The Daily Kos

Jim Gaffigan, comedian who opened for the Pope, breaks silence and goes to town on Trump

Jim Gaffigan is an award-winning, well-regarded, popular comedian. Part of Gaffigan’s appeal is his family-friendly comedy, that he writes and works on with his wife and frequently centers around food and Gaffigan’s obsessions with food. Gaffigan has a large family, which includes five children, leading to my favorite Gaffigan joke: “If you want to know what it’s like to have a fourth, just imagine you’re drowning … and then someone hands you a baby.” Gaffigan is also openly Catholic, and was asked by the Roman Catholic Church to do warmup for the World Meeting of Families back in 2015, when he opened for the Pope—yes, that Pope.

It began innocuously enough.

I wonder what he was referring to? Well, some people felt they knew and clearly began attempting to troll him.

Gaffigan then tried to explain the aversion to Trump as simply as possible.

He tried to point out some of the glaring contradictions in many Trump supporters’ arguments.

He even gave a simple lesson in economics.

Then he went in on Lou Holtz, the former Notre Dame football coach who attacked Biden’s faith.

Gaffigan gave a short and sweet history lesson.

He even worked to bridge the gap between the many regions of our country.

He threw in a class on the political spectrum.

Remember Space Force?

And Gaffigan finally ended his night with this pretty piece.

You can push people only so far.

You can commiserate over at this community story about Gaffigan here.

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Trump says he didn't approve of border wall project, but these key players bragged of his approval

After Steve Bannon’s arrest on Thursday, Donald Trump tried to put a Grand Canyon-sized gap between himself and the “We Build The Wall” border scheme. Bannon, Brian Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shea were indicted on counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The federal indictment says the crew pilfered “hundreds of thousands of dollars” and a Bannon-controlled nonprofit received more than $1 million in funds.

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Georgia officer on desk duty after family films violent arrest of woman on her own porch

A video posted to TikTok on Wednesday shows Gwinnett County, Georgia, police officer Michael Oxford in a verbal and physical altercation with a Black woman on what is reportedly her front porch. The video, recorded on Tuesday, shows 22-year-old Kyndesia Smith and Oxford arguing: Smith says she doesn’t have to go anywhere, and that Oxford is on her property, noting that that “we didn’t call you.”

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Trump thinks his pitch to 'suburban housewives' is a winner. In reality, it's aimed at almost no one

With the coronavirus pandemic roaring unchecked, Donald Trump’s deranged Twitter feed has managed to recede into the background somewhat, but he recently broke through his own self-inflicted clutter when he tweeted, “The Suburban Housewives of America must read this article. Biden will destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream. I will preserve it, and make it even better!”

For starters, there just aren’t a lot of “suburban housewives” left. A large majority of working-age women are, in some shape or form, participants the labor force. In fact, there never was never a huge monolith of “suburban housewives” to begin with, even in the Leave it to Beaver era. Despite perceptions that still linger today, of the 1950s as an idyllic era when one income was adequate to support an entire family, over one-third of all adult women worked outside of the home even in 1950.

But just how big might this demographic be today? Pew Research estimated that in 2016, there were around 11 million stay-at-home parents. At first glance, that might seem like a lot—but that’s only 18% of all of the nation’s parents. If you cast a larger net, it’s even like a smaller share of the population: That 11 million is only 8% of the 2016 electorate (137 million), or 4% of the total adult population (262 million persons 16 or older in 2018).

And on top of that, of those 11 million stay-at-home parents, 17% of them are fathers. So an overall number of stay-at-home mothers would be more like nine million. Presumably, Trump’s pitch to “Suburban Housewives” wasn’t intended to include dads; he probably couldn’t even wrap his head around the idea of being a stay-at-home dad in the first place.

There’s one problem with simply applying those Pew estimates, though: Not all “housewives” are necessarily parents with children at home. They might be the mothers of adult children who have left home, but who haven’t needed to or been able to re-enter the work force. And they might be married women who don’t have children at all but aren't in the labor force for other reasons.

The Census Bureau doesn’t ask about “housewife” status or consider it an occupation, but it estimated that in 2018, there were 26 million women who were 16 or older and were currently married but were not in the labor force. That’s a more generous number, but probably too generous in terms of who might likely think of themselves as “housewives.”

