Donald Plays The Trump Card; Drops Mic!

It’s time to Break It Down!

As I’ve often noted, my mantra regarding this blog is to remain nimble. I seldom decide in advance what the topic of the day will be. As Tuesday unfolded my attention began to drift toward crafting a piece on guns. Over the course of the day I saw stories about two instances that inflamed my sensibilities on the topic.

In one instance a 45-year-old security guard was sleeping with a pistol under her pillow in her home in New Orleans. During the course of the night the gun inadvertently fired, killing her 3-year-old grandson last Wednesday. What a dreadful occurrence; I can’t imagine the emotional pain and suffering that grandmother is experiencing. Multiply that exponentially for the parents.

In the second case, last Thursday in Renton, Washington, 10 miles South of Seattle, a man went to a theater. Ostensibly to prevent a mass shooting, he took his gun with him. He smuggled it into a Cinema that prohibits guns. As it turns out, the man was high on anxiety pills and intoxicated from beer. According to witnesses at the scene, while fumbling with his gun, he shot, most likely accidentally, a woman patron, who was watching “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” The shooter then fled the scene. The victim was in stable condition after having been shot in the torso. Police arrested the suspect after his father called and reported the shooting.

This was another absolutely horrible, and so unnecessary, outcome. The good news in this case is, at least no one died. Still, there is no denying, accidental gun violence is still violence, and still a function of the preponderance of guns in our society. An even more significant point is, chances are, without breaking a sweat, anyone could recite new cases, accidental or intentional, by the time Wednesday rolls around next week.  That’s wack!

But I digress. As the title makes clear, this post is intended to frame a discussion about the bombastic, self-proclaimed high-energy, billionaire GOP frontrunner for the Party’s nomination to seek the Presidency…Donald John Trump. He is perennially loquacious, and never meets a superlative too large to embrace, or to repeat. Mr. Trump grabbed the Republican race for President by the proverbial short hairs, almost from onset of his June 16, 2015 Announcement at Trump Tower in New York.

The Donald drew a picture of an America in peril, regularly “getting beat” by a number of other nations, including China, Japan, Mexico, and even the terrorist group, ISIS. He declared that America is in trouble, the American Dream is dead, and he…is running to “Make America Great Again.” Along the way he disparaged Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly, threw shade on former Presidential Candidate and Arizona Senator John McCain, insisting he was not a war hero, and belittled Senator Lindsey Graham in his home state of South Carolina. First he spoke dismissively of him, then he revealed Graham’s cell phone to the media and the public during an appearance in the Palmetto State. He was just getting started.

Almost immediately an interesting phenomenon began emerging. While the media and the professional political class on both sides of the aisle predicted that the New Yorker would be a fleeting item on the political landscape, Mr. Trump defied the odds and consistently put his GOP competitors on their heels. Each time one of what has increasingly become a member of the GOP also-rans brandished the cheeky temerity to challenge him, he has responded by issuing a series of tweets and/or verbal jabs, always conveniently covered by the media, to push them into or near irrelevancy. So much so, until some of them, most notably, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, and the aforementioned South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, were among the first wave to issue statements of no mas, raise White Flags of surrender, and sheepishly exit the campaign.

The list of used-to-be relevant icons deserves a note of special comment. On it are such political luminaries as South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, former Utah Governor/former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, now former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former New York Governor George Pataki, and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. All are a part of the GOP’s mainline establishment heritage. This list, it should be mentioned, is significant for who is on it, as well as for who is not.

The list of folks still competing includes Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, and of course, the Major Domo of Elephants in the room, Donald J. Trump. Yes, there are still candidates representing the so-called establishment of the Party, including Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, Jim Gilmore, and Chris Christie. Then there is Mr. Trump’s apparent nemesis, at the moment anyway, Ted Cruz. More about him later.

Real Clear Politics produces a compendium of Polls, including data from ABC News/Washington Post, CNN/ORC, Fox News, Monmouth, NBC News/Wall Street Journal, and CBC/New York Times. Polling from January 21 – January 24 shows Trump leading second place Ted Cruz nationally in every poll…by double digits, from a low of 13 percentage points (33%-20%) in the NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll to 22% (41%-19%) in the CNN/ORC Poll.

