U.S. Insulting Proclamation of May 20th as Cuba’s Independence Day

On May 20, President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo stated that May 20 was Cuba’s Independence Day. Cuban officials immediately rejected that assertion.

Presidential Message on Cuban Independence Day, 2020[1]

“On Cuban Independence Day, we recognize the patriots who fought to liberate Cuba from its colonial oppression and build a society founded on freedom. We continue to stand with the Cuban people as they seek those fundamental rights, and we express our commitment to supporting them as they continue to fight for freedom and democracy.”

“The United States has historic ties to the Cuban people and remains in solidarity with the millions who have fled the oppression of Cuba’s tyrannical regime in search of a new life. Cuba’s people deserve a government that promotes individual liberties, basic human rights, and opportunities to prosper. The Cuban model represents failed socialism, and we will continue to ensure that Cuba does not export its repression anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere. That is why I took action early in my Administration to implement a strong policy toward Cuba that promotes respect for human rights, free markets, and a transition to democracy in Cuba. America will keep working with our allies and partners in the Western Hemisphere to bring stability, religious liberty, cooperation, and a freer future to the great people of Cuba.”

“Today, we celebrate the many contributions of Cuban Americans to our American story, and we pledge to continue working with them to secure a better tomorrow for Cuba.”

Later that same day Trump delivered a video message to Cuban-Americans. “We proudly stand with the people of Cuba. We’re with you. We’re fighting with you. We’re thinking with you. Cuban Americans, we’re extremely proud of you. And I am glad you are on my side.”

Secretary Pompeo’s Statement on Cuban Independence Day[2]

“On Cuban Independence Day, I extend my warm regards and best wishes to the people of Cuba.  The United States joins you in celebrating the anniversary of Cuba’s independence, 118 years ago today.  The struggle of the Cuban people continues.  Your democratic system was overthrown by a military dictator at the middle of the last century.  But the revolution your forefathers fought for your rights, freedoms, and prosperity was hijacked by a communist dictatorship that has inflicted the worst forms of abuse on the Cuban people for 61 years.”

“Both Americans and Cubans alike value our independence and we seek to provide a better, more prosperous future for families, in realization of our God-given rights and dignity as individuals.  We salute the brave Cubans who carry on this struggle despite the threats and abuses of the Castro regime:  human rights defenders like José Daniel Ferrer and the Ladies in White; and journalists and truth-tellers like Roberto Quiñones, who by shining light on conditions in Cuba prevent the regime from hiding the truth.  We salute those demanding the right to exercise their faith in peace, like Pastors Ayda Expósito Leyva and Ramón Rigal, who chose to provide their children with a faith-based home-school education but were imprisoned for doing so.  These brave individuals, and many more who are unjustly imprisoned for their beliefs, or who daily face threats and abuse for standing up for what is right, are the true heirs to José Martí.”

“The United States stands with the Cuban people as you struggle to achieve your vision of a Cuba that is free and more just.  The day when your dream of freedom becomes reality is decades overdue, but that day will come.”

Cuba’s Responses[3]

An immediate response came in Tweets from Cuba Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez. He said, “The US Secretary of State is lying. Cubans do not commemorate this date, only remembered by the anti-Cuban groups which, from South Florida and with the broad support of the White House, still maintain annexationist interests and domination over Cuba.”

This thought was echoed by Rodrigo Malmierca, the head of Cuban Foreign Trade and Investment: Pompeo’s statement towards the Cuban people was “historical and politicized manipulation.”

In response to a similar message by President Trump in 2017, the Cuban government stated, “what was born on the day [May 20, 1902] was a Yankee neo-colony, which lived on until [the revolution on] January 1, 1959.”

Historical Context

This dispute over the “true” date for Cuba’s independence has been going on since at least 1959. The U.S. continued insistence on May 20 as the correct date is driven by U.S. hostility towards Cuba ever since the military defeat of the Cuban government by Fidel Castro-led rebels on January 1, 1959 (except for the period of normalization of relations led by President Obama,  December 2014—January 2017). An examination of history is necessary to understand this conflict.

May 20, 1902[4]

On April 24 and 25, 1898, Spain and the U.S. declared war against each other after the explosion of the U.S. battleship Maine in Havana harbor. The U.S. Senate’s authorization of that declaration included the Teller Amendment, which disclaimed any “inclination or intention to exercise sovereignty, jurisdiction or control” of Cuba and the U.S. intention to “leave the government and control of the island to its people.” Thereafter the U.S. entered Cuba’s war of independence from Spain, which formally was ended on December 10, 1898 with the Treaty of Paris whereby Spain ceded Cuba (and Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines) to the U.S. Cuba was not a party to that treaty.

