Discuss: Political Madness All the Time

Lynna is your curator. How are you all holding up, America? Not well, I guess, since this is the hardest working thread ever.

(Previous thread)


  1. says

    KG @ #499, thanks for detailed information/analysis!

    Here’s KG’s comment, since this will I assume roll over into a new thread:

    The “majority of one” is probably a bit less precarious than it looks. Charlie Elphicke, who has had the Tory whip suspended while being investigated for sexual assault, is counted as in the opposition, but would vote with Johnson, making the majority 3 (with the DUP included and Sinn Fein still refusing to take their seats, of course). A couple of the ex-Labour MPs (now independents) are pro-Brexit, and Kate Hoey has appeared closer to the DUP and the Farageists than to Labour, which is supposedly her party. On the other side, only a couple of Tories have said they would vote down the government to prevent a no-deal crash-out. Still, Johnson has put a lot of Tory MP’s noses out of joint. A few “accidental” absences from crucial votes might still topple him.

  2. says

    Guardian – “Revealed: Johnson ally’s firm secretly ran Facebook propaganda network”:

    The lobbying firm run by Boris Johnson’s close ally Sir Lynton Crosby has secretly built a network of unbranded “news” pages on Facebook for dozens of clients ranging from the Saudi government to major polluters, a Guardian investigation has found.

    In the most complete account yet of CTF Partners’ outlook and strategy, current and former employees of the campaign consultancy have painted a picture of a business that appears to have professionalised online disinformation, taken on a series of controversial clients and faced [faced? – SC] incidents of misogynistic bullying in its headquarters.

    They said that such was the culture of secrecy within the firm that staff working on online disinformation campaigns, which selectively promoted their clients’ viewpoints on anonymised Facebook pages that followed a common formula, used initials rather than full names on internal systems and often relied on personal email accounts to avoid their work being traced back to CTF and its clients.

    The disclosures will raise pressure on the prime minister to distance himself from CTF, with former staff members warning that the company might wield substantial influence in the new administration. CTF gave Johnson an interest-free loan to cover office and staffing costs earlier this year, while Crosby’s partners in the business are Mark Textor and Mark Fullbrook, with Fullbrook taking a leave of absence to run Johnson’s campaign for the Tory party leadership along with David Canzini.

    The news follows the Guardian’s April report that Crosby’s company was behind a series of hugely influential pro-Brexit Facebook groups, which spent as much as £1m seeding the idea of a no-deal exit from the EU in the minds of the British public.

    But the latest revelations reveal that the company has pursued that approach more broadly, in the service of previously unreported corporate interests and foreign governments.

    And they expose a major flaw in Facebook’s political transparency tools, which make it possible for Crosby’s company – which boasts on its website that it deploys “the latest tools in digital engagement” – to use the social network to run professional-looking “news” pages reaching tens of millions of people on highly contentious topics, without apparently disclosing that they are being overseen by CTF Partners on behalf of paying clients.

    The Guardian understands that CTF Partners earned millions of pounds representing the Saudi Arabian government, with the account headed by longtime Crosby associate Mark Domitrak – a former lobbying boss at British American Tobacco. The company helped coordinate press coverage around the arrival of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman in the UK for his state visit in early 2018, prior to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi….

    Much more at the link. FB comes across as disingenuous as ever.

  3. says

    Anand Giridharadas:

    To all those handwringing over the Democratic re-examination of the Obama years:

    This isn’t North Korea or the GOP. Members of the party don’t just have to clap at Dear Leader. You can love Obama and still ask what should be done differently 12 years after he started running.

    A primary is collective therapy. The party is asking itself: Which of our past behaviors served us well and will continue to serve us down the road? Which of our past behaviors were trouble then and now? And which of our past behaviors were right then but wrong for new times?

    Telling Democrats not to talk about Obama and focus on Trump is like telling someone in therapy not to think about their childhood and focus on that current issue with their boss. You move forward by making sense of the past, understanding what you want to keep and discard.

    Today on @Morning_Joe, on and off camera, we had an interesting, important, still unanswerable conversation about whether safe incrementalism or sweeping change is the answer to Trump’s demagogy.

    You can’t solve a puzzle like that without thinking anew about the past, and Obama.

    You know who probably has many thoughts about what he would or should have done differently? Barack Obama, one of the smartest critical thinkers ever to occupy the Oval Office. He’s big enough to look at himself, and did so in an exquisite book. It’s not a crime to analyze him.

    Never marry someone who hasn’t spent time thinking about why their past relationships failed. Don’t vote for a candidate who hasn’t spent time thinking about the successes and limitations of their predecessors.

  4. says

    On the sanctions discussed here, Andrew S. Weiss:

    Reaction to new Trump Russia sanctions from Andrei Movchan (longtime Russian CEO and finance expert) of @CarnegieRussia: “It looks like the measures were chosen based on their harmlessness. The govt of Russia does not borrow from US banks and has no intention to.”

    “Neither does Russia borrow from international financial institutions such as IMF. Public debt is unaffected. After the announcement the Ruble did not move (even though it did lose about 3% after the Fed’s rate cut).”

    “That suggests that investors believe there will not be any restrictions on both local and USD-denominated Russian debt in the near future.”

  5. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    You know, if I were on Twitter, SC’s #498 on Amash’s crocodile tears would have me starting a hashtag


    As in

    As I watched the pink flesh peel back from his forearm revealing his lizard skin, I was #privately horrified


    “It’s burst into flames. Oh the humanity…” #privately horrified

  6. says

    Protest news in the Guardian:

    “Russian protesters threatened with jail on eve of planned rally.”

    “Hong Kong civil servants protest in defiance of loyalty order.”

    The second article notes that:

    Beijing has intensified its accusations that foreign countries are “fanning the fire” of unrest in the city. On Thursday China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, ordered the US to “immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs in any form”.

    On Friday Xie Feng, the commissioner for the foreign ministry in Hong Kong, called on foreign forces to “withdraw their black hands” and stop interfering with “China’s internal affairs”.

    Donald Trump has abstained from commenting directly on the demonstrations, referring to them as “riots”, using language also employed by Beijing to describe the mass protests, many of which have been peaceful.

    “Somebody said that at some point they’re going to want to stop that,” the US president told reporters, referring to China’s potential response to the crisis. “But that’s between Hong Kong and that’s between China, because Hong Kong is a part of China.”

  7. says

    TPM (orig. ProPublica) – “How Trump’s Political Appointees Overruled Tougher Settlements With Big Banks”:

    Since Donald Trump’s election, federal white-collar enforcement has taken a big hit. Fines and settlements against corporations have plummeted. Prosecutions of individuals are falling to record lows.

    But just how these fines and settlements came to be slashed is less well understood. Two settlements with giant banks over financial crisis-era misdeeds provide a window into how the Trump administration has eased up on corporate wrongdoers.

    In settlements last year with the two big U.K.-based banks, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland, political appointees at the Trump administration Justice Department took the unusual step of overruling staff prosecutors to reduce the settlements sought, leaving billions of dollars in potential recoveries on the table, according to four people familiar with the settlements.

    In the case of RBS, then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein decided that the charges should not be pursued as a criminal case, as the prosecutorial team advocated, but rather as a less serious civil one.

    Both cases were developed by the Obama administration DOJ and involved accusations that the banks misled buyers of residential mortgage-backed securities before the 2008 financial crisis. Prosecutors seemingly found numerous examples of bankers knowingly selling lemons to their customers. The mortgages they were putting into securities were “total fucking garbage,” one RBS executive said in a phone call that was recorded and cited in a DOJ filing. A Barclays banker said a group of loans “scares the shit out of me.” Mortgages that went into the two banks’ securities lost a total of $73 billion, according to calculations used by the government.

    In March 2018, the DOJ settled with Barclays for $2 billion, a sum dictated by Trump appointees that was far below what the staff prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York in Brooklyn had sought. The settlement with RBS occurred in August 2018, for $4.9 billion. After Rosenstein downgraded the case from criminal to civil, other Trump appointees concluded that the settlement amount should be about half of what staff prosecutors in the District of Massachusetts had sought.

    The British banks employed an old playbook, one that proved effective with the Trump administration: Hire prominent former high-level DOJ officials who were now at major law firms. These attorneys won access to the top echelons of the Trump DOJ, where they found an audience receptive to their arguments that the staff prosecutors were unfairly singling out their clients for excess punishment….

    Much, much more at the link.

  8. says

    This is a real thing Trump really tweeted:

    Kim Jong Un and North Korea tested 3 short range missiles over the last number of days. These missiles tests are not a violation of our signed Singapore agreement, nor was there discussion of short range missiles when we shook hands. There may be a United Nations violation, but..

    …..Chairman Kim does not want to disappoint me with a violation of trust, there is far too much for North Korea to gain – the potential as a Country, under Kim Jong Un’s leadership, is unlimited. Also, there is far too much to lose. I may be wrong, but I believe that……

    ….Chariman Kim has a great and beautiful vision for his country, and only the United States, with me as President, can make that vision come true. He will do the right thing because he is far too smart not to, and he does not want to disappoint his friend, President Trump!

  9. says

    Carole Cadwalladr now has a GoFundMe:

    Please support my investigation into data, disinformation and democracy

    In November 2016, I began reporting on dark money, data and disinformation for a series of articles that have appeared in the Observer, Guardian & New York Times. It’s been a long and difficult road, but last year, our reporting on Cambridge Analytica kicked off a global scandal, Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg was dragged before Congress and multiple legal investigations are still ongoing. And it was just one part of our still on-going investigation into a skein of links between Brexit, Trump and Russia.

    Now though that investigation is being threatened. A businessman who funded Nigel Farage’s Leave.EU campaign – Arron Banks – and who is under investigation by the National Crime Agency, the British equivalent of the FBI, has filed formal proceedings against me. The result is that I will be tied up in litigation for months in a move that press freedom organisations have called an “abuse of law” to “silence a journalist” .

    These tactics cannot win. We desperately need more reporting on this vital subject not less.

    What I need now is more resources to build a team to pursue the investigation with me, to amplify the story and to continue the fight back for democracy. Every penny will be spent supporting journalism that is more necessary than ever.

    Please join me if you can help me to continue to pursue the truth.

    Thank you so much, Carole

  10. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 10

    The two-faced nature of the rank-and-file American conservative never ceases to disgust me. For years, they have been SCREAMING for nothing less than military action against North Korea, portraying any diplomatic approach to be nothing short of complicity with that regime. Now they turn a blind eye from Trump’s Twitter-based fellatio of Kim Jong Un while he tests missiles to threaten our allies and revamps his nuclear weapons program.

    The Dems BETTER remind the voters of these tweets during the election.

  11. says

    The Onion – “CNN Under Fire For Failing To Disclose Pro-Iran War Panelist Actually Raytheon DeepStrike Missile”

    “‘We do not believe that our panelist’s status as a machine of war affected its ability to be impartial about the escalation of tension in Iran—the armament was appearing on our program in its capacity as a pundit, not as a long-range guided weapon’, said CNN president Jeff Zucker, defending the network’s decision to provide air time to the surface-to-surface precision strike missile that was billed only as an ‘expert on U.S.–Iran relations’ during a recent episode of The Don Lemon Show.”

    You must go to the link to see the photo.

  12. says

    Now they turn a blind eye from Trump’s Twitter-based fellatio of Kim Jong Un while he tests missiles to threaten our allies and revamps his nuclear weapons program.

    Give them a break – they’re privately horrified.

  13. says

    Update to #2 from the G – “Johnson ally Lynton Crosby could be called to give evidence to MPs”:

    Sir Lynton Crosby could be called to give evidence to a House of Commons select committee on disinformation after the Guardian revealed how his lobbying company, CTF Partners, was involved in running a propaganda network on Facebook on behalf of foreign states and major corporate clients.

    MPs told the Guardian they would seek to summon representatives of CTF to discuss their role in running a disinformation network that reached tens of millions of people. It comes as trade groups seek to distance themselves from CTF and its activities.

    Select committee member Jo Stevens said she would be looking to summon Crosby himself to give evidence, comparing his company’s tactics to those used by the defunct business Cambridge Analytica.

    “The parallels between the types of work SCL [Cambridge Analytica’s parent company] and Cambridge Analytica did and Lynton Crosby’s CTF are unnerving,” she said. “Crosby appears to be something of an expert in fake news and disinformation so evidence from him would be very helpful to our ongoing inquiry.”

    She added: “The latest revelations also add to the long list of unanswered questions our committee has for Facebook. Yet again, its systems appear to have failed to do what they were supposed to.”

    Fellow committee member Ian Lucas also said he would seek to call representatives of Crosby’s company to give evidence: “I’d be very interested in hearing what they have to say. I will raise this with the select committee when we next meet in September.”…

  14. says

    Al-Monitor – “Cost of doing politics endless harassment for leftist women in Turkey”:

    Do you have a social media account? Do you remember what you posted six or seven years ago? Now imagine a court case where prosecutors are asking for up to 17 years in prison for your tweets from almost a decade ago. Legal and online harassment are expected for any leftist female politician. Offending Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has become the quintessential charge against everyone who dares to express a critical opinion.

    This is the story of a young brave female opposition politician, Dr. Canan Kaftancioglu, provincial chair of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) for Istanbul. The court case that was brought against her is an act of revenge by the patriarchy in Turkey against a strong-willed, independent and successful female politician. When I interviewed Kaftancioglu for the first time in May, she was busy reorganizing the opposition because the CHP’s first Istanbul mayoral victory was annulled. She was focused and hopeful. Kaftancioglu is one of the most important figures behind the CHP’s phenomenal success.

    Erdogan, being the savvy politician he is, must have seen how dangerous Kaftancioglu can be to his 25-year reign in Istanbul before most Turks knew her name.

    “Just 48 hours after I was elected chair,” said Kaftancioglu in our second interview, “an investigation was launched against me.” Kaftancioglu was elected on Jan. 13, 2018. The prosecutors started the investigation on Jan. 15 and Erdogan gave a disparaging speech about her at the parliamentary gathering of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Jan. 16. Erdogan did not utter Kaftancioglu’s name but posted her alleged tweets on a screen, accused her of offending the values of the nation and disrespecting the state and called her election a “total disaster.” In a boastful display of masculinity, Erdogan exclusively addressed CHP chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu and said, “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.” Erdogan spent over 10 minutes reading out each Kaftancioglu tweet and comment as his fellow AKP members booed and chanted slogans.

    Watching the video after reading the case files, one sees Erdogan took Kaftancioglu’s political presence as a personal challenge from day one….

    After Erdogan’s speech the pro-AKP media jumped on the bandwagon as expected and routinely discussed the “Kaftancioglu crisis,” hinting that it would be better for the CHP if she were not an active player. Kaftancioglu said, “The day the prosecutors started the investigation, Erdogan put in a complaint as well. That was immediately added to the case. I was the target of a brutal witch hunt that was built around hollow allegations and lies since the day I was elected.” Tech-savvy activists turned to social media to explain how several tweets and images that seem to taint Kaftancioglu’s reputation had been photoshopped.

    Al-Monitor spoke with a senior member of Kaftancioglu’s legal team, Yaman Akdeniz, a professor of law at Istanbul Bilgi University. He said, “Kaftancioglu is facing five separate charges with regard to 35 tweets going back to 2012 and her prosecution can only be described as a political trial. It is then not a surprise that the criminal investigation was initiated on the day Kaftancıoglu become the Istanbul provincial head and since then, this has become a political persecution with the purpose of restricting or preventing her ability to take part in politics in Turkey.”

    As a legal expert, Akdeniz explained the confusing allegations against Kaftancioglu. He said, “So far as her tweets are concerned, they all include political criticism of the president of Turkey as well as critical speech with regards to certain political developments at the time, including with regards to Gezi. Whether you like them or not, they all are within the limits of freedom of expression and amount to political speech.”

    And here is the main problem with this court case: Political speech, especially coming from a young female politician, is not protected in Turkey. To the contrary, she is labeled extreme and every possible course of action is taken to block her political participation….

    Let’s take a look at some of the themes of Kaftancioglu’s tweets that Erdogan labeled as offensive. They are critical of police brutality during the Gezi protests. She openly mourned for Berkin Elvan, a 14-year-old shot to death during the crackdown. The value of human life: Kaftancioglu argued that the assassination of three women in Paris (one of them PKK founder Sakine Cansiz) was wrong. She spoke about April 24, the day the Armenian Genocide started. In a political system where only praise for the government is expected, Kaftancioglu’s statements are not acceptable. Erdogan and the pro-AKP media relentlessly ask why the CHP leadership does not silence her.

    Kaftancioglu calmly explained, “This is not a legal but a punitive case. This is not a case against me as an individual. It is a case that aims to prosecute those who support human rights, democracy, separation of powers, supremacy of law, freedom of expression and secularism. It is one part of the operation to silence opposition by those who got Turkey into an economic, social and political crisis. Therefore, this is a case where justice is on trial.”

    Not just Kaftancioglu but also here immediate family members have been subjected to media lynching….

    …How many women have been lost to the Turkish political scene even before they dared set foot in it, watching Kaftancioglu’s case? Machismo and misogyny help patriarchal politics continue unchallenged.

  15. says

    Just 7 candidates have qualified for the next debates on ABC


    The qualification deadline is August 28 and candidates have to get 130,000 unique donors AND register at least 2% in four polls”

    Amy Klobuchar has now qualified as well. I hope Castro does, and that’s enough. The debates are September 12 and 13 in Houston. (Are the two nights scheduled just in case, or is one the climate debate? I have no idea.)

  16. says

    darth re #10:

    the fuck is even going on here

    imagine all the fuckin trump apologists stumbling over themselves agreeing that fuckin chairman kim has a great and beautiful vision for fuckin north korea

    I mean, the tweets are insane.

  17. Akira MacKenzie says

    Again, re #10

    You’d think that the MSM would leap at the opportunity to report on Trump’s pro-Kim Tweets.

    So far, silence. Evidently, a U.S. president praising a bloodthirsty, “Communist,” tyrant is now so mundane it’s not worth covering.

    This is the new “normal.”

  18. says

    In the last 24 hours, Trump has said he would cure AIDS, celebrated a Congressman getting burgled, talked about how he could kill 10 million people in Afghanistan if he wanted to, and said that his ‘friend’, a murderous tyrant with nukes, has a ‘beautiful vision’ for his regime.”

  19. says

    It’s been awhile since Trump made derogatory statement about Elizabeth Warren. Now, he’s back at it. Warren’s slow but steady rise in the polls must be worrying Trump.

    He started again yesterday, calling her “Pocahontas” several times. Trump referenced Elizabeth Warren before and during his campaign rally in Cincinnati.

  20. says

    Had to go to David Begnaud on Twitter: “BREAKING: Pedro Pierluisi is going to be sworn in as the next Governor of Puerto Rico, according to the Governors office.”

    He hasn’t yet been confirmed by the Senate.

  21. says

    At Trump’s rally yesterday in Ohio, his audience did not repeat the “send her back” chant in reference to a congresswoman of color, perhaps because Trump did not give them as much of a windup as he did before.

    However, Trump’s audience did chant “lock her up” in reference to Hilary Clinton. At this point, that’s just pathetic.

  22. says

    Trump is rejected …. again.

    India on Friday again rejected President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate its dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir.

    India’s foreign minister said he told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that any discussion of the disputed Himalayan region would be between India and Pakistan only. The two men met on Friday on the sidelines of an Asian security forum in Bangkok. India has long refused outside attempts to resolve the conflict while Pakistan has sought international help.

    Associated Press link

    From Steve Benen:

    […] During a brief Q&A with the White House’s Larry Kudlow last week, a reporter asked, “The president said that he’d been asked by Indian Prime Minister Modi to alleviate between India and Pakistan. India says that’s not even close to true. Did the president just make that up, sir?”

    Kudlow replied, “No, the president doesn’t make anything up.”

    There’s a whole lot of evidence to the contrary.

    Let this serve as a reminder to Trump: if he’s going to describe a conversation that only occurred in his mind, it’s a bad idea to make up quotes from real people who are capable of speaking for themselves. […]

    That reply from Kudlow is LOL-worthy.

  23. says

    More from Trump’s rally yesterday in Cincinnati:

    […] Trump made few new promises during his campaign speech Thursday night in Cincinnati. But two promises resonated with people, judging by interest on the internet: curing pediatric cancer and curing AIDS.

    During the rally at U.S. Bank Arena, he said: “The things we’re doing in our country today, there’s never been anything like it. We will be ending the AIDS epidemic shortly in America, and curing childhood cancer very shortly.”

    USA Today link


    […] I especially liked the use of the word “shortly,” as if these historic medical breakthroughs are imminent, and AIDS and childhood cancer will soon be things of the past.

    […] there’s a difference between a president having a substantive policy agenda and a president having fanciful ideas about amazing things he’d like to see happen. Trump doesn’t have a plan for the United States to reach these aspirational goals; he has a desire to simply see them happen.

    […] hollow declarations at rallies do not a policy agenda make.

    […] Trump’s boasts are not actually true, and breakthroughs like the ones the president described remain on the horizon.

    Indeed, if Trump is serious about “ending the AIDS epidemic shortly,” he probably ought to take a closer look at elements of his administration’s agenda, which are counter-productive to the goal.


    New York Times article for reference: Trump Wants to Eliminate H.I.V. But Some of His Policies Do the Opposite.

  24. says

    Trump remains obsessed with taking Jeff Bezos down simply because Bezo’s owns the Washington Post. In typically trumpian fashion, Hair Furor is going after Amazon as a means to hurt Bezos.

    […] how far is [Trump] prepared to take his animosity? The question came to the fore two weeks ago, when Trump said he was looking “very seriously” at intervening in a multi-billion-dollar cloud-computing contract, hoping to derail Amazon’s bid.

    Asked by reporters about the contract known as JEDI, for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, Mr. Trump said he was “getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and with Amazon.”

    “They’re saying it wasn’t competitively bid,” he said.

    Even at the time, the comments suggested that Trump has no idea what he was saying. There was a competitive bidding process, and no company had secured the contract. Military officials said at the time that a final decision was imminent, possibly coming this week. […]

    Newly appointed U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is reviewing a controversial multi-year cloud-computing contract, a spokesperson said.

    The Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure deal, which could be worth up to $10 billion for services rendered over as many as 10 years, could go to either Amazon or Microsoft. Those two companies are the top players in the market for cloud infrastructure that companies and governments can use to host applications and store data.

    […] Esper’s reexamination is the result of White House instructions and “11th-hour Oval Office intervention.”
    The Post went on to report:

    Oracle has lobbied Trump aggressively on the matter, hoping to appeal to his animosity toward Amazon […] Oracle Executive Vice President Ken Glueck said he created a colorful flow chart labeled “A Conspiracy To Create A Ten Year DoD Cloud Monopoly” that portrayed connections among Amazon executives, Mattis and officials from the Obama administration.

    If there’s one thing everyone has learned, it’s how to manipulate Trump effectively.

    […] this isn’t how the federal contracting process is supposed to work […]

    And yet, here we are.

    For the record, Esper, the newly confirmed Pentagon chief, has agreed to review the contract […]

    I guess we’ll find out fairly soon what kind of Defense secretary Esper is going to be.


  25. says


    From yesterday:

    Q: Do you have a message for Poland on the anniversary of Warsaw Uprising, which is today?

    TRUMP: Well, I have a lot of respect for Poland. And, as you know, the people of Poland like me, and I like them. And I’m going to be going to Poland fairly soon.

    Right. Trump has no fucking clue when it comes to the Warsaw Uprising.

    Also, he lied about people in Poland liking him.

    […] Last fall, the Pew Research Center published its latest report on global attitudes, which found the United States’ international standing suffering badly following Trump’s rise to power. […]

    This is true of, among other countries, Poland. Towards the end of George W. Bush’s presidency, the percentage of people in Poland who said they have “a lot” or “some” confidence in the U.S. president dropped to just 29%. During Barack Obama’s presidency, the number grew considerably, reaching a peak of 64% in 2015.

    And then Donald Trump took office. The number plummeted to 23% in the Republican’s first year in office, and while it improved to 35% in 2018, that’s still far below any year of the Obama era.

    The same research found that most people in Poland have “no confidence” that Trump can be counted on to do the right thing regarding world affairs.

    All of which brings us back to Trump’s assertions from yesterday: “[A]s you know, the people of Poland like me.”

    Actually, we don’t know that, and there’s some pretty compelling evidence pointing in the opposite direction.


  26. says

    Before Trump criticized the urban poverty he uses to attack Democrats, he profited from it.

    The president’s transparently dishonest attacks on cities conveniently erase the role played by greedy, cheating developers like himself.

    Think Progress link to an article by Alan Pyke.


    […] Trump’s caricatured version of city life is especially cynical given the fact that he’s mounted a considerable effort during his time in office to cause the very dereliction for which he blames others. He’s proposed eliminating the main federal grant program that cities use to build new public resources and refurbish old ones. He’s repeatedly plotted to evict millions of the most vulnerable people from their existing housing. He’s asked for roughly a trillion dollars in cuts to health care programs for the poor and elderly.

    And when his budget cuts have been largely stymied by congressional Democrats, Trump has slipped punishing austerity in through the side door. His agencies are using their regulatory authority to kick millions of working people off of food stamps for daring to save a bit of money, to kick millions of other citizens off Medicaid for the crime of being unable to find work, and to rip down safeguards that protect them from the greed of developers. Where he’s been unable to punish inner-city communities by shutting off the funding faucet, he has introduced new barriers in the form of paperwork and bureaucracy. […]

    The president made his wealth on business practices that hollow out urban cores, exacerbate inequality, push low-income residents out, and relocate social problems rather than ameliorate them. Trump’s habitual exaggeration of the crime, drug, and public health challenges facing various cities notwithstanding, to the extent that cities do have such problems they are the byproduct of the shameless wealth-hoarding behavior of developers like him.

    Economists have a fancy term for the bad things a business venture causes for others during their pursuit of profit: “negative externalities.” The civic struggles Trump is now lambasting for political gain are in fact negative externalities to the rich fancy-lad class of goons from which he sprung. Trump’s celebrity and wealth were built on depriving cities of the resources they need for sustained success, in both raw economic terms and at the less tangible level of social fabric. […]

  27. says

    “Can the president of Brazil jail the Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald for publishing leaks?”:

    On June 9, the Intercept began publishing a series of investigative stories that sent shocks through Brazil. The pieces appeared to supply evidence that Sergio Moro, Brazil’s Justice Minister and the former top judge in a major corruption investigation, colluded with federal prosecutors to convict prominent political figures—among them, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who had been leading 2018 election polls and was rendered ineligible to run. Drawing from private chats leaked to Glenn Greenwald—the Intercept’s founder, who lives in Rio—the reports tarnished Moro, once the face of an anti-corruption platform that helped boost President Jair Bolsonaro, a right-wing firebrand, into office. Greenwald now faces threats of jail time, in what has become Brazil’s first big test of the legal freedom to publish leaks.

    And there is more to come, Greenwald says. The material feeding the Intercept’s pieces—which focus on a scandal involving Operação Lava Jato (“Operation Car Wash”), the country’s largest-ever probe into bribery and corruption (so-called because it uncovered that a car wash chain was used to launder money)—may be “the largest trove of leaked documents in the history of journalism and media,” he tells CJR. Bigger, according to Greenwald, than the pile provided to him by Edward Snowden, a leak that resulted in breathtaking revelations about the US National Security Agency and won Greenwald a Pulitzer Prize.

    Soon after the first Car Wash piece was published, Brazilian federal prosecutors released a statement accusing the Intercept of disseminating “biased content” and taking “advantage of the hacker’s action to misrepresent facts” to serve “the interests of criminals hit by Lava Jato,” which they called a “sordid performance” and “fake news.” On Twitter, Moro took a decisive step further, referring to the Intercept as “the site allied with criminal hackers.”

    From the start, Greenwald said that he did not know the identity of the source who leaked the chats, and that he decided to report on them because they were in the public interest. Leandro Demori, the Intercept Brazil’s executive editor, tells CJR that their team worked for three weeks fact-checking the material and verifying that it had not been adulterated, comparing the language with copies of private chats provided by other sources and journalists, inside and outside the Intercept, who had exchanged messages with Car Wash prosecutors included in the leaks. The Intercept’s checkers also reviewed legal proceedings and original documents mentioned in the chats. “They all matched,” Demori says.

    In addition, the Intercept gave the leaks to other news outlets—Folha de S. Paulo, Brazil’s largest newspaper, and Veja, a conservative magazine—which assigned their own staffs to dig into the message archives. “All communications are true—word by word,” Veja stated in an editorial. The Intercept later sent copies of some of the chats to El País Brazil for its own fact-checking purposes. From an independent source, El País obtained original transcripts of some of the chats and compared them to the documents leaked to the Intercept. “They are identical,” El País declared in its Portuguese edition.

    But due diligence did not insulate Greenwald from the government’s fury. On July 11, he was called to testify before a congressional committee; he faced attacks, mainly from members of President Bolsonaro’s party, who demanded he reveal his source….

    Throught July, the Brazilian internet was hijacked by conspiracy theories involving hackers, defamatory claims of “fake news,” and homophobic and xenophobic insults against Greenwald, who is a gay American married to a Brazilian citizen. Hashtags like #DeportGlennGreenwald were trending on Twitter. An online petition calling for his banishment from the country received nearly 100,000 signatures. “Get out of Brazil, you are disgusting,” read a banner held during a demonstration in support of Moro. Death threats mounted against Greenwald, his family, and the Intercept’s staff.

    O Antagonista, a right-wing news site, reported that federal police, now under Moro’s command, were investigating Greenwald’s finances (an allegation that officials later denied). Finally, President Bolsonaro joined the crowd of dissenters. For weeks, he repeatedly assailed Greenwald, saying that he believed the Intercept had committed a crime. On July 27, the president told journalists in Rio that Greenwald could “do time” in Brazil.

    Bolsonaro’s threat was menacing, though it had no legal basis. In Brazil, as in the United States, the constitution protects expression from government interference and prohibits Congress from writing any laws that hinder press freedom. In 2009, the Supreme Court revoked a dictatorship-era press law that imposed severe restrictions and penalties on journalists, including imprisonment. In a milestone ruling, the Court recognized the freedom of expression, including the right of journalists to publish information of public concern regardless of its origin. “The ruling also reinforced citizens’ right to information, and it has guided the following decisions of the Supreme Court and lower courts,” Taís Gasparian, a Brazilian media attorney and a contributor to Columbia’s Global Freedom of Expression initiative, says. (Among her clients is Folha de S. Paulo, one of the papers that partnered with the Intercept to publish information from the Car Wash leaks.)

    By the end of July, Brazilian authorities announced that federal police had arrested four people for allegedly hacking 1,000 cell phones belonging to various government officials. In testimony leaked to GloboNews TV, one of the suspects confessed to having sent the chats to Greenwald as an anonymous source who sought no compensation; the suspect claimed to have been motivated by Greenwald’s past coverage of Snowden’s NSA leaks. The suspect also named a former congresswoman, Manuela D’Ávila, who was a 2018 vice presidential candidate in Brazil, as the person who provided Greenwald’s contact information. In a note to the press, she confirmed this, but said that she didn’t know who the hacker was—he’d contacted her anonymously. The revelations fueled a new wave of attacks against Greenwald.

    More than two dozen organizations around the world have condemned the Bolsanaro administration’s threats against Greenwald and the Intercept, lining up behind a Reporters Without Borders call for press freedom in Brazil. The Washington Post’s executive editor Martin Baron and the Guardian’s editor-in-chief Katharine Viner joined the choir….

    Good article, if a bit too indulgent of Greenwald’s characterization of his role in US politics.

    Also, as I’ve pointed to here earlier, the first articles in the Intercept state clearly that the materials have been given to several outlets, including some outside Brazil, so they can’t stop it by arresting Greenwald. Nor can they use him as a hostage to keep others from publishing, since he’s made his wishes very clear. (I say this not to discount how terrible this is for him and the others involved in Brazil, but to call attention to how this harassment is being used to punish and terrorize and not for any specific strategic purpose concerning the information.)

    (Also, why does the URL contain “soccer”?)

    (Also, I wonder if Sir Lynton Crosby’s firm was involved…)

  28. says


    @DemSocialists will not endorse another 2020 Dem candidate (cough Warren cough) if Sanders loses the primary. By no means a unanimous decision. One delegate opposing rez said, “Trump is too dangerous to take cards off the table right now.” He lost the argument. #dsacon2019

    FWIW, my snap straw poll of about 20 ppl here broke for Warren over Trump 100% to 0% w no abstentions. It was divided on whether DSA chapters should or would canvass for someone other than Sanders.

    Note: @TheDuhalde – formerly (sorry) of @OurRevolution – spoke AGAINST the resolution: “There are incredibly real stakes and we don’t know those stakes right now..I want to respect my swing state comrades. Trump is just too dangerous for us to take cards off the table right now.”

  29. blf says

    Update on the story of the innocent Medhanie Berhe, who the Italians put on trial for being a notorious people-smuggler, despite a considerable amount of evidence and testimony they had the wrong person. The judge ruled he was the wrong man, and ordered he be released. Instead, the innocent Mr Berhe was taken to a detention center to be deported.

    Good News! He has been given asylum and is now really free, Italy grants asylum to Eritrean man mistaken for years for trafficker:

    Last month a judge in Palermo acquitted Medhanie Tesfamariam Berhe of being a human trafficking kingpin, confirming he was the victim of mistaken identity when he was arrested more than three years ago in a joint operation by Italian and British authorities.

    After the verdict he was moved to a deportation centre in Caltanissetta, Sicily, awaiting removal from the country. But on Friday a panel of judges from the refugee commission in Syracuse accepted Berhe’s request for asylum, meaning he is free to remain in Italy.

    “I can’t describe how happy I am,” Berhe […] told the Guardian outside the expulsion centre. “It was a nightmare. A nightmare which lasted too long.”


    Berhe’s laywer, Michele Calantropo, told the Guardian: “After the verdict I rushed to the prison alongside Berhe’s sister only to find out that they moved him to an expulsions centre for migrants. We had filed an official request for asylum. It wasn’t fair to move him there.”

    “Medhanie’s judicial persecution has finally ended in the best way possible: with a refugee status to which he is fully entitled,” said Riccardo Noury, Amnesty International’s Italy spokesman. “I shudder to think where he would be now if the judicial error against him had not been exposed.”

    Relatives have asked that Berhe be awarded damages for his wrongful detention and called for an investigation to be opened into why Sicily’s top prosecutors pursued the case.

    “Berhe is free but this story won’t be over until they clear his name,” said Calantropo.

  30. says

    From text quoted by SC in comment 45:

    @DemSocialists will not endorse another 2020 Dem candidate (cough Warren cough) if Sanders loses the primary.


    That’s dangerous.

  31. says

    More people who actually live and work in Baltimore are pushing back against Trump’s comments. The Baltimore Sun editorial board picked up on that pushback earlier, and now they are doing so again.

    […] During a rally in Cincinnati Thursday night, Trump compared the murder rate in Baltimore to that in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, then asked the crowd to shout out other examples.

    “I believe it’s higher than– Give me a place that you think is pretty bad,” Trump goaded his audience. “This guy says Afghanistan. I believe it’s higher than Afghanistan. In our country, think of that.”

    “This,” the Friday Sun editorial read, “is the behavior of a jerk, a clod, a dolt, a schmuck.”

    Trump, predictably, blamed Democrats on Thursday for the homicides. It was the latest in a string of attacks aimed at Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), one of the President’s top congressional antagonists, that used the city as ammunition.

    “This is someone who argues both sides, none of it sincerely, none of it truthfully,” the Sun’s editorial board wrote of Trump. “One moment it’s a lack of federal spending, the next moment he says all that is wasted. Or maybe it’s up to Elijah Cummings, one of 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, to save Baltimore. What, with a resolution on the House floor? President Trump doesn’t mean a word of it. He’s just lashing out. It’s all a performance. It’s all a show.” […]


  32. says

    A Teen Scientist Figured out How to Suck Microplastics from the Ocean. There May Be Hope for Humanity.

    […] Fionn Ferreira, an 18-year-old from Ireland, took home the top prize—which includes, in addition to a lifetime of bragging rights, a $50,000 educational scholarship—at the Google Science Fair for his project on microplastic pollution.

    Microplastics are plastic fragments less than 5 millimeters in size and they pose serious environmental and a public health risks. They are ubiquitous, having contaminated the most remote places of the world, including France’s Pyrenees mountains and the bottom of the Mariana Trench; they can be found in tap water and inside marine mammals and fish. While it’s not yet clear how microplastics affect human health, it’s safe to say they are of great concern to scientists.

    Enter Ferreira, who speaks three languages, plays the trumpet, and has a dwarf planet named after him. Living near the water in West Cork, he was inspired to study microplastics after becoming “increasingly aware” of plastic ocean pollution. “I was alarmed to find out how many microplastics enter our wastewater system and consequently the oceans,” he writes in his project’s research paper. “This inspired me to try and find out a way to try and remove microplastics from waters before they even reached the sea.” […]

    Of all areas of research to choose from, why did you choose to focus on microplastics?

    I think microplastics are a huge problem here and all over the world. Microplastics not only are a huge threat to nature, but also a huge threat to ourselves. They bioaccumulate in us: If we eat fish containing microplastic, they may cause us harm and are linked to cancer.

    So once you recognized the problem, how did you go about trying to solve it?

    I found a method using ferrofluid with non-toxic iron oxide powder to remove microplastics from water. I think ferrofluid is one of the coolest liquids in the world. It’s a magnetic liquid. It makes really cool shapes when you bring magnets close to it. Currently, there’s no method to remove microplastics from water. So I kind of thought my project was unique. […]

    You made a great video of the extraction process. Can you explain what’s going on in it?

    Essentially, what’s happening is that I’ve got some water containing microplastics. I add oil and magnetite powder. These form a ferrofluid, and then plastics are attracted by this. All I need to do is bring a magnet close to it and it will remove both the plastic and ferrofluids.

    What did your parents think about you doing all this research at home?

    I’m not really sure. I did take apart our washing machine [to collect microplastics] a couple of times. And, you know, things caught fire. I don’t know if they were too happy. They made me hot chocolates too, so there were definitely pros to it.

    It also meant that for this project, I had to build all of my own equipment, from building a spectrometer to a microscope. And in addition to building it, I then had to use it for testing. So I think there were pros and cons. One of the pros was, I could [work on the project] whenever. Because I live about 200 kilometers [124 miles] away from the nearest lab, at home was the only place I could do it. […]

    Yay! Good news.

  33. says

    An elite D.C. girls’ school thought its founding nuns taught slaves to read. Instead, they sold them off for as much as they could.

    Washington Post link

    The cash-strapped nuns were desperate to sell their slaves.

    It was the 1820s, and debt was piling up for Mother Agnes Brent, superior of the Georgetown Visitation Convent in Washington. The convent had broken ground on a new chapel, with stunningly poor timing — a few months after the country slumped into an economic collapse spurred by the Panic of 1819.

    To fully fund the chapel’s construction, Brent needed money. Fast. Then came an unexpected boon: Relatives of two sisters had four spare slaves, two adults and two children, and offered them as a “gift” to Georgetown Visitation.

    Still, Brent wanted to know: Did the mother have to come along with the children? And if she did, would the relatives please pay for her costlier room and board until she was sold?

    “If they are so young that they cannot be separated from the mother & the mother be given also, then we would have to request you to get a place for them, free of expense,” Brent wrote in a letter.

    Missives like these, documented in a report compiled by a school archivist and historian, have shattered the long-cherished image of the three nuns who founded Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School in 1799. The research has plunged the prestigious D.C. private high school, one of the oldest Roman Catholic girls educational institutions in the nation, into a year-long reckoning with a past that was far more entangled with the nation’s slave trade than students and staff had ever suspected. […]

    Georgetown Visitation sisters owned at least 107 enslaved people, including men, women and children, from a year after its founding until 1862, […]

    Susan Nalezyty, a Georgetown University historian who serves as school archivist, said she found no evidence that the sisters at Visitation had ever held school for their slaves or taught them to read. Nalezyty, who was not available for an interview, wrote that the convent was instead “deeply typical of its time and place,” meaning the sisters bought and sold human beings with impunity. […]

  34. tomh says

    From NYT:
    Abortion Pills Should Be Everywhere
    I bought them online. They’re easy to get, and they’ll change everything.

    By Farhad Manjoo
    Opinion Columnist
    Aug. 3, 2019

    One afternoon about a year ago, just as the Senate began considering Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, I logged on to Day Night Healthcare, an online pharmacy based in India, and ordered a pack of abortion pills. A few hours later, I got a call from a Day Night customer-service agent with a warning. If my credit-card company called to ask about the purchase, “tell them you approve the charge, but don’t say what it’s for,” the man advised. “If they ask, say it’s gym equipment, or something like that.”

    In fact, the bank never called, and in a week and a half, a small brown envelope — bearing a postmark not from India but from New Jersey — arrived in the mail. Inside was a foil blister pack stamped with a manufacturer’s logo, dosage information and batch-identification numbers. It contained five pills. One was a 200-milligram dose of mifepristone, better known by its code name during its development in the 1980s, RU-486. The four others were 200 micrograms each of misoprostol, a drug used widely in obstetrics and gynecology, including to induce contractions.

    The pills looked unremarkable; tiny, white, round, they did not betray what some abortion-rights advocates say are their epic possibilities. Mifepristone was approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration nearly 20 years ago. Used in combination with misoprostol for pregnancies of up to 10 weeks, the pills are more than 97 percent effective.

    The drugs, which have been used by tens of millions of women around the world, are also some of the safest known to modern medicine — mifepristone has accumulated a record of adverse complications lower than that of Tylenol, Flonase, Xanax and Viagra. In 2017, Canadian regulators lifted most restrictions on the drug, allowing it to be prescribed by any doctor, without requiring an ultrasound, and dispensed in any pharmacy.

