1. tomh says

    Federal judges reportedly call emergency meeting in wake of Stone case intervention
    By Fred Barbash
    Feb. 18, 2020

    The head of the Federal Judges Association is taking the extraordinary step of calling an emergency meeting to address the intervention in politically sensitive cases by President Trump and Attorney General William P. Barr.

    U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe, the Philadelphia-based judge who heads the voluntary association of around 1,100 life-term federal judges, told USA Today that the issue “could not wait.” The association, founded in 1982, ordinarily concerns itself with matters of judicial compensation and legislation affecting the federal judiciary.
    A search of news articles since the group’s creation revealed nothing like a meeting to deal with the conduct of a president or attorney general.

    Rufe, appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, could not be reached for comment late Monday.

  2. says

    On mercury pollution, Trump’s EPA goes beyond industry requests.

    It’s a striking realization when Trump’s EPA takes a position that is more pro-pollution than the position of polluters themselves.

    […] Trump’s administration has taken steps to ease rules on mercury pollution from power plants, not simply as part of a general hostility toward environmental safeguards, but specifically to help the coal industry […]

    The Washington Post had a striking report on this yesterday.

    For more than three years, the Trump administration has prided itself on working with industry to unshackle companies from burdensome environmental regulations. But as the Environmental Protection Agency prepares to finalize the latest in a long line of rollbacks, the nation’s power sector has sent a different message: Thanks, but no thanks.

    The article noted that Exelon, one of the nation’s largest utilities, told the EPA that its effort to change a rule that has cut emissions of mercury and other toxins is “an action that is entirely unnecessary, unreasonable, and universally opposed by the power generation sector.” […]

    We saw a similar dynamic nearly a year ago, when some of the world’s largest auto manufacturers, whom Trump has tried to help by gutting emission standards, collectively told the administration it was going too far to make polluting easier. The president’s agenda, the companies explained in June 2019, was bad for business and created “untenable” manufacturing instability. […]

    the industry adopted the Obama-era rules, complied with the regulations, and created cleaner conditions. Or as Kathy Robertson, a senior manager for environmental policy at Exelon, told the Post, the status quo “works.”

    The administration doesn’t seem to care. From the article:

    The agency plans to declare that it is not “appropriate and necessary” for the government to limit harmful pollutants from power plants, even though every utility in America has complied with standards put in place in 2011 under President Barack Obama. While it will technically keep existing restrictions on mercury in place, it means the government would not be able to count collateral benefits — such as reducing soot and smog — when it sets limits on toxic air pollutants. It’s a rollback that industry officials argue could open the door to new legal fights, prompt some plants to turn off their pollution controls and ultimately sicken more Americans — all so that the administration can rewire how the government weighs the costs of regulation.

    At issue is something called Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS), which applies to dangerous neurotoxins believed to cause developmental problems in children. The Obama-era safeguards were effective in cutting emissions by 85%.

    This is the progress Trump is prepared to walk away from.

    When the Republican president brags about scrapping “regulations,” as he did again yesterday, it’s worth remembering that these are the kinds of policies he’s referring to.

  3. says

    This thread hit the 500-comments limit … again. Since we have rolled over to a new chapter of the Political Madness thread, here are a few links back to the previous chapter, just for convenience’s sake. Scroll around back there for more interesting, outrageous or uplifting information.
    “Billions”: Season 2020, a comment from tomh concerning the control/input from billionaires in the 2020 campaign for president.
    Retired US Navy Admiral William McRaven speaks out.
    New evidence of Bill Barr’s perfidy.

  4. says

    Well, as you might expect, Trump was raging on Twitter again this morning.

    From the New York Times:

    […] Trump threatened on Tuesday to sue “everyone” involved in the now-closed special counsel inquiry and continued his attacks on the federal case against his longtime friend and adviser Roger J. Stone Jr. […]

    Yes, “everyone.”

    Commentary on the Twitter rampage from this morning:

    […] Apparently quoting commentary he saw on Fox News, Trump took aim at U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, suggesting she should give Stone, one of the president’s felonious friends, a new trial ahead of his scheduled sentencing.

    Update: Judge Jackson did not comply with Trump’s request, not really. She said that she will not delay the sentencing, which is scheduled for Thursday morning.

    She spoke by phone with prosecutors and with Stone’s lawyers about a recently filed defense motion for a new trial based on a claim that one of the jurors was biased.

    Jackson replied. “We’ve already put off sentencing once,” she said. “It makes sense to proceed, since there’s no harm to the defense,” a reference to the fact that if she were to grant the motion for a new trial, the sentence would be set aside.

    More commentary:

    As part of the same online tantrum, Trump went on to lash out at former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, federal investigators, and the entirety of the special counsel’s office investigation. The president, who has a strange habit of threatening to sue perceived rivals without following through, added, “If I wasn’t President, I’d be suing everyone all over the place. BUT MAYBE I STILL WILL. WITCH HUNT!”

    […] The brazenness of Trump’s antics is obviously remarkable. After a week of scandal involving the breakdowns in the American rule of law, the sitting president, unembarrassed and unconcerned with legal constraints, appears eager to flaunt his indifference. […]

    By bragging about his professed ability to intervene in criminal cases — whenever he wants, to any extent he wants — Trump may very well want his allies to know they’ll be protected, while simultaneously signaling to his enemies that they’ll be hunted.

    And it’s at this point that the spotlight shifts back to Bill Barr. If Trump’s intervention makes it “impossible” for him to do his job, and the president continues to intervene anyway, should we expect the attorney general to tender his resignation?


  5. says

    Incompetence, delusional thinking, and more chaos in the White House —just what you don’t want during a coronavirus outbreak.

    […] Trump published a tweet praising Chinese President Xi Jinping for his handling of the coronavirus outbreak. [He] said of his counterpart in Beijing, “He is strong, sharp and powerfully focused on leading the counterattack.”

    [Trump’s] gushing praise made some administration officials uncomfortable, largely because they believe China’s response has been wholly inadequate and dangerously opaque.

    It was against this backdrop that the Washington Post had an interesting report over the weekend:

    Although the United States has so far effectively contained the virus, some senior administration officials said there have been tensions within the administration over what information the president should receive, his posture toward China and what message to send to the American public.

    All of this is obviously of great importance from a public-health perspective, but I was struck by the reporting that there’s some behind-the-scenes disagreement between administration officials over what they want Trump to know about the emergency. […]

    The Post’s article went on to note that the president’s perspective on the coronavirus outbreak has apparently been shaped in large part by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who has reportedly told physicians “not to get too far into the details of the virus and the outbreak with Trump.” […]

    The problem, however, does not appear to be limited to Trump. During a committee hearing two weeks ago, Azar faced bipartisan pushback on the administration’s response to the virus, especially when in the area of communicating with state and local officials.

    Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), for example, described the administration’s handling of the virus as “keystone cops,” adding, “The coordination was not just minimal, it was zero. And if you’re going to do a public health response, you have to work with state and local government, and they just didn’t.”

    A week later, the White House released a budget blueprint that would cut “half of its annual funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), which is leading the fight against the deadly coronavirus outbreak.”


  6. says

    The Trump administration is waiving federal contracting laws in order to speed up construction on the border wall.

    […] Trump’s border wall is getting a turbocharge thanks to the Department of Homeland Security waiving federal contracting laws to build faster. The Trump administration has previously waived environmental regulations to push wall construction forward, but now it will also waive procurement regulations—little things like open competition—to speed up construction on 177 miles of border barrier in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. […]

    As a reminder, a section of Trump’s supposedly impregnable border wall has already been knocked down by high winds, and it will need hundreds of storm gates left open for months at a time to avoid having more knocked down by rain storms. Additionally, it can be cut through using easily available tools, and the wall has also been climbed.

    The biggest problem with the wall, of course, is that it’s a symbol of Trump’s racist, divisive politics, an appeal to supporters to indulge in hate and exclusion. The next biggest problem with it is that it involves still more abusive exercises of executive authority. It just also happens to be ruinously expensive and hilariously weak.


  7. says

    A campaign update: Bloomberg has qualified for Wednesday’s Democratic presidential primary debate.

    The latest national NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found Bernie Sanders leading the Democratic presidential pack with 31% support, followed by Michael Bloomberg with 19%. Joe Biden was third in the poll with 15%, followed by Elizabeth Warren at 12%. No other candidate reached double-digit support, though Amy Klobuchar, with 9%, was close.

    So, that’s the national polling. In state polling,Sanders is also ahead in Nevada. Early voting gets underway today in Texas, where the Houston Chronicle has endorsed Amy Klobuchar.

  8. says

    Another departure from the intelligence community:

    Jason Klitenic, the general counsel for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) whose handling of a government whistleblower complaint helped spur the House’s impeachment inquiry into […] Trump, is stepping down from his post […]

    Klitenic is planning to exit ODNI in early March […] ODNI did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.

    Klitenic’s announced departure comes less than a month before the deadline for acting Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Joseph Maguire to exit his position. A federal law that limits how long an official can serve as acting DNI prevents Maguire from serving past March 11.

    Maguire and Klitenic’s decision to block the dissemination of a government whistleblower complaint that the ODNI inspector general deemed “urgent” sparked outrage from Democratic lawmakers last September.

    […] The complaint, which was later released publicly, was at the center of the House’s vote to impeach Trump.

    This is a developing story. We’ll watch for more information to emerge.

    In a way, this is more of the “high turnover in the Trump administration” story, but it is worrisome to see that more top posts in the intelligence community may soon be empty. Both Maguire and Klitenic looked like they were doing Trump’s bidding when they withheld the whistleblower complaint. Maybe they are on the way out because they didn’t successfully bury that complaint completely?

    Maguire is a Trump appointee.

    Will their replacements be worse?

  9. says

    Followup to comment 4.

    I’m just a civil lawyer, but if someone came to me and said “I going to get a new trial because there was a juror I extensively voire dired who thought my client was a trickster and said so” I would tell them they probably needed to look for a different error.

    I think the error gets quite a bit weaker when the judge struck 40 other jurors for cause. The claim then, has to boil down to a single tweet critical of the President’s dealings in Ukraine and whether that showed undisclosed bias.

    CADC unlikely to find that persuasive.

  10. Akira MacKenzie says

    Oh bloody HELL…


    Trump Commutes Corruption Sentence of Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois

    WASHINGTON — President Trump commuted the 14-year prison sentence of former Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois, the Democrat who was convicted of trying to essentially sell Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat for personal gain, and pardoned the financier Michael R. Milken and Bernard B. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner, the president announced on Tuesday.

    “Yes, we commuted the sentence of Rod Blagojevich,” Mr. Trump told reporters just before boarding Air Force One for a four-day trip to the west coast where he is scheduled to hold three campaign rallies. “He served eight years in jail, a long time. He seems like a very nice person, don’t know him.”

    Mr. Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner, was convicted of tax fraud and lying to the government. And he said he had also pardoned Mr. Milken, the investment banker who was known in the 1980s as the “junk bond king” and who has fought for decades to reverse his conviction for securities fraud.

    Mr. Trump commuted the former governor’s sentence on Tuesday after saying for years that he was considering intervening in Mr. Blagojevich’s case. By commuting the sentence, the president would free Mr. Blagojevich from prison without wiping out the conviction. Republicans have advised the president against it, arguing that Mr. Blagojevich’s crime epitomizes the corruption that Mr. Trump had said he wanted to tackle as president.

    The president’s decision came the same day that he pardoned Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., a former owner of the San Francisco 49ers who pleaded guilty in 1998 to concealing an extortion attempt and eventually surrendered control of his team.

    Mr. DeBartolo, the scion of a prominent real estate development family who created one of the National Football League’s greatest dynasties, was prosecuted after agreeing to pay $400,000 in brand-new $100 bills to Edwin W. Edwards, the influential former governor of Louisiana, to secure a riverboat gambling license for his gambling consortium.

    Mr. DeBartolo avoided prison but was fined $1 million and suspended for a year by the N.F.L. He later handed over the 49ers to his sister Denise DeBartolo York. His nephew Jed York currently runs the team, which made it back to the Super Bowl this year only to fall to the Kansas City Chiefs.

    In conversations with advisers, Mr. Trump has also raised the prospect of commuting the sentence of Roger J. Stone Jr, his longest-serving adviser, who was convicted in November of seven felony charges, including tampering with a witness and lying under oath in order to obstruct a congressional inquiry into whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

    Asked about a pardon for Mr. Stone on Tuesday, Mr. Trump said “I haven’t given it any thought.”


    Looks like corrupt scum really do look out for one another.

  11. says

    Why did Trump pardon former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr? There are a few competing theories.

    More than two decades ago, Eddie DeBartolo Jr. paid a bribe to then-Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards (D) to help secure a casino license. DeBartolo got caught, was forced to pay a steep fine, cooperated with prosecutors in a case against the former governor, and received two years probation. As part of the controversy, DeBartolo, who owned a leading pro football team, was also banned for a year from the NFL.

    Today, Donald Trump wiped the slate clean.

    […] Trump has signed an executive order granting a full pardon to former San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. related to a decades-old corruption charge, the White House said Tuesday.

    One of the things I find interesting about the Trump presidency is that whenever the White House does anything unexpected, it’s easy to assume the worst. […] there was an immediate search for the real reason. It’s what happens when a president routinizes corruption and repeatedly abuses his pardon power.

    Some have been quick to note, for example, that DeBartolo is a prominent figure in northeastern Ohio, where the president is eager to lock down support ahead of his re-election campaign. That very well may have been a contributing factor.

    Others have pointed out that DeBartolo hosted a pro-Trump pre-inauguration event in 2017, which Trump eagerly promoted on Twitter. That also couldn’t have hurt DeBartolo’s chances.

    But let’s not overlook the fact that the White House announced the presidential pardon this morning at an event with several NFL legends — including Jerry Rice, Jim Brown, Ronnie Lott, and Charles Haley — in attendance.

    In fact, Jerry Rice, the Hall of Fame receiver, told reporters, “I take my hat off to Donald Trump for what he did,” referring to the DeBartolo pardon.

    And if I had to guess, that was the principal reason this happened. Trump seems pleased when celebrities say nice things about him, and no one should be surprised when images and quotes from this morning’s event show up in the president’s re-election campaign advertising.


  12. says

    Followup to comment 11.

    Trump is pardoning all the best people.

    […] Blago [former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich] isn’t the first or the last exhibit on this day of Trump demonstrating that justice doesn’t apply to big shots. Whether it’s an NFL owner who took part in a bribery and gambling scheme or a former chief of the New York Police Department who was convicted on nine counts of tax fraud, today is the day Trump gives a big middle finger to justice. Again. […]

    Link to an article by Mark Sumner

    From Kathryn Watson:

    The federal team that prosecuted Blago sent out a statement reminding people that he extorted the CEO of a children’s hospital by withholding state funding for sick kids until he got campaign contributions.

    More from Mark Sumner:

    […] I completely omitted the corrupt CEO of a “mental health care” company that defrauded Medicare to the tune of $205 million. She also gets a pardon, because using Alzheimer’s patients to rip off the government is cool!

    Trump started the day by pardoning Edward DeBartolo. [See comment 11]

    In the afternoon, Trump announced that he was going to commute the sentence of Blagojevich. What was it that Blagojevich did, again? Ah, he called around to potential candidates and tried to sell off Barack Obama’s open Senate seat to the highest bidder. And he was recorded on the phone doing it. In other words—a perfect call.

    The New York Times mentions that staffers in the White House told Trump not to pardon Blagojevich because everything he did “epitomizes the corruption that Mr. Trump had said he wanted to tackle as president.” But that only shows how backward everyone has been getting this whole “swamp” thing.

    What is corruption, after all, if not just fighting against government oversight and regulation? Bribery and extortion for the win! Besides, Blagojevich was a contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice, and the ratings really popped. What’s more important than taking care of your TV pals?

    To hammer home the point, Trump also plans to pardon former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik. Kerik pleaded guilty to perjury, ethics violations, tax fraud … pretty much every damn thing imaginable, after pocketing a quarter-million-dollar bribe from an Israeli billionaire. Then he didn’t report the money. Then he lied about the money. Then he pleaded guilty to eight felony counts. In other words, nothing Trump, or Paul Manafort, or Roger Stone, or anyone else in his circle wouldn’t do.

    Besides, Kerik worked for … who was that guy again? Oh, yeah: Rudy Giuliani. […] So there’s little doubt how that name got on Trump’s list.

    And to round off the day, Trump is also handing a pardon to junk bond gazillionaire Michael Milken. Way back in 1989, Milken pleaded guilty to six felony charges of securities fraud […] Milken, it seems, is besties with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Mnuchin apparently put the word in for his pal after the convicted trader let Mnuchin use his private plane for reasons still not made public.

    But wait! There’s still at least one bonus pardon ahead, because it seems that Trump is also readying a pass for David Safavian. Compared to Blago, Bernie, and Mikey, Safavian may seem like a strange choice. But the Republican lawyer was a lobbyist for none other than Jack Abramoff—who remains one of the gold standards for political corruption. And corruption is exactly why Safavian got a year in prison after being convicted on four counts of obstruction and perjury. […]

    Millionaire NFL owner who committed perjury in an extortion scheme.
    Corrupt politician who engaged in fraud, bribery, and perjury.
    Corrupt former cop who took a bribe and then committed tax fraud and perjury.
    Billionaire junk-bond king who committed securities fraud and insider trading.
    Republican lobbyist who obstructed justice and committed perjury in a corruption trial. […]

    All the best people.

  13. says

    Followup to comment 12.

    Some Illinois Republicans have criticized Trump’s decision to pardon Blagojevich.

    […] “We are disappointed by the president’s commutation of Rod Blagojevich’s federal sentence. We believe he received an appropriate and fair sentence, which was the low end of the federal sentencing guidelines for the gravity of his public corruption convictions,” wrote Reps. Darin LaHood, John Shimkus, Adam Kinzinger, Rodney Davis and Mike Bost.

    “Blagojevich is the face of public corruption in Illinois, and not once has he shown any remorse for his clear and documented record of egregious crimes that undermined the trust placed in him by voters,” the GOP lawmakers said. “As our state continues to grapple with political corruption, we shouldn’t let those who breached the public trust off the hook.”

    Illinois House Republican leader Jim Durkin also denounced the commutation, saying on Twitter, “We have a massive federal investigation into corruption in the state of Illinois and this action distracts and dilutes what I think is the proper role of the Department of Justice — to root out corruption … I don’t agree.”

    Announcing the commutation of Blagojevich, a onetime “Celebrity Apprentice” contestant, Trump cited in part his wife Patti’s frequent TV appearances urging for clemency and called Blagojevich’s sentence “a tremendously powerful, ridiculous sentence in my opinion, and in the opinion of many others.”

  14. says

    Trump made some comments today about Bill Barr. None of his comments were negative. I take this to be a sure sign that one thing Barr was NOT doing during that infamous interview with ABC News was standing up to Trump.

    […] “I have total confidence in my attorney general,” Trump told reporters at Joint Base Andrews. “I think he is doing an excellent job.” […]

    “Somebody has to stick up for the people,” Trump told reporters, referring to Stone and other associates he believes have been mistreated by federal prosecutors. “My social media is very powerful.”

    Asked about Barr’s comments in an interview with ABC News last week, Trump said he agreed that his tweets make the attorney general’s job harder, but continued to defend his public statements about the Stone case.

    “I do make his job harder. I do agree on that,” Trump said. “We have a great attorney general and he’s working very hard.”

    Trump described Barr as a man with “great integrity.” […]


  15. says

    From Wonkette: “Alan Dershowitz Peddling Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories To Breitbart”

    Has Alan Dershowitz been mainlining that trucker speed Alex Jones flogs over at Infowars? […]

    DERSHOWITZ: I have some information as well about the Obama administration – which will be disclosed in a lawsuit at some point, but I’m not prepared to disclose it now – about how President Obama personally asked the FBI to investigate somebody on behalf of George Soros, who was a close ally of his.

    We’ve seen this kind of White House influence on the Justice Department virtually in every Justice Department. The difference this president is much more overt about it, he tweets about it. President Obama whispered to the Justice Department about it.

    Love to see prominent American Jews promoting anti-semitic conspiracy theories about other Jews controlling the government over at Dead Breitbart’s Home[…] It’s such an out-of-body experience, particularly since he pronounces “Soros” like “tsuris,” which is the Yiddish word for “troubles.”

    Then Dersh made some more words about King Donald having the absolute power to run the Justice Department as his own personal revenge machine, before being steered back by the Breitbart interviewer to his bizarre accusation.

    BREITBART: You said that George Soros asked Barack Obama to have his Justice Department investigate somebody?

    DERSHOWITZ: That’s going to come out in a lawsuit in the near future, yeah. That is not unusual. People whisper to presidents all the time. People whisper to Justice Department all the time. It’s very common, it’s wrong whoever does it, but it’s common and we shouldn’t think that it’s unique to any particular president. I have in my possession the actual 302 form which documents this issue and it will at the right time come out, but I’m not free to disclose it now because it’s a case that’s not yet been filed.

    Deep Jewish mother sigh, […] Okay, fine. For the sake of argument, let’s pretend that this is all TRUE. Sure, why not?

    First of all, if, as the noted former Harvard professor insists, it’s totally fine and normal for the president to direct the DOJ to prosecute his enemies, then why is Dersh threatening to sue over it?

    Second of all, if there’s no criminal trial, then how does Dersh even have a copy of the 302, which is an internal FBI document memorializing a witness interview?

    Third of all, in what universe does an FBI agent write in an official record, “President Barack Obama ordered me to interview subject at the behest of noted supervillian Holocaust survivor George Soros”?

    Fourth of all, isn’t this more likely to be a 302 from Roger Stone or Michael Flynn accusing the FBI agents of being controlled by George Soros and being told, “I can’t comment on that, sir?”

    Fifth of all, does Dersh think we forgot that he dared his accusers to sue him, and then promptly went to war to get the case dismissed and seal all the old records?

    My false accusers won’t accuse me on Twitter but I will accuse them: I hereby accuse my false accusers of committing the felony of perjury and challenge them to sue me for defamation. They won’t ,because they know the truth will land them in prison. […]

    And sixth of all, for the love of God, STAAAAAAHP IT, YOU LUNATIC! […] go see a neurologist, STAT. You’re selling your legacy for one more day in the sun to watch a bunch of incel wingnuts blow their collective wads because they think you’ve got the goods on the black president? Really? This shit’s not even funny any more.

    Just kidding. IT’S STILL HILARIOUS.

  16. says

    Boy Scouts Hoping To Earn ‘Paying Restitution To Sex Abuse Victims’ Merit Badge.

    […] they’ve had a bit of a problem with sexual abuse over the years. In fact, they are now mortgaging several properties and filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in order to pay restitution to the victims. […]

    According to a spokesman for the BSA, the bankruptcy has “two key objectives: equitably compensate victims who were harmed during their time in Scouting and continue carrying out its mission for years to come. The BSA intends to use the Chapter 11 process to create a Victims Compensation Trust that would provide equitable compensation to victims.”

    […] Victims and attorneys have come forward to say that this is less about adequately compensating victims and more about the BSA maintaining its reputation by not allowing victims the chance to testify in court.

    Via AP: “This bankruptcy is not about finances,” said Scott Coats, who sued in New York last month over abuse he claimed to have suffered in the 1970s. “This bankruptcy is about the reputation of the Boy Scouts of America and about silencing victims and keeping the truth away from the eyes of the public.”

    Seattle-based attorney Mike Pfau, who is representing more than 300 victims nationwide, also thinks that the BSA is not being honest about all of its assets and wants to go after the organization’s property holdings as well. Another attorney representing abuse victims agrees: “There are a lot of very angry, resentful men out there who will not allow the Boy Scouts to get away without saying what all their assets are,” said lawyer Paul Mones, who represents numerous clients suing the Boy Scouts.[…]

    Via AP:

    Founded in 1910, the Boy Scouts have kept confidential files since the 1920s listing staff and volunteers implicated in sexual abuse, for the avowed purpose of keeping predators away from youth. According to a court deposition, the files as of January listed 7,819 suspected abusers and 12,254 victims.

    Until last spring, the organization had insisted it never knowingly allowed a predator to work with youths. But in May, The Associated Press reported that attorneys for abuse victims had identified multiple cases in which known predators were allowed to return to leadership posts. The next day, Boy Scouts chief executive Mike Surbaugh wrote to a congressional committee, acknowledging the group’s previous claim was untrue.

    7,819 suspected abusers. Really. Didn’t occur to any of them, over that many decades, to maybe call the police on some of these people?

    It’s good that these victims will be getting some amount of restitution, and hopefully they will get more, but given the BSA’s historic lack of care when it comes to these victims, and the harm they have caused Scouts in other ways, perhaps it is time to throw the baby out with the bathwater and allow other, less historically sketchy scouting programs to take over.


  17. says

    From James B. Comey, former director of the FBI:

    […] one person, Attorney General William P. Barr, threatens the reservoir of trust. From the beginning, this attorney general has echoed the president, aping his dishonest characterizations of the department’s work and appearing to respond to President Trump’s self-interested demands for new investigations and prosecutions. And the water began draining. Last week, it started gushing out when the attorney general intervened in a case involving one of the president’s friends to overrule the sentencing recommendation of career prosecutors.

    I have heard Barr say he doesn’t care about his legacy. Maybe not, but he should care about the reservoir. The people of Justice depend upon it. He should care enough about them — and the rest of us — to protect this vital American asset. The reputation of the Justice Department is more important than any of us, even an angry, vindictive president.

    Washington Post Link

    More at the link.

  18. says

    The gentle journey jars to stop,
    The drifting dream is done.
    The long-gone goblins loom ahead.
    The deadly, who we thought were dead,
    Stand waiting, every one.

    Walt Kelly (ca 1954)

  19. says

    tomh @ #479 on the previous thread, Kip T.W. @ #482, Akira MacKenzie @ #483, johnson catman @ #484, Lynna @ #485, thank you so much for your kind words. They helped a lot.

  20. says

    In today’s I’ll believe it when I see it reports… “CNN: Attorney General William Barr has considered resigning over President Trump’s interference with Justice Department matters, mainly his tweets, according to a source close to the situation.”

  21. says

    BuzzFeed – “Mike Bloomberg Once Again Called Transgender People ‘It’ And ‘Some Guy Wearing A Dress'”:

    A newly uncovered video shows Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg in 2019 describing transgender people as “he, she, or it” and “some guy in a dress” who enters girls locker rooms — invoking a conservative cliché as he argued that transgender rights are toxic for presidential candidates trying to reach Middle America.

    And yet, Bloomberg’s campaign published a new video on Tuesday that pledged the former New York City mayor believed in “inclusivity” for “LGBTQ+ youth,” featuring fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi [LOL – SC] declaring, “Mike is so incredibly sensitive to this issue.”

    Bloomberg’s sensitivity was far less apparent at a forum hosted by the Bermuda Business Development Agency on March 21, 2019, in Manhattan, where Bloomberg derided Democratic candidates for talking about transgender protections.

    “If your conversation during a presidential election is about some guy wearing a dress and whether he, she, or it can go to the locker room with their daughter, that’s not a winning formula for most people,” he said.

    Bloomberg made a similar remark about a “man wearing a dress” in 2016, but his comments uncovered Tuesday — remarks he made less than a year ago — came amid the early stages of the 2020 Democratic primary.

    The video was posted to YouTube shortly after the March event, but has received few views. Bloomberg was not a candidate for president at the time, but announced his campaign just eight months after he made the remarks.

    Bloomberg intoned that Democrats seeking the White House needed to walk a moderate path to appeal to inland states, specifically by avoiding talk of transgender people, and argued their liberal stances explained President Donald Trump’s 2016 victory.

    “And so you can understand where somebody like Trump comes from,” Bloomberg said at the forum last year. “You can understand when you look at the Democratic Party, they are so far left that two years ago there was nobody on their side who would take these positions, and today virtually all the candidates for president of the Democratic Party are so progressive. I don’t know what progressive means.”

    Back at the March 2019 forum, Bloomberg said he’d largely ruled out running for president this year due to his political views, saying in a video, “It’s just not going to happen on a national level for somebody like me starting where I am, unless I was going to change all my views and go on what CNN calls an apology tour.”

    (If you’d like to cleanse your brain, here’s Chris Hayes interviewing Daniel Lavery.)

  22. says

    It gets even worse.

    Watch who @MSNBC poses as ‘front runners’ in this clip advertising the debate (and be careful not to blink toward the end or you’ll miss Warren altogether):…”

    I noticed this earlier and was giving the TV the finger. :) It’s so blatant.

  23. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @12:

    Millionaire NFL owner who committed perjury in an extortion scheme.
    Corrupt politician who engaged in fraud, bribery, and perjury.
    Corrupt former cop who took a bribe and then committed tax fraud and perjury.
    Billionaire junk-bond king who committed securities fraud and insider trading.
    Republican lobbyist who obstructed justice and committed perjury in a corruption trial. […]

    It’s a good thing that Charles Manson is dead or he might be on that list.

  24. johnson catman says

    re the pardon spree: The Orange Toddler-Tyrant also referred to himself as the nation’s “chief law enforcement officer”. HA! Talk about the fox guarding the hen-house!

  25. says

    From Maddow last night:

    “Trump hush money case seen in new light after new reports on Barr”: “Rachel Maddow looks at how the SDNY investigation surrounding hush money payments to women who claimed to have had affairs with Donald Trump suddenly dissipated, and compares that timeline to new reporting on pressure Bill Barr has been exerting on U.S. attorneys, including SDNY.”

    “DOJ Memo Shows Barr’s Lid On Reported Giuliani Investigation”: “Rachel Maddow looks at a newly released DOJ memo that shows all Ukraine-related investigations being consolidated in such a way that even investigations already in progress, like those the SDNY is reportedly conducting of Rudy Giuliani now have to be processed through Main Justice.”

    “Trump weaponizing DOJ is worst case scenario envisioned by Obama officials”: “Rachel Maddow shares that outgoing members of the Obama administration told her that their biggest concern was Donald Trump weaponizing the criminal justice system for his own personal and political advantage, and wonders who can stop that now that reporting suggests that even SDNY has been compromised by Bill Barr enacting Trump’s bidding.”

  26. says

    CNN – “Syrians are in a desperate race to outrun a brutal regime offensive”:

    It’s freezing cold and the kids don’t have proper shoes, but the elderly Samar couldn’t risk it. Overnight, the bombings got too close.

    They fled their village in a panic, the older children carrying the little ones, walking for seven hours just to get away. The youngest children are shaking, their cheeks are bright pink from the cold.

    Finally, a van stops — it’s a godsend. The family piles in with their hastily filled bags containing just a change of clothes, which they managed to grab in the darkness as they ran.

    In the last two months, more than 832,000 people have fled the last opposition-held territory in Syria in the wake of a relentless air campaign and a swift ground offensive by the Syrian regime and its Russian backers. Tens of thousands of people are still on the move. Nearly 700,000 of the newly displaced are women and children, according to the latest UN figures.

    There is plenty of international condemnation, but little action to relieve the situation in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib and the surrounding areas.

    Just a few doors down, Umm Abdo’s kids wait outside, bundled up in their winter coats as she finishes loading a truck with mattresses and blankets. The airstrikes are getting too close. It’s time to leave.

    “We are only taking a little, just some clothes, only what we need,” Umm Abdo said.

    She walks into the bedroom one last time and pulls out the kids’ toys from the closet.

    Eight-year-old Dima grabs her favorite — a pink teddy bear called Hamze. The youngest, two-year-old Betoule, grabs a yellow chick. Ten-year-old Abdelbased keeps his hands in his pockets — he is too old to play with stuffed animals anyway.

    They fled their home two years ago, but had created new memories and a sense of stability in this house. The kids were in school and they had friends.

    Umm Abdo tells the girls to put the toys back. They don’t protest or hesitate, seemingly hardened well beyond their years, and head out to the truck.

    Officials in Ankara say they will no longer tolerate aircraft targeting the civilian population in Idlib, but it’s unclear how Turkey can end the airstrikes given that the Syrian regime and Russia control the airspace.

    Umm Abdo drives off to join the thousands of others on the jam-packed roads out of Idlib, unsure of where they are headed or when she will be able to put her children to sleep in peace.

    It’s a race against the Syrian government advance from the east, which threatens to choke off access to a nearby Turkish-controlled safe zone inside Syria. The Turkish border is open for aid coming into Syria, but closed to people who want to leave.

    Turkish officials have been warning for months that they cannot handle a new influx of refugees into the country, but the Syrian regime’s offensive in Idlib could push nearly 3 million more people across the border into a nation that already hosts almost 4 million Syrian refugees.

    Once independent from each other, the camps along the border with Turkey have sprawled into a massive city of semi-permanent structures. More than one million people, displaced from nine years of fighting, already live in the ever-expanding camps, which provide some semblance of security even as the freezing temperatures take their toll.

    Sitting in the corner of the family’s tent, Samiya recalls the night when temperatures dipped below freezing as the last of their fuel ran out. Her seven-month-old baby, Abdulwahab, was warm when she changed his diaper and fed him that evening before putting him to sleep for the night.

    Just after dawn, she woke up to the screams of her older kids. Abdulwahab’s little body was as cold and gray as the cement their tent sits on.

    “I touched him and he was icy,” Samiya said. The family doesn’t own a phone, so there are no photos of Abdulwahab alive. They rushed the boy to the closest doctor, who told them he died of the cold, according to Samiya.

    “It’s a hard thing, for a mother to wake up and find her son dead … I wouldn’t wish it on anyone,” she said. “I thought the children would be safe here.”

    For many in Idlib, death is preferable to life under President Bashar al-Assad.

    “I would rather die than ever go back to the regime,” said Obaid.

    In freezing cold tents, on congested roads, it is a sentiment that echoes across Syria’s last opposition enclave.

  27. says

    Guardian – “UK to close door to non-English speakers and unskilled workers”:

    Britain is to close its borders to unskilled workers and those who can’t speak English as part of a fundamental overhaul of immigration laws that will end the era of cheap EU labour in factories, warehouses, hotels and restaurants.

    Unveiling its Australian-style points system on Wednesday, the government will say it is grasping a unique opportunity to take “full control” of British borders “for the first time in decades” and eliminate the “distortion” caused by EU freedom of movement.

    But industry leaders immediately accused the government of an assault on the economy warning of “disastrous” consequences with job losses and closures in factories and the high street.

    Labour and the Liberal Democrats also condemned the plans while Unison, which represents health workers said they “spell absolute disaster for the care sector”.

    The hospitality sector will also be hit with no “barista visa” for coffee shops, despite warnings from Pret A Manger two years ago that only one in 50 job applicants were British.

    Also vulnerable are hotels that rely on EU workers for cleaning, kitchen and chambermaid staff, and big business and homes who rely on EU workers for cleaning, security and housekeeping.

    Special arrangements are being made for seasonal workers who harvest the fields but this is only set at 10,000 places, far below the National Farmers’ Union’s (NFU) demands for temporary visas for 70,000 in 2021.

    Minette Batters, the head of the NFU, said it was “ironic” that the government was encouraging people to increase the amount of fruit and veg in diets, yet is “making it harder for that fruit and veg to be produced in Britain”.

  28. Akira MacKenzie says


    A newly uncovered video shows Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg in 2019 describing transgender people as “he, she, or it” and “some guy in a dress” who enters girls locker rooms — invoking a conservative cliché as he argued that transgender rights are toxic for presidential candidates trying to reach Middle America.

    Bloomberg intoned that Democrats seeking the White House needed to walk a moderate path to appeal to inland states, specifically by avoiding talk of transgender people, and argued their liberal stances explained President Donald Trump’s 2016 victory.

    I suppose if, heaven forefend, Bloomberg is able to buy his way to the nomination, we will somehow be obligated to vote for him? Even if he is a transphobic piece of shit that made bigoted comments that would prompt us to demand the head of any Republican politician who made the same, right?

  29. says

    CNN – “Top Pentagon policy official expected to depart administration”:

    The Pentagon’s top policy official is expected to depart his post soon, according to two sources familiar with the matter. John Rood, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy at the Pentagon, lost support among senior national security leadership and has been asked for his resignation, one of the sources said.

    Rood is the Pentagon’s top policy official and oversees aspects of the Pentagon’s relationship with US allies and partners. Rood was involved in certifying to Congress that Ukraine had embarked on significant reforms to justify its receipt of $250 million in security assistance. That certification undermined one of the justifications — concerns about corruption in Kiev — that some members of the Trump administration made to defend blocking aid to Ukraine.

    Hours after Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which kicked off impeachment proceedings, Rood emailed Secretary of Defense Mark Esper — who had been in the job two days — informing him about an upcoming deputies meeting, “to discuss the President’s concern about endemic corruption in Ukraine and his reported view that US should cease providing security assistance,” according to emails reviewed by CNN.

    Rood notes in his email to the secretary that “placing a hold on security assistance at this time would jeopardize this unique window of opportunity and undermine our defense priorities with a key partner in the strategic competition with Russia.”…

  30. says

    Kafranbel, Idlib, an epicenter of creative and funny protests in the early years of the uprising, has turned into a ghost town. The regime and Russia destroy and depopulate to regain control of piles of rubble.”

    I had linked to protests there in 2018 posted by Raed Fares, who was murdered a month after he tweeted this one.

  31. says

    JUST NOW: Press Sec for @BernieSanders equates questions on his medical records to ‘smear’ campaign. & claims @MikeBloomberg has ‘suffered heart attacks’.

    Bloomberg had an irregular heartbeat & stents. But I’ve seen no record of attack. Checking now.”

    Video clip at the link. Really strange response. The claim about Bloomberg appears to be false.

  32. johnson catman says

    re SC @41 & 42: Wouldn’t requiring fines and fees to be paid to be allowed to vote be considered a “poll tax”?

  33. says

    Jonathan Topaz with more re #41:

    BREAKING: The Eleventh Circuit unanimously upholds our injunction against the law restricting Florida’s Amendment 4

    “Denying access to the franchise to those genuinely unable to pay solely on account of wealth” is unconstitutional.

    The Eleventh Circuit determines that Florida has no state interest whatsoever in disenfranchising returning citizens solely based on their inability to pay outstanding fines and fees

    The Eleventh Circuit nails it in one paragraph…

    [screenshot atl – argues that since people who committed exactly the same crimes but could pay would be able to vote, this punishes people solely on the basis of their (lack of) wealth]

    The Eleventh Circuit notes that the Supreme Court is crystal clear: Florida “may not treat criminal defendants more harshly on account of their poverty.”

  34. says

    SC @38, in other words, it was all crap—on top of crap. And that crap was fed, through Rudy Giuliani, to others.

    It was propaganda, not journalism. Shame.

  35. says

    More re #34 – Ian Dunt in – “The end of free movement: This is a nation dismantling itself over nonsense”:

    So after four years, we finally get sight of it. The great points-based system, designed to replace free movement. No-one coming in under £25,600, unless there’s a special shortage. No-one without good English. No-one who’s self-employed. No-one without a job offer, unless they’re very highly skilled.

    No more bright young people, arriving in London with dreams of making it and seeing what they can do. No more musicians getting their big break and heading out the next morning. No more care workers looking after ageing Brits. No more construction workers from Poland, out in all weather, getting the job done. No more freedom. Just the relentless, black-and-white, ham-fisted drudgery of bureaucratic requirements.

    This is what it’s all been about, ultimately. We forget now. They barely bother mentioning it. But free movement was everything in the referendum. This was why the Brexit campaign skyrocketed. It is why it won. It’s why we’re leaving the EU. It’s why we’re leaving the single market. It’s why we divided the country against itself. It’s why we’re detonating our trading networks. It’s why we’ve rubbished our international reputation. All so we could do this. What is happening today is the single accomplishment of the Brexit era.

    The Migration Advisory Committee estimates that 70% of Europeans who arrived since 2004 would be ineligible under this system. That’s what the Home Office is aiming for. A 70% reduction in Europeans coming to Britain. And let’s not pretend they’re so keen to replace that flow with people elsewhere. All that talk of how Boris Johnson would be a secretly liberal prime is abject nonsense. The plan is consciously and explicitly to reduce immigration. To make this country more ‘British’, whatever the hell that means. To imagine that Brits will now do the jobs they refused to do before. The entire country is being reformatted to make Nigel Farage more comfortable about hearing foreign languages on a train.

    What we are losing is about so much more than money. It is about being open. It is about being a place that is confident enough to take in new arrivals. Being a place new arrivals might wish to come to. We’ve lost that confidence. We’ve lost the sense that difference is beautiful, both for what it accomplishes and in its own right. And we’re replacing it with nationalism. That’s what it is. Don’t beat around the bush, or pretend it’s anything other than it is. It is nationalism. The grimy pit representing all that’s worst in political thought, the worship of uniformity, the desire to replace warm welcomes with borders and inspections.

    We imagine we are restricting others, but in reality we are imprisoning ourselves. And not just because we are sabotaging our own economy. We are losing one of the greatest freedoms achieved in the history of humankind: the freedom to move. The freedom to decide that we will live somewhere else, without any bureaucrat or state official to get in our way. The freedom of the individual in space – one of the greatest accomplishments of the European project – is now barred for those of us on this island.

    The loss is beyond comprehension. It is the loss of our future, the loss of our rights, and the loss of the highest aspirations of human self-development.

    And all so we can fix a problem which does not exist with a solution which will make us poorer. It is a bitterly stupid and small-hearted thing to do. And we have done it to ourselves.

  36. says

    Akira @36:

    I suppose if, heaven forefend, Bloomberg is able to buy his way to the nomination, we will somehow be obligated to vote for him? Even if he is a transphobic piece of shit that made bigoted comments that would prompt us to demand the head of any Republican politician who made the same, right?

    I, for one, am not going to vote based on advertisements assaulting us from all available media outlets. However, even Bloomberg is better than Trump. See this cartoon:

    It is a scary situation, though. Bloomberg is making headway in the polls. People are swayed by advertisements.

    One of Bloomberg’s ads is quite misleading. Many people have assumed, after seeing the ad, that Barack Obama endorsed Bloomberg. He did not. Obama has not endorsed anyone.

    I think that all of his ads, taken together, paint a misleading portrait of Bloomberg. I am hoping that the veil is torn off during the debate tonight. Bloomberg is not as perfect as his ads claim.

    The debate starts at 9 p.m. eastern. Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg will be on the debate stage.

    Rachel Maddow will appear on MSNBC an hour early tonight in order to host a pre-debate show.

  37. says

    Guardian – “Donald Trump ‘offered Julian Assange a pardon if he denied Russia link to hack'”:

    Donald Trump offered Julian Assange a pardon if he would say Russia was not involved in leaking Democratic party emails, a court in London has been told.

    The extraordinary claim was made at Westminster magistrates court before the opening next week of Assange’s legal battle to block attempts to extradite him to the US.

    Assange’s barrister, Edward Fitzgerald QC, referred to evidence alleging that the former US Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher had been to see Assange, now 48, while he was still in the Ecuadorian embassy in August 2017.

    A statement from Assange’s lawyer Jennifer Robinson shows “Mr Rohrabacher going to see Mr Assange and saying, on instructions from the president, he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr Assange … said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC leaks”, Fitzgerald told Westminster magistrates court.

    District Judge Vanessa Baraitser, who is hearing the case at Westminster, said the evidence is admissible….

  38. says

    Followup to comments 38 and 46.

    From Talking Points Memo: “The Hill Goes Easy On John Solomon In Review Of Ukraine Disinfo Columns.”

    The Hill held back from squarely addressing the actions of its former columnist John Solomon in a long-awaited review released Wednesday morning, declining to address factual inaccuracies in Solomon’s 2019 series on Ukraine.

    Instead, the D.C.-based news website turned its gaze towards an arguably less consequential aspect of the fourteen columns that Solomon published last year: the way the articles blurred the distinction between opinion writing and news writing. […]

    Those allegations, which suggest that Joe Biden abused his position as vice president to fire a Ukrainian prosecutor investigating a company where his son Hunter Biden served on the board, were never substantiated, and were consistently contradicted at the time by on-the-record witnesses and publicly available information. Solomon relied on dubious sources to make his claims, virtually all of whom had obvious conflicts of interests.

    The Hill addressed aspects of this in its review, […] But broadly, the review focuses less on Solomon’s misrepresentations — and his use of his own attorney Victoria Toensing as a “source” — and goes instead towards the extent to which he cloaked his role as a columnist in that of an investigative reporter. […]

    The two concrete changes that The Hill committed to making at the end of its review both concern the distinction between opinion and news. […]

    That’s not to deny that opinion and news is not an important distinction; part of what allowed Solomon to launder the allegations into the U.S. was that he could pass off columns as straight, factual reporting.

    But it misses the more crucial point that he, knowingly or unknowingly, spread disinformation that could very easily have been debunked at the time of publication.

    […] The portions which do address Solomon’s factual mischaracterizations — which are myriad — tend to present a thorough debunking of what Solomon wrote as a failure to tell both sides of the story.

    Take how The Hill addressed what is arguably the central fiction of Solomon’s reporting – that Biden had a Ukrainian prosecutor fired to protect his son.

    The review noted that Solomon’s account was “disputed by officials in both Kyiv and Washington,” and refrains from conclusively stating that the columns were inaccurate.

    Rather, the review equivocates by taking factual points like the closure of the investigation into the gas company and attributing it nebulously to “others who maintain the investigation [concerning Hunter Biden] had grown dormant.” […]

    when it came to where Solomon got the facts wrong, there was no strong language. Rather, it was just a matter of there being two sides to the story. […]



  39. says

    As was discussed briefly in the previous chapter of this thread, the Trump administration is sending what amounts to SWAT teams into so-called sanctuary cities in order to foster ever more terrifying ICE raids of immigrants.

    Here is a discussion of pushback from Democrats:

    Top Democrats from the House Judiciary and House Homeland committees are demanding answers regarding the Trump administration’s plan to have “the SWAT team of the Border Patrol” assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement in mass raids across a number of major U.S. cities, saying “The committees have serious concerns over the utility of engaging these highly militarized units, which were never intended for routine immigration enforcement activities, in densely populated metropolitan areas.”

    The letter called on acting Homeland Security Sec. Chad Wolf to provide lawmakers with “a full briefing” on the proposed raids within a week, which will reportedly target San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, New Orleans, Detroit, and Newark—all cities with significant Latino and immigrant communities.

    […] as many as 100 members of Customs and Border Protection’s “elite tactical unit known as BORTAC” would be deployed to assist ICE in separating families: “With additional gear such as stun grenades and enhanced Special Forces-type training, including sniper certification, the officers typically conduct high-risk operations targeting individuals who are known to be violent, many of them with extensive criminal records.”

    This is unnecessary and a politically motivated show of force to harass communities, lawmakers including Judiciary chair Jerry Nadler, Homeland Security chair Bennie Thompson, Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship chair Zoe Lofgren, and Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation, and Operations chair Kathleen Rice said. “This appears to be yet another retaliatory move aimed at cities that have opted to implement immigration policies with which the administration does not agree.” […]

    Earlier this week, Massachusetts Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey called on the administration to halt the upcoming raids entirely, writing “The BORTAC deployment to Boston and other cities is unnecessary, unwelcome, and dangerous. But the specter of heavily armed, military-like personnel in our cities will accomplish one thing: provoke fear. […].’”


  40. says

    Philippe Reines:

    To: Media
    Re: Health

    92 days since trump was taken to a hospital. 370 since his annual physical.

    1. When’s your 2020 physical?
    2. If the hospital visit was for some routine annual tests, which ones, what were the results?
    3. When will your Dr brief?

  41. says

    Sheldon Adelson, Donald Trump and Las Vegas:

    Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is throwing his financial might behind President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.