Thereafter, the U.S. assumed military control of Cuba. On May 20, 1902, the supposed date of Cuban independence arrived when the U.S. flag was lowered in Havana and the new Cuban flag was raised. This was after the U.S. adoption in early  1901 of the Platt Amendment, whose terms Cuba on December 25, 1901, reluctantly included in its constitution granting the U.S. the right to intervene in Cuba to preserves its independence and imposing other restrictions on Cuba.

These provisions of the Cuban constitution existed until 1934 when the U.S. and Cuba executed a treaty allowing Cuba to delete them from its constitution.

October 10, 1868[5]

This is Cuba’s real Independence Day (Dia de la Independencia) when Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, the “Father of the Homeland,” gave freedom to his slaves and started the first war of independence against the Spanish colonial power.

July 26, 1953 [6]

This is the Day of the National Revolution (Dia de la Rebeldia Nacional) to commemorate the day that the Cuban rebels started the Cuban revolution with an attack led by Fidel Castro on the Cuban Government’s Moncada Military Barracks in Santiago de Cuba. The rebels lost that battle, Fidel was captured,, tried, convicted, imprisoned and eventually exiled to Mexico, from which he successfully returned to Cuba in 1956 aboard the boat Granma and thereafter orchestrated the successful overthrow of the Batista regime on January 1, 1959.

July 26th, therefore, was chosen as the date for a speech in Matanzas, Cuba in 1991 by Nelson Mandela only a year-and-a half after his release from prison in South Africa.

January 1, 1959 [7]

This is the Triumph of the Revolution (Triunto de la Revolución) public holiday to commemorate the triumph of the revolution led by Fidel Castro.

Conclusion

Yes, on May 20, 1902, Cuba officially ceased to be a colony of Spain. But on that same date Cuba became a neo-colony of the U.S. or a territory under a de facto U.S. protectorate. It, therefore, is an insult for the U.S. to use grandiose language to proclaim that date as Cuba’s independence day.The U.S. should stop doing so.

=================================

[1] White House, Presidential Message on Cuban Independence Day, 2020 (May 20, 2020); White House, President Trump’s Video Statement on Cuban Independence Day (May 20, 2020).

[2] State Dep’t, [Pompeo’s} Press Statement: Cuban Independence Day (May 20, 2020.  Secretary Pompeo also issued tweets with the same theme. (Bruno Rodríguez: May 20 is celebrated by those who ‘keep claims of imperialist domination over Cuba,’ Diario de Cuba (May 21, 2020).)

[3] Cuba Foreign Ministry, Bruno Rodriguez affirms Cubans don’t celebrate May 20th (May 20, 2000); Bruno Rodríguez: May 20 is celebrated by those who ‘keep claims of imperialist domination over Cuba,’ Diario de Cuba (May 21, 2020); Center for Democracy in Americas, U.S.-Cuba News Brief (May 22, 2020).

[4]  U.S. Entry Into Cuban War of  Independence and Establishment of Protectorate of Cuba, 1898-1934, dwkcommentaries.com (April 23, 2017); U.S. DeFacto Protectorate of Cuba, 1898-1934, dwkcommentaries.com (Aug. 27, 2019); Pérez, Cuba Between Empires, 1898-1902 (Univ. Pittsburgh Press 1983).

[5] Public Holidays in Cuba, Wikipedia. [This section was added to the original post after comments from several readers pointed out errors regarding its characterization of July 26th in Cuba.]

[6] Ibid.; Cuban Revolution, Wikipedia; Nelson Mandela Was Inspired by Fidel Castro’s Cuban Revolution, dwkcommentaries.com (May 18, 2018). [This section was revised after several readers pointed out errors regarding its characterization of July 26th in Cuba.]

[7] Public Holidays in Cuba, Wikipedia. [This section was added to the original post to complete the account of most of the major political holidays in Cuba.]

 

Pandemic Journal (# 17): More Demonstrations of Trump’s Incompetence

Pandemic Journal (# 11) set forth at least some of the reasons why, in my opinion, Donald Trump is utterly incompetent as president. Every day seems to bring more proof for that conclusion, and I prefer to avoid documenting those reasons so that I have time to do something more personally enriching.

