Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards reminds us what heroism looks like

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, who was the first law enforcement officer injured by rioters storming the Capitol grounds on January 6, testifies during a hearing by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol on June 09, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Long after Trump takes his place among history’s reviled strongmen, Caroline Edwards’ courage will be celebrated and remembered

Every Republican who’s ever denied, or tried to minimize, the hideously destructive reality of the violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, should be required to sit and listen to the testimony of Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards.

And if it takes strapping them into a chair, and propping their eyelids open, “A Clockwork Orange” style, then so be it.

In riveting testimony last Thursday night, in a tone that never rose beyond calm professionalism, Edwards told the U.S. House Select Committee, and a nationwide television audience, that the violence was “something like I had seen out of the movies.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes, Edwards, 31, said, according to the Washington Post. “There were officers on the ground. They were bleeding. They were throwing up … I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people’s blood.”

Slipping in people’s blood. Let that sink in for a minute. That’s not hyperbole. That’s the horrifying reality that Edwards and other law enforcement officers who were defending the seat of American democracy faced on that tragic day; a day that cost some of her colleagues their lives.

The same Republicans who solemnly lectured the rest of us that Blue Lives mattered during our summer of civil rights unrest in 2020, should be required to answer, specifically, why these same blue lives do not matter now. They should be required to explain, in the well of the U.S. House and Senate, how they justified dismissing the marauding band behind the attempted coup on Jan. 6 2021, as “tourists.”

Because there is no explanation that justifies what happened that day. Read more

Pennsylvania Senate nominee’s lesson for Dems: A clear brand and coherent message wins every time

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman [Pennsylvania Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller]

You’d be hard-pressed to find a Pennsylvania Democrat who didn’t think that Lt. Gov. John Fetterman wasn’t going to come out at the right end of Tuesday’s nationally watched primary for U.S. Senate.

And even if he did lead in the polls heading into election night, the comprehensiveness of Fetterman’s win — he carried all 67 counties, and beat second-place U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb by a little more than 32 percentage points — was no less eyebrow-raising.

There’s been no shortage of speculation in the days since Fetterman’s win on whether the Allegheny pol represents the future of the Democratic Party.

Unsurprisingly, a decent part of the analysis has focused on Fetterman’s personal style, which, as I’ve previously written, has devolved into a kind of intellectual shorthand: He’s tall, wears shorts no matter the weather, just like your stubborn 8-year-old, has a bunch of tattoos, is gruff, and isn’t your garden-variety politician.

All of that is true.

His look is certainly unconventional. And, as The Atlantic’s David A. Graham noted on Wednesday morning, he has a distinct vibe and a connection with voters that has served him admirably during a campaign where control of the U.S. Senate, and with it, whatever’s left of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda, is absolutely on the line.

But, as unorthodox as Fetterman appears on surface, if you roll up the sleeves on one of his Carhartt work-shirts, and look beneath the tattoos, you also get a deeply conventional Democratic politician, with an old-fashioned work ethic, whose rise has as much to do with the stewardship of his brand as it does the message he’s selling. Read more

The GOP’s anti-abortion crusade is not pro-family at all

Commentator John L. Micek says anti-abortion activists demonstrate blatant hypocrisy with their opposition to policies that help support the well-being of families.

In the hours after the bombshell leak of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s draft opinion toppling Roe v. Wade, I awaited the torrent of Republican-authored press releases vowing to provide every resource the federal government could muster to support the millions of new families they were going to usher into existence.

Of course, that didn’t happen.

Instead, I was treated to irony-free press releases from anti-abortion rights forces taking a victory lap now that their decades-long goal of stripping bodily autonomy from half the nation’s population was finally within reach.

“In Congress, I have always fought for the dignity of human life. Nothing is more important than life,” U.S. Rep. Fred Keller, R-PA., said in a statement his office sent out on Tuesday afternoon. “After nearly 50 years since Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided, I am thrilled that we are closer than ever to delivering historic pro-life protections for the unborn.”

After birth, however? That’s a different story. The press release page of Keller’s congressional website is long on criticisms of the Biden administration, but markedly short of plans that support pregnant people or provide resources to families after their children are born.

And it would be one thing if Keller if was an outlier, but he’s not.

One of the fatal flaws of the GOP’s anti-abortion arguments always has been its profound indifference to the fate of the fetuses that they’re so intent on forcing pregnant people to carry to term.

It’s always been about one thing: Control. Read more

Poll of battleground states like NC: Dems can win on immigration if the message is right

Mexico–United States barrier at the border of Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego, USA. The crosses represent migrants who died in the crossing attempt. Some identified, some not.  (WikiMedia Commons Image by Tomascastelazo.)

A new poll of key 2022 battleground states offers Democrats a road map to victory among coveted Latino voters when it comes to immigration issues — if they’re willing to follow it.

The bottom line? When they talk about immigration, try sounding less Republican.

But to do that, Democrats are going to have to get past a couple of major messaging hurdles, the poll, commissioned by the advocacy group Immigration Hub, found.

Just three in 10 respondents told pollsters they know “very well” where President Joe Biden stands on immigration border issues, with a 6-point decline (from 75 percent to 69 percent) who say they “know well” where the Democratic White House stands on such issues.

