The Morning Jolt

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Trump’s Racially Charged Attacks on Elijah Cummings

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.) on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., June 12, 2019. (Yuri Gripas/Reuters)

Making the click-through worthwhile: President Trump attacks Elijah Cummings and the city of Baltimore in the only way he knows how; an attack at a garlic festival should make us wonder whether we define “terrorism” too narrowly; and former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel starts to lose his patience with the wild promises of the Democratic field.

Trump Knows One Way to Go After Elijah Cummings

This is how we’re going to spend our weekends for the foreseeable future, huh, America? President Trump attacks some liberal member of Congress in racially charged terms, and we spend the next few days arguing about whether it was racist or not?

Trump’s tweets this weekend declared…

Rep, Elijah Cummings has been a brutal bully, shouting and screaming at the great men & women of Border Patrol about conditions at the Southern Border, when actually his Baltimore district is FAR WORSE and more dangerous. His district is considered the Worst in the USA. . .

. . . .As proven last week during a Congressional tour, the Border is clean, efficient & well run, just very crowded. Cumming District is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess. If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place

Why is so much money sent to the Elijah Cummings district when it is considered the worst run and most dangerous anywhere in the United States. No human being would want to live there. Where is all this money going? How much is stolen? Investigate this corrupt mess immediately!

So sad that Elijah Cummings has been able to do so little for the people of Baltimore. Statistically, Baltimore ranks last in almost every major category. Cummings has done nothing but milk Baltimore dry, but the public is getting wise to the bad job that he is doing!

Someone please explain to Nancy Pelosi, who was recently called racist by those in her own party, that there is nothing wrong with bringing out the very obvious fact that Congressman Elijah Cummings has done a very poor job for his district and the City of Baltimore. Just take. . .

. . .a look, the facts speak far louder than words! The Democrats always play the Race Card, when in fact they have done so little for our Nation’s great African American people. Now, lowest unemployment in U.S. history, and only getting better. Elijah Cummings has failed badly!

Maryland’s seventh district includes part of Baltimore and most of suburban Howard County. If the president believes that Cummings’s district consists entirely or even mostly of the portrait of urban despair portrayed on the television series The Wire, he’s mistaken.

Cummings’s district is the second-wealthiest majority-black district in the country, with a $58,000 median household income, 37 percent of the residents have a bachelor’s degree or higher. That puts it at about the middle of the pack nationally. The highest employers in the district are Johns Hopkins University, the Johns Hopkins Hospital & Health System, and the University of Maryland System. Almost 87 percent of residents were born in the United States. Roughly 66,000 identified their ancestry as “German” in the last census.

The urban portion of Cummings’s district includes the parts of Baltimore that the tourists still visit. The district line stops just short of Camden Yards baseball stadium and includes most of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor — including the National Aquarium, USS Constellation, the Baltimore World Trade Center, and the Baltimore Basilica.

Few Congressional districts represent just one kind of community, and a look at Maryland’s seventh district reveals quite a bit that contradicts Trump’s description. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the district includes 604 farms. It includes Ellicott City, with a historic downtown, small towns like Catonsville, and Prettyboy Reservoir Park, which is open for archery hunting for all game species during the regulated hunting season.

Maryland’s seventh district includes some terrible, impoverished, crime-ridden neighborhoods. It also includes wonderful places to live. Trump did not leave any room for nuance because he doesn’t care: “Cumming [sic] District is a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.”

The default defense of Trump in these circumstances is that no matter how wrong the specific details of the president’s accusation, the general gist of his comments is correct, that Baltimore has serious problems. Indeed it does, although it’s far from clear that Cummings is the cause or even a major factor in the city’s problems. The notion that Cummings “has done nothing but milk Baltimore dry” probably ought to be considered in the context of Cummings’s account of the Baltimore riots in 2015:

The Sun: What was the most intense moment that you can recall? Did you ever feel like you needed to protect authorities from rock-throwers?

EC: There was a car on fire. And the police were trying to get up about five blocks to protect the firefighters. They came to me and said, “We need cover.” The smoke was up in the air. You could see it. We began to march for blocks. We knelt down. And this was one of the most surreal events of my whole life. With 200 police behind us, smoke everywhere, we look up in the air, and we see this man dancing like Michael Jackson to “They don’t care about us.” It was surreal. I felt like I was in a movie.

