Daily Blog for July 2020

Stories on and under the headlines for July 31

Trump’s plan to jiggle to Covid stats should be terminal for his 2020 Election chances
  • Why Trump cannot delay the election – plus the truth about mail-in voting
  • COVID-19 Hospital Data System That Bypasses CDC Plagued By Delays, Inaccuracies

127 thoughts on “Daily Blog for July 2020

  1. Why Trump cannot delay the election – plus the truth about mail-in voting

    The president suggested postponing the presidential election in a tweet on Thursday, but he doesn’t have that power


    Donald Trump boards Air Force One in Maryland on 29 July. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

    Donald Trump suggested on Thursday that the November election should be delayed. Can he do that?

    No. The president cannot act on his own to move the date of the election. The constitution gives state legislatures and Congress the ability to set the dates of elections. It does not give the president any power to do so.

    Article 2 of the US constitution, which outlines the powers of the executive branch, specifically gives Congress the power to set the “time” when states choose their presidential electors. In 1845, Congress set the day for choosing presidential electors as Tuesday following the first Monday in November in a presidential election year. Congress could move the date of the election by changing the law, but the president could not unilaterally do so.

    There will be no delay in the #2020Election. Congress sets the election date, and it should not be changed. It will be held on November 3rd, as planned and required by law. — US Rep Rodney Davis (@RodneyDavis) July 30, 2020

    The 20th amendment also says that the four-year term of the president and vice-president ends on 20 January. It also calls for the terms of members of Congress to begin on 3 January.

    “If there is no new president-elect (or V-P-elect), then the Twentieth Amendment calls for an Acting President on noon on January 20, with Congress having written a statute that would put the Speaker next in line,” Ned Foley, a professor at the Ohio State University, wrote in an email. The speaker is currently Nancy Pelosi.

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  2. COVID-19 Hospital Data System That Bypasses CDC Plagued By Delays, Inaccuracies


    *The Trump administration abruptly required hospitals to stop reporting COVID data to CDC and use a new reporting system set up by a contractor. Two weeks in, the promised improvements in the data have yet to materialize. Spencer Platt/Getty Images *

    Earlier this month, when the Trump administration told hospitals to send crucial data about coronavirus cases and intensive care capacity to a new online system, it promised the change would be worth it. The data would be more complete, transparent, and an improvement over the old platform run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, administration officials said.

    Instead, the public data hub created under the new system is updated erratically and is rife with inconsistencies and errors, data analysts say.

    Lawmakers plan to grill members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force about the reporting change, and what’s being done to ensure the data remains public and reliable, in a Friday morning hearing of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus. Several House subcommittees have already launched an investigation into to the data change.

    The delays and problems with data on the availability of beds, ventilators and safety equipment could have profound consequences as infections and deaths soar throughout most of the country, public health experts say.

    “If the information is not accurate, it could cost time — and lives,” says Lisa M. Lee, formerly the chief science officer for public health surveillance at CDC, now at Virginia Tech. For instance, knowing which hospitals have the capacity to take on new patients is critical, she explains. “If all the ICU beds are taken up, emergency medical personnel need to take [new patients] to the next town over or to the next county.”

    HHS is standing by its decision. While some hospital associations and states have had “difficulty,” HHS has worked to quickly resolve errors, and they “are pleased with the progress we have made during this transition and the actionable data it is providing,” a spokesperson wrote to NPR in a statement.

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  3. Confused Republican Louie Gohmert Wonders If Wearing a Mask Led to Positive COVID Test

    The congressman from Texas was staunchly anti-mask. Now he’s tested positive for the coronavirus

    After decades of spreading stupidity at a super-human clip, Rep. Louie Gohmert is now doing his best to spread a deadly virus.

    The Texas Republican tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday prior to joining President Trump aboard Air Force One for a trip to Texas, where the pandemic is currently wreaking havoc on the state’s residents.

    Now, this was an understandably confusing turn of events for Gohmert. He was probably pretty excited to join the president on a trip to his home state, and certainly didn’t expect to test positive for a virus he clearly hadn’t been taking very seriously. Until recently, the 66-year-old congressman steadfastly refused to wear a mask, claiming that he’d wear one only if he tested positive. That changed recently, kind of, and in an interview with a Texas radio station after testing positive on Wednesday, Gohmert called the result “ironic” because “in the last week or two I have worn a mask more than I have in the whole last four months.”

