IUY Weekly Journal #50 June 27 – July 3, 2020

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, June 27 through Friday, July 3, 2020 [#50]

“100,000 New Cases a Day”

The Week’s Most Notable

The surge is bigger than we think. When the medical community said “this is not your run-of-the-mill pandemic”, too many thought they were trying to dramatize. If only. Fox News and other conservative media scoffed when Dr. Fauci said we could see 100,000 new cases a day. By the end of the week, the U.S. had nearly reached 60,000 new cases a day. This happened for many reasons, but the apparent consensus of the medical community points to a combination of an exceptionally contagious virus and an exceptionally dysfunctional management of the crisis at all federal and many state levels. With sudden reversals (e.g., the Texas governor flipping from “no masks” to “mandatory masks” in one week), profoundly mixed messages from Trump and Pence, and the disastrous politicization of standard epidemic practices (social distancing, masks, and quarantine) it’s debatable whether most of the United States will be able to contain the spiraling COVID-19 numbers before they overwhelm hospitalization capacity and force further economy-damaging lockdowns. By week’s end 40 states were experiencing increasing COVID-19 infections, 16 of them at record levels.

Saturday, June 27

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases – 2,596,537; Deaths – 128,152

[Coronavirus] Ten Million Coronavirus Cases Worldwide and 500,000 Dead – The U.S. accounts for more than 25% of the cases and of the dead, by far the worst record of all countries. This is the ugly bedrock of reality against which all excuses fail.

[Racism – Protest] One Killed at Breonna Taylor Protest in Louisville – Someone standing at the periphery of a crowd gathered to protest the police murder of Breonna Taylor fired more than a dozen shots, killing one, hospitalizing another, and injuring several more. Police arrested a man (for the third time in two weeks) and charged him with murder and wanton endangerment.

[Russian Bounties] Biden Excoriates Trump Over Russian Bounties – During a virtual town hall, Biden focused on the intelligence reports concerning Russian bounties for American soldiers and Trump’s lack of response: “His entire presidency has been a gift to Putin, but this is beyond the pale.” Biden’s sharp and rapid response signals the Democrats’ willingness to jump on this view into the wound left by the Mueller investigation and Trump’s relationship to Putin. Biden pointed out Trump recently had multiple phone calls with Putin, promoted returning Russia to the G7, and without notice pulled troops out of Germany (high on Putin’s wish list). This is an issue with wide impact on the military and veterans.

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IUY Weekly Journal – #49 June 20 – 26, 2020

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, June 20 through Friday, June 26, 2020 [#49]

“Coronavirus Surge”

The Week’s Most Notable

Reality stalks Trump and the GOP. The surging COVID-19 pandemic regained domination over the news of the week. (And a bewildering jam-packed week of news it was.) Instead of going away as Trump suggested at his Tulsa rally, new cases in states such as Florida, Texas, Arizona, and California reached levels above previous records. In fact, it appears that several states might see 5,000 to 10,000 new cases a day, which will translate into hundreds of hospitalizations and scores of deaths – per day, per state. By midweek doctors in Texas were predicting that Houston could have the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the world, eclipsing the terrible records set in New York City. Meanwhile, Trump, most of the GOP, and the right-wing media continued to deny the significance of the surge and reiterated their abhorrence of using facemasks, social distancing, and testing. This time, however, the people being affected are mainly in the red-state South, Trump’s people. Already several southern governors are rolling back their state’s “reopening” and it is possible selective lockdowns may be required. The reality of the medical situation demands dramatic countermeasures, the political situation for the GOP demands denial to the level of delusion. The next week or two are going to be brutal as new hospitalizations and deaths add to the rising numbers and clash with Trump’s insistence the crisis is over.

Saturday, June 20

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases – 2,333,337; Deaths – 123,994

[Elections 2020] Trump Tulsa Rally Tanks – Trump spoke of millions wanting to attend. The campaign planned for about 100,000 inside and outside the arena. The arena could hold more than 19,000 – closely packed, chanting, potential coronavirus victims. (Some of Trump’s advance team and Secret Service detail have already tested positive.) It was to be the breakout rally, the re-launch of his campaign. Approximately 6,200 attended and the visual provided was a sea of empty blue seats, which became the iconic representation of one of the worst political event flops on record. Like the Bible incident in D.C., this was one for the history books if not for lasting real-world impact.

