Comments

  1. says

    From text quoted by SC in comment 497: “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” [Trump said that in reference to visiting the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris.]

    Trump doesn’t even have enough properly functioning brain cells to hide his disgust for people who served in the military. Sociopath.

  2. says

    Another excerpt from text quoted by SC in comment 497, this part really struck me as important:

    But according to sources with knowledge of this visit, Trump, while standing by Robert Kelly’s grave, turned directly to his father [John Kelly] and said, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?” Kelly (who declined to comment for this story) initially believed, people close to him said, that Trump was making a ham-handed reference to the selflessness of America’s all-volunteer force. But later he came to realize that Trump simply does not understand non-transactional life choices.

  3. says

    SC, what did you think of the news that Rachel Maddow highlighted, saying that Trump had threatened to disown Donald Junior if junior joined the military?

  4. says

    Gerald Ford Rushed Out a Vaccine. It Was a Fiasco.

    Trump should keep that in mind as he pushes for a coronavirus shot.

    NY Times link

    […] “The deep state, or whoever, over at the F.D.A.,” [Trump] tweeted recently at Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, “is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics. Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after Nov. 3. Must focus on speed and saving lives!”

    To that end, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has notified public health officials across the country to prepare to distribute a coronavirus vaccine to health care workers and other high-risk groups as soon as late October.

    The president’s desperate words betray a gamble: Yes, rushing out a vaccine in an emergency may save lives, but it can also jeopardize safety, further erode public confidence in vaccines — and possibly kill.

    History offers Mr. Trump a cautionary tale. In February 1976, hundreds of soldiers at Fort Dix, N.J., contracted a new strain of the H1N1 virus that seemed to be a descendant of the one responsible for the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed at least 50 million people worldwide and possibly as many as 100 million.

    Back in those days, the World Health Organization twice a year convened a panel of experts to determine which strains of influenza should be included in that year’s flu shots, then provided the necessary “seed virus” to manufacturers. President Gerald Ford, however, decided to leapfrog the protocol in the face of the news out of Fort Dix.

    It was, after all, an election year, and Mr. Ford, who had risen to the presidency upon Richard Nixon’s resignation 19 months earlier, was seeking his first full term. […]

    U.S. officials immediately pressured the W.H.O. to endorse Mr. Ford’s decision. ­And, as the historian George Dehner noted, “The pressure worked: by the next day W.H.O. officials were quoted in the news media as stating, ‘W.H.O. endorses President Ford’s plan for massive inoculation against swine flu virus.’”

    That fall, celebrities lined up to get jabbed with the vaccine before cameras to set an example — including the president, sleeve rolled up, in the Oval Office. On “Saturday Night Live,” Chevy Chase did his famous Ford impression sporting a syringe in his arm during a debate against Dan Aykroyd’s Jimmy Carter.

    As it turned out, the H1N1 strain never made it out of Fort Dix, where only one Army recruit died. And, as it also turned out, this swine flu was not nearly as virulent as the 1918 influenza.

    But fast-tracking the vaccine for broad distribution among the public carried risks. Of the 45 million vaccinated against the swine flu, an estimated 450 people developed the paralyzing syndrome Guillain-Barré and of those, more than 30 died. The National Academy of Medicine subsequently concluded that people who received the 1976 swine flu vaccine had an increased risk for developing Guillain-Barré.

    The emergence of Guillain-Barré led the government to suspend and effectively end its mass vaccination effort in December. […]

  5. says

    It has been two weeks since Alexei Navalny, the leader of Russian political opposition to Putin, was poisoned. Trump has not commented, not once. Trump did not even issue an anodyne statement that would not have irritated Putin, but that may have shown the U.S. to be concerned when political opponents are poisoned.

  6. says

    Excerpt from an article posted by Talking Points Memo:

    The Atlantic also reported that Trump characterized the more than 1,800 marines who died in the Battle of Belleau Wood as “suckers” during a separate conversation on the same trip. Trump also asked aides, “who were the good guys in this war?” and expressed that he didn’t understand why the U.S. would intervene on the side of the Allies.

    The Battle of Belleau Wood in the spring of 1918 proved to be consequential in that it was the first large-scale battle fought by American soldiers in World War I. The U.S. Marines and Allied forces had stopped the German advance toward Paris in the forested area. After weeks of the Marines launching attacks, Americans prevailed, but at the cost of nearly 10,000 dead, wounded, or missing in action.

    Trump’s reported mockery of the slain soldiers in the Battle of Belleau Woods wouldn’t be the first time he’s dismissed the notion of honoring military veterans.

    Link

    I wonder how all of the details in the Atlantic article about Trump’s disrespect for those who serve in the military fit with his seeming veneration for “my generals,” as he refers to top military commanders.

  7. says

    From comments posted by readers of the article about Trump thinking of military service members as “losers”:

    No way to spin this moral depravity from Cadet Bone Spurs. The part of the story about going with Kelly on Farher’s Day to visit the grave of Kelly’s son, a Marine who was killed in Afghanistan, and then proceeding to spit insults, is just horrific and . . . deplorable. On Father’s Day. At his son’s gravesite. What. The. Fuck.

    Whatever else Trump is, he is first and foremost, and above all else, a total asshole.
    ————————
    He isn’t polling well with vets and active military, from what I’ve seen. I’d think a Commander in Chief mocking those who fought and died would move some people to vote for the other guy. Or not at all.
    ——————–
    So sayeth Supreme Loser Cadet Bone Spurs.
    ——————–
    Trump supporters won’t hear it from Fox News. it would make a nice Lincoln Project video. i think people need to understand what a wretched person(?) he is and how low he is willing to go. The guy has felonies in his future and is running on Law and Order? He is already tanking with the military and this will make it worse.
    ———————
    Even the concept of self-sacrifice is completely alien to this miserable excuse for a human being.

    The man is quite obviously a psychopath.
    ———————
    For all his size and bulk, Trump is a truly small man. One could even say petty.
    ———————–
    Jesus Whirling Christ.

    I always believed that Strokeahontas has the brains of a duck but this is a special kind of stupid.

  8. says

    After reading all the coverage about Trump’s abhorrent views of people who were wounded while serving in the military, I think I have a new understanding of why taking an oath to uphold the Constitution would be completely meaningless to him.

    From Walter Einenkel:

    […] Trump’s blunt mediocrity and ghastly view of everyone not named Donald Trump seems to have allowed many people around him to believe he was simply crass and vulgar, not the straight-up monstrously self-involved and corrupt failure of the cosmos we all know him to be. And while this story does feel like the lazy depiction of a 1990s action film villain, Donald Trump has repeatedly proven himself to be as dumb and dangerous as one would imagine a cartoon villain to be.

    Link

  9. says

    No government shutdown looming … hopefully:

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have informally agreed to pursue a clean, short-term stopgap measure to avert a government shutdown at the end of the month, sources in both parties confirmed Thursday.

    That means the continuing resolution (CR) needed to keep the government open past Sept. 30 would be free of controversial policy riders that have bogged down previous funding bills, significantly lowering the odds of a shutdown leading up to the crucial Nov. 3 elections.

    The tentative deal also means the government funding bill and a new coronavirus relief package being negotiated between Pelosi and Mnuchin would not be part of the same talks. […]

    Link

  10. says

    EXCLUSIVE: Some States Won’t Distribute A Trumpian Half-Baked COVID Vaccine

    Officials from at least three states have suggested that they would refuse to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine if they believe it has not received adequate vetting by the federal government, or that it had been approved for political reasons.

    The statements come as the Trump administration’s behavior has stoked fears that it will greenlight a vaccine before the November election in a bid to juice [Trump’s] re-election chances.

    California would “need evidence that the vaccine candidates are safe and effective before distributing them,” a spokesperson for the state Department of Public health told TPM.

    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) suggested at a Thursday briefing that the state may make any federally approved vaccine subject to additional approval from the New York state Department of Health.

    “It’s going to be an Election Day miracle drug,” Cuomo told reporters on Thursday. “So, we will, before we recommend New Yorkers take any vaccine, we will have the state Department of Health review it.”

    […] In Washington, state Secretary of Health John Wiesman slammed the politicization of the COVID-19 vaccine, saying that “we want to make sure that the federal government takes all the steps they need to ensure that any release of the vaccine is not driven by politics.”

    States refusing to distribute a vaccine raises the prospect of an unprecedented clash between a federal government acting to aid Trump politically and states with public health concerns about the vaccine approval process. It’s not clear how such a situation would develop, or whether the federal government would have the power to move a vaccine beyond state roadblocks. […]

    Meanwhile, officials with Operation Warp Speed — a joint HHS-DOD effort to accelerate vaccine development — have promised to “overwhelm” the airwaves with vaccine-related messaging by early November. […]

  11. says

    Another DHS Bulletin Reportedly Shows Russia Boosting Same Disinformation As Trump

    In a newly reported Department of Homeland Security intelligence bulletin, analysts describe a Russian disinformation effort to amplify claims that voting by mail is unreliable and vulnerable to fraud.

    “Since at least March 2020, Russian malign influence actors have been amplifying allegations of election integrity issues in new voting processes and vote-by-mail programs,” says the bulletin, obtained by ABC News.

    “These outlets also claimed that state election officials and policymakers leveraged the COVID-19 pandemic to justify politically-expedient decisions made on holding primary elections and implementing new voting processes and vote-by-mail programs allegedly designed to benefit specific candidates and influence election outcomes,” it continues, adding that Russian actors were specifically stressing that an influx of mailed ballots would overtax the postal service and local election boards.

    The analysts who wrote the memo, which was not intended for public release, said that they had “high confidence” in the assessment. […]

  12. blf says

    In teh NKofE, there are reports that alleged PM Borris Johnson will appoint Ozland’s former alleged PM Tony Abbott to some sort of a trade negotiation position. As numerous people have pointed out, this makes no sense at all from multiple perspectives (excepting that teh misogynist, bigoted, anti-EU, Climate Catastrophe denying, and nazi parts of Johnson’s nasty party likes the Abbottoir). In the Guardian, Fist Dog on the Moon explains, Your T-Abbott BrexiTradebot 1000 can expound at length on any subject (cartoon): “Are we really sure we want him in trade negotiations? He wasn’t a very successful prime minister. And he is extremely weird”. His(? it’s?) most recent antic was to say it wasn’t cost effective to bother saving older people who were infected with Covid-19 and they should simply die.

  13. blf says

    me@15, That should, of course, be First Dog on the Moon… (keycheese is back to normal, so is brain making Typos offerrigns agajn…).

  14. says

    Here’s a link to the September 4 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    The World Health Organization has said it does not expect widespread vaccinations against coronavirus until the middle of next year, stressing the importance of rigorous checks on their effectiveness and safety.

    “We are not expecting to see widespread vaccination until the middle of next year,” spokeswoman Margaret Harris told journalists at a briefing in Geneva.

    “This phase 3 must take longer because we need to see how truly protective the vaccine is and we also need to see how safe it is,” she added referring to vaccine clinical trials.

  15. says

    Update to #491 on the previous thread, from the Guardian world liveblog:

    Italy’s former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has been hospitalised in Milan for further checks after testing positive for the coronavirus, his Forza Italia party said on Friday.

    The party said his medical condition was not a cause for concern.

    The 83-year-old-media tycoon had been in isolation in his house in the town of Arcore, north of Milan.

    Forza Italia said he was at the San Raffaele hospital “as a precaution”.

    Berlusconi had spoken via video link to a meeting of Forza Italia supporters on Thursday and said his fever had passed. “I no longer have fever, nor pain, I want to reassure everyone that I am quite well,” he said.

    Here’s a little more on Silvio Berlusconi being admitted to hospital.

    The former Italian premier, who has history of heart and other medical problems, was admitted to a Milan hospital early Friday as a precaution to monitor his coronavirus infection, a top aide has said.

    Senator Lucia Ronzulli told RAI state TV that the media mogul, 83, who tested positive for Covid-19 earlier in the week, was doing well. She said he was undergoing precautionary monitoring of his infection.

    “He passed the night well,’’ she said.

    State radio later said Berlusconi was admitted to San Raffaele hospital, where his private doctor is based, shortly after midnight.

    Sky TG24, reporting from outside the hospital, said Berlusconi had the beginnings of pneumonia and was given an oxygen mask to aid breathing. Italian media have stressed Berlusconi is not in intensive care. Sky also said he arrived by private car, walked into the hospital, where he had a CT scan early Friday shortly after arrival.

    On Thursday, Berlusconi, speaking in a strong but somewhat nasal voice from his estate on the outskirts of Milan, told his supporters he no longer had fever or pain.

    Italian media have said two of his adult children also were recently diagnosed with coronavirus and are self-isolating.

    Unfortunately this isn’t a cold,’’ La Stampa newspaper said Berlusconi told the daily on Thursday. “Now it touches me but not only me, but also my family I realise more than ever how grave [the pandemic is].

    “I’m aware of how much sorrow it has sowed in so many families, of how much pain it has caused so many people. I think of all those who aren’t here any more, I think of those who lost their loved ones,’’ the Turin daily quoted Berlusconi as saying.

    Berlusconi has a history of serious medical problems. In 1997, he successfully battled prostate cancer, including by surgery. In 2006, he had heart tests at San Raffaele after fainting during a speech. A few weeks later he was fitted with a pacemaker at a U.S. hospital.

    He also has had bowel surgery for an obstruction and suffered an inflammatory eye condition in the past.

    Berlusconi spent some of his summer vacation at his seaside villa on Sardinia’s Emerald Coast. Many of Italy’s recent cases of coronavirus have been linked to clusters in people who vacationed on Sardinia…

    According to this Guardian article, his girlfriend also has it. His party really seems to be making an effort to minimize this – he’s 83 with previous health problems and has bilateral pneumonia.

  16. says

    Guardian – “How coronavirus has brought together conspiracy theorists and the far right”:

    On Saturday in London, more than 10,000 people gathered – bare-faced and packed perilously close – in Trafalgar Square to protest against what event posters branded the “new normal” under coronavirus: masks, lockdown restrictions, and the spectre of mandatory vaccination and privacy-obliterating health passports.

    The messaging leaned towards US-style libertarianism, asking marchers to “Unite for Freedom” from state control, but the mood was decidedly conspiratorial. Headline speakers included doctors and nurses suspended by their governing bodies for claiming coronavirus was a globalist hoax, Piers Corbyn, a long-time anti-vaxxer and climate-change denier, and the last-minute addition of David Icke, a fabulist famous for his books rejigging classic antisemitic conspiracy theories to include reptile people originating from the fourth dimension.

    Among the marchers were a similarly random assortment of endorsements. There were anti-vax and anti-5G placards. Several T-shirts and signs alluded to QAnon, a recent US conspiracy movement already too baroque to neatly summarise, but whose central premise is that Donald Trump is waging a clandestine war against an all-knowing globalist paedophile conspiracy from his rebel stronghold in the White House. Much was made of men unfurling a British Union of Fascists flag at the crowd’s edge. At a similar protest in Berlin the same day, drawing nearly 20,000 people, a far-right contingent attempted to storm the Reichstag.

    It would be easy to dismiss these events as a random mishmash of the merely selfish with assorted cranks, pushed together under the pressure of lockdown. But this is not the case. If you’ll indulge a bit of conspiratorial thinking of my own, these protests are more calculated than they appear, and aren’t just a symptom of understandable-but-misguided public frustration with the events of the past few months. Rather they represent the continuing abstention of large swathes of the public from what could be termed our shared reality, or public sphere, and suggest that the recent tendency of fringe and conspiracist positions to rapidly seed and burst into mainstream politics won’t be ending any time soon.

    The seemingly disparate groups that attend these protests are part of a shifting coalition of conspiracist and far-right groups. One of the primary organisers of Saturday’s protest is a UK-based anti-5G movement known as Stand Up X (or by the unbeatable acronym “SUX”). According to Hope Not Hate, the group has previously backed smaller protests by a US-linked, QAnon-friendly outfit in Manchester and other UK cities. They say the groups are part of a growing number of conspiracy outfits “willing to sideline differences in belief” in order to collaborate. And previous investigations by journalists in the US have found far-right organisations behind Facebook groups arranging lockdown protests.

    All of this is part of a recent blending of multiple strands of conspiratorial thinking and far-right politics. Conspiracies have always had points of overlap, but over the past few years the anti-vax movement has become more pointedly right wing, while mainstream far-right and right-populist parties have become more conspiratorial.

    The Italian Five Star Movement and Northern League have recently questioned vaccine effectiveness, as has France’s Front National. In Hungary, Viktor Orbán regularly suggests the Jewish financier George Soros is about to swamp the country with migrants. And Trump this week claimed his opponent Joe Biden was “controlled” by “people that you’ve never heard of. People that are in the dark shadows.”

    Conspiracy theories generally have an anti-authority component: they are against the state, or the illuminati that control the state, or the lizards who control the illuminati. But in these cases they might best be understood as part of what the academic Mark Davis has termed “anti-public” discourse. The public means the public sphere, and in the case of the far right, right populists and conspiracists, their cause is helped, Davis says, by anything “radically flouting the ethical and rational norms that underpin democratic discourse”, in effect undermining rational debate, and trust in the institutions and elite expert knowledge that used to go a long way towards determining our consensus reality.

    I recently read political theorist Wendy Brown’s newest book, In the Ruins of Neoliberalism: The Rise of Antidemocratic Politics in the West, which analyzes the nihilistic politics of the alt-Right and Trumpists as in part a consequence of the rise of neoliberalism over the past several decades. I have some criticisms, but it’s definitely worth reading.

  17. blf says

    Poise and prestige: viral clip propels Lagos ballet class to global stage:

    […]
    Eleven-year-old Anthony Madu glides barefoot across an uneven concrete floor, summoning his frame into seamless twirls and conjuring pirouettes, his poise effortless as rain falls into puddles around him.

    The 45-second video, shot in June outside the home of his ballet teacher in Ajangbadi, an isolated, end-of-the-road coastal town on the outskirts of Lagos, was intended to help Anthony practise his form.

    Instead, the clip — a quietly stunning triumph of will over modest means — went viral, setting off an epic, internet-era fairytale. Celebrity and commercial endorsements, prestigious scholarship offers and pledges for funding have flooded in, transforming the lives of Anthony, his teacher Daniel Ajala and other children at the Leap of Dance Academy. Local perceptions of the academy — which weren’t always positive — have also been upended.

    […]

    The first day after the video was posted on Instagram, an amazed “Mr Daniel” showed the children how far it had reached. “It was really exciting and made me feel joyful,” Anthony said. In the days that followed, their amazement only grew as global attention soared.

    In August Anthony gained a full scholarship to an online summer programme at the prestigious Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of American Ballet. In January he begins a five-year scholarship programme in New York. Similar offers have been made for some of the academy’s other children.

    […]

    The setting of the academy and its modest intentions reinforce the unlikely nature of its remarkable tale.

    Ajangbadi sits off the battered Lagos to Badagry expressway, towards Nigeria’s western border with Benin. […]

    Ajala started teaching ballet at after-school clubs in inner-city Lagos eight years ago, while studying business administration at university. He said he could have made money setting up a studio in more affluent pockets of the city, capitalising on a well-established and growing demand for ballet. “But I thought about it and I wanted to establish it here, in this neighbourhood, this is where it would matter more,” he said.

    He taught ballet to himself at home, watching videos on YouTube, and through social media, joining international dance networks. After leaving university, he unnerved his parents when he told them that he was pursuing dance teaching over a more typical profession. “I knew this was my calling, so I had no doubts at all,” he said.

    He envisioned the academy as a place where children could gain a greater sense of what they could be, not necessarily through dance. “I want them to have confidence in themselves and what they can aspire to. It’s about exposure. We’re looking at online references, learning, using a range of resources, I believe that is powerful.”

    […]

    Before the coronavirus pandemic Ajala held classes three times a week in a school hall. When schools closed he moved lessons to his home, where they took place almost daily. The children trained in bare feet, to preserve their ballet shoes from tearing on his concrete floor.

    […]

    The video is at the link — and it is worth watching. The Grauniad also has a picture essay, Lagos Leap: inside a ballet school in Nigeria’s suburbs (July 2020): “The Leap of Dance academy has brought ballet to children in a poor district in Africa’s largest megacity”.

  18. blf says

    Trump is in a corner and he’ll do anything to get out:

    The president’s [sic] desperation could be dangerous and it’s in his interest to fuel the panic

    The end of the summer is in sight, and with it come thoughts on America’s turn towards fascism. “Fascism” is an over-used word, with a ring of the playground to it, but with the presidential election less than two months away and Trump defending violence from ersatz white militias, it doesn’t, for once, seem misplaced. Until now, there has been a broad assumption that the president [sic] is too lazy and stupid to seriously threaten American democracy, but this might underestimate what he’ll do when he’s desperate. Like the squirrel you trap in a corner of your attic, Trump is liable to chew through anything — including you — to get out.

    [… I]t is in Trump’s political interests to fuel panic and the sense of a country on the brink — not of the real dystopia we face, in which private interests gut public life for personal gain, but the phony threat posted by “antifa”, Black Lives Matter and what Trump calls the domestic terrorism of those protesting against him. Straight from the authoritarianism play book, he is stoking instability and civil unrest, then presenting himself as the only candidate who can bring the country to order. It doesn’t matter that it’s a fiction. To his supporters, Trump’s job as president [sic] is neither a question of policies or governance, but of expressing their emotions — anger, fear, insecurity, resentment. It is a paradox of this kind of approach that the greater the scope of Trump’s failure, the more broken the country and, potentially, the greater his popularity becomes.

    […]

  19. says

    One chapter of Wendy Brown’s book (similar to her previous book, Undoing the Demos) is a close analysis of the ideas and claims underlying some recent Supreme Court decisions, including NIFLA v. Becerra. This, from the discussion of that case (p. 144), caught my eye:

    There are now approximately four thousand crisis pregnancy centers in the United States…. By all accounts, CPCs have one goal, which is to convince women carrying unwanted pregnancies not to abort them. However, their self-representation and techniques for attracting clients intentionally obscure this goal and often their religious backing, as well. [Brown describes in detail in the chapter how they do this – SC]… As antiabortion activist Abby Johnson said of CPCs at the annual Heartbeat International conference in 2012, “We want to appear neutral on the outside. The best call, the best client you ever get is one that thinks they’re walking into an abortion clinic.”

    Johnson is one of the many cynical liars who spoke last week at the RNC.

  20. blf says

    Trump doesn’t seem to understand how voting works. Here’s what you need to know:

    With Covid-19 and Trump’s false claims of voter fraud, this year’s election is especially fraught. So here’s our guide to help you through

    [… useful and important advice…]

    Know your rights

    • If the polls close while you’re in line, you have the right to stay in line until you vote.

    • If there’s a voting machine error or breakdown at the polling station, you can cast a paper ballot.

    • Voter intimidation is illegal, including if someone is aggressively questioning your citizenship or criminal record.

    • There is no language requirement to vote.

    • If a poll worker says your name is not on the voter roll, you can request that they check the statewide system or on a list of supplemental voters. If they still can’t find it, you can cast a provisional ballot.

    • Every polling station should be accessible to people with disabilities, under federal law.

    The ACLU has a comprehensive list of voter rights here, including hotlines and phone numbers you can call on site if you run into an issue.

  21. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current dalekocrazy liars live blog:

    […]
    Today we’re watching the fallout from a stunning report in the Atlantic — and later confirmed by the Associated Press and the Washington Post — detailing multiple occasions in which Donald Trump disparaged members of the US military who have been captured or killed as suckers and losers. The White House vehemently denied the story, calling it reprehensible lies while Trump falsely claimed that he never called Senator John McCain, a prisoner of war in Vietnam who died in 2018, a loser.

    The story broke hours before North Carolina, which has one of the largest military populations in the US, began sending out absentee ballots to voters on Friday.

    […]

  22. says

    Guardian – “White US professor admits she has pretended to be Black for years”:

    A seasoned activist and professor of African American history at George Washington University has been pretending to be Black for years, despite actually being a white woman from Kansas City.

    In a case eerily reminiscent to Rachel Dolezal, Jessica A Krug took financial support from cultural institutions such as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture for a book she wrote about fugitive resistance to the transatlantic slave trade. But according to a Medium post allegedly written by Krug herself, her career was rooted in a “toxic soil of lies”.

    “To an escalating degree over my adult life, I have eschewed my lived experience as a white Jewish child in suburban Kansas City under various assumed identities within a Blackness that I had no right to claim: first North African Blackness, then US rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness,” she wrote.

    In Krug’s book Fugitive Modernities, published before her confession, she writes in her acknowledgments: “My ancestors, unknown, unnamed, who bled life into a future they had no reason to believe could or should exist. My brother, the fastest, the smartest, the most charming of us all. Those whose names I cannot say for their own safety, whether in my barrio, in Angola, or in Brazil.”

    Krug went by the name Jessica La Bombalera in activist circles and could be seen speaking in a New York City public hearing on police brutality in June.

    “I’m Jessa Bombalera. I’m here in El Barrio, East Harlem – you probably have heard about it because you sold my fucking neighborhood to developers and gentrifiers,” she begins as she introduces herself. A few moments later, she adds: “I wanna call out all these white New Yorkers who waited four hours with us to be able to speak and then did not yield their time for Black and Brown indigenous New Yorkers.”

    Those who knew Krug as La Bombalera have taken to social media today to announce their upset. “I’m dazed and still processing my emotions, but mostly, I feel betrayed, foolish and, in many ways, gaslit,” said the author Robert Jones Jr on Twitter….

  23. says

    Every time I think about Trump and the military, I remember this episode from 2018, in which the WH withheld information about PFAS groundwater contamination affecting families on military bases:

    Politico – “White House, EPA headed off chemical pollution study.”

    TNR – “The Military Drinking-Water Crisis the White House Tried to Hide.”

    Evidently, Trump threatened to veto the military appropriations bill last year in part to block PFAS mitigation efforts:

    Stars & Stripes – “Trump threatens to veto defense bill over several provisions, including amendment to mitigate water contamination.”

    Reps. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., and Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., also objected to the president’s veto threat in a joint statement Wednesday.

    “Vetoing this bill would not only hurt servicemembers and families affected by PFAS contamination, but would delay funding for our military, jeopardizing our national security,” according to the statement. “We will continue to fight to clean up toxic PFAS chemicals and take care of servicemembers and veterans.”

  24. says

    AP – “NATO agrees Novichok used on Navalny, demands probe”:

    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday condemned the “appalling assassination attempt” on Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny and called on Moscow to answer questions about the poisoning to international investigators.

    Navalny, a Kremlin critic and corruption investigator, fell ill on a flight to Moscow on Aug. 20 and was taken to a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk. He has been in an induced coma in a Berlin hospital since he was flown to Germany for treatment more than a week ago.

    German authorities have said that tests showed that he had been poisoned with a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group. British authorities previously identified the Soviet-era Novichok as the poison used on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England in 2018.

    “There is proof beyond doubt that Mr. Navalny was poisoned using a military-grade nerve agent from the Novichok group. The use of such a weapon is horrific,” Stoltenberg said after chairing a meeting of NATO ambassadors during which Germany briefed its allies on developments.

    “Any use of chemical weapons shows a total disrespect for human lives and is an unacceptable breach of international norms and rules. NATO allies agree that Russia now has serious questions it must answer,” he told reporters.

    Stoltenberg said Moscow must cooperate with the international chemical weapons organization in “an impartial, international investigation” and provide information about its Novichok program.

    After the attack in the English city of Salisbury in March 2018 —on the territory of a member of the 30-nation alliance — NATO withdrew the accreditation of seven staff at Russia’s mission there and rejected the applications of three others. No such action was announced on Friday.

    President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman has brushed off allegations that the Kremlin was involved in poisoning the Russian leader’s most determined critic and said Thursday that Germany had not provided Moscow with any evidence about Navalny’s condition.

  25. says

    TPM – “DOJ Admits Barr’s Purported Example Of Mass Mail-In Voter Fraud Was Inaccurate”:

    The Department of Justice admitted on Thursday that Attorney General Bill Barr’s description of a case that he claimed to be proof of mass election fraud via mail-in ballots was incorrect.

    “Prior to his interview, the Attorney General was provided a memo prepared within the Department that contained an inaccurate summary about the case which he relied upon when using the case as an example,” DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupec told the Washington Post. [Sure, he was.]

    During an interview with CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday, Barr defended his and President Donald Trump’s false claim that voting by mail leads to widespread election fraud by citing a case in Texas led by the Dallas County district attorney in 2017.

    “For example, we indicted someone in Texas. 1,700 ballots collected from people who could vote, he made them out and voted for the person he wanted to,” the Trump official told Blitzer.

    But Andy Chatham, the assistant district attorney who worked on the case told the Post “that’s not what happened at all.”

    “We didn’t find any evidence of widespread voter fraud, and instead the ballots that were returned were consistent with the voter’s choice,” Chatham said.

    Another top prosecutor in the case, Mike Snipes, told the Post that the office had believed there were “potentially 1,700 fraudulent ballots” at first, “but we did not uncover that, at all.”

    Chatham slammed Barr over his claims about the case.

    “Unfortunately, it speaks volumes to the credibility of Attorney General Barr when he submits half-truths and alternative facts as clear evidence of voter fraud without having so much as even contacted me or the district attorney’s office for an understanding of the events that actually occurred,” Chatham told the Post.

  26. tomh says

    Court Blocks Trump Removal of LGBTQ-Bias Shields in Health Care
    September 3, 2020 MEGAN MINEIRO

    WASHINGTON (CN) — A federal judge has stopped the Trump administration from enforcing a rule change that would let health care providers deny medical services to LGBTQ patients on the grounds of religion.

    On the heels of a Supreme Court ruling that banned discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the workplace, U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg in Washington handed down his ruling late Wednesday in a hefty 101 pages.

    “Specifically, there is ‘substantial evidence’ that HHS’s newly and explicitly incorporated religious exemption will cause patients to fear discrimination at the hands of religiously affiliated providers, once again ‘leaving little doubt as to causation,’” Boasberg wrote.
    […]

    The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, representing the clinics, praised the decision by Boasberg to put an immediate stop to what it said was the Trump administration seeking to carve out LGBTQ people and other vulnerable populations from the ACA’s protections.

    “This administration’s health care discrimination rule is just another example of its disdain for LGBTQ lives and the law,” Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, a Lambda Legal attorney on the case, said in a statement. “The rule is unlawful and endangers people’s lives, plain and simple.”

  27. says

    Bits and pieces of campaign news:

    The Trump campaign released a new digital ad campaign this week, and according to HuffPost, the ads featured “a manipulated photo” of Biden “edited to make the former vice president appear older.”
    HuffPost link

    […] The ads, which label Biden “Sleepy Joe,” show him gazing out against a dark background with his mouth slightly agape. The Trump campaign is also running near-identical Facebook ads featuring the same text along with the original, unedited photo of Biden, in which his skin looks much brighter and healthier.

    It’s among the latest examples of Trump officials circulating imagery that has been deceptively altered or pulled out of context to attack Biden.

    On Sunday, White House deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino tweeted a fake video that appeared to show Biden sleeping through a TV interview. A day later, the campaign’s “Trump War Room” Twitter account shared a truncated clip of Biden saying, “You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.”

    In the full quote, which the clip did not include, Biden said: “Trump and Pence are running on this, and I find it fascinating: Quote, ‘You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America.’ And what’s their proof? The violence we’re seeing in Donald Trump’s America.”

    […] Trump’s team has paid Facebook to run numerous ads containing claims that are demonstrably false, including that Biden wants to “defund” police forces.

    Biden’s campaign, on the other hand, “has not taken similar advantage of Facebook’s leniency about political claims,” according to an analysis by The Washington Post. […]

    At a rally last night, Trump said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is “a person that nobody ever heard of.” Markey has been in Congress for 44 years, and among his campaign contributors is Donald Trump, who supported Markey in 1990. I believe that Trump no longer remembers Markey. Trump no longer remembers a lot.

    Coca-Cola, Twitter, Cisco, and Uber, among others, are giving employees a day off specifically to allow them to vote. USA Today link.

    Judges in Arizona and Virginia removed the Republican-backed spoiler candidate, Kanye West, from state ballots. West is supposedly running as an independent but he is a registered Republican. Lawyers and other lickspittles associated with Trump’s campaign have been caught working to get Kanye West on the ballots of many states. Rejections so far include Ohio, Montana, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Arizona.

  28. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current goons and other wannabe-daleks live blog:

    The Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest police union, voted unanimously in favor of endorsing Trump this election cycle, praising him as America’s law [sic] and order [sic] president [sic].”

    […]

    Look at what the national discourse has focused on for the last six months, Patrick Yoes, the group’s president, said in a statement. President [sic] Trump has shown time after time that he supports our law enforcement officers and understands the issues our members face every day. The FOP is proud to endorse a candidate who calls for law and order across our nation. He has the full and enthusiastic support of the FOP.

    […]

  29. says

    Why are many veterans and military families outraged by The Atlantic article? Apparently because they know enough to believe the reporting is true.

    If Donald Trump hoped the uproar in response to Jeffrey Goldberg’s article in The Atlantic would die down quickly, [he] will probably be disappointed.

    On a press call organized by the Biden/Harris campaign, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) told reporters this morning, “I am not shocked, but I am appalled.” The Illinois senator and decorated combat veteran added, in reference to Trump, “He doesn’t understand people’s bravery and courage because he’s never had any of his own.”

    Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), a former Army Ranger who served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, added that the comments attributed to the president represent “the last full measure of his disgrace,” tweaking a line from the Gettysburg Address.

    […] as the Washington Post reported overnight, the swift pushback appears to be far broader.

    In 2016, Army veteran David Weissman was an “unapologetic, red-hat wearing” Donald Trump supporter. The Palm Bay, Fla., resident would regularly join social media mobs attacking liberals, he later wrote, seeking to defend a candidate who he said rightfully prioritized the armed forces. Four years later, Weissman — who served two tours in Afghanistan — has now sparked a Twitter campaign of former service members against President Trump, over reports that he derided fallen U.S. soldiers as “losers” and “suckers.”

    The article added that Weissman’s “online call to arms underscored the outpouring of anger that erupted from military veterans and their families overnight against Trump.”

    Yes, the president and his team have strenuously denied the accuracy of the reporting. But not only has it been corroborated by other major news organizations, it’s also entirely consistent with everything we’ve seen and heard from this president in recent years. […]

    In a piece for The Atlantic last fall, Mark Bowden took a closer look at what it’s like for U.S. troops to serve under Donald Trump, interviewing “officers up and down the ranks, as well as several present and former civilian Pentagon employees.” The results were striking.

    “In 20 years of writing about the military, I have never heard officers in high positions express such alarm about a president,” the article noted.

    And that was before they saw the report about Trump privately denigrating fallen heroes as “losers” and “suckers.”

  30. says

    Trump wants people to believe his denial about The Atlantic article. His lies about McCain make his task that much more difficult.

    In the wake of John McCain’s passing two years ago, Donald Trump made no real effort to hide his contempt for the late senator, taking cheap and unnecessary shots […] Congressional Republicans begged the president to stop. […]

    In private, the president’s antics may have been even worse. Jeffrey Goldberg’s blockbuster piece in The Atlantic covered a lot of important ground, including peeling back the curtain on Trump’s reaction to McCain’s death.

    Trump remained fixated on McCain, one of the few prominent Republicans to continue criticizing him after he won the nomination. When McCain died, in August 2018, Trump told his senior staff, according to three sources with direct knowledge of this event, “We’re not going to support that loser’s funeral,” and he became furious, according to witnesses, when he saw flags lowered to half-staff. “What the f**k are we doing that for? Guy was a f**king loser,” the president told aides.

    All of this, of course, followed Trump denigrating McCain’s military heroism in 2015, when the then-candidate rejected the idea that McCain was a hero. “I like people that weren’t captured, okay?” Trump said five years ago.

    In a multi-part Twitter thread last night, the president conceded he was “never a big fan” of McCain, whom Trump said failed “in dealing with the VA.” The president added, however, that he “never called John a loser.”

    […] let’s briefly unpack the demonstrable absurdity of Trump’s denial.

    First, it’s kind of amusing to see the president, even now, disparage McCain’s record on dealing with veterans’ issues. In reality, McCain co-authored a Veterans’ Choice bill, which Barack Obama signed into law in 2014, and which Trump routinely tries to take credit for because, well, just because.

    Second, Trump’s insistence that he never called McCain a “loser” is belied by Trump’s own record. It took about 10 seconds on the Trump Twitter Archive to find a tweet in which Trump described McCain as a “loser” about a month after launching his 2016 candidacy.

    He also said, “I don’t like losers” while smearing McCain’s military service in 2015.

    And finally, in last night’s Twitter thread, the president suggested he was proud to honor McCain after the senator’s passing. It led Miles Taylor, a former top official in Trump’s Department of Homeland Security, to respond soon after, “Mr. President, this is not true. You were angry that DHS notified federal buildings to lower the flags for Sen. McCain. I would know because your staff called and told me.”

    Trump wants people to believe his denial about The Atlantic article. The fact that his McCain-related claims are obviously untrue makes his larger task that much more difficult.

  31. says

    Two Senior Officials Confirm Trump’s Remarks About Fallen Soldiers To AP

    […] Trump, who traveled to Pennsylvania on Thursday, told reporters after he returned to Washington that the Atlantic report was “a disgraceful situation” by a “terrible magazine.”

    “I would be willing to swear on anything that I never said that about our fallen heroes,” Trump told the reporters, gathered on the tarmac in the dark. “There is nobody that respects them more. No animal — nobody — what animal would say such a thing?”

    Trump also reiterated the White House explanation of why he didn’t visit the cemetery. “The helicopter could not fly,” he said, because of the rain and fog. “The Secret Service told me you can’t do it. … They would never have been able to get the police and everybody else in line to have a president go through a very crowded, very congested area.”

    “It’s sad the depths that people will go to during a lead-up to a presidential campaign to try to smear somebody,” said White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. [snipped more denials from lickspittles]

    Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said that “if the revelations in today’s Atlantic article are true, then they are yet another marker of how deeply President Trump and I disagree about the role of the President of the United States.”

    “Duty, honor, country — those are the values that drive our service members,” Biden said in a statement Thursday night, adding that if he is elected president, “I will ensure that our American heroes know that I will have their back and honor their sacrifice — always.” Biden’s son Beau served in Iraq in 2008-09.

    [A senior Defense Department official with firsthand knowledge of events and a senior U.S. Marine Corps officer who was told about Trump’s comments confirmed some of the remarks to The Associated Press, including the 2018 cemetery comments.] The Defense officials also confirmed to The AP reporting in The Atlantic that Trump on Memorial Day 2017 had gone with his chief of staff, John Kelly, to visit the Arlington Cemetery gravesite of Kelly’s son, Robert, who was killed in 2010 in Afghanistan, and said to Kelly: “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?”

    The senior Marine Corps officer and The Atlantic, citing sources with firsthand knowledge, also reported that Trump said he didn’t want to support the August 2018 funeral of Republican Sen. John McCain, […]

    The magazine said Trump also referred to former President George H.W. Bush as a “loser” because he was shot down by the Japanese as a Navy pilot in World War II.

  32. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current losing suckers and other wannbe-daleks live blog (quoted in full):

    An visibly angry Joe Biden said Trump’s comments on the military “affirms” that he is “not fit to be commander-in-chief.”

    “When my son volunteered and joined the United States military — and went to Iraq for a year, won the Bronze Star and other commendations, he was not a sucker,” Biden said, his voice rising, as he opened his remarks on the economy from Wilmington on Friday. His son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015, was deployed to Iraq in 2008.

    “I’m always cautioned not to lose my temper,” Biden said. “This may be as close as I come this campaign. It’s just a marker of how deeply the president and I disagree on the role of the president of the United States of America.”

  33. says

    As blf noted @ #s 37 and 38, Biden gave a speech earlier – another good one – and now he’s answering questions. Feels like he’s channeling the (majority of the) country in his responses to questions about Trump, QAnon, etc.

  34. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has called for countries around the world to join forces to tackle the coronavirus, saying that “vaccine nationalism” would only slow the response to the pandemic.

    Tedros said 78 high-income countries had now joined the “COVAX” global vaccine allocation plan, bringing the total to 170 countries, adding that joining the plan guaranteed those countries access to the world’s largest portfolio of vaccines.

    The WHO and the GAVI vaccine alliance are leading the COVAX facility, aimed at helping buy and distribute vaccination shots fairly around the world.

    But some countries that have secured their own supplies through bilateral deals, including the United States, have said they will not join COVAX.

    At a WHO briefing in Geneva Tedros told reporters:

    Vaccine nationalism will prolong the pandemic.

    Tedros thanked Germany, Japan, Norway and the European Commission for joining COVAX during the last week.

    A WHO spokeswoman said earlier on Friday that the organisation does not expect widespread vaccinations against COVID-19 to be available until mid-2021, citing the need for rigorous checks on their effectiveness and safety.

    The WHO’s chief scientist told the briefing that no vaccine should be approved for a worldwide rollout until it had undergone sufficient scrutiny.

    WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said:

    No vaccine is going to be mass-deployed until regulators are confident, governments are confident, and the WHO is confident it has met the minimum standard of safety,

    She added that the vaccine candidates needed to go through the full Phase III trial which usually involves thousands of participants.

  35. says

    Also from the Guardian world liveblog:

    Health authorities in France reported 8,975 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Friday, setting an all-time high of daily additional infections since the disease started to spread in the country at the end of the winter.

    The number of people hospitalised for the disease, while still well below its April 14 peak of 32,292, has gone up for the sixth day running, at 4,671.

    The number of people in France who have died from COVID-19 infections stood at 30,686 and the cumulative number of cases now totals 309,156.

  36. says

    Follow-up to SC @27.

    Pentagon orders shutdown of military’s independent newspaper

    On the same day in which Trump is under fire for reportedly denigrating military service, we see his admin is also shutting down the military’s newspaper.

    The timing could be better. On the same day in which Donald Trump is under fire for reportedly denigrating military service and the sacrifices of those who’ve worn the uniform, the Associated Press reports that Trump’s administration is shutting down the military’s independent newspaper after generations of publication.

    The Pentagon has ordered the military’s independent newspaper, Stars and Stripes, to cease publication at the end of the month, despite Congressional efforts to continue funding the century-old publication. The order to halt publication by Sept. 30, and dissolve the organization by the end of January, is the latest salvo in the Pentagon’s move earlier this year to cut the $15.5 million in funding for the paper from the department’s budget.

