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Archive for the ‘GOP’ Category

“Police Blinded Me in One Eye. I Can Still See Why My Country’s on Fire.”

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Linda Tirado writes in The New Republic:

I have been weeping since Friday night, because that is the night I was shot in the face. I have, since then, begun to piece together what happened to me: It wasn’t a rubber bullet, it was a foam bullet. I was standing near Minneapolis’s Third Police Precinct. I will not regain sight in my left eye. I will need more surgeries. But I have not been crying for my lost vision; rather, it feels as though my body is reacting to what is happening to my country.

This has been coming for years; anyone with wisdom has felt it in their bones. You cannot elevate to leadership the most base elements of humanity, the most amoral and reckless and cruel, and think that things will go well for the nation. Back in 2016, a week or so before the presidential election, I wrote a piece about how Donald Trump’s campaign speeches were openly fascist, how they spiked fear in those parts of my soul that remember being raised as a nativist. Back then, you couldn’t say Trumpism was a form of fascism—it was considered a bit hysterical.

That remained true in mainstream consensus throughout 2017 and 2018. Sometime last year, more people started to realize that the norms were shattering, and they weren’t reassembling by way of any magnetic properties of self-healing constitutionalism. It was after we put migrant kids in camps and after the president started encouraging people to batter the press and after impeachment, but before the current stage of authoritarian collapse, which has us gassing clergy and desecrating churches for photo ops. Fascism is always a slow slide into routinized mayhem, noticeable to most people only in retrospect.

Since I was shot, I have been worldwide front-page news: China is using my bloodied face as propaganda, for instance. Hundreds, if not thousands, of interview requests have flooded in. All anyone wants to talk about is freedom of the press, if I am angry, what I will do next. I think that I am angry—but no more than I was this time last week, when I was watching America burn for the pleasure of our vainglorious leader. I lost an eye; George Floyd lost his life. What right do I have to rage on my own behalf?

I rage instead on behalf of my country, for the hundreds of millions of people who were appalled when Trump administration officials tried to change the words of Emma Lazarus into a brief for white resentment. I rage for the irony of the line “yearning to breathe free,” because we would not have our cities ablaze had our leadership cared an instant for the freedom or breath of those it considers its opposition, which is to say the citizenry.

If we must talk about press freedom, we must also talk about the First Amendment’s absolute guarantee of freedom of peaceable assembly—and the fact that it is the police, not some mythic rogue formation of antifa saboteurs, who are escalating conflicts. We know this because journalists keep documenting it, and because any person in a demonstration can become a momentary journalist if they have a cell phone and a data connection. We have seen the violent thugs in their stormtrooper uniforms joyfully unleashing violence, spitting on citizens during a pandemic, running civilians over with their SUVs, saying fuck your rights—and worse, fuck your life.

I have lost half of my vision, but I lack no clarity: There can be no peace without justice, and no justice without full-throated, damningly righteous anger. I am asked over and over again why are people burning and looting, and I wonder what anyone thinks they would do if they spent their whole lives being told they were lesser than and not equal, and then one day they woke up to a police state.

We saw this six years ago in Ferguson, Missouri, where I was embedded for weeks in the protest zone, sleeping in a tent with a group of youths who called themselves Lost Voices. It’s important to remember that the designated protest zone was about five blocks of a street called Florissant—and that people lived in cul-de-sacs off that street. That meant they had to drive through the tear gas and chaos to take their children home safely. Once police gassed the children, mothers broke down the glass door of the McDonald’s trying to get milk for their babies’ eyes. Employees were throwing milk to them, rushing to the back cooler to get more because tear gas is self-evidently bad for children. None of this got mentioned in the next day’s reporting from the mainstream press, which simply recited that the McDonald’s was looted.

A few days after that, I was taking photos on the highway where protesters were blocking traffic. Media were behind concrete barriers, clearly working as press rather than participants. An officer dressed all in black with plastic shin guards and elbow pads, dangling zip ties from his belt, pepper-sprayed me point-blank in the face. I have a picture of him somewhere, three feet away from me, shot when my camera was staring down the muzzle of his chemical weapon, and the hatred and glee twisting his face still gives me nightmares.

