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Monday, April 30, 2018

Trump's Michigan Rally Goes Off the Rails: A Closer Look

What Vulgar Remarks? Trump and Nigeria’s Leader Studiously Avoid a Clash - The New York Times

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WASHINGTON — In January, when word got out that President Trump had disparaged African nations in vulgar terms during an Oval Office rant about immigration policy, his remarks were met with alarm and outrage by leaders and others on the continent.

But on Monday at the White House, both Mr. Trump and President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, the first leader from sub-Saharan Africa to visit him at the White House, carefully avoided the topic, professing mutual respect for each other and their respective countries at a cordial news conference.

Lawmakers in the room with Mr. Trump in January said he had used the term “shithole countries” to describe African nations, an accusation he has previously denied. But he did not do so on Monday, instead appearing to try to justify its spirit by noting that many countries in Africa are riddled with problems.

“You do have some countries that are in very bad shape and very tough places to live in,” Mr. Trump said during a news conference with Mr. Buhari in the Rose Garden, asked by a reporter about his use of vulgarity to describe Africa. “But we didn’t discuss it because the president knows me, and he knows where I’m coming from, and I appreciate that.”

Mr. Buhari, for his part, said he was not certain whether to believe the reports about Mr. Trump’s comments.

“I’m very careful with what the press says,” he said. “I’m not sure about the validity, or whether that allegation against the president was true or not, so the best thing for me is to keep quiet.”

There was no keeping African leaders quiet a few months ago when Mr. Trump made the remarks in front of lawmakers and advisers. The New York Times had already reported that in an Oval Office meeting last June, Mr. Trump had commented privately that Nigerians who obtained visas to enter the United States could never be expected to return to their “huts” back home once they had seen the bounty of the country. But it was the later remark that struck a bitter chord throughout Africa.

Nigeria’s foreign minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, summoned the United States ambassador to explain Mr. Trump’s comments and seek clarification, “stressing that if they were true, they were deeply hurtful, offensive and unacceptable,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement at the time.

Botswana, Ghana, Haiti, Namibia, Senegal and the African Union all protested Mr. Trump’s comments, some openly calling them racist; Botswana even repeated Mr. Trump’s choice of words in pointedly asking the United States “to clarify if Botswana” was such a country.

Mr. Trump has since tried to make amends. He wrote a letter to African nations saying that he “deeply respects” the people of Africa, and that he would dispatch Rex W. Tillerson, then his secretary of state, for an extended visit to the continent in March. The letter prompted the African Union to refrain from issuing a resolution criticizing Mr. Trump’s remark and demanding an apology.

Mr. Tillerson did travel to the region in March, but his trip was overshadowed by his abrupt firing during the visit.

On Monday, Mr. Trump and Mr. Buhari emphasized areas of agreement, and went out of their way to praise each other.

“I have great respect for the president,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Buhari. Nigeria, he said, was a “valued partner and a good friend,” later adding that “there’s no country more beautiful.”

The two spoke of their cooperation and coordination on security matters, including counterterrorism efforts against the Islamic State and Boko Haram, and Mr. Trump said he was pleased to be selling a dozen A-29 Super Tucano warplanes to Nigeria. The sale of the planes, long sought by the Nigerians, had been held by the Obama administration amid concerns about human rights abuses by Nigeria’s military.

Mr. Buhari, for his part, congratulated Mr. Trump for the “impressive” performance of the American economy, and credited him for playing a “statesmanly role” with North Korea that has led to discussions on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

The friendly exchange may have masked the bitterness that lingers among Nigerians and other Africans about Mr. Trump’s remarks, said John Campbell, a former United States ambassador to Nigeria and a senior fellow for Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“They found it deeply offensive, and whenever I meet with Africans now, they always mention it,” Mr. Campbell said. However, he added, Mr. Buhari arrived at the White House on Monday as a supplicant with important security challenges that he needs American help to confront.

“Looking at it from the perspective of President Buhari: What on earth can he say at this stage about these comments, which the president at times denies having said at all?” Mr. Campbell said. “It might make you feel better, but practically, it doesn’t accomplish anything.”

What Vulgar Remarks? Trump and Nigeria’s Leader Studiously Avoid a Clash - The New York Times: ""

 

WASHINGTON — In January, when word got out that President Trump had disparaged African nations in vulgar terms during an Oval Office rant about immigration policy, his remarks were met with alarm and outrage by leaders and others on the continent.
But on Monday at the White House, both Mr. Trump and President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, the first leader from sub-Saharan Africa to visit him at the White House, carefully avoided the topic, professing mutual respect for each other and their respective countries at a cordial news conference.
Lawmakers in the room with Mr. Trump in January said he had used the term “shithole countries” to describe African nations, an accusation he has previously denied. But he did not do so on Monday, instead appearing to try to justify its spirit by noting that many countries in Africa are riddled with problems.
“You do have some countries that are in very bad shape and very tough places to live in,” Mr. Trump said during a news conference with Mr. Buhari in the Rose Garden, asked by a reporter about his use of vulgarity to describe Africa. “But we didn’t discuss it because the president knows me, and he knows where I’m coming from, and I appreciate that.”
Mr. Buhari, for his part, said he was not certain whether to believe the reports about Mr. Trump’s comments.
“I’m very careful with what the press says,” he said. “I’m not sure about the validity, or whether that allegation against the president was true or not, so the best thing for me is to keep quiet.”
There was no keeping African leaders quiet a few months ago when Mr. Trump made the remarks in front of lawmakers and advisers. The New York Times had already reported that in an Oval Office meeting last June, Mr. Trump had commented privately that Nigerians who obtained visas to enter the United States could never be expected to return to their “huts” back home once they had seen the bounty of the country. But it was the later remark that struck a bitter chord throughout Africa.
Nigeria’s foreign minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, summoned the United States ambassador to explain Mr. Trump’s comments and seek clarification, “stressing that if they were true, they were deeply hurtful, offensive and unacceptable,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement at the time.
Botswana, Ghana, Haiti, Namibia, Senegal and the African Union all protested Mr. Trump’s comments, some openly calling them racist; Botswana even repeated Mr. Trump’s choice of words in pointedly asking the United States “to clarify if Botswana” was such a country.
Mr. Trump has since tried to make amends. He wrote a letter to African nations saying that he “deeply respects” the people of Africa, and that he would dispatch Rex W. Tillerson, then his secretary of state, for an extended visit to the continent in March. The letter prompted the African Union to refrain from issuing a resolution criticizing Mr. Trump’s remark and demanding an apology.
Mr. Tillerson did travel to the region in March, but his trip was overshadowed by his abrupt firing during the visit.
On Monday, Mr. Trump and Mr. Buhari emphasized areas of agreement, and went out of their way to praise each other.
“I have great respect for the president,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Buhari. Nigeria, he said, was a “valued partner and a good friend,” later adding that “there’s no country more beautiful.”
The two spoke of their cooperation and coordination on security matters, including counterterrorism efforts against the Islamic State and Boko Haram, and Mr. Trump said he was pleased to be selling a dozen A-29 Super Tucano warplanes to Nigeria. The sale of the planes, long sought by the Nigerians, had been held by the Obama administration amid concerns about human rights abuses by Nigeria’s military.
Mr. Buhari, for his part, congratulated Mr. Trump for the “impressive” performance of the American economy, and credited him for playing a “statesmanly role” with North Korea that has led to discussions on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.
The friendly exchange may have masked the bitterness that lingers among Nigerians and other Africans about Mr. Trump’s remarks, said John Campbell, a former United States ambassador to Nigeria and a senior fellow for Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.
“They found it deeply offensive, and whenever I meet with Africans now, they always mention it,” Mr. Campbell said. However, he added, Mr. Buhari arrived at the White House on Monday as a supplicant with important security challenges that he needs American help to confront.
“Looking at it from the perspective of President Buhari: What on earth can he say at this stage about these comments, which the president at times denies having said at all?” Mr. Campbell said. “It might make you feel better, but practically, it doesn’t accomplish anything.”

Mueller Has Dozens of Inquiries for Trump in Broad Quest on Russia Ties and Obstruction - The New York Times

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Mueller Has Dozens of Inquiries for Trump in Broad Quest on Russia Ties and Obstruction - The New York Times: ""

Investment Boom From Trump’s Tax Cut Has Yet to Appear - The New York Times

Investment Boom From Trump’s Tax Cut Has Yet to Appear - The New York Times

Opinion | The Sense of Justice That We’re Losing - The New York Times

I had the great experience of clerking at Griffin Bell's law firm in 1985 and I particularly remember a funny conversation about military plans flying near the firm's, King & Spalding's Washington office at their 100th Anniversary celebration at the old Atlanta Historical Society.  He was a gracious man.

