Is nothing sacred?*
*credit to SMITW
Is nothing sacred?*
*credit to SMITW
Katherine Eban in Vanity Fair.
In early April:
“. . . the prospect of launching a large-scale national plan was losing favor, said one public health expert in frequent contact with the White House’s official coronavirus task force.
Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.
That logic may have swayed Kushner. “It was very clear that Jared was ultimately the decision maker as to what [plan] was going to come out,” the expert said.
On April 27, Trump stepped to a podium in the Rose Garden, flanked by members of his coronavirus task force and leaders of America’s big commercial testing laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, and finally announced a testing plan: It bore almost no resemblance to the one that had been forged in late March, and shifted the problem of diagnostic testing almost entirely to individual states.”
When “effective political strategizing” substitutes for human decency.
1. Owners and Election Day: A Chance to do the Right Thing. Two sociologists call for Congress to declare the first Tuesday in November, Election Day, a national holiday. Along the way, they destroy the “athletes should just shut up and dribble” argument.
“About a dozen states have declared Election Day a state holiday, including, in the last few months, both Virginia and Illinois, and many states give their workers time off to vote. A majority of Democrats (71%) and Republicans (59%) support having Election Day become a national holiday, but many Republicans clearly want fewer, not more, people to vote.”
2. Topless Beach Drone Scandal! Do the Golden Valley Police Department and the Minneapolis Park Police get any points for good intentions? Prob not.
“The Golden Valley Police Department’s well-intended but very wrong assumption about drone as deescalation tool is a familiar one among regular drone users. Because its people were comfortable with drones, they grossly overestimated how comfortable the average person actually is with the prospect of being looked at by a flying camera drone, much less one that’s zeroing in on their private bits.”
[Editor’s note—Major props to Ron for leading with the sociologists and not the second, click-bait reading. Role model.]
3. How Police Unions Fight Reform.
I believe The New Yorker pays its writers by the word. You would never know that by how fast Finnegan starts. Paragraphs 3-5.
“In many cities, including New York, the unions are a political force, their endorsements and campaign donations coveted by both Republicans and Democrats. The legislation they support tends to get passed, their candidates elected. They insist on public displays of respect and may humiliate mayors who displease them. They defy reformers, including police chiefs, who struggle to fire even the worst-performing officers. In an era when other labor unions are steadily declining in membership and influence, police unions have kept their numbers up, their coffers full. In Wisconsin, the Republican governor, Scott Walker, led a successful campaign to eliminate union rights for most of the state’s public employees. The exceptions were firefighters and police.
Police unions enjoy a political paradox. Conservatives traditionally abhor labor unions but support the police. The left is critical of aggressive policing, yet has often muted its criticism of police unions—which are, after all, public-sector unions, an endangered and mostly progressive species.
In their interstitial safe zone, police unions can offer their members extraordinary protections. Officers accused of misconduct may be given legal representation paid for by the city, and ample time to review evidence before speaking to investigators. In many cases, suspended officers have their pay guaranteed, and disciplinary recommendations of oversight boards are ignored. Complaints submitted too late are disqualified. Records of misconduct may be kept secret, and permanently destroyed after as little as sixty days.”
4. Discovery in Mexican Cave May Drastically Change the Known Timeline of Humans’ Arrival to the Americas. Archeologists can’t agree on when humans arrived in the Americas. It may have been twice as long ago.
5. How to Handle Anxiety Over Back-to-School Decisions.
“It’s helpful to remember that in times of chaos, the dogged search for certainty can itself lead to distress. . . . the goal is not to guarantee that your child will never be exposed to a virus particle. That is impossible. The goal is to make a realistic plan that will holistically keep teachers, families and children as safe as possible.”
One excellent insight after another.
“When your mind starts moving into the slippery slope of unproductive worries, try naming them: ‘There goes my mind again.’ This highlights the difference between ‘having a thought’ and ‘burying a thought.’ When unproductive worries strike, you don’t have to go down that rabbit hole of trying to disprove them or reassure yourself, you can just let them be. It’s not bad feelings or thoughts that are the problem. It’s what we do with them that causes more suffering.”
The author, Dr. Pooja Lakshmin, M.D. is working on a book about the tyranny of self-care. I predict that is going to be a very good read.
Follow up to yesterday’s graphic which prompted this question from a lefty reader who is also a great daughter not just because she reads and comments on the humble blog.
“Is it bad for people to feel like they can’t say offensive things?”
For me, that begs this question, who gets to decide what’s “offensive”? A majority of your peers, but the First Amendment is explicitly designed to protect minority viewpoints.
