Tag Archives: History

Colin Powell on Trolling Republicans

Powell went to work for George W. Bush due to loyalty to his father. That was catastrophic, not only for Powell’s reputation, but the entire country because of Dick Cheney.

Powell is not done sticking the fork in those scumbags yet…

Colin Powell admits he’s trolling the GOP: “I continue to be a Republican because it annoys them”

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said at the Washington Ideas Forum Wednesday that he only remains a Republican “because it annoys them,” the Hill’s Mark Hensch reports.

“I continue to be a Republican because it annoys them,” Powell told host Walter Isaacson. “I think the party has shifted much further right than where the country is, and it should be obvious to party leaders that they cannot keep saying and doing the things that they were doing and hope to be successful in national-level election in the future — not just in 2016.”

Powell also claimed that the current crop of GOP candidates is mistaken in believing that the majority of the country — Republicans included — doesn’t want the next president to act on immigration reform. “I think most Republicans understand that we need immigration, we are an immigrant nation [and that] it is in our best interest to do it,” he said.

However, he added, “there are pockets of intolerance within the Republican Party [and] the Republican Party had better figure out how to defeat that.”

Powell disagreed in particular with Donald Trump, saying that “if I was around Mr. Trump — Donald, who I know rather well — I would say, ‘You know, Don, let’s see what happens — let’s tell all the immigrants working in Trump hotels to stay home tomorrow. Let’s see what happens.’”


Posted by on October 1, 2015 in Giant Negros


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Archibald Motley – Painter of the Jazz Age

Born in 1891, Archibald Motley would document, through his art – the next 70 years of black experience in Chicago and France.

Portrait of a Sophisticated Lady

Octoroon, 1922

Self Portrait

Archibald Motley, The Painter Who Captured Black America in the Jazz Age and Beyond

The artist Archibald Motley captured both the high times and cultural vibrancy of the Jazz Age, as well as graver themes of racism and injustice.

The sexy sway of a 1920s Paris nightclub, filled with light and dark-skinned people pressed against each other.

The bustling streets of the almost exclusively black “Bronzeville” neighborhood Chicago in the 1930s under a nighttime glow.

A depressing surreal scene of horror following the death of Martin Luther KingJr.and the failings of the 1960s Civil Rights movement.

These are just a handful of the diverse visual expressions of the African American experience that the artist Archibald Motley so adroitly and sumptuously captured throughout his career.

Bronzeville By Night

As versatile in his aesthetic style as he was committed to scrutinizing African American culture, Motley was a uniquely daring and sharp artist who stood out even among the Harlem Renaissance greats.

Yet, Motley’s name does not elicit the same nods of recognition and respect as his peers, like Langston Hughes, Josephine Baker, and Zora Neale Hurston. That could–and certainly should–change after the retrospective Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist opens October 2 at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Traveling through different chapters of his career, though not boxed into a strict chronology, the exhibition showcases how Motley was a thorough and sensitive observer of the black community, documenting its diversity while bringing his own keen perspective to its traditions and subcultures.

Motley “set his work apart” because he “created a modern, vibrant world which, as seen through a pair of jaded, laserlike ‘Negro’ eyes, revealed the jazz-and-blues-accented absurdities that lay behind life’s facades and public face,” writes Richard J. Powell in “Becoming Motley, Becoming Modern” an essay in the book,Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist.

Mending Socks

Powell, who is an art historian and Dean of Humanities at Duke University, curated the Whitney exhibition.

In other words, Motley wasn’t afraid to capture the good and the bad of black life, as his peers made tremendous gains yet the community in general often struggled in poverty and disenfranchisement in a segregated, very racist America.

At least a significant part of Motley’s distinct perspective on African American life came from his unique upbringing for a black man of his era.

Born in New Orleans in 1891, Motley was raised in Chicago’s then largely white immigrant Engelwood neighborhood and married his white childhood friend, Edith Granzo, in 1924.

Trained at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Motley’s earliest critically-acclaimed paintings were portraits of different figures within the African American community.

His 1924 Mending Socks depicted his grandmother, Emily Motley, a former slave, sitting with a quiet pride and refinement.

