Over the last few months, Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson has become one of the most talked about lawmakers in America. He recently said that he won’t be getting the COVID-19 vaccine because he already has the illness.
When President Joe Biden recently voiced support for unions, encouraging workers at Amazon currently involved in a vote to unionize or not to take part in this process, Biden was really just standing up for democracy itself.
Last Friday the Supreme Court indicated that on November 30 it will hear arguments in the Trump administration’s appeal regarding its efforts to exclude undocumented immigrants from being counted in the census numbers used to calculate the apportionment of congressional districts.
Rage has, no doubt, been a powerful political force in U.S. history.
Dr. Carolyn Anderson demonstrates this fact most fully and compellingly in her book White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, in which she analytically chronicles how white racist rage has implicitly informed social policy throughout U.S. history to disable African Americans, preventing them from achieving self-sufficiency and participating in the capitalist economy by restricting their labor mobility, criminalizing them, and enacting legislation that hobbled their participation in the free market and in democracy.
The principles of the Black Lives Matter movement are clearly stated on the organization’s website. The BLM website reads, “Our intention from the very beginning was to connect Black people from all over the world who have a shared desire for justice to act together in their communities.”
Still, Conservative media has painted the group as some kind of terrorist organization. Tucker Carlson took it a step further on Thursday night, saying that if the Black Lives Matter movement isn’t defeated, the country will not survive.
Carlson, unsurprisingly, began his screed by blaming Barack Obama. “
The violence that Obama’s youth brigades have unleashed on this country in anything have increased racial bigotry and distrust,” he said. “The riots have certainly accelerated residential segregation as higher income people flee the racially diverse cities for sedate monochromatic destinations such as Martha’s Vineyard, where by the way, Barack Obama himself lives.”
Donald Trump mocked Mitt Romney on Thursday, claiming the Utah senator would struggle to win an election in the state. This is despite Romney’s huge popularity there.
The President made the comments, apparently unprompted, during an appearance in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. He’s often taken aim at the Republican senator after he voted in favor of impeachment.
Utah, the home of our worst senator.. that’s Mitt Romney,” Trump said.
Donald Trump has repeatedly declared himself the “law and order” candidate, wearing this mantle proudly. At last week’s Republican National Convention, the array of speakers trumpeted this slogan again and again as the dominant chord of Trump’s otherwise ill-defined policy platform.
Many, many fans of country music lean Conservative politically. Who could ever forget the treatment of the Dixie Chicks (now just the Chicks) after they criticized the Presidency of George W. Bush.
But many of today’s country music stars are willing to talk about their Liberal beliefs. This includes major names like Jason Isbell, Kacey Musgraves and The Brothers Osborne.
But stars from another generation are willing to speak out about Liberal causes as well. During a recent interview with Billboard Magazine Dolly
Parton came out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Of course Black lives matter,” she said. “Do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter? No!”
Parton also got into the issue of religious hypocrisy when it comes to the movement. “All these good Christian people that are supposed to be such good Christian people, the last thing we’re supposed to do is to judge one another. God is the judge, not us. I just try to be myself. I try to let everybody else be themselves”
The country music legend has long hosted a dinner event called The Dixie Stampede. She explained:
“When they said ‘Dixie’ was an offensive word, I thought, ‘Well, I don’t want to offend anybody. This is a business. We’ll just call it ‘The Stampede.’ As soon as you realize that [something] is a problem, you should fix it. Don’t be a dumbass. That’s where my heart is. I would never dream of hurting anybody on purpose.”
Donald Trump said he’s fine with losing the election in November if he’s wrong about Black Lives Matter. The President harshly criticized the movement and athletes kneeling for the national anthem.
Trump gave a long and rambling interview to Fox News on Wednesday where he touched on a variety of subjects. At one point he talked about Black Lives Matter and his reelection chances.
“If I’m wrong, I’m going to lose an election. OK? And that’s OK with me,” Trump said.
