Ordinary World: Torpedo the Thermal Exhaust Port Edition
[OW1] Well, this aged about as well as every knew it would:
For nearly three years we have been building a juggernaut campaign (Death Star). It is firing on all cylinders. Data, Digital, TV, Political, Surrogates, Coalitions, etc.
In a few days we start pressing FIRE for the first time. pic.twitter.com/aJgCNfx1m0
— Brad Parscale (@parscale) May 7, 2020
“I am pleased to announce that Bill Stepien has been promoted to the role of Trump Campaign Manager,” Mr. Trump announced on Facebook. “Brad Parscale, who has been with me for a very long time and has led our tremendous digital and data strategies, will remain in that role, while being a Senior Advisor to the campaign. Both were heavily involved in our historic 2016 win, and I look forward to having a big and very important second win together.”
Parscale’s fall came slowly, but accelerated after Mr. Trump’s Tulsa rally, when the campaign hyped that 1 million people had requested tickets for the event but in the end, only 6,200 showed up at the 19,000-seat BOK Center. Additionally, at least eight Trump campaign advance staffers and two Secret Service agents who worked in Tulsa ahead of the rally tested positive for the coronavirus. A top Tulsa health official said last week the rally “more than likely contributed” to a spike in coronavirus cases in the area.
Mr. Trump’s poll numbers have been in free fall in recent weeks. A recent CBS News Battleground Tracker poll had Mr. Trump struggling in Arizona and Texas — reliably Republican states that he won in 2016. The poll also had Mr. Trump down by 2 in Georgia and 6 in Florida.
Parscale also drew Mr. Trump’s wrath last year amid stories of sizable payments to his firms from the campaign and RNC combined with reports of Parscale’s lavish style of living. Parscale holds at least one stake in Parscale Strategy, LLC, a vendor that has been paid eight figures by the Trump campaign, Republican National Committee and two joint fundraising committees linking the campaign and national party committee. Resentment also grew around Parscale as longtime critics of the president’s campaign manager — and the president himself — complained of how much he was profiting off the campaign.
[OW2] No, Barack Obama wasn’t really trying to get you to buy bitcoin…hackers take over Twitter blue checks last night for a brief period of time.
Fake messages appeared on dozens of verified Twitter accounts including Barack Obama, Elon Musk & Kanye West, in one of the biggest cyber attacks on the social network.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 16, 2020
[OW3] Statue Roulette: Black Lives Matter Edition
British artist Marc Quinn erected a sculpture of activist Jen Reid in the early hours of Wednesday morning, weeks after protesters tore down the statue of slave trader Edward Colston and sparked a debate about colonial memory that reverberated worldwide.
But the impromptu display, set up without the knowledge of Bristol’s council, lasted just one day before being taken down and moved to a museum.
“This morning we removed the sculpture. It will be held at our museum for the artist to collect or donate to our collection,” Bristol City Council tweeted Thursday.
[OW4] More mask drama, this time in Georgia:
Georgia’s Gov. Brian Kemp is explicitly banning Georgia’s cities and counties from ordering people to wear masks in public places. He voided orders on Wednesday that at least 15 local governments across the state had adopted even though Kemp had earlier said cities and counties had no power to order masks during the coronavirus pandemic.
An increasing number of other states order residents to wear masks in public, including Alabama, which announced such a ban Wednesday.
The Republican governor has instead been trying to encourage voluntary mask wearing, including telling fans that reduced infections from mask-wearing would make college football season possible.
[OW5] Sticky business of what to do about then-teenager who left the UK to go join ISIS, now in court trying to come back as adults:
Ms Begum, now 20, was one of three schoolgirls who left London to join the Islamic State group in Syria in 2015.
Her citizenship was revoked by the Home Office on security grounds after she was found in a refugee camp in 2019.
The Court of Appeal said she had been denied a fair hearing because she could not make her case from the Syrian camp. The Home Office said the decision was “very disappointing” and it would “apply for permission to appeal”. The ruling means the government must now find a way to allow the 20-year-old, who is currently in Camp Roj in northern Syria, to appear in court in London despite repeatedly saying it would not assist removing her from Syria.
Lord Justice Flaux – sitting with Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Singh – said: “Fairness and justice must, on the facts of this case, outweigh the national security concerns, so that the leave to enter appeals should be allowed.”
[OW6] The debate over the book White Fragility has gotten new life in recent weeks. John McWhorter writing in The Atlantic weighs the book and finds it wanting:
White Fragility was published in 2018 but jumped to the top of the New York Times best-seller list amid the protests following the death of George Floyd and the ensuing national reckoning about racism. DiAngelo has convinced university administrators, corporate human-resources offices, and no small part of the reading public that white Americans must embark on a self-critical project of looking inward to examine and work against racist biases that many have barely known they had.
I am not convinced. Rather, I have learned that one of America’s favorite advice books of the moment is actually a racist tract. Despite the sincere intentions of its author, the book diminishes Black people in the name of dignifying us.
[OW7] Over at Arc Digital Nicholas Grossman gives his take on the Harpers Open Letter, Bari Weiss, and free speech issues of the last few days:
Defending free speech in the abstract doesn’t really counter it, because free speech isn’t really being attacked. Most supporters of what critics call “cancel culture” don’t want the government jailing people over speech. And they agree David Shor shouldn’t have been fired. Countering their excesses requires persuasively arguing that something they identify as bad speech isn’t actually bad, or at least isn’t bad enough that it should be treated as socially unacceptable. But that varies by case, and it’s harder than arguing that free speech is good.
And this is one of those arguments that’s especially undermined by hypocrisy. When Jordan Peterson or Quillette editor Claire Lehmann threaten litigation against people who criticize them; when Bret Stephens sees a joke at his expense on Twitter and emails the jokester’s boss; when Bari Weiss publicly supports deplatforming critics of Israel; when James Lindsay repeatedly misrepresents people and argues in bad faith; when Thomas Chatterton Williams broadcasts that he kicked someone out of his house for speaking ill of Weiss, it communicates that their free speech arguments are not principles, but rhetorical conveniences.
Because the hard part isn’t telling other people to be more open to ideas they don’t like. It’s drawing the lines of socially acceptable expression and determining appropriate responses to transgressing those norms.
[OW8] The headlines are a bit misleading here, the resolution calls for a committee to be formed, but still reparations is a hot topic:
In a historic move, the city of Asheville, North Carolina, voted unanimously to approve a reparations resolution for Black residents Tuesday night.
Asheville, which is 83% White and 12% Black, formally apologized for the role it played in slavery and implementing racist policies.
The resolution, which passed in a 7-0 city council vote, does not mandate direct cash payments to descendants of slaves, or 40 acres and a mule. Instead, the city plans to make investments in areas where Black residents face disparities.
The resolution calls for “forming policy and programs that will establish the creation of generational wealth and address reparations due in the black community,” as well as asking the state legislature and federal government to do the same.
The reparations battle has been long fought in the political arena. It hit the national spotlight again after the death in May of George Floyd in Minneapolis, with Democratic lawmakers in Congress calling for a vote on a bill to study reparations.
[OW9] NBA Legend and long-time activist Kareem Abdul-Jabbar unloads on the rash of sports and Hollywood celebrities peddling in anti-Semitism as of late:
These famous, outspoken people share the same scapegoat logic as all oppressive groups from Nazis to the KKK: all our troubles are because of bad-apple groups that worship wrong, have the wrong complexion, come from the wrong country, are the wrong gender or love the wrong gender. It’s so disheartening to see people from groups that have been violently marginalized do the same thing to others without realizing that perpetuating this kind of bad logic is what perpetuates racism.
Yes, some of the above have apologized — DeSean Jackson, Stephen Jackson, Chelsea Handler — while others continue to defiantly marinate in their own prejudice. Their arrogant and irrational response to accusations of anti-Semitism, rather than dissuade us, actually confirmed people’s worst opinions. Ice Cube’s response was remorseless: “What if I was just pro-Black? This is the truth brother. I didn’t lie on anyone. I didn’t say I was anti anybody. DONT BELIEVE THE HYPE. I’ve been telling my truth.” His “truth” was clearly anti-Semitic but, like Trump, he believes his truth exists outside facts. As writer Roxane Gay summed it up: “It is impossible to take you seriously with regards to social justice or anything when you post anti-Semitic imagery. What the fuck are you doing?”
Even the apologies floundered, more attempts at spin than true contrition. In a CNN interview, Stephen Jackson was angry and belligerent at being called out: “I stated I could have changed my words. There’s nothing that I said that I support any of that. There’s nothing I said that I hate anybody. I apologize for my words and I could have switched up. That’s the end of it. I love everybody.” While it’s possible the words were wrong, celebrities have a responsibility to get the words right. It’s not enough to have good intentions, because it’s the actual deeds — and words — which have the real impact. In this case destructive impact.
[OW10] Getting a bit ahead of ourselves here…didn’t we learn, if anything can happen, 2020 will see that it does? So, “cautiously optimistic” sounds like the best course of action for Team Blue and the steady Biden lead.
Meanwhile, the pro-Trump America First Action Super Pac is pouring $23m into Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona and Wisconsin but not Michigan – a state that Trump needs to win re-election. Trump himself has been campaigning over the last few months in reliably red states. Private polling for Republicans also shows the president in trouble in what are usually reliably conservative states.
All of which suggests Democrats have the upper hand over Republicans. But Democratic state officials and operatives expect polls to tighten and the summer high to end. In multiple interviews, these officials were hopeful but also realistic that the next few months won’t be easy.
Democrats often cite 2016, where polls showed Hillary Clinton as the clear favorite to win the presidency. At that time, and again now, some Democrats also felt retaking control of the Senate was possible.
“I’m not going to argue that there isn’t some anxiety there, and I think that 2016 put that in our being because we were feeling very secure that we would have a Democratic president, and things changed so rapidly,” said the Kansas Democratic party chairwoman, Vicki Hiatt.
Democrats are hoping to win a US Senate seat in Kansas this cycle, which would usually be unheard of. “I think over the past three and a half years we’ve seen some very unpredictable things happen that we would never have expected. I think that is where that anxiety comes from. For me personally, I’m not going to rest until we have this thing done. I’m cautiously optimistic but I’m not taking anything for granted.”