    But in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has imposed severe limits on mifepristone’s distribution. It can be prescribed only by doctors who meet certain qualifications, and can be dispensed only in clinics licensed to provide abortions, not retail pharmacies.

    Yet thanks to the digital handiwork of an emerging faction within the global reproductive-rights movement, restrictions on abortion pills are becoming increasingly difficult to enforce. Despite the F.D.A.’s restrictions, activists have created a robust online market that makes getting pills surprisingly easy. There are “report cards” on where to find tested drugs, detailed guides on how to use them safely, a help line for consulting with legal experts, and dozens of discussion boards and support groups helping women navigate the fraught decision of whether and how to terminate a pregnancy.

    Amid growing restrictions on clinic-based abortions, the online pill market functions as a haven of last resort for desperate women. “The women who come to us don’t have any other alternatives,” said Rebecca Gomperts, a Dutch physician and founder of Aid Access, which offers abortion pills online for about $90, with discounts for patients in financial straits. “They don’t have funds, or they are six hours away from the clinic, or they don’t have transport, they have small kids, they live in cars, there are situations of domestic violence — it’s just really bad situations.” In 2018, Gomperts prescribed the drug online to 2,581 patients.

    But the pills aren’t just a way to evade today’s restrictions on abortion. Some activists argue that they can also remake tomorrow’s politics surrounding abortion — that the very presence of the underground market could force the authorities to loosen restrictions on abortion pills, eventually paving the way for an alternative vision for terminating a pregnancy in the United States: the inexpensive, safe, very early, private, at-home, picket-line-free, self-managed medical abortion.

    “Did you feel a little rush when your pills arrived?” Elisa Wells, a director of the pill-advocacy group Plan C, asked me during a recent phone call. “It’s like, wow — it’s amazing that this really works.”

    She’s right: I did feel a little rush when I got my first pills. I’d expected the whole thing to be onerous. And so, probing for hidden difficulties, I tried again, and again.

    In the last year, I’ve ordered abortion pills from four different online pharmacies. The process was sometimes sketchy. There were poorly translated websites and customer-service reps messaging me over Skype with the greeting “yo.” I declined to pursue one order because the site asked me to wire money to a random address in India. After I filled out its consultation form, Aid Access sent me an email asking me if I really am pregnant, as I have a man’s name and “the woman must confirm” that she is ordering the drugs of her own accord; since I’m a man and not pregnant, I didn’t place the order.

    But most of my orders came through fine. Each of the three pill packages I got cost me between $200 and $300, including expedited shipping. (The average cost of an abortion in the United States is about $500.)

    I spent months looking for a lab that would test my pills; many waved me off, wary of controversy. Finally, I got in touch with Alan Wu, chief of the clinical chemistry laboratory at San Francisco General Hospital, whose lab tested a couple of my mifepristone tablets. The finding: They were authentic. I wasn’t surprised; in a more comprehensive study conducted by Gynuity Health and Plan C, published last year in the journal Contraception, researchers in four states ordered abortion pills from 16 different online pharmacies, and found they were all just what they said they were.

    Each time I got a pack of pills in the mail, I was increasingly bowled over: If this is so easy, how will they ever stop this? I’ve been watching digital markets for 20 years, and I’ve learned to spot a simple, powerful dynamic: When something that is difficult to get offline becomes easy to get online, big changes are afoot.

    Which is not to say that everyone is on board with the online market for pills. While there’s a growing consensus in the American medical establishment that restrictions on abortion drugs no longer make medical sense, I spoke to several abortion-rights advocates who worried about a parade of horrors that might swamp the movement if the underground online pill market were left to grow unfettered: women getting fake pills, getting ripped off, getting ill, getting slipped pills by men or getting prosecuted.

    The activists building the online pill network acknowledge that there are potential dangers in the market — but they insist that the risks are far smaller than many guess. In a study of more than 1,000 Irish women who obtained pills from Women on Web, a pill-dispensing group Gomperts created in 2005, fewer than 1 percent reported adverse effects requiring further medical attention. “Providing abortions this way is as safe as a clinic-based abortion,” Gomperts told me.

    For providers and users, legal risk is also relatively low. Regulators have little capacity to enforce restrictions on foreign distributors. In March, the F.D.A. sent a letter to Aid Access demanding that it cease operations immediately. The organization sent a letter back saying, essentially, nope. What happens next is anybody’s guess.

    Since 2000, at least 21 people have been arrested in the United States for ending a pregnancy or helping someone do so using pills, according to If/When/How, an organization that provides legal assistance to women who self-manage their abortions. That’s a tiny fraction of the tens of thousands estimated to have purchased pills online in that time.

    For some activists, the specter of stepped-up prosecutions against women who buy abortion drugs is closer to a political gift than a cudgel. “The more we do this, and the more they go after women, the more we show how great the risks are, and how badly women are being treated,” Gomperts said.

    And the prosecutions might only highlight the compelling evidence that increasing legal access to medical abortion — that is, abortion-by-pill rather than surgically — will allow women to have abortions much earlier in pregnancy, which is far more culturally and politically palatable in the United States.

    Daniel Grossman, a professor of gynecology and obstetrics at the University of California, San Francisco, studied the effects of a program in Iowa that allowed women to get abortion pills after consulting with a doctor by video conference. The method proved extremely safe.

    What’s more, wider access to abortion pills did not increase Iowa’s overall abortion rate — indeed the rate declined, most likely because of a state program that improved access to contraceptives. But the type of abortions shifted: More women had first-trimester abortions, and fewer women had second-trimester abortions. Grossman is working on several other clinical studies focused on the pill, and he says he believes the weight of the evidence will soon become irrefutable.

    The pill isn’t hard to get now, and it will only get easier.

    “It’s just a matter of time,” Grossman told me.

  35. says

    There’s been a(nother) mass shooting, this time at a Walmart on the US-Mexico border in El Paso. At least 19 people are dead and 40 wounded. The murderer appears to be another anti-immigrant, racist extremist who posted a screed on 8ch*n.

  36. says

    There was another mass shooting during the night, in Dayton, OH. Nine people are dead, and at least 26 are injured. The shooter is dead.

    The number of dead in El Paso now stands at 20.

  37. says

    Beto O’Rourke: “President Trump’s racism does not just offend our sensibilities; it fundamentally changes the character of this country. And it leads to violence.”

    In the past few days, Trump retweeted Katie Hopkins twice (one in which she referred to Sadiq Khan as “the nipple-height Mayor of Londonistan”), and tweeted a clip from a CNBC (!) interview with white nationalist Steve Bannon: “Nice to see that one of my best pupils is still a giant Trump fan. Steve joined me after I won the primaries, but I loved working with him!”

  38. says

    July 28
    Gilroy: 3 dead, 12 injured

    August 3
    El Paso: 20 dead, 26 injured

    August 4
    Dayton: 9 dead, 16 injured

    If there were 3 ISIS-inspired attacks killing 32 and injuring 54 across 3 states in one week CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE the policy options we would be discussing right now.”

  39. blf says

    tomh@54, “Regulators have little capacity to enforce restrictions on foreign distributors. In March, the FDA sent a letter to Aid Access demanding that it cease operations immediately. The organization sent a letter back saying, essentially, nope.” I hope, I really hope, Aid Access did a Arkell v. Pressdram:

    Dear Sirs,

    We acknowledge your letter of 29th April referring to Mr J Arkell.

    We note that Mr Arkell’s attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of our reply and would therefore be grateful if you would inform us what his attitude to damages would be, were he to learn that the nature of our reply is as follows: fuck off.

    Private Eye

  40. blf says

    From memory, the suspension of the ban was noted in this series of threads, Malawi reinstates ban on plastic bags as campaigners hail ‘fantastic victory’:

    Malawi’s highest court has imposed a ban on plastic bags, a huge milestone for the government and environmental charities who beat off challenges from some of the country’s big manufacturers.

    The government imposed the ban on thin plastic bags in 2015, but the move was overturned by the high court after a number of plastic manufacturers who operate in the southern-east African nation obtained an injunction, citing an infringement of business rights.


  41. blf says

    Mashrou’ Leila concert cancelled after ‘homophobic’ pressure from Christian groups (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    A concert by one of the Middle East’s most popular bands, Mashrou’ Leila, whose frontman is openly gay, has been cancelled following pressure from Christian groups.

    The Lebanese quartet were due to play Byblos international festival on 9 August, but the set has been cancelled to prevent bloodshed and preserve security[] according to the organisers, after critics of the band on social media threatened to attack the concert.

    The office of the town’s archbishop had published a statement that said the group undermine religious and human values {and} attack sacred symbols of Christianity, while the country’s Catholic Information Centre called them a danger to society.

    Human rights organisations have condemned the decision, and the wider campaign against the group. Lama Fakih, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said: “The cancellation of Mashrou’ Leila’s concert reflects the government’s increased reliance on overbroad and abusive laws to stifle and censor activists, journalists, and artists.”

    An earlier statement from Amnesty read: “It is unconscionable that there continue to be such calls emanating from institutions that are meant to serve as role models to their constituencies, and can and should be upholding the right to freedom of expression and protection of vulnerable groups, instead of enabling hate speech, including homophobia.”


      † This rationale from the organisers is put in eejit quotes, as Amnesty’s reasoning applies to them as much as it does to the bigots (albeit the statement was presumably aimed mostly at the bigots at the time it was issued).

  42. blf says

    In the NKofE, New trade minister Liz Truss had private talks in US with libertarian groups:

    The cabinet minister in charge of negotiating a new US trade deal met with a series of rightwing American thinktanks to discuss deregulation and the benefits of “Reaganomics”, new documents have revealed.

    Liz Truss, the international trade secretary, had a number of meetings with libertarian groups […]

    New details of her three-day visit to Washington last September have been uncovered by Greenpeace’s investigative journalism team, Unearthed. Truss met senior representatives from the Heritage Foundation, a thinktank committed to shrinking the state and cutting environmental regulation, to discuss regulatory reform. Also at the meeting was the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Both groups were part of the “shadow trade talks” project, designed to advocate a wide-ranging US trade deal allowing the import of American goods currently banned in Britain.

    One briefing note reveals that Truss was keen to hear “what we can learn from ‘Reaganomics’ on things like regulation and red tape”. Truss also planned to tell the Heritage Foundation that she is “committed to”, and “personally interested in”, exploring similar reforms in the UK. “Reaganomics” is shorthand for the policies of the former Republican US president Ronald Reagan, based on tax cuts and deregulation [sic].


    John Sauven, Greenpeace’s executive director, said: “There are widespread concerns that Brexit will be used to weaken our safeguards on food safety and animal welfare, opening the floodgates to products such as chlorinated chicken and hormone-treated beef. These concerns will only grow at the discovery that the minister in charge of forging a trade deal with the US flew to a libertarian boot camp run by Donald Trump’s buddies to be lectured about the supposed benefits of ditching regulations.”


    Truss also met the chief economist of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which involved a discussion of the success of Trump’s efforts to deregulate the US economy. ALEC has lobbied against action on climate change, with companies including Shell, BP and ExxonMobil quitting involvement in it as a result. […]

    Whilst that’s not a complete list of the most unethical, unreliable, anti-science, war criminals operating in the States, it is a rather “impressive” roll-call.

  43. blf says

    Conceal the burn: Zimbabwe is withholding official inflation data:

    Amid massive spikes in prices and budget austerity measures, Harare delays publication of official numbers until 2020.

    The statistics agency in Zimbabwe will not publish annualised inflation numbers until February of next year, to enable the government to collect more data comparing price information on a like-for-like basis, a top official said amid rising unrest over skyrocketing costs and goods shortages.

    In a televised midterm fiscal policy review on Thursday, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said that Zimstat, the nation’s statistical body, will release the numbers in 2020 because prices are no longer measured in United States dollars, making the figures incompatible.

    Zimbabwe in June outlawed the use of foreign currencies in domestic transactions, and made the new Zimbabwe dollar — also called the “zollar” or “Zimdollar” — the sole legal tender in the country.


    While the minister’s decision may make sense from a technical point of view, to ordinary Zimbabweans the move was merely an attempt to conceal what is likely to be a massive jump in prices over the next six months.

    The troubled Southern African country adopted the US dollar in 2009 after hyperinflation decimated the value of the original Zimbabwean dollar, which was demonetised in 2015.

    Annualised inflation in Zimbabwe surged to 175.66 percent in June, up from 97.85 percent in May.


    This is not the first time Ncube has rebased an inflation formula since taking office a year ago.

    But if Zimstat had not changed its formula for measuring the consumer price index, the June reading — based on the old formula — would have landed the country in hyperinflation territory.

    Additionally, the Southern African nation revised the basic data for its economy data last October, boosting its size by 40 percent to $25.8bn. This process — known as “rebasing” GDP — alters the methodology for calculating gross domestic product […]

    Zimbabwe insisted again in May on a second rebasing after the adoption of the new currency in February.


    The article doesn’t give the estimated June hyperinflation rate (using the old formula). The last time, before switching to USD, the hyperinflation reached an estimated “79.6 billion percent month-on-month” (my emphasis), according to Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge (which, from memory, is the highest hyperinflation rate ever known). The current rate, whatever it is, is obviously nowheres near that, but shenanigans (even with a technical justification, however valid / weak) are quite unlikely to be of any help.

  44. says

    bellingcat – “The El Paso Shooting and the Gamification of Terror”:

    …In the wake of the Christchurch shooting I published my first Bellingcat article about 8chan. I was interviewed by numerous media agencies about the website, and I warned all of them that additional attacks would follow – every month or two – until something was done. This prediction has proven accurate. Until law enforcement, and the media, treat these shooters as part of a terrorist movement no less organized, or deadly, than ISIS or Al Qaeda, the violence will continue. There will be more killers, more gleeful celebration of body counts on 8chan, and more bloody attempts to beat the last killer’s “high score”.

  45. blf says

    Cypriot bishop faces hate speech inquiry over homophobic remarks (the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    Greek Orthodox cleric claimed gay men recognisable from particular odour


    At the request of the island’s attorney general, police will examine whether the Greek Orthodox cleric Neophytos, who only uses one name, violated hate speech laws after he claimed that homosexuality could be passed on when pregnant women had anal sex.

    It is, they say, a problem that is usually transferred to the child from the parents,” the bishop of Morphou said in one of a series of talks billed as “spiritual meetings of dialogue. And, they say, it happens … when the parents {indulge} in erotic acts that are unnatural.

    I presume the mysterious “they” supposedly claiming such things are the voices in his head.

    “We want to see him recant and we want to see him defrocked,” said Zacharias Theophanous, a software engineer who has said he will run for Nicosia mayor in 2021. “The church is very powerful in this country and its views often have a traumatising effect on young people struggling to find their way.”


    “We hear all the time of people being subjected to conversion therapies in villages and cities,” said Theophanous. “There are priests who will tell gay men they can be straight if, for example, they undergo hormone therapy or take Viagra or pray enough.”


    Cyprus was among the last EU member states to decriminalise homosexuality, doing so in 1998 under pressure from Brussels as it prepared to join the bloc. In the four years since legislation came into force outlawing hate speech, there have been no legal proceedings in response to homophobic and transphobic comments.

    Costas Gavrielides, who advises the president, Nicos Anastasiades, on issues of acceptance and diversity, said the bishop’s remarks not only had no scientific basis but amounted to “artificial arguments” that fostered homophobic hatred “while insulting the parents of gay people and especially targeting their mothers”.

    […] When asked by the Cyprus Mail why he had make the comments he said: I expressed the position of the church and the position of the saints.

  46. says

    Julián Castro talks to Joy Reid about the El Paso and Dayton shootings.


    From Representative Tim Ryan, (Joy Reid also interview him)

    We’ve crossed a threshold where white nationalists are killing Americans in acts of terror.

    Mehdi Hasan talks with Joy Reid about mass shootings, and about the fact that several points in the El Paso shooter’s online screed “were ripped straight from Donald Trump’s twitter thread.”

  47. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    I understand and respect those who say we shouldn’t publish these mass murderers’ names and report their manifestos. […] But this impulse, while well-meaning, is actually dangerous and misguided.

    We don’t make ourselves safer by collectively agreeing to delude ourselves about what is happening. These far-right, white supremacist massacres constitute the violent, militarized version of an ideology we can hear every night on Fox News and other right wing media outlets. Indeed, we can hear it routinely, in some of its most intense and inflammatory versions, from the President of the United States.

    The basic terms are familiar: immigrants (focused on Muslims and Mexicans and others from Latin America) are invading our country and replacing white Americans through their high birth rates. They bring an alien culture, crime, violence, etc. Their invasion is being abetted by elites (often Jews) who are themselves betraying America. The tide can only be turned by individual, radical, violent action. The rubric they use is ‘The Great Replacement’, […]

    In civic terms, the most basic importance of the news is to provide information for civic action. We quite obviously need to know just what motivates these massacres, that they are driven by an ideology that is pervasive and advanced by those in power, that there are specific websites and online communities (4chan, 8chan) where these young men are radicalized.

  48. says

    From Senator Kamala Harris:

    When we’re talking about domestic terrorism, we also have to recognize that, under this administration, they have not been putting the resources into investigating and dealing with these cases as they are, what they are, which is, to your point, domestic terrorism.

    And so there also has to be some accountability by this administration to take these cases seriously and call them what they are.

    We have a current President of the United States who does not understand the responsibility that comes with the office, which is to be a leader on every level, including encouraging, challenging us to be our best selves.

    Instead, we have an occupant in the White House in Donald Trump who completely and continuously goes to the lowest common denominator. So, yes, I believe there’s consequence to his words.

    Quotes above are extracted from an interview on CNN.

  49. says

    From Mayor Pete Buttigieg:

    It is very clear that the loss of American life … is symptomatic of the effects of white nationalist terrorism. There’s no question white nationalism is condoned at the highest levels of our government.

    Right now, you see it being echoed by the White House.

    […] we can’t keep pretending this is just random or that this is something we can’t confront.

  50. says

    From Beto O’Rourke:

    There is no luxury in this democracy of sitting this one out, whether it is gun violence, whether it is many of the issues we discuss today. [He was speaking at a trade union forum.]

    Universal background checks, a stop to all sales of weapons of wars, some initial reports were that it was a military style weapon or weapons used in Cielo Vista Mall, keep that shit on the battlefield, do not bring it into our communities, I don’t want to see it in our malls or in our schools or in our churches or in our synagogues.

  51. says

    From Wonkette:

    […] I don’t care what this asshole’s problem was […] Clearly, we live in a world in which an inordinate amount of people think that the answer to their problems is killing a bunch of people and we are not going to stop living in that world any time soon. We can have all the candlelight vigils we want, send all of the thoughts and prayers, but it is all bullshit until we actually start instituting some serious gun control measures.

    I’m sorry, people who like guns and hate background checks. This isn’t working out. It’s just not. It’s going to keep happening, over and over again, until we actually do something about it. […] We’re supposed to tolerate seeing hundreds of people die or losing our loved ones in mass shootings […] I don’t think so!

    Maybe at some point in our history, America could handle lax gun laws. Like it or not, that is not the world we live in anymore, and our laws need to reflect that. It’s like when you’re a kid — if you can’t handle a privilege responsibly, it gets taken away. The United States has proven over and over again that this is not a “privilege” that we can handle.

    Nearly every other country on earth has figured this shit out. They have a mass shooting, they implement laws so that it doesn’t happen again. Not us! We have to keep doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. […]


  52. says

    From the Washington Post editorial board:

    We know by now not to waste time calling on President Trump to do the right thing. He sows division and bigotry rather than promoting unity and understanding. Whatever he promises, in the crunch he capitulates to the gun lobby.

    But on a weekend of horrifying and hate-fueled violence, we also know that it doesn’t have to be this way. Mass shootings need not be routine, as most every other country demonstrates. Leadership need not be negative and supine.

    Here is what a presidential president might say:

    My fellow Americans,

    These are dark days and nights of August. A weekend — a time for Americans to gather at the beach, the mall, a music festival — has brought us horror. Let us resolve to transform our great anguish into action, permanent and effective action. This horror will no longer be normal in our country.

    Today, I am calling on Congress to return to Washington for an immediate joint session, to give up their district politicking and take action to combat gun violence. Enact a ban on sales of military-style assault rifles, as well as high-capacity magazines. This weaponry was made for war; its purpose is to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible. It doesn’t belong on our streets.

    Make background checks mandatory. And for those who have other ideas, such as federal licensing and buy-backs, come forward, and we will work on them. I have instructed my administration to undertake a major scientific research effort on gun violence that will help us chart more answers in the long term. We must free ourselves of a special interest lobby. I will personally campaign for the solutions as hard as I can and invite those from both parties to join me.

    It’s all written out for Trump. He can just put that on his teleprompter … and then he can let Nancy Pelosi act on his behalf.

  53. says

    From Juliette Kayyem:

    There are no lone wolves. A mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso on Saturday was allegedly perpetrated by a young, white male, according to police, who appears to have posted a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto online minutes before the attack, declaring the need to fight the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Such white-supremacist hatred isn’t just a poisonous belief held by isolated individuals. It is a group phenomenon that is, according to the FBI, the greatest terrorist threat to America. […]

    one more example why viewing what is happening in America today […] with one side heavily armed, the other side shopping for school supplies at a Walmart […]

    White-supremacist terror is rooted in a pack, a community. And its violent strand today is being fed by three distinct, but complementary, creeds. The community has essentially found a mission, kinship and acceptance.

    First, the mission. Young white men today are the last generation of Americans born when white births outnumbered those of nonwhites. […] in the white-supremacist interpretation, a “white genocide” […]

    In other words, this strain of white supremacy doesn’t simply dislike the “other”; it views the other’s very existence as part of a zero-sum game. The sense of “the great replacement” seeps beyond the bounds of their in-group, finding a voice even among politicians who may inadvertently bolster that view, as when Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) in June tweeted, without providing a comment or context, an article from the Texas Tribune with the headline: “Texas gained almost nine Hispanic residents for every additional white resident last year.” […]

    More at the link.

    Juliette Kayyem is a former assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security and faculty chair of the homeland security program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

  54. says

    From Hillary Clinton:

    With two mass shootings in America in less than 24 hours, thoughts and prayers are not enough. We need action.

    The House has sent common-sense gun safety legislation to the Senate. Demand that @senatemajldr and your Republican elected officials join Democrats to pass it.

  55. tomh says

    Who says that Republicans aren’t giving deep thought to gun violence.

    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, and Texas GOP Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick appeared on Fox News on Sunday pointing to social media disputes, violent video games and even a lack of prayer in public schools for potential reasons behind the shooting deaths of dozens of people. McCarthy joined Patrick in appealing to the “millions of Americans who will go out to their place of worship” Sunday and who he asked to “all mourn together.”

    More pap from these two at the link.

  56. blf says

    Israel fears a visit by Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib:

    While officially welcoming them, the Israeli authorities are trying to block the two congresswomen from entering Israel.

    On July 16, Somali-American Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar, together with Representatives John Lewis and Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib, introduced bill HR-496 which is meant to affirm Americans’ “right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution”.

    Though not explicitly mentioned, HR-496 is at least partially inspired by the ongoing legislation targeting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

    A day later, Omar announced plans to visit Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories in August together with Tlaib. It did not take long for Israel to react. While officially Tel Aviv, through its ambassador in the United States Ron Dermer, has indicated that “out of respect for the US Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America”, the two congresswomen will be allowed into the country, unofficially the Israeli government is trying to bar them from entering Israel.

    Last week, the Israel Law Center (ILC), also known as Shurat HaDin, a self-declared NGO, appealed to the Jerusalem District Court to prevent Omar and Tlaib from gaining entry into Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories due to their support for the constitutionally-protected right to engage in BDS.

    The ILC bases its case on Amendment No 28 to the Entry Into Israel Law, which prohibits entry of any foreigner who makes a “public call for boycotting Israel” or “any area under its control”.

    Contrary to the ILC’s claims of being a non-governmental organisation, WikiLeaks documents show it has worked closely with the Israeli government and as a Mossad and Israel National Security Council proxy. […]

    The involvement of the ILC as a so-called NGO enables the Israeli government to avoid direct accountability for its racist, diplomatically controversial targeting of an elected US official while setting a precedent against prominent BDS supporters.

    Further, it degrades Omar and Tlaib as Muslim women and as American elected officials while sidestepping potential diplomatic embarrassments Donald Trump as president would need to address. Thus, Israel is working in tandem with the White House to target and humiliate Omar and Tlaib, both outspoken critics of American and Israeli policies in general, and Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in particular.


    Lots more in this opinion piece.

  57. says

    In legal-political news, from yesterday:

    JUST IN: Mexico threatens to take legal action against the US for failing to protect its citizens in the wake of Saturday’s mass shooting in El Paso.”

    I was thinking about this the other day when I didn’t even see a public apology or expression of condolence to Mexico. Everything Trump and his gang have done with regard to other countries – excluding those in the hands of autocrats and authoritarians he admires or to whom he’s beholden – has been harmful, insulting, and contemptuous. Toward the countries of much of the world, they’ve been openly racist and cruel. They must be outraged and seething.

    BREAKING: Puerto Rico Senate President @trschatz51 is suing the Puerto Rico government questioning the legitimacy of Governor @pedropierluisi who was sworn in under a cloud of suspicion regarding whether it was legal to have him take the oath of office.”

  58. says

    Trump read a bunch of words from a teleprompter, sniffing all the while and looking like he was reading it as as hostage.

    He did read words that condemned racism, bigotry and white supremacy. He even mentioned domestic terrorism, and noted that the FBI had been asked to make recommendations for improving the fight against domestic terrorism. Will Trump restore funds his administration previously reduced?

    Like many Republicans, he focused on mental health. As far as gun control goes, he reminded listeners that his administration had banned bump stocks.

    He did not mention a ban on assault weapons, nor other aspects of gun control that are already in a bill passed by the House but not by the Senate (McConnell wouldn’t even bring it to the floor).

    Trump has made correct-sounding noises about gun control in the past. Then he met with the NRA and backtracked on the whole thing.

    What is he going to do this time? How long will it be before he starts to backtrack? How long will it be before he chuckles again when someone in his rally audience suggests shooting immigrants?

  59. says

    “Nadler: Judiciary panel could recommend articles of impeachment by late fall”:

    House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said Monday that his panel could recommend articles of impeachment by late fall, sketching a rough timeline for potential efforts to remove President Donald Trump just days after a majority of House Democrats signaled their willingness to support an impeachment inquiry.

    “If we decide to report articles of impeachment, we could get to that late in the fall, in the latter part of the year,” Nadler said on MSNBC.

    Nadler is petitioning a federal judge to get lawmakers access to grand jury evidence collected by former special counsel Robert Mueller, and his committee is preparing to sue former White House counsel Don McGahn to compel his testimony in the committee’s ongoing investigation into potential abuses of power by Trump.

    “I think that we will probably get court decisions by the end of October, maybe shortly thereafter. We’ll have hearings in September and October with people we don’t — witnesses who are not dependent on the court proceedings,” Nadler said.

    But that’s an ambitious timeframe for a committee that has so far been nearly totally stymied in its effort to force Mueller’s central witnesses to provide information to Congress. McGahn, his deputy Annie Donaldson and former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks have all refused to testify about the events that they freely discussed with Mueller, forming the basis of Mueller’s damaging evidence of Trump’s efforts to thwart the investigation of his campaign’s numerous contacts with Russians.

    …Nadler emphasized during his MSNBC interview that his committee’s efforts should continue irrespective of the political calendar.

    But others on the committee have viewed the start of the presidential primaries as an unofficial deadline for potential impeachment….

    I wish someone had asked or Nadler had volunteered which witnesses in which areas they’re planning to call to testify in September. But I’m glad he made this point about the timeline. While I do think they should be much more aggressive, including rhetorically, I’ve long thought the refrain about how if it’s not done immediately it’ll be too late made little sense. The Trumpers will present it as partisan regardless of any timing, and the reason it’s taking so long, as the Dems can always point out, is Trump’s stonewalling the House and his efforts to cover up his impeachable offenses (which also add more impeachable offenses!).

  60. says

    Trump-style remedies for gun violence include a stronger death penalty:

    The president also voiced support for stronger death penalty legislation for those who commit mass shootings, putting additional resources and new tools toward helping identify early warning signs before shooters act, and reforming mental health laws.

    “Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun,” he said.

    NBC News link

    From Steve Benen:

    Trump also, naturally, also spoke out against “gruesome and grisly video games,” which, in reality, are not responsible for mass shootings.

    Despite his tweet from this morning, however, the president did not endorse new background checks on gun purchases.

    It left us in a familiar position: a Republican policymaker prepared to talk about social media, video games, and mental health, but unwilling to address gun policy.

    Postscript: As a substantive matter, this wasn’t at all important, but it was curious when Trump said, at the conclusion of his remarks, “May God bless the memory of those who perished in Toledo.” The shooting was in Dayton, not Toledo. Since he was reading from his trusted teleprompter, I suppose it’s possible an aide screwed this up.


  61. says

    Yes, Trump made the teleprompter-guided speech this morning, but he also tweeted a bunch of nonsense on Twitter:

    The Media has a big responsibility to life and safety in our Country. Fake News has contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years.

    News coverage has got to start being fair, balanced and unbiased, or these terrible problems will only get worse!

    Which attitude does Trump really back, what he tweeted, or what his aides wrote for him on the teleprompter?

    Trump’s re-election campaign ran social-media advertising this morning that said, “The left-wing MOB and their allies in the FAKE NEWS media represent a very real danger to our nation.”

  62. says

    From Steve Benen:

    Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on the Republican leader to end the chamber’s break to vote on a universal background check bill after the two shootings — one in Dayton, Ohio, and another in El Paso, Texas — left at least 29 dead and 53 injured in a matter of just 13 hours. The Senate is currently in recess until September.

    “One awful event after another. Leader McConnell must call the Senate back for an emergency session to put the House-passed universal background checks legislation on the Senate floor for debate and a vote immediately,” Schumer said in a statement.

    I’ll go out on a limb and guess that McConnell will ignore Schumer’s suggestion, though I was glad to see the Democratic Senate leader reference the pending legislation.

    It didn’t generate a lot of attention at the time, but it was six months ago when the Democratic-led House passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act (H.R. 8) — one of the Dems’ top legislative priorities for this Congress — that would require background checks on all gun purchases, including at gun shows. The final vote was 240 to 190.

    It was the first time either chamber of Congress had passed a bill intended to reduce gun violence since 1994 — a quarter of a century ago.

    The legislation then went to the Republican-led Senate, where it proceeded to gather dust. Donald Trump, after spending months talking about his support for a background-check bill — a sentiment he seemed to endorse again this morning — issued a veto threat, vowing to reject the proposal if it reached his desk. […]

  63. says

    Trump being Trump, he added bragging and bluster to his comments about gun violence when he spoke to reporters yesterday:

    This has been going on for years – for years and years – in our country.

    We’re talking to a lot of people, and a lot of things are in the works, and a lot of good things. And we have done much more than most administrations. And it does – it’s not – really not talked about very much, but we’ve done, actually, a lot. But perhaps more has to be done.

    But this is also a mental illness problem. If you look at both of these cases, this is mental illness. These are people – really, people that are very, very seriously mentally ill. So a lot of things are happening.

    One of the first bills Trump signed into law in 2017 was bill that made it easier for mentally impaired people to buy guns.

    Trump’s administration is still trying to kill Obamacare. If they succeed, they will have eliminated access to mental-health services for many Americans.

    In his speech this morning, Trump tried to tie immigration reform to gun control. That doesn’t make sense, unless, as Steve Benen pointed out, it was Trump “saying he’ll sign a background-check bill only if Congress meets his demands on immigration policy.”

  64. says

    Outing Trump’s real agenda, (the opposite of what he read from the teleprompter today): “President Trump looks forward to visiting with the patriots of Texas who are on the front lines of the struggle against open-border Democrats who allow drugs, crime, and sex trafficking all along our border every day.” —Trump campaign COO Michael Glassner, in advance of a Trump rally in El Paso, February 2019.

  65. says

    The single most ludicrous thing Trump just said about guns. (That’s a Think Progress link.)

    President Trump delivered a short speech on Monday in which he blamed the internet, video games, mental illness, and the fact that the state does not execute enough people for the two mass shootings that killed more than two dozen people this weekend.

    The one thing Trump refused to blame was the actual weapons used to murder these individuals.

    “Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger,” Trump said, “not the gun.”

    It’s a new spin on an old anti-gun control slogan — “guns don’t kill people, people do” — but it’s just wrong. Every nation has people with mental illnesses. Every one of our peer nations have video games and access to the internet. What sets the United States apart from countries that do not have the same epidemic of gun violence is guns, plain and simple. […]

    More at the think.

  66. says

    From that dunderhead, Hair Furor:

    Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform.

  67. Akira MacKenzie says

    Lynna, OM @ 98

    Besides obvious political extortion, what does one have to so with the other? When was the last mass shooter an immigrant?

  68. blf says

    Pro-LGBT Coca-Cola adverts spark boycott calls in Hungary:

    Advertisements by Coca-Cola relating to a popular music festival in Hungary that promote gay acceptance have prompted a boycott call from a senior member of the conservative ruling party[, Viktor Orbán’s nationalist Fidesz].

    The posters are timed for the week-long Sziget festival — that takes the theme of “Love Revolution” and starts on Wednesday in Budapest — and show gay people and couples smiling with slogans such as “zero sugar, zero prejudice”.


    On Sunday, Fidesz’s deputy speaker István Boldog called for a boycott of Coca-Cola products during what he labelled a provocative campaign. But with gay acceptance rising among Hungarians, it was unclear if his call would gain traction.

    Still, rightwing news portals echoed his antipathy. The homosexual lobby is laying siege to Budapest, leaving no space to avoid this, complained one, Pesti Srácok.


    Tamás Dombos, an advocate with the Háttér gay rights group, said the government was homophobic but also aware of society’s growing acceptance of gay lifestyles.

    “We have a feeling they are testing people in this subject,” Dombos said. “The entire government propaganda is built on conflict, and they need enemies. After the EU, migrants, NGOs and even the homeless, now it may be LGBTQ people.

    “Sometimes it’s hard to dissect whether it’s a political strategy or just an inherent real homophobe getting mad at something like Coke’s campaign.”

    [… In Poland, the] ruling rightwing Law and Justice (PiS) party, a Fidesz ally, has launched an anti-gay campaign in an apparent attempt to re-energise its mainly rural base. One conservative magazine distributed LGBT-free zone stickers and some towns have declared themselves LGBT-free.

    In Hungary, the parliament speaker this year equated gay adoption to paedophilia in a moral sense.


    And on lighter (and largely unrelated) note, in Germany, Germans kept up at night by noisy igelsex (that’s hedgehog coupling).

  69. says

    Akira MacKenzie @ #100, I think it’s worse than extortion. He’s trying to tie the two things – immigration and racist violence – together in order to blame immigrants/minorities (and Democrats) for the violence.

    Of the form “It was an extreme response, but these citizens wouldn’t have attacked the refugee camp if the Left weren’t letting refugees flood our country and make it dirtier and more dangerous.”

  70. blf says

    To no-one’s surprise, Boris Johnson has no intention of renegotiating Brexit deal, EU told:

    Boris Johnson has no intention of renegotiating the withdrawal agreement and a no-deal Brexit is his “central scenario”, EU diplomats have been briefed following a meeting between the prime minister’s chief envoy [David Frost] and officials in Brussels.


    “It was clear UK does not have another plan,” a senior EU diplomat said of the meetings with Frost. “No intention to negotiate, which would require a plan. A no deal now appears to be the UK government’s central scenario.”


    The lack of any proposal on how to deal with the controversial Irish backstop was felt to be significant by the EU officials.

    Frost was said to have told the officials that a technological solution to the Irish border was the UK’s preferred option before admitting that “it would not be ready now for Brexit”.

    “Even if EU gave up the backstop there is no alternative,” a diplomat concluded of the discussion.

    “That message has now gone loud and clear to capitals, it was useful to hear it form horse’s mouth,” the EU source said. “Reality is sinking in.”


    EU officials were left with the impression that the British government would seek to avoid any alignment with Brussels that would prevent the UK from pursuing a policy of deregulation.

    A diplomatic source said: “This is a downgrade of the offer in EU mandate, which is for a comprehensive agreement that eliminates tariffs accompanied by level playing field arrangements.

    “A conventional free trade agreement reduces tariffs and does not eradicate them. Not having a level playing field or alignment will not fly.”


  71. says

    Akira @100, exactly. Trump is obviously planning to use extortion, blackmail if you want to call it that, (or maybe taking the American people hostage), to get his version of immigration reform = his fucking WALL.

    Trump, as an unethical and stupid businessman, has always used “leverage” to get what he wants. He seems to equate leverage with “threats to do great harm.” That’s him. That’s what he will do again.

  72. says

    Beto O’Rourke:

    What do you think? You know the shit he’s [Trump’s] been saying. He’s been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. Like, members of the press, what the FUCK? It’s these questions that you know the answers to. I mean, connect the dots about what he’s been doing in this country. He’s not tolerating racism, he’s promoting racism. He’s not tolerating violence, he’s inciting racism and violence in this country. So, I just … I don’t know what kind of question that is. […]

    The writing has been on the wall since his maiden speech coming down that escalator describing Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals.

    The actions that follow cannot surprise us, and anyone who is surprised is part of this problem right now, including members of the media who ask, hey Beto, do you think the president is racist? Well Jesus Christ, of course he’s racist.

    Translation from Wonkette of something Trump said earlier, as a followup to SC’s comment 102:

    “And also I want to use these dead bodies I’m stepping over right now to curtail press freedoms in the land of the free and the home of the brave, because the media hurts my feelings and any reporting that makes me look like the dumb fucking shithole I am is FAKE.”

    Wonkette nailed it.

  73. says

    Stupid stuff that the Lt. Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, said on Fox News:

    What’s changed in this country? We’ve always had guns. We’ve always had evil. But what’s changed where we see this rash of shootings? And I see a video game industry that teaches young people to kill.

    From Ohio state Representative Candice Keller:

    After every mass shooting, the liberals start the blame game. Why not place the blame where it belongs?

    The breakdown of the traditional American family (thank you, transgender, homosexual marriage, and drag queen advocates); fatherlessness, a subject no one discusses or believes relevant; the ignoring of violent video games; the relaxing of laws against criminals (open borders); the acceptance of recreational marijuana; […] the culture, which totally ignores the importance of God and the church; […]

    Well, she has a solid grasp of the rules governing punctuation. She left out abortion.

    From October 28, 2015, but still highly relevant:

    I’m EMBARRASSED: Texas #2 in nation for new gun purchases, behind CALIFORNIA. Let’s pick up the pace Texans. @NRA [tweeted by Texas Governor Greg Abbott]

    Still think Republicans will join together with Democrats to pass meaningful gun reform legislation?

    A few Republicans did manage to say the right thing. Florida Governor Rick Scott said, “White nationalism is a cancer on our country. We all stand united against this evil.”

    Kellyanne Conway, speaking for the White House, just issued a flood of pearl-clutching, meaningless phrases:

    We need to come together, America.

    Finger-pointing, name-calling & screaming with your keyboards is easy, yet…

    It solves not a single problem, saves not a single life.

    Working as one to understand depraved evil & to eradicate hate is everyone’s duty. Unity.
    Let’s do this.

  74. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 104

    Akira MacKenzie @ #100, I think it’s worse than extortion. He’s trying to tie the two things – immigration and racist violence – together in order to blame immigrants/minorities (and Democrats) for the violence.

    That might work with the Know-Nothings, but most people already known that the most of the recent shootings were committed by admitted white supremacists. They’re going to have a hard time selling that in the MSM.

  75. blf says

    Here’s an intriguing suggestion in the Irish Times, Ireland can stop a no-deal Brexit. Here’s how. It seems difficult to excerpt, so a quick summary: Sinn Féin, who are opposed to brexit, have seven seats in teh NKofE’s parliament, refuse to sit in them (and they cannot be convinced to do so). However, they could agree a pact with other anti-brexit parties in N.Ireland to (via a carefully coordinated series of events) trigger elections for those seats for the express purpose of installing agreed unaligned prominent anti-brexit candidates who are willing to sit. These hypothetical MPs would be bound by the pact to oppose brexit (including revocation of Article 50, retaining the Irish backstop, &tc), and to support a motion of no-confidence and “if the opportunity arises, the formation of an alternative cross-party administration” (i.e., the “national unity technocratic government” some suggest as way to break teh NKofE’s deadlock). They would abstain on everything else (equivalent to Sinn Féin); and would resign (triggering another election (and the probable return of the seats to Sinn Féin)) once brexit is resolved.

    Whilst the mathematics are dodgy — see KG‘s previous comments on the “one seat majority” in teh NKofE’s parliament — seven additional guaranteed anti-brexit votes is significant.

  76. Akira MacKenzie says

    Lynna , OM @ 111

    And I see a video game industry that teaches young people to kill.

    You mean the same video games sold in countries that somehow DON’T suffer from an epidemic of mass shootings? Besides, I thought you red-blooded ‘Mericans loved shoot-em-ups and believed blowing away the “bad guys” was a virtue.

  77. says

    From Jennifer Rubin: “Trump’s speech would be laughable if it weren’t so infuriating.”

    After stoking white nationalism, accusing a federal judge of being unfair because of his Mexican heritage, declaring there were some “very fine” people marching with neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, demonizing refugees as an “invasion” and “infestation,” instigating a policy to rip migrant children from their parents’ arms, telling four nonwhite members of Congress to “go back” where they came from and cheering the burglary at the home of Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) — whose city he claimed was “rodent and fat-infested” — President Trump finally appeared before the public Monday morning to say, “In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy. … Hate has no place in America.”

    It would be laughable if it were not so infuriating. He appeared to blame social media for the rise in hate. In one regard, he has a point: Twitter has been Trump’s bullhorn for spreading vile bigotry and xenophobia. He trotted out the trope about dealing with mental health. There was no promise (as suggested in his tweets) to address background checks. His call for the FBI to take action to prevent hate crimes rings hollow, given his administration’s cuts to efforts fighting domestic terrorism.

