Re: "... That political support by the blacks for Democrats is starting to crack and it won't be long until that support turns Republican. ..."
True, dickw. As I previously said, at this rate Trump may very well double or triple his support from blacks and could end up with 2 to 3% of the black vote.
SHEP SMITH OF FOX NEWS TELLS THE TRUTH ABOUT VOTER ID — AND CONSERVATIVES FREAK OUT
Arturo Garcia / Raw Story / 31 AUG 2016
Fox News host Shepard Smith drew the ire of conservatives online on Wednesday after reporting on the Supreme Court’s decision not to reinstate North Carolina’s voter ID law for the November election.
“North Carolina had put in one of those ‘You have to show an ID’ rules which so often in Republican states are designed to keep some minorities from being able to vote, and they tried to reduce the number of voting days,” Smith explained. “The US Supreme Court says that will not happen.”
HEY, KATRINA PIERSON: WHEN IT COMES TO UTTER STUPIDITY, THAT’S DONALD TRUMP’S JOB!
The Republican presidential nominee’s spokeswoman has become an infinite loop of gaffes, which makes one wonder how Pierson keeps her job.
Michael Arceneaux / The Root / August 29, 2016
In Soul Food, Big Mama had to come to the realization that all those Sunday dinners had led her to develop what many of us refer to as “the sugar,” and ultimately she had to submit to doctor’s orders to have her leg amputated. In Old Yeller, Travis realizes that after his beloved pet contracts rabies, he has to shoot his dog. In other words, choices have consequences, and life happens and you must react accordingly.
To that end, when it comes to the issue of Donald Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson and her numerous gaffes in recent months, one wonders: “How in the hell does she continue to have that job?”
Now, Pierson has always had a contentious relationship with the truth, long treated history like a frenemy and has shown herself repeatedly to be enamored with sounding as if she’s one side short of a proper fish dinner. Pierson, much like her boss, GOP presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, is consistent in her inconsistency. She will forgo ideology when it suits her professional interest and, as a former ardent supporter of Ted Cruz, shift allegiances when opportunity knocks.
“When Donald says, ‘I think you’re great, I really want you to work for me,’ I don’t think any sane person would say no to that,” Pierson explained to Politico last November.
If only she had phoned a friend.
Even if I think Pierson has no idea what she’s talking about most of the time and holds viewpoints sour enough to cause stomach cramping, I do salute someone who was born to a teen mom, lived on welfare and ended up having her own child at a young age, yet still has managed to rise to the level that she has. Nonetheless, Pierson probably needs to be taken off television and sent to a public library. Preferably the sooner, the better.
Recently Pierson claimed that President Barack Obama started the war in Afghanistan—a fascinating claim given that at the time, Obama was just a state senator in Illinois. When responding to the death of Capt. Humayun Khan, which occurred in 2004 in Iraq, Pierson said, “It was under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton that changed the rules of engagement that probably cost his life.” When alerted to reality, Pierson then claimed that “tens of thousands of soldiers” had been lost and “1 million” soldiers were wounded. No.
Oh, and one can’t ignore that she also plays the role of doctor sometimes, diagnosing Hillary Clinton with dysphasia, a rare disorder related to brain disease. This is all during the month of August. Never mind Pierson’s past instances of foolishness. Like, say, questioning Marco Rubio’s citizenship earlier this year. Or late last year, when she asked, “What is the point in having a good nuclear triad if you are afraid to use it?”
Then there is her Twitter history, an orgy of vapidity and intolerance.
I’m not sure what Pierson’s goals are beyond this campaign. Will she run for office again? Does she want a radio talk show? Is she hoping for a cable news contract? Might she want to angle for future spokesperson jobs for politicians in the future?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, she ought to consider resigning and taking up the hobby of being informed while speaking.
And if you are the Trump campaign, why would you continue having this painfully unqualified person unnecessarily create additional problems for Donald Trump? When it comes to sabotaging the Trump campaign with utter stupidity, that’s Donald Trump’s job. Everyone else’s job is to play the role of cleanup crew.
Trump surrogate Steve Cortes is particularly good at it. As is Trump’s new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, who is exceptional at making her walking-Klan-rally of a candidate sound more like a business-casual white nationalist. Unfortunately, Pierson has yet to reach that level of sociopathy.
I’m not saying that Pierson can’t one day reach such high marks of delusion and that she cannot one day become as good a liar as some of her co-workers. It’s just that it’s been nearly a year now and she’s showing that she’s the drunken karaoke singer to their Adele. When asked about potentially losing, Trump told CNBC, “I go back to a very good way of life.”
Katrina Pierson probably won’t have as nice a scenario as Trump if she keeps dousing her foot with honey barbecue sauce and inserting it into her mouth again and again on national television.
I think it’s cute that Trump is pretending to give a damn about black people lately, but most of us know that to be a farce. Still, he should do the one black person who will actually vote for him a solid and bench her.
For all the “woke” brothers and sisters on TV these days, the black surrogates of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump are providing an ignorant balance to the universe.
LAWRENCE ROSS / The Root / August 31, 2016
So you’re chilling on the couch, sipping on a cold glass of red Kool-Aid, and you decide to turn on cable news. Maybe it’s MSNBC, CNN, or god forbid, FOX News, but all you want is an honest discussion of the presidential election. Just a bit of information you can repurpose as a Facebook post or a clever tweet. And then boom! You see brothers and sisters dropping dimes of knowledge left and right. Marc Lamont Hill, Joy Ann Reid, Van Jones, Angela Rye and Charles Blow, all of whom are nice with theirs, are just killing their white conservative opponents intellectually, while still finding time to give the camera some, ‘Yeah, I heard that too, but don’t worry, I got this…” secret black code facial expressions to the black headnodders in the viewing audience.
Life is good.
But even as the Black Intellectual Justice League chops up fools left and right, you get a foreboding because you’ve been black in this country for 94.56 percent of your life (don’t trip, we remember when you were caping for Robin Thicke back in the day. You ain’t slick. You lost points for that.) And you just know that the American white supremacist media structure ain’t abouts to allow black magical brilliance to just happen. Deep in our soul, we know there’s a secret panic button that the media uses to create a diametric counter weight to black wokeness. And with the truth being spit with such ease, now is the time to press that button.
“Get us a Black Trump Surrogate, stat!”
As the split screen reveals the Black Trump Surrogate, you do a ‘Whoa. Who is this Negro?’ mental check of your database of black folks, hoping against hope that their last name isn’t close to anyone in your immediate or extended family. That means a quick call to the keeper of black family genealogy:
‘Momma, do we have any Katrina Piersons in our family? No? Cool. Okay, I know that we have a bunch of bootleg preachers, but do you remember any relatives named Darrell Scott or Mark Burns? A’right, I think we’re good.’
Now that you’ve dodged that bullet, you grab your high blood pressure medicine, turn back to the cable news debate, and brace yourself to hear the crazy that is gonna come out of the Black Trump Surrogate’s mouth. And over the past 14 months, the crazy has flowed like the River Jordan. But who are these black folks? Well…
First you have Katrina Pierson, Donald Trump’s official spokeswoman, who is known for heisting stuff that ain’t hers, and for saying some official crazy madness, like ‘President Obama started the war in Afghanistan’ uh…an amazing overestimation of the power of then Illinois state senator Barack Obama. But Katrina wasn’t done, claiming that Trump’s Muslim ban was not a Muslim ban.
You can’t make this up. Believe me, I tried.
Remember Bruce LeVell, the Georgia jeweler who was absolutely fileted by Charles Blow for supporting a bigot in Donald Trump? LeVell was one of Trump’s earliest supporters, proclaiming after a meeting in 2015, “Donald Trump is not a racist, guys.”
Well, if Donald Trump isn’t a racist, then he’s definitely racistish in what he does and says. Apparently, LeVell saw no racism in Trump’s birtherism, his declaration that Mexico was exporting rapists to America, and that an American judge with Mexican heritage couldn’t be fair because Trump was building a wall. Nah, LaVell just thinks that’s your mind playing tricks on you. Cue the Geto Boys intro.
And who can forget the Black Trump Surrogates from the ratchet section of politics, Lynette “Diamond” Hardaway and Rochelle “Silk” Richardson. These two sat down for an interview with fellow Trump supporter…and white nationalist…John Friend, a guy who once wrote, “The only real, authentic kind of Americans there are, considering the racial group that settled, built, founded, and developed this once great nation, are those of White European descent.”
Favorites on the alt-right, particularly with the Breitbart website crowd, Diamond and Silk gained fame denigrating the Black Lives Matter movement by saying in a YouTube video, “If your black life really matters, you wouldn’t march in the streets and be blocking traffic. Someone can run you over. Duh!”
Yeah. I lost brain cells over it too.
Another Black Trump Surrogate, the Not-So-Good Reverend Darrell Scott, once gave this explanation for why black folks weren’t running to support Trump:
“The thing that kills is this: Black people believe satire. Black people believe parody. I had a guy that I considered to be a very intelligent person send me a headline from a satire website that said ‘Donald Trump Plans on Deporting All African-Americans back to Africa,’ and he believed it.”
So there you have it. Reverend Scott’s explanation for the reason why black folks aren’t voting for Donald Trump: We’re too stupid and gullible to know what’s good for us. And even though Donald Trump, and his racist Daddy Warbucks Fred Trump, were so known for racial discrimination against blacks in New York housing, that the government sued them, and Woody Gutrie even wrote a song about it, nah, we’re just dupes for fake websites.
Apparently, Donald Trump likes to over index in Black Trump Surrogates who are ministers of this church or the other. For example, Omarosa Manigault stretched her fifteen minutes of The Apprentice fame to sixteen by becoming Trump’s Director of African-American Outreach. I assume Omarosa was given the job because Stacey Dash was still trying to figure out why she was asked to appear at the Academy Awards. But give Omarosa credit, as she will go down in history as having done enough effective black outreach to drive African American support in many states down to zero. But still she says, “My reality is that I’m surrounded by people who want to see Donald Trump as the next president of the United States who are African-American.” I imagine those ‘people’ are really just one guy, Dr. Ben Carson, who is asleep in the corner.
But last, but not least, is Pastor Mark Burns, who when he’s not screaming into a microphone at the Republican National Convention, is busy tweeting out racist cartoons. Oh…and also not understanding the difference between when to use ‘do’ and when to use ‘does.’
Sorry, not sorry. My petty runs deep.
WHY TROT THESE BLACK TRUMP SURROGATES OUT? THE GOP KNOWS IT HAS A MINORITY PROBLEM, PER ITS POST 2012 AUTOPSY, SO THE PARTY UNDERSTANDS THAT IT MUST PRETEND TO CREATE SOME SORT OF MINORITY OUTREACH OPERATION. BUT THAT WHITE SUPREMACIST BUG IN THEIR REPUBLICAN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY SYSTEM DOESN’T ALLOW THEIR GOOGLE MAPS TO SEARCH FOR THE PHRASE, “WHERE BLACK FOLKS AT?” SO IN LIEU OF GOING ORGANIC, THEY GO ARTIFICIAL, CREATING THEIR VERY OWN SECRET FACTORY OF IGNORANT NEGROES, A PLACE WHERE UNCONSCIOUS BLACK FOLKS ARE MANUFACTURED TO SAY THINGS LIKE ‘DONALD TRUMP BE GOOD TO THE BLACKS.’ IN OTHER WORDS, BLACK FOLKS WHO FIT THE GOP’S NOTION OF WHAT BLACK PEOPLE SHOULD BE.
To be clear, I don’t tag all black Republicans with this stench. I may vehemently disagree with them, but Senator Tim Scott, former Representative JC Watts, and former GOP party chair Michael Steele seemingly are black folks who simply believe in Republican ideals of smaller government, low taxes, and the private sector. If they have innovative ideas to help the African American community, hey, I’m all ears. As a liberal Democrat, I don’t think we have a monopoly on good ideas. It’s just that the GOP doesn’t tend to bring those ideas to the black community honestly.
