In Like Flynn

If something drags down Trump, or at least mires him in the mud, it won’t be Russia. I still think, regarding Trump himself (Kushner is a different story), the real scandal is that he’s in business with some real scumbags, and might be–note the conditional–involved in illegal activities, such as money laundering. He also has deniability regarding Republican operatives working with Russian government aligned hackers.

Where things can get really ugly is regarding Michael Flynn and Turkey, not Russia. Why? Flynn received half a million dollars from Turkey. Flynn pushed hard to delay the assault on Raqqa, allowing the ISIS leadership to get away. So what does that have to do with Turkey?

The assault on Raqqa was opposed by Turkey because it would have been led by the SDF, which contains elements of Kurdish groups with suspected ties to the PKK, a separatist group that Turkey fears (the U.S. officially calls the PKK a terrorist group). Arming the SDF is something Turkey did not want. In fact, after the U.S. eventually did arm the SDF and greenlight the liberation of Raqqa, Turkey and Russia were both livid.

Unfortunately, the many months of delay allowed the leadership of ISIS to escape. Of course, one could argue that Flynn’s position was based on serious foreign policy considerations: perhaps good relations with Turkey are more important that killing the ISIS leadership. But then there’s all that Turkish money.

This begins to enter Benedict Arnold territory. It’s going to be the Turkish connection, not the Russian one, that dings Il Trumpe.

Posted in CIA Spy Shit | Leave a comment

Links 5/28/17

Trump_backchannel
Links for you. Science:

How a Usually Harmless Bacteria Ended Up Killing 18 People in Wisconsin
Are Propensity Scores As Good As Randomized Trials?
Trump’s NASA Budget Eliminates Education Office, Plunging America Into The Dark
Trump budget seeks huge cuts to science and medical research, disease prevention
‘My worst nightmares are coming true’: last major primeval forest in Europe on ‘brink of collapse’

Other:

Face it: The body-slammed reporter did just what you would have done
<a href="https://www.balloon-juice.com/2017/05/25/political-correctness-be-damned-its-truth-bomb-time/"Political Correctness Be Damned: It’s Truth-Bomb Time
That Republicans colluded with Russian hackers to subvert the 2016 election is now beyond dispute
Hard-working taxpayers don’t support big cuts to food stamps, it turns out
This Gianforte assault story is one of those moments where the cultural collapse of the GOP into the Trump Troll Party is captured
DC has a slumlord problem, and not enough inspectors to solve it
“We’re already in jail:” Evictions and private policing at Brookland Manor
Why Democrats in 2018 Shouldn’t Campaign to Impeach Trump
Hogan plans to sign more than 200 bills on Thursday. Paid sick leave is not among them (BOO! HISS!! But at least your freedom to catch someone else’s norovirus is uninfringed)
The New Class War (interesting, but I think there are some holes here)
Outsmarted
It’s the violent left’s fault. Of course.
Did the Turkish President’s Security Detail Attack Protesters in Washington? What the Video Shows
Why Republicans can’t fix health insurance
Anarchists Fill Services Void Left by Faltering Greek Governance

Posted in Lotsa Links | Leave a comment

Sunday Sermon: Confederate Memorials

If you haven’t read it yet, New Orleans’ mayor Mitch Landrieu gave one hell of a speech (boldface mine):

Thank you for coming.

The soul of our beloved City is deeply rooted in a history that has evolved over thousands of years; rooted in a diverse people who have been here together every step of the way – for both good and for ill.

It is a history that holds in its heart the stories of Native Americans: the Choctaw, Houma Nation, the Chitimacha. Of Hernando de Soto, Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, the Acadians, the Islenos, the enslaved people from Senegambia, Free People of Color, the Haitians, the Germans, both the empires of Francexii and Spain. The Italians, the Irish, the Cubans, the south and central Americans, the Vietnamese and so many more.

You see: New Orleans is truly a city of many nations, a melting pot, a bubbling cauldron of many cultures.

There is no other place quite like it in the world that so eloquently exemplifies the uniquely American motto: e pluribus unum — out of many we are one.

But there are also other truths about our city that we must confront. New Orleans was America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were brought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor of misery of rape, of torture.

America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined ‘separate but equal’; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp.

So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.

And it immediately begs the questions: why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame … all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans.

So for those self-appointed defenders of history and the monuments, they are eerily silent on what amounts to this historical malfeasance, a lie by omission.

There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it. For America and New Orleans, it has been a long, winding road, marked by great tragedy and great triumph. But we cannot be afraid of our truth.

As President George W. Bush said at the dedication ceremony for the National Museum of African American History & Culture, “A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.”

