Sunday, May 31, 2020

Walk with us

I didn’t listen to NPR this afternoon (though I did this morning). I decided it would all be protest news and I would rather continue work in the garage while the sun was shining and the air was rather cool (high of 70F today). Even so there is protest news to share.

The vice nasty guy tweeted:
We believe in law and order in this Country. We condemn violence against property or persons. We will always stand for the right of Americans to peacefully protest and let their voices be heard.
I noticed, as did others, that property was put before people. Cara Zelaya tweeted a thread about the phrase “law and order.”
Let's have a little history lesson about the dog-whistle that is the phrase "law and order." When people in positions of power spout the phrase "law and order" you can be pretty confident that they are white-supremacists.
Nixon used it in his 1968 campaign to reassure white people after the riots after the death of MLK. Reagan used it before then in California. He got it from the 1953 movie of that name in which he starred.

In 1964 Goldwater ran against that year’s Civil Rights Act. He lost badly. Nixon still wanted to appeal to the racists of the south – the Southern Strategy – so used this dog whistle.
And that's pretty much why The South is still considered Republican territory. Because the GOP continues to run candidates in that area of the country that do coded-appeals to folks who are racist!

The next time you hear someone say "law and order" perk your ears up and remember that that phrase has a long history of racism, hatred, and bigotry attached to it. They don't want peace, they want white supremacy.

Activist Tamika Mallory was with social justice advocates at a news conference in Minneapolis. First, she pushed back against the claim that most cops are great, there’s just a few bad apples (the phrase that gets used a lot). Said Mallory:
This is a coordinated activity happening across this nation, and so we are in a state of emergency. Black people are dying in a state of emergency. We can not look at this as an isolated incident.
Then concluded with:
Don’t talk to us about looting. Y’all are the looters. America has looted Black people. America looted the Native Americans when they first came here. So looting is what you do. We learned it from you. … The violence was what we learned from you. So if you want us to do better, than damnit you do better.

This is how you do it. In sharp contrast to police around the country who appear to be contributing to the violence… In Flint, Michigan protesters marched to Police Headquarters. The police had on riot gear. The protesters sat to show they were non-violent. Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson, who is white, took off his helmet, set down his batons, took off his riot gear, and asked “What do you need from the police?”

They answered, “Walk with us.” He did.

No one arrested. No one hurt. No damage. The way it’s supposed to be. Thank you, sir.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

The race war they’ve long been itching for

There were more protests in Minneapolis and several other big cities again last night. Walter Einenkel of Daily Kos rounded up comments and tweets. He reminds us that the protest wasn’t just because of the death of George Floyd this week, he gives us a long list of names of black people killed by white people, mostly police.

Einenkel included a thread by tracy to add some context:
black people riot when their anger over being murdered and oppressed reaches a boiling point.

here are some fun reasons why white people have rioted:

their sports team loses

their sports team wins

their sports team's coach leaves to coach somewhere else

they were told they couldn’t party anymore

pumpkins [references a New Hampshire pumpkin festival]

they don’t like straw hats [the 1922 Straw Hat Riot]

because their sports coach left after he covered up child molestation

surfing [at the opening of a surfing store]

cabbage patch kids

black people wanted education [1962 riots over the first black student at University of Mississippi]

& most glaringly of all, because black people were prospering and doing just fine without them. [Tulsa race massacre in 1921]

Einenkel included that protesters caused a notable bit of destruction. The cops that caused the death were from the Third Precinct. Protesters stormed the place (staff fled) and then set it on fire, destroying it. Liz Dwyer tweeted:
This guy on CNN just said there need to be “real consequences” for people burning down the 3rd Precinct. Kinda seems like the people were waiting for “real consequences” for an officer killing a black man but …

Mark Sumner of Kos reported a bit on riots in other cities. He also wrote the Pentagon has ordered soldiers to prepare to deploy to Minneapolis. Sumner ends by writing:
It didn’t start with George Floyd, or with Eric Garner, or with Michael Brown, or even with Rodney King. The protests that followed those events were points in which the community reached a breaking point; in which it was no longer possible to remain silent.

And this time, like every time, there are plenty of white Americans ready to blame the protesters for venting their anger, rather than doing one damn thing about the source. Because this time, like every time, those same Americans count on the Black community to sit down, shut up, and take it — even if that means calling in the military.