Marco Rubio is the only other candidate averaging double figure polling, with double digits in all but the CNN/ORC Poll. Ben Carson, who briefly led the field, is the only other candidate breaking double digits in any of the polls, reaching 12% in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll.

The numbers reflect the schism that has characterized the essence of the entire race for the GOP side. In many ways the 2016 Campaign has been, for the group formerly known as the Party of Lincoln, an anti-establishmentarian campaign. In a metaphoric flourish, the candidates who did not make the cut were akin to students who flunked out in the first semester. They were, by and large, representatives of what was heretofore the establishment, principally Republican Governors and Senators. Staying with the metaphor, the folks moving on to the second semester includes three individuals who have not only never held public office previously, but who are committed to challenge the efficacy of traditional politics, even traditional Republican politics, at its very core.

Of the remaining candidates, the top two contenders appear to be Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Trump has never held office, but promises to “Make Our Country Great Again.” Cruz has been a member of the Senate since 2013, but entered Congress as a Tea Party devotee, intent upon reformatting the politics of Washington from the ground up. He is still best known for his pivotal role in the Fall 2013 Government Shutdown. Trump and Ted; this is the vibe the contemporary GOP seems content to roll with. The previously mentioned vanquished Lindsey Graham, when asked if he had to choose between the two had this to say:

“It’s like being shot or poisoned,” the South Carolina Republican said. “What does it really matter?”

As the Iowa Caucuses approach on Monday, the GOP candidates are scheduled to engage in their last Televised Debate before matters get real as the voting commences. This particular event will be hosted by Fox News and will feature noted Trump foil, Megyn Kelly. Ms. Kelly managed to place herself firmly on Trump’s bad side last year when Fox hosted a debate and she asked him a question to which he took exception. The relationship between the two has been sporadically rocky since then.

A series of exchanges between Fox News and Trump yesterday steadily escalated. Trump polled his Twitter feed asking whether he should participate in the Debate. In a simultaneous Instagram video, he said:

“Megyn Kelly’s really biased against me. She knows that, I know that, everybody knows that. Do you really think she can be fair at a debate?”

In response, Fox concocted a tongue-in-cheek reply in the form of a public statement from the Network:

“We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president — a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings,” the statement said.

At this point, as they say, “It was on like Donkey Kong!” First Trump issued a tweet. He referred to Fox’s statement as:

“A pathetic attempt by Fox News to try and build up ratings for the #GOPDebate.” He went on to say, “Without me they’d have no ratings!”

As the day progressed, Trump said he would probably not attend the Debate. He indicated he would likely create a separate event at the same time and give the funds raised by the event to veterans groups. As the evening progressed, CNN reported a spokesperson said he would definitely skip the event:

“We’ll have an event here in Iowa, with potentially another network, to raise money for wounded warriors,” campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said. “And Fox will go from probably having 24 million viewers to about 2 million.”

This semi-chaotic breakdown of the normal order was predictable. It is just one aspect of the illogical conclusions that are sure to result from individuals and a Party that pride themselves in eschewing convention at every imaginable step. Remember this is a scenario born in the mind a guy who within the past week boasted that he could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot someone and not lose any votes from his supporters. Clearly, he does not believe that conventions of any sort apply to him. Ted Cruz may have shut down the Government, but Donald Trump blew off Roger Ailes and Fox News. At least that’s what he has said he will do. In a “What have you done for me lately” world, “Donald Plays The Trump Card; Drops Mic!”

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The Modern GOP: Trending Toward Legacy or Lunacy?

It’s time to Break It Down!

Four years ago I wrote a post entitled “The Newtonian Code: An Evening of Satire on MLK Day!” ( In the event you’d like to peruse it, click the preceding link. FYI, it appears on BlogSpot, my former platform, not WordPress.

The post includes a brief discourse recalling key elements of that Monday evening’s GOP Debate, which most notably featured a series of electrifying exchanges between GOP Candidate Newt (hence Newtonian) Gingrich and Fox News (the Network sponsoring the Debate) Anchor Juan Williams.

The Debate, took place on the evening of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday. It was held at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Frankly, I viewed this as a huge irony, primarily based upon some of Mr. Gingrich’s responses, unfolding on the occasion of The MLK, Jr. Holiday. When Williams posed a question about whether some of Mr. Gingrich’s remarks during the Campaign were insulting to blacks, the former Speaker haughtily dismissed him, engendering wild applause from an audience, apparently in perfect synchronicity with Newt.

