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The Reckoning of Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center


News Desk
The Reckoning of Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center
By Bob Moser
March 21, 2019
The firing of Morris Dees, the co-founder of the S.P.L.C., has flushed up uncomfortable questions that have surrounded the organization for years.

In the days since the stunning dismissal of Morris Dees, the co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, on March 14th, I’ve been thinking about the jokes my S.P.L.C. colleagues and I used to tell to keep ourselves sane. Walking to lunch past the center’s Maya Lin–designed memorial to civil-rights martyrs, we’d cast a glance at the inscription from Martin Luther King, Jr., etched into the black marble—“Until justice rolls down like waters”—and intone, in our deepest voices, “Until justice rolls down like dollars.” The Law Center had a way of turning idealists into cynics; like most liberals, our view of the S.P.L.C. before we arrived had been shaped by its oft-cited listings of U.S. hate groups, its reputation for winning cases against the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nations, and its stream of direct-mail pleas for money to keep the good work going. The mailers, in particular, painted a vivid picture of a scrappy band of intrepid attorneys and hate-group monitors, working under constant threat of death to fight hatred and injustice in the deepest heart of Dixie. When the S.P.L.C. hired me as a writer, in 2001, I figured I knew what to expect: long hours working with humble resources and a highly diverse bunch of super-dedicated colleagues. I felt self-righteous about the work before I’d even begun it.

The first surprise was the office itself. On a hill in downtown Montgomery, down the street from both Jefferson Davis’s Confederate White House and the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where M.L.K. preached and organized, the center had recently built a massive modernist glass-and-steel structure that the social critic James Howard Kunstler would later liken to a “Darth Vader building” that made social justice “look despotic.” It was a cold place inside, too. The entrance was through an underground bunker, past multiple layers of human and electronic security. Cameras were everywhere in the open-plan office, which made me feel like a Pentagon staffer, both secure and insecure at once. But nothing was more uncomfortable than the racial dynamic that quickly became apparent: a fair number of what was then about a hundred employees were African-American, but almost all of them were administrative and support staff—“the help,” one of my black colleagues said pointedly. The “professional staff”—the lawyers, researchers, educators, public-relations officers, and fund-raisers—were almost exclusively white. Just two staffers, including me, were openly gay.

During my first few weeks, a friendly new co-worker couldn’t help laughing at my bewilderment. “Well, honey, welcome to the Poverty Palace,” she said. “I can guaran-damn-tee that you will never step foot in a more contradictory place as long as you live.”

“Everything feels so out of whack,” I said. “Where are the lawyers? Where’s the diversity? What in God’s name is going on here?”

“And you call yourself a journalist!” she said, laughing again. “Clearly you didn’t do your research.”

In the decade or so before I’d arrived, the center’s reputation as a beacon of justice had taken some hits from reporters who’d peered behind the façade. In 1995, the Montgomery Advertiser had been a Pulitzer finalist for a series that documented, among other things, staffers’ allegations of racial discrimination within the organization. In Harper’s, Ken Silverstein had revealed that the center had accumulated an endowment topping a hundred and twenty million dollars while paying lavish salaries to its highest-ranking staffers and spending far less than most nonprofit groups on the work that it claimed to do. The great Southern journalist John Egerton, writing for The Progressive, had painted a damning portrait of Dees, the center’s longtime mastermind, as a “super-salesman and master fundraiser” who viewed civil-rights work mainly as a marketing tool for bilking gullible Northern liberals. “We just run our business like a business,” Dees told Egerton. “Whether you’re selling cakes or causes, it’s all the same.”

