death-of-outrage“The Death of Outrage” (1998) is a book written by William J. Bennett during the Monica Lewinsky scandal that overtook US President Bill Clinton’s last years in office. It lays bare the morally broken reasoning of his defenders.

Since much of it also applies to President Nixon’s Watergate scandal in the 1970s and, now, to the scandals of Trump and Hillary Clinton in the 2010s, it is almost a guidebook to political scandal – and therefore the late 2010s.

Bill Bennett himself has not held up as well as his book: he has since suffered from a gambling habit, losing $8 million, and Trumpodism. Bennett served President Reagan as education secretary, President Bush I as drug czar, Paul Ryan as mentor and Donald Trump as an adviser. He has supported draconian drug laws and Common Core. He sees Paul Ryan as the next great US president.

Bennett wrote this book in his 50s, during his High Horse Phase:

  • 1993: The Book of Virtues
  • 1995: Moral Compass: Stories for a Life’s Journey
  • 1998: The Death of Outrage
  • 2001: The Broken Hearth: Reversing the Moral Collapse of the American Family
  • 2003: Why We Fight: Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism

In “Outrage” he takes apart the arguments used defend Bill Clinton and shows how they are beside the point or morally broken, stuff like:

  1. Everyone does it.
  2. The ends justify the means.
  3. Who are we to judge?
  4. It is a distraction from more important issues.
  5. It is a conspiracy.
  6. It is partisan.
  7. It is just about sex.
  8. Adultery is not a big deal.
  9. Lying under oath is not a big deal.
  10. The character of the president is not a big deal.
  11. Do not rush to judgement: wait for all the facts to come in.
  12. Let the courts decide.
  13. It is in court, so I cannot talk about it.
  14. Claiming executive privilege.

These arguments try to hide, downplay or draw attention away from the scandal itself, leading to moral blindness.

Bennett outlines the Clinton way of scandal:

  1. Use the above arguments.
  2. Promise to give answers soon – and then play for time, hoping it gets dropped.
  3. Say “I do not remember” or “I do not know the facts.”
  4. Make your accusers look bad or play down their concerns.
  5. Say it is a conspiracy.
  6. Do not explain yourself.


Bennett, now in his 70s, suffers from Trumpodism, falling under Trump’s spell:

He who once said:

“It is our character that supports the promise of our future – far more than particular government programs or policies.”

“The President is the symbol of who the people of the United States are. He is the person who stands for us in the eyes of the world and the eyes of our children.”

Now, in 2016, says stuff like this:

“[Donald Trump] does not need to speak to the ‘Never Trumpers,’ some of my friends – or maybe former friends – who suffer from a terrible case of moral superiority and put their own vanity and taste above the interest of the country.”

– Abagond, 2016.

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Deborah Danner


Deborah Danner (1950?-2016) was a mentally ill Black woman killed in her bedroom by New York police sergeant Hugh Barry on October 18th 2016. It was at 630 Pugsley Avenue in the Bronx, the very same block where Kerry Washington grew up.


“The sergeant was able to engage the woman in dialogue and he was able to get the woman to drop the scissors.”

“She then grabbed a baseball bat. As the woman attempted to strike the sergeant he fired two shots at the woman from his service gun.”

Unlike most police killings, this one was quickly and roundly condemned by authorities:

Mayor Bill de Blasio:

“Deborah Danner should be alive right now, period. If the protocols had been followed, she would be alive. It’s as simple as that.”

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr:

“While I certainly understand the hard work that our police officers undertake to keep the streets of our city safe every single day, I also know what excessive force looks like. This elderly woman was known to the police department, yet the officer involved in this shooting failed to use discretion to either talk her down from her episode or, barring that, to use his stun gun.

“That is totally unacceptable.”

Police Commissioner James O’Neill:

“What is clear in this one instance, we failed. I want to know why it happened. We do have policies and procedures for handling emotionally disturbed people and it looks like some of those procedures weren’t followed.”

But Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins defended the shooting:

“They’re taking the weak political spot and blaming the sergeant for everything. I’m not surprised. [Mr de Blasio is] up for election next year.”

He said the mayor and the commissioner “rushed to judgement”, that the commissioner, who was sworn in just last month, is afraid to stand up to the mayor. He said Danner was a “good target”: the police are trained to shoot at people with bats.

Sgt Hugh Barry is White and has been on the police force eight years. He has had two police brutality lawsuits brought against him in the past. He is now on “modified duty” without a gun or badge while the police investigate themselves.

The case brings to mind Eleanor Bumpurs, a 69-year-old mentally ill Black woman shot dead by New York police in 1984. The officer was charged with manslaughter but was found not guilty.

