ANOTHER MURDER OF THE RIGHTEOUS


No statue commemorates the life and career of Spencer Perceval, the only British Prime Minister to be assassinated.

Though his (mentally tortured) assassin cared nothing about Perceval’s role in launching the end of the slave trade throughout the British Empire, this British politician certainly belongs alongside Abraham Lincoln, author of the Emancipation Proclamation, and Czar Alexander II (who ended serfdom, a form of slavery, throughout the Russian Empire), both of whom were victims of assassination by political fanatics.

The Forgotten Prime Minister

Spencer Perceval is the only British Prime Minister ever to be assassinated. He deserves to be remembered for much more than that.

On the 11th May 1812, Spencer Perceval, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, entered the House of Commons. He was on his way to attend an inquiry into a set of Orders of Council he had issued. Perceval was, at the time, the leader of the most powerful democracy on Earth, one whose empire was already beginning to spread across the globe, despite the loss of the American colonies and repeated wars with France. Despite this, he was surprisingly approachable, rarely accompanied by any kind of guard. This was very much the case that afternoon and as Perceval walked through the lobby he passed through a large crowd of petitioners and civil servants, something that he had done many times before without incident.

That day, however, was different. In the crowd of petitioners was John Bellingham. Bellingham was a failed merchant from Liverpool, burdened by debt. This had led, in part, to a period of imprisonment in Russia, from which he had returned just a month before. In the time since he had become convinced that his imprisonment was somehow the government’s fault and that Perceval in particular was to blame.

As the Prime Minister moved through the crowd Bellingham stepped out in front of him. Before anyone could react, Bellingham pulled a pistol from his pocket and fired a single shot from close range into Perceval’s chest.

The wounded Prime Minister collapsed to the ground and confusion and fear rippled through the crowd. Bellingham calmly walked over to a nearby bench and sat down. Seconds later he was restrained by Isaac Gascoigne, Member of Parliament (MP) for Liverpool. Bellingham made no effort to resist. Meanwhile bystanders carried Perceval into a nearby office. His pulse was weak and fading and he was placed on a table. A doctor was frantically sought, but it was too late. The shot had taken Perceval in the heart and the wound was fatal. Mere minutes after the shot had been fired he was dead.

In that moment Spencer Perceval became (and remains) the only British Prime Minister ever to be assassinated.

The forgotten man

History has not been kind to Spencer Perceval. Not because it has judged him harshly, but because it has forgotten really to judge him at all. For most people, if they know the name, it is as the answer to a pub quiz question about his unique death.

A short man (even by the standards of the time), Perceval was blessed with boyish features well into later life. He was born into a well-connected family, but as the second son of his father’s second marriage his prospects (and finances) were not great. As a result, Perceval was largely forced to look to his own resources. He trained as a lawyer and swiftly began to make a name for himself as he embarked on both a legal and a political career.

Perceval’s harmless exterior concealed a fiercely conservative outlook and an almost fanatical commitment to his beliefs. This was a major contributor to his increasing reputation, but it ensured he made many enemies along the way. As a lawyer he participated in the successful prosecution of the publisher of Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man in 1792. His reputation as a fierce opponent of social change grew further.

In 1796 Perceval became the MP for Northampton. He soon began ruthlessly and doggedly attacking the liberal cause in Parliament, becoming a key conservative attack dog for Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger. So much so that when opposition MP George Tierney, challenged the Prime Minister to a duel in 1798, it was Perceval that Pitt suggested should succeed him in office if he lost. Luckily the need did not arise. Pitt and Tierney did indeed duel, firing pistols at twelve paces, but Tierney’s first shot missed and Pitt elected to fire into the air.

A country on the verge of great change

Perceval’s conservatism and extreme anti-liberal stance came at a time when Britain (and indeed the world) faced enormous social upheaval. France was in a state of revolution and the call for reform at home was increasing day by day. Abolitionism — the quest to end slavery — had also begun to make some headway in Britain, although its supporters knew they faced an up-hill battle to bring it to pass.

Slavery stood at the heart of British conservatism. It was a trade that earned enormous wealth for the country, particularly in ports such as Liverpool which played a crucial role in the world slave trade. Manufactured goods would be loaded there onto ships bound for Africa, where they were traded for slaves. The slaves would then be taken by those same ships to America, where they (or at least those that survived the journey) would be traded for goods such as sugar, coffee or tobacco. These would be brought back to Liverpool, where enormous profits would be made and this horrific triangular trade would begin again.

Abolutionists faced a situation similar to that faced by those battling the Tobacco industry over lung cancer, or energy companies over environmental issues, today. They may have had the moral high ground but slavery’s supporters had the money, and they could call on many powerful, political supporters on both sides of the benches in Parliament.

In this environment you could be forgiven for thinking that Spencer Perceval, Pitt the Younger’s conservative attack dog, would be at the heart of the fight to preserve this shameful institution. Remarkably, the truth was the exact opposite.

Refusing to look away

William Wilberforce, one of the prime architects of abolition, was a man who firmly believed that the practice of slavery could never survive the exposure of what it truly involved. Once a person knew what was involved then they faced a stark moral choice.

“You may choose to look the other way,” Wilberforce once explained, “but you can never say again that you did not know.”

In the early 1800s Perceval was one of several politicians on whom Wilberforce and his supporters tested this theory. On the MP for Northampton, it worked. Having seen the horrible reality of the trade, Perceval became convinced that it had no place in modern society. Whatever his feelings on reform or liberalism in general, he soon became convinced that slavery was an absolute wrong. As a man for whom convictions were more important than politics, he soon became determined to do what he could to bring it to an end, regardless of the conflicts this might cause him within his own political party.

Finding a loop-hole

By the time he converted Perceval to the cause, Wilberforce had been trying, and failing, to get Parliament to ban the slave trade for over ten years. The brutal truth was the votes weren’t there. Plenty of politicians privately professed their opposition to slavery, but few would commit to its end publicly for fear of angering the wealthy and powerful pro-slavery lobby. That reluctance extended to Pitt the Younger himself. The Prime Minister told Wilberforce that he was personally against the trade, but that his hands were tied. He would not publicly support the cause or trigger a vote for fear of alienating his support or losing in Parliament.

The abolitionists knew that what they needed was some kind of win — anything that would put the first crack into the legal and political armour that surrounded the institution of slavery. In the end it was Perceval, determined to do the right thing despite the overwhelming pressure to do nothing, who finally found a way to strike that first blow.

In 1805 Britain was locked in conflict with France, and this had resulted in the occupation of Dutch Guiana. Ever the lawyer, Perceval quickly spotted an unexpected opportunity. The occupation had been carried out under Crown rather than Parliamentary authority. It was a subtle difference, but an important one as it meant that the way in which it was governed was subtly different to the rest of British territory. Most importantly, Perceval spotted, it meant that with a bit of legal hand-waving, a ban on the import of slaves to the new colony could go into the Orders-in-Council being enacted to prevent neutral countries from trading with France. And of course, Perceval quietly pointed out to Pitt, thanks to the vagaries of the British Parliamentary system Orders-in-Council didn’t need Parliamentary approval.

