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Tag Archives: History

The Chumph Criminal Cartel – “The fish rots from the head”

The number of Chumph appointees and staffers now either indicted, going to be indicted, accused, and under investigation has reached historic proportions.

The Chumph and his acolytes are criminals.

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“The fish rots from the head”: a historian on the unique corruption of Trump’s White House

“Politicians lie, but this is different.” 

“Politicians lie, but this is different,” says a historian who studies presidential history and estimates the Trump administration easily ranks among the most corrupt in American history.

Robert Dallek is a presidential historian and the author of several books, including his latest about FDR titled Franklin Roosevelt: A Political Life. Writing recently for the Guardian, Dallek lamented the “disaster” that is the Trump presidency but also reminded readers that American democracy is surprisingly resilient and has survived far worse.

Despite Trump’s promises to “drain the swamp,” the first year of his administration has been plagued by resignationsinvestigations, and scandals. Dallek estimates that historical examples of corruption, like that of the Warren G. Harding administration, don’t hold a candle to how Trump and his people have conducted themselves in the White House.

History will judge Trump, and it will not be kind.

I spoke with Dallek about the history of corruption in American presidential politics and why he sees the Trump administration as “a low point in our history.” What makes Trump exceptionally dangerous, Dallek argues, is how effortlessly he lies and what kind of tone he has set in this White House.

“The fish rots from the head,” he told me, “and the stench of this administration starts at the very top.”

Our conversation, lightly edited for clarity, appears below.

Sean Illing

You’ve studied a lot of presidents and White Houses. Is the corruption and the lying in this administration unique in your mind?

Robert Dallek

This administration is a low point in our history. We’ve been through scandals before, going as far back as the Grant administration in the 19th century and the Harding administration in the early 20th century. Presidents have been accused of bribery and shady gift-giving. So it’s not entirely unique to see scandals subsume a White House.

But the shamelessness of this administration, the dishonesty, the total indifference to facts, is something I haven’t seen before — at least not this blatant. I think it’s demoralized people and made them even more cynical about politics.

Sean Illing

Is this the most dishonest administration you’ve ever seen or studied?

Robert Dallek

The short answer is yes. Politicians lie, but this is different. I suppose if you wanted to be generous, you might say this is the least effective and trustworthy administration since Warren G. Harding, whose administration was overwhelmed by the Teapot Dome scandal in 1921, in which Harding’s secretary of the interior leased Navy petroleum reserves in Wyoming and California to private oil companies at incredibly low rates without a competitive bidding process. That was a massive scandal, one of the biggest we’ve seen at the level of politics.

There are other examples, of course. Most obviously, there’s Nixon and Watergate, which was a watershed moment in American political history. Ulysses S. Grant’s reputation as a Civil War general was shattered by the Whiskey Ring scandal in 1875, in which Treasury officials basically stole tax dollars from alcohol distillers. Other presidents, like Bill Clinton, have lied shamelessly as well.

Still, I think what we’re seeing right now will, eventually, rise above these examples, with the possible exception of Watergate. But a lot of this depends on the outcome of the Russia investigation. If it goes the way it appears to be going, it will exceed even Watergate.

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Sean Illing

Do administrations tend to pay a political price when they deceive and overstep in this way?

Robert Dallek

Typically they do. Look at Trump’s numbers right now. For a president in the first year of his term to have never achieved 50 percent approval rating is something of a political disaster. I mean, Franklin Roosevelt never saw his approval rating dip below 50 percent during his 12-year presidency. Truman’s popularity slipped to 32 percent near the end of this administration due to the stalemate in Korea. Nixon’s support collapsed and went down to 25 percent during Watergate.

But Trump has been historically unpopular since the day he took office, in part because of how dishonestly he conducted himself during the campaign. What we’re seeing now is very ugly and, I think, very corrupting to our political system.

Sean Illing

How so?

Robert Dallek

Well, our system depends upon something like a consensus, something like majority rule. But now we have a president who outright lies about … everything. He lies about the number of votes he received, about the size of his inauguration crowd, about his own achievements, about Muslims cheering in the streets after 9/11, and so on. He lies about basic observable facts.

I think the cumulative effect of all this lying is to make people deeply cynical about our entire system, and that’s very corrupting.

