Democratic Senate candidate and former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper appeared before an ethics hearing Friday after he was held in contempt of court for refusing to appear.
Hickenlooper attended the ethics hearing remotely after Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission voted 5-0 Thursday to hold him in contempt. He is the first person in the state to be held in contempt of court by the Independent Ethics Commission.
“By failing to honor the subpoena of the commission, [Hickenlooper] has indicated a disrespect for the rule of law, disrespect for the commission, disrespect for the process, disrespect for the parties and the witnesses,” commissioner Bill Leone said in a statement Thursday. “The defendant has imposed a tremendous amount of cost and inconvenience on the commission, on the Attorney General’s Office, on the courts, on witnesses and all those who have an interest in this hearing.”
Hickenlooper’s hearing will determine whether the former governor improperly received corporate gifts, in the form of travel expenses, while he was an elected official. Colorado has a state ban on all elected officials accepting such gifts. As a candidate, Hickenlooper has often campaigned against the unwelcome influence of corporate money on politics.
On Wednesday, a judge ruled against Hickenlooper’s petitions to reschedule the ethics hearing. His attorney argued that the hearing, which was being conducted remotely due to coronavirus concerns, would not afford his client a fair trial.
The Public Trust Institute filed the ethics complaint against the former Colorado governor in October 2018 and filed a subsequent complaint in November 2018. The complaints also allege that Hickenlooper expunged public records of gifts he accepted.
Hickenlooper has denied violating his state’s ban on gifts, and his campaign spokeswoman has called the accusations “politically motivated.”
If he triumphs in the primary, Hickenlooper will face incumbent senator Cory Gardner (R., Colo.) in November. The primary is set to take place on June 30.
Michigan’s Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer defied her own controversial social distancing rules while attending a Detroit civil rights protest Thursday. The one came just days after the governor expressed a “high level of concern” that such mass gatherings could spread coronavirus.
Whitmer, who implemented some of the strictest shutdown policies in the country in response to the pandemic, did not adhere to social distancing rules as she joined hundreds in a march from Highland Park to Detroit’s Wayne State University. The Democrat’s latest order, “phase four” of the state’s coronavirus response, allows for outdoor events “so long as people maintain six feet of distance from one another and the assemblage consists of no more than 100 people.”
Whitmer, a potential Democratic vice presidential candidate, previously condemned those protesting her controversial stay-at-home orders, saying “they are not staying six feet apart and then they go back home into communities and the risk of perpetuating the spread of COVID-19 is real.” Michigan Freedom Fund executive director Tony Daunt, who cosponsored April’s “Operation Gridlock” protest, said it was “particularly rich” that Whitmer was “not engaging in social distancing given the statements she made about earlier protests.”
At a Monday press conference, Whitmer expressed a “high level of concern” that large protests could expedite the spread of the virus, which has killed nearly 5,600 in the state. Ingham County health officer Linda Vail echoed her uneasiness, saying she was “concerned” that “the whole social distancing thing wasn’t happening” at protests.
“Aside from the first couple of weeks of this crisis, when everybody was giving the governor leeway to make decisions and rapidly address the information coming in, she’s shown herself to be basing arbitrary and authoritative decisions on nothing but her own personal feelings,” Daunt told the Washington Free Beacon. “There’s no data, no science behind her decisions, it’s just what she feels at the moment. That’s a testament to her mindset—it’s her way or the highway.”
Whitmer spokesman Bobby Leddy told the Free Beacon that the governor did not violate her own order, saying she “took precautions for engaging in an outdoor activity, including wearing a mask even though it is not required outdoors under the order.” He added that the order “includes the right to peaceful protest,” though he did not address the protest’s lack of social distancing or the fact that it exceeded the order’s 100-person threshold for outdoor events. Whitmer removed her mask to speak to the press.
“Social distancing is critical to stop the spread of COVID-19—unless you have a great photo op,” Republican state lawmaker Lynn Afendoulis tweeted following the protest.
A correct tweet soon followed, saying, “U.S. jobless rate unexpectedly declined to 13.3 percent in May amid pandemic,” although the story pictured still carried the “grim milestone” headline with the false 20 percent figure.
