1. says

    From Talking Points Memo:

    Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump will move – tonight – to lock down that Trump will fill the seat before his term ends. The mourning will inevitably be colored by the rush to lock in a historic conservative majority on the court.

  2. says

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dead At 87.


    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday evening due to complications of metastatic pancreas cancer.

    She was 87 years old.

    “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Ginsburg said in a statement dictated to her granddaughter before her death, according to NPR.

    Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, was appointed by President Clinton in 1993.

    She previously served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where she was appointed in 1980.

    Before her career as a judge, she was best known for her work on gender equality. As a civil rights attorney, she argued pivotal gender equality cases before the Supreme Court. She also helped launched the ACLU’s the Women’s Rights Project.

    Gender equality was also a hallmark of her tenure as a Supreme Court justice.

    She died of metastatic pancreatic cancer.

  3. says

    From comments by readers:

    Suddenly, McConnell isn’t going to want to leave D.C.
    What a loss!

    RIP, RBG. Millions upon millions mourn you.
    She fought a brave fight to the end with a vicious illness. This country is lucky to have had her on the Court for so many years.
    May she rest in peace and power.
    You know McConnell will push this one through as quickly as he possibly can and it’ll be the worst possible candidate. McC will conveniently forget the prohibition he put on Obama.

    The Supreme Court’s new session starts in two weeks. There will be an even number of justices, 8. There are only three liberals.

  4. says

    From Russell Berman, writing for The Atlantic:

    […] Trump will be eager to fill Ginsburg’s seat immediately, seizing an opportunity to rally his base before the election and to cement his legacy in the event that he is defeated in November. He could also become the first president since Richard Nixon to install three justices on the high court in a single four-year term. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already indicated that he’s ready for another confirmation battle, either before or immediately after the election. Republicans might be hard-pressed to consider and approve a Trump nominee in the eight weeks before November, but even a victory by Vice President Joe Biden and a Democratic takeover of the Senate might not prevent Trump from successfully appointing another justice. Republicans would still control both the White House and the Senate until a new Congress takes office in early January.

    Ginsburg made her own desire clear in the days before her death, NPR’s Nina Totenberg reported today. She dictated a statement to her granddaughter that read: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

    Whether that final wish will be granted is unclear. McConnell has insisted that the precedent he created to deny former President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland in the final year of Obama’s term—in a vacancy that occurred nearly nine months before the 2016 election—no longer applies, because the same party controls both the White House and the Senate majority. “Oh, we’d fill it,” the Kentucky Republican promised in May 2019, more than a year before Ginsburg announced the cancer recurrence that took her life. Never mind that the rationale McConnell gave at the time—that voters should have the chance to weigh in on their next Supreme Court justice—would seem to apply even more strongly during an election in which the first ballots have already been mailed.

    The more salient question is not whether McConnell would try to confirm Trump’s nominee but whether his GOP majority would go along with it—either before the election ends in November or in a lame-duck session of Congress afterward. A number of Republican senators have already said they’d want to fill a Supreme Court vacancy if Trump is still in office. But McConnell would need the votes of 50 out of his 52 members to allow Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie (assuming all Democrats voted against Trump’s nominee), and the numbers may not be on his side. One Republican, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, already voted against the president’s last Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, who won confirmation by a single vote in 2018. Another, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, supported Kavanaugh but is now in danger of losing her bid for a sixth term this fall. And a third Republican, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, voted to convict Trump during the president’s impeachment trial earlier this year; having already tried to remove Trump from office, Romney might be disinclined to give him another lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

    The Supreme Court has now seen three vacancies in the past five years. Because of her age and ill health, Ginsburg’s is the least surprising. But it may be the most consequential. […] Should Trump pick Ginsburg’s replacement, however, the ideological shift rightward it represents would likely be the largest for a single Supreme Court seat since the conservative Clarence Thomas succeeded the liberal Thurgood Marshall nearly three decades ago. And that opportunity could be too enticing for Republicans to pass up.

    McConnell, backed by the Senate Republicans who have ratified his decisions, has shown above all a willingness to wield power to its fullest extent when it comes to the federal judiciary, to interpret as widely as possible the Constitution’s delegation to the Senate of the authority to “advise and consent” on presidential nominations. He cares more about the confirmation of conservative judges than anything else the Senate does […]

    […] The vacancy thus might provoke the turnout boost for Democrats that previous court battles did not, as well as a push for retribution if Republicans are seen as ignoring the will of the voters. A successful GOP effort to replace Ginsburg with a conservative before or immediately after a Democratic victory will almost certainly lead to more progressive calls for Biden—along with a willing Democratic Senate—to simply pack the Supreme Court with more seats to offset the conservative advantage.

    The stakes of the next two months—with hundreds dying daily from the coronavirus, with an incumbent president fanning violence and undermining the integrity of a national election—could hardly have been higher before Ruth Bader Ginsburg succumbed to cancer. Into that cauldron now goes a Supreme Court fight, with an outcome that could alter American society not only for the next four years, but for a generation to come.


    A woman’s right to choose is in peril.

  5. says

    From The Washington Post:

    […] A landmark moment for Justice Ginsburg came in 2011, when the court for the first time opened its term with three female justices. Justice Ginsburg said in an interview with The Washington Post that it would “change the public perception of where women are in the justice system. When the schoolchildren file in and out of the court and they look up and they see three women, then that will seem natural and proper — just how it is.”

    Her outspoken feminism played a role in Justice Ginsburg’s success. President Bill Clinton acknowledged that in 1993 when he nominated her to replace retiring Justice Byron White. At the time, she was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

    “Many admirers of her work say that she is to the women’s movement what former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was to the movement for the rights of African Americans,” Clinton said in Rose Garden ceremony. “I can think of no greater compliment to bestow on an American lawyer.”

    (Justice Ginsburg herself usually demurred when the comparison was made, saying that Marshall literally risked his life defending Black clients in the segregated South and that her legal work required no such sacrifice.)

    On the court, Justice Ginsburg’s most notable rulings and dissents advanced feminist causes.

    In 1996, she authored a groundbreaking decision ordering the Virginia Military Institute to admit women, ending a 157-year tradition of all-male education at the state-funded school.

    While Virginia “serves the state’s sons, it makes no provision whatever for her daughters. That is not equal protection,” Justice Ginsburg wrote in United States v. Virginia. The 7-to-1 decision — her friend, Scalia, was the dissenter — was the capstone of the legal battle for gender equality, she said later.

    “I regard the VMI case as the culmination of the 1970s endeavor to open doors so that women could aspire and achieve without artificial constraints,” Justice Ginsburg said after the decision.

    Later in her career, discrimination against women was the theme of several forceful dissents Justice Ginsburg read from the bench, a sparingly used bit of theater that justices employ to emphasize deeply held disagreements with a majority opinion.

    Among them was a protest of the court’s decision to uphold a federal ban on so-called partial-birth abortions. “The court deprives women of the right to make an autonomous choice, even at the expense of their safety,” Justice Ginsburg wrote. “This way of thinking reflects ancient notions about women’s place in the family and under the Constitution — ideas that have long since been discredited.”

    In another, she objected to a ruling that said workers may not sue their employers over unequal pay caused by discrimination alleged to have begun years earlier. That case had been filed by Lilly Ledbetter, the lone female supervisor at a tire plant in Gadsden, Ala., who sued after determining she was paid less than male co-workers.

    In an interview with The Post in 2010, Justice Ginsburg said the Ledbetter case struck a personal chord.

    “Every woman of my age had a Lilly Ledbetter story,” she said. “And so we knew that the notion that a woman who is in a nontraditional job is going to complain the first time she thinks she is being discriminated against — the one thing she doesn’t want to do is rock the boat, to become known as a complainer.”

    She called upon Congress to take action, and once Democrats were in control, it did. Obama signed the law relaxing the deadlines for filing suits.

    If the law is often complex, her view of equality was simple, she once said.

    “It has always been that girls should have the same opportunity to dream, to aspire and achieve — to do whatever their God-given talents enable them to do — as boys,” Justice Ginsburg said in a 2015 conversation at the American Constitution Society. “There should be no place where there isn’t a welcome mat for women. . . . That’s what it’s all about: Women and men, working together, should help make the society a better place than it is now.” […]


    More at the link.

  6. says

    Murkowski: ‘Fair is fair,’ no Supreme Court confirmation before the inauguration. Who’s joining her?

    Remarkably, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, just told Alaska Public Media on Friday afternoon that she would not confirm a new Supreme Court justice before next year’s inauguration. “Fair is fair,” she said speaking hypothetically before the announcement of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing.

    She was talking, of course, about the precedent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set for confirming justices before a presidential election when he refused to even consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia. Scalia died a full nine months before that year’s election. McConnell, pulling a Senate procedure out of his ass, said that the Senate could not possibly confirm a nominee before an election, and that the voters should be allowed to have their say on the direction of the court. And clearly, with McConnell being the destroyer of everything good in this world, he will push a nominee—in a total reversal of his previous doctrine.

    Well, Murkowski is taking him at his word on the Garland doctrine. Here’s what she said last month, when the question was raised. “When Republicans held off Merrick Garland it was because nine months prior to the election was too close, we needed to let people decide. And I agreed to do that. If we now say that months prior to the election is OK when nine months was not, that is a double standard and I don’t believe we should do it.”

    Here’s what some other Republicans said. Sen. Chuck Grassley said that “in the abstract […] I would do the same thing in 2020 that I would in 2016.” That is: refuse to consider a nominee. Lindsey Graham, now chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee which would have the hearings on a nominee, said he’d be “willing” to fill a vacancy, but “I’d like to get input from my colleagues. […] I don’t know. We’ll see.” […]

    So it’s pretty much on Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney to do the right thing and stand with Murkowski. Romney said in August, “I’m not at a point where I have something to say.” He’d better get there fast. In August, Collins pulled her usual dodge. “We do not have a vacancy on the Supreme Court. All nine justices are alive.“ Then this month, she told The New York Times’ Jonathon Martin that she wouldn’t vote to confirm anyone in October. “I think that’s too close, I really do,” she said. She also told Martin that she would be opposed seating a justice during the lame duck session after the election if Trump loses. She didn’t say whether she thinks September is too close.

    Murkowski and Collins are basically on the record—no vote for a Trump nominee before the election. Theoretically, so is Graham. Back in October 2018, he said, “If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait to the next election,” but Graham is a piece of shit and can’t be expected to keep his word.

    What we do now? Work on Senate races. Scare the shit out of those Republicans who are up for reelection and make this too toxic an option to consider. Failing that, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris should pledge NOW to increase the size of the court when they win, and get Senate Democrats lined up behind them.

  7. says

    Donald Trump Wanted to Keep This Video Deposition Secret. We Got a Copy.

    He and his lawyer hoped to prevent this footage from the Trump University fraud case from “getting into the hands of the media.”

    […] Mother Jones was provided the video by a source who asked not to be identified. Art Cohen, a lead plaintiff in one of the lawsuits against Trump University and Trump, confirmed that this was the actual video of the deposition. “On this video, Trump’s shifty memory and dishonest character are exposed when he is faced with questions that demand the truth,” Cohen says. (Last month, Mother Jones posted video of a conversation that occurred during a break in these proceedings between Trump and Petrocelli, in which Trump boasted of threatening the Better Business Bureau to change the D grade it awarded Trump University to an A.)

    When the written transcript of the deposition video was made public, media attention focused on an exchange about Trump’s memory. Forge had asked him to evaluate his own memory, and Trump said, “My memory’s good.” Forge reminded Trump that he had once described it as “one of the all-time great memories,” and Trump kept calling it “good” before acknowledging he had used that phrase. When Forge asked, “Do you believe you have one of the best memories in the world?” Trump replied, “That I can’t tell you.” Forge noted that Trump had previously stated he indeed possessed one of the best memories in the world and referenced an NBC News report from the previous month in which Trump had declared he had “the world’s greatest memory.” Trump said, “I don’t remember that.” Here it is: […]

    The video snippets (4 of them), and more details presented in text, are available at the link.

  8. says

    From Neal Katyal:

    This seat will be filled in due time. If Trump tries to rush it, he will be monkeying with the Court, w/devastating consequences. The Democrats will have options, incl increasing the size of the Supreme Court. For now, let’s take a deep breath and remember the legacy RBG left us.

    Justice Ginsburg was an American hero. The best of the best.

  9. says

    From Wonkette:

    Sorry you didn’t want to pack the Supreme Court, Joe Biden, but you’re going to pack the motherfucking goddamn Supreme Court.

    I apologize. I am being mortifyingly uncouth, my only thought on hearing the news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing at 87 being OH FUCK. SHIT. FUCK. SHIT. Which I informed the Walmart of in hysterical blasts not at all muffled by my cotton plague mask. This is the bad place.

    My only thought being … no. I said that already. I have no other thoughts. Not appreciations of her as jurist. […] And then, like a clear bell cutting through the fog to the ships in my brain, “JOE BIDEN WILL PACK THE SUPREME COURT.”

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg would understand.

    Mitch McConnell will waste no time calling a vote for her replacement by Ted Cruz, Neomi Rao, Ivanka Trump, Vlad the Impaler, Amy Coney Barrett I guess, […]

    What is this cocktail my husband has handed me, is it tequila and pineapple juice and lime, it is delicious, I will drink it.

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a husband, I vaguely recall it being a cute part of the movie about her I did not watch, that he wasn’t a fucking schmuck and he liked her even though she was smart and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. That they were nice together. She did exercise a lot too, I read that a million times, and she had so much cancer.

    And she tried so hard to hang on, we all knew it, we all knew she was hanging on just for this, she would not take offense at my only thought, my only thought, was I trying to say something?


    Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Notorious RBG, explained that she did not resign during the Obama administration because she thought that Hillary Clinton would win and would be President of the next administration.

  10. says

    From Michael Tomasky:

    First of all, before we get to the politics: Thank heaven for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is truly one of the great 10 or 20 Americans of the last 40 years. Her work has made millions of people’s lives better. She has made this, just as the founders hoped great Americans would, a more perfect union.

    I would prefer to go on in that vein, but these dark, greasy men and these dark, greasy times have rendered the pivot to politics in the second paragraph necessary and urgent. And so we pivot: What now?

    It’s obvious: Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump are going to try to name a replacement before the election. McConnell has already said he would—in May, while he was appearing at a Chamber of Commerce lunch in Paducah, a small city in western Kentucky. He was asked, how would you handle a Supreme Court vacancy, in 2020, while President Trump was seeking reelection? “Oh,” he said, “we’d fill it.” There’s video. Go look at the smirk on his face as he says it. […]

    The rest of the article is blocked for me (not a member at Daily Beast Inside), so if anyone else can post the rest, please do.

  11. xdrta says

    McConnell tells GOP senators to ‘keep your powder dry’ on vacancy

    In a private letter circulated to his GOP colleagues Friday night, McConnell urged Republican senators to avoid locking themselves into a position on whether they would support taking up Ginsburg’s successor during this election year.

    In the letter, which was obtained by The Washington Post, McConnell noted that Senate Republicans are going to “come under tremendous pressure from the press” to announce a stance on how to handle the nomination.

    “For those of you who are unsure how to answer, or for those inclined to oppose giving a nominee a vote, I urge you all to keep your powder dry,” McConnell told the 52 other GOP senators. “This is not the time to prematurely lock yourselves into a position you may later regret.”

    He also stressed in the letter that there is sufficient time to fill the vacancy this year, even though it is already mid-September. If Republicans lose control of the Senate in November, they will hold the majority until Jan. 3, when the new senators will be sworn in.

    By Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey

  12. raven says


    A woman’s right to choose is in peril.

    No it isn’t.
    It’s now just dead.

    The fundie xians/GOP have been trying to overthrow Roe versus Wade since 1973, 47 years.
    The sharks see massive blood in the water and they are going berserk.
    There is nothing to stop them and they aren’t going to stop.

    The court can reverse itself and does occasionally. Stare Decisis is dead.
    If forced birthing and female slavery is unpopular enough, it will itself be outlawed some day.
    It will take a few decades though, long after I’m dead.

  13. blf says

    (Another off-topic meta, Sorry!) This is a test of adding an external keyboard to the still-booted system. Seems to be Ok, albeit the egodynamics are wrong. The mildly deranged penguin is still cringing, and I’ve finally learned what a mysterious part I found on the floor some time ago is… one of the keyboard’s legs! Lots more testing to do, plus some research and contingency planning for (re-)booting. Previous advice to beware incoming penguins bearing trebuchets still applies. (Return to topic, my luinch,  & Tpyos offerimsg…)

  14. says

    From text quoted by xdrta in comment 11,

    “For those of you who are unsure how to answer, or for those inclined to oppose giving a nominee a vote, I urge you all to keep your powder dry,” McConnell told the 52 other GOP senators. “This is not the time to prematurely lock yourselves into a position you may later regret.”

    It sounds to me like McConnell is trying to get possible defectors from his agenda to keep quiet. He doesn’t want Murkowski, Romney, Collins, etc. telling the press that they may not vote to confirm a Trump nominee.

    Also the “position you may later regret,” is a threat.

  15. says

    3 Big Ways RBG’s Death Could Have An Immediate SCOTUS Impact

    Even before it’s determined whether President Trump will get to fill the seat left vacant by the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, her absence could have a big impact on disputes already before or likely headed to the Supreme Court. […]

    Here are three ways Ginsburg’s death could shift the dynamics of issues that are now on their way to the Supreme Court.

    Obamacare: The Supreme Court already has scheduled for oral arguments in November a major challenge to the Affordable Care Act. Texas and other GOP states are seeking to dismantle the Affordable Care Act under the dubious theory that, when the congressional Republicans zeroed out Obamacare’s individual mandate, they rendered the entire law unconstitutional.

    Because Chief Justice John Roberts had voted in favor of upholding Obamacare when the arguments against it were more plausible, legal observers — and even Senate Republicans — did not see much of a chance of him casting a deciding vote to demolish it. But if the four other conservatives side with Texas, that will create a 4-4 split that will defer back to the lower courts. A district court had fully invalidated the law. The conservative U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit punted, sending it back to the district court for review before the Supreme Court took the case.

    Election Disputes: A half dozen emergency legal disputes over election rules have been kicked up to the Supreme Court. In most cases, the conservative court has stuck together to side with the party wanting to maintain restrictive voting laws that have been relaxed by lower courts. So, Ginsburg’s death doesn’t change that dynamic.

    However, the one exception to the trend was a case out of Rhode Island, where the RNC was trying to overturn a consent decree the state had reached with voter advocates that opened up absentee voting. Three conservatives noted their dissents publicly, but it’s possible that a fourth conservative also would have ruled in the RNC’s favor (justices aren’t required to note their dissents publicly in these kinds of emergency disputes). So Ginsburg’s death may open up the door for the RNC or other outside groups to overturn at SCOTUS the legal agreements states have reached to make voting easier.

    Perhaps the even bigger question is what her death means for any hypothetical disputes — a la Bush v. Gore — that arise after the election. The speculation on how those would play out center on Chief Justice Roberts’ instinct towards stirring the court away from highly politicized decisions when possible. But he may lose some leverage if the other conservatives can band together to deadlock a case. This means the way lower courts handle major post-election disputes will take on extra importance.

    Census: It’s already guaranteed that the Supreme Court will be the final word on whether […] Trump can exclude undocumented immigrants from the congressional apportionment —a move widely believed to be unconstitutional and violation of federal statute. But the timing of when the matter will be decided by the Supreme Court is still up in the air. The Justice Department formally noticed its appeal to the Supreme Court this week.

    Last week, a three-judge panel ruled that Trump’s policy violated the law. (The panel opted not to decide the constitutional questions.) Because the case deals with apportionment, it goes directly to the Supreme Court after getting its initial review from a three-judge panel. And the Supreme Court has to issue some sort of judgement on the dispute — though it’s up to the court whether to have full arguments on the case or to issue a decision more quickly. The justices will also have before them fairly soon a decision whether to immediately block the Trump policy while the case is on appeal.

    The opportunity Trump has to put on the court a justice more likely to rule in his favor makes the decisions about timing and whether to block the policy now much more consequential.

  16. says

    Readers of the article referenced in comment 15, noted that, “Four catholic males who graduated from all male Catholic high school now control the court.”

    That fact gives even more weight to what raven said in comment 12.

  17. says

    David Faris looks at the effects of Ginsburg’s death from a different perspective:

    […] Think of it this way: If […] Trump is re-elected, this was going to happen anyway. I don’t know anyone versed in actuarial realities who thought that Ginsburg would have survived another four years. And she’s not the only elderly liberal on the Court — Stephen Breyer is 82, albeit in much better health. But these were always the stakes. If the American people give Trump another term, they are voting for a 6-3 or perhaps even a 7-2 ultra-conservative majority on the Supreme Court, one that could last decades. Ginsburg’s death changes nothing about that calculus except to eliminate any lingering magical thinking about how the 5-4 conservative split could be preserved in amber until 2025.

    The reality is that Ginsburg’s passing actually creates a trap for the GOP. With court-expansion gaining steam on the progressive left, the last thing that Republicans need right now is to be confronted with the rank hypocrisy of their decision to block Merrick Garland’s nomination by Barack Obama in 2016. Four years ago, the GOP unified around an obviously sham rationale for stonewalling the Garland nomination — that Supreme Court vacancies shouldn’t be filled in an election year. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t even bother clinging to this fiction for very long. Last year, he said openly that he would fill a vacancy in 2020. As if on cue, he released a statement Friday night (which must have been written months ago) that if President Trump nominates a replacement for Ginsburg, that person will receive a floor vote in the U.S. Senate.

    Democrats are doomed, right? Democracy is dead? Not so fast. First, it is not at all clear that McConnell has the votes to proceed with confirming a Supreme Court justice weeks before a presidential election. With a 53-47 majority in the Senate (and Vice President Mike Pence as a tiebreaker), he can only afford to lose three votes. There are multiple incumbent Republicans currently struggling for their political lives in blue or purple states, including Cory Gardner (Col.), Martha McSally (Ariz.), Susan Collins (Maine), and Thom Tillis (North Carolina). If McConnell, who is deeply unpopular, insists on jamming another unpopular conservative zealot onto the Court on behalf of the party’s profoundly unpopular president, the ramifications for these candidates could be catastrophic. […]

    There is a very real possibility that four or more Republicans — likely some combination of the endangered incumbents plus Mitt Romney (Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) band together to spike the effort to fill Ginsburg’s seat either prior to the election, or in the lame duck session should Democrats win the presidency and the Senate.

    That would leave Democrats, at worst, in the same position they would have been in if Biden were to win the presidency and the Senate. Had Ginsburg survived until January, there is no question that she would have stepped down almost immediately. Replacing her would leave the Court’s 5-4 conservative majority intact […] Biden himself is too much of a committed institutionalist to endorse court-packing absent a fresh provocation, and even wildly optimistic November scenarios would leave conservative Democrats like Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (W. Va.) with considerable power to undercut any escalation in the court wars.

    But if Republicans insist on filling Ginsburg’s seat with some Federalist Society drone, it totally changes the calculus, both for Biden and for the most right-wing Democratic senators. […]

    Do you think Democrats wouldn’t expand the Court if McConnell and the Republicans insist on reneging on their own nonsense precedent from 2016? Think again. It wasn’t long after the news broke before Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) announced on Twitter that, “Mitch McConnell set the precedent. No Supreme Court vacancies filled in an election year. If he violates it, when Democrats control the Senate in the next Congress, we must abolish the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court.” Mark my words: this will be the Democratic Party’s official line by the end of the weekend. […]

    This is a fluid and fast-moving situation, but the bottom line is this: If Democrats hold firm and threaten massive escalation, they can stop McConnell from doing his worst here. If they fail, they can still win in November, and then remake the judiciary. While that might seem like cold comfort to those rightly afflicted by Ginsburg’s death, it is better than despair. There’s enough of that going around already.


    As Michael Beschloss, we should immediately stop referring to “court packing” and start using phases like “court reform.” Ed Markey’s phrase “expand the Supreme Court” is also good.

  18. says

    From Mark Sumner: It’s time to get in Good Trouble to preserve the legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    Of course we’re crying. A woman who held us all up for so, so long has finally laid down her burden after the literal fight of a lifetime. We’re hurting. We’re afraid. We miss her already.

    But Republicans are already celebrating the death of pioneering Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as an opportunity. Donald Trump is calling on Republicans to act quickly to confirm whatever nominee he puts forward. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is contemplating whether a no-witnesses impeachment can be topped with a no-hearings confirmation. […]

    There is absolutely no doubt that the GOP will now engage in the Hypocrisy Olympics, working hard to master the art of the 180-degree turn and racing to put Trump’s nominee across the line in record time. But a mere willingness start a hell-in-a-handbasket assembly line may not be enough to put another butt in Ginsburg’s seat on the Court before it even has a chance to cool. Democrats are not about to roll over. This is a fight worth having.

    2020 may have robbed us of both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Rep. John Lewis, but it’s time to get in Good Trouble. And there are multiple ways to fight.

    “From where I sit, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish was not that McConnell would do the right thing. She knew he wouldn’t. It was that we would FIGHT LIKE HELL to preserve her legacy.” — Elie Mystal, The Nation

    Hillary Clinton has offered a three-part plan for fighting against the rapid replacement of Justice Ginsburg:


    There are dozens of Republicans who barely finished articulating why there could not be a nomination for a Justice during an election year. Not only did many of them voice this in 2016, some of them have continued to do so over the last four years in the most adamant terms; terms that having included things like “even if this was a Republican president.” It’s included telling America to “use my words against me” if they didn’t hold true to this claim. It may seem that there are no Republicans left willing to stand up for any principle, especially one they created out of convenience in the last election cycle, but that feeds right into the next point.


    There are definitely Republicans in red states who will feel like falling in line behind Trump and McConnell is the only option. But there are also those—like Susan Collins—who are already finding that standing too close to Trump is leaving them with radiation burns. Push them. Make this an issue. There’s absolutely no doubt that, no matter who Trump nominates, it will be some Federalist Society-approved ultraconservative, ready to tear down everything Justice Ginsburg accomplished and paint the nation in a shade of industrial repression gray. Make it clear that anyone voting for Trump’s nominee—anyone who even supports a vote on Trump’s nominee—is supporting the reversal of every gain made under Ginsburg.


    There are not nearly as many obstacles here as there used to be, because the idea that the Senate runs on rules has been simply discarded by McConnell—who regularly discards the idea of regular order to simply do as he pleases. Still, there are some shreds remaining. To start with, Democrats must refuse a continuing resolution so long as there is any threat of McConnell forwarding a nominee. Unless there is a binding agreement—an agreement that goes way beyond McConnell’s word—shut it all the #$%@ down. In addition, Democrats must deny the Senate unanimous consent. Not just unanimous consent on the nomination, but on everything. The Senate has less than two weeks of scheduled sessions in the remainder of the year. Democrats need to deploy every possible roadblock to scheduling hearings, holding hearings, bringing a nominee forward, scheduling a vote … these are delaying tactics, and there’s little doubt that McConnell will run over them all. Only, if the polls start to show that Americans aren’t happy about the nominee or the process, McConnell might start to lose some of these procedural votes.

    And Americans are already not happy.

    In Times/Siena polls of Maine, North Carolina and Arizona released Friday, voters preferred Mr. Biden to select the next Supreme Court justice by 12 percentage points, 53 percent to 41 percent. In each of the three states, Mr. Biden led by just a slightly wider margin on choosing the next justice than he did over all.
    According to that poll, the desire to see Biden pick the nominee is actually higher than the base support for Biden. This could very well mean that the importance of this issue gets driven home to Republicans up for reelection in a very visible way.

    But if any of the above is going to happen, it’s also going to have to happen in the streets, on the phones, and in every forum where Democrats—and everyone else—can make it clear that the legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg must be preserved at all cost. She carried us this far. Now we have to carry her dream.

    From Rob Reiner:

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s body isn’t even cold and Mitch McConnell is dancing on her grave. This is war. Dems have powerful weapons. Now is the time to use them.

  19. says

    Oh FFS.

    The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an independent federal board of eight commissioners tasked with investigating civil rights issues and recommending remedies, has created a new series of recommendations to better protect minority voting rights during the coronavirus pandemic.

    We will never see it […] By a party line vote, the committee’s four conservative members voted to block its release and end work on the project.

    The reasons for the conservative objections are … interesting. The Trump-appointed Stephen Gilchrist [said] that he found the timing of issuing a report on voting challenges and recommendations so close to an election “somewhat suspect.” (Work on the report began in June.) A second Trump appointee, J. Christian Adams, appears to have gone more directly down a conspiracy path: […] he voted against the report’s release because it “overlooked the disenfranchising effect of mail voting”—claims that resulted in a “mostly false” rating from fact-checkers at PolitiFact a few months back.

    So yeah, there’s just not going to be a report. Won’t happen.

    […] the relatively new impotence of the Commission on Civil Rights, created by the 1957 Civil Rights Act but with no statutory authority, having been stripped of it in 1996. […] The short version is that it, like the Federal Elections Commission and other would-be nonpartisan federal efforts, suffers from the same intentional conservative neglect as the others.

    Each of these commissions rests on the assumption that regardless of party differences, some base level of integrity is necessary for the nation to function at all—whether that be policing against illegal campaign activity or keeping watch against intentional voter suppression efforts. Those assumptions are no longer true; one of the two parties now sees itself as benefiting from the relaxation of both norms. So here we are, again.


  20. says

    From Dahlia Lithwick:

    […] America has lost a warrior, and it’s OK to be crushed. I am flattened. And I will mourn, because she deserves to be mourned. But we are also facing an almighty battle that will rage in the coming weeks, with attempts to fill her seat in an unseemly and grotesque manner. It will be hard and painful, but if you find yourself feeling hopeless and powerless, then you are emphatically doing it wrong. Because if anyone had a right to say “nah,” it was the woman who couldn’t get a job or a clerkship after graduating at the top of her class. But she pushed on, and then she pushed forward. She stepped into the fight of the phenomenal women who paved the path before, and now, well, it’s time to step into her fight and get it finished. I think the Notorious RBG would have peered owlishly out at all of us tonight and asked what the heck we are waiting for. And I think we can probably honor her best by getting to it.


  21. says

    Follow-up to comment 17.

    Take Thom Tillis (North Carolina) out of that list. He has already said that he will go along with McConnell jamming through a replacement for Ginsburg.

  22. says

    Conservatives are arguing that Ginsburg should be replaced on the Supreme Court before the election.

    […] Conservative journalists worked to rebut arguments that the Senate should wait until after the election to name a justice. Democrats have pointed to a statement that McConnell made in 2016 when he torpedoed Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Judge Merrick Garland: “The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”

    RealClearInvestigations writer Mark Hemingway claimed in a tweet that “The McConnell rule was always no SCOTUS noms in an election year –but only if WH and Senate are controlled by different parties.” Daily Wire reporter Ryan Saavedra retweeted the post and added that “the media is already intentionally lying about Mitch McConnell said in the past.” Federalist senior editor Mollie Hemingway echoed the sentiment during an appearance on Fox News.

    Fact checkers at the New York Times have previously disputed similar claims made by McConnell himself, who since 2016 has tried to shift his justification for blocking Garland with the different-parties argument. McConnell released a statement on Friday night noting that he intends to hold a vote for Trump’s nominee in the Senate. On Fox News, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz offered one argument for installing a new justice before the election, which Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen praised on Twitter:

    Ted Cruz with an excellent point. If election is litigated can’t risk having just 8 justices and the possibility of a deadlocked court. Could cause a constitutional crisis.

