| This administration’s new approach is that we have a new normal, in which COVID is just part of the backdrop of all of life. Needless to say, there are obvious problems with this approach–namely, a pandemic like this is not normal and the U.S.’s ever-climbing death rate is avoidable. If you feel like you’re being gaslit, that’s probably because you are; this administration is going all-in. That doesn’t mean we have to accept it.
Events to Know
Stone’s Throw Away. Trump apparently decided he hadn’t done enough corruption lately with the pandemic slowing him down, so he went ahead and commuted Roger Stone’s sentence a few days before the latter was due to show up to prison. (It’s hard to keep up with the rogue’s gallery, but you may remember Roger Stone from such greatest hits as “didn’t bother to learn how WhatsApp would incriminate him,” “tried to get the presiding judge removed on the grounds that he wasn’t likable,” and “was found guilty of doing Trump’s dirty work literally seven times.”) Unsurprisingly, the presiding judge is already examining the order for scope, but it’s unclear whether there will be any leeway there. Needless to say, this is yet another new height of corruption, because no sitting President has ever pardoned somebody for crimes related to the President’s dirty work before.
- NPR – Trump Commutes Sentence Of Longtime Friend And Adviser Roger Stone
- Washington Post – Roger Stone, And Trump’s Extraordinary Record On Clemency
Messed Up Trump Response: COVID Edition. At this point, I think it’s fair to say that the White House has hit rock bottom on COVID response and is starting to dig. Trump spent much of the week pressuring schools to reopen in person, complaining about CDC rules that urged caution and slow reopen. His cronies got into the action too, with Pence claiming new CDC regulations would be forthcoming (spoiler: no they aren’t) and Betsy DeVos following up by saying we don’t have to listen to the CDC anyway (spoiler: yes we do). When none of that worked, Trump started smearing his own head expert for listening to available data and for generally urging responsible pandemic policy. This is all, of course, in addition to the growing rhetoric that the growing infection numbers are part of life and “we need to live with it,” despite the administration also acknowledging that death rates will rise–but more on that below.
- Politico – Trump Threatens To Cut Federal Funds From Schools That Don’t Reopen
- CNN – Education Secretary Won’t Say If Schools Should Listen To CDC Guidelines On Reopening
- NBC – White House Seeks To Discredit Fauci As Coronavirus Surges
- New York Times – Trump’s Health Officials Warn More Will Die As Covid Cases Rise
COVID and Immigration. I’ve been meaning to talk for a little while now about the immigration power grab happening during the COVID crisis, which seems designed to make legal immigration more and more impossible. Among the changes during the last month: 1) Closing the borders to asylum seekers from countries with infection on a “public health” basis, even while insisting that our schools need to reopen; 2) A suspension of visas that allow people to enter the U.S. to work, which uses job security for Americans as a rationale and was itself an extension of an earlier order for the suspension of travel to seek lawful permanent residence; 3) A new rule that students on visas will be deported if their schools reopen remotely; 4) Apparently ceasing print of immigration papers after the contract with a private vendor ended; and 5) A broad set of proposed changes to asylum that make it very difficult for anyone to claim asylum at all. That last one has a comment period that ends at midnight today, by the way, and I strongly encourage folks to write in and yell about it.
- CNN – Trump Administration Proposes Blocking Asylum Seekers On Public Health Grounds
- New York Times – Trump Suspends Visas Allowing Hundreds Of Thousands Of Foreigners To Work In The U.S.
- CNBC – Foreign Students Fret Over Being Sent Home After U.S. Visa Rule
- Washington Post – How The Trump Administration Is Turning Legal Immigrants Into Undocumented Ones
- Lawfare – New Proposed Asylum Regulations Would Endanger Women’s Lives
Recent Court Resilience. The several schools that are suing Trump over his student visa power move have had a good past few days. First seventeen state Attorneys General joined in, which I’m sure were welcome reinforcements. Then said reinforcements got results, when the administration announced it was rescinding the decision rather than face numerous lengthy court battles.
- New York Times – 17 States Sue To Block Student Visa Rules
- NBC – Trump Administration Backs Down On Restrictions For International Students
Recent Racial Renaming. After last week’s deliberations, the NFL’s Washington team did indeed decide to change its name. The new name won’t be released for a few days yet, which might be because they still need to secure rights, but I’ll keep folks posted.
- Washington Post – Tribal Leaders, Politicians: Redskins’ Review Of Name Is Step Toward NFL Being On ‘Right Side Of History’
Things to Watch
State of the COVID-19. As I discussed above, we’re really not in great shape COVID-wise. We’re currently experiencing an unprecedented rate of infection in the United States, with 3.3 million recorded cases and over 135,000 recorded deaths. True to Dr. Fauci’s prediction that we may see rates of up to 100,000 new cases per day, we’ve already scaled past 63,000 per day at the time that I type this, and several million people have no health insurance to deal with it due to job loss. Florida saw 15,300 new cases in a single day over the weekend, the single highest number we’ve ever seen, though that apparently didn’t stop Disney World from reopening. In international news, the leader of Brazil has tested positive and the WHO has acknowledged the risk of airborne transmission. But hey, at least Trump has finally started wearing masks in public, only three months after his own administration said everyone should!
- New York Times – Coronavirus In The U.S.: Latest Map And Case Count
- New York Times – Millions Have Lost Health Insurance In Pandemic-Driven Recession
- NBC – Disney World Reopens Even As Coronavirus Cases Soar In Florida And Across U.S.
- BBC – Coronavirus: Brazil’s President Bolsonaro Tests Positive
- CNBC -Trump Wears Coronavirus Mask Publicly For First Time During Visit To Walter Reed Military Hospital
Black Lives Matter News. News on this front was a bit quieter this week, but the Marshall Project did cover the practice of peremptory challenges to jurors who support Black Lives Matter, which is a fancy way of saying “removed from jury service for thinking that extrajudicial killing is bad.” Meanwhile, San Francisco passed a law against discriminatory 911 calls, which they have amusingly named The CAREN Act, and Amy Cooper was charged with filing a false police report.
- Marshall Project – You Can Get Kicked Out Of A Jury Pool For Supporting Black Lives Matter
- CNN – San Francisco Official Proposes ‘CAREN Act,’ Making Racially Biased 911 Calls Illegal
- ABC – Amy Cooper Charged After Calling Police On A Black Bird Watcher
Election Oddities (Again). In election news, a recent poll reveals that GOP voters don’t trust absentee ballots because Trump says they’re untrustworthy, despite him being pretty untrustworthy himself. This is alarming to GOP operatives, because the attitude might hurt GOP candidates in the long run. Of course, I think it’s safe to say Trump doesn’t care what happens to other GOP candidates, as long as he himself gets reelected, but this will be interesting to watch regardless.
- Washington Post – Trump’s Attacks On Mail Voting Are Turning Republicans Off Absentee Ballots
- CNN – Trump’s War Against Mail-in Voting Lacks Republican Allies