Motley was not so forward-looking that he ignored the complicated, painful slaveholding past. Mending Socks features part of a portrait of his grandmother’s mistress in the upper left corner, hanging over her.

As important as it was for Motley to capture history, it was equally, if not more, significant to him depict the spectrum of skin tones considered black. A blend of ethnicities himself, he was dedicated to painting “the whole gamut,” as he said, of African American complexions.

1920’s Mulatress with Figuring and Dutch Seascape and 1925’s The Octoroon Girl speak to his commitment of not only visually presenting multi-racial figures, but doing so in a way that showed them as refined, strong figures.

As the Whitney exhibition notes of Motley’s artistic interest in these portraits: “On the one hand, he believed that seeing themselves in art would help African Americans feel pride in their own racial identities; on the other, he hoped that seeing beautiful contemporary black subjects would dispel stereotypes and undermine racism.”...More…

Street Scene

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Posted by on September 30, 2015 in Black History, Giant Negros


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The Story of Longtown, Ohio – A Town Where Color Didn’t Matter

There were two sizeable Tri-Racial communities in Ohio – this is the story of one, and efforts to preserve it’s history. Longtown was “Post-racial”…Before anyone else in America came up with the idea.


An Ohio town where races have mixed freely for more than 200 years

Amid the corn and soybean fields of western Ohio lies a progressive crossroads where black and white isn’t black and white, where the concept of race has been turned upside down, where interracial marriages have been the norm for nearly two centuries. The heavy boots of Jim Crow have never walked here.

Founded by James Clemens, a freed slave from Virginia who became a prosperous farmer, Longtown was a community far ahead of its time, a bold experiment in integration.

Now that history is in danger of being lost. Longtime Longtown residents are dying, and whites are moving in and buying property. Many historically black-owned buildings have already been torn down or remodeled.

But Clemens’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson is working to save his family’s heritage. Though his eyes are blue and his skin is pale, Connor Keiser, 22, said that his childhood is filled with memories of “cousins of all colors” playing in the pastures at the family farm.

“We were a typical Longtown family. We all looked different, and we were taught that color didn’t matter,” Keiser said. “As long as I have anything to do with it, Longtown won’t die.”

Largely because of Keiser’s efforts, the National Park Service, the National Register of Historic Places and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center have recognized Longtown as a place noteworthy for its early embrace of racial integration and educational opportunities for blacks. But the town’s institutions are in peril.

Longtown’s former school, the Union Literary Institute, founded in 1845, has a largely forgotten history as one of the nation’s first integrated establishments of higher education. Notable alumni include the first black man to serve in the U.S. Senate, Hiram R. Revels of Mississippi. The school, which closed in 1914, fell into disrepair and until recently was used to store farm equipment.

The original Clemens farmstead is in better shape; the two-story brick farmhouse, built around 1850, still has its original fixtures and woodwork. Although the National Park Service has dispensed $25,000 to restore the property, Keiser estimated that the project will require an additional $100,000.

George Clemens and wife

So Keiser has hit the road to appeal for money. He’s been drawing big crowds to area libraries with his presentation about the racial harmony of Longtown and the desperate need to preserve it.

“I don’t think the public was aware this was here,” Keiser said. “Black history is not talked about a lot in general, and I think [the fact] that we have that kind of history means something to a lot of people.”

The racial harmony of Longtown is the legacy of Clemens, who found his way here in 1818 and purchased 390 acres — probably with the aid of abolitionist Quakers, sympathetic Native Americans and, by some accounts, his former owner in Rockingham County, Va.

Clemens was of a mixed-race ancestry — black,white and Native American. So was his wife, Sophia. They served as a beacon to other integrationists, as well as runaway and freed slaves looking for succor and education during and after the Civil War.

The couple became conductors for the Underground Railroad and — while the rest of the nation endured Reconstruction and Jim Crow laws — built a mixed-race town that numbered close to 1,000 people at its peak in the 1880s.

But Longtown began to falter after World War II, when residents were forced to seek help from bankers to modernize their farms.

“When we began to need machinery and bank loans to expand and grow and become competitive, that’s when there was trouble,” said Carl Westmoreland, a senior historian with the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center who has visited Longtown.

