Swinging for the fences.

Today’s Edition (Vol. 2, No. 71) Swinging for the fences.

Dear Readers,

           Over the weekend, I completed the migration of the newsletter from Constant Contact to Substack. As I hit “send” on Sunday evening, I got a message from Substack saying they needed to confirm that my large mailing list was not the work of a spammer. So, for the moment, I can only post on the website. Sigh. Hopefully, I will get clearance from Substack to send the newsletter by email for Tuesday’s edition. [Update: Substack cleared my list and I am sending today’s newsletter late. Will get back on schedule tonight! Thanks for your patience!]

Nonetheless, thanks to everyone who helped make the transition easier and to the many of you who paid for a subscription to support the ongoing work of Today’s Edition. Going forward, the newsletter will only be published on Substack. The reasons for the move to the new platform can be found in this link: Moving "Today's Edition" to a New Platform. If the newsletter does not show up in your email as expected (and it isn’t in your spam or junk folders), you can always view the newsletter online at this address: https://roberthubbell.substack.com/. It might be a good idea to click on that link now and “bookmark” the Today’s Edition page on Substack. That way, you will always have the website saved in your browser if you want to read the newsletter online.

          I am honored that you read the newsletter and I will strive to help make sense of the news as we continue our efforts to make America a more open, tolerant, and just democracy.

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          President Joe Biden continues to act boldly as he reaches the 100-day mark in his presidency. Candidate Biden pledged to formally recognize as genocide the massacre and forced displacement of millions of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in 1915. Biden is the first president to label the atrocities as genocide, though several presidential candidates (including Barack Obama) pledged to do so but did not follow through on their promises. See Time Magazine, “Biden Recognizes Atrocities Against Armenians as Genocide.” The government of Turkey has resisted labeling the mass killings as genocide, claiming instead that the deaths occurred during a civil war in which Armenians in eastern Anatolia allegedly joined invading Russian forces against the Ottoman Empire. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted that “We entirely reject this statement based solely on populism. . . . We have nothing to learn from anybody on our own past.”

          Biden’s bold decision is controversial and will strain relations with an important U.S. ally that is drifting away from NATO. In taking a strong stand, Biden continues to surprise allies and critics alike, who underestimated the mettle of our oldest president. With one notable exception (failing to sanction Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman), Biden has taken principled stands on foreign policy. See Foreign Policy, “Joe Biden's 100-Day Report Card by Foreign Policy.” (“The new administration’s speed at moving to heal alliances and reassert the U.S. global role is a surprise to many at home and abroad who expected Biden to be busy nursing the country’s wounds.”)

          On the domestic front, Biden surprised everyone—especially Wall Street—by floating the idea of raising the long-term capital gains tax from 20% to 39.6% for taxpayers earning over $1 million annually. See Reuters, “Biden to float historic tax increase on investment gains for the rich.” Former N.J. Chris Christie took to the airwaves on Sunday to declare that the proposed increase amounted to “socialism.” See Mediate, “Chris Christie Says ‘Far-Left’ President Biden’s Capital Gains Tax is ‘Socialism’ as Angela Rye, Heidi Heitkamp Audibly Laugh.” Christie’s criticism is hyperbolic given that the tax rate on income and short-term capital gains is already at 37%. Biden proposes to make the rate equal for all three types of earnings—income, short-term capital gains, and long-term capital gains. Asking investors to pay the same rate on their investment earnings as workers pay on their income is hardly socialism. Some might call it “fairness.”

          Most importantly, Biden isn’t proposing a tax increase just to “soak the rich”—as some Republicans assert. Rather, Biden has embarked on a brave new path: Paying for increased expenditures with new sources of revenue—a.k.a. “taxes.” Biden’s proposed tax increases would be used to pay for his third major initiative (after Covid relief and infrastructure): The American Families Plan. See Washington Post, Biden’s $1.8 trillion families plan’ would make sweeping changes to spending, taxes.” The Plan would fund national childcare, prekindergarten, paid family leave, tuition-free community college, and other programs that would help working families.

          The American Families Plan will face stiff opposition in Congress, just like his infrastructure plan. But Biden is swinging for the fences. You can disagree with the scale, purpose, or cost of Biden’s plans, but he is making serious proposals that include new revenue to pay for the proposed expenditures. Biden is challenging Congress to legislate in a way that it has not done in at least twelve years (with the exception of the Affordable Care Act). Biden is doing his part. It is now up to members of Congress to do theirs. Perhaps you should let your Representatives and Senators know you feel.  Use these links to call your U.S. Senators or Representative.

Addressing Right-wing Media Claims that “the Mainstream Media” has Exaggerated the Frequency of Police Shootings of Unarmed Black Men

The right-wing media has been claiming for several weeks that the mainstream media is exaggerating the frequency and significance of police shootings of unarmed Black men. The Washington Examiner recently published an article titled, “The media myth that police are hunting down black people.” (I have not included a hyperlink because I don’t want to drive traffic to the Washington Examiner; you can search the title if you want to read the article.) And over the last two weeks, I have received an uptick in emails from readers that say something along the lines, “Statistically, Black men commit a disproportionate percentage of violent crimes, therefore you would expect them to be shot by police more often.” This argument was most recently made by Andrew Sullivan in an article behind a paywall that I cannot link to. But let’s examine the arguments.

