Picks of the Week: Our favorite stories from the Daily Kos Community

Last weekend, we introduced a new weekly “Staff Picks” series, where your fearless Daily Kos staffers chose their favorite diary written during the week. Folks around here seemed to like it well enough, but commenters durrati and Krotor made the very, very smart suggestion that we should expand the series to feature Community writers, too!

(actual footage from Thursday’s Daily Kos staff meeting)

Ask and you shall receive, dear readers. 

In no particular order, we lovingly present some of the Community diaries that really stuck with us this week. We know we’ve got some of the best writers on the web in the Daily Kos Community, and it’s a joy to show off some of them here.

Grab a snack and check them out … and be sure to come back next week for more.

Georgia Republican tries to move the goalposts when it comes to whether Trump said the n-word

“This is not where I expected this conversation to go, Senator,” said a shocked Victor Blackwell after Georgia state senator Michael E. Williams offered a rambling defense of Donald Trump’s rumored use of a racial slur. Williams, whose failed gubernatorial campaign made headlines this spring thanks to his appalling “Deportation Bus,” has long boasted of being the first elected official in Georgia to back Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. As such, it’s not particularly surprising to see the malignant millionaire bend over backwards to find a way to make blatant racism acceptable.

The mental gymnastics required to preemptively forgive Trump’s rumored hate speech are, indeed, baffling, but are consistent with today’s Republican branding. GOP politicians and pundits have been actively working to lower the standards of acceptable behavior for the entirety of Trump’s stolen presidency, it seems—especially when it comes to the Russia investigation.

The hypocrisy Williams displays, however, is still startling; Blackwell is

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It’s no coincidence that ICE agents are ramping up cruelty as Trump prepares their medals

On Wednesday afternoon, Joel Arrona was driving his wife Maria to a hospital in San Bernadino, CA for a scheduled Cesarean section. The two parents-to-be were nervous, but they were also out of gas, so Joel pulled over at convenience store to fuel up. As CBS Los Angeles reports, they were followed into the parking lot by a pair of SUVs. Men got out of SUVs and identified themselves as ICE agents. A few minutes later, ICE took Joel away.

They left the pregnant Maria standing in a parking lot, crying, hours away from delivery, and alone.

Under questioning by the media, ICE produced a statement, that Joel Arrona was “was taken into custody Wednesday by ICE Fugitive Operations Team officers.” According to ICE, these operations are “on individuals who pose a threat to national security, public safety and border security.” However, they provided no evidence that Arrona was

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If you want to know exactly what racial profiling looks like, just watch this video

This is painful and difficult to watch. Yet I’m going to ask you do just that.

A local activist group, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI), obtained and published police recordings showing a textbook example of racial bias by Des Moines Senior Police Officer Kyle Thies. 

Thies apparently pulled over the young man, Montray Little, for…well, driving while black.

Little is berated, taken into custody, and then constantly pushed by Officer Thies to confess something that he didn’t do. Meanwhile, Thies implies that the young man was on drugs and stole the car he was driving. He is also convinced that his passenger was hiding a gun.

None of it was true.

“Your buddy’s giving me the idea that maybe he’s got a gun, you know what I mean,” the officer says. “That’s what I think.”

“How?” the passenger asks.

“Just the way you’re holding yourself, man. That’s why we’re nervous, man.”

Even though Little

Continue reading “If you want to know exactly what racial profiling looks like, just watch this video”

Florida man resists airport arrest; complains cops treated him ‘like a f**king black person’

Dr. Jeffrey Epstein made quite the scene at Orlando International Airport on Thursday, though he insists it was all “on purpose.” The 59-year-old doctor reportedly showed up at the ticket counter less than 30 minutes before his flight to Philadelphia, and agents informed him that he wouldn’t be able to make his scheduled departure.

That’s when things took a dark turn, an American Airlines spokesperson tells Inc.’s Chris Matyszczyk.

