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Fri May 29, 2020, 09:17 PM

Friday Talking Points -- 100,000 Dead While Trump Fiddles With Twitter

Anyone "tired of all the winning" yet? Just asking....

In the same week America passed the grim milestone of 100,000 dead from the coronavirus pandemic, a black man was suffocated by a white police officer while three other cops stood by and either helped him commit this crime or did absolutely nothing to prevent it. Since then, there have been sometimes-violent protests in the streets of not only Minneapolis but in several other cities across the country. The dead man was accused of the crime of trying to use a fake $20 bill at a convenience store. The cops, acting as judge, jury, and executioner, provided him with a death sentence -- for the transgression of trying to pass a fake twenty.

So what has President Donald Trump been up to this week? Issuing an appeal for both calm and justice, as well as sympathizing with the families of the coronavirus victims? Nah. What Trump's been obsessed with instead is getting in an escalating war with Twitter. Because, obviously, Twitter is much more important to him than 100,000 dead from the virus or one dead black man in Minnesota. Never has a Nero metaphor been more apt, because Trump is now fiddling around with Twitter while America is burning.

We've been writing about the Twitter feud all week long, since it impacts the First Amendment in multiple ways. We wrote on Tuesday about the initial controversy, which arose because Trump was tweeting baseless conspiracy theories accusing Joe Scarborough of a murder he did not commit. The husband of the woman who died wrote a heartfelt letter to the head of Twitter begging him to take down Trump's tweets. Here's only part of his letter:

The frequency, intensity, ugliness, and promulgation of these horrifying lies ever increases on the internet. These conspiracy theorists, including most recently the President of the United States, continue to spread their bile and misinformation on your platform disparaging the memory of my wife and our marriage. President Trump on Tuesday tweeted to his nearly 80 million followers alluding to the repeatedly debunked falsehood that my wife was murdered by her boss, former U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough. The son of the president followed and more directly attacked my wife by tweeting to his followers as the means of spreading this vicious lie.

Twitter refused to take down Trump's tweets. What Twitter did do was to slap a fact-checking label on two of Trump's other (and unrelated) tweets, espousing conspiracy theories about mail-in voting and voting fraud. Twitter did not take down the president's tweets, just provided links to accurate news stories debunking Trump's wild-eyed claims. Trump, of course, then freaked out.

Trump began playing the victim (something which he does on a regular basis, it's worth noting), and accusing Twitter of somehow censoring his free speech. This is a complete misreading of the First Amendment, which we pointed out on Wednesday. Trump then signed what will likely prove to be a meaningless executive order threatening Twitter with the revocation of a legal shield which protects them from being sued. This, as we pointed out yesterday, will likely have exactly the opposite effect on Twitter that Trump intended, because now they have every incentive to police Trump's tweets as strictly as possible.

Today, Twitter escalated matters, after Trump tweeted the following about the rioting in Minneapolis:

These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won't let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!

Whether Trump was aware of it or not, that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" quote came from a racist Miami police chief in the 1960s. Some important context:

Then-Miami police chief Walter Headley first used that line in December 1967 to justify a brutal crackdown on crime against African-Americans in what were then called the slums. At the same news conference, he said that "85 percent of all violent crimes involve Negroes." The chief added: "We don't mind being accused of police brutality. They haven't seen anything yet."

Twitter covered Trump's tweet with a grey box and the message: "This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence," however, they did not remove Trump's tweet (you could still see it by clicking through the warning message). Miffed, Trump then had the official White House Twitter account repost his message. That too got the same warning label from Twitter.

Trump tried to walk this back, kind of:

Trump later claimed to clarify his tweet, saying "looting leads to shooting," noting there was a shooting in Minneapolis Wednesday and seven people shot in Louisville Thursday amid protests.... After the news conference, Trump's 2020 campaign also put out a statement blaming the media and Democrats for "purposefully misrepresenting" what Trump said in his tweet, claiming they were doing so for "political gain" and "ratings."

But nobody in their right mind believed this incredibly lame excuse, as Trump's meaning was pretty crystal-clear in his original message, just as it was in Miami, over fifty years ago.

Twitter, of course, still hasn't actually blocked or removed any of Trump's tweets. And they've got more steps up their own escalation ladder, should they choose to use them. They could delete one of Trump's tweets or even suspend his account for a week, for example -- penalties plenty of other Twitter users have suffered before. So we'll have to see where all of this ends up, but we have to say it is indeed heartening that Twitter is finally beginning to apply its own code of conduct to President Trump, because he's been getting a free ride for far too long.

