Dartagnan

Passengers forced off plane after 2 grinning Trump fans refuse to wear masks, spew n-word

Air travel is a bad enough experience right now, without having to put up with Trump-supporting assholes deliberately attempting to make everyone more miserable, as passengers on Frontier Airlines' flight from Seattle to Denver last month found out.

The airline's policy, like that of other U.S. airlines, requires masks to be worn in-flight to help prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the hermetically sealed and tightly-packed environment of a passenger jet. But because two women (both wearing Trump garb, including MAGA hats) wanted either to make a political statement, or possibly because they were simply the unfortunate products of rotten parenting, every passenger paid the price.

The pair initially refused to vacate the plane, forcing the pilot to regretfully announce that all passengers would be forced to deplane in order to effect their removal. As the passengers sighed in disbelief at yet another display (among seemingly innumerable examples) of rude and selfish behavior by Trump's minions, one of the two women can be heard saying "Have a good day, n****r" and smiling at one of the passengers forced to leave the plane.

As reported by the Daily Mail:

'Ladies and gentlemen, I'm sorry. I've got to take this a step further,' the pilot announces over the intercom.
Meanwhile, a few passengers can be heard yelling at the women to get off the plane.

The pilot continues: 'The two passengers who we need to remove from the airplane are refusing to do that. We can resolve this easily but at this point I have to ask everyone to leave the airplane.'

The removal of these two Trump-supporting dirtbags was greeted with general cheers by the plane's passengers, but the entire episode seemed to make little impression on the two women, one can even be seen calmly munching an apple as her fellow mask-wearing passengers were forced to disembark. The fact that they's caused this discomfort and inconvenience to the rest of the plane's complement didn't appear to faze the women one bit.

Like so many of today's displays of bad behavior, the incident was recorded and posted to TikTok; it is now available on YouTube (see below). According to the report, the gentleman who recorded the video was told that the two women would be banned from future Frontier flights and added "the no-fly list," which has since been confirmed by Frontier's Director of Corporate Communications.


Plane Deboards Because MAGA Hat Wearing Woman Won't Wear Mask youtu.be


While this is just one incident, it's hardly unique, as this Daily Kos report detailing the widespread pattern of such occurrences explains. Yet this single display is thoroughly emblematic of how Donald Trump and the Republican Party's efforts to transform mask-wearing into a political statement has helped to create the situation that the rest of the country finds itself in today, with deaths from COVID-19 now projected in one model to increase by 115,000 over the next four weeks.

The wealthiest people in this country are pushing to the front of the line to get vaccinated

More than any single event in recent memory, the COVID-19 pandemic revealed the gaping chasms of inequality in American society. From the very outset it was accepted wisdom that "essential workers," i.e., those forced to risk their lives in unsafe workplaces throughout the country, would include not only medical personnel such as doctors, nurses, and hospital orderlies; not only police, firefighters and first responders; not only operators of public transportation and critical government services such as postal workers; but also the folks who worked behind cash registers at the Lowe's, the 7-11, and those whose jobs involved the processing, delivery, preparation and transportation of food items and consumer goods that kept the moribund economy from congealing into a second Great Depression.

The "essential" nature of these workers was loudly touted by companies from Amazon to WalMart to Domino's pizza, who extolled the selfless bravery of their employees in warm and touching TV ads, ads that served as a new type of PR for those same companies with sordid past track records about treatment of workers. Meanwhile, the highly compensated officers and executives of these companies bore the brunt of the pandemic not by interacting daily with a stressed and potentially infected public, but from their snug and expansive estates and second homes where they continued to bark orders and issue their edicts remotely.

And this was also the case with the so-called "professional class," as six-figure income lawyers and corporate managers developed new ways to work from home, reallocating firm IT services and equipment while the lower-tiered employees such as clerks and secretaries were mostly told to return to the office, if they were to keep their jobs at all. Probably the most telling example of the disparities in treatment afforded between high managerial and service-level, clerical employees is the current, never-ending circus continuing to unfold in our Congress this weekend, in which financial and rent assistance to ordinary middle and lower income Americans is being held hostage to liability protections insisted upon by the corporate "owner" class in the persona of Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell.

In short, this was never going to be an "equal opportunity" pandemic. Its inherent unfairness has been even more apparent in the medical treatment received by the wealthy as opposed to ordinary Americans, personified by no less than Donald Trump and his White house cronies who, being infected with the COVID-19 virus through their own carelessness and recklessness, nonetheless have instantly received the quickest, most cutting edge care available. Nor are they alone—as described by Mark Sumner here, the gross disparity between medical treatment available to this countries' richest citizens and its less fortunate (but so "essential") workers, mostly those people of color who couldn't work from home due to the very nature of their jobs, often with substandard health insurance, if any, was bound to surface before too long.

And now that multiple vaccines are looming, we are seeing the same sense of natural entitlement among the top 1% playing out, as reports emerge daily of attempts by these same people to bribe their way to the front of the line for vaccination, the better to allow themselves to carry on with their lives as soon as possible, with an eye to traveling and frolicking amongst their islands (both metaphorical and real ones) while the rest of Americans prepare to stand in line for months.

As reported by the Los Angeles Times:

They're offering tens of thousands of dollars in cash, making their personal assistants pester doctors every day, and asking whether a five-figure donation to a hospital would help them jump the line.

The COVID-19 vaccine is here — and so are the wealthy people who want it first.

"We get hundreds of calls every single day," said Dr. Ehsan Ali, who runs Beverly Hills Concierge Doctor. His clients, who include Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber, pay between $2,000 and $10,000 a year for personalized care. "This is the first time where I have not been able to get something for my patients."

