Voting for Change

If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.

Emma Goldman

This week’s featured posts are “Trump’s Next Coup” and “Manchin Deserts the Fight for Democracy“.

This week everybody was talking about Trump’s next coup attempt

In a featured post, I interpret his hints of being “reinstated” in August.

Meanwhile, Republicans continue to deny and cover up his last attempt at treason.

Chris Hayes:

We’re never gonna see eye to eye on whether I should have been hanged, but I’m proud to have been at his side (except for the one time he sent a violent mob after me and my family)

and the dimming prospects for protecting democracy

In an op-ed yesterday, Joe Manchin doubled down on his defense of the filibuster, and said he will vote against the For the People Act. I discuss this more fully in a featured post.

and Biden’s Tulsa speech

Tuesday, for the first time in the century since it happened, an American president showed up to observe the anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre. President Biden gave a very good speech that emphasized the massacre’s continuing significance.

When people deny American racism, they usually end up explaining the racial wealth-and-income gap in terms of some Black deficiency. Maybe Blacks lack intelligence or a work ethic or two-parent households or the ability to defer gratification. After all, it’s the only logical conclusion: If nothing is wrong with American society, something must be wrong with Black people.

But Tulsa points out a factor we can’t sweep under the rug: In the Greenwood neighborhood, Black people were building wealth the way traditional ideals say Americans are supposed to: They opened businesses, trained for professions, and owned homes. But all that was destroyed by white violence. And Tulsa was not the only place this happened.

While the Tulsa massacre was a century ago, it’s not just ancient history, because wealth has a way of sticking around and growing generation by generation. I appreciate that Biden didn’t just lay a wreath; he called our attention to what the massacre and the burning of 35 blocks of Greenwood mean in terms of Black success or lack of success.

Imagine all those hotels and diners and mom-and-pop shops that could have been passed down this past hundred years. Imagine what could have been done for Black families in Greenwood: financial security and generational wealth.

Biden tied this violent destruction (and the subsequent unwillingness of insurance companies to pay claims) to other ways that Black families have systematically been denied the opportunity to build wealth.

While the people of Greenwood rebuilt again in the years after the massacre, it didn’t last. Eventually neighborhoods were red-lined on maps, locking Black Tulsa out of homeownerships. A highway was built right through the heart of the community … cutting off Black families and businesses from jobs and opportunity. Chronic underinvestment from state and federal governments denied Greenwood even just a chance at rebuilding.

One common objection to the notion of white privilege is: “Nobody gave me what I have. I worked for it.” Nobody gave me this house — I made all the payments. Nobody gave me my education — I studied hard and my parents took out a second mortgage. Nobody gave me this job — I earned the credentials to get started and I worked my way up. Nobody gave me this business — I took the risks and made them pay off.

All that may be true. Despite notable exceptions, for the most part successful White people don’t just cruise into affluence. They have to walk the path to success step by step. When they look back, they see their struggles and resent the implication that they don’t deserve what they have.

And yet, while they (i.e., we) did have to walk that path themselves, the path was open. The loans had to be paid back, but they were available. Their parents had something to mortgage. Schools let them in, and teachers took them seriously. Teen-age hijinks didn’t land them in jail or get them killed by police. They found mentors (or investors) when they needed them. When they deserved a promotion, they got one. And after they had built something, nobody took it away.

Whites don’t usually think of those things as privileges. That’s just the way life is supposed to work for everybody. But it hasn’t always and it still doesn’t now. That’s the point.

and assault weapons

A federal judge threw out a California assault-weapons ban that has been in place for 31 years. Reading the decision leaves me puzzled. Judge Benitez roots his reasoning in the Supreme Court’s 2008 Heller decision (which Justice Stevens described as “the Supreme Court’s worst decision of my tenure“) which says the Second Amendment “elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.”

Benitez’ point, then, is that the AR-15 is great weapon for defense against home invaders.

While the state ought to protect its residents against victimization by a mass shooter, it ought also to protect its residents against victimization by home-invading criminals. But little is found in the Attorney General’s court filings reflecting a goal of preventing violence perpetrated against law-abiding citizens in their homes.

I’m having trouble picturing the usefulness of a long gun in a home-invader context. In a close-combat situation, I would think you’d want a weapon where the barrel is hard to grab or push aside. Special Operations Force Report claims otherwise. Still, the implied scenario in that article is multiple intruders who are themselves armed and determined to shoot it out with you, so merely killing one of them will not scare the others away. I have to wonder how often that situation occurs. Is it more or less frequent than, say, mass shootings?

Maryland banned assault weapons after the Sandy Hook massacre, and a federal appeals court upheld that law in 2016, noting that the Heller decision specifically mentioned M-16 rifles (which are close cousins of the AR-15).

Because the banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are “like” “M-16 rifles” —“weapons that are most useful in military service” — they are among those arms that the Second Amendment does not shield.

The Supreme Court refused to review that case, letting the law stand.

But that was in 2017, and the Supreme Court is different now: A man who lost the 2016 popular vote by 2.9 million votes became president, and a Republican Senate majority representing a minority of American citizens approved his three appointments to the Court. So because of that exercise of minority rule, the Constitution means something different now than it did in 2017.

The thing I find most disturbing in conservative judges’ continuing expansion of the Second Amendment is that it puts any kind of gun control permanently beyond the reach of democracy, regardless of future events. If Sandy Hooks start happening in every state on every day, nothing can be done.

and you also might be interested in …

The seven-day average of daily new Covid cases in the US is now below 15K, with less than 500 daily deaths. 51.3% of the population has received at least one vaccine shot, and 41.6% are fully vaccinated. (You’ll see higher numbers in some sources, because they are giving a percentage of adults, or of the eligible population, which is now people 12 and over.) But vaccination rates are going down, particularly in the South.

