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On the roster: Terribly shallow - I’ll Tell You What: Now what? - Trump faces widespread dissent from military leaders - Amid re-election woes, Trump calls campaign to carpet - Florida dermatologist

Nothing, save for perhaps the designated hitter rule or vegan bacon, is all bad. And nothing, except maybe Aretha Franklin’s “Precious Lord” or a very cold Orange Crush in a glass bottle, is all good.

Relatedly, no great success or failure is all due to one thing. But oh how we are drawn to the idea of direct causes and effects in history, sociology and current events.

To wit:

A piling on by the Entente Powers and Woodrow Wilson after WWI ----> the crippled Weimar Republic in Germany ----> National Socialism, world war and genocide.


The invention of the cotton gin ----> the economic revitalization of slavery ----> the push by slave states for expansion ----> Bleeding Kansas ----> the Civil War.

That’s not to say that those things aren’t true. But it is to say that they are not complete. And in both history and current events we all tend to emphasize causes or characteristics that reinforce our worldviews.

If you believe that the French Revolution and what followed was a disaster for Europe, blaming Revanchism for Adolf Hitler is a nice fit. If you believe capitalism is to blame for America’s woes, pinning revitalized slavery on Eli Whitney sews things up quite neatly. 

Again, those explanations are not untrue, but they are incomplete. And we must always force ourselves to consider how our own biases interfere with our assessments of causes and effects. Failing to do so prevents us from understanding how we got here and what to do next. If you don’t know why the lights come on, you may not want to start rewiring your house.

Witness how the current administration’s misunderstanding of the events and election of 1968 led to decisions and statements that have worsened the incumbent’s political fortunes rather than improved them. Richard Nixon was calling, yes, for law and order but he was also the former vice president calling for calm and a return to a less chaotic time in the previous administration. The embattled incumbent and his party were the ones dispatching the armed forces to American cities.

The events of the past week have caused us to face a serious question of causation: Why do we continue to see cases of deadly police brutality against African Americans, like the one that claimed the life of George Floyd?

Now, if you’re an all-one-thing kind of person, you will have a quick answer, maybe even accompanied by a scoff.

You may say that it’s because of institutional racism inherent in American policing. Today’s police forces, in this view, are the armed enforcers of a deeper racism that has shaped everything about our nation since before its founding. White fears of black insurrection cause police to treat black suspects differently as a rule.

Or you may say that it’s because black men commit so many crimes that police are bound to have a disproportionately high number of interactions with them compared to the rest of the population. That would also make the probability higher that black offenders would encounter the limited number of corrupt or racist officers much higher.

And you could, with eyes rolled, stop thinking about it.

You could say: Police are the shock troops of a racist system intent on denying black Americans full citizenship ----> Killing back suspects is part of their work and will only be ended when policing as we know it is ended.

Or you could say: The population of black males in America comprises a large number of violent offenders ----> Isolated abuses in confronting lawlessness are unfortunate but unavoidable.

And many Americans are letting themselves off easy in these ways. They can believe a part answer and then signal their total support for an incomplete or misleading explanation and close their ears to anything that undercuts it.

But that won’t change the facts.

Violent, murderous racism is real. And so is the subtler kind that can pervade organizations, even when participants aren’t cognizant.

But it is also real that police kill black suspects at a rate lower than white suspects. A 2019 study published by the National Academy of Sciences found “no evidence of anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparities across shootings.”

There are more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies of all sizes across the country. Some are corrupt, and some are havens for racist attitudes. In many places, police unions and machine politics protect bad cops.

There are about 15 million adult African American males – something like 7 percent of the adult population. It is a group responsible for a widely disproportionate percentage of violent crimes and lags other groups on positive indicators like employment and educational attainment.

You can look at the facts and ask interesting, useful questions about why things are this way. You can challenge your own assumptions about white racism or criminal behavior. You can think deeply about how your own assumptions might distort your ideas about cause and effect.

Or you can just throw something up on Instagram to show your solidarity with one ill-defined side or another and call it a day.

