Preserving the Dream- Martin Luther King Day in the Trump Era.

First MLK Day in the Trump Era

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a holiday of special importance. It’s a day on which Americans come together, to mourn the passing of a man who gave his life for the betterment of mankind, and to celebrate the vitality of the magnificent dream he built his life around.

We celebrate our diversity on this day, together, because we know that’s really what makes America great. Variety is the spice of life.

Past years have seen American presidents take it seriously. In 1983 President Ronald Reagan signed a bill making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a federal holiday. Since then, US presidents have typically observed the holiday publicly, making remarks or attending events honouring the day.

Donald Trump spent his MLK Day at his golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida. The only event on the White House daily public schedule was the flight that brought him back to Washington in the afternoon.

Ultimately, it’s best he didn’t try, as anything he could possibly have said would have been a ludicrous falsehood. He’s said enough already.

” I’m not a racist,” Trump said, to a room full of reporters on Sunday. “I’m the least racist person you have ever interviewed.”

Whenever people go around talking about how not racist they are, they’re lying.

Trump also took the opportunity to further deny that he had used the term “shithole countries” to describe Haiti and a number of African nations, but everybody knows.

The problems with Trump’s attacks on persons who are not rich white men seems to grow bigger every day.

News outlets and social media accounts have been overflowing with reports of a whole variety of hate-fueled attacks. Slate.com catalogued 1064 such incidents of this kind to take place since last January.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has repeatedly criticized the president for his attitudes and conduct, categorizing the net of their emulation as “the Trump effect“.

It has called the syndrome a virus in our country. It has catalogued 1064 such incidents since Trump took office last November. Most Americans have heard of Charlottesville’s victim Heather Heyer by now. Sadly, she is far from being the only casualty.

Members of the Ku Klux Klan were arrested for stabbing three people in Anaheim, California.

Student Richard Collins III was killed by a white supremacist days before his graduation from the venerable HBCU Bowie State University. A man named Sean Urbanski walked up to him as he waited for an Uber with friends, and allegedly yelled, “Step left, step left if you know what’s best for you!” As this directive was not complied with, Urbanski stabbed Collins in the chest.

In other news, Cliven Bundy, the white rancher who decided to forcefully conquer government land a while back, was set free on Monday.  The incident didn’t lead to violence, but that’s only because President Obama happened to be a kindly man. They just turned off their electricity and waited until it got cold for them all to surrender, which they did.

It’s doubtful that even many Trump supporters would argue it would have happened the same way if Cliven Bundy and his followers were black.

During the eight years of the Obama presidency, we made progress in the field of anti-racism. But whenever progress is made, there’s always going to be a period of reaction. We are seeing a wave of reaction now that is very powerful.

Plainly stated, the deplorables will never forgive any one of us that voted for Obama. Those who dared to put a black man in a White House will be hated by this type for all eternity. Because no matter what they do, no matter what laws they unwrite or what executive orders they reverse, they can never go back in time and make it so that all of our Presidents were white again.

And that’s what it’s really all about. Ann Coulter said it with total candor, Adam’s apple bobbing like a cork in a wine bottle. Make America white again. That’s the great America the Trump supporters recall and want back. That’s what they thought was great about it.

It’s a sad thing.

At any rate, a new study has shown that support for Trump is correlated with a standard scale of modern racism.

A higher level of contact with diverse groups of people has been shown to reduce prejudice.

2016 study found that “the racial and ethnic isolation of white people at the zip-code level is one of the strongest predictors of Trump support.” As such, it’s important to note that Trump’s white supporters have experienced significantly less contact with minorities than other Americans. 

This makes it much easier to fear and hate the people they consider outsiders. History has shown us where that goes.

On April 4, 1968, James Earl Ray stood in the bathtub of a shared bathroom, balanced his rifle on a window ledge and shot Martin Luther King Jr. dead, as the civil rights leader was standing on a balcony outside of his motel room.

The same animus that drove that hateful crime is alive and well and cavorting in the streets of today’s America. And it is getting stronger. Every day that malignant orange tumour is polluting the Oval Office is another day the problem gets worse.