“Banks would not help black farmers purchase new equipment. In Longtown, people gradually had to go to industrial centers for jobs. And if you are not part of the day-to-day energy of the community, it begins to decline.”

Today, only a handful of families remain. But Longtown lasted longer than other integrated rural villages once scattered across the Ohio plains.

Clemens Home, now Abandoned

“Because Longtown’s population was so much larger than others like it, it took longer for it to whittle down,” said Roane Smothers, a distant cousin of Keiser’s and an active Longtown preservationist.

“And because Longtown was so much larger, more structures have survived,” Smothers said. “As these other communities faded away, white folks bought the land and structures, and many times all that was left was the church.”

A junior majoring in international studies at nearby Wright State University, Keiser seems an unlikely savior for this blink of a town. Unfailingly polite, possessing a bright white smile, Keiser looks as Caucasian as the rest of Darke County, which was 97.7 percent white at the last census.

But Keiser doesn’t consider himself white. Nor does he consider himself black. Instead he calls himself by the dated and, to some, offensive term “colored.”

“I know who I am and what I am. I may look white, my appearance is white, but my insides are not. I know I am not white,” Keiser said. He makes it a point to tell anyone who will listen about his black ancestry. “I tell everyone about it, whether they want to hear it or not. I am so proud of it.”

The issue of race has long perplexed America. In the past year, the racial identities of high-profile black activists such as former Spokane NAACP chairman Rachel Dolezal and Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King have come under scrutiny. If birth certificates tell the story, both Dolezal and King are Caucasians trying to pass as black.

From the perspective of his own racial heritage, Keiser finds them “pretty cool. You don’t hear of many white people wanting to be black,” he said.

Alisann Clemens Smookler with Daughters

Not many people anywhere these days want to be called “colored.” But it’s common in Longtown.

Take Edith Perkins, 75, who also looks white. For 30 years, she worked in human resources at Alcoa in nearby Richmond, Ind., where prejudice surfaced as soon as people learned she was from Longtown.

“I was never really accepted by the whites, who viewed me as black. Nor was I really accepted by the blacks, who viewed me as white,” Perkins said. “So I ate lunch by myself for 30 years.”

Patricia Hope, 82, has snow-white hair and a fair complexion and also identifies as “colored.” She said her family has a long mixed-race lineage in Longtown.

“That’s why we worship in this church, to keep our little crossroads alive,” Hope said, referring to the Bethel Long Wesleyan Church, which still holds services every Sunday. This Sunday, the church will celebrate its 159th annual homecoming with a potluck and picnic. Every year, the event becomes larger, as former residents come back to reconnect with their heritage.

“This place is all we know,” Hope said.

Her husband, Thomas, died in 2013. One by one, the repositories of Longtown’s legacy and its stories are passing to the grave. Keiser grew up steeped in the town’s oral history, stories passed down from his great-grandfather, Maze Clemens.

“He was the keeper of Longtown’s history, and my biggest hope is to make him proud by doing the same,” Keiser said.

While Longtown itself was a haven, a refuge from prejudice, sometimes biases from the outside world would creep in. The Ku Klux Klan would visit periodically. Keiser said his great-great-great-great-grandfather was murdered by the Klan. As recently as 2003, racist notes were left on the door of the church, Keiser said. In nearby Hollansburg, Ohio, Confederate flags flutter casually from many front porches.

“If the rest of the world got along as well as we do here in Longtown, there wouldn’t be problems,” said James Jett, 90. His dark skin, smooth despite his age, contrasts with his wife Brenda’s much lighter complexion.

Jett grew wistful remembering Longtown’s heyday, pointing to cornfields that were once filled with houses. And he remembers the Tigers, the town’s semi-professional baseball team, which sent many players to the Negro leagues. The Tigers’ appearance often confounded opponents.

“The Tigers showed up to play a team in Indiana, and they said, ‘Where’s the black team?’ And they responded, ‘We are the black team,’ ” laughed Brenda Jett, who declined to give her age.


Posted by on September 27, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life


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Patti Labelle Sets the Ground Rules

The only thing Naked at a Patti Labelle concert…

Is her voice.

