Martin Luther King Day, a victim of the (official) Women’s March

First off, yes, I may be a day late, but this is definitely not a dollar short! I wanted to make sure this post was as perfect as I could make it, like I do with all others.

Of course, it’s just a coincidence that Martin Luther King Day, which commemorates the birthday of the slain civil rights leader, happens to fall near Inauguration Day in certain years, and thus the Women’s March.

(Read through and see another coincidence. It involves an Israel-hater and what her name really means. Then tell me Gd doesn’t work in mysterious ways!)

But the calendar coincidence is now a damn shame to Dr. King’s memory.

I’ve said time and time again all decent people are for equality, and luckily there were alternatives for marchers who wanted to avoid the Women’s March and its leaders’ anti-Israel, anti-Semitism and pro-Farrakhan mentality.

I’ll add what I’ve also said and written frequently: that the far left of the Democratic Party – and the failure of its more moderate, experienced leaders to rein them in – could very well split the party and help the Republicans’ 2020 presidential nominee (Trump or not) win the election and put more justices on the Supreme Court. (Justices who don’t think transgender people should be allowed to volunteer to fight doe our country on that basis alone.) I can even see the right Republican able to pull it off by campaigning as a moderate.

Don’t forget what Will Rogers said: “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.”

Early Saturday, Linda Sarsour posted a link to this article on Facebook:2019-01-19 sarsour

 

“While the first set of Unity Principles written by members of the Women’s March steering committee, which itself included prominent Jewish leaders, focused specifically on those most vulnerable, it did not mention Jews, which raised unnecessary suspicion. White supremacy and fascism endanger all of us, but we are not all equally in danger at all times, and while some communities in the United States feel unsafe for the first time in a very long time, others, such as communities of color and immigrants, have lived with danger for this country’s entire history. Centering the most vulnerable means exactly that: focusing first on the most vulnerable, through which we all benefit. (The 2019 Unity Principles now explicitly mention Jewish women.)”

My thoughts: Afterward, I also read Latinx women and Asian/Pacific Islander women, who were also previously excluded from the list, are also now on it. Why such division?

I totally disagree about Jews not having to feel unsafe in the U.S. In 1862, in the heat of the Civil War, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant initiated the most blatant official episode of anti-Semitism in 19th-century American history. (Luckily, Pres. Abraham Lincoln overturned that, and Grant came to his senses before becoming president.) What about the KKK and Leo Frank in the early 20th century? What about Henry Ford and Father Coughlin in Detroit in the mid-20th century? What about the Holocaust in our collective memories, and all the white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and Holocaust deniers here in the US? And the Tree of Life synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh in October?

Back to the article:

“Tamika Mallory … refused to ‘condemn’ Black nationalist and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan for his anti-Semitic views. She has since been asked to do this over and over, irrespective of the fact that his words are not her words, she is not responsible for him, and that asking her to do so means effectively condemning her ‘family’ and community—the people who were there for her and her son after the death of her husband.”

From me: So she can’t use the magic word “condemn” for the sake of society, and obviously considers Farrakhan above the rest of us, meaning unequal. In the meantime, she’s getting asked about this over and over, taking far more time to not say it than to actually say it! Is she achieving her objective or trying to keep her 15 minutes of fame?

“In the Forward (Your racism is showing when you tear down the Women’s March), Nylah Burton, a Black Jewish woman, writes that the attacks on Mallory and other Women’s March leaders are not only based in racism but make Jews of color more vulnerable. While ‘Mallory’s public embrace of [Farrakhan] was inappropriate to begin with … the sheer amount of racism and Islamophobia that defines much of the criticism against Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian Muslim activist, Tamika Mallory, a black gun control activist, and Carmen Perez, a Latina activist, has become more toxic and harmful than the actions that spurred the protests [against Trump].’”

Me again: So now we’re comparing who has been more inappropriate and when? Perhaps Sarsour, Mallory and Perez are more than they were just described. They need to personally address that supposed amount of racism and Islamophobia reserved just for them, plus if and how they made Jews of color more vulnerable. Anybody going after a woman for being a woman is the outsider!

“No form of anti-Semitism is acceptable,” writes Burton in a different Forward article, Why do Jews keep tearing down Black leaders? “But not all forms of anti-Semitism are alike. White anti-Semites are motivated by a hatred of Jews and a desire for power. Black anti-Semites are motivated by anger over gentrification, police brutality, and slavery.”

Me: Nice history lesson. Why has the Forward been giving her space? Did it lead to Thursday’s announcement it’ll be ending its print operation to “become a digitally focused publisher” after 121 years? Another sad moment for the newspaper business, but I find this example hard to mourn.

“And the entire conversation has been turned from focusing on the most vulnerable, i.e. communities of color, to focusing on the angst of white Jews.”

Maybe they should’ve just stuck to equality for women. Instead, they got off their message and supporters are STILL blaming others! (More on this from someone who knows more than me on that subject, coming up right after this next prejudiced thought.)

“Zuckerberg and Sandberg have money and power, and we allow white people with money and power, no matter who they are, to get away with things no one should and that people of color certainly can’t.”

I won’t defend Facebook but the writer of this article, some Jodi Jacobson, is off the rails.

An article Monday morning reported what happened next: “Former Women’s March leader upbraids ‘antisemite’ Linda Sarsour for posting article claiming Jews are waging war on black people.”

She’s Mercy Morganfield, the daughter of famed American blues singer-songwriter Muddy Waters. This is just some of what she posted on Facebook less than three-and-a-half hours after Sarsour on Saturday. (Language warning!)

2019-01-19 mercy morganfield

“Tamika is not the problem. Tamika is the symptom. Tamika symbolizes everything wrong and deeply problematic about second-wave feminism. A white woman’s movement. Just like the first wave feminism was a white woman’s movement in the sixties. ‘March with one of them. But March,’ was Gloria Steinem’s advice just yesterday. This rhetoric by a 1st Wave Feminist is indicative of the mentality of the March itself. Let me translate: ‘March because optics are more important than inclusivity.’

“And Tamika is providing the optics. … The other co-chairs sit back and watch while Tamika says all the incendiary things. They push her to the front and let her believe she is their leader when in reality she is their fall guy.

“And her allies outside the WM are problematic. She has other black people chasing celebrity and the limelight riding on her coattails. They don’t have her back; they are riding her back but she can’t tell the difference. They say amen and egg her on while she doubles down on ignorance and xenophobia. She is mistaking their obsequiousness for support. She cannot recognize an opportunist right now because she is so deeply mired in her own opportunism. Tamika, you in danger, gurl.”

“She is not faultless; she is thoughtless. She is hapless. She is aimless and gameless. She is riding around butt naked and everyone is admiring her beautiful clothes.

“For the past two years, issues that impact black women and girls in the U.S. have taken a backseat to issues that impact Palestinian women. Awareness of ignorant religious dogma has replaced awareness around issues impacting black women in the black community. People are now more aware of the dumb shit Farrakhan says than they are the plight of missing black girls in Chicago. This is deeply problematic.”

“The only people quicker to stab you in the back than a white woman trying to cover her white supremacy in a blanket of liberalism are the black elite who serve up their own version of white supremacy by looking down their noses at their own people. They are also using Tamika.”

… (This is my favorite part of this Morganfield post. –Lenny)

“I wouldn’t have to denounce Farrakhan because I wouldn’t have been sitting there praising him in the first place. Academic rigor is required to get an advanced degree. A part of my Master’s thesis was to research the slave trade in the United States. Jewish people were not a huge part of the slave trade, dumb asses. Yeah, I said it. Dumb, fucking, asses. There are two prominent figures floating that theory, Louis Farrakhan and David Duke. What do those two men have in common? They both peddle hate. It is their business model. I think it is brilliant that white people got black people blaming Jewish people for slavery. Fucking Brilliant!”

“So Tamika becomes the face of antisemitism, while the enablers of antisemitism don pink pussy hats and march. She becomes their warrior. In a street brawl, she once said, ‘You don’t know me, baby. I will tear your motherfucking ass up.’ Unfortunately, we do know you Tamika. You are every black person who has ever had a once in a lifetime opportunity and lost it because of hubris. You are that black person with all that damn potential who allow your ego to rule your actions. We know you, Tamika. We wanted nothing more than to see you win, I know this black woman did.”