However, two recent incidents are so outrageous that I cannot let them go without adding them to his many sins.

 Trump’s Interview in the Lincoln Memorial[1]

On Sunday, May 3, Trump arranged to have his interview by two Fox News anchors (Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum) televised from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

During the interview, the President said the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic may reach as high as 100,000, which was twice as high as he had forecast only two weeks ago. He also claimed that his efforts had prevented that total  from reaching “a million two, a million four, a million five, that’s the minimum. We would have lost probably higher, it’s possible higher than 2.2million.” Nevertheless, the President said he favored lifting the stay-at-home orders and other restrictions.

While he admitted he had been warned about the virus on January 23, he said it was presented as “not a big deal.”  A week later, on January 30, he decided to block entry to the U.S. by most foreign nationals coming from China, but he said that was not caused by the earlier warning.

“I am greeted with a hostile press the likes of which no president has ever seen. The closest would be that gentleman right up there. They always said Lincoln – nobody got treated worse than Lincoln. I believe I am treated worse.”

Max Boot, an historian, best-selling author, foreign policy analyst and Washington Post columnist, places this Trump interview in a broader context. Boot observes, “We are in the midst of a once-in-a century crisis, with death totals having already exceeded the number of Americans killed during the Vietnam War and unemployment numbers approaching Great Depression levels. We are desperate for leadership of the kind provided by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt. We need a president who will empathize with an ailing nation while explaining why the current sacrifice is necessary on the road to victory.”

Instead, says Boot, “we have a president who threw a pity party for himself at the Lincoln Memorial, claiming he is ‘treated worse’ than a president who was assassinated. The Civil War leader whom Trump resembles is not the resolute Lincoln but the failed Gen. George McClellan — who was indecisive, conceited and intolerant of criticism.”

Dana Milbank, another Washington Post columnist, agrees. He says, “Only a man of Trump’s peculiar sense of victimhood could believe that he has been “treated worse” than a predecessor killed by an assassin’s bullet. And a review of press criticism of Lincoln confirms, as expected, that Trump’s self-pity is as silly as it sounds.”

In response to criticism about holding the interview in the Lincoln Memorial that his aides had arranged by getting the Secretary of Interior to waive a rule against political events inside the Memorial, Trump even said that this location was Fox’s choice, not his.

 Trump’s Response to President George W. Bush[2]

On May 2, former President George W. Bush’s three-minute videotaped segment was presented on TV as part of a 24-hour live-streamed “The Call to Unite” that also featured former President Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Tim Shriver, Julia Roberts. Martin Luther King III, Sean Combs, Quincy Jones, Naomi Judd, Andrew Yang and others.

Mr. Bush said, in part, “Let us remember how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat,” while in the background were music and photographs of medical workers helping victims of the virus and of ordinary Americans wearing masks. Bush then concluded, “In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants. We are human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of God. We rise or fall together and we are determined to rise.” He did not mention President Trump.

Early the next morning, Trump fired off a tweet. First, he paraphrased a Fox News personality as saying, “Oh by the way, I appreciate the message from former President Bush, but where was he during Impeachment calling for putting partisanship aside.” Then Trump added, “He was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest Hoax in American history!”

A Washington Post columnist, David Von Drehle, violated his own rule for not commenting on Trump’s Twitter comments by doing so for this one because it was “so nakedly revealing of its author’s values and character.” This Trump Tweet “embraced and simplified the idea that Bush’s remarks should properly be viewed through the prism of Trump’s political fortunes. . . . No doubt the president’s florid narcissism explains part of this reaction . . . . As the only noteworthy occupant of his own psychological state, Trump seems to think everything is about him. . . . Yet here, a plea for national unity [by a former president] is the occasion for a presidential rebuke. The only sensible explanation: the president has no interest in unity. . . . Bush’s statement hit Trump like an indictment. He knows that unifying the public is not on his agenda. He has no interest in bringing us together.”

Drehle concludes, “Our life-or-death struggle with a new disease has become, for Trump, just another chance to divide the country, to leverage resentments, to fuel suspicion, to antagonize his critics — in the slim hope that he’ll galvanize his supporters while demoralizing the opposition. That’s why he thinks the Bush statement is about him.”