And as long as the GOP keeps pulling delegates from The Factory of Ignorant Negroes, they’re going to keep getting zero percent with black folks. If they’re smart, the head honchos at GOP HQ will recognize that these Black Trump Surrogates only care about whether their check clears on the first and fifteenth, and whether or not they can tie themselves to a mailing list that will make them rich.
But to the rest of us, I say this: Yes, these Black Trump Surrogates get on our nerves. And yes, we spend a lot of our time yelling at the television screen, hoping they’ll hear us call them the latest cast members of America’s Great Political Minstrel Show, featuring Jim Crow, Zip Coon, and special guest star, JJ from Good Times.
What these poor unfortunate fools don’t know is that on November 8th, the Black Folks Drop Squad Nation is gonna mount up and head to the polls in record numbers. We’ll vote not because we love Hillary Clinton, but because we love Black People. And after we vote for that love, we’ll deal these Black Trump Surrogates the deepest cut of all. We’ll forget that they exist. Just like Donald Trump will.
Most people don’t know there’s more than one verse to the national anthem, and it’s the third that’s a doozy.
Jason Johnson / The Root / July 4, 2016
Americans generally get a failing grade when it comes to knowing our “patriotic songs.” I know more people who can recite “America, F–k Yeah” from Team America than “America the Beautiful.” “Yankee Doodle”? No one older than a fifth-grader in chorus class remembers the full song. “God Bless America”? More people know the Rev. Jeremiah Wright remix than the actual full lyrics of the song. Most black folks don’t even know “the black national anthem.” (There’s a great story about Bill Clinton being at an NAACP meeting where he was the only one who knew it past the first line. Bill Clinton: Woke in the ’90s.)
In the case of our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” perhaps not knowing the full lyrics is a good thing. It is one of the most racist, pro-slavery, anti-black songs in the American lexicon, and you would be wise to cut it from your Fourth of July playlist.
“The Star-Spangled Banner,” as most Americans know it, is only a couple of lines. In fact, if you look up the song on Google, only the most famous lyrics pop up on Page 1:
Oh say can you see,
By the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed,
At the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars,
Through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched,
Were so gallantly streaming.
And thy rocket’s red glare,
Thy bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through thee night,
That our flag was still there.
Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.
The story, as most of us are told, is that Francis Scott Key was a prisoner on a British ship during the War of 1812 and wrote this poem while watching the American troops battle back the invading British in Baltimore. That—as is the case with 99 percent of history that is taught in public schools and regurgitated by the mainstream press—is less than half the story.
To understand the full “Star-Spangled Banner” story, you have to understand the author. Key was an aristocrat and city prosecutor in Washington, D.C. He was, like most enlightened men at the time, not against slavery; he just thought that since blacks were mentally inferior, masters should treat them with more Christian kindness. He supported sending free blacks (not slaves) back to Africa and, with a few exceptions, was about as pro-slavery, anti-black and anti-abolitionist as you could get at the time.
Of particular note was Key’s opposition to the idea of the Colonial Marines. The Marines were a battalion of runaway slaves who joined with the British Royal Army in exchange for their freedom. The Marines were not only a terrifying example of what slaves would do if given the chance, but also a repudiation of the white superiority that men like Key were so invested in.
All of these ideas and concepts came together around Aug. 24, 1815, at the Battle of Bladensburg, where Key, who was serving as a lieutenant at the time, ran into a battalion of Colonial Marines. His troops were taken to the woodshed by the very black folks he disdained, and he fled back to his home in Georgetown to lick his wounds. The British troops, emboldened by their victory in Bladensburg, then marched into Washington, D.C., burning the Library of Congress, the Capitol Building and the White House. You can imagine that Key was very much in his feelings seeing black soldiers trampling on the city he so desperately loved.
A few weeks later, in September of 1815, far from being a captive, Key was on a British boat begging for the release of one of his friends, a doctor named William Beanes. Key was on the boat waiting to see if the British would release his friend when he observed the bloody battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore on Sept. 13, 1815. America lost the battle but managed to inflict heavy casualties on the British in the process. This inspired Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner” right then and there, but no one remembers that he wrote a full third stanza decrying the former slaves who were now working for the British army:
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
NO REFUGE COULD SAVE THE HIRELING AND SLAVE
FROM THE TERROR OF FLIGHT OR THE GLOOM OF THE GRAVE,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
In other words, Key was saying that the blood of all the former slaves and “hirelings” on the battlefield will wash away the pollution of the British invaders. With Key still bitter that some black soldiers got the best of him a few weeks earlier, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is as much a patriotic song as it is a diss track to black people who had the audacity to fight for their freedom. Perhaps that’s why it took almost 100 years for the song to become the national anthem.
To hear more of the story, there is an excellent short documentary about the history of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by some students at Morgan State University. In the meantime, it might be a good idea to switch up your Fourth of July patriotic playlist.
NASA: EARTH IS WARMING AT A PACE 'UNPRECEDENTED IN 1,000 YEARS'
Records of temperature that go back far further than 1800s suggest warming of recent decades is out of step with any period over the past millennium
Oliver Milman / The Guardian / 30 August 2016
The planet is warming at a pace not experienced within the past 1,000 years, at least, making it “very unlikely” that the world will stay within a crucial temperature limit agreed by nations just last year, according to Nasa’s top climate scientist.
This year has already seen scorching heat around the world, with the average global temperature peaking at 1.38C above levels experienced in the 19th century, perilously close to the 1.5C limit agreed in the landmark Paris climate accord. JULY WAS THE WARMEST MONTH SINCE MODERN RECORD KEEPING BEGAN IN 1880, WITH EACH MONTH SINCE OCTOBER 2015 SETTING A NEW HIGH MARK FOR HEAT.
But Nasa said that records of temperature that go back far further, taken via analysis of ice cores and sediments, SUGGEST THAT THE WARMING OF RECENT DECADES IS OUT OF STEP WITH ANY PERIOD OVER THE PAST MILLENNIUM.
“IN THE LAST 30 YEARS WE’VE REALLY MOVED INTO EXCEPTIONAL TERRITORY,” GAVIN SCHMIDT, DIRECTOR OF NASA’S GODDARD INSTITUTE FOR SPACE STUDIES, SAID. “IT’S UNPRECEDENTED IN 1,000 YEARS. THERE’S NO PERIOD THAT HAS THE TREND SEEN IN THE 20TH CENTURY IN TERMS OF THE INCLINATION (OF TEMPERATURES).”
“Maintaining temperatures below the 1.5C guardrail requires significant and very rapid cuts in carbon dioxide emissions or co-ordinated geo-engineering. That is very unlikely. We are not even yet making emissions cuts commensurate with keeping warming below 2C.”
Schmidt repeated his previous prediction that there is a 99% chance that 2016 will be the warmest year on record, with around 20% of the heat attributed to a strong El Niño climatic event. Last year is currently the warmest year on record, itself beating a landmark set in 2014.
“It’s the long-term trend we have to worry about though and there’s no evidence it’s going away and lots of reasons to think it’s here to stay,” Schmidt said. “There’s no pause or hiatus in temperature increase. People who think this is over are viewing the world through rose-tinted spectacles. This is a chronic problem for society for the next 100 years.”
Schmidt is the highest-profile scientist to effectively write-off the 1.5C target, which was adopted at December’s UN summit after heavy lobbying from island nations that risk being inundated by rising seas if temperatures exceed this level. Recent research found that just five more years of carbon dioxide emissions at current levels will virtually wipe out any chance of restraining temperatures to a 1.5C increase and avoid runaway climate change.
Temperature reconstructions by Nasa, using work from its sister agency the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, found that THE GLOBAL TEMPERATURE TYPICALLY ROSE BY BETWEEN 4-7C OVER A PERIOD OF 5,000 YEARS AS THE WORLD MOVED OUT OF ICE AGES. THE TEMPERATURE RISE CLOCKED UP OVER THE PAST CENTURY IS AROUND 10 TIMES FASTER THAN THIS PREVIOUS RATE OF WARMING.
THE INCREASING PACE OF WARMING MEANS THAT THE WORLD WILL HEAT UP AT A RATE “AT LEAST” 20 TIMES FASTER THAN THE HISTORICAL AVERAGE OVER THE COMING 100 YEARS, ACCORDING TO NASA. THE COMPARISON OF RECENT TEMPERATURES TO THE PALEOCLIMATE ISN’T EXACT, AS IT MATCHES MODERN RECORD-KEEPING TO PROXIES TAKEN FROM ANCIENT LAYERS OF GLACIER ICE, OCEAN SEDIMENTS AND ROCK.
SCIENTISTS ARE ABLE TO GAUGE GREENHOUSE GAS LEVELS STRETCHING BACK MORE THAN 800,000 YEARS BUT THE CERTAINTY AROUND THE COMPOSITION OF PREVIOUS CLIMATES IS STRONGER WITHIN THE PAST 1,000 YEARS. WHILE IT’S STILL DIFFICULT TO COMPARE A SINGLE YEAR TO ANOTHER PRIOR TO THE 19TH CENTURY, A NASA RECONSTRUCTION SHOWS THAT THE PACE OF TEMPERATURE INCREASE OVER RECENT DECADES OUTSTRIPS ANYTHING THAT HAS OCCURRED SINCE THE YEAR 500.
Lingering carbon dioxide already emitted from power generation, transport and agriculture is already likely to raise sea levels by around three feet by the end of the century, and potentially by 70 feet in the centuries to come. Increasing temperatures will shrink the polar ice caps, make large areas of the Middle East and North Africa unbearable to live in and accelerate what’s known as Earth’s “sixth mass extinction” of animal species.
FORMER MODELS FOR DONALD TRUMP'S AGENCY SAY THEY VIOLATED IMMIGRATION RULES AND WORKED ILLEGALLY
"It's like modern-day slavery."
JAMES WEST / Mother Jones / AUG. 30, 2016
Republican nominee Donald Trump has placed immigration at the core of his presidential campaign. He has claimed that undocumented immigrants are "taking our jobs" and "taking our money," pledged to deport them en masse, and vowed to build a wall on the Mexican border. At one point he demanded a ban on Muslims entering the country. Speaking to supporters in Iowa on Saturday, Trump said he would crack down on visitors to the United States who overstay their visas and declared that when any American citizen "loses their job to an illegal immigrant, the rights of that American citizen have been violated." And he is scheduled to give a major address on immigration in Arizona on Wednesday night.
But THE MOGUL'S NEW YORK MODELING AGENCY, TRUMP MODEL MANAGEMENT, HAS PROFITED FROM USING FOREIGN MODELS WHO CAME TO THE UNITED STATES ON TOURIST VISAS THAT DID NOT PERMIT THEM TO WORK HERE, ACCORDING TO THREE FORMER TRUMP MODELS, ALL NONCITIZENS, WHO SHARED THEIR STORIES WITH MOTHER JONES. FINANCIAL AND IMMIGRATION RECORDS INCLUDED IN A RECENT LAWSUIT FILED BY A FOURTH FORMER TRUMP MODEL SHOW THAT SHE, TOO, WORKED FOR TRUMP'S AGENCY IN THE UNITED STATES WITHOUT A PROPER VISA.
Foreigners who visit the United States as TOURISTS ARE GENERALLY NOT PERMITTED TO ENGAGE IN ANY SORT OF EMPLOYMENT UNLESS THEY OBTAIN A SPECIAL VISA, A PROCESS THAT TYPICALLY ENTAILS AN EMPLOYER APPLYING FOR APPROVAL ON BEHALF OF A PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYEE. EMPLOYERS RISK FINES AND POSSIBLE CRIMINAL CHARGES FOR USING UNDOCUMENTED LABOR.
Founded in 1999, Trump Model Management "has risen to the top of the fashion market," boasts the Trump Organization's website, and has a name "that symbolizes success." According to a financial disclosure filed by his campaign in May, Donald Trump earned nearly $2 million from the company, in which he holds an 85 percent stake. Meanwhile, some former Trump models say they barely made any money working for the agency because of the high fees for rent and other expenses that were charged by the company.