Morganfield followed it up Sunday with this post:

2019-01-20 mercy morganfield

But back on Thursday, Morganfield – to her credit – had more strong words over this, and here are most of them:

2019-01-17 mercy morganfield on sonalee“This is what is so troubling about associations and about liberals and progressives. This shameful woman, Sonalee R.—a therapist, someone who is respectful of transgender people—somehow believes the world would be better if millions of Jewish people weren’t in it. And the head of a woman’s movement is a friend of hers. They keep showing up in photos with antisemite after antisemite but they need us to believe they don’t have these deep-seated issues about Jews. Here in the U.S., Palestine and Israel conflicts took a more prominent seat and more prominent role in what the WM chose to throw their weight behind than did: the Flint Water crisis, the missing girls in Chicago, #metoo as it affects black girls, high infant mortality rate in the black community, high incarceration rate of black families, economic empowerment for the black community, voter suppression targeted at blacks, gun violence in our community, the increasing mortality rate of black women due to disparities in medicine—Linda Sarsour made Palestine issues take precedence over all of those other issues.

“Do you know how that looks? It looks like us defending comments made that are antisemitic more than raising awareness of all of those issues I just mentioned.”

… (This is my favorite part of this Morganfield post. –Lenny)

“Linda has not pushed money and support toward Fighting the Muslim Ban—she pushed it toward Palestinians who are fighting Israel. Where was Linda, Linda’s mom or dad—when we were fighting to desegregate schools, water fountains and lunch counters in the 1960s? And she comes in and sells black women a bill of goods that she is fighting for women of color and that simply isn’t true. She is fighting for Palestinian women and God bless her, she should. I agree that she should fight for the rights of Palestinian women, but should that take precedence over black girls in the U.S.—why? Why, again?

“Black people, we have to start being more woke and questioning the status quo. Ask these four co-chairs what they did for black women this year and you will find they did nothing. You are whispering and standing up for people who’ve done NOTHING—for black women. Being a black woman and telling white women to shut up and listen to black women makes a nice sound bite but does nothing to move the needle. Especially when you are saying that over and over again to a sea of white faces who are happy to exclude all marginalized women as long as they get to march and as long as they have an outspoken black, brown and Muslim token to legitimize them. Spreading false and ignorant information about Jewish people that have black folks nodding their heads in agreement is simply peddling hate. The same way Trump peddles hate. And hate is a destructive energy not a redemptive one.

“If a white woman was featured in a picture on social media with David Duke and the message read, ‘It would have been better if black people didn’t exist.’ Would you be okay with that white woman heading the women’s movement? You would be calling for her head and you know it. But you’re okay when a brown woman does that to a Jew? Please check your hypocrisy at the door of the church. You know that place you go every Sunday and act share the love of Jesus. A Jewish man who taught the world to love. Huh? What would Jesus do? If Jews didn’t exist as this asshole in the picture hopes–who would you worship on Sundays, Boo?

“You are okay with this because they are talking about people some preacher in a church you don’t even belong to—spewed off some uneducated bullshit about Jews and you ate it up hook, line, and sinker. What the hell is wrong with you, black people? This is not who we are. If it is we might as well grab a tiki torch and flame up—we’re no better. Do you understand how destructive the energy of hate is? Do you understand Dr. Martin Luther King Jr would be so ashamed of black people for supporting this while you celebrate his legacy this weekend?”

“Linda is a woman of color when it suits her—but I guarantee you this—her parents would never have allowed her to marry a Muslim of African descent. Chew on that while you are taking up for her.”

It takes a real leader to police one’s own people, and Mercy Morganfield didn’t just start this week, so thank you to her for that.

Another women’s issue is safety for journalists. I haven’t heard that mentioned. Read this story from last week, “For local female journalists in US, rape threats, stalkers, harassment can come with the beat,” from the Committee to Protect Journalists. Let that occupy the bigots’ time!

2019-01-19 sarsour ny times

Unfortunately, it’s hard to shut Sarsour up. Saturday night, she was thrilled after reading this piece from new New York Times columnist Michelle Alexander, subtitled “Martin Luther King Jr. courageously spoke out about the Vietnam War. We must do the same when it comes to this grave injustice of our time.”

Alexander started writing about the speech Dr. King gave at New York’s Riverside Church, exactly a year before his assassination.

“Many of King’s strongest allies urged him to remain silent about the war or at least to soft-pedal any criticism. They knew that if he told the whole truth about the unjust and disastrous war he would be falsely labeled a Communist, suffer retaliation and severe backlash, alienate supporters and threaten the fragile progress of the civil rights movement.

“King rejected all the well-meaning advice and said, ‘I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice.’ Quoting a statement by the Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, he said, ‘A time comes when silence is betrayal’ and added, ‘that time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.’

“It was a lonely, moral stance. And it cost him. But it set an example of what is required of us if we are to honor our deepest values in times of crisis, even when silence would better serve our personal interests or the communities and causes we hold most dear. It’s what I think about when I go over the excuses and rationalizations that have kept me largely silent on one of the great moral challenges of our time: the crisis in Israel-Palestine.”

Another blemish among many in the New York Times’ coverage of the Middle East. (Definitely read! –Lenny)

Is she saying The New York Times never discussed article topics before hiring her last year, and how she might offer thoughts on topics different than other Times writers, and now she has gone rogue?

Alexander then launches into an attack on pretty much everything Israel with these one-sided, distorted phrases and sentences that make you wonder what a Jewish person must’ve ever done to her, and whether she had a Jewish friend in law school who wasn’t on the fringe left:

  • “Israel’s political lobby holds well-documented power”
  • “Many civil rights activists and organizations have remained silent … because they fear loss of funding from foundations, and false charges of anti-Semitism”
  • “compromised or discredited by smear campaigns”
  • “blacklists those who publicly dare to support boycotts against Israel, jeopardizing their employment prospects and future careers”

“And so, if we are to honor King’s message and not merely the man, we must condemn Israel’s actions: unrelenting violations of international law, continued occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, home demolitions and land confiscations. We must cry out at the treatment of Palestinians at checkpoints, the routine searches of their homes and restrictions on their movements, and the severely limited access to decent housing, schools, food, hospitals and water that many of them face.”

“We must not tolerate Israel’s refusal even to discuss the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, as prescribed by United Nations resolutions.”

“We must, with as much courage and conviction as we can muster, speak out against the system of legal discrimination that exists inside Israel.”

Talk about real hate! Don’t tell me Dr. King would’ve ever spoken like that. You’ll hear his “I Have a Dream” speech soon, and he didn’t use language like that – even when referring to racists in power.

I don’t know why Michelle Alexander feels the way she does and question whether her views belong in The New York Times (too many people are clicking onto the article), but you get the drift. Let her talk about this picture, especially the sign.

jews fight descrimination of negroes

Then, she mentioned Dr. King.

king brochure martin kramer
from website of historian Martin Kramer, http://martinkramer.org/sandbox/2013/01/why-martin-luther-king-never-visited-israel/, mentioned below

“King found himself conflicted. Like many black leaders of the time, he recognized European Jewry as a persecuted, oppressed and homeless people striving to build a nation of their own, and he wanted to show solidarity with the Jewish community, which had been a critically important ally in the civil rights movement.

“Ultimately, King canceled a pilgrimage to Israel in 1967 after Israel captured the West Bank. During a phone call about the visit with his advisers, he said, ‘I just think that if I go, the Arab world, and of course Africa and Asia for that matter, would interpret this as endorsing everything that Israel has done, and I do have questions of doubt.’

“He continued to support Israel’s right to exist but also said on national television that it would be necessary for Israel to return parts of its conquered territory to achieve true peace and security and to avoid exacerbating the conflict. There was no way King could publicly reconcile his commitment to nonviolence and justice for all people, everywhere, with what had transpired after the 1967 war.”

I’ll stop there and remind you – or teach you – the Six Day War happened because Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping and mobilized its army along its border with a much-smaller Israel. The U.N. was absolutely ineffective at avoiding war by running away. (Nobody talked about the West Bank or Gaza back in those days, did they, Ms. Alexander?)

Then, Nasser induced Syria and Jordan to begin attacks on Israel by using the initially confused situation to claim that Egypt had repelled the Israeli air strike, when it really destroyed the country’s air force.

The Arabs were big losers. What happens when a country loses a war? What has happened throughout history, Ms. Alexander, and why should this case be any different?

In fact, keep reading!

Israel didn’t ask for the war, the territories, definitely not the people there, and negotiated with anyone whenever possible. Egypt and Jordan are success stories, even if not wildly successful.

Who is available today? Dictator Mahmoud Abbas with his corruption and net worth of $100 million, or Hamas terrorists? More importantly, who do Palestinians support? Do they want peace with Israel? Look the the polls.

And demanding a right of return 70 years after 1948, or even 50 years after 1967, is preposterous and isn’t coming from anybody who wants peace!

