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The Washington Report: June 19, 2020 … “Juneteenth”
19 Jun 2020

The Washington Report: June 19, 2020 … “Juneteenth”

Today Is Juneteenth …  Supremes: On DACA, On Discrimination … Gorsuch?! … Dems Pitch $1.5 Trillion Infrastructure Spending … Is Trump Trying To Spread Covid-19? … Closing The Loop & The Lid … Presidential Poll … Everybody In D.C. Hates John Bolton.. and other news of the week.
Joyce Rubenstein
Capstone National Partners

Today Is Juneteenth … Freedom Day

Yes it is.
It commemorates the day when slavery officially ended in the US: June 19, 1865. President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. But it took two and a half years for that news to reach all of the Confederate states. Weeks after Confederate General Robert E Lee surrendered in 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX, with Union soldiers and relayed the news: that “in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States,” all of Texas’s approximately 250,000 enslaved people were now free.
And was it immediate?
Unfortunately not. Some plantation owners waited until after the year’s harvest to comply. But the date took on a profound meaning for Black communities. In the 1870s, a group of Black residents in Houston raised the money to buy 10 acres of land and create Emancipation Park – a place to formally celebrate Juneteenth. As Black families migrated across the states in the years following the Civil War, many took Juneteenth celebrations with them. But under the Jim Crow era, some Black Americans were barred from accessing public spaces, and Juneteenth celebrations were often confined to the Black community.
Is it considered a holiday?
In some places. In 1980, Texas became the first to name Juneteenth a state holiday. And currently, all but three states recognize it. (Looking at you Hawaii, North Dakota, and South Dakota.) The holiday is considered a time to reflect and celebrate liberation – marked with things like parades, music, and food. This year, corporate America is getting on board in light of the nationwide protests sparked by George Floyd’s death and the fight against systemic racism. Companies like Nike, Mastercard, Twitter, and the NFL are giving employees the day off. But there’s also been a push for years to make it a federal holiday – which would close down most government offices, schools, banks, and many businesses for the day.
(Atlantic) Juneteenth … celebrates a “belated liberation.” … [when] freedom finally reached the isolated state of Texas. In the century and a half since, the holiday “has retained that sense of belatedness,” that sense that justice for black Americans remains overdue. As the belated emancipation embedded in the holiday foretold generations of black codes, forced labor, racial terror, police brutality, and a century-long regime of Jim Crow, it also imbued the holiday with a sense of a Sisyphean prospect of an abridged liberty, with full citizenship always taunting and tantalizing, but just one more protest down the road. As … noted in 2019: The tenor of Juneteenth has changed. Black Americans see more clearly just how deep white supremacy rests in the country’s bones. The sorrow now predominates, and with it comes an urgency to hold power to account, and to remember who and what is owed.”
(AP) Juneteenth: A day of joy and pain – and now national action”: “In just about any other year, Juneteenth, … would be marked by African American families across the nation with a cookout, a parade, a community festival, a soulful rendition of ‘Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.’ But in 2020, as the coronavirus ravishes black America disproportionately, as economic uncertainty wrought by the pandemic strains black pocketbooks, and as police brutality continues to devastate black families, Juneteenth is a day of protest. …

Four pieces worth revisiting

Juneteenth is cause for celebration, but also contemplation. Gillian B. White, deputy editor, led the curation of this collection of essential Atlantic coverage on race and racism … as you reflect on both America’s progress and its many failed promises.

1. “The Freedman’s Story” by William Parker (1866)
A man who escaped slavery tells his story and shares the joys of newfound freedom …
2. “Reconstruction” by Frederick Douglass (1866)
The famed orator and statesman reflects …

3. “Lincoln’s Plans of Reconstruction” by Allan B. Magruder (1876)
A senator mourns the death of Abraham Lincoln and his plans for reconstruction …
A history professor reflects on the ongoing failings of Reconstruction …
“Racism—like the constitutional persuasions sometimes practiced, wittingly or not, to defend it—never dies honestly. History is never so easy.”

Thanks To Trump (Ironic, right)