A few years ago, in what came as a bit of a surprise to my woefully provincial sensibilities, I first heard the term "concierge medicine." It refers to health care offered—at substantial cost—by an elite network of physicians and other medical providers designed to allow wealthier Americans (who may not wish to dirty their hands with the type of medical care provided to the vast majority of us) access to the best medical treatment money can buy. As described by Hayley Fowler, writing for the Miami Herald:

Many wealthy Americans pay for concierge medical services — a "kind of high-quality, primary care most Americans can't afford," the Los Angeles Times reported. Some of those services have already procured the expensive freezers needed to store the vaccine and put their patients on wait lists as soon as it becomes available for widespread distribution.
The cost of such "concierge care" can run in excess of $250,000 per year, and guarantees, as noted in the LA Times article, personalized 24-hour access to physicians who provide their services to a small segment of wealthy clients. These physicians' groups have the financial wherewithal, for example to have immediately secured the types of freezers necessary to hold the Pfizer vaccine in cold storage at -94 degrees Fahrenheit for significant lengths of time. That in itself provides these groups with a leg up on receiving the vaccine, despite whatever state restrictions may be in place as to who receives it.
Doctors in boutique practices say they'll adhere to public health guidelines in determining who gets priority. But being on a waiting list at a practice that has special freezers and other high-quality resources means you're already near the front of the line once the supply opens up.

Doctors in these "boutiques" confirm this. One co-founder of a "concierge" medical service "with clinics in New York, the Hamptons and Beverly Hills" told the LA Times that his group started soliciting these expensive deep-cold freezers as soon as it was apparent the vaccine would be on the market.

While the Trump administration has not yet been caught offering the vaccine for private distribution, these physicians groups feel it is just a matter of time before such allocations are made, in part due to the demanding and entitled nature of their patrons. The LA Times specifically refers to instances of these "concierge" patients offering huge payments to these groups for the privilege of jumping to the first in line. In one case a person asked if he could accelerate his receipt of the vaccine by making a $25,000 "donation" to a hospital. And, as CNN reports, other physicians with "A-list" clients have been fielding hundreds of calls, all conveying the message, of course, that their money should give them priority:

Dr. David Nazarian, of My Concierge MD in Beverly Hills, said a number of his A-list clients are contacting him, saying that money is no object if it helps them get the vaccine early. "They wanted it yesterday," said Nazarian. "We will play by the rules but are doing everything we can to secure and distribute the vaccine when its available to us."

State officials quoted through these articles are adamant that they will do everything they can to prevent such "line jumping" and they are obviously sincere in that intent. The LA Times article cites no instances yet of physicians succumbing to these types of pressures, but that is likely because the vaccine rollout has just begun, and also because physicians fear the public consequences if they are found out providing the vaccine to those people whose only qualification to receive it is that they are not familiar with taking "no" for an answer.

Another concern described by the Times is the potential for wealthier people to arrange to have their symptoms "fudged" so that a minor history of asthma, for example, could be highlighted or stressed by their doctor for the purpose of receiving the vaccine on a priority basis. And there are always those people closely connected with pharmaceutical executives who believe they ought to warrant special treatment due to the nature of those relationships. Beyond this, as reported by Stat News here, once a vaccine is developed that does not require such stringent storage, there is virtually no doubt that a "black market" will develop for it, with access provided to the highest bidder.

As bluntly emphasized by Timothy Egan this week, writing for the New York Times, this pandemic is hardly close to reaching its conclusion. The next three months are going to be a living hell, with American deaths by March now expected to reach or exceed 500,000. We already know that the Trump administration will pay scant if any attention to the way this vaccine is allotted once it finally gets its act together on distribution. It is the individual states that will ultimately determine the priority of how the vaccine is dispensed, at least officially.

Which brings us back to those so-called "essential workers." If they were as essential as they were roundly described in all of those solemn advertisements, one would expect that, after health care workers (which seems obvious) they would be the first to receive the vaccine, right?

As reported by Stat News, not necessarily:

"Essential workers" are expected to receive early access to the vaccine, and the definition of this category is open to interpretation by state health departments, creating a means for influential industries to lobby for priority. "The devil's going to be in the details of how the state runs their program," Lang said he tells his patients.

Members of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the federal panel recommending how to distribute the vaccines, want to prioritize essential workers to help ensure people of color, who are often the hardest hit by the virus, get early access. But the predominantly white workers in the financial services industry are also considered essential, according to guidance from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which was referenced by ACIP, as well as executive orders from several states including New York, Illinois, Colorado, and California. Public-facing bank tellers face contagion risks in their work, but aren't the only financial services employees included.

"It was left a little bit nebulous but basically covered people who oil the movement of money, so exchanges, trading floors, trading operations, and people who keep money moving at the retail [banking] level," said Lang.

Again, it seems that the people who have the money will be prioritized to receive the vaccine, as well as—not coincidentally-- the people whose job it is to move money for those same people.

A more telling verdict on our society's priorities could hardly be imagined.

We should treat these Republicans like the fascists they are

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled on Texas' ridiculous suit against four other states, perhaps we can take stock of what's happened over the past few weeks.

Imagine a world where over one-half of the members in the Republican House of Representatives, including the top Republican in that caucus, sign on to a clumsy, thoroughly bogus attempt to overturn a national election based on contrived lies that add up to nothing except the fact that their man lost. Not just "lost," mind you, but was soundly beaten. Had his ass kicked, in fact, both in the popular vote and the electoral college tally.

And imagine a Republican Senate Majority equally contemptuous of the winner of that election, wielding the power to hold hostage many of the new President's first official actions—such as the basic function of picking a Cabinet. That Senate uses the excuse that the election was still being "litigated" to stall even scheduling hearings on his Cabinet nominations.

Imagine the outgoing, losing president, doing his level best to sabotage and hamstring the man who beat him in the election, alternatively whining and threatening elected Republican officials, demanding a list of those opposed to him, so that he could single them out for punishment.

And imagine all of this occurring against the backdrop of the worst public health crisis, combined with an equally virulent economic calamity, to hit this country in over a century.

If you really want to appreciate the insanity of what we're witnessing right now, just play the alternative scenario in your head.

Had President Barack Obama lost to Mitt Romney in 2012 by over seven million votes, suffered a 306-232 Electoral college shellacking, yet insisted he was the rightful winner, accusing the Republican Party of a massive and fraudulent campaign to undermine him, all while refusing to concede the election, you don't really need to think too hard to comprehend how this whole sorry episode in our country's history would have played out.

If something so ridiculous and far-fetched ever occurred, Democrats wouldn't have waited to remove him, they would have done it themselves. They wouldn't have waited for the Republican Party to cry and scream about it. He would have been banished from political life and never spoken of again.

