1.A. “Heat now kills more Americans than floods, hurricanes or other natural disasters – but cities are facing it almost entirely alone.” So reports The Guardian in a multi-article report on Tuesday. “The heatwave that has recently swept the US has put 100 million Americans under heat warnings; caused power cuts in California where temperatures in places such as Palm Springs approached 50C (122F); and resulted in deaths from New York to the Mexican border, where people smugglers abandoned their clients in the desert. Further north, in Canada, more than 70 people perished in the Montreal area after a record burst of heat….
B. Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke thinks he knows what is to blame for those California wildfires. And it is not climate change. No. “Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is partially blaming ‘radical environmentalists’ for the dozens of wildfires burning in California and elsewhere in the West. In a USA Today opinion piece published Wednesday, Zinke said ‘active forest management’ — including logging, prescribed burns and clearing brush — is the way to minimize wildfires on federal land. But green groups sue the federal government to stop such management practices, Zinke charged, exacerbating the problem.” As reported in The Hill on Tuesday: http://thehill.com/policy/400872-zinke-blames-radical-environmentalists-for-wildfires
Zinke is correct that fires are a part of the natural balance of the ecosystem. Some areas have been kept from from good fire management by bad practices and by lawsuits, it is true. But when green groups sue to prevent fires, it is often to keep a different ecological balance intact and protected from poor management that may endanger a whole species. And these huge out of control wildfires are a unique danger to homes and whole villages. So Scientists are not blaming environmentalists. Zinke’s agenda is likely just to keep logging interests unfettered.
This will be a major debating point among Republicans. “At a public meeting not far from the California town of Redding last year, the US congressman Doug LaMalfa said that he ‘didn’t buy’ human-made climate change. ‘I think there’s a lot of bad science behind what people are calling global warming,’ he said on another occasion.” So reportedThe Guardian on Aug. 1. “Experts agree that forests are abnormally dense, a factor they link to the suppression of wildfires, which might otherwise have thinned out the trees. But they say it is unequivocal that climate change is leading to a longer fire season and drier vegetation.” And of course it is true that people are moving deeper into forested areas.
But this has become an ideological debate over climate change and environmentalism. For a review of the science here, including the acknowledgement that some fire is a part of natural cycles, but noting that the new conditions are likely the result of climate change, see this article in The New York Times on Oct.11, 2017. See also the rebuttal of Trump by Peter Gleick, a hydroclimatologist, co-founder of the nonprofit Pacific Institute and member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, in The Washington Post for Aug. 8. Glieck acknowledges the need for better forest management, especially of dry brush. But there are also climate and water resource issues that must be addressed.
[Note: back in 2010, The Huffington Postreported that “The billionaire Koch brothers, one of clean energy’s most effective national opponents and funders of the increasingly influential Tea Party, contributed their first $1 million in the fight to overturn California’s climate and energy laws in this year’s election. No doubt there is more to come.” So the arguments over the wildfires have this taint of the political struggle, of long standing in California, to control natural resources.]
2. The greatest danger to American democracy you never heard of? How about a new Constitutional Convention? It may not be as far fetched as you think. It takes a UK newspaper, The Guardian, to warn Americans of a looming danger from the Koch-supported Alec, the organization that works on state legislative issues from a far-right perspective. “Convention of States, with Alec’s support, is one of three prominent conservative groups pushing for a new constitutional convention. Under article V, if two-thirds of state legislatures so choose, they can force congress to convene such a meeting. On the agenda for Convention of States: an amendment to require a balanced budget, term limits for congress, repealing the federal income tax and giving states the power to veto any federal law, supreme court decision or executive order with a three-fifths vote from the states.
“’The only chance we have to restore this country, that is peaceful, is this convention,’ said Jim Moyer, a Convention of States supporter and attendee at the Alec annual meeting. It’s not as far fetched as it sounds. A coalition seeking just the balanced budget amendment currently has 28 out of the required 34 state legislatures on board, with active bills calling for a convention. [emphasis added] Since Trump’s election, Arizona and Wyoming have both passed bills to join in the call while Maryland, Nevada and New Mexico have repealed versions they had previously put on the books…..
As The Guardian points out, it is not only conservatives who have called for a convention: some leftist groups want one too, to combat money in electoral politics, but they do not have Alec’s kind of power. Alec is looking at a multi-year effort. And of course much depends on Republicans keeping those many state legislatures Democrats lost in the Obama years. So this is a long and not easy political road. But do stay tuned as this may enter the news over time.
