And yet, they will not play

On the roster: And yet, they will not play – Minnesota governor pleads for peace – New pressure on Biden to pick a woman of color – RNC sets Wednesday deadline for convention deal – Kansas GOP uniting to stop Kobach – Cheers, Jennie

AND YET, THEY WILL NOT PLAY 
This being America, you can like what you like. But here, we like baseball.

This isn’t to say anything unkind about other sports. Basketball, football, golf, hockey, racing and everything else from soccer to curling can be wonderful – good for participants and good to watch at every level.

But baseball is better. It is not governed by a clock like the workday, but requires workmanlike devotion. It is not violent, but can be dangerous. It can be dominated by athleticism, but strategy always has its answers. And usually – usually – its season is so long that it takes on a lovely rhythm of its own.

It is perfectly American. Born of English traditions, made in the Civil War, played by men of every station, race, place and creed. People around the world are drawn to it, and to us because of it. Cheap and simple for small groups to take up, capable of providing the kind of spectacle that holds hundreds of millions in its grasp.

Now here you might say, “I signed up for a political note, not some Boys’ Life essay about America’s pastime.” And you would be right. But bear with us one minute more.

Whether you like big-time football, seeing someone flipped like a chicken on a rotisserie in a mixed martial arts cage or are a synchronized swimmer, baseball is our game. You may not find it to be best, but like whatever kind of pizza comes from where you live, you still love it. We made it. It’s been around forever. It’s ours.

Beyond the special privileges afforded in our national spirit that baseball enjoys, it also gets some very preferential treatment from governments municipal to federal. Baseball has been cashing in on this Abner Doubleday business for many decades.

And yet, in the time of the year when baseball is sweetest and at the moment when America very much needs institutions to function in mature manners and when everyone needs something to smile about… they will not play.

They’re not worried about their health. There would be no fans. The owners and players wouldn’t be slipping on face masks to head back into a pulmonary unit or changing sheets in a nursing home or scalding hogs. They would live and work in pristine bubbles where everyone is tested and safety is as assured as fresh, white horsehide for batting practice. And yet… they will not play.

Reports now say that both sides – “management and labor” seems funny to say with so many millionaires all around, but that’s what it is – are considering skipping the season because it would just make more economic sense than coming up with a deal to play a half season. Only money.

Here’s a word, professional baseball: If you can’t do this for the country, your fans and the kids looking for the sign that it would be safe and good to get back in the sunshine and play again, then you are refusing your duty.

It’s fine for everybody to look out for themselves. Our system not only allows it, it expects it. But our system also demands that people look beyond themselves and see each other as more than market participants, but as citizens in a great nation. And today that great nation is suffering mightily.

If these owners and players are so callous to be oblivious to the needs and wants of their fellow Americans’ hearts, what will the consequences be?

It may seem a small thing thrust up against the latest death totals or the numbers from the Department of Labor, but it will matter if baseball refuses to work – if baseball owners and players go on strike against their own country in a crisis and blame coronavirus. A dim precedent, indeed.

If these people can convince themselves to reject the chance to be the first major sport to play again, including an Independence Day start, then they have convinced themselves that they don’t owe their fellow citizens their due.

Imagine if the rest of the people of our country faced these challenges that way. You can’t because they wouldn’t, even when institutions fail them and people who are supposed to be leaders think of themselves first. They don’t have that luxury.

But you could certainly excuse them for revoking baseball’s “national pastime” card once and for all.

THE RULEBOOK: SOLDIER ON
“Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to [war’s] dictates.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 8

TIME OUT: COMMUNICATION BREAKDOWN
NatGeo: “When RMS Titanic set sail in 1912, it was blessed and cursed with the latest in communication technology—the wireless telegraph. In the last hours after Titanic hit an iceberg, radio messages sent from the storied sinking ship summoned a rescue vessel that saved hundreds of people, but also sowed confusion with competing distress calls and signal interference. More than 1,500 people died that fateful night. Now, a recent court ruling may pave the way to the recovery of Titanic’s telegraph, designed by Guglielmo Marconi, a telecommunications pioneer and 1909 Nobel Prize winner in physics who invented the first device to facilitate wireless communications using radio waves. … The tragedy led Marconi to bitterly regret his monopolistic decision to push longwave radio communication for maritime use. ‘Now I have realized my mistake,’ he said in a 1927 speech.”