Instead, Israel is making friends all over, or reestablishing friendships. Just Sunday, Israel and Chad restored relations. (Now would be a great time for Ms. Alexander to use the word “apartheid!”) Mali’s Prime Minister will be visiting soon. We don’t even know exactly what’s happening with the Gulf states, but relations are improving.

The war happened in the beginning of June and the Arab League Summit attended by eight Arab heads of state ended less than three months later with the Khartoum Resolution on Sept. 1. It became famous for the “Three No’s” in the third paragraph: “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.”

mlk zionists jewsWould somebody tell me how the hell Israel, wanting land for peace, could deal with that?

Until I get an answer (comment section below) – if The New York Times, Michelle Alexander, Linda Sarsour, Electronic Intifada, and the folks at the United Nations don’t get it – Dr. King really admired Israel, and there’s no better evidence than his own words.

“The whole world must see that Israel must exist and has a right to exist and is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world.”

Here, he goes further, saying even if it wasn’t necessary, he’d speak out against anti-Semitism because it’s wrong, unjust and evil – and he’d do the same for Catholics.

In this speech, he says he knows white people who believe in justice and humanity are going to stay with the civil rights movement because it’s just and right.

Dr. King repeating some of what he said above, but I learned how much he really knew about life for Jews under the Nazis and Soviets.

This video from Christians United for Israel is to “discover the forgotten history of how the civil rights movement and Christian Zionism have united Christians and Jews to fight racism and anti-Semitism for over 50 years.”

This speaker from the IBSI – Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel teaches so much and shows how far Dr. King was ahead of his time.

Even The Young Turks (no friend of Israel) has advice for the Palestinians to get what they want, because they’ve been doing things wrong (terrorism, I suppose?), using quotes from MLK!

Finally, a longer video from Dumisani Washington, founder of the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel, speaking about Dr. King’s true pro-Israel legacy, Israel’s diverse multi-ethnic community, and the racism of BDS. (Worthy of you watching as much as you can. That goes double for Michelle Alexander!)

Now, from the My Jewish Learning article “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Trip to the Holy Land: What we can learn from MLK’s most important trip of his life”:

In Jerusalem in 1959,

“It troubled King that Jerusalem was divided, the western part controlled by Israel and the eastern part by Jordan. ‘And so this was a strange feeling to go to the ancient city of God and see the tragedies of man’s hate and his evil, which causes him to fight and live in conflict,’ he recalled.”

“The details of King’s only visit to the Holy Land, which has nearly been forgotten by history, are contained in a sermon he delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, AL on Easter Sunday, 1959.”

Stanford University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute lets us read and listen to it:

“I must say that when you say ‘landing in Jerusalem’ you must qualify what you are saying and tell what part of Jerusalem. That is because men have not solved their social problems, and we’re still banned because in their Jerusalem, that ancient holy city has been divided and split up and partitioned. And before you can enter one side of the city, it must be clear that you will not enter the other because one side is Jerusalem, Israel, the other side is Jerusalem, Jordan. Because of the Arab-Israeli conflict this city has been divided. And if on your visa it is revealed that you are going into any Arab nation, you can only go to Israel without being able to ever go back to an Arab country in the life of your passport; the hate is intensified. And so this was a strange feeling to go to the ancient city of God and see the tragedies of man’s hate and his evil, which causes him to fight and live in conflict. …

“This is always one of the interesting things about traveling, that you learn to know people. You meet people of all races and of all cultures, and you tend to be lifted above provincialism, and chauvinism, and what the sociologists call ethnocentrism. You come to see a unity in mankind. … I think this is the greatest education that can ever come to an individual. I think if more of our white brothers in the South had traveled a little more, many of our problems would be solved today.”

About being in Jerusalem, and when Jesus was there:

“And he entered this gate, and we walked around and through there and pretty soon, about fifty feet from the gate, we came to a spot and the guide said, ‘This is where the old temple stood, the Temple of Jerusalem.’ (Keep this in mind when someone lies to you and says there is no Jewish history in Jerusalem. Then ask them where the Muslims were at the time. –Lenny) You remember that temple fell in 70 A.D. The Roman Empire came to stop an uprising in Palestine, and they destroyed the temple. But the spot is still reserved, and there is a big stone in the middle of that point where all of the sacrifices used to take place on the altar.”

But King stayed on the Jordanian side of Jerusalem, where the Old City and Western Wall were, even though he visited Jewish holy sites that Jews were not allowed to visit. (We can’t let it go back to the way it was for those 19 years, 1948-67, under Jordan. –Lenny)

Back the My Jewish Learning article:

“He would later call the trip ‘one of the most important occasions of my life.’ …

“Prior to the Six Day War, King was an outspoken supporter of Israel, which he famously called ‘one of the great outposts of democracy in the world.’ After the war, in which Israel reunited Jerusalem and captured the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank, and Golan Heights, King expressed reservations about travelling to the country and having to defend its actions during the war. He feared doing so would alienate his supporters in Africa and the Arab world.  ‘I don’t think I could come out unscathed,’ he fretted to an adviser in a phone conversation recorded by the FBI.”

SIDEBAR: This immediately reminded me of my newspaper PGN’s editorial this week:

“Even Dr. King occasionally struggled with acceptance and tolerance issues.

“One of those struggles was when it came to Bayard Rustin. Rustin was an indispensable force behind the civil rights movement in the 1960s. He was also openly gay. Many have called him King’s right-hand man.

“And, while King needed Rustin for the movement, he did not immediately embrace Rustin and his sexuality (many labeled it ‘promiscuity’ then), which at times became a liability to the movement.

“Even Dr. King succumbed to fear and a desire to keep the movement on track, and the two parted ways a few times.

“Eventually, King evolved, realized Rustin’s worth and defended him.

“If King hadn’t, the movement would most certainly have been different and likely more violent and less effective.”

mlk torah heschel
You didn’t see this in the movie Selma

BACK TO THE STORY from My Jewish Learning:

“Israel had extended several invitations to King during the 1960s to visit the Jewish state as part of a wider effort to strengthen ties with the African American community. King accepted at least two official invitations but backed out both times. He also agreed to lead an interfaith pilgrimage of 600 to Israel in November 1967, but that didn’t pan out either. He was assassinated the following year.”

Click here for many more details about what happened behind the scenes in this article Why Martin Luther King never visited Israel from historian Martin Kramer.

Click here for the full story of how Kramer solved the mystery of this quote attributed to Dr. King – “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism!” – even though so many don’t want to recognize it.

“Ultimately, King’s failure to step foot in the State of Israel did not diminish his legacy in the eyes of most Israelis. His leadership during the civil rights movement has inspired generations of Israeli activists, from the Mizrachi Jews (those from Iraq, Syria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Dagestan, Azerbaijan,  Iran, Uzbekistan, the Caucasus, Kurdistan, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan but never mentioned in any right of return or compensation. –Lenny) who fought for better housing and jobs during the 1970s to the Ethiopian Israelis who, more recently, have demonstrated in the streets of Tel Aviv against police brutality and discrimination.  The Knesset has recognized Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and there is a forest in the Galilee that was planted in his honor.”

mlk3
Sept. 10, 1987: Martin Luther King III plants a tree in the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Forest during his religious pilgrimage and study mission in Israel (http://mochajuden.com/?p=4000)

That’s the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Forest in Israel’s Southern Galilee region, and the Israelis didn’t just love him. There’s also the Coretta Scott King Forest in Biriya Forest, Israel.

What’s especially interesting is that part of the forest had been destroyed over the summer of 2006 when Hezbollah in Lebanon launched Katyusha rockets into northern Israel. The terrorists from a neighboring country destroyed two million trees in the one country that had more trees at the end of the 20th century than it did at the beginning! That’s not what the Kings would’ve supported.

mlk st israel

I don’t think the Israelis would have any major problem with how the Kings would’ve thought of them today.

“One can’t help but wonder, if King were alive and visited Israel today, what would he think?

“One hint comes from Clarence B. Jones, one of King’s lawyers and closest advisors. Jones has said that he believes King would not shy away from criticizing Israel over specific policies, but that he would not stand for efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state. ‘No African-American leader of national stature was more passionate, privately and publicly, in fostering a working coalition with the Jewish community and his support for the State of Israel,’ Jones said of King in 2014. …

“No doubt, King would be disappointed that peace between Israel and the Palestinians still has not been achieved. And he would likely be troubled by the poor treatment of the thousands of African refugees who were denied asylum, held in detention centers in the Negev, and are now being told to return to either their home countries or a third country by April or face jail time. (The government considers the refugees to be economic migrants who entered the country illegally.)