Watch the video:
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) August 5, 2020
Despite this rare admission, the President continued to attack Black Lives Matter and reiterated one of his favorite claims: that he’s been the best modern president for African Americans.
“Black Lives Matter? Nobody’s done better for our black community than me. Nobody,” Trump said.
“And that is with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln, it’s true.”
Trump stunned Axios reporter Jonathan Swan with this claim in an interview released on Tuesday. The President argued with Swan that he had done more than Lyndon Johnson, who passed the Civil Rights Act.
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The Black Lives Matter movement, in demanding that we reconsider how Black lives have been valued, or rather de-valued, in U.S. culture, society, and political economy, essentially asks us as well to interrogate our entire system of economic and cultural values.
On what basis do we in our socio-economic system and culture assign different values to people’s lives?
Such a question really brings us to the heart of our class society that we really tend not just to take for granted but to see as absolutely justified. Of course the CEO, the doctor, the manager, or the lawyer make more than the agricultural worker in the field, the grocery store clerk, the bus driver, or the mail carrier.
The U.S. dominant culture doesn’t ask us to question this state of affairs, and so most people don’t. Even if we argue over the degree of income inequality, few argue for full and outright economic equality and for an end to this differential valuation. Our cultural value system tends to justify this differential valuation of work and thus by extension the differential valuation of the lives of the workers. And we know, of course, that often the work of devalued because of who is doing it. Women and people of color have historically received less pay for the same work white men are doing.
Based on their wages, people have different access to healthcare, to education, to housing—to basic means of survival. They may have no access at all. The story we are told is that this arrangement is a meritocracy, so people get what they deserve. In other words, some lives deserve less—and thus they matter less.
We also like to say in our culture that “we,” or “people,” aren’t making these decisions, but rather an indifferent market is determining the economic value of work—and hence the human value of workers’ lives.
But it really isn’t the market. Gains in benefits and pay and improvements in working conditions have historically been the result of the collective organizing and protest of workers, often far more violent and deadly for workers than the protests we are witnessing today. Maybe you’ve seen the bumper sticker: “The Weekend: Brought to You by the Labor Movement.” This is why we see wages and benefits are invariably lower for non-unionized workers and why the right wing continues to undermine the power of labor unions.
The market isn’t determining the value of people’s lives; people through brute political will and force are.
We see “essential workers” these days–upon whom, it should now be crystal clear, we all vitally depend for our food and survival—being effectively forced to work, and this recognition in our culture of their “essential value” has not translated into an elevation in their economic value, in the mattering of their lives as registered in the resources, the money, they have to take care of their lives.
The police murder of George Floyd, just one in a long string of murders of African Americans at the hands of police for which there had been little to no accountability, constituted a tipping point, triggering widespread protests by American finally declaring, “Enough.” What America on the whole had willfully denied—the reality of racism—it has seemed to admit, on the whole.
What will it take to reach this tipping point on the injustice of class inequality?
Millions of Americans are suffering.
Recent statistics show 26 million Americans cannot afford to pay for adequate food for their families and are going hungry.
Keep in mind that millions of Americans lost their health insurance when they lost their jobs. This July 32% of U.S. households could not make their full housing payment, making the fourth month in a row of “historically high” numbers of Americans unable to meet these payments.
This past week another 1.4 million Americans filed for unemployment.
And yet the Republican Senate is loath to extend enhanced unemployment benefits or approve another relief package for the average American wanting work.
Meanwhile, millions, nay billions, of dollars are being distributed to the wealthiest among us who are doing just fine. Nicholas Kristoff reported in The New York Times that last relief package provided $135 billion dollars in “relief” for real estate developers, offering retroactive tax breaks for periods that preceded the coronavirus outbreak. As Jason Easley has reported for PoliticusUsa.com, businesses connected to the families of Donald Trump and Jared Kushner have also received millions, as have businesses of families connected to Mitch McConnell.
