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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Rooting for a Recession???

The desperate GOP accuses Dems, media for craving an economic downturn.

You have to hand it to the Republicans for their ability to create excuses when things aren’t going their way.  President Trump, seeing his re-election prospects dimming by the findings from a FOX News poll,  has started to re-launch one of his favorite B.S. excuses: voter fraud.  It is a metaphysical certainty that should Trump go down to defeat in 2020, he will state without equivocation and without evidence that voter fraud turned the election against him. And Lord knows what else he might do or say.

Following the recent gargantuan stock market drop that included a striking 800-plus loss from the Dow, talk of the R-word (recession), started to surface.  The prospect of a recession in the not-too-distant future emanated from numerous well-respected economists. But because the media covered these alarm signals, the media as well as Democrats and other opponents of Donald Trump are being targeted by Trump supporters for as they see it, rooting for this to happen.  Why? A recession would hurt the chances for Trump’s reelection.  #hocopolitics

Simply put, a recession is an economic phenomenon when there is negative economic growth for two consecutive quarters.  Consumer confidence is down; consumer spending, which is the principal driver of the economy, is sharply reduced; the stock market heads south; the national debt heads north; and businesses tend to lay off workers . 

Coincidence or not, according to MarketWatch, every Republican president since Teddy Roosevelt has had to deal with a recession in his first term.  These are cyclical events that follow years of robust economic expansion. 

A recession or a significant downturn in the economy would eliminate the main rationale for Trump’s re-election. He has prided himself and has taken all the credit for what has been up to now--a strong economy.  Yet, as the New York Times explains,  Trump’s on again, off again trade war with China has exacerbated the uncertainty among business leaders and that has sparked the talk of a slow-down.

Knowing that, his supporters are accusing Democrats with the help of the liberal media of creating a fertile environment for a recession by rooting for it to happen. Here’s a sampling from Twitter:

To be fair, anti-Trump comedian Bill Maher has indicated on several occasions that he is rooting for a recession to hurt Trump in his re-election bid. But Maher is in the minority and he is unlikely to be severely impacted financially from such an outcome.

However, millions of other Americans will suffer.  A recession is not something to long for even if makes you feel better politically. It’s like hoping to catch the flu to avoid school or work. Recessions are caused by myriad domestic and global factors but cheering them on is not one of them.

The point is, the GOP strategy is to preemptively pin the blame of a possible recession on the Dems and the media to mitigate the political damage it would cause the president in his reelection chances.  For his part,  Trump has primarily pointed his fingers at the Chairman of the Federal Reserve for his monetary policies as the cause of a potential recession. 

From Trump's corruption, to incompetence, to racism, to whiplash reversals of policy statements through tweets, the Democrats have seemingly unlimited ways to make the case against Trump.  They shouldn't need a faltering economy to win in 2020, and they are certainly not wishing for one. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Art Exhibit in Columbia Attempts to Combat Hate

Recent tragic mass shootings have pushed the topic of hate to the forefront of our conversations. Data  indicate that in the past few years, there has been a discernible rise in hate crimes and hate bias incidents throughout the U.S. against various minority populations including those perpetrated against the LGBTQ community.

For five years, a project called Erase Hate Through Art has attempted to bring awareness to hate in general but particularly towards those actions directed against the LGBTQ community through an art exhibition in Columbia.

The sixth annual Erase Hate Through Art (EHTA) exhibition will take place on Sunday, October 6 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Columbia Art Center, 6100 Foreland Garth, Columbia, MD 21045. Admission is Free.

According to the event’s planners, “The exhibition will feature the artworks of artists exploring various themes associated with bullying and hate crimes as a means of prevention. EHTA was born of a desire to raise awareness of hate crimes and bullying against the LGBTQ community. Today the exhibition explores the impact of these crimes against all segments of society.

“Contributing artists work in all mediums to study the crimes and the impact they have on the victims and their loved ones. Net proceeds of sales are donated to The Matthew Shepard Erase Hate Campaign.”

I had reviewed the debut exhibit five years ago for the Washington Blade.  At that exhibit, there were 10 artists displaying multiple pieces that represent a wide swath of art depicting for the most part images of victims of hate and bullying. The works included multi-media art, sculpture, photography, stained glass and paintings.  

For further information, you may find Erase Hate Through Art on Facebook.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Call It What It Is: White Nationalist Domestic Terrorism

Remember how President Barack Obama was incessantly berated for refusing to utter the phrase, “Radical Islamic Terrorism.” For virtually his entire two terms, right wing radio, cable TV propagandists and conservative newspapers as well as Republican politicians jumped on the bandwagon that Obama must be a secret Muslim if he can’t spit out those words.

