The pandemic, past and present, is driving the news

Brakkton Booker/Politico:

“Angry Black man” is now Chauvin’s defense strategy

The nation is on trial. And Black Americans are bearing the brunt of the trauma.

Those are the key takeaways from the courtroom where the former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, stands accused of murdering George Floyd.

The jurors this week are being asked to consider whether police tactics — the white officer’s knee on a Black man’s neck — were excessive. The Minneapolis police chief, who is Black, testified the technique Chauvin used violated department protocols.

Several witnesses delivered emotional testimony in which they described feeling helpless because they could not intervene to prevent Floyd’s death.

There are so many reasons Black and brown folks watching the gavel-to-gavel proceedings on cable news are feeling triggered.



Half of Republicans believe false accounts of deadly U.S. Capitol riot-Reuters/Ipsos poll

Since the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, former President Donald Trump and his Republican allies have pushed false and misleading accounts to downplay the event that left five dead and scores of others wounded. His supporters appear to have listened.


Joshua Spivak/USA Today:

California recall effort could end Newsom’s career or make him a Democratic hero

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is likely to face a recall election this year, putting him into a uniquely high-risk, high-reward situation. He would be only the fourth governor tested by a recall vote in U.S. history, and it would come just as he’d normally be gearing up for a reelection campaign.

The downside risk is quite evident. Newsom could lose his governorship and his political career, like his predecessor Gray Davis in 2003. He could also lose his governorship but stage a comeback, as North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier did by winning a Senate seat in 1922 — a year after he was recalled.

Alternatively, Newsom could keep his job but greatly underperform his 62% showing in 2018, thereby making him potentially vulnerable in his presumed reelection race. This weakness could entice a strong Republican challenger to take him on, or even a strong Democrat.

And then there’s the path pioneered by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican whose star rose after he survived a recall in 2012: Newsom could emerge from a recall race as a newly powerful force in his state and the national Democratic Party.


Alexandra Petri/WaPo:

This should not happen more than once

There are several details of the Matt Gaetz story that keep sticking in my head, but the one that sticks in it most is the report that the Florida Republican used to wander around and show his colleagues nude photos of people he had slept with. There’s a kind of grim weirdness to the idea of these interactions (which Gaetz denies) — a very “I Read On That Men Bond Over Conquests” bewilderment. The callousness and the violation involved are enough of a sock to the gut. But the fact that this was allegedly known about him is what keeps getting to me. The fact that this, or something in this neighborhood of bad, occasioned senior staff from then-House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s (R-Wis.) office to have a talk with Gaetz about professional behavior.

Over all of this I keep hearing the uncomfortable laughter of Billy Bush. I keep coming back to the fact that it takes two to make a locker room.

I keep coming back to the detail in CNN’s report that this wasn’t something Matt Gaetz did a single time, but repeatedly. Because if it happened more than once — if it happened twice, even — that is because the first time went better than it should have.


NY Times:

White Evangelical Resistance Is Obstacle in Vaccination Effort

Millions of white evangelical adults in the U.S. do not intend to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Tenets of faith and mistrust of science play a role; so does politics.

Nathan French, who leads a nondenominational ministry in Tacoma, Wash., said he received a divine message that God was the ultimate healer and deliverer: “The vaccine is not the savior.”

Lauri Armstrong, a Bible-believing nutritionist outside of Dallas, said she did not need the vaccine because God designed the body to heal itself, if given the right nutrients. More than that, she said, “It would be God’s will if I am here or if I am not here.”

The deeply held spiritual convictions or counterfactual arguments may vary. But across white evangelical America, reasons not to get vaccinated have spread as quickly as the virus that public health officials are hoping to overcome through herd immunity.

Greg Sargent/WaPo:

How status anxiety drives the right — and threatens more violence

The Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 had a number of things (mostly) in common, including their race, their gender and their belief that when an election doesn’t turn out the way you want, the appropriate response is violence.

But political scientist Robert A. Pape found something interesting when he looked at where the 377 people who have been arrested or charged in connection with the riot hailed from:

Nor were these insurrectionists typically from deep-red counties. Some 52 percent are from blue counties that Biden comfortably won. But by far the most interesting characteristic common to the insurrectionists’ backgrounds has to do with changes in their local demographics: Counties with the most significant declines in the non-Hispanic White population are the most likely to produce insurrectionists who now face charges.

There has already been a good deal of social media response to Pape’s study of the, “Duh, it’s racism, not economic anxiety” variety. But while this result may not be surprising, it is a vivid illustration of the forces that helped propel Donald Trump to the presidency and still hold the Republican Party in their grip.

It’s also a reminder to Democrats of what they can and can’t accomplish with subtle alterations to their messaging.

Editorial Staff
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