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. I (still) believe the president, and in the president

    Opinion by
    George T. Conway III

    I believe the president Made America Great Again. I believe we need him reelected to Make America Great Again Again.

    I believe Joe Biden is “Sleepy” and “weak.” I believe Biden could “hurt God” and the Bible.

    I believe that if Biden is elected, there will be “no religion, no anything,” and he would confiscate all guns, “immediately and without notice.” He would “abolish” “our great,” “beautiful suburbs,” not to mention “the American way of life.” There would be “no windows, no nothing” in buildings.

    I believe the news media would have “no ratings” and “will go down along with our great USA!” if the president loses — and that this would be bad even though the media is fake.

    I believe it’s normal for the president to say “Yo Semites” and “Yo Seminites,” “Thigh Land,” “Minne-a-napolis,” “toe-tally-taria-tism,” “Thomas Jeffers” and “Ulyss-eus S. Grant.” I believe it’s Biden who’s cognitively impaired.

    I believe the president “aced” a “very hard” impairment test, and that his “very surprised” doctors found this “unbelievable.” I believe it was “amazing” he remembered five words, such as “person, woman, man, camera, TV” — in correct order. I believe he took the SAT himself.

    George Conway: I believe the president, and in the president

    I believe the president has “a natural ability,” like his “great, super-genius uncle” from MIT, which is why he understands “that whole world” of virology and epidemiology.

    So I believed the president in January and February when he said covid-19 was “totally under control,” that it was Democrats’ “new hoax,” and that he was “not at all” worried about a pandemic. I believed him in March when he said he “felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

    I believe the president and the doctor who believes in demon sperm and the medical use of space alien DNA, and not Anthony S. Fauci, who’s an “alarmist” and “wrong.”

    Read more


  2. ‘Gloriously daft’: Steve Martin at 75 by Sarah Silverman, Lucy Porter, David Baddiel and more

    He’s a master of slapstick, a surrealist clown, the don of comic film roles from Roxanne to The Jerk. As he turns 75, comics including Reginald D Hunter and Rose Matafeo pay tribute to the hilarious majesty of Steve Martin


    The best’ … Steve Martin in The Man With Two Brains. Photograph: Allstar/Sportsphoto/Cinetext Collection

    Sarah Silverman ‘I wrote “I love Steve Martin” on my bedroom ceiling’

    I fell in love with Steve Martin when I was 14. His standup, The Jerk, The Man With Two Brains … I loved him so much that I wrote “I love Steve Martin” on the ceiling of my childhood bedroom – and it’s still there. I read that he loved an artist named David Hockney, so I loved David Hockney. I must have been the only 14-year-old in New Hampshire with all the months of a David Hockney calendar from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts pinned up on my wall. Gorgeous gay men in swimming pools framing the Steve Martin “Best Fishes!” headshot I had sent away for.

    In the past decade or so, I’ve become friendly with him, and he is everything I’d hoped he’d be. Watching his friendship with Martin Short is wildly endearing. They adore each other, just really tickle each other to pieces. To see that admiration between friends, especially comedians – there’s something extra special about it. Like Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks. It’s a love for the ages.

    I’ve been over to Steve’s house a couple of times – after speaking at his American Film Institute celebration and after speaking at Diane Keaton’s. After the one for Diane, we went to Steve’s for grilled cheese and French fries and sat around to post-mortem the night, which, I can tell you confidently, is all comedians’ favourite pastime. Let’s break it all down. Any comic will tell you they would much rather be talking in a diner about life than attend the chicest nightclub. We want to talk.

    Steve took the role of host, starting conversations [chatshow host] Dick Cavett-style. Candice Bergen was there (their gang of friends is SO cool) and Steve said: “Candy, when did you first meet Steve?” And she said: “I’ll never forget, I was with Lorne and Paul, and Steve was there, and he had never tried prosciutto …”

    Steve came in without a beat: “Can you believe it? And now I DRIVE one!”

    And that, my friends, is why Steve Martin is the best.

    Read more


  3. Uber and Lyft must classify drivers as employees, judge rules, in blow to gig economy

    Preliminary injunction in California follows state’s lawsuit against companies over new labor law


    The lawsuit and the injuction are the most significant challenges yet to Uber and Lyft’s business model. Photograph: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

    A California judge has issued a preliminary injunction that would block Uber and Lyft from classifying their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.

    The move on Monday came in response to a May lawsuit filed by the state of California against the companies, which alleged they are misclassifying their drivers under the state’s new labor law.

    That law, known as AB5, took effect on 1 January. The strictest of its kind in the US, it makes it more difficult for companies to classify workers as independent contractors instead of employees who are entitled to minimum wage and benefits. The lack of workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits for drivers has become increasingly urgent during the coronavirus pandemic, as ridership plunges and workers struggle to protect themselves.

    California is the largest market in the US for Uber and Lyft and the state where both companies were founded.

    The lawsuit, and Monday’s injunction, are the most significant challenges to the ride-hailing companies’ business model thus far. Judge Ethan Schulman of the San Francisco superior court delayed enforcing his order by 10 days to give the companies a chance to appeal.