Sean Illing

What, exactly, is so unique about this administration in terms of the corruption and the graft?

Robert Dallek

Obviously the examples of corruption are numerous: Trump refused to divest from his business interests; there are questions about whether he’s violating the emoluments clause by running Trump International Hotel in DC; there’s the indictment of his former campaign manager Paul Manafort; there’s the looming indictment of his former national security adviser Michael FlynnJared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, failed to disclose $1 billion in loans connected to his real estate company; and of course several of his Cabinet heads are being investigated for profligate travel expenses.

But here’s what I think is unique: Often you see a lot of corruption result from a lack of oversight, but I think this administration is quite different in that Trump really sets the tone for all this. He encourages it, really. The fish rots from the head, and the stench of this administration starts at the very top.

Sean Illing

In what ways does he set the tone?

Robert Dallek

Trump is the head of government, and people know they can get away with things. Look at all the incidents of corruption I just laid out, and that’s not even close to a complete list. Like Nixon, Trump has created a culture in his administration in which people feel comfortable with corruption. Trump himself has shown a complete indifference to democratic norms, to rule of law, and that sends a pretty clear signal to the people beneath him.

Again, Trump’s lying is a big facilitator of all this corruption. This is a guy who will look right into the camera and lie without any hesitation at all. It’s hard to overstate what kind of tone that sets in an administration; it makes everyone more comfortable when they lie, when they deceive, when they cover things up…

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Fats Domino – February 26, 1928 – October 24, 2017

One of the true pioneers of R&R. Fats was New Orleans, lived there, and was symbolic of the emergence of Southern R&B. Remember seeing him perform after Katrina, as he lived in the same house in NOLA. He was heartbroken. He was an institution in the City, and I hope they give him a real NOLA Homecoming!

Fats Domino, Architect Of Rock And Roll, Dead At 89

Fats in 1967

Fats Domino, one of the architects of rock ‘n’ roll, died yesterday at 89 years old at his daughter’s suburban New Orleans home. Haydee Ellis, a family friend, confirmed the news to NPR. Mark Bone, chief investigator for the Jefferson Parish Coroner’s office, tells NPR Domino died of natural causes.

In the 1940s, Antoine Domino, Jr. was working at a mattress factory in New Orleans and playing piano at night. Both his waistline and his fanbase were expanding. That’s when a bandleader began calling him “Fats.” From there, it was a cakewalk to his first million-selling record — “The Fat Man.” It was Domino’s first release for Imperial Records, which signed him right off the bandstand.

Producer, songwriter, arranger and bandleader Dave Bartholomew was there. He described the scene in a 1981 interview now housed at the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University. “Fats was rocking the joint,” Bartholomew said. “And he was sweating and playing, he’d put his whole heart and soul in what he was going, and the people was crazy about him — so that was it. We made our first record, ‘The Fat Man,’ and we never turned around.”

Between 1950 and 1963, Fats Domino hit the R&B charts a reported 59 times, and the pop charts a rollicking 63 times. He outsold Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly — combined. Only Elvis Presley moved more records during that stretch, but Presley cited Domino as the early master.

So how did a black man with a fourth-grade education in the Jim-Crow South, the child of Haitian Creole plantation workers and the grandson of a slave, sell more than 65 million records?

Domino could “wah-wah-waaaaah” and “woo-hooo!” like nobody else in the whole wide world — and he made piano triplets ubiquitous in rock ‘n’ roll. “Blueberry Hill,” for example, was not Domino’s own song — it was first published in 1940 and had already been recorded by the likes Glenn Miller, Gene Autry and Louis Armstrong — but Domino’s version in 1956, complete with those right-hand triplets, was unforgettable.

Jon Cleary is a piano player who has devoted most of his life to the New Orleans sound. “The triplets thing,” he says, “that was one of the building blocks of New Orleans R&B. And that’s really the famous Fats Domino groove. Everybody knows that.”

And then there was Dave Bartholomew. He and engineer Cosimo Matassa perfected a rhythm-heavy sound in Matassa’s studio that was the envy of rock ‘n’ roll. “Blueberry Hill” may have been Domino’s biggest hit, but Bartholomew wrote Domino’s favorite: “Blue Monday.”

“Blue Monday” had other levels of meaning in Domino’s career. In the 1950s, the birth of rock ‘n’ roll was hard labor. Social critics called the music vulgar. Jim Crow laws segregated Domino’s audiences, sometimes with only a rope. And the combination of racial tension and teenage hormones at concerts proved violent: bottle throwing, tear gas, stabbings and arrests.

Fats Domino’s biographer, Rick Coleman, says that there was a real disjunction between that era and the work that Domino was producing. “It was not an easy time period, even though the music was beautiful and joyful,” he observes. “It was a hard birth.”

By 1960, Domino’s audience was overwhelmingly white. In South Carolina, the Ku Klux Klan gave his band directions — by the light of a burning cross. The late saxophone player Herbert Hardesty was driving the Domino bus on that occasion.

“So I had to make it tight,” Hardesty recounted. “In about five minutes, I came to Ku Klux Klan. They said, ‘Well, where’s Fats Domino?’ I said, ‘He’s not here.’ They said, ‘What are you guys doing?’ I said, ‘I’m lost, I’m trying to get back to the highway.’ And they were very nice — the Ku Klux Klan treated us very nice!”

The British Invasion sent nearly every American performer tumbling down the charts. And yet longtime confidante Haydee Ellis says that Domino wouldn’t change a note. “He said, ‘When I play,” she explains, “‘I want the people to hear exactly what they’re used to hearing on the record.’ And eventually, that was one of the things that made him reluctant to play, let’s say. He was afraid that he would, you know, mess up a word or whatever.”

Domino toured for many years, but eventually settled into life at his compound in the Lower Ninth Ward, cooking loads of hog’s headcheese for his many friends. Then came Hurricane Katrina — and everybody thought Fats was dead.

“When Katrina came,” Ellis gasps, “Oh, Lord! Fats would say he wanted to leave, but he said, ‘What kind of man would I be if I left my family? They don’t want to leave.'”

The family survived. Domino lived out the post-Katrina years in a suburb of New Orleans with one of his eight children. But his house still stands on Caffin Avenue, in the Lower Ninth Ward, and has been restored in recent years. It’s a reminder of the greatness that the neighborhood once produced, of the golden age of New Orleans music — and of what a fat man can do.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2017 in Music, From Way Back When to Now

 

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The Fact That Vikings Weren’t Racist A*holes Causes Froghead Meltdown

White racist groups have long ago adopted Vikings as their image of pure white warriors. They have adopted Viking Imagery, runes, and even clothing to represent  a white warrior culture to boost their wee manhood.

Those of us who have studied history know that besides being pirates and raiders, Viking ships travelled to trade well into the Mediterranean and contacted Arab an Muslim countries in both the Middle East, southern Europe, and North Africa. Vikings worked for Arabs as mercenaries, Vikings very seldom raided Muslim cities, because the Muslim country’s navies were far more powerful.

We know that from trade goods and relics discovered by Archaeologists both studying the Vikings as well as civilizations along the Med. We know all of this because of historical accounts written in the 9th through 12 centuries.

 

Ring with Arabic inscription found in 9th Century Viking woman’s grave

Indeed the Vikings and Arabs traded with each other via an overland route through what is now Russia, as well as the sea route for at least 3 centuries. Cultural and religious absorption at that level of contact would have been normal.

Now all they need to do is to find some black Vikings!

White supremacists fly into white-hot rage at news some Vikings may have been Muslim

On Friday, word of an Uppsala University study suggesting that some ancient Vikings were Muslim converts went rocketing around the Internet and hit Twitter like a bomb.

Uppsala researchers found Vikings buried in Sweden with cloth inscribed with the word “Allah,” the Muslim word for “God,” suggesting that as they roamed the world, Vikings encountered adherents to Islam and perhaps some of them converted.

Vikings are one of white supremacists’ most favorite things, embodying the “racial purity” and ferocity in war that thousands of 4chan keyboard warriors aspire to. Nazi websites like The Daily Stormer regularly truck in Viking imagery and Norse myth when appealing to disaffected whites, so the news that some Vikings could be Muslim was bound to hit some racists pretty hard.

Indeed, reactions on Twitter broke down into two categories, gleefully cackling liberals and dubious, skeptical people with “Deplorable” in their screen name or tiny U.S. flags next to their avatars.

