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Abbreviated Pundit Roundup: Pandemic follies from Republicans as America watches aghast

Quinnipiac:

In the race for the White House, former Vice President Joe Biden opens up a big lead over President Trump. Voters back Biden 51 – 38 percent over Trump. In an April 22nd poll, it was close with Biden at 46 percent and Trump at 42 percent.
Democrats back Biden 89 – 2 percent, independents back Biden 48 – 32 percent, compared to 44 – 37 percent in April, and Republicans back Trump 88 – 10 percent.
“The president doesn’t escape the shifting moods and concerns of voters in Florida. His sagging numbers are a gut punch from one of the key states he keenly hopes to win,” Malloy added.

Trump trails Biden by 13 in Florida. That’s the ball game. There’s no Trump reelection without Florida.

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New Fox News polls:

MI: Biden +9
PA: Biden +11
MN: Biden +13

At this point in 2016, our election model (would have) had Clinton up 5 in MI, up 4 in MN and running even with Trump in PA. So…. this is not the same thing as last time…

— G. Elliott Morris (@gelliottmorris) July 23, 2020

Politico:

Trump’s end run around CDC brings threat of fewer drugs for hospitals

HHS abruptly changed the reporting process, bypassing a long-used CDC system with an alternative designed to more quickly track the virus’ spread.

The Trump administration uses data on coronavirus hospitalizations, drug supplies and ICU beds to allocate scarce Covid-19 treatments, as well as supplies of plasma and protective gear. But last week, the Department of Health and Human Services abruptly changed the reporting process, bypassing a long-used Centers for Disease Control system with an alternative designed to more quickly help track the virus’ spread.

The data changeover marked the latest flashpoint in a power struggle between the Washington, D.C.-based federal health department and the nation’s premier public health agency, located in Atlanta. And now the changeover could result in collateral damage for hospitals whose supplies are in danger and are scrambling to make quick software and staffing changes, according to health industry officials.

Everything they do makes things worse.

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🇺🇸 President Trump’s backs cancel culture, says “it is time to cancel” Jacksonville, Florida part of Republican convention due to coronavirus. Of course he himself had forced the move there because North Carolina would not guarantee in person convention.

— Michael Knigge (@kniggem) July 23, 2020

Politico:

How Portland Could Undermine Trump’s Urban Crackdown

The arrests in Portland now give courts a chance to expose the unconstitutionality of the president’s June executive order. The fight is already underway.

From its inception straight through to its heavy-handed and widely condemned implementation, Trump’s crackdown on protesters has flouted well-established constitutional protections. Just how improper it is should have been clear from the executive order that underpins it. It might not be the quickest way to challenge Trump’s authoritarian crackdown, but anyone with constitutional standing to sue the Trump administration—one of the many people rounded up or injured in Portland, for example—would have a strong case.

Boiled down, the executive order asserts that the president, as the chief federal law enforcement officer, has decided that it is “the policy of the United States to prosecute to the fullest extent permitted under Federal law” any individual who vandalizes government property, incites violence in connection with riots, or “destroys religious property.” Trump’s constitutional power to execute existing laws is not in dispute. Presidents—like governors and attorneys general—can pick and choose which kinds of crimes to enforce and prosecute. When Rudy Giuliani was mayor of New York 20 years ago, he picked on minor offenses like subway stowaways and graffiti as a catalyst for cleaning up the much more serious crime problems in the city. So if Trump wants to protect statues of dead white men, that’s his prerogative.

But Trump‘s executive order goes much further and betrays its malign intent.

WaPo:

Trump’s assault on election integrity forces question: What would happen if he refused to accept a loss?

President Trump’s relentless efforts to sow doubts about the legitimacy of this year’s election are forcing both parties to reckon with the possibility that he may dispute the result in November if he loses — leading to an unprecedented test of American democracy.

With less than four months before the election, Trump’s escalating attacks on the security of mail-in ballots and his refusal again this week to reassure the country that he would abide by the voters’ will have added urgency to long-simmering concerns among scholars and his critics about the lengths he could go to hold on to power.

“What the president is doing is willfully and wantonly undermining confidence in the most basic democratic process we have,” said William A. Galston, chair of the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program. “Words almost fail me — it’s so deeply irresponsible. He’s arousing his core supporters for a truly damaging crisis in the days and weeks after the November election.”

Most legal experts said it is hard to envision that Trump would actually try to remain in office after a clear defeat by former vice president Joe Biden, considering the uproar that would follow such a challenge to U.S. democratic norms. Trump has previously said he offers up inflammatory ideas to provoke the media and his critics.

But his unwillingness to commit to a smooth transition of power has forced academics and political leaders — including, privately, some GOP lawmakers — to contemplate possible scenarios.

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Over 30 million Americans are currently receiving unemployment aid.

The extra $600 a week in aid these people currently receive expires this weekend b/c Congress has yet to act.