Canadian-born Rachel Blais spent nearly three years working for Trump Model Management. After first signing with the agency in March 2004, she said, she performed a series of modeling gigs for Trump's company in the United States without a work visa. At Mother Jones' request, Blais provided a detailed financial statement from Trump Model Management and a letter from an immigration lawyer who, in the fall of 2004, eventually secured a visa that would permit her to work legally in the United States. These records show a six-month gap between when she began working in the United States and when she was granted a work visa. During that time, Blais appeared on Trump's hit reality TV show, The Apprentice, modeling outfits designed by his business protégés. As Blais walked the runway, Donald Trump looked on from the front row.
Two other former Trump models—who requested anonymity to speak freely about their experiences, and who we are giving the pseudonyms Anna and Kate—said the agency never obtained work visas on their behalf, even as they performed modeling assignments in the United States. (They provided photographs from some of these jobs, and Mother Jones confirmed with the photographers or stylists that these shoots occurred in the United States.)
Each of the three former Trump models said she arrived in New York with dreams of making it big in one of the world's most competitive fashion markets. But without work visas, they lived in constant fear of getting caught. "I was pretty on edge most of the time I was there," Anna said of the three months in 2009 she spent in New York working for Trump's agency.
"I was there illegally," she said. "A sitting duck."
I Spent 5 Years With Some of Trump's Biggest Fans. Here's What They Won't Tell You.
According to three immigration lawyers consulted by Mother Jones, even unpaid employment is against the law for foreign nationals who do not have a work visa. "If the US company is benefiting from that person, that's work," explained Anastasia Tonello, global head of the US immigration team at Laura Devine Attorneys in New York. These rules for immigrants are in place to "protect them from being exploited," she said. "That US company shouldn't be making money off you."
TWO OF THE FORMER TRUMP MODELS SAID TRUMP'S AGENCY ENCOURAGED THEM TO DECEIVE CUSTOMS OFFICIALS ABOUT WHY THEY WERE VISITING THE UNITED STATES AND TOLD THEM TO LIE ON CUSTOMS FORMS ABOUT WHERE THEY INTENDED TO LIVE. ANNA SAID SHE RECEIVED A SPECIFIC INSTRUCTION FROM A TRUMP AGENCY REPRESENTATIVE: "IF THEY ASK YOU ANY QUESTIONS, YOU'RE JUST HERE FOR MEETINGS."
TRUMP'S CAMPAIGN SPOKESWOMAN, HOPE HICKS, DECLINED TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT TRUMP MODEL MANAGEMENT'S USE OF FOREIGN LABOR. "THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ME OR THE CAMPAIGN," SHE SAID, ADDING THAT SHE HAD REFERRED MOTHER JONES' QUERIES TO TRUMP'S MODELING AGENCY. MOTHER JONES ALSO SENT DETAILED QUESTIONS TO TRUMP MODEL MANAGEMENT. THE COMPANY DID NOT RESPOND TO MULTIPLE EMAILS AND PHONE CALLS REQUESTING COMMENT.
Fashion industry sources say that skirting immigration law in the manner that the three former Trump models described was once commonplace in the modeling world. In fact, Politico recently raised questions about the immigration status of Donald Trump's current wife, Melania, during her days as a young model in New York in the 1990s. (In response to the Politico story, Melania Trump said she has "at all times been in compliance with the immigration laws of this country.")
KATE, WHO WORKED FOR TRUMP MODEL MANAGEMENT IN 2004, MARVELED AT HOW HER FORMER BOSS HAS RECENTLY BRANDED HIMSELF AS AN ANTI-ILLEGAL-IMMIGRATION CRUSADER ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL. "HE DOESN'T WANT TO LET ANYONE INTO THE US ANYMORE," SHE SAID. "MEANWHILE, BEHIND EVERYONE'S BACK, HE'S BRINGING IN ALL OF THESE GIRLS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD AND THEY'RE WORKING ILLEGALLY."
Now 31 years old and out of the modeling business, Blais once appeared in various publications, including Vogue, Elle, and Harpers Bazaar, and she posed wearing the designs of such fashion luminaries as Gianfranco Ferré, Dolce & Gabbana, and Jean Paul Gaultier. Her modeling career began when she was 16 and spanned numerous top-name agencies across four continents. After leaving the business, she became a vocal advocate for models and appeared in a 2011 documentary, Girl Model, that explored the darker side of the industry. In a recent interview, SHE SAID HER EXPERIENCE WITH TRUMP'S FIRM STOOD OUT: "HONESTLY, THEY ARE THE MOST CROOKED AGENCY I'VE EVER WORKED FOR, AND I'VE WORKED FOR QUITE A FEW."
FRESHLY SIGNED TO TRUMP MODEL MANAGEMENT, THE MONTREAL NATIVE TRAVELED TO NEW YORK CITY BY BUS IN APRIL 2004. JUST LIKE "THE MAJORITY OF MODELS WHO ARE YOUNG, [HAVE] NEVER BEEN TO NYC, AND DON'T HAVE PAPERS, I WAS JUST PUT IN TRUMP'S MODELS' APARTMENT," SHE SAID. KATE AND ANNA ALSO SAID THEY HAD LIVED IN THIS APARTMENT.
"THE APARTMENT WAS LIKE A SWEATSHOP," SAID A FORMER TRUMP MODEL.
MODELS' APARTMENTS, AS THEY'RE KNOWN IN THE INDUSTRY, ARE DORMITORY-STYLE QUARTERS WHERE AGENCIES PACK THEIR TALENT INTO BUNKS, IN SOME CASES CHARGING THE MODELS SKY-HIGH RENT AND POCKETING A PROFIT. ACCORDING TO THE THREE FORMER MODELS, TRUMP MODEL MANAGEMENT HOUSED ITS MODELS IN A TWO-FLOOR, THREE-BEDROOM APARTMENT IN THE EAST VILLAGE, NEAR TOMPKINS SQUARE PARK. MOTHER JONES IS WITHHOLDING THE ADDRESS OF THE BUILDING, WHICH IS KNOWN IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD FOR ITS MODEL TENANTS, TO PROTECT THE PRIVACY OF THE CURRENT RESIDENTS.
When Blais lived in the apartment, she recalled, a Trump agency representative who served as a chaperone had a bedroom to herself on the ground floor of the building. A narrow flight of stairs led down to the basement, where the models lived in two small bedrooms that were crammed with bunk beds—two in one room, three in the other. An additional mattress was located in a common area near the stairs. At times, the apartment could be occupied by 11 or more people.
"We're hoarded into these small spaces," Kate said. "The apartment was like a sweatshop."
Trump Model Management recruited models as young as 14. "I was by far the oldest in the house at the ripe old age of 18," Anna said. "The bathroom always smelled like burned hair. I will never forget the place!" She added, "I taught myself how to write, 'Please clean up after yourself' in Russian."
A detailed financial statement provided by Blais shows that Trump's agency charged her as much as $1,600 a month for a bunk in a room she shared with five others.
Living in the apartment during a sweltering New York summer, Kate picked a top bunk near a street-level window in the hopes of getting a little fresh air. She awoke one morning to something splashing her face. "Oh, maybe it's raining today," she recalled thinking. But when she peered out the window, "I saw the one-eyed monster pissing on me," she said. "There was a bum pissing on my window, splashing me in my Trump Model bed."
"Such a glamorous industry," she said.
Blais, who previously discussed some of her experiences in an interview with Public Radio International, said the models weren't in a position to complain about their living arrangements. "You're young," she remarked, "and you know that if you ask too many questions, you're not going to get the work."
A detailed financial statement provided by Blais shows that Trump's agency charged her as much as $1,600 a month for a bunk in a room she shared with five others. Kate said she paid about $1,200 a month—"highway robbery," she called it. For comparison, in the summer of 2004, an entire studio apartment nearby was advertised at $1,375 a month.
From April to October 2004, Blais traveled between the United States and Europe, picking up a string of high-profile fashion assignments for Trump Model Management and making a name for herself in the modeling world. During the months she spent living and working in New York, Blais said, she only had a tourist visa. "Most of the girls in the apartment that were not American didn't have a work visa," she recalled.
Here's How Trump (Allegedly) Stiffed an 82-Year-Old Immigrant Over an Unpaid Bill
Anna and Kate also said they each worked for Trump's agency while holding tourist visas. "I started out doing test-shoots but ended up doing a couple of lookbooks," Anna said. (A lookbook is a modeling portfolio.) "Nothing huge, but definitely shoots that classified as 'work.'"
Employers caught hiring noncitizens without proper visas can be fined up to $16,000 per employee and, in some cases, face up to six months in prison.
The three former Trump models said Trump's agency was aware of the complications posed by their foreign status. Anna and Kate said the the company coached them on how to circumvent immigration laws. Kate recalled being told, "When you're stuck at immigration, say that you're coming as a tourist. If they go through your luggage and they find your portfolio, tell them that you're going there to look for an agent."
Anna recalled that prior to her arrival, Trump agency staffers were "dodging around" her questions about her immigration status and how she could work legally in the United States. "Until finally," she said, "it came to two days before I left, and they told me my only option was to get a tourist visa and we could work the rest out when I got there. We never sorted the rest out."
Arriving in the United States, Anna grew terrified. "Going through customs for this trip was one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of my life," she added. "It's hard enough when you're there perfectly innocently, but when you know you've lied on what is essentially a federal document, it's a whole new world."
"Am I sweaty? Am I red? Am I giving this away?" Anna remembered thinking as she finally faced a customs officer. After making it through immigration, she burst into tears.
Industry experts say that violating immigration rules has been the status quo in the fashion world for years. "It's been common, almost standard, for modeling agencies to encourage girls to come into the country illegally," said Sara Ziff, the founder of the Model Alliance, an advocacy group that claimed a major success in 2014 after lobbying the New York State legislature to pass a bill increasing protections for child models.
Bringing models into the United States on tourist visas was "very common," said Susan Scafidi, the director of Fordham University's Fashion Law Institute. "I've had tons of agencies tell me this, that this used to happen all the time, and that the cover story might be something like 'I'm coming in for a friend's birthday,' or 'I'm coming in to visit my aunt,' that sort of thing."
For their part, modeling agencies have complained about the time and resources required to bring a foreign model into the country and have insisted that US immigration laws are out of step with their fast-paced industry. "If there are girls that we can't get into the United States, the client is going to take that business elsewhere," Corinne Nicolas, the president of Trump Model Management, told the New York Daily News in 2008. "The market is calling for foreign girls."
In 2007, a few years before his career imploded in a sexting scandal, former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) sponsored a bill that would give models the same kind of work visas that international entertainers and athletes receive. The tabloids had a field day—"Give me your torrid, your pure, your totally smokin' foreign babes," screamed a Daily News headline—and the effort ultimately failed.
Trump Model Management sponsored only its most successful models for work visas, the three former models said. Those who didn't cut it were sent home, as was the case, Blais noted, with many of her roommates.
"It was very much the case of you earn your visa," Anna said. "Essentially, if you got enough work and they liked you enough, they'd pay for a visa, but you weren't about to see a dime before you could prove your worth."
The company eventually secured an H-1B visa for Blais. Such visas allow US companies to employ workers in specialized fields. According to financial records provided by Blais, the company deducted the costs of obtaining a work visa from her earnings. (The agency did not obtain work visas for Anna and Kate, who each left the United States after their stints with Trump Model Management.)
H-1B visas have been increasingly popular in the high-tech field, and Trump's companies, including Trump Model Management, have used this program extensively in the past. But on the campaign trail, Trump has railed against the H-1B program and those who he says abuse it. "I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration program," Trump said in March. "No exceptions."
Nearly three years after signing with Trump's agency, Blais had little to show for it—and it wasn't for lack of modeling jobs. Under the contracts that she and other Trump models had signed, the company advanced money for rent and various other expenses (such as trainers, beauty treatments, travel, and administrative costs), deducting these charges from its clients' modeling fees. But these charges—including the pricey rent that Blais and her roommates paid—consumed nearly all her modeling earnings. "I only got one check from Trump Models, and that's when I left them," she said. "I got $8,000 at most after having worked there for three years and having made tens of thousands of dollars." (The check Blais received was for $8,427.35.)
