The ominous rise of vigilantism

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Greg Dworkin for Daily Kos

Tucker Carlson condones Kyle Howard Rittenhouse's vigilante killing of two protesters
It’s been years in the making.

Thomas Zimmer/”Democracy Americana” on Substack:

Vigilante Violence Is Part of the Right’s Plan

The open embrace of violence plays a key role in the broader reactionary mobilization against democracy

Public reactions – not just from the rightwing extremist fringes on social media, but from “respectable” conservatives as well as quite a few self-proclaimed centrists and moderates – have been incredibly discouraging and infuriating. In his “Unpopular Front” newsletter, John Ganz really captured what I find so disturbing:

“What people are essentially saying is ‘this man’s life was worthless’ and, as a result of his criminal record, ‘he had it coming.’ … Neely’s death has been described as a lynching. This is an extremely grave thing to charge. But what seems completely unquestionable to me is that the people who have shown cruel indifference or contempt or glee about the killing of Jordan Neely are the spiritual equivalent of a lynch mob even if his death was accidental or a crime of passion rather than premeditation. They are part of a lynch mob after the fact. They have decided—on reflection, out of personal danger, and with malice aforethought, as they say of murderthat Neely’s life was worthless. Any many apparently feel total comfort howling like a lynch mob in public.”

Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman/The Washington Post:

DeSantis’s celebration of vigilantism is a new low in MAGA extremism

“Law and order” and “tough on crime” rhetoric from Republicans goes back more than half a century and has a long history of shading into support for vigilantism in popular culture. (Think of Charles Bronson in “Death Wish.”) But in the Trump era, it seems that wide swaths of one of our major parties have taken to blatantly celebrating extralegal violence.

“The idea that individual citizens should do this — that’s a different place to go,” said Sam Tanenhaus, who recently completed a biography of William F. Buckley, the conservative commentator who played a key role in tough-on-crime politics with his ill-fated 1965 campaign for New York mayor.

DeSantis didn’t merely valorize Penny as a good Samaritan. DeSantis is also raising money for Penny’s defense, arguing that his prosecutors are pro-criminal …

Jamelle Bouie/The New York Times:

The Republican Embrace of Vigilantism Is No Accident

Among the most troubling aspects of the [2020 Kyle Rittenhouse] shooting was the almost jubilant reaction of conservative media to the news that someone had taken the law into his own hands and meted out lethal force. Tucker Carlson praised Rittenhouse as someone who decided “to maintain order when no one else would.” Ann Coulter said she wanted Rittenhouse “as my president.” Marjorie Taylor Greene, then a candidate, called him an “innocent child,” and Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky praised Rittenhouse for his “incredible restraint.”

Rittenhouse would go on, after his acquittal, to become a minor conservative celebrity. He met with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago, got a standing ovation at a Turning Point USA conference and earned the praise of the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, who said, “Kyle Rittenhouse did what we should want citizens to do in such a situation: step forward to defend the community against mob violence.”

At the time — noting, as well, the celebration of Mark and Patricia McCloskey, two would-be vigilantes, at the 2020 Republican National Convention — I wrote that this was an ominous development for what it revealed about the conservative mood. There seemed to be a bloodlust, defined by an almost reflexive embrace of anyone who used lethal violence against a perceived antagonist.

That bloodlust appears to be getting worse.

It’s interesting watching media change its “overrun borders” narrative, especially in terms of how long it takes (cable and print). After building it for a few weeks, takes almost as long to walk it back but of course, blame Joe Biden for that, too.

Seen here in The New York Times:

After Biden Predicted Chaos at the Border, a Quieter Than Expected Weekend

The days after pandemic-era immigration restrictions were lifted showed the ability of federal authorities, local governments and private nonprofits to temporarily triage the situation at the border.

The administration sent 1,500 troops to the border to help free up more Border Patrol agents. Cities declared emergencies and opened extra shelters for migrants needing a place to sleep. Churches and other nonprofit groups received grant money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to bolster their relief efforts. Border officials built temporary holding facilities.

The administration also imposed tough new restrictions on who qualifies for asylum, a policy that has drawn fierce attacks and legal challenges from human rights groups. And officials increased the opportunities for migrants to enter the country legally, using a mobile phone app to schedule interviews with an asylum officer.

What followed was a quieter than expected weekend in Texas, Arizona, California and nearby Mexican cities.

LOL nothing matters (except for the stuff that matters):

David Rothkopf/The Daily Beast:

Biden Must Go to the G7 Meeting in Japan as the Threat of U.S. Debt Default Looms

Other presidents have skipped the trip when during similar crises. But this time is different.