But it’s not about these individuals. It’s about the wealthiest class in America using its power to raid the nation’s coffers we taxpayers fill, supposedly to serve us all in democratic fashion.
We see class inequality isn’t just about income inequality. It’s about the unequal power in the key political processes of decision-making.
How much is enough?
Remember Trump’s tax cuts?
These tax cuts benefited the wealthy and did not trickle down, despite Trump’s promises that companies would invest in workers and not cut jobs. Companies like AT&T, Wells Fargo, and General Motors lobbied for them, promising to re-invest their tax savings in their workers and companies to the benefit off the nation as a whole. And yet all of these companies have engaged in massive layoffs or plant closings. AT&T has eliminated over 23,000 jobs since the tax cuts went into effect, despite receiving a $21 billion windfall from the tax cuts with the prospect of cashing in an additional $3 billion annually in tax savings. In November 2018, GM announced it would be closing five plants, eliminating 14,000 jobs in communities across Ohio, Maryland, Michigan, and Ontario, Canada, while buying back $10 billion in stock and earning a net profit of $8 billion on which the company paid no federal tax. Wells Fargo did raise the minimum wage of its employees, though the tax savings for the company were 47 times larger than the cost of that pay raise to the company; and the company announced its plans in September 2018 to eliminate 26,000 jobs, at the same time that it has raised health insurance costs for its employees.
There may be no one George Floyd to push us over the edge, to bring us to the tipping point.
But there are whole classes of people suffering en masse.
When will we tip?
William Barr makes a lot of controversial decisions, but he is not frequently challenged on them. The Attorney General, like others in the Trump administration, tends to appear mostly on friendly news channels like Fox News.
That changed on Tuesday when Barr was called to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. The Attorney General faced tough questions from multiple Reps., but the fiercest interrogator was Washington’s Pramila Jayapal.
Jayapal serves Washington’s 7th District which includes Seattle. Barr’s Justice Department has sent federal agents to Seattle in hope to quell the nightly social justice protests.
The congresswoman took issue with Barr sending troops to her city, but doing nothing when armed militias stormed the Michigan Capitol.
Rep. Jayapal hammers AG Barr pic.twitter.com/LvWHUkTvLf
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) July 28, 2020
Jayapal said to Barr:
“When white men with swastikas storm a government building with guns, there is no need for the president to ‘activate’ you, because they’re getting the president’s personal agenda done. But when black people and people of color protest police brutality, systemic racism, and the president’s very own lack of response to those critical issues, then you forcibly remove them with armed federal officers [and] pepper bombs because they are considered terrorists by the president.”
The exchange quickly went viral on Twitter with Progressives happy to see a lawmaker go head to head with the Attorney General.
The Washington Rep. had another viral moment when Arizona congresswoman Debbie Lesko repeatedly butchered her name. She shouted to Lesko, “It’s Jayapal. If you’re going to say my name, please say it right. It’s Jayapal.”
Brown women everywhere: pic.twitter.com/R1okLn0wpd
A judge in Oregon has issued a temporary restraining order against federal agents in Portland. The move comes amid growing criticism of federal law enforcement in the city.
District Judge Michael H. Simon issued a 14-day order to stop federal agents “arresting, threatening to arrest, or using physical force” journalists and legal observers. The order does not apply to protesters.
Now: Oregon judge issues TRO against federal agents on the ground in Portland /// 14-day order restricts 'arresting, threatening to arrest, or using physical force' against journalists and legal observers https://t.co/ojv83d44iu pic.twitter.com/dna9osMOZW
The Mayor of Portland has lashed out at the Trump administration after he was teargassed in the city on Wednesday night. He accused the federal government of running an occupation.
Ted Wheeler spoke to protesters in Oregon and was later teargassed along with them by federal agents. He made some remarks to the New York Times which were publicized on Thursday morning.
“I’m not afraid, but I am pissed off,” Wheeler said.
“This is an egregious overreaction on the part of the federal officers.”