"This is a system where they actually end up making money on the back of these foreign workers," Blais added. She noted that models can end up in debt to their agencies, once rent and numerous other fees are extracted.
This is known in the industry as "agency debt." Kate said her bookings never covered the cost of living in New York. After two months, she returned home. "I left indebted to them," she said, "and I never went back, and I never paid them back."
The experiences the former Trump models related to Mother Jones echo allegations in an ongoing class-action lawsuit against six major modeling agencies by nine former models who have claimed their agencies charged them exorbitant fees for rent and other expenses. One plaintiff, Marcelle Almonte, has alleged that her agency charged her $1,850 per month to live in a two-bedroom Miami Beach apartment with eight other models. The market rate for apartments in the same building ran no more than $3,300 per month, according to the complaint. (Trump Model Management, which was initially named in an earlier version of this lawsuit, was dropped from the case in 2013, after the judge narrowed the number of defendants.) Models "were largely trapped by these circumstances if they wanted to continue to pursue a career in modeling," the complaint alleges.
Read Alexia Palmer's complaint against Trump Model Management. Wavebreakmedia/iStock
"It is like modern-day slavery" Blais said of working for Trump Model Management—and she is not alone in describing her time with Trump's company in those terms. Former Trump model Alexia Palmer, who filed a lawsuit against Trump Model Management for fraud and wage theft in 2014, has said she "felt like a slave."
Palmer has alleged that she was forced to pay hefty—sometimes mysterious—fees to Trump's agency. These were fees on top of the 20 percent commission she paid for each job the company booked. Palmer charged that during three years of modeling for Trump's company, she earned only $3,880.75. A New York judge dismissed Palmer's claim in March because, among other reasons, she had not taken her case first to the Department of Labor. Lawyers for Trump Model Management called Palmer's lawsuit "frivolous" and "without merit."
Palmer filed a complaint with the Department of Labor this spring, and in August the agency dismissed the case. Palmer's lawyer, Naresh Gehi, said he is appealing the decision. Since he began representing Palmer, he said, other fashion models have approached him with similar stories. "These are people that are coming out of the closet and explaining to the world how they are being exploited," he said. "They are the most vulnerable."
Documents filed in Palmer's case indicate that she worked in the United States without a work visa after being recruited by Trump's agency from her native Jamaica. Gehi declined to discuss his client's immigration status.
Former Trump model Alexia Palmer posed for this Teen Vogue shoot in January 2011. She secured a work visa in October 2011. Teen Vogue
A Caribbean model contest launched Palmer's career in 2010, and at age 17 she signed an exclusive contract with Trump Model Management in January 2011. Department of Labor records show she received approval to work in the United States beginning in October 2011. Yet according to a financial statement filed as evidence in her case, Palmer started working in the United States nine months before this authorization was granted. Her financial records list a January 22, 2011, job for Condé Nast, when she posed for a Teen Vogue spread featuring the cast of Glee. (The shoot took place at Milk Studios in Los Angeles.)
"That whole period, from January to September, was not authorized," said Pankaj Malik, a partner at New York-based Ballon, Stoll, Bader & Nadler who has worked on immigration issues for over two decades and who reviewed Palmer's case for Mother Jones. "You can't do any of that. It's so not allowed."
Trump has taken an active role at Trump Model Management from its founding. He has personally signed models who have participated in his Miss Universe and Miss USA competitions, where his agency staff appeared as judges. Melania Trump was a Trump model for a brief period after meeting her future husband in the late 1990s.
"I left with a bad taste in my mouth. I didn't like the agency. I didn't like where they had us living. Honestly, I felt ripped off."
The agency is a particular point of pride for Trump, who has built his brand around glitz and glamour. "True Trumpologists know the model agency is only a tiny part of Trumpland financially," the New York Sun wrote in 2004. "But his agency best evokes a big Trump theme—sex sells." Trump has often cross-pollinated his other business ventures with fashion models and has used them as veritable set pieces when he rolls out new products. Trump models, including Blais, appeared on The Apprentice—and they flanked him at the 2004 launch of his Parker Brothers board game, TRUMP.
Part of Blais' job, she said, was to serve as eye candy at Trump-branded events. Recalling the first time she met the mogul, she said, "I had to go to the Trump Vodka opening." It was a glitzy 2006 gala at Trump Tower where Busta Rhymes performed, and Trump unveiled his (soon-to-be-defunct) line of vodka. "It was part of my duty to go and be seen and to be photographed and meet Donald Trump and shake his hand," she remembered.
Trump made a strong impression on her that night. "I knew that I was a model and there was objectification in the job, but this was another level," she said. Blais left Trump Model Management the year after the Trump Vodka gala, feeling that she had been exploited and shortchanged by the agency.
Kate, who went on to have a successful career with another agency, also parted ways with Trump's company in disgust. "My overall experience was not a very good one," she said. "I left with a bad taste in my mouth. I didn't like the agency. I didn't like where they had us living. Honestly, I felt ripped off."
THESE DAYS, KATE SAID, SHE BELIEVES THAT TRUMP HAS BEEN FOOLING AMERICAN VOTERS WITH HIS ANTI-IMMIGRANT RHETORIC, GIVEN THAT HIS OWN AGENCY HAD ENGAGED IN THE PRACTICES HE HAS DENOUNCED. "HE DOESN'T LIKE THE FACE OF A MEXICAN OR A MUSLIM," SHE SAID, "BUT BECAUSE THESE [MODELS] ARE BEAUTIFUL GIRLS, IT'S OKAY? HE'S SUCH A HYPOCRITE."
Re: "... The actions of these self-serving politicians are going to come back and haunt them. ..."
dickw, everybody now knows that Donald Trump is the most self-serving character we've had on the Presidential stage for many decades, if not ever.
OMG, fraudney, even you know what a totally stupid point this is to try to get away with. All it does is highlight how horrendously bad the current Republicans truly are.
dickw, with this total nonsense about Hillary being worse than the incompetent, psychopathic, hopelessly narcissistic, rabid racist Donald Trump you continue to prove you are blind as a bat and deaf as a haddock.
I do belive, dickw, you are forgetting why your beloved President Richard Nixon was happy to get rid of the draft. I, myself, would like to see it re-instated.
dickw, the difference is primarily that there are infinitely more paranoid conservatives (and congrats, you do help that if only a little bit).
I agree it would be completely ludicrous to say the Bush-Cheney Administration colluded in the 9/11 attack. It would also be ludicrous to say Bill+Hillary have not made some money from having been in the White House and from overseeing CGI. It would also be ludicrous to not admit that the Bush+Cheney network of family and friends made so much money from the MidEast invasions (especially the Defense Industries) they make Bill+Hillary look like amateurs and the same for the criminal activities gotten away with (excepting Scooter Libby who did go to jail briefly) by the Bush-Cheney Administration.
Also keep in mind during the Bush-Cheney Administration over 20,000,000 emails went missing. Still we should remember their great achievements:
THE BUSH-CHENEY ACHIEVEMENTS
LYING OUR COUNTRY INTO TWO INVASIONS AND LENGTHY WARS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD
May 1, 2003 [Total US casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq at this time
were 223 killed and 910 wounded]
AFTER MISSION ACCOMPLISHED [i.e. THE QUAGMIRE, that wasn’t supposed to be there]
US SOLDIERS KILLED IN BOTH WARS
more than 7200
US SOLDIERS WOUNDED IN BOTH WARS
more than 50,000
[with record numbers of returning para and quadriplegics]
more than 1,000,000
EMBASSY AND OTHER DIPLOMATIC FACILITY ATTACKS
OSAMA BIN LADEN
SPENT ON TWO WARS
more than $5 Trillion which helped create a worldwide financial meltdown that was almost fatal and continues to drag upon the US and other world economies.
COMMITTED THE WORST CRIME OF THIS CENTURY, THE INVASION OF IRAQ WHICH LED TO THE DESTRUCTION OF IRAQ AND THE SPREAD OF THE SECTARIAN CONFLICT THAT SET THE FOUNDATION FOR ISIS [A GROUP LARGELY MADE UP OF SADDAM’S FROMER SUNNI SOLDIERS+GENERALS], GREATLY INCREASED POWER IN THE MIDDLE EAST FOR IRAN AND DANGEROUS DESTABILIZATION OF THE WHOLE REGION.
September 28, 2015 / BillMoyers()com
United States Senator Elizabeth Warren delivered remarks on Sunday at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, as part of the Institute’s “Getting to the Point” speaker series.
Thank you. I’m grateful to be here at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. This place is a fitting tribute to our champion, Ted Kennedy. A man of courage, compassion and commitment, who taught us what public service is all about. Not a day goes by that we don’t miss his passion, his enthusiasm, and – most of all – his dedication to all of our working families.
“We should use our powers not to create conditions of oppression that lead to violence, but conditions of freedom that lead to peace.” — Senator Edward KennedyAs the Senior Senator from Massachusetts, I have the great honor of sitting at Senator Kennedy’s desk – right over there. The original, back in Washington, is a little more dented and scratched, but it has something very special in the drawer. Ted Kennedy carved his name in it. When I sit at my desk, sometimes when I’m waiting to speak or to vote, I open the drawer and run my thumb across his name. It reminds me of the high expectations of the people of Massachusetts, and I try, every day, to live up to the legacy he left behind.
Senator Kennedy took office just over fifty years ago, in the midst of one of the great moral and political debates in American history – the debate over the Civil Rights Act. In his first speech on the floor of the Senate, just four months after his brother’s assassination, he stood up to support equal rights for all Americans. He ended that speech with a powerful personal message about what the civil rights struggle meant to the late President Kennedy:
His heart and soul are in this bill. If his life and death had a meaning, it was that we should not hate but love one another; we should use our powers not to create conditions of oppression that lead to violence, but conditions of freedom that lead to peace.
“We should use our powers not to create conditions of oppression that lead to violence, but conditions of freedom that lead to peace.” That’s what I’d like to talk about today.
A HALF-CENTURY AGO, WHEN SENATOR KENNEDY SPOKE OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT, ENTRENCHED, RACIST POWER DID EVERYTHING IT COULD TO SUSTAIN OPPRESSION OF AFRICAN-AMERICANS, AND VIOLENCE WAS ITS FIRST TOOL. LYNCHINGS, TERRORISM, INTIMIDATION. THE 16TH STREET BAPTIST CHURCH. MEDGAR EVERS. EMMETT TILL. WHEN ALABAMA GOVERNOR GEORGE WALLACE STOOD BEFORE THE NATION AND DECLARED DURING HIS 1963 INAUGURAL ADDRESS THAT HE WOULD DEFEND “SEGREGATION NOW, SEGREGATION TOMORROW, SEGREGATION FOREVER,” HE MADE CLEAR THAT THE STATE WOULD STAND WITH THOSE WHO USED VIOLENCE.
BUT VIOLENCE WAS NOT THE ONLY TOOL. AFRICAN AMERICANS WERE EFFECTIVELY STRIPPED OF CITIZENSHIP WHEN THEY WERE DENIED THE RIGHT TO VOTE. THE TOOLS VARIED — LITERACY TESTS, POLL TAXES, MORAL CHARACTER TESTS, GRANDFATHER CLAUSES — BUT THE RESULTS WERE THE SAME. THEY WERE DENIED BASIC RIGHTS OF CITIZENSHIP AND THE CHANCE TO PARTICIPATE IN SELF-GOVERNMENT.
THE THIRD TOOL OF OPPRESSION WAS TO DELIBERATELY DENY MILLIONS OF AFRICAN AMERICANS ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES SOLELY BECAUSE OF THE COLOR OF THEIR SKIN.
I have often spoken about how America built a great middle class. Coming out of the Great Depression, from the 1930s to the late 1970s, as GDP went up, wages went up for most Americans. BUT THERE’S A DARK UNDERBELLY TO THAT STORY. WHILE MEDIAN FAMILY INCOME IN AMERICA WAS GROWING — FOR BOTH WHITE AND AFRICAN-AMERICAN FAMILIES — AFRICAN-AMERICAN INCOMES WERE ONLY A FRACTION OF WHITE INCOMES. IN THE MID-1950S, THE MEDIAN INCOME FOR AFRICAN-AMERICAN FAMILIES WAS JUST A LITTLE MORE THAN HALF THE INCOME OF WHITE FAMILIES.
