POLITICO Playbook: Apocalypse now – POLITICO – Politico

CHAOS AT NATS GAME — WaPo: “Saturday night’s game between the Washington Nationals and San Diego Padres was suspended after multiple gunshots were fired outside Nationals Park in a chaotic scene that ended with fans on the field and in the dugouts. The shooting happened on South Capitol Street, near an entrance to the stadium.” Police said there were three victims, but none of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening. Story with video of the scene

THE CIRCUS OFFICIALLY COMMENCES — “California has 41 candidates for September recall election,” by Mackenzie Mays and Kevin Yamamura in Sacramento: “Forty-one candidates have met the qualifications to run in the California gubernatorial recall election, less than a third of the number who ran in the state’s memorable 2003 contest and well below what some political experts months ago had predicted, according to an official list released Saturday night. … The recall field is notably absent of prominent Democratic politicians after Gov. GAVIN NEWSOM’s campaign successfully deterred other leaders in his party from giving their voters an attractive option. Of the eight Democratic candidates, the one with the largest following is KEVIN PAFFRATH, a YouTuber who has gained internet fame with his “Meet Kevin” channel that focused on real estate and investing …”

APOCALYPSE NOW — A disastrous week of weather caused by our cooking planet — and mounting evidence that the U.S., let alone the world, remains in the throes of this pandemic — makes for a sobering Sunday. News that three of the Texas Democrats who flew the coop tested positive for Covid is probably the least disturbing pandemic headline.

“Around the world, scientists and public health officials fear that the world’s protracted battle against the coronavirus is at a delicate and dangerous moment,” WaPo’s Joel Achenbach reports. “Reality checks abound. Coronavirus infections are surging in places with low vaccination rates. SARS-CoV-2 is continuing to mutate. Researchers have confirmed the delta variant is far more transmissible than earlier strains. Although the vaccines remain remarkably effective, the virus has bountiful opportunities to find new ways to evade immunity. Most of the world remains unvaccinated.

“And so the end of the pandemic remains somewhere over the horizon.”

THE NUMBERS, via CNN’S @ryanstruyk: “US coronavirus cases/day via @CNN:
Right now: 30,887 cases/day
7 days ago: 18,489 cases/day
14 days ago: 13,562 cases/day
21 days ago: 10,525 cases/day”

WHERE COVID IS STILL HITTING — “Arizona reports over 1,000 virus cases for 4th straight day,” AP

TWO SIDES OF SAME COIN IN ARKANSAS — “In Undervaccinated Arkansas, Covid Upends Life All Over Again,” by NYT’s Sharon LaFraniere in Mountain Home, Ark.: “While much of the nation tiptoes toward normalcy, the coronavirus is again swamping hospitals in places like Mountain Home, a city of fewer than 13,000 people not far from the Missouri border. A principal reason, health officials say, is the emergence of the new, far more contagious variant called Delta, which now accounts for more than half of new infections in the United States.”

“GOP governor’s vaccination tour reveals depths of distrust,” by AP’s Andrew DeMillo in Texarkana, Ark.: “Free lottery tickets for those who get vaccinated had few takers. Free hunting and fishing licenses didn’t change many minds either. And this being red-state Arkansas, mandatory vaccinations are off the table. So Republican Gov. ASA HUTCHINSON has hit the road, meeting face-to-face with residents to try to overcome vaccine hesitancy — in many cases, hostility — in Arkansas, which has the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. but is near the very bottom in dispensing shots.”

In a similar vein, the Atlantic’s always-excellent Ed Yong tells a similar story about Missouri: “Delta Is Driving a Wedge Through Missouri: For America as a whole, the pandemic might be fading. For some communities, this year will be worse than last.”

VACCINE INEQUITY — As bad as that all is, the United States is a huge success compared with what’s going on in other countries. AP doesn’t mince words with their lede: “No one disputes that the world is unfair. But no one expected a vaccine gap between the global rich and poor that was this bad, this far into the pandemic.

“Inequity is everywhere: Inoculations go begging in the United States while Haiti, a short plane ride away, received its first delivery July 15 after months of promises — 500,000 doses for a population over 11 million. Canada has procured more than 10 doses for every resident; Sierra Leone’s vaccination rate just cracked 1% on June 20.”

ON CLIMATE CHANGE, NYT’s Somini Sengupta takes stock of the world’s hellish summer: “The extreme weather disasters across Europe and North America have driven home two essential facts of science and history: The world as a whole is neither prepared to slow down climate change, nor live with it. The week’s events have now ravaged some of the world’s wealthiest nations, whose affluence has been enabled by more than a century of burning coal, oil and gas — activities that pumped the greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that are warming the world.”

More climate headlines: WaPo: “Baby birds have leaped from nests to escape West’s extreme heat” … NYT: “Scorched, Parched and Uninsurable: Climate Change Hits Wine Country” AP: “California fire prompts evacuations; Oregon blaze balloons”

Good Sunday morning, and thanks for reading Playbook. Drop us a line: Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza, Tara Palmeri.