A WaPo tweet showing an incorrect headline
The text of the Post‘s story, written by economics reporter Eli Rosenberg, remained incorrect even after the headline was changed, according to a screenshot tweeted by author and podcast host Neil Cybart.
“Another 2.5 million workers lost their jobs in May,” the story said, although it was actually 2.5 million workers who obtained jobs.
Looks like the Washington Post pre-wrote their May jobs report article and assumed the 2.5M payroll figure that was released had to have been a drop. Instead, payrolls increased by 2.5M. Oops. pic.twitter.com/q9OJaVWum9
The Post later corrected its story to reflect the real picture of the jobs report. The new version of the article says the economy is recovering “more quickly than economists had projected,” as many states and localities have begun partially reopening after lockdowns in response to the coronavirus:
The federal unemployment rate declined to 13.3 percent in May from 14.7 percent in April, the Department of Labor said Friday, a sign that [the] economy is recovering more quickly than economists had projected.
The economy gained 2.5 million jobs in May, as many states and counties began to reopen with the slowing of coronavirus cases nationwide.
The Post did not respond to a request for comment.
The improvement in the labor market was unexpected good news on Friday, with the jobless rate falling to 13.3 percent in May from 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since World War II. Surveys also show consumer confidence, manufacturing, and services industries are stabilizing.
Stock index futures “sharply extended gains,” according to Reuters.
“These improvements in the labor market reflected a limited resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed in March and April due to the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to contain it,” the Labor Department said in a statement.
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman said on Friday that President Trump may have falsified the results of a favorable Labor Department jobs report.
“This being the Trump era, you can’t completely discount the possibility that they’ve gotten to the [Bureau of Labor Statistics],” Krugman said in a tweet Friday morning. “But it’s much more likely that the models used to produce these numbers — they aren’t really raw data — have gone haywire in a time of pandemic.”
This being the Trump era, you can’t completely discount the possibility that they’ve gotten to the BLS, but it’s much more likely that the models used to produce these numbers — they aren’t really raw data — have gone haywire in a time of pandemic 3/
The May jobs report, released Friday, was expected to show a 19.8 percent unemployment rate but instead revealed a rate of 13.3 percent. The April jobs report showed a 14.4 percent unemployment rate, the worst since the Great Depression.
Jason Furman, an Obama-era chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, denounced Krugman within half an hour, saying Trump could not have doctored the report. He added that Krugman’s implication undermined the integrity of career Labor Department officials.
You can 100% discount the possibility that Trump got to the BLS. Not 98% discount, not 99.9% discount, but 100% discount.
BLS has 2,400 career staff of enormous integrity and one political appointee with no scope to change this number. https://t.co/Cden6rQyN6
New York Times contributor and Brookings Institution fellow Justin Wolfers also denounced Krugman’s claim, calling it “a bad tweet” and saying the employment data “weren’t tampered with and Paul knows it.”
This is a bad tweet.
Paul, you’re right to point out that the underlying models/processes used to produce jobs numbers are less reliable during a pandemic.
But these data weren’t tampered with and Paul knows it. The economic debate doesn’t need this garbage innuendo. Do better https://t.co/R6tLHldF00
Krugman later apologized for suggesting a “highly professional agency might have been corrupted.”
“I was just covering myself, because so many weird things have happened lately,” he wrote.
Getting a lot of outraged pushback over even allowing the possibility of something amiss at BLS. I was just covering myself, because so many weird things have happened lately. But I apologize for any suggestion that a highly professional agency might have been corrupted. 1/
President Donld Trump held a news conference Friday morning on the decline in unemployment as the economy begins to recover from coronavirus shutdowns.
“They thought the number would be a loss of nine million jobs, and it was a gain of almost three million jobs,” Trump said. “This leads us on to a long period of growth. We’ll go back to having the greatest economy anywhere in the world … and I think we’re going to have a very good upcoming few months.”
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. economy unexpectedly added jobs in May after suffering record losses in the prior month, offering the clearest signal yet that the downturn triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic was probably over, though the road to recovery could be long.
