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Today in Trump’s America

[ 136 ] December 2, 2016 |


Example #1: The execution of former Jets running back Joe McKnight.

Ronald Gasser, the man authorities say shot and killed former NFL player Joe McKnight, was released from custody overnight without being charged, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office authorities said Friday morning (Dec. 2).

Gasser, 54, has not been formally charged, said JPSO spokesman Col. John Fortunato. Investigators are consulting with the district attorney’s office on the decision whether to formally charge Gasser, Fortunato said.

As the investigation into McKnight’s death continues, Fortunato asked anyone with information about the shooting to contact department homicide detectives at 504-364-5393.

McKnight, 28, was shot about 3 p.m. Thursday (Dec. 1) at the intersection of Behrman Highway and Holmes Boulevard in Terrytown. A witness, who declined to give her name, said she saw a man at the intersection yelling at McKnight, who was trying to apologize. The man shot McKnight more than once, the witness said. She said he shot McKnight, stood over him and said, “I told you don’t you f— with me.” Then the man fired again, she said.

He murdered an unarmed man execution style and the cops just let him go. That my friends is what you call a racist nation with a racist “justice” system allowing for whites to kill black people and be treated with kid gloves. Maybe he and George Zimmerman can go on the road together.

Example 2: Trump giving white men the room to do whatever they want to Muslims.

Three men physically attacked a Muslim teenager at a Manhattan subway stop on Thursday night while shouting the name of the President-elect, police told the New York Daily News.

Police said the unidentified 18-year-old victim was waiting alone for the uptown 6 train at the 23rd Street and Park Avenue station when three young men approached her shouting “Donald Trump.”

Officers told the Daily News that they followed her onto the train, continuing to shout Trump’s name and allegedly calling her a “fucking terrorist.” The men, who the victim said appeared intoxicated, also allegedly told her to “get the hell out of the country” and said she didn’t “belong here.”

When she did not respond, they ripped her purse off her shoulder, breaking the strap, and attempted to pull off her hijab, police said.

What is terrible here is also that no one intervened and stood up for this woman. When we see this, we must do the right thing, even if that places us in physical danger ourselves. When we cower in terror, understandable as this may be when it happens, we enable fascists to act ever more boldly, leading to increasingly horrible crimes. I know it’s easy for me to sit here and write this and I’m not trying to act as a keyboard warrior. I’m just saying we all have to figure what we are going to actually do in these situations if we see them. And some people are doing the right thing and intervening.



[ 65 ] December 2, 2016 |


The chances of a recession are pretty high in the next 4 years, just looking at historical trends. Given the incredible length of time it took for jobs to recover after the last recession, a trend that has been vastly increasing in recent recessions, we as a nation are really not ready for the next one. Now imagine what a recession looks like with Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

Is it too early to start drinking?

White Privilege and the Democratic Party Elite

[ 85 ] December 2, 2016 |
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., center, and Senate Democrats gather outside the Capitol to urge Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other House Republicans, to break the impasse on a funding bill and stop the government shutdown that is now in its second week, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in Washington. With so many furloughed federal workers living in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs outside Washington, senators from those states made special pleas. At right is Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. At far left is Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., center, and Senate Democrats gather outside the Capitol to urge Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other House Republicans, to break the impasse on a funding bill and stop the government shutdown that is now in its second week, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in Washington. With so many furloughed federal workers living in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs outside Washington, senators from those states made special pleas. At right is Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. At far left is Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

This story about the racial makeup of top Democratic staffers in the Senate is more than a little dismaying:

“They are all so phony,” the staffer told me. “Every time I hear any of the Democratic senators, including my own boss, talk about diversity, I cringe, because it’s all one big lie. That they’ve been allowed to enjoy this reputation as a party that values diversity, while doing next to nothing of substance to align their actions with their words, is expert-level deception.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

The staffer went on to detail a private network of conversations being held by staff members of color in the U.S. Senate which they half-jokingly call the “Underground Railroad.”

“Democrats in the Senate use demographics as their excuse for the fact that they only have one African-American member in their ranks. They’ll tell anyone who listens that they wish this wasn’t the case and to the untrained ear, it sounds true. It isn’t. The Senate looks just the way want it,” the staffer told me.

I must admit that I had also bought the lie — hook, line, and sinker — that only two current U.S. Senators out of 100, Cory Booker, a Democrat, and Tim Scott, a Republican, were black because state by state demographics just made it too hard for African-Americans to win statewide elections.