Sure, given most people’s instincts for self preservation, publicly shaming anyone with retrograde, anti-social, even hateful opinions will probably get them to censure themselves.
But does that constitute progress? Isn’t it better to know what people honestly think because only then can we begin to deconstruct and challenge the parts that most reasonable people find offensive?
What if forcing those who communicate offensive things causes them to not just shut down, but to double-down on their ideology. Do we want those we find offensive to go “underground”, and in essence, let their retrograde ideas silently fester in their own heads? Won’t that make them more likely to eventually act upon their “offensive” ideas?
I find Louis Brandeis’s axiom convincing, “The light of day is the best disinfectant.”
“A 2009 study out of Ohio State found that people spend 36% more time reading an essay if it aligns with their opinions. In the 2016 US Presidential election, a majority of those who voted for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton did not have a single friend who was voting for their non-preferred candidate.
. . . In general, we flock to those with whom we share a cultural, religious, political or ideological identity. In doing so, we surround ourselves with a chorus of yes people who reinforce the validity of our opinions. Given the emotional wrangling involved with confronting conflicting ideas, immersing ourselves in an ideologically homogeneous pool is infinitely easer than alternative. If everyone with whom we associate looks, acts and thinks like we do, we are able to ‘successfully’ skirt a number of tough internal struggles.”
Daniel Crosby on confirmation bias in The Behavioral Investor.
Thanks to the “invisible enemy”, today, like everyday I cycle now, I traded Olympia’s finest athletes for Khalid, DaBaby, Drake, Billie Eilish, Alice Phoebe Lou, Grimes, the Biebs, Post Malone, Roddy Rich, and Halsey. A pop, hip hop, pop, and more hip hop full meal deal.*
Where does Halsey get off repeatedly singing to me . . .
‘Cause you’re not half the man you think that you are
And you can’t fill the hole inside of you with money, drugs and cars
I’m so glad I never ever had a baby with you
‘Cause you can’t love nothin’ unless there’s somethin’ in it for you
A line-by-line deconstruction . . .
‘Cause you’re not half the man you think that you are—Who do you think you are being all judgy?! Humility is one of my best qualities so I’m probably twice the man I think I am.
And you can’t fill the hole inside of you with money, drugs and cars—Okay, I will give you this one, but if you were a regular reader of the blog you’d know I’m down with Stoicism, so that little bit of life coaching wasn’t all that necessary.
I’m so glad I never ever had a baby with you—Presume much? I don’t ever recall proposing such.
‘Cause you can’t love nothin’ unless there’s somethin’ in it for you—Aren’t ulterior motives lurking just below the surface for most mortals, most of the time?
Since this is a family friendly blog, the lawyers have asked me to ask you to not, like tens of millions other people, go watch Halsey’s racy “You Should Be So Sad” video.
*The airpods are in only when not in congested areas that require all the senses all the time. Do not try this at home.
Black Lives Matter is an interesting social protest movement case study of leadership dilemmas. Co-founded in 2013 by three female organizers, BLM has no governing board, instead it coordinates with more than 150 organizations.
Laura Barrón-López of Politico” explains the decentralized structure in Why the Black Lives Matter movement doesn’t want a singular leader”.
“Instead of a pyramid of different departments topped by a leader, there is coordination and a set of shared values spread across a decentralized structure that prizes local connections and fast mobilization in response to police violence. Over the last eight years, the movement has steadily built a modern infrastructure on top of decades-old social justice institutions like the Highlander Center.”
. . . local connections and fast mobilization in response to police violence. More specifically:
“When George Floyd’s killing at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer was captured on film, hundreds of organizations and thousands of activists were ready to launch protests in their cities. They pushed policy with local legislators and police departments and rallied people who hadn’t previously engaged in BLM protests. . . .”
One of the most compelling arguments for a decentralized, horizontal, or flat structure:
“There is no chairperson or candidate calling the shots in private or serving as a public rallying point. With no singular person to attack in tweets, President Donald Trump instead directed his ire and threats of violence at mostly peaceful protesters.
‘In terms of strategy — and this is very real that we have to be honest about this — it makes it harder for those who are against us to do what they did in the ‘60s, which is to target one leader,’ said Cliff Albright, co-founder of Black Voters Matter Fund, a voter engagement nonprofit.”
BLM activists prefer “leaderful” to leaderless. Is it working? In some ways, definitely.
“Activists in cities all over the country are trading notes through the network as they pressure local officials to explore new public safety options, from doing away with police in schools to slashing budgets or reimagining police departments entirely.
Meanwhile, other portions of the movement are organizing bigger national actions. Woodard Henderson, along with the SEIU, the Fight for $15 advocacy group and other unions, orchestrated a strike for Black lives on Monday, with thousands of workers in more than 25 cities walking off the job.”