For starters, there are nearly 13 million women over the age of 65. That’s not a clear subtraction problem of 26 million minus 13 million, because some of those 13 million women 65 or older are still in the labor force. But that tends to be an age at which one might stop thinking of oneself as being outside of the labor force by necessity or simply by choice but rather by reason of age (in other words, being a “retiree” rather than “housewife”).

On top of that, you would also probably need to subtract working-age married women who, whether parents or not, aren’t in the labor force because they’re currently enrolled in school; regardless of whether they’re working on GED completion or medical school, they’re unlikely to think of themselves as “housewives.” You would probably also need to subtract working-age married women who might like to be in the work force but currently are not, because of disability.

So, it’s all a very rough calculation, but we can guess that there’s between 9 million (under Pew’s narrow terms) and, say, 12 million women who potentially fall into the “housewife” zone. But that’s only half of Trump’s equation! We would also have to ask, of those 9 to 12 million, how many actually live in the sububs?

Unfortunately, the Census Bureau does not define “suburban,” let alone attempt to count how many suburban Americans there are. But Pew Research estimates that 55% of the U.S. population lives in the suburbs, based on how many respondents to their surveys describe themselves as living in urban, suburban, or rural settings.

more complicated model recently published by the Department of Housing and Urban Development attempts to define “urban,” “suburban,” and “rural” at the census tract-level—one of the most granular geographic units for which the census provides data—based on a mix of survey responses and each tract’s physical characteristics.

Calculations based on this model suggest that 53% of the U.S. population lives in suburbia, very similar to Pew’s estimates. Either way, we can feel confident that slightly more than half of the U.S. population lives in the suburbs. It’s worth considering, though, that married women in suburban and rural areas are disproportionately more likely to not be in the labor force, compared with married women in urban areas, where households tend to be smaller and are home to fewer children.

So if a little over half of those 9 to 12 million “housewives” live in the suburbs, then Trump is making his pitch to an audience of somewhere between four and six million women—this in a country of 328 million. He might think he’s speaking to some huge bloc of the silent majority when actually he’s just microtargeting.

But let’s be honest here: Trump isn’t pitching this message to everyone in that 53% of the nation that lives in the suburbs. It’s a message aimed directly at his white supporters, warning about the invasion of the suburbs by some neighborhood-destroying “other.” That shouldn’t make a difference for our calculations though, if, as Trump seems to believe, the suburbs are nearly all-white.

Except … the suburbs aren’t even close to all-white. It turns out that of the 170 million people who live in suburbia, only 106 million of them are non-Hispanic white. In other words, only 62% of the residents of the suburbs are white, which is remarkably close to the 61% of the country as a whole that’s also white. So we’ll need to shave another 40% off that four to six million women.

And even among this group, how many are persuadable voters? The majority of those two to three million white women—some of whom won’t even be voters—long ago made up their minds about Trump, either for or against. Pew recently found that 93% of the electorate either identifies with or leans toward one of the two parties, leaving only 7% as true independents. Even if you include Pew’s “leaners” as potentially persuadable, more than half the electorate (61%) is firmly in one party’s camp or the other.

So, really, Trump is preaching to an audience of, maybe, somewhere between one million to 1.5 million. Even at the top end of that estimate, that’s just barely 1% of the total 2016 electorate. With turnout likely to be considerably higher this fall, that share in practice will be even smaller.

Finally, for this very narrow slice of America, how many feel so much discomfort with changes in the physical or demographic nature of their neighborhoods that this issue is top of mind? Not only are there more pressing issues that, for most people, are much more salient—you know, like the pandemic and the recession—but if there was a battle over whether the suburbs were going to stay mostly white and conservative, it wrapped up decades ago. In the nation’s large metropolitan areas, the suburbs have become just as diverse as the country as a whole, and for many “suburban housewives,” that’s just an unremarkable given at this point, not a source of controversy or worry.

Just to illustrate that point, here’s a comparison of the demographic makeup of some of the nation’s most iconic Sun Belt suburbs (and one-time Republican strongholds) showing where they were in 1980 versus where they are now. (In particular, Cobb County gave us Newt Gingrich in the 1990s, and Fort Bend County gave us Tom DeLay.)