"Edward Levi and Griffin Bell were very different men. One was the son and grandson of rabbis, a legal scholar whose life revolved around the University of Chicago. The other was a country lawyer who became a master operator in the Atlanta legal world. One was appointed to high office by a Republican president, the other by a Democrat.
Yet for all their differences, Levi and Bell came to share a mission. Together, they created the modern Department of Justice and, more important, the modern American idea of the rule of law.

They were the first two attorneys general appointed after Watergate — Levi by Gerald Ford and Bell by his fellow Georgian Jimmy Carter. And they both set out to refashion the Justice Department into the least political, most independent part of the executive branch. “Our law is not an instrument of partisan purpose,” Levi said. It cannot become “anyone’s weapon.” Bell described the department as “a neutral zone in the government, because the law has to be neutral.”

They understood Richard Nixon’s deepest sins: He saw the law as an instrument not of justice but power. Yet Levi and Bell also knew that Nixon hadn’t been the only problem. Other administrations had also misused the law — investigating enemies and rivals, like civil-rights leaders. So Levi and Bell made sure that the crisis of Watergate didn’t go to waste.
They changed the rules for F.B.I. investigations. They put in place strict protocols for communication between the White House and Justice Department. They made clear — with support from Ford and Carter — that the president must have a unique relationship with the Justice Department.

“It’s perfectly natural and fine for the president and others at the White House to have interactions with the Justice Department on broad policy issues,” Sally Yates, the former deputy attorney general, told me last week. “What’s not O.K. is for the White House, and especially the president, to have any involvement with criminal prosecutions. That really turns the rule of law on its head.”

No administration has been perfect in the pursuit of neutral justice, but every one from Ford’s through Barack Obama’s stayed true to the post-Watergate overhaul. They allowed uncomfortable investigations to proceed unimpeded. They did not to treat the law as a weapon.
Then came President Trump.

Opinion | The Sense of Justice That We’re Losing - The New York Times

Opinion | A Growing Problem for the Military Transgender Ban — Facts - The New York Times

Since President Trump announced in March that the Pentagon would prohibit many transgender people from serving in the military, thousands of Americans have been in limbo, not knowing whether their careers were over or whether they would be barred from even joining the armed forces.

Federal courts have put a temporary hold on this directive, which bans “transgender persons who require or have undergone gender transition” unless the Pentagon grants them an exception. In the meantime, a growing body of research and expert opinion supports the only fair and just solution: Repudiating Mr. Trump’s cruel decision and giving transgender people the same right to serve their country in a military uniform as any other citizens.
In separate statements over the past month, the chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force; the commandant of the Marine Corps; and the incoming commandant of the Coast Guard, testified to Congress that transgender service members do not impair the cohesion of military units or discipline.

“We treat every one of those sailors regardless with dignity and respect that is warranted by wearing the uniform of the United States Navy,” Adm. John Richardson, the Navy chief, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “By virtue of that approach, I’m not aware of any issues.”

A half-dozen former United States surgeons general have rebutted a flawed Pentagon report released in March that served as the intellectual and scientific basis for Mr. Trump’s policy. Their statement said that, in light of the new policy, they felt a need to “underscore that transgender troops are as medically fit as their non-transgender peers and that there is no medically valid reason, including a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, to exclude them from military service or to limit their access to medically necessary care.”

The new policy, which panders to right-wing zealots like Vice President Mike Pence and to regressive generals, overturned President Barack Obama’s 2016 decision to protect gender identity in the Pentagon’s equal opportunity policy.
Mr. Trump issued the new policy after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis advised him there were “substantial risks” about personnel who seek to change or who question their gender identity, which “could undermine readiness, disrupt unit cohesion, and impose an unreasonable burden on the military that is not conducive to military effectiveness and lethality.” It’s unclear whether Mr. Mattis, a retired Marine general, believes in banning transgender people or felt hemmed in after Mr. Trump decreed the ban in a series of tweets last July.

A 2016 RAND study had already concluded that letting transgender people serve would have “minimal impact” on Pentagon readiness and health care costs. Now, a new study by the Palm Center, which advocates for transgender rights, offers a point-by-point rebuttal of Mr. Mattis’s comments and the Pentagon report, arguing they mischaracterized research and made other unfounded assertions.

Contrary to Pentagon claims, the study says the Pentagon’s own data shows that transgender people are deployable and medically fit and that the new Trump policy would impose double standards on transgender service members by applying medical rules and expectations that don’t apply to others. One compelling statistic: Of the 994 service members diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2016-2017, 393 were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and only one was unable to complete the deployment because of mental health reasons.

As for the Pentagon claim that health care for transgender troops would be unduly expensive, the Palm Center study says the total cost for transition-related health care in 2017 was $2.2 million, about $12.47 per transgender service member per month.

Despite the fact that the new policy has sent a crushing message to transgender troops who have chosen to serve their country, Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee last week he had not met with any transgender troops since the announcement to answer questions or listen to their concerns.
Demonstrating a surprising lack of confidence in his leading generals, Mr. Mattis told the committee that the service chiefs who testified that transgender recruits did not threaten the cohesion of military units might not know of problems because those issues don’t rise to their level.

Throughout history, the military has been an essential vehicle for driving inclusion, integration and acceptance in society — of African-Americans, women, gays and now transgender people. Rationale after rationale was offered for barring these groups. As each proved specious, opponents came up with others. Eventually they all failed, of course.

A small fraction of America’s active-duty troops, roughly 2,000 to 11,000 out of a military force of 1.3 million, identify as transgender. If the administration refuses to recognize the rights of this vulnerable population to help defend the country and be judged on the basis of ability rather than prejudice, then the courts must remedy that injustice.

Opinion | A Growing Problem for the Military Transgender Ban — Facts - The New York Times

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Trump Destroyed by Comedian at 2018 White House Correspondents Dinner

Black America should stop forgiving white racists - The Washington Post





Black America should stop forgiving white racists - The Washington Post

At the White House correspondents’ dinner, the buzz was reduced to a snore — until Michelle Wolf showed up - The Washington Post


At the White House correspondents’ dinner, the buzz was reduced to a snore — until Michelle Wolf showed up - The Washington Post

Why Trump Supporters Don’t Mind His Lies




The Mussolini syndrome. "In his first 400 days in office, President Trump made more than 2,400 false or misleading claims, according to The Washington Post. Yet a recent Gallup poll shows his approval ratings among Republicans at 82 percent. How do we square these two facts?

Some supporters no doubt believe many of the falsehoods. Others may recognize the claims as falsehoods but tolerate them as a side effect of an off-the-cuff rhetorical style they admire. Or perhaps they have become desensitized to the dishonesty by the sheer volume of it.



I suspect that there is an additional, underappreciated explanation for why Mr. Trump’s falsehoods have not generated more outrage among his supporters. Wittingly or not, Mr. Trump’s representatives have used a subtle psychological strategy to defend his falsehoods: They encourage people to reflect on how the falsehoods could have been true.



New research of mine suggests that this strategy can convince supporters that it’s not all that unethical for a political leader to tell a falsehood — even though the supporters are fully aware the claim is false.



Consider some examples. When President Trump retweeted a video falsely purporting to show a Muslim migrant committing assault, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, defended him by saying, “Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real.”



In each instance, rather than insisting the falsehood was true, Ms. Sanders admitted that Mr. Trump had made up a story about how Japan drops bowling balls on American cars to test their safety, but she argued that the story still “illustrates the creative ways some countries are able to keep American goods out of their markets.” When asked about the false claim that Mr. Trump’s inauguration had drawn the biggest inaugural crowd in history, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, suggested that inclement weather had kept people away.



In each instance, rather than insisting the falsehood was true, Ms. Sanders and Ms. Conway implied it could have been true. Logically speaking, the claim that more people could have attended the president’s inauguration in nicer weather does not make the crowd any bigger. But psychologically, it may make the falsehood seem closer to the truth and thus less unethical to tell.



To find out if this strategy actually helps get politicians off the hook for dishonesty, I recently conducted a series of experiments. I asked 2,783 Americans from across the political spectrum to read a series of claims that they were told (correctly) were false. Some claims, like the falsehood about the inauguration crowd, appealed to Mr. Trump’s supporters, and some appealed to his opponents: for instance, a false report (which circulated widely on the internet) that Mr. Trump had removed a bust of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office.



All the participants were asked to rate how unethical it was to tell the falsehoods. But half the participants were first invited to imagine how the falsehood could have been true if circumstances had been different. For example, they were asked to consider whether the inauguration would have been bigger if the weather had been nicer, or whether Mr. Trump would have removed the bust if he could have gotten away with it.



The results of the experiments, published recently in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, show that reflecting on how a falsehood could have been true did cause people to rate it as less unethical to tell — but only when the falsehoods seemed to confirm their political views. Trump supporters and opponents both showed this effect.