This isn’t getting a lot of coverage, but the long-term implications could be huge:

The G-7 group of advanced economies announced an historic accord to set a minimum global corporate tax rate on Saturday, taking a first step to reverse a four-decade decline in the taxes paid by multinational corporations.

As things stand now, big global corporations can play countries off against each other. “You want me to pay taxes? I’ll just go somewhere else.” If countries can work together, though, they can avoid the race-to-the-bottom on corporate tax rates.

Economist Heidi Shierholz debunks the “labor shortage” theory, which you may see popping up in Facebook memes about how people don’t want to work.

Shierholz defines a labor shortage as “accelerating wage growth, accompanied by sluggish job growth”. That’s not happening. Every recession ends with a sorting-out process, where employers evaluate how many workers they need and workers evaluate their job prospects. It usually doesn’t go all that smoothly, but it works out eventually. So far, there’s no reason to think it will be different this time.

My personal guess is that a lot of women will re-enter the job market when children go back to school in the fall.

The May jobs report can fit into just about anybody’s theory of what the economy is doing. The economy added over half a million jobs, which is good. But some economists were predicting more. The unemployment rate is dropping (now 5.8%), but is still higher than before the pandemic.

In short, the economy continues to bounce back, but it’s not all the way back yet. Maybe it will get there and maybe it won’t. The whole last year is kind of unprecedented, so there’s not a lot of history to base a prediction on.

Democrat Melanie Stansbury held the House seat vacated by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland by a 25-point margin in a special election Tuesday. A Republican victory, or even a close race, would have been shocking in this district, but Stansbury easily overcame an effort to paint her as anti-law-enforcement.

If there’s a pattern in the special elections held since November, it’s that voters show up when they expect their side to win: Republicans are outperforming in Republican districts and Democrats in Democratic districts. There hasn’t been a true swing-district special election yet.

I can’t believe we have to keep defending Anthony Fauci, but any time I scan through Fox News, they’re going after him. The narrative the Trumpists want to tell is that the whole pandemic was a conspiracy between Fauci and China, and that Trump performed admirably. It’s insane.

Is it too soon to say good-bye to Netanyahu? A bizarre coalition looks ready to form a new government, while Bibi himself seems to be plotting his own January 6.

I wasn’t ready to get on a cruise ship this summer yet anyway, but the latest news seals the deal: Royal Caribbean has surrendered to Florida’s ban on businesses requiring vaccinations. The islands will still be there next year.

How to tell you’re raising a smart kid:

Just learned our 9y/o did an experiment on us. Lost tooth, told no one for 3d, kept tooth under his pillow. No $. Then he tells us he lost the tooth, next night there is money under his pillow. Then confronted us with his scientific evidence that the tooth fairy isn’t real.

The kid guesses that a scam is happening, constructs a method to prove it, but doesn’t blow the whistle until after he gets his payoff.

and let’s close with something magnificently pointless

The idea of domino patterns is to build something up just so you can knock it down. I don’t know why it’s so compelling, but it is. In this video, 82 days of work are undone in about five minutes.

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  • DMcGee  On June 7, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    I would point out that the quotation at the top was probably never said by Goldman (or Mark Twain who it’s also often attributed to).

  • Hans J Messersmith  On June 7, 2021 at 1:48 pm

    In response to this quote:

    “The thing I find most disturbing in conservative judges’ continuing expansion of the Second Amendment is that it puts any kind of gun control permanently beyond the reach of democracy, regardless of future events. If Sandy Hooks start happening in every state on every day, nothing can be done.”

    I don’t think gun control can be said to be permanently beyond the reach of democracy. I say this because the Constitution can be amended.

    I accept this is a very difficult thing, and would not only require the vast majority of Americans to support it but also that support to be much more evenly spread across the nation. It would essentially require rural folks supporting the idea, or at least not vetoing it. I agree that is not really a likely thing to happen any time soon.

    So I guess consider this a “well, technically…” comment that is not, after I have finished typing it, really that helpful. 🙂

    I would gladly support repeal of the 2nd Amendment, or alterations to it that made gun ownership more obviously regulatable.

  • Anonymous  On June 7, 2021 at 6:10 pm

    In 1921, my maternal grandfather was 19. He had already worked in the family ice business, and would enter the family automobile business. That business stayed in the family for many decades. The money from that automobile business put me and all my siblings and cousins through college. My life in 2021 would be very different if that car dealership and all its surroundings had been bombed and looted out of existence back in 1921.

  • Lionel Goulet  On June 8, 2021 at 10:12 pm

    Niggling but important. The Senate does NOT represent citizens (“a Republican Senate majority representing a minority of American citizens”). The Senate represents STATES. The HOUSE represents citizens. This was an innovation in governance at the Constitutional Convention in 1789 — a “bicameral” form of legislature.

    • weeklysift  On June 11, 2021 at 7:28 am

      OK: representing STATES that represent a minority of American citizens. One way or another, it’s rule by the minority.

  • Dan Cusher  On June 10, 2021 at 9:58 pm

    “My personal guess is that a lot of women will re-enter the job market when children go back to school in the fall.”

    I think you’re probably right, but it’s also worth mentioning that they’ll return to work with 1.5 years of atrophy to their skills and decreased pay that surely overcompensates for their decreased value to employers.

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