    Adelson, a multi-billionaire who is the Republican Party’s most prominent giver, is slated to host a March 12 fundraiser for Trump at his palatial Las Vegas home, according to two people familiar with the plans. The event is expected to draw large sums for the president’s reelection campaign: Attendees are being asked to give $100,000 to get into the dinner and $250,000 per person in order to sit for a roundtable discussion. […]

    The 86-year-old Adelson has emerged as a close ally of the Trump administration. The administration has embraced Adelson’s staunchly pro-Israel posture and the megadonor has been a frequent guest at the White House. Adelson recently appeared at a January bill signing for a China trade deal, and in 2018, Trump awarded Adelson’s wife, physician Miriam Adelson, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    The Adelsons were the GOP’s most prolific donors during the midterm elections, giving over $100 million to conservative causes and groups — including a combined $10 million to America First Action, the principal pro-Trump super PAC, making them the group’s largest donors. But they have yet to donate to the group in the current two-year election cycles. […]


  42. says

    Natasha Bertrand:

    Sens. Whitehouse and Feinstein remind that the Inspector General still has an ongoing investigation into Giuliani’s contacts with the FBI in 2016…and ask that the IG expand that probe to include his contacts with DOJ

    The letter was spearheaded by Feinstein & Whitehouse but is also signed by Sens. Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Dick Durbin, Patrick Leahy, Amy Klobuchar, Chris Coons, Richard Blumenthal and Mazie Hirono.

  43. says

    Followup to comment 50.

    From Wonkette:

    HOORAY! HOORAY! The Hill’s review of its disgraced hack “opinion columnist” John Solomon is here! Hooray! After three months of soul-searching about Solomon’s fruitful collaboration into investigating the Bidens with Rudy Giuliani, Devin Nunes’s guy, the chucklefucks, and the firm of Hairball and Hairball, Esquires to the Stars and Also John Solomon; and into how much Solomon lied about working with Giuliani; and into how much Solomon didn’t disclose citing his own attorneys and misdirected his editors on who exactly Lev Parnas was; and into his “smear campaign” of Marie Yovanovitch on Rudy Giuliani’s, the chucklefucks’, the hairballs’, the corrupt prosecutors’, and Ukrainian billionaire Dmytro Firtash’s behalf, the Hill has a very solemn promise to make.


    It will try really hard in future not to blur the line between “news” and “opinion,” which was obviously their only problem.

    So, we good? […]

    Here is a January 2018 Erik Wemple column citing all Solomon’s wack rightwing reporting — you know, as of then. There was Uranium One, some debunked Lisa Page and Peter Strzok lovers’ texts that will never ever ever be actually debunked because facts don’t matter, some other shit, all bringing shame and ignominy upon their august journal. Luckily they had all the clicks in the world with which to soothe their troubled consciences, since Solomon’s shit got RT’d by Trump and Hannity on the regular. […]

    it turns out Solomon lied to his own editors, too, while carrying water for a lot of different yet dovetailing agendas, from corrupt prosecutors who wanted to get rid of the American ambassador to Ukraine to his own lawyers who were also the lawyers for a Ukrainian oligarch who wanted to get right with the DOJ by offering up Joe Biden on a silver salver.[…]

    In conclusion, the Hill promises to “examine” putting its ethics guidelines in a binder, as opposed to writing them in invisible ink on the wall of the mens room, we guess. And they pinky swear to tell the cable nets when they’ve labeled someone a “journalist” instead of an “opinion writer.” That way, the public will know who has a special license to spread debunked bullshit, and who is a bigboy journalist what has a responsibility to tell the truth. […]

    Mr. Solomon now works at Fox News, the end.


  44. says

    NBC – “E. Jean Carroll fired from ELLE magazine following Trump rape allegation”:

    E. Jean Carroll, a veteran advice columnist at ELLE magazine who last year accused President Donald Trump of raping her in the mid-1990s, said she was fired from her editorial position at the end of 2019 after nearly 30 years because of Trump’s public debasement of her character.

    “Because Trump ridiculed my reputation, laughed at my looks, & dragged me through the mud, after 26 years, ELLE fired me,” Carroll wrote on Twitter. “I don’t blame Elle. It was the great honor of my life writing ‘Ask E. Jean.’”

    Carroll sued Trump for defamation in New York State Court in November, after which her lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, had the black wool dress Carroll was wearing at the time of the alleged attack tested for DNA. Last month, Carroll’s counsel served notice to Trump’s lawyers for the president to submit a DNA sample by March 2 to see if he matched the unidentified male DNA found on the outfit.

    Yet, earlier this month, Trump’s lawyers argued that Carroll’s defamation suit should be delayed until New York’s highest court rules on whether former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos, who has also accused Trump of assault and defamation, can proceed with a somewhat similar suit. Trump has denied Zervos’ allegations.

    Carroll’s announcement of her termination from ELLE follows her lawyers’ move to block a request from Trump that her suit be delayed.

    “Our client filed this lawsuit to prove that Donald Trump lied about sexually assaulting her and to restore her credibility and reputation. From the very beginning, Trump has tried every tactic lawyers can think of to halt this case in its tracks and keep the truth from coming out,” Kaplan in a statement. “His latest effort — a motion to stay our client’s case until the New York Court of Appeals decides the Summer Zervos case likely after November 2020 — is yet another obvious delay tactic that is not grounded in the law and, like his previous attempts to stall this case, will be rejected by the court.”

    A court filing submitted Tuesday says that ELLE declined to renew her contract in December, thereby ending her “primary income.” Carroll’s final “Ask E. Jean” column was published on the magazine’s website Nov. 22.

    The court filing also includes an email to Carroll from Erin Hobday, the executive managing editor of ELLE, dated Dec. 11, stating that Carroll would be paid for the “five remaining columns” of her contract.

    “We and your readers so appreciate your many years of work for the magazine and the wonderful columns you contributed to our publication,” Hobday wrote. “We will miss you tremendously.”

    Neither Hearst Communications, Inc., which owns ELLE magazine among other properties, nor Trump’s counsel responded to NBC News’ requests for comment.

    Following Carroll’s announcement, some commentators are criticizing ELLE magazine for not appearing to support Carroll and are calling for readers to boycott the magazine….

  45. says

    Followup to comments 11, 12, and 13 from me; comment 30 from johnson catman; and comments 35 and 49 from SC.

    From Jennifer Rubin:

    The Republican Party, we have noted, has gone from a conservative party to an authoritarian one. With a total of 11 pardons and commutations of rich, corrupt and utterly undeserving men, President Trump has completed the transition from the law-and-order party to the crime-mob party. […]

    While appearing on television (Trump’s connection to the outside world — or, rather, the outside world that the right-wing media would like to exist) was a popular means of getting Trump’s attention, it was no surprise that some of the beneficiaries seemed to have ponied up money to elect Trump. […]

    For those who didn’t receive the Fox News treatment, it appears that in at least one case, cold hard cash did the talking. Paul Pogue, a construction company owner who pleaded guilty to underpaying his taxes by $473,000 and received three years probation, was issued a full pardon and clemency by the president.

    According to FEC filings, Pogue’s family has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in direct contributions and in-kind air travel to the Trump Victory Committee. Beginning in August 2019, Ben Pogue—CEO of Pogue Construction and son of Paul Pogue—and his wife Ashleigh made over $200,000 in contributions to the campaign.

    […] Worse still, there is widespread suspicion that this is simply a prelude to pardons for cronies Michael Flynn, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and others. Trump wants vindication and secrecy, so what better way than to direct senators not to hear evidence of his own misdeeds, delegitimize the convictions of his associates and then, by pardon, obtain their silence and gratitude?

    Mimi Rocah, a former prosecutor, tells me: “The pardon power is supposed to be about correcting injustices. There is no reasonable argument that the people pardoned today — all of whom corrupted our financial and political systems in massive ways — were subject to a miscarriage of justice.” She adds, “To the contrary, they are powerful, connected white men who had the benefit of good defense lawyers. It also sends a message to Stone, Giuliani, Manafort and Flynn — that Trump has their back because white collar crime doesn’t count.”

    Do his supporters even care that the swamp he promised to drain is more fetid than ever? Are Republicans who emboldened him with an acquittal in his impeachment trial just a tad embarrassed by the normalization, the celebration even, of corruption? Probably not. […]

    In case one needed further evidence of the urgency of removing Trump at the ballot box and sending his Republican enablers packing as well, this last descent into self-serving veneration of corruption should remind us we are well on the way to banana-republic territory. […]

    Washington Post link

  46. says

    Contradictions abound:

    The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll […] included questions about the kinds of qualities voters want (or don’t want) to see in a presidential candidate. Only a handful of qualities were seen as problematic for most voters:

    [T]he most unpopular candidate qualities in a general election are being a socialist, being older than 75 years of age and having a heart attack in the past year.

    Specifically, 53% of Americans are uncomfortable voting for a candidate over the age of 75, 57% are uncomfortable with candidates who had a heart attack in the past year, and 67% balked at socialist presidential candidates.

    Taken at face value, results like these appear pretty brutal for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). After all, he’ll celebrate his 79th birthday ahead of Election Day; he was hospitalized in October after suffering a heart attack; and the Vermont senator has, for many years, embraced the “socialist” label.

    And yet, in the exact same NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, when voters were asked to consider a hypothetical general-election match-up pitting Bernie Sanders against Donald Trump, Sanders had a modest lead, 50% to 46%. Most voters said they don’t want a candidate like Sanders, but when given a choice between Sanders and the incumbent president, half the country still sides with the independent senator.

    […] Something seems amiss, right? National polling keeps featuring two competing messages: more than half the country keeps saying, “We don’t want a candidate like Bernie,” while simultaneously saying, “We’re prepared to vote for Bernie.”

    What explains the contradiction? I think there are a few possible explanations.

    Sanders may, for example, be a good enough candidate to transcend the reservations. Much of the public may be reflexively uncomfortable with the idea of voting for a 79-year-old socialist who recently had a heart attack, but it’s possible that many of these same voters are nevertheless gravitating to Sanders, his message, and his platform. […]


  47. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 49.

    […] Offering Assange a pass to say that Russia wasn’t involved seems more than a little odd, because that was what Assange was claiming all along. He was perfectly willing to help cover up his sources among Russian intelligence and to go along with theories that put the blame at someone else’s door—other nations, rival Democrats, Hillary Clinton, […] Why offer Assange something as huge as a pardon for what he was already doing on his own?

    On the other hand, the Rohrabacher connection is very real. It wasn’t just House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy’s famous claim, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.” It was that consistently pro-Russia Rohrabacher suggested a deal that appeared to be exactly what Assange is now claiming.

    In 2017, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Republican representative had attempted to broker a deal with Assange: Assange would get a pardon, and in return, the paper said, he would “probably present a computer drive or other data-storage device that Mr. Rohrabacher said would exonerate Russia.”

    According to the Journal’s reporting, Rohrabacher said, “He would get nothing, obviously, if what he gave us was not proof.” If Assange provided something and it failed to satisfy Trump’s need for proof that someone else was behind the hacking, the fact that a pardon didn’t come through seems reasonable. And since Russia definitely did do it, it’s hard to see what kind of proof Assange might have offered. There’s even the chance—in those days, before Attorney General William Barr wiped away the Mueller report and Senate Republicans made it clear that Trump was free to do as he pleased—that there might have been some concern over just how obvious it was to be handing Assange a pass.

    But The Wall Street Journal emphatically reported in 2017 that Rohrabacher did propose such a deal. The only thing that’s missing is the definitive proof that Trump was behind that offer. Which makes this April 2019 post from journalist Marcy Wheeler particularly interesting. In running through Trump’s written responses to Robert Mueller’s special counsel team, she noted one question where the response was … a little off.

    Question: Did you have any discussions prior to January 20, 2017, regarding a potential pardon or other action to benefit Julian Assange? If yes, describe who you had the discussion(s) with, when, and the content of the discussion(s).

    Trump: I do not recall having had any discussion during the campaign regarding a pardon or action to benefit Julian Assange.

    These “I do not recall”-type answers were the sort of response Trump gave to almost everything. However, in this case he qualified it by saying “during the campaign.” Which leaves out the period between the election and the inauguration. […]

    That also neatly dodges a period in December 2016 when, The Atlantic reports, WikiLeaks was sending messages to Donald Trump Jr. saying things like, “Hi Don. Hope you’re doing well! In relation to Mr. Assange: Obama/Clinton placed pressure on Sweden, UK and Australia (his home country) to illicitly go after Mr. Assange. It would be real easy and helpful for your dad to suggest that Australia appoint Assange ambassador to [Washington,] DC.”

    It’s starting to seem that Assange’s extradition hearing might be a don’t-miss event.


  48. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 59

    The Republican Party, we have noted, has gone from a conservative party to an authoritarian one

    Really, Ms. Rubin? You’re really too stupid to believe that “conservative” and “authoritarian” weren’t synonymous terms?

  49. Akira MacKenzie says

    Re: 62

    Sorry, I’m so angry I can’t see straight. Let me correct that last statement:

    Really, Ms. Rubin? You’re so stupid that you believe that “conservative” and “authoritarian” aren’t synonymous terms?

  50. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 59

    Do his supporters even care that the swamp he promised to drain is more fetid than ever?

    No, because just as long as they think their taxes are “low,” abortion is illegal, LGBTQs are shoved back into the closet, they’re re free to strut about with their firearms strung about like tacky jewelry, and they can shout the n-word in public with consequences, Trump can do whatever they want.

    Only Democrats and “The Left” are capable of “corruption.”

  51. says

    Trump Blames Blagojevich’s Prison Sentence On Comey, Who Wasn’t At DOJ At The Time

    […] “He paid a big price,” Trump tweeted. “Another Comey and gang deal!”

    Except federal prosecutors arrested Blagojevich for conspiracy and attempted extortion in 2008, three years after Comey had departed from the Justice Department to work for defense contractor Lockheed Martin. By the time Comey returned to the government as Obama’s director of the FBI in 2013, Blagojevich’s prison stint had already begun after he was sentenced to 14 years in 2011. […]


  52. says

    In a primary with an historic number of female voters, misogyny still rules.

    As the Democratic primary heads into its most decisive month of voting, many women are feeling the white-hot sting of misogyny […]

    It’s a sentiment that has cropped up repeatedly in the last several weeks as women watch one of the race’s top four candidates being virtually erased by the media from the late-stage contenders.

    The latest example came in recent polling from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal in which the outlets chose five of the top six Democratic candidates to test in head-to-heads against Donald Trump and mysteriously opted to omit the woman who was tied for third nationally in their poll: Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

    Instead, the poll tested Trump against Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vice President Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg, and then Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar—both of whom ran behind Warren in the poll. To add insult to injury, MSNBC’s Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell subbed Klobuchar’s photo in for Warren in a graphic of the front-runner polling.

    But the explanation given for omitting Warren by the outlets’ pollster was that they only had five spots and they gave the fifth one to Klobuchar, since she’s a newer candidate. “Amy Klobuchar was selected as the fifth candidate,” Peter Hart, who conducted the poll, said in an email to BuzzFeed News. “We have tested Warren earlier, and I suspect she will be part of the next testing.”

    Which isn’t any kind of explanation for why they passed up a candidate running third in their own poll for two that were running fourth and fifth—except that the fourth candidate was a man, and they clearly never considered leaving him out of the poll. Or as feminist author and writer Rebecca Traister put it, “One woman—it doesn’t really matter which—can have the fifth polling spot, as a little treat.” […]

    the reality appears to be that when the media won’t cover a female candidate, she clearly needs to blanket the airwaves in order to have a fair chance. That’s as true as ever in this Democratic primary despite the fact that women will account for some 60% of Democratic primary voters and female voters also turn out at higher rates than men.


  53. says

    Rod Blagojevich heaped praise upon Trump: “President Trump is a man who is tough and outspoken, but he also has a kind heart. And this is an act of kindness and I believe it’s the beginning of a process that — to actually turn an injustice into a justice.”

  54. says

    From former presidential candidate Andrew Yang: “I’m excited to join @CNN to help shed light on the election and the candidates’ experiences. Learned a lot these past months and am glad to contribute to the public discussion.”

  55. says

    “Elizabeth Warren excited to use new power of invisibility to stand out in the debate.”

    This is a satirical opinion piece by Alexandra Petri:

    Determined to look on the bright side of the fact that her name has mysteriously not been included in head-to-head polling matchups and keeps vanishing from the lips of pundits despite her having one more delegate than Amy Klobuchar after the first two states (and eight more delegates than Mike Bloomberg), Sen. Elizabeth Warren looks forward to using this newfound invisibility to her advantage in the debate.

    “Mayor Pete will be talking,” a voice told me, coming from I could not tell where, “and then suddenly his tie will be waving in the air! Or Mike Bloomberg will clear his throat, about to answer, but then an invisible hand will make an unexpected adjustment to his microphone! Imagine, an invisible hand that opposes billionaires! It’ll really be somethin’!” The voice seemed optimistic that this apparent magic would really make an impression.

    Warren is hoping to maybe sneak up on Tom Steyer as he attempts to make an overture to Bernie Sanders and gently say “Boo!” Likewise, she looks forward to delivering a detailed response, only to have the moderators blink, baffled, in her direction, before turning back to Buttigieg. She had contemplated covering herself in money to make herself visible, but decided that this approach was best left to Bloomberg.

    Yet the initial novelty of invisibility seemed to have worn off. After one wild ride secretly treating herself to an airline Economy Plus seat, the voice said that she was eager to be seen again so she could take part in discussions instead of sitting there for hours with only a floating policy paper visible, waiting to be called upon. “Also, the selfie line is a real disappointment lately.”

    She was not sure what had brought the invisibility on: “I keep wondering, was it something I ate? Am I wearing a cloak without knowing it? I said ‘Mischief managed!’ loudly, but it did not make a difference.” She consulted with other women who had noticed themselves becoming invisible as they crossed the Rubicon of turning 40 or had vanished the second they donned wedding rings, drawing from their experiences to develop a 10-step plan for curing invisibility she hoped to implement after taking office.

    “We think maybe it was too much coverage early on, and it shorted something,” the voice offered. “Or maybe it could be the thing that happened to Rosalind Franklin, this rare genetic condition that often accompanies a second X chromosome, where sometimes you are so competent you just vanish. But one thing’s for sure, it’s making it a lot harder for people to see me in the White House.”

    Washington Post link

  56. says

    Susan Hennessey: “Trump is doing this because he knows Grenell couldn’t be confirmed to the role, which is what the US Constitution requires. Once again, when the Constitution is inconvenient, Trump finds a work around and the Republican-controlled Senate just obliges. Originalism, indeed.”

  57. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    For those of you who’s blood pressure or outrage isn’t high enough, I can recommend the new series on MSBC Whats Eating America with Andrew Zimmern on Sunday Nights. It’s looking at the role immigrants that temporary/non-permanent laborers play in our (and the Hair Furors) food supply. Which is why I tip well when I eat in the local restaurants (usually for breakfast.) They deserve it.

  58. says

    Mehdi Hasan:

    There are lots of obvious questions that moderators and Democratic candidates can #askBloomberg, especially on stop-and-frisk and Social Security cuts etc, but here are 5 I would love to see him asked tonight by someone (!)

    “Mr Bloomberg, do you feel responsible for Brett Kavanaugh being on the Supreme Court given you helped Mitch McConnell keep the GOP majority in the Senate by funding Sen. Pat Toomey’s narrow win in Pennsylvania in 2016?”

    “You supported the Iraq war in 2003 & Bush’s re-election in 2004. You have said you have no regrets. Tonight, in front of this audience of Democrats, will you say again you have no regrets for supporting Iraq & Bush?”

    “Mr Bloomberg, you’ve apologized to black communities for stop-and-frisk on your watch. Will you apologize to New York’s Muslims for your unconstitutional and racially-motivated surveillance of their mosques, of cafes, workplaces, student groups?”

    “Mr Bloomberg, you once said that ‘if women wanted to be appreciated for their brains, they’d go to the library instead of to Bloomingdale’s.’ What would you like to say to Sen. Warren & Sen. Klobuchar tonight about that remark of yours?”

    “Mr Bloomberg, you say you’re the best candidate to beat Trump. But why is it that you want to beat Trump given you have called him a ‘friend’, a ‘great guy’, a New York ‘icon’? When did he stop being those things, in your view?”

  59. says

    Alexander Marquardt, CNN:

    Senior intel officials were ‘blindsided’ by the Grenell news, according to a former senior official.

    Trump sensed disloyalty at DNI with Joe Maguire at the head, a former White House official tells @Acosta, and he is “looking for a ‘political‘ who will have his back.”

  60. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Watching former Sen. Majority leader Harry Reid on Rachel: “Thrump Trump”.

  61. says

    Elie Mystal:

    So… Bernie “completely disavows” people who attack “union leaders.” But then he says that it’s the women of color on HIS campaign that get it worse… which… like… I know woman of color who DON’T work for Bernie who *might* disagree.

  62. tomh says

    White House assembles team of advisers to guide clemency process as Trump considers more pardons
    By Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey and Neena Satija
    Feb. 19, 2020 at 5:57 p.m. PST

    The White House is moving to take more direct control over pardons and commutations, with President Trump aiming to limit the role of the Justice Department in the clemency process as he weighs a flurry of additional pardon announcements, according to people familiar with the matter.

    The group, essentially an informal task force of at least a half-dozen presidential allies, has been meeting since late last year to discuss a revamped pardon system in the White House. Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, is taking a leading role in the new clemency initiative and has supported the idea of putting the White House more directly in control of the process that in past administrations has been housed in the Justice Department, officials said.

    Pam Bondi, the former Florida attorney general who served on Trump’s impeachment defense team, is also playing a significant role, vetting applications for potential pardon recipients. Kushner has personally reviewed applications with White House lawyers before presenting them to Trump for final approval, according to two senior administration officials.

  63. tomh says

    Mike Bloomberg is paying people to send their friends texts about him
    By Emily Stewart
    Feb 19, 2020

    The former New York City mayor’s campaign is hiring hundreds of people in California to spread the pro-Bloomberg word on social media and via text message, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. His campaign is trying to bring on upward of 500 “deputy digital organizers” to promote Bloomberg to everyone in their phones’ contact lists and on their private social media accounts. And the pay isn’t bad: $2,500 a month for 20-30 hours per week of work.

    According to the Washington Post, Bloomberg has already spent $50 million on digital ads, and he’s already spent an estimated $400 million on campaign ads overall. Bloomberg has said he’s prepared to spend up to $1 billion of his own money to defeat President Donald Trump in November, but if his candidacy continues at this rate, he’s on track to spend much more.

    As the WSJ notes, it’s common practice for campaigns to use volunteers and paid workers to run phone banks, knock on doors, and get out the word otherwise.

    But Bloomberg paying people to leverage their social connections is unique. It’s one thing to pay someone to staff a phone bank and text phone numbers from voter files; it’s another to pay someone to access their personal contact list.

    It also raises questions about disclosure rules around social media advertising.
    Per WSJ:

    It is not clear if messages like those the Bloomberg campaign is suggesting would need to be labeled as sponsored content under Facebook’s disclosure rules. A Facebook spokeswoman said posts by outside “content creators” would require labels if a campaign paid for them, but that posts by campaign employees wouldn’t need to be labeled as ads. The company didn’t address how it would categorize posts by employees paid to promote content to their personal social networks.

    A review of social media posts by some people being paid by the campaign found they aren’t labeled as sponsored content.


    It’s not clear whether compensating Californians for texting their friends will be an effective tactic for Bloomberg.

  64. lotharloo says

    Hey boys, move aside so Elizabeth can show you how to punch a fucking billionaire.

    Warren was glorious.

  65. johnson catman says

    re SC @83:

    Grenell is expected to maintain his role as Ambassador to Germany, WHILE also helming the entire Intel Community.

    Only a year left in this administration’s term. Gotta get as much cash as you can while you are there.

    The White House is moving to take more direct control over pardons and commutations, with President Trump aiming to limit the role of the Justice Department in the clemency process as he weighs a flurry of additional pardon announcements, according to people familiar with the matter.

    Well, The Orange Toddler-Tyrant has declared that he is the “chief law enforcement officer”.

    Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, is taking a leading role in the new clemency initiative and has supported the idea of putting the White House more directly in control of the process that in past administrations has been housed in the Justice Department, officials said.

    They have to clear all the white, white-collar criminals out of the system to make more room for people who commit REAL crimes, like disparaging Fearless Leader or voting for democrats.

    The former New York City mayor’s campaign is hiring hundreds of people in California to spread the pro-Bloomberg word on social media and via text message, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

    I am not in CA, but if someone texted me about this, I would immediately block them.

  66. johnson catman says

    George Zimmerman, the former Florida neighborhood watch volunteer who was acquitted of killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin after a racially charged trial, has filed a $265 million defamation lawsuit against two of the Democrats running for president — Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg.

    Zimmerman’s lawsuit was filed by his attorney, Larry Klayman, founder of the conservative nonprofit Judicial Watch.
    This is in addition to the $100 million lawsuit he filed against Martin’s family in December. Shouldn’t Larry Klayman and anyone who hires him be immediately sent to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200?

  67. says

    LOL, I didn’t see any more of the debate after my last comment – chatting and tending to the other (phenomenal) cats. I see the demolition of Bloomberg and general feistiness continued.

  68. says

    BBC – “Germany shooting: ‘Far-right extremist’ carried out shisha bars attacks”:

    A suspected far-right extremist has killed at least nine people in attacks on two shisha bars in a city in western Germany, officials say.

    Chancellor Angela Merkel said there were many signs the attacker in Hanau had acted out of racism.

    Federal prosecutors are treating the case as terrorism. Turkey says at least five of the dead were Turkish citizens.

    The 43-year-old suspect killed himself, police say. He was found dead at his home along with the body of his mother.

    Local media have identified the suspect as Tobias R, a German citizen. The Bild tabloid reports he had a firearms licence, and that ammunition and gun magazines were found in his car.

    Authorities are examining a video that appears to be from the suspect, posted online days before the attacks, in which he expresses right-wing conspiracy theories. German media say he also left a letter of confession.

    The attack comes amid growing concerns about far-right violence in Germany. Speaking in Berlin, Mrs Merkel said: “Racism is a poison. Hate is a poison and this poison exists in our society and is already to blame for many crimes.”…

    (Shisha bars are also known as hookah bars.)

  69. says

    ABC – “Man arrested for threatening to kill Schiff, Schumer over impeachment”:

    A Western New York man was arrested Wednesday on charges that he threatened to kill Rep. Adam Schiff and Sen. Chuck Schumer.

    Salvatore Lippa, 57, of Greece, New York, was charged with threatening to assault and murder a federal official on account of the performance of their official duties.

    According to the criminal complaint, on Jan. 23, Schiff’s Washington, D.C., office received a threatening voicemail that included a death threat.

    Lippa started the threatening message by calling the congressman “Schiff, Shifty Schiff,” invoking the nickname used by President Donald Trump for Schiff, the lead House manager during Trump’s impeachment trial.

    Almost two weeks later, on Feb. 4, Schumer received a threatening voicemail at his New York office that also contained a death threat.

    In the threat, Lippa paired Schumer with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying “Hey, Schumer, you and Nancy Pelosi are…” according to the complaint.

    When questioned by U.S Capitol Police, Lippa admitted to making the threatening calls to Schiff and Schumer because he said he was upset about the impeachment proceedings, prosecutors said.

    Lippa is due in federal court in Rochester on Wednesday afternoon. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

  70. says

    SC @79, I think Trump installed Grenell as Director of National Intelligence because Trump wants to continue to commit crimes without the intelligence community making his crimes public.

    The whole emphasis on “loyalty” tells you all you need to know.

  71. says

    SC @86, Elizabeth Warren’s campaign raised $2.8 million in donations since that fiery debate performance. That shows that others watching the debate appreciated her takedown of Bloomberg.

    I was impressed by the homework Warren did before she questioned the healthcare plans of other candidates. She said that Buttigieg’s plan was a PowerPoint presentation, not a plan; and she said that Klobuchar posted just two paragraphs describing a “plan” that Warren characterized as a “post-it note.” That said, I am fed up with healthcare debates that allow about a minute for each candidate to talk. Bleh. The time limits, in conjunction with the number of candidates on the stage, tend to obscure debates about substance and tend to encourage shouting out talking points. Bleh.

  72. says

    More details about Richard Grenell:

    After Donald Trump announced late yesterday that Ambassador Richard Grenell would take over as the acting director of National Intelligence, the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler joked, “Well, they must be doing cartwheels in Berlin.”

    He had a point. After the president named Grenell to serve as U.S. ambassador to Germany, the first-time diplomat, perhaps best known as an internet troll, quickly irritated our allies in Berlin. Some German officials spoke publicly about the possibility of asking him to leave the country.

    But before anyone in Berlin celebrates Grenell’s departure, this tidbit from a New York Times report stood out for me.

    Mr. Grenell is expected to keep his current ambassadorship as long as he is acting intelligence director, one administration official said.

    Really? One unqualified person will oversee the U.S. intelligence community and remain the ambassador to Europe’s largest country at the same time?

    What’s more, let’s also not forget that the White House tapped Grenell five months ago to serve as the U.S. envoy for Kosovo-Serbia diplomacy.

    I guess my question is, as of right now, exactly how many jobs does Ric Grenell have?

    Update: When a reporter asked the State Department today about Grenell having more than one job, it referred questions to the White House. Now I’m all the more curious if anyone knows how many positions he currently holds.


    So Grenell is totally unqualified for all three jobs that he has. Maybe he has a bet going with Jared Kushner.

  73. says

    Followup to tomh @43.

    A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Roger Stone, President Trump’s longtime friend, to serve three years and four months in prison for impeding a congressional investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

    The penalty from U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson comes after weeks of infighting over the politically charged case that threw the Justice Department into crisis, and it is likely not to be the final word. Even before the sentencing hearing began, Trump seemed to suggest on Twitter he might pardon Stone. […]

    In a lengthy speech before imposing the penalty, Jackson seemed to take aim at Trump — saying Stone “was not prosecuted for standing up for the president; he was prosecuted for covering up for the president.” She also appeared to call out Attorney General William P. Barr, whose intervention to reduce career prosecutors’ sentencing recommendation she called “unprecedented.” But she said the politics surrounding the case had not influenced her final decision.

    “The truth still exists, the truth still matters,” Jackson said. “Roger Stone’s insistence that it doesn’t, his belligerence, his pride in his own lies are a threat to our most fundamental institutions, to the foundations of our democracies. If it goes unpunished it will not be a victory for one political party; everyone loses.”

    She added, “The dismay and disgust at the defendant’s belligerence should transcend party.”

    Prosecutors and defense attorneys traded barbs in court Thursday over the penalty Stone should face, and the judge sought both to understand their disputes and the internal Justice Department haggling over what penalty the government would endorse. The judge also made clear she thought Stone had not been unfairly targeted.

    “He was not prosecuted by anyone to gain political advantage,” she said.

    A little more than an hour earlier, Trump publicly insisted just the opposite. In a tweet, he compared Stone to former FBI Director James B. Comey, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who the president has pushed for charges against.

    “‘They say Roger Stone lied to Congress.’ @CNN,” Trump wrote, tagging the news network. “OH, I see, but so did Comey (and he also leaked classified information, for which almost everyone, other than Crooked Hillary Clinton, goes to jail for a long time), and so did Andy McCabe, who also lied to the FBI! FAIRNESS?” […]

    Jackson pressed Crabb for answers. She asked why the Justice Department ultimately chose to recommend bucking the guidelines in the case — when department policies do not let prosecutors argue for a sentence below the guidelines without approval — and questioned why Crabb was in court at all.

    “I fear that you know less about this case than possibly anybody else in the courtroom,” Jackson said. […]

    Washington Post link

  74. tomh says

    @ #93
    “I am not in CA, but if someone texted me about this, I would immediately block them.”

    My take on this is different. If my friends can fleece a few thousand a month from a billionaire, send me all the crap you want.

  75. says

    Interesting analysis from Mark Sumner:

    It’s hard to say that Donald Trump has really excelled at anything. But on the topic of naming the worst possible person to the most sensitive role, he can be genuinely outstanding. Betsy DeVos at Education? Ben Carson at HUD? Rick Perry for Energy? All of these are mind-boggling achievements in you-must-be-kidding. But Trump’s latest choice throws shade on his earlier selections. Because selecting Richard Grenell to be director of national security isn’t just an incredible mismatch—it comes with a side order of hate, racism, xenophobia, and more hate. Just lots of hate.

    What Grenell doesn’t bring to the job is one whit of experience with the intelligence community, or even the slightest hint that he can organize something larger than a poker night. He has no experience running any kind of organization, and no connection at all to intelligence—in any sense of the word. What Grenell has managed, in his current position as U.S. ambassador to Germany, is to demonstrate Trump’s utter disdain for America’s largest European ally[…]

    It’s not an exaggeration to say that Grenell’s most famous attribute is hate. It’s not just that he hates Muslims, hates brown people, hates immigrants of all kinds. It’s also that he nurses personal hatreds. Even that is underselling it. He seeks out personal hatred—enough so that his Twitter feed consists almost entirely of Grenell spending his time going after each and every person who mentions him. Personally. […]

    Which makes it perfect that, at the same time that Trump has now named Grenell to a post for which he has not one possible qualification, he’s also holding on to the position of ambassador to Germany, even though he won’t be in Germany. This ability to spit in the face of the intelligence community while mooning a strategic ally shows the genuine genius behind Trump’s actions.

    It’s also a pretty clear indicator of his motivation: spite.

    […] Grenell gets the opportunity to complete the destruction of the intelligence community. With the National Security Council having shed figures such as Fiona Hill and Alexander Vindman, and the leadership of both the FBI and the CIA scrubbed of those Trump views as political opponents, Grenell is in a position to transform the director of national intelligence from a means of providing the nation with the information it needs to stay safe in a changing world into an instrument Trump can wield to destroy anyone, anywhere.

    If Barr is charged with making the DOJ over in the mold of the Cheka, Grenell is there to put a KGB stamp on U.S. intelligence. And he’ll have no trouble getting advice from Vladimir Putin—he’s a big fan.

    Grenell has already demonstrated a willingness to outright lie for Trump, even when the lies were obvious; to consistently attack free speech and the media; to champion neo-fascist leaders in Europe; and to chase down anyone who he believes has given him the slightest offense—even indirectly. So naturally Trump is giving Grenell the most powerful tool that anyone could possibly have in pursuing the personal destruction of his perceived enemies. […]

    Of course, Grenell is not going to the be actual DNI. Trump is well aware that he couldn’t get this jack-booted jerkwad through even the most cowed, Trump-praising Republican Senate. So Grenell’s title will always include the term “acting.” Expect him to act.


  76. says

    Debate coverage can be dismaying.

    If you watched Wednesday’s Democratic debate, you saw Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren deliver an absolutely thunderous performance, capped off by her evisceration of former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and his seething arrogance. But how are traditional media outlets covering this beatdown? Well, if you’ve been paying any attention to how Warren’s been treated the last couple of weeks, you’ll be dismayed—but you won’t be surprised.

    Here’s Politico’s banner headline: “Bloomberg takes a beating, Sanders defends socialism in fiery debate.”

    The New York Times’ lead coverage doesn’t mention Warren either: “Democrats Unleash Onslaught of Attacks at Nevada Debate: Bloomberg Draws Sharp Jabs From Rivals. The candidates turned on one another […] The attacks reflected the urgency of the moment, as Mr. Sanders gains strength and those hoping to slow him are worried about Mr. Bloomberg’s rise.”

    Same for NBC: “Boomberg in fray as Democrats trade nonstop attacks at most contentious debate yet.” […]


    And … there’s more, including MSNBC, CNN and the Washington Post. Only ABC actually mentioned Warren in its headline. Mainstream media is, all too often, writing Warren out of the news.

  77. says

    Elizabeth Warren criticized Bloomberg’s answer to a question about stop-and-frisk:

    The language he [Bloomberg] used isn’t about stop-and-frisk, it’s about how it turned out. This isn’t about how it turned out, this is about what it was designed to do. It targeted black and brown men from the beginning.


  78. says

    Politico finally came up with a headline that features Warren: “Elizabeth Warren, unbound: the long-restrained Democratic hopeful came to Vegas itching for a fight—and did not disappoint.”

    There’s even a good photo of Warren.

    […] The Vegas debate stage had the feel of a late-night party suddenly crashed by an unwelcome visitor. Warren, who often says she “grew up fighting,” seized the role of bouncer from the earliest minutes, when the TV audience is often largest, by describing Bloomberg as “a billionaire who calls women ‘fat broads’ and ‘horse-faced lesbians.’” She later moved on to his record on civil rights (“You need a different apology here, Mr. Mayor”), accused him of “hiding his tax returns,” and performed an impromptu prosecution of Bloomberg’s use of non-disclosure agreements.

    “Democrats take a huge risk if we just substitute one arrogant billionaire for another,” she said. […]

    Better late than never, Politico.

  79. says

    Politico – “‘All traitors must die’: Feds charge man for threatening whistleblower attorney”:

    Federal prosecutors in Michigan have charged a man with making a death threat against one of the attorneys for a whistleblower who initiated the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, according to newly unsealed court records.

    The man, Brittan J. Atkinson, allegedly emailed the attorney in November, calling him a “traitor” who “must die a miserable death.” The attorney, Mark Zaid, confirmed to POLITICO that he received the email the day after Trump held up Zaid’s photo and read some of Zaid’s tweets during a rally.

    “All traitors must die miserable deaths,” reads the email to Zaid that was sent on November 7. “Those that represent traitors shall meet the same fate. We will hunt you down and bleed you out like the pigs you are. We have nothing but time, and you are running out of it. Keep looking over your shoulder. We know who you are, where you live, and who you associate with. We are all strangers in a crowd to you.”

    Atkinson has been charged with violating 18 USC 875(c), which prohibits interstate “communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of another” and is punishable by up to five years in prison.

    The indictment follows months of rhetorical salvos by the president and his allies against the whistleblower, whose purported identity has been posted on social media and even read aloud in the Senate chamber despite federal laws that allow whistleblowers to remain anonymous in order to encourage them to report wrongdoing.

    Trump has tweeted about the whistleblower more than five dozen times since September, accusing the person of being part of the “deep state” and alleging that he gave the Intelligence Community inspector general false information. Nothing in the whistleblower’s original complaint, however, has proven inaccurate.

    Zaid and his co-counsel on the whistleblower case, Andrew Bakaj, wrote a letter to then Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire in September raising “serious concerns” about their client’s safety following remarks Trump made at the U.N. accusing the whistleblower of being a “spy.”

    “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now,” Trump said, according to audio of the remarks obtained by The Los Angeles Times.

    To Zaid’s knowledge, the indictment is the first time an individual has been charged with making death threats against him, he said. But it’s far from the first threatening email he and his legal partner Bradley Moss have received since taking on the whistleblower as a client….

  80. says

    Wonkette’s coverage of last night’s debate was good.

    […] 8:52 PM: Watching Steve Kornacki explain that Bloomberg has zoomed into the “number two spot” while he shows a graphic showing Bloomberg and Warren tied.


    Gonna have a goddamn aneurysm.

    9:00 PM: And we have a new face in the gladiator clips at the top of the show, it’s somebody I’m unfamiliar with because I don’t vote for Republicans.

    (Guys, will I vote for him over Trump? Of course, shut up, Jesus Christ.)

    LESTER HOLT: Bernie and Bloomberg, will you please fight?



    Holt goes to Bloomberg, who talks about 160 million people wanting to … keep their health insurance?


    She calls him a billionaire who talks about “fat broads and horse-faced lesbians” […]

    9:10 PM: Amy with “he told us all to get out of the race this morning,” and Pete with “how about a candidate who’s actually a Democrat?” THIS IS VICIOUS AND I FUCKING LOVE IT.

    OH DAMN, Pete, getting a roundhouse from Bernie about being supported by billionaires instead of the working class, pounds on Bernie for being “at war” with the Culinary Union “right here in Las Vegas” which is, yes, a thing that happened. This is just fists flying and boobs jiggling and hair gnashing and teeth ripping. This is wrestling in creamed corn […]

    9:15 PM: Bernie is disavowing Bernie Bros, saying they should not be Bernie Bros while also denying that they particularly exist and that who REALLY gets it is Nina Turner. Pete is about to be like “NAH” but Bernie filibusters, and says, “I AM A UNION GUY it is UNTHINKABLE that my followers would go after the union.” *But they are.* And here comes Pete with his quiet reasonable voice […]

    AAAAAND here comes the 40 minutes on Medicare For All. Is the country ready for it? How will we pay for it? What about choice? What about the culinary union? CHUCK FUCKING TODD WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH THIS ALREADY.


    9:20 PM: Oyez Oyez cometh Liz Warren to accuse Pete of “a powerpoint” plan for healthcare, while Amy’s is “like a post-it.” […]

    Pete with equanimity: “I’m more of a Microsoft Word guy.” LOL Pete. Now that Bloomberg is here, I don’t even hate you at all! […]

    9:25 PM: […] Warren is here to lizsplain to Buttigieg what the four costs to families in healthcare are. “You can’t just stand here and trash a plan to give healthcare to everyone without a plan of your own.”

    Liz met a man in Reno just to watch him die.

    9:30 PM: Lester Holt has a question about Stop & Frisk. Bloomberg has a bullshit answer. And who’s GRR MAD ABOUT IT? The guy who wrote the crime bill, Joe Biden. (I believe that he’s mad about it, for the record. It’s just … oh I’m tired.)

    Bloomberg says if we took off everyone who was wrong about criminal justice at some point in their careers, nobody would be left. And he’s right! But you can be wrong SOMETIMES or you can be wrong ALL THE TIME, and the guy who was a Republican until 10 minutes ago, and who’s still talking about “the housing collapse came from giving loans to black people,” is wrong ALL THE TIME. (Except on guns and climate change.)

    9:35 PM: Bernie Sanders does it matter that you had a heart attack five months ago?

    Bernie Sanders: NO.

    Pete Buttigieg makes some dishonest noises about how it doesn’t matter that much that Bernie had a heart attack, what matters is HOW WILL HE PAAAAAY FOR CHOICE OF M4A and I am going to kill myself again, JUST AM.

    Mayor Bloomberg, will you release your tax returns?

    Bloomberg: for sure! But ‘I can’t just go to Turbotax,’ it takes some time!

    (Oh hey it turns out Bernie released his tax returns last year.)

    Amy says she can go to Turbotax, and that her standing heart rate invented Post-Its.

    Bloomberg, answering a question about how he loves to say gross shit about women, says he has no tolerance for the behavior exposed by #metoo. […] He says women have equal pay and responsibility in his empire.

    Warren has NO PATIENCE FOR THAT. “I hope you’ve heard what his defense was: ‘I’ve been nice to some women'”

    She’s brutalizing him, and here comes Biden to hold him down.

    9:45 PM: Bloomberg claims he can’t release women from their NDAs because they were “consensual.” […]

    9:51 PM: Pete goes after Amy like he’s Amy going after Pete, about “she didn’t know the name of the Mexican president,” which is a thing that happened too, but here comes Warren on a white horse to say we all can forget a name and it’s not like she doesn’t understand stuff, she forgot a name, and here comes Biden to say “I KNOW HIM I KNOW EVERYONE” and now Amy is debating whether we should call cartels terrorist organizations and Biden KNOWS THE CARTELS HIM AND EL CHAPO WERE IN NAM TOGETHER. […]

  81. says

    Jelani Cobb:

    MSNBC went to commercial so nobody could see Bloomberg’s cut man rushing out with a bucket and an ice pack.

    Chris Cillizza (CNN):

    After 1 hour:

    Warren is CRUSHING.

    Buttigieg steady as always

    Bloomberg being ripped to shreds

    Klobuchar struggling

    Biden is nonexistent

    Sanders skating

    Matt Fuller, with a response from Lindsey Barrett:

    Where was this Elizabeth Warren for the entire campaign?
    Being told that she was yelling too much, not yelling enough, being mean, not being mean enough, being too detail-oriented, not being detail-oriented enough, being radical, not being radical enough, […]

  82. says

    Followup to comment 119.

    More from Wonkette:

    […] 10:25 PM: Now Bernie will explain to the Republican on the stage about “socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for the poor.” Thank you Bernie! You may assist Warren in sweeping the shards of Bloomberg off the stage.

    Cometh Biden to remind everyone he is poor. HI JOE!

    10:30 PM: Warren says “Amy and Joe’s hearts are in the right place, but we can’t be so desperate to be liked by Mitch McConnell,” and then she goes after Pete like a common Amy and now Amy PISSED, and it’s possible Warren may have finally overstepped.

    10:35 PM: Pete, why is it awesome for Bloomberg to spend money on buying Congress but not on the presidency?

    Pete: He should spend it all on beating Trump for sure! But you don’t get to buy the presidency. I mean, this is an obvious answer, and it’s correct. And then all of a sudden he pivots to “Bernie wants to burn the house down.” You’d think he’d go after Our Girl, she’s the one to stop tonight!

    And now Warren is schooling Joe Biden on “Mitch McConnell, why he suck” and Joe MAD.


    Amy: This has been quite a debate! I do not have a heart condition! Trump does not have a heart!

    Bloomberg: Pick the technocratic manager, IT ME, Trump’s a bad manager and it’s no way to run a railroad and he has a catch phrase and it is “you did a bad job, you’re out of here.”

    Pete: Heartfelt! Reasonable! Not yelling like a harpy like some people!

    Warren: Guess who’s a fighter? My mom. Killed a man once. I helped bury him in the back yard.

    Joe: Oh sorry, Joe is the designated hecklee tonight, he will not get a closing statement oh he will, he will get knocked down and get up again. Joe is Chumbawamba. [video link to YouTube. Lyrics: "I get knocked down, but I get up again."]

    And Bernie: MOBILIZE IT! […]

  83. says

    Just pulling these two quotes out from the Wonkette liveblog:

    “Liz met a man in Reno just to watch him die.”
    “Warren: Guess who’s a fighter? My mom. Killed a man once. I helped bury him in the back yard.”

  84. tomh says

    Bloomberg spent $409 million on his campaign from November through January

    Mike Bloomberg, the multibillionaire who is self-funding his presidential bid, spent more than $409 million since entering the race in November, ramping up his spending through January on ads and hiring staff, a new federal filing shows.

    In January alone, Bloomberg spent $220.6 million on his campaign, with $172 million of it (78 percent) going into television and digital ads, according to the filings and the ad spending breakdowns provided by the campaign.

    In comparison, the six candidates still in the race who are not self-funding their campaigns (Tom Steyer’s campaign is largely self-funded) together spent $370 million in all of 2019.

    By Michelle Lee

  85. says

    Axios – “Black activist group gives its first presidential endorsement to Elizabeth Warren”:

    Elizabeth Warren is getting an endorsement from an influential activist group for black communities.

    The state of play: Black to the Future Action Fund, a think tank and political organizing group, was formed by Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza. This is their first endorsement of a presidential candidate, though they’ve endorsed down-ballot Democrats like Stacey Abrams and Lucy McBath.

    What they’re saying: Garza told Axios that the group likes Warren’s “analysis of how power operates in this country” and have decided that she is the best vehicle to help shift power in the direction of our communities.”…

  86. Akira MacKenzie says



    blockquote>“Bernie wants to burn the house down.”



    Yeah Not-a-Mayor Petey, that’s generally what you do when the house becomes uninhabitable: you condemn it then either burn it down or tear it down. You and your fellow candidates (Including “Save Capitalism” Warren) just keep wanted to slapping whatever makeshift repairs on our economic system and government just so they and their capitalist pig friends can keep making a buck off whoever is unfortunate enough to dwell there.