It was a masterful piece of political manouevring. Perceval had recognised that Wiberforce’s head-on approach could only take things so far. Certainly it had worked on Perceval himself, but the MP for Northampton knew that Pitt would never stand in front of the House of Commons and publicly commit to a cause which many of his friends and supporters still fervently opposed. So rather than try and force Pitt to do so, Perceval had simply engineered a way round it. Very quickly, the Prime Minister agreed to make the change.

The Dutch Guianan ban represented a key victory for the abolitionist cause. At a stroke, a trade that had consumed 6,000 human lives a year in Guiana had been ended, It also set a huge precedent. It opened a crack in slavery’s legal armour that could never be closed. Perceval remained determined to widen it further.

Seeing things through

In 1807 Parliament finally passed the Slave Trade Act. As the name implies, the Act banned the practice of the slave trade throughout the entirety of the British Empire and also committed Great Britain to press other European nations to do the same.

The passing of the Act represented a public triumph for the abolitionist cause and for Wilberforce himself, but neither Wilberforce nor Perceval believed that it represented the end of the fight. Its opponents were not beaten by its passing, and remained determined to use their power to weaken its impact. Over the next few years, some of the most tumultuous in British Parliamentary history, Perceval worked hard to ensure that the ideals of the Act became the reality. When the government Pitt had formed fell as the Bill was passing through Parliament, it was Perceval that carefully shepherded it through the change of government. Later, during his own tenure as Prime Minister, Perceval worked hard to give it teeth. This would ultimately lead to the founding of the West Africa Squadron, the Royal Navy’s first dedicated anti-slavery force, backed up by the full legal and political force of Perceval’s government.

Ultimately, by the time of his assassination, Perceval had done more than almost any man in Britain to ensure that not only would the slave trade be banned, but that the ban would not be a paper tiger. He was determined to ensure it would have a real impact both in Britain and anywhere British power projected.

Making enemies

Perceval’s strange combination of anti-liberalism and reform to be found Perceval ensured that he was never short of enemies. His arch-conservatism earned him the vitriol of liberals, whilst at the same time his commitment to eradicating the slave trade provoked the same reaction among many on his own side of the political fence.

In 1806 he even added the Prince Regent (yes that one) to his ever-growing list of enemies. The Prince‘s marriage to his wife, Charlotte was an unhappy one. Their marriage had been arranged against his will, and within a year of their nuptuals they were already living separately. When rumours began to circulate that the Princess might have had an affair, George stoked the flames and organised an investigation into her behaviour through his political connections.

Appalled at the smear campaign being enacted against Charlotte, Perceval became a key player in her defence. He wrote what became known infamously as “The Book” (which you can read here). It was a brutal, legal takedown of the Prince’s case, one that Perceval told the future George IV he would publish if the Prince didn’t back down and allow Charlotte to resume her public life. Brow-beaten and blackmailed, the Prince did so, although not before bombarding Perceval with what one observer described as “the most offensive personal abuse, and an oath that cannot be recited.”

An un-expected Prime Minister

To many Perceval’s ascension to the position of Prime Minister in 1809 seemed doomed to failure. Certainly it could not have happened at any other time. Although, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was a senior figure in the government, he arguably only really got the job because George Canning and Lord Castlereagh, the two leading political lights of the day, were locked a personal political rivalry that ruined their own chances of taking the top job (they too had been caught duelling). Both men initially refused to serve under Perceval. Various other Tory politicians refused to serve in his government as well, believing that the increasing economic hardships at home and the conflict with France abroad would make it unpopular and likely to fall. In the end, Perceval was unable even to find anyone willing to take on the office of Chancellor was forced to shoulder both roles.

Despite this inauspicious start, somehow Perceval made it work. Over the next two years his personality seemed to hold everything together — even his enemies in Parliament respected him, if not his politics — and perhaps most crucially few doubted his personal integrity. As a politician he was practically unique at the time — not only because he refused to treat politics as an opportunity to make money from the public purse (and gave much of what he could spare to charity) but also because he had married for love.

The family man

Perceval’s marriage to Jane Wilson had taken place while he was a poor junior lawyer, and though her father approved of his character he disapproved of Perceval’s poverty. The two lovers were forced to elope in order to seal their marriage, living for several years in a small flat above a carpet shop. A devoted husband, Perceval never took a mistress, something which caused much confusion amongst his political peers. So too did the fact that he adored his children. The couple had thirteen, twelve of whom survived into adulthood and Perceval delighted not only in helping raise them, but also in playing games with them.

“He was beloved without sensation of fear,” wrote one bemused contemporary on seeing Perceval with his children, “and never so happy as when playing in the midst of them.”

The stable statesman

Perceval’s integrity and talent for holding things together turned out to be exactly what the times required. Alongside ensuring that the Slavery Act was enforced he also worked hard to prosecute the war against Napoleon’s France in the face of successive defeats.

After the disastrous Walcheren campaign in the Netherlands and setbacks on the Iberian Peninsular, Perceval came under enormous pressure to withdraw all British troops from the continent. The small British force in Portugal under Sir Arthur Wellesley, however, continued to cling on. Napoleon had dismissed Wellesley as a “Sepoy General,” a derogatory reference to the fact that his experience had, until the Peninsular, largely come from fighting in India. It was a view that some in the upper echelons of British politics and the military shared and they began to advocate the army — or at least Wellesey’s — removal.

Perceval’s support for the General and his army, however, was unwavering. This gave Wellesley the time to prove his detractors wrong. By the end of the war with France, Wellesley’s victory over both the French and his detractors was complete, and as Viscount (later Duke of) Wellington he rightly cemented his place in the pantheon of great generals, and ultimately beat Napoleon himself at Waterloo.

Perceval’s commitment to prosecuting the war would have consequences beyond the battlefield though and beyond his own life. It brought economic hardship at home, to the point where in some cities — including London itself — news of his assassination was greeted with cheers. His refusal as Prime Minister to lessen the trade restrictions on neutral powers would also help set Britain and the United States on a path to war — the War of 1812, in which the White House would burn.

By 1812, however, there were few in Parliament — on either bench — who would dispute that Perceval was the right man for the Premiership. His cabinet colleagues referred to his as the ‘Supreme Commander’. As a politician he was at the height of his power when Bellingham’s bullet struck, and he was almost universally mourned by his peers after his death.

More than a piece of trivia

Given his unique place in history, it is perhaps inevitable that whenever the anniversary of Perceval’s death comes about, such coverage as there is nearly always focuses only on his assassination. Do spare a thought though for the man behind the pub quiz question.

Even the Prince Regent had come to begrudgingly respect him, and on realising that Perceval’s early death had robbed his wife and children of their sole source of income. Immediately requested that Parliament vote them a lump sum and an annuity for life.