So today I want to speak about why we chose to remove these four monuments to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, but also how and why this process can move us towards healing and understanding of each other.

So, let’s start with the facts.

The historic record is clear: the Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and P.G.T. Beauregard statues were not erected just to honor these men, but as part of the movement which became known as The Cult of the Lost Cause. This ‘cult’ had one goal — through monuments and through other means — to rewrite history to hide the truth, which is that the Confederacy was on the wrong side of humanity.

First erected over 166 years after the founding of our city and 19 years after the end of the Civil War, the monuments that we took down were meant to rebrand the history of our city and the ideals of a defeated Confederacy.

It is self-evident that these men did not fight for the United States of America, They fought against it. They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots.

These statues are not just stone and metal. They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments purposefully celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy; ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, and the terror that it actually stood for.

After the Civil War, these statues were a part of that terrorism as much as a burning cross on someone’s lawn; they were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in their shadows about who was still in charge in this city.

Should you have further doubt about the true goals of the Confederacy, in the very weeks before the war broke out, the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens, made it clear that the Confederate cause was about maintaining slavery and white supremacy.

He said in his now famous ‘Cornerstone speech’ that the Confederacy’s “cornerstone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.”

Now, with these shocking words still ringing in your ears, I want to try to gently peel from your hands the grip on a false narrative of our history that I think weakens us and make straight a wrong turn we made many years ago so we can more closely connect with integrity to the founding principles of our nation and forge a clearer and straighter path toward a better city and more perfect union.

Last year, President Barack Obama echoed these sentiments about the need to contextualize and remember all of our history. He recalled a piece of stone, a slave auction block engraved with a marker commemorating a single moment in 1830 when Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay stood and spoke from it.

President Obama said, “Consider what this artifact tells us about history … on a stone where day after day for years, men and women … bound and bought and sold and bid like cattle on a stone worn down by the tragedy of over a thousand bare feet. For a long time the only thing we considered important, the singular thing we once chose to commemorate as history with a plaque were the unmemorable speeches of two powerful men.”

A piece of stone – one stone. Both stories were history. One story told. One story forgotten or maybe even purposefully ignored.

As clear as it is for me today … for a long time, even though I grew up in one of New Orleans’ most diverse neighborhoods, even with my family’s long proud history of fighting for civil rights … I must have passed by those monuments a million times without giving them a second thought.

So I am not judging anybody, I am not judging people. We all take our own journey on race. I just hope people listen like I did when my dear friend Wynton Marsalis helped me see the truth. He asked me to think about all the people who have left New Orleans because of our exclusionary attitudes.

Another friend asked me to consider these four monuments from the perspective of an African American mother or father trying to explain to their fifth grade daughter who Robert E. Lee is and why he stands atop of our beautiful city. Can you do it?

Can you look into that young girl’s eyes and convince her that Robert E. Lee is there to encourage her? Do you think she will feel inspired and hopeful by that story? Do these monuments help her see a future with limitless potential? Have you ever thought that if her potential is limited, yours and mine are too?

We all know the answer to these very simple questions.

When you look into this child’s eyes is the moment when the searing truth comes into focus for us. This is the moment when we know what is right and what we must do. We can’t walk away from this truth.

And I knew that taking down the monuments was going to be tough, but you elected me to do the right thing, not the easy thing and this is what that looks like. So relocating these Confederate monuments is not about taking something away from someone else. This is not about politics, this is not about blame or retaliation. This is not a naïve quest to solve all our problems at once.

This is, however, about showing the whole world that we as a city and as a people are able to acknowledge, understand, reconcile and, most importantly, choose a better future for ourselves, making straight what has been crooked and making right what was wrong.

Otherwise, we will continue to pay a price with discord, with division, and yes, with violence.

To literally put the confederacy on a pedestal in our most prominent places of honor is an inaccurate recitation of our full past, it is an affront to our present, and it is a bad prescription for our future.

History cannot be changed. It cannot be moved like a statue. What is done is done. The Civil War is over, and the Confederacy lost and we are better for it. Surely we are far enough removed from this dark time to acknowledge that the cause of the Confederacy was wrong.

And in the second decade of the 21st century, asking African Americans — or anyone else — to drive by property that they own; occupied by reverential statues of men who fought to destroy the country and deny that person’s humanity seems perverse and absurd.

Centuries-old wounds are still raw because they never healed right in the first place.

Here is the essential truth: we are better together than we are apart. Indivisibility is our essence. Isn’t this the gift that the people of New Orleans have given to the world?