Williams soldiered on, attempting to reframe the exchange by referencing a black woman who had questioned Gingrich about referring to President Obama as a Food Stamp President. At this point, the audience not only cheered the candidate, they booed the questioner (Williams).

In a bygone yesteryear, GOP candidates fashioned a strategic policy initiative loosely known as the Southern Strategy. The policy featured a pattern of behaviors and practices designed to appeal to Southern white voters by exploiting racism and whites’ irrational fear of lawlessness by blacks.

As I noted at the time, I’m not a mind reader; I cannot even begin to say what resided in Mr. Gingrich’s heart, or anyone else’s for that matter. Then, as now however, I can say with great certitude that when Mr. Gingrich then, and others in his Party now, make such blanket acrimonious assertions as Mr. Obama is the Food Stamp President, black high school students should seek jobs as janitors, and African American adults should eschew Food Stamps and instead pursue paychecks, despite the fact most Food Stamp recipients are white, regardless of intent, such commentary will inflame a significant portion of the black community.

Fast-forward four years and January 2016 presents us with the next round of politicking, fundraising, polling, voting, and yes, debating. We have yet another edition of prickly GOP candidates, several of whom are doing their dead-level best to raise the ante to even higher levels than we saw in the toxic environment that was prevalent in 2012.

We now have an entire subset of candidates who seem committed to outdo one another in terms of which one can establish themselves as the most hostile to immigrants in general, and Mexicans and Muslims in particular.   Donald Trump has pledged to build the biggest, most bodacious wall ever, separating the United States from Mexico. He has proposed sending up to 11 million illegal aliens back to Mexico, denying entry to all Muslims, apparently including the leaders of Muslim countries, requiring Muslims who are already here legally to wear ID bracelets (akin to Jews in the Hitler era), and shutting down Mosques.

He has suggested ending the practice known as Anchor Babies, which would have conceivably eliminated two of his competitors (Rubio and Jindal), and once again raised the specter of Birtherism, which threatens the candidacy of another competitor (Cruz). Oh, did I mention he promises to carpet bomb Muslim countries until the sand glows in the dark? The most interesting thing about all of this is, one or more of his fellow GOP candidates has agreed with and co-signed each of the aforementioned gambits.

While all of the above patently reflect both the trademark over-the-top nature of the Trump approach to campaigning, and his appeal to many of his supporters, it doesn’t even begin to touch upon his and his Party’s tenuous relationship with black voters. The Black Lives Movement emerged from a series of incidents in which blacks have been shot and or killed, usually by police officers. The group has taken a number of steps to protest this seeming unchecked, and frequently unpunished violence on black folks. Protest is a typical staple of their repertoire. Mr. Trump, especially, has dissed the movement, refused to engage their representatives, and had representatives of the group brusquely, if not violently, removed from his rallies.

I understand that, Herman Cain in 2012, and now and Ben Carson, notwithstanding, the GOP regularly writes off black voters. Both, in their own way, have suggested that blacks are brain washed. Neither the Hermanator, nor Dr. Gifted hands is here to defend himself. Still, I suggest that black voters are not brain washed, and thankfully, neither are they brain dead. In fact, given all the points cited above, such a relentless stream of abusive rhetoric is bound to temper any likelihood that African Americans, Latinos in general, Mexicans in particular, and Muslims would think twice, at the very least, before voting for Mr. Trump. Curiously, that has not prevented him, when handicapping himself, from asserting that he will not only do very well with these groups, but that he will win the Latino/Mexican and African American vote. Moreover, he insists that we “love” him.

Last night Trump took another controversial step in his quest to win in Iowa, and ultimately the Presidency. Party insiders will likely debate the virtue of this move for some time. He added the endorsement of 2008 Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. In endorsing the Donald, the former Governor gave a rambling soliloquy in which she insisted Trump, he of the gold-plated personal jet, is not elitist. She intoned that his largess sometimes gets in the way of his quiet generosity. Say what?