A long analysis of the possibilities and risks of such a convention came, again from the UK, in last September’s The Economist. The magazine reports that “Pete Sepp of the National Taxpayers’ Union (NTU), which has long advocated a balanced-budget amendment, puts the probability of an Article V convention being called by 2020 at 50-50. So does Jay Riestenberg of Common Cause, an organisation devoted to government reform which fiercely opposes an Article V convention.” https://www.economist.com/briefing/2017/09/30/america-might-see-a-new-constitutional-convention-in-a-few-years*Highly recommended reading
3. A. Medicare for all? This will be a hotly debated issue as the electoral season heats up, and for some time to come. We begin our coverage with the debate over one of the most contested questions: can we afford it? There is a surprising amount of disagreement on the issue, and a lot depends on how we choose to pay for it. Will eliminating premiums and applying the discount to taxes do it? Here is how the matter played out in a series of opinion pieces in The Washington Post:
Back in July, Megan McArdle reported on a study of costs and benefits of a universal Medicare program from the Koch-funded Mercatus Center. “[They have] a new report out on the costs of the [Senator Bernie Sanders’s] pet project,” she wrote. “Under certain assumptions, the report found, Medicare for All would reduce total U.S. health expenditures by about $2 trillion over a 10-year period.” Sound promising? Well …”Charles Blahous, the report’s author, seems to be trying to meet leftists halfway — to show them how far they still have to go if they want to pass Medicare for All. Where he has to make assumptions, he is as generous as possible to the Sanders plan. He assumes, for example, that it would pay all providers at the current reimbursement rates set by Medicare, rather than by the higher rates that private insurers pay; that there would be substantial savings in administrative costs; and that Medicare can save lots of money on drug prices.
“Having stacked the deck in favor of ‘M4A,’ as Sanders calls his proposal, Blahous then comes up with a price tag: By 2031, the federal government would be spending an additional $4.2 trillion a year. [emphasis added] For reference, the amount is slightly more than the total the U.S. government expects to spend this year. Suddenly doubling the federal budget has happened once before in modern history: during World War II.
So where does this leave us? A counter-argument comes from Diane Archer, founder and former president of the Medicare Rights Center and president of JustCareUSA.org. In the Aug. 1 Washington Post, she writes, “Something interesting is happening in the age of Trump: 63 percent of Americans support a national health insurance plan, or Medicare for All, in which the federal government would guarantee health insurance for everyone in the country…. Blahous and his friends miss the point. Our commercial health insurance system is crazy and unsustainable, and Medicare for All is the only realistic path to reduce national health spending and improve the quality of our health-care system. [emphasis added]
“Sen. Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All proposal improves and expands the current Medicare program, replacing commercial health insurance with federally administered coverage for all Americans. The proposal eliminates premiums, deductibles and co-pays, and includes new coverage for vision, hearing and dental care. It allows everyone to use the doctors and hospitals they know and trust, anywhere in the country, without the restrictive networks, arbitrary denials and high out-of-pocket costs that go hand in hand with commercial insurance.
Medicare for All, like Social Security, is social insurance, designed to pool and broadly distribute the costs of care across the entire population. At its core, Medicare for All gives doctors and hospitals the freedom to compete for patients without insurers getting in the way.
On Aug. 12, the editorial board of The Post weighed in. “An analysis of an earlier version of Mr. Sanders’s Medicare-for-all plan from the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, concluded that provider payment rates would have to be substantially higher, significantly raising the national health-care spending tab. Even then, care shortages would result. For his part, Mr. Blahous estimates an additional $5.4 trillion in spending if rates are more realistic. That would erase the $2 trillion in savings he projected under the rosiest scenario.
“Mr. Sanders frequently points to European single-payer programs that provide health care to all and spend less per person than the U.S. health system. But these programs have mainly been successful in restraining growth in health-care costs, not slashing spending. The Europeans have not found some secret formula to cut health-care spending from existing levels, which is the keystone of Mr. Sanders’s plan.
So the debate is on, and perhaps with enough eyes on this prize, a reasonable way forward can be found. True, European countries (and Canada) are more successful at controlling costs. And they tend to have smaller populations, with better income distribution and very high taxes (for example, the huge revenue-raising VATs). Even so, there are often disruptions and shortages in the systems.