“No, that’s not it. Of course demographics are a factor in every election, but the Senate looks the way Senators want it to look. Let me prove it to you.”

What I learned next made my jaw drop.

“Do you know how many black Chiefs of Staff exist in the Senate? The whole Senate? One. Out of one hundred chances they had to hire a black chiefs of staff, they hired just one African-American,” the staffer said in disgust.

“But hold up, hold up,” the staffer continued. “I haven’t even given you the punchline yet. Guess who the one black Chief of Staff works for?”

“Who?” I asked — having no idea what the answer was.

“Tim Scott,” the staffer replied. “The lone black chief of staff in the entire United States Senate works for South Carolina Republican, Tim Scott. His office may be the most diverse in the entire Senate.”

That’s, um, not good. And while I have no way to access the educational backgrounds of Senate staffers, it takes no great leap of faith to expect that many of them come from elite schools and wealthy families that basically recreate the aristocratic class in Washington, on Wall Street, and in every other bastion of power in America. While you’d expect this from Republicans, it’s deeply dismaying but not surprising from Democrats. This is how white privilege works. You say you are for greater diversity and for greater opportunities for people of color. And your probably are. But then in your personal hiring practices, you are part of the problem.

2016’s Dumbest Argument

[ 97 ] December 2, 2016 |


That title suggests a high bar. As you might expect though, an essay in The Federalist is going to be able to clear it. And here we have this pablum telling liberals to stop whining about the electoral college. This is mostly just dumb for all the reasons you expect. And then this pops up about the Three-Fifths Compromise. Because, you see, it discriminated against slaveowners:

How does a specialist in constitutional law miss the word “compromise” in “three-fifths compromise”? How does one of America’s most-cited legal scholars fail to consider that five-fifths (that’s one) and three-fifths weren’t the only options available?

It wasn’t pretty that day around the Constitution. Northern and Southern states fought bitterly over how to count slaves, who couldn’t vote, in population numbers. Since population numbers determined legislative power, Southern states of course wanted to count slaves like they counted everyone else. Abolition-conscious Northern states wanted to eliminate slaves from population counts completely.

Northern states argued that if Southern states could count their property (slaves), Northern states could count theirs (horses, chickens, etc.). Because executive fiat by phone and by pen had not yet been invented, the two sides had no choice but to compromise. That’s why it’s called “the three-fifths compromise.”

As Reed points out, the three-fifths compromise “discounted” the value of slaves relative to white men, but it enhanced the power of slaves relative to white men in reducing by two-fifths the South’s power to preserve slavery legislatively. The Electoral College set the stage for legislative abolition of slavery, so you can say it was about slavery if you want, but tell the whole truth.

Yes, that is tragic to only allow the South to count slaves at 60 percent of a human when in fact the law did not even consider slaves human in any legal way! And this only allowed the Slave Power and their northern sympathizers to control nearly the entire federal government between 1789 and 1860! Why can’t you libs tell the whole story!!!!

On Tuesday, the last speaker in the amazing series of speakers I co-organized this fall at the University of Rhode Island on the theme of Inequality and the American Dream was on campus. This was the great Jelani Cobb. He noted that in fact after Reconstruction, southern whites actually benefited from Jim Crow more than they had from slavery. African-Americans couldn’t vote during either period, but during Jim Crow, apportionment counted 100 percent of black people instead of 60 percent. Thus the control of the South over the government after Reconstruction was at least as entrenched as during slavery. That’s effectively what this Federalist piece is longing for, even if it gives it a soft sell under the guise of modern Americans being stupid whiners. Finally, southern white men had their deserved power. And sadly, that’s the goal for all too many whites in Trump’s America.

I do not recommend searching for additional mangoes here.

British Music Humor

[ 44 ] December 1, 2016 |

This should be true and not satire.

Mary Fisher, owner of the Demon Bean in Kilburn, took desperate measures after an infestation of laptop-wielding ‘digital nomads’ threatened her business.

She said: “They’d sit there, typing away, not buying anything. I had to take desperate measures, so I put on Liege & Lief by Fairport Convention, the one band it is not possible to like in an ironic way.

“There is nothing remotely cool about Fairport and their sincere evocations of the English folk tradition, combined with equally unfashionable rock elements.”

Freelance digital marketer Francesca Johnson said: “It is impossible to do my job without feeling zeitgeisty, and beardy warbling about fields and blacksmiths is the least zeitgeisty thing on the planet.