    The AP report added that the move has faced bipartisan pushback from members of Congress, who’ve called for the administration to restore the newspaper’s funding. What’s more, 15 senators reportedly sent a letter this week to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, warning the Pentagon chief “that the department is legally prohibited from canceling a budget program while a temporary continuing resolution funding the federal government is in effect.”

    The larger question, of course, is why in the world the Trump administration would do this — not just in the midst of a controversy surrounding the president’s disrespect for military service, but at any time.

    We are, after all, talking about a $15 million military expenditure, and while that may sound like an enormous amount of money, it’s barely a rounding error given the Pentagon’s overall budget, which is nearly $700 billion.

    […] In a USA Today op-ed, the Missouri School of Journalism’s Kathy Kiely made a related case, writing, “Even for those of us who are all too wearily familiar with […] Trump’s disdain for journalists, his administration’s latest attack on the free press is a bit of a jaw-dropper.”

    By all appearances, this is more than just a trial balloon about something on the horizon. On the contrary, Kiely’s op-ed highlighted a memo from Army Col. Paul Haverstick, acting director of the Pentagon’s Defense Media Activity, ordering Stars and Stripes’ publishers to present a plan that “dissolves” the newspaper by Sept. 15 — which is a week from Tuesday. The plan is supposed to include a “specific timeline for vacating government owned/leased space worldwide.”

    The same memo added that the last edition is slated for the end of this month.

  37. blf says

    The Grauniad’s snark machine on teh NKofE’s Stephen Miller, This is mission control to Dominic Cummings: you have a problem:

    Talking about a Nasa-style nerve centre is not a good idea when your mistakes can be seen from space

    Another universe-beating week for the government, as Matt Hancock unveils Operation Moon Shot, and Dominic Cummings cuts the ribbon on a new Nasa-style mission control. I love how hard these guys are for galactic talk, which means so much more coming from a government whose cock-ups can now be seen even from space. Could Cummings bring a damaged lunar exploration craft back down to Earth in 45 hours without loss of astronaut life? Babe, he can’t even bring your sister back from the Algarve without three days of confused hokey cokey.

    Matt Hancock is teh NKofE’s Minister for Health, and Operation Moon Shot is some Covid-19 testing scheme which will test millions of people using technology that either doesn’t exist or hasn’t been shown to work, and — very probably — either doesn’t scale up to that amount of testing, or won’t be scaled-up correctly.

    Teh NKofE announced earlier it would required people returning from Portugal (where the Algarve is located) to quarantine, and several days later announced quarantining wasn’t necessary. This, of course, pissed off Portugal and the Brits vacationing there.

    […] Summer has ended and Boris Johnson’s Downing Street gang has got back to doing what it does best: centralising power in an ever-decreasing number of people’s hands, no matter how many times those people prove they can’t wield the power they already have without diurnal U-turns and/or broken promises. Is it too much to expect a government of superforecasters to make predictions even Mystic Meg could manage? “Luck wears blue stripes while Pluto challenges finances, but appointing Tony Abbott is going to be an unmitigated shitshow.”

    Mystic Meg is one of those psychic prediction woo-woo loons, notorious for being wrong except when spectacularly wrong, even when using retrospective predictions.

    See @15 (this page) about teh Abbottoir.

    The good news is that Hancock’s plan to test 500,000 people a day by the end of October is the latest much-vaunted game-changer, just like the game-changing antibody test Johnson announced back in March, or the game-changing NHS contact-tracing app announced shortly afterwards — both of which seem to have gone down somewhere over the government’s extensive Bermuda Triangle.

    Falling by the wayside too, alas, is another of Cummings’ misfits / weirdos, as Whitehall loses another of the unconventional data experts lured in with the promise of free girlfriends (I slightly paraphrase the remuneration package). [… (see previous page of this poopyhead thread)]

    It’s good news for weirdos and misfits who haven’t been racist yet, though, as some of them have begun moving over to Cummings’ new operational command centre, where he will play a brilliant and charismatic genius in charge of a futuristic government. I very much enjoyed various newspapers’ entirely speculative graphic representations of how this open-plan nerve centre might look, which have a distinct “not actual game footage” vibe.

    Even so, there does seem to be a strong cargo cult element to it all. Perhaps if Cummings builds some vaguely inspired-by version of Nasa mission control, this government will seem even vaguely in control of its mission.

    Yet reports that the walls will be covered in screens showing real-time data suggest more of a stage set where the production designer has been charged with creating a “mission control-type room”. As has been pointed out, the whole screens-on-the-wall look dates back to the time when people didn’t have a variety of personal screens everywhere from their desk to their pocket. Hold on to your hats, because I am told that in the future, a gaggle of brilliant men in shirtsleeves and tie clips will not actually have to gather round a big telly and think laterally about how to get their government’s off-course agenda back down to Earth.

    [… more snarking…]

    If Cummings had any normal, non-elite friends, the piss would have been taken out of him absolutely relentlessly for this stuff. Instead, he has proved himself so entirely unsackable that he is as feared as you would expect of a man for whom the prime minister is merely a meat puppet.

    [… and the idiotic stop working at home all you lazy peons! message (also see previous page of this poopyhead thread)]

  38. says

    From Laura Clawson:

    […] it’s not until 14 paragraphs later, five paragraphs from the bottom of the story, that Baker and Haberman [journalists at the New York Times] point out that those specific reports are in line with Trump having very publicly said of McCain: “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” Trump also called McCain a “dummy” and a “loser.” […]

    Baker and Haberman write, in the manner of those repeating established knowledge: “People familiar with Mr. Trump’s comments say he has long scorned those who served in Vietnam as being too dumb to have gotten out of it, as he did through a medical diagnosis of bone spurs in his heels. At other times, according to those familiar with the remarks, Mr. Trump would marvel at people choosing military service over making money.”

    […] they still led with Trump’s denial, straight, no real context. In the early paragraphs of the story—the ones that, let’s face it, are all many people read—Trump’s angry denials are center stage without the context of all of these reasons for believing that yes, Trump definitely would have done something like refuse to visit a World War I cemetery because he believed the troops buried there were “losers.”

    The New York Times clearly set out to write an article giving Trump’s denials close to equal standing with the reporting of his contempt for service members. That’s the plan here, with just enough context sprinkled into the later paragraphs of the piece to make for plausible deniability that they gave Trump too much credence.

    […] It’s clear that Kelly is either a direct source for The Atlantic or the other outlets, or that he gave friends permission to speak to reporters. He—along with the other sources for these pieces—needs to have the courage to come forward and speak publicly, under his own name. Then let’s see how the Times would run Trump’s denials.

    Link

  39. says

    From Ilhan Omar:

    Posting a photo with an assault rifle next to the faces of three women of color is not advertising. It’s incitement.

    There are already death threats in response to this post.

    Facebook should remove this violent provocation.

    More importantly: @realdonaldtrump @GOPLeader, this rests squarely on your shoulders. You have incited attacks on us since we were sworn in. You have told us to “go back” where we came from.

    This is your party now. Dangerous and disgraceful.

    https://twitter.com/IlhanMN/status/1301890856241311744

    From Rachael Bade:

    A House GOP candidate Trump recently praised as an upcoming “star,” @mtgreenee, just posted a FB photo of herself holding a gun next to images of “Squad” members @AOC, @RepRashida & @IlhanMN.

    This is a threatening message to 3 lawmakers by an incoming member of the House.

  40. blf says

    Dave Daubenmire Likens Businesses Refusing Him Entry for Not Wearing a Mask to Racial Discrimination:

    [… R]adical right-wing activist Dave Daubenmire likened being denied service over his refusal to wear a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to a Black person being denied service because of the color of their skin.

    Daubenmire was furious because he had several confrontations the day before with employees at various establishments over his steadfast refusal to wear a mask. […]

    I ain’t wearing no mask, Daubenmire declared. I know the mask doesn’t work, and I’m not going to wear my mask to make the [employee] feel better. I’m not gonna do that. That’s bearing false witness.

    […]

    Kudos to staff who didn’t let the plague carrier enter.

  41. says

    From Wonkette:

    Following the publication yesterday of Jeffrey Goldberg’s Atlantic story about how Donald Trump is a jerk who thinks US soldiers are all idiots and that military cemeteries are full of losers, the Trumposphere leapt into motion. In its usual clumsy attempts to defend the indefensible, the White House pointed out that since Goldberg’s story was based on anonymous sources, it was almost certainly false, because why won’t these sources come forward to face the wrath of the angriest cult of personality in American political history?

    Here’s White House spokesungulate Judd Deere, waggling his horns at you:

    Not a soul brave enough to put their name on any of these accusations. That’s because they are false. Just another anonymously sourced story meant to tear down a Commander-in-Chief who loves our military and has delivered on the promises he’s made. What a disgrace!

    And please never mind that both the Associated Press and the Washington Post were able to quickly confirm Goldberg’s accounts of horrible things Trump has said, because those stories also relied on unnamed sources. Oddly enough, though, for all the Trumpenvolk insisting Donald Trump is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful troop supporter they’ve ever known, there was a distinct non-outpouring of support from one corner: We haven’t yet seen military folks gushing about how wonderful Trump has been to them.

    Now, active-duty folks are aren’t allowed to get political, for good reason, but we aren’t yet seeing any wave of retired generals or admirals coming forward to speak up for Trump. And of course, it was a “senior Defense Department official” who confirmed to the AP’s Jim LaPorta that Goldberg’s story was true “in its entirety.” […]

    Donald Trump his own self denied the story yesterday as he returned to Washington from a superspreader event in Pennsylvania, telling reporters it was all made up by very bad people who were losers and idiots that he’s glad he fired, whoever they were.

    What animal would say such a thing? […] And especially since I’ve done more, I think more than almost anybody, to help our military to get the budgets, to get the pay raises for our military. So I just think it’s a horrible thing that they are allowed to write that. We can refute it. We have other people that will refute it.

    It is a disgraceful situation by a magazine that is a terrible magazine. […] I don’t read it. I just heard about it, but they made it up. Probably it’s a couple of people that have been failures in the administration.

    Trump also took to Twitter, where he said he never cared much for John McCain, but that he had certainly never called McCain a “loser,” no no no, and then people immediately posted video of the 2015 Iowa town hall where Trump called McCain a loser. Let’s remind ourselves of how that actually happened, shall we? [video at the link]

    […] In his Twitter comments, Trump made additional dubious claims; again, we’ll post the text so our poor sad platform won’t eat the tweets:

    I was never a big fan of John McCain, disagreed with him on many things including ridiculous endless wars and the lack of success he had in dealing with the VA and our great Vets, but the lowering of our Nations American Flags, and the first class funeral he was given by our Country, had to be approved by me, as President, & I did so without hesitation or complaint. Quite the contrary, I felt it was well deserved. I even sent Air Force One to bring his body, in casket, from Arizona to Washington. It was my honor to do so. Also, I never called John a loser and swear on whatever, or whoever, I was asked to swear on, that I never called our great fallen soldiers anything other than HEROES. This is more made up Fake News given by disgusting & jealous failures in a disgraceful attempt to influence the 2020 Election!

    He will swear on one of those things people swear on, whatever they’re called. He hears people fall for that shit all the time.

    […] Let’s also recall that Trump didn’t issue any official White House statement on McCain’s death at all, after quashing a draft that called him a “hero.” And also that Trump observed the absolute minimal lowering of the White House flag as prescribed by the Flag Code, for just two days, while flags at the Washington Monument and the Capitol remained at half-staff […] After the predictable uproar, the White House flag went back to half staff.

    Flags at the White House were lowered to half staff this weekend for the passing of John McCain but this morning they are back to full staff.

    There was no official proclamation from President Trump (as he has done in the past for other notable figures passing)

    […] Still, Trump’s bestest friends on his White House staff all vouched for his love for the military, at least for the moment, as some no doubt are negotiating post-presidency book deals.

    On that Atlantic piece: It’s offensive & patently false. @realDonaldTrump holds the military in the highest regard. […]

    […] Very Credible Human Sarah Huckabee Sanders also vouched for what a kind and caring person Donald Trump is, noting that he had actually made phone calls to the families of soldiers killed in action, while whoever Alyssah Farah is noted he “solemnly” signed letters to them, too! And he definitely never called the war dead losers to their families’ faces.

    If you can’t believe Sarah Sanders, by Crom, well you must be someone who was paying attention.

    Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Air Force One last night that he’d spoken to Stephen Miller, who was on the trip to France in 2018 when Trump reportedly called WWI war dead “losers” and “suckers,” and the architect of Trump’s racist immigration policy was quite certain he never heard the Great Man disparage the troops. So there’s a credible supporter, too!

    And former Trump flack Hogan Gidley said some bullshit too, fuck him.

    On the other hand, actual veterans were quick to condemn Trump, as were decent normal human beings, because we’re not a bunch of sociopaths. Here’s former Air Force search and rescue pilot MJ Hegar, who’s running for the US Senate in Texas:

    I’m one of the pilots that got shot down. Our Commander-in-Chief thinks that makes me a loser.

    He thinks the many friends I lost & soldiers I medevac’d were suckers.

    This is disgraceful. @realDonaldTrump is unfit to be Commander-in-Chief.

    Hegar also appeared on the “Rachel Maddow Show” last night, and said she’s “never heard anyone, Democrat or Republican” say such horrifying things about military folks. [video available at the link]

    Retired Navy fighter pilot and astronaut Mark Kelly was disgusted, too; he’s running for Senate in Arizona, seeking the seat formerly held by McCain.

    The president’s words about Senator McCain have always said far more about his own character than the Senator’s. None of it will ever change what he means to the U.S. Navy, Arizona, our country, or me. We remember him as a hero.

    […]

    Link

  42. blf says

    How Will Twitter Ever Survive Without Brenden Dilley’s Dank Tweets?:

    MAGA life coach and proudly amoral right-wing broadcaster Brenden Dilley has been repeatedly suspended from Twitter over the years for spreading misinformation and violating the social media platform’s terms of service. In every instance, Dilley simply created a new Twitter account, which he continued to use to attack his political enemies with lies and disinformation because, as he proudly bragged, he doesn’t give a fuck about being factual.

    Dilley was suspended from Twitter once again last month and he created a new account, but unlike in the past, Twitter quickly suspended that one as well. Subsequently, every time he tried to sneak back onto Twitter, his newly created account was immediately suspended, prompting Dilley to finally give up.

    […] Dilley announced that even though his fans are begging him to get back onto Twitter because he is so amazing at it, he has no intention of doing so because he sees no point in using his genius to help prop up a shitty, disgusting, pedo-filled fucking communist organization through my creativity.

    [… spittle-spouting rant…]

    For the record, Dilley continues to broadcast his daily livestream on Periscope, which is owned by Twitter.

    This is not The Onion!

  43. says

    More excerpts from Joe Biden’s speech:

    […] The economic inequities that began before the downturn have only worsened under this failed presidency. When the crisis started, we all hoped for a few months of a shutdown that would be followed by rapid economic turnaround. No one thought they’d lose a job for good or see small businesses shut down en masse. But that kind of recovery requires leadership, leadership we didn’t have and still don’t have.

    The economic pain remains unrelenting for millions of working people of every race and background. […]

    We all know it didn’t have to be this bad. It didn’t have to be this bad to begin with if the president just did his job. It’s almost like he doesn’t care. It doesn’t affect him because it doesn’t affect him or his class of friends. […]

    Bottom line, Mr. President: Do your job, get off your golf course and out of the sand bunke. Call the leaders together in the Oval Office, sit with them and make a deal. Make a deal that delivers for working Americans.

  44. blf says

    In teh “U”K, Teachers tell parents in England to ignore ‘baseless’ letters on face masks:

    Templates on social media warn of legal action against schools and are ‘threatening’

    Teaching unions have told parents to ignore letters circulating on social media that threaten legal action against schools requiring pupils to wear face masks or use hand sanitiser.

    Lawyers say the threats contained in the letters are baseless, and that the latest government guidance gives schools the power to require masks to be worn when appropriate.

    […]

    One of the notices sent by a parent, and seen by [law firm] Stone King, states: I am deeply concerned at the potential for detrimental health issues from mask wearing, and I serve this Notice of Liability on you to inform you I DO NOT CONSENT to my child being compelled to wear a mask at school and will, if any harm or injury arises from same, hold you personally liable for damages and or injury.

    The letter goes on to make a false claim about the effects of wearing a mask.

    Some of the notices raise fears over the treatment of children displaying coronavirus symptoms, stating: There are powers within the Coronavirus Act 2020 to detain and take away anyone deemed to be infected and I say again, I DO NOT CONSENT to this abuse of unlawful power.

    Another section claims the parent did not allow their child to use the school’s hand sanitiser and would supply their own: I would like to make you aware that some hand sanitisers through excessive use can contribute to eczema, dermatitis and the active chemicals can be absorbed in through the skin and adversely affect health in the long term.

    [Stone King lawyer Laura] Berman said it was unlikely that schools would object if pupils supplied their own sanitiser, or used soap and water.

    […]

    Any allegedly-concerned so-called parent trying to use such rubbish is a clear danger to children (their own and others), and to the teachers at the school, and the families of the children and teachers. The virus doesn’t care about your woo-woo or stoopid “legal” conspiracy theories.

  45. says

    From January 17, 2020: ‘You’re a bunch of dopes and babies’: Inside Trump’s stunning tirade against generals.”

    Washington Post link

    There is no more sacred room for military officers than 2E924 of the Pentagon, a windowless and secure vault where the Joint Chiefs of Staff meet regularly to wrestle with classified matters. Its more common name is “the Tank.” The Tank resembles a small corporate boardroom, with a gleaming golden oak table, leather swivel armchairs and other mid-century stylings. Inside its walls, flag officers observe a reverence and decorum for the wrenching decisions that have been made there.

    Hanging prominently on one of the walls is The Peacemakers, a painting that depicts an 1865 Civil War strategy session with President Abraham Lincoln and his three service chiefs — Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant, Major General William Tecumseh Sherman, and Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter. One hundred fifty-​­two years after Lincoln hatched plans to preserve the Union, President Trump’s advisers staged an intervention inside the Tank to try to preserve the world order.

    By that point, six months into his administration, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had grown alarmed by gaping holes in Trump’s knowledge of history, especially the key alliances forged following World War II. Trump had dismissed allies as worthless, cozied up to authoritarian regimes in Russia and elsewhere, and advocated withdrawing troops from strategic outposts and active theaters alike.

    [The trio] felt that many of Trump’s impulsive ideas stemmed from his lack of familiarity with U.S. history and, even, where countries were located. To have a useful discussion with him, the trio agreed, they had to create a basic knowledge, a shared language.

    So on July 20, 2017, Mattis invited Trump to the Tank for what he, Tillerson, and Cohn had carefully organized as a tailored tutorial. […] The Tank meeting was a turning point in Trump’s presidency. Rather than getting him to appreciate America’s traditional role and alliances, Trump began to tune out and eventually push away the experts who believed their duty was to protect the country by restraining his more dangerous impulses. […]

    [Trump] stepped out of his motorcade, walked along a corridor with portraits honoring former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs, and stepped inside the Tank. The uniformed officers greeted their commander in chief. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph F. Dunford Jr. sat in the seat of honor midway down the table, because this was his room, and Trump sat at the head of the table facing a projection screen. […] Down the table sat the leaders of the military branches […] White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon was in the outer ring of chairs with other staff, taking his seat just behind Mattis and directly in Trump’s line of sight.

    Mattis, Cohn, and Tillerson and their aides decided to use maps, graphics, and charts to tutor the president, figuring they would help keep him from getting bored. Mattis opened with a slide show punctuated by lots of dollar signs. Mattis devised a strategy to use terms the impatient president, schooled in real estate, would appreciate to impress upon him the value of U.S. investments abroad. He sought to explain why U.S. troops were deployed in so many regions and why America’s safety hinged on a complex web of trade deals, alliances, and bases across the globe.

    An opening line flashed on the screen, setting the tone: “The post-war international rules-based order is the greatest gift of the greatest generation.” […]

    For the next 90 minutes, Mattis, Tillerson, and Cohn took turns trying to emphasize their points, pointing to their charts and diagrams. […] how U.S. deployments fended off the threats of terror cells, nuclear blasts, and destabilizing enemies in places including Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, the Korea Peninsula, and Syria. […]

    Trump appeared peeved by the schoolhouse vibe but also allergic to the dynamic of his advisers talking at him. His ricocheting attention span led him to repeatedly interrupt the lesson. He heard an adviser say a word or phrase and then seized on that to interject with his take. For instance, the word “base” prompted him to launch in to say how “crazy” and “stupid” it was to pay for bases in some countries.

    […] South Korea should pay for a $10 billion missile defense system that the United States built for it. […] Trump argued that the South Koreans should pay for it, proposing that the administration pull U.S. troops out of the region or bill the South Koreans for their protection.

    “We should charge them rent,” Trump said of South Korea. “We should make them pay for our soldiers. We should make money off of everything.”

    Trump proceeded to explain that NATO, too, was worthless. […] “They’re in arrears,” Trump said, reverting to the language of real estate. He lifted both his arms at his sides in frustration. Then he scolded top officials for the untold millions of dollars he believed they had let slip through their fingers by allowing allies to avoid their obligations.

    “We are owed money you haven’t been collecting!” Trump told them. “You would totally go bankrupt if you had to run your own business.”

    Mattis wasn’t trying to convince the president of anything, only to explain and provide facts. Now things were devolving quickly. The general tried to calmly explain to the president that he was not quite right. The NATO allies didn’t owe the United States back rent, he said. […] NATO had a nonbinding goal that members should pay at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on their defenses. Only five of the countries currently met that goal, but it wasn’t as if they were shorting the United States on the bill.

    More broadly, Mattis argued, the NATO alliance was not serving only to protect western Europe. It protected America, too. “This is what keeps us safe,” Mattis said. […]

    Bannon interjected. “Stop, stop, stop,” he said. “All you guys talk about all these great things, they’re all our partners, I want you to name me now one country and one company that’s going to have his back.”

    Trump then repeated a threat he’d made countless times before. He wanted out of the Iran nuclear deal that President Obama had struck in 2015, which called for Iran to reduce its uranium stockpile and cut its nuclear program.

    “It’s the worst deal in history!” Trump declared.

    “Well, actually . . .,” Tillerson interjected.

    “I don’t want to hear it,” Trump said, cutting off the secretary of state before he could explain some of the benefits of the agreement. “They’re cheating. They’re building. We’re getting out of it. I keep telling you, I keep giving you time, and you keep delaying me. I want out of it.”

    […] Trump erupted to revive another frequent complaint: the war in Afghanistan, which was now America’s longest war. He demanded an explanation for why the United States hadn’t won in Afghanistan yet, now 16 years after the nation began fighting there in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Trump unleashed his disdain, calling Afghanistan a “loser war.” That phrase hung in the air and disgusted not only the military leaders at the table but also the men and women in uniform sitting along the back wall behind their principals. They all were sworn to obey their commander in chief’s commands, and here he was calling the war they had been fighting a loser war.

    “You’re all losers,” Trump said. “You don’t know how to win anymore.”

    Trump questioned why the United States couldn’t get some oil as payment for the troops stationed in the Persian Gulf. “We spent $7 trillion; they’re ripping us off,” Trump boomed. “Where is the f—ing oil?”

    […] Trump mused about removing General John Nicholson, the U.S. commander in charge of troops in Afghanistan. “I don’t think he knows how to win,” the president said, impugning Nicholson, who was not present at the meeting.
    Dunford tried to come to Nicholson’s defense […] “Mr. President, that’s just not . . .,” Dunford started. “We’ve been under different orders.”

    Dunford sought to explain that he hadn’t been charged with annihilating the enemy in Afghanistan but was instead following a strategy […] to gradually reduce the military presence in the country in hopes of training locals to maintain a stable government so that eventually the United States could pull out. Trump shot back […] “I want to win,” he said. “We don’t win any wars anymore . . . We spend $7 trillion, everybody else got the oil and we’re not winning anymore.”

    Trump by now was in one of his rages. He was so angry that he wasn’t taking many breaths. All morning, he had been coarse and cavalier, but the next several things he bellowed went beyond that description. They stunned nearly everyone in the room, and some vowed that they would never repeat them. Indeed, they have not been reported until now.

    “I wouldn’t go to war with you people,” Trump told the assembled brass.

    Addressing the room, the commander in chief barked, “You’re a bunch of dopes and babies.”

    […] Tillerson in particular was stunned by Trump’s diatribe and began visibly seething. For too many minutes, others in the room noticed, he had been staring straight, dumbfounded, at Mattis, who was speechless, his head bowed down toward the table. […] Tillerson realized in that moment that Mattis was genetically a Marine, unable to talk back to his commander in chief, no matter what nonsense came out of his mouth.

    […] Others at the table noticed Trump’s stream of venom had taken an emotional toll. So many people in that room had gone to war and risked their lives for their country, and now they were being dressed down by a president who had not. They felt sick to their stomachs. […]

    “No, that’s just wrong,” [Tillerson] said. “Mr. President, you’re totally wrong. None of that is true.”

    […] “The men and women who put on a uniform don’t do it to become soldiers of fortune,” Tillerson said. “That’s not why they put on a uniform and go out and die . . . They do it to protect our freedom.”

    […] Standing in the hall with a small cluster of people he trusted, Tillerson finally let down his guard. “He’s a f—ing moron,” the secretary of state said of the president.

    […] The Tank meeting had so thoroughly shocked the conscience of military leaders that they tried to keep it a secret. At the Aspen Security Forum two days later, longtime NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell asked Dunford how Trump had interacted during the Tank meeting. The Joint Chiefs chairman misleadingly described the meeting, skipping over the fireworks.

    “He asked a lot of hard questions, and the one thing he does is question some fundamental assumptions that we make as military leaders — and he will come in and question those,” Dunford told Mitchell on July 22. “It’s a pretty energetic and an interactive dialogue.”

    One victim of the Tank meeting was Trump’s relationship with Tillerson, which forever after was strained. The secretary of state came to see it as the beginning of the end. […]

    Much more at the link.

  46. says

    Follow-up to comment 46.

    Facebook’s spokesperson confirmed in a tweet responding to Rep. Omar that the image has been removed from Facebook.

  47. blf says

    Lynna@54, Wow, just Wow!

    Waaaaaay back in 2016(? 2015?) in this series of threads (and elsewhere) I excerpted an NYT article which I thought back then — and if my recall of its contents is correct, still do now — explained hair furor’s world-view better than anything else I’d seen: Hair furor is an extreme (greedy) rentier who views everything as zero-sum. The quoted description (see @3) “[Kelly] came to realize that Trump simply does not understand non-transactional life choices” reminded me of that 4+ year old analysis. So does hair furor’s rant, as quoted / excerpted in @54: Greedy zero-sum rentier.

    Quick translation / reminder:
    ● “Zero sum” = what is gained by one side is lost by the other.
    ● “Rentier” = gaining profit by monopolizing access.
    That long-ago analysis argued hair furor see everything that way.

  48. blf says

    Donald Trump campaign repeatedly doctoring videos for social media ads:

    […]
    Donald Trump’s presidential [sic] re-election campaign has repeatedly produced manipulated online content over the past week.

    The Trump campaign published a set of Facebook ads that featured the president’s [sic] Democratic rival Joe Biden looking older than the 77-year-old former vice-president is. […] (Trump is 74 years old.)

    […]

    On Monday the campaign’s Trump War Room Twitter account tweeted a manipulated video that appeared to show Biden saying, You won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America. The video was labelled “manipulated media” by Twitter.

    The video was actually a clip of Biden quoting the Trump campaign.

    […]

    Dan Scavino, a longtime Trump aide currently serving as the White House deputy chief of staff for communications, posted a manipulated video that appeared to show Biden endorsing Trump. The video was flagged by Twitter and later disabled on the site. The Washington Post’s factchecker vertical gave the video four pinocchios — the highest rating for an untrue claim or argument. The original tweet got more than 2.4m views.

    The Trump campaign communications director, Tim Murtaugh, told the Washington Post that the video was obviously a parody.

    [… and so on…]

  49. blf says

    From the Gruaniad’s current chief loser & sucker live blog:

    Trump, facing accusations that he disparaged members of the military and the war dead, vowed that the military’s independent newspaper Stars and Stripes would not be defunded.

    His comments come after it revealed that the Pentagon ordered the newspaper to cease publication by the end of the month and to dissolve the organization by January.

    The United States of America will NOT be cutting funding to @starsandstripes magazine under my watch. It will continue to be a wonderful source of information to our Great Military!

    As a reminder, he’s a liar surrounded by wannaba-daleks and other scum. Even if funding is not cut that gang will find a way to neuter the paper. E.g., fire the editor — or put it under the control of VoA (e.g.) so the wanker in charger can fire the staff and turn it into a hair furor propaganda sheet.

  50. blf says

    In the NKofE, teh Abbottoir (see @15 & @44) has now been appointed as “an official UK trade adviser” (Former Australian PM Tony Abbott confirmed as UK trade adviser). An opinion column from an Ozland writer, Brits, take it from an Aussie: If Tony Abbott is your solution, you’ve got big problems:

    Our former PM has not only made deeply sexist remarks, he’s also inept — and unsuited to be anyone’s trade envoy

    It’s true that Tony Abbott was a highly effective opposition leader.

    Between 2013 and 2015, he was involved in enough domestic scandals, international embarrassments and local protests to damage the reputation of a sitting Australian prime minister.

    Alas for Abbott, he was prime minister himself at the time.

    […]

    The task ahead is to skilfully create for Britain a post-Brexit trade environment. The nation must replace a forsaken European common market membership with international exchanges that are profitable, advantageous […]

    I can only imagine someone in the appointment process believed the whole endeavour is destined to fail and only a fool would take the job. In that case, Britain, fair enough: Abbott romps it home on both fronts.

    […]

    Much has been made of Abbott’s reputation for sexism and misogyny — his public insistence that virginity is the greatest gift a woman can give someone, for example. His conviction that women were not suited to leadership. There were sleazy winks and references to a candidate’s sex appeal.

    Should this behaviour have disqualified him from becoming a trade envoy? Yes. But it’s not the only reason. Neither are his statements about Indigenous Australians or his ugly opposition to marriage equality.

    […]

    Abbott is a man whose nuanced contribution to international relations as prime minister was not limited to threatening to shirtfront Vladimir Putin with an Aussie Rules football tackle over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 17. He also dropped a casual comparison to the Holocaust in a speech on the national jobs report. […] He even got the name of Canada wrong (“Canadia”); he was in Canada at the time. Trade adviser?!

    […]

    But Abbott is not only out of the prime ministership but out of parliament itself because he’s not a leader: he’s a neocon ideologue whose political judgment is not only aggressive but woefully inept.

    In his first 100 days in office, Abbott pursued a rightwing thinktank’s wishlist of radical policy initiatives with gusto so cack-handed that middle Australia mobilised mass protest marches within months. The brutality of his poor-punishing first budget so enraged the population that what should have been a friendly centre-right cross bench was provoked into becoming a populist firewall of legislative opposition to his agenda.

    […] .” To appoint Abbott instead does not speak to qualification, or good governance — let alone anything like a desirable outcome. It speaks to “jobs for the boys” ideological loyalty that overrides history, fact and reason. […]

    That’s only a short list of teh Abbottoir’s failings. He also denies the Climate Catastrophe, supported (and expanded?) Ozland’s system of concentration camps for migrants (none located in Ozland) and suggested the EU do the same thing, and doesn’t believe in worker’s rights / protections. He most recently advocated letting elderly Covid-19 patients die rather than spend money / time / effort. Except that he’s no longer PM (and therefore a “loser” (true even when he was PM)), he’d fit right into hair furor’s dalekocrazy.

  51. says

    Reading blf’s #57, I was reminded of the 2016 Commander-in-Chief Forum and how NBC chose serial sexual harasser Matt Lauer to moderate it and how he moderated it exactly as one would expect.

  52. says

    CNN, this week in 2016 – “Critics blast Matt Lauer’s ‘Commander-in-Chief Forum’ performance”:

    …Perhaps most notable were the questions Lauer did not ask of Trump. At an event geared toward national security and military veterans, the NBC co-host failed to ask a single question about Trump’s controversial remarks about Gold Star parents Khizr and Ghazala Khan, Sen. John McCain’s prisoner-of-war status or his deferments from the Vietnam War, among other issues.

    Meanwhile, Lauer was very aggressive in his questioning of Clinton’s emails and her decision to support the invasion of Iraq.

    “If only Trump had attacked that Gold Star family in an email, then it would be newsworthy to Lauer,” Paul Begala, the CNN analyst and Clinton loyalist, wrote mockingly.

    But the greatest criticism was that Lauer asked Trump too many softballs.

    “The way to show Trump isn’t prepared is to ask him specific, detailed questions, not keep saying ‘Are you prepared?’ over and over,” wrote Chait….

  53. blf says

    Follow-up to SC@64, from the Grauniad’s current lying loser & bone spur sucker live blog:

    Jennifer Griffin, a national security correspondent for Fox News, said she has confirmed reporting by The Atlantic with two former senior Trump administration officials.

    One former official told her: “When the President [sic] spoke about the Vietnam War, he said, It was a stupid war. Anyone who went was a sucker.

    More from her thread:

    This former official heard the President [sic] say about American veterans: What’s in it for them? They don’t make any money. Source: “It was a character flaw of the President [sic]. He could not understand why someone would die for their country, not worth it.”

    Regarding McCain, The President [sic] just hated John McCain. He always asked, Why do you see him as a hero” Two sources confirmed the President [sic] did not want flags lowered but others in the White House ordered them at half mast. There was a stand off and then the President [sic] relented.

  54. blf says

    Need to check my keyboard for gremlins.

    Some invaded mine yesterday(?). They’re now gone, you’re most welcome to them.

    (I suspect it was actually dust with a possible touch of overheating. The mildly deranged penguin found a lump of something she ate, claiming it was cheese. It wasn’t! (I won’t go into how this was determined; let’s just say there is a new crater on Mars coated in fresh penguin projected, ah, vomit.) Current hypothesis is it was a fossilised pea or an misplaced horse.)

  55. says

    Jennifer Griffin, Fox News:

    Two former sr Trump admin officials confirm .@JeffreyGoldberg reporting that President Trump disparaged veterans and did not want to drive to honor American war dead at Aisne-Marne Cemetery outside Paris.

    According to one former senior Trump administration official: “When the President spoke about the Vietnam War, he said, ‘It was a stupid war. Anyone who went was a sucker’.”

    This former official heard the President say about American veterans: “What’s in it for them? They don’t make any money.” Source: “It was a character flaw of the President. He could not understand why someone would die for their country, not worth it.”

    I read the source a few quotes from The Atlantic article. This former Trump admin official said, “The President would say things like that. He doesn’t know why people join the military. He would muse, ‘Why do they do it’?”

    Re: trip to mark 100th anniversary of WW I
    Source: “The President was not in a good mood. Macron had said something that made him mad about American reliability and the need perhaps for a European army. He questioned why he had to go to two cemeteries. ‘Why do I have to do two’?”

    President Trump’s staff explained he could cancel (his visit to the cemetery), but he was warned, ‘They (the press) are going to kill you for this’.” The President was mad as a hornet when they did.

    When asked IF the President could have driven to the Aisne-Marne Cemetery, this former official said confidently:
    “The President drives a lot. The other world leaders drove to the cemeteries. He just didn’t want to go.”

    Regarding Trump’s July 4th military parade, during a planning session at the White House after seeing the Bastille Day parade in 2017, the President said regarding the inclusion of “wounded guys” “that’s not a good look” “Americans don’t like that,” source confirms.

    Regarding McCain, “The President just hated John McCain. He always asked, ‘Why do you see him as a hero?” Two sources confirmed the President did not want flags lowered but others in the White House ordered them at half mast. There was a stand off and then the President relented.

    Confirmed by Fox News just started trending on Twitter.

  56. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current lying liar lying looser live blog:

    […]
    A journalist known for his real-time fact-checking of the president’s [sic] statements has a succinct summary of the press conference Trump is doing right now.

    Daniel Dale (@ddale8): “The president [sic] is doing another campaign speech as a White House ‘news conference,’ saying the things he says.”

  57. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    blf #69, The gremlins might be in the bluetooth connection to my keyboard/mouse/touchpad. They are all erratic.

  58. blf says

    @76, Hum, perhaps not the gremlins who feasted on my keypresses yesterday-ish, unless they are omnivores and eat bluetooth (RF) as well as dust.

    One button on my mouse has been erratic for some time now. Probably a different species of gremlin, as it causes extra clicks (sometimes) rather than eating them.

    (The bluetooth in my system works, but the hardware is only detected when the air and system are both very cold (winter-ish near-ish freezing) — very probably some sort of thermal / timing glitch / gremlin. Fortunately, I don’t use bluetooth, and in any case, also have a USB dongle which works just fine.)

  59. says

    Follow-up to blf @75.

    This is from Daniel Dale’s thread:

    Trump said again that he’s done more for veterans than John McCain did.

    Like by getting the Veterans Choice law.

    Which was signed in 2014.

    And co-authored by John McCain.

    Trump again says he did a great job with the VA MISSION Act, saying that “what Obama passed was a joke.”

    Trump, for one of the first times ever, modifies his Veterans Choice claim to make it more accurate – saying, instead of the usual claim that he got Choice, that he did a good job with the VA MISSION Act, which modified/expanded/officially replaced the Choice program.

    Regardless of your views on the quality of the Choice program, I think this is the first time Trump has acknowledged Obama signed it.

    Trump is again denying the Atlantic report. He is now criticizing John Kelly, his former homeland security secretary and chief of staff, as exhausted and unable to handle pressure.

    “We haven’t had any proof yet, but I will take a look,” President Trump says regarding the poisoning of the Russian opposition leader. Then he says he doesn’t know why people are always talking about Russia instead of China.

    All 30 members of NATO including President Trump’s appointed US representative today said in a statement that they “condemn in the strongest possible terms the attack on Alexei Navalny, a Russian opposition figure, with the use of a nerve agent from the banned Novichok group.”

    Asked if he has any actual reason to doubt the conclusion of the German government about the Navalny poisoning, Trump says no he doesn’t, but we haven’t seen the proof ourselves.

    Told that you can’t just take out major US states from the pandemic totals for the US, Trump says, “I’m just saying…”, then repeats how we’d look good if we took out New York.

    Trump is repeating his usual nonsense about how we have so many cases because we do so much testing.

    Asked if he has any actual reason to doubt the conclusion of the German government about the Navalny poisoning, Trump says no he doesn’t, but we haven’t seen the proof ourselves.

    Trump urges people to maintain social distancing on Labor Day weekend. His campaign is asking supporters to use the weekend to “host a MAGA meet-up.”

    Biden isn’t running on a “plan” for a “blanket shutdown.” When talking about how we need to listen to scientists, he was asked what he’d do if the scientists said we need a shutdown because of a future flu-Covid crisis combo. He said that in that case, he’d shut it down.

  60. says

    As Nicole Wallace hosted “Deadline White House” today on MSNBC, she asked David Jolly to comment on Trump’s disparagement of the military and of military families. She asked if Jolly thought that the details presented in The Atlantic article were true. As part of his reply, Jolly noted that the military personnel who had served at the top levels of the Trump administration, (General Kelly, General Mattis, etc.,) were not defending Trump. If there was a way to defend Trump, those Generals would be doing so.

  61. says

    Bits and pieces of news:

    Portland: “A suspect who earlier appeared to admit to the fatal shooting of a man who was part of a pro-Trump caravan in Portland, Oregon, last weekend was himself killed during an attempted arrest on Thursday, officials said.” NBC News link

    Rochester: “Seven police officers involved in the response to a call in which a Black man was put in a hood and later died have been suspended, the mayor of Rochester, New York, announced Thursday.”

    Part of an indefensible pattern: “President Trump on Thursday reiterated his desire to ‘get along’ with Moscow despite an international uproar over the poisoning of the Russian dissident Aleksei A. Navalny with a deadly nerve agent, saying that when the subject of Russia appears on the news, he turns it off.”

    USPS: “U.S. Postal Service police officers barred a Florida congresswoman from scheduled tours at two mail-processing complexes Friday, blocking entry to the facilities and threatening to escort her from the property if she refused to leave.”

    Technically, there are only 25 days remaining before we face another government shutdown: “The Trump administration and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are planning to work together to avoid a government shutdown at the end of September, making an informal agreement to support continuing funding for existing programs without making any controversial changes.”

    NPR spoke yesterday with Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser for the coronavirus vaccine development program, Operation Warp Speed, about the status of vaccines in the U.S. Looking ahead, he said he expects to have “enough vaccine to immunize the U.S. population by the middle of 2021.” When the host said, “That feels a long way away,” Slaoui replied, “Yes.”

    Link

  62. says

    DeVos orders schools to get back to ‘normal,’ mandates federal standardized testing resume

    Betsy DeVos, unbelievably the actually (though barely) confirmed secretary of education for Donald Trump, is one of the handful of Trumpers who’s lasted his whole term so far. It could be because he doesn’t give a damn about education so he hasn’t bothered to notice her, or it could be that she’s horrible enough to keep his favor. That’s the more likely bet.

    Consider her latest: she’s going full-on Trump in coronavirus denial, jumping on the “declare victory” and move on bandwagon. She is enforcing federal standardized testing requirements in grades K-12 this year, never mind the massive disruption the pandemic has created for students and teachers. The testing requirements were waived last spring, but she notified the states by letter this week that it’s not happening again. […]

    Even Republican governors, like Georgia’s Brian Kemp, have asked DeVos to suspend the testing requirements for the 2020-21 school year. Between the pandemic and budget cuts, necessitated by the refusal of Mitch McConnell’s Senate and Trump to provide adequate funding to revenue-starved states, the states need this relief. The Republican superintendent of schools in Georgia, Richard Woods, said in a statement “It is disappointing, shows a complete disconnect with the realities of the classroom, and will be a detriment to public education.”

    […] Teachers are less than thrilled with the mandate as well. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, blasted the decision. “Instead of focusing on the supports our kids need to get back to school safely, or what she can do to help, her first missive to the field is to tell them she is maintaining high stakes testing,” Weingarten said in a statement. […]

    It’s a ridiculous burden to place on states, school districts, teachers, and students this year. The rationale for the cancellation of testing last spring remains true today: “Students need to be focused on staying healthy and continuing to learn.” […]

    The only thing that’s changed from March to now is that Trump thinks his reelection hinges on pretending that the pandemic is over and we can go back to normal. It’s just more cruelty from his administration to force that on children.