But it is also true that 70 years ago, a Britain struggling to recover from the devastation of WWII managed to establish a National Health Service that, for all its flaws, is still a model of government aid to all citizens. *Highly recommended reading
B. Why do we need universal health coverage? We offer this heartbreaking story from CNN on Wednesday. Kate Weisman of Boston “underwent 55 rounds of radiation, 17 rounds of chemotherapy and surgery to remove cancerous lymph nodes. Her battle was twofold: the fight for her life and the fight with her insurance company, UnitedHealthcare….
“Weissman had six highly esteemed oncologists advocating on her behalf, including five who also teach at Harvard Medical School and a sixth who was once named among America’s top doctors by Newsweek. Aides in the offices of Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey also pressed UnitedHealthcare about covering Weissman’s proton treatment. Her doctors believed that proton therapy would be the most effective treatment in curing her cancer because it could pinpoint the area around her lymph nodes without causing damage to nearby organs…. UnitedHealthcare denied Weissman coverage for proton beam therapy after multiple appeals, saying ‘there is not enough medical evidence to show proton beam therapy is effective for your particular condition,’ an analysis disputed by her medical team.” UHC could not supply justification or the reason it used as a consultant a doctor who is not board certified in gynecological oncology, opened a tattoo-removal shop, and was later disciplined for “allowing a non-doctor to use laser equipment without a physician present. She was reprimanded by the state board of physicians and ordered to pay $1,000. According to the documents, Yates [the doctor] did not have hospital privileges.”
4. Readers will have heard of the charges made in her new book by Omarosa Manigault Newman. She may or may not be a reliable source, of course. We note that her story of Trump’s racist language on the set of The Apprentice has been generally confirmed by Tom Arnold and, on Wednesday, by Penn Jillette. But if you are among our readers, this story will hardly surprise. The more shocking thing revealed by the Omarosa matter may in the long run be the disclosure that White House officials had to sign strict non-disclosure agreements barring them from ever speaking about what transpired there.
Why is this unusual and important? NDAs do exist in the private sector, but in government they are almost always used for matters pertaining to national security. Trump’s agreements muzzle public officials, on the taxpayers’ payroll, for no reason other than to protect the president. This is unprecedented. True, it is not for the public to know every confidential conversation in the Oval Office. Even so, the Freedom of Information Act permits citizens at least to petition for information about how decisions (such as the awarding of government contracts) are made, and to have the case for release be adjudicated. But these NDAs go much further. These NDAs will not likely stand up in court; but no doubt they will have a chilling effect.
Here is Mark S. Zaid, a Washington lawyer who regularly handles classified matters, including representation of national security whistleblowers. In a Washington Post essay he explains, “Such NDAs for government workers, when they go beyond prohibiting the disclosure of classified information, are unconstitutional on their face. I know, because I have litigated more pre-publication-review classification challenges against the government during the past 25 years than any other attorney. For decades, courts have made it clear that the government may not censor unclassified material, ‘contractually or otherwise.’ [emphasis added] Legal challenges during the 1970s and 1980s against the CIA settled the question that the government has no legitimate interest under the First Amendment in censoring unclassified information. Neither law nor precedent, however, appears to have dissuaded Trump from trying to mirror his private practices in a public arena.
5. A. In another shocking legal development, former CIA director John Brennan was stripped of his security clearance by Trump. He threatened other political enemies with the same fate. It is unprecedented for a security clearance to be revoked for reasons unrelated to national security. Brennan, as well as others on the list, have been forceful critics of Trump. The New York Timesreported that “Mr. Trump’s decision to revoke Mr. Brennan’s security clearance was announced by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary. Ms. Sanders said the president was reviewing the security clearances of other former officials who have been critics of the president. Those include, among others, Ms. Rice; Mr. Clapper; Michael V. Hayden, the former head of the C.I.A. and National Security Agency; and Sally Q. Yates, the former acting attorney general. The list also includes a current high-ranking Justice Department official, Bruce Ohr, whom Mr. Trump has criticized on Twitter because of his association with Christopher Steele, who compiled a dossier containing damaging information about Mr. Trump. Mr. Ohr was friends with Mr. Steele, and Mr. Ohr’s wife, Nellie, whom Mr. Trump singled out as “beautiful” in a tweet over the weekend, worked for Fusion GPS, the research firm that commissioned the dossier.” Security clearances help former officials advise the president and other interested parties. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/15/us/politics/john-brennan-security-clearance.html
For his part, Brennan fired back in a detailed op-ed in Thursday’s New York Times, saying unequivocally, from his experience as head of the CIA, “Mr. Trump’s claims of no collusion are, in a word, hogwash. [emphasis added]