          A common theme in the right-wing articles is that “only 17 unarmed Black men” were killed by police in 2019 and is, therefore, a rare event.  Accepting the premise that “only” 17 unarmed Black men were killed by police in 2019, what conclusion does the right-wing media want us to draw? That it’s not a problem? Or that it is a problem, just not a big problem that we should worry about? Let’s change the facts a bit and see how big a problem it should be. Suppose that “only” 17 police officers were killed each year by suspects with guns. Would we minimize that problem? No! We would not and should not. If 17 police officers were shot in the line of duty in a single year, that would rightly be viewed as a national epidemic that would require the full force of government to remedy the problem immediately. Why is it different when it is “only” 17 unarmed Black men?

          The answer may lie in the second argument appearing in the right-wing media. They assert that Black men commit a disproportionately higher rate of violent crimes with guns. Again, accepting that premise for purposes of argument only, what conclusion does the right-wing media want us to draw from that fact? Do they want us to believe that because other Black men have committed violent crimes with guns, it is understandable that police kill unarmed, innocent Black men? I believe that is the conclusion the right-wing media wants us to make—and it is abhorrent. It amounts to the assertion that Black men are inherently more dangerous and, therefore, it is understandable that police shoot them more frequently than unarmed white men. Don’t fall for the false premises and implicit bias in these arguments. The actions of the police should not be determined by the color of the skin of a citizen with whom they interact. Period.

Why You Should Run for Office (Or Encourage Someone You Know to Do So)

The “Stop the Steal” movement of the 2020 campaign has seeped into the marrow of the Republican Party. Two candidates (husband-and-wife) at the local school board in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania are “Stop the Steal” promoters. See Lancaster News Online, “Candidates push false claims - Lancaster LNP. Per the Lancaster News, the husband-and-wife team is also pushing to ban the teaching of “Romeo and Juliet,” and “To Kill a Mockingbird,” because they include “vulgarity, sexuality and violence.”

          We cannot allow “Stop the Steal” believers to insinuate themselves into all levels of government. The solution is to offer talented, responsible candidates to run for city council, school boards, registrars, judgeships, county supervisors, and more. Every year, tens of thousands of elections for local positions have only one candidate. The right-wing is mobilized to run for those offices. We should be, too! If you have never considered running for office, check out Run For Something, which recruits, trains, and mentors first-time candidates. If you can’t run for office, find someone in your life who can, and encourage them to do so.

Should We Be Worried About the Arizona Audit?

The Arizona State Senate is conducting a compromised “audit” of the 2020 election returns in Maricopa County in pursuit of the baseless conspiracy theory that Trump lost in Arizona due to massive fraud. See Tucson.com, “Arizona Senate's audit of 2020 election will continue despite judge's concerns.” Rachel Maddow has been all over this story, pointing out the many bizarre ways in which the “audit” is being run by the very conspiracy theorists who are trying to prove their conspiracy. See MSNBC,  “Sketchy Pro-Trump Audit Off to Shaky Start in Arizona.”  Should we be worried? No.

          Nothing that happens in Arizona can change the fact that Biden was duly elected by the Electors appointed by the states. The only thing that can happen is that the conspiracy theorists can embarrass themselves and Arizona Republicans. Will they undermine trust in the electoral process by calling into question the integrity of the election? Yes, among Republicans, but not among Democrats. People who believe that elections are rigged tend not to vote. So, the only victims of the bizarre audit are likely to be Republicans in Arizona, who will have their faith in the system eroded further.

Final Stretch in Texas Congressional District No. 6

          There are several vacancies in the House for which special elections are being held, but there is only one race in which Democrats can flip a seat from red to blue before the 2022 midterms. I have written on several occasions about the race in the Texas Sixth Congressional District. The primary election is next Saturday, May 1st. The election is an “open primary,” meaning that if no candidate receives 50% of the vote, the top two candidates will face one another in the run-off. The campaign manager for one of the candidates, Shawn Lassiter, called to ask for support for Lassiter’s Final Sprint fundraising event—the last chance to raise money for radio buys before the election. The event is Tuesday, April 27, at 7:30 PM Central.

          As I have noted before, there are other Democratic candidates in the race. We must ensure that at least one Democratic candidate makes it into the run-off. If you support another candidate—wonderful! Now is the last moment to help your candidate before the election next Saturday. What are you waiting for?

Concluding Thoughts.

          While Republicans seem intent on re-litigating the 2020 election and raising doubts about the existence of and treatment for the coronavirus, Biden is moving forward with all deliberate speed. It makes for a head-spinning dynamic. Our urge is to look forward to the future rather than back to the past. That is a healthy instinct, but Republicans are doubling down on their tactics from 2020. See, e.g., the story about the “Stop the Steal” candidates in the Elizabethtown school board election. We should feel good about Biden’s strong start to the presidency, but we cannot pretend that anything has changed from 2020. We must be as relentless in our defense of democracy as the Republican Party seems to be in its efforts to undermine it. The last four years were good training for the next four. Let’s not forget the lessons of the past as we take renewed confidence from a president whose instinct is to govern in the interests of all Americans.

          Talk to you tomorrow!