  63. blf says

    Follow-up to several previous comments, Trump calls for Fox News journalist to be fired for report on war dead scandal:

    [… T]he Fox News national security correspondent, Jennifer Griffin, who confirmed in a Twitter thread that Trump called soldiers suckers, had questioned why anyone would want to become a soldier and had not wanted to honor war dead at the Aisne-Marne cemetery in France.

    Amid furious denials of the story from the White House and Trump allies, Griffin’s reporting probably touched a nerve as it came from the usually reliably pro-Trump Fox News, whose conservative leanings and pro-Trump opinion show hosts are reliable cheerleaders for the president.

    In a tweet Trump said: Jennifer Griffin should be fired for this kind of reporting. Never even called us for comment. Fox News is gone!

    […]

  64. blf says

    Trump orders crackdown on federal antiracism training, calling it anti-American:

    Memo directs officials to identify spending related to training on ‘critical race theory’ and ‘white privilege’

    Donald Trump has directed the Office of Management and Budget to crack down on federal agencies’ antiracism training sessions, calling them divisive, anti-American propaganda.

    The OMB director, Russell Vought, in a letter Friday to executive branch agencies, directed them to identify spending related to any training on “critical race theory”, “white privilege” or any other material that teaches or suggests that the United States or any race or ethnicity is “inherently racist or evil”.

    […]

    Vought’s memo cites “press reports” as contributing to Trump’s decision, apparently referring to segments on Fox News and other outlets that have stoked conservative outrage about the federal training.

    Vought’s memo says additional federal guidance on training sessions is forthcoming, maintaining that the President [sic], and his Administration[dalekocrazy], are fully committed to the fair and equal treatment of all individuals in the United States [as long as they are either Putin, or else white, wealthy, and contribute to hair furor’s campaign –blf].

    The President [sic] has a proven track record of standing for those whose voice has long been ignored and who have failed to benefit from all our country has to offer, and he intends to continue to support all Americans, regardless of race, religion, or creed, he added. The divisive, false, and demeaning propaganda of the critical race theory movement is contrary to all we stand for as Americans and should have no place in the Federal government.

  65. blf says

    Nearly all Black Lives Matter protests are peaceful despite Trump narrative, report finds:

    In stark contrast to rightwing claims, 93% of demonstrations have involved no serious harm to people or property

    The vast majority of the thousands of Black Lives Matter protests this summer have been peaceful, with more than 93% involving no serious harm to people or damage to property, according to a new report tracking political violence in the United States.

    But the US government [sic] has taken a “heavy-handed approach” to the demonstrations, with authorities using force “more often than not” when they are present, the report found.

    And there has been a troubling trend of violence and armed intimidation by individual actors, including dozens of car-ramming attacks targeting demonstrators across the country.

    The new data [Demonstrations & Political Violence in America: New Data for Summer 2020] on protests and the US government’s response comes from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project (Acled), an organization that has long tracked political violence and unrest in regions around the world, together with Princeton University’s Bridging Divides Initiative.

    Data assembled by Acled has been viewed as a reliable source of information on the death toll in Yemen, civilians killed by governments in Africa and political violence against women, among other conflicts. The organization launched a new “US crisis monitor” project this year, concerned that the US is “at heightened risk of political violence and instability going into the 2020 general election”.

    […]

    Between late May and the end of the August, Acled and Princeton researchers documented 7,750 demonstrations associated with the Black Lives Matter movement in more than 2,000 different locations across the United States, as well as more than 1,000 protests related to Covid-19. About a third of the Covid-19 protests were linked to schools reopening, the report found, all of them peaceful protests. There were also at least 70 documented protests over Covid-19 involving healthcare workers, and at least 37 demonstrations focused on the eviction crisis.

    While the overwhelming majority of all the different kinds of protests tracked over this time were peaceful, the report did find a troubling trend of violence from both government forces and non-state actors.

    Government authorities were more likely to intervene in Black Lives Matter protests than in other demonstrations, and also more likely to intervene with force, like using teargas, rubber bullets and pepper spray or beating demonstrators with batons, the researchers found.

    They documented 392 incidents this summer in which government authorities used force on Black Lives Matter demonstrators.

    Journalists covering Black Lives Matter protests were also met with violence from government forces in at least 100 separate incidents across dozens of states this summer. One journalist was blinded after being hit in the eye with a rubber bullet while covering protests over George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis.

    Violent intervention from government forces did not make protests more peaceful, the report concluded. In Portland specifically, the report found that intervention from federal authorities in the protest “only aggravated unrest”, with the number of “violent demonstrations” rising from 53% to nearly 62% of all events “after federal agents arrived on the scene”.

    Armed individuals were documented at at least 50 protests this summer.

    “Individual perpetrators — sometimes linked to hate groups like the KKK — have launched dozens of car-ramming attacks targeting demonstrations around the country,” the researchers wrote.

  66. blf says

    In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders guilty of insulting Moroccans, says Dutch court:

    […]
    In a case being closely watched ahead of elections next year, the […] leader of the anti-Islam Freedom Party (PVV) had earlier dismissed the case as a political trial and framed it as debate about free speech.

    “The court considers it proven that Mr Wilders is guilty of group insult on March 19, 2014. The court will not impose any punishment or measure on him for this,” judge JM Reinking said.

    […]

    His party is the second largest in the Dutch parliament after the Liberal VVD party of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

    The anti-Islam leader said on Twitter in advance of the verdict that it would decide if the Netherlands had become a corrupt banana-republic where the leader of the opposition is sentenced in a political trial.

    He also complained that the judgement was being handed down at a heavily secured court near Schiphol airport while Moroccans who set our cities on fire usually get away with it and never see the inside of a court.

    The article does not contain any explanation of why there is no punishment, nor why some other guilty verdicts were reversed.

  67. tomh says

    @ #85
    This seems to be the only explanation given by the judge.

    “He’s been paying a high price for communicating his opinion for years,” Presiding Judge Jan Maarten Reinking said, explaining the court’s decision to once again not fine or sentence Wilders to any jail time.

    The public prosecutor had asked for Wilders to pay a 5,000 euro ($5,900) fine.

  68. says

    Cohen: Trump Will Go as Far As ‘Manipulating The Ballots’ To Win Election

    […] Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen said Friday he believes the President will “do anything and everything” to win re-election even if that means “manipulating the ballots.”

    “So Donald Trump will do anything and everything within which to win,” Cohen told NBC News’ Lester Holt in an interview when asked if he though Trump would clinch a victory in the upcoming presidential elections. “And I believe that includes manipulating the ballots,” Cohen said.

    The comments come as the President earlier this week suggested at two different campaign events in North Carolina and later in Pennsylvania that his supporters should commit voter fraud by illegally casting a ballot twice – first submitting an absentee ballot and then appearing at the polls in-person to cast a second vote.

    Cohen who served as President Trump’s personal lawyer and “fixer” said that his former boss would “even go so far as to start a war in order to prevent himself from being removed from office.” […]

  69. says

    Judge strikes down DeVos plan to boost pandemic relief for private schools

    The final ruling strikes down the entire rule as illegal.

    A federal judge on Friday ruled that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ effort to boost the amount of emergency pandemic relief that flows to private school students is illegal and struck down the policy.

    U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich, an appointee of President Donald Trump, ruled that DeVos ran afoul of the CARES Act when she required public schools to send a greater share of pandemic assistance to private school students than is typically required under federal law.

    The judge sided with the NAACP, which had brought the legal challenge against DeVos’ policy, criticizing it as a ploy to divert emergency aid away from needy public schools toward more affluent private-school students.

    Several other judges had already preliminarily blocked DeVos’ rule in certain states, but Judge Friedrich’s ruling — which is final — goes further in striking down the entire rule as illegal. The ruling will apply nationwide. […]

  70. says

    From Wonkette: Boogaloo Bois Arrested For Trying To Join Up With Hamas

    The Right has spent a good deal of this summer clutching their pearls and acting like they are really horrified by violence and trying to pretend like they sincerely think Black Lives Matter and Antifa are terrorist organizations, when the reality is they just wish they could go back to a time when unarmed black people being murdered by cops didn’t even make the news. […]

    A lot of the time, these counterprotesters were Boogaloo Bois. Far-right, Hawaiian shirt wearing, gun toting douchebags who just really want to incite a race war in the United States, in order to give them some meaning in their otherwise empty lives, and who saw the protests as a chance to push the United States in that direction. So far, quite a few Boogaloo Bois have managed to get arrested for various acts and attempted acts of terrorism.

    Via The New York Times:

    Staff Sgt. Steven Carrillo, 32, of the Air Force, was accused by the department of being linked to Boogaloo and using the protests as cover to attack law enforcement. He was charged with murder and attempted murder in June in connection with the shooting death of a federal security officer outside a courthouse in Oakland, Calif.

    That same month, three men suspected of being tied to Boogaloo were charged with conspiracy to cause destruction and throw Molotov cocktails during protests in Las Vegas.

    Now, two more Boogaloo Bois have gotten themselves arrested. Michael R. Solomon, 30, and Benjamin R. Teeter, 22, were taken into police custody on Thursday after trying to join the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. The two reportedly belonged to a Boogaloo Boi subgroup called the Boojahideen, whatever the hell that is supposed to be.

    According to John C. Demers, the head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, the pair had told undercover agents posing as Hamas members that they would like to “join forces and provide support, including in the form of weapons accessories.”

    In its complaint against Mr. Solomon and Mr. Teeter, the Justice Department said that the men told an undercover F.B.I. agent, an F.B.I. informant and other witnesses that members of the Boogaloo Bois and Boojahideen had discussed assaulting police officers in order to further their goal of “overthrowing the government and replacing its police forces.”

    The department said that the men were heavily armed, that they could manufacture unmarked parts for guns, and that they wanted to be “mercenaries” for Hamas to help fund the Boogaloo movement, according to court documents.

    The men also discussed various methods for destroying government monuments and a specific county courthouse. They talked about raiding the headquarters of a white supremacist organization in North Carolina and expressed their desire to target politicians and members of the news media, according to government documents.

    These two decided that it would be a good idea to try to manufacture a bunch of gun parts for a terrorist group, because they felt this would aid them in their plans to start a race war in the United States. They’re basically the Manson family. They could have and would have killed people, as part of this cause that they so desperately believe in — a cause that other supporters have tried to claim is simply “loving the Second Amendment too much,” while insisting that all of the memes about starting another civil war are not supposed to be taken seriously.

    But they really should be.

    Link

    Sounds to me like the Boogaloo Bois are confused about their goals, and about how to achieve those goals. They do, however, all agree that random violence is a good thing.

  71. says

    D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser and Trump go toe-to-toe — and Bowser stands her ground.

    […] There is a narcissistic, vengeful but, at bottom, cowardly and insecure man occupying the White House. There is nothing Trump wouldn’t do to keep the job — to keep flying on Air Force One, comforted by knowledge that on the ground, and at his beck and call, is a stable of fawning suck-ups, including the attorney general and the Republican-controlled Senate.

    All the more reason for D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser and her Democratic counterparts across the country to recognize that they are dealing with something the United States has never seen: a grade-A tyrant with nearly unlimited power.

    Bowser has already gone toe-to-toe with Trump and, thus far, has emerged unconquered. More confrontations are likely, however.

    Trump’s attempt to make Bowser’s life hell began with his demonstrable lie that Bowser “wouldn’t let the D.C. police get involved” with the Secret Service’s handling of public demonstrations taking place at the White House. In fact, during a Bowser-initiated news conference, Police Chief Peter Newsham disclosed that the D.C. Police provided Secret Service officers with equipment they didn’t have. The Secret Service even issued a statement that the D.C. police and the U.S. Park Police “were on the scene.”

    Trump’s accusation sparked a sharp retort from Bowser, characterizing him as hiding “behind his fence afraid/alone . . . just a scared man.”

    So, it should come as no surprise that the mayor was annoyed by Trump’s tweet on Sunday urging her, in the aftermath of several clashes between protesters and police, to “clean up D.C. or the Federal Government will do it for you. Enough!!!”

    Bowser defended the D.C. police, […] she then took aim at the U.S. attorney for D.C. for allegedly failing to pursue dozens of protest-related arrests, including some involving rioting and assaulting police.

    “There hasn’t been a willingness for the U.S. attorney’s office to prosecute them,” she declared. […]

    What followed, over the past few days, was a remarkable federal zig-zag.

    First, acting U.S. attorney Michael Sherwin responded to Bowser with a public rebuke suggesting the problem may have been that the D.C. police made some bad arrests. Sherwin said officers had insufficient evidence to arrest demonstrators who were accused of rioting. Police have arrested supposed “rioters” as a “collective” without evidence that linked criminal conduct to each arrestee, Sherwin said. If true, that’s a constitutional no-no.

    Then the American Civil Liberties Union came down on the side of prosecutors. The legal director of the ACLU of the District of Columbia, Scott Michelman, said in a statement reported by Washington City Paper that Sherwin “rightly calls out D.C. police for arresting people without ‘sufficient probable cause to support any criminal charge.’ ”

    It looks like that federal prosecutor-ACLU alliance caused some heartburn in the Trump administration, which portrays Democratic mayors as being crime softies and weak on police — because within a few days, the acting U.S. attorney reversed gears, walking back suggestions that D.C. police had made bad arrests.
    Following a mid-week meeting with Newsham, Sherwin, having apparently seen the White House light, wrote in a letter to the chief, “you should not take my letter of September 1, 2020, as suggesting that there had been no probable cause for the arrests.” In fact, he told Newsham, his office would “be charging a number of arrestees.”

    Farewell, ACLU; hail, White House.

    All of which is to say, the country has on its hands a selfish, thoughtless, ignorant president with a dark side.
    And Bowser — as well as all Democratic mayors and governors, rank-and-file Democrats and independents, in this election year — need to keep their guard up. […]

    Washington Post link

  72. says

    From Barack Obama:

    It might be Labor Day weekend, but let’s all remember that we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. Wear a mask, practice social distancing, and follow the experts. It’ll save lives.

  73. says

    Satire/humor from Andy Borowitz: Trump Blasts Supporters Who Plan to Vote for Him Only Once

    n a withering critique of his own voters, Donald J. Trump on Thursday blasted supporters who plan to vote for him only once.

    Speaking to reporters, Trump called supporters who intend to cast only one vote for him “disgracefully low-energy,” claiming that they are “like Jeb Bush and Sleepy Joe put together.”

    “I like supporters who have stamina,” he said. “Stamina means you keep voting for me until someone tells you to stop.”

    He said that voters should vote for him once by mail, again in person, and “maybe even more than that.”

    “Let’s say you vote in person,” he said. “Go away, put a mustache or wig on, and try to vote again.”

    Asked about the legality of Trump’s suggestions, Attorney General Bill Barr said, “As Attorney General, I try to stay out of things involving laws.”

    New Yorker link

  74. says

    Sunday shows preview: Election integrity dominates as Nov. 3 nears

    […] Voting by mail has become more popular amid the coronavirus pandemic, with more states adjusting their mail-in voting rules and infrastructure to meet demand. However, the president and other Republicans have been critical of the method, claiming without evidence that it could potentially lead to fraud.

    Meanwhile, cost-cutting measures at the U.S. Postal Service have raised alarm bells for Democrats, who worry the changes will impede the timely delivery of mail-in ballots.

    Secretaries of State and other election officials from the swing states of Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina will all participate in a panel on NBC’s “Meet the Press” this Sunday.

    Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.) is booked on CNN’s “State of the Union” and Symone Sanders, senior adviser to the Biden campaign, is booked on “Fox News Sunday.”

    In Congress, Democrats and White House negotiators are working on the next coronavirus stimulus package as the deadline to finalize government spending looms.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have informally agreed to a clean continuing resolution, which would keep government spending at current levels and avoid a shutdown.

    Mnuchin and White House trade advisor Peter Navarro are booked on “Fox News Sunday” and Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Features,” respectively. […]

  75. says

    GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) on Saturday defended Fox News reporter Jennifer Griffin after President Trump targeted the journalist on Twitter and called for her to be fired.

    Trump went after Griffin, a national security correspondent, after she reported that former officials had backed up some details in an explosive report about Trump published this week by The Atlantic.

    “She’s one of my favorite reporters. Fair and unafraid,” Kinzinger wrote in response to Trump calling for Griffin to be fired. […]

    Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, initially called The Atlantic’s report “deeply concerning” and said in a statement that it left him “speechless.”

    “This is either the most heinous hit job on a president or the most heinous comments made by a president,” he said. “We need more than unmanned sources, as we have been down this road before only to find these ‘sources’ only hear ‘it’ second-hand or ‘it’ never existed. Regardless, I remain hopeful for a direct source to provide more answers here.” […]

    Link

  76. says

    From Kamala Harris:

    [Trump is] looking at an election coming up in less than 60 days, and he’s grasping for whatever he can get to pretend that he’s been a leader on this issue [coronavirus] when he’s not.

    I will say that I would not trust Donald Trump and it would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability of whatever he’s talking about.

    From Senator Chuck Schumer:

    Too much of the evidence points to the Trump administration pressuring the [Food and Drug Administration] to approve a vaccine by Election Day to boost the President’s re-election campaign.

    All Americans want a safe and effective vaccine as soon as possible, but if these important life and death decisions appear political, it will only undermine Americans’ confidence in a vaccine and prolong the pandemic.

  77. blf says

    The Onion, Conspiracy Theorist Worried His Credibility Undermined By Trump Retweeting Him:

    Concerned his beliefs about a shadowy cabal of elites secretly ruling the world would not be taken seriously after they received the president’s endorsement, […] Brett Tisne expressed worry Tuesday that Donald Trump retweeting him would undermine his credibility as a conspiracy theorist. “I’ve spent years of my life researching this stuff, and then out of nowhere the president retweets me and makes me sound like a complete idiot, adding all this nonsense about a plane full of antifa soldiers trying to disrupt the GOP convention,” said Tisne, who rushed out a video to clarify his claims regarding a ring of satanic pedophiles that purportedly controls international affairs, explaining that Trump had obviously not read his work and appeared to have “gone off the deep end” into total paranoia. “If he retweets me again, my career’s over. […] There’s no place in our community for unhinged views like the president’s. None. If we’re not careful, he’ll make us all into laughingstocks.” At press time, reports confirmed Tisne was frantically trying to block Trump on Twitter after discovering the president had sent him a direct message.

  78. blf says

    A snippet from The useful idiots of Brexit only make us less secure, about brexit and the end-of-this-year deadline for a deal (in reality, the deadline is about a month from now so that agreed-on / otherwise-necessary legislation & measures can be put in place (negotiations are currently at a standstill with significant work yet to be done, or perhaps even started)):

    [… I]n the Brexit-voting area of Kent — Dover, Ashford and environs — they suddenly find that contingency plans for guaranteed lorry hold-ups in the event of the impending end-year Brexit, and guaranteed much bigger hold-ups in the event of a no-deal as well, are disrupting the local landscape so that parking space can be provided for held-up lorries.

    I love the quote in the New York Times from Douglas Bannister, chief executive of the port of Dover: “I am very, very confident that there will be no disruption on January 1st, primarily because it’s a bank holiday. But January 2nd may be a different question.”

  79. says

    #Belarus. Happening right now in #Minsk. Despite all military vehicles, blocked streets, threats and detentions, crowds are gathering again for the March of Unity. People came out in cities across #Belarus, such as Mahilou and Homiel. The protests don’t stop. Impressive”

    Thousands of people are rallying right now in the #Minsk city centre. Amazing how quickly they gained their right to the city. Dancing, marching,singing,walking,flashing victory signs at each other – these are not only symbolic acts. It’s very tangible and certain road to freedom”

    #Belarus. This never happened before,not at this scale. Prominent figures were detained,many left,the authorities tried to scare and coerce,and yet dozens of thousands come out to the streets again and again. Their banners are demands: ‘Lukashenko to a police van’ and ‘Tribunal'”

    Videos at the links.

  80. blf says

    ‘A risk to firefighters’: Trump’s drone ban makes it harder to stop wildfires:

    […]
    As wildfires grow in size and frequency, more resources are needed to keep them in check. But experts say a Trump administration directive halting the purchase of new drones jeopardizes the rise of cutting-edge technology, curtailing the ability to manage wildfires and potentially putting more lives in danger.

    In October 2019, the US Department of the Interior grounded its fleet of more than 800 drones and put a freeze on buying new ones due to concerns of Chinese spying. Many of the devices were used in wildfire fighting and prevention, including starting prescribed burns, a key tool in controlling wildfire. The interior department carries out more than 10,000 drone flights a year on average, according to federal documents.

    This year, a shortage of drones has made it more difficult to contain fires raging across the western United States, insiders at the interior department said in an internal memo obtained by the Financial Times.

    […] In [controlled burns …] areas are burnt during cooler seasons to reduce the amount of vegetation and other fuel to prevent larger and hotter fires in the future. Drones have been leveraged for prescribed burns because of their relative safety and ability to fly in dark and smoky conditions.

    […]

    The January[?] directive was part of a growing movement to decrease the use of Chinese drones for security reasons. In May 2019, the Department of Homeland Security warned against using Chinese-made drones and in September 2019, a bipartisan bill was introduced to bar federal agencies from buying Chinese-made drones.

    […]

  81. blf says

    Judge orders US Census Bureau to halt plan to wind down operations:

    […]
    A federal judge has ordered the US Census Bureau for the time being to stop following a plan that would have had it winding down operations in order to finish the 2020 census at the end of September.

    The federal judge in San Jose issued a temporary restraining order on Saturday against the Census Bureau and the Commerce Department, which oversees the agency.

    […]

    The temporary restraining order was requested by a coalition of cities, counties and civil rights groups that had sued the Census Bureau, demanding it restore its previous plan for finishing the census at the end of October, instead of using a revised plan to end operations at the end of September. The coalition had argued the earlier deadline would cause the Census Bureau to overlook minority communities in the census, leading to an inaccurate count.

    In her order, US district judge Lucy Koh wrote that previous court cases had concluded that it is in the public interest that Congress be fairly apportioned and that the federal funds be distributed using an accurate census.

    “Thus, the balance of the hardships and public interest tip sharply in Plaintiffs’ favor,“ Koh said.

    […]

  82. blf says

    Talking about child rapists inside, and protected by, the cult is more dangerous than Covid-19, Pope Francis says gossip is a plague worse than Covid:

    […]
    Pope Francis said on Sunday that gossip is a plague worse than Covid that is seeking to divide the Roman Catholic church.

    Francis strayed from his prepared text in his weekly blessing to reiterate his frequent complaint about gossiping within church communities and the Vatican bureaucracy.

    […]

    Please brothers and sisters, let’s try to not gossip, he said. Gossip is a plague worse than Covid. Worse. Let’s make a big effort: no gossiping!

    Francis’s comments came as he elaborated on a gospel passage about the need to correct others privately when they do something wrong. The Catholic hierarchy has long relied on this “fraternal correction” among priests and bishops to correct them when they err without airing problems in public.

    Survivors of sexual abuse have said this form of private reprimand has allowed abuse to fester in the church and let both predator priests and superiors who covered up for them escape punishment.

  83. says

    That’s one way to cheat: “Louis DeJoy’s rise as GOP fundraiser was powered by contributions from company workers who were later reimbursed, former employees say.”

    Washington Post link

    Louis DeJoy’s prolific campaign fundraising, which helped position him as a top Republican power broker in North Carolina and ultimately as head of the U.S. Postal Service, was bolstered for more than a decade by a practice that left many employees feeling pressured to make political contributions to GOP candidates — money DeJoy later reimbursed through bonuses, former employees say.

    Five people who worked for DeJoy’s former business, New Breed Logistics, say they were urged by DeJoy’s aides or by the chief executive himself to write checks and attend fundraisers at his 15,000-square-foot gated mansion beside a Greensboro, N.C., country club. There, events for Republicans running for the White House and Congress routinely fetched $100,000 or more apiece.

    Two other employees familiar with New Breed’s financial and payroll systems said DeJoy would instruct that bonus payments to staffers be boosted to help defray the cost of their contributions, an arrangement that would be unlawful.

    “Louis was a national fundraiser for the Republican Party. He asked employees for money. We gave him the money, and then he reciprocated by giving us big bonuses,” said David Young, DeJoy’s longtime director of human resources, who had access to payroll records at New Breed from the late 1990s to 2013 and is now retired. “When we got our bonuses, let’s just say they were bigger, they exceeded expectations — and that covered the tax and everything else.”

    Another former employee with knowledge of the process described a similar series of events, saying DeJoy orchestrated additional compensation for employees who had made political contributions, instructing managers to award bonuses to specific individuals.

    “He would ask employees to make contributions at the same time that he would say, ‘I’ll get it back to you down the road,’ ” said the former employee, who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retribution from DeJoy. […]

  84. says

    […] Before “Hoax,” [“Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth,” a book from Brian Stelter] we knew that Fox News executives had no control over the trio of personalities — Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham — who fill out the prime-time hours at the channel. We knew that these folks said what they wanted with little or no editorial interference — a deal they often boasted about on air or in interviews — and that they were governed by no standards and practices guide. All that was clear.

    It’s just more clear thanks to the reporting of Stelter, who spoke with 140 Fox News staffers as well as 180 former staffers and hangers-on for “Hoax.” […] The most scandalous stuff that happens at Fox News — with the exception of a sexual-harassment tradition — gets broadcast to millions of homes every night. Example: “We have a moral obligation to admit the world’s poor, they tell us, even if it makes our own country poor and dirtier and more divided,” said Tucker Carlson in a December 2018 program on the alleged horrors of immigration. That’s only one of hundreds of examples.

    […] the scoops in “Hoax” round out the picture of a corrupt network that bounces from scandal to scandal at the top of the ratings charts. We learn from Stelter precisely how the organization’s MO ground down some of the less-prominent former anchors. We learn that sexism was/is so embedded in the “Fox & Friends” franchise that on slow news days producers skim the affiliates for local stories, favoring those by attractive female reporters. We learn more about Hannity — just how much he confers with the president and the toll that his job as lead propagandist has taken on him […]

    Washington Post link

  85. says

    Texas Sheriff: Five Boats Sank In Trump Supporter Boat Parade, But No Fatalities

    […] Boaters began calling for help “almost immediately” after the procession for Trump’s reelection got underway on a lake west of Austin on Saturday, according to Kristen Dark of the Travis County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies ultimately responded to 15 distress calls and received three other reports of boats taking on water.

    Images of the event show the water of Lake Travis choppy with the wakes of dozens of boats flying American, Texas and “Trump 2020” flags.

    Dark said that weather on the roughly 19,000-acre (7,690-hectare) lake was calm, but that the tightly packed boats created large waves in areas. Deputies have found no evidence of foul play, she said.

    The first call for help came at 12:15 p.m., and later distress calls were for boats taking on water, stalled engines and capsizing, Dark said.

    Three of the boats that sank were towed to shore, while the other two were still at the bottom of the lake, she said. […]

  86. says

    Campaign news about Joe Biden’s transition team:

    Pete Buttegieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and former Democratic presidential contender, is among the newest additions to former Vice President […] Joe Biden’s transition team, according to CNN.

    Buttegieg made history during his presidential run as the first openly gay candidate to launch a serious bid for the presidency. […]

    Now, Buttegieg will be serving on an advisory committee for his former rival, alongside former United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice and Vivek Murthy, the former surgeon general under President Barack Obama.

    Biden is beefing up his transition team as part of laying the groundwork for staffing up the White House if he defeats Trump in November. Of course, even with that preparation, the team will be presented with unprecedented challenges in addition to an ongoing pandemic, an economic crisis, and civil unrest. CNN describes Biden adviser Ted Kaufman explaining that it will be the first virtual transition in history:

    […] “The co-chairs, advisory board, and senior staff are a diverse group of experts who are committed to helping a possible Biden-Harris administration beat the public health crisis and put Americans back to work in good-paying jobs.” […]

    Link

  87. says

    Trump Took Art From Ambassador’s Home in Paris

    […] Trump’s November 2018 trip to France is again in the news because of his canceled trip to a cemetery for fallen Marines and allegations that he disparaged veterans. But Bloomberg reports on another aspect of the trip that raised more than a few eyebrows. After Trump’s cemetery trip was canceled, the president suddenly had a few hours to kill inside the U.S. ambassador’s historic residence in Paris and it seems that during that time he took a particular liking to a few pieces of art. The next day, he ordered a Benjamin Franklin bust, a Franklin portrait and a set of figurines of Greek mythical characters be loaded on Air Force One to go back to Washington with him, reports Bloomberg.

    The ambassador was reportedly surprised by the move but didn’t raise any objections with Trump joking the art could come back “in six years,” when his second term would be coming to an end. Not everyone was happy with the president’s decision as some in the State Department exchanged tersely worded emails with White House officials. But after all the hand-wringing it was decided that the move was legal because the art is government property.

    The White House confirmed the president took artwork from Paris. “The President brought these beautiful, historical pieces, which belong to the American people, back to the United States to be prominently displayed in the People’s House,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in response to questions from Bloomberg News.

    The art was reportedly worth some $750,000 and the White House may have called them “historical” but the truth is that they were fakes and replicas. The figurines that now sit in the Oval Office are from the early 20th century by an artist who was trying to claim they were from the 16th or 17 centuries. The figurines have little value and are really “20th century fakes of wannabe 17th century sculptures,” according to an art dealer. The Franklin bust and portrait were also copies of the originals. White House officials ended up borrowing the original portrait from the National Portrait Gallery and hanging it up in the Oval Office rather than the replica Trump brought back from France.

    Might have been legal, but it was also rude and vulgar.

  88. blf says

    Four years on, has Trump kept his promises? Let’s check (minor formatting changes (not marked), Irish Times edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    ● I will build a great, great wall on our southern border […]
    ● and I will have Mexico pay for that wall […]
    ● We will find them {all undocumented immigrants}, we will get them out. […]
    ● We will also be a country of law and order … The crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon, and I mean very soon, come to an end. Beginning on Jan 20 of 2017, safety will be restored. […]
    ● The most basic duty of government is to defend the lives of its own citizens. Any government that fails to do so is a government unworthy to lead. […]
    ● We’re going to work with all of our students who are drowning in debt to take the pressure off these young people. […]
    ● We will repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare. […]
    ● You’re going to have great health care at a much lower price. It will cost the United States nothing. […]
    ● It is time to drain the swamp in Washington, DC. This is why I’m proposing a package of ethics reforms to make our government honest once again. […]

    […]

    ● We will honour the American people with the truth, and nothing else. […]

    […]

    ● Unlike so many who came before me, I keep my promises. (Speech, February 4th, 2020)
    Well, no.

  89. says

    Trump Claims ‘VERY High Marks’ For COVID Response

    […] Trump patted himself on the back for his widely panned response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has reached a death toll of nearly 189,000 in the U.S. as of Monday morning.

    “Starting to get VERY high marks in our handling of the Coronavirus (China Virus), especially when compared to other countries and areas of the world,” Trump tweeted on Monday.

    [Trump] also claimed that vaccines for the virus “are coming, and fast!”

    According to Johns Hopkins University, 188,979 Americans have died from COVID-19, and there are 6.28 million cases in the country.

    After dragging his feet with regards to looming virus in early 2020, Trump has shown signs of manipulating the government’s response to COVID-19 to boost himself politically, such as attempting to rush the FDA’s vaccine approval process despite safety concerns and finding ways to artificially deflate the number of cases in the U.S.

    From comments posted by readers of the TPM article:

    Unbefuckinglievable
    ————–
    “Very high marks.”
    Yes, you jackass. You are responsible for killing more people with your cluelessly inept response to Covid than anyone. Well done.
    ——————-
    Most beautiful number of deaths. Like you’ve never seen before. People ask me: sir, how did you do it.
    ——————–
    Trump thinks that this tweet is so good, that he already tweeted it twice today.
    ———————–
    This is what it looks like when the president doesn’t give a single, solitary fuck about the country or the well-being of its citizens.
    ——————–
    Senegal snagged the No. 2 slot in a recent analysis looking at how 36 countries have handled the pandemic. The United States landed near the bottom. USA Today link

  90. says

    At last, some good news. The leader of political opposition to Putin, Alexei Navalny, is out of the medically-induced coma and he is responsive.

    Poisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s condition has improved, allowing doctors to take him out of an induced coma, the German hospital treating him said Monday.

    Navalny, a fierce, high-profile critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was flown to Germany last month after falling ill on Aug. 20 on a domestic flight in Russia. German chemical weapons experts say tests show the 44-year-old was poisoned with a Soviet-era nerve agent, prompting the German government last week to demand that Russia investigate the case.

    “The patient has been removed from his medically induced coma and is being weaned off mechanical ventilation,” Berlin’s Charite hospital said in a statement. “He is responding to verbal stimuli. It remains too early to gauge the potential long-term effects of his severe poisoning.”

    It added that the decision to publicly release details of his condition was made in consultation with Navalny’s wife.

    Navalny had been in an induced coma in the Berlin hospital since he was flown to Germany on Aug. 22 for treatment.

    News of his gradual recovery came as German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office indicated that she might be willing to rethink the fate of a controversial German-Russian gas pipeline project — a sign of Berlin’s growing frustration over Moscow’s stonewalling about the case.

    German authorities said last week that tests showed “proof without doubt” that Navalny was poisoned with a chemical nerve agent from the Novichok group. British authorities identified the Soviet-era Novichok as the poison used on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England in 2018. […]

    Link

    Angela Merkel gets partial credit for saving Navalny’s life. Almost immediately she pushed for a medical evacuation of Navalny from Russia to Germany. Trump, meanwhile, did nothing.

  91. says

    What’s driving the conservative push towards violent authoritarianism? Racism. It’s just racism.

    A new study by Vanderbilt University political scientist Larry Bartels suggests that there’s a theme to the escalating conservative willingness to upend democracy in America, discrediting election results and advocating for lawbreaking—and even violence, if necessary. It’s about whiteness. Specifically, it’s about racist conservative fear of nonwhites, and their determination to block nonwhite Americans from upending their “traditional” way of life.

    You know: fascism. As President Dumbass defends a teenage mass shooter who traveled across state lines explicitly for the purposes of murdering American protesters […], it’s not surprising to hear that anti-Black, anti-immigrant, anti-anybody-who-isn’t-white sentiment is the defining force behind conservative premises that our laws and elections may no longer be sufficient, and may have to be restructured by force.

    […] Making ideological distinctions in the population is notoriously difficult, given the complexity of each individual’s positions; Bartels filtered through YouGov poll respondents to isolate “ethnic antagonism” as specific voter disposition, as opposed to partisanship, economic conservatism, cultural conservatism, or other factors. This was scored according to responses to questions such as “discrimination against whites is as big a problem today as discrimination against Blacks and other minorities,” questions that measure white voter anxiety towards other American groups.

    After filtering out those ideological distinctions, Bartels found that “ethnic antagonism” is a better predictor of anti-democratic beliefs than any other category. It’s not economic anxiety or culture war battles that are causing Republicans to increasingly declare that “force” may be necessary to upend the results of elections. It’s racism.

    Bartels even found that the other ideological dispositions, such as economic conservatism, were negatively associated with those authoritarian beliefs. Nope! It’s just the racism. […]

    Trump knows his appeal is based on racism. Trump’s campaign is operating under the assumption that his appeal is based on his racism. Republican lawmakers supporting Trump are standing behind his adventures in racism, and adding their own versions. And we’ve now got yet another study showing that racism, violent racism, is the impetus behind Republican anti-democratic beliefs. […]

    In past years, those anti-democratic and authoritarian sentiments manifested themselves through racial gerrymandering and voter suppression efforts. Trump’s Republican allies have cut straight to the point, however, with suggestions that a November election that does not return Trump to power might not have legitimacy at all. The suggestions are being opportunistically amplified by foreign anti-democratic groups; they are almost certain, now, to cause post-election violence and terrorism.

    You know, from racists. Trump’s most devoted—and dangerous—base.

  92. says

    Widely read COVID-19 forecast predicts that we’re not even halfway through with 2020 deaths

    From the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve been skeptical of the model produced by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. In fact, I may have gone to pretty good lengths to say that the model was not worth following, simplistic, and consistently wrong. That’s because the model isn’t really a model at all—not in the usual epidemiological sense. It’s just a curve-fitting algorithm that is highly subject to minor changes in the existing dataset.

    […] I’m going to take another look at the IHME projection. Because last week it made a horrific change in its numbers, and it’s worth understanding why.

    In the first few weeks of the pandemic, the IHME numbers were literally all over the place. When the site was first used in a coronavirus task force meeting, it indicated more than 200,000 Americans would die. A couple of weeks later, the number was 60,000. Not so long after that, it crept up to 80,000. Then 100,000. And for some months it seemed that every time the existing prediction was updated, it would add just enough to stay ahead of the numbers of people who had already died, while never adding enough to account for even a few weeks of real-world data.

    As a predictive tool it was absolute crap […]

    Still, over time the numbers on the projection have become more stable. Which is only to be expected as, horrifically enough, the United States appears to have settled into a plateau where 40,000 new cases and 1,000 deaths in a day is all too typical. […]

    So anyone checking in on the top line of the IHME model last week might have been shocked to see that the numbers increased from the previous projection of 317,000 American deaths to 410,000 deaths. What happened?

    […] two of the three lines they project going forward suggest that things will get significantly worse between now and the end of the year. That’s because while states that fueled the first pool of cases in the United States continue to keep COVID-19 under improving levels of control, at least 10 states—Idaho, Utah, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, Virginia, West Virginia, Illinois, and Iowa—are still in the “ramping up” phase of the outbreak

    In addition, since the last time the numbers were adjusted, there have been no motions that even suggest that government, state or federal, is taking more effective action. Instead, business restrictions continued to be lifted, mobility levels continue to increase, and “mask use continues to decline.” On top of everything else, testing rates have plummeted. That rate of new cases is hugely deceptive, because some states are testing at rates that are fractions of where they were at peak, and even smaller fractions of where they should be. […]

    What all of this means is that, horrible as the 190,000 Americans now dead may seem, the IHME model—a model that has consistently undersold the disaster ahead—is now saying that more Americans will die between now and when we can finally throw away the 2020 calendar, than have died through the entire pandemic to this point.

    And that’s their good prediction, the one that assumes continued attempts at control by state government, continued masks mandates, and continued social distancing. If those restraints are taken away, the IHME numbers suggest 620,000 dead by Jan. 1.

    The IHME model has been pretty terrible at predicting where this thing is going. Let’s just hope that, for the first time all year, their numbers are too high.

  93. says

    ‘A tale of 2 recessions’: As rich Americans get richer, the bottom half struggles.

    The trend is on track to exacerbate dramatic wealth and income gaps in the U.S., where divides are already wider than any other nation in the G-7.

    The path toward economic recovery in the U.S. has become sharply divided, with wealthier Americans earning and saving at record levels while the poorest struggle to pay their bills and put food on the table.

    The result is a splintered economic picture characterized by high highs — the stock market has hit record levels — and incongruous low lows: Nearly 30 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits, and the jobless rate stands at 8.4 percent. And that dichotomy, economists fear, could obscure the need for an additional economic stimulus that most say is sorely needed. […]

    Democrats are now seizing on what they see as an opportunity to hit [Trump]on what had been one of his strongest reelection arguments.

    “The economic inequities that began before the downturn have only worsened under this failed presidency,” Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Friday. “No one thought they’d lose their job for good or see small businesses shut down en masse. But that kind of recovery requires leadership — leadership we didn’t have, and still don’t have.”

    Recent economic data and surveys have laid bare the growing divide. Americans saved a stunning $3.2 trillion in July, the same month that more than 1 in 7 households with children told the U.S. Census Bureau they sometimes or often didn’t have enough food. More than a quarter of adults surveyed have reported paying down debt faster than usual, according to a new AP-NORC poll, while the same proportion said they have been unable to make rent or mortgage payments or pay a bill.

    And while the employment rate for high-wage workers has almost entirely recovered — by mid-July it was down just 1 percent from January — it remains down 15.4 percent for low-wage workers, according to Harvard’s Opportunity Insights economic tracker.

    “What that’s created is this tale of two recessions,” said Beth Akers, a labor economist with the Manhattan Institute who worked on the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush. “There are so obviously complete communities that have been almost entirely unscathed by Covid, while others are entirely devastated.” […]

  94. says

    An update on the Khashoggi case:

    Eight people believed to have been among more than a dozen Saudi agents sent to the country’s consulate in Turkey where they were accused of killing Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi were convicted Monday and sentenced to prison terms.

    The Washington Post reported that the unnamed defendants were sentenced to a variety of prison terms ranging from seven to 20 years, with prosecutors calling the case against those involved against the Khashoggi killing finished.

    The ruling Monday comes after two top aides to the Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), were acquitted last year after Saudi prosecutors linked them to the murder. Bin Salman’s involvement in the killing was widely suspected due to Khashoggi’s frequent criticism of the Saudi government and MBS in particular in his writings.

    Monday’s end to the case also comes after a former Saudi intelligence official poured gasoline on the criticism against MBS earlier this year with an explosive lawsuit accusing MBS of sending a hit squad to Canada in the hopes of killing him, adding that FBI agents warned that he could be pursued within the U.S. as well. […]

    Link

  95. says

    Oh, the stupidity. It burns.

    Gender-Reveal Party Sparked One of the Massive California Wildfires

    As wildfires rage in California amid record-breaking temperatures in the state, officials said one of the fires was started during a gender-reveal party. A “smoke generating pyrotechnic device” is to blame for sparking the El Dorado Fire in San Bernardino County, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said. It is one of the 23 major fires burning in California.

    The El Dorado Fire began Saturday morning at the El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa and then spread north. It has since burned though more than 7,000 acres and forced the evacuations of 3,000 people. “With the dry conditions and critical fire weather, it doesn’t take much to start a wildfire. Those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially and criminally responsible,” reads the statement from Cal Fire.

    Around 15,000 firefighters are working to battle the California wildfires amid a record heatwave that is pressuring the power grid and is threatening to leave millions without electricity. The cause of the El Dorado blaze may raise a few eyebrows but it’s hardly the first time that the practice of expectant parents announcing the sex of their soon-to-be-born child in an explosive fashion ends in tragedy. […]

    Officials have called on people to really think twice before using any kind of explosive to announce the sex of their baby. And many say it’s time to retire the practice altogether […]

  96. says

    From the Washington Post editorial board: “Four more years of Trump’s contempt for competence would be devastating.”