    Gohmert found the result so ironic, in fact, that he questioned whether it was a coincidence at all. Maybe, he wondered, it was the act of wearing a mask itself that gave him COVID. After informing his social media followers on Wednesday that though “the reports of my demise” are premature, “apparently I have the Wuhan [sic] virus,” Gohmert expounded on this fresh bit of galaxy-brain hypothesizing.

    “It is interesting,” Gohmert said, “and I don’t know about everybody, but when I have a mask on I’m moving it to make it comfortable, and I can’t help but wonder if that put some germs in the mask. Keep your hands off your mask? Anyway, who knows?”

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  4. The Problem of the Not-Quite-One Percent

    The divide between who can afford to weather the downturn and who can’t is sharpening. And it’s shaping the recovery response.


    Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images

    “We aren’t wealthy people with a very big Hamptons home, but it’s beautiful to us,” the owner of a rather large house in Southampton recently told The New York Times in an article on Manhattan residents decamping to second homes. That quote, roundly savaged on social media, has since vanished from the online version of the article but was an instructive lens through which to view the not-quite-one percent as they navigate the pandemic.

    The upper-middle class, or the top 20 percent of earners in the United States, still have nothing on the likes of Jeff Bezos—whose net worth increased by $13 billion in one day last week—or Elon Musk, who recently claimed that a new stimulus bill was “not in the best interests of the people.” Yet at the same time, the affluent often still seem to operate in a parallel universe to the rest of the country. While the coronavirus has upended the lives of most people, including those well-off professionals, the division between those who can afford to weather the pandemic in relative comfort (if also a certain amount of inconvenience) and those who can’t continues to sharpen. And that gap will almost certainly shape the country’s recovery from the pandemic.

    We’ve already seen the makings of a new pandemic-era variation on residential segregation: White-collar professionals working remotely who own second homes—even modest ones!—have long since fled coronavirus hot spots for those safer environs. And as The Washington Post noted on Monday, homeowners and those with the means to buy are now benefiting from low interest rates and the cheapest mortgages in 30 years. “People who own homes are in the best financial shape in the country. They are not the people we should worry about,” housing analyst Logan Mohtashami told the Post. Rents, on the other hand, largely haven’t decreased across the nation, although unemployment remains high and eviction protections across the country near expiration. “Renters are the ones who need help and forbearance,” said Mohtashami.

    The well-off also appear to be figuring out childcare, despite some early stumbles. According to The New York Times, au pairs are now in short supply as the families that can afford them rush to snap them up. While the minimum cost of sponsoring an au pair is around $20,000, the shortage has spurred offers from affluent households of large sign-on bonuses and doubled pay, new cars, and other perks. Then there are the budding “microschools” and schooling pods, launched by understandably anxious parents as state and municipal governments waver on whether to reopen schools in the fall (and the Trump administration attempts to bully them into doing so). Under the pod model, a small group of parents pay tutors or private teachers to provide in-person education as a replacement for or a supplement to online learning. If that’s one solution to the impending schooling crisis, it’s also one that’s only available to those who can afford it and has the potential to exacerbate the already significant educational disparities between affluent and poor students. “The truth of the matter is, we’re staring down the barrel at something that is going to divide and widen the gaps between kids,” educational sociologist and NYU professor L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy told The New York Times.

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  5. Without Medicare for All, This Isn’t ‘the Boldest Democratic Platform in American History’

    700 Democratic delegates signal they will oppose a platform that fails to renew the party’s commitment to establish a national health care system.


    N95 mask in the ER at Oakbend Medical Center in Richmond, Texas. (Mark Felix / AFP via Getty Images)

    The Democratic National Committee’s platform committee approved a draft of the party’s 2020 agenda this week and committee cochair Denis McDonough promptly described it as the “boldest Democratic platform in American history.”

    It’s not—unless your definition of “bold” includes a tepid health care stance that rejects the single-payer Medicare for All agenda that enjoys overwhelming support from Americans in this Covid-19 moment.

    The proposed platform also pulls its punches on a host of other issues, from marijuana legalization, an end to qualified immunity for police officers, the placing of conditions on aid to Israel, a federal jobs guarantee, and a comprehensive approach to developing and implementing a Green New Deal.

