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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“The film represents enslaved Black people in accordance with longstanding stereotypes, as servants, notable for their devotion to their white masters or for their ineptitude. And the film’s treatment of this world through a lens of nostalgia denies the horrors of slavery as well as its legacies of racial inequality.” — Film scholar Jacqueline Stewart’s new introduction to Gone with the Wind, which returned to HBO Max after having being pulled off the network earlier in June.
COVID-19 caseloads are spiking. The US recorded more than 36,000 new cases on Wednesday, the highest number of the pandemic, with particularly bad outbreaks in Florida, Texas, California, and Arizona. The Trump administration seems blase.
US weekly jobless claims: 1.5 million. That’s much worse than economists had expected, and marks the 14th consecutive week with more than 1 million claims.
The Treasury Department sent $1.4 billion in stimulus checks to dead people. The GAO found that 1.1 million checks went to dead people. The IRS says it will take back the money, but doesn’t plan to do it anytime soon.
Supreme Court upholds Trump Administration’s limits on asylum seekers. The justices agree that asylum seekers rejected by an immigration official during an initial screening don’t have the right to appeal to a judge.
VIEWS OF THE DAY
Masking would help Trump, so why has he rejected it? Four theories.
The US has lost the fight against coronavirus. COVID-19 is ravaging the South and West. Yesterday was the worst day for new cases in the US since the outbreak started. We squandered the lockdown. We didn’t test enough. Contact tracing is nonexistent. States and agencies record and report data in dishonest and slothful ways. All of this has pushed what Trump desperately wants — an actually reopened economy — further and further away.
A visiting alien who knows nothing about this country would ask themself: Why has the president repudiated the things that could help Americans stay healthy, and thus help him politically? Let’s take one pungent, small example.
It’s been clear for months that wearing masks, especially in indoor spaces, especially in groups, is a small behavioral change with an outsized impact. It requires very little of citizens, and would have a huge impact in reducing viral transmission, caseloads, and deaths. In other countries, masking has quickly become practically universal and totally destigmatized — the way seatbelt wearing and handwashing are.
Had the president and his team gone all out for masks, it would have easily quashed the masks-are-oppression crowd. Plus the country would be healthier, the economy would be stronger, and his poll numbers would be higher. So why didn’t he?
Here are four theories:
- Trump is vain. He thinks he looks bad with a mask, so he refuses to wear it. He similarly judges as ugly or weak any staffers who wear them, making masklessness the norm across the White House, which effectively turns demasking into policy
- Owning the libs is more important than public health. Democrats are pushing for masking, which triggers certain conservative activists, who agitate that this is an important culture war battle — even though it’s not. That works up the base and conservative media, which infects Trump. Masking would mean the libs got a win, and that can’t be allowed, even if it kills people.
- Masking infringes on individual liberty. Some on the right have become enthralled with a highly selfish conception of liberty that equates freedom with being able to do what you want. Historically conservatism has embraced a more expansive idea of liberty that emphasizes balancing your own desires with your obligations to protect and serve others. This selfish libertarianism spread on social media and into conservative media, and influenced the president.
- Trump thinks magically. He’s ignorant of science and hasn’t been interested in anything that’s not a miracle. Trump has consistently hyped bogus cure-alls — the virus will simply vanish, there will be a vaccine in months, hydroxychloroquine will prevent infection. Masking by contrast offers a subtle, marginal benefit.
Sadly, all four of these theories hold Trump in their thrall. He can’t shake loose from them, even though it would actually help him get closer to what he wants, which is reelection. — DP
The White House just proved John Bolton’s point about Trump’s China policy, and Republicans helped.
In former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s new book he explains that Trump’s China policy isn’t driven by any kind of principle, it’s transactional. Trump’s base wants him to be tough on China, so he thinks he has to deliver for them to win reelection.
That’s why, Bolton writes, Trump veritably begged Chinese President Xi Jiinping to buy more US agricultural goods in order to please his base of farmers. It’s why Trump doesn’t care about Muslim concentration camps in Xinjiang or China’s anti-democratic encroachment into Hong Kong.
Of course, the White House denied all this and called Bolton a liar.
That denial is belied by Trump’s own actions. This week the White House asked Sen. Kevin Cramer, a Republican from North Dakota, to block unanimous passage of a bill that would sanction China for its actions in Hong Kong. And Cramer did, despite being a co-sponsor of the bill.
Don’t expect China hawks like GOP Senators Marco Rubio or Tom Cotton to speak up. They’ve been either mum or mealy mouthed about the allegations in Bolton’s book. To stand up to the President’s lack of principles, they would have to have some of their own. – LL
Seattle businesses and residents sue city over CHOP
As I wrote in this newsletter two days ago, the party’s just about over for Seattle’s Capitol Hill Organized Protest Area (CHOP) — the six-square block zone in which authorities have allowed protesters to operate autonomously for nearly the past three weeks. After three shootings last weekend, Mayor Jenny Durkan said the city would start encouraging people “to go home,” but would not be breaking up the zone with immediate and severe force.
But the massive action against racism and police brutality has not come without costs to businesses and residents in the CHOP zone — some of whom have banded together in a class action lawsuit against the city for the “extensive harm” they claim to have suffered as a result of the city’s tolerance for a police-free zone.
The litigants state right off the bat that they do “not seek to undermine CHOP participants’ message or present a counter-message,” but they believe their own “constitutional and other legal rights” were violated by the city’s “unprecedented decision to abandon and close off an entire city neighborhood.”
Some of the plaintiffs are landlords who claim there property was damaged, but others are working-class businesses like a liquor store, a tattoo parlor, and an auto repair shop whose owner alleges his son was assaulted by a man with a knife who broke into the shop and started a fire. The suit alleges despite multiple 911 calls, police never came to their aid.
Many reports indicated that at least during the daytime, the CHOP zone was a generally peaceful place of radical demonstration. But as the encampment’s time winds down, this lawsuit is probably just the first chapter in a full accounting of the costs associated with this experiment in civic tolerance of anarchy. – AF
BUSINESS & ECONOMY
Chuck E. Cheese filed for bankruptcy. The kids pizza entertainment chain was slammed by the pandemic. Or perhaps people didn’t want to eat in a restaurant filled with giant singing rats. It was a bad week all-around for iconically goofy brands: Segway is going to stop making Segways.
The 15 best cities for millennials. Cities where jobs are plentiful and life is fun. Cambridge, MA tops the list, and San Francisco is second.
A beautiful Italian town offers tourists free accommodation this summer. San Giovanni in Molise is gorgeous but struggling, so it will put you up for nothing if you visit.
THE BIG 3*
New maps reveal the size and shape of the lost 8th continent. Zealandia was submerged in the Pacific Ocean 30 million to 50 million years ago. and New Zealand is the biggest piece of it still above water.
Twitter users liken Palm Beach masking squabble to Parks & Rec. Residents complained furiously about the county’s new masking requirement: “They want to throw God’s wonderful breathing system out the door,” said one woman. Twitter mocked it all.
NASA offering a $20,000 prize for a better space toilet. They want one that will function both in space and on the moon.
*The most popular stories on Insider today.