“If they got in some nomadic Tuareg synth players to beef it up a bit, I could get behind this. As it stands, it is everything I hate condensed into an earnest, six-minute stomp.

“I bet everyone who likes this voted for Brexit.

“Fortunately, there are another 40,000 cafes in walking distance where I can blog about Italian horror film chic while nursing a single espresso for five hours.”

I would totally go to this cafe. And I’d buy a cup of tea.

Sanctuary Cities and the Courts

[ 49 ] December 1, 2016 |


Noah Feldman argues that decades of conservative federalism will now help liberals on issues like sanctuary cities.

President-elect Donald Trump says he will make “sanctuary cities” help deport immigrants by taking away their federal funding if they don’t change their policies. The good news is that he and Congress can’t do it — not without violating the Constitution.

Two core rules of federalism preclude Trump’s idea: The federal government can’t coerce states (or cities) into action with a financial “gun to the head,” according to Supreme Court precedent developed by Chief Justice John Roberts in the 2012 Affordable Care Act case. And federal officials can’t “commandeer” state officials to do their work for them under a 1997 decision that involved gun purchases under the Brady Act.

Behold the revenge of conservative federalism: Judge-made doctrines developed to protect states’ rights against progressive legislation can also be used to protect cities against Trump’s conservative policies. Ain’t constitutional law grand?

As you may recall, Roberts’s landmark opinion in NFIB v. Sebelius both upheld Obamacare and gutted it at the same time. Roberts voted to uphold the individual insurance mandate as a permissible use of Congress’s power to tax. But he simultaneously struck down the Medicaid extension except insofar as states might choose it voluntarily.

The ACA as written threatened states with eventual withdrawal of essentially all their Medicaid funding unless they agreed to the extension of the program to millions of new patients.

Roberts analyzed the issue by saying that, under the spending clause of the Constitution, Congress can’t create a funding condition that is unrelated to the original funding purpose and is so coercive that it amounts to a “gun to the head” of the states. Roberts’s doctrine applies with full force to Trump’s threat to pull cities’ existing funding if they remain sanctuaries by declining to cooperate with federal officials to enforce immigration law.

Well, maybe. The problem is taking conservative arguments in good faith. What is to say a newly conservative Supreme Court won’t just change its mind for cases that help conservative positions? While it’s possible that Kennedy wouldn’t go along with some of that, if Trump gets to name 2 or more justices, the likelihood of the Court being more hacktackular than it already is goes up tremendously. I guess the liberals can use the federalism arguments in its favor and that’s great for the time being. But that’s no guarantee of anything at all.

North Carolina

[ 39 ] December 1, 2016 |

The biggest long-term threat of Trumpism is the end of democracy. That might sound like hyperbole, but it isn’t. All we have to do is look at the last several years in North Carolina, where Pat McCrory and the extremists in the Republican legislature have gone to incredible lengths to ensure they remain in power. That has included such out of control gerrymandering that the courts just threw out their districts and ordered new elections to be held next year. It has included excluding as many black people from voting as possible. It has even included talk of courtpacking since the Democrats took control over the court this year. Even with that, just enough North Carolina voters rejected McCrory that he narrowly lost his reelection bid. And yet, McCrory is refusing to give up power, lying about widespread voter fraud and seeking every possible way to remain in control. It’s so obvious and blatant that even North Carolina Republicans haven’t been willing to go this far. But it is still absolutely outrageous.

Mr. McCrory has refused to concede, and despite having no path to victory, he has been engaged in an all-out assault on the integrity of the election system. His fight appears likely to serve as rationale for a renewed effort in the legislature to make North Carolina’s voting laws and regulations even more onerous.

The McCrory campaign has alleged that his defeat resulted from “massive voter fraud,” an irresponsible claim for which there is no evidence. It challenged the eligibility of 43 voters, contending they were felons. A review of public records by Democracy North Carolina, a voting rights group, established that nearly half of those voters were not, in fact, ineligible.

“It’s scandalous that they would malign innocent people to poison the larger public’s trust in the election system,” Bob Hall, the executive director of Democracy North Carolina, said in an interview. It’s dishonorable for Mr. McCrory to promote voting fraud myths and add fuel to voter suppression efforts as he’s going out the door.

