After the killing of five Dallas police officers (7/7) and the wounding of five other officers by a sniper at a rally called by Black Lives Matter to protest police shootings of blacks in Baton Rouge, La., and a St. Paul, Minn., suburb, reactions broke down along unfortunately predictable lines, with right wingers linking Black Lives Matter with gunman Micah X. Johnson (despite a lack of actual ties with the group). Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) blamed Black Lives Matter and people who “have a big mouth” on social media for the shooting in Dallas. He also said that the protesters were hypocritical for running from the shooting and expecting the police to protect them.

“I do blame people on social media with their hatred towards police. I do blame — I saw Jesse Jackson, I think it was on Fox last night, calling police racist without any facts. I do blame former Black Lives Matter protests,” Patrick said in an interview picked up by TexasTribune.org (7/8).

He added, “All those protesters last night, they ran the other way expecting the men and women in blue to turn around and protect them. What hypocrites!”

Other Texas Republicans also linked the Black Lives Matter movement to the shooting in Dallas. State Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, tweeted similar allegations. “Clearly the rhetoric of Black Lives Matters encouraged the sniper that shot Dallas police officers,” he wrote.

In a separate tweet, he said the “hands up, don’t shoot” rhetoric often used in Black Lives Matter events “is a lie” the media needs to dispel.

US Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, also pointed to the movement as a source of tension during an appearance on Fox Business and said President Obama has been “divisive” in his handling of tensions between African-Americans and law enforcement.

“He always comes out against the cops, but then he would usually be wrong,” Gohmert said. “This administration has supported Black Lives Matter, as even as its leaders have called out for killing cops.”

US Rep. Roger Williams (R-Weatherford) released a statement saying that “the spread of misinformation and constant instigation by prominent leaders, including our president, have contributed to the modern day hostility we are witnessing between the police and those they serve.”

Former US Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) declared “war” on President Obama and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Walsh sent out the incendiary tweet the night of the shooting in Dallas. The tweet, which read “This is now war. Watch out Obama. Watch out black lives matter punks. Real America is coming after you,” was later deleted, but In an interview the following night with CNN’s Don Lemon, Walsh said that he “absolutely” stands by his tweet, and that he is “pissed off” about the “war on our cops.”

Walsh proceeded to pin the “war on our cops” on rhetoric employed by Obama in the wake of police shootings of black men and women.

“The last couple of years, Barack Obama has done nothing but hate on cops. Accusing cops of being bad and racist,” Walsh told Lemon.

Following the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of law enforcement, which prompted the protests, Obama argued that police brutality has an outsized impact on communities of color. Studies have shown that black unarmed men are almost three and half times more likely to be shot by police than white unarmed men.

“When people say ‘black lives matter,’ it doesn’t mean that blue lives don’t matter,” Obama said before the Dallas ambush (7/7). “But right now, the data shows that black folks are more vulnerable to these kinds of incidents. There is a particular burden that is being placed on a group of our fellow citizens.”

After the Dallas killings, Obama called the actions of the gunman a “despicable attack on law enforcement” and pointing to the need for gun control. “There is no possible justification for these kinds of attacks, or any violence against law enforcement,” he said. “We also know that when people are armed with powerful weapons, unfortunately it makes attacks like these more deadly and more tragic. And in these days ahead we’re going to have to consider those realities as well.”

Organizers of the Black Lives Matter movement quickly condemned the Dallas shooting and took issue with efforts to blame the movement on it.

“Black activists have raised the call for an end to violence, not an escalation of it,” the group wrote in a statement (7/8). “Yesterday’s attack was the result of the actions of a lone gunman. To assign the actions of one person to an entire movement is dangerous and irresponsible. We continue our efforts to bring about a better world for all of us.”

Farai Chideya wrote in a column at TheGuardian.com (7/9), “Black Lives Matter has made its commitment to ending violence clear. I would only worry over the general idea of lone gunmen. These may act alone, but feel they are, if in spirit only, part of a group – whether we’re talking about the Dallas killer Micah Johnson or Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who murdered nine people at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina, a year ago.

