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“Donald Trump’s Thuggery Is Inexcusable”: One In The Same, The Bullying Thug And The Self-Pitying Victim

As he edges closer to winning the Republican nomination, it is possible to discern, at intermittent intervals and in trace amounts, an instinct in Donald Trump to act presidential. There was Trump in Thursday’s debate with a paean to the relative civility of the encounter. There was Trump in his Super Tuesday victory lap pronouncing himself a “unifier.”

But Trump being Trump, the presidential urge can never proceed very far before being overtaken by his real self: Trump the bullying thug and Trump the self-pitying victim.

Both aspects of Trump’s personality have been on rampant display over the past several days, as the protests at Trump’s rallies have spun dangerously, predictably out of control.

Trump, reaping a whirlwind of his own creation, could have risen to the occasion. He could have dialed back the taunts. He could have, unlikely as it sounds, expressed just a tinge of un-Trumplike regret.

Instead, in a development as disappointing as it was unsurprising, Trump ramped up. “Go home to mommy,” he told one protester in Missouri on Friday. “Get a job,” he told another. “These people are bringing us down, remember that,” he told the crowd. These people. How presidential.

Trump took no responsibility — zero — for the anger his divisive rhetoric has generated among the demonstrators, nor for the violence it has incited among his supporters. He was only sorry the protesters had to be treated so delicately. “They’re being politically correct the way they take them out,” he said. “There used to be consequences.”

To be clear, protesters have a right to be heard — but in an appropriate place and manner. Hecklers are a fact of political life, yet no candidate should have to contend with a campaign event so constantly disrupted the candidate cannot share his own message. The scene of Secret Service agents swarming around Trump after a protester broke through the security barrier at a rally in Ohio on Saturday was an unsettling reminder of the lurking potential for tragedy.

But candidates bear responsibility, as well — for the tone of their rhetoric and for the way they respond, and encourage their supporters to respond, to dissent. Not Trump, though, at least according to Trump.

He says things that are hurtful and divisive, then is surprised when his language provokes a counter-reaction. At that point, he sees freedom of speech as a one-way street — Trump’s freedom to speak — and lashes out at those who would dare to interrupt.

“The organized group of people, many of them thugs, who shut down our First Amendment rights in Chicago, have totally energized America!” tweeted the man who recently vowed to “open up” libel laws so he could sue critics in the media.

And when Trump’s supporters turn, inevitably, violent, his response is more empathetic than condemnatory.

“People come with tremendous passion and love for their country, and when they see protest — you know, you’re mentioning one case, which I haven’t seen, I heard about it which I don’t like,” Trump told CNN’s Jake Tapper at Thursday’s debate, responding to videotape of a Trump supporter punching a protester in the face.

“But when they see what’s going on in this country, they have anger that’s unbelievable. They have anger. They love this country. They don’t like seeing bad trade deals, they don’t like seeing higher taxes, they don’t like seeing a loss of their jobs where our jobs have just been devastated. . . . There is some anger. There’s also great love for the country. It’s a beautiful thing in many respects. But I certainly do not condone that at all, Jake.”

No, nor egg it on. This is a candidate who says of protesters things like, “I’d like to punch him in the face.” Or, “In the good ol’ days, they’d rip him out of that seat so fast.” Or, “Knock the crap out of him, would you? Seriously, Okay just knock the hell. I promise you I will pay for the legal fees, I promise, I promise.”

Trump, characteristically, regrets nothing. On Friday, accepting the endorsement of Ben Carson, a man he once described as “pathological” and likened to a “child molester,” Trump reaffirmed his inclination to meet violence with violence, citing the example of a protester who was “swinging” at the audience.

And the audience hit back,” Trump said, approvingly. “And that’s what we need a little bit more of.”

Not actually. But it is, I fear, what we will be getting much more of, with Trump at the top of the GOP ticket. He is not a unifier, he is an igniter. The fuse is short and the electorate flammable. The match in Trump’s hands is a dangerous weapon.


By: Ruth Marcus, Columnist, The Washington Post, March 11, 2016

March 14, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primaries, Trump Supporters | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Trump On His Supporters Attacking Protesters”: ‘That’s What We Need More Of’

Two days after a 78-year-old man sucker-punched a protester at one of Donald Trump’s rallies, the Republican front-runner appeared to defend such assaults as “very, very appropriate” and the sort of thing “we need a little bit more of.”

Asked today if he was “playing a character” when he said he wanted to “punch a protester in the face” at a Las Vegas rally last month, Trump argued that it’s the protesters at his rallies who are truly violent.