“[Trump] … scheduled his first campaign rally since the coronavirus pandemic on June 19 in Tulsa, the site of a 1921 race massacre that remains one of the worst incidents of racial violence in our contemporary history.  … The Trump campaign moved the rally to Saturday but didn’t abandon Tulsa. In fact, the president said in an interview with the WSJ on Thursday that he deserved credit for putting Juneteenth on the map.
He also underscored the deep flaws and baked-in racism of the American education system … When the School Library Journal did a quick poll this week, it found that 90% of the educators who responded don’t include Juneteenth in their teaching.  It’s one of the foundations for the division and ignorance tearing at America today — the white history curriculum masquerading as American history — no matter how well-meaning, woke or supportive we think we are. All those green cookies on St. Patrick’s Day and construction paper Santa Marias on Columbus Day, but did any schools cover the deep scars of slavery on our nation and how black Americans today reckon with it?
Strawberry soda and red velvet cake are part of the holiday, symbolizing the blood spilled in slavery. Historians also connect red to the power and spirituality the color holds in some West African cultures.
… “It’s a day of joy and solemnity,” said Professor Sybil Roberts Williams, director of African American and African diaspora studies at American University. “There’s this issue that slavery ended, but it took two years to get the word out. How did that happen? It was just so tragic that freedom was delayed for two whole years — that’s an important thing to talk about.”
…It’s a day to talk about the unfinished business of America’s original sin. It widens the conversation to include all the other ways the system — Jim Crow, redlining, the Tulsa Race Massacre — has wronged black Americans. Thanks to Trump (ironic, right?), Nike, Best Buy, Target and The Washington Post — and many others — are finally acknowledging the holiday.” (… excerpt Petula Dvorak, WaPo)

Juneteenth: National Holiday

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said Thursday that Senate Democrats will introduce a measure making Juneteenth a national holiday, the same day Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) announced he will advance a similar measure. Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) has introduced corresponding legislation in the House.

Supremes NOT Always Predictable


Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to block the Trump admin’s attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Obama-era program protects nearly 650,000 immigrants brought to the U.S. by their parents  – known as Dreamers – from being deported. But in 2017, the Trump admin announced the end of the program it called “unconstitutional” – arguing that immigration law should be passed through Congress, not by the president. Several states and DACA recipients sued, arguing the move was motivated in part to “punish and disparage” immigrants. Now SCOTUS is saying the gov didn’t provide a good enough explanation. And that it failed to mention how it would help DACA recipients if the program were to end. SCOTUS says the Trump admin can try again to shut down the program but only if it provides better justification. It’s something the president appears to be gearing up for, saying “we have to start this process all over again.”

Landmark Victory To LGBTQ Workers

The news was SCOTUS’s second blow to the Trump admin this week after … SCOTUS ruled 6-3 that the Civil Rights Act protects LGBTQ employees from discrimination. For more than half a century, Title VII of the CRA banned employment discrimination on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” Now, the Supremes say the definition of sex covers gay, bisexual, and transgender workers. Meaning, it’s illegal for employers to fire workers on the basis of their LGBTQ status. (theSkimm)

Gorsuch? Gorsuch!

WaPo “If the first shock Monday morning was that the conservative Supreme Court had delivered a landmark victory to gay and transgender workers, the second was the opinion’s author: President Trump’s first nominee for the high court, Neil M. Gorsuch. In his 38 months on the court, Gorsuch has shown himself to be one of its most reliable conservative members, more comfortable on the right edge with Justice Clarence Thomas than toward the middle with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.  He’s been known more for his dissents than his majority opinions, and it is not usually the case that the most junior member of the majority take the lead in writing what will be one of the most famous cases of the term.

CONTEXT: [In a recent book], Gorsuch made an extensive case for “textualism,” meaning that the words of the statute in question take prominence, not the intentions of legislators or the consequences of the judicial decision. … Gorsuch acknowledged that members of Congress in 1964 were not intending to protect LGBTQ individuals, but what mattered, he said, is the law they wrote.

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, a former Roberts clerk, said Tuesday that the decision “represents the end of the conservative legal movement.” Harvard law professor Noah Feldman wrote in a Bloomberg opinion piece that the landmark ruling “will mean liberals must treat Gorsuch as a serious justice, not just a Trump minion.”
This week is just the beginning of the court’s major decisions of the term: restrictions on abortion, religious liberty cases, and President Trump’s legal battle to keep his financial records from Congress and prosecutors await.

Qualified Immunity. What The Supremes Will NOT Be Taking Up

theSkimm “Monday, the Supreme Court decided against reviewing the 1982 legal doctrine that protects police officers and gov officials from being sued if they were accused of misconduct. They said ‘pass’ to at least seven cases involving qualified immunity – on issues ranging from the use of tear gas in a suspect’s home to the shooting of a 10-year-old boy during a police pursuit. Justices Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor have questioned the doctrine, but four votes are needed for the Supremes to review a case. The court didn’t provide a reason for why it was passing over the issue. But both Democrats and Republicans are debating qualified immunity in their police reform legislation.”

Dems Pitch $1.5 Trillion In Infrastructure Spending

BGov “House Democrats today offered a $1.5 trillion bill to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, calling on Trump to immediately engage in discussions on how to pay for it. The House is scheduled to vote on the bill before the July 4 recess, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that she hopes bipartisan interest in rebuilding crumbling roads, bridges, water systems and other U.S. infrastructure prevails against the political inertia that has stalled action on the long-discussed issue.”