So despite the Supreme Court's ruling, wiping out this latest attempt by the GOP to subvert and destroy our country, there's really something unspeakably terrible about this moment. It's bad enough as it is, but it's actually getting worse, Supreme Court rulings notwithstanding.

By now many people have put their finger on what's going on here. Basically, the Republican Party has shown its true colors. In a way, perhaps, we should thank Donald Trump for bringing this out in the cold light, for all to see.

As Adam Serwer, writing for The Atlantic, cannily observes, the message that is being sent by the Republicans here is that your vote was fraudulent if the person you voted for wasn't Donald Trump. And more specifically, your vote was fraudulent if you are not white.

To Trump's strongest supporters, Biden's win is a fraud because his voters should not count to begin with, and because the Democratic Party is not a legitimate political institution that should be allowed to wield power even if they did.

This is why the authoritarian remedies festering in the Trump fever swamps—martial law, the usurpation of state electors, Supreme Court fiat—are so openly contemplated. Because the true will of the people is that Trump remain president, forcing that outcome, even in the face of defeat, is a fulfillment of democracy rather than its betrayal.The Republican base's fundamental belief, the one that Trump used to win them over in the first place, the one that ties the election conspiracy theory to birtherism and to Trump's sneering attack on the Squad's citizenship, is that Democratic victories do not count, because Democratic voters are not truly American. It's no accident that the Trump campaign's claims have focused almost entirely on jurisdictions with high Black populations.

To Republicans, only white votes matter now. Are you wondering why you haven't heard any accusations about voter fraud in the suburban counties surrounding Philadelphia, for example, which helped Joe Biden win Pennsylvania? There are no such accusations, because those areas are predominantly white.

Back to our imagined scenario: If Barack Obama had attempted this, the Republican Party would long since have lined up in unison, braying for his head on a platter. There would be no reticence in calling this exactly what it is: treachery, treason, sedition of the highest order.

Republicans wouldn't be demanding hearings. From the top of the GOP leadership down, they'd be demanding an inquisition. They'd be urging all of their constituents to flood the streets.

But back in our real world, Democrats have been remarkably quiet about what is happening. Perhaps it's an expectation that this will all blow over, once the Electoral College votes on Monday. Perhaps the thinking is, following the lead of Joe Biden, Democrats want to project an air of professionalism and capability while the Republicans make fools of themselves. Perhaps they're inclined to just let the media do the castigating for them. Perhaps, as some have suggested, they feel as if their Republican counterparts are only behaving this way because they know their efforts will be unsuccessful.

I don't understand this thinking. It seems ridiculously naive, particularly under these times of unprecedented crisis, where thousands of Americans are dying in hospitals every single day.

The Republicans have embraced fascism. I don't know how many times it's going to be necessary to say this. I don't know how it can be said more clearly. There will not be any cooperation with these people. They've sold their souls. Fascists are impervious to reason, shame or argument. The only thing they understand is power when it's used against them.

The Democratic Party represents the majority—by a considerable margin—of the American voting public. As diverse as our coalition is, it is in fact the majority, and it needs to behave like a majority. We—not the Republicans—were the millions who marched in the streets of Washington, D.C. in 2017. We—not the Republicans—were the millions who marched in every major city in the country—and practically every other place in the country—in opposition to racism and police brutality. We—not the Republicans—were the ones who flooded the polls in 2018, and again in 2020, finally throwing this abomination out of office.

A majority has power, and it knows when to use it.

What the Republicans are doing has been, and is, intolerable. Any Republican—at the state level, the federal level, or in any other capacity—should be made to understand that they have betrayed the country. They need to know that they will be viewed and treated like people who have betrayed their country—for the rest of their political careers. They need to be made to understand that they will face the consequences of their 2020 treachery for the rest of their lives.

Unless and until that happens, they will continue to mock us, to disenfranchise us, knowing that we will sit back in fear, relying on our fragile "institutions" to protect us. And then they will try it again.

A 'Coup for Dummies' guide to the fraudulent GOP 'meeting' in Gettysburg to overturn the election

The partisan meeting, incorrectly characterized as a "hearing," between Pennsylvania Republican State Senators and members of the Trump campaign to address supposed "irregularities" in the now-certified Pennsylvania election, has now concluded. Donald Trump was scheduled to attend but backed out after yet another member of his inner circle, legal team member, investment banker and part-time propagandist Boris Ephsteyn, tested positive for COVID-19.

In front of what appeared to be a largely maskless audience tightly packed into the ballroom of the Wyndham Hotel Gettysburg, a number of witnesses, also mostly not wearing masks, spoke before an all-Republican panel of Pennsylvania State Senators, most of whom were, again, not wearing masks. None of the witnesses were placed under oath.

Rather than appearing personally, Mr. Trump dialed in to the I-Phone of one of his few remaining die-hard lawyers, Jenna Ellis. Trump repeated his assertions that the election had been "rigged," and that he had won "by a lot."

He then urged the PA. Senate Republican Majority to overturn the election results in Pennsylvania. As reported by the Daily Mail (I know, I know-- they did the work and no one else thus far seems to have had the interest):

"Why wouldn't they overturn an election? Certainly overturn it in your state,' he said in his call, which was played for an audience in Pennsylvania and carried on livestreams and on some cable channels.

As usual, Trump provided absolutely no evidence for his statements. However he did talk about things he had seen on TV that day.

He said a 'big energy official was on this morning on an important show' who 'said there's no way trump didn't win Pennsylvania because the energy industry was all for him.

Trump also channeled his inner mob boss by expressing faith in our judicial system to overturn the election: "All we need is to have some judge listen to it properly," he said.

Jenna Ellis, Trump's lawyer, then verbally urged PA's Republican Senators to overturn the election by sending their own slate of Electors to vote for Trump.

Objectively speaking, the "meeting" featured little more than a parade of charlatans and aggrieved, whining, sometimes misguided partisans and Trump sycophants from Pennsylvania, none of whom provided any direct evidence of fraud in the 2020 election.

One witness, Phil Waldron, a retired colonel, got introduced as a statistician, but had to clarify that he wasn't.
'I am not a statistician. I'm a combat officer and didn't do well in math,' he said.