1% Black

5% Asian

15% Hispanic

41% white

2% Black

20% Asian

34% Hispanic

COBB COUNTY, GA94% white

4% Black

1% Asian

1% Hispanic

53% white

26% Black

5% Asian

13% Hispanic


15% Black

3% Asian

20% Hispanic

34% white

20% Black

19% Asian

24% Hispanic


6% Black

4% Asian

3% Hispanic

52% white

9% Black

19% Asian

16% Hispanic

Trump, McCaughey, and their allies aren’t even fighting a rear-guard action to preserve an archaic culture; they’re more like the holdouts on a remote Pacific island whom nobody bothered to tell the war is already over.

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Voting Rights Roundup: Democratic legislative wins pave the way for voting reforms in Virginia


 Virginia: Democrats flipped both chambers of Virginia's state legislature on Tuesday, a victory made possible in part because  Republicans' state House gerrymander was struck down for discriminating against black voters and replaced with a fairer map earlier this year. Because Democrats already held the governor's office, they've now won full control over state government for the first time in a quarter century which opens the door to a wave of reforms that would make voting easier and protect the right to vote.​


 Albuquerque, NM: In a setback for campaign finance reformers, voters in Albuquerque rejected by a slim 51-49 margin a ballot initiative that would have reformed the city's current public finance system and given every eligible voter "democracy dollar" vouchers in increments of $25 that they could have donated to candidates in city elections. However, voters did approve a measure city lawmakers had put on the ballot to increase the funding that their existing system provides for participating candidates.

 Georgia: Georgia's local elections have raised doubts about the viability of the new voting machines Republican lawmakers are set to implement for 2020 after a pilot run in six counties yielded major problems. In nearly all of the counties, technical problems slowed down the process of  casting ballots for so long enough that some precincts had to extend their polling hours so that voters who were deterred by waits of up to 45 minutes could return and vote.

Making the tests more concerning, none of these counties are in major urban or suburban centers, where 2020 Election Day turnout is expected to be very high. Similar issues could present major problems if these machines are used in the March 2020 primary as planned. However, ongoing litigation seeks to block these new machines and replace them with paper ballots.

 Kansas: Kansas voters approved a constitutional amendment by a 60-40 margin, originally passed almost unanimously by the GOP-run legislature, to change to the state's redistricting process ahead of the 2020 census. The amendment will end Kansas' practice of excluding people who are either deployed on active duty in the military or students living out of state from being counted for the purposes of redistricting. Furthermore, Kansas will no longer reassign active duty military and student residents to their permanent address instead of where they live day-to-day.

 KY-Gov: Democrat Andy Beshear currently leads GOP Gov. Matt Bevin by more than 5,000 votes, and assuming he is sworn-in as scheduled on Dec. 10, he'll be able to keep his campaign promise to restore voting rights to roughly 140,000 citizens who have completed their sentences for nonviolent felonies. However, he would lack the power to block GOP gerrymanders after the 2020 census if Republicans hold their legislative majorities next year, since it only takes a simple majority to override vetoes.

 KY-SoS: Republicans have flipped the secretary of state's office after Michael Adams defeated Democrat Heather French Henry by a relatively close 52-48 margin. Meanwhile, term-limited Democratic incumbent Alison Lundergan Grimes won a victory in her lawsuit over the GOP's new law that removed some of her key powers over the bipartisan state Board of Elections, with the court ruling that the two appointed county clerks must be non-voting members. That leaves only four voting members, namely the four members chosen by the governor from lists submitted by the two major parties.

 Maine: Mainers backed a constitutional amendment that the Democratic-controlled legislature placed on the ballot  with bipartisan support to enable voters with disabilities who can't physically sign ballot initiative petitions to use an alternate method to sign petitions. It passed 76-24.

 Mississippi: Former Democratic state Sen. Joseph Thomas won Mississippi's  22nd State Senate District by a narrow 52-48 margin, defeating Republican Hayes Dent and flipping the seat from red to blue. The district was struck down for diluting black voting power in violation of the Voting Rights Act and was redrawn earlier this year. As a result, the district's increased black majority was finally able to elect its preferred candidate—in this case, a black Democrat like Thomas. However, Republicans are continuing to appeal the ruling.