The conservative consensus on the news was that Vikings might have plundered some Muslim fabrics to take back home, but that Vikings would never, ever, ever worship those brown people’s God, what are you thinking?

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2017 in The Definition of Racism, The Post-Racial Life

 

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Rep. John Lewis on Trump Racism

Lewis lays it out as clear as a bell here.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe marching  in the streets and singing “We Shall Overcome” is going to do much this time around. We need to find much more direct ways to resist. Whether economic, or breaking the established systems through non-cooperation there needs to be a hard stop. I am certainly not advocating bomb throwing (yet) – but if Counselor Mueller fails to take this Piece of Shit out, or Congress politically refuses to react to the evidence…

Then it may well come to that.

 

 

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These confederate Monuments

Turns out, the State with the most confederate Memorials is my home State, Virginia. Some of the Historical reasons is tha a good part of the Civil War was fought here, a number of the key military Generals (Lee, Jackson, Stuart) were Virginians, and the fact that Richmond was the Capital of the confederacy. The descendants of those families still live here.There has been a push to remove the Monuments or rename buildings and roads named after them through the years – but the connection to Virginia born people tends to moderate the responses from both sides. At least it did until Charlottesville where a bunch of outsiders came in in their Nazi gear to wreak havoc.

One of those dots on the map is near where I live, and I have seen the monument. It is to the local soldiers who died in the “War Between the States”. The fact that they all fought as confederates, well…Is what it is.The family names of those guys live on today as part of the local population. Hard for me, at least, to work up any ire over this. Let it be.

The State was as segregated under Jim Crow as any in the South. Let it be. You can get a confederate license  plate in Virginia by joining the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Let it be.

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There is a historical context in Virginia because that is where a large part of the war was, and that was where these folks fought. There simply is no relevance to a Lee, Jackson, or Stuart statue in any state other than Virginia, Maryland (Antietam), and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania where they fought. In Virginia at several of the Battlefields there are still bullets, cannonballs, and bones lightly buried in the battlefields where they fought.So this is part of our living history.

So I am not sure all of these need to come down – and support moving some to historically significant places. You want to move those confederate generals from Monument Avenue in Richmond to the Battlefields at Bull Run, Manassas, Fredericksburg, or Cold Harbor…I won’t object at all.

So what I am arguing here is a common-sense approach…Although I still never expect to see a statue of Sherman in Georgia.

Virginia’s 204 confederate Monuments and Memorials

Symbols of the Confederacy still dot the South

Highest density

Virginia, the birthplace of Robert E. Lee, is home to more than 220 Confederate symbols, including three military bases named for Confederate war heroes. Texas and Georgia have the second- and third-most symbols, at 178 and 163, respectively.

confederate Monuments in the US

Schools

109 public schools are named for Confederate icons, including Gens. Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson and J.E.B. Stuart, and the president of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis. Of these schools, nearly 25 percent have a student body that is primarily black, while almost a tenth of the schools have a student body that is more than 90 percent black.

Monuments and statues

Of the more than 700 statues and monuments, more than 25 percent are located in Virginia and Georgia alone. Texas, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi combined make up an additional 30 percent. Nearly 77 percent were built or dedicated before 1950, while 6 percent were built or rededicated during the era of the civil rights movement. Four percent were built or rededicated after the year 2000.

Roads, highways and bridges

From General Lee Avenue in Brooklyn, New York, to Jefferson Davis Highway in San Diego, California, nearly 500 roads, highways and bridges memorialize the Confederacy.

Counties and cities

There are 80 counties and cities named for Confederates, including Fort Davis, Texas, and Lee County, North Carolina, among others.

 
 

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By Any Means Necessary…Take ’em Down

Cities and municipalities have tried to reach some common ground on the removal of confederate statues from public spaces – by allowing them on private ground.

That, as we saw in Charlottesville isn’t working out.

So… Cut to the chase. Take them down permanently with a sledgehammer or wrecking ball.

 

 

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“A Better Deal”… For Whom?

Centrist Democrats keep cutting off the Progressive side of their Party, and then whimpering when they lose. As if becoming white-right lite is going to make them competitive in a race where they have lost their key majorities.

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2017 in Stupid Democrat Tricks

 

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