“In America, ‘lone gunmen’ such as Johnson and Roof have access to weapons and to a dangerous ideological echo chamber, no matter how small or fringe, which reinforces their world view.

“Noting these similarities should not be taken as a leap of false equivalency in numbers or frequency of racialized murders by blacks on whites versus whites on blacks. The majority of domestic extremist killings are committed by white supremacists.

“And that returns us to the media. For even at our best these days, we sing the tune of truth but seem to have lost the audience. People are deeply entrenched in belief systems that seem stronger than facts and certainly don’t allow for a sense of compassionate, deep listening. Those who choose to believe that black people who are shot or beaten by police deserve it – or, at the very least, believe that Black Lives Matter tactics are divisive – may double down after this horrific murder of the Dallas officers.”

‘OPEN CARRY’ FAILS TEST IN DALLAS. The “Open Carry” law that allows people to carry rifles openly on the streets on the theory that “good guys with guns” can overcome bad guys with guns, flunked its test during the Dallas ambush, as many people were seen carrying assault-style rifles in and around the parade but did nothing to stop the shooter and in fact made things worse by confusing police.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said, “It’s logical to say that in a shooting situation, open carry can be detrimental to the safety of individuals.”

Rawlings said Dallas Police Chief David Brown told him that people running through the shooting scene with rifles and body armor required officers to track them down and bring them to the police department. Whether that was time that could have been spent trying to find and stop the shooter is something police will have to comment on, Rawlings said, according to the Dallas Morning News (7/9).

About 20 people in “ammo gear and protective equipment and rifles slung over their shoulder” participated in the downtown rally, Rawlings said. “When the shooting started, at different angles, they started running,” he said. “We started catching,” as police stopped and interviewed them. 

Rawlings said open carry brings confusion to a shooting scene. “What I would do is look for the people with guns,” he said.

Max Geron, a Dallas police major, talked about the confusion during the shooting in a post on a law enforcement website. “There was also the challenge of sorting out witnesses from potential suspects,” Geron said. “Texas is an open carry state, and there were a number of armed demonstrators taking part. There was confusion on the radio about the description of the suspects and whether or not one or more was in custody.”

DEMS UNITING BEHIND CLINTON. Democrats appear to be uniting behind Hillary Clinton after all, as Bernie Sanders was set to endorse Clinton in advance of the Democratic convention.

Sanders had declined to endorse Clinton and threatened to take the battle to the convention, but Greg Sargent of WashingtonPost.com noted (7/7) that it has long seemed most plausible that he was mainly interested in trying to win concessions on the party platform and the party’s agenda for as long as possible, not that he would blow up the party if he didn’t get his way.

“And this has actually happened: Sanders has won a string of victories in the platform, such as commitments to a $15-per-hour minimum wage; expanding Social Security; making universal health care available as a right through expanding Medicare or a public option; breaking up too-big-to-fail institutions; and a host of other, smaller goals designed to regulate Wall Street, make banking services available to lower income people, and spend more on infrastructure and job creation. Clinton has also agreed to vastly expand her plan for free college, which — along with a Sanders endorsement — should help unite young voters behind her, after a primary in which she really did fail to win their votes in worrying numbers.”

There is still one big looming fight — on trade. The Sanders campaign failed to get language opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership added to the platform at the committee hearing in Orlando, but it might take that fight to the convention floor.

A new Pew poll (7/7) found that Clinton leads Trump by 51%-42% among registered voters nationwide. But it also finds that among Dems and Dem leaners who backed Sanders during the primaries, 85% plan to vote for Clinton, while a total of 15% say they’ll vote for Trump (9%) or for someone else (6%). That means there’s still room for a Sanders endorsement to boost her further against Trump, as a recent survey conducted by veteran Dem pollster Stan Greenberg also found.

The Greenberg poll finds that among likely voters in nine key battleground states, Clinton leads Donald Trump by eight points, 49-41.

Among the findings: Trump’s Rust Belt strategy may be failing. In the aggregate of five of the states — Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire — Clinton leads by eight, 44-36. A second is that Clinton may be able to expand the map because she’s also doing well in the more diverse remaining states: In the aggregate of North Carolina, Arizona, Nevada, and Florida, Clinton also leads by eight, 47-39.