Lord Castlereagh, once Perceval’s opponent but by then his Foreign Secretary, was unable to finish reading the Regent’s request in Parliament. Breaking down with emotion, he was forced to sit down and let others finish the reading.

“In most faces,” wrote one Parliamentary observer, “there was an agony of tears.”

Parliament wanted to bury Perceval in Westminster Abbey, but his widow Jane refused. He would not have wanted it, she insisted. He was buried in a quiet, private ceremony by his family in St Lukes, Charlton. Perceval’s journey into anonymity had begun.

That anonymity is unfair. There is no doubting that he was a man of contrasts. He was a conservative attack dog, a staunch anti-reformist and a blackmailer. He was also a loving husband and father, a man of integrity and an abolitionist. Indeed after Perceval’s death, William Wilberforce said that the abolitionist movement owed more to Perceval than it ever did to him.

In fact, possibly the least interesting thing Perceval ever did was get assassinated.

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CO2 is an excellent fire extinguisher. Meteors and asteroids are supposed to burn up in our atmosphere–unless it contains high levels of CO2. An example from our geologic past explained below.


30kg-co2-wheeled
Marine fire extinguisher, 30 KG CO2

The contraction of the thermosphere will reduce atmospheric drag on satellites and may have adverse consequences for the already unstable orbital debris environment, because it will slow the rate at which debris ( asteroids and meteorites) burn up in the atmosphere. Reference: Naval Research Laboratory (2012) report following.

Confronting Climate Change: Critical Issues for New Zealand, Wellington:
Victoria University Press, 2006.

Chapter 6

(author), Peter Barrett:

The most recent period of the Earth’s history, the Cenozoic era, began 65 million years ago with a bang: a
meteorite impact that ended the rule of the dinosaurs, but disturbed only briefly the super-warm climate of
the times. However, for the past 50 million years, the Earth has been cooling and it is now becoming clear
that this long-term cooling trend may be  reversing in the last few decades (IPCC, 2001). In this chapter,
I outline the evidence for this view, which is becoming widely accepted by those who study the Earth’s
climate system and its past history.
Although geologists have been learning about the Earth’s history for hundreds of years, a real understanding
has developed merely in the last four decades through deep-sea drilling and analytical chemistry. Thousands
of cores have been extracted from the seabed, and analysed by tens of thousands of scientists in hundreds of
laboratories. They have increased our understanding of many aspects of the Earth’s history, but I intend to
focus on just two: the Earth’s surface temperature, and carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere.

 Until 65 million years ago, when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth, the planet’s geography was somewhat
different from now in several respects. The Atlantic Ocean was much narrower to both the north and south,
Australia was still joined to Antarctica, and New Zealand was under the sea off the coast of Australia.
However, the Earth’s temperature was very different. This was a warmer planet by between 6°C and 10°C,
and CO2 levels were between two and eight times higher than pre-industrial values (Bice et al. 2006). It was
what scientists now call a ‘greenhouse world’. Life on Earth was severely challenged on that day 65 million
years ago when a meteorite 10 km wide hit the Yucatan Peninsula, leaving a 200 km crater and sending
many cubic kilometres of shattered debris and dust into the stratosphere. As a consequence, not only the
dinosaurs but around sixty percent of all species on Earth died out. There was undoubtedly a major impact on
the Earth’s climate for decades or even longer. Cooling effects from the dust of the explosion gave way to
warming as the dust settled out, and increased CO2 from the fires that followed.

 

About The Chicxulub Crater (left by the meteorite referred to above)

The Chicxulub crater on the Yucatan peninsula is believed to be the most likely site of the asteroid impact responsible for the demise of the dinosaurs.

Dinosaur death due to meteor strike

The crater measures between 180 and 240 kilometres across, indicating an impactor of colossal size, the biggest impact confirmed on Earth.

The collision at Chicxulub sent vaporized rocks, cracked mineral grains and molten rock flying around the world.

The Chicxulub crater represents the most recent major impact on the Earth, and despite its geologically young age, it is already an extremely well- hidden structure that has taken teams of geologists and geophysicists many years to unravel.

In fact it is so hidden, that nowadays the crater is not noticeable when walking across it, as the crater is merely 3-4 meters deep. At the time of the impact though, the crater probably was over 900 meters deep.

Chicxulub location


Chicxulub Impact – location map

Discovery

The crater was just recently discovered. In 1978, geophysicists Glen Penfield and Antonio Camargo worked for the Mexican state oil company Pemex, as part of an aerial magnetic survey of the Gulf of Mexico, just north of the Yucatan Peninsula. Their job was to use geophysical data to study possible locations to extract oil. During their investigation, they found a big symmetrical underground arc that measured around 70 kilometers.

Pemex map

But this wasn’t the first map Pemex had of that area. Another Pemex contractor, Robert Baltosser made similar discoveries earlier, but was forbid to publish them because of Pemex corporate policy. Consulting the maps made by Baltosser, Penfield found another arc on the peninsula itself. Comparing the two maps, he found that the two arcs formed a circle 180 km in diameter, with its central point near the town of Chicxulub , in the Yucatan. Based on this data, he was sure that the site was a spot of some cataclysmic event in geological history.

Although Pemex forbid them to publish certain data, Penfield and Camargo presented their findings in 1981 at a conference of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG). At that moment his report attracted little attention because although they had lots of geophysical data, they had no rock samples, or any other physical evidence of the collision.

Concomitantly, American physicist, Luis Walter Alvarez published a paper in which he theorized that the Earth was stuck by a foreign object around the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary (K-T boundary). After data about the Chicxulub crater was gathered, it was linked to Alvarez’s theory, providing support for it.

Environmental and geological effects of the impact

It is believed that after the impact, some of the biggest tsunamis in Earth’s history were formed.

The emission of dust and particles could have covered the entire surface of the Earth for several years, possibly a decade, making life difficult for many terrestrial animals.

For some years after the impact, sunlight would have been prevented to reach the surface of the Earth, cooling it down abruptly.

1-howdoesaninv

Besides the cooling effect, plants wouldn’t have been able to develop, causing devastating effects for the entire food chain.

There are also speculations that the vaporized material might have blown away part of Earth’s atmosphere or that the impact would have resulted worldwide forest fires, but these speculations need to be challenged.

Chicxulub crater Yutacan


Chicxulub Crater Yutacan

Chicxulub inner crater at the same scale as the Los Angeles - San Diego area


Chicxulub inner crater at the same scale as the Los Angeles – San Diego area

Scientists detect carbon dioxide accumulation at the edge of space (Update)

Scientists detect carbon dioxide accumulation at the edge of space
ACE satellite observing the sun through Earth’s atmosphere. Credit: ACE website, University of Waterloo

(Phys.org)—A team of scientists from the Naval Research Laboratory, Old Dominion University, and the University of Waterloo reports the first direct evidence that emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) caused by human activity are propagating upward to the highest regions of the atmosphere. The observed CO2 increase is expected to gradually result in a cooler, more contracted upper atmosphere and a consequent reduction in the atmospheric drag experienced by satellites. The team published its findings in Nature Geoscience on November 11, 2012.