Flag on the play? – Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM with your tips, comments or questions.

SCOREBOARD
PRESIDENTIAL POWER RANKINGS
(270 electoral votes needed to win)
Toss-up: (103 electoral votes): Wisconsin (10), Ohio (18), Florida (29), Arizona (11), Pennsylvania (20), North Carolina (15)
Lean R/Likely R: (186 electoral votes)
Lean D/Likely D: (249 electoral votes)
[Full rankings here.]

TRUMP JOB PERFORMANCE
Average approval: 44.2 percent
Average disapproval: 52.6 percent
Net Score: -8.4 points
Change from one week ago: no change in points
[Average includes: American Research Group: 40% approve – 57% disapprove; Fox News: 44% approve – 54% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 42% approve – 53% disapprove; CNN: 46% approve – 51% disapprove; Gallup: 49% approve – 48% disapprove.]

WANT MORE HALFTIME REPORT?
You can join Chris and Brianna every day on Fox Nation. It’ll be the same behind-the-scenes look at your favorite political note, only from their remote locations during this unprecedented time.

MINNESOTA GOVERNOR PLEADS FOR PEACE
Fox News: “Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Friday promised swift justice in the death of George Floyd, but also pleaded with looters and violent protestors who have set fire to Minneapolis to stop, so the city could restore justice and order. ‘I won’t patronize you as a white man about living those experiences… but I am asking you to help us,’ Walz said. ‘Help us use humane ways to get the streets to a place where we can restore the justice so that those who are expressing rage and anger and demanding justice are heard…’ Walz added that that the looting and violence was counterproductive to the ultimate goal of seeking justice for Floyd and that underlying issues involved in Floyd’s death could not be addresses until there was calm. ‘We can’t have it because we can’t function as a society and I refuse to have it take away from the attention of the state,’ he said.”

Trump’s taunt to rioters intensifies his feud with Twitter – WSJ: “Twitter Inc. shielded from public view tweets from President Trump and the White House for breaking what the company said are its rules about glorifying violence, a step that is likely to escalate tension between the president and the social-media giant. The decision came one day after Mr. Trump signed an executive order taking aim at what he alleged was censorship by social-media companies, calling Twitter ‘an editor with a viewpoint.’ Mr. Trump, in tweets posted shortly after midnight on Friday, criticized protesters clashing with police in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died Monday after a white officer pinned him to the ground with a knee to his neck. The protests have turned increasingly violent, with a police station being set on fire overnight. The president called the demonstrators thugs and warned: ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts.’”

Biden denounced violence, ‘constant anxiety’ for black America – Fox News: “Former Vice President Joe Biden urged the demonstrators behind the violent protests in Minnesota ‘to exercise their rights peacefully and safely.’ But the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee also called the death of a black man after being pinned to the ground for several minutes by Minneapolis police officers, which sparked three straight nights of rioting, a ‘brutal, brutal death’ which he emphasized exposes ‘this ugly underbelly of our society.’… Biden, speaking at a virtual fundraiser Thursday night, once again urged that the ‘officers in the Floyd case must be held accountable, including with the FBI investigation and independent Department of Justice civil rights investigation.’ Calling for calm as the protests raged, Biden urged ‘the protesters to exercise their rights peacefully and safely.’ But he acknowledged that ‘people all across this country are enraged and rightly so. Everyday African-Americans go about their lives with constant anxiety and trauma of wondering, ‘Will I be next?’ Sounds like an exaggeration but it’s not.’”

NEW PRESSURE ON BIDEN TO PICK A WOMAN OF COLOR
WaPo: “Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is facing growing pressure from activists and party leaders to pick a nonwhite running mate in the wake of explosive incidents involving race and police violence that have stoked widespread outrage. Biden has pledged to select a woman, prompting leading Democrats to publicly and privately promote several high-profile women of color for the job. Those calls have grown louder this week following the death of a black man in police custody in Minneapolis, a racist conflict in a New York City park and the fatal shooting of a black jogger in Georgia. Biden’s recent suggestion that African American voters who aren’t already supporting him ‘ain’t black’ and the coronavirus’s disproportionate effect on nonwhite communities have added to the pressure.”