“But he would be amazed at the diversity of the country’s population: that Jews from Morocco live next to Jews from Yemen and India and Ethiopia and Iran and France, among other places. And he would marvel that Arabs, Druze, Bedouins, Hebrew Israelites, Samaritans, and Circassians have also found a home in Israel—a place that one day might truly be, in King’s words, ‘an oasis of brotherhood and democracy.’”

I find this pretty positive when you look at the entirety. I think my point has been made.

Just one more: Ever the scholar, one thing I learned after Louis Farrakhan referred to Jews as “termites” is that Linda Sarsour’s last name means “cockroach” in Arabic.

cockroach
From Google Translate. Go ahead! Try it!

And this brings me to MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech, especially “the content of  their character” part. I played this video every year as a teacher – not just so my students could see and hear Dr. King, but also for its meaning, and how to properly give a speech – including speaking clearly, knowing your audience, and using inclusiveness, repetition, etc.

This is always worth a listen, for so many different reasons. So enjoy, as my students and I always have.

 

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Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, justice and becoming a Justice

President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will be giving the Senate Judiciary Committee calendars from 1982 to back up his continued denial of sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford. That’s according to The New York Times, late Sunday afternoon.

The year 1982 was 36 years ago. Do you have your calendar from back then? Heck, were you even alive back then? (I was and I remember, but my calendar situation was mainly my parents’ responsibility at that time.) At least Judge Kavanaugh can’t say his was accidentally deleted from wherever we keep our calendars, these days. On the other hand, looks like we’ll be keeping our calendars forever!

two men holding pen and calendar sitting beside table
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I explained in a lawsuit about 17-18 years ago (half the time since 1982?!) – when I mentioned plans and the other side immediately asked for my calendar – they’re good for some things and not for others. Calendars will tell what your plans were when you wrote (or saved) them. They were your intentions. Calendars won’t tell whether you actually followed through with the plans or changed them. Maybe you got sick.

(“So as I told you, despite what my old calendar said, no, I didn’t go to a movie with my friend Harry, that night!”)

Judge Brett Kavanaugh
Judge Brett Kavanaugh

Anyway, the calendar is supposed to help with Judge Kavanaugh’s denial, at least to some degree.

Let’s see. He was born in 1965. (Damn! All these “old” people’s birth years are getting closer and closer to mine!)

Dr. Blasey Ford is expected to testify in an open hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Click here for details on the conditions requested and what to expect, at least at this point. Just don’t swear by it under oath, since things are changing.

Kavanaugh graduated from Yale Law School in 1990 and clerked for some other federal judges. He actually interviewed for a clerkship with then-Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, but was denied. Instead, he clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose retirement led to Kavanaugh’s nomination to replace him.

Justice Neil Gorsuch
Justice Neil Gorsuch

During that clerkship, he worked alongside Neil Gorsuch (born 1967!). He and now-Justice Gorsuch attended the same prep school! Small world.

SIDEBAR: Remember, Justice Gorsuch’s nomination came after President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland, who remains Chief Judge of the Federal Appeals Court, DC Circuit, where Kavanaugh has been a Circuit Judge since 2006! Again, small world.

But the Republican-controlled Senate never took up Judge Garland’s nomination.

BACK TO THE STORY: You’ll remember, President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch to succeed the late Antonin Scalia. He was 49 and the youngest (successful) nominee to the Supreme Court since none other than Clarence Thomas! Justice Thomas was 43, back in 1991. You may remember, his nomination proceedings to replace the retiring Thurgood Marshall (quota?) were contentious from the start over the issue of abortion and Thomas’ conservative political views.

Then and now: Clarence Thomas at the EEOC (1989–1990), and as a Supreme Court Justice

Whose name is missing from that last paragraph? Law Professor Anita Hill, of course!

She’d worked under Thomas at the U.S. Education Department and then at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It wasn’t until the end of Thomas’ confirmation hearings that her behavior allegations against Thomas were leaked to National Public Radio’s Supreme Court correspondent Nina Totenberg (still on the job!) from a confidential FBI report. I think we have déjà vu.

SIDEBAR: Just wondering if any of the TV networks have correspondents who focus on the Supreme Court. I remember in 1991 when NBC News took Carl Stern off the air after decades on the SCOTUS beat. It was pointed out that left nobody exclusively covering one of the three branches of our government, gathering sources for NBC. You can read more about the decision-making and see some familiar names (to us old people) in this Washington Post article. Stern, a lawyer, is now George Washington University’s Emeritus Professor of Media and Public Affairs.

1991 Anita Hill
Prof. Anita Hill (1991)

BACK TO THE STORY: Many of us actually learned the phrase “sexual harassment” during the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill frenzy. Hill – a Yale Law School graduate and University of Oklahoma law professor – testified a mutual friend introduced her to Thomas. Then, he asked if she’d leave a private firm and work as his assistant at the Department of Education. After being happy for three months, he asked her to go out with him socially and everything changed when she told him it wouldn’t be right, since she was her supervisor. (I’m summarizing her statement from that same link above, sure to bring back memories for us older folk.)

“I thought that by saying ‘no’ and explaining my reasons, my employer would abandon his social suggestions. However, to my regret, in the following few weeks he continued to ask me out on several occasions. He pressed me to justify my reasons for saying “no” to him. These incidents took place in his office or mine. They were in the form of private conversations which would not have been overheard by anyone else.

“My working relationship became even more strained when Judge Thomas began to use work situations to discuss sex. On these occasions, he would call me into his office for reports on education issues and projects or he might suggest that because of the time pressures of his schedule, we go to lunch to a government cafeteria. After a brief discussion of work, he would turn the conversation to a discussion of sexual matters. His conversations were very vivid.

“He spoke about acts that he had seen in pornographic films involving such matters as women having sex with animals, and films showing group sex or rape scenes. He talked about pornographic materials depicting individuals with large penises, or large breasts involved in various sex acts.

“On several occasions Thomas told me graphically of his own sexual prowess. Because I was extremely uncomfortable talking about sex with him at all, and particularly in such a graphic way, I told him that I did not want to talk about these subjects. I would also try to change the subject to education matters or to nonsexual personal matters, such as his background or his beliefs. My efforts to change the subject were rarely successful.”

Then, Prof. Hill testified,

“During the latter part of my time at the Department of Education, the social pressures and any conversation of his offensive behavior ended. I began both to believe and hope that our working relationship could be a proper, cordial, and professional one. When Judge Thomas was made chair of the EEOC, I needed to face the question of whether to go with him. I was asked to do so and I did. The work, itself, was interesting, and at that time, it appeared that the sexual overtures, which had so troubled me, had ended. I also faced the realistic fact that I had no alternative job. While I might have gone back to private practice, perhaps in my old firm, or at another, I was dedicated to civil rights work and my first choice was to be in that field. Moreover, at that time the Department of Education, itself, was a dubious venture. President Reagan was seeking to abolish the entire department.”

There were no problems for her first few months.

“However, during the fall and winter of 1982, these began again. The comments were random, and ranged from pressing me about why I didn’t go out with him, to remarks about my personal appearance. I remember him saying that ‘some day I would have to tell him the real reason that I wouldn’t go out with him.’

“He began to show displeasure in his tone and voice and his demeanor in his continued pressure for an explanation. He commented on what I was wearing in terms of whether it made me more or less sexually attractive. The incidents occurred in his inner office at the EEOC.

“One of the oddest episodes I remember was an occasion in which Thomas was drinking a Coke in his office, he got up from the table, at which we were working, went over to his desk to get the Coke, looked at the can and asked, ‘Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?’

“On other occasions he referred to the size of his own penis as being larger than normal and he also spoke on some occasions of the pleasures he had given to women with oral sex. At this point, late 1982,1 began to feel severe stress on the job. I began to be concerned that Clarence Thomas might take out his anger with me by degrading me or not giving me important assignments. I also thought that he might find an excuse for dismissing me.

“In January 1983, I began looking for another job. I was handicapped because I feared that if he found out he might make it difficult for me to find other employment, and I might be dismissed from the job I had.

“Another factor that made my search more difficult was that this was during a period of a hiring freeze in the Government. In February 1983, I was hospitalized for 5 days on an emergency basis for acute stomach pain which I attributed to stress on the job. Once out of the hospital. I became more committed to find other employment and sought further to minimize my contact with Thomas.”

Hill ended up taking a job at Oral Roberts University.

“The dean of the university saw me teaching and inquired as to whether I would be interested in pursuing a career in teaching, beginning at Oral Roberts University. I agreed to take the job, in large part, because of my desire to escape the pressures I felt at the EEOC due to Judge Thomas.