However, we are not without recourse. By coming together in unity, by organizing, by refusing to accept, we can outlast any dictator. We’ve got to keep raising awareness, and we’ve got to keep speaking out.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”. – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

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Sessions Declares War On Weed- Legalization Derailed.

Cannabis

Is Jeff Sessions coming after medical cannabis?

The simple answer is, As fast and as hard as he can.

Jeff Sessions hates cannabis. He hates cannabis much more than he hates, say, racism. He once jested of the Ku Klux Klan that he “thought they were okay, until he heard they smoked marijuana”.

So since he ended up the Attorney General, he’s using his power to lash out at something he hates.

But the real question is why? Science has proven it to be a highly effective treatment for a whole galaxy of different ailments. It also has no harmful side effects and is non-addictive. When you take it away from people, they end up on painkillers and after that heroin. There’s a heroin epidemic.

He’s filling prisons up with people for heroin already. The prisons are full. They are so full that states are desperate to somehow clear up bed space. There are more than two million people in some phase of our incarceration machine as these words are written. Many things are terribly wrong.

As the Attorney General, it is incumbent on Mr Sessions to use his power to solve these kinds of problems.

The War on Drugs has been the biggest failure in American history. In spite of all attempts to regulate man’s appetites with legislature the problem has continued to grow. It’s high time it was brought to an end, and every sensible person is aware of this.

Including Jeff Sessions.

The War on Drugs has never been about drugs. It’s about power. Who’s got it, and who’s going to keep it.

One of their most useful strategies is to hamstring young people who are likely to be Democratic leaders and voters later in life. If they can hang a tag on you as a drug offender, they can disqualify you from holding office in the eyes of many.

If they can make you a felon with a weed case, they can stop you from voting. Millennials, ask yourselves: How many smart, cool people do you know who have had to do time over drugs? That is no accident.

Sessions knows full well that many on the left smoke pot. This is about hurting Trump’s enemies.

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people,” said former Nixon domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman.
“You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,” Ehrlichman said. “We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news.”
Ehrlichman’s comment was the first time the war on drugs was so starkly characterized as a political assault designed to help Nixon win, and keep, the White House.
Nixon’s public explanation for his first piece of legislation in the war on drugs was delivered in a message to Congress in July 1969. The law was framed as a response to an increase in heroin addiction and the rising use of marijuana by students.
We’ve been here before.
Rep. Earl Blumenthal (D-OR), one of Congress’s biggest advocates for legalization, blasted the “outrageous” new guidelines as “perhaps one of the stupidest decisions the Attorney General has made” in a statement, and stupid it may be.

But it’s consistent with his ideology and the political strategies employed by his generation. There is no doubt whatsoever he will do all the harm he can to the cannabis industry.
So basically, where we’ve come to now, is a state of affairs in which you pay taxes on the weed you buy at the store- but you can still go to prison for it. It is the opinion of Millennial Democrats that everyone should go back to being very, very careful. For no good reason whatsoever.
What a world.
Coretta Scott King, the widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., urged Congress in a letter to block the 1986 nomination of Jeff Sessions as federal judge, saying that allowing him to join the federal bench would “irreparably damage the work of my husband.”
Today, on Martin Luther King Day, let’s take a few minutes to remember that.

Great Education, No Segregation- Controlled Choice Policy.

Conservative America has never given up on segregating the country’s schools. Donald Trump has given them a free hand to do it.

Think tanks across the country have been working out a legal method to do so. It is proving effective. American schools are more segregated than they were in 1968.

The privatizing of education has been their long term goal for a number of different reasons. Some of these are financial, of course. Education is a market of tremendous value. The private sector is eager to gain a toehold.

Conservatives believe shrinking public education will further their goal of drastically reducing the public sector.

The school choice movement in America has a lot to do with racism, which does not express itself the same way it did in the Jim Crow era.

The Republicans used to support our public schools. Theodore Roosevelt was a great believer in it. But after the Civil Rights Act, everything changed.