Danner had schizophrenia. When she did not take her medicine, neighbours would hear her shouting like she was going to hurt someone. They would call the police, who would take her to the hospital.

In 2012 Danner wrote at length about her illness. Because of the stigma, people assume things that are not true, cutting her off from family and work and putting her in danger with the police:

“We are all aware of the all too frequent news stories about the mentalliy ill who come up against law enforcement instead of mental health professionals and end up dead.”

– Abagond, 2016.

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This went to #20 in 1968 on the US pop chart, Jimi Hendrix’s only top-twenty hit in his native country. It went to #5 in Britain, where he was much better known. It is his cover of a song by Bob Dylan (he who just won the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature). Dylan did the song in a far more subdued style that sounds somewhat like Sniff’n’ the Tears’s “Driver’s Seat” (1978). It did not match the words and did not chart.

Dylan was blown away by the Hendrix cover. In 1995 he said:

“It overwhelmed me, really. He had such talent, he could find things inside a song and vigorously develop them. He found things that other people wouldn’t think of finding in there. He probably improved upon it by the spaces he was using. I took licence with the song from his version, actually, and continue to do it to this day.”

Hendrix was a huge Dylan fan, rare among Black musicians. Thanks to Dylan’s terrible singing style, Hendrix could become more than a sideman and session musician, like he was in 1964 on the Isley Brothers’s song “Testify”.

Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones was to play piano on “All Along the Watchtower”, but he was so wasted that he all but fell on the floor.

See also:


“There must be some kind of way out of here,”
Said the joker to the thief,
“There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.
Businessmen – they drink my wine
Plowmen dig my earth
None will level on the line
Nobody of it is worth.”

“No reason to get excited,”
The thief – he kindly spoke,
“There are many here among us
Who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I we’ve been through that
And this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now
The hour’s getting late.”

All along the watchtower
Princes kept the view
While all the women came and went
Barefoot servants too
Outside in the cold distance
A wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching
And the wind began to howl, hey.

Source: A-Z Lyrics; “The Rough Guide to Jimi Hendrix” (2009) by Richie Unterberger.

Chairperson Mireille Fanon Mendes France (centre) and other members of the UN Expert Group on People of African Descent brief the press in Washington, D.C., on their fact-finding mission to the United States. Photo: UNIC Washington/Liam Murphy.

Chairperson Mireille Fanon Mendes France (centre) and other members of the UN Expert Group on People of African Descent brief the press in Washington, D.C., on their fact-finding mission to the United States. Photo: UNIC Washington/Liam Murphy.

The “Report of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent on its mission to the United States of America” (August 18th 2016) was reported by the Washington Post under the headline:

“U.S. owes black people reparations for a history of ‘racial
terrorism,’ says U.N. panel”

But only two of its 36 recommendations had to do with reparations.

In January 2016 the United Nations sent Frantz Fanon’s daughter and two other human rights experts (from South Africa and the Philippines, pictured above) to the US to study the human rights of Black Americans. From the 19th to the 29th they visited the cities of New York, Washington, Baltimore, Chicago and Jackson, Mississippi. They talked to government officials, lawyers, judges, scholars, the Chicago police and hundreds of people from Black suburbs. Some government officials refused to talk to them. They were not allowed to visit Parchman Farm, an infamous prison in Mississippi.

In the 22-page report, they lay out their findings, conclusions and recommendations. They note the progress made since their first visit in 2010. The report is an excellent summary of anti-Black racism in the US in 2016.


The United States.

Some of what they found out about the US (links go to posts of my own):

Among their conclusions:

“Despite the positive measures, the Working Group remains extremely concerned about the human rights situation of African Americans. In particular, the legacy of colonial history, enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the United States remains a serious challenge, as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent. Contemporary police killings and the trauma that they create are reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynching. Impunity for State violence has resulted in the current human rights crisis and must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

Among their recommendations:

  • Get rid of:
    • solitary confinement,
    • police in schools,
    • debtor prisons,
    • voter suppression laws.
  • Sign into law:
    • international treaties on human rights,
    • End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA),
    • Second Chance Reauthorization Act,
    • Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015,
    • H.R. 40 (see below).
  • Put into practice:
    • The recommendations of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
  • Strengthen:
    • Executive Order 12898 (against environmental racism).

Reparations: Like Ta-Nehisi Coates, they urge the passage of H.R. 40, which would set up a commission to study the matter. They see reparations along the lines of the Caribbean Community’s Ten-Point Action Plan on Reparations:

“which includes a formal apology, health initiatives, educational opportunities, an African knowledge programme, psychological rehabilitation, technology transfer and financial support, and debt cancellation.”

– Abagond, 2016.

