Sunday, December 13, 2020

Last Call For Our Little White Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

Here in Kentucky, another hate crime happened last night as a Jewish Student Center in Lexington was attacked during a Menorah lighting.

A member of Chabad of the Bluegrass was injured Saturday night when a driver shouting antisemitic slurs dragged and ran over him outside the Jewish Student Center near the University of Kentucky, according to the center and police.

The incident happened as people were gathered at the center to prepare for the lighting of a menorah for the third night of Chanukah. The driver pulled up and nearly hit a volunteer camera crew outside the center before dragging and injuring another member of the community, Chabad of the Bluegrass announced on its Facebook page.

“A community member who was assisting in the lighting heroically stepped between the assailant and the Chabad house as several children were in the front room,” the center said in its Facebook announcement. “The attacker grabbed the man and held his arm, dragging him for a block, and running over his leg. The car then sped off ... Before he left for the hospital, the newest hero of Chanukah insisted we light the Menorah, and not allow darkness to quench our light.”

The incident is still under investigation. The suspect was described as a man in his mid to late twenties driving a black SUV, Lexington Police Lt. Daniel Truex said Sunday.

The victim was taken to a local hospital for treatment Saturday night with injuries that were not life threatening, Truex said.

The center praised the Lexington Police Department and the ambulance crew that helped Saturday night.

Multiple state and local officials took to social media on Sunday to condemn the attack at the Jewish Student Center, including Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton.

“Racism and religious persecution have no place here,” Gorton said on Twitter Sunday. “Police have started an investigation into the criminal incident at Chabad of the Bluegrass on Saturday. Those who violated the law will be prosecuted. Let’s join in the spirit of Chanukah, a celebration of good over evil.”
But remember, the vast majority of white Americans believe white Christians are the most persecuted group in America, by far. 

I'm glad that nobody was killed, and yeah, I hope they nail this bastard.

The Coup-Coup Birds Take Flight, Con't

Trump cultists are turning their long knives on each other, blaming everyone else for failing their Dear Master, as the final days of the Trump Regime wane.

Thousands of maskless rallygoers who refuse to accept the results of the election turned downtown Washington into a falsehood-filled spectacle Saturday, two days before the electoral college will make the president’s loss official.

In smaller numbers than their gathering last month, they roamed from the Capitol to the Mall and back again, seeking inspiration from speakers who railed against the Supreme Court, Fox News and President-elect Joe Biden. The crowds cheered for recently pardoned former national security adviser Michael Flynn, marched with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and stood in awe of a flyover from what appeared to be Marine One.

“There he is! There is our guy!” a woman exclaimed, reaching toward the sky.

After railing on Twitter about the failure of his most recent attempt to overturn the election results, President Trump praised the crowd that gathered in his honor, tweeting “Wow! Thousands of people forming in Washington (D.C.) for Stop the Steal. Didn’t know about this, but I’ll be seeing them! #MAGA,” he wrote.

Later in the day, attention was focused not on the president but on a group he once told to “stand back and stand by”: the Proud Boys, a male-chauvinist organization with ties to white nationalism. In helmets and bulletproof vests, hundreds of men in their ranks marched through downtown in militarylike rows, shouting “move out” and “1776!”

They seemed intent on intimidating onlookers and adopted a chant popular with counterprotesters: “Whose streets? Our streets.”

After the sun went down, the evening became violent. At least two people were stabbed as Proud Boys and pro-Trump demonstrators clashed near 11th and F streets NW.

Doug Buchanan, a D.C. fire department spokesman, said the victims were taken to a hospital, but details about their conditions weren’t available.

The attacks were an escalation after an evening of faceoffs that took place near Black Lives Matter Plaza, Franklin Square, Harry’s Bar — a hangout popular with Trump supporters — and other spots around downtown.

At first, officers in riot gear successfully kept the two sides apart, even as the groups splintered and roamed.

The Proud Boys became increasingly angry as they wove through streets and alleys, only to find police continuously blocking their course with lines of bikes.

“Both sides of the aisle hate you now. Congratulations,” a Proud Boy shouted at the officers.