A readily discernible irony about all this is there is a historical context for black folks supporting the Republican Party. After all, President Lincoln ended slavery for God’s sake. That surely positioned the Party as the odds on favorite. The Civil Rights Movement and the ensuing legislation that emerged as a result were instrumental in rewiring the political grid. In the CliffNotes version of this segment of the story, President Johnson signed fundamentally axis-tilting Civil Rights legislation, followed by President Nixon fostering and implementing the Southern Strategy. When the dust from those two mega-policy shifts, whites in the South moved in significant numbers to the GOP column, and black all across the country, by numbers at least as substantial moved to the Democratic Party. Thus it has been since the 70’s.

The Party line as recited by GOP operatives is President Obama has destroyed the country, wrecked the Presidency, killed the economy, strengthened our enemies, and made enemies or at the very least, political agnostics of our historical allies. The make this contention despite having colluded to oppose, deny, and defeat his every initiative, starting the day he was originally Sworn-in. In keeping with their commitment, they refused to approve President Obama’s jobs bills, (every single one of them) voted against his Healthcare legislation, they opposed his auto bailout, stimulus package, and bank bailouts, and of course, refused to approve immigration legislation, common sense gun reform, even after 26 elementary school children were murdered, as you recall, they shut down the government. On top of all that, they refused to extend the debt ceiling in time for the country to avoid losing for the first time ever its highest level Triple A Bond Rating.

This pervasive and insidious anti-government mindset is the ideological bent that has taken hold of the Grand Old Party and it threatens to hold our country hostage. They (the GOP-T Party rank and file whom support Trump’ and his ilk’s brutishly abrasive hectoring) wish, they say, to take “their country back.” Some folks inquire, from whom? I, alternately, am more prone to ask, “to where?”

It seems to me this effort is about turning back the clock, and taking us “back” to a period when the Stars and Bars prevailed, a time when people of color had no rights that white folks were bound to recognize, and an era in which the Confederate States of America did what they damn well pleased. During the recent debate over removing the Confederate Flag from the South Carolina Statehouse, supporters argued the flag was a symbol of heritage. I believe that is exactly what it is; a symbol of heritage, and that the heritage it represented was that of slavery and pre-Emancipation. To wit, I leave you with a single thought…”The Modern GOP: Trending Toward Legacy or Lunacy?” The jury is out, the verdict pending.

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SOTU #8: President Obama’s Last Stand

It’s time to Break It Down!

Last year, the day after the State of the Union, I posted a blog entitled State of the Union: Designated Survivor – ( The story highlighted a practice that grew out of the Cold War, in which the Administration leaves one official back at the White House, in the event that some catastrophe takes out the President, his Administration, much of Congress, and several members of the Supreme Court. Just for the record, this year’s Designated Survivor is Jeh Johnson, Department of Homeland Security Secretary. For more specifics on the practice, click the link above to review the post.

Now, moving to SOTU 2016, at 9:05 p.m. last night, Paul D. Irving, Sergeant at Arms of the United States House of Representatives, announced President Obama’s arrival to those assembled in the House Chamber for the President’s 8th and final State of the Union (SOTU) Address. House Speaker Paul Ryan then formally introduced him to those in the Chamber. Against that backdrop, replete with pomp, circumstance, and a packed Chamber, the 44th President of the United States went to work. For the next 60 minutes or so, as much as any President in these hyper-partisan times could, the President owned the room.

By the accounts of even a number of Republicans, he gave a great speech. Most Democrats on record appeared to characterize it as his best. I’ve seen all eight, and while I am loathe to attempt to cite chapter and verse from past addresses, I agree, he rose to the occasion in an outstanding, if cerebral, and occasionally spirited way.

Mr. Obama framed his focus not on just next year, but on the next five years, or 10 years. As he ultimately put, his remarks focused on our future. In that regard, he promised not to immerse himself in traditional listing of proposals, but on thematic directions to achieve the very best outcomes for Americans.

In talking about our collective future, the President posed four overarching questions. They were:

First, how do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in  this new economy?

Second, how do we make technology work for us, and not against us – especially when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change?

Third, how do we keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman?

Finally, how can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst?

President Obama replied serially to the questions, but before he began addressing the issue of fully integrating American participation in a fully functioning economy, he offered his own fact check on the matter. He noted that the US has the world’s strongest and most durable economy. We are in the midst of the longest streak of private sector job creation in history, totaling more than 14 million new jobs. Most recently, we have experienced the strongest two years of job growth since the 90’s; an unemployment rate cut in half, an auto industry that just had its best year ever, and the creation of over 900,000 new manufacturing jobs over the past six years. With relish, he injected that we’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by nearly three-quarters.

