Everyday Erinyes #77

 Posted by at 10:04 am  Politics
Jun 032017

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can't include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

If you can stand one more thing about the Bradley Foundation, this should at least make you smile.  As you know if you have been reading for the last three weeks, the Center for Media and Democracy has been working for years to expose the (Lynde and Harry) Bradley Foundation, and this year finally released a comprehensive exposé of this shadow entity.  The site to bookmark to find the complete exposure and also specific parts of the exposure is called SourceWatch.  And this is not just for the Bradley Foundation.  The column on the left of that page will show you many other evildoers upon whom CMD has been working.

It goes without saying that the Bradley Foundation DOES NOT LOVE SourceWatch, and, if you believe that, you are half right.  In one way, the Bradley fundation does not love SourceWatch.  In another way, however, the Bradley Foundation loves SourceWatch SO MUCH that they are working on getting a website of their own up which will be modeled after SourceWatch.  To quote CMD's Lisa Graves,

Oh boy, we can [hardly] wait to see what this group of flaks, hacks, and climate change deniers will come up with, but we will be sure to let you know!  (bolding by Lisa)

While we are waiting for that site, I want to call the attention of my readers and of the Furies to an article in Truthout called "Expect More Murders: Why the Radical Right Kills."  Written by Spencer Sunshine. it draws heavily on a scholarly paper by one Chip Berlet, a long time scholar on right-wing populist movements.  The paper is called "Heroes Know Which Villains to Kill: How Coded Rhetoric Incites Scripted Violence," and if that title doesn't send a chill down your spine, you may not be paying attention.  It's worth a read – yes, it's 33 pages, but 11 of those are footnoes, and the body is fairly widely spaced.

From the facts presented by both, I admit that it concerns me a bit that right-wing "heroes" actually DON'T know which villains to kill, though they sure think they do.  For instance, one target group is "Muslims," yet in real life this translates into "people they think look like Muslims," and it's obvious that two groups need not be the same.  Another target group is transgender persons.  Since most of us dress to cover our primary and sexual characteristics, and to reveal basically the secondary sexual characteristics which are consistent with our inner gender identity, I wonder.  I wonder if the 26 transgerdered people murdered in 2016 were the only people in 2016 murdered for "liiking transgender."  That's not the kind of thing that can be easily known.

Now, of course, as evidenced by the Portland killer (name not used deliberately) yelling in court, "Death to antifa!" by which he meant you and me, and anyone who is opposed to fascism, in other words every decent person, how are we ever going to know whether a killing is a right wing hate crime?  And some of us may be interested in, how are we going to defend outselves from being killed by the far right?

Let me give an example from Teen Vogue (don't laugh; Teen Vogue is developing a reputation for serious, real journalism, and I for one am grateful).  On April 30, 2017, in La Jolla, CA, a community within the city of San Diego, CA, a white male opened fire with a semi-automatic pistol at a pool party within an apartment complex.  Eight people ended up being taken to a nearby hospital, seven shot, and one who broke an arm while fleeing.  Only one was white.  One woman of color, a mother of three, died.  Witness testimony clearly stated that the witnesses perceved the shooting as racially motivated.  Yet, "San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said just one day after the shooting that there was "zero information" that race contributed to the attack."  Apparently testimony isn't "information" now.

(Unusually, the gunman did not survive the crime.  When police arrived, he was re-loading.  Apparently he pointed the gun at the police, who fired first and killed him.)

But the point of my example is, if law enforcement has difficulty seeing racial motivation in this situation, despite the colors of the victims and the testimony of the witnesses, how is law enforcement – how is anyone – ever going to determine, if a white activist is killed by one of these right-wing "heroes", that it was a hate crime?  Lincoln Blades, the author of the Teen Vogue article, ends with

In America, citizens must grapple with reality. Not only is white male terrorism as dangerous as Islamic extremism, but our collective safety rests in rooting out the source of their radicalization.

Sunshine ends his Truthout op-ed thus:

With Trump and his appointees openly circulating demonizing narratives, the genie is out of the American bottle. US presidents have limited political power, but they have an incredible ability to set the mood of the country. And the mood is ugly. We can expect more murders from hate-steeped men like [Portland killer name redacted].

