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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

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#EndorseThis: Colbert Fries Trump’s Bayou Babble

Like so many Trump speeches, especially now, the president’s address to energy workers in Louisiana was a rambling mess. He got to the bayou on the taxpayer’s dime, but largely talked trash about his potential Democratic opponents, including “Boot-edge-edge,” “Pocahontas,” and “What the Hell Happened to Joe Biden.”

And like any other Trump speech, this one is much funnier with meta-commentary by Stephen Colbert. When the president veers onto a tangent about the dangers of wind power, Colbert knows what’s really on his mind: fried chicken, extra crispy.

But Colbert himself is preoccupied with Trump’s trade war. What is it good for? He explains, and you’ll laugh.

 

 

Just click.

At Taxpayer Expense, Trump Delivers Campaign Speech In Louisiana

Trump on Tuesday traveled on the taxpayer’s dime to Louisiana, where he was supposed to be giving a speech about “promoting energy infrastructure and economic growth” in America.

But Trump went off on inappropriate tangents on multiple occasions at the event, during which he attacked his potential 2020 Democratic rivals and even bribed Louisiana voters with a new bridge if only they reelect him to a second term.

“I think we’re going to win it big,” he said of the 2020 election. “I’m looking at the competition. You sort of dream about competition like that, but who knows. Who knows.”

Trump then mentioned a number of the candidates running against him and gave commentary about their candidacies.

“I got Boot-Edge-Edge [South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg], I got ’em all,” Trump said. “I got Beto — Beto’s falling fast, what the hell happened? Remember about four weeks ago he said, ‘I was made for this.’ He was made for this, he was made to fall like a rock. What happened?”

 

He went on to attack former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“I don’t know what the hell happened to Biden? I’m looking, I said that doesn’t look like the guy I knew. What happened to him?” Trump said. “And Bernie? Bernie’s crazy. But Bernie’s got a lot more energy than Biden, so you never know… But it’s energy to get rid of your jobs.”

Then Trump turned to his racist attacks on Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

“Pocahontas I think is probably out,” Trump said. “Boy, you’ve got some beauties. Three-hundred-fifty million people and this is what we can do.”

After that untoward rant, Trump then quite literally bribed the voters of Louisiana with a new bridge — but only if they vote for him in 2020.

“If we win this election — which is just 16 months away — we’re giving you a brand new I-10 bridge,” Trump said.

“We’ll have it all set to go day one, right after the election,” Trump added.

Aside from campaigning and bribing voters, a visibly sweaty Trump also went off on his usual tangents of congratulating himself on his 2016 Electoral College win and ripping on wind power and other clean energy policies.

Taxpayers should already be angry that their tax dollars went to fund such a rambling and chaotic speech.

But the fact that Trump used that hard-earned money to campaign is simply beyond the pale.

Published with permission of The American Independent.

“Pro-Life” Republicans Show Contempt For Children

There is a profound cynicism, an ugly, jarring hypocrisy, at the heart of the battle to end reproductive rights for women, and nowhere is that fraudulent politics more vividly on display than in Mississippi. The state that brings up the rear on virtually every measure of child vitality and well-being for which we have statistics — behind even my home state of Alabama — has just passed one of the most restrictive anti-abortion measures in the country.

In signing the legislation, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant was able to say this with a straight face: “We here in Mississippi believe in protecting and defending the whole life of that child. … From education to safety to healthcare, it is the child that we are fighting for here in Mississippi.”

That was incredible, mendacious, indecently contemptuous of the facts. Mississippi is one of the worst places in America for a child to grow up, especially if that child is black and poor. Just take a look at the 2018 Health of Women and Children Report, published by the United Health Foundation. Mississippi has the nation’s highest rate of infant mortality and the second-highest rate of child mortality. It has the highest rate of child poverty, with 31 percent of its children poor. That soars to 49 percent for black children, according to the National Center for Children in Poverty.

For decades now, it has been a commonplace that the regions of the country that treat poor children with policies ranging from malign neglect to visceral contempt are also the regions that insist on forcing women to carry their pregnancies to term, to bear babies that those women do not believe they can care for. It is also a commonplace that men — usually affluent men with antediluvian views of home and hearth — play starring roles in those campaigns against reproductive rights.

While Mississippi makes an easy case for the hypocrisy on display among the so-called “pro-life” crowd, it is by no means the only place where such cynicism lives casually, out in the open. In most of the states where young lives are most fragile — Louisiana, Alabama and Arkansas among them — conservative lawmakers and their constituents have been busy rolling back reproductive rights.

Take Alabama, where voters last year added a so-called trigger law to the state constitution, a measure that would likely outlaw abortion in the state if the Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade, as many political observers expect the high court, now freighted with right-wingers, to do. And like Mississippi, my home state has little use for newborns once they have sprung from the womb.

Alabama ranks 49th in infant mortality; like Mississippi, it sees a higher rate of infant deaths than some developing countries. It ranks 44th in child mortality, according to the Health of Women and Children Report. In Alabama, 26 percent of children live in poverty overall, a figure that surges to 47 percent for black children, the National Center for Child Poverty says.

While the young and poor die or suffer grim diseases for lack of decent health care, Mississippi’s GOP-led state legislature has been rigid in its refusal to expand Medicaid, although, under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, the federal government would shoulder the vast majority of the costs. Alabama’s GOP-dominated legislature has done the same.

Louisiana, which ranks 44th in infant mortality, 48th in child mortality and 47th in maternal mortality, passed a so-called trigger law back in 2006 that could ban abortions. That state has at least expanded Medicaid, which is necessary for the 28 percent of children — 47 percent of black children — who live in poverty there.