In fact, then candidate Donald Trump in 2016 told Fox and Friends, “People cannot—they cannot believe that President Obama is acting the ways he acts and can’t even mention the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism.’ There’s something going on. It’s inconceivable.”

Later, the horrific mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub, an establishment primarily frequented by gay people whereby 49 innocent souls were slaughtered, led Trump to reference the incident in his speech accepting the nomination for President.

“Only weeks ago, in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist. This time, the terrorist targeted our LGBT community. As your president, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.”

The identity politics reporter Eugene Scott for The Fix pointed out in an op-ed in the Washington Post, “Cynics noted that it was [shooter Omar] Mateen’s loyalty to the Islamist terrorist group [ISIL] that led the then-nominee to address the mass murder more than his concern for the safety of gay Americans.”

The distinction is not lost on many in our country and around the world. An ISIL sympathizer murders people and is labeled a foreign terrorist.  However, in a span of 6 days, three mass shootings have occurred and very few on the GOP side of the aisle including Trump—largely the same ones who relentlessly accused Obama of not using the phrase “radical Islamist terrorists”—have called out these murders as domestic terrorism.

As people debate the reasons why Trump is not condemning white nationalist domestic terrorism with the same vehemence as he slams African-American lawmakers, majority black cities and Hispanic immigrants, it is well documented  that since Trump took office there has been a significant rise of hate crimes in the U.S. and hate bias incidents and in particular, where Trump has held rallies.

Moreover, mass shootings or other attempts to terrorize communities that are rooted in white nationalism are becoming too routine now. They have been met with no response from Senate Republicans and so far, no action has been taken on a House-passed bi-partisan sensible gun bill though they offer a plethora of thoughts and prayers and well-deserved praise for first responders.

Republicans who are aligned with Trump (just about all of them) see these incidents as mental health-related outbursts.  But not all of these perpetrators are linked with mental health problems. To kill anyone other than self-defense, to me, is a mental health problem.  Some are self-professed white nationals, virulently opposed to persons of color and yes, supporters of Trump.

It is obvious the reason Trump has yet to demonstrate any leadership on this growing problem or acknowledge that white nationalism is becoming an epidemic is that these individuals constitute a portion of his passionate and loyal base. You know how the president values loyalty; he is loath to throw them under the bus.  He is all about his base and the 2020 election.

While Trump should not be accused of directly inciting the violence we are witnessing with all-too-common frequency in the form of mass shootings, his divisive and incendiary racist rhetoric in the form of tweets, comments at press gaggles and speeches at campaign rallies, he has wittingly created an atmosphere whereby some of his ardent supporters have picked up signals and have acted upon it.

“He empowers hateful and potentially violent individuals with his divisive rhetoric and his unwillingness to unequivocally denounce white supremacy,” writes Frank Figliuzzi, a former assistant F.B.I. director for counterintelligence and a national security analyst for NBC News, in an op-ed  in the New York Times.

“Mr. Trump may be understandably worried about the course of congressional inquiries, but his aggressive and race-baiting responses have been beyond the pale. He has chosen a re-election strategy based on appealing to the kinds of hatred, fear and ignorance that can lead to violence.”

In Trump’s recent racist tweets and his combustible campaign rally in North Carolina where the unimpeded “send her back” chants reverberated among the foaming-at-the-mouth Trump cultists, white nationalists or those close sympathizers of the cause have applauded him even if they were not in the arena itself.   ADL, a leading anti-hate organization, documents  the validation by these folks resulting from Trump’s communications.

For his part, Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney disputes Trump’s role in the violence. On the August 4 edition of Meet the Press, he argued that the blame lies squarely on the “sick” people who “pulled the trigger.”

“I get the fact that some people don’t approve of the verbiage the president uses, I get that,” Mulvaney said. “But even if they did … people are going to hear what they want to hear.”

As we navigate through another tragic carnage-filled crime scene, we desperately continue to seek answers. The loved ones of the innocent victims are faced with these horrific losses and no amount of thoughts and no amount of prayers will mitigate their grief.

Gun restrictions will not stop many of these incidents though background checks are the right way to go for starters. And still, I cannot fathom why semi-automatic assault weapons and high capacity magazines should be obtained so readily. 

But we also need to hear from our leaders to confirm that much of the recent atrocities have been committed by white nationalist bigots.  Dialing back the divisive rhetoric would be a good first step.

Calling these crimes white nationalist domestic terrorism is what is needed, and efforts by law enforcement should be undertaken with the same zeal as they attempt to check foreign terrorism. 

Note that foreign terrorism is a federal crime. Domestic terrorism is not.