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Posts Tagged ‘SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER’

TWO PHONE CALLS: ONE PRIORITY

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on August 25, 2020 at 12:01 am

And the most glorious episodes do not always furnish us with the clearest discoveries of virtue or vice in men.  Sometimes a matter of less moment, an expression or a jest, informs us better of their characters and inclinations than the most famous sieges, the greatest armaments, or the bloodiest battles.”
—Plutarch, Alexander the Great

It’s all about him.  

By March 27, more than 100,000 Americans had died of COVID-19. 

According to sociology professor Kathleen Cagney, who directs the University of Chicago’s Population Research Center: “What is different about this is, it is affecting all of us in a variety of ways, even if some of us are able to social distance in more effective ways than others.  But we all feel at risk.”

But Donald Trump, President of the United States, had a far bigger worry than a virus that had no vaccine or cure. While others worried about the lives of their fellow Americans, Trump was worried about his chances for re-election the coming November.

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Donald Trump

On March 27, Trump spoke by phone with evangelical leaders and thanked them for their past political support. Then, instead of focusing on the pandemic that threatened their flocks as well as everyone else, he urged them to focus on his own re-election.

“It’s a big date, November 3,” Trump said. “That’s going to be one of the biggest dates in the history of religion, as far as I’m concerned. So, I want you to be, we have to keep aware of that, ‘cause as we fight this, people are forgetting about anything else.

“You turn on the news, and all you see is the Coronavirus or whatever. Some people call it the Chinese virus, they call it a lot of different things—but the virus, that’s all you see. You don’t see anything else.

“So people are forgetting we have the most important election that we’ve had, and I guess when I say the 2016 election, perhaps that’ll always be very special for all of us, but without this one, without a victory here, so much of that can disappear.”

The conference call was organized by the Family Research Council, which is identified as an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that tracks hate groups in America.

Family Research Council - Wikipedia

Tony Perkins, the group’s leader, tried—but failed—to direct Trump’s attention to COVID-19. He asked Trump how he wanted the assembled pastors to pray for him.

Trump replied: “Well, I think the health of our country, the strength of our country. We were doing something amazing and then one day, it just ended. So that would be it, and the fact that we make the right choice on November 3 is very important. Tony, you understand that better than most.”

Eight days earlier, on March 19, Trump had had a very different conversation with governors desperately seeking medical equipment to fight COVID-19.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker told Trump during a video conference: 

“I’m not quite sure what to do with this, so I’m just going to throw it out there for you. We took very seriously the push [from Trump]….that we should not just rely on the [Federal Government] stockpile, that we should go out there and buy stuff and put in orders and try to create pressure on manufacturers and distributors, and I gotta tell you that on three big orders, we lost to the feds.” 

Charlie Baker official photo (cropped).jpg

Charlie Baker

Baker, a moderate Republican, added, “I’ve got a feeling that if someone has the chance to sell to you and to sell to me, I am going to lose on every one of those.”

Trump chuckled at the remark, clearly finding mirth in the misfortune of not only the governor but his constituents.

Trump replied he still wanted governors to obtain their own medical equipment—such as respirators and protective gear for doctors and nurses.

“Prices are always a component of that also. And maybe that’s why you lost to the feds, OK, that’s probably why,” Trump said, admitting that the federal government has greater buying power than any state. 

The conference was a made-for-TV event at Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington.

Trump repeated his belief that the onus should be on the states—and not the federal government—to obtain needed equipment to combat the pandemic.

“The federal government’s not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping,” Trump had earlier said at a White House briefing. “You know, we’re not a shipping clerk.”

By contrast, Presidents such as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson had seen it as the responsibility of the Federal Government to ensure that help was directed where most needed.

Roosevelt is still revered as the President who saw Americans through the Great Depression. And Johnson receives praise for his championing of civil rights for blacks and efforts to eliminate poverty.

On the same day as Trump’s conference call with American governors, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the city—then the center of the worst Coronavirus outbreak in the country—was two to three weeks away from running out of crucial medical supplies. 

IN THE NAME OF SAINT MICHAEL THE THUG

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on December 1, 2014 at 12:00 am

A grand jury declined to indict a white police officer, Darren Wilson, for the killing of Michael Brown, a black teenager.