 New York City, NY: Voters in New York City approved a ballot measure by a 74-26 landslide to adopt instant-runoff voting (also known as ranked-choice voting) for all primaries and special elections for city offices. The move makes  New York by far the largest jurisdiction in the country to adopt this electoral reform.

 San Juan County, UT: Voters in Utah's lone predominantly Navajo county have rejected by a 52-48 margin a ballot initiative that could have led to expanding the size of the County Commission and potentially removing the first-ever Navajo majority that voters elected in 2018.


 Missouri: In 2018, Missouri voters approved a constitutional amendment that created the position of nonpartisan state demographer to draw state legislative districts, and applications for the job are now available online, with a Dec. 4 deadline to apply. Once selected by the state auditor's office, the demographer will draw maps using nonpartisan criteria and a metric to ensure partisan fairness. After those maps are drawn, a commission with an even bipartisan split chosen by lawmakers would get final say over the maps. However, it would take a bipartisan supermajority to amend the lines, and any amendments would have to adhere to the same criteria followed by the demographer

 Nevada: On Monday, the nonpartisan League of Women Voters filed a proposed ballot initiative that would create a bipartisan redistricting commission in the state of Nevada, but it has a ways to go before it could take effect.

Importantly, there's no way it could prevent Nevada Democrats from passing gerrymandered maps ahead of the 2022 elections if they so choose. That's because Nevada requires initiatives to pass in two consecutive elections before they can amend the constitution, so this proposal couldn't enact new districts until the 2024 elections if it becomes law.

The proposal bills itself as establishing an independent commission, but in reality it would set up a bipartisan panel with members chosen by political officeholders. Each of the four majority and minority leaders in the state Senate and state House would appoint one member, and those four members would appoint the final three members, who would belong to neither party. For four years prior to service, commissioners could not have been a lobbyist, a candidate for partisan office or a partisan elected official, a party committee member or operative, a state employee for a number of different positions, or a close relative of someone who is ineligible.

The proposal ranks redistricting criteria in order of importance, prioritizing compliance with federal law; prohibiting discrimination against racial or language minorities; barring an undue advantage for either party; keeping local government units united; avoiding the division of communities of interest; compactness; and competition.

However, this initiative has serious flaws compared to other successful reform efforts that passed elsewhere this decade. First, it still leaves appointees of legislative leaders in charge of the process, creating an obvious conflict of interest compared to commissions where ordinary citizens serve without being handpicked by politicians. The criteria also don't ban the protection of incumbents, further exacerbating this conflict of interest, and the only enforcement mechanism is unspecified "judicial review."

Second, the amendment's text is insufficiently detailed at less than two full pages long, and that vagueness could present serious problems for implementation and guaranteeing that the maps produced are fair. Although it would take a supermajority of five of seven commissioners to pass a map, including at least one member from each party grouping, there is no provision describing what happens if they fail to pass any map.

The amendment is vague in other ways as well.. There is no provision for the replacement of any commissioner if necessary; there is nothing more than just a general requirement for public hearings; the commission is left to set its own administrative rules; and there's no mention of any funding mechanism independent of the legislature's budgetary discretion.

Redistricting reformers have no need to make concessions to hostile lawmakers since they can circumvent them with a ballot initiative, making Nevada is a prime state for a truly independent redistricting commission backed up by a clear and strong set of procedures.. This initiative's supporters should reconsider their current proposal before trying to pass a reform that could end up unable to stop unfair maps and risks giving way to bipartisan gerrymandering to favor incumbents of both parties.

 North Carolina: With virtually no public notice, North Carolina's Republican-controlled legislature held committee meetings this week to begin redrawing the state's congressional maps, and they could be passed into law as soon as the end of next week.

The circumstances of this redistricting are unusual: Last month a state court blocked officials using the current map as the Dec. 2 candidate filing deadline approaches for the March 2020 primary elections, but the court has not yet struck down the map because the case must still proceed to final adjudication. . As a consequence, the court did not order legislators to redraw the map but instead strongly suggested they undertake redistricting voluntarily, though it did not set any guidelines or criteria to govern the process.

