Tuesday, August 18, 2020

-Donald Trump, trying to own Michelle Obama for lowballing the number of deaths he has caused

The first night of the virtual Democratic convention revolved around the theme of unity across ideological lines, the crises facing the nation, and, less expectedly, Eva Longoria. These were the key moments:

  • Michelle Obama took advantage of the unusual format to deliver a direct, intensely personal appeal to voters about the stakes at hand: “If you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can; and they will if we don’t make a change in this election.” Obama emphasized President Trump’s devastating incompetence, turning his own words against him to drive the point home: “Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.” Take the time to watch her full keynote speech, if you missed it. 
  • Addressing the virtual audience live from his Firewood Room, Bernie Sanders urgently warned that Trump is leading the U.S. “down the path of authoritarianism,” and that the moment demanded “an unprecedented response — a movement like never before.” Sanders once again called on progressives, along with all other Democrats and regretful Trump voters, to unite behind Joe Biden: “The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake.” Also, a chef’s kiss for this line: “Nero fiddled while Rome burned; Trump golfs.”
  • Monday night’s proceedings featured several Biden endorsements from GOP defectors: John Kasich standing at a literal crossroads; a series of regular Republican voters; the CEO of Quibi for some reason. But the most powerful appeal to conservative voters came from Kristin Urquiza, a woman who lost her Trump-supporter father to COVID-19. “My dad was a healthy 65-year-old. His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that, he paid with his life.”
  • This, uh, happened

Three more nights to go! Here’s what’s in store for this evening:

  • Night Two will focus on the themes of leadership and unity among the party’s generations. Leaders of yore like Bill Clinton and John Kerry will speak alongside rising star AOC (in her hotly-anticipated one minute of airtime). Jill Biden will deliver the closing remarks, and we’ll all find out what a virtual delegate roll call vote looks like. 
  • Meanwhile, next week’s Republican convention has begun to take shape, and what a shape it is. Trump will accept the nomination from the White House (setting up everyone around him to violate the Hatch Act), the RNC has filed a permit to set off fireworks at the Washington monument, and convention speakers will include the St. Louis gun couple and Nicholas Sandmann, the Covington Catholic High School kid whose encounter with Omaha tribe elder Nathan Phillips went viral in 2019. Lofty, high-minded stuff.

Round two will be getting underway shortly, starting at 9pm ET/6 pm PT. Watch along with us for real-time commentary, hot takes, and sheepish admissions that we are moved →

If you haven’t checked out Ben Rhodes’s new pod Missing America, you are Missing Out, America. (Really sorry.) The first two episodes are out now, with episode two exploring the rise of nationalism across the West. New episodes drop on Tuesdays! Listen and subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your pods

The GOP-led Senate intelligence committee’s final report on Russia’s interference in the 2016 election revealed new, even closer connections between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives. A few of the stunning revelations: the committee identified Paul Manafort’s associate Konstantin Kilimnik as a Russian intelligence officer, who may have had direct involvement in the GRU’s email hacking operation. The investigation found that two other individuals who met with Trump’s senior advisors (including Jared Kushner and Don Jr.) had “significant connections to the Russian government, including the Russian intelligence services.” President Trump did indeed discuss the stolen Democratic emails with Roger Stone, contrary to what Trump told Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and the campaign worked with WikiLeaks to time the release of the emails to mitigate fallout from the Access Hollywood tape.

Again, this report is the result of a bipartisan investigation, and it’s more damning than Mueller’s own findings: Trump’s campaign coordinated directly with Russian intelligence, and Trump knew about and welcomed the election interference. Anyway, here’s a fan letter Trump sent to Vladimir Putin in 2007.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy did not take this job expecting to get yelled at. DeJoy released a statement today promising to put some USPS policy changes on hold for now, since all of you insist on being so paranoid: “To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded.” The statement notably says nothing about reversing the changes that have already contributed to mail delays. Will the mail-sorting machines that have already been removed from facilities be put back? Will postal workers still be instructed to leave mail behind? At least 20 states have joined lawsuits against DeJoy and the USPS, and DeJoy will still testify before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Monday. Republicans have also called him to appear before a GOP-led Senate committee on Friday to “tell his side of the story” first. Clever, but you know who else is on that panel? Kamala Harris.

When 3 o’clock rolls around and you’re not feeling so perky, remember: it’s not laziness, it’s biology. Our energy levels naturally dip in mid afternoon, and it’s totally normal to feel like your mind has switched to low power mode.

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A federal judge has temporary blocked Idaho from enacting a law that would ban transgender athletes from playing on teams that match their gender identity.

Desmond Meade, the executive director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, voted today after 30 years of disenfrachisement. (Adopt Florida!)

Scientists in Kenya may have just saved northern white rhinos from extinction.

Ady Barkan spoke with the New York Times ahead of his convention appearance tonight, and had this to say about hope: "Hope is not a state of mind. It is a state of action. It is in the praxis of resistance, solidarity and love that we can find a path to a brighter world. That is how I get through the darkness."
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