And blacks in Ferguson, Missouri, erupted in looting and arson–with demonstrations breaking out in cities across the country.

These events have dominated news coverage–especially on TV–since November 24.

But there has been much that the media has not dared to mention.

Most importantly: From the beginning, a double standard has reigned in this case:

CHARGE: Shortly after the killing of Michael Brown, police released a video showing him robbing a grocery store and manhandling the its owner.

Click here: SURVEILLANCE VIDEO: Police say Michael Brown was suspect in Ferguson store robbery – YouTube

TRUTH:  Blacks were outraged–not because they believed it wasn’t Michael on the videotape, but because it showed their anointed hero as a robbing thug.

Michael Brown (left) roughing up a store owner

CHARGE: Following the shooting of Brown on August 9th, police deployed massive force to prevent rioting. Ferguson’s blacks charged that it was militarized overkill.

TRUTH: When the grand jury released its findings on November 24, Ferguson blacks started looting and burning stores.

Then blacks raged that the police should have had a massive presence to keep their brethren in line.  No one has conceded that originally deploying large numbers of anti-riot police had been a good idea after all.

CHARGE: Many Ferguson blacks complained that the grand jury was taking too long (three months) interviewing scores of witnesses before reaching its verdict.

TRUTH: When the verdict was released, Ferguson blacks said the grand jurors should have examined less evidence, so they wouldn’t have been confused by conflicting statements.

CHARGE: Ferguson blacks generally and the Brown family in particular have repeatedly called Michael Brown “a child.”

TRUTH: Michael Brown was 18–legally an adult who could obtain a credit card, enter the armed forces and drive a car.  He also stood 6’3″ and weighed 300 pounds.

CHARGE: The Brown family has claimed that Michael didn’t have a criminal record as an adult.

TRUTH:  But he may have had a juvenile one.

The citizen journalism website GotNews has filed a lawsuit against St. Louis authorities seeking the release of Brown’s juvenile record.  The suit alleges that Brown was a gang member and faced a second-degree murder charge.

If true, it would explain why he was determined to avoid arrest–it would have meant his being tried as an adult.

Click here: Lawsuit seeking release of Michael Brown’s juvenile records claims slain teen was a murder suspect – AOL.com

CHARGE: Michael’s mother, Lesley Mcspadden, has appeared on a series of news and interview programs, including “Today” and the prestigeous PBS “Charlie Rose Show.” As the parent of a dead son, she has been treated with great deference, even when making such charges as “My son was running for his life.”

TRUTH:  But what has not come up in any of these interviews is this: She herself could face felony armed robbery charges.  She has been accused of attacking people in a Ferguson parking lot for selling “Justice for Mike Brown” T-shirts.  Among the victims: Her former mother-in-law.

Click here: Michael Brown’s mom may face robbery charges: report – NY Daily News

CHARGE: Michael Brown’s stepfather, Louis Head, is a victim of his emotions of rage and grief.  At least, that’s the official line of Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the Brown family:

“God forbid your child was killed …and then they get that just devastating announcement in the manner it was announced, and somebody put a camera in your face. What would be your immediate reaction?”

TRUTH: On the night of November 24, Louis Head urged his fellow residents of Ferguson to “burn this bitch down!”  By “bitch” he meant Ferguson itself.

Standing atop a platform in the midst of several hundred frenzied protesters, he screamed at least 10 times: “Burn this motherfucker down!” and “Burn this bitch down!”

Head may well find himself the target of criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits.

Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder has called for Head’s arrest for inciting to riot.

And those whose stores were burned and/or looted could file civil lawsuits against Head as being liable for their losses.

A legal precedent for such lawsuits emerged 24 years ago, and still remains viable.

On November 13, 1988 in Portland, Oregon, three white supremacist members of East Side White Pride and White Aryan Resistance (WAR) beat to death Mulugeta Seraw, an Ethiopian man who came to the United States to attend college.

Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a civil suit (Berhanu v. Metzger) against Tom Metzger, founder of WAR.  They argued that WAR influenced Seraw’s killers by encouraging their group, East Side White Pride, to commit violence.

Tom and John Metzger were found civilly liable under the doctrine of vicarious liability, in which one can be liable for a tort committed by a subordinate or by another person who is taking instructions.

In October 1990, the jury returned a verdict—$12.5 million—against Metzger and WAR. The Metzgers’ house was seized, and most of WAR’s profits go to paying off the judgment.