And THE PROBLEM WENT BEYOND JUST INCOME. LOOK AT HOUSING: FOR MOST MIDDLE CLASS FAMILIES IN AMERICA, BUYING A HOME IS THE NUMBER ONE WAY TO BUILD WEALTH. IT’S A RETIREMENT PLAN — PAY OFF THE HOUSE AND LIVE ON SOCIAL SECURITY. AN INVESTMENT OPTION — MORTGAGE THE HOUSE TO START A BUSINESS. IT’S A WAY TO HELP THE KIDS GET THROUGH COLLEGE, A SAFETY NET IF SOMEONE GETS REALLY SICK, AND, IF ALL GOES WELL AND GRANDMA AND GRANDPA CAN HANG ON TO THE HOUSE UNTIL THEY DIE, IT’S A WAY TO GIVE THE NEXT GENERATION A BOOST — EXTRA MONEY TO MOVE THE FAMILY UP THE LADDER.
Fifty years later, we have made real progress toward creating the conditions of freedom — but we have not made ENOUGH progress. FOR MUCH OF THE 20TH CENTURY, THAT’S HOW IT WORKED FOR GENERATION AFTER GENERATION OF WHITE AMERICANS — BUT NOT BLACK AMERICANS. ENTIRE LEGAL STRUCTURES WERE CREATED TO PREVENT AFRICAN AMERICANS FROM BUILDING ECONOMIC SECURITY THROUGH HOME OWNERSHIP. LEGALLY-ENFORCED SEGREGATION. RESTRICTIVE DEEDS. REDLINING. LAND CONTRACTS. COMING OUT OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION, AMERICA BUILT A MIDDLE CLASS, BUT SYSTEMATIC DISCRIMINATION KEPT MOST AFRICAN-AMERICAN FAMILIES FROM BEING PART OF IT.
STATE-SANCTIONED DISCRIMINATION WASN’T LIMITED TO HOMEOWNERSHIP. THE GOVERNMENT ENFORCED DISCRIMINATION IN PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS, DISCRIMINATION IN SCHOOLS, DISCRIMINATION IN CREDIT — IT WAS A LONG AND SPITEFUL LIST.
Economic justice is not — and has never been — sufficient to ensure racial justice. Owning a home won’t stop someone from burning a cross on the front lawn. Admission to a school won’t prevent a beating on the sidewalk outside. But WHEN DR. KING LED HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE TO MARCH ON WASHINGTON, HE TALKED ABOUT AN END TO VIOLENCE, ACCESS TO VOTING AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY. AS DR. KING ONCE WROTE, “THE INSEPARABLE TWIN OF RACIAL INJUSTICE WAS ECONOMIC INJUSTICE.”
The TOOLS OF OPPRESSION WERE WOVEN TOGETHER, AND THE CIVIL RIGHTS STRUGGLE WAS FOUGHT AGAINST THAT OPPRESSION WHEREVER IT WAS FOUND — AGAINST VIOLENCE, AGAINST THE DENIAL OF VOTING RIGHTS AND AGAINST ECONOMIC INJUSTICE.
The battles were bitter and sometimes deadly. Firehoses turned on peaceful protestors. Police officers setting their dogs to attack black students. Bloody Sunday at the Edmund Pettus Bridge.
But the civil rights movement pushed this country in a new direction.
• The federal government cracked down on state-sponsored violence. Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson all called out the National Guard, and, in doing so, declared that everyone had a right to equal protection under the law, guaranteed by the Constitution. Congress protected the rights of all citizens to vote with the Voting Rights Act.
• And economic opportunities opened up when Congress passed civil rights laws that protected equal access to employment, public accommodations, and housing.
Or to say it another way, these laws made three powerful declarations: Black lives matter. Black citizens matter. Black families matter. In the same way that the tools of oppression were woven together, a package of civil rights laws came together to protect black people from violence, to ensure access to the ballot box, and to build economic opportunity. Or to say it another way, these laws made three powerful declarations: Black lives matter. Black citizens matter. Black families matter.
Fifty years later, we have made real progress toward creating the conditions of freedom — but we have not made ENOUGH progress.
Fifty years later, violence against African Americans has not disappeared. Consider law enforcement. The vast majority of police officers sign up so they can protect their communities. They are part of an honorable profession that takes risks every day to keep us safe. We know that. But we also know — and say — the names of those whose lives have been treated with callous indifference. Sandra Bland. Freddie Gray. Michael Brown. We’ve seen sickening videos of unarmed, black Americans cut down by bullets, choked to death while gasping for air — their lives ended by those who are sworn to protect them. Peaceful, unarmed protestors have been beaten. Journalists have been jailed. And, in some cities, white vigilantes with weapons freely walk the streets. And it’s not just about law enforcement either. Just look to the terrorism this summer at Emanuel AME Church. We must be honest: Fifty years after John Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke out, violence against African Americans has not disappeared.
And what about voting rights? TWO YEARS AGO, FIVE CONSERVATIVE JUSTICES ON THE SUPREME COURT GUTTED THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT, OPENING THE FLOODGATES EVER WIDER FOR MEASURES DESIGNED TO SUPPRESS MINORITY VOTING. TODAY, THE SPECIFIC TOOLS OF OPPRESSION HAVE CHANGED — VOTER ID LAWS, RACIAL GERRYMANDERING, AND MASS DISFRANCHISEMENT THROUGH A CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM THAT DISPROPORTIONATELY INCARCERATES BLACK CITIZENS. The tools have changed, but black voters are still deliberately cut out of the political process.
Violence. Voting. And what about economic injustice? Research shows that the legal changes in the civil rights era created new employment and housing opportunities. In the 1960s and the 1970s, African-American men and women began to close the wage gap with white workers, giving millions of black families hope that they might build real wealth.
FROM 1980 TO 2012, GDP CONTINUED TO RISE, BUT HOW MUCH OF THE INCOME GROWTH WENT TO THE 90 PERCENT OF AMERICA — EVERYONE OUTSIDE THE TOP 10 PERCENT — BLACK, WHITE, LATINO? NONE. ZERO. NOTHING. But then, REPUBLICANS’ TRICKLE-DOWN ECONOMIC THEORY ARRIVED. JUST AS THIS COUNTRY WAS TAKING THE FIRST STEPS TOWARD ECONOMIC JUSTICE, THE REPUBLICANS PUSHED A THEORY THAT MEANT HELPING THE RICHEST PEOPLE AND THE MOST POWERFUL CORPORATIONS GET RICHER AND MORE POWERFUL. I’LL JUST DO ONE STATISTIC ON THIS: FROM 1980 TO 2012, GDP CONTINUED TO RISE, BUT HOW MUCH OF THE INCOME GROWTH WENT TO THE 90 PERCENT OF AMERICA — EVERYONE OUTSIDE THE TOP 10 PERCENT — BLACK, WHITE, LATINO? NONE. ZERO. NOTHING. 100 PERCENT OF ALL THE NEW INCOME PRODUCED IN THIS COUNTRY OVER THE PAST 30 YEARS HAS GONE TO THE TOP 10 PERCENT.
TODAY, 90 PERCENT OF AMERICANS SEE NO REAL WAGE GROWTH. FOR AFRICAN-AMERICANS, WHO WERE SO FAR BEHIND EARLIER IN THE 20TH CENTURY, THIS MEANS THAT SINCE THE 1980S THEY HAVE BEEN HIT PARTICULARLY HARD. In January of this year, African-American unemployment was 10.3 percent – more than twice the rate of white unemployment. And, AFTER BEGINNING TO MAKE PROGRESS DURING THE CIVIL RIGHTS ERA TO CLOSE THE WEALTH GAP BETWEEN BLACK AND WHITE FAMILIES, IN THE 1980S THE WEALTH GAP EXPLODED, SO THAT FROM 1984 TO 2009, THE WEALTH GAP BETWEEN BLACK AND WHITE FAMILIES TRIPLED.
The 2008 housing collapse destroyed trillions in family wealth across the country, but THE CRASH HIT AFRICAN-AMERICANS LIKE A PUNCH IN THE GUT. BECAUSE MIDDLE CLASS BLACK FAMILIES’ WEALTH WAS DISPROPORTIONATELY TIED UP IN HOMEOWNERSHIP AND NOT OTHER FORMS OF SAVINGS, THESE FAMILIES WERE HIT HARDER BY THE HOUSING COLLAPSE. BUT THEY ALSO GOT HIT HARDER BECAUSE OF DISCRIMINATORY LENDING PRACTICES — YES, DISCRIMINATORY LENDING PRACTICES IN THE 21ST CENTURY. Recently SEVERAL BIG BANKS AND OTHER MORTGAGE LENDERS PAID HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS IN FINES, ADMITTING THAT THEY ILLEGALLY STEERED BLACK AND LATINO BORROWERS INTO MORE EXPENSIVE MORTGAGES THAN WHITE BORROWERS WHO HAD SIMILAR CREDIT. Tom Perez, who at the time was the assistant attorney general for civil rights, called it A “RACIAL SURTAX.” And IT’S STILL HAPPENING — EARLIER THIS MONTH, THE NATIONAL FAIR HOUSING ALLIANCE FILED A DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT AGAINST REAL ESTATE AGENTS IN MISSISSIPPI AFTER AN INVESTIGATION SHOWED THOSE AGENTS CONSISTENTLY STEERING WHITE BUYERS AWAY FROM INTERRACIAL NEIGHBORHOODS AND BLACK BUYERS AWAY FROM AFFLUENT ONES. ANOTHER INVESTIGATION SHOWED SIMILAR RESULTS ACROSS OUR NATION’S CITIES. HOUSING DISCRIMINATION ALIVE AND WELL IN 2015.
VIOLENCE, VOTING, ECONOMIC JUSTICE.
WE HAVE MADE IMPORTANT STRIDES FORWARD. BUT WE ARE NOT DONE YET. AND NOW, IT IS OUR TIME.
I speak today with the full knowledge that I have not personally experienced and can never truly understand the fear, the oppression and the pain that confronts African Americans every day. But none of us can ignore what is happening in this country. Not when our black friends, family, neighbors literally fear dying in the streets.
Listen to the brave, powerful voices of today’s new generation of civil rights leaders. Incredible voices. Listen to them say: “If I die in police custody, know that I did not commit suicide.” Watch them march through the streets, “hands up don’t shoot” — not to incite a riot, but to fight for their lives. To fight for their lives.
This is the reality all of us must confront, as uncomfortable and ugly as that reality may be. It comes to us to once again affirm that black lives matter, that black citizens matter, that black families matter.
Once again, the task begins with safeguarding our communities from violence. We have made progress, but it is a tragedy when any American cannot trust those who have sworn to protect and serve. This pervasive and persistent distrust isn’t based on myths. It is grounded in the reality of unjustified violence.
POLICING MUST BECOME A TRULY COMMUNITY ENDEAVOR — NOT IN JUST A FEW CITIES, BUT EVERYWHERE. POLICE FORCES SHOULD LOOK LIKE, AND COME FROM, THE NEIGHBORHOODS THEY SERVE. THEY SHOULD REACH OUT TO SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE COMMUNITY — WORKING WITH PEOPLE IN NEIGHBORHOODS BEFORE PROBLEMS ARISE. ALL POLICE FORCES — NOT JUST SOME — MUST BE TRAINED TO DE-ESCALATE AND TO AVOID THE LIKELIHOOD OF VIOLENCE. BODY CAMERAS CAN HELP US KNOW WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SOMEONE IS HURT.
We honor the bravery and sacrifice that our law enforcement officers show every day on the job — and the noble intentions of the vast majority of those who take up the difficult job of keeping us safe. But police are not occupying armies. This is America, not a war zone — and policing practices in all cities — not just some — need to reflect that.