“We’ve had a couple that were really violent. And the particular one when I said, [I’d] like to bang him. That was — a very vicious — you know, he is a guy who was swinging very loud and then started swinging at the audience. And you know what? The audience swung back. And I thought it was very, very appropriate. He was swinging, he was hitting people and the audience hit back. And that’s what we need a little bit more of. Now, I’m not talking about just a protester. This was a guy who was — should not have been allowed to do what he did. And frankly, if you want to know the truth, the police were very, very restrained. The police have been amazing. But the police were very, very restrained.”

There has not been a single documented case of protesters initiating violence against Trump supporters, according to Time. And at the Las Vegas rally that Trump cites, multiple security personnel told Politico that the protester threw no punches and that Trump was “over-exaggerating.”

At the GOP debate in Miami Thursday night, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Trump if he believed that he had “done anything to create a tone” that encouraged violence at his rallies.

“I hope not. I truly hope not,” the GOP front-runner said, before creating a tone that encouraged violence at his rallies. “We have some protesters who are bad dudes, they have done bad things. They are swinging, they are really dangerous … And if they’ve got to be taken out, to be honest, I mean, we have to run something.”

Trump’s praise of “swinging back” stands in stark contrast with the newfound civility with which he’s treated his rivals in recent days. The Donald’s performance in the last GOP debate was widely interpreted as a self-conscious pivot toward a general-election audience. The former reality star chose not to address the other candidates by disparaging nicknames, and delivered his message of nationalistic grievance in a calm, steady voice. The mogul even resisted the temptation to obliquely reference the size of his penis.

But, apparently, Trump thinks full-throated praise of mob violence is not out of step with a pivot to the center.


By: Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, March 11, 2016

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, GOP Primary Debates, Mob Violence | , , , , | 3 Comments

“Death, Mayhem, And Disorder, The Protests Were Not”: The NYPD Is Giving Cops Machine Guns To Control Peaceful Protests

he New York Police Department announced this week a new approach to community policing. By Commissioner Bill Bratton’s account, the new strategy will allow more precinct cops to spend more time in neighborhoods, leading to better mutual relations between police and New Yorkers.

It also happens that these Strategic Response Groups will arm 350 police officers with “long rifles and machine guns,” the commissioner said during a Thursday news conference. “Unfortunately,” he added, such materiel is “sometimes necessary in these instances.”

The instances in question: possible terror attacks and large crowd assemblies. “It is designed for dealing with events like our recent protests, or incidents like Mumbai or what just happened in Paris,” Bratton said. By such phrasing, a reasonable listener might infer the recent protests in New York begat horror on the scale of hundreds dead and wounded over a coordinated series of bombings and shootings (Mumbai) or the slaughter of a magazine’s editorial staff and police and civilians and an accompanying hostage crisis that killed even more (Paris).

Rather, the protests in New York were a triumph of peaceful democratic expression, in which tens of thousands of people of all colors, creeds and classes, marched peacefully through the heart of America’s largest city, joining as a united voice to call for social justice. Now, it happened that the actions that spurred this action were the unaccountable killings of civilians by cops. Sure, you’d have to be blind to miss the occasional “fuck the police” cardboard sign. But death, mayhem, and disorder, the protests were not. They just happened to piss off many of New York’s Finest.

Friday morning, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, for one, jumped on the association, calling for the newly announced police groups to be disbanded. “Thousands have marched in a massive civil rights movement demanding police reform,” the group’s executive director, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, said in a news release, “and the NYPD has decided to respond to the community instead by arming the police with machine guns.” Since at least late last year, in fact, Bratton, union brass, and the rank-and-file have been treating elected leaders and citizens as some sort of invading force. Police have been shunning the mayor, turning police funerals into spectacles, and slouching on the job just to show the city what it’s like to live without them making ticky-tack arrests. Most of us in New York did just fine, actually.

The police position makes more sense given some of the surrounding circumstances. The police are in a contract negotiation with the city; any point of leverage, you can expect them to use. Also, when Ismaaiyl Brinsley drove to town explicitly to kill police, claiming on Instagram that it was some sick tit-for-tat for police killing Mike Brown and Eric Garner, he scrambled the equation. By aligning himself nominally against the same predicating force as the protestscops’ unaccountable use of lethal forceBrinsley unjustly yoked the 25,000 people who flooded down Broadway to his act by association.

