Tag Archives: History

Confederate Clodfelter flies his Confederate flag (updated)

The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports that Legislative District 10 Republican Rep. Todd Clodfelter is proud to fly his Confederate battle flag on his personal computer at the state legislature, and is proud of his Southern ancestry.

The Confederate battle flag, which became popular as a symbol of opposition to the civil rights movement of the 20th century, is a symbol of defending slavery, state sanctioned segregation, white supremacy and institutional violence against African-Americans. If Rep. Clodfelter does not understand this history and is insensitive to how offensive this symbol is to African-Americans, he is an idiot. Pair of lawmakers at odds over display of confederate flag on laptop:

After saying he would not remove the Confederate flag image displayed on his laptop in the Arizona House, Rep. Todd Clodfelter, R-Tucson, said he’ll leave the computer at home instead [with Confederate flag intact].

The Tucson Republican’s 180-degree turn came one day after Rep. Geraldine Peten, D-Goodyear, expressed concerns that she could clearly see the flag from her desk, located one row behind Clodfelter’s seat, during a mandatory harassment and ethics training session at the House of Representatives Jan. 9.

ClodfelterPicture of Rep. Todd Clodfelter’s confederate flag screen saver, posted on Facebook by Rep. Geraldine Peten.

“To me it’s intimidating,” she told her colleagues. “It creates a hostile work environment.”

Rep. Geraldine Peten is correct. Under the new guidelines being adopted by the legislature to come into compliance with the Arizona Civil Rights Act to deal with complaints filed against members of the legislature — arising out of the sexual harassment claims against Rep. Don Shooter — Rep. Peten would be within her rights to file a complaint for a racially hostile work environment over this incident. It would appear that this “mandatory harassment and ethics training” needs some work.

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A lesson from history on the failure of GOP ‘trickle down’ economics

Republicans control the White House, both chambers of Congress, the tilt of the Supreme Court, more state legislative chambers than any time in history, and more governor’s offices than they have held in nearly a century. Republicans Expand Control in a Deeply Divided Nation.

This is the GOP’s high-water mark since 1929 — just before the Great Depression that GOP laissez faire economic policies brought about.

Historian Robert S. McElvaine, the author of “The Great Depression: America, 1929-1941,” warns at the Washington Post, I’m a Depression historian. The GOP tax bill is straight out of 1929.

“There are two ideas of government,” William Jennings Bryan declared in his 1896 “Cross of Gold” speech. “There are those who believe that if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them.”

That was more than three decades before the collapse of the economy in 1929. The crash followed a decade of Republican control of the federal government during which trickle-down policies, including massive tax cuts for the rich, produced the greatest concentration of income in the accounts of the richest 0.01 percent at any time between World War I and 2007 (when trickle-down economics, tax cuts for the hyper-rich, and deregulation again resulted in another economic collapse).

Yet the plain fact that the trickle-down approach has never worked leaves Republicans unfazed. The GOP has been singing from the Market-is-God hymnal for well over a century, telling us that deregulation, tax cuts for the rich, and the concentration of ever more wealth in the bloated accounts of the richest people will result in prosperity for the rest of us. The party is now trying to pass a scam that throws a few crumbs to the middle class (temporarily — millions of middle-class Americans will soon see a tax hike if the bill is enacted) while heaping benefits on the super-rich, multiplying the national debt and endangering the American economy.

As a historian of the Great Depression, I can say: I’ve seen this show before.

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The NFL takes a knee against our white-supremacist-in-chief Donald Trump

No individual has disgraced and diminished the office of the presidency with his puerile conduct more than Donald Trump. Vladimir Putin could not be more pleased with his handiwork and  the damage that Trump is inflicting on the status and moral  leadership of the presidency. Trump is systematically attempting to dismantle the foundational principles, values and mores of American democracy.

Putin pal Donald Trump is no position to question the patriotism of any American.

Over the weekend, Donald Trump turned his plan to divide Americans  on America’s professional sports teams and athletes — in particular, African-American athletes who protest police violence against minorities — something Donald Trump has encouraged, Trump’s speech encouraging police to be ‘rough’, and more recently, to protest Trump’s failure to adequately condemn white supremacist hate speech after Charlottesville.

In this regard, the U.S. Congress unanimously agrees that Trump has failed to adequately condemn white supremacist hate speech. Congress takes Trump to task over his Charlottesville comments.

President Trump is trying to silence athletes who protest police violence in his “law and order,”  i.e. , institutional racism world, and more directly, silence critics of his white supremacy by attempting to reframe their protests as unpatriotic and disrespect for the flag. “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel” – Samuel Johnson, 1775.

We have seen this right-wing play before when the Bush-Cheney regime tried to silence the Dixie Chicks for their public criticism of their unnecessary and illegal war in Iraq.  Like the Dixie Chicks, NFL players, coaches and owners were Not Ready to Make Nice on Sunday.

