Your honor, there is no evidence that my client broke into a house to steal a TV. When the police arrested my client, he was leaving the premises without the TV. He had left it in the backyard. Therefore no crime was committed. Furthermore, while this "crime" was taking place, the residents of the house were asleep! They weren't aware of any theft, and indeed, their TV wasn't stolen. It's preposterous to speak of a crime when the supposed victims aren't even aware of it, when they are, in fact, not victims at all.
Trump likes dictator Kim Jong-un. It's clear after the Singapore summit last year and the Hanoi summit last week. Kim what Trump wants: dictatorship; the world's biggest military; total control over every person's life; the ability to reward loyalists and send enemies to political prison camps forever. And a cult of personality to die for!
I listened to and watched Michael Cohen's testimony today before the House Oversight Committee, alternately on the radio and on my computer. Most of the information we heard only confirmed what we already knew or strongly suspected, so my thoughts are about other matters.
While working in a coffee shop recently, I overheard two men from the Austin Police Department in a job evaluation talk. Inappropriate to conduct those in public, but worse was that they were discussing productivity numbers. It seems the Austin police uses quotas. If so, that's bad news.
Religion in state constitutions often puts them at odds with the U.S. Constitution: the freedom of religion and the separation of church and state as established in the First Amendment. Many have religious tests and no clear statements prohibiting the promotion of religion in public schools.
First there was the U.S. Constitution. The states followed suit, or so you'd think. However, the state constitution preambles show that some of the founders' lofty ideals, like separation of church and state, were not exactly followed.
In defense of his blackface, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam mentioned "indentured servants". The interviewer replied:"Aka slaves." Both were wrong. Slaves were not indentured servants and the terms are not synonyms. Some of the earliest black people in the Virginia Colony were indentured servants, yes, but 40 years later most blacks were enslaved.
The American Revolution: The 13 British colonies rebelled because they resented the taxation without representation. They won the Revolutionary War -- America's new government was the envy of the world. The westward move of the pioneers and the loss of the Native Americans' way of life was inevitable. Right? Independence Lost by Kathleen DuVal sets the record straight.
A photo has surfaced of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam in blackface. Dressing up as a caricature of a black man is terrible; when put into historical context -- among the many other forms of racist entertainment and racist pseudoscience -- blackface represents a truly horrendous past.
Pro-lifers: you hear the phrase late term abortion and your reaction is ignorant and atrocious, as usual. No, late term abortion, or third trimester abortion, is not pure evil, murder, infanticide. It's horrific, but for reasons you clearly have no clue about. Let me enlighten you with my own (first trimester) abortion experience.
(01-02-2019) Is Trump like Hitler or is the very question a form of Holocaust denial? Alan Dershowitz muddies the fascism waters even more than they already were.
11-30-2018 Almost all the boys of the 2019 class of Baraboo High in Wisconsin posed for a picture doing the Nazi salute. Do the students have freedom of speech? Did they know what they were doing? If not, why not?
11-29-2018 Almost the entire male half of the 2019 class of Baraboo High in Wisconsin posed doing the Nazi salute. The first reaction of many was shock and "This is not who we are." But clearly it is. What to do about it? Do the students have freedom of speech? Did they know what they were doing? What is the role of history education?
Police shootings and other deadly police brutality occur too often, and often the District Attorney lets it slide. These are the DAs many police groups back in elections. The Real Justice PAC supports their opponents. Shaun King shows what we're up against.
Killing Jamal Khashoggi is no big deal for Saudi Arabia. But it isn't completely free to do whatever it wants. It's easier to get away with violating human rights within one's own country than with breaking UN international law.
A question on the Big No-No Facebook page: A Saudi Citizen was killed by Saudi Arabians on Saudi territory. Saudi Arabia stills cuts off hands of thieves. Why is this a big deal in America? It's a good one.
So, Caitlyn Jenner, you were a fervent Trump supporter because he said he would stand up for transgender rights. Now Trump wants to do away with them, and you realize you were wrong.