 

The team of Dr. John Emmert, Dr. Michael Stevens, and Dr. Douglas Drob from NRL’s Space Science Division; Dr. Peter Bernath from Old Dominion University; and Dr. Chris Boone from the University of Waterloo in Canada studied eight years of CO2 measurements made by the Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment (ACE), a scientific satellite mission funded primarily by the Canadian Space Agency. ACE determines vertical profiles of CO2 and many other atmospheric gases by measuring how the atmosphere absorbs sunlight at different wavelengths as the Sun rises and sets relative to the spacecraft.

Scientists detect carbon dioxide accumulation at the edge of space

 

CO2 concentration at 100 km altitude (~62 mi) measured by ACE (blue circles) and predicted by a model of the chemistry and physics of the global upper atmosphere (green crosses). The purple line shows the linear trend of the ACE data. Credit: U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

CO2 occurs naturally throughout Earth’s atmosphere and is the primary radiative cooling agent in the energy balance of the mesosphere (~50-90 km altitude) and thermosphere (>90 km). The same properties of CO2 that cause it to trap heat in the troposphere (<15 km) make it an efficient cooler at higher altitudes. The difference is that at high altitudes, the density of CO2 is too thin to recapture the infrared radiation (heat) that it emits. “In the upper atmosphere,” explains Emmert, “thermal energy is transferred via collisions from other atmospheric constituents to CO2, which then emits the energy as heat that escapes to outer space.”

The enhanced cooling produced by the increasing CO2 should result in a more contracted thermosphere, where many satellites, including the International Space Station, operate. The contraction of the thermosphere will reduce atmospheric drag on satellites and may have adverse consequences for the already unstable orbital debris environment, because it will slow the rate at which debris ( asteroids and meteorites) burn up in the atmosphere.

It has been expected that anthropogenic CO2 increases are propagating upward throughout the entire atmosphere. Before the study of ACE data, CO2 trends had been measured only up to 35 km altitude, although indirect evidence from satellite drag studies indicates that the thermosphere is indeed slowly contracting. The scientists estimate that the concentration of carbon near 100 km altitude is increasing at a rate of 23.5 ± 6.3 parts per million (ppm) per decade, which is about 10 ppm/decade faster than predicted by upper atmospheric model simulations. In comparison, tropospheric CO2 concentrations are increasing at a rate of about 20 ppm/decade (the current concentration of CO2 near the ground is ~390 ppm). The authors speculate that the larger than expected upper atmospheric trend may be caused by changes in upper atmospheric circulation and mixing.


Explore further

Rising carbon dioxide levels increase risks to satellites


More information: Nature Geoscience paper: DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1626

Journal information: Nature Geoscience  Nature
Provided by Naval Research Laboratory
Categories: History, Science and Biography | Leave a comment
 
 

“Pro-Life” and Racism linked


The Racist Origins of ‘Pro-Life’ Abortion Movement They Never Talk About, by Wagatwe Wanjuki, July 10, 2018

Fundamentalist Christians and [the KKK] are pretty close, fighting for God and country. Someday we may all be in the trenches together in the fight against the slaughter of unborn children. — John Burt, 1994 New York Times interview
Reversing Roe v. Wade goes against the will of the people. A recent Quinnipiac poll shows that a clear majority support the Supreme Court ruling ensuring a patient’s access to abortion care. That, of course, won’t stop opponents to the measure from ruling by minority; it’s exactly what the so-called “pro-lifers” want.
Rule by minority has increasingly become the Republican’s modus operandi; gerrymandering, voter suppression, and congressional loopholes show they are not shy about staying in power by any means necessary. Now we’re seeing what’s possible when a man like Donald Trump embraces it as the leader of the power. Trump has not hesitated to embrace white nationalists and give racists power—just look at Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Jeff Sessions—which is exactly why it’s prime time for Roe v. Wade to come up on the chopping block.
It’s no coincidence that the biggest national threat to abortion rights since Roe is happening under such a racist government. Have you ever wondered why the “pro-life” movement is so … white? Or perhaps you’ve noticed that they seem incapable of not being racist whenever they pretend to care about Black people to further their extreme agenda.
You’re not alone. It turns out that the pro-life movement has been very good about hiding its racist origins. That’s not just because white people tend to be uncomfortable and avoidant when talking about race. It’s because it also exposes the true goal of the movement, which makes their initially confusing hypocrisy incredibly clear.

Abortion restrictions have always been political—and about race

Abortion provider  Ann Lohman (a.k.a. Madame Restell) based on a photograph, 1888. From Recollections of a New York City Chief of Police by George W. Walling.
Madame Restell, née Ann Lohman
During much of the 19th century, abortion was unregulated and business was booming. The industry was doing so well that one famous provider, Madame Restell, invested in one of New York City’s first luxury apartment buildings with her husband. The white, middle-class women who could afford abortions were having more control of their bodies and thus having fewer children. This was all happening while the United States was also getting more Catholic and Jewish immigrants.
The fears of white women increasingly turning away from doing their “duty” to bear children coupled with xenophobia compelled powerful white men to spring into action. Under the guise of wanting to require a medical license to perform abortions, the American Medical Association (AMA) ran a successful campaign to ban abortion care and put the decision to make exceptions completely in their hands. How did they succeed? They appealed to the racist little hearts of Anglo-Saxon politicians.
Back then, “pro-life” racism wasn’t as subtle. The authors of “Abortion, Race, and Gender in Nineteenth-Century America” in the American Sociological Review wrote that “physicians argued that middle-class, Anglo-Saxon married women were those obtaining abortions, and that their use of abortion to curtail childbearing threatened the Anglo-Saxon race.” Take this excerpt from a book by Dr. Augustus K. Gardner from 1870, for example:
Infanticide is no new crime. Savages have existed in all times, and abortions and destruction of children at and subsequent to birth have been practiced among all barbarous nations of antiquity … The savages of past ages were not better than the women who commit such infamous murders to-day, to avoid the cares, the expense or the duty of nursing and tending a child.
Here we see how framing abortion as murder came from racist propaganda. Dr. Gardner talked about barbaric peoples—Indians, Greeks, and Chinese, for example—that supposedly partook in infanticide. He uses this in an attempt to shame women from seeking abortions, calling them no better than these “savages.” Political anti-abortion rhetoric began with this message: abortion is for other people. Non-white people.
Yet even back then, there was no consensus among conservatives or Christians about abortion’s morality. However, the disproportionate amount of power that rich white men had in the country—as doctors and politicians—allowed this minority to execute its will on the people (sound familiar?).