More General Criticism of Trump[3]

Thomas Edsall, a New York Times columnist and a full-time member of the faculty at Columbia University Journalism School, quoted the following observations about Trump from prominent academics:

  • Stephen Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard, said that Trump has responded “to the [coronavirus] crisis with his now-familiar playbook: blaming others, denying responsibility, invoking racial differences and ‘foreign’ dangers, and trying to discredit honest reporting so that he can sell a false narrative about the great job he’s doing.”
  • Mira Rapp-Hooper, senior fellow for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote, “The U.S. government’s pandemic leadership has been its own special brand of catastrophe. The American president denied the threat, rejected scientific expertise, spread misinformation, and left state and local governments to fend for themselves in public trust violations of the highest order. With shambolic self-governance, the U.S. government has placed its own citizens in unnecessary peril, while sidelining itself from acting as a global crisis leader in a way that is unprecedented in the last seven decades. China is all too happy to fill the vacuum.”

As noted in a previous post, George Conway and several other prominent Republicans have formed a group (The Lincoln Project) to defeat Trump’s re-election this November. Conway recently reported that Trump had responded to this group in an early morning Tweet on May 5, attacking the members of this Project as “‘LOSERS,’ ‘loser types,’ ‘crazed” and ‘a disgrace to Honest Abe.’ About me, he said, ‘I don’t know what Kellyanne [Conway, a Trump aide] did to her deranged loser of a husband, Moonface, but it must have been really bad.”

This latest example of Trump’s outbursts prompted George Conway to say, “Now, it’s more obvious than ever. Trump’s narcissism deadens any ability he might otherwise have had to carry out the duties of a president in the manner the Constitution requires. He’s so self-obsessed, he can only act for himself, not for the nation. It’s why he was impeached, and why he should have been removed from office.”

“And it’s why he reacts with such rage. He fears the truth. He fears being revealed for what he truly is. Extreme narcissists exaggerate their achievements and talents, and so Trump has spent his life building up a false image of himself — not just for others, but for himself, to protect his deeply fragile ego. He lies endlessly, not just in the way sociopaths do, which is to con others, but also to delude himself. He claims to be a ‘genius,’ even though he apparently can’t spellcan’t punctuatecan’t do math and lacks geographic literacy, and even though his own appointees have privately called him a ‘moron,’ an ‘idiot,’ a ‘dope,’ and ‘dumb.’  Now, God help us, he fancies himself an expert in virology and infectious diseases.”

George Conway concluded, “Trump’s lying, his self-regard, his self-soothing, his lack of empathy, his narcissistic rage, his contempt for norms, rules, laws, facts and simple truths — have all come home to roost. Now he sees his poll numbers fall accordingly, and lashes out with ever-increasing anger. For deep in his psyche he knows the truth. Because he fears being revealed as a fake or deranged, he’ll call others fake or deranged. Because he fears losing, he’ll call them losers instead.”

===============================

[1] Rogers, Most Events in the Lincoln Memorial Are Banned. Trump Got an Exception, N.Y. Times (May 4, 2020); Baker, Trump foresees Virus Death Toll as high as 100,000 in the United States, N.Y. Times (May 3, 2020); Wolfe, Dishonest Don’s Lincoln backdrop highlights his monumental errors, Guardian (May 6, 2020); Boot, Trump’s dithering proves one thing: We’re at war without a leader, Wash. Post (May 5, 2020); Milbank, ’I believe I am treated worse.’ Trump says. As if, Wash. Post (May 5, 2020).

[2] Baker, George W. Bush Calls for End to Pandemic Partisanship, N.Y. Times (May 3, 2020); Von Drehle, I usually ignore all Trump’s tweets. Not this one, Wash. Post (May 5, 2020).

[3] Edsall, Why Isn’t Trump Riding High? N.Y. Times (May 6, 2020); George Conway, George Conway: Trump went ballistic at me on Twitter. Here’s why he reacts with such rage, Wash. Post (May 6, 2020).

 

 

Pandemic Journal (# 13): World Economic Recession 

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global economic recession (if not depression). Many people have lost their jobs. Stores are closing. Governments are facing huge reductions in tax collections and thus big reductions in expenditures or large deficits.

In the U.S. alone, as of April 18, 33 million people recently have filed applications for unemployment insurance benefits. Moreover, “Some economists expect a fresh surge of claims in future weeks as workers who were previously unable to file because of backlogged state systems are counted, and as states begin to accept applications from people who are newly eligible.” Economists believe that the national unemployment rate for April  could reach 20%.[1]

On April 24, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office forecasted a $3.7 trillion federal government deficit, a 5.6% U.S. economic contraction and an unemployment rate of nearly 12% by year’s end.[2]

“Laid-off workers need money quickly so that they can continue to pay rent, and credit card bills and for groceries. If they can’t, the hole that the larger economy has fallen into ‘gets deeper and deeper, and more difficult to crawl out of.’” As a result, many banks are confronting defaults on  loans and mortgages.