    No, the house–in this analogy, capitalism and the United States–MUST burn down. It must be razed to it’s foundation so that something better and stronger can be built in its stead.

  87. says

    Another WaPo piece to which I don’t have access: “SCOOP: After a congressional briefing on election threats, Trump ‘dressed down’ acting DNI Maguire, then appointed a loyalist to take his place.”

  88. says

    I recently read Lynne Olson’s 2014 Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America’s Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941. I have a variety of criticisms, but it’s worth reading in this moment especially for its vivid, detailed description of the 1940 presidential election between FDR and Wendell Willkie. Both conventions, the general election, and every single congressional battle over aid to Britain or entering the war were unbelievably contentious, ugly, and even violent. The historical perspective is very helpful.

    (Just after I finished the book, I saw that HBO will be airing a miniseries The Plot Against America, based on the Philip Roth novel, next month.)

  89. says

    Laurence Tribe: “This truly looks like TREASON in all but the narrowest possible sense. If confirmed, it’s utterly devastating. It points to an enemy of the nation sitting in the White House. This cannot stand if we are to survive as a sovereign constitutional republic.”

  90. says

    Ryan Goodman:

    NYT report is much more damning than earlier Washington Post report.

    1. Trump was furious that US intelligence officials did their job—informed congressional intelligence committee of Russian interference in 2020 campaign to try to get Trump re-elected.

    2. Washington Post’s sources said Trump had erroneously thought the briefing was given exclusively to @RepAdamSchiff.

    New York Times report is markedly different:

    “Mr. Trump cited the PRESENCE IN THE BRIEFING of Representative Adam B. Schiff.”

  91. says

    Adam Serwer:

    Trump does not believe in free and fair elections. He does not believe in allowing Americans to choose without using his authority to interfere. And because Trumpists believe they are the only “Real Americans,” they believe any means he uses to maintain power is acceptable.

    The problem, ultimately, is not simply that Trump believes that only he and his supporters can legitimately wield power. It is that the entire GOP has or is talking themselves into it [this is a pet peeve – should be “has talked or is talking” – SC]. They have no civic obligations to anyone else, because no one else is truly American.

  92. says

    Rebecca Ballhaus:

    Trump goes after the Oscars. “And the winner is a movie from South Korea. What the hell was that all about? We’ve got enough problems with South Korea, with trade. And after all that they give them best movie of the year?” Says ‘Gone with the Wind’ (1939) should’ve won instead.

    I honestly thought this was a joke. It’s not.

  93. says

    Followup to comment 131.

    From the Washington Post:

    […] senior U.S. intelligence official told lawmakers last week that Russia wants to see President Trump reelected, viewing his administration as more favorable to the Kremlin’s interests, according to people who were briefed on the comments.

    After learning of that analysis, which was provided to House lawmakers in a classified hearing, Trump erupted at his acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, in the Oval Office, seeing him and his staff as disloyal for speaking to Congress about Russia’s perceived preference. The intelligence official’s analysis and Trump’s furious response ruined Maguire’s chances of becoming the permanent intelligence chief, according to people familiar with the matter who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter. […]

    Trump announced on Wednesday that he was replacing Maguire with a vocal loyalist, Richard Grenell, who is the U.S. ambassador to Germany. The shake-up at the top of the intelligence community is the latest move in a post-impeachment purge. Trump has instructed aides to identify and remove officials across the government who aren’t defending his interests, and he wants them replaced with loyalists.

    […] The intelligence official, Shelby Pierson, said several times during the briefing that Russia had “developed a preference” for Trump, according to a U.S. official familiar with her comments. That conclusion was part of a broader discussion of election security that also touched on when the U.S. government should warn Democratic candidates that they were being targeted by foreign governments.

    […] Trump erroneously believed that Pierson had given the assessment exclusively to Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, people familiar with the matter said. Trump also believed that the information would be helpful to Democrats if it were released publicly, the people said. […]

    Trump learned about Pierson’s remarks from Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), the committee’s ranking Republican and a staunch Trump ally, said one person familiar with the matter. Trump’s suspicions of the intelligence community have often been fueled by Nunes, who was with the president in California on Wednesday when he announced on Twitter that Grenell would become the acting director, officials said. […]

    “Members on both sides participated, including ranking member Nunes, and heard the exact same briefing from experts across the intelligence community,” a committee official said. “No special or separate briefing was provided to one side or to any single member, including the chairman.” […]

    Other people familiar with the briefing described it as a contentious re-litigating of a previous intelligence assessment that Russia interfered in 2016 to help Trump. Republican members asked why the Russians would want to help Trump when he has levied punishing sanctions on their country, and they challenged Pierson to back up her claim with evidence. It is unclear how she responded.

    Republicans on the committee also accused some of the briefers from other agencies of being part of an effort to sabotage Trump’s reelectio, these people said.

    Trump became angry with Maguire and blamed him for Pierson’s remarks when the two met the next day during a special briefing for Trump on election security attended by officials from other agencies, but not Pierson.

    At that briefing, Trump angrily asked Maguire why he had to learn of what Pierson had said from Nunes and not from his own aides, according to administration officials with knowledge of the meeting. He said that Maguire should not have let the Capitol Hill briefing happen — particularly before he received the briefing — and that he should not have learned about it from a congressman, according to one administration official.

    He told Maguire and other aides in the Oval Office that he did not believe Russia was interfering to help him or planning to do so, and that the intelligence community was getting “played,” […] He said that the information would be used against him unfairly and that he could not believe that people were believing such a story again, reflecting his opinion that Russian interference in 2016 was a “hoax” made up by officials with a political agenda.

    Maguire struck an apologetic tone and said he was looking into it, this official said.

    Trump gave Maguire “a dressing-down,” said another individual, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter. “That was the catalyst” that led to the sidelining of Maguire in favor of Grenell, the person said.

    Maguire came away “despondent,” said another individual.

    […] Trump’s removal of Maguire exacerbated long-standing tensions between intelligence officials and the president. Intelligence leaders have long been some of Trump’s favorite targets on Twitter and at campaign rallies, where he portrays them as members of a “deep state” bent on sabotaging his reelection.

    But officials at the agencies insist they have carried on the tradition of providing the president and his top aides with unvarnished information not infected by politics or policy agendas. […]


    More at the link.

  94. says

    From John Brennan:

    We are now in a full-blown national security crisis. By trying to prevent the flow of intelligence to Congress, Trump is abetting a Russian covert operation to keep him in office for Moscow’s interests, not America’s.

  95. says

    Followup to comment 129.

    From the Washington Post:

    Facebook created “Project P” — for propaganda — in the hectic weeks after the 2016 presidential election and quickly found dozens of pages that had peddled false news reports ahead of Donald Trump’s surprise victory. Nearly all were based overseas, had financial motives and displayed a clear rightward bent.

    […] in a videoconference between Facebook’s Washington office and its Silicon Valley headquarters in December 2016, the company’s most senior Republican, Joel Kaplan, voiced concerns that would become familiar to those within the company.

    “We can’t remove all of it because it will disproportionately affect conservatives,” said Kaplan, […]

    When another Facebook staff member pushed for the entire list to be taken down on the grounds that the accounts fueled the “fake news” that had roiled the election, Kaplan warned of the backlash from conservatives.

    “They don’t believe it to be fake news,” he said, arguing for time to develop guidelines that could be defended to the company’s critics, including on the right.

    The debate over “Project P,” which resulted in a few of the worst pages quickly being removed while most others remained on the platform, exemplified the political dynamics that have reigned within Facebook since Trump emerged as the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee to the White House in 2016. A company led mainly by Democrats in the liberal bastion of Northern California repeatedly has tilted rightward to deliver policies, hiring decisions and public gestures sought by Republicans, […]

    Trump and other party leaders have pressured Facebook by making unproven claims of bias against conservatives […]

    Such factors have helped shape a platform that gives politicians license to lie and that remains awash in misinformation, vulnerable to a repeat of many of the problems that marred the 2016 presidential election.

    Facebook, unlike Google and Twitter, also has refused calls to restrict politicians’ access to powerful ad-targeting tools — which Trump used with particular relish four years ago — that allow messages to be tailored to individual voters, based on characteristics Facebook has gleaned over years of tracking user behavior.

    “I think Facebook is looking at their political advertising policies in explicitly partisan terms, and they’re afraid of angering Republicans,” said Alex Stamos, head of the Stanford Internet Observatory, a research group, and a former Facebook chief security officer. “The Republicans in the D.C. office see themselves as a bulwark against the liberals in California.”

    […] “After 2016, we made massive investments in new teams and technology to make our products safer and to secure elections,” said company spokesman Andy Stone. “People on both sides of the aisle continue to criticize us, but we remain committed to seeking outside perspectives and building a platform for all ideas.”

    […] But critics — both outside Facebook and within its ranks — see something more akin to corporate realpolitik, a willingness to accede to political demands in an era when Republicans control most levers of power in Washington.

    “Facebook does not speak Republican,” said a former employee of Facebook’s Integrity Team, which was created to ensure safety and trust on the platform, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak freely about a former employer. “This is what they know about Republicans: Tell them ‘yes’ or they will hurt us.”

    […] Facebook’s quest to quell conservative criticism has infused a range of decisions in recent years, say people familiar with the company’s internal debates. These included whether to allow graphic images of premature babies on feeding tubes — a prohibition that had rankled antiabortion groups — or to include the sharply conservative Breitbart News in a list of news sources despite its history of serving, in the words of its former executive chairman Stephen K. Bannon, as the “platform for the alt-right.” […]

    The role of helping the company maneuver through this treacherous new political landscape became a core responsibility for Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president for global public policy, who had joined the company in 2011, after eight years in the Bush White House and a stint as an energy lobbyist. [All the best people.]

    The former Marine Corps officer had clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and, despite supporting former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) for president, met with Trump in December 2016 after the White House expressed interest in having him head the Office of Management and Budget. Kaplan later played a key role in organizing support for Trump Supreme Court pick Brett M. Kavanaugh, a longtime Kaplan friend. [OMG!]

    As Trump came to office, Kaplan was a Republican in a company increasingly self-conscious about its oversupply of Democrats in its top ranks. […]


    Much more at the link.

  96. says

    Lynna @ #s 147 and 149, thank you so much!

    Re the FB story: These reports always bring to mind Tom Mills’ book about the history of the BBC and the British Right’s successful multi-decade campaign to skew its coverage in their favor. A key part of the effort has been threats, which cause the BBC to bend over backwards to coddle the Right, which helps them to gain power, which puts them in a position to threaten the BBC further,… Also, it’s irritating that every one of these FB stories seems to use the trope of how the leadership is mostly Democratic, which is almost always directly contradicted by the content of the articles. It’s like they have a template for any report about FB and politics which requires the inclusion of phrases like “a company led mainly by Democrats” whether the evidence meaningfully supports that or not, which ironically parallels the FB practices they’re reporting on.

  97. says

    Kentucky GOP is advancing a bill to strip power from the Democratic governor solely because a Dem beat an R in 2019. This isn’t an isolated power grab; the GOP has done it after Dems won in MI, NC, & WI since 2016. This is a direct assault on the legitimacy of the opposition.

    Republicans do not believe Democrats have a right to govern when they are duly elected. They’ve shown repeatedly via gerrymandering, voter suppression, court-packing, & blocking federal action to protect against foreign hacking that they do not support representative democracy.”

  98. says

    Update to #120 – Maddow’s dramatic reading – “Prosecutor disavows Barr bigfooting of Stone sentencing”: “Rachel Maddow shares a portion of the Roger Stone sentencing transcript in which Justice Department prosecutor John Crabb speaks in support of the case against Stone and defers to the judge on sentencing, disavowing what William Barr imposed on the case.” (I’m kind of obsessed with the dainty living-room lamp and alarm clock in the courtroom.)

  99. says

    ABC – “Bloomberg dismisses past comments as ‘a joke.’ NDA shows plaintiff barred from offering differing view.”:

    During his debut on the Democratic debate stage in Nevada on Wednesday night, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was confronted by Sen. Elizabeth Warren about his alleged history of making crude and degrading comments toward women.

    “I’d like to talk about who we’re running against,” Warren said. “A billionaire who calls women fat broads and horse-faced lesbians, and no I’m not talking about Donald Trump, I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.”

    Under pressure, Bloomberg reverted to a well-worn line of defense, dismissing his past language as a “joke.”

    “None of [the women] accused me of doing anything, other than, maybe, they didn’t like a joke I told,” Bloomberg replied, echoing comments he made on “The View” last month, when he said, “Did I ever tell a bawdy joke? Yeah, sure, I did. And do I regret it? Yes, it’s embarrassing, but, you know, that’s the way I grew up.”

    But for some women who might wish to speak publicly about that conduct, now that he’s running for President of the United States, the consequences could be deeply serious. As Bloomberg has downplayed the nature of the allegations against him and his company, those who leveled allegations against him who are subject to a confidentiality agreements could face potentially significant financial exposure if they decided to speak.

    Several women have entered into strict non-disclosure agreements with Bloomberg’s company in connection to a slew of gender discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits, detailing decades worth of allegations that Bloomberg personally directed crude and sexist comments to women in his office.

    One confidential settlement agreement negotiated by Bloomberg’s company and obtained by ABC News reveals, the plaintiff was asked to agree not to “in any way disparage” Bloomberg’s company. If asked about the agreement, the person is advised to say “the parties reached an amicable resolution of this dispute … but should not comment further on their settlement.”

    Bloomberg and his company have so far resisted calls – most notably from Sen. Warren – to release those women from those agreements. On Wednesday, Bloomberg even implied that the women subject to the privacy agreements wanted to continue to abide by them.

    But ABC News has spoken with several women who expressed interest in telling their stories, but feared the prospect of retribution from the company, including significant financial losses for violating the terms of their confidentiality agreement by speaking out….

  100. says

    John Legend: “Raise your hand if you LOVE your health insurance plan. I hear politicians say ‘don’t take away these insurance plans that millions of people love’ and I’m like who LOVES their health insurance plan? Genuinely curious.”

    Almost no one loves their health insurance plan, and for many of the small number who do it’s tied to their job so if they lost or left their job they would lose it. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard from friends and acquaintances in the past few months about dealing with insurance for everything from basic medications to surgery. It’s like another job. It’s fucking insane, and it’s outrageous that some Democratic presidential candidates are using the same bogus scare tactics Republicans have used for decades to block progress on health care. People are suffering and dying and being forced to make choices they should never have to make, all while the Trumpublicans are working to erase even the meager gains people have fought for.

  101. says

    Serwer’s full Atlantic article from #139 above – “The First Days of the Trump Regime.”

    Democrats impeached Trump to preserve a democratic system in which they have a chance of winning, in which the president cannot blithely frame his rivals for invented crimes. Republicans acquitted him because they fear that a system not rigged in their favor is one in which they will never win again.

    Highly recommended.

  102. says

    SC @150, you’re welcome.

    I’ll repeat these highlights from comment 147, along with some of my reactions. Yes, there is a madman in the White House:

    Trump has instructed aides to identify and remove officials across the government who aren’t defending his interests, and he wants them replaced with loyalists.
    Trump erroneously believed that Pierson [intelligence official, Shelby Pierson, who briefed Congress members and who said during the briefing that Russia had “developed a preference” for Trump], had given the assessment exclusively to Rep. Adam B. Schiff
    Trump learned about Pierson’s remarks from Rep. Devin Nunes [now that’s a reliable source! /sarcasm]
    “Members on both sides participated, including ranking member Nunes, and heard the exact same briefing from experts across the intelligence community,” a committee official said. “No special or separate briefing was provided to one side or to any single member, including the chairman.”
    Republicans on the committee also accused some of the briefers from other agencies of being part of an effort to sabotage Trump’s reelection [Oh, FFS! Madmen not just in the White House, but also in Congress]
    He [Trump] told Maguire and other aides in the Oval Office that he did not believe Russia was interfering to help him or planning to do so, and that the intelligence community was getting “played,” […] He said that the information would be used against him unfairly and that he could not believe that people were believing such a story again, reflecting his opinion that Russian interference in 2016 was a “hoax” made up by officials with a political agenda. [Yikes!]

    So that’s why McQuire was fired and the totally incompetent Grenell was put in place. Today we have learned that Deven Nune’s toady, Kash Patel, has also been added to the Office of National Intelligence. Patel is a former acolyte of Nunes, and Patel worked to discredit Mueller’s Russia probe in the past.

    Kash Patel, a former top National Security Council official who also played a key role as a Hill staffer in helping Republicans discredit the Russia probe, is now a senior adviser for new acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, according to four people familiar with the matter.

    It’s not clear what exact role Patel is playing in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the U.S. intelligence community. He started at ODNI on Thursday, according to an administration official. […]

    He had previously worked as Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.)’s top staffer on the House Intelligence Committee and was the lead author of a report questioning the conduct of FBI and DOJ officials investigating Russia’s election interference. Republicans later used the report to bolster arguments that the probe was a plot to take down President Donald Trump. […]


    Advisor to Richard Grenell, eh? What could go wrong?

  103. says

    John McEntee used to work at the White House as Trump’s “personal assistant” or “body man.” Then White House Chief of Staff John Kelly fired McEntee because he was being investigated for financial crimes related to gambling.

    Now McEntee is back. He has a new job:

    […] as the new director of the Office of Presidential Personnel. It’s a rather important position for the 29-year-old Republican, who’ll be responsible for hiring and vetting those seeking jobs in the White House. […]

    Johnny McEntee called in White House liaisons from cabinet agencies for an introductory meeting Thursday, in which he asked them to identify political appointees across the U.S. government who are believed to be anti-Trump, three sources familiar with the meeting tell Axios.

    So the controversial former body man is now the White House personnel chief on the hunt for Never-Trumpers? And he’s seeking assistance from cabinet agency officials, who’ll apparently be expected to play a role in a McCarthyite scheme?

    The Axios report added that Trump considers McEntee “an absolute loyalist,” and the president has empowered his young ally to purge the “bad people” and “Deep State.”

    With that in mind, McEntee reportedly told staff that “those identified as anti-Trump will no longer get promotions by shifting them around agencies.”

    If you thought Team Trump was purging perceived enemies from government posts before, it’s apparently poised to get considerably worse


    Sounds like a Putin-esque play.

  104. says

    Followup to comment 160.

    More details and analysis from Steve Benen:

    […]a senior U.S. intelligence official, Shelby Pierson, briefed House lawmakers on Russian efforts to target our elections and help Donald Trump. A day later, the president, furious about the briefing — but not about the Russian attack — upbraided his acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire.

    A week later, Trump replaced Maguire with Ric Grenell, putting a partisan loyalist in a position to oversee the U.S. intelligence community, despite the fact that Grenell has never served a day in the intelligence community in any capacity.

    Among the lingering questions: how exactly did the president know what was said during the intelligence briefing to members of Congress? The Washington Post […] added an interesting tidbit along these lines.

    Trump learned about Pierson’s remarks from Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.), the committee’s ranking Republican and a staunch Trump ally, said one person familiar with the matter. Trump’s suspicions of the intelligence community have often been fueled by Nunes, who was with the president in California on Wednesday when he announced on Twitter that Grenell would become the acting director, officials said.

    A couple of years ago, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) appeared on MSNBC and addressed the fact that Nunes — then the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee — appeared a little too eager to use his office to help the Republican White House.

    “You have to keep in mind who [Nunes] works for,” Yoho said at the time. “He works for the president and answers to the president.”

    The Florida congressman’s office later said Yoho “misspoke” during the interview, though there are occasional questions about whether his initial assessment was the correct one.


  105. says

    During the Democratic debate on Wednesday night, Bloomberg got it wrong when he talked about pay equity for women at Bloomberg Company.

    Data from Michael Bloomberg’s media empire appears to debunk his claim during the Democratic presidential debate Wednesday night that women at his company “get paid exactly the same as men.”

    “Let me tell you what I do at my company and my foundation and in city government when I was there,” Bloomberg said during the debate. “In my foundation, the person that runs it’s a woman, 70 percent of the people there are women. In my company, lots and lots of women have big responsibilities. They get paid exactly the same as men. And in my City Hall, the top person, my deputy mayor, was a woman, and 40 percent of our commissioners were women.”

    […] unionized staffers at Bloomberg BNA conducted a pay survey last year of non-management employees that found that although 52.7 percent of BNA’s workforce comprised of women, female staffers earned 93 percent of the pay of their male counterparts. Bloomberg BNA’s union wrote in an April 2019 tweet that “women and people of color face the biggest gaps.”

    Bloomberg BNA’s union also shared the study on Thursday in a tweet showing that white men earn almost $5,500 more than their female counterparts. The study showed more obvious differences among black and Latinx staffers. […]


    Maybe Bloomberg thinks that is pay equity because it is not as unequal as some other companies? Or Bloomberg intends to promote pay equity but doesn’t do enough homework to get it done?

    […] HuffPost also reported on pay inequity within the Bloomberg media empire Thursday by citing a gender pay gap report filed by financial software giant Bloomberg LP in the United Kingdom in April 2018.

    According to HuffPost, women employed by Bloomberg LP in the United Kingdom earn 21.9 percent less than men when it comes to median hourly wage. HuffPost also found that women make up only 20 percent of the top quarter of the highest-paying jobs and that the representation of women is most prominent in the bottom quarter of jobs. […]

    a Bloomberg LP spokesperson disputed HuffPost’s report, saying that it contains several inaccuracies that the company has highlighted to the reporter. The spokesperson told TPM that the inaccuracies include misreporting the UK gender pay disclosure data and confusing gender pay data with equal pay. The spokesperson added that unequal pay has been against the law in the UK since the Equal Pay Act was introduced in 1970 and in the US since the 1960s. […]

    From the readers comments:

    Equal pay for equal work can be largely achieved while hiding an underlying problem of not hiring women as often for the higher paid work. You can have a situation where execs are being paid equally, secretaries are being paid equally, etc., but where hiring practices are not to hire equally for the higher paid positions.
    Those reasons go hand in hand. You can’t fix the pay gap just by paying people equally who hold the same job designation, because who gets what job designation is part of the problem, and circular reasoning justifying lower paying jobs abounds.
    93% is probably not bad, but as everyone else has pointed out, it doesn’t take much in differential hiring and promotion practices to make a place woman and/or minority hostile.

  106. says

    Mark Sumner summarizes recent events related to Trump’s handling of the intelligence community:

    Step One: The intelligence official in charge of election security delivers the required briefing at a closed-door session of the House Intelligence Committee and informs the members of that committee that a) Russia has already engaged in interfering with the 2020 election, b) it is trying to sow dissension among Democrats, and c) the ultimate goal is to support Trump.

    Step Two: Republicans on that committee rush to Donald Trump, not to warn him about Russian interference but to complain that Democrats know about the interference. Trump responds by hauling in the acting director of national intelligence, raking him over the coals, and replacing him with a man whose entire skill set consists of making hate-tweets and promoting Russia.

    Step Three: Chaos. […]

    Much of what’s happening inside the ODNI hasn’t become public, but there has apparently been enough pushback that Trump has already announced that Grenell will be a short-term appointment until he picks someone else.

    Then, on Thursday evening, Trump offered the role to Doug Collins—an offer that still seems to be open. But Collins has already declared that he doesn’t want the job, because he’s still intent on running for a Senate slot in Georgia […]

    As of Friday morning, Trump has announced that he will be appointing someone other than Grenell, but who that someone will be is still up in the air. In the meantime, the intelligence community has joined the Judiciary Community at full boil. It’s become absolutely clear that Trump is purging intelligence officials whose only crime is that they provided accurate intelligence to a committee that is not just cleared, but required [by law!] to receive that information. […]

    Trump then called in acting DNI Joseph Maguire and reamed him out for allowing Pierson to give a long-scheduled and congressionally mandated briefing. Even though Maguire had been instrumental in trying to block the intelligence community whistleblower report that started off the impeachment investigation of Trump from ever seeing the light of day, that little favor did not seem to cool Trump’s fire. At the end of the day, he canned Maguire and went looking for someone who would be loyal to Trump rather than to the nation.

    What’s happening at both the Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence at this moment is a last stand by those who have some concern other than protecting Trump’s political interests. What’s most frightening is just how small that group of fighters appears to be.


  107. says

    If you have a favorite candidate in the Democratic primary race, now is the time to send that candidate some cash. (Unless your candidate is Bernie Sanders or one of the billionaires, Bloomberg and Steyer,—they have plenty of money.)

    Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren each started the month scraping perilously close to the bottom of their campaign bank accounts, posing an existential threat to their candidacies as the Democratic primary goes national.

    They’re up against well-funded machines threatening to dominate the Democratic race: Bernie Sanders, whose recent rise in the polls has come during a major spending streak fueled by his online donors, and billionaire Mike Bloomberg, whose fortune has vaulted him into the middle of the campaign […]

    While Sanders started February with nearly $17 million in the bank, according to campaign finance disclosures filed Thursday night, his next closest rival (nonbillionaire class) was Biden, at $7.1 million. Warren was closest to the red, with just $2.3 million left in her account, while Buttigieg ($6.6 million) and Klobuchar ($2.9 million) were in between.

    The cash crunch comes at a critical time in the race, with nearly one-third of the delegates available in the primary up for grabs on Super Tuesday on March 3 — and only a handful of candidates able to marshal resources to advertise to voters in those 14 states. It’s why super PACs, demonized at the beginning of the 2020 primary, are suddenly jumping in to assist most Democratic candidates, and it’s why the campaigns are now making ever more urgent pleas for financial help. […]

    “We are now also up against a billionaire who is throwing colossal sums of money on television instead of doing the work of campaigning,” Buttigieg wrote in an email to supporters. “We need to raise a significant amount of money — about $13 million — before Super Tuesday on March 3rd in order to stay competitive.”

    […] “There are only a couple candidates out there with the funds to compete in all of those Super Tuesday states,” said Ami Copeland, deputy national finance director for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. Other campaigns “have to fight among themselves for the smaller states.”

    That made Warren’s strong debate performance Wednesday night especially important for her campaign, which said it raised over $5 million in less than 24 hours — a much-needed influx and her best fundraising day to date.

    Meanwhile, single-candidate super PACs supporting Warren and Klobuchar have started airing ads in South Carolina and Nevada […] VoteVets, a super PAC that supports veterans and has endorsed Buttigieg, is airing ads backing him in the race. […]

    Sanders spent $26.5 million in January, airing television ads and paying a staff of more than 1,000 people while still keeping enough in the bank to jump into California and Texas media markets ahead of most of his rivals.

    The next biggest-spending campaign, Warren’s, spent nearly all of its available cash in January, shelling out $22 million and entering February with only $2.3 million cash on hand. The Warren campaign has a particularly large staff of more than 1,200 people, which cost $8.6 million in salary and payroll taxes in January alone.

    Warren has also had to shuffle her television ad reservations in South Carolina and Nevada, cutting overall ad spending. Warren’s campaign was in such financial need that it took out a $400,000 loan in January, disclosures show.

    But her campaign is now taking outside help that could offer it a lifeline: On Wednesday, a new super PAC, Persist PAC, began reserving seven figures worth of TV ads, boosting Warren’s campaign with an ad highlighting her experience at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    Asked on Thursday whether she would call on the super PAC to take the ads down, Warren declined to disavow the new group, despite her earlier opposition to super PACs in the race.

    “If all the candidates want to get rid of super PACs? Count me in, I’ll lead the charge. But that’s how it has to be,” Warren told reporters.


  108. says

    Trump is trying to keep farmers in the USA in the pro-Trump camp:

    “If our formally targeted farmers need additional aid until such time as the trade deals with China, Mexico, Canada and others fully kick in, that aid will be provided by the federal government,” Trump tweeted in all-caps. He also added, erroneously, that the money for the aid would come from tariffs his administration has slapped on billions of dollars of imported goods. […]

    the department [Agricultural Department] on Thursday projected that farm exports to China would total $14 billion this year, up from $10 billion in fiscal 2019. That estimate was far short of the $40 billion in U.S. farm goods that Beijing pledged to purchase under the “phase one” trade deal that took effect last week.[…]


  109. says

    Yeah, Trump is still out there trying to steal the spotlight from the Democratic campaign for president. As part of his own campaign rally, Trump presented “one of his pettiest displays yet.”

    […] Trump devoted an inordinate amount of time during his rally on Thursday in Colorado Springs to complaining about a Fox News segment that few of the attendees were likely to have seen, featuring commentary from a journalist most of them had probably never heard of.

    The roughly 20-minute display was remarkably petty — and it wasn’t the only one of that sort Trump made in Colorado Springs. But it was also an illustration of the complete, blind loyalty that Trump expects from Fox News.

    At issue was commentary made earlier in the day on Neil Cavuto’s show by A.B. Stoddard, who works as an associate editor at the political news and polling aggregation outlet RealClearPolitics. Stoddard panned Mike Bloomberg’s performance in Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate, but did so by taking a shot at Trump.

    “I think that Donald Trump had disastrous debate performances. Many answers were so cringeworthy you just couldn’t even believe he was still standing on the stage — and he’s president,” she said — the implication being that despite Bloomberg’s rough night, his campaign isn’t over yet, just like Trump’s wasn’t after his bad showings.

    Even though he’s traveling in Nevada, Arizona, and California this week, Trump apparently saw Stoddard’s comments and lashed out at everyone involved — including former House Speaker Paul Ryan, who now serves on Fox Corporation’s board.

    “Could somebody at @foxnews please explain to Trump hater A.B. Stoddard (zero talent!) and @TeamCavuto, that I won every one of my debates, from beginning to end,” the president tweeted. “Check the polls taken immediately after the debates. The debates got me elected. Must be Fox Board Member Paul Ryan!”

    Trump was still seething hours later. Minutes into his rally in Colorado Springs, he brought up Fox News and denigrated Cavuto, saying “nobody likes him.” He falsely claimed Cavuto has “taken” the place of former Fox News afternoon host Shepard Smith (though he seemed unable to remember Smith’s name), then alluded to the segment with Stoddard (though he couldn’t seem to remember her name either) and said, “wait a minute — I won every debate. It’s true.”

    “I said, ‘Nobody’s allowed to do that. You can’t do that.’ We’re at enough of a disadvantage with the fake news. You know, they make up 90 percent of the stories,” continued Trump, as his fans took the cue to start booing the assembled media.

    But that wasn’t all. Trump spent much of the next 15 minutes harping on the segment and trying to debunk Stoddard’s claim about him not doing well in the debates by reading off random polls from 2016.

    Yes, Trump read polls from 2016, and he got most of the poll data wrong.

    “Look at this — ‘Trump 70 percent,’ next one is 18 percent, next one is 7, 4, 3, 3, 3, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1,” Trump read off a sheet of paper, before tossing it away. “‘Trump didn’t do well in the debates!’ See — they’re fake news.”

    By the end of his rant, Trump was conflating various conspiracy theories, blending a number of them into a single incoherent attack on his perceived enemies.

    “They want to take you out. They want to change the results. They got caught spying — let’s say it like it is, right? — they got caught spying on our election, fake news. Hey, fake news: take your cameras for a change, and show them the room, and show them behind you,” Trump said.

    The point Trump was trying to make was twofold: Polls indicate his debate performances were actually good (this is not true), and the highest-rated shows on Fox are ones that basically don’t allow hosts or guests to be critical of him.

    But for someone who was unaware of the backstory, the president’s remarks must have sounded like nonsensical ramblings. Even for someone who was, the extended meltdown over a 30-second clip of commentary on a relatively obscure afternoon show was bizarre. […]


    More at the link.

    Trump also goaded his audience into booing teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. She appeared on the cover of Time magazine as Person of the Yeah. Trump is still a seething cauldron of hurt feelings and anger over that.

    More Trump rally details:

    […] Trump responded to “lock her up!” chants by suggesting Hillary Clinton would have been executed if she were a Republican. He sensationalized local crime stories to demonize undocumented immigrants. He joked about serving more than two terms in office, lied about his polling in Colorado, and once again displayed woeful ignorance about American history and renewable energy (among other topics).

    The juxtaposition between Trump’s rally and the Democratic presidential debate that took place the night before brought the stakes of the 2020 election into stark relief. On one side is a group of politicians that, despite their flaws, seem to be at least willing to engage in discussions about the important issues affecting people. On the other side is an incumbent who devotes more emotional energy to policing Fox News’s coverage of him and getting aggrieved over slights from celebrities [Brad Pitt, “And then you have Brad Pitt — I was never a big fan of his — he got up, said a little wise guy statement,” Trump said. “Little wise guy. He’s a little wise guy”] than he does to anything else.

  110. says

    Total weirdness, Doomsday Cult category:

    Lori Vallow, (allegedly) a reincarnated god sent to lead us all when Jesus comes back in July of this year, as well as mother to two children — Tylee Ryan, 17, and Joshua Vallow, 7 — who have been mysteriously missing since September of last year, has finally been arrested on the island of Kaua’i in Hawaii. Vallow was supposed to show up in court in Idaho on January 30 to explain where her kids are, but decided to stay in Hawaii instead.

    […] Vallow is being charged with “two felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children. She was also charged with […] resisting or obstructing officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime, and contempt of court – willful disobedience of court process or order. […]

    While we know why she’s being charged with child abandonment and why she’s being charged with contempt of court, the criminal solicitation count is a little murkier. It’s not at all clear what that charge refers to, but there are so many options it’s tough to keep track. Her brother killed her ex-husband before he (the brother) died; someone shot at her niece’s ex-husband (who is still living); and the former wife of her new husband, Chad Daybell, also died under mysterious circumstances weeks before Daybell and Vallow married. Certainly one wonders if Idaho police have found any evidence of any crimes. […]

    Police in Rexburg, Idaho, [a small city that is more than 90% Mormon, so I guess it is fertile ground for cults] say that Vallow and Daybell initially told them that Joshua Vallow was staying with a friend in Arizona, which turned out to be false. They also say they have information leading them to believe that Vallow and Daybell either know where Tylee Ryan and Joshua Vallow are, or know what happened to them. One would hope so anyway, considering that Lori Vallow is their mother. However, police in Kaua’i say there is no indication that the children were on the island with Vallow and Daybell, and they’ve been missing since September, so either they’re in a bunker with several buckets of Jim Bakker’s end of the world nachos, or … well, perhaps it’s best not to say.

    The only statement so far that has come from Vallow and Daybell is the one their lawyer gave back in early January, which says absolutely nothing about where the kids are or if they are even alive:

    “[…] Lori Daybell is a devoted mother and resents assertions to the contrary. We look forward to addressing the allegations once they have moved beyond speculation and rumor.”

    […]Vallow is being held on $5 million bail and will either have to go back to Idaho or fight extradition.

  111. says

    Uh, oh. Hard times have befallen an Orlando, Florida Jesusland-type theme park. “Layoffs mean no more daily scourgings, crucifixions.”

    The Holy Land Experience, a Jesus-oriented theme park that won a place on weird tourist attraction listicles for its daily reenactments of the torture and crucifixion of Jesus the Christ, announced this week it’s laying off most of its employees. That means no more Passion Plays, no more spectacles depicting Peter bringing the Gospel to Rome, and no more educational Roman Soldier Training Camp for the kids. Romanes Eunt Domus, indeed! We aren’t sure whether the big diorama of Jerusalem in Jesus Times will stay open, but maybe? The park’s management says it plans to return to its original mission as a church and museum, and a diorama doesn’t have a lot of moving parts.

    The Tampa Bay Times reports the park is laying off darn near everyone.

    On Friday, the theme park filed a layoff notice with city and state officials that it plans to eliminate 118 jobs, representing most of its employees, as of April 18. Those losing their jobs include 43 actors and musicians, plus dancers, media specialists, prop handlers, food service workers and support staff.

    The layoffs didn’t come as too big a surprise, since the park, owned by the Trinity Broadcasting Network, announced in January it would be ending all its theatrical productions and later said it was definitely staying open but also maybe looking for a buyer.

    We bet that somewhere in heaven, TBN founders Paul and Jan Crouch are looking down from their $100,000 motorhome for dogs or their $50 million jet (it’s there with them — you’ve heard of the spiritual plane, haven’t you?) and crying at what’s become of their beautiful ministry. Guess the audiences that made The Passion of the Christ a hit weren’t willing to travel to see some bloody Jesus-whipping. […]

    Wonkette link

    More at the link.

    Some taxpayer money is also down the drain: taxpayer subsidies through [a] property tax exemption go as high as $2.2 million dollars since 2006.

    Hard to imagine this theme park failed when they even had a crucifixion scene on their mini-golf course.

  112. says

    From Jeremy Samuel Faust:

    […] If Sanders were to honor his promise to release his “full” records, a nearly complete analysis of his short-term health risks could be made. As a physician who assesses these types of risks on a daily basis, I believe that all candidates, especially older ones—and particularly Michael Bloomberg, who has just revealed that he has heart disease significant enough to warrant coronary stenting in the past—should level with the American people and release not just summaries from their personal physicians but comprehensive and detailed medical records. […]

    there appears to be little evidence that Sanders’ current health is a hindrance to the daily rigors of a national campaign. Considering the extent of his heart attack in October, he appears to be doing well, able to campaign vigorously, and likely up to the demanding position of president, from an endurance standpoint at least. Nor is his life expectancy the central question, though, yes, his remaining expected life span dropped from around 10 to five years after his heart attack. But his one-year risk is low, meaning his chance of surviving the campaign is good. When Sanders entered the hospital in October (given what we’ve been told by his doctors), his calculated six-month risk of death was rather harrowing, likely between 11 and 19 percent. Fortunately, by virtue of surviving his initial hospitalization, and the incident-free intervening four months, those numbers have improved, to better than 95 percent.

    […] Two months after his heart attack, the senator performed 50 percent better on an exercise stress test than men of his age who had similar conditions. But compared with men his age without known heart conditions, his exercise capacity was described by his own physicians as merely average. So, what we can say is that whatever statistical edge Sanders may have had over the general population of his geriatric peers in September was forfeited in an instant in October. He is now, cardiovascularly speaking at least, a typical old man.

    What’s the risk that nonfatal emergencies could take him off the trail between now and Nov. 3 […] We have good ways of estimating that chance. Granular data from one of the most influential cardiovascular trials of the 21st century shows that upon release from the hospital after a heart attack like Sanders’, the 12-month risk of either another heart attack, a stroke, or death deemed to have been caused by another cardiovascular problem in men 75 or older was at least 18.3 percent, or a little better than 1 in 5. […]

    The good news for Sanders is that he’s fared well in the first four months after his heart attack, which is when about two-thirds of these complications generally occur. That means his risk for the remainder of the year is now likely to be around 6 percent. But because he hasn’t released the full record from his October hospitalization, we don’t know if that number is actually substantially higher or lower. Both are possible. […]

    Using Medicare claims data, researchers at Yale analyzed millions of patients who suffered heart attacks like Sanders’. (As an aside, using adjectives like mild, moderate, or severe to describe Sanders’ heart attack is not helpful. What we can say is that these researchers were looking precisely at patients like Sanders who had experienced approximately the same problem as his, in the same time frame.)

    Here’s what they found: From the day they left the hospital, the one-year risk of at least one rehospitalization for any reason in Medicare beneficiaries who suffered a heart attack like Sanders’ was about 50 percent (the baseline annual risk among his age cohort is more like 1 in 6). Again, by virtue of four incident-free months on the trail, that number is now lower for Sanders. But his chance of another hospitalization between now and November alone likely remains between 30–35 percent. While the daily risk is low, around 0.17 percent, we have more than 250 days to go until Election Day. The risks add up.

    […] What we can say, though, is that the rate of ER visits within one year of a heart attack is bound to be substantially higher than the rate of rehospitalizations. This makes sense—if you feel a little off, and you’ve recently had a heart attack, you’re probably going to go get it checked out. In my experience with these patients, the most common diagnosis is, thankfully, a “false alarm.” […]

    So, those are the short-term risks. What are the long-term risks? Again, Medicare claims data, this time analyzed by researchers at UCLA and Duke, provides information. We know that at five years, about half of population who has had heart attacks like Sanders’ remains alive. Once he makes it a full year, his odds of surviving a first presidential term would be about 65 percent, and would be 40 percent for two terms. The risk of a second heart attack during his first term hovers at about 30 percent, and would reach about 50 percent by the end of a second term. (This risk of this outcome in particular might be much higher or lower, but the relevant data from his hospitalization from October remains under lock and key.)

    […] A signed HIPAA release form is all that is needed. From there, external experts would be able to assess and provide further insight. While, in my opinion, these records would be unlikely to move the needle in favor or against any candidate most of the time, there are sure to be instances, either now or in the future, when voters will have benefited from that information.

    Medical transparency in the age of the geriatric presidency is a good habit. Let’s start it now.


  113. says

    Despite Republican efforts, ACA popularity reaches new high

    Popularity alone, however, won’t necessarily shield the health care from assorted threats. Republican plans against the ACA continue apace.

    At a campaign rally this week, Donald Trump set aside some time to talk about the Affordable Care Act, telling supporters, “We’re managing it incredibly.”

    Why would the Republican president who’s trying to tear down the ACA take credit for its implementation? It may have something to do with the health care reform law’s increasing popularity. The L.A. Times’ Michael Hiltzik explained this morning:

    To paraphrase Joni Mitchell, you often don’t know what you’ve got till it’s threatened. That may partially explain a new finding that the Affordable Care Act is more popular than ever. The result comes from the latest monthly tracking poll on healthcare issues by the Kaiser Family Foundation, taken in mid-February and released Friday.

    […] the ACA’s favorability rating has climbed to 55%. The Kaiser Family Foundation has been doing these monthly tracking polls for a full decade — which makes apples-to-apples comparisons easier — and “Obamacare” has never been more popular than it is right now.

    The law unfavorable rating, meanwhile, stands at 37%. There was a point in 2011 when these numbers were effectively reversed, which goes to show that those who predicted the ACA would gain public acceptance in time were correct.

    Popularity alone, however, won’t necessarily shield the health care from assorted threats. There’s an ongoing federal lawsuit — filed by Republican attorneys general and backed by the Trump administration — that’s trying to tear down the Affordable Care Act in its entirety.

    And while the fate of the litigation is uncertain, it’s not the only hazard on the horizon. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said last year that if Republicans fare well in the 2020 elections, “I can promise you … we’re going to repeal Obamacare.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) echoed the message, emphasizing that ACA repeal remains a Republican priority.

    The fact that the health care law is both effective and popular appears to be an inconvenient detail for which its conservative opponents have no use.

  114. says

    Ha! All the best people.

    Ilhan Omar’s Republican challenger for a Minnesota seat in Congress is on the lam. Danielle Stella is running from the law. Stella failed to appear in court after she was charged with theft.

    […] Staffers at the Hennepin County District Court and the county sheriff’s office confirmed to TPM that a judge had issued an arrest warrant after Stella skipped her hearing on October 31.

    “We can confirm that she does have an active felony theft warrant in Hennepin County,” Jeremy Zoss, the sheriff’s director of communications, said in an emailed statement. […]

    Stella allegedly shoplifted over $2,000 worth of items from Target in January 2019, then approximately $40 in “cat merchandise” from a grocery store several months later. […]

    “I am not guilty of these crimes,” she told the Guardian. “In this country I am innocent until proven guilty and that is the law.”

    In addition to the alleged shoplifting, Stella is infamous for her bombastic attacks on Omar and peddling racist conspiracy theories about the Somali-born congresswoman.

    Twitter permanently suspended the Republican in November after she suggested that the Omar ought to be “hanged” for treason.

    “My suspension for advocating for the enforcement of federal code proves Twitter will always side with and fight to protect terrorists, traitors, pedophiles and rapists,” Stella said in response to the ban.


    From the readers comments:

    I’m almost looking forward to seeing if Fox News even tries to cover this, and if they do how they spin this to be Democrats’ fault and/or actually a good thing for Stella.

  115. says

    Bette Midler:

    At his rally, #Trump complained about #Parasite winning the Oscar. I’m more upset that a parasite won the White House.

    Wajahat Ali:

    Gone with the Wind is a romanticized white wash of slavery and the antebellum South and the author Margaret Mitchell had tremendous “economic anxiety.” Of course Trump would prefer it over PARASITE, a brilliant movie commenting on classism and income inequality.

    About the response from Neon:

    Truly the most entertaining response to all the hubbub came from Parasite’s distributor, Neon, which decided the only way to answer ridicule was with a bit of ridicule in return: “Understandable, he can’t read.#Parasite #BestPicture”

    That was a reference to the subtitles that make the movie accessible to an English-speaking audience.

  116. says

    Followup to comment 160.

    From Wonkette:

    […] Guess which lunatic Fox just got put in charge of the Intelligence henhouse? Hooray, it is Devin Nunes’s lackey Kash Patel, who spent the past three years flogging the lie that the Intel Community made up the Russian interference story just to hurt Donald Trump. The president just promoted the guy who thinks the FBI and CIA lied about Russian hacking to cover up the fact that HILLARY CLINTON IS THE REAL COLLUSION to senior advisor at the Office of Director of National Intelligence. […]

    After shoving aside (acting) Director of National Intelligence Joe Maguire for the grievous sin of acknowledging Russian ratfucking, Trump named Ambassador to Germany Ric Grenell, a man with zero national security experience, as nominal (acting) DNI until he can pick a permanent successor. Grenell will retain his ambassadorship, and tend to the SEVENTEEN AGENCIES which constitute our the Intelligence Community in his spare time. But it’s okay, because that should leave him plenty of time to zero out any projects focusing on Russian interference with the 2020 election. And if there’s an issue with the time-zone or something, he’s always got Kash Patel to lean on.

    If the past three years have blurred together into one long nightmare for you, let’s review who Kash Patel is, shall we?

    As a Justice Department lawyer In 2016, Patel was issued a rare Order on Ineptitude — yes it’s really called that! — by a federal judge in Houston after he spectacularly botched the mundane task of ordering a transcript, and then showed up in casual clothes to defend his conduct in in court. And it was all downhill from there.

    Patel authored the famous Nunes Memo which proved Barack Obama weaponized the FBI against Carter Page to murder Donald Trump’s campaign. Just kidding, it proved fuck-all except that Nunes and Patel are hacks who’d burn down the entire Intelligence Community if they thought it would help Donald Trump get reelected.

    Patel, WHO IS A LAWYER, is also the whiny-ass little flopper who pretended that Rod Rosenstein had threatened to murder him with subpoenas after Rosenstein responded to Nunes’s threat to impeach him by reminding the chairman that Rosenstein would be able to defend himself in such an impeachment by subpoenaing the relevant emails. […]

    What our Kash lacked in actual knowledge, though, he made up for in the only currency that really matters in the current White House — the ability to tell Donald Trump what he wants to hear. And what Donald Trump wanted to hear was that, if he leaned on Ukraine hard enough, they would give up the goods on Joe Biden and damage the Democratic frontrunner for 2020. Call logs show that Patel was in contact with Rudy Giuliani in May, when he was traveling back and forth to Ukraine trying to gin up the Biden smear. And both Fiona Hill and Alexander Vindman testified that people in the West Wing were under the impression that Patel was the resident Ukraine expert. […]

    And now, Politico reports that the White House is shoving aside Deputy DNI Andrew Hallman, who has 30 years experience in the Intelligence Community, and replacing him with THIS DUMB FUCKING HACK. Because Hallman, who’s only been in that job for four months, is insufficiently loyal to the president. So when DEVIN FUCKING NUNES told President Putin Grabber that DNI Maguire had failed to suppress evidence of Russian preference for Donald Trump, Hallman’s head was second to roll after Maguire’s.

    So you’ll forgive me for being blunt here. But if you think that there is any Democrat in this race who is as bad as Trump and doesn’t deserve your vote in November, you are simply wrong.

