Monday Wake Up Call, Thin Blue Line Edition – April 19, 2021

The Daily Escape:

Morning has broken, St. Augustine, FL – April 13, 2021 photo by Wrongo

What does the American Flag really mean to us? To quote Heather Cox Richardson:

“Flags matter. They are the tangible symbol of a people united for a cause.”

Today we’re going to talk about a flag that increasingly unites only some Americans, the Thin Blue Line Flag.

That Thin Blue Line refers to a black-and-white American flag with one blue stripe. It’s come to mean that the police are the line which keeps society from descending into violent chaos. The “blue” refers to the blue color of the uniforms worn by many US police departments.

But in addition to being a sign of police solidarity, it has appeared as a symbol of white supremacy. From the Marshall Project:

“Those who fly the flag have said it stands for solidarity and professional pride within a dangerous, difficult profession and a solemn tribute to fallen police officers. But it has also been flown by white supremacists, appearing next to Confederate flags at the 2017 ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. County officials in Oregon recently paid $100,000 to a black employee of a law enforcement agency there, after she said she was harassed by coworkers for complaining about her colleagues displaying the flag at work.”

A “Blue Lives Matter” movement grew in the wake of multiple killings of police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Brooklyn, New York; and Dallas. But the movement took off when Trump, as a presidential candidate, called police “the force between civilization and total chaos.”

Soon a few states passed laws to categorize physical attacks on law enforcement officers as hate crimes.

But it has come to be a symbol for many sides. By the 2020 presidential election, Trump often replaced the American flag with the Thin Blue Line flag as the centerpiece of his rallies. The implication was that he was the leader of the alt-right. It was not inadvertent: after a Wisconsin rally, then-White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted:

“The Thin Blue Line flag is flying HIGH at President Trump’s rally in Wisconsin!”

The Thin Blue Line flag was prominent at the January 6 attempted coup in DC:

The BLM movement sees it as anti-BLM, and a racist symbol. The Thin Blue Line flag is supposed to convey solidarity with the police. But isn’t it also saying that it’s us against them?

The first reference to a thin blue line is in the early 1950s from William H. Parker, then-chief of police in Los Angeles. He worked with a short-lived TV show called the “Thin Blue Line“. He said that the blue line is what separates different kinds of Americans: those who abide by the law from those who do not.

The use of the concept grew from our military abroad, where it meant that our troops were holding a line against a foreign enemy.

Now, with the emergence of a quasi-military focus of policing in the US, that has been modified: For the police here at home, the enemy is within. The police see themselves as holding the line against criminals and elements of disorder that in their view, are undermining our society. There are now other flags that are designed to show solidarity: a red lined flag for firefighters, a yellow lined flag for emergency responders.

The police and community should be working together to produce better public safety. But if you’re looking at the community as a potential enemy, or a threat, that’s never going to produce a positive relationship.

Does America need specific flags for specific groups? In America today, we’re no longer a homogeneous society under one flag. A significant percentage of us no longer even support one president! The American flag is used by many groups, often with diverging views and ideologies.

Why should the Thin Blue Line flag be allowed to co-op the flag that belongs to all of us?

Wake up America! We’re on a dangerous path. There have always been interest groups that had their own message, some with colors and uniforms, or yes, even flags. But the Thin Blue Line has come to represent an insidious subtextual message of us vs. them that is particularly evident when it is flown alongside the ongoing murders of black and brown Americans by police.

To help you wake up, watch the Nashville-based group BR549 perform their 2001 tune “Too Lazy To Work, Too Nervous To Steal”:

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – April 4, 2021

The NYT has a great explainer about the new Georgia voting law. The Times summarizes:

“Go page by page through Georgia’s new voting law, and one takeaway stands above all others: The Republican legislature and governor have made a breathtaking assertion of partisan power in elections, making absentee voting harder and creating restrictions and complications in the wake of narrow losses to Democrats.”