[Justice Department] SDNY Saga Stumbles On – Having failed to acquire a resignation from Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Atty. Gen. Barr was forced to go to Trump and have him directly fire Berman (although in true Trumpian fashion, Trump later denied any involvement). So Berman was out, but his obstinacy had a point; without a resignation Barr could not appoint a temporary replacement. Instead Deputy District Attorney Audrey Strauss took over the job. She is not a Trump loyalist and will likely hold the job until the Senate confirms a permanent SDNY Attorney. (Unlikely to happen before the election.) This mostly botched “coup” opened the Pandora’s Box on Barr’s interferences in cases related to the president, which is now the subject of House investigation and is attracting a trove of journalistic revelations.

[Trump – Book] Judge Rules Bolton Book Publishing May Proceed – The judge said, “the horse is already out of the barn,” as the book was distributed to thousands in the previous week and most of its contents thoroughly picked out and placed before the public. However, by the judge’s ruling it is possible Bolton may be denied sales and royalty money for having “gambled with the national security of the United States.” Most reviews said it was a poorly written book; but it contained useful cross-references, and nuggets of factoid material such as Trump imploring the Chinese to help with his reelection by purchasing more American farm goods.

[Racism – Protest] Shooting in Seattle’s CHAZ Spells End of Autonomous Zone – The shooting resulted in one dead and one injured and brought the police into the investigation. [Update: Several days later the need for police presence resulted in the mayor’s use of the incident to begin clearing the occupied six block zone. This will end a colorful right-wing media talking point within a week to 10 days.]

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IUY – Weekly Journal #48 June 13 – 19, 2020

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, June 13 through Friday, June 19, 2020 [#48]

“Juneteenth”

The Week’s Most Notable

Juneteenth and Tulsa. Although the week was chockablock with portentous events – Supreme Court rulings, more COVID-19 deaths than U.S. casualties in World War I, violent action at the Koreas and India/China borders, police reform bills, Jon Bolton’s traitorous book, and the Friday night botched firing at SDNY – the ongoing leitmotif was the interplay of the commemoration of the final day of emancipation, “Juneteenth,” and the approaching Saturday Trump rally in Tulsa. It was often repeated that Tulsa was the site of the worst massacre of a black community in American history. Yet Trump chose Tulsa. He also originally chose June 19 for the date, Juneteenth. Because of the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, Juneteenth took on greater significance than ever with many events planned for Tulsa. All week the media speculated about the confluence of all the current major issues with the confluence of BLM protesters and MAGA members. Bring together tens of thousands, stuff them into small spaces, make them steam and shout – would violence erupt? Maybe. Would COVID-19 do a super spread? Maybe.

[Update: In the actual event, Trump filled scarcely two thirds of the auditorium; the pictures were very remindful of the blank spaces in his inauguration crowd. There was some violence outside the hall, but very little. The vast deflation of the situation sounded like a big sigh of relief; mostly people went home. We’ll see what the coronavirus does in the next few weeks; by then we’ll also know what this monster cow-flop event did to the Trump campaign.]

Saturday, June 13

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases – 2,142,852; Deaths – 117,527

[Coronavirus] Trump Addresses West Point Grads – The event had two notable features: Cadets had to be called in from all over the country, undergo quarantine, and be tested for COVID-19 so that Trump could have his speech. In terms of optics, Trump was recorded fumbling with a glass of water and having difficulty walking down a shallow ramp. [Update: A week later at his Tulsa rally, Trump was still explaining what happened – for ten minutes.]

[Racism – Protest] Rayshard Brooks Killing Accelerates BLM Protest – As new details emerged, such as the police kicking and standing on the dying Mr. Brooks, anger following this incident fed directly into the ongoing protests. The first fallout was the resignation of the Atlanta police chief. Later in the week both officers involved were arrested and charged with multiple crimes. The shooting officer was charged with murder.