    The Washington Examiner published an op-ed by Eddie Scarry titled, “McConnell and Trump Need to Fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Seat,” which seemed to allow that the Senate majority leader wasn’t hewing to any “rule” in 2016, nor would he be in 2020:

    True, McConnell’s justification in 2016 for blocking then-President Barack Obama’s nominee to the court was that we were in the heat of an election and that the choice should be left up to voters.

    It was a naked power grab. There’s no way around it. And it would be this time, too. But let’s not kid ourselves.

    […] Rod Dreher, writing in his blog at the American Conservative, noted in a post titled “OMG RBG!” that he supports filling the seat before the election but worries that it could hurt the country:

    As a conservative and a Christian, I am all in for what McConnell proposes. I have said in this space before that as the country moves left, I believe the federal courts are going to be the last line of defense for religious liberty and the things for which social conservatives care most. The radicalization of the Democratic Party has deepened my conviction on this point.

    Thinking about the country, though, I cannot see how doing this before the election serves the common good.

    But: do we really have a common good anymore?

    So replacing RBG would be a “naked power grab” that wouldn’t serve the common good, and the GOP should do it anyway. OMG, indeed.


  23. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death is a grave, sorrowful and ill-timed calamity in the escalating crisis of American democracy, the crisis of the American state. The only relevant and timely thing I can think to add is this: You can’t work this kind of problem or operate in this kind of environment unless you’re ready to say what you’re going to do. You can’t start by saying McConnell has to follow his rule. You need to say what you’ll do when he doesn’t. Otherwise you’ve got one side with words and the other with the ability to act. And that’s a loser’s hand.

    The thing to do, if Republicans take this course and the Democrats take the presidency and the Senate, to add either two or four new seats to the Supreme Court, for a total of our 11 or 13.

    We are here because of the Republican party’s increasing unwillingness to accept limits on political action. To up the ante on that tendency, to meet it, is itself a grave threat to democratic governance. But an even graver threat is to remove any mechanism of consequences or accountability. Then there is truly no limit or disincentive to corruption, law breaking and bad action. That reality is precisely the one in which we currently find ourselves.

    In war or in sports or really any kind of contest you never let the other side hold all the initiative. You can say that McConnell and Trump shouldn’t take this step, that the American people should get to decide. Because the reality is they can take this step. So what will you do when they do that. The answer is you take the clearest and most economical step to undo the corrupt act. Adding new Justices is the way to do that.

    Make this new corruption a centerpiece of the campaign, hold it over the heads of embattled Republican senators, try in every way to get a just result, which is to put this in the hands of the next President and Congress. But make clear that if it happens Democrats will undo it next year if the people give them to power to do so.

  24. says

    DeJoy’s corruption spreads all the way down from Trump and Mnuchin

    The federal judge who shut down Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s sabotage of the U.S. Postal Service sort of just scratched the surface when he said the case presented to him showed that DeJoy and Donald Trump are “involved in a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service” and said “this attack on the Postal Service is likely to irreparably harm the states’ ability to administer the 2020 general election.” There are a lot of rocks being turned over right now, and every one of them reveals a teeming mass of corruption, not just with DeJoy but also with USPS Board of Governors Chairman Robert “Mike” Duncan, a major Republican donor, former RNC chairman, and great friend of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

    DeJoy’s appointment to the job is one of the first very big problems for him, for Trump, and for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has emerged as taking an inappropriate, potentially illegal role in the agency’s sabotage. DeJoy’s political contributions to the Trump campaign and to Republicans, including contributions right after the Postmaster job opened up, at the very least stink and at most open DeJoy up to criminal liability.

    New discoveries by the Campaign Legal Center show a pattern of very large donations from DeJoy family members and employees at least through 2018, again looking very much like an illegal straw donor scheme—a very cozy one. Three of the highly paid former employees DeJoy brought with him to the USPS were involved in the [illegal] donation pattern.

    […] DeJoy frequently used money to get what he wanted, or in one case, what his kid wanted. A “series of large checks” written by DeJoy and his wife (Dr. Aldona Wos, whose nomination to be the next U.S. ambassador to Canada is pending) to the Duke University athletic department was mysteriously followed by their son Andrew getting a walk-on spot on the tennis team full of top national and international prospects. Which Andrew was not. Anyway, yeah, lots of what looks like bribes all through his personal and professional life […]

    David C. Williams, a former Postal Service inspector general […] said that “Governor Barger actually helped him [DeJoy] finish a number of sentences before he got stuck” in one interview. How’d he get there? It sure looks like it was through Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. […] all through the spring he [Mnuchin] was leaning very, very hard on the board, and according to Williams, using a line of credit that would be extended to the service for coronavirus relief as leverage for taking control over much of the agency’s operations. The USPS is an independent agency, completely outside of the Treasury Department. “The Treasury was using that responsibility to make demands that I believed would turn the Postal Service into a political tool […]″ Williams told the Congressional Progressive Caucus last month.

    … three separate email chains referencing calls with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other agency officials over nine days in early April. Two people familiar with the matter say Treasury drove a hard line, demanding operating control over the agency in exchange for the $10 billion congressionally approved loan. Such a demand was unprecedented, postal experts said, and appeared to lead the USPS to hire another law firm in the spring to study the legality of the issue. That firm, Mayer Brown, concluded that Treasury’s request was illegal. [text excerpt quoted from The Washington Post]

    Mnuchin backed off by mid-April from his effort to just take over the Postal Service outright. DeJoy appeared on the scene in April, during the time Mnuchin was trying to effect a takeover of the agency. He was selected in May and took on the job in June. S. David Fineman, a former chairman of the board of governors, told AP that Mnuchin’s involvement was “unprecedented” and said many questions remain about why drastic changes were put in place so soon after DeJoy became postmaster general. “You put together this piece and you put together that piece and it just doesn’t add up,” Fineman said.

    Here’s another element of the whole rotten deal that makes it very good that the federal courts are involved, because it sure as hell seems like Trump staying in office is a big part of the plan. In the documents the Post obtained are documents showing that the “USPS occasionally relied on the legal counsel of well-connected Republicans, including Stefan C. Passantino, who once served as a top White House lawyer under President Trump.” He was brought in by Duncan (the friend of McConnell, Trump booster, former RNC guy). Passantino’s new role in the Trump circle is as “part of a new pro-Trump legal coalition preparing for the possibility of a contested election, a relationship that has raised new ethical flags among the administration’s critics.”

    “I see President Trump’s fingerprints all over,” Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight told the Post. “It’s clear from the president’s public comments, and the actions of his administration, he has a major agenda for the post office—and we see a lot of it in black and white here.” He added, “Why did the Postal Service need the services of Stefan Passantino when his primary claim to fame, the primary reason you hire him, is to carry out Donald Trump’s personal and political defense work?”

    There’s a lot more in those documents from the Post to be plumbed. But what is immediately clear is that DeJoy is not there to make the Postal Service great again. He’s there to cripple it, screw up the mail-in vote to help Trump’s reelection, and then sell the scraps to the companies he still has a financial stake in. He’s got to go.

  25. says

    Follow-up to comment 21.

    And … another Republican Senator falls in line, saying he will support McConnell.

    Graham signals support for confirming a Supreme Court nominee this year

    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) signaled he intends to support President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) efforts to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court this year after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Friday.

    The South Carolina senator pointed to recent statements he’s made saying that he would back the filling of a vacancy in 2020 before the election.

    “After [Brett] Kavanaugh, the rules have changed as far as I’m concerned,” he said in an August article he highlighted, apparently referencing the acrimony over Kavanaugh’s confirmation in 2018. [Bullshit]

    […] [Graham] said a vacancy in 2020 would be handled differently than in 2016, when the Senate GOP blocked a pick from former President Barack Obama, because this year the same party controls the Senate and White House. [bullshit excuse, bullshit explanation]

    “Well, Merrick Garland was a different situation. You had the president of one party nominating, and you had the Senate in the hands of the other party. A situation where you’ve got them both would be different. I don’t want to speculate, but I think appointing judges is a high priority for me in 2020,” Graham said in May of this year. […]

    Graham’s remarks come after Democrats flooded social media with video of Graham from 2016 saying he’d uphold the same standard Republicans set that year in 2020.

    “I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination,” Graham said in the resurfaced video from 2016.

    Graham is just the latest of several GOP senators to say they would support efforts to fill the vacancy this year, and Trump and McConnell have already said they intend to move forward with a nominee. […]

    “I fully understand where President @realDonaldTrump is coming from,” Graham responded. […]

    I predict that all of the Republicans in the Senate will be in full-speed-ahead mode to replace Ginsburg.

    Democrats can bemoan their hypocrisy all they want, but that won’t affect Republicans. Constituents and Democratic Senators have to actually take action. See comment 23.

  26. tomh says

    Trump says Republicans have an “obligation” to fill Ginsburg’s seat
    Jacob Knutson

    President Trump wrote in a tweet Saturday morning that Republicans have an “obligation” to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court following her death Friday.

    “We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices,” the president said, tagging the Republican Party. “We have this obligation, without delay!”

    This is a done deal. Trying to find 4 Republican senators to buck the tide is worse than the old needle in a haystack.

  27. says

    tomh, @26, I agree. Come hell or high water, they’re going to do it. Now we have to figure out how to deal with it.

    Also, I really don’t get how some people can still hold onto the belief that Republicans will honor what they said before. That’s not going to happen.

  28. tomh says

    Lynna @27
    Yeah, I see it as a big break for Trump. It looks like this will overwhelm issues like his botching of the pandemic and all his other disasters, at least for now, as it moves the spotlight to McConnell and the Senate. The more time the Democrats spend on whining about hypocrisy, the less time they will have to attack Trump on things that matter and that people might listen to.

  29. John Morales says


    The more time the Democrats spend on whining about hypocrisy, the less time they will have to attack Trump on things that matter and that people might listen to.

    How different would it have been had you written “calling out hypocrisy”, instead.

    (But sure, hypocrisy isn’t something that matters — to you)

  30. tomh says

    Trump’s health secretary asserts control over all new rules, including for vaccines

    Heath and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar wrote a memo this week giving him authority over all new rules and banning any of the health agencies, including the FDA, from signing any “regarding the nation’s foods, medicines, medical devices and other products, including vaccines,” the New York Times reports…

    …Dr. Peter Lurie, a former associate commissioner of the FDA, told the Times the Azar memo amounted to a “power grab.”

    Brian Harrison, Azar’s chief of staff, told the Times the changes were simply a “housekeeping matter.”

  31. says

    How Arizona’s Senate Race Could Impact SCOTUS Confirmation Fight

    Yes, it’s true. Mark Kelly could make a difference.

    If Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly wins a seat in the U.S. Senate, he could take office as early as Nov. 30, shrinking the GOP’s Senate majority at a crucial moment and complicating the path to confirmation for […] Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.

    Kelly has maintained a consistent polling lead over Republican Sen. Martha McSally, who was appointed to the seat held by John McCain, who died in 2018.

    Because the contest is a special election to finish McCain’s term, the winner could be sworn in as soon as the results are officially certified. Other winners in the November election won’t take office until January.

    Trump has pledged to nominate a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal icon who died Friday, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed that Trump’s nominee “will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

    If Kelly wins, the timing when he formally takes office could be crucial in determining who replaces Ginsburg. It could eliminate a Republican vote in favor of Trump’s nominee — the GOP currently has 53 seats in the 100-member chamber — or require McConnell to speed up the nomination process.

    With McSally in the Senate, four GOP defections could defeat a nomination, while a tie vote could be broken by Vice President Mike Pence. […]

    “If Mark Kelly comes out on top, HE could block President Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee from being confirmed,” she [McSally] wrote.

    […] Arizona law requires election results to be officially certified on the fourth Monday after the election, which falls this year on Nov. 30. The certification could be delayed up to three days if the state has not received election results from any of the 15 counties.

    Mary O’Grady, a Democratic lawyer with expertise in election law, said the deadlines are firm and there’s little room for delay. […]

  32. says

    From Republican Senator Susan Collins:

    President Trump has the constitutional authority to make a nomination to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, and I would have no objection to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s beginning the process of reviewing his nominee’s credentials. Given the proximity of the presidential election, however, I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election.

    In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd.

  33. says

    Pelosi Refuses to Rule Out Impeachment to Delay Supreme Court Confirmation

    “Protecting our democracy requires us to use every arrow in our quiver.”

    […] “We have our options,” Pelosi told George Stephanopoulos when he asked her about speculation that the House could impeach Trump or Attorney General William Barr to delay the Supreme Court confirmation process. “We have arrows in our quiver that I’m not about to discuss right now.”

    Pelosi said she was uninterested in using the threat of a government shutdown to stall the confirmation. But everything else, it appears, is on the table: “We take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. We have a responsibility to meet the needs of the American people,” she told Stephanopoulos with a smile. “Protecting our democracy requires us to use every arrow in our quiver.”

    Pelosi also did not answer when asked if she would consider expanding the number of justices on the court next term, if Democrats were to win the Senate. “We should be very calm, we should be inspired by Ruth Bader Ginsberg,” she said. “She was brilliant, and she was strategic, and she was successful.”

  34. says

    From Wonkette:

    […] When people tell you who they are, believe them. Republicans do not act in good faith, with this, or anything else. Ever. There is no consistency that we can count on, outside of the fact that they will always act in bad faith and they will always be trolls. Operate on that assumption, now and forever.

    […] This should be seen as a freeing moment for anyone still hanging on to the idea that there is any kind of logical consistency with the way the Right acts or what they believe. There isn’t. Not a single thing. Think “Oh, they can’t criticize a veteran?” They can absolutely criticize a veteran. Think “Well, they can’t call so-and-so a socialist?” They can call anyone they damn well want a socialist. Think that if you “just let them have” whatever thing it is they want that they’ll return the favor? They won’t. Think if you’re careful to be reasonable and not to “go to far” or do anything that you think will “frighten” them that they won’t act like whatever it is you do end up doing is the equivalent of stabbing them in the face several times? Because they totally will. […]

    There is only being strongly and steadfastly ourselves and not paying attention to Republicans or what they want, only what we want and what we want to do for other people. That’s it.


  35. says

    The Top Contender for RBG’s Seat Has a Fundamentally Cruel Vision of the Law

    Here’s what we can expect if Trump fills the late justice’s seat.

    […] The consensus among legal and political analysts is that Judge Amy Coney Barrett, whom Trump placed on a federal appeals court in 2017, is the leading candidate to fill Ginsburg’s seat. Barrett gained fame during her confirmation hearing after Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein made inappropriate comments about the judge’s devout Catholic faith. She is a hardcore conservative, but that description doesn’t quite capture how radically her jurisprudence differs from Ginsburg’s. The justice viewed the Bill of Rights and civil rights acts as generous guarantees of human dignity that must be read expansively to achieve their purpose. By contrast, Barrett’s view of the law is fundamentally cruel. During her three years on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Barrett has either written or joined a remarkable number of opinions that harm […] powerless individuals who rely on the judiciary to safeguard their rights.

    Faced with two plausible readings of a law, fact, or precedent, Barrett always seems to choose the harsher, stingier interpretation. Can job applicants sue employers whose policies have a disproportionately deleterious impact on older people? Barrett said no. Should courts halt the deportation of an immigrant who faced torture at home? Barrett said no. Should they protect refugees denied asylum on the basis of xenophobic prejudice? Barrett said no. Should they shield prisoners from unjustified violence by correctional officers? Barrett said no. Should minors be allowed to terminate a pregnancy without telling their parents if a judge has found that they’re mature enough to make the decision? Barrett said no. Should women be permitted to obtain an abortion upon discovering a severe fetal abnormality? Barrett said no.

    There is no question that, if confirmed, Barrett would cast the fifth vote to either hollow out Roe v. Wade or overturn it altogether. Similarly, there is no doubt that Barrett would dramatically expand the Second Amendment, invalidating gun control measures around the country. It’s quite possible, perhaps even likely, that within a year of her confirmation, Americans will be forbidden from terminating a pregnancy in 21 states—but permitted to purchase assault weapons and carry firearms in public in every state.

    Abortion and guns, however, are just the beginning. Barrett’s confirmation would heighten the odds that the Supreme Court will eradicate the entire Affordable Care Act in 2021, stripping health insurance from more than 20 million people. […]

    Barrett and her conservative colleagues would also take a machete to the thicket of laws that protect the health and safety of millions of Americans. The current conservative justices have already telegraphed their desire to invalidate federal statutes that direct executive agencies to limit pollution, guard against labor exploitation, monitor Wall Street, and protect consumers from predatory practices. Barrett’s confirmation would be a catastrophe for the climate: She may well overrule the landmark 5–4 decision, long despised by conservatives, that compels the federal government to regulate carbon emissions. Even if Congress passes new legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the court’s conservative supermajority may strike it down, much as the Republican-appointed justices blocked the Clean Power Plan in 2016.

  36. says

    Crowd Cheers as the President Gloats About This One Time the Cops Shot a Reporter With a Rubber Bullet for No Reason

    Friday, at a rally in Bemidji, Minnesota, […] Trump told his audience a story about the MSNBC journalist Ali Velshi. “I remember this guy Velshi,” the president said (he pronounced it “Welshy”):

    He got hit on the knee with a canister of tear gas. And he went down. He didn’t—heeee was down. ‘My knee! My knee!’ [Crowd laughs] Nobody cared, these guys didn’t care. They moved him aside. [Crowd laughs.] And they just walked right through—it was like, it was the most beautiful thing. No, because after we take all that crap for weeks and weeks, they would take this crap. And then you finally see men get up there and [punches fist forward] go right through, did—wasn’t it really a beautiful sight? [Crowd cheers.]

    It’s called law and order. Law and order!

    […] The president’s remarks celebrating police violence against a reporter, to the delight of a laughing and hooting crowd, were just one more thing the president said. […]

    Because Velshi was in the middle of reporting from Minneapolis when the police attacked him and his crew, the incident the president was talking about was recorded on camera and broadcast on television, and it is available to watch. It was during the unrest in Minnesota in May, after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

    None of it happened the way the president described: The police had showed up on the scene and begun firing tear gas, unprovoked, at the protesters and reporters there. Velshi himself was hit with a rubber bullet, not a gas canister. (He and his crew had been gassed, but not hit with canisters, earlier in the segment.) In the video, he never says “My knee! My knee!”; he says “Oh, shit!” when the bullet hits him, and then “All right, guys, I got hit. Yeah, I got hit. Hold on.” He does not fall down, but limps over to the curb and then leans against a car. The police do not move him aside, but remain down the block, where they fired from, as MSNBC cuts away to another reporter on a different part of the protest scene.

    What [Trump] offered, and [Trump’s] crowd cheered for, was a punched-up, fictionalized version of events: a helpless, whimpering reporter pushed aside by bold, aggressive police action. The actual, desultory brutality of it wasn’t enough. Trump had to lie about it, to give the crowd a story of police whose ruthlessness they could admire, and a reporter they could despise. That was what they’d come for. That’s what he gives them.

    A sickening video snippet is available at the link. Hear the rabid crowd roar.

  37. says

    From Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska:

    For weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election. Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed.

    I did not support taking up a nomination eight months before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice Scalia. We are now even closer to the 2020 election — less than two months out — and I believe the same standard must apply.

  38. says

    ActBlue raises $100 million in 38 hours after Supreme Court announced Ginsburg’s death.

    Washington Post link

    The Democratic fundraising platform ActBlue announced Sunday it has raised $100 million from small-dollar donors since news broke Friday night of Ginsburg’s death, in a sign Democrats are rapidly mobilizing ahead of a potential Supreme Court nomination battle.

    “Small-dollar donors have now given $100 million on ActBlue since 8 p.m. ET Friday, investing in candidates up and down the ballot and orgs on the front lines of the impending judicial confirmation fight,” ActBlue said in a tweet Sunday morning. “The grassroots is ready to fight to honor Justice Ginsburg’s legacy.”

    By contrast, the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and two affiliated fundraising committees raised $210 million in all of August. ActBlue has raised nearly half that amount in the 38 hours since the Supreme Court announced Ginsburg had died.

  39. tomh says

    Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she doesn’t support filling Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat before the election

    Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — one of several closely watched Republican senators who could play a crucial role in a vote — said Sunday that she does not support filling Ginsburg’s seat before the November election. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Saturday that whoever is elected in November should nominate Ginsburg’s replacement.

    Both of them have said they “don’t support” it, neither one has said they will vote against it.

  40. says

    Trump celebrates with his faithful over a chance to replace a liberal icon with a conservative on the Supreme Court

    Washington Post link

    […] Trump told a crowd here [North Carolina] he would nominate a woman to the Supreme Court next week while basking in the loud repeated chants of “Fill that seat!” after jokingly polling the crowd of supporters over whether he should pick a man or a woman.

    The president’s upcoming choice of a Supreme Court nominee — which has jolted the presidential race with about six weeks to go — took center stage during his airplane tarmac rally, with a crowd raucously responding to his rally rhetoric.

    […] Trump even seemed taken aback, and pleased, by the crowd repeatedly cheering “Fill that seat!” about 24 hours after the death of the justice. He said he would have his campaign team make T-shirts.

    “That’s what we are going to do. We’re going to fill that seat,” Trump said.

    But after he vowed to replace Ginsburg with a woman — and to do it next week — he took two polls, which he described jokingly as “very scientific” about whether he should pick a woman or a man. For minutes he talked about the issue before veering off to other topics. He then predicted that the news media would attack him for surveying the crowd.

    “Thom Tillis said yes,” he said of picking a woman, referring to an offstage conversation he had with the state’s junior Republican senator, who is in a tough reelection battle.

    Picking a woman got far more chants than picking a man — which pleased [Trump].

    “That’s a very accurate poll because that’s the way I feel,” he said. “I actually like women much more than I like men. I have to say.” […]

    More at the link, including a description of the vigil held for Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Washington D.C.

  41. says

    tomh @39, “Both of them have said they “don’t support” it, neither one has said they will vote against it.”

    Yeah, I noticed that. Those Republican Senators are giving themselves some wiggle room. They may fall in line later and vote like McConnell demands.

  42. says

    Democratic super PAC to hit Trump in battleground states over coronavirus deaths

    That sounds like a good approach to me. After all, 200,000+ people have died in the coronavirus pandemic in the USA … and Trump is in charge, with his stupid “thumb’s up” look and his lies.

    Maybe this is branding that Trump will appreciate?

    […] Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic is the target of a new ad set to launch in the battleground states of Nevada and North Carolina that accuses [Trump] of lying about the virus based on recordings released of his interviews earlier this year with Bob Woodward.

    Democratic super PAC MeidasTouch’s 60-second ad, exclusively shared with The Hill on Sunday, hits Trump over his conflicting public and private comments about the coronavirus. [Video available at the link.]

    “He lied. People died,” the narrator of the ad says.

    The ad is backed by a six-figure TV buy in North Carolina and Nevada. Trump carried North Carolina in 2016; he lost Nevada to then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

    Recent polls have shown a tight race in North Carolina between Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Other polls have shown Biden leading Trump in Nevada.

    The ad cuts clips of what Trump said publicly about the virus with recordings of his interviews with Woodward for his new book “Rage,” in which the president acknowledged the threat of the virus and that he was downplaying its threat to the nation.

    “The facts are clear: Donald Trump’s intentional effort to suppress critical information about the disproportionate dangers of COVID-19 has now killed over 200,000 Americans. The families of the deceased Americans will never be the same, and the President is directly responsible,” said Brett Meiselas, one of the founders of the PAC.

    “We are excited to double down on our investments in providing air cover in key battleground states to continue exposing Donald Trump as an unparalleled and irredeemable cancer on America,” he added. […]

  43. says

    Class Acts Wohl And Burkman Hysterically Scream At People Mourning Ginsburg’s Death

    Wonkette link

    If any of us were Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, we would be laying low right now. Why, just this week, he and his weird friend got caught trying to stage an FBI raid on Burkman’s house because they stiffed the actors they hired to pretend to be FBI agents. That is embarrassing. Like, all of it. Including the fact that they didn’t even have friends they could ask to pretend to be the FBI agents.

    But Wohl and Burkman are not laying low. In fact, last night, they went out on the town, with a megaphone, in order to “troll” people paying respect to deceased Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, gleefully yelling that “Roe v Wade” is dead. […]

    Truly, what is more “pro-life” than harassing people at a memorial? The Westboro Baptist Church was fond of that tactic as well. In fact, Wohl and Burkman’s entire brand could actually be defined as “Westboro Baptist Church, but with fewer people and make it stupid. Well, more stupid.”

    Naturally, Jim Hoft, The Stupidest Man On The Internet, was thrilled by this. Because boy, did they ever show us! People got mad at them for acting like assholes, which means they win. You may recall these rules of engagement from middle school. […]

    Let us note that when Wohl and Burkman needed people to pretend to be FBI agents and raid Burkman’s home in order to make it look like the FBI was super interested in whatever it was they had on James Mattis, Jim Hoft was nowhere to be found. Wohl and Burkman had to resort to Craigslist and ended up getting screwed because they didn’t pay the people they hired from Craigslist.

    Now, I know that some people may be thinking “Jeez, why are we even paying attention to these people?” The answer is that we pay attention to them because they are embarrassing and stupid and we gotta do better at making Republicans own their embarrassing and stupid shit, instead of graciously ignoring it because it is so beneath us. That only helps them.

    Video snippets are available at the link.

  44. says

    From Jane Mayer, writing for The New Yorker:

    As the Democrats weigh their options about how to stop Mitch McConnell from filling Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat, one tactic that they should forget about immediately is arguing that it would be hypocritical of McConnell to jam in a new Justice so close to an election. Obviously, it nakedly is, given that Ginsburg died forty-five days before the 2020 election, and this was McConnell’s rationale for blocking Barack Obama’s nominee two hundred and sixty-nine days before the 2016 election. But anyone familiar with the Republican senator from Kentucky’s long political career knows he couldn’t care less about hypocrisy; like […] Trump, he is immune to shame.

    “McConnell will do anything that serves his interests. We know that,” Norman Ornstein told me, shortly after learning of Ginsburg’s death. Ornstein, a political scientist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute whose expertise is Congress, has known every Senate Majority Leader during the past fifty years—including McConnell, quite well. The question now, though, is how McConnell will define his self-interest. […]

    behind closed doors McConnell has been raising money from big conservative donors for months by promising that no matter how close it might be to the election, he would install Trump’s Supreme Court pick. As a former Trump White House official told me, “McConnell’s been telling our donors that when R.B.G. meets her reward, even if it’s October, we’re getting our judge. He’s saying it’s our October surprise.”

    But now that the moment is here, the calculation isn’t quite so simple. On Friday night, McConnell released a statement vowing that a Trump nominee “will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.” While McConnell’s obstruction of Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, made him the bane of liberals, he has regarded it with pride as the single “most important decision I’ve made in my political career.” He and many others believe it handed Trump his victory by motivating the politically powerful evangelical bloc to vote for Trump, despite their doubts about him, because he promised to fill the Court vacancy with a social conservative. It’s entirely possible that the same scenario will play out again this November, with Trump and McConnell offering another enticing gift to evangelicals.

    But McConnell is also what Ornstein calls “a ruthless pragmatist,” whose No. 1 goal has always been to remain Majority Leader of the Senate. He’s made the conservative makeover of the federal court system his pet project, but if he faces a choice between another right-wing Justice or keeping his control of the Senate, no one who knows him well thinks he’d hesitate for a moment to do whatever is necessary to stay in power. […]

    The problem for McConnell now is that it may be impossible for him to both confirm a new Justice and hold onto his personal power as Majority Leader. A power grab for the Court that is too brutish may provoke so much outrage among Democrats and independents that it could undermine Republican Senate candidates in November. As he knows better than anyone, polls show that Republican hopes of holding the Senate are very much in doubt. If Joe Biden is elected, enabling a Democratic Vice-President to cast the deciding vote in the Senate, Democrats need only to pick up three seats to win a majority. And, at the moment, according to recent polls, Democratic challengers stand good chances against Republican incumbents in Maine, Arizona, and Colorado. Democrats also have shots at capturing seats in South Carolina and Iowa.

    […] Given those complications, Ornstein predicts, McConnell may “use some elements of delay.” McConnell conspicuously laid out no timetable when promising a Senate vote for Trump’s nominee. Ornstein speculates that he may hold off on a vote until after the election to provide cover for his members but, meanwhile, obtain private pledges of support from them. It would mean he’d have the votes to ram a confirmation through the Senate during the lame-duck period after the election, regardless of who has won the White House.

    Senate watchers suggest that the first thing that McConnell probably did after learning of Ginsburg’s death was to call every member of his caucus, in order to make an assessment about whether it would help or hurt his members to force a Supreme Court confirmation vote. On Friday night, he also issued a thinly veiled warning to his caucus members to shut up, or, as he put it, “be cautious and keep your powder dry.” […]

    […] Since the nation’s founding, the Senate had confirmed seventeen Supreme Court nominees in election years [at the time when Scalia died]. Moreover, the “American people” had made a choice—they had elected Obama. But, despite declaring themselves as conservatives who respect precedent, McConnell, in consultation with Leo, simply invented a new rule to cover their radical defiance of past precedents and accepted norms. […]

    New Yorker link

    More at the link.

  45. says

    Bits and pieces of campaign news, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    […] the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found Biden ahead among likely voters nationwide, 52% to 43%. The gender gap is enormous — Trump leads by four points among men, while Biden leads by 22 points among women — but the education gap is even bigger: Trump leads by seven points among those without college degrees, while Biden leads by 31 points among those with college degrees.

    Yeah, so that’s why Trump and his lackey Betsy DeVos, (current United States Secretary of Education), are damaging the educational system in the USA.

    In a striking sign of the times, Hungary’s anti-democratic prime minister, Viktor Orban, is now publicly supporting Trump’s re-election bid, condemning Democrats for supporting “moral imperialism.”

    * How did Democratic donors respond to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing? In part by grabbing their wallets: in the 9 p.m. (E.T.) hour, ActBlue received $6.2 million, which was a record for the donation-processing site. In the following hour, donors gave another $6.3 million. […]

    * At a campaign event on Friday night, Trump said, in reference to Biden and the coming election, “If I lose to him, I don’t know what I’m gonna do. I will never speak to you again. You’ll never see me again.” Some suggested that’d be an effective Democratic ad. Team Biden apparently agreed, turning it into a 10-second video that’s been seen 14 million times.


    Ha! That last bit is funny. You can view the video here:

  46. tomh says

    Justice Dept. targets Portland, New York and Seattle over protests
    By Devlin Barrett
    September 21, 2020

    The Justice Department labeled the cities of Portland, Ore., New York and Seattle on Monday as jurisdictions “that have permitted violence and destruction of property,” targeting them for possible cuts in federal funding.

    Following a memorandum that President Trump issued earlier this month, the Justice Department published a list of cities that the White House wants to get more aggressive on civil unrest in the wake of police shootings and killings.

    “We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement…

    The three cities the Justice Department identified are the same ones listed in the president’s original memorandum…

    The Trump administration said it is considering adding other cities to the list, if officials withdraw officers from policing problem areas, or if a city leader “disempowers or defunds” police departments or “unreasonably refuses” to accept law enforcement assistance from the federal government. The Justice Department may also add cities to the list based on “any other related factors the Attorney General deems appropriate,” the department said in its announcement.

  47. says

    As US death toll tops 200,000, Trump moves the goalposts (again)

    Trump boasted that if domestic fatalities could be lower than 200,000, it would be proof that he did “a very good job.” The goalposts are now on the move.

