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The Morning Dispatch: Trump Visits Kenosha
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The Morning Dispatch: Trump Visits Kenosha

Plus, a Kennedy loses a Massachusetts primary for the first time ever.

Happy Wednesday! There was a whole thing about Trump and “mini-strokes” yesterday that we’re not going to touch with a 10-foot pole. You’re welcome.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • The United States confirmed 44,254 new cases of COVID-19 yesterday, with 6.3 percent of the 703,946 tests reported coming back positive. An additional 1,050 deaths were attributed to the virus on Tuesday, bringing the pandemic’s American death toll to 184,629.

  • Facebook and Twitter announced the removal of several accounts and pages they traced back to Russian officials. The accounts circulated misinformation about race relations, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and President Trump’s policies. A portion of the disinformation campaign, according to Graphika researchers, attempted “to build a left-wing audience and steer it away from Biden’s campaign.”

  • An appeals court panel granted President Trump’s request to temporarily block Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance from accessing Trump’s financial records as part of Vance’s investigation into the Trump Organization and then-candidate Trump’s hush money payments to various women.

  • The Justice Department unveiled reforms to the oversight of the FISA process yesterday that will establish an FBI Office of Internal Auditing and more closely monitor “any surveillance applications targeting elected officials and political campaigns.” In announcing the reforms, Attorney General Bill Barr said: “What happened to the Trump presidential campaign and his subsequent Administration after the President was duly elected by the American people must never happen again.”

  • The Trump administration—building on the president’s August 8 executive orderannounced yesterday the CDC will invoke its authority to halt evictions through the end of 2020 in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. “American renters who meet certain conditions cannot be evicted if they have affirmatively exhausted their best efforts to pay rent, seek government rental assistance, and are likely to become homeless due to eviction,” the White House said in a statement.

  • Two Democratic congressional incumbents—Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Richard Neal—fended off primary challenges when Massachusetts residents went to the polls on Tuesday. Markey, endorsed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, defeated Rep. Joe Kennedy III, who had been backed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

The Real World Toll of Looting and Rioting

President Trump embarked on a trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday to show support for local law enforcement and survey the damage looters and rioters inflicted in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

“I came to thank the law enforcement, the police. They’re incredible,” Trump said in his remarks touring the emergency operations center in Kenosha. “And the National Guard has been truly amazing. They all got together. They coalesced. The minute they got here, it was over,” he added, referring to the street violence.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers first authorized use of the National Guard on Monday, August 24—one day after the shooting of Jacob Blake—to “support local law enforcement in Kenosha County to help protect critical infrastructure and assist in maintaining public safety and the ability of individuals to peacefully protest.” He authorized another 500 National Guard members to support law enforcement in Kenosha County on August 26, and on August 27 he announced that he’d be coordinating with other governors under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact to bring additional National Guard members from Arizona, Michigan, and Alabama to the Badger State. 

Wisconsin National Guard Adjutant General Paul Knapp said earlier this week that, as of Monday, there were approximately 1,000 members of the Wisconsin National Guard deployed to Kenosha, with an additional 500 supporting them from the other three states. The Associated Press reported that about 200 federal law enforcement officials—from the U.S. Marshals Service, FBI, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives—were dispatched to the city as well.

Evers wrote a letter to Trump earlier in the week “respectfully [asking him] to reconsider” his visit to Kenosha. “I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing,” Evers said. “I am concerned your presence will only delay our work to overcome division and move forward together.”

Trump, of course, was not deterred. And while there were some protests surrounding his visit—the White House pool reporter for the day detailed a group of demonstrators sticking their middle fingers up at the president’s motorcade—plenty were grateful for his presence.

“I just want to say thank you so much for your rapid response,” Republican State Sen. Van Wanggaard—representing Kenosha’s neighboring Racine County—told Trump, “and the fact that you’re coming to a small city in the United States, and just saying that that’s as important as every other city.”

Contributor Christian Schneider, who covered the protests in Madison last week, went to Kenosha yesterday, where in addition to Trump’s visit, there was a Justice for Jacob Blake event. Schneider visited the latter and found neighbors grilling, bouncy houses set up for kids, and even booths for grief counseling and voter registration. Blake’s uncle discussed Trump’s presence.