Minneapolis police brutality may end Klobuchar’s veep hopes – The [Minnesota] Star Tribune: “The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody this week has renewed concerns about Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s time as a Hennepin County prosecutor as she is being vetted as a potential running mate for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. The selection of Biden’s No. 2 is unfolding as many blacks — a key voting bloc for the party — are looking for Biden to show he is not taking black voters for granted and that his ticket can excite those who sat out the 2016 election. Klobuchar’s presidential bid was marked by an inability to gain inroads with black primary voters while at the same time facing criticism from civil rights activists attacking her decisions not to prosecute any of the officers in a string of police-involved fatalities when she was Hennepin County attorney.”

Cortez Masto un-veeps herself – AP: “Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada said Thursday that she’s not interested in serving as running mate to presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden. Cortez Masto, who in 2016 became the first Latina elected to the U.S. Senate, said in a statement that she supports the former vice president but does not want to join the Democratic presidential ticket. ‘I support Joe Biden 100% and will work tirelessly to help get him elected this November. It is an honor to be considered as a potential running mate but I have decided to withdraw my name from consideration,’ Cortez Masto said in a statement. She noted that Nevada’s economy is one of the hardest hit by the coronavirus, with the worst unemployment rate in the nation at 28.2%. She said she will focus on getting Nevada residents back on their feet.”

Biden campaign nixes fundraiser with Mueller deputy – Bloomberg: “Joe Biden’s campaign has canceled a fundraiser that was to feature Robert Mueller’s top deputy in the Russia investigation, a person familiar with the move said. The event with Andrew Weissmann had been scheduled for June 2 and was to be a ‘fireside chat’ with former New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram. Tickets started at $500 and went up to $5,600. Allies of President Donald Trump argued during the Mueller probe that Weissmann, who was first appointed to a federal post by President George H.W. Bush, was not objective in his duties because he gave $2,300 to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. The Biden campaign declined to comment.”

RNC SETS WEDNESDAY DEADLINE FOR CONVENTION DEAL
WaPo: “The Republican National Committee set a June 3 deadline for North Carolina officials to approve their planned in-person political convention in August, despite continuing uncertainty over the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has upended the presidential campaign. In a letter sent Thursday evening to Gov. Roy Cooper, the RNC outlined a number of safety protocols it said it would invoke during the convention in Charlotte, an apparent response to the Democratic governor’s request for a safety plan. The deadline was roughly the same set by President Trump in remarks Tuesday. The letter did not address some basic safety concerns, omitting, for example, whether attendees would be required to wear masks or take a coronavirus test before entering the Spectrum Arena where the convention would be held. Federal health authorities have strongly recommended the use of masks for any gatherings in which attendees cannot properly distance themselves — which would be the case in a convention drawing thousands of delegates and others.”

‘Trumptilla’ ahoy – Politico: “President Trump can’t hold his large energetic rallies because of coronavirus. But his campaign has discovered the next best thing: massive pro-Trump flotillas that are taking his message to waterways across the country. The large boat parades — which began organically among MAGA devotees in South Florida and spread to Florida’s Gulf Coast, Arizona’s Lake Havasu, South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor and Southern California’s Newport Harbor during Memorial Day weekend — quickly caught the notice of the president and his campaign. Now, the campaign is encouraging the flotillas and utilizing its robust data operation to organize and excite a demographic that turns out to be heavily represented in some of the most closely-contested swing states from the Sun Belt to the Great Lakes.”

KANSAS GOP UNITING TO STOP KOBACH
The Kansas City Star: “Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle has dropped out of the race for U.S. Senate four days ahead of the filing deadline. The Wichita Republican’s decision to forgo the race to replace retiring Sen. Pat Roberts comes hours after Kansans For Life’s PAC announced its decision to endorse Rep. Roger Marshall. It was a huge blow to Wagle’s candidacy, which was framed largely around her efforts to pass an anti-abortion amendment this legislative session. Wagle pointed to conversations with party leaders and concerns that a divided Republican electorate could be boost to Democrat Barbara Bollier in the general election. … Wagle’s decision to drop out ahead of the filing deadline will likely help boost Marshall, the congressman from western Kansas, who has been trying to establish himself as the main alternative to former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the party’s 2018 nominee for governor.”

Republicans recruit record numbers of women, minorities – Fox News: “[C]onservative groups are contributing to what is a historically diverse field of Republican House candidates, with record numbers of women and minorities running in 2020. To date, more than 180 minorities have filed to run for the House of Representatives as Republicans, according to The New York Times, and over 200 women have filed nationwide, according to the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP).”