    […] it was on April 20 — five months ago yesterday — when Donald Trump said he believed the overall American death toll from the pandemic would be between 50,000 and 60,000 people. Later that week, the president’s forecast had already been exposed as tragically wrong.

    Exactly one week later, on April 27, Trump said the overall American death toll would “probably” be between 60,000 and 70,000 people. It took about four days for this projection to be discredited, too.

    On April 29, the president suggested the number of fatalities in the United States could be as low as 65,000. Predictably, we soon after passed that projected total.

    On May 3, Trump acknowledged that he was moving the goalposts again. “I used to say 65,000,” the Republican said, pointing to a total he promoted just a few days earlier. “And now I’m saying 80,000 or 90,000.” At the same event, the president upped the projection once more: “Look, we’re going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people.”

    A few days later, the Republican said fatalities could reach 110,000 — a total the United States eclipsed over the summer. In June, Trump decided it was time to move the goalposts much further, declaring his belief that the domestic death toll “could be heading” to 200,000, “depending on how it goes.”

    In fact, at one point, the president boasted that if the number of U.S. fatalities could be lower than 200,000, it would be proof that the White House did “a very good job.”

    Tragically, we crossed the 200,000-death threshold over the weekend. Asked about this late last week, [Trump] did his best to characterize failure as a success — while simultaneously moving the goalposts for the eighth time.

    “[I]f you look at the initial projections, it was up to 240, 250 thousand if everybody did their job…. If we did a really good job, with the shutdown, which we did, it would be 240 — up to 240, 250 thousand people…. We have done a phenomenal job with respect to COVID-19.”

    Trump went on to say he and his team have “done an incredible job,” adding, “The numbers are amazing. We’ve done a great job…. We have done an incredible job. Throughout the world, I get called by prime ministers and presidents saying, ‘Sir, the job you’ve done is amazing.'” [Big pile of bullshit.]

    Asked to identify these unnamed prime ministers and presidents who’ve praised his catastrophic performance, [Trump] abruptly ended the Q&A with reporters.

    […] the pattern is unmistakable: Trump’s standard for success never seems to stay in place for long. It wasn’t long ago when Americans were told the domestic death toll could top out at 200,000, and now that this gut-wrenching total has been cleared, the president has some new numbers for us to focus on: 240,000 and 250,000.

    We can all hope the United States never reaches these higher death tolls, but if we do, there Trump will stand, assuring us that he’s nevertheless succeeded, and it will be time to replant the goalposts once more.

  48. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    1: There is no serious or credible way to fight to prevent another corrupt high Court appointment without promising to add seats to the Court if Democrats control the White House and the Senate next year. Anything short of that amounts to playacting.

    2: I don’t expect Joe Biden to push this line. It is probably politically best that he not do so. Clearly the very idea of it cuts against every bit of his experience. But he also mustn’t rule it out. The optimal position for him is to focus on the wrongness of another corrupt nomination and say he hopes the President doesn’t force a future Democratic Senate to do so.

    3: A few readers have told me this all amounts to ‘taking the bait’ and recasting the final month of the election as a battle over abortion rights. I think this is incorrect on a few levels – not only factually in the immediate sense but also in the implicit judgments contained within it. Regardless of one’s tactical or strategic judgments, these corrupt appointments to the Court go vastly beyond the choice issue. They amount to a decades’ long veto over any progressive legislation […] When I say ‘progressive’ here I mean it in the more expansive sense. We may be on the cusp of the Court overturning Obamacare on the most facially flimsy or preposterous grounds. Nor is it only about legislation. It is also about locking in anti-democratic tools for entrenching Republican power – voter ID, poll taxes, Census-rigging. The choice issue is absolutely critical and very much on the line here. But you’re fooling yourself if you think this is uniquely or even mostly about choice or reproductive rights. It’s about locking in Republican power that can’t be won at the ballot box.

    4: I have seen a number of people say that Democrats shouldn’t limit themselves to nullifying corrupt Court appointments. They should also promise to abolish the filibuster and admit DC and Puerto Rico to the Union as states. This is a mistake. Those things should happen regardless. We shouldn’t make them contingent on Republican actions.

  49. says

    Trump issued some more threats:

    […] Trump predicted on Monday morning that Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), who is up for reelection this year, and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) will be hurt politically by their pledge to hold off on approving a new Supreme Court justice before Election Day.

    “I think Susan Collins is very badly hurt by her statement yesterday, and I think Murkowski is very badly hurt,” Trump said during a phone interview on “Fox and Friends.”

    [Trump] told the Fox News hosts that Murkowski’s decision will “follow her” come 2022, when her term is up.

    Trump also complained that the Alaska Republican hadn’t worked enough for him, grousing that “nobody’s ever done so much more for so little.”

    “And I think that Susan Collins is going to be hurt very badly,” the President said again. “Her people are not going to take this.”

    On Saturday, Collins announced that whoever wins the presidential election should choose the successor to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

    “In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd,” she stated.

    Murkowski joined Collins the next day, stating that “for weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election.”

    “Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed,” she continued.

    Two more defections from the GOP would block Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) efforts to replace Ginsburg.


  50. says

    Aaron Rupar pointed out that Trump lied about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s last wishes:

    “I don’t know that she said that, or was that written out by Adam Schiff & Schumer & Pelosi? I would be more inclined for the second” — Trump claims Schiff, Schumer, & Pelosi actually wrote RBG’s dying statement, & suggests she’d actually be fine w/him nominating her replacement.

    See comment #2.

  51. says

    From Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

    It’s extraordinarily important that we understand the stakes of this vacancy. Our reproductive rights are on the line. Our labor rights are on the line. Our right to healthcare is on the line. Labor and union protections are on the line. Our climate is on the line. [I would add that out voting rights are on the line.]

    […] We must commit to allowing and to considering and to utilizing every single procedural tool available to us to buy that time. We all need to be more courageous and we all must act in unprecedented ways to make sure that our rights are stabilized.

    And to Mitch McConnell, we need to tell him that he is playing with fire.

  52. says

    Trump signals he may not accept vote results as Republican fascist rhetoric soars

    As the November elections approach, Donald Trump and his allies have been forced to contemplate the unthinkable. Not only is there a real possibility that Trump loses his reelection bid, it is possible that his party will lose control of the Senate.

    It is in this context that Trump in particular is ratcheting up overtly fascist rhetoric. He is being amplified by others of his party, but Trump is uniquely unable to couch his instinctive, narcissistic-driven authoritarian impulses in a layer of plausible deniability. Trump is praising violence against his perceived opponents, embracing notions of “genetic” superiority, engaging in relentless false propaganda intended to cast doubt on the validity of elections and, increasingly, suggesting that he will not necessarily abide by the votes cast in November. Not if they come “by mail.”

    Trump is now more openly suggesting that it will not be up to voters, but the “federal court system” to determine the winner of the election, setting up with near-certainty a election eve crisis in which Trump declares victory as the first votes arrive while using the Department of Justice—specifically, William Barr—to block further vote counting from taking place.

    […] “Now we’re counting on the federal court system to make it so we can actually have an evening where we know who wins. Not where the votes are going to be counted a week later, or two weeks later.”

    That last quote from Trump, above, makes me think that he has already discussed this with William Barr.

    […] • Attorney General William Barr [said] “It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    JFC. See also the quote from Viktor Orban in comment 45.

    […] Multiple times over the weekend, Trump explicitly celebrated violence against opponents and protesters. “They beat the hell out of these guys,” Trump gushed in praise of law enforcement attacks on protesters allegedly attempting to topple a statue. He was more giddy over police injuring a reporter.

    See comment 36.

    […] Trump again declared the American media to be “the enemy of the people.” This is the bellow of authoritarian nations, and only authoritarian nations.

    • On Fox News, host Mark Levin capped off a long tirade asserting the “Democrat Party” to be “the party of antifa, the party of Black Lives Matter” by declaring that “This mob, one way or another, will be crushed. If they’re not crushed at the voting booth, they will be crushed otherwise.” Fox hosts have repeatedly suggested that extralegal or violent means might be necessary to defeat “antifa,” police reform protesters, and Democrats; this is only the latest in a long string of network figures either giving sympathies to those that do violence against movement enemies or insinuating that such actions may be acceptable, or even welcomed.

    • Trump is now overtly calling for a “patriotic education” program he intends as direct counter to lessons describing slavery and segregation. “We’re taking school funds away from these crazy schools that are teaching horrible things. […] We will teach our children the truth about America, that we are the most exceptional nation on the face of the Earth and we are getting better every single day.”

    • In another nod toward his own affection for theories of genetic superiority, Trump praised his white Minnesota audience. “You have good genes, you know that, right? You have good genes. A lot of it is about the genes, isn’t it, don’t you believe? The racehorse theory. You think we’re so different? You have good genes in Minnesota.” His opponent, declared Trump, would instead “turn Minnesota into a refugee camp.” Again: This is overtly fascist, eliminationist rhetoric. It is not subtle.

    • The merging of state and corporate business continues, with Trump claiming to have successfully demanded a “cut” of the deal that would see social networking giant TikTok partner with Trump-allied companies Oracle and Walmart to avoid Trump-imposed sanctions. He claimed he agreed to the deal “in concept”—not generally a power granted to a president—and boasted that the deal would indeed include an attached bonus to his government: $5 billion donated toward “a very large fund for the education of American youth,” which Trump described as “the contribution I’ve been asking for.” Corporate dealmaking often has to run a gauntlet of federal regulators, but seldom has one of the demands been, bluntly, a cash payment.

    • Meanwhile, the same rhetoric continues. Despite taking a leave of absence from the Department of Health and Human Services, after publicly releasing a Facebook video ranting about a supposed “deep state” plot inside the Centers of Disease Control to damage Trump by releasing scientific findings at odds with Trump’s own bizarre and often-conflicting pandemic claims, ex-Trump campaign official wholeheartedly embraced those same theories in a new pro-Trump radio interview. The claims are obviously false, but the notion of a “resistance unit” or other “deep state” conspiracies plotting against Trump have been used repeatedly as justification for gutting watchdog, oversight, and scientific efforts undertaken by government agencies seen as insufficiently loyal to Trump. […]

    We are now in a dire position. The supposed president is now suggesting that he will use the tools of government to block Americans from voting. […]

    It is likely to get worse, and in direct proportion to Republican reelection prospects. And if Trump, Fox News, and the various crawling things of the internet are all nodding that violence and extralegal acts may be necessary to defend their victory, violence appears all but certain.

    See also video of Trump supporters blocking the entrance to an early-voting site in Virginia.

  53. says

    Follow-up to comments 31 and 44.

    It’s possible that Mitch McConnell sees the writing on the wall: Democrats may well take the majority in the Senate in the next election. Therefore, Mitch may well be willing to burn all his bridges now. He will not let anything stop him from making more appointments to the courts, including the Supreme Court.

  54. says

    RCMP probe underway into contaminated letter addressed to White House

    The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said its “Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives team” is leading the operation in the suburb of Saint-Hubert.

    Canadian police are conducting an operation near Montreal related to an investigation into an envelope addressed to the White House that reportedly contained the poison ricin.

    The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Monday on Twitter that its “Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives team” is leading the operation in the suburb of Saint-Hubert. Local police and firefighters are also on site. […]

    The investigation Monday followed last week’s interception, as the Associated Press has reported, of a contaminated letter at a facility that scans incoming White House mail.

    AP reported Sunday that a woman suspected of sending an envelope was arrested at the New York-Canada border near Buffalo.

  55. says

    Carol Anderson explains what happens when our voting rights laws start to crumble.

    In 1965, the United States began a grand experiment: We decided to finally have free and fair elections.

    Before President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the United States was more or less a white ethnostate. As Johnson explained in an address to Congress proposing that law, “every device of which human ingenuity is capable” was used in the South to deny Black people the right to vote.

    The Voting Rights Act, and especially a provision of that act requiring states with a history of racism to “preclear” new voting laws with federal officials before those laws could take effect, may be the most effective civil rights law in American history. On the day the Voting Rights Act was signed, only about 5 percent of Black Mississippians were registered to vote.

    Two years later, that number was 60 percent.

    Yet in decisions like Shelby County v. Holder (2013) and Abbott v. Perez (2018), the Supreme Court dismantled much of this landmark voting rights law.

    […] a new podcast miniseries lays out what happens when the United States abandons its brief commitment to ending race discrimination at the polls. I spoke with Carol Anderson, a professor of African American studies at Emory University and the author of One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy.

    In this conversation, we examine the tactics Southern racists used to disenfranchise voters prior to the Voting Rights Act — and the unsettling similarities between those tactics and the methods of voter suppression that have proliferated since Shelby County.

    Podcast and edited transcript available at the link.

    Excerpt from the transcript:

    Ian Millhiser
    So, on that note, I want to read you a quote from Chief Justice Roberts that I think you’re going to recognize. He said that “things have changed in the South. Voter turnout and registration rates” — and here he means between Black and white voters — “now approach parity. Blatant discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare, and minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels.”

    The chief would go on to argue that because America just isn’t as racist as it used to be, some of the voting rights measures we implemented to combat Jim Crow are no longer justified.

    So what’s wrong with the chief justice’s assessment of racism in America?

    Carol Anderson
    There were so many things wrong with his decision. One about somehow the — the diminution of racism in America, given the vitriol that the Obamas had to deal with in that time, given the rise of right-wing militias in that time, given the fact that you even had over 700 proposed changes blocked by the US Department of Justice because of racial discrimination.

    And the Voting Rights Act didn’t just pick on the South. I mean, that’s a really nice narrative. But there were bail-in and bail-out provisions. So the bail-out provisions basically said all you have to do if you’re already under the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act is not act a fool. [Laughs] Right. All you had to do.

    Ian Millhiser
    What was it? It’s like 10 years that you had to just not be racist.

    Carol Anderson
    Try it, try it. You might like it. Right. So that’s all you have to do. And you could get bailed out.

    And then there were also bail-in provisions so that there were areas in California, areas in New York, areas in Arizona that were getting bailed in because they were discriminating against their population.

    Ian Millhiser
    And so bail-in means that it’s a state that wasn’t subject to preclearance. It didn’t have to get its laws approved by people in DC, but because it showed a pattern of racism, they said, guess what, guys, now you’re under preclearance as well.

    Carol Anderson
    Exactly. And so these weren’t these entire states, but they were jurisdictions within the states like counties and things like that within California, because it was really clear that something really foul and wicked, racially discriminatory was happening consistently.

  56. says

    Follow-up to tomh @46.

    From Wonkette:

    The Department of Justice announced this morning that it would be officially designating New York City, Seattle, and Portland as “anarchist jurisdictions” — a term that means absolutely nothing, but that they are claiming means the cities “have permitted violence and destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities.”

    It would be super fun to roll our eyes at this, at how this is a really weird move for a party that is supposedly so upset about cancel culture and thinks that consumer boycotts are a violation of the First Amendment, and also how stupid Donald Trump doesn’t even know what anarchism is. But the purpose for the designation is that Trump wants to “defund” these cities. He wants to take away their federal funding. You may recall that he has tried to do this before with sanctuary cities. It’s become his go-to whenever he feels like he’s not getting his way.

    Via NBC:

    Rather than idle words, the designation has potential financial consequences. […] Trump issued a memo earlier this month directing the DOJ to identify jurisdictions that, in its view, were not enforcing the law appropriately. Designated cities could lose their federal funding.

    Trump’s order gives the director of the Office of Management and Budget 30 days to issue guidance to federal agencies on restricting eligibility for federal grants for the cities on the DOJ list. Such grants make up a huge portion of NYC’s already strapped annual budget — more than $7 billion in fiscal 2021 alone, or 7.5% of the city’s projected total revenue.

    In justifying its decision, the DOJ cited New York City’s rising gun violence, cuts to the NYPD’s budget, and moves by various district attorneys not to prosecute charges related to protests earlier this summer.

    “We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance. It is my hope that the cities identified by the Department of Justice today will reverse course and become serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens,” Attorney General William Barr said in a statement.

    Both the city and the state have threatened to sue the federal government over the possible DOJ classification.

    So, another fight in the courts. In the courts that the Trump administration is trying to tilt his way with conservative judges.

    Both New York and Washington are what we call “donor states,” paying more in federal taxes than they get back. Oregon isn’t, but Portland itself has a higher per capita income than the United States average, which means that the city itself may pay more into the system than it gets back. [map available at the link]

    […] Regardless of how much they pay or get, the DOJ would still be expecting that citizens of these cities pay federal taxes and get nothing back for them. It is, however, a little more galling when these areas pay in a lot more than they get already. What Trump wants is to be allowed to steal money from cities that don’t like him.

    […] if you literally just take taxes from cities you don’t like and then refuse to give them anything back for that, that is actually stealing. Given the fact that our entire government is set up to ensure that people in urban areas are given less representation than people in rural areas … that’s practically “taxation without representation.”

    When Trump was planning on taking California’s federal funding away, there was a lot of talk about the entire state refusing to pay federal taxes.

    Via CBS:

    “California could very well become an organized non-payer,” said Willie Brown, Jr, a former speaker of the state Assembly in an interview recorded Friday for KPIX 5’s Sunday morning news. “They could recommend non-compliance with the federal tax code.”

    Hypothetically, New York, Washington, and Oregon could all decide to do that. And other states could do that once their major cities get cut off. And then maybe all of those states could pool their taxes together and have their own “federal tax” that only benefits their states.

    This could be an option, but it would be a pretty sad one. It would hurt poor people in red states that don’t have anything to do with any of this. That is why we don’t just cut off states that don’t do what we want when we are in charge. This is not a game Trump should want to play, but if he does want to play it, he’s going to lose.

  57. says

    From Wonkette: Republicans Want To Hurt Us And We Are Not Obligated To Be Friends With Them

    Among the various remembrances of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been a lot of handwringing about how she and Antonin Scalia had such a lovely friendship and listened to opera together and rode elephants together and how we’re not going to have those kinds of relationships between people who are ideologically opposed to one another anymore because of how we are all so bitterly divided. [snipped examples]

    I love opera, too. I have many friends who hate it, just as I have many friends who differ from me in lots of other ways. I don’t have friends who regularly insult me or my other friends or who think we are not deserving of rights.

    I do not have friends who are cruel.

    I have friends who are kind, who are caring, who are funny and who think about how their actions affect other people. This eliminates practically all Republicans right off the bat. […] Why on earth would I want to hang out with someone who doesn’t think I am deserving of reproductive rights? Or that my trans friends shouldn’t be allowed to go to the bathroom? Or that my Black friends are lying about the existence of racism and police brutality? Or who thinks it’s fine that we’re throwing children in cages and performing forced hysterectomies on women in ICE custody?

    […] People who complain about “division” as if that’s the real problem and not, you know, the actual horrible and cruel things that Republicans believe in and want to be the law in this country, are traditionally not people with a whole lot to lose. They’re rich people. They’re white men. Or they’re Republicans who think it’s unfair that people don’t want to hang out with them […]

    These people would really like it if we could see one another’s political opinions as being as much a reflection of one’s character as their preferred sports team or taste in music or favorite color or what kind of music they like. This would make everything easier. For them.

    I, too, would love it if whoever won the next election affected my life and the lives of those I love as much as whoever won the World Series. […] That is not the case.

    But there is a very big difference between people being different and people actually just being shitty human beings. […]

    […]To be a Republican now, in this day and age, is to find things acceptable that no decent human being would find acceptable. […]

    Being friends with an asshole doesn’t make you the bigger person, it makes you the putz. It makes you someone who spends so much time appeasing the asshole that you neglect people who would actually be a good friend to you. […]

    Be friends with people who are kind to you, who respect you, and whom you don’t have to make excuses for when they are crappy to your other friends. It usually works out pretty well.

  58. says

    Mitch McConnell’s machinations are something far more degrading than hypocrisy.

    I was watching the president of the United States suggest to a mostly maskless crowd that a Democratic congresswoman had married her brother, [then] the news broke that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died. The shock of her death sledgehammered a country teetering on an ugly and desperate edge. It came in waves. It wasn’t merely the loss to the country, or the sadness that a champion of equal rights had died. Nor was it the fact that an increasingly corrupt Republican Party is very close to forcing through the judicial supermajority it needs in order to lock in minority rule and overturn American women’s right to reproductive choice. […]

    There was a flashback to the contempt and grief Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing aroused in so many appalled onlookers. And then there was the dread of realizing that a citizenry breaking—financially, politically, even cognitively—under five different kinds of instability was going to have to endure more. We have been in a bad way for a long time, but this is the hurricane on top of the wildfire that follows the earthquake.

    What’s enraging is that we shouldn’t be here. […]

    Shortly after Ginsburg’s death was announced, McConnell declared his intentions: Trump’s nominee would receive a vote in the Senate […] And anyone who took him at his word when he rejected Merrick Garland’s nomination was made a fool when he reversed himself on the question of whether (to quote the man himself) “the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.”

    […] this nation’s decline accelerates when the conventional wisdom becomes that believing what the Senate Majority Leader says is self-evidently foolish. The chestnut that politicians always lie is overstated—a society depends on some degree of mutual trust. One party has embraced nihilism, pilloried trust, and turned good faith into a sucker’s failing in a sucker’s game.

    […] Folks who at one point gave Republican declarations of principle the benefit of the doubt (I include myself) feel like chumps now. Conversely, the cynical prognosticators who used to seem crabbed and paranoid just keep getting proven right. Whatever the worst thing you imagine McConnell doing might be, he can usually trump it.

    […] A former White House official told the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer for a piece in April that McConnell reassured donors that he would install a Supreme Court justice for Trump regardless of how close to the election Ginsburg’s death might be. […]

    I am not saying anything new here. But what I am interested in, because I think it must be understood, and because the stakes of it have never been higher, is what McConnellizing does, affectively, to so many American citizens. […] We are overdue for a real reckoning with what it means to be degraded by our own leadership. […]

    Here is the justification McConnell offered shortly after Ginsburg died for violating his own rule:

    In the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term. We kept our promise. Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year.

    This last sentence […] is a lie. […] this tortured reasoning McConnell supplied is horseshit. You are already meant to understand it as horseshit. […]

    OK, now for the dull facts: What McConnell says in that statement is not true. In 1988 (an election year!), the Democratically controlled Senate confirmed Anthony Kennedy—President Ronald Reagan’s nominee to the Supreme Court. […]

    I think we have a habit of misnaming political experiences in ways that help us metabolize loss. I think, for example, that we have a bad habit of calling McConnell’s double standard—which will be devastating to a country already struggling through various legitimacy crises—“hypocrisy.” […] hypocrisy isn’t the word for what this is. Hypocrisy is a mild failing. It applies to parents smoking when they advise their kids not to for their own good; it does not apply to parents lighting the family home on fire for the insurance money while high-fiving each other over how stupid their fleeing children were for thinking anything they told them was true.

    […] It will not help to call the leadership we have right now hypocrites; they will not care […] Fully witnessing and registering insults and degradation is more painful than sneering that you aren’t surprised. But I’ll be blunt: People are more willing to fight people who insult and degrade them than they are to fight mere “hypocrites.”

    […] I had no personal feelings about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing; my admiration and gratitude were purely professional and civic. But I found this quote—a response to Irin Carmon asking her how she’d like to be remembered—deeply moving: “Someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability. And to help repair tears in her society, to make things a little better through the use of whatever ability she has.”


  59. says

    Why it matters that Trump is ‘running against the election itself’

    Trump wants to say he won before the votes are counted, and he expects Republican-approved judges to help deliver a victory, whether he’s earned it or not.

    […] “So what’s going to happen on November 3rd when somebody is leading and they say, ‘Well, look, we haven’t counted the ballots; we have millions of ballots to count’? It’s a disaster. Everyone knows it. Everyone knows it’s a disaster…. Where are these ballots going? Who’s sending them? Who’s signing them?” [Trump said.]

    As it turns out, the rhetorical questions he asked are actually very easy to answer. What’s going to happen on Nov. 3 when there are millions of ballots to count? Well, at that point, election officials will count the ballots and announce the results.

    Where are these ballots going? It varies by state, but they’re either going to all registered voters, or to registered voters who requested them.

    Who’s sending them? Local election officials.

    Who’s signing them? The voters casting ballots.

    Election procedures can get complex, but the questions [Trump] finds baffling are incredibly basic. Worse, what he describes as some kind of self-evident “disaster” is actually a routine electoral process.

    […] Trump isn’t simply asking dumb questions with obvious answers; he’s also laying the groundwork for the near future. Indeed, the subtext is hardly subtle: [Trump] specifically emphasized that “somebody” will be leading on Election Day — an advantage that will obviously be misleading — as if those preliminary results will have great significance.

    [Trump] may very well declare victory based on an incomplete tally, ramp up efforts to delegitimize ballots cast by mail, and then scramble to stop the count in as many places as possible.

    [Trump] has effectively described this plan in public, telling supporters at North Carolina rally over the weekend that he expects an increasingly conservative judiciary to help him hold power.

    “We’re going to have a victory on November 3rd the likes of which you’ve never seen,” Trump boasted to his followers. “Now, we’re counting on the federal court system to make it so that we can actually have an evening where we know who wins. Not where the votes are going to be counted a week later or two weeks later.” […]

  60. says

    A new engineering report says many sections of Trump’s border wall are “in danger of overturning.”

    We’ve heard this before. Now there is more news about this impending fall of the wall.

    Steve Bannon is now being charged for conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering. He’s being charged along with three others connected to “We Build the Wall,” an organization that took in tens of millions of dollars of Americans’ donations in order to help build the border wall between the United States and Mexico that Donald Trump campaigned on. […]

    one of two new studies, soon to be entered into federal court, enumerate the many “deficiencies in the 3-mile border fence, built this year by North Dakota-based Fisher Sand and Gravel.” The 3 miles of border wall will fall down at some point because it isn’t engineered well. […]

    Alex Mayer, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Texas at El Paso, told ProPublica that the engineering studies show that the wall construction has been beset with cost-cutting and corner-cutting moves.[…]

    Scam artists fundamentally do not care about anyone but themselves. It’s a sociopathic trade by nature and whether they are hoping that their scam won’t be found out right away or not, the results are always the same—you get left holding the bag. The Trump administration and people like Steve Bannon are fighting to retain power because without it, the gig is up.

    Trump has tried to distance himself from the We Build the Wall crew but facts keep getting in the way. Not only did the group make constant claims to having the president’s blessing, Trump’s own campaign staff seem to have made lots of money off the alleged money laundering scheme.


  61. says

    Good news: young voters are backing Biden by a two-to-one margin.

    Young voters back Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden over President Trump by a two-to-one margin less than two months out from Election Day, according to a new survey from the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics.

    The poll, released on Monday, found that 60 percent of likely voters under the age of 30 said they will back Biden in November, while 27 percent said the same for Trump. Biden also fares better with young voters than 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton did at this point in the race. In a survey shortly before the election, 49 percent of young people said they supported Clinton. […]


    Young voters backing Trump still register higher on the “enthusiasm” scale, with 44% of Trump’s supporters saying they were enthusiastic; while 30% of Biden’s young supporters said the same.

  62. says

    This sounds like a good idea: The District of Columbia is investing $4 million to help small businesses winterize outdoor dining areas.

    […] The program will provide grant recipients $6,000 to assist with winterizing outdoor dining spaces. The funds can be used for items including tents, heaters, propane, lighting and furniture, according to the mayor’s office. […]


  63. tomh says

    Nationwide Injunction Issued to Shield Mail-In Votes During Pandemic
    September 21, 2020 JOSH RUSSELL

    MANHATTAN (CN) — Finding that multiple managerial failures under the Trump administration have undermined the mission of the U.S. Postal Service, a federal judge ordered the agency on Monday to preapprove all overtime for the upcoming election and to prioritize all ballot-related mail.

    “They have not provided trusted assurance and comfort that citizens will be able to cast ballots with full confidence that their votes would be timely collected and counted,” the 87-page opinion states. “Rather, as detailed below, their actions have given rise to management and operational confusion, to directives that tend to generate uncertainty as to who is in charge of policies that ultimately could affect the reliability of absentee ballots, thus potentially discouraging voting by mail.”…

    Several candidates for office and New York voters brought the underlying suit last month, responding to controversial cost-cutting changes to the U.S. Postal Service put in place by the newly installed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

    The only postmaster general in two decades to lack experience in the Postal Service, DeJoy cited budget reform in banning extra mail deliveries while also unveiling sweeping cuts to overtime and ordering a freeze on executive hiring. President Donald Trump meanwhile has bragged that “universal mail-in voting” would be impossible without the funding measures his administration is stonewalling…

    Judge Marrero’s order says the parties have until noon Friday to reach a settlement to make sure that mail-in ballots are properly handled…

    If both sides fail to arrive at an order by the end of the week, Marrero said he will impose his own injunction that ensures postal trucks can make late and extra trips, and that postal workers get overtime preapproved from late October through early November.

    The judge also said he would mandate the Postal Service to treat all election mail — including voter registration materials, absentee or mail-in ballot applications, polling place notifications, blank ballots, and completed ballots — as first-class mail or priority mail express.

    Furthermore the USPS must file weekly reports to keep the public apprised of its progress in meeting appropriate benchmarks, and issue appropriate guidance on the national level…

    Spokespersons for the Department of Justice, who served as counsel for the government and Postal Service, declined to comment on the ruling Monday morning.

  64. says

    From Dhruv Khullar, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] In less than a year, covid-19 has killed four times as many Americans as died from the opioid crisis during its deadliest year. It has killed more Americans than those who perished in every armed conflict combined since the Second World War. Globally, it has killed nearly a million people. […]

    Moments of national tragedy are usually met with elevating Presidential rhetoric. […] Three days after the September 11th attacks, in a speech at Ground Zero, George W. Bush told the nation, “I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” Later, at a prayer service, Bush said that “grief and tragedy and hatred are only for a time. But goodness, remembrance, and love have no end.” After President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon B. Johnson called on the country to “put an end to the teaching and the preaching of hate and evil and violence”; he urged Americans to turn away from “the apostles of bitterness and bigotry.”

    No such messages will be coming from this President. Donald Trump has abdicated both managerial and moral leadership. (“I don’t take responsibility at all,” he has said, and, “It is what it is.”) Instead of helping the nation heal, he uses his bully pulpit to sow confusion, division, and distrust. He freely admits to misleading the public about the lethality of the virus; he disrupts the efforts of public-health agencies, tarring them with his own brand of partisanship and misinformation; he argues that talk of the virus is designed to damage his reëlection prospects. Meanwhile, his surrogates describe the pandemic, which sickens or kills thousands more Americans each day, in the past tense.

    There are those, including the President, who question the veracity of the U.S. coronavirus death estimates. That skepticism doesn’t cohere with reality. Across the United States, excess mortality—the difference in the total number of deaths, from any cause, compared with a historical average—far exceeds official tallies of covid-19 fatalities. In all likelihood, there are more, not fewer, covid-19 deaths than we have confirmed. And the pandemic, in addition to devastating the economy, has caused enormous collateral health damage. […]

    In the United States, peaks of panic have given way to plateaus of resignation. The country continues to record tens of thousands of new coronavirus cases each day but remains without a coherent plan to alter that trajectory. Because we never truly subdued the virus, we’re experiencing our newest waves on rising seas. In May, after strict lockdowns, the number of newly diagnosed cases levelled off at around twenty thousand per day. But September’s number is closer to forty thousand. We’re performing more tests, and that helps explain the higher number of new confirmed cases. But it’s also true that the virus is circulating in more places than before. […]

    We’ve settled, instead, into a grinding battle, in which lives are lost incrementally but no less tragically. Six thousand dead in Georgia; two thousand in Minnesota; fifteen hundred in Nevada. It’s these small yet significant numbers, adding up month after month, that have gotten us to two hundred thousand.