Highway Bill

Republicans tried but failed this week to weaken environmental and climate-friendly provisions in a $500 billion highway bill the House Transportation and Infrastructure panel continued to move Thursday. The package (H.R. 2) attempts to make one of the biggest legislative packages before Congress this year a greener effort, partly by making roads, bridges, and other infrastructure more resilient to severe weather, rising sea level and other climate-related effects. But House Democrats also are seeking to authorize funding of electric vehicle charging, including grants for EV charging and hydrogen fueling stations, and by building more bike lanes and other alternatives to roadways. Committee Chair DeFazio said he hopes to wrap up the markup of the highway bill this week.


Grassley Eyes Bill to Boost Watchdog Protections: Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) unveiled a bipartisan plan that would seek to strengthen a 2008 inspector general protection law. The legislation would make clear Congress’ expectations from the White House when a president decides to remove an inspector general, Grassley wrote in a statement. Supporters include Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI).

Is Trump Trying To Spread Covid-19?

“…we have a president who, instead of wearing a mask, turns defiance of mask-wearing into a heroic act of defiance against liberals; who forces 1,100 West Point cadets to travel back to campus, and quarantine for two weeks, so he can get a photo op addressing their graduation; who is planning a mass rally in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday — where the most notable precaution is that you sign a legal disclaimer that you “voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to Covid-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President Inc.” liable — and who hails governors who open bars and restaurants for people to crowd together.”
Interesting read from Thomas Friedman. Click Here.

Closing The Loop … On Hydroxychloroquine

This week, the FDA withdrew its emergency use authorization issued in March for hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment. The antimalarial drug – promoted by President Trump – has been controversial among health experts, who’ve pointed out there’s little evidence it helps prevent COVID-19. Now, the FDA’s saying that clinical trials show the drug is “unlikely to produce an antiviral effect” against the coronavirus. And that its potential benefits “no longer outweigh” potential risks.”

Closing The Lid … Really

WaPo “Our methods to prevent the spread of the coronavirus keeps growing: social distancing, rigorous hand washing, face masks and now the latest — closing the lid before we flush. Scientists who simulated toilet water and air flows found that aerosol droplets forced upward by a flush appear to spread wide enough and linger long enough to be inhaled. Experts call it the “toilet plume.” Combine that with the fact that coronavirus has been found in the feces of patients, and you can see what we’re getting at.”

Charges in Atlanta

Axios “A former Atlanta police officer was charged Wednesday with felony murder, aggravated assault and other offenses in the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, less than a week after the 27-year-old black man’s killing set off a new wave of protests against racism and police brutality. The former officer, Garrett Rolfe, faces a total of 11 charges, according to Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard Jr. At a news conference Wednesday, Howard said Brooks’s killing was unjustified and found that he posed no threat to Rolfe’s life. Howard said Rolfe’s colleague, Officer Devin Brosnan, had been charged with aggravated assault and other related counts.”

Campaign 2020

Fox News Poll: Joe Biden 50% – Trump 38%

Politico “Not only is the topline of the latest FOX NEWS national poll troubling for President Trump — he’s down 12 — but if you dig deeper, you see that Trump is leading Biden by only 9 points among rural voters. In 2016, Trump won that segment of the population by nearly 30 points.”

Bolton Bombshells

The Hive “The former national security adviser’s hotly-anticipated book describes Trump cozying up to authoritarian leaders, being “stunningly uninformed” about global politics, and repeatedly using U.S. foreign policy for his own political gain.
Axios “John Bolton’s brutal memoir about his 17 months in the White House … There has never been — and may never be — another book like this. Trump’s national security adviser took hyper-detailed, real-time notes, and is sharing them with the world just nine months after leaving. The Justice Department last night asked a federal judge for an emergency temporary restraining order against publication of “The Room Where It Happened,” scheduled for next Tuesday.
But it’s too late: some 200,000 copies of the book have been bound and shipped to booksellers, and nearly every major media outlet in the United States has a copy.”
Among the most damaging revelations: Trump Asked China for help getting reelected.  And, Bolton said Trump gave Xi the green light to build concentration camps in Xinjiang.
Biden said last night: “[M]y message to China’s leaders, or anyone else who President Trump might invite to interfere: … Stay out of our elections.”

John Bolton: Friendless In D.C.

WaPo “John Bolton has few friends left in D.C. A day after excerpts from his bombshell new book emerged excoriating Trump, the former national security adviser has managed to turn everyone against him. Republicans say he’s a disgruntled sensationalist who’s merely trying to make money off his book. And Democrats, once buoyed by Bolton’s turn against Trump, now say he is “unpatriotic” for documenting his claims in a book rather than testifying before Congress during Trump’s impeachment inquiry.”

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