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John and the Jogger.

Update: if you want to make Joe Manchin irrelevant, you can donate to John Fetterman’s fundraising page here.

I have a recurring monthly donation of $25 but kick in whatever you can.

Californians, Fetterman will make you count again.

If you want to make sure PA certifies the electors that voters actually voted for, help us elect Josh Shapiro as the next Governor of Pennsylvania and keep Doug Mastriano out of the governor’s office.

Donate to Josh Shapiro’s page here.

**************

I stayed up way too late last night putting out fires on Twitter from people in Fargo, ND and Raleigh, NC and Arizona who were mad as hell that John Fetterman, the OBVIOUS racist, won the senate primary and not that nice young man, Connor Lamb. It all comes back to their distorted opinion about the jogger incident and the reflexive, knee jerk response that John must be a George Zimmerman style vigilante white supremicist.

So let me give my own take on this story, noting in advance that I wasn’t there. The basic outline of the story is that John heard what he thought were gunshots close to his house and saw a hooded figure who took off running. He grabbed his shotgun, jumped in his truck and gave chase until he cornered the the guy and then held him at gunpoint until police arrived. It turns out that the guy was just a black guy who was running and hadn’t done anything wrong.

Ok. That sounds bad. I’m not excusing John here. Chasing anyone down with a gun is not good, especially if you don’t know what’s going on.

It sure sounds like John is a racist.

Here’s the context.

John was the mayor of Braddock, PA. He was re-elected a bunch of times. Braddock is the home of one of the biggest steel mills ever. It’s in the Monongahela valley about 5 miles from my house. When the mills closed all over this area in the late 70s, early 80s, cities like Braddock, Duquesne, McKeesport and Homestead became ghost towns of sorts. The mills no longer clanged at night, the skies no longer filled with an orange glow from sandblasting. The barges of coal stopped floating down the river. There was massive unemployment. People moved away. The tax base shrank dramatically. It was so bad that the water system in McKeesport became compromised. One day, downtown Mckeesport caught fire and burned to the ground. I know because I watched it happen from my aunt’s panoramic view from across the Mon river in West Mifflin. My grandmother and I were visiting and watched the city burn. Her house was in McKeesport and we hoped the fire wouldn’t spread there. It didn’t, fortunately. But we were in shock to see it happen.

In other words, the effect of closing the mills on the area was catastrophic. And when all the people who could move away were gone, what was left were the people who had few options. There were poor white and African American working class people who had nowhere else to go as their cities disintegrated.

I saw this first hand. My mom’s family had a lot of US Steel and Fisher Body union guys in it.

This is what happened to Braddock. As I said before, I used to pass through Braddock on the way to my grandmother’s house and thought that it would have been improved by demolition. The deterioration happened so quickly. The roads could destroy your car’s shocks in minutes, the buildings crumbled, the infrastructure went unmaintained, the prostitutes and drug dealers moved in. When opportunity moved out, all of the typical social problems moved in. Crime, drug abuse, poverty, jail sentences.

This is the Braddock that John Fetterman came to when he joined AmeriCorps. Then he became mayor and was re-elected more than once. Digging Braddock out of the pit it fell into has been no easy task. Fetterman helped re-establish a community there, his wife Gisele started the FreeStore. John has lobbied businesses to come to Braddock. He’s had to fight the local hospital group to not close up shop and move away. It has been a long hard grind.

John has Braddock’s zip tattooed on his arm. He also has the dates of all the people murdered in Braddock since he lived there tattooed in his arm so he never forgets.

I don’t know what happened the night that Fetterman encountered the “jogger”. Knowing what I do about Braddock, it’s unlikely that anyone would be jogging for fitness in Braddock at night. Let’s say he was a running man. Braddock is or was a high crime area. That whole section of the Mon valley is. There are some areas of Duquesne that I used to drive through on the way to my aunt’s house but I take a different route now. It could be dangerous to stop on some streets.

So, I believe John when he says he thought he heard gunshots. I believe him when he says he didn’t know who he was chasing. But given the demographics of the area, it had to be either a poor white working class guy or a poor black working class guy. Most likely the latter.