The truth about conservative hate of Margaret Sanger—and contraception

Margaret Sanger. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2016879604/
Margaret Sanger
While the 19th century racists succeeded in getting a nationwide abortion ban, that pesky desire from women for autonomy kept rearing its head. It’s almost as if you keep oppressing people, they will eventually want more rights—no matter how hard you try!
No wonder they hated Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood. She published a feminist magazine in 1914  that advocated for reproductive freedom—exactly what racist white men didn’t want embraced by women. The smears and attacks against her continue today as conservatives try to paint her as the racist. The truth is that she was a proponent of eugenics, but was staunchly against its use for racist means. At the Jewish Woman’s Archive, Open Society Institute fellow Ellen Chasler explains:
She distinguished between individual applications of eugenic principles and cultural ones and spoke out against immigration prohibitions that promoted ethnic or racial stereotypes with a biological rationale. She saw birth control as an instrument of social justice, not of social control.”
In fact, Sanger worked with activists of color like W.E.B. Du Boisand Japanese feminist Shizue Kato—people conservatives today would undoubtedly disparage. Dr. Martin Luther King even once said, “There is a striking kinship between our [civil rights] movement and Margaret Sanger’s early efforts in “Family Planning—A Special and Urgent Concern.”
While there’s no excuse for Sanger’s support of the eugenics movement, it does show that the fact was distorted by a white racist movement that undoubtedly has people who would agree with her eugenic statements today.
Even in Sanger’s time, white supremacists still couldn’t agree on whether to support birth control or not. Some saw it as a possible means to keep “undesirables” from reproducing, while other had fears that Anglo-Saxon white women would embrace it too much and significantly lower their birth rate.

Tools of white supremacy: from school segregation to abortion

Abortion became a political tool of racist white evangelicals as a response to the Black civil rights movement of the 1960’s. Displeased with forced school integration and other signs of Black people being treated like human beings, the founders of the modern anti-choice movement sought to find an issue to mobilize the conservative base. With enough grassroots support, white evangelical leaders could get people who’d Make America Explicitly Racist again in power and protect its white people as they saw fit.
Washington, UNITED STATES:  Reverend Dr. Jerry Falwell, founder and chancellor of Liberty University, speaks during a Christians United For Israel(CUFI) news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, 19 July 2006. CUFI is a new association of 3,000 Christians urging Congress and the public to strengthen defense of Israel.            AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON  (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Jerry Falwell speaks at a Christians United For Israel news conference.
One of these leaders is preacher Jerry Falwell, the founder of Liberty University: he hated Dr. King and all this civil rights expansion. In response to Brown v. Board of Education, he created private, white-only Christian schools to try and preserve segregation. It worked for a while, but the government started cracking down on the schools explicitly made just for white children.
In hopes of reversing this wave, evangelicals had thrown their weight behind President Jimmy Carter, a Democrat and fellow evangelical Christian, for the 1976 election. Unfortunately for Falwell and friends, Carter wasn’t also a racist. Under Carter’s watch, the crackdown on white schools continued.
Activist Paul Weyrich had long suggested using abortion as their political issue. Now that school segregation had failed, leaders like Falwell and Focus on the Family’s Dr. James Dobson agreed to join forces to usher in a new era in white supremacist political activism: the pro-life movement.
While Roe v. Wade was already years old, they tested using the “pro-life” political stance as a way to get candidates who’d do their racist bidding in office during the midterm elections—and it worked. They won three Senate seats and a governorship thanks, in part, to low turnout from Democrats and high energy from the white evangelicals. They found a winning issue and took it to the national stage next.

How racism brought Republicans and white evangelicals together

3/15/1983 President Reagan Meeting with Jerry Falwell in Oval Office
President Reagan and Jerry Falwell in the Oval Office.
Evangelical leaders tried to influence Carter to seek a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe v. Wade. He refused, so they looked to the other party. The Republican Party’s sexism dovetailed nicely with racist anti-abortion policies and support for such an amendment was made a part of the party’s platform. And thus, the GOP officially adopted the language proposed by the power-hungry white evangelicals and officially became the “pro-life” party with candidate Ronald Reagan as the leader.
Reagan was a good bet. He had name recognition with his acting career before entering politics. And, like Falwell and friends, Reagan lamented the advancement of the civil rights for Black people. Reagan had no problem catering to racists, pushing the “welfare queen” myth and calling the Voting Rights Act “humiliating to the South.” Oh, and he was endorsed by the KKK—twice.
At first glance, Reagan seemed to be the least likely ally for the anti-choice movement. When he was California’s governor, he signed the country’s least restrictive abortion access bill in the country. Carter had a documented history of being anti-abortion, both in his personal and political life. However, it’s Carter’s refusal to bend to the political will of the powerful white evangelical men that was seen as the biggest liability.
Reagan’s landslide win solidified the religious right’s political strength. Falwell, Dobson, and Weyrich had succeeded in making their racist political goals viable enough to get millions to vote for their preferred candidate who’d get rid of abortion and keep the brown and Black people from taking over. Since then, the political power of white evangelicals in the United States has only gotten stronger.

Today’s political mess in perspective

There’s a reason why the pro-life advocates and #alllivesmatter crowd has been silent at best about the mistreatment of children at the border at the hands of the administration. They’re not the members of a human rights movement; it’s just what they say to convince clueless white people. The pro-life movement is white nationalist campaign that will use any messaging or backward logic necessary to achieve their genocidal goals.
This puts white evangelicals’ nearly unwavering support of Trump into perspective. They put up with his very un-Christian behavior because he’s a very effective vessel for their racist political goals. It is increasingly clear that the goal of the pro-life leaders is to dominate our politics; they don’t want true democracy. Instead, a few white men want to exploit the system as much as possible until they can once again live in a country where women don’t control their bodies, immigration doesn’t happen, and people of color are not truly citizens.

 

Thoughts from Greg Metcalf, an excerpt from  MY FREE SENTENCES, WordPress

(if Roe vs. Wade is overturned) We would return to the days of women getting risky procedures from unqualified doctors in horrid conditions. Some of them would die. We’d have an increase of babies from women whose own judgment was that they weren’t prepared to have a child and care for it. In many cases, this would be financial, and we would simultaneously have a hypocritical extremist GOP government pulling back on programs to help the poor, a reduction in the SNAPs program, cuts to Medicaid, fewer opportunities for aid in childcare. Suicide rates among women would go up.

Sanctimoniously, some on the far right, Mike Pence, and others, would blame these problems on the women, falling back on their dogma that they shouldn’t have been having sex. What about rape? We couldn’t make an exception for rape cases, at least not one that would mean much, because rape statistics are clear. Rape is rarely proven in a court of law, not because it doesn’t occur, it’s just difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, the legal standard. Would we create a lower standard of proof that would allow for rape exceptions? Where would we draw THAT line to prevent women from abusing the new system of law that is abusing them?

HISTORY MATTERS–is “Pro-Life” really “Pro-Death” in disguise?

