Monday, August 31, 2020

Trump's Hell, Or Making America Great Again


The class of MSNBC has it almost exactly correct

However, President Trump never has needed to convince himself of this.  He has not persuaded himself, deluded himself, or sold himself on some alternate sense of reality.

He always has known that chaos, street fighting, mayhem, bloodshed, even a cratering economy would benefit Republicans politically.  In 2014 Trump was on Fox and Friends when one of the hosts, referring to silly little things like health care, complained that it's a "problem for the Republicans. It's hard to be the party that says we're going to take these things away from you." Beginning at 1:53 of the video below, Trump can be heard responding

If anybody comes out against it or if anybody goes against it, new Democratic line itself, it's going to be hard in certain areas. Now, you know what solves it? When the economy crashes, when the country goes to total hell, and everything is a disaster, then you will have, you know you'll have riots to go back to where we used to be when America was great.



The following year, Trump emerged as a candidate for the GOP nomination for President with the slogan "make America great again." Someone should have noticed that he believed it would come about after a crashing economy and subsequent riots.

But then, Trump's strategy for America has always been so transparent and so cataclysmic that nary a pundit nor Democratic politician has been comfortable expressing it.  When in early March the President admitted that he didn't want passengers and crew from the Grand Princess to disembark because infected with Covid-19 would become part of the official record, he was telling us that treating victims of the novel coronavirus was counter-productive. When in late June he tweeted "with slower testing, we would show fewer cases" of Covid-19, he didn't say there would be fewer cases but instead that there would appear to be fewer, thus little need to address the outbreak.

In his own bizarre, crude and ironic way, Donald Trump always has been transparent.  Cut testing so we are unaware of disease and more people will die.  Destroy an economy so there are riots and America can become great again.  It's simply up to us as voters to banish this transcendent evil from our lives.

 


Sunday, August 30, 2020

Condemn Violence. Period.



The Democratic ticket is going down the wrong road.  In a tweet now unavailable, an individual with 142,000 followers sensibly asks

Legitimately confused how conservatives can blame anybody else for violence when there is literally video of a caravan of Trump supporters running red lights with their oversized pickups, shooting passersby by paintballs and mace.

There are two reasons conservatives can legitimately, albeit unjustifiably, blame the left for violence which most evidence indicates is instigated or perpetrated by right-wingers or ideologically uncommitted anarchists. The first is represented by the report Saturday that the previous evening

the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR) activist group, along with its Milwaukee and Chicago chapters, held a rally and press conference in Kenosha alongside local protesters who have been out on the ground all week. The protest called for community control of policing, limiting the scope of police power and an end to “repressive and inhumane jailing tactics” that disproportionately incarcerate Black Americans.

This organization's response to violence- violence visible to the American people- is... less police and punishment.   The number of Democratic politicians who will condemn this, either by identifying the group or more generally, is zero.

The response of national Democrats to the violence in Kenosha has been tepid.  On Tuesday, vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris stated

"We must always defend peaceful protest and peaceful protesters. We should not confuse them with those looting and committing acts of violence, including the shooter, who was arrested for murder."

Harris recalled other Black Americans who have lost their lives to police violence, including Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

"People are rightfully angry and exhausted," Harris said. "And after the murders of Breonna, and George [Floyd], and Ahmaud, and so many others, it's no wonder people are taking to the streets. And I support them."



When the California senator says she supports "people taking (it) to the streets," people no longer are thinking peaceful demonstrators. They see rioters, and are not impressed that they are angry and exhausted.

The presidential nominee was only slightly better when the next day he remarked

“Burning down communities is not protest, it’s needless violence — violence that endangers lives, violence that guts businesses and shutters businesses that serve the community. That’s wrong.”

Biden said the wisest words he had heard so far on the matter came from Blake’s mother, Julia Jackson.

“She looked at the damage done in her community and said this, ‘This doesn’t reflect my son or my family. So let’s unite and heal, do justice, end the violence and end systemic racism in this country. Now.’”

Democrats must stymie President Trump's effort to make urban mayhem the focus, overtaking Covid-19, of the campaign, . Instead, voters- at least whites, of whom I am one- heard "Jacob Blake" and the conflation of "violence" and "systemic racism," in which the former appears to be justified in light of the latter.

Joe Biden, a moderate figure whose record on gun safety is strong, can more credibly than most give a major speech- perhaps akin to the Obama "race" speech- condemning disorder in Kenosha and elsewhere. Kyle Rittenhouse shouldn't have had a firearm. Violence- from whites, blacks, and everyone- is unacceptable and puts everyone at danger. It is rampant now- not with Obama, George W Bush, or Bill Clinton as President, but under President Donald J. Trump.

With his running mate at his side, Biden should put the Democratic ticket on the side of everyone, of any race, from any state, city, suburb, rural area or small town, who wants to be safe. And for at least this moment, he must put aside Jacob Blake, racism, and police. President Biden won't regret it.

 


Racial Animus+


As can be seen and heard in the video below, sports journalist Jason Whitlock has little sympathy for George Floyd or Jacob Blake. He criticizes NBA players for following the "Just Do It" slogan, inspired by mass murderer Gary Gilmore, and having no actual plan for what they want to accomplish.

