Daily Blog for August 2020

Stories on or under the headlines for Aug 21-31

  • Now that the Democratic Convention is over, I’m taking a “news-cation” for the rest of the month. For the best daily news brief anywhere check out the AM Quickie. 7-9 minutes of the most important stories of the day delivered in fun but factual way.

75 thoughts on “Daily Blog for August 2020

  1. Great Work you’re doing here, and with the Music, C.J.
    The Majority Report crew is doing great things as well, too bad about Michael Brooks.

    Lot’s of work dealing with an elderly mother is keeping me from blogging though.
    We moved her back from Tuscon in 3/2019, and then from an Apt., to an assisted living facillity in January. Must deliver additional supplies and food + meds every week.
    What those evil bastards, fascists, traitors, ect. are doing to the U.S.P.S. is an outrage! >:(
    Hang in there bud.

    I still love this guy’s work
    https://www.editorialcartoonists.com/cartoonists/bennec/cartoons/2020-3/page/5/

    -later

  2. A Constitutional Weapon for Biden to Vanquish Trump’s Army of Judges

    Republicans have erected a conservative fortress in the federal judiciary. Our founding documents provide the means to knock it down.


    Mark Makela/Getty Images

    We are now less than 90 days away from an election that President Donald Trump is openly attempting to steal. From that vantage, it may seem premature—bordering on presumptuous—for Democrats to start worrying now about what will happen if Joe Biden wins. But Democrats should worry: Even if voters give Democrats control of Congress and the White House and even if Joe Biden manages to enact the deep reforms needed to stave off economic catastrophe, come to grips with a public health emergency, and begin to root out the rot and corruption in our government, it may be all for naught. A conservative federal judiciary, freshly stocked with over 200 right-wing activist Trump judges, lies in wait.

    Biden has offered ambitious plans to pursue a Second New Deal if elected. If he’s serious, he needs to plan for the near certainty that John Roberts’s Supreme Court will resist in much the same way that a conservative Court undermined Franklin Roosevelt’s original version. Some have recommended court-packing, but there’s a better and perfectly constitutional solution that’s being largely ignored on the left: Congress can strip federal courts of their broad power.

    The Roberts Court could—and, if left to their own devices, likely will—gin up conservative interpretations of the Constitution for the purpose of killing off as much of the Democratic reform agenda as possible. There are a number of plausible scenarios.

    Imagine first that Democrats respond to America’s insane levels of inequality with a wealth tax. That move might be very popular, considering that millions of Americans have been thrown out of work since March while America’s billionaires have gained over $400 billion in wealth. But the Supreme Court would likely strike this down on the grounds that it fails to satisfy the Constitution’s requirement in Article I, section 9, clause 4 that so-called “direct” taxes must be apportioned among the states by population—a standard basically impossible for a wealth tax to meet, as there are so many more rich people per capita in New York than in Mississippi.

    Next, imagine that Democrats try to address corporate influence-peddling in our government by enacting limits on corporate contributions to political campaigns. The Supreme Court would almost certainly eviscerate that law as well, holding that it violates the risible interpretation of the First Amendment in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in which a conservative 5-4 majority held that corporations’ campaign expenditures were as fully protected as any other form of political speech.

    Finally, and perhaps most pressingly, consider the possibility that Democrats will attempt to head off a climate catastrophe by passing legislation that sets limits on carbon dioxide emissions while providing the Environmental Protection Agency with expansive new powers to write rules that hit Congress’s target at the lowest cost. The Supreme Court might dismantle this law too, holding that the Constitution prohibits Congress from delegating its legislative power to administrative agencies.

    You won’t find any such rule in the text of the Constitution. But the prospect of conservative judges wielding a non-delegation scythe to mow down entire fields of federal regulation is nonetheless distressingly real. Conservatives have been agitating for years to cripple the federal government’s power to regulate business by requiring Congress to write into the law every jot and tittle of government regulations rather than, as has been the norm since the 1930s, legislating in broad strokes and relying on experts at administrative agencies like the EPA to fill in the details.

    Republicans have built their recent political strategy around stocking the federal bench with right-wing judges for a reason.

    …but

    The implications of Congress’s Article III power are potentially profound.