But before long, the agitators determined to find each other were successful — and posturing quickly turned into punching, kicking and wrestling.

Again and again, officers swarmed, pulling the instigators apart, firing chemical irritants and forming lines between the sides. At Harry’s Bar, an ambulance arrived, but the extent of injuries was unknown.

Each time a fight was de-escalated, another soon began in a different part of town.

D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham made a brief appearance in the chaos, telling protesters: “We’re doing the best we can.”
After Monday's electoral vote makes it official, I expect the Trump cultists to do something appropriately stupid and possibly lethal in order to try to provoke some sort of action from Trump himself.  Trump meanwhile is too busy going to college football games to care. 

Speaking at a pro-Trump demonstration from the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., Flynn — who briefly served as Trump's national security adviser in 2017 before pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia's ambassador — echoed other Trump allies who have been pushing unfounded allegations that the president lost the November's election to President-elect Joe Biden because of widespread voter fraud. Like the others, including the president himself, Flynn didn't produce any actual evidence of fraud, but said "in this crucible moment of our time, we have to pray that truth triumphs over lies, justice triumphs over abuse and fraud, honesty triumphs over corruption. Our sacred honor triumphs over infamy."

He added that there are "avenues" to keep challenging the results and that "courts aren't going to decide who the next president of the United States is going to be. We the people decide." He did not, however, elaborate on how that would work now that polls have been closed for more than a month.
If there is actual lethal violence, everyone seems to be waiting on Trump to give them permission, but I still think there will be lone cases of real tragedy in the weeks ahead, not that it should distract or detract from the 3,000 dead we're seeing from COVID right now.  The polls make it clear that Trump's voters now want a coup.

With the Electoral College poised to elect Joe Biden on Monday, a sizable 62% majority of the nation's voters feel the election is "over and settled" and it's "time to move on." Large majorities feel their own votes were counted correctly, and a majority acknowledge Mr. Biden as the "legitimate winner."

But the president's backers feel very differently: 82% of Trump voters say they do not consider Mr. Biden legitimate and — perhaps most notably for the coming transition month — almost half of President Trump's voters say Mr. Trump should refuse to concede after that Electoral College vote happens, and instead do all he can to stay in power.

As a rationale, the Trump voters who do not see Mr. Biden as legitimate widely accept Mr. Trump's premise for overturning the election results, and — even as states have certified results and courts have ruled against challenges — echo the president's assertions of fraud.

And before the Electoral College votes head to Congress to be read, we find similar sentiments and splits regarding what the president's party should do now: two thirds of voters say congressional Republicans should acknowledge Mr. Biden and move on to other legislative matters, but most Trump voters instead say congressional Republicans should do all they can to help Mr. Trump stay in power.
In fact, 49% of Trump voters want him to refuse to concede after the Electoral College votes on Monday, and 75% say Republicans in Congress should do everything they can to help him stay in power.  Almost all of them, 93%, say "millions of ballots were cast illegally."
They want a coup, period.

My fear is at some point very soon Trump is going to float that option.

Sunday Long Read: Fathers Burying Their Sons

GQ's Mosi Secret talks to the fathers and uncles of those Black men lost to police brutality and how they dealt with burying their sons, and what it means to raise a Black son in America in the age of Black Lives Matter, in a country that violently hates us, and wants us dead every day.

Six months have passed since a Minneapolis police officer killed George Perry Floyd Jr., and already the subsequent storm of fury and hope that spawned so many anti-racist dreams seems to have lost its charge. A recent Pew survey points to a decrease in support for the Black Lives Matter movement among all racial groups except Black people since June, a reflection of the American, and perhaps human, tendency to return to life as normal, even if today's normal is very weird. One hopes, at least, that a new awareness has been brought to daily life.

For a dedicated few, though, Floyd and the other Black people killed and wounded by police will forever remain front of mind—for those activists and civil rights lawyers and family members with a heroic, if sometimes tragic, resolve. Notable among the steadfast are the men who raised the injured and slain, who tend to be Black and are themselves more likely to have been battered by the forces that undid their kin. It is not possible for them to quit imagining a more just future for the United States.