There were hearsay statements about the purportedly rude or obstructive conduct of (implicitly Black) poll workers in Philadelphia (no names were supplied), and several complaints about the fact that Republican poll watchers were not permitted to closely observe the tabulation of ballots. There were plenty of conspiracy-mongering allusions to the "hackability" of the vote tabulations, but seemingly no evidence of actual hacking.

What was noticeably missing from the testimony was any direct evidence that they received treatment markedly different than Democratic poll watchers in this regard, or that the treatment they were afforded did not accord with any treatment they would have received in any other election. Pennsylvania has fairly strict guidelines on conduct that could be construed as harassment or intimidation of poll workers. But more importantly, again, there was no assertion that could point to any concrete instances fraud or deception on the part of the Commonwealth's intrepid and beleaguered election workers, many of whom were volunteers.

Kim Peterson, a Pittsburgh poll watcher, also complained about the distance. 'We were kept in a corral that was at least 15 to 20 feet from any of the representatives,' she said.

Without belaboring the issue, if you are within fifteen feet of a person engaged in a task involving concentration, come any closer and you are likely disturbing their work, particularly if you are intrusively staring over their shoulder.

The "meeting" reached no formal "conclusion," except a rabid and self-serving soliloquy by wingnut Pa state senator Doug Mastriano, vowing to "take our state back," to the thunderous (not really, but I couldn't resist the Star Wars allusion) applause of all present.

The real disgrace here was not the parade of disgruntled Republicans, vehemently mouthing their baseless grievances, or even the fact that few of these people cared enough about their own or others' health to maintain appropriate distancing or wear mask protection.

The real disgrace is that an elected body of officials felt compelled to give this seditious, farcical and corrosive circus a platform at all.

The entire meeting is available now on C-span.

There has been a successful coup in the United States. It foreshadowed the rise of Trump

In his failed efforts to overturn the 2020 election result, Donald Trump has been accused of attempting to subvert the will of the American people by instigating a coup d'etat—an act of overthrowing or usurping lawful government powers by employing unlawful or illegal means.

What many Americans may not realize is that Trump's motives and actions, and those of the Republican Party enabling him had their genesis in a far earlier, successful coup executed over 120 years ago. Then, white citizens conspired against a municipal government in Wilmington, North Carolina.

One of the primary reasons Republicans like Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and his ilk are so vehemently angry about re-examinations of American history from a racial perspective. Cotton's war on the devastating analysis contained within The New York Times' praised and influential "1619 Project," for example is not simply about what such fresh looks at "established" history reveal about the pervasiveness and longevity of racism in this country. Instead, their rage is fueled by what deeper looks at racism—and the nation's long history of it—reveal about the character and motivations of the perpetrators themselves. Since race-based bigotry is impossible to defend from any rational standpoint, stories and myths to mask it are the only strategy.

As for those motivations, it can be deceptively easy to assume that racism is rooted simply in discrimination on the basis of skin color. At its most basic level, that is certainly what it is—it provides an explanation even a child can understand: Others are "bad" because they "look different."

But "looking different" is just a foundational element for racism. It's what comes next that matters, when the implications of looking different are weighed and contemplated within the lizard brain of those so predisposed. These same types of people have continually, through the centuries, made up a huge cross-section of America. From the nineteenth-century southern inheritors of the beaten Confederacy, known then as the Democrats, to what they swiftly transformed themselves into a century later during the Civil Rights era—the same people we now know as the modern Republican Party. Today's Republicans are simply the latest heirs to the same racist legacy post-Reconstruction that brought us Black Codes, Jim Crow, and "Separate but Equal": It's a legacy that now manifests itself in the coordinated effort to restrict voting among Black people and anyone who isn't white that is voter suppression.

Out of the many acts of terroristic violence perpetrated against African Americans since active hostilities concluded in the Civil War, what occurred in Wilmington over a few days in November 1898 was not unique in its lethal character. Some 60 (probably more) Black citizens were massacred at the hands of an angry mob of white supremacists. Similar incidents of racist violence had peppered the South for decades, fueling the inception of such domestic terrorist groups as the Ku Klux Klan. But the parallels with the modern goals of the Republican Party—specifically the political reasons for the massacre, coupled with what sparked the event itself—echo today in the strategy and motives underlying the Trump campaign's efforts to delegitimize the 2020 election.

What motivated that 1898 Wilmington coup, known as the Wilmington Insurrection—or its longtime white-washed historical descriptor, the "Wilmington Race Riot"—were the same things that motivate Trump and the GOP today: white power, white insecurity and white fear. All of those put together led to a sustained campaign of voter intimidation that directly prefigures the GOP's modern-day voter suppression script.

David W. Blight is Sterling professor of American History at Yale University. Writing for the New York Review of Books, Blight, in reviewing David Zucchino's recent book, Wilmington's Lie, explains what happened in Wilmington at the conclusion of the nineteenth century, and why it happened. In fact, it was this country's only successful coup d'etat, an unlawful and violent revolt by white Americans seeking to usurp power through intimidating and suppressing the black vote and thereby eliminating its impact in "a multi-racial government in the South's most progressive Black-majority city."

It's an ugly story, but parts of it will seem very ... familiar.

"Red shirts" a paramilitary organization terrorizing American Blacks: North Carolina state Archives, RaleighThat month there was a concerted, carefully planned, and successful effort to violently suppress the black vote, eliminate Black elected officials, and restore white control of the city of Wilmington, as well as the entire state, to the Democrats for the cause of white supremacy. Leaders of the coup employed tactics ranging from vicious newspaper propaganda and economic intimidation to arson and lynching. Dozens of African-Americans were killed and Black political life in the area was snuffed out in a matter of days: 126,000 Black men were on the voter rolls of North Carolina in 1896; by 1902, only 6,100 remained.

As Blight emphasizes, "The Democrats of 1898 in North Carolina had the same aims, and some of the same methods, as today's Republican vote suppressors, scheming and spending millions of dollars to thwart the right to vote with specious claims about "voter fraud."

Despite the North's victory in the Civil War and despite Emancipation, North Carolina, like other Southern states in the years immediately following the war, began implementing Black Codes, which in essence reverted Blacks to near-slave status, and refused to ratify the 14th Amendment—granting African Americans citizenship and equal protection under the law. Those circumstances changed, at least on paper, when the state held a Constitutional convention in 1868 under Reconstruction, granting blacks the right to vote. As Blight notes, from that day forward, blacks were viewed by the state's white supremacists as an existential menace, a "contagion to be wiped out." The supremacist-dominated "Democrats" quickly regained the governorship, and began systematically imposing legal and procedural "ruses," all with the specific intent of disqualifying Black voters.

