What Now?! – June 12, 2020

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Thursday that shutting down the economy for a second time to combat the spread of Covid-19 isn’t a viable option and could cause even more headaches for Americans.

Said Mnuchin: “We can’t shut down the economy again. I think we’ve learned that if you shut down the economy, you’re going to create more damage. And not just economic damage, but there are other areas and we’ve talked about this: medical problems and everything else that get put on hold. I think it was very prudent what the president did, but I think we’ve learned a lot.”

Meanwhile, the Trump administration said on Wednesday that it plans to keep the identities of more than 4.5 million businesses that received a government bailout through the Paycheck Protection Program a secret.

The lack of transparency is a stark break from the past. Normally, the Small Business Administration discloses the names of borrowers from the program on which it based PPP, The Washington Post reports.

But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in testimony before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, said his department considered that information “proprietary” and “confidential.”

That secrecy extends even to internal attempts at government oversight. The Government Accountability Office, which is supposed to brief Congress on whether COVID-19 relief funds are being distributed as intended, says the Treasury has refused to give the agency the names of recipients.

“Unconscionable, jaw-dropping corruption,” tweeted Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, in response to the news.

The Labor Department reports another 1.54 million Americans filed jobless claims last week, CNBC reports. The total over the last 12 weeks is now 44.2 million.

The DOW had its worse day since March, dropping over 1800 points in a single day, due to fears over a renewed COVID-19 spike in cases and bad unemployment numbers.

New York Times: “As the pandemic’s grim numbers continue to climb — more than 112,000 dead as of Wednesday and warnings from Arizona that its hospitals could be full by next month — Mr. Trump and lawmakers in both parties are exhibiting a short attention span.”

“But there seems to be a tacit agreement between the parties: Democrats have largely stopped harping on social distancing, while Mr. Trump plans to resume his political rallies — first in Oklahoma, Florida, Arizona and North Carolina — and Republicans refrain from shaming protesters over shedding pandemic precautions.”

“The country’s top military official apologized on Thursday for taking part in President Trump’s walk across Lafayette Square for a photo op after authorities used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear the area of peaceful protesters,” the New York Times reports.

Said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley: “I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics. As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from and I sincerely hope we all learn from it.”

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, discussed resigning amid criticism over his participation in President Trump’s controversial photo op at a Washington church, NBC News reports.

He should have.

President Trump’s first campaign rally in months will occur on what’s known as Juneteenth Day, when many Americans commemorate the end of slavery, in a city that was home to an infamous 1921 massacre of black people, one of the worst racial atrocities in the nation’s history, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Anthony Scaramucci: “Trump’s decision to hold a rally in Tulsa, the location of the single worst incident of racial violence in American history, on Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the freeing of slaves, is abhorrent and a wink at his racist supporters. He doesn’t even need votes in Oklahoma.”

Chris Cillizza: “Its hard not to see this as intentional by the Trump campaign.”

“As President Trump moves to resume indoor campaign rallies, his campaign has added a twist to his optimistic push to return to life as it was before the pandemic: Attendees cannot sue the campaign or the venue if they contract the virus at the event,” the New York Times reports.

President Trump warned that he would take Seattle back from the “ugly Anarchists” protesting over George Floyd’s death if the city and state leaders do not act. 

Tweeted Trump: “Radical Left Governor Jay Inslee and the Mayor of Seattle are being taunted and played at a level that our great Country has never seen before. Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will. This is not a game. These ugly Anarchists must be stooped IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST!”

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan responded: “Make us all safe. Go back to your bunker.”

Inslee also responded: “A man who is totally incapable of governing should stay out of Washington state’s business. ‘Stoop’ tweeting.”

President Trump on Twitter: “Our great National Guard Troops who took care of the area around the White House could hardly believe how easy it was. “A walk in the park”, one said. The protesters, agitators, anarchists (ANTIFA), and others, were handled VERY easily by the Guard, D.C. Police, & S.S. GREAT JOB!”

Of course, the SS were Adolf Hitler’s personal bodyguards and later became one of the most powerful and feared organizations in all of Nazi Germany. The Secret Service actually uses the acronym USSS.

Liam Bennett: “Wow, that was a wild few minutes where the actual President of the USA was following me on Twitter and even sent me a message. Shame it ended so badly.”

President Trump says America will be done with “bigotry and prejudice” before we know it, The Week reports.

Trump traveled to Dallas for a roundtable on race and policing, though didn’t invite the top three law enforcement officials in the area, all of whom are black.

Trump defended police departments and offered up an executive order that he said will help repair America’s centuries of racism “very quickly and very easily.”

Wait a minute, you mean to tell me that the President could have ended racism by the mere stroke of his pen and three and a half years into his Presidency, he hasn’t done it yet???