“When I informed him that I was leaving in July, I recall that his response was that now, I would no longer have an excuse for not going out with him. I told him that I still preferred not to do so. At some time after that meeting, he asked if he could take me to dinner at the end of the term. When I declined, he assured me that the dinner was a professional courtesy only and not a social invitation. I reluctantly agreed to accept that invitation but only if it was at the very end of a working day.

“On, as I recall, the last day of my employment at the EEOC in the summer of 1983, I did have dinner with Clarence Thomas. We went directly from work to a restaurant near the office. We talked about the work that I had done both at Education and at the EEOC. He told me that he was pleased with all of it except for an article and speech that I had done for him while we were at the Office for Civil Rights. Finally he made a comment that I will vividly remember. He said, that if I ever told anyone of his behavior that it would ruin his career. This was not an apology, nor was it an explanation. That was his last remark about the possibility of our going out, or reference to his behavior.”

In case you were wondering (and who of a certain age wasn’t?), further discussions of pornographic videos Thomas had allegedly rented, including the now-famous Long Dong Silver, must’ve happened during questioning or cross-examination.1991 arlen specter

Anyway, members of the Judiciary Committee didn’t treat Prof. Hill very nicely. For reasons we don’t know and can only imagine, two women who made statements supporting Prof. Hill to Senate staffers never testified.

Then-Delaware Sen. Joe Biden (D) was committee chair. The late Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, then a Republican, gave Prof. Hill an especially hard time.

“Professor Hill, now that you have read the FBI report, you can see that it contains no reference to any mention of Judge Thomas’ private parts or sexual prowess or size, et cetera, and my question to you would be, on something that is as important as it is in your written testimony and in your responses to Senator Biden, why didn’t you tell the FBI about that?”

Déjà vu, once again.

“Professor Hill, you said that you took it to mean that Judge Thomas wanted to have sex with you, but in fact he never did ask you to have sex, correct?”

And then the former Philadelphia D.A. asked,

“What went through your mind, if anything, on whether you ought to come forward at that stage, because if you had, you would have stopped this man from being head of the EEOC perhaps for another decade? What went on through your mind? I know you decided not to make a complaint, but did you give that any consideration, and, if so, how could you allow this kind of reprehensible conduct to go on right in the headquarters, without doing something about it?”

You can see and hear some other lowlights in these clips:

2018-02-05 Anita Hill Gage Skidmore
Feb. 8, 2018: Prof. Anita Hill (by Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia)

Thomas denied everything and called the hearing a type of “high tech lynching.”

As we know, the nomination was moved to the full, Democratic-controlled, Senate, and Thomas was narrowly confirmed, 52-48.

Despite the Déjà vu, those were accusations of sexual harassment. The allegation against Kavanaugh is attempted rape.

Kavanaugh denies it happened, but he has had confirmation trouble before. In 2003, when President George W. Bush (#43) nominated him for his current job – Circuit Judge for the Federal Appeals Court, DC Circuit – it took him three years to get approved! He was considered too partisan and wasn’t sworn in until 2006.

Let’s not forget Judge Kavanaugh already has a job for life. Every federal judge does. It says so in the Constitution.

gavel judge

In fact, I got called for federal jury duty back in 1995, while producing afternoon and early evening coverage of the O.J. Simpson murder trial for WSVN in Miami. This was just before the L.A. jury was going to deliberate the verdict and we potential Miami jurors were warned, our case could last weeks.

I was angry after waiting a whole day in the courtroom doing nothing. Finally, we were questioned and I told off a federal judge using the line, “You have a job for life but I have to earn mine every day!” (You’re welcome again, Patrick and Alice!)

At the end, they divided everyone up into groups. Those in my group were very happy to be there, even though the judge hadn’t announced which group would get to go home, have to come back, etc. (Yes, we got sent home for good.) What I won’t do for a job!

So Judge Kavanaugh will not get any more job security if he is confirmed. He will just get more publicity as a justice on the nation’s highest court. (Would you still want that?) And the opportunity to influence the entire country. Also, don’t forget the ability to sell more books further into the future. Plus, maybe a movie, The Notorious B.M.K. (His middle name is Michael.)

Nina Totenberg
Nina Totenberg (NPR)

In 1987, President Reagan’s nomination of Judge Douglas Ginsburg (no relation to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, of the movie mentioned in the last paragraph) to the High Court ended with his withdrawal nine days after it was announced. Judge Ginsburg, 41, was President Reagan’s second choice after the Senate refused to confirm Judge Robert Bork.

The reason was NPR’s good ‘ol Nina Totenberg  found out Ginsburg had used marijuana “on a few occasions” as a student in the 1960s and as a Harvard Law assistant professor in the 1970s.

That was a big deal at the time. President Reagan ended up nominating David Souter and not long after, President George H.W. Bush (#41) nominated Anthony Kennedy, who – again – is retiring now. But the way the FBI conducted background checks changed forever, causing a lot of other people to have to answer questions about whether they’d experimented with smoking pot.

Judge Ginsburg continues to serve as a Senior Circuit Judge in that same Federal Appeals Court, DC Circuit, I’ve already mentioned twice. No more ‘small world’ reference. It’s getting late and two pieces of more important news just happened.

Of course, a background check is different than investigating a person who is under suspicion of a crime, but the FBI does that for the president, in order to avoid an embarrassment like the Judge Ginsburg incident. Investigations are not left to people appointed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, as was recently suggested, because that’s obviously political.

Rachel Maddow wikipedia
Rachel Maddow

Maybe this will again change the questions that candidates for high positions, who will need to be confirmed by the Senate, will have to answer. The questions will have to be more specific than whether somebody sniffed glue in high school, which was one of the additions after the Judge Ginsburg incident, as MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow showed!

Let’s stop for a moment and recognize the stories uncovered by these two female journalists.

Perhaps new questions to be asked as soon as the Kavanaugh case ends will include dates of every “base” achieved ending in loss of virginity, as the analogy has gone, which could be a threat to the privacy of willing and non-willing second parties.

Perhaps it will be the height of the #MeToo movement because it could uncover old crimes committed by men who are supposedly upstanding citizens these days. That would be an important lesson to young men with high career hopes, but probably not amount to anything because no president would nominate anybody so much more prone to rejection rather than confirmation.

And we’d never know who they are.

Besides, how many men, in addition to more women these days, would be considered 100 percent innocent of any coming-of-age antics that has probably been around since just after the introduction of the world’s oldest profession?

That brings me to a point somebody – I forgot who – brought up on Facebook last week, probably in a meme.

What about the thousands of victims of priest sexual abuse, just the ones right here in this country? They didn’t speak up right away, for obvious reasons. Should their stories not be heard, even if there’s a statute of limitations to prevent criminal charges?

Then why are people calling for a vote on Judge Kavanaugh before hearing from Dr. Blasey Ford? Should Prof. Hill have not been heard, all those years ago?

According to the York (Pa.) Daily Record, last Monday – less than a week ago – a Pittsburgh-area man and Catholic school kindergartner filed a class action suit as lead plaintiffs,

“seeking the full disclosure of all Catholic dioceses’ records concerning sexual abuse by priests. …

“The complaint notes that the recent grand jury report that identified 301 predatory priests in Pennsylvania (click here to see all 1356 pages) ‘emphasized it did not believe the report identified all predator priests and that many victims never came forward.’

“‘Lack of a complete accounting and disclosure … constitutes a clear and present danger,’ the suit concludes.”

So while Dr. Christine Blasey Ford gets ready to testify against Judge Kavanaugh this Thursday, I’ll close with two pieces of news just in and can’t be ignored as I was about to publish:

First, The New Yorker‘s Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer are reporting “Senate Democrats are investigating another allegation of sexual misconduct against” Judge Kavanaugh, this one dating from his time as an undergraduate at Yale.”

According to Axios,

“The second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, claims that Kavanaugh waved his penis in front of her face while she was inebriated at a dormitory party during the 1983-1984 academic school year. She told Farrow and Mayer that she believes an FBI investigation of Kavanaugh’s actions is warranted.”

Judge Kavanaugh’s response:

“This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen. The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple. I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name — and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building — against these last-minute allegations.”

And from White House spokesperson Kerri Kupec:

“This 35-year-old, uncorroborated claim is the latest in a coordinated smear campaign by the Democrats designed to tear down a good man. This claim is denied by all who were said to be present and is wholly inconsistent with what many women and men who knew Judge Kavanaugh at the time in college say. The White House stands firmly behind Judge Kavanaugh.”