    Every Democratic platform is a complex document that blends ideas from the various ideological factions that make up the party, and this draft document is no different. The 2020 draft includes a number of solid stances that respond to pressure from progressives to move the party to the left. It sets some clear goals for combating climate change, reflecting the movement of presumptive nominee Joe Biden on the issue. “It also calls,” as NPR notes, “for a $15 minimum wage, mandatory paid family leave, more federal gun control, broad changes to federal sentencing guidelines and drug laws, and many other changes that most Democratic candidates for Congress and the White House have supported for years.”

    But it is hard sell to claim that this is the boldest Democratic platform in American history.

    The 1900 Democratic platform began by “warn[ing] the American people that imperialism abroad will lead quickly and inevitably to despotism at home.” That was bold.

    The 1932 Democratic platform announced, in the midst of the Great Depression, that the party was committed to “stamping out monopolistic practices and the concentration of economic power.” That was bold.

    The 1944 Democratic platform asserted, in a time of Jim Crow segregation when the party relied on the “solid South” as a part of its coalition, that “racial and religious minorities have the right to live, develop and vote equally with all citizens and share the rights that are guaranteed by our Constitution.” And it argued that “Congress should exert its full constitutional powers to protect those rights.” That was bold.

    The 1960 Democratic platform declared, at a point when new technologies were transforming workplaces, that “we will provide the government leadership necessary to insure that the blessings of automation do not become burdens of widespread unemployment.” That was bold.

    The 1972 Democratic platform promised “to rethink and reorder the institutions of this country” to address systemic racism and sexism and classism—and it outlined a plan to “restructure the social, political and economic relationships throughout the entire society in order to ensure the equitable distribution of wealth and power.” That was bold. So, too, was the document’s recognition that a for-profit health care system was failing the United States—and its commitment to “establish a system of universal National Health Insurance which covers all Americans with a comprehensive set of benefits including preventive medicine, mental and emotional disorders, and complete protection against catastrophic costs, and in which the rule of free choice for both provider and consumer is protected. The program should be federally-financed and federally-administered.”

    From the 1940s through 1980, on health care issues, Democratic platforms took bolder stands than does the party’s 2020 draft platform. “Progressive ideas are nothing new,” notes Representative Ro Khanna, a cochair of the California delegation to this year’s convention, who argues that “there’s no reason we can’t finish enacting those policies today.”

    Unfortunately, the platform committee does not propose to do so.

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  6. Bill Barr Battles Democrats to a Draw

    In lieu of oversight, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee pepper Trump’s bag man with canned questions and grandstanding.


    Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    The House Judiciary Committee’s Democratic members spent more than a year trying to haul Attorney General Bill Barr into a hearing room. They had no shortage of topics to cover when he finally appeared on Tuesday: the Russia investigation and his efforts to undermine it last year, his subsequent probes into the investigators who launched it, his brief stint as the ersatz governor-general of the District of Columbia in June, his dismissals of key United States attorneys, his interventions in Trump allies’ legal troubles, and much more.

    The Trump era is a hard lesson on the limits of congressional oversight, especially since the 2018 midterms. His administration resists most serious efforts by House Democrats to probe the inner workings of the executive branch as it tries to run out the clock before the November election. Those clashes peaked during last year’s impeachment battle when Trump refused all cooperation with congressional investigators, followed by a slow-rolling purge of inspectors general after the Senate voted to acquit him. Placing Barr before an open hearing under oath gave the House a rare, fleeting opportunity to question one of the most important figures in Trumpworld.

    When the fateful moment arrived on Tuesday, however, Democratic lawmakers largely fell short. Only a handful of them asked probing or useful questions about Barr’s role in these events. Some relied upon a pre-written sequence of queries that could not (or would not) be changed depending on his answers. Many ultimately spent the hearing delivering speeches and denunciations about Barr in particular and the Trump administration in general, usually with a question or two slipped in at the end. It was rarely productive and even less frequently enlightening.

    The opening line of questions by House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler foreshadowed what was to come. When he tried to question Barr about his conversations with Trump concerning reelection and a Justice Department anti-crime operation in major U.S. cities, Barr dodged and weaved. At times, he described his conversations with Trump in vague terms. At other times, Barr refused to discuss his conversations with the president at all. Nadler, along with the Democrats’ early interrogators, like Zoe Lofgren and Sheila Jackson Lee, relied upon what appeared to be a scripted series of questions to which they hewed so firmly that they essentially denied themselves the opportunity to ask follow-ups or pursue lines of inquiry.