Thus, a law applied to whites who agitate violence can be applied to blacks who do the same.

BUREAUCRATS AS ASSASSINS–PART FIVE

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics on January 10, 2011 at 10:16 pm

“The only morality they recognize is what will further their cause, meaning they reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat, in order to attain that.”
–President Ronald Reagan, on the leaders of the Soviet Union, January 29, 1981

Increasingly, Republicans have repeatedly aimed violent–and violence-arousing–rhetoric at their Democratic opponents. This is not a case of careless language that is simply misinterpreted, with tragic results.

Republicans like Sarah Palin fully understand the constituency they are trying to reach: Those masses of alienated, uneducated Americans who live only for their guns and hardline religious beliefs–and who can be easily manipulated by perceived threats to either.

If one of these “nutcases” types assaults a Democratic politician and misses, then the Republican establishment claims to be shocked–shocked!–that such a thing could have happened.

And if the attempt proves successful–as the January 8 Tucson shootings did–then Republicans weep crocodile tears for public consumption. The difference is that, in this case, they rejoice in knowing that Democratic ranks have been thinned and their opponents are even more on the defensive, for fear of the same happening to them.

The most important target of these intended assaults is, of course, President Barack Obama.

Ominously, in August, 2009, about a dozen people carrying guns, including one with a military-style rifle, milled among protesters outside a Phoenix convention center where President Obama was giving a speech.

A week earlier, during Obama’s healthcare town hall in New Hampshire, a man carrying a sign reading “It is time to water the tree of liberty” stood outside with a pistol strapped to his leg.

Fred Solop, a Northern Arizona University political scientist, said the incidents in New Hampshire and Arizona could signal the beginning of a disturbing trend.

“When you start to bring guns to political rallies, it does layer on another level of concern and significance,” Solop said. “It actually becomes quite scary for many people. It creates a chilling effect in the ability of our society to carry on honest communication.”

The way to prevent such tragedies in the future is to hold fully accountable not just the shooters but those who deliberately point them toward their targets and repeatedly scream: “Kill the traitors!”

Americans must shed their naive belief that “America is exempt from the political corruption of other countries.” And they must see the Republicans’ lust for absolute power at any price as the danger it presents to the future of the Republic.

Among the steps that need to be taken:

First, the families and friends of the Tucson massacre victims should file civil lawsuits against Sarah Palin and every other Republican who can be proved to have created the firestorm of hate that consumed 20 people on January 8.

A legal precedent for such lawsuits emerged 21 years ago, and still remains viable.

On November 13, 1988 in Portland, Oregon, three white supremacist members of East Side White Pride and White Aryan Resistance (WAR) beat to death Mulugeta Seraw, an Ethiopian man who came to the United States to attend college.

Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a civil suit (Berhanu v. Metzger) against Tom Metzger, founder of WAR. They argued that WAR influenced Seraw’s killers by encouraging their group, East Side White Pride, to commit violence.

At the trial, WAR national vice president Dave Mazzella testified how the Metzgers instructed WAR members to commit violence against minorities.

Tom and John Metzger were found civilly liable under the doctrine of vicarious liability, in which one can be liable for a tort committed by a subordinate or by another person who is taking instructions.

In October 1990, the jury returned the largest civil verdict in Oregon history at the time—$12.5 million—against Metzger and WAR. The Metzgers’ house was seized, and most of WAR’s profits go to paying off the judgment.

Second, the FBI and Justice Department should launch an all-out investigation into not simply right-wing hate groups but those political leaders who openly or secretly encourage and support their activities. Those who are found doing so should be indicted and prosecuted under the anti-terrorism statutes now aimed at Islamic terrorists.

Third, the Secret Service should immediately adopt the policy that no one but sworn law enforcement officers will be allowed to carry firearms within the immediate vicinity of the President. And it should enforce that policy through its elite countersniper teams.

Finally, President Obama should do what President Clinton failed to do at the time of the truck-bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building: He should publicly condemn those Republicans who give “aid and comfort” to the right-wing extremists whose support they openly court.

Unless such steps are taken, outrages such as the Tucson slaughter will continue to remain a needless “mystery.” And those outrages will continue until a Republican version of the swastika permanently flies over the capitol dome and the White House.

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