SENATE DEMS DEMUR ON ANOTHER ROUND OF CHECKS
The Hill: “House Democrats looking to deliver another round of $1,200 relief checks to Americans are encountering skepticism from an unexpected source — fellow Democrats in the Senate. The $3 trillion House-passed measure is not only facing opposition from GOP senators, it’s also prompting Senate Democrats to raise concerns about what they see as a huge untargeted expenditure. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, said he wants the next round of coronavirus relief to be more focused on the households that have been hardest hit by the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic. … Cardin said the direct payments made more sense in March when Congress wanted to get money out the door as quickly as possible. But now, as states are allowing businesses to reopen around the country, he says lawmakers should look at who will most need relief in the coming months.”

Bipartisan bill to ease business loan terms sails through House – Forbes: “The House of Representatives on Thursday passed new legislation that would make it easier for businesses to have their Paycheck Protection Program loans forgiven by relaxing restrictions on how the loan money can be used and extending the period that businesses have to use the funds. The bill would extend the forgiveness period for PPP loans from eight to 24 weeks. It would also reduce payroll spending requirements from 75% of loan funds to 60% of loan funds, giving businesses more flexibility in deciding how to allocate the emergency funds, and extend a June 30 deadline to hire workers back. … The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act was introduced by Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.). It passed in the House on Thursday with a vote of 471-1; only Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) voted no. … This bill is now headed to the Senate, where it is expected to pass.”

ILLINOIS RELENTS ON CHURCHES, CALIFORNIA WON’T
Politico: “The governors of Illinois and California took somewhat different tacks Thursday night as they urged the Supreme Court not to get involved in disputes over the impact of virus-related lockdown orders on churches in their states. Hours before a deadline to respond to two churches’ request for an emergency stay to allow them to have more than 10 people in attendance at Pentecost services this Sunday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D-Ill.) announced that he was dropping all legal restrictions on religious gatherings and replacing them with voluntary ‘guidance.’ … By contrast, California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s most recent virus-response plan includes the same numerical standards for churches, but makes the limits mandatory rather than optional.”

PLAY-BY-PLAY
Continetti: Republicans right to worry – Washington Free Beacon

Trump announces extension for National Guard’s coronavirus deployment – Politico

AUDIBLE: WHICH IS NICE
“I’m much more focused myself on things like virtual reality, which would let anyone teleport anywhere in the world or in the universe that they want without having to physically strap themselves to a rocket.” – Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg when asked by Dana Perino if he had any interest in going into space.

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
Tune in this weekend as Mr. Sunday sits down with Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. Watch “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.” Check local listings for broadcast times in your area.

#mediabuzz – Host Howard Kurtz has the latest take on the week’s media coverage. Watch #mediabuzz Sundays at 11 a.m. ET.

FROM THE BLEACHERS
“I just watched the six hour History channel special on Gen. Grant.  Interesting, if you don’t mind a huge number of commercials. But, it reminded me that Pres. Lincoln, a Republican, freed the slaves. Lincoln’s successor, Pres. Johnson did very little to help the South recover from the Civil War, and then Pres. Grant, a Republican, worked hard to help the South and establish rights for the Blacks. He almost stopped the KKK. But he was replaced by a Democrat, and the KKK rose again and the South had segregation for many years, basically until a Republican President, Eisenhower, stopped it. Forward to more modern times, and it seems like every time there is a Republican President our black citizens move ahead.  Prior to the virus, under President Trump the black unemployment rate was the lowest in history.  Yet, the Democrats continue to campaign under the assumption that the large majority of black voters will vote for a Democrat. Any Democrat. I don’t understand why.” – Richard Hardman, Orlando, Fla.