Yet as the movement lulls, they are an easy group to overlook. One could be forgiven, for example, for thinking that no man helped raise George Floyd. Postmortem profiles in the press took us back to Floyd's youth in the public-housing projects of Houston's Third Ward, where his single mother, Larcenia Floyd, did her level best to help raise him and his siblings. Some accounts, searching even deeper for the causes of Floyd's demise, went further back, to his family's roots in the sharecropping South, where his mother grew up as one of 14 children in a small house in the tobacco fields of eastern North Carolina. There was a way in which Floyd's story seemed to adhere to a very old myth, hardly questioned now, of the fatherless and thus doomed Black child. That Floyd in his final moments on earth cried out for his mother, already deceased, was a kind of heartbreaking capstone to this tale. The big man that Floyd was—six feet four inches, 223 pounds—without a big man in his life. This was rendered an implicit part of his tragedy.

But Floyd's mother had a brother, Selwyn Jones—or Unc, as Floyd called him—a man large in stature and spirit, and a fixture in Floyd's life. Jones is remarkable in the family for having evaded the traps awaiting poor Black men, through pro sports and later a career in sales and hospitality, and he tried to lay a path for Floyd. “I talked to his ass often,” Jones told me. “ ‘Yo, man, you know you need to get your butt right.’ ” Jones, who lives in central South Dakota, a six-hour drive west of Minneapolis, visited Floyd frequently when his nephew moved north from Houston. “It breaks my heart to know that happened to one of mine,” he said. “And I just… I cannot stop.”

So here we explore Jones's role as a father figure, alongside the stories of five biological fathers of police-brutality victims—men who have persisted in the face of harrowing loss, fueled in part by memories of the times that were. The Reverend Joey Crutcher smiled as he reminisced about singing gospel in church with his son Terence. “You always wanted the best in your choir,” Reverend Crutcher told me. “So I just nurtured him into being a great male soloist.” Terence was unarmed when a police officer in Tulsa killed him in 2016, at age 40.

Larry Barbine, a maintenance man who has survived three open-heart surgeries, regained his health just in time to meet the 26-year-old son he'd never known, Rayshard Brooks, who had come from Atlanta to Toledo to see him. Soon they were living together, and their love was as intense and youthful as it was short. “I felt that he was still a little kid at heart,” Barbine said. They had known each other for just 14 months when an Atlanta police officer shot and killed Brooks in a Wendy's parking lot in June; protesters would burn down the restaurant one night later.

Joe Louis Cole, whose son Daniel Prude was killed in March by police in Rochester, New York, thinks about the two years when he and his son lived together in Atlanta, working side by side at a UPS warehouse. “The old man and the young guy,” Cole recalled.

The son of Jacob Blake III, who shares his name, still lives. The younger Blake was paralyzed after a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot him seven times in the back. So the elder Blake's sacrifice is different. “My option,” he said, “was to stand for my son that cannot stand.”

Michael Brown Sr. often reflects on the promise he made when his son was born—that he would never let tragedy befall his namesake. In the six years since Michael Brown Jr. was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, Brown senior has emerged as a kind of patriarch for all grieving parents. Giving speeches around the country, running a foundation for families who have lost loved ones to police and community violence, traveling to memorials for Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, he is driven by the belief that he has been called on to prevent more bloodshed however he can.

Each of these men, like all Black father figures, fights against the still pervasive stereotype of the absent Black father. It's a notion that gained currency in the 1960s as the political advancements of the civil rights movement failed to translate into economic and social progress for everyday Black Americans, and social science research turned away from structural explanations for inequality toward a search for behavioral causes. In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then an assistant secretary of labor, delivered a report to the Johnson White House, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action, arguing that the plight of Black American communities was in decline due to a simple factor: the crumbling of the family unit and, in particular, children being raised in fatherless homes.