I am thinking about him a lot in recent days, as I watch footage of TV crews being arrested on live air and police spraying what they call “less lethal” rounds into crowds indiscriminately. I am thinking about him as I scroll Twitter, where brave men hide behind burner accounts to tell me “play stupid games win stupid prizes”—alt-right shorthand for calling me a traitor, to either the country or my race. In their discursive world, good white ladies are not supposed to scream that Black lives matter or point out the bigotry inherent in a system of law enforcement that started with slave patrols. White women, to those kinds of men, are not supposed to do much of anything except be quiescent until it is time to have babies or furnish a sexual pretext for some good old-fashioned racism. We are certainly not supposed to refuse to learn our lesson, even after we have been punished by having an eye put out.

Perhaps my best and worst quality is my defiance: I am . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 June 2020 at 3:48 pm

James Mattis Denounces President Trump, Describes Him as a Threat to the Constitution

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This is highly unusual. Jeffrey Goldberg writes in the Atlantic:

James Mattis, the esteemed Marine general who resigned as secretary of defense in December 2018 to protest Donald Trump’s Syria policy, has, ever since, kept studiously silent about Trump’s performance as president. But he has now broken his silence, writing an extraordinary broadside in which he denounces the president for dividing the nation, and accuses him of ordering the U.S. military to violate the constitutional rights of American citizens.

“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled,” Mattis writes. “The words ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.” He goes on, “We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.”

In his j’accuse, Mattis excoriates the president for setting Americans against one another. . .

Mattis’s dissatisfaction with Trump was no secret inside the Pentagon. But after his resignation, he argued publicly—and to great criticism—that it would be inappropriate and counterproductive for a former general, and a former Cabinet official, to criticize a sitting president. Doing so, he said, would threaten the apolitical nature of the military. When I interviewed him last year on this subject, he said, “When you leave an administration over clear policy differences, you need to give the people who are still there as much opportunity as possible to defend the country. They still have the responsibility of protecting this great big experiment of ours.” He did add, however: “There is a period in which I owe my silence. It’s not eternal. It’s not going to be forever.”

That period is now definitively over. Mattis reached the conclusion this past weekend that the American experiment is directly threatened by the actions of the president he once served. In his statement, Mattis makes it clear that the president’s response to the police killing of George Floyd, and the ensuing protests, triggered this public condemnation. . .

Here is the text of the complete statement.

IN UNION THERE IS STRENGTH

I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.

We must reject any thinking of our cities as a “battlespace” that our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate.” At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict—between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.

James Madison wrote in Federalist 14 that “America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.” We do not need to militarize our response to protests. We need to unite around a common purpose. And it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are equal before the law.

Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that “The Nazi slogan for destroying us…was ‘Divide and Conquer.’ Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.’” We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.

We can come through this trying time stronger, and with a renewed sense of purpose and respect for one another. The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country. We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.

Only by adopting a new path—which means, in truth, returning to the original path of our founding ideals—will we again be a country admired and respected at home and abroad.

See also: From the June 2020 issue: We are living in a failed state

And: From the July/August 2020 issue: History will judge the complicit

Written by LeisureGuy

3 June 2020 at 4:54 pm

“I’m a priest. The police forced me off church grounds for Trump’s photo op.”

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Gina Gerbasi, the rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, in Georgetown, writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

When I arrived in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lafayette Square on Monday, bringing granola bars and cases of water, the mood was upbeat. I couldn’t have imagined the grotesque scene that would unfold hours later — that the police would shove us out of the way with riot shields, pepper balls and smoke canisters, to clear a path for President Donald Trump.

It was 4 p.m. by the time I got to the church. People were milling about the St. John’s patio: 20 to 30 protesters, who sat on the steps, or drank some water, watching the action across the street, and 20 clergy and parishioners from churches around the city. Our plan was to be there until 6:30 p.m., offering peaceful, prayerful support. A team from Black Lives Matter had set up a first aid area, with boxes of bandages and first aid supplies and bottles of eyewash.

Demonstrators packed H street, Lafayette Square and the end of 16th street. Heading north up 16th, they were scattered in clumps and pairs, carrying signs and chanting: “Say his name: George Floyd!” It wasn’t quiet — you could hear cheers from the protests — but it was peaceful. My colleagues and I passed out water and snacks. People exchanged prayers and elbow bumps. Things were so calm that, by 6 p.m., most of my colleagues had left. I decided to stay until I could no longer be useful; so did my church’s seminarian, Julia, who is also a trauma nurse. The BLM medical folks taught me how to do an eye wash and gave me medical gloves. We waited, hopeful our services wouldn’t be needed.