    On Twitter, prominent legal figures expressed dismay in the early goings. “Disappointing hearing,” Preet Bharara, a former U.S. attorney for Manhattan, opined, “and getting worse.” Daniel Goldman, who questioned witnesses for House Democrats during last year’s impeachment inquiry, described Nadler’s opening inquiries as “ineffective.” Andrew Weissman, who worked on former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, said that Democrats and Republicans alike should have relied on “experienced questioners and leave political speeches to addressing the results of the hearing.”

    Barr, for his part, left no illusions about his central role in the Trump administration. He described the Russia investigation as “bogus” in his opening statement, insisted that there was no systemic racism in American law enforcement, and claimed his interventions in the Roger Stone and Michael Flynn cases were in defense of the rule of law instead of an attack on it. At one point, when questioned about the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, he blamed early testing failures by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the Obama administration, which had been out of power for three years when the first cases emerged in China last December.

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  7. Americans are suffering. Trump offers them a doctor who warns of sex with demons.


    President Trump speaks during the coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on July 23. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

    According to the Mayo Clinic, endometriosis is “an often painful disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of [the] uterus — the endometrium — grows outside [the] uterus.”

    Not so, says Stella Immanuel, a Houston pediatrician and spiritual leader of Fire Power Ministries, a pronouncedly non-orthodox church. Endometriosis and other potentially dangerous gynecological conditions are the residue of sexual intercourse with demons, Immanuel teaches. These demons, known as “spirit husbands” and “spirit wives” (you might prefer their pet names: Incubus and Succubus) once walked the Earth in physical form. After they drowned in Noah’s flood, however, they carried on only in non-corporeal form. They visit humans in sexy dreams, which aren’t dreams after all but spirit spouses making a booty call. The demons are responsible not only for diseases of the female reproductive system but also for male impotence, most financial troubles, marital discord and spiritual malaise.

    This is not Immanuel’s only diversion from the medical mainstream. She also maintains that alien DNA is a component of some therapeutic drugs and that government scientists are developing a vaccine to prevent religious faith. You can find these and other teachings of hers on YouTube.

    Or you can find Immanuel on President Trump’s Twitter feed, where she testifies to the power of hydroxychloroquine (yep! we’re back to that one) to cure covid-19 and assures the public that masks are not important to fighting the pandemic. More than 10 million Americans heard her advice, thanks in part to the president’s amplifying effect, before Facebook took down her page. In response, Immanuel threatened to have Jesus unplug Facebook’s servers.

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  8. Watch Rep. Pramila Jayapal Expertly Cut to the Heart of William Barr’s Hypocrisy

    “I’m starting to lose my temper,” Jayapal said as the attorney general tried to interrupt her


    Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) questions Attorney General William Barr during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the oversight of the Department of Justice on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, July 28th, 2020. Matt McClain/The Washington Post/AP

    Attorney General William Barr appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday to answer for the Trump administration’s move to invade cities like Portland, Oregon, where federal agents have recently been brutalizing demonstrators. He ran into questioning from committee Democrats, particularly Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.). The Democrat took the attorney general to task for sending troops to quell Black Lives Matter demonstrations but doing nothing when armed militias swarmed government buildings in Michigan and elsewhere to demand the economy reopen during the coronavirus pandemic.

    Jayapal began by asking Barr whether he felt it was appropriate to order federal officers to “tear gas, pepper spray, and beat protesters” in Lafayette Park, in Washington, D.C., so that President Trump could walk to St. John’s Church to brandish a Bible for a photo op, Barr ignored the question to dispute whether tear gas was used. Jayapal rightly pointed out that this is a semantic distinction that has been widely debunked. Tear gas-like chemical agents were indeed used on peaceful demonstrators, according to U.S. Park Police.

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  9. It Was Insane to Restart Sports in America

    The Miami Marlins are dealing with a Covid-19 outbreak, and the NBA is flirting with disaster in its “bubble.” What did team owners think would happen?


    Hunter Martin/Getty Images

    or the sports-deprived American discontent with watching Premier League games, last week was something of a reprieve: The National Basketball Association, ensconced in its Orlando bubble, began running scrimmages between 22 invited teams. The National Women’s Soccer League crowned a champion. And Major League Baseball kicked off its 60-game sprint of a regular season. Sports were back!