That's a controversial opinion which leads Whitlock down a controversial and questionable road.  More significantly, though, he argues (at 12:38)

There's no proof that Derek Chauvin was driven by any racial animus. He was a cop behaving inappropriately. Race likely had nothing to do with it. That doesn't mean he wasn't criminal, potentially criminal, but there's no proof that it was driven by racism.


 

Race played a role in the killing of a black man by a white police officer,  who held his knee against the suspect's neck for 7 minutes and 46 seconds (originally thought to be 8 minutes, 46 sections). Moreover, the conviction that the act was an obscene act of racial animus obviously motivated  the peaceful demonstrations this spring by of over a million individuals across the nation.

The protests were sparked, additionally, by the conviction that Chauvin's act demonstrated that racism pervades police departments in all parts of the country.

There are undoubtedly racially biased, even grossly racially biased, law enforcement officers in the USA And yet, there has been no indication of any action that rivals the cruelty and viciousness exhibited by Chauvin.  Especially, then, it should be of more than passing interest that

George Floyd and Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with killing Floyd, worked security at the same local club for much of the year before their fatal encounter on a Minneapolis street last week. The owner of El Nuevo Rodeo said the two were in close proximity once a week for their Tuesday night shifts, though she did not know if they ever actually met while working at the club.

Maya Santamaria said she had been paying Chauvin, when he was off-duty, to sit in his squad car outside El Nuevo Rodeo for 17 years. She said Floyd worked as a security guard inside the club frequently in the last year. In particular, they both worked on Tuesday nights, when the club had a popular weekly dance competition. 

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension contacted Santamaria soon after Floyd was killed, and family attorney Benjamin Crump believed the association between the deceased and the defendant indicates charges should be upgraded (as they since have been).

Whatever the relationship was between the two individuals, it is not inconsequential and  it would be enlightening to find out whether the information would sustain our conclusions.




Saturday, August 29, 2020

Begging For Caricature


This makes some sense. After the Democratic vice-presidential nominee gave a speech Thursday morning blasting President Trump, Charlie Pierce wrote

This was pretty much what made Harris the best choice for vice president on the Biden ticket. It is always the VP candidate’s job to be the monster back, flying to the ball and hitting hard—a heat-seeking, rapid-response weapon. ...  Harris has the prosecutor’s instinct for the jugular and the politician’s instinct for doing so calmly and with cold precision. Those two lines—Donald Trump froze. He was scared.—were damned near perfectly constructed and aimed. You know that, when the president heard a Black woman call him out as a poltroon, every demon in his demon-stuffed psyche began talking at once. The game, she is on now.

This, however, makes no sense:

"I think that there should be a thorough investigation and, based on what I've seen, it seems that the officer should be charged," Harris said in an interview with Craig Melvin of NBC’s “Today” that aired Friday morning.

Harris, a former prosecutor and California attorney general, conceded that she doesn't know all the facts of Blake's case and reiterated she would want the officer to receive due process. Asked whether she felt the officer's use of force was justified, Harris said, "I don't see it. But I don't have all the evidence."

"The man was going to his car. He didn't appear to be armed," she said. "If he was not armed, the use of force that was seven bullets coming out of a gun at close range in the back of the man, I don't see how anybody could reason that that was justifiable."

Let's run this through the clarity meter.

There should be a thorough investigation (and) the officer should be charged. There is no need for an investigation if it is already determined that the officer should be charged.

I don't see it (the use of force) was justified (but) I don't have all the evidence. If you don't have all the evidence- and you're a candidate for the second most powerful official elected nationally- you probably shouldn't suggest that the use of force was unjustified.

This was the Kamala Harris who in March 2019 told a crowd of wealthy donors "I support Medicare for All. But as you may have noticed, over the course of the many months, I've not been comfortable with Bernie's plan, the Medicare for All plan."

Harris had co-sponsored that Medicare for legislation. Nonetheless, her half-in, half-out stance was consistent with the Kamala Harris who supported abolishing private insurance, then opposed it, then supported, and finally opposed it. 

Call it consistent inconsistency.  There was another vice-presidential candidate whose selection was met with thunderous applause but whom probably ended up costing the presidential nominee election to the presidency, especially in foolishly trying to sell the duo as "mavericks" against the first major party black presidential nominee 

Kamala Harris is no Sarah Palin. But Sarah Palin wasn't Sarah Palin until Tina Fey of Saturday Night Live got the part down. Joe Biden, the Democratic Party, and the American people better hope there is no right-wing Tina Fey warming up to have a crack at Senator Harris. 


 

 

Friday, August 28, 2020

Voter Fraud, Presidential Division


President Trump has played golf an awful lot since he entered office. As of late May, he had been at a golf club once very 4.92 days, after President Obama  and played golf once every 8.77 days. And of course he makes a killing while doing so; after all, what is the point of there even being a Donald Trump if he does squeeze every last penny out of anyone he can. 

As of now, the federal government (otherwise known as taxpayers) has paid the President's businesses $900,000, approximately $570,000 as a result of Trump's travel, which has included 271 days spent at a property he owns. But most of the time he is in Washington, D.C.