The curfew wasn’t due to take effect until 7 p.m. But around 6:15 p.m., everything shifted. The crowd grew tense as police started to move out of the park. Trails of smoke come from Lafayette Square, followed by clouds of acrid smoke billowing through the crowds. People began to run north on 16th street and onto the St. John’s patio, some coming for eyewash, wet paper towels or water. The first flash grenade rang out, sounding like gunfire, and some people dropped to the ground, thinking that the police were shooting.

People ran toward us, and there was yelling and panic. We called out, “Water! Eyewash!” Julia and I were washing out protesters’ eyes and feeling it ourselves. I was coughing; Julia’s eyes were red, swollen and tearing. There was a shout that someone was hurt, and Julia ran to help. When she came back, she told me that she had seen police on horseback approaching. The seminary team decided it was time to leave.

Minutes later, the intensity of the flash grenades and gas clouds increased, as the police began pushing protesters out of the park and onto H Street. More people ran in our direction, crying from the smoke, and from fear. Someone yelled “rubber bullets,” and I looked up from washing someone’s eyes to see a man holding his stomach, bent over. He moved his arms, and I saw marks on his shirt. When I looked over his shoulder, I couldn’t believe my eyes. A wall of police, in full riot gear, was physically pushing people off the St. John’s patio, maybe 15 feet away from me.

The BLM team, far more experienced than I, said, we’ve got to go. They picked up what they could of the medical supplies and quickly dropped back, around 30 feet to the north. I was so stunned, all I grabbed was a few water bottles. I was still clutching my bottle of eyewash, and I rushed to join the medical volunteers. What was happening? It’s not even 7 p.m., I thought. Why were they doing this?

I walked through the crowds — “Water? Eyewash?” — and bent over folks, washing eyes or pouring solution on paper towels or handkerchiefs. We got pushed back again. We had not intended to be on the front lines, but the police had literally pushed the front line across the park, then H street, then the patio of St. John’s. More flashes, more smoke, more panic. I ran out of water and found the BLM medical staff at K street, which was now the “back of the line.” I gave them the rest of my eyewash bottle. I was scared. I had had enough. They were so brave.

As I walked to where I’d parked, I could still hear occasional bangs. I peeled off the two layers of blue medical gloves and put them in my pocket to throw away later. My phone started to ping. In their messages, colleagues, friends and family asked where I was, and whether the president was really going to speak in front of St. John’s. No way, I replied. It’s crazy out here. I can still hear it. I got to the car. My sister texted, Gini, they’re showing him on the news right now, walking across the park!

I drove home. Then Julia texted me: Did we really just get gassed for a PHOTO OP? My revulsion was immediate and strong, the reality of what happened sinking in: The president had used military-grade force against peaceful protesters, so he could pose with a Bible in front of the church. I sat in my driveway and wept.

Before taking my current position as the rector of St. John’s in Georgetown, I had served as assistant rector at Lafayette Square. I understood the symbolism of its location, steps away from the White House. It’s known as . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 June 2020 at 11:43 am

Grim times

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James Fallows has one of his time-capsule columns worth reading in its entirety. One passage:

On May 14, The Financial Times published a long, reported piece by its correspondent Edward Luce, about the character of the man leading the federal effort. Its closing words, quoting the lawyer (and Trump critic) George Conway, were:

Without exception, everyone I interviewed, including the most ardent Trump loyalists, made a similar point to Conway. Trump is deaf to advice, said one. He is his own worst enemy, said another. He only listens to family, said a third. He is mentally imbalanced, said a fourth. America, in other words, should brace itself for a turbulent six months ahead—with no assurance of a safe landing.

On May 17, Lachlan Cartwright, Asawin Suebaeng, and Lachlan Markay of the Daily Beast published another long, reported piece saying that Peter Thiel—Facebook board member, and co-founder of PayPal, who had given a nominating speech for Trump at the 2016 Republican convention in Cleveland—was souring on Trump. It included this quote, parallel to what Luce had reporterd:

“Everybody goes into the Trump relationship woodchipper,” said Trump’s former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who worked on the Trump presidential transition team with Thiel and who had his own falling-out with the president. “You either come out on the other side with your dignity and your personal story intact or you’re reformed as Trump compost and you’re fertilizer under his shoe. You have to make a decision and it happens to everyone.”

These were the realities of two weeks in May, five-and-a-half months before the election.