In a separate article Sumner collected tweets, some with video, showing that at least some, perhaps most, of the property damage of these riots was not caused by black people, but by white supremacists taking advantage of a situation where black people would be blamed – leading, they hope, to the race war they’ve long been itching for.

Sumner linked to a thread by Joy Reid who wrote:
Remarkable info coming out of this presser: Gov. Tim Walls, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and now MN attorney general Keith Ellison ALL alleging outside forces, domestic and possibly foreign, have post-Tuesday infiltrated the state, and are in organized fashion setting fire to historic businesses in communities of color, and causing mayhem.
Mayor Carter said EVERY person arrested last night during the protests was from out of state. The governor said it is at least 80 percent, and that they will begin releasing the names. Dept of Safety Commissioner John Harrington says they are contract-tracing arrestees. He adds that white nationalist groups are posting messages promoting going to Minneapolis to “get our loot on” and cause mayhem.
This is now a story not just about grief, anger, protest, George Floyd and Black Lives Matter, it’s about infiltration and deliberate mayhem inflicted on the very communities that are hurting — both because of police brutality, and due to covid—per the mayor 1,000 deaths to date.

Yesterday after writing about the spreading riots and the possibility of the military getting involved I felt fearful and wondered if this would be the nasty guy’s Reichstag fire moment. Sumner was thinking the same thing. He explains the term:
Just a month after Adolph Hitler was sworn into power, an arson attack on the home of the German parliament was swiftly blamed on “communist agitators” and used as an excuse to silence, imprison, or murder those whose political positions fell to the left of Nazism. But many historians believe, based on very good evidence, that the fire was actually set by the Nazis themselves, to provide justification for going after other political parties.
Concluded Sumner:
Is this a Reichstag fire moment? Of course it is. Just like every moment, of every day, watching democratic institutions wither and die under Donald Trump.

The news has been full of the 40 million people who have become unemployed in the last two months (well, that’s how many successfully applied for unemployment). Many people have noted over the years that in chaotic times the rich manage to get richer. As is happening now. Einenkel discusses a CNBC report that from mid March to mid May Bezos is richer by $34.6 billion. Yeah, some people consider $34.6 billion to be a pretty fabulous stash – and for him that’s just two months take. Zuckerberg pocketed $25 billion. And American billionaires together added $434 billion.

Yeah, a few lost money – pocket change really – such as Ralph Lauren’s fortune dropping from $5.7 to $5.6 billion.

Back to that net increase of $434 billion. That money could be used to give everyone in the US – adult and child – a $1200 check and still have $50 billion left over.

Their goal isn’t to simply amass a huge fortune. Their goal is to keep that money out of the hands of the lower classes.

I’ve mentioned Bill of Portland, Maine and his Cheers and Jeers column for Kos. His style is usually snarky. But yesterday he did something different. He took his dog for a walk and while they rambled he took photos of signs of encouragement in windows and elsewhere. Bill, who is gay, included a sign in a rainbow of colors that says:
In this home, we believe…
Love is love
Water is life
Black lives matter,
Climate change is real
No human is illegal
Religious diversity is valuable
All genders are whole, holy & good
Women have agency over their bodies

Friday, May 29, 2020

Chaos favors power

Minneapolis had three nights of protest (some with looting) and bracing a for a fourth. The protests were because a cop put his knee on a black man’s neck, causing the man to die.

Quite early this morning Omar Jimenez, a black-Latino CNN reporter, was arrested by Minnesota state police, while his crew’s camera filmed the arrest. Of course, being filmed didn’t stop the city police from killing the black man. Those who have seen the film say it could only be deliberate. CNN reporter Josh Campbell, who is white and working just a couple blocks away, was treated with respect.

The officer with the deadly knee was fired within a day of the incident. He has now been charged with murder and manslaughter.

The nasty guy jumped into the fray, tweeting that the protesters are “THUGS” (a loaded term). Twitter hid the tweet because the language fed the violence. That (and a couple instances of Twitter flagging his lies) has the nasty guy now raging at big tech and trying to use an executive order to attack them. Kerry Eleveld of Daily Kos says the white supremacy the nasty guy is spewing is official White House policy.

Leslie Mac tweeted a call to take a stand against police brutality. She included in her thread a chart of some of the tactics in the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 and how those tactics are still being used in 2015 law enforcement. For example, a tactic from the 1850 act “monitored the rigid pass requirements for black traversing the countryside.” It still lives as “disproportionate search of vehicles driven by POC despite all reports showing this to be ineffective.”