Again, the problem wasn’t that people confused fact and fiction; virtually everyone recognized the claims as false. But when a falsehood resonated with people’s politics, asking them to imagine counterfactual situations in which it could have been true softened their moral judgments. A little imagination can apparently make a lie feel “truthy” enough to give the liar a bit of a pass.

These results reveal a subtle hypocrisy in how we maintain our political views. We use different standards of honesty to judge falsehoods we find politically appealing versus unappealing. When judging a falsehood that maligns a favored politician, we ask, “Was it true?” and then condemn it if the answer is no.



In contrast, when judging a falsehood that makes a favored politician look good, we are willing to ask, “Could it have been true?” and then weaken our condemnation if we can imagine the answer is yes. By using a lower ethical standard for lies we like, we leave ourselves vulnerable to influence by pundits and spin doctors.

In this time of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” commentators worry that people with different political orientations base their judgments of right and wrong on entirely different perceptions of reality. My research suggests an additional concern: Even when partisans agree on the facts, they can come to different moral conclusions about the dishonesty of deviating from those facts. The result is more disagreement in an already politically polarized world.

Blame the human ability to imagine what might have been."

Why Trump Supporters Don’t Mind His Lieshttps://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/28/opinion/sunday/why-trump-supporters-dont-mind-his-lies.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fopinion&action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=6&pgtype=sectionfront

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Joy Reid, LGBT leaders on LGBT rights, issues, marriage equality - AM Joy on MSNBC

Watch MSNBC's Joy Reid address offensive blog posts



Watch MSNBC's Joy Reid address offensive blog posts

Lynching memorial leaves some quietly seething: 'Let sleeping dogs lie' | US news | The Guardian



"Alabama



Pain and terror: America's history of racism



The brutal new memorial to the south’s dark side has left some in Alabama frustrated and angry at its insistence on confronting the past



Black men were lynched for “standing around”, for “annoying white girls”, for failing to call a policeman “mister”. Those are just a few of the horrific stories on display at a new national memorial to lynching victims in Montgomery, Alabama.



One mile away, another historical monument tells a very different tale about the American south: the First White House of the Confederacy celebrates the life of “renowned American patriot” Jefferson Davis, who served as the president of the Confederate states, while making virtually no mention of the hundreds of black people he and his family enslaved.



The contradictions of Montgomery’s historical narratives were on full display this week as thousands of tourists and progressive activists flocked to the city to mark the opening of the country’s first memorial to lynching victims – while some locals quietly seethed, saying they resented the new museum for dredging up the past and feared it would incite anger and backlash within black communities.



“It’s going to cause an uproar and open old wounds,” said Mikki Keenan, a 58-year-old longtime Montgomery resident, who was eating lunch at a southern country-style restaurant a mile from the memorial. Local residents, she said, feel “it’s a waste of money, a waste of space and it’s bringing up bullshit”.



“It keeps putting the emphasis on discrimination and cruelty,” chimed in her friend, who asked not to be named for fear that her child would disapprove of her remarks. The memorial, she added, could spark violence.



The angry and in some cases blatantly racist reactions to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and accompanying Legacy Museum provided a window into some white Americans’ deep resistance to confronting the nation’s brutal history of racial violence, from slavery to mass incarceration.



While celebrities and civil rights icons lauded the memorial as a powerful symbol of America’s shame and a turning point toward healing, some conservatives in Alabama rolled their eyes at the project, saying they were more concerned with saving Confederate monuments, now under threat from leftwing activists.



Alabama’s Republican governor, Kay Ivey, wasn’t present at the memorial launch, but did release a video promoting her efforts to preserve Confederate monuments a week prior.



A sculpture depicting the slave trade at the entrance of the National Memorial for Peace And Justice. Photograph: Bob Miller/Getty Images

Seated at the front porch of the First White House on a sunny morning, curator Bob Wieland said he supported the Legacy Museum, but felt strongly that Confederate landmarks be preserved, especially as the city is changing and the “sleepy old cotton south falls away”. That means, he said, “keeping this museum [the First White House] just to have a positive taste, an old south taste, as the new comes up”.



Asked about criticisms that the state-funded First White House “whitewashes” the evils of slavery, Wieland said, “We could certainly tone down the celebration [of Davis], but … it is part of civil war history.” Discussing the lack of references to slavery, he said the museum was “more of a political military history” than a “social history”.



While some of the most vocal Alabama defenders of Confederate monuments said they broadly backed the concept of a lynching memorial, they also expressed anxiety about its impact, some reverting to racist stereotypes of African American rioters.



“Bring that stuff to light, and let it be there, but don’t dwell on it,” said Tommy Rhodes, a member of the Alabama Sons of Confederate Veterans. “We have moved past it … You don’t want to entice them and feed any fuel to the fire.”



Randall Hughey, another member who also owns a local radio station, emphasized his support of the museum – but also repeatedly questioned the veracity of its facts.



“They have every right to have the memorial, if it’s accurate,” he said, adding that he was perplexed by reports of more than 4,000 lynchings. “That seems pretty incredible to me that there would be that many documented lynchings … That was not the norm.”



Equal Justice Initiative, the group behind the memorial and lynching data, did six years of research and made extensive visits to southern sites.



Mary Massey, a 58-year-old nurse on her way to lunch in Montgomery, expressed disdain at the project: “We didn’t have nothing to do with that. I think they just need to leave it alone. It’s just stirring up something.”



Inside the lynching memorial, which features steel monuments dangling like bodies. Photograph: USA Today Network/Sipa USA/REX/Shutterstock

Her husband, Jim, said he supported the memorial as a way to recognize a “horrible” piece of black history, but added: “It’s gone and won’t happen again.” He also said he suspected that for many in Montgomery, the reaction was: “Let sleeping dogs lay.”



Keenan, who is Native American, said she would never visit the memorial and was worried it would exacerbate “racism” in Montgomery: “It ain’t gonna change that. It’s going to get it started more.”



At the opening day of the memorial – which features hanging steel monuments dangling like bodies above the visitors – some black Alabamians said they felt optimistic.



“For so long, society has put a shadow over these things,” said Brittany Willie, a 19-year-old from Huntsville, Alabama, who found an engraving of the name of one of her ancestors. “People are going to see this and realize these people were innocent. They were killed for who they are.”



“This is something our children need to know, so they can understand the struggle,” added Victoria Dunn, a 40-year-old Montgomery resident, who came with her husband.



“This is going to be something embraced by everybody.”



Lynching memorial leaves some quietly seething: 'Let sleeping dogs lie' | US news | The Guardian

Friday, April 27, 2018

#FacebookIncompetance Facebook has just admitted its incompetence.

Stop talking about race and IQ. Take it from someone who did.



"My mother and I were told on March 12th, 1962, by the Assistant Principal at PS 45 on Staten Island, New York that my Iowa test score that I had received while attending PS 198 in Brooklyn was in error.  She said in front of me that the score was impossibly high for a child like me and she refused to place me in the Intellectually Gifted third-grade class.  She said nothing to me directly when I received a similar score when the test was given at the new school.  Race, racism IQ an intelligence are wrought with ignorance, bias, and self-fulfilling prophecies.  This article addresses the pseudo-science of this area of research, most infamously exemplified  in the fatally flawed study "The Bell Curve".



By William Saletan, slate.comView Original April 27th, 2018



The race-and-IQ debate is back. The latest round started a few weeks ago when Harvard geneticist David Reich wrote a New York Times op-ed in defense of race as a biological fact. The piece resurfaced Sam Harris’ year-old Waking Up podcast interview with Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve, and launched a Twitter debate between Harris and Vox’s Ezra Klein. Klein then responded to Harris and Reich in Vox, Harris fired back, and Andrew Sullivan went after Klein. Two weeks ago, Klein and Harris released a two-hour podcast in which they fruitlessly continued their dispute.



I’ve watched this debate for more than a decade. It’s the same wreck, over and over. A person with a taste for puncturing taboos learns about racial gaps in IQ scores and the idea that they might be genetic. He writes or speaks about it, credulously or unreflectively. Every part of his argument is attacked: the validity of IQ, the claim that it’s substantially heritable, and the idea that races can be biologically distinguished. The offender is denounced as racist when he thinks he’s just defending science against political correctness.



I know what it’s like to be this person because, 11 years ago, I was that person. I saw a comment from Nobel laureate James Watson about the black-white IQ gap, read some journal articles about it, and bought in. That was a mistake. Having made that mistake, I’m in no position to throw stones at Sullivan, Harris, or anyone else. But I am in a position to speak to these people as someone who understands where they’re coming from. I believe I can change their thinking, because I’ve changed mine, and I’m here to make that case to them. And I hope those of you who find this whole subject vile will bear with me as I do.



Here’s my advice: You can talk about the genetics of race. You can talk about the genetics of intelligence. But stop implying they’re the same thing. Connecting intelligence to race adds nothing useful. It overextends the science you’re defending, and it engulfs the whole debate in moral flames.