    […]. How does one reconcile the deaths of two hundred thousand people—a fifth of all the covid-19 deaths in the world—with the idea of an exceptional America, a compassionate America, a scientifically advanced America? The most piercing question has come to be whether we live in a just America. Inequalities in income, housing, employment, and medical care have resulted in Black and brown Americans dying of covid-19 at higher rates than whites. The pandemic has especially hurt low-income Americans, many of whom are now out of work, but Congress remains locked in a stalemate over whether and how to deliver relief. Meanwhile, in some states, more than half of all covid-19 deaths are linked to nursing homes, where many older Americans have died without being able to say goodbye to their loved ones. We tolerate these deaths because of a communal ageism. Our inability to protect the most vulnerable Americans has become both a public-health failure and a moral stain. […]

    Much more at the link.

  65. tomh says

    Judge extends deadline for Wisconsin ballots postmarked by Election Day
    Fadel Allassan

    A federal judge in Wisconsin on Monday extended the state’s deadline for counting absentee ballots until up to six days after the Nov. 3 election if they are postmarked by Election Day, AP reports.

    The ruling, unless overturned, “means that the outcome of the presidential race in Wisconsin likely will not be known for days after polls close,” according to AP.

    District Judge William Conley, an Obama appointee, also extended the Oct. 14 deadline for mail-in voting and electronic voter registration until Oct. 21.

    Judges in four presidential swing states — Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and now Wisconsin — have ruled that ballots can be counted if they are postmarked by Nov. 2 (or Nov. 3 in Michigan).

    Republicans will do everything possible to get this ruling overturned.

  66. John Morales says

    Lynna @63, “heaters, propane” for the outdoors a good idea? Really?

    (Better than coal-burners, I suppose — only around 60% of the CO2 emission)

  67. tomh says

    Trump Campaign Bid to Stop Nevada Mail-In Voting Expansion Rejected by Judge
    September 21, 2020 MARTIN MACIAS JR

    (CN) — In a blow to the Trump campaign in a key battleground state, a federal judge rejected a bid to shoot down Nevada’s plan to expand mail-in voting during the state of emergency caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

    Under a bill approved by the Nevada Legislature in August, all active voters will receive a mail-in ballot for the November general election. The measure establishes a minimum number of in-person voting locations and also provides additional time after Election Day for counties to receive mail ballots.

    A day after the bill passed in a special session, the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and the Nevada Republican Party filed a federal lawsuit challenging provisions of the bill they argued would lead to widespread voter fraud.

    The campaign said in court papers Nevada’s mail-in voting plan would strip the election process of safeguards against voter fraud and unnecessarily complicate the timeline for counting votes.

    Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske moved to dismiss the lawsuit for lack of standing, arguing the campaign had no direct organizational or associational standing to represent voters’ interests.

    U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan agreed, writing in a Sep. 18 ruling that the Trump campaign represents only the president and his political goals.

    “The Trump campaign does not represent Nevada voters,” Mahan wrote in his 12-page order, which was made available to the public Monday. “Although the Trump campaign may achieve its ‘organization’s purpose’ through Nevada voters, the individual constitutional interests of those voters are wholly distinct.”

    Mahan also rejected the Trump campaign’s argument that its supporters would be harmed by voter fraud that it claims has occurred in other states.

    “Even if accepted as true, plaintiffs’ pleadings allude to vote dilution that is impermissibly generalized,” Mahan wrote.

    Attorneys for the campaign have 30 days to appeal the decision.

    … in a tweet, Governor Steve Sisolak said he was pleased with the ruling.

    “I’m pleased to see a federal court judge has dismissed a lawsuit seeking to block AB4, a measure passed to expand options for Nevadans and provide for safe, fair & accessible elections during the pandemic,” the Democrat said.

  68. blf says

    Update to @400(previous page), French minister mocked for asking pupils to dress in republican style:

    Jean-Michel Blanquer’s comments follow protests over high school dress codes for female students

    France’s education minister has sparked a sexism row after demanding high school pupils dress in republican style for classes.

    Jean-Michel Blanquer’s comments came a week after a protest by girls at French high schools about being hauled in front of headteachers or turned away from lessons because they were wearing mini skirts, low-cut or crop tops deemed provocative.

    Some of the girls complained of discrimination and double standards, saying while their clothing choices were being policed, their male classmates were allowed to wear what they liked.

    On Monday, the minister responded to the protests, saying: It’s important to go to school in correct dress … school is not like other places.

    “You don’t go to school as you would to the beach or a nightclub,”[] Blanquer told RTL radio, adding: Everyone can understand that you go to school dressed in a republican style.

    [… totally predictable reaction… O]thers circulated pictures of Eugène Delacroix’s celebrated republican image of “La Liberté guidant le peuple” (Liberty leading the people) depicting a bare-breasted heroine.


    As per the earlier comment, and the redacted parts of the above excerpt, this is rather spectacularly missing the point. The problem isn’t so much what the schoolgirls choose to wear, it’s how (some) of the schoolboys and staff treat the young ladies, regardless of what the young ladies are wearing / doing.

      † I opted not to set that remark in eejit quotes as there is some sense to it — e.g., wearing a bikini or swim trunks to school (excepting swimming lessons, etc.), would be rather dubious. (Perhaps especially so since French seaside beaches are tops-optional?) For instance, “swimwear” (for everyone) is explicitly banned from the centre of the village where I live.

  69. blf says

    Van the Murderer has been explicitly called out, Northern Ireland health minister criticises Van Morrison anti-lockdown songs:

    Robin Swann describes Morrison’s condemnations of government and scientists as ‘dangerous … bizarre and irresponsible’


    Writing in Rolling Stone, Swann says: “We expected better from him … Some of what is he saying is actually dangerous. It could encourage people not to take coronavirus seriously. If you see it all as a big conspiracy, then you are less likely to follow the vital public health advice that keeps you and others safe.”

    He accuses Morrison of “a smear on all those involved in the public health response to a virus that has taken lives on a massive scale. His words will give great comfort to the conspiracy theorists — the tin foil hat brigade who crusade against masks and vaccines and think this is all a huge global plot to remove freedoms.”

    Swann adds: “He’s chosen to attack attempts to protect the old and vulnerable in our society. It’s all bizarre and irresponsible. I only hope no one takes him seriously. He’s no guru, no teacher,” the last line a reference to Morrison’s 1986 album No Guru, No Method, No Teacher.

    Morrison’s campaign against restrictions has dented his previously revered status in Northern Ireland […]. Emmet McDonough-Brown, an Alliance party Belfast city councillor, has asked the council to consider revoking the freedom of the city granted to Morrison in 2013.

    Meanwhile, Niall Murphy, a prominent Belfast solicitor who almost died from the virus, told the BBC Morrison’s songs were “offensive and dangerous … I had a ventilator placed down my gullet while I was in an induced coma for 14 days, and the same time in recovery, and then in and out of intensive care and I would not want anybody to experience that.”

    [… eejits supporting Van the Murder’s woo-woo…]

  70. blf says

    Earlier in this series of poopyhead threads, it was suggested Mike Bloomberg use some of his money to help Florida ex-cons pay off their fines, etc., and regain voting rights. He apparently has been (sort-of) doing just that, Mike Bloomberg raises millions to help Florida felons vote:

    Days after after Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, won a court victory to keep felons from voting until they have paid off fines, restitution and court fees, the billionaire and former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination Mike Bloomberg has stepped in to help them pay off the debts.

    Bloomberg is part of an effort that raised more than $20m to help felons who have completed sentences vote in the presidential election. That’s in addition to the $100m he has pledged to help Joe Biden win Florida […].


    In addition to time served, [Florida’s thug] lawmakers directed that all legal financial obligations, including unpaid fines and restitution, would also have to be settled.

    With Bloomberg’s help, the Florida Rights Restitution Council (FRRC) is trying to get this accomplished. The group had raised about $5m before Bloomberg made calls to raise almost $17m more, according to Bloomberg advisers.

    The FRRC said other donors include John Legend, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, MTV, Comedy Central, VH1, Ben & Jerry’s, Levi Strauss, the Miami Dolphins, the Orlando Magic, the Miami Heat and Stephen Spielberg.

    The money is targeted for felons who registered to vote while the law was in question and who owe $1,500 or less. That accounts for about 31,100 people, Bloomberg advisers say. […]


    Organizers say they aren’t targeting people registered with a particular political party.

    “To hell with politics, to hell with any other implications or insinuations, at the end of the day it’s about real people, real lives, American citizens who want to be a part of this,” said Desmond Meade, the group’s executive director. “People with felony convictions have had their voices silenced for so long.”

  71. says

    Yeah … they don’t really care about the quality or the expertise of judges chosen by Trump.

    Some in GOP back Trump’s nominee before the choice is even made

    Some Senate Republicans have endorsed Trump’s new Supreme Court nominee, despite the fact that they don’t know who the nominee will be.

    When it comes to the Supreme Court, most Senate Republicans are engaging in nihilistic hypocrisy to a degree without modern precedent, but some cases are a bit more ridiculous than others.

    Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), for example, went so far as to argue in 2016 that a Supreme Court confirmation process during an election would imperil “the very health of our republic.” Four years later, the North Carolina Republicans not only disagrees with his own stated principles, he’s also issued a statement vowing to support Donald Trump’s latest nominee.

    Among the problems with this: Trump doesn’t yet have a nominee. Thom Tillis wants voters to know he doesn’t much care who the president chooses; the senator intends to play the role of rubber stamp. The North Carolinian may have advise-and-consent responsibilities, but he’s content to put those duties aside.

    And as it turns out, Tillis isn’t alone.

    Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said late Monday that the GOP has the votes to fill the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat ahead of the presidential election. “We’ve got the votes to confirm Justice Ginsburg’s replacement before the election,” Graham told Fox News’ Sean Hannity in an interview Monday.

    This made news in part because of the significance of the election calendar — Republicans apparently have no intention of waiting for the lame-duck session — but also because of what the South Carolinian was signaling to the public about what’s transpired behind the scenes: Graham has spoken to his GOP colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee and confirmed that they’re all prepared to support Trump’s choice.

    Even if they don’t know who that choice is. A Washington Post analysis added:

    The thing is, it’s not at all surprising that virtually every Republican will wind up voting for the nominee. This is how these things generally go…. But to sign off on any and all of them, sight unseen? That’s another thing entirely. Most of them have been vetted as part of their previous confirmation processes, but the scrutiny involved in that process is nowhere near what it is for a Supreme Court justice. Saying you’ll support whomever it is precludes valid questions about their jurisprudence and character emerging as part of that process.

    Rush Limbaugh yesterday urged GOP senators to skip Judiciary Committee hearings altogether, which is certainly in keeping with Graham’s and Tillis’ attitude: if Republicans don’t care who the nominee is, why bother scrutinizing him or her?

    […] even I’m taken aback by these GOP senators’ indifference toward keeping up appearances.

    Folks like Graham and Tillis aren’t even pretending to care about their duties. According to Graham, they can go through the motions, but it will be a meaningless theatrical exercise that the party cares nothing about.

    Meanwhile, Senator Mitt Romney has vowed to stand with his Republican party on this fill-the-seat scheme.

  72. says

    After RBG’s passing, health care becomes a more potent 2020 issue

    […] Shortly after Election Day, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act, and in light of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, a divided 4-4 court may very well tear down the nation’s health care system in its entirety. If Donald Trump’s latest nominee is confirmed by then — a distinct possibility as of this morning — the ACA’s future will be even bleaker.

    All of this led the New York Times’ Paul Krugman to consider a worthwhile question in his new column.

    So are Americans with pre-existing conditions doomed? Not if Democrats take the Senate as well as the White House. If they do that, they’ll be in a position to quickly reinstate an improved version of Obamacare soon after Biden is sworn in…. So once again, if you or someone you care about has a pre-existing condition, be aware that your fate is very much on the ballot this year.

    Of course, “Obamacare” does more than just protect millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions. It also provides coverage to millions of families, helps millions afford prescription medication, guarantees consumer protections to millions, etc.

    […] if the nation’s health care system is poised to be destroyed by Republican-appointed judges, which party do you trust to build something new?

    A fight over health care did real harm to GOP candidates in 2018. In 2020, it’s going to be vastly more intense.

  73. says

    To clarify this part of comment 72, “Meanwhile, Senator Mitt Romney has vowed to stand with his Republican party on this fill-the-seat scheme”: Romney didn’t commit to voting for Trump’s nominee, but he did endorse the process of considering Trump’s choice as soon as Republicans can get it to the floor for a vote.


    [… the senator may clash with Donald Trump, but Romney remains a Republican senator, who’s fully committed to his party’s far-right agenda — and part of that agenda is moving the federal judiciary even further off the conservative cliff. […]

  74. says

    Trump sees Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish as ‘too convenient’

    Trump, the noted constitutional scholar, doesn’t think Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish “sounds” like Ginsburg. He instead suspects a conspiracy.

    As Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s health started failing, she took the time to make plain what she wanted to see happen after her passing. “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Ginsburg told her granddaughter in the days before her death.

    Donald Trump didn’t just announce his intention to ignore RBG’s dying wish; he also questioned its validity. [Trump] told Fox News, “I don’t know that she said that.” After suggesting his congressional Democratic detractors may have concocted the late justice’s wishes, [Trump] added, “It came out of the wind, it sounds so beautiful…. That came out of the wind.”

    Yesterday afternoon, a reporter asked [Trump] why in the world he thinks this. He replied:

    “Yeah, it just sounds to me like it would be somebody else. I don’t believe — it could be. It could be. And it might not be, too. Just too — it was just too convenient.”

    Ginsburg’s entire dying wish was a grand total of 17 words: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” Trump, the noted constitutional scholar, known for carefully scrutinizing Supreme Court decisions in his free time, doesn’t think the sentence “sounds” like Ginsburg.


    What’s more, I’m not at all sure what’s “too convenient” about the late justice’s sentiment. Clara Spera, Ginsburg’s granddaughter, spoke to the BBC yesterday about what transpired.

    “In the final days of her life, my grandmother and I spoke a lot about a lot of things, and I asked her if there was anything she wanted to say to the public, to anyone, that wasn’t already out there and she said there was, and I pulled out my computer and she dictated the following sentence to me. She said, ‘My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.’ And I read it back to her, she was very happy with that. And when I asked her, ‘Is that it? Is there anything else you’d like to say?’ She said. ‘The rest of my work is a matter of public record,’ so that was all she wanted to add.”

    […] Trump didn’t say RBG’s wishes were irrelevant; he suggested they’re fake.

    So let’s go ahead and raise the unasked follow-up question: if Ginsburg’s statement is legitimate, should lawmakers and White House officials give deference to her wishes?

  75. says


    As death toll climbs, Trump says coronavirus ‘affects virtually nobody’

    As the US death toll tops 200,000, Trump continues to do what he’s done for six months: downplay the seriousness of the crisis.

    […] the domestic death toll crossed the 200,000-fatalities threshold over the weekend.

    By and large, the president and his team ignored the tragic milestone, except to tell reporters that Team Trump has done “a really good job,” “a phenomenal job,” “an incredible job,” and “a great job” — reality notwithstanding.

    It was against this backdrop that [Trump] held another campaign rally in Ohio last night, where he shared some fresh thoughts on COVID-19 and the threat to the public.

    “We now know the disease. We didn’t know it, now we know it. It affects elderly people, elderly people with heart problems and other problems. If they have other problems, that’s what it really affects. That’s it. You know in some states thousands of people, nobody young below the age of 18, like, nobody, they have a strong immune system. Who knows? You take your hat off to the young because they have a hell of an immune system, but it affects virtually nobody. It’s an amazing thing.” [Bullshit. Dangerous bullshit]

    In context, it wasn’t altogether clear whether the “affects virtually nobody” phrase was intended to apply specifically to the young or to a broader population. Either way, pretty much everything the president said was outrageously wrong. As a Washington Post report explained:

    Much remains unknown about the virus’s effect on young people, but public health agencies have made clear that individuals under 18 are at greater risk of falling ill and spreading covid-19 than originally thought. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the number and rate of coronavirus cases among children under 18 had increased “steadily” from March to July. The agency emphasized that while covid-19 remains more serious and prevalent among adults, a lack of widespread testing prevents public health experts from understanding the true incidence of infection for American children. A CDC study found that young people of color, much like their older counterparts, have been disproportionately hospitalized from covid-19 compared to their White peers.

    Adding insult to injury — in this case, almost literally — Trump knows these claims aren’t true. We can say this with some certainty because hr spoke on tape to Bob Woodward, telling the journalist earlier this year that the virus affects “plenty of young people.” Trump added: “Now it’s turning out it’s not just old people, Bob. But just today, and yesterday, some startling facts came out. It’s not just old, older.” […]

    [Trump] deliberately chose to downplay it. […]

    And Trump downplayed the coronavirus in an incoherent word salad. “It affects virtually nobody.” Tell that to the 200,000+ people that have died.

  76. says

    Even Trump’s Own Census Director Doesn’t Know Who Ordered The Count Rushed

    The Trump administration’s decision to truncate the 2020 census “poses a myriad of risks” to the count’s accuracy and completeness, an inspector general report said Monday.

    Top Census Bureau officials, including its Trump-appointed director Steve Dillingham, are still not sure who within the administration made the decision to speed up the count. Their “consensus” view within the bureau is that the acceleration will “negatively impact the accuracy,” according to Commerce Department Inspector General Peggy E. Gustafson’s report.

    […] Back in April, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross — who oversees the decennial census — requested that those deadlines, which included a Dec. 31 deadline for producing data for congressional apportionment, be pushed back by four months by Congress. The House approved the request in COVID-19 legislation it passed in May, while the Senate has yet to formally back the move.

    […] Many Census officials said that they believed they lost the support for extensions from both Congress [specifically, from the Senate] and from the administration itself.

    […] in mid-July, Commerce Department officials began asking Census officials questions about accelerating the count, while the Office of Management and Budget submitted an appropriations request to the Senate that — rather than seek the extensions — asked for more funding instead.

    Sounds like a typical Trump administration clusterfuck to me. The right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. There is no coherent process to come up with a policy and to inform all concerned. Also, some obfuscation was deliberate and was intended to hide the trumpian anti-immigrant agenda.

    At least two senior Census Bureau officials, according to the report, believe that the decision to expedite the count was linked to the policy […] Trump announced on July 21 that said that undocumented immigrants would be excluded from the data used for apportionment. If the extensions were granted, then there would be a chance that Joe Biden would be president by the time apportionment happened.

    Apportionment affects government funding, and representation in Congress.

    […] The Census Bureau announced that it was speeding up the count on August 3. Its plan to do so was developed in just a few days, after bureau leadership received a July 29 call from a top Commerce Department official directing it to come up with a timeline to deliver the apportionment data by the end of the year.

    Other inquiries into the move have identified that official as Karen Dunn Kelley, a top Ross aide. The office of inspector general is now seeking an interview with her.

    Congressional Democrats had said they hoped to get language extending the deadlines in must-pass spending legislation that would avert a government shutdown at the end of this month. […]

    In the lawsuits, a federal judge in California already issued a temporary restraining order blocking the bureau from winding down the count, and she is hearing arguments later Tuesday on whether to convert that order into a preliminary injunction.

    On Monday, a three-judge panel in Maryland heard arguments in a lawsuit that targeting both the anti-immigrant apportionment policy and the move to rush the count.

    Already, a three-judge panel in New York has declared the apportionment policy unlawful, and the Trump administration is taking that case to the Supreme Court.

    Under the expedited timeline, self-response and follow up data collection activities in the field would end on on Sept. 30, instead of Oct. 31, as was contemplated in the extension request sent to Congress in April. Once data collection ends, the Census Bureau will only have two and half months under the expedited timeline for processing the data, a stage that usually lasts 4-5 months.

    […] The bigger concern around the truncated plan is the limited time for processing and quality review, and senior bureau officials identified “several risks” in that phase, according to the report.

    “Bureau leaders continued to believe that the statutory extension was preferable, and would give the Bureau the best chance to create a high-quality, usable census,” the report said.

  77. says

    Oh, Donald Junior, I do wish you would shut up.

    With Bogus Claim Of ‘Millions’ Of Fraudulent Votes, Don Jr. Recruits ‘Army For Trump’

    Appearing haggard and hoarse, Donald Trump Jr. stared down the camera and began recruiting soldiers.

    Yeah, he did look and sound terrible. Is he sick?

    “We need every able-bodied man and woman to join Army for Trump’s election security operation,” he said, the words “ENLIST NOW!” plastered next to his face.

    “We need you to help us watch them.”

    Trump Jr. wasn’t talking about an armed security force, at least not yet: No, he was recruiting volunteers for Trump’s Election Day Operations team, according to a website he boosted in the video.

    Campaign spokesperson Erin Perrine, in another video on the site, warned that Democrats “will be up to their old dirty tricks on Election Day to make sure that President Trump doesn’t win. Therefore, she said, the campaign wanted to “cover every polling place in the country with people like you.”

    Trump took it a step further, accusing the “radical left” of “laying the groundwork to steal this election from my father.” [Oh, FFS.]

    “They are planting stories that President Trump will have a landslide lead on election night but will lose when they finish counting the mail-in ballots,” he said. “Their plan is to add millions of fraudulent ballots that can cancel your vote and overturn the election. We cannot let that happen.” […]

    Voter intimidation efforts have already begun:

    […] on Saturday, a group of flag-waving Trump supporters showed up at a polling site in Virginia where early voting was taking place, intimidating some voters and poll workers, according to the general registrar of Fairfax County.

    “Citizens coming into and leaving the building did have to go by them,” Gary Scott, the general registrar, said. “Those voters who were in line outside of the building were moved inside and we continued operations. Some voters, and elections staff, did feel intimidated by the crowd and we did provide escorts past the group. One of the escorts was the county executive.”

  78. says

    Follow-up to comment 78.

    Why do the Trumps use words like “Army” and “Enlist” when none of them would enlist in a real military effort?

    Donald Junior looks like the strain of worrying about Daddy losing the election and then going to jail is really getting to him.

    Don Junior has a plan to interfere with people who are trying to vote. That’s illegal.

    Comments from readers of the article:

    So, if the Democrats are all mailing in their ballots, who are the Army for Trump going to watch as they cover all the polling places? Republican voters spreading coronavirus?
    The TPM article is missing the information that this is apparently a Facebook video. That’s important for any discussion of how social media is complicit, any laws being broken on election interference, incitement to violence, etc.
    I have volunteered to be a poll watcher here in AZ. I plan on watching the other poll watchers.

  79. says

    Aww, Barr’s feelings were hurt.

    DOJ Says Top Officials Will Snub Congress Because Committee Was Mean To Barr

    The Justice Department on Monday told the House Judiciary Committee that several high-profile witnesses would not testify as requested because legislators had been rude to Attorney General Bill Barr.

    The Judiciary Committee in recent weeks had requested testimony from the directors of the Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. Marshals Service, as well as from the assistant attorney general leading the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, Eric Dreiband. Writing in response to Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) on Monday, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd’s letter might as well have been one word: No.

    Instead, Boyd wrote at length about the indignities the attorney general experienced during his July 28 appearance before the committee, when Boyd said members of Congress chose “to use their allotted time to air grievances.”

    “Rather than attempt to obtain information from the Department that would assist the Committee in recommending legislation to the House, many members of the majority devoted their time entirely towards scolding and insulting the Attorney General,” Boyd wrote.

    […] Boyd took issue with Democrats’ interruptions of Barr, and their repeated use of the phrase “reclaiming my time” in order to cut him off. The letter singled out Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), though not by name, who at one point during his questioning of Barr told him “I don’t want you to tell your story” as Barr began to explain a position of his.

    It’s true that Democrats’ questions to Barr were often heavy on monologuing and riddled with “isn’t it true”-type questions.

    But singling out Johnson was an odd choice. The back-and-forth between Barr and the congressman produced one of Barr’s more memorable quotes of the day: “Let me ask you: Do you think it is fair for a 67-year-old man to be sent to prison for 7-9 years?” he said, defending his decision to intervene in the sentencing of Trump confidante Roger Stone in order to recommend a less prison time.

    It was an unintentionally revealing moment. Thousands of elderly people are currently incarcerated and serving lengthy sentences. But Barr intervened in the case of a close and strategic ally of the President. […]

    But according to Boyd, the department just wasn’t satisfied with the day’s questions.

    “We very much regret that the Committee did not elect to engage in a meaningful, good-faith effort to obtain information and views from the Attorney General while he was present and prepared to testify,” he wrote.

    “Having squandered its opportunity to conduct a meaningful oversight hearing with the Attorney General, it remains unclear how further public spectacles with other Department officials would now — a mere 14 legislative days since the Attorney General’s hearing — advance the Committee’s legitimate oversight efforts.”

  80. says

    Nobel Prize-Winning Economists Endorse Biden

    More than a dozen Nobel laureates in economics have endorsed Democratic nominee Joe Biden for president, saying that his support of science-backed public health solutions amid the coronavirus pandemic “will result in economic growth that is faster, more robust, and more equitable.”

    The 13 economists issued a joint letter supporting “the economic principles and policies” put forward by the Democratic nominee released early Tuesday by the Biden campaign.

    “While each of us has different views on the particulars of various economic policies, we believe that Biden’s overall economic agenda will improve our nation’s health, investment, sustainability, resilience, employment opportunities, and fairness and be vastly superior to the counterproductive economic policies of Donald Trump,” the group of economists wrote.

    […] Among the economists endorsing Biden in the letter was 2016 winner Edmund Phelps, who wrote an op-ed published Monday ripping Trump’s record on economic policy […]

  81. says

    Pentagon Used Congress Funding For PPE To Stockpile Military Equipment Instead

    Investigation into a $1 billion fund allotted by Congress to the Pentagon in March to bolster the country’s supplies of medical equipment reveals that the funds have been mostly diverted to defense contractors and used to manufacture military equipment like jet engine parts, body armor and dress uniforms.

    I wonder if this misappropriation of funds is related to Trump’s earlier theft of Pentagon funding for his vanity wall project.

    […] a taxpayer-based effort to combat COVID-19 was redirected to stockpiling military supplies.

    Passed earlier this year, the Cares Act distributed funds to the Pentagon to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.” […] in a matter of weeks, the Defense Department began reshaping how that money would be used — diverging from the original intent of Congress for the funds.

    The payments were made despite warnings from health officials as recently as last week that suggested there continue to be major funding gaps in responding to the pandemic. CDC director Robert Redfield, testified to the Senate last week that states desperately need $6 billion to distribute vaccines to Americans early next year.

    The funds could also be used to fill what continues to be a severe shortage of N95 masks at some hospitals knees-deep in their fight against the virus. But in the months after the stimulus package was passed, the Pentagon made other plans for the money.

    […] Rolls-Royce and ArcelorMittal among other firms were awarded $183 million to maintain the shipbuilding industry; tens of millions of dollars were awarded for satellite, drone and space surveillance technology; $80 million were given to a Kansas aircraft parts business which suffered a blow following the slowing of air travel amid the coronavirus and the Boeing 737 Max grounding. A domestic manufacturer for Army dress uniform fabric also received $2 million […]

    […] the use of emergency funding to boost defense contractors goes against the committee’s intent to promote the manufacturing of personal protective equipment. […]

    Trump lackey Defense Secretary Mark Esper is at least partially responsible for this debacle.

  82. says

    From Mark Sumner: “Unreleased CIA report says Putin is directly engaged in demeaning Joe Biden, and Giuliani is helping.”

    […] information from the CIA makes it clear that Vladimir Putin is likely to be personally directing the effort to demean Biden. But whether Putin or his lieutenants are in charge of that effort, the means of carrying it out are clear enough. To hurt Biden, Russian operatives in Ukraine are playing up exactly the claims that Donald Trump was pressing in the extortion scheme that resulted in his being impeached. And because Trump-era Republicans never feel any shame, even when they are caught consorting with America’s enemies in a scheme to plant false information against an opposition candidate, the Russian effort to derail Biden is being directed through Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph Giuliani.

    […] The August 31 Worldwide Intelligence Review compiles information from both public sources and classified assets, and what it describes is how pro-Russia member of the Ukrainian legislature Andrii Derkach—Giuliani’s primary contact in Ukraine—worked to spread Russian disinformation about Biden “inside the United States through lobbyists, Congress, the media and contacts with figures close to the president.”

    The assessment notes that Putin and Russian senior leadership are most likely leading this effort, and are certainly aware of what’s happening in the Derkach-Giuliani pipeline. Derkach is decisively identified not just as a Russia-leaning legislator, but as an active Russian asset, which echoes previous evaluation from both the Office of the DNI and the Treasury Department.

    […] Giuliani also released a series of altered and heavily edited audiotapes created to make it seem that Biden engaged in pushing Ukraine to help his son. Those recordings are likely a direct product of Russia propaganda. […]

    In August, Donald Trump tweeted a part of the Russia-created “recording,” spread by Derkach and Giuliani, in which both Biden’s words and those of the then Ukrainian president had been altered. That Twitter user who posted that recording as since been banned. Trump is still there.


  83. says

    Anti-mask, pro-Trump lawmaker dies of COVID-19 after mocking the pandemic on social media

    […] The virus is far from over and these stories shed light on the importance of abiding by COVID-19 safety measures, including wearing a mask. In the list of those who denied the virus only to be infected is Tony Tenpenny, a Republican former Nashville Council Member who died Sunday.

    An active Donald Trump supporter and anti-masker, Tenpenny represented the 16th Nashville Metro Council from 2011 to 2015. […] According to The Tennessean, he died after being hospitalized for more than a month and after being placed on a ventilator earlier this month.

    […] Prior to his diagnosis, Teneppy mocked COVID-19 and its severity openly on social media. On Facebook, he not only questioned the use of masks but shared articles criticizing safety measures and lockdowns in place by states in addition to other conspiracy theories calling the virus a political tactic.

    More than a dozen posts can be traced back to his social media in which he spread misinformation about the virus, including a video from a Texas doctor who created outrageous theories about the virus and its connection to demons. In another notable post, he wrote, “the CDC and the WHO are pure lying (expletive)” and that those public health bodies are “not telling you the truth.”

    Some of the articles he shared, including one he shared in July on front-line workers, are marked as “partly false information” by Facebook. Many of his posts are now unavailable or hidden on the site. […]

  84. says

    Trump delivered a speech at the virtual United Nations gathering. He did his usual thing: he blamed everybody else for COVID-19, and he proclaimed his wonderfulness.

    […] Trump railed against China while addressing the United Nations general assembly on Tuesday, calling for the global body to hold Beijing accountable for the coronavirus pandemic […]

    Speaking in pre-recorded remarks to the largely virtual assembly, Trump said the U.S. had gone to war against “the invisible enemy, the China virus” and listed a number of grievances as [supposed] evidence of Beijing’s responsibility for the global spread of COVID-19.

    “The United Nations must hold China accountable for their actions,” Trump said. […]

    Trump also blasted the World Health Organization, the global health body of the U.N. [Trump] terminated the U.S. relationship with the WHO in May over its handling of the pandemic.

    “The Chinese government, and the World Health Organization – which is virtually controlled by China – falsely declared that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission,” [Trump lied]

    The WHO and Chinese officials acknowledged human-to-human transmission on January 20, although Taiwanese officials had raised the alarm to WHO representatives on the possibility of such transmission as early as December 31.