    There was no sincere remorse for his own role in fanning racism. As a final insult and indication of abject insincerity, he ended with “and may God bless the people of Toledo.”

    Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) gave us the perfect encapsulation for how we should regard Trump’s empty words. She declared, “I’m too busy watching what he’s doing to hear what he’s saying” […]

    Washington Post link

  78. says

    The Dow Jones industrial average is down more than 700 points. The cause is, mostly, Trump’s push for a global trade battle, (tariffs on another $300 billion of Chinese goods and services has been promised/threatened by Trump).

  79. says

    From Steve Benen:

    In February 2018, the president wrote on Twitter, “I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks… Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue — I hope!” Almost exactly a year later, House Democrats passed a bill to require background checks on all gun purchases. The White House issued a veto threat before the legislation even passed the chamber.

  80. says

    Putin threatens to develop new nuclear weapons if the US does so first.

    If you were wondering when the new arms race would start, we’d say right about…now.

    […] “If Russia obtains reliable information that the United States has finished developing these systems and started to produce them, Russia will have no option other than to engage in a full-scale effort to develop similar missiles,” said Putin in a statement, having called a meeting with his Security Council. […]

  81. says

    Akira MacKenzie:

    That might work with the Know-Nothings, but most people already known that the most of the recent shootings were committed by admitted white supremacists. They’re going to have a hard time selling that in the MSM.

    It’s actually a tried-and-true strategy. The same people who think ICE having 55,000 people in detention is in part an indication that they’re probably facing a huge influx of violent criminals will believe something like “Obviously, explicitly racist vigilantism isn’t an acceptable response, but people’s anger at and fears of this uncontrolled immigration is justified. Things are out of control, and these sorts of attacks will continue until the government does something about the immigration problem.” The number of people who hold something like this latter view, sometimes semi-consciously, goes beyond Trump’s base.

  82. KG says


    It has been reported, apparently from several sources, that Dominic Cummings, who ran the “Vote Leave” campaign in 2016, and is now Johnson’s effective chief-of-staff, has crowed that the commons cannot now stop a no-deal Brexit, even by bringing down the government – a vote of no confidence triggers a 14-day period during which attempts can be made to form a government that can win a vote of confidence (either the same government or another one). If none is formed, the current (caretaker) Prime Minister gets to “advise” the Queen on when to hold an election, and cummings is reported to have said it would be scheduled for after October 31st, and that Johnson would not ask the EU for an extension. Polly Toynbee of the Grauniad now suggests that following a no-confidence vote, a Government of National Unity (the acronym GNU was used last time this idea was fashionable in the UK – the 1970s?) could be formed in the 14-day period, led by Margaret Beckett or a similar Labour “elder statesperson” i.e. someone not expected to run when Labour next have a leadership contest. The idea would be to ask for an extensino to hold an election and a new referendum. Toynbee reckons Johnson and Cummings have pissed off enough Tory MPs to make this feasible. I think she’s being extremely optimistic:
    1) The vast majority of Labour MPs as well as all the smaller opposition parties and a significant number of Tories (sacrificing any future political career) would have to support it, but there’s bad blood not just between Labour and the smaller partirs, but between the LibDems and SNP.
    2) It’s not even clear that the Queen would ask Beckett (or whoever) to form a government even if they had demonstrated majority support in the Commons. The Fixed Term Parliaments Act is apparently unclear on whether Johnson would be obliged to advise the Queen to call on that person, nor is it clear she could or would do so on her own initiative.
    3) Holding an election would risk a loss to Johnson (even if he only got 30% of the vote) unless electoral pacts could be agreed or some other way found of avoiding splitting the Remain vote, but holding a referendum would require months, during which who knows what might happen.
    But stranger things have happened and are happening in the world.

  83. says

    BREAKING: Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court will hear a lawsuit, filed by the Senate President of Puerto Rico, challenging whether the man who claims to be Puerto Rico’s Governor had the constitutional right to take the oath of office.”

  84. says

    This absolutely stinks. Boris’s donor [Crispin Odey – SC] eyes Brexit jackpot with £300m bet against British firms. None of these funders will suffer the real world consequences of No Deal, just rake in the profits from the ruin of others.”

    I don’t have access to the article.

  85. says

    How A Right-Wing Conspiracy Site Seized On Bogus Info About The El Paso Shooter

    An article by Matt Shuham, writing for Talking Points Memo:

    In the hours after a mass shooting Saturday, a right-wing conspiracy website used bogus “evidence” from a reputation management website to spread misinformation about the accused gunman.

    After initial reports identified Patrick Crusius as the alleged gunman behind the the El Paso Walmart massacre that left 22 people dead and more wounded, Jim Hoft, founder of the right-wing conspiracy website The Gateway Pundit, presented an inaccurate picture of Crusius to his readers.

    Selectively plucking information from the reputation management website MyLife, which can be edited anonymously by anyone, Hoft set about reporting that the gunman was really a Democrat, and that “Leftists” on the web were editing the gunman’s MyLife profile in real time. Here’s his headline from Saturday: [see link for the archived version of The Gateway Pundit’s article]

    But Hoft’s post left out crucial information. For one thing, it asserted that the gunman’s “original” profile on MyLife “said he was a registered Democrat.”

    However, earlier archived versions of the profile do not list any party affiliation. Here’s the first version of the profile saved on the Internet Archive on Saturday. [see link]

    A few minutes later, as the shooting became national news and after edits were made to the gunman’s page, the MyLife profile said the gunman was “currently a registered Democrat Party; ethnicity is Antifa; and religious views are listed as Antifa.” [see link]

    Someone had apparently edited the page to identify the gunman as a Democrat — only after he was identified as the gunman.

    Hoft cited yet another edited version of the MyLife profile, which identified the gunman as a Democrat and his religion as Christian, as the “original” version of the page. [see link]

    […] The conspiracy website, which was given temporary White House press credentials early in the Trump administration, did stumble upon an obvious truth about MyLife: It’s easily edited and thus not a reliable source of biographical information. And yet, for whatever reason, Hoft assumed he had witnessed a left-wing conspiracy.

    Only later, as the MyLife page was edited over and over again, did Hoft add an update — albeit with more unproven claims.

    “UPDATE— The MyLife page was created AFTER the El Paso shooting. Democrats then jumped in and changed it to make it look like he was a Republican.

    In addition to it being unclear who edited the page and for what reason, it’s also unclear whether the profile itself was first created before or after the shooting. What is confirmed by archived versions of the page is that, initially on Saturday, it did not contain information about the gunman’s party affiliation or religious beliefs.

    That material only appeared after Crusius’ name was connected to the massacre in El Paso — when his digital footprint was a battleground of misinformation. […]


    From the readers comments (note that the disinformation is spreading):

    The Alt-Fact provided in the article is already in the Daily Caller/Townhall reality sphere. They won’t self correct, they won’t change, they’ll just continue to blame the ‘Others’ for such acts.
    I wish someone at TPM would do a report on the influence (and control) that Russian Trolls have over many web sites via anonymous edits, message-board-bombing, and false story planting/promotion.

    They are having a field day with these mass shootings, and the lazy and ignorant right-wingers are being led around by the nose by them on a daily basis.
    Nothing says ‘innocence’ like racing to the documentary evidence and frantically erasing, shredding, editing, deleting every doc you can get your hands on; and removing keywords like Invasion from your tweets and websites
    Since you can anonymously make edits at MyLife, I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that Hoft probably contributed to if not did those last few edits.

    From David Jolly:

    Understand, Trump’s proposal to tie gun reform to immigration reform isn’t seriously about getting immigration reform. It’s about killing gun reform.

    This is how the GOP in Washington makes silent deals with the gun lobby to kill reform efforts. This is *exactly* how its done.

  86. says

    #UPDATE Indian government rushes through decree to scrap the special status of disputed Kashmir, hours after imposing a major security clampdown in the region.

    The president abolished Article 370 of the constitution that gave special autonomy to the Muslim-majority region.”

    If the president can just abolish articles of the constitution, what’s the point of a constitution?

  87. says

    BREAKING: The Puerto Rico Senate adjourns without taking a vote on whether to confirm @pedropierluisi as Secretary of State. It’s now up to the Puerto Rico Supreme Court.

    The Senate was supposed to vote.
    They didn’t.

    What a wild, unexpected turn, in an ongoing chaotic saga.”

  88. says

    Bernie Sanders:

    Most of my father’s family was brutally murdered at the hands of Hitler’s white supremacist regime—a regime which came to power on a wave of violence and hatred against racial and religious minorities.

    We cannot allow that cancer to grow here.

  89. says

    BuzzFeed – “The Dayton Shooter Was The Lead Singer Of A ‘Pornogrind’ Metal Band”:

    The man who killed nine and injured 27 in a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio, was the lead singer of a “pornogrind” metal band, a genre defined by its explicit subject matter and themes of gore and violence, specifically sexual violence and necrophilia, BuzzFeed News has learned.

    The gunman, identified as 24-year-old Connor Betts, was a member of Menstrual Munchies, a three-person band that performed regularly in the Midwest death metal scene, recently appearing as one of the bands at the Summer Massacre 2 concert in Chicago on June 29.

    Pornogrind is a subgenre of a fast and extreme kind of heavy metal called grindcore, which is known for its mostly dark, satirical themes of sexual violence and gore delivered for shock value.

    The band’s song titles are explicitly sexually violent, such as “Preteen Daughter Pu$$y Slaughter” and “[C***] Stuffed With Medical Waste – Sexual Abuse Of A Teenage Corpse.” The album art is equally explicit. One album cover shows a woman consuming feces, while another shows an illustration of a young woman’s headless body chained to a bed, covered in blood, as a man puts his pants back on.

    Musicians in this genre posted messages online saying they were disgusted by Betts’s actions.

    The band’s Facebook page, which had nearly 1,700 likes, and YouTube accounts appear to have been deleted in the wake of the shootings, according to cached versions of the Google search results page.

    The Menstrual Munchies’ Bandcamp page, where the group released and sold its music, was, according to the Google cache, online on Saturday, the day before the shootings. It has now been taken down. BuzzFeed News has reached out to Bandcamp for clarification on its disappearance from site.

    Before its deletion, the page advertising the band’s discography featured, as its background images, maggots and a woman with sperm covering her face and in her mouth.

    News of Betts’s role in the band comes as media outlets report examples of his misogyny.

    A former classmate from Bellbrook High School told BuzzFeed News that in 2011 or 2012, Betts made a “hit list” that included mostly girls at the school. When teachers found the list, the school went into lockdown and Betts was later suspended, the classmate said. He tended to play threats off as a joke, the classmate added, and no one seemed to take them very seriously.

    The list, one classmate told the Washington Post, included “girls and all of these really pretty vile things that he was going to do to them.” She added, “All the girls were really freaked out. He got kicked out of school for it.”

    And woman who attended high school with Betts told the Daily Beast she got text messages from him, saying she was on his “rape list.”…

  90. blf says

    KG@120, Yes. The “Sinn Féin temporarily surrendering their unoccupied seats” idea (@113) does not depend on a “government of national unity” (it’s too far-fetched if that were the case). It is a mechanism to bring seven guaranteed anti-brexit votes, with an anti-brexit mandate and focus, into teh NKofE’s parliament. That is potent, if perhaps not assured to be sufficient (to prevent brexit). There are numerous reasons — albeit not much time — to criticise the idea, but the “government of national unity” unlikelihood is perhaps not that significant of a criticism.

    Having said that, the “government of national unity” is one (of several) path in the idea: It provides a way forward should there be a no confidence vote the “government” looses (neither is assured), as the main opposition (Corbyn) is almost-assured of being unable to form a government during that critical 14-day period. Yet again, the point of the idea isn’t so much to bring down the “government” (as sensible as that would be) or to replace it with something more likely to be functional (even more sensible), but to terminate, fix (read: avoid no-deal and keep the backstop), or delay the critical looming disaster of the impending, very probably no-deal, brexit.

    And having said all that, I suspect there are problems. Lack of time is an obvious one, as it is the greed and brainless stoopidity of Sinn Féin. And on some points the author is being too optimistic, or has overlooked the duplicity (and greed) of relevant actors. But if it could be made to work, it does being seven anti-brexit votes…

  91. says

    Beto O’Rourke:

    He had a ‘rape list’, but he was allowed to buy a gun. This isn’t an isolated incident. Across our country, women who face violence are ignored and dismissed. We need to support women and prevent those who threaten them from ever acquiring weapons of war.

    This president, who helped create the hatred that made Saturday’s tragedy possible, should not come to El Paso. We do not need more division. We need to heal. He has no place here.

    (Trump is planning to go to El Paso on Wednesday. The city should require that his campaign pays what still owes before they commit any funds to security.)

  92. blf says

    Lynna@92 quotes “it was curious when Trump said, at the conclusion of his remarks, “May God bless the memory of those who perished in Toledo.” The shooting was in Dayton, not Toledo. Since he was reading from his trusted teleprompter, I suppose it’s possible an aide screwed this up.”

    Nope. It was hair furor who was confused. From the Grauniad’s current live States blog:

    President [sic] Trump has taken heat for his incorrect reference to Toledo, Ohio earlier today. CNN’s Manu Raju astutely pointed out that in the photograph snapped by Reuters photographer Leah Millis, the president’s teleprompter is clearly visible and the misidentification appears to be a fumble all of his own doing:

    Trump appears to have ad-libbed “Toledo”

    The image and video clearly shows the scripted text was May God bless the memory of those who perished in Texas and Ohio… (set in eejit quotes because it’s being incorrectly bellowed by an insincere lying nazi with tangible responsibility for motivating at least one of the terrorists).

  93. blf says

    SC@135, “Trump is planning to go to El Paso on Wednesday. The city should require that his campaign pays what still owes before they commit any funds to security.” (As an explainer, Trump Owes Half a Million Dollars to El Paso, a City He Scorned.)

    Or arrest him… I admit I’m vague on what the charges would or could be, but welshing on a debit to public authorities does seem like a criminal matter…

    Admittedly, the arrest would be largely symbolic. Potentially a powerful symbol.

    An alternative might be to serve him with papers demanding payment?

  94. says

    I can’t treat any “we need to talk about domestic terrorism the way we talk about international terrorism” takes seriously while the bullshit unconstitutional Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act exists. The FBI and politicians are perfectly happy not only to designate activism as terrorism but to bring the strong arm of the law down – harassing, surveilling, slandering, and prosecuting – if corporations so desire. They aggressively pursued this bullshit even as they saw the threat of rightwing terrorism growing, and shouldn’t be allowed to rewrite history.

    Just saw this, from today: “Animal Law and Policy Clinic launches at Harvard Law School.” Hopefully it’ll become more radical than it now appears.

  95. says

    MSNBC has a special tonight, “A Nation in Crisis,” about the mass shootings this weekend. Rachel Maddow said they invited 30 Republicans to come on the show and all of them refused.

  96. blf says

    Follow-up to Lynna@111, Republican who blamed shootings on gay marriage urged to resign:

    A Republican state representative in Ohio who blamed homosexual marriage and recreational marijuana — along with many of Donald Trump’s favourite targets — for gun massacres is facing calls from her own party to resign.

    In a Facebook post, Candice Keller, who represents a conservative district near Dayton, […] mused [sic] about the causes of mass shootings including: family breakdown and same sex marriage, open borders, sportsmen who disrespect the flag and national anthem, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, a godless culture, and liberal snowflakes.

    [… various calls for resignation…]

    Richard Jones, the sheriff of Butler County, which Keller represents, about 30 miles south-west of Dayton, tweeted: “Candice Keller should resign at once. Shame shame.”

    [… more calls for resignation…]

    Brian Hester, chairman of the Democratic party in Butler County […]: “She loves to fan the flames and play the role of victim here, not the nine people who were killed … She is fundamentally unfit for office. She is an embarrassment to her party, to conservatives, to Butler County and to the state Legislature.”

    Keller, who is the executive director of a crisis pregnancy centre[], was elected in 2016 and is no stranger to controversy. She has compared the Planned Parenthood logo to a swastika and supported an Ohio bill that would “abolish” abortion and make it punishable by the death penalty.


      † Added eejit quotes mine: crisis pregnancy center is xian / fascist doublespeak for unethical anti-abortion intervention quacks. As the AMA Journal of Ethics puts it, Why Crisis Pregnancy Centers Are Legal but Unethical (March 2018):

    […] Their mission is to prevent abortions by persuading women that adoption or parenting is a better option. They strive to give the impression that they are clinical centers, offering legitimate medical services and advice, yet they are exempt from regulatory, licensure, and credentialing oversight that apply to health care facilities. Because the religious ideology of these centers’ owners and employees takes priority over the health and well-being of the women seeking care at these centers, women do not receive comprehensive, accurate, evidence-based clinical information about all available options. Although crisis pregnancy centers enjoy First Amendment rights protections, their propagation of misinformation should be regarded as an ethical violation that undermines women’s health.

  97. blf says

    A short politically-related snippet from Love v l’amour: is English destroying the world’s sexiest language?:

    […] the neologism, “infox”, which has quite successfully been adopted as a thoroughly French translation of fake news: an elegant mashup […] of information and intoxication.

    Heh. Neat. It’s also, in fact, in that quite peculiar French way, “official”, « Fake news » se dira « infox » en français (in translation):

    How to translate the expression dear to Donald Trump? The French language enrichment commission finally decided, after several months, to translate “fake news” by the term “misleading information” [« information fallacieuse »] or by the neologism “infox”, forged from the words “information” and “intoxication”. This translations will be binding on all administrative authorities.

    The term is defined as “false or deliberately skewed” information , for example “to disfavor a political party, to tarnish the reputation of a personality or a company, or to counter an established scientific truth” […]

    I wasn’t aware of this official translation decision, apparently made about a year ago !

    (And, of course, infox can also be construed as something like “Fox burbled” or “in Fox’s lies” or …)

  98. blf says

    Re @145 (infox): Note the official definition for information fallacieuse is counter to hair furor’s apparent definition of fake news: Hair furor uses it to describe anything he doesn’t like (and which therefore has a tendency to be actually be true), whilst the official French translation takes the phrase literally, and hence describes hair furor’s use of the phrase. I rather suspect this inversion (or reversion to the literal meaning) is quite intentional (in a good way); hence the infox neologism.

  99. says

    AP – “Hundreds hold vigil at NRA headquarters for shooting victims”:

    Hundreds of people held vigil outside the National Rifle Association’s headquarters in Virginia for the dozens slain in mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

    Gun control groups including March for Our Lives organized Monday’s “Vigil for Remembrance and Change,” which sought to honor the dead and call for stronger gun laws. The back-to-back weekend shootings cost a total of 31 lives and left more than 50 people wounded….

  100. says

    LA Times – “‘We were safe until he started talking’: El Paso residents respond to President Trump”:

    Watching President Trump step up to a White House podium Monday to assert that “hate has no place in America,” many people in this Texas border city were dumbfounded.

    “We were safe until he started talking,” John Smith-Davis, 47, a retired Army veteran, said as he mourned with his friends at a memorial near the Walmart where a gunman opened fire Saturday. “He made us a target with his hateful rhetoric.”

    Veronica Sanchez, a 23-year-old dental assistant, put it more succinctly: “He has said enough.”

    Many here said he would not be received warmly.

    “From my perspective, he is not welcome here,” Democratic U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, whose district includes a wide swath of the city, said Monday in an interview on MSNBC. “Words have consequences. The president has made my community and my people the enemy. He has told the country that we are people to be feared, people to be hated.”

    A string of officials in El Paso and across the nation have condemned Trump for his steady flow of racist rhetoric, including his repeated warnings about an immigrant “invasion”— the same term used in a manifesto posted to 8chan believed to be written by the shooter.

    “We have a president right now who traffics in this hatred, who incites this violence, who calls Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, calls asylum seekers animals and an infestation,” Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic presidential candidate who represented El Paso in Congress, said Sunday at a vigil.

    O’Rourke also took aim at a suggestion Trump tweeted early Monday that Republicans and Democrats might now work together to enact stronger background checks for gun buyers, “perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform.”

    “Only a racist, driven by fear, could witness what took place this weekend — and instead of standing up to hatred, side with a mass murderer’s call to make our country more white,” O’Rourke wrote on Twitter. “We are so much better than this president.”…

  101. says

    RawStory – “Trump supporter Sean Hannity calls for massive police state as a right-wing alternative to gun control”:

    Fox News personality called Sean Hannity on Monday called for an armed occupation of every school and mall in America.

    “Let’s stop school shootings, we’ll start there,” Hannity said. “Let’s stop mall shootings, let’s start there.”

    “I’d like to see the perimeter of every school in America surrounded, secured by retired police … military and I want guys to donate fifteen hours,” Hannity explained.

    “I think we could cover every school, every hour — add a metal detector and I think we’re going to have better schools,”

    “Have one armed guard on every floor of every school, all over every mall, the perimeter and inside every hall of every mall.”

  102. says

    Politico – “Judge signals interest in removing Mueller report redactions”:

    A federal judge signaled Monday he’s considering removing the Mueller report’s redactions.

    During more than two hours of oral arguments in Washington, District Judge Reggie Walton appeared on several occasions to side with attorneys for BuzzFeed and the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center, which are seeking to remove the black bars covering nearly 1,000 items in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s final 448-page final report.

    Walton didn’t issue an opinion from the bench on the case, which centers on a pair of consolidated lawsuits filed against the Justice Department under the Freedom of Information Act. But the judge, an appointee of President George W. Bush, sounded increasingly skeptical of the government’s arguments pressing him to leave the redactions untouched.

    “That’s what open government is about,” Walton said during one exchange, citing the resolution of a 2008 sex crimes case against financier Jeffrey Epstein as an example of how obfuscating the reasons behind not prosecuting high-profile people generates public distrust in the country’s criminal justice system.

    While Walton has the power to issue an opinion that goes directly to the BuzzFeed and EPIC lawsuit, he’s also weighing another incremental step the two organizations have requested. Essentially, they asked Walton to review the unredacted Mueller report to see if the exemptions the Justice Department is citing to block release of the full document actually line up with what’s allowed under the law.

    Several of the judge’s questions appeared designed to understand what he’d get out of doing that kind of analysis himself. But he also made several comments over the course of the hearing suggesting where he may fall.

    For example, Walton said he had “some concerns” about trying to reconcile public statements Trump and Attorney General William Barr have made about the report with the content of the report itself.

    At the conclusion of the hearing, Walton acknowledged the likelihood that whatever he does will generate an appeal. “I’ll try to get this done as quickly as I can, so we can have this matter resolved one way or another,” he said.

  103. says

    John Lewis:

    What happened in Texas can clearly be laid at the President’s feet. He encouraged people. He created the climate. He fanned the flames.

    Where are my colleagues on the other side of the aisle? You must speak up. You must do something. History will not be kind to any of us if we remain silent.

  104. says

    Guardian – “Jair Bolsonaro says criminals will ‘die like cockroaches’ under proposed new laws”:

    Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has said he hopes criminals will “die in the streets like cockroaches” as a result of hard-line legislation he is pushing to shield security forces and citizens who shoot alleged offenders from prosecution.

    In an interview broadcast on Monday, Bolsonaro said he hoped Congress would approve his controversial plans to expand the so-called excludente de ilicitude – an article in Brazil’s criminal code that makes some normally illegal acts permissible.

    Activists fear that could cause a bloodbath, but Bolsonaro claimed it would provide much-needed “legal cover” to police officers who used lethal force in the line of duty and bring a “dramatic” drop in violence.

    “These guys [criminals] are going to die in the streets like cockroaches [if such protections are approved] – and that’s how it should be,” he said.

    “These are abhorrent comments,” said Ariel de Castro Alves, a veteran human rights activist and lawyer in São Paulo.

    Alves claimed Bolsonaro’s truculent and dehumanising discourse had already caused a spike in deadly police violence – largely against poor, young, black men – and feared the planned legislation would make things even worse.

    “We’ve had 414 killings committed by military police in São Paulo [in the first half of 2019] – that is the highest number since 2003 … He is encouraging police violence and ends up serving as a kind of instigator of brutality,” Alves said.

    Robert Muggah, the head of a Brazilian thinktank the Igarapé Institute, said there had been a similar spike in slayings in Rio de Janeiro where police gunned down 434 people in the first three months of 2019.

    “This is the highest number recorded in over two decades,” Muggah said.

    In the first six months of this year Rio police reportedly killed 881 people – or one person every five hours….

    Also, “Unhinged Brazilian president curses and screams that press doesn’t accept his electoral victory. He is the one who still behaves like a candidate and resists governing.” Video at the link.

    As David Rothkopf responds: “Bolsonaro is not only a threat to Brazil, he is a threat to the planet. One of the gravest we face. In fact, based on his rape of the Amazon rainforests alone–quite apart from his racism and attacks on democracy–he is probably the most dangerous Brazilian leader in history.”

  105. says

    Guardian – “Hong Kong protesters and Chinese officials hold rival press conferences”:

    Chinese authorities and masked protesters have held rival press conferences in an attempt to take control of the narrative amid escalating demonstrations in Hong Kong.

    In a rare press conference on Tuesday, Beijing sounded its strongest warning yet to protesters not to underestimate the power of the Chinese government.

    Calling the demonstrators “brazen, violent and criminal actors”, Yang Guang, a spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the Chinese government, said: “Don’t misjudge the situation or take restraint as a sign of weakness … don’t underestimate the firm resolve and tremendous power by the central government.”

    Yang responded to questions about whether Beijing would deploy its military in Hong Kong by reiterating the Chinese government’s support of Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam. Yang said that with the backing of the Chinese government and the people of China, the Hong Kong government and police were “fully capable of punishing those criminal activities and restoring order”.

    Yet, across the border in the city of Shenzhen, police took part in riot training in footage released by the state-run Global Times on Tuesday….

    Earlier on Tuesday, masked protesters staged their first “civilian press conference”, in response to government and police press briefings.

    “Netizens have initiated the citizens’ press conference, to bring the people’s unheard voice to the public and to highlight the repeated condemnations and empty rhetoric presented by the [Hong Kong] government,” said an unidentified speaker wearing a yellow hard hat, accompanied by a sign language translator.

    The dual press conferences took place a day after some of the worst confrontations between protesters and police, who clashed in at least seven districts of the semi-autonomous city. Police fired teargas and rubber bullets at protesters who occupied roads and vandalised police stations and arrested 148 people aged between 13 and 63 on suspicion of assault and possession of offensive weapons.

    Hong Kong, in its ninth week of consecutive mass protests, is facing its most serious political crisis since the former British colony was returned to Chinese control in 1997.

    One of the group’s first orders of business was to provide a counter-narrative to claims by the Hong Kong government that the economic slowdown was due to the protests, instead placing the blame squarely on global economic problems.

    Later, the speakers reiterated the five demands of the protesters, called for a return of “power back to the people”, and said the “pursuit of democracy” was “the inalienable right of the people”.

    News of Monday’s violence filtered into mainland China, where censors have been allowing more discussion of the protests, framed as riots.

    On the social media platform Weibo the hashtag #FujianFellows was trending alongside videos of men in white grabbing long bamboo sticks to beat protesters and “protect ordinary neighbours”….

    The US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, issued a statement in support of the protesters: “The people of Hong Kong are sending a stirring message to the world: the dreams of freedom, justice and democracy can never be extinguished by injustice and intimidation.”

    She said their courage was extraordinary while Hong Kong’s government was “cowardly”, and said it was refusing to respect the rule of law and called for it to meet the Hongkongers’ legitimate democratic aspirations.

    China’s foreign ministry released a statement on Tuesday rebuking Pelosi, saying her words and that of others in support of Hong Kong’s protesters had made the demonstrators “even more fearless and lawless”.

  106. says

    Salt Lake Tribune – “Jon Huntsman, U.S. ambassador to Russia, resigns to return to Utah for possible run for governor”:

    U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman is returning home to Utah where he is reportedly mulling another run for governor.

    Huntsman sent President Donald Trump a resignation letter Tuesday morning and is planning to move back to the Beehive State in October.

    “American citizenship is a privilege and I believe the most basic responsibility in return is service to country,” Huntsman begins his letter to the president. “To that end, I am honored by the trust you have placed in me as the United States ambassador to Russia during this historically difficult period in bilateral relations.”

    The resignation is effective Oct. 3, Huntsman said….

    Doubtful this is about running for governor (not that he won’t, but you could see this coming).

  107. blf says

    If the El Paso shooter had been Muslim …:

    If the El Paso shooter had been a Muslim, the entire Muslim American community would be blamed for the actions of this one person.

    If the El Paso shooter had been a Muslim, the president [sic] would be lobbing accusations such as Islam hates us in the direction of Muslims and not lecturing the public about video games.

    If the El Paso shooter had been a Muslim, we would have a Muslim ban on immigration to this country. More precisely, we would have an expanded Muslim ban on immigration to this country.

    If the El Paso shooter had been a Muslim, the national security infrastructure would penetrate the Muslim American community. Mosques would be monitored. Informants would be contracted. Spies would be deployed. Rush judgements would soon be reached. Then, years later, the convictions built on bad evidence and on paying informants more than $200,000, would be vacated. That’s what happened in Lodi, California, just last week, when the case against Hamid Hayat, who has been in prison since 2006, collapsed.

    If the El Paso shooter had been a Muslim, the gun lobby and its partisans would offer arguments like blaming guns for terrorist shootings is like blaming airplanes for Sept 11. They would argue that more access to guns is needed to protect us from dangerous Muslims.

    If the El Paso shooter had been a Muslim, [… many more nasty things…]

    If the El Paso shooter had been a Muslim, a lot of things would change, though not really for the better. At first, things would get worse for Muslim Americans. But then they’d get worse for everyone.

    But the El Paso shooting suspect is not a Muslim, so nothing will change. And that outcome, too, is worse for everyone.

  108. says

    These documents would answer whether/more clearly prove Kavanaugh lied about a whole host of issues: Use of documents stolen from Democratic senators by Manny Miranda, knowledge of warrantless wiretapping/torture, role In judicial selection, etc.”

  109. says

    blf @136, thanks for that. Should have known that it was Trump who made the mistake.

    SC and elf @149, yes, Joyce Vance is right. Excellent idea.

  110. says

    From Trump, in response to Barack Obama’s statement that included, “soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments,” [condemn leaders who] “demonize those who don’t look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as sub-human, or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people”:

    Did George Bush ever condemn President Obama after Sandy Hook. President Obama had 32 mass shootings during his reign. Not many people said Obama is out of Control. Mass shootings were happening before the President even thought about running for Pres. @kilmeade @foxandfriends

    From Steve Benen:

    One could respond to this by explaining that none of the Obama-era mass shootings were carried out by people claiming kinship with the Democratic president. In contrast, there are too many examples of Americans committing acts of violence while invoking Donald Trump’s name.

    As Aaron Blake joked this morning, “We all remember when Obama warned about the ‘invasion’ of elementary school children.”

    But what struck me as just as important, if not more so, was the fact that Obama never mentioned Donald Trump by name. The Republican and his allies saw Obama reference “leaders” who feed “a climate of fear and hatred,” and they simply assumed that Trump was the intended target.

    It’s amazing how often this comes up.

    In February, for example, filmmaker Spike Lee said in his Academy Awards acceptance speech, “Let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate.”

    The Republican president was outraged, describing Lee’s comments as a “racist hit” on Trump.

    Lee hadn’t mentioned Trump’s name – or said anything racist, for that matter – but the president heard a man encourage Americans to choose love over hate, and Trump immediately felt insulted. [more examples at the link]

  111. says

    New: Peter Strzok has sued the FBI and the Justice Department over his firing, saying they were influenced by ‘unrelenting pressure’ from the president to force him out.”

    More good news.

  112. says

    Trump said at his rally last week, “We won 32 states, there’s never been anything like it.”

    Why is he still talking about the 2016 presidential race?

    Why is he still lying about a fact that is easy to check? He won 30 states. Four of the last five people to win the White House also won 30 states.

  113. says

    From Steve Benen:

    […] “I tell you, our farmers are great patriots. These are great patriots,” [Trump] said last spring.

    He used identical phrasing late last week, telling reporters what “great patriots” the farmers are. One reporter told the president about a conversation with a soybean farmer who said the administration’s tariffs had created a “crisis” for his business.

    “Well,’ Trump replied, “you interviewed the wrong farmer.”

    As ridiculous as the response was, it had a familiar quality. As recently as May, the president said he’d “never heard … any of the farmers speak badly” about his trade agenda.

    That’s probably because he’s not listening. If he were, Trump would hear all kinds of farmers “speak badly” about his trade policies and their effects. Indeed, after China said yesterday it’s suspending U.S. agricultural purchases, Yahoo Finance talked to dismayed America farmers.

    “This is just another nail in the coffin,” Tyler Stafslien, a North Dakota-based soybean farmer, told Yahoo Finance. “To see this thing only seems to be getting worse rather than better is very concerning, and the American taxpayers may have to foot another round of funding if this keeps up — or we could see a ton of farmers’ loss throughout this nation.”

    American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said that the pain extended across the country.

    “China’s announcement that it will not buy any agricultural products from the United States is a body blow to thousands of farmers and ranchers who are already struggling to get by,” Duvall stated.

    Are we to believe these are the “wrong” farmers, too? […]

    [Trump] added in his tweet that American farmers “know that China will not be able to hurt them,” which is plainly wrong, since Trump’s trade war has already hurt them.


  114. says

    Trump read from a teleprompter words condemning white supremacism, then he waited a few hours before amplifying white supremacism.

    It took about six hours for Donald Trump to go from woodenly reading the words “We must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacism” off of a teleprompter to amplifying a white supremacist in a tweet. Actually, two white supremacists.

    He tweeted out a Lou Dobbs (white supremacist No. 1) story about former Google engineer Kevin Cernekee (white supremacist No. 2), who is making the rounds of fringe media such as Fox News to claim that he has been discriminated against because he’s a conservative Trump supporter. Cernekee told Dobbs that Google executives “want to use all the power and all the resources that they have to control the flow of information to the public and make sure that Trump loses in 2020.” That really stuck with Trump; he went to bed thinking about it and then resumed tweeting about it through the morning.

    In reality, a foreign realm to Trump, Google does not have an anti-conservative bias, and Cernekee was fired because he kept sharing white supremacist kinds of things on Google’s employee message boards. Such as how he wanted his co-workers to join him in raising funds for the “bounty” on the guy who sucker-punched fellow white supremacist Richard Spencer on Trump’s inauguration day. Spencer is the guy who gained notoriety for “shouting ‘Heil Trump’ and quoting Nazi propaganda in German during an anti-Semitic speech at a white nationalist conference in Washington D.C., held to celebrate Donald Trump’s electoral victory.”

    In other internal message board conversations, Cernekee defended two neo-Nazi groups, the Traditionalist Workers Party and the Golden State Skinheads. He said the latter group “stood up for free speech and free association” and suggested that they merely have a branding problem because they call themselves “skinheads.” […] It uses Nazi iconography as its identifying symbols.

    So, yeah, that’s who Trump chose to promote on his Twitter feed Monday night. It didn’t take him any time to get over the deaths of more than 30 people in Texas at the hands of a killer who told the world he was motivated by racist hate and get right back to his favorite hobby: fomenting that racist hate.


  115. says

    Fox promotes domestic terrorist’s manifesto to defend, amplify Trump.

    Fox & Friends host: “If you use the term ‘an invasion,’ that’s not anti-Hispanic. It’s a fact.”

    Yep. There’s no way this mass murder in El Paso could be politically motivated or influenced by Trump’s words. Or by Fox News amplifying them back to him and his followers, causing them to rattle around and around in their brains and on their Facebook pages in a horrifying echo chamber of hate that grows louder and stronger with each utterance.

    Perfectly normal, you see. “Invasion” is just a word. A fact. The Great Leader says it is so.


    A sampling of Trump’s tweets:

    Many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading to our Southern Border. Please go back, you will not be admitted into the United States unless you go through the legal process. This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you! [October 2018]
    The Mayor of Tijuana, Mexico, just stated that “the City is ill-prepared to handle this many migrants, the backlog could last 6 months.” Likewise, the U.S. is ill-prepared for this invasion, and will not stand for it. They are causing crime and big problems in Mexico. Go home! [November 2018]
    Humanitarian Crisis at our Southern Border. I just got back and it is a far worse situation than almost anyone would understand, an invasion! I have been there numerous times – The Democrats, Cryin’ Chuck and Nancy don’t know how bad and dangerous it is for our ENTIRE COUNTRY….[January 2019}
    More troops being sent to the Southern Border to stop the attempted Invasion of Illegals, through large Caravans, into our Country. We have stopped the previous Caravans, and we will stop these also. With a Wall it would be soooo much easier and less expensive. Being Built!
    We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order. [June 2018]

  116. says

    Followup to comment 169.

    Official White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley defended Trump and criticized Obama:

    For him [Obama] to interject himself into this conversation, this debate, at this point, it’s his right to do it, but the fact is Donald Trump is the president of all Americans. He’s trying to move this country forward, and comments like that take us backwards and take us to a dark place that we never want to be and we never want to visit again.

    Remember, President Barack Obama never mentioned Trump’s name. Obama did speak out against hatred and racism.

  117. says

    More re #170:

    BREAK: Former FBI agent Peter Strzok is suing DOJ and FBI over his firing, which he calls politically motivated and a violation of his 1st and 5th amendment rights. Also alleges DOJ’s release of his texts to the media was a violation of the Privacy Act.

    DOJ has not disclosed who authorized the release of the text messages, which were under investigation at the time by Inspector General Michael Horowitz. Strzok’s legal team said in the filing that it hopes to learn that in discovery.

    Trump has attacked Strzok on Twitter nearly two-dozen times since January 2018. Strzok notes that in his lawsuit, arguing FBI was pressured by Trump to fire him over texts—but never seriously investigated anti-Clinton agents who leaked to the Trump campaign in runup to election.

  118. says

    From former President Obama’s national security adviser Susan Rice:

    […] the consequences of Mr. Trump’s raw racism are not contained within America’s shores. They ricochet around the world as far away as New Zealand, poison the international climate and undermine America’s ability to secure our global interests, […]

    That allied leaders, whose countries’ partnership we prize because they share both our interests and our values, felt compelled to condemn the president’s racist comments marks a fresh nadir in global regard for America’s leadership […]

    When the president of the United States reveals himself to be an unabashed bigot, attacking minorities in his own country, America’s ability to stand credibly against human rights abuses, especially repression of minorities in other countries — from the Uighurs in China to Shiites in Bahrain and Christians throughout the Middle East — is thwarted in ways lasting and immeasurable. […]

    Our domestic fault lines remain our greatest national security vulnerability, and race is our oldest and deepest rift. When the president deliberately and repeatedly rubs salt in those wounds, while coddling the authoritarian opponents who exploit them, we must reluctantly ask ourselves: Is he playing on America’s team […]

    New York Times link.
    “When the President Is a Bigot, the Poison Spreads”

  119. says

    More trouble for Jeffrey Epstein. Good.

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has ordered a state criminal probe into the actions of the Palm Beach sheriff and the former Palm Beach state attorney for their handling of the Jeffrey Epstein underage sex trafficking case.

    Miami Herald link

  120. says

    We’ve been following this story.

    A federal watchdog challenged the Trump administration’s authority to move two USDA science agencies out of Washington, in a report issued a few days after Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, praised the move for encouraging federal scientists to quit their jobs. […]

    Washington Post link

    More details:

    […] In his keynote speech at the Republican Party’s black-tie-optional Silver Elephant Gala in South Carolina on Friday, Mulvaney seemed to celebrate the attrition at the agencies. “You’ve heard about ‘drain the swamp.’ What you probably haven’t heard is what we are actually doing. I don’t know if you saw the news the other day, but the USDA just tried to move, or did move, two offices out of Washington, D.C.,” he said.

    As the crowd clapped, Mulvaney continued: “Yes, you can applaud that one. That’s what we’ve been talking about doing. Guess what happened? Guess what happened? More than half the people quit.”

    “It’s nearly impossible to fire a federal worker,” Mulvaney said. “I know that because a lot of them work for me, and I’ve tried . . . By simply saying to people, ‘You know what, we’re going to take you outside the bubble, outside the Beltway, outside this liberal haven of Washington, D.C., and move you out in the real part of the country,’ and they quit — what a wonderful way to sort of streamline government, and do what we haven’t been able to do for a long time.”[…]

    Mulvaney, I don’t think you were supposed to say that out loud.

  121. says

    I’ll bet this is one more example William Barr protecting Trump.

    Echoing arguments made by personal attorneys for President Trump, the Justice Department weighed in Tuesday on Trump’s side in his bid to halt a congressional probe of his finances.

    Trump took the unprecedented step of hiring personal attorneys to try to halt a subpoena issued by the House Oversight Committee seeking financial records from his longtime accountant, Mazars USA LLP. […]

    The DOJ filing is the first time the Trump Administration has taken a position in court on the President’s bid to halt Congress’ investigations of himself. […]

    The government’s position, it turns out, echoes that of Trump’s, suggesting that the House had failed to define a legislative purpose for its investigation […]

    Even though the subpoena itself went to Trump’s accounting firm, and not he himself, “he would not personally compile the requested documents even if he were the subpoena’s recipient.”

    “The subpoena thus should be treated for separation-of-powers purposes as if it were directed to the President,” the DOJ brief reads. […]

    TPM link

    More at the link.

    From the readers comments:

    Good grief. Congress has oversight authority and does not need a legislative purpose. Oversight includes investigating graft and corruption and stopping conflicts of interest.

  122. says

    From former Florida Republican Rep. David Jolly:

    […] Republicans will never do anything on gun control. Nothing. Ever. They won’t. Think about Las Vegas. They did nothing when 500 people were injured. The Pulse nightclub, 50 killed.