Despite these efforts, Black citizens continued to assert and increase their political participation and power in North Carolina, particularly in the second Congressional district, which encompassed Wilmington, which had elected several Black aldermen and employed several Black policemen. The District itself also voted in its first Black representative, George H. White.

As Blight explains, this situation was unheard of and intolerable to many highly placed and powerful North Carolinians, including the owner-editor of the Raleigh News and Observer, the chair of the Democratic Party, and Alfred Waddell, another avowed white supremacist, propagandist "orator" and Congressman. Waddell would, through his fiery speeches, evoke racist sentiments "that had working-class white men on their feet with their Winchester rifles held high."

At a rally before eight thousand people on November 7, Waddell called them to arms: "Go to the polls tomorrow," he shouted, "and if you find the Negro out voting, tell him to leave the polls. And if he refuses, kill him! Shoot him down in his tracks!" The campaign ran training sessions on how to stuff ballot boxes and met with employers to make sure white men had the day off to vote.

Waddell had help from a homegrown base of gun-toting racists who wore specific garb to identify themselves. They called themselves the "Red Shirts," recognizable by their clothing, which was specifically intended to make the united racists both visible and intimidating.

With the help of thousands of "Red Shirts"—bands of heavily armed men adept at intimidation and ready to kill—they sought the liquidation of Black men from political life and the overthrow of the state of North Carolina. With arsenals of guns, big and small, the campaign declared its aims overtly; ... "We must either outcheat, outcount or outshoot them!" They accomplished all three ambitions.

Blight explains that the instigators of this concerted backlash against Black participation in democracy propagated a belief system that permeated much of the attitudes of the post-Civil War generation—that their (supposed) birthright had been threatened by freed slaves, who they believed had further "degenerated" by becoming "aggressive" towards white women. Everyone knows there has never been an excuse quite as handy and self-serving for white supremacists as defending the honor—and so-called chastity—of "their" white women. According to Blight, quoting historian Joel Williamson, "These lethal concoctions of race and sex in the minds of radical racists formed a 'psychic core'... of a new, violent redemption."

As Blight notes, such an association "drove political organization and white frenzy more than some [modern] readers may grasp." Because It meant that Black men who were permitted the privilege of voting—or worse, governing—could compete for white women's affections, a prospect which drove these insecure men into a frothing, uncontrollable rage. It was a rage that white supremacist demagogues played up to the hilt.

In Wilmington, the spark that ignited this teeming mass of ginned-up anger was a man named Alexander Lightfoot Manly. The mixed race and well-educated grandson of a former North Carolina governor and one of his enslaved women, Manly nonetheless identified as Black. He founded the City of Wilmington's only Black daily, and in 1895 published a column challenging the prevailing idea that any sexual union between white women and Black men could only be classified as "rape." In the summer of 1898, responding to pro-lynching rant by the wife of another white supremacist congressman, he published a fateful editorial.

As described by D.G. Martin, in a piece written for the local CBS Radio affiliate, WCHL:

In response to a widely circulated assertion that the only solution to Black aggression against white women was lynching, Manly wrote, "Every Negro lynched is called a 'big, burly Black brute,' when in fact, many of those who have been dealt with had white men for their fathers and were not only 'not Black and burly' but were sufficiently attractive for white girls of culture and refinement to fall in love with them, as is very well known to all."

As noted by Blight, Manly also embellished his language with a taunt, writing that racist whites shouldn't expect their daughters to "remain pure" while the white men around them continued "debauching" Black women.

This type of "insolent" attitude, coming from a Black man, was absolutely stupefying to white supremacists. Quoting Zucchino, Blight emphasizes that "A Black man had mocked the myths that had sustained whites for generations, piercing the buried insecurities of Southern white men." Responding to a frenzied push among the white population to lynch Manly and destroy his newspaper, the white supremacists who had been egging on anger against blacks convinced white voters to express their fury on Election Day: Nov. 8, 1898.

And they did just that, establishing a template for what we now know as systematic, intimidating voter suppression.

Black men in Wilmington risked their lives to vote on November 8; only about half of those registered actually cast their ballots. Democrats stuffed ballot boxes in gerrymandered black precincts and destroyed Republican ballots while white men, as Zucchino puts it, "accosted Blacks at gunpoint in some wards, forcing them to turn back as they tried to reach polling stations." In white neighborhoods, rumors spread of Black violence—rumors that Zucchino states were "pure fiction": "Virtually all the armed men who remained on the streets throughout the night were white, not Black."

One local white woman who kept a diary during the election noted that the whole effort was designed to intimidate Black (men) into "never vot[ing] again." As a result, the white supremacist-inspired effort succeeded in winning the Democrats the election, and its instigators immediately instituted measures to force out the current government. The state's media immediately praised the remarkable election results—lauding the coup and praising its leaders, while ignoring the concerted suppression and intimidation that caused it all.

Two days later, on Nov. 10, 500 white men gathered at the town's armory and began their rampage, killing Blacks indiscriminately and destroying Black homes and Black-owned businesses. Their initial target was Alexander Manly. Upon being informed that Manly had escaped, they set fire to his newspaper office, posing for the picture that is at the top of this post. Blacks were shot in the back, many killed on their knees or in other humiliating positions. Many of the remaining Black residents fled into surrounding woods or swamps. No one was punished or prosecuted for these murders. The police chief, board of aldermen and mayor of Wilmington were summarily removed, essentially at gunpoint, and replaced by white supremacists, including Waddell—who was declared the new mayor.

As Blight notes, the impact of the Wilmington Massacre (he calls it a "pogrom") was felt statewide, and determined the fate of North Carolina for decades to come. The coup leaders in Wilmington immediately began propagating the false story that Blacks had instigated the violence; those responsible for the actual violence went on to prominent political careers. In the state capital of Raleigh, Blight writes, "a wave of disfranchisement and other Jim Crow laws flowed from the state legislature," and it would be decades before the state began to "unlearn" the lessons of that massacre.