“He showed up at the ticket counter to check-in for his flight at 6 a.m. for a 6.24 a.m. flight. Our team was going to rebook him for the next available flight to Philadelphia, but that is when he became irate at our team, along with other passengers and children in the area who witnessed this event.”

Epstein’s behavior escalated to the point that a bystander started filming the scene, as folks do these days.

Continue reading “Florida man resists airport arrest; complains cops treated him ‘like a f**king black person’”

Cartoon: Trump’s hate tape stash

Anyone still waiting for evidence that Trump is racist is either lying or has been trapped in a sensory deprivation tank for at least 30 years.

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Not just the ‘Queen of Soul’: Aretha Franklin leaves behind a rich legacy of civil rights activism

It is quite an understatement to say that Aretha Franklin was just a singer. With a career that spanned almost six decades, her musical legacy is positively unmatched. In 1987, she became the first woman ever to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It was well-deserved. Over the course of her years in the music industry, Franklin was nominated for 44 Grammy awards and received 18, sold 75 million records worldwide, and until 2017, she remained the record holder for the most songs on the Billboard 100—a title she held for an incredible 40 years. Her death on Thursday, at age 76, marks an incredible loss to music fans around the world.

Yet, Franklin’s musical accomplishments were only part of the indelible mark she made on society. She was also a longtime civil rights supporter who was deeply involved with many notable activists and organizers in the fight for black equality—one

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Fox News posts ‘memoriam’ image for Aretha Franklin … showing Patti LaBelle singing

Legendary singer, musician, and performer Aretha Franklin died today. The world mourns and everyone is a little shaken. It seems though, that the design staff over at Fox News is the most shaken by this news. The Huffington Post’s Philip Lewis tweeted out a screenshot of Fox News’s announcement of Aretha’s passing, with the memorial image they solemnly flashed.

x

Yes. The woman singing in the background is famed singer Patti LaBelle. Listen, this would be deemed an “honest mistake” if there was anything “honest” about Fox News or if they weren’t one of the most bigoted organizations in the world.

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Someone quickly put up the clip.

The limits of shame and outrage

Last Friday, NPR’s Noel King gave “Unite the Right” rally organizer Jason Kessler a platform to spread white supremacy, leading to Kessler ranking races on the basis of intelligence. NPR then implied a comparison to Black Lives Matter protesters by juxtaposing an interview with the group after Kessler’s segment, and asking a representative of the group to respond to the racist assertions therein, arguably framing the sides as extremists of the same coin. This led to widespread criticism of NPR’s handling of the situation, and decision to allow a white supremacist airtime, in which Heather Heyer, who was killed one year ago, was never mentioned during the entire debacle. The interview of Kessler offered no new information or insight. It just regurgitated the usual talking points of ignorant assholes since there have been racist, ignorant assholes.

The incident brings forth the notion which posits some behaviors, viewpoints, and histories aren’t deserving of an audience. And to

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Led by Ben Carson, Trump’s administration eliminates Obama-era rules to reduce housing segregation

Remember when millions of us knew that it would be a bad idea to appoint a very awkward neurosurgeon with no government experience as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)? Remember how Donald Trump went ahead and did it anyway? Well, we were right. Ben Carson might be a brilliant doctor, but he’s a terrible housing secretary. Under normal circumstances, it might be fun to say, “We told you so.” But Carson poses a grave threat to the safety of Americans living in public housing, and is a barrier to affordable housing access for people of color.

Recently, he abandoned families living in public housing in East St. Louis, Illinois, by returning control to the local housing authority which had been under HUD control since 1985. He did this despite HUD inspectors having issued failing grades to nine out of 12 of East St. Louis’s public housing projects. And then last week, he sunk even further when he announced that

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The ‘diversity visa’ program Trump is attacking also produced a Muslim immigrant hero

After near-silence on a domestic terror attack in Charlottesville that killed one and a mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed dozens and injured hundreds, Donald Trump finally found an incident of terrorism he was willing to get shouty and red-faced about. He made no call for the perpetrator of the Charlottesville attack to be summarily put to death, as he has for the New York attacker. He offered up not a single damn bit of legal change that would prevent future mass murderers from, next time, killing even more Americans, but he insisted that the New York attacker could be pinned on a specific immigration program.