Below are a few of the changes, with links to the appropriate section of the article.

On to cartoons. Baseball reacted by moving its All-Star game from Atlanta:

Georgia-headquarted Delta Airlines also wasn’t happy. They plan to help:

And it isn’t only Georgia:

The trial continues in Minneapolis:

Asian prejudice is about the people, not their products:

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – March 28, 2021

A few quick thoughts on Georgia’s new voter suppression law. You may remember the day in 2013 when Chief Justice John Roberts wrote  that “Things have changed dramatically” in the South.

He had just authored the majority opinion in Shelby County v. Holder, where the Court struck down the Voting Rights Act’s Section 4, that determined which states needed federal approval for changes to their election law. That made one of the law’s most important parts inoperative. Today, the new voter suppression law in Georgia is Exhibit A for why Roberts was wrong.

Biden carried Georgia in November, and Black voters turned out again in record numbers in January to elect Democrats Warnock and Ossoff, thus giving control of the Senate to the Dems. The response from Georgia Republicans was to pass a sweeping rewrite of the state’s election laws, making it harder for Democratic voters to vote and have their ballots counted.

The new law allows the GOP-controlled legislature to appoint a majority of members of the state election board. It gives the board the power to take over county election boards, making it easier for Republicans to challenge election results, or to decline to certify the results.

These are things that Trump tried and failed to get Georgia to do in 2020.

The not-so-funny thing is that should HR-1 (now S-1) become law, Roberts gets another chance to review the state of voting rights in America. Will he “atone” for his egregious error in gutting the original VRA? Don’t count on that. On to cartoons.

And now it’s a crime in Georgia to give water to people in line:

It’s easy to understand Republican priorities. They make access to BALLOTS more difficult, and make access to BULLETS easier:

There’s always another Boulder for Dems to worry about:

Mitch tries offering a compromise:

Of all the busters, only the filibuster has to go:

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Saturday Soother – March 13, 2021

The Daily Escape:

Sunset, Warwick RI – 2021 photo by Rick Bateman

The WaPo reports that a Georgetown University law professor was terminated and a second placed on leave after a video clip showed a conversation between them that included what a University official called “reprehensible” statements about Black students.

The conversation between adjunct professors Sandra Sellers and David Batson was shared on Twitter this week. It shows Sellers discussing student performance:

“I hate to say this. I end up having this angst every semester that a lot of my lower ones are Blacks,” Sellers said in the video. “Happens almost every semester. And it’s like, ‘Oh, come on.’ You get some really good ones, but there are also usually some that are just plain at the bottom. It drives me crazy.”

Full disclosure: Wrongo is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Context for the video: The professors held their conversation on a zoomed negotiations class on February 21. It was recorded so that students could view it later. Sellers and Batson stayed on the call after the students left, and their conversation was also recorded. It was saved online for about two weeks before students noticed the conversation between Sellers and Batson. Then it was reported by students to the administration. The university fired Sellers and issued a statement on Thursday after the video went viral.

Ever notice how racists always start with a comment that gives them away? They try blunting the racism with phrases like “I hate to say it” or, using weird phrasing like “a lot of my lower ones are Black.” Most White people know that they can say 90% of the same shit they’ve always said, if they preface it with a disclaimer:

  • “I’m not a racist, but…”
  • “I have black friends, but…”

But what we hear most since Trump is:  “(big sigh), I know it’s not politically correct (eye roll), but...”

That’s used when they want to make sure everyone knows that they’re political martyrs who are living dangerously.

Imagine reversing professor Sellers’s thought: “I end up having this angst every semester that a lot of my lower ones are Whites…You get some really good ones, but there are also usually some that are just plain at the bottom.” That shows how odd it is to divide your law students into racial groups.

Georgetown Law doesn’t have trouble finding top quality students. US News rates it as number 14 among American law schools. They receive more applicants than they can accept. They may not be getting the topmost Harvard and Yale candidates, but they can choose from among the very high quality law students. Logically, all of their admitted students should be able to perform at a high level.