Of course, it doesn't have to be like this. Here is how Joe Biden reacted to the video showing the cops executing a black man in broad daylight:

[Joe] Biden noted that Floyd's "final words" were "Let me breathe, I can't breathe," and added that this has "ripped open anew" the "wound" wrought by racism. Biden continued:

I urge the protesters to exercise their rights peacefully and safely. But people all across this country are enraged and rightly so. Every day African Americans go about their lives with constant anxiety and trauma of wondering, "Will I be next?" Sounds like an exaggeration but it's not. These tragedies, these injustices, cut at the very heart of our most sacred of beliefs: that all Americans, equal in rights and in dignity, are part of an ingrained systemic cycle of racism and oppression... throughout every part of our society.

And Biden concluded:

If we're not committed as a nation, with every ounce of purpose in our beings -- not just to binding up this wound in hope that somehow the scab once again will cover things over -- but to treat the underlying injury, we're never going to eventually heal.

Biden made an appeal for calm while also calling for justice in the case. In other words, exactly what you'd expect the president to do in such a situation. The contrast was pretty stark. And Biden took it one step further today:

Promising to bring real police reform if elected president, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Friday that he had spoken with the family of George Floyd, the African-American man killed by Minneapolis police officers on Monday.

"The original sin of this country still stains our nation today," the former vice president said in a video message from his Delaware home, referring to more than 400 years of "Black men, Black women, Black children" whose potential was "wiped out unnecessarily."

"Everyday African-Americans go about their lives with constant anxiety and trauma wondering who will be next.... The anger and frustration and the exhaustion is undeniable."

Again, exactly what you'd expect any president with a shred of humanity to do. How hard is it to call the family and express condolences, after all?

Instead, Donald Trump spent the week not only fighting with Twitter, but also picking a needless fight with the governor of North Carolina, over whether the Republican National Convention will be allowed to go on as planned, even though Republicans don't want to follow any of those pesky guidelines to ensure safety.

Oh, and due to Congress demanding it, the Trump White House had to put out what they called a national plan for coronavirus testing, which, when boiled down, amounted to telling the states: "You're on your own!" Which they already knew, but now it's been officially codified -- the federal government has been a complete and total failure throughout the crisis, so don't expect anything to change any time soon, folks!

And just to remind everyone that Donald Trump is not just a miserable failure on the domestic policy front alone, North Korea just announced that they're going to ramp up their nuclear arsenal. All that glad-handling between Trump and Kim Jong Un was, in a word, meaningless. Donald Trump has done absolutely nothing to constrain North Korea's nuclear program, other than exchange love notes with the world's worst dictator. Which, for Trump, is about par for the course.

Before we get to the main award, we've got to give at least an Honorable Mention to Joe Biden this week, for multiple reasons. First, his handling of the situation in Minnesota was exactly what Donald Trump is absolutely incapable of doing -- showing empathy and righteous indignation that these things continue to happen in America.

But that's not all. Team Biden also has been doing a very good job of provoking Donald Trump in their recent ads, especially one that showed Trump playing golf while the coronavirus death toll climbed towards 100,000. This really got under Trump's skin, as it was designed to do. Trump's tweetstorm in response was truly deranged, as Trump lashed out at Obama for also playing golf, as well as totally unrelated nonsense. This, of course, gave the media the opportunity to point out all the times Trump criticized Obama for playing golf while president, including statements like: "When you're president, you sort of say, 'I'm going to give it up for a couple of years and I'm going to really focus on the job'," and: "Barack Obama plays golf to escape work while America goes down the drain." HuffPost also cheerfully pointed out that, after three years in office, Trump "has already spent 270% more days on the golf course than Obama had at the same point in his first term."

Impressively, Team Biden's ad was deployed almost immediately (last weekend, right after Trump golfed), showing a speed that will be crucial as the campaign heats up. And that wasn't the only time they taunted Trump this week. Biden pointed out what both he and Donald Trump tweeted on one day in October last year. Biden: "We are not prepared for a pandemic. Trump has rolled back progress President Obama and I made to strengthen global health security. We need leadership that builds public trust, focuses on real threats, and mobilizes the world to stop outbreaks before they reach our shores." Seems prophetic now, doesn't it? Meanwhile, President Donald Trump was tweeting to the head of Apple (or as he calls him, "Tim Apple" ) the following important message: "To Tim: The Button on the IPhone was FAR better than the Swipe!" So we have to say Joe Biden's campaign seems like they're on the ball, when it comes to poking the bear with a very large stick.

But this week, we've got to give the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award to Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, for their handling of the crisis. Once the video was made public, Frey immediately addressed the public with real emotion, stating that the four officers involved had already been fired. That happened almost immediately after the video surfaced -- unlike other mayors who have delayed making such a move for days, weeks, and even months. By the end of the week, the officer who had killed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for almost nine whole minutes had been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. That didn't happen soon enough for many people, but it happened a whole lot quicker than in other similar situations.