    Read more


  3. SEAL Who Shot Bin Laden Faces Ban From Delta Air Lines for Not Wearing Coronavirus Mask

    Robert O’Neill, a coronavirus skeptic who mocks mask-wearing, tweeted a picture of himself on a Delta flight without a face covering.

    The Navy SEAL who claims he killed Osama bin Laden faces a possible ban on Delta Air Lines after he tweeted a photo of himself failing to wear a mask — in contravention of airline policy that all passengers must use face coverings to fight the spread of coronavirus on flights.

    On Wednesday, Robert O’Neill, a former member of SEAL Team 6 who fired several shots into bin Laden during the 2011 raid which killed the al Qaeda leader, tweeted a photo of himself maskless on a plane with what appeared to be a Delta logo on the seats. “I’m not a pussy,” O’Neill wrote in the tweet alongside the photo.

    The tweet was later deleted. A subsequent tweet said O’Neill’s wife took the picture down. Later, O’Neill said it was an “attempt at a joke,” but he has previously tweeted out that airline passengers on a different flight he was on were “sheep” for abiding by the mask requirement. Later in the afternoon, he tweeted, “I am not the bad guy. I killed the bad guy.”
    Join Our Newsletter
    Original reporting. Fearless journalism. Delivered to you.
    I’m in

    Delta Air Lines said O’Neill may face a ban. “We’re aware of this customer’s tweet and are reviewing this event,” a spokesperson for Delta told The Intercept. “All customers who don’t comply with our mask-wearing requirement risk losing their ability to fly Delta in the future. Medical research tells us that wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to reduce the COVID-19 infection rate.”

    A spokesperson for O’Neill did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    In his tweets, O’Neill has repeatedly cast doubt on the seriousness of Covid-19, the virus that has already killed roughly 170,000 Americans since it began spreading in the U.S., and the efficacy of masks — which he has called a “novelty” — in combatting the spread of the virus.

    After serving 16 years in the Navy, O’Neill was fired from his team shortly after the bin Laden raid, after SEAL Team 6 discovered he was frequenting Virginia Beach bars and openly bragging that he was the man who killed bin Laden. The Intercept previously reported that O’Neill has misstated and embellished his role in bin Laden’s death.

    Read more


  4. Spotlight on anti-Trump Republicans at Democratic convention is no fluke

    Joe Biden’s campaign has sought out dissidents to appear at the event as they seek to peel away a sliver of support


    Joe Biden has long prided himself on his friendships across the aisle, including with the late Senator John McCain. Photograph: Matt Rourke/AP

    Democrats are eagerly hoisting rebel Republican politicians opposed to Donald Trump into the national spotlight in an effort to attract dissatisfied conservatives over to their side.

    As the Democratic national convention has unfolded, a wave of Republicans have been given plum speaking slots and high-profile platforms to show their support for former vice-president Joe Biden, the newly minted Democratic nominee for president of the United States.

    On Monday, the former Ohio governor John Kasich, former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman, former Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman and former New York congresswoman Susan Molinari – all Republicans – spoke. On Tuesday, the convention schedule included an endorsement by the former Bush administration secretary of state Colin Powell and a video by Cindy McCain, the widow of the late Arizona senator John McCain. The night also included a video from Chuck Hagel, who served as defense secretary under Barack Obama despite having been a Republican senator for Nebraska.

    “I think they’re just doing old-fashioned coalition building,” said Stuart Stevens, a longtime Republican strategist who is helping lead the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump organization run by Republicans.

    Alabama senator Doug Jones, a moderate Democrat, said the outreach and support from Republicans during the convention is meant to “to get folks comfortable with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris” and show that “that they are not going to lead this country in some socialist agenda”.

    The inclusion of many Republicans during the biggest Democratic summit every four years illustrates the effort the Biden campaign is putting in to woo disgruntled Republican voters over to Biden’s camp.

    “It’s important to let them know they’re not alone,” the Louisiana congressman Cedric Richmond, a Biden campaign co-chairman, said. “It’s OK that there are Republican leaders that vote for Biden-Harris.”

    Polls show Trump maintains a firm grip on most of his party. But, Democrats argue, the rebel politicians could be a gateway to a slice of the American electorate that’s attainable and potentially crucial to Biden ousting Trump from the White House.

