“This is magnificent artwork… As good as you see in France..” – The Art Critic in Chief, on Confederate statues

Wild Goose Trace

Did President Trump formally order a slowdown in coronavirus testing, or did he simply inject that poisonous sentiment into every aspect of the administration’s pandemic response, causing the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans?

  • White House officials spent the last two days insisting Trump was just goofing around on Saturday at his rally in Tulsa, OK, when he hilariously claimed to have issued a directive to “slow the testing down, please.” Trump threw them all under the bus today, telling a reporter who asked if he was kidding, “I don’t kid.” A few hours later, Dr. Anthony Fauci told a House panel that the coronavirus task force was never given that order. The plot thickens.

  • What we do know is that Trump has repeatedly whined about the country’s improved testing capacity, as recently as today: “With smaller testing we would show fewer cases!” Trump’s desire for “smaller testing,” whether he made it an explicit command or not, is reflected in actual policy: This month the Trump administration will end funding and support for 13 local testing sites across five states. Texas, where cases are spiking and people seeking tests are already facing long lines, will be hit particularly hard by that decision. You might recall that the government tried to end support for those sites back in early April, and only extended it until now after a public backlash.

  • Thanks to Trump, we’re functionally trapped in perpetual April. Fauci warned House lawmakers that the country is experiencing a “disturbing surge” in infections, and that the next couple of weeks will be critical in addressing it. At least 25 states have reported a rise in new cases compared to last week. According to former acting CDC director Richard Besser, no state has effectively transitioned from lockdown “to a public health model of testing, tracking, isolating and quarantining.” If only someone had prioritized that transition during the lockdown, perhaps (just spitballing here) a federal government of some kind?

One of our biggest problems is contact tracing, and it isn’t a matter of numbers alone.

The scale of Trump’s coronavirus failures might elude his supporters, but it’s perfectly clear to the rest of the world: European Union countries are presently preparing to ban Americans travelers when they reopen their borders in July. As long as we’re all trapped here, we might as well focus on making it the place we want to be → https://votesaveamerica.com.

Look No Further Than The Crooked Media

To celebrate Pride, join us for Crooked’s “First and Hopefully Last Annual At-Home Pride Parade” — a live virtual event featuring a bunch of Crooked hosts and special guests to raise money for LGBTQ organizations including groups on the ground right now fighting for trans lives.

So please tune in to Crooked Media’s YouTube channel on Wednesday, June 24th at 8pm EST, 5pm PT for a 90 minute “Parade.” Lovett bought glitter. So that’s worrisome.

Under The Radar

More than 700 cities have been forced to halt plans to repair roads, buy new equipment, and improve critical infrastructure. Remember when state and local governments were pleading with Congress to approve another coronavirus stimulus package to shore them up, but Mitch McConnell put it off to focus on confirming more Trump judges? That hasn’t worked out too great. Officials have had to cancel infrastructure projects or put them on hold to cover major holes in their budgets, which could in turn worsen municipal services and harm local businesses. That will have a ripple effect on the country’s economic recovery, but the damage will be done by the time President Trump can be compelled to care.

What Else?

A 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit the southern coast of Mexico, killing at least four people and injuring several others. Tsunami waves have been reported along the coast.

The House Judiciary Committee has begun the process to subpoena Attorney General Bill Barr for his testimony on July 2. Chairman Jerry Nadler had been reluctant to bother, but Barr’s botched firing of federal prosecutor Geoffrey Berman over the weekend ramped up the pressure.

The committee will hear from two Justice Department officials on Barr’s politicization of the agency tomorrow, and prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky’s opening statement doesn’t mince words: “What I heard – repeatedly – was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the President.”

New York, Kentucky, and Virginia held primary elections today. Kentucky’s Democratic Senate primary is a hot one to watch, as are several New York House races. In-person voting seems to have gone smoothly, for the most part, but the high volume of mail-in ballots means we might not have results right away.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) won’t rule out getting rid of the filibuster if Joe Biden gets elected. “I will not stand idly by for four years and watch the Biden administration’s initiatives blocked at every turn,” he said. Coons has long resisted filibuster reform, so that’s a hopeful shift.

Trump has reportedly told aides that he’s open to another round of stimulus checks, presumably with his name on them, thinking it would help him get re-elected. Republican leaders are still skeptical.

Protesters attempted to topple a statue of Andrew Jackson outside the White House on Monday night, and Trump threatened them with “long-term jail sentences.”

The FBI has determined that NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace was not the victim of a hate crime. The noose found over his garage was evidently a door pull shaped like a noose that had been there for months. No follow-ups!

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city will form an illegal fireworks task force, complete with “undercover buys” and “sting operations.” Meanwhile, conspiracy theories about the proliferation of fireworks across the country have lit up the internet like…like some kind of bright, exploding thing.

Four episodes of 30 Rock, three of which involved blackface, will be scrubbed from streaming services. Liz-Lemon-grimacing.gif

An opera house in Barcelona reopened with a concert for an audience of 2,292 plants. (There is video.) Sure, nature is healing, but nature is hearing? Sorry sorry sorry sorry.

Be Smarter

People with ties to the Chinese government used political donations to gain influence with President Trump, as early as 2017. Chinese nationals poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Trump’s reelection bid soon after he took office, and were rewarded with access to Republican fundraisers and GOP leadership meetings, where Trump or Republican leaders were present. Several of them were connected with China’s national security apparatus, and briefed prominent Chinese political figures on their efforts. It’s unclear if any of the contributions violated U.S. laws.

What A Sponsor

Five Days is a kaleidoscopic account of the Baltimore uprising that followed Freddie Gray’s death in 2015. It was a movement that captured the attention of the nation and the world, and has become a powerful precursor to the Black Lives Matter movement of 2020.

New York Times bestselling author Wes Moore (The Other Wes Moore) and journalist Erica L. Green recount five days in the life of a city on the edge, told through eight characters on the frontlines: Partee, a conflicted black major of the Baltimore Police Department; Jenny, a young white public defender who’s drawn into the violent center of the uprising herself; Tawanda, a young black woman who’d spent almost two lonely years protesting the killing of her own brother by police; and John Angelos, scion of one of the city’s most powerful families and executive vice president of the Baltimore Orioles, who had to make choices of conscience he’d never before confronted.

Each shifting point of view contributes to an engrossing, cacophonous account of one of the most consequential moments in our recent history, which is also an essential look at the deeper causes of violence, and the small seeds of hope planted in its aftermath.

Is That Hope I Feel?

Over 300 Black artists and executives, led by Kendrick Sampson and Tessa Thompson, have called on Hollywood to divest from the police.

More than 1,600 Google employees have signed an internal petition calling for the company to stop selling its software to police.

Twitter is the latest company to make Election Day a paid holiday for its employees.

Ben & Jerry’s is the latest company to hop on board an advertising boycott of Facebook. A beautiful day to scroll through Twitter with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, an activity we’re just thinking of now for the first time.

Enjoy

Deirdre on Twitter: “the video is called Magpie Hangs Upside Down and that’s exactly what it is and yet I was somehow happily surprised

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