    This is a crisis. And you need to put on your big girl panties and vote.

  117. says

    WaPo is reporting that the Kremlin is interfering in the campaign to help Bernie Sanders, and that Sanders was briefed on it a month ago. Sanders hinted during the debate that Russian trollbots might be getting involved online, but only in the context of rejecting the idea that many of his supporters viciously attack his critics and opponents. (It seems obvious to me that the Kremlin has been actively stirring up Sanders supporters, but they found fertile ground to till, including within Sanders’ campaign.)

    In contrast to Trump, Sanders plainly and explicitly rejected the Kremlin’s interference, but when asked why it’s coming out now, he said this:

    Sanders tells reporters he learned about Russian interference in his campaign about a month ago.

    But asked why it came out now, Sanders points to the fact that the NV caucuses are a day away. And adds sarcastically, “Washington Post? Good friends.”

    So that’s swell. I think the reasons the Kremlin would want to interfere on Sanders’ behalf should be obvious: many of his supporters are openly hostile to the Democratic Party and call for its destruction and basically burning down the US (see #130 above), he rails against the Democratic “establishment,” he consistently votes against Russian sanctions, and he downplays Russian sabotage unless it’s to sideline criticisms of his campaign. I do appreciate that he didn’t reject the intelligence briefing. I don’t know if the people who briefed him told him that he shouldn’t go public with this information, but more transparency and fewer conspiracy-theory attacks on the press would be helpful.

  118. says

    ProPublica – “Trump’s New Spy Chief Used to Work for a Foreign Politician the U.S. Accused of Corruption”:

    President Donald Trump’s new acting intelligence director, Richard Grenell, used to do consulting work on behalf of an Eastern European oligarch who is now a fugitive and was recently barred from entering the U.S. under anti-corruption sanctions imposed last month by the State Department.

    In 2016, Grenell wrote several articles defending the oligarch, a Moldovan politician named Vladimir Plahotniuc, but did not disclose that he was being paid, according to records and interviews. Grenell also did not register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which generally requires people to disclose work in the U.S. on behalf of foreign politicians.

    FARA is the same law that Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and former deputy campaign manager Rick Gates were convicted of violating. (Manafort went to trial. Gates pleaded guilty.)

    It’s not clear whether the articles were directly part of Grenell’s paid consulting work for Plahotniuc. Unpaid work could still require disclosures under FARA if it was directed by or primarily benefited a foreign politician, according to Matthew Sanderson, a lawyer at Caplin & Drysdale who advises people on complying with FARA. FARA contains several exemptions, such as for lawyers and businesses, Sanderson said, but none appear to apply to Grenell’s op-eds about Plahotniuc.

    “There is real reason to believe that Mr. Grenell should have registered here,” Sanderson said after ProPublica described the circumstances to him. “This is exactly the type of circumstances I’d expect the Department of Justice to investigate further.”

    Undisclosed work for a foreign politician would ordinarily pose a problem for anyone applying for a security clearance or a job in a U.S. intelligence agency because it could make the person susceptible to foreign influence or blackmail, according to the official policy from the office that Trump tapped Grenell to lead.

    “That’s really easy, he should not have a clearance,” said Kel McClanahan, a Washington-area lawyer specializing in security clearances. “If he were one of my clients and just a normal [federal employee], he would almost assuredly not have a clearance.”

    McClanahan said it’s unclear how Grenell could have already gotten a clearance as an ambassador. The House Oversight Committee is investigating whether the Trump administration has overruled career officials in granting security clearances to political appointees.

    As Trump’s pick for acting director of national intelligence, Grenell will have access to the country’s most sensitive secrets. Grenell isn’t subject to Senate confirmation because Trump appointed him on a temporary basis.

    Plahotniuc lost power in 2019 and fled Moldova. His current whereabouts are unknown. Last month, the State Department endorsed the corruption allegations against him, banning him and his family from entering the U.S.

    “In his official capacity, Plahotniuc was involved in corrupt acts that undermined the rule of law and severely compromised the independence of democratic institutions in Moldova,” the State Department said in its announcement. “Today’s action sends a strong signal the United States does not tolerate corruption and stands with the people of Moldova in their fight against it.”

  119. says

    Aaron Rupar in Vox – “Trump is making a mockery of Bill Barr”:

    Attorney General Bill Barr asked President Donald Trump to knock off his extremely public interference in the sentencing of his longtime buddy Roger Stone last Thursday — even though he took Trump’s hint and intervened to lower Stone’s sentencing recommendation. But in the eight days since Barr made his request, Trump has made a mockery of him.

    “I think it’s time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases,” Barr told ABC, in comments some took to be a rare rebuke of Trump from one of his top officials. “To have public statements and tweets about the department, about people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending in the department, and about judges before whom we have cases, make[s] it impossible for me to do my job and assure the courts and the prosecutors in the department that we’re doing our work with integrity.”

    Barr was purportedly so mad that unnamed administration officials leaked word to reporters earlier this week that he was considering resigning unless Trump stopped commenting on cases in a manner aimed at tipping the scales for his associates.

    But if anything, Trump has escalated his efforts to intervene in the workings of justice since Barr went on record asking him to stop. The president’s gripes have fallen into two buckets: complaining that Stone and other associates of his who have been convicted of crimes (such as Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn) have been treated unfairly, and calling for his perceived enemies to be dealt with more harshly.

    Barr has been very useful for Trump. But part of his usefulness hinges on maintaining the appearance that he’s not merely doing Trump’s bidding. Unless he follows through on his threat to resign, it’s hard not to conclude his comments to ABC were nothing more than an elaborate bit of public relations — especially considering Trump’s behavior since then.

  120. says

    Todd Rutherford, a Bloomberg surrogate, is calling the NDAs a red herring right now on CNN, saying Warren’s raising the issue an act of desperation, and calling on Warren to drop out. I’m so offended by this douchey campaign. Fuck you, Bloomberg.

  121. says

    BREAKING: #SCOTUS, voting 5-4, blocks another court injunction against enforcement of Trump ‘public charge’ policy limiting immigration benefits for those who might use govt benefits. This injunction was for Illinois only. Sotomayor pens 7-page dissent.”

  122. says

    Daniel Dale:

    Trump calls up Miracle on Ice hero Mike Eruzione, stopping himself while trying to say his last name.

    After Eruzione speaks, Trump says, “Just tell them: am I a good athlete and am I a good golfer?”

    Eruzione thinks a moment and says, “You are. Yes, sir. Whatever you say.”

    Trump is calling up a procession of Miracle on Ice team members, many of whom are wearing his red campaign hats. He then huddles with them, says they just said “four more years,” the says it should be “twelve more years.”

  123. says

    I urge everyone to watch clips like this. Watch the ranting, the weird voices, the impressions, the self-obsession, watch the real Trump, not teleprompter Trump. Watch how demented the most powerful man on earth is. Watch for yourself. And watch how many people are fine with it.”

    Video atl. I’m no expert, but I’ve noticed that Trump increasingly uses this weird way of speaking, and I believe it’s an attempt to hide his problems with language and cognition.

  124. says

    AP – “Greyhound to stop allowing immigration checks on buses”:

    Greyhound, the nation’s largest bus company, said Friday it will stop allowing Border Patrol agents without a warrant to board its buses to conduct routine immigration checks.

    The company’s announcement came one week after The Associated Press reported on a leaked Border Patrol memo confirming that agents can’t board private buses without the consent of the bus company. Greyhound had previously insisted that even though it didn’t like the immigration checks, it had no choice under federal law but to allow them.

    In an emailed statement, the company said it would notify the Department of Homeland Security that it does not consent to unwarranted searches on its buses or in areas of terminals that are not open to the public — such as company offices or any areas a person needs a ticket to access.

    Greyhound said it would provide its drivers and bus station employees updated training regarding the new policy, and that it would place stickers on all its buses clearly stating that it does not consent to the searches.

    Greyhound has faced pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union, immigrant rights activists and Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson to stop allowing sweeps on buses within 100 miles (160 kilometers) of an international border or coastline. In many cases, the buses being checked were not crossing or even approaching an international boundary.

    Critics say the practice is intimidating and discriminatory and has become more common under President Donald Trump. Border Patrol arrests videotaped by other passengers have sparked criticism, and Greyhound faces a lawsuit in California alleging that it violated consumer protection laws by facilitating raids.

    “We are pleased to see Greyhound clearly communicate that it does not consent to racial profiling and harassment on its buses,” Andrea Flores, deputy director of policy for the ACLU’s Equality Division, said in an email. “By protecting its customers and employees, Greyhound is sending a message that it prioritizes the communities it serves.”

    Ferguson said in an email his office will follow up with Greyhound to ensure compliance.

    “Today’s announcement from Greyhound confirms what should have been obvious to the company since I contacted them a year ago – it has both the power and the responsibility to stand up for its customers, who suffered for far too long from Greyhound’s indifference to CBP’s suspicionless bus raids and harassment,” he said.

    Some other bus companies, including Jefferson Lines, which operates in 14 states, and MTRWestern, which operates in the Pacific Northwest, have already taken similar steps to those announced by Greyhound. Flores said the ACLU would continue to push others to follow suit.

    Greyhound previously argued that case law, including a 1973 Supreme Court ruling, did not extend the Fourth Amendment’s protections to commercial carriers.

  125. says

    @ewarren told @mj_lee in a gaggle with reporters she has not been briefed by intelligence officials about Russian interference.

    Warren: ‘So, no we have not received such a briefing. I believe that we need as much transparency as possible on any Russian interference ..’

    @ewarren: ‘This is about disinformation. The way to fight disinformation is to call it out, show what it is and give everyone full information as quickly as possible. Otherwise, the Russians continue to have too much influence over our campaign &this is how we fight back’.”

  126. says

    Politico – “Court dumps Nunes’ suit against Trump dossier firm”:

    A federal judge has tossed out a racketeering lawsuit House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes filed last year against the private investigation firm at the heart of the Trump-Russia saga.

    Alexandria, Virginia-based U.S. District Court Judge Liam O’Grady’s two-page order made short work of Nunes’ suit, which sought $9.9 million in damages from Fusion GPS, its founder Glenn Simpson and a nonprofit watchdog group, Campaign for Accountability.

    The judge also signaled that pressing on with the legal battle could result in sanctions against Nunes and his attorney, Steven Biss.

    O’Grady said he’d allow a revised version of the suit to be re-filed within 30 days, but he said that should only happen if Nunes can craft a complaint that doesn’t violate a federal rule against court filings that are frivolous or unsupported by evidence….

  127. says

    Elie Mystal:

    7yo: I learned a new word, “excluded.”
    Me: Oh no, were you excluded?
    7yo: No.
    Me: Did you exclude somebody else?
    7yo: No.
    7yo: NOTHING! I just like learning new words!

    … Abort takeoff, BlackDad1, ABORT.

  128. says

    McKay Coppins:

    Twitter suspends 70 pro-Bloomberg accounts for violating “platform manipulation” rules. [LAT link atl]

    “The Bloomberg campaign has hired hundreds of temporary employees to pump out campaign messages through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These ‘deputy field organizers’ receive $2,500 per month to promote [Bloomberg] within their personal social circles”

    This is going to be a long, brutal year.

  129. tomh says

    Supreme Court removes last remaining obstacle to immigrant ‘wealth test
    By Robert Barnes
    Feb. 21, 2020

    The Supreme Court on Friday night removed the remaining obstacle to the Trump administration’s plan to implement new “wealth test” rules making it easier to deny immigrants residency or admission to the United States if they might depend on public-assistance programs.

    Although legal challenges will continue on the merits of the policy in lower courts, the justices voted 5 to 4 to remove the last remaining judicial order blocking the new standards from going into effect while those battles play out.

    A judge had blocked the administration from implementing the new standards in Illinois, and the Supreme Court’s decision dissolves that order. As is common in such emergency applications, the majority did not explain its reasoning.

    By the same 5-to-4 vote last month, the court had gotten rid of an injunction imposed by a judge in New York that blocked the changes elsewhere in the country.

    …Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the court was violating its own rules about when to step into the legal process.

    “It is hard to say what is more troubling: that the government would seek this extraordinary relief seemingly as a matter of course, or that the court would grant it,” Sotomayor wrote.

    The rules establish new criteria for who can be considered dependent on the U.S. government for benefits — “public charges,” in the words of the law — and thus ineligible for green cards and a path to U.S. citizenship. They were proposed to start in October but were delayed by the lower-court decisions.

    Under the new policy, immigrants would be suspect if they are in the United States legally and use public benefits — such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance — too often or are deemed likely to someday rely on them.

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Department of Homeland Security agency that processes green-card and citizenship applications, says on its website that it will implement the new public charge rule starting on Monday.

  130. says

    Charlie Pierce in Esquire – “A Brokered Democratic Convention Is Possible, So Here Are Some Parameters”:

    OK, since the members of the elite national political media seem obsessed with the possibility of a brokered Democratic National Convention next summer in Milwaukee—I think, given that eventuality, Chuck Todd may plotz, as William Jennings Bryan used to say—let’s establish a couple of basic, simple parameters.

    Parameter One: The rules are the rules. You all agreed to run as members of the Democratic Party and, as such, you all agreed to abide by the rules that party set down for nominating its candidate.

    Parameter Two: The number is 1,991. The number is not 34 percent of that, or 25 percent, or even 50 percent of that plus one. You need the votes of 1,991 delegates to become the party’s nominee. I am willing to concede that, if you come in with, say, 1,500 pledged delegates, the other candidates ought to feel duty bound to get out of your way. But here’s the thing: none of them have to, just as none of the candidates who have dropped out of the nominating process had to do so. And that means that, on a second ballot, the dreaded superdelegates have to come into play. Got a problem with any of that? Please consult Parameter One for details.

    In fact, this may not happen. In fact, it almost never does. But it’s best to be prepared for it. It is possible for a brokered convention to be a vigorous, hotly-contested business. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a bloodbath. If it is a bloodbath, that’s on the people who make it one….

  131. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    SC@187, The Harvard president just wants a university the hedge fund managers can be proud of.

  132. says

    A followup, of sorts, to tomh’s comment 195.

    From Jonathan Blitzer, writing for The New Yorker:

    One afternoon in November, a half-dozen government officials sat at a conference table in the White House, waiting for the arrival of Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to Donald Trump. Miller had summoned officials from the Departments of Homeland Security, State, and Justice to discuss a new Administration policy initiative: a series of agreements with the governments of Central America that would force asylum seekers to apply for protection in that region instead of in the United States. Miller, who had helped make the deals, wanted to know when their provisions could go into effect.

    Typically, everyone rises when top White House officials enter a room. But when Miller walked in, wearing a dark suit and an expression of wry resolve, everyone remained seated, their eyes cast down. “You go into meetings with Miller and try to get out with as little damage as possible,” a former Administration official told me. Miller has a habit of berating officials, especially lower-ranking ones, for an agency’s perceived failures. Chad Wolf, now the acting head of D.H.S., used to advise colleagues to placate Miller by picking one item from his long list of demands, and vowing to execute it. “It’s a war of attrition,” Wolf told them. “Maybe he forgets the rest for a while, and you buy yourself some time.”

    One participant in the November meeting pointed out that El Salvador didn’t have a functioning asylum system. “They don’t need a system,” Miller interrupted. He began speaking over people, asking questions, then cutting off the answers.

    As the meeting ended, Miller held up his hand to make a final comment. “I didn’t mean to come across as harsh,” he said. His voice dropped. “It’s just that this is all I care about. I don’t have a family. I don’t have anything else. This is my life.”

    […] Miller, who was a speechwriter during the campaign, is now Trump’s longest-serving senior aide. He is also an Internet meme, a public scourge, and a catch-all symbol of the racism and malice of the current government. In a cast of exceptionally polarizing officials, he has embraced the role of archvillain. […]

    Jeh Johnson, who headed the Department of Homeland Security under Barack Obama, told me, “D.H.S. was born of bipartisan parents in Congress, in the aftermath of 9/11, when there was support for a large Cabinet-level department to consolidate control of all the different ways someone can enter this country.” D.H.S. is the third-largest federal department, with a fifty-billion-dollar budget and a staff of some two hundred thousand employees, spanning the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. […]

    “The massive changes Miller engineered in border and immigration policy required that the policymaking process at D.H.S. be ignored,” Alan Bersin, a former senior department official, told me. “Who do you think has filled the vacuum?” Miller has cultivated lower-level officials in the department who answer directly to him, providing information, policy updates, and data, often behind the backs of their bosses. “ […] Miller is famously vindictive, and, as Trump runs for a second term, he is sure to grow only more powerful. “Miller doesn’t have to get Trump to believe everything he does,” one of the officials told me. “He just has to get Trump to say it all.” […]

    Miller’s obsession with restricting immigration and punishing immigrants has become the defining characteristic of the Trump White House, to the extent that campaigning and governing on the issue are no longer distinguishable. […] Trump has slashed the refugee program; virtually ended asylum at the southern border; and written a rule denying green cards to families who might receive public benefits. Miller has choreographed these initiatives […]

    After graduation, in 2008, he was offered a job as press secretary for Michele Bachmann, a Republican representative from Minnesota, who gained national attention after an undocumented immigrant near her district crashed her car into a school bus, killing four children. Miller pushed Bachmann to go on television. On Fox News, she described the tragedy as an example of “anarchy versus the rule of law,” and, in a later campaign stop, blamed immigrants for “bringing in diseases, bringing in drugs, bringing in violence.” The following fall, after Bachmann was reëlected, Miller left his post, and took a communications job in the office of Jeff Sessions, of Alabama, then the Senate’s staunchest opponent of immigration.

    […] Sessions introduced Miller to such think tanks as NumbersUSA and the Center for Immigration Studies, which produced data-laden reports on the societal costs of immigration. Soon Miller was attending weekly meetings at the Heritage Foundation, the conservative-policy institute, with a small group of congressional staff. […]

    In the spring of 2013, a bipartisan group of senators known as the Gang of Eight […] proposed a bill that would have made changes to the immigration system while creating a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented people. The legislation was widely embraced in the Senate, but it was premised on a compromise that repulsed Sessions: legalization in exchange for increased border-security measures. Or, as he saw it, amnesty for nothing.

    At meetings throughout the spring and summer of 2013, Republican staffers debated the terms of a possible bill. When […] Miller was there to “take the information, punch it up, and make it into an attack,” according to a senior Republican Senate aide. “It was sending a signal to Senate Republicans to stay away from the bill, or to give them heartburn over it. And it was a kind of Bat-Signal to the House Republicans.”

    Steve Bannon, then the head of Breitbart News, compared the work that Sessions and Miller were doing to stop the bill to “the civil-rights movement in the nineteen-sixties,” and he began communicating regularly with Miller, who sent the Web site ideas and details for immigration stories. […]

    Opponents of the bill began to feel more confident. “Miller played a pretty substantial role” in “bruising” the legislation, […]. The immigration bill had already passed the Senate, but the Speaker of the House, a Republican, never brought it to the floor for a vote. […]

    Miller pointed out the many loopholes in immigration laws, […] “He was unimpressed by the promises of more border-patrol agents, or a trillion dollars for a virtual wall. People were taking advantage of the laws, not just of a porous border.”

    In January, 2015, […] Miller and Sessions published a rebuttal to the Party’s 2012 postmortem, called “Immigration Handbook for the New Republican Majority.” They wrote, “On no issue is there a greater separation between the everyday citizen and the political elite than on the issue of immigration.”

    Five months later, Trump declared his candidacy […]. Bannon, who was advising Trump, had also persuaded Corey Lewandowski, […] to promote Miller to the position of speechwriter. “You just can’t wing it. Immigration is too important,” he recalled saying. “You need policy people on this.” […]

    In August, 2016, at a rally in Phoenix, Trump delivered a policy speech on immigration, written by Miller. It was typically raucous and aggressive, full of racist fearmongering, but it also contained a detailed blueprint. “Our immigration system is worse than anyone realizes,” Trump began. “Countless Americans who have died in recent years would be alive today if not for the open-border policies of this Administration.” […] Miller told the Washington Post that it was “as though everything that I felt at the deepest levels of my heart were now being expressed by a candidate for our nation’s highest office.” […]

    After Trump won the election, “Miller didn’t even flirt with an agency or nomination position,” a White House official told me. “He wanted to know what White House adviser position had the most say on immigration.” He asked to head the Domestic Policy Council, an influential but amorphous group inside the White House. The position gave him proximity to the President and insulation from congressional scrutiny; […] “The rest of us have to testify before Congress. That’s a check. If you’re going to have your ass hauled before Congress, you’re not going to feel comfortable breaking the law,” a former top Administration official told me. “Miller will never have to testify for anything.”

    […] In the days leading up to Trump’s Inauguration, Miller and a close associate named Gene Hamilton, another former Sessions staffer in his mid-thirties, drafted an executive order called “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States”—the travel ban.

    When Trump signed it, none of the top officials at the Department of Homeland Security, which was in charge of enforcing the ban, had been notified in advance. Travellers with valid visas were suddenly trapped at American airports, unable to enter the country; refugees who, after years of waiting, had been vetted and approved for entry were turned back. Thousands of protesters and civil-rights attorneys began congregating at airports across the country, and Senators Graham and McCain issued a statement saying that “we should not turn our backs on those refugees who . . . pose no demonstrable threat to our nation, and who have suffered unspeakable horrors.” Jared Kushner, the President’s son-in-law and senior adviser, was enraged. The next day, when the President’s senior staff assembled in the Situation Room, Miller told John Kelly, the head of D.H.S.; Tom Bossert, the President’s homeland-security adviser; and officials from the State Department, “This is the new world order. You need to get on board,” […]

    The ban was immediately challenged in federal court; it took eighteen months, and three versions of the order, before it passed legal muster. Instead of censuring Miller, Trump blamed the courts and lawyers at the Justice Department, […]

    Miller wasn’t so much channelling Trump as overtaking him. Inside the White House, […]

    Since Trump could rarely comprehend the full substance of his own Administration’s agenda on immigration, it fell to Miller to define what victory looked like. […]

    Miller invoked the President constantly, especially when he encountered resistance from other officials. One of them told me, “Someone would say to him, ‘Stephen, what you’re trying to do is not possible.’ And his response would be ‘It is possible. I spoke to the President an hour ago, and he said it had to be done.’ ” […]

    “Miller made clear to us that, if you start to treat children badly enough, you’ll be able to convince other parents to stop trying to come with theirs.” […] they also composed a letter, signed by Attorney General Sessions, articulating a policy, called zero tolerance, for prosecuting all adults who were arrested by D.H.S. for illegal entry.

    Sessions announced the new policy at a gathering of law-enforcement officials in Arizona, saying that if parents were caught “smuggling” their children into the country they’d be separated from them and treated as criminals. The head of Customs and Border Protection, Kevin McAleenan, and the head of ice, Tom Homan, signed off on zero tolerance, as did Nielsen. Miller, however, forced the policy into action before D.H.S. was ready to implement it. […] In an ice detention center in El Paso, groups of separated mothers secretly exchanged information in the cafeteria to compile lists of their missing children and smuggle out requests to local lawyers for help.

    Hundreds of parents were deported without their children. […]

    Because Miller had inserted himself into D.H.S.’s policymaking process, officials felt obliged to shield their work from him. At one point, to keep Miller from discovering the details of a policy discussion, the head of D.H.S. held meetings in a classified security bunker, known as a scif, where cell phones are prohibited and strict rules of confidentiality are in effect. Convinced that a cabal of deep-state actors was trying to thwart Trump’s agenda, Miller had effectively forced officials to go underground in their own agencies. […]

    Increasingly, Miller lashed out at high-level D.H.S. officials […]

    For months, Cissna had been working on the Administration’s most significant attempt to overhaul the legal-immigration system: the “public-charge rule,” which would allow the government to block millions of people—disproportionately, immigrants from Latin America, Africa, and Asia—from getting green cards based on their income. It typically takes two years to fully implement a rule, but Miller wanted it done more quickly. […]

    “I won’t stand down,” Miller shouted. “I won’t stand down. I won’t stand down.” […]

    “Then we’d get the phone call again, and the proposal would be slightly different. We’d say, ‘You still can’t do that.’ They’d come back to us again. Finally, sure, it was lawful, but it was also stupid.” […]

    By the end of November, Miller was back in the news, though not by choice. The Southern Poverty Law Center acquired and published hundreds of e-mails that Miller had exchanged, between 2015 and 2016, with editors at Breitbart. They included links to articles on the white-supremacist Web site vdare, as well as an enthusiastic reference to “The Camp of Saints,” a racist French novel about the ravages of immigration. In one e-mail, Miller approvingly forwarded an article arguing that the U.S. should deport immigrants on trains “to scare out the people who want to undo our country.” In Congress, there were calls for his resignation, but only from Democrats. […]

    In May, […] Trump announced the broad contours of Kushner’s “merit-based” immigration plan, in which applicants would be evaluated based not on family ties, as in the current system, but on a combination of factors, including language skills, education, and employment prospects. […]

    “Miller is focussed on one thing. He and Kushner make situational alliances. They both think the President needs the other, and they each believe in the other’s absolute loyalty to Trump. In all my time around them, I have never heard either one of them say a negative word about the other, and that’s not true of anyone else.” […]

    With the border virtually sealed, Miller is turning his attention inward. D.H.S. has begun sending armed agents from Border Patrol swat teams to New York, Chicago, and other so-called sanctuary cities, where local law enforcement has limited its coöperation with ice. “There’s no one left at D.H.S. to say ‘No’ to Miller anymore,” a senior department official told me. Another official was present at a meeting in which Miller advocated allowing ice officers to pull children out of school.

    This summer, […] the Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether the Administration can cancel daca. […] If the Supreme Court ends daca, then “Miller will be in ecstasy. He’ll finally have the leverage over the Democratic Congress that he’s been dying to have this entire time. He’ll say, ‘Well, you’re all worried we’re going to deport them. What will you agree to?’ ” The official continued, “It’ll be the summer of a huge campaign, and Miller will be in his glory.”


    Much more at the link.

  133. says

    Update to #133: “BIG news: Since we first announced our goal to raise $7 million before the Nevada caucuses, we’ve raised more than $14 million—double our goal.

    Thank you to every #WarrenDonor who pitched in to help build our campaign. Let’s keep going!”

  134. says

    SC @ 196, Charlie Pierce is reasonably and practical. I think the fear of a brokered convention may be overblown.

    Still, I worry that a candidate like Bloomberg will try to buy the delegates he needs at a brokered convention.

    Also, it seems to me that Bernie Sanders is already priming his followers to insist that the rules NOT be followed. That’s dangerous. The Russians are bound to back him up on that really strongly.

  135. says

    Okay … here we go. Grenell is going to be perhaps worse than we expected. (And we knew he was bad news.)

    New acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell has already asked for access to information about Russian interference in the 2020 election from intelligence agencies under his watch,[…]

    As overseer of the nation’s constituent 17 intelligence agencies, Grenell has oversight authority and the ability to access whatever information he wants. The job in part demands that he then brief the President.

    Grenell also installed a deputy, Kash Patel, a former aide to Re. Devin Nunes (R-CA) with a history spreading conspiracy theories favored by the President. Patel wrote a 2018 memo baselessly accusing the Justice Department of abusing its powers to spy on the Trump campaign.

    Grenell’s appointment and installation of Patel has stoked fears that he will use the role to run intelligence gathered by the government through a political filter.

    Trump allegedly picked Grenell to replace his predecessor Joseph Maguire after a subordinate of Maguire’s told House lawmakers in a briefing that Russia was supporting the President in his 2020 reelection bid.

    The New York Times’s report suggests that Grenell has requested the intelligence underpinning the briefing, given to the House Intelligence Committee. […]

    TPM link

  136. says

    Fighting back … successfully … at least for now.

    The town of McFarland sits in the Central Valley of California, and agricultural hamlet of some 15,000 where as many as half are both undocumented and long-time residents. This town, undocumented and citizens alike, just came together to reject the takeover of two state prisons by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Maribel Ramirez, an undocumented vineyard worker who has lived in McFarland for 20 years with her husband and family, helped lead the fight when a private prison corporation wanted to contract its facilities, which were just outlawed by California, to ICE for immigrant detention. […]

    Losing the private prisons is an economic blow to the town, Mayor Manuel Cantu said. “Without GEO [the private prison corporation], we can’t guarantee we can pay for law enforcement, fire or any other services.” But if ICE had contracted with GEO, the town could have lost upwards of half its population, fleeing the threat of ICE.

    Now that’s being between a rock and a hard place. ICE control is worse than having a private prison in your community.

    More than 1,000 city residents including undocumented people signed cards that a grassroots group, which included Ramirez, organized to voice its opposition to ICE. They showed up at Tuesday’s commission meeting where Estevan Davalos, a long-term and undocumented resident of McFarland, testified: “You can find other options, but don’t bring ICE. In the long term, the McFarland community will suffer.”[…]

    As many as 300 people showed up at Tuesday’s planning commission hearing to protest outside, chanting “No ICE! No GEO! We’re farmworkers, not delinquents” in Spanish. […]

    Mayor Cantu resigned his position on Wednesday after the planning commission’s decision. The company could appeal to the City Council, but residents will continue the fight.


    Note the grassroots nature of the fight against ICE, (and against the Trump administration), as well as the bravery of undocumented immigrants.

  137. says

    Rush Limbaugh’s new conspiracy theory is basically this: Democrats set up George W. Bush to go to war with Iraq, and those same Democrats are now organizing a “silent coup” against Trump, with special emphasis on the “Russia hoax,” the “Ukraine hoax,” etc.

    Now you don’t have to listen to Limbaugh’s convoluted and quite long explanation.

    Here’s the meat, directly from Limbaugh:

    I have seen what this bunch of people in the intelligence community are capable of. What they’ve tried with Trump here, this whole Russia meddling, Trump colluding? This whole thing is a gigantic lie, a totally bogus hoax, a silent coup. That’s when I began to think the weapons of mass destruction thing was a setup against Bush, too.


  138. says

    Trump is obsessed with preventing the publication of Bolton’s book.

    […] Trump wants the White House to do everything in its power to prevent John Bolton’s highly anticipated book from seeing the light of day. At least until the November election. Sources tell the Washington Post that Trump has been directly involved in the process of reviewing the book by his former national security adviser, insisting that everything he said to Bolton while they were both working at the White House should be considered classified. […]

    […] the president seems decidedly obsessed and frequently brings up the book with aides. Trump isn’t being subtle about his dislike for his former aide, going as far as to call him a “traitor” during an off-the-record lunch with national television anchors earlier this month. “We’re going to try and block the publication of the book,” Trump reportedly said at the lunch. “After I leave office, he can do this. But not in the White House.” The president seems quite angry at Bolton, claiming that he turned on him and is “just making things up.”

    The book is scheduled for release March 17 and all this talk about it is only likely to increase sales. But Bolton and his publisher would be taking a big risk if they went ahead with publication without approval from the National Security Council. Doing so could even open Bolton up to the possibility of a criminal investigation. […]”


    A criminal investigation? Bill Barr enters stage right …

  139. says

    From William H. McRaven, a retired Navy admiral:

    […] the president chose Maguire [as director of national intelligence, after Maguire had suggested that Sue Gordon was better suited to the job]. And, like most of these good men and women, he came in with the intent to do his very best, to follow the rules, to follow the law and to follow what was morally right. Within a few weeks of taking the assignment, he found himself embroiled in the Ukraine whistleblower case. Joe told the White House that, if asked, he would testify, and he would tell the truth. He did. In short order, he earned the respect of the entire intelligence community. They knew a good man was at the helm. A man they could count on, a man who would back them, a man whose integrity was more important than his future employment.

    But, of course, in this administration, good men and women don’t last long. Joe was dismissed for doing his job: overseeing the dissemination of intelligence to elected officials who needed that information to do their jobs.

    As Americans, we should be frightened — deeply afraid for the future of the nation. When good men and women can’t speak the truth, when facts are inconvenient, when integrity and character no longer matter, when presidential ego and self-preservation are more important than national security — then there is nothing left to stop the triumph of evil.

    Washington Post link

  140. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 187

    Those Marxist PC thought police who run academia, denying freedom of inquiry and censoring opposing ide… HEY wait a minute!!!

  141. says

    So far Bernie Sanders is leading in the Nevada Democratic caucuses.

    Some pundits are being quite grim about this situation:

    James Carville, who said he was “scared to death” of “communist” Sanders becoming the Democratic nominee, is having quite a night as the senator sweeps in more and more votes.

    “This thing is going very well for Vladimir Putin, I promise you,” Carville fumed on MSNBC. “He’s probably staying up watching this right now. How are ya doing, Vlad?”

  142. says

    Nevada update: CNN now has a tally of 143 of the 2096 Nevada precincts based on “spotters” it has scattered around the state. The “reallocated preference” percentages have moved, but the order of the double digit candidates is the same. A blowout for 1. Sanders, followed by 2. Biden 3. Buttigieg 4. Warren. The other candidates are in single digits.

  143. says

    In the category of Bloomberg’s past coming back to haunt him, a newly rediscovered video shows Bloomberg taking the stance the USA has to deny the elderly care, but only in some instances (some of which may make sense), or go “bankrupt.”

    MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: If you’re bleeding we have to stop the bleeding. If you need an X-ray, you’ll have to wait. All of these costs keep going up. Nobody wants to pay any more money, and at the rate we are going, healthcare is going to bankrupt us. So not only do we have a problem, so we gotta sit here and say which things we’re gonna do, and which things we’re not. Nobody wants to do that. […] If you show up with prostate cancer, you’re 95 years old. We should say “Go and enjoy, have a nice one, you’ve lived a long life. There’s no cure. We can’t do anything.” A young person we should do something about. Society is not willing to do that yet. So we’re gonna go bankrupt.

    Commentary from Walter Einenkel:

    […] most scientific estimates say that around 20% of ALL men older than 65 years old will develop prostate cancer. If you are lucky enough to live to be 95 years of age, there’s a good chance you’ve had prostate cancer already or will be getting it. If you are healthy enough at 95 years old for a doctor to tell you they can treat your prostate cancer, good on you. If you are 95 and you receive a breast cancer diagnosis, the same thing applies. The fact of the matter is that most people at that age are not going to be moved through loads of chemotherapy. But the idea that our high healthcare costs are simply the result of nonagenarians receiving tons of cancer treatments is bullshit.

    Another point to make here is that if billionaire Michael Bloomberg lives to be 95, I will bet you all of Michael Bloomberg’s money that Michael Bloomberg won’t be hearing, or expecting to hear, a doctor or a fucking mayor tell him to, “Go and enjoy, have a nice one, you’ve lived a long life. There’s no cure. We can’t do anything.” If that day comes, prostate cancer research will receive the largest single donation in the history of cancer research, and Michael Bloomberg will be receiving experimental treatments in space.


  144. says

    Somebody warn the grizzly bears in Alaska:

    Donald Trump Jr. has received one of 27 slots for non-residents to be allowed to hunt a grizzly bear in northwestern Alaska. The president’s son was one of three people who applied for the 27 slots for non-residents. The state carries out regular drawings to hunt various animals, including caribou and moose. Usually the competition is stiff, but Trump Jr. didn’t have much competition this time since so many slots went unfilled.

    In order to carry out the hunt, Trump must pay a $1,000 non-resident fee as well as a $160 hunting license. […]

    Slate link

  145. says

    Rod Blagojevich, one of the criminals recently pardoned by Trump, was interviewed by Anderson Cooper. Blagojevich tried to spread some disinformation, but Cooper called bullshit on that.

    CNN’s Anderson Cooper eviscerated former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich during an interview in which the now-free politician described himself as a “political prisoner” with a straight face. Blagojevich went on CNN on his third full day of freedom after his sentence was commuted by […] Trump. The former governor had served eight years of a 14-year-sentence for corruption.

    During the interview, Blagojevich pushed back against those who had criticized his commutation. “I don’t think they’ve looked carefully because I am a political prisoner,” he said. “I was put into prison for practicing politics.” Cooper seemingly couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Wait a minute. You’re a political prisoner?” Cooper asked. “Nelson Mandela was a political prisoner. Political prisoners have no undue process and are unjustly jailed, you had a jury convict you.” Blagojevich refused to back down from his assertion. “I bet if you were to ask Nelson Mandela whether he thought the process was fair back in the early ‘60s in South Africa, he would say what I’m saying today.”

    Blagojevich went on to blame “a handful of corrupt prosecutors” for his conviction. “They’re uncontrolled and they’re the ones Chief Justice Breyer talked about when he said our country is in trouble because of these uncontrolled prosecutors.” Cooper then seemed to really lose his patience when Blagojevich asked Cooper to join him “in the fight to reform our criminal justice system.” The CNN anchor said it was “a little ironic and frankly a little sad and pathetic and hypocritical” that Blagojevich was talking about reforming the justice system when he didn’t do anything about it when he actually had power. Blagojevich then proceeded to defend himself by saying that he didn’t realize “how corrupt the criminal justice system was” until he was personally affected.

    Cooper really seemed to be really tired of Blagojevich’s defense. “You got out, you do have an obligation to at least admit what you did wrong and you refuse to do that and you’re creating a whole new alternate universe of facts and that may be big in politics today but it’s still frankly just bullshit,” Cooper said. Blagojevich stammered a response: “Well, no, it’s not bullshit. I lived it myself. It’s not bullshit at all.” […]

    Slate link

    Video snippets available at the link.

  146. says

    The Associated Press has called the Nevada caucus results, with Bernie Sanders as the winner. Pete Buttigieg and/or Biden look to be in second place. Results are still coming in.

    As of now:
    13 delegates to Sanders (36 Nevada delegates are available)

    Sanders has more than triple the number of delegates of other candidates, (except Buttigieg), if you add up Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada … so far.

    Buttigieg did not get much African American support in Nevada, 2%.

    Sanders even got union members to vote for him, and that was after the Culinary Union had warned members about Medicare for All. 25% of the caucus voters in Nevada were union members. Sanders got 34 percent of that union vote, Biden got 19 percent, Buttigieg got 15 percent, and Warren got 11 percent.

    More results later.

  147. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ Lyanan and SC

    Yes, I’m sure that Bernie’s potential win offends you the same way that any opposition to St. Hillary, patron saint of the holy center, did: Sen. Sanders lacks the sacred cunt that St. Clinton the capitalist whore did.

    Spare me the pod-people-esque screams of ”sexism” and ”misogyny, ” because I realize that my socialist socio-economic position will help women’s equality far more than even dentist Liz’s ”saving capitalism” bullshit ever will.

    In short, fuck the anti-Sanders curators of this forum until they die.

  148. lotharloo says

    Typical Clinton loyalist scum writes for CNN that Bloomberg must take down Sanders fast:

    If Bloomberg has any chance of winning the nomination, he has to redirect his resources during the primary and run ads against Sanders — not Trump.
    Bloomberg needs to use the next $400 million in ad spending to attack Sanders on his potential weaknesses in a general election and highlight how far left his campaign is. Hitting him on his past record on guns is a must.
    Bloomberg also needs to drive home the fact that very little of what Sanders has proposed has any chance of being implemented without serious challenges and major compromises, as even, for example, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez admitted on Medicare for All.
    Sanders’ praise of Soviet-backed regimes is ripe for political attack ads — and if Bloomberg doesn’t take advantage of this, Trump certainly will in the fall. Finally, Sanders’ legislative record of achievements is lacking, and the difficulty he faces in garnering support among both Democratic or Republican lawmakers can be highlighted.

    Bloomberg has a narrow window of time to shift his strategy. As Tim Miller, who served as Jeb Bush’s communications director in 2016 wrote in The Bulwark, a big lesson from 2016 is “attack the freaking front-runner for God’s sake … If Mike’s goal is to actually beat Bernie — and not just finish Super Tuesday with a gentleman’s 18 percent and embark on a long, losing slog in the hopes something crazy happens — then his paid media needs to shift to targeting Bernie immediately. Let me emphasize this: Immediately, today, five minutes ago, the fork NOW.”

    There is no mention of even one policy here.

  149. Pierce R. Butler says

    Lynna @ # 217, quoting Blagojevich: … Chief Justice Breyer …

    I don’t have time to dig around for the purported quote, to see if it came – if it exists at all – from Associate Justice Breyer or some actual Chief Justice, but the sloppiness with facts (and the apparent failure of Cooper to note the error) is quintessentially 2020.

    What undeserved position will Trump™ appoint Blagojevich to?

  150. says

    Trump’s comments about the Nevada primary:

    […] Trump congratulated Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Sunday for his projected win in the Nevada caucuses.

    While speaking to reporters outside the White House before departing for India Sunday, Trump said he thinks “it was a great win for Bernie Sanders.”

    “We’ll see how it all turns out. They’ve got a lot of winning to do,” Trump said. “I hope they treat him fairly.”

    Trump added that he doesn’t care who he runs against but that he hopes the election won’t be a “rigged deal.” […]

    Pro-Bernie tweet from Trump:

    Looks like Crazy Bernie is doing well in the Great State of Nevada. Biden & the rest look weak, & no way Mini Mike can restart his campaign after the worst debate performance in the history of Presidential Debates. Congratulations Bernie, & don’t let them take it away from you!

  151. says

    This is weird…and unbelievable: White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien claims that he has not seen anything from the intelligence community showing that Russia aimed/aims to help Trump.

    […] When pressed by ABC News’ George Stephanopolous on whether he has seen analysis from the intelligence community showing that Russia aimed to help Trump, O’Brien replied that he has “not seen that” despite getting “pretty good access.”

    “The national security adviser gets pretty good access to our intelligence. I haven’t seen any intelligence that Russia is doing anything to attempt to get President Trump reelected,” O’Brien said. “I think this is the same old story that we’ve heard before.”

    O’Brien added that although he’s seen reports of intelligence officials warning House lawmakers of Russian interference during a classified briefing earlier this month, he said that he wasn’t there and that he’s “seen no intelligence that suggests that.”

    “I’ve also heard that from the briefers that that’s not what they intended the story to be,” O’Brien said. “So, look, who knows what happened over at the House and the Intelligence Committee, but I haven’t seen any evidence that Russia is doing anything to attempt to get President Trump reelected.”

    After calling reports of the briefing a “non-story,” Stephanopolous asked O’Brien whether he’s seen any analysis that one of Russia’s aims is to favor Trump.

    “No, I haven’t seen any intelligence on that, George,” O’Brien said. “And I haven’t seen any analysis on that. The only thing I’ve seen were the press reports on this House intel briefing, which are secondhand. I don’t know if they were leaked out or how the papers got those. So, so that’s the only thing I’ve seen.”

    When Stephanopoulos pointed out at the end of the interview that O’Brien has a responsibility to find out as the national security adviser, O’Brien insisted that the reports are just “leaks, ” before being asked if he sought out analysis from the intelligence community.

    “Look, I want to get whatever analysis they’ve got and I want to make sure that the analysis is solid,” O’Brien said. “From what I’ve heard, again, this is only what I’ve seen in the press, it doesn’t make any sense.” […]

    TPM link

    O’Brien appeared on other Sunday shows to make the same unbelievable claim.

    From the readers comments:

    Notice how O’Brien doesn’t deny that the evidence and analysis exists. He just says he personally hasn’t seen it (his intentional ignorance probably being why he was chosen to make the Sunday show rounds). We can just call him Trump’s Ostrich.
    Seems hard to reconcile “the information isn’t there” with “they leaked the information”.
    “I’ve also heard that from the briefers that that’s not what they intended the story to be,” O’Brien said. “So, look, who knows what happened over at the House and the Intelligence Committee, but I haven’t seen any evidence that Russia is doing anything to attempt to get President Trump reelected.” [Big lies, unadulterated gaslighting]
    In other words O’Brien is saying – People have already been fired because they said this stuff out loud – do I look like I’m stupid enough to say this stuff out loud and get fired too?
    As always, they claim the information to be false AND that it was leaked. Hard to reconcile those two assertions unless one is schizophrenic. Shouldn’t the media ask how both can be true simultaneously?
    O’Brien is saying he took the time to track down and talk to the briefers, but he couldn’t be bothered to look at their evidence and analysis
    It’s the Barr school of lying. Interpret the question so literally and narrowly that you can deny anything
    “I haven’t seen any intelligence showing Russia supports Trump because I’ve made it crystal clear that anyone who so much as mentions that intelligence, much less shows it to me, will immediately be fired “

  152. says

    Followup to comment 222.

    Analysis and comments from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, preceded, for context, with Trump’s comments:

    […] Speaking with reporters outside the White House earlier that day, Trump brought up how he was never told about an intelligence briefing Sanders received about Moscow’s efforts to assist his candidacy in the Democratic primary. Sanders acknowledged that he’d received a briefing just a day after The Washington Post and New York Times reported that intel officials told House lawmakers that Russia developed a preference for Trump in 2020.

    “I read where Russia is helping Bernie Sanders. Nobody said it to me at all. Nobody briefed that to me at all,” Trump said, suggesting that “Schiff and his group leaked it to the papers. They ought to investigate Schiff for leaking that information.

    [Schiff commented]:

    Nice deflection, Mr. President. But your false claims fool no one.

    You welcomed Russian help in 2016, tried to coerce Ukraine’s help in 2019, and won’t protect our elections in 2020.

    Now you fired your intel chief for briefing Congress about it.

    You’ve betrayed America. Again.



  153. says

    Pete Buttigieg gives advice to a 9-year-old boy who asks for help coming out as gay.

    The moment is good, and the advice is good. However, some of the comments on the thread are terrible. Here are some examples:

    Hasn’t even hit puberty yet but he knows he’s a homosexual…right. Probably the result of at-home and at-school indoctrination.
    Yep, a child crisis actor in training.
    Child abuse! He hasn’t even hit puberty yet- WTH!!

  154. says

    New nationwide polling results:

    […] Bernie Sanders led with 28 percent followed by Elizabeth Warren with 19 percent [Warren rose to second place], Joe Biden with 17 percent and Michael Bloomberg with 13 percent. Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar rounded out the field with 10 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

    Fifty percent of respondents said they found Warren the most impressive candidate at last week’s debate in Las Vegas, where she took aim at Bloomberg’s history of sexist remarks […]

  155. says

    About Elizabeth Warren’s plan for the cannabis industry:

    Warren rolled out a plan Sunday for a “just and equitable cannabis industry,” aimed at not only legalizing recreational marijuana but also putting regulations in place so that tax revenue from subsequent cannabis sales benefits communities of color unfairly targeted by old marijuana laws.

    “Legalizing marijuana gives us an opportunity to repair some of the damage caused by our current criminal justice system, to invest in the communities that have suffered the most harm, and to ensure that everyone can participate in the growing cannabis industry,” Warren stated in the plan. “We have an opportunity now to get this right, and I’ll fight to make that happen.” […]

    “Legalizing marijuana is about more than just allowing recreational use, or the potential medicinal benefit, or the money that can be made from this new market,” Warren wrote. “It’s about undoing a century of racist policy that disproportionately targeted Black and Latino communities. It’s about rebuilding the communities that have suffered the most harm. And it’s about ensuring that everyone has access to the opportunities that the new cannabis market provides.”

    Under her plan, Warren vowed to use presidential executive authority if Congress refused to take action to legalize marijuana. She also said she would advocate for immigrants with nonviolent drug offenses — such as marijuana possession — to be protected from deportation and still be eligible for a pathway to citizenship.

    Drawing from several of her other plans, Warren said she would fight to make sure communities of color were included in a burgeoning cannabis industry by strengthening collective bargaining laws, ensuring entrepreneurs of color have equal access to the banking system and establishing a fund to support women- and minority-owned cannabis businesses.

