Coming full circle.
May 18, 2022
[Audio version here]
President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden spoke at a memorial service for the victims of the white supremacist attack in Buffalo. Biden strongly condemned white supremacy and those who promote ‘replacement theory’ for “power, political gain, and for profit”—a clear reference to Fox News, Tucker Carlson, and Donald Trump. In his full-throated condemnation of white supremacy, Biden has come full circle. During his remarks, he reminded us that he had decided not to run for president in 2020 but changed his mind when he saw neo-Nazis chanting “Jews will not replace us” in Charlottesville at the ”Unite the Right” rally.
Biden’s presidency was born of a desire to unite the nation; five years later, he (and we) are engaged in that same effort. White supremacy did not begin in 2017 and will not end in 2022. Like Biden, we must speak plainly and from the heart in condemning the “poison” that threatens our nation. The text of Biden’s remarks are here: Remarks by President Biden and First Lady Biden, and a video is here: Biden delivers remarks in Buffalo. It is worth reading or hearing the President’s remarks in full.
Biden is not a great orator, but he is an effective communicator—especially in moments of challenge and grief. Biden said:
What happened here is simple and straightforward: terrorism. Terrorism. Domestic terrorism. Violence inflicted in the service of hate and a vicious thirst for power that defines one group of people being inherently inferior to any other group.
A hate that through the media and politics, the Internet, has radicalized angry, alienated, lost, and isolated individuals into falsely believing that they will be replaced — that’s the word, “replaced” — by the “other” — by people who don’t look like them and who are therefore, in a perverse ideology that they possess and being fed, lesser beings.
I and all of you reject the lie.
Fox News, Tucker Carlson, and Mitch McConnell refused to condemn replacement theory or white supremacy, instead claiming that the mass murderer in Buffalo was “mentally deranged.” Whatever the killer’s mental state, he believed he was advancing white supremacist goals—and he did so with a GOP-approved weapon designed to kill people quickly and easily.
After Biden’s speech, Senator Chuck Schumer took to the Senate floor to call out Rupert Murdoch for allowing Fox News to serve as the breeding ground for white supremacy and replacement theory. Media outlets have begun to blame Murdoch by name. See, e.g., Margaret Sullivan in Washington Post, A racist theory may have driven the Buffalo tragedy. The Murdochs thrive on it. (“As for those members of the Murdoch family who make the rules at Fox, they seem content to rake in the profits Carlson and his ilk generate.”)
The sad and ugly truth is that white supremacists will claim more victims in violent assaults in the future. In the last decade, we have experienced racially-motivated massacres at the Overland Park Jewish Community, the Tree of Life Synagogue, the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally, the Wisconsin Sikh Temple, the Emmanuel African Methodist Church, and the massacres in El Paso and Buffalo (among many other incidents).
Against that ugliness, Biden is showing the way: We must condemn those who enable, encourage, or excuse white supremacy. But Biden only alluded to the culprits who promote white supremacy for “profit,” leaving it to Schumer to complete the thought by calling out Murdoch, Carlson, and Fox News. We must do the same. We can no longer roll our eyes or look away or shake our heads in disbelief when media personalities or politicians wink-and-nod at white supremacy or replacement theory. We must make them squirm and dodge and evade until they understand they will be remembered with Hitler, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas. Perhaps they will then reflect on the horrible consequences of their embrace of white supremacy.
The Justice Department requests transcripts from January 6th Committee.
Per the NYTimes, the Justice Department has requested transcripts of witness testimony from the House January 6th Committee. NYTimes, Justice Dept. Is Said to Request Transcripts From Jan. 6 Committee. In a disappointing statement, Chair Bennie Thompson said that the Committee was reluctant to turn over the materials to the DOJ “We can’t give them full access to our product because we haven’t completed our own work.”
Here is some free legal advice to Chairman Thompson: the transcripts don’t “belong” to the Committee. They “belong” to the American people, who are vitally interested in seeing the perpetrators of the attempted coup indicted and jailed. Get over your territorial disputes and give the transcripts to the DOJ ASAP.
Election Results—Don’t bury the lead!
