Summers and Winters

In a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay.

Martin Luther King

This week’s featured post is “Trump Despises His Supporters Too“.

This week everybody was talking about Trump’s disrespect for military service and death in war

Jeffrey Goldberg’s “Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’” dominated the weekend’s news. This story is covered in the featured post, but I did want to add some context from Chris Jones :

Seems like a good time to remind everyone that The Atlantic’s fact checkers once challenged my belief that Lorne Michaels was eating snow peas during a meeting and later verified that he was, in fact, eating edamame. They are extremely thorough.

Joe Biden’s comment is also worth your attention:

When my son volunteered and joined the United States military as the attorney general and went to Iraq for a year, won the bronze star and other commendations, he wasn’t a sucker. The servicemen and women he served with, particularly those who did not come home, were not ‘losers.’ If these statements are true, the president should humbly apologize to every gold star mother and father and every blue star family that he has denigrated and insulted. Who the heck does he think he is?

and violence from the left and right

Vox’ Aaron Ross Coleman says that condemning riots is not an adequate response:

If looting and rioting have no place in a well-functioning democracy, then perhaps we should pause to consider that these are signs that Americans are not, in fact, in a functioning democracy. … In declining to reconcile the failure of America’s democratic institutions and in their strong denouncements of riots as political protest, elected officials like Trump and Biden avoid the truth — there is no more effective force for stopping riots than making a serious effort to stop police from killing Black people.

… Today it is perhaps the New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie who most pithily expressed how this relationship works. “Kenosha would be quiet if not for an incident of police brutality and abuse,” he wrote this week. “The same is true for other cities where rioting and disorder have taken place.”

I got the MLK quote above from this article, and then I looked up the larger context. It’s from a speech he gave in March, 1968 near Detroit, which had been through a massive riot the previous summer.

Now every year about this time, our newspapers and our televisions and people generally start talking about the long hot summer ahead. What always bothers me is that the long hot summer has always been preceded by a long cold winter. And the great problem is that the nation has not used its winters creatively enough to develop the program, to develop the kind of massive acts of concern that will bring about a solution to the problem. And so we must still face the fact that our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nations winters of delay. As long as justice is postponed we always stand on the verge of these darker nights of social disruption. The question now, is whether America is prepared to do something massively, affirmatively and forthrightly about the great problem we face in the area of race and the problem which can bring the curtain of doom down on American civilization if it is not solved.

Coleman describes what we’re not getting done in the periods between a George Floyd murder and a Jacob Blake shooting:

In the executive branch, the recommendations from President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing failed to be implemented nationwide. In the judicial branch, legal precedent still protects officers from the consequences of deadly force with qualified immunity. In the legislative branch, this summer’s police reform bills have stalled out. The institutional stalemate persists at the local level even in the bluest of districts like in New York City or Minneapolis, where police brutality persists, despite years of activism and electoral support for reform candidates.

All of which brings me back to a JFK quote I’ve used before: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

But the real violence story these days is happening on the right, where Kyle Rittenhouse is on his way to hero status. Joe Biden is denouncing political violence in all its forms, but Trump is not.

Meanwhile, polls are making it clear that the law-and-order theme is not working for Trump. a majority believes that he is making protests worse, that Biden would do a better job on criminal justice issues, and that Trump makes them feel less safe.

The 538 polling average currently has Biden ahead by 7.5%. But because of Trump Electoral College advantage, Biden needs a 3-4% margin to be confident of winning.

The Right is trying to make something out of Biden not denouncing Antifa by name, but where is their evidence that Antifa is doing anything? Tucker Carlson is talking to Chad Wolf about using the RICO laws against Black Lives Matter and Antifa, but they have the process backwards: RICO can never be the first crime a group is accused of. After you have a record of proven members of a group committing proven crimes, then you can make a case that those crimes are connected by a corrupt organization.

Show me two convictions for serious violent crimes, and then we can talk about whether something connects them.

Meanwhile, why don’t we stop police from killing and maiming Black people for no good reasons? Maybe that will solve the problem.

If we’re going to talk about militias, we should know what one really is. Erik Schechter writes at NBC New’s Think blog:

In 1903, we officially divided the militia into an “organized militia,” i.e., the National Guard (and, later, state defense forces), and the “unorganized militia.” This other militia includes every able-bodied male age 17 to 45 and serves as a reserve body that, at least theoretically, could be called up for service by the president. (States have their own rules for militia membership; Illinois, for instance, now counts women in its state militia.)

So, does being part of an unorganized militia give you and your buddies the right to sling AR-15s across your chest, don cammies and patrol the streets of Kenosha and other cities as the self-declared Super-Patriot Constitutional Militia for Liberty and Tricorn Hats? No, because a militia is not an armed gang; it operates under orders from a legal authority that a self-governed group does not.

… Amy Swearer, a legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation’s Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, notes that “there isn’t an affirmative right” to form one’s own militia. She cites Presser v. Illinois, in which the Supreme Court ruled in 1886 that a German immigrant didn’t have a Second Amendment right to march his socialist militia in Chicago without authorization from the state.

In Rochester, New York, a grand jury will investigate the death of Daniel Prude, who suffocated in March after police hooded him and pinned him to the ground.

Mr. Prude went into cardiac arrest during a struggle with officers and died a week later. The county medical examiner labeled his death a homicide caused by complications of asphyxiation in a prone position. But for months, the police in Rochester treated the case as a drug overdose after PCP, or angel dust, was found in his bloodstream.

… The case came to public attention only on Wednesday, more than five months after Mr. Prude’s death, when his family’s lawyer released body camera footage from the officers involved in detaining Mr. Prude. The footage was obtained through a public records request by the lawyer.