One of the Trump properties is Mar-a-Lago, the resort in Palm Beach, Florida, which the President claims as his home, which if  true would enable him to vote as a Floridian.



Which is curious because documents obtained by TheWashington Post, in light of the President's effort to obtain approval for a boat dock at the resort, indicated that Trump

agreed in writing years ago to change the use of the Mar-a-Lago property from a single-family residence to a private club owned by a corporation he controls.

The distinction is significant. The property is taxed as a private club — not as a residence, according to Palm Beach County property appraiser records. Trump’s own attorney assured local officials in Palm Beach before they voted to approve the club in 1993 that he would not live there. Mar-a-Lago’s website says only that Trump maintains “private quarters” at the club.

“It’s one or the other — it’s a club or it’s your home,” Reginald Stambaugh, an attorney who represents a neighbor opposed to Trump’s dock plan, said in a recent interview. “You can’t have it both ways.”

Alas, President Donald J. Trump, the Chosen One, can have it both ways. In his acceptance speech on the grounds of the White House Thursday night, he declared

The fact is, I am here. What is the name of that building? But I’ll say it differently, the fact is, we are here and they are not. To me, one of the most beautiful buildings anywhere in the world is not a building, it is a home, as far as I am concerned. It’s not even a house, it is a home. Wonderful place with an incredible history. But it is all because of you.

Asking the nation to re-elect him, Trump suggested the People's House was his private domicile, thereby making him a resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, "a home, as far as I am concerned," in Washington, D.C.

But District of Columbia residents are second-class citizens and  elections are barely contested there while Florida is a swing state. So Donald Trump votes as a resident of Palm Beach, Florida.

In March, Donald Trump voted by mail as a resident of Palm Beach, Florida, where he does not live. However, he is claiming to be a resident there- except when he illegally conducted his campaign rally Thursday night in front of the White House.

It's not the President's greatest crime or con. However, when the media reports GOP complaints about illegal voting, Donald Trump should be unmasked as someone who knowingly and intentionally has committed voter fraud, and recently.



Thursday, August 27, 2020

Don't Call Him Deplorable


The President has given us another glimpse into Donald Trump's America, circa 2021.

The Republican National Convention has been filled withencomiums to the President, portraying him as honest, compassionate, and generous as any person ever.

But Donald Trump himself wants you to know what he has in store for you if he is re-elected.  In late May, the President tweeted "just spoke to (Minnesota) Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!" (Thank you?)

Three months later the President would stage-manage the Republican National Convention, where wealthy couple Mark and Patricia McCloskey  were given roughly four minutes to spin their way into the hearts of the fed up with black people crowd. “Not a single person in the out-of-control mob you saw at our house was charged with a crime. But you know who was? We were,” Mr. McCloskey stated.

It's just a guess but it may be because Mark brandished a rifle, and Patricia a pistol, at protesters peacefully marching past their mansion in a gated community.



Vigilantism is, in the might makes right party, a benefit, not a bug. In something less than a big upset

The law enforcement–obsessed 17-year-old who was charged with shooting and killing two people and injuring another in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during protests for Jacob Blake appeared in the front row at a Donald Trump rally in January.

Kyle Howard Rittenhouse’s social media presence is filled with him posing with weapons, posting “Blue Lives Matter,” and supporting Trump for president. Footage from the Des Moines, Iowa, rally on Jan. 30 shows Rittenhouse feet away from the president, in the front row, to the left of the podium. He posted a TikTok video from the event.

Then on Wednesday night at the convention, the GOP painted an apocalyptic vision of the future, Democratic governors, riots galore, and cities ablaze, with President Biden. There was no mention of Kyle Rittenhouse. It's only with people like him that Donald Trump's goal of twelve more years can be fulfilled.



Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Don't Ignore; Attack


Ever the propagandist, Trump TV's Steve Doocy can be seen at the end of the video below saying "and the RNC, by the way, did include a prayer for Jacob Blake in the very beginning."

Aside from the "thoughts and prayers," both Fox News- as the video indicates- and the Trump campaign are determined that viewers and voters find violent protests "terrifying" (beginning of the video) and are terrified by peaceful protesters.

So CNN host Don Lemon remarks that Joe Biden

gotta address it. He's gotta come out and talk about it. He's gotta do a speech like Barack Obama did about race. He's gotta come out and tell people that he is going to deal with the issue of police reform in this country and that what's happening now is happening under Donald Trump's watch.

It's happening under Donald Trump's watch. The dysfunction voters perceived in the country in 2016 (which ultimately led to loss of the presidency by the incumbent party) was arguably magnified as of even six months ago and is greatly magnified now.

Inevitably, someone will take the blame. The most obvious way for Americans to have their voices heard is every two, and especially every four, years and they will make one of the political parties pay (probably dearly) for what they see on television and in video. 

Most individuals know what Joe Biden doesn't, that all is not sweetness and light, and will not be after November. Further, they have heard President Trump encouraging state violence. Therefore, a prayer for Jacob Blake will convince no one of anything. But the pictures, and the Fox reporter calling the events "terrifying," will. The GOP and their media lackeys are embarking on a full-court press to persuade voters that the Democratic Party is responsible for the mayhem, which widely-played video dramatizes and exaggerates.