    Read more


  5. Dissenting Delegates Send a Medicare for All Message to Joe Biden

    Biden is nominated, but even some of his own delegates say that he should embrace a single-payer response to America’s health-care crisis.


    Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden leads a conversation on health care on the second night of the 2020 Democratic National Convention. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

    On the second night of a Democratic National Convention where party leaders have gone out of their way to foster an image of unity, Democrats nominated Joe Biden for the presidency and then he moderated a discussion about expanding access to health care.

    But a substantial number of dissenting Democratic delegates—including many rising stars from the party’s progressive wing—urged him to make a stronger stand on the issue. The delegates, some of whom were Biden backers, weren’t trying to trip up the nominee’s run against President Trump and the Republicans. They were trying to strengthen it by urging the former vice president and the Democratic Party he now leads to meet the moral and the practical demands of an urgent moment shaped by the coronavirus pandemic and mass unemployment.

    The dissenting Democrats sent their message to Biden by voting “no” on a party platform that fails to make a clear commitment to developing and instituting a single-payer “Medicare For All” health care system. They did not have the critical mass to block the platform. But that did not prevent them from making morally sound and politically practical arguments for the bolder approach that it is supported by 69 percent of all Americans and 88 percent of Democrats.

    “I can’t in good conscience support a platform without Medicare for All,” explained Representative Ro Khanna, a leading progressive in the House who serves as a cochair of the California delegation to the convention. “In this pandemic, millions have lost their jobs and their health coverage. Now is the moment to say health care shouldn’t be dependent on your employment. Health care should be a universal right.”

    Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan explained:

    I constantly hear from constituents demanding we push for a single-payer system and away from this for-profit system that is leaving people to suffer and die just because they cannot afford health care. As a party, we must push for a future where every resident has the ability to thrive. That means we need a platform that works to rid our society of oppression and greed. Unfortunately, in my view this platform does not do enough.

    Read more


  6. Malfunction at Swiss chocolate factory sends out plume of cocoa ‘snow’

    Fine particles dust the ground around Lindt & Spruengli factory in town of Olten after ventilation defect


    A minor defect in the cooling ventilation at the Lindt & Spruengli factory in Olten caused one car to be coated in chocolate snow Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

    A real-life Willy Wonka would have been proud. But residents of a Swiss town got a bit of a shock when it started snowing particles of a fine cocoa powder after the ventilation system at a chocolate factory malfunctioned.

    The Lindt & Spruengli company confirmed local reports on Tuesday that there was a minor defect in the cooling ventilation in an area making roasted “cocoa nibs” in its factory in Olten, between Zurich and Basel.

    The nibs, fragments of crushed cocoa beans, are the basis of chocolate.

    Combined with strong winds on Friday morning, the powder spread around the immediate vicinity of the factory, leaving a fine cocoa dusting.

    The company said one car was lightly coated, and that it has offered to pay for any cleaning needed – but hasn’t yet been taken up on the offer.


    Factory production was able to continue as normal and the company said the particles were completely harmless to people and the environment.

    The ventilation system has now been repaired.

    Read more


  7. US Senate report goes beyond Mueller to lay bare Trump campaign’s Russia links

    Bipartisan intelligence panel says that Russian who worked on Trump’s 2016 bid was career spy, amid a stunning range of contacts


    Donald Trump and his then campaign manager, Paul Manafort, at the Republican national convention in Cleveland in 2016. Photograph: Rick Wilking/Reuters

    A report by the Senate intelligence committee provides a treasure trove of new details about Donald Trump’s relationship with Moscow, and says that a Russian national who worked closely with Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 was a career intelligence officer.

    The bipartisan report runs to nearly 1,000 pages and goes further than last year’s investigation into Russian election interference by special prosecutor Robert Mueller. It lays out a stunning web of contacts between Trump, his top election aides and Russian government officials, in the months leading up to the 2016 election.

    The Senate panel identifies Konstantin Kilimnik as a Russian intelligence officer employed by the GRU, the military intelligence agency behind the 2018 poisoning of the Russian double agent Sergei Skripal. It cites evidence – some of it redacted – linking Kilimnik to the GRU’s hacking and dumping of Democratic party emails.