    The court has provided a 10-day stay during which Uber can file an appeal – which the company plans to do immediately, a spokesman told the Guardian. This means the injunction will not have effects on Uber or Lyft’s services, for now.

    “When over 3 million Californians are without a job, our elected leaders should be focused on creating work, not trying to shut down an entire industry during an economic depression,” the Uber spokesman said.

    But in a market of California’s size, such a ruling will undoubtedly have an impact on the industry, she said.

    “This is huge,” said Veena Dubal, an associate professor of law at the University of California, Hastings, who researches the gig economy. “This is the closest in eight years the judiciary has come to enforcing labor rights in the gig economy.”

    Read more


  4. Welcome to Nashville, Where We’re Just Realizing There’s a Pandemic

    After weeks of tourists flocking to the bars on Broadway, the city is finally taking action. But is it enough?


    Following weekends of unchecked partying in Broadway bars, Nashville is finally coming to terms with the pandemic. AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

    Last weekend, in a new building with sweeping views of the city’s skyline in a gentrifying neighborhood in East Nashville, organizers advertised a party on social media dubbed “The V.I.P. Viewing of the Fashion House.” Masks were scarce. Hookahs were plentiful. And bodies by the hundreds packed and writhed in tight. Judging by videos posted to Instagram the next day, Nashville looked like it had opened its own Hedonism resort.

    One out-of-town attendee, who goes by DaddysJuiced, appeared in a video that showed him on his knees with his face burrowed in the ass of a woman. Framed in one of the home’s massive windows, DaddysJuiced did his thing while being gawked at by a long line of people waiting to get inside on the street below.

    Just under three miles away, in Nashville’s Broadway entertainment district, a less analingus-centered though similarly batshit scene was unfolding, one that had been going on for weeks. A sign set up in front of the three-tiered drinking temple Honky Tonk Central flashed, “Wear Mask Its the Law!” but few heeded the punctuation-be-damned mandate. Tourists milled about with masks below their chin, in hand, or without one at all. A photo on social media showed two barefaced bros hoisting beers as they posed for a selfie with Metro Nashville police officers. On the corner of Fifth and Broadway, a stone’s throw from the Ryman Auditorium, a stretch pickup truck ferried drinkers and their red plastic cups into the night.

    Welcome to Nashville during a pandemic, where the party carries on, unabated.


    We should have seen it coming. For nearly 10 years, Nashville has cultivated its image as Las Vegas East (its nickname is NashVegas, after all), a city that advertises itself as a tourist-friendly destination to drink to excess and get rowdy. Romanticized as ground zero for rising country singers who play for tips in overhyped cover bars like Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge and Kid Rock’s Badass Honky Tonk and Rock & Roll Steakhouse, the district on weekends pre-pandemic was typically tense and crowded. The threat of a sucker punch feels imminent. Party buses, wagons pulled by tractors, and mobile hot tubs creep by with drunk tourists crammed inside. It’s a sad hell that not even Kris Kristofferson could envision in a song.

    Read more


  5. Today’s long read

    The Unraveling of America

    Anthropologist Wade Davis on how COVID-19 signals the end of the American era


    The COVID crisis has reduced to tatters the idea of American exceptionalism. Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

    Never in our lives have we experienced such a global phenomenon. For the first time in the history of the world, all of humanity, informed by the unprecedented reach of digital technology, has come together, focused on the same existential threat, consumed by the same fears and uncertainties, eagerly anticipating the same, as yet unrealized, promises of medical science.

    In a single season, civilization has been brought low by a microscopic parasite 10,000 times smaller than a grain of salt. COVID-19 attacks our physical bodies, but also the cultural foundations of our lives, the toolbox of community and connectivity that is for the human what claws and teeth represent to the tiger.

    Our interventions to date have largely focused on mitigating the rate of spread, flattening the curve of morbidity. There is no treatment at hand, and no certainty of a vaccine on the near horizon. The fastest vaccine ever developed was for mumps. It took four years. COVID-19 killed 100,000 Americans in four months. There is some evidence that natural infection may not imply immunity, leaving some to question how effective a vaccine will be, even assuming one can be found. And it must be safe. If the global population is to be immunized, lethal complications in just one person in a thousand would imply the death of millions.

    In a dark season of pestilence, COVID has reduced to tatters the illusion of American exceptionalism. At the height of the crisis, with more than 2,000 dying each day, Americans found themselves members of a failed state, ruled by a dysfunctional and incompetent government largely responsible for death rates that added a tragic coda to America’s claim to supremacy in the world.

    Read more


  6. US passes 5m Covid-19 cases as Joe Biden says pandemic ‘breaks heart’

    US has the highest number of cases and the highest number of deaths in the world as former vice president attacks Donald Trump over coronavirus ‘failures’

    The US on Sunday passed the grim milestone of 5m coronavirus cases, as Donald Trump’s executive orders seeking to break a political impasse over further economic relief were denounced by a Republican as “unconstitutional slop” and Joe Biden accused the president of issuing little more than “excuses and lies”.

    Recriminations have been flying in Washington since talks on further aid for the unemployed and for states struggling with a public health crisis collapsed on Friday.

