Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal
The Week of Saturday, September 12 through Friday, September 18, 2020 [Vol.2 No.9]
Ruth Bader Ginsberg
The Week’s Most Notable
What comes next is about a woman who made her mark and is now history, but her legacy is for all women. That’s what the men with power, in this case U.S. senators, may woefully underestimate. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, lately known as RBG, made legal history for women as a lawyer and a judge. she went to the Supreme Court and made more history becoming the doyenne of dissent and eventually an icon of so much that women aspire to be – authentic, powerful, effective. By the end she was even labeled “a rockstar,” which was okay with her. More than anything she wanted women to strive for, to achieve, to enjoy the maximum of their abilities. Her death, though not unexpected, will carry waves of emotion through millions and millions of women voters across the country. These millions will instantly recognize whether her memory is respected, or not. Her dying wish was that she not be replaced until after the next swearing in of a president. Millions of women voters, if the polls are right a majority of women voters, will know this is more than sentimentality. They want the next justice to follow the path of RBG, if not her exact steps. The men of the Republican Senate may fail to understand this and taking up positions or even votes under the banner of power-hungry hypocrites, and will risk well justified defeat in the coming election, if the Democrats don’t miss the opportunity.
Saturday, September 12
[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases – 6,680,563; Deaths – 198,251
[Wildfires] Dozens of Fires Continue on West Coast, At Least 35 Dead – The smoke plume from the western United States will soon be arriving in Europe, one small measure of the scope and impact of the record fires in Washington Oregon and California. During the week the fires ebbed and grew with the variations in weather, but they did not fully come under control. Keep in mind that the fire season in the West is only about half over.
[Election – 2020] Bloomberg Puts up $100 Million to Help Biden Campaign in Florida – Fulfilling his campaign promise from the Democratic primaries, Bloomberg’s contribution, which is said to be targeted for Latinos, represents a substantial boost for Biden in a habitually close race.
Sunday, September 13
[Coronavirus] Israel Imposes Second Nationwide Lockdown – In what appears to be a harbinger for a number of major countries beginning a second wave of coronavirus infection, Israel’s lockdown is comprehensive: people are allowed to venture no further than 500 m from their homes, nonessential businesses including gyms, restaurants, and most schools will close. Great Britain is also considering imposing a new lockdown.
Monday, September 14
[Hurricane – Sally] Slow-Moving Sally Strengthens, Lashes into Gulf Coast – All the forecasts said this was a major “rain event” storm, but after it picked up strength near shore, the storm surge and wind damage joined the flooding rain in the destruction all along the coast, from Florida to Louisiana. More storms are trending in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, so many that storm names have already run through the alphabet and will begin with Greek letters.
[Roger Stone] DOJ Inspector General Opens Investigation on Roger Stone Sentencing – In yet another instance of crosscurrents between Inspectors General and William Barr’s DOJ, while Trump commuted Stone’s sentence, it left dangling why AG Barr previously bothered to reduce his sentence. Questions for the IG to explore.
[DHS – Asylum] Judge Suspends DHS Asylum Policy – The Maryland federal judge ruled that Chad Wolf, the acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, is unlawfully in office, which makes his policy orders invalid. Wolf has threatened to ignore the judge. Resolution, if any, is not likely to happen until after the election.
[Coronavirus] Pennsylvania Judge Strikes Down Governor’s Coronavirus Restrictions – U.S. District Judge William Dickman IV, a recent Trump appointee, ruled the governor’s closing of bars, restaurants and large outdoor gatherings to be an overreach, arbitrary, and unconstitutional. The ruling is highly controversial because it could be applied in other states and will be appealed.
[Immigration] Appellate Court Clears Ending Immigrant Temporary Protected Status – In a decision involving the status of immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Honduras, Nepal, and Sudan; Judge Consuelo Callahan, a GW Bush appointee, ruled the executive branch policy was not judicially reviewable – opening the way for arbitrary deportation. The decision will be appealed to the full court.
Tuesday, September 15
[Racism – Protest] Louisville to Pay $12 million in Settlement with Breonna Taylor Family – Indicative of what must be an extremely complicated legal situation, the bulk cash payment speaks for itself in terms of guilt. It does not settle the situation, with most people still calling for some kind of justice involving the police officers.