“I’m not directing anything toward that gentleman today, and I use that term loosely,” said Justin Blake, Jacob’s uncle. “We’re going to focus on Little Jake—his healing, his children’s healing, and healing Kenosha,” Justin Blake said.

Trump pledged his administration would provide $1 million for Kenosha law enforcement, $42 million to “support public safety statewide,” and $4 million to help small businesses damaged in the unrest rebuild.

Audrey talked to some of these small-business owners in a piece for the site. 

“They broke all the windows, the door, they started a fire upfront in the store, stole a whole bunch of everything,” said Jim DeGrazio, owner of a resale shop called Treasures Within.

He described feeling “powerless” while he watched on security footage as the rioters closed in on his business. “I saw them around the corner and then the building next door and then on the stream I heard my alarm going off,” DeGrazio said. “There’s nothing you can do.”

DeGrazio is unsure how he will be able to recover financially from all of the damage that was inflicted on the building. “There’s no insurance that covers any of this,” he said. “This is all out of pocket.” DeGrazio expects the window repair to cost about $6,000—at a minimum. “We’re probably going to exceed $10,000.”

Pamela “Sue” Moniz watched her business, Sue and Keith’s Magical Mattress Store, burn to the ground in Kenosha on August 24. “We were watching on a live feed and could see the group—who I’m sure was not from this community—approaching our business in uptown and decided to get there as as quickly as we could to see what we could do to prevent any further loss, and they had already assaulted a dear friend who had also rushed to the scene,” Moniz told The Dispatch.

Moniz found Robert Cobb, a 71-year-old friend who had helped out at the store for years, lying in a pool of his own blood outside the business. Cobb was trying to fend off looters with a fire extinguisher; he was assaulted from behind by a rioter with a concrete-filled water bottle. The blow broke his jaw in two places and split open his nose. 

A spokesperson for the Kenosha Police Department said 102 of the 175 people arrested in Kenosha between August 24 and August 30 hailed from outside the city.

A Kennedy Is Defeated

Sen. Ed Markey handily won his Democratic primary in Massachusetts yesterday, defeating challenger, Rep. Joe Kennedy III, who conceded the race last night.

In some ways, it was the type of contest that’s become increasingly common in the Democratic Party over the last few years: A young progressive challenger up against an older establishment incumbent. 

But the race for Ed Markey’s Senate seat featured a few variations on the theme. In this case, the “young progressive challenger” came from America’s most establishment political family: Kennedy’s “people,” as they might say in certain parts of Massachusetts, boast a 26-0 record in primary races. The “older establishment incumbent” here was 74-year-old Ed Markey, a congressman since 1976 who moved to the Senate in 2013 and who was, in a feat of political jiu-jitsu, able to cast himself as an avatar of the progressive left, snagging a coveted endorsement from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. 

The Kennedy winning streak has been broken. Recent polls showed Markey entering Tuesday with a solid lead, having surpassed the 39-year-old Kennedy, who many considered the favorite when he jumped into the race. Record turnout was expected, and nearly 800,000 voters had already cast their ballot by mail ahead of Tuesday. Kennedy, a grandson of Robert, was hoping his name would draw some low-propensity voters to the polls on election day. The swell did not materialize.

Many successful progressive challengers in recent years (Ilhan Omar in Minnesota, Ocasio-Cortez in New York) have relied, somewhat ironically, on support from young, educated voters that recently moved into their districts—the “gentrifiers” so often targeted by these very same politicians. In the Kennedy-Markey race, the coalitions flipped: Markey leveraged his co-authoring of the Green New Deal into endorsements not only from AOC, but the climate-activist Sunrise Movement and the Bernie Sanders-alum Justice Democrats group as well. Kennedy, for his part, found support primarily in minority communities and with older, working-class whites who have traditionally supported the family. 