The Labor Department’s closely watched employment report on Friday also showed the jobless rate falling to 13.3% last month from 14.7% in April, a post World War Two high. It came on the heels of surveys showing consumer confidence, manufacturing and services industries stabilizing.
Economic conditions have significantly improved as businesses reopened after shuttering in mid-March to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Nonfarm payrolls rose by 2.509 million jobs last month after a record plunge of 20.687 million in April. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the unemployment rate jumping to 19.8% in May and payrolls falling by 8 million jobs.
U.S. stock index futures sharply extended gains. The dollar rose against a basket of currencies. U.S. Treasury prices fell.
“These improvements in the labor market reflected a limited resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed in March and April due to the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to contain it,” The Labor Department said in a statement.
(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrea Ricci)
In 1969, Irving Kristol was appointed Henry R. Luce professor of urban values at New York University’s Stern School of Business. He delivered his inaugural lecture the following spring. Its title, “Urban Civilization and Its Discontents,” a play off of Sigmund Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents, guaranteed the audience a typically wide-ranging presentation from a New York intellectual in the middle of a journey from anti-Communist liberal to neoconservative godfather.
Kristol’s theme was the degradation of the American experiment from the Founding to the social unrest of the 1960s. “If it is proper to say that we experience the crisis of our cities, it is equally proper to say that we are the urban crisis,” he began. “And what I want to suggest further is that one of the main reasons we are so problematic to ourselves is the fact that we are creating a democratic, urban civilization while stubbornly refusing to think clearly about the relation of urbanity to democracy.”
The images of mass protests, of vandalism, arson, theft, and violence that have fixated the world since the killing of George Floyd in late May sent me back to Kristol’s talk. As analogies to 1968 have filled the air, I thought it worthwhile to revisit how the foremost spokesman of the emerging neoconservative point of view interpreted his historical situation. The ethnic, racial, ideological, political, educational, and generational cleavages of Kristol’s time seem to have been transposed on our own. And, like the generation of ’68, the Millennial and Z generations contest not just the failure of America to live up to its ideals but, increasingly, the ideals themselves. Kristol’s ideas help to explain why.
American democracy, Kristol told his audience in April 1970, is based on two pillars. The first is the “new science of politics” described by Publius in The Federalist. It consists of a complex and delicate constitutional architecture of separate and enumerated powers, checks and balances, and other devices of representative government in an extended republic. The second pillar is more elusive. It has been called many things—republican morality, civic virtue, republican virtue—but in essence, the Founders believed that a “spiritual order” was a necessary precondition for their government to work. “What they had constantly in mind,” Kristol said, “was the willingness of the good democratic citizen, on critical occasions, to transcend the habitual pursuit of self-interest and devote himself directly and disinterestedly to the common good.”
Over time, Kristol argued, the agrarian ethos the Founders believed to be more conducive to republican virtue and to self-government gave way to an urban spirit of flux, experimentation, ambition, self-invention, self-interest, and, ultimately, self-seeking. The government that the Founders had intended to act as an instrument of restraint for the purpose of securing natural rights became a mechanism for the satisfaction of appetitive special interests. The “middle class” took its place as the largest special interest of all.
By the middle of the 20th century, Kristol said, in words that echo in the present, the American people were “behaving in a way that would have alarmed the founding fathers even as it would have astonished them. To put it bluntly, they are more and more behaving like a collection of mobs.”
How did this happen? The neoconservative analysis goes like this: Beginning in the 19th century, writers, artists, philosophers, and intellectuals adopted an adversarial stance toward the dominant “bourgeois” ethos of orthodox religiosity, marital fidelity, conventional morality, and traditional manners. With the advent of mass media and the rise of higher education in the 20th century, the adversarial impulse permeated the institutions of culture. It gained more adherents in each rising generation.
What Roger Scruton described as a “culture of repudiation” revised inherited understandings of history, politics, economics, society, art, psychology, and behavior. The philosophy of Darwin, Marx, and Freud deprived individuals of agency. It reduced them to mere products of the environment. The will of “the people,” no matter its direction, was considered a good in itself. “What we may call the transcendental-populist religion of democracy,” Kristol said, “superseded an original political philosophy of democracy.”