But dishonorable is how McCrory rolls. It’s how the Republican Party rolls. It’s how Donald Trump rolls. And it’s how they are all going to roll if they lose in 2020, despite the massive voter suppression about to happen in many states, if not nationally. Expect Trump to strongly resist giving up the Oval Office, even if he loses by a reasonably significant margin.

Concern Trolling from Cousin Ross

[ 144 ] December 1, 2016 |


Ross Douthat is VERY CONCERNED about the future of the Democratic Party. You may be shocked at his solution–the party should move to the right!

For instance: Democrats could attempt to declare a culture-war truce, consolidating the gains of the Obama era while disavowing attempts to regulate institutions and communities that don’t follow the current social-liberal line. That would mean no more fines for Catholic charities and hospitals, no more transgender-bathroom directives handed down from the White House to local schools, and restraint rather than ruthlessness in future debates over funding and accreditation for conservative religious schools. Without backing away from their support for same-sex marriage and legal abortion, leading Democratic politicians could talk more favorably about moral and religious pluralism, and offer reassurances to people who feel themselves to be dissenters from a very novel cultural regime.

Democrats could also talk anew about the virtues of earned benefits, about programs that help people who help themselves, about moving people from welfare back to work. This (Bill) Clintonian rhetoric hasn’t entirely disappeared from the party, but it has diminished, and some of the Trumpian (and pre-Trumpian) backlash against liberalism in white working-class communities was associated with welfare programs — disability rolls, food stamps, Medicaid — that seem to effectively underwrite worklessness at a time of social disarray. It would not require Democrats abandoning their commitment to the social safety net to foreground programs more directly linked to work and independence, and to acknowledge the problems of dependence and stagnation associated with no-strings-attached support.

In other words, Democrats should hold the precise positions of one Ross Douthat! This is a sure-fire winner moving forward! Please take this with all the seriousness it is worth!


[ 141 ] December 1, 2016 |

The House Science Committee, ladies and gentlemen.

Huns and Hyphens

[ 1 ] November 30, 2016 |

What’s a Wednesday evening without a bad slapstick anti-German comedy from 1918 that features Stan Laurel in a supporting part?

Prince John

[ 57 ] November 30, 2016 |

I don’t usually just compose posts that consist of tweets. But extraordinary times call for unusual measures.

It goes on.

The Colonial Booze Trade

[ 18 ] November 30, 2016 |


We all need things to read other than articles where liberals and the left yell at each other over the election, depressing election post-mortems, and pieces describing the horrors to come. So how about some good reading on the colonial booze trade?

In 1713, because of the lobbying of the powerful brandy producers frantic at having lost the British market during the War of Spanish Succession, a law was passed in France making it illegal to either produce or import distilled alcohol made from anything but wine, a law that stayed in effect for most of the eighteenth century. While English rum was making its way into the Royal Navy, onto fishing vessels headed for Newfoundland and slaving vessels headed for West Africa, and English molasses into the kitchens of both England and New England, the French metropolitan restrictions on rum production and exchange ran both broad and deep, in the first instance dramatically decreasing the value of both French rum and French molasses. Rum produced on the French islands remained the drink of slaves and expanded to some degree throughout the Americas, most often as return cargo for shipments of provisions coming from both French and British northern colonies.

Distilled alcohol was certainly making its way into France’s northern colonies of Louisiana, Acadia, and Canada in the seventeenth century. It was consumed in the towns of Montreal, Quebec, Trois-Rivières, and Port-Royal (and New Orleans in the eighteenth) and traded with Amerindians in the fur trade, but it was not derived from sugar cane syrup. Instead it was almost exclusively French brandy, shipped in the seventeenth century from La Rochelle, and later from the other major Atlantic ports such as Nantes and Bordeaux, as well. Although there are no records establishing exactly when brandy was first introduced to New France as a trade good, it was almost certainly in the first third of the seventeenth century, well before sugar cane plantations and refineries were established on the French-occupied islands of the Caribbean.

Despite this early date, it is likely that the Dutch or the English were, in fact, the first to trade some kind of brandy with Amerindians at Orange in the early seventeenth century. There is evidence that English fur traders in what is now Maine were trading aqua vitae for furs in 1633, and that the Dutch were trading their own brandy for furs in the same decade. Somewhat ironically, there are strong possibilities that the Dutch brandy being traded had as its base material sugar syrups from the French Caribbean islands. The same transatlantic trade in French sugar syrups that produced the spice breads that Du Tertre noted in the 1660s delivered the base material to Dutch distillers in their own country.

Getting thirsty here.

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