Republicans heeded this advice quickly and have been drawing draft maps on state computers that are being broadcast online for public viewing, but they are not engaging in a good-faith effort to draw fair districts for the first time this decade. Key GOP lawmakers have been repeatedly leaving the committee room and coming back several minutes later only to draw very specific changes to the maps, almost certainly because they are  consulting with an unknown person behind the scenes who has analyzed the lines for partisan advantage.

Although the court hasn't issued any criteria, when this same lower court panel struck down the GOP's legislative gerrymanders and ordered them to be redrawn in September, it barred legislators from considering any partisan data for drawing new maps. The GOP's antics could therefore be fodder for the plaintiffs challenging the congressional map..

Daily Kos Elections has also analyzed some of the maps Republicans have drafted and calculated their partisans characteristics to determine if they give the GOP an undue advantage. We've concluded that GOP's draft maps maintain distinct elements of the  gerrymandered districts that got blocked last month.

Republicans are likely to pass sometime next week, and doing so could render the current lawsuit moot. However, the plaintiffs could still file new litigation over any replacement map, though the key question remaining is whether this legal battle will conclude in time for a new map to be implemented next year.

Separately, a state judge has unsealed tens of thousands of documents from the GOP's national gerrymandering mastermind, the late Thomas Hofeller, meaning they are no longer barred from public disclosure. These files, which opponents of Republican gerrymandering obtained from Hofeller's daughter, Stephanie Hofeller, after his death, contain a mountain of evidence of the GOP's efforts to subvert fair elections across the country.

These files played a key role both in North Carolina's 2019 redistricting cases and the successful effort to block Trump's census citizenship question. Once they fully become public, they're likely to shed light on GOP gerrymandering efforts in other states and possibly lead to additional successful lawsuits.


 North Carolina: Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has signed a bill that the Republican-run legislature passed almost unanimously to restore the last Saturday of early voting. The legislation also changes absentee ballot procedures following last year's Republican election fraud scandal in the 9th Congressional District, which we have previously explained.


 Georgia: On Wednesday, Democrats filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block Georgia from rejecting absentee ballots without notifying voters and giving them a chance to correct any problems, such as their signature supposedly not matching the one on file. Absentee ballot procedures vary by county, which led to some counties having much higher rejection rates than others in 2018, when 3% of all absentee votes were rejected.

Current law does require officials to "promptly notify" voters of potential signature problems, but that failed to happen for some 2018 voters who cast ballots close to Election Day. The plaintiffs are asking that officials be required to notify voters of signatures problem within one day of receiving their ballots. That will ensure that those who cast them close to Election Day will be notified of the problem in a timely manner before the deadline to fix them, which is three days after Election Day.

 New Hampshire: State court Judge David Anderson has ruled that part of a lawsuit backed by the nonpartisan League of Women Voters challenging Republicans' 2017 voter residency restriction law may proceed to trial in December. Republicans passed this law to require voters who register within 30 days of an election to show additional documentation that they live day-to-day at the residence they claim as their “domicile" and intend to do so long-term.

Voters who lack suitable documentation will be able to cast provisional ballots, but they’d still have to provide documents proving their residency meets the state’s new requirements at a later date. If they don’t, this new law empowers state election officials to visit their homes and refer them to the secretary of state’s office for potential investigation, which many voters might find intimidating.

Anderson dismissed some of the plaintiffs' claims, specifically their argument that the law was unconstitutionally vague and violated the state constitution's use of "domicile" for voting eligibility. However, he kept alive other claims arguing  that the law violates the state constitution's equal protections and right-to-vote provisions.

Republicans passed to this law to make it more difficult for Democratic-leaning demographics to exercise their right to cast a ballot, like college students and young adults who are more likely to move frequently.  A separate law passed in 2018 targets out-of-state college students with poll tax by requiring them to obtain official residency in the state, which requires paying for things like a state driver's license and car registration. A federal lawsuit over that piece of legislation is scheduled for trial in January.

 North Carolina: Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed a bill Republicans passed to use jury duty excuse records to remove supposed noncitizens from the voter registration rolls. Previous reporting from local NBC affiliate WRAL indicates that such a program could have risked removing eligible voters thanks to widespread false matches. Since almost no Democrats voted for the bill, Republicans lack the votes to override Cooper's veto.