And as the years passed, the mythology of a "virtuous" white supremacy and the "unworthiness" of the Black vote continued to be passed down from generation to generation, sometimes blatant, sometimes hidden, but always present, like a shadow, waiting patiently for yet another cynical demagogue to awaken and tap into the fears, grievances and insecurities of another willing audience of pathetic, small-minded white men.

Susan Rice breaks down the potential impact of withholding security briefings from Biden transition team

Former Ambassador Susan Rice, writing for The New York Times, frames the danger involved in depriving President-elect Joe Biden of access to top intelligence briefings normally afforded to the incoming commander in chief of our armed forces.

Rice first recounts her own experience of working through three transitions, including, ultimately, the transition from the Barack Obama administration to that of Donald Trump. In that case, she describes how she "laid out in depth the numerous challenges (Trump) would confront immediately—from the campaign to defeat the Islamic State to threats posed by Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. I also stressed the need to be prepared for less obvious threats, like the potentially catastrophic collapse of the Mosul Dam in Iraq and pandemic disease."

The reaction from Trump and his people was typical both in its arrogance and blithe disinterest; Rice spent a few hours with now-convicted felon Michael Flynn detailing the most serious concerns. As it turned out, those few hours constituted the near-totality of the interaction between the incoming Trump and outgoing Obama team with regard to national security. Trump's people had been specifically told not to meet with the Obama people, obviously intended as a gesture of contempt.

Rice notes that in the current "transition phase," Trump's people have denied the Biden team access to intelligence briefings with respect to national security threats, COVID-19, and related economic issues—and how the American public could pay the price for those denials.

Rice explains:

While we are extremely fortunate that Mr. Biden may be the most experienced president-elect ever to take office and brings with him a deep bench of highly qualified, knowledgeable experts, the Trump administration's continued refusal to execute a responsible transition puts our national security at risk. Without access to critical threat information, no incoming team can counter what it can't see coming.
If, today, the Trump administration is tracking potential or actual threats — for instance, Russian bounties on American soldiers, a planned terrorist attack on an embassy, a dangerously mutated coronavirus, or Iranian and North Korean provocations — but fails to share this information in a timely fashion with the Biden-Harris team, it could cost us dearly in terms of American lives.

I would suggest one reason the Trump people are denying Biden's team access to high-level intelligence as long as they possibly can with respect to the three most predominant issues (national security, the pandemic, and the economy): There are virtually no policies put in place by the current administration to address any of these concerns in any meaningful, substantive way.

I believe that once Biden's team does gain access to what is happening from an internal perspective, they are going to be appalled at the degree of inaction and wholesale lack of any efforts whatsoever to address these challenges. They will find instead a network of utter incompetence and indifference to planning, strategy or policy, staggering in its depth, and the Trump people know this. They will find security threats and intel festering, ignored, or shunted aside in favor of groveling to Trump's every chimerical whim. They will find communications from our overseas allies to have shriveled into nothingness, and our intelligence services put at risk, if not wholly ignored. They will find corruption, graft, kickbacks and politicization to have completely replaced national security policy.

They will find only token measures performed with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic, and all of those measures redounding to the Trump family's personal coffers and the interests of those still employed within the highest level of the administration. They will find no coherent policies, plans, or measures in place to address the economic calamity facing tens of millions of Americans, and they will find our national security apparatus on the cusp of disaster, with only half-baked plans geared less to satisfy the interests and safety of American citizens than to fulfill the wishlists of foreign adversaries.

The Trump people know this is what they are on track to leave behind for the Biden people, which is why they're very busy right now, deleting or destroying as much information as they can. They're trying to stave off the horror they know will ensue when Biden's team gains access and finds out what really has—and hasn't—been going on.

Trump's minions know the dam is about to break and a huge cesspool is waiting, and they seek only to delay the inevitable—and cover their tracks.

What Donald Trump is trying to do has been telegraphed ad nauseam. The why is about self-preservation

The unbelievably corrosive spectacle of a defeated American president pre-emptively declaring victory, demanding a halt to vote tallies, instigating multiple lawsuits, opposing counting votes in one while demanding a pointless recount in another, and sending thugs swarming into still another to invent instances of "voter fraud" to be hyped breathlessly by Fox News, would be bad enough for our country if that president's sole motive was simply to preserve his place in office. We know, because we saw an extended preview of this movie in 2000.

But what Donald Trump is doing right now had already been telegraphed ad nauseum well before November 3rd, when everyone, including everyone in this administration, recognized that the most probable outcome of the election would be an ignominious repudiation of Trump's tenure, in the only form such a rebuke can be delivered—by the voters rendering him a one-term president.

We knew he would do this, and yet many of us clung to the hope that he would somehow find it within himself to succumb to the inevitable, for the good of the country if for nothing else. What many of us may have temporarily forgotten was that for Trump, the presidency has first and foremost been a tool to enrich and promote himself. He couldn't care less about the way history views him because he has no regard for history, democracy or any other ideal that normal presidents (or human beings) might ascribe to. As has been vividly illustrated by his dismal execution of his official functions during the COVID-19 pandemic, his only concern has always, always been himself.

Trump knows these lawsuits and maneuvers are destined to fail. He's too far behind in the three states to alter their outcomes absent an extraordinary distortion of the rule of law that even the most corrupt Federal Judge would probably find impossible to countenance. So something else is motivating this approach, and in keeping with Trump's established narcissism, that something is his own future. It's more than just the wounded pride of a small man, or a Hail Mary to ward off potential looming indictments. It's a necessary step to his future, a future out of the Oval.

Americans are seeing their country now held hostage by this person because he needs to create an aura of illegitimacy about his defeat among his hardcore base. If he did not contest the election result, he risked losing that support which he fully intends to rely upon to further his own brand, a brand that now includes his repulsive children. A stinging electoral repudiation after one term in office would be an anchor around his neck forever weighing him down, no matter how many Fox News appearances he made once safely back in the embrace of right wing media. Now he can always claim that the votes were fraudulent, or that they were wrongly counted, and that he challenged them until there was no other avenue possible. And his supporters will continue to believe him, as he slides comfortably back into the private sector.