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Weekly Journal #47 June 6 – 12, 2020

 Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, June 6 through Friday, June 12, 2020 [#47]

“monumental change”

The Week’s Most Notable

It’s a bit peculiar or possibly ironic that much of the week’s brouhaha concerned an unfortunate phrase: Defund the Police. Trump and conservatives took it at face value – get rid of police entirely. Centrist Democrats like Biden also disavowed the phrase, saying that their intent was to transform or reform the police but not to get rid of police departments entirely. Perhaps the majority opinion of protesters could be summarized with a tweak: Reimagine the Police. Of course, a more radical segment of the protesters said “No, no, no, we mean no police.” That this constituted an open debate at all is remarkable and a testament to how rapidly public opinion shifted toward doing something about police violence and racism. By the end of the week there were numerous news stories covering how cities were reforming their police in some way or another. However, putting the good news in perspective also underscores how contentious and difficult it will be to alter the culture, practice, and structure of the more than 18,000 police jurisdictions in the U.S. Systemic reform, especially with any hope of federal leadership, will at best have to wait until after the election.

Even the British got into the act as people in Bristol rolled a statue of a local slave trader into the Avon River. (British right-wingers fished it out a day later, but it’s not going back up.) Although the furor created by the George Floyd murder focused on police violence and racism, it didn’t take more than a week to set off repercussions in the general culture. In particular, a movement developed to finish removing the public monuments (statues, plaques, flags, memorials) lionizing the Confederacy, such as the statue of Gen. Robert E Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia. (A court fight over this particular monument is already underway.) Another expression of the movement calls for the renaming of military bases, mostly in the South, such as Fort Bragg, named for a particularly inept Confederate general. However, Trump tweeted “[M]y administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations…” Most of these monuments were installed for propaganda value during the Jim Crow era.

Saturday, June 6

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases – 1,988,544; Deaths – 112,096

[Racism – Protest] A Weekend of Protests – Unlike the preceding week when police frequently responded to protests by trying to enforce location and curfew rules with aggressive tactics, this weekend the police seemed to back off. There were dozens of peaceful protests in cities such as Washington DC, New York, and Seattle, in some cases drawing tens of thousands of protesters.

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IUY Weekly Journal – #46 May 30 – June 5, 2020

 Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, May 30 through Friday, June 5, 2020 [#46]

“militaryPolice”

The Week’s Most Notable

This week it was a name, George Floyd, that dominated (to use Trump’s word) the narrative. Floyd’s gruesome death at the hands of the police, and the incendiary link to American endemic racism provided the spark for what is now almost two weeks of nationwide protests. The political implications are still in the realm of potential, but events have obviously reduced White House and Republican strategies to painfully lame gestures. Some people sense a great opportunity, perhaps a once in a century chance to make some fundamental changes. Maybe so, but the other two crises, COVID-19 and the economy, a bit overshadowed this week, will have their somewhat unpredictable role to play.

Things happened this week that had a kind of “tip of the iceberg” quality but much was overlooked. For example, at the end of the week videos in Buffalo, NY showed a line of police clearing a street who were confronted by an elderly man who was summarily shoved, fell backwards, and cracked his head on the road – blood running out of his ear within seconds. Bad enough. One officer attempted to check the man but he was pulled away; the police continued down the street.  At the least, “bad optics.”

This kind of incident happens in protests with some regularity and might’ve been disregarded, except for two things: The recordings, one made by PBS, are extremely graphic and clear; secondly, all 57 members of the Emergency Response unit resigned in protest over the two officers involved being suspended without pay. The unit’s police union objected to this punishment for “following orders” and because “the old man tripped and fell.” The first statement, which resembles the infamous Nuremberg Defense, belies an entire culture within that unit. The second statement was a flat lie. The incident is now the subject of investigation, and likely a lawsuit. [Update: Both officers have been charged with assault.]