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Clinton-Trump Debate III


The Clinton-Trump Debate III (October 19th 2016) is the last debate between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton before the election for US president on November 8th, three weeks away.

The big bombshell came when Trump was asked whether he would accept the outcome of the election if he lost. Trump:

“I’ll keep you in suspense. OK?”

Trump has been dogged by a sex scandal, but for the past few days he has been saying the election is rigged. He had no proof, but the press went nuts all the same. Subject changed!

At the debate Trump continued his Black outreach:

“Our policemen and women are disrespected. We need law and order, but we need justice, too. Our inner cities are a disaster. You get shot walking to the store. They have no education. They have no jobs.”

and his Latino outreach:

“And once the border is secured, at a later date, we’ll make a determination as to the rest. But we have some bad hombres here, and we’re going to get them out.”

and his outreach to women:

“Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody.”

and later said of Hillary Clinton:

“Such a nasty woman.”


President Vladimir Putin of Russia with his puppet?

Trump continues to talk like a Putin puppet, especially when denying the truth of what Clinton said of the hacked emails coming from WikiLeaks:

“We have 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military, who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyberattacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin and they are designed to influence our election.”

Hillary Clinton’s weakest moment came when asked about pay for play, where she hooked up those who gave money to her favourite charity, the Clinton Foundation. She said it was all above board, but the question made her uncomfortable.

Fact check: Statements that PolitiFact rated as Mostly False, False or Pants on Fire:


  1. He said, well, if we have them [nuclear weapons], why don’t we use them
  2. There’s only one of us on this stage who’s actually shipped jobs to Mexico


  1. [under Clinton] we will have a Second Amendment which will be a very, very small replica of what it is right now.
  2. She wants to have open borders.
  3. ICE last week, endorsed me.
  4. The NAFTA deal signed by her husband is one of the worst deals ever made of any kind, signed by anybody.
  5. Wrong [disputing Clnton’s claim that he “went after a disabled reporter, mocked and mimicked him on national television.”]
  6. that this election is rigged … I say it’s rigged
  7. Wrong [disputing Clinrton’s claim that he was for the Iraq War]
  8. [Obamacare is] destroying our country. It’s destroying our businesses, our small business and our big businesses.
  9. when you ran the State Department, $6 billion was missing. How do you miss $6 billion? You ran the State Department, $6 billion was either stolen – they don’t know.
  10. [Clinton’s] plan is going to raise taxes and even double your rate.
  11. those stories [of women accusing Trump of forcing himself on them] have been largely debunked.

– Abagond, 2016.

Source: mainly PolitiFact.

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“Hitler was democratically elected” (1975- ) is something you hear, at least in the US, at least since the 1970s. Strictly speaking it is wrong: when Hitler ran for president of Germany in 1932, he lost. He only got 37% of the vote (compare that to Donald Trump’s current 42%). But in a more general sense it is true: the rise of Hitler came through democratic means.

Bernie Sanders:

“A guy named Adolf Hitler won an election in 1932. He won an election, and 50 million people died as a result of that election in World War II, including 6 million Jews. So what I learned as a little kid is that politics is, in fact, very important.”

In 1932 there were four nationwide elections in Germany: two for the Reichstag (parliament) and two for president. By the end of it all, Hitler lost the presidential election to Paul von Hindenburg, 53% to 37%, but the Nazis, his party, won a plurality in parliament of 33%.

That 33% for the Nazis might not sound like much, but it was way better than any other party. On top of that, the Nazis were the only party with broad support, from both Catholics and Protestants, rich and poor, young and old, men and women, town and country. They had strong support from business and the middle class. That made Hitler the natural choice to become chancellor (prime minister) to form a majority coalition.

So in January 1933, Hindenburg, as president, made Hitler chancellor. Those on the right had assured Hindenburg that they would be able to control Hitler: he needed them to have a majority in parliament. But in practice they were not able to control him.

Hitler moved on limiting civil rights almost right away, particularly rights of protest and free speech. Then, when a fire broke out at the Reichstag in February, he blamed the communists. He got enough people afraid of a communist uprising – unfounded fears as it turned out – that he got President Hindenburg to agree to an emergency decree: the Decree for the Protection of the People and the State. In the name of national security Hitler was able to silence the press and throw anyone he wanted in prison. He was now, in effect, dictator, and he never let go.

So is Trump like Hitler?

Like Trump, Hitler:

  • played on people’s fears and racism;
  • promised to make his country great again;
  • had little regard for civil rights;
  • presented himself as a strongman;
  • was dismissed as a clown who could be controlled.