And for the future of the republic, the most important reality may be the continued silence of the congressional Republicans. A few of them spoke up after the Friday-night firing of the State Department inspector general. Mitt Romney, notably, wrote that it was “ a threat to accountable democracy.” Susan Collins, as if immune to self-parody, tweeted out her concern. But as a group, they are silent. They know, and they choose not to speak.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 June 2020 at 9:13 pm

Mark Zuckerberg spoke with civil rights leaders about Trump’s posts. It didn’t go well.

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Mark Zuckerberg is a problem, and apparently a problem that will not go away and is not open to change. Cat Zakrzewski writes in the Washington Post:

Top Facebook executives, including Mark Zuckerberg, spoke with civil rights leaders last night as the company confronts a wave of backlash over its decision not to moderate President Trump’s controversial posts.

But the roughly hour-long call, intended to show the company takes concerns from the black community seriously, only further inflamed tensions.

Color of Change President Rashad Robinson, NAACP Legal Defense Fund president Sherrilyn Ifil and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights chief executive Vanita Gupta immediately blasted Zuckerberg in a statement following the call.

Robinson told me the meeting was “disappointing.”

What was clear coming out of that meeting is Mark has no real understanding of the history or current impact of voter suppression, racism or discrimination. He lives in a bubble, and he defended every decision that he’s made,” Robinson said in a phone interview.

The attendees discussed Facebook’s decision not to label or remove several of Trump’s posts last week, including one that appeared to incite violence against demonstrators that said “when the looting starts the shooting starts.” By contrast, the posts drew a warning from Twitter for violating its platform’s rules about “glorifying violence.”

“Mark is setting a very dangerous precedent for other voices who would say similar harmful things on Facebook,” the civil rights leaders said in the joint statement. The meeting also covered Trump’s post that made misleading claims about mail-in voting, which Twitter labeled but Facebook did not.

Facebook’s poor track record on civil rights issues could come under greater scrutiny as controversy mounts.

The Trump posts are the latest flashpoint in years-long tensions between Facebook and civil rights activists, especially since Russian actors leveraged Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram to broadcast posts aimed at suppressing the black vote in the 2016 election.

The activists say Facebook’s hands-off approach to Trump’s rhetoric underscores that it’s promises to support and work with the black community are empty.

“This is just another reminder that companies will say black lives matter, and then do a whole bunch of things to make it clear that they could care less about black lives,” Robinson said. “Those are two very powerful statements that Facebook is making – making it harder for us to vote and making us more unsafe from a hostile, violence-inciting president.”

Robinson said that Zuckerberg was trying to make the case that it wasn’t inciting necessarily violence, as much as it was promoting the law.

Zuckerberg, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and Facebook vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg spoke on the call, Robinson told me. Joel Kaplan, an executive who has become a lightning rod of criticism both internally and externally for promoting conservative positions in Facebook’s leadership, was also on the call but did not speak, Robinson said.

Just days before, Zuckerberg had a phone call with Trump about the decision not to moderate his posts.

The president had been mounting an aggressive campaign to pressure social media companies not to label or otherwise moderate his posts in the wake of Twitter’s unprecedented decision to label a pair of his tweets that made false claims about mail-in voting. The president signed an executive order last week that would prompt federal regulators to review the scope of Section 230, a legal provision that shields tech companies from lawsuits for the posts and photos on their services.

“It’s clear that the president and potential regulation from the president is in Facebook’s head,” Robinson said.

Twitter, meanwhile, is doubling down on its stand. The company restricted a tweet from Rep. Matt Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), which the company said violated its policies on glorification of violence, according to The Verge. “Now that we clearly see Antifa as terrorists, can we hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East?” the tweet read, before it was hidden from Gaetz’s profile and likes, retweets, and replies were disabled.

Facebook responded by thanking the civil rights leaders for their time.

“We’re grateful that leaders in the civil rights community took the time to share candid, honest feedback with Mark and Sheryl. It is an important moment to listen, and we look forward to continuing these conversations,” Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said in a statement.

Employees expressed disappointment with the leadership’s handling of the call on Twitter.

Brandon Dail, an engineer at Facebook, called the meeting “another half-measure”:

Hundreds of employees yesterday staged a “virtual walkout” in protest of the company’s handling of the Trump posts. Employees at Facebook and Instagram refused to work on Monday in solidarity with protests across the country over the death of George Floyd. They openly expressed their anger with Facebook’s decision not to moderate Trump’s post, largely taking to rival social network Twitter.

The civil rights leaders shared solidarity with the employees’ efforts. 