“The only questions that remain are whether the collusion that took place constituted criminally liable conspiracy, whether obstruction of justice occurred to cover up any collusion or conspiracy, and how many members of ‘Trump Incorporated’ attempted to defraud the government by laundering and concealing the movement of money into their pockets.” He details his experience with Russian espionage and interference in Western elections.https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/16/opinion/john-brennan-trump-russia-collusion-security-clearance.html*Highly recommended reading
6. Though not much reported in the US press, The Guardian reported on Monday that “Donald Trump’s anti-press rhetoric is ‘very close to incitement to violence’ that would lead to journalists censoring themselves or being attacked, the outgoing UN human rights commissioner has said. [emphasis added] Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, a Jordanian prince and diplomat, is stepping down this month as UN high commissioner for human rights after deciding not to stand for a second four-year term, in the face of a waning commitment among world powers to fighting abuses. Zeid said the Trump administration’s lack of concern about human rights marked a distinct break with previous administrations, and that Trump’s own rhetoric aimed at minorities and at the press was redolent of two of the worst eras of the 20th century, the run-up to the two world wars.” https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/aug/13/united-nations-human-rights-nearly-impossible-to-defend-zeid-raad-al-hussein
In a pointed editorial, The Nation on Aug. 1 analyzed Trump’s obsessive and dangerous attacks on the press: “The latest turn in this crusade came after A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher of The New York Times, met with the president on July 20. Sulzberger pressed Trump on his ‘deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric’ and told him that ‘this inflammatory language is contributing to a rise in threats against journalists and will lead to violence.’ [emphasis added] Days after this off-the-record conversation, Trump mischaracterized it, tweeting that they’d had a ‘good and interesting meeting’ in which he discussed ‘the vast amounts of Fake News being put out by the media.’ Sulzberger was aghast and released a statement about how he had tried to warn the president about the dangers that extend from ‘undermining the democratic ideals of our nation.’ Undeterred, Trump responded on Twitter by portraying journalists who report unsettling facts about his administration as ‘very unpatriotic’ provocateurs who put ‘the lives of many, not just journalists, at risk.’
“All of this is to plan; to dominate the discourse about his presidency, Trump knows that he must make the people reject journalism that speaks truth to his power. He is blunt about this. ‘Stick with us,’ he told a veterans’ convention on July 24. ‘Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.’ Egging on the crowd’s hissing at reporters and camera crews, the president shouted: ‘What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.’ Veteran journalist Dan Rather is not being extreme when he says that Trump’s attacks on the press are ‘straight out of Orwell.’” https://www.thenation.com/article/donald-trumps-attacks-press-attack-democracy/
Here, for example, is the conclusion of the eloquent defense of the free press in The New York Times: “Criticizing the news media — for underplaying or overplaying stories, for getting something wrong — is entirely right. News reporters and editors are human, and make mistakes. Correcting them is core to our job. But insisting that truths you don’t like are ‘fake news’ is dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy. And calling journalists the ‘enemy of the people’ is dangerous, period. These attacks on the press are particularly threatening to journalists in nations with a less secure rule of law and to smaller publications in the United States, already buffeted by the industry’s economic crisis.
“The Times is joining hundreds of newspapers, from large metro-area dailies to small local weeklies, to remind readers of the value of America’s free press. These editorials, some of which we’ve excerpted, together affirm a fundamental American institution. If you haven’t already, please subscribe to your local papers. Praise them when you think they’ve done a good job and criticize them when you think they could do better. We’re all in this together.” [emphasis added] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/08/15/opinion/editorials/free-press-local-journalism-news-donald-trump.html
7. The degeneration of the rule of law by Trump through his authoritarian tendencies is also shown in his attack on the ACA and his attempts to dismantle it. So say Nicholas Bagley, professor of law at the University of Michigan; and Abbe R. Gluck, professor of law at Yale. In a stinging op-ed in The New York Times on Tuesday, they say, “From the moment he took office, President Trump has used all aspects of his executive power to sabotage the Affordable Care Act. He has issued executive orders, directed agencies to come up with new rules and used the public platform of the presidency in a blatant attempt to undermine the law. Indeed, he has repeatedly bragged about doing so, making statements like, ‘Essentially, we are getting rid of Obamacare.’
“But Mr. Trump isn’t a king; he doesn’t have the power to dispense with laws he dislikes. [emphasis added] He swore to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. That includes the requirement, set forth in Article II, that the president ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed.’