It is a bit early to discuss trends in the primary election results on Tuesday, May 17th. But, as usual, the media focused on the shiny object that is Donald Trump. Let’s not bury the lead: Two stand-out Democratic candidates for US Senate won their races— Cheri Beasley won North Carolina’s Democratic Senate primary, and John Fetterman won the Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania. Each is a strong candidate who can help preserve or enlarge the Democratic majority in the Senate. Good news, indeed! That should be the takeaway from Tuesday’s election results—not whether GOP candidates with Trump’s endorsements won or lost. (To my grammarian friends: please see this usage note before sending an email about “lede” vs. “lead”.)
Meanwhile, Dr. Oz and David McCormick are in a tight race in the GOP Senate primary. Neither candidate managed to create a sense of excitement among Republican voters—as evidenced by the late but unsuccessful surge by Kathy Barnette. Oz and McCormick are both out-of-state opportunists who do not reflect Pennsylvania’s electorate in the way that John Fetterman does. Trump appeared to be a non-factor in the Pennsylvania race, arguably the most important GOP election held on Tuesday.
Media coverage of the results in Pennsylvania focused on the fact that Doug Mastriano won the GOP primary for governor. Mastriano is a controversial candidate (and Big Lie supporter) who gained Trump’s endorsement only three days ago. Meanwhile, Josh Shapiro, the current Attorney General in Pennsylvania, secured the Democratic nomination for governor. Mastriano said he would sign a bill outlawing abortion in Pennsylvania; Shapiro would veto any such bill. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2019, most respondents (51%) in Pennsylvania said abortion should be legal in most cases, while 44% said it should be illegal in most cases. In a close gubernatorial race in Pennsylvania, abortion may be the deciding issue—with the advantage in favor of the pro-choice candidate.
Trump’s endorsement of Janet McGeachin in the Idaho Republican gubernatorial primary did not prevent her from losing in a landslide. Likewise, GOP incumbent Representative Madison Cawthorn lost his seat despite Trump’s endorsement.
My apologies to “frontier towns of the Wild West.”
Yesterday, I engaged in hyperbole when I said that the impending Supreme Court ruling on New York’s concealed weapon law would revert major US cities to the status of “frontier towns of the Wild West.” I was wrong to make that statement—because frontier towns of the Wild West frequently required residents and visitors to deposit handguns with the local sheriff when entering the town. As one reader noted, the “gunfight at the O.K. Corral” in 1881 was an attempt by Marshall Virgil Earp to enforce Tombstone’s local ordinance requiring visitors to surrender their guns when entering the town. The ordinance said, in part,
Section 1. It is hereby declared unlawful to carry in the hand or upon the person or otherwise any deadly weapon within the limits of said city of Tombstone, without first obtaining a permit in writing.
Thus, licensing requirements to carry weapons in cities have been a recognized part of US law since at least 1881. The reactionary majority “invented” an individual right to carry a gun in its 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, in which it effectively separated gun ownership from the need for states to maintain “a well-regulated militia.”
I will bet dollars to donuts that the top stories on Wednesday will be an analysis of the “Trump effect” of endorsements in GOP primaries. Those stories will likely limit their analyses to a tally of winners and losers with Trump’s endorsement. Any such analysis is meaningless click-bait. For example, Trump endorsed Mastriano only when it was clear he was pulling ahead of the pack. If you can bet on a horse race in the last furlong, your chances of picking the winner are excellent. But as the losses of McGeachin and Cawthorn demonstrate, Trump cannot anoint GOP nominees—much less winners in general elections.
I was disappointed to see some Democrats and liberal media panicking over Mastriano’s win. Those doomsayers were already predicting what Mastriano would do as governor in the 2024 presidential election. Whoa! Mastriano still has to be elected governor—a proposition that is hotly contested. So, let’s not panic. If there was a “Trump effect,” it caused GOP candidates to run to the extreme right—making them less electable during general elections.
Don’t get me wrong; Democrats have a tough fight ahead of them in 2022. But we shouldn’t be anticipating losses or exaggerating GOP strengths. Democrats elected strong candidates who can win. And by the time we get to November, the Supreme Court will have issued decisions overruling Roe / Casey and invalidating a law requiring a license for a concealed weapon that would have been acceptable in Tombstone, Arizona in 1881. In other words, we have every reason to be hopeful but no reason to be complacent!
Talk to you tomorrow!