    Then, on Sunday, as the Miami Marlins wrapped a three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies, news broke that at least four players had tested positive for Covid-19 prior to the game, including the afternoon’s starting pitcher. Despite this, and a report that one player had tested positive as early as Friday, Miami manager Don Mattingly said the team “never really considered not playing” Sunday’s game—a decision they reportedly reached via group text message. By Monday morning, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that two coaches and 11 Marlins players—a full third of the team—tested positive. As a result of the outbreak, Miami’s home-opener against the Baltimore Orioles was canceled, as was the Phillies’ upcoming series against the New York Yankees.

    This was inevitable. It didn’t have to play out at this level of stupidity and danger, but spreading the virus was built in from the start. There is just no way to safely facilitate the amount of travel that a 30-team league like the MLB requires. Mindlessly listening to the familiar noises of an afternoon game might be a nice relief from the past few months of silence—even being able to watch shitty YouTube highlights of half-hearted NBA scrimmages has been amazing, honestly—but that in no way justifies the risk.

    There is, in other words, no good way to restart professional sports in a pandemic. Trying to do it anyway is stupid, selfish, and dangerous. Travel heightens the risk for all involved, and there is no bubble airtight enough. Both versions are ultimately in the pursuit of the same thing—large sums of precious television ad dollars—and the owners behind both leagues are willing to do whatever it takes to get those ad dollars into their pockets.

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  10. Call Trump’s Tactics What They Are: Fascist

    Honest officials have begun to use the “f” word in describing the president’s assaults on American cities and the right to dissent.


    Federal police confront protesters in front of the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse in downtown Portland on July 26, 2020. (Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

    Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul responded appropriately to the news that President Trump intends to dispatch federal agents to Milwaukee, as Trump’s agents continue to create chaos in Portland, Ore.

    Kaul used the “f” word.

    “During this administration, and especially in recent weeks, we have witnessed the president employing fascist tactics,” said Kaul, “including his demonization of immigrants, his attacks on communities with large minority populations and the elected representatives of those communities, the blatantly illegal use of force against protesters near the White House, and the deployment of secret federal police to Portland over the objections of state and local officials.”

    Trump and his apologists claim that the federal forces simply seek to restore order to American cities that have been the scene of mass protests against police violence and systemic racism. Or that they are being deployed to fight crime. But news reports from Portland, where agents have used excessive force against peaceful protesters and arrested people without probable cause, completely undermine those claims.

    Consider, too, that Milwaukee is not just any city but the site of the upcoming Democratic National Convention.

    “Under ordinary circumstances, I would welcome the announcement of additional federal resources to help solve and prevent violent crimes in Wisconsin,” explained the attorney general. “Unfortunately, the Trump administration has made it abundantly clear that it’s happy to politicize law enforcement; the administration’s actions must be met with great skepticism.”

    Kaul’s concern about law enforcement’s politicization has led him to employ the “f” word that so many officials shy away from to describe the actions of an out-of-control president. “I don’t use the phrase ‘fascist tactics’ lightly,” he explained. “But there is no more accurate way to describe this administration’s repeated resort to and incitement of racism, xenophobia, and violence.”

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  11. National Guard Major Calls Assault on D.C. Protesters “Deeply Disturbing”

    The U.S. Park Police chief said there was “zero correlation” between the violent clearing of Lafayette Square and a Trump photo op.


    Law enforcement responds during a protest near Lafayette Square ahead of President Donald Trump’s trip to St. John’s Church on June 1, 2020, in downtown Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

    A National Guard whistleblower told Congress on Tuesday that peaceful protesters were subjected to an “unprovoked escalation and excessive use of force” in Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., last month. On the evening of June 1, officers with the U.S. Park Police and Secret Service used tear gas, riot batons, and smoke devices to clear the square of protesters ahead of a staged photo where President Donald Trump posed in front of nearby St. John’s Church.

    Maj. Adam DeMarco, appointed that evening to act as a liaison officer between the D.C. National Guard and the U.S. Park Police, testified before the House Natural Resources Committee that the events of June 1 were “deeply disturbing” to him, and that he observed the protesters acting peacefully.

    “Having served in a combat zone, and understanding how to assess threat environments, at no time did I feel threatened by the protestors or assess them to be violent,” DeMarco said in his opening statement. “In addition, considering the principles of proportionality of force and the fundamental strategy of graduated responses specific to civil disturbance operations, it was my observation that the use of force against demonstrators in the clearing operation was an unnecessary escalation of the use of force.”

    “Having served in a combat zone … at no time did I feel threatened by the protestors or assess them to be violent.”

