‘You Changed The World, George’ … and other news of the week.
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In his new work Analogous Colors, the artist Titus Kaphar depicts an African-American mother holding her child. To complete the work, Kaphar cut out the canvas to show a mother’s loss: Floyd called out to his deceased mother during the 8 minutes and 46 seconds he was pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer. “… For the first time, the red border of TIME includes the names of people: 35 black men and women whose deaths, in many cases by police, were the result of systemic racism and helped fuel the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Their names are merely a fraction of the many more who have lost their lives because of the racist violence that has been part of this nation from its start. Their names are Trayvon Martin • Yvette Smith • Eric Garner • Michael Brown • Laquan McDonald • Tanisha Anderson • Akai Gurley • Tamir Rice • Jerame Reid • Natasha McKenna • Eric Harris • Walter Scott • Freddie Gray • William Chapman • Sandra Bland • Darrius Stewart • Samuel DuBose • Janet Wilson • Calin Roquemore • Alton Sterling • Philando Castile • Joseph Mann • Terence Crutcher • Chad Robertson • Jordan Edwards • Aaron Bailey • Stephon Clark • Danny Ray Thomas • Antwon Rose • Botham Jean • Atatiana Jefferson • Michael Dean • Ahmaud Arbery • Breonna Taylor • and George Floyd.
Star Tribune “George Floyd’s body lay in a carefully polished gold casket reflecting a struggle and a beauty bigger than any one man.
“In the surrounding sanctuary, hundreds of politicians, civic leaders and celebrities gathered Thursday to support a grieving family and pay respects to the 46-year-old black security guard who gasped for air in the final minutes of his life beneath the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer. It was a scene that sparked global anger like few police brutality cases before it, challenging a nation to confront its racial disparities and injustices at the hands of law enforcement.
“‘When I looked this time and saw marches where, in some cases, young whites outnumbered the blacks marching, I know that it’s a different time and a different season,’ said national civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton, referencing a Bible verse in a eulogy that roused several standing ovations. ‘Go on home, George. Get your rest, George. You changed the world, George.’”
Road To Justice
Axios “All four of the former police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd are now facing criminal charges, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said this afternoon. Charges against Derek Chauvin have been upgraded to second-degree murder. He’s the officer who put his knee on Floyd’s neck and kept it there for almost 9 minutes despite pleas that Floyd couldn’t breathe. Thomas Lane, J.A. Kueng and Tou Thao were charged with aiding and abetting murder. All four were fired by the Minneapolis Police Department last week.
The big picture: There is a long history in the U.S. of police not being charged or being acquitted despite killing black men. Every single link in the prosecutorial chain must be strong, because trying this case will not be an easy thing. Winning a conviction will be hard,” Ellison said. Floyd family attorney Benjamin Crump called the charges “a significant step forward on the road to justice, and we are gratified that this important action was brought before George Floyd’s body was laid to rest.”
“As I’ve mentioned before, one inspiration for becoming an editorial cartoonist was watching the horror unfold on television back in 1989. As the 31st anniversary of Tiananmen Square massacre nears, I never dreamed I’d use this visual in my own country.”
– Ann Telnaes
Behind The Bible Shot
Axios “Moments before President Trump began his Rose Garden address, a mass of law enforcement suddenly marched forward in Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. They confronted peaceful protesters as many held up their hands, saying: “Don’t shoot.” AP Soon, law enforcement officers in riot gear were firing tear gas and deploying flash bangs into the crowd. It was a jarring scene as police in the nation’s capital forcefully cleared young men and women gathered legally in a public park on a sunny evening, all of it on live television.
… After his 6:43 p.m. speech in the Rose Garden, Trump and his entourage walked across Lafayette Park to St. John’s Church, “the Church of the Presidents,” where rioters had set a fire in the basement the night before. It was supposed to be a show of strength. But it was widely criticized after peaceful demonstrators were violently ejected to make way for Trump’s photo op. … “When Trump had returned safely to the White House less than an hour later, the verdict seemed clear: The president had staged an elaborate photo op, using a Bible awkwardly held aloft as a prop and a historic church that has long welcomed presidents and their families as a backdrop.”
“We long ago lost sight of normal, but this was a singularly immoral act. The president used force against American citizens, not to protect property, but to soothe his own insecurities. We will all move on to the next outrage, but this was a true abuse of power and should not be forgotten.”
– Brendan Buck, a former top aide to Paul Ryan
The People’s Fortress
WaPo ““In the 72 hours since Monday’s melee at Lafayette Square, the White House has been transformed into a veritable fortress — the physical manifestation of President Trump’s vision of law-and-order ‘domination’ over the millions of Americans who have taken to the streets to protest racial injustice.
“The White House is now so heavily fortified that it resembles the monarchical palaces or authoritarian compounds of regimes in faraway lands — strikingly incongruous with the historic role of the executive mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, which since its cornerstone was laid in 1792 has been known as the People’s House and celebrated as an accessible symbol of American democracy.”