I don’t know how many encounters his community had had with gun crimes at the time but probably pretty high. Given the area and it’s history, I could see why the incident happened. Is it ever a good idea to go chasing someone with a shotgun? I think we all know that it’s not. But does this make John Fetterman some kind of George Zimmerman? Absolutely not. And given that his own town still voted for him, it may mean that they have a different view of him than some of us do.

Connor Lamb was John’s opponent. Lamb is currently my congressman and he’s straight out of central casting. He’s a straight, white, Catholic, ex-marine lawyer who shmoozes the old right wing guys. He barely acknowledges that he has heavily democratic and diverse suburbs in his district. In a lot of ways, he reminds me of Obama. He appeals to the white moderate , centrist and Republican guys and just assumes that the Democratic base and working class and black voters will vote for him because where else are they going to go??

I think the reason Lamb was defeated so profoundly is because the working class voters of PA, the diverse and progressive tech workers of Pittsburgh, the black voters in John’s town, all of them decided that John represented our interests best. He’s a Democrat in the Elizabeth Warren or Katie Porter mold. He looks forward. He’s seen what our economy can do to working families. It means something to him. Conner Lamb was the standard package. He just wasn’t as compelling.

Anyway, that’s how I see it. Fetterman is as far from a racist as it is possible to get. The proof is in how he has chosen to lead his life, where he lives, who his neighbors are. It’s easy to label someone. But it only takes a little curiosity to see how different the reality is.

One last thing, putting aside that chasing someone with a shotgun is a really bad decision, I don’t think his Republican opponent is going to make this story into a liability for Fetterman. The flip side of the story is that he’s an Everyman, he owns a truck, he has a shotgun and he’s not afraid to use it to defend his family.

So, you know, there’s that…

22 Responses

  1. PA is essential nationally. Shapiro has to win or we can’t win the presidential election. Fetterman gives us our best chance to pick up a Senate seat. I think both will win, but this morning the media is covering it like there are no Democrats in either race.

    Democrats need to vote for the Democratic candidate, most particularly now, with the country’s survival at stake. Democrats hounded Al Franken into resignation, he did nothing at all to deserve it. Katie Hill should have kept her seat, too; maybe Cuomo should have, but we won’t go into that. There is the desperate need to defeat Republicans, vs. the neverending need among some Democrats to only nominate and keep in office pure and perfect candidates Lamb and Kenyatta, to their discredit, both went after Fetterman in the debate on this “issue.” I’m sure that he didn’t know who he was chasing, or what was going on. It is dangerous to point guns at people, and we wish that no one did it. If purity Democrats in other parts of the country root for him to lose to a MAGA jerk, and hand the Senate to the Republicans, they are abysmally ignorant of what is going on in this country, or would rather hold onto self-righteousness as the Republicans take it over.

    • Fetterman can just own what he did, say it was a mistake, a poor decision or whatever, apologize and move on. He can’t change making a poor mistake but he can own it and learn from it and learn why this story bothers people.

      • I think the reason why it bothers people especially people from out of state is that his opponent Connor Lamb framed it as a white guy holding a black “jogger” at gun point. It instantly triggers Dems understanding of recent history and the death of a jogger in a middle class neighborhood. In that case, the attack by three white guys was definitely racially motivated.
        What people around here understand is that a “jogger” running around at night in Braddock just trying to close the rings on his Apple Watch doesn’t sound very likely. If Fetterman thought he heard gunshots, it’s probably because he’s heard them before.
        BTW, that “jogger” picked up a woman in his car for a ride share, prevented her from leaving his car and threatened her after she escaped because he knew where she lived. He’s serving time in prison on a kidnapping conviction.
        That doesn’t justify what John did but the idea that a guy who gave up a comfy lifestyle to work for the people of Braddock PA, was elected mayor, has a wife who helps released felons reintegrate into society and lives in a converted used car dealership is a racist is beyond ridiculous. Apologizing once is fine but I have a feeling that it could turn into the equivalent of Hillary apologizing for using a private e-mail server. They won’t let it go.
        All I’m asking is that before democrats around the country get all pure about racism and this one incident, they should take the time to find out about Braddock. But they’d rather jump on the bandwagon than do that. I find it reprehensible that someone like John could be equated with the racist assholes who shot a jogger.