“Pain is everywhere, but it is most widespread among the most vulnerable. For example, 52 percent of low-income households — below $37,500 a year for a family of three — said someone in the household had lost a job because of the coronavirus, compared with 32 percent of upper-income ones (with earnings over $112,600) [while] forty-two percent of families in the middle have been affected as well. Those without a college education have taken a disproportionate hit, as have Hispanics and African-Americans.”

J.P. Morgan “sees GDP in the U.S. falling at an annualized rate of 40% in the three months through June, the eurozone tumbling 45%, with the U.K. economy expected to contract by 59.3% and Japan by 35%. Some forecasts are for a relatively quick rebound, though the outlook depends on how quickly and thoroughly the coronavirus can be contained.”[3]

On April 24, President Trump signed into law for $484 billion of relief for small businesses and hospitals and for expansion of coronavirus testing capacity.[4]

Here is local bit of good news. On April 27, the State of Minnesota will be allowing the opening of manufacturers and offices that don’t have face-to-face interaction with clients and weren’t deemed critical industries that were exempt from the stay-at-home order. Roughly 20,000 companies in this category with 100,000 employees now have the option to reopen if they complete and publicize plans to maintain social distancing, worker hygiene and workspace cleanliness. On the other hand, HealthPartners, a Minnesota-based nonprofit group operating seven hospitals, dozens of clinics and a large health insurance business, announced that it was furloughing 2,600 workers due to suspension of nonemergency surgeries.[5]

Bill Gates, the wealthy co-founder of Microsoft and now co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has said that the U.S. and other countries would be aided in returning to normal if we were able to make the following innovations. Create coronavirus tests that are self-administered. Adopt consistent standards about who gets tested. Implement consistent, reliable means for contact tracing. Voluntary adoption of digital tools that help one remember where you have been and whom you have contacted. Develop drugs for treating the virus. Develop a vaccine and a fair, effective way for its distribution and use.[6]

Conclusion

 While I worry about all of the unemployed, their families and the general condition of the U.S. (and global) economies, I am grateful that I am retired and thus not personally involved in these wrenching struggles.

============================

[1] Chaney & Guilford, Millions of U.S. Workers Filed for Unemployment Benefits Last Week, W.S.J. (April 23, 2020); Cohen, Jobless Numbers Are ‘Eye-Watering’ but Understate the Crisis, N.Y. Times (April 23, 2020); Siegel & Van Dam, 4.4 million Americans sought jobless benefits last week, as economic pain continued across the United States, Wash. Post (April 23, 2020); Rugaber, 26 million have sought US jobless aid since virus hit, StarTribune (April 23, 2020); Taylor, Coronavirus relief pushing US deficits to staggering heights, Assoc. Press (April 24, 2020); Kiernan, Coronavirus Projected to Trigger Worst Economic Downturn Since 1940s, W.S.J. (April 24, 2020).

[2] The federal budget will be nearly $4 trillion in 2020, the C.B.O. says, N.Y. Times (April 24, 2020).

[3] Hannon & Sparshott, Global Economy Hit by Record Collapse of Business Activity, W.S.J.(April 23,2020).

[4] Duehren & Hughes, House Approves $484 Billion bill to Aid Small Business, Hospitals, W.S>J. (April 23, 2020).

[5]  Olson & Horwatt, Restrictions could be lifted on up to 100,000 Minnesota workers by Monday, StarTribune (April 24, 2020); Snowbeck, COVID-19 fallout: HealthPartners to furlough 2,600 workers, StarTribune (April 24, 2020).

[6] Gates, Here are the innovations we need to reopen the economy, Wash. Post (April 23, 2020)economic recession

 

Pandemic Journal (# 13): World Economic Depression

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global economic depression. Many people have lost their jobs. Stores are closing. Governments are facing huge reductions in tax collections and large deficits.