Unlike Trump, Hitler:

  • had a strong, united party behind him with broad national support;
  • faced no strong opposition party;
  • had already tried to overthrow the government (in Bavaria in the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch);
  • had a master of propaganda (Joseph Goebbels).

Also, Germany in 1932 was in way worse shape than the US in 2016: it had lost the First World War and was sunk in the Great Depression with high rates of unemployment and poverty. It was a far more desperate country.

– Abagond, 2016.

Sources: mainly Deutsche Welle and the US Holocaust Museum.

See also:




Mixtec day names.

The Mixtecs (since -5000), who call themselves the Ñudzahui, are the fourth largest Indian (Native American) ethnic group in Mexico, the largest after the Aztecs, Maya and Zapotecs. Like them, they were part of the Mesoamerican civilization founded by the Olmecs.


Mixteca (in green).

By -5000 they were living in Mixteca, their present homeland in southern Mexico. The heart of it is made up of dozens of valleys high in the mountains of western Oaxaca state. Each valley is almost a world unto itself.

By -1500 they had become settled farmers.


Map of Mesoamerica, showing the Olmecs (orange), Aztecs (yellow) and the Maya (green).


Timeline of Mesoamerica showing when and where different peoples reached the height of their powers.

By +650 the Mixtecs had irrigation, towns, nobles, craftsmen and peasants. They were ruled by the Zapotecs to the east.

By the 900s the Zapotec empire had fallen. That led to the War That Came From Heaven (963-969) and, in time, the rise of 8-Deer Jaguar Claw (1063-1115), who brought all of Mixteca under his rule.


4-Jaguar, a Toltec leader, meets Mixtec warlord 8-Deer in the year 1097. Notice 8-Deer’s name above his head and 4-Jaguar’s at his feet. Mixtecs named people after the day they were born on.

In 1100:

  • Size: maybe 1.5 million people.
  • Location: Mixteca.
  • Language: Mixtec languages, written in pictographs.
  • Religion: priests talked to the gods and the dead. The highest priest was the Sun made flesh. Everything, living or dead, had a spirit. Sweat lodges. War was a human sacrifice to the earth, sun and rain.
  • Dress: heavily class-coded. Nobles dressed in cotton, peasants in ixtle (maguey fibre).
  • Food: maize, beans, squash. Tamales. Turkey with spicy chocolate sauce. Rabbit. They grew avocados, tomatoes, chili peppers, etc.
  • Drugs: tobacco, ololiuqui (from Turbina corymbosa, which produces LSA, a weak cousin of LSD).
  • Family: patriarchal: the father is the main breadwinner and decision maker.
  • Land: communal.
  • Technology: writing, calendar, farming, irrigation, terraced fields, use of copper, gold, silver, turquoise, jade. By the 1400s, they made some of the best pots, books and jewellery of Mesoamerica. No beasts of burden and therefore no wheels! Spears, atlatls (spear throwers), shields and axes used in warfare.

Aztec Empire.

In the 1400s the Aztecs took over, but did not force their culture on them. In the 1500s the Spanish took over. They used massacres to cow them, but did not wipe them out to take their land (the Anglo American practice). The Spanish burned all but eight of their books, among them:

  1. Codex Colombino-Becker
  2. Codex Bodley
  3. Codex Selden I
  4. Codex Vindobensis
  5. Codex Nuttall-Zouche (pictured below)

Codex Zouche-Nuttall at the British Museum, one of the eight Mixtec books (and 16 Mesoamerican books) not burned up by the Spanish. Notice that it folds out. Only 4 of its 94 pages are showing.

In the 1800s the land was becoming worn out. Many left Mixteca seeking work, in Mexico City (late 1800s), north-west Mexico (early 1900s) and the US (late 1900s). Most are farm workers.

They face racism from Mexicans because they are Indian and from Anglo Americans because they are Mexican!


Mixtec family.

In 2016 (latest figures):

  • Size: 1 million
  • Location: Mexico and US, especially Mixteca (67%) and California (13%).
  • Language: Mixtec languages (50%), written in Latin letters; Spanish, English.
  • Religion: Catholicism, laid on top of older beliefs and practices.
  • Dress: mainly Western.
  • Food: both Mixtec and “mestizo”. Also beer, soft drinks, junk food – and grasshoppers!
  • Drugs: some grow marijuana and opium poppies.
  • Family: less patriarchal since many men are away for months or years at a time working.
  • Land: Mexican government land titles, which the Mixtec interpret as communal farming rights.
  • Technology: trucks, television, wheelbarrow, donkey.


– Abagond, 2016.

Sources: especially Mixtec.org; “The Legend of Lord Eight Deer” (2002) by John M.D. Pohl; and “The Song of Oaxaca” in National Geographic (November 1994).

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