    Trump intervened on Friday and Saturday, holding press conferences at his luxury golf club in New Jersey, cheered on by well-heeled members crowding close together, a jarring setting amid a pandemic and recession.

    On Sunday, there was loud criticism of the president’s unilateral proposals on reduced federal enhanced unemployment benefits, payroll tax cuts and protection against evictions.

    New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, dismissed Trump’s executive orders as “laughable” and another chapter in the federal government’s botched response to the pandemic.

    Cuomo said Trump’s plan would likely cost New York state $4 billion: “The concept of saying to states, you pay 25%t of the insurance, is just laughable,” he said. “It’s just an impossibility. So none of this is real on the federal side. This is going to have to be resolved.”

    The New York governor said he didn’t know if Trump was “genuine in thinking the executive order is a resolution or if this is just a tactic in the negotiation. But this is irreconcilable for the state. And I expect this is just a chapter in the book of Washington Covid mismanagement.”

    Trump’s plan encroaches on Congress’s control of federal spending, drawing claims it is illegal, as well as accusations of his proposals being unworkable and failing to address the most pressing financial hardships facing American families.

    “These are illusions,” Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, told Fox News Sunday.

    Read more


  7. The health care scare

    I sold Americans a lie about Canadian medicine. Now we’re paying the price.


    (Mark Pernice for The Washington Post)

    In my prior life as an insurance executive, it was my job to deceive Americans about their health care. I misled people to protect profits. In fact, one of my major objectives, as a corporate propagandist, was to do my part to “enhance shareholder value.” That work contributed directly to a climate in which fewer people are insured, which has shaped our nation’s struggle against the coronavirus, a condition that we can fight only if everyone is willing and able to get medical treatment. Had spokesmen like me not been paid to obscure important truths about the differences between the U.S. and Canadian health-care systems, tens of thousands of Americans who have died during the pandemic might still be alive.
    Wendell Potter @wendellpotter is a former vice president of Cigna who became a whistleblower against the health insurance industry. He serves as president of the Center for Health and Democracy.

    In 2007, I was working as vice president of corporate communications for Cigna. That summer, Michael Moore was preparing to release his latest documentary, “Sicko,” contrasting American health care with that in other rich countries. (Naturally, we looked terrible.) I spent months meeting secretly with my counterparts at other big insurers to plot our assault on the film, which contained many anecdotes about patients who had been denied coverage for important treatments. One example was 3-year-old Annette Noe. When her parents asked Cigna to pay for two cochlear implants that would allow her to hear, we agreed to cover only one.

    Clearly my colleagues and I would need a robust defense. On a task force for the industry’s biggest trade association, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), we talked about how we might make health-care systems in Canada, France, Britain and even Cuba look just as bad as ours. We enlisted APCO Worldwide, a giant PR firm. Agents there worked with AHIP to put together a binder of laminated talking points for company flacks like me to use in news releases and statements to reporters.

    While it’s true that Canadians sometimes have to wait weeks or months for elective procedures (knee replacements are often cited), the truth is that they do not have to wait at all for the vast majority of medical services. And, contrary to another myth I used to peddle — that Canadian doctors are flocking to the United States — there are more doctors per 1,000 people in Canada than here. Canadians see their doctors an average of 6.8 times a year, compared with just four times a year in this country.

    Read more (pdf)


  8. The Mask Wars Reveal the Feeble State of the Right-Wing Culture War Machine

    Conservatives have predictably tried to turn face masks into a pseudo-populist culture war issue. But the people aren’t buying it: new polling shows a solid majority of Americans support enforcing tough mask mandates — once again exposing the Right’s waning popular appeal.


    President Donald Trump holds up his face mask during a press conference at the White House on July 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

    The coronavirus pandemic may be a time of uncertainty, but the Right’s reaction to it has been all-too-predictable. Despite a considerable body of scientific research showing that masks dramatically reduce the possibility of transmission, a less than negligible niche of conservative figures has agitated against them — in some cases resorting to theatrics that defy belief.

    In June, a Republican councilman in Scottsdale, Arizona grabbed headlines by organizing a rally in protest against mask mandates throughout Maricopa County and shouting, “I can’t breathe” before tearing off his mask in front of the assembled crowd. Speaking at the rally, a Republican candidate for the US senate described local mask mandates as a “communist insurrection.” It’s just one example among many, but similar actions have regularly made the news thanks to the apparently widespread right-wing impulse to make mask-wearing yet another front in America’s perpetually exhausting culture war. A good deal of it has probably flowed in top-down fashion from Donald Trump himself, who only recently shifted his rhetoric on masks after months of trying to downplay their effectiveness.

    As prominent as the mask debate has been, however, new polling suggests that a solid majority of Americans not only support mask mandates but want aggressive action from political authorities to legislate and enforce them. According to the poll, conducted by NPR and Ipsos between July 30–31 and sampling more than a thousand American adults, some 76 percent favor state laws requiring the use of masks in public at all times. Strong majorities also support the expansion of free government-funded COVID-19 testing, increased federal funding for the manufacture of protective equipment, and a free-of-charge vaccine for all should one become available. Strikingly, the poll found that each of these proposals enjoys majority support among both Republicans and Democrats.

