Sunday, June 14, 2020

The Blue Wave Rises, Con't

President Barack Obama's support of Black Lives Matter during his second term was absolutely the right thing to do, but there's no question that it cost the Democrats dearly with white voters in 2014 and 2016. Now, in 2020, things have changed so rapidly that Democrats across the board look to be gaining massive support heading into November, in one of the biggest political shift of our era. CNN's Harry Enten:

The Iowa Poll released Saturday night showed Democratic Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield with major momentum. 
Forty-six percent of likely voters would vote for Greenfield if the election were held today compared to 43% who would vote for Republican Sen. Joni Ernst -- a within the margin of error advantage for the challenger. 
While it's still early and things could change, this Iowa poll, conducted by Selzer & Co., is the latest state survey for either the race for the White House or Senate to show a clear shift toward Democrats since protests began nationwide following the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer. 
These state polls in aggregate suggest that the movement toward former Vice President Joe Biden seen in the national polls is funneling down to the state level. 
As previously done, I gathered all the telephone state polling that called cellphones. This time I limited my data set to surveys conducted after the protests began. Then I compared the result of those questions to the 2016 presidential vote in the state. In total, we're looking at 11 questions that asked about either the presidential or the Senate race in any particular state. 
The Democratic candidate is running ahead of Hillary Clinton's margin by an average of 10 points. Although the sample size is small, the average overperformances were within a point of the 10 point average when examining the Senate and presidential races as distinct groups. When a similar calculation was made about a month ago, Biden was doing about 5 or 6 points better than Clinton on average in the state polling. 
The latest state polls imply that Biden has a double-digit advantage nationally given that Clinton won the popular vote by 2 points. These state polls are in sync with the national polls that show Biden's lead at 10 points. 
Importantly, many of these polls have been conducted across states that are the heart of the 2020 battleground. States like Arizona and Wisconsin are included in this group. Polls have also been conducted in states that Biden would like to win, but aren't must wins for him, such as Ohio and Texas. Crucially, these are demographically distinct states in different regions of the country indicating that Trump is losing ground in a lot of different places. 
All together, it's the latest evidence that Trump cannot count on the electoral college to save him. The leads that Biden is earning right now are well outside any potential polling miscue like the one that occurred on the state level in 2016. The former vice president, simply put, is well ahead of Trump at this time.

It's finally settling with voters that Donald Trump considers everyone expendable as far as maintaining his grip on power, the elderly and immuno-compromised with COVID-19, the working class and tens of millions of unemployed with the Trump Depression, and anyone who disagrees with him on racism as shown by his willing to use the military against Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the country.

Nearly everyone falls into at least one of these three categories, and they are finally, finally realizing that the problem is the Republicans who continue to enable Trump's immorality time and time again.

They want them all gone.

Four years ago the last-minute break of "I hate both of them but I have to vote for one of them" voters to Trump sealed the fate of the country.  This time that choice has been made months in advance, and it's to see the GOP wiped out.

Trump's people know the 2018 blue wave is a 2020 blue tsunami this time, and very few Republicans will survive.

In the characterization of one source close to the president, a chunk of the re-election team focuses on proving to the president that his “dumpster-fire numbers” aren’t as bad as they seem, or reinforcing Trump’s conviction that pollsters get it wrong “all the time. 
But not everyone on Team Trump is buying the spin. In fact, efforts to pacify the president about the polls and his campaign’s position ahead of November have been undercut from within, with several key advisers making personal entreaties to Trump in the past few weeks to try to convince him that he should not brush off the numbers, even unpleasant ones that comes from news organizations such as CNN.

“I have told the president that the numbers are real and that I believe he can and will win, but that right now it looks bad,” said a Republican who recently spoke to Trump. “He said, ‘Come on, don’t you know that’s all fake?’ But in a lot of these internal numbers [that I’ve seen], we’re way down right now.” 
“Something needs to change,” the Trump ally added.

This person wasn’t the only one sounding the alarm over the past month. Two other sources who’ve spoken to the president lately—one of whom is a senior administration official—said that when the topic of polls came up they advised Trump that the surveys on swing states and key demographics seemed bleak. Both said they were concerned the president wasn’t taking them as seriously as they had wished.

Outside the campaign, a belief has grown that the Pollyannaish advisers surrounding the president—and who are feeding him news that won’t puncture his feel-good bubble—are doing a disservice to both their clients and their professions.