Trump also faces resistance from whites with college education, as a Washington Post-ABC News poll in June found Clinton leading Trump among that group 50-52, Bill Barrow reported for the Associated Press (7/10). Mitt Romney drew support from 56% of white voters with college degrees, according to 2012 exit polls. Obama notched just 42%, but still cruised to a second term.

Polling from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center pointed to particularly stark numbers among white women with at least a bachelor’s degree. At this point in 2008 and 2012, that group of voters was almost evenly divided between Obama and the Republican nominee. This June, Pew found Clinton with a 62-31 advantage. Conversely, Pew found Trump still leads, albeit by a slightly narrower margin than did Romney at this point, among white women with less than a bachelor’s degree.

Should Trump fail to even replicate Romney’s coalition, he has little hope of flipping many of the most contested states that Obama won twice, particularly Florida, Colorado and Virginia, Barrow noted. Trump’s struggles among college whites have Democrats eyeing North Carolina, which Obama won in 2008 before it reverted back to Republicans, and even GOP-leaning Arizona and Georgia.

Exit polls in the Republican primaries found him faring better among less educated groups. Trump particularly struggled with better educated Republicans when Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was in the presidential race.

Republican pollster Greg Strimple of Idaho told Barrow the gap is understandable. Voters without a college education, he said, are more likely to be struggling financially, to feel alienated from the political class Trump rails against and to find solace in his promise to stop illegal immigration.

Clinton’s campaign sees the persuadable portion of the electorate as being made up largely of women, many with college degrees. It has tried to reach them by hammering Trump as “dangerous” and “temperamentally unfit” for the job, while her initial general election advertising blitz focuses on her achievements in public life.

Kevin Drum noted at MotherJones.com that polls tracked by Huffington Post’s Pollster.com have shown Clinton’s support steady since the beginning of the year, about 45% (44.9% on 7/11), while Trump’s has declined from 42.7% on 1/1/16 to a low of 35% (4/2) and 40.2% on 7/11.

TRUMP LOSING BADLY AMONG LATINOS — AND SO IS GOP. Latino Decisions released polling (7/11) showing that fully 74% of Latinos support Hillary Clinton, while only 16% support Donald Trump. Analysts generally assume that the GOP candidate will need at least 40% of the Latino vote to recapture the White House but, given the growing number of Latino voters, Latino Decisions estimates Trump will need to carry anywhere from 42 to 47% of the Latino vote. 

Latinos also feel increasingly motivated to vote in 2016, with 54% already more enthused about this election than in 2012 (that’s up six points from April). In 2012, enthusiasm did not reach 50% until the last week of October.

Here’s several other top lines from the survey, noted by Kerry Eleveld at DailyKos.com:

• 77% of Latino voters believe the Republican Party is either openly “hostile” toward Latinos or indifferent about them.

• Latino voters support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by an 81-13 percent margin and the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program by a 83-14 percent margin.

• 91% of Latino voters said the Republican effort to block the DAPA and expanded DACA programs made them one of the following: disappointed, angry, sad, or frustrated.

• 67% of Latino voters said the Senate should take a vote this year on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

TRUMP RAISED $51M IN JUNE—AND THAT’S GOOD. Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee raised $51 mln in June, a big improvement for a candidate who just recently began fundraising for his campaign in earnest.

Trump raised $26 mln for his own campaign, his team announced, with an additional $25 mln raised jointly with the RNC at 22 separate fundraising events around the country. According to the campaign, 400,000 people donated, and 94% of those donations were for less than $200.

In addition, Trump contributed $3.8 mln of his own money to the campaign. His campaign did not announce how much money it currently has on hand, or how much it spent during the month of June.

But Markos Moulitsis noted at DailyKos.com (7/7) that those numbers aren’t as good as they look. Four years ago, Mitt Romney raised $106 mln in June 2012, and had $160 mln in the bank. “But still, this is the best news to happen to Democrats this month—even more so than Hillary Clinton being cleared of criminal wrongdoing by the FBI,” Kos wrote. “Why? Because there is a real effort to oust Trump in a convention coup, and one that had picked up steam in the preceding weeks. 