Just weeks after the study's release, riots broke out across the Watts neighborhood in Los Angeles and critics latched onto the report to blame the ensuing violence on what Moynihan called “the deterioration of the Negro family.” The number of fatherless families, Black and otherwise, would rapidly grow in the following decades—a trend partly driven by the nation's primary welfare program, in which for a period some states considered families ineligible for benefits if an adult male was a member of the household. The legacy of that policy and Moynihan's report continues, and the notion of troubled, fatherless Black men has resurfaced after each national reckoning with racial injustice, including in the aftermath of George Floyd's killing. In August conservative commentator Larry Elder, in an op-ed for Fox News, wrote of the unrest in Minneapolis and around the country: “Many of the protesters decry income and net worth ‘inequality.’ But the most serious ‘inequality’ is the unequal percentage of fathers in Black households.”

Such sentiments mostly assign blame to Black men and serve to deny the headwinds they face as they advance toward self-fulfillment in the United States—gusts that sweep a disproportionate number into jails and prisons, into ghettos, into the criminal justice morass, or off the face of the earth altogether. These myths obscure the deep and enduring roles these Black fathers and sons played and continue to play in each other's lives. There is a bond there, among Black men surviving in the United States, which crosses generations and even the boundaries between life and death.

If those bonds weren't convincing enough, a 2013 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that among fathers living with children under the age of five, Black fathers were more likely than Hispanic and white fathers to have bathed, dressed, diapered, or helped their children use the toilet every day, and that among fathers who live with their children, a greater percentage of Black fathers than white fathers took their children to or from daily activities and assisted their kids with homework.

It's true that such data coexists with other, more sobering statistics: More than half of all Black children live in homes headed by one parent, and Black children are more likely than white and Hispanic children to be born to unwed parents. But most Black Americans are aware of the myriad factors shaping these demographics. I'm reminded of something the late Toni Morrison said in an interview, about Ralph Ellison's great novel Invisible Man, which distilled the Black urban experience for 1950s America. “The title of Ralph Ellison's book was Invisible Man,” Morrison said. “And the question for me was ‘Invisible to whom?’ Not to me.” Not to these men, either. They already see one another.

So we asked them to tell us what they know: Joe Louis Cole, Larry Barbine, Rev. Joey Crutcher, Selwyn Jones, Jacob Blake III, and Michael Brown Sr. What a strange experience they share

This made me tear up, and I had to stop at least twice to get through this, but I thought how lucky I was to have a father that chose me to be his son when he did not have to, and did not hesitate to do so when offered the opportunity.

You did good, Zandardad. It's a bright light and a long shadow you cast, but I strive to be worthy daily.

45 years ago, he knew that Black Lives Matter. And he did something about it and continues to do so to this day, and I won't let myself forget that fact.

A Veteran Disappointment

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie is under withering fire from veterans' advocacy groups over a recent government watchdog report that accuses him of botching an investigation into sexual assault allegations at the department.

Four of the nation’s biggest veterans groups on Friday called for the immediate dismissal of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie following a scathing government audit that found he had acted unprofessionally if not unethically in the handling of a congressional aide’s allegation of sexual assault at a VA hospital.

Veterans of Foreign Wars joined Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans and AMVETS in saying Wilkie had breached the trust of veterans. In the final weeks of the Trump administration, they said they had lost all confidence that he can effectively lead the department, which is responsible for the care of nine million veterans.

“The accountability, professionalism and respect that our veterans have earned, and quite frankly deserve, is completely lost in this current VA leadership team,” said B.J. Lawrence, executive director of VFW, the nation’s oldest veterans group.

“Our veterans cannot wait until Jan. 20, 2021, for a leadership change,” he said. “Secretary Wilkie must resign now.”

An investigation by the Veterans Affairs’ inspector general on Thursday concluded that Wilkie repeatedly sought to discredit Andrea Goldstein, a senior policy adviser to Democratic Rep. Mark Takano, who is chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, after she alleged in September 2019 that a man at the VA medical center in Washington, D.C., had physically assaulted her.

The inspector general found that Wilkie’s disparaging comments about Goldstein, a Navy veteran, as a repeat complainer as well as the overall “tone” he set influenced his staff to spread negative information about her while ignoring known problems of harassment at the facility.