“There are a few pollsters who are bought and paid for, and they will tell you [the client] what you want to hear,” Frank Luntz, a famed-GOP pollster and Trump-skeptical conservative, said, without naming names. “There are pollsters [for whom] if the check is big enough, the lie will be big enough.” 
“I don’t envy those who have to tell Donald Trump what he doesn’t want to hear,” Luntz continued. “I’ve met him several times, I’ve met Biden several times. I would rather present bad [polling] information to Biden than Donald Trump. Presenting bad information or tough information to Joe Biden, you’ll break his heart, if you present tough information to Donald Trump, he breaks your arm.”

I'm perfectly fine with this arrangement.  Biden has to win by double-digits to keep Trump from doing something catastrophic and to keep his dirty tricks from being enough to steal the election.  But I worry about what Trump's October Surprise this time around will be.  He won in large part thanks to James Comey in the last two weeks.

What will happen this time around and what will the sheer scope of it have to be to overcome a pandemic that has killed 115,000, an economic depression, and the largest civil rights movement since the 60's?

Sunday Long Read: War-Weary Of COVID

America has all but given up on fighting COVID-19, and the consequences are going to be catastrophic, as Alexis Madrigal and Robinson Meyer at The Altantic warn.

After months of deserted public spaces and empty roads, Americans have returned to the streets. But they have come not for a joyous reopening to celebrate the country’s victory over the coronavirus. Instead, tens of thousands of people have ventured out to protest the killing of George Floyd by police.

Demonstrators have closely gathered all over the country, and in blocks-long crowds in large cities, singing and chanting and demanding justice. Police officers have dealt with them roughly, crowding protesters together, blasting them with lung and eye irritants, and cramming them into paddy wagons and jails.

There’s no point in denying the obvious: Standing in a crowd for long periods raises the risk of increased transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This particular form of mass, in-person protest—and the corresponding police response—is a “perfect set-up” for transmission of the virus, Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a radio interview on Friday. Some police-brutality activists (such as Black Lives Matter Seattle) have issued statements about the risk involved in the protests. Others have organized less risky forms of protests, such as Oakland’s Anti Police-Terror Project’s massive “caravan for justice.”

The risk of transmission is complicated by, and intertwined with, the urgent moral stakes: Systemic racism suffuses the United States. The mortality gap between black and white people persists. People born in zip codes mere miles from one another might have life-expectancy gaps of 10 or even 20 years. Two racial inequities meet in this week’s protests: one, a pandemic in which black people are dying at nearly twice their proportion of the population, according to racial data compiled by the COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic; and two, antiblack police brutality, with its long American history and intensifying militarization. Floyd, 46, survived COVID-19 in April, but was killed under the knee of a police officer in May.

Americans may wish the virus to be gone, but it is not. While the outbreak has eased in the Northeast, driving down the overall national numbers, cases have only plateaued in the rest of the country, and they appear to be on the rise in recent days in COVID Tracking Project data. Twenty-two states reported 400 or more new cases Friday, and 14 other states and Puerto Rico reported cases in the triple digits. Several states—including Arizona, North Carolina, and California—are now seeing their highest numbers of known cases.

These numbers all reflect infections that likely began before this week of protest. An even larger spike now seems likely. Put another way: If the country doesn’t see a substantial increase in new COVID-19 cases after this week, it should prompt a rethinking of what epidemiologists believe about how the virus spreads.

But as the pandemic persists, more and more states are pulling back on the measures they’d instituted to slow the virus. The Trump administration’s Coronavirus Task Force is winding down its activities. Its testing czar is returning to his day job at the Department of Health and Human Services. As the long, hot summer of 2020 begins, the facts suggest that the U.S. is not going to beat the coronavirus. Collectively, we slowly seem to be giving up. It is a bitter and unmistakably American cruelty that the people who might suffer most are also fighting for justice in a way that almost certainly increases their risk of being infected.

The protests have led to unusually agonized public-health communication. They have not been met with the stern admonition to stay home that has greeted earlier mass gatherings. Given the long-standing health inequities that black Americans have experienced, hundreds of public-health professionals signed a letter this week declining to oppose the protests “as risky for COVID-19 transmission”: “We support them as vital to the national public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people in the United States,” they wrote. Yet the protests are indisputably risky, and officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have warned that the gatherings might “seed” new outbreaks.

Protesters themselves are not necessarily ignoring the pandemic. In videos of marches taken this week, many if not most of the demonstrators appeared to be wearing masks. Photos and videos of protests show both large, tightly packed crowds and some demonstrators attempting to adhere to some form of social distancing. Protesters carrying hand sanitizer and water pass through the crowd in many cities.