A plan to win the votes of citizens who favored public aid for private schools because they opposed school integration began under Nixon. Lee Atwater’s infamous “Southern Strategy” to get Reagan reelected in 1984 was a natural continuation of that plan.

Privatization also undermines teacher unions, a key base of support for the Democratic Party. We saw this all over the Midwest in 2010, most notably under Scott Walker. He used a scummy, lousy back door bill to cripple the school system there. Libraries stand dark and empty. Music rooms have fallen silent. Art rooms that serve no function save the collecting of dust and wistful memory.

Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education who is widely perceived as being Trump’s worst Cabinet pick, is from a family that has contributed millions of dollars to the cause of school choice and unregulated charter expansion throughout Michigan.

Millions of our nation’s public schoolchildren will be adversely affected by her policies at the Department of Education. Recent studies have shown us that they are likely to have disparate effects on public schools that serve a majority of black and Latino students.

Voucher schools end up sapping money from the public schools. This is because they must legally accept, but not keep, any student who doesn’t suit their often-arbitrary standards. They kick the unwanted kids out, and keep the money budgeted to the school for their accommodation. These funds do not follow the child to the public school they are reassigned to.

Their education is to be paid for at the expense of both parents and the public system. This is one of the ways in which voucher programs divert much-needed public funding and students from public schools to private institutions that do not have the same accountability guidelines and that do not serve as many children with special needs.

By the time the vouchers and the charters get done cashing their checks, there are few funds left for public schools.

DeVos, in particular, has championed vouchers — publicly funded credits parents can use to send their kids to the school of their choosing Many of those schools are charter schools, private schools, or magnet schools.

Schools in less affluent areas are getting increasingly short-changed by the states and localities that fund them. In March of 2015, the richest 25 percent of school districts were receiving 15.6 percent more funds from state and local governments per student than the poorest 25 percent of school districts, according to the federal Department of Education.

In Midwestern red states, particularly Wisconsin under Scott Walker, the entire public school system has been gutted. This has manifested constantly since 2010.

During the spring of 2013 the ACES Xavier Educational System rebranded as the St. Francis Xavier Catholic School System, and was alloted Wisconsin taxpayer money. This marked the first time state funds were allowed to flow to private, predominantly religious schools.

This is a clear case of the Koch network goal to bring about the circumvention of the doctrine of separation of church and state.  Every time they are able to gain access to federal funds for religious organizations, they tacitly gain legal recognition.

Likewise, leaders of the religious right recently started demanding federal benefits for churches hit by Hurricane Harvey, even as the cleanup started. As with school choice, it seems innocuous enough. But actually it represents a highly significant milestone in their plan to lay waste the First Amendment. They have preparing groundwork to lay claim to public funds for a long time.

If they can gain a toehold by getting legal recognition collecting federal money, they can slowly worm their way into positions of influence in a government they are legally forbidden to enter. And they can get the people of the state to demand it on their behalf, through the guise of things like protecting their cherished offspring from dreaded “government schools”- and the inner-city kids who attend them.

Matt Kussow, executive director of the Wisconsin Council for Religious and Independent Schools, estimates that between 130 and 150 private schools are “seriously looking” at trying to join the statewide program.

In 2011, close to 80 percent of the nation’s African-American students were enrolled in public, mostly minority schools, according to a report released by The Civil Rights Project at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The percentage of students majoring in education has dropped to almost nothing. The idea of holding a job as a teacher these days is becoming increasingly unpalatable in the Midwest and elsewhere.

The teacher shortage has gotten progressively worse, particularly in rural areas. Things have descended to the point where anyone with a bachelor’s degree can get a job as a teacher in Wisconsin. Nothing like mandatory classroom time or training for special ed is required anymore. It’s easy to get a license for life without tough requirements. Competence standards have lowered tremendously.

Meanwhile, down South in Kentucky, Republicans have been trying to bring racial segregation back to schools by getting a bill designed to regulate education in places passed in the state’s House of Representatives.“It will rebuild our communities,” he wrote in an article for in the Courier Journal. “It will, after four lost decades, reconnect those two things that never should have been disconnected in the first place — neighborhoods and their schools.”

The effect this so-called “school choice” bill could have on students of color is of such concern that the NAACP and the Movement for Black Lives recently called for a moratorium on any participating school.

Historically black colleges and universities(HBCU’s) were formed in the face of just this type of systemic discrimination.  African-American students were excluded from many white institutions, particularly in the South.  Alternatives did not exist for the future of their education. Choice was not an option.

Betsy DeVos, however, thinks they are a great example of school choice. She recently released a statement praising the schools for their innovation.

“They saw that the system wasn’t working, that there was an absence of opportunity, so they took it upon themselves to provide the solution. HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice.”

The system” that wasn’t working at the time was Jim Crow-era segregation.

DeVos was pressed during her confirmation process on school desegregation policies.Her answer was “I do not support programs that would lead to increased segregation”. The record proves clearly that the opposite is true.

Even for students enrolled in schools of choice, it’s not much better. In Detroit, kids who depend on Detroit’s problematic public transit are too far away from the state’s top-performing school districts to make attendance there feasible. And most of those districts don’t participate in the schools of choice program anyway.

This is no accident. It was created by an ideological lobby that has fanatically promoted free-market education reform for decades. At the center of that lobby is the Koch network, and the DeVos family.

This trend of heading forward to a devoid educational wasteland is deeply dysfunctional. Failure is being rewarded among students, faculty, and system. Opportunities for expansion and “choice” have proven to mean the reverse for thousands of children.

Moving forward, we have to examine and adapt working models to other parts of the country, and draw public attention to a logical plan that makes sense. As it works, there’s a wonderful and scarcely-mentioned alternative gaining momentum and getting results.

The Controlled Choice Policy began in 1980 when the Cambridge School Committee voted to desegregate the schools by moving away from a neighborhood schools model.

San Francisco has a city-wide controlled choice model with no school boundaries and algorithmic school placement.   The resulting educational diversity has created one of the highest quality urban school systems in the country.

Controlled Choice is designed to create diverse, academically rigorous schools with equal access to educational resources.

Research has shown that a student body comprised of the whole spectrum of socioeconomic backgrounds produces the best educational outcomes. Both overall and for students at every socioeconomic level.

It’s genius. And it’s been proven to work already. The answer to the education problem has already been solved. All we Democrats have to do now is to make sure the people notice it.

 

 

How the GOP Grew Gangrenous- Racism and Reaction, Part 2.

Racism and Reaction

II. Racism and Reaction

In our times, the Republican Party has always made it a policy to resist change of all kinds, regardless of how high the cost of remaining static. Their agenda is completely negative. They can’t get anything done, because they don’t know what they want to do. They only know what they don’t want to do. This is why their party is failing and they have all been deserted in favor of Donald Trump.

An NBC/WSJ  poll released Thursday reveals that more Republican voters consider themselves a “supporter of Donald Trump” rather than a “supporter of the Republican Party.”

The Republicans have been appealing to a white-voter strategy for a long time now, because the status quo they are desperately defending only suits white men. That poll is the dividends that strategy has reaped for them. Nor have they learned from their mistakes. If you try and discuss it with them, they’ve got an extremely disingenuous defense.

Soldiers of Misfortune

Republicans like to deflect against the accusations of racism and reaction by bringing up Abraham Lincoln, who signed the Emancipation Proclamation that ended slavery. Surely, no member of the Grand Old Party of Lincoln could ever be a racist! Perish the thought!

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President Abraham Lincoln

However, the spirit that animated the forcible ending of slavery has been gone from the Grand Old Party since at least the time of Franklin Roosevelt.  Its opposite holds sway there now, and it has for a very long time. In point of fact, every aspect of modern Republican policy is a direct betrayal of President Lincoln and all he stood for.

Furthermore, it’s not just racism.