    Few, on the other hand, believe that the United States is dealing with the pandemic particularly well. Two-thirds of respondents, in fact, ranked America’s response behind other countries’ — a less than negligible 41 percent deeming it “much worse.” Though there are undoubtedly many reasons for Donald Trump’s currently perilous poll numbers, the new data from NPR and Ipsos suggests his administration’s haphazard and negligent handling of the pandemic is seriously undermining his reelection chances — and putting him firmly on the wrong side of public opinion.

    Beyond November’s presidential election, it also suggests lawmakers have plenty of room to maneuver when it comes to putting together a much more aggressive federal response. New legislation introduced by Bernie Sanders, for example, would leverage the Defense Production Act to manufacture and distribute three reusable masks to every American at no cost. It’s the kind of commonsensical measure the Trump administration and its culture war proxies have hitherto resisted, but one that would undoubtedly save lives — and enjoy widespread, bipartisan public support in the electorate.

    Article published in its entirety


  9. Thousands of bikers heading to South Dakota rally to be blocked at tribal land checkpoints

    Clampdown comes as fears mount that mask-free bikers headed to large gathering could spread coronavirus to tribal groups


    Motorcyclists drive down Main Street during the 80th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on Friday in Sturgis, South Dakota. Photograph: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

    Thousands of bikers heading to South Dakota’s 10-day Sturgis Motorcycle Rally will not be allowed through Cheyenne River Sioux checkpoints, a spokesman for the Native American group said on Saturday.

    The decision to prevent access across tribal lands to the annual rally, which could attract as many as 250,000 bikers amid fears it could lead to a massive, regional coronavirus outbreak, comes as part of larger Covid-19 prevention policy. The policy has pitted seven tribes that make up the Great Sioux Nation against federal and state authorities, which both claim the checkpoints are illegal.
    ‘It’s just madness’: bikers throng South Dakota town despite Covid threat
    Read more

    A duty officer for the Cheyenne River Sioux told the Guardian on Saturday that only commercial and emergency vehicles will be let through the checkpoints onto reservation land.

    A number of bikers had tried to enter but had been turned back, they said. Other reservations in the region, including the Oglala Sioux, were also turning away bikers that had attempted routes to Sturgis that pass through sovereign land.

    Under Cheyenne River tribal guidelines non-residents driving non-commercial out-of-state vehicles are never allowed through the reservation. During the rally, non-commercial vehicles with South Dakota plates are also not allowed through.

    The clampdown comes as fears mount that mask-free bikers visiting Sturgis for the largest gathering of people since the start of the Covid-19 epidemic could spread the virus to tribal groups that are already experiencing a rise in cases.

    Oglala Sioux recorded 163 cases last week, while the Cheyenne River Sioux has seen cases rise to 79, according to the tribe’s website.

    The restrictions come as local law enforcement reported a convergence of bikers from all directions. According to reports, many bikers heading for Sturgis expressed defiance at rules and restrictions that have marked life during the coronavirus pandemic.

    While South Dakota has fared better than most states – it ranks 38th in Covid deaths per capita, according to a Reuters tally – cases have risen in recent weeks as hotspots move into the midwest.

    During the rally, people are expected to cram bars and pack concerts with at least 34 acts playing. “Screw COVID,” read the design on one T-shirt on sale. “I went to Sturgis.”

    Read more


  10. Don’t Blame Never Trumpers for the Left’s Defeat

    Anti-Trump conservatives didn’t bring down Bernie Sanders. There are other forces pulling the Democratic Party to the center.


    *Representative James Clyburn helped deliver South Carolina for Joe Biden in the state’s primary in February. *

    The failure of Bernie Sanders to take control of the Democratic Party in the 2020 primaries was understandably traumatic for the American left. Having rapidly ascended from seeming irrelevance to surging media attention and organizing in just a few years, many democratic socialists convinced themselves that their moment had come.

    Sanders’s loss to—of all people—Joe Biden, therefore, came as a kind of cosmic joke. How could it possibly be that a near-octogenarian, whose greatest legislative achievements were pro-creditor bankruptcy reform and the 1994 crime bill, would defeat the left?

    There was an obvious explanation, of course. If you’re looking for the person who stopped the Democratic Party’s movement to the left in 2020, that man is Congressman Jim Clyburn. It was South Carolina, under Clyburn’s leadership, that turned the tide, and it was the stubborn support of Biden by the older, more Southern, more church-going parts of the African American community that denied Sanders the nomination.

    But for the democratic socialists working to make sense of Sanders’s loss, there must be a more psychologically comforting culprit. Yale professor Samuel Moyn, in his recent review in The New Republic of our book Never Trump, thinks he has found one: Republican opponents of Donald Trump. Moyn writes that “Sanders’s decline had many causes, including his own mistakes, but it definitely mattered that the Never Trump script treated him as mirror image of Trump, and as equally perilous for ‘democracy’—and that many a liberal embraced this idea.” Yet he provides little actual evidence that the Never Trumpers “mattered” other than his assertions of their media influence. A few talking heads on cable TV seems like a strange explanation for the behavior of largely African American voters in Greenville and Beaufort, which, given the rhythm of the primary, is the thing to be explained. The Never Trumpers may make an appealing scapegoat for the left, but the far more obvious explanation for Sanders’s loss is the simple fact that the Democratic Party is just not composed of enough voters (including, but not limited to, African Americans) willing to provide a majority for democratic socialism, at least in larger turnout elections.

