“Twenty four states have seen an uptick of at least 10% in Covid-19 cases over the past week as health experts and the federal government keep pressing for more people to get vaccinated,” CNN reports. Said former Biden adviser Andy Slavitt: “We should think about the Delta variant as the 2020 version of Covid-19 on steroids. It’s twice as infectious. Fortunately, unlike 2020, we actually have a tool that stops the Delta variant in its tracks: It’s called vaccine.”
“The simple reality is that we do not have a pandemic among the vaccinated. This is only, right now, a pandemic among the unvaccinated.” — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D), quoted by WHYY.
New York Times: “Businesses from factories to fast-food outlets to hotels turned to technology last year to keep operations running amid social distancing requirements and contagion fears. Now the outbreak is ebbing in the United States, but the difficulty in hiring workers — at least at the wages that employers are used to paying — is providing new momentum for automation.”
“Technological investments that were made in response to the crisis may contribute to a post-pandemic productivity boom, allowing for higher wages and faster growth. But some economists say the latest wave of automation could eliminate jobs and erode bargaining power, particularly for the lowest-paid workers, in a lasting way.”
“The White House’s long sought-after bipartisan infrastructure deal could hit the Senate floor as early as the week of July 19,” Politico reports.
Wall Street Journal: “One of the few things that Democrats and Republicans agree on is that spending billions of dollars on America’s roads would boost productivity and the U.S. economy’s growth prospects.”
“Economists aren’t so sure. A wide body of research focused on the effects of highway spending suggests that major new investment in U.S. roads would generate little, if any, long-term economic gain.”
“That is because the U.S. already has an extensive system of roads, so building more wouldn’t add much to productivity, economists say.”
Washington Post: “The early contours of the infrastructure blueprint have won the White House’s support, but the IRS provision in particular is drawing opposition from well-funded conservative groups, which are strongly opposed to expanding the reach of a tax-collection agency.”
“President Biden and his team have entered a ‘do more with less’ phase of his economic agenda, dictated by the political realities of a closely divided Congress,” the New York Times reports. “Biden aides say they have found creative ways to stretch federal dollars, often by leveraging private investment, in order to maintain the president’s top goals for his economic program. But they have had to scrap other targets as a result, and Mr. Biden is now barreling toward another round of potentially difficult compromises, this time forced by moderates in his own party, over the second half of his agenda, known as the American Families Plan.”
Wall Street Journal: “Democrats are debating whether to fold an effort to cut drug prices — by allowing Medicare to negotiate — into a budget package or try to pass the measure on its own.”
“Many Democrats now see a budget package, which could clear the evenly divided Senate with just a simple majority, as their best shot at overhauling the system. But intraparty divisions over policy issues could complicate that path, and some lawmakers are advocating for making more modest changes with GOP support.”
Former President Donald Trump’s lawsuits this week against Facebook, Twitter and Google are laughable as legal maneuvers. After all, they weren’t even filed in the correct jurisdictions. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t smart politics.
Jonathan Last says the obvious analogue is Trump’s post-election lawsuits: “Everyone knows that Trump went 0-for-60 and was laughed out of every court in America with filings that were incompetent at every level: From legal theory, to factual assertions, to spelling. But, as I argued at the time, these lawsuits weren’t primarily legal maneuvers. They were a political maneuver. And as such, they were wildly successful.”
After more than five years of Trump on the national political stage, it shouldn’t be surprising. Everything Trump does is about seizing attention. This attention allows him to project false hope to his supporters, which in turn forces Republican elected officials to rally to his cause. And that allows him to keep control of the Republican Party — even though he lost the last election by more than 7 million votes.
“Former president Donald Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, N.J., charged the Secret Service nearly $10,200 for guest rooms used by his protective detail during Trump’s first month at the club this summer,” the Washington Post reports.
Turnabout is fair play, the federal government shouldn’t pay.
“President Biden emerged from a Situation Room meeting with his top cybersecurity advisers on Wednesday to declare that he ‘will deliver’ a response to President Vladimir Putin of Russia for the wave of ransomware attacks hitting American companies, after hearing a series of options about how he could disrupt the extortion efforts,” the New York Times reports.
“Mr. Biden’s vague statement, delivered as he was departing for a trip, left it unclear whether he was planning another verbal warning to Mr. Putin — similar to the one he issued three weeks ago during a one-on-one summit in Geneva — or would move ahead with more aggressive options to dismantle the infrastructure used by Russian-language criminal groups.”
“Each option runs significant risk, because Russia is capable of escalating its own behavior. And as the ransomware deluge has shown, many companies in the private sector and federal and state government agencies remain rife with vulnerabilities that Russian actors can find and exploit.”