That is not auto tune, that is not lip sync – that is all Patti you hear. I have seen her in a number of venues, perhaps a dozen times, from her “Bluebelle” and “Labelle” days onwards with Sarah Dash and Nona Hendryx.

She never needed to undress anything except that amazing voice unlike today’s pretend stars.

Tell them like it is, Patti! She is not Minaj or “little Miley”, and isn’t putting up with the crassness (Wild outfits and hair, yes!).

Here is Patti with 2 of the 3 original Bluebells in 1968

One of my favorites from the 70s, with Labelle

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Posted by on September 20, 2015 in Music, From Way Back When to Now


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Art Student Hangs Segregation Signs as a Project

If you are older than about 55 and lived in the South – you most likely remember the “Separate but Equal” signs hung at everything from Retail stores, to Public Parks assigning separate facilities to black and white. It was called Segregation – and it ruled the lives of people in many locations in the South.

An Art student,, working on a project called “Art in Public Places” hung signs like this around the University of Buffalo campus. Needless to say, they caused a bit of an uproar.

Art Student Hangs ‘Black Only’ And ‘White Only’ Signs Around University Campus

On Wednesday, Sept. 16, students of the University of Buffalo were shocked to find “White Only” and “Black Only” signs hung near campus bathrooms. Students were sickened and traumatized by the apparent act of racism; by 1 p.m., the police had received 11 phone calls regarding the signage.

It was later revealed, however, that the signs reminiscent of the Jim Crow era were put on display by graduate fine arts student Ashley Powell, who is black, as part of an art project.

Before Powell admitted to hanging the signs at a Black Student Union (BSU) meeting on Wednesday night, students and faculty were left wondering about the source of the racist designations. “We didn’t know it was an art project, it could’ve been an act of terrorism,” a student explained to The Spectrum, the independent campus newspaper.

When Powell revealed that she was behind the act, a project for her “Installation: Urban Spaces” class, which requires students to install art in a public space, many students stormed out of the BSU assembly, some in tears. “It brought up feelings of a past that our generation has never seen, which I think is why it was so shocking for us to see,” Micah Oliver, president of the BSU, told ABC.

As an artist, I respect you as an artist,” said student Jefry Taveras in the BSU meeting. “But you should know racism isn’t art, it’s a reality and traumatizing.”

In a statement to The Spectrum, Powell explained the reasoning behind her installation, which addresses issues of non-white suffering and white privilege. “I apologize for the extreme trauma, fear, and actual hurt and pain these signs brought about,” she wrote. “I apologize if you were hurt, but I do not apologize for what I did.”

She went on to expand upon the motivations behind the project, which was intended to spark outrage and discomfort in viewers.

“My art practice is not an act of self-policing meant to hide my rage. Instead, it uses pain, narrative, and trauma as a medium of expression and as grounds for arguing a need for change in the first place. I understand that I forced people to feel pain that they otherwise would not have had to deal with in this magnitude. But I ask, should non-white people not express or confront their trauma? Should we be content with not having to confront that pain? We know it exists, and it often causes many of us immediate discomfort. Should we not be in a state of crushing discomfort?

These signs made you feel discomfort. They are tangible objects that forced you to revisit your past, to confront your present, and to recognize here and now the underlying social structures that are directly responsible for your pain and suffering. This project makes forceful what has been easy for you to ignore.”

University of Buffalo released the following statement regarding the incident: “After an initial investigation by University Police, it has been determined that the signs posted in Clemens Hall were part of a student art project. The University is continuing to review this matter through appropriate university policies and procedures.”

Powell is far from the first artist to toe the fine line between critiquing racism and embodying it. Brett Bailey’s “Exhibit B,” a performance recreating the “human zoos” of the 19th century, Ti-Rock Moore’s sculpture of Michael Brown’s dead body, and Kenneth Goldsmith’s poetic reading of Michael Brown’s autopsy have all caused dire outrage. However, it should be mentioned that the three artists listed above are white.

