Texas, The COVID Star State PART DEUX
The cases of COVID-19 in Texas continue to skyrocket, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) continues to stand by his decision to re-open the state. Hold it. Hold it. Abbott has just announced that he is slowing down the re-opening effort, calling for all bars to close down today, leaving restaurants to open at 50% capacity.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was on Fox News saying that COVID cases were up and emergency rooms were filled, but not just because of the virus, but because of other injuries and illnesses.
Patrick also said that the median age of infection dropped to 33. It’s those darn reckless kids.
The Texas Trail
Oh, it’s getting downright ugly in Texas’ 17th GOP congressional district between former Rep. Pete Sessions and retired businesswoman Renee Swann.
Will Republican voters vote for a known political quantity in Sessions, or will they vote for Swann, who the Waco-Tribune said “demonstrated a lack of knowledge, depth, and context on even basic issues ?” READ MORE
“Carly Fiorina Plans To Vote For Joe Biden: ‘I Can’t Support Donald Trump’” by Texas Politics’ Mona Salama – Former 2016 Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina revealed in a new podcast interview that she will vote for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden for president in November, saying she can’t vote or “support Donald Trump” “I’ve been very clear that I can’t support Donald Trump. And, you know, elections are binary choices,” Fiorina said in an interview on The Atlantic’s “The Ticket” podcast when asked whom she will vote for in November. “And elections are binary choices. I will say this: I think—I hope—that Biden understands that this moment in history calls for him to be a leader, not a politician.” When pressed on confirming that she will be voting for Biden, Fiorina replied, “I’m not voting for Trump, but it’s a binary choice. So if faced with a binary choice on a ballot: yes.” “I think what the nation is looking for is a leader. And I think this moment calls upon Joe Biden to be a leader. I am encouraged that Joe Biden is a person of humility and empathy and character. I think he’s demonstrated that through his life,” she added. Fiorina also expressed disapproval with other Republicans for not speaking up against the president but recognized that they are playing politics by keeping Trump and his fired-up base of supporters happy in order for one to win and keep their own seats.
“Runoff Election Profile: Midland Judicial Candidate David Rogers” by Texas Scorecard’s Matt Stringer – With early voting right around the corner for the July 14 primary runoff election, the race to be the next judge of the 142nd State District Court in Midland County will soon come to a conclusion. Midland attorney David Rogers is one of the two candidates in the Republican runoff, having finished first in the three-way March primary with 9,379 of the 19,431 votes cast. He now faces fellow Midland attorney Mary Baker for the final nod of the voters. The winner will be unopposed in November. Texas Scorecard sat down with Rogers to discuss his candidacy and qualifications, and why Midland voters should select him for the position. A lifelong Midlander, Rogers attended Midland High and went on to obtain his undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University in history, minoring in political science. After a brief stint in Washington D.C. working for the George H.W. Bush campaign and the Republican National Committee, Rogers found it was difficult to obtain work in a history-related field without obtaining a high-level history degree and decided to pursue another field that interested him: law. “I had always been interested in the law because basically it’s like studying history,” Rogers said. “You’re reading a lot of cases and citing legal background and precedent.”
“Official: Voting postcards are fraudulent, not from NAACP” by KWTX’s Brandon Hamilton – Postcards arriving to voters across Central Texas representing the Texas NAACP are fraudulent, according to officials. “The Texas state conference NAACP, Killeen branch of NAACP or any other branch or unit in the state of Texas has not been sending out these postcards,” said TaNeika Driver-Moultrie, president of the Killeen branch of the NAACP. NAACP officials are working to figure out where the postcards are coming from. The postcards read, “I’m volunteering for the Texas NAACP. We are informing voters 65 and older that they can vote by mail to avoid health.” Some of the postcards are from Hartford, Connecticut; New York, New York; Denver, Colorado; and Oakland, California. “Our biggest concern with these fraudulent postcards is that we don’t want anyone to be accused of voter fraud by having a mail in ballot AND going to a polling location to vote. It’s either one or the other; we just don’t want those 65 and older confused,” Driver-Moultrie said. For James Middeleton, 73, receiving a card with Texas NAACP on it didn’t come as a surprise. “I didn’t think anything of it. The numbers on the Bell County office is the same that was on the card, so I didn’t think anything of it,” he said.
“Texas pauses reopening plan and elective surgeries as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations rise” by CNBC’s Noah Higgins-Dunn – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday that the state will pause any further reopening as it continues to report record increases in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations. Businesses that were permitted to open under the previous phases can continue to operate at the designated occupancy outlined by the Texas Department of State Health Services, according to statement from Abbott’s office. “The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses. This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business,” Abbott said in the release. Many businesses in Texas were granted permission to reopen in May. Restaurants, gyms, retailers, professional sports, bars and other venues were allowed to reopen with reduced capacity. It wasn’t immediately made clear which businesses wouldn’t be allowed to be reopen moving forward or when the order would be lifted. Earlier on Thursday, Abbott ordered all licensed hospitals in hard-hit Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties to postpone elective procedures in order to protect hospital capacity for Covid-19 patients. Those counties include the state’s largest cities — Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Austin. There are currently 4,389 Covid-19 patients hospitalized statewide in Texas, up from 2,793 a week ago, according to the state’s health department.