    […] Trump thinks he knows better than anyone, but not because he actually knows very much. His 2016 campaign was run from the gut, under the explicit rationale that “experts are terrible” and that whatever someone with a degree and years of experience could do in any area of government, he could do better relying on instinct. His White House has conducted itself according to this philosophy, to devastating effect.

    From debt to taxes to renewable energy to trade to jobs to infrastructure to defense, the president has declared himself the best informed in all the land. […]

    The best sort of expert, in Mr. Trump’s view, is the kind with no independent judgment at all. “My function, really, as an economist is to try to provide the underlying analytics that confirm his intuition,” White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has said. He continued: “And his intuition is always right in these matters.” […]

    The so-called adults in the room in the early days of this term have left and written books about how unpleasant it was to be in that room. Often it didn’t matter anyway, because this president rarely listens and almost never reads. He has been called “unbriefable.” […]

    The intelligence community has been a particular casualty, being responsible for issuing the verdict the president least wants to hear, or least wants others to know: that Russia helped him in the 2016 election and is working for him again this year. […]

    The Justice Department has suffered, and the State Department, as a former ambassador and former undersecretary said, has seen “the most significant departure of diplomatic talent in ages.” […]

    The complete lack of interest in performing essential functions well has had immediate costs: When the administration agreed, under pressure, to reunite the children it was keeping in cages at the border with their parents, it couldn’t — because it hadn’t bothered to keep close enough track of the parents to find them. […]

    Today, Americans are feeling the effects of a government at an utter loss as a disease ravages the country. The problem is bigger than one missing directorate, or one rebuffed scientist: The response to this outbreak required coordination across agencies that have been systematically depleted, because they were full of experts.

    While the pandemic represents the most immediately lethal consequence of the know-nothing president’s disdain for know-how, an even greater danger looms. Mr. Trump conducted his campaign crowing that climate change was a “hoax,” and he acted on this inanity by withdrawing the United States from the Paris accord. […] Four more such years would mean the loss of even more livelihoods and lives than the coronavirus is claiming today.

    […] This isn’t only about a few respected senior officers and the immediate risk to security posed by their unceremonious dismissal. It’s about the future — about the workers who will calculate that fealty is more important than honesty, and about the “countless more talented young Americans” who “will decide that federal service, indeed public service, is not a worthy calling.”

    All these manifestations of deliberate ignorance come together in a disdain for gathering information at all. When his own government produced an assessment that global warming left unaddressed would ravage the U.S. economy, Mr. Trump said, “I don’t believe it.” Maybe to avoid a repeat of this inconvenient news, the EPA has written a rule giving itself permission to ignore good science by restricting the type of research it considers usable. […] Emblematic is Mr. Trump’s insistence that more covid-19 testing creates more cases. This, of course, isn’t true. More testing would reveal cases where they already exist, making it possible to try to understand the disease’s course and arrest its spread.

    But the degradation of data collection serves one obvious purpose: If we don’t gather information, we cannot see the depth of Mr. Trump’s failures. […]

    Washington Post link

  97. says

    […] Trump said [today] that he would support a potential investigation into allegations that embattled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy used to push former staff at his old firm to donate to Republican candidates while he was CEO.

    During a press briefing at the White House, Trump told reporters that he doesn’t “know too much” about the scandal but asserted that DeJoy is a “very respected man.”

    “Sure,” Trump replied with a shrug when a reporter asked if he would support an investigation into the postmaster general, who is already under scrutiny over his record as a Trump donor and his “restructuring” of the U.S. Postal Service that have delayed operations.

    “Let the investigations go,” Trump added. “But he’s a very respected man.”

    Asked if DeJoy ought to lose his job if it’s proven that he was engaging in a campaign finance scheme, the President said yes.

    “Yes, if something can be proven, that he did something wrong, always,” Trump said before he began complaining about the FBI’s investigation probe into his 2016 campaign.

    On Sunday, the Washington Post published accounts from five former employees at New Breed Logistics, DeJoy’s former company, alleging that DeJoy and his top staffers had asked them to write checks for his massive fundraisers for GOP candidates. He would later allegedly reimburse them in the form of bonus checks, which is illegal, according to the ex-employees.

    Monty Hagler, a spokesman for DeJoy, told the Post that the postmaster general “believes that he has always followed campaign fundraising laws and regulations.”

    Link

    From comments posted by readers of the article:

    Oh, look. DeJoy under DeBus. Quelle surprise.
    ————
    Trump is the only incumbent presidential candidate who would welcome an investigation of a corrupt underling two months before a general election just to avoid having to firing him.

    But I suppose Trump is promising DeJoy a pardon just in case, just so long as he keeps doing what he was tasked to do from the beginning: sow electoral chaos.
    ——————
    All angry old white men in business suits look alike. That’s why Trump color-marks himself with orange paint. To stand out.
    —————-
    Maybe Trump figured out the PO shutdown ploy blew back in his face and he is going to hang DeJoy out to dry to punish him for not getting it done. On 20 Jan at 12:01 PM, Biden needs to demand the resignation of or just fire the entire board of directors for the PO and his AG needs to start an investigation into their activities (among hundreds of others throughout the government).

  98. says

    Trump was all bluster and blather as he spoke from the White House today.

    Here is pretty good summary:

    […] Trump held a Labor Day press conference at the White House and gave a speech that largely ticked off all the boxes: False claims about how well he’s handling the pandemic, rants about China “ripping off” the U.S., and fearmongering about “Democrat-run” cities.

    At the end of the presser, Trump expanded on his threat to somehow yank funding from public schools that incorporate the New York Times’ 1619 Project, which focuses on the legacy of slavery […]

    “I’m not a believer in cancel culture,” the President told reporters, invoking a phrase that has essentially lost all meaning as conservatives rail against moves toward social progress. In a blaring dog whistle, Trump claimed “we” grew up with “a certain history,” and accused the 1619 Project of “trying to change our history.” […]

    Link

    Trump’s comments about the 1619 project are clearly racist, and are clearly from the White Supremacist point of view.

  99. says

    Here are a few more details regarding the bombast that Trump spewed today:

    While going off on Black Lives Matter protests, Trump bragged about preventing the removal of an Andrew Jackson statue, which he described as “so beautiful.” “It’s right over there,” he said, gesturing at it with his head.

    Trump doubled down on his excuse that he had not visited the cemetery in 2018 because of poor weather that would’ve make helicopter use too risky.

    “I understand helicopters very well,” he claimed.

    Trump denied once more that he had called the late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) a “fucking loser” after McCain died but still emphasized how much he disliked the senator.

    “Am I supposed to say ‘What a wonderful guy?’” the President asked.

    Trump tells the first reporter asking him a question to take his mask off, telling him that he’s “very muffled.” The reporter rebuffed him.

    “I’ll just speak a lot louder,” the reporter said, raising his voice. “Is that better?”

    “It’s better, yeah,” Trump huffed.

    Trump demanded that Democratic rival Joe Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) “immediately apologize” for “the reckless anti-vaccine rhetoric.”

    Last week, Kamala cast doubt on Trump’s hard push to approve a COVID-19 vaccine right before Election Day, echoing concern that he was doing so for political reasons while spreading disinformation.

    “I would not trust Donald Trump and it would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability of whatever he’s talking about,” she told CNN. “I will not take his word for it.” […]

    I agreed with Kamala Harris. I wouldn’t take Trump’s word for anything.

    Another interesting tidbit:

    Fox News correspondent Jennifer Griffin just reported that according to senior Trump officials who accompanied Trump on his trip to Paris, the President commented that the Vietnam War was a “stupid war” and that “anyone who went was a sucker.”

    “What’s in it for them? They don’t make any money,” Trump reportedly said.

    Trump has said that Jennifer Griffin should be fired.

  100. says

    Barry Mauer, a lecturer in the Texts and Technology Department at University of Central Florida, wrote a letter to his Republican neighbors.

    To my Republican neighbors:

    The election is coming and there is a growing possibility you will kill me and my family because we are liberals and leftists. I want you to promise not to kill us and I want you to do it now.

    Maybe you think you would never kill anybody; think again. Stanley Milgram’s research showed that roughly two-thirds of the population can be manipulated by authority figures to kill another person. Historian Daniel Goldhagen showed that exposure to eliminationist rhetoric (messages that dehumanize groups of people and seek to eliminate them) convinces ordinary people to join killing squads or to support the killers or at least to turn the other way while the killing is happening. Behavioral scientists, such as Joshua Epstein, showed that ordinary people can be triggered to initiate a massacre. A triggering event (a news story, a false report, a rumor) creates an “agent-zero”: the first person to start a massacre. Once agent zero acts, others copy the action, creating a cascade of murder.

    If you are a conservative or right winger, you have been primed for years to fear and hate liberals and leftists. Maybe you believe liberals are attacking Christianity or planning “white genocide.” Maybe you follow Q (QAnon), and believe liberals are part of a shadowy plot led by pedophiles. Alex Jones is telling his huge audience that “Maoists” are gathering “explosives and weapons and trucks loaded with ammonium nitrate and chlorine gas” to wage war against them. “The best thing to do in a defensive way,” he says, “is kill as many of them as quickly as possible.”

    97% of all terrorist acts in the U.S. are carried out by people with right-wing ideologies. The FBI now considers QAnon among the largest terror threats in America. Right-wing militia groups such as 3 Percenters, Oath Keepers, Boogaloo Boys, Wolf Pack, and Sovereign Citizens have been increasingly active. Republicans own hundreds of millions of deadly weapons and have been “prepping” for war. Dozens of right wingers have attacked crowds of protesters with their vehicles.

    We are not coming to kill you. We are not planning to steal the election. We are not loading trucks with bombs. We are not a cult of pedophiles. Busloads of antifa are not coming to your town. Most liberals and leftists are not armed. We prefer fair elections, peaceful protests, reason, and compassion to violence.

    Your side is planning to kill us and is enlisting your help in the killing. For years, you have been told that liberals and leftists are threatening you and everything you hold dear. Trump has accused Biden of being “against God” and said he “will hurt the Bible.” These completely invented accusations are meant to provoke fear, rage, and revenge. You are being led to kill your neighbors. You need to stop. Go no further down this dark path. You are a few steps away from committing atrocities. Don’t do it.

    Best,
    Barry

    Link

  101. says

    On debate over economic aid, Trump is still flubbing the basics

    As Trump sees it, Democrats want to hurt him by blocking an economic aid package. That’s the opposite of what’s actually happening.

    […] with Labor Day over and Congress returning to work, is there any reason to believe an economic aid package may yet come together? At a press conference yesterday, a reporter asked the president why he doesn’t at least try to negotiate with congressional Democratic leaders on a possible deal. Trump replied:

    [L]et me just tell you: I know my customers; that’s what I do. I know Pelosi, I know Schumer very well. They don’t want to make a deal because they think it’s good for politics if they don’t make a deal…. I don’t need to meet with them to be turned down. They don’t want to make a deal because they know that’s good for the economy. And if they make a deal that’s good for the economy, and therefore it’s good for me for the election in November 3rd, and therefore they’re not going to make a deal.”

    WTF? Democrats in the House passed an economic aid package in May. Republicans in the Senate refused to take it up. Pelosi, Schumer and other Democrats have been pushing hard for economic aid for months. And “customers”? Trump’s brain malfunctioned again.

    Putting aside the odd reference to “customers,” this train of thought may appear to have a certain logic to it: if Democrats refuse to approve an aid package, the economy will suffer, and if the economy suffers, voters might punish the incumbent president. Ergo, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have an incentive to reject an agreement that would give the economy a significant boost.

    The trouble, however, is that Trump has all of this precisely backwards. If Democrats were trying to sabotage the economy, they wouldn’t have taken the lead on crafting the CARES Act in March; they wouldn’t have passed an even more expansive HEROES Act in May; and they wouldn’t have sat down at the negotiating table, pressing White House officials to invest more in the economy.

    No one in the nation’s capital seems more focused on doing what’s “good for the economy” than the Democrats who’ve actually passed an aid package that would be good for the economy. Whether the president is unaware of these developments or simply lying to the public is unclear.

    For his part, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) this morning announced plans to unveil a new, “targeted” economic bill today, which he said would come to the floor for a vote “as soon as this week.”

    By all appearances, this is intended as theater: the GOP leader wants to give the appearance of doing meaningful work, even if this new measure does little to move policymakers closer to an actual agreement.

    McConnell’s bill will need 60 votes to advance, and as things stand, it’s not yet clear if it even enjoys the support of all 53 Senate Republicans.

    Complicating matters, Congress will soon wrap up its pre-election work — members who’ll be on the ballot want to be in their home states and districts, not on Capitol Hill — creating a narrow window for progress, which appears to be closing.

    Yeah, so, in other words Congress critters will be leaving again soon. It seems like they are absent more than they are at work.

  102. says

    On a vaccine, Trump is over-promising and under-delivering (again)

    Trump believes he’s playing the role of “cheerleader” by making false and unrealistic pandemic promises, such as saying there may be a vaccine next month.

    When it comes to a coronavirus vaccine, Donald Trump has spent much of the year struggling with the basics. In March, for example, the president hosted a White House meeting with pharmaceutical executives, at which Trump said he expected a vaccine to be developed in two or three months. Everyone at the meeting tried to explain why that couldn’t happen, but [Trump] filtered out inconvenient details.

    Two months later, [Trump] switched gears, announcing that a vaccine wasn’t especially important. “I feel about vaccines like I feel about tests: This is going to go away without a vaccine,” Trump said in May. “It’s going to go away.”

    [Trump] now seems to realize that waiting for coronavirus to simply disappear “without a vaccine” is folly, so he’s back to making unrealistic assessments about a medical breakthrough.

    […] Trump again suggested that a coronavirus vaccine would “probably” be available in October, contradicting assessments this week by top health officials who have said it would be very unlikely. Trump said in a press briefing Friday that there would be a vaccine “before the end of the year and maybe even before Nov. 1. I think we can probably have it sometime in October.

    In other words, as far as the president is concerned, it’s not unrealistic for Americans to think we’ll have a COVID-19 vaccine next month.

    Last week, NPR spoke yesterday with Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser for the administration’s vaccine development program, and he said he expects to have “enough vaccine to immunize the U.S. population by the middle of 2021.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, is a bit more optimistic, but even he doesn’t see October as feasible.

    […] It reminded me of an exchange from the spring, after Trump assured the public that “within a couple of days,” the number of coronavirus cases in the United States would drop “to zero,” as a result of the “good job” he said his administration was doing. Asked in April to defend his spectacular error, Trump told reporters, “[Y]ou have to understand, I’m a cheerleader for this country…. I think a president has to be a cheerleader for their country.”

    The unscripted comments represented an important peek behind the curtain. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the president has offered Americans all kinds of assurances. […] Trump may believe that if he just keeps making bogus promises, maybe he can instill a sense of optimism in a country tempted to give in to despair. […]

    The trouble, of course, is that reality keeps getting in the way, and once the president’s promises fall short, his “cheerleading” has the opposite of the intended effect: […] The Associated Press’ Calvin Woodward had a related analysis a while back on the White House casting “a fog of promises meant to reassure a country in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic,” but then failing to deliver on critical ones.

    […] Trump has apparently learned nothing about the hazards of over-promising and under-delivering.

    This is more than a lament about a president with a strained relationship with the truth. […] when a populace can’t trust their chief executive to tell the truth about a crisis, no one, including the president himself, benefits.

    Postscript: At a weird press conference yesterday, Trump accused Democrats of “reckless anti-vaccine rhetoric.” That’s not even close to being true, and given [Trump’s] record of actually reckless anti-vaccine rhetoric, the whole line of attack is quite ironic.

  103. says

    Trump simply cannot find a way out of all the news covering the fact that he denigrates military service and those who serve. In his desperation, he is throwing more shit at the wall to see what sticks. His latest gambit is to portray Pentagon leaders as corrupt war mongers. This reveals how his mind works. If he were a top honcho in the Pentagon, he would be a corrupt war monger.

    [Trump] held a Labor Day press conference in which he accused his own country’s military leaders of being beholden to defense contractors.

    I’m not saying the military is in love with me; the soldiers are. The top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy. But we’re getting out of the endless wars.

    […] as strange as it was to see Trump malign the U.S. military during a press conference in which he insisted he doesn’t malign the U.S. military, that wasn’t the only problem. [Trump’s] unscripted comments generated three key questions:

    1. “The soldiers” are “in love with” Trump? According to the latest Military Times poll, they’re really not.

    2. Is Trump standing up to the Military Industrial Complex? It was amusing to see the president make the case that he’s unpopular among Pentagon leaders because he stands up to defense contractors, since the truth is the exact opposite. Trump did, after all, name a Raytheon lobbyist as his current Defense secretary, and arms manufacturers have had extensive access to power players in the Republican administration.

    For that matter, Trump has spent much of his term bragging to anyone who’ll listen about how much money he’s thrown at the Pentagon, celebrating “the bombs and the planes and everything else.”

    MSNBC’s Chris Hayes added, “It drives me nuts to watch Trump attempt to position himself as some kind of anti-war president when he has expanded U.S. bombing and civilian casualties in basically every theatre of combat.”

    3. Is Trump getting the United States “out of the endless wars”? A Washington Post fact-check piece recently explained, “While there have been some relatively minor shifts in distribution — and since 2017, the Defense Department no longer includes troops in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq in its unclassified, published tallies — the overall total of those serving abroad is believed to have slightly increased since Barack Obama left office.”

    Taken together, Trump’s incoherent boasts are only impressive to those who haven’t paid close enough attention to the details.

    Link

  104. says

    Trump even lies about the small stuff:

    Reuters correspondent Jeff Mason’s refusal to take off his mask at President Donald Trump’s request during the White House’s Labor Day press conference apparently still rankled Trump on Tuesday morning.

    The President retweeted a screenshot posted by GOP operative Arthur Schwartz that purported to show Mason holding a white mask, though the reporter was not wearing a coat and scarf on Monday and his mask was black.

    “Same guy that didn’t want to take off his mask yesterday in asking a question while being very socially distanced,” the President wrote. “Fake News!” [Photo at the link.]

    On Monday, Trump began his Q&A by demanding that Mason, who was in the middle of asking a question, take off his mask.

    The reporter told Trump he would “speak a lot louder.”

    “Well, if you don’t take it off, you’re very muffled,” the President replied. “So if you would take it off, it would be a lot easier.”

    “I’ll just speak a lot louder. Is that better?” Mason asked at a higher volume.

    “It’s better, yeah. It’s better,” Trump said with a huff.

    Link

    Maybe Trump’s hearing is failing. That, and he has an irrational hatred of masks.

  105. says

    Follow-up to comment 126.

    Trump’s “huff” is funny. You can see and hear it in the video. And it’s pathetic that he felt he had to tweet about it the next day. Other people commented on this:

    It’s always funny when someone tells him no and it turns out he can’t do anything about it.
    ———————-
    Temper, temper, temper the little, little child man could not get his way, temper, temper, temper.
    ————————
    Look at the photo, how long do you think he can hold his breath?
    Until he gets his way?
    ———————
    Good LORD that man is such a little toad…he still doesn’t understand WHY people wear masks…and then in the same breath touts how HE AND ONLY HE has done more for COVID than anyone else in the whole WORLD.
    ——————–
    Well he has done more for COVID. Ain’t done shit for anyone else, except for himself and spawn.
    ———————
    Well this isn’t the first time that Trump has asked a reporter to remove their mask, JFC the photo is from earlier this year, 05/12/2020. “effing fool can’t do a Google image search, or thinks the rest of us can’t?
    ——————–
    It’s amazing how intimidated and upset it makes him to see anyone wearing a mask during a pandemic. It genuinely bothers him. I imagine that’s because seeing people masked up is an intrusion into his little bubble where the virus response is going perfectly and the economy is roaring along like never before. While it’s certainly not news that the president is delusional, it’s always a little shocking every time you are hit in the face with another example of the depths of his delusion
    ————————–
    This is what President Donald J Trump does all day. He watches TV, tweets, eats, and then yells at reporters. He is unwell..

  106. says

    From Michael Cohen:

    Everyone other than the ruling class on earth was like an ant, to his way of thinking, their lives meaningless and always subject to the whims of the true rulers of the world.

    The cosmic joke was that Trump convinced a vast swath of working-class white folks in the Midwest that he cared about their well-being. The truth was that he couldn’t care less.

    Sounds right.

    Rachel Maddow will interview Cohen tonight.

  107. says

    What’s going on with immigrant children who are being detained? And what does the court say?

    A U.S. district judge has ordered the Trump administration to stop detaining asylum-seeking children at hotels as part of its Stephen Miller-led policy using the novel coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to quickly expel them. The judge ruled that these children are being deprived of vital protections under a decades-old court settlement and must be transferred to licensed facilities, as is the policy.

    The pandemic, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee said according to BuzzFeed News, “is no excuse for DHS to skirt the fundamental humanitarian protections that the Flores agreement guarantees for minors in their custody, especially when there is no persuasive evidence that hoteling is safer than licensed facilities.” But while the administration will now be largely blocked from this abhorrent practice of using hotels as baby jails, Miller’s expulsion policy remains, which means children will continue to be quickly—and unlawfully—kicked out.

    “According to court documents, as of July 31, at least 660 children have been detained in hotels by ICE, and 577 of them were unaccompanied immigrant children,” BuzzFeed News continued, including Quality Suites, Hampton Inns, Comfort Suites Hotel, Best Western, and Econo Lodge locations in numerous states. Zenen Jaimes Perez of advocacy group Texas Civil Rights Project (TCRP) said that under Miller’s policy, “no one is being afforded due process,” calling locations “a black box of information.” […]

    children are still being quickly expelled in violation of anti-trafficking law, many being disappeared without a trace.

    The administration had claimed that its policy was going to be temporary, but that was of course a lie. In May, the administration announced the order had been extended indefinitely, saying it would review circumstances on a monthly basis. But then on the same day as Gee’s ruling, the administration published a rule “finalizing the border ‘expulsion’ regulation first put into place on an interim basis in March and enshrining into regulation the right to block refugees,” American Immigration Council’s Aaron Reichlin-Melnick tweeted.

    “This regulation makes it clear that the CDC is fully complicit with the Trump administration’s use of the COVID-19 pandemic to turn away refugees,” he told CBS News.

    […] “We know that at least two entire FLOORS are being used to detain people before they are illegally expelled,” Perez continued at the time. “Our government is running a black-site in McAllen, TX to circumvent federal and international protections for asylum seekers.”

    The administration has already been sued over the expulsion policy by advocacy groups including the American Civil Liberties Union. In what could be the final months of this administration, it’s now rushing to make this despicable policy as permanent as possible—and as difficult as possible for a Biden administration to presumably attempt to overturn.[…] “The administration is hoping that everyone doesn’t pay attention given everything that’s going on.

    Link

  108. says

    Update on the COVID-19 fallout from the Sturgis event.

    […] The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, which took place the first week of August, worried health professions around the world as hundreds of thousands of attendees from all different parts of the country went maskless, drank, and reveled—and guess what? Wearing T-shirts that read “Screw COVID. I went to Sturgis” didn’t stop them from spreading COVID-19 in a massive way. A new study entitled “The Contagion Externality of a Superspreading Event: The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and COVID-19,” by the IZA Institute of Labor Economics found that the 10-day event can be tied to 250,000 coronavirus cases.

    According to the study, which used anonymized cellphone data from the rally where around 500,000 people congregated, there were a “total number of cases to 266,796 or 19 percent of 1.4 million new cases of COVID-19 in the United States between August 2nd 2020 and September 2nd 2020,” connected to the rally. IZA estimates that the costs of this event to the public will be over $12 billion. It is important to note that to reach this number, researchers worked under the conservative assumption that all of these new cases were nonfatal. The researchers explain that the conservative nonfatal modeling is in order to give a general ballpark figure for public officials to work with. We already know that people have died as a direct result of COVID-19 exposure at the Sturgis rally.

    Researchers also pointed out that the states and localities where some of the spreaders from the rally returned were able to mitigate the spread locally. But those examples were solely in places actually implementing public safety measures like masks, social distancing, and early testing and quarantining. Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, a Trump death cult member, promoted how everything was “back to normal” in South Dakota, welcoming the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally to her state and helping spread death across the country.

    Link

  109. says

    Follow-up to comment 125.

    Responses to Trump’s comments are coming in.

    War is ‘a last resort,’ Army chief says after Trump’s comments

    McConville acknowledged today’s “political environment,” but noted that the military needs to remain an “apolitical organization.”

    The Army’s top general defended military leaders on Tuesday after […] Trump accused them of going to war to keep defense contractors “happy,” saying he and others take the decision to send troops into combat “very, very seriously.” […]

    “I’ve talked with generals, I’ve talked with admirals, I’ve talked with [sergeants major] … many of these leaders have sons and daughters who have gone to combat or may be in combat right now. So I can assure the American people that senior leaders would only recommend sending troops to combat when it’s required in national security, or as a last resort,” McConville said during an event held Tuesday by Defense One. “I feel very strong about it.” […]

    The general’s comments mark the Pentagon’s first public response to Trump’s remarks during a combative White House news conference on Monday, in which he said “top people in the Pentagon” probably aren’t “in love with me” because “they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.” […]

  110. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s lying losers current live blog (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    Trump said that he was considering spending his own money on his presidential campaign […].

    If I have to, I will, the president [sic] told reporters when asked about using his own money to fund his reelection bid. Whatever it takes, we have to win.

    Trump’s comments come as his cash advantage over Biden has evaporated in recent months. The Democrat raised a record-shattering $364.5 million last month, while the Trump team has not yet released its August fundraising numbers.

    The New York Times published a story over the holiday weekend explaining how the president’s campaign lost its fundraising edge over Biden:

    Under {former campaign manager Brad} Parscale, more than $350 million — almost half of the $800 million spent — went to fund-raising operations, as no expense was spared in finding new donors online. The campaign assembled a big and well-paid staff and housed the team at a cavernous, well-appointed office in the Virginia suburbs; outsize legal bills were treated as campaign costs; and more than $100 million was spent on a television advertising blitz before the party convention, the point when most of the electorate historically begins to pay close attention to the race.

    Among the splashiest and perhaps most questionable purchases was a pair of Super Bowl ads the campaign reserved for $11 million, according to Advertising Analytics — more than it has spent on TV in some top battleground states. It was a vanity splurge that allowed Mr Trump to match the billionaire Michael R Bloomberg’s buy for the big game.

    There was also a cascade of smaller choices that added up: The campaign hired a coterie of highly paid consultants (Mr Trump’s former bodyguard and White House aide has been paid more than $500,000 by the RNC since late 2017); spent $156,000 for planes to pull aerial banners in recent months; and paid nearly $110,000 to Yondr, a company that makes magnetic pouches used to store cellphones during fund-raisers so that donors could not secretly record Mr Trump and leak his remarks.

  111. blf says

    Belarus opposition leader ‘ripped up passport at Ukraine border’ (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    The Belarusian opposition figure Maria Kolesnikova ripped up her passport in order to avoid being deported from her own country, according to a Ukrainian minister and media reports.

    On Monday, masked men kidnapped Kolesnikova from the centre of Minsk and drove her away. Two of her opposition colleagues also vanished. The three activists were later driven to the Alexandrovka border with Ukraine in a car that arrived at about 4am on Tuesday.

    Kolesnikova refused to cross the border and deliberately ripped up her passport, according to local sources. “When attempting to deport her, she tore her passport and could not be allowed into the territory of Ukraine by border guards,” a source told Interfax-Ukraine agency.

    The latest repression against opposition figures in Belarus came as a group of Russian journalists, including the editor-in-chief of Russia Today, Margarita Simonyan, flew into Minsk for Lukashenko’s first interview since he declared a controversial victory in a presidential election a month ago.

    […]

    Roman Babayan, one of the Russian journalists at the interview, wrote on Telegram that Lukashenko said he will not step down, saying his supporters would be attacked […]

    Lukashenko also ruled out dialogue with a coordination council, set up by the opposition, of which Kolesnikova is one of a seven-person presidium. Authorities have been systematically tageting its leaders in recent weeks.

    Ukraine’s deputy interior minister, Anton Gerashchenko, posted on Facebook that Kolesnikova had successfully prevented “a forcible expulsion from her native country”. “It wasn’t a voluntary trip,” he wrote, calling Kolesnikova “this brave woman”.

    The activists with her — Anton Rodnenkov and Ivan Kravtsov — were in Ukraine, officials in Kyiv confirmed. The Belarus state Belta news agency said Kolesnikova was pushed out of the car, which continued without her across the Ukraine border. Belarusian guards then appear to have recaptured Kolsenikova. The exact sequence of events at the border and her whereabouts were unclear.

    “Kolesnikova has now been detained. I can’t say concretely where she is, but she has been detained,” Anton Bychokovsky, a Belarus border guard spokesperson told Reuters. “She was detained in connection with the circumstances in which they {the group} left the territory of Belarus.”

    […]

    She was seized on Monday along with at least three other members of the coordination council, which was set up to seek a peaceful transfer of power […].

    Speaking to the Guardian before her kidnapping, Kolesnikova said her civic actions were not part of a political programme. “I just want to do it as a citizen,” she said. She mentioned harassment from the authorities including being followed and minibuses “lurking outside” her campaign headquarters.

    […]

    Germany and Britain have demanded answers over Kolesnikova’s whereabouts. […]

    […]

    The masked men who snatched Kolesnikova on Monday drove her away in an unmarked minivan in what appeared to be part of a targeted attempt by the authorities to wipe out the protest movement. It was unclear who abducted Kolesnikova.

    Her colleague Rodnenkov reportedly disappeared about 40 minutes after confirming Kolesnikova had gone missing. Police in Minsk were cited by Russia’s Interfax news agency as saying they had not detained her.

    […] Another leading activist, Olga Kovalkova, arrived in Poland on Saturday, saying she had been told she would face arrest if she stayed in Belarus.

  112. blf says

    Trump’s White House rally fails to evoke adulation from stony-faced reporters:

    […]
    After turning the south lawn into a convention stage last month, Donald Trump held a surprise press conference-cum-campaign event on Monday at the White House’s front door — where Jackie Kennedy wore black on the day of JFK’s funeral, and where the Obamas greeted their successors on inauguration day.

    On a glorious late summer’s day, Trump’s vantage point behind a presidential lectern at the north portico afforded him a view of former president Andrew Jackson’s statue in Lafayette Square and, beyond that, the newly minted Black Lives Matter Plaza. Give him a second term in November, and perhaps he’ll install a golden escalator like the one he descended in at Trump Tower to launch his first campaign.

    Despite the lofty surroundings, the president [sic] dropped all pretense of rising above the political hurly-burly. Over 46 minutes, he branded his Democratic presidential election rival, Joe Biden, stupid, falsely accused Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris of peddling anti-vaccination conspiracy theories, and unleashed a torrent of half-truths and non-truths.

    But unlike the loyalists on the south lawn for the convention speech, or the devotees who gather at Trump’s increasingly frequent airport-hangar rallies, there was a stony silence from mask-wearing reporters […]

    […]

    Biden and Harris should immediately apologise for the reckless anti-vaccine rhetoric that they are talking right now, talking about ‘endangering lives’, Trump charged, after Harris said she would rely on the decisions of public health officials and medical experts for news on a Covid-19 vaccine rather than the president [sic].

    It undermines science, and what happens is all of a sudden you’ll have this incredible vaccine and because of that fake rhetoric, it’s a political rhetoric, that’s all that is, just for politics, Trump said.

    He added later: The numbers are looking unbelievably strong, unbelievably good. So now they’re saying, ‘Wow, Trump’s pulled this off, OK, let’s disparage the vaccine.’ That’s so bad for this country. That’s so bad for the world to even say that, and that’s what they’re saying.

    Yes, the man who said the coronavirus would just disappear, suggested injecting bleach as a cure and dismissed the climate crisis as a hoax accused his opponents of undermining science. Perhaps Neil deGrasse Tyson should moderate the first presidential debate later this month.

    Despite the White House trappings, this was a campaign event in disguise. Biden and the radical socialist Democrats would immediately collapse the economy, Trump warned darkly. You’ll have a crash the likes of which you’ve never seen before.

    Biden wants to demolish the energy industry, he went on ever more fancifully, and will cause more electricity blackouts in California. He wants to have things lit up with wind.

    […]

    After more than 20 minutes of darkness, doom and fearmongering, the president [sic] said, rather unconvincingly, Happy Labor Day, everybody! and then took questions, trying and failing to get the first reporter to remove his mask (If you don’t take it off, you’re very muffled [see Lynna@121]).

    Naturally, Trump was asked about the Atlantic magazine’s report that he had disparaged dead soldiers as losers and suckers. Though several former Trump administration officials have said the report chimes with their knowledge, the president [sic] described it as a totally made-up story and demanded: Who would say a thing like that? Only an animal would say a thing like that.

    […]

    Then someone lit the blue touchpaper by asking about the Russia investigation. They spied on my campaign, and that includes Biden and Obama! Trump fumed, suddenly animated by the conspiracy theory. If we did what they did, you would have many people in jail right now.

    […]

    Four years, think of it. For four years. From the day I came down the escalator, I’ve been under investigation by sleaze. And they found nothing. They found nothing. A friend of mine said you have to be the most innocent, honorable man to ever hold the office of president.

    […] Standing at the front door of the White House two months before election day, the president sounded like a desperate man, as if firing a machine-gun in all directions like Al Pacino’s Tony Montana under siege at his luxury mansion in Scarface. The election might go the same way.

    The above is an actual news article in the Grauniad (technically, a political sketch).

  113. says

    blf @133, that is so scary. Hard to imagine how brave Kolesnikova has had to be. She lives in a country where an authoritarian leader had her kidnapped.

    In other, but somehow related, news: Trump finds new ways to carry water for Russia’s Putin

    If the Kremlin had written a script for the American president to follow, would it have sounded any different from what Trump said on Friday?

    More than two weeks after being flown to Germany for medical treatment, Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny’s condition is reportedly improving. Though doctors in Berlin said he’d been the victim of a “severe poisoning,” Navalny is apparently no longer in a medically induced coma, and he’s now responsive.

    As a political matter, however, there’s a broader debate about the proper response to the attack against him. Late last week, NATO members endorsed Germany’s conclusion that Navalny was poisoned with a military-grade Russian nerve agent. And given that Navalny is Vladimir Putin’s principal political foe, few questioned who bore responsibility for what happened.

    And yet, late last week, there was Donald Trump, who’d said effectively nothing about the attack on Navalny, fielding a question from a reporter about how the international community and the United States should respond to the apparent attempt on Navalny’s life.

    [Trump’s] response talked about North Korea. Then Hillary Clinton. Then Afghanistan. Then the Middle East. Then German energy policy. Eventually, he was willing to say:

    “So I don’t know exactly what happened. I think it’s — it’s tragic. It’s terrible. It shouldn’t happen. We haven’t had any proof yet, but I will take a look.”

    Asked about his doubts over the evidence that’s already been presented, Trump added:

    “It is interesting that everybody is always mentioning Russia. And I don’t mind you mentioning Russia, but I think probably China, at this point, is a nation that you should be talking about much more so than Russia….”

    He went on to tell reporters how much he “gets along” with his counterpart in Moscow.

    In other words, Putin’s government is accused of trying to kill a Russian opposition leader, sparking outrage from our Western allies, and Donald Trump (a) is skeptical of the evidence; (b) wants to change the subject; and (c) touts his closeness with the Russian autocrat. […]

  114. blf says

    One hospitalised after Navalny allies targeted with chemical agent:

    An intruder smashed a bottle containing a chemical fluid in the campaign office of allies of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in the Russian city of Novosibirsk on Tuesday, forcing them to evacuate the premises, opposition activists said.

    Three people were treated by medics and at least one was taken to hospital, said Sergei Boyko, an opposition politician and ally of Navalny […].

    Boyko, who is running for the city council of Novosibirsk in Siberia in an election on Sunday, said it was unclear what substance had been thrown in the campaign office but that police had said it was not toxic.

    Boyko’s election campaign group described it as a chemical that was caustic and foul-smelling.

    […]

    Boyko is one of a number of Navalny supporters running in local elections across Russia at the weekend.

    […]

  115. says

    Conflicting messages from Team Trump:

    “Biden has been debating for a half-century. He is very good. Part of the reason he is very good is that he gives the same answers over and over again to questions for the last 30 years.” That’s from Jason Miller a senior advisor to Trump’s campaign.

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    Two days later, Team Trump told its supporters that the president will “DESTROY” Biden in the debates.

    And therein lies the problem. Trump and his allies have spent months telling the public that Biden is old and addled, hiding in his basement, unable to speak in complete sentences. Team Trump is also now telling the public that Biden is a “very good” debater, whom the president will “destroy.”

    Or put another way, with the first debate three weeks away, the Republican operation seems indifferent to the fact that it’s building Biden up and knocking him down at the same time.

    For his part, the president has recently begun pushing the line that the candidates should be subjected to drug tests before the debate — a line Trump also pushed four years ago. Last week, [Trump] added that Biden is “on some kind of an enhancement” that makes him a better debater.

    This is ridiculous, of course, but it’s also apparently part of some weird effort to set expectations.

    Over the course of the next few weeks, the absurdities are almost certain to get worse.

    Link

    See also blf’s comment 134, citing the fact that Trump recently described Biden as “stupid.”

  116. says

    Follow-up to blf @132.

    It seems hard to believe, but a fascinating New York Times analysis found that Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has already spent more than $800 million — and plenty of the expenditures are highly dubious.

    Ah, yes, members of Team Trump are scamming the Trump campaign and scamming each other. It’s a circular grifting operation.

  117. blf says

    Lynna@135, “Hard to imagine how brave Kolesnikova has had to be.”
    Yes, that took nerve. Notice how supportive of her the Ukrainian authorities are, e.g., “this brave woman”.

    And a follow-up to @133, a snippet from France24, Belarus opposition figure Kolesnikova detained at Ukraine border:

    On Saturday, a top associate of Tsikhanouskaya, Olga Kovalkova, also moved to Poland after the authorities threatened to keep her in jail for a long time if she refused to leave the country.

    Kovalkova said agents of the Belarusian State Security Committee put her into a car, where she was told lie on the floor, unaware where they were taking her. She was dropped off in no-man’s land between the Belarus and Poland border, and Polish border guards asked a bus driver driving into Poland to take her on board.

    The efforts to make opposition activists leave the country come amid a criminal probe against members of the Coordination Council. Belarusian prosecutors have accused them of undermining the country’s security by calling for talks on a transition of power. Several council members were arrested and some others called for questioning.

  118. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] In his new book Cohen finally admits that the cuckold photographs were the lever for the endorsement. He claims – and I think this is entirely plausible – that he didn’t have to explicitly threaten to out the Falwells. To put it in Trumpian terms, when you’ve got the photos, they let you do it.

    We now know, inasmuch as there was any continuing doubt, that the alliance between Donald Trump and evangelical Christianity was birthed in an extortion plot in which Trump and his fixer, Michael Cohen, called in their favor for keeping the Falwells’ swinger lifestyle out of the tabloids.

    It also adds weight to a more general observation, which is the centerpiece of my upcoming book: secrets and extortion are the heart of Trumpism and indeed ties it to the larger global authoritarian movement from which it sprang and which it now leads.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/michael-headfaked-me

  119. says

    From Wonkette: “Mitch McConnell Can’t Wait To Blame Democrats For Killing Crap Stimulus GOP Might Not Even Support.”

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning to force a vote on a “skinny” stimulus bill this week, mostly because he knows it’s unlikely to win any Democratic support, and then Republicans can campaign on how Democrats aren’t even “helping” with coronavirus relief. Because presumably Republicans are dumb enough to argue that opposing a near-useless bill is some very ugly partisanship on the part of Democrats.

    In an attempt to win over Republicans who think there’s been too much help for non-corporate Americans already, McConnell’s little bill would only provide about $500 billion in aid, roughly half of what many GOP senators considered extravagant in the last-minute dog’s breakfast of a proposal McConnell put out in August. McConnell never even brought that mess to the Senate floor for debate. By scheduling a quick vote on this newest wholly inadequate measure, McConnell hopes he can get 51 votes — enough to say “Republican unity,” but well short of the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster by Democrats. That will help America a lot, since unlike last month, Donald Trump wouldn’t be blaming Dems for Republicans’ refusal to agree with each other. He could accuse Dems of refusing to take even a bite of the yummy shit sandwich on offer.

    Reuters this morning reported that the actual amount in the proposal will come to less than a third of the August proposal, just $300 billion, to be paid for with leftover CARES Act funds and change found in the seats of B-2 Stealth bombers.

    As you’ll recall, roughly a million years ago, in May, House Democrats passed a comprehensive stimulus bill that would have picked up where the CARES Act left off. […] Then, with the CARES Act about to expire at the end of July, McConnell tried to get his own party to agree on the outlines of a new plan, but Senate Republicans didn’t wanna.

    Democrats said they’d be willing to agree to big cuts in their May plan, as long as there was real relief for Americans, like extending emergency unemployment; helping state and local governments whose tax bases had been nearly wiped out by the economic shutdown; and radical Democrat priorities like rent assistance, COVID-19 testing, nutrition programs, and making sure Americans could vote without contracting a disease that’s still killing us. […] Republicans said they were through negotiating until after the August recess, and then blamed Democrats for politicizing the pandemic that Republicans don’t think is necessarily real to begin with.

    So what’s in the new, “skinny” aid bill? Not much! As the Washington Post details, it would extend temporary unemployment benefits of just $300 a week (half of the amount in the CARES Act) until the end of the year, provide a new round of loans for small businesses, and provide a pittance of $10 billion for child care, plus another $10 billion for the post office. There might be some funding for coronavirus testing and schools, too. But no second round of checks to American families, no help for renters and landlords, no additional food assistance, and no help to state and local governments.

    But you’d better bet your ass it includes McConnell’s “red-line” item, a big fat grant of legal immunity for companies, hospitals, and others, protecting them from liability for actions that led to people becoming infected. People must be personally responsible for their health, and that means companies don’t have to take any responsibility at all.

    McConnell may not even get all 51 Republican senators on board with his crappy bill […]

    In a letter to Democratic senators, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said last week that McConnell and Republicans, “… may call their proposal ‘skinny,”;but it would be more appropriate to call it ’emaciated.’
    Their proposal appears to be completely inadequate and, by every measure, fails to meet the needs of the American people. […]

    if Republicans would get on board with helping Americans stay in their homes, feed their families, and actually support the economy, a lot of credit might even go to Donald Trump, and a bunch of Republicans looking for reelection this year could brag about having helped. But that would require doing something […]

    https://www.wonkette.com/mcconnell-stimulus-bill

  120. says

    From Aaron Blake, writing for the Washington Post:

    The White House is in full denial mode about the damning report first published last week in the Atlantic that […] Trump had repeatedly denigrated members of the military and the nation’s war dead.

    But as allies — and one prominent erstwhile ally — stepped forward to offer versions of events similar to the line touted by the White House, it’s worth emphasizing that not all denials are created equal. Some address only specific aspects of the report, while leaving open the possibility that others are true or that such things were said at other points. Others vouch for Trump while very notably declining to address anything specific.

    Since Monday, the White House has emphasized comments by two people in particular: Zach Fuentes, a top former White House aide and ally of John Kelly, and John Bolton, the former Trump national security adviser who wrote a scathing tell-all about his time in the White House. Let’s look at what they and others have said.

    […] Fuentes told Breitbart that he didn’t speak with the Atlantic and that he believed the anonymous sources behind the reporting “are unlikely first hand accounts.”

    And here’s Fuentes’s key claim: “I did not hear POTUS call anyone losers when I told him about the weather. Honestly, do you think General Kelly would have stood by and let ANYONE call fallen Marines losers?”

    Breitbart hailed this as Fuentes “unequivocally” denying the Atlantic’s report. But the denial is hardly a complete one, and something else Fuentes said is raising eyebrows.

    First, it’s worth noting that “I did not hear” is not the same as “it didn’t happen.” It’s admittedly difficult to offer a full denial unless you were with Trump the entire time, but many of the denials have been in this vein, which technically allows that the comments might have transpired while the deniers were out of earshot.

    Second, Fuentes says he didn’t hear Trump call anyone losers “when I told him about the weather” — weather that the White House blamed for an aborted Trump trip to a military cemetery in France. But the Atlantic’s story doesn’t directly connect Trump saying these things to a moment in which he was informed about weather. Instead, it alleges that Trump rejected the visit because he worried about how his hair would look in the rain and because he didn’t feel it important to honor the war dead. […]

    the report [does not] say Kelly was present for the “loser” comment, which Fuentes claims Kelly would never countenance. Instead, Kelly comes up later in the Atlantic’s story, in an allegation about a separate scene from 2017, in which Trump reportedly made a disrespectful comment about service members while visiting the gravesite of Kelly’s son, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010.

    And then there’s the intriguing part of Fuentes’s supposedly “unequivocal” denial.

    “They are conflating those people from something the day after” the aborted cemetery visit, Fuentes told Breitbart. He added in another statement to CNN, “Whoever the sources are, they are unlikely first hand accounts, and they are conflating stories.”

    Those repeated comments about conflating stories are intriguing. Were there other similar conversations that Fuentes was aware of that didn’t technically come the morning of the aborted cemetery visit? Unfortunately, Fuentes has yet to elaborate on that, and he said, “I don’t think it is my place to divulge private conversations.” […]

    Washington Post link

    More at the link.

  121. says

    Vaccine CEOs issue safety pledge amid Trump’s quest for pre-election approval.

    Nine chief executives issued an extraordinary joint statement Tuesday seeking to bolster faith in coronavirus vaccine.

    Washington Post link

    The chief executives of nine drug companies pledged Tuesday not to seek regulatory approval before the safety and efficacy of their experimental coronavirus vaccines have been established in Phase 3 clinical trials, an extraordinary effort to bolster public faith in a vaccine amid […] Trump’s rush to introduce one before Election Day.

    “We believe this pledge will help ensure public confidence in the rigorous scientific and regulatory process by which covid-19 vaccines are evaluated and may ultimately be approved,” the executives wrote in their joint statement. The Wall Street Journal first reported Friday that a statement from the companies would be forthcoming.

    The statement included a vow that the companies would “only submit for approval or emergency use authorization after demonstrating safety and efficacy through a Phase 3 clinical study that is designed and conducted to meet requirements of expert regulatory authorities such as FDA.” […]

    The statement left open the door for the use of partial data from the massive Phase 3 vaccine trials — which require the participation of at least 30,000 test subjects — to seek emergency-use authorization. Such trials typically take years to complete and require lengthy follow-up to see how long protection from a vaccine may last.

    The executives signing the pledge included the leaders of AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Moderna, and Novavax, as well as those heading two joint vaccine projects, Pfizer and BioNTech, and Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline. […]

  122. says

    Trump just said the corrupt part out loud — with a bullhorn.

    Washington Post link

    For weeks now, scientists inside and outside the government have been warning that […] Trump will corrupt the vaccine vetting process and make some sort of coronavirus vaccine-related announcement before Election Day, producing an “October surprise” to salvage his ailing campaign.

    Now Trump himself just put it all out there, openly confirming these intentions as clearly as anyone could possibly ask for.

    At Sunday’s press briefing, Trump blasted Joe Biden and Kamala D. Harris for suggesting Trump would politicize the vaccine process. The former vice president and the senator from California each had said scientists should be trusted over Trump on any vaccine announcement made before the election.

    “They’re going to make the vaccine into a negative,” Trump insisted, adding that Biden and Harris had decided to “disparage the vaccine.” Trump then said this: “We’re gonna have a vaccine very soon. Maybe even before a special date. You know what date I’m talking about.”

    In so doing, Trump explicitly tied the vaccine to his reelection schedule. Yet, remarkably, the question of whether Trump is politicizing this process is still being treated as one that’s up for debate, even though he shouted the corrupt part out loud, as he so often does, only this time with a bullhorn.

    Indeed, some media coverage is already both-sidesing away the full import of Trump’s extraordinary claim. On “CBS This Morning,” an anchor said this:

    Democratic nominee Joe Biden claims President Trump uses politics instead of science to guide the federal government’s response. The president, meanwhile, says his opponent is questioning vaccine research.

    Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that the vaccine has become a campaign “flashpoint,” noting the skepticism expressed by Biden and Harris, while reporting that Trump “accused” Biden of “disparaging” for “political purposes” the possibility of a vaccine this year. Politico called all this a “blame game.”

    In this rendering, simply because Trump charged that Biden and Harris are the ones politicizing the process, that puts this whole matter into a laundering machine of sorts, spitting out a result in which the two sides are equivalently maneuvering for political advantage. […]

  123. blf says

    In Utah, Police shoot 13-year-old boy with autism several times after mother calls for help (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    Golda Barton told KUTV she called 911 to request a crisis intervention team because her son, who has Asperger’s syndrome, was having an episode caused by “bad separation anxiety” as his mother went to work for the first time in more than a year.

    “I said, ‘He’s unarmed, he doesn’t have anything, he just gets mad and he starts yelling and screaming,’” she said. “He’s a kid, he’s trying to get attention, he doesn’t know how to regulate.”

    She added: “They’re supposed to come out and be able to de-escalate a situation using the most minimal force possible.”

    Instead, she said, two officers went through the front door of the home and in less than five minutes were yelling get down on the ground before firing several shots.

    […]

    As activists call for police resources to be reallocated toward public health initiatives, some cities have shifted emergency response strategies.

    I think like the term reallocation better than defunding because it seems harder to misconstrue.

    Regarding the incident in Salt Lake City, Neurodiverse Utah said in a statement: “Police were called because help was needed but instead more harm was done when officers from the SLPD expected a 13-year-old experiencing a mental health episode to act calmer and {more} collected than adult trained officers.”

    […]

  124. says

    The economic ‘recovery’ is not what Trump claims it is

    In recent months, analyses of the economy have focused not only on metrics and data, but on identifying the proper letter of the alphabet. Will the economy look like an “L,” dropping sharply and staying low? Will the recovery look more like a “W,” falling, then rising, then dropping again before returning to normal? Perhaps we should expect more of a “U,” which would offer more gradual gains?

    Donald Trump has clearly settled on his preferred letter, telling supporters at a campaign rally in North Carolina last night, “Our economy is doing phenomenally well. Not only is it a ‘V,’ it’s a ‘super V.'” In other words, the president believes the economy fell sharply as a result of the pandemic, and it’s now bouncing back with equal speed.

    This is, of course, highly dubious, especially as job gains appeared to lose momentum over the summer.

    Joe Biden, meanwhile, has been warning of a “K-shaped recovery,” in which there are effectively two tracks: one for the wealthy who are making gains, another for everyone else, pointed in the opposite direction.

    The latest evidence suggests Biden is right and Trump is wrong. Politico reported this week:

    The path toward economic recovery in the U.S. has become sharply divided, with wealthier Americans earning and saving at record levels while the poorest struggle to pay their bills and put food on the table. The result is a splintered economic picture characterized by high highs — the stock market has hit record levels — and incongruous low lows: Nearly 30 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits, and the jobless rate stands at 8.4 percent. And that dichotomy, economists fear, could obscure the need for an additional economic stimulus that most say is sorely needed. […]

    The New York Times’ Paul Krugman added in his latest column that “the economy is still bypassing those who need a recovery most.” […]

    [Trump’s] assessment has led to passivity when it comes to doing real work on the economy. […] the president said he wouldn’t even negotiate with congressional Democrats on a possible economic aid package.

    What’s more, a day earlier, Stephen Moore, a far-right voice on economic policy with close White House ties, suggested the economy is already healthy thanks to “the four biggest months of job creation in the history of the United States.”

    In other words, despite high unemployment and widespread economic distress, many on Team Trump are prepared to do very little to improve the status quo — and that’s even more alarming than the White House’s misguided choice in letters used to represent the state of the “recovery.”

  125. says

    A total lack of empathy is a trait that other Republicans exhibit. It’s not just Trump:

    A North Carolina woman named Bev Veals has had to overcome extraordinary health care challenges, including three bouts with cancer. This year, her difficulties grew even more serious when her husband was furloughed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

    Concerned about her family’s future, Veals did what many Americans would be expected to do given her circumstances: she called her members of Congress, inquiring about her possible options. Veals ended up speaking with a staffer in Sen. Thom Tillis’ (R-N.C.) Capitol Hill office, and as WRAL in Raleigh reported, the aide’s lack of empathy was so jarring, she started recording the interactions.

    “You’re saying that, if you can’t afford it, you don’t get to have it, and that includes health care?” she asked. “Yeah, just like if I want to go to the store and buy a new dress shirt. If I can’t afford that dress shirt, I don’t get to get it,” he replied.

    When Veals explained that health care, unlike new dress shirts, is a vital need, especially for someone who’s had multiple bouts with cancer, the staffer to the Republican senator responded, “Well, you got to find a way to get it.”

    Asked what she should do, the unidentified aide added, “Sounds like something you’re going to have to figure it out.”

    Tillis’ office said issued a written statement to WRAL, conceding that the staffer’s comments to Veals were “completely inappropriate.” The statement added that “immediate disciplinary action has been taken.”

    […] Those who can’t pay the price should, as the GOP senator’s staffer put it, “figure it out.” This isn’t limited to one random Capitol Hill aide; it’s representative of an entire school of Republican thought, which fundamentally rejects the idea of making affordable care available to American families as a vital social need.

    Indeed, what I’d love to know is what Thom Tillis wishes his staffer had told Bev Veals. […] Would Team Tillis have tried to direct Bevs to the Affordable Care Act, which he’s long opposed? Would Tillis have encouraged Bevs to look into Medicaid expansion, which the Republican blocked in North Carolina when he served as the state House speaker?

    As for Bevs, the WRAL report added, “Her family is tapping retirement savings to keep her insurance, while hoping her husband will be called back to his job, she said.”

    Link

  126. says

    A fresh “Mexico is paying for the wall” con, meant to replace the old con.

    At a campaign event in Pennsylvania last week, Donald Trump told his followers, “Mexico will be paying for the wall, and I say it respectfully to Mexico, but they will be paying for the wall.”

    Last night in North Carolina, the president changed the tense: the Republican doesn’t just believe Mexico “will be paying” for a giant border barrier; Trump suggested our neighboring country is already paying for it.

    “And you know, Mexico is paying for the wall, just so you understand. [Journalists] don’t say that. They never say it. But we’re gonna charge a small fee at the border. You know, the toll booths.”

    […] Trump and his campaign team didn’t invest too much energy into a policy platform in 2016, but they were willing to issue a brief document explaining how and why Mexico would pay for a giant border wall. The document said it would be “an easy decision” for Mexican officials to make: our neighbors to the south would agree to a “one-time payment” of between $5 billion and $10 billion to the United States, and the GOP administration would apply the expenditure to a wall.

    This position paper, incidentally, is still publicly available on Trump’s website.

    […] At various times in recent years, Trump has said the Mexican government would pay for the wall, Americans would pay the wall, the U.S. military would pay for the wall, the wall would pay for the wall, and an overhauled NAFTA would pay for the wall. My personal favorite came in earlier this year, when [Trump] insisted “redemption money” from “illegal aliens” would pay for the wall — despite the fact that no one, even now, seems to know what “redemption money” is.

    All of which brought us to yesterday, when Trump pointed to, “you know, the toll booths.”

    At this point, I’d love to write about the merits (or lack thereof) behind such an idea, but to call this an “idea” is itself too generous. Does he intend to build toll booths? When? With what money? Who’d pay the tolls? If it’s American companies and travelers, would it really count as Mexico “paying for the wall”? Since these tolls don’t currently exist, what makes Trump believe Mexico is already financing construction?

    [Trump] just says stuff. There’s no real forethought or policy planning; he just blurts out random thoughts that he thinks will help get him through the day. […]

    […] No one should be fooled.

    Link

  127. says

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders flubs Trump defense with false claim

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she’d heard Trump notify families about the death of fallen U.S. troops. As it turns out, that wasn’t quite true.

    […] The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg published a staggering report on Donald Trump, his denigration of those who serve in the military, and his condemnation of fallen American heroes as “suckers” and “losers.” [Trump] has pushed back aggressively, relying on tactics that are far from credible, and some of his partisan allies have tried to rally to his defense.

    Take former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, for example, who released a video over the holiday weekend, in which she speaks directly to the camera — from prepared remarks — to vouch for Trump’s respect for those in the armed forces. Sanders included a first-hand account:

    “I’ve also sat in the room when the president had to make the most difficult calls of his presidency: when he had to let a parent know that their son had been killed in the line of duty. That’s a call no president wants to make. In those moments, I saw the president’s heart. And I also saw his commitment to the men and women of our great military.”

    […] she couldn’t have seen the president “let a parent know that their son had been killed in the line of duty” because that’s not a call any president ever makes. In the United States, family notifications like these don’t come from the Oval Office.

    As the New York Times reported, “Each branch of the military has its own protocols for notifying next of kin, but all require a field grade officer of equal or higher grade than the member whose death they are notifying to do so in person. A chaplain or medical personnel is also expected to attend, in person, if possible, but notification is expected to be completed within eight hours of learning about the casualty.”

    […] A Washington Post analysis added, “The problem with what Sanders said is not so much how she got it wrong — though that’s still bad — but in how she held it up as evidence of Trump’s support of the military. If the president is such a big backer of troops and sympathetic to the war dead — which was called into question by the Atlantic’s report last week and by subsequent confirmations of Trump’s alleged comments — why the need to exaggerate on this particular point? And that goes double for an interview in which Sanders was pitching herself as the ‘honest’ arbiter of what transpired behind closed doors in the White House.”

    […] Stepping back, I think there are a couple of overarching problems to consider going forward. The first, of course, is Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ tarnished credibility. In May 2017, for example, the Republican spokesperson told reporters that “countless” FBI agents had told the White House that they had lost confidence in James Comey before the president fired him. When she was later asked about those comments by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, Sanders conceded that she’d made up the claim.

    […] it was hardly the only time Sanders was caught making claims that later proved to be false.

    This week, she’s insisting that she has “the honest account,” which included an element Sanders now concedes was wrong. None of this will help her restore her reputation ahead of a likely bid for statewide office.

    But the second problem relates to the president: if some of his closest allies can’t defend his record on respecting the military with honest accounts, what does that say about Trump?

  128. says

    Why is the Justice Dept taking over Trump’s defense in Carroll case?

    After a woman accused Trump of a violent sexual assault, he lashed out at his accuser, prompting a defamation case. Now, the DOJ is intervening.

    Donald Trump’s private legal team have repeatedly tried and failed to make E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit go away. As of late yesterday, the Justice Department filed court documents, declaring its intention to represent the president in the case. [WTF!]

    The Justice Department, which is supposed to act as an independent federal law enforcement agency, argued that under the Federal Tort Claims Act, or FTCA, its lawyers can usurp Trump’s private legal team and change the venue from New York state court to U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

    “Because President Trump was acting within the scope of his office or employment at the time of the incident out of which the plaintiff’s claim arose, the United States will file a motion to substitute itself for President Trump in this action for any claim for which the FTCA provides the exclusive remedy,” the department argued in its court filing.

    As NBC News’ report added, “The federal act gives federal government employees immunity from lawsuits. However, it is highly unusual for the Justice Department to intervene in a private legal matter on behalf of a sitting president.”

    […] Carroll spent years as a prominent writer, media figure, and advice columnist, including having hosted a show on America’s Talking, which later became MSNBC. As regular readers may recall, in June 2019, she also joined a long list of women who’ve accused Trump of sexual misconduct.

    […] Carroll described an alleged encounter in a New York department store in the mid-1990s, which the writer described as a violent sexual assault committed by the future president. Though definitively proving or disproving Carroll’s claim is difficult — there is no security footage to review — the writer said she confided in two friends shortly after the alleged incident, telling them at the time what she said occurred. Those friends soon after came forward with on-the-record accounts.

    She also wrote in her book, “The Donna Karan coatdress still hangs on the back of my closet door, unworn and unlaundered since that evening.” It’s led Carroll to seek Trump’s DNA as part of her case.

    The president has denied the claim, arguing, among other things, that his latest accuser is a “liar” who isn’t his “type.” Following those comments, Carroll sued Trump for defamation. (When the allegations first surfaced over the summer, Trump issued a statement claiming that he’d never met E. Jean Carroll. There is, however, a photograph of the two interacting at an event in the mid-1980s.)

    Just last month, a New York judge rejected the latest in a series of efforts to delay the case, and now the Trump/Barr Justice Department has decided to intervene.

    This means, among other things, that American taxpayers are now paying for [Trump’s] legal defense in this private civil case, because as far as the DOJ is concerned, when Trump lashed out at the woman who accused him of sexual assault, he was “acting within the scope of his office.”

    Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal described the Justice Department’s position as “insane,” adding that DOJ officials “are doing everything they can to appear to be Trump’s personal law firm.”

    […] Steve Vladeck, a University of Texas law professor, explained that yesterday’s move appears to be part of an effort to dismiss the case altogether “because the government itself can’t be sued for defamation.”

    […] “When you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump said on [a 2005] recording. “You can do anything. Grab ‘em by the p***y.”

    Among the claims raised by Carroll was an allegation, denied by the president, that Trump “forced his fingers around my private area.”

  129. says

    Trump Was Personally Involved In Pushing Wacky Cruz-JFK Assassination Conspiracy Theory, Says Cohen

    Michael Cohen, […] Trump’s former attorney, alleged on Tuesday night that Trump had directly approved a National Enquirer front-page story in 2016 that ludicrously claimed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’s father was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

    MSNBC host Rachel Maddow asked Cohen, […] “Do you know if Senator Cruz knows that Donald Trump approved that personally and made that happen personally?” Maddow asked.

    “Well, he does now,” Cohen replied with a laugh.

    Asked if Trump was similarly involved in pushing salacious stories about his other GOP rivals in the 2016 election cycle, Cohen asserted that “nothing happens without Mr. Trump’s approval at the Trump Organization.”

    “To the same extent, nothing happens without President Trump’s approval. He micromanages everything,” the former attorney added. “Especially, and including, things that he doesn’t know anything about.”

    Cohen went on to describe how David Pecker, the publisher of the National Enquirer and a close friend of Trump’s, would approach him with a potentially damaging story about one of the then-candidate’s rivals. Cohen would “immediately” bring it to Trump, who would “approve” the story and allow Cohen to give Pecker the green light. […]

    Video is available at the link.

  130. blf says

    Oh for fecking foul airs sake, Illegal devices that bypass vehicle emissions controls spread across US:

    […]
    When officials at the Environmental Protection Agency began investigating Freedom Performance, LLC, they didn’t have to look very hard for evidence that the company was violating the Clean Air Act. According to legal documents, the Florida car parts distributor literally advertised violations on its website.

    […]

    According to the EPA, Freedom Performance was advertising defeat devices — hardware and software that bypasses or eliminates emission controls. The Clean Air Act forbids tampering with these controls, and violations carry heavy fines. But defeat devices — also known as “delete devices” — are popular with many vehicle owners.

    […]

    The EPA estimates that more than 500,000 diesel pickup trucks have been “deleted” since 2009. The EPA claims that these illegally modified vehicles produced hundreds of thousands of tons of excess nitrogen oxide — the equivalent of adding 9m more trucks to the road. Public health advocates say diesel emissions contribute to increases in fine particulate matter and other airborne pollutants that have been linked to higher rates of cancer, heart attacks, strokes and neurodegenerative diseases.

    In recent years, the EPA has escalated a crackdown, resolving more than 60 cases against companies that make or distribute defeat devices since 2017. The penalties can be stiff: in February, the agency announced that Freedom Performance would pay more than $7m for committing thousands of violations. […]

    [… D]efeat devices can be easily found for sale in brick-and-mortar stores around the country and online. That has led some public health advocates to launch their own litigation under the Clean Air Act. They have targeted body shops featured on the popular Discovery Channel show Diesel Brothers, where some mechanics have customized huge diesel trucks with names like BroDozer and Truck Norris.

    Enforcement of the defeat device law has triggered pushback from body shops and retailers who say the law is confusing and draconian. The industry is backing a bill in Congress written by lawmakers calling themselves the Motorsports Caucus. The bill claims it would protect the right of motorists to convert a highway vehicle into a race car, but that, opponents say, would hamper EPA enforcement of clean air standards.

    [… long history of deliberately increasing air pollution…]

    [… M]any companies continue to operate with impunity. The clearest evidence is the sheer number of tuners and straight pipes that appear to be openly sold on e-commerce sites, including eBay, and by users on Facebook’s Marketplace platform.

    Discouraged by what they see as the EPA’s limited results, public health advocates in Utah are pursuing a novel strategy to eliminate defeat devices.

    In 2017, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment filed what the group claims was the first Clean Air Act citizen suit against companies selling defeat devices. The law allows private citizens to file lawsuits to enforce emissions standards. Their targets included body shops featured on Diesel Brothers.

    County health department data showed that many diesel trucks were failing emissions tests due to deliberate tampering with pollutant controls, and that a deleted diesel typically produced 36 times more nitrogen oxides than allowed by the EPA.

    […]

    In March, a court ruled in favor of the physicians’ group, imposing over $850,000 in fines and penalties and forbidding the defendants from selling defeat devices.

    [… P]layers in the industry and their supporters in Congress continue to promote the idea that the EPA is targeting people who transform their vehicles solely for racing.

    […]

    The EPA stated in an email that it had no interest in cracking down on those who manufacture, sell or install parts that transform street-legal vehicles into race-cars only operated on a track. What is illegal, according to the EPA, is modifying emissions controls in vehicles that will be used on streets and highways.

    […]

  131. says

    From comments posted by readers of the TPM article quoted in comment 153:

    I said, “Alexa, list Trump’s lies.” She hasn’t shut the fuck up for 3 days.
    ——————
    Pecker needs to feel some pain over this BS also too.
    ——————–
    Looks like a campaign finance violation by Pecker. A negative story about Cruz was a “thing of value” for Trump.
    ——————–
    From the Daily Beast article: “It’s a long sad history of mismanagement from the top from somebody who never understood what these magazines were about. Pecker’s so-called friendship with Trump turned out to be the kiss of death.” [Pecker was fired/retired.]

  132. says

    Donald Junior said something offensive and stupid.

    Donald Trump Jr. likened 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse’s alleged killing of two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin to teenage antics […]

    When Extra TV correspondent Rachel Lindsay asked why nobody in the Trump administration, including the President himself, has condemned Rittenhouse, Trump [Junior] stated that “we’re not jumping to a conclusion.”

    “He’s a young kid. I don’t want 17-year-olds running around the streets with AR-15s,” Trump told Lindsay.

    “Maybe I wouldn’t have put myself in that situation, who knows? We all do stupid things at 17,” he added.

    “I think that’s a little bit beyond stupid,” Lindsay pointed out.

    “Really stupid, fine,” Trump conceded. “But we all have to let that process play out and let due process take its course.”

    Even though Rittenhouse has been charged with murder after allegedly traveling from Illinois and fatally shooting two anti-police brutality protesters, the President has declined to speak out against Rittenhouse and called the shooting an “interesting situation.” Last week, the Trump campaign went as far as arguing that “just logically, if you don’t allow police to do their job, then the American people have to defend themselves some way.”

    Link

    Video available at the link.

  133. says

    Phase 3 trial of the Oxford vaccine has been temporarily halted after a volunteer experienced illness.

    Link

    The COVID-19 vaccine pioneered at Oxford University and manufactured worldwide by pharmaceutical giant AstroZeneca has been one of the three leading candidates to deliver a safe and effective vaccine to the public by year’s end. Regulators in the U.K. have indicated that they could allow use of the vaccine by healthcare workers and others most at risk from COVID-19 in advance of certification by the E.U. In the United States, the vaccine was considered the leading candidate for an “October surprise,” allowing Trump to announce a vaccine available in some limited quantity in advance of the election.

    But on Tuesday, AstroZeneca announced a temporary halt to the Phase 3 trials after at least one patient has developed what’s being called “a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials.” Though intentions are to eventually have the vaccine tested by over 30,000 volunteers in sites across the United States, it’s believed this represents a serious adverse reaction by one of the early volunteers in a U.K. Phase 3 trial that began in August.

    This sort of action is not unusual. Because vaccines are given to hundreds of millions, or even billions, of patients, even a very low percentage of adverse reactions represent a potential disaster. And because vaccines are given to healthy people, rather than those who are ill, they understandably need to demonstrate a level of safety much greater than drugs given to patients in extremis. This temporary halt by no means indicates that the Oxford/AstroZeneca vaccine is a failure. […] This is actually a very reassuring sign that, even with all the pressures in place, researchers are attempting to stick to the rules meant to deliver a vaccine that is both very safe and effective.

    AstroZeneca has made it clear that the halt to further vaccination was made at their discretion and wasn’t forced on them by regulators. It’s likely the trial will resume after a short period to review the status of the volunteer in question.

    The description of the incident as an “unexplained illness” may be an indication that this is simply a volunteer falling ill with some disease unrelated to the trial. With thousands of people enrolled in a large Phase 3 trial, it’s inevitable that such events happen, and holds like this are not unusual. In fact, Phase 3 trials are often placed on a temporary hold even when nothing at all has happened, just to allow researchers time to review what they’ve learned before proceeding. […]

    Where vaccines under test by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech utilize messenger RNA and techniques that are new to human vaccines, the Oxford/AstroZeneca vaccine is more traditional in nature. It uses the shell of adenovirus that naturally infects chimpanzees as a vector to deliver fragments of the SARS-CoV-2 virus intended to generate an immune response. All patients in the Phase 2 study were found to have a high level of neutralizing antibodies following two doses of the vaccine.

  134. blf says

    A snippet from France faces ‘unpopular’ decisions, says science council, as Covid-19 cases surge:

    There was the danger of a “very rapid, exponential rise” in some places, [scientific council head Jean-Francois Delfraissy] said, singling out the French Riviera and Provence region.

    Since that is rather more than less where I live, I really really didn’t want to read that (albeit it is good the authorities are actively trying to control the situation). A few days ago the council(? regional?) authorities said all bars and restaurants must close by 00:30am, which isn’t that big of a deal here in the village now that the main tourist / vacation season is largely over.

  135. says

    From Olivia Nuzzi:

    Donald Trump has struggled to settle on messaging to attack Joe Biden. Tonight in North Carolina, he opened his remarks with the line, “If Biden wins, China wins.” The crowd here responded with near-silence.

    Several Trump one-liners have fallen flat with the crowd here in North Carolina. He called the Green New Deal the “Green New Nightmare” with delivery that left room for a beat of laughter or applause. It didn’t come.

    https://twitter.com/Olivianuzzi/status/1303479465029308417

    Good. Trump is flailing and failing.

  136. says

    Roger Stone to Headline Conservative Conference at Struggling Trump Resort

    VIP Tickets cost $2,500.

    It also looks like a planned COVID-19 super-spreader event. Also a super-spreader of disinformation. I will not be attending.

    A pro-Trump political conference that last year featured a video depicting a fake Donald Trump violently killing political opponents announced Tuesday that it will return October 8-11 with Roger Stone, whose prison sentence Trump commuted in July, as a headliner. And for the second straight year, the American Priority Conference, or AmpFest, is set to be held at Trump National Doral Miami Golf Club, potentially indoors.

    [Organizers did not] specify any coronavirus mitigation plans. […] the conference’s organizer, Alex Philips, has strong views on the matter. Philips’ Twitter handle is “Proud mask debator” and he regularly posts attacks on coronavirus mitigation measures.

    Speakers scheduled to appear at the conference include Robert F. Kennedy Jr., known for spreading misinformation about vaccinations, and Dr. Simone Gold, who in July appeared in a viral video, later tweeted by Trump, in which she claimed hydroxychloroquine cures Covid-19, among other misleading assertions. (Gold appeared in the video with Dr. Stella Immanuel, who gained notice for claiming elsewhere that sex with demons in dreams causes illness.) The conference bills Gold, who says she met in July with Vice President Mike Pence, as “censored,” in an apparent reference to social media companies removing the video for promoting coronavirus misinformation.

    Stone has gone further than Gold in that regard. In an April 13 radio interview with Joe Piscopo on New York City’s AM970, Stone floated a bizarre and false theory that Bill Gates helped to create coronavirus so that he can plant microchips in people’s heads. “He and other globalists are using it for mandatory vaccinations and microchipping people so we know if they’ve been tested,” Stone said, summarizing a theory he described as “open for vigorous debate.” […]

    Sounds lovely.

  137. says

    Bob Woodward has a new book out, “Rage.” In the book, Trump comes off as evil or ignorant, or both.

    […] Trump acknowledged the danger of COVID-19 in recorded interviews even as he publicly downplayed the threat of the emerging coronavirus pandemic, according to a new book from Bob Woodward.

    Trump told The Washington Post journalist in a March 19 interview that he “wanted to always play it down,” according to the first excerpts from Woodward’s latest book, “Rage,” as reported by The Washington Post. But he was privately aware of the threat of the virus

    “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in a Feb. 7 call with Woodward. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”

    “This is deadly stuff,” [Trump] added.

    His comments to Woodward are in sharp contrast to [his] public diagnosis of the pandemic.

    In February [Trump] repeatedly said the United States had the situation under control. Later that month, he predicted the U.S. would soon have “close to zero” cases. In late March, during a Fox News town hall in the Rose Garden, Trump compared the case load and death toll from COVID-19 to the season flu, noting that the economy is not shuttered annually for influenza.

    Trump has been sharply criticized for his handling of the pandemic, with Democrats and public health officials seizing on his tendency to dismiss the seriousness of the threat in the early days. The U.S. has the highest reported number of infections and deaths from the virus of any country in the world at 6.3 million and roughly 190,000, respectively.

    Link

  138. says

    If the US had Canada’s Covid-19 death rate, 100,000 more Americans would likely be alive today

    America really is worse on coronavirus than other developed countries — and Trump is a big reason.

    Over at the New York Times, columnist David Leonhardt compared the US’s coronavirus death toll to that of the rest of the world. He noted the US accounts for about 4 percent of the world’s population but 22 percent of its confirmed Covid-19 deaths. So how many lives would be saved if those numbers were even? Leonhardt calculated: “about 145,000.”

    […] What would the US death toll be like if the country had the same rate of Covid-19 deaths as some other wealthy nations, accounting for population differences?

    The results, based on Our World in Data, are staggering:

    If the US had the same death rate as the European Union overall, nearly 84,000 Americans wouldn’t have died from Covid-19 (out of the nearly 190,000 who have died so far).

    If the US had the same death rate as Canada, nearly 109,000 Americans wouldn’t have died from Covid-19.

    If the US had the same death rate as Germany, more than 152,000 Americans wouldn’t have died from Covid-19.

    If the US had the same death rate as Australia, more than 179,000 Americans wouldn’t have died from Covid-19.

    If the US had the same death rate as Japan, more than 185,000 Americans wouldn’t have died from Covid-19.

    The US doesn’t do worse than every other developed nation. San Marino, Belgium, Spain, the UK, Italy, and Sweden all report worse death rates. But the US has been catching up to the latter four recently, and they comprise only a handful of the three dozen developed nations in the world.

    […] the US has reported multiple times the cases — more than four times the EU, more than five times Canada, and more than 18 times Australia — and, as the list above demonstrates, multiple times the deaths.

    […] The US is doing about seven to nine times worse than the median developed country, ranking in the bottom 20 percent for Covid-19 deaths among wealthy nations. Tens of thousands of lives have been lost as a result.

    And a lot of this is on Trump. As cases climbed in the US, [Trump left] problems with testing to local, state, and private actors; pushed states to reopen way too early to supposedly “LIBERATE” their economies; spoke negatively about masks while refusing to wear one himself; and backed unproven and even dangerous approaches to treating Covid-19, including injecting bleach. Each of these failures compounded and led to the current US death toll — and local and state governments, as hard as some tried, simply don’t have the resources to fight a pandemic on their own.

    Compare that to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, or Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. These are leaders all over the political spectrum, but they took the pandemic seriously — building up testing, advocating for mask-wearing, encouraging social distancing, or all of the above. And their countries are much better off.

    There’s still time for things to go a different way. Maybe the US will somehow get its act together, avoiding another wave of infections and deaths. Maybe other developed countries will see massive second waves similar to America’s. (Spain and France, after relaxing social distancing and going easy on masking, already are.)

    But for now, the US has suffered a much worse Covid-19 outbreak and death toll than all but a handful of its developed peers. It’s a predictable, preventable catastrophe.

  139. blf says

    A ghoul is creeping, creeping, creeping up behind you, and shouts “Boo!” Michael Brown Says BLM Calling Out Names of the Dead Is Witchcraft:

    Anti-LGBTQ author and religious-right activist Michael Brown […] claimed that Black Lives Matter protesters engage in witchcraft when they call the names of people killed by police. Brown, who has said that President [sic] Donald Trump was elected by the sovereign intervention of God, claimed in a book last year that radical feminism and witchcraft and emotionally castrated males are all evidence of a demonic plot to destroy the United States.

    […] Brown portrayed himself as a supporter of civil rights while criticizing the BLM movement for being founded by radical feminists. He said that when BLM movement leaders speak aloud the names of people killed by police violence​, they are calling on spirits of the dead.

    [… lots more lunacy, including anti-vax howling…]

    Brown cited the use of LGBTQ-inclusive materials in schools as evidence that an aggressive agenda was targeting children […]

    [… Host nutcase Rob] McCoy said that conservative Christians lose public policy battles because not enough of them are in office or voting at levels that will make politicians pay attention to their concerns. There are 60 million to 80 million evangelical Christians in the ​United States, he said, and half of them are not registered to vote. McCoy added that only half of those who are registered vote in a presidential election year​ and only 12 percent in a non-presidential election.

    […]

    Brown was a replacement for Stella “Demon Sperm” Immanuel, who McCoy said had been scheduled to appear but has gotten too busy since she became a right-wing folk hero by energetically but falsely promoting hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID-19.

  140. says

    From Wonkette:

    It shouldn’t have been surprising to turn the TV on Tuesday night and see that Rachel Maddow got the exclusive Michael Cohen interview on the day his book came out […] And he seemed so happy to be there! And Maddow seemed so happy to have him there! Awwww, it is nice when people who committed crimes for Donald Trump decide to write tell-all books and do their first interviews with Rachel Maddow. […]

    Cohen broke a bit of news, and clarified a few things. What we noticed were the times when Maddow would ask a question that’s been on all of our minds — like has Trump ever paid for an abortion, and if so how many, or about Russian money laundering at Trump properties — and Cohen simply said he didn’t know.

    That seemed to lend credibility to the things he did know.

    Cohen discussed Trump’s fascination with Vladimir Putin, which in his book he says is about Trump’s obsession with Putin’s total power and riches. […] Cohen talked about some of Trump’s curious Russian dealings, like when Trump sold that crap palace in Palm Beach to Russian fertilizer oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev for what seemed to be an insanely inflated profit. According to Cohen, Trump (correctly, we think!) assumes money like that from Russian oligarchs is more or less coming from Putin. And he likes it.

    […] Cohen says 2016 was originally a giant branding campaign. Trump thought he was going to lose, and did all that “sucking up to the Russians,” as the book says, so he could borrow more money from them in the future. Remember, Cohen was secretly negotiating with the Kremlin to build a YOOGE BEAUTIFUL Trump Tower Moscow, while Trump was running for president and lying to his followers that he had “no deals with Russia.” He was even going to give Putin the penthouse, for free!

    COHEN: He’s fixated on the wealth of Vladimir Putin, and all of the opportunities that come with it. […] Donald Trump never thought he was going to win this election. He actually didn’t want to win this election. This was supposed to be […] the greatest political infomercial in the history of politics. So if you take that line and you add to it the Trump Tower Moscow project, you’ll understand that this was a branding deal. […] This was a branding opportunity in order to be able to expand worldwide.

    But then Trump won the election. […] Cohen says this has now gone to Trump’s head and he literally, truly, madly wants to be dictator for life.

    COHEN: He’s not the same person that I knew years ago. […] The power that he now has, has gone to his head. He wants to be an autocrat. He wants to be the president of this country for life. He wants to be just like Putin, just like Kim Jong-un, just like Maduro, he wants to be like Mohammed bin Salman. He craves this. He doesn’t want to run for president. And that’s why he says ‘Well what about 12 more years, 12 more years.’ He’s not joking. He doesn’t have a sense of humor. He doesn’t laugh or tell jokes. He doesn’t have a sense of humor. He means it when he says it. […]

    Elsewhere, Cohen talked about how constant Trump’s collusion with National Enquirer publisher David Pecker was during the 2016 campaign. Was Pecker just doing Trump sweet favors, by publishing fake stories about how Ted Cruz’s dad killed Kennedy with Lee Harvey Oswald, because of how nice he is? Oh no, Cohen says, Trump approved that personally, just like he did with every story Pecker would send over about one of Trump’s primary opponents.

    […] MADDOW: But he was getting the National Enquirer to run all of those stories, one after the other, on all the other Republican primary candidates? He was involved in all of those?

    Yup, says Cohen. If Marco Rubio was getting good poll numbers, “salacious rumors” would hit the Enquirer about Rubio, after Trump personally approved each story sent over by Pecker. “That is a remarkable campaign contribution to the Donald Trump For President campaign,” Maddow replied, which makes you really wonder what-all investigations Bill Barr had killed at the Southern District of New York, doesn’t it?

    Finally, Cohen talked about Trump’s intense hatred for Barack Obama, and the birther campaign Trump started against America’s last legitimately elected president. Cohen said Trump doesn’t even necessarily believe Obama was born outside the United States, but he loved how divisive it was, and how it got people to follow him. “The more divisive, the better,” Cohen wrote in his book.

    COHEN: Donald Trump is like a cult leader. And he’s very Stalinistic in the fact that he repeats things over and over and over again, with the theory that if you continuously say the same thing over and over, people will start to believe it.

    And did Trump actually send somebody to Hawaii to investigate Obama’s LONG FORM BIRF CERTIFKIT? Cohen says LOL.

    COHEN: [T]hat’s a lie. He never sent anybody anywhere. He just said it and everybody sorta bought into it, “Of course Donald Trump sent somebody, he’s rich!” Right? Who wouldn’t send somebody, if you want to prove your point? Donald Trump didn’t do it, because he didn’t want to spend the money, and he didn’t believe it. His hatred for Barack Obama is plain and simple: He’s black, he went to Harvard Law, he graduated the top of his class, he’s […] incredibly articulate. He’s all the things that Donald Trump wants to be. Right? And he just can’t handle it.

    Well that is just all very on brand for Donald Trump, who is an unhinged racist. […]

    Link

  141. says

    North Carolina Court Wipes Out Voting Restrictions Designed to “Secure White Supremacy”

    Tens of thousands of people are suddenly eligible to vote in November.

    […] a North Carolina court dramatically expanded the number of voters eligible to participate in the 2020 election. The state may not disenfranchise citizens who owe fines, fees, and other debts from a felony conviction, the Wake County Superior Court ruled on Friday. […]

    Many felon disenfranchisement rules, including North Carolina’s, are rooted in overt white supremacy. After Reconstruction, racist Democrats in the state sought to revoke Black citizens’ suffrage. They accomplished this task, in part, through vague criminal laws that stripped convicted felons of their civil rights—then enforced these laws disproportionately against Black people. North Carolina’s current statute is rooted in an 1877 law spearheaded by a representative who later presided over the lynching of three Black men. At the time, Democrats argued that felon disenfranchisement was necessary to stop “the honest vote of a white man” from being “off-set by the vote of some negro.” Its purpose, alongside other Jim Crow measures like the literacy test, was to “secure white supremacy.”

    […] Today, Black North Carolinians represent 22 percent of adults and 42 percent of the disenfranchised. Black residents are denied the right to vote at three times the rate of white residents in 44 counties. The state’s disenfranchisement regime targets two groups of people: those on probation or parole, and those who’ve completed their full sentence but still owe court debt. Notably, judges may extend an individual’s probation or send them back to prison because they haven’t paid off these fines and fees.

    Few do manage to pay off these debts. Like Florida, North Carolina practices cash register justice, funding its criminal system by extracting money from those who encounter it. Any person charged in district court is billed a minimum of $173. They must pay $25 for a criminal record check, $60 for a public defender, and $600 for lab analysis of evidence. Those sentenced to community service must pay $250; those placed under house arrest with electronic monitoring must pay $90 upfront, then $4.48 a day; those sentenced to a local jail must pay $40 a day—on top of the $10 a day they paid if detained before conviction. People on probation must pay $40 a month to fund their own supervision. Judges have authority to waive court debt. But they are also elected, and fearful of retribution at the polls if they’re deemed soft on criminals. In 2015, North Carolina Republicans passed legislation publicizing each judge’s annual waiver rate in an effort to shame them out of waiving fines and fees.

    OMG. Regarding that last paragraph above: I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know it was that bad.