    Tuesday’s hearing also featured Acting Park Police Chief Gregory Monahan, who steadfastly insisted that the operation to clear the park was solely intended to put up a security fence around the square, and that it had nothing to do with Trump walking through and posing for a photo op with a Bible just minutes later. “Our focus that day was to install that fencing,” Monahan said. “There is 100 percent zero correlation to our operation and the president’s visit to the church.”

    As the square was being cleared, Trump gave a brief speech in the Rose Garden, saying “As we speak, I am dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults, and the wanton destruction of property.”

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  12. ‘I failed my fellow Americans’: the white women defecting from Trump

    After four years of tumult, there are signs Trump hasn’t been able to hang on to white women in crucial swing states


    A supporter of Donald Trump holds up a sign that reads ‘Women for Trump’ during a campaign rally on 21 February 2020 in Las Vegas. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP

    Donald Trump’s 2016 election win may have been propelled by white working-class men, but another key group in that narrowest of victories was white women with college degrees.

    After heavily favoring Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, enough of these voters broke ranks to help Trump over the line, tipping the balance in crucial states in the midwest and elsewhere.

    In 2020, however, after four years of tumult, there are signs that Trump has not managed to hang on to that constituency.

    “I really failed my fellow American citizens,” said Claudia Luckenbach-Boman. “I’m extremely disappointed in myself, and sometimes I am really afraid to talk about it.

    “If I were to vote again for Donald Trump in 2020, it would be just as much a failure as an American, but also a failure as a human being.”

    Luckenbach-Boman was a 19-year-old college student in November 2016. From a Republican-voting family, she cast her ballot for Trump in Wisconsin, a swing state which he won by just 22,748 votes.

    Voting for her first time, Luckenbach-Boman said she believed Trump, as a political outsider, was the change the US needed. She quickly changed her mind.

    “It was just a few months into his presidency that I realized the biggest mistake I could have made as an American citizen was not informing myself,” Luckenbach-Boman said.

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  13. It’s Shaping Up to Be a Horrific Election Season for Republican Women

    Trump’s reelection is coinciding with trends that might leave the GOP with its least gender-balanced legislature in years.


    Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    Running for Congress as a Republican woman has never been easy. In 2020, it must feel like someone put a hex on your campaign.

    Consider the current outlook in the U.S. Senate, a necessary and increasingly viable target for Democratic control this fall. Four of the nine women who currently occupy Senate seats for the Republican Party are up for reelection this year, and none appear to be better than a slight favorite to win. Iowa’s Joni Ernst and Maine’s Susan Collins, two of the most prominent members in the caucus, have both fallen behind their Democratic rivals in recent polls. Arizona’s Martha McSally is perhaps the most endangered Republican incumbent this cycle, just two years after dropping the state’s other Senate seat in the 2018 midterms. And a special election in Georgia is likely to push out Kelly Loeffler, who has demonstrated no grasp of either electoral strategy or financial rectitude since being controversially appointed in January.

    The peril of their situation suggests that the GOP’s efforts to diversify its ranks are headed for at least a near-term defeat, one made more inescapable by the ordeal of the Trump presidency. It also provides an almost pathetic contrast with the golden hour currently enjoyed by the chamber’s female Democrats, nearly half of whom are or have been in consideration for a place on the presidential ticket.

    Tammy Duckworth, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin, and Maggie Hassan are all at least reasonable contenders to become the next vice president, while Amy Klobuchar and up-and-comer Catherine Cortez Masto have withdrawn from consideration after early buzz. In retrospect, it’s almost shocking that Biden’s vow to pick a female running mate in March was received as something of an inevitability—but really, were you expecting Beto O’Rourke?

    Biden could preemptively commit to choosing a woman for the simple reason that Democrats have vastly outperformed their opponents at recruiting and electing female candidates over the last three decades, affording him an enviable talent pool. When four Democratic women were elected to the Senate in 1992 (two of whom, Patty Murray and Dianne Feinstein, remain there still), the achievement was so incredible that headline writers proclaimed it “the Year of the Woman.” The party has since either replicated or improved upon that performance in 2000, 2012, and 2016.

    Democrats have attained these heights not just by identifying women of uncommon political abilities but also by carefully easing their path to high office with institutional support in the form of money and endorsements. Take Duckworth, who has emerged over the last month as a major foil for the right: She was originally tapped to run for a suburban Chicago seat in 2006 by soon-to-be White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. While Duckworth narrowly lost that race, she was nevertheless rewarded with a plum role in the Obama administration that she subsequently used as a springboard into successful bids for the House and Senate. Along the way, her ascent was promoted by luminaries like Emanuel, Obama, and John Kerry.