But the evidence does not reveal universal compliance with public-health guidelines. Protesters lay close together on the ground in many cities for nearly nine-minute-long “die-ins,” evoking the length of time that Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck. Many protests have involved some form of shouting, chanting, or singing, which research suggests can be especially effective modes of transmission for the virus. Earlier this week, near the White House, a mostly masked crowd loudly sang “Lean on Me.”
Protesters and public-health officials alike may be taking into account what The New York Times called “a growing consensus” that being outdoors mitigates some risk of transmission. The virus appears to perish quickly in a sunny, humid environment, even at room temperature, according to research conducted in April by the Department of Homeland Security. (Viral particles may survive for hours longer in drier conditions, and epidemiologists do not believe that these climatic effects alone will dampen the outbreak.) The virus also seems to be more difficult to transmit outside, especially during the day, though scientists still do not know enough about the virus to say confidently that large outdoor gatherings are completely safe. The number of protests over the past week means that researchers will soon have a much better understanding of the risks of outdoor transmission.

So we'll see.  It's possible that things won't be as bad as previously thought.  But it's also possible that the country will see a massive spike in new COVID-19 cases that will quickly overwhelm places without the resources of a New York City or Los Angeles.

And then?

Then things get really awful.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

Another black life taken, another black person shot and killed by police, this time in Atlanta. Remember the name Rayshard Brooks. But unlike the times before it, accountability of those in charge of the police was taken with a swiftness.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Saturday that police Chief Erika Shields is stepping down after an officer shot and killed a black man during an arrest attempt the night before.

Bottoms said Shields made the decision to resign her top post, which the mayor accepted. The city will launch a national search for her replacement.

“Chief Erika Shields has been a solid member of APD for over two decades and has a deep and abiding love for the people of Atlanta. And because of her desire that Atlanta be a model of what meaningful reform should look like across this country, Chief Shields has offered to immediately step aside as police chief so that the city may move forward with urgency in rebuilding the trust so desperately needed throughout our community,” Bottoms said.

Assistant police Chief Rodney Bryant will serve as the interim chief. Bottoms said Shields “will continue in a role, to be determined.”

Bottoms also called for the termination of the police officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks on Friday. Brooks took a Taser from an arresting officer, officials said. As Brooks ran away, Bottoms said he turned over his shoulder and appeared to fire the Taser at one of the officers. The officer shot Brooks.

“While there may be debate as to whether this was an appropriate use of deadly force, I firmly believe that there is a clear distinction between what you can do and what you should do. I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force and have called for the immediate termination of the officer,” Bottoms said.

Another officer at the scene has been placed on administrative duty, Bottoms said.

Atlanta protesters took to the streets Saturday for the third weekend with added outrage after Brooks, a 27-year-old black man,was shot and killed at a Wendy’s amid a struggle with police.

Video footage of the incident has been posted on social media and shared widely. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the incident.

There was no way Shields could have continued as Chief of Police after this, not in Atlanta.  While I expect the now terminated officer to face legal charges, it's also extremely positive to see Shields step down on her own accord.

The problem isn't just the officers, it's the administration.  And Shields doing the right thing and making way for someone else should be an example to police departments across the country.

Black Lives Matter is having an impact.  Before, Shields would have remained, maybe the officer would have been put on leave pending investigation, then cleared to go back to work while the city settled out of court.

No longer. It's a new era.

The police chief on a Lake Erie resort island has been placed on leave and two officers have resigned following the arrests of a group of black tourists riding on a golf cart, the mayor said.
Police body cameras showed Put-in-Bay officers used stun guns on at least two people during the stop last weekend that began when two white officers said the golf cart’s operator was driving recklessly.

In all, nine people were arrested on charges including assault, aggravated rioting and resisting arrest. A county prosecutor dismissed the charges against six and told the Sandusky Register that charges against the others also would likely be dropped.

Eight of the nine arrested were black, the newspaper said. Some of their family members said the arrests were racially motivated.

Village Mayor Jessica Dress said Thursday there will be a thorough review of what happened, and that Police Chief Steve Riddle was being placed on administrative leave during the investigation.

Two officers also resigned, Dress said, without explaining why. Several other officers were involved in the arrests.

“As a community, we hold our police department accountable for any and all of its decisions,” the mayor said in a statement

I would say that we need more of this, but we don't need any more racism and any more killings and injuries.  We need racist cops to be let go and more importantly the police unions and administration that enable these assholes need to be gone as well.

Black Lives Matter.

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