The population fought over the dispensation of entitlements. But it shared a state of mind. “It is, to be precise, that state of mind,” Kristol went on, “which lacks all those qualities that, in the opinion of the founding fathers, added up to republican morality: steadiness of character, deliberativeness of mind, and a mild predisposition to subordinate one’s own special interests to the public interest.”
The most important question, Kristol liked to say, was, “Why not?” Why not do drugs, consume porn, abandon your children, break into and steal from a Target store? The institutions that once supplied the answers to such questions—the family, the church, the community—receded in importance and withered in strength against the power of an adversary culture that embedded itself in media and government and the liberation of desires that accompanied conditions of security and affluence.
It became difficult to justify submission of the will to external moral authority. That those authorities were often bigoted or unjust gave rise to the additional demand of justice as a precondition of civil peace and order. But this was a non sequitur. Order is the basis of justice, not the other way around. “To demand ‘justice’ as a precondition for political or social stability,” Kristol wrote in 1979, “is to make a demand on this world which the world has ever refused to concede.”
In his NYU lecture, Kristol ascribed the discontents of America’s urban civilization to an absence of values that functioned as the equivalent of republican virtue. No one was willing to restrain themselves for the public interest, to sacrifice in the present so others may benefit in the future. “The radicals of the 1960s,” he wrote later in the decade, “were what they were because American society and American culture—which means we, the adults, permitted them (sometimes encouraged them) to grow up to be what they were.”
It is not, as some think, that we failed to impose our adult beliefs upon our children. That would be an absurd enterprise. What we failed to do is to transmit adult values to them—values affirming the way one holds beliefs, which would have encouraged them to take their own and others’ beliefs seriously, and to think coherently about them. And precisely because we adults encouraged our twenty-year-old children to be ‘kids,’ their rebellion so often resembled a bewildering and self-destructive tantrum.
These words never felt more relevant than in recent days, as I watched prominent figures in media and politics dismiss or justify the destruction of neighborhoods in which ethnic and racial minorities live and pray and work as legitimate expressions of anger and frustration.
And yet I also could not help thinking that there is a difference between Kristol’s description of the student rebellion of the ’60s and the current social unrest. It has to do with exactly this question of values. Kristol saw an absence of values then. I see them everywhere now.
What has been remarkable about the George Floyd protests is not so much the destruction and violence that accompanied some of them as their overall numbers, scope, and duration. The unjustifiable death of Floyd was a catalyst for demonstrations grounded not in spiritual torpor but in righteous conviction. This is a mass movement amplified by social and digital media and, in all probability, helped along by the joblessness and boredom that have accompanied months of coronavirus lockdowns. And it is a mass movement that most definitely stands for a set of values: what is known as “social justice” in its racial, sexual, economic, and environmental forms. The republican virtue of the Founders it is not. But, in its expansiveness, adaptability, and popularity, the ethos of social justice is as close as America gets to having a public philosophy.
It would be not only wrong but self-defeating to dismiss or pathologize the beliefs that inspire fellow citizens to march in the streets, post to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and vote for Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in the Democratic primaries. The ideas that motivate such activities are not the product of a conspiracy. They do not exist in a vacuum. What they are instead is the leading edge of an earnest and egalitarian new progressive morality that, through the prism of antiracism, understands American democracy to be fundamentally corrupt and based on a lie.
True, the means by which this new progressivism seeks to achieve its ends of “bold structural change” are somewhat hazy and repel most people. But the new progressivism nonetheless commands the devoted allegiance of millions, has a disproportionate influence on the media that shape American culture and thought, and exerts considerable pressure on the Democratic Party. If the ’60s were in Kristol’s view nihilistic, the past decade has been nothing if not moralistic. But it has been a jumble of fractured and competing moralities, each seeking to impose itself on unwilling and hostile competitors.
After all, the very phrase “virtue signaling” presupposes the existence of a virtue to signal. In the case of the new progressivism, such virtue is identified with antiracism, diversity, affinity, authenticity, and environmental consciousness. What has been missing from the public square—on both left and right—are the practices associated with republican virtue: temperance, prudence, moderation, self-control. For the most part, of course, the new progressives are upstanding citizens whose personal lives are as prosaic as that of any bourgeois. But this part of their lives is just that—personal—and when they go into public the new progressives are more content to preach the gospel of diversity, equality, and #resistance.