    Experts estimate that about 70,000 North Carolinians are disenfranchised because they’re on probation or parole, while a larger number—probably more than 100,000—owe outstanding court debt. The average probationer owes at least $2,400 in financial obligations.

    In 2019, a coalition of voting rights advocates sued to restore voting rights to all these individuals under the North Carolina Constitution, which provides sweeping protections for the right to vote. Friday’s 2–1 decision handed them a limited victory. The court found that North Carolina had imposed an unconstitutional “property qualification” on the right to vote while unlawfully discriminating against the indigent. Its order restored suffrage to any resident denied the ballot solely because they cannot afford to pay court-imposed fines and fees. It also clarified that anyone who has finished probation but still owes money can vote. […] In the next few months the court will also decide whether it must strike down felon disenfranchisement for all North Carolinians on probation or parole. […]

  142. says

    Follow-up to comment 161.

    From the Washington Post coverage of Woodward’s new book, “Rage”:

    […] Trump shared with Woodward visceral reactions to several prominent Democrats of color. Upon seeing a shot of Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California, now the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, calmly and silently watching him deliver his State of the Union address, Trump remarked, “Hate! See the hate! See the hate!” Trump used the same phrase after an expressionless Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) appeared in the frame.

    Trump was dismissive about former president Barack Obama and told Woodward he was inclined to refer to him by his first and middle names, “Barack Hussein,” but wouldn’t in his company to be “very nice.”

    “I don’t think Obama’s smart,” Trump told Woodward. “I think he’s highly overrated. And I don’t think he’s a great speaker.” Trump added that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un thought Obama was “an asshole.”

    “Rage” includes the first-reported excerpts of letters Trump exchanged with Kim, and quotes Trump in his interviews with Woodward using expletives to defend their pen-pal relationship. Even as U.S. intelligence chiefs warn that North Korea is unlikely to ever surrender its nuclear weapons and that Trump’s approach is ineffective, [Trump] told Woodward he is determined to stay the course and dismissively says the CIA has “no idea” how to handle North Korea.

    “I met. Big fucking deal,” Trump told Woodward, waving off criticism of his three face-to-face meetings with Kim. “It takes me two days. I met. I gave up nothing.”

    Foreign affairs experts say Trump gave up much — including by postponing and then scaling back the U.S. joint military exercises with South Korea that had long angered North Korea, as well as by granting Kim the international stature and legitimacy the North Korean regime has long craved.

    Trump told Woodward he evaluates Kim and his nuclear arsenal like a real estate target: “It’s really like, you know, somebody that’s in love with a house and they just can’t sell it.”

    Kim welcomed Trump’s overtures with over-the-top prose in letters. Kim wrote that he wanted “another historic meeting between myself and Your Excellency reminiscent of a scene from a fantasy film.” And he said his meetings with Trump were a “precious memory” that underscored how the “deep and special friendship between us will work as a magical force.”

    Man oh man. Kim really knows how to manipulate Donald Trump.

    In another letter, Kim wrote to Trump, “I feel pleased to have formed good ties with such a powerful and preeminent statesman as Your Excellency.” And in yet another, Kim reflected on “that moment of history when I firmly held Your Excellency’s hand at the beautiful and sacred location as the whole world watched with great interest and hope to relive the honor of that day.”

    Trump was taken with Kim’s flattery, Woodward writes, telling the author pridefully that Kim had addressed him as “Excellency.” Trump remarked that he was awestruck meeting Kim for the first time in 2018 in Singapore, thinking to himself, “Holy shit,” and finding Kim to be “far beyond smart.” Trump also boasted to Woodward that Kim “tells me everything,” including a graphic account of Kim having his uncle killed. […]

    (Trump falsely boasted to Woodward, “He never smiled before. I’m the only one he smiles with.”)

    […] Mattis [former defense secretary Jim Mattis] quietly went to Washington National Cathedral to pray about his concern for the nation’s fate under Trump’s command and, according to Woodward, told Coats [former director of national intelligence Daniel Coats], “There may come a time when we have to take collective action” since Trump is “dangerous. He’s unfit.”

    In a separate conversation recounted by Woodward, Mattis told Coats, “The president has no moral compass,” to which the director of national intelligence replied, “True. To him, a lie is not a lie. It’s just what he thinks. He doesn’t know the difference between the truth and a lie.”

    Woodward describes Coats’s experience as especially tortured. Coats, a former senator from Indiana, was recruited into the administration by Vice President Pence, and his wife is quoted as recalling a dinner at the White House when she interacted with Pence.

    “I just looked at him, like, how are you stomaching this?” Marsha Coats said, according to Woodward. “I just looked at him like, this is horrible. I mean, we made eye contact. I think he understood. And he just whispered in my ear, ‘Stay the course.’ ”

    […] “Not to mention my fucking generals are a bunch of [P-word, plural]. They care more about their alliances than they do about trade deals,” Trump told White House trade adviser Peter Navarro at one point, according to Woodward. […]

    Washington Post link

    Much more at the link.

  143. says

    From Mark Sumner:

    At this point, there are so many books exposing the absolute mendacity of Donald Trump that it’s hard to believe that another one will make the slightest difference. But in terms of the just godawfulness of the revelations, it’s hard to think that anything so far has topped the excerpts now appearing from Bob Woodward’s upcoming book, Rage.

    […] Woodward recounts that, as early as the first week of February, Trump was completely aware of the danger represented by the coronavirus pandemic. Trump knew that the disease was dangerous, contagious, and many times more deadly than even the worst seasonal flu. And then Trump deliberately hid that information from the public, downplayed the threat, and created the disaster in the United States, entirely because he thought it would give him a political edge. It’s a reinforcement of something we already knew: The worst-in-the-world performance in the United States is no accident; it’s the result of a deliberate attempt at genocide.

    […] Woodward’s book has Trump saying “This is deadly stuff,” on Feb. 7. But there was still a solid month of golfing and Trump rallies ahead before Trump would even begin to pretend that COVID-19 was something that demanded his attention. Trump has underplayed the disease at every turn, constantly insisting that it would “be down to zero” cases or go away “like magic.” […]

    Trump knew that the virus was far deadlier than the flu when he was telling people it was less deadly than the flu. Trump knew that the virus affected people regardless of age, months before he insisted that it was safe for children to go back to school. Months before he insisted that college athletes should be playing.

    […] His March 19 conversation with Woodward came one week after Trump held a news conference with CEOs of big box stores across the country and declared that there would be a national testing and case tracing strategy. But Trump then decided to kill that plan, because, as a White House source said: “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy.”

    The COVID-19 disaster in the United States—a disaster that will top 200,000 dead this week—was not an accident. It didn’t come from a failure to grasp the seriousness of the issue, the deadliness of the virus, or the urgent need for coordinated federal action. Everything that has happened, from the deaths to the economic disaster, has been the direct result of strategic decisions by the man who bankrupted a whole series of casinos.

    Trump did this on purpose. It’s not an accident. It’s murder.

    Link

    I am wondering if Trump knew how deadly the virus was when he spoke to Woodward … and then the next day Trump forgot. Alzheimer’s Disease? More likely: Trump is just an evil, self-indulgent and petty man.

  144. says

    Anti-Immigration Norwegian Lawmaker Nominates Trump For The Nobel Prize, Again

    An anti-immigration Norwegian lawmaker who once accused the Norwegian government of conducting what he called a “multicultural experiment” and claimed that the emergence of multiculturalism in Norway would “tear our country apart,” has nominated […] Trump for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.

    Christian Tybring-Gjedde, a four-term member of Norwegian Parliament with a history of slinging anti-Muslim sentiment, submitted Trump’s nomination Wednesday based on [Trump’s] role in brokering an accord between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

    “For his merit, I think he has done more trying to create peace between nations than most other Peace Prize nominees,” Tybring-Gjedde said of Trump during an interview with Fox News.

    The parliamentarian has previously advocated for Norway to take a “forceful position” against Islamization — comparing a hijab in 2010 to a Ku Klux Klan hood —and suggested in 2011 that followers of Islam were by nature more aggressive than Norwegians.

    It’s not the first time this happened: Tybring-Gjedde nominated Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize once before.

    In 2018, he praised Trump for signing an agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

    The news comes after Trump in April repeatedly misspelled the name of the prize, writing “Noble” in tweets.

    “No matter how Trump acts at home and what he says at press conferences, he has absolutely a chance at getting the Nobel Peace Prize,” Tybring-Gjedde, told the Associated Press. […]

  145. says

    Follow-up to comment 152.

    ‘Sheer Lunacy’: Ex-Fed Prosecutors Horrified By DOJ Attempt To Barge Into Trump Suit

    Legal experts and former prosecutors have been raking Attorney General Bill Barr and the Justice Department over the coals ever since the DOJ asked in a court filing Tuesday night to take over […] Trump’s defense in writer E. Jean Carroll’s personal lawsuit against him.

    Experts ripped the Trump administration for acting as Trump’s defense team on the taxpayer’s dime and shredded the Justice Department’s argument for doing so: That Trump was “acting within the scope of his office” when he denied last year Carroll’s allegation that he had raped her in the mid-90s. His denial and subsequent insults about Carroll’s looks are the basis of the writer’s defamation suit.

    CNN legal analyst Elie Honig, who also served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, told CNN anchor Don Lemon that the move was “sheer lunacy” and that Barr “has really debased the Justice Department to just do whatever is necessary to get the President’s back, no matter how outrageous.”

    “Every time you think Bill Barr has gone as far as he can possibly go to turn DOJ into the President’s own private law firm to politicize DOJ, he goes a little lower,” Honig said.

    Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, noted during an MSNBC interview that not only was it an “egregious use of taxpayer dollars,” controversial moves like this one also undermine career DOJ officials’ credibility in separate cases.

    “Every time there is one of these hits and one of these blows, it’s a blow to morale because it means that the Justice Department’s reputation nationally takes a blow,” she told MSNBC host Brian Williams. “And when they stand up in court on a different case, the reputation and credibility that they’ve always enjoyed is a little bit more tarnished tomorrow than it was yesterday.”

    Joyce Vance, who served as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama under the Obama administration, speculated via Twitter that Barr is intervening in the case out of desperation to shut down Carroll’s suit.

    “This is a risky strategy for Barr & Trump. They have to have known it would be widely condemned and seen for the fraud it is, which means they are really afraid of the strength of @ejeancarroll’s case,” Vance wrote.

    Jill Wine-Banks, an-ex Watergate prosecutor, wondered how the DOJ’s arguments for intervening in the lawsuit “pass the red face test.”

    And former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal tweeted that it was, “putting it mildly, an insane position.”

    This, he said, was “the opposite of the way the Department of Justice is supposed to behave.”

    Video snippets are available at the link.

  146. says

    blf, thanks for that link. Having Trump on tape is valuable. No one can say he didn’t say that. He said it. Someone made the point that Woodward doesn’t usually release audio tapes. I think he was wise to do so in this instance. On the tapes, you can hear Woodward just letting Trump hang himself.

    In other news: “Top GOP Lawyer Denounces Trump: There’s No Proof Of Widespread Voter Fraud”

    Ben Ginsberg, a prominent conservative lawyer who was on George W. Bush’s vote recount legal team in 2000, [denounced] Trump’s jaw-dropping comments about mail-in voting. [Trump], he claimed, was casting a shadow over what Ginsberg described as legitimate efforts by Republicans’ to stamp out mass election fraud — something Ginsberg also now admits isn’t really a thing.

    “The truth is that after decades of looking for illegal voting, there’s no proof of widespread fraud,” Ginsberg wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. “At most, there are isolated incidents — by both Democrats and Republicans. Elections are not rigged.”

    “The President’s words make his and the Republican Party’s rhetoric look less like sincere concern — and more like transactional hypocrisy designed to provide an electoral advantage,” Ginsberg wrote.

    Yep. Looks like that because it is like that.

    He warned fellow Republicans that Trump’s remarks are undermining their legal arguments in some 40 court battles for establishing restrictive voting laws, which Republicans argue are necessary to stave off election fraud, while critics point out that the laws disenfranchise nonwhite voters.

    “Republicans need to rethink their arguments in many of the cases in which they are involved — quickly,” Ginsberg wrote. “Otherwise, they risk harming the fundamental principle of our democracy: that all eligible voters must be allowed to cast their ballots.”

    […] Besides Bush and Coleman, Ginsberg’s long list of GOP clientele includes Mitt Romney, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), and the Republican National Committee.

    Link

  147. says

    McConnell bill leaves out $1,200 stimulus payments to people, but gives coal industry $161 million.

    Link

    […] Because McConnell refuses to act in good faith on behalf of the American people. He’s teeing up a vote Thursday on a bill that is clearly just a political ploy, written with his big corporate donors in mind, leaving the people behind. While both Democrats and the Trump White House want another round of direct payments of $1,200 to individuals, McConnell leaves that out of his bill. Instead, he includes this, pointed out by Sen. Bernie Sanders: “$161 million in corporate welfare to the coal industry during a climate emergency.” […]

  148. says

    Fox News has more important things to cover than pandemics and fires—where important means ‘silly’

    On Wednesday—as the pandemic approaches 195,000 victims in the United States, the Department of Justice (DOJ) goes all in on defending Trump against allegations of rape, and California firefighters are dealing with the states’ second, third, and fourth largest fires all at the same time—Fox News has decided to spend the morning giving extensive coverage to a much more vital, serious story. Donald Trump … has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. […]

    See comment 168.

  149. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    You know, you’d think that Bill Barr would look and see what happened to Trump’s last attorney. Then again Michael Cohen did get a book deal.

    MAGA=My Attorney Got Arrested

  150. blf says

    Whistleblower alleges top Trump appointees abused authority by telling officials to alter intelligence to match Trump claims:

    A whistleblower is alleging that top political appointees in the Department of Homeland Security repeatedly instructed career officials to modify intelligence assessments to ensure they matched up with misleading public comments from President [sic] Donald Trump about Antifa and “anarchist” groups, according to documents reviewed by CNN and a source familiar with the situation.

    Specifically, acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf and Acting Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Ken Cuccinelli, both Trump appointees, directed officials to change intelligence assessments based on Trump’s political rhetoric, an order the whistleblower says amounted to an abuse of authority, according to the documents.

    Both Wolf and Cuccinelli also tried to alter a report to downplay the threat posed by White supremacists and instead emphasize the role of leftist groups due to concerns about how the initial language would reflect on the President [sic], according to a source familiar with the claims raised by the whistleblower.

    [… lots more…]

  151. blf says

    Michele Bachmann Claims Biden Will Collapse the U.S. Economy and Impose Communism:

    […] Michele Bachmann […] warned that Black Lives Matter and anti-fascist protesters are trying to destabilize the United States to help elect Joe Biden to the presidency so that they can collapse the US economy and impose a one-world communist government on the nation.

    Antifa is, if you go to their website, their materials, they are directly traceable to the Communist Party because their goal is the overthrow of the United States government and to bring communism into America, Bachmann said.Just like Black Lives Matter, this is not a new movement either. On their website, these are transgender Marxists, transgender Black Marxists who are seeking the overthrow the United States and the dissolution of the traditional family.

    Transgender Black Marxists with a website! Run away!! Run away!!!

    […]
    For people who know their Bible, this is exactly what the prophets told us, she added. So, we stand on the word of God, the Bible, and we say, ‘Satan, flee, we’re going to stand on the truth of God.’ And so that’s why now more than ever, between now and the election, what we need to do is pray and cry out to Almighty God and ask for his protection over America and to speak in this election.

    They also said, “Thou must really remove thine head from thine arse. And wear thy sodding mask feckwit!”

  152. Akira MacKenzie says

    @176

    That’s the true reason right-wing Americans are still going vote for Trump: They don’t care about his lies, his scandals, or his crimes. As long as the people they hate are denied power, and perhaps harmed by Trump’s policies, they’re happy.

    I’d say the Left could take a lesson in pragmatism from the Right, but the Republicans are far more willing to bend to the whims of their base as opposed to the Democrats who think they have to please the center-right before progress can be allowed.

  153. says

    Follow-up to blf’s comment 175.

    Senior DHS official alleges in whistleblower complaint that he was told to stop providing intelligence analysis on threat of Russian interference.

    Washington Post link

    A senior Department of Homeland Security official alleges that he was told to stop providing intelligence reports on the threat of Russian interference in the 2020 election, in part because it “made the President look bad,” an instruction he believed would jeopardize national security.

    The official, Brian Murphy, who until recently was in charge of intelligence and analysis at DHS, said in a whistleblower complaint that on two occasions he was told to stand down on reporting about the Russian threat and alleged that senior officials told him to modify other intelligence reports, including about white supremacists, to bring them in line with President Trump’s public comments, directions he said he refused.

    On July 8, Murphy said in the complaint, acting homeland security secretary Chad Wolf told him that an “intelligence notification” regarding Russian disinformation efforts should be “held” because it was unflattering to Trump, who has long derided the Kremlin’s interference as a “hoax” that was concocted by his opponents to delegitimize his victory in 2016.

    It’s not clear who would have seen the notification, but DHS’s intelligence reports are routinely shared with the FBI, other federal law enforcement agencies, and state and local governments.

    Murphy objected to Wolf’s instruction, “stating that it was improper to hold a vetted intelligence product for reasons [of] political embarrassment,” according to a copy of his whistleblower complaint that was obtained by The Washington Post. […]

    The president’s political interests were often of greater concern to senior leaders at the department than reporting the facts based on evidence, Murphy alleges. He claims that Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli, the department’s second-in-command, on various occasions instructed him to massage the language in intelligence reports “to ensure they matched up with the public comments by Trump on the subject of ANTIFA and ‘anarchist’ groups,” according to the complaint.

    Trump has sought to link anti-fascist, or antifa, protesters opposed to police violence with Democratic Party leaders and to associate his opponent, former vice president Joe Biden, with extremists.

    Andrew Bates, a spokesman for the Biden campaign, said in a statement, “If true, these latest revelations cement a pattern of high ranking Trump Administration officials not only keeping law enforcement officials and the American people in the dark about assaults on our democracy, but corrupting intelligence processes to benefit the president politically.” […]

    Murphy alleges an ongoing effort by senior officials to obfuscate the threat from Russia in particular. He claimed that in May, Wolf told him to stop producing intelligence assessments on Russia and shift the focus on election interference to China and Iran. He said Wolf told him “that these instructions specifically originated from White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.”

    Murphy said he would not comply with the instructions, which he believed would “put the country in substantial and specific danger,” according to the complaint, which was filed Tuesday with the DHS inspector general. […]

  154. says

    PHOTOS: Apocalyptic Wildfires Engulf West Coast

    TPM link

    […] According to the National Weather Service, millions of acres in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Arizona are under “critical” and “elevated” fire weather risk.

    As the fires rage across the West Coast, thousands have had to evacuate as air pollution levels amid smoke and orange skies have become “hazardous” in some areas. […]

    One report noted that fires in California are already 20 times worse than they were at the same time last year.

  155. says

    Florida clamps down on information as COVID-19 cases rise among children

    There were 70,630 new cases of COVID-19 in children reported between Aug. 20 and Sept. 3—and, with limited testing for kids, that may be a significant underestimate of the real number. More than 500,000 U.S. children have now had coronavirus, accounting for nearly 10% of total cases.

    In Florida alone, 10,513 children under 18 have tested positive since schools reopened in person, though the state is working hard to keep detailed data about kids, schools, and COVID-19. Florida’s positive test rate for kids is 14.5%, with schools reopening in person despite overall positive test rates well over the recommended 5% in much of the state.

    Duval County, Florida, tried to be transparent with its school coronavirus data, only to have the effort shut down by the state, while in Orange County, the school district started reporting data on its Facebook page after the county health department’s information releases were blocked.

    The Florida Department of Health says data will be coming … sometime. “In the coming days or weeks,” supposedly. [“In the coming days and weeks”! JFC, that sounds like a Trumpian promise of future action that will never actually come to pass.] Parents are left searching for information on which to make their decisions about their children’s schooling, and the information isn’t there.

    “I have filed public records requests like we were told, but no one will even fill them,” one Manatee County parent told The Washington Post. “This is outrageous, and I am worried for my teacher friends and our children in Manatee.”

    ”Our family would have to see some more information on the case numbers, and on mask compliance and social distancing, before we send our kids back,” a Pinellas County parent said. […]

    We know that COVID-19 numbers are rising among kids, and that it’s hitting Black and Latino kids the hardest. But there is so much we don’t know thanks to the low testing rates for kids and the data-hiding shenanigans of some states and, of course, Team Trump. In this case, what we don’t know literally can kill.

  156. says

    Trump casually starting another nuclear arms race:

    […] Woodward has Trump bragging that “I have built a nuclear—a weapons system that nobody’s ever had in this country before. We have stuff that you haven’t even seen or heard about. We have stuff that Putin and Xi have never heard about before. There’s nobody—what we have is incredible.” Anonymous sources confirmed the existence of a secret new weapons system … that Trump should not have been casually disclosing to a reporter. […]

  157. says

    Satire/humor from Andy Borowitz:

    In a move that many in the legal profession and laundry industry called unprecedented, Attorney General William Barr announced that the Department of Justice will start picking up Donald J. Trump’s dry cleaning, effective immediately.

    Speaking to reporters at the Department of Justice, Barr said that the D.O.J. would assume full responsibility for dropping off and picking up “items including but not limited to President Trump’s shirts, suits, slacks, socks, and undergarments.”

    Congressional Democrats howled in protest at Barr’s decision, arguing that taxpayers’ money should not be used to pick up laundry items that were purchased while Trump was a private citizen.

    But Barr pushed back against that criticism, claiming that “the legal principle in question is not when the President purchased these items but when he stained them.”

    To illustrate his point, Barr held up one of Trump’s red ties and indicated a clearly visible mustard stain—which, the Attorney General claimed, the tie suffered last week.

    At that point, Barr abruptly ended his press conference, stating that he had to get Trump’s brown loafers reheeled.

    New Yorker link

  158. says

    Coverage of former FBI agent Peter Strzok’s new book, from WIRED.

    […] former FBI agent Peter Strzok eschewed the traditional complimentary blurbs from famous friends for a different tack. The back cover of Compromised: Counterintelligence and the Threat of Donald J. Trump relies instead on some very famous criticism: Trump calling Strzok a “fraud.”

    […] the reason Strzok wrote a book at all is that he was caught up in a unique 21st-century scandal, a surreal intersection of texts, tweets, Donald Trump, and Russia. Strzok became the most famous FBI agent in the world after his private, candid political comments and fears about Donald Trump were spread—cynically and wrongly—by Rod Rosenstein’s Justice Department as part of the inspector general’s review of the handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Investigators also uncovered and publicized Strzok’s affair with fellow FBI lawyer Lisa Page.

    “Fraud” is hardly even the worst thing Trump has called the former agent; Strzok’s partial list of presidential insults on page 303 fills nearly half the page: “incompetent,” “corrupt,” “horrible,” “hate-filled” “totally biased,” “low,” “terrible,” “disgusting,” “stupid” “bad person,” “sick sick” person,” “con artist,” “evil person,” and much more.

    Most of all, though, Trump accused Strzok of “treason,” of being the central figure in a Deep State plot to block and negate his presidential victory, of leading a “coup.” The irony isn’t lost on Strzok, who in 2016 found himself both leading the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails and simultaneously racing to uncover the truth about the Russian links to the Trump campaign.

    Indeed, part of what makes Strzok such an odd villain for the Trump age is that—apart from some inopportune intimate text messages—all evidence seems to show that Strzok approached the Trump investigation with integrity and independence. Through a fall where he and other senior FBI leaders possessed perhaps the most damaging secret ever on a presidential candidate, none of them uttered the slightest public hint.

    “Everything the FBI did that fall hurt Hillary and helped Trump. All this talk about a coup—there are things right now that I and others know from 2016 that would still damage his candidacy today,” Strzok told me in a phone interview this week. “We’re all walking around and no one’s said a word. If this is a coup it’s incompetent.”

    [In 2001], his day job was tracking Russian spies, surveilling and watching two of what would later be exposed as “the Illegals,” the deep-cover Russian intelligence officers living ordinary lives in the United States that would inspire the hit FX TV show, The Americans.

    […] Strzok was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, reassigned from counterintelligence to human resources, roasted by Capitol Hill Republicans, villainized by the right-wing media, names as the supposed linchpin of the Deep State collusion plot by the president, and ultimately fired by the bureau. […]

    “The Trump administration’s actions vis-a-vis Russia were highly suspicious, highly consistent, and highly advantageous to America’s historic adversary without clearly benefiting, and at times even disadvantaging, our own security and stability,” Strzok writes, thinking back on the political landscape in 2017. He’s quick to point out, too, that the Trump administration’s inexplicable friendliness to Russia continues to the present day, including a half-hearted-at-best condemnation of the poisoning of Putin critic Alexi Navalny. […]

    Strzok is a uniquely strong voice against authoritarianism and threats to democracy in part because he’s seen what happens when governments fail or fall. He grew up overseas, following the career of his father, an international development adviser, and experienced four revolutions on three continents before he left for college, from Iran to Burkina Faso to Haiti. As he writes in the book, “I never thought I would have occasion to revisit those lessons at home, in the United States. And I never expected to see the grotesque traits of dictators in Haiti or Iran reflected in my own commander-in-chief.”

    Now, as Strzok sees it, the danger of Trump’s presidency is how Trump so willingly seems to advance Russia’s interests. Trump is withdrawing the United States abroad and causing longtime friends to reconsider their own security alliances, even as his policies and rhetoric widen divisions at home. “If the US is not involved on the world stage, that’s an opening for Russia,” Strzok says. “Russia today is doing a phenomenal job driving their agenda with a weak hand. They’re not China—they don’t have a huge economy and industry-leading growth sectors. What’s incredible is that Putin, as he’s built a kleptocratic state and siphoned off the wealth of his nation, he’s still been able to parlay that into a meaningful role on the world stage.” […]

    Much more at the link.

  159. says

    From Rachel Maddow last night – “Trump Understood Coronavirus Dangers & Lied About Them, Author’s Tapes Show”: “Rachel Maddow looks at new revelations from Bob Woodard that Donald Trump understood the deadliness and ease of transmission of the coronavirus and deliberately lied about them to the American public.”

    When I first saw the reports yesterday, my immediate thought was “How does he not have to immediately resign? How is everyone not just saying ‘OK, obviously he has to resign now’?” So it helped that Maddow opened her show (it’s not shown in the clip, unfortunately) talking about how strange it was that yesterday wasn’t the day Trump resigned.

  160. says

    Here’s a link to the September 10 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    India has confirmed another record number of daily coronavirus infections recording 95,735 new cases in the last 24 hours.

    The latest spike comes in a week which has seen a number of daily infection tallies over 90,000, representative of just how large the caseload is becoming in India.

    The number of cases is linked to the country’s scaling up of testing – more than 1 million tests are being carried out every day, according to the health ministry.

    But cases are also rising as the country continues to open up – bars and pubs reopened in Delhi this week and later this month schools will reopen.

    With 4.4 million recorded infections, India has the second-highest number of cases after the US.

    It does, however, have a high recovery rate in comparison to other countries

    For every 100 people confirmed with the virus, nearly 78 have recovered.

    The countries of central Europe, having come out of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic in much better shape than most of their western European counterparts, are now facing higher numbers than during the spring peak of Covid-19, as restrictions return to the region, write Robert Tait in Prague and Shaun Walker, the Guardian’s central and eastern Europe correspondent.

    On Tuesday, the Czech Republic passed the milestone of more than 1,000 Covid-19 cases in a day for the first time, while Hungary has closed its borders for September to counter rapidly rising daily infection rates. Cases rose in Poland in August too, though numbers have since dropped.

    The rise in the Czech Republic is a sharp setback for a country previously hailed as among Europe’s most successful in tackling the pandemic, prompting the authorities to intensify face-mask requirements.

    A record 1,164 new infections were documented in the nation of 10.7 million on Tuesday, and over the past 14 days, the country has seen one of the highest infection rates in Europe when adjusted for population, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

    Czech officials have attributed the rise to a sharp increase in testing. They also insist most of the new cases are mild and among otherwise healthy young people. Some 168 cases were traced to a party at a Prague nightclub in July.

    The prime minister, Andrej Babiš, told the World Health Organization to “keep quiet” after it voiced concern over reports that Czech officials planned to reduce contact tracing and testing because many of the new cases were asymptomatic.

    The Czech Republic relaxed far too quickly after flattening the curve in the beginning.

    France’s government will announce new Covid-19 measures tomorrow, we have learned, after Emmanuel Macron hosts a defence council meeting, writes Kim Willsher, the Guardian’s Paris correspondent.

    Ministers are saying nothing is excluded, but we know the president and prime minister are opposed to a national lockdown, which they say would be catastrophic for the economy.

    Russia reported 5,363 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the national tally to 1,046,370, the fourth largest in the world, according to Reuters.

    Authorities said 128 people had died in the last 24 hours, pushing the official death toll to 18,263.

    Also, Scotland just rolled out a contact-tracing app, Protect Scotland.

  161. says

    TPM – “Pence Plans To Attend A Fundraiser Hosted By QAnon Fans”:

    Vice President Mike Pence and top officials from President Donald Trump’s campaign are slated to attend a Montana fundraiser next week hosted by a couple who have expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, according to an event invitation obtained by The Associated Press and a review of social media postings.

    The hosts of the fundraiser, Caryn and Michael Borland, have shared QAnon memes and retweeted posts from QAnon accounts, their social media activity shows. The baseless conspiracy theory posits that Trump is fighting entrenched enemies in the government and also involves satanism and child sex trafficking.

    Beyond Pence, the Sept. 14 fundraiser in Bozeman, Montana, is expected to draw influential figures in the president’s orbit including Kimberly Guilfoyle, a top Trump fundraising official who is dating Donald Trump Jr., GOP chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Republican National Committee finance chairman Todd Ricketts and RNC co-chairman Tommy Hicks Jr., the event invitation shows.

    While many Republicans have dismissed QAnon, the fundraiser is another sign of how the conspiracy theory is gaining a foothold in the party. Trump has hailed Georgia congressional candidate Marjorie Taylor Greene, another QAnon supporter, as a “future Republican star.” The president has refused to condemn QAnon, recently telling reporters that the conspiracy theory is “gaining in popularity” and that its supporters “like me very much.”

    Representatives for Pence declined to comment on the fundraiser, though the vice president has previously called QAnon a “conspiracy theory.”

    The Borlands have shared multiple QAnon social media posts, as well as other discredited conspiracies.

    Michael Borland prominently features several QAnon “Q” logos on his Facebook page. One features a flaming “Q” with a Christian cross in the middle. He has also shared the QAnon oath as well as its slogan, which states: “Where We Go One We Go All.”

    From his Twitter account, which also features the “Q” logo, he also shared a post that labeled the Black Lives Matter movement “terrorists” and made his own threat to shoot protesters, according to a June 25 post.

    Caryn Borland has retweeted or engaged with QAnon Twitter accounts. In April, she responded to a pro-Trump Tweet from a QAnon account by replying “Always” with a praying hands emoji.

    The couple has donated over $220,000 to Trump’s reelection, the bulk of which was made in Caryn Borland’s name.

    They were guests at the president’s renominating convention last month….

  162. says

    More re KG’s #177 above – CNN – “Pelosi warns ‘no chance’ of US-UK trade deal if Brexit violates international treaty”:

    Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, has warned that Britain will be unable to secure a trade deal with the US if it does anything to undermine the treaty that brought peace to Northern Ireland after decades of violence.

    “If the UK violates that international treaty and Brexit undermines the Good Friday accord, there will be absolutely no chance of a US-UK trade agreement passing the Congress,” Pelosi said in a statement on Wednesday.

    Her comments come in the same week that the UK proposed legislation that would, in the words of a UK cabinet minister, “break international law in a very specific and limited way.”

    The British government on Wednesday published the Internal Market Bill, which it claims is designed to ensure that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, trade between the four nations of the United Kingdom would remain unfettered.

    The legislation, if voted into law by an act of Parliament, would effectively overwrite elements of the Brexit deal that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed with London last year. Specifically, it would undermine a part of the deal known as the Northern Ireland protocol, which exists to eliminate the need for a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, in accordance with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

    The agreement is of particular interest to US Democrats because of former President Bill Clinton’s role in bringing the various sides of the divide in Northern Ireland together.

    Pelosi’s statement will come as a major blow to the UK, as several prominent Brexiteers have claimed that the ability to sign international trade deals will be the most obvious upshot of leaving the European Union.

    A trade deal with the US has been repeatedly described as the most important of these, given the size of the US economy, the historic relationship between Britain and the US and the fact that the US is the UK’s largest single trading partner, despite the two having no formal trading agreement.

  163. says

    Thursday update
    New covid-19 deaths, yesterday:

    Spain: 34
    Italy: 14
    Japan: 16
    Canada: 2
    UK: 8
    Germany: 1

    United States: 1,209

    Population of countries above: 420 million
    Population of United States: 328 million

    And in case you’re wondering, this isn’t a particularly unusual day. Cases are rising in Europe, but the 7 day rolling average of deaths per million people still has one big outlier: the US.”

  164. says

    Yahoo/Reuters – “EU says Britain has ‘seriously damaged trust’ with planned law”:

    Britain would be committing “an extremely serious violation” of its agreement on withdrawal from the EU if it went ahead with proposed legislation, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

    The UK’s legislative proposal has “seriously damaged trust” between Brussels and London and London must now take steps to re-establish trust, the European Union’s executive said in a statement after a crisis meeting in London.

  165. says

    Neal Katyal: ‘Donald Trump’s day is coming and the courts got his number’

    Link

    Neal Katyal, former Acting U.S. Solicitor General, tells Lawrence O’Donnell that the intervention of William Barr’s Justice Department to defend Donald Trump in the defamation lawsuit by E. Jean Carroll, who accuses Donald Trump of rape, is “malevolence tempered by incompetence.”

    This was a good segment. Katyal made his case succinctly. The video is about 4 minutes long.

  166. says

    Susan Rice: ‘Trump wittingly did nothing to prepare for the coronavirus pandemic’

    Link

    Fmr. National Security Advisor Susan Rice joins Lawrence O’Donnell to discuss new reporting by Bob Woodward that reveals how Donald Trump ‘lied to the American people’ about the severity of the coronavirus outbreak.

    The video is about 3 minutes long.

  167. says

    Campaign news, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    The Lincoln Project vowed to target the president’s “enablers,” and not just the president himself, and with that in mind, the group has launched a new ad targeting Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who’s running for re-election this year. (If you haven’t seen the ad, it’s unlike any I’ve seen in a long while.)

    https://twitter.com/ProjectLincoln/status/1303656587228114949

    […] in a move that probably won’t surprise anyone, former Sen. Joe Lieberman, who swore he’d never become a lobbyist before becoming a registered lobbyist, is both endorsing Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and appearing in a new Republican ad on her behalf.

  168. says

    Rudy Exposed in New Russian Election Interference Operation, an article written by Josh Marshall.

    And there it is yet again. [Trump’s] personal lawyer and apparent bag man Rudy Giuliani has been exposed as an active participant in yet another Russian intelligence operation aimed at supporting […] Trump’s reelection campaign. The details of the story — and Giuliani’s work with Andrii Derkach — have been something of an open secret […] But Derkach has now been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department as an “active Russian agent for over a decade, maintaining close connections with the Russian Intelligence Services.”

    What is notable about this case is that it is part of a pattern which is almost unique to the Trump Era. This isn’t a congressional committee leveling this accusation. This is the U.S. Treasury Department. It’s the executive branch which is under the control of Donald Trump. So it is leveling this accusation — which again, was basically an open secret — even while the [Trump’s] lawyer works with the Russian agent, [Trump] hypes the agent’s disinformation on Twitter and one of Trump’s top congressional allies organizes Senate hearings to disseminate the disinformation.

    The apparatus of government — or still parts of it but a declining number of parts — continues to function, targeting foreign intelligence attacks even as [Trump] and his top lieutenants participate in those attacks.

  169. says

    “Judge Rejects Trump Admin Plea That It Can’t Possibly Explain Its Census Decision By Next Week”

    TPM link

    U.S. district judge Judge Lucy Koh dismissed the protestations of Trump administration lawyers Thursday morning, insisting that they quickly produce material documenting the administration’s abrupt decision to shorten the census data collection timeline.

    “To permit the Court to review the agency’s reasons for acting, the agency must produce an administrative record, which consists of ‘all documents and materials directly or indirectly considered by agency decision-makers’ at the time of the decision,” Koh ordered.

    In their Tuesday filing, Department of Justice lawyers complained that amassing the administrative record would take “several weeks” and that they can’t spare Census Bureau employees to pull it together.

    Koh made short work of those arguments, though grudgingly allowed for a date range — April 13 to August 3 — to bound the documents the administration must produce. “These custodians can limit their review to documents and materials directly or indirectly considered during these four months,” she said.

    But, she made clear that such date restraints are temporary, adding that a schedule for a full administrative record will be agreed upon after the court rules on a preliminary injunction.

    “The administrative record cannot be artificially constrained in time,” she said. “If the Replan was informed by the Bureau’s prior planning, then such documents must be included.”

    She was also unyielding on her insistence that the administration officials produce the four-month document record quickly, unsympathetic to the lawyers’ argument that it would be weeks of work.

    She set a due date of September 13 for Census Bureau Director Steve Dillingham and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, plus their subordinates, to file “all documents comprising the Replan and its various components for conducting the 2020 Census in a shortened time period, including guidance, directives, and communications regarding same.”

    She ordered that similar documents from Census Bureau Associate Director Al Fontenot and his team be filed by September 16.

    The case began when a group led by the National Urban League sued administration officials over their decision, in contradiction to guidance from their own experts, to chop the timeline for amassing data on the census from eight months to four.

    Koh paused that change with a temporary restraining order last weekend, and Census officials continued to go about their work.

    The decision raised particular concern because it came on the heels on […] Trump’s memo to exclude undocumented immigrants from the congressional apportionment base — a huge break with census precedent that usually aims to count everyone in the country, here legally or not. Some worried that the expedited timeline was of a piece with previous administration efforts to muck with the census, which ultimately determines how political power is doled out in the U.S. Expediting the timeline would allow the Trump administration to see the apportionment process through without taking the risk that a new President Joe Biden could take over and reverse the policy. […]

    You can read Judge Koh’s order at the link.

  170. says

    Key Biden Campaign Strategy Firm Targeted By Suspected Kremlin-Backed Hackers

    […] Microsoft alerted campaign strategy and communications firm SKDKnickerbocker that recent hacking attempts had targeted staff from the company.

    The firm has been working with Biden and other prominent Democrats over the past two months, the sources said.

    The hackers were not able to access to the firm’s networks, a person familiar with SKDK’s response to the attempts told Reuters, adding, “they are well-defended, so there has been no breach.” […]

    Three Reuters sources confirmed that Microsoft had identified that hackers tied to the Russian government were likely behind the attacks which included phishing among other schemes to infiltrate the company’s networks.

    […] Intelligence agencies have long flagged ongoing efforts from foreign powers to interfere in U.S. elections.

    But more recently, the Trump administration has sought to stifle the release of intelligence findings linked to election meddling, particularly with regard to Russia.

    On Tuesday, Brian Murphy, a senior Department of Homeland Security official, filed a whistleblower complaint alleging that he was told to stop disseminating intelligence memos on Russian threats to the upcoming presidential election, citing potential “political embarrassment” to Trump, according to records of the complaint released by the House Intelligence Committee.

    Last week, the FBI warned Facebook that a Russian troll farm disguised as a nonprofit news organization was attempting to use the social media site to promote criticism of Biden from the left.

    […]

  171. says

    From comments posted by readers of the article referenced in comment 198:

    After Trump is defeated, I want Putin’s internet throttled. Let’s see how the oligarchs like it when their 2600-baud speeds preclude money laundering.
    ——————–
    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has dismissed the allegations as “nonsense.”
    Kremlin Dictionary:
    nonsense – non’ sense; noun; absolutely true, not a hoax
    The idea that Russia interfered in the elections in 2016 and 2020 to help Trump is “nonsense.”
    ———————-
    The American people are in the middle of a cyber war with Russia, sadly Russia’s biggest ally is the Trump administration.

  172. says

    Hair Furor claims his statements to Woodward were “Good and proper.” Delusional fool doesn’t even know when he has shot himself in the foot.

    Bob Woodward had my quotes for many months. If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives? Didn’t he have an obligation to do so? No, because he knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!

    Commentary:

    […] the journalist reveals in his latest book that [Trump] knew for months that the coronavirus which has now claimed the lives of close to 200,000 people in the United States was “deadly stuff” but that he opted to downplay it anyway.

    Hours after the book’s release, Trump conceded that he had minimized the impact of the pandemic to be a “cheerleader” standing behind his own failed leadership.

    Woodward offered his own reasoning for delaying his finding during a phone interview with the Associated Press on Wednesday – but it had everything to do with Trump’s track record for spewing false information and little to do with whether or not he felt [Trump’s] answers were “good and proper.”

    Woodward told AP that Trump called him “out of the blue” in early February to “unburden himself” about the virus, which at that time had few reported cases in the United States.

    According to Woodward, Trump privately expressed fear over COVID-19 after being warned by national security officials in late January that COVID-19 was set to be the worst pandemic in a century.

    Woodward was initially cautious about the veracity of Trump’s claim and had waited until he was confident that Trump’s comments were based on reliable information — by then the coronavirus had infected millions of people across the country.

    Woodward contested that by the time he confirmed Trump’s comments were based in fact, the issue became one of politics and he decided that he would push to release the book ahead of the November presidential election.

    […] Woodward’s own concerns about the truthfulness of Trump’s statements as a reason for the book’s delay reflect a certain irony in the face of a President who has repeatedly shrugged that unfavorable claims reported about him are “fake” or “fraudulent.”

    Link

  173. says

    Regarding the high-speed train of bad news that keeps running over Trump:

    Last week, the big news was Donald Trump having called military service members killed or captured in action “losers” and “suckers.” It was a bombshell that spurred widespread outrage and put Team Trump on the defensive. This week, that’s old news. Not because Trump found a way to push back effectively, but because we’ve learned that Trump admitted, early on, on tape, that he was intentionally downplaying the threat of COVID-19.