I’m not asking anyone to deny science. What I’m asking for is clarity. The genetics of race and the genetics of intelligence are two different fields of research. In his piece in the Times, Reich wrote about prostate cancer risk, a context in which there’s clear evidence of a genetic pattern related to ancestry. (Black men with African ancestry in a specific DNA region have a higher prostate cancer risk than do black men with European ancestry in that region.) Reich steered around intelligence where, despite racial and ethnic gaps in test scores, no such pattern has been established.



It’s also fine to discuss the genetics of IQ—there’s a serious line of scientific inquiry around that subject—and whether intelligence, in any population, is an inherited social advantage. We tend to worry that talk of heritability will lead to eugenics. But it’s also worth noting that, to the extent that IQ, like wealth, is inherited and concentrated through assortative mating, it can stratify society and undermine cohesion. That’s what much of The Bell Curve was about.



The trouble starts when people who write or talk about the heritability of intelligence extend this idea to comparisons between racial and ethnic groups. Some people do this maliciously; others don’t. You can call the latter group naïve, credulous, or obtuse to prejudice. But they might be open to persuasion, and that’s my aim here. For them, the chain of thought might go something like this: Intelligence is partly genetic, and race is partly genetic. So maybe racial differences on intelligence tests can be explained, in part, by genetics.



There are two scientific problems with making this kind of inference. The first is that bringing race into the genetic conversation obscures the causal analysis. Genes might play no role in racial gaps on IQ tests. But suppose they did: To that extent, what would be the point of talking about race? Some white kids, some black kids, and some Asian kids would have certain genes that marginally favor intelligence. Others wouldn’t. It’s still the genes, not race, that would matter.



This is a rare point of consensus in the IQ debate. In his interview with Harris, Murray notes that in The Bell Curve, race was a crude proxy for genetics. Since the book’s publication in 1994, our ability to assess genetic differences has come a long way. Today, scientists are evaluating thousands of genes that correlate with small increments in IQ. “The blurriness of race is noise in the signal,” Murray tells Harris. “It’s going to obscure … genetic differences in IQ.”



“Race science,” the old idea that race is a biologically causal trait, may live on as an ideology of hate. But as an academic matter, it’s been discredited. We now know that genes flow between populations as they do between families, blurring racial categories and reshuffling human diversity. Genetic patterns can be found within groups, as in the case of prostate cancer. But even then, as Ian Holmes notes in the Atlantic, the patterns correlate with ancestry or population, not race.



The second problem with extending genetic theories of IQ to race is that it confounds the science of heritability. Sullivan and Harris cite research that indicates IQ is, loosely speaking, 40 percent to 80 percent heritable. It can seem natural to extend these estimates to comparisons between racial groups. That’s what I did a decade ago. But it’s a mistake because these studies are done within, not between, populations. They measure, for example, the degree to which being someone’s twin or biological sibling, rather than simply growing up in the same household, correlates with similarity of IQ. They don’t account for many other differences that come into play when comparing whole populations. So if you bring race into the calculation, you’re stretching those studies beyond their explanatory power. And you’re introducing complicating factors: not just education, income, and family structure, but neighborhood, net worth—and discrimination, which is the variable most likely to correlate directly with race.



Murray and others have answers to these objections. They argue that education programs have failed to close racial gaps, that studies haven’t proved that getting adopted has much lasting effect on kids’ IQ scores, and that collective increases in IQ scores are based on factors other than “general” intelligence. These are complex disputes full of nuances about replicating studies, interpreting test questions, and extrapolating from trend lines. But notice how far we’ve drifted from biology. The science here is oblique, abstract, and tenuous. Are you still comfortable speculating about genetics? Are you confident, for instance, that studies that compare black children to white children properly account for family assets and neighborhood, which differ sharply by race even within the same income bracket?



It’s one thing to theorize about race and genes to assist in disease prevention, diagnosis, or treatment, as Reich has done. But before you seize on his essay to explain racial gaps in employment, ask yourself: Given the dubiousness of linking racial genetics to IQ, what would my words accomplish? Would they contribute to prejudice? Would they be used to blame communities for their own poverty? Would I be provoking thought, or would I be offering whites an excuse not to think about the social and economic causes of inequality?



Murray, Sullivan, and Harris try to soften their speculations by stipulating, as I once did, that even if racial differences in IQ are genetic, you shouldn’t make assumptions about any individual. They’re correct that it’s both wrong and irrational to make such inferences from aggregate data. But it’s also easier to treat people as individuals when you don’t start with racial generalizations.



If you’re libertarian or conservative, you might think I’m calling for censorship. I’m not. I’m just asking for precision. Genes are the mechanism under discussion. So talking about the genetics of race and the genetics of IQ is more scientific, not less, than pulling race and IQ together.



Many progressives, on the other hand, regard the whole topic of IQ and genetics as sinister.

That, too, is a mistake. There’s a lot of hard science here. It can’t be wished away, and it can be put to good use. The challenge is to excavate that science from the muck of speculation about racial hierarchies.



What’s the path forward? It starts with letting go of race talk. No more podcasts hyping gratuitous racial comparisons as “forbidden knowledge.” No more essays speaking of grim ethnic truths for which, supposedly, we must prepare. Don’t imagine that if you posit an association between race and some trait, you can add enough caveats to erase the impression that people can be judged by their color. The association, not the caveats, is what people will remember.



If you’re interested in race and IQ, you might bristle at these admonitions. Perhaps you think you’re just telling the truth about test scores, IQ heritability, and the biological reality of race. It’s not your fault, you might argue, that you’re smeared and misunderstood. Harris says all of these things in his debate with Klein. And I cringe as I hear them, because I know these lines. I’ve played this role. Harris warns Klein that even if we “make certain facts taboo” and refuse “to ever look at population differences, we will be continually ambushed by these data.” He concludes: “Scientific data can’t be racist.”



No, data aren’t racist. But using racial data to make genetic arguments isn’t scientific. The world isn’t better off if you run ahead of science, waving the flag of innate group differences. And if everyone is misunderstanding your attempts to simultaneously link and distinguish race and IQ, perhaps you should take the hint. The problem isn’t that people are too dumb to understand you. It’s that you’re not understanding the social consequences of your words. When you drag race into the IQ conversation, you bring heat, not light. Your arguments for scientific candor will be more sound and more persuasive in a race-neutral discussion.



The biology of intelligence is full of important questions. To what extent is it one faculty or many? How do we get it, grow it, maintain it, and use it? If it’s heritable, should we think of it less as merit and more as luck, like inheriting money? To what extent does a class structure based on intelligence duplicate or conceal a class structure based on family wealth? Is intelligence truly supplanting other kinds of inheritance as a competitive advantage? Is it unleashing social mobility? Or is it, through assortative mating, entrenching inequality? These are much better conversations than the one we’ve been stuck in. Let’s get on with them.



One more thing

Since Donald Trump entered the White House, Slate has stepped up our politics coverage—bringing you news and opinion from writers like Jamelle Bouie and Dahlia Lithwick. We’re covering the administration’s immigration crackdown, the rollback of environmental protections, the efforts of the resistance, and more.



Our work is more urgent than ever and is reaching more readers—but online advertising revenues don’t fully cover our costs, and we don’t have print subscribers to help keep us afloat. So we need your help.



If you think Slate’s work matters, become a Slate Plus member. You’ll get exclusive members-only content and a suite of great benefits—and you’ll help secure Slate’s future.







"By William Saletan, slate.comView OriginalApril 27th, 2018



The race-and-IQ debate is back. The latest round started a few weeks ago when Harvard geneticist David Reich wrote a New York Times op-ed in defense of race as a biological fact. The piece resurfaced Sam Harris’ year-old Waking Up podcast interview with Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve, and launched a Twitter debate between Harris and Vox’s Ezra Klein. Klein then responded to Harris and Reich in Vox, Harris fired back, and Andrew Sullivan went after Klein. Two weeks ago, Klein and Harris released a two-hour podcast in which they fruitlessly continued their dispute.



I’ve watched this debate for more than a decade. It’s the same wreck, over and over. A person with a taste for puncturing taboos learns about racial gaps in IQ scores and the idea that they might be genetic. He writes or speaks about it, credulously or unreflectively. Every part of his argument is attacked: the validity of IQ, the claim that it’s substantially heritable, and the idea that races can be biologically distinguished. The offender is denounced as racist when he thinks he’s just defending science against political correctness.



I know what it’s like to be this person because, 11 years ago, I was that person. I saw a comment from Nobel laureate James Watson about the black-white IQ gap, read some journal articles about it, and bought in. That was a mistake. Having made that mistake, I’m in no position to throw stones at Sullivan, Harris, or anyone else. But I am in a position to speak to these people as someone who understands where they’re coming from. I believe I can change their thinking, because I’ve changed mine, and I’m here to make that case to them. And I hope those of you who find this whole subject vile will bear with me as I do.