Where did the new progressives come from? One clue is that the most vocal and radical members of the new progressivism are under the age of 35. Colin Kaepernick, for example, is 32; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is 30. If you are someone who has come of age during the last two decades, you have witnessed a fantastic disparity between the operations of the public sphere and the conventions of the private sphere. There has been little accountability for government officials who presided over terrorist attacks, unsuccessful wars, financial crises, bailouts of financial institutions, bureaucratic dictates, a flawed response to a global pandemic, Depression-era levels of unemployment, and egregious failures in policing.
The relationship between economic input and output has gone haywire. Young people find it hard to earn and save enough to escape debt, buy a home, and start a family. Voting with the majority does not guarantee majority rule. Racism persists despite Herculean efforts to suppress it. Global warming threatens the fate of the planet, but no one does much about it.
No rationalization that elites provide for the status quo is persuasive to you. And so you begin to look elsewhere for answers. In “‘When Virtue Loses All Her Loveliness’—Some Reflections on Capitalism and the ‘Free Society,’” published in the fall 1970 issue of the Public Interest, the magazine he co-edited with, at that time, Daniel Bell, Kristol admonished classical liberal and libertarian thinkers for neglecting the inherent weaknesses of democratic capitalism. “For a system of liberal, representative government to work,” Kristol wrote, “free elections are not enough. The results of the political process and of the exercise of individual freedom—the distribution of power, privilege, and property—must also be seen as in some profound sense expressive of the values that govern the lives of individuals.”
In a stable society, people believe their conduct in private bears some relation to their behavior in public. People believe their effort is in some sort of harmony with their reward. People accept that the inequality endemic to a free society corresponds to some idea of distributive justice. “If it does not—if the principles that organize public life seem to have little relation to those that shape private lives—you have ‘alienation,’ and anomie, and a melting away of established principles of authority,” Kristol wrote.
In the absence of institutions that cultivate republican virtue and leaders who model it, Americans, young ones in particular, have turned to the moral certitudes of the new progressivism. It is the failure of American elites to articulate a compelling justification for the state of our economy and society that has brought the nation to this perilous impasse. And until the defenders of the Founding are able to explain, in language persuasive to every American, why both constitutionalism and republican virtue are necessary for freedom and order and justice, they will continue to be on the defensive. If the advocates of a free society wish to shape the future in any way, they had better get started reaffirming and demonstrating the moral basis of American civilization. And soon.
For some time now, the commentary from political journalists has been increasingly hard to distinguish from the commentary from political activists. Think you can tell the difference? Read the quotes. Take the quiz. Watch the video to find the answers.
1) “The president seems to think that dominating black people, dominating peaceful protesters is law and order. It’s not.”
2) “American history is one in which white Americans, by and large, have been taught to have indifference or even contempt for black life. We have defined the country as a white nation where people of color are here on a guest pass.”
3) “Let’s be clear: Donald Trump wants to divide and conquer America so he can loot us all.”
4) “It is for the folks that he knows will stick with him no matter what. It is for, he thinks, dumb faith leaders who will fall for this stunt…. We’re seeing the depths and the darkness of those culture wars and where he is willing to go in a moment like this.”
5) “Please, show me where it says that protesters are supposed to be polite and peaceful. Because I can show you that outraged citizens are the ones who have made America what she is.”
6) “What is happening in America is that white nationalism ideology is running wild, and the reason why buildings are burning is because this city, this state, would prefer preserving that white nationalism and that white supremacist mindset over arresting, charging, and helping to convict four officers who killed a black man.”
7) “Yes, it is disturbing to see property being destroyed, it is disturbing to see people taking property from stores, but these are things…. Destroying property, which can be replaced, is not violence.”
8) “Racism is not just against black people, it is against democracy itself.”
9) “Open your eyes, America. Open your eyes. We are teetering on a dictatorship. This is chaos…. Is the president declaring war on Americans? What is happening here?”
10) “You can’t curfew the truth. It will find a way out. Truth crushed to earth shall rise again.”