There are, among opponents of abortion, a few, mostly Catholics, who are staunch in their support for measures that would ameliorate poverty, break down the barriers of inequality and give poor families a leg up. But most in the anti-abortion crowd don’t show the slightest interest in such measures. They don’t try to cover their misogyny with a fig leaf of remedies to boost the well-being of mothers and children. They know that we know this is an attack on women’s freedom and agency, and they don’t care.

IMAGE: Mississippi’s Republican Governor, Phil Bryant.

Alton Sterling’s Killing Was Caught On Camera, But Justice Is Still A Long Shot

Yet another black man has been killed by police officers during a confrontation. This time, it was Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old father of five who was known for selling CDs outside the convenience store where he was shot down on Tuesday.

The Advocate reported that police were called after an anonymous caller claimed that Sterling had threatened him with a gun.

Sterling is the tenth person to have been killed by police in the state of Louisiana this year. Out of the ten victims, seven were black, two were white, and one’s race was “unknown.” For two of victims, it is “unknown” if they were armed at the time of the shooting.

Eric John Senegal was one of them. He was killed at 27-years-old by deputies who were serving a narcotics search warrant. Two officers were placed on desk duty after the incident. Local media did not follow up on Senegal’s killing.

Shannon Labit, Travis Stevenson and Calvin Smith suffered from mental illnesses.

No one has been indicted in the nine deaths before Sterling’s, and Lousiana Gov. John Bel Edwards did not make statements after any of the previous killings, though he did after Sterling’s death.

Tuesday’s shooting is different in one way – it is clearly visible in a now-viral 48-second video caught by a bystander. By Wednesday morning, protesters were demanding answers and justice, and Sterling’s family made a heart wrenching televised statement. Sterling’s 15-year-old son cried uncontrollably as his mother pledged that Sterling’s death “will not go unnoticed.”

“I think that the city is going to have to give us some good answers,” Edmond Jordan, an attorney representing Sterling’s family who is also a Louisiana state legislator, told CNN. “And I don’t know if they’ll be able to.”

According to Baton Rouge Police Department spokesman Captain L’Jean McKneely, the officers involved in the shooting were wearing body cameras, but the cameras allegedly came loose during the altercation.

Baton Rouge Police Lt. Johnny Dunham later said that the body cameras did catch some footage. “That footage may not be as good as we hoped for. During the altercation, the body cameras did become dislodged, but they did stay on and active and recording at this time.” he said at a Wednesday press conference.

This is not the first time Baton Rouge Police officers have had trouble capturing incidents with their body cameras. The Advocate reported in January that the Baton Rouge Police Department planned to stop the use of L-3 brand body cameras because officers were having trouble keeping them in place.

 

The national attention provoked by the video may be why Louisiana officials are promising to meticulously investigate Sterling’s death.

Gov. Edwards announced Wednesday morning that the shooting of Sterling will be investigated by the civil rights division of the Department of Justice. He called the video of the shooting “disturbing, to say the least.”

But this is not the first time such an incident was caught on camera, and more often than not, video of a police killing isn’t enough to convict the officers. Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer who killed Eric Garner with a chokehold in 2014, was acquitted by a jury. Garner was unarmed, and Pantaleo had faced two civil suits previous to the incident related to abuses of power.

The 2015 murder of Walter Scott is one of few cases of police shootings where an officer involved has been charged with murder. Video of the incident showed officer Michael Slager shooting 8 times at an unarmed Scott, who was running away on foot. Slager is awaiting trial.

Police violence caught on camera has been a part of American life for decades. The videotaped beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles in 1991 caused outrage across the country, which further intensified after the officers who hit him with batons more than 50 times were acquitted by a jury. Three days of violent riots followed in which at least 53 people died.

The Rodney King case happened more than 20 years ago, but black men continue to be harmed and killed by police officers at a disproportionate rate.

The 2012 murder of teenager Trayvon Martin revived activism against police brutality, yet the man who killed him, George Zimmerman, infamously walked away with an acquittal. Just last week, another officer was acquitted in the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, and another in the videotaped beating of a teenage girl in Texas.

With the rise of social media and increased accessibility to information including video, citizen activism has exploded and the Black Lives Matter movement has gained momentum, but little has been done to address the issue in a lasting manner.

While no legislation has been passed to address police brutality in the state, Louisiana passed a law to protect “Blue Lives” back in May. The law includes crimes against law enforcement under the state’s hate crime legislation. It says anyone found to have targeted a police officer, firefighter, or first responder because of their profession will face an increased penalty of five years in prison, and a fine of up to $5,000.

At the time, Gov. Edwards said police officers “deserve every protection that we can give them.”

Louisiana is one of 14 states that have a “bill of rights” for police, including the allowance that “Any interrogation of a police employee or law enforcement officer in connection with an investigation shall be for a reasonable period of time and shall allow for reasonable periods for the rest and personal necessities of such police employee or law enforcement officer,” and “The police employee or law enforcement officer shall be granted up to thirty days to secure such representation, during which time all questioning shall be suspended.”

During these 30 days, officers are not required to answer any questions, and can council with each other if there is more than one officer involved.

According to a Washington Post database of news reports, public records, social media and other sources, at least 505 people have been killed by police so far this year. The states leading the country in police killings are California with 63, Texas with 45 and Florida with 33.

 

Photo: A protester wears tape over her mouth during a silent demonstration against what they say is police brutality after the Ferguson shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by a white police officer, in St. Louis