Here’s my advice: You can talk about the genetics of race. You can talk about the genetics of intelligence. But stop implying they’re the same thing. Connecting intelligence to race adds nothing useful. It overextends the science you’re defending, and it engulfs the whole debate in moral flames.



I’m not asking anyone to deny science. What I’m asking for is clarity. The genetics of race and the genetics of intelligence are two different fields of research. In his piece in the Times, Reich wrote about prostate cancer risk, a context in which there’s clear evidence of a genetic pattern related to ancestry. (Black men with African ancestry in a specific DNA region have a higher prostate cancer risk than do black men with European ancestry in that region.) Reich steered around intelligence where, despite racial and ethnic gaps in test scores, no such pattern has been established.



It’s also fine to discuss the genetics of IQ—there’s a serious line of scientific inquiry around that subject—and whether intelligence, in any population, is an inherited social advantage. We tend to worry that talk of heritability will lead to eugenics. But it’s also worth noting that, to the extent that IQ, like wealth, is inherited and concentrated through assortative mating, it can stratify society and undermine cohesion. That’s what much of The Bell Curve was about.



The trouble starts when people who write or talk about the heritability of intelligence extend this idea to comparisons between racial and ethnic groups. Some people do this maliciously; others don’t. You can call the latter group naïve, credulous, or obtuse to prejudice. But they might be open to persuasion, and that’s my aim here. For them, the chain of thought might go something like this: Intelligence is partly genetic, and race is partly genetic. So maybe racial differences on intelligence tests can be explained, in part, by genetics.



There are two scientific problems with making this kind of inference. The first is that bringing race into the genetic conversation obscures the causal analysis. Genes might play no role in racial gaps on IQ tests. But suppose they did: To that extent, what would be the point of talking about race? Some white kids, some black kids, and some Asian kids would have certain genes that marginally favor intelligence. Others wouldn’t. It’s still the genes, not race, that would matter.



This is a rare point of consensus in the IQ debate. In his interview with Harris, Murray notes that in The Bell Curve, race was a crude proxy for genetics. Since the book’s publication in 1994, our ability to assess genetic differences has come a long way. Today, scientists are evaluating thousands of genes that correlate with small increments in IQ. “The blurriness of race is noise in the signal,” Murray tells Harris. “It’s going to obscure … genetic differences in IQ.”



“Race science,” the old idea that race is a biologically causal trait, may live on as an ideology of hate. But as an academic matter, it’s been discredited. We now know that genes flow between populations as they do between families, blurring racial categories and reshuffling human diversity. Genetic patterns can be found within groups, as in the case of prostate cancer. But even then, as Ian Holmes notes in the Atlantic, the patterns correlate with ancestry or population, not race.



The second problem with extending genetic theories of IQ to race is that it confounds the science of heritability. Sullivan and Harris cite research that indicates IQ is, loosely speaking, 40 percent to 80 percent heritable. It can seem natural to extend these estimates to comparisons between racial groups. That’s what I did a decade ago. But it’s a mistake because these studies are done within, not between, populations. They measure, for example, the degree to which being someone’s twin or biological sibling, rather than simply growing up in the same household, correlates with similarity of IQ. They don’t account for many other differences that come into play when comparing whole populations. So if you bring race into the calculation, you’re stretching those studies beyond their explanatory power. And you’re introducing complicating factors: not just education, income, and family structure, but neighborhood, net worth—and discrimination, which is the variable most likely to correlate directly with race.



Murray and others have answers to these objections. They argue that education programs have failed to close racial gaps, that studies haven’t proved that getting adopted has much lasting effect on kids’ IQ scores, and that collective increases in IQ scores are based on factors other than “general” intelligence. These are complex disputes full of nuances about replicating studies, interpreting test questions, and extrapolating from trend lines. But notice how far we’ve drifted from biology. The science here is oblique, abstract, and tenuous. Are you still comfortable speculating about genetics? Are you confident, for instance, that studies that compare black children to white children properly account for family assets and neighborhood, which differ sharply by race even within the same income bracket?



It’s one thing to theorize about race and genes to assist in disease prevention, diagnosis, or treatment, as Reich has done. But before you seize on his essay to explain racial gaps in employment, ask yourself: Given the dubiousness of linking racial genetics to IQ, what would my words accomplish? Would they contribute to prejudice? Would they be used to blame communities for their own poverty? Would I be provoking thought, or would I be offering whites an excuse not to think about the social and economic causes of inequality?



Murray, Sullivan, and Harris try to soften their speculations by stipulating, as I once did, that even if racial differences in IQ are genetic, you shouldn’t make assumptions about any individual. They’re correct that it’s both wrong and irrational to make such inferences from aggregate data. But it’s also easier to treat people as individuals when you don’t start with racial generalizations.



If you’re libertarian or conservative, you might think I’m calling for censorship. I’m not. I’m just asking for precision. Genes are the mechanism under discussion. So talking about the genetics of race and the genetics of IQ is more scientific, not less, than pulling race and IQ together.



Many progressives, on the other hand, regard the whole topic of IQ and genetics as sinister.

That, too, is a mistake. There’s a lot of hard science here. It can’t be wished away, and it can be put to good use. The challenge is to excavate that science from the muck of speculation about racial hierarchies.



What’s the path forward? It starts with letting go of race talk. No more podcasts hyping gratuitous racial comparisons as “forbidden knowledge.” No more essays speaking of grim ethnic truths for which, supposedly, we must prepare. Don’t imagine that if you posit an association between race and some trait, you can add enough caveats to erase the impression that people can be judged by their color. The association, not the caveats, is what people will remember.



If you’re interested in race and IQ, you might bristle at these admonitions. Perhaps you think you’re just telling the truth about test scores, IQ heritability, and the biological reality of race. It’s not your fault, you might argue, that you’re smeared and misunderstood. Harris says all of these things in his debate with Klein. And I cringe as I hear them, because I know these lines. I’ve played this role. Harris warns Klein that even if we “make certain facts taboo” and refuse “to ever look at population differences, we will be continually ambushed by these data.” He concludes: “Scientific data can’t be racist.”



No, data aren’t racist. But using racial data to make genetic arguments isn’t scientific. The world isn’t better off if you run ahead of science, waving the flag of innate group differences. And if everyone is misunderstanding your attempts to simultaneously link and distinguish race and IQ, perhaps you should take the hint. The problem isn’t that people are too dumb to understand you. It’s that you’re not understanding the social consequences of your words. When you drag race into the IQ conversation, you bring heat, not light. Your arguments for scientific candor will be more sound and more persuasive in a race-neutral discussion.



The biology of intelligence is full of important questions. To what extent is it one faculty or many? How do we get it, grow it, maintain it, and use it? If it’s heritable, should we think of it less as merit and more as luck, like inheriting money? To what extent does a class structure based on intelligence duplicate or conceal a class structure based on family wealth? Is intelligence truly supplanting other kinds of inheritance as a competitive advantage? Is it unleashing social mobility? Or is it, through assortative mating, entrenching inequality? These are much better conversations than the one we’ve been stuck in. Let’s get on with them."



Stop talking about race and IQ. Take it from someone who did.

#FacebookIncompetance Facebook calls a New York Times page editorial page commentary spam. When will their incompetence stop? Congress must regulate them. By the way I let them know as I am sure others have. Isn't their algorithm able to identify a URL?

😠😬

Duh! Actually, Guns Do Kill People | The Nation

Concealed-Guns-v5_Web

Actually, Guns Do Kill People | The Nation

2001: A Space Odyssey’s iconic music, explained - Vox





"Even if you haven’t seen 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick’s mind-melting 1968 science fiction epic, which turns 50 this month, you probably know at least something about it. It’s one of those movies, like Star Wars or Citizen Kane, that has become so thoroughly dissolved into our pop culture that you’ll have heard of the villainous computer HAL or know the famed music cue (Richard Strauss’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra”) that plays over its most indelible images.



But how were those moments created? The story of 2001 is the story of an almost obsessive attention to detail, of a budget that almost completely destroyed the film’s studio, of an initial wave of terrible reviews that might have killed a lesser movie. At every step of the way along its production process (and even after its release), 2001 is a fascinating example of big-time moviemaking gone right.



For the most recent episode of my podcast, I Think You’re Interesting, I talked with author Michael Benson, whose new book, Space Odyssey, is perhaps the most comprehensive look ever at the making of the film. Benson talked with me about the construction of five of the film’s most enduring elements, and we started with that soundtrack full of classical music.



In many ways, the story of how Kubrick found the score of his film is the movie in a nutshell, with some of his colleagues immediately getting what Kubrick was going for and others being driven so hard by the man that they eventually buckled. Indeed, several composers were hired to write an original score for 2001, but Kubrick eventually discarded those contributions in favor of his classical music “temporary” tracks.