    The question for the nation was, do we allow terrorists, suspected terrorists, to buy firearms, Republicans did nothing. Parkland, they did nothing. Emanuel AME in South Carolina, nothing. Go to Sandy Hook in Connecticut, nothing. The Jewish temple in Pittsburgh, nothing. The Jewish temple in San Diego, nothing. Sutherland Springs Evangelical Church in Texas, nothing.

    Now we have Texas, now we have Ohio in the same weekend, and all we get is silence. So I say that because if this is the issue that informs your ideology, as a voter, the strength to draw in this moment is to commit to beating Republicans. Beat ‘em. Beat every single one of ‘em. Even the safe ones in the House—beat ‘em.


  123. Akira MacKenzie says

    Lynna, OM @ 183

    The innuendo just writes itself. Oh, to be so blinded by religiosity that you don’t realize your inadvertently making a reference to oral sex.

  124. says

    NBC – “‘Americans are crazy’: Foreign journalists grapple with covering U.S. mass shootings”:

    …Like their American counterparts, journalists for international outlets have grown accustomed to covering mass shootings. But many reporters who spoke to NBC News say it can be challenging to communicate the situations to their audiences, who have trouble understanding gun culture, politics and extremism in the U.S.

    The international journalists also pointed to what they see as a reluctance from U.S. journalists to accurately discuss the president’s rhetoric and its connection to violent acts.

    Hope said that the shooting in El Paso has particularly resonated in Mexico, leading to the question: “To what measure has this been detonated by the rhetoric of President [Donald] Trump?”

    The U.S. suffers far more mass shootings than any other country in the world. Other countries that have endured mass shooting events have moved quickly to amend gun laws, with the most recent example out of New Zealand. That nation in April enacted gun control measures just weeks after an attack on two mosques in the city of Christchurch.

    “People don’t understand this. I’ve been living in the United States for 17 years and the number of massacres that I have to cover has been endless,” said Pablo Pardo, the U.S. correspondent for Spain’s second-largest newspaper, El Mundo. “To put it bluntly, to be perfectly honest, what people think is that Americans are crazy.”

    The shooting in El Paso has caused particular alarm in Mexico. The country is reportedly considering bringing a criminal case against alleged shooter Patrick Crusius, as well as a lawsuit against the seller of the gun used in the attack.

    Veronica Calderon, a Mexican-born journalist who works for both Brazilian and Canadian news outlets, said she is headed to El Paso to cover the tragedy from the perspective of Mexicans living there. She noted that U.S. and Mexican people have come together to hold vigils after the rampage that left 22 people dead.

    The alleged shooter, investigators believe, had posted online what police are calling an anti-immigrant manifesto.

    “We are in danger in such a direct way. It has been a wake-up call,” Calderon said. “Deep down, in Mexico, there is resentment about what happened but there is pain. We don’t want it to ever happen again.”

  125. says

    Puerto Ricans – known for creatively protesting – are using social media to mock the swearing in of @pedropierluisi as Governor. Critics who believe his taking the oath of office was unconstitutional are poking fun using objects like [paper towels] to swear themselves in as Gov.”

    Photos at the link.

  126. says

    Laurence Tribe:

    Putting Latinos in mortal danger and the grip of fear is more than just a humanitarian outrage. It is what the U.S. Constitution calls a “high Crime” against the United States, for which, upon conviction, a “President . . . shall be removed from Office.”

  127. says

    Merkel, snapped on holiday reading Stephen Greenblatt’s study of Shakespeare’s villains, ‘The Tyrant’. A dissection of the ‘infantile psychology and unquenchable narcissistic appetites of demagogues’, according to the blurb. Happy holidays!”

    Ha! I’ve mentioned this book here before. Perfect summer reading.

    Photo at the link.

  128. says

    The National Rifle Association, which has been looking bad for some time, is now looking even worse.

    Documents indicate that the National Rifle Association planned to purchase a luxury mansion in the Dallas area last year for the use of chief executive Wayne LaPierre, according to two people familiar with the records.

    The discussions about the roughly $6 million purchase, which was not completed, are now under scrutiny by New York investigators. The transaction was slated to be made through a corporate entity that received a wire of tens of thousands of dollars from the NRA in 2018, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

    The New York attorney general’s office is now examining the plan for an NRA-financed mansion as part of its ongoing investigation into the gun lobby’s tax-exempt status, in which it has subpoenaed the group’s financial records, the people said.

    Washington Post link

  129. says

    From Senator Pat Toomey, a republican from Pennsylvania, speaking about a proposed ban on assault weapons:

    They are extremely popular, so to ban an extremely popular firearm, I’m not going to support that, that would be an infringement on the rights of law-abiding citizens.

    Maybe Toomey knows people who love assault weapons, but he doesn’t really know how “popular” they are since, by law, the government of the USA is not allowed to collect such information, nor is it allowed to put such information into a publicly-available database.

    From Steve Benen, who points out that Toomey is missing the point:

    […] the popularity of a deadly weapon hardly seems relevant under the circumstances. When policymakers banned lawn darts, they didn’t spend a whole lot of time studying market trends or sales data. They took steps to save lives regardless of the product’s popularity.

    […] In some circles, heroin is, to borrow the senator’s words, “extremely popular,” too. And yet, I don’t see Toomey making an effort to make heroin readily available as a legal consumer product.

  130. says

    A summary of recent lawsuits filed by Trump’s ever-expanding teams of lawyers:

    […] have you noticed how many lawsuits Team Trump filed in recent months over this issue [tax returns]?

    Team Trump has sued state officials in New York in the hopes of keeping Trump’s tax returns secret.

    Team Trump has sued the House Ways & Means Committee in the hopes of keeping Trump’s tax returns secret.

    Team Trump has sued House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) in the hopes of keeping Trump’s tax returns secret.

    Team Trump has even sued the president’s accounting firm in the hopes of keeping Trump’s tax returns secret.

    And now Team Trump has sued California as part of an effort to keep Trump’s tax returns secret. […]

    Smacks of desperation.

  131. says

    “Honduras protesters calling on president to quit clash with riot police”:

    Riot police have clashed with protesters in Honduras after thousands of people took to the streets of the capital on Tuesday to urge President Juan Orlando Hernández to step down, days after he was forced to deny taking money from drug gangs to secure his election in 2013.

    The premises of at least three businesses in the city were set on fire after protests turned violent, officials said, and riot police clashed with demonstrators while attempting to disperse the crowd with teargas and water cannons.

    “The narco must go, JOH must go!” protesters chanted, using the president’s initials, as they marched through central Tegucigalpa towards congress.

    A court filing was published late last week in which US prosecutors alleged that Hernández’s 2013 presidential campaign had been partly funded by money from drug traffickers.

    The document filed to the US southern district court of New York said the Hernández campaign received $1.5m from “drug proceeds” that were used to bribe local officials in exchange for protection and the completion of public works.

    Hernández rejected the allegations, casting himself as the victim of a smear campaign by drug gangs he had targeted, and accusing political opponents, such as ex-president Manuel Zelaya, of colluding with gangsters to discredit him….

    This is the standard US playbook with the rightwing thugs they help install in power. They stand by for years watching, funding, and profiting from their violence, corruption, and authoritarianism. When they begin to become too inconvenient to prop up, the US starts to slowly undermine them publicly, hoping to replace them with someone similarly amenable and vicious but with less baggage before the democratic voice of the people can take hold.

  132. blf says

    Related to @145/@146(infox): There’s an old word for Trump’s brand of nationalism: ‘hatriotism’:

    The term perfectly describes people who cloak toxic intolerance in patriotism. Let’s bring it back

    Several weeks ago, as President [sic] Trump used the pretext of patriotism to unleash a nativist assault on four Democratic women of color in Congress, I was inspecting a sewer. By which I mean that I was doing historical research into Gerald LK Smith.

    For the mercifully uninitiated, Smith was a kind of proto-Trump in the 1930s and 1940s. An all-purpose racist, antisemite, and Red-baiter, Smith founded the America First political party and espoused a Christian Nationalist Crusade. One biographer described his speeches as “a combination of high school pep rally and a Klan cross burning”.

    In an episode that anticipated Trump’s recent rhetoric treating [… the Squad (their term)] as disloyal foreigners and telling them to “go back home” […] Smith told a whooping crowd, If the Jews don’t like our country, they can go back where they came from!

    As I slogged through such muck, I found a 1945 article from the New York Herald Tribune [former publisher of the IHT, now know as the (International) New York Times]. It recounted Smith and similarly minded demagogues trying to crash a United Nations conference in San Francisco. Describing Smith’s crew, both the headline and the story used the word “hatriots”.


    Clearly, “hatriots” is an epithet we need now. My curiosity about the word’s source led me not only through online searches of Google, newspapers.com, and ProQuest but into contact with several experts on hate speech and what one might call forensic etymology.

    Two scholars — Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, and Fred Shapiro, editor of the authoritative Yale Book of Quotations — separately traced “hatriot” to the same citation: an unsigned editorial column […] of the Seymour, Indiana, Tribune on 2 July 1941. […]

    […] By the mid-1940s […] writers were using “hatriots” […] to identify, among others, Nazi sympathizers charged with sedition and opponents of non-whites serving in the US military.


    The historically accurate descriptors of the Trump movement — “white nationalism”, for instance — just don’t have the necessary zing. And correctly referring to the president as racist is almost taken as a compliment by some elements of his base, proof that only Trump can speak the unutterable truth. So it is time to revive “hatriot” and make it go viral.

    “It’s useful to be able to name a phenomenon, like the politics of Trump, that combines two ideas into a toxic mix,” said Kenneth Stern, director of the Bard Center for the Study of Hate. “‘Hatriotism’ is the perfect shorthand.”

  133. says

    Trump has turned to Twitter again to reveal his true, repulsive nature:

    “Beto (phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage) O’Rourke, who is embarrassed by my last visit to the Great State of Texas, where I trounced him, and is now even more embarrassed by polling at 1% in the Democrat Primary, should respect the victims & law enforcement – & be quiet!

    From Steve Benen:

    On Monday, Donald Trump delivered scripted remarks from the White House on his country’s latest mass shootings, and reading from his teleprompter, the president tried to say the right things.

    He declared, for example, “Now is the time to set destructive partisanship aside – so destructive – and find the courage to answer hatred with unity, devotion, and love.”

    […] Teleprompter Trump is cautious and largely responsible. When he relies on the words others have carefully prepared for him, the Republican often receives praise from some pundits who are impressed with his capacity for using a “presidential tone.”

    But Twitter Trump – which is to say, the real Trump – is never far away. Twitter Trump is unconcerned with appearances. He’s reactive, rude, and impulsive. He doesn’t like being stifled by Teleprompter Trump and he raises his voice when his alter ego gets too much attention. […]

    It’s generally why so much of the public has learned to be skeptical of Teleprompter Trump. It’s not just that he doesn’t sound or feel like the real thing, it’s also because we know it’s only a matter of time before Twitter Trump makes his presence known.

    Postscript: It’s a minor detail, but when Trump wrote that he “trounced” O’Rourke during the president’s last visit to Texas, what was that a reference to? Evidently, the president was talking about the only metric he really cares about: crowd sizes at campaign rallies.


    O’Rouke’s rally size was about the same as Trump’s, and may have been slightly larger (see details below). And, O’Rourke’s campaign team paid their bill to the City of El Paso. Team Trump still has not paid their bill.

    What Trump said about previous rallies in El Paso:

    He [O’Rourke] challenged us. So we had, let’s say 35,000 people tonight and he has 200 people, 300 people. Not too good.

    From Politifact:

    […] We may never know the exact number of attendees — we sought an official estimate from the El Paso Police Department and the city government of El Paso, but none was provided by publication time. Media reports suggested the number was in the thousands. For instance, the Texas Tribune reporters in El Paso wrote that “about 7,000 people went to see O’Rourke speak at the park, according to an aide, who cited law enforcement.” […]

    Still, after reviewing photographic and video footage of the event, we conclude that the number was definitely higher than the 200 to 300 Trump said. […]

    As for the question of whether 35,000 people attended Trump’s rally, news reports suggest that law enforcement officials disagree with his estimate.

    An El Paso Fire Department spokesman told the El Paso Times that the venue where Trump was speaking holds 6,500 people for that type of event, and it was filled to capacity. A few thousand more might have been standing outside, fire public information officer Enrique D. Aguilar told the newspaper, though there was no official count made of the outside crowd.

    This would mean that the total crowd size “might be 10,000 with the people outside,” Aguilar told the paper. Other reported estimates were a few thousand higher. Either way, those estimates were well below Trump’s total. […]

    Conclusion: Trump lied.

    About 6,500 inside at Trump’s venue, and about 7,000 at O’Rourke’s outdoor venue.

  134. says

    BREAKING: @ElNuevoDia is reporting that the Puerto Rico Supreme Court will rule that @pedropierluisi’s swearing in, as Governor, was unconstitutional.
    El Nuevo Día also reports the court will issue an opinion at 1pm today
    CBS News has not confirmed this.”

  135. says

    Guardian – “Turkish government destroys more than 300,000 books”:

    More than 300,000 books have been removed from Turkish schools and libraries and destroyed since the attempted coup of 2016, according to Turkey’s ministry of education.

    Turkey’s education minister Ziya Selçuk announced last week that 301,878 books had been destroyed as the government cracks down on anything linked to Fethullah Gülen, the US-based Muslim cleric who is accused by Turkey of instigating 2016’s failed military coup. Gülen has denied involvement.

    The figure was first reported by the popular newspaper Hürriyet, with images of books being seized and burned published by online news outlet Kronos27.

    …In December 2016, Turkish newspaper BirGün reported that 1.8m textbooks had been destroyed and reprinted for containing the “objectionable” word Pennsylvania, which is where Gülen lives in a guarded compound….

    Free speech organisations said they were alarmed at the comments from Turkey’s minister of education. “In just three years, the publishing landscape in Turkey has been all but decimated, with 29 publishing houses shut down by emergency decree for ‘spreading terrorist propaganda’,” said PEN International and English PEN in a joint statement.

    A 2018 report from English PEN found that, following the state of emergency decreed after the attempted coup, 200 media outlets and publishing organisations had been shut down, 80 writers subjected to investigations and prosecutions and 5,822 academics dismissed from 118 public universities. The report pointed to a “crisis of freedom of expression” in Turkey.

    “The government has dramatically increased its influence on the media and publishing landscape, thereby silencing critical voices,” said PEN. “We call on the Turkish authorities to permit the reopening and independent operation of publishing houses, and to urgently end their far-reaching crackdown on freedom of expression, which continues unabated.”

  136. says

    Guardian – “Met police examine Vladimir Putin’s role in Salisbury attack”:

    Scotland Yard has examined the role of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in the novichok nerve agent attack in Salisbury, it has been revealed.

    Putin is assessed by UK intelligence agencies as having been “likely” to have approved of the attack in March 2018 on Sergei Skripal, a former Russian military officer, and his daughter, both of whom were left seriously ill but survived.

    Dawn Sturgess later died after coming across a discarded perfume bottle used by two Russian intelligence agents to carry the military grade nerve agent.

    Two Russian agents have been charged over the attack, and Britain wants them extradited and has issued a European arrest warrant (EAW) and Interpol red notice for their detention.

    The Metropolitan police assistant commissioner Neil Basu, the head of UK counter-terrorism policing, said the investigation into the attack was continuing.

    Basu said the issues involved in bringing charges over the attack were complex. “You’d have to prove he [Putin] was directly involved,” he said….

  137. says

    Kellyanne Conway lies like she was born to do nothing but lie:

    I can’t think of a time when we’ve seen more of a split screen, though. You’ve got the politically-motivated, craven politicians, many of whom think they should be president, on one side screaming about the President and then you have the President not taking the bait. And just keeping a very low tone and calling for the country to heal, to unify and putting forth concrete proposals on — about mental health, about red flags about background checks.

    Conway said that on Fox News/Trump TV.

  138. blf says

    First Dog on the Moon in the Grauniad, If you act now you can maybe avoid the worst of climate change. But you know you’re not going to (cartoon): “The rage inducing, sober reality of it, you could do it but you won’t”. The last few frames were not scripted by the mildly deranged penguin: “[…] Us penguins are pretty happy with the Earth like it is so you know, screw you people. […] I won’t stop fighting — penguins are survivors… you have never seen a penguin take a day off and you never will. As for the rest of you get over yourselves, there is no giving up. You got us into this mess and you’re the only ones who can get us out. YOU OWE IT TO ALL OF US PENGUINS TO SORT YOUR SHIT OUT SO GET TO IT!”

  139. says

    Followup to comment 182.

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] Those are the President’s personal attorneys. They work directly for him as an individual. They have no responsibilities to the office of the President or the US government in general. So making maximal claims isn’t terribly surprising and of course it’s Trump. Of course, he’s going to do that.

    But now the Department of Justice is entering these cases and to a great degree mimicking these arguments. And of course the Department of Justice represents the people and the constitution. (The White House Counsel’s Office represents the President in his official capacity.) What all of this amounts to is that the Department of Justice is now more or less openly operating as the President’s personal defender. That’s Bill Barr talking, the guy who Trump insider Matt Schlapp lauded back in February as Trump’s first “fully operational confirmed Attorney General.”

    From perspective this isn’t terribly surprising. We’ve seen Barr’s corrupt management of the DOJ in his handling of the Mueller probe, his efforts to fan various “Deep State” conspiracy theories ginned up by the President’s supporters. But this is another major example of it.


  140. says

    Trump’s reply to questions about the impact of his rhetoric:

    No I don’t think my rhetoric has at all, I think my rhetoric — it brings people together. Our country is doing incredibly well, China is not doing well if you look at the trade situation.


    From Aaron Rupar:

    REPORTER: You and the El Paso shooter used the same language. Did you regret that?

    TRUMP: “I think illegal immigration is a terrible thing for this country. I think you have to come in legally.”

    (He did not indicate he has any regrets about his “invasion” rhetoric.) https://t.co/GBmVDEs7JU

    Trump says he thinks he has already toned down his rhetoric.

    “They’re trying to make political points,” he says of people who thinks he should tone it down further. https://t.co/UBHDEkUcQV

  141. says

    China has announced it has ended its purchases of U.S. agricultural products completely in response to Trump’s announced new $300 billion in tariffs.

  142. says

    From Zack Beauchamp:

    Three days after a white supremacist shooter killed 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, Fox News primetime host Tucker Carlson declared that the threat of white supremacy is a hoax.

    “It’s actually not a real problem in America. The combined membership of every white supremacist organization in this country would be able to fit inside of a college football stadium,” Carlson said in his Tuesday night monologue. “This is a hoax. Just like the Russia hoax. […]”

    Carlson is lying to his viewers. While the number of people in organized white supremacist groups is small as a proportion of the population, their ranks have swelled since Donald Trump began running for president.

    […] Recent white supremacist mass killers — like the one who attacked a black church in Charleston, a synagogue in Pittsburgh, and a heavily Latino group of Walmart patrons in El Paso — have not been card-carrying members white supremacist groups. They are radicalized independently and online […]

    There are many indications that the white supremacist threat is growing. Data from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a Jewish anti-hate group, right-wing extremists were responsible for the vast bulk of documented killings by political extremists in the United States in 2018. FBI Director Christopher Wray said in late July testimony that the FBI had already made as many domestic terrorism arrests in 2019 as it did in all of 2018 — and, further, that “a majority of the domestic terrorism cases that we’ve investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence.”

    So why is Carlson so vehemently denying that white supremacy is a problem? Maybe because he’s embraced a worldview disturbingly similar to that of outright racists.

    This is a man who once said immigrants are making America “poorer, and dirtier, and more divided” and who argued that “if you’re a leader of Western civilization you ought to believe it’s superior” to non-Western societies. This is a man who has parroted white nationalist talking points about South Africa’s black leadership seizing land from white farmers.

    […] This is a man who has referred to nonwhite immigration into the United States as an “invasion” over and over and over again, the exact same language that the El Paso shooter used in his manifesto.

    Andrew Anglin, founder of the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer, has referred to Carlson as “literally our greatest ally” — describing his hourlong broadcast as “basically ‘Daily Stormer: The Show.’” Alt-right figurehead Richard Spencer praised him as “very intelligent.” David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, once tweeted “God bless Mr. Carlson.” […]

    Carlson is not a fringe figure in the conservative movement. He is one of Trump’s favorite pundits […]


    Trump TV, a propaganda outlet for white supremacy.

  143. says

    Followup to comment 212.

    From Wonkette: “If Tucker Carlson Doesn’t Believe In White Supremacy, How Can He Believe In Himself?”

    Did you think for a minute that the racist-fueled murders of 22 people in El Paso this weekend would cause bigoted half-wit Tucker Carlson to reconsider his life choices? If so, you’re obviously high on Hallmark movies. The Fox News host spent most of Tuesday’s show blaming Democrats for “dividing” Americans based on their identity and otherwise raising mobs against decent people like Donald Trump donors and — LOL — Mitch McConnell. […]

    Carlson uses classic abuser rhetoric when he claims the “Left” is “dividing” the nation. Like most conservatives, Carlson hates at least half the country. He self-divides himself from us every night. But, sure, whatever, Tucker, the Democratic Party — the one with all the minorities — is the racist party. […] This more accurately describes the current White House squatter, who calls Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” and claims Beto O’Rourke tricked Hispanics into liking him by changing just his first name. But Carlson believes Trump goes out of his way to combat the true racism plaguing the nation […]

    Carlson spread the popular right-wing lie that Trump has never endorsed and enabled white supremacy. White supremacists just love him because he’s dapper and charming. Carlson complained that Trump “condemned [white supremacy] anyway” — like he’s doing us a favor — but liberals weren’t satisfied. We thought he “didn’t really mean it.” That’s because Trump’s unscripted rants on Twitter or at his hate rallies probably reveal his true beliefs more than scripted words on a teleprompter that he can’t even read correctly. […]

    A guy with a prime-time TV show that millions of gullible white people watch daily just called white supremacy a “hoax” and “conspiracy theory.” Those Nazis marching in Charlottesville were all Lee Strasberg students. They were so method they literally killed a woman. This is dumber than claiming the moon landing was staged. The moon is very far away. It’s a short drive to a Trump rally. […]


  144. says

    Daily Beast – “Classmate Says Dayton Shooter Targeted Her in High School: ‘We Predicted He Would Do This’”:

    Jessica Masseth was months into her sophomore year at Bellbrook High School in Ohio when she started getting disturbing text messages from a freshman named Connor Betts.

    Betts texted that Masseth was on his “rape list,” describing in detail “what he wanted to do” to her, she said—even sending her the list of all of his proposed victims to prove she wasn’t the only one.

    Finally, Masseth said she had enough and went to the police.

    “I was not surprised at all when I heard his name on the news yesterday,” she said. “We predicted he would do this 10 years ago.”

    Police said they do not have a motive for Betts’ deadly rampage, but Masseth, other classmates, and ex-girlfriends said he expressed violent attitudes going back a decade.

    Word spread quickly in 2010 about the lists of 15 classmates he wanted to “rape or kill” in a notebook he carried around, Masseth said.

    “He had a kill list that was mostly guys and then a rape list that was mostly girls,” Masseth said, adding that he also texted her the list to prove she was on it. “The lists basically had any girl who turned him down, any girl who thought they were above him, and any guy that was competition or was seen as a threat.”

    Police declined to comment on the purported lists, citing the “ongoing investigation” into Betts’ mass murder.

    Masseth, who said she was “not one of the popular girls,” was shocked when she started to get Betts’ texts naming her as one of the girls on his “rape list.” The texts, she said, made it seem like Betts had a “God complex mixed with ‘I want attention.’”

    “In the texts, and on the lists, he talked about destruction and dismemberment. I mean how did the police not know he was going to do something like what he did this weekend?” she said. “Everyone knew he was not right.”

    After “countless texts” and growing concern in school about the lists, Masseth said she finally told her mother, who encouraged her to contact the authorities.

    Another former classmate, who spoke to The Daily Beast but asked not to be named, said she learned she was on the list when she was questioned by police in the principal’s office one morning.

    “There was chatter at school that a kid was taken off the bus by the police but we weren’t really sure who it was,” she said. “But then police started asking me questions about Connor Betts and whether there was any reason he would want to hurt me.”

    The former student said the list was conveyed to her as a “kill, dismember, and rape list.”

    Police officers pulled Betts off a school bus as they headed to school, a former classmate told The Washington Post.

    Masseth said police questioned Betts about the hit lists and he was suspended from school.

    The following year he returned to school, she said. When she graduated in 2012, Betts was still “not right.”

    “He basically got a slap on the wrist,” she said. “If he was only held accountable, this shooting would have never happened because he wouldn’t have been able to buy any firearms. There are levels of failure here.”

    Two women who say they dated Betts spoke out on late Monday, alleging he described himself as mentally ill, with violent thoughts about himself and other people. Both women said they ended their relationships because he was too aggressive.

    “He would cry to me sometimes saying how he’s afraid of himself and afraid he was going to hurt someone one day,” Lyndsi Doll, who dated Betts in high school, told the Washington Post.

    Adelia Johnson told NBC News the two dated this past spring and that on their first date, he showed her video from a mass shooting at a synagogue and often brought up mass murders. Johnson wrote on Medium that Betts had “inappropriate” thoughts and once told her he “wanted to hurt a lot of people,” as she put it. She broke up with Betts after witnessing him stalk another ex-girlfriend….

    I still can’t believe they let this guy return to school.

  145. says

    Wow – “BREAKING: Puerto Rico Supreme Court is unanimous: Law 7 is unconstitutional and thereby @pedropierluisi’s swearing in as Governor is declared invalid.

    He must now leave office. @wandavazquezg is next in line to take over.

    BREAKING: @wandavazquezg is set to become Governor of Puerto Rico at 5pm, today, when the Supreme Courts ruling takes effect .

    The ruling: Law 7, under which Pedro Pierlusi was sworn in as Governor, is unconstitutional, so Pierluisi’s authority has been invalidated.

    IMPORTANT: Law 7 is still valid, but the exception included in the law, in 2005, regarding the Secretary of State, is what the court declared unconstitutional.

    Over the past few days, when I, & others, referred to @pedropierluisi as ‘the man who claims to be puerto rico‘s governor’, it wasn’t a slight to Pierluisi; it was valid context at a time when no one was legally sure. The court has now said, Pierluisi’s Governorship was invalid.

    BREAKING: Puerto Rico Justice Secretary @wandavazquezg says she will assume the position of Governor of Puerto Rico, given the decision of the PR Supreme Court that the swearing in of @pedropierluisi was unconstitutional.”

  146. says

    Summing up:

    “What’s happening in Puerto Rico is important:
    Ricardo Rossello resigned last Friday.
    Pedro Pierluisi took over.
    PRs Supreme Court ruled Pierluisi must leave because his oath of office was unconstitutional.
    Wanda Vázquez becomes Governor at 5pm.
    Protests, against her, are expected.”

  147. says

    NPR – “Federal Judge Orders Release Of Khashoggi Records By U.S. Government”:

    A judge in New York ordered federal agencies to produce thousands of pages of documents pertaining to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist and U.S. resident who was slain in his country’s consulate in Turkey last year.

    U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer instructed the departments of State and Defense to produce some 5,000 pages monthly related to the killing of the Washington Post columnist. The judge said that the information about Khashoggi’s disappearance and death is of “considerable public importance.”

    Representatives from the departments argued that complying with the order for the documents under the Freedom of Information Act would make it impossible to respond to other FOIA requests.

    The original request for the government’s documents was made by the Open Society Justice Initiative, the legal arm of the Open Society Foundations….

    Engelmayer said the Open Society’s FOIA request had “obvious and unusual time sensitivity,” as quoted by The Associated Press.

    “This ruling is a clarion call for accountability at a time when the Trump administration is doing everything possible to hide the truth on who is responsible for Khashoggi[‘s] murder,” said Amrit Singh, the Open Society’s lead attorney for the case, in an emailed statement.

  148. says

    BREAKING: Pelosi confirms in letter that Judiciary Committee will go to court TODAY to force Don McGahn to testify.

    The suit — which still hasn’t posted publicly yet — comes more than two months after McGahn first blew off a Judiciary Committee subpoena, deferring to the Trump White House’s claim that he was immune from testifying.”

  149. says

    From John Cassidy, writing for The New Yorker:

    Let us not kid ourselves: in many ways, the United States was failing before Donald Trump took his famous ride down the escalator at Trump Tower. Rampant inequality in income and wealth; politicians beholden to rich donors; an educational system that performs poorly relative to that of other countries; an antiquated electoral system that empowers a rural minority; mass incarceration, especially of young males of color; an opioid epidemic; super-lax guns laws that lead to ludicrous levels of violence: all these things predate Trump, and they will almost certainly outlast him.

    But what the United States didn’t have, until January, 2017, was a President whose personal instincts and political strategy drive him to inflame the country on a daily basis. […]

    [Trump] has, it seems, never seen a fight he didn’t want to enter, a fissure he didn’t want to enlarge, a connecting rod he didn’t want to splinter. During the 2016 campaign, he called for a blanket ban on Muslims entering the United States; labelled Mexican immigrants as criminals, rapists, and drug dealers; and attacked Khizr and Ghazala Khan, two Pakistani-born American citizens whose son had been killed in Iraq while serving in the U.S. Army. After he took office, Trump’s incitement continued, of course. Appearing at a maga rally in Florida this May, he brought up migrants crossing the southern border and asked the crowd, “How do you stop these people?” Someone in the audience shouted out, “Shoot them.” Rather than rebuking this person, Trump paused, smirked, and quipped, “That’s only in the Panhandle you can get away with that stuff.”

    How are we to process such flagrant irresponsibility and heartlessness? On Monday, the Democratic representative Veronica Escobar, whose district includes much of El Paso, Texas, found one appropriate response, saying that, as far as she was concerned, the President wouldn’t be welcome this week in the grief-stricken city. […]

    A bigger and even more appropriate response would be for the two parties to finally come together and tighten up the gun laws, whose permissiveness is impossible to explain to anyone outside the United States […] In a post on Monday, my colleague Adam Gopnik cited numerous proposals that even many gun owners would support: “Background checks, an effective assault-weapons ban, a complete ban on large magazines, and licensing and training, and insurance, minimally comparable to those that we all accept for car ownership, for gun ownership.”

  150. says

    Followup to SC @221.

    From Hunter at DailyKos:

    […] Gosh. When you put it that way, mass murder seems a small price to pay to get to see ROCK STAR DONALD TRUMP in your hospital. It is just super that everyone had such a great time there.

    Donald, Donald! I love you sir, will you sign my breathing tube? Donald, please take a picture next to my dying loved one! This is just the best day ever!

    Mmm-hmm. I dare say the Trump White House is getting classier by the hour.

    Meanwhile, Donald Trump is making his way to El Paso. He’s extremely torn up about the suffering he’s seen, you’ll notice.

    Watching Sleepy Joe Biden making a speech. Sooo Boring! The LameStream Media will die in the ratings and clicks with this guy. It will be over for them, not to mention the fact that our Country will do poorly with him. It will be one big crash, but at least China will be happy!

  151. Chris J says

    Watching Sleepy Joe Biden making a speech. Sooo Boring! The LameStream Media will die in the ratings and clicks with this guy. It will be over for them, not to mention the fact that our Country will do poorly with him. It will be one big crash, but at least China will be happy!

    Petty, but I find it fun that he’s talking about how things “will” happen rather than “would.” Like Trump is expecting to lose. :P

  152. says

    Many on cable news have done a good job, but there’s been an almost constant ghoulish insistence on asking people who are grieving, terrified, and angry in these communities things like “But why can’t you give Trump a chance and see if he’ll come and help everyone heal?” Like everyone is supposed to adopt their fruitfly memory, obliviousness, and willingness to respond to abuse, threats, and insults with flattering distortions of reality.

    This sick fuck will always be this way. No one in their right mind thinks he’s going to be anything different. He’s psychologically and intellectually unfit. He’s a danger. He’s inciting terrorism. Stop with the unprofessional willfully imbecilic refusal to see what’s plainly happening. Face the reality and report it as such, media.

  153. says

    De Blasio is leading the field with 26% in the YouGov/Economist poll — for the category of ‘presidential candidates that you would be disappointed if they became the Democratic nominee’.”

    About the same as Marianne Williamson (25%). Followed by Gabbard, Biden, and Sanders grouped together (19, 18, 17%). The others are in a bunch down to Inslee and Buttigieg at 10%. The only candidates in single digits are Castro at 9% and Warren at 8%. Interesting.

  154. says

    [Total tangent: I think he’s worn it before and I’ve thought the same thing – can’t remember – but I love Chris Hayes’s tie. Jelani Cobb in the light blue shirt and jacket looks great, too.]

  155. says

    Eric Holthaus reports on the IPCC Special Report on Climate Change and Land:

    …OK, the press conference has ended. Here are the report’s major findings:

    “Keeping global warming to well below 2ºC can be achieved only by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors including land and food.”

    “Land must remain productive” so that people will have enough food as the climate rapidly changes, so the world cannot simply depend on a single solution, like planting trees on arable soil, as a substitute for rapid and transformative change in all aspects of society.

    “Agriculture, forestry and other types of land use account for 23% of human greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time natural land processes absorb carbon dioxide equivalent to almost a third of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry” — Jim Skea, IPCC

    “Land already in use could feed the world in a changing climate” but not if land degradation continues to accelerate.

    “Very high risks related to permafrost degradation and food system instability are identified at 2°C of global warming”

    “Coordinated action to address climate change can simultaneously improve land, food security and nutrition, and help to end hunger.”

    “Climate change is affecting all four pillars of food security: availability (yield and production), access (prices and ability to obtain food), utilization (nutrition and cooking), and stability (disruptions to availability).”

    “Food security will be increasingly affected by future climate change through yield declines, increased prices, reduced nutrient quality, and supply chain disruptions,” with “drastic impacts on low-income countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.”

    “Balanced diets featuring plant-based foods, such as coarse grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, and animal-sourced food produced sustainably in low greenhouse gas emission systems, present major opportunities for adaptation to and limiting climate change.”

    During the press conference, the authors were careful to stress that the IPCC doesn’t make recommendations outside its mandate — it’s not telling the world to become vegetarian — but said plant-based diets would help lessen global warming.

    I’ll let you read between the lines.

    “An overall focus on sustainability coupled with early action offers the best chances to tackle climate change. This would entail low population growth and reduced inequalities, improved nutrition and lower food waste.”

    This report’s scope was on land and soil itself — not biodiversity, not cities, not transportation or fossil fuel use.

    But it’s clear that without intense focus on the land that underlies all terrestrial life on Earth, we won’t solve the biggest existential threat in history.

  156. says

    Politico – “Iraqi man dies after Trump administration deports him”:

    A 41-year-old Detroit man deported to Iraq in June died Tuesday, according to the American Civil Liberties Union and two people close to the man’s family.

    The man, Jimmy Aldaoud, spent most of his life in the U.S., but was swept up in President Donald Trump’s intensified immigration enforcement efforts.

    Edward Bajoka, an immigration attorney who described himself as close to Aldaoud’s family, wrote on Facebook that the death appeared to be linked to the man’s inability to obtain insulin in Baghdad to treat his diabetes. Aldaoud was an Iraqi national, but he was born in Greece and came to the U.S. as a young child, his family friend said. He had never lived in Iraq and did not speak Arabic, according to Bajoka.

    “Rest In Peace Jimmy,” Bajoka wrote. “Your blood is on the hands of ICE and this administration.”

    The Trump administration has sought to deport more than 1,000 Iraqis with final orders of removal, including Chaldean Catholics in the Detroit metro area, of which Aldaoud was one. Chaldeans are an eastern branch of the Roman Catholic church who trace their roots to ancient Mesopotamia in present-day Iraq, where they are at high risk of being tortured or killed by the the terror group ISIS, the American Civil Liberties Union argued in a related legal case.

    “Jimmy Aldaoud … should have never been sent to Iraq,” Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) said in a written statement. “My Republican colleagues and I have repeatedly called on the executive branch to cease deportation of such vulnerable people. Now, someone has died.”

    Advocates point out that many Chaldeans targeted for deportation have spent years or decades in the U.S.

    Miriam Aukerman, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the immigrants in a class-action lawsuit, warned that continued deportations by Immigration and Customs Enforcement could put more people at risk.

    “Jimmy’s death has devastated his family and us,” she said in a written statement. “We knew he would not survive if deported. What we don’t know is how many more people ICE will send to their deaths.”

    The battle over the fate of the immigrant group has played out in Michigan, a state that Trump won by a narrow margin in 2016. Many in the Chaldean community supported Trump‘s candidacy and feel betrayed now….

  157. says

    TPM – “WSJ: Banks Hand Over Trump Docs To House, State Investigators”:

    Investigators targeting President Trump’s financial and business history may have found a way around the White House’s blocking of congressional subpoenas, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

    Banks have been handing over thousands of pages of documents related to business ties between Russians and Trump to congressional committees investigating the President, while other banks have been producing information to New York state investigators probing the Trump org.

    Letitia James – New York’s attorney general – has reportedly gotten information about loans to the Trump org, potentially offering a tantalizing view of the notoriously opaque group’s financial makeup.

    A joint investigation by the House Financial Services and Intelligence committees hit a roadblock in May after Trump sued to block subpoenas issued to two of his longtime lenders – Deutsche Bank and Capital One. Those subpoenas targeted information on the financial history of Trump himself, that of his immediate family, and of his closely held business entities.

    But the records being provided by the banks, both to James and to congressional investigators, could shed light on some of the same topics targeted by the subpoenas, providing a potential end-run around the ongoing legal battles.

    The banks that have been providing information reportedly include Bank of America, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo….

  158. says

    In the category of “getting worse, not better”: “[…] it’s become increasingly common in GOP circles not just to support Donald Trump, but also to be hostile toward checks and balances that our system of government imposes on him.”

    The Pew Research Center recently conducted a national survey asking Americans whether they believe “problems could be dealt with more effectively if U.S. presidents didn’t have to worry so much about Congress or the courts.” Fortunately, most of the public rejected such an approach.
    But it’s worth pausing to note how Republican voters in particular responded to the question.

    The survey by Pew Research Center, conducted July 10-15 among 1,502 adults, finds that Republicans’ views on this question have changed markedly since last year. About half of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (51%) now say it would be too risky to give presidents more power, down from 70% last year.

    The share of Republicans who say presidents could operate more effectively if they did not have to worry so much about Congress and the courts has increased 16 percentage points since then, from 27% to 43%. […]

    Yes, so most of the public rejects an approach that weakens checks and balances, but Trump supporters do not.

    To clarify:

    […] these GOP voters don’t necessarily think presidents could do a better job solving problems without “having to worry so much” about Congress and the courts; they simply think Donald Trump could do a better job with expanded authority.

    […] the Pew Research Center’s report got me thinking about our earlier coverage of remarks former Supreme Court Justice David Souter delivered in 2012 – long before anyone envisioned Trump’s rise to power – about the dangers and cost of “civic ignorance.”

    “I don’t worry about our losing republican government in the United States because I’m afraid of a foreign invasion. I don’t worry about it because I think there is going to be a coup by the military as has happened in some of other places. What I worry about is that when problems are not addressed, people will not know who is responsible. And when the problems get bad enough, […] some one person will come forward and say, ‘Give me total power and I will solve this problem.’

    “That is how the Roman republic fell. Augustus became emperor, not because he arrested the Roman Senate. He became emperor because he promised that he would solve problems that were not being solved.

    “If we know who is responsible, I have enough faith in the American people to demand performance from those responsible. If we don’t know, we will stay away from the polls. We will not demand it. And the day will come when somebody will come forward and we and the government will in effect say, ‘Take the ball and run with it. Do what you have to do.’

    “That is the way democracy dies. And if something is not done to improve the level of civic knowledge, that is what you should worry about at night.” […]


  159. says

    Farmers have had it up to HERE:

    […] Gary Wertish, president of the Minnesota Farmers Union, drew applause as he leveled criticism of the administration’s trade policy at a forum with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in front of thousands of farmers gathered in a metal barn for a panel discussion.

    American farmers took a fresh financial hit from Trump’s trade war over the weekend as China announced a halt to all U.S. agricultural imports after the president threatened Beijing with another tariff increase.

    Wertish criticized Trump’s “go-it-alone approach” and the trade dispute’s “devastating damage not only to rural communities.” He expressed fears Trump’s $28 billion in trade aid will undermine public support for federal farm subsidies, saying the assistance is already being pilloried “as a welfare program, as bailouts.”

    Bloomberg News link

    From Trump:

    As they have learned in the last two years, our great American Farmers know that China will not be able to hurt them in that their President has stood with them and done what no other president would do. And I’ll do it again next year if necessary!

    Trump also claimed that farmers are doing “great” again. No, they are not.

    […] The same Bloomberg News article noted comments from Brian Thalmann, president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, who noted the president’s recent assertion that farmers are doing “great” again.

    “We are not starting to do great again,” Thalmann told the Agriculture secretary. “We are starting to go down very quickly.” […]

    Trump has convinced himself that no such problems exist.

    […] As recently as May, the president said he’d “never heard … any of the farmers speak badly” about his trade agenda. As recently as last week, a reporter told Trump about a conversation with a soybean farmer who said the administration’s tariffs had created a “crisis” for his business.

    “Well,’ Trump replied, “you interviewed the wrong farmer.” […]

    As Steve Benen summed it up:

    […] putting their livelihoods on the line as the amateur president pursues a trade war he doesn’t fully understand and hasn’t fully thought through. […]


  160. says

    Effing Wayne LaPierre … Trump should tell him to “be quiet.”

    […] Trump, speaking to reporters Wednesday before visiting Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, where weekend shootings left 31 dead, said there “was great appetite for background checks” amid an outcry over government inaction in the face of repeated mass shootings. […]

    NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre spoke with Trump on Tuesday after the president expressed support for a background check bill and told him it would not be popular among Trump’s supporters, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss internal talks. LaPierre also argued against the bill’s merits, the officials said. […]

    Advisers to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he would not bring any gun-control legislation to the floor without widespread Republican support. […]

    The president has discussed with aides the idea of a Rose Garden bill-signing ceremony for gun-control legislation, a notion that seems premature to many in the West Wing. […]

    Washington Post link


  161. says

    Followup to SC’s comments 232 and 235.