“It is evident that no other form [of government] would be reconcilable with the genius of the people of America; with the fundamental principles of the Revolution; or with that honorable determination which animates every votary of freedom, to rest all our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.” – James MadisonFederalist No. 39

Garden & Gun: “Call it providence, luck, or low sulfur levels—the sweetness of Vidalia onions is a godsend. In 1931, so the story goes, when the farmer Moses Coleman planted yellow onions on his Toombs County acreage, the sandy South Georgia soil turned the bulbs sweet. Today, Vidalias, which are harvested each year beginning in April and hit their peak in late May and June, are so beloved that the state has gone to great lengths to keep them rare; the Vidalia Onion Act of 1986 regulates the allium and its growers and sellers. ‘To be a Vidalia, it has to be grown in the designated growing region in Georgia—and in Georgia alone,’ says Gary Black, the state’s commissioner of agriculture. Registered growers harvest their crop from twenty contiguous counties around Vidalia, a little town up the road from Moses Coleman’s farm. ‘There’s also rules and regulations on how a packinghouse is set up. The onions can’t mingle with other varieties during Vidalia season,’ Black says.”

Flag on the play? - Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

(270 electoral votes needed to win)
Toss-up: (103 electoral votes): Wisconsin (10), Ohio (18), Florida (29), Arizona (11), Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15)
Lean R/Likely R: (186 electoral votes) 
Lean D/Likely D: (249 electoral votes)
[Full rankings here.]

Average approval: 42.4 percent
Average disapproval: 54.4 percent
Net Score: -12 points
Change from one week ago: ↓ 3.6 points
[Average includes: CBS News: 40 % approve - 54% disapprove; Monmouth University: 43% approve - 54% disapprove; ABC News/WaPo: 45% approve - 53% disapprove; American Research Group: 40% approve - 57% disapprove; Fox News: 44% approve - 54% disapprove.]

You can join Chris and Brianna every day on Fox Nation. It’ll be the same behind-the-scenes look at your favorite political note, only from their remote locations during this unprecedented time. Click here to sign up and watch!

This week, Dana Perino and Chris Stirewalt discuss the events of the last week, how they are connected to the election year ​and how Americans might begin to respond civically. They also discuss the comparison of the 2020 elections to those of 1968, the location of the Republican National Convention, and new presidential polling numbers. Plus, Chris answers 1968 election trivia. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE

Foreign Policy: “As protests across the United States enter their tenth day, senior U.S. military personnel have been lining up to voice their opposition to a Trump administration that has signaled its eagerness to unleash military force to put down the demonstrations. … Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the most senior military advisor to Trump, issued a rare memo to the country’s armed services reminding them of their duties as well as the rights of their fellow citizens to free assembly. … Writing in Foreign Policy, John Allen, a retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star general and current president of the Brookings Institution also criticized calls for militarization. … He has been joined by Trump’s previous Secretary of Defense James Mattis who issued a statement denouncing the president. ‘Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that ‘The Nazi slogan for destroying us … was ‘Divide and Conquer.’ Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.’ We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.’ … [Current] U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has also moved to put space between himself and the president following Trump’s hinting at invoking the Insurrection Act as well as Monday’s controversial church photo op.”

Murkowski backs Mattis, may not vote Trump - NYT: “Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, said on Thursday that she endorsed scathing criticism of President Trump’s leadership by James Mattis, the former secretary of defense, and was grappling with whether to support the president in the coming election. Ms. Murkowski said the critique by General Mattis, in which he said that Mr. Trump had divided the nation and failed to lead, was overdue and might be a tipping point that would cause Republicans to air concerns about the president that they had only spoken about privately. ‘I was really thankful,’ Ms. Murkowski told reporters on Capitol Hill. ‘I thought General Mattis’s words were true and honest and necessary and overdue.’ The comments by Ms. Murkowski, one of the few moderate Republicans in Congress who has been willing to break with Mr. Trump, suggested that his response to nationwide unrest over police brutality and racial discrimination had prodded at least some members of the party to reconsider their support for him.”

Yuval Levin‘The Evils of Injustice and the Danger of Mobocracy’ - National Review: “In recent days, my mind has turned to Abraham Lincoln—maybe the greatest of the great-souled Americans. I’ve thought of him not only because he thought and acted with such moral clarity regarding the evil of racism and the inhumanity of slavery, but also because he understood that no just society was possible without respect for basic social order. He knew there was an ideal of justice above the law, and he knew that it could only be respected and put into effect through the law, not around it. … We incline to worry about angry mobs out of fear that they will harm the innocent, but Lincoln argued that even when their cause is understandable (even when, as in one of his examples, they are rightly livid at ‘the perpetration of an outrageous murder’), their lawlessness is a grave danger, because they ultimately liberate ‘the lawless in spirit…to become lawless in practice,’ and then leave good citizens with no choice but to become lawless in their own defense.”