The portion of my discussion with Benson about the music of the film, lightly edited for length and clarity, follows."



2001: A Space Odyssey’s iconic music, explained - Vox

The Georgia Primary Offers A Preview Of Democrats’ 2020 Fault Lines | FiveThirtyEight





"Whoever wins the Democratic primary for governor in Georgia will be an underdog in the general election.1 Georgia isn’t as red as you might think — Hillary Clinton lost there by only 5 percentage points in 2016. But it’s still a red state.



Whether the Democratic nominee wins in November or not, however, the May 22 primary matters. Either Stacey Abrams or Stacey Evans, the two candidates for the Democratic nomination, would be the first female governor ever in Georgia. Abrams, the former minority leader in the Georgia House, is the favorite, but she is hardly guaranteed a victory over Evans, the former Georgia House Democratic Caucus chair: An Atlanta Journal-Constitution of poll of likely Democratic primary voters released last week2 found Abrams ahead 33 percent to 15 percent, with a huge bloc of Democrats (52 percent) saying that they are undecided.



Moreover, this race also illustrates some of the broader debates and trends that define the post-Clinton Democratic Party nationally.



Ideological similarity — The Clinton-Sanders primary in 2016 started off with some major policy differences, but over the course of the campaign, each candidate moved left on issues on which they might have been vulnerable (Clinton eventually embraced Sanders-style ideas to expand the number of Americans who could go to college for free; the Vermont senator echoed Clinton’s support for increased gun control measures). The same thing has happened in the Democratic Party at large since 2016: Rather than choosing between Sanders’s economic populism and Clinton’s cultural liberalism, Democrats are embracing more economic populism and more cultural liberalism.



Mirroring what is happening nationally, the Abrams-Evans race doesn’t really feature major policy differences. Both candidates are running on expanding Medicaid. Neither is calling for a Medicare-for-all program, which I suspect reflects both that they are running for state, not national, office and that Georgia is not a particularly liberal place. Both support expanded gun control measures and oppose new abortion limits.



Competing theories about the electorate — Democrats might mostly agree on policy, but that’s not true for politics. There is a broad debate among Democratic strategists about whether the party should focus more on winning so-called Obama-Trump voters (particularly white, working-class people in the Midwest) or try to maximize turnout among young people, college graduates and non-white voters (groups that are already more favorably inclined toward Democrats).



That debate is playing out in this Georgia race too. Abrams, while she was serving as House minority leader, created a group called the New Georgia Project that was focused, in particular, on getting more people of color to register to vote. She has been explicit in suggesting that Georgia Democrats are better off bringing new voters into the political process, rather than trying to woo people who might have backed Democrats two decades ago but have been in the GOP camp for several election cycles now. “What I am arguing is that we actually embrace the new reality of what the South looks like,” Abrams told The New York Times in December.



Evans, in contrast, told Reuters last year that “you are going to have to persuade some moderate Republicans to vote for you, if you are going to win in Georgia.”



It’s unclear who has the right theory, but both approaches have clear challenges. No Democrat has won a gubernatorial, U.S. Senate or presidential contest in Georgia since Zell Miller was elected senator there in 2000. So it’s hard to see Evans wooing enough Republicans to win — no other Democrat running for a major office has in almost 20 years. At the same time, Georgia has enough minorities and urbanites for Democrats to almost win there3 but not enough to get over the hump, so Abrams’s path looks perilous as well.



Racial tension — Abrams is black, Evans is white. I don’t think this necessarily tells us much about who will vote for them, as Evans is trying to win black voters (about half of the Democratic electorate in Georgia’s 2016 primary) and Abrams is courting non-black voters. But if I were Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, I might be rooting for Abrams to win this primary — for the sake of party unity.



No black woman has ever been elected governor in any state. So the candidacy of Abrams and the potential for making history in this race have excited Democrats both in and out of Georgia. And Abrams’s candidacy comes as the Democratic Party is facing some criticism from activists for taking black women’s votes for granted. African-American women tend to vote for Democratic candidates at much higher rates than most other demographic groups (Clinton received 94 percent of their votes in 2016 according to exit polls, compared with 82 percent among black men) and tend to turn out to vote at higher rates overall than black men. But they aren’t in many high-profile roles in the party.



Abrams is, by any measure, extremely qualified — she is a Yale Law School graduate who returned to her home state and became the leader of her party in the statehouse. If Evans wins this primary, there will likely be some strong criticisms of the national Democratic Party for not doing enough to promote black female candidates like Abrams.



So keep an eye on this race — how it plays out will be important in Georgia but may also hold clues about where the Democratic Party is heading nationally."



The Georgia Primary Offers A Preview Of Democrats’ 2020 Fault Lines | FiveThirtyEight

HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s proposal to triple rents for poorest households would hurt single mothers the most



"The proposal by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson to at least triple the minimum rent that the poorest Americans pay for federally subsidized housing would put nearly 1 million children at risk of homelessness, according to an analysis of HUD data by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).



Under current rules, families that receive housing subsidies typically pay 30 percent of their income for rent. Public housing agencies can instead charge a minimum rent of up to $50 a month. Carson’s proposal, if approved by Congress, would raise that monthly minimum rent to $150.



The minimum rent increase would affect about 15 percent (712,000) of the 4.7 million households receiving federal housing subsidies, HUD officials said. Housing advocates say this group is the neediest and most vulnerable, consisting mostly of single mothers.



This rule change, they say, would be among the most damaging as part of Carson’s broader push for an overhaul of housing assistance.





Related: [HUD Secretary Ben Carson to propose raising rent for low-income Americans receiving federal housing subsidies]



“The biggest group affected by the minimum rent increase are families with kids,” said Barbara Sard, vice president for housing policy at the CBPP and former HUD senior adviser for rental assistance. “It is the most unfair and most harmful. It’s where the dangers of eviction and homelessness are the gravest.”



The typical household affected by the minimum rent increase would be a single mother of two, earning a median income of $2,400 a year — or $200 a month, Sard said. After paying $150 for rent, that would leave just $50 to stretch for the month for diapers, toiletries, bus fare and other necessities not covered by food stamps. About 460,000 households headed by single mothers would be impacted, Sard said.



Another 200,000 households headed by a childless adult, many of whom were formerly homeless, would also be hurt by the minimum rent increase, Sard said.



A HUD spokesman declined to comment on the CBPP analysis other than to say the agency's proposal allows for hardship exemptions.



“Suddenly tripling anyone’s rent is unacceptable. It’s especially appalling that Secretary Carson wants to do so on people already living in extreme poverty,” said Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “Attempting to balance our federal budget at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable people is abhorrent.”



In addition to tripling the minimum rent for the poorest Americans receiving housing assistance, the initiative unveiled Wednesday by Carson would raise the rent for other tenants in subsidized housing to 35 percent of gross income from the current standard of 30 percent of adjusted income.



HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s proposal to triple rents for poorest households would hurt single mothers the most

NYT: Russian lawyer at Trump Tower meeting had closer ties to Kremlin than previously disclosed

"(CNN)Newly surfaced emails indicate that Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Trump campaign associates in 2016, once worked with Russia's chief legal office in an effort to thwart the Justice Department, The New York Times reported on Friday.



The newspaper notes that the disclosure suggests that the lawyer had closer ties to the Kremlin than she had previously suggested.



The Times reported that, according to an NBC News interview to be broadcast Friday, Veselnitskaya disclosed that she was a "source of information" for Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika.



NYT: Russian lawyer at Trump Tower meeting had closer ties to Kremlin than previously disclosed

Opinion | The White Rebellion - The New York Times



"By Charles Blow



"In 1989, NBC News did a special on race in America, in which it interviewed a young Donald Trump, who was then a couple of years younger than I am now.



“A well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market,” he said. “And I think a black sometimes may think that they don’t really have the advantage, or this or that, but in actuality, today, currently, it’s a, it’s a great — I’ve said on more than one occasion, even about myself, if I were starting off today, I would love to be a well-educated black because I really believe that they do have an actual advantage today.”



I was a second-year college student at the time, striving, I guess, to become one of those “well-educated blacks,” completely unaware that the man who just months earlier had taken out full-page ads in New York City newspapers demanding the death penalty for the Central Park Five was pretending to covet my burgeoning position in society.



But of course, Trump was incredulous of his own comment, notable from the way he began to smirk as he mouthed the words “I would love to be a well-educated black.” It wasn’t sincerity but sarcasm. It was a way of making a point, not about jealousy but about resentment. It was a way of damning with faint praise the idea that the inviolable dominance of white male privilege in America was entering a period in which not every shred of advantage would redound to white men, even if a vast majority still did.



Trump was attempting to express a white male anger and anxiety as made-for-television profundity and witticism. It would in many ways foretell a strategy that worked well for him decades later when he ran for president.