    What could possibly distract from that? Well, two days ago we didn’t anticipate this story, and who knows what’s coming next. And that is a big, big problem for Trump. It’s unlikely that Trump admitting on tape that he was downplaying the danger of the coronavirus is going to fade from voters’ memory unless something even more outrageous comes out—and that is likely to be another story about something horrifying Trump has been saying behind the scenes. And Republicans are going to continue to own all of it, because despite these stories they will not condemn Trump’s words or distance themselves from him. […]

    Trump’s admission that he lied also came as he delivered a giant bribe to elected Republicans, and an attempt to distract Republican voters, in the form of saying that Sens. Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, and Josh Hawley are all on his short list of future Supreme Court nominees. It was a blatant reminder to Republicans that they’ve decided that their deal with this particular devil is that he gives them far-right, partisan, lifetime judges and they ignore the adultery and the lying. But the fact that Trump felt he needed to deliver this reminder, elevating specific Republican senators, shows again the danger he knows the revelations about his early knowledge of the coronavirus threat, and his lies about it, poses to his already extremely endangered reelection. […]

    Link

  174. says

    Oh FFS.

    DeJoy’s Postal Service sabotage leaves Trump’s governors ‘thrilled,’ and ‘tickled pink’

    The U.S. Postal Service board of governors—you know, the guys raising millions for the Trump campaign—met behind closed doors Wednesday and decided embattled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is doing a great job. They are literally “thrilled,” “tickled pink,” and “very, very pleased.” They are apparently adherents to the “all publicity is good publicity” theory […]

    Start with all the mail delays, including of life-saving prescriptions, Social Security checks, and animals arriving dead as a result of DeJoy’s service operation changes. Oh, that and the panic caused by the warning to 46 states that the mail-in election is in jeopardy. And the belligerent refusal, live on camera, to fix the sabotage. That was all before the news of his alleged crime of forcing employees to donate to Republicans surfaced. DeJoy has had a really bad two months, but his bosses couldn’t be happier with him.

    “The board is tickled pink, every single board member, with the impact he’s having,” Republican board member John Barger told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “He’s an excellent leader. He’s an excellent supply-chain logistics savant. And I’m very, very pleased with his performance since coming on board.” You might remember from previous stories that Barger is the guy that amplified a New York Post story that Eric Trump and the Trump campaign have been circulating about how vulnerable mail-in ballots are to manipulation. He also calls that paper “reputable,” so you know this guy is completely in the tank for Trump. […]

    Robert Duncan, the chairman of the board of governors—who sits on the boards of super PACs for both Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell and participated in the Republican National Convention, chanting on video “four more years”—declined to comment to the Post on the board meeting. Nor did the two Democrats who serve on the board, Donald Lee Moak and Ron Bloom. However, William Zollars, one the Republicans (there are four, versus two Democrats on the board) raved as well. “From a logistics and operations standpoint, Louis DeJoy is as good as it gets,” he told the Post. As for that alleged pesky campaign finance criminality? Zollars said that DeJoy told them “that he feels like he has done nothing wrong,” so that apparently works for them.

    […] “When given the opportunity to restore confidence in the USPS, the board of governors today chose instead to continue their dereliction of duty,” Rep. Gerald E. Connolly of Virginia, the chair of the House subcommittee responsible for postal oversight, said in a statement to the Post. “Mr. DeJoy’s term as Postmaster General has been defined by conflict, sabotage, incompetence and politicization. Anything short of his immediate removal is a total failure in oversight and accountability.”

    The board is not going to remove DeJoy. That means that the House investigations need to proceed, and proceed quickly. The only way to get DeJoy booted is to make him poison to Trump and to Republicans.

    Meanwhile, the United States Postal Service is still fucked.

  175. says

    Abrams touches on new documentary, calls voter suppression ‘intentional’

    Voting rights activist and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D) is featured in “All In: The Fight for Democracy,” a new documentary released Wednesday that chronicles the history of voter suppression in the U.S. with Election Day less than 60 days away.

    Abrams, who created voting rights nonprofit Fair Fight in 2018, reiterated on Thursday that voter suppression is “real, visceral and mean, but not new.”

    “On the local level, we have good people doing the best they can as election administrators, but they need help … It’ll be harder to ensure that we have the kind of safety features that we need. […] But we shouldn’t panic. We know that we can hold elections. […]”

    The use of mail voting is expected to spike this November due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, many states have relaxed their restrictions on mail-in or absentee voting. Over 40 states now allow their residents to request an absentee ballot without an excuse.

    The expansion has largely been opposed by Republicans, including […] Trump and his allies. Trump has pointed to the risk of large scale voter fraud, though there has been no indication that voter fraud — an exceedingly rare occurrence in American elections — will increase come November.

    On Tuesday, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) said that 1,000 people voted twice in the state’s June primary election, a claim that has been met with skepticism by Abrams and election experts.

    “That number seems extraordinarily high relative to other recent statewide elections,” Ned Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University who has written extensively about voter fraud, told The Hill.

    Abrams described Raffensperger’s comments as a “part of a national effort by Republicans to dissuade voters to vote by mail.”

    “There is an intentional effort around the country to undermine the utility of vote by mail, but we know that vote by mail works,” Abrams added. “Democracy is a sacred right in the United States. It’s how we pick our leaders, it’s how we determine our futures, and regardless of your parties, regardless of your demography, you are entitled as a U.S. citizen to be heard.” […]

  176. says

    Give everybody the internet

    We need to get the internet to everyone in America. Here’s what it would take to do it.

    Since the pandemic set in, Grace Riario and Melissa Morrone have witnessed a similar phenomenon at the libraries they work at in New York: people gathering around to try to catch the wifi outside their doors because indoor service is largely shut down. “People sit in the parking lot and on the benches outside, and they sit there for hours trying to do work,” Riario said.

    Riario oversees nine libraries in the Catskills region, where some areas don’t have access to broadband internet at all. Morrone is a supervising librarian in Brooklyn, where even if people do theoretically have access, many can’t afford it. They’re both seeing the real-life manifestations of the so-called “digital divide.” The divide is both rural and urban […]

    According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 21 million Americans don’t have access to quality broadband internet, though some estimates suggest that number is much higher, even double. Millions of people simply can’t access broadband because the infrastructure isn’t in place. Then there’s the question of cost — just because a wire runs by someone’s house doesn’t mean they can use it. In 2019, Pew Research found that half of non-broadband users still say they don’t subscribe to the service because it’s too expensive, and nearly one in five households earning $30,000 or less aren’t online. A $60-a-month internet option, about the national average, is only available if you have that $60.

    It’s only available if you have that $60 over and over again … every damned month.

    Now the coronavirus pandemic has put into stark relief how crucial it is to have the internet — and how costly it is to be without it. For millions of kids, it means access to an education. For many workers, it means doing their jobs. For patients, it means talking to a doctor. […]

    “Broadband plays a role in every aspect of society,” said Nicol Turner Lee, director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution. “The lack of connection means a degradation in quality of life; it debilitates you.”

    The Brooklyn library system Morrone works for has plans to install antennas on building rooftops so they can extend their wifi signals into homes and public spaces up to 300 feet away. It will help, but it’s hardly a comprehensive solution. “It shouldn’t have gotten to this point here — the public libraries were such a critical node in people being able to participate in modern life in this way,” she said. […]

    “We need policymakers to understand that broadband is absolutely essential in the ability of people to be able to participate in society, in democracy, and in the economy,” said Jon Sallet, a senior fellow at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society. His worry: “We have a digital divide that we’ve talked about for years, but the threat of this crisis is that it becomes a digital chasm.” […]

    The issue is, in part, that much of the country’s internet infrastructure has been left in the hands of the private sector, an atypical scenario relative to other services that require vast infrastructure.

    The way it works is that there are fiber optic trunk lines across the US, and from there, other cables branch out. Fiber is fast and pretty much limitless in capacity, but it is also expensive to install — especially in the last mile, the final bit of connection to a business or home. Most people get broadband through coaxial cable networks for that last mile, while others go through DSL that runs on copper phone lines. The former is slow, the latter slower. The US lags behind countries such as South Korea, Japan, and Switzerland when it comes to typical download speeds.

    “We’re willing to build an interstate, but we’re not willing to pay for the internet,” said Tom Wheeler, who served as FCC chair under President Obama. […]

    For private telecom companies building out broadband, that means making decisions about where to expand based on their bottom lines. Getting the internet to small communities or communities that are unlikely or unable to purchases their services may not be worth the upfront investment. The competitive incentive isn’t there. […]

    “If you leave these guys to their own devices, they will divide up markets, consolidate, and charge as much as they possibly can,” said Susan Crawford, a law professor at Harvard and the author of multiple books about the telecom industry. Crawford has long advocated for nationwide high-speed fiber internet, which would allow for basically limitless amounts of data to travel.

    The government has given private companies billions of dollars to try to fund broadband projects, especially on the rural front, but not all of that money has been well spent. Funds have gone to operating costs for existing telecom providers instead of capital costs to build infrastructure outright. Sometimes, companies don’t wind up building out the networks they promise. […]

    More than 20 states have laws that ban or put up roadblocks to municipal broadband projects that might allow cities to provide alternatives and compete. The telecom lobby fought hard for these provisions. […]

    Perhaps the biggest success story to date in the US of a city taking the internet into its own hands is Chattanooga, Tennessee. In 2010, the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, the city-owned utility known as EPB, began offering ultra-high-speed internet to all of its residents after building out fiber to the city for a smart grid. […]

    Kimberly Rios-Gonzalez’s family had been using Comcast’s $9.95 internet essentials program for low-income households, but by the middle of the summer, they could no longer afford that and in late August had service cut off, just as Rios-Gonzalez’s 12-year-old daughter was heading back to school. EPB hooked up new internet for her right away. “It’s been so great, and we don’t have to worry about it getting cut off,” she said.

    That’s right. Some families cannot afford to pay $9.95 per month. That’s the real world.

    “The only thing that’s stopping us is politics,” said Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke. “We have the technical know-how, we have the financial wherewithal, and the thing that stops us from providing high-speed broadband politics to Americans is politics […]

    more than 900 communities across the country have built out their own internet networks, including municipal networks and cooperatives. […]

    Some communities have opted for more ad hoc workarounds and built out mesh networks, where groups tap into the fiber backbone and then use antennas to spread internet around local areas. […]

    the $100 billion Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act put forth by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) is a solid option. It includes putting $80 billion toward deploying high-speed broadband infrastructure across the country and providing a $50 monthly internet subsidy for low-income households, among other measures, in an attempt to address both accessibility and affordability. Sohn described the bill, which passed the House but has gone nowhere in the Senate, as the “candy store” of ideas for digital inclusion. Sallet said it’s a “really good place to start.” It’s also an idea private companies shouldn’t hate, because that $50 subsidy is going into their pockets. […]

    Much more at the link.

  177. says

    From Wonkette: “Sounds Like Dipsh*t (Acting) DHS Chief Chad Wolf Covering Up 2020 Russia Election Attack In Real Time!”

    PULL THE FUCKING FIRE ALARM! AGAIN!

    Brian Murphy was the head of intelligence at the Department of Homeland Security — the Principal Deputy Undersecretary in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis, if you want to be specific. […]

    Murphy’s whistleblower complaint is, like all whistleblower complaints in the Trump era, a five alarm fire. He says (Acting) DHS Chief Chad Wolf literally told him to stop making intelligence reports on Russian attacks on the 2020 election. That he was told to stand down. That it made Donald Trump look bad. That he should (more or less) make up shit about ‘GIIIIIIINA and Iran instead. […]

    Wolf, whose own appointment was illegal, told Murphy these orders were coming directly from the White House, specifically National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.

    Murphy is alleging crimes were committed and power was abused, all to protect Trump and hide that Russia is yet again working its ass off to steal the election for him. And that’s just one part of the whistleblower complaint!

    […] the Trump administration is HELLBENT on lying that Iran and ‘GIIIIIIIIINA are the ones actually attacking the election, for Joe Biden’s benefit, when the truth is that while Iran and ‘GIIIIIIIIINA hate Trump, like most people do, Russia is the one actually attacking our election to help Trump “win.”

    […] if you actually READ THE FUCKING DOCUMENT, the NCSC assessment didn’t put those three countries on the same level at all. Russia was the only one actually attacking the election. But you had to read it for yourself to learn that. The Trump administration is counting on you not doing that.

    […] Murphy told Wolf to fuck off, “as doing so would put the country in substantial and specific danger.”

    Murphy tried twice to complain about this in May to (Acting) HHS Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, whose own appointment, to a different Trump administration position he holds at the same time as his DHS position, is illegal. […]

    This is all happening against a backdrop of Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, Kash’s boss, ordering an end to in-person briefings to Congress on ongoing election attacks. Meanwhile […] Trump’s Roy Cohn understudy Bill Barr is going on Fox News and saying ‘GIIIIIIIIIINA, because the Trump administration’s plan is to literally make up an election attack from ‘GIIIIIIIIIINA. After all, if ‘GIIIIIIIIINA is doing it for Biden, it’s only fair that Russia should get to do it for Trump, right?

    Meanwhile, documents just keep leaking out of DHS, documents (acting) Chad has blocked from dissemination, saying Russia is working in tandem with the Trump campaign to accuse Joe Biden of having dementia, and to attack the safety of mail-in voting. God knows what else is to come. […]

    The rest of the complaint is about how Murphy was told to do the same fucking things to assessments about white supremacists and Antifa. To be clear, he was supposed to soften the stuff about white supremacists and Russia in the 2020 Homeland Threat Assessment (HTA), because Trump likes them. In another assessment, he was asked to just cold make up shit about Antifa […]

    Link

    More at the link.

  178. blf says

    Lynna@204, I was astonished to read broadband costs around 60$ per month in the States. That’s only a small amount less than what I pay for optical fibre into the lair (in a package with also includes my mobile, etc.).

  179. blf says

    me@206, I forgot to add there is another fibre provider in the village (possibly two?). Some fibre services — and others — also provide broadband. This is perhaps, currently, atypical for France, and I have no idea how widespread fibre is (yet) in France. Broadband is, I (vaguely!) recall, very widespread, albeit most run over the France Telcom lines; there is, as far as I know, no legal Internet provider monopoly.

  180. says

    1.7 million new claims for jobless benefits show the painful reality of Trump’s Pandemic Recession

    Twenty-five weeks ago, the nation’s state employment offices began seeing a tsunami of applications for unemployment insurance payments that has yet to subside. According to the Department of Labor, for the week ending Sept. 5, another 1.7 million new applicants—90,000 more than the previous week—sought jobless aid from the program New Deal Democrats instituted 85 years ago and that Republicans have been trying to kneecap or dismantle ever since.As has been the case for weeks, media headlines (and sometimes their stories) only counted the 884,000 new applicants for regular state programs and not the 839,000 who applied for Pandemic Unemployment Insurance that covers gig workers and free-lancers ineligible for regular benefits.

    In the GOP view, unemployment assistance is the cradle of laziness. […] of the Pandemic Recession won’t produce any changes in the program unless and until Donald Trump and the Republican Senate majority are ousted.

    Without this jobless assistance the economy would obviously be in far worse shape than it is. […]

    As we can see from today’s tally, more than a million Americans continue to file initial unemployment claims each week, millions of others have suffered pay and hours cuts, and the permanent job losses are soaring. Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 1.4 million Americans returned to their jobs or found new ones by the second week of August. But six months into the Pandemic Recession, the rate of job recovery has fallen. Fewer than half those who lost their jobs earlier this year are back at work.

    […] Before the pandemic, vast portions of the population—America’s precariate—were already living paycheck to paycheck. The immediate damage from the Republican failure to get real about our predicament is obvious. As Paul Krugman has written, misery is growing. We can only speculate about the long-term impact in an economy already burdened by inequities that harm Black, brown and poor people. […]

    Robert Reich has noted:

    No other developed nation has nearly the inequalities of income and wealth found in the U.S., even though all have been exposed to the same forces of globalization and technological change. The three richest people in America have as much wealth as the bottom half of all Americans combined, even as 30 million Americans reported their households didn’t have enough food.

    […] workers of color are more likely to be unemployed longer and therefore more likely to run out of unemployment benefits than white workers if policymakers do not provide additional weeks of benefits.

    […] One thing both the Great Recession and Trump’s Pandemic Recession have underscored is just how out of whack things are. Even in the best of times, a pile of chronic economic problems plague us. Obviously, patching up the unemployment insurance system will not come close to fixing all these broader economic problems. It’s always been meant as a stopgap, a bridge to the next job, a way to ease the pain of being out of work. But it needs its own fixes.

    Included in those problems are the fact that low-wage workers are the least likely to receive benefits, the UI programs have been poorly funded for decades with 36 state unemployment trust funds going broke in the Great Recession, the average benefit of $382 a week is just 32.7% of the average wage, and federal grants for state operations have been cut by 30% since the 1980s, leaving states understaffed and hampered by obsolete computer systems.

    […] In March, the Women’s Law Center, the National Employment Law Project, the Economic Policy Institute, the Century Foundation, and the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality Economic Security and Opportunity Initiative put their heads together to come up with a list of problems and repairs.

    […] Fix automatic extended benefit triggers: Turn on additional weeks of benefits automatically anytime the unemployment rate jumps a half percentage point, and add more weeks when it goes up to 6.5, 7.5, and 8.5%.

    Require all states to enact shared-work programs that allow companies to avoid layoffs by putting workers on part-time schedules with partial unemployment benefits and provide federal money for these programs during economic crises.

    Create minimum state standards on length and generosity of benefits: Federal law should require all states set a minimum of 26 weeks of benefits. State programs should also replace at least 60% of a worker’s weekly wages.

    Create a jobseekers allowance of 13 weeks, at a lower benefit amount, for workers who are not covered by regular or pandemic unemployment insurance.

    Fill holes in the safety net: Increase how many low-wage workers receive benefits by requiring states to count the most recent earnings of applicants, treat part-time and full-time workers the same equally, and recognize as valid unemployment caused by illness, domestic violence, and relocation when following a partner to a new job.

    Improve benefits: Federal law requires states to tax just $7,000 of each worker’s wage. Over five years, increase this tax base to a third of the Social Security wage base and index it to gradually increase every year. Help claimants get back to work through the 87-year-old Wagner-Peyser Employment Services.

    All that would be a good start.

    Link

  181. says

    blf @206, yeah, that $60 per month is way too expensive. In many communities the cost reflects the fact that a single broadband provider has a near monopoly.

  182. tomh says

    Federal Judge Blocks Tennessee Restrictions on First-Time Voters
    September 10, 2020 DANIEL JACKSON

    U.S. District Judge Eli Richardson, an appointee of President Donald Trump, issued a preliminary injunction Wednesday evening preventing the state from requiring first-time voters to appear in person to cast their first ballot.

    Richardson… said the state did not argue the requirement prevented voter fraud and did not offer evidence that Congress wanted the states to pass first-time voter restrictions. Furthermore, he said the voting rights advocates would likely succeed in challenging the requirement.
    […]

    In a statement, Ezra Rosenberg co-director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s voting rights project, said, “This decision means that first-time voters in Tennessee who registered by mail or online – and there are tens of thousands of them, many of whom are young – can vote in November by mail, without risking their health.”

  183. blf says

    There’s a somewhat amusing brouhaha here in France over a small (<100 pages), limited-run (originally 450 copies) book by Pauline Harmange, Moi les hommes, je les déteste (Men, I Hate Them; or I Hate Men). As far as I currently understand it, the book explores male privilege and suggests disliking men who insist on their privileges is understandable, even refreshing. There is no call for violence or anything of that sort.

    The book would perhaps have passed unnoticed, except an adviser to France’s ministry on gender equality, Ralph Zurmély, threatened to ban the book. (The ministry said he was speaking in a personal capacity, and this was not the position of the ministry.) That caused sales to skyrocket (2500 copies), and it will now be printed by a larger publisher (the current micropublisher, Monstrograph, said it simply cannot keep up with demand).

    Three articles on this:
    ● French official’s attempts to outlaw ‘I hate men’ book backfires as sales skyrocket.
    ● French book I Hate Men sees sales boom after government adviser calls for ban (“Ralph Zurmély, who advises the gender equality ministry, says Pauline Harmange’s ode to misandry should be withdrawn for inciting hatred”).
    ● ‘We should have the right not to like men’: the French writer at centre of literary storm (interview with the author, Ms Harmange). A snippet:

    Harmange [said] “Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, misogyny is so well anchored in French literature we often don’t even realise it.”

    She said misandry was often seen as a joke or, worse, a tool to discredit feminists […]

    “Misandry exists only as a reaction to misogyny, which is at the root of systemic violence,” she writes. The book cites statistics from 2018 showing that 96% of people convicted of domestic violence were men and 99% of those convicted of sexual violence were men. “Whereas misandry has never killed anyone,” Harmange writes.

    As far as I am aware, the consensus is Mr Zurmély only saw the title and has not read the book.

  184. says

    Excerpts from the link provided by SC in comment 211, (I added some explanatory comments]:

    Trump begins his September 10 news conference with some casual xenophobia [“We continue to make progress in our fight against the China Virus.”]

    Trump suggest the US coronavirus situation is similar to France. France had about 6,500 new cases on Tuesday, the US had nearly 23,000.

    I hope you find something you care about as much as Trump does about getting Big 10 football going during a pandemic.

    This is a lie. It never happened. [Trump claiming that Biden was against banning travel from China, calling it “xenophobic.”]

    Trump seems to think relitigating H1N1, which killed a fraction of what coronavirus has killed, is a winning issue for him

    Trump brags about committing war crimes. nbd [Troops in Syria “guarding the oil,” “we kept the oil,” “we’re helping the Kurds by keeping the oil.” etc.]

    REPORTER: Why did you lie to the American people and why should we trust what you have to say —

    TRUMP: That’s a terrible question and the phraseology. I didn’t lie. What I said, we have to be calm.

    Trump suggests that the flu is nearly as bad in terms of death on an annual basis as the coronavirus, which is absurd.

    [Trump repeated for the umpteenth time that the Obama/Biden administration “spied on my campaign.” This claim has been debunked multiple times. I am reminded of Michael Cohen telling Rachel Maddow that Trump thinks that if he repeats a lie often enough, everyone will believe him.]

  185. says

    Follow-up to comment 215.

    MSNBC interrupted Trump fairly often to offer fact-checking, but in truth, the lies Trump spewed came out of his mouth at such a fast and furious rate that it was/is almost impossible to fact-check in real time.

  186. says

    GOP’s Skinny COVID Relief Bill Fails, Another Indicator Of Bleak Outlook For Economic Help

    As predicted, Senate Republicans’ “skinny” COVID-19 relief package fell Thursday along party lines.

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was the one defection on the 52-47 vote, a move he previewed, announcing his objection to government spending. In that small way, it was a win for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who successfully wrangled a splintered caucus into line to stand behind the legislation.

    Democratic leadership was vocal about their opposition to the legislation, which they view as pathetically paltry and far less than what the battered country needs.

    “Today, the Senate will take a rather pointless vote on the latest, highly partisan Republican emaciated COVID relief bill,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said this morning from the Senate floor. “This bill is not going to happen because it is so emaciated, so filled with poison pills, so partisanly designed — it was designed to fail.”

    “Let’s not have tokenism when we have a major disaster,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) added later in the morning. “Let’s not have a ‘skinny bill’ when we have a massive problem.”

    McConnell tweeted soon after the vote.

    “Every Senate Democrat just voted against hundreds of billions of dollars of COVID-19 relief,” he said. “They blocked money for schools, testing, vaccines, unemployment insurance, and the Paycheck Protection Program. Their goal is clear: No help for American families before the election.”

    Yes, that was predictable. McConnell knew his bill would fail. He just set up an excuse to blame Democrats. That’s more important to him, (and more important to Trump), than actually helping people.

    They’re [Democrats and Republicans are] still trillions apart and guided by wholly different approaches — Democrats insist on a comprehensive package, while Republicans balk at the price tag. Barring major concessions from either side, it’s hard to see a path to compromise.

    “My guess would be that if we leave in September with a CR [continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown], we will not come back to do anything before the election,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO).

  187. says

    Trump blamed Bob Woodward for not warning ‘the authorities’ about the deadly coronavirus. WTF? Bob Woodward is not the president of the U.S. That “authority” is Trump.

    In an absolute political wipeout of a press conference [today, see comment 215], Donald Trump argued that journalist Bob Woodward should have “immediately” warned the American people about how dangerous the coronavirus was, and also admitted that China was more honest about the virus than he was.

    Asked why he didn’t tell the public the virus was airborne, Trump responded: “If Bob Woodward thought what I said was bad, then he should have immediately, right after I said it, gone out to the authorities so they can prepare and let them know.”

    In the same bite, Trump argued that “everybody knew it was airborne” in early February, at the time of his interview with Woodward. Everybody didn’t know, but according to Trump, they should have … wait for it … because China told them.

    […] Trump also explained why he didn’t tell Americans the truth about the lethal nature of the pandemic. “There has to be a calmness—you don’t want me jumping up and down, screaming there’s going to be great death … and really causing some very very serious problems for the country.”

    Okay, I take that to mean 190,000 deaths and counting isn’t a “very very serious problem” in Trump’s view.

  188. says

    From Wonkette: “Trump Thought Bob Woodward Would Be Impressed With Him.”

    We are starting to get hilarious palace intrigue tick-tock accounts of who in the White House was so stupid as to let Donald Trump sit for 18 taped interviews with Bob Woodward. The answer, as you might imagine, is that Donald Trump was so stupid as to let Donald Trump sit for 18 taped interviews with Bob Woodward. He gave Bob his private cell phone number. He thought he would impress Bob.

    […] Trump is a very stupid man who thinks he is smart, who thinks his very good brain inspires awe, who thinks he speaks good English, who thinks he’s a human […].

    During Trump’s morning (allegedly!) Adderall ‘n’ Twitter session, after obsessively retweeting Mollie Hemingway tweets from August 26 and saying weird shit about how awesome Kim Jong-un is, he threw out this thing that one person on the internet noted reads like a “taunting note from a serial killer”:

    Bob Woodward had my quotes for many months. If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives? Didn’t he have an obligation to do so? No, because he knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!

    And yesterday, Trump whined about Woodward’s “boring” book, and insisted he definitely won’t read it (probably because he can’t). […]

    CNN reports that Trump was REAL MAD he didn’t get to talk to Bob Woodward for his first book about the Trump presidency. That one made him look very bad! CNN says “this was supposed to be the do-over,” and that Trump was just so sure that if he talked to Woodward a lot this time, it “would provide the best chance of securing a positive take on his rollicking tenure.” The Daily Beast reports he was “ecstatic” about the opportunity, according to a White House official.

    That’s right, because when Trump talks, he makes it better.

    And now everybody in the White House is like “YOU let him do it!” and “No, YOU let him do it!” […]

    But no, this was Trump:

    [P]eople familiar with the situation say it is Trump himself who ultimately determined at the outset he could talk Woodward into writing a positive portrayal of his administration, reckoning the powers of salesmanship that have sustained him his entire adult life would yield another unlikely success.

    This is what happens when your entire life people have been lying to you and saying you’re doing a good job and you’re smart and that you deserve your “success,” rather than saying the truth, which is that you’re nothing without the money Daddy gave you, and that you’ve failed ever since.

    So Trump would call Woodward late at night and talk about how cool he is, and try to impress him by leaking American nuclear secrets, the way he tried to impress the Russians in the Oval Office by leaking code-word level intel from our allies the Israelis. And he would confess he’d been lying to the American people the whole time about how coronavirus could kill them, which has directly led to the deaths of 190,000 people who were sons, daughters, grandmas, grandpas, moms, dads.

    This was his plan. Again, he gave Bob his personal cell number.

    He wouldn’t tell anybody he was calling Bob. He would just call Bob.

    At some point, as the Beast reports, Trump seems to have figured out that actually maybe Bob Woodward wasn’t that impressed, which is why he started rage-tweeting about Woodward last month.

    […] Nobody knew what the fuck to say, so they just lied as usual. Kayleigh McEnany went up there and said NUH UH! Trump was not lying about how dangerous coronavirus was, he just was trying to tell folks to stay calm and don’t panic. You know, kinda like when your house is on fire, and the fire department very calmly says “It’s probably just a flu” and doesn’t even bring hoses to your house.

    Then Trump just fuckin’ admitted yesterday that he had downplayed the coronavirus, just like he said on the Woodward tapes, after McEnany lied for him.

    “The fact is, I’m a cheerleader for this country. I love our country, and I don’t want people to be frightened. I don’t want to create panic, as you say. Certainly I’m not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy,” said Trump, who is well known for how he just hates making people “frenzy” or “panic,” except when he’s telling his supporters that Antifa is coming to eat them in their beds or Black people are moving in next door.

    Apparently the White House argued with itself about whose fault it was ALL DAY LONG. […] They are mad at the former officials who don’t work there anymore, who let Bob Woodward into the White House too much. They are mad at Lindsey Graham, who in one of his moments of kiss-ass-ing apparently told Trump he should totally talk to Woodward. (Tucker Carlson was V. MAD about this and yelled a whole lot at Lindsey on Fox News last night.)

    Oh, and they all swear they told Trump it was a bad idea to talk to Bob Woodward all the time. After all, Trump isn’t impressive to any sentient human being, but he’s probably gonna be DOUBLEPLUS unimpressive to the fucking Watergate guy.

    But as CNN says, “Trump rarely accepts communication advice that counters his own view of himself as a natural salesman.”

    Oh Donald. You’re not good enough, you’re not smart enough, and doggone it, nobody likes you.

    Link

  189. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 213.

    Trump bragged to Woodward about his role in covering-up the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    There’s no doubt that the recordings made by Bob Woodward of his 18 separate interviews with Donald Trump are going to contain any number of bombshells. On Tuesday, it was revelations that Trump knew about the danger posed by COVID-19 and deliberately covered up the threat to the American people. On Thursday, more of Trump’s darkest actions are coming to light.

    […] Donald Trump was not only aware that Saudi usurper Mohammed bin Salman was behind the kidnapping, torture, dismemberment, murder, and burning of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi: Trump deliberately acted to provide cover for that murder. In fact, Trump called up Woodward to brag that he had protected bin Salman from investigations by Congress.

    “I saved his ass,” said Trump. “I was able to get Congress to leave him alone. I was able to get them to stop.” To do this, Trump did what he always does—he lied about it. And he also refused to hand over a report that was required by law.

    The deliberate brutality of Khashoggi’s murder cannot be exaggerated. After Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner was suspected of providing bin Salman with a list of Saudi dissidents—a list that may have included Khashoggi—the journalist was lured into the Saudi embassy in Turkey on the pretense of completing some paperwork for his upcoming marriage. Once inside he was captured by an assassination squad sent by bin Salman. That squad, who had flown in on a special plane and came equipped with bone saws, beat and tortured Khashoggi, including clipping off his fingers as he screamed and the Saudi ambassador complained how how much blood was getting on the floor.

    Turkish authorities were aware of the murder within minutes. A special UN investigation concluded that the blame for the murder, and everything that led up to it, fell squarely on bin Salman. But Trump refused to hand over a report demanded by the Senate on a bipartisan vote. Instead of a report, Trump waited until Feb. 8 and then sent Congress a statement that he “reserved the right to decline” doing an investigation.

    When Trump outright thumbed his nose at the authority of the Senate, Republican senators did exactly what they have in every other such instance: nothing. Exactly nothing. […] Republican Rob Portman did say that Trump owed the Senate a report and that “We can make a fuss about it.” There was no fuss. No muss. No report.

    That refusal to provide a report came three weeks after Trump told Woodward, “I’ve gotten involved very much. I know everything about the whole situation.”

    Trump then reminded Woodward that bin Salman denied any involvement in the murders.

    Woodward: “Do you believe that he did it?”

    Trump: “No, he says that he didn’t do it.”

    Woodward: “I know, but do you really believe—”
    That was when Trump cut off the conversation.

    […] In addition to refusing to provide the report required by law under the Magnitsky Act, Trump used his veto to block congressional efforts at sanction following Khashoggi’s murder. He also vetoed a bill to end support for bin Salman’s war in Yemen, where tens of thousands have died to U.S. bombs sold by Trump on that first official visit. Trump even used emergency authority to rush another $8 billion worth of arms to bin Salman and his supporters, again over bipartisan opposition from Congress. And again, over ringing Republican silence.

    It was always clear that Trump knew bin Salman murdered Khashoggi, because it was always immediately obvious to even the most casual observer. But what Woodward’s book makes clear is just how proud Trump was to support this authoritarian murderer over demands of Congress and attempts to get at the truth.

    “Saudi Arabia—and I get along great with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.” —Donald Trump, at a campaign rally in 2015

    Link

  190. says

    I guess they got enough pushback. “Pentagon officially withdraws plan to end ‘Stars and Stripes'”

    That’s a weird headline. It was Trump that wanted the newspaper killed. Trump noticed the pushback and then changed his mind.

    […]“The United States of America will NOT be cutting funding to @starsandstripes magazine under my watch. It will continue to be a wonderful source of information to our Great Military!” Trump tweeted.

    Acting DMA Director, Col Haverstick verbally announced that the August 2020 direction to discontinue publishing of Stars and Stripes content on Oct. 1 2020, and to dissolve the organization by Jan. 31 2021 was rescinded.

    Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers pushed back at the plan, and earlier this month a group of senators sent a letter to Esper calling on him to reinstate necessary funding for the newspaper to continue operating.

    Days later, Trump tweeted that his administration would not cut funding to the outlet which was first published during the Civil War, and continuously published since World War II.

    Trump’s reversal of his own administration’s plans comes as he endures scrutiny following a report in The Atlantic that said he disparaged fallen U.S. service members as “losers” and “suckers.” The White House has vehemently denied the allegations as reported by the magazine.

    [Trump] is also facing blowback from reportedly telling White House economic adviser Peter Navarro that “his generals” were “p——” that “care more about their alliances than they do about trade deals,” according to excerpts from Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book. […]

    Link

  191. says

    From David Remnick, writing for The New Yorker:

    If Donald Trump possessed a soul, a trace of conscience or character, he would resign the Presidency. He will not resign the Presidency.

    Trump is who he has always been, and the details that we learn with every passing day merely fill in the portrait with sharper focus and more lurid colors. The man who lied about the nature of the novel coronavirus to the American people (but confided in Bob Woodward) is the same man who, as a real-estate huckster, used to say that the best way to hype a new building was to “just give them the old Trump bullshit.” Deception is his brand.

    It is hard to identify a constituency that Trump has not betrayed. A self-proclaimed populist, his greatest legislative triumph was a gargantuan tax cut for the wealthy. (“You all just got a lot richer,” he told his cronies at Mar-a-Lago.) A self-proclaimed champion of the military, he reportedly says “my fucking generals are a bunch of [P-word, plural]” and refers to fallen American soldiers as “losers” and “suckers.” His lies and expressions of contempt are so routine, so numerous, that we grow inured to their gravity and even forget that only recently he was impeached in the House of Representatives, avoiding conviction thanks only to a conscience-free Republican majority in the Senate.

    Trump’s lack of stability is so pronounced that he inspires nightmares in his closest aides. As we learn from “Rage,” Woodward’s new book, Trump’s defense secretary, James Mattis, was so concerned that the President would set off a nuclear confrontation with North Korea that Mattis slept in his clothes in case he had to race to the Pentagon or the White House in the middle of the night. In his interviews with Woodward, Trump seems so hungry for approbation that, like a child, he spills news of a secret weapons system––“We have stuff that Putin and Xi have never heard about before.” (This weapons system is presumably different from the hypersonic “super duper” missile that Trump hinted at in May.)

    […] As he proves almost daily, Trump is capable of saying or doing anything to win. And if he doesn’t win, the presumption that he will hand over power without some sort of duplicity is far from assured. And yet the dismissive reaction on Fox News to the revelations in Woodward’s book was telling. On Wednesday night, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham were all smug laughter as they tried to describe the excerpts from Woodward’s book as so much irrelevance and hokum and to redirect attention to all the many devilish ways that Biden was describing the country […]

    It is a painful thing to say, but the evidence assaults us daily: Trump is a miserable human being. […]

    “So you just had to deal with it,” Woodward quotes Mattis as saying, about the situation inside Trump’s White House. “It was, how do you govern this country and try to keep this experiment alive for one more year?” Mattis says he resigned only when Trump went “beyond stupid to felony stupid” and made an abrupt decision to withdraw troops fighting isis.

    Trump’s reaction to the book has been Trumpian. He gave Woodward eighteen interviews, often calling Woodward at home at night just to deepen the hole he began to dig at more formal sessions in the Oval Office. Woodward taped the conversations with the President’s knowledge. But, as a way to cover all bases, Trump tweeted last month, “The Bob Woodward book will be a FAKE, as always, just as many of the others have been.” And, of course, he has now tried to pick at the critical thread that the reporter should have published his remarks about the dangers of covid-19 earlier. “Bob Woodward had my quotes for many months,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. “If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives? Didn’t he have an obligation to do so? No, because he knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!”

    The executive in charge of saving lives was, and is, Donald Trump, not Bob Woodward. And the President’s delays and denials insured that the American response, compared with that of other nations, would be tragic. […]

    Early in his term, there were moments when Trump would seemingly abandon his customary venom and wildness and do something ordinary, such as read a bland speech from a prepared text. The spectacle would be so striking that we’d hear commentators say such things as, “This is the night that Donald Trump became President of the United States.” Meaning that there was half a chance that he would now behave somewhere within the bounds of sanity and decency. There was never any chance of that happening. Trump is who he has always been. The rest is details. And he is not going anywhere until he’s compelled to do so.

    New Yorker link

  192. says

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

    * When testing goes down, and cases go up, it’s an unsettling combination: “The U.S. reported more than 34,000 new coronavirus cases, higher than the daily totals of the past few days even as testing slowed over the holiday weekend.”

    * On a related note: “As the United States heads into flu season, Americans can’t let up in the fight against the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday…. ‘We need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter, because it’s not going to be easy,’ Fauci said during a panel of doctors from Harvard Medical School.”

    * This was a bad bill: “Senate Democrats scuttled a scaled-back GOP coronavirus rescue package on Thursday, saying the measure shortchanged too many pressing needs as the pandemic continues its assault on the country.”

    * USPS: “Changes to the U.S. Postal Service instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy have caused ‘significant delays’ in the delivery of mail-order prescriptions to millions of Americans, according to the results of an investigation by two Senate Democrats released Wednesday.”

    * Florida: “One month into the forced reopening of Florida’s schools, dozens of classrooms — along with some entire schools — have been temporarily shuttered because of coronavirus outbreaks, and infections among school-age children have jumped 34 percent. But parents in many parts of the state don’t know if outbreaks of the virus are related to their own schools because the state ordered some counties to keep health data secret.”

    * Why hasn’t Trump said this? “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged Wednesday that there is a ‘substantial chance’ senior Russian officials were behind the poisoning of the Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.”

    * In a normal political environment, her resignation at this point would be a given: “When Seema Verma, the Trump administration’s top Medicaid official, went to a reporter’s home in November 2018 for a ‘Girl’s Night’ thrown in her honor, taxpayers footed the bill to organize the event: $2,933. When Verma wrote an op-ed on Fox News’ website that fall, touting President Donald Trump’s changes to Obamacare, taxpayers got charged for one consultant’s price to place it: $977.”

    […] * Breonna Taylor case: “The Kentucky attorney general is preparing to present evidence from the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor to a grand jury as early as next week, according to two sources familiar with the matter.”

    * A case we’ve been keeping an eye on: “A judge denied a bid Wednesday to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that […] Trump’s inaugural committee and the Trump Organization misused nonprofit funds to enrich the president’s family business.”

    * Hopefully, people will have the good sense to ignore his bad advice: “Rep. Andy Biggs is neither a physician nor a scientist but he continues to attack public health advice and scientific evidence on COVID-19. Biggs, R-Ariz., in recent days has posted a string of pro-hydroxychloroquine and anti-mask messages on social media.”

    * Something to keep an eye on: “The State Department has informally confirmed to Congress that Republican super-donor Sheldon Adelson is the buyer of the U.S. ambassador’s official residence in Israel, a congressional aide told The Associated Press on Wednesday. Lawmakers in the House and Senate are now looking into whether the deal complied with regulations.”

    Link

  193. says

    Court Blocks Trump’s Effort To Exclude Undocumented Immigrants From Congressional Apportionment

    A three-judge panel in New York ruled Thursday to block […] Trump’s attempt to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census apportionment count which allocates how many House seats each state gets.

    In a July memo, Trump tried to break with years of precedent and possibly the Constitution in what some called a transparent attempt to decrease the power of immigrant-heavy states.

    The ruling is likely to be appealed, and will go next to the Supreme Court.

    In their order, the judges declare the memo an “unlawful exercise of the authority granted to the President by statute” and enjoin defendants from giving Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross information for his report pertaining to the number of undocumented immigrants in any state.

    The judges found Trump’s memo to be a “violation of Congress’s delegation of its constitutional responsibility to count the whole number of persons in each State and to apportion members of the House of Representatives among the States according to their respective numbers,” they wrote. […]

  194. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz:

    Donald J. Trump’s decision to talk to Bob Woodward demonstrates the downside of never having read a book in his entire life, experts say.

    While millions of Americans were astonished that Trump would voluntarily speak at great length to an author famous for his takedowns of Presidents, experts believe that a total obliviousness to books and what is inside them might have played a pivotal role.

    Davis Logsdon, a University of Minnesota professor who studies the psychology of people who have never read a book in their lives, said that such people might be overconfident about how they would be portrayed if a book were ever written about them.

    “If you’ve never read a book in your life, you might be under the impression that all books are flattering,” he said. “You would have no idea that a book could portray you as a human dumpster fire.”

    As for Trump, Logsdon said that the President would “definitely benefit” from reading a book someday, but added, “It’s a little late for that now.”

    New Yorker link

  195. says

    Trump Binge-Watched Fox News All Night, Woke Up to Watch More Fox

    At his press conference today, clearly upset by the devastating comments made about him by himself and reported to Bob Woodward, President Trump told reporters that William Barr is going to produce evidence of crimes against him by his various Deep State enemies. Grasping for a basis for his claims — he is not supposed to have inside information about a Justice Department probe — he cited the many shows he watches, all of which of course feature slavishly pro-Trump hosts feeding his own conspiratorial worldview.

    “I watched Liz McDonald,” he said, “She’s fantastic. I watched Fox Business. I watched Lou Dobbs last night, Sean Hannity last night, Tucker last night, Laura. I watched Fox & Friends in the morning.”

    What Trump seemed to forget, in the midst of using these shows as proof that the Deep State was going to be locked up, is that Trump has also claimed he doesn’t watch much television.