“Though a majority of the convention delegates are bound to support Mr. Trump, [one count] shows just about 890 delegates are personally loyal to the New Yorker,” the Wall Street Journal reported (7/6). Another 680 oppose Mr. Trump. That leaves 900 delegates who are presumed to be ‘in play’ … The stop-Trump forces would have to take nearly two-thirds of them to block his nomination.”

Kos noted that much of the rebel momentum came after Trump’s campaign reported having three pennies and a nickel on hand after May. “If the rich crazy guy was broke, then the impetus for a change at the top of the ticket was unassailable. But now, he’s raised a TREMENDOUS amount of money. AMAZING. The BEST!

“As noted, that’s all nonsense in comparison to a truly competent major party nominee, but that doesn’t matter. The numbers are big enough to take away a key rebel talking point. Trump can raise money, and finally is. And that means his chances of surviving the coup have increased dramatically,” Kos wrote. 

“And nothing improves Democratic chances up and down the ticket this November than having our good friend Don on the ticket.”

BAYH BID PUTS INDIANA SENATE SEAT IN PLAY. Former Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh is expected to announce that he’s going to wage a comeback for the seat he abandoned six years ago. Democrats had been fielding ex-US Rep. Baron Hill, but he raised less than $1 million as of mid-April, a pitiful sum for a statewide race, and he dropped out (7/11), clearing the way for Democrats to replace his name on the ballot with Bayh’s. (In 2010, the party’s central committee swapped out Bayh for Rep. Brad Ellsworth.)

Republicans are defending an open seat, since the man who succeeded Bayh, Sen. Dan Coats (R), decided to quit after just one term. (Coats had previously served in the Senate from 1989 to 1999, appointed to the vacancy left behind by none other than Dan Quayle.) In Coats’ stead, Republicans had chosen Rep. Todd Young, an establishment-oriented type who handily defeated a tea partying fellow congressman in the GOP primary earlier this year, David Nir reported at DailyKos.com (7/11).

But Young’s campaign has faced some troubles (only a nakedly partisan ruling by election officials saved him from getting knocked off the ballot for filing too few signatures), and he certainly didn’t imagine he’d suddenly land a top-flight opponent in the general election. Indeed, he had just over $1 mln in the bank at the end of June, which doesn’t even put him in the top 20 among Senate candidates in competitive races this year.

Bayh, by contrast, still has an extraordinary $9.3 mln left in his campaign account, one reason Democrats wanted him back in. But more important than money is Bayh’s name and reputation. Bayh, who hails from one of Indiana’s most prominent political families, won two terms as governor starting in 1988 (when he was just 33 years old), then went on to win election to the Senate in dominant fashion in 1998—reclaiming the seat his father, progressive icon Birch Bayh, had lost to Quayle in 1980.

Progressives won’t be excited by centrist Evan Bayh, but Democrats regaining control of the Senate would put progressives in charge of many Senate committees — including Sen. Pat Leahy at Judiciary and Bernie Sanders at the Budget Committee.

RYAN TAX PLAN DESIGNED WITH RICH IN MIND. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been rolling out his “Better Way” agenda, a slate of proposals meant to offer new ideas from the Republican Party to benefit the country, over a number of weeks. The final plank was a tax plan full of recycled conservative ideas, Bryce Covert noted at ThinkProgress.org (7/6).

And now two analyses show that no matter how one looks at it, the package of tax reforms would overwhelmingly help the wealthy the most and leave little for everyone else.

The first analysis from Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ), a left-leaning think tank, found that the top 1% of American earners make off with the biggest tax cut by far. Those in this rarified slice of the income scale would see an 8% increase in their after-tax income if the House Republicans’ tax plan were implemented, or an average of an extra $137,780 each. That represents a 60% cut of all the benefits the Republicans offer to individuals.

The poorest 20% of the country, on the other hand, would see income increase by just 0.7%, or $107. The middle class fares no better, with the middle 20% getting just a 1.5% bump, or $753. No group, under CTJ’s analysis, would get a more than 1.5% increase except for the top 1%.