This incident, among dozens of others, is indicative of the militarized tactics adopted by police departments all over the country. Because the mix of the vast protests, the very public demonstration of police violence, and the ongoing grievance by Blacks and other people of color, a sweeping examination of policing in America has started. If the politics (voting) follow, although it has seldom happened before, it could lead to a widespread restructuring of police forces.

Saturday, May 30

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases – 1,831,305; Deaths – 105,793

[Space Launch] NASA and SpaceX Launch “Crew Dragon” – In the first manned space launch from the United States since 2011, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley successfully reached the International Space Station on Sunday morning. This was the first such flight aboard a commercially designed and built space vehicle.

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IUY Weekly Journal: #45 May 23 – 29, 2020

       Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, May 23 through Friday, May 29, 2020  [#45]

“100,000 + George Floyd”

The Week’s Most Notable

And now there are three U.S. crises: COVID-19, the economy, racism/violence. These three crises have in some way touched everybody. This doesn’t happen very often; usually some group, region, or class escapes – but not this time. This was a week when the three crises found unusually stark representation: The milestone 100,000 dead by COVID-19, 40 million unemployed (about 25% of the workforce), and the video-recorded death of George Floyd at the hands of the police in Minneapolis, which touched off protest/rebellion/riot/violence in cities across the country. It is not realistic to be optimistic about this summer. While everybody wants the return of some kind of normality – less threat from COVID-19, going back to work, relaxed shopping, enjoying entertainment in crowds, not worrying about racism and inequality – none of these are realistic. In fact, to fill out the negative picture, add: A record hot summer, severe forest fires, a very active hurricane season, food and unemployment riots, and probably things as yet unconsidered.

Nevertheless, we persist. One step at a time, we do what we can, and any other cliché that helps. There is a focus – work to keep ourselves and the country together so we can vote five months from now.

Saturday, May 23

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases – 1,666,823; Deaths – 98,678

[Election 2020] Biden Wins Hawaii Primary – Biden 63%, Sanders 37%. The balloting was entirely by mail.

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IUY Weekly Journal #44 May 16 – 22, 2020

       Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, May 16 through Friday, May 22, 2020 [#44]

“Identified by Masks”

The Week’s Most Notable

Some people call them the battlefront of the culture wars. Others call them “PPE as fashion statement.” Trump seems to conflate them with a lack of masculinity. Some simply call them “a mask.” Doctors and nurses shake their heads and wonder how wearing a medical mask became a political issue. Thanks largely to Trump, masks are now emblematic; people have been assaulted for wearing them. In some parts of the country not wearing a mask is considered noble resistance. They are emblematic of a second great failure to deal with COVID-19. The first failure was to not start mitigation efforts (social distancing, etc.) as soon as possible. The second failure is happening now – too many states are reopening their economy without a workable plan. Among other things, too many people are unclear about what to do. For example, should they wear masks? Some states require them. Other states don’t even mention them. Most states recommend them for certain circumstances. Meanwhile, learning from experience, epidemiological experts say masks are important for this virus, which transmits primarily through the air as droplets from breathing, talking, coughing, singing, and so forth.

Saturday, May 16

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases – 1,347,000; Deaths – 89,370

[Election 2020] Obama’s Televised Nationwide Commencement Speech – Presidents always do commencement speeches; they don’t often use the speeches to launch a critique of current administrations. Trump’s escalating attacks (“Obamagate”) seem to have crossed a line for Obama, provoking him to say, “Doing what feels good, what’s convenient, what’s easy – that’s how little kids think. Unfortunately, a lot of so-called grown-ups, including some with fancy titles and important jobs, still think that way – which is why things are so screwed up.” Obama will not be on the sidelines during this campaign season.