SUNDAY BEST …

Sen. ROB PORTMAN (R-Ohio) on CNN’s “State of the Union” on the timeline for the bipartisan infrastructure proposal: “We are still negotiating. In fact, last night, I was negotiating some of the final details with the White House. And, later today, we will be having additional negotiations with the Republicans and Democrats who have come together to put this bill into a track that’s very unusual for Washington. … CHUCK SCHUMER, with all due respect, is not writing the bill, nor is MITCH MCCONNELL, by the way. So that’s why we shouldn’t have an arbitrary deadline of Wednesday. We should bring the legislation forward when it’s ready.”

— On whether IRS enforcement will be in the proposal: “Well, one reason it’s not part of the proposal is that we did have pushback. Another reason is that we found out that the Democrats were going to put a proposal into the reconciliation package which was not just similar to the one we had, but with a lot more IRS enforcement. So, that created quite a problem, because the general agreement is that this is the bipartisan negotiated infrastructure package, and that we will stick with that.”

Sen. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-Minn.) on “State of the Union” on Democrats’ efforts to pass voting rights legislation: “Number one would be to get Republicans. I personally don’t think that’s going to happen. So, the second thing is to say, well, Sen. [JOE] MANCHIN has indicated some interest in the standing filibuster. That is one way to do it. We could have it focused on voting rights only. So we’re continuing to work with him and many others to get this done. … I think Joe Manchin listens, and I’m not giving up. I will just leave it at that. I am not giving up.”

— On Supreme Court Justice STEPHEN BREYER potentially retiring: “In your exclusive interview from CNN, it was very clear that he said two reasons. One is health that he would look at and, two, the court. Well, when you look at the court, he has to be concerned about the makeup. And you have to be concerned about how you get a justice on the court with all of the manipulation that Mitch McConnell has engaged in. So that would lead me to say, sooner, rather than later.”

JOE BIDEN’S SUNDAY — The president and first lady JILL BIDEN will arrive at the White House from Camp David at 8:30 p.m.

KAMALA HARRIS’ SUNDAY — The VP has nothing on her public schedule.

ALL POLITICS

CRITICAL MIDTERMS READING — “Democrats See Edge in Early Senate Map as Trump Casts Big Shadow,” by NYT’s Shane Goldmacher: “Swing-state Democratic incumbents, like Senators RAPHAEL WARNOCK of Georgia and MARK KELLY of Arizona, restocked their war chests with multimillion-dollar sums ($7.2 million and $6 million, respectively), according to new financial filings this week. That gives them an early financial head start in two key states where Republicans’ disagreements over former President DONALD J. TRUMP’S refusal to accept his loss in 2020 are threatening to distract and fracture the party.

“But Democratic officials are all too aware of the foreboding political history they confront: that in a president’s first midterms, the party occupying the White House typically loses seats — often in bunches. For now, Democrats hold power by only the narrowest of margins in a 50-50 split Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tiebreaker to push through President Biden’s expansive agenda on the economy, the pandemic and infrastructure.”

@shanegoldmacher promoting the story: “NEW: The Mar-a-Lago primary. Here are Senate candidates/potentials who made payments to Trump’s club in 2021 as the lobbied for his backing: MO BROOKS, LYNDA BLANCHARD, JOSH MANDEL, BILLY LONG, JASON SMITH, ERIC GREITENS.”

2024 WATCH — “South Dakota’s Noem taking swings at potential 2024 rivals,” by AP’s Stephen Groves in Des Moines, Iowa: “More than 18 months before the first presidential primary of 2024, most potential Republican candidates are just getting a sense of the political landscape, tiptoeing through early-voting states and trying to make friends in key places. Then there’s KRISTI NOEM.

“Her combative style, no surprise to those who follow her, is evidence of how competitive the nomination race will be if Donald Trump stays on the sidelines. Noem charged into Iowa on Friday singing a battle hymn and armed with barbed comments for her fellow GOP governors. At a conservative gathering in Des Moines, she told the crowd she ‘really hates this America’ under President Joe Biden’s leadership, then led them in singing ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic.’”

LITERALLY CANCELED — LAT: “After third venue cancels, Gaetz, Greene take ‘protest against communism’ to Riverside”

TALES FROM EXILE — “Postponed Weddings, Stockpiled Insulin and Covid: The Bizarre Life of Texas Democrats in Exile,” by Zach Montellaro: “In interviews with a dozen Texas lawmakers during their first week in Washington, they described a hectic, last-minute scramble to pack and get out of the state. Many found out on Sunday that the quorum break was a go, but they didn’t know how long they would be gone — or, until hours before they departed on Monday, where they were actually heading. …

“The effort has turned the Texans, briefly, into Washington mini-celebrities: They’ve become regulars on cable news, while young Hill staffers shuffled over to them while eating in a Capitol office cafeteria on Tuesday to ask for pictures and cheer them on. But their endgame is unclear. Every House Democrat who spoke to POLITICO indicated they intend to stay out of Texas until the current special legislative session is over, but they demur about what comes after that. It isn’t even clear how long they’ll stay in D.C. — or even their current hotel, the Washington Plaza.”

