Arguably this is paranoia, but the mayor and police chief of my city do not think so and have officially reacted with formal response. What a sign that I am an old whatever, praising local law enforcement, but, well....
So the issue is that late last evening a truck full of masked white men, and no, we are not talking health masks but ones that cover ID, with flags waving including the Confederate battle flag, were going up and down our block taking photos of certain houses, including ours. What did these objects of this photographic effort find consistent? We all had posters on our property declaring "Black Live Matters." Many on our block became upset over this, including my wife, and now the City of Harrisonburg, VA police are specially watching our block. I note that both the mayor and police chief of our city happen to be Black, for which at this time I am grateful.
Background here is that I have been living where I am for 32 years with my wife, Marina, in a block in Old Town of Harrisonburg, VA, where most of the houses are somewhat over a century old, and we are five minutes from the central square, as well as being 20 minutes from offices at James Madison University. Where we are is given by the 2004 prez election. There are 5 precincts in Harrisonburg, but ours, closest to JMU, was the only precinct in the entire Shenandoah Valley that went for Kerry over Bush. Yes, we are an island of "liberalism," with Harrisonburg later in 16 going strongly for Bernie.
So I happen to live on the most publicized block of all of this Old Town, which I note for the record has both Trump supporters in good number as well as Republicans who are not big fans of Trump. There has been a long history of the local newspaper focusing on our block in particular [Daily News Record owned by family of the late racist Harry Byrd], with even our house appearing twice in stories in this paper representing the neighborhood [we have a nice garden in front]. I note here that our block is a super fave on Halloween for trick or treaters, many hundreds coming from outside the city. We do our best to treat them well.
Our neighborhood, heavily crawling with JMU faculty, is certainly mostly an upper middle class neighborhood, But while being mostly white there are Blacks as well as various people from abroad from all over the world. So we are fairly diverse these days.
Anyway, several weeks ago a friend-neighbor up the street starting putting out these Black Lives Matter signs, costing I think 3 bucks or so, that one could put in one's yard. They went all over town, but our block got more than anywhere else, with where I live 5 of us in a contiguous row puttng them in our visible front yards. At least one of those in our row is a Republican family..
Try not to let them intimidate you- that is what they are trying to do. Of course they are themselves too cowardly to show their faces while they try to scare others like you into silence. Good for you that you have a sign in your yard.
July 11, 2020
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BLM is a badge, nothing about the "movement" which usurped it is civil. BLM attracts the wrong sort.
I have never considered our host here, Barkley Rosser, to be the wrong sort. I'm surprised that some do.
Did not know dnr was owned by byrd family. Lets hope your precinct will go Blue again this time.
I was not thinking our host, I was addressing the uncivil usurpers of the BLM agenda as in Seattle, NYC, Atlanta, Madison, etc. And the interlopers wandering JBR's neighborhood.
Latest development in town is that a truck whose description sounds like the one that was on our street went into a student apartment complex area and reportedly somebody in it was shooting a gun or guns at other vehicles. So far nobody seems to have taken a photo or gotten the license plate number, but there was a major public warning. I think the city police are seriously after these guys now.
They might have gone after the student complex, not too many of them there right now, because JMU has agreed to rename three buildings that were named for Confederate officers, Jackson, Maury, and Ashby.
I knew Ashby was a confederate and always thought it was weird that a bldg was named after him, but glad all three are being renamed.
Also, it seems to make sense to me that professors that have spent their lives becoming educated, building on the existing knowledge base, and sharing their knowledge, seem more likely support equal rights and voted Democratic like your fellow patriots living on your street. Further, I do not buy into the idea that young folks are brainwashed at college by liberal professors - it is a time when eyes are opened and you can take in all sorts of perspectives, but each person makes their own way in life. Lastly, I always feel better when my precinct votes the way I do, so let's all vote even if there attempts to intimidate us from voting.
Of course, most of the time most people pay no attention to whom buildings are named for. They are just names on the buildings and that is it. For that matter, Jackson Hall could have been named for Andrew, not necessarily that much of an improvement over Stonewall. It used to house the history dept (now is being reconstructed actually), and one of them said it should be renamed for Jesse Jackson.
The scoop on Turner Ashby is that he died in the Battle of Harrisonburg on June 6, 1862, a minor side skirmish really to the Battle of Cross Keys near the end of the Stonewall Jackson Valley Campaign, so he has had this local connection. There is a high school in the county named for him, with renaming it now under consideration. Those who go there or teach there all call it "T.A." I have suggested renaming it for Theodor Adorno so they can still call it "T.A." I have even gotten the attention of one of the teachers there, but I suspect that will not fly.