In a direct jab at consistently harsh GOP rhetoric, the President noted that those who assert that our economy is in decline are peddling fiction. Mr. Obama, in further distilling the state of the economy, clarified that the economy has been changing in profound ways. This shift began long before the Great Recession hit, and it persists. By this he meant technology can and often does replace any job, not just those on the assembly line. Moreover, companies in a global economy can locate anywhere, and face tougher competition. Thusly, workers have less leverage to negotiate a raise, companies have less loyalty to communities, and fewer individuals in the upper echelon secure and control an inordinately greater share of wealth and income.

The President posited that real opportunity requires every American to get the education and training they need to land a good-paying job. He lauded No Child Left Behind, and zeroed in on the need to provide Pre-K for all in the future. Hands-on computer science and math classes will aid making students job-ready on day one, while we must also recruit and support great teachers. In making an observation that caused several of those assembled to blush, the President spoke in support of providing necessary benefits and protections, adding, “After all, it’s not much of a stretch to say that some of the only people in America who are going to work the same job, in the same place, with a health and retirement package, for 30 years, are sitting in this chamber. For everyone else, especially folks in their forties and fifties, saving for retirement or bouncing back from job loss has gotten a lot tougher.”

We know that in this new changing economy, at some point in our careers, we may have to retool. But that should not mean losing what we’ve worked hard to build. To that end Social Security and Medicare are more important than ever; we shouldn’t weaken them, we should strengthen them. And for Americans short of retirement, basic benefits should be just as mobile as everything else is today. That’s what the Affordable Care Act is all about. It’s about filling the gaps in employer-based care so that when we lose a job, or go back to school, or start that new business, we’ll still have coverage. Nearly eighteen million have gained coverage so far. Health care inflation has slowed. And our businesses have created jobs every single month since it became law.

The President pledged his belief in a thriving private sector, noting it’s the lifeblood of our economy. While conceding there are outdated regulations that need to be changed, and red tape that needs to be cut, he also observed that working families have not been the beneficiaries of years of record corporate profits. Those families do not get bigger paychecks by letting big banks or big oil or hedge funds make their own rules at everyone else’s’ expense; or by allowing attacks on collective bargaining to go unanswered.

The President argued that “Food Stamp recipients didn’t cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did. Immigrants aren’t the reason wages haven’t gone up enough; those decisions are made in the boardrooms that too often put quarterly earnings over long-term returns. It’s sure not the average family watching tonight that avoids paying taxes through offshore accounts.”

The second question was, “How do we reignite that spirit of innovation to meet our biggest challenges?”

Mr. Obama referenced the Vice President, saying, “Last year, Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot, America can cure cancer. Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources they’ve had in over a decade. Tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past forty years, I’m putting Joe in charge of Mission Control. For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the family we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.”

He mentioned the science resistant strain of Americans that still dispute climate change, citing their apparent loneliness. He advised that folks on that island are “debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it.” He would end that element of the conversation by challenging American businesses to produce and sell the energy of the future.

This brings us to question 3, “How do we keep America safe and strong without either isolating ourselves or trying to nation-build everywhere there’s a problem?”

He began with a robust repudiation of the baseline notion of “our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker,” a notion he characterized as “political hot air,” just as he did the idea of our economic decline. He went on to frame it thusly:

“The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined. Our troops are the finest fighting force in the history of the world. No nation dares to attack us or our allies because they know that’s the path to ruin. Surveys show our standing around the world is higher than when I was elected to this office, and when it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead – they call us.

As someone who begins every day with an intelligence briefing, I know this is a dangerous time. But that’s not because of diminished American strength or some looming superpower. In today’s world, we’re threatened less by evil empires and more by failing states. The Middle East is going through a transformation that will play out for a generation, rooted in conflicts that date back millennia. Economic headwinds blow from a Chinese economy in transition. Even as their economy contracts, Russia is pouring resources to prop up Ukraine and Syria – states they see slipping away from their orbit. And the international system we built after World War II is now struggling to keep pace with this new reality.

It’s up to us to help remake that system. And that means we have to set priorities.”