    It looks like taxpayers paid for another campaign jaunt for Trump:

    […] the White House released a campaign-style video of Trump during his day trip, which was soon followed by another campaign-style video. The point of both clips seemed to be to convey to the public that the president was well received during his local hospital visits. (He also promoted a series of hagiographic photographs, each of which featured him and people smiling around him. The press was told the hospital visit was “not a photo-op.” Reality suggests otherwise.)

    It was the latest in a series of presidential leadership tests. It was also Donald Trump’s latest failure.

    The whole point of the day was supposed to be about grieving, compassion, and healing. For the president, however, the point of the day was himself, his grievances, and whether he felt satisfied with the level of support he’d received.

    In a time of crisis, many hoped Trump would rise to the occasion. He didn’t. By all appearances, he doesn’t know how. […]


  162. says

    Bellingcat with more re their previous blockbuster reporting – “Commuting To Moscow: Lega Nord’s Pilgrimage To Russia”:

    A new joint investigation by Bellingcat and BuzzFeed News together with our Russian investigative partner, The Insider, has established that Savoini made an extraordinary number of trips to Moscow in the last five years, often flying in on one day and out the following day. He made at least 14 visits in 2018 alone, and a further three in the first three months of this year. On some of the trips, Savoini was accompanied by another Lega Nord functionary who is currently a paid advisor to the Italian government. Both Italians’ migration records appear to have been purged from Russian government databases….

    Much, much more – including context/background from their previous reports – at the link.

  163. says

    Such a good piece by Brian Beutler at Crooked Media – “Members of the Press, WTF Indeed!”:

    What did Beto O’Rourke mean this week when he asked reporters covering the white terrorist massacre in El Paso, TX, “members of the press, what the fuck?”

    With those seven words, or maybe just the last three, O’Rourke captured widespread frustration with a political media that often refuses to see President Trump for what he is, and the political media spent the next 24 hours deepening that frustration.

    Trump had just incited a racist mass murder in Texas, but after he read haltingly from a teleprompter, we were told, “He really did set a different tone than he did in the past when it comes to condemning this hate.” The New York Times processed the day’s developments with an astonishing but provisional A1 headline that blared “TRUMP URGES UNITY VS RACISM” before backtracking to a less insulting, but still upside-down version, “ASSAILING HATE, NOT GUNS.”

    This familiar, through-the-eyes-of-babes routine explains why O’Rourke’s comments went viral. But in full context, O’Rourke didn’t just call on journalists to stop letting Trump’s speechwriters dictate their headlines and analysis. He asked them to meet a larger challenge.

    The reporter’s question was “Is there anything in your mind that the president can do now to make this any better?”—phrased like many before it to elicit another plaintive call for Trump to lead. Two and a half years into his presidency and four years since he launched his campaign, this is a bit like reading a history of the United States and wondering a few chapters in why Nathan Bedford Forrest wouldn’t just play nice.

    O’Rourke responded, “What do you think? You know the shit he’s been saying. He’s been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. I don’t know, like, members of the press, what the fuck? Hold on a second. You know, it’s these questions that you know the answers to. I mean, connect the dots about what he’s been doing in this country. He’s not tolerating racism, he’s promoting racism. He’s not tolerating violence, he’s inciting racism and violence in this country. So, um, you know, I just—I don’t know what kind of question that is.”

    If you accept, as you should, that Trump’s racist incitement is neither accidental, nor some unthinking cynicism that he can be talked out of, but a symptom of his profound moral deformities, the only earnest answer to the question—what can he do to make this better?—is that he should vanish. He can not stop being who he fundamentally is. He will not resign from office, repent, and enter seclusion. He does the bad things he does for reasons that are neither mysterious nor irrational, and so he can’t make things better any more than peddlers of junk food, narcotics, alcohol, and tobacco can improve the country’s physical health. A terrorist attack may not have been Trump’s goal exactly, but to the extent that it confirms he has successfully nurtured hatred, paranoia, and grievance, he is not unhappy about it.

    And this is why O’Rourke’s challenge, connect the dots, won’t just be hard for many political journalists to meet—it helps explain why they adopt the naive pose in the first place. Trump isn’t just rotten in this one realm, but in all that he does, and connecting the dots would require journalists inclined to cover campaigns and “normal” partisan combat to look aghast at a sinister pattern of behavior, and alert the country to it.

    Today, before our eyes, Trump and his allies seek to crush the foundations of multiracial democracy and replace them with a white ethnostate where the ruling class directs violence at scapegoat communities to create the climate it needs to get away with looting the country and dismantling all checks on its power. If you can see that, and articulate it, you don’t ask what Trump might do to make things better, or say he “urges unity vs. racism.” If you can’t see it, or your job requires you to blind yourself to it, you must treat his ultimate purposes as an impenetrable mystery. You might explain away his efforts to end an investigation of an attack on the United States, and his coziness with the perpetrator, as impulses of a man who merely worries the Russia matter undermines his legitimacy. You might marvel at his occasional, scripted, disingenuous condemnations of all the forces he has fostered, and chase down Democrats to ask them if they think Trump is racist. But seriously: What the fuck?

    More at the link.

  164. Akira MacKenzie says

    Lynna, OM @ 253

    In a time of crisis, many hoped Trump would rise to the occasion.

    Many? Who’s “many,” and how, after all Trump has said and done throughout his very public life, would make anyone think he’d be anything other than the obnoxious ass that he is?

  165. tomh says

    Opinion piece from the NYT. One can only hope.

    ‘The Squad’ Is the Future of the Democratic Party
    By Barbara Ransby
    Dr. Ransby is a historian who specializes in black politics and social movements and she has written a book on the Black Lives Matter movement.
    Aug. 8, 2019

    Representative Ayanna Pressley broke with traditional diversity politics last month when she said at a conference in Philadelphia, “we don’t need black faces that don’t want to be a black voice.” Instead, “we need you to represent that voice.”

    The members of the so-called squad who were also on the panel nodded in agreement. They are the defiant and unapologetic voices of the communities that produced them. Since being elected last fall, these four progressive Democratic congresswomen have pushed the limits of what most liberals mean by the contested term “diversity. ”

    Some of their colleagues may have preferred that they simply come in and add color to the room — but in every other way behave as their long-established white predecessors have.

    But they have a different agenda. They have a transformative notion of diversity that comes with a different set of expectations and metrics. They insist on bringing the concerns of historically marginalized communities into the rooms where decisions are made, even when that is seen as impolite or inappropriate.

    This is evident through their politics, priorities and style — not only their presence. Consider Rashida Tlaib’s “Lift + Act” bill, which comes as close as any to advancing the radical economic principle of universal guaranteed income that Martin Luther King Jr. so eloquently advocated some 50 years ago.

    They’re exposing the false belief that American foreign policy is infallible. This is exemplified by their critique of Washington’s unconditional support for Israel. And recall the memorable hearing in February when Ilhan Omar challenged Elliott Abrams, a Trump administration official, over his role in supporting Central American death squads in the 1980s.

    All of them, along with some other Democrats, have called for the outright abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement because of its widely publicized mistreatment of migrant families and children.

    The squad understands that “diversity” is meaningless if the measure of success is “sameness.” The congresswomen are choosing to do politics a different way because they recognize that Congress has never worked for their communities.

    From the start, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was urged to stay in her place when she insisted upon committee appointments deemed out of reach for a freshman representative. It was those committees that would have the most impact on the values she was elected to advance, and so she persisted, violating protocol in the process.

    She was doing something unprecedented when, as a political neophyte, she introduced the Green New Deal resolution without support from the party leadership. Similarly, Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Omar have called for President Trump’s impeachment and passionately advocated the rights of Palestinians, breaking with the more tactically conservative approach of the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, on both matters. However, as the scholar-activist Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor wrote in Jacobin, they don’t just represent different personalities vis-à-vis Ms. Pelosi but different worldviews.

    Over the past nine months, the squad’s members have made good on their promises to be agents of change, not just fresh faces. Radical inclusivity means that people from different communities, backgrounds and ideological traditions will do their jobs differently and will bring new sensibilities, commitments and understanding with them when they sit at the tables of power. If they are doing their jobs, they will be accountable to people who sent them there, not maintaining the status quo. Anything less is merely cosmetic.

    One outcome of exclusion and white privilege is that people of color don’t see ourselves reflected in positions of power often enough. That is the least of it. A more consequential outcome is that our communities are underserved, our children racially profiled by the police, unfairly pushed out of schools or locked up in disproportionate numbers. “We expect elected officials to fight hard for a progressive agenda, and we are not cutting anyone slack simply because they look like us,” argues Chinyere Tutashinda, a leader in the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of more than 150 black-led organizations across the country.

    Ms. Tlaib cares deeply about accountability. She often tells her audiences that she proudly represents Michigan’s 13th Congressional District, one of the poorest in the country, with one of the largest black populations of any district. She is committed to serving its interests and speaking with its voice. When, soon after she was sworn into office in January, she proclaimed that “we are going to impeach” the president, that is the constituency she was speaking for: a population that feels assaulted by Republican policies and abandoned by mainstream Democrats.

    The squad has tilled new ground in reanimating a fighting spirit within the Democratic Party and revived its left flank. A more timid approach would have been to go to Washington and blend in. The women’s approach is admirably and courageously to stand out.

    This is threatening and offensive to many of their conservative and, dare I say, racist colleagues. In his typical meanspirited manner, the president has hurled numerous insults at them; others have piled on too. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was all but foaming at the mouth on Fox News in July. They are “a bunch of communists,” he said, “who hate our own country.” And “they stand for all the things most Americans disagree with.”

    Really? A new poll by The Economist and YouGov indicates that each of the four women has a higher approval rating than Mr. Trump himself. And among independent voters, Mr. Trump still loses by more than 6 percentage points to each squad member. Speaker Pelosi, for her part, has alternated among a mild-mannered defense of her junior colleagues, dismissive comments and an outright reprimand in one instance.

    A similar dynamic is playing out in politics around the country, as the noted political strategist Jessica Byrd told me. Her electoral firm, Three Point Strategies, has been helping black activists win elections over the last five years. “Without fail, these women are discounted until the voices of the people they represent become too loud to ignore,” she said. “These elections are an incredible symbol that movement can win and is winning. They are a symbol that accountability is possible.”

    Many young activists feel protective of the congresswomen, seeing their vulnerabilities as linked. Thenjiwe McHarris was one of 100 black women who hosted a rally in April to protest the attacks and threats against Ms. Omar. “What’s happening to the squad is deeply connected to what’s happening to our communities and our progressive movements,” she told me.

    But the squad, and so many other women of color in politics, are not the sit-down-and-shut-up types. And that has earned them widespread adoration. Thousands have signed petitions in their support. The congresswomen collectively enjoy millions of followers on Twitter. And they earn high praise from the millennial activists who have played a monumental but largely unknown role in pushing the party left.

    The Squad was in part propelled to prominence by the Justice Democrats, a millennial-led group that has made the Democratic Party more accountable to its base through recruiting and endorsing candidates in competitive primaries.

    Maurice Mitchell, who now runs the Working Families Party, sees them as central to a seismic shift in electoral politics post-2016. “This moment has radicalized liberals and electoralized radicals,” he told me. Meaning there are new political actors with new agendas and expectations.

    I am reminded of another “diversity” moment when the establishment felt threatened. It was when Sonia Sotomayor was being considered for the Supreme Court in 2009. Her opponents had dredged up a speech from eight years earlier in which she said: “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

    She opined that the experience of racial and gender oppression, learned survival strategies and cultural practices could and should be brought to bear when representatives of marginalized communities assume decision-making roles. This caused quite a stir.

    But what she rightly seemed to suggest was that, if who we are doesn’t matter, we are aiming for tokenism more than transformation of elite institutions. She was also intimating that, if I come in, my family, my community, my elders, my people, will in some form, come with me.

    These women — Justice Sotomayor and the squad — have all insisted upon bringing their whole selves into these insider spaces where women and people of color have been historically told to either “go back” to where they came from, or “listen and learn” in terms of how things are done if they want to succeed. The former message comes from the right, the latter from liberal insiders.

    A key demand of this new generation of activists of color has been accountability. They have seen historic numbers of women and black and brown people elected to office, including the nation’s first black president. That alone is insufficient, they have decided. They have seen the limits of representational politics. They want leaders who are immersed in communities who remember where they came from when they attain positions of power. Or better yet, politicians who never leave in all the ways that matter.

    Well, the squad members, all with varying activist backgrounds, are a part of that generation. They are products of Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, Occupy Wall Street and an increasingly militant immigrant rights movement — bold, game-changing social movements that are not afraid to speak truth to power and upset business as usual.

    If the millennial social movements are not “your grandmother’s” social movements, then the squad members are certainly not your typical “minority” politicians. They are wisely acting as if they represent the demographic majority that their generation will become. It is significant that a majority of millennials polled by Harvard researchers in 2016 rejected capitalism and leaned toward the left politics that these four congresswomen represent. They are the future of the Democratic Party. So are their ideals. And we need more politicians like them.

  166. says

    Guardian – “Revealed: how Monsanto’s ‘intelligence center’ targeted journalists and activists”:

    Monsanto operated a “fusion center” to monitor and discredit journalists and activists, and targeted a reporter who wrote a critical book on the company, documents reveal. The agrochemical corporation also investigated the singer Neil Young and wrote an internal memo on his social media activity and music.

    The records reviewed by the Guardian show Monsanto adopted a multi-pronged strategy to target Carey Gillam, a Reuters journalist who investigated the company’s weedkiller and its links to cancer. Monsanto, now owned by the German pharmaceutical corporation Bayer, also monitored a not-for-profit food research organization through its “intelligence fusion center”, a term that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies use for operations focused on surveillance and terrorism.

    The documents, mostly from 2015 to 2017, were disclosed as part of an ongoing court battle on the health hazards of the company’s Roundup weedkiller. They show:

    Monsanto planned a series of “actions” to attack a book authored by Gillam prior to its release, including writing “talking points” for “third parties” to criticize the book and directing “industry and farmer customers” on how to post negative reviews.

    Monsanto paid Google to promote search results for “Monsanto Glyphosate Carey Gillam” that criticized her work. Monsanto PR staff also internally discussed placing sustained pressure on Reuters, saying they “continue to push back on [Gillam’s] editors very strongly every chance we get”, and that they were hoping “she gets reassigned”.

    Monsanto “fusion center” officials wrote a lengthy report about singer Neil Young’s anti-Monsanto advocacy, monitoring his impact on social media, and at one point considering “legal action”. The fusion center also monitored US Right to Know (USRTK), a not-for-profit, producing weekly reports on the organization’s online activity.

    Monsanto officials were repeatedly worried about the release of documents on their financial relationships with scientists that could support the allegations they were “covering up unflattering research”.

    The internal communications add fuel to the ongoing claims in court that Monsanto has “bullied” critics and scientists and worked to conceal the dangers of glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide. In the last year, two US juries have ruled that Monsanto was liable for plaintiffs’ non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), a blood cancer, and ordered the corporation to pay significant sums to cancer patients. Bayer has continued to assert that glyphosate is safe.

    “I’ve always known that Monsanto didn’t like my work … and worked to pressure editors and silence me,” Gillam, who is also a Guardian contributor and now USRTK’s research director, said in an interview. “But I never imagined a multi-billion dollar company would actually spend so much time and energy and personnel on me. It’s astonishing.”

    Gillam, author of the 2017 book, Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer, and the Corruption of Science, said the records were “just one more example of how the company works behind the scenes to try to manipulate what the public knows about its products and practices”.

    A LinkedIn page for someone who said he was a manager of “global intelligence and investigations” for Monsanto said he established an “internal Intelligence Fusion Center” and managed a “team responsible for the collection and analysis of criminal, activist / extremist, geo-political and terrorist activities affecting company operations across 160 countries”. He said he created Monsanto’s “insider threats program”, leading analysts who collaborated “in real time on physical, cyber and reputational risk”.

    Government fusion centers have increasingly raised privacy concerns surrounding the way law enforcement agencies collect data, surveil citizens and share information. Private companies might have intelligence centers that monitor legitimate criminal threats, such as cyberattacks, but “it becomes troubling when you see corporations leveraging their money to investigate people who are engaging in their first amendment rights”, said Dave Maass, the senior investigative researcher at the Electronic Frontier Foundation….

    Important details at the link. I should note that the concern goes well beyond glyphosate specifically; among other issues, RU contains powerful surfactants. I’m surprised I was unaware of Gillam’s book, but now it’s on my list. Thanks, Monsanto!

    Also in today’s Guardian – “Revealed: FBI and police monitoring Oregon anti-pipeline activists”:

    Law enforcement groups, including the FBI, have been monitoring opponents of a natural gas infrastructure project in Oregon and circulated intelligence to an email list that included a Republican-aligned anti-environmental PR operative, emails obtained by the Guardian show.

    The South Western Oregon Joint Task Force (SWOJTF) and its members were monitoring opponents of the Jordan Cove energy project, a proposal by the Canadian energy company Pembina to build the first-ever liquefied natural gas export terminal on the US west coast, as well as a new 232-mile pipeline that would carry fracked natural gas to the port of Coos Bay.

    The Trump administration has named Jordan Cove as one of its highest-priority infrastructure projects. Jordan Cove opponents have raised concerns about the project’s significant environmental impacts, impacts on public lands, indigenous rights and climate change.

    The emails, obtained via open records requests, reflect the increased scrutiny and surveillance to which law enforcement agencies are often subjecting indigenous and environmental groups, activists say.

    It also comes amid an uptick in civil disobedience and direct actions challenging fossil fuel infrastructure projects – particularly in the wake of the Native American-led struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016 and 2017. They also reflect a nationwide tendency for rightwing partisans, law enforcement agencies and the fossil fuel industry to ally with one another in the suppression of such activities….

    It would be foolish to believe that expanded FBI powers to address the threat of domestic rightwing terrorism wouldn’t be turned against environmental and animal advocates/activists.

  167. says

    The NYT has a headline today reading: “Trump Comes to Console. El Paso Says No Thanks.”

    At this point, I have to conclude that they’re trying to anger their readers with this garbage.

  168. says

    BREAKING: Now Andrew McCabe is suing the FBI & Justice Dept. over his firing, asking a court to find his termination was a ‘legal nullity’ and to let him basically retire as he had planned. Similar to Pete Strzok lawsuit on Tuesday.”

    Very good.

  169. says

    Atlantic – “To Learn About the Far Right, Start With the ‘Manosphere’”:

    …The idea that feminism is decadent, and is destroying Western civilization; the idea that women’s natural role is to have children, and to be subservient to men; the idea that strong men are needed to save the world through violence—all of these arguments are found across extremist websites, and in the words of shooters themselves. Anti-feminist rhetoric is a powerful gateway to violent white nationalism, and it is calculated to appeal to the demographic overwhelmingly responsible for mass shootings: young white men.

    The 28-year-old man awaiting trial over the Christchurch massacre wrote a self-justifying screed titled “The Great Replacement.” It begins: “It’s the birthrates. It’s the birthrates. It’s the birthrates.” The 21-year-old American who allegedly killed 22 people in El Paso, Texas, left behind a four-page document outlining his motivations. Its most consistent theme is the danger of Hispanic “invaders who also have close to the highest birthrate of all ethnicities in America.” The alleged shooter adds: “My motives for this attack are not at all personal. Actually the Hispanic community was not my target before I read The Great Replacement.”

    In all these strands of replacement theory, controlling white female sexuality and reproduction is vital. Women’s sexual and reproductive freedom are seen as threats to civilization itself. It is therefore not surprising that anti-feminism is an entry point to the online far right. “Misogyny is used predominantly as the first outreach mechanism,” Ashley Mattheis, a researcher at the University of North Carolina who studies the far right online, told me. “You were owed something, or your life should have been X, but because of the ridiculous things feminists are doing, you can’t access them.”

    One recruiting ground is the collection of sites known as the “manosphere,” which the British anti-extremism charity Hope not Hate considered a serious enough force to include in its most recent “State of Hate” report. “It’s a very difficult movement to get to grips with,” says the Hope not Hate researcher Simon Murdoch. “It’s a very loose movement. And because it’s online, people are usually anonymous.”

    The manosphere stretches from the kind of lukewarm anti-feminism that would pass virtually unremarked in a newspaper column through to glorifications of extreme misogyny. Although the manosphere’s leading figures have appeared at far-right events, and vice versa, the links between the two are more about an exchange of ideas than shared personnel.

    As young men are drawn deeper into these online communities, the anti-feminist message transforms into one with racial overtones, Mattheis said. “Once you engage with the idea that a social-justice-warrior club and the feminist movement have increased the precarity of men,” she said, “that moves over time into the increased precarity and endangerment of ‘the West.’”

    Anti-feminist ideas work so well as recruiting tools for the far right for three reasons. First, they sit at a particular point in popular discourse: They are widely accepted in mainstream society and can be voiced with minimal pushback, yet still seem “edgy” and iconoclastic….

    Second, anti-feminism offers to address a genuine sense of grievance….

    Finally, anti-feminist ideology has the capacity to become a 360-degree conspiracy theory, similar to the kind of anti-Semitic ideas that flourish online. Feminists are presumed to influence all government decisions, even though women are still underrepresented at every level of elected office….

    Young men who enter this world undergo a “grooming process,” Mattheis adds. Feelings of disaffection are blamed on women, and “as they go down that track, there’s conspiratorial stuff on climate change, corporations, based on someone’s interests.” This is a common feature of online conspiracy theories: Genuine problems are identified and attributed to a single cause, whether that’s the “gynocracy” or the “great replacement.”

    The ideology of the online far right—like other conspiracy-minded parts of the internet—is a messy web of borrowed ideas, some of them contradictory. It draws intellectual firepower from other groups, such as the rationalist and New Atheist movements. These argue that humans are irrational and prone to prioritize feelings over facts, and their adherents sometimes claim that scientific truths are now unspeakable because of political correctness. The leaders of these movements are largely male, which plays into the long-standing association of men with intellect and women with emotion.

    When plugged into the anti-feminist tradition, these ideas translate into a scientific “truth” that men are intellectually and physically superior, and, therefore, that their greater political power and wealth through history are justified. Feminism is unnatural, disruptive—and doomed. Mattheis sees an intriguing mirror between this ideology and that of Islamist terror groups such as the Islamic State. The religious version is that men’s superiority has been divinely ordained, whereas the “secular version is biology, the difference between the male and female brain.” Either way, “it’s a basic founding part of their worldview,” she said. Both ideologies preach that “for men to be strong, women have to be in their right place. That’s what makes society okay.” The manosphere offers disaffected young men a comforting, nostalgic vision: a return to order in a world that can seem frightening and fast-changing.

    After yet more mass shootings, the picture feels bleak. But there is some small consolation: the researchers I spoke with said that the links between anti-feminism and the far right are now being taken seriously. Understanding these links should help us tackle extremism. When I first started writing about sexist online abuse and anti-feminist memes in 2013, there was a widespread perception that these were purely internet-based phenomena, and therefore not serious issues. That view has receded as prominent women have been harassed offline through attacks coordinated and glorified online.

    It is also now apparent that the memes and ideas spread by anti-feminists and other extremist groups have worked their way into mainstream politics….

    More at the link.

  170. blf says

    Amnesty issues travel warning for US over ‘rampant gun violence’:

    Travellers to the US should be “extra vigilant at all times and be wary of the ubiquity of firearms among the population,” Amnesty International said in a statement on Thursday.

    “Avoid places where large numbers of people gather, especially cultural events, places of worship, schools and shopping malls,” said the group […]

    It added: “Exercise increased caution when visiting local bars, night clubs and casinos.”

    Venezuela and Uruguay also issued travel warnings for the US earlier this week over the deadly gun assaults.


    Ernest Coverson, manager of Amnesty’s End Gun Violence Campaign, said, “people in the United States cannot reasonably expect to be free from harm — a guarantee of not being shot is impossible.”

    He added: “Once again, it is chillingly clear that the US government is unwilling to ensure protection against gun violence.”


  171. says

    TPM – “In New Interview, Bill Barr Sees Dirty Harry, Death Wish As Justice Done Right”:

    Want to know what will make Attorney General Bill Barr’s day, especially when it comes to the ineffable yearning for justice?

    According to a recent interview, it may just be Clint Eastwood torturing someone for information by shooting them in the leg.

    “I believe a sense of justice is hardwired into human beings,” Barr recalled during an interview with Crime Story podcast host Kary Antholis. “Don’t ask me why, but it is there and it’s satisfying to see justice done.”

    Barr elaborated on his theory of justice, recalling the Charles Bronson movie Death Wish and Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry, icons of vigilantism in ’70s filmmaking that spawned movie franchises.

    The original 1974 exploitation classic Death Wish tells the story of how a do-gooder Manhattan liberal sees the light after his wife is murdered and his daughter is raped. He becomes a one-man vigilante squad, roaming New York City and executing petty thieves.

    “Death Wish, yeah,” Barr said. “That gives people a sense of satisfaction when they see it.”

    Barr then recalled a scene in 1971’s Dirty Harry where Eastwood’s character – a loose-cannon cop – confronts a serial killer who has surrendered, but buried a hostage alive. Eastwood’s character has seconds in the movie to act to find and rescue the hostage, but the serial killer won’t give up the information.

    In the attorney general’s telling, Dirty Harry “shoots him in the leg or something and the guy tells him where it is.”

    “I say, now, was that an unjust or morally repellent act? Is the reason that the audience applauds when that happens because the audience is morally bankrupt?” Barr asked, incredulously. “Or is there something else going on there?”

    Barr’s response on the podcast came immediately after a discussion about the ongoing response to documented instances of police brutality around the country.

    Antholis had asked Barr about his belief in the so-called “Ferguson effect,” the idea that anti-police brutality protests following the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, have led to more timid police and increased crime rates.

    “If police feel that they are going to be unfairly treated or unjustly disciplined for something they felt was a righteous act of self defense, and there’d be what they feel is unfair Monday morning quarterbacking, they will not take those risks,” Barr said.

    In response to the next question, about his love of the TV show Banshee, Barr said that he enjoyed the show in part because it delves into a “basic tension between justice in the sense of the ultimate outcome versus justice as a process.”

    “Americans have tended recently to view [justice] more as a process, as if the criminal justice process is justice, and it isn’t,” Barr said. “It’s a process that’s supposed to achieve justice, but very frequently doesn’t.”

    “That’s the theme in the Dirty Harry movies,” he added, before also referencing Death Wish….

    This is astonishing on so many levels. The fucking Attorney General praising white vigilantism over law (see #119 above).

    We do have a sense of justice, and it can be exploited. But Barr has no idea how right he is. We want racial justice, gender justice, class justice, global justice, species justice, justice for the poor and exploited and beat down, justice for the victims of Trump and every one of the scumbags he’s pardoned. And even if Barr isn’t impeached and/or tried for his crimes, his career will end in utter disgrace, and his name will long be remembered as a symbol of injustice. And that will be justice.

  172. says

    JUST IN: John Gore — the main @TheJusticeDept official behind Trump admin’s failed #CitizenshipQuestion push — is set to leave DOJ Friday, a person familiar with the matter tells @NPR. Gore is facing allegations of providing false testimony & concealing evidence about the Q.”

  173. says

    Trump tweeted:

    “Sue Gordon is a great professional with a long and distinguished career. I have gotten to know Sue over the past 2 years and have developed great respect for her. Sue has announced she will be leaving on August 15, which….

    ….coincides with the retirement of Dan Coats. A new Acting Director of National Intelligence will be named shortly.”

    It’ll be time, a week from today, for Gordon and Coats to call for Trump’s removal from office. It’ll be time.

  174. says

    Hend Amry: “I’m so so sorry. I have no words. Please let us know if there’s a way we can help.”

    I know there’s no atheist spokestress, but I’ll be that spokestress. We stand with you, Sarah Silverman.

  175. says

    The Hill – “Graham promises ObamaCare repeal if Trump, Republicans win in 2020”:

    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said this week that Republicans would push to repeal ObamaCare if they win back the House and President Trump is reelected in 2020.

    “If we can get the House back and keep our majority in the Senate, and President Trump wins reelection, I can promise you not only are we going to repeal ObamaCare, we’re going to do it in a smart way where South Carolina will be the biggest winner,” Graham said in an interview with a South Carolina radio station.

    “We’ve got to remind people that we’re not for ObamaCare.”…

  176. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    So, anyone want to bet on how long before Sue Gordon gets invited up to the Hill for a long conversation?

  177. says

    Thanks, F.O. Here’s the Warren link for #274.

    a_ray @ #282, I almost suspect there was a coded alert in her handwritten note. :)

    Stephanie Ruhle was just talking about Don Jr. (a “wastrel dweeb,” as Josh Marshall put it yesterday) had tweeted some lie about Gordon being best friends with John Brennan or something. Because Trump’s idiot son should be involved in decisions about who should head US intelligence. Totally normal polity we have now.

  178. says

    Good news – “Brazil Supreme Court Minister Rules to Protect Press Freedom for Glenn Greenwald and The Intercept”:

    In a crucial victory for press freedom in Brazil, Minister Gilmar Mendes, a member of Brazil’s Supreme Court, has barred the Bolsonaro administration and Justice Minister Sergio Moro from investigating The Intercept Brasil and journalist Glenn Greenwald for its reporting on unethical and potentially illegal conduct involving Moro.

    Mendes, in a sweeping decision, wrote that any attempt to investigate journalists for their reporting would “constitute an unambiguous act of censorship” and would violate Brazil’s constitution.

    Mendes and the Car Wash task force have long been at odds. The minister has repeatedly publicly criticized the operation and granted habeas corpus to many suspects that the prosecutors argued should be kept behind bars. This Tuesday, El País published Telegram conversations in partnership with The Intercept that showed Car Wash coordinator Deltan Dallagnol and his colleagues attempted to gather evidence in Switzerland that could possibly provoke Mendes’s impeachment from the court. Such an investigation is illegal since, under Brazilian law, the Supreme Court must approve any investigation into its own members, and no such request was ever filed by the Car Wash task force. Another article from the online news site UOL, published in partnership with The Intercept, showed that the Car Wash prosecutors clandestinely used a third party to contest a ruling by Mendes, in an runaround of their own institutional hierarchy.

    Minister Mendes’s ruling is only preliminary, but the full court may take months or years to take on the case, so Mendes’s ruling may stand for a significant length of time. It is a powerful rebuke of those in the Bolsonaro government who have indicated they would like to sweep aside important press freedom rights for all journalists.

  179. says

    I don’t know why the media lets Trump get away with these ridiculous sessions on the WH lawn. They won’t hold a real press conference. He controls the whole thing. There’s no opportunity for follow-up. Everyone is shouting. You can’t hear the questions over the sound of the helicopter. When Trump’s ignorance is revealed, he can pretend he couldn’t hear. You can’t see who’s asking the questions because the camera is fixed on Trump. It’s completely chaotic. And yet CNN and MSNBC just turn over like a half an hour of their airtime to this live spectacle, and quote Trump’s lies in the chyrons.

  180. says

    Adam Serwer: “The ‘naming and shaming wealthy trump donors is violence’ news cycle is happening because the objective press abhors the disequilibrium of a president who incites racist violence and needs to somehow draw an equivalence.”

  181. blf says

    SC@284, That image and related story is on the current front page of the Grauniad’s site (International edition, at least, did not check the other editions), Anger as grinning Trump gives thumbs-up while Melania holds El Paso orphan.

    I do not see it anywhere currently at France24, Al Jazeera (English), or the Irish Times. In fact, doing a reverse-image search is inconclusive (or I did it wrong), but didn’t really show up at all.

    From the Grauniad’s article:

    The orphaned child, named Paul, had been brought back to the hospital — reportedly at the request of White House during the visit by the Trumps on Wednesday. […]

    […] White House aides had not allowed media into the hospital during the visit, saying it was not a photo op.

    Doctors at the Del Sol medical center in El Paso, where some of the survivors are still being treated, later said the president appeared to “lack empathy” after he boasted during the visit that he drew a larger crowd at a January rally in the city than one held by crazy Beto O’Rourke.


    [Hair furor] tweeted [Dayton mayor Nan Whaley and Ohio senator Sherrod Brown] had been totally misrepresenting what took place inside of the hospital. Their news conference after I left for El Paso was a fraud. It bore no resemblance to what took place with those incredible people that I was so lucky to meet and spend time with. They were all amazing.

    By Friday, Trump’s own aides appeared to concede that his twin visits did not go as planned.

    According to CNN, Trump lashed out at his aides for keeping the cameras away from him, and complained that he wasn’t receiving enough credit after officials blocked reporters and their cameras from entering the two hospitals. White House staff later put out a promotional video of the visits.

    Me me me me me me, it’s all about me. Go machine-gun some more people for me, me, me ! (Oh, and the next time, make sure they are brown or Muslim or black.)

  182. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current live States blog:

    Trump told reporters that Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell was totally on board with considering a background checks bill.

    But McConnell’s team is already reminding reporters that the Senate leader only committed to a discussion on the issue in an interview yesterday […]

    Moscowmitch and hair furor seems to have their lines crossed. And both are lying (hence the eejit quotes), both are beholden to Putin’s NRA: Neither will do (or allow anyone to do) anything useful.

  183. blf says

    This Grauniad headline, Fake anti-Brexit banknotes added to British Museum collection is slightly misleading (the story gets it right). They are “anti-brexit fake banknotes” (image at the link):

    They won’t buy you much, but two anti-Brexit fake banknotes claiming to be from the “Bank of Brexit lies” and declaring themselves to be “for the privileged few” have been deemed of such historical value they have been added to the collection of the British Museum.

    The banknotes, produced by a pro-EU group in Bath, have been doctored to carry the faces of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg. The Johnson design, based on a £10 note, carries the slogan: “I promise not to pay the NHS the sum of £350m pounds”, while the “£50 guinea” Rees-Mogg version declares: “I promise to pay myself more than you”, and carries the fake motto: “Arrogantus Toffo Posterium”.

    Tom Hockenhull, the museum’s curator of modern money, said […] “There’s a long tradition of making parody bank notes for the purposes of spreading a political message or advertising a particular viewpoint, and these fit into that genre.”


    Hockenhull said the museum would gladly collect examples of pro-Brexit banknotes but he was not aware of any that had been produced. “I wonder if that is because the £350m figure is something they would rather forget rather than stick it on a banknote.”


    See the link for a link to higher-quality PDF images which are free to download / print.

  184. tomh says

    @ #291

    Yeah, fat chance. More of the swamp creatures chiming in:

    Sen, John Barrasso, the No. 3 Senate Republican, told reporters, “I want to make sure we protect our constitutional rights and whatever comes up will actually help solve a problem.”

    As for bipartisan background checks legislation, which he previously voted against and has repeatedly fallen short in the Senate, the Wyoming senator said, “I don’t expect things have changed much.”

  185. blf says

    Neat idea, ‘We are human beings too’: migrant-led walking tours tackle hate in Italian cities:

    Essediya Magboul leads a group across the open-air market of Porta Palazzo in Turin on a windy Saturday morning. Stopping at a stall, she picks up a bottle of laban, and gives a detailed account of the meticulous mixing needed to prepare the Middle Eastern yoghurt drink. “It’s a Ramadan must,” she adds, smiling, before continuing to an Arab-owned bakery where the owners offer samples of ghoriba cookies and answer questions.

    I’m not surprised laban — also spelled lben, which is how I know it — is a Ramadan must, the stuff is wonderful. And cooling during hot weather, I’ll drink 2–3 litres of the stuff per week during the summer.

    In the space of a few streets, she takes her guests from Eastern Europe to East Asia, via the Middle East. The walkers could easily be mistaken for tourists, but they are in fact locals.

    Magboul is a Migrantour guide, and the concept is to show Italians the wealth of contributions made to their home cities by migrants. “I hope my storytelling can help Italians see us Muslims in a different light,” adds Magboul, who moved from Morocco to Italy in 2002 and says she has often experienced prejudice because she wears a hijab.

    The Migrantour concept started in Turin in 2010 and has since spread to nine other Italian cities, including Bologna, Naples and Florence. The tours cost an average of €12 and more than 150 guides are employed on a freelance basis.


    On another Turin Migrantour, guide Monica Ilies tells her group how she moved to Italy straight after high school and reunited with her mother after six years apart. “When the Ceausescu regime fell, Romanians were finally free to leave the country and escape poverty,” she explains as they tour a Romanian butcher’s shop.

    “Many, like my mother, landed a job in Italy as domestic workers. Having to grow up without a mother was my hardest challenge as a teenager.” [… S]he is upset by stereotypes that portray Romanians as thieves, sex workers or domestic helpers. “What they don’t see is that migrant mothers make huge sacrifices to provide a better future for their children,” she adds. “It seems absurd having to highlight it, but yes, we are human beings too.”

    One participant, Roberta Comba, is clearly moved by the story. A teacher at a vocational school, she says she joined Migrantours to learn more about the lives of foreign students in her class. “I wanted a chance to feel closer to them,” she says. […]

    [Another guide and the coordinator of Migrantour Turin, Rosina] Chiurazzi says work is under way to make their tours part of the school curriculum. “Current participants are often people who already have positive attitudes towards migration and simply want to learn more,” she says. “So we thought about involving schools through daytime walks, to help educate younger generations. Students often come to us thinking migrants make up 70% of the Italian population today because they’re bombarded with headlines that make them perceive migration as an alien invasion. With accurate data and face-to-face encounters it is easier to fight fake news and unnecessary hate.”


    “There’s a tendency to use the ‘us v them’ narrative today,” participant Stefania Di Pietro says at the end of the tour. “But during the walk Abubakar [Dukuly in Catania Sicily] found a kind of tree that also grows in Sub-Saharan Africa, and joked about how the bad traffic reminded him of home. Noticing geographical and urban similarities between Sicily and Africa helps us challenge that narrative.”


    Flavia Monfrini, the coordinator of Migrantour Catania, says most Sicilian participants tend to be young but she hopes to engage older generations too. “The current government is trying to brainwash us and make us think there’s an emergency we have to protect ourselves from,” she adds, “but the truth is that human mobility is, and will always be, part of our social fabric. Migration has always been the normality, especially here in Sicily.”

    Those pesky Italians, always coming up with clever ideas. In their honour I’m having an Italian-inspired dinner of gnocchi e gamberi, albeit with an French vino. No lben, however, I’m currently out…

  186. says

    Followup to comment 270.

    Pete Hoekstra, the U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands and a former congressman from Michigan, is getting buzz about possibly becoming President Donald Trump’s top intelligence adviser.

    Speaking in Washington on Friday, Trump was asked by reporters about the possibility of Hoekstra being nominated to be the official director of national intelligence and the president has positive words for him.

    “I like Hoekstra a lot,” Trump said.

    Detroit Free Press link

    Steve Benen took a closer look at Hoekstra, who is a liar:

    […] Hoekstra became the butt of jokes in late 2017 after making some very strange claims about the Netherlands — and then getting caught lying about it to a Dutch news outlet. […]

    Hoekstra was so determined to help the Bush/Cheney administration’s position on the war in Iraq that he and then-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) held a press conference to declare, “We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”

    We had not found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

    But perhaps most striking is Hoekstra’s record of handling sensitive information in an unfortunate way. As regular readers may recall, in one especially memorable incident, the Michigan Republican confirmed to the Washington Post, on the record, that Nidal Malik Hasan had exchanged emails with Anwar al-Awlaki. It was a problematic revelation – that federal officials had kept secret for a reason.

    The Atlantic had a related report in 2012, noting senior U.S. intelligence officials who said there were “concerns” about Hoekstra’s loose lips.

    Those concerns were well grounded. In August 2007, Hoekstra wrote an op-ed condemning leaks, but the op-ed itself was accused of including a leak with classified information about U.S. intelligence budgets. In November 2006, Hoekstra pushed the Bush administration to publish online a vast archive of Iraqi documents captured during the war. The idea was to let far-right bloggers “prove” that Saddam had WMD, but Hoekstra’s plan led to the accidental release of secret nuclear research.

    And in 2009, Hoekstra was supposed to keep secret his itinerary in Iraq, but he instead broadcasted his whereabouts on Twitter. […]


  187. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Q: Does your base support background checks?

    TRUMP: I think my base relies very much on common sense and they rely on me in terms of telling them what’s happening.

    […] At the heart of a cult of personality are several key elements, including the belief that the leader is always right. If the leader says up is up, then that’s what his followers are expected to believe. If the leader changes his mind and says up is down, then that becomes the new truth, replacing the old one.

    Trump’s suggestion this morning was that it doesn’t much matter whether his base supports background checks or not. If he supports the policy, his backers will support the policy – because it’s his policy. The president will simply tell them “what’s happening,” at which point they’ll nod in approval.

    It’s how a cult of personality works. […]


  188. blf says

    Lynna@295, Quoting a report, “Hoekstra became the butt of jokes in late 2017 after making some very strange claims about the Netherlands — and then getting caught lying about it to a Dutch news outlet.”

    This incident was logged in this series of threads (apologies for not dredging up the links). Mostly from memory, he said X, and after being quoted as saying X, denied he’d said X, and then the video(? audio?) was produced showing he’d very obviously said X. Which, as I recall, he then denied once again, before finally issuing a not-pology. This was, as I recall, shortly after arriving as the new “ambassador”.

    Even allowing for failings of my memory, he’s a prime example of hair furor’s policy of hiring only teh besting peoples — one which moscowmitch and the other thugs in the senate have been fully compliant with.

    Also, again with memory (with apologies for not bothering to dredge up the links), he’s an extreme Islamophobe.