As it is, all three campus building were given their names in the early 20th century, with the push coming from outright advocated of the Lost Cause mythology and praising them for their Confderate positions. Maury actually was an important scientist, founder of the U.S. Naval Observatory and author of important books on oceanography and meteorology, and if one looka at his Wikipedia entry his scientific activities get much more attention than his diplomatic activities for the Confederacy. But the fact that those naming the building after him did so because of his Confederate connection kind of seals the case.
As of now, there is no sign in front of the former Jackson Hall, which will not be used this coming fall. But Maury is now temporarily "Mountain Hall" and Ashby is now temporarity "Valley Hall." Oh, we also have a Wilson Hall, after Woodrow, who was born in Staunton 25 miles away. There is a current debate about whether to rename it or not.
Federal Agents Unleash Militarized Crackdown on Portland
NY Times – July 17
PORTLAND, Ore. — Federal agents dressed in camouflage and tactical gear have taken to the streets of Portland, unleashing tear gas, bloodying protesters and pulling some people into unmarked vans in what Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon has called “a blatant abuse of power.”
The extraordinary use of federal force in recent days, billed as an attempt to tamp down persistent unrest and protect government property, has infuriated local leaders who say the agents have stoked tensions. “This is an attack on our democracy,” Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland said.
Late Friday night, Oregon’s attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, said her office had opened a criminal investigation into how one protester was injured near a federal courthouse. She also filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court accusing the federal agents of engaging in unlawful tactics and seeking a restraining order.
The strife in Portland, which has had 50 consecutive days of protests, reflects the growing fault lines in law enforcement as President Trump threatens an assertive federal role in how cities manage a wave of national unrest after George Floyd was killed by the Minneapolis police.
One Portland demonstrator, Mark Pettibone, 29, said he had been part of the protests before four people in camouflage jumped out of an unmarked van around 2 a.m. Wednesday. They had no obvious markings or identification, he said, and he had no idea who they were.
“One of the officers said, ‘It’s OK, it’s OK,’ and just grabbed me and threw me into the van,” Mr. Pettibone said. “Another officer pulled my beanie down so I couldn’t see.” ... “It feels like fascism.”
In a statement issued on Friday, Customs and Border Protection described one case captured on video, saying agents who made an arrest had information that indicated a suspect had assaulted federal authorities or damaged property and that they moved him to a safer location for questioning. The statement, which did not name any suspects, said that the agents identified themselves but that their names were not displayed because of “recent doxxing incidents against law enforcement personnel.”
The agents in Portland are part of “rapid deployment teams” put together by the Department of Homeland Security after Mr. Trump directed federal agencies to deploy additional personnel to protect statues, monuments and federal property during the continuing unrest. …
Biden leads by double digits as coronavirus takes a toll on the president, Post-ABC poll finds
Washington Post via @BostonGlobe - July 19
President Donald Trump faces a significant challenge in his bid to win reelection in November, with former vice president Joe Biden holding a double-digit lead nationally and the president's approval ratings crumbling amid a spreading coronavirus pandemic and a weakened economy, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The survey portrays an embattled president whose fortunes have declined markedly since the coronavirus arrived in the United States months ago. Trump's prospects for winning in November appear to depend heavily on his ability to rally an enthusiastic core base of supporters and on convincing a broader swath of a largely skeptical public that he is dealing effectively with the pandemic.
Biden leads Trump 55% to 40% among registered voters. That compares with a 10-point Biden lead in May and a two-point edge in March, at a time when the pandemic was just beginning to spread rapidly in parts of the country. Among those who say they are certain to vote, Biden's lead stands at 11 points.
Trump maintains an edge in the passion for his candidacy: More than 9 in 10 Trump supporters say they are enthusiastic about voting for him, with nearly 7 in 10 saying they are very enthusiastic. That compares with roughly 8 in 10 Biden supporters who say they are enthusiastic, with just under 4 in 10 saying they are very enthusiastic. The percentage of very enthusiastic Biden voters has risen by 11 points since March.
Despite the president's attempts to shift the electorate's focus to his criticisms of Biden, both candidates' supporters are treating the November election as a referendum on Trump. Among Trump voters, 72% say what is most important is reelecting the president, including 47% who say this is extremely important, while 21% say their motivation is to defeat Biden.
Among Biden voters, the results are roughly the opposite, with 67% saying what is most important is defeating the president, including 48% who say this is extremely important, and 24% saying that electing the former vice president is their main motivation.
