Search results for: "brandenburg"

Blogger G.F. Brandenburg discovered a very clever post by Bill Svelmoe advising Democrats how to handle the hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy C. Barrett.

Don’t attack her personally. Don’t question her religious views. Don’t ask her how she will rule on abortion or Obamacare (nominees never answer questions about cases which they may hear.)

Ask her about Trump’s actions.

Here are a few of his ideas:

Instead Democrats should focus on the past four years of the Trump administration. This has been the most corrupt administration in American history. No need for hypotheticals. The questions are all right there.

Judge Barrett, would you please explain the emoluments clause in the Constitution. [She does.] Judge Barrett, if a president were to refuse to divest himself of his properties and, in fact, continue to steer millions of dollars of tax payer money to his properties, would this violate the emoluments clause?

Then simply go down the list of specific cases in which Trump and his family of grifters have used the presidency to enrich themselves. Ask her repeatedly if this violates the emoluments clause. Include of course using the American ambassador to Britain to try to get the British Open golf tournament at a Trump property. Judge Barrett, does this violate the emoluments clause?

Then turn to the Hatch Act.

Judge Barrett, would you please explain the Hatch Act to the American people. [She does.] Judge Barrett, did Kellyanne Conway violate the Hatch Act on these 60 occasions? [List them. Then after Barrett’s response, and just fyi, the Office of the Special Council already convicted her, ask Barrett this.] When Kellyanne Conway, one of the president’s top advisors openly mocked the Hatch Act after violating it over 60 times, should she have been removed from office?

Then turn to all the other violations of the Hatch Act during the Republican Convention. Get Barrett’s opinion on those.

Then turn to Congressional Oversight.

Judge Barrett, would you please explain to the American people the duties of Congress, according to the Constitution, to oversee the executive branch. [She does so.] Judge Barrett, when the Trump administration refuses time and again [list them] to respond to a subpoena from Congress, is this an obstruction of the constitutional duty of Congress for oversight? Is this an obstruction of justice?

Most people thought that the Paycheck Protection Program would help small businesses survive the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. They were surprised to learn that charter schools, which never lost government funding, scooped up some of the $660 billion.

Guy Brandenburg posted the list of D.C. charter schools that picked up some dough from the PPP.

Many of the D.C. charters are backed by the billionaire Walton family.

In recent days, the public learned that Jeff Bezos’ net worth has soared to more than $170 billion. Bill Gates trails Bezos at “only” $114 billion. The Walton family is in the same range ($150 billion among three of them). This vast accumulation of wealth by a very tiny number of people distorts the entire economy, especially since it contrasts with millions of people who are unemployed, homeless, and living in deep poverty. Is this the America we love? Is this the America that we want?

G.F. Brandenburg has reposted an essay here about the “looting of America” by the super-rich.

To change this imbalance which eats away at the soul of our society, we need the courage to write a new tax code. I don’t know how to write a tax code but I know what inequity looks like. It looks like what we have today.

Time to recommend an important book: The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger.

G.F. Brandenburg writes in this post about the apparent abandonment of the fight against the global pandemic.

Trump has completely lost interest. No good headlines for him, so he has ignored the pandemic altogether. His attitude—and his stubborn refusal to wear a mask—signals that the danger is past. He has made clear that the stock market means more to him than death rates, so no more attention to the daily death toll.

As he resumes his mass rallies, with MAGA fans packed together, he won’t wear a mask, and neither will they.

Those of us who live in hard-hit New York will watch with interest as Trump encourages his followers to ignore all precautions while he will be at least 50-100 feet from his adoring, unmasked fans.

Sweden decided not to close down its economy. It took a bet that its population would quickly develop “herd immunity,” so it allowed life to proceed without restricting gatherings or requiring quarantines and social distancing.

In other words, the Swedes acted from the start as many governors are acting now. Don’t worry about the pandemic. Life goes on as usual.

G.F. Brandenburg reports on how that worked out.

The short answer: Not well.

G.F. Brandenburg reposts an essay by Talia Levin about how she infiltrated various far-right extremist groups by join8ngbthem under an alias and joined their website.

She describes how she created Facebook pages with false identities to insinuate herself into far-right networks.

She writes:

I use a fake Facebook account, which I’ve used dozens of times for this and similar purposes. The name is false, and the profile is built out with an array of far-right groups, “patriotic” interests, and dog-whistle posts designed to maintain plausibility. I’ve made so many accounts on so many apps over the past few years that I have to take care not to lose track of my pseudonyms. Although it kicked into high gear during research for my book on the online far right, infiltrating hate groups isn’t just a strange hobby or a journalistic endeavor; it’s antifascism.