    The Chinese representative to the U.N., Zhang Jun, speaking shortly after Trump, rejected as “baseless” accusations against China and called for cooperation and “not spreading of a political virus.”

    Chinese President Xi Jinping, who also addressed the global body in recorded remarks, reiterated calls for dialogue and “positive” competition.

    “China is the largest developing country in the world, a country that is committed to peaceful open cooperative and common development,” Xi said in translated remarks. “We will never seek hegemony expansion or sphere of influence. We have no intention to fight either a cold war or a hot one with any country.”

    The remarks by Trump and Xi, while pre-recorded and occurring on separate continents, marks one of the first confrontations between the two leaders amid spiraling diplomatic relations. […]


  85. says

    Hmmm. This is interesting.

    From Wonkette:

    The Atlantic has a report this week on Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation, the new book from top Mueller investigation prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, […] and it sounds like that investigation and the report it produced could have done a hell of a lot more good if it hadn’t been for everybody always being so scared of making Donald Trump mad.

    To be fair, Weissmann isn’t talking shit about his former boss, and he also expresses that the great fear throughout was that Trump would be triggered and shut the investigation down entirely. So there’s that.

    But still.

    Weissmann offers a damning indictment of a “lawless” president and his knowing accomplices—Attorney General William Barr (portrayed as a cynical liar), congressional Republicans, criminal flunkies, Fox News. Donald Trump, he writes, is “like an animal, clawing at the world with no concept of right and wrong.” But in telling the story of the investigation and its fallout, Weissmann reserves his most painful words for the Special Counsel’s Office itself. Where Law Ends portrays a group of talented, dedicated professionals beset with internal divisions and led by a man whose code of integrity allowed their target to defy them and escape accountability.

    That’s disheartening. Weissmann writes, “We could have done more.” He writes that parts of the Mueller Report were “mealymouthed.” He says Mueller, ultimately, let the American people down.

    Weissmann is frustrated the Mueller Report didn’t go as far as, say, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee did in actually making decisions and assessments. For instance, remember how pleasantly surprised we all were that SSCI went ahead and called Paul Manafort’s Russian spy buddy Konstantin Kilimnik a fucking Russian spy? Mueller’s report didn’t go that far, and that kind of clear assessment might have been helpful in telling the story of how PAUL MANAFORT SPENT THE 2016 CAMPAIGN HANDING SECRET TRUMP POLLING DATA — RUST BELT POLLING DATA — TO A FUCKING RUSSIAN SPY.

    […] Weissmann led the investigation into Manafort, and he has thoughts on that:

    Team M […] came close to establishing a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. On August 2, 2016, Manafort dined in New York City with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Ukrainian-born business associate with ties to Russian intelligence and oligarchs. Manafort, a lavishly compensated hired gun for some of the oligarchs, had been sharing campaign strategy with Kilimnik, including sensitive polling data. Over dinner, Manafort described Trump’s strategy in four battleground states; Kilimnik in turn presented for Trump’s approval a Russian “peace plan” that would amount to the annexation of eastern Ukraine. Last month’s Senate report, going further than Team M, named Kilimnik as an actual Russian intelligence officer and revealed his likely connection to the 2016 election-interference operations. “This is what collusion looks like,” the committee’s Democratic members wrote in an appendix. […]

    Weissmann and his colleagues were thwarted by chance—Manafort’s No. 2, Rick Gates, arrived late for the dinner with Kilimnik and was subsequently unable to tell investigators all that was discussed. They were hamstrung by Mueller’s decision not to look into Trump’s financial dealings with Russia, which might have established a source of Russian leverage over Trump, but which the president had declared a red line not to be crossed. And they were frustrated by perjury—for Manafort never stopped lying to Team M. His lies were encouraged by the president, who made sympathetic noises about Manafort with the suggestion that stonewalling might earn him a pardon. Trump’s pardon power was an obstacle that the prosecutors didn’t anticipate and could never overcome. It kept them from being able to push uncooperative targets as hard as in an ordinary criminal case.

    In court, Weissmann told Judge Amy Berman Jackson that the August 2, 2016, meeting went to the “heart” of what Mueller’s team was investigating. […]

    they couldn’t get Manafort to stop lying to protect Trump, who they knew would pardon Manafort anyway. They weren’t following the money, because Mueller thought that wasn’t his job. ([…] former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein intentionally memory-holed that part of the investigation, by making it seem like the FBI was handling the counter-intel part, while the FBI thought Mueller was. Asshole.)

    And again, they were scared they were going to get shut down entirely […] by the criminal president they were investigating. […] They didn’t subpoena Donald Trump Jr. about his Russian conspiracy Trump Tower meeting. They didn’t even try to interview Ivanka, because they were scared of Fox News yapping about how they were “roughing up the president’s daughter.” They didn’t subpoena Trump, even after he straight-up lied in his responses to the take-home test of written questions they gave him.

    Weissmann specifically calls out Mueller’s right-hand man in the special counsel’s office, Aaron Zebley, who sat next to Mueller as he testified to Congress last year:

    “Repeatedly during our twenty-two months in operation,” Weissmann writes, “we would reach some critical juncture in our investigation only to have Aaron say that we could not take a particular action because it risked aggravating the president beyond some undefined breaking point.”

    […] For all that, though, the Mueller Report absolutely did show collusion, and the outlines of conspiracy. And though Mueller refused to say out loud that Trump obstructed justice — a decision Weissmann was not pleased with — it was painfully clear he had, multiple times. You just had to read the report yourself — a tall order in present-day America, which is bad at reading — and you had to get past Bill Barr brazenly lying about the report’s contents and declaring Trump TOTALLY EXONERATED for weeks before it was actually released to the public.

    Here is The Atlantic’s conclusion, based on Weissmann’s book and its interview with Weissman:

    Mueller? He was incapable of navigating the world remade by Trump. He conducted himself with scrupulous integrity and allowed his team to be intimidated by people who had no scruples at all. His deep aversion to publicity silenced him when the public badly needed clarity about the special counsel’s dense, ambiguous, at times unreadable report. His sense of fairness surrendered the facts of presidential criminality to an administration that was at war with facts. He trusted his friend Barr to play it straight, not realizing that Barr had gone crooked. He left the job of holding the president accountable to a Congress that had shown itself to be Trump’s willing accomplice. He wanted, above all, to warn the American people about foreign subversion of our democracy, while the greater subversion gathered force here at home.

    In our interview, I asked Weissmann if Mueller had let the American people down. “Absolutely, yep,” Weissmann said, before quickly adding: “I wouldn’t phrase it as just Mueller. I would say ‘the office.’ There are a lot of things we did well, and a lot of things we could have done better, to be diplomatic about it.”

    We liberals and progressives — hell, all patriotic Americans who hate President Authoritarian Shithole McGee — have to fall out of love with norms, at least for now. We’re almost four years into this. The time has passed for us to be bellyaching about “THIS IS JUST NOT HOW IT’S DONE!” Now we have to just fucking do what has to be done. We have to meet the moment.

    Robert Mueller, sadly, did not meet the moment.


  86. says

    From Mark Joseph Stern:

    […] Shortly after he learned of Ginsburg’s death, Trump told a crowd in North Carolina that he is “counting on the federal court system” to limit how many votes get counted. Perhaps that’s why he is reportedly considering Judge Barbara Lagoa for the seat. Lagoa is not just conservative—she’s also a partisan who flouted judicial ethics to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of people in Florida, potentially throwing the state to Trump. Lagoa’s unprincipled conduct in that case makes her a perfect candidate for the president’s midnight appointment. […]

    Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis elevated her to the Florida Supreme Court, making her the first Latina to join the bench. She promptly joined the new conservative majority in revisiting and overturning progressive precedents.

    […] As a justice, Lagoa also participated in oral arguments over the scope of Amendment 4, a landmark constitutional amendment (passed via ballot initiative) that restored suffrage to people convicted of most felonies once they finished their sentences. DeSantis and Republican lawmakers pushed through a bill sabotaging the amendment by requiring Floridians to pay all fines and fees associated with their sentence before regaining the right to vote.[Bloomberg is paying some of those fees. See comment 71 from blf] Civil rights activists argued that the law violated Amendment 4, which made no mention of fines and fees. […]

    Lagoa also wrote her own concurrence, joined by no one, that would gut constitutional protections against wealth-based voter suppression. She argued that judges should generally uphold poll taxes when indigent citizens have “alternative avenues” to vote—even when those avenues are arbitrary, discriminatory, or downright illusory. In Florida, people with felony convictions can theoretically regain the right to vote by seeking executive clemency. The state’s clemency board is notoriously biased toward white people and Republicans and rejects the vast majority of applicants, usually for no stated reason. According to Lagoa, however, those biases don’t matter. As long as people theoretically have another way to restore their voting rights, the state may saddle them with a poll tax that they cannot afford to pay. […]


  87. tomh says

    WaPo Opinion:
    Beware of covid-19 vaccine trials designed to succeed from the start
    William Haseltine, September 22, 2020
    William Haseltine is a former Harvard Medical School professor and founder of the university’s cancer and HIV/AIDS research departments. He serves as chair and president of the think tank ACCESS Health International.

    In response to widespread demand for more transparency, pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Pfizer have released clinical study protocols for their covid-19 vaccine trials. The goal is to reassure the public that the trials are being conducted responsibly and that any approved vaccine would be safe for all.

    But the protocols should heighten anxiety rather than alleviate it. A close reading suggests the clinical trials have been designed to ensure the greatest possible success for these candidates — and that could overstate their effectiveness.

    In both the Moderna and Pfizer trials, for example, the primary objective is to prevent any occurrence of covid-19, not necessarily a severe case. Preventing serious illness is a secondary objective. Yet it is the severe cases of covid-19 that have killed nearly 1 million people worldwide and left many millions more with long-term damage. With the current protocols, it is conceivable that a vaccine might be considered effective — and eventually approved — based primarily on its ability to prevent mild cases alone.

    Equally troubling is the size of the group in which efficacy for each vaccine would be proved. Both Pfizer and Moderna have touted the large number of participants in their trials, at upwards of 30,000 participants slated for each. But while the full trial sizes might be large, the protocols suggest that efficacy can be proved in an initial test group of just 106 for the Moderna vaccine and in a group of 64 for Pfizer. But keep in mind only half of each group receives the vaccine; the other half receives a placebo.

    The protocols suggest that successful initial interim trials for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines would show efficacy among 74 percent and 76.9 percent of participants, respectively. This means if 39 of those who receive the vaccine do not get sick, Moderna will consider the vaccine a success. For Pfizer, the number is 25.

    At this point, the Food and Drug Administration could grant emergency-use authorization. In other words, the two vaccines could hinge on the combined results of 64 people…

    Were these two vaccine-makers to come out with early results from an interim analysis of their trials and claim their candidates to be effective, there is little doubt the FDA would grant an emergency-use authorization. The public would likely take such a decision as a sign that the vaccine is completely effective, despite the fact that it would have been proved effective only in a small sampling of individuals and might not be useful at all in preventing severe cases of the disease.

    At a time when an average of 40,000 cases and nearly a thousand deaths are reported every day in the United States — and far more globally — these protocols are outrageous. The fact that one would base the health of billions of humans on the outcomes of a few defies any definition of common sense.

    …These protocols seem designed to get a drug on the market sooner rather than later, on a timeline arguably based more on politics than public health. The lives of millions are at risk; we can and should demand better.

  88. says

    Beware of covid-19 vaccine trials designed to succeed from the start.

    Washington Post link
    In response to widespread demand for more transparency, pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Pfizer have released clinical study protocols for their covid-19 vaccine trials. The goal is to reassure the public that the trials are being conducted responsibly and that any approved vaccine would be safe for all.

    But the protocols should heighten anxiety rather than alleviate it. A close reading suggests the clinical trials have been designed to ensure the greatest possible success for these candidates — and that could overstate their effectiveness.

    In both the Moderna and Pfizer trials, for example, the primary objective is to prevent any occurrence of covid-19, not necessarily a severe case. Preventing serious illness is a secondary objective. Yet it is the severe cases of covid-19 that have killed nearly 1 million people worldwide and left many millions more with long-term damage. With the current protocols, it is conceivable that a vaccine might be considered effective — and eventually approved — based primarily on its ability to prevent mild cases alone.

    If we were developing a vaccine for a simple cold virus, perhaps this would indeed be enough. But covid-19 is far from a common cold. People are not concerned about the tickle in their throat or a runny nose; they are concerned about being put in the hospital. A covid-19 vaccine should, first and foremost, protect us from severe instances of the disease.

    Equally troubling is the size of the group in which efficacy for each vaccine would be proved. Both Pfizer and Moderna have touted the large number of participants in their trials, at upwards of 30,000 participants slated for each. But while the full trial sizes might be large, the protocols suggest that efficacy can be proved in an initial test group of just 106 for the Moderna vaccine and in a group of 64 for Pfizer. But keep in mind only half of each group receives the vaccine; the other half receives a placebo.

    The protocols suggest that successful initial interim trials for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines would show efficacy among 74 percent and 76.9 percent of participants, respectively. This means if 39 of those who receive the vaccine do not get sick, Moderna will consider the vaccine a success. For Pfizer, the number is 25.

    At this point, the Food and Drug Administration could grant emergency-use authorization. In other words, the two vaccines could hinge on the combined results of 64 people. […]

    The public would likely take such a decision as a sign that the vaccine is completely effective, despite the fact that it would have been proved effective only in a small sampling of individuals and might not be useful at all in preventing severe cases of the disease.

    While both companies say they would continue their trials and continue to explore potential long-term health risks, it might not be possible to do so if participants receiving the placebo demand the real vaccine. As we saw with previous emergency authorizations — namely hydroxychloroquine, convalescent plasma and remdesivir — once they were granted, the trials ended. Are we really willing to conclude a drug is safe based on the health outcomes of so few? […]

    At a time when an average of 40,000 cases and nearly a thousand deaths are reported every day in the United States — and far more globally — these protocols are outrageous. The fact that one would base the health of billions of humans on the outcomes of a few defies any definition of common sense.

    If — or perhaps when — positive early results from these trials are announced, keep my warnings in mind. These protocols seem designed to get a drug on the market sooner rather than later, on a timeline arguably based more on politics than public health. The lives of millions are at risk; we can and should demand better.

    The article is by William Haseltine. He is a former Harvard Medical School professor and founder of the university’s cancer and HIV/AIDS research departments. He serves as chair and president of the think tank ACCESS Health International.

  89. says

    tomh @88, ah, I see we posted the same information. Sorry for the repetition.

    In other news, The problem with Lindsey Graham’s timeline of events

    Graham would have us believe he broke his word because of the allegations against Kavanaugh. But the calendar betrays him.

    […] By way of a defense, he [Graham] initially justified his betrayal by pointing to a Senate rule change in 2013 on lower-court nominees, but this argument was quickly debunked as nonsense, intended to fool those with short memories.

    Yesterday, Graham tried a different pitch.

    Now he has reversed course, informing Judiciary Committee Democrats in a letter Monday that he intends to move forward with hearings on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. He said that “after the treatment of Justice Kavanaugh I now have a different view of the judicial-confirmation process.”

    Ah, I see. Graham made public declarations about his deeply-held commitments, but he feels justified in abandoning his own principles because Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s feelings were hurt when he was accused of lying about a sexual assault.

    That’s a pitiful argument, made worse by the fact that Graham’s timeline doesn’t quite add up.

    I went back and found the exact date of the senator’s “hold the tape” comments: it was at a forum held on Oct. 3, 2018. That wouldn’t be especially notable, except Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee was on Sept. 27, 2018. The Republican-led panel advanced Kavanaugh’s nomination a day later, on Sept. 28, 2018.

    In other words, Graham would have us believe he broke his word because of the allegations against Kavanaugh. But the calendar betrays him: Graham heard from Blasey Ford, voted for Kavanaugh’s nomination, and then committed to not voting on a Supreme Court nominee during an election. In fact, it was nearly a week later.

    Maybe the senator can come up with some other rationalization for breaking his word? Or alternatively, maybe Graham can just admit that he’s motivated entirely by maximalist partisan politics?

  90. says

    Apologies for my blockquote fail in comment 89. All but the last paragraph is text quoted from the Washington Post.

    In other news, this is an encouraging update from Politico:

    Six months into a crusade to stop universal mail-in voting, Trump hasn’t yet prevented a single state from sending voters the unsolicited ballots he claims, with minimal evidence, are ripe for fraud.

  91. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    My solicited ballot should arrive before the first of October. It will be in a monitored dropbox within 24hrs. Forget any October lies from changing my mind. I suspect that that is the Hair Furor’s real problem.

  92. Akira MacKenzie says

    I got my ballot Saturday. I filled it out, had it witnessed and took it straight to the post office, giving it to the clerk at the counter and making sure it was stamped and filed correctly.

  93. tomh says

    Republicans object to Senate resolution honoring Ginsburg’s life after Democrats include her dying wish
    By Felicia Sonmez

    Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked a resolution recognizing the life of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after Democrats added to the measure the late Supreme Court justice’s dying wish that she not be replaced until a new president is installed.

    Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced the resolution Tuesday afternoon, noting that Republicans had approached Democrats with the measure but that it ignored Ginsburg’s wish, words shared by her granddaughter.

    “So we simply have added it to the exact same text of the resolution the Republicans gave us,” Schumer said. He added that Republicans’ words in recent days honoring Ginsburg’s life “will be totally empty if those Republicans ignore her dying wish and instead move to replace her with someone who will tear down everything she built.”

    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) objected to the resolution and proposed modifying it to include a different Ginsburg quotation in which the justice said she disagreed with the notion of court packing, or expanding the Supreme Court to more than nine seats.

    Schumer then spoke in objection to Cruz’s proposal, leaving the chamber back where it started.

    “I believe Justice Ginsburg would easily see through the legal sophistry of the argument of the junior senator from Texas,” Schumer said. “To turn Justice [Ginsburg’s] dying words against her is so, so beneath the dignity of this body.”

    They don’t have a lot to do back there in the Senate it seems.

  94. says

    Satire/humor from Andy Borowitz: “Merrick Garland Sitting in Parked Car in Mitch McConnell’s Driveway”

    Merrick Garland is sitting in a parked car in Mitch McConnell’s driveway, hoping for a meeting with the Senate Majority Leader, Garland has confirmed.

    Garland, who has been sitting in his Nissan Sentra in McConnell’s driveway since Monday, said that he is “encouraged” by recent developments indicating that Republicans have changed their minds about confirming a Supreme Court Justice during an election year.

    “Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham thought it was a terrible idea in 2016, but for whatever reason they’ve really come around,” he said. “All I can say is, playing the waiting game is about to pay off big time for one Merrick Garland.”

    Garland, who has not seen McConnell enter or leave his home since the judge first parked his Sentra in the driveway, was baffled by speculation that the Kentucky senator has been hiding in his kitchen to avoid an encounter with him.

    “That makes zero sense to me,” Garland said. “If I’m going to be confirmed before the election, we’ve got to get going on this thing.”

    New Yorker link

  95. says

    Follow-up to comment 76.

    From Wonkette:

    […] Now, to be scrupulously fair, the president wasn’t marking the 200,000 COVID death milestone by saying “it affects virtually nobody.” He was just saying that it doesn’t affect anybody who matters.

    If you’re elderly, or have heart disease, or are overweight, or immunocompromised, the president of the United States is perfectly happy for you to meet your maker today. But you can take his word for it that he’ll be producing a healthcare plan that protects people with pre-existing conditions in two weeks. You bet!

    Here on Planet Earth, however, Trump’s claims are bullshit even given our very generous interpretation. While young people are at significantly decreased risk of hospitalization or mortality, by no means are they “immune” to coronavirus. At least 110 American children have already died from the disease, athletes who contract it appear to be at risk of longterm heart damage if they contract it, and Black and Hispanic children are at elevated risk, requiring hospitalization more frequently than their white peers.

    Moreover, it is children’s asymptomatic appearance that may make them ideal spreaders — they don’t get outwardly ill, so no one knows they’re walking around shedding virus.

    All of which Donald Trump may or may not know — he’s really not much of a reader, TBH.

    But he certainly knows that it’s not just those apparently expendable old people who are at risk from coronavirus. In February he told Bob Woodward, “Now it’s turning out it’s not just old people, Bob. But just today, and yesterday, some startling facts came out. It’s not just old, older.” […]


  96. says

    Update on the letter contaminated with Ricin:

    A letter sent to the White House containing the toxic powder ricin has been traced back to Pascale Ferrier, a woman who was arrested on Sunday while trying to cross the U.S. border from Canada, authorities said Tuesday. Ferrier has been charged with making threats against the president of the United States.

    CBS News link</a.

  97. says

    Citations for Oregon vigilantes handed down just as sheriff comes under fire for friendly handling

    [Photo of guys with guns, one of them wearing a “No hablo libtard” T-shirt.]

    Just as it became engulfed in a controversy over its handling of vigilante “citizens patrols” that have appeared in rural areas to defend against the nonexistent threat of “antifa arsonists” concocted by right-wing conspiracy theorists, the sheriff’s department in Multnomah County, Oregon—where Portland is the county seat—issued citations to three armed vigilantes late last week for stopping and threatening motorists.

    The men—Joshua Smith, 36, Michael Meier, 36, and Travis Lucky, 18—were charged Thursday with disorderly conduct in the second degree, after having been interrupted by deputies while stopping vehicles at the gateway to the Columbia River Gorge and interrogating drivers. One driver complained that he had been followed by three vehicles and then blocked.

    “The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office will not tolerate this type of illegal activity,” Sheriff Mike Reese said in a statement. “If you see this activity or are stopped by a civilian, call 911, and a deputy will respond and investigate. We encourage people to call the sheriff’s office to report suspicious activity and to not take action on their own.”

    Groups of armed men began setting up ad-hoc roadblocks last week in response to hoax rumors spread widely on social media—particularly Facebook—that organized groups of antifa activists were secretly setting the wildfires that swept the West Coast for several weeks, and then looting the homes and towns in their path afterwards. The hoax was inflamed even further when major right-wing media figures—including Donald Trump, Joe Rogan, and Fox News—amplified the rumors to their audiences.

    Multiple law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, issued pleas to the public to stop spreading the false rumors—in no small part because the vigilantes not only pose a threat to public safety but to efforts to control the wildfires and evacuate citizens as well. “FBI Portland and local law enforcement agencies have been receiving reports that extremists are responsible for setting wildfires in Oregon,” Renn Cannon, Special Agent in Charge of Portland’s FBI field office, told Oregon Public Broadcasting. “With our state and local partners, the FBI has investigated several such reports and found them to be untrue. Conspiracy theories and misinformation take valuable resources away local fire and police agencies working around the clock to bring these fires under control.”

    A report by Jason Wilson of The Guardian, however, also revealed that some deputies in local sheriff’s departments were openly encouraging the vigilante citizens patrols, even while warning against setting up roadblocks. A Clackamas County deputy has already been placed on leave after being caught on video offering advice to vigilantes at a roadblock, as well as spreading the false “antifa arsonists” rumors.

    Citizens in the Multnomah County town of Corbett, as Wilson reported, had gathered to discuss self-defense measures against the feared antifa invaders. During that meeting, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Sergeant Bryan White—after giving a perfunctory warning against setting up roadblocks—generally encouraging the citizens patrols comprising the effort. […]

    The vigilante citizens patrols reflected the eagerness of right-wing activists to engage in violent confrontations with activists, as well as their hostility to the presence of any kinds of minorities in their communities. The latter was embodied in an incident contained in the Guardian report involving an African American woman named Latoya Robinson, a resident of the nearby town of Sandy, who was among those stopped.

    Robinson had evacuated to a friend’s home due to a raging wildfire near Sandy, but nonetheless found herself stopped with a carful of children by men wearing camouflage, carrying AR-15s and other weapons, and bearing no kind of identification or indication of public authority.

    One of the men who stopped her, she said, asked menacingly: “You’re not from around here, are you?”

  98. says

    CDC director’s office ordered softening of Covid safety protocols.

    The expert team on the ground in Sioux Falls, South Dakota did their work at the Smithfield meat processing plant. Then CDC Director Robert Redfield back in Washington D.C. met with Trump’s lackey Sonny Perdue (Secretary of Agriculture). Next, someone from Redfield’s office called the experts on the ground and instructed them to rescind the report they had already filed. They were instructed to soften the report so much that it became meaningless, toothless.

    Rachel Maddow has the receipts. She has the original, correct report, ands she has the amended toothless report. The toothless report was applied to multiple meatpacking plants with COVID-19 infections in their workforces.

    The result: hundreds of people died. Infections spread into communities.

    The link above is to just one segment of several aired by Rachel Maddow last night. This video is 12:42 minutes long.

  99. says

    Follow-up to comment 100.

    From Cindy McCain:

    Joe Biden represents to me the kinds of values and integrity and courage that we want in a president and someone who, I think, would have my back as a citizen and someone who lives in a neighborhood and has a family and all the other things that people do. I want to feel like my president cares about me and cares about this country and Joe Biden does.

    I do believe that he’ll make a wonderful president with regards to not only the military, but in every other aspect, and most importantly, and the thing that touches me a great deal is that Joe has great empathy for people in this country people that are struggling, people that are suffering.

    From Cindy McCain’s earlier tweet:

    My husband John lived by a code: country first. We are Republicans, yes, but Americans foremost. There’s only one candidate in this race who stands up for our values as a nation, and that is @JoeBiden

    Joe and I don’t always agree on the issues, and I know he and John certainly had some passionate arguments, but he is a good and honest man. He will lead us with dignity.

    He will be a commander in chief that the finest fighting force in the history of the world can depend on, because he knows what it is like to send a child off to fight.

    Trump’s graceless reply:

    I hardly know Cindy McCain other than having put her on a Committee at her husband’s request. Joe Biden was John McCain’s lapdog. So many BAD decisions on Endless Wars & the V.A., which I brought from a horror show to HIGH APPROVAL. Never a fan of John. Cindy can have Sleepy Joe!

    A graceless reply from Trump’s campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh:

    She didn’t support Donald Trump in 2016 either and he’s president now.

    Team Trump often falls back on the “might makes right” argument.

  100. says

    Yes, we already suspected this was the case. Now we have proof.

    Former NSC official: White House politicized handling of Bolton book

    A former career official with the National Security Council conducted an “apolitical” review of John Bolton’s book. Then Team Trump got involved.

    Before John Bolton’s book was released in June, Team Trump’s lawyers went to court in the hopes of derailing publication of the former White House official’s work. That effort failed and the book became a bestseller.

    Three months later, the Justice Department opened a criminal investigation into whether Bolton disclosed classified information when he published his memoir.

    Yes, that’s right. Trump lost one court battle to keep Bolton’s book from being published, so he had his attack dog, Attorney General William Barr, open a criminal investigation.

    Yesterday, this mess got quite a bit messier. The New York Times reported this morning:

    White House aides improperly intervened to prevent a manuscript by the former national security adviser John R. Bolton from becoming public, a career official said in a court filing on Wednesday, accusing them of making false assertions and trying to coerce her to join their efforts, and suggesting that they retaliated when she refused.

    At issue is an account from Ellen Knight, a former career official with the National Security Council, who was initially responsible for reviewing Bolton’s book before its release. After she determined that the text did not include classified information, she believes the process that had been “apolitical” was soon after “commandeered by political appointees for a seemingly political purpose” to go after Bolton in ways she described as “unprecedented.”

    Making matters worse, Knight alleges that Trump aides asked her to sign anti-Bolton declarations that included false assertions, and when she balked, she was reassigned from the White House.

    Knight paints a particularly unflattering portrait of Michael Ellis, a former member of Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-Calif.) team, who was tasked with doing his own analysis of the book, despite having no background or training pre-publication reviews.

    OMG, Devin Nunes’ malign influence shows up again.

    The Times’ report added that Knight’s account “implied that the Justice Department may have told a court that the book contains classified information — and opened a criminal investigation into Mr. Bolton — based on false pretenses.”

    It appears this controversy is just getting started.

  101. says

    As Russia tries to damage Biden, Team Trump goes in wrong direction

    As multiple agencies shine a light on Russia’s ongoing attacks on US elections, Team Trump’s response is much worse than nothing.

    When it comes to Russia targeting U.S. elections to help Donald Trump, connecting the dots is a straightforward exercise. William Evanina, Trump’s director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, for example, recently released a statement documenting the fact that Kremlin-linked operatives are actively involved in an effort to keep the Republican in power.

    Soon after, the Department of Homeland Security issued an intelligence bulletin warning about Russian efforts to undermine our elections with false claims about our electoral system, which just so happened to echo the White House’s talking points.

    Then, of course, FBI Director Chris Wray delivered sworn congressional testimony describing “very active efforts” by Russia to interfere in the 2020 election by trying to “denigrate” the Democratic candidate.

    Now, it’s apparently the Central Intelligence Agency’s turn.

    The CIA assessed in late August that Vladimir Putin and other top Russian officials are “probably” directing a Russian operation to intervene in the election by discrediting Joe Biden, current and former intelligence officials told NBC News.

    In addition to the NBC News report, the New York Times added yesterday, “President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia is most likely continuing to approve and direct interference operations aimed at raising President Trump’s re-election chances, a recent C.I.A. analysis concluded, a signal that intelligence agencies continue to back their assessment of Russian activities despite the president’s attacks.”

    Given all of this, it’s worth focusing on how Trump and his team are responding to the multi-agency evidence about a foreign adversary targeting another American election cycle.

    First, we see [Trump] lashing out at his own handpicked FBI director for telling the public the truth about Russia and its apparent latest attack on our political system.

    Second, according to a whistleblower at the Department of Homeland Security, officials have been directed not to alert law enforcement to Russian efforts to interfere in our elections. By some accounts, Trump political appointees directed officials “to stand down on reporting about the Russian threat.”

    […] Politico reports today that the CIA “has made it harder for intelligence about Russia to reach the White House, stoking fears among current and former officials that information is being suppressed to please a president known to erupt in anger whenever he is confronted with bad news about Moscow.”

    Nine current and former officials said in interviews that CIA Director Gina Haspel has become extremely cautious about which, if any, Russia-related intelligence products make their way to […] Trump’s desk. Haspel also has been keeping a close eye on the agency’s fabled “Russia House,” whose analysts she often disagrees with and sometimes accuses of purposefully misleading her. Last year, three of the people said, Haspel tasked the CIA’s general counsel, Courtney Elwood, with reviewing virtually every product that comes out of Russia House, which is home to analysts and targeters who are experts in Russia and the post-Soviet space, before it “goes downtown” to the White House. One former CIA lawyer called it “unprecedented that a general counsel would be involved to this extent.”

    Uh, oh. It sounds like Gina Haspel may have become the William Barr of the CIA. That’s a disaster.

    In case this weren’t quite enough, the New York Times reports today that the line between Kremlin propaganda and Donald Trump’s election rhetoric has become so blurred that Russian intelligence agencies are “largely amplifying misleading statements” from the American president himself.

    The article added, “In interviews, a range of officials and private analysts said that Mr. Trump was feeding many of the disinformation campaigns they were struggling to halt. And rather than travel the back roads of America searching for divisive issues … they are staying home, grabbing screenshots of Mr. Trump’s Twitter posts, or quoting his misleading statements and then amplifying those messages.”

    Reflecting on Russian efforts to get him elected four years ago, [Trump] has repeatedly accused the Obama White House of doing “nothing” to stop the attacks. The argument has always been wrong, but in 2020, Trump and his team are taking steps that are much worse than “nothing.”