This is because Donald Trump is a blustering xenophobe and racist, a half-senile old man who reliably only offers up outrage when the perpetrator of a violent attack is an immigrant, non-white, Muslim, or any combination of the three.

So here’s a story

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NAACP issues travel warning for black passengers flying on American Airlines

On Tuesday, NPR released the results from a survey it did of Americans and their experiences with discrimination. Though all racial groups said that they experience some form of discrimination (including whites, which is worth its own post), black Americans reported experiencing broad forms of discrimination—including interactions with police, trying to vote, and in renting/buying housing. While that in itself is not surprising, it is interesting to note that black people overwhelmingly believe that the racism they experience is because of the attitudes and beliefs of individuals they come into contact with and not necessarily attributed to systems and structures. 

That belief directly contradicts a new travel advisory issued by the NAACP this week, which cautions black people from traveling on American Airlines

“The NAACP for several months now has been monitoring a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airlines,” the press release

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Under Ben Carson’s leadership, the entire Department of Housing and Urban Development gets sued

It hasn’t been hard to figure out that Donald Trump’s sole approach to governing has been to undermine and undo any progress toward equality for women, immigrants, people of color, poor people, members of the LGBT community, and any other marginalized groups—basically anyone who isn’t a rich, straight, white male. He has appointed a series of dangerous and wholly unqualified people to serve in his administration and it seems as if each pick is wilder and more bizarre than the one that preceded it.

Choosing Ben Carson to head up the Department of Housing and Urban Development is one such example of the head-scratching and ridiculous decisions that have become the hallmark of Trump’s presidency. Carson has zero experience with housing, other than having lived in it, and yet is in charge of administering programs that provide housing and community assistance to Americans. Apparently, incompetent Ben isn’t good at his job—something that should surprise no one.

Continue reading “Under Ben Carson’s leadership, the entire Department of Housing and Urban Development gets sued”

Introspection gives us the empathy to give those who oppose us a second chance—even the racists

Like most men, I grew up being sexist and homophobic. It did not help that it was part of the culture of the Latin American country I am from. My path away from homophobia deserves a whole article of its own. But most importantly, my path to becoming a feminist (and gay rights activist) makes me a much more empathetic person toward racists and others I am diametrically and morally opposed to. This may sound strange, but hear me out.

I became a feminist soon after I entered the University of Texas at Austin. It was an intellectual realization that women as a class, like many other groups (blacks, Asians, gays, etc.), were discriminated against. I understood that the systemic nature of said discrimination resulted in the economic and power disparity between men and women.

Recently, I read a post from my Facebook friend Jim Rigby that really spoke to me.

Listen guys,

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Want to increase black turnout? Make the fight for voting rights a core campaign issue

If Democrats want to win elections—which is how we’ll be able to make positive changes and make America a more just place—we need to connect the dots. Two articles came out this week about black voters. One looked back to voter suppression in 2016, while the other was about black turnout in upcoming elections this fall. In order to achieve those electoral victories, we need to link these two subjects.

Mother Jones has a terrific piece of journalism by Ari Berman, who has been focused for some time on voter suppression, and who wrote a book on the struggle for voting rights since the passage of the Voting Rights Act. His article highlights the experience of Andrea Anthony, an African-American woman who should have been able to cast her vote last fall in Milwaukee, but was stymied by that state’s draconian voter ID laws, which were passed by Republicans with the

Continue reading “Want to increase black turnout? Make the fight for voting rights a core campaign issue”

Want to increase black turnout? Make the fight for voting rights a core campaign issue

If Democrats want to win elections—which is how we’ll be able to make positive changes and make America a more just place—we need to connect the dots. Two articles came out this week about black voters. One looked back to voter suppression in 2016, while the other was about black turnout in upcoming elections this fall. In order to achieve those electoral victories, we need to link these two subjects.