“But,” Barrón-López notes, “other national policy pushes growing out of the movement have inspired dissension within it.”
“One of the most widely known policy plans to come out of the Black Lives Matter movement is the “8 Can’t Wait” proposals from the racial justice group Campaign Zero. The package is composed of “restrictive use of force policies” for local police departments — including banning chokeholds, mandating de-escalation and warning before shooting — which the group argued would decrease killings.
. . . the release of ‘8 Can’t Wait’ in early June was met with swift criticism from a number of activists who felt the proposals did not go far enough in a climate where calls to ‘defund the police’ were gaining wider acceptance. Within a week, Campaign Zero co-founder Brittany Packnett Cunningham announced her departure from the organization in response to the backlash. Campaign Zero issued an apology on its website, saying its campaign ‘unintentionally detracted from efforts of fellow organizers invested in paradigmatic shifts that are newly possible in this moment.'”
To add to the complexity:
“The ‘8 Can’t Wait’ package has also faced opposition from the other direction, though: In Atlanta, the city council passed the package after the killing of Rayshard Brooks by police in a Wendy’s parking lot. But Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms — a Democratic vice presidential contender — vetoed the package, to the frustration of local activists.”
The New York Times reporting on Portland’s protests, “Cities in Bind as Turmoil Spreads Far Beyond Portland” makes me think more identifiable, individual leadership may be needed.
Again, some context. What are people protesting about in Portland?
“The latest catalyst was the deployment of federal law enforcement agents in Portland, Ore., whose militarized efforts to subdue protests around the federal courthouse have sparked mass demonstrations and nightly clashes there. They have also inspired new protests of solidarity in other cities, where people have expressed deep concern about the federal government exercising such extensive authority in a city that has made it clear it opposes the presence of federal agents.”
“In Oakland, what had been a peaceful protest led in part by a group of mothers proclaiming ‘Cops And Feds Off Our Streets’ devolved after dark as another set of protesters smashed windows at the county courthouse and lit a fire inside.”
The President is using images of nightly property damage and related violence to demean Democratic leaders and scare undecided voters.
Again, The Times:
“President Trump has seized on the scenes of national unrest — statues toppled and windows smashed — to build a law-and-order message for his re-election campaign, spending more than $26 million on television ads depicting a lawless dystopia of empty police stations and 911 answering services that he argues might be left in a nation headed by his Democratic rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr.
. . . The situation has left city leaders, now watching the backlash unfold on their streets, outraged and caught in the middle. Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle said in an interview Sunday that the city is in the middle of a self-fulfilling prophecy, with protesters infuriated by the federal presence in Portland smashing windows and setting fires, the very images of ‘anarchy’ that the president has warned about.”
Oakland’s mayor, Libby Schaaf, has been even more blunt:
‘I’m furious that Oakland may have played right into Donald Trump’s twisted campaign strategy. Images of a vandalized downtown is exactly what he wants to whip up his base and to potentially justify sending in federal troops that will only incite more unrest.'”
Biden’s campaign team doesn’t appear too worried about this because they believe the police issue is “being treated by many voters as a distraction by Mr. Trump from his faltering coronavirus pandemic response and the struggling economy.”
Scott Jennings, a veteran Republican strategist sees it differently, “If there is a danger for Democrats generically, it is if the Republicans are able to define them as being on the side of the anarchists in Portland.”
The Times adds, “For city officials, the challenge is more immediate than the November election — it is bringing an end to nights of clashes on their streets.”
The most recent protests add urgency to the leadership challenges:
“The focus on the federal agents in Portland has frustrated some activists who see the pushback against their presence as a distraction from the racial injustices that had been the focus of protests in May and June.
In Portland on Saturday night . . . some participants urged the marchers not to forget earlier protests against local police.
‘It’s complicated, it’s chaotic, and it’s a little hard for us to stay focused. We need to stay focused. We cannot forget this is also about the Portland Police Bureau.’ Kinsey Smyth told the crowd. ‘This is not about destruction, this is about rebuilding.'”
Illustrating confirmation bias, conservatives focus on the most violent protestors convinced they are the majority. Their more general criticisms of protestors demonstrate a depressing lack of appreciation for our nation’s history. Do they prefer the masses blissful apathy because they benefit from it?
BLM is an important extension of the American tradition of taking to the streets to highlight the glaring gaps between our stated ideals about equal opportunity, level playing fields, and most people’s daily realities.
BLM activists have made a positive difference and will continue to; especially, I think, if they reconsider their “leaderful” idealism and consider more conventional forms of organization.
But I’ll be happy to be proved wrong.