  102. says

    Another weirdly repetitive rant from Hair Furor, who seems to be intent on confessing that he wants the Supreme Court to lean heavily his way so that he can “win” the election, whether he has the votes or not:

    We need nine justices. You need that. With the unsolicited millions of ballots that they’re sending, it’s a scam; it’s a hoax. Everybody knows that. And the Democrats know it better than anybody else. So you’re going to need nine justices up there. I think it’s going to be very important. Because what they’re doing is a hoax, with the ballots. They’re sending out tens of millions of ballots, unsolicited — not where they’re being asked, but unsolicited. And that’s a hoax, and you’re going to need to have nine justices…. And the Democrats know what they’re doing is wrong, and all they want to do is go forward with it. So I think you’re going to need the nine justices.


    […] To the extent that reality still has any meaning, it’s probably worth emphasizing that sending ballots to voters — especially during a deadly pandemic — is neither a “scam” nor a “hoax.” Those words have actual meaning, though [Trump] doesn’t seem to know that.

    But far more important is the scenario Trump appears to be describing: he wants nine justices in order to address “millions of ballots that they’re sending.” There was surprisingly little subtlety to [Trump’s] comments: he noted the ballots, then the Supreme Court, then the ballots, then the Supreme Court, then the ballots, and then the Supreme Court.

    We don’t need a decoder ring to translate Trump to English: the president, if he doesn’t win the election the proper way, expects the judiciary he’s helped fill with far-right ideologues to hand him a second term.

    Matt O’Brien joked, “Trump is like a Bond villain who can’t help but tell us about his plan to rig the election.”

    Ezra Klein added, “The president keeps making clear that unless Democrats win by an unquestionable landslide, he will fight the results of the election and trigger an unprecedented legitimacy crisis, unless he’s allowed to simply steal power. We are in such dangerous territory.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Postscript: During his brief Q&A yesterday afternoon, Trump referenced the need for nine justices five times, but let’s not lose sight of the high-court arithmetic. As a result of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing, conservative justices now enjoy a 5-3 advantage.

    It’s hard not to wonder whether the president is concerned that his election scheme will be so brazen and so hostile toward democracy that one of the conservatives may not be comfortable, so Trump wants a 6-3 advantage, just to make sure the high court will be corrupt enough to keep him in power.


  103. says

    About that tragic number of more than 200,000 COVID-19 deaths in the USA, Trump finally commented:

    Well, I think it’s a shame. I think if we didn’t do it properly and do it right, you’d have two and a half million deaths. If you take a look at alternatives, you could have two and a half million deaths or something thereabouts.

    Those were his first and only public comments on that huge number of dead Americans.

    Then he left to hold another super-spreader campaign rally in Pittsburgh, where he mocked mask-wearing.

    This follows his comment one day before that COVID-19 “affects virtually nobody.” (See comment 76.)

  104. says

    Senator Ron Johnson expended his remaining dignity, (if he had any left at all after playing the lickspittle for Trump), on a rehash of bogus, already-disproven allegations against Biden. This was supposed to be some kind of “October Surprise” that would derail Biden’s campaign for president. It was a pathetic, tired flop.

    [Johnson] took a swing at Joe Biden [today], releasing a report that he has repeatedly vaunted as being catastrophically damaging for the former Vice President’s electoral hopes.

    But it was a miss. The report — which purports to document the effect that Hunter Biden’s position on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma had on U.S. foreign policy — is a rehash of long-debunked allegations […]

    But Senate Republicans summed up the result of their probe as well as anyone: “The extent to which Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board affected U.S. policy toward Ukraine is not clear,” the report reads. [LOL]

    Beyond that, the report fails to add anything else in terms of new allegations or substantiation, though it does devote significant pages towards attacking “liberal media outlets” which reported that the probe was funneling Russian disinformation. […]

    In a statement, Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates accused Johnson of “subsidiz[ing] a foreign attack against the sovereignty of our elections with taxpayer dollars — an attack founded on a long-disproven, hardcore rightwing conspiracy theory that hinges on Sen. Johnson himself being corrupt and that the Senator has now explicitly stated he is attempting to exploit to bail out Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.”

    Apart from restating the debunked allegations, Johnson also appears to have received documents from the U.S. Treasury that point to financial transactions involving Hunter Biden. Johnson takes the allegations on a particularly salacious route, saying that the Treasury docs show Biden’s son paying for “prostitution services.”

    The report offers no other information about the source of the information about the transactions or any corroboration from financial institutions of the information.

    […] It relies in part on a misleading January 2017 report in Politico suggesting that Kyiv conspired with the Democratic Party in 2016 to hurt Trump and help Hillary Clinton.

    The GOP-led Senate Intelligence Committee found last month that those allegations — which Republicans have cast as explaining that Ukraine was the true source of interference in the 2016 election — are part of a Russian intelligence campaign to deflect from its own involvement in attacking that same election.

    […] Johnson himself has spent months battling Democrats and members of the Republican Senate caucus to push through the investigation, while announcing his intention to damage Biden’s candidacy through the probe.

    […] Republican lawmakers wrote that “the Obama administration and the Democrat lobby shop Blue Star Strategies had consistent and extensive contact with Andrii Telizhenko over a period of years,” referring to Telizhenko’s time at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington during the Obama administration and his previous work as a secretary for a Ukrainian politician, where he helped schedule meetings with U.S. officials.

    That contact with Obama officials, in Johnson’s view, exonerates Telizhenko of any current accusation of being a sieve for Russian disinformation. [Yeah, that doesn’t stand up to even cursory scrutiny.]

    […] Senate Democrats raised a host of objections to the report, saying that Johnson had violated procedural rules and that it was more important for the Republican major “to get their political messaging out than for them to get any semblance of the truth out”

    “The effort is clearly to smear the Bidens with innuendo,” one of the aides added.


  105. says

    Follow-up to comment 108.

    From comments posted by readers of the article:

    Not sure how this ruins Joe Biden’s campaign for POTUS. A rehash of accusations against Hunter Biden is not some block buster scandal. Last I looked, Hunter Biden is not running for President.
    The comments on the Washington Post’s article about the report are universally dripping in contempt for Ron Johnson and full of disgust for the ‘Russian tools’ in the GOP.
    Ron needs to watch out. He has definitely disappointed Putin.
    lol, sad

    I’m sure this will irreparably harm the candidacy of Hunter Biden.
    Senator Schumer on the Senate floor says Ron Johnson’s Burisma report “reads as if Putin wrote it, not United States Senators”

    Says Johnson/Grassley should reimburse taxpayers and “this entire disgraceful affair…should be relegated to the dustbin of history.”

  106. says

    Excerpt from a longer report:

    Ginsburg’s flag-draped casket arrived at the court at 9:30 a.m. and was carried into the court’s Great Hall, past her former law clerks who lined the steps.

    Inside, the court’s remaining eight justices were together for the first time since the building was closed in March and they resorted to meetings by telephone.

    Ginsburg will lie in repose for two days at the court where she served for 27 years and, before that, argued six cases for gender equality in the 1970s.


    See the link for more details, and for photos.

    Ginsburg’s casket was quite small. Two women joined the six men who carried the casket.

  107. says

    Trump Further Guts Govt Anti-Racism Trainings By Extending Ban To Contractors

    […] Trump increased the scope of his assault against the government’s anti-racism workplace trainings on white privilege on Tuesday night with an executive order banning government contractors from holding the trainings.

    In the order, Trump claimed that trainings that discuss the disproportionate amount of power afforded to white men “perpetuates racial stereotypes and division and can use subtle coercive pressure to ensure conformity of viewpoint.”

    “Such activities also promote division and inefficiency when carried out by Federal contractors,” the order said.

    The contractors thus “will not be permitted to inculcate such views in their employees,” according to the order.

    Trump touted the ban on Twitter on Tuesday.

    “Americans should be taught to take PRIDE in our Great Country, and if you don’t, there’s nothing in it for you!” he tweeted.

    The order follows Trump’s ban prohibiting federal agencies from conducting workplace sensitivity trainings that explore power structures embedded in the U.S. that favor white men socially and economically. The President and his administration have derided the trainings as “anti-American propaganda.”

    Last week, White House budget chief Russell Vought stated that he was directing federal agency leaders to look out for “buzzwords” associated with the trainings.

  108. says

    Chad Wolf’s wife’s consulting firm got $6 million in DHS contracts the year after he joined agency.

    As unlawfully appointed acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Sec. Chad Wolf’s official nomination goes in front of a Senate committee today (he should be resigning, not getting rewarded), NBC News reports that the consulting firm where his wife works as an executive was awarded DHS contracts worth millions the year after he joined one of the department’s agencies. Drain the swa—HAHAHA […]

    “Although the company has a long history of federal contracts, it did not do work for DHS until after Wolf became the TSA’s chief of staff in 2017,” Julia Ainsley reports. “A DHS spokesperson said Wolf was not aware of the contracts until he was contacted by the media.” Oh, so just like when he claimed he wasn’t aware that the naturalization stunt he helped carry out was going to be broadcast as part of the Republican National Convention? Sure, Chad.” […]

    “After Mr. Wolf joined DHS, it began pumping millions of dollars into his wife’s firm, which also happens to be his largest financial asset,” Herrig told NBC News. “The arrangement is highly problematic and warrants congressional scrutiny.” But there’s little that Unlawful Chad has helped carry out for the Trump administration that doesn’t warrant scrutiny from Congress.

    In a statement released prior to Unlawful Chad’s Wednesday appearance before senators, immigrant rights advocacy group America’s Voice notes that from defying the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to authorizing the federal thugs who carried out the state-sanctioned kidnappings of Americans in Portland, he should be resigning, not getting rewarded.

    “Wolf was a behind-the-scenes player during the systematic separation of thousands of children from their parents earlier in the Trump era—one of the darkest chapters of this or any other presidency,” the organization said. “More recently, under Wolf’s acting leadership, DHS and ICE have sought to reinstitute family separation by forcing moms and dads into an impossible choice: either staying together as a family in facilities that endanger their lives or allowing their children to be ripped away and released on their own with uncertain prospects of ever being reunited.”

    The administration has continued to refuse to release these kids and their parents together from dangerous immigration prisons in the middle of a pandemic.

    “The horrifying allegations of forced hysterectomies at an ICE detention facility in Georgia represents the type of demonization and abuse that must be exposed, repudiated and punished and that has flourished during Wolf’s time at DHS,” America’s Voice continued. “From ICE facilities lacking rudimentary health care to allegations of sexual abuse to a disturbing pattern of deaths in custody, the entire detention system and their leaders deserve investigation—not promotion or Senate […]


  109. says

    Grand jury indicts 1 police officer in the killing of Breonna Taylor

    A Kentucky grand jury on Wednesday indicted a single police officer for shooting into neighboring apartments but did not move forward with charges against any officers for their role in Breonna Taylor’s death.

    A grand jury announced that Officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment in connection to the police raid on the night of March 13. […]

    Wait a minute! An officer was charged for bullets that entered a neighboring apartment, but not for bullets that entered Breonna Taylor’s body and killed her?! I don’t get it.

  110. says

    Follow-up to comment 102.

    From Wonkette:

    In an exclusive report yesterday, MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” uncovered still more political interference by the Trump administration in the response to the coronavirus pandemic. The story makes a hell of a strong case for the immediate resignation of Robert Redfield as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, because he’s given in to Trumpworld directives that have led the agency to promote misleading, non-science-based information about the virus and what’s needed to protect Americans from the pandemic.

    Specifically, Maddow and her reporting team uncovered evidence that the CDC watered down recommendations its scientists had made for dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak at a Smithfield Foods meatpacking plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It’s just good old document-finding, digging, and checking with agency insiders. [Video from Maddow’s show is also available on this Wonkette page.]

    A little background: Back in April, Maddow did a segment on the CDC’s recommendations for improvements at the Smithfield plant. In previous public health emergencies, like the contamination of romaine lettuce with e. coli, CDC scientists providing such Epidemiologic Assistance — or “Epi Aid” — reports have always given clear, direct instructions for what growers and retailers needed to do.

    But the agency’s recommendations to Smithfield, where 1,294 workers were infected and four workers died, were, as Maddow put it, “hinky.” For one thing, the report explicitly said the recommendations weren’t mandatory, no heavens no. And each recommended action to reduce chances of infection was couched in language that gave the company an excuse to opt out: “Consider the following actions …” “If feasible, all employees should wear the face covering …” Employees’ face masks should “cover their nose and mouth if possible,” and should be “discarded and replaced when dirty or wet, if possible.”

    Ultimately, OSHA fined the company a whopping $13,494 for endangering employees’ health. That’s not a typo, that’s the maximum allowed by law. Gosh, we can see why Republicans want companies to be protected from lawsuits — the regulatory agencies are clearly bleeding them dry.

    […] That one had all the “do it if feasible / possible / you wanna” language, as well as this explicit invitation to blow off the recommendations, right at the end of the first paragraph: “These recommendations are discretionary and not required or mandated by CDC.” And that’s how clear declarative sentences became, as Maddow said, “all pudding mouthed.” Some samples!

    [Original] The employee distributing face masks should be following appropriate social distancing and wearing appropriate PPE (gloves) and facial covering.

    [Revision] The employee distributing face masks should be following appropriate social distancing and wearing appropriate PPE (gloves) and facial covering, if possible.

    [Original] Specifically ask employees about recent history of fever in addition to the symptoms (e.g., cough and shortness of breath) and the objective measurement of temperature.

    [Revision] If possible, specifically ask employees about recent history of fever in addition to the symptoms (e.g., cough and shortness of breath) and the objective measurement of temperature.

    And our favorite: “Employees who are ill should stay home, and not work or be allowed in the workplace” became “Employees who are ill should stay home, if possible, and not work or be allowed in the workplace.”

    And if that’s not possible, they can stay and cough as much as they need to, into their dirty wet masks that they may or may not actually have or wear.

    Maddow also found out where all this shit came from:

    Two sources familiar with the matter told us that the team on the ground was contacted by the office of the director of the CDC, contacted by Robert Redfield’s office, and told to recall their report, to take it back, and to change the language in it to remove anything that sounded like a real recommendation.

    Any “power language” had to be removed from their report. Anything that made it seem like the meat company actually had to do something.

    Maddow asked, “How can you stay the CDC director if that’s how you’re spending your time?” Good question! She added that congressional investigators have been told that Redfield had a meeting with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on the day the order came to alter the report.

    Maddow said she wasn’t all that surprised that the Trump administration has interfered with the CDC in other areas, like weakening the CDC’s guidance on who should be tested for the coronavirus, and this week’s bizarre removal of language on the CDC website saying it’s possible the virus is spread through airborne transmission, not just droplets from a sneezing MAGA rallygoer. That’s what this administration does. It’s bad for science and bad for America.

    But to know that Robert Redfield went along with a White House demand to water down CDC recommendations in the middle of an outbreak, that’s more than we should have to put up with.

    I know that the Trump administration would do that. […] What I don’t expect is that the director of the CDC, his office, would actually give the order, would actually participate in the degrading of that agency and having its scientific work undercut, and its reputation and its authority torn up like this. That’s not just terrible, that’s intolerable.

    Yep, pretty much. As of yet, the chief result of Maddow’s reporting is that Dr. Redfield’s Twitter posts on mask wearing and where to find information on staying safe at work (ow!) are full of calls for him to resign.


  111. says

    From Wonkette:

    The National Rifle Association, never an organization to shy away from controversy, rampant stupidity, or sheer ghoulishness, offered some thoughts on rising sales of guns and ammunition yesterday. Now, some people might be “concerned” about panic buying of guns and ammo during the run-up to a national election (and in the midst of paranoid rightwing rumors about antifa supersoldiers everywhere, not to mention a pandemic). But not America’s gun lobby! Gunhumper Central even made up a cool new nickname for ammunition!

    FREEDOM SEEDS! We’ll definitely have to make use of that the next time a Responsible Gun Owner exercises their cherished Second Amendment rights by spraying a school, concert, traffic circle, or other location with high-velocity rounds designed to do maximal damage to whatever they hit […]


    From Winchester Ammunition:

    We’re sorry to hear you’re having trouble. Winchester continues to crank out ammo on a daily basis and our manufacturing is working as quickly and safely as possible to increase production. We assure you we’re focused on getting dealers back in stock so you can get what you need.

  112. says

    More overt threats from Trump: to election integrity and to the peaceful transfer of power.

    […] During a White House briefing, Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power should he lose the November election, instead once again sowing doubt about the security of mail-in ballots.

    “We’re going to have to see what happens, you know, but I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots. The ballots are a disaster,” Trump said, when asked if he would commit to making sure there is a peaceful transition of power.

    Pressed on the question, Trump said there would be no need for a transition of power without mail-in ballots.

    “Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation,” Trump said. “The ballots are out of control. You know it, and you know who knows it better than anyone else? The Democrats know it better than anyone else.”

    The president has repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims that mail-in ballots lead to mass voter fraud, despite experts saying there is no evidence of meaningful fraud in vote by mail.

    Trump’s comments were publicly questioned by at least one member of his own party Wednesday night. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) tweeted that the peaceful transition of power is “fundamental to democracy,” without directly addressing Trump. […]


  113. says

    Follow-up to comment 116.

    Trump Refuses To Commit To Peaceful Transfer Of Power If He Loses Election To Biden

    Trump wouldn’t guarantee a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the November presidential election to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, during a press conference at the White House on Wednesday.

    When asked by Playboy’s senior White House reporter Brian Karem on whether there will be a peaceful transferral of power after the election, citing the unrest that has erupted in Louisville and many cities across the country during protests against police brutality, Trump offered a noncommittal reply.

    “Well, we’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump said.

    The President went on to gripe “very strongly about the ballots” because they are a “disaster,” as he continued waging his crusade against states expanding access to mail-in voting amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which he baselessly claims will lead to voter fraud.

    Pressed again by Karem about whether he can ensure that there’s a peaceful transferral of power if he were to lose the November election, the self-proclaimed President of “law and order” largely ignored the question by continuing his rant against mail-in voting.

    “Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation. The ballots are out of control. You know it,” Trump said. “And you know who knows it better than anybody else? Democrats know it better than anybody else.”

  114. says

    Update on Navalny:

    Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been discharged from a Berlin hospital after being treated for what scientists said was exposure to the nerve agent Novichok.

    He was discharged Tuesday night after spending 24 days in the intensive-care unit, Berlin’s Charité Hospital said Wednesday. He had been receiving treatment in the German capital since late August after falling ill while traveling in Russia.

    The hospital said doctors believed Mr. Navalny could achieve a complete recovery, but it was too early to say if he would suffer long term effects from the poisoning. […]

    Wall Street Journal link

  115. says

    The Election That Could Break America

    If the vote is close, Donald Trump could easily throw the election into chaos and subvert the result. Who will stop him?

    There is a cohort of close observers of our presidential elections, scholars and lawyers and political strategists, who find themselves in the uneasy position of intelligence analysts in the months before 9/11. As November 3 approaches, their screens are blinking red, alight with warnings that the political system does not know how to absorb. They see the obvious signs that we all see, but they also know subtle things that most of us do not. Something dangerous has hove into view, and the nation is lurching into its path.

    The danger is not merely that the 2020 election will bring discord. Those who fear something worse take turbulence and controversy for granted. The coronavirus pandemic, a reckless incumbent, a deluge of mail-in ballots, a vandalized Postal Service, a resurgent effort to suppress votes, and a trainload of lawsuits are bearing down on the nation’s creaky electoral machinery.

    Something has to give, and many things will, when the time comes for casting, canvassing, and certifying the ballots. Anything is possible, including a landslide that leaves no doubt on Election Night. But even if one side takes a commanding early lead, tabulation and litigation of the “overtime count”—millions of mail-in and provisional ballots—could keep the outcome unsettled for days or weeks.

    If we are lucky, this fraught and dysfunctional election cycle will reach a conventional stopping point in time to meet crucial deadlines in December and January. The contest will be decided with sufficient authority that the losing candidate will be forced to yield. Collectively we will have made our choice—a messy one, no doubt, but clear enough to arm the president-elect with a mandate to govern.

    As a nation, we have never failed to clear that bar. But in this election year of plague and recession and catastrophized politics, the mechanisms of decision are at meaningful risk of breaking down. Close students of election law and procedure are warning that conditions are ripe for a constitutional crisis that would leave the nation without an authoritative result. We have no fail-safe against that calamity. Thus the blinking red lights.

    “We could well see a protracted postelection struggle in the courts and the streets if the results are close,” says Richard L. Hasen, a professor at the UC Irvine School of Law and the author of a recent book called Election Meltdown. “The kind of election meltdown we could see would be much worse than 2000’s Bush v. Gore case.”

    A lot of people, including Joe Biden, the Democratic Party nominee, have mis­conceived the nature of the threat. They frame it as a concern, unthinkable for presidents past, that Trump might refuse to vacate the Oval Office if he loses. They generally conclude, as Biden has, that in that event the proper authorities “will escort him from the White House with great dispatch.”

    The worst case, however, is not that Trump rejects the election outcome. The worst case is that he uses his power to prevent a decisive outcome against him. If Trump sheds all restraint, and if his Republican allies play the parts he assigns them, he could obstruct the emergence of a legally unambiguous victory for Biden in the Electoral College and then in Congress. He could prevent the formation of consensus about whether there is any outcome at all. He could seize on that un­certainty to hold on to power.

    Trump’s state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for postelection maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states. Ambiguities in the Constitution and logic bombs in the Electoral Count Act make it possible to extend the dispute all the way to Inauguration Day, which would bring the nation to a precipice. The Twentieth Amendment is crystal clear that the president’s term in office “shall end” at noon on January 20, but two men could show up to be sworn in. One of them would arrive with all the tools and power of the presidency already in hand. […]

    That’s a shortish excerpt from a much longer article.

    Here’s a bit more, posted here because The Atlantic has a paywall and many people may not be able to access the article:

    […] Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged.

    Trump’s invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before.

    Maybe you hesitate. Is it a fact that if Trump loses, he will reject defeat, come what may? Do we know that? Technically, you feel obliged to point out, the proposition is framed in the future conditional, and prophecy is no man’s gift, and so forth. With all due respect, that is pettifoggery. We know this man. We cannot afford to pretend.

    Trump’s behavior and declared intent leave no room to suppose that he will accept the public’s verdict if the vote is going against him. He lies prodigiously—to manipulate events, to secure advantage, to dodge accountability, and to ward off injury to his pride. An election produces the perfect distillate of all those motives.

    Pathology may exert the strongest influence on Trump’s choices during the Interregnum. Well-supported arguments, some of them in this magazine, have made the case that Trump fits the diagnostic criteria for psychopathy and narcissism. Either disorder, by its medical definition, would render him all but incapable of accepting defeat.

    […] This year, with a judge no longer watching, the Republicans are recruiting 50,000 volunteers in 15 contested states to monitor polling places and challenge voters they deem suspicious-looking. Trump called in to Fox News on August 20 to tell Sean Hannity, “We’re going to have sheriffs and we’re going to have law enforcement and we’re going to have, hopefully, U.S. attorneys” to keep close watch on the polls. For the first time in decades, according to Clark, Republicans are free to combat voter fraud in “places that are run by Democrats.”

    […] Trump’s crusade against voting by mail is a strategically sound expression of his plan for the Interregnum. The president is not actually trying to prevent mail-in balloting altogether, which he has no means to do. He is discrediting the practice and starving it of resources, signaling his supporters to vote in person, and preparing the ground for post–Election Night plans to contest the results. It is the strategy of a man who expects to be outvoted and means to hobble the count.

    […] December 8 is known as the “safe harbor” deadline for appointing the 538 men and women who make up the Electoral College. The electors do not meet until six days later, December 14, but each state must appoint them by the safe-harbor date to guarantee that Congress will accept their credentials. The controlling statute says that if “any controversy or contest” remains after that, then Congress will decide which electors, if any, may cast the state’s ballots for president.

    We are accustomed to choosing electors by popular vote, but nothing in the Constitution says it has to be that way. Article II provides that each state shall appoint electors “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.” Since the late 19th century, every state has ceded the decision to its voters. Even so, the Supreme Court affirmed in Bush v. Gore that a state “can take back the power to appoint electors.” How and when a state might do so has not been tested for well over a century.

    Trump may test this. According to sources in the Republican Party at the state and national levels, the Trump campaign is discussing contingency plans to bypass election results and appoint loyal electors in battleground states where Republicans hold the legislative majority. With a justification based on claims of rampant fraud, Trump would ask state legislators to set aside the popular vote and exercise their power to choose a slate of electors directly. The longer Trump succeeds in keeping the vote count in doubt, the more pressure legislators will feel to act before the safe-harbor deadline expires. […]

    The Trump-campaign legal adviser I spoke with told me the push to appoint electors would be framed in terms of protecting the people’s will. Once committed to the position that the overtime count has been rigged, the adviser said, state lawmakers will want to judge for themselves what the voters intended. […]

  116. tomh says

    Lynna @119
    That article will give you nightmares, but I do like the scenario where there is an unbreakable deadlock and Pelosi becomes president.

  117. raven says

    Missouri’s Anti-Mask Governor and His Wife Test Positive for Coronavirus
    UH OH
    Tori B. Powell Sep. 23, 2020 4:01PM ET

    Missouri has more than 118,000 coronavirus cases and is still battling a steady increase in infections—but the governor has been an outspoken critic of mask mandates and has often chosen not to wear one in public. “You don’t need government to tell you to wear a dang mask,” he previously said. “If you want to wear a dang mask, wear a mask.”

    Another GOP idiot who didn’t believe in masks who now has Covid-19 virus.
    There are now 200,000 dead Americans and the GOP still hasn’t learned anything about pandemic viruses.

  118. says

    tomh @120, yeah, that gave me nightmares.

    My bet is that Trump and his 1000+ lawyers will look for some quasi legal way to have Trump loyalists appointed as electors to the electoral college, (and that would involve creating so much doubt around mail-in ballots that Republican-led states would be ready to appoint those electors). In the meantime, they will expect cult followers to go to the polls and harass voters of color.

    In other news, here is part of the current governing problem in a nutshell: “Among likely voters, 71% trust CDC scientists more than the Republican president, but among GOP voters specifically, 51% trust Trump over scientists.”

    It was an enjoyable moment to see the crowds at the Supreme Court for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s “lying in repose.” Those crowds honored Ginsburg, and they vociferously booed Trump and Melania. They booed and chanted “Vote him out!” relentlessly.
    ABC News link

    See also:

    See also:

    I wonder if Trump will claim that those crowds were cheering him.

  119. says

    National security leaders, including former Trump aides, back Biden

    When nearly 500 national security leaders, including 22 retired four-star military officers, urge voters to replace a president with his rival, it matters.

    In recent months, an astonishing number of retired American military leaders have stepped up in to denounce and rebuke Donald Trump — to a degree without modern precedent. The list includes four former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs, each of whom has publicly slammed the incumbent president ahead of his re-election bid.

    Today, however, the story took a step further. NBC News reported that more than 200 retired generals and admirals have collectively endorsed Joe Biden’s candidacy.

    Some of the officers who signed the letter supporting Biden had retired only in the past few years, including Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, who served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Trump before he retired in August 2019; Vice Adm. Gardner Howe, a Navy SEAL leader who also retired last year; and retired Adm. Paul Zukunft, who oversaw the Coast Guard until 2018.

    It’s an important detail: leaders like Selva worked directly under Donald Trump, who re-nominated him to his Joint Chiefs post. The Air Force veteran nevertheless wants Americans to remove the president from office, replacing him with Biden.

    He joins a surprisingly long list. NBC News’ report added that the new group of signatories features “22 retired four-star military officers, among them Navy Adm. Samuel Locklear, who oversaw all U.S. forces in the Pacific from 2012 to 2015, and Adm. Harry Ulrich, who commanded U.S. naval forces in Europe during President George W. Bush’s administration.”

    The same National Security Leaders for Biden list includes nearly 300 former national security officials and diplomats from the civilian ranks, including a Reagan-appointed CIA director (William Webster) and five former Defense secretaries (William Perry, William Cohen, Chuck Hagel, Leon Panetta, and Ash Carter), two of whom served as Republican U.S. senators.

    “The next president will inherit a nation — and a world — in turmoil,” their joint public statement reads. “The current President has demonstrated he is not equal to the enormous responsibilities of his office; he cannot rise to meet challenges large or small. Thanks to his disdainful attitude and his failures, our allies no longer trust or respect us, and our enemies no longer fear us. Climate change continues unabated, as does North Korea’s nuclear program.

    “The president has ceded influence to a Russian adversary who puts bounties on the heads of American military personnel, and his trade war against China has only harmed America’s farmers and manufacturers. The next president will have to address those challenges while struggling with an economy in a deep recession and a pandemic that has already claimed more than 200,000 of our fellow citizens. America, with 4% of the world’s population suffers with 25% of the world’s COVID-19 cases. Only FDR and Abraham Lincoln came into office facing more monumental crises than the next president.

    “Joe Biden has the character, principles, wisdom, and leadership necessary to address a world on fire. That is why Joe Biden must be the next President of the United States; why we vigorously support his election; and why we urge our fellow citizens to do the same.”

    If there’s a modern American precedent for anything like this, I’m not aware of it.

  120. tomh says

    Mary Trump Sues the President and His Siblings for Fraud
    September 24, 2020 ADAM KLASFELD

    (CN) — The president’s niece Mary Trump sued her commander-in-chief uncle and his siblings, accusing them in a blistering complaint Thursday morning of fraudulently cheating her out of her inheritance.

    “For Donald J. Trump, his sister Maryanne, and their late brother Robert, fraud was not just the family business — it was a way of life,” the 52-page complaint states.

    Mary Trump has made these allegations before in her tell-all book “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” as well as in litigation where the family fought unsuccessfully to block that book’s release.

    This is the first time that Mary Trump has leveled the claims in a lawsuit to collect damages.

    She sued her living uncle, late uncle and her aunt — Donald Trump, the estate of Robert S. Trump and Maryanne Trump Barry — in their personal capacities.

    “My father died when I was still a teenager, and my uncles Donald and Robert and aunt Maryanne were supposed to be protecting me as my trustees and fiduciaries,” Mary Trump said in a statement. “Recently, I learned that rather than protecting me, they instead betrayed me by working together in secret to steal from me, by telling lie after lie about the value of what I had inherited, and by conning me into giving everything away for a fraction of its true value. I am bringing this case to hold them accountable and to recover what is rightfully mine.”

    Mary Trump says she learned about her relatives’ alleged misconduct through a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times investigation accusing the president of making his fortune through complicated tax schemes.

  121. says

    Unemployment claims point in discouraging direction as crisis lingers

    After months of steady declines, we’ve seen several instances of late in which week-to-week jobless claims have gone up, not down.

    When it comes to weekly unemployment filings, our whole understanding of “normal” flew out the window six months ago. […] it was considered a catastrophe during the Great Recession when jobless claims topped 600,000.

    But in 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic started taking a brutal toll on the U.S. economy, Americans confronted an entirely new set of standards — to the point that it seemed like relatively good news a few weeks ago when initial jobless claims fell below 1 million for the first time since March.

    […] we’ve seen several instances of late in which week-to-week claims have gone up, the new report from the Labor Department this morning.

    In the week ending September 19, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 870,000, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 6,000 from 860,000 to 866,000. The 4-week moving average was 878,250, a decrease of 35,250 from the previous week’s revised average.

    […] the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits has topped 1 million 21 times in 26 weeks.