This case sums up my problem with the few-bad-apples/most-cops-are-good argument: Let’s say the cop who pinned Prude was a bad apple. But he didn’t cover this up by himself. Months ago, the authorities had access to the same body-camera footage they’re acting on now, but they did nothing until the video was made public and caused public outrage.

This pattern recurs again and again: When a cop kills someone, assaults someone, or commits some other crime, the other cops, the local prosecutors, and the police union circle the wagons around him. When they do that, they all join Team Bad Apple.

and you also might be interested in …

Jon Lovett compares two ways of covering the same story. The Washington Post’s headline is “Trump and allies rachet up disinformation efforts in late stages of campaign“, while AP has “Dueling versions of reality define 1st week of fall campaign“. Lovett’s comment:

The Post is honest about this moment while the AP is a victim of it.

The difference goes to the heart of what journalism is supposed to do: Does the journalist cover a real world? Or is the world nothing but conflicting opinions which the journalist can only repeat? AP goes the second route:

On the campaign trail with President Donald Trump, the pandemic is largely over, the economy is roaring back, and murderous mobs are infiltrating America’s suburbs.

With Democrat Joe Biden, the pandemic is raging, the economy isn’t lifting the working class, and systemic racism threatens Black lives across America.

If only there were a real world that AP could examine these claims against. Does their weather report balance the people who say it rained today against the people who say it was sunny?

The Post, on the other hand, believes in a real world where reportable events happen.

On Aug. 30, the president retweeted footage of a Black man violently pushing a White woman on a subway platform under the caption, “Black Lives Matter/Antifa” — but the man was not affiliated with either group, and the video was shot in October. White House social media director Dan Scavino shared a manipulated video that falsely showed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden seeming to fall asleep during a television interview, complete with a fake TV headline.

And Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the second-ranking House Republican, released a video splicing together quotes from activist Ady Barkan — who has Lou Gehrig’s disease and uses computer voice assistance — to falsely make it sound as if he had persuaded Biden to defund police departments.

… The slew of false and misleading tweets and videos stood in contrast to the approach taken by Biden, the former vice president, who in 2019 took a pledge promising not to participate in the spread of disinformation over social media, including rejecting the use of “deep fake” videos.

If Republicans are looking for a way to torpedo Trump without actively endorsing Biden, Arnold Schwarzenegger provides a model: Come out against the underhanded tactics that Trump won’t admit to.

Schwarzenegger’s issue is voter suppression. Tweeting a link to a Reuters article about polling places closing in the South, Arnold comments:

I’m a fanatic about voting. Most people call closing polls voter suppression. Some say it is “budgetary.” What if I made it easy & solved the budgetary issue? How much would it cost to reopen polling places?

This is a serious question. Is closing polling stations about making it harder for minorities to vote, or is it because of budgets? If you say it’s because of your budget, let’s talk.

The Trump boat parade is a phenomenon that completely escapes me. I don’t get why a campaign would want to emphasize how many rich people support it. But if you’re going to do one, you should do it right, and not get a bunch of your boats sunk by each other’s wakes. If you wanted a metaphor for the Trump economy, very rich people swamping the boats of lesser rich people is pretty good.

Just because you don’t show obvious symptoms of Covid-19 doesn’t mean you’re not being harmed by it. Penn State has been looking at athletes who have been infected, and finds that a sizeable minority of them (one doctor said 30-35% and another corrected to 15%) suffer an enlargement of the heart muscle called myocarditis. The condition can lead to “arrhythmia, cardiac arrest and death, especially in a person who doesn’t know they have it and performs rigorous exercise”. Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez, who won 19 games in 2019, will miss the entire 2020 season because of myocarditis brought on by Covid-19.

Question and answer:

Q: Can you help me understand the Portland riots? Why haven’t you stopped the violence?

Portland Press Herald: Well, we’re a newspaper in Maine is the main reason.

and let’s close with something childish

The closer we get to Election Day, the less I want to be challenged by the closings. So light and fluffy is in. Last week we had puppies, this week a countdown of the top ten Muppet Show guest stars.

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  • Jacqueline (Bonin) Gargiulo  On September 7, 2020 at 3:34 pm

    I hope the Muppet Show is available to binge somewhere!

  • AWJ  On September 7, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    Regarding that Belarus cartoon: There’s a significant proportion of QAnons and other ultra-Trumpists on Twitter who do, in fact, support Lukashenka and deride the protesters as globalist antifa commies sent by Soros.

  • George Washington, Jr.  On September 7, 2020 at 8:42 pm

    When deepfakes first appeared a few years ago, there were concerns that these would be used to devastating effect to destroy candidates, because “a lie has gone halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its pants on.” So I’m heartened by how quickly the deepfakes of Biden and Barkan were exposed.

    The problem isn’t the technology; it’s the content. It would be very easy to create a deepfake of Biden saying that child molestation should be legal, or Trump saying that his hero is Adolf Hitler. The problem is that these are so over the top, they’d be exposed immediately. Creating a convincing deepfake is harder than it looks. Anything believable would have to be fairly innocuous, or so deftly targeted that it would be noticed only by a critical demographic, and would have an effect only on them.

  • pambamboo  On September 8, 2020 at 1:47 am

    Oh, Doug! Thank you SOOOO much for The Weekly Sift! It keeps me (somewhat) sane amidst this horror and madness.

    • weeklysift  On September 9, 2020 at 6:41 am

      Thank you for the compliment. Writing the Sift is part of my attempt to stay sane.

  • ccyager  On September 13, 2020 at 5:21 pm

    Loved the Muppet Show closer! Watching serious people get silly and real is so refreshing after watching the news….. I so love Animal.

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