    Republicans haven’t invested anything close to that level of time, energy, and resources to assist promising female politicians. Their attempts to counter the organizing juggernaut of Emily’s List have produced only a string of inferior copies—WISH List, Maggie’s List, the Susan B. Anthony List—that their own donors mostly haven’t heard of. This is likely because Republicans are much less inclined to think that the country would be better off with more women in office, as public polling indicates. One 2018 survey found that Republican women were actually more likely than Republican men to prefer a male candidate.

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  14. The Lincoln Project Doesn’t Matter

    This band of anti-Trump conservatives may be viral hitmakers for the moment, but they have nothing to offer America’s future.


    Rick Wilson is one of the minds behind the Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans. Brad Barket/Getty Images

    Many have argued that the Project should be understood as an even more ambitious effort to repair the moral standing of the Republican Party and the conservative movement in general. “The more that liberals refuse to hold right-wing operatives like the Lincoln Project brain trust accountable for their past behavior and contribution to the current state of conservatism in America,” the progressive writer Eoin Higgins recently wrote, “the more we will see the rehabilitation of such ghouls as an ongoing scheme by conservatives to push the Overton window even further right and assume the position of moderation.”

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  15. John Lewis: voice of civil rights leader rings out one final time at lying-in-state

    Late congressman becomes the first black lawmaker to lie in state in the Rotunda of the Capitol


    The Texas congresswoman Sheila Jackson wears a ‘Good Trouble’ face mask in the Rotunda of the US Capitol. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

    John Lewis was a gentle man but a stentorian speechmaker. On Monday, for the last time, his courageous voice echoed in the halls of the Capitol and brought all who heard it to a standstill.

    As the recording of Lewis ended, Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, took her seat and the Rotunda erupted in applause. Then Pelosi rose to her feet again and everyone followed her lead. In a perfect circle, the guests stood and clapped the casket draped in the Stars and Stripes on a black catafalque at their centre.

    They had come to bid farewell to “the conscience of the Congress” who served in the House of Representatives for 33 years. Lewis died on 17 July from pancreatic cancer at the age of 80. On Sunday his remains made one last journey across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where he bled for civil rights in 1965.

    On Monday the casket arrived in Washington and made four poignant stops: the Martin Luther King memorial, the Lincoln Memorial (where he was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington in 1963), the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (a project that is one of his great legacies) and the new Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House, recognising a movement that gave his career exquisite symmetry. Police could be seen saluting the hearse as it went by.

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  16. Opinion

    Kamala Harris’s lack of ‘remorse’ should make her an even stronger candidate for VP


    Former vice president Joe Biden speaks as Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) listens during a Democratic presidential primary debate hosted by CNN in Detroit in July 2019. (Paul Sancya/AP)

    A new report in Politico claims that Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), widely regarded as the front-runner to become Democratic nominee-to-be Joe Biden’s running mate, is coming up against questions of “trust” and whether she could be a “loyal No. 2.”

    Former senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who is helping to lead Biden’s search committee, was reportedly perturbed at Harris’s response when he brought up the fact that, during the first Democratic primary debate, Harris had taken a tough shot at Biden’s past opposition to forced school busing. According to a Politico source:

    “She laughed and said, ‘that’s politics.’ She had no remorse,” Dodd told a longtime Biden supporter and donor, who relayed the exchange to POLITICO on condition of anonymity.

    “Dodd felt it was a gimmick, that it was cheap,” the donor said. The person added that Dodd’s concerns about Harris were so deep that he’s helped elevate California Rep. Karen Bass during the vetting process, urging Biden to pick her because “she’s a loyal No. 2. And that’s what Biden really wants.” Through an aide, Dodd declined to comment. Advisers to Harris also declined to comment.

    The article suggests that some Biden allies fear Trump may “weaponize” (in advertisements) the debate-stage clash between Harris and Biden over his record on busing, which was the most notable moment of her failed bid for the nomination. Since endorsing Biden in March, Harris has campaigned energetically on his behalf.

    This reported anxiety about Harris, however, suggests a different standard for women as running mates. They are apparently supposed to be window-dressing — demure and apologetic.

    I don’t claim to have any special knowledge of where things stand with the vice-presidential selection process. But if Biden were to tap Harris, he would hardly be the first to turn to a rival who had scuffed him up in a primary.

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