[Middle East] Israel, UAE, and Bahrain Ink Diplomatic Pact – The gears of the pact are normalization of relations – trade, communications, protocols. The grease for the gears is money from arms deals, which belies the underlying intent: preparing for war with Iran. Ironically Trump is using these middle eastern deals to promote his Nobel Peace Prize.
[Japan – Elections] Yoshihide Suga Elected Prime Minister by Japanese Parliament – The sudden resignation of previous prime minister Shinzo Abe, due to health reasons, immediately put the mantle on Suga, who is a close ally of Abe and number two in the majority conservative Liberal Democratic Party.
Wednesday, September 16
[Hurricane – Sally] As Feared, Sally Causes Historic Flooding – The water drenched and very slow-moving Category 2 hurricane dumped as much is 35 inches of rain in areas of Alabama and Florida.
[Coronavirus] Trump Urges Big Coronavirus Relief Package – The GOP spent the two weeks since returning to Congress touting their “skinny” coronavirus relief bill. Now Trump calls for a massive bill closer to what the Democrats are offering. It’s difficult to tell if this is cross purposes, simple miscommunication, or deliberate chaos to wind up with – nothing. At the moment it very much looks like there will be no relief bill before the election recess.
[Coronavirus] CDC Director Mangled by Mask Commentary – Dr. Redfield testified to a Senate subcommittee that “I might even go so far as to say that this facemask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID-19 than when I take a COVID-19 vaccine.” Because masks are almost taboo for the Trump-GOP, Trump phoned Dr. Redfield and read him the riot act. The sequence is a disheartening commentary on the state of coronavirus mitigation in the U.S.
[Coronavirus] Caputo Takes Leave of Absence after Facebook Rant – His claims of a “resistance unit” within the CDC and their “sedition,” earned him the instant sobriquet “nut job.” Now he’s gone not only from his job as HHS communications chief and the focal point of CDC medical announcements but quite likely from government. The scandal over White House meddling in CDC communications and medical policy remains, and will be investigated by House committees.
[DOJ – Barr] AG Barr Drops “Sedition” Bomb on Violent Protesters – In a conference call with federal prosecutors Barr urged them to file sedition charges against street protesters who turn to violence, in other words, charging them with insurrection and treason and vastly increasing potential sentencing. Like several other statements and suggestions Barr has made in recent weeks, this was two thirds liberal baiting and one third a chilling potential abuse of power.
[Election – 2020] Scientific American Endorses Joe Biden – This is the scientific publication’s first endorsement in 175 years. Given the disastrously anti-science positioning of Trump, the GOP, and the right-wing media, the endorsement was virtually mandatory.
Thursday, September 17
[Economy] New Unemployment Insurance Claims: 861,610 – This constituted virtually no change in the rate of unemployment for the previous week and marks a continued “stalling out” of the labor market.
[Coronavirus] CDC Did Not Write COVID-19 Testing Guidance, HHS Did – In other words, politicians at Health and Human Services wrote guidelines that were supposed to be developed by medical professionals. This included the notorious reversal of the CDC position to say that people without COVID-19 symptoms did not need testing. This was another of several examples indicating the links to which the White House/Trump were willing to go to feed the American public politically tailored medical information. [Update: On Friday the CDC officially re-reversed the policy against testing people without symptoms. Apparently, an inner-CDC revolt by medical professionals and the obvious malfeasance of HHS control under Caputo forced this issue.]
[U.S. Postal Service] Judge Orders Reversal of USPS Changes to Slow Mail – Perhaps the finishing blow to the Trump-GOP efforts to manipulate the Postal Service into utter dysfunction prior to the election, the federal judge cited “a politically motivated attack” in ordering the USPS to completely reverse and repair policies and procedures designed to hinder mail delivery.
[Coronavirus] Former Pence Staffer Throws Deep Shade on Trump’s Coronavirus Efforts – Olivia Troye, former top homeland security aide to VP Mike Pence, is endorsing Biden because she sees Trump as a weak leader who badly mismanaged the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. She helped run the White House coronavirus task force. “If the president had taken this virus seriously… He would’ve saved lives.”