The Minnesota governor also shares in this award, because after state police arrested a black/Latino CNN reporter -- while he was on the air broadcasting -- for no discernable reason whatsoever (the reporter can be heard identifying himself as a member of the media to the police and asking where the cops wanted them to move to -- in complete contradiction with what the cops said about the arrest later), Governor Walz issued perhaps the best apology from a politician we've ever heard. Here is the full text of what Walz had to say:

I also want to address an issue and this one is on me and I will own it. Earlier this morning, when this mission was carried out under my direction to re-secure the Third Precinct -- to do so in a manner which I am proud of how it was executed by this team, no injuries and no loss of life -- a reestablishment to put the fires out for those businesses, a CNN reporter, a crew, was arrested by the state patrol.

A few minutes after hearing that, I was on a call with CNN President Jeff Zucker, who demanded to know what happened. I take full responsibility, there is absolutely no reason something like this should happen. Calls were made immediately. This is a very public apology to that team; it should not happen.

And I want to be clear for those who are listening -- I think our Minnesota reporters know this -- I am a teacher by trade and I have spent my time as governor highlighting the need to be as transparent as possible and have the press here. I failed you last night in that. And it does not escape me that we are here on the catalyst that lit this spark by what happened with a police detainment of George Floyd and the idea that a reporter would have been taken while another police action was in play is inexcusable.

So to CNN, to the CNN team, to the journalists here, this is about having a plan, and that's what these folks are going to talk about. This is about having an aggressive approach to understanding what the community needs, to not coming in heavy-handed with them but to create space where the story can be told. In a situation like this, even if you're clearing an area, we have got to ensure that there is a safe spot for journalism to tell the story.

The issue here is trust. The community that's down there that's terrorized by this, if they see a reporter being arrested, their assumption is it's because something's going to happen that they don't want to be seen. And so that is unacceptable.

We will continue to strive to make sure that that accessibility is maintained. Not only that, the protection and security and safety of the journalists covering this is a top priority, not because it is a nice thing to do, because it is a key component of how we fix this. Sunshine, disinfectant and seeing what's happening has to be done.

That is how you apologize and accept the blame when something goes drastically wrong on your watch! As we said, we don't think we've ever heard a more sweeping and heartfelt apology from any politician anywhere at any time. Which is why both Mayor Frey and Governor Walz are the joint winners of this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award.

[Congratulate Governor Tim Walz on his official contact page, and Mayor Jacob Frey on his official contact page, to let them know you appreciate their efforts.]

Before we get to this week, we've got some old business we've got to take care of first. A few weeks ago we noted that the F.B.I. was looking at how Senator Dianne Feinstein's husband was trading stocks at the start of the pandemic, and this week they announced that they had in effect been cleared of any wrongdoing. We didn't actually give Feinstein an award (we reserved judgment), but we felt it was necessary to clear the record, since the F.B.I. cleared her name.

Our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week could also be classified as old business, since the event in question actually happened last Friday morning (instead of, technically, "during the week since this column last ran" ). Sometimes, in the frenzy of putting this column together, things slip through the cracks on Fridays. But when they're important, we feel it's worth revisiting.

Last Friday, Joe Biden appeared on the syndicated radio show "The Breakfast Club," with host Charlemagne Tha God. Biden, trying to wrap up the interview at the end, attempted to be amusing. Or folksy. Or something. Spoiler alert: it didn't go over well.

The line that got Biden into all the hot water was: "If you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black."

Later that day, Biden profusely apologized: "I was much too cavalier. I know that the comments have come off like I was taking the African-American vote for granted. But nothing could be further from the truth. I shouldn't have been such a wise guy." No, Joe, you shouldn't.

Biden, of course, has a point. Black voters were the ones who saved his presidential candidacy from extinction, in the South Carolina primary. And in the most-recent Quinnipiac poll, black voters support Biden over Trump by a margin of 78 percent. Please note, that doesn't mean that 78 percent of black voters support him, it means the difference between Trump's support and Biden's support is almost 80 percent. Team Trump immediately tried to make all sorts of political hay over Biden's gaffe, but this is a long and steep climb for them, as the rest of the week painfully showed.

So even though it was an off-the-cuff attempt at a snappy line said on a morning radio show, Joe Biden should have known better than to wade into the troubled waters of a white man declaring who is and who is not "black." And for that, even though it happened more than a week ago, Joe Biden is sadly our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week.

[Our blanket policy is not to link to campaign websites, so you'll have to search Joe Biden's contact information out yourself, sorry.]

Volume 576 (5/29/20)

Once again, a mixed selection of possible Democratic talking points this week. As always, use responsibly!

Except that's what George Floyd didn't get

Even Mitch McConnell couldn't explain away that video of the Minneapolis police.