Still, a normal distribution of performance should be expected because multiple factors go into creating a final grade. Think about a student’s commitment to studying, or their individual contribution in class. Sometimes, group assignments are graded, which are at least partially dependent on others. So, it should be common for grades to be normally distributed.

Every day, we learn again that racism is a norm, not an exception in America. One day, that may no longer be true, but that day isn’t going to get any closer by pretending it’s already arrived. So it’s good that Sellers was fired.

Finally, graduating at the top of your class isn’t necessary or sufficient to insure high-level future performance. Doubt that? Remember that Ulysses S. Grant graduated at the bottom of his West Point class and did just fine. While Mike Pompeo graduated first at West Point, so there you go.

It was a big week in DC, with the passage of the American Recovery Plan, and the one-year anniversary of the start of the pandemic. But now, it’s time for our Saturday Soother. We’ve started on the spring clean-up on the fields of Wrong. The deer fences have come down, and we’re starting to think about some new split rail fencing. Remember, Daylight Savings Time starts tonight, but the dog has no plans to “spring ahead”. He’ll still want breakfast at the same time on Sunday morning.

Let’s settle back near a window and listen to the” Flute Quintet in D Major, Op. 51 No. 1: III. Adagio ma non troppo”, by Fredrich Kahlau, Danish composer who knew Mozart, and died in 1832. Here it’s played by the Kodály Quartet along with soloist Ginervra Petrucci:

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Saturday Soother – January 30, 2021

The Daily Escape:

View of Torrance, CA from Palos Verdes, CA – January 2021 photo by Gary W. Stuart. A perfect reason to live in Palos Verdes, where Wrongo and Ms. Right lived for 10 years: Views of ocean and mountains on a rare crystal clear LA winter day. The San Gabriel Mountains in the background are ~35 miles away.

We’ve had a few bitter cold days on the snow-covered fields of Wrong. Friday morning, it was 6° with a 20+mph wind, making it a tough walk for the dog.

The emotional temperature is also icy in DC.  There is a growing rupture between Republicans who insist that the deadly Capitol riot was not the work of Trump supporters, and who insist on carrying concealed weapons onto the floor of the House, and Democrats who say they are afraid they’ll be harmed by those very same Republicans.

Since Republicans refuse to hold their colleagues accountable, some House Democrats have started refusing to work with some of their GOP counterparts, specifically those who favored the election sedition and who refuse to wear masks.

Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) is moving her office away from the office of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). Greene and her staff are berating and harassing the Congresswoman and her staff because they wear masks. Bush said:

“I’m moving my office away from hers for my team’s safety,”

Three weeks after the attack on the Capitol, and two weeks after the disgraced president was impeached for the second time, the GOP is wallowing in a debate over impeachment, trutherism, and… Jewish space lasers?

Yes to the Jewish space lasers: Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is also a gun-toting’ QAnon disciple elected by the same Georgians who elected Biden. She says that California’s Camp Fire was started by a laser beam fired from space by “Rothschild Inc.”

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), sums up THE issue of 2021:

There were plenty of jokes made about the space lasers, but one thing that isn’t a joke is the palpable fear by Democrats who have to deal with this lunacy every day. We learned that the new acting head of the Capitol Police wants a wall around the Capitol:

“Vast improvements to the physical security infrastructure must be made to include permanent fencing”

The acting head of the Capitol Police has no faith that we can satisfactorily explain to Republican-Americans that Biden was fairly elected. That his victory was reasonably large. That Trump and most of his enablers lied continually about the outcome of the election.

She thinks the only option is to put fences and razor wire around the Capitol to discourage people whose minds have been poisoned, from attacking it again. And our government may well follow her recommendation. We can’t harden a free society. Whatever you fence off will be “safe” while other places are open to attack. As Jonathan Last says,

“The fences and razor wire at the Capitol are the physical manifestation of the Republican lie. Every time you see them, remember Kevin McCarthy and Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley and Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz and…the hundreds of elected Republicans across the country who created this lie.”