I don’t believe it matters whether the three artists mentioned above are white – or that Ashley Powell is black. Her installation indeed is a reality check on an era well within the lifespan of many black and white folks in America. It may be psychologically traumatizing to some – as are the works of renowned street artist Banksy. But it was a reality for the majority of the 20th century – a reality which hasn’t quite faded away to the dustbins of history…

And there seems to be no shortage of folks in some places who would willingly return to it.


Posted by on September 20, 2015 in Black History, The New Jim Crow, The Post-Racial Life


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Black Protest Music …Then and Now

SO…Has the music died, or is there just another chapter? The author of this piece argues it’s come in a circle…

Sounds of Black Protest Then and Now

By William C. Anderson

The sounds Black people make are the brick and mortar of the United States. Literally. The enslaved African’s singing was a driving force for the free labor that built a young nation and put it at the forefront of empires. Historically, Black Americans have been amongst the primary influencers of music culture. The genres that were born of Black misery, triumph, endurance, protest, and expression have changed the way the entire world sounds. But it’s undeniable that many of these songs were and still are shaped by the fatigue of the constant protest that comes with Black existence.

As the son of a Black Southern Pentecostal minister, I’ve had the privilege of sitting among the serene sounds of praise that birthed a nation of noir notes. Just about every genre that has risen to popularity is from the offspring of the Black church. If you listen closely enough, you can hear Black American beginnings on this continent in our cultural songs: one part culture, one part community, one part family, one part fear of fire and brimstone. The tears that beg to line my face when I hear Mary Pickney’s “Down on Me”, Janie Hunters’ “Jonah”, or Mahalia Jackson’s “How I Got Over” retrace Fredrick Douglass’ words:

“I have sometimes thought that the mere hearing of those songs would do more to impress some minds with the horrible character of slavery, than the reading of whole volumes of philosophy on the subject could do….The mere recurrence to those songs, even now, afflicts me; and while I am writing these lines, an expression of feeling has already found its way down my cheek. To those songs I trace my first glimmering conception of the dehumanizing character of slavery.”

It’s important to note that the act of this singing was more than entertainment for plantation overseers or solely expressions of sadness. In its purest form, the slave’s singing was an act of protest. Its beauty and expression transcends the pervasive hell that was the environment that allowed them to be enslaved.

Black existence is an act of rebellion in and of itself, most especially in art. Black people have sung songs amid the persistent onslaught of struggle in the United States, though not exclusively. Enslaved Africans pioneered music like Cumbia, tango, and rumba across the Americas and integrated self-defense and music in Brazil with capoeira. Here in North America, all of the elements of our African diasporic kin’s musical instincts are present in our musical traditions, too.

Since the days of chattel slavery, we’ve heard as our songs have taken different shapes, changed. Jazz’s earliest beginnings in the Congo Square of New Orleans were moments of sanctification, through the allowance of Whites for them to congregate there, to evoke their traditions and make music. Jazz has been consistent in this way over decades. Artists like Nina Simone and Charles Mingus made outspokenness a part of their reputation over the years with songs like “Mississippi Goddam” and “Fables of Faubus”. Miles Davis became the embodiment of Black protest to many through his unwillingness to bend to White standards, insistence that Black women grace his album covers, and even making a tribute to “Black Jack Johnson”. Other imaginative artists like Sun Ra created other, better worlds for Black people through their music. Some artists like Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln infused what they could into Black protests through their art. In the song “Triptych: Prayer/Protest/Peace”, from the classic Black resistance jazz album We Insist, you can hear the waves of emotion Lincoln pours into her vocals. At one point in the song, she arguably sets a shrieking standard for punk rock before the genre officially existed, but not before evoking the symbolic moans of gospel and the blues. The revolutionary nature of Black music always comes back to that starting point.

The blues are Black survival music. While many songs deal with the everyday issues, others from blues’ earliest beginnings up to contemporary times are blatantly political. Three songs about my infamous home state of Alabama come to mind: J.B. Lenoir’s “Alabama”, Lead Belly’s “Scottsboro Boys”, and John Lee Hooker’s “Birmingham Blues”. You can find countless songs about Alabama because it was one of the starting points of the “great migration” Blacks made when they left the South fleeing oppressive violence. Furthermore, it was once the cradle of the civil rights movement and Black activism itself.