Imagine for a moment that Maryland’s seventh district did not have Elijah Cummings as its congressman. Imagine your favorite congressman represented it instead — perhaps your favorite is Dan Crenshaw, or Devin Nunes, or Mark Meadows. How different would West Baltimore’s neighborhoods be if your ideal congressman was in place? Dramatically different? A little different? Not at all different? If your ideal congressman stepped in to replace Cummings tomorrow, how long would it take before you would see a change in West Baltimore?

Cummings may be insulted by the fact that he’s responsible for the problems of the seventh district — or he might be even more insulted by the argument that he, or any other congressman, is largely irrelevant to the problems of the seventh district.

Cummings has real flaws. He’s had serious personal financial problems in the past — having more than $30,000 in unpaid federal taxes in the mid-1990s, having a campaign donor co-sign a loan, court fights to pay overdue bills. (No doubt Trump is familiar with that.) He fathered two children out of wedlock, and paid child support and for his children’s education. He’s been let off the hook for driving a car without insurance. His wife’s charity received generous contributions from donors who have business before Cummings’s committee. He accepted donations from a businessman convicted of tax evasion, then donated the equivalent to charity. His wife called Maryland governor Larry Hogan “a dog whistle white nationalist.” He was one of 75 House Democrats who voted to keep funding ACORN after the infamous videos from James O’Keefe.

All of this information about him was a Google search away, and provided fodder for plenty of specific, credible criticism of Cummings. But Trump chose to go with the “your district is a rat-infested mess” line of attack.

The unemployment rate in Baltimore city is currently 5.5 percent — higher than the national average, but pretty good by historical patterns. Baltimore’s unemployment rate was 7 percent when President Trump took office, after peaking almost 11 percent in July 2010. If Baltimore’s unemployment rate is going down, how do we sort out what improvement should be credited to Trump, what improvement should be credited to Cummings, and what improvement should be credited to neither?

We know how most partisans will answer that question: All credit should go to the guy they like, and no credit should go to the guy they don’t like.

Whatever the Particular Motive, We’re Under Attack by the Malevolently Violent

What differentiates the shooting attack at Gilroy Garlic Festival from a terrorist attack?

A gunman with an assault-type rifle opened fire at the Gilroy Garlic Festival on Sunday evening, killing three and wounding 12 others, some critically, before being killed by police, Gilroy police said. A 6-year-old boy was among the dead.

Witnesses reported a second suspect, and a search continued late Sunday night for that person, police said.

Police Chief Scot Smithee said the gunman and a companion accessed the festival through a creek and cut through a perimeter fence to avoid metal detectors. Gilroy police did not know what motivated the shooter or how the second suspect may have been involved.

One witness described the shooter as wearing a “protective vest.” This is quite a bit of planning and malice aforethought. Whether or not the shooter is officially declared a terrorist, there is little doubt that he intended to terrorize people.

Rahm Emanuel: Hey, We Have to Crawl before We Can Walk, Fellas

It sounds like Rahm Emanuel is starting to lose his patience with pie-in-the-sky promises of the Democratic presidential contenders:

Before our party promises health care coverage to undocumented immigrants — a position not even Ted Kennedy took — let’s help the more than 30 million Americans who are a single illness away from financial ruin. Before we start worrying about whether the Boston Marathon bomber can vote, let’s stop states that are actively trying to curtail voting rights of citizens. And before we promise a guaranteed minimum income to healthy adults who prefer to stay home and play video games, let’s increase the minimum wage and the Earned Income Tax Credit to make work pay for the millions of people who work hard and still live near poverty.

Republicans will hope none of the Democratic candidates listen to him.

ADDENDA: Representative Joe Cunningham, a Democrat representing the GOP-leaning first congressional district in South Carolina, announces on Twitter that he’s unfollowing Donald Trump. That will teach him!

In case you missed it Friday afternoon, the House impeaching Trump would probably cost the Democrats control of the chamber, as it would require at least 13 House Democrats from districts Trump won to vote to impeach. Republicans need to flip 19, presuming they don’t louse up upcoming special elections in GOP-leaning North Carolina districts. Note that under this scenario, impeachment would pass by a 218 to 217 vote.

Between Two Scorpions is up to 115 reviews on Amazon — with 76 percent being five-star reviews and another 22 percent scoring it four out of five stars! Over on the Facebook page, I listed a few more of the “Easter Eggs” — in-jokes, references, inspirations, shout-outs, etc.

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