“Texas man with coronavirus infects 17 relatives at surprise birthday party” by Fox News’ Shawn M. Carter – A family in North Texas was in for more than one surprise when they discovered a nephew had unknowingly infected 17 of them with the new coronavirus at a recent birthday party. The man, who later tested positive for COVID-19, interacted with seven others at a May 30 gathering before those family members interacted with 10 more, further spreading the virus. Now 18 so far have contracted the illness, including two children, four seniors and a cancer patient. Ron Barbosa, the man’s uncle, didn’t attend the party but told ABC8 that he’s keeping track of everyone who did and has tested positive. He said the nephew — who hosted the event and played golf with family beforehand — brushed off a cough as a result of working in construction. “It wasn’t that long. It was only a couple of hours,” Barbosa, a volunteer EMT, said of the party. “But during that brief time, somehow the other 18 family members are now infected.” Three of those with the illness are still in the hospital: Barbosa’s 80-year-old parents and his sister with breast cancer. His dad is in the ICU on life support and close to needing a ventilator. The news comes as COVID-19 cases surge in new hotspots across the country, including Texas, which just added 55,125 cases to its near-132,000 total. Around 2,207 people have died.
“Texas realtor group says it will no longer use the word “master” to describe bedrooms and bathrooms in its listings” by CNN’s Leah Asmelash – The Houston Association of Realtors will use “primary” to describe bedrooms and bathrooms on its listing service and replace the word “master.” The move comes after several members raised the issue and called for a review, according to CNN affiliate KPRC. Amid increasing calls for racial justice, “master” has fallen out of favor due to its association with slavery. The Court of Master Sommeliers, which grants wine stewards the sought-after “master sommelier” title following the passage of an exam, said it will no longer use the term before a sommelier’s last name. The HAR hasn’t banned the word “master.” It will allow members to continue its use in photo descriptions or marketing materials, KPRC reported.
“Fox News Poll: Texas tossup, Biden-Trump a one-point race” by Fox New’s Dana Blanton – Texas is a tossup, as Democrat Joe Biden tops President Donald Trump by a percentage point, 45-44 percent, in a new Fox News survey of Texas registered voters. Ten percent are up for grabs, and this small subgroup of voters is more likely to disapprove than approve of Trump’s job performance by 52-34 percent. The good news for Trump: he bests Biden by 51-45 percent among those “extremely” motivated to vote in the election. Trump corralled the Lone Star State by 9 points in 2016 (52 percent vs. Hillary Clinton’s 43 percent), and it has been in the Republican column in every presidential election since 1980. Texas voters trust Trump over Biden on the economy (by 14 points) and immigration (+4), while they think Biden would do a better job on race relations (+10 points) and coronavirus (+3). There’s a 24-point gender gap on the head-to-head matchup, as men pick Trump by 12 points and women go for Biden by 12. Trump is preferred by Baby Boomers (+12 points) and Gen Xers (+7), while Millennials go big for Biden (+29).
“Trump says violence in Chicago, Baltimore, other US cities like ‘living in hell,’ in ‘Hannity’ town hall” by Fox News’ Andrew O’Reilly – President Trump, in a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity on Thursday, tore into the soaring violent-crime rates in cities including Chicago and Baltimore – comparing them to Afghanistan and Honduras, and saying, “it’s like living in hell.” The president specifically called out Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit and Oakland as problematic. Trump blamed the mayors of those cities – all of them Democrats – along with former President Barack Obama and the party’s presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden – for the high rates of homicide and other violent crimes. “Chicago is an example, it is worse than Afghanistan,” Trump told Hannity. “These cities, it’s like living in hell.” Chicago in particular has become a target for Trump’s criticism, especially after the city reached a grim milestone late last month when it saw 18 murders in one day – making May 31 the city’s deadliest day in 60 years. Despite that milestone – and the president’s criticism – the murder rate in Chicago has dropped over the past few years. The country’s third-largest city saw 490 murders in 2019 – a 13 percent drop from the 564 in 2018 and a 35 percent drop since the 756 in 2016 when Chicago reported its highest number of homicides in two decades.