    “Some research has shown that today, less than a fifth of the people involved at an ownership or stake-holder level in the cannabis industry are people of color, while black people made up less than 5 percent,” Warren wrote. “We cannot allow affluent and predominantly white hedge-funders and capital investors to hoard the profits from the same behavior that led to the incarceration of generations of Black and Latino youth.” […]

    Washington Post link

  156. says

    Nevada update:

    Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won a resounding victory at the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, putting together a coalition of young people, Latinos and working-class voters to cement his status as front-runner in the race for the Democratic nomination. […]

    Sanders has invested heavily in outreach to racial minorities and he’s accumulated a diverse team of dynamic surrogates.

    Those efforts are paying off in 2020, as Sanders has built a coalition of Latinos, young people, and union members, who drove him to a huge victory in Nevada, the most diverse state to vote so far.

    With 60 percent of precincts reporting, Sanders stood at 46 percent support, followed by former Vice President Joe Biden at 19.6, former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 15.3, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 10.1.

    While former Vice President Joe Biden has enjoyed strong support from black voters, there are growing signs that many African Americans are giving Sanders a serious look. An NBC News-Wall Street Journal survey released this week found Sanders and Biden in a statistical tie nationally among black voters.

    That’s a huge development as the contest turns to South Carolina, where more than half of the Democratic primary electorate is black. […]


  157. says

    Trump is in India.

    When American presidents travel abroad, foreign officials have, for many years, made every effort to impress the Leader of the Free World. In many instances, this led foreign governments to try to arrange substantive policy breakthroughs important to the U.S. chief executive. In other cases, officials have arranged carefully planned visits to sites of cultural and historical significance. Some presidents like to deliver remarks to local students or conduct interviews with foreign journalists.

    But with Donald Trump, those usual efforts won’t work […] doesn’t have much of an interest in policy, culture, or history. And with this in mind, the New York Times reported on India’s approach to making the current American president happy.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India opted to appeal to Mr. Trump’s first love — crowd size — as he stages a rally of more than 100,000 people in Ahmedabad on Monday after a drive in from the airport along roads where perhaps 100,000 more will line the motorcade route. The president will almost certainly not be greeted by the 10 million people he expects, but it will look like an enormous crowd nonetheless and, the Indians hope, satisfy his need for affirmation.

    It’s worth pausing to appreciate how truly pitiful this makes Trump sound. There appears to be an international understanding that the current American president cares about spectacle and celebrations of himself, and so foreign officials have learned to appeal to his narcissism.

    Julianne Smith, the director of the Asia program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, told the Times, “World leaders have learned to shorten or scrap the historical tours, remove local delicacies from the menu and focus on one thing only: feeding his ego.”

    But just as important is the fact that this recipe for success, while seemingly patronizing to an adult, is surprisingly effective. As the Times’ report added, Trump boasted to reporters last week, in reference to Modi’s assurances, “He told me we’ll have 7 million people between the airport and the event.” A couple of days later, Trump told supporters, “I hear they’re going to have 10 million people.”

    Yesterday, the Republican continued to marvel at the “millions and millions” of people who would see him. “Some people say the biggest event they’ve ever had in India,” Trump told reporters. “Some people say the biggest event they’ve ever had in India. That’s what the Prime Minister told me. This will be the biggest event they’ve ever had. So it’s going to be very exciting.” […]

    “Local officials estimate that it will be more like 100,000, making Mr. Trump off by only 99 percent,” the report added. […]


  158. says

    Judge Schools Stone While Shooting Down His Request To Get Her Kicked Off His Case

    […] On Sunday night, [Judge Amy] Berman Jackson flatly rejected Stone’s request that she recuse herself because she had said the jurors in the case had served “with integrity,” which Stone claimed indicated bias against him.

    First, the judge pointed out in the six-page filing, her “very general comment” about the jurors was not in response to Stone’s allegations of bias of one of the jurors.

    Berman Jackson also said that she had not made the comment outside the courtroom and that her making the observation Stone objected to was a standard component of her duty as a judge.

    “In other words, judges cannot be ‘biased’ and need not be disqualified if the views they express are based on what they learned while doing the job they were appointed to do,” she wrote.

    Finally, Berman Jackson dinged Stone for making the request simply because he wanted to make a story out of it to further portray himself as a victim of an unfair and partisan-driven trial, as he and […] Trump have claimed.

    “At bottom, given the absence of any factual or legal support for the motion for
    disqualification, the pleading appears to be nothing more than an attempt to use the Court’s docket to disseminate a statement for public consumption that has the words ‘judge’ and ‘biased in it,” Berman concluded.


  159. says

    Pundits keep saying the Democratic primary looks just like the GOP’s in 2016. They’re wrong.

    Graphs, charts, and details at the link.

    […] The latest conventional wisdom is that the Democratic primary is playing out just like the 2016 GOP primary did, with the anti-establishment candidate—Donald Trump/Bernie Sanders—running away with the whole thing while his competitors are powerless to stop him. It’s totally possible, and even probable at this point, that Sanders ultimately will win the Democratic nomination, but below are two graphs that show the Democratic primary looks nothing like the Republican primary in 2016.

    The ‘16 GOP primary was marked mostly by a relatively steady rise for Trump as a bunch of alternative candidates spiked and then flamed out, never to be heard from again. […] Trump actually hit 30% by the end of August (a benchmark Sanders is still working to top in late February). […]

    Then there’s the 2020 Democratic primary to date, which typically isn’t marked by the giant spikes/nosedives of the GOP primary. The trajectory for Democrats is much longer and steadier for most of the candidates, especially the top four, for most of the race: Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg. Overall, it suggests a less volatile race with more candidate loyalty in general. Things are certainly starting to move more now that actual voting has begun, but overall, no one has caught fire and then flamed out within a 2-to-4-week time span, […]

    The current Democratic primary isn’t actually behaving that much like the GOP’s ‘16 primary, so it’s worth taking everything the pundits say right now with a grain of salt—especially when they’re all saying the same exact thing. That’s always a cause for concern.

  160. says

    Rightwing doofuses have a new weapon, or so they think … and it’s a teenage girl. The rightwing’s anti-Greta Thunberg missile is Naomi Seibt, a blonde, 19-year-old German girl.

    Over the last few years, teen climate activist Greta Thunberg has been a thorn in the Right’s side, so much so that many of them have spent a weird amount of time bullying the 17-year-old autistic Swedish girl for rudely trying to save the planet. This includes the current President of the United States. They have insisted that she is actually an actress hired to pretend to be a teenager who cares about climate change. Meatloaf said she was “brainwashed.” The Federalist even accused her of witchcraft!

    But the climate-change-denying Heartland Institute came up with a plan! They went and got their very own fugazi Greta Thunberg — Naomi Seibt, […] who wants you to “think” about how she probably knows more about climate science than actual climate scientists, and then go along with her when she says man-made CO2 emissions are not having that much of an impact on climate change.

    Pretty much all of Seibt’s videos are framed as her versus Greta Thunberg, and yet she demands to know, in the description of one of them, if she is really the anti-Greta that the media wants [her] to be.

    […] if I were her, and did not want people to compare me to Greta Thunberg, I would not produce endless videos about myself and Greta Thunberg, nor work for a think tank that made videos of me and Greta Thunberg that look like an advertisement for children’s pro-wrestling.

    Then again, not being a scientist, I also would not produce many YouTube videos about how I am right and all of the scientists are wrong.

    Via the Post:

    Naomi said she does not dispute that greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet, but she argues that many scientists and activists have overstated their impact.

    “I don’t want to get people to stop believing in man-made climate change, not at all,” she said. “Are man-made CO2 emissions having that much impact on the climate? I think that’s ridiculous to believe.

    Oh does she? Does she just like being wrong about things? Apparently!

    “Naomi argues that other factors, such as solar energy, play a role — though the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth has actually declined since the 1970s, according to federal measurements. A slew of peer-reviewed reports, from scientific bodies in the U.S. and elsewhere, have concluded that greenhouse gas emissions are the dominant cause of warming since the mid-20th century, producing a range of devastating effects from massive marine die-offs in South America to severe wildfires in Australia and sinking ground in the Arctic.” […]

    Does the Heartland Institute actually think Greta Thunberg is mostly popular is merely because she is a blonde teenager from Europe? […] People are not going to go “Oh wait! Greta Thunberg says that destroying the planet is bad, but this other blonde teenager from Europe says it’s not actually a problem! How do we decide who is right? This is quite a pickle!”

    The reason Greta Thunberg is popular is because she is doing a lot of good work on an issue people already care a lot about. It would not have the same effect if she were campaigning for a more effective dishwashing detergent. Thunberg isn’t just making YouTube videos, she’s organizing weekly student-led protests, she’s asking people to do more so that the planet remains livable […]

    It’s just not as compelling to beg people to do nothing, just in case it doesn’t actually matter.


    More at the link.

  161. says

    Turning the purpose of White House’s national security team on its head

    The National Security Council that’s supposed to be steering Donald Trump is instead being steered.

    Last fall, after Donald Trump had gone through three White House national security advisers in 32 months, the president told reporters that a great many people were clamoring for the position.

    “It’s a great job,” the president said. “It’s great because it’s a lot of fun to work with Donald Trump. And it’s very easy, actually, to work with me. You know why it’s easy? Because I make all the decisions. They don’t have to work.”

    Even for Trump, it was a deeply strange comment. As we discussed at the time, the national security adviser — technically, the assistant to the president for national security affairs (APNSA) — is responsible for coordinating the White House policy process on matters related to national security and international affairs. The person in the job has a considerable reach, involving the White House National Security Council and a variety of departments and agencies across the executive branch. But as far as Trump is concerned, the person can just sit back and do nothing, while the president who doesn’t read intelligence briefings and ignores national security experts does the heavy lifting.

    The New Yorker’s Susan Glasser raised an important point along these lines in September: “[John] Bolton’s exit serves as a reminder that the intensive national-security decision-making process of previous presidents, Republican and Democrat alike, has been abandoned by Trump, subverted to the presidential ego, and will not return for the duration of his tenure.”

    Six months later, the evidence to bolster the point is overwhelming. The New York Times reported over the weekend:

    When President Trump’s national security adviser, Robert C. O’Brien, convenes meetings with top National Security Council officials at the White House, he sometimes opens by distributing printouts of Mr. Trump’s latest tweets on the subject at hand. The gesture amounts to an implicit challenge for those present. Their job is to find ways of justifying, enacting or explaining Mr. Trump’s policy, not to advise the president on what it should be.



    For the better part of the last century, the White House National Security Council existed to offer presidents advice and information. In the Trump era, the model has been flipped: Robert O’Brien tells NSC members what the president already believes and directs them to offer support for the decisions on which Trump has already settled.

    Under any administration, this would be a recipe for disastrous policymaking, but it’s worth pausing from time to time to appreciate why this is a uniquely dangerous governing dynamic right now: Donald Trump doesn’t know anything about national security policy. We are, after all, talking about the nation’s first amateur president, who, in the recent past, was a television personality and notorious conspiracy theorist.

  162. says

    A followup, of sorts, to comment 232.

    Some conservatives are feeding, nurturing, Trump’s paranoia about the so-called “deep state.”

    […] Conservative activists led by Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, have been fanning the flames of his conspiracy-fueled paranoia by offering him lists of disloyal officials and their optimal replacements, according to reporting from Axios and CNN.

    One of those memos alleged misdeeds committed by former U.S. Attorney Jesse Liu in her handling of the Roger Stone case, among others. Last month, her Treasury Department nomination was unceremoniously rescinded and she left the government.

    Though Trump is now giving the suggestions a harder look, the proffering from Thomas’s group, Groundswell, is nothing new, and has been going on for the last 18 months, according to Axios.

    The group huddles in the D.C. offices of Judicial Watch every Wednesday, notching its greatest victory when it led to the ousting of former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. The group collects names and passes them to Thomas, the conduit to the President.

    Thomas and a phalanx of right-wing activists met with Trump in person last January, making the case that White House aides were keeping Trump loyalists from getting administration jobs. Time was also devoted to bashing transgender people and declarations woman should not serve in the military, per the New York Times. […]

    Her Facebook page is a melting pot of rightwing conspiracy theories and she has gotten in good with Fox News personalities and other prominent MAGA-land figures.


    From the readers comments section:

    What amazes me is how short-sighted it all is. The more lickspittles they hire, the less their agenda advances, since the sycophants have trouble accomplishing anything. Yes, occasionally it’s a Machiavellian plot to destroy government from the inside […] More often they’re just idiots, gravitating to fellow idiots
    The new originalist and strict constructionist position: the founding fathers and framers of the Constitution would not want people in government who seek to uphold the Constitution and rule of law.
    Every time I see Ginni Thomas I think about Miles Davis’ album back cover for Live Evil.
    I’m not sure how the party of McCarthyism lurched into the party of all things Russian loving. It takes some doing to be consistently dead wrong, for completely opposite reasons over decades.

  163. says

    Harvey Weinstein trial verdict: Guilty on two charges, acquitted on others […]

    Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of sexual assault in a New York court Monday, the first conviction to emerge from the dozens of misconduct allegations against the once-powerful movie producer.

    The jury determined that Weinstein forced a sex act on former production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his apartment in July 2006 and raped former aspiring actress Jessica Mann at a hotel in 2013.

    He was found not guilty of the most severe charge, predatory sexual assault, which would have acknowledged a pattern that included forcing sex on actress Annabella Sciorra in 1993 or 1994 and would have carried a sentence of 10 years to life in prison.

    The top conviction count could yield up to 25 years in prison.

    Weinstein’s lawyers argued at trial that all sexual activity with the accusers was consensual.

    Washington Post link

  164. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @234:

    Weinstein’s lawyers argued at trial that all sexual activity with the accusers was consensual.

    Of course it was! He consented, and that is all that matters. (I just threw up in my mouth.)
    Naturally, being a rich white privileged fuckhead, he will appeal the convictions.

  165. F.O. says

    My brother sent me a pic of empty food shelves in supermarkets in Milano.
    What was the quote about civilization being two meals away from barbarism?
    The coronavirus outbreak is (apparently and surprisingly) being managed well by the authorities, but people are panicking.

  166. says

    F.O. @236, thanks for that additional information. Apparently, the USA stock market is also panicking a bit.

    In other news, Justice Department unease with Attorney General Barr goes beyond the Roger Stone case.

    […] Barr’s strategy of cultivating a close relationship with Trump has worn thin among many rank and file Justice Department employees, and given rise to suspicions that the attorney general has put the President’s political interests above those of the department, according to multiple DOJ officials.

    Yeah, I have more than “suspicions.” I’m sure.

    Last week, that problem sprung to life in stunning fashion. Barr’s decision to overrule the sentencing recommendation from four career federal prosecutors in the Roger Stone case, and their subsequent resignation from the case, led to a rare public display of internal discord from the Justice Department that dominated the news cycle for days.

    It’s not unusual for top Justice officials to overrule career lawyers in sentencing decisions, but the department’s move to publicly disavow the prosecutors — via an unnamed Justice official who told Fox News and other news media before the attorneys were even notified — was a sharp rebuke that offended career employees who worry Barr is under undue political influence from the President.

    The public disunity was again on display Thursday at Stone’s sentencing hearing, when prosecutor John Crabb Jr., the prosecutor left to handle the case, appeared to buck his bosses and sided with his colleagues’ original, stiff sentencing request.

    […] While Barr’s issues have only recently spilled into the open, the disquiet in the ranks started much earlier, officials inside the department say. Among some of the issues: a top-down management style, with the micro-managing Barr notorious for weighing in on matters usually left for less-senior officials, and a focus that broadly appears more centered on matters in Washington — and more specifically things the President cares about.

    Current and former Justice officials describe an attorney general who doesn’t readily take advice and is prone to right wing conspiracies that he reads in fringe conservative sites on the Internet. […]

    CNN link

    More at the link.

  167. says

    Some bits and pieces of campaign news, posted by Steve Benen:

    Michael Bloomberg was supposed to participate tonight in a town-hall event on CNN, but the former mayor postponed the gathering in order to focus entirely on debate prep. The next primary debate is tomorrow night, and Bloomberg, a week after a widely panned performance, will be one of seven candidates on the stage.

    * On a related note, California billionaire Tom Steyer, making his first bid for elected office, has also qualified to participate in tomorrow night’s debate, thanks to two strong polls out of South Carolina. As things stand, Tulsi Gabbard will be the only remaining Democratic candidate who will not be on the debate stage.

    * Self-help guru Marianne Williamson endorsed Sanders’ campaign yesterday. She’s the second former presidential hopeful to back the Vermont senator, following a similar announcement from Bill de Blasio nine days ago.

    If Amy Klobuchar is going to win any Super Tuesday contest, it’s going to be in her own home state: A new Minnesota Public Radio/Star Tribune poll found the Democratic senator leading Sanders in the Great Lakes State 29% to 23%. Elizabeth Warren is third in the poll with 11%.

  168. says

    Followup to comment 236.

    Global markets fall sharply as virus cases spread past Asia

    The viral outbreak threatens to crimp global economic growth and hurt profits and revenue for a wide range of businesses.

    U.S. stocks fell sharply in early trading Monday, following a broad sell-off in overseas markets, as a surge in virus cases and a worrisome spread of the disease outside the epicenter in China sent investors running for safety.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 840 points, or 2.9%, to 28,146 and gave up all of its gains for the year. The S&P 500 index skidded 2.7% and gave up most of its gains for 2020. The Nasdaq fell 3.2%.

    More than 79,000 people worldwide have been infected by the new coronavirus. China, where the virus originated, still has the majority of cases and deaths. But, the rapid spread to other countries is raising anxiety about the threat the outbreak poses to the global economy.

    South Korea is now on its highest alert for infectious diseases after cases there spiked. Italy reported a sharp rise in cases and a dozen towns in the northern part of that country are under quarantine. The nation now has the biggest outbreak in Europe, prompting officials to cancel Venice’s famed Carnival, along with soccer matches and other public gatherings.

    Germany’s DAX slid 4% and Italy’s benchmark index dropped 5.6%. South Korea’s Kospi shed 3.8% and markets in Asia fell broadly.

    Investors looking for safe harbors bid up prices for U.S. government bonds and gold. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell sharply, to 1.38% from 1.47% late Friday. Gold prices jumped 1.8%.

    “Stock markets around the world are beginning to price in what bond markets have been telling us for weeks – that global growth is likely to be impacted in a meaningful way due to fears of the coronavirus,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance.

    The viral outbreak threatens to crimp global economic growth and hurt profits and revenue for a wide range of businesses. Companies from technology giant Apple to athletic gear maker Nike have already warned about a hit to their bottom lines. Airlines and other companies that depend on travelers are facing pain from cancelled plans and shuttered locations.

    Crude oil prices plunged 4.6%. Aside from air travel, the virus poses an economic threat to global shipping.

    Technology companies were among the worst hit by the sell-off. Apple, which depends on China for a lot of business, slid 3.6%. Microsoft slumped 3.2%. […]

  169. says

    This is bad news. Good news for the Trump administration, but bad news for reproductive rights for women in the U.S.

    A federal appeals court sided with the Trump administration on Monday in declining to block a rule that restricts what federally funded family planning providers can tell patients about abortion.

    The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the plaintiffs in the case, including several states, Planned Parenthood and Essential Access Health, would not succeed because the rule is a “reasonable interpretation” of the law.

    With four judges dissenting, the court let stand its earlier decision to overturn injunctions on the rule issued by lower courts.

    The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued rules last year banning recipients of Title X federal family planning funding, like Planned Parenthood, from referring women for abortions.

    It also bans providers from being co-located or financially associated with abortion providers, a provision both sides say is a shot at Planned Parenthood, which had served 40 percent of Title X patients before it exited the program in protest of the rules.

    Several states and organizations sued, and lower courts issued preliminary injunctions, blocking the administration from implementing the rules.

    But a panel of the 9th Circuit reversed those injunctions last summer. The full 9th Circuit agreed to reconsider the decision but stood by the court’s initial ruling on Monday.

    Julie Rabinovitz, president of Essential Access Health, the largest Title X grantee in California, said Monday it is reviewing the decision and discussing the next steps.

    “Despite today’s ruling, the facts remain the same – the Trump regulations are unlawful and harmful and put politics over public health,” she said in a statement.


  170. says

    Trump and his lickspittles are lying about removing Joseph Maguire from his post in National Intelligence:

    The talking point […] Trump and top administration officials are using to explain the abrupt dismissal of acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire — namely, that his dismissal was required by law — doesn’t add up.

    Maguire was dismissed last week following a classified briefing to the House Intelligence Committee on February 13 in which one of his staffers, Shelby Pierson, reportedly told members of Congress that Russia is already interfering in the 2020 election, and again has “developed a preference” for Trump.

    Trump […] responded the next day by unloading on Maguire during an Oval Office meeting in which the president expressed concern that “Democrats would use the information against him,” according to NBC.

    A Trump loyalist with scant intelligence community qualifications, US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, was announced as Maguire’s replacement last Wednesday. […]

    During an interview on ABC’s This Week, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien claimed Maguire had to go because he couldn’t serve as acting director of national intelligence past March 11 due to the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, a law governing acting appointments.

    […] “We needed a Senate-confirmed official to come in and replace him. And so we went with a highly qualified person, Ambassador Grenell.” […]

    O’Brien’s talking point was echoed on Meet the Press by Marc Short, chief of staff for Vice President Mike Pence, who also insisted Maguire’s dismissal had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the fact he couldn’t stay in his role longer due to the Vacancies Act.

    It is not the case, however, that Maguire couldn’t have served past March 11.

    Eric Columbus, a former Obama administration Justice Department official, told Vox that Maguire could’ve stayed on as acting director of national intelligence indefinitely had Trump nominated someone to become Senate-confirmed before March 11.

    […] Maguire was confirmed by the Senate in December 2018 for a role as director of the National Counterterrorism Center, which means the concern O’Brien expressed about finding “someone who was Senate-confirmed under the Vacancy Act” wasn’t an issue in his case.

    Also, if the Trump administration is really concerned about the March 11 cutoff, then appointing Grenell to the acting role won’t address it, as he now faces the same deadline that Maguire did before his dismissal. (The Trump administration has already announced that Grenell won’t be nominated for the role.)

    […] Trump pushed the same unsound explanation.

    “His time came up. I think it was March 11 — his time comes up. He ran out of time,” Trump said. “So he had to leave on March 11.” […]


    Trump is lying.

  171. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @237:

    Yeah, I have more than “suspicions.” I’m sure.

    Exactly my thought before I got to that line in your post.
    re Lynna @241:

    Trump is lying.

    SOP. If he is breathing, he is lying.

  172. says

    OMG, this is an amazing report from Wonkette writer, Liz Dye. A rightwing Senate Judiciary Committee staffer Barbara Ledeen played a major role in getting US Attorney Jessie Liu fired. Furthermore, Ledeen worked with Ginni Thomas (see comment 233) to commit other bad deeds. To complete the picture of widely inappropriate political action on the taxpayers’ dime, Barbara Ledeen was a fan of former NSA Michael Flynn—so much so that she helped Flynn try to get copies of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

    It’s a big, messy swamp. More details below.

    Let’s talk about Senate Judiciary Committee staffer Barbara Ledeen and her unrelenting assault on the rule of law in this country. Axios reported yesterday that Ledeen is part of Ginni Thomas’s coven […] It also claims the conservative activist personally authored a hit-piece on a US Attorney for DC urging the president to fire her for failing to launch un-predicated, political prosecutions of Trump’s enemies. And Ledeen did it all from her perch as a congressional staffer, paid by American taxpayers, and given access to classified US intel materials. […]

    When Barbara Ledeen, an ardent anti-feminism activist, met Michael Ledeen, a warmongering neo-con […], it was love at first sight. Probably. The couple are longtime allies of former NSA Michael Flynn, and the two men actually wrote a book together in 2016 on the “war” with “radical Islam.” As confirmed in the Mueller Report, Barbara Ledeen and Flynn wandered into the Dark Web in 2016 to see if they could get their hands on Hillary Clinton’s emails, a field trip underwritten by mercenary merchant Erik Prince. […]

    Ledeen was furious when Flynn was indicted, and got caught sending unsolicited emails to Flynn’s prior, competent legal team attempting to coordinate his defense with Nunes’s Hannity appearances. […]

    Suffice it to say Barbara Ledeen was not happy with then-US Attorney Jessie Liu for allowing the Flynn prosecution to proceed after Mueller closed up shop. […] when rumors began to surface that she’d authored a memo for the White House advocating for Liu’s dismissal, Ledeen denied it outright, telling the Washington Post, “I’m a Senate staffer. I can’t lobby either the Senate or the White House. I’m kind of amazed my name came up in this. Somebody likes to throw around my name.”


    It’s wildly inappropriate for a Senate staffer to undermine a federal criminal prosecution, and that hardly stopped her. Axios confirms that Ledeen did indeed write the hit memo that appears to have finally gotten Liu fired from the US Attorney’s Office and her nomination to a position at the Treasury Department yanked. […]

    In Ledeen’s hit memo that got Jessie Liu fired, the following Liu transgressions were listed:

    Liu did not act on criminal referrals of some of Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s accusers. (They wanted to prosecute Kavanaugh’s accusers!)

    Liu committed a sin in the eyes of rightwing fanatics by signing “the sentencing filing asking for jail time” for Gen. Michael Flynn

    In the eyes of Ledeen and other rightwing fanatics, Liu also committed a sin by holding a leadership role in a women’s lawyers networking group that Ledeen criticized as “pro-choice and anti-Alito.” (OMFG.)

    Also, Liu did not indict former deputy director of the FBI Andrew McCabe.

    And lastly, Liu dismissed charges against “violent inauguration protesters who plotted to disrupt the inauguration.” (Again, OMFG.)

    More details from the Wonkette article:

    That’s right, Liu, a career government attorney, lost her job because some wack-ass Judiciary staffer is still pissed about the Kavanaugh hearings […] and can’t understand why the DOJ didn’t indict Christine Blasey Ford. [among other things!]

    Ledeen is NOT a lawyer.

    […] she appears to have engineered the dismissal of a government lawyer who simply refused to break the law and indict Trump’s political enemies without evidence. Indeed, Liu tried mightily to get an indictment of McCabe, and it’s pretty clear the grand jury refused to do it. And that never happens. The case was weak shit from the jump, Liu dragged it out for two years to mollify the president’s bloodlust (and shield documents from discovery and FOIA in McCabe’s wrongful termination suit), and then it fell apart because there was nothing there.

    As for the inauguration protestoes, the DC US Attorney’s Office only dropped the remaining 129 cases after the first two trials resulted in zero convictions for the ten defendants. It’s not clear what Ledeen thinks Liu should have done, short of fabricating evidence against the protestoes. And yet, the White House found her logic sufficiently convincing that they fired Liu.

    It is inexpressible how dangerous this is. Because, say what you will about Jeff Sessions, but he knew you weren’t supposed to use the Justice Department to settle political scores. Even Matthew “Meatball” Whitaker, the interim Attorney General, refused to interfere in the Mueller investigation or to try to screw with individual prosecutions. But now Bill Barr’s parked his haunches atop the DOJ, and all bets are off. No reputable attorney general would have ever allowed a Senate staffer to put out a hit on a US Attorney for following the law before. But post-impeachment, the guardrails are off.

    Malicious, politically motivated prosecutions violate both the law and legal ethics. But every US Attorney in the country is now on notice that they fail to indict the president’s enemies at their own peril.



  173. tomh says

    Here’s a vaccine that no one will refuse.

    Experimental coronavirus vaccine to be tested on humans

    The vaccine that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and drugmaker Moderna have been developing to combat the coronavirus is ready to be tested on humans, NIAID director Anthony Fauci told the Wall Street Journal.

    The rapidly developed vaccine will be tested on 20–25 healthy volunteers in April to determine whether two doses will be safe and generate an immune response to protect against infection. Results will be available in July or August, Fauci told WSJ.

    The timing of the drug’s development and expected clinical trial is extraordinary. “Going into a Phase One trial within three months of getting the sequence is unquestionably the world indoor record,” Fauci said. “Nothing has ever gone that fast.”

    A successful trial would also be followed by further studies and regulatory hurdles, Fauci said, meaning a coronavirus vaccine would not be ready for widespread distribution until at least next year.

  174. microraptor says

    Looks like it’s since been taken down but Mike Bloomberg’s campaign twitter account put out a homophobic joke about Bernie Sanders today.

  175. Akira MacKenzie says

    When it comes down to Democratic candidates I’m primarily backing Bernie and Liz. Bernie slightly more so than Liz because Bernie’s healthcare plan is more generous (I really need some dental work folks) and he’s not afraid of the dreaded ”S” word unlike Liz who insists she try to save the indefensible (I.e. capitalism).

    When Liz finds her spine and realizes that free enterprise, like religion, needs to be banned, then I’ll probably be more enthusiastic.

  176. Akira MacKenzie says

    (Reading today’s headlines.)

    Oh! Bernie visited Soviet Bloc countries during the Cold War and had nice things to say about countries who had the spine to actually do something about cancer that is capitalism. Boo-hoo-hoo! Those millions of dead monarchs, aristocrats, priests, rich fucks, and their middle/lower class toadies who got what was coming to them. Boo-fucking-hoo!

  177. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @243:

    I’m a Senate staffer. I can’t lobby either the Senate or the White House. I’m kind of amazed my name came up in this. Somebody likes to throw around my name.

    It would be a major accomplishment if we could find one person that is part of the most corrupt administration in history that doesn’t lie about practically everything.

  178. Pierce R. Butler says

    Yesterday and so far today, none of the articles linked here from, nor the home page for same, has been accessible to me due to –

    Corrupted Content Error

    The site at has experienced a network protocol violation that cannot be repaired.”

    Looks like purely coincidental hostile action to me (but I’m no Ranum). Anybody else getting through?

  179. johnson catman says

    Pierce R. Butler @249: That link works for me for their home page, and the links for the stories on the home page work also. The links in the previous posts directly to the stories work for me as well. You have apparently been targeted by the administration for your past comments.

  180. says

    You can’t trust what Trump says about the coronavirus:

    About a month ago, […] Trump promoted a curious report about the coronavirus. Pointing to an article on a right-wing website, the president signaled to the public that Johnson & Johnson was in the process of creating a coronavirus vaccine.

    And while that certainly sounded encouraging, it wasn’t quite right. While Johnson & Johnson is one of several companies that are working on a possible vaccine, human trials are nowhere close.

    This morning, Trump told reporters in India, “[W]e are very close to a vaccine,” only to have White House officials clarify soon after that he wasn’t talking about the coronavirus. At the same press conference, Trump insisted that the United States is “probably” down to 10 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, which was also wrong. (Just last week, the Trump administration brought 14 coronavirus-infected Americans to U.S. soil, despite objections from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)

    It’s against this backdrop that Vox’s Matt Yglesias noted that this seems like a good time to question Team Trump’s competence when it comes to dealing with the virus outbreak.

    The Covid-19 outbreak … is a reminder that it remains a scary world and that the American government deals with a lot of important, complicated challenges that aren’t particularly ideological in nature. And we have no reason to believe the current president is up to the job. Trump not only hasn’t personally involved himself in the details of coronavirus response (apparently too busy pardoning former Celebrity Apprentice guests), he also hasn’t designated anyone to be in charge.

    […] On the show last night, Rachel Maddow highlighted this Foreign Policy piece from a month ago, which said the United States “has never been less prepared for a pandemic.” The article added:

    In May 2018, Trump ordered the [National Security Council’s] entire global health security unit shut down, calling for reassignment of Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer and dissolution of his team inside the agency. The month before, then-White House National Security Advisor John Bolton pressured Ziemer’s DHS counterpart, Tom Bossert, to resign along with his team. Neither the NSC nor DHS epidemic teams have been replaced. The global health section of the CDC was so drastically cut in 2018 that much of its staff was laid off and the number of countries it was working in was reduced from 49 to merely 10. […]

    A New York Times report added, “Democrats … have expressed concerns about the administration’s ability to respond if there were a severe coronavirus outbreak in the United States, noting that a global health security expert position on the National Security Council has been left vacant for almost two years.” […]


  181. says

    Oh, FFS. Another “L’etat, C’est Moi” moment.

    […] Trump wants America to know that his plans to remove government officials deemed insufficiently loyal to him is actually for the country’s own good.

    When a reporter asked Trump about the purge during a press conference in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, the President initially downplayed the number of people he felt deserved to be kicked out.

    “I don’t think it’s a big problem,” Trump said. “I don’t think it’s very many people.”

    He brought up the “very sad situation” with the “fake” whistleblower who reported Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which exposed Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine and led to his impeachment.

    Trump indicated that the point of planned expulsions is to prevent future whistleblowers.

    “We want to have people that are good for the country, are loyal to our country because that was a disgraceful situation,” he said.

    Axios reported last Friday that Johnny McEntee, Trump’s former body man who now leads Trump’s presidential personnel office, instructed agencies to root out officials who appeared to be “anti-Trump.” Axios later reported on Sunday that the White House had been compiling a list over the past 18 months that consisted of officials to be removed. […]


  182. says

    Trump wants Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor to recuse themselves from cases related to him and/or to his policies.

    […] Trump made the demand via Twitter on Monday night after learning about Sotomayor’s accusation that the Supreme Court has allowed Trump to use it to boost his agenda.

    “This is a terrible thing to say,” Trump tweeted. “Trying to ‘shame’ some into voting her way? She never criticized Justice Ginsberg when she called me a ‘faker.’”

    “Both should recuse themselves on all Trump, or Trump related, matters!” he continued.

    He doubled down on his demand during a press conference on Tuesday in New Delhi, India.

    “I just don’t know how they cannot recuse themselves for anything having to do with Trump or Trump-related,” he told reporters. “The right thing to do is that.”

    He accused Sotomayor of “trying to shame people with perhaps a different view into voting her way,” and he complained that Ginsburg had apologized “in a very minor form” for her comment in 2016.

    In her fiery dissent against the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Trump administration’s “public charge” restriction on immigration last week, Sotomayor jabbed at the conservative majority for granting Trump’s demands for stays on cases on his policies while denying stay applications for non-Trump cases.

    “I fear that this disparity in treatment erodes the fair and balanced decision making process that this Court must strive to protect,” she wrote.

    After Ginsburg had made the remark about Trump being a “faker” in 2016, she later said her comment was “ill-advised” and that she would be “more circumspect” in the future. […]


    From readers comments:

    Apparently 5-4 is not good enough any more for our discount-aisle Mussolini.
    Perhaps now would be a good time to talk about Ginni Thomas’ husband. Read today’s NYT piece on her meddling in WH personnel.
    mark my words – he’s setting the stage for refusing to abide by any SC decision, and will justify this by accusing the court of being rigged.
    But having the wife of Justice Thomas as part of the advisory group guiding the purge is perfectly all right. No conflict there.
    He argued without evidence that “virtually everybody” agrees Sotomayor’s dissent was “really highly inappropriate.”

    But Stephen I. Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, called attention to the pattern of behavior that Sotomayor was criticizing in a November 2019 paper in the Harvard Law Review 3. He found that Trump’s solicitor general sought emergency stays in 20 cases in the first two-and-a-half years of Trump’s term, including six to stop nationwide injunctions against Trump’s travel ban and three involving the transgender military ban.
    He must be expecting a 5-4 decision against him, which means he thinks that Roberts will actually vote to support the rule of law, at least in this case.

  183. Pierce R. Butler says

    Nerd of Redhead @ # 250 & johnson catman @ # 251 – Hrrmmm. Thanks.

    johnson catman @ # 251: You have apparently been targeted by the administration for your past comments.

    Except I’ve never commented at, and I don’t think they’re quite so fastidious as to zap me for my FtB ravings.

    My problem seems browser-specific: Firefox hits the error message, but Safari sails right through.

  184. says

    Okay, no. I don’t think we should just “get over it.”

    Diana Taylor, longtime partner of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, advised those bothered by his nondisclosure agreements to “get over it.”

    “It was 30 years ago,” she added in an interview with CBS News.

    Taylor has been romantically linked to Bloomberg since 2000 and has held many high-profile jobs in the private and public sector.

    “I grew up in that world. It was a bro culture,” she said, concerning the unsavory comments Bloomberg made that prompted the NDAs. “We have come a very, very long way and Michael Bloomberg has been at the forefront of that change.” […]

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) hammered Bloomberg about the NDAs at the Nevada debate, pressing him to release his former employees from them right there on stage. He declined, saying that all he did was tell a few “jokes.” The response elicited boos from the debate audience.

    The pressure grew so great that Bloomberg bowed a few days later, agreeing to release three women who’d signed NDAs about his personal comments from their contracts. He also swore to stop using NDAs at his company, and to install other structural reforms like family leave and equal pay.


    From the readers comments:

    “Get over it” is a phrase that basically means “you are right of course, but I got away with it so stop talking about morality when it is power that counts.”
    “He also swore to stop using NDAs at his company, and to install other structural reforms like family leave and equal pay.”

    Those reforms should have already been in place, but it’s good to see the pressure applied by Warren and others having an impact and forcing change.
    Those women lost money, promotions, time, careers, and getting to go to work in exchange for money in some gdn peace!

    These are our lives! Nice of you not to give any fks. Women are the majority in the Democratic Party.

  185. says

    Trump Re-Election Year CPAC Is A Fever Swamp-Filled, Star-Studded Coup-A-Palooza!

    The conservative movement fully belongs to […] Trump, and nowhere is that more evident than the absolutely bonkers agenda for CPAC — the Conservative Political Action Conference.

    The annual affair for Washington’s elite now also represents the choleric mud puddle at the heart of the right-wing fever swamp. And the theme of this year’s tribute to the President is clear: The libs staged a “coup” by investigating Our President! We need a do-over term in 2021!

    […] Thursday’s schedule features the full-length production of “FBI Lovebirds“ [….]

    A live read of the text message chain between former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page […] The performance, apparently the first play in CPAC’s history, will be followed by a Catholic mass and a film about the patent system.

    […] Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page is a “Hero of Activism,” according to his Wednesday, 5:50 p.m. speaking slot. Attendees are encouraged to “Meet the person the Deep State spied on in their attempt to topple President Trump.”

    The next morning at 7:55 a.m., WABC’s John Batchelor delivers the first of CPAC’s six-part — six-part! — series of panels on the “Coup.” […]

    Then, like a knock-off Disney+ franchise, the coups continue: “The Coup: Rosenstein & Comey — The Empire Strikes Back,” “The Coup: Impeachment — Hyped Slimes and Nancy’s Schemer,” “The Coup: SpyGate” and, finally, “The Coup: A Witch Hunt Begins — Hillary’s Ukrainian Insurance Policy.”

    TPM counted 29 members of Congress on the CPAC speaking agenda, plus five senators, seven Cabinet-level administration officials, and two ambassadors — including Trump’s newly designated Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell.

    […] In addition to the President himself, Don Jr., Lara Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, dozens of Trump campaign staff, surrogates and Republican vendors will school CPAC 2020 attendees on the tools they’ll need to win this election cycle — such as how to “Weaponize Social Media.”

    […] CPAC 2020 scheduled eight events on the evils of socialism, including “Exposing and Defeating the Socialist Plot to Hijack America” and “Socialism & The Great Awokening,” […]

    The red scare spills onto the conference floor, as well: One of CPAC’s exhibitors this year, listed alongside the Koch brothers’ political data firm i360 and Conservatives for Property Rights, is the confusingly named, “Mises vs. Marx – The Definitive Capitalism vs. Socialism Rap Battle.” That’s likely a reference to a semi-viral YouTube video of the same name, produced by the conservative American Institute for Economic Research. […]

    On Twitter recently, Donktum [Carpe Donktum] — real name Logan Cook — got a bit of attention for a highlight reel he made of the nativist Polish politician Dominik Tarczyński. The video features interviews in which Tarczyński says he doesn’t care about being called a racist, and that “not even one Muslim illegal migrant will come to Poland, ever.” […].

  186. says

    Trump attacked CNN again, but Jim Acosta was ready with a smackdown.

    […] Acosta asked Trump a substantive multipronged question about Russian interference in the 2020 elections and his appointment of Richard Grenell as the acting director of national intelligence.

    “First of all, I want no help from any country and I haven’t been given help from any country,” Trump responded, falsely.

    “If you see what CNN, your wonderful network, said, I guess they apologized, in a way, for, didn’t they apologize for the fact that they said certain things that weren’t true?” Trump continued. “Tell me, what was their apology yesterday, what did they say?”

    “Mr. President, I think our record on delivering the truth is a lot better than yours sometimes if you don’t mind me saying.”

    Trump had his attack ready, though, and wasn’t letting go. “Let me tell you about your record, your record is so bad you ought to be ashamed of yourself. You have the worst record in the history of broadcasting.”

    ”I’m not ashamed of anything, and our organization is not ashamed,” Acosta replied. […]

    During the same press conference, Trump lied about the number of people in the U.S. with coronavirus; strongly hinted at a call for violence against House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff; called on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Sonia Sotomayor to recuse themselves from cases before the Supreme Court involving him; and said of maps of ISIS territory in 2017, “In fact, they had it painted a certain color. I won’t tell you what color because it doesn’t matter. Somebody will say it was a Republican color, so I don’t want to get people confused. But it happened to be red.” Is it just me, or is Trump’s “I’m not going to tell you, here’s a hint, here’s the answer” speech pattern cropping up more often recently?

    Just another (frightening, depressing, threatening) day of Trump being Trump. […]


    Acosta always sounds so polite, and so calm when he smacks Trump down.

  187. says

    Pleas to ignore Rudy:

    Two weeks after Attorney General William Barr confirmed that he had established an “intake process” for information gathered by Rudy Giuliani from Ukraine, which involves federal prosecutors based in Pennsylvania, the state’s senior senator is calling on the Justice Department to “reject” any “Russian propaganda” funneled via that channel.

    Department veterans say the selection of the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania, which is led by Scott W. Brady, for the role doesn’t make much sense. On Monday, Democratic Sen. Bob Casey sent a letter to Barr arguing that the Pittsburgh-based office is plenty busy with major public safety problems, including its key role in opiod overdose-related law enforcement.

    “This new process has led me to question whether DOJ’s leadership is more committed to serving the President’s political agenda than the American people—particularly my constituents in the Western District of Pennsylvania,” wrote Casey, who noted that claims about Ukrainian election meddling have been thoroughly debunked by Trump administration officials such as FBI Director Christopher Wray and Fiona Hill, the former Senior Director of European and Russian Affairs at the National Security Council. […]


  188. says

    What a difference!

    Senate Republicans and Senate Democrats are holding separate meetings to discuss 2020 strategy.

    The Republican retreat features Nigel Farage (rightwing lying Brexit asshat from Britain) and Brad Parscale (Trump’s machiavellian campaign manager). Their focus is to wage a brutal fight to protect Mitch McConnell and the Senate majority.

    The Democratic retreat will feature Stacey Abrams, a 2018 Georgia gubernatorial candidate and an expert on fighting voter repression.

  189. says

    There’s another Democratic Party debate tonight:

    Who is debating tonight: Senator Elizabeth Warren; former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former Vice President Joe Biden; former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg; Senator Amy Klobuchar; Senator Bernie Sanders; and billionaire Tom Steyer.

    How to watch: On CBS News and CBSN. Livestream:

    What time: 8 p.m. EST

  190. says

    From Wonkette:

    One of the hallmarks of the Trump administration has been turning all of the agencies and bureaus meant to help and protect American citizens into bizarro versions that do the exact opposite of what they were intended to do. The Environmental Protection Agency’s purpose now to help destroy the environment, the Secretary of Education is Betsy DeVos, a woman who wants all of our public schools to be replaced by for-profit charter schools, the Labor Department is now anti-labor and pro-management, and so on.

    A particularly crushing example of this is what he’s done to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which Elizabeth Warren fought so damn hard to establish. Not only does it no longer do what it was supposed to do at all, but in September, Trump and the new CFPB itself went to the Supreme Court and asked them to declare the bureau unconstitutional, claiming that it infringes on the president’s executive authority. Arguments will be heard on that case on March 3rd […]

    the Bizarro Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is trying to do everything it can to erode the rights of consumers in favor of corporations, banks and debt collectors. This week, it proposed a new rule that would allow debt collectors to call people about old bills that they technically no longer owe. Surely, this will be a very popular proposal, given how much people just love getting calls from debt collectors.

    In many states, once a debt reaches the statute of limitations — usually over three years — and you haven’t made a payment on it, debt collectors lose their right to sue you for it. This changes, however, if you do make a payment on it, effectively resetting the clock. This is called zombie debt.

    So! Say you get a call from a debt collector, and they scare you into making a payment on debt you can no longer be sued for. You reset the statute of limitations and can, again, be sued for the whole amount. […] Debt collectors make millions of these calls each year, scaring the pants off of people about debts they technically no longer owe.

    Rather than banning the practice entirely, as they would if they were still actually a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, they are allowing it to keep happening, but making a rule that debt collectors have to tell people that their debt has passed the statute of limitations.

    This comes, by the way, on the heels of the Bizarro CFPB making a real horrifying new rule last year that debt collectors can call up to seven times a week and send unlimited texts and emails. […]

  191. johnson catman says

    Pierce R. Butler @255: I REALLY didn’t think a sarcasm tag was needed for my comment @251.

  192. says

    Follow up to SC @181, tomh @195, and me @254.

    Trump’s offensive against Justice Sotomayor crumbles under scrutiny.

    The more Trump berates Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the less sense his argument makes.

    Responding to something he saw on Fox News, Donald Trump interrupted his India trip overnight to lash out at two U.S. Supreme Court justices — a remarkable rarity in the American tradition. In fact, as far as the president is concerned, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg “should recuse themselves on all Trump, or Trump related, matters!”

    It’s no coincidence that some important “Trump-related matters” are coming up at the high court, and the president has an incentive to discourage two progressive jurists from hearing the cases.

    But the offensive wasn’t limited to some unfortunate tweets. During a press conference in India earlier today, Trump again demanded that the justices recuse themselves from cases involving him and his team. […]

    When Fox News’ John Roberts asked what Sotomayor wrote that was inappropriate, the president replied, “You know what she said, John.”

    I think it’s a safe bet Trump has no idea what the justice said.

    Let’s back up and review how we arrived at this point. In August, the administration unveiled a policy known as a public-charge rule — or as it’s sometimes known, a “wealth test” — intended to deny green cards to immigrants who are considered likely to rely on public benefits.

    Litigation, naturally, ensued. Last week, however, the U.S. Supreme Court gave the administration the green light to implement the public-charge rule, prompting Sotomayor to publish a seven-page dissent, making a compelling case that the Trump administration keeps losing in the lower courts, and then scrambling to the high court, assuming conservative justices will follow the White House’s lead.

    “Claiming one emergency after another, the government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases, demanding immediate attention and consuming limited court resources in each,” the progressive justice wrote in Wolf v. Cook County. “And with each successive application, of course, its cries of urgency ring increasingly hollow.”

    Sotomayor added, “It is hard to say what is more troubling. That the government would seek this extraordinary relief seemingly as a matter of course, or that the Court would grant it.”

    This was hardly an outlandish assessment. In fact, it’s bolstered by an extensive record.

    Those looking for “obviously inappropriate” content in Sotomayor’s dissent will be looking for a very long time.

    In his tweet on the subject, Trump wrote that Sotomayor accused the Republican-appointed justices “of being biased in favor of Trump.” Except, that’s not even close to being what she wrote.

    As Steve Vladeck summarized, the Sotomayor story is a microcosm of a larger problem: “(1) Fox runs a story saying she accused #SCOTUS majority of pro-Trump bias. (2) Trump amplifies Fox and demands her recusal. (3) No one actually reads her 7-page dissent — which says nothing about Trump or pro-Trump bias.”