New York cops should know better. Not every New York cop put a fatal chokehold on Eric Garner, and in fact, no protester killed Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in their squad car. Police watched over those demonstrations, in which thousands of people vented their anger, their fear, their frustration, and yes, at times, their hatred. They did so peacefully, with a political agency that comes from feeling you have a voice. And it was New York’s finest who watched over them and blocked cross-street traffic, who helped provide the venue for that voice. The city called for better policing, and it was good policing that allowed them to do so. The protests could have been a watershed moment for cop-citizen relations, if police had taken the message of Black Lives Matter as a wake-up call rather than fighting words.

At best, it’s sloppy for Bratton to tell the city he’ll have counter-terrorism forces armed to the teeth, watching over protests with the same force police reserve for bombings and mass shootings. At worst, it conflates peaceful assemblies with villainy. If he wants his announcement to have a chilling effect on demonstrators, he may succeed. He should also ask himself whether broad, peaceful protests are really the worst thing for the city and for the safety of his officers in tense times.


By: Sam Eifling, The New Republic, January 30, 2015

February 1, 2015 Posted by | NYPD, Police Abuse, Weaponization of Police | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“John Lewis Tells His Truth About Selma”: Reflections Of A Legacy Of Resistance That Led Many To Struggle And Die For Justice

The role of art in our society is not to reenact history but to offer an interpretation of human experience as seen through the eyes of the artist. The philosopher Aristotle says it best: “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inner significance.”

The movie “Selma” is a work of art. It conveys the inner significance of the ongoing struggle for human dignity in America, a cornerstone of our identity as a nation. It breaks through our too-often bored and uninformed perception of our history, and it confronts us with the real human drama our nation struggled to face 50 years ago.

And “Selma” does more than bring history to life, it enlightens our understanding of our lives today. It proves the efficacy of nonviolent action and civic engagement, especially when government seems unresponsive. With poignant grace, it demonstrates that Occupy, inconvenient protests and die-ins that disturb our daily routine reflect a legacy of resistance that led many to struggle and die for justice, not centuries ago, but in our lifetimes. It reminds us that the day could be approaching when that price will be required again.

But now this movie is being weighed down with a responsibility it cannot possibly bear. It’s portrayal of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s role in the Selma marches has been called into question. And yet one two-hour movie cannot tell all the stories encompassed in three years of history — the true scope of the Selma campaign. It does not portray every element of my story, Bloody Sunday, or even the life of Martin Luther King Jr. We do not demand completeness of other historical dramas, so why is it required of this film?

“Lincoln,” for example, was a masterpiece, a fine representation of what it takes to pass a bill. It did not, however, even mention Frederick Douglass or the central role of the abolitionists, who were all pivotal to the passage of the 13th Amendment. For some historians that may be a glaring error, but we accept these omissions as a matter of perspective and the historical editing needed to tell a coherent story. “Selma” must be afforded the same artistic license.

Were any of the Selma marches the brainchild of President Johnson? Absolutely not. If a man is chained to a chair, does anyone need to tell him he should struggle to be free? The truth is the marches occurred mainly due to the extraordinary vision of the ordinary people of Selma, who were determined to win the right to vote, and it is their will that made a way.

As for Johnson’s taped phone conversation about Selma with King, the president knew he was recording himself, so maybe he was tempted to verbally stack the deck about his role in Selma in his favor. The facts, however, do not bear out the assertion that Selma was his idea. I know. I was there. Don’t get me wrong, in my view, Johnson is one of this country’s great presidents, but he did not direct the civil rights movement.

This film is a spark that has ignited interest in an era we must not forget if we are to move forward as a nation. It is already serving as a bridge to a long-overdue conversation on race, inequality and injustice in this country today. It may well become a touchstone, a turning point for another generation of activists who will undertake the next evolutionary push for justice in America.

It would be a tragic error if Hollywood muted its praise for a film because it is too much a story and not enough an academic exercise.

Whenever I have a tough vote in Congress, I ask myself what would leaders of courage do? What would King and Robert Kennedy do? What is the right thing to do? What is the fair and honest thing to do?

The people have already spoken. They are marching to the theaters, arrested by the drama of this film, moved by ideas too long left to languish, driven to their feet and erupting in enthusiastic applause.