National polling results tell only a partial story of the state of the 2020 election. Trump's hopes for a second term rest on whether he can assemble an electoral college majority in the states, even if he were to lose the popular vote, as he did in 2016. Current polling in battleground states shows a similarly challenging pattern for Trump, however, with the president struggling to replicate the often-narrow victories that led to his election four years ago. Still, the margins in many of those states are closer than the national numbers.
Other polls in recent days have also found Trump trailing by a wide margin nationally, and the president responded Wednesday by shaking up his campaign team, demoting campaign manager Brad Parscale and elevating Bill Stepien to the job of leading the reelection effort. To date, however, the president and his campaign have struggled to settle on a consistent and effective line of attack against Biden. ...
How Buying Beans Became a Political Statement
NY Times - July 19
For years, the Goya brand was synonymous with the Latino-American dream. The sheer number of products that lined the grocery store aisles — from refried pinto beans to sazón con azafran seasoning — spoke to the growing number of Hispanic immigrants who bought them. Goya, the nation’s largest Hispanic food company, has sponsored Dominican art shows, mariachi contests and soccer programs.
Advisers to President Trump considered it a victory when Goya’s chief executive, Robert Unanue, agreed to appear at the White House rollout of what it called the Hispanic Prosperity Initiative, an executive order that promised better access to education and employment for Hispanics.
In the Rose Garden on July 9, Mr. Unanue praised Mr. Trump and compared him to his grandfather, who founded Goya.
“We’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder,” Mr. Unanue said. “And that’s what my grandfather did.”
And just like that, a once-beloved brand became anathema in many Latino homes across the United States. People posted videos and photos of themselves clearing out their pantries and tossing cans of Goya beans into the trash. It became a symbol of political resistance to share recipes for Goya product substitutes. “Oh look, it’s the sound of me Googling ‘how to make your own Adobo,’” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York wrote on Twitter, referring to a popular seasoning that Goya sells.
Almost immediately, Trump loyalists pushed back — filling shopping carts full of Goya products and posting videos of themselves dutifully swallowing Goya beans.
By the time Ivanka Trump tweeted an endorsement of Goya, one thing had become clear: In a polarized country, at a polarized time, the buying of beans had become a political act.
Even as Mr. Trump’s support has cratered among many demographics, he has held on to a small but durable slice of Hispanic voters, many of them in Florida, a state full of Cuban Republicans that is known for razor-thin electoral margins. ...
Trump says he is not ready to commit to election results if he loses in November
AP via @BostonGlobe - July 19
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is refusing to publicly commit to accepting the results of the upcoming White House election, recalling a similar threat he made weeks before the 2016 vote, as he scoffs at polls showing him lagging behind Democrat Joe Biden. Trump says it's too early to make such an ironclad guarantee.
“I have to see. Look ... I have to see,” Trump told moderator Chris Wallace during a wide-ranging interview on ”Fox News Sunday." “No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.” The Biden campaign responded: "The American people will decide this election. And the United States government is perfectly capable of
Trump also hammered the Pentagon brass for favoring renaming bases that honor Confederate military leaders — a drive for change spurred by the national debate about race after George Floyd's death. “I don’t care what the military says,” the commander in chief said.
The president described the nation's top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, as a “a little bit of an alarmist” about the coronavirus pandemic, and Trump stuck to what he had said back in February — that the virus is “going to disappear.” On Fox, he said, “I'll be right eventually.” The United States tops the global death toll list with over 140,000 and confirmed infections, with 3.7 million.
It is remarkable that a sitting president would express less than complete confidence in the American democracy's electoral process. But for Trump, it comes from his insurgent playbook of four years ago, when in the closing stages of his race against Hillary Clinton, he said he would not commit to honoring the election results if the Democrat won.
Pressed during an October 2016 debate about whether he would abide by the voters' will, Trump responded that he would “keep you in suspense.”
Trump has seen his presidential popularity erode over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and in the aftermath of nationwide protests centered on racial injustice that erupted after Floyd's death in Minneapolis nearly two months.
Trump contends that a series of polls that show his popularity eroding and Biden holding an advantage are faulty. He believes Republican voters are underrepresented in such surveys.
“First of all, I’m not losing, because those are fake polls,” Trump said in the taped interview, which aired Sunday. “They were fake in 2016 and now they’re even more fake. The polls were much worse in 2016.”
Trump was frequently combative with Wallace in defending his administration’s response to the pandemic, weighing in on the Black Lives Matter movement and trying to portray Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, as lacking the mental prowess to serve as president.