    Kilimnik worked for over a decade in Ukraine with Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager. In 2016 Manafort met with Kilimnik, discussed how Trump might beat Hillary Clinton, and gave the Russian spy internal polling data. The committee said it couldn’t “reliably determine” why Manafort handed over this information, or what exactly Kilimnik did with it.

    It describes Manafort’s willingness to pass on confidential material to alleged Moscow agents as a “grave counterintelligence threat”. The report dubs Kilimnik part of “a cadre of individuals ostensibly operating outside of the Russian government but who nonetheless implement Kremlin-directed influence operations”. It adds that key oligarchs including Oleg Deripaska fund these operations, together with the Kremlin.

    The investigation found that Kilimnik tweets under the pseudonym Petro Baranenko (@PBaranenko). The account regularly propagates Moscow’s line on international issues, such as the conflict in Ukraine and the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.

    The fact that a Republican-controlled Senate panel established a direct connection between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence makes it harder for Trump and his supporters to allege that the investigation into possible collusion was a “witch-hunt” or “hoax” as the president has repeatedly claimed, in the remaining three months before the election.

    Read more


  8. Democrats Are So Worried About the Postal Service That They Might Finally Do Something

    Too bad they don’t see similar urgency in the millions of unemployed Americans who face another week without $600 in assistance.


    Jim Watson/Getty Images

    There is a growing sense of panic about what is happening to the United States Postal Service, or USPS, as well as the president’s admission that its collapse would aid his election prospects—at least among those praying for President Donald Trump to lose the election. Liberals are understandably frantic about it all; Instagram feeds are replete with posts about buying stamps and calling your member of Congress about saving the post office. The fear has fully penetrated the consciousness of resistance normies all over the nation. Over the weekend, and with her party’s nominating convention looming, Nancy Pelosi addressed the rising alarm by dramatically calling her members back from recess with the intention of passing a bill to prevent any changes to the USPS from its operations.

    The urgency and boldness with which Pelosi is approaching this crisis are interesting, especially in comparison to the fading away of any prospect of unemployed Americans keeping the extra $600 in unemployment benefits they received during the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic, which had kept millions away from the brink of despair and destitution. The fault for that lies, of course, with Republican legislative leaders, who don’t care if poor people live or die. But in politics, if your opponent does something bad and evil, it is generally good and important to make a fuss about that; and it’s hard to raise this sort of fuss if you abandon your posts for a month. As Politico reported on Monday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer had advocated “for the consideration of an economic package,” but Democrats are nevertheless resolved to “keep the focus on the USPS” for the time being.

    If you’ve only been casually following the news in recent days, you might be of the mind that the unemployment relief problem was fixed by President Trump’s executive order last week. You might subsequently surmise that the lack of news about additional talks to extend the benefit in Congress is evidence that everything got sorted out. The executive order supposedly provided for $400 in extra unemployment money for those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, but there are some caveats: The added benefit will actually be only $300 for the vast majority of workers, there is no timeframe as to when they’ll receive this largesse, and there’s only enough money for five weeks’ worth of benefits, which means that the program “could end almost as soon as it begins,” according to The New York Times. Trump’s perfunctory order was a cheap red herring, but it did the job of giving Republicans some amount of cover to stop trying to extend the unemployment sweetener or otherwise pass any new coronavirus relief.

    Obviously, the Republican president and the Republican Senate are to blame for this situation. It is because of their cruel ideology and complete indifference to the poor and their total intransigence, even in the face of a clearly exceptional circumstance, that people won’t get their money. But the world of things that Democrats could have done to make a bigger deal out of this situation and make it harder for Republicans to inflict this damage on the American people is not limited to just pointing out that House Democrats passed their own bill three months ago.

    Read more


  9. Whatever This Is Is Not the Future of the Democratic Party

    Democrats err by amplifying Kasich’s claptrap over AOC’s progressive vision.


    Former Republican Ohio governor John Kasich speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on August 17, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

    John Kasich, the anti-labor, anti-choice former governor of Ohio who finished just a little better than last in the race for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, is convinced that he knows how the Democratic Party should acquit itself in the 2020 presidential campaign. The self-proclaimed “conservative Republican” is equally convinced that he has much more to say to Democrats than the rising star on the party’s left, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

    Unfortunately, a lot of Democrats who are in charge of plotting and planning for the future of the party, seem to share Kasich’s view. While the Republican was accorded plenty of time to speak on Monday evening—in a key slot on the first night of the party’s first virtual convention—AOC has been accorded one minute to address the nation on Tuesday.