        • I can easily accept your explanation for how Fetterman won except for the shallow description you give of Lamb and his campaign. Lamb campaigned everywhere while Fetterman stayed rural yet Lamb is the one who took blacks for granted. Additionally, Lamb isn’t the empty suit of your description. One can be for a candidate without being demeaning of another, especially in a primary. It is also disrespectful as a blogger for you to not spell Lamb’s first name correctly.

          • I stand by my statement about Lamb. He’s my rep and I campaigned for him twice, canvassing and phone banking. I still have a Lamb yard sign. But whenever Lamb touts his electability, it’s always with reverence to the campaign he won just barely in his old district which favored Republicans. The second time he ran, it was in a new district where he got a lot of eastern suburbs and the district was no longer a Republican district. It’s purple at best and probably edges Democrat now. He won his second campaign by something like 20 points – with help from us
            His painting Fetterman as a racist for holding a black “jogger” at gun point was cynical and misleading. Also, did you see where Fetterman won?? It was in every county of the state. Not just Pittsburgh and Philly but York county and Lackawanna. He has to win the whole state in the fall and he’s doing it by shaking voters out of their torpor.
            As for misspellings, I vary on Connor’s first name. It’s not intentional. I just happen to write my posts at about 5 am and then I go to work. Editing is not my strong suit. After thousands of posts here, ain’t nobody got time for that.

  2. Stuart Stevens, the most decent of the former Republican campaign strategists (why does it seem that the only Democratic strategist is James Carviille, retired; do you ever see a current one on TV now?), wrote today, “Besides being perfect casting for a comic buddy road movie, Shapiro and Fetterman make a powerful combo to appeal to hearts and minds of diverse electorate. Shapiro will crush it in urban areas and suburbs. Fetterman in rural areas.”

  3. Oh, the GOP will definitely use him chasing down a black man with a gun. It will be used to make black people sit home. Tom Bonier said that Fetterman ran a distant third in the Philly wards where a lot of African Americans live. He said Fetterman should go and talk to the voters there & tell them what he did was incredibly stupid, take ownership and apologize.

    • If the GOP does this Fetterman should fire back with an ad made by the guy he chased down urging all to vote Fetterman. It appears that this issue has no traction with the blacks in PA.

      • Actually Tom Bonier said that Fetterman coming in a distant third in the wards in Philly means yeah, it has traction. However he can fix it by owning up to his poor decision & apologizing. Fetterman will have to figure out a way to answer the GOP ads. I understand that guy went to jail so I’m not sure having someone convicted of a crime telling people to vote for Fetterman is a good idea.

        • I replied in the wrong place down below.
          Fetterman did poorly in Philly because Malcolm Kenyatta was on the ballot and he’s the state rep from that area.
          Kenyatta, unsurprisingly, did very well in Philly.
          As for the “jogger” who ended up in prison on a felony kidnapping charge now endorsing Fetterman, I don’t give it a lot of weight. Fetterman is on the parole board. There’s definitely a perceived quid pro quo going on there from the prisoner’s POV. BUT when he does get out of prison, Gisele Fetterman will be right there, making sure he’s got clothes to wear to work and food to eat because she believes in second chances.

      • Oops, I was writing my comment when you posted yours. Totally agree!

        • My “oops” was in response to jmac’s comment. Dang this nesting.

    • GA6th, I understand what you are saying. It is the current formula for Dems for any offense, real or perceived. As a voter, I am actually pretty tired of it. I can’t vote for a Republican, at least not at this perilous state of affairs, so Fetterman and Shapiro are my choices. I would hope most PA voters, especially voters of color and women, will feel the same.

      I am near Philly and IIRC, I heard that at some meeting or debate (perhaps the one William mentioned) an opponent went after him on this event and that Fetterman just let the opponent talk until he hanged himself and Fetterman came out on top. I didn’t hear how Fetterman defended himself. If the choice is telling Black voters what they want to hear and if RD’s contextual explanation is correct (which I believe it is), OR let Fetterman speak his truth and let the chips fall where they may, I prefer the latter; but then I am an old white woman. Maybe RD can confirm this, but I had read that the jogger in question held no grudge against Fetterman for his actions and was in favor of Fetterman’s political aspirations, or at least would not stand in the way of them due to this frightening encounter with him.