“I want the employees to know that we see them, and we appreciate them, and we appreciate their speaking up and standing up and pushing back,” Robinson told me in an interview. “That is part of how every bit of change has happened in this country, when people on the inside and people on the outside speak up. And I hope that they accept nothing less than real change — not platitudes, not empathy, but actual real change.”

Zuckerberg is expected to field questions from Facebook employees today. The company moved up its all-hands meeting that was originally scheduled for Thursday as internal backlash against Zuckerberg’s decision mounts.

The walkout marked a rare display of employee rebellion at the social network.

Facebook’s highly in-demand engineers, developers and employees are uniquely positioned to drive policy changes at the company. But until now, they rarely exercised that power as frequently as their peers at other tech companies, such as Google.

But Zuckerberg’s decision could be a turning point. Employees largely did not speak out — and certainly not in as coordinated or large numbers — when the company was embroiled in other high-profile controversies, such as the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal or the fallout from Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

Many employees changed their profile pictures and shared messages of dissent on rival social network Twitter with the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter and #TakeAction. From Katie Zhu, who says on LinkedIn that she is a product manager for Instagram: . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Later in the column:

Zuckerberg may face an uphill battle in addressing employee concerns.

Zuckerberg already had a chance to try to convince them his decision not to moderate Trump’s tweets was justified in an employee during a meeting on Friday.

The chief executive said Facebook would re-examine its policies around politicians discussing the use of state force on the service, Casey Newton reports for The Verge. That process could take weeks.

Zuckerberg also told employees he was unhappy with Trump’s remarks on the platform. “My first reaction … was just disgust,” he said, according to audio that Casey obtained of the meeting. “This is not how I think we want our leaders to show up during this time. This is a moment that calls for unity and calmness and empathy for people who are struggling.”

Facebook attempted to strike a supportive tone in its statement on the employee activism. The company also said it did not require employees who skipped work to use their paid time off to do so.

“We recognize the pain many of our people are feeling right now, especially our Black community,” Stone, the Facebook spokesman, told me. “We encourage employees to speak openly when they disagree with leadership. As we face additional difficult decisions around content ahead, we’ll continue seeking their honest feedback.”

Business partners and advertisers could be the next to challenge Facebook’s policies.

Talkspace, a company that provides therapy online, yesterday said it would pull out of talks for a six-figure deal with Facebook following the company’s decision. The deal was a content partnership, that would also involve Facebook leveraging the mental health app to provide therapy to certain audiences, such as students, CNBC reported.

Though such a deal is a drop in the bucket for a company with the scope and scale of Facebook, it is notable to see a start-up chief executive speak out against a company that many rely on as a key distribution channel. From Talkspace chief executive Oren Frank:

Written by LeisureGuy

2 June 2020 at 9:21 am

President Trump cowers in White House bunker; Joe Biden talks to protestors

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Heather Cox Richardson’s column is, as always, worth reading. I thought today, “Nero tweets while Rome burns.” From her column:

. . . Also notable is that some police officers are attacking protesters and journalists, while others are honoring their badges and listening to the protesters. In some cities, police are escalating the tensions while in others, they are kneeling in a sign of solidarity with the protesters and joining them as they march.

. . . For all the uncertainty, there was one very clear story today. Although he tweeted angrily, Trump stayed out of sight, and from the safety of the White House continued to feed the flames burning America. “The Lamestream Media is doing everything within their power to foment hatred and anarchy,” he tweeted this morning, apparently unmoved by the videos of journalists arrested and shot with rubber bullets last night. “As long as everybody understands what they are doing, that they are FAKE NEWS and truly bad people with a sick agenda, we can easily work through them to GREATNESS.”

He announced “The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization,” although there is actually no organized group of radicals identified as Antifa (a term drawn from “anti-fascist”), and U.S. law does not permit the government to designate domestic groups as terrorist organizations anyway. “FAKE NEWS!” he tweeted, and “LAW & ORDER!”

Trump’s attempt to project strength took on quite a different cast when a New York Times story this evening revealed that he had spent an hour Friday night in the White House underground bunker, where Secret Service had taken him. The Associated Press reported that Trump has told advisors he is worried for his safety, and that he and his family “have been shaken by the size and venom of the crowds,” according to “a Republican close to the White House.”

