What Now?! – July 31, 2020

“What gives each new generation purpose is to take up the unfinished work of the last and carry it further than any might have thought possible. John Lewis not only embraced that responsibility, but he made it his life’s work.” — Former President Barack Obama, speaking at the funeral for Rep. John Lewis. Watch the full remarkable speech below:

This wasn’t a eulogy. It was a call to arms. It was a perfectly timed speech for today, when our dictator of a president was threatening to delay the election, which he cannot do.

Obama drew a straight line from “Bloody Sunday” in 1965, when Lewis and other civil rights marchers were brutally beaten by police in Selma, to the Black Lives Matter protests around the country today. Without mentioning names, he made a direct comparison of George Wallace, the racist Alabama governor who ordered the police attacks that day, to President Trump and the clearing of peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square, Portland and other cities.

Obama even explicitly called for eliminating the filibuster — “a Jim Crow relic” — if it’s used to block a new voting rights act in the next Congress.

Said Obama: “We may not have to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar in order to cast a ballot, but even as we sit here, there are those in power who are doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting — by closing polling locations, and targeting minorities and students with restrictive ID laws. And attacking our voting rights with surgical precision, even undermining the postal service in the run-up to an election that’s going to be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don’t get sick.”

Obama is back.

“John Lewis was a walking rebuke to people who thought, well, we ain’t there yet and we have been working a long time. Isn’t it time to bag it? He kept moving. He hoped for and imagined and lived and worked and moved for his beloved community. He took a savage beating on more than one day.”

— Former President Bill Clinton, quoted by Axios, speaking at the funeral for Rep. John Lewis.

The late Rep. John Lewis wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times, to be published on the day of his funeral.

“Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe. In my life I have done all I can to demonstrate that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the more excellent way. Now it is your turn to let freedom ring.”

“When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.”

The U.S. economy contracted at a record 32.9% annual rate in the second quarter, CNBC reports.

New York Times: “The collapse was unprecedented in its speed and breathtaking in its severity. The only possible comparisons in modern American history came during the Great Depression and the demobilization after World War II, both of which occurred before the advent of modern economic statistics.”

“Senate Republicans are temporarily abandoning their hopes for a large-scale coronavirus relief package, but will try to pass a standalone extension of federal unemployment insurance,” Politico reports.

“A proposal that is gaining steam comes from Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson: renew enhanced unemployment at 66 percent of lost wages, or $200 per week. The strategy has general backing from the White House, which is eager to extend the bulked up unemployment insurance.”

“Republicans view this as a way to put pressure on Senate Democrats one day before a federal $600 enhanced unemployment benefit is scheduled to expire. But Senate Democrats are already dismissing the proposal.”

Washington Post: “From the presidentially ambitious Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO), to onetime deficit hawks like Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA), conservatives are abandoning the president as his top aides struggle with negotiations on a pandemic relief bill that is Trump’s last, best chance to pass legislation that could help his floundering reelection bid.”

“Ignoring their own record of support for adding trillions of dollars to the national debt, these conservatives have signaled that they think, in a post-Trump Republican Party, that deficits will return to the forefront just as they did in the first years of the Obama administration.”

President Trump, trailing badly in the polls, floated the idea of delaying the November presidential election: “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???

Top Republicans offered a rare rebuke of President Trump, condemning his suggestion that the Nov. 3 general election be delayed — something he has no authority to order, the New York Times reports.

Said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA): “Never in the history of the federal elections have we not held an election and we should go forward.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, initially declined to comment, but later dismissed Trump’s suggestion in an interview with WNKY:  “Never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions, and the Civil War have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time, and we’ll find a way to do that again this Nov. 3. We’ll cope with whatever the situation is and have the election on Nov. 3 as already scheduled.”

Josh Marshall says Don’t Cower: “[T]he truth is that the values and reflexes that make liberals and Democrats support things that will make society more just and humane lead them to react to moments like these with outrage and trembling more than mockery and power. I can only suggest people not fall back into themselves.

All of this comes from Trump’s weakness rather than strength. A sinking ship. The answer in any trial of strength or right is to maintain the initiative rather than cower. Every reporter working a beat today should be asking Republican elected officials … asking isn’t even the right work – giving Republican elected officials their one chance to denounce and disassociate themselves from the President’s words. They have one chance. Tomorrow won’t cut it. If they want to go down with the President’s sinking ship, get their answer and lock them in. Democrats should be prepping ads about how Joni Ernst refused to back holding the election in November. She was ready to sign on. I hope her opponent is prepping that ad right now.