      Fetterman’s ads here in SE PA had a lot of everyday people lauding him and most of them were Black. All were obviously Braddock residents who supported him then and now. Based on RD’s profile, if any 6’8” gun-toting white man can convince Black voters that he will fight for them if elected, it’s Fetterman. Sounds like he has the receipts as they say.

      Lastly, if an apology is truly in order to those Philly voters, by all means give it; but if it is just saying the words to get elected, I will think less of him.

    • Fetterman ran third in Philly because Malcolm Kenyatta was on the ballot and IIRC, his poll position was number 2 right under some guy named Alex something.
      Pittsburgh is a very diverse city. I don’t recall the black community here demanding an apology over and over and over and over again. There’s a risk in letting that take over a campaign.

      • What Bonier said was that he ran a distant 3rd in Philly. Kenyatta winning wasn’t a surprise but Fetterman doing so poorly was. Either way it seems he can sit down and talk to the voters there and maybe explain to them that he understands their POV.

  4. In working class Pennsylvania, whoever looks like they have the most dirt under their fingernails will likely win, they seem to like their people rugged. I think Fetterman will appeal to many independents.

    • This is a first that I can tell. It feels more like voters are absolutely fed up with being stuck in one place. It’s like knowing that you can’t continue doing the same thing every election because that isn’t working. It’s a response against learned helplessness. I’ve been very disappointed in the way a lot of Democrats have responded on Twitter. They should be encouraged. Instead, they’re flinging accusations of racism at Fetterman.
      It also drives me nuts that the party put all of its resources behind Connor Lamb because because because becaaaaaause!!! I have no effing idea why. I saw James Carville on TV the other day. It sounded like he advised Lamb. It’s a rare misstep for Carville. Usually he’s dead on.
      The party can push Fetterman enthusiastically. Or it can once again push someone who even if he wins is going to hedge every important vote with some squishy reason why it pains him to give people what they actually want.
      The party lined up almost everyone it could find to back lamb and endorse him while it went out of its way to paint the guy with the solid lead as a racist.
      The party is changing to be younger, more progressive and sick to death of the exploitative profit mining that it pays lip service to but does nothing about but offer some Catholic Boy Scout as it’s preferred candidate.
      Enough already. If the last few years have taught us anything it’s that being mainstream, with mainstream solutions for everything doesn’t work. Something big has to break the logjam. That candidate wasn’t going to be Lamb. But it might just be Fetterman, the guy that will add more weight to Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown and Katie Porter.

      • For people like Carville it’s the Bernie association that is the problem IMO. Yeah, Fetterman says he’s not a socialist but here he is endorsing a socialist for president etc. etc.

        • Fetterman was a Berniecrat, probably based on his years in Braddock where he saw that it’s hard to pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you don’t have boots. He was totally onboard with Hillary after the convention.
          I would describe him as more of an Elizabeth Warren type Democrat.

    • Seriously? Tom Ridge and Wolfe and Shapiro & others don’t seem that way at all to me but maybe I missed something.

  5. My opinion matters little, since I do not live in Pennsylvania, but yeah, I hope Lurch defeats the TV Quack or the Non-Entity (whichever one wins the GQP primary).

    HOWEVER–and I speak only for myself here–after four decades years (sorry, but it seemed like four decades) of a Colorful Populist in the White House, I definitely recoil from Colorful Populists. More Bland Elitists, please.

  6. Since I can’t post links on William’s threads:

    Friday nights 7 PM – 8 PM North American Central Time:

    The Magical Mystery Tour. Host Tom Wood takes a look at the Beatles from a different angle each week.

    Friday nights 8 PM – 12 AM North American Central Time:

    Beaker Street, the legendary rock radio program, has returned. Iconic host Clyde Clifford has returned from his medical absence.

    Both shows can be found at http://arkansasrocks.com/

    If you can’t catch Beaker Street live, MP3 files are available soon afterward at https://beakerstreetsetlists.com/

    Clyde is supposed to be back this week.

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