At the top of the list of priorities he placed protecting the American people and going after terrorist networks. He recognized that both al Qaeda and now ISIL pose a direct threat to our people. They use the Internet to poison the minds of individuals inside our country and they undermine our allies.

However, we are addressing the problem directly. The U.S. leads a coalition of over 60 countries to cut off ISIL’s financing, disrupt their plots, stop the flow of terrorist fighters, and stamp out this vicious ideology. As a result of over 10,000 air strikes we are eliminating their leadership, their oil, their training camps, and their weapons. We are also training, arming, and supporting forces who are reclaiming territory in Iraq and Syria.

Finally, on this score, he challenged Congress. “If this Congress is serious about winning this war, and wants to send a message to our troops and the world, you should finally authorize the use of military force against ISIL.”

Question 4, was “How can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst?”

President Obama reminded all that our Constitution begins with three simple words, “We the People.” He injected that this means all the people.   He declared that the future we want, which includes opportunity and security for our families, a rising standard of living and a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids – all are attainable, but only if all of us engage. And we will only achieve it if we fix our politics.

Mr. Obama clarified by adding, a better politics doesn’t mean we must agree on everything. However, democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens. It breaks down when the average person feels their voice doesn’t matter; that the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some narrow interest. Too many Americans feel that way right now.

After laying down the challenge, he added, “This cannot be my task – or any President’s – alone. It will only happen when the American people demand it. It will depend on you. That’s what’s meant by a government of, by, and for the people.”

Mr. Obama admitted that what he’s asking for is hard. “It’s easier to be cynical. But if we give up now, then we forsake a better future.”

In closing, the President put the onus squarely on the American people. He said:

“So, my fellow Americans, whatever you may believe, whether you prefer one party or no party, our collective future depends on your willingness to uphold your obligations as a citizen.”

At 10:11 p.m., the President, in bidding adieu to the assembly announced firmly,

“That’s why I stand here confident that the State of our Union is strong.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.”

At 10:19 p.m., Speaker Paul Ryan adjourned the House until 9 a.m. this morning.

That’s the story of “SOTU #8: President Obama’s Last Stand!”

I’m done; holla back!

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The Oregon Standoff: This Is Why We’re Hot!

It’s time to Break It Down!

On January 23, 2007 the Rapper Mims released a track, MIMS – This Is Why I’m Hot ( It’s a catchy tune that detailed and contrasted why the artist was hot, with why some other, more hyped performers were not. Hot in this context means cool, relevant, or “what’s happening now.”

As it relates to the title above, “Hot” means angry, perturbed, and vehement. To that end it is critical, in my view, to elevate and discuss the actions of the self-labeled militiamen (that is citizens carrying firearms, to be clear) who came to Oregon, and who have broken into and taken control of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge facility near Burns, Oregon.

The Fish and Wildlife Service and The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have received reports that an unknown number of individuals broke into the facility over the weekend.  In their reporting the Wildlife Service and BLM (not to be confused with Black Lives Matter; ironic though) noted while the situation is ongoing, the main concern is employee safety. The agencies confirmed that no federal staff members were in the building at the time of the initial incident. Authorities pledged to continue monitoring the situation for additional developments.

The aforementioned irony in the usage of the acronym BLM revolves around the contentious & suspicious way in which the Black Lives Matter movement has been discussed by numerous media outlets. It is fair to say there is an uproar stemming from some corners anytime the group is mentioned. Much of that ado has to do with the arms’ length nature in which BLM deals with black-on-black violence. Yet, BLM does not promote arming African Americans; rather it promotes sacred nature and value proposition of black and brown lives, which too often are prematurely ended by gun violence perpetrated by operatives of the state, most often police officers. It must also be noted, that many of these victims are unarmed.

At the Wildlife Refuge, the occupying “militiamen” were heavily armed, and boldly asserted that they will be staying as long as it takes to achieve their objective. Moreover, they added that while they do not intend to use violence, (they are armed and) they would defend themselves. The leaders of this so-called militia come from a family familiar with takeovers and standoffs with the government. Ammon and Ryan Bundy are the sons of Cliven Bundy, who led the 2014 standoff with government officials in Nevada in 2014 over his cattle’s grazing access. That conflict included firearms as well.

So the questions that troubles many African Americans about this situation is why are these men not characterized as terrorists? Why are media and officials not bandying about words such as insurrection, revolt, or anti-government insurgents?