Wilkie and other senior officials had declined to fully cooperate with the investigation by VA Inspector General Michael Missal. For that reason, Missal said he could not conclude whether Wilkie had violated government policies or laws, allegedly by personally digging into the woman’s past. Wilkie denied wrongdoing.

“We’ve had our concerns about Wilkie’s leadership throughout the pandemic and this IG report really cements the fact that the VA is not being led with integrity,” said Jeremy Butler, chief executive of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “That calls for an immediate change.”

The report on Thursday drew widespread concern from lawmakers from both parties about VA’s leadership, with Takano the first to call for Wilkie’s resignation. Concerned Veterans for America, a conservative group who supported Wilkie when he became VA secretary in 2018, chided Wilkie and his team, stressing that “VA leaders should always put the veteran and the integrity of the institution ahead of themselves.”
But of course the report finds that Wilkie's campaign to discredit Andrea Goldstein was also helped by Republicans, in particular, Texas Republican Dan Crenshaw, also under pressure to resign.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Tx., told Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie that a Navy veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA hospital had filed frivolous allegations when they served in the same unit, according to multiple senior officials in an internal investigation report released yesterday.

The report outlines a number of "troubling" issues with the department's handling of the assault investigation, including testimony that Wilkie had disparaged the woman after looking into her background himself. Pressure from the top of the agency also allegedly prompted VA police to investigate the victim.

However, the report, issued by the office of VA Inspector General (OIG) Michael Missal, could not corroborate any wrongdoing because the secretary and top staff would not cooperate with investigators, and neither would Crenshaw. Missal concluded that Wilkie and senior officials showed "a lack of genuine commitment" that jeopardized a "safe and welcoming environment" for accusers.

It would not be the first time Wilkie withheld inconvenient information: In 2019, CNN reported that, in violation of Senate rules, Wilkie had failed to disclose a speech he gave in 2009 to a chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and a 1995 address in which he praised former Confederate President Jefferson Davis at the U.S. Capitol.

"The tone set by Secretary Wilkie was at minimum unprofessional and at worst provided the basis for senior officials to put out information to national reporters to question the credibility and background of the veteran who filed the sexual assault complaint," Missal wrote, adding that the conduct would "appear to undermine V.A.'s stated goals of providing a safe and welcoming environment for all veterans and to treat complainants of sexual assault with respect."

The woman, Andrea Goldstein, claimed in 2019 that while she waited in a VA hospital, a contractor "bumped his entire body against mine and told me I looked like I needed a smile and a good time." Following a request from House Veterans Affairs Committee chair Mike Takano, D-Calif., for whom Goldstein had once staffed, Wilkie ordered the OIG to investigate.

After the investigation, Wilkie sent Takano a letter saying that the investigation concluded that the claims were "unsubstantiated," counter to the OIG's explicit directions to VA staff not to comment on the merits of the accusation. Wilkie also highlighted the statement in an email to press outlets.

Missal reminded Wilkie he had not reached that conclusion.

"Neither I nor my staff told you or anyone else at the Department that the allegations were unsubstantiated," Missal wrote in an email, adding: "Reaching a decision to close the investigation with no criminal charges does not mean the underlying allegation is unsubstantiated."

Following press requests, the secretary retracted the description, calling it "a poor choice of words."

Missal cites an email Wilkie sent to two top aides after the fundraiser he attended with Crenshaw: "Ask me in the morning what Congressman Crenshaw said about the Takano staffer whose glamor (sic) shot was in the New York Times," it said.

In other words, Crenshaw and Wilkie worked together to bury Goldstein's accusations, and to force VA Committee Chair Mark Takano off the committee.  It's a horrible situation, and while Wiklie's head is definitely rolling when Biden comes in, Crenshaw will be around for some time, having easily won his 2020 ridiculously gerrymandered Houston suburb district against Democrat Sima Ladjevadrian by 13 points last month.

We'll see. Crenshaw may have survived his election, but he'll face other problems down the road over this, and he won't have Wiklie protecting him any longer once Denis McDonough comes in as VA Secretary.

That is, if Biden can get anyone confirmed, which the way the GOP is going right now, is not a sure thing at all.
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