It’s time to call out the recent flurry of new state law restrictions for what they are: an all-out campaign by Republicans to take away the right to vote from poor and black and Latino American citizens who probably won’t vote for them. The push to restrict voting is nothing more than a naked grab to win elections that they can’t win if every citizen votes.
Two years ago the Supreme Court eviscerated critical parts of the Voting Rights Act. Congress could easily fix this, and Democrats in the Senate have called for restoration of voting rights. NOW IT IS TIME FOR REPUBLICANS TO STEP UP TO SUPPORT A RESTORATION OF THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT — OR TO STAND BEFORE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND EXPLAIN WHY THEY HAVE ABANDONED AMERICA’S MOST CHERISHED LIBERTY, THE RIGHT TO VOTE.
And while we’re at it, WE NEED TO UPDATE THE RULES AROUND VOTING. VOTING SHOULD BE SIMPLE. VOTER REGISTRATION SHOULD BE AUTOMATIC. GET A DRIVER’S LICENSE, GET REGISTERED AUTOMATICALLY. NONVIOLENT, LAW-ABIDING CITIZENS SHOULD NOT LOSE THE RIGHT TO VOTE BECAUSE OF A PRIOR CONVICTION. ELECTION DAY SHOULD BE A HOLIDAY, SO NO ONE HAS TO CHOOSE BETWEEN A PAYCHECK AND A VOTE. EARLY VOTING AND VOTE BY MAIL WOULD GIVE FAST FOOD AND RETAIL WORKERS WHO DON’T GET HOLIDAYS DAY OFF A CHANCE TO PROUDLY CAST THEIR VOTES. THE HIDDEN DISCRIMINATION THAT COMES WITH PURGING VOTER ROLLS AND SHORT-STAFFING POLLING PLACES MUST STOP. The right to vote remains essential to protect all other rights, and no candidate for president or for any other elected office — Republican or Democrat — should be elected if they will not pledge to support full, meaningful voting rights.
Finally, economic justice. Our task will not be complete until we ENSURE THAT EVERY FAMILY — REGARDLESS OF RACE — HAS A FIGHTING CHANCE TO BUILD AN ECONOMIC FUTURE FOR THEMSELVES AND THEIR FAMILIES. WE NEED LESS TALK AND MORE ACTION ABOUT REDUCING UNEMPLOYMENT, ENDING WAGE STAGNATION AND CLOSING THE INCOME GAP BETWEEN WHITE AND NONWHITE WORKERS.
And one more issue, dear to my heart: It’s time to come down hard on PREDATORY PRACTICES THAT ALLOW FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS TO SYSTEMATICALLY STRIP WEALTH OUT OF COMMUNITIES OF COLOR. ONE OF THE UGLY CONSEQUENCES OF BANK DEREGULATION WAS THAT THERE WAS NO COP ON THE BEAT WHEN TOO MANY FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS FIGURED OUT THAT THEY COULD MAKE GREAT MONEY BY TRICKING, TRAPPING, AND DEFRAUDING TARGETED FAMILIES. Now we have a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and we need to make sure it stays strong and independent so that it can do its job and make credit markets work for black families, Latino families, white families — all families.
Yes, there’s work to do.
Back in March, I met an elderly man at the First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. We were having coffee and donuts in the church basement before the service started. He told me that more than 50 years earlier — in May of 1961 — he had spent 11 hours in that same basement, along with hundreds of people, while a mob outside threatened to burn down the church because it was a sanctuary for civil rights workers. Dr. King called Attorney General Bobby Kennedy, desperately asking for help. The attorney general promised to send the Army, but the closest military base was several hours away. So the members of the church and the civil rights workers waited in the sweltering basement, crowded together, listening to the mob outside and hoping the U.S. Army would arrive in time.
“Sometimes it is important to cause necessary trouble.” — Rep. John LewisAfter the church service, I asked Congressman John Lewis about that night. He had been right there in that church back in 1961 while the mob gathered outside. He had been in the room during the calls to the Attorney General. I asked if he had been afraid that the Army wouldn’t make it in time. He said that he was “never, ever afraid. You come to that point where you lose all sense of fear.” And then he said something I’ll never forget. He said that his parents didn’t want him to get involved in civil rights. They didn’t want him to “cause trouble.” But he had done it anyway. He told me: “Sometimes it is important to cause necessary trouble.”
The first civil rights battles were hard fought. But they established that Black Lives Matter. That Black Citizens Matter. That Black Families Matter. Half a century later, we have made real progress, but we have not made ENOUGH progress. As Senator Kennedy said in his first floor speech, “This is not a political issue. It is a moral issue, to be resolved through political means.” So it comes to us to continue the fight, to make, as John Lewis said, the “necessary trouble” until we can truly say that in America, every citizen enjoys the conditions of freedom.
DONALD TRUMP’S ‘APPRENTICES’ HAD TO AGREE TO GO NUDE
To play in The Donald’s corporate Hunger Games, contestants agreed to surrender control over their lives and images to his producers.
Olivia Nuzzi / The Daily Beast / 08.26.16
Appearing on The Apprentice with Donald Trump required agreeing to a series of odd and invasive demands regarding sex, nudity, and food consumption. According to a copy of an NBC contract reviewed by The Daily Beast, contestants had to agree to be filmed, “whether I am clothed, partially clothed or naked, whether I am aware or unaware of such videotaping, filming or recording.”
2016 is the first election in American history in which lowbrow entertainment and politics have merged to such a degree that they are nearly indistinguishable. The requirements for The Apprentice contestants, while almost certainly not mandated by Trump himself, underscore just how strange this brave new world is.
The Apprentice premiered on NBC in January 2004, when Trump was known primarily as a mouthy real-estate tycoon and New York tabloid fixture with an affinity for gold finishes and shiny new wives. He had already monetized his personal brand—with a bestselling book, Trump: The Art of the Deal, products like Trump: The Game, and bit parts in movies like Home Alone 2—but he was not yet a mainstream superstar. That kind of fame could only come through television.
The premise of the show was uncomplicated: The most fabulously wealthy real-estate developer in New York would search for a young pupil to whom he could impart his boundless wisdom. He would go about this search by sending contestants on a series of goose chases, referred to in the contract as “tasks,” and pitting them against each other. One by one, he would “fire” those who didn’t live up to his standards, until only one remained. The chosen Apprentice would receive a prize of $125,000 and a one-year contract at a Trump company with an additional salary of $125,000.
But ambition and shamelessness were not the only boxes participants needed to check.
The men and women who wanted a shot at proximity to Trump and the grand prize were first asked some mundane questions, such as “What is your favorite movie?” and “If you could hold any political office, what would it be and why?” according a candidate application reviewed by The Daily Beast.
Then they were made to undergo sexually transmitted disease screenings, which tested for “HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HPV, syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and herpes,” according to the contract.
Along with such testing, contestants had to accept “that Producer may impose one or more Series Rules regarding the type of sexual activity, if any, that participants will be permitted to engage in.”
And, the contract states, “I further acknowledge and understand that the film, tape, audio and other recordings that will be made of me in connection with the Series might in other circumstances be considered a serious invasion of my privacy.”
Once those hurdles were crossed, the “players,” as they’re referred to in the contract, were taken to New York, where the contract stipulates they could have “a maximum of two pieces of luggage” containing only “personal belongings… restricted to personal clothing and personal hygiene products.”
And that personal clothing could only be the kind that was “pre-approved” by the show’s producer.
Items players were explicitly not allowed to have included: cellphones; computers; pagers; calculators; other electronics; and personal cash, credit cards, debit cards, or other forms of currency. If any of those items were brought along for the show, players were told they would be confiscated until the show was over.
They were also not permitted to bring or get their own food. “Players will be provided food, food money and/or catering by the Producer,” the agreement says. “In some circumstances, such food, food money and/or catering must be earned by the players, at the Producer’s discretion.”
In the end, the corporate hunger games killed in the ratings and succeeded in inflating Trump’s celebrity to Macy’s Thanksgiving float proportions, paving the way for his eventual presidential campaign–and then the presidential campaign killed The Apprentice, at least for The Donald.
Many insiders believed that Trump’s plan, before winning the Republican primary seemed possible, was to run long enough to poll respectably and promote his brand name and then go back to his show, which mostly satisfied his ego and promised him a considerable income (though maybe not quite as considerable as he’s let on).
But just a few days after he announced his candidacy in June 2015, NBC severed its ties with him, citing his inflammatory rhetoric about immigrants. Trump was, in a sense, fired—though he was by then auditioning for a much bigger job.
One producer who’s worked in reality TV laughed when asked if The Apprentice’s contestant requirements were typical of such projects.
“Nothing that I’ve ever worked on,” the producer said. “People can put in contracts whatever they want. What you put in a contract is whatever they contemplate in the production.” Still, the producer added, “it does seem a little on the extreme.”
A spokesperson for NBC did not respond to a request for comment, but Trump is not unfamiliar with outlandish demands of this nature.
His presidential campaign staff members and even volunteers sign wide-ranging non-disclosure agreements that limit their freedom of speech and, in some cases, the freedom of speech of their employees who have not themselves entered into contracts with Trump.
Trump also told the AP in the early 1990s that he required his dates to be tested for AIDS by his personal doctor. “It’s one of the worst times in the history of the world to be dating,” he said then.
Andy Dehnart, a reality television critic and the publisher of Reality Blurred, told The Daily Beast that reality contracts tend “to be the kinds of legal documents that cover the broadest range of possible outcomes—from fictionalization in editing to horrifying death… They’re kind of a security blanket for those paying for a show involving real people and their real lives.”
However NBC’s demands of Trump’s potential apprentices stack up by reality TV standards, it’s surely the first time a potential president of the United States has ever required such things of his professional underlings.
Trump’s ubiquity can have the effect of making even his highly unusual qualities seem normal. But there simply has never been a nominee for one of America’s two major political parties whose previous job included or was the equivalent of “firing” attention-starved game show contestants.
Funny enough, The Apprentice contract had a requirement that would eliminate Trump from participating for at least a little while: “You must not now be a candidate for public office and must agree not to become one until six months after initial broadcast of all programs in which you appear.”
Re: “… If you do the crime, you must do the time. …”
Scooter Libby did time and everyone knows he did it to cover up for Cheney, George W, Rove and a bunch of others while Halliburton, Carlyle Group and a bunch of other companies were ratcheting up their profits enormously on two tragic wars that are still weighing on the whole country. In the meantime, almost daily now more and more indications histories of crime are coming out about Trump, Bannon, Manafort, Lewandowski. Let’s hope you keep your standards high and apply them to these RWNJs too. Bill and Hillary have never been paid a penny by CGI.
Great description, dickw, of the RWNJ Global Warming denial extremists. You are right, they are beyond rational discussion.
As I stated birdbrain fraudney, these once in one hundred or one thousand year events are currently happening more and more often all around the world and that is what should and does draw the attention of rational people. The Death Valley reading was an anomaly and it took place in a weather system that is very extreme and very isolated. It tells us nothing about global anything.
THE ALT-RIGHT IS MORE THAN WARMED-OVER WHITE SUPREMACY. IT’S THAT, BUT WAY WAY WEIRDER.
Dylan Matthews / Vox / August 25, 2016
Later today in Nevada, Hillary Clinton is scheduled to deliver a speech on the subject of "Donald Trump and his advisors' embrace of the disturbing 'alt-right' political philosophy" that she characterizes as "embracing extremism and presenting a divisive and dystopian view of America which should concern all Americans, regardless of party."
That's a striking level of prominence for a movement that until recently was extremely obscure. A movement lurking in Reddit and 4chan threads and in community blogs and forums, a movement of right-wingers who openly argue that democracy is a joke. That it's weak, it's corrupt, and it caters to the whims of a fickle electorate rather than the needs of the citizenry. That Congress and the president must be replaced with a CEO-like figure to run the country as it truly should be, without the confused input of the masses.
For some in the movement, Donald Trump really is that figure. For the hardcore, even the most authoritarian-styled presidential candidate in decades isn't good enough.
Welcome to the alt-right.