We radiate beauty and grace in our food, in our music, in our architecture, in our joy of life, in our celebration of death; in everything that we do. We gave the world this funky thing called jazz; the most uniquely American art form that is developed across the ages from different cultures.

Think about second lines, think about Mardi Gras, think about muffaletta, think about the Saints, gumbo, red beans and rice. By God, just think. All we hold dear is created by throwing everything in the pot; creating, producing something better; everything a product of our historic diversity.

We are proof that out of many we are one — and better for it! Out of many we are one — and we really do love it!

And yet, we still seem to find so many excuses for not doing the right thing. Again, remember President Bush’s words, “A great nation does not hide its history. It faces its flaws and corrects them.”

We forget, we deny how much we really depend on each other, how much we need each other. We justify our silence and inaction by manufacturing noble causes that marinate in historical denial. We still find a way to say “wait, not so fast.”

But like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “wait has almost always meant never.”

We can’t wait any longer. We need to change. And we need to change now. No more waiting. This is not just about statues, this is about our attitudes and behavior as well. If we take these statues down and don’t change to become a more open and inclusive society this would have all been in vain.

While some have driven by these monuments every day and either revered their beauty or failed to see them at all, many of our neighbors and fellow Americans see them very clearly. Many are painfully aware of the long shadows their presence casts, not only literally but figuratively. And they clearly receive the message that the Confederacy and the cult of the lost cause intended to deliver.

Earlier this week, as the cult of the lost cause statue of P.G.T Beauregard came down, world renowned musician Terence Blanchard stood watch, his wife Robin and their two beautiful daughters at their side.

Terence went to a high school on the edge of City Park named after one of America’s greatest heroes and patriots, John F. Kennedy. But to get there he had to pass by this monument to a man who fought to deny him his humanity.

He said, “I’ve never looked at them as a source of pride … it’s always made me feel as if they were put there by people who don’t respect us. This is something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. It’s a sign that the world is changing.

Yes, Terence, it is, and it is long overdue.

Now is the time to send a new message to the next generation of New Orleanians who can follow in Terence and Robin’s remarkable footsteps.

A message about the future, about the next 300 years and beyond; let us not miss this opportunity New Orleans and let us help the rest of the country do the same. Because now is the time for choosing. Now is the time to actually make this the City we always should have been, had we gotten it right in the first place.

We should stop for a moment and ask ourselves — at this point in our history, after Katrina, after Rita, after Ike, after Gustav, after the national recession, after the BP oil catastrophe and after the tornado — if presented with the opportunity to build monuments that told our story or to curate these particular spaces … would these monuments be what we want the world to see? Is this really our story?

We have not erased history; we are becoming part of the city’s history by righting the wrong image these monuments represent and crafting a better, more complete future for all our children and for future generations.

And unlike when these Confederate monuments were first erected as symbols of white supremacy, we now have a chance to create not only new symbols, but to do it together, as one people.

In our blessed land we all come to the table of democracy as equals.

We have to reaffirm our commitment to a future where each citizen is guaranteed the uniquely American gifts of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That is what really makes America great and today it is more important than ever to hold fast to these values and together say a self-evident truth that out of many we are one. That is why today we reclaim these spaces for the United States of America.

Because we are one nation, not two; indivisible with liberty and justice for all, not some. We all are part of one nation, all pledging allegiance to one flag, the flag of the United States of America. And New Orleanians are in, all of the way.

It is in this union and in this truth that real patriotism is rooted and flourishes.

Instead of revering a 4-year brief historical aberration that was called the Confederacy we can celebrate all 300 years of our rich, diverse history as a place named New Orleans and set the tone for the next 300 years.

After decades of public debate, of anger, of anxiety, of anticipation, of humiliation and of frustration. After public hearings and approvals from three separate community led commissions. After two robust public hearings and a 6-1 vote by the duly elected New Orleans City Council. After review by 13 different federal and state judges. The full weight of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government has been brought to bear and the monuments in accordance with the law have been removed.

So now is the time to come together and heal and focus on our larger task. Not only building new symbols, but making this city a beautiful manifestation of what is possible and what we as a people can become.

Let us remember what the once exiled, imprisoned and now universally loved Nelson Mandela and what he said after the fall of apartheid. “If the pain has often been unbearable and the revelations shocking to all of us, it is because they indeed bring us the beginnings of a common understanding of what happened and a steady restoration of the nation’s humanity.”

So before we part let us again state the truth clearly.

The Confederacy was on the wrong side of history and humanity. It sought to tear apart our nation and subjugate our fellow Americans to slavery. This is the history we should never forget and one that we should never again put on a pedestal to be revered.