Therefore, as Lemon points out, it is necessary to tell Americans that this is happening under Trump's watch. And then remind them. And remind them. And.... not Joe Biden, not Nancy Pelosi, but Democrat after Democrat must say This is Trump's America.

Democratic candidates and surrogates (and Biden if he makes the recommended speech) should include this:

Democrats, don't mince words. By and large, Americans do believe there is a "race war" or will be one. Use those words- and use the word "terrorists" to describe the culprits.  Show the voters that Democrats do not fear the word "terrorists."

And don't give a free pass to the police.  A lot of Democrats would be astonished how many whites, even conservative whites, have come to distrust police- and not primarily because of law enforcement's anti-black bias.  Whether because of visual evidence, personal experiences (perhaps with a motor vehicle), or maybe just knowing one cop they don't like, citizens do not have a comic-book view of police.

Consequently, it is not helpful, nor even necessary, for their presidential nominee (and vice-presidential nominee) to continue implying that Democrats are pressing these points on behalf of blacks.  There is bias, we know already and are constantly reminded; Democrats must change the narrative by persuading voters that they are acting on behalf of all Americans.

Stress that there will be more of this if Donald Trump is re-elected. Rhetorically establishing the link between police and armed militias has two benefits. It puts Republicans on the defensive- and it warns the populace of what is likely to prevail, to a much greater degree, if Donald Trump is re-elected.

 


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

If It Walks And Talks Like A Duck.....


If a person you admire- say, perhaps, a President of the USA- says "this could happen only in Nebraska" and you are from Nebraska, said person knows that you are flattered.

That applies, albeit indirectly, to former Heisman Trophy winner and mediocre NFL running back Herschel Walker, who on the first night of the Repugnant National Convention claimed (beginning at 1:36 of this video)

It hurt my soul to hear the terrible names that people called Donald. The worst one is "racist." I take it as a personal insult that people would think I've had a 37-year friendship with a racist. People who think that don't know what they're talking about.

I'll let one of Twitter's most passionate dog owners respond:

I've had friendships with atheists and white evangelicals; with black evangelicals and white bigots; with Democrats, Republicans, and Independents; with Green Party voters and libertarians. Most of us have, and it proves nothing.

And so Herschel Walker has indeed had a "37-year friendship" with a racist. An early clue was Donald joining his father in the latter's practice of refusing to rent to blacks in the 1960s. Later clues were in abundance with a series of racially charged remarks Donald has made over theyears. A more recent clue is

I am a white person (a shock, I know.) We know what Donald Trump was talking about. (Unfortunately, most whites who will be, or consider, voting for Trump unfortunately agree with him about this.)

 And now, because Donald Trump is determined that voters fully understand what he is, we have


 

 "Let's be nice," he says with a smile, followed by "this could only happen in North Carolina," which is a shout-out, and far from an insult, to voters in a swing state.

This is not John McCain's Republican Party anymore. (It probably never was.) It is now Donald Trump's Republican Party, owned by the President lock, stock, and barrel (in Second Amendment terms).  He's a racist, Herschel. Own it. It's yours.

 


Monday, August 24, 2020

The Spirit Of George Wallace Re-Emerges


 George Corley Wallace, America's most infamous segregationist of the 21st century lives.


 

Not literally, of course; because he died over 20 years ago. However, unless publications of the far left and the far right have manufactured this story, the ideas of George Wallace live on in the most unexpected place, New York City, NY.

The World Socialist Web Site maintains "Since late June, the Office of Residential Life and Housing Services at New York University (NYU) has been working closely with a small, student-led task force to make racially segregated housing a reality in undergraduate student dorms."   According to TheFederalist, the first line of a petition submitted at that time to the college began

"We, members of the Black student body, demand that NYU implement Black student housing on campus in the vein of themed engagement floors across first-year and upperclassmen residence halls." The first demand listed on the petition is to create  “floors completely comprised of Black-identifying students with Black Resident Assistants.”

If this group of segregationists has its way, segregation wouldn't be limited to housing because another proposal is "creating a black student lounge on campus" because of the need for "safe spaces."

If these demands are granted, the university will have taken a major step in preventing the "race mixing" segregationists of old vehemently decried.  The irony is the parallel between the black activists and and traditional segregationists. Old school segregationists believed blacks belonged to an inferior race';  the thrust for safe spaces suggests that blacks simply cannot handle being thrown in with whites. Blacks must have a place, proponents believe, where they can avoid non-whites- or as many of us would characterize it, a multi-cultural society.

This approach, which evidently is not unique to NYU, is unlikely to face criticism from either of our major political parties. Republicans will view this as giving their constituents an opportunity to avoid African-Americans.

Neither will Democrats object. In her speech accepting nomination as vice-president, Kamala Harris last week spoke of "structural racism," citing inequities in education, technology, health care, housing, job security, transportation, reproductive and maternal health care, "the excessive use of force by police and in our broader criminal justice system."