That means the typical UI payment will fall from ~$930/week to ~$330/wkhttps://t.co/DmqyXOfy2p pic.twitter.com/88b08NvxNy

— Heather Long (@byHeatherLong) July 23, 2020

Sarah Darville/NY Times:

Reopening Schools Is Way Harder Than It Should Be

So is leaving them closed. Now what do we do?

And President Trump is campaigning for schools to reopen, threatening to withhold funding if they don’t.

The pressure has mounted as school districts have made it clear that they can do no such thing. Across the country — including in Phoenix, Houston and a huge chunk of California, where coronavirus cases are rapidly rising — schools are preparing their students and staffs for a continuation of the “remote learning” that began in the spring. In New York City and Chicago, where the virus is more under control, schools are moving toward a hybrid option with remote learning some days, in-person school others. Even in places like Detroit and Memphis, where districts plan to offer in-person school for those who want it, local leaders could change course if virus cases rise; they also have yet to figure out what to do if too many worried teachers or students opt out.

Outrage over schools’ inability to fully reopen should not, of course, be directed at schools themselves, but at the public health failure that makes it impossible for most of them to do so. 

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“My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr. Yoho treated his daughter. My mother got to see Mr. Yoho’s disrespect on the floor of this House towards me on television. I am here because I have to show my parents that…that they did not raise me to accept abuse from men.” pic.twitter.com/cf0woHRf58

— CSPAN (@cspan) July 23, 2020

TIME:

As the School Year Approaches, Education May Become the Pandemic’s Latest Casualty

Inside Wesley Elementary in Middletown, Conn., plastic shields rise from desks, and cartoon posters exhort children to ᴄᴏᴠᴇʀ ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴄᴏᴜɢʜ. In the middle of a lesson, teacher Susan Velardi picks up her laptop and pans it so her students can see the screen. “Look,” she tells them, “I have a friend that’s joining us at home!”

There’s a new set of ground rules in Velardi’s classroom. “Your mask is on, and your mask stays like this. If we go outside if it’s nice, we have to sit apart,” she tells the students, who will enter third grade in the fall. When one tries to high-five her, she compromises with an “air high five.” Other teachers pepper their lessons with reminders to wear face coverings and to wash hands. “We have to be safe,” a teacher says as she sits on a rug, teaching incoming first-graders how to draw letters.

This is what school can look like amid the coronavirus pandemic. About 130 students in grades 1 through 4 are enrolled in Middletown’s public summer school. They attend classes four days per week, with groups of students alternating weeks of in-person and online instruction. It’s a pilot program the school district designed to catch kids up on reading and help iron out the kinks for the fall, when millions of Americans hoped to send their children back to school. Kids would be able to learn, see friends and be with their classmates; their parents would be able to go to work. Even in a raging global pandemic, public-health experts say in-person schooling is possible, and classrooms have reopened successfully in countries across Europe and Asia.

Long and detailed report of a summer school program in low-virus Connecticut.

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5 ratings changes, all toward Democrats #AZSen: Toss Up ➡️ Lean D#IASen: Lean R ➡️ Toss Up #GASen (Perdue): Lean R ➡️ Toss Up #MNSen: Likely D ➡️ Solid D#NMSen: Likeky D ➡️ Solid D https://t.co/VfxCTnfQYk

— Jessica Taylor (@JessicaTaylor) July 23, 2020

Jessica Taylor/Cook Report:

Almost 100 Days Out, Democrats Are Favored to Take Back the Senate

With just over 100 days until Election Day, the political climate appears dire for Republicans across the board. President Trump is the decided underdog against former Vice President Joe Biden in our Electoral College ratings and Democrats could end up expanding their House majority.

That leaves the Senate as Republicans’ firewall—the final barrier to unified control for Democrats in 2021. While GOP incumbents are trying to run races independent of the president, if Trump’s polling numbers remain this dismal come November, that’s an unenviable and likely unsuccessful strategy, according to several top party strategists. As of now, Democrats are a slight favorite to win the Senate majority.

“Something remarkable would have to happen for Republicans to still have control of the Senate after November,” remarked one GOP pollster. “It’s grim. There’s just so many places where Democrats either have the upper hand or are competitive in states that six months ago we wouldn’t have considered at risk.”

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A new report finds that Deaths of Despair soared in recent years in the Middle Suburbs, key areas where Trump ran up huge 2016 margins.

He needs those margins again. But things are likely getting worse.

I spoke to the report’s author. Fascinating stuff:https://t.co/QwDXg113VX

— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) July 23, 2020

And:

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In major league baseball, most US-born players are white (many are southern born and conservative), most fans are white and older than the average American. Yet, here we are. The cultural shift on this has been profound and Trump is badly misreading it. https://t.co/XwjwdIpazu

— Ryan D. Enos (@RyanDEnos) July 24, 2020

NASCAR banning the traitor flag and baseball taking a universal knee are way better indicators of where things stand than Trump shills writing op-eds in increasingly dire and apocalyptic tones.

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