“Faithfully executing the laws requires the president to act reasonably and in good faith. It does not countenance the deliberate sabotage of an act of Congress. Put bluntly: Mr. Trump’s assault on Obamacare is illegal.” They analyze the moves to sabotage the sign-ups and to sow confusion in the insurance markets. Trump has also issued executive orders instructing federal agencies to obstruct implementation of the law, which is still the law of the land after Congress was unable to repeal it.
“That is also the message of a lawsuit — the first of its kind — filed this month in federal court in Maryland. The lawsuit asks the court to strike down the administration’s new rules and to enjoin the president from further sabotage.” Of course, it is possible that Trump expects an ultimate victory in his new Supreme Court.… https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/14/opinion/trump-obamacare-illegal.html
8. So, the tax bill remains generally unpopular; and the tariffs are not much supported by voters, even Republicans. What can they run on, exactly, in the fall? Hear out Paul Krugman, in a noteworthy column in The New York Times on Monday. He says, “What, then, does the G.O.P. have to run on? It can hype the supposed menace from illegal immigrants — but that hasn’t been gaining much traction, either. Instead, Republicans’ attack ads have increasingly focused on one of their usual boogeymen — or, rather, a boogeywoman: Nancy Pelosi, the former and possibly future speaker of the House.
“So this seems like a good time to remind everyone that Pelosi is by far the greatest speaker of modern times and surely ranks among the most impressive people ever to hold that position. [emphasis added] And it’s interesting to ask why she gets so little credit with the news media, and hence with the general public, for her accomplishments.”
This is a sharp indictment of the laziness of the media, at least in the pre-Trump years. They have elevated a fraud like Paul Ryan to a serious policy wonk, and admired the affable “Denny” Hastert, about whom the less said the better. “Looking at modern House speakers, then, Pelosi stands out as a giant among midgets. But you’d never know that from her media coverage.” Read Krugman’s important reminder of her achievements as well as how timid the press can be: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/13/opinion/nancy-pelosi-midterms-democrats-republicans.html
9. A. And, speaking of the signal Republican achievement, the tax cut, how is that working out, economically? Is it spurring growth and job creation? Not according to a New York Times article, one of the clearest explanations of its effects on the economy you will read. “The most notable outcome of the tax law is one that few Republicans talked about: Companies are buying back their own stock — a lot of it. [emphasis added] Stock buybacks are expected to reach a record $1 trillion this year. After Congress reduced the top federal corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, businesses are flush with cash.
“Lawmakers also let companies repatriate foreign earnings that they have been amassing at a rate of 15.5 percent for cash and 8 percent for other assets.
By spending a big chunk of their tax windfall on buying back shares, businesses are boosting demand for and, thus, the price of their stock. It is no wonder then that the S&P 500 stock index is trading near its high.
B. And even The Chicago Tribune, a generally conservative newspaper, has weighed in on the growing problem of income inequality, which is particularly acute in the US, compared to the rest of the West. In a column also illustrated with charts, Michael Hiltzik covers “The truth about income inequality, in six amazing charts.” He reports, “It has become fashionable in recent years to downplay the growth of income and wealth inequality in the developed world, especially in the United States — and also its consequences. It’s not surprising that the naysaying comes mostly from spokespersons for the 1%, who, after all, are the chief beneficiaries of this trend and anxious to keep it from reversing. They also have the loudest megaphones in media and the most assiduous supporters in government.
“That makes efforts like the World Inequality Database essential. Founded in 2011 and headquartered in Paris, the WID is funded by the Paris School of Economics, the Ford Foundation and numerous other grant-making government research agencies and nonprofit foundations in Europe and the U.S…. In its latest report, the database reduces this material to a series of graphs showing the history of inequality and its possible future — or futures, dependent as they are on government policy choices.