The label blends together straight-up white supremacists, nationalists who think conservatives have sold out to globalization, and nativists who fear immigration will spur civil disarray. But at its core are the ideas of a movement known as neoreaction, and neoreaction (NRx for short) is a rejection of democracy.
Thus, within the world of neoreaction, Trump's seemingly authoritarian impulses are a feature, not a bug. The only real problem is he may not go far enough. NRxer Michael Perilloux, for example, complained that Trump wouldn't pull off the kind of power grab that many of his critics fear him capable of:
Is Trump likely to cancel the constitution, declare martial law, declare himself emperor to be succeeded by his children, nationalize the banks and media, hang some of the worst criminal bankers, send the Israelis back to Israel, call the National Guard to roll tanks into Harvard Yard, place all communists and other anti-American elements under house arrest, retire all government employees, replace the USG with the Trump Organization, and begin actually rebuilding America and western civilization?
Short of that, he is simply another phenomenon within the arcane workings of the system, as worthy of support as the ebb and flow of the tides. Surely, the unprecedented nature of his campaign warrants excited interest as a historical case-study and promising fore-shock of a true restoration, but he is not the king, and we have a ways to go yet.
Others on the alt-right hew closer to Trump, though. The alt-right has become a major base of Trump's online support, causing Trump observers from BuzzFeed to National Review to take notice. They're striking fear into the hearts of the mainstream rightists.
"They are the vehicles by which anti-liberal and dehumanizing sentiments become legitimized in conservative circles," Washington Free Beacon editor Matthew Continetti explained in an essay for Commentary. In an essay for the Federalist called "You Can’t Whitewash the Alt-Right’s Bigotry," Cathy Young assails the movement as, "a mix of old bigotries and new identity and victimhood politics adapted for the straight white male."
The alt-right is often dismissed as white supremacist Trump supporters with Twitter accounts, and they are certainly that. But spend some time talking to key players and reading the movement's central texts, as I did, and you'll find it's more than a simple rebranding of the white nationalist movement. It's the product of the intersection of a longstanding, long-marginalized part of the conservative movement with both the most high-minded and the basest elements of internet culture. It's a mutated revival of a monster William F. Buckley thought he killed in the early 1990s, given new energy by the web.
And it's making its impact felt in a big way this election. In the past, when mainstream conservatives have gone up against racialist, conspiratorial elements on the right, they have emerged the victors. Buckley successively marginalized the John Birch Society in the 1950s, and then Pat Buchanan and his followers in the 1990s. People like Continetti and Young are trying to do the same thing to the alt-right. But with huge amounts of online energy behind the movement, and Trump this year's GOP nominee, it's not clear that the mainstream will win.
Elon Musk for king
Let's start with the most theoretically minded, and probably most interesting, branch of the alt-right: the neoreactionaries.
In 2007, a writer with the pen name Mencius Moldbug (née Curtis Yarvin) started a blog called Unqualified Reservations. He proceeded to write essays that would inspire a whole movement of online political writers. The neoreactionaries drew inspiration from earlier paleoconservatives like Pat Buchanan and Joseph Sobran but with a tech-y twist. Moldbug, for one, is a veteran Bay Area programmer currently working on a startup he cofounded called Urbit.
And the core contention of Moldbug and the other NRx thinkers is one that's been common in technolibertarian circles for a long time: Democracy is a failure.
"Democracy is — as most writers before the 19th century agreed — an ineffective and destructive system of government," Moldbug writes. Moldbug doesn't actually like the term "democracy." He prefers "demotism," or rule of the people, a label under which he sweeps modern-day developed democracies like the US or Western Europe but also the former Soviet bloc, Nazism, and fascism. "Universalist lawful democracy is the least demotist of demotisms, Demotism Lite if you will," he writes. "Compared to Communism and Nazism, there's much to be said for it. But this is a rather low bar."
The purpose of government, in the view of neoreactionaries, isn't to represent the will of the people. It's to govern well, full stop. "From the perspective of its subjects, what counts is not who runs the government but what the government does," Moldbug explains. "Good government is effective, lawful government. Bad government is ineffective, lawless government. How anyone reasonable could disagree with these statements is quite beyond me. And yet clearly almost everyone does."
And democratic government, the neoreactionaries insist, is not effective, lawful government. Because the will of the people is arbitrary and varying, it cannot have the consistency of real, durable law, and it creates incentives for wasteful and, worse still, left-wing government. Moldbug started as an Austrian-school libertarian, and most neoreactionaries have general small-government sympathies and express a fear that democracy inevitably leads to ever greater taxation and redistribution, and otherwise encroaches on individual liberty.
"Democracy and ‘progressive democracy’ are synonymous, and indistinguishable from the expansion of the state," Nick Land, the next most influential neoreactionary thinker after Moldbug, writes. "Since winning elections is overwhelmingly a matter of vote buying, and society’s informational organs (education and media) are no more resistant to bribery than the electorate, a thrifty politician is simply an incompetent politician, and the democratic variant of Darwinism quickly eliminates such misfits from the gene pool." The result is a government that grows larger and larger.
Moldbug is even blunter: "Cthulhu may swim slowly. But he only swims left."
This is a strain of thinking that more mainstream libertarians have expressed in greater and greater numbers of late. In 2007, George Mason economist Bryan Caplan argued in The Myth of the Rational Voter that democracy will inevitably lead to suboptimal economic policy because the general public is systematically biased against markets, increased productivity, and trade with foreigners. Peter Thiel, the libertarian billionaire who co-founded PayPal and Palantir and was the first outsider to invest in Facebook, declared in 2009, "I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible."
But while mainstream libertarians are outspoken about democracy's deficiencies, they rarely propose an alternative. The neoreactionaries do: monarchy. Well, not monarchy specifically, but some kind of nondemocratic system with rule-driven succession. Moldbug likes to use the term "formalism," or "neocameralism," a reference to "cameralism," the philosophy of government embraced by Frederick the Great of Prussia. Moldbug's vision is corporatist, where instead of a nation belonging to a royal family, it belongs to corporation with shareholders to whom it is accountable. "To a neocameralist, a state is a business which owns a country," he writes.
When asked who should lead it, Moldbug's tech roots come through. "It's easy to say 'put Elon [Musk] in charge, he'll figure it out,' and he might well," he tells me via email.
Libertarians also tend to be big fans of modernity, and despite its affinities to the tech world, neoreaction really, really is not. Neoreactionaries believe that for a long time — maybe since the French Revolution — things have been going to shit. Moldbug likes to trot out anecdotes about crime in the Victorian era to make his point. Here's a description of 1876 London he cites:
There are, of course, in most great cities, some quarters of evil repute in which assault and robbery are now and again committed. … But any man of average stature and strength may wander about on foot and alone, at any hour of the day or the night, through the greatest of all cities and its suburbs, along the high roads, and through unfrequented country lanes, and never have so much as the thought of danger thrust upon him, unless he goes out of his way to court it.
The point is clear: Do you feel that safe in 21st-century America? If not, could it be the case that we're regressing as time wears on, and not progressing?
"The present system has every incentive to portray itself as superior to all past systems," the neoreactionary Michael Anissimov writes. "Reactionaries point out this is not the case, and actually see present society in a state of severe decline, pointing to historically high levels of crime, suicide, government and household debt, increasing time preference, and low levels of civic participation and self-reported happiness as a few examples of a current cultural and historical crisis. The demographic crisis in First World countries is cited as another example of decline."
This countering of the narrative of constant progress also makes it easier for the neoreactionaries to defend actually existing monarchy in the past. Most people living today think of contemporary democratic regimes as clearly better than, say, England as ruled by Elizabeth I. Moldbug believes no such thing:
Hitler and Stalin are abortions of the democratic era - cases of what Jacob Talmon called totalitarian democracy. This is easily seen in their unprecedented efforts to control public opinion, through both propaganda and violence. Elizabeth's legitimacy was a function of her identity - it could be removed only by killing her. Her regime was certainly not the stablest government in history, and nor was it entirely free from propaganda, but she had no need to terrorize her subjects into supporting her.
If governments really have gotten less free, and life really has gotten worse in recent centuries, then it's a short leap from those conclusions to thinking that democracy is a lie and absolute monarchy has a lot going for it. (Note that these empirical claims are, well, not true. Scott Alexander explains well here; his devil's advocate account of reactionary beliefs is also well worth your time.)
Neoreaction, race, and the Cathedral
The other distinguishing conflict between the neoreactionaries and the libertarians is that neoreaction places huge value on group membership and group loyalty. Most modern libertarians are individualists, motivated by a desire to prevent the masses from oppressing the individual through the mechanism of democratic government.
Neoreactionaries are not individualists. They think in terms of social structure and order, and view social classes or races as the units determining the future of society, much as Marxists speak not of individual workers and capitalists but of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie as a whole. They are tribalists, and for the most part — let's not mince words — they are racists.
Moldbug in particular views American society as a kind of Indian-style caste system. He views the Democratic Party as a coalition of Brahmins (liberal intellectual types who went to fancy schools), Dalits (poor, mostly black or Latino people), and Helots (Mexican immigrant workers). "What the Dalit alliance gives progressives is more than just a vote bank," he writes. "What the Dalits are is muscle, a militia, a mob. … Basically, the Brahmins have every possible Machiavellian interest in encouraging an invasion of Third World barbarians. The more, the nastier, the better. Their real hereditary enemy is the native barbarian — the half-civilized Vaisya, the ignorant megachurched Okie redneck, the Huckabee voter, the Bircher and McCarthyite, America Firster and Coolidge voter."
Moldbug has rejected white nationalism by name (his father is Jewish, for one thing) but only in the course of praising many aspects of it: "Although I am not a white nationalist, I am not exactly allergic to the stuff … I believe white nationalism is a very ineffective political device for solving the very real problems about which it complains."
He is sympathetic to arguments for black racial inferiority. "Ever since Mill wrote his response to Carlyle on The Negro Question and probably well before, writers in the English Protestant tradition have been defending the blatantly theological proposition that 'all men are created equal,'" he snidely commented on a 2008 blog post. "In the absence of any evidence for this proposition, one can always assert that evidence for the contrary is unconvincing. Note that exactly the same rhetorical strategy can prove the existence of God, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster for that matter."
Just as importantly, he and other neoreactionaries insist that contrary perspectives — support for racist governments, opposition to black liberation movements, etc. — are being viciously suppressed by liberal elites in the US: "even just suggest it," Moldbug writes, "and you'll see what it means to have enemies."
Neoreactionaries are obsessed with taking down what Moldbug refers to as "the Cathedral": a complex of Ivy League universities, the New York Times and other elite media institutions, Hollywood, and more that function to craft and mold public opinion so as to silence opposing viewpoints.
Park MacDougald, in an excellent piece on Nick Land's brand of neoreaction, describes the Cathedral as a "media-academic mind-control apparatus." I actually think the best analogy is to the role the patriarchy plays in radical feminist epistemology, or the role of "ideology" in Marxism. Neo-reaction demands a total rethinking of the way the world works, and such attempts generally only succeed if they can attack the sources of knowledge in society and offer a theory for why they're systematically fallible.
That's how feminist scholars have (I think correctly) undermined pseudoscientific attempts to paint female servility as natural, or male aggression and violence as inevitable and ultimately acceptable. Yes, the argument goes, these ideas have had elite supporters in the past, but those elites were tainted by institutional sexism. Similarly, Marxists are always alert to how media produced by big corporations can be tilted to serve those corporations' class interests. The philosopher Paul Ricoeur once helpfully dubbed this kind of argument the "hermeneutics of suspicion."
Neoreaction takes this approach and flips it on its head. No, it's not institutional sexism or bourgeois class interest that's perverting our knowledge base. It's institutional progressivism, and fear of the revival of monarchism, tribalism, and prejudice.
That makes it a lot easier for neoreactionaries to defend their narrative of Western decline and democratic failure. If you look at the numbers, the Whig theory of history — with some faults and starts, everything's getting better — appears to be basically right. Extreme poverty is at historic lows, hunger and infant mortality are plummeting, life expectancy is going up, war is on the decline, education is more available, homicide rates are down, etc.