In the U.S. alone, as of April 18, 33 million people recently have filed applications for unemployment insurance benefits. Moreover, “Some economists expect a fresh surge of claims in future weeks as workers who were previously unable to file because of backlogged state systems are counted, and as states begin to accept applications from people who are newly eligible.” Economists believe that the national unemployment rate for April  could reach 20%.[1]

On April 24, the U.S. Congressional Budget Office forecasted a $3.7 trillion federal government deficit, a 5.6% U.S. economic contraction and an unemployment rate of nearly 12% by year’s end.[2]

“Laid-off workers need money quickly so that they can continue to pay rent, and credit card bills and for groceries. If they can’t, the hole that the larger economy has fallen into ‘gets deeper and deeper, and more difficult to crawl out of.’” As a result, many banks are confronting defaults on  loans and mortgages.

“Pain is everywhere, but it is most widespread among the most vulnerable. For example, 52 percent of low-income households — below $37,500 a year for a family of three — said someone in the household had lost a job because of the coronavirus, compared with 32 percent of upper-income ones (with earnings over $112,600) [while] forty-two percent of families in the middle have been affected as well. Those without a college education have taken a disproportionate hit, as have Hispanics and African-Americans.”

J.P. Morgan “sees GDP in the U.S. falling at an annualized rate of 40% in the three months through June, the eurozone tumbling 45%, with the U.K. economy expected to contract by 59.3% and Japan by 35%. Some forecasts are for a relatively quick rebound, though the outlook depends on how quickly and thoroughly the coronavirus can be contained.”[3]

On April 24, President Trump signed into law for $484 billion of relief for small businesses and hospitals and for expansion of coronavirus testing capacity.[4]

Here is local bit of good news. On April 27, the State of Minnesota will be allowing the opening of manufacturers and offices that don’t have face-to-face interaction with clients and weren’t deemed critical industries that were exempt from the stay-at-home order. Roughly 20,000 companies in this category with 100,000 employees now have the option to reopen if they complete and publicize plans to maintain social distancing, worker hygiene and workspace cleanliness. On the other hand, HealthPartners, a Minnesota-based nonprofit group operating seven hospitals, dozens of clinics and a large health insurance business, announced that it was furloughing 2,600 workers due to suspension of nonemergency surgeries.[5]

Bill Gates, the wealthy co-founder of Microsoft and now co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has said that the U.S. and other countries would be aided in returning to normal if we were able to make the following innovations. Create coronavirus tests that are self-administered. Adopt consistent standards about who gets tested. Implement consistent, reliable means for contact tracing. Voluntary adoption of digital tools that help one remember where you have been and whom you have contacted. Develop drugs for treating the virus. Develop a vaccine and a fair, effective way for its distribution and use.[6]

Conclusion

While I worry about all of the unemployed, their families and the general condition of the U.S. (and global) economies, I am grateful that I am retired and thus not personally involved in these wrenching struggles.

===============================

[1] Chaney & Guilford, Millions of U.S. Workers Filed for Unemployment Benefits Last Week, W.S.J. (April 23, 2020;); Cohen, Jobless Numbers Are ‘Eye-Watering’ but Understate the Crisis, N.Y. Times (April 23, 2020); Siegel & Van Dam, 4.4 million Americans sought jobless benefits last week, as economic pain continued across the United States, Wash. Post (April 23, 2020); Rugaber, 26 million have sought US jobless aid since virus hit, StarTribune (April 23, 2020).

[2] The federal budget will be nearly $4 trillion in 2020, the C.B.O. says, N.Y. Times (April 24, 2020).

[3] Hannon & Sparshott, Global Economy Hit by Record Collapse of Business Activity, W.S.J.(April 23,2020).

[4] Duehren & Hughes, House Approves $484 Billion bill to Aid Small Business, Hospitals, W.S.J. (April 23, 2020).

[5]  Olson & Horwatt, Restrictions could be lifted on up to 100,000 Minnesota workers by Monday, StarTribune (April 24, 2020); Snowbeck, COVID-19 fallout: HealthPartners to furlough 2,600 workers, StarTribune (April 24, 2020),

[6] Gates, Here are the innovations we need to reopen the economy, Wash. Post (April 23, 2020).

 

Yet More Outrageous Actions by President Trump

Previous posts have discussed what hopefully were the last outrageous actions of President Trump.[1]

Not true. On April 17, he issued two tweets entitled “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” and” “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” without any other content. Then he issued a third tweet entitled “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”[2]

All of these states have stay-at-home orders that have sparked protests.