Much of the music that defines what most know as Black protest songs are civil rights era protest music. Songs like “We Shall Overcome”, “A Change Is Going to Come”, “We Shall Not Be Moved”, and “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round” set the stage for what many millennials like myself would come to know as the movement songs. Documentaries like Eyes on the Prize were filled with these songs as soundtrack to the brutality of White supremacist violence against Black people.

I must admit that seeing these images of Black people singing while being beaten ruthlessly felt self-defeating and depressing as a child. The eternal words of Malcolm X, “stop singing and start swinging,” come to mind. Though there should not be any diminishing of the importance of any particular type of protest music, the current Black generation has moved toward a more confrontational approach….Read the rest of this outstanding piece here


Posted by on September 16, 2015 in Music, From Way Back When to Now


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Vester Lee Flanagan, Va TV Killer Had a History of Playing the “Race Card” and “Gay Card”…

Let me start this on first off with a criticism of the title –

Vester Flanagan Threatened Coworkers, Played the Race Card for Years

The problem being that Flanagan had a number of issues, was fired by several stations, and alternately blamed it on being Gay and Being black. Of course, using “Playing the Race Card” is more incendiary as a Title.

On with the story…

The cold-blooded Roanoke killer kept getting fired, kept threatening co-workers, and kept claiming he was the real victim.

Vester Lee Flanagan claimed in a suicide note Wednesday that June’s massacre of black parishioners at a South Carolina church was “the tipping point” that sent him on the path to murdering two journalists on live television Wednesday.

But in court papers and interviews with The Daily Beast, former colleagues describe Flanagan as a problematic employee, who was repeatedly reprimanded for his harsh treatment of coworkers, and complained racism was behind harsh evaluations of his work.

“He just had a history of playing the race card,” former WTWC anchor Dave Leval told The Daily Beast. “I know he did that in Tallahassee a couple of times…”

The day Flanagan was fired from a Virginia TV station in 2013, his bosses called 911 because of his volatile behavior—an incident captured on camera by Adam Ward, a man who would later become one of his victims.

At a February 2013 meeting, managers at WDBJ7 in Roanoke told Flanagan he wasn’t a good fit and would be terminated. Flanagan became “agitated” before issuing a threat, one boss recalled in court papers

Flanagan also claimed he was attacked for being a gay black man, and that he suffered bullying, sexual harassment, and racial discrimination at work, ABC News reported.

Court papers in Flanagan’s 2013 discrimination case also reveal an apparent preoccupation with perceived racism against him.

“I am hereby requesting a trial which will be heard by a jury of my peers,” he wrote in a letter to the judge. “I would like my jury to be comprised of African-American women.”

Flanagan also mentioned a frequently appearing watermelon as evidence of racial harassment at the Roanoke TV station and claimed he had photos of it.

“This was not an innocent incident,” Flanagan claimed. “It appeared after a meeting during which ‘watermelon’ comments were discussed.”

He also claimed head photographer Lynn Eller was the mastermind of a “carefully orchestrated effort by the photography staff to oust me,” court documents show.

“Why did one of the photographers go to HR on me after working with me ONLY ONCE,” Flanagan wrote, in an apparent reference to victim Adam Ward. “There was nothing to report! That, Your honor, is just plain wrong.”…

In a performance review one month later, Flanagan scored a 1 out of 5 in the category of “works well together with photographer, producer and assignment editor;” he scored 3s on evaluations about delivering news “in an understandable manner” and “covering beat and enterprising stories.”

Bosses reprimanded Flanagan that November for wearing an Obama sticker when he voted, a violation of the non-partisan conditions of his contract.

“While this is the first incident of this nature, and we trust the last, you need to quickly and diligently move from the category of an employee who commits misstep after misstep to the kind of problem-free employee we hope you can become,” Dennison wrote in a letter to Flanagan.

One of the final memos before his termination included a harsh suggestion:

“Avoid being merely a human tape recorder” and report the real news.

Among the missteps that led to this admonition was his decision to cover a local creamery over the governor’s comments on gun control after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.


Posted by on August 27, 2015 in Domestic terrorism, You Know It's Bad When...


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