Alecto and Tisiphone, I can hear you now.  "Sheesh!  It isn't enough just to go after evildoers any more?  Now you want us to be detectives too?"  Well, yes.  There really isn't anyone else.  No law enforcement under the present administration is going to do it.  Please.

Megaera, I didn't include you in that; I want you to take a little trip to Texas and have a – discussion – with a Junior High teacher there.

Lizeth Villanueva is a thirteen year old kinda brown Salvadorean American Honor Student with zero history of disciplinary problems at Anthony Aguirre Junior High in Channelview, Texas, near Houston.

Sure, she’s a cute kid, an honors student who’s never been anything other than a credit to her school, but still there’s still that troublesome slight excess of brownness she insists on displaying – so what could be more natural than her teachers practicing their comedic stylings by honoring her with a vicious, stupidly racist and imminently tenure endangering award?

”On Tuesday, her teacher gave her a “most likely to become a terrorist” award. It was supposed to be a joke, part of a mock end-of-the-year awards ceremony at Anthony Aguirre Junior High in Channelview, Tex., near Houston, where a group of teachers hand certificates to students. Lizeth, 13, said her teacher “just laughed” when she signed and handed her the certificate, just one day after the Manchester arena terrorist attack in Britain.” 

The story gets even worse from there.  The Administration is not happy – but it really isn't clear whether the unhappiness stems from the offense or from the publicity.  Just a comment from me on the stupidity here – if it isn't obvious to everyone that the most likely student to become a terrorist in any classroom in America would have to be both male and white – then when will it be?

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4056023


Everyday Erinyes #76

 Posted by at 10:26 am  Politics
May 272017

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can't include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

I've spent the last two weeks discussing the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, hoping to put its name into every article and every sentence which contains the words "Koch Brothers," and I'm not going to spend today's whole article on it.  But I did want to share that, in addition to everything else, Bradley also has an enemies' list.  And guess who is on it.  that's right, the Center for Media and Democracy, whose hard work built the expose summarized here.  (Others on the list include Alliance for Justice, Color of Change, and Common Cause.  Good groups.  I'm not on that list, not being an organization, nor is Politics Plus – yet.  But I'd be proud to be on it.)

But I have found two recent deaths to be so moving I need to say something about them.  You have probably heard about the murder of Richard Collins III, a student of Bowie State Uiversity (in just three days he would have been an alumnus).  He had been commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army's intelligence division just two days prior.  Or maybe you didn't.  There is a strong tendency, when a person of color is killed, for media to present information to make it look like the victim was at fault, or at least "no angel."  That couldn't be done here.  Gordon Johnson, the special agent in charge of the Baltimore office of the FBI, said he should be remembered as a national treasure.  No one seems to have been found who had anything less than glowingly positive to say about him.

The murder is being investigated as a hate crime.  It has been called an act of terrorism.  Dave Zirin at The Nation Magazine has taken some flak for calling it a lynching.  Zirin belives that his categorization is important enough to defend it, and he makes an excellent case.

First he points out that, although we tend to think of a lynching as being a hanging, or, in other words, done with a rope, there have been many deaths totally accepted as lynchings in which no rope was involved.  He cites the case of Emmett Till, who was beaten to death and shot, not hanged, but definitely lynched.

To clarify the difinition of lynching, Dave spoke with Dr. Rasul Mowatt, a professor of American Studies at Indiana University.  Dr. Mowatt has written extensively about lynchings, and would appear to be the go-to guy on the subject.  He said:

The Tuskegee Institute in 1959 provided us with the clearest definition of a lynching: 1) Met death illegally; 2) Three or more persons participated in the killing; and, 3) the group was acting on the pretext of justice, race or tradition (vigilantism).… To me, the second criteria from Tuskegee is no longer a requirement for a lynching.   (emphasis mine)

Why is it no longer necessary to have the hands-on participation of a mob for a murder to qualify as a lynching?  Because mobs in the 21st century no longer need to be hands-on or physically present in order to incite murderous behavior.  They can be on line instead.

Sean Urbanski was part of a Facebook group called “Alt Reich: Nation,” which has since been taken down. Based on screengrabs still available online, this community performed the function of a mob: agitating its participants not only to racist bigotry but also to violence.