Earlier that same day, in St. Paul, Minnesota in front of the Governor’s Mansion, “a group [of at least 800] calling itself ‘Liberate Minnesota’ held a protest Friday in violation of stay-at-home orders . . . [by] Gov. Tim Walz. . . . The group’s Facebook page says that “now is the time to demand Governor Walz and our state legislators end this lock down!” Jason Lewis, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate against Senator Tina Smith in the upcoming election, “expressed support for the protesters as he made several passes past the mansion in his campaign RV” and by a subsequent tweet thanking Trump for his tweet. [3]

“Earlier this week, “more than 1,000 protesters organized by conservative groups created a traffic jam on the streets around the State Capitol in Lansing, Mich., to complain that the restrictions were bad for small businesses. Other protesters, not in vehicles, waved banners in support of Mr. Trump and protested Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has been a target of his ire, by chanting, ‘Lock her up.’”

A response to these presidential tweets came from Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee (Dem.), who said, ““The president’s statements this morning encourage illegal and dangerous acts. He is putting millions of people in danger of contracting COVID-19. His unhinged rantings and calls for people to ‘liberate’ states could also lead to violence.”

Conclusion

These presidential tweets came the day after he admitted in the daily coronavirus briefing that the states, not the president, had the authority to determine their reactions to the pandemic and announced an overall federal framework for “Opening Up America Again” that had some positive features.[4]

It is shocking and dangerous for the President to talk about the Second Amendment in this context and implicitly suggest that use of firearms might be the way to “liberate” these (and other) states from stay-at-home orders.

============================

[1]  See, e.g., these posts to dwkcommentaries.com: Pandemic Journal (# 10): Wisconsin’s Primary  Election (April 10, 2020); Comment: More Criticism of Republican Strategy of Limiting Voting (April 12, 2020); Comment: More Comments on Wisconsin Election (April 13, 2020); Comment: Surprising results in Wisconsin Election (April 14, 2020)):  Comment: George F.Will’s Opinion on Voting by Mail (VBM) (April 15, 2020); Comment: Emerging Battles Over Changing State Election Laws (April 15, 2020); Pandemic Journal (# 11): Pandemic Proves Trump’s Incompetence (April 14, 2020); Prominent Republicans Unite To Defeat Donald Trump’s Re-election (April 16, 2020).

[2]Trump tweets to “LIBERATE” states where people are protesting virus restrictions, N.Y. Times (April 17, 2020); Miller & Kerensky, ‘LIBERATE!’: Trump goads Minnesota, other states to lift virus restrictions, StarTribune (April 17, 2020); Itkowitz, ‘Liberate’: Trump tweets support of protests against stay-at-home orders, Wash. Post (April 17, 2020).

[3] Ibid.; Condon, Trump-backed rally urges Gov. Walz to ‘Liberate Minnesota,’ StarTribune (April 17, 2020); Karnowski (Assoc. Press), Trump tweets support for rally at Minnesota governor’s home, StarTribune (April 17, 2020).

[4] Emmanuel, Zhang & Boyle, What Trump’s Plan to Reopen America Gets Right, and Wrong, N.Y. times (April 17, 2020).

 

Prominent Republicans Unite To Defeat Donald Trump’s Re-election

 Eight prominent Republicans have formed The Lincoln Project to hold “accountable those who would violate their oaths to the Constitution and would put others before Americans.” Their mission is to “defeat President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box.” This mission is explained in its website and a Washington Post article, which are discussed below along with information about these prominent Republicans.

The Lincoln Project’s Website[1]

Like President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, “Today, we find ourselves divided again – sectionalism in the country and factionalism in government has led to ever uglier examples of how our political system is failing. President Donald Trump and those who sign onto Trumpism are a clear and present danger to the Constitution and our Republic. Only defeating so polarizing a character as Trump will allow the country to heal its political and psychological wounds and allow for a new, better path forward for all Americans.”

The Project’s Advisors  say they “do not undertake this task lightly nor from ideological preference. Our many policy differences with national Democrats remain. However, the priority for all patriotic Americans must be a shared fidelity to the Constitution and a commitment to defeat those candidates who have abandoned their constitutional oaths, regardless of party. Electing Democrats who support the Constitution over Republicans who do not is a worthy effort.”

Their Washington Post Article[2]

The article states, “This November, Americans will cast their most consequential votes since Abraham Lincoln’s reelection in 1864. We confront a constellation of crises: a public health emergency not seen in a century, an economic collapse set to rival the Great Depression, and a world where American leadership is absent and dangers rise in the vacuum.” It then criticises President Trump and praised Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

Criticism of President Trump

“Today, the United States is beset with a president who was unprepared for the burden of the presidency and who has made plain his deficits in leadership, management, intelligence and morality.”