On the Judiciary Committee: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

Christine Blasey Ford
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

Then, “just minutes” after that accusation, according to Axios,

“The office of Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley released the unredacted initial letter” Dr. Blasey Ford “sent to Sen. Dianne Feinstein in July detailing her account of the (alleged) incident” that both Dr. Blasey Ford and Sen. Feinstein expected to remain confidential.

It’s out and you can read it here.

To me, it looks like another alleged victim has just been betrayed.

Folks, will this ever end?

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Comey comes alive with tough talk against Trump

comey bookI didn’t know much about James Comey until about two years ago. Since then, I thought pretty highly of the guy and that really hasn’t changed.

Arguably, Comey was the big political story of the week – so far.

Today, his new book A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership was officially released and Sunday, it was ABC News’ 20/20 that got the first interview in the Comey media blitz to promote it.

One hour of George Stephanopoulos’ five hour interview aired Sunday night, at least in most places.

I say that because a TV news director friend in Virginia wrote about the nasty reception he and his team got because they had to break away to report on severe storms (a technical term, not just anybody’s opinion) and a tornado warning in the area. See and read for yourself how potentially saving lives, safety and property turned into a major inconvenience from some loudmouths. Always has, always will. Good thing this wasn’t a soap opera! I especially love the comment that people were able to watch the interview at another time on demand, or watch clips and commentary on any channel for days after.

shane

I have to say, his problem could’ve been worse. I don’t know what the CBS station there – his competition – did. They were carrying the Academy of Country Music Awards and this was Virginia!comey widener

Anyway, James Comey is scheduled to be in Philadelphia as part of Widener University’s Philadelphia Speakers Series at the Kimmel Center. That’s Oct. 1 at 8.

Widener’s bio says,

“Comey was appointed Deputy U.S. Attorney General by President George W. Bush. Appointed FBI Director in 2013 by President Obama, he served until 2017 when fired by President Trump amidst political storms regarding the investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.”

Sounds like a serious career guy who had important supporters in both parties who promoted him to positions of increasing responsibility.

I was sick and asleep, and didn’t watch the Stephanopoulos-Comey interview. I saw some clips on Monday.

According to this ABCNews.com article that was published in the middle of the interview (10:22pm), everyone including Comey thought Hillary Clinton was going to win the election and become the nation’s first female president. He said he believes President “Obama, possibly Russian President Vladimir Putin and even” Donald Trump “thought Clinton was going to win, too.”

hillary clinton donald trump

Meanwhile, Comey was leading the investigation of Clinton’s handling of emails. ABC News reported, “He says that the assumption of a Clinton victory ‘must have’ influenced his actions in the email investigation, though he says not consciously.”

“I was operating in a world where Hillary Clinton was gonna beat Donald Trump. And so I’m sure that it was a factor,” Comey admitted. “Like I said, I don’t remember spelling it out, but it had to have been. That she’s gonna be elected president, and if I hide this from the American people, she’ll be illegitimate the moment she’s elected, the moment this comes out,” he told Stephanopoulos. That’s understandable and believable for someone in a tough position.

After the election and its surprising results to many, he said, “I heard the president [Obama] say, as I recount in the book, ‘Putin backed the wrong horse.’ That is, all of us were operating in a world where the polls were showing that Donald Trump had no chance.”

Comey added, “Obama’s remark was made in relation to when and if the intelligence community and White House should go public with their findings about Russian interference in the election.”

Specifically, “I think what the president meant by that was the Russian effort is wasted,” according to Comey, “and so why should we help them by announcing what they’re doing when their work is not gonna achieve their goal?”

Stephanopoulos mentioned an announcement like that

“would give people a reason to question the outcome of the election” and Comey agreed, since “Donald Trump was already saying, ‘If I lose, that means the system is rigged.’ And so if the Obama administration comes out saying, ‘The Russians are trying to help elect Donald Trump,’ that walks right into his narrative that’s, ‘See, I told ya,’ that the whole system is fixed and you can’t trust the American democratic process. And the Russians would have accomplished their goal.”

But he decided to keep the fact the FBI was investigating interactions between a “small number of Americans” from the Trump campaign and Russians private until months after the election.

hillary clinton book“That was actually not a hard call, given the sensitivity of the matter and that it was ongoing. We didn’t wanna tip anybody off,” he explained, adding President Obama didn’t want to be seen as having tipped the scale in Clinton’s favor.

Clinton wrote in her book What Happened, she “felt I’d been shivved” by Comey “three times over the final five months of the campaign.”

That’s not entirely true, considering Comey went on national TV less than five months before, specifically described what his FBI investigation found what Clinton had and had not done, and concluded she should not face charges.

Statement by FBI Director James B. Comey on the Investigation of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s Use of a Personal E-Mail System
July 5, 2016

“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information. … None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government—or even with a commercial service like Gmail.”

Then, with the FBI’s recommendation to the Department of Justice:

“Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges. There are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent. Responsible decisions also consider the context of a person’s actions, and how similar situations have been handled in the past.
“In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.
“To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.”

Sounds great for the Democrats who were a shoo-in against Donald Trump, right? That was four months and three days before the election but may as well have been years before Americans went to the polls.

In fact, the Democratic National Convention here in Philadelphia wasn’t even held until July 25-28 and some Bernie Sanders supporters hadn’t given up, despite the delegate count including superdelegates who make up just under 15 percent of all Democratic convention delegates. And they were angry over the party machine including Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Donna Brazile.

Trump had just won the nomination a week earlier, July 18-21, at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. That was despite speculation everyone in the GOP against Trump would suddenly embrace somebody else.

But who could forget Comey coming out late on that Friday, just 11 days before the election?

According to Politico on Oct. 28, 2016 – you may even remember when you heard the news – “Democrats have soured on James Comey.

“In July, they praised the FBI director’s decision not to recommend charges against Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state. But on Friday, top party officials turned on Comey. …
“Comey sent a letter to several congressional leaders to inform them that the FBI had come across new emails pertinent to its Clinton investigation and would take additional steps to look into them, adding that the FBI did not yet know if the emails were significant and that he did not yet know when the additional review would be finished.
“The letter set off a political firestorm. And while Republicans pounced, Democrats fumed.”

Those new emails were from disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s computer. Weiner was married to Huma Abedin – then vice chair of Clinton’s campaign and before that, deputy chief of staff to the former Secretary of State.

Comey replied “I hope not” to Clinton’s assertion she’d be president if not for the release of the letter 11 days before the election “in which he announced that the FBI would be looking into more emails.”

“But the honest answer is, it wouldn’t change the way I think about it,” he added.

The next day, Politico reported,

“Hillary Clinton and her aides and allies forcefully criticized FBI Director James Comey .. demanding that he release more information about the bureau’s discovery of Clinton-related emails and criticizing him for bad timing.
“At a campaign rally in Daytona Beach, Fla., Clinton said it was ‘pretty strange’ for Comey to ‘put something like that out with such little information right before an election,’ adding: ‘In fact, it’s not just strange; it’s unprecedented and it is deeply troubling.’”

I don’t believe James Comey hated Hillary Clinton. She was the favorite in the Comey house.

He said in addition to his wife, Patrice, “At least my four daughters, probably all five of my kids, wanted Hillary Clinton to be the first woman president.”

He, himself, told Stephanopoulos he didn’t vote in that election and testified on Capitol Hill that year he’d “been a registered Republican for most of his adult life but wasn’t any longer.”

Comey told lawmakers,

“I’m trying to be outside of politics so [I] intentionally tried not to follow it a lot. And that I shouldn’t be choosing between the candidates. I’m trying to lead an institution that should be separate and other.”

And what about accusations Comey, as ABC News put it, “disclosed a great deal of information about the investigation into Clinton’s emails but did not immediately release information about the probe into some members of Trump’s team and their alleged contacts with Russians?”

He said there were fundamental differences in the cases.

“The Clinton email case … was public, and we were actually investigating the candidate herself; and the counterintelligence investigations trying to figure out whether a small group of people, not Donald Trump — we were not investigating Donald Trump. …
“I get the initial reaction. It seems inconsistent. But if you take the time and look at the posture of the two cases, they’re very, very different. And actually illustrate the rule that we’re following.”

Most of what I heard was Comey going off on the man who fired him last May, President Trump. (Did anybody expect forgiveness?!)

The firing happened while Comey was

“leading a criminal investigation into whether Mr. Trump’s advisers colluded with the Russian government to steer the outcome of the 2016 presidential election,” according to The New York Times. “The stunning development in Mr. Trump’s presidency raised the specter of political interference by a sitting president into an existing investigation by the nation’s leading law enforcement agency. It immediately ignited Democratic calls for a special counsel to lead the Russia inquiry.”