    All of this reinforces the fact that this is a terrible time to have halted the $600-per-week federal supplement, which expired at the end of July. Nevertheless, the lifeline is gone, unable to overcome Republican opposition. […]

    Chart available at the link.

    Coronavirus deaths in the USA topped 202,000.

  122. says

    Dr. Fauci decidedly won this round.

    […] Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, sparred Wednesday over the country’s efforts to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 and when “herd immunity” from the virus is reached. The unusually testy exchange occurred during Fauci’s testimony in front of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

    Part of [Rand Paul’s] concerns appeared to be focused on public relations. “New York had the highest death rate in the world,” Paul said during the hearing. “How can we possibly be jumping up and down and saying, ‘Oh, Governor Cuomo did a great job!'”

    The senator didn’t say who “we” are, and Fauci neither jumped up and down nor celebrated Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reminded Paul that he’s “misconstrued” relevant details — something the GOP senator has done more than once.

    Soon after, [Paul], apparently pushing the herd-immunity argument, suggested that New Yorkers have “developed enough community immunity” to beat the pandemic. Fauci was unimpressed.

    “I challenge that,” the celebrated immunologist reminded the former ophthalmologist. “You were not listening to what the director of the CDC said, that in New York, it’s about 22 percent. If you believe 22 percent is herd immunity, I believe you’re alone in that.”

    The back and forth continued, with Paul sharing his theories, and Fauci doing his best to respond to the senator’s questionable assertions.

    […] at the same Senate hearing in May, the GOP senator also seemed to take aim at epidemiological expertise, complaining, “I don’t think any of these experts are omniscient.” Paul added, “[W]e have to take with a grain of salt these experts and their prognostications.”

    In late June, the Kentuckian again questioned the judgment of experts, arguing in support of an alternative approach: “We just need more optimism.”

    […] With a record like this one, perhaps the senator should be speaking less and listening more?


  123. says

    Susan Collins is concerned:

    I do have concerns about [Trump] not committing to a peaceful transition. I don’t know what his thinking was, but we have always had a controlled transition between administrations “I’m certain it will happen again. It’s fundamental to our democracy.

    From Senator Chris Coons:

    I’ve learned in 10 years on the Foreign Relations Committee when a head of state elsewhere in the world with authoritarian tendencies tells you they intend to do something outrageous, like not accept a peaceful transition after an election, something […] Trump said yesterday, you should believe them.

    From Senator Tammy Baldwin:

    The idea that anyone would not accept that will of the people come November 3 or the days after, whatever it takes to count all the ballots, is just outrageous.

    From Hillary Clinton:

    Trump’s refusal to commit to the peaceful transfer of power is the behavior of a desperate would-be dictator who’d cling to office even if it meant destroying our democracy.

    It’s pathetic. But because he is the president, we should take his threat seriously.

    From Chuck Schumer:

    This is America. This is America. And here in America our elections are sacrosanct. The peaceful transfer of power is our lifeblood.

    From Representative Jim Jordon, a Republican doofus:

    Democrats still haven’t accepted the 2016 election results.

    They’re threatening to riot when Joe Biden loses.

    AND Hillary Clinton said Biden shouldn’t concede under any circumstances. [Bullshit. Clinton was speaking about predictions that we wouldn’t know the winner on election night because the counting of mail-in ballots would be on-going for days.]

    But President Trump is the threat? Give me a break.

    Meanwhile, Trump repeated that “these ballots are a horror show” when he spoke to the hosts of “Fox and Friends” this morning.

  124. says

    From Wonkette: “Judge Literally ENDORSED BY GOD?”

    Let’s see, where did we leave off with the story of Amy Coney Barrett, who is reportedly Donald Trump’s favorite Worst Woman On The Planet to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg? Oh yes, the Catholic Jesus club she belongs to, People of Praise, is the exact same kind of extremist Catholic/Pentecostal crossover group that inspired the Margaret Atwood novel called The Handmaid’s Tale.

    […] The creepy Christian theocratic shit with Amy Coney Barrett, who does not respect stare decisis (judicial precedent) if she thinks a case was decided wrongly, and who thinks her religious beliefs are more important than the law, does not stop with how her Catholic Jesus Scout Troop appears to share some important parallels with The Handmaid’s Tale.

    Right Wing Watch reports on a group of dominionist self-styled “prophets” who held an event this week where they declared Coney Barrett has been ANOINTED BY GOD. It was hosted by Frank Amedia, who was literally Trump’s “Christian policy adviser” in 2016 — you know, in case you were wondering if these people had a seat of the table […]

    […] ANYWAY, so Lou Engle told the online event this week about Matt Lockett’s dream and THEN HE SAID he had also personally had a dream about Amy Coney Barrett just this past Monday. So many men, having questionable dreams about Amy Coney Barrett!

    Then, RWW explains, Lou Engle did some DECREES:

    Number one, before the principalities and power, before the angelic realm, before the very throne of God, ‘Remember the name Amy Coney Barrett! Remember the name Amy Coney Barrett!’ Yes, we begin to decree it from the throne room of God! ‘Remember the name Amy Coney Barrett!’ Secondly, we’re decreeing that President Trump is the William Wilberforce for the ending of the slave trade of abortion! We decree this in Jesus’ name.

    […] If you are a very long-time reader you might remember the name “Lou Engle,” and it is because way back in 2010, in one of the first pieces we ever wrote for this here WARBLOG, we personally infiltrated one of Engle’s revivals outside St. Louis, where he told us the story of the three-story tall homosexual Jesus giant.

    No, really. The three-story tall homosexual Jesus giant. It is a real thing Engle saw in another one of his dreams. Engle explained:

    “I sent my son to San Francisco with a group of people to pray for three years. They actually had a dream. They saw a three-story homosexual man, a huge giant, and they were throwing like rocks at it and nothing would happen to it, and then suddenly the foreman rolled a scroll and it read “Jehu’s Covenantal Community,” and the giant shriveled to nothing!”

    […] It’s OK, Lou, or Lou’s son, or the group of people Lou sent to San Francisco to pray for three years (???). We all have weird dreams. Ours don’t have the three-story homosexual Jesus giant in them, though. Maybe our subconscious is just different from Lou et al’s.

    Point is, these people — who have connections with the White House — believe Amy Coney Barrett, the handmaiden, has the endorsement of God to be the Supreme Court justice to end abortion. (Which is so stupid, because abortion will never actually end, even if you ban it. Grow up, losers.)

    […] Right Wing Watch reports on some of the other things these very normal people said during their event Tuesday. Like evangelist Alan Parker:

    “Who but God would take [Ruth Bader Ginsburg] out on Rosh Hashanah?” he said. “Who but God would throw this chaos into an election, less than 40 days before the election?”

    […] Indeed, they even see a significance in the fact that God Trump is going to announce his nominee on Saturday:

    Amedia and his colleagues see a divine hand at work in reports that Trump would announce his choice to replace Ginsburg during prime time Saturday evening, which would place it during or immediately after “The Return,” a major religious-right event that organizers believe will spark a spiritual revival and put Trump back in the White House for another term. Leading national repentance for abortion is a major theme of “The Return” organizers. Parker voiced that sentiment Tuesday night. “We’ve got 40 days to get this next Supreme Court nominee confirmed,” Parker said. “We need to pray. But we need to trust the Lord. And God is doing amazing things. In fact, it now looks like he may announce it on Saturday while ‘The Return’ is going on the Washington mall. Who but God could arrange that?”

    So this is all normal.

    We’d like to end by addressing the fact that we’re seeing tut-tutting even from some liberals and progressives on how we shouldn’t criticize Amy Coney Barrett for her Catholic faith. Which is true, and if we were doing that, we’d surely admonish ourselves. What we’re criticizing is that Amy Coney Barrett is a person of a weird bugfuck version of Catholic faith who believes her religious beliefs take precedent over American law and who does not respect precedent and who straight-up wants to end Roe and impose her theocratic beliefs on everyone else.

    That is what this is about. […].


  125. says

    Update on the shooting in Louisville:

    Two Louisville police officers were shot Wednesday evening, hours after a grand jury indicted a former city police detective on three charges of wanton endangerment in the March 13 shooting that resulted in the death of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor. The officers suffered non-life-threatening injuries, the interim police chief said, and a suspect is in custody.

  126. tomh says

    Thursday, September 24, 2020
    Trump and Barr Speak At National Catholic Prayer Breakfast

    Yesterday both President Trump (in a pre-recorded address– full text) and Attorney General William Barr spoke at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, held online this year (video of entire breakfast). In his remarks, President Trump said in part:

    Today I am announcing that I will be signing the Born Alive Executive Order to ensure that all precious babies born alive, no matter their circumstances, receive the medical care that they deserve. This is our sacrosanct moral duty. We are also increasing federal funding for the neonatal research to ensure that every child has the very best chance to thrive and to grow.

    Attorney General Barr was presented the Christifideles Laici Award. In his acceptance speech (full text), he said in part:

    That crucial link between religion and liberty, so well understood at the Founding, is all too often forgotten today. In American public discourse, perhaps no concept is more misunderstood than the notion of “separation of church and state.” Militant secularists have long seized on that slogan as a facile justification for attempting to drive religion from the public square and to exclude religious people from bringing a religious perspective to bear on conversations about the common good.

    Yet as events like this one remind us, separation of church and state does not mean, and never did mean, separation of religion and civics…

    Unfortunately, in the last half century, that foundation of our free society has increasingly been under siege. Traditional morality has eroded, and secularists have often succeeded not only in eliminating religion from schools and the public square, but in replacing it with new orthodoxies that are actively hostile to religion. The consequences of this hollowing out of religion have been predictably dire….

    Wherever we are in life, it is never too late to work in the Lord’s vineyard. Our spiritual renewal, and the renewal of our national character, depend on it.

  127. says

    From John Cassidy, writing for The New Yorker:

    One thing you cannot accuse Donald Trump of is trying to disguise his nefarious intentions. For months now, legal experts and Democratic campaign officials have warned that he may reject the results of this year’s election and pronounce himself the victor regardless of the vote tally. On Tuesday, Trump virtually confirmed that this is his plan. He also indicated that rushing through the appointment of another conservative to the Supreme Court is a key element of his strategy to stay in the White House.

    Before Trump flew to Pittsburgh for a super-spreader campaign rally, a pool reporter asked the President how he reacted to Democratic claims that going ahead with the appointment of a new Justice would tear the country apart. “Oh, I don’t think so,” Trump said. “We need nine Justices. You need that. With the unsolicited millions of ballots that they’re sending, it’s a scam; it’s a hoax. Everybody knows that. And the Democrats know it better than anybody else.”

    Why does Trump always try to include “everyone” in his delusions?

    The ballots Trump was referring to are mail-in forms that many states, including key battlegrounds like Florida, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, are using this year to make it easier and safer for people to vote during the coronavirus pandemic. Surveys indicate that Democratic voters are far more likely to use mail-in ballots than are Republicans. Even though Trump himself uses an absentee ballot—a type of mail-in ballot—to vote in Florida, he has been making unfounded accusations for months about the likelihood of large-scale voter fraud. In July, he told Chris Wallace, of Fox News, “I think mail-in voting is going to rig the election. I really do.”

    […] if the election goes against him, and he’s now confirmed that he expects the Supreme Court to play a key role. In case anybody didn’t get the message from his initial remarks on Tuesday, he repeated it. “So you’re going to need nine Justices up there,” he went on. “I think it’s going to be very important. Because what they’re doing is a hoax, with the ballots. They’re sending out tens of millions of ballots, unsolicited—not where they’re being asked but unsolicited. And that’s a hoax, and you’re going to need to have nine Justices.”

    In the Trump lexicon, the word “hoax” has a particular meaning and weight. For years, he applied it to the Mueller investigation. He has also used it to disparage damaging news stories about him, including a report in The Atlantic this month about his disparaging remarks concerning fallen members of the U.S. military. In other words, it’s one of the rhetorical weapons that Trump uses to delegitimize, in the eyes of his supporters, potential threats to him. Now Trump is trying to delegitimize a Presidential election. He is doing it in plain sight, and he is dragging the Supreme Court into the mire with him. […]

    In any case, the inner workings of Trump’s mind aren’t of much consequence. As the President, what matters are his words and actions. Right now, he is launching a dangerous attack on U.S. democracy. Even as he seeks to undermine the voting process and stack the Supreme Court before Election Day, he is stepping up voter-suppression efforts aimed at minority groups that tend to vote Democratic. And despite a couple of objections from individual Republican senators, his party, the Party of Lincoln, is overwhelmingly behind him. At a White House press conference on Wednesday evening, a reporter asked Trump if he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power after the election. “We’re gonna have to see what happens,” he replied. This is how democracies decay and die.

  128. says

    Expecting, or hoping, for more resignations from Team Trump:

    After Donald Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, and called for officials to “get rid of the ballots” to help him remain in office, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) appeared on the [Rachel Maddow] show and said something that struck a chord with me.

    “This is a moment that I would say to any Republican of good conscience working in the administration: it is time for you to resign,” the California Democrat said, adding, “If you have been debating about whether you can continue to serve the country by serving this president, you can’t.”

    As part of the same interview, Schiff offered a related message to former Trump administration officials watching these events unfold:

    “I would say to those who have been on the sidelines maintaining a dignified silence who have served in the administration in the past, you cannot maintain your silence any longer. You have to maintain dignified speech now. You have to speak out. Do not wait until after the election. Do not wait until we have the chaos the president wants after the election … because if you do wait, knowing what is to come, you will share some of the burden and responsibility for that chaos that comes.”

    And this in turn got me thinking about Olivia Troye, who worked as a national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence for two years, and who also served as his top adviser on the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Last week, Troye, a lifelong Republican voter, announced her support for Joe Biden, alerting Americans to the fact that she saw — first-hand, with her own eyes, from a front-row seat — Trump’s dangerous ineptitude.

    She added she now finds it necessary to put “country over party.”

    This took no small amount of courage. Indeed, the New Yorker’s Susan Glasser spoke to Troye and wrote soon after, “In the end, this is what struck me most during my conversation with Troye: she is young, only forty-three years old, with a long career ahead of her, and she was willing to put it all on the line publicly.”

    […] What followed was predictable: White House officials began going after Troye this week, peddling claims she described as “bald-faced” lies. It’s likely, many professional opportunities — many of them lucrative — will no longer be available to her.

    All of which brings me back to Adam Schiff’s call from last night: “I would say to those who have been on the sidelines maintaining a dignified silence who have served in the administration in the past, you cannot maintain your silence any longer…. You have to speak out.”

    Or put another way, they have to show the same kind of courage Olivia Troye showed.

    To be sure, prominent voices — including former Defense Secretary James Mattis and former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly — have criticized Trump in ways that matter.

    But they could go much further. Given what we know of their perspectives, former officials like Mattis, Kelly, and former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats could explicitly alert the public to Trump’s unfitness for office. They could also endorse his major-party rival.

    It wouldn’t be easy, it would likely carry some costs, but if Olivia Troye can step up and speak out, so can every other member of the president’s team who knows he has no business remaining in the White House.

    If Trump’s campaign against his own country’s system of elections won’t spur them to action, what will?


  129. says

    Wray [FBI Director Christopher Wray] Contradicts Trump’s Baseless Claims That Mail-In Voting Leads To Fraud

    TPM link

    […] Wray said Thursday that his agency had not seen evidence of widespread voter fraud through mail-in voting — a stark contrast from […] Trump’s ongoing crusade against vote-by-mail ahead of the November election.

    “We have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise,” Wray testified before a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Thursday.

    […] Wray then doubted the possibility of fraud at the national level.

    “To change a federal election outcome by mounting that kind of fraud at scale would be a major challenge for an adversary,” Wray said, before maintaining that the FBI will continue to monitor election-related threats as the country finds itself in “uncharted new territory.”

    Wray’s testimony comes a day after [Trump] maintained his baseless argument that mail-in voting leads to voter fraud — which he floated while refusing to commit to a peaceful transferral of power if he were to lose the November election — during a press conference at the White House. […]

    Last week, Wray warned the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that Russians are deploying “very active” efforts to exert influence on the November presidential election, with a meddling campaign focused on denigrating Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

    From comments posted by readers:

    We should applaud Director Wray for his effort and urge him to continue, but it will not convince Trump to relent. After all, Donnie dreams of being declared “President for Life” and it may come to pass that the only way to disabuse him of that fantasy will be a perp-walk out of the White House in shackles.

  130. says

    $16 million contribution to help pay Florida poll tax panics Republicans into calling the FBI

    Florida Republicans always have a plan to [prevent] citizens from exercising their right to vote, and this week is no different.

    The state’s attorney general, Ashley Moody, asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI to investigate the $16 million raised by Michael Bloomberg to pay off court debts so that people who have served their felony sentences can have the right to vote that Florida voters approved in a constitutional amendment in 2018.

    Despite that constitutional amendment vote, Florida Republican lawmakers passed a law requiring the returning citizens to pay off fines and other court debts before they could vote. A district judge struck down that obvious poll tax, but an appeals court restored it. So advocates have been raising money for them, an effort that got a big boost when Bloomberg brought in $16 million. That money is intended to reenfranchise Black and Latino people who owe less than $1,500 and already registered to vote—more than 31,000 of them.

    Moody and other Republicans are hanging their complaints about the Bloomberg money on laws against paying people to vote. But the money is not going to the individuals. It’s going to pay their fines and fees so that they can vote if they so choose. Since they already registered to vote, it seems likely they will choose to do so, but the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition is not offering incentives. It’s offering help obtaining a legal right.

    Florida Republicans are terrified that the people disenfranchised by a racist criminal justice system will get the legal right so long denied them. Again and again Republicans have thrown up barriers to voting. They added a poll tax to the constitutional amendment restoring the right to vote. They went to court to protect their poll tax. And now, faced with the prospect that the poll tax will be paid for even a small fraction of the 775,000 people they’re trying to prevent from voting, Republicans are calling in the FBI on an obvious pretext, pretending like paying someone’s court debts is the same as directly paying them to vote.

    It’s ridiculous—but as we’ve seen, Republicans have rigged the system enough to get their way on a lot of ridiculous things.

  131. blf says

    Here in France, the national government rather hamfistedly introduced new restrictions to halt the spread of Covid-19 in the most-affected areas. They announced — allegedly without consulting the local officials first — in Marseille and elsewhere, that, e.g., starting Saturday for a (renewable) two week interval, all bars, restaurants, and gyms must stay closed. (There is no lockdown per se, albeit I understand that would be the next step.) The mayor of Marseille was livid and went on a rant, declaring they had (paraphrasing from memory) no confidence in the government. This in a city with essentially no remaining ICU capacity.

    As it so happens, Aix-en-Provence and other areas closely connected to Marseille are also covered by the order; this includes the seaside village I live in. From what I currently know of the immediately local situation, that’s both precautionary and proactive, rather than a reactive “shutting the gates” after ICU fills up. The village’s mayor, nonetheless, was also not too impressed, but they were much more restrained. (It should be noted Marseille’s mayor is a Green, and the local mayor is also not from President Macron’s party, so there could be some political grandstanding here.)

    I myself am ill, albeit not with Covid-19, just a cold! (Getting better. Me. The cold is leaving kicking, screaming, and radioing Alpha Centauri for help.) It’s been raining cats, dogs, and small furry pineapple-shaped bats from Alpha Centauri all week now…

  132. says

    I thought Trump would try something like this.

    The problem with Trump’s drug discount cards for seniors

    Trump’s repeatedly claimed he’s lowering prescription costs, but nearly all of those claims are false, so now he’s pushing dubious medication coupon cards.

    As part of the rollout of his faux health care plan, Donald Trump boasted yesterday that he’ll soon send $200 drug-discount cards to 33 million Medicare beneficiaries. “Nobody has seen this before,” [Trump] said. “These cards are incredible.”

    He added that the initiative, at a cost of $6.6 billion, would be paid for in part by a most-favored-nation-pricing program in which the United States will pay for medications through Medicare at the same rates as other countries.

    But that made far less sense than the president seemed to realize: the most-favored-nation-pricing program the president pointed to doesn’t yet exist, so its savings can’t pay for these medication coupons.

    This morning, Team Trump tried to clarify matters. The Wall Street Journal reported that the White House is actually planning to borrow from a Medicare trust fund for its election-season scheme […]

    Little information has been provided about how the discount-card program would be funded. Mr. Trump didn’t provide specifics about how the program would be funded or the legal authority allowing the federal government to send out the cards to seniors, prompting questions from health-policy experts. A spokesman at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees Medicare, on Thursday referred questions to the White House…. The White House declined to comment.

    The article quoted David Mitchell, the founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs Now, a bipartisan Washington-based nonprofit that aims to lower drug prices, saying, “It is not at all clear if this is legal or how the president will pay for his scheme.”

    Sure, but other than that, it’s fine.

    If the White House does intend to borrow from a Medicare trust fund, it would certainly be consistent with Team Trump’s m.o. We are, after all, talking about an administration that raided the Pentagon budget to pay for border barriers and raided the FEMA budget to pay for reduced unemployment benefits.

    Tapping Medicare money to pay for an election-season gimmick fits the pattern.

    Complicating matters, Trump has spent recent weeks claiming he lowered the cost of prescription drugs, but nearly all of those claims are demonstrably untrue. It may be contributing to the Republican’s difficulties winning over support from seniors — a voting bloc that helped propel him to victory four years ago.

    It also likely led the president to scramble to come up with something that might make him more popular. Dubious medication coupon cards appear to be the best Team Trump could do.

  133. says

    @Lynna 132
    ‘“We need nine Justices. You need that. With the unsolicited millions of ballots that they’re sending, it’s a scam; it’s a hoax. Everybody knows that. And the Democrats know it better than anybody else.”’

    “Why does Trump always try to include “everyone” in his delusions?”

    It’s part of how he makes claims and doesn’t expect to have to back them up. It’s related to what “they” say that Trump and others expect you to just agree with or waste time chasing down instead of being responsible for their own words. The “everyone” has an extra element of peer pressure maybe, like Trump’s niece (?) mentioning how he tries to make you complicit in his lies, the crowd version he’s gotten away with before.

  134. tomh says

    Florida fully lifts coronavirus restrictions on restaurants
    Marisa Fernandez

    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Friday the state will completely reopen its economy, allowing restaurants at operate full capacity and barring localities from ordering businesses to close.

    The state became one of the world’s epicenters for the virus in July, forcing DeSantis to pause its first round of reopening…

    Cities and counties would be forced to justify any localized restrictions that bring capacity below 100%.

    “We’re not closing anything going forward,” DeSantis said at a press conference…

    What could possibly go wrong with this plan?

  135. says

    blf @136, sorry to hear that you are ill. Take care.

    Bits and pieced of campaign news:

    * Former President Barack Obama announced a new round of 2020 endorsements this morning, including support for Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in Georgia’s two U.S. Senate contests. Warnock has also picked up endorsements from every Democratic member of Georgia’s congressional delegation.

    * On a related note, Matt Lieberman published a series of tweets late yesterday, insisting he would not end his Senate candidacy. This increases the likelihood that that there will be a runoff in Georgia featuring two far-right Republicans and no Democratic candidate. [Stacey Abrams had urged Matt Lieberman to withdraw from the race.]

    * A Trump campaign ad on the economy features images of a steel plant that laid off hundreds of its workers. Trump Ad Touts ‘Best’ Economy With Shot Of Struggling Steel Plant Hit By Layoffs

    […] The montage ad shows Trump in a personalized white hardhat at a U.S. Steel plant in Granite City, Illinois, in 2018.

    U.S. Steel announced in April it was laying off about 2,700 workers with a notice that was sent to as many as 6,500 employees nationwide amid the COVID-19 crisis. (Its total staff last December was 27,500). The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker idled seven of its 10 blast furnaces in the nation. U.S. Steel posted a $391 million loss in the first quarter of this year.

    The Granite City plant in Trump’s ad announced in April that it was laying off 737 workers as car companies cut back production after the coronavirus pandemic spread across the U.S. It’s unclear exactly how many workers have been let go. Last year the plant had already laid off an undisclosed number of nonunion workers. […]

    * Despite months of hysterical rhetoric about mail-in voting, Trump published a tweet yesterday urging Floridians to vote by mail. Similarly, Kimberly Guilfoyle and Lara Trump have recorded robocalls, encouraging Republicans to send in absentee ballots via the mail. Indifferent to irony, the Guilfoyle call accuses Democrats of trying to “scare” people “away from voting absentee.” [Face/Palm]

    * And in Florida, the Trump campaign has launched three Spanish-language ads, each featuring claims that are demonstrably false. They come on the heels of reports of “wild disinformation” from the right targeting Spanish-speaking residents of South Florida, including messages that are racist and anti-Semitic.

  136. says

    Brony @138:

    The “everyone” has an extra element of peer pressure maybe, like Trump’s niece (?) mentioning how he tries to make you complicit in his lies, the crowd version he’s gotten away with before.

    Good point. I think you can hear the reporter say in the background that, no, he doesn’t know. He doesn’t want to be part of Trump’s “everyone.”

    tomh @140, Yikes! Don’t travel to Florida for a vacation.

    In other news, Trump has gotten weirder lately with his claims about conspiracies surrounding the development and deployment of a coronavirus vaccine.

    […] Last week [Trump] insisted that a vaccine could be ready in as little as three weeks, which was difficult to take seriously.

    Around the same time, [he] said his administration could distribute 100 million vaccine doses before the end of the year, which wildly contradicted his administration’s estimates. Trump went on to boast that there would be enough doses to vaccinate every American by April, which was also badly at odds with the estimates from experts on his own team.

    But last night, [Trump’s] thinking on vaccines took an even more unsettling turn when he suggested nefarious opponents are deliberately delaying the development of a vaccine as part of an election-season scheme. The Daily Beast noted:

    Speaking to supporters during a campaign rally in Jacksonville, Florida, he said, “We will have a vaccine so soon, you won’t even believe it, although they are trying to do a little bit of a political hit. ‘Let’s delay the vaccine just a little bit.’ Did you notice that?”

    […] he was probably referring to the FDA’s new standards for emergency authorization of a coronavirus vaccine. In the interest of public safety and public confidence, the FDA made clear that its standards would be stringent.

    A day later, Trump said he might reject the FDA’s tougher vaccine guidelines, and then last night, [he] pointed to an unspecified “they” trying to execute “a little bit of a political hit” against him.

    Because in the president’s mind, the FDA applying high standards to a vaccine must be part of an election scheme.

    As bizarre as this was to hear, there can be no doubt that Trump sees practically every aspect of the coronavirus pandemic through a conspiratorial lens. Indeed, this comes a month after he tweeted about a possible “deep state” conspiracy at the FDA trying to hurt his re-election campaign.

    Trump also thinks China conspired against him. And governors have conspired against him. And congressional Democrats have conspired against him. As the president sees it, even the COVID-19 death toll may be part of a conspiracy.

    Reality tells a different story, but the Conspiracy Theorist in Chief can’t seem to shake his worldview.


  137. says

    Follow-up to comment 134.

    The White House is taking some swipes at FBI Director Christopher Wray:

    […] [Wray’s] testimony was entirely in line with everything we know about election threats, the White House clearly was not pleased with Wray having told the truth. TPM noted this morning:

    White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows lashed out at FBI Director Christopher Wray’s testimony to Congress in which the FBI leader rejected […] Trump’s bogus conspiracy theory that mail-in voting can and will lead to election fraud that would rig the election against him.

    “With all due respect to Director Wray, he has a hard time finding emails in his own FBI, let alone figuring out whether there’s any kind of voter fraud,” Meadows told CBS News. He added that Wray may need to “get involved on the ground” with election investigations, at which point “he would change his testimony on Capitol Hill.”

    By any fair measure, Meadows’ rebuke was foolish, but more important is the fact that it happened at all.

    Last week, Wray, whom Donald Trump tapped to lead the FBI, contradicted the White House line with accurate congressional testimony on multiple issues, including Russian efforts to intervene on Trump’s behalf in the 2020 elections.

    A week ago today, [Trump] was asked if he’s considering replacing his FBI director. Trump said he and his team are “looking at a lot of different things,” adding, in reference to Wray’s sworn testimony, “I did not like his answers yesterday, and I’m not sure he liked them either. I’m sure that he probably would agree with me.” [No, Hair Furor. He does not agree with you!]

    […] That evening, the president held a campaign rally in Minnesota, where he complained about the bureau director even more.

    What’s more, as we’ve discussed, [Trump] also recently suggested he had nothing to do with nominating his own FBI director. Asked if Wray should step down, Trump told Fox Business last month, “Let’s see how Wray turns out. He’s going to either turn out one way or the other.”

    The president has already fired one FBI director; no one should be surprised if he fires another.


  138. says

    Lindsey Graham’s promises are not worth a damn.

    The problem with Lindsey Graham’s new ‘promise’ about 2020 results

    Lindsey Graham committed to honor a hypothetical ruling from a conservative Supreme Court, not an election result. They’re not the same thing.

    One day after Donald Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power in the event of an election defeat, several congressional Republicans carefully defended American principles, while failing to criticize [Trump] by name.

    But Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) pushed a line that was a little different.

    “People wonder about the peaceful transfer of power. I can assure you, it will be peaceful…. I promise you as a Republican, [LOL!] if the Supreme Court decides that Joe Biden wins, I will accept the result. The court will decide, and if Republicans lose, we’ll accept the result.”

    […] We are talking about a Senate Republican who twice delivered a solemn vow not to advance a Supreme Court nominee during an election, right up until Graham decided he didn’t want to honor his word anymore. This betrayal didn’t happen decades ago; it occurred this week.

    […] he may not appreciate the degree to which he’s set his credibility on fire.

    […] Graham’s latest vow is terribly problematic in ways that may matter quite a bit. In his comments, delivered on Fox News, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee didn’t say he’d accept the will of the voters; he said he’d accept the will of the Supreme Court.

    Except, as Graham probably ought to know, that’s not how elections are supposed to be decided in the United States. Indeed, the idea of a high court — with six Republican-appointed justices, three chosen by Trump himself — overruling the will of the American electorate is terrifying.

    […] He appears to take it as a given that Donald Trump will fall short, challenge the results, and turn to the federal judiciary as part of a bid to stay in power […]

    There was some suggestion that Graham was distancing himself from Trump’s rhetoric by emphasizing his commitment to a peaceful transition. [Bullshit]

  139. says

    After promising to unveil a health care plan, Trump delivers a joke

    Ten weeks after promising he’d sign a “full and complete” health care plan, the emperor with no clothes made clear he’s the president with no plan.

    During his remarks on health care policy yesterday, Donald Trump used the word “plan” 39 times. Indeed, the point of the president’s plan was to ostensibly unveil a new governing blueprint, which the White House has labeled the “America First Health Care Plan.” [LOL!]

    The problem, however, is that there’s still no actual plan. What Trump unveiled are two executive orders that literally don’t do anything.

    […] preventing surprise billing is a worthwhile goal with bipartisan support, but to address the issue, policymakers will need legislative solutions, not a hollow press release from the White House with no force of law.

    Similarly, protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions is clearly worthwhile, but (a) Trump signing an executive order to create a benefit that already exists in the Affordable Care Act is ridiculous; and (b) the president is currently fighting to take these protections away through a case at the Supreme Court.

    This isn’t governing; this is a joke masquerading as policy.

    At one point during his event in North Carolina yesterday, [Trump] declared, “The historic action I’m taking today includes the first-ever executive order to affirm it is the official policy of the United States government to protect patients with pre-existing conditions. This is affirmed, signed, and done so we can put that to rest.” [Loads of bullshit.]