The tragedy of Trump is that words and deeds, no matter how reckless or disconnected from the truth, carry no political consequences.

Organizer Bree Newsome translated Republicans’ current attitude:

“Sorry we tried to assassinate you & overthrow the election. We didn’t expect it to fail & create this awkwardness between us. Let’s move forward & get back to normal with us blocking any legislation you introduce while we continue to feed a racist terrorist movement. Love, GOP”

We live in disturbing times, but we must find ways to let go of the anger and fear, at least for a few moments on a Saturday. Outdoor activities are not recommended when the wind chill is below zero, so pick up that long read that you’ve been putting off, settle into a comfy chair and get going!

To help get you started, brew up a vente cup of Dafis Abafita Natural Ethiopia ($21.50/12 oz.) from Topeka Kansas’ PT Coffee Roasting Co. The roaster says you can taste mulberry, cocoa nib, tangerine zest, and agave syrup in the cup. Sounds like that cup is doing a lot of work!

Now put on your Bluetooth headphones and listen to “Born in the Right Country” by the group River Whyless, from the mean streets of Asheville, NC. This song is a powerful and elegantly drawn statement about racism in America. It’s a must-watch:

Sample lyric:

I’ll tell you baby a secret
Manufactured truth is easy to sell
When you own the factory
And you own the hearts of the clientele

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Monday Wake Up Call – October 5, 2020

The Daily Escape:

Fall on the T Lazy B Ranch. Ennis, MT – October 2017 photo by Ed Coyle photography

Lost in the noise on Trump’s COVID diagnosis Friday was that the US Supreme Court agreed to hear two Arizona cases that could end the Voting Rights Act, and hurt the prospects of the Democratic Party. Ian Millhiser wrote the linked article for Vox, and he calls it the biggest threat to voting in decades:

“The specific issue in the Democratic National Committee (DNC) cases concerns two Arizona laws that require certain ballots to be discarded. One law requires voting officials to discard in their entirety ballots cast by voters who vote in the wrong precinct (rather than simply not counting votes for local candidates that the voter should not have been able to vote for).

The other law prohibits “ballot collection” (or “ballot harvesting”) where a voter gives their absentee ballot to a third party, who delivers that ballot to the election office. (Arizona is one of many states that impose at least some restrictions on ballot collection.)”

These cases are being brought under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, (VRA) signed by LBJ, which prohibited racist voting laws that were prevalent at the time. In 2013, the Supreme Court in Shelby County vs. Holder effectively deactivated the Act’s preclearance regime that required states with a history of racist voting practices to “preclear” new election rules with officials at the DOJ.

And the Court’s decision in Abbott v. Perez (2018) held that lawmakers enjoy a strong presumption of racial innocence so that it is now extremely difficult to prove that lawmakers may have acted with racist intent (for example, in gerrymandering a district) except in the most egregious cases.

These two Arizona DNC cases involve a different element of the VRA, the so-called “results test” that prohibits many election laws that disproportionately disenfranchise voters of color.

Now that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear these cases, the Court’s Republican-appointed majority could potentially dismantle the results test. It might water down that test to such a degree that it no longer provides a meaningful check on racism in elections.

As a federal appeals court said in an opinion striking down the two laws:

“…uncontested evidence in the district court established that minority voters in Arizona cast [out of precinct] ballots at twice the rate of white voters.”

Sound racist to you? Of course!

One reason that people in Arizona may vote in the wrong location is that some Maricopa County voters, for example, must travel 15 minutes by car to vote in their assigned polling location, having passed four other polling places along the way.

In addition, many Arizona voters of color lack easy access to the mail and are unable to easily travel on their own to cast a ballot. As the Arizona appeals court explained:

“…in urban areas of heavily Hispanic counties, many apartment buildings lack outgoing mail services,”

And only 18% of Native American registered voters in Arizona have home mail service. The appeals court also said that Black, Native, and Hispanic voters are:

“…significantly less likely than non-minorities to own a vehicle and more likely to have inflexible work schedules.”