  189. says

    Bush-era Joint Chiefs chairman: ban assault weapons

    It was 12 years ago this week when the Senate confirmed Navy Admiral Mike Mullen to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. George W. Bush’s choice for the position was so uncontroversial, he faced no opponents and was confirmed by a voice vote. The decorated war veteran remained at the post before retiring in 2011.

    […] endorse closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Mullen also helped take the lead on ending the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

    […] the retired admiral helped debunk the GOP’s Benghazi conspiracy theories. In 2018, he also voiced public skepticism about Donald Trump’s policy toward North Korea.

    With this in mind, it’s not too surprising that Mullen has a new piece in The Atlantic calling for a ban on assault weapons […]

    [T]hese weapons are for war; they are not for sport. Assault weapons are designed to kill as many people as possible in the shortest time possible. As the tragic events last week in El Paso and Dayton attest, these weapons make it virtually impossible for law-enforcement agencies to stop those bent on taking lives. In Dayton, heroic officers responded within 30 seconds, and yet the shooter still killed nine people.

    I had hoped that our political leaders would put saving innocent lives ahead of their careers, if necessary sacrificing their own political ambitions to get this done. But our politicians have proved unwilling to take up the cause or to take risks for the sake of the many citizens, young and old, murdered both before and after Sandy Hook.

  190. blf says

    Lynna@296, Quoting the observation of a personality cult fetishing hair furor. Yep! Quoting myself @290, “Me me me me me me, it’s all about me. Go machine-gun some more people for me, me, me ! (Oh, and the next time, make sure they are brown or Muslim or black.)”

  191. says

    From Church Park, a former U.S. foreign Service official:

    […] Over three tours abroad, I worked to spread what I believed were American values: freedom, fairness and tolerance. But more and more I found myself in a defensive stance, struggling to explain to foreign peoples the blatant contradictions at home. […]

    I touted the strength of the United States’ democracy at the consulate’s 2016 election-night party as a man who campaigned on racism, misogyny and wild conspiracy theories became president-elect. […]

    two senior Foreign Service officers admonished me for risking my career when I signed an internal dissent cable against the ban on travelers from several majority-Muslim countries in January 2017. Among my colleagues at the State Department, I have met neither the unsung hero nor the cunning villain of Deep State lore. If the resistance does exist, it should be clear by this point that it has failed.

    Instead, I am part of the Complacent State. […]

    Every day, we refuse visas based on administration priorities. We recite administration talking points on border security, immigration and trade. We plan travel itineraries, book meetings and literally hold doors open for the appointees who push Trump’s toxic agenda around the world. […]

    Ask to read the commission of any Foreign Service officer, and you’ll see that we are hired to serve “during the pleasure of the President of the United States.” That means we must serve this very partisan president.

    Or else we should quit.

    I’m ashamed of how long it took me to make this decision. My excuse might be disappointing, if familiar to many of my colleagues: I let career perks silence my conscience. I let free housing, the countdown to a pension and the prestige of representing a powerful nation overseas distract me from ideals that once seemed so clear to me. I can’t do that anymore.

    My son, born in El Paso on the American side of that same Rio Grande where the bodies of Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez and his daughter were discovered, in the same city where 22 people were just killed by a gunman whose purported “manifesto” echoed the inflammatory language of our president, turned 7 this month. I can no longer justify to him, or to myself, my complicity in the actions of this administration. That’s why I choose to resign.

    Washington Post link

  192. blf says

    Re Lynna@300, Yeah, when I was sorting out my States passport renewal at a Consulate I will not name, I had a hard time, among other things, of not asking how the hell the (very nice — to me! (privilege speaking)) people could stand working for the corrupt goons in DC.

    As an aside, the security checks were Paranoid. With a capital P. An external anti-crash barrier; high wall; locked gate; entrance only with ID and prior appointment; guard (polite, but wearing body armour) divesting myself of mobile, keys, et al., another locked door, second guard (also polite but no body armour) with a metal detector; a third locked door; and finally access to the consular section itself… with the staff (again, polite) behind thick (bulletproof?) windows (and hard-to-hear!).

    That particular consulate has since has its security “upgraded”. I haven’t been back, so I have no idea what they’ve done now… the rational, obvious, thing, would be a more substantive anti-crash barrier, but I would not be too surprised if they now have more obvious machine-gun pillboxes and require all visitors to be naked (or at least strip-searched). And that’s only for people who are not brown, black, look Muslim, or don’t speak fluent “american”. Anyone who is one of those can just feck off…

  193. blf says

    Me@301, Anyone who is one of those can just feck off… → Anyone who isn’t one of those can just feck off…

    Needless to say, all the locals (buildings, businesses, and so on) were not so paranoid. In fact, at a nearby cafe I got the impression they were somewhat used to people visiting the consulate and then needing a break from mass stoopidity.

  194. says

    Elie Mystal:

    Trump: “Biden is not playing with a full deck.”
    Biden: “Trump’s deck is full of jokers.”

    I really can’t take a full campaign of this. And tbh, you know what I want to hear?

    Trump: Warren isn’t playing with a full deck.
    Warren: Trump’s a fucking asshole. Anyway, here’s my plan.

  195. says

    Miami Herald – “Huge record cache details how Jeffrey Epstein, madam lured girls into depraved world”:

    A chilling picture of how hundreds of girls and young women from around the world were trafficked for sex by Jeffrey Epstein, his alleged madam, Ghislaine Maxwell, and a number of other powerful business and world leaders emerged Friday in court documents unsealed in New York.

    The documents, a portion of the thousands of pages th had been sealed in a 2015 federal defamation case, offer brutal details about Epstein’s trafficking of teenage girls from across the United States, Russia and Sweden — and Maxwell’s obsessive and often abusive quest to provide him with new girls over a span of years in the early to mid 2000s.

    Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who brought the lawsuit against Maxwell and settled it for an undisclosed sum in 2017, is central to the case, providing evidence to substantiate her exploitation at the hands of Epstein and Maxwell through photographs, plane logs and even a medical record from Presbyterian Hospital in New York where Giuffre was taken by Epstein after a particularly abusive sex episode.

    In a 2016 sworn deposition, Giuffre, now 35, also named a number of powerful men she says she was directed to have sex with, including the late scientist Marvin Minsky, modeling scout Jean-Luc Brunel, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, 71, former Senator George Mitchell, 85, Hyatt hotels magnate Tom Pritzker, 69, and prominent hedge fund manager Glenn Dubin, 62. She has previously identified Epstein’s lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, 80, and Prince Andrew, 59.

    All the men Giuffre said she was directed to have sex with have issued denials, with some of them, including Dershowitz, insisting that they never met her. No charges have been filed against anyone other than Epstein, who was indicted last month on two counts of sex trafficking in New York.

    Some of the testimony released Friday is difficult to read, as when one 15-year-old Swedish girl, shaking and crying in despair, told a butler who worked for one of Epstein’s closest friends that she had been taken to Epstein’s island in the Caribbean and forced to have sex with him and others. The butler, in a sworn statement, said the girl, visibly traumatized, told him that Epstein and Maxwell had physically threatened to harm her and seized her passport to keep her on the island, according to the butler’s statement.

    The houseman, Rinaldo Rizzo, worked for Dubin and his wife, Eva, a former Miss Sweden and founder of the Dubin Breast Center at Mount Sinai. Rizzo said that the girl was so distraught she couldn’t recall how she got back to the U.S. mainland but that it was Maxwell who returned her to the Dubin residence in New York.

    The cache of court documents, part of the case’s motion for summary judgment, also shows in 2006, when the Palm Beach police were first investigating Epstein, he was being assisted by Maxwell as part of a pyramid-like scheme the pair operated to lure young girls from around Palm Beach, focusing on schools, colleges and spas.

    Palm Beach Detective Joe Recarey testified in the case that he was never able to question Maxwell, but the fact that the police had evidence of Maxwell’s involvement raises new questions about why the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Florida failed to pursue sex trafficking charges against Epstein, Maxwell and others.

    Giuffre, as part of her sworn testimony, also states that she met both former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore and President Donald Trump, and that Epstein once held a dinner for Clinton on his island, Little St. James, off the coast of St. Thomas.

    She said in a 2016 deposition she met Trump through her father, who worked as a maintenance man at Trump’s Palm Beach home, Mar-a-lago, and that to her knowledge, neither Trump nor Clinton had any intimate contact with “us’’ — referring to girls Epstein kept as sex slaves.

    A three-judge panel agreed to release the documents in April. More are expected to be unsealed in the future.

    Among the documents that have yet to be unsealed is Maxwell’s deposition.

  196. says

    Dahlia Lithwick in Slate – “Trump’s Photo-Op With the Orphaned El Paso Baby Was the Smallest Moment of His Presidency”:

    … Trump cannot function in reality. He lives in a hall of mirrors with his made-for-TV family, as the national security apparatus, the national intelligence apparatus, the foreign service, and foreign policy detonate all around him. And on the rare occasion on which he is called to step out from behind the glass panopticon that he has built, he fails, spectacularly, because that which really matters can’t be tweeted or reduced to a campaign video.

    Americans will soon have to choose whether or not they want to live forever in Donald Trump’s reality—the one in which words don’t matter, and everything is a ratings game, and proximity to the famous and the beautiful is the epitome of a life well lived. If that is the only value left, Donald Trump’s is indeed the presidency perfected. For those of us who still live in reality, the photo-op with the orphaned baby is proof positive that Trump’s is not a big life, or a real life. It’s just smallness, refracted a million times over, which is nevertheless impossibly small.

  197. blf says

    A follow-up to @265, from the current Grauniad live States blog:

    Donald Trump threatened to strike back at countries issuing travel advisories against the US with reciprocal advisories.

    Countries including Uruguay, Venezuela and Japan have issued advisories surrounding travel to the US following multiple mass shootings […].

    When asked about them, according to the Hill, Trump replied: Well, I can’t imagine that. But if they did that, we’d just reciprocate.

    We are a very reciprocal nation, with me as the head. When somebody does something negative to us in terms of a country, we do it to them, he added.

    Look, our country has been taken advantage of by foreign countries, even allies — including allies, and in many cases, more than anybody else, Trump said. We’ve been taken advantage of for many, many years, and it stops. It stopped.

    Japan warned of “the potential for gunfire incidents everywhere in the United States”, and described the country as a “gun society”.

    Uruguay told its citizens to be aware of “growing indiscriminate violence, mostly for hate crimes”.

    Venezuela similarly warned of “the recent proliferation of violent acts and hate crimes”.

  198. says

    Vanity Fair – “The Unbearable Whiteness of Being Ivanka Trump”:

    It must be tough to be Ivanka Trump. As the favored daughter of an openly racist president, and as a woman with a nebulous, nepotistic, and unpaid job as a senior adviser to that man, she is uniquely ill-equipped to condemn white supremacy, the very system that has fueled her unlikely rise to power. Yet there she was Monday, weighing in on the horrific mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, tweeting about the “evil that must be destroyed” to a chorus of guffaws. Has she met her father?

    Being unqualified has never stopped Ivanka before. She’s been floated for jobs ranging from U.N. ambassador to the head of the World Bank, despite the fact that she is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with the New York Attorney General’s Office seeking to ban her for one year from so much as sitting on the board of a charity, following “persistent illegal conduct” at the now defunct Trump Foundation. Her eponymous clothing line (also defunct) managed to get tossed out of Nordstrom, the friendliest, most customer service–oriented retailer in America. Her partner in a fine-jewelry line (also defunct) is reportedly caught up in a $100 million money-laundering scheme in Dubai.

    Despite her abysmal track record, Ivanka continues to fail upward, the Peter Principle in blonde. Just last month, the internet was howling over a video clip showing her attempt to insert herself into a conversation with world leaders at the G-20 summit in Japan, leading to the trending hashtag #UnwantedIvanka. As one of her friends told Vanessa Grigoriadis of New York magazine and the new podcast Tabloid: The Making of Ivanka Trump, Ivanka “really has no idea she’s privileged. She genuinely thinks she’s earned everything she has.”

    Like a grown-up Veruca Salt with a security clearance, Ivanka Trump wants the world, and she wants it now. She is the human embodiment of white privilege, reeking of complicity, as Saturday Night Live so aptly conveyed in a spoof of a fragrance ad. She’s so white that the racists who comprise a significant portion of her father’s “base” don’t seem to care that she converted to Judaism. Literally everything about Ivanka is white,…

    Unfortunately, Ivanka’s enormous sense of entitlement makes her the perfect stateswoman for our corrupt age. She has an ideal job for her skillset and personality: chief enabler. She smiles blandly, wears pretty dresses, offers platitudes about women’s empowerment, and plays diplomat like White House Barbie or a “frum Donatella Versace,” as Grigoriadis put it. And that’s exactly what makes her so dangerous. A recent poll showed that Ivanka had higher net favorability ratings than her father in swing states, meaning that, once again, she could be the “secret weapon,” the calm con artist, who helps her father win in 2020. She has even said she harbors ambitions to be the first female president. God help us.

    As regular Americans struggle to keep from falling into society’s ever fraying safety net—thanks to her father’s policies—Ivanka just keeps rising to the level of her own incompetence, and her incompetence knows no bounds….

    Part of Ivanka’s mass delusion is that she’s a critical cog in the wheels of Democracy. Given her track record, why should anybody be interested in what she has to say about anything? The ultimate privilege, of course, is confidently assuming that people care.

  199. says

    BREAKING / NBC News: The FBI has arrested Conor Climo, age 23, of Las Vegas Nevada for possession of an unregistered firearm.

    He allegedly had an AR-15, rifle, and bomb making materials. He discussed attacks on a synagogue, and Jews. He drew attacks of a gay bar in Vegas.

    The FBI says the person featured in a @KTNV report in 2016, carrying 120 rounds of ammo and his AR-15 on an armed patrol of a neighborhood is the same person they arrested today:…

    [Title of the report: “Armed Citizen on Patrol” – SC]

    The FBI says in court documents that Climo sketched a picture of an attack on a Las Vegas bar catering to homosexuals and he also allegedly sketched two infantry squads attacking the bar with guns from the outside and one attacking it from the inside.”

    “Catering to homosexuals”?

  200. blf says

    ‘Dying of whiteness’: why racism is at the heart of America’s gun inaction (minor formatting changes, not marked):

    The country’s refusal to pass new gun control laws has everything to do with defending racial hierarchy


    According to Dr Jonathan Metzl, a psychiatrist and sociologist at Vanderbilt University, white supremacy is the key to understanding America’s gun debate. In his new book, Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland, Metzl argues that the intensity and polarization of the US gun debate makes much more sense when understood in the context of whiteness and white privilege.

    White Americans’ attempt to defend their status in the racial hierarchy by opposing issues like gun control, healthcare expansion or public school funding ends up injuring themselves, as well as hurting people of color, Metzl argues.

    The majority of America’s gun death victims are white men, and most of them die from self-inflicted gunshot wounds. In all, gun suicide claims the lives of 25,000 Americans each year.

    White Americans are “dying for a cause”, he writes, even if their form of death is often “slow, excruciating, and invisible”.


    Q. What moments in the past few years have demonstrated to you most clearly that it’s impossible to understand America’s gun control debate without talking about whiteness?

    A. The period after a mass shooting is often very telling. When the shooter is white, the context is the individual narrative — this individual disordered white mind. When the shooter is black or brown, all of a sudden the disorder is culture. The narrative we tell then is about terrorism or gangs.


    Q. During a talk at a bookstore in Washington DC, a white nationalist group reportedly interrupted you in protest. What happened?

    A. My dad is a Holocaust survivor and he and my grandparents escaped Nazi Austria. It took them about 10 years to get into this country and they were only allowed because of the bravery of people who stood up and vouched for them. One of those people was in the audience, a man in his 80s who volunteered to be my father’s host. As I was saying this, I look up to the back of the store, and there are nine men and one woman coming in with bullhorns, and chanting. They were saying things like This land is our land and invaders out. They commandeered the talk for about five or 10 minutes. At first people thought it was a joke. And then they got scared. The bookstore is right next door to Comet Pizza, where the Pizzagate shooting happened. And then people, everyday people, stood up and shouted them down. Then they left. It was very well rehearsed. They had a videographer there.

    Q. What connection do you see between white Americans’ daily choices about gun politics and the violent attack we saw in El Paso?

    A. I think we run a risk of conflating all gun owners with mass shooters. I’ve gotten comments on Twitter about people being mentally ill just for wanting to own an AR-15. I don’t see those as productive. Many of the interventions that we’re suggesting, like background checks, are going to have an impact on gun owners. It’s better off if we have a conversation with them. I think that pathologizing all gun owners gets us further away from any kind of solution that might bring people together.

    The only purpose of an AR-15 is to kill people. It is a modified military weapon. If you have an AR-15, you consider killing people. Whilst an AR-15 owner might not be mentally ill, they also probably have no sane reason for wanting a people killing machine. I don’t completely disagree with Dr Metzl here, but suspect he has overlooked a critical point: AR-15s are for slaughtering humans. This raises important doubts about the people who have access to them.

    Much more at the link, albeit no readers’s comments.

  201. says

    From the DoJ press release:

    According to the criminal complaint, Climo was communicating with individuals who identified with a white supremacist extremist organization using the National Socialist Movement to promote their ideology. Members believe in the superiority of the white race and have a common goal of challenging the established laws, social order, and government via terrorism and other violent acts. The organization encourages attacks on the federal government, including critical infrastructure, minorities, and members of the LGBTQ community.

    The complaint alleges that during encrypted online conversations throughout 2019, Climo would regularly use derogatory racial, anti-Semitic, and homosexual slurs. He discussed attacking a Las Vegas synagogue and making Molotov Cocktails and improvised explosive devices, and he also discussed conducting surveillance on a bar he believed catered to the LGBTQ community located on Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas. The criminal complaint also describes that items seized by law enforcement during the execution of an August 8, 2019 search warrant, including a notebook with several hand-drawn schematics for a potential Las Vegas-area attack. The notebook also contained drawings of timed explosive devises. Furthermore, Climo claimed to have tried to recruit a homeless individual for pre-attack surveillance against at least one Las Vegas synagogue and other targets. His recruitment attempts proved fruitless.

  202. says

    blf @ #311 – I don’t know; this sounds entirely sane:

    On Air Force One, @LindseyGrahamSC tells reporters he owns an AR-15 in case “there’s a hurricane, a natural disaster, no power, no cops, no anything” and looters will know not “to come to the AR-15 home.”

    “I think if you show up on the porch with an AR-15 they’ll probably go down the street,” explains @LindseyGrahamSC.

    So Lindsey Graham, a Senator representing South Carolina, who as far as I know lives alone, and was in the military, during a natural disaster of this magnitude will be home with an AR-15 protecting his precious possessions from imaginary looters, who will presumably arrive by boat, while others fend for themselves.

    Lindsey Graham, capitalist hero.

  203. says

    Oh! It’s evidently this one: “Ads Pulled for Gory Universal Thriller ‘The Hunt’ in Wake of Mass Shootings.”

    It amuses me to no end that Trump’s and Bannon’s fake populism rests on their standing against the “elite,” but since much of their lives has been a futile, empty quest to be part of the elite, they cannot do it. They must refer to themselves as elites, and their pathetic insistence that they are too elite only makes them look more like posers.

  204. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Dahlia Lithwick in Slate – “Trump’s Photo-Op With the Orphaned El Paso Baby Was the Smallest Moment of His Presidency”

    President: “Hold my Big Mac.”

  205. blf says

    SC@313/314, Ha !
    He’s a thug and hence must be presumed to be lying most of the time. And the idea of an machine-gun toting Lindsey Graham patrolling a hurricane-hit area doesn’t even begin to ring plausible, much less true. (He did serve in the military, but as a lawyer.) As Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge observes:

    […] In 1998, the Capitol Hill daily newspaper The Hill contended that Graham was describing himself on his website as an Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm veteran. Graham responded: I have not told anybody I’m a combatant. I’m not a war hero, and never said I was. … If I have lied about my military record, I’m not fit to serve in Congress, further noting that he never deployed.

    I suspect that if he were at home, he’d be cowering under the bed. (Which would help to keep others safe, such as rescue workers, neighbors & children, pets & wildlife, and any looters.) And if he did have an AR-15 with him under the bed, he’d probably be shooting his own feet.

    In a sense, except for the shooting bit, I’d generally rather do hope that in such a situation he is at home and generally cut off. You want calm, capable, people who can listen, reason, and plan, and who may have to make difficult moral and ethical decisions, and who can communicate effectively, leading in such a situation. Graham seems to have none of those capabilities, so cowering at home under the bed and out-of-the-loop, is desirable.

  206. says

    Awful weather, long lines caused by police metal detectors and Russia’s opposition still fills Prospekt Sakharov over municipal elections registration fraud and the government’s heavy-handed response. Looks like impressive turnout.”

    Photo at the link.

  207. says


    Putin’s party, United Russia, proposed banning foreign media ‘for interfering in Russia’s internal affairs’, referring to coverage of protests. They also propose reserving an official, ‘special’ site for rallies & a list of sites where demonstrations will be strictly prohibited.”

    “Russian nuclear agency confirms role in rocket test explosion”:

    Russia’s nuclear energy agency has said an explosion that caused radiation levels to spike in the Arkhangelsk region was caused by an accident during a test of an “isotope power source for a liquid-fuelled rocket engine”.

    In a statement released late on Friday, Rosatom said five of its employees had died as a result of the accident and three more were being treated for burns.

    The statement was the first confirmation that the agency was involved in the incident, which briefly drove radiation levels up to 20 times their normal levels in the nearby city of Severodvinsk.

    Rosatom’s description of the incident could indicate it was testing the nuclear-powered cruise missile Burevestnik mentioned during a speech by Vladimir Putin last year.

    While local officials urged calm, residents in several cities stocked up on iodine, which is often used to limit the effects of radiation exposure.

    Russia also closed a bay in the White Sea to civilian traffic for a month, driving speculation that either the water had been contaminated or that a search operation was being launched.

  208. says

    “Gavin Grimm: victory for trans student as US judge rules bathroom bill violated rights”:

    A federal judge in Virginia ruled Friday that a school board’s transgender bathroom ban discriminated against a former student, Gavin Grimm, the latest in a string of decisions nationwide that favor transgender students who faced similar policies.

    The order is a major victory for the American Civil Liberties Union and for Grimm. His four-year lawsuit was once a federal test case and had come to embody the debate about transgender student rights.

    The issue remains far from settled as a patchwork of differing policies governs schools across the nation. More court cases are making their way through the courts.

    The Gloucester county school board’s policy required Grimm, a trans man, to use girls’ restrooms or private bathrooms. The judge wrote that Grimm’s rights were violated under the US constitution’s equal protection clause as well as under Title IX, the federal policy that protects against gender-based discrimination.

    “(T)here is no question that the Board’s policy discriminates against transgender students on the basis of their gender noncomformity,” wrote the US district Judge Arenda Wright Allen, who issued the order in Norfolk.

    “Under the policy, all students except for transgender students may use restrooms corresponding with their gender identity,” she continued. “Transgender students are singled out, subjected to discriminatory treatment, and excluded from spaces where similarly situated students are permitted to go.”

    Allen’s ruling requires the school board to update the gender on Grimm’s high school transcripts.

    Grimm graduated in 2017 from Gloucester high school, located in a mostly rural area about 60 miles (95km) east of Richmond and near the Chesapeake Bay. Now 20 and living in California, he said by phone that the judge’s order was “beautiful”.

    Grimm said he felt a sense of relief but would continue to fight the case if the school board appeals.

    Grimm’s lawsuit became a federal test case when it was supported by the administration of then-president Barack Obama and scheduled to go before the US supreme court in 2017.

    But the high court hearing was canceled after Donald Trump rescinded an Obama-era directive that students can choose bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity.

    Allen’s ruling joins others that have been favorable to transgender students in states that include Maryland, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. But differing policies are still in place in schools across the country, said Harper Jean Tobin, the policy director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, speaking last month with the AP.

  209. says

    More than thousand HKers sing Les Miserables’ ‘Do you hear the people sing?’ at HK international airport with their calls for free election and democracy. Here is the Ground Zero in the war against authoritarian rule. That’s the reason for us never surrender.”

    Video at the link.

  210. says

    The Hill – “Pope Francis cautions against nationalism, says recent political rhetoric has echoed ‘Hitler in 1934′”:

    Pope Francis on Friday said he was “concerned” about recent political rhetoric, cautioning against nationalism and saying that recent political speeches he’s heard “resemble those of Hitler in 1934.”

    “I am concerned because we hear speeches that resemble those of Hitler in 1934,” he told Italian outlet La Stampa. “’Us first. We … We … ‘ ” These are frightening thoughts.”

    The pope’s comments come after Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini called for the parliament to be dissolved and asked President Sergio Mattarella to institute snap elections as an attempt to push the country’s government further right politically, The Washington Post reported.

    Mattarella hasn’t said whether he’ll act on Salvini’s request. But the Post reported that the request comes as Italy grapples with months-long tensions within its coalition government….

    Because when a party has been exposed as massively corrupt and secretly colluding with a hostile foreign state, they definitely should get more power.

  211. says

    Guardian – “Kebabs and rock music: Moscow’s ruse for luring the young away from politics”:

    Once there were bread and circuses. Now there are DJ sets and kebabs.

    As thousands of Russians prepare for opposition protests for the third straight weekend in Moscow, the city government is laying on festivals that it hopes will lure young people away from political activity.

    The dubiously named Meat&Beat, to be held this weekend, is described as a “musical-gastronomic festival” – and also typifies Moscow’s embrace of hipster aesthetics as a salve for the irritations of one-party rule.

    It follows a similar festival called Shashlik Live, pairing grilled meat with “all your favourite Russian rock musicians” that appeared last week as if from thin air. Organisers claim that they attracted 305,000 visitors, a widely disputed total that would make the last-minute cookout one-and-a-half times larger than Glastonbury.

    The parties are part of a broad and energetic effort by Russia’s government to deflate protests against the disqualification of independent candidates in Moscow’s municipal elections.

    Since the recent round of protests began police have detained more than 2,000 people, charged 11 with rioting, opened a money laundering case against anti-corruption researchers, threatened a family with taking away their infant son, reviewed the debt and military service records of protesters and made liberal use of batons in preserving the peace.

    But the so-called “spoiler festivals” are also indicative of a government unlikely to make concessions and focused instead on tactics to win over young people and those sceptical of the protests.

    “It is an attempt to distract people with a festival, a positive spectacle,” said Tatiana Stanovaya, a political scientist. “The opposition may believe it is stupid, and of course there were not 300,000 people last week, but there are many people in Moscow who are neutral or negative to the protests. This is an appeal to them.”

    “It’s a complete denial of the reasons for the conflict behind the protests,” she continued. “The government is acting as if there is no problem at all.”

    Days before last week’s protests, when 1,000 people were detained and mobile internet was shut down over much of central Moscow, the city announced a kebab and rock festival for Gorky Park.

    It did not go smoothly. Several of the musical acts slated to play at Shashlik Live said they had been included in the lineup without their permission, and turned down the bookings because it conflicted with the protest.

    Still, pro-government figures used the crowd numbers to disparage the protests….

  212. says

    Matt Yglesias: “‘Free speech requires giving rich people massive, obviously corrupting influence over the political system’ has always been a wild take but enhancing it with ‘and nobody should name or criticize them over it’ has truly blown my mind.”

  213. says

    Trump is a sociopath. Reporters have spent years beating around this basic fact – ‘this is how he is’, ‘that’s just how he talks’. Conscious or not, all those individual decisions to soft-pedal coverage add up to a collective effort to normalize a sociopath.”

  214. says

    Epstein died under the jurisdiction of the Trump administration. The Department of Justice, (William Barr), oversees the federal prison system.

  215. says

    The conspiracy theory that the Clintons killed Epstein is being pushed hard. The push is so intense, including a post on Trump’s Twitter feed that went out to more than 20 million people, that I think Russian bots and trolls are also pushing it.

    It’s everywhere. It’s thick.

    This is a clear sign that the Trump administration is responsible in some way, maybe through sheer incompetence.

  216. says

    SC @329, glad to see Tucker Carlson losing sponsors. About time.

    In other news, Kellyanne Conway also proves, once again, that she is a soulless suck-up to Trump:

    Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway defended […] Trump retweeting an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory tying billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s death to Bill Clinton.

    When “Fox News Sunday” host Bill Hemmer asked Conway about Trump’s retweet, the White House aide claimed Trump was just looking for looking for answers.

    “I think the President just wants everything to be investigated as your reporter just revealed just the day before,” Conway said. “There was some unsealed information implicating some people very high up.”

    Newly unsealed court documents in Virginia Roberts Giuffre’s lawsuit against Epstein revealed allegations that she was instructed to have sex with powerful figures […]

    Clinton […] was not named in the documents.

    Without naming Clinton directly, Conway suggested there was a “public interest” in knowing more about people who were seen “flying around with this monster on his island.” […]

    Yeah, we see what you are doing Kellyanne.

  217. says

    From coverage of CNN reporter Jake Tapper’s show:

    […]Tapper kicked off his morning program, “State of the Union,” with a contemptuous speech on Trump’s penchant for boosting conspiracy theories, including his retweet on Saturday night that linked Epstein’s death to Bill Clinton.

    “We begin this morning with a retweet from the President of the United States,” Tapper said. “Not a message about healing or uniting the country, one week after two horrifying massacres, not about the victims of those tragedies.”

    “Instead, President Trump, using his massive Twitter platform, 63 million followers, to spread a deranged conspiracy theory tying the death of pedophile Jeffrey Epstein in prison to the President’s former political rivals, the Clintons,” he continued.

    After listing off various other unfounded conspiracy theories Trump has floated in the past, including birtherism and billionaire George Soros funding an immigrant invasion at the border, Tapper hit Trump for misusing his powerful influence as the country’s leader.

    “President Trump could use his megaphone for anything,” the reporter said. “But the President often uses it to amplify that which is the worst of us: personal attacks, bigotry, and insane conspiracy theories.”

    Tapper wrapped it up with one final declaration: “This is no longer just irresponsibility and indecent. It is dangerous.” […]


  218. says

    Yeah, right. This seems like the right thing to do. Totally reasonable. Not.

    New, looser gun laws will go into effect in the state of Texas in September, just before the one-month anniversary of the mass shooting that killed 22 people in an El Paso Walmart.

    Texas already has some of the least restrictive gun laws in the nation. But for Republican lawmakers during the state’s last legislative session, that wasn’t enough. A series of gun-friendly bills passed earlier this year and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott expands the number of places gun owners can possess their weapons.

    One of the laws reduces penalties for those who carry guns in places of worship, including churches, synagogues, and mosques, that ban firearms. (In November 2017, a gunman at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killed 26 people and injured 20 using a semiautomatic rifle.) Others target schools: allowing districts to appoint more armed “school marshals” and making sure they can’t ban licensed gun owners from keeping guns or ammunition in a locked car in school parking lot, as long as the firearms are out of plain view. (In May 2018, a teenager used a shotgun and a revolver to kill nine students and a teacher at Santa Fe High School outside of Houston.)

    Still more new laws will make it easier for gun owners to store firearms and ammunition in foster homes, and prevent landlords from banning guns on rental property. For a full week after natural disasters, it will no longer be a crime for Texans to carry handgun a without a license.

    But perhaps just as important are the Texas gun bills that didn’t pass last legislative session: “red flag” laws, bans on bump stocks, an attempt to close the “gun-show loophole,” according to the Dallas News. Abbott also vetoed an additional bill to restrict guns at airports.

    “We worked real, real hard,” a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association’s Texas affiliate told the Dallas News in June. According to USA Today, the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action lobbied for all of the bills going into effect in September.

    “We will not participate in the politicizing of these tragedies,” the organization said in a different statement last weekend, after the two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio. “As always, we will work in good faith to pursue real solutions that protect us all from people who commit these horrific acts.”


  219. says

    More conspiracy theory mongering from the Trump administration.

    Lynne Patton is the regional administrator at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

    […] “Hillary’d!!” she posted on Instagram around 10 a.m., alongside a screenshot of a Daily Mail story that described Epstein’s manner of death. She added the hashtag, “#VinceFosterPartTwo,” a reference to the former Clinton aide whose death by suicide has fueled conspiracy theories for more than two decades.

    Patton, one of the highest-ranking officials at HUD, was not alone in seizing on conspiracy theories. Within hours of Epstein’s death, “Clintons” and “ClintonBodyCount” were among the highest-trending topics on Twitter. Among the biggest drivers of the latter hashtag were an Infowars host and two accounts associated with the QAnon conspiracy, according to Alex Kaplan, a Media Matters researcher who focuses on far-right media.

    On her Instagram page, Patton has waded into controversial territory before. In April, she posted a message mocking Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) for “cying” over the deluge of death threats she received after […] Trump tweeted an out-of-context attack on her. “In response, a few of Patton’s 84,000 followers took the opportunity to comment and some added death threats of their own,” Mother Jones’ Nathalie Baptiste reported at the time. “One Instagram user said he was surprised that no one had killed the congresswoman yet. Another user said someone should ‘just do it’ rather than just threatening Rep. Omar.” […]


  220. says

    Elizabeth Warren posted a plan to reduce gun violence by 80 Percent.

    Her proposal includes an assault weapons ban, universal background checks, and raising taxes on gun manufacturers.

    […] The proposals […] were released Saturday morning in advance of a candidate forum in Iowa hosted by three gun control advocacy groups.

    “We might not know how to get all the way there yet,” Warren wrote in a post on Medium, where she has laid out most of her campaign’s policy proposals. “But we’ll start by implementing solutions that we believe will work.”

    Like many of her Democratic rivals, Warren supports an assault weapons ban and universal background checks before gun purchases, but her plan also would hike taxes on gun manufacturers, establish a federal licensing system for gun owners, set a uniform, one-week waiting period for purchases, bar anyone convicted of a hate crime from owning guns, and support urban-intervention programs. […]


    More at the link.

  221. says

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is pushing, again, for Trump to call a halt to joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea. Trump seems to agree with Kim Jong Un.

    On Friday, Trump talked about the “beautiful letter” he received from Kim Jong Un. Then Kim Jong Un launched more missiles. Things went even further downhill from there:

    […] On Saturday, Trump slammed the “ridiculous and expensive” joint exercises in a tweet, indicating he’ll meet with Kim “in the not too distant future.”

    Trump wrote Saturday: “In a letter to me sent by Kim Jong Un, he stated, very nicely, that he would like to meet and start negotiations as soon as the joint U.S./South Korea joint exercise are over. It was a long letter, much of it complaining about the ridiculous and expensive exercises. It was….. …also a small apology for testing the short range missiles, and that this testing would stop when the exercises end. I look forward to seeing Kim Jong Un in the not too distant future! A nuclear free North Korea will lead to one of the most successful countries in the world!”

    “I think we’ll have another meeting,” Trump told reporters outside the White House on Friday. “He really wrote a beautiful three-page — I mean right from top to bottom — a really beautiful letter. And maybe I’ll release the results of the letter, but it was very positive.”

    North Korea had five rounds of weapons demonstrations in the past two weeks — including another launch of two projectiles Saturday local time, according to South Korea. […]

    “He wasn’t happy with the tests, the war games. The war games on the other side with the United States. And as you know, I’ve never liked it either,” Trump said. “I don’t like paying for it. We should be reimbursed for it, and I’ve told that to South Korea.” […]


  222. says

    A guy opened fire at a Mosque in Oslo, Norway. The gunman expressed admiration for the El Paso shooter.

    And, yes, the shooter in Norway was a far-right dunderhead.

    The man […] had gone online to express far-right views, according to local police. Although not officially identified, reports claim the alleged gunman is Philip Manshaus, 21. The Norwegian citizen was reportedly wearing body armor and was heavily armed when he shot through a glass door to get inside the Al-Noor Islamic Center.

    The gunman was overpowered by a 65-year-old worshipper, who was injured in the confrontation. Officials say the shooting could have been much deadlier if the suspect had arrived only a few minutes earlier. There were more than a dozen people inside the mosque a mere 10 minutes before the suspect arrived. But by the time he got there only three older men remained inside and one of them managed to disarm the shooter.

    After the mosque shooting police found the body of the gunman’s 17-year-old stepsister at his home in Baerum, which is west of Oslo. […]

    Authorities said the suspect had expressed far-right views, including admiration for Vidkun Quisling, Norway’s leader who collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.

    Hours before the attack a user of the same name as the alleged gunman posted on the 4chan messaging board expressing admiration for the gunman who killed 51 people at two New Zealand mosques earlier this year. The post included a meme that described that gunman as a “saint” and praised the alleged El Paso shooter for “reclaiming his country.” The post was made on a new messaging board called Endchan and the older site 4chan.

    Authorities ordered police to guard mosques in the city. As Muslims celebrated the beginning of Eid al-Adha Sunday, many non-Muslims stood outside mosques in Oslo to stand guard […]


  223. says

    Yet another refugee crisis in the making, all thanks to far rightwing, bigoted policies.

    In May, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party won a landslide reelection victory after a campaign rife with anti-Muslim rhetoric, echoing the nativist appeals of other right-wing populist leaders from Donald Trump in the U.S. to Viktor Orban in Hungary. And just as those leaders have turned their rhetoric into policy, exacerbating the migrant crises in Europe and along the U.S.-Mexico border, India has its own crisis playing out in the northeastern state of Assam.

    But the scale of the consequences in India may be far greater: By Aug. 31, Assam could strip citizenship from as many as 4 million people in what one human rights group calls the biggest disenfranchisement effort in history. Adding to the controversy, India still has not determined where these newly stateless people—many of whom have considered themselves Indian for decades—will go. […]

    Tariq Adeeb, a lawyer arguing before the Indian Supreme Court on behalf of individuals deemed “foreigners,” called the register “anti-minority and anti-Muslim” and against the principles of a diverse and culturally rich democracy. Adeeb went on to say that the enforcement of an Aug. 31 NRC deadline is especially troubling given that large sections of Assam are still reeling from catastrophic summer floods: Many homes washed away, carrying critical citizenship documents with them. In recent weeks, Indian media covered stories of families refusing to leave flood-ravaged homes out of fear that they would lose their citizenship and become refugees. […]


  224. says

    Sigh. What kind of fuckery is this? Stephen-Miller-type assholery.

    Trump’s administration rolled out a new rule on Monday that would penalize legal immigrants if they use public benefits.

    According to the rule, which was pushed by White House advisor Stephen Miller, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency will now weigh a legal immigrant’s potential use of public benefits when deciding whether or not to grant the immigrant a green card.

    Not only is being a “public charge” a negative factor against green card applicants; under the new rule, even being deemed “likely” to become a public charge can count against immigrants. […]

    Though Trump has frequently railed against illegal immigration, the new policy indicates the administration’s shift to cut down on all forms of immigration, both illegal and legal.

    USCIS acting director Ken Cuccinelli told reporters that the rule “better ensures that immigrants are able to successfully support themselves as they seek opportunity here in America.”

    “We certainly expect people of any income to be able to stand on their own two feet,” Cuccinelli responded when a reporter asked if the policy unfairly targeted lower income immigrants. “If people are not able to be self-sufficient, then this negative factor is going to bear very heavily against them in a decision about whether they’ll be able to become a legal permanent resident.”

    Despite Trump’s racist rhetoric against Latinos and his mass immigration raids that’ve largely targeted the Latino community, Cuccinelli claimed there’s “no reason for any particular group to feel like this is targeting them.”


  225. says

    Followup to comment 349.

    From the readers comments:

    So what happens to the progeny of immigrants that repeatedly declared bankruptcies 6x? Do we send him back?
    hey everybody, the guy who inherited 400 million dollars from his father and turned it into a billion dollar loss says that legal immigrants need to learn to stand on their own two feet if they want to stay in America. sounds fucking fair to me
    How much anyone want to bet that “likely” has more to do with how many shades darker than an eggshell an applicant’s complexion is than any actual financial data?
    that means children born here in the US, which makes them US citizens can’t access government support.

    food stamps

    public housing

    government student loans

    So this will create a permanent underclass, your clinging to your roof after a hurricane no FEMA for you. Minority owned businesses (started by immigrants) won’t be eligible for special consideration for gov’t loans or contracts.

  226. says

    OMFG, this guy. Trump used weird phony accents to mock Japanese and Korean allies at a Hamptons fundraiser over the weekend.

    Trump gave a long, meandering speech at a fundraiser in Bridgehampton, New York, at one point adopting Japanese and South Korean accents to mock the countries’ respective leaders, Shinzo Abe and Moon Jae-in.

    According to the New York Post, Trump mimicked Moon giving in on negotiations over defense spending.

    Trump later attempted Abe’s accent while imitating the Japanese president’s responses on trade tariffs.

    Trump reportedly had kinder words for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who he called a “friend” and said from whom he’d just received a “beautiful letter.”

    “If I hadn’t been elected president we would be in a big fat juicy war with North Korea,” he said, per the Post.

  227. says

    Immigration judges oppose Trump’s expedited deportations—so William Barr is trying to bust their union.

    One of the many, many groups that have expressed alarm at Donald Trump’s attempts to unravel the rule of law, in his white nationalism-based efforts to remove asylum-seekers and other migrants from the nation regardless of their U.S. or international rights, is the government’s own immigration judges.

    They have pushed back against the Justice Department’s new “quota” orders, requiring each judge to complete roughly 35 cases per workweek; they have objected to Team Trump’s efforts to speed deportations by hiring more immigration judges—but without the necessary support staff.

    Trump Attorney General Bill Barr is apparently responding to this untoward challenge of Supreme Leader’s authority by … attempting to decertify their union.

    “We serve as a check and a balance on management prerogatives and that’s why they are doing this to us,” National Association of Immigration Judges vice president Judge Amiena Khan told The New York Times. While the official Justice Department line is that judges act as managers and therefore have no right to have a union, it’s not really in question that Trump’s team is launching the effort as, as usual, a vindictive move to punish a group of Trump critics for speaking out.