She reminds me that we should all be “anti-fascist.” We fought a war in the early 1940s to rid the world of fascism.

Shouldn’t we all be anti-fascist?”

Why is Trump so terrified of a group called Antifa?

G.F. Brandenburg cites Jared Yates Sexton’s “American Rule: How a Nation Conquered the a World But Failed Its People.”

I am not sure what part of the essay is Sexton and what part is Brandenburg. It almost doesn’t matter because the point is well made, that MAGA is a fascist movement. Trump’s many references to his genetic superiority, to “good blood,” “good bloodline” are unsubtle references to a fascistic philosophy of white supremacy. Sexton is a writer who has drawn the ire of the MAGA crowd. Sexton learned that if you correctly name Trump’s racist, anti-Semitic tweets, you can expect to be called a dirty Jew (he is a southern Baptist).

Considering Trump believes in inherent superiority and has shown himself as an unrepentant white supremacist you need to understand that fascism can exist without uniforms, torch-lit rallies, military insignia, and overt displays of fascism.

It is a philosophy, a worldview.
When we’re talking about walls against immigrants, we’re talking about protecting against “the rising tide of color against white supremacy.”

We’re talking about protecting white people, who are inherently “superior” from stock that would hurt their blood and culture.

When we’re talking about “Make America Great Again,” we’re talking about reaffirming white supremacy in our laws and culture.

We’re talking about white supremacy in action and in practice as the right and true nature of the world and in defeating attacks against it.

Trump’s politics shares a direct “bloodline” with the politics of Lindbergh and white supremacist authoritarians. It even uses the same phrases, the same stances, the same philosophy of how the world works and that some are inherently better than others.

That…is fascism.

These things are glaringly obvious when you know the history. You can hear what Trump is saying, what he’s hinting toward with remarks about Ford and bloodlines and “good people.”

It is a worldview that is inherently prejudiced and inherently white supremacist.

The problem is that American history is scrubbed clean of its fascistic and white supremacist elements in its common teaching.

This is on purpose and it is meant to propel the myth of American Exceptionalism and hide our generations’ of crimes.

And when American history is scrubbed clean of its crimes and stains, what happens is that the myth grows into a political and secular religion.

That’s what Trumpism is. A concentrated and dedicated fight to protect white supremacy and the altered reality that aids it.

Make no mistake, fascism is not relegated to an aberration in the 20th century in Europe.

Fascism is part of the human condition and can happen anywhere, including America, which has a rich and frightening fascist history.

Unfortunately, we’re seeing that now.
You have to learn this history, the real history of America, to understand where we’ve come from, where we are, and where we’re going.

There’s nothing innocuous about Trump, Trumpism, or this fascistic rhetoric. It’s a call to our past and unfortunately our future.

G.F. Brandenburg wonders where the $2 trillion is going.

A retired math teacher, he did the numbers. If every American gets $1,200, that’s $400 billion. That’s 20%.

Who gets the other 80%?

Politico reported on April 8 that Trump insists that there be no oversight of the $2 trillion.

Apparently he thinks it was appropriated by Congress solely for him to dispense as he wishes.

WATCHMEN — As the Trump administration begins pumping trillions of taxpayer dollars into the economy, none of the built-in oversight mechanisms are even close to functional, Congress reporter Kyle Cheney writes. Congressional leaders have appointed just one of five members to a commission meant to serve as lawmakers’ eyes on Trump administration decisions for a $500 billion fund for distressed industries. An inspector general nominated by Trump intended to provide a second check has already generated controversy among Democrats, and the president’s sidelining of the chairman of a third independent overseer set back the one mechanism that appeared on track.

Friends? Family? Cronies? Campaign donors?

The potential for massive corruption is worse than you can imagine under a president with a long history of bankruptcies, tax evasion, stiffing creditors, and bending the rules to benefit himself, his family, and his company—and Republican Senators are his willing accomplices.

This was in Politico yesterday:

THE CORONAVIRUS crisis has brought to the fore two trends that, when put together, are a tad alarming.

GOVERNMENT IS GROWING, and becoming far more crucial in our everyday lives.

— JARED KUSHNER is in the middle of discussing a plan to track what health care we are receiving. … THE TREASURY is doling out checks to families and individuals. … THE SBA is giving grants to businesses to help them cover payroll. … THE GOVERNMENT has the ability to take a significant equity stake in one or more of the nation’s airlines.

YET, GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT is shrinking.