She did not speak of segregation, either in its old form or its new form. And when she lamented "there is no vaccine for racism," she cited George Floyd and Breonna Taylor," rather than all victims of excessive police force or the effort of too many whites and many blacks to set one group against another.

The Republican Party is unbothered by the effort of those institutions dominated by whites to discriminate against minorities. Kamala Harris and the Party she is determined to lead in the foreseeable future are troubled by the pervasiveness of oppression of minorities. It is yet to be proven that either is bothered by segregation in American institutions.

George C. Wallace lives on.



Sunday, August 23, 2020

Cancel Those Men!


The Al Franken purity test lives on.

Franken resigned from the United States Senate on January 2, 2018.  A photo had emerged of him holding his hand in front of the breast of USO co-star and Republican activist Lee Ann Tweeden in 2006.  Outrage ensued and several other women claimed they had been sexually harassed by Franken. The Senator called for an investigation by the Senate Select Committee on Ethics but the notion of due process, increasingly an outmoded concept in American government, was superseded by a call from 35 of his Democratic colleagues for his resignation.

When Franken was hounded from office, his Minnesota constituents were deprived both of the individual they had placed in office and the opportunity to cast their judgement in a subsequent election. A few of Franken's colleagues soon thereafter expressed regret at their rash determination of guilt but Democrats still periodically demand the scalp of one of their own.

Nineteen year old Aaron Coleman had won the Democratic nomination State Representative in Kanssas when he was interviewed by GlennGreenwald, who explained the nominee now had been accused of

serious misconduct in which he engaged when he 12 and 13 years old as a middle school student. Specifically, as a middle school student, Coleman bullied several of his female classmates, including one who says that when they were in sixth grade, she attempted suicide due to his incessant mocking of her physical appearance. The worst event was when Coleman obtained from the internet a nude photo of one his middle school classmates, and demanded more photos from her upon threat of publishing the one he had, which he made good on when she refused.

That middle school behavior is horrific, and several of the the girls say, credibly, that they suffered greatly. During the campaign, Coleman, when confronted with the accusations, immediately acknowledged that they were true, said he was deeply ashamed of what he did when he was 12 and 13, characterized his actions as the behavior of a “sick boy,” and says that as an adult he has reformed and evolved past the pathologies he suffered and is no longer the child from a very troubled and deprived background who did that. He cites the fact that there have been no similar accusations lodged against him in the past five years since he left junior high.

 Coleman was much younger when he misbehaved than was Franken, whose actions were less serious and merely alleged. Still, just as Franken was eager to get the facts of the accusations out

Coleman says he has reached out to his victims from middle school to make amends, though they have not responded, and says he is eager to speak to them should they wish so he can do what he can to repair the damage he caused. He also insists that society bears the burden along with him of repairing similar damage — by better funding public schools so that impoverished kids like him do not end up lost and abused by a failing system, and by providing services to victims of school bullying and other forms of childhood abuse to obtain the help they need.

A party hemorrhaging support among working-class whites might be interested in a young politician whose life story is

vanishingly rare to see among elected political officials. Raised by a father who could not work due to severe mental health disabilities and a mother who is an under-employed teacher, Coleman’s childhood was one of poverty, at times not knowing where his next meal would come from. After dropping out of high school, he enrolled at a local community college in Kansas City to obtain his GED, and now splits his time between community college classes and his job as a part-time, hourly-wage dishwasher.

Unlike Stan Frownfelter, whom Coleman defeated in the primary and who had joined his GOP colleagues in restricting reproductive rights, Coleman supports

universal health care coverage, raising the minimum wage, state-funded trade schools, a Green New Deal, full reproductive rights for women, and the legalization of cannabis, with new revenue from marijuana sales going to public schools and to create free trade schools.



However- or maybe therefore- the Kansas State Democratic Party declared its intent to mount a heavily financed write-in campaign on behalf of Frownfelter.  And now Aaron Coleman, a young, working-class candidate who supports compassionate causes his Party claims it favors, has been drummed out of the race. Among the arguments made on behalf of Coleman, one stands out as emblematic of today's Democratic Party. He noted

Just this week, the Democratic National Convention hosted as a speaker a convicted murderer named Donna Hylton, who committed one of the most gruesome crimes imagainable not as a junior high student but as an adult: she participated in a group that over the course of fifteen days kidnapped, tortured, starved, raped and then murdered a man for ransom. She spent her prison time becoming a criminal justice advocate and the DNC gave her a platform at their Convention based on the belief that we should affirm the right of human beings to be rehabilitated even when they commit the most barbaric murders and rapes as an adult, let alone as a young child.

There are many reasons the national Democratic Party, circa 2020, would welcome a felon who was involved in the brutal murder while a state party would destroy the political career of one of its own. Perhaps the fault lies with the national party, displaying its undying devotion to criminal justice reform while nominating for President and Vice-President the two candidates who have proudly opposed it. A contributing factor likely is that Hylton, like the vice-presidential nominee, is not African-American but Jamaican-American (and Hylton actually was born there).