“Its findings are that ‘economic inequality is widespread and to some extent inevitable,’ but that the scale of inequality as it has evolved in many countries is not inevitable. More important is the implication of the existing trends: ‘If rising inequality is not properly monitored and addressed,’ the report says, ‘it can lead to various sorts of political, economic, and social catastrophes.’” Hiltzik reproduces some of their illustrative charts, and one of the most striking is the simple report of the growth of US inequality over time. Read the article and study its charts, here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/columnists/ct-biz-income-inequality-charts-hiltzik-20180808-story.html*Highly recommended reading
10. A new report, detailed by The New York Times on Wednesday, says that “Drug overdoses killed about 72,000 Americans last year, a record number that reflects a rise of around 10 percent, according to new preliminary estimates from the Centers for Disease Control. [emphasis added] The death toll is higher than the peak yearly death totals from H.I.V., car crashes or gun deaths. Analysts pointed to two major reasons for the increase: A growing number of Americans are using opioids, and drugs are becoming more deadly. It is the second factor that most likely explains the bulk of the increased number of overdoses last year.” But the picture is not bleak everywhere, and some public health interventions are in fact working. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/15/upshot/opioids-overdose-deaths-rising-fentanyl.html
11. Our readers may have heard a developing story about the discovery of high levels of the pesticide glyphosate in oat cereals such as oatmeal and oat O’s. The discovery was made by the labs at Environmental Working Group, an activist organization. The EPA has “issued a draft human health risk assessment that said glyphosate was most likely not carcinogenic to humans.” The Times reports that the EPA “is currently reviewing public comments on that assessment as part of a standard review, and will decide on whether or not the agency needs any ‘mitigation measures’ by 2019, a spokesman said Wednesday. The United States Food and Drug Administration, which regulates domestic and imported food to make sure it does not exceed levels set by the E.P.A., said that based on 2016 samples, it had not found any violations of E.P.A. standards with glyphosate. More recent samples are still under review, an agency spokeswoman said. The F.D.A. said Wednesday that it would consider the Environmental Working Group’s findings.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/15/health/herbicide-glyphosate-cereal-oatmeal-children.html The EWG report reflects the group’s own standard, and the question of harm and the science behind their standard is not exactly clear at this time. Some studies have found no increased cancer risk among agricultural workers. On the other hand, court documents unsealed last year pointed to interference in academic studies by Monsanto. It is worth following the story.
12. In hopeful and Progressive news, “Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator tipped as a Democratic presidential candidate in 2020, has unveiled new plans for legislation aimed at reining in big corporations, redistributing wealth, and giving workers and local communities a bigger say.” [emphasis added] So reports The Guardian on Wednesday. The UK paper reports that “Warren will introduce the bill dubbed the Accountable Capitalism Act on Wednesday. The proposal aims to alter a model she says has caused corporations to chase profits for shareholders to the detriment of workers. Under the legislation, corporations with more than $1bn in annual revenue would be required to obtain a corporate charter from the federal government – and the document would mandate that companies not just consider the financial interests of shareholders.” Read about the proposal here: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/aug/15/elizabeth-warren-accountable-capitalism-act-richest-companies
14. We bring you a brief summary of Tuesday’s primaries, two of which were of particular interest here in the Midwest.
“Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota was soundly defeated Tuesday in his bid to reclaim the Republican nomination for governor, a remarkable upset that demonstrated President Trump’s tightening grip on his party and the difficulty those who have criticized him in the past are facing with today’s primary voters.
“Of all the candidates on the ballot Tuesday, Mr. [Scott] Walker of Wisconsin may be the best-known Republican in the country in danger of losing his election,” reported The Times in the article referenced above. “The governor has all but said so himself, repeatedly warning Republicans that they are facing the prospect of a ‘blue wave in Wisconsin,’ and last week suggesting that he may start the general election trailing his opponent. A pair of polls last month showed the little-known Mr. [Tony] Evers leading Mr. Walker. Mr. Evers, the Wisconsin schools superintendent who was the best-known and best-funded candidate in the Democratic primary for governor, prevailed in a crowded field of seven other entrants.”
“Elsewhere Tuesday,” says The Times, “Vermont Democrats also nominated Christine Hallquist, a longtime energy executive who could become the nation’s first transgender governor. She will face the Republican incumbent, Gov. Phil Scott. Ms. Hallquist, as the chief executive of the Vermont Electric Cooperative for 12 years, led a turnaround of the financially troubled utility, and as a candidate she ran on a progressive message that included a higher minimum wage and ‘Medicare-for-all.’…. In other trailblazing wins, Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota state lawmaker, is poised to be one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, winning the Democratic nomination in a left-leaning district.”
15. On the lighter side! You know how TV news likes to end the show with either a “ha-ha” or a “triumph-of-the-human-spirit-over-adversity” story? Maybe we need one of those to conclude this week. Here is one, though we had to go to Germany to find it: how about this headline, from The Guardian: “Police in Germany rescue man being chased by baby squirrel”? The man, and the little guy, who was lost and looking for mama, are both fine. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/10/driving-me-nuts-german-police-rescue-man-baby-squirrel
16. Locally, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin has released a TV ad supporting 6th District House candidate Sean Casten. He emphasizes the incumbent’s failures on healthcare issues and highlights Casten’s concerns for the constituents of the district. You can watch the 90-second video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueFIAkLWsRU