Thursday, April 19, 2018

Et tu, LA Fitness?

I am starting to see a trend.

One of the good things about living in a world where we can use our cell phones as video cameras, is that we can now see and hear things that some of us thought never happened in this country. Like, for instance,  open racism and bigotry in public spaces.

We all know by now what happened in that Philadelphia Starbucks on the edge of Rittenhouse Square. (BTW, the police were called within minutes of the men entering the store. They did not loiter for hours as some racist websites are suggesting.) But it's not only Starbucks with the alleged racist employees. Let's go to an LA. Fitness gym (full disclosure my current gym of choice) in the great state of New Jersey.

 "Amid nationwide backlash over a racial profiling incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks, three employees at a New Jersey gym have been fired for a similar situation.

In a series of Facebook videos that went viral Tuesday, two black men were kicked out of an LA Fitness in Secaucus after an employee called police.

Tshyrad Oates, who posted the videos on his account, said he was visiting on a four-day guest pass Monday. His friend, he said, had been a longtime member at the gym.“After about a half hour I was approached by this same employee telling me that I had to leave or pay and I explained to her that I just signed in with her with the guest pass,” Oates wrote on Facebook. 

“She stated that it was my friend who did not pay (unaware that her manager had already signed him in with his membership pass). My friend stated to her that he is an active and current member and that his gym tag was in his locker. He felt racially profiled and embarrassed by the harassment of this LA Fitness employee in front of other members at the gym.”

Oates continued to say that two policemen showed up at the LA Fitness to question them.
“We explained to them about our guest pass and rescanned my friend’s member tag and it resulted in current active statues. (The LA Fitness employee did look at the computer screen that showed current member status and said nothing),” he wrote.

“We again started our workout and 10 mins later an LA Fitness manager told us to leave, we stated that we did not do anything wrong and have active current memberships. 2 mins later 5 police men show up asking us to leave.”

The gym manager allegedly told Oates that he had been banned from the LA Fitness and his friend’s membership “has been terminated effective immediately.”

In one of Oates’ videos, his friend noted that they were “the only two black people in the gym” and that he had been “having problems with this staff for months.”

In another video, a man, seemingly a gym employee, insisted that no filming was allowed on premises as the videographer recorded his conversations with the police and other employees.
A spokesperson for the national branch told the Daily News late Thursday that the three employees are "no longer with the company."

"For over 30 years, people of all races have been welcome in our clubs. We do ask for a Membership card or ID to gain entry. The front desk staff employee was confused and thought the member was a guest. He explained that he was a member, had checked in earlier, and did not want to retrieve his membership card a second time. The front desk employee who made the request was not working when this member checked in the first time, so she was unaware," the statement to The News read.

"Regrettably, from there our staff unnecessarily escalated the situation and called the police rather than work through it. Clearly, this is a long time member, with a current, valid membership. We want to clarify that no membership was cancelled and no one, including the member’s guest, was banned from the club. We have spoken to the member to apologize and assure him that he and his guests are welcome in our clubs at all times."

LA Fitness also said that the company is "currently exploring potential training content and opportunities to better train our staff."

Oates did not immediately returned a request for comment. The local police also declined to comment." [Source]

I will paraphrase what a colleague of mine declared recently: The shit is exhausting, bro.   

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Open thread Wednesday.

TWEET MEIt's open thread Wednesday field hands, and I need your thoughts on a few things.

Does Sean Hannity and his network now have a serious credibility problem

Do you believe president trump when he says that he has been tough on Russia? 

Is Nikki Haley going to run against trump in 2020?  ("I don't get confused") 

Why is the story of white terrorist found guilty of plotting to blow up an apartment complex full of African immigrants getting so little press?

Will trump fire Robert Mueller? The Pittsburgh police department seems to thinks so. 

Should the new climate of little or no regulation in Washington be blamed for that recent Southwest Airlines crash that killed one person? 

Did the New York AG take away trump's pardon power with their latest move?

Finally, will Michael Cohen give up his boy, Donald trump, to the feds?








Tuesday, April 17, 2018

It's 2018.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush passed away today.

Here is what your president tweeted:

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Starbucks, we have a problem.



Two black men walk into a Starbucks coffee shop. It sounds like the start of a bad joke, until you see what happens next: The manager called the police to have the two men arrested for being....well...two black men in a Starbucks.

Thankfully, there were some white folks there who used their white privilege to record the entire sorry episode and post in on social media.  It's always good to have conscious white folks around who will take note of the disparity in treatment between the races and call out the perpetrators on their actions.

True confessions. I used to go to Starbucks quite often, primarily because I had a thing for their Caffe Misto. But I have since broken away from my Starbucks jones,  because I do not like the idea of being addicted to a particular drink--- or anything else for that matter. Sadly, I always noticed a classist yuppie vibe about Starbucks that I found offsetting. There is a perception that they are these liberal progressive folks who cater to a like-minded people, but I have learned long ago that certain types of "liberal progressive" people can be some of the most racist who harbor implicit biases about black folks that are no different than those in different ideological camps.

Anyway, clearly the manager at this particular Philadelphia store fit into that category. She felt the need to call Philly's finest on the two men for trespassing  because she felt that they stayed in the store too long without making a purchase. Forget the fact that the men were waiting on a friend to consummate a business deal, or that Starbucks is a place where folks (see white people) hang out for hours after purchasing just one cup of coffee or nothing at all.

"Ever since I posted this, I’ve had white strangers AND friends say “there must be something more to this story.” That assumption is a big part of the problem. It does happen. All the time. Just not to you and me. Believe it and speak up."

Melissa, I could not have said it better myself.

*Pic courtesy of  @missydepino 

  

Saturday, April 14, 2018

CAPTION SATURDAY.

  • Image result for michael cohen cigar images
I need a caption for this pic.

*Pic from businessinsider.com

Thursday, April 12, 2018

A bad week to be a member of "Cult 45".

TWEET MEBREAKING! NBC is reporting that Robert Mueller is to report about at least four findings on trump and obstruction of justice soon.

Also, the president just might have a love child running (or crawling) around out here. And he might have had the child with his housekeeper.  I guess Thomas Jefferson was one of his heroes as well.

Then there is Jim Comey's new book. It has all kinds of nasty dishes about the loser in chief. 

Anyway, this has not been a good week for trump and the "Cult 45" folks. 

This might be a good time to read  another great essay from Matt Bai.

"Let me put it to you this way, Mr. President. Who are you going to listen to — the voice of the stable genius inside your head, or the timid voices of experience, the ones that said you’d never win?

You know what you want to do. Just do it already.

Oh sure, all the sour-faced pundits are warning of a national crisis if you follow through. All those bed-wetting Republicans on the Hill are counseling patience and caution. Your senior staff is glued to their Twitter feeds, praying you won’t hit Send on something you can’t take back.

But they’re not the ones who sit in that swivel chair, are they. They never in their lives registered so much as a blip in the Nielsen ratings. Paul Ryan’s so smart that you gave him the biggest tax cut in the history of civilization and he still can’t hold his seat in Podunk, Wis.

Go on, Mr. President. Fire Bob Mueller. Please.

Don’t stop there, either — fire the rest of them, too. Sessions will be useless. That Boy Scout Rosenstein won’t have your back, either. There must be something in the halls of the Justice Department that causes people to suddenly grow a conscience, like some goiter sprouting on the soul.
Burn it down, Mr. President. Do what you really came here to do. Let’s see how those Ivy League lawyers like taking orders from Attorney General Laura Ingraham and her new deputy, Michael Cohen.

You said it yourself: This latest raid on Cohen, your most trusted personal lackey, was an attack on America. I couldn’t agree more. The first image that jumped into my mind when I heard the news was Pearl Harbor.

Many years from now, our grandchildren will mark the day of the Stormy Daniels Raid with little shoebox dioramas of federal prosecutors marching into Rockefeller Center.

What were they really after, anyway? Payoffs to paramours? Campaign finance violations? No, Mueller’s aiming higher than that.

Prosecutors sometimes talk about “tickling the wire,” by which they mean purposely freaking out witnesses who might be under electronic surveillance. You rattle the dumpster a little, and then you sit back and listen as the rats inside panic.

My guess is that Mueller is onto the real stuff now: loans from Moscow laundered through European banks, clumsy backchannel connections to your meathead son-in-law, bullying from the Oval Office that might cross the line into outright obstruction.

He’s crossed the moat and breached the castle now. He’s rummaging through the Hall of Armor.
And what he’s doing now is goading you. Tickling the wire. Pushing your buttons to see just how reckless your cronies can get.

You and I know who Mueller is, Mr. President. Born in Manhattan, schooled at St. Paul’s and Princeton. He played high school hockey with John Kerry. He even looks like John Kerry. He might be John Kerry, for all we know.

The newspaper profiles never fail to mention that Mueller joined the Marines, fought in Vietnam, got himself covered head to toe with medals for valor. Meanwhile, you described your own version of combat, after all those deferments, as having dodged venereal diseases while hopping from one bed to the next.

Can’t anyone around here take a joke?

No, Mueller isn’t just a prosecutor; he’s the stand-in for all the bluebloods and public service types who never respected you, who never thought you belonged, who always thought you too coarse and outer-borough, too much of a carnival barker, to join their clubs or sit on their boards.

He’s trying to destroy you, Mr. President. He thinks you’re beneath the office.
And if you’re going to stop him, what better time to do it than now, just as Jim Comey’s big memoir hits the virtual shelves? You don’t need me to tell you what getting rid of Mueller would do to the Comey Sanctification Tour. This is what you’re better at than anyone alive — commandeering the news cycle.

This isn’t hard. Look at all the people you’ve already fired. Priebus, Flynn, Tillerson, Price, McMaster — the list goes on.

Of course, you didn’t actually fire them, eye to eye. That’s something you only do on TV, when people are watching and you get to humiliate some wannabe TV star. Your style is more to let them know on Twitter, or in the fake news.

Which is why I’ve theorized that you’re a man of show business, not of action. I’ve said that other world leaders sense your insecurity and walk all over you. I’ve never bought the storyline about you as an aspiring tyrant because, when you get down to it, I don’t think you really have the steel.
So prove me wrong. Reprise Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre. Find your Robert Bork.

Because here’s the thing, Mr. President: All these responsible people frantically warning of a constitutional crisis if you do this — they’re afraid. They don’t think the institutions of American democracy and jurisprudence are strong enough now to withstand the assault. They think the Republican Party you’ve annexed will prostrate itself in your presence, as it has for the entire last year.

Even more than that, they don’t believe in the voters. Their faith is shaken. They fear that Americans are so angry at the system, so dimwitted and disillusioned, that we’ll accept anything that comes disguised as anti-elitism.

They worry that you’ll win, and America’s claim to being a nation of laws will be lost.
I don’t. If I’m being straight with you, I think firing Mueller is your Waterloo. And this kind of clear-cut crisis may be exactly what we need.

I think there are more than enough Republicans who genuinely believe in the bedrock principles of American government (and, not for nothing, who can see what your leadership is about to do to them in the midterm elections), and a solid majority of patriotic voters who won’t stand by and watch another president try to strong-arm the judicial system.

I think trying to shut down the special counsel and seize control of the Justice Department will be the thing that brings this entire Legoland of an administration crashing down on itself.
So enough bluster, Mr. President. It’s time to walk the walk.

Because I’m pretty sure that all you’ll have left, when Mueller and Rosenstein and Sessions are all back at law firms basking in the public’s admiration, are enough unshakable, reactionary supporters to just about fill a park in Charlottesville.

Everyone else in your party will have moved on to President Pence." [Source]

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Open Thread Wednesday.

MORE DISCLAIMERSIt's open thread Wednesday field hands, and I have some questions for you:

Is the fact that the NRA accepted contributions from 20 Russian linked contributors a big deal?

Is Wendy Vitter unfit to be a federal Judge because she cannot say that segregation and  Jim Crow was wrong? 

Did Mr. trump change his policy about announcing when he is going to attack another country? 

Why isn't this story about ICE possibly causing the death of an immigrant couple in California getting more national attention?

Why do you think  the FBI was also seeking records about that infamous Access Hollywood tape when they raided Michael Cohen's home? 

What will Paul Ryan's legacy be like? And did he make a "Faustian Bargain" with trump?

Finally,  why does Scott Pruitt still have a job? 




Monday, April 09, 2018

The heat is on.

"just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys,” praising Cohen as a “good man” and saying this is a “disgraceful situation.”


I"It's an attack on our country,....It's an attack on what we all stand for."

The President said he’s been cooperating with the special counsel and he wants to tackle serious issues but there’s this “witch hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now”

“It’s a disgrace,”  It’s frankly a real disgrace. It’s an attack on our country, in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for… A whole new level of unfairness.”

Extraordinary stuff! Think about this. The office of the personal lawyer to the president of the United Sates was raided by federal agents today. This will not end well.

And FYI Mr. trump, they did not "break" into your attorney's office. They had a warrant, and in order to get that warrant they had to go to a Judge.  Apparently the Judge found that there was enough probable cause to believe that there is something there.  And it's not a "witch hunt"; it's a crook hunt, and I hope that they catch the biggest crook to sit in the office of the president since Richard Nixon.  

Shamefully, the president also tried to make this a partisan matter, and he made some dangerous and extraordinary statements in front of his military leaders. Of course there is nothing partisan about what is happening to trump and his lawyer. Why do I say this? Because almost all of the major players in trump's nightmare are republicans, and his own appointees have their prints all over this matter.

"It's an attack on our country" 

No it's not. It's the chickens coming home to roost, and Mr Mueller and company getting closer to the truth. The fact that Mr. trump is in full panic mode should tell us all something.

During the campaign against Hilary Clinton, trump and his supporters were chanting "lock her up".
Of course no one is laughing harder than Hillary Clinton these days.

Someone will be definitely locked up soon, but it won't be Hillary Clinton.

*Pic from liberalsamerica.org




Sunday, April 08, 2018

Sprinklers needed.

Image result for trump tower brassner fire images         "New York (CNN)A fire broke out at Trump Tower on Saturday, leaving one man dead and six firefighters injured, the New York City Fire Department said.

Police identified the man killed as Todd Brassner, 67, a resident of the building's 50th floor. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition but later died, said spokeswoman Angelica Conroy of the Fire Department.

Brassner was unconscious and unresponsive when firefighters pulled him out, the New York Police Department said. The medical examiner's office will determine the cause of death.

The fire was contained to the 50th floor of the tower, located on Fifth Avenue in New York. It was ruled under control around 9 p.m., two hours after it was originally reported, the FDNY tweeted.
    Six firefighters suffered injuries that are not life threatening, Conroy said.
    No members of the Trump family were at the tower during the fire, Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.

    The upper-level residential floors are not equipped with fire sprinklers, according to Nigro. When asked to comment on the President's tweet, Nigro said the building "sure stood up quite well."
    His son, Eric Trump, also congratulated the firefighters before news of the death, saying "the @FDNY and @NYPD are truly some of the most incredible people anywhere!"

    Brassner's apartment was valued at $2.5 million, according to bankruptcy documents from 2015. Brassner had an extensive collection of prized works of art, including a portrait of himself by Andy Warhol, as well as hundreds of guitars and ukeleles, according to the bankruptcy documents.
    The fire at Trump Tower comes three months after a minor fire broke out in a cooling tower on the roof of the building, according to CNN affiliate WCBS-TV. Two people were injured in the fire, which officials said may have been caused by electrical heaters inside the cooling tower.