    Trump added this morning, “I think what she did say was she’s trying to shame people with perhaps a different view into voting her way. And that’s so inappropriate.”

    I realize the president is relatively new to government, and he’s struggled at times with Civics 101, but as long as there’s been a Supreme Court, there have been justices trying to shame their colleagues into agreeing with them.

  193. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 178.

    An exclusive report from Talking Points Memo: the ex-prosecutor in Moldova that was targeted by Richard Grenell is now speaking out about Grenell.

    Before acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell entered government, he had a different career path: spin doctor, hired by a range of foreign clients.

    Grenell embarked in 2016 on a public relations campaign against a Moldovan prosecutor who was cooperating with an investigation of large-scale money laundering. Grenell was reportedly working on behalf of a Moldovan political party and its oligarch leader.

    The former prosecutor — Mihail Gofman — spoke with TPM on Monday in an exclusive interview.

    “He came out of nowhere,” Gofman told TPM, referring to Grenell. “He was clearly hired to smear me.” […]

    Gofman’s story — and how he came to be targeted by Grenell — is something out of a spy novel, with the longtime prosecutor fleeing Moldova in a borrowed car to share details about the allegedly corrupt dealings by the leadership of his country with the FBI.

    In 2014, Gofman was a deputy chief in the country’s Office of Prevention and Control of Money Laundering. His unit began to uncover details of a massive bank fraud and money laundering operation involving the country’s leadership, he told TPM.

    Millions of dollars from Moldova’s central bank, Gofman said, was siphoned into the United States. After being pushed out of the unit in 2014, purportedly for investigating the allegations, Gofman said that he tried to gain the attention of European officials, but failed.

    By July 2016, Moldovans like Gofman were growing increasingly alarmed at high-level visits from the target of the longtime former prosecutor’s allegations: an oligarch named Vlad Plahotniuc, who ran the political party that reportedly hired Grenell.

    Plahotniuc visited Washington in May 2016 […]

    Gofman recalled to TPM that he felt like he had run out of options in publicizing the corruption allegations. German diplomats he was in touch with had declined to open an investigation, but told Gofman that his activism had put him in danger and advised him to immediately leave the country. Gofman fled with his family in a borrowed car to neighboring Romania, before flying onwards to Washington, D.C. […]

    In the United States, he began to meet with U.S. officials, including the FBI and Homeland Security’s Global Illicit Financial Team. […]

    “Around a month and a half after I arrived in Washington, Grenell and others started to attack me,” Gofman recalled to TPM.

    Starting in August 2016, Grenell began to write a series of articles focusing on Moldovan politics.

    The articles hit out at Gofman, describing him as “a former Moldovan official with ties to Russia … disguised as a whistleblower circulat[ing] the halls of official Washington.”

    While the articles don’t elaborate on Gofman’s ties to Russia (which he denies), they do attempt to damage the prosecutor’s credibility, accusing him of presenting misleading information and being involved in the underlying crimes about which he was providing evidence.

    “Grenell was saying that I was sent from Moscow,” Gofman said. “It was absurd.”

    Gofman told TPM that the evidence he gave to the U.S. government eventually made its way to a trial attorney in the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. […] No charges have been brought in the case. […]

    […] Grenell didn’t just stumble upon Moldova, or wake up with an altruistic concern for Russian meddling in Moldovan politics. Rather, Grenell, ProPublica reported on Friday, was being paid by Plahotniuc, the Moldovan oligarch and target of Gofman’s allegations.

    Grenell was reportedly hired through his company, Capitol Media Partners. The longtime Republican political consultant Arthur Finkelstein, now deceased, reportedly hired Grenell as a media consultant for the Moldova work. […]

    The State Department banned Plahotniuc in January 2020, from entering the country. […] It’s not clear if the designation occurred because of Gofman’s allegations.

    David H. Laufman, a former chief of the Justice Department’s counterintelligence section, told TPM that Grenell’s conduct would likely raise issues under FARA and for any security clearance investigation. […]

    For Gofman, Grenell’s elevation to lead the U.S. intelligence community came as a shock.

    “I think that if he had known how this would end, he wouldn’t have done it,” Gofman added.


  194. says

    Followup to comment 266.

    Comments from readers of the TPM article:

    So the primary qualification to be Trump’s DNI [Director of National Intelligence] is a history of protecting money launderers. Makes perfect sense.
    Trump may as well nominate Lev Parnas or Igor Fruman to be DNI.

    Oh, wait, they are both under FEDERAL INDICTMENT FOR THIS KIND OF SHIT.
    The abiding characteristics of the Trump appointee are that they are vicious, always act in bad faith, and possess the mentality of a vandal who likes wrecking things for its own sake.

    That’s Grenell and his ilk.
    Grenell is corrupt so naturally Trump loves him. Trump will get filtered intelligence while Grenell and Patel are in charge, putting our country at grave risk.
    How is it everyone Trump hires has ties to Eastern European oligarchs?

  195. says

    Trump is spreading the lie that the stock markets are cratering because Bernie Sanders is running for president.

    Stock markets are falling in response to expanding economic disruptions caused by the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

  196. says

    All the best people.

    There’s another deplorable nominee on Mitch McConnell’s conveyor belt: Stephen Schwartz, nominated to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and pending in the Judiciary Committee.

    This is impeached president Donald Trump’s second go at having Schwartz appointed to this court, which hears claims against the federal government. Trump wants Schwartz there because he’s argued that Social Security should be abolished because being elderly and disabled “is a natural aspect of the human condition” so those people shouldn’t get any assistance.

    […] Schwartz [wrote] 15 years ago in the student newspaper at Yale. When he was an undergraduate. He also “wrote that the departments of Transportation, Agriculture and Education lack a ‘constitutional basis,’ and that Social Security benefits were intended to prevent ‘outright starvation’ but had become a ‘standard component of most retirement programs.'” […]

    Of course that’s not all. Schwartz has also been in on legal efforts to disenfranchise African American voters in North Carolina and in Virginia’s public bathroom wars […] As a pet attorney for the Koch network in its Cause of Action institute, he has sued the federal government multiple times. […]

    Schwartz is another example of Trump’s ideal nominee for the bench: a conservative ideologue who is determined to undermine civil rights and federal agencies,” Vanita Gupta, who headed the Obama Justice Department’s civil rights division, told The Washington Post.

    Schwartz faced stiff opposition in 2017 from a variety of quarters, and his nomination eventually languished as the committee and Mitch McConnell focused on more critical seats. This appointment needs to be squelched again.


  197. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @268:

    Trump is spreading the lie that the stock markets are cratering because Bernie Sanders is running for president.

    And just a couple of days ago, The Orange Toddler-Tyrant was congratulating Bernie on his victory. I think it is way past time that he (not talking about Bernie) is fitted with a strait jacket and ball-gag and placed in a padded room with NO media access.

  198. says

    Today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 877 points. That’s the second day of dramatic downturns.

    In other news: Oregon Republicans Disappear for Another Climate Vote.

    After leaving the state last year to shut down a climate change proposal, Oregon senators were absent again on Monday.

    Less than a year after Oregon’s Senate Republicans fled the state with passports in hand and hid out in Idaho cabins to avoid voting on a climate change bill, they have disappeared again.

    With Democrats seeking to advance a new proposal to cap the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, most Republicans refused to attend a floor session on Monday morning, and a search by the Senate chamber’s sergeant-at-arms failed to find them.

    That left the Senate with just 19 members on the floor — one short of a quorum needed to vote — and threatened to derail a range of bills in the final two weeks of the state’s legislative session.

    Senate President Peter Courtney, a Democrat, called on senators to return to work, saying the climate bill had sufficient votes to pass in a chamber with a large Democratic majority. […]

    The state’s Constitution requires two-thirds of senators to be present before voting can take place. Democrats hold 18 of the chamber’s 30 seats, meaning they need two Republicans to join them to reach a quorum.

    While the cap-and-trade proposal has changed over time, the dispute mirrors what occurred last year, when a similar proposal led Republicans to leave the state to avoid potential roundup by state troopers sent by Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat. That showdown ended after Democratic leaders acknowledged that they did not have enough support to pass the measure. […]

    The Senate majority leader, Ginny Burdick, said in a statement on Monday that the Republicans’ attempt to avoid voting on the legislation was a dereliction of duty.

    “Serving in the Legislature is a great honor,” she said. “Walking out on the job is dishonorable and disrespectful.”

    NY Times link

  199. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Rush Limbaugh said:

    Folks, this coronavirus thing, I want to try to put this in perspective for you. It looks like the coronavirus is being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump.

  200. says

    Endorsement news:

    Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors is saying out with the old and in with candidates of value in her double endorsement of Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders for president. She said in an interview Monday with MSNBC that moderate candidates such as former Vice President Joe Biden and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg just don’t cut it. […]


  201. says

    Followup to comment 271.

    From Chelsea Clinton:

    February 25th, 2020: The day I wished Rush Limbaugh had stuck to comparing me to a dog. Much better than his peddling #fakenews about coronavirus #COVIDー19 to his millions of listeners.

  202. says

    Followup to comments 5, 236, 239, 244, 252 (most apt), 268, 272, and 274.

    Trump should hire a ghostwriter to write “How to Make a Disaster Worse,” a book about his tenure in the White House. We know what he did when faced with disaster in Puerto Rico, for example. And now we see what he doing, and not doing, when faced with the coronavirus crisis.

    One way to make things worse is to issue contradictory statements. Another way is to ignore the facts, while simultaneously spreading disinformation. Trump is doing both.

    Yesterday afternoon, Americans heard top U.S. public health officials issue a striking warning: the coronavirus outbreak is likely to spread nationwide and people should prepare accordingly.

    “It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the head of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a media briefing Tuesday.

    The CDC added that Americans should prepare for the possibility of disruptions to their daily lives. […]

    To be sure, the assessment was sobering and made clear that there’s a public-health emergency unfolding. The Trump administration’s message was undercut, however, by the Trump White House.

    “We have contained this. I won’t say airtight, but it’s pretty close to airtight,” National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told CNBC yesterday.

    While in India, Donald Trump added, in reference to the outbreak, “I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away…. We’re fortunate so far and we think it’s going to remain that way.”

    Much of the public has come to realize that the American president has a strained relationship with the truth. Fair-minded observers know that Trump’s claims are routinely false, in part because he has an unfortunate habit of lying, and in part because the nation’s first amateur president is often confused about the events unfolding around him. […]

    But when there’s a public-health emergency, and the White House and the CDC are delivering very different messages to the public, this isn’t just routine political nonsense emanating from the nation’s capital.

    First, Trump and his team undercut the government’s ability to respond to emergencies like these, and now the president and his aides are struggling to keep their stories straight. […]

    Around the same time, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and the CDC also delivered contradictory messages about the reliability of coronavirus testing kits.

    These are exactly the kind of conditions in which Americans want to be able to turn to the authorities for sound information and guidance. As yesterday helped demonstrate, that’s not really much of an option with Team Trump.


  203. says

    More details concerning Trump’s inept handling of the coronavirus crisis:

    […] Trump claimed late Tuesday night that his administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the deadly coronavirus under control, despite the CDC’s warning of the disease’s inevitable spread in the U.S.

    “CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus, including the very early closing of our borders to certain areas of the world,” he tweeted. “It was opposed by the Dems, ‘too soon,’ but turned out to be the correct decision.”

    The White House asked Congress for $2.5 billion in emergency funds to deal with the virus, $535 million of which would be taken from the Ebola response fund. Democrats criticized the administration for the request.

    “It is profoundly disturbing that their answer now is to raid money Congress has designated for other critical public health priorities,” House Appropriations Committee chair Nita Lowey (D-NY) said in a statement. “Worse still, their overall request still falls short of what is needed for an effective, comprehensive government-wide response.”

    Trump has taken an optimistic tone about the deadly virus, primarily as a means to reassure stockholders that the market isn’t in danger.

    Yes, Trump has revealed several times that the stock market is more important to him.

    “CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart,” he tweeted on Tuesday afternoon. “Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

    The CDC confirmed on late Monday that there are 53 cases of the virus in the U.S. and has warned that it’s only a matter of time before the disease begins to spread. […]


    Update from Trump’s fountain of misinformation, his Twitter feed:

    Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & @CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape!

    Complete with spelling errors and misidentification of MSNBC.

    Comments from readers of the Talking Points Memo article:

    The level of this-is-not-right is almost inexpressible.
    Trump is in for a personal disaster since it’s the only way he can conceive of this oncoming pandemic.
    He is cavalierly putting lives at risk and thinking only of himself and his reelection.
    He is a fricking moron. The only reason they’re doing the usual great job is because coronavirus isn’t really in the US yet. Talking through his hairdo trying to make everyone believe it’s so because why? Because of the stock market. He knows if the stock market goes to hell, so will he.
    In 2005, during the H1N5 bird flu scare, the US Agency for International Development ran a program called Predict to identify and research infectious diseases in animal populations in the developing world. Most new viruses that impact humans — apparently including the one causing the Covid-19 disease — emerge through this route, so investing in early research is the kind of thing that, at modest ongoing cost, served to reduce the likelihood of rare but catastrophic events.

    The program was initiated under George W. Bush and continued through Barack Obama’s eight years in office; [then, last fall the Trump administration SHUT IT DOWN…
    That program was shut down because Obama was a supporter and no other reason. Same with all the other health related programs in our government that have been cut or killed by this petulant mentally ill man/baby.
    The disease is not deadly in most cases, [Lynna comments: Actually, it is twenty times more deadly than the flu] but ttump and his admin’s propensity to lie/cover up is similar to how the government of Wuhan (and Hubei province) reacted to the discovery of the disease, which cauesd the spread of it in China.
    A 2% death rate is pretty significant. As are the attendant hospitalizations for those who don’t die. That percentage will be far higher and it will be on a health system already burdened by the flu.

  204. says

    As it turns out, there was a witness to one of Michael Bloomberg’s worst moments:

    One of the bombshell moments of Tuesday night’s Democratic debate came when Sen. Elizabeth Warren called out former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for telling a pregnant employee to “kill it.” Bloomberg fiercely denied the charge, leading debate moderator Gayle King to follow up: “He told a woman to get an abortion. What evidence do you have of that?”

    Warren’s answer was simple: “Her own words.” We shouldn’t need more than that. But, as it happens, there’s also a witness.

    “I remember she had been telling some of her girlfriends that she was pregnant,” former Bloomberg employee David Zielenziger told The Washington Post. “And Mike came out and I remember he said, ‘Are you going to kill it?’ And that stopped everything. And I couldn’t believe it.”

    […] no matter how many times Bloomberg insists, “I never said that.” No matter how disbelieving MSNBC’s Chris Matthews was, after the debate, that “the former mayor of New York said that to a pregnant employee”—to which Warren replied, “A pregnant employee sure said he did. Why shouldn’t I believe her?”

    Bloomberg said something else in that part of the debate that requires attention. Referring to Warren’s own story of pregnancy discrimination as a young teacher, he said, “For the record, if she was a teacher in New York City, she would never have had that problem. We treated our teachers the right way, and the unions will tell you exactly that.”

    How interesting. Leo Casey, a former vice president of the New York City teachers union during Bloomberg’s time as mayor, strongly and swiftly rebutted that claim on Facebook.

    ”In the course of my duties, I visited a high school in the Bronx where the staff recited for me a long list of sexual harassment at the hands of the principal—a secretary, a guidance counselor, teachers, even a parent had reported sexual harassment at his hands,” Casey wrote. “When the students learned what had happened to the mother of one of their number, they had handed out leaflets condemning him outside of the school, and the principal had suspended them in retaliation.” […]

    THAT is what a former union leader in Michael Bloomberg’s New York City has to say about how teachers were treated. For sure, the union had improved the treatment of pregnant teachers long before Bloomberg took office, but “The teachers union would not let me treat pregnant teachers how I treated pregnant employees in my business” is perhaps not the strongest defense.


  205. says

    More moments from last night’s debate:

    […] ”Let’s think of it this way. We’re here in Charleston, and you know who is going to be in Charleston later this week, is Donald Trump,” Warren said. “He’s going to be here to raise money for his buddy Senator Lindsey Graham.” She then asked: “Who funded Lindsey Graham’s campaign for re-election last time? It was Mayor Bloomberg.”

    Bloomberg donated $250,000 to a PAC backing Graham in 2014, and two years later, he gave $11.7 million to back Republican incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey’s reelection instead of challenger and policy expert Katie McGinty, according to The New York Times. Warren called the challenger “terrific.” “She lost by a single point,” the Massachusetts senator said, adding another name to the list of Republicans Bloomberg supported.

    “In 2012, he scooped in to try to defend another Republican senator against a woman challenger. That was me,” Warren said. “It didn’t work, but he tried hard.” […]


  206. says

    The Boston Globe endorsed Elizabeth Warren:

    Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s hometown newspaper, The Boston Globe, endorsed her White House bid on Wednesday — despite urging her to reconsider her candidacy for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination a little more than a year ago.

    The Globe’s editorial board offered praise for several of Warren’s rivals, but concluded that she is the single Democratic contender who “stands out as a leader with the qualifications, the track record, and the tenacity to defend the principles of democracy, bring fairness to an economy that is excluding too many Americans, and advance a progressive agenda.”

    The Globe specifically homed in on Warren’s pledge to battle corruption while in office — the central tenet of her campaign — describing her crusade as “a worthy cause” against “a root evil worth going to the mat for.”

    Her nimble performances during the primary debates demonstrate that she possesses “the greatest potential among the candidates to lay bare Trump’s weaknesses” during a one-on-one sparring session, the editorial board also argued, and the breadth of her thoroughly researched policy proposals “elevates Warren’s candidacy” above her competitors. […]


  207. says

    House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn endorsed Joe Biden:

    […] Clyburn’s backing of Biden was long expected, but he decided to hold off on a formal endorsement until after the presidential debate Tuesday in his home state of South Carolina. Voters in the state head to the polls Saturday. […]

    He has a longtime friendship with Biden, and several colleagues he’s close with in the Congressional Black Caucus have also endorsed Biden. Former CBC Chairman Cedric L. Richmond, D-La., who has nightly dinners with Clyburn when the House is in session, is a national co-chairman of Biden’s campaign.

    In South Carolina, Clyburn’s endorsement is arguably the most influential one Biden could receive. But the former vice president is already ahead in the state. Three polls conducted in South Carolina before the debate showed Biden leading the pack, with Sanders an average of 8 percentage points behind him, according to Real Clear Politics. The most recent of the three, a Public Policy Polling survey conducted Feb. 23-24, had Biden up 15 percentage points over Sanders.

    Other candidates who didn’t receive Clyburn’s endorsement can still tout partnerships with him on legislation. Sanders teamed up with Clyburn on legislation to expand funding for community health centers and the National Health Service Corps, and presidential contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., collaborated with him on legislation to eliminate up to $50,000 in student loan debt for 95 percent of borrowers. […]


  208. says

    Followup to comment 201.

    American Oversight, a government ethics watchdog group, filed a lawsuit Wednesday suing multiple government agencies over information related to White House adviser Stephen Miller’s involvement in the drafting of the “public charge” rule.

    The rule, which critics call a “wealth test” for immigrants, went into effect Monday and restricts legal immigrants from seeking public assistance, such as food stamps and Medicaid. The rule was introduced formally in August 2019, when it was then contested several times in district courts until the Supreme Court eventually ruled in the administration’s favor last Friday.

    Earlier this month, lawmakers introduced legislation condemning Miller for white supremacist ideology expressed in emails obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center. […]

    “The administration’s inhumane immigration policies have Stephen Miller’s fingerprints all over them, but the full extent of his influence and the intent behind it remains unknown,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight in a statement to The Hill. “Stephen Miller and his network across the administration should know that their machinations will not remain secret forever.”

    The group is suing for email communications, including email and calendar invites between Miller, his staff and specific officials at the Department of Labor, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Agriculture, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services. […]


  209. says

    From Wonkette: “Trump Fires ‘Caronavirus’ And Stock Market For Disloyalty, Refusing To Investigate Joe Biden.”

    Donald Trump is getting worried about the coronavirus outbreak. He’s not so much worried about the health of Americans, because no one who gets sick will be allowed within a quarter mile of him. But stock markets are dropping all around the world on fears of how the disease will affect global supply chains, and the Washington Post reports Trump is “furious” about that display of disloyalty, especially in an election year.

    Trump explained on Twitter this morning that everything is just fine, and that the stock markets are being deliberately lied to by his enemies, who are lying about the “Caronavirus.” [See comment 276]

    Don’t believe the media! Instead, listen to the guy who has the best information! Trump is on top of the Corollavirus. […] Now if Trump could just explain why European markets are also down. Must be a whole lot of French investors watching MSNBC.

    We’ve taken a screenshot of Trump’s misspelling, but frankly we expect that by the end of the day the virus will be officially renamed from its current designation as “SARS-CoV-2” (turns out “Covid-19” is the disease, not the virus, please update your files) to “Caronavirus Democrat Death Virus.” At least on Fox News. […]

    Trump’s top economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, staggered to a podium in the White House to reassure CNBC that everything’s under control, OK? Sure the public health people are getting ready, but that’s what they do, right? But Kudlow’s business is business, and everything there is EXCELLENT. […]

  210. says

    From Wonkette:

    Political pundits might’ve forgotten Elizabeth Warren is running for president, but she still showed up at last night’s Democratic debate in South Carolina. That wasn’t good news for Mike Bloomberg. During the throwdown in Charleston, Warren mentioned how she’d lost a teaching job almost 50 years ago because she was pregnant. She tied this injustice to her favorite new punching bag.

    WARREN: At least I didn’t have a boss who said to me, “Kill it,” the way that Mayor Bloomberg alleged to have said to one of his pregnant employees.

    Bloomberg denied on national television having ever said this, which might’ve been a trap Warren set for him.

    The Massachusetts senator later sat down for a migraine-inducing, post-debate interview on MSNBC with Chris Matthews, who was shocked Warren would believe a “former New York City mayor” would say something so dehumanizing and misogynistic. Warren reiterated that she believed the woman who stated as much under oath.

    […] Matthews refused to let Warren finish more than three sentences [OMFG, that habit of Matthews is sooo irritating.]– women get the right to vote and they just won’t shut up, huh? He then talked over her and sweet Christ was everything he said stupid.

    MATTHEWS: You believe he’s that kind of person?

    Did we miss where Bloomberg was Mr. Rogers? This is reminiscent of the Senate confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, where Republicans defended the honor of some guy they’d just met on account of his excellent white guy references.

    Warren proceeded to explain the real world to Matthews […]

    WARREN: Pregnancy discrimination is real. We have gone on and on and on where people say, “Oh, I can’t believe the woman.” Really? Why not? Mayor Bloomberg has non-disclosure agreements for who knows how many women. And it’s not just the one. The whole point is how can you actually trust someone who’ll not just say, “Look, I’m gonna waive non-disclosure on sexual harassment and anybody who has a story to tell can come tell the story.”

    MATTHEWS: Sure, I agree that everybody deserves a credible response when they make a charge like that. My question about him is you believe he’s lying.

    Matthews insisted on centering Bloomberg, and unfortunately, this reaction isn’t unique. It’s the man’s “honor” at stake and not the woman’s dignity. This puts the woman making the accusation in the defensive position. How many women have heard variations of “why are you trying to ruin this guy’s life?”

    Warren again had to stress that this isn’t about Bloomberg personally but the pregnant employee he allegedly bullied. […]

    On April 11, 1995 at approximately 11:20 a.m., Bloomberg was having a photograph taken with two female Company salespeople and a group of N.Y.U. Business School students, in the company snack area. When Bloomberg noticed [Sekiko Sakai] Garrison standing nearby, he asked, “Why didn’t they ask you to be in the picture? I guess they saw your face.” Continuing his penchant for ridiculing recently married women in his employ, Bloomberg asked plaintiff, “How’s married life? You married?” Plaintiff responded that her marriage was great and was going to get better in a few months: that she was pregnant, and the baby was due the following September. He responded to her “Kill it!” Plaintiff asked Bloomberg to repeat himself, and again he said, “Kill it!” and muttered, “Great! Number 16!” suggesting to plaintiff his unhappiness that sixteen women in the Company had maternity-related status. Then he walked away. Washington Post link

    Warren’s response to Matthews’s incredibly naive and insulting question was wonderful.

    WARREN: Why would she lie?

    This stunned Matthews into a blissful but unfortunately brief silence. He’d apparently never considered that the billionaire would have more reason to lie than the woman he could professionally and financially ruin with a couple phone calls. […]

  211. says

    Chris Hayes looks at the false equivalence that occurs when Trump is in the mix, the first striking example coming as the media focused on Bernie Sanders’ comments on Cuba while virtually ignoring Trump’s trip to India and its notoriously bigoted Prime Minister.


    The video is 4:57 minutes long.

  212. says

    Inside embattled Idlib province: A Syrian offensive wreaks terror on children.

    Washington Post link

    The market bombing had driven Ahmed and his family from their town in southern Idlib province and onto the road, joining hundreds of thousands of other people searching for safety, the teen recalled. A Russian plane had circled overhead and then the bombs fell, obliterating a car, its driver and other people who were passing by on motorcycles.

    The attack a few weeks ago was terrible but hardly the worst he had seen. Five years ago, another airstrike had killed dozens of people in the town square.

    Now, at age 13, Ahmed is living in the clammy basement of a sports stadium in Idlib city, with hundreds of other displaced people who have crowded in over recent weeks. As he spoke, warplanes could be heard circling overhead again. Guards warned people to stay indoors. But Ahmed didn’t flinch, the stoic survivor of a war and no longer a child. […]

    The last month has been especially brutal in Idlib, with a Syrian government offensive producing a humanitarian crisis almost unparalleled during nearly a decade of war in Syria. As Syria seeks to recapture rebel-held Idlib, overwhelmingly populated by children, the fighting has chased about 1 million people from their homes. Many had previously fled to the province from elsewhere in the country, and they are now trapped between the approaching battlefront and a sealed Turkish border to the north.

    The offensive, waged during some of the worst winter weather in years, has offered a lesson in the endless ways young people can be made to suffer […] Infants have died in the cold or suffocated in their tents as their parents try to keep them warm. Children have withered away because of severe malnutrition as their parents desperately search for food. In bedrooms or schoolyards, they have been blasted by airstrikes or artillery shells.

    Parents who spoke to reporters during a rare visit to Idlib this week said their children have also struggled with the mental toll of the violence and have become withdrawn or alarmingly aggressive. […]

    Children account for more than half of the province’s 3 million people, according to Save the Children, making them frequent targets of what human rights activists have said are indiscriminate attacks on civilians carried out by the Syrian government and its Russian allies. […]

    Assad’s forces have directly targeted children, including on Tuesday, when they attacked at least 10 schools in Idlib, according to the Syrian American Medical Society, or SAMS, which supports hospitals in the province. At least 20 civilians were killed in attacks throughout the day. Half were children, the group said. […]

  213. says

    Yikes. I hadn’t thought of this before. A lot of U.S. residents are going to end up with huge medical bills … even if all they have is the flu.

    At first blush, this Miami Herald story may seem like a report about a local guy who caught the flu. But the closer one looks, the more interesting it becomes.

    “After returning to Miami last month from a work trip in China, Osmel Martinez Azcue found himself in a frightening position: he was developing flu-like symptoms, just as coronavirus was ravaging the country he had visited. Under normal circumstances, Azcue said he would have gone to CVS for over-the-counter medicine and fought the flu on his own, but this time was different.”

    To his credit, Osmel Martinez Azcue recognized the public-health concerns about the coronavirus outbreak, and given his symptoms and his recent China visit, he felt like the responsible thing to do was check himself into one of Miami’s largest hospitals (Jackson Memorial). This is, of course, what we’d expect anyone in his position to do.

    The hospital staff followed the proper protocols, took the necessary precautions, and put Azcue in a closed-off room. Fortunately, blood work found that he simply had the flu. The medical teams stood down and Azcue was discharged.

    So why did this story generate national attention? A couple of reasons.

    […] Azcue ended up with expensive medical bills, not because he’s uninsured, but because he has what the Miami Herald charitably described as a “very limited insurance plan.” Or put another way, he has one of the “junk plans” the Affordable Care Act tried to eliminate, but which Donald Trump and his team are quite fond of. Consumers are attracted to the low costs of these coverage plans, right up until they get sick.

    In Azcue’s case, within weeks of being sent home, he started receiving thousands of dollars in medical bills — with more likely on the way, because he was treated by some out-of-network physicians […] Azcue’s private insurer wanted him to prove that his flu wasn’t related to a pre-existing condition.

    Again, “Obamacare” made sure that Americans couldn’t be punished for having pre-existing conditions, but under Trump’s junk plans, those consumer protections are gutted.

    When the White House insists the president champions those with pre-existing conditions, keep this story in mind.

    […] what happens when the coronavirus outbreak spreads in the United States and many Americans — who are either uninsured or under-insured — avoid seeking medical care because they’re concerned about bills they can’t afford?

    […] While many of the countries grappling with the coronavirus outbreak have universal-coverage systems, the United States does not. What’s more, we also don’t have a system of paid sick leave, which increases the pressure of economically vulnerable Americans to go to work, even they’re unwell.

    As for Azcue, he asked rhetorically, “How can they expect normal citizens to contribute to eliminating the potential risk of person-to-person spread if hospitals are waiting to charge us $3,270 for a simple blood test and a nasal swab?” […]


    Yes, Hair Furor, please answer Azcue’s question.

  214. says

    From the Washington Post:

    As several countries around the world confirmed additional cases and higher death tolls, Trump tried to seize the reins of his administration’s public response to a crisis that has featured a daily stream of negative developments. But his news conference quickly devolved into campaign-style attacks on Democrats, predictions of a stock market rally and self-congratulatory assessments of his handling of the crisis.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] With the pressure on, and much of the public hoping to see evidence of a steady hand at the wheel, the president thought it’d be a good idea to publicly attack House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s patriotism and competence. Trump also talked about his poll numbers, his re-election prospects, his complaints about the Federal Reserve, and his affection for his recent trade deals.

    And, of course, the president made a variety of claims about the coronavirus outbreak that didn’t stand up well to scrutiny.

    Even when it’s in his interest to at least try to be a grown-up, Donald Trump can’t stop being Donald Trump.

    From a different article by Steve Benen:

    […] As NBC News reported, Trump vacillated yesterday “between agreeing with and rejecting the stark warnings of a broader potential outbreak issued by government public health experts.”

    Responding to a question about the likelihood of a U.S. outbreak, he said, “I don’t think it’s inevitable. It probably will. It possibly will,” he continued. “It could be at a very small level, or it could be at a larger level.” At another point, Trump said, “Nothing is inevitable.”

    One day earlier, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the head of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a media briefing, “It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness.”

    This was not the only area of concern. The president also boasted yesterday that U.S. officials will “essentially have a flu shot for this in a fairly quick manner,” which isn’t exactly true. Trump also misstated the number of documented coronavirus cases on American soil and used misleading rhetoric about the flu being more dangerous than COVID-19.

    A Washington Post analysis added, in reference to the president, “He has generally sounded a very different tune than other health experts, including those in his own administration. He has also made dubious and outright false claims about the situation.”

    After Trump’s remarks from the White House press briefing room yesterday, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a senior advisor to the Director General of the World Health Organization, told MSNBC, “I found most of what he said incoherent.” […]


    As soon as Trump started emphasizing that there were only 15 cases of coronavirus in the USA, I knew we were in for the usual lie fest. At the time that Trump said that (and repeated it many times), there were 60 cases of diagnosed coronavirus in the USA.

  215. says

    Trump chose Mike Pence to oversee the efforts to fight coronavirus in the USA. That’s a bad choice.

    Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was on Capitol Hill yesterday, where he fielded a question from a lawmaker who asked about the possibility of a “czar” to coordinate the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak. The cabinet secretary was dismissive of the idea, deeming it entirely unnecessary. Azar said he’d spoken to the White House and was certain that he would lead the response.

    Because the Trump administration is so dysfunctional, Azar didn’t know until late in the afternoon that Vice President Mike Pence would be in control of the process. The HHS secretary was reportedly “blindsided” by the news. […]

    “When Mike was governor, Mike Pence of Indiana, they have established great health care, they have a great system there,” Trump said. “A system that a lot of the other states have really looked to and changed their systems. They wanted to base it on the Indiana system. It’s very good. And I think he is really very expert in the field.”

    I wish this were true. It’s not.

    In fact, it was just five years ago, during Pence’s gubernatorial tenure, when his home state of Indiana faced one of the nation’s first HIV outbreaks linked to intravenous drug users. The Republican governor’s slow and ideological response was widely panned for a reason: Pence got it backward. It became a case study in what not to do in the face of a public-health emergency. […]

    The idea that the vice president is “really very expert in the field” is ridiculous. The idea that Pence is the best person to oversee a serious public-health crisis is worse.

    Postscript: During a panic-stricken breakdown over the Ebola threat in 2014, Trump lashed out at then-President Barack Obama for appointing Ron Klain to oversee the federal response. [Trump said] “Obama just appointed an Ebola Czar with zero experience in the medical area and zero experience in infectious disease control. A TOTAL JOKE!”

    Five-and-a-half years later, we know two things. First, Klain was the right person for the job and he handled the emergency perfectly. Second, Trump just appointed a coronavirus czar who has “zero experience in the medical area and zero experience in infectious disease control.”


  216. says

    Followup to comment 289.

    More details regarding why Mike Pence is the wrong guy to run any public health initiative:

    For some mysterious reason, Donald Trump did not put Jared Kushner in charge of coronavirus response, but rather Mike Pence. And what an issue to elevate Pence on, since he has repeatedly shown himself to be hostile to public health and medicine and science.

    Pence’s most notorious public health disaster was an HIV outbreak in Indiana while he was governor, which was made much worse by his policies and failure to act in a science-based way. During Pence’s first year as governor, public health spending cuts contributed to the closure of the only HIV testing center in Scott County. Two years later, when an HIV outbreak began in that area, Pence sat on his hands while loudly rejecting science-based policy to combat the outbreak.

    “I don’t believe effective anti-drug policy involves handing out drug paraphernalia,” Pence said, rejecting the idea of a needle exchange program to combat an HIV outbreak driven by needle sharing. Pence may not believe it, but public health experts know that clean needle exchange is an important tool to prevent the spread of HIV among intravenous drug users. Pence did eventually give in and allow needle exchange programs in Indiana, but not until hundreds of people had been infected.

    A study on the Indiana outbreak pointed a finger squarely at Pence (and his predecessor). “Our findings suggest that with earlier action the actual number of infections recorded in Scott County—215—might have been brought down to fewer than 56, if the state had acted in 2013, or to fewer than 10 infections, if they had responded to the HCV outbreak in 2010-2011,” said one of the study’s authors, Yale statistician Forrest Crawford. “Instead they cut funding for the last HIV testing provider in the county.” Pence became governor in 2013.

    That one Scott County HIV testing center that closed, by the way, was a Planned Parenthood clinic—and as a member of Congress, Pence had also voted in 2011 to defund Planned Parenthood. […]

    Pence has also claimed that smoking cigarettes doesn’t kill people. Yeah, we should not think that Mike Pence is going to save us all from coronavirus.

    OMG, and then there’s this:

    Today at the corona virus press conference, @VP wiped his nose with his hands then proceeded to shake everyone’s hands Flushed faceSmiling face with open mouth and cold sweat.
    Video at the link.

  217. says

    From Mark Sumner:

    […] This is an accurate transcript of a small portion of Trump’s press event. See if you can discover the true number of coronavirus cases in the United States from listening to what he told the public.

    Uh, as most of you know, uh, the … the level that we’ve had in our country is very low and those people are getting better, or we think that in almost all cases they’re better or getting better. We have a total of 15. We took in some from Japan, you heard about that, because they were American citizens and they were in quarantine. And, uh, they’re getting better too.

    But we felt we had an obligation to do that, it could have been as many as 42. And uh, we found that … we were … it was just an obligation we felt that we had. We could have left them and that would have been very bad. Very bad, I think. American people. And … they’re recovering.

    Of the 15 people, the original 15 as I call them, uh, eight of them have returned to their homes, to stay in their homes, until fully recovered. One is in the hospital. And five have fully recovered. And one is, we think, in pretty good shape. In between hospital and going home.

    So we have a total of … but we have a total of 15 people. And, uh, they’re in the process of recovering. Some having already fully recovered.

    Again, the number of coronavirus cases in the United States at the time of the press event was 60. In order to try to make the number seem smaller, Trump, along with Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, continually left out not only cases that had been diagnosed on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship before being returned to the United States, but both cases from diplomatic flights and the Diamond Princess passengers who had been tested and confirmed after returning the United States. The whole “15 cases” thing appears to be an arbitrary division created simply to make the incidence sound small—in spite of reality.

    And here’s something critical that seems to be getting overlooked. Those “original 15” that Trump mentioned included the case in California that appears to be the first known case of possible community spread within the United States. Here is Azar speaking on Wednesday morning, hours before Trump’s press event:

    As of this morning, we still had only 14 cases of the novel coronavirus detected in the United States involved travel to or close contacts with travelers. Coming into this hearing, I was informed that we have a 15th confirmed case, the epidemiology of which we are still discerning.

    That case that they were “still discerning” was the California case. As UC Davis Medical Center has made clear, that patient was transferred to it from another hospital on Feb. 19—over a week ago. It requested testing for COVID-19 at that time, but was turned down because the CDC was not looking for community-spread cases. However, after UC Davis insisted, the CDC did conduct a test on Sunday. The results of that test were confirmed on Wednesday.

    Not only did Trump and Azar handle their press events by deliberately underplaying the number of cases being treated in the United States, but they were also aware that coronavirus was circulating in the population before Trump stepped behind the podium. That patient was one of the “total of 15” that Trump kept talking about. He just didn’t share that with the public.


    Ah, so that’s the explanation for Azar saying “14 cases.” I missed that at the time.

  218. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @291:

    Of the 15 people, the original 15 as I call them . . .

    JFC, what a fucking dolt.

    And one is, we think, in pretty good shape. In between hospital and going home.

    Are they in the car between the hospital and home? In the process of being released? You really don’t know and don’t care, do you asshole? I only hope this nightmare ends in January.

  219. says

    Bernie Sanders’ supporters get some attention from the cops:

    The night before the Nevada caucuses, the chairman of the state’s Democratic Party called police after several supporters of Bernie Sanders gathered outside his home at 11 p.m. with a bullhorn to issue a warning about the next day’s election.

    “I want assurances that there isn’t going to be any shenanigans going on tomorrow. The Democratic Party does not control what happens,” Maria Estrada, a self-described “Berner” from Los Angeles, said into the bullhorn, according to a Facebook Live video she streamed on her personal page. She repeatedly said she didn’t want to see a repeat of the 2016 election, which she insinuated was rigged against Sanders.

    At least three other times in recent days, Estrada led a group of Sanders supporters who gathered late at night outside the homes of Democratic Party officials and California lawmakers, including those of Secretary of State Alex Padilla and state Democratic Party Chairman Rusty Hicks. Police were called at least twice.

    […] Estrada is not employed by the Sanders campaign and said none of the fellow protesters were either.

    William McCurdy, the Nevada party chair and a member of the state Assembly, confronted Estrada and the other Sanders supporters outside his home nearly an hour after they arrived. He told them they had “crossed a line.” […]

    The incident and three others in recent days come at a time when some Democrats and rival campaigns say Sanders’ supporters are engaged in harassment and bullying, both online and in person. His opponents have increasingly highlighted examples and argued that Sanders has allowed a toxic culture to fester among his fans. […]

    Sanders has said that people who engage in threatening or bullying behavior are not welcome in his movement. […]

    The Sanders campaign condemned the protesters after viewing video footage of the incidents.

    “This conduct is completely unacceptable,” Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ longtime aide and senior adviser, said in a statement. “No one who behaves like this is part of our movement. People who support this campaign do so by civilly mobilizing other voters to come to the polls. We have zero tolerance for these activities and condemn them in the strongest terms.” […]

    At around 9 p.m. the night after the Nevada incident, Estrada and several other Sanders supporters went to the Los Angeles home of California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Padilla’s office oversees California elections, including the Democratic primary on Tuesday. […]

    “At a certain point, you got to ask yourself, why did this pattern arise? Why is it especially the case among your supporters that this happens?” Pete Buttigieg asked Sanders at last week’s debate in Las Vegas.

    “I don’t think it is especially the case, by the way,” Sanders said, to which Buttigieg replied: “That’s just not true. Look, people know the way your supporters treat them.”

    “At a certain point, you got to ask yourself, why did this pattern arise? Why is it especially the case among your supporters that this happens?” Pete Buttigieg asked Sanders at last week’s debate in Las Vegas.

    “I don’t think it is especially the case, by the way,” Sanders said, to which Buttigieg replied: “That’s just not true. Look, people know the way your supporters treat them.” […]

    The incidents also raise the possibility that Sanders’ most passionate supporters are now beyond the control of the campaign despite efforts from senior leadership to rein them in. […]


  220. says

    johnson catman @294, yeah. In addition to lying, Trump was frequently incoherent during that press conference, as you pointed out.

    In other coronavirus news, Elizabeth Warren has called on Trump to explain the process used for bringing Americans infected by the virus back to the USA.

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren is calling on Trump administration officials to explain its handling of the evacuation of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, after 14 passengers infected with the coronavirus flew on a plane with other travelers despite a warning from the Centers for Disease Control. […]

    In a letter sent Wednesday to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Centers for Disease Control director Robert Redfield, [Elizabeth Warren] cited recent reports the CDC recommended that the 14 infected passengers, who tested positive after leaving the cruise ship, remain in Japan instead of fly back with other non-infected travelers. The decision to overrule the CDC and place them on the flight reportedly came from the State Department and an HHS official. […]

    “The process by which this decision was reportedly made is troubling,” Warren wrote.” As the global coronavirus public health emergency continues, it will be essential for the leadership of all the relevant agencies to have a clear, responsive, and integrated process for responding to new circumstances and incorporating expert advice.”

    In her letter, Warren asked for further clarification about which agency was at the top of the chain of command when it came to the ship’s evacuation, and whether there have been any changes to the pecking order. In addition, she asked under what circumstances the State Department can overrule the CDC and if HHS is involved at all in the decision-making process.

    The Massachusetts Democrat also inquired about the standard protocol for treating and transporting a U.S. citizen back to America infected with coronavirus in the future.

    “These questions are particularly urgent given the announcement yesterday by a top CDC official that ‘we expect we will see community spread (of coronavirus) in the United States,” Warren said. […]

    Warren requested a response to her letter by March 11.


  221. says

    Followup to comment 290.

    This may be good news. Mike Pence seems to have handed off the job that Trump gave him to a more qualified person.

    Vice President Pence on Thursday tapped longtime health official and ambassador-at-large Debbie Birx to serve as the White House coronavirus response coordinator.

    Birx has worked for decades in the medical field, largely focusing on combating and preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS. The staffing move is likely intended to appease calls from many lawmakers for the Trump administration to appoint a “czar” to oversee the federal response to the coronavirus.

    “She has deep experience in coordinating across agencies,” Pence’s office said in announcing Birx’s new role. “She has worked from the research bench to the clinic, but understands the primary focus must always be to reach the individuals most in need. She will bring her infectious disease, immunologic, vaccine research and interagency coordinating capacity to this position.”

    Birx currently serves as the ambassador-at-large for the State Department coordinating the U.S. efforts to combat HIV/AIDS. An Obama-era appointee, she has held that role since 2014.

    She has in the past served as a physician in the U.S. Army and as director of the U.S. Military HIV Research Program at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. She spent nearly a decade as the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Global HIV/AIDS. […]


    She will still report to Pence, but this is, at least, an improvement.

    Obama appointed her.

  222. says

    An excerpt from Wonkette’s live blog of Trump’s press conference yesterday:

    […] 6:58: Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, says that while a vaccine for the virus is being developed as quickly as possible, it will take time, and a functioning vaccine won’t be tested and ready to go until around a year and a half from now. Adds that the coronavirus may become a seasonally recurring problem, and so if it does, there should be a vaccine.

    7:03: Trump downplays the CDC doc, Nancy Messonnier, who said it’s “inevitable” the virus will spread and interrupt everyday life for Americans. […]

    7:05: Trump is sure the stock market dropped because investors saw the Democratic debate last night, which would really be an impressive feat since the Dow’s biggest drops were Monday and Tuesday. Oh, and also maybe fears of the virus. Weirdly, he doesn’t repeat this morning’s claim that it was all media-induced panic.

    7:10: Trump explains that while the government will be buying plenty of supplies like masks and stuff, he hopes it won’t be necessary. And as for travel plans, Americans don’t need to travel abroad, they can stay here, because America is a great place to visit. […]

    7:12: Democratic critics of Trump’s response to the outbreak are terrible people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Nancy Pelosi should shut up and clean up San Francisco, which she has somehow ruined although she technically is in the US government, not the city government.

    He also says Pelosi and Chuck Schumer should be ashamed of themselves for insulting the great doctors standing behind him, too.

    7:15: Trump again insists the market is down because investors are scared of Democrats destroying the Second Amendment, but just wait until he’s reelected and stocks will boom!

    7:17: Trump says that laying off the government’s entire chain of command for dealing with pandemic disease was just good business sense, because you don’t need a lot of people on payroll when they’re not needed. He can hire ’em back if he needs. Good lord this man.

    7:20: You know what’s really bad for the GDP? Boeing. And the GM strike, months ago. Also, the Fed. Obama had zero interest, why not me? Don’t worry, everything will be great.

    7:22: Trump agrees with Rush Limbaugh: coronavirus is no big, and Donald Trump’s enemies are exaggerating its seriousness to hurt him. But you can trust the CDC, even though Nancy Messonnier is conspicuously not at this event.

    7:26: Be like Donald Trump: wash your hands all the time, and don’t hug him like this one guy who was all feverish definitely did. Also, Trump says this is far different from the Ebola outbreak he panicked about, because this is like the flu, and also Ebola was far worse. (More Americans have covid-19 than ever had Ebola.) […]

    Trump clearly has no idea what he’s talking about — it’s the flu, but the flu is actually worse, and the economy is fine, and only “fifteen” Americans are infected, despite all the government agencies saying it’s 60. But that total includes people repatriated by the State Department from Wuhan, China (3) and from that cruise ship (42) so if you artificially exclude them, it’s just 15. Isn’t THAT a cute trick![…]


  223. says

    From Wonkette:

    Tucker Carlson is as down with “reefer” as any conservative white TV dinner heir who wore bow ties in his youth. The Fox News host has linked marijuana use to schizophrenia, violence, suicide, and death. He apparently thought Reefer Madness was a documentary. He’s argued, with little evidence, that marijuana causes school shootings, even as a popular competing theory suggests guns are to blame.

    Carlson recently flipped out on Bernie Sanders because the crazy socialist suggested in this week’s debate that not only should weed pots be legalized, and people with weed pot convictions should have their records expunged, but also he wants to help racial minorities create businesses to enjoy some of the financial largesse of the newly legal industry. Reminder: we’re talking selling a product that’s already legal in 11 states. […]

    Carlson however scared his viewers with the images of black teens selling dime bags in suburban neighborhoods. In his fevered imagination, Sanders’s army of weed dealers will numb a generation of Tucker Carlsons, robbing them of a rosy future as a right-wing propagandist. They’ll just loaf around on someone’s ratty couch, smoking out like Brad Pitt in True Romance, and voting — by mail, of course — for all sorts of insidious socialist candidates and policies. […]


    Scary video available at the link.

    See comment 226 for Elizabeth Warren’s plan to legalize marijuana, and to include black communities in the benefits from economic opportunities that arise from legalization. I guess Tucker Carlson can go after her too.