Or perhaps it's the behavior of the Kansas state party which is destructive, choosing to eat its own, especially because the nominee in this case is a progressive. But if so, it is following the script of the national party, which saw an effective, progressive United States senator and decided that the siren call of political correctness was too much to resist.

 


Saturday, August 22, 2020

Both Sides, Wrong


A pox on both their houses:

At an event at which President Trump himself spoke

A union representing tens of thousands of New York City police officers endorsed President Trump for re-election on Friday, citing what leaders said was Mr. Trump’s defense of the authorities and concern for public safety at a time they said their members have been “under attack.”

At a rally held at Mr. Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J., and attended by roughly 100 people, the head of the Police Benevolent Association, which represents about 24,000 rank-and-file officers, said he could not remember another time the union had endorsed a candidate for president.

“Across this country, police officers are under attack. Our neighborhoods are being ripped apart by violence and lawlessness,” Patrick J. Lynch, the union president, said in a statement released by the Trump campaign, which echoed rhetoric often espoused by Mr. Trump. “Most politicians have abandoned us, but we still have one strong voice speaking up in our defense.”

Note the date: Friday, August 14, 2020. The endorsement significantly came before the Democratic non-gathering at which

Philonise Floyd — the brother of George Floyd, the unarmed Black man who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis in May, and whose death help spark global protests — spoke for almost two minutes on the convention’s opening night.

“George should be alive today,” Philonise Floyd said, before mentioning other Black Americans who have lost their lives due to police brutality. “Ahmaud Arbery should be alive today. Eric Garner should be alive today. Stephon Clark, Atatiana Jefferson, Sandra Bland — they should all be alive today.”

He concluded his list with a call to action before leading viewers in a moment of silence. “It’s up to us to carry on the fight for justice,” he added.

This is the same Philonese Floyd who in a pre-recorded message in June urged the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate police brutality in America, arguing

....you have the power to help us get justice for my brother George Floyd.  I am asking you to help him.  I am asking you to help me. I am asking you to help us. Black people in America....

The officers showed no mercy, no humanity and tortured my brother to death in the middle of the street in Minneapolis with a crowd of witnesses watching and begging them to stop, showing us black people the same lesson yet again: black lives do not matter in the United States of America.


 


Black lives do not matter in the United States of America. Aside from this being a ludicrous generalization, someone should have informed Mr. Floyd (on the off-chance it would have mattered) that

 

That is the group Philonese Floyd wants to pass judgement on human rights in the United States of America.  Echoing this one-sided perspective, Michelle Obama at the convention claimed "And here at home, as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and a never-ending list of innocent people of color continue to be murdered."

Continue to be murdered. She did not mean by other blacks- or whites- in the streets and homes of a very violent society, nor periodically by rogue or unqualified police.  According to the wife of a former two-term Democratic president, it is not a country in which "innocent people of color are too-often murdered" (by police)- but of one in which they continue to be murdered, and regularly. (And Asian-Americans might be surprised to learn that they are among the "people of color" regularly murdered by law enforcement officers.)

The endorsement of the incumbent President by the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association in New York City is not justified, or even explained by, the stance on police brutality or racial bias in policing. It took place four days before the opening of a convention in which a national party laid down a marker.

When there is interaction between a black woman or man and a law enforcement officer on the streets of America, one side is fully to blame while the other side is blameless. President Trump has encouraged cops to bust heads of suspects. National Democrats have made it clear that if there is a conflict between an officer and an alleged offender, the latter always deserves the benefit of the doubt, any doubt, and conclusions are to be drawn swiftly.

These extreme perspectives are both wrong. The consequences over the next several years will not be pretty, nor harmless.

 


Friday, August 21, 2020

With Feeling


"But amid the prime-time lineup,"  Christopher Cadelago and Natasha Korecki wrote in Politico Thursday morning

that nodded to the past (the Obamas and the Clintons), or to the moment (Joe and Jill Biden), Harris’ address Wednesday served as the de facto convention keynote and clinched her status as the embodiment of its future establishment wing and the likely inheritor of their coalitions.

If successful in being elected and nudging Joe Biden out of running for a second term, Kamala Harris will indeed be the inheritor of the Clinton/Obama coalition. Moreover, the convention stood as strong evidence of the enduring legacy of Bill Clinton.

It's not only the Clinton who repealed Glass-Steagall with the Graham-Leach-Bliley Act, embodied in nomination by the "liberal" Democratic Party of a ticket of staunch defenders of the Wall Street establishment. Nor is it selection by the Party as its presidential nominee the man who as recently as 2015 referred to as the "Biden Crime Bill" the law signed by President Clinton which allegedly was the root of the mass incarceration which the remarkable protests of spring 2020 supposedly were intended to protest.

It was more the disposition, the spirit, the temperament which the candidate and almost everyone else at the recently-concluded national convention successfully evoked.

Will Bunch writes

More than any political convention in my lifetime, the 2020 virtual DNC hung on a theme that could be summed up in one word: Empathy. The empathy and ability to relate to everyday folks that has defined Biden’s 50 years in the public eye, the empathy that is so lacking in a president unable to acknowledge the enormity of 170,000 coronavirus dead, the empathy that was beamed into your living room Tuesday night from a windswept Montana prairie and a Mississippi HBCU.