“Coronavirus task force to hold first public briefing in nearly 2 months as cases rise” by CNN’s Matthew Hoye and Caroline Kelly – The White House announced Thursday night that Vice President Mike Pence would lead a public coronavirus task force briefing Friday morning, the first public meeting in almost two months. The announcement comes as at least 30 states are seeing a resurgence in cases of Covid-19, and California, Oklahoma and Texas are seeing fresh high peaks. The briefing will not take place at the White House, but at the Department of Health and Human Services, according to a schedule released by the White House. The public meeting comes as President Donald Trump has tried to declare the pandemic “over” despite the rising numbers, and has instead focused his administration’s energy on reopening the economy. He has also resumed campaign rallies, despite warnings by health experts on his own task force that the events could be super spreaders of the virus. At his Tulsa, Oklahoma, rally Saturday, eight members of his advance staff tested positive for the virus. Since then, the Secret Service has announced that agents who attended the rally will be quarantining for two weeks. Campaign staffers who attended the rally are also quarantining. CNN reported earlier this month that the task force, which once convened daily and regularly updated the President on the virus, has been relegated to meeting once or twice a week, and that members’ engagement with Trump has diminished.
“Fed Stress Test Finds U.S. Banks Healthy Enough to Withstand the Coronavirus Crisis” by WSJ’s Ben Eisen and Andrew Ackerman – The Federal Reserve on Thursday said a prolonged economic downturn could saddle the nation’s biggest banks with up to $700 billion in losses on soured loans and ordered them to cap dividends and suspend share buybacks to conserve funds. In a worst-case scenario, where unemployment remains high and the economy doesn’t bounce back for a few quarters, the 33 largest U.S. banks would suffer heavy loan losses that would erode the capital buffers meant to keep them on stable financial footing, the Fed said when it announced the results of its annual stress tests. Designed to gauge the health of the nation’s banking system, the stress tests were expanded this year to study the effect of the downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The Fed said U.S. banks are strong enough to withstand the crisis and restricted dividend payouts and buybacks to make sure they stay that way. Banks, which will announce their dividend plans for next quarter as soon as Monday, won’t be able to make payouts that are greater than their average quarterly profit from the four most recent quarters. The Fed also barred them from buying back shares in the third quarter. Most of the largest banks had previously agreed to halt buybacks during the second quarter. Buybacks are the main way U.S. banks return capital to shareholders. In a sign of the uncertainty facing the industry, the Fed required banks to resubmit updated capital plans later this year to reflect current stresses.
“BET founder Robert Johnson says Dems taking black voters ‘for granted,’ calls for BLM to form party” by Fox News’ Marisa Schultz – BET founder Robert Johnson says the Democratic Party has taken black voters in America for granted, and he urges the ascendant Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement to form a new third party to fight for their interests. In a wide-ranging interview with Fox News that touched on 2020 politics, civil unrest and more, Johnson delivered an unvarnished assessment on the current relationship between black voters and the Democratic Party. And he had choice words for the party’s presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden, who recently told a radio host “you ain’t black” if you don’t support him — citing the incident as he made the case for a new party. “Vice President Biden said to an African-American, a black American host on his show, even if you think about voting for Donald Trump, you’re not black,” Johnson told Fox News. “To have that mindset, you must have the attitude that we, black Americans, we own you. We can take you for granted … That, to me, shows you that black Americans are an appendage of a party.” He later added: “That’s the biggest turnoff I’ve heard from a politician in a long time.” Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, said his comments in a May interview with Charlamagne tha God were a “mistake” and chalked up the remark to the host being a “wise guy” and him responding in kind.
“Senate passes new sanctions to punish China over Hong Kong” by CNN’s Ted Barrett – The Senate passed a pair of bills by unanimous consent Thursday that would punish China for moves its making that lawmakers fear will crush democratic freedoms in Hong Kong. One of the bills, the Hong Kong Autonomy Act, would impose sanctions on businesses and individuals that help China restrict Hong Kong’s autonomy. That bill was authored by GOP Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. “What the government of China is doing in Hong Kong is unacceptable,” Van Hollen said on the floor. “They are taking away the rights of people in Hong Kong. They are snuffing out freedoms that exist there right now.” A second measure from Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley is a resolution condemning China for violating a 1984 agreement to guarantee autonomy for Honk Kong. Hawley said a new national security law being adopted by China would “deal a mighty blow to the freedoms and liberties that Hong Kongers have enjoyed for decades now. It’s a permanent break from the one country, two systems principle that has governed that city since 1997.” The measures, which were combined into one bill before passing, still need to be passed in the House before going to President Donald Trump’s desk. Van Hollen said he hopes Trump will sign the bill, but also raised concerns that the White House could have already imposed sanctions under current law and that “despite some statements from the secretary of state, this administration is still taking no action” to rebuff China on Hong.