  224. says

    So @ewarren had the audacity last night at the #CNNTownHall to tell the truth about @BernieSanders double standard on superdelegates rules to pick the nominee and now the vile, bad faith Bernie Bros cult + bots are saying #PrimaryWarren.

    video at the link

    In the thread following the video, many Bernie Sanders’ supporters object to Warren’s description of events. Many said that Bernie wanted to get rid of superdelegates entirely, and that letting them vote on the second ballot was a compromise.

    Commentary from Jennifer Rubin:

    […] She pointed out that Sanders’s own position had flipped 180 degrees since 2016, when he tried to solicit the help of superdelegates to prevent Hillary Clinton’s nomination. Back then, he insisted that a majority was required with the participation of superdelegates.

    Sanders’s supporter tried to deny the indisputable facts. Warren sternly corrected him and continued to admonish Sanders to play by the rules he helped draft. It was a tour de force performance: […]

    She is never going to win over the Bernie Bros who refuse to recognize reality any more than Democrats are going to win over red hat-wearing Make America Great Again fans. She can, however, win progressives who are not cultists and lure some moderates who recognize her as tough combatant, more reasonable and hence more effective than Sanders. […]

    Warren reminded us how deeply hypocritical Sanders’s approach has been. For all his kvetching about rules and unfairness, Warren is correct that his supporters worked furiously to retain the rule requiring a majority of delegates for the nomination. To now object, and to object with great moral indignation and willful misrepresentation about the sequence of events, speaks to his lack of candor and willingness to manipulate his supporters. How did the questioner come to believe, falsely, that Sanders has been consistent? Inside the Bernie Bros echo chamber, critics are liars and Sanders is the victim — always. Personality cults usually operate this way. […]

    Washington Post link

    I do not fully endorse Jennifer Rubin’s take on this.

  225. says

    From Nancy Pelosi:

    Unfortunately, up until now, the Trump administration has mounted an opaque and often chaotic response to this outbreak […]

    And now it continues to devour our health needs by ransacking other public health needs, whether it’s the Ebola fund or others.

    [Pelosi also hit at Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, who told reporters on Wednesday that the affordability of a vaccine for the disease could not be guaranteed “because we need the private sector to invest.”]

    This would a vaccine that is developed with taxpayer dollars to again, prevent, and we think that should be available to everyone, not dependent on Big Pharma..

    Lives are at stake—this is not the time for name-calling or playing politics […]

    A statement from Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer was also released at the same time. The statement included several proposals, such as the approval of new emergency funding that had not been taken from other cash reserves and ensuring that vaccines are “affordable and available to all that need it.”

    From readers comments:

    Sooner or later the GOP will get around to making fire department responses a fee for services scheme.
    Trump doesn’t seem to care how many people die or what they die from as long as someone else takes the blame.
    “The decision to put Mr. Pence in charge was made on Wednesday after the president told some people that the vice president didn’t “have anything else to do,” according to people familiar with the president’s comments.”
    Trump does think this is just a PR battle. He will do everything in his power to call attention away from the potential epidemic, and will only do what may ultimately need to be done when he absolutely cannot do anything else to avoid it and the gun is literally at his head. He is desperate to keep things from showing, and adequate measures cannot but show.

    When countries have few cases, they can follow each one, tracing contacts and isolating them. But when the disease is spreading in the community, that becomes futile. Governments need to prepare for the moment when they will switch to social distancing, which may include cancelling public events, closing schools, staggering work hours and so on.

    Pence added Larry Kudlow to the coronavirus task force. No comment.

    This just in from CNN:

    The announcement of three more persons to the Coronavirus team, they are…
    Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury
    Dr. Jerome Adams, Surgeon General of the United States
    Larry Kudlow, Director of the National Economic Council

    At least Pence didn’t add Jared Kushner to the team. Please note that the Surgeon General is not an epidemiologist.

    From Matthew Miller:

    How long until we see the first big story about the president and other political officials pressuring the CDC behind the scenes to downplay warnings about the Coronavirus? My guess is three days.

    My bet is that Trump will say, “I put Mike Pence in charge … and Mike failed.”

    From The New York Times:

    Pence Will Control All Coronavirus Messaging From Health Officials.

    Government health officials and scientists will have to coordinate statements with the vice president’s office, one of three people designated as the administration’s primary coronavirus official.

  226. says

    Whistleblower Claims Retaliation After Alleging Reckless Coronavirus Response

    The Trump administration sent a team of government officials to receive patients from the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic without adequate protection, a whistleblower reportedly alleged in a complaint.

    The unnamed whistleblower – reportedly a high-ranking female official in the Department of Health and Human Services – alleged in the complaint to the Office of Special Counsel that Trump administration officials retaliated against her after she raised concerns about the lack of protection.

    The new revelation came in reports from the Washington Post and New York Times.

    Specifically, the whistleblower reportedly raised alarm bells that a team of HHS officials sent to receive Americans returning from the coronavirus-stricken city of Wuhan, China, were not given protective gear and were not subsequently tested for the virus.

    But after the tipster – who oversees HHS’s Administration for Children and Families (ACF) – complained, officials from HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s office allegedly retaliated against her by reassigning her. She claims to have been told on Feb. 19 that if she did not accept the new position by March 5, she would be fired.

    “We are hopeful that Congress and the OSC will investigate this case in a timely and comprehensive manner,” Lauren Naylor, an attorney representing the whistleblower told TPM in a statement. “This matter concerns HHS’s response to the coronavirus, and its failure to protect its employees and potentially the public.”

    “The retaliatory efforts to intimidate and silence our client must be opposed,” she added.

    Both Naylor and another attorney representing the tipster, Ari Wilkenfeld, declined to provide TPM with a copy of the complaint.

    The allegations as reported suggest that Americans returning from Wuhan to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California, and March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, California, were greeted by ACF employees who may have been left without protection against coronavirus transmission.

    Those employees, reports say, later took commercial flights around the country.

    Career staff within HHS began to panic, according to an excerpt of the complaint cited by the New York Times. In the excerpt, the complainant said that her colleagues began to express “concerns with the lack of H.H.S. communication and coordination, staff being sent into quarantined areas without personal protective equipment, training or experience in managing public health emergencies, safety protocols and the potential danger to both themselves and members of the public they come into contact with.”

    Travis AFB is located in Solano County, California. Yesterday, the CDC confirmed the first American case of coronavirus in which the origin of the virus was unknown. That patient is from Solano County.

    Here is the New York Times link also

    Federal health employees interacted with Americans quarantined for possible exposure to the coronavirus without proper medical training or protective gear, then scattered into the general population, according to a government whistle-blower who lawmakers say faced retaliation for reporting concerns.

    The team was “improperly deployed” to two military bases in California to assist the processing of Americans who had been evacuated from coronavirus hot zones in China and elsewhere, according to a portion of a narrative account shared with Congress and obtained by The New York Times ahead of a formal complaint to the Office of the Special Counsel, an independent government agency that handles federal whistle-blower complaints.

    Staff members from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families were sent to Travis Air Force Base and March Air Reserve Base in late January and early February and were ordered to enter quarantined areas, including a hangar where coronavirus evacuees were being received, the complaint said. They were not provided safety-protocol training until five days into their assignment, said the whistle-blower, who is described as a senior leader at the health agency.

    Without proper training or equipment, some of the exposed staff members moved freely around and off the bases, with at least one person staying in a nearby hotel and leaving California on a commercial flight. Many were unaware of the need to test their temperatures three times a day. […]

  227. says

    Trump told some more lies, praised himself some more, and he generally sounded like a batshit bonkers person when he talked about the coronavirus and the government response:

    […] Trump again touted his administration’s response to the outbreak in a meeting ahead of an African American History Month reception Thursday night.

    After saying that “we’re almost all better now” and that “it would be really nice if we could be recognized by the press fairly,” Trump discussed how he delivered a “very good” and “calming” press conference on his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak Wednesday night.

    “It was a very good press conference — basically it was a calming press conference,” Trump said. “It was a press conference to say we’re doing well.” […]

    Trump also seemed to suggest that the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. would be worse if it hadn’t been for him.

    “15 people is almost, I would say, a miracle,” Trump said, referring to the amount of confirmed cases in the U.S. [There are 60, sixty, cases in the USA, that we know about now].

    […] “It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear. And from our shores, you know, it could get worse before it gets better,” Trump said. “It could maybe go away. We’ll see what happens. Nobody really knows. The fact is the greatest experts I’ve spoken to them all, nobody really knows.”

    When asked about how stocks have continued to take a significant tumble as of Thursday, Trump took the opportunity to blame the press and Democrats.

    According to a White House pool report Thursday evening, Trump said the press is “out of line” and that Democrats should not make his administration’s response to coronavirus a political issue given how the country is pulling together.

    Trump also argued that markets are factoring the possibility of a Democrat winning the presidential election “into the equation,” […]


    Video snippets available at the link.

  228. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @303:

    we’re almost all better now

    My boo-boo is covered by a band-aid now, so it’s all better.

    he delivered a “very good” and “calming” press conference

    Many may have called it “perfect”.

    the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. would be worse if it hadn’t been for him.

    Is there nothing that he won’t take credit for or pass blame to someone else?

    The fact is the greatest experts I’ve spoken to them all, nobody really knows.

    Except the “experts” he may have spoken to aren’t actually experts. Actual experts really do know how dangerous it is.

    Trump also argued that markets are factoring the possibility of a Democrat winning the presidential election “into the equation,” […]

    Yep. Because we are only a week or so away from the election. I WISH! I already mute anything where his annoying voice comes up. And he is definitely THE BEST at dumbfuckery.

  229. says

    johnson catman @ 304, yes. That’s a good summary of the situation so far.

    Today, we can add that Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, has informed everyone that the coronavirus coverage is “all about” an attempt to undermine Trump. [head/desk]

    […] At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told attendees:

    The reason you’re seeing so much attention to it today is they that think this is going to be what brings down the president. That’s what this is all about. I got a note today from a reporter saying, ‘What are you going to do today to calm the markets?’ I’m like, really, what I might do to calm the markets is tell people to turn their televisions off for 24 hours.

    Oh. So, one of the top officials in the White House believes the best way to reassure people about the virus outbreak is to encourage them to be less informed about current events. How reassuring?

    But it was that first part of Mulvaney’s quote that struck me as especially amazing. As far as the acting White House chief of staff is concerned, what this is “all about” is an elaborate attempt to undermine the president. […] the West Wing team sees less of a public-health crisis unfolding and more of a manufactured political crisis unfolding.

    Moments later at the same event, Mulvaney downplayed the severity of the coronavirus threat, arguing, “This is not Ebola…. It’s not SARS. It’s not MERS.” He added that the White House doesn’t understand the market reaction to the outbreak, comparing the coronavirus to the flu.

    But in the next breath, the top presidential aide added, in reference to the coronavirus outbreak, “Are you gonna see some schools shut down? Probably. May you see impacts on public transportation? Sure.”

    Let me see if I have this straight. There’s a potentially deadly viral outbreak, and as far as the White House is concerned, media coverage of the threat is “all about” the effort to “bring down the president.” The White House is also of the opinion that the virus is not too severe, though it’s likely to close American schools and adversely affect public transportation. […]


    PZ said in his post that “we’re gonna die.”

  230. says

    About Trump’s delusional idea that he can just rehire all the global health security experts he previously fired:

    […] Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told the Post, “You build a fire department ahead of time. You don’t wait for a fire. There is an underappreciation for the amount of time and resources required to build a prepared system.”

    Georgetown’s Don Moynihan had a good tweet along these lines the other day, adding, “I’m a public management professor: once you have gutted institutional capacity, you cannot, in fact, quickly restore it.”

    The president, who’s never shown much of an interest in how government works or is supposed to function, seems wholly unaware of all of this. It’s yet another reason to question the White House’s competence and capacity as the public-health emergency continues.


    From The Washington Post:

    Former federal officials and public-health experts argue that an effective response to a epidemiological crisis demands sustained planning and investment. While the administration’s response to coronavirus has been criticized in recent weeks as slow and disjointed, people in and outside the White House have warned for years that the nation is ill prepared for a dangerous pandemic.

  231. says

    Anthony Fauci is the top public health expert on viruses and their spread. He has been the director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a branch of NIH, since 1984.

    He was scheduled to appear on several TV shows today. Mike Pence’s office told him to cancel those appearances.

    From the Washington Post:

    Fauci is probably the most respected public health official in the United States; there is no one better equipped to explain what is happening with the coronavirus, what is likely to happen, and how we should react to it. Now, he’s been muzzled.

  232. says

    WHO raised the coronavirus threat assessment to a higher level.

    The World Health Organization on Friday increased its coronavirus risk assessment to “very high” and warned foreign governments not to underestimate the threat.

    Cases of the coronavirus have continued to spread outside China, but WHO officials said there is still a chance of containing the virus if action is taken quickly.

    “The continued increase in the number of cases, and the number of affected countries over the last few days, are clearly of concern,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday.

    In the past 24 hours, China reported 329 cases — the lowest number in more than a month. Still, the country has reported nearly 79,000 total cases of the virus to WHO, including 2,791 deaths.

    Outside China, the WHO said there are now 4,351 cases in 49 countries, and 67 deaths.

    Since yesterday, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Netherlands and Nigeria have all reported their first cases. All these cases have links to Italy. […]

    Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, said the rapid spread of the virus should be a wake-up call for the world.

    Ryan said the WHO is not trying to alarm people, but to get countries to pay attention.

    “It’s really not much of an excuse at this point to get caught unawares. We’ve been dealing with this virus for two months now,” Ryan said.

    “This is a reality check for every government on the planet: wake up, get ready, this virus may be on its way and you need to be ready. You have a duty to your citizens, you have a duty to the world to be ready.”


  233. says

    From the Washington Post:

    Fears that a coronavirus pandemic could tip the world economy into recession sent global stocks into a tailspin Friday, with markets on track for their worst week since the financial crisis that began in 2008.

    European indexes fell sharply, led by losses in the travel and resources sectors, continuing the slump in Asia earlier in the day. The Dow Jones industrial average plunged 700 points after the open. The Standard & Poor’s and Nasdaq composites dove 2.7 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield also hit a record low Friday morning.

    While there were indications that the outbreak may be slowing in China, France and Germany reported upticks in infections and South Korea’s tally surpassed 2,300, as more events were canceled and airlines said they would cut flights. In Japan, officials declared a state of emergency on the northern island of Hokkaido and told residents to stay indoors as the country reported its 10th death from covid-19, as the disease caused by the virus is known. […]

    Here are the latest developments:

    Stocks in Europe and Asia tanked […]. Swiss authorities on Friday banned all events with more than 1,000 participants until mid-March […]

    Olympic organizers indicated that they would announce plans next week to scale back the torch relay.

    An Italian man diagnosed with the virus in Nigeria marks the first confirmed instance of the virus in sub-Saharan Africa.

    […] China announced 327 new cases and 44 deaths. South Korea announced 571 new cases Friday, bringing its total to 2,337, while France and Germany confirmed new infections.

    […] Trump tweeted that the virus was spreading “very slowly in the U.S.” and suggested that his political opponents were blaming him for the outbreak. […]


  234. says

    Uh, oh. War getting worse in southern Idlib than it already is.

    Turkey vowed to escalate military action after 33 Turkish soldiers died in a Syrian strike.

    Turkey vowed Friday to escalate military actions in Idlib after 33 of its soldiers were killed in an airstrike it blamed on Syria, as the risk of a major military confrontation between Russia and Turkey in the region increased sharply.

    Russia, which said its air force was not operating in the area of the attack, accused Turkey of breaching a 2018 cease-fire deal, which limited the deployment of Turkish troops to observation points in the region.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet in Moscow next week in an effort to resolve the crisis according to Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov. The two spoke by phone Friday, according to the Kremlin. The meeting will be held March 5 or 6, Peskov said.

    The Kremlin accused Turkey’s military of failing to coordinate the position of their forces with Russian military forces in the region, a claim rejected by Hulusi Akar, Turkey’s defense minister.

    “This attack occurred even though the locations of our troops had been coordinated with Russian officials in the field,” he told reporters in Hatay, a southern Turkish province bordering Syria, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency. Akar said Turkey retaliated against Syrian forces by destroying helicopters, tanks, an air defense system and other hardware and killing more than 300 Syrian forces.

    Fahrettin Altun, a spokesman for Erdogan, indicated that Turkey’s retaliatory strikes would continue. “Our operations in Syria will continue until we have those responsible for their martyrdom pay dearly,” he wrote on Twitter.

    In a pointed message to Turkey, Russia sent two warships equipped with Kalibr cruise missiles from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean on Friday, where they will be based permanently, according to Black Sea Fleet spokesman Alexei Rulev, cited by Interfax. Russia maintains an important naval base in Tartus, Syria, a key strategic object for Russia […]

    Washington Post link

  235. says

    Elizabeth Warren proposed a bill diverting money from Trump’s racist wall to fund the coronavirus response.

    […] Warren has unveiled legislation that would divert funding from impeached president Donald Trump’s useless, expensive, and racist border fencing to combat the coronavirus outbreak, an actual public health emergency […].

    “The coronavirus outbreak poses serious health, diplomatic, and economic threats to the United States, and we must be prepared to confront it head-on,” Warren said in a statement. “Rather than use taxpayer dollars to pay for a monument to hate and division, my bill will help ensure that the federal government has the resources it needs to adequately respond to this emergency.”

    In the midst of this potential pandemic, […] Trump has failed to direct significant financial resources to his coronavirus response, […] and [Trump’s] administration is reportedly transferring $37 million to coronavirus efforts from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which funds heating for poor families.” […]

    “Currently, more than 81,000 people have contracted the coronavirus, which is highly communicable and has killed approximately 3,000 people,” Warren’s office said, noting that “officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced that Americans should ‘prepare in the expectation that [a U.S. coronavirus outbreak] will be bad’ and stated that ‘it’s not so much a question of if this will happen…but rather…a question of…when.’” […]

    “Coronavirus poses a serious health, diplomatic, and economic threat, and we must be prepared to confront it head-on,” Warren tweeted. “So I’m introducing a bill to transfer all funding for Donald Trump’s racist border wall to HHS and USAID to combat coronavirus.”


  236. says

    Ted Cruz versus Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

    […] After spending Thursday afternoon at the ultra-conservative CPAC conference telling the audience that Democrats are “elitist” and look down on Republican voters, Ted Cruz used Twitter to act like an elitist asshole, questioning AOC’s scientific knowledge with a level of smugness that oozed through the screen.

    Link to Jen Hayden’s article


    Mike Pence literally does not believe in science.

    It is utterly irresponsible to put him in charge of US coronavirus response as the world sits on the cusp of a pandemic.

    This decision could cost people their lives. Pence’s past decisions already have.


    As you are speaking as the oracle of science, tell us, what exactly is a Y chromosome?

    From Jen Hayden:

    You see, Ted Cruz loves to bash on AOC because she’s a former bartender. He assumes she doesn’t know anything about science. In fact, AOC won numerous awards for her scientific work, specifically her work in microbiology. And she struck back so hard at Ted Cruz that I could hear the slap landing all the way in my living room in Kansas City.


    Sen. Cruz, while I understand you judge people’s intelligence by the lowest income they’ve had, I hold awards from MIT Lincoln Lab & others for accomplishments in microbiology.

    Secondly, I’m surprised you’re asking about chromosomes given that you don’t even believe in evolution.

    an Intel global finalist,
    a fmr multi-year intern for Sen. Kennedy,
    a cum laude dual major in Economics & International Relations,
    a fmr Educational Director for national organization,
    Who to you is “just a bartender,”
    And also your colleague.

    Link to adorable photo of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez presented a science fair project.

  237. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 312

    As you are speaking as the oracle of science, tell us, what exactly is a Y chromosome?

    I’m trying to decode the purpose of Cruz’s reply, and I’ve getting some sexist (i.e. “Men have Y chromosomes and you don’t, so shut up little lady and leave the science to the penis-havers.” and/or transphobic (i.e. “If you know what Y chromosomes then why do you know that there are only TWO SEXES!!!”) intent off of it. Either way it’s a creepy non-sequitur, but listening to right-wingers rant and rave (particularly my father) they have this strange tendency to go off on tangents that have NOTHING to do with the matter at hand: One minute my father will start shouting about gun control, then go off on climate change before screaming about legal abortion, and finally landing on Islamic terrorism.

    I wouldn’t call it a “Gish Gallop” because they aren’t trying to change the subject as they think it’s all somehow connected.

  238. says

    Akira @313, I’ve noticed that too. It’s as if all of the bad, unfounded ideas are stewing in one big cauldron in their heads.

    In other news, team Trump is making noises about additional corporate tax breaks — a promise they are making if/when Trump gets elected to a second term.

    In other, other news, the Trump administration lost two immigration cases in court today.

    A federal appeals court on Friday delivered two blows to the Trump administration’s immigration policy, ruling against a program to force migrants seeking asylum to wait in Mexico and against a rule severely limiting the number of migrants who were eligible for asylum.

    In a long-awaited decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to reinstate a block on the policy forcing migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. to wait in Mexico while their cases play out. The court also ruled 3-0 to uphold a block on a rule seeking to bar asylum eligibility from migrants who cross the border between ports of entry.

    In the remain-in-Mexico case, the court said it concluded the policy, known formally as the Migrant Protection protocols, or MPP, “was invalid in its entirety” due to inconsistencies with the law and should be “enjoined in its entirety.”

    “The court has finally affirmed what we always knew to be the case, that the provision on which the government is relying does not apply to asylum-seekers. Full stop,” Melissa Crow, senior supervising attorney at the SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project, told NBC News.

    In the other case, the court said it upheld an injunction against a policy that “strips asylum eligibility from every migrant who crosses into the United States between designated ports of entry.”

    “Once again the courts have recognized there is tremendous danger facing asylum seekers along the entire southern border, and that the administration cannot unilaterally rewrite the laws,” said American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Gelernt in a statement […]

    “The ruling is a really big deal,” said Jessica Bolter, associate policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute. “But it’s unclear how long it will be in effect. The government will likely appeal it to the Supreme Court.” […]

    Bolter said the court’s decision did not directly address what would happen to the tens of thousands of people already in Mexico. […]

    NBC News link

    Yeah, so team Trump will probably run to the Supreme Court again … and people stranded in terrible conditions in Mexico still do not know what will happen to them.

  239. says

    Pompeo continues to be a pompous, lying asshat:

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continued to toe the Trump administration line in a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Friday, this time leading him to refuse to deny that coronavirus is a “hoax.”

    Pompeo’s non-denial […] came under questioning from Rep. Ted Lieu, who asked the country’s top diplomat whether he believed that the coronavirus is the “hoax of the day.”

    “The State Department is doing everything it can to protect American citizens around the world,” Pompeo replied, dismissing the question as “a gotcha moment, it’s not useful.”

    I think that question is useful when you consider that many Trump supporters online, and many conservative media hosts, have propagated the conspiracy theory that the virus is a hoax.

    Lieu raised the question at a hearing devoted to Trump administration policy towards Iran. Multiple lawmakers used the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in the Islamic republic as a springboard to question Pompeo about the Trump administration’s response to the virus.

    Lieu referenced comments made by Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney that the press is covering the coronavirus outbreak due to the end of the impeachment “hoax.”

    “The reason you’re seeing so much attention to it today is that they think this is what’s going to bring down the President,” Mulvaney said at CPAC on Friday morning. “That’s what this is all about.”

    Lieu slightly mischaracterized Mulvaney’s remarks, asking Pompeo if he agreed with Mulvaney that “the coronavirus is the hoax of the day.”

    “I’m not gonna comment on what others are saying,” Pompeo replied. “I’m just telling you what the secretary of state is doing.”

    Lieu then asked Pompeo if he was going to leave the hearing to speak at CPAC.

    “So you can only give two hours to this bipartisan group of members of Congress and instead of answering questions on life and death issues from a bipartisan group of representatives you’re gonna go talk to a special interest group?” Lieu asked.

    “Yes,” Pompeo replied.

    Lieu’s fulmination and Pompeo’s dismissive stonewalling characterized much of the hearing, as Democrats assailed Pompeo for only giving the House two hours of his time.

    Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) recalled Pompeo “thundering away” at a predecessor of his — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — during the Benghazi hearings.

    “I can remember vividly, you thundering away at Secretary Clinton during the Benghazi hearing,

    “You know what? She showed up voluntarily, sat there for 11 hours. But with you, sir, we had to move heaven and earth to get you here today for just two hours,” Meeks said. “To me that shows disregard for the oversight responsibilities of the United States Congress.”


  240. says

    Which candidate would you trust to manage a Cover-19 epidemic?

    Elizabeth Warren is offered as an answer.

    […] Warren in a heartbeat. She is highly intelligent, mentally sharp, focused, experienced, compassionate, honest, able to manage complicated projects, and has a will of iron. […]


  241. says

    Followup to comment 315.

    Readers commented on the TPM article:

    How about asking about Pompeo’s decision to overrule the CDC on bringing infected and non-infected people back on the same plane? Would he have put his child on that plane?
    Pompeo behaves as though these people listed below provide his firewall from any accountability:

    All of the above work either IN or ADJACENT to the Lawyer-Shyster World. A world in which “reality” can be made to shift depending on which way the Corruption goes.

    This is a pandemic-potential event which is much different.
    They don’t even know how to begin, or have sufficient knowledgeable members left to guide them. Trump’s MO from the beginning has been to kneecap every single government agency that exists to serve the greater good.

  242. says

    Trump and His Allies Are Pushing an Outrageous Coronavirus Conspiracy Theory

    As the world scrambles to contain the deadly coronavirus outbreak—which as of Friday has infected at least 83,000 people in 53 countries—[…] Trump and his allies are busy pushing the conspiratorial narrative that press coverage of the epidemic is aimed at destroying him. […]

    The effort first started Monday when Trump—without evidence—accused the media and Democrats of hyping the coronavirus in order to make the situation look “as bad as possible” and tank the stock market. Since that tweet, Trump’s allies and conservative news personalities have followed suit. Here’s former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) on Laura Ingraham’s show Thursday night […]

    Grabbing the baton the next morning, Pete Hegseth echoed the message on Fox & Friends, though he insisted he was doing so only reluctantly.

    “I don’t want to say this, I don’t relish the reality, but you start to feel—watch the Democrats, watch the media—like they’re rooting for coronavirus to spread,” Hegseth said on Friday. “I don’t say that flippantly, but they’re rooting for it to grow, they’re rooting for the problem to get worse, they’re rooting for mysteries, unknown cases, quarantines, towns, for it to become an absolute national crisis for one reason and one reason alone.”

    But the conspiracy theory extends well beyond the walls of Fox News. On Friday, during an appearance at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney accused the media of exploiting the virus to hurt Trump.

    “The reason you’re seeing so much attention to it today is that they think, ‘This is going to be what brings down the president.’ That’s what this is all about,” he told the audience. Mulvaney also repeated Trump’s efforts to downplay the threat. “It’s not a death sentence, it’s not the same as the Ebola crisis.” […]

    If you’re wondering if the coronavirus could soon warp into a 2020 rallying cry, well, Team Trump already has it covered: “They’re whipping up hysteria just to hurt @RealDonaldTrump!”

  243. says

    Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer:

    For Mick Mulvaney to suggest that Americans turn off their TVs and bury their heads in the sand when they’re worried about a global health pandemic is Orwellian, counterproductive, dangerous, and would be repeating China’s mistake.

    President Trump and his team have to stop blaming everyone but themselves, focus less on political rallies and more on solutions to combat the spread of coronavirus.

  244. says

    Today, a sixth passenger from the Diamond Princess cruise ship has died of coronavirus.

    More than 700 passengers and crew on that ship tested positive for the virus.

  245. says

    From Wonkette:

    Fox News has been really big on warning its viewers there’s an epidemic out there: an outbreak of terrible Democrats trying to destroy Donald Trump by claiming the administration is not up to speed on handling the coronavirus outbreak.

    On “Fox & Friends” this morning, proud non-hand-washer Pete Hegseth told viewers Democrats are “rooting for coronavirus to spread” so it will harm Trump’s re-election campaign, because that’s just how insane and evil they are. […]

    Hegseth went on to say what America really needs to do is to come together and start “pointing the finger exactly where it should be, which is at China, which has not contained this […] and that’s become something we should all agree on” […]

    The same basic point was pushed by Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, (acting) chief of staff, and the newest member of the coronavirus task force, who explained at CPAC today that the administration actually ended coronavirus last month by stopping flights from China, but nobody noticed, you see.

    “Why didn’t you hear about it? What was still going on four or five weeks ago? Impeachment, and that’s all the press wanted to talk about” […]

    “The press was covering their hoax of the day because they thought it would bring down the president,” Mulvaney concluded. “The reason you’re seeing so much attention to [the coronavirus] today is that they think this is going to be what brings down the president. That’s what this is all about.”

    Wow, we’d have sworn we actually saw a trial and everything, but apparently even that was a hoax, just like the coronavirus! […]

    Mulvaney went on to explain that the best way to calm the record stock market downturn sparked by fears of the epidemic’s economic impact would be to just ignore the virus so it will have time to go away, possibly through the “miracle” Donald Trump predicted yesterday. […]

    Not that you’d want to watch anything but Fox News anyway, where the coverage has focused on the evil Democrats trying to scare people about the virus to hurt Donald Trump, and of course where Tucker Carlson has been blaming the disease on foreign people and diversity. […]

    Just today, Fox had the Hegseth bit, as well as another “Fox & Friends” segment where Donald Trump Jr. agreed Dems “seemingly hope that it comes here, and kills millions of people so they can end Donald Trump’s streak of winning,” calling that a “new level of sickness,” because duh, anyone who opposes Trump is evil and wants people to get sick. He even added a very funny joke! “I don’t know if this is coronavirus or Trump Derangement Syndrome, but these people are infected badly.” […]

  246. Akira MacKenzie says

    Lynna @ 318

    If you’re wondering if the coronavirus could soon warp into a 2020 rallying cry, well, Team Trump already has it covered: “They’re whipping up hysteria just to hurt @RealDonaldTrump!”

    Heh heh… Funny you should quote that, but I was just accused today of “spreading lies and sowing discord” by a Trump-cultist on FB. I should except to be called far worse by year’s end.

  247. Akira MacKenzie says

    ADDENDUM: Dear god, am I really paranoid enough to fear that this potential outbreak could be Trump’s Reichstag Fire?

  248. says

    Some examples of the bullshit that is being fed to the hyper-conservative audience at CPAC:

    At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) yesterday, an orthopedic surgeon named Dr. David Schneider terrified a crowd full of, well, the kind of people who go to CPAC, by telling them Princess Diana was killed by socialized medicine […]

    “Socialized medicine killed Princess Diana,” the announcer revealed before asking one of the panelists to explain why.

    “Princess Diana was in the car accident in France,” Dr. David Schneider, an orthopedic surgeon, told the crowd. “They actually don’t have any trauma specialists in France.”

    “For the first hour after that accident, she was still in that tunnel,” he continued. “And after an hour, they took her to a nearby hospital and she was alive for another three hours and they couldn’t control the bleeding from her pulmonary artery.”

    According to Schneider, “there were no trauma trained people there.”

    “I really believe, knowing what I know about her care and comparing it to what Congressman Scalise had, Princess Diana would have lived had that accident happened here in America,” he concluded.

    It should not shock you to know that this is not at all what happened. Even sort of.

    First of all, ambulances in France are different from ambulances in the United States. There is a doctor on them and they are equipped to deal with emergency life-saving situations in a way ambulances here are not. In fact, very often, a French ambulance will come and take care of an emergency without needing to bring the person to the actual emergency room, leaving the triage line shorter for those whose emergencies absolutely necessitate an ER visit.

    Second, yes, there are not “trauma specialists” in France, but that is because every surgeon is a “trauma specialist” in his or her area of expertise.

    France, by the way, is consistently rated as having one of the best health care systems in the world by the World Health Organization (WHO). Meanwhile, over 30 million Americans live more than an hour away from the closest trauma center and the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine estimates that one in six trauma deaths in the United States could have been prevented had the patient been able to get to a trauma center faster. So we’re no great shakes either on that front.

    Regarding Princess Diana’s death in particular, while the authors of a 1998 book made similar claims to Dr. Schneider, they have since rescinded that theory — after talking to an actual trauma specialist:

    In the 1998 book, “Death of a Princess,” Time magazine reporters Thomas Sancton and Scott MacLeod were critical of the French system, arguing that Diana could have been saved in a hospital operating room. [French government emergency service Service d’Aide Médicale d’Urgence, or SAMU] was so upset with the indictment, according to the authors, that they threatened to sue.

    But Sancton and MacLeod later rescinded their theory, based on evaluations of the medical records, in a 2004 Vanity Fair piece on the British inquest into Diana’s death.

    “I have actually revised my conclusions based on a fascinating series of interviews with a trauma specialist in Houston,” Sancton wrote in an e-mail to “The bottom line is, whatever the merits or demerits of the French emergency medical system, poor Diana was a goner from the beginning because of the particular nature of her deceleration injury.”

    Of course, Dr. David Schneider is far from the only person at CPAC confused about socialism. In a conversation with GOP Senator Marsha Blackburn, fellow GOP Senator Joni Ernst explained her fear that if we give everyone healthcare, we will end up with no refrigerators or running water.

    “I had the opportunity to go on an agriculture exchange to the Soviet Union. I lived on a collective farm, where my family had no running water, they were farming with horses and wagons on the collective, they had no refrigerator, they had no automobile. They shared one bicycle amongst all the family members,” Ernst said. “That was socialism, folks, living in poverty. If that’s what we’re striving for as the United States, I’m not having any of it.” […]

    Yeah, so, the Soviet Union was not a socialist country. It wasn’t even quite a communist country, at least not the way communism was envisioned. It was an authoritarian dictatorship that called itself a communist country. If anything, it was actually an example of state capitalism. […]

    Socialism encompasses a variety of different ideas and systems. Every country on earth is a mixed economy — meaning that there are elements of socialism and capitalism in every economy. The United States is a mixed economy. Right now, the economies providing more opportunities — the economies that are actually helping people achieve “The American Dream” — are countries that lean a little further on the socialism side than does the United States. […]

    It’s not as if we are shielded from the rest of the world. We know people in all these other countries can all have their own bicycles and even their own toothbrushes! We know there are people living in poverty in the United States. Some of us think those people should be less miserable. That is it! Like, we’re not trying to take your bicycle or your collection of bronzed hog testicles away, Joni Ernst. We just want people to be able to get sick and see a doctor and not lose their house.

    Of course, there is a very valid counterpoint to everything I am saying here. And that is the theory brought forth by none other than Diamond and Silk yesterday, that the last four letters of Democrats ends in the word “rats” and that the last four letters of “Republican” are “I can.” […]


  249. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 324

    It’s not as if we are shielded from the rest of the world.

    We, the educated and intellectually curious, might not be shielded from the rest of the world, but I’m absolutely certain the rank-and-file American conservative lives in a sperate realty of their own. Many of them live in small, insular, rural communities surrounded with people just like them where the most important two people in the town are the police chief/sheriff and the local pastor. They’ve been raised to mistrust the outside world with it’s secularism and intellectual elitism and will dismiss any “facts” they didn’t hear on their daddy’s knee, from their pastor’s sermons, or from the list of “approved” right-wing media personalities from which they get what they loosely call “news.” To them, the world begins and ends at the town line and that border ought to have a sign that warns all those who would dare pass it “Here, there be Leftists.”

  250. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 324

    Of course, there is a very valid counterpoint to everything I am saying here. And that is the theory brought forth by none other than Diamond and Silk yesterday, that the last four letters of Democrats ends in the word “rats” and that the last four letters of “Republican” are “I can.” […]

    Really? The author thinks that a stupid play-on-spelling from a pair of Black sellouts that illustrates the callous, Randite, bootstrapery that results in the aforementioned sick people losing their houses to be a “valid counterpoint.”

    I hope they’re joking. If not, they’re a fucking fool.

  251. says

    Akira @326, I’m sure that was joke. Satire. Diamond and Silk are the worst. And that’s the level of discourse at CPAC. It’s meme-making, and simplistic marketing that is trump-ish in nature. It doesn’t have to be right, nor meaningful, it just has to be easily remembered.

    In other news, Trump has scored a win in his fight with the House of Congress over a subpoena of Don McGahn.

    A federal appeals court in D.C. gave […] Trump a major legal win on Friday by refusing to enforce the House’s subpoena of former White House Counsel Don McGahn.

    The majority opinion said that the court agreed with the Justice Department’s argument “that Article III of the Constitution forbids federal courts from resolving this kind of interbranch information dispute.”

    Ruling in the Trump administration’s favor were Judges Thomas Griffith and Karen Henderson, both appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals by President George W. Bush. Judge Judith Rogers, a Clinton appointee, dissented from the ruling.

    Trump’s victory comes amid his unprecedented war against Congress’ oversight of his conduct. While so far he’s mostly lost in the courts, the slow pace of the judicial system has allowed him to stymie much of the Democratic-controlled House’s investigations into him. An appeal to the full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which leans liberal, is likely, and the case could end up before the Supreme Court, which is already reviewing the House’s subpoena of Trump’s financial records. […]

    Though the court noted that the “the legal issue in this case is quite narrow,” the court worried about unending “judicial entanglements.”

    “If the Committee can enforce this subpoena in the courts, chambers of Congress (and their duly authorized committees) can enforce any subpoena,” the court said.

    The court speculated that if it had ordered McGahn to show up to testify, it would just prompt another legal battle over executive privilege.

    “The walk from the Capitol to our courthouse is a short one, and if we resolve this case today, we can expect Congress’s lawyers to make the trip often,” the court said.

    It pointed to other “tools” Congress has available to force compliance with its subpeonas, including withholding funding, blocking appointments or even impeachment. […]

    “Congress can wield these political weapons without dragging judges into the fray,” the court said. […]

    TPM link

  252. says

    Readers commented on the article featured @327.

    the en banc D.C. Circuit still has a 7-4 majority for the good guys. I pretty much expect the court to grant en banc review and flip today’s dumb result.
    Someone needs to tell these two judges about U.S. v. Nixon. They seem to be unaware of it.
    Bottom line, I think, is that if HJC can’t go to court to enforce subpoenas then it is left with its inherent powers to lock them the F up in the broom closet.
    Laying bare the bald-faced lie of every single GOP senator (and not a few Pelosi-bashing TPM posts) that “The House should’ve waited for the courts to resolve subpoena disputes before rushing forward with impeachment!”
    Silver lining? Maybe it actually gives Congress the right and authority to enforce its own subpoenas via the Capital Police and the Criminal Justice System.

    If the party does not comply, then they get arrested and go to jail and are charged with criminal contempt.

    If Congress cannot appeal to the courts to enforce a subpoena, then the subpoenaed party should not be able to either.
    It seems to me that this gives the House the right to enforce their own subpoenas immediately and without having to go to court or adjudicate through the Justice Department.

    If you don’t show up, then the Capital Police come and get you.
    There are 3 types of contempt charges; civil, criminal,and inherent. Civil can take years going through lesser courts. Criminal goes to the JD,aka Barr. Inherent is the only one Congress wholly owns
    It’s just that there are rules and guides about which disputes the courts should decide and which ones they should avoid.

    But even given those rules, this panel of judges made the wrong decision.
    Henderson and Griffiths are Bush hacks. Really, really flaky ruling, and contrary to Supreme Court authority. I am really surprised to see the degree to which certain Republican Judges will basically whore for Trump.

    This will be overturned on banc by the DC Cir (and the more honorable Bush Judges will reverse this as well) and I don’t see Roberts accepting this ruling.

  253. says

    Far Right Pizzagater Mike Cernovich Injects Self Into Bid For Roger Stone Juror Info

    Far-right blogger Mike Cernovich demanded access to the questionnaire answers of the jury foreperson in the Roger Stone prosecution, a court filing revealed on Friday shows.

    Cernovich asked U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson to allow him to join the case as an intervenor in order to obtain access to the questionnaire answers. She has not yet ruled on his request.

    Cernovich apparently wished to follow up on whatever notoriety he gained from publicizing the juror’s Twitter account, by demanding access to her questionnaire answers.

    The request first came on Feb. 20, with the pizzagate propagator and self-described “constitutional law scholar” saying that the foreperson’s “public conduct has raised grave constitutional concerns regarding the fairness of the jury trial in the instant matter.”

    The President and his allies have tried to discredit the guilty verdict of Stone, a longtime Trump adviser, by claiming that the jury foreperson was biased due to social media posts and an earlier attempt she had made to run for office as a Democrat. The allegation ignores the fact that the juror disclosed her political affiliations during jury selection, as required, and that partisan political beliefs do not disqualify one from serving on a jury.

    Cernovich played a key, early role in propagating the allegations against the juror. He first publicized tweets that the foreperson had made, and angrily tweeted about her affiliation with the Democratic Party; all of which later made it onto Fox News.

    President Trump then jumped on the allegation of “bias,” attacking the foreperson on Twitter by citing Fox News reports about the juror.

    […] Cernovich argues that “the public has a constitutional right to know whether public trials are being conducted consistently with constitutional requirements ”

    “Mr. Cernovich’s vigorous and conscientious journalism has raised significant questions as to whether Mr. Stone received a fair jury trial,” the right-wing provocateur added about himself.

    The bid for document access is taking place after Judge Berman Jackson sentenced Stone to 40 months behind bars on charges of obstruction, witness tampering, and lying to Congress.

    Stone pushed for a retrial by claiming that the jury foreperson was biased. Judge Berman Jackson held a hearing on Wednesday in which she hauled in jurors on the case, showing that Stone’s claims were groundless.

    Cernovich concluded in an affidavit attached to the filing that he had not consulted with anyone in making the request. […]

  254. says

    “HOW IRAN BECAME A NEW EPICENTER OF THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK” — an article written for The New Yorker by Robin Wright:

    Iran’s deputy health minister, Iraj Harirchi, was pale and drenched in sweat during a press conference on Monday as he told reporters that the Islamic Republic had “almost stabilized” the country’s outbreak of coronavirus. […] Harirchi dismissed as hype an Iranian lawmaker’s claim that fifty people had already died from covid-19. “I will resign if the numbers are even half or a quarter of this,” he said, adding that Iran had only sixty-one confirmed cases, with twelve deaths. Iran opposed quarantines, he said, because they belonged to an era before the First World War—“to the plague, cholera, stuff like that.” The next day, Harirchi confirmed in a video—from quarantine—that he had contracted coronavirus.

    Iran, a country of eighty-three million people, has now become one of the global epicenters of the coronavirus—with the highest mortality rate in the world. Based on official numbers, the mortality rate in Iran has fluctuated daily, between eight and eighteen per cent, compared to three per cent in China and less everywhere else. Iran is also unique, because a disproportionate number of confirmed cases are senior government officials. On Thursday, the Vice-President, Masoumeh Ebtekar—who gained fame in 1979 as Sister Mary, the spokeswoman for the students who seized the U.S. Embassy and took fifty-two Americans hostage—announced that she, too, had contracted the coronavirus. The day before, she had attended a meeting with President Hassan Rouhani and his cabinet. Two members of parliament, including the chairman of the Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy, have also been infected, as has the mayor of a district in Tehran and a senior cleric who had served as Iran’s Ambassador to the Vatican. One of the lawmakers, Mahmoud Sadeghi, tweeted on Tuesday, “I send this message in a situation where I have little hope of surviving in this world.” The former Vatican Ambassador, who was eighty-one, died on Thursday. So did Elham Sheikhi, a member of the women’s national soccer team, who was twenty-two.

    Iran’s official counts—three hundred and eighty-eight confirmed cases and thirty-four deaths, as of Friday—may be grossly underreported. In an early analysis published on Monday, six Canadian epidemiologists calculated that Iran probably had more than eighteen thousand cases of coronavirus. […]

    The outbreak appears to have started in Qom, the conservative city of Shiite seminaries run by leading ayatollahs, about two hours from Tehran. […] The first mention of the disease by the government was a report of two deaths in the city on February 19th. Initial reports indicate that the carrier of the virus may have been a merchant who travelled between Qom and Wuhan […]The outbreak is estimated to have begun between three and six weeks ago, which would mean that the two Iranians who died could have been sick and infecting others for weeks.

    […] Cases traced back to Iran have been reported in Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Canada, Georgia, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates […]

    “It was the political decision that led to this outbreak in Iran,” Alaei said. “It’s very unfortunate, as Iran has a very well-established infrastructure for the health system and well-educated doctors.” Alaei was imprisoned in 2008 for “communicating with the enemy,” running espionage rings, and trying to “launch a velvet revolution” against the government in Tehran. He spent thirty months in the notorious Evin Prison. He moved to the United States after his release. […]

    The timing of the epidemic is particularly dire for Iran’s economy. As part of President Trump’s “maximum-pressure campaign,” the U.S. reimposed economic sanctions on Iran […] “The Middle East region will certainly be hit by a new round of downward pressure on oil prices on account of a decline in demand for oil by China and elsewhere,” he added. And China has accounted for a quarter of all Iranian trade. […]

    Iran took steps this week to check the contagion’s spread. In Tehran’s subways, cars were disinfected and snack shops were shut. In more than a dozen provinces, public venues—college campuses, schools, and cultural centers—were closed. Events drawing large audiences, including soccer games and movie screenings, were postponed. Friday prayers were cancelled in the twenty-four provinces where the virus has appeared. Schools across Iran will be closed for three days, as of Saturday. […]

    The ailing deputy health minister was more candid. “I’m saying this deep from my heart . . . take care of yourselves,” Harirchi said in a video that he posted from quarantine. “This is a democratic virus, and it doesn’t distinguish between poor and rich, statesman and an ordinary citizen. It may infect a number of people.” In the Islamic Republic, that number may be frighteningly large.


    More at the link.

  255. says

    lotharloo @331, thanks for that link. The story reveals Matthews to be über creepy. It also sounds like he is one of those guys who thinks that a woman will be grateful when he puts his attention on her appearance.

  256. says

    The first death in the USA from coronavirus has been confirmed. It’s in Washington state.

    One person who was infected with COVID-19, aka the coronavirus, in Washington state has died, the Washington Department of Health reported on Saturday.

    Jamie Nixon, the department’s public information officer, confirmed the death to TPM over the phone.

    The circumstances of the patient’s infection is currently unknown.

    […] Trump is scheduled to give a briefing on the situation […]


    We can’t trust Trump. Just last night, at a rally in South Carolina, Trump called the seriousness with which others are taking the coronavirus a “hoax.”

  257. says

    Followup to comment 333.

    Here is what Trump said at his campaign rally in North Charleston, South Carolina last night:

    […] Trump accused Democrats of “politicizing” the disease by criticizing his shoddy handling of the outbreak.

    “One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia. That didn’t work out too well. They couldn’t do it. They tried the impeachment hoax,’” he told the crowd, saying that “it’s all turning.”

    Then Trump declared: “And this is their new hoax.”

    He added that he and his administration “did something that’s been pretty amazing” in response to the 15 cases of the virus in the U.S.

    “We have 15 people in this massive country, and because of the fact that we went early, we went early, we could’ve had a lot more than that,” he said. […]

    TPM link

    Video is available at the link. He is still lying about the number of cases in the U.S.

  258. says

    Followup to comment 334.

    Readers comments on the TPM article:

    Trump needs to expose himself and his lackeys to the Coronavirus to “prove” it’s a hoax created by the Democrats.
    “10 more years, a crowd at President Trump’s South Carolina rally just started chanting.

    Trump: We’ll set the term limit at 25 years and said Senator Lindsey Graham will help get it passed.
    A 10 year term is perfect for Trump. In prison.

    From Ted Lieu:

    If you think Democrats worked with the entire world on a “new hoax” to take down @realDonaldTrump, then yes I think you are stupid. I disrespect you and believe you are part of a cult.

    Lives are at stake. Not everything is about Trump. Take your head out of the sand.

  259. says

    Democratic candidates have criticized the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus crisis, but so far only one of them has stepped up to offer a comprehensive plan designed to minimize the impact of the virus in the USA: Elizabeth Warren.

    […] That’s right, Warren has a plan for that. In fact, she had it nearly a month ago, and now she has also introduced legislation to redirect funding for Donald Trump’s useless border wall toward combating the virus. But the current public health crisis facing the nation has brought into relief just how critical it is that we put someone in the Oval Office who actually knows what they’re doing and who cares about the well-being of the country. Having a plan isn’t just a gimmick, folks, it’s essential. And Warren has proven again and again that she has both the vision to identify solutions and the chops to actually enact them in Washington.

    […] she created a whole federal agency from scratch at a time when Republicans’ sole mission in life was to block everything President Obama tried to do. Frankly, neither party was super enthused about the CFPB, but Warren managed to push it through anyway. As Markos noted this week, “She created a federal agency! Who does that? Warren does that.”

    But there’s other examples. At a CNN town hall Wednesday night, Warren was asked if she “truly believed” she could bring the parties together to solve problems if elected, “particularly with a Republican-led Senate?”

    “Not only do I believe I can do it, I have done it,” Warren responded. Since Trump has been elected, she said, she’s gotten about a dozen bills passed. Then she focused in on one bill she championed that will make it possible to buy over-the-counter hearings aids at an extremely reduced rate. According to Warren, hearing loss affects about 40 million Americans but only about one in six of those affected can afford to buy hearing aids, which typically cost about $5,000 out of pocket per pair. Why, she remembered wondering, were hearing aids so expensive when an iPhone offers much more functionality but costs considerably less?

    After researching the issue, she realized lobbyists for the hearing aid industry had managed to keep supply down and prices sky high. So she created a bill and, one by one, called up Republican senators to pitch them on legislation to reduce the costs of hearing aids and make them available for purchase over the counter. Her first three calls, in fact, were to Republican lawmakers, all of whom liked the idea and signed on. Sure, they wanted some tweaks here and there, which was just fine by her.

    “The point is, I built it and did it under the radar screen because that was the right way to do that one,” she explained. “No fanfare, not try to make it fancy, don’t need any headlines.”

    […] “Let’s just get it done,” she said. And she did. That bill has already been signed into law by Donald Trump, and next year people who experience hearing loss will have more affordable options […]

    Now, compare that to a story that Warren supporter Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), told just this week on Sirius XM about working with Sen. Bernie Sanders on a bill. In 2015, Green and his colleagues previewed to Sanders a newly completed PCCC-commissioned poll showing sweeping public support for a number of progressive issues. [snipped details of the failures]

    To Bernie Sanders’ great credit, he has been a man ahead of his time for much of his life, championing the same issues he has this election cycle for almost half a century. Sanders has been key to moving the conversation left. In some ways, the times finally caught up to him. But as good a messenger as he is on issues of fairness, equality, and economic justice, he’s not a doer, he’s a talker.

    […] Some voters wonder whether Warren still has a path to the nomination. She does but it’s very slim. Her strategy is clearly to emerge from Super Tuesday as one of the top three candidates alongside Sanders and Biden. After that, the campaign would battle state by state in order to make Warren a contender at a brokered convention—a situation that plays to her strengths. […]

    All of the Democratic candidates have liabilities to overcome, and all of them are also electable if they’re willing to bring the party together, build coalitions, and welcome all comers into the fight for our democracy.

    Warren—through grit, hard work, and tenacity—has proven time and again throughout her career to be that coalition-builder who rolls up her sleeves, does the hard work, and delivers. She’s the planner, the fighter, and the doer America needs in the White House.


    More at the link.

    See also Warren Offers Infectious-Disease Plan Amid Coronavirus Outbreak posted on the site.

  260. says

    Excerpts from a live blog of Trump’s press conference about coronavirus:

    […] Trump is about to appear for a second press event on the coronavirus after announcing the event on Twitter just over an hour ago. On Friday evening, Trump called the virus “the new hoax” at a political rally in South Carolina. As might be expected … Trump is late to the press event that he called. […]

    Trump starts off congratulating the negotiating team in Afghanistan. I hate to think that he’s getting out of Afghanistan as a distraction from an even bigger looming disaster … but at least we seem to be getting out.

    […] Trump reassures America that our remaining forces in Afghanistan will go on killing. So … don’t worry about that. Now Trump is talking about getting rid of “100% of ISIS.”

    All of this sounds like very much not wanting to talk about the topic at hand.

    […] Trump finally begins talking about the corona … virus.

    Trump now says “we have 22 patients in the United States” which is still not close to right, before pulling back out the “15” who are “recovered or very close to recovered.”

    Trump: “Other cases are likely, but healthy individuals should be able to recover, if they contract the virus. So, healthy people, if you’re healthy … you’ll be fine.”

    Trump now explaining how he “moved early” and his actions were “a life saver.” Says everyone agrees his decision was “a wise one” even though there “was a lot of opposition.”

    Except, of course, there wasn’t.

    Trump says his actions are “the most aggressive taken by any country.” Which is so … if you ignored everything everyone else has done.

    Especially the testing of thousands of people in South Korea, the quarantines in Italy, etc.

    Trump seems to be doing nothing here but trying to put a good spin on his actions to date … which is to be expected. But the slow, sloggy cereal pace of this is surprising.

    Pence is apparently going to get the job of explaining any bad news.

    Pence just backdated the White House Coronavirus task force by two months.

    Pence is lying.

    Travel restriction added on Iran … which wasn’t a thing anyway, dammit. Raising advisories to “specific regions” of Italy and South Korea. Which is also not a damn thing.

    Everything that Pence announced was incredibly weak tea. There seems to be no reason for this press conference so far, other than to allow Trump to mumble his way through another attempt to apply some spin to the story.

    Oh yes, and America has purchased a whole bunch of masks, says Trump. And you don’t need one, says Pence.

    Azar gets his chance to talk to follow Pence in explaining how Trump, by doing very little, is doing so, so much. Also, remember that most people will be okay. But … not everyone, so “as we’ve always said.”

    What has no one said here?

    No one has said that additional hospital beds are being planned.
    No one has said that the government will pick up the cost of testing.
    No one has expressed any concern for rural areas with little/no access to health care.

    Absolutely the only steps they’re adding is a “travel restriction” on Iran, that does nothing. And two “advisories” to people traveling to Italy and South Korea.

    That’s a remarkably weak response.

    Trump says that Democrats are committing the “hoax” by … something … claims that Democrats are criticizing “these people.” Without naming a person, or an action.

    Trump is asked if Fauci is being “muzzled.” Trump accuses reporter of asking a “very dishonest question.” Fauci says it was a misunderstanding of his withdrawing from some television appearances.

    Trumps says “we are strongly” looking at closing the southern border. Because … hell, who knows? Mexico has 3 recorded cases. The rest of Central America zero.

    Trump again says he was using “hoax” about what Democrats were saying — and again doesn’t say what anyone said that was a hoax.

    Fauci asked to give the facts about fatality — says about 75-80% of cases in China had symptoms of cold or flu. Another 15-20% needed hospital care. Says that most people who die from this will be at “advanced age” or have underlying conditions, but there will be some people who don’t fit that profile.

    Trump using the “waiting for the IG report” on why he didn’t nominate Ratcliffe for DNI. Again. Even though the IG report came out weeks before Maguire was sacked.

    Trump asked if he is considering taking measures similar to China. Trump seems super focused on the fact that Apple and Starbucks are open again there so … all good.

    Trump praises Xi, and says he is considering some of the same measures, without specifying. Time to pull out those videos of people being dragged into quarantine.

    Trump asked why he considering closing border with Mexico when there are more cases in U.S. than Mexico. This time Trump gives an answer that seems 180-degrees from his last answer.

    Sluggish Trump has trouble remembering what he said five minutes ago.

    Trump defending his Afghanistan deal and criticizing Bolton. This deal apparently ends with 8,600 American troops in Afghanistan to “kill terrorists.” Which is a funny end-state for something that’s “over.” For Bolton, it’s not enough boom boom.

    Trump using this opportunity to complain about the Fed rate. Because what’s really needed at this morning is an an artificial injection of funds into the stock market. […]



  261. says

    From AJ Vicens:

    […] Late Friday officials in the three West Coast states announced three new cases, none of which could be explained by overseas travel or contact with someone who had traveled overseas, the New York Times reported.

    “If we were worried yesterday, we are even more worried today,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told the Times. “Now we have to ask: How widely, really widely, is this virus out there?” […]

    There are now upwards of 85,000 cases worldwide, the vast majority of which are in China, according to data collected and maintained by Johns Hopkins University. The data show that the vast majority of people who contract the virus recover, but, to date, 2,933 people have died as a result.

    There are 66 cases in the US, according to the Johns Hopkins data, although the CDC figure sits at 15 confirmed cases as of Friday. The difference between the two figures is a result of the CDC not including people returned to the US via State Department–chartered flights.

    Unlike Trump’s rosy message that fears around the virus are a media concoction, public health officials in some places are communicating something much different.

    “We’re going to be increasingly recommending that people try and avoid crowds and close contact with other people,” Dr. Jeff Duchin, a public health official in Washington state, told the Times. “We may get to a point where we want to recommend canceling large public gatherings—social events, sporting events, entertainment—until we get over a hump of what might be a large outbreak.”


  262. says

    An update on endorsements for Elizabeth Warren:

    House Ways and Means chairman Richard Neal endorsed Elizabeth Warren for president on Friday night, giving a boost to his home state senator on the eve of Tuesday’s primary where she is at risk of losing Massachusetts to progressive rival Bernie Sanders.

    “Elizabeth Warren is the best candidate to take on Donald Trump on the economy,” Neal said in a statement. “She has spent her life studying why working families can’t get ahead and how too many get left behind.” […]

    Sanders is making a hard play to beat Warren in her home state, with back to back rallies and a four-day music and canvassing festival. […]


  263. says

    From Josh Marshall, “Reverse Engineering the Crazy”:

    […] we were having an editorial discussion about how to capture in a headline President Trump’s claims of a Coronavirus “hoax.” We wanted to be clear that he did not appear to be saying that the novel Coronavirus itself didn’t exist. He was saying that the public discussion of it by Democrats was “the hoax.” This was distinct from his other claims that media coverage of it by news organizations he perceives as his enemies were a “hoax.

    In each case of course he has insisted that public discussion has the sole aim of damaging him politically and is simply part and puzzle of the Mueller probe, impeachment and the binary world in which every public issue is really about Donald Trump.

    What became clear to me is how easy it is for news organizations to get lost in the President’s rabbit holes.

    The truth is the President is usually just tossing out random claims and accusations and attacks to get whatever response or rise he’s trying for at the moment. It’s very hard and in many cases simply impossible to reverse engineer or retrofit these statements into something having any coherent or logical meaning. The best you can say is that while the virus is spreading around the world and his administration is beginning to treat it as a grave and critical issue he is simultaneously out on the campaign hustings calling it a “hoax” while also at the same time bragging about how good a job he’s doing combatting it.

    None of this makes any sense. Yet, there he is. The President of the United States. Claiming over and over at a raucous campaign rally that it’s all a “hoax.”

  264. says

    Just imagine, this is the kind of criminality and general assholery that Stacey Abrams had to fight when she ran for Governor of Georgia:

    Georgia has stonewalled congressional investigators looking into the state’s massive voter suppression in 2018, holding back more than 1,400 relevant documents, but even the documents the state did release are damning enough.

    “Good work, this story is so complex folks will not make it all the way through it,” wrote Brian Kemp, the Georgia governor who oversaw voter suppression in his former role as secretary of state, about a 2017 news report on local officials making it difficult for people to register to vote.

    Kemp and his campaign advisers responded to a Democrat’s press release on a voter registration purge with laughing and smiling emojis.

    In addition to laughing at voter suppression and celebrating when they felt that people wouldn’t understand what was going on, Kemp and his team routinely lied to the public. According to the House Oversight Committee’s report, “state election officials claimed in public to lack authority over polling locations, while behind the scenes they were advising counties on closing, moving, and consolidating polling sites.”

    In one case, the secretary of state’s office told a voter worried about polling-site closures in their county, “The county Board of Elections has the authority to make changes, and our office does not have the authority to intervene”—a claim made just a month after the secretary of state’s office advised the same county on how to “combine 3 whole precincts with existing precincts and move their polling locations.”

    Again, this is the stuff that Kemp and other state officials have allowed the House Oversight Committee to see. You really have to wonder what’s in those 1,400 documents they’re still hiding.


  265. tomh says

    This is no joke. Exhibit one, Donald Trump.

    WaPo Opinion
    Judging by recent debates, men might be too emotional to be president
    By Andi Zeisler
    Andi Zeisler is the cofounder of Bitch Media and the author of “We Were Feminists Once.” She speaks frequently on the subjects of feminism, activism and popular culture.
    Feb. 28, 2020

    This primary season, there’s at least one thing voters can probably all agree on: Tuesday night’s Democratic debate in South Carolina was a mess. The candidates talked over one another so frequently that my TV’s closed captioning eventually gave up. Boos from the audience seemed deployed at random, and CBS moderators goosed candidates with reality-show-esque provocations, perhaps hoping for even better smack talk — and thus, better ratings — than the previous debate earned. It was as if NPR were hosting the Hunger Games. And the odds were mostly in favor of horse-race pundits, rather than undecided voters with real questions.

    One of the night’s most striking images captured Minnesota senator and hot-dish enthusiast Amy Klobuchar standing at her lectern as, on either side of her, Joe Biden and Tom Steyer shout at each other, the former vice president’s finger pointed, his billionaire foil weakly raising his hand in a fist. Caught in the crossfire, Klobuchar’s face appears to be mid-laugh; her arms gesture in resigned exasperation, palms turned upward in a wordless appeal to onlookers: Can you believe these two?

    One snapshot, obviously, doesn’t tell the story of this debate, or any other: Fighting to be heard is a predictable result when seven candidates are all trying to make the case for their electability in a time frame roughly equal to that of an average episode of “The Bachelor.” But the photo captures the mood of a moment when people have started to ask an important question: Are men too emotional to be president?

    … no one has ever found the question inappropriate when the subject is a woman stepping forward to seek the highest office in the land. From Victoria Woodhull in 1872 (before women could legally vote) to Shirley Chisholm a century later, from vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 to Hillary Clinton in 2016, the inability to imagine a female commander in chief persists. Roughly 1 in 8 Americans still see men as more emotionally suited to the presidency. Women are irrational! They change their minds too much! Weird stuff happens with their bodies! They remind men of nagging mothers and girlfriends, because apparently those are the only two roles that women play in men’s lives!

    But women aren’t the ones flushed with anger, yelling at one another across a debate stage, as Pete Buttigieg did when he insistently talked over Bernie Sanders about something that was probably important but got wholly swallowed up by all the noise. It’s not women who are petulantly declaring, “You spoke over time, and I’m going to talk,” as Biden did in an exchange with Steyer. It’s not women who are publicly challenging fellow candidates to push-up contests, continually interrupting one another or arguing over who gets to compare himself to Barack Obama.

    The false binary of men as rational and women as emotional persists because we teach men that their emotions are different. This has some basis in truth: Though numerous studies have found that men’s brains and women’s brains experience the same emotions with the same intensity, there’s a marked difference in the way they process and express those emotions. The processing-and-expressing part is where nature meets nurture: Our cultural narratives attach disproportionate values to the expression of emotions, and those considered least acceptable in men are the ones most associated with women.

    Women who compete in realms still coded as masculine, like politics, meanwhile, have never had the luxury of showing much emotion at all. And women who run for president do so with full awareness that the characteristics the electorate wants in a leader — brave, steady, decisive, aggressive when necessary — have always been ascribed to men and valued accordingly.

    They also know that they will be scrutinized differently and held to a higher standard than their male counterparts. They are expected to thread an impossible needle: Confident, forceful speech will be heard as “shrill” and hectoring; showing no emotion will brand them as robotic and inauthentic; succumbing to a single tearful moment will confirm that they just feel too much. Just try to imagine a female president waking in the wee hours to fire off a round of unpunctuated tweets to, say, a retired four-star general or a distinguished congressman. Now try to imagine that this is a woman of color. Now try to imagine this woman orchestrating a comically ham-handed attempt to bribe a foreign power, and then imagine that almost every senator in her political party refuses to censure her because they’re afraid of what she’ll tweet about them. It’s a fun game, huh?

    We still don’t know what a female president would look like, and we don’t trust that our friends and neighbors will accept one. We also don’t know whether a female president’s leadership would make this country a more equitable place, whether it would materially change our lives for the better, whether it would change the trajectory of a fast-crumbling democracy. But if the men of 2020 show us one thing, it’s that women’s emotions aren’t the ones we should be worrying about.

    I’d sure like to try Warren for 4 years to find out what it would look like.

  266. tomh says

    This is no joke. Exhibit one, Donald Trump.

    WaPo Opinion
    Judging by recent debates, men might be too emotional to be president
    By Andi Zeisler
    Andi Zeisler is the cofounder of Bitch Media and the author of “We Were Feminists Once.” She speaks frequently on the subjects of feminism, activism and popular culture.
    Feb. 28, 2020

    This primary season, there’s at least one thing voters can probably all agree on: Tuesday night’s Democratic debate in South Carolina was a mess. The candidates talked over one another so frequently that my TV’s closed captioning eventually gave up. Boos from the audience seemed deployed at random, and CBS moderators goosed candidates with reality-show-esque provocations, perhaps hoping for even better smack talk — and thus, better ratings — than the previous debate earned. It was as if NPR were hosting the Hunger Games. And the odds were mostly in favor of horse-race pundits, rather than undecided voters with real questions.

    One of the night’s most striking images captured Minnesota senator and hot-dish enthusiast Amy Klobuchar standing at her lectern as, on either side of her, Joe Biden and Tom Steyer shout at each other, the former vice president’s finger pointed, his billionaire foil weakly raising his hand in a fist. Caught in the crossfire, Klobuchar’s face appears to be mid-laugh; her arms gesture in resigned exasperation, palms turned upward in a wordless appeal to onlookers: Can you believe these two?

    One snapshot, obviously, doesn’t tell the story of this debate, or any other: Fighting to be heard is a predictable result when seven candidates are all trying to make the case for their electability in a time frame roughly equal to that of an average episode of “The Bachelor.” But the photo captures the mood of a moment when people have started to ask an important question: Are men too emotional to be president?

    … no one has ever found the question inappropriate when the subject is a woman stepping forward to seek the highest office in the land. From Victoria Woodhull in 1872 (before women could legally vote) to Shirley Chisholm a century later, from vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 to Hillary Clinton in 2016, the inability to imagine a female commander in chief persists. Roughly 1 in 8 Americans still see men as more emotionally suited to the presidency. Women are irrational! They change their minds too much! Weird stuff happens with their bodies! They remind men of nagging mothers and girlfriends, because apparently those are the only two roles that women play in men’s lives!

    But women aren’t the ones flushed with anger, yelling at one another across a debate stage, as Pete Buttigieg did when he insistently talked over Bernie Sanders about something that was probably important but got wholly swallowed up by all the noise. It’s not women who are petulantly declaring, “You spoke over time, and I’m going to talk,” as Biden did in an exchange with Steyer. It’s not women who are publicly challenging fellow candidates to push-up contests, continually interrupting one another or arguing over who gets to compare himself to Barack Obama.

    The false binary of men as rational and women as emotional persists because we teach men that their emotions are different. This has some basis in truth: Though numerous studies have found that men’s brains and women’s brains experience the same emotions with the same intensity, there’s a marked difference in the way they process and express those emotions. The processing-and-expressing part is where nature meets nurture: Our cultural narratives attach disproportionate values to the expression of emotions, and those considered least acceptable in men are the ones most associated with women.

    Women who compete in realms still coded as masculine, like politics, meanwhile, have never had the luxury of showing much emotion at all. And women who run for president do so with full awareness that the characteristics the electorate wants in a leader — brave, steady, decisive, aggressive when necessary — have always been ascribed to men and valued accordingly.

    They also know that they will be scrutinized differently and held to a higher standard than their male counterparts. They are expected to thread an impossible needle: Confident, forceful speech will be heard as “shrill” and hectoring; showing no emotion will brand them as robotic and inauthentic; succumbing to a single tearful moment will confirm that they just feel too much. Just try to imagine a female president waking in the wee hours to fire off a round of unpunctuated tweets to, say, a retired four-star general or a distinguished congressman. Now try to imagine that this is a woman of color. Now try to imagine this woman orchestrating a comically ham-handed attempt to bribe a foreign power, and then imagine that almost every senator in her political party refuses to censure her because they’re afraid of what she’ll tweet about them. It’s a fun game, huh?

    We still don’t know what a female president would look like, and we don’t trust that our friends and neighbors will accept one. We also don’t know whether a female president’s leadership would make this country a more equitable place, whether it would materially change our lives for the better, whether it would change the trajectory of a fast-crumbling democracy. But if the men of 2020 show us one thing, it’s that women’s emotions aren’t the ones we should be worrying about.

    I’d sure like to try Warren for 4 years to find out what it would look like.

  267. tomh says

    This is no joke. Exhibit one, Donald Trump.

    WaPo Opinion
    Judging by recent debates, men might be too emotional to be president
    By Andi Zeisler
    Andi Zeisler is the cofounder of Bitch Media and the author of “We Were Feminists Once.” She speaks frequently on the subjects of feminism, activism and popular culture.
    Feb. 28, 2020

    This primary season, there’s at least one thing voters can probably all agree on: Tuesday night’s Democratic debate in South Carolina was a mess. The candidates talked over one another so frequently that my TV’s closed captioning eventually gave up. Boos from the audience seemed deployed at random, and CBS moderators goosed candidates with reality-show-esque provocations, perhaps hoping for even better smack talk — and thus, better ratings — than the previous debate earned. It was as if NPR were hosting the Hunger Games. And the odds were mostly in favor of horse-race pundits, rather than undecided voters with real questions.

    One of the night’s most striking images captured Minnesota senator and hot-dish enthusiast Amy Klobuchar standing at her lectern as, on either side of her, Joe Biden and Tom Steyer shout at each other, the former vice president’s finger pointed, his billionaire foil weakly raising his hand in a fist. Caught in the crossfire, Klobuchar’s face appears to be mid-laugh; her arms gesture in resigned exasperation, palms turned upward in a wordless appeal to onlookers: Can you believe these two?

    One snapshot, obviously, doesn’t tell the story of this debate, or any other: Fighting to be heard is a predictable result when seven candidates are all trying to make the case for their electability in a time frame roughly equal to that of an average episode of “The Bachelor.” But the photo captures the mood of a moment when people have started to ask an important question: Are men too emotional to be president?

    … no one has ever found the question inappropriate when the subject is a woman stepping forward to seek the highest office in the land. From Victoria Woodhull in 1872 (before women could legally vote) to Shirley Chisholm a century later, from vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 to Hillary Clinton in 2016, the inability to imagine a female commander in chief persists. Roughly 1 in 8 Americans still see men as more emotionally suited to the presidency. Women are irrational! They change their minds too much! Weird stuff happens with their bodies! They remind men of nagging mothers and girlfriends, because apparently those are the only two roles that women play in men’s lives!

    But women aren’t the ones flushed with anger, yelling at one another across a debate stage, as Pete Buttigieg did when he insistently talked over Bernie Sanders about something that was probably important but got wholly swallowed up by all the noise. It’s not women who are petulantly declaring, “You spoke over time, and I’m going to talk,” as Biden did in an exchange with Steyer. It’s not women who are publicly challenging fellow candidates to push-up contests, continually interrupting one another or arguing over who gets to compare himself to Barack Obama.

    The false binary of men as rational and women as emotional persists because we teach men that their emotions are different. This has some basis in truth: Though numerous studies have found that men’s brains and women’s brains experience the same emotions with the same intensity, there’s a marked difference in the way they process and express those emotions. The processing-and-expressing part is where nature meets nurture: Our cultural narratives attach disproportionate values to the expression of emotions, and those considered least acceptable in men are the ones most associated with women.

    Women who compete in realms still coded as masculine, like politics, meanwhile, have never had the luxury of showing much emotion at all. And women who run for president do so with full awareness that the characteristics the electorate wants in a leader — brave, steady, decisive, aggressive when necessary — have always been ascribed to men and valued accordingly.

    They also know that they will be scrutinized differently and held to a higher standard than their male counterparts. They are expected to thread an impossible needle: Confident, forceful speech will be heard as “shrill” and hectoring; showing no emotion will brand them as robotic and inauthentic; succumbing to a single tearful moment will confirm that they just feel too much. Just try to imagine a female president waking in the wee hours to fire off a round of unpunctuated tweets to, say, a retired four-star general or a distinguished congressman. Now try to imagine that this is a woman of color. Now try to imagine this woman orchestrating a comically ham-handed attempt to bribe a foreign power, and then imagine that almost every senator in her political party refuses to censure her because they’re afraid of what she’ll tweet about them. It’s a fun game, huh?

    We still don’t know what a female president would look like, and we don’t trust that our friends and neighbors will accept one. We also don’t know whether a female president’s leadership would make this country a more equitable place, whether it would materially change our lives for the better, whether it would change the trajectory of a fast-crumbling democracy. But if the men of 2020 show us one thing, it’s that women’s emotions aren’t the ones we should be worrying about.

    I’d sure like to try Warren for 4 years to find out what it would look like.

  268. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Here’s hoping that Darth Cheeto’s Presidency is like the month of March:
    He came in lyin’ and hopefully goes out on the lam.

  269. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 344

    Sadly, the entire U.S. could become a “hot zone,” contaminated with disease with John Cleese pushing a corpse-laden cart to the nearest mass grave, and Republicans will still deny Trump’s incompetence so long as it lowers their taxes, let’s them keep their guns, and “triggers the libtards.” Even the ones on their own death beds.

  270. says

    Tom Steyer has dropped out of the Democratic Party race for president. Good. Meanwhile, he took 11% of the South Carolina vote that should have gone to a more serious candidate.

    Maybe Steyer can go back to producing anti-Trump ads for TV.

  271. says

    As you’ve probably heard by now, Joe Biden is celebrating a decisive win in South Carolina. More than 60 percent of black voters in that state backed Biden. Compare that to Bernie Sanders, who got about 17 percent of the black vote.

    With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Biden had more than 48 percent of the votes cast. That’s a lot more than second-placed Sen. Bernie Sanders. Sanders lost to Biden by almost 30 points. Sanders remains strong overall, on a national basis, especially when one looks at the California vote that is expected on Super Tuesday.

    Sanders raised $46 million in February. Biden may have a real financial problem when it comes to competing in Super Tuesday states against Sanders and Bloomberg.

    Warren’s failure to win votes is perplexing. It’s a trend that is fairly consistent. So far, she has placed third, fourth, fourth again, and then fifth in South Carolina. Buttigieg came in fourth in South Carolina, and Klobuchar was sixth.

    A good sign: More 500,000 voters cast ballots in South Carolina yesterday. That number is close to the turnout when Obama was on the ballot in 2008.

    Biden’s support was broad: He got support from self-identified conservatives, from moderates, and from African American voters. He took more of the young-people vote than expected.

    Good candidate for Tweet o’ the Day:

    Warren tonight:

    -Bloomberg is “rich enough to buy network airtime to pretend he’s the president”

    -Biden is “eager to cut deals with Mitch McConnell”

    -Sanders “consistently calls for things he fails to get done, and consistently opposes things he nevertheless fails to stop”

  272. says

    Mike Pence Refuses to Push Back on Don Jr.’s Claim That Dems Are Rooting for Millions to Die of Coronavirus

    The vice president doubled down on criticism of “the left.”

    On Sunday, coronavirus task force head Vice President Mike Pence went out on the morning talk shows to promote the administration’s response to the epidemic. Instead of reassuring the country that everything was under control, he ended up having to defend the president’s son, Don Jr. It didn’t go well.

    On Friday, Donald Trump Jr., had gone on “Fox and Friends” and told anchor Brian Kilmeade that the Democrats were rooting for the coronavirus epidemic to get worse in the hopes that it would have a negative impact on Trump’s popularity ratings. “Anything that they can use to try to hurt Trump, they will,” Trump Jr. said. “But for them to try to take a pandemic and seemingly hope that it comes here, and kills millions of people so that they could end Donald Trump’s streak of winning, is a new level of sickness. You know, I don’t know if this is coronavirus or Trump derangement syndrome, but these people are infected badly.”

    When Pence appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, host Jake Tapper asked, “Can we agree that neither Democrats nor Republicans want Americans to get the Coronavirus and die from it?” Tapper asked. You don’t believe that the Democrats want people to contract the disease, do you?” Pence didn’t respond with a resounding “no.” Instead, he claimed that Don Jr.’s point was that “This is no time for politics,” only to then bash Democrats for attacking the president on the virus response. “There has been some very strong rhetoric directed at the president by some members of Congress,” Pence said.

    Pence doubled down on his complaints about Democrats on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” After host Chuck Todd quoted right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh of trying to “weaponize” the virus to “bring down Donald Trump,” Pence shot back, saying that “there’s been a lot of irresponsible rhetoric among Democrats and commentators on the left.” […]

    Oh, FFS.

  273. says

    Joe Biden:

    “This is a guy who doesn’t know what he’s doing,” Biden said on “Fox News Sunday“ to host Chris Wallace. “He [Trump] doesn’t know how to run the country; he is making us more unsafe the way he is responding to the coronavirus. He has done virtually nothing well that I can see.

  274. says

    Italy reported a 40 percent increase in coronavirus cases in just one day.

    Italian authorities said Sunday that the country has confirmed 1,576 cases of a potentially-deadly coronavirus, representing a 40 percent increase in the last 24 hours alone.

    Officials added that five more people have died from the disease, bringing the total to 34 in the country, according to The Associated Press. Health officials reportedly noted that a marked increase in coronavirus cases was expected because it can take up to two weeks for containment measures to take effect, and because of Italy’s sizable elderly population. […]


  275. says

    Bottom-feeder Alex Jones is taking advantage of the coronavirus crisis to increase his grifting and scamming operations:

    […] Now that he’s been banned from YouTube and most of the Internet, Infowars now has its own streaming platform called And over there, Jones is working overtime to scare the crap out of people over the coronavirus in order to sell them his bulk foods at outrageous prices.

    Via Media Matters:

    Coronavirus has been a near-constant topic of discussion on Infowars’ various broadcasts. According to a search of Infowars’ online streaming platform, at least 145 videos have been posted since January 22 that reference the outbreak in their titles. Of these, 127 were published after Infowars released its “EMERGENCY SURVIVAL FOODS: Coronavirus Clearance Sale” ad for bulk food on January 27.

    Sales pitches that appear in Infowars content are aggressive. They play on fears of food shortages, emphasize the need to make immediate and large orders, and fearmonger about the prospect of societal collapse and cannibalism.

    Buy my food buckets or eat your mom!

    He’s also jacked up the price of said bulk foods, while marking them as on “CORONAVIRUS CLEARANCE!” While in December of last year, his one year supply of bucket bulk foods was $1443.50, it is now priced at $2,887.

    Unbelievably, Jones is actually running an advertisement about how everyone else is jacking up the price of their prepper foods, but he’s not doing that because of how much he cares about his audience. […]

    While Trump is out there claiming that the coronavirus is mostly a liberal media hoax that is not much more dangerous than the flu, Jones — notably not a member of the liberal media — is running segments like these:

    “Violent Leftists In A Coronavirus Quarantine Would Collapse Society”

    “How Globalists Justify Releasing the Coronavirus Bioweapon”

    “Lancet Model Predicts Hundreds Of Millions Dead From Coronavirus Outbreak”

    “Was Coronavirus Intended To Be Primer For Chinese Invasion Of America?”

    “Bioweapons Expert: Coronavirus Is Super Biological Weapon Never Encountered Before”

    “MSM Tries To Suppress Evidence That HIV Delivery System Is Embedded In Coronavirus”

    “Countdown: Top Ten Ways Coronavirus Will Be Used to Usher In Global Government”

    Yeah! That’s super normal and not at all psychotic. In the first video on that list, Infowars contributor Mike Adams went on a bizarre rant claiming that we are all mentally ill pedophiles who will only get worse if there is a coronavirus quarantine. […]


  276. says

    Pete Buttigieg has also withdrawn from the presidential race.

    […] “Sadness. Disappointment. Huge respect. Pete did the math, and wanted to make sure his voters had a chance to cast meaningful votes on Tuesday, for a candidate who could still prevail in Milwaukee,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), who was the first member of Congress to endorse Buttigieg, told The Hill. “Pete’s best days still lie ahead. He earned the respect and affection of tens of millions of Americans.” […]


  277. says

    Joe Biden spoke at AIPAC:

    […] “We all need to work together to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, because it is a crisis,” Biden said in pre-recorded remarks played to 18,000 attendees at the annual conference for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

    “And we’re not going to achieve that future if we don’t condemn steps on both sides that take us further from peace.”

    At least 1.9 million Palestinians live in the narrow territory of the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist group, and the area severely impoverished.

    Goods and services going in and out of the strip are closely monitored by Israel, which has controlled a land, sea and air blockade since 2007 to protect against the transfer of weapons to Hamas and other militant groups inside Gaza.

    In 2018, the World Bank estimated unemployment in the strip at around 50 percent. Approximately 95 percent of the population is without access to clean drinking water and electricity is available between four and five hours per day. A 2012 report by the United Nations predicted Gaza would be unlivable by 2020.

    Israel and Hamas are locked in cyclical patterns of violence, with Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza launching repeated rocket attacks and sending incendiary kites, balloons and other devices toward Israeli border communities that burn farm fields threaten civilians.

    Israel responds with targeted air strikes on missile launching sites and on Hamas commanders.

    At least 252 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israeli forces responding with live fire to weekly demonstrations along the border with Gaza, according to Human Rights Watch 2019 report. At least 25,522 Palestinians in Gaza have been injured by live fire at the border. […]

    “A two state solution is the best way to ensure a secure and peaceful Israeli future for the Jewish and democratic state of Israel. That’s the goal we all share,” the presidential hopeful said.

    “Palestinians need to eradicate incitement on the West Bank. Eradicate it. They need to end the rocket attacks from Gaza. Stop it,” Biden continued.

    “And Israel, I think, has to stop the threats of annexation and settlement activity, like the recent announcement to build thousands of settlements in E1,” he added, referring to an undeveloped area outside Jerusalem that connects with the Israeli community of Ma’aleh Adumim.

    “That’s going to choke off any hope for peace. And to be frank, those moves are taking Israel further from its democratic values, undermining support for Israel in the United States especially among young people in both political parties.” […]


    Jared Kushner failed.

  278. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @354:

    Pete did the math, and wanted to make sure his voters had a chance to cast meaningful votes on Tuesday, for a candidate who could still prevail in Milwaukee

    Translation: The DNC wants to do what they can to prevent Bernie from getting the nomination.

    [Pete Buttigieg] earned the respect and affection of tens of millions of Americans.

    And many more saw what a fraud and a bore he was.

  279. tomh says

    Supreme Court to Hear Obamacare Appeal
    The Affordable Care Act, which has survived two major challenges in the Supreme Court, faces another test.
    By Adam Liptak
    March 2, 2020

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a third major case on the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s health care law, granting petitions from Democratic state officials and the House of Representatives in a case with the potential to wipe out the entire law.

    The court did not say when it would hear the case, but, under its ordinary practices, arguments would be held in the fall and a decision would land in the spring or summer of 2021.

    The case was brought by Republican state officials, who argued that when Congress eliminated the law’s requirement in 2017 that most Americans obtain health insurance, the law became unconstitutional. The Trump administration sided with the state officials, arguing that the rest of the health care law could not survive without the requirement, sometimes called the individual mandate.

    A Federal District Court judge in Texas agreed, ruling that the entire law was invalid, but he postponed the effects of his ruling until the case could be appealed. In December, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, agreed that the mandate was unconstitutional but declined to rule on the fate of the remainder of the health law, asking the lower court to reconsider the question in more detail.

    The Supreme Court has already ruled in two major cases challenging core provisions of the health law. In both cases, it left most of the law in place.

    The Court had turned down a request by Democratic states and the House, which intervened in the case to defend the health law, to fast track the case which would have brought a decision this term. The Court preferred to wait until after the election to decide the fate of millions of Americans’ health care.

  280. says

    In alphabetical order, here are the candidates left in the Democratic presidential race: Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.

    Of the three men still in the race, Joe Biden is the youngest. He will turn 78 in November.

    Pete Buttigieg, who dropped out of the race yesterday, spoke on the phone with Joe Biden this morning. We’re still waiting to hear what that was all about.

  281. says

    No women … and a lot of men with questionable qualifications: that’s the general description of Trump’s Coronavirus Taskforce.

    Vice President Mike Pence published a tweet on Saturday, assuring the public via Twitter that the White House Coronavirus Taskforce had completed a “very productive meeting” in the Situation Room. The tweet included an image of the meeting’s participants.

    Right off the bat, something obvious stood out in the image: there were literally no women in the photograph. In 1950, such a picture would be expected. In 2020, that’s an awfully tough personnel dynamic to defend.

    But there were also concerns about those who were at the table. Among those visible were Pence, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and HUD Secretary Ben Carson. Including Carson seemed odd, though he did have a successful career as a physician. (He was formally named a member of the task force yesterday.)

    But also visible was Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, who was formally chosen for the Coronavirus Taskforce last Thursday.

    Or put another way, Kudlow was named to the task force two days after he shared these words of wisdom with a national television audience. “We have contained this. I won’t say airtight, but it’s pretty close to airtight,” Kudlow told CNBC. The outbreak is a “human tragedy,” but it’s not likely to become an “economic tragedy,” he said.

    What’s more, the day after being added to the White House task force, Kudlow boasted that Trump’s response to the outbreak will likely help the Republican’s campaign prospects.

    “I think the way he’s handling this will have a very positive effect on his re-election campaign,” Kudlow told reporters at the White House. “I’m a longtime Trump friend and watcher and now, of course, the last couple of years I’ve been working with him — for him. I think it was one of his best news conferences I’ve ever seen him give.”

    Maybe now be a good time to ask what exactly the qualifications are for those with formal roles on the White House Coronavirus Taskforce?


  282. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @359:

    Right off the bat, something obvious stood out in the image: there were literally no women in the photograph.

    If you want women on the task force, Pence will have to clear it with Mother first and arrange any necessary chaperones.

  283. Akira MacKenzie says

    We’re still waiting to hear what that was all about.

    I can make and eduated guess: “Please, Uncle Joe, you’re America’s last hope to restore the nation to our Clintonian/Obamaian stagnation posing as progress! Please, think of the poor, poor billionaires!”

  284. says

    Coronavirus update: a second patient in the USA has died of the virus. Both deaths were in Washington state. Healthcare experts say the virus has probably been spreading undetected for about six weeks in Washington state. There are several cases in Oregon, including patients in a nursing home.

    The first cases in New York and in Florida have been confirmed. Two cases in Florida, both in quarantine. One case in New York, a woman who had traveled recently to Iran.

    Elizabeth Warren has proposed a $400 billion stimulus plan to fight economic damage from the coronavirus outbreak. Link

    Trump claims, with no foundation in fact whatsoever, that it is safe for him to hold campaign rallies despite the coronavirus outbreak. Trump also urged pharmaceutical executives, with whom he met today, to accelerate efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

    […] But health experts have stressed that while testing may start soon, a widespread vaccine is unlikely to be available for several months.

    Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a news conference last week that it would likely take about a year or 18 months to have a fully effective and accessible vaccine, but that it would be useful if the coronavirus makes a return in the future.

    “The answer to containing is public health measures,” he said. “We can’t rely on a vaccine over the next several months to a year.”


    The global death toll due to novel coronavirus has now topped 3,000.

    South Korea confirmed 599 new cases today. South Korea has tested more than 100,000 people so far, and that country has 4,335 confirmed infections, and 22 deaths.

    Italy has 1,600 cases. Iran has more than 1,500 cases, and 66 death. Travelers from those two countries have spread the virus to other nation. Indonesia has two confirmed cases. The infection has also been confirmed in Australia, India and Portugal.

    China has 80,026 cases, and 2,912 deaths.

    In Britain there are 40 confirmed cases.

  285. says

    johnson catman @360, “Mother” can advise Pence to have any women who are added to the task force contribute via a video feed from a separate room. The White House will have a zenana.

  286. says

    Akira @361, meanwhile the Republican investigation of the Bidens continues.

    […] Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) sent a letter March 1 indicating that he wants to begin issuing subpoenas in his investigation of the same debunked allegations that featured in Trump’s impeachment. […]

    So the Senate’s Ukraine-Hunter Biden investigation continues, as does former Vice President Joe Biden’s candidacy, which received a weekend boost with a victory in South Carolina and with South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg’s exit from the race.

    The upshot of the letter is that Sen. Johnson has been fighting to issue subpoenas to former Ukraine embassy in D.C. staffer and Rudy Giuliani buddy Andrii Telizhenko, and to Blue Star Strategies, a D.C.-based lobbying firm that Burisma hired in 2016 to burnish the gas company’s image. […]

    The issue comes down to testimony from Telizhenko, who has spun unsupported stories since Trump’s election to the effect that the DNC colluded with the Ukrainian government in 2016 to damage Trump’s candidacy.

    Though unsubstantiated, Telizhenko’s narrative served as a useful cudgel for the GOP during the process of Trump’s impeachment, giving the President’s allies a set of ready-make, whataboutist allegations with which to bludgeon Democrats.

    Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), the Committee’s ranking member, purportedly told Johnson in a Feb. 27 letter that the Committee should “receive defensive briefings — specifically regarding Mr. Telizhenko — from relevant intelligence community and law enforcement officials.” […]

    The letter suggests that Johnson is focused on whether Blue Star “sought to leverage Hunter Biden’s role as a board member of Burisma to gain access to, and potentially influence matters at, the State Department.” […]

    Telizhenko has also provided documents to the Senate Finance and Foreign Affairs Committees, and maintains a regular slot on Rudy Giuliani’s podcast, which continues to propagate conspiracy theories about Biden and Ukraine. […]


  287. says

    Ken Cuccinelli is an anti-immigrant dunderhead who worships in the Trump cult. A court has now ruled that Cuccinelli was unlawfully appointed to lead U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

    […] Since the day Cuccinelli was hand-picked to lead an agency that’s supposed to help facilitate legal immigration, even though he once compared immigrants to rodents, advocates have argued not just that this anti-immigrant goofball was wholly unqualified for the job, but also that his placement was unlawful.

    “After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to block Cuccinelli’s confirmation for any position, the Trump administration did an end run around the law with the extraordinary step of creating a new office for Cuccinelli in order to install him as the acting head of USCIS,” Democracy Forward, which joined with RAICES, CLINIC, and the law firm Proskauer Rose to sue, said last year.

    Among the harmful changes implemented by Cuccinelli […] was chopping in half the time that asylum-seekers have “to consult a lawyer and prepare evidence to substantiate their fear of persecution which can leave them just a few hours to prepare for their interview, if that,” the groups said in their lawsuit. When he hasn’t been busy trying to deport asylum-seekers faster, Cuccinelli has also been a loudmouth for the administration on cable news, supporting immigration raids and other awful shit that had zip to do with his job at USCIS.

    Cuccinelli was also named as a defendant in a lawsuit over the Trump administration’s inhumane decision to end deportation relief for sick people undergoing lifesaving medical treatment, […]. Under widespread condemnation and pressure from folks directly affected, such as Jonathan Sanchez and Maria Isabel Bueso, the administration backed off the move.

    Regarding the ruling from this past weekend, the plaintiffs said, “The Court agreed with the plaintiffs that the Trump administration made an unlawful end run around the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, by taking the extraordinary and unprecedented step of creating a new office for Cuccinelli in order to install him as the acting head of USCIS, finding that ‘the structure and purpose of the FVRA further confirm that Cuccinelli was not lawfully designated to serve.’”

    Cuccinelli has since been appointed deputy secretary of homeland security—and, of course, in an acting capacity, because finding confirmable candidates to be in charge of federal agencies is for competent administrations. […]

    Cuccinelli doesn’t belong in any office, period. “Today’s ruling is a big win that confirms Ken Cuccinelli’s installation and service as acting director of USCIS was unlawful,” Democracy Forward’s Anne Harkavy said in a statement.[…].”


  288. says

    A discussion about what to do if your favorite candidate drops out of the presidential race:

    Primary season is a bit like Thunderdome: Ultimately, only one person emerges—a disappointment for every political activist and social media junkie whose favored candidate isn’t that person. […]

    If you’ve enthusiastically worked in the past, paid or unpaid, for a losing candidate—presidential or otherwise—whose election you felt would have made an important difference in your city or the nation, you know that disappointed feeling all too well. […]

    Disappointment always requires processing, the speed of which is individual. For some, the process leads to a washing of hands when it comes to electoral politics, at least for a period. For most, it’s more a matter of diminished enthusiasm. […] That’s understandable. Inevitable.

    […] With the high stakes this year especially, however, we need all the eagerness and passion we can muster, whoever the candidate is who finally emerges to accept the nomination at the party convention this summer. Lukewarm won’t cut it. Bitterness definitely won’t. So how does that enthusiasm get restored […]

    I recommend expanding your horizons to those who haven’t already done so. There are literally thousands of elected positions in the United States: city councils, county councils, sheriffs, state legislators, district attorneys, attorneys general, governors, and, of course, representatives and senators. Every Democrat who runs for those offices, particularly those who are challengers, needs volunteers. […]

    Whoever you support for president, whoever is your choice for the U.S. Senate and House, help build a stronger and more progressive Democratic Party bench by “adopting” and volunteering in the campaign of a state legislative candidate in your or a nearby district. […]

    It would be great if we could get Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg to adopt a bunch of state legislative candidates and match the $600 million-$700 million the two of them have spent on ads for their presidential campaigns in donations to state legislative races where such funding might make a big difference in the outcome. Overturning or weakening Republican majorities is even more crucial in a census year. Gerrymandering is killing us policywise at the state level. But we can’t depend on these rich knights with their own agendas to make this happen. It’s up to us.

    Given the stakes, and given the potential for progressive innovation at the state level—as, for instance, we have seen in climate-friendly policies—generating enthusiasm for and talking up Democratic legislative candidates should come easily even to activists who are the most disappointed by the choice of a presidential nominee, whoever that turns out to be.


  289. Akira MacKenzie says

    Lynna @ 364:

    Was that supposed to make me feel sorry for Biden? As wrong and as silly as Trump/Rudy’s delusions are that still doesn’t erase the fact Biden is capitalist shit who will not implement the massive social and economic changes necessary to save our civilization just to defend a bunch of billionaire bastards.

  290. says

    Here is an “Oh, FFS!” moment: Azar in the crosshairs for delays in virus tests: HHS’ slow response was traced to the secretary’s distrust of aides and fear of offending Trump.

    Even as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention takes blame for testing delays that may have led to hundreds of Americans being infected with the coronavirus, officials inside the health department and the White House are increasingly pointing the finger at one leader: Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who they say failed to coordinate the response, as agency chiefs waited for instructions that came too late and other deputies were largely cut out of the process.

    Numerous problems with the Trump administration’s testing regimen have come to light: Coronavirus tests developed by CDC were flawed, possibly because the lab itself was contaminated. The resulting lack of test cap