The Judge’s Ruling: ‘America is under attack from three deadly viruses’ - Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano takes the national temperature in his column this week: “America is under attack by three deadly viruses. COVID-19 has killed more than 107,000 Americans since March. Yet, it pales in comparison to the virus it provoked -- hubris. And that, in turn, provoked the virus that has bedeviled America since the 17th century -- racism.” Read it all here.

Bloomberg: “President Donald Trump has summoned top political advisers including his re-election campaign manager, Brad Parscale, for a White House meeting as his political standing erodes in key battleground states, according to people familiar with the matter. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, who is the de facto leader of his re-election effort, will also participate, the people said, as will Deputy Campaign Manager Bill Stepien and Trump’s top pollster, Tony Fabrizio. One of the people said it’s expected to be a tense meeting, describing internal polls that show Trump performing poorly in politically competitive states across the country. The people asked not to be identified because the meeting isn’t on Trump’s public schedule for the day. Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows is also in the meeting, another person said.”

Internal campaign polling alarms Team Trump - NYT: “In private polling conducted by Mr. Trump’s campaign, the president is now well behind Mr. Biden, according to people briefed on the most recent round of results. Multiple public surveys this week have found Mr. Trump trailing Mr. Biden, the former vice president, by double-digit margins, including a Monmouth University poll published on Wednesday that showed Mr. Biden ahead by 11 percentage points. The presidential election is still five months away and Mr. Trump, despite his political vulnerability, retains some important assets as a candidate. While Mr. Biden’s fund-raising efforts have picked up momentum, Mr. Trump is sitting on a considerably larger war chest and is resuming in-person fund-raising next week. There is almost no open dissent within the Republican Party, giving Mr. Trump a solid political foundation on the right from which he can attempt to rebuild his strength before the fall campaign.”

Biden nearly doubles Wisconsin lead - Fox News: “Majorities of Wisconsin voters rate the economy negatively and are concerned about coronavirus. That helps explain Democrat Joe Biden’s gains in the presidential race, in a Fox News Poll of Wisconsin registered voters released Wednesday. Biden has a 9-point edge over President Donald Trump, 49-40 percent. That’s up from a 5-point advantage in January, and is outside the poll’s margin of sampling error.  Another 11 percent are uncommitted. A big reason Trump trails Biden is lack of party support: 85 percent of Republicans back him, while 93 percent of Democrats support Biden.  Eight percent of Republicans defect to Biden.  In addition, only 87 percent of those who approve of Trump’s job performance support his reelection.”

Ohio back to swing state status as Biden holds narrow lead - Fox News: “A Fox News Poll of Ohio registered voters finds Democrat Joe Biden narrowly tops President Donald Trump in the race for the White House.  At the same time, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine enjoys sky-high, bipartisan approval. Biden is ahead of Trump by a 45 to 43 percent margin. The former vice president’s 2-point edge is within the poll’s margin of sampling error. Voters extremely interested in the election go for Biden by 6 points (51-45 percent). More Democrats (61 percent) than Republicans (55 percent) are extremely interested in the election.”

Biden up 4 in Arizona, McSally getting shellacked - Fox News: “Republicans are rightly concerned about Arizona. A new Fox News Poll finds the state shading blue -- especially in the race for the U.S. Senate, where Democrat Mark Kelly bests incumbent Republican Sen. Martha McSally by a 50-37 percent margin among Arizona registered voters. The story here is party loyalty. Some 88 percent of Democrats back Kelly, while just 73 percent of Republicans support McSally.  Fully 13 percent of those backing President Trump in the presidential race cross over and go for Kelly. Gov. Doug Ducey appointed McSally after the 2018 retirement of Sen. John McCain’s successor, Jon Kyl. In a head-to-head presidential ballot test, Democrat Joe Biden edges President Donald Trump by 46-42 percent.  Another 11 percent are still up for grabs. Biden’s 4-point advantage is within the poll’s margin of sampling error.”