Thus, their ability to vote might depend on being able to give their ballot to a friend or a canvasser who will take that ballot to the polls for them. In any event, a majority of the appeals court judges who considered Arizona’s two laws decided that they violated the Voting Rights Act.

So, now it is appealed to the Supreme Court. More from Vox:

“As a young lawyer working in the Reagan administration, Chief Justice John Roberts unsuccessfully fought to convince President Reagan to veto the law establishing this results test; some of his memos from that era even suggest that the results test is unconstitutional. And Roberts is, if anything, the most moderate member of the Supreme Court’s Republican majority.”

This case will be decided by the Court without Amy Coney Barrett. That means it will take at least two conservative justices to side with the three remaining liberal justices, a tall order in these times. Of course, a four-to-four decision would let the appeals court decision stand.

Time to wake up America! Nothing we can do now will change the decision on these cases. That chance was lost in 2016. And the rights of voters of color to cast their ballots is in greater peril now with Ginsburg off the bench.

What we can do today and most importantly on November 3, is to stop the right wing in its tracks.

There can be no further gutting of voting rights in the future.

 

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – September 6, 2020

(The Wrongologist is taking a few days off. The next column will appear on Wednesday 9/9)

Wrongo has no idea if The Atlantic article with Trump’s remarks insulting our WWII dead is accurate or not. It has been corroborated by other news organizations, including FOX, and the AP. Despite Trump’s denials, no high-level military officer has said it didn’t or couldn’t have happened. OTOH, the event happened two years ago, and for something this explosive to be unmentioned, only to float to the surface 58 days before the presidential election, has a whiff of disinformation about it.

There’s no confusion about Trump’s announcement that the administration is now prohibiting federal agencies from conducting cultural sensitivity training. According to the report, this kind of training is “divisive, anti-American propaganda.” Trump feels that diversity training that focuses on educating participants about white privilege, critical race theory and the racist origins of the US apparently create “division and resentment” among federal employees. From Forbes:

“What is deeply problematic about this new ban is that the US has a habit of avoiding the country’s dark and racist past. Evading the issue will not make it go away…..In June of 2020, America was finally willing to look in the mirror, acknowledge the past and start the long process to make amends in order to move to a point of racial reconciliation and healing….But with the Trump administration’s…announcement, the racial equity that the country has been striving for will be stalled.”

It’s very difficult to see how this step will help Trump win in November. On to cartoons.

“Hands enlarged to show detail”:

What are the chances a Trump October vaccine announcement is legit?

Trump says killing a black man was justified because cops choked:

Trump’s interview with FOX’s Laura Ingraham included comparing cops shooting Jacob Blake to a golfer missing a short putt: “sometimes you choke”. But, Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back, and he was unarmed.

Can you spot what’s different?

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Trump’s Road Trip

The Daily Escape:

 Via Tom Tomorrow. Sadly, this is a documentary, not a cartoon.

Wrongo is writing this on Tuesday before Trump’s road trip to Kenosha. If America is lucky, he’ll have a meet and greet with the awful Kenosha Sheriff, David Beth. He’ll give a stump speech about the need for “law and order”, and complain that Democrats want to defund the police. He’ll promise to send the National Guard into every rioting city. And if Bill Barr had input into the speech, we may even hear about federal charges for rioters.

If we’re unlucky, Trump’s speech will encourage more MAGA/protester confrontations. He could easily praise the militia members vigilantes who showed up in Kenosha, making a tenuous situation worse. That would be the same private “militia” that inspired a 17-year-old with an AR-15, with such tragic results. Trump could throw out a vague promise of future pardons as he has done many times before.