Trump is a nationalist. Says the word "became sort of old-fashioned". He suggests it's one of those 'good old days' elements -- not morally repulsive at all -- like when America was great. He just normalized nationalism with fascist language. This is extremely dangerous!
I have a new page, with books on fascism, authoritarianism, violence and bigotry, and more, with links to book reviews and author interviews and information about the authors.
Senators on both sides said at the SCOTUS nomination hearing that demonstrations come with democracy. But Trump & co. portray Kavanaugh protesters as an existential threat.
Values like truth, impartiality and independence are no longer required for Supreme Court justices or for the credibility of the FBI. There's proof that Brett Kavanaugh lied under oath many times; and the president prevented an independent FBI investigation into the sexual assault accusations against him.
(October 2, 2018) Michael Moore's new documentary Fahrenheit 11/9 begins with footage of a street rally/party for Hillary Clinton on the eve of the 2016 presidential election, interspersed with Democratic establishment politicians and pundits claiming confidently that Donald Trump is never going to be president. Moore argues that the Democratic Party establishment miscalculated and compromised too much. They paved the way for Trump.
When the judge is the accused, suddenly an FBI investigation is useless for finding facts related to accusations of sexual assault
(September 25, 2018) Chevron Deference, the scope of presidential power, and the Supreme Court. The Constitution requires three branches of government. This separation of powers would prevent tyranny. In reality, however, they also have to work together. And there's the rub. No matter who becomes the next Supreme Court Justice, these issues play a central role.
Some takeaways from the Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Judge Brett Kavanaugh by the Senate Judiciary Committee
Trump voters, if American democracy fails, you will be responsible. Some day you will be held accountable. If you don't want to associate yourself with what's happened and what will happen if Trump's allowed to continue, prove it in the midterms.
Is Bernie Sanders a Democratic Socialist or a Social Democrat? What is social democracy? How democratic socialists, a CEO gifting a car and universal healthcare are connected.
Mass black incarceration is in large part due to racial profiling--starting with President Johnson's War on Crime, then the RDL and stop and frisk policies in NYC.
Two recent reports on racial income disparity and asset disparity address various reasons for the racial wealth gap. They look at black education, black housing disparity, black banking and black savings.
To discuss race and real estate, we must go back to the beginning of white land use in America, when the South was a slave-based economy.
Segregation policies, racial covenants and racially biased redlining led to the current racially divided housing situation, the racial housing disparity and the racial asset disparity.
Institutional racism didn't end in 1865. The present racial disparity is the result of segregation policies starting with black codes, then Jim Crow; some that lasted well into the 1970s, others that have been created since and are in place today
From Facebook to Flipboard. Nowadays, everyone has a custom news feed. We live in an information bubble, many in a fake news bubble. A fake news coccoon is dangerous.
Nate Salsbury's Slavery Spectacular! Showed off the “Fun-Loving Darky of Old Slavery Days.” Really. So began revisionist history and nostalgia for the antebellum South.
American fascism is likely to come via gradual government centralization. ICE wants to join the intelligence community, so it can get more info to use against immigrants.
The 13th Amendment Loophole Kept Slavery Alive. The 1800s interstate slave trade between the slave-breeding states and the Deep South was lucrative. Isaac Franklin became one of the South's richest landowners. One plantation in Louisiana was Angola.
Hitler found inspiration in American eugenics programs for his Nazi breeding programs, experiments on twins, concentration camps, the Holocaust, and more
"I could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and I wouldn't lose any voters," Trump said. He focuses on the poorly educated, who he sees as useful idiots. Hitler's thoughts exactly.
The anti-Trump demonstration was a dud, But I did (try to) chat with a militia guy about fascism, the Constitution, the 2nd Amendment and Antifa, and with two homeless guys about racial disparity and how Nigerians should just shut up.
Pulling American fascism out by the roots: My honey-do list for America after Trump has left the White House
Book bans are censorship, gag rules are a form of suppression of dissent, and Fox News is a propaganda outlet for Trump. American freedom of speech isn't that great.
Trump is toxic masculinity personified: he admires male aggression and dictators, he takes anti-intellectualism to the next level, and his fascination with war is frightening.
Trump's calls for aggression seen in America's long history of government violence, government-sanctioned violence and intimidation by militias, KKK and other hate groups
Both authoritarianism and Christian dominionism are powerful forces in America. Theocracies are among the severest examples of totalitarianism. Will democracy prevent a Christian States of America?
The president's almost a god, you hand your kids' lives over to the schools, and you live in a police state. As a country, America has a serious case of authoritarianism.
In World War Two, the Netherlands felt what authoritarianism does. Respect for authority declined after the war. Dutch police training adapted, and focused on social skills like deescalation techniques.
Patriotism or nationalism? Indoctrination with national symbols and rituals like the flag, the Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance have primed America for a fascist take-over.
Language is a powerful tool for fascists. Propaganda and demagoguery use mythologizing language: "America is the greatest country on Earth!" and dehumanizing language: "They're all animals!"
American exceptionalism is not a magic shield. In fact, the notion that a nation is a form of extreme nationalism. You aren't special or immune to fascism. Trump is proof.
The coming posts will address some fascist phenomena--and how they do or don't manifest in American fascism--as well as related terms like nationalism, authoritarianism, etc.
What Is Patriotism? Do the NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem have American Values? Or are they disrespecting the troops? Are they patriots or traitors?
Too many Americans can't distinguish between patriotism and nationalism, let alone malignant nationalism. Recognizing the difference is extremely important to any democracy that doesn't want to devolve into fascism
Some thoughts about my own white responsibility, my white privilege and my unconscious racism, and a few shocking peeks at living while black in Trump Country
Trump, Charlottesville -- you never saw them coming. Recognizing fascism requires real history education. In post-Trump America others may have to set that up.
Hostages, Battered Women, White Southerners, Working-Class Trump Supporters--could collective Stockholm Syndrome and Battered Wife Syndrome explain their cognitive dissonance?
Open letter to the angry Boy Scouts' parents, concerning Trump's speech at the 2017 National Jamboree: it's too easy for your children to "degrade themselves" -- they have an unquestioning respect for authority.
Trump's Muslim ban on refugees from majority Muslim countries that isn't a Muslim ban or any ban, and Trump Supporters' hate crimes against Muslims from the Middle East who were Hindus from India
Trump doesn't understand that when the President of the United States tweets Fox News fake news about Sweden (and on Presidents Day), all of Sweden lets us know it's fake news
American democracy, the checks and balances, the separation of powers over the three branches of government only work if everyone sticks to the rules.
Trump insists that he would have won the popular vote, were it not for those millions of illegal immigrants and others who committed voter fraud. How stupid is this? Let me count the ways
Three million people turned up nationwide for the Women's March the day after Inauguration Day -- the difference between the votes for Trump and Clinton -- to protest Trump's presidency.
I pledge intolerance to bigotry. I will wear a safety pin as long as Trump is president, as a warning to any bullying Trump-supporting bullies
Wake up, America! This is not alarmism -- the Electoral College is your last shot at preventing fascism in America
Trump wins the 2016 presidential election. He is now the president-elect. Five days later I'm still reeling
We are halfway the 2016 presidential election campaign and Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee. When will he become presidential?
American fascism has led to this: Trump is the Republican candidate for the 2016 presidential election. He shows all the signs of a wannabe fascist leader. Have we passed the point of no return?
Bernie Sanders is not a democratic socialist -- he's a social democrat. What's the difference?
(02-03-2016, updated 07-14-2018) The pundits are worried Trump might not leave peacefully if he loses in 2020. Time to repost this, in the spirit of I Told You So: What if Trump became president? Is America's democracy at risk? Would the American political system hold? Trump came in second in the Iowa caucus. Many pundits predict that this is the beginning of the end for Trump, but who knows. This is just the Iowa caucus; there's a lot more to come.
Only in America and only to Americans is it a surprise that Trump is doing so well in the Republican primary. Why would he not? Everything's in place for history to repeat itself
What American kids should be learning in History class: Just because something starts off small doesn't mean it's not a big deal. Trump's Muslim registration and identification plans are definitely a big deal.
Lies My Teacher Teacher Told Me, by James W. Loewen, explains why American high school history education results in the nationalism, the heroification of individuals, the lack of historical perspective, and the notion that universities are left-wing breeding grounds.
American history education is comprised mostly of disjointed, unimportant personal anecdotes, dates of battles and numbers killed. Cause and effect are barely touched upon. I can see why kids think, "Booooring!"
France and America want to bomb ISIS in Syria. Sixteen U.S. states refuse entry to the subsequent Syrian refugees, because some of them might be terrorists. American Islamophobia is alive and kicking.
Angry goldfish and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has made scapegoating the main theme of his campaign demagoguery. This is when high school history education comes in handy, if you've had any.
SRO Ben Fields had lawsuits filed against him, for excessive force and for racial profiling. Yet the police and the school were okay with letting him loose on kids, and so are many others.
How is it acceptable to have Officer Slam in American public schools? And why is discipline seen as the be-all, end-all in American public education?
An SRO -- School Resources Officer -- at Spring Valley High School (S.C.) violently slammed a black female student to the floor and then threw her several feet toward the door. She was arrested for using her cell phone in class.
Conspiracy theories and other craziness -- what to do about the disinformation and lies on the Internet that don't contribute to the betterment of mankind?
ISIS is fighting for strict Muslim government everywhere. The Syrian refugees are fleeing these groups. However, Kim Davis, in fighting for her 'religious freedom', would want America to be a theocracy, too.
Don't blame the Koch brothers for bad American education -- it was terrible long before they were born.
The governor is removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State Capitol, but Southern politicians are still careful not to offend the folks who are proud of their Confederate heritage.
A young white man has killed nine people in a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. Several republicans, including some presidential candidates, are saying it wasn't a hate crime.
During police firearms training, why not teach officers to aim for the shoulder or leg? There would be decidedly fewer lethal police shootings if cops didn't have the license to use lethal force every time they felt threatened.
For police accountability and guaranteed quality, police training must take place on a state level, independent of the culture within individual police forces.
Dutch police training was revised when the police realized the need to adapt to post-war society's anti-authoritarianism. They shifted from rigidly applying the law to focusing on social skills such as deescalation strategies.
Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Demonstrations against police violence have been going on since, which the police have met with tanks and army gear.
The tinkering with time and events in The Assault (see the previous post) leads us to what Harry Mulisch calls 'time eternal' -- the elements in his writing which put the historical events into a larger, more timeless perspective.
Imagery of iconic people and events from Dutch history are interwoven in The Assault, as well as --then--current events. Two novels about resistance fighters, both based on true stories, had just been made into movies. Mulisch uses some of their most memorable images.
To Harry Mulisch, history is a matter of selection (what is remembered, recorded and by whom) and reduction (what is deemed worth preserving). Ultimately, what remains of history -- what makes it permanent -- is historical fiction.
It has been argued that The Assault is not real historical fiction, since many of the events are determined by accident; however, this view denies that history is, in fact, a combination of causality and coincidence.
The narrator in The Assault by Harry Mulisch mentions that this is the history of an incident". Not history, consisting of a series of incidents will be described, but the history of an incident--an incident that changes over time.
The Assault by Harry Mulisch represents clearly two of the author's recurring themes: petrifaction and isolation. Everyone is alone in his own present. As long as he touches nothing, he is surrounded by the past, while he, in turn, is history to everyone else.
The Assault by Harry Mulisch is structured as a Greek tragedy. At this level the novel is a timeless epic. The element of time plays an important role in most of Mulisch's work. To him, a writer deals with time in many different ways.
The Assault by Harry Mulisch is structured like a Greek tragedy. Apart from the five episodes, it also has a prologue and epilogue, and Mulisch himself has commented on the exodus at the end, and the choir.
The Assault by Harry Mulisch is divided into five episodes, covering a time span of thirty-six years, in which the protagonist Anton Steenwijk, suffers the violence and guilt of the German occupation of the Netherlands. The following is a brief summary.
In the winter of 1944-45, Anton reads a magazine article about a time capsule buried in 1938, to be unearthed six thousand years later. There's a lesson about history in the description of the contents of the capsule and what the reader knows about the events since 1938.
De aanslag / The Assault by Harry Mulisch is a historical novel par excellence. It's historical fiction, it's meta fiction about history and writing about history, and Mulisch has incorporated historical events and people so realistically that some Belgian television people came looking for the exact location of the assault.
Authoritarianism: when police misconduct is accepted. A cop trips up students on a soccer field for kicks; a woman is thrown to the ground, handcuffed and crammed into a police car by four officers, for jaywalking. In what other profession could anyone behave that way?
If the Federal Army had stayed in the South longer, if the Reconstruction had lasted longer, if America didn't experience the century-long setback that came after the Federal Army left, what would black history look like now?
The Meridian race riot of 1871 illustrates the battles between freedmen and the KKK and other white supremacists in the South during the Reconstruction era.
Then, in 1875, federal army and the carpetbaggers leave, the KKK wins, Black Codes are put in place and the Jim Crow era begins. The Reconstruction is barely even mentioned in history textbooks.
White Slaveholders, Black slaveholders, gradualists, immediatists, persuasive abolitionists,moral abolitionists and those who wanted all blacks shipped to Liberia -- they covered a broad spectrum of opinions that ranged from pro slavery to unconditional freedom.
Before the abolition of slavery, freedom didn't mean the same thing for free people of color as it meant for whites. There were lots of formal and informal restrictions.
In good history education, the focus is not the war itself. (In this case the American Civil War.) It's why it was fought, the effects of a war on the following years, decades, centuries, and most importantly, what we learned from it.
There's really no such thing as a quick overview of American slavery and the Civil War, so this is turning into a series.
Laura Plantation is the remains of one of the old sugar plantations of the Deep South, which depended completely on slavery for their success. They were brutal places where the death toll among slaves was always higher than the birth rate. You wouldn't know it from the tour.
Two days after my last post, the daily prompt is "I Pledge Allegiance". Very funny. The question: "Are you patriotic, and what is patriotism to you".
The time I stood up for world citizens and battled nationalism and boycotted the Pledge of Allegiance in a Montessori school and won ... sort of, with a lot of help from my imagination.
(08-12-2015, Updated 07-15-2018) What's more important, Real Americans, staking out exactly where your Real America is or solving some of your real problems? One response to my open letter to police chief Mark Kessler by Steve Harmon includes the following line: "The Chief, God bless him, is simply trying to unpussify my America." I'm not sure he thought that through
How to deal with American authoritarianism when crossing internal checkpoints. What do you answer when asked, "Are you a U.S. Citizen?" What do you answer when you're a resident alien?
Last week Reese Witherspoon's husband was arrested for driving drunk. But Reese was arrested, too. Why? She got out of the car! Reese v. the police -- guess who won? America is a police state and nobody seems to notice, or mind.
Piers Morgan tries to chat with Alex Jones about gun rights. The guy has some serious mental health issues (Alex Jones, that is), and if there was ever a case for gun restrictions, this guy is it.
A random writing prompt: Write about being locked in a room with your greatest fear. I was reading The Hunchback of the Notre Dame while staying at my in-laws' with our baby. The nightmares I had from empathizing with Paquette were like being locked in a room with my greatest fear, I suppose.