By: Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), one of the leaders of two of the Selma marches, is portrayed in “Selma.” He has been a member of Congress since 1987; Op-Ed Opinion, The Los Angeles Times, january 16, 2015

January 19, 2015 Posted by | Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King Jr, Selma | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Politics, Not Policy, Trumps Police”: Nothing Gets Done On The Policy End Unless There Are Serious Changes In The Political Climate

As a 10-member delegation of Congressional Black Caucus members head to Ferguson on Sunday for a moment of Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday observance with its citizens, there’s been an emerging argument that now is the time for this second coming of the Civil Rights Movement to transition from its current protest phase to a much more mature public policy phase. As we speak, black elected officials on the state, federal and local level are engaged in a mad dash to draft bills addressing a number of issues related to police violence and misconduct.

There’s a big snag, though: nothing gets done on the policy end unless there are serious changes in the political climate. Without any dramatic alterations on the political landscape, don’t expect any radical implementation of public policy, much less full passage of it. Many observers, and even caucus members themselves, describe the flurry of police brutality, law enforcement data and criminal justice reform bills as “dead on arrival” in the very conservative House Judiciary Committee chaired by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).

Republicans have shown no real public interest in addressing these issues, although CBC members claim that they will be getting hearings – at least – on the various bills introduced. But an emboldened Republican majority is running things in Congress and a very red political map of Republican governors and supermajorities in state capitols will keep that going.

The problem is that protesters are failing to make a very important distinction between Politics and Policy. These are two separate functions. They’re like cousins: they are definitely related, and yes, they support or, sometimes, fight each other. But the long-held perception that they’re identical twins is flat out wrong.

Ultimately, cousin policy can’t be implemented unless cousin politics is in the mix as bodyguard and hit man. Even when legislation becomes law, there’s no incentive for folks to follow it without political leverage in place to enforce it. President Obama may have signed the Death in Custody Reporting Act as an important nod to protesters, but it’s not like they’re whipping out the Grey Goose – many movement organizers don’t even know that happened.

And once it’s in place, there’s the question of funding and making sure there’s adequate political influence in cities and states to ensure police departments will be compliant.

Jim Crow didn’t suddenly crumble the day the Civil Rights Act was signed. Acceptance, albeit still slow, didn’t happen until black voters were mobilized into a solid political force to be reckoned with. Soon, we were electing black mayors, black city council members, and black state and federal legislators at a frantic pace. Eventually we got a black president. Since 1970, the number of black elected officials combined on the state, federal and local level has risen by about 650 percent (sadly, the folks who faithfully tallied that number over the past 44 years just went out of business last year – and no one seems to care).

We can quibble later over whether that’s translated into full equality for African Americans. But, you can’t argue with one clear fact: we have way greater flexibility to engage fully in society than we’ve ever had before.

Don’t get me wrong: this new discussion about transitioning from protest to policy is a very, very encouraging development. All movements, at some point, have to mature and grasp the legislative process. Recent criticism showed patience wearing thin from both prominent figures watching the movement and those within it as #BlackLivesMatter activists suddenly found themselves losing public sentiment. A recent YouGov poll shows 44 percent of Americans believe protesters should shoulder some responsibility for the murder of NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenijian Liu – along with 40 percent saying police should have more say over law enforcement than the elected officials who pass their budgets and oversee their activities.
Such polling data reveal the uncomfortable reality that protesters are losing the public narrative, which is usually the direct result of a failed political game.

It’s been nearly six months since Michael Brown was killed, police unleashed blue fury on Ferguson, Missouri and Officer Darren Wilson got a pass. To date, the same mayor and city council are in place, with no plans for a recall election in the foreseeable future. That is downright unacceptable.

No heads have rolled and no public firings of ranking officials or police chiefs have taken place in any of those cities where there are large black populations that can be groomed, prepped and mobilized into ferocious take-no-prisoners political machines. Police officers are turning their back on the Mayor of New York City and actively engaging in “work stoppages” – yet, where’s the black political counter-act to that? Progressives and others are always clowning or bashing the Tea Party and other conservative political groups. But current civil rights protesters could actually learn something from them: Tea Party influence may have declined a bit in the past year, but Republican politicians are still forced to shape policy to their liking or face the prospect of job loss in a primary. Stand Your Ground and voter suppression laws would not have passed if powerful interests like the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council hadn’t applied pressure on Republican state lawmakers.

Right now, that’s a missing piece in the movement. People want immediate change they can see, hear and touch. Passing bills through a complex legislative process few average citizens understand won’t make a bit of difference if political blood isn’t spilled first. Bills don’t give you control. Winning elections and running things do.


By: Charles Ellison, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, January 16, 2015

January 17, 2015 Posted by | Civil Rights Movement, Ferguson Missouri, Police Abuse | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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