This is a hard moment. Not because of this morning’s nonsense but because of all the threats we face through this election. We cannot control everything that happens to us, either individually or in our civic existence. But we can avoid losing battles in our own heads before they even start. Let’s not do that. Don’t cower.”

Herman Cain, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, died after a monthlong battle with the coronavirus, Vox reports. Ten days before he tested positive, Cain had attended a rally for President Trump in Tulsa, Oklahoma and did not wear a face mask.

I am sorry if this is going to sound mean, but I am not sorry he is dead. He is one of the many ignorant yet arrogant who declared first that the virus was a hoax and then either downplayed it or promoted every fantastical snake oil to the determent of the public at large. He showed no care for others or sympathy to the 150,000 Americans who had already died of the virus.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said he will take an anti-malaria drug that experts have warned doesn’t treat the coronavirus after he tested positive for the virus, Newsweek reports. Said Gohmert: “My doctor and I are all-in.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that all lawmakers will now be required to wear a mask while appearing on the chamber floor, a decision spurred by the news that a Republican congressman who has spurned facial coverings had tested positive for the coronavirus, the Washington Post reports.

Pelosi said she expects everyone to “adhere to this requirement as a sign of respect for the health, safety and well-being of others present in the chamber and surrounding areas.”

“The revelation Wednesday that Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, a renegade lawmaker known for stalking the halls of Congress without a mask, tested positive for Covid-19 has unleashed a fusillade of anger on Capitol Hill — a sudden release of built-up tension over how the institution has dealt with the coronavirus pandemic within the confines of its own workplace,” Politico reports.

“Now, legislative aides, chiefs of staff, press assistants, members of Congress, career workers and maintenance men and women are venting their fury with an institution that does not have uniform rules or masking requirements, does not mandate testing, is run with minimal oversight and must contend with a gaggle of lawmakers who doubt scientists and hold themselves out as experts on everything from disease hygiene to pharmacology.”

“President Trump called Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) on Wednesday night for a conversation that Mr. Inhofe put on speakerphone to hear better as he sat in a Washington restaurant,” the New York Times reports.

“The conversation, overheard and recorded by someone in the room, ranged from a discussion about Anthony Tata, the retired Army brigadier general whose nomination for a top Pentagon policy position has become complicated, to Mr. Trump’s desire to preserve the name of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general, on a military base.”

“Mr. Trump could be heard criticizing ‘cancel culture’ and then told Mr. Inhofe that people ‘want to be able to go back to life,’ and then appeared to dismiss the focus on the cultural shift taking place across the country with an expletive.”

“A federal appeals court in Washington will take a second look a judge’s effort to scrutinize the Justice Department’s decision to drop its case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn,” the Washington Post reports.

The nomination of retired Army general Anthony Tata for a senior civilian position in the Trump administration was cast into doubt Thursday morning when his confirmation hearing was canceled just before it was scheduled to begin amid signs that he did not have enough Republican votes, the Washington Post reports.

“Michael Cohen now will be allowed to finish his tell-all book about President Trump after the government said on Thursday that it had given up a legal battle to prevent him from expressing himself on television, on social media or in books while he serves a prison sentence at home,” the New York Times reports.

“The government said it would not challenge a ruling last week that cleared the way for Mr. Cohen, who once was Mr. Trump’s lawyer and fixer, to publish a memoir about his former boss before the election.”

New York Times: “Far from a strongman, Mr. Trump has lately become a heckler in his own government, promoting medical conspiracy theories on social media, playing no constructive role in either the management of the coronavirus pandemic or the negotiation of an economic rescue plan in Congress — and complaining endlessly about the unfairness of it all.”

Vanity Fair: “Six months into the pandemic, the United States continues to suffer the worst outbreak of COVID-19 in the developed world. Considerable blame belongs to a federal response that offloaded responsibility for the crucial task of testing to the states. The irony is that, after assembling the team that came up with an aggressive and ambitious national testing plan, Kushner then appears to have decided, for reasons that remain murky, to scrap its proposal.”

The plan, according to one participant, “just went poof into thin air.”

Multiple public health officials under Presidents Bush and Obama who spoke with ABC News described the painstaking lengths to which previous administrations planned for viral infectious disease pandemics.

“Many of those same officials condemned the Trump administration for failing to execute on the strategies gathered as a result of those efforts, such as taking early and aggressive science-based actions, clear communication to the public, and collaboration with international and state partners.”

“Others accused the president of exacerbating matters by shuttering a NSC office specifically tasked with pandemic response preparedness.”

“When he started doing them again, my thought was, ‘Oh, great, this fucking shit again.’ And now we’re all talking about demon ejaculation.” — A senior Trump administration official, quoted by the Daily Beast, on President Trump’s restarted coronavirus briefings.

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

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