Co-workers stealthily passed along these articles to me—it was a rite of passage for new staffers, a cautionary heads-up about what we’d stepped into with our noble intentions. Incoming female staffers were additionally warned by their new colleagues about Dees’s reputation for hitting on young women. And the unchecked power of the lavishly compensated white men at the top of the organization—Dees and the center’s president, Richard Cohen—made staffers pessimistic that any of these issues would ever be addressed. “I expected there’d be a lot of creative bickering, a sort of democratic free-for-all,” my friend Brian, a journalist who came aboard a year after me, said one day. “But everybody is so deferential to Morris and Richard. It’s like a fucking monarchy around here.” The work could be meaningful and gratifying. But it was hard, for many of us, not to feel like we’d become pawns in what was, in many respects, a highly profitable scam.


Posted by babylonsister | Fri Mar 22, 2019, 08:19 AM (4 replies)

GOP gerrymandering helped Republicans hold 16 House seats in 2018 midterms

GOP gerrymandering helped Republicans hold 16 House seats in 2018 midterms
Democrats would have picked up 16 additional seats in 2018 if not for Republican gerrymandering, according to study
Matthew Rozsa
March 21, 2019 7:01PM (UTC)

A new study reveals that, although Democrats were able to regain control of the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years during the 2018 midterm elections, their gains were offset by the effects of Republican gerrymandering over the past decade.

Democrats would have picked up roughly 16 additional seats from their actual total in 2018 if it had not been for partisan gerrymandering around the country, according to a new study by the Associated Press. The analysis also found that in state legislative elections, Republican redistricting may have helped them hold on to at least seven chambers that otherwise would have gone to the Democrats.

"The AP examined all U.S. House races and about 4,900 state House and Assembly seats up for election last year using a statistical method of calculating partisan advantage that is designed to flag cases of potential political gerrymandering," the Associated Press reported. "A similar analysis also showed a GOP advantage in the 2016 elections."

The report added, "The AP used the so-called “efficiency gap” test in part because it was one of the analytical tools cited in a Wisconsin gerrymandering case that went before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017 and is part of a North Carolina case scheduled to be argued on Tuesday before the court. In that case, justices will decide whether to uphold a lower court ruling that struck down North Carolina’s congressional districts as an unconstitutional political gerrymander favoring Republicans."


Posted by babylonsister | Fri Mar 22, 2019, 07:52 AM (2 replies)

The Rude Pundit: Other Batshit Things Trump Said at His Latest Batshit Speech...

The Rude Pundit

Proudly lowering the level of political discourse
Other Batshit Things Trump Said at His Latest Batshit Speech Besides Shitting All Over John McCain


-- Apparently, the only thing that tanks conjure for Trump is the 30 year-old image of then-Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis riding around in one. Trump's brain is stuck in the 1980s, where almost all of his references begin and end. He punned, "[H]e tanked when he got into the tank. He tanked — I never saw anybody tank like that." If you're punching yourself in the face for reading that, well, get ready for his insult of Dukakis's height: "The helmet was bigger than he was. That was not good." I'm gonna bet that a good many of the young workers there had no idea what the fuck this old man was talking about, but that never stops Trump from a good insult.

-- The parade of easily demonstrable lies was unusually brazen, like when he said, "Four straight years, the number of U.S. tanks that were budgeted for upgrades was zero." This is totally true if by "zero," Trump means, "Nearly two billion dollars." He does this shit just to degrade Barack Obama. In fact, he mockingly added, "That was under your great President Obama." Look at the utter, petty, ludicrous contempt with which he holds Obama. It's like the former president got an extra scoop of ice cream or fucked Ivanka. Later, he talked about how the United States is doing better economically than the rest of the world and added, for no goddamn reason at all, "That wouldn’t happen under Barack Obama, that I can tell you. It wouldn’t happen under Crooked Hillary Clinton." He is constantly fighting these fantasy foes.

-- There were times where he just wandered off into the black hole of his ego, turning something that was about others into another airing of grievances. Talking about how much the workers there should love their jobs, Trump mewled, "I do, even though I have the fake news hounding me all the time. The fake and phony and corrupt. It’s fake. It’s corrupt. But we got to live with it, right? Got to live with it." He just disappears up his own ass over and over again. And, to be fair, it would be easy to get lost in that ass.