Among the issues discussed was the push for wholesale changes in policing that has swept across the nation. Trump said he could understand why Black Americans are upset about how police use force disproportionately against them.
“Of course I do. Of course I do,” the president said, adding his usual refrain that “whites are also killed, too.”
He said he was “not offended either by Black Lives Matter,” but at the same time defended the Confederate flag, a symbol of the racism of the past, and said those who “proudly have their Confederate flags, they’re not talking about racism.”
“They love their flag, it represents the South, they like the South. That’s freedom of speech. And you know, the whole thing with ‘cancel culture,’ we can’t cancel our whole history. We can’t forget that the North and the South fought. We have to remember that, otherwise we’ll end up fighting again. You can’t just cancel all,” Trump said. ...
“I have to see. Look ... I have to see,” Trump told moderator Chris Wallace during a wide-ranging interview on ”Fox News Sunday." “No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.” The Biden campaign responded: "The American people will decide this election. And the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.”
Trump Leans Into False Virus Claims in Combative Fox News Interview
NY Times - July 19
WASHINGTON — An agitated President Trump offered a string of combative and often dubious assertions in an interview aired Sunday, defending his handling of the coronavirus with misleading evidence, attacking his own health experts, disputing polls showing him trailing in his re-election race and defending people who display the Confederate flag as victims of “cancel culture.”
The president’s remarks, delivered in an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” amounted to a contentious potpourri more commonly found on his Twitter feed and at his political rallies.
The difference this time was a vigorous attempt by the host, Chris Wallace, to fact-check him, leading to several clashes between the two on matters ranging from the coronavirus response to whether Mr. Trump would accept the results of the election should he lose.
The president made a litany of false claims about his administration’s handling of the virus, despite evidence that key officials and public health experts advising the president made crucial missteps and played down the spread of the disease this spring. In the interview, Mr. Trump falsely claimed that the United States had “one of the lowest mortality rates in the world” from the virus.
“That’s not true, sir,” Mr. Wallace said.
“Do you have the numbers, please?” Mr. Trump said. “Because I heard we had the best mortality rate.”
The United States has the eighth-worst fatality rate among reported coronavirus cases in the world, and the death rate per 100,000 people — 42.83 — ranks it third-worst, according to data on the countries most affected by the coronavirus compiled by Johns Hopkins University. Mr. Trump said that by increasing testing, his administration was “creating trouble for the fake news to come along and say, ‘Oh, we have more cases.’” ...
Mr. Trump insulted Fox News pollsters as “among the worst” when presented with data that showed him trailing former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee, claiming that he had seen polls that showed him winning.
“I understand you still have more than 100 days to this election, but at this point you’re losing,” Mr. Wallace told Mr. Trump after detailing a new Fox News poll that showed Mr. Biden leading the president by eight points, 49 percent to 41 percent, among registered voters.
“First of all, I’m not losing,” Mr. Trump replied, “because those are fake polls. They were fake in 2016, and now they’re even more fake. The polls were much worse in 2016.”
But in reality, the Fox News poll was much better for him than another major survey released Sunday. A Washington Post-ABC News poll showed Mr. Biden with a double-digit lead: 55 percent to 40 percent among registered voters. The numbers were part of a slate of polls showing Mr. Biden’s lead widening as the pandemic weighed on the president’s approval ratings. ...
'WASHINGTON — An agitated President Trump offered a string of combative and often dubious assertions in an interview aired Sunday, defending his handling of the coronavirus with misleading evidence, attacking his own health experts, disputing polls showing him trailing in his re-election race and defending people who display the Confederate flag as victims of “cancel culture.”'
All in all, a pretty disturbing and disgraceful appearance from Mr Trump, IMO.
So, it's good to see that Kanye West is still in the race...
Rapper Kanye West criticizes Harriet Tubman at rally
AP via @BostonGlobe - July 20
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Rapper Kanye West, in his first event since declaring himself a presidential candidate, ranted against historical figure Harriet Tubman on Sunday, saying the Underground Railroad conductor “never actually freed the slaves, she just had them work for other white people,” comments that drew shouts of opposition from some in the crowd.
West delivered a lengthy monologue, touching on topics from abortion and religion to international trade and licensing deals, before a crowd in North Charleston, South Carolina. Whether he is actually seeking the nation's highest office remains a question.
Tubman is one of the most respected figures of 19th century America. An African American who escaped slavery, she helped enslaved Black men and women travel north to freedom and fought for the Union during the Civil War. She later became a supporter of women's suffrage. ...
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