“For Trump, the presidency has been the biggest stage, under the hottest klieg lights in a reality show of his making. Every episode leaves the audience more shocked and divided. Trump’s only barometer is his own ego. The country, our values and its people do not factor into Trump’s equation”

“The coronavirus crisis is a terrifying example of why real leadership looks outward. This crisis, the deaths and economic destruction are immeasurably worse because Trump and his administration were unwilling to do what was necessary to mitigate its worst effects and bring the country back as quickly as possible.”

“We’ve seen the damage three years of corruption and cultish amateurism can do. This country cannot afford to be torn apart for sport and profit for another term, as Trump will surely do.”

“We are in a transcendent and transformative period of American history. The nation cannot afford another four years of chaos, duplicity and Trump’s reality distortion. This country is crying out for a president with a spine stiffened by tragedy, a worldview shaped by experience and a heart whose compass points to decency.”

Praise for Joe Biden

“Biden is now the presumptive Democratic nominee and he has our support. Biden has the experience, the attributes and the character to defeat Trump this fall. Unlike Trump, for whom the presidency is just one more opportunity to perfect his narcissism and self-aggrandizement, Biden sees public service as an opportunity to do right by the American people and a privilege to do so.”

“Biden is a reflection of the United States. Born into a middle-class family in coal-country Pennsylvania, he has known the hardship and heartbreak that so many Americans themselves know and that millions more are about to experience.”

“Biden’s personal tragedies and losses tested his strength, his faith and his determination. They were enough to crush most people’s spirit, but Biden emerged more compassionate toward the suffering of others and the burdens that life imposes on his fellow Americans.”

“Biden did what Americans have always done: picked himself up, dusted himself off and made the best of a bad situation. In the years since he first entered office, Biden has consistently demonstrated decency, empathy and humanity.”

“Biden’s life has been marked by triumphs that didn’t change the goodness in him, and he is a man for whom public service never went to his head. His long record of bipartisan friendship and cross-partisan legislative efforts commends him to this moment. He is an imperfect man, but a man who loves his country and its people with a broad smile and an open heart.”

“Biden understands a tenet of leadership that far too few leaders today grasp: The presidency is a life-and-death business, that the consequences of elections have real-world effects on individual Americans, and that all of this — all of the struggle, toil and work — is not a zero-sum game.”We asked ourselves: How would a Biden presidency handle this [coronavirus] crisis? Would he spend weeks lying about the risk? Would he look to cable news, the stock market and his ratings before taking the steps to make us safer? The answer is obvious: Biden will be the superior leader during the crisis of our generation.”

 The Lincoln Project’s Advisors

The prominent Republicans behind this Project are the following:

  • George Conway III, “a lawyer in New York City and a founding member of , a group of conservative and libertarian lawyers organized to defend the rule of law.”
  • Reed Galen, “an independent political strategist [who] left the Republican Party in 2016 and has spent the last three years dedicated to the political reform movement, creating a better system for all voters.”
  • Jennifer Horn, “a communications strategist and former Chairman of the NH Republican Party [who] was the first Republican woman in New Hampshire nominated for Federal office.”
  • Mike Madrid, “a Republican strategist and former political director of the California Republican Party [who] serves as a senior advisor to the California Latino Economic Institute.”
  • Steve Schmidt, “a national political strategist [who] previously worked for President George W. Bush, Senator John McCain and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.”
  • Ron Steslow, “a brand and marketing strategist and independent political consultant [who after] leaving the GOP in 2016,. . . has worked to put voters first in our political system.”
  • John Weaver, “a national political strategist [who] worked for President George H.W. Bush, Senator John McCain and Ohio Governor John Kasich.”
  • Rick Wilson, “a long time Republican media consultant and author of the New York Times bestselling book, “Everything Trump Touches Dies.”

Conclusion

These eight individuals deserve our nation’s applause. This blog already has set forth its opinion that the COVID-19 pandemic has proved the incompetence of President Trump and the need for his defeat in the November presidential election.[3]

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[1] The Lincoln Project.

[2] Conway, Galen, Schmidt, Weaver & Wilson, We’ve never backed a Democrat for president. But Trump must be defeated, Wash. Post (April 15, 2020).

[3] Pandemic Journal (# 11): Pandemic Proves Trump’s Incompetence, dwkcommentaries.com (April 14, 2020).