Trump’s ability to completely embody and effectively project the petrifying fear young white men feel about the erosion of their privilege is a large part of the reason he is president today.



A new study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found what other studies have found: Support for Trump was largely motivated by white fear of displacement from dominance.



As the study put it:



“White Americans’ declining numerical dominance in the United States together with the rising status of African Americans and American insecurity about whether the United States is still the dominant global economic superpower combined to prompt a classic defensive reaction among members of dominant groups.”



This new study dovetails with an analysis of millennial Trump voters published last year in The Washington Post: “First, white millennial Trump voters were likely to believe in something we call ‘white vulnerability’ — the perception that whites, through no fault of their own, are losing ground to other groups. Second, racial resentment was the primary driver of white vulnerability — even when accounting for income, education level or employment.”



The idea that the primary motivator for Trump supporters was economic anxiety was a false narrative swallowed and regurgitated by a gullible media too afraid to call a thing a thing: racial resentment.



A 2016 analysis, also published in The Post, found that “economic anxiety isn’t driving racial resentment. Racial resentment is driving economic anxiety.”



When one accepts this rationale, the inexplicable becomes rather easy to explain.



How could anyone vote for this buffoonish character, and how can they continue to support him even as he makes a fool of himself and a mockery of America?



Simply put, Trump is one of the last gasps of American white supremacy and patriarchy. He is one of its Great White Hopes.



The distillation of his campaign message was not only to halt the rapid pace of change, but also to reverse it, to undo the Obama-izing of America and restore it to whiteness. It was also to uncouple America from globalizing influences and specifically elevate American whiteness.



To support Donald Trump was to be pro-America’s past and anti-America’s future. The whole thing was suffused with race.



I understand the extreme apprehension to accuse individuals of racism because it implies a conscious and directed racial animus that is a person’s prevailing ethos. But that extremity is only one expression of racism. There are other forms, ones that fall well short of the caricature.



What do you call a person who doesn’t reach the height of race hate but who nurses a deep racial resentment?



What do you call a person who doesn’t openly endorse racism but nevertheless knowingly benefits from it?



What do you call a person who endorses broad racial progress in theory but in practice is strenuously opposed to disturbing the racial status quo?



What do you call throngs of people working in concert, consciously or not, to defend racial primacy?



What do you call these people, among Trump’s supporters, whom studies keep identifying as racial actors, whether they view themselves that way or not?



Trump never wished himself to be a black man. He was simply expressing a white resentment of anyone encroaching on privileges historically reserved for whites. The musing Trump of yesteryear is the Trump voter of our present predicament.



Trump is white anguish encapsulated."



Opinion | The White Rebellion - The New York Times

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Facebook CTO: We didn't read the terms and conditions

How Martin Luther Paved the Way for Donald Trump | The Nation





By Michael Massing, www.thenation.com  April 19th, 2018



by Sabine Formanek.



The support of white evangelicals for Donald Trump continues to exasperate and perplex. About 80 percent of them voted for him in 2016—the most recorded for a Republican candidate since 2000—and his approval rating among them remains high. In June, some 1,000 evangelical pastors plan to meet the president, both to “celebrate” his accomplishments (as one leading pastor put it) and to rally Christians for the midterm elections. Neither Trump’s relations with Stormy Daniels, nor his endorsement of alleged sexual abuser Roy Moore, nor his reference to “shithole” countries, nor his toxic tweets, recurrent racism, or general crudity, have proved a deterrent to most conservative Christians—to the dismay of many commentators.1



“I’m stunned at the evangelical support for this president,” Mika Brzezinski remarked recently on the MSNBC show Morning Joe. “I don’t understand it. It’s almost like they’re excited to be in the White House and get access to him.” Those in the evangelical community who are writing books about the president, she added, “are overlooking the most humongous moral failings.”2



Peter Wehner, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, took to the op-ed pages of The New York Times in December to explain “Why I Can No Longer Call Myself an Evangelical Republican.” Throughout his life, Wehner wrote, he had identified with evangelicalism and the Republican Party, but Trump and Moore were causing him to reconsider his affiliations: “Not because my attachment to conservatism and Christianity has weakened, but rather the opposite. I consider Mr. Trump’s Republican Party to be a threat to conservatism, and I have concluded that the term evangelical—despite its rich history of proclaiming the ‘good news’ of Christ to a broken world—has been so distorted that it is now undermining the Christian witness.”3



The death of the Rev. Billy Graham in February set off a new round of chiding. In Politico, Stephen Prothero, a professor of religion at Boston University, wrote that “to chart the troubled recent course of American evangelicalism—its powerful rise after World War II and its surprisingly quick demise in recent years”—one need look no further than the differences between Graham and his eldest son, Franklin, who took over his empire. Where the father “was a powerful evangelist who turned evangelicalism into the dominant spiritual impulse in modern America,” Prothero wrote, his son is “a political hack” who “is rapidly rebranding evangelicalism as a belief system marked not by faith, hope, and love but by fear of Muslims and homophobia.”4



The alarm over the evangelical embrace of Trump reached a crescendo with Michael Gerson’s cover story in the April issue of The Atlantic, “How Evangelicals Lost Their Way (and Got Hooked by Donald Trump).” Gerson—perhaps the most prominent evangelical writing in the mainstream media—stated that “Trump’s background and beliefs could hardly be more incompatible with traditional Christian models of life and leadership.” The president’s “unapologetic materialism” is “a negation of Christian teaching”; his tribalism and hatred for “the other” “stand in direct opposition to Jesus’s radical ethic of neighbor love”; his worship of strength and contempt for “losers” “smack more of Nietzsche than of Christ.” Christianity, Gerson declared, “is love of neighbor, or it has lost its way. And this sets an urgent task for evangelicals: to rescue their faith from its worst leaders.”5



The verdict is clear: In supporting this thrice-married, coarse, boastful, divisive, and xenophobic president, evangelicals are betraying the true nature of Christianity. In making such charges, however, these commentators are championing their own particular definition of Christianity. It is the Christianity of the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus blesses the meek, disdains the rich, welcomes the stranger, counsels humility, and encourages charity. “Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also,” he declares—a most un-Trumpian sentiment.6



Yet this irenic message is just one strain in the New Testament. There’s another, more bellicose one. In Matthew, for instance, Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace but a sword”—to “set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” In John, he declares, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life,” and “no one comes to the Father except through me”—a statement long used to declare Christianity the one true path to salvation. The Book of Revelation describes with apocalyptic fury the locusts, scorpions, hail, fire, and other plagues that God will visit upon the earth to wipe out the unbelievers and prepare the way for the Messiah.7



From the earliest days of the faith, this militant strand has coexisted with the more pacific one. And it was the former that stirred the founder of Protestantism, Martin Luther. In his fierce ideas, vehement language, and combative intellectual style, Luther prefigured modern-day evangelicalism, and a look back at his life can help explain why so many evangelicals support Trump today.8



In defending the cause of Christ, Luther was uncompromising. No one, he wrote, should think that the Gospel “can be advanced without tumult, offense and sedition.” The “Word of God is a sword, it is war and ruin and offense and perdition and poison.” In Luther’s famous dispute with Erasmus of Rotterdam over free will and predestination, the renowned Dutch humanist suggested that the two of them debate the matter civilly, given that both were God-fearing Christians and that the Bible was far from clear on the subject. Exploding in fury, Luther insisted that predestination was a core Christian doctrine on which he could not yield and that Erasmus’s idea that they agree to disagree showed he was not a true Christian.9



In his later years, Luther produced venomous attacks on groups he considered enemies of Christ. In his notorious On the Jews and Their Lies, he denounced the Jews as “boastful, arrogant rascals,” “real liars and bloodhounds,” and “the vilest whores and rogues under the sun.” In Against the Roman Papacy, an Institution of the Devil, he called the pope “a true werewolf,” a “farting ass,” and a “brothel-keeper over all brothel-keepers.” When in 1542 a Basel printer was preparing to bring out the first printed Latin version of the Quran, Luther contributed a preface explaining why he supported publication. It was not to promote interfaith understanding. By reading the Quran, he wrote, Christians could become familiar with “the pernicious beliefs of Muhammad” and more readily grasp “the insanity and wiles” of the Muslims. The learned must “read the writings of the enemy in order to refute them more keenly, to cut them to pieces and to overturn them.”10



Luther arrived at his own interpretation of the Gospel after experiencing years of debilitating doubt as an Augustinian friar. The prescribed rituals and sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church—designed to offer a clear path to salvation—provided little relief. No matter how often he went to confession, no matter how fervently he prayed the Psalter, Luther felt undeserving of God’s grace. Sometime around 1515, while lecturing on Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, Luther had his great intellectual breakthrough: Salvation comes not from doing good works but through faith in Christ. Upon discovering this truth, Luther later wrote, “I was altogether born again” and “entered paradise itself through open gates.” In thus describing his sudden spiritual transformation, Luther provided a model for millions of later Protestants seeking similar renewal. Being born again is one of the defining characteristics of evangelicalism, and it was Luther who (along with Paul and Augustine) created the template.11