Just released: The 2020 Census of American Religion, including interactive maps that detail the religious makeup for every county in America.
Aaron Blake: “Even within the GOP, White evangelicals are on the decline: White evangelicals have gone from 37% of the GOP in 2006 to 29% in 2020.”
“Just as important is the age disparity. While 22% of Americans 65 and over are White evangelicals, the number is just 7% for those between 18 and 29 years of age.”
No group in the United States deserves to lose power and have no further voice in society more than white evangelicals. They all are truly despicable people.
“The U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan is essentially complete, despite President Joe Biden’s comments last week that American troops will leave by late August,” Politico reports. “The U.S. currently has roughly 600 troops in Afghanistan, most of whom are Marine Corps and Army personnel providing security at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.”
Washington Post: Biden to address U.S. troop withdrawal as Taliban makes gains.
BBC: “All government officials in Qala-e-Naw, provincial capital of Badghis province, had been moved to a nearby army base, the local governor told the BBC. He said the militants were moving ‘towards the centre of the city’ and there was heavy fighting with government troops.”
“It’s a 20-year war that has not been won militarily. We’re not having a moment of celebration.” — White House press secretary Jen Psaki, commenting on U.S. troops leaving Afghanistan.
“Olympic organizers are set to ban all spectators from the Games, as Japan declared a coronavirus state of emergency for Tokyo that will run through its hosting of the event to curb a new wave of infections,” Reuters reports.
“The ban on spectators would mark the latest blow to the troubled Olympics, delayed by a year because of the pandemic and plagued by a series of setbacks, including massive budget overruns.”
New York Times: “It is the fourth time that Tokyo has been put under a state of emergency since the beginning of the pandemic.”
Politico: “Although the court continued to move in a conservative direction and split along the usual ideological lines as it handed down major 6-3 decisions on voting rights and dark money disclosure, divides on the right were also vividly on display in a series of high-profile cases this term, including the latest challenge to Obamacare and a case over a Catholic social services group’s obligation to deal with same-sex couples seeking to become foster parents.”
“To conservative activists, every disappointment conjures up fears anchored in recent history … There haven’t been many boldly conservative decisions from the Trump appointees so far.”
Rick Hasen: “It’s been almost a week since the Supreme Court issued its most significant ruling on voting rights in nearly a decade, and each time I read Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, the angrier I become. I’m angry not only about what the court did but also about how much of the public does not realize what a hit American democracy has taken.”
“In an opinion thick with irony, Justice Alito turned back the clock on voting rights to 1982. His decision for a six-justice conservative court majority reopens the door to a United States in which states can put up roadblocks to minority voting and engage in voter suppression with few legal consequences once a state has raised tenuous and unsupported concerns about the risk of voter fraud.”
Politico: “The Supreme Court’s decision to review Mississippi’s stringent restrictions on abortion — putting Roe vs. Wade under its roughest stress test yet — is being seen as a call to action for the nation’s community of underground abortion activists. And they make it clear they’re prepared to defy any laws banning abortion.”
“The community had spent the pandemic dealing with the ‘abortionpocalypse’ — a wave of red state restrictions on procedures to terminate pregnancies — by recruiting new members and online providers, adding new privacy features that could shield them from law enforcement and organizing. And now, with the court’s decision to hear the Mississippi case in its upcoming term, they’re confronting a new threat.”
Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) has called for a criminal investigation into what she described as former President Donald Trump’s “intense efforts to interfere” with the counting of ballots in last year’s presidential election, the Arizona Republic reports.
Rudy Giuliani’s Washington, D.C. law license was suspended Wednesday in light of his recent New York license suspension.
“If we teach that the founding of the United States of America was somehow flawed. It was corrupt. It was racist. That’s really dangerous. It strikes at the very foundations of our country.” — Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, on Twitter.
My brother, who is a teacher, had this reaction: “I’m going to teach history to my students, the way that it happened. The good, the bad and the ugly – my students will hear it all. And IDGAF what Republicans or Democrats think about it. As far as critical race theory goes – slavery and Jim Crow played a major role in our country’s history, such a large role that their effects are still clearly impacting our country today, and it was the culture of white Christian European colonists that was legitimized over all others as the culture of hegemony in our laws and institutions. These are facts. And everybody knows it. I completely understand why certain forces in our society want to forget that these things ever happened – some of them are horrible things so I totally understand – but regardless they will be taught to any student in my classroom.”
Jonathan Chait: “Martyrs are the most potent symbols for a radical movement. The John Birch Society commemorated an American missionary killed by Chinese communists in 1945 (the first death of the Cold War, the society’s followers believed). Horst Wessel, a German storm trooper killed by communists in 1930, inspired an eponymous song that became a Nazi anthem.”
