The GOP's platform is… Donald Trump

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

"For now, and for my beloved children, it will be less drama, more mama." — Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, announcing that she's leaving the White House at the end of August. Her husband, prominent Trump critic George Conway, will similarly take a break from his anti-Trump group the Lincoln Project and drop off Twitter. 

WHAT'S HAPPENING

President Donald Trump speaks at the first day of the Republican National Convention on August 24, 2020, in Charlotte, North Carolina.BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

The Republican convention begins tonight, and Trump will speak every day. The GOP will not adopt a party platform, but instead will pledge to "enthusiastically" support the president's agenda, whatever it is. Convention speakers include lots of Trump children and several conservative culture war figures.

Scientists have documented the first confirmed reinfection with COVID. A young man tested positive twice, more than four months apart. Rigorous analysis confirms it was a different infection the second time. This confirms expectations there would be some cases of early reinfection, and complicates the quest for a vaccine. Meanwhile, Trump is trying to fast-track a lightly tested British vaccine before Election Day, which deeply worries scientists. 

Twin hurricanes could hit the Gulf Coast this week. Marco could hit Louisiana on Monday, while tropical storm Laura is on track to landfall in the area on Thursday. 

Jacob Blake, a Black man shot by the police seven times in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is in intensive care after surgery. A viral video of the shooting has led to protests and outrage. 

Jared Kushner brokered a deal to get 45 ventilators from Russia. And every single one of them was faulty. 

VIEWS OF THE DAY

US President Donald Trump pumps his fist as he arrives for the Independence Day events at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in Keystone, South Dakota, July 3, 2020.SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

RNC 2020: We believe in nothing except Trump

President Trump was asked in June by his super-duper number one Fox News fan Sean Hannity what he hoped to do as Leader of the Free World during a second term. 

Trump, in response, rambled about "the word experience" and that he had been to the nation's capital many times but had "never slept over in Washington." He never articulated a single policy ambition or even a vague, grand vision for the country.

With the Republican National Convention (RNC) set to kick off its four-day run in Charlotte tonight, the entity once known as the Republican Party has taken the lead of its Dear Leader: It stands for nothing at all, other than Trump. 

It's not a Grand Old Party anymore, it's just a host for a Trump personality cult. 

One of the requisite features of a party convention is a committee of delegates negotiating and agreeing to a party platform. Such platforms are non-binding and ceremonial, but they do provide a window into the party's id every four years.

But given the limitations presented by the coronavirus pandemic, the RNC said in a statement that it "did not want a small contingent of delegates formulating a new platform without the breadth of perspectives within the ever-growing Republican movement" and would instead simply "continue to enthusiastically support the President's America-first agenda."

That might be a plausible excuse had the Democrats not had an almost-entirely virtual convention last week and somehow come up with a 2020 platform. 

The lack of a fresh RNC platform for 2020 matters little in the scheme of things. Voters don't refer to them, politicians don't necessarily adhere to them, and no one remembers them any more than a few days after they're introduced. 

But punting on a platform this year shows that the GOP as presently constituted stands for nothing besides fealty to its Trump.

As Politico's Tim Alberta puts it: "The supposed canons of GOP orthodoxy — limited government, free enterprise, institutional conservation, moral rectitude, fiscal restraint, global leadership — have in recent years gone from elastic to expendable."

What's replaced the Republicans' nominal principles is a reactionary populism that defines itself by its enemies: the media, immigrants, and "the libs." 

This was a winning strategy in 2016, thanks in no small part to the electoral college and Hillary Clinton's historically inept campaign. It could very well win in 2020. But either way, the GOP has obliterated whatever it claimed to stand for. There's no going back. "Republican" is just the brand name for Trumpism. 

"Twilight of Democracy" author Anne Applebaum recently told me that the Republican Party  "needs to lose, and lose badly, if it's going to recover and become the broad, multiracial, center-right party that America needs once again."

Should Trump win, or should enough congressional Republicans win in November, a party reckoning is unlikely. 

What we'll see instead is more unhinged QAnon candidates on Republican tickets, mainstream Republicans bending to their will to keep their caucus together, and the next Trumpist in line (Don Jr.? Tucker Carlson?) ready to fill the role of demagogue-in-waiting. — Anthony Fisher

Everything is politics and it's exhausting.

Another week of conventions, which is another reminder that in 2020 America, everything is politics. 

Are your kids going back to school in person? That depends on how blue or red your state is, not on the local infection rate. Is your conference going to play college football? If you're in a conservative part of the country, it probably is! Must you wear a mask in the store? On the street? Is Melania's redesign of the White House Rose Garden beautiful or hideous? 

Why is everything politics? 

Why does any fight about anything — aesthetics, sports, science, art — now have exactly the same two sides? Why is everyone always on the same team? It's boring. It's exhausting. And it's dehumanizing. When you're always up against the same people, you become less and less human to each other. 

Wouldn't it be nice to have an argument about, well, anything, that didn't ultimately revert to "Trump"? Wouldn't it be nice to squabble with your best friend about something mildly important? Or make common cause with a nemesis about a trivial matter? — DP

President Donald Trump, flanked by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to the cameras as he departs the Senate Republicans policy lunch in the Hart Senate Office building on Tuesday, May 19, 2020.Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Of course Trump's coronavirus relief executive order didn't help

Shocking no one, the executive orders (EOs) Trump signed attempting to force the states to dole out more coronavirus aid didn't work. Only one state (Arizona) has implemented Trump's measure to add $300 a week to unemployment aid. The rest of these states are confused, and recognize that a piecemeal solution to this problem is no solution at all. They need the federal government to get back to work and pass a law.