The last-minute talks to stave off U.S. debt default are a reason that President Joe Biden should stick with his plans to attend the G7 in Japan rather than to cancel them.

Naturally, the president’s own optimism and other signs that progress is being made make sticking with his travel plans even more sensible. But, there is precedent for canceling such a trip, as both President Barack Obama and President Bill Clinton did in the past to deal with debt battles at home. This—along with last week’s contentious meeting between the president, Kevin McCarthy, and other congressional leaders on the current stand-off—have raised questions about whether Biden would indeed make the trip.


Global observers were unsettled further last week when the Republican Party’s de facto leader, former President Donald Trump, said during his infamous CNN pep rally that the GOP should proceed with default if they don’t achieve the “massive cuts” they seek through the current negotiations with the White House. Recklessly, he said that the consequences of such a breach might last only a day or a week, shrugging the whole problem off as “psychological.”

Trump’s irresponsible remarks only make it more important that Biden go, especially given the fact that compounding market jitters about the debt, the world is watching the U.S. warily wondering if the 2024 elections will produce a swing back to the madness of the Trump era.

Shelby Talcott/Semafor:

Sometimes Back Down: Key DeSantis allies viewed anti-Trump tweet as a “massive mistake”

The leading pro-DeSantis PAC surprised the political world with a single tweet after Donald Trump’s CNN town hall last week. It bluntly called out the former president for his answers on January 6th, his “rigged” election claims, “the sex abuse case” he was found liable for damages over, “his defense of his comments about grabbing women by their genitals,” and investigations into “his stash of taxpayer-owned classified documents.”

“How does this Make America Great Again?” the tweet from the official account of Never Back Down concluded.

This was the kind of all-out critique of Trump that Ron DeSantis — and most of the 2024 field — have never made themselves.

Don’t expect to hear it again, though: The tweet generated some heated internal pushback at Never Back Down, while multiple prominent conservative commentators piled on publicly.

One DeSantis ally familiar with their thinking told Semafor that the group’s leadership “100%” recognized it as an error. A second source familiar with the situation added that they were told the tweet was sent without the approval of the PAC’s senior communications team.

Cliff Schecter talks Ted Cruz and the Southern border on Stephanie Miller:

Ryan Burge/POLITICO Magazine:

The Religious Landscape is Undergoing Massive Change. It Could Decide the 2024 Election.

The new decennial Religion Census offers cause for hope — and alarm — for both parties.

The 2020 U.S. Religion Census, which was released late last year, reveals that religion is taking a beating across the middle part of the country. When comparing the rate of religious adherents in 2020 versus 2010, a fascinating pattern emerges, illuminating the political relevance of the shifting religious landscape: Democrats are making gains in areas where religion is fading (the census defines non-religious as the percentage of a county’s population that does not show up on the rolls of any religious organization in that county) and Republicans are increasing their vote share in places where houses of worship are gaining new members.

When people think about where religion is declining, it’s likely they point to regions like the Pacific Northwest or New England. But the drops in adherents in those parts of the country are fairly modest compared to other regions of the United States.

Across the industrial Midwest, in former Rust Belt states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania that are absolutely essential to the Democrats’ firewall in 2024, there is good news for the party — each of those states is much less religious today than it was just 10 years ago.

The entire, very interesting thread by Ryan Burge can be found by clicking the tweet above, or on Threadreader.

Eric Levitz/New York Magazine:


New Study Finds a High Minimum Wage Creates Jobs

A 2010 op-ed from Michael Saltsman of the Employment Policy Institute provides a characteristic rendition of the argument. Saltsman warned that if state legislatures raised the minimum wage for fast food workers, “The BurgerTron 3000” would soon take their jobs …

In “High Minimum Wages and the Monopsony Puzzle,” a team of economists at the University of California, Berkeley examined 47 large U.S. counties where the minimum wage had reached $15 an hour by the first quarter of 2021, and compared their wage levels and employment figures to those of similar counties that hadn’t raised the minimum wage since 2009. They focused specifically on fast-food workers, so as to avoid the complexities introduced by the tipped-wages common among servers at more upscale restaurants.

Their results will shock Saltsman and his ideological sympathizers. First, raising the minimum wage successfully increased hourly pay for workers in the bottom 10 percent of the income distribution without reducing wages for those in the middle. Had New York and California failed to pass minimum wage increases, this narrowing of the gap between the bottom and middle rungs of the income ladder would not have occurred. Second, the implications for employment were very slightly positive: Counties that enacted minimum wages saw more job growth, not less.

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