 Ohio: A federal court has granted a temporary restraining blocking an Ohio law that imposes a tighter emergency absentee ballot deadline on prison inmates who are awaiting trial—and therefore still have the right to vote— compared to voters who are hospitalized. The ruling means that inmates will have until 3 PM on Election Day to turn over their ballots rather than the prior Saturday. Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose's office said it has not decided whether it will appeal.

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Stunning: A quarter of the West Antarctic ice sheet is now in a state of rapid 'dynamical imbalance'

We can see clearly now that a wave of thinning has spread rapidly across some of Antarctica’s most vulnerable glaciers, and their losses are driving up sea levels around the planet.” Andrew Shepherd, Lead author, and CPOM Director Professor

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A chance to oust this non-progressive 'Democrat' in a blue district is on the horizon

Few “Democratic” House members disappoint me more than Georgia Congressman David Scott. Compromising on certain positions is one thing if you are in a solidly red district, but he represents the majority-minority 13th District, which includes portions of Cobb, Douglas, Fulton, Fayette, Clayton and Henry counties. This is about as solid blue as you can get. The district went for Obama with almost 70% of the vote, and went larger for Hillary Clinton with a lopsided 71-26 margin.

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Watch: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez torches Trump's racist immigration policy in rebuttal on MSNBC's Maddow

Shortly after Trump launched a lie-filled white nationalist Oval Office screed that was needlessly broadcasted on national TV last night, newly-elected Congresswoman and progressive sensation Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) laid out some hard truths about immigration in America and Trump’s cruel and racist immigration policies on MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show.

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Metallica's 'not-so-secret' charity gives community colleges $1 million for 'heavy metal' trades

Almost 40 years after its founding, Metallica is undeniably one of the most successful bands of all time, and their previously-secret philanthropy has long matched their decades upon decades of commercial success and critical acclaim. Launched in February 2017, the metal band’s All Within My Hands Foundation “is dedicated to creating sustainable communities by supporting workforce education, the fight against hunger, and other critical local services.”

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Republican Murkowski Announces She Will Vote ‘No’ on Kavanaugh Confirmation - Putting Confirmation in Jeopardy

Rich text editor, edit-body-und-0-value, press ALT 0 for help.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has announced that he will vote yes on the final passage vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, "unless something big changes and he doesn't see what would change. Says was a hard decision for everybody." It shouldn't be a hard decision, having watched Kavanaugh melt down in a bitterly partisan, rage-filled tirade in front of the Judiciary Committee last week. Contrast with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who voted no. "I believe Brett Kavanaugh is a good man," saysMurkowski. "In my view he's not the right man for the court at this time." That's splitting the baby—he's a good man but not for the court—but what a principled Republican should say.

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Y'all Realize that Donnie Just Gutted His Alt-Right Base, Right?

I think is going to be rather busy this weekend.

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Sad! O'Reilly's Show Abruptly Ended 15 Minutes Early Last Night - Advertisers Continue to Flee

Bill O’Reilly is in trouble. Bigly. After the New York Times revealed the Fox News star and the network have at least five sexual harassment lawsuits in the last decade, advertisers began to flee his show. Mercedes-Benz was the first to jump and within hours, the floodgates were open. During last night’s show, only a handful of advertisements were featured and several of the remaining companies, like Next Day Blings, are trying to get out as soon as possible:

Fox News and its star host Bill O'Reilly appear to have developed a strategy in response to allegations of serial sexual harassment and the mass defections of advertisers from O'Reilly's program: Say as little as possible.

The voluble TV personality has said nothing on the air about the controversy since it broke over the weekend. Fox News has all but ignored any reporting about it in its broadcasts and on its website; its one acknowledgment was a 25-second summary on its "Media Buzz" program on Sunday. It has not mentioned the advertiser reaction.

In case you are wondering, one of the only companies announcing they’ll stick by O’Reilly is Angie’s List. A company founded by a woman. Their statement is below:

It isn’t hard to imagine Bill O’Reilly is quietly freaking out behind the scenes, just like the good ol’ days. Play us out, Bill-O:

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They Had Sean Spicer Pegged Back in College

I missed this story when it came out last month, but it's worth offering again for the laughs.