[Russian Election Meddling] FBI Director Tells Congress Russia Is Again Interfering in U.S. Election – Summarizing the intelligence community consensus, FBI director Christopher Wray said “Russia continues to try to influence our elections.” This statement may get Wray fired, although it’s a moot issue unless Trump is re-elected.
Friday, September 18
[Earthquake] Moderate Earthquake Rattle Southern California – Reminding Californians that burning is not the only way to hell in California, a 4.5 earthquake in the Los Angeles area did no serious damage, except to already frazzled psyches.
[Puerto Rico] Trump to Approve $11.6 Billion Package of Aid for Puerto Rico – The aid is for recovery from hurricane Maria, which you might recall occurred three years ago and for which up till now the Trump administration has deliberately frozen support. The possibility of losing in a general election appears to be enough to unfreeze the hardest heart.
[Supreme Court] Justice Ginsberg Dies, Age 87, Political Upheaval Ensues – By consensus Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a Titan of the law from her earliest days as lawyer and judge through her long service as an associate Justice of the Supreme Court. In an era when all odds were stacked against women in the law, she was a standout warrior who later became an icon of the feminist movement. Now the GOP will attempt to replace her with an ultraconservative woman who will disavow the entire RBG legacy. For Democrats this will not go down easily, if at all. For both parties this will likely become the lead issue of the 2020 election, and a deeply-fraught mess it is likely to be.
[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases – 6,928,304; Deaths – 203,188
Coronavirus (Crisis) Notes
“More than 200,000 dead” has become the rhetorical meme that will epitomize the coronavirus pandemic in the United States for some time. Being first with the worst definitely does not mean “Good job, Donny.”
“Herd mentality” would’ve been the key phrase for the week, if the seriousness of Justice Ginsberg’s death hadn’t overwhelmed it. Nevertheless, it perfectly represents the surreal attitude of Trump’s original quote about the coronavirus, “With time it goes away, you’ll develop, you’ll develop herd – like a herd mentality. It’s going to be, it’s going to be herd-developed, and that’s going to happen. That will happen.” Is there any wonder why Trump couldn’t envision a comprehensive national coronavirus mitigation program?
Racism Protest (Crisis) Notes
It’s worth noting that the Trump-GOP “law and order – violence in the streets” campaign has at least temporarily gone as flat as a cheap carnival balloon. It’s hard to convince people about the imminent threat of street violence in Portland, when a major forest fire is looming near the Portland suburbs. The “threat” of antifa terrorism was always propaganda, and as other real issues became prominent, even the dedication of Fox Media could not sustain credibility.
Constitutional, Political, Election (Crisis) Notes
The battle over Ginsberg’s Supreme Court position gives the GOP control of the narrative. Unfortunately, while the Democrats have the better argument and the moral high ground, it’s debatable whether they have the attitude and skill to punch through the GOP’s political, procedural and narrative advantage. The pessimist’s outlook: The Senate GOP will approve Trump’s nominee, if not before the election, then after during the lame-duck session. Up to four Republican senators may voice opposition, or even vote that way, but the fifth will not stand up. This leaves a very bitter majority, especially if Biden wins and the Senate flips. which may foster ideas for “reforming the court,” that is, adding three or more justices. (Not an easy way to proceed.)
Trump-bits. T: On climate change, “It will start to get cooler, just you watch.” Fits the pattern: No comment from T on new sexual assault claims by former model, Amy Dorris. T: “Remember, Miami Cubans gave me the highly honored Bay of Pigs Award for all I have done for our great Cuban population!” (The Bay of Pigs was the site of a U.S. debacle and there is no such award.) T attacked Biden for not implementing a national mask mandate. (Of course, Biden is not president and has no such authority.)
Quote of the Week
(During a press conference on a COVID-19 vaccine.) “How is it that you don’t trust your own experts? Do you think you know better than they do?” Trump: ”Yeah, in many cases I do.”
[The IUY Weekly Journal assumes readers are passingly familiar with names and events. For more details, check with internet search (Google it).]