The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday blocked an order requiring Texas officials to make mail-in ballots available to any voter who wants one due to the coronavirus ahead of elections in July.
Mail-in ballots are available in Texas if the applicant is over the age of 65. Voters under 65 must demonstrate that they will be outside the state or have a disability to vote by mail. Texas Democrats challenged those rules, arguing among other things that they violate equal protection and the 26th Amendment’s bar on age discrimination in voting.
U.S. District Judge Fred Biery sided with the Democratic plaintiffs in a May 19 order requiring the state to make vote-by-mail available to virtually all Texans. The Fifth Circuit decision includes pointed rebukes of Biery’s order, predicting his decision “will be remembered more for audacity than legal reasoning.”
Voters will cast ballots on July 14 in about 30 primary races where no candidate attained a majority of the vote. Among numerous other state and federal races, Democrats M.J. Hegar and Royce West are vying for the Democratic nomination to challenge Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) in the November general election. Early voting for the primary runoffs begins on June 29. State officials expanded the early voting period to disperse turnout and reduce the possibility that polling precincts will become vectors of transmission. After Thursday’s decision, mail-in ballots will only be available to those who ordinarily qualify under the state’s rules.
Texas attorney general Ken Paxton said the decision would ensure the integrity of the election.
“Allowing universal mail-in ballots, which are particularly vulnerable to fraud, would only lead to greater election fraud and disenfranchise lawful voters. The unanimous Fifth Circuit ruling puts a stop to this blatant violation of Texas law.”
Judge Jerry Smith delivered the court’s opinion. Judge James Ho joined Smith’s ruling and wrote his own separate opinion. Judge Gregg Costa concurred in the bottom-line outcome only.
Smith, relying on a 1969 Supreme Court precedent, said the Texas rules do not jeopardize the right to vote, since the precinct place is open to all comers. He said the case simply presents “a claimed right to receive absentee ballots,” which the state can lawfully deny for any number of reasons.
“That [rule], which is designed to make voting more available to some groups who cannot easily get to the polls, does not itself deny the plaintiffs the exercise of the franchise,” Smith wrote. “The plaintiffs are welcome and permitted to vote, and there is no indication that they are in fact absolutely prohibited from voting by the state.”
He elsewhere noted that elections officials are implementing various public health measures to protect voters.
“Texas plans to implement measures to protect those who go to the polls,” he wrote. “Those measures include the bread and butter of social distancing, such as protective masks for election workers, plentiful cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer, cotton swabs for contacting touch screens, and floor decals inside the polling places that show where voters should stand.”
The decision includes particularly sharp criticisms of Biery’s order, noting his decision cites among other authorities “the Declaration of Independence, the Gettysburg Address, the Bible, and various poems.” In one section of his decision, Biery said Texas’s refusal to extend vote by mail during the pandemic suggests a ploy to keep younger voters away from the polls “because of the way they may vote.”
“Instead of searching for a conceivable basis for the rules, the court jerry-rigged some straw men and proceeded to burn them,” Smith wrote of Biery’s contention.
In a separate opinion, Ho argued that Biery’s order would actually undermine voting rights. When courts find a law treats groups unequally, they must fix the problem by extending equal treatment to everyone or scrap the benefit altogether. If Biery is correct, Ho warned, then this case calls for abolishing Texas’s entire vote-by-mail system.
“Surely plaintiffs do not want a ‘leveling-down’ injunction—after all, depriving the elderly of mail-in voting would seem antithetical to the spirit of their lawsuit,” Ho wrote. “But it may be the only relief courts are authorized to provide.”
The case is No. 20-50407 Texas Democratic Party v. Abbott.
Though others may have forgotten, we are still recovering from the whiplash induced by Minnesota Democrats’ about-face on the forces behind the riots that have convulsed the Twin Cities.
State leaders stood idly by last week as the Twin Cities burned. Keith Ellison, the Minnesota attorney general and former Democratic National Committee deputy chair, invoked Martin Luther King Jr. to declare that “rioting is the voice of the unheard.” Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey allowed protesters to torch a police station, saying that “the symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the importance of life.”