This stabbing needs to be understood as part of a tradition of homegrown violence aimed at black and brown people as an instrument of terror. If we don’t see Richard Collins III in the centuries-old continuum of lynchings, we are helping whitewash what took place. We are categorizing what happened as an aberration in the “post-racial” 21st-century United States.

Megaera and Tisiphone, while it's appropriate for you to go after the murderer, I think it must be Alecto who tackles the issue of the use of language.  Good luck.

The other death, Jayson Negron, was a shooting by police, hardly a novelty of course, but this was another victim who was found to be impossible to denigrate (what a word!), and this young man was only fifteen.  Here's why this stood out for Daily Kos user JoanMar:

(I have been forcing myself to watch the videos of some pretty horrific acts of brutality for some time now. It has not been easy, but I have determinedly stuck at it…until this one. I started watching the video of the defenseless, powerless, innocent young boy forced to lie prostrate on the ground and at the point where it became obvious that he’d moved his head, I lost it. I couldn’t continue.)

7. And this…this is almost unbearable: They watched him die and then left his body uncovered and exposed for 6 hours! Why???!!!

In addition, the bald-faced lying by law enforcement stood out, even in a world where police lies are routine:  "After his death, representatives of the police department went to break the news to his loved ones: 'Jayson was shot in the head and died instantaneously,' they told his mother."  In fact, he was shot several times in the chest and bled to death.  How could they think this lie would not be found out?  And that is just one lie among multiple lies.

Megaera and Tisiphone, the group Support the Dream Defenders, while mourning Jayson desparately, realize you cannot bring him back.  They would be best pleased if you see what you can do to help get legislation passed to require law enforcement to render first aid to anyone injured in a stop or an arrest.  Clearly no such legislation is going to be passed by a Republican Congress.  But at least some state legislatures would consider it.  Thank you.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4054791


Everyday Erinyes #75

 Posted by at 12:19 pm  Politics
May 192017

(AKA Friday Furies – today)

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can't include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

After last week's focus on the Bradley Foundation (more fully, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation), I wanted to follow up a little, with articles that focus on specific things that the Foundation is doing, and articles that show that it is now getting attention from local media where it is getting most active.

Of course the Foundation is located in Milwaukee, WI, so it makes sense that Wisconsin media would be interested.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has zoomed in upon the Foundation's activities, including its ties to Scott Walker (gee, thanks, Bradley /S)

When Gov. Scott Walker laid out a plan in his state budget address urging people to take steps to avoid welfare, it mirrored a platform of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which has pushed for greater personal responsibility and more stringent welfare requirements.

Documents hacked from the Bradley Foundation's computer server show the connection is not just philosophical — it's financial….

The foundation even awarded a $100,000 grant to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families to underwrite the commission itself — an unusual, if not unique, step in government. Neither the source of the commission's money nor the foundation's stake in the outcome was disclosed. The state spent about $62,000 of the grant before making its recommendation to the governor.

This excellent piece of reporting follows the money to show how deep the Bradley Foundation's tentacles go, and how they spread out into multiple areas of Winsoncin government.  Or maybe we should say "Fitzwalkerstan" government.  Personally, I think it's a pity Scotty didn't take a post with the Trump Administration before now, so that he could be taken down with it.  But, if he was too cunning to do so before, he's definitely too cunning to do so now.  Sad.

The Journal Sentinel is very much on the whole story; there are two other articles just this week on the Foundation.  One focuses on its funding of groups opposing climate regulation, and the other includes an interview with Marcus S. Owens, who ran the IRS's tax-exempt organizations division during the 1990's; he shows how closely they are skating to the exempt-non exempt line, and indeed going over it.

Other Wisconsin media are also discussing the Foundation, including the Wisconsin Independent and Urban Milwaukee.

Meanwhile, in Colorado, it has comne to the attention of Colorado Politics that the Bradley Foundation is putting a lot of money into Colorado, with a focus on union-busting.  Citing the CMD report, the article says:

Bradley has given the Colorado-based Independence Institute $1.45 million between 2004-2016, the documents indicate, including multiple grants some years. With the assistance of the Independence Institute, the right-wing Douglas County school board enacted a series of measures, including countywide school vouchers for private and religious schools (later struck down by the courts), plus an end to collective bargaining, teacher tenure, and automatic dues deductions for teachers unions. In 2013, the battle resulted in a high-dollar school board race where unions and the Koch’s Americans for Prosperity group spent heavily.