Considering this is a group of unknown size and undefined firepower that has taken over a federal building with plans and quite possibly supporting equipment to facilitate a years-long occupation – and when the group’s representative articulates that they would prefer to avoid violence but…are prepared to die – the notion that officials are choosing to employ such nuanced language is, for lack of better phrasing, astoundingly enlightening. After all, given the apparent nationwide trend of law enforcement officers fearing for their lives, even when the black suspects they happen to be dealing with are unarmed, and their being forced, as a result, to escalate the response continuum to maximum deadly force, this fearless, convivial mode of associating with the Bundy’s armed alliance is perplexing, at the very least.

It is virtually unfathomable that none of the major media outlets, or any of the local officials has opted to use the words insurrection or revolt. If for instance, a group of black Americans took possession of a federal or state courthouse to protest the police, what are the odds such a sober, balanced, and unemotional tone would carry the day? Black Americans outraged about the death of Tamir Rice at the hands of police or concerned about the absence of a conviction in the George Zimmerman case have been frequently and inaccurately lumped in with criminals and looters, described as “thugs,” or marauding wolf packs where drugs are obviously in use, according to one national cable anchor.

Suppose a group of armed Muslims took possession of a federal building to protest calls to surveil the entire group? Would they not be likely to endure even harsher consequences and repercussions?

Yes, it is appropriate to note that there have been no reports of violence, injury, or anyone being held inside of the facility against their will. Yet. Some experts are theorizing that the strategy federal and local officials are using is one designed to let the media storm die before taking action. This ostensibly will permit some of the intensity around the issue to recede, and for calmer heads to prevail. I’m willing to wager that Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Jonathan Ferrell, and Jonathan Ferrell, just to name a handful, would all have appreciated such a state sponsored decompression period before their fateful encounters with authority became fatal.

I can appreciate the need to avoid inflaming the situation through the use of irresponsible language. That sort of judiciousness is appropriate always. Still, it is equally justifiable to remember the event that led to this takeover. A number of folks reacted to the decision to charge a father and son rancher duo, Dwight Hammond, Jr., and son Steven Hammond with arson under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. The charge, for which they both were convicted, carries a 5-year jail term. I reiterate they were convicted!

Acquaintances of the Hammonds may very well disagree with the government’s decision to charge and prosecute the pair, accordingly. But what of the outrage that inures from black Americans being far more likely than whites to face serious charges and jail time rather than misdemeanor penalties for resisting arrest? Where has the lock-step adherence to careful and delicate language been during all of 2015 when unarmed black Americans were disproportionately more likely to be killed by police officers than others?

But let us also note, in addition to the apparent incongruity prominently displayed in this situation, the Hammonds are not numbered among the Bundy’s armed alliance. Both Hammond men have surrendered to authorities so that they may serve the balance of their 5-year terms. Ammon Bundy, one of Cliven son’s, and the occupation organizer, has repeated two themes. The occupiers are armed and prepared to die, and they anticipate holding the facility indefinitely.

The precisely limited and incredibly soft language choices of media and governmental officials seem to extend beyond simply deliberate phrasing. The characterization of the events in Oregon reflect the business as usual shape of our collective assumptions about the relationship between race and guilt – or religion and violent extremism – in the United States.

If one is white, his activities and ideas are thought to stem from a font of principled and committed individuals. Because this is deemed the baseline presumption, group suspicion and presumed guilt are readily perceived and described as unjust, unreasonable and unethical. I’m sure you have noted, the occupiers in Oregon are assuredly all or nearly all white. Yet, that has scarcely been mentioned in media reports. You may also have noted that nothing close to similar can be said about coverage of events in Missouri, Maryland, New York, Illinois, Ohio, or any other place where questions about policing have devolved into protests or riots.

In Charleston, there was extended debate about whether to indicate that shooter Dylann Roof’s racially motivate shooting spree was an act of terrorism or even violent racism?

In San Bernardino, a number of news organizations rapidly hinted at and then began using the term Islamic extremism to describe the mass shooting in that city. It appeared almost reflexive.

The sometimes coded but increasing overt ways that some Americans are presumed guilty and violence-prone while others are presumed to be principled and peaceable unless and until provoked – even when armed – is remarkable. That is the story of…”The Oregon Standoff: This Is Why We’re Hot!”

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