In 1936, before legal abortions, a group of experts determined that there were about 681,600 illegal abortions resulting in the death of 8,179 women in that year alone. American hospitals have kept a list of devices and toxic fluids that have been used to abort fetuses. This is only a partial list: coat hangers, curtain rods, garden hoses, glass cocktail stirrers, telephone wires, nut picks, knitting needles, chopsticks, bicycle pumps, phonograph needles, Lysol, bleach, glycerine, kerosene, vinegar, and potassium permanganate corrosive tablets. Women have also tried swallowing massive doses of castor oil, quinine, and turpentine. Do we really want to go back to amateur hour in the clinic?

Below is an example of the medieval “Chastity Belt”, another alternative?

chastidy_belt

From China, liquid mercury was ingested to produce an abortion, with certain after effects documented.

birth control_liquid_mercury

Mother-Depositing-Her-Child-at-the-_002

Mother, without resources to feed her child, placing it in a “Depository” in mid-19th century Paris. Though such children were spared untended lives on the street, later they were “rented out” to mines and factories to repay their keep.

Sarah B. Hrdy, professor emerita of anthropology at the University of California, Davis, and the author of “Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species,” wrote that the issues touched on in the abortion debate run deep:

Nature provides myriad examples of species where males attempt to control who females mate with and when. Among primates, male coercion of females has evolved many times and is expressed in many different ways.

Over the course of human history, Hrdy continued,

some of these ancient impulses have become enshrined in patriarchal ideologies. This helps explain why the most extreme efforts to curtail female reproductive autonomy today are primarily funded by groups linked to Catholic, Orthodox Jewish, Islamic and other belief systems with deep patriarchal roots.

If, as Hrdy argues, anti-abortion legislation is part of the male “attempt to control who females mate with and when,” why are roughly equal numbers of men and women opposed to abortion? Her answer:

From Ancient Greece, Ching dynasty China, Victorian England to the American South, the trick has been to convince women that conforming to patriarchal ideals, being chaste, or modest, veiling one’s face, whatever, are in her interests in terms of her security, marriageability, and especially in the interest of her children, particularly sons. When the social status of their families and especially that of their offspring, depends on their “virtue,” women have an obvious stake in complying as well as in advertising their compliance. Supporting the “right” political candidates can be just one more way of doing that.

        Deprived of her “virtue”, unwed mother and child abandoned to their fate, revealed as spring melted the mound of snow–their final resting place in 1840s England.

Lost-Path--The-Makins-Collection-Br_002

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GERM WARFARE IN THE AGE OF TRUMP


Measles

Measles virus, (Rubeola), like its cousin German Measles, (Rubella) can cause pregnancy complications, swelling of the brain, pneumonia. Extremely contagious.

BY MARK LYNAS

AUGUST 24, 2018 (Thanks to Cornell University Alliance for Science)

new study showing that Russian-linked trolls and social media bots have been heavily promoting misinformation on vaccines shows just how far Putin’s government is prepared to go in its worldwide effort to sow mistrust and division.

The study follows rapidly on the heels of earlier reports that Russian-owned media sites had been among the most prominent proponents of anti-GMO stories and memes, again aiming to undermine scientific consensus and public trust in academic institutions.

Both anti-vaccine and anti-GMO groups appeal to prejudices against modern science and conspiracy thinking to spread fear and misinformation. Like the tobacco lobby of old, doubt itself is their product.

Anti-vaccine myths have already led to a resurgence in preventable diseases such as measles, and increased numbers of child deaths in many countries. Many anti-GMO groups and anti-vaxxers are closely linked, such as US Right to Know (USRTK), which is funded by the Organic Consumers Association – whose anti-vaccine campaign in Minnesota has been linked with renewed disease outbreaks there in immigrant communities.

Perhaps the most prominent anti-vaccination advocate in the United State is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who also advocates against GMOs. Indeed, he led the case against glyphosate (widely seen as a proxy for the war on GMOs) which led to the recent judgment against Monsanto in a California court.

The Russian government is clearly determined to spread anti-scientific memes and conspiracy theories in order to help its objective of sowing distrust of “Western” science and democratic systems. But why would Putin support these anti-science campaigns?

Russia’s strategy is utterly cynical as well as being unabashedly authoritarian. Putin knows that people are not inclined to believe his untruths – so his main aim is to undermine the whole concept of truth more broadly.

The rationale goes as follows: “No, you can’t believe me. But you can’t believe anyone – everyone lies!” The idea is to undermine trust throughout democratic societies in order to justify resurgent authoritarianism in Russia and elsewhere.

Unfortunately, this misinformation seems to go with the populist tide of the times. Populist movements of both far left and far right have been supported by Russia, and often tend to spout anti-scientific views.

Italy’s new populist, anti-immigrant government has backed away from mandatory vaccination of children, while Russia itself has made great play of being “GMO-free”and banning genetically modified crops and products throughout the country.

Populists often rage against “elites” and dismiss the idea of expertise in preference for “man on the street” common wisdom. This is fertile ground for anti-science campaigns, because scientific consensus depends on the informed views of experts.

President Trump, Vladimir Putin’s number one fan, has staked his whole approach on using notions of “fake news” and attacks on the freedom of the press in order to justify his own constant lies and distortions.

Trump has also tweeted misinformed notions about vaccines causing autism, and – along with much of the Republican party – denies the reality of human-caused climate change, on the basis of a conspiracy theory that global warming is a “hoax” invented by China.

All these memes depend on the cavalier dismissal of scientific evidence on the basis that it is the view of “intellectual elites” and therefore of no value. This wider cultural and political climate is perhaps why Russia’s efforts to sow further discord and mistrust seem to have been so successful.

So what can the pro-science community do? Speaking up and getting out on the streets is important, as the March for Science has shown. But in my view it is equally important to bear the wider context in mind: the fight against misinformation on vaccines, GMOs and climate change is part of a wider battle for truth and for democracy — battles that we cannot afford to lose.

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PRESIDENT 45’s CHILD SEPARATION POLICY EXPLAINED–BY RUSSIA


The child separation policy now in effect (2018) for those families who, for whatever reason, entered the United States illegally, has an interesting precedent.

Not exactly surprising, since President 45 seems curiously enamored with Putin’s Russia. Vladimir Putin’s path to power started on the bottom rung of the promotion track of the old Soviet KGB, renamed the FSB, but retaining most features of its predecessor as well as its first incarnation, the NKVD under first Lenin, then Stalin/Beria.

The text of official orders of the NKVD regarding children of “class enemy” prisoners, some 18 million of which either died in “concentration camps” known as Gulags, or were released eventually to miserable settlements in Mongolia and Siberia which they were forbidden to leave on penalty of death, are quoted below.

The novel and film: “Dr. Zhivago” was based on experiences of those caught up in the coils of the Soviet system, and featured a young mother losing her child when attracting the attention of the NKVD.

First, they were almost all arrested for the alleged crimes of their husbands or fathers. Communist officials saw women as just another means of punishing men, rather than as individuals with distinct identities. One of the few ways for a woman to avoid arrest alongside her husband was, perversely, to accuse him of treason before anyone else did.