Another key feature of evangelicalism is the central place of the Bible, and here, too, Luther provided the foundation. In his view, neither popes nor councils nor theologians have the authority to define the faith—the Bible alone is supreme. In his famous To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation Concerning the Reform of the Christian Estate of 1520, Luther described his world-altering concept of the priesthood of all believers: Every lay Christian, no matter how humble, has as much right to interpret the Bible as any pope or priest. Luther was thus shifting the locus of authority from credentialed elites to ordinary believers, empowering them to define their own faith.12



In Europe, however, these populist ideas were quickly snuffed out. Kings and princes together with bishops and abbots cracked down on all who sought to apply them. The most dramatic case came during the German Peasants’ War of 1524–25, when farmers and laborers—inspired, in part, by Luther’s tracts—rose up against their secular and spiritual overlords. They were put down in a savage bloodletting that left more than 100,000 dead. Luther himself—fearing anarchy and furious at those who invoked his writings to better their lot—endorsed the slaughter in a lurid pamphlet titled Against the Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants. “Let everyone who can, smite, slay, and stab” the peasants, he wrote. “It is just as when one must kill a mad dog; if you do not strike him, he will strike you, and a whole land with you.”13



Although the killings had started before Luther’s pamphlet appeared, he was strongly urged to retract his screed. He reluctantly prepared An Open Letter on the Harsh Book Against the Peasants, but, rather than disavow his position, he restated it in even starker terms. To those who said he was being unmerciful, he wrote, “this is not a question of mercy; we are talking of God’s word.” Luther was incapable of apologizing.14



Luther’s peasant tracts badly damaged his reputation not only among the peasants but also among many of his fellow reformers. The experience hastened his own retreat from his early radicalism into a reactionary intransigence in which he opposed all forms of resistance to injustice and maintained that the only proper course for a Christian was to accept and acquiesce. He took as his watchword Romans 13: “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities.” It was the individual who had to be reformed, not society. Luther also believed in the concept of the “two kingdoms,” the secular and the spiritual, which had to be kept rigorously apart. Christ’s Gospel was to apply only in the spiritual realm; in the secular, the government’s role was to maintain order and punish evildoers, not to show compassion and mercy. The Lutheran churches in Germany and Scandinavia (like most established churches in Europe as a whole) became arms of the state, developing a top-heavy bureaucracy that bred complacency, discouraged innovation, and caused widespread disaffection.15



Not so in America: With no established churches to confront and freedom of worship guaranteed by the Constitution, American Christians have been free to create their own spiritual pathways. Over time, Luther’s core principles of faith in Christ, the authority of Scripture, and the priesthood of all believers became pillars of American Protestantism—especially of the evangelical variety.16



Consider, for example, the Southern Baptists. With more than 15 million members and 47,000 churches, the Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States; through its seminaries, publications, public-policy office, and network of missionaries, it has profoundly affected American social, cultural, and political life. The Southern Baptists’ various statements of belief bear Luther’s stamp throughout. The “starting point” of everything related to their churches, they declare, is each individual’s “personal faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives.” Under the related doctrine of “soul competency,” the Southern Baptists affirm “the accountability of each person before God.” This is a plainspoken version of Luther’s doctrine of sola fide (“by faith alone”). The Bible, they further maintain, is the “supreme standard” by which all human conduct and religious opinion must be measured—a restatement of Luther’s principle of sola scriptura (“by Scripture alone”). Finally, the Southern Baptists explicitly embrace the idea of the priesthood of all believers, asserting that “laypersons have the same right as ordained ministers to communicate with God, interpret Scripture, and minister in Christ’s name.”17



Needless to say, there are some significant differences between the beliefs of the Southern Baptists and those of Luther. The Southern Baptists, for instance, practice adult baptism, which Luther vigorously opposed. On many key points, however, their beliefs parallel those of Luther, even though his influence is rarely acknowledged.18



Billy Graham himself was deeply affected by Luther. From the fall of 1949, when he led his first major crusade, until the 1980s, Graham was the face of evangelical Christianity in America. Invoking the Bible as his sole authority, he offered a simple message centered on Christ’s atoning death on the cross for humankind’s sins and his resurrection from the dead for its salvation. “No matter who we are or what we have done,” Graham observed in Just as I Am, his autobiography, “we are saved only because of what Christ has done for us. I will not go to Heaven because I have preached to great crowds. I will go to Heaven for one reason: Jesus Christ died for me, and I am trusting Him alone for my salvation.” This intense focus on the Bible and on salvation through faith in Christ came directly from Luther.19



In the recent eulogizing of Graham, there has been a tendency to gloss over his aggressive early evangelism. He was a strident anticommunist, a tireless critic of pornography, and a fawning supporter of presidents. While he insisted on integrating his crusades, he shunned the broader campaign for civil rights. Graham refused to participate in the 1963 March on Washington and dismissed Martin Luther King Jr.’s conviction that political protests could create a “beloved community” in which, even in Alabama, “little black boys and little black girls will join hands with little white boys and white girls.” Graham declared that “only when Christ comes again will the little white children of Alabama walk hand in hand with little black children.” In both his obsequiousness toward the powerful and his opposition to social change, Graham was very much Luther’s heir.20



Luther’s impact on American life is most apparent when looking at the place of the Bible in it. According to surveys, nearly nine in 10 American households own a Bible, and nearly half of all adult Americans say that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Bible-study groups have proliferated in schools, workplaces, locker rooms, and government offices, including the White House under Democratic and Republican presidents alike. The massive new Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC, with its multitude of biblical artifacts, is the creation of Steve Green, the president of the Hobby Lobby craft-store chain and a member of a prominent evangelical family. All of this can be traced back to Luther’s belief in Scripture as the sole authority.21



Many evangelicals are animated by the same type of faith- and Bible-based individualism that Luther espoused. This outlook can be seen in the motivational sermons of Joel Osteen, the purpose-driven appeals of Rick Warren, and the defiant statements of Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who in 2015 refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and went to jail for it. She said:22





I never imagined a day like this would come, where I would be asked to violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage. To issue a marriage license which conflicts with God’s definition of marriage, with my name affixed to the certificate, would violate my conscience. It is not a light issue for me. It is a Heaven or Hell decision…. I have no animosity toward anyone and harbor no ill will. To me this has never been a gay or lesbian issue. It is about marriage and God’s Word.23





These remarks recall Luther’s concluding statement at the Diet of Worms of 1521. Ordered by a representative of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V to recant his writings, Luther resisted: “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason…I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted, and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience.” Luther’s bold defense of his religious conscience has become a hallmark of the Protestant tradition, and Davis, consciously or not, stands squarely within that tradition.24



The message from evangelical pulpits is overwhelmingly one of self-reliance, personal responsibility, individual renewal, scriptural authority, and forging a personal relationship with God and Christ. American evangelicalism has further assumed the populist stance of the young Luther. His rebellion was directed at the dominant institution of his day—the Roman Catholic Church. He denounced the ordained clergy, anointed theologians, and university scholars who, appealing to custom and tradition, sought to silence and discredit him. Protestantism, in short, arose as a revolt against the elites, and Luther’s early appeals to the common man and his disdain for the entitled lent the movement a spirit of grassroots empowerment that remains alive to this day. His insurgent nature further implanted in the faith a reflexive adversarialism—a sense of being forever under siege.25



Luther’s rebelliousness was, however, paradoxically joined to an opposition to real-world change. While rousing the masses, he refused to endorse measures that would concretely address their needs. This combination of incitement and passivity is apparent in contemporary American evangelicalism, with both its ceaseless agitation against the centers of power and its shunning of any real program to address the underlying sources of resentment and dissatisfaction. In accord with Luther’s doctrine of the two kingdoms, many evangelicals see the proper role of the government to be imposing order, not showing mercy.26



Donald Trump has followed this approach. On the one hand, he has played on the conviction of evangelicals that they are an oppressed minority who have been prevented from practicing their religion as they see fit. He has vigorously defended the right of the faithful to say “Merry Christmas,” of pastors to speak freely in their pulpits, of church-run hospitals and health-care organizations to refuse to offer contraceptives. He has also appointed judges committed to those principles (and adamantly opposed to abortion, a key issue for this group). At the same time, Trump has carefully avoided taking on the powerful financiers and magnates who have helped to create the economic system that has inflicted such hardship on his base. Trump’s insults, invective, and mocking tweets against enemies real and perceived seem a long way from the Sermon on the Mount, but they very much mirror the pugnacity, asperity, and inflammatory language of the first Protestant.27"



How Martin Luther Paved the Way for Donald Trump | The Nation