"Mitch McConnell issued a statement about the Minneapolis police caught on video this week, stating that the facts are 'pretty obvious' and 'absolutely horrendous.' But in an unintended bit of irony, he spoke about what should happen next for the policemen in question:

We have a way of dealing with crime in this country, it's called prosecution and conviction. Everybody is entitled to the protections of the court system, even people who apparently -- if you see what happened -- look pretty darn guilty.

That is indeed how it is supposed to work. Except for the glaring fact that George Floyd didn't get any prosecution or conviction at all -- instead, he got nothing short of a summary execution for the crime of trying to use a fake twenty-dollar bill."

Taylor Swift chimes in

OK, she's not exactly Walter Cronkite, but she does indeed have a pretty significant following in Middle America. Swift reacted to Donald Trump's tweet today with scathing indignation (and a promise):

After stoking the fires of white supremacy and racism your entire presidency, you have the nerve to feign moral superiority before threatening violence? "When the looting starts the shooting starts"??? We will vote you out in November.

Just stop

Let's not forget what started the war on Twitter, because it is still important.

"Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger reacted to Donald Trump fanning the flames of conspiracy theory -- by accusing Joe Scarborough of a murder he did not commit -- by begging Donald Trump to just quit it. Kinzinger tweeted: 'Completely unfounded conspiracy. Just stop. Stop spreading it, stop creating paranoia. It will destroy us.' He did not specify whether 'us' referred to all of America, or just the Republican Party, but his message to the president was pretty clear."

Yet another Trump pandemic failure

This got lost in the shuffle this week, but it's worth pointing out.

"When the drug remdesivir was identified as a treatment for COVID-19, the maker of the drug donated 607,000 vials of the medication to the federal government. The Trump administration tried to distribute it in early May, but as with pretty much everything else they've done during the crisis, they screwed it up, big time. They sent it to the wrong hospitals, they sent it to hospitals with no ICU department, they sent it to facilities that didn't have the refrigeration it needed. So these shipments all had to be returned to the government, because the Trump White House distributed it all without even bothering to consult with the hospitals themselves. This doesn't exactly fill me with confidence that they'll be able to handle the much bigger task of distributing a vaccine, when it becomes available."

No correction necessary

If the numbers are going to be bad, just ignore them!

"For the first time since the 1970s, the White House has announced it will not be issuing a mid-year economic projection this summer. For decades now, the White House issues a budget proposal in February and then updates it with a 'mid-session review' which has more-recent economic numbers for Congress to consider. Obviously, those numbers are not going to be politically useful for Donald Trump, if they were released in July or August as usual, so they've just decided to bury their heads in the sand and refuse to admit that anything has changed in the American economy since February. As far as the White House is concerned, if you don't like the numbers, then just pretend they don't exist."

Say what?

Tell us what you really think of us all....

"Senior White House economic advisor Kevin Hassett was interviewed on CNN last week, and he used a rather astonishing expression. You may have seen this guy -- he's the one that always has a grin on his face when speaking of the economy, no matter how bad the news actually is -- as when he spoke of the unemployment rate rising 'north of 20 percent' a few weeks ago. This time, he was predicting that the economy would bounce right back any day now, stating: 'Our human capital stock is ready to get back to work.' Excuse me? Human capital stock?!? As many pointed out on social media, 'human capital stock' is a phrase an erudite slave-owner might have used two centuries ago. And this guy is the senior economic advisor to Donald Trump?"

Tuna on toast

One can only hope.

"Yet another group of Republicans is launching an ad campaign to try to influence the presidential election -- by defeating Donald Trump. Joining the multiple other anti-Trump GOP groups is Republican Voters Against Trump, who just started running ads this week. The ads are comprised of statements of Republican voters on why they've either soured on Trump or never supported him in the first place. The group already has over 100 such statements, but the best one so far came from Jack Spielman, who voted for Trump last time but now calls him 'toxic.' Spielman doesn't mince words, stating boldly: 'I'd vote for a tuna fish sandwich before I'd vote for Donald Trump again.' Sounds good to me. Let me get that on toast. To go."

Chris Weigant blogs at: ChrisWeigant.com
Follow Chris on Twitter: ChrisWeigant
Full archives of FTP columns: FridayTalkingPoints.com
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Reply Friday Talking Points -- 100,000 Dead While Trump Fiddles With Twitter (Original post)
ChrisWeigant May 29 OP
keithbvadu2 May 29 #1

Response to ChrisWeigant (Original post)

Fri May 29, 2020, 10:12 PM

1. Even though he says he has "One Of The Great Memories Of All Time", he surely did not remember this

Even though he says he has "One Of The Great Memories Of All Time", he surely did not remember this quote from 1967.

Someone must be feeding these quotes to him.

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