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The Biggest Reason House Republicans Won't Stand Up to Trump

From the moment Donald Trump secured the 2016 presidential nomination, throughout his Access Hollywood sexual-assault tape scandal, and even right up until today, Republican elected officials have overwhelmingly given him their full backing. There’s one incredibly important reason for why so many House Republicans in particular continue to stand by him: He carried the vast majority of the districts they represent by a very wide margin.

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Trump Reportedly Screamed at CIA Director Pompeo Over Intel being Withheld

Well he may call the media “Fake” and an “Enemy of the American people” but he apparently can’t stop himself from watching and reading it incessantly, particularly when he’s the subject.

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How Trump Is Making America Meaner

How the poisonous nature of Donald Trump’s candidacy has trickled down to our schools and warped the minds of a younger generation is the subject of this column, “Donald Trump Is Making America Meaner” by The New York Times’  columnist Nicholas Kristof.  Kristof highlights how someone given a national platform can alter the nation’s fabric for the worse simply by setting an example of bigotry and intolerance.

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A Message to Republicans: Millions of Americans Won't Forget How You Treated Their Mom and Dad

Congressman Luis Gutierrez dropped a simple fact during the House Judiciary Committee a couple of days ago. While republicans denounced the President's executive action on immigration reform and tried to pretend that they are not holding the Department of Homeland Security hostage, Mr. Gutierrez had this to say:

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How Often Are Unarmed Black Men Shot Down By Police?

We stand today, two weeks after the shooting death of unarmed John Crawford, a week and a half after the police shooting death of unarmed Michael Brown, about a week after the shooting death of Ezell Ford in Los Angeles, in the wake of the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York, years after the shooting death of unarmed Sean Bell and Amadour Diallo in New York, years now after the shooting death of unarmed and handcuffed Oscar Grant in Oakland, years after the shooting death of unarmed Kendrec McDade in Pasadena, a decade after the asphyxiation of unarmed Johnny Gammage in Pittsburgh, more decades after the chokehold police murder of Ron Settles in Signal Hill, the police shooting of Eula Love over a $22 water bill payment in 1979, and so many others.


If we want to know how many justifiable homicides occur by police or private citizens we can get those numbers easily:

Year     Police      Citizen
2007   398       252   
2008   378       265
2009   414       266
2010   397       285
2011   393       260
2012   409       330

But if we want to know how many law enforcement shootings are "unjustified," we get no answer from the FBI. 

One source, in a report called "Operation Ghetto Storm" says that of the 739 "Justified" shootings shown above from 2012, 313 of them were black people.  44% of them or 136, were unarmed. 27% (83) were claimed by law enforcement to have a weapon at the time of the shooting, but that could not be later confirmed or the "gun" was a toy or other non-lethal object. 20% of them (62) were confirmed to have been armed with a gun, knife or cutting tool.

This report, which was gathered by searching media reports, obituaries and even Facebook pages includes the following table as an example.


91% of the people killed by police in Chicago in 2012 were black. 87% in New York. 100% in Saginaw and Rockford. 

The report goes on to say that 47% of these killings (146 cases) occurred not because the person brandished a weapon (as noted above less then 30% of them had a weapon, or were thought to have a weapon). It wass because the officer or citizen "felt threatened." In only 8% (25 cases) did the suspect fire or discharge a weapon that wounded or killed police or others while officers were on the scene.

Only eight officers were charged with murder, manslaughter or use of excessive force in these cases.

Is this report comprehensive? Is it fully accurate? It's gone through several revisions and updates as none of the data is being officially compiled anywhere and some things can be missed that way.

Some in the media have attempted to divine the answer on their own. 

This summer ColorLines and the Chicago Reporter conducted a joint national investigation of fatal police shootings in America’s 10 largest cities, each of which had more than 1 million people in 2000. Several striking findings emerged.

To begin, African Americans were overrepresented among police shooting victims in every city the publications investigated.

The contrast was particularly noticeable in New York, San Diego and Las Vegas. In each of these cities, the percentage of black people killed by police was at least double that of their share of the city’s total population.