-- Shecky Trump appeared again and again. He did his little shuck and jive about wind power, where he imagines there's no electricity if there's no wind one day. And then, I shit you not, Trump made the following joke about watching a particular TV show: "I think it was called 'Deface the Nation.' And — ladies and gentlemen, 'Deface the Nation.'" I don't know what was most soul-crushing: that he made the joke, that he thought it was a good joke, or that people actually laughed.

-- Of course, the McCain stuff was the most reported because so much of the rest of it is just typical batshit Trump, which we've pathetically gotten used to, even though it should never stop disturbing us to our cores. Trump asked for credit for McCain's funeral, which is just so fucking weird and shows how small, so very small, a man Trump is. But he wants credit for everything, like the Veteran's Choice Act, which was passed in 2014, or the factory itself: "Well, you better love me," he told the cheering workers when he entered. "I kept this place open, that I can tell you." (It wasn't going to close.)


Posted by babylonsister | Fri Mar 22, 2019, 07:12 AM (8 replies)

Gillum wants to register 1 million Florida voters for 2020


Gillum wants to register 1 million Florida voters for 2020
Posted: Wed 8:44 PM, Mar 20, 2019 |
Updated: Thu 7:31 AM, Mar 21, 2019
By: Associated Press
March 20, 2019

MIAMI, Fla. (AP) -- Former Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum says he wants to register at least 1 million voters in an effort to make the state swing blue in the 2020 presidential race.

Gillum announced the goal Wednesday evening at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens.

Gillum says Democrats must now begin to actively engage voters ahead of the 2020 Presidential Primary.

Earlier Wednesday, the Florida Democratic Party announced a plan to spend $2 million with a goal of signing up 200,000 Floridians to vote. In 2017, the party says it registered only about 80,000 new voters.

Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo says the party needs to set its candidate up for success.

Democrats say Florida has more than 4 million people who are eligible but unregistered.
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Mar 22, 2019, 06:58 AM (0 replies)

OxyContin Maker Sackler Family Sued by 500 Cities, Shunned by Tate Galleries


OxyContin Maker Sackler Family Sued by 500 Cities, Shunned by Tate Galleries
REUTERS/George Frey

Members of the Sackler family, who owns opioid OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma, are now being sued by a conglomerate of more than 500 cities, counties and Native American tribes, The Guardian reports. The plaintiffs include people in 26 U.S. states who blame Purdue for creating “the worst drug crisis in American history.” The lawsuit, which was filed in the Southern District of New York, says the Sackler family broke laws to “enrich themselves to the tune of billions of dollars, while hundreds of thousands of Americans died.” The Tate Gallery in London on Thursday also announced it would no longer be taking donations from the billionaire family, the BBC reports, days after Britain’s National Portrait Gallery also severed ties. “In the present circumstances, we do not think it right to seek or accept further donations from the Sacklers,” the Tate said in a statement.
Posted by babylonsister | Fri Mar 22, 2019, 06:00 AM (35 replies)

Pompeo says it's 'possible' God planned Trump to save Jewish people

What the fuckity fuck?


Pompeo says it's 'possible' God planned Trump to save Jewish people
By Chris Mills Rodrigo - 03/21/19 08:36 PM EDT

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that it is "possible" that President Trump is meant to save the Jewish people.

He made the comments during an interview in Jerusalem with the Christian Broadcasting Network.

"As a Christian I certainly believe that's possible," Pompeo responded when asked whether Trump is a new Esther, who in the Bible convinced the king of Persia not to slaughter the Jewish people.


On Thursday, Trump said that the U.S. should recognize Israel's disputed control of the Golan Heights, which was captured from Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed by Israel in 1981. Israeli politicians had long called for the U.S. to recognize those claims.
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Mar 21, 2019, 08:35 PM (3 replies)

Rick Wilson: Profiles in Chickenshit from the Grand Old Party ...