It's really all about the Trump business which-- because Trump has no real business acumen--lie completely in hyping the Trump "brand." Trump probably isn't going to run again for president. He'll be seventy-eight years old in 2024, and more importantly, his health probably won't allow it. But it's not really the presidency itself that satisfies his ambition. What he demonstrates again and again by his incessant rallies is an unquenchable desire to be adored, even worshiped. What he really wants is adulation and a megaphone to go with it. He wants to continue the same power and influence he now has after he leaves office, absent the constraints of that office. To keep that power and influence, he needs to be seen as legitimate, or at worst, he needs the person who defeated him to be seen as illegitimate by enough people, just to keep the Trump con job running along.

You're not supposed to understand the Hunter Biden smear. Chaos is the point

Acclaimed journalist and historian Anne Applebaum understands the universe of propaganda as well as anyone alive today. Winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, she has devoted the past three decades to studying Russia and Eastern and Central Europe, with an emphasis on disinformation and propaganda so acute that she was herself targeted—by a Russian-originated smear campaign in retaliation for her writings about Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea. She now contributes her cache of knowledge to The Atlantic, among other publications.

For someone so well-versed, analyzing the blatant behavior of propagandist right-wing media outlets such as Fox News is something akin to a chess master analyzing the strategy of Tic-Tac-Toe—simple, and even relaxing. So after watching the antics of Donald Trump during his final debate with Joe Biden, she wrote a piece for The Atlantic on Friday that explains what millions of Americans are still shaking their heads in bewilderment about today: the source—and more importantly, the purpose—of Trump's bizarre accusations about Hunter Biden and his allegedly nefarious dealings with certain obscure individuals.

Of course the direct conduits of this nonsense are what we in the sane world regard as the fever swamps of paranoiac right-wing conspiracy thinking, most visibly manifested on the Fox News channel. As Applebaum notes, the actual storyline, spun out of whole cloth, is purposefully designed to be opaque, leading someone trying to divine the actual facts to become frustrated and give up trying to make sense of them. In fact, as her article's title suggests, "You're not supposed to understand the rumors about Biden."

Because the story is not intended to make sense, but to create a fog of doubt.

Just like the fictional legend these same people wove around "Hillary's emails," the Hunter Biden fiction also concerns emails—these ones allegedly kept by a former business partner of Hunter Biden, and miraculously disclosed to a peripheral former and supposed "investigative journalist" named Matthew Tyrmand. Tyrmand, notably, was formerly (and peripherally) associated with the right-wing fraudster and provocateur James O'Keefe.

That piece of critical information would lead most knowledgeable people to immediately shelve the unfounded Hunter Biden scheme in that mental compartment where bad ideas go to eventually die. But the Fox News audience is by definition anything but "knowledgeable people." On that network, the Hunter Biden nonsense is not something analogous to the disappointingly empty caverns of "Al Capone's vault," but rather an ever-opening flower, chock full of conspiracy-thinking goodness.

In releasing the 26,000 emails, Tyrmand and his collaborator, the Breitbart News contributor Peter Schweizer, are not bringing forth any evidence of actual lawbreaking, or an actual security threat, by either Hunter or Joe Biden. They are instead creating a miasma, an atmosphere, a foggy world in which misdeeds might have taken place, and in which corruption might have happened. They are also providing the raw material from which more elaborate stories can be constructed. The otherwise incomprehensible reference in last night's debate to "the mayor of Moscow's wife," from whom Joe Biden somehow got rich, was an excellent example of how this works. A name surfaces in a large collection of data; it is detached from its context; it is then used to make an insinuation or accusation that cannot be proved; it is then forgotten, unless it gains some traction, in which case it is repeated again.

Applebaum provides some basic background for the uninformed and uninitiated (i.e., normal Americans).

Those who live outside the Fox News bubble and intend to remain there do not, of course, need to learn any of this stuff. Judging by what has been published, the very worst thing that Tyrmand's email cache could reveal (if it is authentic) is that some unattractive people sought to use Hunter Biden's surname and connections to get business deals or score a visit to the White House for their clients. But we already know about Hunter Biden's involvement with unattractive people, and his struggles with addiction; we also know that, under normal circumstances, dozens of people visit the White House every day. On the grand scale of misdeeds committed by politicians and their relatives, this kind of thing barely registers.

Applebaum then helpfully includes a laundry list of Trump's corruption that puts to shame whatever the right hopes to spin out of this email concoction. As readers of Daily Kos, you're more than familiar with these.

But there is a purpose lurking here in the mind of Fox News mogul Rupert Murdoch. The first and most obvious? To assist Trump in deflecting attention—for these final 10 days—from his horrific malfeasance in the face of a pandemic whose vicious resurgence is soon likely to be the sole focus of the nightly newscasts. The second reason is to provide a ready well of sludge to draw upon in the seemingly likely event (as Murdoch himself has acknowledged) that the polls turn out to be correct, and Trump loses the election.

They will continue to serve a function after the election as well. If Biden wins, Foxworld will need some way to keep its audience focused on something other than the Cabinet he appoints, the new legislation he passes, and all the other events, decisions, and changes that used to constitute "news." Instead of all that real-life stuff—laws and regulations, statistics and investigations, debates about the economy and health care—the leading figures of the right-wing conspiracy bubble will, over the next months and years, dip into the email caches to keep their followers focused on an alternate reality in which Joe Biden is a secret oligarch, his son is an important figure in the Chinese mafia, and LOL nothing matters. Just as you need to know the backstories of the stars in the DC Comics universe in order to understand the nuances of a Batman movie, six months from now you might also need to know all about Cooney and Archer and the wife of the mayor of Moscow if you want to understand Ingraham's monologues.

Applebaum, a rapt student of propaganda, knows that outside of hosting the inevitable guest appearances (between court dates) that Donald Trump will insist on during the next four years—assuming he loses—the Fox News yappers need something to talk and talk about, and it certainly isn't going to be Republican policies. So this fictional narrative serves the interests both of Fox News—whose main concern is keeping its soon-to-be demoralized audience content and soporific—and also helps to deflect the inevitable horror stories that will be uncovered by a Democratic-controlled Congress investigating the Trump crime family's vast trail of detritus throughout our government.