Texas tight, but undecideds aplenty - Quinnipiac University: “President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are locked in a very tight race in Texas, with Trump receiving 44 percent of the vote and Biden receiving 43 percent in a general election matchup, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released [Wednesday]. Democrats go for Biden 90 - 5 percent, independents do the same 45 - 36 percent, and Republicans go for Trump 87 - 6 percent. Voters say 54 - 40 percent that Trump would do a better job handling the economy, but say 49 - 43 percent that Biden would do a better job handling health care. Voters are split on who would do a better job handling the response to the coronavirus, as 47 percent say Biden and 45 percent say Trump.”

Trump approval on race relations hits 33 percent - CBS News: “President Trump's overall approval rating stands at 40% and disapproval is 54% — both within the historically narrow range in which they vary; neither his lowest nor highest numbers. As always, given high marks from Republicans and faring worse among others. Even fewer approve of his handling of race relations specifically, at 33%. Here again, his own party bolsters the numbers, with 72% of Republicans approving. African-Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of the president's overall job performance and his handling of race relations. The public has similarly negative views on the president's response to the situation in Minneapolis: 31% are satisfied with it, while 55% dissatisfied with it.”

Politico: “Joe Biden has long prided himself on being a union-friendly Democrat with a good relationship with rank-and-file cops. But Biden’s call for more national policing reforms and oversight in the wake of the death of George Floyd — and the perception that he hasn’t shown enough solidarity with law enforcement amid the ensuing nationwide protests and unrest — have created a fissure with law enforcement groups, leaving many who once supported him frustrated by what they regard as political posturing by their one-time ally. ‘Clearly, he’s made a lot of changes the way candidates do during the primary process, but he kept moving left and fell off the deep end,’ said Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, the umbrella organization for Police Benevolent Association chapters. … As the two presidential candidates confront one of the most racially combustible moments in recent history, they are taking decidedly different tacks.”

Bernie bros not so friendly - Politico: “Bernie world is tearing itself apart. As election results across the country rolled in on Tuesday evening, current and former aides to Bernie Sanders abruptly laced into each other on social media, trading accusations of being ‘tone-deaf,’ not giving ‘a shit about the base,’ and even stealing infrastructure from the 2020 campaign. The clashes made public tensions that had long simmered below the surface among different factions in Sanders’ team during the primary. But they also demonstrated how difficult it is for top Sanders lieutenants to control even their own former staffers, which could hamper efforts at party unity during the general election. For progressives and ex-Sanders staffers worried about how to keep the movement alive after the Vermont senator dropped out of the primary, the feud set off a round of soul-searching since it came against the backdrop of nationwide civil unrest and protests against police brutality.”

Ocasio-Cortez backs Engel’s challenger in primary - Fox News: “Despite a less-than-stellar record on past endorsements, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said Wednesday that she was going to throw her support behind Rep. Eliot Engel’s primary challenger. ‘This moment requires renewed and revitalized leadership across the country AND at the ballot box,’ she tweeted, as she lent her support to Jamaal Bowman, an educator. Earlier this year, Ocasio-Cortez announced the Courage to Change PAC, which was seen at the time as a threat to established Democrats. Despite her freshman status in the House, she is popular and her endorsement is seen as a gateway to the younger vote. Steve Bannon, the former White House chief strategist, once called Ocasio-Cortez one of the most powerful politicians in Washington. She called Bowman, who is African-American, ‘a profound community leader.’ Engel’s district has mostly black and Hispanic voters.”

Politico: “U.S. workers filed another 1.9 million new claims for unemployment benefits last week, the Department of Labor reported. The coronavirus pandemic has forced roughly 42.6 million workers onto jobless rolls in just 11 weeks. Another 623,000 people applied for benefits under the new temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program created for people who are ineligible for traditional unemployment benefits, suggesting the number of claims filed last week could be higher than 2 million. But there is likely some overlap between the claims reported for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and normal state programs. ‘Even as states reopen, claims in the millions are an indicator that the economic pain of the COVID-19 crisis is still acute,’ Glassdoor Senior Economist Daniel Zhao said in reaction to the claims number.”