As a community, we must recognize the significance of removing New Orleans’ Confederate monuments. It is our acknowledgment that now is the time to take stock of, and then move past, a painful part of our history. Anything less would render generations of courageous struggle and soul-searching a truly lost cause.

Anything less would fall short of the immortal words of our greatest President Abraham Lincoln, who with an open heart and clarity of purpose calls on us today to unite as one people when he said:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to do all which may achieve and cherish: a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Thank you.

I would also recommend this interesting post by Barbara O’Brien about Confederate memorials in places that weren’t part of the Confederacy.

Posted in Racism, The Freedom To Hunt Your Slaves, The War of Southern Aggression | Leave a comment

Links 5/27/17

Trump_thehumiliationwillcontinue
Links for you. Science:

That Time the TSA Found a Scientist’s 3-D-Printed Mouse Penis
In US, Belief in Creationist View of Humans at New Low
Trump plans a 69 percent budget cut, large staff reductions at clean energy office
Trump budget would slash science programmes across government: Proposed cuts include 11% at the National Science Foundation, 18% at the National Institutes of Health and 30% at the Environmental Protection Agency
Tight life sciences lab market spurs speculative building in area

Other:

The Truth About Domestic Violence and the Impacts of ‘Trumpcare’
Who Should You Listen to on Abortion? People Who’ve Had Them
How your suburb can make you thinner
After favoritism revealed in school lottery, D.C. parents wait on apology
Health is the War of The State
‘Good Will Biking’? Cutout of Matt Damon warns drivers about cyclists
Why Trump Didn’t Have to Obstruct Justice: The US No Longer Holds the Powerful Accountable
Why liberal democracy only dies when conservatives help
Why do Democrats care what Rahm Emanuel thinks?
California’s Surprisingly Cheap Single Payer Plan
Trump Effect Inspires Radical Christians in Military
Clarence Thomas’s Counterrevolution
There is more to the Job Guarantee literature than a few blog posts
Two sets of universities, two countries, two futures
This company admitted failure — and the stock market rewarded it
THE GOP: VENGEFUL ALPHA WANNABES AND SORE WINNERS

Posted in Lotsa Links | Leave a comment

In Case You Missed It…

…a week of Mad Biologist posts:

The Logical Outcome Of The Politics Of Petty Meaness

Intersectionality, East Of The River

Toby Keith In Saudi Arabia

The Difference Between A Narcissist And A Self-Absorbed Asshole

The Weirdest Thing About Il Trumpe’s Excellent Middle Eastern Adventure

Polarization Does Make Impeachment Harder

We Could Have Had Single Payer

You Can’t Have It All: The Republican Rich Dude Edition

This Is How (Many) Businesses Are Run

Democrats Need To Increase Turnout

Coal Mining Is Coming Back Under Trump!

Posted in Weekly Roundup | Leave a comment

Coal Mining Is Coming Back Under Trump!

That is, if Trump’s term lasts 71 years, we’ll return to the 1985 peak, based on the number of jobs added since Trump took office.

Meanwhile, his proposed NIH cuts would cost more direct and indirect jobs than there are coal miners.

Just saying.

Posted in Economics | Leave a comment

Democrats Need To Increase Turnout

Last night, the Republican candidate for the sole House seat from Montana (which is one more voting House seat than the citizens of the mainland colony, aka ‘D.C.’, get. Just saying) won a special election. That he is an entitled rich dude goes without saying, but this was a longshot for the Democrats in any event.

During these special elections, I’ve been looking at how Democratic vote totals compared to the 2016 general elections. The Democrat, Quist, did well in this special election: he received 81 percent of the Democratic total in 2016 (better than Ossoff who has received millions). The problem is that the Republican received 66 percent of the Republican total from 2016. Add that to Montana being a heavily Republican state, and it was virtually impossible for Quist to win–Quist needed 92 percent of the 2016 vote to beat the Republican’s 2017 vote total.

This was also going to be a hard election as voter turnout drives in a sparsely populated state are relatively expensive (i.e., dollars per area covered, etc.). That said, Democrats do need to increase turnout–not by much, but they need more. Some of this is policy, but Democrats–and this is something Washington-based consultants hate*–need to emphasize voter turnout drives.

If they do that, Democrats can take back the House, and, perhaps, even shift a few state legislatures.

*No idea how this will work in the supposedly new Democratic National Committee, but, traditionally, consultants have been paid by receiving a percentage of ad buys (tv and radio advertisements). As you can imagine, this does not provide incentives for voter registration and door-to-door canvassing.

Posted in Democrats, Voting | 6 Comments