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IUY Weekly Journal #43 May 9 – 15, 2020

 Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, May 9 through Friday, May 15, 2020 [#43]

“Distract and Divide”

The Week’s Most Notable

It’s probably a valid assumption that most Americans want to – safely – get out of the house, go back to work, even go back to school, and try to piece together what may be our “new normal lives.” Unfortunately, toward that end the events of the week offered only a confusing mishmash: The Trump-GOP seems intent on steering us away from dealing on a national basis with the COVID-19 crisis. Trump has begun splitting with Dr. Fauci. The White House was caught manipulating CDC guidelines. In general, they seem happier in suppressing reality and applying political pressure than in dealing with the fact that the U.S. still has the worst record on COVID-19 in the world. Meanwhile, we the people are stuck with whatever our state can do, which is a mixed bag.

Adding to the flurry of mixed signals, the Senate GOP seems to prefer paralysis to stimulating the economy. That meant the Democratic House passed a new $3 trillion relief bill into thin air. Meanwhile, in a panic about his slipping reelection, Trump seems to have cobbled together a strategy – making Baghdad Bob-style pronouncements, promoting anti-science, muzzling the CDC, firing Inspectors General, unleashing Attorney General Barr (current travesty, the Gen. Flynn case), and revealing the unbelievable, dog-whistle, amorphous thing called Obamagate. None of this is confidence inspiring.

Saturday, May 9

[Coronavirus] U.S. COVID-19 Totals: Deaths – 77,180, Cases – 1,310,000, Hospitalizations – 143,762

[Coronavirus] South Korea Again Closes Bars – President Moon Jae-in disclosed that a single individual visiting a number of bars in Seoul had infected several districts, forcing another closing of bars and the quarantining of many people. South Korea has long been considered one of the leaders in management of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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    EVENT    
 

A quick reminder, we have a regular monthly meeting this coming Wednesday, May 13 at 6:30 PM This will be an online Zoom meeting. If you wish to participate, please reply on this message (if you haven’t already done so) and we will send you the link for the Zoom meeting.

An agenda is copied below. We’ll be looking for suggestions on how to operate during the
conditions of lockdown or partial COVID-19 restrictions. Of course, the Montana primary, June 2, is also on the docket.

Looking forward to seeing you on Zoom,
Nelson and Dixie

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IUY Weekly Journal – #42 May 2 – 8, 2020

Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal

The Week of Saturday, May 2 through Friday, May 8, 2020 [#42]

“Reopening Goes Viral”

The Week’s Most Notable

It’s the stupid economy. This was to be the big week for the White House, shifting from focus on the coronavirus to the “Reopening of America” and resurrection of the economy. The administration used suppression of experts, strategic silence, and Trump’s inimitable brand of contradictory hyperbole to make the issue of COVID-19 begin to appear diminished if not anathema. However, COVID-19 did not cooperate, as rising death rates and poll numbers showed Americans are still very much focused on the effects of the virus. Overall, it was a week of profoundly mixed signals.

It’s a small event but notable. Last Wednesday was National Nurses Day. Trump hosted some nurses in the Oval Office. One, Sophie Thomas, had the temerity to say, “PPE has been sporadic.” Trump jumped in, “Sporadic for you, but not sporadic for a lot of other people. I have heard we have a tremendous supply to almost all places.” Ms. Thomas is president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners and hears from nurses on the front lines all day. Who you gonna believe? That may be the coming struggle in a nutshell. Do you believe reports from the 50 states and the people working to deal with the medical crisis or the economic crisis, who usually report on a lack of resources and the lack of a coordinated national plan? Or do you believe Trump administration reports, especially Trump himself, who usually see things like this: “We’ve loaded up the hospitals with things to take care of people. We’ve ensured a ventilator for every patient who needs one. The testing and the masks and all of the things, we’ve solved every problem. We solved it quickly.” This illustrates the nub of vindictive mendacity in the emerging propaganda war.

Saturday, May 2

[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Crisis: Deaths – 64,943; Cases – 1,133,000; Hospitalizations – 123,860

[Coronavirus] Research: U.S. Death Toll Underestimated – An analysis of federal data by the Yale School of Public Health found the death toll due to COVID-19 to be approximately 1.5 times the official number. Through the first two weeks of April they found an estimated 37,100 excess deaths beyond normal for the period, and 13,500 more than the official figures for COVID-19 related deaths.

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