(See: Mueller, Robert and presidential mistakes.)

trump letter firing comey

The Times continued,

“Mr. Trump explained the firing by citing Mr. Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, even though the president was widely seen to have benefited politically from that inquiry and had once praised Mr. Comey for his “guts” in his pursuit of Mrs. Clinton during the campaign. …
“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice (reportedly Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein) that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau,” Mr. Trump wrote to Comey.
“But,” the paper continued, “many in Washington, including veteran F.B.I. officers, saw a carefully choreographed effort by the president to create a pretense for a takedown of the president’s F.B.I. tormentor.”

Comey called Trump unfit to lead the nation, saying the president is “someone for whom truth is not a high value” and who treats women “like they’re pieces of meat.” (I didn’t hear a great deal of defense for the president.)

He touched on many of the Trump administration scandals.

The Huffington Post mentions the Russia dossier “compiled by a former British spy and alleged that footage exists of Trump watching prostitutes urinating in a Moscow hotel suite,” and the litany of sexual misconduct allegations.

The Post reported,

“Comey informed Trump about the allegations in private before his inauguration several times, and he writes in his book that Trump was obsessed with disproving them.”

Comey recalled the president asking, “Do I look like a guy who needs hookers?”

He said he wasn’t sure if the rumors were true,

“but said they left the president open to blackmail by the Russian government.
“I honestly never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but I don’t know whether the ― the ― current president of the United States was with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow in 2013. It’s possible, but I don’t know,” Comey said.

He said something similar when Stephanopoulos asked if he thought Russia had “something” on the president.

“I think it’s possible,” Comey said. “I don’t know. These are more words I never thought I’d utter about a president of the United States, but it’s possible.”

Other interview highlights chosen by The Huffington Post:

— In regards to Trump asking Comey to drop his investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, there was “certainly some evidence of obstruction of justice.”

— Comey said Trump was “of above average intelligence who’s tracking conversations and knows what’s going on.”

Comey summed it up.

“The challenge of this president is that he will stain everyone around him,” but said he’d still be working for the government had he not been removed.

“I was dreading it,” Comey said, noting he’d be “an unhappy F.B.I. director, but in a way proud of the organization and in my role in trying to protect it.”

According to TVNewser, “That took my breath away,” Stephanopoulos said of Comey’s retelling of events. “I thought I knew this story. Collectively we weren’t really ready for everything that he was getting ready to say.”

Republicans had their say about Comey and the interview. In fact, it was apparently on the president’s mind for days.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later said Comey would “be forever known as a disgraced partisan hack that broke his sacred trust with the president of the United States.”

Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement,

“James Comey’s publicity tour reaffirms that his true higher loyalty is to himself . … The only thing worse than Comey’s history of misconduct is his willingness to say anything to sell books. He has no credibility and President Trump was right to follow through on the bipartisan calls for him to be fired.”

Who didn’t try to sell their books?

Comey responded in part, “3 presidents are in my book: 2 help illustrate the values at the heart of ethical leadership; 1 serves as a counterpoint.”

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership has already sold close to 200,000 copies.

By the way, President Bush’s brother Jeb – the former Florida governor who lost to Trump in the primaries and caucuses – will be speaking as part of the same Widener University Philadelphia Speakers Series on Jan. 28, 2019, at 8.

P.S. Condolences to the Bush family on the loss of former first lady Barbara Bush today

and to the

loved ones of Jennifer Riordan, killed in today’s Southwest Airlines tragedy here in Philadelphia.

Sad Face Emoji

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Salaries, senators and a spat between a Fox News host and the A.P.

I’m actually going to start optimistically and thank you for reading. The blog is getting very close and may have 12,000 hits after this post. (It’s at 11,927 as I start formatting at 7:11pm). Please, if you haven’t, subscribe with your email address or WordPress account. There are places on the right side of your desktop screen, and also at the bottom of your desktop, tablet and mobile device.Michael Cohen trump lawyer twitter

I also want to remind you I’m NOT RELATED to President Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, who’s being investigated for possible bank fraud, wire fraud and campaign finance violations. The Washington Post named those possibilities “according to three people with knowledge of the case.”

Nobody in my family is under investigation, as far as I know. We have no comment in English or Russian.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders now says Trump thinks special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has “gone too far,” according to Axios.

map manhattanYesterday, FBI agents raided Cohen’s Manhattan office, home and hotel room as part of the investigation, seizing records about his clients and personal finances. The Post didn’t mention why he needed both a home and hotel room in the same New York borough.

It did report,

“Among the records taken were those related to a 2016 payment Cohen made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who claims to have had a sexual encounter with Trump, according to a fourth person familiar with the investigation.”

The New York Times went even further (I didn’t say all the way), reporting the FBI wanted info on payments to Karen McDougal, who also had an affair with now-President Trump. They were also looking for any potential role from the publisher of The National Enquirer.

The feds even collected communications between Cohen and his clients, including between the president and his lawyer.

The raids were part of an investigation referred by special counsel Robert Mueller to federal prosecutors in New York but

“the agents were acting on a warrant ‘personally signed off on’ by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Axios mentioned The Times noted. President Trump has increasingly pushed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to shut down the broader Mueller probe.”

But a former U.S. attorney told Axios,

“Here’s what must have happened: Mueller bumped into evidence of criminal conduct that was beyond his scope, so he referred it to the Rod. … Stormy is almost certainly just the tip of the iceberg. Cohen’s lawyer said the [search warrant] was based ‘in part’ on referral by Mueller. I expect that after getting the initial referral, the SDNY (federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York) started poking around and developed independent interest for obtaining the SW (search warrant).”

A Cohen lawyer called the tactics “inappropriate and unnecessary.”

Trump repeatedly called the raid a disgrace, saying,

“I have this witch hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now or longer. It’s an attack on our country in a true sense; it’s an attack on what we all stand for.”

According to The Post, the fraud allegations

“suggest prosecutors have some reason to think Cohen may have misled bankers about why he was using particular funds or may have improperly used banks in the transfer of funds. Cohen has acknowledged facilitating a $130,000 payment in October 2016 to Daniels, who claims she had a sexual relationship with Trump in 2006.”

Last week was the first time Trump talked about the payment. He said he didn’t know about it.

The Post also reports “Cohen has said he used a home-equity line of credit to finance the payment to Daniels” and “Banks don’t usually require much explanation from customers about how they use such credit lines.”

But Cohen may have been asked about making – get this – “large-dollar transfers he made when he moved the money to a shell company and then to a lawyer for Daniels.”

He said “neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign reimbursed the $130,000.”

According to The Post, the payment allegation could mean investigators are looking into possible violations of election law.

According to a source close to the president,

“Mueller’s investigation has been drip, drip. This was a giant leap forward … a personal hit. … They were moving in inches. Today, they moved a mile.”

Post Columnist Randall D. Eliason called it

Robert Mueller wikipedia
Robert Mueller

“yet another example of the legal walls closing in on one of the people closest to Trump — someone who may have a wealth of information about the president’s own conduct.”

He points out Mueller didn’t obtain the warrant himself, but referred it to New York prosecutors, so “Whatever the subject matter of this particular investigation, it apparently falls outside of Mueller’s jurisdiction” like a conspiracy with Russians to influence the election or related crimes such as obstruction of the special counsel’s investigation.

Also, it takes more to get a search warrant than a grand jury subpoena, so prosecutors had “to go before a federal judge to demonstrate probable cause that a crime has been committed and evidence of that crime can be found in the premises to be searched.”

Plus, “that the raid took place at a lawyer’s office further highlights the seriousness of the investigation. Searches of an attorney’s office are extremely rare and are not favored, due to their potential to impinge on the attorney-client relationship.”

white houseEliason adds, “And to the extent that Cohen, part of Trump’s innermost circle, might have knowledge relevant to Mueller’s inquiry, we can’t rule out the possibility that his own legal troubles could induce him to cooperate in the Russia investigation.”

He started his column with the summary,

“When your lawyers need lawyers, it’s usually a bad sign. When your lawyers have their offices and homes raided, it’s a really bad sign.”

Sanders said she isn’t sure if Cohen still represents Trump, but Trump hasn’t spoken to Cohen since the raid and thinks he has the power to fire Mueller if he – as Sanders put it – “chooses to do so.” We’ll see if that happens and what Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ future holds.

Click here for what The Post reports Trump said, along with some fact-checking and analysis.

 

Again, to reiterate, no relation, but I’m sure my whole family is equally as interested as the rest of the country.

howard kurtz
http://www.foxnews.com/shows/media-buzz.html

Fox News “Media Buzz” host Howard Kurtz has defended the president and also his network, but something may have slipped through the cracks.