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Trump’s phantom ‘armada’ leads to mockery and distrust in South Korea

The Trump White House and the Pentagon were either deliberately deceiving the American people last week, or they were so incompetent that they just didn’t know what they were doing. It’s likely a combination of both. Amy Davidson of the New Yorker reports, Donald Trump, North Korea, and the case of the phantom armada:

Some degree of delusion always has to be factored in with Donald Trump: when he referred to “the aircraft carriers” and, in another interview, with Fox Business, said that “we are sending an armada, very powerful,” he was widely understood to be referring to a single aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Carl Vinson, and its support ships. In fairness, the Vinson would have been powerful and provocative enough—if it had, in fact, been speeding toward the Korean Peninsula, or the Sea of Japan, or even just the Pacific Ocean, which it was not. It was in the Indian Ocean, headed in the opposite direction, for exercises with what might be described as the Australian Armada. Just when you think you see the contours of Trump’s phantom menace, he comes up with a Phantom Fleet.

[T]he movements of a carrier group can’t be so hard to conceal, except, perhaps, from the people in charge of America’s foreign policy. Trump wasn’t alone on this one; it’s not a case of him just causing trouble with his phone and Twitter account, rambling about bad hombres. As the timeline makes clear, it’s even worse. (The Wall Street Journal and the Times have good versions.) On April 9th, three days before Trump’s Wall Street Journal interview, the Navy had said that it had ordered the Vinson “to sail north”; H. R. McMaster, the national-security adviser, reiterated that news on the same day, framing it as a response to North Korea’s own provocative moves. Secretary of Defense James Mattis followed that up on April 11th by saying that the Indian Ocean exercises were off, and said that the Vinson was “just on her way up there.” That was false. The next day, the Navy said again that the Vinson had been “ordered north”; it added that the effects of that deployment on “other previously scheduled activities are still being assessed during the transit.” The Pentagon is now trying to sell that last bit as a quiet correction of Mattis, which the press mysteriously missed—but that is, simply put, ridiculous. For one thing, there’s the phrase “during the transit,” which assumes that transit had begun. Or is the idea that the Vinson was on its way to the Sea of Japan, in the sense that we are all on our way from cradle to grave, or that Trump is in transit from the Oval Office to choosing items for the gift shop in his Presidential library? A lot can happen in between.

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Someone really needs to explain Godwin’s Law to Sean Spicer

If today is a Jewish holiday, it must be time for “Baghdad Sean” Spicer to stick his foot in his mouth again. Someone really needs to explain Godwin’s Law to this  guy. SNL needs to call Melissa McCarthy for this Saturday.

Passover is this week, so naturally Sean Spicer Flubbed the Holocaust on Passover:

There’s no good time to make a Hitler comparison, but deploying one in the midst of Passover to justify voluntary airstrikes is an especially unwise choice, as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer realized, to his chagrin, Tuesday afternoon.

Spicer was fielding questions about the Trump administration’s confusing and diffuse strategy toward Syria when he was asked why the White House believed that Russian President Vladimir Putin would break with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at this moment.

“You look, we didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II. You had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” Spicer said.

As puzzled reporters and other observers immediately noted, Spicer’s statement was deeply confusing, even if one could make a case it was accurate in very narrow terms. the Nazi government did not release chemical weapons on the battlefield during World War II. This may be the point Spicer was trying to make, as Defense Secretary James Mattis used a similar line later Tuesday afternoon.

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Centennial Commemoration of U.S. entry into World War I

This week marks the centennial anniversary of the United States entry into World War I, the “Great War” and the “war to end all wars.” Lest we forget, World War I and its consequences shaped the events to follow in the 20th Century.

Surprisingly, this centennial anniversary has received little to no attention in the American media.

Yesterday, April 2, was the anniversary of President Woodrow Wilson asking Congress for a declaration of war against Germany. It went without notice in the American media. Wilson asks for declaration of war:

On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to send U.S. troops into battle against Germany in World War I. In his address to Congress that day, Wilson lamented it is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war. Four days later, on April 6, Congress obliged and declared war on Germany.

In February and March 1917, Germany, embroiled in war with Britain, France and Russia, increased its attacks on neutral shipping in the Atlantic and offered, in the form of the so-called Zimmermann Telegram, to help Mexico regain Texas, New Mexico and Arizona if it would join Germany in a war against the United States. The public outcry against Germany buoyed President Wilson in asking Congress to abandon America’s neutrality to make the world safe for democracy.

Wilson went on to lead what was at the time the largest war-mobilization effort in the country’s history. At first, Wilson asked only for volunteer soldiers, but soon realized voluntary enlistment would not raise a sufficient number of troops and signed the Selective Service Act in May 1917. The Selective Service Act required men between 21 and 35 years of age to register for the draft, increasing the size of the army from 200,000 troops to 4 million by the end of the war.

More than four million American families sent their sons and daughters to serve in uniform during the Great War. 116,516 U.S. soldiers gave their lives in combat. Another 200,000 were wounded (a casualty rate far greater than in World War II).

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