“Texas Pauses Reopening, as CDC Says Millions More May Have Had Coronavirus” by WSJ’s Jennifer Calfas, Brianna Abbott and Andrew Restuccia – Texas paused reopening plans Thursday, as new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations increased in many U.S. states, and a government estimate showed more than 20 million Americans may have contracted the virus, far exceeding diagnosed infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that only about 1 in every 10 Covid-19 cases in the U.S. has been identified, Director Robert Redfield said during a briefing with reporters Thursday. He also noted that most Americans are still susceptible to the virus. “This outbreak is not over. This pandemic is not over,” Dr. Redfield said. “Greater than 90% of the American public hasn’t experienced this virus yet.” A number of states, including Arizona, Texas, South Carolina and Florida, saw confirmed cases rise by more than 30% over the past week, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University. On Thursday evening, the White House announced that Vice President Mike Pence will host a briefing Friday afternoon with members of the coronavirus task force at the Health and Human Services Department. It will be the first such briefing in nearly two months. The rapid increase is prompting some governors to enact sweeping new measures, while others in states with diminishing case counts press on with reopening.
“House passes Dems’ sweeping police-reform bill 1 day after Senate GOP bill stalls” by Fox News’ Caitlin McFall and Chad Pergram – The House approved a wide-ranging police-reform bill Thursday night, by a vote of 236-181, sending it to the Senate, one day after Democrats stalled a GOP-backed bill there. All 233 Democrats voted in favor of the House bill, along with three Republicans: Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan, Will Hurd of Texas and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania. The bill, titled the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, came amid nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice in the U.S. Senate Democrats blocked a more modest version of a police reform bill Wednesday, with 55 to 45 votes in favor of the legislation – the bill needed 60 votes to move forward. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Doug Jones, D-Ala., and Angus King, I-Maine, joined Republican senators in voting to pass the GOP-backed bill. Senate procedure allowed Democrats to stall all debates prior to voting on the bill and were able to successfully block the legislation – with Senate Democrats anticipating the House bill potentially would take its place. Top House Democrats have been hopeful the demand over police reform and weeks of demonstrations will force Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to review their bill in earnest. The legislation was named in honor of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody, and prompted weeks of nationwide protests demanding reform.
“House Armed Services chairman proposes $1 billion Pentagon pandemic preparedness fund” by CNN’s Jeremy Herb – House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith is proposing the creation of a new $1 billion fund for the Pentagon to better prepare for pandemics, according to committee aides and a copy of the legislation obtained by CNN. Smith’s “chairman’s mark” of the House’s annual defense policy bill includes a $1 billion pandemic preparedness and resilience national security fund. Smith’s legislation, which the House Armed Services Committee will debate and vote on next week, includes authorizing $200 million to help small businesses in the defense industrial base, $50 million for research “to rapidly produce medical countermeasures against novel threats” and $750 million for research related to pandemic preparedness, according to a copy of the legislation. The news comes as the number of coronavirus cases in the US continues to rise at an alarming rate. Texas, California and Florida — the three-most populous states in the country — set records for new daily cases amid fears of “apocalyptic” surges in major Texas cities. Smith’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act does not include any provisions dealing with racial injustices in the military or the naming of military bases after Confederate leaders, two issues that will likely be a focus of amendments offered during next week’s committee debate. Committee aides said that Smith, a Washington Democrat, wanted to allow committee members to weigh in on the naming of bases after Confederate leaders, and the panel expects amendments from both sides to address the issue during committee debate.
“SEC’s Jay Clayton Says He Sought Move to U.S. Attorney’s Office” by WSJ’s Dave Michaels – Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton said Thursday that he first spoke two weeks ago with Trump administration officials about becoming the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan and defended his credentials for the job. Under repeated questions from Democratic lawmakers at a House hearing, Mr. Clayton revealed some previously undisclosed details about the Trump administration’s decision to nominate him as the next Manhattan U.S. attorney. Mr. Clayton would succeed Geoffrey Berman, who was removed last week from the job by President Trump at Attorney General William Barr’s request. Mr. Clayton, who has mostly avoided partisan dust-ups as SEC chairman, has become a central character in the latest controversy involving the White House and U.S. Justice Department. Democratic lawmakers say they want to look into whether Mr. Berman was fired over his management of politically sensitive investigations, such as those probing the business and political activities of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and some of Mr. Giuliani’s associates. House Democrats pressed Mr. Clayton Thursday on his ties to Mr. Trump and whether he could lead the country’s most prominent federal prosecutor’s office in an independent fashion. Mr. Clayton acknowledged golfing with Mr. Trump “a handful of times,” but said all of his enforcement decisions at the SEC have been unswayed by political concerns.
President Donald Trump @realDonaldTrump– Cases are going up in the U.S. because we are testing far more than any other country, and ever expanding. With smaller testing we would show fewer cases! Speaker Nancy Pelosi –The President and his cronies have chosen to protect Trump’s personal & political interests over those of the American people by interfering in numerous criminal investigations involving the President & his associates