Bradley has been a big funder of this agenda. In 2015, Bradley gave a grant of $100,000 to Independence Institute for “aggressive education reform,” which Bradley says included “neutralizing the power of Colorado’s teachers’ unions by defunding them at the local school district level” (Independence Institute, Grant Proposal Record, 11/10/15).

The Independence Institute's response:

It’s no secret that the Independence Institute, the Denver-based libertarian-leaning think tank, takes on unions at every turn, and it depends on anonymous donors to do it.

“We never talk about our donors,” Independence Institute president and CEO Jon Caldara said in an e-mail. “But if Bradley gave us that much money to fight unions, I’d be living on some small island with that cash right now instead."

Oh my.  Well, it certainly is refreshing for a right wing/Libertarian operative admit he is an embezzler, even if only at heart.

Over in the State of Washington, The Stand ("News About Working People Standing Together in Washington State") also picked up the informmation about union-busting.

In Washington state, the Bradley Foundation granted $1.5 million over three years to the Freedom Foundation with the purpose of “defund[ing] Big Labor,” because “Washington State’s liberal labor laws have long allowed it to be a net exporter of union dollars to other parts of the country,” according to proposals regarding the grant.

Examples of the Freedom Foundation’s anti-union activities in Washington include canvassing, mailing, and phone banking union members to get them to opt out of their unions. They also hired a Santa Claus to leaflet state workers as they walked in and out of their workplace, encouraging them to stop paying full union dues.

The Stand also noted that, besides Wisconsin, Colorado, and Washington, the two states the Foundation targets most aggressively are North Carolina and Oregon.

Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council AFL-CIO said:

We’re not going to let the Bradley Foundation, the Freedom Foundation, or the other groups they fund get us down. More than ever, working people are coming together to raise wages, protect workers’ rights, and expand the right to organize in our state. We will continue to spotlight and expose the negative, destabilizing outside pressure from anti-union groups on state and local governments. We must ensure Washington politics put the priorities of Washington’s working families first.

Dear Furies, fighting this thing is like fighting the nine-headed Lernean Hydra, which grew two new heads every time one was cut off, at least until the immortal head in the middle was found.  Perhaps you need to enlist Heracles to deal with this – thing.  One version of the myth says that cauterizing the necks with a torch prevented their regeneration; if you are too busy to hold the torches, perhaps Iolaos, who originally served that function, would come along.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4053330


Everyday Erinyes #74

 Posted by at 11:41 am  Politics
May 132017

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can't include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

What a week.  WHAT. A. WEEK.  Well, at least the big story is SO big that the crumbs I have come up with, important though they may be (one probably isn't), will largely have gone under everyone's radar.  So maybe we can learn something.  Although, maybe we will wish we hadn't.

All of us are familiar to the point of contempt with the infamous Koch Brothers, including their connection to ALEC.  What we may not be so vividly aware of is thet they are not alone.  I'd like to introduce you to the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

Documents regarding this Foundation first became available in October 2016, when references showed up in two Twitter accounts linked to the Russiand who hackec the DNC (yes, I should say "alleged," but please assume that a lot of this is "alleged" for now.)  Turns out the Bradley Foundation is a little bigger than the three Koch family foundations combined ($835 mill as of June 2016).  Well, that's interesting.  So where is this money going?

CMD has examined thousands of these documents, including Bradley board documents between 2013-2016. The documents indicate that Bradley has a new stream of funding to build this “conservative infrastructure” and is using a metric to assess the strength and depth of that infrastructure in individual states — including “receptive” politicians, right-wing “think tanks,” symbiotic “grassroots” groups, friendly media, litigation centers, and opposition research — to guide Bradley’s strategic funding initiatives.