By talking about Hunter Biden, the Trump family, especially the Trump children, also hopes to deflect attention from their own greatest weakness, namely the amoral, kleptocratic nepotism that they embody like no family ever before in American history...
[...]
None of them can win using ideas anymore, because they don't have any. All they can do is seek attention: gesticulate, wave their arms in the air, shout at the crowd, invent things, and try to attract the fame and attention they feel they deserve, even though they can no longer explain why they deserve it.

Put simply, assuming Joe Biden wins this election, we should all gear up for four long years of Fox News-inspired fantasy programming.

Of course, there's always the mute button.

Trump expresses all his pent-up contempt for women in two words to NBC's Savannah Guthrie

The takeaway from Trump's self-immolation at his Town Hall on Thursday can be found exactly at the 1:57 mark in the video above, when he sarcastically expresses his contempt for moderator Savannah Guthrie, who has clearly gotten under his skin. He mutters it, underneath his breath, and you could be forgiven for missing it, but for a fleeting second we get a glimpse of all the animosity, all the malice, all the narcissism, all the misogyny and contempt this man feels towards women. You can just hear it in his voice:

"Ha Ha. So cute."

From The Independent:

The president and the Ms Guthrie exchanged barbs during a heated opening to the NBC event.
Mr Trump even sarcastically told the TV host "so cute" when she pressed him to denounce QAnon's wild conspiracy theories.

From the New York Times:

"Why aren't you asking Joe Biden questions about why doesn't he condemn antifa?" Mr. Trump asked her.
"Because you're here," she said, matter-of-factly.
"So cute," Mr. Trump responded, in a condescending tone that was unlikely to endear him to the suburban women voters he has been trying to win back.

x

I think the suburban women will love Trump telling Savannah Guthrie sarcastically that she is "so cute."
— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) October 16, 2020

And one other note; As of 9:55 EST, nearly a half hour after his own town hall ended, Joe Biden is still there, answering voters' questions.

How Donald Trump lost the financial markets — thanks to Mitch McConnell

Donald Trump has a recurring "go to" line which he has trotted out over and over throughout his entire 2020 campaign: that a Biden presidency would tank the financial markets and send millions of 401k's reeling into a Depression. Considering the fact that he'd inherited a booming economy and a rising stock market to match from former president Barack Obama, Trump's claims in this regard never had any basis in reality. The economy under Democratic presidents always outpaces, on balance, those of Republicans, a fact which even Koch-type libertarians will glumly stipulate to.

But Americans have notoriously short memories, and Trump knows that. So explains his fixation on the stock market as the lodestone for whatever ad hoc financial policies his team of radical economic incompetents could dream up, to the point where they actively engaged in ginning up temporary boosts to the markets as a substitute for any coherent fiscal policy. Announcing phony "agreements" with the Chinese government to draw attention away from a wholly disastrous and unnecessary "trade war" he himself instigated was one favored scheme employed by Trump to move the markets higher.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its grotesque mismanagement quickly revealed how rudderless and lacking in any economic logic Trump's stewardship of the economy had been, and Trump quickly relinquished any pretense of formulating policy to the beleaguered Federal Reserve, which responded by immediately using its limited toolbox in cutting interest rates essentially out of existence. Meanwhile, even as tens of millions became suddenly unemployed overnight, while GDP levels precipitously collapsed to levels mirroring the Great Recession of 2008-2009, and while businesses in the retail, travel and hospitality industry shuttered, many for good, the stock market as reflected by the Dow Jones and Nasdaq continued to flourish. With some notably unsettling gyrations, the markets remained relatively stable, creating something Trump clearly had hoped to brag about at Joe Biden's expense.

But markets typically price in the next three to six months of economic activity, and market analysts are perfectly capable of reading political tea leaves. As reported last week by the New York Times, a gradual consensus is emerging on Wall Street that not only is Vice- president Biden highly likely to win the November election, but that the result will be a boost to the financial markets, as opposed to what Trump has been loudly warning about.

As the Times' Matt Phillips reports:

B]eneath the volatility, which reflects investors' reaction to short-term developments, a subtle shift is occurring on Wall Street. Investors and analysts have begun to take into account the possibility that Mr. Trump's time in the White House may soon be over, as Democratic presidential candidate Joseph R. Biden Jr. continues to pull ahead in polls just weeks before the election.

And that is producing some optimism on Wall Street, because many investors believe that the higher Mr. Biden climbs in polls, the lower the chance of a contested presidential election. An election with no clear winner and the fading prospects of another round of stimulus are two of the biggest threats to market stability.

In this regard, Biden's and Democrats' standing with the financial markets has been (perversely) aided by the scorched earth tactics of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has prioritized further damaging an economy he now clearly believes Biden, not Trump, will be handed come January, 2021. McConnell's refusal to negotiate in good faith any fiscal stimulus—even one deemed absolutely essential by both Wall Street and the Fed—has prompted the markets to re-evaluate their misgivings over potentially higher tax rates for the wealthy and stricter government regulation, in light of the boost to the economy a Democratically-passed stimulus promises to provide.

Phillips explains that under the unprecedented stress of current economic conditions, the markets are looking to that stimulus as a lifeline—and they don't care who provides it:

[I]nvestors are of the view that a "blue wave" victory — in which Democrats retain the House of Representatives and retake the Senate as well as the presidency — represents the best chance to get another large injection of federal money into an economy that continues to struggle. Economists and policymakers, including the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, say such assistance is sorely needed, as job growth stalls, layoffs mount and temporary furloughs turn into permanent cuts.

As a result Trump can no longer credibly point to the resilient stock market in support of his own candidacy. The market now believes Trump will lose, and thanks to McConnell, believe that stocks will fare better under a Democratic trifecta in the House, Senate and Presidency. Indeed, as Phillips notes, investors "now see an indisputable win for Mr. Biden and the Democratic Party as the most favorable outcome for the market." So not only are the markets rooting for a Biden and Democratic victory, they are hoping for a blowout, since that will take the any economic uncertainty of a "contested" election out of the picture and ensure that a Democratic House and Senate provide the type of substantial stimulus needed to rejuvenate the American economy.

During this past year, the stock market—whose rewards are not shared by the majority of Americans-- has been strangely and noticeably out of sync with the day-to-day reality being faced by millions. A sweeping Democratic victory on November 3rd now appears likely to serve the interests of everyone—everyone except, perhaps, Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump.

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