Saying that in front of Kenosha’s police department would be a big win for Trump, it would be red meat for his supporters. But that will not appeal to people who are looking for leadership in the current crisis of anger and civil disobedience in America.

That red meat stuff does work for some elements in our country, not just the MAGA militias and police brutality protesters. There are far right goonies who salivate at the prospect of a post-apocalyptic America. It’s also those media organizations who love covering these night-time “protests that become riots”.

It’s not the Russians or the Chinese who are doing this to us. We’re doing this to ourselves.

Republicans are painting Biden and Democrats as a mob monolith: From Biden down to the guy throwing a brick at a cop, Republicans are increasingly motivated not to let “those people” win. They’re betting that there are enough people in this country who are more offended by broken windows and burned-out car dealerships than they are by COVID, or racism, or mass unemployment.

In truth, Biden should have visited Kenosha and Portland before Trump. He’s denounced violence in a forceful speech in Pittsburgh (and he’s condemned it previously). So has Harris. Biden needs to keep front and center that there is uniform condemnation of the violence from Democrats.

Whether Biden visits or not, he should stress that every city has the right to a peaceful existence. He should say that the actions of police against the Black community provide justification for those communities to demonstrate, and in extremis, to protect themselves, particularly from outside agitators in the form of faux militias.

Their responses can include peaceful marches, mutual aid, and heaven forfend, the possession of firearms.

That justification doesn’t include violence. And if outside agitators cause protests to routinely turn violent, cities have the right and responsibility to defend themselves, despite the possibility that their defense may cause infringements of First and Second Amendment rights.

When people from outside the community come to protests carrying guns, that isn’t community defense. When people from outside the community come in to “guard” private property owned by locals, that isn’t community defense. That is usurpation of police power.

There is a sizable element of violent, zealous people for whom there’s no path for discussion or de-escalation. They want a fight. The question is how to deal with them. Force vs. force?

To meet the challenge of outside force, there have to be people who are willing to take on the job of de-escalation. That’s the job of local police. We’re not yet at the point of martial law, and it’s depressing to think that arming the left may be the next option in this looming battle by proxies for both sides.

But people don’t become fighters by owning a weapon. It’s important to remember that the police are us. The protesters are us. We’re all brothers and sisters who shouldn’t want any politician inciting us to attack each other.

It is the job of the police to keep the peace, not to escalate and inflame. The police need to be responsible for de-escalation, and also be held accountable for their behavior in doing so.

We win by creating a society that values and prioritizes community safety, wellness and success. The BLM protests are responsible for some of the violence, but they have also stimulated thinking about steps in the direction of remaking our society into one that values safety and success.

We need to find a way out of this maze, and back to normalcy. Trump won’t show us the way.

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – August 30, 2020

WaPo’s Alexandra Petri restates Trump’s re-election strategy:

“Donald Trump has made America great again, and he will make it great again, again, if reelected, but right now, Joe Biden and the Democrats are ruining America and filling it with chaos. So don’t you think it’s time for a change?”

Her piece is pretty funny, you should read it. The internet is also asking: Why is vigilante murder an appropriate response to property damage, but property damage isn’t an appropriate response to vigilante murder?

We can’t let Trump highjack the narrative away from our other major problems: Consider that stocks in the US hit all-time highs this week, but another 1 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits. This shows that employers continued to eliminate mind-boggling numbers of jobs, five months into the pandemic. One result is that 12 million people have lost employer-sponsored health insurance since February due to losing their jobs.

Our economy remains far worse than it was in January. The Fed’s weekly economic index suggests that the economy is still more deeply depressed than it was at any point during the 2008 financial crisis. The stock market rise is driven by only a small number of technology giants (Apple, Google, Amazon, and others). And the share prices of these companies have very little to do with their current profits, let alone the state of the economy in general.

Trump has not offered a solution for any of this, because he doesn’t need an answer if you think rioting and looting are more important. On to cartoons.

Why the stock market’s up when everything else is down:

Guess which side thinks Kaepernick is a traitor, but Rittenhouse, the shooter is a patriot?