Mother Jones has a terrific piece of journalism by Ari Berman, who has been focused for some time on voter suppression, and who wrote a book on the struggle for voting rights since the passage of the Voting Rights Act. His article highlights the experience of Andrea Anthony, an African-American woman who should have been able to cast her vote last fall in Milwaukee, but was stymied by that state’s draconian voter ID laws, which were passed by Republicans with the

Continue reading “Want to increase black turnout? Make the fight for voting rights a core campaign issue”

We now know that America is truly a racist nation

We now know that America is truly a racist nation.

The question is: What can we do about it?

It really can’t be denied anymore that America is rife with racism, even though there are a great many people deeply invested in the argument that all of America’s racism is in the past. When Barack Obama became president, many said that we had reached a “post-racial” age where the sins and recriminations of the past were now behind us, where now that one African-American man had managed to ascend to the most powerful position in the world, there were no longer any excuses or significant barriers to personal prosperity for all. Other than one’s own weakness of will and poor choices, there was no reason to complain, no reason to strive to improve ourselves as a nation, and no changes that need to be made.

Everything was fine—or so we were told.

Yet less than one year

Continue reading “We now know that America is truly a racist nation”

White House’s top white nationalist could become Trump’s new communications director

Last week Trump’s White House sent senior “policy” adviser Stephen Miller before the nation’s cameras to give a press briefing on the White House’s newest immigration “policy” theories. His answers were peppered with dog whistles and talking points promoted by white supremacists. It was a bizarre performance by the dead-eyed policy adviser of no particular qualifications, but his hostile demeanor and insult-laden responses appear to be exactly what Trump wants to see in front of the cameras.

And so all grow’d up Children of the Corn extra Stephen Miller finds himself on the list of potential Scaramucci successors, as Trump and team ponder whether to make him—and this is apparently a legitimate story and not an Onionesque satire—the new White House communications director.

Steve Bannon likes the idea of Miller for the job, and Miller was the hero of the West Wing after he attacked Acosta as a “cosmopolitan” for

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Attempting to tear the heart out of the American dream

From the podium of the White House press room, senior adviser Stephen Miller stridently stood before America and the world this week and essentially declared that as far as Donald Trump is concerned, the American dream is over.  

The idea that this nation is a refuge for those seeking freedom, that we are open and welcoming to those who hope to improve not just their own station in life but the station of their children, and their children’s children? That is simply not something that our president is interested.

Under Trump’s proposed stricter immigration rules requiring proficiency in English and “high skills,” Trump’s own grandfather Friedrich Trump, who immigrated at age 16 and originally worked as a barber (a trade he had apprenticed in because he was considered too sickly to join his brothers and sisters in the grape fields), would not have been allowed into America from his native Germany.

This argument between Miller and CNN’s Jim Acosta is fairly jarring,

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White Trump voters believe whites are the most discriminated against, despite facts to the contrary

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If this past presidential election has done nothing else, it has served as an important reminder that America is a country deeply divided across racial lines. One of the ways that this racial tension and animosity manifests itself is through the conflict around resources—who has them, who doesn’t and overall access to them. In an increasingly diverse and multicultural America, which at the same time is undergoing enormous economic shifts, some whites believe that they are being left behind. This is the platform that Donald Trump ran on. The “Make America Great Again” slogan fed into his voters beliefs that white people are increasingly the victims of bias and discrimination and that the country should be returned to a time when whites had it “better.” This is his justification for racist policies like the Justice Department’s investigation into colleges and universities that allegedly discriminate against white students. Except, well, facts.

While this is a

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