CONGRESS

TWO PROFILES IN TWO DAYS — “Mark Warner Plays Pivotal Role in Democrats’ Large-Scale Spending Plans,” by WSJ’s Andrew Duehren: “[Sen. MARK WARNER (D-Va.)] will help determine whether all 50 members of the Senate Democratic caucus can hold together on both bills, while still persuading at least 10 Republicans to join them on infrastructure. … As a result, Mr. Warner said he now splits his time between cajoling Republicans to broaden their legislative ambitions and pleading with Democrats to narrow theirs.

“Just turning the initial $3.5 trillion agreement between members of the Budget Committee — where Mr. Warner serves as the most centrist Democrat — into legislation that earns the support of all 50 members of the Senate Democratic caucus, he said, is ‘going to be probably the hardest thing legislatively the Senate has done.’” … NYT’s Jonathan Weisman’s version from Friday

AMERICA AND THE WORLD

THE LATEST IN HAITI — “U.S., other nations appear to snub Haiti’s interim prime minister while supporting rival,” by WaPo’s Widlore Merancourt, Adam Taylor and Anthony Faiola in Port-au-Prince: “The question of who leads Haiti after the assassination of President JOVENEL MOÏSE gained a new dimension on Saturday, as a key group of international diplomats released a statement that appeared to show support for one hopeful vying for control of the country.

“The statement released by the Core Group, an informal bloc of ambassadors and envoys that includes the United States, did not mention CLAUDE JOSEPH, interim prime minister and Haiti’s effective leader. Instead, emphasizing the need for a ‘consensual and inclusive government,’ it called on ‘designated Prime Minister ARIEL HENRY to continue the mission entrusted to him to form such a government.’”

IRAN RELATIONS — “U.S. hits Iran for delay in nuclear and prisoner swap talks,” by AP’s Matthew Lee: “The Biden administration lashed out at Iran on Saturday for accusing it of delaying a proposed prisoner swap to force a quick resumption of indirect nuclear talks.

“The State Department slammed as ‘outrageous’ comments made by Iran’s deputy foreign minister who alleged the U.S. and Britain were holding the swap ‘hostage’ to the negotiations over salvaging the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA. In a pair of tweets from his verified account, ABBAS ARAGCHI said the nuclear talks in Vienna could not resume until Iran’s hardline president-elect is inaugurated in early August. ‘We’re in a transition period as a democratic transfer of power is underway in our capital,’ he said.”

FOR YOUR RADAR — “Austria investigating reported ‘Havana syndrome’ cases among U.S. envoys,” Reuters/Vienna

MEDIAWATCH — “The CNN and SiriusXM Host Giving Airtime to ‘Canceled’ Media Stars,” by The Daily Beast’s Maxwell Tani: “Over the past several years, amid a media reckoning over sexual misconduct and racism, [MICHAEL] SMERCONISH’s radio show has developed a reputation as a safe harbor for media and political figures generally considered persona non grata due to controversies that cost them high-profile gigs.”

— Eric Garcia is now senior Washington correspondent at The Independent. He most recently was an assistant editor at WaPo and is an alum of The Hill, National Journal and Roll Call.

TRANSITION — Claire Mullican has been hired as political mobilization manager at the American Chemistry Council. She most recently was scheduler for Rep. Dan Meuser (R-Pa.).

SPOTTED: Ne-Yo giving a surprise performance of his hit “Miss Independence” at downtown hotspot Casta’s Rum Bar, owned by nightlife entrepreneur and lobbyist Vinoda Basnayake

EXPECTING — Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) announced that he and his wife, Sofia, are expecting a baby in January 2022, with the caption: “New copilot, reporting for training soon!” The Instapost

WELCOME TO THE WORLD — Ari Isaacman, director of comms at The New York Times, and Frank D’Angelo, a realtor at Compass, recently welcomed Isaac (Izzy) Marcus D’Angelo. PicAnother pic

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: WaPo’s Olivier Knox … White House’s Julia Krieger and David Kamin … CBS’ Carol Ross Joynt … NBC’s Gadi SchwartzSteve ForbesChris MarrolettiJames WallnerDavid VandivierSuzanne RueckerTeddy TanzerJohn Sobel of Jenner & Block … Billy McBeath of American Crossroads … Pepper NatonskiEvan Ross of Purple Strategies … Kate BalcerzakChristina Ives of Sena Kozar Strategies … former Rep. T.J. Cox (D-Calif.), Mark Souder (R-Ind.), Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) (8-0) and Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.) … former Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) … Lizzie Ivry Cooper of EMILY’s List … Alice Rhee … Fox Business Network’s Jackie DeAngelisJustin Veillon Rebecca Bernhard (3-0)

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