An A. P. story then offered a doozy of a paragraph: “As cities burned night after night and images of violence dominated television coverage, Trump’s advisers discussed the prospect of an Oval Office address in an attempt to ease tensions. The notion was quickly scrapped for lack of policy proposals and the president’s own seeming disinterest in delivering a message of unity.”

That Trump hid in the White House while he was urging others to violence captures his personality, but it undercuts his carefully crafted image as a man of courage. The leak of this story is itself astonishing: we should not know how a president is being protected, and that Trump is bullying to project an image of being a tough guy while he is actually hiding is a big story, especially since presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was out in the streets talking to protesters today. And to admit that Trump has no policy proposals and has no interest in delivering a message of unity…. Wow.

A curfew goes into effect at 11:00 tonight in Washington, D.C. For the past several days, trouble has begun as peaceful protesters go home, leaving the streets to those spoiling for a fight. As 11:00 hits, crowds around the White House are setting fires and attempting to break into the White House grounds.

Just before the curfew, the lights that usually illuminate the outside of the White House were turned off.

Written by LeisureGuy

31 May 2020 at 10:29 pm

Heather Cox Richardson on May 30

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Dr. Richardson writes:

It is too early to know what is actually happening inside the protests and riots happening in cities across the country, especially Minneapolis, after the murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin there on Monday. That is, we know there are protests and looting and violence, but who is doing what remains unclear, and will stay unclear for a while. There are plenty of videos and tweets, but they can only give us windows into events, not a full picture.

That being said, there do seem to be some patterns emerging.

The protests began as Black Americans and allies protested Floyd’s murder, coming, as it did, after a number of similar murders—such as Breonna Taylor’s, shot in her own home during a botched police raid—that illuminated police brutality against Black Americans. Quickly, though, the protests appeared to turn into something else, as more people—possibly (and I would guess probably) from outside the cities—rushed in to create chaos.

It is not clear who these people are. This morning, Trump tweeted that the protesters at the White House were “professionally organized,” and midday, Attorney General Barr gave a hasty press conference in which he claimed that “outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate and violent agenda.” He said, “in many places, it appears the violence is planned, organized and driven by anarchic and left extremist groups, far-left extremist groups, using antifa-like tactics, many of whom travel from outside the state to promote the violence.”

There is currently no evidence that what Barr said is true.

He went on to say “It is a federal crime to cross state lines or to use interstate facilities to incite or participate in violent rioting, and we will enforce those laws.” After Barr spoke, Trump tweeted: “80% of the RIOTERS in Minneapolis last night were from OUT OF STATE. They are harming businesses (especially African American small businesses), homes, and the community of good, hardworking Minneapolis residents who want peace, equality, and to provide for their families.” He added: “It’s ANTIFA and the Radical Left. Don’t lay the blame on others!”

About the same time Barr was speaking, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter told reporters that “Every single person we arrested last night, I’m told, was from out of state,” and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz estimated that 80% of those destroying property were from out of state. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey added: “We are now confronting white supremacists, members of organized crime, out-of-state instigators, and possibly even foreign actors to destroy and destabilize our city and our region.” The Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said they had begun tracing those they arrested to see if they were part of larger networks.

A preliminary study today by local network KARE found that, in fact, 86% of those arrested were from Minnesota. Of the others, at least one was associated with a white supremacist group.

While we cannot know yet what’s going on now, it is of note that the president has encouraged violence lately in his tweets, retweeting a video in which a supporter says “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat,” and a famous line from segregationist politician George Wallace “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

In some places, police are deescalating protests and things are calming. In others, they seem to be deliberately escalating riots and violence.

In the places the police are escalating the riots, they seem to be targeting journalists and photographers, as well as people of color—there are harrowing videos of young men dragged from cars or from the street and mobbed by officers. Multiple stories tonight tell of journalists arrested or shot with rubber bullets, even after identifying themselves as press. One has lost an eye.

This recalls the president’s constant attacks on the press. He has tweeted the phrases “Fake News” and “Enemy of the People” 796 times, and suggested in a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that he, Trump, should “Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn’t it? You don’t have this problem in Russia [where Putin has journalists killed], but we do.”

If we cannot yet fully know the dynamics of the protests, there are a few things we do know.

First, the protests have wiped from public discussion all the major stories that were distressing Trump: the deadly toll of the coronavirus and his administration’s abysmal response to the pandemic, the skyrocketing unemployment as the economy falters, and Friday’s revelations about his 2016 campaign team’s collaboration with Russian spies.

Second, . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

31 May 2020 at 10:04 am

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