Profiles in Chickenshit from the Grand Old Party as Trump Spits on John McCain's American Greatness
It’s time for McCain's old senate colleagues to tell the president to shut the fuck up and stop smearing a real hero, or give up whatever dignity and decency they have left.
Rick Wilson
03.21.19 8:27 PM ET

Damn near every elected member of the Republican Party failed another easy test this week as Donald Trump lost his grip on reality and spent days attacking the late Senator John McCain. They tripped over their own dicks in the face of Trump’s egregious bullying, racing for political cover and sacrificing their few remaining shreds of dignity because they fear this mad president more than they love their own honor.

Starting this weekend, Trump has tweeted six days worth of escalating insults on Twitter and in person at a rival who died seven months ago. Like I said, it’s an easy test: as elected leaders, as Republicans, as conservatives, as Americans, this was a moment to honor McCain and to call out the President by name for failing to do so.

Party loyalty isn’t a suicide pact… or is it?

Just two members of the Senate RINO caucus spoke with clarity and direction. Mitt Romney, hated by the Trump faction for, well, everything, said what was needed.

Johnny Isakson of Georgia, himself a Vietnam-era veteran, took the strongest and most courageous stand, telling the Washington Post:

“America deserves better, the people deserve better, and nobody — regardless of their position — is above common decency and respect for people that risk their life for your life. When the president is saying that he doesn’t respect John McCain and he’s never going to respect John McCain and all these kids are out there listening to the president of the United States talk that way about the most decorated senator in history who is dead it just sets the worst tone possible.”

The rest of the Republican Senate caucus, men and women who served with John McCain, in some cases for decades, did nothing better than vague mumblings.


Posted by babylonsister | Thu Mar 21, 2019, 08:11 PM (12 replies)

Trump and Kellyanne Prove George Conway Right


Trump and Kellyanne Prove George Conway Right
This isn’t a bid for a reality show. This is reality, where this president attacks his adviser’s husband and she stands with the president.
Margaret Carlson
03.21.19 4:03 AM ET

“You. Are. Nuts.”

With three little words, George Conway, or Mr. Kellyanne Conway as Trump refers to the man a pillow away from his longest-serving aide, dropped his devastating legal and clinical evaluation of the president for an informal one we can all grasp.


Part of Trump’s petty obsessions come from being ever more isolated, without a support system, serving as his own chief of staff and press secretary, clocking hours of executive time as he watches TV alone, calling up friends, but not listening to them. Read his tweets from the government shutdown and see a lonely man who doesn’t see the enormous good luck he’s had but all the ways he’s been slighted and unappreciated. He used to say everything twice to convince people of his rightness, now it’s more like three and four times these days as it was at Wednesday’s driveway press conference. He was still stewing when he arrived in Lima and took yet another swipe at McCain. He recounted how it was up to him to give the green light for the state funeral McCain wanted but that he was never adequately thanked for it.

There’s not enough gratitude in the world to fill Trump’s gaping hole of need. Nixon, the last president to be under siege, talked to portraits in the White House as Watergate closed in on him but at least confided his fears in Henry Kissinger, whom he asked to pray with him. Maybe that’s why Trump made a rare trip to church last Sunday.

If only Trump could pray the rage away. For his part, Conway explained to The Washington Post that he defuses his own rage over “the mendacity, the incompetence” with a morning tweet “so I can get it off my chest and move on with my life that day. That’s basically it. Frankly, it’s so I don’t end up screaming at her about it.”

Sad. Conway added that it’s time for “the media, Congress, the Vice President and Cabinet, and all Americans, to think “seriously *now* about the president’s mental condition and psychological state. "

Those of us screaming should tweet more, yell less, and heed Conway’s advice. Thanks to Trump’s hating on Conway, we can hear him now.
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Mar 21, 2019, 04:34 PM (2 replies)

Rachel Maddow Shows How Trump Is Setting Himself Up For His Biggest Crash and Burn Yet


Posted on Wed, Mar 20th, 2019 by Jason Easley
Rachel Maddow Shows How Trump Is Setting Himself Up For His Biggest Crash and Burn Yet

Rachel Maddow showed why Trump is setting himself up for failure by refusing to comply and turn over anything to Democratic investigators.