The peculiar voting blocs led to an odd primary dynamic, with Markey casting himself as a progressive anti-establishmentarian and (implicitly) calling out Kennedy’s blue blood by referring to himself as a “Markey from Maldon.” The 74-year-old also became a bit of a meme, with his digital operations team successfully turning his penchant for chunky white sneakers into a lovable quasi-hipsterdom. Speaker Pelosi’s endorsement of Kennedy a few weeks ago—brought about by Markey’s daring to criticize the Kennedy dynasty—may have helped Markey more than it did its recipient.

Kennedy repeatedly and unsuccessfully tried to outflank Markey on the left, pointing to the incumbent’s votes for the 1994 crime bill and the Iraq war. He also began to lean into his last name even harder in recent weeks. “He reminds me of Bobby and Jack and Teddy,” his grandmother Ethel said in a video cut for social media. “He’s so very special.”

Dispatch readers may question whether being reminiscent of that trio is a political attribute in today’s anti-establishment (and #MeToo) climate. Somewhat surprisingly, many Massachusetts voters seemed to share that sentiment. The Kennedys have finally, unexpectedly, met their match.

Worth Your Time

  • It’s no big secret that social justice activism and progressivism have dominated academia for decades. But John McWhorter, a professor at Columbia University, thinks things are getting exponentially worse. “Academics are really, really worried about their freedom,” he writes in The Atlantic this week. He recounts messages he’s received from hundreds of fellow academics concerned about changing norms on campuses across the country. “Very few of the people who wrote to me are of conservative political orientation,” McWhorter says. “Rather, a main thread in the missives is people left-of-center wondering why, suddenly, to be anything but radical is to be treated as a retrograde heretic.”

  • The term “colorblindness”—once perceived as the pinnacle of social justice parlance—has now been cast aside by some figures on the left as yet another iteration of racism. Activists and scholars have thrown out “colorblindness” in favor of “race consciousness,” which refers to the practice of treating members of different races differently based on the power structures that underlie every facet of our society. But human beings are tribal creatures, Matt Lutz argues in a piece for Persuasion, meaning this approach to remedying race relations may do more harm than good. “If people become extremely sensitive to racial differences, most of them will not become crusaders for racial justice,” he writes. “Many will instead advocate for the interests of their own racial group.”

  • Check out this Intelligencer article for a freewheeling conversation about the merits of populism between columnist Park MacDougald and Thomas Frank, a self-described populist and founding editor of The Baffler magazine. The two take a deeper look into the roots and evolution of the populist movement, reaching the conclusion that the Democratic party has abandoned the working class in favor of economic elites and college students. “The left seems more interested in replicating Twitter in people’s individual lives than it is in movement building, far more interested in this constant struggle for individual righteousness,” Frank asserts. “There is no solidarity in a meritocracy—it’s about you as an individual being better than every other individual.”

Presented Without Comment

Also Presented Without Comment

Toeing the Company Line

  • On the latest episode of Advisory Opinions, David and Sarah are joined by The Babylon Bee’s editor-in-chief, Kyle Mann, who discusses the challenges of writing satire in a cultural moment when it’s not always easy to determine fact from fiction. “There is an element where it’s not that our articles are too close to reality, it’s that reality is too close to satire,” Mann explains. Tuesday’s episode would be incomplete without its requisite dose of legal nerdery. Tune in to hear David and Sarah discuss the never-ending saga with Michael Flynn, the McGahn case, and Sarah Palin’s defamation case against the New York Times.

Let Us Know

We recommended an excellent piece from Kit Wilson in Arc Digital yesterday about our various culture wars and how political polarization tends to pigeonhole Americans into unwelcome boxes. “There is no rule woven into the universe that states that some specific opinion somebody holds must inevitably be linked with some other specific opinion,” Wilson writes. “I, like every other human on the planet, am the strange, scrambled sum of my many contradictions. As Michel de Montaigne once wrote: ‘there is as much difference between us and ourselves as between us and others.’”

Our question for you today: What might an outsider view as some of your internal contradictions?

Reporting by Declan Garvey (@declanpgarvey), Andrew Egger (@EggerDC), Charlotte Lawson (@charlotteUVA), Audrey Fahlberg (@FahlOutBerg), James P. Sutton (@jamespsuttonsf), and Steve Hayes (@stephenfhayes).

Photograph by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images/MoveOn.