The nasty guy administration has announced a new policy – non profit groups, such as the NRA, that make campaign contributions no longer need to disclose who their biggest donors are. This had been a way to keep foreign money out of our elections. The NRA, Americans for Prosperity, and other big conservative funders have been asking for this shield for a long time and are delighted with the announcement. The nasty guy has, of course, snatched up any foreign coin that comes anywhere near his palm.

The coronavirus task force used to stage daily propaganda events to show the nasty guy is doing everything he can to … something. Joan McCarter of Kos reports the task force, headed by the vice nasty guy, now meets once a week. It’s been sidelined by the nasty guy. That health care workers still don’t have enough protection equipment apparently doesn’t interest him anymore. It seems likely “he's just ending the federal government's response so that he can blame the states for the next 100,000 deaths.”

A while back I had written that Moscow Mitch wants limits to corporate liability from workers who get sick on the job from companies (like meat packers) who don’t provide enough protection. Joan McCarter reports nursing home companies, whose facilities are virus hotspots, are also clamoring for liability protection. So far 20 state governments have provided liability (and, alas, they’re not all GOP-led). The industry is spending millions for this protection – millions not being spent on hiring enough staff to properly care for and protect their residents.

And it leaves a high-risk population even more vulnerable. This is at a time where family can’t check up on the care their loved ones are getting (or not). Wrote McCarter:
Nursing homes account for about 40% of deaths in this pandemic in the U.S.—as far as we know. Some states simply don't release the data, and some states just have terrible reporting overall. The idea that they could have complete immunity from being held accountable for those deaths is horrifying.

Katherine Cross tweeted a thread:
You are being set up to blame each other for the spread of COVID-19 to distract you from the deliberate failures of governments and corporations who've contributed far more to the pandemic.
We shouldn’t get distracted by “shaming porn.” Some people are not going to follow the rules. Allow for that. And governments that have controlled the virus have developed policy that accounts for some people not following the rules. However,
In the US and UK, you're looking at governments steadily abdicating all responsibility, building none of the infrastructure required to manage this crisis over the short and medium-terms. That's what's actually going to get us into trouble.

And this will come full circle. If and when another wave comes, these governments will turn around and say it's *your* fault for not following their instructions, not theirs for failing to develop proper policies. Bear that in mind.

In response to Cross, Eric Loewe linked to an article in The Atlantic titled The Coronavirus Was an Emergency Until Trump Found Out Who Was Dying – as in a lot more black people than white people.

Benjamin Franklin tweeted:
You have been the target of an advanced psychological warfare operation meant to convince you that an imminent solution that will take Trump down is right around the corner. The goal is to pacify you into inaction. This has been going on for four years.
Examples include the Mueller Report, that the federal court in the Southern District of New York would act, that Pelosi had it covered with her ten dimensional chess.
Once you accept that the resistance has been filled with plants whose job it is to tell you we're winning everyday (we have not been winning everyday) to minimize any sense of danger or urgency, you can get out of the trap that has been set for you.

I think we have to be prepared for real protests after the election that are sustained and open ended, no such protests have taken place.

I don't know, a lot of people seem to have a lot of faith in this election. Trump will either cheat to win or reject the election results and if we don't mobilize in response to that on 11/4, he might steal the election and get away with it.

After writing that I went looking through Benjamin Franklin’s Twitter feed. It includes several videos of protests that are happening this evening around the country in sympathy to the protesters in Minneapolis. It also includes several videos of battling cops, described as “out of control.” Alas, they’re not in a thread for me to link to them all.

This might be the excuse the nasty guy is looking for to call in the military.

Franklin included a thread from Garry Kasparov:
Chaos favors power and those with the ability to wield power quickly and ruthlessly. It is why dictators stoke chaos and why democracies prefer stability.

It's a trusted technique. Trump wants to fan the literal and figurative flames because he can promise action, look big and central. Others who think first about complex issues, who consider other views and consequences, look weak, indecisive.

It doesn't matter that Trump's promises are fake or that his proposals are immoral or impossible. It makes the autocrat sound like they have answers, or at least that they recognize the problem.

After all that we need some good news. Michael Ely and James Tayler had been a couple for 43 years. As soon as same-sex marriage was legal they got married. But six months later Taylor died. Social Security refused spousal benefits because they had not been married for at least nine months. That they weren’t allowed to get married before they did wasn’t considered. Last year Ely and Lambda Legal sued Social Security. And a federal judge has now agreed.