State Of The State
Politico “MAYBE IT’S THE PANDEMIC, maybe it’s the tone the president sets when he treats his Twitter feed like a therapy couch, but the nation’s premier institutions have come under a tremendous amount of stress. They are convulsing — in some cases buckling — and openly warring.”
THE NEW YORK TIMES is holding a town hall today, as the nation’s most important media outlet is in a bit of an open revolt. Reporters have taken to Twitter to criticize the op-ed page for running Sen. TOM COTTON’S (R-Ark.) bring-in-the-military op-ed. Reporters said black journalists would be at risk after its publication. Following a day of defending the decision to publish, the Times issued a statement saying a “rushed editorial process led to the publication of an Op-Ed that didn’t meet our standards.”
THE MILITARY BRASS — current and former are rising up against Trump. Just this week, John Kelly and Jim Mattis have publicly flogged the president. Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempey has criticized him. Various military commanders have felt it necessary to remind the troops what their mission is. Mark Milley — the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — sent a letter. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy posted a video.
“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort.”
“I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind.”
-General James Mattis, the former defense secretary wrote in his extraordinary condemnation. He resigned in December 2018 to protest the president’s Syria policy.
THE PRESIDENT FINALLY AGREED to send home the 82nd Airborne, but only after a contentious meeting with MARK ESPER, the current Defense secretary. NYT
THE AMOUNT OF TUMULT internally in the military and between the military and the president that has spilled into the public seems quite unusual.”
… from the WSJ ed board: “Every President has breakups with advisers, but Mr. Trump has gone through them like an assembly line. His demand for personal loyalty and his thin skin clash with people who care about larger causes and have strong views. Mr. Trump’s habit of blaming others for policy decisions or events that go wrong also builds resentment. This was bound to boomerang as he ran for re-election, and so it is.”
On The Hill
Rollcall “The Labor Department’s Friday report of a modest decline in the unemployment rate to 13.3 percent in May — instead of a rise to Depression-era levels many economists had been expecting — gave Republicans fresh ammunition to move slowly on a new aid package or at least scale back its scope. PERSPECTIVE Today’s report of 2.5 million new jobs in a month is the best month of job growth in U.S. history, but it pales in contrast to April, which was the worst month of job losses in U.S. history. The leisure and hospitality sector gained the most jobs last month: 1.2 million, after losing 7.5 million in April. Government saw the biggest shedding of jobs (585,000).
Politico “The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on police brutality on June 10 as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders push to have a police reform package on the floor by the end of the month.”
THE SENATE passed a fix to the PPP yesterday evening by unanimous consent. The President signed it today. Among other things, companies can use the money for 24 weeks.
Unraveling Of Environmental Protection Laws
NYT “The Trump administration, in twin actions to curb environmental regulations, moved on Thursday to temporarily speed the construction of energy projects and to permanently weaken federal authority to issue stringent clean air and climate change rules.
President Trump signed an executive order that calls on agencies to waive required environmental reviews of infrastructure projects to be built during the pandemic-driven economic crisis. At the same time, the EPA has proposed a new rule that changes the way the agency uses cost-benefit analyses to enact Clean Air Act regulations, effectively limiting the strength of future air pollution controls.
Together, the actions signal that Mr. Trump intends to speed up his efforts to dismantle environmental regulations. … They will also help define the stakes in the 2020 presidential election, since neither effort would likely survive a Democratic victory.
THE FUTURE of Thursday’s actions will depend on the outcome of this November’s election. If former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. defeats Mr. Trump and is inaugurated before the draft rule is made final, a process that can easily take up to a year, his administration could simply discard the E.P.A. proposal. If the rule is made final, but Mr. Biden wins the White House and Democrats take control of the Senate, they could use the Congressional Review Act to quickly undo the Trump-era regulation.”
“… The number of coronavirus tests being conducted has been rising rapidly in recent weeks — which means more virus cases are being uncovered than otherwise would have been. Another key measure is the percentage of tests that come back positive (as Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight has argued), and it has continued to decline.
WaPo “The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged to Congress members Thursday that the national coronavirus response is fraying along several edges. “We’re very concerned that our public health message isn’t resonating,” Robert R. Redfield said, noting that some states are reopening their economies while local infections are still spreading, and many Americans are ignoring the CDC’s advice to wear masks.”
NYT “The President is slipping in the polls in states he won “by wide margins four years ago.” “In private polling conducted by Mr. Trump’s campaign, the president is now well behind Mr. Biden, according to people briefed on the most recent round of results. Several public surveys this week have found Mr. Trump trailing Mr. Biden by double-digit margins, including a Monmouth University poll published on Wednesday that showed Mr. Biden ahead by 11 percentage points.”
Republican’s Convention Update
WaPo “Trump is insisting on a Republican National Convention in August that makes no attempt to spread people apart. “We can’t do social distancing … I don’t want to be sitting in a place that’s 50 percent empty,” he reportedly told North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D), who has balked at the demands.
SO … Axios “The RNC’s executive committee voted Wednesday night to allow most of the convention to move — with only a smaller, official portion remaining in Charlotte — after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said the pandemic would mean a scaled-back event with social distancing and face coverings.”