaign has stunned the inside-the-Beltway political establishment—proving the cynics wrong.
Bernie's campaign is pointing out serious challenges in our democracy and economy, but it's fundamentally optimistic. He’s showing that we don't have to give up control of our destiny to Wall Street hedge fund managers and energy company billionaires. We, the people, can take our power back.
If we don't reverse the tide of damage wrought by decisions like Citizens United—and soon—then everything we care about achieving as a country will be out of reach. From reining in Wall Street to caring for our seniors to rebuilding our schools and crumbling infrastructure.
Time is running out—in this election year, and in the sweep of our country's history.
Bernie's campaign is happening at a crucial pivot-point in our history. Let's show up for it, together.
Thanks for all you do.
—Robert Reich

"Donald Trump and the Ku Klux Klan: A History," The New Yorker

Donald Trump and the Ku Klux Klan: A History


For months, as Donald Trump developed his political repertoire, he adopted an uncharacteristic reply for questions about fascism and the Ku Klux Klan: silence, or something close to it.
He used the technique as early as last August, when his opponents, and the press, still generally regarded him as a summer amusement. On August 26th, Bloomberg Television anchor John Heilemann brought up David Duke, the former Klan Grand Wizard, who had said that Trump was “the best of the lot” in the 2016 campaign. Trump replied that he had no idea who Duke was. Heilemann asked if Trump would repudiate Duke’s endorsement. “Sure,” Trump said, “if that would make you feel better, I would certainly repudiate. I don’t know anything about him.” Changing tack, Heilemann pressed Trump about an article in this magazine, which described Trump’s broad support among neo-Nazis, white nationalists, and other members of the far right who were drawn in by his comments about Mexicans. Trump maintained a posture of indifference. “Honestly, John, I’d have to read the story. A lot of people like me.” The interview moved on to other topics.
It should be noted that Trump’s unfamiliarity with Duke is a recent condition. In 2000, Trump issued a statement that he was no longer considering a run for President with the backing of the Reform Party, partly because it “now includes a Klansman, Mr. Duke.”
Throughout last fall and into the winter, Trump continued to accumulate support among white nationalists. In November, on a weekend in which he said that a black protester, at a rally in Alabama, deserved to be “roughed up,” Trump retweeted a graphic composed of false racist statistics on crime; the graphic, it was discovered, originated from a neo-Nazi account that used as its profile image a variation on the swastika. In January, he retweeted the account “@WhiteGenocideTM,” which identified its location as “Jewmerica.” Shortly before the Iowa caucuses, a pro-Trump robocall featured several white supremacists, including the author Jared Taylor, who told voters, “We don’t need Muslims. We need smart, well-educated white people.” Each time Trump was asked on Twitter about his white nationalist supporters, the candidate, who is ready to respond, day or night, to critics of his debating style or his golf courses, simply ignored the question.
Only under special circumstances did Trump summon a forceful response on matters of the Klan: in January, BoingBoing unearthed a newspaper report from 1927 on the arraignment of a man with the name and address of Donald Trump’s father; the story was about attendees of a Klan rally who fought with police, though it wasn’t clear from the story why the Trump in the piece was arrested. Asked about it, Donald Trump denied that his father had had any connection to a Klan rally. “It’s a completely false, ridiculous story. He was never there! It never happened. Never took place.”
But recently, as Trump’s campaign has received much belated closer scrutiny, his reliable approach to the Klan problem has faltered. On Thursday, Duke offered his strongest support for the candidate yet, telling radio listeners that a vote for one of Trump’s rivals would be “treason to your heritage.” The next day, when Trump had hoped to focus on his endorsement by Governor Chris Christie, of New Jersey, a reporter shouted a question about Duke’s embrace, and Trump said, “David Duke endorsed me? O.K., all right, I disavow. O.K.?” For the moment, it worked, and the press conference moved on. Christie, in fact, bore the brunt of the Duke association: he appeared on the front page of the Daily News on Saturday, as the “MAN WITH A KLAN,” with his picture beside agroup of hooded Klansmen. In a different spirit, the Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi news site that long ago endorsed Trump, awarded Christie the title “Heroic Deputy.” (Christie’s overnight evolution from trashing Trump to obeying him repulsed even the political class, a group that is usually more forgiving of self-rationalization. The technology executive Meg Whitman, who had been one of Christie’s top backers, called his alliance with Trump “an astonishing display of political opportunism,” and asked Christie’s donors and supporters “to reject the governor and Donald Trump outright.”)
Over the weekend, Trump’s purported indifference to support from white supremacists and fascists became an inescapable problem. He had retweeted a Mussolini quote from @ilduce2016 (which, it turned out, was an account created by Gawker to trap Trump)—“It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep”—and, when asked, on NBC, if he wanted to associate himself with Mussolini, he said that he wanted “to be associated with interesting quotes.” He added, “Mussolini was Mussolini. . . . What difference does it make?” On CNN, Jake Tapper pressed him about David Duke, and Trump, seeming to forget that he had given a one-line disavowal, reverted to a position of theatrical incomprehension: “Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, O.K.?” Tapper asked three times if Trump would denounce the Klan’s support, and each time Trump declined. “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists,” he said. “So I don’t know. I don’t know—did he endorse me, or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.”

By Monday, less than twenty-four hours before primary voting on Super Tuesday, his non-answers about the Klan were creating a crisis, and Trump introduced a new explanation: audio trouble. “I’m sitting in a house in Florida with a very bad earpiece that they gave me, and you could hardly hear what he was saying,” he said on the “Today” show. “But what I heard was various groups, and I don’t mind disavowing anybody, and I disavowed David Duke and I disavowed him the day before at a major news conference, which is surprising because he was at the major news conference, CNN was at the major news conference, and they heard me very easily disavow David Duke.”
There may be no better measure of the depravity of this campaign season than the realization that it’s not clear whether Trump’s overt appreciation for fascism, and his sustained salute to American racists, will have a positive or negative effect on his campaign. For now, his opponents are rejoicing. Marco Rubio, the Florida senator, pronounced him “unelectable.” Governor John Kasich, of Ohio, called Trump’s comments “just horrific.” But it is by now a truism to note that Trump has survived pratfalls that other politicians have not. A surprisingly large portion of Americans believed him when he pushed a racist campaign denying the birthplace of Barack Obama; a comparably chilling portion of Americans were attracted when he called Mexicans rapists. By the end of the day on Sunday, he had received the endorsement of Senator Jeff Sessions, of Alabama, the first sitting senator to officially line up with Trump. Sessions was not likely to be bothered by Trump’s flirtations with the Klan. In 1986, he was rejected from a federal judgeship after saying that he thought the Klan was “O.K. until I learned they smoked pot.”

In the weeks to come, Trump is virtually guaranteed to accumulate additional endorsements from politicians like Christie and Sessions, who have divined their interests in drafting behind the strongest candidate for the Republican nomination. Whether driven by fear of irrelevance, or attracted by the special benefits of being an early adopter, Christie seemed compelled to do it, and now the remnant of his political reputation is going from a solid to a gas. But the true obscenity of his decision, and those of other Trumpists, may take years to be fully appreciated. In an editorial last week, the Washington Post declared that“history will not look kindly on GOP leaders who fail to do everything in their power to prevent a bullying demagogue from becoming their standard-bearer.” That’s true, but history will judge even more harshly those who stand with Trump now that it is indefensibly clear with whom they are standing