    Punishing Trump’s enemies seems, in fact, to now be one of the top goals of each top government official. It is not a very good way to run a democracy, but nobody in the White House and few in Republican Party itself are even pretending to give a damn about that at this point.


  228. says

    As a fitting end to a week of blunders, Joe Biden remembered something that never happened.

    Speaking to reporters in Iowa on Saturday, Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden said that student survivors of the shooting in Parkland, Florida, “came up to see me when I was vice president.” Except they didn’t. The Parkland shooting took place in 2018, more than a year after Biden left office.

    Biden did meet with Parkland students shortly after the shooting. But a campaign official later clarified to Bloomberg that the candidate was thinking of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting at the time he misspoke.

    This wasn’t a one-off gaffe, either. He said the same thing on stage at a gun control forum, also on Saturday.

    The mistakes capped off a week of slip-ups on the part of the 76-year-old politician. During an Aug. 4 fundraiser, Biden misstated the timing and locations of the Aug. 3 mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, and the Aug. 4 rampage in Dayton, Ohio, referring to them as “the tragic events in Houston today and also in Michigan the day before.” Then, during a speech on Thursday, he declared, “Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids,” before catching himself and quickly adding, “wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids.” […]


    From Trump:

    Joe Biden just said, “We believe in facts, not truth.” Does anybody really believe he is mentally fit to be president? We are “playing” in a very big and complicated world. Joe doesn’t have a clue!

    What Biden actually said was “we choose truth over facts,” which was, obviously, a slip of the tongue.

    From George Conway, in reply to Trump:

    Says the man who can’t spell, can’t think, can’t read a teleprompter, often babbles incoherently, confuses the Baltics with the Balkans, and thinks that “1000/24ths” signifies a fraction of less than one.

    From Madison Pauly:

    Biden is the Democratic frontrunner for now, raising the specter of a general election showdown in which neither candidate can get from subject to predicate without spraining an ankle.

  229. Akira MacKenzie says

    Lynna, OM @ 353

    Can someone kindly explain to me again WHY Biden is the frontrunner?

  230. says

    From former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, (he held that position for 11 days):

    […] Scaramucci on Monday accused […] Trump of having “gone off the rails,” comparing him to a “demagogue” and insisting the administration’s conservative policy agenda is not worth the damage Trump has inflicted upon America’s democratic institutions.

    “I’m a loyal Republican, and I’ve tried to be loyal to him. But let’s face it, I mean, he’s gone off the rails, and so we just have to call it for what it is,” Scaramucci told CNN, revealing that he no longer supports Trump’s 2020 reelection bid and is “now neutral on the president.”

    “I think that’s pretty obvious from over the weekend,” Scaramucci said. “I mean, the guy’s actually dissembling a little bit, and he’s sounding more and more nonsensical. And, you know, we’re sort of anesthetized to it.”

    “He’s out there doing things, and you’re trying to give him advice, but he can’t listen to anybody,” Scaramucci said Monday. “And if you say something that’s one or two sentences off the mark of his support — and I would tell his loyalists, loyalty is not blind obedience unless you’re supporting a demagogue, OK?”

    Scaramucci also claimed Trump “is giving people a license to hate, to provide a source of anger, to go after each other,” and assessed the president’s accomplishments in office do not justify the toll of his incendiary rhetoric.

    “You’re fracturing the institutions and all of the things that the country stands for, so that’s not worth the economic policies,” Scaramucci said.

    Scaramucci on Sunday predicted the GOP may need to select a candidate other than Trump as its next presidential nominee, telling Axios: “A couple more weeks like this and ‘country over party’ is going to require the Republicans to replace the top of the ticket in 2020.”


  231. says

    Akira @ 355. I can’t understand it.

    A lot of pundits explain Biden’s front runner status as being mostly a result of name recognition and association with Obama.

    I think most people just don’t pay attention to any of the 20+ Democratic candidates, and they do recognize Biden’s name.

    Two of the women who are running, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, have moved up in the polls.

    Pete Buttigieg is hanging in there:

    South Bend (Ind.) Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign has brought on a new senior adviser to connect with Democratic Party leadership and help lead the campaign’s African American support.

    The new senior adviser, Brandon Neal, has served as the Democratic National Committee’s national political director and has previously done stints working for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the Democratic Governors Association, Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, and Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

    No candidate is perfect, no candidate will ever be perfect, but I do think that if the other top tier candidates made the kind of mistakes Biden is making, they would see their candidacies die.

  232. says

    Public policy that works: Washington D.C. DC offers free pre-K for toddlers. The ripple effects helped K-12 students too.

    For two decades, Washington, DC, public schools have played host to national debates over a range of controversial K–12 education reforms. DC made major changes to how it handles teacher evaluations, school accountability, school choice, enrollment, and funding. […]

    the city’s biggest education experiment has stayed mostly out of sight: Since 2008, the District has been building the country’s most comprehensive universal pre-K program.

    DC has had public early education programs for decades, but these classrooms were often targeted to serve low-income students and only enrolled around one-quarter of DC 3-year-olds and half of its 4-year-olds. Meanwhile, the district has long struggled with opportunity and achievement gaps in its schools. For instance, in the 2005-’06 school year, white third-graders were three times more likely to score proficient (or higher) in mathematics than their African American peers, and more than twice as likely to score proficient (or higher) on English language arts tests.

    […] developmental gaps begin in the first years of children’s lives, and pre-K programs have been shown to improve children’s academic, linguistic, and social and emotional development. They can also help children complete high school, earn more money, and stay out of prison as adults. […]

    The 2008 expansion remade the city’s early education landscape. Now, DC enrolls three-quarters of its 3-year-olds in free, public pre-K classrooms in its district and charter schools. In 2017-’18, that worked out to more than 6,000 children — for comparison, note that across the state of New York, just 3,721 3-year-olds were enrolled in public pre-K. DC pre-K also enrolls 85 percent of its 4-year-olds.

    […] Two-thirds of enrolled children are African American, 16 percent are white, and 12 percent are Latinx. About half of students are classified as “at risk,” which in DC includes foster children, children experiencing homelessness, and children whose families qualify for social assistance […]

    DC checks box after box when it comes to early childhood education quality. Nearly all of its pre-K classrooms are based in public schools. This makes it easier to tailor a campus’s pre-K program with older grades, which helps campus leaders align schedules, curricula, and instruction from early education through the end of elementary school. […]

    K-12 DC students’ performance has risen in recent years across a range of academic metrics. Given the range of changes in DC — shifting student demographics, major K–12 reforms, and the advent of universal pre-K — it’s hard to know precisely which change is driving which gains. But it’s getting better across the board.


    There are some downsides, such as higher cost of private childcare in D.C. These and other issues are discussed in the article.

    Elizabeth Warren’s plan includes not just universal pre-K, but also childcare options.

    One other, seldom mentioned, upside: pre-K saves taxpayer money in that it reduces the number of children who repeat a grade or are placed in special education services.

  233. blf says

    Somewhat related to bribeon’s alleged dummie frontstumbler status, over at Mano Signham’s blog here at FtB, NYT’s reporter’s corporate ties and sources:

    Cory Doctorow reveals that the reporter assigned by the New York Times to cover Bernie Sanders fails to identify that the sources for her stories are corporate lobbyists.


    That the Times, and indeed the major media in general, have no love of Sanders and Elizabeth Warren is no surprise. That they resort to these dubious tactics to cast them in a negative light should also come as no surprise.

  234. blf says

    In teh NKofE, the newly-installed führer of the now largely self-immolating ukippers (one of the nazi parties) is self-immolating quite nicely, New Ukip leader condemned for ‘virulent Islamophobia’:

    The newly-elected leader of Ukip has been condemned for “virulent Islamophobia” after footage emerged of him arguing it should be illegal to publicly distribute the Qur’an in the UK and that some British towns are no-go areas for non-Muslims.

    Speaking to Ukip members at hustings, Richard Braine also claimed that British Islam has particular problems with bigamy and welfare abuse, and referred to the jailed far-right anti-Islam activist [sic] Tommy Robinson [Stephen Yaxley-Lennon –blf] as a political prisoner.


    We have laws against incitement, and yet there are people handing out Qur’ans in Leicester Square off a trestle table — a book which tells people to kill us to please God. We’ve got to stop incitement in public places like that.

    That would also describe teh bibble. And this nutter’s own comments are incitement, both for his followers and for people to milkshake him.

    He went on: We’ve got to stop bigamy, welfare abuse. We’ve got to educate people in this country so they understand what the Qur’an says, what Islam really is, so they understand that it contains a hundred instructions to maim and slaughter innocent people — homosexuals, the infidel, women, apostates. So we need to understand what is in that book, we need to educate ourselves and our children about that.

    Braine claimed there was the issue of towns and cities becoming increasingly Islamic to the point where essentially, as a non-Islamic person, you’re simply not welcome there. And we’ve got to stop that.

    None of these cities(!) and towns, of course, named.

    Calling Islam an alien ideology, Braine told the audience there was a danger it could become a supremacist ideology in this country.

    A Ukip spokesman later said: Ukip is not an anti-Islam party.


  235. says

    Followup to comments 349 and 350.

    From Wonkette:

    One of Stephen Miller’s top priorities for fucking over America’s legal immigration system is finally about to take effect, assuming it survives the many lawsuits that will be thrown at it. The new rule would sharply restrict the ability of low-income people to get permanent residency or even temporary visas by screening out virtually all applicants who have ever used federal assistance like Medicaid, food stamps, or public housing. The rule will be published in the Federal Register Wednesday, and then go into effect in October, despite an overwhelming majority of public comments opposing the change.

    The rules are an attempt to inject steroids into a relic of the Immigration Act of 1882, which prohibited immigration by anyone deemed likely to become a “public charge” — that is, likely to become a burden to the taxpayer. That term was never explicitly defined by Congress, so Miller and his allies in the Trump administration decided it should be defined as restrictively as possible, to keep out anyone who’s used any of a whole raft of public assistance programs for any amount of time.

    Let’s emphasize right up front that this is not about undocumented immigrants: This is an attempt to punish legal migrants who legally received benefits that Congress said they legally qualify for.

    The Department of Homeland Security published the details of the new rules in an 800-page document today; the gist is that a green card or temporary visa would be denied to any “alien who receives one or more designated public benefits for more than 12 months in the aggregate within any 36-month period (such that, for instance, receipt of two benefits in one month counts as two months).”

    So much for the safety net — let’s say someone went through a rough patch and received SNAP (food stamps), public housing, and Medicaid for just four months, then got a job and has been gainfully employed ever since. No green card for you, moocher. US Citizenship and Immigration Services officers would also have broad latitude to decide how other factors might make an applicant look like they could become a “public charge” — anyone under the age of 18 or over 61 would automatically be considered a likely burden, for instance.

    No, there are no provisions that would exclude an oil executive from getting a work visa, no matter how much public welfare their company might receive. They’re job creators!

    Yr Wonkette has written about this fuck-tussle of a rule previously as it’s moved through the federal development grinder. The State Department has already started denying visas using a version of the rules, with thousands of people turned away from entering the US at all — even to visit. […]

  236. says

    Pity the foreign leaders who have to deal with Trump:

    […] Trump has sent at least two strange letters to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, one of which was so bizarre that the Canadian ambassador had to make sure it wasn’t a prank.

    According to an Axios report Sunday, Trump mailed Trudeau a torn-out cover of Bloomberg Businessweek declaring the Canadian leader the “Anti-Trump” in mid-2017.

    “Looking good! Hope it’s not true!” Trump reportedly wrote on the cover in silver Sharpie.

    The letter prompted Canadian ambassador David MacNaughton to reach out to the White House and ask if it was some kind of prank, two unnamed sources told Axios.

    In an attempt to prove that the U.S. had a trade deficit with Canada, Trump sent Trudeau a document to make his case, in December 2017.

    One of Axios’ unnamed sources said that Trump scrawled something like “Not good!!” in Sharpie on the document, which showed America’s deficit in trade goods. The document apparently didn’t mention the country’s surplus in services, which would give the U.S. an overall surplus in trade.

    That’s when Trudeau had to remind Trump that his own government proved POTUS wrong.

    The Canadian prime minister responded to Trump’s document with a printout of Office of the United States Trade Representative’s site that reported a surplus of $12.5 billion in 2016, a figure Trudeau had circled with a drawn smiley face next to it.


  237. says

    Trump’s biggest supporter Dinesh D’Souza tweets out arguably the single stupidest thing ever.

    I don’t know if he is “Trump’s biggest supporter,” but he did send out an exceptionally stupid tweet about climate change.

    […] depressingly, many people consider expensive glasses to be a sign of intellect. D’Souza has something of a platform again after being pardoned by fellow fraud Donald Trump. Since that time he has produced a garbage propaganda film attacking everyone not named Donald Trump and occasionally embarrassed himself on Twitter.

    Today, Dinesh D’Souza jumped the shark of dumb right-wing propaganda when he sent out this tweet.

    Global warming comes to Australia. Unless you want to believe your lying eyes! https://twitter.com/ritapanahi/status/1160827480309039104

    The tweet was accompanied by a photo of snow in Australia. See the link for the tweet.

    More from Walter Einenkel:

    […] Pretty damning evidence. You see, it is the middle of August, a well-known summertime month in the Northern Hemisphere, and Australia is getting snow! Some MAGA supporters retweeted Dinesh triumphantly, wondering what we liberals would say to explain away this clear indication that global warming is a hoax […]

    I was at a loss. Part of me remembered something I learned in grade school about Australia’s location in the world and weather—but what could it have been? Using my next-level research skills, I typed “Australia weather” into Google search. Lo and behold, Australia.com and its weather section came up.

    Australia’s climate varies greatly throughout the eight states and territories; there are four seasons across most of the country and a wet and dry season in the tropical north.

    Australia’s seasons are at opposite times to those in the northern hemisphere. December to February is summer; March to May is autumn; June to August is winter; and September to November is spring.

    I. Just. Don’t. Understand. I decided to watch D’Souza get ratioed by Twitter, and see if maybe I might learn me something about weather and geography and science. Head on down to enjoy. […]

  238. says

    Careful, Bernie, you’re sounding like Trump … and it’s not good.

    [Sanders] ripped a page from Trump’s playbook on Monday during two consecutive town halls, in which he jabbed the Washington Post for what he claimed was unfair coverage.

    At town halls in Wolfeboro and North Conway, New Hampshire, Sanders claimed there was a connection between his criticism of Amazon — over its labor practices and tax breaks — and the newspaper’s articles about the senator and 2020 contender, according to the Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

    “Anybody here know how much Amazon paid in taxes last year?” Sanders reportedly asked the Wolfeboro crowd. Several in the audience replied: “Nothing!” according to the Post.

    “See, I talk about that all of the time and then I wonder why The Washington Post — which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon — doesn’t write particularly good articles about me,” Sanders said, according to the Post. “I don’t know why. But I guess maybe there’s a connection. Maybe we helped raise the minimum wage at Amazon to 15 bucks an hour as well.” […]

    In a statement to the Post, the newspaper’s executive editor Martin Baron swatted away Sanders’ suggestion: “Sen. Sanders is a member of a large club of politicians — of every ideology — who complain about their coverage. Contrary to the conspiracy theory the senator seems to favor, Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence, as our reporters and editors can attest.”

    Trump’s alleged a similar conspiracy in the past as well. The President has criticized Amazon for the company’s tax breaks and for what he sees as an unfair burden the company places on the U.S. Postal Service. He has claimed that’s why he gets negative coverage from the Post.


  239. says

    Hmmm. Those are some very interesting details. “Dirt on famous friends,” and more.

    Last summer, Jeffrey Esptein told a New York Times columnist that criminalizing sex with young girls was a “cultural aberration” similar to how homosexuality was once viewed.

    That’s one of several details that New York Times columnist James Stewart divulged in a new essay published in the Times Monday, several days after Epstein was found dead of an apparent suicide in his Manhattan jail cell.

    About a year ago, Stewart visited Epstein’s Manhattan mansion for an interview, which Epstein agreed to do “on background,” meaning Stewart could use the information Epstein told him, but he couldn’t attribute it to him.

    Stewart wanted to speak with Epstein about rumors that he was advising Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

    Throughout the interview, Epstein bragged about the dirt he claimed to have on his famous friends — both related to drugs and sexual activities — and didn’t hesitate to discuss his sexual interest in younger women. Epstein even had a young woman who appeared to be no older than 20, according to Stewart, answer the door when he arrived.

    While the information was provided on background, Stewart said he considered the agreement “lapsed” following Epstein’s death over the weekend. Epstein was found dead by apparent suicide on Saturday in his jail cell where he was awaiting trial for federal charges that he ran a sex trafficking ring in the early 2000s. Epstein had already been previously convicted of sexual abuse and was registered as a sex offender.

    TPM link

    Complete essay in the New York Times


    […] The overriding impression I took away from our roughly 90-minute conversation was that Mr. Epstein knew an astonishing number of rich, famous and powerful people, and had photos to prove it. He also claimed to know a great deal about these people, some of it potentially damaging or embarrassing, including details about their supposed sexual proclivities and recreational drug use.

    So one of my first thoughts on hearing of Mr. Epstein’s suicide was that many prominent men and at least a few women must be breathing sighs of relief that whatever Mr. Epstein knew, he has taken it with him.

    During our conversation, Mr. Epstein made no secret of his own scandalous past — he’d pleaded guilty to state charges of soliciting prostitution from underage girls and was a registered sex offender — and acknowledged to me that he was a pariah in polite society. At the same time, he seemed unapologetic. His very notoriety, he said, was what made so many people willing to confide in him. Everyone, he suggested, has secrets and, he added, compared with his own, they seemed innocuous. People confided in him without feeling awkward or embarrassed, he claimed. […]

    he took me to a wall covered with framed photographs. He pointed to a full-length shot of a man in traditional Arab dress. “That’s M.B.S.,” he said, referring to Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. The crown prince had visited him many times, and they spoke often, Mr. Epstein said. [….]

  240. says

    McConnell is the literal Grim Reaper, condemning hundreds of Americans to future gun deaths

    […] Bullet-proof backpacks, “emblazoned with Disney princesses and Avengers superheroes,” are a hot item, as are anti-ballistic three-ring binders and clipboards and puffy vests and chair cushions and whiteboards. […]

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who likes to call himself the “Grim Reaper” of House legislation, could end this. But he continues his obscene partnership with the NRA, and what the NRA wants from Congress, it gets.

    […] while McConnell mouths words about intending to take on guns when Congress reconvenes, when he supposedly tells Trump that he’s open to background checks and red flag laws, his staff is behind the scenes admitting, “Not really.” And the NRA’s president, Wayne LaPierre, conveniently steps in to reinforce the idea that anything Democrats want to do wouldn’t make a difference, anyway. “The inconvenient truth is this: the proposals being discussed by many would not have prevented the horrific tragedies in El Paso and Dayton,” said LaPierre. “Worse, they would make millions of law abiding Americans less safe and less able to defend themselves and their loved ones.”

    So McConnell, in partnership with the NRA, is falling back on the reliable strategies of running out the clock until the furor subsides, then manipulating the legislation process until whatever the Senate considers is so watered-down or poisonous that even Democrats wouldn’t be able to support it.

    Because that’s what he does.

  241. says

    Why are Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum hanging out in Russia?

    […] The two are helping lead a for-profit cruise through the Baltic Sea — one that costs guests anywhere between $5,000 and $12,000 to attend.

    On Facebook, Huckabee pitched the cruise as an “unforgettable trip to the Baltics,” noting that it would also be stopping in Estonia, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark.

    On Twitter, Huckabee pitched the cruise as an opportunity to “actually collude [with] Russia in a GOOD way[.]” Huckabee’s wife, Janet Huckabee, also joined in, saying of her time in St. Petersburg, “We were colluding!” But it’s unclear whether Huckabee and Santorum have sought meetings with any Russian officials while in St. Petersburg — much as leading evangelical Franklin Graham did a few months ago, when he had a sit-down meeting with sanctioned Russian politician Vyacheslav Volodin. Graham later claimed that Vice President Mike Pence signed off on his trip.

    Instead, it appears that Huckabee is using the trip to simply make money, as well as push “jokes” about the Trump campaign’s 2016 attempts at collusion with Russia. […]

    Enjoyed dinner on Baltic Sea with @janethuckabee & dear friends Rick and Karen Santorum. Note to media-we are not here to collude but to see if we can get the uranium back that Hillary sold. We told Vlad we could be more flexible after the election. […]

    Arrived in St Petersburg Russia. Was going to arrive on a horse & shirtless but didn’t want to over excite the Russian women.

    […] Santorum hasn’t yet publicly commented on the trip, but it also comes amid questions about his relationship with convicted Russian agent Maria Butina: Santorum was one of the few high-profile GOP figures Butina met during her time in the United States. A photo of the two of them captured both smiling for the camera.


  242. says

    Trump dismisses farmers’ concerns over trade war as his agriculture secretary insults them

    Sonny Perdue reportedly got booed for insulting farmers to their faces.

    […] Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, who previously admitted that U.S. growers were paying the price for the administration’s trade policies and were “one of the casualties there of the trade disruption,” insulted them last week at a Farmfest event in Minnesota.

    “I had a farmer tell me this in Pennsylvania,” Perdue told the audience at a listening session hosted by House Agriculture Committee Chair Collin Peterson (D-MN). “He said ‘What do you call two farmers in a basement?’ I said ‘I don’t know, what do you call them?’ He said ‘A whine cellar.’” […]

    From Trump:

    Through massive devaluation of their currency and pumping vast sums of money into their system, the tens of billions of dollars that the U.S. is receiving is a gift from China. Prices not up, no inflation. Farmers getting more than China would be spending. Fake News won’t report!

    From Trump’s reelection campaign:

    “No battle is over in a minute. If it is, it wasn’t worth fighting.” America’s great farmers are standing firmly behind @RealDonaldTrump!

    From Josh Israel:

    […] The Trump administration on Tuesday narrowed its list of tariffs on some Chinese imports which were set to go into effect on September 1, delaying levies on certain consumer technologies like cell phones, laptop computers, video game consoles, and computer monitors until December 15, “based on health, safety, national security and other factors.”

    It is unclear whether this will help farmers in any way.

  243. says

    The Iowa Asian and Latino Coalition PAC endorsed Kamala Harris, backing her run in the 2020 Democratic presidential race.

    […] Asian and Latino Coalition Chairman Prakash Kopparapu cited Harris’s health care plan and communication skills as reasons for the endorsement, according to NBC News.

    “We support her because of the way she communicates and the strong message she sends about the Democratic party,” Kopparapu said. “All our members think she can win and compete on the debate stage against […] Trump. Definitely she has a strong background in law and knows a lot about what to change in order to bring equality.” […]

  244. says

    Trump official suggests famous Statue of Liberty sonnet is too nice to immigrants

    “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”

    The Statue of Liberty is emblazoned with a sonnet written by Emma Lazarus that famously reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” Those words in particular and the monument in general have stood for more than a century as a symbol of America’s openness to immigrants, including poor ones. […]

    Tuesday morning, acting Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Ken Cuccinelli did an interview on National Public Radio and was asked by host Rachel Martin whether the values in Lazarus’s “The New Colossus” sonnet still represented American values […]

    “Would you also agree that Emma Lazarus’s words etched on the Statue of Liberty — ‘give me your tired, your poor’ — are also part of the American ethos?” Martin asked.

    Cuccinelli acknowledged they are — but then suggested a major revision.

    “Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge,” he said. […]

  245. says

    Still too many people on the debate stage, in my opinion.

    Nine Democratic candidates have qualified for the third debate: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, and Andrew Yang.

    Three more candidates are close to qualifying: Julián Castro, Tom Steyer, and Tulsi Gabbard.

    Here are the candidates who have not qualified, and who aren’t likely to qualify:
    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York (has one poll)
    Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado (has one poll)
    Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington
    Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana
    Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado
    Author Marianne Williamson
    New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio
    Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland
    Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio
    Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts
    Mayor Wayne Messam of Miramar, Florida
    Former Rep. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania

  246. says

    From Wonkette: “John Cornyn Really Really Really Really Really Really REALLY Doesn’t Want Beto To Run For Senate”

    You need a “Stand Against Beto Fund” to tell Beto O’Rourke that Texas does not want him to run for Senate, just in case Beto decides to run for Senate, which would be so bad that you need an extra fund, even though Texas does not want that? OK, buddy! We feel like we can see where you are coming from, John Cornyn! You’re fuckin’ scared.

    […] As one might expect, they [the Houston Chronicle] talked about the “what the fuck” heard ’round the world, when a journalist decided to ask him [Beto] if Donald Trump’s batshit eliminationist rhetoric about Hispanic invasions might be linked to a white guy driving hours and hours to murder Hispanic people, and publishing a manifesto on the internet that literally quoted the president’s (and Fox News’s) invasion rhetoric. “What the fuck,” indeed.

    […] we keep seeing things about the GOP losing its fucking marbles over Texas (we had a thing on it last week, partially about the insane number of Texas Republican congressmen who are getting the fuck out of Dodge before they get kicked out, and Politico has a new thing on it this week), and the more we think about it, the more we think Beto does need to be on Texas’s ballot if we want 2020 to be the year when we finally tip Texas over and make it blue. Not saying he’s the only one who could do it, but that we’d have a damn good shot at it.

    Think about it. As tweeted last week by Maria Teresa Kumar, the head of Voto Latino, here are some facts:

    In 2012 Barack Obama lost Texas by 16 points.

    In 2016 Hillary Clinton only lost by nine points.

    In 2018 — in a midterm, which is not the Democratic Party’s traditional strong suit, though we hope that is finally fucking changing — Beto O’Rourke lost by approximately two and a half points, while helping a metric shitload of down-ballot Democrats win everything from House seats to judgeships. […]

    It’s not crazy to think that next year, that pendulum could swing just a few more points and put Texas in the blue column.

    Especially if Beto were to be on the ballot. Know how he can essentially guaran-damn-tee that he will be on the ballot? By running for the Senate. […]

  247. says

    Hong Kong riot police, armed with pepper spray and batons, clashed with protesters at the airport.

    […] Anti-government protesters brought chaos to the airport for a second consecutive day Tuesday as demonstrators extended their standoff with authorities who have been unable to quell months of dissent. Protesters forced the cancellation of flights by cramming into terminals and refusing to let passengers through, sparking confrontations with travelers desperate to return home.

    Later in the evening, a group of demonstrators also seized a man they suspected to be an undercover Chinese police officer, cable-tied his hands and refused to let him through a large crowd. The incident showed increasing brazenness on the part of demonstrators in confronting what they perceive as symbols of the Chinese state.

    Police entered the airport to help the man, whom paramedics tried to remove on a stretcher. The presence of officers sparked chaos, as protesters spilled out of the airport and began attacking police vans with officers inside.

    At one point, an officer was overrun and his baton taken by protesters, who beat him with it. The group retreated only after the officer appeared to pull his gun from its holster. […]

    Washington Post link

  248. says

    From Jennifer Rubin:

    […] Trump has made more than 12,000 false or misleading statements during fewer than 1,000 days in office and has insulted hundreds of people, entire countries and our collective intelligence. When confronted with unpleasant truths about himself, however, he wigs out, according to The Post’s reporting.

    Trump said there were “very fine” people on both sides in Charlottesville, accused a judge of Mexican heritage of being unable to do his job, calls African and Caribbean nations “shithole countries” and says he prefers immigrants from lily-white Norway. He told four nonwhite congresswomen to “go back” to where they came from, regularly insults the intelligence of African Americans and has parroted white nationalist rhetoric (“invasion”). But he is upset that people (51 percent, according to one poll) think he is a racist.

    Don’t tell him, but the president who has racked up a deficit of “$119.7 billion, good for a 27% increase over a year ago, according to government figures released Monday,” might be called “fiscally irresponsible” (oh my!) by some. […]

    There seems to be no end to the habit of calling Trump names for things he actually does. Insulting women, intimating that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) would trade sex for campaign contributions, and accumulating allegations of sexual assault? Darn if people don’t call Trump a “misogynist.” […]

    Trump denies climate change, and people go and call him “anti-science” or an “ignoramus.” He takes hours of “executive time,” has made about 200 trips to his golf properties since taking office, has days on end with no public events and doesn’t read his intelligence briefing (or much of anything else), only to have people call him “lazy.” […]

    Trump attacks the rule of law, the First Amendment, the separation of powers and the courts; meanies accuse him of being “anti-democratic” or “authoritarian.” Trump hires a slew of incompetent and ethically challenged advisers, many of whom he has to fire; the media have the gall to say his presidency is “chaotic.”

    Trump changes policy by tweet and gets dubbed “impulsive,” reverses himself and gets called “erratic.” He approves a family separation policy and refuses to provide safe and sanitary conditions for asylum seekers, only to be called “cruel” or “inhumane.” Will the attacks on Trump never cease?!

    Trump, commander in chief and president of the world’s only superpower, thinks he is the world’s most picked-upon person. The man who victimizes others insists that he is the biggest victim of all. And the greatest indignity? His critics (sometimes a majority of Americans) keep calling him racist and misogynistic, fiscally irresponsible, lazy, corrupt, authoritarian, impulsive and erratic based on his racist and misogynistic, fiscally irresponsible, lazy, corrupt, authoritarian, impulsive and erratic rhetoric and actions. The unfairness of it all!

  249. says

    Trump Says It’s Totally ‘Fine’ To Retweet An Epstein Death Conspiracy Theory

    TPM link

    […] Trump claimed it was “fine” for him to perpetuate the far-right conspiracy because the person he retweeted, Terrence K. Williams, has a “lot of followers.”

    He’s a very highly respected conservative pundit, he’s a big Trump fan. That was a retweet, that wasn’t from me, that was from him. But he’s a man with a half a million followers, a lot of followers,” Trump told reporters about Williams, a comedian and conservative pundit who’s been criticized in the past for saying racist things on Fox News. “The retweet was from somebody who is a very respected conservative pundit, so I think I was fine.”

    Trump also suggested that his retweet was admissible because Attorney General Bill Barr had opened an investigation into the Epstein’s death.

    “As you know, Bill Barr wants to do an entire investigation of the whole Epstein matter. What happened, he’s been going on for a long time, the whole Epstein episode, and I know it’s under investigation by Attorney General Barr,” he said. “I want a full investigation, and that’s what I am absolutely demanding.” […]


  250. says

    John Bolton proves once again that he is a dunderhead … and possibly a national security risk:

    National security adviser John Bolton made an extraordinary promise while on a visit to London Monday, pledging that the United Kingdom would jump to the “front of the queue” for trade with the United States if it went ahead and left the European Union.

    Already, some are concerned that the promise of such trade favoritism might prompt an inevitable no-deal Brexit, the kind U.K. officials have long hoped to avoid.

    “If that’s the decision of the British government we will support it enthusiastically, and that’s what I’m trying to convey. We’re with you, we’re with you,” Bolton told reporters on the first day of his two-day visit.

    He emphasized that the United States didn’t want to pressure the U.K. to leave the EU (in an arrangement dubbed “Brexit”), but to support it in doing so. The U.K. voted in 2016 to leave the EU, but has thus far failed to get a deal passed in Parliament.

    Bolton’s gesture was not met with smiles on all fronts — an op-ed in The Guardian pointed out on Tuesday that the offer was actually a move to colonize the U.K., and another in The Independent called the national security adviser “a snake.” […]


    Good for The Guardian and The Independent: call a snake a snake.

  251. says

    Followup to comment 376.

    From the same article:

    In saying that the United States would support the U.K.’s departure from the EU but not a decision to remain, Bolton is stating a policy. For a national security adviser to make trade policy promises on the premise that a country make a major policy change, is remarkable.

  252. Akira MacKenzie says

    Lynna, OM @ 374

    Trump, commander in chief and president of the world’s only superpower, thinks he is the world’s most picked-upon person. The man who victimizes others insists that he is the biggest victim of all. And the greatest indignity? His critics (sometimes a majority of Americans) keep calling him racist and misogynistic, fiscally irresponsible, lazy, corrupt, authoritarian, impulsive and erratic based on his racist and misogynistic, fiscally irresponsible, lazy, corrupt, authoritarian, impulsive and erratic rhetoric and actions. The unfairness of it all!

    No wonder the Bible-beaters love him so much. They believe in the same sham-persecution narrative.

  253. blf says

    Statue of Liberty shown cuffed and arrested by immigration officials in new mural:

    A mural of the Statue of Liberty, handcuffed and slammed on the hood of a police cruiser, is drawing attention in downtown Las Vegas, a day after a top Trump administration official in charge of immigration suggested the statue’s famous inscription be amended to include a test of means.

    Under the pseudonym Recycled Propaganda, artist and British immigrant Izaac Zevalking painted the image on a wall late last month […]

    Zevalking told Las Vegas station KTNV: “My purpose of doing what I did with the Statue of Liberty is to try and draw analogies with America’s past and how it was founded and how it was largely built by immigrants, to really make an analogy out of that so that people can apply that to contemporary society and contemporary issues a little bit more.”


    Image at the link. Not much much about the mural or the artist in than excerpted above, as most of the article is about the follow-up to Cuccinelli’s remark (see @370).

    Perhaps because of that spiky hat she wears, Ms Liberty could also be shown shot to death in the back by panicking police, albeit she’s not obviously brown or black of Muslim in appearance. Not being shot is good news for green-tinted extraterrestrials.

    Also, Cuccinelli apparently later made an even stoopider version of the remark, Trump official: Statue of Liberty poem is about Europeans:

    A top Trump administration official says that the famous inscription on the Statue of Liberty welcoming immigrants into the country is about people coming from Europe and that America is looking to receive migrants who can stand on their own two feet.


    “This administration finally admitted what we’ve known all along: They think the Statue of Liberty only applies to white people,” tweeted […] Beto O’Rourke […].


    Cuccinelli said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday night that the Emma Lazarus poem emblazoned on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty referred to people coming from Europe where they had class based societies where people were considered wretched if they weren’t in the right class.


    This is a different incident to the @370 original(?), which was on NPR.

  254. blf says

    Republican lawmaker aided group training young men for biblical warfare:

    The Republican politician Matt Shea connected close allies with a group offering training to young men in biblical warfare that includes how to use knives, pistols and rifles, with lessons based in part on the teachings of a Georgia-based neo-Confederate pastor, emails obtained by the Guardian reveal.

    Shea, who is an elected Washington state representative, later made videos in support of the group, and appeared alongside them at a gathering at a religious community in remote eastern Washington. He also paid the founder of the group money from his campaign fund in 2018.

    For some reason, the Grauniad does not go further into this claim about Shea using some of his 2018 campaign fund monies this way.

    The emails, sent in July 2016, begin with an email from Patrick Caughran, who presents himself as the founder of a training group called Team Rugged. […]

    Caughran asks Shea to publicize a link to the group’s Facebook page, and put him in touch with “John Jacob Schmidt”, the nom de guerre of Shea associate, Jack Robertson. Robertson is a rightwing podcast host who advocates for conservatives to move to the American Redoubt in eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana, and, with Shea, campaigns for eastern Washington to secede and form its own state.

    […] Caughran [… wrote] the group exists to provide patriotic and biblical training on war for young men.

    He continues: Everything about it is both politically incorrect and what would be considered shocking truth to most modern Christians.

    Caughran also wrote: There will be scenarios where every participant will have to fight against one of the most barbaric enemies that are invading our country, Muslims terrorists (sic).

    That (sic) is part of the Granuiad’s quote, and I presume was written by Caughran. I presume Caughran is trying to imply all Muslims are one of the most barbaric enemies.

    Caughran goes on to detail the group’s training regime, writing that there will be biblical teaching (some taken from pastor John Weaver’s works) on biblical warfare, the responsibilities, regulations, principles and mindset. So that our young men will be better prepared to fight against physical enemies, and to do so, God’s way and with His blessing.

    The Georgia-based Weaver is a controversial preacher whom the Southern Poverty Law Center says is a “leading proponent for training Christians for armed battle”.

    As well as being a preacher, Weaver is a firearms instructor, and according to the SPLC has given weapons training to members of the League of the South […]

    Oh what a lovely frothing of spittle-flecking nutters we have here !

    […] Shea responds, from an address associated with his law practice, [A farcebork promotion] is scheduled to post tomorrow. […]


    In 2018, representative Shea was revealed to have distributed a document entitled Biblical Basis for War, which appeared to lay out a plan for a theocratic takeover, including the instruction to kill all males. Shea denied this interpretation of the document, saying instead that the material was notes for a sermon.

    In 2015, the year before the Team Rugged email from Caughran, Weaver appeared alongside Shea at the annual God and Country celebration […]

    Last May [2019], the Guardian revealed that at the 2018 God and Country event, Shea warned of civil unrest while Robertson urged the audience to prepare for civil war.

    The Grauniad quotes Shea in Republican lawmaker and ally urged crowd to prepare for civil unrest (see above embedded link) communists are lying in wait and associate told audience to collect an AR-15 and rounds of ammo. And other crazies (both quotes and people being quoted).

    Continuing with the excerpted article:

    In a video posted to his Facebook page, Shea interviews Team Rugged at the 2017 God and Country event, where he described the group as returning to basic patriot principles.

    Shea, who rarely speaks to the media, and once called journalists dirty, godless, hateful people, did not respond to detailed questions sent via email.


    Longtime Shea critic, and Republican, the Spokane county sheriff, Ozzie Knezovich, said in a telephone conversation that “it almost sounds like going back to the Hitler Youth concept”.

    Knezovich added: “There are lines that should never crossed. When you indoctrinate children in radicalized hate, then we wonder why we have the kind of shootings and bombings that we have around the world.”

    There is a sane(-sounding) republican? (I’ve No idea if Sheriff Knezovich is elected, or what his stated — or actual — positions and policies are.)

    Since the Guardian’s previous revelations about Shea’s involvement in private chats, and his appearances on podcasts and public events, Washington’s state house has commenced an investigation into his activities, and has hired an outside firm to investigate Shea’s associations with political violence.

    And from Republican discussed violent attacks and surveillance with rightwingers (link embedded above — Trigger Warning for some seriously nasty violence at the link !), the Gruaniad notes, “Shea has long promoted conspiratorial views about the cooperation of leftists and Muslims in creating counter-states in the US. He has associated with conspiracy-minded far-right groups, and later this month [April 2019] will emcee a dinner for the anti-communist John Birch society in Couer D’Alene, Idaho.” Good grief. John Birch society? Really?! A frothing of spittle-flecking retro-nutters !

  255. says

    blf @380, thanks for coining the term “retro-nutters.” I may steal that for future use. It describes some of the far rightwing nutters in Washington state, Idaho and Montana very well. I should add Nevada, since Cliven Bundy is also a retro-nutter.

  256. says

    Trump is a factor in 36 criminal cases, from threats to bombings.

    ]…] Trump has been a direct factor in way too much violence committed over the past four years, almost since his presidential campaign began. ABC News reviewed cases around the nation and found 36 Trump-related criminal cases. Seven were anti-Trump, while 29 were pro-Trump.

    Nine times people talked about Trump while they physically assaulted someone, or immediately after, such as the Boston brothers who beat a sleeping homeless man of Mexican descent and told police, “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.” Ten times, ABC News says, people “cheered or defended Trump while taunting or threatening others,” and 10 times, “Trump and his rhetoric were cited in court to explain a defendant’s violent or threatening behavior.” These categories include multiple people threatening neighbors who were members of groups Trump had ranted against, as well as multiple cases where people threatened bombings and did in fact have bomb materials. Then, of course, there’s serial pipe bomber Cesar Sayoc.

    Seven cases were anti-Trump, including one in which an intoxicated woman yelled at and pushed a man wearing a MAGA hat in a Mexican restaurant, and three involving threats against Republican members of Congress. The anti-Trump cases involved notably fewer weapons and explosives than the pro-Trump cases.

    But pro- or anti-Trump, these cases are a serious departure from the norm. U.S. presidents do not usually provoke criminal acts, let alone by the dozens. ABC News checked that out, too, and ”could not find a single criminal case filed in federal or state court where an act of violence or threat was made in the name of President Barack Obama or President George W. Bush.”


  257. says

    Spare me. This is not good.

    Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos Are Scheduled to Speak at a Conference Organized by a QAnon Supporter

    The right-wing event aims to prepare “social media warriors” for a coming “digital war.”

    […] Flynn and Papadopoulos are listed as speakers at the upcoming “Digital Soldiers Conference,” a one-day event scheduled for September 14 in Atlanta that promises to ready “[p]atriotic social media warriors” for a coming “digital civil war” against “censorship and suppression.”

    Other featured speakers include Bill Mitchell, an online broadcaster and conspiracy theorist; singer and Trump backer Joy Villa; and a “mystery guest.” The event is being organized by Rich Granville, the CEO of Yippy, Inc, who has a Twitter feed littered with references to QAnon, a conspiracy theory centered around the notion that Trump is secretly taking down an international ring of pedophiles that includes high-ranking Democrats. QAnon supporters believe that an anonymous person known as Q is dropping online clues about this supposed clandestine operation. The web page for Granville’s conference prominently features an American flag festooned with a Q. […]

    The site for the event says that a “majority of proceeds” from it—registration prices range from $49 to $2,500 for an “Ultra VIP” pass—will go to Flynn’s defense fund. “General Mike Flynn is a true American hero fighting the deep state who put everything on the line for God and Country,” the site says. Flynn’s lawyer, Sidney Powell, signed off on the event, according to Granville. […]

    Trump himself has also arguably encouraged his QAnon fans. While never directly addressing the conspiracy theory, he has retweeted QAnon conspiracists. He even invited one QAnon believer to the White House. […]


  258. blf says

    Follow-up to @360 and teh NKofE’s rapidly self-immolating new fükiphrer, New Ukip leader claims traitorous EU cult is betraying Brexit:

    [… Richard Braine, the newly-elected Ukip leader,] strongest language was reserved for the media. He opened the [press conference] by saying he had been abused and shouted at the previous evening by a journalist full of loathing.

    This spittle-flecking nazi nutter was interviewing himself?