[Ed. note: I don’t wish to make this a fact-checking exercise, Mr. Hardman, but we should point out that Grant was succeeded by fellow Republican, Ohioan and Civil War general, Rutherford B. Hayes. There wouldn’t be a Democratic president until 1885, one of only two in the 72 years between 1861 and 1933. Dwight Eisenhower certainly acted decisively to enforce the Supreme Court ruling banning school segregation. But actual desegregation was a long, painful process that included the Democrat-led Civil Rights Act (check out Harry Enten’s great historical breakdown of that vote), but more than anything the willingness of Martin Luther King and civil rights protesters to sacrifice themselves to shame Americans North and South into ending legal segregation. But I know what you mean: Why are black voters not more grateful to Republicans who ended slavery and have at various times presided over economic booms? Let me try it this way: The New Deal, the five-day work week, the eight-hour day, occupational safety requirements, farm loans, the G.I. Bill and so much of what was built to benefit white, working-class Americans came from Democrats and the left. So why aren’t these white folks more grateful? Why do working-class whites vote overwhelmingly Republican despite all the ways Republicans fought those things in the past 100 years? Why do older white Americans, who benefit so much from Medicare and Social Security turn their backs on the party of F.D.R.? They would probably say that the Democratic Party is very different now, and they would be right. They might also say that they feel more at home culturally in a party dominated by those who share their values. And that would be just fine. Nobody owes anybody their vote, whether they are black or white, Democrat or Republican. We are free people, and it is unseemly when partisans of either party make such demands of racial fealty. That goes for telling someone “you ain’t black” if you vote for the other guy, and it also goes for telling someone they owe you their support because of the events of 150 years ago and the swings of the business cycle.]

“It’s been a minute; I’ve been tuning out from recent political and news shenanigans, and getting my news from The Five and Special Report. I have been keeping up with your newsletter, but just have not been motivated to chime in. Some of your Bleachers’ comments have stirred me to end my self-imposed exile! First and foremost, I consider myself a conservative libertarian, and am very excited to see mention of Jo Jorgensen in your column. Hopefully, she’ll know where Aleppo is. We are indeed stuck with, again, the two worst alternatives who could only lose to each other. Don’t get me wrong; I am a performance guy, and like how Trump “makes his own weather”, as you say, even if a lot of it is repugnant. Which leads me to item two: the divisiveness another writer sent in. If Trump wins (and I suspect he will), what is going to happen in the following four years? Not so much in Congress; I expect more of the same from those critters. What’s going to happen in the country? I can see some serious secessionist movements taking place in the ‘Acela Corridor,’ and on the west coast. And, if it were to happen, in what form? It would make the remainder solid Red. The negotiations for defense, currency, etc. would be, um, wow. You and Brianna keep up the good work.” – Jeff Smith, Warner Robins, Ga.

[Ed. note: Oh now, Mr. Smith! Let’s press a pause button on secession today. The most valuable deception that partisans maintain these days is that each election is an existential choice. Remember what Democrats said about Trump? Literally the apocalypse. He’s certainly banged his head on the ductwork quite a bit, but not unlike Bill Clinton, figured out a way to have an administration amidst chaos. Democrats now say it would be four more years that we can’t survive. Republicans are just as bad, likening Democrats to terrorists bent on destroying the country and now warning that America can’t survive four years of a careerist senator from Delaware as president. Blah, blah, blah, blah… Demagogues want you scared and angry so that you are more easily manipulated, to follow your feelings instead of reason. Look, America’s got big fat problems, perhaps chief among them is the weakness of our institutions — institutions that have been strip mined for credibility by self-seeking politicians. But we are strong, we are resilient, and we are, after every other option has been tried, bound to do the right thing. Don’t fall for the partisans who want you to believe we are living on the edge of a civil war.]

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

CHEERS, JENNIE
NY Post: “Hey, Jennie Stejna, this Bud’s for you! The 103-year-old Massachusetts woman came back from the brink of death after battling the coronavirus — and celebrated with an ice-cold Bud Light. ‘She’s feisty and tenacious,’ her grandson, Dave Stejna of Easton, Mass., tells The Post. ‘She is legendary in so many different ways. She speaks her mind and doesn’t put up with anything.’ That includes the global pandemic, which has been particularly devastating for the world’s senior citizen population. Stejna, an avid Red Sox fan who lives in the Life Care Center of Wilbraham, became both the first person to contract the deadly virus in the facility and the first there to beat it. About three weeks ago, her health ordeal began with a low-grade fever, and she was moved to a separate COVID-19 unit, fighting the disease for about 20 days.”

AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“I am not exactly sure how Daniel Krauthammer, age 4, acquired the boxing gloves. But then again, I am not sure how he acquired the plastic gun, the F-15 fighter-bomber with sound effects or, for that matter, the dog.” – Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018) writing in the Washington Post on Feb. 23, 1990.

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. 

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