“The anti-anti-Trump right has dismissed the insurrection as overblown, a protest march gone bad, perhaps ill-considered but never posing any serious threat to the republic. The far right’s highlighting of Babbitt’s death sends a different message: The insurrection was good. Babbitt’s effort to penetrate the defensive barrier was brave, and the stopping of her charge a crime.”
“By throwing himself behind this message, Trump is endorsing the most radical interpretation of his presidency. January 6 was not a minor misstep after a successful era, as fans like Mike Pence and Lindsey Graham now say. It was the heroic culmination of a righteous uprising.”
“The challenge is if you believe that Nov. 3 was a landslide victory for Donald Trump that was stolen, and Jan. 6 was the day to stop that steal, I can’t come to an understanding with somebody when we’re dealing with completely separate sets of facts and realities… People are willing to kill and die over these alternative realities.” — Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI), quoted by the New York Times.
Josh Marshall: “I get that sense that the official Republican party, most of the press and perhaps even Democrats in Washington, DC have not gotten the message that Trump is sending. But let’s start with the Republicans. I don’t get the sense it’s registering with them that Trump is going to make the insurrection central to the 2022 campaign, at least for his role in it. He’s telling us. The Big Lie is everything for Trump and the insurrectionists are the warriors and victims of the ‘rigged election’. The two are inseparable.”
“Four state attorneys general have begun looking into the online fund-raising practices of both political parties, specifically seeking information about the use of prechecked boxes to enroll contributors in recurring donation programs that spurred a wave of fraud complaints and demands for refunds last year,” the New York Times reports.
“The attorneys general for New York, Minnesota, Maryland and Connecticut have sent letters to WinRed, which processes online donations for Republicans, and ActBlue, its Democratic counterpart, asking for documents related to the practices.”
ProPublica: “Two members of Congress who have long been responsible for shaping federal laws on retirement savings are considering major reforms after ProPublica exposed how the ultrawealthy are turning retirement accounts into gargantuan tax shelters.”
“But this new appetite for reining in the accounts may be too late to slow contrary bipartisan legislation already rolling through Congress. Buried deep inside two complex and sweeping bills — each more than 140 pages long — are provisions that could make it harder for the IRS to crack down on the ultrawealthy who dodge tax rules.”
“Those bills, paradoxically, are co-sponsored by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rep Richard Neal (D-MA), two of the lawmakers who are now calling for reining in giant retirement accounts.”
Associated Press: “With the era of gunboat diplomacy long over, the U.S. is unlikely to deploy troops in the aftermath of the brazen slaying Wednesday of President Jovenel Moise in an overnight raid at his home.”
“But the Biden administration may nonetheless find itself dragged into the country’s increasingly violent political conflict, one that has been building — if largely ignored by Washington — for months and which is now expected to deepen further, with the immediate path forward blurred by intrigue.”
Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was found with 12 gunshot wounds and his left eye torn out of its socket after a gang of assassins murdered him in the middle of the night, Nouvelliste reports.
Said Magistrate Carl Henry Destin: “The president’s office and bedroom were ransacked. We found him lying on his back, blue pants, a white shirt stained with blood, his mouth open, his left eye gouged out.”
“If a British court permits the extradition of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to face criminal charges in the United States, the Biden administration has pledged that it will not hold him under the most austere conditions reserved for high-security prisoners and that, if he is convicted, it will let him serve his sentence in his native Australia,” the New York Times reports.
“Tucker Carlson was talking to U.S.-based Kremlin intermediaries about setting up an interview with Vladimir Putin shortly before the Fox News host accused the National Security Agency of spying on him,” Axios reports.
“Sources said U.S. government officials learned about Carlson’s efforts to secure the Putin interview. Carlson learned that the government was aware of his outreach — and that’s the basis of his extraordinary accusation, followed by a rare public denial by the NSA that he had been targeted.”
Washington Post: “Parts of northern Syria will quickly face a massive and deadly humanitarian crisis if the U.N. Security Council fails this week to extend a resolution allowing the United Nations to deliver aid across the Turkish-Syrian border, according to relief workers, Syrian civilians and the Biden administration.”
“Russia has promised for nearly a year to veto any resolution allowing cross-border aid to continue, viewing its distribution to areas held by opponents of President Bashar al-Assad, an ally of Moscow, as a violation of Syria’s sovereignty. The Biden administration favors expanding cross-border aid to Syria, and the debate over the resolution has emerged as a high-profile test of whether the United States and Russia, at a moment of escalating tensions, can identify issues on which to forge common ground.”
Featured Photo: Speaker Pelosi and the Select Committee