When, over the weekend, Democratic governor Tim Walz summoned the National Guard to address the riots, the message shifted. Authorities, including Frey, Ellison, and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), started blaming white supremacists for the destruction. Walz himself, who had called the burning embers of the Twin Cities “symbolic of decades and generations of pain, of anguish unheard,” now said the rioting was “an organized attempt to destabilize civil society” and pointed the finger at “outside agitators.”
Ellison began circulating images of a man whom left-wing Twitter had accused of being an undercover cop. Frey blamed “white supremacists, members of organized crime, out of state instigators, and possibly even foreign actors”—giving his decision to allow protesters to ransack a symbol of the rule of law an even more disturbing significance.
And at no point did anyone offer a shred of evidence to support their claims.
Most confusing of all was Omar—who previously claimed people were “coming in to infiltrate” peaceful protests and alleged in a fundraising email that white supremacists had burned down minority-owned businesses.
Local media have revealed the falsity of these claims, reporting that jail records do not substantiate the assertion that the criminals came mostly from out-of-state. And rather than refute the evidence, Walz, Ellison, and co. have quietly walked back their allegations.
The mainstream media—which happily embraced the implication that Trump supporters were burning things—have moved on to other issues. But we still want to know: What exactly happened?
Either Minnesotans were lied to by leaders too afraid of the mob to act otherwise, or those leaders stood by while white supremacists burned down the cities they were elected to run.
So, which is it?
We asked Minnesota Democrats for evidence to back up their assertions or an explanation for this flip-flop. Ellison did not respond to a request for comment. Walz referred the WashingtonFree Beacon to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, a spokesman for which said the department was pursuing investigations but was “unable to provide details due to the ongoing and active investigative work by these agencies.” A spokesman for Omar said the congresswoman meant that those who riot and protest are by definition not of the community. Our questions about the basis for her fundraising appeal that said white supremacists had set fire to minority-owned businesses went unanswered.
The prevarications we have seen from Minnesota’s leaders are a microcosm of the leadership failures now apparent in Democratic-led cities around the country: from De Blasio’s New York to Greg Fischer’s Louisville, Lyda Krewson’s St. Louis, and Eric Garcetti’s Los Angeles.
There was a time, not so long ago, when America’s cities were blighted and crime-ridden, thanks in large part to ideological leaders afraid of keeping the peace. If the past few weeks prove anything, it is that this new cadre of progressive mayors promises a terrifying return to form.
New York Times politics reporter Astead Herndon joined in on criticism of the Intercept‘s Lee Fang, whose coverage of the ongoing protests in California was blasted by one of his colleagues at the left-wing outlet as “racist.”
Herndon cheered Intercept writer Akela Lacy, who accused her coworker, Lee Fang, of “continuing to push racist narratives” about black-on-black crime. “This isn’t about me and him it’s about institutional racism and using free speech to couch anti-blackness,” she said, adding in another tweet, “Stop being racist Lee.”
“[Y]es akela,” Herndon responded, along with an emoji of raised hands in affirmation. Fang has posted interviews to his Twitter feed of citizens offering mixed reactions to the protests stemming from the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Some of the protests in American cities have been marred by rioting and looting, and one of Fang’s interview subjects criticized the lack of attention paid to black-on-black crime.
The Intercept is a left-wing outlet which has run afoul of mainstream Democrats with its criticism of the Russia investigation, boosting of Democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), and reporting on Tara Reade, the former Joe Biden staffer who accused him of sexual assault.
The Times released new staff guidelines in 2017 for social media use, encouraging employees to refrain from partisan comments or any remark that takes a side or “undercuts the Times’s journalistic reputation.”
Herndon was among the dozens of Times staffers who criticized the paper for publishing Sen. Tom Cotton’s (R., Ark.) call to send the United States military to quell any violent uprisings. He said Thursday that if elected officials want to make “provocative arguments,” it should be in the context of a news story, not an “unvarnished” opinion piece. Many other staffers shared a form of the sentence, “Running this puts Black @nytimes staff in danger” with a screenshot of Cotton’s article.
Supporting my colleagues, and particularly the black ones. if electeds want to make provocative arguments let them withstand the questions and context of a news story, not unvarnished and unchecked https://t.co/MwiD8BenzO