Maddow said:

In 1973 president Nixon tried to make history when he decided he tried not to hand over the congress anything that he did not want them to see that pertained to Watergate, specifically the white house tapes that they had learned of the existence of. That forced a subpoena on the white house for those tapes. Nixon defied the subpoena. That ended up in court. The special prosecutor’s demand for those materials, those tapes ended up going all the way to the U.S. Supreme court. And this is really famous. I mean, let’s say you only know three things about Richard what are the three things you know? You know like Nixon had to resign the presidency, had a dog named Checkers, Supreme Court made him hand over the tapes, right? Even if you only know three things about Richard Nixon, even if you know nothing else about Richard Nixon, you know that unanimously in U.S. v. Nixon, the president was not allowed to say no, no, you can’t visit. I say you can’t.

But that no, no, you can’t have it policy today was rolled out by the trump administration. They plan to give no documents, no materials to make no witnesses available. And, again, we’ll see how that works out. Honestly, in the courts, we know how it will work out. This has been tested before. This has been tried before. It doesn’t work out well for a president who tries this. But in the meantime, while we are starting down the path to get there, in the meantime, if that is where this is heading, the speed at which this is all going to unfold and how everybody looks in the history books when it’s all over will depend in large part on whether Republicans in Congress, members of the president’s only party in Congress can summon the energy to care about a president who is trying to not only do this to Democrats but trying to do this to them as well.


Trump’s Just Say No Strategy Will Blow Up In His Face

There is zero long-term planning in this administration. The Trump administration is fighting the document requests because Trump is stalling for time. Trump is trying to use his presidential power to obstruct investigations with delay tactics until after the 2020 election. Trump is hoping that he wins reelection, Republicans win back the House, and all of these investigations go away in January 2021.

Presidents who have their backs against the wall and are fighting for the survival of their administration think about survival in terms of days and weeks, not years. Trump is hoping that if he stalls long enough, the House Democrats will go away, but we already know how this chapter of the story ends.

Trump is going to get subpoenaed and he is going to lose.

What should have been normal government oversight will be turned into a spotlight-stealing showdown, as the nation will watch Trump spectacularly crash and burn.
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Mar 21, 2019, 07:01 AM (17 replies)

Health industry lobbyists are posing as "ordinary citizens who don't want Medicare for All"

/ Cory Doctorow / 7:38 am Wed Mar 20, 2019
Health industry lobbyists are posing as "ordinary citizens who don't want Medicare for All"

Here are some "ordinary citizens" who have recently been featured in the press as people who are completely OK with the state of American healthcare and totally opposed to Medicare for All or any other project to reform America's worst-in-the-world health care system: "Mustafa Tameez, businessman, Texas" (Tameez is managing director at Texas-based Outreach Strategists, a public affairs and lobbying firm that reps Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, University of Texas Physicians, and St. Luke’s Hospital).

Another health care status quo enthusiast is "Jim Corson, Montana" (Corson was a 14 year veteran of the staff of Sen Max Baucus, the former Senate Finance Committee who killed ACA's public option).

"James Rang" is just an ordinary dude who wrote a letter to the editor opposing single-payer because it was bad for the "free market" (Rang is vice president in the employee benefits department at the Friedman Group -- that is, he's a health-insurance salesman).

Florida businessman "Carlos Carbonell" is one of the "influential leaders" cited in the Orlando Sentinel's piece on opposition to health-care reform (Carbonell is a Public Affairs Advisor” at Converge Strategies, a lobbyist that reps the health care industry).

"Jack A. Roy," a proud son of Massachussetts, and he "[does] understand how this could work" (Roy is the former head of the Haverhill City Republican Committee.).


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Mar 20, 2019, 08:56 PM (3 replies)
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