 

Trump says he’s not going down with the ship:

We left the reality-based world last week:

Some think that professional athletes shouldn’t say anything about BLM:

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Saturday Soother – Conventions Are Over Edition, August 29, 2020

The Daily Escape:

The Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge that connects Vermont and New Hampshire across the Connecticut River. Wrongo and Ms. Right crossed it many times a year when we lived in NH.

Happy Saturday, fellow disease vectors! Both presidential conventions are over, and there’s just 65 days to go until the election. In his Thursday night acceptance speech, Trump turned and pointed at the White House, saying “We’re here and they’re not.” That sums up what’s going to be all-out, house-to-house fighting for votes by both Parties.

Trump is seeking to redefine the November election as a choice between Biden and himself, not simply a referendum on his first term.

A massive Republican attempt to scramble the narrative has already begun: No one will be safe in Joe Biden’s America. If he wins the election you’ll have to lock your doors, or run for your lives, because those bad people from “Democrat-run cities” want to kill you in your beds.

They’re betting that the fear of violence in the streets will outweigh all of the other issues on the minds of a sufficient number of voters to prevent Biden from winning in the Electoral College.

But the reality is that Trump has done much to incite violence. The fact that the violence has overwhelmingly occurred in cities with Democratic municipal governments is framed as making Trump the “change candidate”, despite being the guy on whose watch all of this violence has happened. And, as presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway explained on Fox News:

“The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns, the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety and law and order…”

And facts just don’t matter. Biden isn’t for defunding the police. In reality, he has called for increasing federal funding for police departments by $300 million, while Trump has proposed nearly half-a-billion dollars in cuts to law enforcement funding.

We should have expected the emergence of vigilante violence, as more and more protests turned into riots this summer. But this week’s killings in Kenosha, WI demonstrate how sinister vigilantism is when a 17-year old Kyle Rittenhouse comes from another state, ostensibly to protect local Wisconsin property from local protesters, and kills two.

But he wasn’t alone. NYT reports that: (emphasis by Wrongo)

“Mr. Rittenhouse’s gunfire is mixed in with the sound of at least 16 other gunshots that ring out during this time.”

Apparently, Rittenhouse was responsible for eight of the 24 rounds, so other vigilantes were also roaming Kenosha’s streets. And since he’s 17, Kyle isn’t old enough either to own a gun, or to be open-carrying in Wisconsin, where you can’t legally own a rifle until you’re 18.

Immediately after Rittenhouse was identified as the shooter, the right-wing media characterized his actions as those of a dutiful citizen who had no choice but to take the law into his own hands, more Republican justification of vigilantism.

Returning to the context of the next 65 days: Once again, the big question is whether you are better off today than you were four years ago?

Since life is worse, how and why should voters focus only on violence when there are already 185,000 COVID dead? When 30 million Americans are unemployed? When 50 million face eviction, and our economy is teetering on depression?

There is no question that street violence is a major issue that must be on the table right along with the others. These require simultaneous solutions, and failure to solve any one of them will weaken the country for at least a decade.

They all urgently need to be solved, not spun, and Biden better have good answers.

It is a wonder that we haven’t seen more gun fights on our city streets. The police have all the tools and protective gear money can buy, but they look the other way when it comes to vigilantes. They need to intervene when these open carry vigilantes show up at protests, and bar them from entering into the immediate area of a protest, regardless of the First and Second Amendment consequences. Public safety should override the Constitutional concerns.

Americans can’t walk around afraid of armed and unregulated militias who think they have a mandate. And those militias can’t be welcomed by our local police. That’s the easy part. Solving the COVID pandemic so people can go back to work and to school can’t be left to Trump. He’s proven he isn’t capable of solving those problems.

Time for some soothing Saturday music. Here’s Yiruma, a South Korean composer and pianist, playing a short set of original music, live at a Korean Traditional House Village:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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