    Their obsessive focus on character may, in fact, be a fatal flaw in the Never Trumpers, causing them to devote inordinate time to the president’s manifest defects rather than developing alternative ideas and policies for a non-Trumpy faction within the Republican party.

    Read more


  11. Today’s long read

    Silicon Valley’s Vast Data Collection Should Worry You More Than TikTok

    Practically everything TikTok critics and China hawks say about the country’s data collection applies to the United States and its tech firms, too. We should be finding ways to protect privacy and free speech from governments and corporations everywhere — including our own.


    TikTok US launch celebration in Los Angeles, 2018. (Joe Scarnici / Getty Images)

    The fact is that everything people fear TikTok and the Chinese government are doing or someday will do is already being done by a host of other tech giants and governments. The only difference is, they happen to be situated in Western countries.

    The mass collection of personal data? As commentators note (even those critical of the app), Tik Tok doesn’t appear to do anything “over and above the prying data grabs typical of all social media platforms.” Several experts told Wired the app’s data collection is in the same ballpark as other apps. Even ProtonMail, which does argue TikTok’s collection is more extreme than other social media platforms, suggests others are little better. “How much user data does TikTok collect?” it asks. “As with just about every social media platform, the answer is: ‘a lot.’”

    This is nothing to be sanguine about. From your web browser, to your email, to your various social media accounts, to your phone, to its most innocuous-seeming apps, your lives are being constantly tracked, documented, and packaged, often for advertisers and corporations. If you’ve shelled out for any of the newfangled “smart” products, you’re having data about your most intimate life harvested.

    It was only two years ago we found out Facebook allowed, through its lax data protections, one single app to harvest the data of 87 million users, including their work history and political vies, even though only 270,000 downloaded the app.

    This is the same company that once secretly experimented with its users’ moods and emotions. Worse, it’s becoming increasingly clear that, whatever steps we take to protect our privacy, we likely can’t stop companies from collecting our private information.

    Read entire article as pdf


  12. ‘The Squad keeps getting bigger’: progressive Democrats see wave of victories

    Wins mark a dramatic shift from the spate of losses the progressive wing suffered over the last year


    Cori Bush poses for a portrait in St Louis, Missouri, on 5 August. Photograph: Lawrence Bryant/Reuters

    Progressive Democrats are enjoying a wave of victories in federal primaries across the country with some especially notable triumphs for Black activist candidates.

    Those successes, candidates and strategists say, are due to a mixture of broad energy from the Black Lives Matter movement, failure of conventional policy remedies to meet the moment and a rock-solid infrastructure of progressive organizations.

    The latest victory came in Missouri on the same night the state voted to expand Medicaid – a longtime liberal goal. Cori Bush, a liberal activist and registered nurse, defeated the 10-term congressman William Lacy Clay in the Democratic primary.

    A few days later Marquita Bradshaw, an environmental justice activist, became the first Black woman to win the Democratic party’s nomination in Tennessee. In the process of Bradshaw’s surprise victory she defeated James Mackler, the preferred candidate of Senate Democrats’ national campaign arm.

    Both candidates ran on positions familiar to the progressive community: racial justice, Medicare for All and environmental justice. The victories by the candidates, both Black women, are the latest in a strong of upsets liberals have enjoyed this year.

    “People are ready to see Black women lead,” Bush said in an interview on Friday. “Ready for there to be parity, for more women to be going into Congress.”

    In New York, the progressive favorite Jamaal Bowman ousted 16-term congressman Eliot Engel, the chairman of the House foreign affairs committee. The Michigan congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a member of the informal group of progressive firebrands known as “the Squad”, also survived a contentious primary fight with another local Democrat.

    All together the victories mark a dramatic shift from the spate of losses the progressive wing of the Democratic party has suffered over the last year, including the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders’ crushing defeat in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary after a brief period of being the frontrunner.

    The victories are also much-needed comfort for the progressive wing, which will probably have complaints with whoever former vice-president Joe Biden picks as his running mate.

    I think there are going to be a lot more people that are coming in governing in a way that is undeniably and unapologetically progressive Maya Rupert – former campaign manager for Democrat Julián Castro’s

    These victories are a sign of hope in our country, that the people still have the power to change the course of our nation. Ihssane Leckey – running to replace Congressman Joe Kennedy

    Read more


  13. I was a Republican, and I drew my red line too late. I’ll answer for my choices for years to come.

    Beth Fukumoto served three terms in the Hawaii House of Representatives and is a fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.


    wrsi.com

    I rehearsed the words over and over from the back of the black sedan, hired to take me from my red-eye flight to an event at the Republican National Committee headquarters: “We are committed to electing candidates who reflect the full diversity of our nation.”

    It was June 2013. I had come from my home state to D.C., to do one job — announce a $6 million investment from the Republican Party to support candidates of color and women running at the state level.

    This initiative was one of many meant to change the course of the GOP following its defeat in the 2012 presidential campaign and the subsequent release of its what-went-wrong report, known as the “Growth and Opportunity Project.”
    AD

    Without a more inclusive message, better representation, less ideological rigidity, and compassionate immigration and economic policies, the report warned, Republicans would continue to lose national elections. It described a party I wanted to help build.

    Over the next year, I recruited people to a party that promised diversity, dialogue and the chance to reimagine its foundation. I wanted a government that would be responsible with its power and judicious in its interventions, a leveler when our systems became unbalanced.

    Sign up for The Odds newsletter for election updates from data columnist David Byler

    Instead, that party nominated a president who sends federal forces to tame American cities yet refuses to use the power of his office to coordinate an effective response to the novel coronavirus.

    There are only so many ways to say, “I was wrong.” I’ve exhausted them all.

    As the Republican leader in the Hawaii House, I made compromises that I regret. I spoke out when our presidential candidate said he might have supported Japanese American internment, but I couldn’t find the courage to question the implementation of voter identification laws that I should have understood weren’t designed to protect voters.

    Read pdf -whole story


  14. The Problem With MSNBC Isn’t That It’s Too Liberal

    It’s that it’s not very good.


    Theo Wargo/Getty Images for NBC

    Public departures have been one of the biggest media stories of the summer. The New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss walked off the job in July, claiming the newspaper was now being edited by woke Twitter users. Andrew Sullivan used his last New York column to assert that he was being let go because his coworkers didn’t like him. (Sullivan’s departure occurred amid larger layoffs at Vox Media, which owns New York.) Earlier this week, MSNBC producer Ariana Pekary said goodbye to the “liberal” cable news network because its single-minded pursuit of ratings (and the advertising dollars that follow) “stokes national division” and “blocks diversity of thought.”

    Pekary ended her post by writing, “More than ever, I’m craving a full and civil discourse.” This was catnip for conservative media and other opponents of “cancel culture,” which turned a short blog post by a hitherto unknown journalist into a multi-day smorgasbord of content. Here was proof that what liberals have been saying about Fox News for years was also true about MSNBC. It was proof that the left is more concerned with coddling its own than pursuing the truth. As one senior producer quoted by Pekary said, “Our viewers don’t really consider us the news. They come to us for comfort.”

    Pekary posted a follow-up a day later underlining that she felt economic pressure, not ideological commitments, was ruining cable news. But at that point, it was too late: Her resignation had already become chum.

    What’s striking about Pekary’s letter, however, isn’t what it says about the news media in 2020. It doesn’t say anything about MSNBC or cable news that wasn’t also true two decades ago. It’s like a Jon Stewart bit without the humor: Cable news is simply not incentivized to be informative. In the social media era, when people can switch their attention at any point, this situation has gotten even worse, encouraging networks to turn their viewers into partisan junkies who don’t change the channel because they need a fix that tells them they’re right about everything (and that the other side is wrong).

    No one could deny MSNBC’s turn toward the conspiratorial in the Trump era. During the Mueller investigation, Rachel Maddow at times went full Glenn Beck, to the point that you almost expected her to start scribbling on a blackboard. The network’s overheated analysis of every turn in that investigation, big and small, led its captive audience to believe that the special prosecutor was about to uncover something huge. As Jacob Bacharach wrote in The New Republic last year, MSNBC has “the strange simultaneity common to prestige TV: It is at once vast and circumscribed. A wider world intrudes, but the same central heroes and villains show up, week after week.”

    When it did finally arrive, the Mueller report was damning: It showed that the president had obstructed justice on a number of occasions; that his campaign had played footsie with Russian intelligence; that the president himself was corrupt to the core and contemptuous of the American legal system. But compared to what was being primed on MSNBC—collusion, intrigue, Putin!—it failed to live up to the hype. Beltway pundits dismissed it as thin soup. MSNBC had helped set impossible expectations, and the public, rather than being horrified by what had happened, shrugged. The made-for-TV version was better.

    But that doesn’t mean MSNBC is the Fox News of the left. It just means it’s not very good. Surveying MSNBC’s offerings in 2014, Jason Linkins wrote in The Baffler that the network had made the “incessant production of insidery ideations the premium brand of televisual discourse on politics—instead of, say, the service of the public trust in an honest and equitable way.” Go back another ten years, and you could make a similar critique. Stewart’s famous line about cable news punditry “hurting America” was dropped like a bomb on CNN’s Crossfire but could just have easily been applied to MSNBC’s Hardball. Indeed that show, hosted by the recently exiled Chris Matthews, is a fine stand-in for the network as a whole—a show that always privileged the inane over the substantive and partisan conflict over rigorous inquiry.

    Pekary’s post was taken as evidence that MSNBC is following Fox News into the gutter—or at least leading guileless hashtag-resistance rubes into the partisan fever swamps. Others want it to show that America’s media is growing more hostile toward intellectual diversity. In reality, the letter is more akin to being shocked that there is gambling going on in the casino. If only Pekary had the same sense of irony as Claude Rains.