    I ask you, the media, to cease and desist from stirring this up. Stop calling people uneducated, hateful bigots, racists, scum. Stop calling people far-right when they’re not far-right.

    Asked who was controlling this media narrative, Braine said: I think they’re being controlled by an EU federalist class. I would go so far as to say a traitor class, people who are conspiring with foreign powers against the people of this country.


    Asked why he had questioned whether the public distribution of the Qur’an could fall foul of laws over incitement to violence, Braine said the UK needed to look at the relationship between those verses and why some people seem to be motivated to go out and commit these acts.

    He dismissed the idea that a literalist reading of aspects of the Bible could also be problematic: In Islam, over 1,400 years, we’ve seen expansionist conquests, jihad, over 500 battles in Europe. So I think it’s a very dangerous thing that you’re doing, trying to pretend that these two scriptures or religious traditions are equivalent.

    At a hustings event during the leadership race, Braine argued that there were now UK towns and cities which were effective no-go areas for non-Muslims. Asked at the press conference to give examples, he cited YouTube footage of people being made to feel very uncomfortable in areas of east London, but declined to give details.


    More frothing nonsense and spectacular lack of self-awareness (cf. Dunning–Kruger) at the link.

  259. says

    Update, Stacey Abrams:

    Stacey Abrams all but confirmed she won’t mount a bid for president in 2020 on Tuesday, announcing she will train her efforts over the next year and a half on a group to expand voter access and boost involvement with the 2020 census. […]

    “There are only two things stopping us in 2020: That people have a reason to vote and that they have the right to vote,” she told a labor union in Las Vegas on Tuesday. “I’ve decided to leave it to a whole bunch of other people to make sure they have a reason to vote.”

    […] Voter suppression was a major topic after her loss to then-Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, whom she derided on Tuesday as “the architect of voter suppression.”

    That election catapulted Abrams, a former state lawmaker, onto the national stage — she was tapped to deliver Democrats’ official response to President Donald Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address, and […]

    Abrams unveiled her latest undertaking stemming from her voting rights group Fair Fight, which she began after her defeat. The group will train staffers in 20 competitive and battleground states to protect against voter suppression ahead of next year’s elections, and it will also focus on boosting response rates for next year’s all-important census survey. […]


    Rachel Maddow talked with Stacey Abrams. Abrams is so charismatic and intelligent that I think she could succeed in any path she chose. If anybody can organize and run Fair Fight 2020, it’s her.

  260. blf says

    Jailed Saudi woman activist told to deny torture in release ‘deal’:

    Saudi authorities have offered to release jailed activist Loujain al-Hathloul in exchange for her video testimony denying that she had been tortured and sexually harassed in prison, her family claimed Tuesday.

    “The Saudi state security has visited my sister in prison recently. They have asked her to… appear on video to deny the torture and harassment,” her brother Walid al-Hathloul, who is based in Canada, said on Twitter.


    Hathloul, who recently marked her 30th birthday in jail, is among around a dozen prominent women activists who are currently facing trial after being detained last year in a sweeping crackdown on dissent.

    She was among a few detainees who accused interrogators of subjecting them to torture — including electric shocks, flogging and groping in detention — a charge vigorously denied by the government.

    Hathloul also accused former royal court media advisor Saud al-Qahtani of threatening to rape and kill her, according to her family.

    Her brother said she had initially agreed to sign a document denying that she had been tortured, as a precondition for her release.

    [… S]tate security officials recently visited her again in prison to demand a video testimony.

    “Asking to appear on a video and to deny the torture doesn’t sound like a realistic demand,” Walid tweeted.


    Hathloul’s siblings have previously complained they were pressured by people close to the Saudi state to stay silent over her treatment in detention.


    Many [of the detained women] were branded as traitors by local media and are standing trial over charges that include contact with foreign media, diplomats and human rights groups.

  261. blf says

    Walmart under fire for pro-gun T-shirts:

    One shirt, for sale by a vendor called Tee’s Plus, suggests buyers can either be gun owners or victims. Another, offered by third-party seller Old Glory, is emblazoned with a crosshairs reading gun control is being able to hit your target.


    It’s not the first time Walmart has gotten into hot water for controversial t-shirts for sale on its website. The retailer felt heat in 2017 after a third-party seller offered t-shirts that suggested killing journalists. The t-shirts read: Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required. […]

    Milkshake. nazi. A refreshing combination.

  262. says

    From Wonkette, “Bill Barr: Fascism Is Freedom, And Resistance Is Futile”:

    Attorney General William P. Barr made a bit of news Monday when he said he was “appalled” that Jeffrey Epstein managed to kill himself while in federal custody. As he should have been, although it’s also appalling that the conditions at the Manhattan jail where Epstein died are seen as nigh unto torture by civilized countries.

    But some other words coming out Barr’s mouth-hole Monday haven’t gotten nearly as much attention. Barr gave a speech to the national convention of the Fraternal Order of Police in New Orleans where he explained some very simple facts about how the Trump administration sees law enforcement: It’s all about a war to impose order on evil people who keep thinking they have rights. […] a bit of casual fascism.

    Barr’s speech used all the expected cop-loving tropes you’d expect from the Right, repeatedly invoking the “thin blue line” that stands between civilization and anarchy […]

    To my mind, there is no more noble profession than serving as a police officer. You put your own life and well-being on the line to protect your communities.

    Your families spend anxious nights, so we can sleep in peace. You never know what your day may bring — what uncertainty, danger, or threat you might face. But you still get up, put on your uniform and badge, kiss your loved ones, and head out to face whatever risks might come your way.

    Barr recalled how all Americans (except for radicals who didn’t matter) cheered The Troops when they went off to liberate Kuwait, and held ticker tape parades when they came back victorious. But where are the parades for cops? (Except for every time cops march in a local parade?) Well, there should be parades, because cops are at war, too. Yes, war, endless war:

    One reason for this is that law enforcement is fighting a different type of war. We are fighting an unrelenting, never-ending fight against criminal predators in our society. While there are battles won and lost each day, there is never a final resolution – a final victory is never in sight.

    It takes a very special kind of courage to wage this kind of fight – a special kind of commitment; a special kind of self-sacrifice.

    It also takes tanks and as much military gear as you can get your hands on, too! And really canny crooked cops can steal some of the surplus, too. […]

    Barr returned to the theme later, because remember, it’s war, and the enemy — those monstrous predators that can never be wiped out — lurks among us, hiding among the civilians like the VC, so it’s best to treat everyone as a suspect. Guess what the nation’s top cop learned from the nation’s three most recent mass shootings, two of which were motivated by white supremacy and the desire to help Donald Trump eliminate Hispanic invaders? He learned that many Americans are subhuman scum, so be vigilant and support the troops:

    The recent atrocities also remind us of a basic truth. Human beings are capable of great good, but also of the basest evil. Even in a healthy society, violence, lawlessness, and predation lie just below the surface. In the final analysis, what stands between chaos and carnage on the one hand, and the civilized and tranquil society we all yearn for, is the thin blue line of law enforcement. You are the ones manning the ramparts – day in, and day out. […]

    The Framers believed that a free society can only exist if the people have the personal virtue and self-restraint to control their own worst passions and appetites.

    If people lose the values and moral discipline to control themselves, then government would increasingly have to use external force to keep order, and the community would gradually lose its freedom. This is what James Madison was talking about when he said, “We have staked our future on the ability of each of us to govern ourselves.”

    Sadly, says Barr, The People, or really, those people, have lost their way, probably because of liberals!

    We live in an age now when the institutions we have relied on to inculcate values and self-restraint have been under constant assault for over 50 years. As a result, we see about us increased social pathology: boys growing up without fathers; alienated and angry young men; gangs engaged in the most brutal violence; mass shootings; increasing mental illness and suicide among young people; a drug epidemic inflicting casualties beyond what we would sustain in a major war; growing domestic violence; an increase in sexual assaults and child exploitation.

    Worse, many communities, and Barr’s sure we know who they are, no longer believe in compliance with lawful commands from the boys in blue, because there’s just no respect anymore.

    So when a cop has to put down some monstrous 10-foot-tall 12-year-old within two seconds of arriving on the scene, the “officer’s every action is dissected, but the suspect’s resistance, and the danger it posed, frequently goes without mention.” Even when the suspect’s resistance was only perceived by the cops, but you should take their word for it — they’re professionals, and also soldiers keeping us safe. Again, for certain values of “us” and “safe.”

    Fortunately, Barr has a recipe for restoring order: Immediate compliance with police, OR ELSE. […]

    Well, that’s a very disturbing look into Barr’s mind.

  263. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current live States blog:

    Commerce secretary says Hong Kong protests are an internal matter

    Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross appeared to reiterate a talking point from the Chinese government when he was asked about the Hong Kong protests.

    Appearing on CNBC, Ross was pressed on whether the US had relinquished its role as a supporter of democracies around the world. What would we do, invade Hong Kong? Ross asked with a laugh.


    Ross went on to tell CNBC, [hair furor] talked about the possibility of troop build-up and it’s not that we are not watching it, it’s a question of what role is there for the US in that matter. This is an internal matter.

    The internal matter line was echoed in a statement yesterday from China’s Foreign Ministry. We solemnly remind you this plain truth: Hong Kong affairs are entirely China’s internal affairs, and you are neither entitled nor qualified to wantonly comment on them, the ministry said. Mind your own business and stay out of Hong Kong affairs.

    Later entries in the blog are a variety of people (both dummie and thug politicians) expressing support for the people in Hong Kong and their right to demonstrate.

    And, Satellite photos show Chinese armoured vehicles on border of Hong Kong.

  264. says

    Creepy creepiness and threats from Jacob Wohl:

    It has been a while since we last heard anything about sleazy rightwing jerkbag Jacob Wohl, […] since April, when he tried to promote a fake sexual assault claim against Pete Buttiegieg. (Instead, the supposed “victim” called Wohl and company “chronic liars” and wanted nothing to do with ’em.) But first-class assholes never really go away; Monday, Will Sommer at the Daily Beast reported that Wohl, or at least his phone, seems to have “branched out into making death threats on behalf of his political allies, telling one woman he would ‘torture you so much that you end up killing yourself.'” So everyone gets to ask yet again: How the fuck is that man not in jail?

    The details are pretty baroque, as you’d expect in any Wohl fuckbungle.

    The story involves California Republican Omar Navarro, a perennial candidate who has run twice against Maxine Waters and lost by enormous margins. But his 2018 run brought in over a million dollars from Trump fans who hated Waters, so you bet he’s gearing up for another run. Bit of a problem though: Navarro’s former girlfriend, rightwing relationship advice writer (there’s a niche for everything) DeAnna Lorraine Tesoriero, was seeking “a restraining order against him after enduring what she describes as months of harassment since dumping him in April.” […]

    “Don’t worry, I’ll see you soon,” the text message read. “It won’t be painful. I’m looking forward to watching your soul leave your eyes.”

    “I’ll make it my mission to torture you so much that you end up killing yourself,” the writer of the messages added.

    Both women say they’ve received a whole bunch of threatening messages, but these ones, from a number with a 949 area code in Orange County, were different!

    Usually, the messages came from numbers they had never seen before, sometimes with fake names attached. This time, though, there was a clue as to who was behind the latest round of texts.

    A search in the TrueCaller app, which collects phone data from users and phone directories, showed the 949 number was associated with Jacob Wohl. The Daily Beast was able to independently confirm the connection. […]


  265. blf says

    Follow-up to Lynna@385, Stacey Abrams is fighting voter suppression — but how widespread is it? (minor reformatting, not marked):

    As of 2018, 10 states — all with Republican-controlled legislatures — have strict voter ID laws in place

    [… W]hat is the size of the challenge to tackle voter suppression?

    ● ‘17 million voters purged’: At least 17 million voters were purged nationwide between 2016 and 2018, according to a recent study by the Brennan Center for Justice. […]

    ● Strict voter ID laws: Research has shown that strict voter identification laws suppress voter turnout and favor Republican candidates. [… V]oters without acceptable identification must vote on a provisional ballot and also take additional steps after Election Day for it to be counted […]

    ● Polling station closures: To make it more difficult to vote, some states have closed polling stations, limited early voting or reduced polling hours. States once required under the Voting Rights Act to obtain federal preclearance for changes in voting procedures […] have closed almost 20% more polling stations per capita than jurisdictions in the rest of the country […]

  266. says

    blf @393, thanks for that additional information. Stacey Abrams, and those working with her, certainly have a lot of hard work ahead of them. On Maddow’s show, Abrams also stressed the importance of voting for democratic candidates in down-ballot races so that state legislatures can be switched from red to blue.

    In other news, a Republican super doofus, Representative Steve King, wondered:

    What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled out anyone who was a product of rape or incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that? Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages that happened throughout all these different nations, I know that I can’t say that I was not a part of a product of that.

    It’s not the baby’s fault for the sin of the father, or of the mother

    King has a history of making similar comments.

    From the readers comments:

    So, he’s not just ‘pro-life’ …

    He’s also pro- rape and incest?
    I don’t know about rape but the product of incest between close blood relatives? That would explain a lot.

  267. blf says

    Top US bosses earn 278 times more than their employees:

    Chief executives at the US’s top companies took home [an average of –blf] $17.2m in pay last year — 278 times the salary of their average worker.

    Between 1978 and 2018, the average pay of the bosses of the US’s largest 350 companies has grown by 1,007.5%, adjusted for inflation, according to the Economics Policy Institute’s [EPI] latest survey.

    The increase far outstripped the typical worker’s salary growth, at 11.9%, adjusted for inflation, and also the returns from the stock market, which are often used to justify high executive pay. The S&P 500 index of top US companies grew 706.7% over that period.


    This year, Ray Dalio, billionaire founder of Bridgewater, the world’s biggest hedge fund, warned that the gap between rich and poor in the US was becoming a “national emergency”. JP Morgan’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon, has called for a “Marshall plan” to address a “systemic problem” that had left half of society “severely disadvantaged”.

    Lawrence Mishel, EPI distinguished fellow, said there was a direct correlation between the outsized pay gains made by CEOs and the stagnant wages of their workforce given that there was little evidence linking the turbocharged growth in their wages and the performance of their companies.

    “You could cut CEO pay in half and the economy would not be any different,” he said.

    CEO compensation rose by 7.1% in 2018 and 9.2% in 2017, according to EPI. The rise has been driven by increasingly large awards of stock in the companies they run. On average, CEOs received $7.5m in stock awards in 2018, accounting for close to half their compensation.


    By contrast, the typical worker in one of these large firms has seen their annual compensation rise by just 5.3% over the course of the recovery [since 2009 –blf] and their wages actually fell by 0.2% between 2017 and 2018.


    While some shareholders and corporate governance groups have targeted executives at companies they believe are overpaid, Mishel said the easiest way to address the gap was to substantially increase taxes on top earners.

    “It’s hard to do this one CEO at a time,” he said.

    I would add: Tax the shareholders. If they — the owners of the company — allow their board excessive pay (of, say, Nx of the average pay of the firm’s non-executives (both employees and contractors), a tax of the same amount — Nx of the year’s average market price of the shares applies. Some amount, Mx, is deemed “acceptable”, and the only the shareholdings of corporations paying over Mx is taxed. So, presuming the 20x of the 1960s is the maximum acceptable (M = 20), then for hypothetical “average” company, the current tax would be 278x of the share’s price (N = 278). Yes, that is more than the shares are worth. That is deliberate.

    There are many flaws and ambiguities with this idea, but the idea is basically: Shareholders (owners!) who don’t exercise control over what they own are penalised. (And yes, “shareholders” includes retirement / pension funds, which is actually one of the many flaws.) It might be possible to adopt this wild & farfetched idea to other society-destroying corporate actions & inactions, such as climate catastrophe denial or insufficient (independently measured!) progress, and so on.

  268. says

    Definitely NOT a good idea:

    The Trump administration announced on Wednesday that it was making changes to an Obama-era executive order that could allow religious federal contractors to discriminate against LGBTQ workers.

    The Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs published a proposal to “clarify” President Barack Obama’s 2014 executive order that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against employees on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

    According to the OFCCP, the new rule would “clarify that religious organizations may make employment decisions consistent with their sincerely held religious tenets and beliefs without fear of sanction by the federal government.”

    The agency claims that the proposal “ensures that conscience and religious freedom are given the broadest protection permitted by law.”

    “The proposed regulation merely clarifies the regulation’s definition of ‘religion’ and related terms to confirm that “religion” includes not merely belief, but also ‘all aspects of religious observance and practice,’” a Labor Department spokesperson told TPM in an email.

    But civil rights advocates say the proposed change could allow workplace discrimination against women, religious minorities and the LGBTQ community based on employers’ religious practices.

    Human Right Campaign President Alphonso David slammed the rule as a “broad and sweeping effort” to implement a “license to discriminate.”

    “With this proposed regulation, the Trump administration is seeking to gut existing protections for LGBTQ people, women, and religious minorities, and we cannot stand idly by,” David said in a statement.


    From the readers comments:

    According to the OFCCP, the new rule would “clarify that religious organizations may make employment decisions consistent with their sincerely held [bigotry] without fear of sanction by the federal government.”

    Using the First Amendment to make racial, sexual and other discrimination 100% legal has been a long standing and long attempted goal for white supremacists and the Confederacy. They’re finally getting to see it become reality.

  269. blf says

    Hundreds of sexual assault claims filed in New York:

    Hundreds of people who say they were victims of sexual assault have filed lawsuits against prominent institutions in the US state of New York — including the Roman Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America — as a new law that extends the statute of limitations on those cases went into effect.

    The state’s landmark Child Victims Act, which legislators passed earlier this year, lifts the statute of limitations on sexual abuse cases for one year, giving alleged abuse victims in New York a second chance to sue, even if the crime happened decades ago.

    Previously, most victims of childhood sexual abuse only had until the age of 23 to bring criminal charges or to seek damages in civil lawsuits in New York.

    Under the law, after the year-long window closes, accusers will have until the age of 55 to file lawsuits and until the age 28 to seek criminal charges. Advocates, mental health experts and victims say it often takes years for people who were molested as children to speak out about their trauma, even to a loved one.


    The law was passed after a decade of debate among legislators, in which the year-long window to file suits became a major sticking point. Some major institutions, such as the Roman Catholic Church, argued that opening the floodgate of lawsuits could cause catastrophic financial harm to any organisation that cares for children.

    Attention, raping children cult, an organisation that cares for children should not hide allegations, threaten those making the allegations, promote all sorts of specious hypothesis about proven incidents, and — perhaps most of all — protect alleged perpetrators at all, much less in various manners that allows them to continue diddling kids.

    The church dropped its opposition to the bill this year.


    Within minutes of the window opening, at least 45 former Rockefeller University Hospital patients had filed lawsuits against a prominent doctor.


    The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York said in a statement on Wednesday that it had anticipated facing new lawsuits with the change in the law.

    A similar law passed in 2002 in the state of California resulted in the dioceses there paying $1.2bn in legal settlements.

    The church said it would continue to invite people to consider a compensation programme created in 2016 for people sexually abused by its clergy, including those previously excluded from suing by the statute of limitations.

    So far, the archdiocese has paid more than $66m in compensation to 335 victims. In accepting the compensation, those victims have waived their right to sue in court, the archdiocese said.

    Now, now, you mustn’t have our money, says the raping children cult. But we do offer you inconsiderate tithe-payers some thoughts and prayers.

  270. says

    Whoa! If true, this is blatant privilege for the man in the partnership, and blatant discrimination against the woman.

    New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, unlike her co-author Glenn Thrush, was reportedly forced to pay back her advance to publisher Random House after their book deal on President Donald Trump’s presidency fell through as a result of the sexual misconduct allegations against Thrush.

    According to Buzzfeed News’s report on Wednesday, Random House made Haberman give back her advance when she pulled out of the project after struggling to find a new partner to write the book. Thrush was dropped from the book deal in 2017 as he faced sexual misconduct allegations.

    However, Thrush was still allowed to keep his reported six-figure share of the advance.

    The Times launched an investigation into Thrush and then removed him from the outlet’s White House press team at the time. However, it seems that the disgraced journalist is quietly shifting back into his role as a White House reporter.

    Neither Haberman nor Random House responded to TPM’s request for comment.

    From the readers comments:

    “Thrush was still allowed to keep his reported six-figure share of the advance.”
    Wobbly-Bits Privilege.
    How the hell does that work?

    “Oh, you have a penis? Well, never mind then.”
    They threw Thrush out and Haberman backed out?

    So the lesson is to get caught sexually harrassing people and get paid.
    this stinks. This is just blatant sexism.

    And why in the hell does Glenn Thrush still have a job after the multiple sexual harassment charges that were against him? Just about any other man in any other occupation, outside of someone working in the GOP, would have been canned and would be writing copy for Alpo advertisements.
    Not a big fan of Maggie Haberman, but that’s a pretty bullsh*t deal right there.

    Some readers speculated that Thrush had a better agent, one who included a “no return” clause in the contract. I have some doubts about that. The contracts would likely have been the same for both writers, or there may have been only one contract.

    Some people are angry at Haberman for sort of kissing Trump’s ass in print, however that doesn’t excuse unequal treatment when it comes to getting paid. Also, in the case of Haberman, some of the purported ass-kissing was actually an editor’s fault. Some her fault. Some not her fault.

  271. blf says

    Not exactly political, Mona Lisa fans decry brief encounter with their idol in Paris:

    The queue snakes along the Louvre’s corridors, up the steps and escalators and outside to the famous glass pyramid. Most of those waiting have one ultimate aim: to see the Mona Lisa.

    The usual complaints from visitors about Leonardo da Vinci’s celebrated oil-on-wood painting cover everything from the lengthy queues to its size — at just 77cm by 53cm, it is smaller than many expect.

    But the Mona Lisa’s transfer from its usual gallery in the Salle des États, currently undergoing renovations, to the magnificent Galerie Médicis, lined with Rubens paintings, has created a whole new palette of gripes.

    Here’s my tip (for the Salle des États): There are loads of other splendid paintings there, including a number of other da Vinci’s. Unlike the well-known one, there are not inside a dim armoured case surrounded by hordes with screaming children. In fact, much(?) of the time, there’s rather few people studying them, and certainly no queues. You can walk right up to them. Look at them. Really look at them. Wander around. And if yer interested, you can glimpse that famous one. However, the Louvre does take a rather dim view of shooting the screaming children, so, unfortunately, you’ll have to put up with the noise.

    And the Louvre is the world’s largest(?) (art?) museum. There’s a bazillion other wonderful things in there.

    Oh, and from the pyramid, don’t head in that direction (easy to spot because of the signs & queues). Go in one of the other directions. I myself like a wonder through the foundations (Medieval Louvre), then popping up into someplace in the museum.

    [… V]isitors say museum staff are giving them barely a minute to take a selfie in front of the painting before ushering them along. They complain of total disorganisation and Louvre chaos.


    The Louvre is the world’s most visited museum, attracting 10.2 million people a year; about 80% are believed to come just to see the Mona Lisa. Last month, officials had to restrict access for three days because of the chaos caused by the queues.


    I’m amazed at the “about 80% are believed to come just to see the Mona Lisa”. Really?! It’s plausible, but multiple sky faeries on a stick, the place has loads of other famous things. An original Code of Hammurabi. The Seated Scribe. Vénus de Milo (which, sadly, like the famous painting, can be hard to study being surrounded by hordes complete with ever-present screaming children). The Lacemaker (La Dentellière). Psyche Revived by the Kiss of Love. The Dying Slave (L’Esclave Mourant). And on. And on. And on and on and on. And on…

    “Total disorganisation” indeed… on the part of these people ignoring this enormous collection.

    I do have a little bit of sympathy with a different interpretation of “Louvre chaos” — the paintings, in particular, can be hung in a manner that does not invite close inspection, and the informative labeling isn’t. The Grand Gallery used to be a mess (cf. Robert Hubert’s painting of it), albeit I note recent images suggest it’s been significantly improved.

  272. blf says

    Australia removes climate ‘crisis’ from Pacific islands draft declaration:

    Australia has succeeded in removing all but one reference to coal on the draft communique of the Pacific Islands Forum, and is expected to be able to get that removed on Thursday […].

    Sources familiar with the negotiations on the communique, which is used for regional policy making, told Guardian Australia that Australia has been working hard during negotiations to soften the language on climate change and has succeeded in many mentions.

    Tuvalu’s prime minister, Enele Sopoaga, told Guardian Australia at a dawn fishing trip on Thursday in the lead-up to the leaders’ retreat that it looked as though Pacific leaders would not be successful in getting the language of “climate change crisis” in the communique, with the draft most likely to describe the current situation as a climate change reality.

    A source saw a draft text of the communique said the version text leaders would be debating would call on members to reflect on the UN secretary general’s call for no new coal and an end to fossil fuel subsidies, rather than actually endorsing it, which is what Pacific small island leaders have said they want.


    If Australia succeeds the resolution will differ greatly from what was hoped for by small island Pacific leaders, who released a statement on Tuesday that called for “an immediate global ban on the construction of new coal-fired power plants and coalmines” and for all countries “to rapidly phase out their use of coal in the power sector”.


    On Monday, the Fijian prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, called for Australia “to do everything possible to achieve a rapid transition from coal to energy sources that do not contribute to climate change”, saying coal posed an “existential threat” to Pacific islands.

  273. Akira MacKenzie says

    Biden allies float scaling back events to limit gaffes

    The allies, growing increasingly nervous about Biden’s verbal flubs, have said it’s an approach that’s been suggested to campaign officials on the heels of the former vice president’s stumbles.

    Biden has a tendency to make the blunders late in the day, his allies say, particularly after a long swing on the road, like he had last week in Iowa. They say something needs to be done to give the candidate more down time as the campaign intensifies in the fall.

    I hate to play armchair physician, but he sounds like he’s “sundowning.” That’s not a good sign.

  274. blf says

    In Israel, Netanyahu might block Omar and Tlaib from entering Israel, says official:

    Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was holding consultations with senior ministers and aides on Thursday to re-evaluate the decision to allow two Democratic congresswomen to enter the country next week.

    An Israeli official said they are meeting about an upcoming visit by the Minnesota representative Ilhan Omar and the Michigan representative Rashida Tlaib. The newly elected Muslim members of Congress are outspoken critics of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and support the boycott movement against Israel. Tlaib’s family immigrated to the US from the West Bank.

    The official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said “there is a possibility that Israel will not allow the visit in its current proposed format”.

    Last month, the Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, said Israel would not deny entry to any member of Congress.


    Several former Israeli diplomats spoke out on Twitter against barring the congresswomen from visiting.

    Arthur Lenk, formerly Israel’s ambassador to South Africa, said barring Omar and Tlaib “would be sinking us deeper into US domestic political quagmire”.

    Alon Pinkas, formerly Israel’s consul in New York, called such an action “fake policy” and said Israel should instead “engage Omar and Tlaib, show them where they are wrong or have a partial and skewed perception of reality”.

    Some more detail, PM to decide if BDS supporters Omar and Tlaib allowed to visit Israel (I’m uncertain of this source’s reliability):

    Both Omar, a Somali-born lawmaker from Minnesota, and Tlaib, the first-Palestinian-American woman to be elected to Congress, have been accused of harboring anti-Israel sentiment, in part due to their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions [BDS] movement.

    Omar […] introduced a resolution cosponsored by Tlaib aimed at pushing back against laws seeking to clamp down on boycotts of Israel. The resolution, which does not explicitly mention Israel or the pro-Palestinian [sic] BDS movement, affirms the right of Americans to participate in boycotts as an expression of free speech under the First Amendment, citing boycott movements against Nazi Germany, the USSR and apartheid South Africa.


    In 2017, Israel enacted a controversial law barring entry to any foreigner who “knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel.”


    The Foreign Ministry can recommend the law be waived for visiting politicians or government officials out of diplomatic concerns; however, due to the sensitive nature and timing of Omar and Tlaib’s visit, the Haaretz daily reported Wednesday the final decision will be made by Netanyahu.

    Omar was accused of anti-Semitism earlier this year after she said that American support for Israel was driven by money from a pro-Israel lobbying group.

    Similar accusations of anti-Semitism were leveled against Tlaib in May, when she claimed that Palestinians were involved in creating “a safe haven for Jews” after the Holocaust.

    Representative Tlaib said many more things, making clear, as one example, the land transfer was involuntary. This — plus the misleading description of BDS as being pro-Palestinian (more accurate would be “anti-apartheid”) — is an example of why I am suspicious of this source, it fails to make clear the context (albeit there do not appear to be any rabidly ridiculous claims in this article).

  275. says

    The man arrested in Las Vegas, Conor Climo, was a neo-Nazi. Of course he’s affiliated with a neo-Nazi group.

    […] Atomwaffen Division is a neo-Nazi organization eager for a race war and committed to terrorist attacks against Jews, immigrants and other targets in the U.S. — power grids, nuclear facilities — that would foment fear.

    […] the group had been connected to five murders in recent years, including one involving a gay, Jewish college student in California. It appeared in a Frontline film raising questions about the federal response to domestic terrorism threats just weeks after 11 Jewish worshipers were allegedly killed by a racist gunman in Pittsburgh.

    So it was striking, then, when late last week those very words turned up a formal complaint filed by federal prosecutors as they announced the arrest of a 23-year-old man in Las Vegas for plotting to firebomb one or more Jewish sites in the city.

    “AWD is a white supremacist extremist organization,” the complaint read. “AWD membership consists of mostly white males between the ages of approximately 16 to 30 years of age who all believe in the superiority of the white race. […] AWD encourages attacks on the federal government, including critical infrastructure, minorities, homosexuals, and Jews. […] preparation for an ‘ultimate and uncompromising victory’ in a race war.”

    The man arrested in Las Vegas, Conor Climo, was affiliated with AWD, shared its ideology and violent aims, communicated with its members in secret online chats and once had joined one of its offshoot groups […]

    The complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas lays out a disturbing array of action Climo was allegedly willing to undertake:

    Attacking a synagogue, maybe with a firebomb, maybe with a group of gunmen;
    A similar attack on an office of the Anti-Defamation League;
    Another against a gay bar;
    A trial-run assault on a homeless encampment.

    […] Where was the FBI? […] Of course, part of the answer is that law enforcement is constrained in certain ways about how aggressively it can investigate and prosecute potential domestic terrorism threats.

    But in looking at the criminal complaint filed in Las Vegas last week, it appears that FBI agents conducted the sort of sting operation against Atomwaffen that they used to infiltrate and arrest suspected Islamic terrorist groups.

    […] the FBI had an agent posing as a white supremacist ally begin dealing with Climo.

    A subsequent search of Climo’s residence turned up guns and bomb-making materials. […]

    Prosecutors alleged in the complaint that Climo had also associated with an Atomwaffen spinoff group called the Feuerkrieg Division.


  276. says

    Cartoon depiction of Trump encouraging immigrants to sneak into the U.S., where Trump will then hire them to work at his construction projects, at his golf clubs, and in other Trump businesses.


  277. says

    Stephen Colbert on Trump: “He’s trying to invite us into this madness”

    The video is about seven minutes long.


    “Our president wants to live in a fantasy world where only the way he perceives the world is the way it is,” the “Late Show” host told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an excerpt from a wide-ranging interview set to air Thursday on “Anderson Cooper 360.”

    “He’s also trying to convince us that that is the only world that exists,” Colbert, who frequently takes on Trump on his CBS late-night show, told Cooper when asked about him labeling the commander in chief a “heretic to reality.”

    “It’s extremely solipsistic,” Colbert, 55, continued. “But he’s also trying to invite us into this madness that he has. And that is heresy against reality.”

    “That is proselytizing for the most selfish, and the most basic instincts that the American people — like all people — have. But he’s not appealing to the better angels of our nature.”

    While Trump appeared as a guest on Colbert’s show in 2015, the comedian said he wouldn’t welcome him to the “Late Show” stage again.

    “The quick answer would be no because it would be hard for me to be properly respectful of the office,” Colbert replied, when asked if he’d have Trump back as a guest. “Because I think that he is so disrespectful of the office, it’s very hard to perceive him as I would want to perceive a president, in terms of their status, their dignity, and their representation of the United States. So I think just for safety’s sake it wouldn’t be a good idea.”

  278. says

    So, yeah, Israel decided to deny srael Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib entry to the country.

    […]The decision was announced moments after President Trump tweeted that it would show “great weakness” for Israel to allow the two congresswomen into the country.

    The president has been an outspoken critic of both Omar and Tlaib, who last year became the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. […]


  279. says

    Pete Buttigieg’s plan to use immigration to revitalize shrinking communities,

    Many struggling American communities are, among other things, losing people. Meanwhile, many millions more people would like to move to the United States of America than the country is prepared to allow in.

    Three economists have called for leveraging the latter into a solution for the former, allowing both communities and immigrants to opt into a special program that would allow communities experiencing population loss to issue temporary visas to skilled foreigners that would allow them to live and work in places that want more workers.

    The economists, John Lettieri, Kenan Fikri, and Adam Ozimek, call them “heartland visas” or “place-based visas” […]. South Bend, Indiana, mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s larger plan for rural America included them under the name Community Renewal Visas, and the US Conference of Mayors endorsed the concept in a resolution passed on a bipartisan basis earlier this summer.

    […] The visas could also make immigration a less toxic issue in national politics, reframing migration as a source of national strength that should be strategically deployed rather than as a burden to be avoided.

    Decline can beget further decline […]

    As the population shrinks, the tax base shrinks with it. But the cost of old pensions and maintaining road, sewer, and water networks does not shrink. This tends to lead to higher taxes and lower-quality city services, which further encourages people to leave. […]

    According to data assembled by BuildZoom, the average replacement value of a house in the Akron metro area — in other words, what it would cost to rebuild it if it were destroyed — is about $199,000. But the average market price of a house in the Akron area is just $177,000. […]

    […] landlords don’t have a real economic motive to adequately maintain their properties, creating often-squalid conditions and exploitative relationships. People living in homes they own, of course, are strongly motivated to keep them in decent shape regardless of the finances. But the low market value of their property means that the money or sweat equity they invest in these undertakings will be largely wasted rather than serving as a means of accumulating wealth.

    Difficulty accumulating savings tends to bleed local service businesses of revenue. And the low value of property means that there is little new building which reduces job opportunities in the construction trades, offering further reason for people to move away.

    The whole cycle of decline becomes very hard to break. High-end employers don’t really want to open offices in places that don’t have a deep bench of skilled workers: […] But even skilled workers who might have sentimental or families reasons to want to live in Akron will resist doing so if there are no job opportunities. […]


    More at the link on the self-perpetuating cycles of decline. Also more on the new chances to immigrate that Buttigieg’s plan creates.

  280. says

    Gender discrimination.

    Women candidates are constantly asked about their electability.

    The top women candidates in the 2020 race have never lost an election.

    […] Voters favor Sen. Elizabeth Warren as one of their top choices for the Democratic nomination when the focus isn’t on “electability.” When it is, they wind up picking former Vice President Joe Biden. [head/desk]

    […] While many people have candidates they’re excited about, their top priority by far is beating President Donald Trump. And for some, because of Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016, they’re not sure certain candidates — namely, women — can do it.

    “Biden and Warren are our top two choices,” voter Connie Esbeck recently told Vox’s Tara Golshan in Iowa, adding, “I’m still afraid there’s going to be people that are prejudiced against electing a woman.” […]

    “The default stature for voters … is to question whether or not a woman can be successful or has what it takes,” says Rutgers political science professor Kelly Dittmar, who’s also a scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics. […]

    Moreover, making 2016 the definitive case study asks voters to apply the performance of one woman candidate to every woman who comes after her, completely obscuring the individual strengths and positions of this cycle’s contenders, and the electoral success women have had in other races. It also discounts variables that differ across cycles, such as voter turnout.

    […] During the 2018 midterms, women candidates didn’t just win key races; they drove the “blue wave” that ushered Democrats back into the House majority.

    All of this is to say that the idea that a woman candidate is not as “electable” as a man isn’t grounded in actual data. Certainly, it’s possible voters may have concerns about how a candidate’s policy positions would hold up in a general election against Trump, but those questions are worth applying to candidates of any gender. […]

    Electability is a misleading construct
    Ultimately, electability is, simply put, a problematic construct. For one, it can fuel a self-fulfilling feedback loop: If we assume women can’t win, we likely won’t ever give those candidates the chance to try. For another, electability is quite hard to predict.

    “The standard by which we determine electability is often unfair,” Dittmar says. “If we assume that proving electability requires a woman being president, we can’t use that as the measure to elect the first woman.” […]

    In an interview with NBC News, Harris noted that she hasn’t been seen as “electable” in many races she’s run in, even though she ultimately won all of them. “Every office I’ve run for — no one like me had ever done the job,” she said. “Based on gender, based on race. Every time, pundits said the people weren’t ready for it. But I won.” […]

    More at the link.

  281. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Lynna @413 Sen. Bennett was on Rachel Maddow last night, and indicted that Hickenlooper will likely run for the US Senate in Colorado. He holds a double digit lead over incumbent Sen. Gardner(r), and would likely flip the senate seat. Couldn’t find a video, but found a NYT article.

  282. Akira MacKenzie says

    Lynna, OM @ 410

    So, the lesson is if you want to visit Israel then you better learn to kiss their genocidal, apartheid asses.

  283. blf says

    Follow-up to @406 & @410, From the Grauniad’s live blog:

    David Friedman, the US ambassador [sic] to Israel, said in a statement that he would support the Netanyahu government’s decision to block Omar and Tlaib’s trip.


    The United States supports and respects the decision of the Government of Israel to deny entry to the Tlaib/Omar Delegation, Friedman said.

    This trip, pure and simple, is nothing more than an effort to fuel the BDS engine that Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar so vigorously support, Friedman added, comparing the boycott movement to economic warfare. Like the United States, Israel is a nation of laws. We support Israel’s application of its laws in this case.

    Please read my attached statement with regard to the decision of the Government of Israel to deny entry to BDS activists, Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, in accordance with its national laws.

    If supporting BDS is not good because it is “economic warfare”, then what is hair furor’s multiple trade wars? If Israel is a nation of laws, then why is it routinely considered an apartheid state? And if the States is also such a nation, then why is hair furor teh occupant of Wacko House?

  284. blf says

    Albeit this, at first glance, seems like it could be a reason to boycott Levi Strauss, et al., it perhaps is not, Bosses force female workers making jeans for Levis and Wrangler into sex (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}, and my added emboldening):

    Women producing jeans for American brands including Levi Strauss, Wrangler and Lee have been forced to sleep with their managers to keep their jobs or gain promotion, an investigation into sexual harassment and coercion at garment factories in Lesotho has found.

    Brands have responded to the “extensive” allegations by the the US-based Worker Rights Consortium [WRC] by signing enforceable agreements with labour and women’s rights groups to eliminate gender-based violence for more than 10,000 workers at five factories owned by the Taiwanese company Nien Hsing, one of the southern African country’s largest employers.

    A two-year investigation by WRC into Nien Hsing operations, published on Thursday, found that managers and supervisors regularly coerced female workers into sexual relationships by promising promotions or full-time contracts. The investigation also found that management failed to take disciplinary action against offenders, and that workers’ right to unionise was suppressed preventing them from collectively raising their concerns.

    The abuses violated workers’ rights under Lesotho’s labour laws, international standards and the codes of conduct of the brands sourcing from the factories.

    Sexual harassment from managers and supervisors was so pervasive that male co-workers also routinely engaged in abusive behaviour [&helip;]


    Notably, the abuses were not detected by the factories’ voluntary codes of conduct or monitoring programmes, as managers put pressure on employees “to lie” to auditors, the report claims.


    Michael Kobori, vice-president of sustainability for Levi Strauss & Co, told the Associated Press that as soon as the company received WRC’s findings, Nien Hsing were informed “that this would not be tolerated and required them to develop a corrective action plan”.


    Rather than suggest the brands terminate their contracts with Nien Hsing, WRC asked them to use their business relationship to leverage the supplier to change its practices, said WRC senior programme director Rola Abimourched.

    “Internal ‘complaints procedures’ ask workers to trust the very management responsible for the abuses and ignore the power imbalance between workers and their supervisors, who may be perpetrators of abuse,” explained Abimourched.

    “Despite the existence of social auditing programs that aim to address gender-based violence, workers at the bottom of supply chains remain vulnerable to abuse. These binding agreements present a fundamentally different approach, one with teeth.”

    The agreements include the creation of an independent oversight body with the power to investigate claims of sexual harassment and expose abusive managers. The body also has the power to compel the factories to discipline offenders, including sacking where warranted.


    Abimourched said the factory agreements are likely to have an impact beyond the workplace.

    “We expect that this will have a tremendous impact on the lives of women workers who will no longer fear going to work,” she said.

    “We also expect that, because of the size of this employer and {because} leading women’s rights organisations were involved in the design of the programme, the success of the programme could impact the garment sector, as well as society in Lesotho.”


    This seems to be the sort of intervention I generally support. Presuming it works generally as intended, then everyone “wins”, excepting the culprits who don’t learn / reform. By not doing the raping children cult trick of moving (to another supplier in this case), the cycle could be broken. Had Levi Strauss &tc simply changed supplier, then in addition to the employees at loosing their jobs (probably), the employees at the new supplier could very possible also be at risk since next-to-nothing would be protecting them (probably).

  285. says

    Followup to comments 406, 410, 415 and 416.

    A few more responses to the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reversed himself today, and decided to prohibit Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from visiting Israel during a trip scheduled to start Sunday.

    Even pro-Israel groups are criticizing Netanyahu’s decision: “Any sitting member of Congress should be welcome to visit Israel as official representatives of Israel’s closest ally and most critical source of international support,” said the Israel Policy Forum, a New York-based Jewish organization. “We strongly urge Prime Minister Netanyahu to reconsider.”

    Democratic Party response:

    The Democratic Party’s leading progressive presidential primary candidates also swiftly condemned the decision, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) calling it a “sign of enormous disrespect to the