Watch the video:
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler says the tear gas stings. Says egregious overreaction from feds. Calls it urban warfare. pic.twitter.com/hrRICiNGHn
— Mike Baker (@ByMikeBaker) July 23, 2020
“This is not a de-escalation strategy,” Wheeler said.
Kevin McCarthy wants to withhold federal funds from any state that does not protect statues from protesters. The Republican will offer a bill to give legal effect to his idea.
The House Minority Leader is reacting to recent protests following the death of George Floyd. Demonstrators have targeted several statues, particularly those depicting slaveholders and other racists.
McCarthy framed his bill as forcing states and cities to uphold the law.
“I’ll be introducing legislation to withhold funding from states and cities where leaders fail to uphold the law,” McCarthy said.
“The mobs that Democrats encourage suppress speech and punish those who speak out.”
“Democrats encourage it because they think it is a distraction, that their agenda can skate by unnoticed. They see it as a supplement to the radical movement in the streets.”
The California Republican also took aim at his Democratic colleagues in the House for their apparent failure to denounce protesters targeting statues.
“Unfortunately, though, some on the left encouraged by the silence of Democratic leaders including the Speaker of this House are trying to erase our story, they want to erase our history,” McCarthy said.
“Whether it’s a monument of Abraham Lincoln freeing the slaves or four of our greatest, Democrats no longer view the richness of our country’s history worthy.”
“Not only do they want to erase our past, they want to radically change the way we live today. The mobs the Democrats encourage destroy property, they threaten and sometimes even attack innocent citizens.”
McCarthy’s bill is unlikely to succeed in the House, where
Democrats control the majority.
Donald Trump has called Black Lives Matter a “symbol of hate.” The President took to Twitter to attack New York City and Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday.
“NYC is cutting Police $’s by ONE BILLION DOLLARS, and yet the NYC Mayor is going to paint a big, expensive, yellow Black Lives Matter sign on Fifth Avenue, denigrating this luxury Avenue,” Trump wrote.
….horrible BLM chant, “Pigs In A Blanket, Fry ‘Em Like Bacon”. Maybe our GREAT Police, who have been neutralized and scorned by a mayor who hates & disrespects them, won’t let this symbol of hate be affixed to New York’s greatest street. Spend this money fighting crime instead!
As many have pointed out, making Black lives matter is a precursor to making all lives matter. To make all lives matter, we have to address the ways certain lives, particularly those of people of color in the United States, have been devalued. Put another way, we can’t create a culture and society that values all lives unless we identify and root out the mechanisms and value systems that have been enabling the devaluation, the differential valuing, of particular groups’ lives.
Trump is testing out his racist messages by accusing Black Lives Matter of committing treason against the United States.
Vice President Mike Pence was repeatedly asked to say the words “Black lives matter” during an interview with 6ABC Action News in Philadelphia.
The vice president declined.
“Let me just say that what happened to George Floyd was a tragedy,” he said, referring to the unarmed black man whose death in police custody last month sparked a wave of protests against racial injustice and police brutality nationwide.
“And in this nation, especially on Juneteenth, we celebrate the fact that from the founding of this nation we’ve cherished the ideal that all, all of us are created equal, and endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. And so all lives matter in a very real sense.”
Pence’s remarks, coming on Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the official end of slavery in the United States, received immediate criticism.
I used to do what Pence does here. Respond with “All lives matter.” But I was wrong then, and Pence is wrong now. Saying “Black Lives Matter” is acknowledging that if George Floyd were white, he’d still be alive. Black lives simply want to be on equal footing. Shame on Pence. https://t.co/EI2YiRGOCJ
Trump tried to give a speech on policing reform that turned into a ramble about the economy and closed with a defense of the Confederacy.
Amidst the recent mass nationwide uprisings, dominated by the sentiments of the Black Lives Matter movement, an effective reincarnation of the Civil Rights Movement, the Trump administration has continued its efforts to deny transgender people civil rights, denying them equal protections under the law.