    Entire Article is above. PDF at the link


  15. How Not to Lose the Lockdown Generation

    Lessons from the New Deal point the way forward in the era of Covid-19.


    Civilian Conservation Corps recruits arrive to set up their first reforestation work camp at Powell’s Fort, Va., on April 18, 1933. Photo: New York Times Co./Getty Images

    Picture this: You live in rural Arkansas and tragedy strikes. A family member has fallen ill with that contagious respiratory illness that has already killed so many — but you don’t have enough space in your small home to quarantine them in a room of their own. Your relative’s case doesn’t appear to be life-threatening, but you are terrified that their persistent cough will spread the illness to more vulnerable family members. You call the local public health authority to see if there is room in local hospitals, and they explain that they are all stretched too thin with emergency cases. There are private facilities, but you can’t afford those.

    Related
    Escape From the Nuclear Family: Covid-19 Should Provoke a Rethink of How We Live

    Not to worry, you are told: A crew will be by shortly to set up a sturdy, well-ventilated, portable, tiny house in your yard. Once installed, your family member will be free to convalesce in comfort. You can deliver home-cooked meals to their door and communicate through open windows — and a trained nurse will be by for regular examinations. And no, there will be no charge for the house.

    This is not a dispatch from some future functional United States, one with a government capable of caring for its people in the midst of spiraling economic carnage and a public health emergency. It’s a dispatch from this country’s past, a time eight decades ago when it similarly found itself in the two-fisted grip of an even deeper economic crisis (the Great Depression), and a surging contagious respiratory illness (tuberculosis).

    Yet the contrast between how U.S. state and federal government met those challenges in the 1930s, and how they are failing so murderously to meet them now, could not be starker. Those tiny houses are just one example, but they are a revelatory one for the sheer number of problems those humble structures attempted to solve at once.

    Known as “isolation huts,” the little clapboard houses were distributed to poor families in several states. Small enough to fit on the back of a trailer, they had just enough space for a bed, chair, dresser, and stove, and were outfitted with large screened-in windows and shutters to maximize the flow of fresh air and sunshine — considered essential for TB recovery.

    Read more


  16. New York attorney general sues to shut down NRA, alleging ‘brazen illegality

    * Letitia James alleges leaders used NRA as ‘personal piggy bank’
    * Lawsuit claims money helped to pay for trips and private jets

    New York’s attorney general has sued to dissolve the National Rifle Association (NRA), alleging that senior leaders used the powerful gun lobby group as their “personal piggy bank” and illegally diverted millions of dollars from its charitable work.

    Letitia James alleged that NRA leaders diverted funds to pay for family trips to the Bahamas and private jets, which contributed to a $64m reduction in the balance sheet in three years, turning a surplus into a deficit. She called for the organization’s leader, Wayne LaPierre, to be removed from his post.

    “The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets,” James said at a press conference on Thursday.

    The NRA “has operated as a breeding ground for greed, abuse and brazen illegality,” she said, adding: “No one is above the law.”

    LaPierre and three other current and former senior members of the organization are named in the 164-page civil lawsuit, along with the organization as a whole. James asked New York’s court to force the executives to repay NRA members based on the findings in her investigation.

    The NRA, which has about 5 million members, has been registered as a not-for-profit in New York since 1871. Under state law, charitable organizations are required to file financial reports to the state and to use their assets to serve the interests of their membership.

    The NRA president, Carolyn Meadows, said the lawsuit was a “baseless, premeditated attack” on the organization. She cast it as a politicized attack by a Democratic state attorney general on conservatives and the constitution’s second amendment, which enshrines the right to bear arms.

    Read more


  17. Time for Some #WearADamnMask Politics

    The only sane response to Republican insanity is for Democrats to promote an in-your-face—and on-your-face—public health agenda in 2020.


    N95 respiratory masks. (Faizzamal / Shutterstock)

    Madison, Wisc.—Wisconsin is the most politically divided state in the country. It has one Democratic Senator and one Republican. It has a Democratic governor and a Republican legislature. It gave Donald Trump 47.22 percent of the vote in 2016 to 46.45 for Hillary Clinton.

    So it shouldn’t come as a surprise then that Wisconsin is one of the biggest battlegrounds in the fight over the “issue” that shouldn’t even be an issue: whether to wear a mask in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

    Until last week, Wisconsin was the only state with a Democratic governor that did not have a mask mandate.

    Why? It’s not because Governor Tony Evers, a 68-year-old former science teacher, does not recognize the need for masks.

    It’s because every time Evers tries to advance a public-health mandate, the Republican-controlled legislature moves to upend it—and the right-wing judicial activists on the state Supreme Court side with the ghouls who control the state Assembly and state Senate.

    As they do on so many issues, nationally and in Wisconsin, Democrats find themselves in the surreal position of being told that they are against “freedom” because they want to save lives.

    Read more


  18. This Is How Trump Will Try to Take Down Kamala Harris

    Are the Democrats ready for grotesque attacks about the senator’s ex-boyfriend Willie Brown?