But Trump's EOs basically blew up already-fraught negotiations between the White House and House Democrats. Now Congress is on vacation. Meanwhile Goldman Sachs estimates that the end of one benefit from the previous aid bill — a $600 per week federal supplement to unemployment checks — will drain $70 billion worth of Americans personal income this month alone.

This seems intentional. Sen. Mitch McConnell had a terrible time getting the bill through his caucus. Despite the fact that coronavirus cases are still surging around the country, the libertarian wing of the GOP didn't want to keep signing checks. As a result, the bill that came out of the Senate was so far from what would be acceptable to House Democrats that it was going to take weeks of negotiation to get something passable to the floor.

So, Trump basically just said "screw it." He burst into negotiations like the Kool-Aid Man and now we've got nothing.

Trump's EOs gave him the opportunity to look like he was doing something on TV, which is always enough to satisfy this White House. The Senate got to avoid working on a bill that it hates. If you're incredibly cynical (and these people are) you could see this as a win, even though the biggest losers here are Americans in desperate need.

Back in April I wrote that even after lockdown, Americans would live in a shrunken world — shrunken by the fact that human interaction would have to be limited until there's a vaccine. Economic transactions are mostly human interactions, so you see where this is going. A coronavirus world is one of naturally depressed demand even in the best case scenario, where the government is doing all it can. We don't live in that scenario, 170,000 people are dead and all Trump can say is "it is what it is."

Now we have two economies, as Catherine Rampell put it over at WaPo. One belongs to the mostly white-collar workers who can work from home, own stocks, and can keep saving money. They were fine before and they're fine now. Their comfort is being reflected in the stock market, where valuations seem to be leaping over this crisis entirely. That's because the people who own and trade stocks have no problem thinking about a post-coronavirus future. Unlike the rest of America, they're not trying to figure out how to survive day by day.

That brings us to the other economy in which more Americans live. In that economy of mostly blue-collar workers, jobs have barely recovered and many businesses have not reopened. Home mortgage payment delinquencies are at their highest rate since the financial crisis. People are going hungry. Wall Street is starting to call this a "K-shaped recovery." Some people are going up, even more people are going down.

The middle class was evaporating before, but now it's being sucked dry. None of the president's dog and pony show circus antics are changing that. We need Congress to do its job so Americans can go back to their jobs one day, hopefully soon. — Linette Lopez

Another Giant Panda baby at the Zoo, another win for China. 

The Giant Panda Mei Xiang gave birth to a cub Friday night at Washington's National Zoo, and the local and national media are predictably gaga. It's a "miracle" cub because Mei Xiang's the oldest American panda to give birth in captivity, and because the zookeepers managed the pregnancy through the pandemic. If the cub lives, it will be her fourth.

China's Giant Panda lend-lease program is one of the cleverest examples of public diplomacy in the modern world. Exploiting the world's crush on the black-and-white semi-bears, China rents pandas out to zoos for huge fees — $1 million a year has been reported. The zoos then pay monstrous amounts to feed and care for the animals, $500,000 a year per bear, and undertake captive breeding programs. China owns all cubs, which are repatriated to China at age four and enrolled in China's elaborate breeding, research, and re-wilding program. (Mei Xiang's first three offspring were all repatriated to China.)  

Americans have addicted themselves to pandas. They're the main draw for the National Zoo, and also have attracted huge crowds in other cities where they've been loaned out, including San Diego and Atlanta. 

But why are we duped by them? Pandas are gorgeous, but — as with too-beautiful humans — pandas exploit their beauty to cover up their deep character flaws. Pandas are lazy and ill-tempered. They barely move! (The hours I wasted as a DC schoolkid waiting for one of the pandas to do something, anything — just to lift a paw!)  Pandas don't seem to be interested in their own survival: It takes heroic, hideously expensive efforts to get them to breed. They're largely indifferent parents. (Don't get me started about the DC panda that crushed its own newborn.) 

Americans are forking over enormous sums of money to China so they can gawp at dumb, brutish supermodel animals. We should be spending those millions on American-made products. How about bison? Or black-footed ferrets? Or manatees? Or pumas? Pumas are plenty gorgeous! 

The Trump administration is frantic that TikTok and Huawei are infiltrating the US and hooking Americans on Chinese products. Maybe they should worry about Giant Pandas instead. — DP

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Getty

Major Zoom outages have disrupted the start of the work week, and some school reopenings. Users began reporting problems at 8 am ET on Monday. The company says it is investigating. 

TikTok is suing to stop Trump from trying to ban it. In a lawsuit that it's filing today, the company says Trump's executive order violates its due process. 

LIFE

Ashley Landis/Pool Photo/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

NBA fans are pretty excited about Luka Doncic. The young Dallas Mavericks' star hit a looooong OT buzzer-beater to defeat the Clippers. He also had 43 points, 17 rebounds, and 13 assists, one of the best playoff stat lines ever.

Rich Kids of the Internet, yuck: The popular account showing the children of zillionaires with on their yachts and in their Bugattis, and they actually pay to be featured. 

THE BIG 3*

The wedding industry has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic.FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

A Maine wedding has been linked to 53 COVID cases, including one death. The Aug. 7 wedding was mostly indoors, and had more than the 50-person max allowed by the state. 

An asteroid is headed toward earth the day before Election Day. Because, of course. The fridge-size rock will probably miss earth but will likely burn up if it does enter the atmosphere. 

TikTok creators are pretending to be Holocaust victims in heaven. They make themselves up with burns and bruises, wear yellow stars, and explain how they were killed by Nazis. They mean well, but the Holocaust Museum says it dishonors victims. 

*The most popular stories on Insider today.

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