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Former Chief Justice Antonin Scalia, 1936-2016

The living personification of this tendency, Antonin Scalia, died last year. While he was here, he was anti- gay, anti- black, anti- immigrant, anti- everything. The only thing he was for, was the death penalty. And the GOP was so desperate to find someone in that mold to replace him, that they obstructed President Barack Obama’s selection, Merrick Garland, for nearly a year, staking everything on the hope of retaking the White House.

That set the stage for what is certain to be a worsening and miserable tug-of-war, in which it becomes automatic policy on the part of both parties to harass and obstruct the other.

It is the opinion of Millennial Democrats that the death of Scalia drove them into a terrible panic, one they resorted to the desperate measure of Trump and the Russians to escape from. They knew full well that without him, it was going to be far harder to stem the rising tides. But why are these changing tides so threatening to them?

Political analysts Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein did a study several years ago, attempting to discover why change in America comes so hard. Here is what they concluded.

“The Republican Party has become ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the
inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by
conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy
of its political opposition.”

Image result for republicans
The Gangrenous GOP
In other words, the problem in this country is the Republicans.

Mann and Ornstein pointed out that the two parties moved symmetrically apart from the 1960s to the 1980s. Around then, however, the GOP began to shoot rightward, as hard as it could. More and more of them abandoned the sanity that characterizes the center. That tendency has led us to our current situation, in which we’ve become so polarized that half the country would prefer the Russians be in power than the Democrats, as evidenced by the chaos on social media and elsewhere this past year.

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Driving Miss Daisy

The racist and reactionary rightward movement of the GOP has been driven like Ms. Daisy, into this continuous state of worsening polarization. Everywhere the Republicans are in control, is an awful place to live.

The state of Missouri passed a law this year making it more difficult for victims of hate crimes to sue it for damages, leading to a new precedent being set by the NAACP, who issued an actual travel advisory to people of color, people with disabilities, and even women, stating in no uncertain terms that Missouri was no longer a safe place for them to be, and that they will now have to look out for themselves, while traveling through their own country. What a sickening state of affairs.

It is the opinion of Millennial Democrats that you can add to that list, anyone with long hair or an unconventional sense of style, and even people with license plates from blue states. The author of this article was once treated very badly by police officers in Arkansas, for no other reason than the California license plates on the vehicle in which he rode. The cop, who right down to his mustache looked like an obese Hitler, made sure that message was clear, along with another: Stay out of town. Do not EVER come back here again.

Selma, Alabama Civil Rights March

And while other states in the region may not have passed recent and specific legislation necessitating the issuance of another such advisory, let’s keep it real. The South is the South. We’ve all seen Selma, and we’ve all seen Easy Rider. Be careful.

Miles Demos, abused in Arkansas

 

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Electoral College Map, 1896

The U.S. electoral map we’ve come to find familiar, with the Democrats dominating on the East and West Coasts, and the Republicans running shop in the south and center of the country, is recent. In the past few elections, rich states have gone for the Democrats and poor states have voted Republican- a sickening irony, if ever there was one- but even a mere thirty years ago no such pattern existed. And a hundred years ago, things looked different entirely.

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Electoral College Map, 2000

The picture above shows the electoral map of 1896, one of the years historians consider pivotal in the timeline of the ideological shift of the GOP. Almost without exception, the states which went Republican in 1896 supported Democrat Al Gore, by the year 2000.

Meanwhile, nearly all the states that went blue in 1896, moved in the other direction. This seems unusual to us. We are used to the idea of liberal Democrats living in the city, and conservative Republicans making their dwellings in more rural areas. This is how it has always been, for millennials, but it used to be exactly the opposite. So the question begs asking. What happened?

In order to shed light on this, we will have to look closely at the turn of the twentieth century, and the circumstances surrounding the coming to power of Theodore Roosevelt. Some of the same changes were taking place then as now, such as large scale immigration from places such as South America, Eastern Europe, and Syria. The manner in which they were handled by this president did a great deal to set the stage for the hundred years that followed, and the modern era. In the next chapter, we will take a closer look at this.

Theodore Roosevelt