GOP under pressure to extend unemployment benefits - Politico: “Forty million Americans are unemployed and extra unemployment benefits expire at the end of next month. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are grappling with deep ideological divisions over what to do with the popular program in the middle of a pandemic and an election year. Most Republicans have roundly rejected the House Democrats’ approach of extending a $600 weekly boost to unemployment checks though January 2021, and some say the enhanced benefits may need to end altogether. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said ‘it might’ need to go back to the normal state unemployment benefits, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said the additional funds were a ‘terrible idea [that] never should have passed in the first place.’ Many Republicans think the extra money makes it less enticing for Americans to go back to work — already a concern for people considering the dangers of being infected by coronavirus in the workplace.”

“Progress comes when people treat one another with respect, as if we were color-blind. Unless and until we are honest that race is still an anchor around our country’s neck, that shadow will never be lifted.” – Condoleezza Rice in an opinion piece for the WaPo.

“Chris, honest question, with all of the predictable blame-assigning in recent days arising from the horrific homicide of George Floyd, there is one group I have not yet heard anyone mention - the police union. Derek Chauvin was a police officer with 18 prior complaints investigated by Internal Affairs, two of which resulted in discipline. There is no way to know if some of the complaints were reduced in severity as a part of a settlement. At minimum, Chauvin seems, over the years, to have had issues in doing his job professionally. I understand that Chief Arradando, appointed following another high-profile police shooting in 2017, seems well regarded and sincere in his reform plan for the department’s relationship to the community. Assuming Arradondo’s efforts included eliminating ‘bad apples’ from the force, I wonder to what extent the police union might make it difficult to impossible to remove a problematic sworn officer from such a powerful position in which he can do so much harm? This seems like it could be an issue in other locales as well.” – Jim Snave, Wilmington, N.C.

[Ed. note: Since the days when Calvin Coolidge as governor of Massachusetts broke the Boston police strike, police unions have been one of the stickiest wickets in American public life. Through most of the 20th century, Democratic leaders in big cities sided with police unions not just on increased pay and benefits but also on discipline. Like other government-worker unions, they were part of machines that protected the existing power structure. It wasn’t until this week that Philadelphia took down a hideously heroic statue of Frank Rizzo, the former police commissioner turned mayor who famously told his supporters to “vote white.” As cities changed radically in the ensuing decades, the relationship became more fraught and Republicans, especially big-city GOPers of an authoritarian bent, found common cause. The power of police unions is not just in contributions and endorsements, but their power to undercut elected officials. No one, Republican or Democrat, would like to run for office branded as soft on crime. But on the other hand, without organization, police officers have often been subject to abuses by civilian leaders and politically-motivated changes to standards and procedures. City leaders have long struggled with finding the right balance between protecting the members of the thin blue line and holding officers accountable.]

“In light of the current racial tensions I have been thinking about your argument that the number of House of Representatives should be increased so that each Representative actually represents fewer people. Do you think this would help minorities have a louder voice in the House, because the districts would be smaller and the Reps closer to the population they represent? How big does it need to be so that this theory is effective? This would also increase the Electoral College, correct? Would that benefit some States over the others? My initial thought was no, because the Reps would still be allocated based on population so the Electoral Votes would still be basically the same percentage per State. I realize that having more/better representation in government is not the solution to racial tensions & racism, but I do think it could be a puzzle piece of the solution.  We can at least start a conversation on how we can help our fellow Americans be heard. God Bless.” – Colleen Mansuetto, Cleveland

[Ed. note: Wow, Ms. Mansuetto! I hadn’t even thought about that one. Good looking out! I promise to noodle around on your questions and get back to you soon, God bless you, too.]

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

Reuters: “On May 4, the U.S. state allowed a partial relaxing of restrictions imposed to slow the coronavirus pandemic. That means certain elective medical procedures could resume, including Botox injections and cosmetic surgery. Michael Salzhauer, a plastic surgeon known as ‘Dr. Miami’ who has also starred in a reality television show, has been conducting drive-through Botox injections in the garage of his building in the posh Miami neighborhood of Bal Harbour. Salzhauer said the idea struck him as he was sitting in his car waiting for a blood test for COVID-19 antibodies. ‘The areas that we inject Botox are the upper face, exactly the parts of the face that aren’t covered by the mask so it’s really ideal,’ Salzhauer said, while wearing a mask, face shield and surgical gown as he waited for his next drive-up patient. Patients sign up online, paying an average of $600 each for a stippling of shots across their foreheads.”

“Optimism? Every other person on the No. 6 bus is an optimist. What distinguished Reagan was what he did and said.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on June 11, 2004.

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.