Dismantling unions is high on their list of priorities, and ais considered by them to be an important key to turning blue states red.  States like Wisconsin and Michigan.  Incidentally, the Foundation is organized as a 501(c)(3), though from its activities it appears it ought to be a 501(c)(4).  Rich donors, therefore, are receiving tax breaks – as if they needed any more of those – from their contributions.

Two specific examples of uses of Bradley money raise red flags:

1.  Training Republican Candidates and Operatives.

This section follows the money from Bradley to American Majority [sic] to the former Media Trackers, now called Greenhouse Solutons.  “American Majority has trained 3,853 pro-freedom individuals at more than 100 training events. 208 trained candidates have run for state or local office, 181 advanced out of their primaries to the general election. 104 went on to win their elections. These include state legislators, 45 county board supervisors, 27 municipal office holders, 22 school board members and 5 judges.”

2.  Bradley Infrastructure and the "Barder Fund."

“In effectuating its mission, by necessity, Bradley’s grantmaking program has always emphasized the importance of what’s now being called “infrastructure.” Historically, Bradley used to be known and was lauded for providing ongoing, general-operating support to the national think tanks that laid the foundation for and then helped sustain the conservative ascendance beginning in the 1980s.”

The Bradley files contain a list of 20 Bradley-funded national organizations that support this state-based infrastructure (Barder Fund, August 18, 2015).

These include:
America’s Future Foundation
American Legislative Exchange Council  (note:  we know this one well)
American Transparency
Americans for Prosperity Foundation
Americans for Tax Reform Foundation
Center for Consumer Freedom [Berman and Co.]
Employment Policies Institute [Berman and Co.]
Interstate Policy Alliance [Berman and Co.]
Foundation for Government Accountability
FreedomWorks Foundation
Illinois Policy Institute
Leadership Program of the Rockies
Liberty Foundation of America
Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
Mercatus Center
National Review Institute
Sagamore Institute
State Policy Network
Texas Public Policy Foundation
Think Freely Media

It's a long, fact-filled article, but it does have a link to a much shorter, sharable video on Facebook 9I am not on Facebook myself, sorry.)  Alecto, there's a very long time buildup here.  Can you work on it?

Meanwhile, in Arizona, Republican ambition and goals have come to this:
"Arizona legislator: 'One thing I would like to repeal is the law on compulsory education'"

Yes, you read that right.  “Education used to be a privilege… People used to believe getting an education was something you had to be privileged to get, that you had to work hard to get. Now we basically force it down everybody’s throats.”

As the "diarist" says:

Those of you who don’t want to be in school, which was about 95% of my friends in 3rd grade, shouldn’t be forced to be learnin’ stuff (and you should know this when you’re eight). Why do you need algebra, chemistry, history, literature or other useless information in order to be Walmart greeters, convenience store clerks, burger flippers or good fundy wives. Or Republican voters. Nor do you need pesky critical thinking classes that might tell you how much you’re getting screwed.

Arizona Democrats regularly point out that the legislature and Gov. Ducey are trying to destroy public education. Rep. Mosley has a solution: Why bother? There aren't enough facepalms left.

Megaera, I would say this qualifies as "grudging."

Finally, this last revelation doesn't really qualify as important.  It's noteworthy only as additional evidence of how delusional people can be – and, unfortunately, that includes people who have equally delusional followers.  You thought Pizzagate was farfetched?  I swear, I am NOT making this up.  I couldn't.

End Times radio host Rick Wiles interviewed “financial analyst” Jim Willie of GoldenJackass.com on his “Trunews” radio program on Friday, where Willie asserted that Queen Elizabeth is a child-killing satanist lizard who is literally inhuman and that Bill and Hillary Clinton are both cannibals.

Right Wing Watch has an audio of the radio program, but here's an excerpt of what Jim Willie had to say:

Hillary Clinton has the same cannibalism brain disease [that Bill CLinton has], Willie said, before adding that she actually already died due to some “very serious incident” that happened on 9/11 from which she never recovered.

“That woman on the third [presidential] debate, if you think that was Hillary, you got rocks in your head, you got nothing in your head,” Willie declared. “That was a 45 to 50 year-old woman posing as a wrinkled 70 year-old Hillary? Are you kidding me? I’m not stupid!”

Tisiphone, I hardly know what to say after that.  Good luck.
The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4052383