Even a more sympathetic group comes to the same conclusion. The Tax Foundation, a conservative think tank, found in its own analysis that on a static basis — not taking into account any assumptions about potential economic or wage growth from cutting taxes — the bottom 80% of Americans would see a marginal increase in income, ranging between 0.2% to 0.5%. Only those in the top 20% of income earners would see a 1% increase, while the top 1% would get a 5.3% boost.

The Tax Foundation also includes a “dynamic” analysis, or one that purports to take into account potential positive effects from the massive tax cuts on the economy. But those assumptions about future economic performance are difficult to make accurately, and there is little evidence that tax cuts benefit growth.

Even with these shaky assumptions, however, the Tax Foundation still concludes that the benefits skew to the rich. The bottom 80% would see an increase of anywhere from 8.4% to 9.1%, while the top 1% would make off with a 13% bump.

‘OTHER’ SOLAR ENERGY CAN RUN AT NIGHT, JUST GOT A BIG BACKER. Converting sunlight directly into electricity, the photovoltaic (PV) solar panel industry has dominated the solar generation market recently because of its astounding price drops. Prices have fallen 99% in the past quarter century and over 80% since 2008 alone. This has also helped to slow the growth of the “other” form of solar, concentrating solar thermal power (CSP), which uses sunlight to heat water and uses the steam to drive a turbine and generator, Joe Romm noted at ThinkProgress.org (7/7).

Fortunately, one country appears to be making a major bet on CSP — China. SolarReserve, the company that built the Crescent Dunes plant (pictured above) recently announced a deal with the Shenhua Group, the world’s largest coal provider, to build 1,000 megawatts of CSP with storage in China. And the country as a whole has plans to build some 10,000 megawatts of CSP in the next five years.

“I say ‘fortunately’ because CSP has one huge potential advantage compared to PV. The heat it generates can be stored over 20 times more cheaply than electricity — and with far greater efficiency.” Romm wrote. “So CSP’s ‘killer app’ is that it can provide power long after the sun has set — and it doesn’t disrupt the grid when a cloud passes overhead.”

Romm added, “One technology’s miracle is, however, another technology’s competitive nightmare. And so the question has been, will any country try to do for CSP which Germany and China (and others) did for PV — make major investments to bring CSP down the learning curve?

“Both the [International Energy Agency (IEA)] and the US National Renewable Energy Lab have said that after solar PV makes a deep penetration into the electricity market, CSP will likely become more valuable. A 2014 NREL study found a CSP project with thermal storage ‘would add additional value of 5 or 6 cents per kilowatt hour to utility-scale solar energy in California where 33% renewables will be mandated in six years,’” Romm wrote.

Right now, solar PV produces power at the most valuable time — the daytime peak in electricity consumption, especially during the summer, when air conditioning use creates a huge power draw. But once solar PV hits 10% to 15% of annual electric generation in a region, it can become less valuable. The IEA projects that when that occurs, perhaps around 2030, “Massive-scale STE deployment takes off at this stage thanks to CSP plants’ built-in thermal storage, which allows for generation of electricity when demand peaks in late afternoon and in the evening, thus complementing PV generation.”

NET NEW JOBS IN JUNE. The American economy added 287,000 new jobs in June, 90,000 of which were needed to keep up with population growth. This means that net job growth clocked in at a very robust 197,000 jobs, Kevin Drum noted at MotherJones.com (7/8). This makes up for May’s miserable jobs report, and suggests that economic growth is still chugging along at decent rate. The labor force expanded considerably in June as more people were drawn to look for a job, so the number of unemployed also went up, producing a rise in the unemployment rate to 4.9%.

Hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory employees were up at an annual rate of about 2.3% compared to the previous month, a bit higher than the inflation rate. “That’s not great, but at least it’s progress,” Drum noted.

“Overall, this jobs report was a relief. Employment growth over the past six months hasn’t been great, but at least it hasn’t been driven into a ditch.”

From The Progressive Populist, August 1, 2016


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