Sunday, reports “said his Sunday show mistakenly posted a graphic that showed the cable network is less trusted than its competitors.” Actually, a new poll shows that’s absolutely true, by far.

The Washington Post explained, “Kurtz had been talking about a new Monmouth University poll on ‘fake news’ and American trust in the media.”

That’s when this graphic appeared on-screen that Chris Cuomo, of CNN’s New Day, later tweeted out.

“Do the media report fake news regularly or occasionally?” Kurtz asked, according to The Post. “Seventy-seven percent say yes.”

But “Kurtz quickly noticed” and said, “This is not the graphic we’re looking for. Hold off. Take that down please.”

Yesterday, Kurtz he went on a diatribe against the A.P. on Facebook because the control room put the graphic up too early, causing the A.P. to say it created “a false impression by not mentioning that I called for the very same graphic shortly afterward.”

Kurtz wrote as part of that diatribe you can read in full, below, if you wish, “The Associated Press should be embarrassed by a story that utterly distorts what happened. … The news agency had published a story with the headline, ‘Fox News mistakenly posts graphic showing it lags in trust,’” which has since been corrected.

What Kurtz wrote matches the graphic.

The most trusted cable networks vs. Trump – in order – are CNN first, MSNBC just three percentage points behind and Fox News way behind. Another major point: Trump loses to all three cable news networks in trust. Now, let me ask: Do you trust the cable news networks?

most trusted poll

Keep in mind that Monmouth reports the 77 percent “believe fake news reporting happens at least occasionally has increased significantly from 63 percent of the public who felt that way last year.” So trust in news reporting is down significantly and trust in Trump is even lower than that.

Click here for a link to the poll and results. The part concerning the Kurtz issue is in the “Trump versus Cable News” section.

This time, Kurtz and his network were right, and the A.P. was wrong, but let’s face it. That certainly doesn’t entitle anybody to bragging rights in this spat.

Mark Zuckerberg faced a joint session of the Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees about Facebook’s failures.

According to Axios, he apologized to lawmakers for not handling user data properly, but “didn’t waver in defending the company’s business model or its value to society.”

“He said Facebook is going through a ‘broader philosophical shift in how we approach our responsibility as a company’” after “data firm Cambridge Analytica inappropriately accessed the data of 87 million Facebook users.”

featured fb zuckerberg cambridge

Some other takeaways from the man at the top, and Axios:

– Facebook didn’t tell the Federal Trade Commission, with whom it has a privacy settlement, about the Cambridge Analytica situation when it occurred because it thought the firm had deleted the data. You know what happens when you assume!facebook phone mobile

– Zuckerberg didn’t know if Special Counsel Robert Mueller subpoenaed Facebook, but Mueller’s team interviewed Facebook staffers.

– Why didn’t Facebook tell millions of users they’d been affected by the Cambridge Analytica incident in 2015, or ban the data firm then? Zuckerberg initially said the company hadn’t been an advertiser in 2015, but found out after meeting with his staff that in fact they had been later in that year — so they could have been banned.

– Question from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on privacy concerns. He asked Zuckerberg what hotel he’s staying at in Washington. Zuckerberg wouldn’t say.

– Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and others wanted to know whether Facebook handles content in a way that skews liberal. Zuckerberg denied that, and also Cruz’s suggestion Facebook might weigh job candidates’ political views.

– Some good news for many: Senators talked about regulation but Zuckerberg responded, “there will always be a version of Facebook that is free.”

Even better for some: Facebook shares climbed 4.5 percent, mostly while Zuckerberg testified. There could be three reasons, according to Axios: Zuckerberg is considered a competent leader, Congress probably won’t impose strict regulations and a possible paid product for users demanding stronger privacy protections could make money. Zuckerberg made about $2.8 billion in the market, this afternoon. What about you?

– Zuckerberg may have gotten the last word, but not the first. Senate Democrats Edward Markey (Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) did. They “introduced ‘privacy bill of rights’ legislation” – “the first concrete piece of legislation to come from the Facebook controversy, and … attempt to apply privacy to web companies like Facebook and Google,” according to Axios. “The bill would direct the FTC to require companies to get consumers’ opt-in consent before using, sharing or selling their personal information.”

I couldn’t finish a blog without the name Sinclair somewhere. I’ve showed you here and here how local news organizations remain the most trusted source of information in Pew Research Center’s polling on trust in media – even though in January, a Pew Research Center report announced fewer Americans regularly rely on TV news, down to 50 percent of U.S. adults, from 57 percent a year prior.

sinclair broadcast group

Now, The Poynter Institute says Emory University researchers found

“many TV local news stations are focusing more on national politics and have taken a rightward slant over the past year. And that move is stemming from ownership of the stations, not the demands of a local audience.”

Poynter notes, “The study comes just as many are raising concerns about a coordinated effort by one major owner of TV stations that forces its anchors to record a segment about ‘the troubling trend of irresponsible, one-sided news stories plaguing our country.’” Want to take a guess which one that is?

The researchers examined 7.5 million transcript segments from 743 local news stations and saw huge differences between other stations, and outlets owned by the nation’s largest local broadcasting chain, Sinclair Broadcast Group.

“The authors found Sinclair stations, on average, carried about a third less local politics coverage and a quarter more national politics … (including) commentaries the stations are forced to run by former Trump official Boris Epshteyn.”

Boris Epshteyn clip artAlso, a summary of the findings “noted the shift to the right of new Sinclair stations: The ‘slant scores,’ based on repetition of ideologically linked phrases, increased by about one standard deviation after acquisition by Sinclair as compared to other stations in the same markets.” We know Sinclair has been trying to buy another big group, Tribune Media.Tribune Broadcasting Company

Researchers warn this programming could spur nationalistic and polarizing movements, “be expected to reduce viewers’ knowledge of the activities of local officials” — and hurt accountability, especially “given the decline of local print media,” they write.

BTW, the GOP is saying IDK when it comes to deregulating legacy media companies, like Sinclair. It would let them compete with tech companies like Facebook, which could face more regulation. Regulating industry usually takes consensus, which is one thing Congress is lacking. (FYI, BTW=By the way and IDK=I don’t know.)

WORKING WOMEN WIN: The Washington Post reports, “A federal appeals court ruled Monday that employers cannot justify paying a woman less than a man doing similar work because of her salary history — a move advocates say will help close the wage gap between the sexes.”

Why should a lower salary history apply to just women? Don’t most minorities suffer the same way, and even white men?

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, relatively liberal, would’ve done better by taking all workers into account.

woman doctorA woman who trained educators on how to better teach math sued her employer of three years after learning her male colleagues made significantly more money, despite having less experience.

In court, her

“employer admitted that her salary was lower and argued that the discrepancy stemmed from her prior salary — which, it asserted, had nothing to do with her gender.”

woman on computerThe Post reports in the U.S., women earn an average of 82 cents for every dollar paid to men, according to the latest Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings – up from 60.2 cents for every dollar in 1980 “but the chasm hasn’t narrowed much over the last 15 years.”

Then, the article goes into how much less minorities make, which I already mentioned.

There is one victory: Since the suit, Delaware, Massachusetts, California, Oregon and Puerto Rico all passed laws blocking managers from requesting an applicant’s prior salary.

That should go for every state. A person’s worth when they’re hired should not depend on what they made at a previous job. It’s also another reason labor unions should be more powerful.

working men women

SAUDIS VS. SYRIA: Saudi Arabia will join France, the UK and of course the US, if necessary, after Syria used chemical gas on its own people yet again. That’s according to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. President Trump is warning forceful action is coming. On the other hand, Russia repeated itself and vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would further investigate and determine responsibility for Saturday’s attack. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley told the council, “Russia chose protecting a monster over the lives of the Syrian people.” And Turkey is telling the 3 million Syrian refugees it took in to go home. Impeccable timing!

PRESIDENT CANCELS PERU VISIT: Friday and Saturday’s Summit of the Americas in Peru “was to be the centerpiece of President Trump’s first visit to Latin America, and the first time he met many of the region’s leaders.” Instead, Trump suddenly announced he won’t go and will send Vice President Mike Pence instead. Trump will stay in Washington to focus on Syria.

COMING AND GOING: Today, it’s official. The Trump White House has had more first-year departures than any other president in at least 40 years. The latest is White House homeland security advisor Tom Bossert. We hear he earned his freedom. But today, John Bolton started as President Trump’s new national security adviser — his third in 13 months.

Goodbye!

P.S. Maybe a little less news and a bit more nonsense next time. 🙂