— THE PRESIDENT has fired two inspectors general, and, if you believe reports, is planning on firing more. … THE ADMINISTRATION has routinely flouted subpoenas for appearances and documents. … SENATE REPUBLICANS have shrunk from checking the president.

THE KIND OF INTERVENTION into the economy that we are seeing right now typically requires stringent oversight over many years. KYLE CHENEY writes that “none of the built-in oversight mechanisms are even close to functional.” ANDREW DESIDERIO reports on a bipartisan group of senators asking Trump for answers about the intelligence community IG firing.

— AND NOW THIS: “Recovery bill allows the Fed to spend billions without keeping records,” by Maggie Severns and Victoria Guida: “Tucked into the recent recovery bill was a provision granting the Federal Reserve the right to set up a $450 billion bailout plan without following key provisions of the federal open meetings law, including announcing its meetings or keeping most records about them, according to a POLITICO review of the legislation.

“The provision, the existence of which has not been previously reported, further calls into question the transparency and oversight for the biggest bailout law ever passed by Congress. President Donald Trump has indicated he does not plan to comply with another part of the new law intended to boost Congress’ oversight powers of the bailout funds. …

“The changes at the central bank – which appear to have been inserted into the 880-page bill by sympathetic senators during the scramble to get it approved — would address a complaint that the Fed faced during the 2008 financial crisis, when board members couldn’t easily hold group conversations to address the fast-moving economic turmoil.”

Here is a constructed response question:

Why does the Trump administration want little oversight as it dispenses $2 trillion in aid? Why are Senate Republicans agreeable to Trump’s removal of independent monitors in government agencies?

G.T. (Guy) Brandenburg is a retired teacher who taught for many years in the D.C. Public Schools. He has a sharp eye and digs deep before he writes. He achieved a measure of fame when Michelle Rhee was chancellor. She boasted that as a young TFA teacher she had brought her students’ scores from the 13th percentile to the 90th percentile. A number of national publications quoted this remarkable feat, but Brandenburg did the research. The records for the classroom where she taught could not be found but he was able to find test scores for the school and the cohort and declared that her claim was implausible. Eventually, the mainstream media stopped repeating the claim and understood it as an urban legend.

I knew when I sent SLAYING GOLIATH to Brandenburg that it would be rigorously fact-checked. That’s the kind of reader he is.

Here is his review.

Blogger and retired D.C. teacher G. F. Brandenburg reminds us that Dr. King was not always popular. White racists in the south and the north hated his advocacy for equal rights for black people. Followers of Malcolm X thought he was weak-kneed. Even supposedly liberal whites thought he went too far when he announced that he would lead a campaign against poverty. When he spoke out against the war in Vietnam, President Lyndon B. Johnson was furious, and many editorialists and even other civil rights leaders distanced themselves from him. They thought that Dr. King was wrong to offend the President and wrong to link his stand on civil rights and opposition to the war in Vietnam.

We admire Dr. King today because he dared to take a stand on what mattered, even if it upset the powerful. You cannot comfort the powerful and the afflicted simultaneously. At some point, you must take a stand. You can’t claim to be on the side of “the kids,” at the same time that you oppose raising taxes for the public services that the kids and their families need. As the saying goes, a hero comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. Dr. King never bowed to his critics.

Brandenburg writes:

When King spoke against the American war in Vietnam and against segregation and discrimination in Northern states, he drew a lot of sharp attacks, even from the NYT:

‘The New York Times editorial board lambasted King for linking the war in Vietnam to the struggles of civil rights and poverty alleviation in the United States, saying it was “too facile a connection” and that he was doing a “disservice” to both causes. It concluded that there “are no simple answers to the war in Vietnam or to racial injustice in this country.” The Washington Post editorial board said King had “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country and his people.” A political cartoon in the Kansas City Star depicted the civil rights movement as a young black girl crying and begging for her drunk father King, who is consuming the contents of a bottle labeled “Anti-Vietnam.”

‘In all, 168 newspapers denounced him the next day. Johnson ended his formal relationship with King. “What is that goddamned nigger preacher doing to me?” Johnson reportedly remarked after the Riverside speech. “We gave him the Civil Rights Act of 1964, we gave him the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we gave him the war on poverty. What more does he want?”

‘The African-American establishment, fearful of Johnson’s reaction, also distanced itself from King.

‘The NAACP under the leadership of Roy Wilkins refused to oppose the war and explicitly condemned the effort to link the peace and civil rights movements. Whitney Young, the leader of the National Urban League, warned that “Johnson needs a consensus. If we are not with him on Vietnam, then he is not going to be with us on civil rights.”