This report analyzed the data from the 10 largest cities and every city had double the number of black shooting victims than their proportion in the population. And it's not just happening to black people.
Starting in 2001, the number of incidents in which Latinos were killed by police in cities with more than 250,000 people rose four consecutive years, from 19 in 2001 to 26 in 2005. The problem was exceptionally acute in Phoenix, which had the highest number of Latinos killed in the country.

Despite these persistent problems of disproportionate police force in communities of color, a disturbing lack of accountability plagues several of the cities examined.

In Chicago, for example, an examination of media accounts shows that only one shooting out of the 84 fatal police shootings occurred since 2000 has been found unjustified. Monique Bond, spokeswoman at the Chicago Police Department, said that more than one shooting had been determined to have been outside department guidelines, but could not provide specific numbers.

But it's not all bad news.
After five consecutive years of more than 200 reported incidents of fatal police shootings in cities with more than 250,000 people during the early 1990s, the numbers for these cities fell during most of the decade, dropping as low as 138 in 1999 before resuming a general upward climb to 170 in 2003. These figures may be low due to underreporting by some departments to the federal government.

Washington, D.C., which had the nation’s highest rate of police shootings during the 1990s, has cut the rate of shootings dramatically through a combination of training and accountability. Others point to a small but growing number of police departments like Los Angeles and Portland, Ore. that are looking not so much at whether the shootings are justified or not, but about the decisions police and supervisors took that led up to the shootings.

There is also some information available from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (pdf).
The most common reason for contact with police in 2008 was being a driver in a traffic stop (44.1%)

Black drivers were about three times as likely as white drivers and about two times as likely as Hispanic drivers to be searched during a traffic stop.

White New Yorkers make up a small minority of stop-and-frisks, which were 84 percent black and Latino residents. Despite this much higher number of minorities deemed suspicious by police, the likelihood that stopping an African American would find a weapon was half the likelihood of finding one on a white person.

So why then, are they doing it? If stopping twice the number of blacks only generates half the guns or drugs, why does it happen?


The table shows that the percentage of blacks who are arrested during traffic stops is twice (4.7% to 2.4%) as high as white drivers. And similarly their likelihood of being ticketed is greater (58% to 53%)—although Latinos top them both at 62%—and their likelihood of receiving a written warning (14.8% to 17.7%) or a verbal warning (6.0% to 11.2%) is consistently lower.

A similar differential can be seen when it comes to officer uses of force against persons of different races and ages.


From 2002 through 2008, black citizens encountering police received threats of force, or use of force at least three times more often than white citizens. Latinos were threatened with force, or had force used on them about twice as often.

If we are to use the example provided by Chicago as a rough guide, about 95% of these instances are deemed "Justified" by the police but that's not how the citizens feel about it.

Among persons who had contact with police in 2008, an estimated 1.4% had force used or threatened against them during their most recent contact, which was not statistically different from the percentages in 2002 (1.5%) and 2005 (1.6%).

A majority of the people who had force used or threatened against them said they felt it was excessive

When it comes to that majority who felt that force used against them was "excessive," would it be accurate to say that black people— who as shown above received about three times the threats and uses of force against them—don't complain too much about it?


Nope, not so much.

The highest complaint level is Latinos at 78%, then whites at 72% and blacks are dead last, only complaining about use of excessive force 70% of the time. This may be because they feel their complaints fall on deaf ears. I also find it interesting, as noted by, that the issue that has brought the subject up—excessive use of deadly force— isn't even included in the BJS report.


If the use of kicking, punching, tasering and pointing guns at citizens is felt to be excessive an average of 74% of the time—and is three times higher for black people—just what would the percentages of unjustified, excessive uses ofdeadly force really be like if we had those numbers?

Could it be as high as 80%? 90%?

Just how bad it it? With all this number-crunching provided by the BJS and police departments and the FBI, we still don't have that one strategic figure.

I don't think that's a coincidence.

That's why we have people marching in the streets in Ferguson and Los Angeles and New York this week. People are marching for the truth, for justice.

Maybe we should start to solve the problem by defining and quantifying the problem. Then we can measure if things are getting better, or if they're getting worse, if we're going the right direction or the wrong way. Body cams or not, if we don't have raw data, we don't really know what's going on, do we? 

But I think we now have a clue, and it doesn't look good.

Originally posted to Truth2Power on Sun Aug 24, 2014 at 09:26 AM PDT.

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