    Samuel Corum/Getty Images

    Biden’s search for a running mate is getting messier by the day. Over the last few elections, vice presidential candidates have been announced just days before the party conventions, so the pace of Biden’s selection process seems to be well within, if not ahead of, precedent. Still, the squabbling over the pick this time around has been highly visible and fraught. We can credit that partially to petty intra-party politics. But there’s also a sense among Democrats that Biden’s choice could be pivotal, given his age and the likelihood that Trump will turn attention to the other half of the ticket if his attacks on Biden continue to fail.

    The conservative press has spent the past few weeks dredging up material to deepen Democratic anxieties. Representative Karen Bass, a fast-rising contender, has had to explain past remarks on Cuba and the Church of Scientology. Former national security adviser Susan Rice’s role in the Benghazi pseudo-scandal has been resurfaced. Meanwhile, Senator Kamala Harris remains a top-tier candidate, if not the frontrunner, for reasons that have been obvious since the selection process began: She’s conventionally experienced, she’s built a large national profile and political network, and she would satisfy Democratic voters and leaders who want Biden to pick a woman of color. This is not to say that she’s escaped recent scrutiny. Her lack of remorse over the criticisms she leveled at Biden during the primary has reportedly convinced some in the campaign that she’s an inauthentic striver more interested in succeeding Biden than supporting him. Harris’s defenders have countered that slights against her ambition reflect a sexist double standard.

    It’s doubtful that this conversation would be electorally important if Harris were chosen. Voters are used to seeing the critics of primary candidates reverse themselves once those candidates are nominated. As a Biden-Harris campaign would surely point out, the very same thing happened with Mike Pence in 2016. It also seems unlikely that the criticisms Harris received from the left during the primaries will matter much either; Trump, invested in the message that Democrats are dangerously soft on crime, won’t have much of an incentive to highlight her prosecutorial record.

    But there is one thing about Harris’s past that Trump and the right are almost certain to focus on if she’s chosen.

    Read more


  19. Ted Cruz’s Hearing on Anarchist Protest Violence Was a Total Farce

    Cruz kept mentioning Democrats’ failure to condemn a murder that was actually carried out by the far right — and refused to be corrected.


    Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, at Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 4, 2020. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

    On Tuesday afternoon, with Congress still failing to agree on an urgent pandemic relief package, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, brought together a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee to propagandize. Instead of helping the pandemic-stricken, Cruz chaired an hourslong spectacle of a hearing designed to peddle misleading narratives about anarchists and anti-fascists.

    If the propagandistic title of the hearing — “The Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble: Protecting Speech by Stopping Anarchist Violence” — wasn’t enough to show his aims, Cruz’s own comments made clear the proceedings’ purpose as political theater. In a telling moment, Cruz twice chastised his Democratic colleagues for praising peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters while failing to condemn “antifa” and the “terrorists” who killed a federal security officer, Dave Patrick Underwood, during a May protest in Oakland. Cruz’s implication was clear: The left killed Underwood.

    Right-wing extremists have carried out 329 murders since 1994. In the same period, a grand total of zero murders have been attributed to antifa participants.

    Yet Underwood was killed by a member of the far right — one of 329 murders carried out by right-wing extremists since 1994.

    In the same period, a grand total of zero murders have been attributed to antifa participants.

    The political affiliations of the man charged in Underwood’s murder have been public knowledge for nearly two months. The alleged killer, Air Force Sgt. Steve Carillo, who also killed another federal officer during the premeditated ambush, is an open adherent of the boogaloo movement, which is aimed at hastening a second civil war.

    Read more


  20. em>

    Facebook removes Trump post over false Covid-19 claim for first time

    Video in which Trump wrongly said kids were ‘almost immune’ from illness also prompted Twitter to ban president’s re-election campaign account


    Facebook has removed a post from Donald Trump’s page. Photograph: Debarchan Chatterjee/Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

    Facebook has removed a post from Donald Trump’s page for spreading false information about the coronavirus, a first for the social media company that has been harshly criticized for repeatedly allowing the president to break its content rules.

    The post included video of Trump falsely asserting that children were “almost immune from Covid-19” during an appearance on Fox News. There is evidence to suggest that children who contract Covid-19 generally experience milder symptoms than adults do. However, they are not immune, and some children have become severely ill or died from the disease.

    “This video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from Covid-19 which is a violation of our policies around harmful Covid misinformation,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

    The Twitter account for Trump’s re-election campaign, @TeamTrump, also posted the video, which Twitter said violated its rules. “The account owner will be required to remove the Tweet before they can Tweet again,” a company spokesperson said of @TeamTrump.

    During a press briefing on Wednesday afternoon, Trump repeated his false claims about children and the disease.

    The removals are the latest in a recent string of enforcement actions by social media platforms against the president over violating content rules related to misinformation, hate speech and threats of violence.

    Trump’s presidential campaign and tenure in office have been defined by his aggressive use of social media platforms to spread racism, xenophobia, threats and misinformation. For years, the US-based social media platforms that enabled his broadcasts were hesitant to enforce their own rules against him.

    But the combined crises of the coronavirus pandemic and widespread civil unrest over the police killing of George Floyd appear to have inspired greater resolve among social media executives, with Twitter and Twitch taking action against Trump for threatening protesters, spreading misinformation about voting and, in Twitch’s case, using hate speech.

    Read more


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