In the meantime, more than two-thirds of voters (68 percent) in the battleground states of Arizona, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin told pollsters they’re hearing negative messages about how Biden is handling immigration matters. Of that cohort, 42 percent said they were hearing “mostly negative” messages about Biden, while 26 percent said they were hearing a mix of positive and negative messages, according to the poll.

Just 17 percent told pollsters that they’re hearing “mostly positive” things about Biden’s job performance on immigration matters.

The Democratic White House has faced steady criticism over its handling of immigration matters, with some analysts saying his swift reversals on Trump-era policies (despite his promises to slow walk such changes) prompted a crisis at the nation’s southern border. Republicans have seized on it as one example of the White House’s policy failures.

Last Thursday, the White House had to issue a hasty clarification after Biden apparently conflated Title 42, a pandemic-related expulsion policy that’s effectively paralyzed the nation’s asylum system and a mask mandate for public transportation that was struck down this week by a federal judge, Reuters and other news outlets reported.

Thursday’s Immigration Hub poll stresses the need for coordinated communication as both the White House and Democrats look to hold their majorities on Capitol Hill.

“The key to winning the immigration debate for Democrats is not silence – it’s talking to voters about the progress they’ve made for immigrant communities and at the border after the previous administration wrecked our immigration system,” Beatriz Lopez, Immigration Hub’s chief political and communications officer, said in a statement.

Biden and Democrats “have a prime opportunity right now to show how their policy prescriptions are meeting the moment and voters’ vision for a better immigration system,” Lopez continued.

“Importantly, they must continue to deliver on key commitments such as protections for our nation’s undocumented immigrants which is good policy and good politics,” Lopez concluded/ This is the moment for Democrats to get out with their message and plans, not repeat divisive, counterintuitive Republican talking points.”

The poll maps out those policy prescriptions with:

  • 66 percent of voters giving a positive rating to “prioritizing keeping families together in all aspects of our approach to immigration,” including 60 percent of swing voters.
  • 66 percent of voters giving a positive rating to “creating a new, fair, and orderly process for those seeking asylum,” including 58 percent of swing voters.
  • 81 percent of voters giving a positive rating to “cracking down on illegal actions of cartels that cross our border and bring drugs like fentanyl into the United States,” including 74 percent of swing voters, and
  • 74 percent of voters giving a positive rating to “improving infrastructure at the border to modernize the way the border is managed,” including 70% of swing voters, pollsters found.

Matt Barreto, BSP Research President and Co-Founder who conducted the poll, also added, “While Latino voters are thinking about the economy, it is wrong to assume immigration issues are not important.”

“About one in every five Latino voters say immigration is the issue that will motivate their vote, and this group of voters could be the deciding factor in close elections,” Barreto continued. “Latino voters strongly support the steps taken by Democrats in Congress and blame Republicans for obstructing and blocking real progress on the immigration issue.”

The poll of 1,200 battleground state voters was conducted between March 3 and March 16, with a 500 voter oversample of of Latino voters in those states.

John L. Micek is the editor-in-chief of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, which first published this essay.

What are book bans really about? Fear

A display of banned books at the San Jose Public Library (Photo courtesy of San Jose Public Library via Flickr | CC-BY-SA 2.0/The Daily Montanan).

More years ago than I really care to count, the children’s librarian in my little town in rural northwestern Connecticut, apparently tired of my endlessly renewing the same book over and over again, pressed a copy of “The White Mountains” by John Christopher into my eight-year-old hands.

Mrs. Bullock was her name. She was the mother of one of my schoolmates. She’d taken note of my reading habits, such as they were were, and decided to take matters into her own hands. If I liked the book I’d been endlessly renewing, she argued, I’d love this one.

She was right. I read every volume in Christopher’s pulpy series, which followed the adventures of young people rebelling against alien overlords’ bent on keeping a servile population under their collective thumb with futuristic tech that suppressed their individuality and free will.

It was the start of my lifelong love of books and libraries. And viewed through the prism of 40-odd years, it was an oddly prescient choice.

Students and their teachers in schools across the country — and now public libraries — are waging a brave fight against the king of organized book- banning campaigns that once only seemed the province of the worst kind of totalitarian governments — or dystopian YA science fiction.

As NC Policy Watch Washington Reporter Ariana Figueroa made astonishingly clear in a story published on Monday, hundreds of books, across dozens of states, are being banned at alarming rates.

A majority of the bans have targeted books written by authors who are people of color, LGBTQ+, Black and indigenous. The books feature characters, and deal with themes, that reflect the experiences of marginalized communities, Figueroa reported.

And while those behind these campaigns hide themselves behind the mask of ‘parental control,’ what I think they’re really concealing is fear: Fear of a country and world that’s changing around them; fear of voices that were kept silent too long who are now speaking up and demanding their seat at the table of power, and, mostly, fear of the erosion of their own privilege.

Because books are more than printed matter. They’re conduits to an endless universe of knowledge. And they are the greatest democratizer we’ve ever invented.

Take one down off the shelf, read it, and finish it, and it will nudge you to another, and another. Before long, you’re navigating the twists and turns of human experience, letting your own curiosity be your guide, allowing it to bring you to places you’ve never been, and to introduce you to people, places, and cultures you might never have met or experienced on your own.

And that’s why, when they’ve sought to erase people and cultures, every authoritarian from the beginning of time until now has destroyed their books and burned their libraries. Read more