    Except, that’s not how reality works. I could sign an executive order to affirm that it is the official policy of my household that I have a full head of hair, but it wouldn’t magically fill in my bald spot. Similarly, Trump can’t simply assert a health care benefit by decree. If that were an option, other presidents would’ve taken such a step years ago.

    Americans need to realize that if the Republican Party’s lawsuit succeeds in tearing down the nation’s health care system, the protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions will disappear. The president’s executive order on the matter will have literally no value or meaning. It wouldn’t put the matter “to rest”; it would do the exact opposite.

    The HuffPost’s Jeffrey Young had a terrific summary of yesterday’s unveiling, explaining that [Trump] “really, really wants to fool voters into thinking he has a plan to make the health care system great again. But he really, really doesn’t.”

    Slogans, lies and exaggerations aren’t policies. Trump pitched his phantom plan by saying it rests on three pillars: “more choice,” “lower costs,” and “better care,” and that it would “put patients first.” Those focus-group-tested slogans sound great! Except they’re hogwash. The truth is that, like in so many other areas, Trump doesn’t want to do the work. […]

    the whole point of yesterday’s event was to unveil a plan that, in reality, does not exist.

    […] since Trump, his party, and his appointed Supreme Court justices may soon destroy their own country’s health care system, the fact that the president still isn’t prepared to do any actual work on health care policy makes it much more likely that millions of American families will suffer devastating consequences.

    And third, in the days, weeks, months, and years leading up to yesterday’s event, Trump and his team assured us that the imaginary plan is quite real. As regular readers know, the Republican has spent literally years telling Americans he has a terrific health care plan, which will deliver better results at a lower cost, and this reform miracle is nearly ready for its unveiling.

    […] as recently as last week, the president went so far as to boast, in reference to his non-existent health care plan, “I have it all ready. I have it all ready…. I have it all ready.” The president used similar rhetoric two months ago, promising Fox News he’d “sign” a “full and complete” health care plan “within two weeks.”

    Ten weeks later, the emperor with no clothes effectively confessed that he’s the president with no plan.

    Trump is a con artist.

  140. blf says

    Trump cuts aid for pro-democracy groups in Belarus, Hong Kong and Iran:

    Open Technology Fund, which helped activists evade state surveillance and sidestep web censorship, sees $20m grant pulled

    The Trump administration has stopped vital technical assistance to pro-democracy groups in Belarus, Hong Kong and Iran, which had helped activists evade state surveillance and sidestep internet censorship.

    The Open Technology Fund (OTF) has had to stop all its operations in Belarus, and many of its activities supporting civil society in Hong Kong and Iran, because a congressionally-mandated grant of nearly $20m has been withheld by a new Trump appointee, Michael Pack.

    Figures. The VoA, etc., vandal. “You shall only listen to approved sources!”

    The OTF is a small non-profit organisation that develops technologies for evading cyber-surveillance and for circumventing internet and radio blackouts imposed by authoritarian regimes. It provides daily help to pro-democracy movements in installing and maintaining them, with the aim of staying at least one step ahead of the state.

    The chair of the OTF board, Karen Kornbluh, said the end of funding from the US Agency for Global Media (USAGM), which Pack has been running since June, would mean that activists living under repressive regimes were at increased risk.


    She added the freeze also meant that the populations in those countries will find it harder to listen to the Voice of America, the USAGM’s flagship broadcaster, and USAGM-funded stations like Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia, because it would be more difficult to overcome state jamming methods.

    “We have these agencies and we’re kneecapping them,” said Kornbluh, a former US ambassador and now director of the digital innovation and democracy initiative at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

    Pack had agreed over a month ago to appear before the House foreign affairs committee on Thursday, but cancelled with a few days notice and then ignored a committee subpoena to attend.

    Since taking over USAGM in June, Pack — an ally of the rightwing ideologue and former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon — purged all the top management and boards of the broadcasters under its control, froze spending, and elevated the profile of pro-administration comment in relation to news.

    Kornbluh and former USAGM officials testifying before the foreign affairs committee described a climate of chaos and creeping authoritarianism at the agency that was sapping the credibility of VOA, RFE/RL and other US broadcasters, with consequences for US national security.

    They also said Pack was endangering journalists by refusing to renew the visas for foreign journalists working for VOA, leading to their deportation, potentially to countries where they could be at risk.

    In some cases, the management has intervened with US immigration and citizenship services to prevent the journalists from securing other visas, and even bought unsolicited tickets home for VOA reporters.

    “They want to demonstrate that as many people as possible are returning back to their countries,” one of the affected VOA journalists said. “I feel like we serve his purpose of America First, foreigners out, media are bad. I would never expect that from a democracy.”

    Pack claimed to have an administrative meeting on Thursday which meant he could not attend the congressional hearing, but the committee chair, Eliot Engel, noted that the USAGM meeting appeared to have been called long after Pack first agreed to appear in Congress.


    Last month, OTF took USAGM to court, resulting in the reinstatement of Kornbluh and its president Laura Cunningham, who Pack had sought to purge, but the congressionally-approved funds have still not been unblocked.

    Witnesses at Thursday’s hearing said Pack’s motives for hollowing out the agency were unclear. The USAGM did not respond to a request for comment.

    [… his insulting “journalists are spies” comment…]

    Grant Turner, the former chief financial officer and acting USAGM CEO said that Pack’s funding freeze had created chaos. At one point, he said there was no money in the agency headquarters to buy toilet roll.

    “Nothing in my 17 years {of government experience} comes even close to the gross mismanagement, the abuse of authority, the violations of law, that have occurred since Michael Pack assumed the role of CEO at USAGM,” Turner told the committee.

  141. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    According to ABC News, Bill Barr personally briefed President Trump on its investigation into those ballots in PA before sending out that dodgy press release that our team has been reporting on. […] It does not get more transparent than this: using the DOJ as an adjunct not only of the President’s reelection campaign but his attacks on the integrity of the election itself.

    More details, from Kate Riga, “DOJ’s Weird Obsession With 9 Ballots In Pennsylvania Gets A Bit Weirder”:

    A federal prosecutor did little to lift the pall of suspicion on a case involving nine allegedly mishandled military ballots in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, though he seemed to acknowledge that the incident stemmed from a mistake rather than a deliberate scheme.

    A letter late Thursday from U.S. Attorney David Freed to a local election official left many questions about the matter unanswered. Still, in the vein of his bizarre press release earlier in the day, he let linger implications of some malicious intent without including any details of possible criminal activity.

    “The preliminary findings of this inquiry are troubling and the Luzerne County Bureau of Elections must comply with all applicable state and federal election laws and guidance to ensure that all votes—regardless of party—are counted to ensure an accurate election count,” Freed said in the letter.

    The situation blew up on Thursday when Freed’s office in the Middle District of Pennsylvania issued the highly unusual press release revealing the pending investigation and releasing selective details, like that all nine ballots were cast for President Donald Trump. A second press release corrected that only seven of the ballots were known to be cast for him.

    Former Department of Justice officials immediately decried the release of partial information so early in the investigation, especially so close to the election.

    Freed’s letter seemed to offer a relatively benign explanation for what had happened, though the overall tone of the letter was still one of alarm and suspicion.

    “It was explained to investigators the envelopes used for official overseas, military, absentee and mail-in ballot requests are so similar, that the staff believed that adhering to the protocol of preserving envelopes unopened would cause them to miss such ballot requests,”Freed said.

    Due to a court delay in determining whether the Green Party candidate qualified to be on the ballot, some Pennsylvania counties are still finishing finalizing their ballots to mail, so it’s unclear how ballots could have been returned already. However, there are special considerations for military ballots which could be at play here. The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act mandates that absentee ballots be sent out 45 days before the election.

    Luzerne County did not immediately respond to questions about when the military ballots were mailed this year. Members of the military can also use Federal Write-In Absentee Ballots (FWAB) if there isn’t enough time for them to receive and send back an absentee ballot before the election. Notably, those write-in ballots are usually considered backups, and are not counted if the official absentee ballot does end up arriving on time.

    It’s not clear whether FWABs were involved in the alleged incident in Luzerne County.

    The suspicions aroused by Freed’s initial press release set MAGA world ablaze, with a Trump campaign official firing off a now-deleted tweet about “100%” of the ballots being cast for [Trump] adding that the incident is proof that Democrats are trying to “steal the election.”

    The White House team hopped aboard the indignation train. “EVERY vote matters. 9 military votes MATTER. Call me old fashioned: but I believe those willing to serve our nation in uniform especially deserve to have their vote counted accurately.”

    “This is an ongoing investigation where there is no public interest reason to override the usual policy of not commenting – and especially not to say for whom the ballots were cast,” tweeted Matt Miller, a former spokesman for the DOJ during the Obama administration. “An unprecedented in kind contribution to the president’s campaign.”

    […] Trump gleefully amplified the situation on Thursday, which neatly fits into his constant, baseless claims that mail-in voting is unreliable and rife with fraud.

    “These ballots are a horror show,” he told Fox News host Brian Kilmeade on his radio show. “They found six ballots in an office yesterday in a garbage can.They were Trump ballots — eight ballots in an office yesterday in — but in a certain state and they were — they had Trump written on it, and they were thrown in a garbage can.”

    It’s still unclear what happened with the “discarded” ballots, and why some of the materials were found in an outside dumpster. In Pennsylvania, no ballots are to be opened until 7 a.m. on Election Day.

    Shelby Watchilla, the director of elections for Luzerne County, reportedly discovered the ballots last week and immediately reported them to the authorities. Luzerne County district attorney Stefanie Salavantis called in Freed to investigate. Salvantis serves on the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice, a group led by Attorney General Bill Barr.


  142. says

    @142 And then there’s the bad “they”. There’s a good “they” and a bad “they” and Trump and other abusive liars don’t have to tell you who “they” are. “You know who they are!” works for Trump, people are still too deferential to demand “them”. Trumpkins will will try to make you look like the lazy and use other ways to shift the burden of proof. It looks explicitly like the R in DARVO to me now.

  143. blf says

    Donald Trump’s plot against democracy could break America apart:

    Even some conservatives fear a power grab might trigger the disintegration of the US. It’s happened to superpowers before

    We know that US democracy is on the line this November, but what about the United States itself? Is it possible that not only America’s democratic health hangs in the balance, but the very integrity of the country?

    Such talk sounds hyperbolic, but start with the danger to the US democratic system that becomes more clear and present each day. This week Donald Trump was asked if he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power in the event of his defeat. His reply: Well, we’re going to have to see what happens.

    Later the White House clarified that of course the president [sic] would accept the results of a free and fair election. But that formulation contained an implied caveat: what if he decides that the election was not “free and fair”? After all, Trump has said repeatedly that if Joe Biden wins, that can only mean that the election was rigged.

    How this might unfold was laid out this week in a chilling essay by Barton Gellman in the Atlantic headlined The Election That Could Break America. Many of the dangers are by now familiar. Aware that polls show them unable to win a straight contest, Republicans are already working hard to un-level the playing field. They have purged electoral rolls of likely Democratic voters. They have hobbled the Post Office, to prevent mail-in ballots […] arriving in time.

    Once the polls close, Team Trump will claim only the in-person votes, tallied on election night […] should qualify. They will try to stop the votes being counted, whether by lawsuit or by physical disruption (a tactic deployed successfully in the infamous Florida recount of 2000). As Gellman argues, it’s not just that Trump will refuse to concede defeat: he’ll use all the power at his disposal to “obstruct the emergence of a legally unambiguous victory for Biden”, even to “prevent the formation of a consensus about whether there is any outcome at all”.

    There is one trick up Republican sleeves so outrageous that no one had even contemplated it until now. […] Republicans control the legislatures in the six most hotly fought battleground states. If they declare that the official vote tally showing Biden the winner is unreliable — on the grounds that, as Trump says, all postal votes are suspect — there is nothing to stop them choosing a slate of pro-Trump electors instead, claiming this reflects the true will of the people of their state.

    It sounds like a Lukashenko manoeuvre, a coup against democracy – and that’s exactly what it would be. And yet there are Republican party officials talking on the record of how they are contemplating that very move.

    Ah, but surely the supreme court would never allow such a thing. And yet, as of last week, there is a vacancy on that court. Trump plans to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg at speed, aiming to seat his own handpicked judge in time to settle any election-related cases in his favour. That too he says out loud. Again, the Belarusian reek is unmistakable.

    The trouble is, Democrats are all but powerless to stop a president and a party that has no shame in smashing through every democratic guardrail regardless of the hypocrisy […]

    […] What will the US’s increasingly progressive majority do if Republican state officials reinstall Trump in the White House, in defiance of the voters? […]

    […] Gary Gerstle, professor of American history at Cambridge University, says he’s found himself reading about countries that once had democracy but lost it — and that he’s doing that “to understand the future of America”.

    He wonders if progressive, “blue” states might increasingly go their own way — flexing their right to deviate from the federal government, as branches of it move ever further out of democratic reach. As we spoke, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he will not accept any federally approved Covid vaccine for his state until New York experts have tested it first. That, says Gerstle, could be a harbinger of things to come, including perhaps a revival of the pre-civil-war concept of “nullification”, whereby dissenting states declare decisions made in Washington null and void. It would be a historic turnaround for the American left […].

    In a new book, Divided We Fall, the conservative writer David French raises the once-taboo question of “America’s secession threat” – imagining, for example, a “Calexit” as California leads a breakaway of liberal western states after a rightwing supreme court has struck down a California law to curb guns. Since Ginsburg’s death, that reads less like dystopian fiction than a forecast.

    Such talk might seem fanciful. Yet there was probably a similar reaction to Andrei Amalrik’s 1970 essay Will the Soviet Union Survive Until 1984?. At the time, it must have sounded absurd: of course the USSR was here to stay. But Amalrik was not far off. Twenty-one years after he had asked the question, a once mighty superpower lay in pieces. Oceans rise, empires fall – and even America is not immune.

  144. says

    blf @146, more corruption! Team Trump is steeped in corruption. And not just corruption, but outright criminality, as in “Pack was endangering journalists.”

    Follow-up to comment 147. Comment posted by readers of the article:

    “DeJoy and the U.S.Postal Service presented the excuse in a response filed Wednesday to a nationwide order issued by U.S. District Judge Stanley Bastian in Yakima, Washington, last week demanding the return of some 700 machines that had been taken out of service.

    “Dismantled machines ‘are generally dissembled for their usable parts, with such parts being removed to maintain or enhance other machines,’” DeJoy, a loyalist and major contributor to […] Trump’s campaign, stated in his response. “It is therefore not possible to return such machines to service.”

    But witnesses reported that many of the expensive machines were quickly dismantled and tossed into dumpsters as scrap. The injunction noted that 72% of the ripped out machines were in counties Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential election.”
    Bottom line: Elections staff mistakenly opened some overseas military ballots because the envelopes look the same as the envelopes used for mail-in ballot requests. And all the mistakenly opened ballot envelopes were preserved so they could be counted.
    Military ballots by law have to go out 45 days before the election. These also could be FVAP ballots, which are more generic federal ballots that folks overseas can use to at least vote on those elections if they can’t/don’t get their state one in time.
    It seems pretty simple: use the DOJ to introduce bullshit into the media ecosystem, where it can then be ginned up into a full episode of Hannity. This is how the right-wing works, and has for years. Look for more of this crap in the next weeks.

  145. says

    Humor/satire from Borowitz, writing for The New Yorker:

    WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report 2)—As Donald J. Trump refuses to commit to a peaceful transfer of power in January, former President Barack Obama suggested that cancelling the White House’s cable-TV account could induce the President to leave.

    “This is a man who enjoys watching television,” Obama told reporters. “What if, on Inauguration Day, he picks up the remote and nothing comes on?”

    “This seems like the most peaceful way to get him to go,” Obama said.

    Obama also said that, in order to avoid a constitutional crisis, the White House’s supply of Diet Coke could also be cut off, but added, “I don’t think it will come to that.”

    “Once it dawns on him that there’s no cable, his days will stretch out before him in a vista of emptiness,” Obama said. “No ‘Fox & Friends.’ No Tucker Carlson . And no Shark Week.”

    “He’ll be on the next helicopter out,” Obama predicted.

  146. says

    Report: Pentagon Brass Privately Discussing What To Do If Trump Invokes Insurrection Act

    TPM link

    Top military brass have spoken privately about what to do should […] Trump order them into the streets as election results are tallied, The New York Times reported Friday.

    Trump has repeatedly said that the only way he’ll lose his reelection campaign is if the election is fraudulent, raising concerns that he’ll challenge a losing result and potentially refuse to leave office.

    Unnamed senior Pentagon officials have spoken among themselves, the Times reported, about what to do should Trump invoke the Insurrection Act sometime after Election Day. The law provides for the use of the military on American soil, and Trump has threatened to use it before, to suppress racial justice protests earlier this year.

    […] Per the paper, such a move may cause resignations among military leadership, including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley. […]

    “In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. military,” Milley said. “I foresee no role for the U.S armed forces in this process.”

    At least one Trump ally, Roger Stone, whose prison sentence was also commuted by Trump in July, has suggested that the President could invoke the Insurrection Act in response to the election. He also said the President should send federal forces to seize ballots in Nevada, a crucial state that this year has decided to send every active registered voter a mail-in ballot […]

  147. blf says

    Brony@148, I originally read DAVRO as Davros. Which kind-of made sense, since hair furor’s “government” is a dalekocrazy (an originally-accidental misspelling of dalekocracy, “rule by Daleks”), with the “top” “officials” being wannabe-daleks.

  148. says

    Follow-up to comment 152.

    From comments posted by readers:

    Resignation by theJCoS would be a disservice to the nation as it would just allow Trump to install others to do his bidding. They should publicly refuse to obey an illegal order and order troops not to follow those directions.
    The Joint Chiefs of Staff should have their phones ready to live stream a training video on “How to Defy an Illegal Order.”
    The U.S. Military swears an oath to the Constitution, not the President. Following an order to interfere with an election would be the coup.
    A strategically thinking foreign adversary may take this opportunity of utter US chaos (thanks to the Orange One) to launch an attack. I’m not talking Chinese or Russian warships off our coast, but a cyber attack or something just as sinister to further disrupt our country.
    enlisted soldiers and NCOs don’t have much choice. But the generals and other top officers are in a different category and have more leeway. They’re not going to get dragged to the brig or summarily shot on that asshole’s orders. WILL NOT HAPPEN.
    The recent event where Esper danced around trump’s desire to have the 82nd airborne deployed against American civilians by instead stationing them outside of Washington DC on standby to placate him is an example of the military’s reluctance to accommodate trump’s worst instincts.

    It would be naive to just assume in an election worst case scenario the military would come to the rescue, but I would say military leaders resisting a power grab is the most likely resolution if that should ever come to pass.

  149. says

    RBG’s Trainer Does Push-Ups In Her Honor Next To Her Casket

    The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s personal trainer, Bryant Johnson, paid his respects by doing push-ups beside her casket as she was laid to rest in state at the Capitol.

    Johnson, an Army veteran who is perhaps best known as Ginsburg’s former trainer, dropped to his knees before doing a series of three push-ups before Ginsburg’s flag-draped casket at the Capitol’s Statuary Hall on Friday.

    Johnson said in March that come what may, Ginsburg had not stopped her famed workout routines even amid the coronavirus pandemic.

    In 2018, Ginsburg appeared alongside Stephen Colbert, doing more than 30 push-ups with the host on his show, Johnson told The New York Times.

    Outlined in Johnson’s book, “The RBG Workout,” the late Supreme Court justice’s sweat sessions often tuned to “PBS NewsHour,” included “full-strength planks, push-ups, chest and shoulder presses, bicep and leg curls, one-legged squats and knee raises,” Johnson said.

    Ginsburg continued her famous workouts amid multiple bouts of cancer — first beginning her training with Johnson after a battle with colon cancer in 1999 and continuing their sessions together for more than 20 years.

    Last October, Ginsburg said she had also maintained her workouts after she was treated for a malignant tumor on her pancreas in Aug. 2019.

    “Even in my lowest periods I couldn’t do very much, but I did what I can,” Ginsburg said at an event at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law. […]


    Video at the link.

  150. says

    Another defeat in the courts for Trump: “Trump admin again loses on census, ordered by court to continue count through end of October.”

    A federal judge in California has for now blocked the Trump administration’s blatantly political attempt to shut down the 2020 census count a month early, […] as well as stopped officials’ attempt to rush completed population numbers to impeached president Donald Trump by the end of the year.

    “Under the Court’s Order, the census count will continue through Oct. 31, as the Census Bureau had earlier planned,” Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law said following the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruling, “and its data processing will continue under a timeline that allows for a full, fair and accurate overall tabulation and reporting of the total population to the President.” The administration is expected to fight the order. Because of course.

    The decision as it stands is a victory in this fight against the administration’s glaring sabotaging of the census, which has gone as far as throwing its own officials under the bus in order to rush the count. “The plaintiffs sought to stop the Trump administration’s plan to force the Census Bureau to shorten the 2020 count against the judgment of the bureau’s own expert staff,” Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law continued, “and in the middle of a pandemic.”

    […] This is the second census-related loss the administration has seen in recent days. Earlier this month, a three-judge panel in New York, including two judges appointed by Republican presidents, blocked Trump’s unconstitutional and discriminatory order seeking to erase undocumented immigrants from the 2020 census, calling the demand “an unlawful exercise of the authority granted to the President.”

    Combined with the impeached president’s attacks on mail voting, “these two moves represent a twin attack on American democracy by making it perilous for voters to vote safely from home this fall, and by undermining the foundations of political representation through a whitewashed redistricting and reapportionment process,” Daily Kos’ Stephen Wolf wrote in July. The administration is likely to appeal this latest court ruling, the NYT noted. I don’t know what’ll happen next as litigation continues to play out, but I can ask you to take the census right now if you haven’t done so already. […]


  151. says

    Google will temporarily stop running political ads after Election Day to avoid premature claims that one candidate has won, the company confirmed Friday.

  152. says

    Watchdog confirms State Dept. canceled award for journalist who criticized Trump

    The State Department’s internal watchdog confirmed that the Trump administration rescinded an award from a Finnish journalist after discovering she had criticized [Trump] in social media posts.

    The State Department initially told journalist Jessikka Aro that she would receive the International Women of Courage Award (IWOC), but plans were later revised.

    The watchdog report from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) notes Aro’s remarks about [Trump] concerned some senior U.S. officials and prompted a withdrawal from her receiving the award due to a possible public relations dilemma.

    […] Menendez and seven other senators including Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) requested the investigation into rescinding Aro’s award.

    Aro was selected for the honorable award for her reporting on Russian propaganda activities dating to 2014 […] She was informed of her selection and offered flight options before the award selection was rescinded.

    “Trump constantly labels journalists as ‘enemy’ and ‘fake news,'” she said on social media in 2018, according to the report. [Well, that’s factual.]

    […] “Every person OIG interviewed in connection with this matter acknowledged” that had her posts not been flagged, “Ms. Aro would have received the IWOC Award,” the report said.

    Before her award’s recension, Aro’s name was included as an awardee in a memo that was approved by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the report added.

    The report’s findings could dampen already shaky tensions between the department’s leadership and the OIG following the firing of Inspector General Steve Linick this spring at Pompeo’s request. […]

  153. says

    From Wonkette: Judge, Fox Lawyers Agree: No ‘Reasonable Person’ Would Believe Tucker Carlson.

    Tucker Carlson lies about people with great regularity[…] He makes up all kinds of bizarre motives for everything anyone on the Left does […] on one day, in December of 2018, he accused former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal of attempting to extort poor Donald Trump, which would have been an actual crime, if true.

    McDougal was one of the women who, at great cost to her own reputation, attempted to come forward about having had an affair with Donald Trump back before the 2016 election. As with Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels), Michael Cohen and the parent company of the National Enquirer, American Media Inc., paid her $150,000 for “exclusive rights” to her story, which they then never published anything about because it was actually a “catch and kill” scheme to keep her quiet in order to help Trump’s campaign.

    In Tucker Carlson’s interpretation of things, it was an “undisputed” fact that Clifford and McDougal approached Trump and said they would humiliate him and his whole family and just ruin his life if he didn’t give them money — and then he arranged to have these total strangers paid off, out of the goodness of his heart or something.

    Specifically, Carlson said:

    Remember the facts of the story, these are undisputed. Two women [one of whom was McDougal] approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn’t give them money. Now that sounds like a classic case of extortion.

    Yet for whatever reason, Trump caves to it, and he directs Michael Cohen to pay the ransom. Now, more than two years later, Trump is a felon for doing this. It doesn’t seem to make any sense. Oh, but you’re not a federal prosecutor on a political mission.

    If you were a federal prosecutor on a political mission, you would construe those extortion payments as campaign contributions.

    McDougal sued his ass. Or, rather, she sued Fox. Because he accused her of a crime and also of a ridiculous thing like coming to Donald Trump and saying she was going to “ruin his career and humiliate his family” if he didn’t give her money, which she says she absolutely did not do and which makes it not, in fact, “an undisputed fact” so much as it is something that happened in Tucker Carlson’s dreams.

    Alas, US District Court Judge Mary Kay Vyskocil — why yes, she is a Trump appointee — has thrown the suit out, because no “reasonable viewer” would believe anything coming out of Carlson’s mouth — a point that was actually argued by the lawyers representing Fox.

    Fox persuasively argues […] that given Mr. Carlson’s reputation, any reasonable viewer “arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of skepticism” about the statements he makes.

    Whether the Court frames Mr. Carlson’s statements as “exaggeration,” “non-literal commentary,” or simply bloviating for his audience, the conclusion remains the same—the statements are not actionable. This interpretation of the segment is bolstered by the disclaimer Mr. Carlson made at the outset of his monologue. […]

    Fox News has convincingly argued that Mr. Carlson was motivated to speak about a timely political cause and that, in this context, it is clear that his charge of “extortion” should not be interpreted as an accusation of an actual crime. Plaintiff’s interpretation of Mr. Carlson’s accusations is strained and, the Court finds, not reasonable when the entire segment is viewed in context. It is true that Mr. Carlson added color to his unsubstantiated rhetorical claim of extortion when he narrated that Ms. McDougal “approached” Mr. Trump and threatened his career and family. But this overheated rhetoric is precisely the kind of pitched commentary that one expects when tuning in to talk shows like Tucker Carlson Tonight, with pundits debating the latest political controversies.

    Holy fuck. That’s a lot of bloviating meant to excuse people for lying on Fox News.

    First of all, there are no reasonable viewers of Tucker Carlson’s show. Certainly, there are none “with an appropriate amount of skepticism” about what he says. If he says it, it is gospel and the only person allowed to override him is Trump. Second, as McDougal pointed out in her response, “I believe reporting something you know is a lie as ‘news’ or ‘undisputed facts’ is the very definition of malicious.”

    I’m not really clear on how claiming that McDougal and Clifford personally approached and threatened Trump is simply adding “color,” particularly when one claims it is an “undisputed fact.” Is Judge Vyskocil suggesting that because Tucker Carlson is given to “overheated rhetoric” and “pitched commentary” and “non-literal commentary” he can say anything is an “undisputed fact” and it’s fine? […]


  154. says

    ‘I can be silent no longer’: former intel official denounces Trump

    Robert Cardillo may not be recognized by much of the public, but his background commands respect. He served as director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He managed, edited, and delivered the President’s Daily Brief, spending hundreds of mornings in the Oval Office with different presidents. Cardillo was also a deputy on the National Security Council, spending over 1,000 hours in the White House Situation Room.

    He never registered with a political party or engaged in election activism. But Cardillo nevertheless wrote a new op-ed for the Denver Post denouncing Donald Trump, explaining why he “can be silent no longer.”

    I have briefed him up close — and I have seen and felt the effect of his faults on our nation’s security…. He has little patience for facts or data that do not comport with his personal world view. Thus, the conversations are erratic and less than fully thoughtful.

    Cardillo’s piece went on to decry Trump’s coziness with dictators, his selfishness, his denigration of military service, and his pandemic ineptitude.

    [A]s damaging as his faulty leadership has been, four more years would be devastating. We must elect a thoughtful, moral, responsible, respectful leader on Nov. 3. Our current president is not that leader.

    […] Former White House National Security Advisor John Bolton worked side by side with Trump for a year and a half, and he concluded that the president is not “fit for office.”

    Just two weeks before Bolton made this assessment, former Defense Secretary James Mattis, wrote a rather extraordinary rebuke of Trump, condemning the president for being divisive, immature, and cavalier about abusing his powers. Soon after, former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, another veteran of Team Trump, publicly endorsed Mattis’ criticisms.

    Kelly added, “I think we need to look harder at who we elect. I think we should look at people that are running for office and put them through the filter: What is their character like? What are their ethics?”

    It also wasn’t long ago when former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shared some uncomplimentary thoughts of his own about Trump. According to the nation’s former chief diplomat, the president is “pretty undisciplined,” “doesn’t like to read,” and “often” urged Tillerson to pursue policies that were inconsistent with American laws.

    Meanwhile, Miles Taylor, who worked with Trump as a chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, recently endorsed Joe Biden, as did Olivia Troye, who worked as a national security aide to Vice President Mike Pence for two years, and who also served as his top adviser on the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

    Trump has faced even fiercer criticisms from his former personal attorney Michael Cohen and his former White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci.

    […] it’s qualitatively different to hear from officials who worked directly with Trump. They had a front-row seat, watching how the president tried to lead, how he processed information, how he evaluated evidence, and how he made decisions.

    And now that these men and women have left the administration and had an opportunity to reflect on their time in the administration, they’re eager to see Americans to vote for someone else. […]

  155. blf says

    A hilarious snippet from the Grauniad’s Covid-19 superspreaders losers & suckers current live blog (the Grauniad’s emboldening (not mine)):

    Donald Trump has a speaking engagement in Atlanta this afternoon […] which [the pool report says] has featured “a series warm-up speeches from African American leaders, including housing secretary Ben Carson”.

    Speakers lauded the president with a torrent of scriptural references that frequently gave the atmosphere more of a church than election campaign.

    God made this man president, said one.

    Allow me to pause a second and allow the tiniest scrap of editorial voice into this blog […].

    Anyway: God made this man president. Really? In that case, to quote Woody Allen […] “If it turns out that there is a God … the worst that you can say about him is that basically he’s an underachiever.”

  156. blf says

    Good grief, Ruth Bader Ginsburg becomes first woman to lie in state in US Capitol. The headline says it all, really, but what about Rosa Parks? As the article explains:

    Rosa Parks […] was previously the only woman who has lain in honor at the Capitol, though not in state, after her death in 2005.

    Related, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s personal trainer performs push-ups in front of casket (video): “Bryant Johnson, the trainer who led Ruth Bader Ginsburg through her well-documented workout regime, paid his respects by performing three press-ups as she lay in state at the US Capitol. Ginsburg […] is the first woman and the first Jewish person to receive the honour”. (As an aside, Mr Johnson is Black.)

    Also related, ‘Vote him out’: Trump booed while paying respects to Ruth Bader Ginsburg (video): “Donald Trump was loudly booed by crowds as he visited the supreme court to pay his respects to Ruth Bader Ginsburg […] As the president [sic] and the first lady paused at Ginsburg’s casket, the crowd yelled: ‘Vote him out!’ […]” At first, the protest is difficult to hear, but it rises and rises and becomes unmistakable. Hair furor, pretending grief, clearly (despite wearing a mask) becomes discombobulated and seems to rather abruptly leave.