Signed by the head of the NKVD on August 14, 1937, Operational Order of the Secret Police No. 00486, “About the Repression of Wives of Traitors of the Motherland and the Placement of Their Children,” stated:

Women married to husbands at the time of their arrest are to be arrested with the exception of … wives who provide information that leads to their husband’s arrest… The wives of traitors are to be imprisoned… no less than five to eight years. Children… are to be placed in orphanages of the ministry of health in other locations.

That brings us to the second horror unique to women’s persecution. Upon a mother’s arrest, the Soviet system declared her children orphans and sent them as far away as possible. After regaining freedom a woman would often never learn of their fate. In the state-run orphanages, children of traitors and class enemies faced social stigma. They were taught to feel shame and loathing for their parents.

Despite the scrubbed faces of the children pictured, probably assembled for the Soviet version of Catherine (the “Great’s”) “Potemkin Village” presentations of the starved and miserable serfs of Czarist Russia to the Empress and her retinue, mortality as the years went by approached 95% among separated children.

The cause was that apparently no resources were made available to the program, forcing the barely clad, filthy and starving children out to forage for themselves. Abuse by the barely paid staff (where there was any) was horrendous.

The situation of “Anna”, love child of Lara and Dr. Zhivago in the novel and film, in which she was discovered in adulthood as a laundry worker, would have been exceptional.

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How the Nazis Were Inspired by Jim Crow


In 1935, Nazi Germany passed two radically discriminatory pieces of legislation: the Reich Citizenship Law and the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor. Together, these were known as the Nuremberg Laws, and they laid the legal groundwork for the persecution of Jewish people during the Holocaust and World War II.

When the Nazis set out to legally disenfranchise and discriminate against Jewish citizens, they weren’t just coming up with ideas out of thin air. They closely studied the laws of another country. According to James Q. Whitman, author of Hitler’s American Model, that country was the United States.

“America in the early 20th century was the leading racist jurisdiction in the world,” says Whitman, who is a professor at Yale Law School. “Nazi lawyers, as a result, were interested in, looked very closely at, [and] were ultimately influenced by American race law.”

In particular, Nazis admired the Jim Crow-era laws that discriminated against black Americans and segregated them from white Americans, and they debated whether to introduce similar segregation in Germany.

Yet they ultimately decided that it wouldn’t go far enough.

“One of the most striking Nazi views was that Jim Crow was a suitable racist program in the United States because American blacks were already oppressed and poor,” he says. “But then in Germany, by contrast, where the Jews (as the Nazis imagined it) were rich and powerful, it was necessary to take more severe measures.”

Because of this, Nazis were more interested in how the U.S. had designated Native Americans, Filipinos and other groups as non-citizens even though they lived in the U.S. or its territories. These models influenced the citizenship portion of the Nuremberg Laws, which stripped Jewish Germans of their citizenship and classified them as “nationals.”

A copy of the Nazi-issued Nuremberg Laws. (Credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

A copy of the Nazi-issued Nuremberg Laws. (Credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

But a component of the Jim Crow era that Nazis did think they could translate into Germany were anti-miscegenation laws, which prohibited interracial marriages in 30 of 48 states.

“America had, by a wide margin, the harshest law of this kind,” Whitman says. “In particular, some of the state laws threatened severe criminal punishment for interracial marriage. That was something radical Nazis were very eager to do in Germany as well.”

The idea of banning Jewish and Aryan marriages presented the Nazis with a dilemma: How would they tell who was Jewish and who was not? After all, race and ethnic categories are socially constructed, and interracial relationships produce offspring who don’t fall neatly into one box.

Again, the Nazis looked to America.

“Connected with these anti-miscegenation laws was a great deal of American jurisprudence on how to classify who belonged to which race,” he says.

Controversial “one-drop” rules stipulated that anyone with any black ancestry was legally black and could not marry a white person. Laws also defined what made a person Asian or Native American, in order to prevent these groups from marrying whites (notably, Virginia had a “Pocahontas Exception” for prominent white families who claimed to be descended from Pocahontas).

The Nuremberg Laws, too, came up with a system of determining who belonged to what group, allowing the Nazis to criminalize marriage and sex between Jewish and Aryan people. Rather than adopting a “one-drop rule,” the Nazis decreed that a Jewish person was anyone who had three or more Jewish grandparents.

Which means, as Whitman notes, “that American racial classification law was much harsher than anything the Nazis themselves were willing to introduce in Germany.”

It should come as no surprise then, that the Nazis weren’t uniformly condemned in the U.S. before the country entered the war. In the early 1930s, American eugenicists welcomed Nazi ideas about racial purity and republished their propaganda. American aviator Charles Lindbergh, a public admirer of Adolf Hitler’s, received a swastika medal (pictured below) from Nazi leader in 1938.


Once the U.S. entered the war, it took a decidedly anti-Nazi stance. But black American troops noticed the similarities between the two countries, and confronted them head-on with a “Double V Campaign.” It’s goal? Victory abroad against the Axis powers—and victory at home against Jim Crow

 

double v campaign

 

 

 

 

 

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CARTOONIST UNDERSTOOD TYRANTS AND BUFFOONS–Why is the U.S. in 2018 unable to understand tyrants and buffoons in our political system?


It may seem scarcely believable today, but the British foreign secretary then (1939,  before Britain formally entered WWII) personally met the cartoonist and told him to tone it down on Hitler. Low, a staunch socialist with a liberal humanitarian ideal, refused. His reply was: ‘..it’s my duty as a journalist to report matters faithfully and in my own medium I have to speak the truth. And I think this man is awful. ‘

He continued to skewer the Fuehrer. After Hitler’s defeat it came to be known that he had put the cartoonist’s name high on his kill list, should Germany have defeated and occupied Britain, a nearly realized ambition of Hitler.

But what was it about his cartoons that got to Hitler?

This is what Low himself felt:

“No dictator is inconvenienced or even displeased by cartoons showing his terrible person stalking through blood and mud. That is the kind of idea about himself that a power-seeking world-beater would want to propagate. It not only feeds his vanity, but unfortunately it shows profitable returns in an awed world.

What he does not want to get around is the idea that he is an ass, which is really damaging.I shall always remember Hitler.. not as the majestic, monstrous myth of his propaganda build-up, but as the sissy who whined to the British Foreign Office about his dignity when I ran him for a while as a comic strip.”

He portrayed Hitler no as a villain but as a buffoon, and that really hurt the man’s vanity.

'Very Well, Alone': Sir David Low's Evening Standard cartoon from June 1940, after the German invasion of France

‘Very Well, Alone’: Sir David Low’s Evening Standard cartoon from June 1940, after the German invasion of France. Because of the “America First” movement and Hitler/Mussolini enthusiasts in the U.S., it took until December 7, 1941 for our country to enter the war against Hitler. Delay cost millions of lives on every side.