    That was fine by Kasich, a relentless self-promoter who used a long five minutes to anoint himself as the Democratic Party’s Republican whisperer. On a night when Americans tuned in to hear former first lady Michelle Obama and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders deliver powerful addresses about the need for structural responses to systemic injustices, Kasich endeavored to assure his conservative compatriots that Biden wouldn’t really implement the changes that are needed in a pandemic moment characterized by mass unemployment. “I’m sure there are Republicans and independents who couldn’t imagine crossing over to support a Democrat,” he chirped, in a gimmicky video that featured the former Fox News host standing at a (literal) crossroads. “They fear Joe may turn sharp left and leave them behind. I don’t believe that because I know the measure of the man.”

    AOC responded, “Something tells me a Republican who fights against women’s rights doesn’t get to say who is or isn’t representative of the Dem party.”

    Read more


  10. Trump calls out New Zealand’s ‘terrible’ Covid surge, on day it records nine new cases

    US president’s discordant comments fail to reflect that 22 people have died from coronavirus in New Zealand, versus 170,000 in US

    Donald Trump has called out New Zealand for its recent Covid-19 outbreak, saying the places the world hailed as a success story is now facing a “big surge” in cases.

    “The places they were using to hold up now they’re having a big surge … they were holding up names of countries and now they’re saying ‘whoops!.

    “Do you see what’s happening in New Zealand? They beat it, they beat it, it was like front-page news because they wanted to show me something,” the US president said at a campaign rally in Mankato, Minnesota.

    “Big surge in New Zealand, you know it’s terrible, we don’t want that, but this is an invisible enemy that should never have been let to come to Europe and the rest of the world by China.”

    On Monday Auckland recorded nine new cases of the virus, and 13 on Tuesday, while the US’s Monday figure was just under 42,000.

    It is the first time Trump has mentioned New Zealand in a campaign speech. On Tuesday, prime minister Jacinda Ardern responded, saying there was “no comparison” between the situation in the US and her country.

    Read more


  11. FedEx and UPS are wary of delivering ballots for November election

    Delays at the Postal Service have led many, including state officials, to consider soliciting private companies to deliver ballots


    Erica Koesler, left, and David Haerle demonstrate outside a Los Angeles post office on Aug. 15. (Chris Pizzello/AP)

    Private express carriers, including UPS, FedEx and Amazon, say they are limited in their ability to step in to deliver election ballots as the U.S. Postal Service signals it will struggle to handle the deluge of mail-in voting this fall.

    There are several impediments to those private delivery services helping out with ballot delivery this fall, including a patchwork of state and local regulations.

    But the concept has gained popular support — especially on social media — after the Postal Service warned 46 states plus the District of Columbia that their long-standing deadlines for requesting, returning or counting ballots were “incongruous” with mail service and that voters who send ballots in close to those deadlines may not have their votes counted. State officials have also considered asking private express carriers to assist with election mail, and urged voters to request and cast their ballots early in the run-up to the November election.

    “Because of the malevolent interference by Donald Trump in the election and destruction of the United States Postal Service, we need all options on the table — private carriers, volunteers, mail carriers, more absentee ballot drop boxes, more poll workers for in-person voting — to ensure every citizen’s vote is counted,” said Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot (D).

    The Postal Service is beset with delays because of policy changes implemented by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a former logistics executive and ally of President Trump. DeJoy banned postal workers from making extra trips to ensure on-time mail delivery and cracked down on overtime hours. Localities across the country have struggled with USPS backlogs of up to a week, hamstringing local businesses and delaying the arrival of crucial mail items, including prescription medications, Social Security checks and bills.

    The Postal Service is in the process of removing 671 high-speed mail-sorting machines nationwide this month, a process that will eliminate 21.4 million items per hour worth of processing capability from the agency’s inventory. On Thursday and Friday, it began removing public collection boxes in parts of California, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Montana. The agency said Friday that it would stop mailbox removals, which it said were routine, until after the election.

    Read more


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.