Joe Biden is more-  maybe much more- sincere than Bill Clinton, albeit not a high bar to eclipse.Empathy, though, is merely shorthand for "feeling your pain." Demonstrating empathy, especially as compared to explaining policy or defending his political past, is in the nominee's wheelhouse, whether for a Comcast executive or an individual needing support.  That's why we had this:



The convention could have been comprised of various disparate parts but instead clung to its theme, one believable as applied to Biden. Moreover, it contrasts dramatically with the soulless incumbent, who can say only "itis what it is" of 1,000 Americans dying daily from a novel coronavirus.  The elevation of feelings over ideas, and sometimes even over reality, courses through American society and was dramatized over the last few nights.  It may be Joe Biden's ticket to victory- and it began in presidential politics with the hugely successful Bill Clinton.



 


Thursday, August 20, 2020

Defund The Police, Alternatives


Third in a series.

Naiya Speight-Leggett, a representative of Black Youth Project 100, which is closely allied with Black Lives Matter, gave it all away recently. Saying the quiet part out loud, In June Speight-Leggett admitted of her organization's plan for the District of Columbia 

When we say "defund P.D." we mean to get the budget to zero. We are working towards an abolitionist future, where we don't have police and we don't have policing..... reform is not enough because the system itself is intended to do what it is doing now.

Less than four months earlier, The Washington Post had noted

D.C. has become safer and has seen a steady drop in violent crime over the years. Once the “murder capital” of the nation, homicides in the District hit a 20-year low in 2012. But after years of declines or plateaus, the number of homicides in the District of Columbia began a sharp climb in 2018, hitting an uncomfortable milestone last year: 166, the highest number of homicides since 2008.

Already this year, the District is on pace with that record, with 25 homicides so far this year — compared to 26 this time last year.

And earlier this week, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported

Three teenagers were among five people shot just before midnight Saturday in North Philadelphia when an outdoor gathering of more than 200 mostly young people turned chaotic as “several” men began shooting at police, authorities said. And for the second consecutive weekend in the city, shooting victim totals reached the mid-20s, according to police reports. “It’s disturbing, it’s disheartening,” Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said of the weekend’s continuation of a violent trend, which included six more shootings involving two deaths in the 4½ hours after she spoke to reporters shortly before 2 a.m. at the North Philly scene at North 10th and Brown Streets....

At least 25 people were shot last weekend, including two 11-year-olds, and six people at a playground near the Philadelphia Zoo. That brought to more than 1,130 the total number of people shot in the city this year — a 36% increase over the same span last year and an annual pace higher than any since at least 2007, The Inquirer reported. Homicides were up 31% at 259 people.

It's merely a guess but defunding police departments probably won't inspire young men to give up voluntarily their instruments of death.

Donald Trump and to a lesser extent Tucker Carlson and other Republicans attribute crime to "Democrat-run cities." Obviously, that's inaccurate; it's more often the case that GOP governors exacerbate the crime problem by their hostility toward cities, exemplified by Maryland governor Larry Hogan killing the "Red Line" light rail project in Baltimore.

Funding of police departments often could be reduced in areas with relatively few social problems, such as most affluent suburbs and rural areas. Stopping, detaining, and ticketing traffic scofflaws is far less important than addressing the violence associated with urban centers of high unemployment and poverty. While Black Lives Matter and other activists would like to eviscerate police departments everywhere, their emphasis consistently has been on those municipalities, especially cities, with large black populations.

Those frequently experience the highest crime rates, and in which well-funded police departments therefore are most crucial.  Financial resources are most likely to be constrained in those jurisdictions. They typically would from regionalization of police departments. That's a hard sell which would provoke considerable resistance in most locations but is a critically needed reform. 

Few activist groups would advocate that, however. Their emphasis is on curbing and undermining police, notwithstanding their necessity in the community. They have no interest in bolstering a department's effectiveness by improving its relationship with the community, which might impede the goal of eliminating the department altogether.

Similarly, their interest in the oft-mentioned diversion of money from law enforcement officers to social workers and/or social service agencies also is suspect. Otherwise, we'd hear more about this:



This project in Kansas City, Missouri may not be as benign or effective as it's portrayed. Local news outlets are not The New York Times or The Washington Post, nor do they engage in much investigative journalism. Most of their information comes from the agency or the company they report on.  However, embedding a social worker or, .preferably, a few in a major police department probably would improve considerably the lives of urban dwellers, especially those in the most troubled neighborhoods. It is bold, creative, and seemingly sensible, thus unlikely to attract the interest of Republicans, conservatives, or Black Lives Matters activists.

 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Defunding The Police, Meaning


Second in a series.

As noted in my post immediately prior, Senator Kamala Harris has stated

Again, we need to reimagine how we are addressing public safety in America and to have cities where one-third of their entire budget is going into policing but yet there is a dire need in these same cities for mental health resources - for resources going into public schools, for resources going into job training and, and job creation

This was in response to an inquiry from Meghan McCain as to what "defunding police" means. The former Attorney General of the State of California believes the phrase means reducing a city's policing budget and replacing it with resources for mental health, public schools, job training, and job training.