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TANTRUM THEATER in the White House


‘Throwing tantrums for 72 years’: Trump biographer explains how the president bungled his business deals

Researcher and biographer Michael D’Antonio walked through the decades of bungled “deals,” that President Donald Trump had while negotiating in New York. To make matters worse, he thinks this might be the first time Trump has had to go up against a powerful woman.

“There’s a huge difference between the deals that Donald Trump used to be involved with and deals involving national security and federal employees and hundreds of thousands of people,” remarked CNN reporter and sometimes host Dana Bash.

D’Antonio agreed, noting that Trump came up with this “walk away” negotiation tactic, but it hasn’t actually worked in the past.

“I think in his past, the president actually lost a billion dollar deal on the Upper West Side when he made Ed Koch angry at him,” the biographer told Anderson Cooper Wednesday. “And the mayor wasn’t going to go along with this television city project that had real potential. He did this also with the United States Football League where all the other owners wound up being really angry. Because he pushed something beyond what was constructive.”

When it came to Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, D’Antonio thinks Trump is in over his head.

“As I’ve been watching this, I’ve been thinking about the fact that this is a man who has been having tantrums for 72 years,” he continued. “You know, and what Nancy Pelosi is doing is what a good mother does. She doesn’t give in to the kid having a tantrum. Chuck Schumer may not have that impulse because maybe he wasn’t as active a parent as Nancy Pelosi has been. But the last thing you do is give a who’s having a tantrum what he wants. I think this is perplexing the president. I think he’s met his match in Mrs. Pelosi.”

Indeed, Pelosi is the mother to five children and grandmother. Dealing with children isn’t a foreign concept to her.

“It doesn’t matter what people are saying to him,” Dana Bash, CNN’s chief congressional correspondent said. “It’s what he believes and he is firmly confident that this is the right thing to do for him politically. And that’s what a Republican senator who was in the private meeting with him told me today. It’s not that he is necessarily arguing that it’s the right thing to do for national security although he has said that. That he is in a good place politically and that is what is really rankling a lot of people and helping to entrench the Democrats because they see believes this is a political interrogative for him.”

D’Antonio also noted that this is the first time that he can think of where Trump has been forced to go up against a powerful woman and it’s likely difficult for him. He said that people should probably be looking more to Trump’s emotions and personality rather than strategy.

 

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NO ROOM AT THE INN?


        As we enter the 2018 Christmas season, it is worth noting that something like a quarter of a billion persons around the world have nothing which can be described as a “home”, no matter how humble. 

     Queen Victoria, when advised that a large part of the urban population of India, then a part of the British Empire, was homeless, responded by ordering colonial authorities to provide a blanket to each person so identified. Britain’s industrial cities, along with London, also had thousands of homeless persons overwhelming the charities tasked with serving them. They didn’t get blankets supplied by royal edict, despite Britain’s brutal weather, press reports on their plight and conspicuous presence, walking distance from Buckingham Palace. 

     John Quincy Adams, President from 1824-1828, was ambassador to Britain from 1815-1817. He was mortified by the extremes of opulence and want he encountered there. He recorded in his diaries the sight of starving beggars who appeared by night at the doors of country estates, who had to be carted away, dead or alive, by the groundskeepers in the morning.

homeless in Victorian London

   The Bible story which forms the foundation of the Christmas observance is based on the plight of humble travelers seeking refuge. One innkeeper, taking pity on them, offered them his establishment’s stable for the night with the explanation that there was “no room at the inn”.

    It’s hard to imagine that persons can celebrate Christmas while ignoring the key element in the foundation story. Besides our own resident homeless population, another group whose plight is hard to ignore presses itself against our southern border. Not even a stable to shelter them.                                                   

  It’s not surprising that migrants piling up at our borders are, because of the actions of Trump, finding themselves unwelcome in Mexican border cities ill-equipped to host them.

    The Trump and Kushner real estate empires were created by clever strategies to force low-income tenants and homeowners out in order to free up space for luxury developments. Similar tactics, for the same reason,  are used by Russian Oligarchs to force tenants from basic, but cheap, Soviet era housing, spiced up in Russia with occasional “unsolved” murders of stubborn occupants.Trump as Uncle Sam

                                     Above, an example of Trump’s portrait on his “wall”.     

It is clear to our southern neighbors that a “wall” high enough to display Trump’s portrait to viewers miles away on both sides is the eventual goal of our President, forever sealing contact with families already in the U.S.  It’s no wonder then that many in Central America rushed to try to plead their cases at our borders before the “wall” in its various iterations, was in place.

    Having been a part of the international back-packing mob of young people testing their limits in the 1950s and 60s around the world, there were plenty of times when “you can’t stay here” cropped up in the various languages encountered along the way. Countering that were vastly more greeting us, especially when we pitched in to harvest and fill needs unfilled due to the deaths of millions just a few years before in WWII, in exchange for a dry place to sleep and a seat at a humble table.

       Those gleefully, in pursuit of profit, evicting, excluding and consigning to lifetime misery the poor among us and beyond our borders will no doubt enjoy their holiday bounty in the coming season. I pity them, don’t you?

 

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ASYLUM CLAIMS REJECTED


nazi-deportationWhat actually happened to Otto Richter and his wife? They were reported to have been seen in Cuba several years later. Good thing too, since Belgium later fell to Nazi Germany, its Jewish inhabitants paying the price. 

According to the stock photograph repository Alamy, the picture was taken on 12 June 1936 and credited to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and featured a man named Otto Richter and his wife protesting at Ellis Island. A 24 December 1937 report in Seattle’s The Jewish Transcript provides a full accounting of Richter’s remarkable story, which ended with his deportation to Belgium (as opposed to Nazi Germany) after significant pressure from U.S. based-advocacy groups:

In November, 1933, a young German seaman jumped ship In the harbor of Seattle. He was in the truest sense of the word a political refugee, seeking the right of asylum from a regime of tyranny and dictatorship. This young man’s name was Otto Richter; born in Bremen, Germany, he was a worker and an active anti-Nazi. On the night of the burning of the Reichstag, storm troopers apprehended him and, though he had not the slightest connection with that event, beat and tortured him. The next four and a half months he spent hiding from Hitler’s secret police. [He] managed to enlist as a seaman and sail on German boat which was to call at ports in the United States. During the voyage his identity became known and officers of the ship, after abusing him, threatened to turn him over to the police on their return to Nazi Germany. These were the circumstances underlying Richter’s attempted escape from Nazi tyranny to American freedom.

What has happened since? In July, 1934, during the San Francisco general strike, a vigilante raid was made on the Workers Center, and there Otto Richter was found engaged in what the Department of Labor evidently regarded as the heinous offense of helping to feed striking marine workers. He was seized and ordered deported to Nazi Germany on the technical charge that he had remained in the United States illegally. Since that time a long legal battle has been fought by the American Committee for Protection of Foreign Born to save him from deportation. And only the tremendous counterpressure of mass sentiment has secured for Otto Richter the dubious privilege of being deported to a country of his choice -— Belgium -— instead of to Hitler’s sadistocracy.

 
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