But what if those numbers are all lies produced by biased Cathedral sources in academia and propagated by Cathedral tools in the media like Vox? What then?
Before the neoreactionaries, there were the paleocons
The neoreactionaries are a distinctly '00s and '10s phenomenon, but they draw on the racialist and traditionalist arguments of a much older movement: paleoconservatism.
The term "paleoconservatism" is a retronym coined in the 1980s to characterize a brand of conservatism that was by then going extinct, a brand exemplified by Robert Taft, the Ohio senator and legendary isolationist who lost the 1952 Republican nomination to Dwight Eisenhower, and by Pat Buchanan in his 1992, 1996, and 2000 presidential runs.
Paleocons agree with mainstream conservatism on social issues — they tend to be stridently anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ rights, pro-school prayer, and disproportionately traditionalist Catholic — and on the evils of the welfare state, but part ways on international affairs, including immigration, trade, and warfare.
Paleocons are largely isolationist, warning America against foreign entanglements and dismissing neocon attempts at democracy promotion as hubristic and doomed to failure. They were overwhelmingly against the Iraq War, and tend to be heavily critical of Israel. They're also more fervently nationalist than mainstream Republicans. That translates into a very negative view of immigration, both due to its perceived economic harm to Americans and because of the "damage" it does to American culture, and into more support for tariffs and trade protection.
But since Buchanan, the movement hasn't had a loud national voice. After 9/11, paleocon isolationism became anathema among conservative intellectuals and politicians. Mainstream conservatives like George W. Bush and Marco Rubio embraced immigration reform that offered unauthorized immigrants citizenship. Free trade opposition within the GOP went extinct.
There are a number of reasons the paleocons lost ground, but a big one was that the movement had a huge racism problem. In particular, skepticism of foreign entanglements and of the alliance with Israel specifically would occasionally bleed into overt anti-Semitism.
The saga of Joseph Sobran is a case in point. A longtime columnist at National Review, he was fired by William F. Buckley in 1993 following years of open clashes about his attitude toward Israel and Jewish people in general. In 1991, Buckley had dedicated an entire issue of the magazine to a 40,000-word essay he wrote, "In Search of Anti-Semitism," in which he condemned Buchanan (then challenging President George H.W. Bush in the GOP primaries) and his employee Sobran for anti-Jewish prejudice. Buckley had a point. Sobran really was a world-class anti-Semite, writing in one National Review column , "If Christians were sometimes hostile to Jews, that worked two ways. Some rabbinical authorities held that it was permissible to cheat and even kill Gentiles."
After leaving NR, Sobran's writing, in the words of fellow paleocon and American Conservative editor Scott McConnell, "deteriorated into the indefensible." He started speaking at conferences organized by famed Holocaust denier David Irving and the denial group Institute for Historical Review, asking at the latter, "Why on earth is it 'anti-Jewish' to conclude from the evidence that the standard numbers of Jews murdered are inaccurate, or that the Hitler regime, bad as it was in many ways, was not, in fact, intent on racial extermination?"
He wasn't alone. John Derbyshire, perhaps the last real paleocon left at National Review, was canned in 2012 after writing a piece addressed to children full of advice like, "Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally," "Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods," and, "If planning a trip to a beach of amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date."
After that, Derbyshire started writing at VDARE, an anti-immigration white nationalist site named after Virginia Dare, the first white Christian born in British North America. The article that got him fired wasn't actually posted at National Review but at Taki's Magazine, an outlet run by millionaire paleocon Taki Theodoracopulos that was formerly edited by outspoken white supremacist Richard B. Spencer and has run articles by Theodoracopulos in support of the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn.
This has been the trend for paleoconservative writing in the past decade or two. It's largely turned from mainstream conservative outfits to openly racist venues like VDARE, Taki's, American Renaissance, and the Occidental Observer. Admirably, the American Conservative has held the line and resisted crossing over into open white nationalism, but they're basically alone in that.
Meanwhile, Pat Buchanan, the paleocons' great political hope, has more or less always been this openly bigoted. In 1990 he infamously insisted that 850,000 Jews couldn't have died at Treblinka from diesel fumes. In 2007 he declared, "If you want to know ethnicity and power in the United States Senate, 13 members of the Senate are Jewish folks who are from 2 percent of the population. That is where real power is at." In 2008, he wrote an entire book arguing that the Second World War was basically Britain's fault and Hitler was largely blameless. So it's no surprise that he, too, has been increasingly marginalized, losing his MSNBC position in 2012.
The neoreactionaries are not simply heirs to the paleoconservatives. The paleocons are ultimately more religious, and more loyal to the US Constitution and basic small-r republican ideals. But the neoreactionaries share with the paleocons a belief in tribalism and racial difference, and a deep sense that the mainstream is trying to crush them. Joseph Sobran didn't use the term "Cathedral," but he'd surely think it to blame for his marginalization.
And then there are the channers
The leading actual neoreactionaries are not fans of Donald Trump. "Trump appears to have no ideology at all and very little historical/intellectual awareness of his context," Moldbug — who now just goes by his birth name, Curtis Yarvin — writes in an email.
"I would love to see a CEO with a real track record of strategic execution in a large enterprise — an Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos — running against Trump. I don't even think the ideology matters that much; once someone competent got in that office, and felt a real sense of both authority and responsibility, ideology would start to matter a lot less."
Instead, the alt-right's affiliation with Trump comes from another group that blended paleocon-ish ideas with internet culture. I speak, of course, of 4chan.
4chan is mostly still a forum for trolling and random nonsense. It was started to discuss anime, and insofar as it's been political it's been in a not strictly left-right way, and usually through the avenue of Anonymous, the activist group that split off from 4chan to do direct action. Protesting Scientology and leaking information on the Steubenville rapists are definitely political acts, but they're not identifiably left-wing or right-wing.
But in recent years, a vocal right-wing contingent has popped up. As New York magazine's Brian Feldman explains, part of this is an artifact of 4chan gaining popularity and its popular catchall board — /b/ — losing ground to alternatives, notably /pol/, or the "Politically Incorrect" chat board. "To the extent that there is a shared political ideology across /pol/, it’s a heavily ironic mix of garden-variety white supremacy and neo-reactionary movements," Feldman writes.
"Most days," the Daily Beast's Jacob Siegel writes, "/pol/ resembles nothing so much as [white supremacist blog] The Daily Stormer with the signal to noise dial turned only slightly." The Southern Poverty Law Center has taken notice, with fellow Keegan Hankes telling Siegel, "You can’t understate 4chan’s role. I constantly see 4chan being mentioned by the more Internet- and tech-savvy guys in the white nationalist movement. They’re getting their content from 4chan."
Hankes has noticed this trend on Reddit as well, noting in a Gawker essay that "Reddit increasingly is providing a home for anti-black racists — and some of the most virulent and violent propaganda around."
This has channeled into the Trump movement. Milo Yiannopoulos, the Breitbart writer and major Trump defender who's perhaps the most vocal exponent of alt-rightism online, famously employs an army of interns, a lot of whom he says are "young 4chan guys." In their own alt-right explainer, Yiannopoulos and co-author Allum Bokhari argue that /pol/'s alt-righters have embraced racism purely for shock value:
Just as the kids of the 60s shocked their parents with promiscuity, long hair and rock’n’roll, so too do the alt-right’s young meme brigades shock older generations with outrageous caricatures, from the Jewish "Shlomo Shekelburg" to "Remove Kebab," an internet in-joke about the Bosnian genocide. Are they actually bigots? No more than death metal devotees in the 80s were actually Satanists. For them, it’s simply a means to fluster their grandparents … Young people perhaps aren’t primarily attracted to the alt-right because they’re instinctively drawn to its ideology: they’re drawn to it because it seems fresh, daring and funny, while the doctrines of their parents and grandparents seem unexciting, overly-controlling and overly-serious.
For good measure, they quote Moldbug/Yarvin: "If you spend 75 years building a pseudo-religion around anything – an ethnic group, a plaster saint, sexual chastity or the Flying Spaghetti Monster – don’t be surprised when clever 19-year-olds discover that insulting it is now the funniest fucking thing in the world. Because it is."
This branch of the alt-right has also played an important role in the Gamergate movement, an ongoing effort to harass women in the video game industry until they shut up about equality and representation. Yiannopoulos, who before the controversy called gamers "pungent beta male bollock-scratchers and twelve-year-olds," jumped on it as a cause with reactionary potential. "GamerGate is remarkable — and attracts the interest of people like me — because it represents perhaps the first time in the last decade or more that a significant incursion has been made in the culture wars against guilt-mongerers, nannies, authoritarians and far-Left agitators," he wrote in late 2014.
The affinity between gamers and right politics makes sense. "It’s not hard to see why this ideology would catch-on with white male geeks," Klint Finley writes in his excellent explainer on neoreaction. "It tells them that they are the natural rulers of the world, but that they are simultaneously being oppressed by a secret religious order. And the more media attention is paid to workplace inequality, gentrification and the wealth gap, the more their bias is confirmed."
"While GamerGate started off as a very diverse, vocal opponent to what they saw was unethical journalism (before it was debunked), many of the anonymous /pol/ rightists would take advantage of its anti-left character by creating sock-puppets," an anonymous 4channer and ex-Gamergater wrote last year. "Today it is hard to find a 4chan user that doesn’t have an attachment to far right politics."
And this enthusiasm for far-right politics has bled into Trumpism. JaredTSwift, an alt-righter who got his start on 4chan, gushed to Motherboard's Oliver Lee, "Trump was meme-able and entertaining, and something like a ban on Muslim immigration would never have been considered before him."
r/The_Donald — the alt-right dominated home of Trump supporters on Reddit — racked up 52 million pageviews in March, way more than the 35 million at r/SandersForPresident. The driving force behind the subreddit is CisWhiteMaelstrom, a user whose very name includes the kind of purposefully offensive trolling that defines the Channer alt-right. "Clicking through r/The_Donald is like walking into a rowdy clubhouse for (mostly) men who feel under siege from 'political correctness,'" MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin reports. Scrolling through the Reddit page, one sees reference after reference to "cuckservatives," an alt-right term of art which analogizes mainstream conservatives to cuckolded husbands.
While the alt-right constitutes a big share of Trump's online support — if you've ever criticized Trump on Twitter, you've probably dealt with alt-rightists — the internet is not the real world. They're not a necessary part of Trump's electoral coalition. They're not organized enough to make policy demands of a policy administration, and too disillusioned by mainstream politics to make such demands in any case.
Insofar as the alt-right's role in the Trump movement matters, it matters because it suggests a route for Trumpism to survive past Trump. If the polls are right, Trump is set to go down in fiery defeat in November, crushed by Hillary Clinton.
But win or lose, Trump has shown that overt contempt for racial equality, naked tribalistic appeals to white racial solidarity, and vaguely authoritarian rhetoric can add up to a very successful campaign, at least within the Republican Party. That gives the alt-right new relevance, and helps convince its members that America might be ready for their ideas.
It also opens the door for a more sophisticated future candidate, one reared on alt-right arguments rather than stumbling into them the way Trump has. Such a candidate could effectively whip up an alt-right base of support, but potentially use it more intelligently and effectively than Trump. If this sounds fantastical, it's worth remembering that open white supremacists like Strom Thurmond and James Eastland were serving in the US Senate 40, 30, even 20 years ago. Our current period without avowed white nationalists in power, backed by an organized constituency of the same, is the exception, not the norm.
"Trump is a flashlight. Trump shines a light on forgotten truths," the neoreactionary Ryan Landry writes. "Trump shines a light on the fact that we truly have reached a point where a candidate who implicitly advocates for whites is considered dangerous and a cause for protest. … Those on the edge have known this anti-white mania is out there, but the protest-riot made it real for millions more."
That's exactly it. Neoreaction is on the edge, as is the alt-right as a whole, but Trump is not. Trump is decidedly mainstream. He's scaring mainstream conservative outlets like National Review and Commentary. And like Gamergate before him, he suggests that the ideas of neoreaction and alt-rightism could break through, and that candidates supported by alt-right elements have a bright future ahead of them.
Donald Trump's rise is a scary moment in American history