That is inaccurate on two levels. Dictionary.com defines "defund" as "1- to withdraw financial support from, especially as an instrument of legislative control; and 1- to deplete the financial resources of."

"Police" means- well, the guys and gals in uniforms, generally bearing firearms, paid for by the public sector.

It shouldn't be necessary to "go dictionary." But evidently it is, because Senator Harris believes it means to take some money from one actor and to give it to another. And as luck would have it, Black Lives Matter gives it a different, expanded definition:

As illustrated at 2:37 of the video below, Black Lives Matter Managing Director Kailee Scales argues that "defund the police" means (emphasis BLM's):

FIRST: Demand that lawmakers support reparations for all families of those killed
 and survivors of police violence.

SECOND: Demand that every State, city and municipality spend LESS on law enforcement and incarceration. Period.
  
FINALLY:    Demand investment into Black communities.  It is not enough to defund the police, we need to put in place systems to uplift and protect BLACK communities.


 


Reparations for all families of those killed and survivors of police violence presumably would include money for every suspect who is not only shot by a police officer but who is in any way assaulted or touched by an officer. That is why BLM uses the word "violence," whose meaning is almost infinitely elastic. The public would pay individuals who have been injured- or not- in the process of the police trying to subdue or arrest a suspect. The program would be both fiscally and politically untenable.

Some governments should spend less on law enforcement. One suspects, however, that BLM is not referring to the police officers handing out summons for speeding in affluent suburban communities or rural areas. More likely targeted is a city such as Baltimore, which last year suffered more murders than in any year except 1993, when it's population was nearly 125,000 lower. 

Decreasing the number of police on the streets probably wouldn't go over too well in the Anacostia section of Washington, D.C., either. Reducing police presence would be no gift to residents in the hardest-hit, often black, neighborhoods, and is no way to "protect black communities."

Black Lives Matter wants investment in black communities. That would be wise policy, given that those are the municipalities most often suffering from inadequate education, high unemployment, decrepit housing, poor health outcomes, and troubling incidence of crime.

But the investment shouldn't be limited to black communities. BLM wants the color of residents' skin to determine the level of investment. (Helpfully, they've even written "black" in all caps.) Some of us prefer different criterion, that the conditions the organization claims to be concerned about determine the push for funding.

Black Lives Matter is the driving force behind the important and very visible black lives movement and therefore should not escape scrutiny. Its focus is not on poor people or poor communities nor even, as its emphasis on emasculating police departments indicates, on reduction of crime in black neighborhoods. Whether its definition of "defund the police" is accurate- and it's not- its prescription would mean more violence and death on city streets. 



Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Defunding The Police, Harris


(First in a series.)

In June, Meghan McCain on The View asked Kamala Harris what "defund the police" means- not to Harris but what it actually means. In the video below, which includes Young Turks Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian approving the Californian's perspective, Harris responds (beginning at 1:30 below) in pertinent part

Again, we need to reimagine how we are addressing public safety in America and to have cities where one-third of their entire budget is going into policing but yet there is a dire need in these same cities for mental health resources - for resources going into public schools, for resources going into job training and, and job creation.



More funding from wherever is a good idea even for those unspecified, undefined "mental health resources." More resources going into public schools would appeal to supporters of both traditional public schools and of charter schools- which, because they are funded by taxpayers, are considered public schools. They undermine the nation's public school system, but whatever.

It's difficult to argue against "job training" and "job creation"- until we drill down on what that means. Municipalities traditionally pursue jobs aggressively. When Amazon in 2017 announced plans for a second headquarters, it received proposals from 238 cities from 43 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, seven Canadian provinces, and three Mexican  Defunding of the police is not necessary for municipalities to seek new jobs.

Job training is neo-liberal code for "the problem isn't the structure of the economy, it's you."  As a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee study in 2013 found of Wisconsin, "the obsession with an imaginary skills gap and the policy focus on training and workforce development is, at best, a sideshow and, at worst, a distraction from the real labor market challenges..." 

Harris' response is based on the (false) premise that were funds for police departments drastically cut, the extra money would be appropriated for social services. But this is not 1980, the year before Ronald (6) Wilson (6) Reagan (6) was inaugurated as President.  We are now in roughly the 40th year of budget cutting mania, in which the chief proponent of a balanced budget- a Republican- was given a speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention. Holding down government spending (except for the Pentagon) is, after all our ills have been exposed, an unquestioned virtue. It will be rampant if a Democrat is elected President.

Harris' response came more than three months into the pandemic. She knew (or should have known) that restoration of funding for needed services will  be given the highest priority- aside from holding down taxes.  The federal government can print or borrow money almost at will, as it is now doing out of necessity because of the novel coronavirus. However, state (except, on a limited basis, Vermont) and municipal governments have no such luxury.

Still, I could have been impressed with the Senator's answer,  She would have been bold had she argued for increased social services and acknowledged that it would not happen without a broad-based tax increase or a wealth tax.  Alas, had Kamala Harris done so, she would not have been Kamala Harris.

 


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