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for the removal of nearly a dozen statues in the U.S. Capitol depicting Confederate leaders, the latest step in a racial reckoning taking place following the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis last month,” Politico reports.

“The irony of training at bases named for those who took up arms against the United States, and for the right to enslave others, is inescapable to anyone paying attention. Now, belatedly, is the moment for us to pay such attention.”

— Retired Gen. David Petraeus, writing in The Atlantic.

“Nearly two weeks have passed since President Trump announced he was withdrawing the United States from the World Health Organization. To date, none of the levers that would need to be pulled to follow through on that decision has been pulled,” STAT reports.

“The Trump administration has not formally notified the WHO that it is withdrawing… The administration has also not paid outstanding financial obligations to the WHO, a step that would be required before the United States could pull out under a joint resolution signed by Congress.”

“House Majority Whip Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), the highest-ranking black member in Congress and a veteran of the civil rights movement, has some advice for today’s protesters and activists: Don’t let the ‘defund the police’ movement hijack the momentum to make serious police reforms in the wake of George Floyd’s death,” the Washington Post reports.

“Clyburn, who grew up in the Jim Crow South and has been a civil rights advocate since he was 12 years old, urged activists calling to overhaul policing and end systemic racism find a clearer and more united message.”

Said Clyburn: “When you allow people to use incendiary terms, we create a climate within which we can’t get much done.”

Politico: “The gloves are off as Britain starts to examine its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Boris Johnson on Wednesday insisted it was ‘premature’ to say the U.K. had made mistakes in its response to the crisis, after a top adviser said the country’s death toll could have been halved if it had gone into lockdown just one week earlier.”

“Neil Ferguson, who led the Imperial College team behind the influential epidemic model that informed U.K. strategy, earlier in the day told MPs the epidemic had been doubling every three to four days before the lockdown was introduced at the end of March.”

Politico: “The early divide suggests a partisan deadlock is quite possible despite a surge in support for reform after the killing of George Floyd by police in Minnesota. President Trump is preparing executive actions to curb police misconduct and is likely to back Scott’s bill. But Democrats have major sway over what is doable in Congress, with control of the House and an effective veto in the Senate with the power of the filibuster.”

“While Democrats are under pressure from their base to deliver, they also may decide against settling for a watered-down version of their priorities. Democrats are also staring at an election season that could give them both the Senate and the White House — and with those prizes would come the possibility of advancing more sweeping reform.”

Associated Press: “Protesters tore down a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis along Richmond, Virginia’s famed Monument Avenue on Wednesday night. The statue in the former capital of the Confederacy was toppled shortly before 11 p.m., news outlets reported. Richmond police were on the scene and videos on social media showed the monument being towed away as a crowd cheered.”

Ohio state Sen. Steve Huffman (R) is under fire this week after asking whether “African Americans or the colored population” have been disproportionately affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic because they “do not wash their hands as well as other groups,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Huffman: “I understand African Americans have a higher incidence of chronic conditions and that makes them more susceptible to death from covid. But why does it not make them more susceptible to just get covid? Could it just be that African Americans or the colored population do not wash their hands as well as other groups? Or wear a mask? Or do not socially distance themselves? Could that be the explanation for why the higher incidence?”

Wisconsin House Speaker Robin Vos (R), in leaked audio recording, said the coronovirus outbreak in his region “is because of a large immigrant population where it’s just a difference in culture where people are living much closer and working much closer,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Is there a single Republican alive who is not a flaming racist?

New York Times: “The threats are swirling around the president: Deaths from the virus in Brazil each day are now the highest in the world. Investors are fleeing the country. The president, his sons and his allies are under investigation. His election could even be overturned.”

“The crisis has grown so intense that some of the most powerful military figures in Brazil are warning of instability — sending shudders that they could take over and dismantle Latin America’s largest democracy.”

“But far from denouncing the idea, President Jair Bolsonaro’s inner circle seems to be clamoring for the military to step into the fray.”

Theo Dias: “Brazil has become the new epicenter of Covid-19… The situation is compounded by the disastrous attitude of the President of the Republic who, in his obsession for power, has placed Brazil in the small and caricatured group of nations governed by pandemic denialists.”

More than a dozen Chicago police officers broke into Rep. Bobby Rush’s (D-IL) campaign offices in Chicago to lounge on chairs, drink coffee and make popcorn while looters vandalized nearby businesses in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Said Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D): “Looting was going on, buildings were being burned, officers were on the front lines truly taking a beating with bottles and pipes, and these guys were lounging — in a congressman’s office. The utter contempt and disrespect is hard to imagine.”

Added Rush: “They even had the unmitigated gall to go and make coffee for themselves and to pop popcorn — my popcorn — in my microwave while looters were tearing apart businesses within their sight and within their reach.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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