    “Believe it or not, even when I’m in Washington or New York, I do not watch much television,” Trump scolded reporters aboard Air Force One in 2017. “People that don’t know me, they like to say I watch television — people with fake sources. You know, fake reporters, fake sources. But I don’t get to watch much television. Primarily because of documents. I’m reading documents. A lot. I actually read much more — I read you people much more than I watch television.”

    Recently he told Peter Baker, “I don’t watch very much TV. Nobody knows what I do. I work very long hours, actually, very long hours, probably longer than just about anybody.”

    Did he forget that he is supposed to not watch television? Or does Trump simply think binge-watching half a dozen different Fox shows one night, and then waking up to watch more Fox News, does not qualify as “much television”?

    So, Trump watched about eight hours of TV.

  196. says

    From Kamala Harris:

    So, basically what we are hearing is that on Jan. 28, the president and the vice president were informed about the imminence and the dangers of COVID-19.

    He knew it was airborne that people would breathe it.

  197. says

    Fintan O’Toole in the Guardian – “Boris Johnson’s ‘oven-ready’ Brexit had a secret footnote: we’ll rehash it later”:

    Everybody knows Boris Johnson can lie for England. To his supporters, it was one of his best assets. They believed he could bamboozle the European Union into giving him the only Brexit deal that is really acceptable – one that gives Britain all the advantages of being in the EU without any of the botheration of being a member. The problem is that congenital mendacity isn’t just for foreigners. If you lie for England, you will also lie to England.

    This week, these two streams of fabrication finally became one. In openly admitting that it signed the withdrawal agreement with the EU in bad faith, Johnson’s Vote Leave government also implicitly confessed that it lied wholesale to the electorate in December’s general election. The cross-contamination of domestic politics by the deceit that is Brexit’s DNA is now complete.

    On Tuesday, the Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis brazenly informed the House of Commons that a bill to amend the Irish protocol of the withdrawal agreement with the EU would “break international law”, albeit in “limited and specific ways”. The qualification is nonsense. If one side can unilaterally change any bits of a treaty, nothing in it is binding. But in any case, Lewis’s declaration was part of a much wider contention: that the British never quite understood what they were signing.

    That same day, Johnson’s court gazette, The Daily Telegraph, led with the headline “Brexit deal never made sense, PM to tell EU”. The story quoted “a senior government source” as claiming that some of its consequences “were not foreseen” at the time and that the treaty would have to be “rewritten to protect the union”.

    In itself, this claim is fraudulent. The idea that Johnson has suddenly realised that the protocol effectively keeps Northern Ireland within the ambit of the EU’s customs union and single market, and thus has negative implications for the union, is risible. This was precisely what Johnson’s close allies in the Democratic Unionist party were screaming about when he made the agreement in October 2019. It was the reason why Johnson himself had sworn blind to the DUP that he would never agree to such a thing. If Johnson didn’t see that a radically different Brexit for one part of the UK would destabilise the union, he is an idiot. But in this case, he can be exonerated on that charge – he knew damn well and did it anyway.

    He did it for the same reason he and his Vote Leave crew do everything else: because it suits their immediate interests. Theresa May’s Northern Ireland backstop was threatening to bring the whole Brexit project crashing down. The Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, offered Johnson a way out – the so-called “border in the Irish Sea”. Johnson, the supreme opportunist, grabbed it, screwed the DUP, declared victory and the rest is history.

    But this is where the real fakery starts. It is clear that Johnson and his most important confreres, Dominic Cummings and Michael Gove, never really saw this as anything other than a clever dodge, a tactical retreat….

    This idea that Britain could sign the withdrawal agreement with its fingers crossed behind its back and then just ignore it later on is, in a way, perfectly consistent with the larger mentality of Brexit. At the heart of its theology is the fantasy that there is such a thing as absolute national sovereignty, a complete unilateral freedom of action that had been taken away by EU membership. Once Britain is “unchained” from the EU, Britain can do whatever it damn well pleases. The withdrawal treaty is not a set of permanent obligations, merely a route towards the obligation-free future that starts on 1 January 2021.

    The Brexiters don’t much mind that this trick requires Britain to expose itself openly as a rogue state that treats international agreements as disposable handkerchiefs. In their solipsism, they presumably haven’t bothered to look up, for example, the membership of the House ways and means committee that would control any trade deal Britain might make with the US. (To save them the bother, it’s chaired by Richard Neal, and includes his fellow Irish-American Democrats Brendan Boyle and Brian Higgins, all highly engaged with Northern Ireland.)

    The catch is that all of this doesn’t stop at smart-arse duplicity towards other countries. It involves the flagrant deception of English voters….

  198. says

    Here’s a link to the September 11 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    Their summary:

    India has set another global one-day record for coronavirus infections. The country reported 96,551 new cases. Deaths have remained relatively low in the country, but are seeing an upward trend, with more than one thousand deaths being reported every day for the last ten days. The country’s total reported cases are 4,562,414, according to Johns Hopkins University data, and deaths stand at 76,271.

    Global infections have passed 28.2m and deaths stand at 910,134, according to Johns Hopkins data. The first four countries in terms of infections, the US, India, Brazil and Russia, account for nearly 58% of all cases.

    Austria has expanded mandatory mask-wearing and imposed restrictions on events in response to a surge in new cases. Announcing the new rules, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, said: “It is getting serious again. The numbers have kept rising in recent weeks.”

    The Covid-19 smart phone app will be launched across England and Wales on 24 September. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said the launch would be a “defining moment” in the fight against the virus.

    France recorded almost 10,000 new Covid-19 infections on Thursday, its highest ever single-day total, a day before a cabinet meeting that might consider imposing fresh, local lockdowns to curb the spread of the disease.

    In South Korea, the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 176 new cases of Covid-19 as of midnight Thursday, bringing the total number of infections to 21,919, with 350 deaths.

    Intensive care medics were significantly less likely to have been infected with Covid-19 than cleaners and other healthcare workers in departments deemed lower risk, according to a study of several British hospitals at the peak of the pandemic.

  199. says

    Yesterday: “Foreign diplomats return to the home of Nobel prize winning author Svetlana Alexievich, offering solidarity & protection to the only leading member of the opposition coordination council still free & in Belarus.”

    Ann Linde, Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs: “The world supports Svetlana Alexievich. Today even more diplomats joined the Nobel Laureate in her home in Minsk, Belarus. Sweden is there together with RO, BG, IT, LT, SK, NL, AT, LV, SA, PL, EE, FR, DE, CZ, EU, FI. We continue to monitor her safety and well-being.”

  200. says

    Politico – “House Democrats probing $250M coronavirus messaging contract”:

    Senior House Democrats have launched an investigation into the Trump administration’s awarding of a $250 million communications contract to help “defeat despair and inspire hope” over the coronavirus pandemic, as they questioned the political motivations behind the taxpayer-funded messaging campaign.

    The lawmakers are also calling on the administration to halt the contract while it’s under investigation, according to a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar that was shared with POLITICO.

    “We have grave concerns that, rather than focus on planning and executing a national strategy to contain the coronavirus, the Trump Administration is using a quarter of a billion dollars in taxpayer money to fund what appears to be a political propaganda campaign just two months before a presidential election,” wrote Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), who all lead congressional oversight panels.

    The contract announcement, whose existence was first reported by POLITICO last week, says the administration aims to “install confidence to return to work and restart the economy,” while most of the funding would be steered toward public service announcements on public health, therapeutics and vaccines. The work would largely be completed by the end of January, according to the announcement.

    Democratic lawmakers argued the contract is the latest evidence of the Trump administration downplaying the risks of a virus that’s killed 190,000 people in the United States and will pose a threat to public health for months to come. The administration must “be honest about the risks Americans face and promote science-based solutions—not political spin—to finally contain the virus and prevent more unnecessary infections and deaths,” the lawmakers wrote.

    The lawmakers also raised concerns that the contract will be overseen by Michael Caputo, a longtime GOP operative and former Trump campaign staffer who was installed as HHS’ top communications official this spring. Watchdogs have questioned Caputo’s role in shaping communications during the pandemic, and POLITICO reported this week an adviser to Caputo sought to prevent infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci from speaking on the risks of coronavirus to children. Caputo, the Democrats’ letter notes, is “not a public health professional.”

    The contract was awarded on Sept. 1 to Fors Marsh Group, a small Arlington, Va.-based market research firm that’s previously done work for federal health agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the group’s website. Fors Marsh and HHS met on Thursday for the first time to get started on the contract.

    The contract, which HHS said went through a competitive bidding process, is intended to create public service announcements “designed to help Americans make informed decisions about the prevention and treatment of COVID-19 and flu,” Weber said in a statement.

    In their letter to Azar, the Democratic lawmakers demanded HHS by Sept. 24 provide them the contract awarded to Fors Marsh, any documents and communications related to the award process, and an explanation of where the funding came from. They’ve also asked the department to explain what measures it’s taking to ensure the messaging isn’t political.

    The lawmakers in another letter to Fors Marsh asked the company to turn over documents and communications related to the HHS contract, including other subcontractors and company employees working on the messaging campaign. “We are reviewing and will certainly respond and cooperate with all parties in doing so,” said Fors Marsh CEO Ben Garthwaite.

  201. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The UK has reported 3,539 confirmed new cases the biggest rise since May.

    The UK government is facing a mounting backlash from Tory MPs over its new “rule of six” law, including its refusal to follow Scotland and Wales in exempting younger children, amid reports that cabinet ministers were split over the measures.

    Boris Johnson unveiled new rules on Wednesday to replace existing guidance and make it illegal for groups of more than six to gather indoors or outdoors in England from Monday, slashing the current legal limit of 30, following a surge in Covid-19 cases.

    But, announcing Scotland’s own version of the new measures on Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon said under-12s would be exempt and, on Friday, the Welsh government made the same move for under-11s.

    The Welsh first minister, Mark Drakeford, said groups of up to 30 could continue to meet outdoors because “we see no evidence here that coronavirus is being transmitted between people when they meet in the fresh air”.

    It has prompted calls from Tory MPs, some of whom fear the rules are too draconian and risk criminalising people for exercising basic freedoms, to call for a rethink.

    Impressive swing from inaction to really stupid action.

    Meanwhile, “Because the level of infections in France has reached an ‘alarming level’, Macron’s PM boldly announces that the gouvernement will do nothing much.”

  202. says

    SC @236, Facebook and Twitter algorithms reward conspiracy theory postings. Russia compounds the problem. Some of those deeply deluded people are watching 3+ hours of conspiracy theory videos, or reading conspiracy theory dreck, every day. They are not watching nor reading any information that debunks the rubbish. Basically, they are rewiring their brains. To them, the good thing about Trump is that he reinforces the rubbish. He never challenges their rewired brains. This gives them a shot of happy juice.

    In other news: Trump has a weird habit of disclosing his own misdeeds

    Trump suggested yesterday he’s competent enough to know what not to say on tape about his own misconduct. His own record disproves the point.

    It’s been about two years since The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer wrote, “Donald Trump can’t stop telling on himself.” It remains an important point […]

    Trump deliberately misled his own country about the severity of the coronavirus threat. The fact that he acknowledged this on the record and on tape made it all the more extraordinary.

    But pressed to defend his deceptions about a life-and-death issue yesterday, the president seemed to incorporate the circumstances into his defense at a press briefing yesterday:

    “I knew that the tapes were there. These were a series of phone calls that we had — mostly phone calls…. I thought it would be interesting to talk to him for a period of, you know, calls. So we did that. I don’t know if it’s good or bad.”

    In other words, Trump seemed to be saying, in effect, “How bad could the comments have been? I knew I was being recorded and I wouldn’t have said something that made me appear awful while on tape.”

    At first blush, that might seem vaguely persuasive — or at least it might, if Trump hadn’t spent his entire presidency “telling on himself.” Confessions of wrongdoing has become a weird staple of his term in office.

    […] the first hint came less than four months into his presidency, when Trump seemed to admit to NBC News’ Lester Holt that he fired former FBI Director James Comey in order to derail a federal investigation — making it seem as if the president was eagerly trying to obstruct justice. […]

    [He] made incriminating comments on national television about his role in an illegal hush-money payment to a porn star with whom he allegedly had an extra-marital affair.

    A few months later, Trump used Twitter to lobby a government agency to do a special favor for a coal plant owned by one of his campaign contributors.

    […] in many instances, Trump has done reporters’ jobs for them, acknowledging misdeeds with surprising regularity.

    Nick Akerman, a former Watergate prosecutor, said last year, “What he’s been saying in public is the kind of thing I used to prosecute people for doing in private.”

    In context, Akerman was alluding to Trump hatching an illegal extortion scheme with Ukraine, which ultimately led to his impeachment. We know key elements of the Republican’s wrongdoing because his own White House released an official call summary featuring the president telling his counterpart in Kyiv, “I would like you to do us a favor, though.”

    Not long after the scandal broke, Trump used his position — again, on camera and on the record — to encourage two foreign governments to go after one of his domestic political rivals.

    Around the time of his presidential impeachment trial, Trump thought it’d also be a good idea to have a series of lengthy chats with Bob Woodward, who recorded the president “telling on himself” a bit more.

    [Trump’s] defense yesterday — he “knew that the tapes were there” — is predicated on the idea that Trump is competent enough to know what not to say about his own misconduct.

    His own record disproves the point

  203. tomh says

    ICE flew detainees to Virginia so the planes could transport agents to D.C. protests. A huge coronavirus outbreak followed.
    By Antonio Olivo and Nick Miroff

    The Trump administration flew immigrant detainees to Virginia this summer to facilitate the rapid deployment of Homeland Security tactical teams to quell protests in Washington, circumventing restrictions on the use of charter flights for employee travel, according to a current and a former U.S. official.

    After the transfer, dozens of the new arrivals tested positive for the novel coronavirus, fueling an outbreak at the Farmville, Va., immigration jail that infected more than 300 inmates, one of whom died.
    […]

    …the primary reason for the June 2 transfers was to skirt rules that bar ICE employees from traveling on the charter flights unless detainees are also aboard. “They needed to justify the movement of SRT,” said the DHS official, referring to the special response teams…

  204. says

    Wisconsin is facing a deadline next week for sending out absentee ballots. However, the Republican majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court halted the process yesterday. In a 4-3 ruling, the court’s majority said the delay is warranted because of questions about third-party candidates and whether they should appear on the ballot. A county election clerk said, “This is potentially a huge disaster.”

    NBC News link

    […] “This is potentially a huge disaster,” said Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell. “Just the delay of a decision is deeply irresponsible and jeopardizes the integrity of our election.”

    In Madison alone, there were 100,000 requests for absentee ballots on file and election staff planned to work all weekend on mailing them out, he said. If the court would order changes to the ballot, Dane County would have to print, package, sort and deliver 500,000 new ballots.

    The ruling came in a lawsuit by Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins, who asked the state’s highest court to take up his challenge of a Wisconsin Elections Commission decision keeping him off the ballot. The commission deadlocked in August on whether Hawkins had submitted the proper paperwork.

    Rapper Kanye West, in a separate case, is also trying to get on the ballot after the commission voted 5-1 that his nomination papers were too late. West argues that his papers, which were accepted minutes after the 5 p.m. deadline, meet the requirements to put him on the ballot. A Brown County judge said he hoped to rule within days on West’s lawsuit, which could cause further delays in the mailing of ballots.

    Whether West and Hawkins are allowed on the ballot could have a significant impact in razor-close Wisconsin. The Green Party’s 2016 presidential candidate, Jill Stein, won 31,006 votes in the state, which was more than Trump’s 22,177-vote margin over Hillary Clinton. […]

    While Sept. 17 is the deadline for clerks to mail absentee ballots to those who already have a request on file, anyone who makes a request later will still be mailed a ballot. Oct. 29 is the deadline for most voters to request a ballot by mail. Returned ballots must be received by the time polls close at 8 p.m. on Election Day.

    […] The high court asked the elections commission to provide detailed information by 5 p.m. Thursday on who had requested an absentee ballot, whether any had been sent, to whom they were mailed, when they were mailed and to what address.

    […] The court’s three liberal justices dissented, saying “given the breadth of the information requested and the minimal time allotted to obtain it (the court) is asking the impossible of our approximately 1,850 municipal clerks throughout the state.”

    […] Elections officials have been urging voters to return their ballots as soon as possible because of concerns with slower mail delivery and the expected unprecedented number of absentee ballots. State elections officials have estimated that more than 2 million of the state’s roughly 3 million eligible voters will cast absentee ballots, largely due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

    […] There has also been litigation over attempts by third parties like the Greens or candidates like West to get on the ballot in other states such as Arizona, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

  205. says

    tomb @241, JFC. The Trump administration is certainly good at seeming to obey the law, while breaking totally with the intent of the law … and simultaneously endangering the lives of immigrants and law enforcement officers.

    In other news: Twitter announced yesterday that it will label or remove content that prematurely declares victory in the U.S. election — a move that appears designed to pushback against Trump and the so-called “Red Mirage” scenario. We’ll see how well that works. Trump’s cult followers are more likely to vote in person on election day. Voters who favor the Democratic Party are more likely to vote by mail, and the counting of mail-in ballots could take as long as a week. By November 10, we should have an almost-complete count of votes.

    In other campaign news:

    Sean O’Keefe is a lifelong Republican who is voting for Joe Biden.

    As Secretary of the Navy, O’Keefe saw firsthand the honor, courage and commitment of our service members. He knows @JoeBiden @KamalaHarris will give our military and veterans the respect and support they deserve.

    https://twitter.com/NSLforBiden/status/1304099137760174081
    Video available at the link.

  206. says

    Oh, no. Not good news.

    Appeals Court Upholds FL Law Requiring Ex-Felons Repay Fees Before Regaining Voting Rights

    See comment 165 for some nonsense in North Carolina concerning court fees infringing on the rights of citizens.

    An appeals court on Friday reversed a district court’s decision and upheld a new Florida law requiring that people with past felony convictions must pay back all court fines, fees and restitution before regaining their right to vote.

    The decision, less than two months before Election Day, stands to bar hundreds of thousands of people from voting.

    “Because the felons failed to prove a violation of the Constitution, we reverse the judgment of the district court and vacate the challenged portions of its injunction,” wrote William H. Pryor Jr., chief judge of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

    The state has struggled to develop a comprehensive accounting of what, if any, fees each ex-felon needs to pay off. With weeks to go before Nov. 3, the bureaucratic hurdle could prove too much for many voters.

    “The big problem with this ruling is Florida doesn’t know how much, if any, a former felon owes,” Michael McDonald, a professor of political science at the University of Florida, observed. “A person could with good intent register to vote thinking that they’ve paid all their restitution, only to find afterwards that the state locates a stray record somewhere.”

    TPM link

    Bloomberg should pay all those fees … if he can find them in order to pay them. It would be a good use of his billions. The court fines and fees disproportionately affect Black and Brown people.

  207. tomh says

    Church Ordered to Halt Indoor Services in Ongoing Legal Fight With LA County
    September 10, 2020 NATHAN SOLIS

    LOS ANGELES (CN) — A California judge on Thursday ordered a megachurch to stop holding indoor worship services in the ongoing legal battle between Los Angeles County health officials and church officials who refuse to follow health orders meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

    The Grace Community Church of the Valley located in Sun Valley has continued to hold large-scale church services despite county health orders banning large indoor gatherings.

    On Thursday, LA County Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff ordered the church to stop holding its services under county and state health orders.

    “The Court, having considered the papers submitted by the parties, and having heard arguments of counsel, finds that there is an immediate threat to public health and safety due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Beckloff wrote.
    […]

    Church attorney Jenna Ellis wrote on Twitter, “Judge allows LA county to DENY religious freedom” to Grace Community Church and ban indoor services…

    Since the onset of the pandemic LA County has reported 251,000 confirmed infections and over 6,000 deaths.

  208. says

    Now this is one helluva dangerous conspiracy theory: False Rumors About Antifa Starting West Coast Fires Follow Months-Long Conservative Hysteria.

    […] “STOP. SPREADING. RUMORS.” read a Facebook post shared by the Douglas County, Oregon Sheriff’s Office.

    “Remember when we said rumors make this already difficult incident even harder?” the office wrote. “Rumors spread just like wildfire and now our 9-1-1 dispatchers and professional staff are being overrun with requests for information and inquiries on an UNTRUE rumor that 6 Antifa members have been arrested for setting fires in DOUGLAS COUNTY, OREGON.”

    Police in Molalla, about 45 min south of Portland, eventually edited a generic Facebook post about reporting “any suspicious activity” to clarify they were talking about possible looters, “not antifa or setting of fires.”

    “There has been NO antifa in town as of this posting at 2:00 am,” they said early Thursday.

    A journalist who’d been checking out the area, Gabriel Trumbly, told BuzzFeed News that he and his partner Jennifer Paulsen were the subject of a fake antifa rumor cycle themselves in the area. A poster in a local Facebook group claimed to have “just witnessed a fire being started” and flagged the couple’s vehicle. Several people, commenting on the post, called for violence.

    “This was kinda funny to me at first. However, after talking to Molalla PD, I was way too close to getting shot tonight,” Trumbly subsequently wrote on Twitter. “If my partner didn’t see one of the reposts, I was planning to go back a few hours later and film some more. Sounds like I would have been met by armed citizens.”

    Snopes and Politifact identified a tweet from Turning Point USA’s Katie Daviscourt, which was shared thousands of times, that pointed to the police department’s original notice about “suspicious activity” and claimed “These fires are allegedly linked to Antifa and the Riots.”

    Separately, Paul Romero, who lost Oregon’s Republican Senate primary this year to QAnon believer Jo Rae Perkins, wrote in a tweet shared more than ten thousand times that “Pallet Company in Oregon City confirmed Antifa arsonist on camera.”

    Romero told the Associated Press that the fires could be pinned on an “army of arsonists” with fireworks, but offered no evidence. The only listed pallet company in Oregon City, Willamette Week later reported, “said they had experienced no fire or arson.”

    To the north, Washington’s State Patrol and Department of Natural Resources were inundated with calls Thursday about the reports of antifa starting fires, The Spokesman-Review reported. While one man was arrested on suspicion of starting a fire on a highway, he made “no political statements” a patrol spokesperson told the paper. Accusations about the man’s affiliation with “antifa” appeared to stem from the 2014 arrest of a man with the same name at a protest in Washington. He faced charges related to weapons the police found in his backpack.

    The AP tallied yet more rumors, one about a woman who purportedly tried to start a fire in Springfield, Oregon (she didn’t) and another about a reported shootout between a landowner and arsonists.

    “So my brother is a logger as you all know,” a text message pictured in the false, viral Facebook post, began. It described the landowner discovering “a group of antifa throwing molotov cocktails on his property” and subsequently exchanging fire with the purported arsonists. Police told the AP that, contrary to the Facebook post’s claims, the described event never happened.

    The rumors, in some cases, turned into armed confrontations.

    “So we just got a few guns pulled on us,” journalist Alissa Azar tweeted, before posting a picture of the men who stopped her and other journalists with her, including Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Sergio Olmos. […]

    TPM link

    Photos and video snippets at the link.

  209. says

    And … the Michael Flynn case rolls on and on:

    The Justice Department’s move to drop charges against Michael Flynn “reflects a corrupt and politically motivated favor unworthy of our justice system,” the court-appointed attorney arguing against the Justice Department’s motion to dismiss stated in a Friday filing.

    “In the United States, Presidents do not orchestrate pressure campaigns to get the Justice Department to drop charges against defendants who have pleaded guilty — twice, before two different judges — and whose guilt is obvious,” wrote John Gleeson, a former federal judge and prosecutor appointed to oppose the Justice Department in the case.

    The extraordinarily scathing brief alleges in detail and with precision that the Justice Department broke from decades of procedure to help out a friend of […] Trump’s. Dripping with contempt for the government’s position, Gleeson argued that federal prosecutors were too lazy to respond to earlier arguments he had made, including whether the content of Flynn’s lies was material.

    […] The government has argued that Judge Sullivan lacks the authority to deny the motion to dismiss.

    In the reply brief Friday, Gleeson rejected that argument. He likened the situation to one in which a motion to dismiss a case had “resulted from a bribe of the prosecutor,” saying that judges can deny in such an example.

    […] In arguing against the DOJ, Gleeson asserted that the government either failed to respond to allegations about its misconduct and mischaracterization of the Flynn prosecution, or retreated from its earlier claims.

    […] Gleeson added that the government has also failed to directly address allegations that the Flynn case was dropped due to pressure from President Trump.

    “Indeed, the Government nowhere even mentions the President’s personal lobbying, let alone his virulent attacks on those previously involved in this prosecution,” Gleeson wrote. “Based entirely on evidence already in the public view, the only coherent explanation for the Government’s exceedingly irregular motion — as well as its demonstrable pretexts — is that the Justice Department has yielded to a pressure campaign led by the President for his political associate.”

    Gleeson concludes the brief by drawing in other recent examples of DOJ politicization: Attorney General Bill Barr’s move to argue for a lighter sentence for Roger Stone, triggering the resignation of four line prosecutors, and the debacle over the firing of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman.

    “Of course, those examples merely provide context,” Gleeson wrote. “In resolving the Government’s request for leave, the only evidence that ultimately matters is the record I have outlined above: a record replete with patently pretextual attempts to justify what is plainly a corrupt political errand for the President.”

    Link

    You can read the entire filing at the link.

  210. says

    From Joan McCarter:

    […] Anonymously, Republican senators were less bothered by Trump’s lies to the American public about a pandemic that has gone on to kill 200,000 Americans than about the fact that he would talk to Bob Woodward. “Most of us say, ‘What the hell is he doing talking to Bob Woodward at 11 at night?'” one of them told The Hill.

    Remember back in March, when McConnell talked about how Trump’s flat-footed response to the pandemic was the fault of House Democrats and impeachment? How he said that it “diverted the attention of the government?” Yeah, that. The refusal of McConnell and fellow Republicans to actually look at the evidence, to put country over party in the impeachment, has led directly to this: 200,000 people dead. McConnell’s continued insistence on putting party over country means that six months into the pandemic, he’s abandoned it.

    Link

    It’s as if all the babysitters failed to keep Toddler Trump from falling down the stairs.

  211. says

    How low can you go?

    Trump administration secretly siphoned millions out of New York Firefighters’ health program.

    On 9/11, many political officials—people like Donald Trump and Mike Pence—make appearances around the country. They make speeches and take solemn photographs near memorials. They make it a point to remind people how brave our country’s police and fire departments and other first responders are. Now The New York Daily News has a depressingly explosive story about the Trump administration’s way of remembering.

    According to the report, millions of dollars have been withheld from the Fire Department of New York’s (FDNY) World Trade Center Health Program, a program that was set up exclusively for them and which “tracks and treats FDNY firefighters and medics suffering from 9/11 related illnesses.” How much money? Where has it gone? Why have they done it? All of these questions have been pursued since the beginning of the Trump administration when the program’s director, Dr. David Prezant, first started seeing hundreds of thousands of dollars being “docked” by the U.S. Treasury.

    Prezant says there has never been an explanation, never even a warning that this money, which goes to serve the men and women who have suffered and continue to suffer from serious medical issues on behalf of serving our country, was being withheld. […]

    The program has been able to continue running as the funds have been floated by the Fire Department, which has been handing over the money with the understanding that the federal government must give it back to the people it was allotted for at some point. According to Prezant, the only partial and mysterious explanation he’s been able to get after years of silence is that the Trump administration has been in some sort “unrelated feud” with “some other agency in the city” over Medicare bills.

    New York Rep. Max Rose tweeted: “There is not a single excuse that can justify defunding medical treatment for our heroes suffering from 9/11-related illnesses.” He’s right, but the current administration is such a con at this point that all one needs to do is read about how Trump and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin have handled the majority of the COVID-19 stimulus, at the expense of people like disabled veterans. Calls from Republican Rep. Peter King and Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for answers and action have not yet been answered.

    The president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, Jake Lemonda, told the Daily News: ‘”I’m not sure what quite what to make of this other than it’s despicable. We’ve fought very hard for many years for these funds to provide proper medical treatment for our sick and injured. The withholding of these funds without a legitimate explanation is inexcusable.”

    The words “despicable” and “inexcusable” are getting shopworn in 2020.

  212. says

    Follow-up to comments 215 and 231.

    Some local Michigan headlines about Trump’s rally:

    Detroit Free Press: “Trump makes wild claims about revitalizing auto industry at Michigan rally.”

    Local news station WJRT: “President Trump rejects Michigan’s request for full coronavirus National Guard funding.”

    And there’s this from Garrett Haake:

    Trump rallies are lengthy affairs, and we have reached the point in the night, roughly ~45 minutes in, when a consistent stream of people start heading for the exits. To have gotten a spot up close they would have had to get here hours ago.

  213. says

    WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus:

    Here is why vaccine nationalism harms efforts to halt the #COVID19 pandemic: [link to his Economist piece atl]

    Going it alone will perpetuate the economic and health crisis—for all!

    The [world] is suffering but rays of light are visible. Several #COVID19 vaccines are in the final stages of their trials. Factories are producing doses, in the hope they’ll receive approval. There’s a chance that by the end of 2020, mass vaccinations could start for high-risk people.

    “Vaccine nationalism” invites the same problems that were seen at the outset of lockdowns in March, when different authorities scrambled for masks, gowns & sanitiser. Once new vaccines, drugs & tests become available, demand will vastly outstrip supply & things will get worse.

    A #COVID19 vaccine will be a precious resource. Unless we have an international plan to manage it fairly, there will be unnecessary price spikes, with unneeded hoarding in some places and life-threatening shortages in others. That suits no one’s interests.

    Global coordination will ensure that the #COVID19 vaccines are distributed on the basis of those who need it most. It also spreads a country’s risk, ensuring it has access to numerous vaccine candidates in case its preferred one doesn’t work, & is a faster return to normal life.

  214. says

    Informative thread:

    Look at the shape of these curves.

    New York and Madrid had similar epidemics until they spectacularly diverged.

    In March, both cities were caught by surprise and shut down because of #COVID19.

    In September, the situation is under control in NY and alarming in Madrid.

    Why?

    So what happened?

    #NewYork and #Madrid had significantly different responses in terms of contact tracing, number of tests, and speed of reopening.

    Let’s review each of these elements.

    This comparison is a case study on epidemic management in hub cities around the world….

    More atl.

  215. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Twelve children who likely contracted Covid-19 at three childcare operations in the US infected some of their parents and siblings, according to a study, adding to evidence that young kids can transmit the disease.

    Previous studies had suggested children aged 10 years or older can efficiently transmit the virus in school settings.

    The study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published on Friday found that much younger children can also spread the virus, including a case of an 8-month-old who apparently infected both parents.

    From the 12 documented cases acquired at the childcare facilities in Utah, virus transmission was found among at least 12 of 46 non-facility contacts, such as parents – one of whom required hospitalisation – siblings and an aunt.

    Transmission was observed from two of three children with confirmed, asymptomatic Covid-19, researchers found, further evidence that those without symptoms can spread the virus.

    From April 1 to July 10, Salt Lake County identified 17 childcare facilities, including daycare centres and day camps, with at least two confirmed Covid-19 cases within a 14-day period. Data in the CDC report involves only outbreaks in three of these.

    At two of the facilities, the researchers traced the primary infection to staff members exposed to Covid-19 through a family member.

  216. says

    SC @255, I simply cannot imagine why anyone at all would think that children cannot transmit a contagious respiratory virus.

    Related, from David Corn:

    […] this band—Donald Trump and GOP officials […] have failed to respond effectively to a pair of immense threats: a pandemic that has claimed the lives of close to 200,000 Americans, and a foreign attack on the political foundation of the country. What exacerbates this double tragedy is that Trump and his Republican supporters have done so purposefully. This has been no accident or act of unintentional incompetence. In each case, they sacrificed the public interest—including the well-being and the lives of millions of Americans—to serve their own interests. Trump and his crew have forsaken the United States of America.

    It can be easy to lose sight of this big picture, as headlines explode every hour […] evidence piles up each day—perhaps coming so fast as to overwhelm. The latest revelation (as I write) regarding Trump and the coronavirus crisis is that he told reporter Bob Woodward in March, “I wanted to always play it down.” Here is confirmation of what Americans had repeatedly seen with their own eyes for months: Trump lied about the dangers posed by this killer virus. And those lies, mostly unchallenged by his Republican allies and largely echoed by conservative media propagandists, shaped the ineffectual federal response and influenced how millions of Americans viewed the risks posed by the pandemic. One example: sticking with this big lie, Trump, who in early February privately told Woodward that the virus was airborne, refused to encourage mask-wearing. It’s likely that thousands—or tens of thousands—have died due to this.

    Trump now claims he did not want to spark a panic. That is clearly another lie. This man relishes in causing panic when it doesn’t exist: the immigrant caravan, antifa, the end of the suburbs. He downplayed the pandemic because in his misguided political calculation he believed such bad news would harm his election prospects. (Actually, doing his job well in response to this crisis would have been a damn good electoral strategy. But that did not seem to occur to Trump.) So he tossed out bullshit while Americans were perishing and the economy was crashing. […]

    Now the public has confirmation—from Trump!—that he wantonly neglected his number-one job: to safeguard the United States.

    Trump has done the same with Russia. It may seem like an old story by now, but Trump’s colossal betrayal has never fully registered. By the end of the 2016 campaign, it was clear that Vladimir Putin had mounted a covert attack on the election to help Trump and that Trump and his henchmen had aided and abetted that operation by falsely denying Russia was behind it. In the time since—due to media investigation and the Mueller inquiry—the public learned that the Trump campaign tried to collude with a secret Kremlin plot to assist Trump; that Trump had been secretly negotiating a mega-deal in Russia during the campaign (and seeking Putin’s assistance); that there were multiple contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russia-related actors; and that Trump actively sought to exploit the Russian attack for his own benefit.

    [Trump] has openly refused to hold Putin responsible for undermining American democracy. Ever sensitive about his electoral victory being tainted, Trump has continued to parrot Moscow’s we-didn’t-do-it disinformation and embraced bizarre and baseless conspiracy theories that absolve Putin, including the nonsensical notion that Ukraine had mounted the attack and was hiding Democratic Party computer servers. […]

    Link

    Trump is fond of labeling others as “traitors.” In this case he is the betrayer.

  217. says

    Fauci speaks the truth … again. Fauci disagrees with Trump … again:

    The nation’s top infectious diseases expert sharply split on Friday with […] Trump’s assertion that the country is “rounding the final turn” of the coronavirus pandemic.

    “I’m sorry but I have to disagree with that,” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, calling the United States’ coronavirus levels seven months into the pandemic “disturbing.”

    “We are plateauing around 40,000 cases a day and the deaths are around 1,000,” Fauci pointed out, adding that he hopes the country doesn’t see another spike following Labor Day weekend like it did after Memorial Day and Fourth of July as flu season draws closer.

    “What we don’t want to see is going into the fall season, when people will be spending more time indoors — and that’s not good for a respiratory-borne virus — you don’t want to start off already with a baseline that’s so high,” he said, reiterating a point he has made consistently over the last few months. […]

    Link

  218. says

    MSNBC is reporting that Nora Dannehy, the top deputy to John Durham, the guy Trump and Barr have doing the sham investigation of the Trump-Russia investigation, has resigned. Andrew Weissman is on now saying she’s known for doing high-profile public corruption cases.

  219. says

    From Wonkette:

    Holy Adderall, Batman! Trump went to Michigan last night for another superspreader rally, and it was HOOBOY! By the time we get to November, he’s going to be gnawing on the podium and shouting racial slurs.

    Hell, we’re halfway there now!

    Trump started off his rant at MBS International Airport in Freeland by claiming to have “brought you a lot of car plants, Michigan.”

    “Long time, it’s been a long time since you had all these plants being built,” he blarped. “But we brought you a lot over the last three and a half years, and we’re going to bring you a lot more.”

    Later he claimed to have singlehandedly bullied Japanese President Shinzo Abe into bringing five car companies to Michigan.

    I went to Prime Minister Abe of Japan. I say, “Prime Minister, you have to start doing something.” He’s a great guy. He’ll be retiring soon. He’s a great guy, the prime minister of Japan, Abe. I say, “Shinzō, Shinzō, you have to do me a favor. You’ve got to send car plants over here. You’re sending all those cars. We stupidly don’t-

    You’re sending all those cars. We stupidly don’t charge you tariffs on those cars that pour into our country. I said, “Shinzo, you got to give us plants.” “No, no, no, I can’t do that. That is up to the free enterprise system of Japan.” I say, “Shinzo, you’re a powerful man. You can do it.” “Oh, I can’t do it.” The next day they announced five car companies are coming to Michigan.

    The Freep has an in-depth factcheck on this one, but, long story short: NO. WTF?

    Anyway, uh, “On November 3rd, Michigan, you better vote for me. I got you so many damn car plants.”

    Then it was on to a rapid-fire fusillade of lies.

    Not only does Joe Biden want to eliminate your jobs, he wants to eliminate your borders. He’s promised to flood your state with refugees. You know that as well as I do. You see it all the time. From terrorist hotspots around the world, including Syria, Somalia, and Yemen, Biden’s pledged to have a 700% increase. He made this deal with crazy Bernie, a 700% increase in the flow of refugees. So, he wants to lift it up by 700%. This is in their manifesto.

    He’s also pledged to terminate all national security travel bans, overwhelming your state with poorly vetted migrants from jihadist regions. Making matters worse, he would open the flood gates in the middle of a pandemic. By the way, the wall, it’s over 311 miles long right now doing very well.

    No, Biden doesn’t support “open borders.” Trump cut immigration from 130,000 per year to 18,000. Biden wants to go back to status quo ante, including repeal of Trump’s racist travel bans. The US State Department is perfectly capable of vetting refugees. Although pointing to jihadists just hours after Trump himself said at a White House press conference that “We’re getting along very, very well with the Taliban” is a nice touch, particularly on the eve of September 11. Oh, and the sum total of new border wall constructed by Trump is a whopping five miles. […]

    Ummm, does anyone know what these words mean?

    Biden is waging war against the American middle class. I think most of you are not middle class. You’re upper class. You’re the elite. You know the way they talk about the elite, the elite, they’re really elite. I see them. They’re not elite. You’re the elite. The elite has decided. Boy, have we hurt the elite, haven’t we now? You’re the super elite.

    Drink!

    Then it was on to calling Biden a senile old dotard who is simultaneously the General of Antifa, before blaming Michigan’s popular Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for the Big Ten’s decision to postpone the college football season.

    “We want a governor, John James, that’s going to let Michigan play Big Ten football this year,” Trump shouted.

    John James is running for Senate.

    Then it was time for some good old red meat racism with some extremely realistic marital dialogue.

    Look at what I’ve done for your suburbs. You know what I’ve done. You know what I’ve done. Does anybody want to have somebody from Antifa as a member and as a resident of your suburb? I don’t think so too much. “Say, Darling, who moved in next door?” “Oh, it’s a resident of Antifa.” “No, thank you. Let’s get out of here. Let’s get the hell out of here, darling. Let’s leave our suburbs. I wish Trump were president. He wouldn’t have allowed that to happen.” And that’s exactly right, I won’t allow it to happen.

    LOL, okay. As a married person who actually talks to her spouse every day, can report the dialogue would go more like this:

    Wife: We got new neighbors.

    Husband: No shit. Wait ’til they start digging and find the people that sold them that house buried every pet they ever had in the yard.

    Wife: Right? It’s like Stephen King over there. Anyway, I hear they’re in antifa.

    Husband: Oh, yeah? Bet they can get great weed. See if they want to come for a beer or whatever.

    Wife: Jesus, you have no chill! Well, thank God they’re not Trumpers anyway.

    […] when Trump first saw John James on TV, he shouted, “Who was that?” and the aide said “I don’t know, sir.” Because the aide is respectful! And Trump said, “Play it back. That man is going to be a star!” Luckily “with the wonderful invention of TiVo, one of the greats, you can play it back,” and that’s how John James got his start in politics.

    “I endorsed him and he went like a rocket ship!” Trump boasted of James’s seven-point loss. Then Trump told James he was a shoo-in for a House seat, or he could run against some guy no one ever heard of for Senate. And James said, “Sir, I can do more in the Senate than I can do in the House.” You can tell this actually happened because of the “sir.”

    […] Then Trump compared himself to Winston Churchill. Because Trump wanted to “play down” the dangers of coronavirus the way Churchill played down the dangers of WWII. For real, you guys.

    We’re doing very well. As the British government advised the British people in the face of World War II, “Keep calm and carry on.” That’s what I did. This wackjob that wrote the book, he said, “Well, Trump knew a little bit.” They wanted me to come out and scream, “People are dying, we’re dying.” No, no, we did it just the right way. We have to be calm. We don’t want to be crazed lunatics. We have to lead.

    When Hitler was bombing, I don’t know if you know this, when Hitler was bombing London, Churchill, great leader, would oftentimes go to a roof in London and speak, and he always spoke with calmness. He said, “We have to show calmness.” No, we did it the right way and we’ve done a job like nobody.

    [Trump hid in his underground bunker.]

    […] Who can forget when Churchill said, “Don’t worry about the Nazis, they’ll go away in the spring when the weather gets warm.” Or “With the blackout curtains, it’s going to be really a voluntary thing. You can do it, you don’t have to do it. I’m choosing not to do it, but some people may want to do it and that’s okay.”

    “We shall defend our island, unless it starts to affect the stock market,” said Ol’ Winston. “We shall fight on the golf courses, we shall fight in the hotels, we shall fight in all the Trump properties in the land, but we shall stay away from the windmills because of the cancer. We shall never surrender, unless it gets too hard, in which case we shall declare victory and send the kids back to school.”

  220. says

    SC @258 and 260. Yep. It looks like Danny had too much integrity to continue down the trumpian corruption road.

    On another subject, I noticed that Trump is not talking about the wildfires in California and Oregon. At least 10 people have died in CA, and about half a million Oregonians have been warned to evacuate their homes.

  221. says

    Follow-up to comments 258, 260 and 261.

    The Hartford Courant reports that Nora R. Dannehy resigned from the Durham investigation this week. That decision, the paper says, was at least partly motivated by alleged attempts at speeding up the investigation for political reasons by Attorney General Bill Barr.

    The report cites colleagues of Dannehy’s, who told the paper that, in the Courant’s words, she “has been concerned in recent weeks by what she believed was pressure from Barr — who appointed Durham — to produce results before the election.”

    Citing the same anonymous colleagues, the paper also reports that Dannehy has been considering resignation in recent weeks amid “concern about politics.”

    The report offered few specifics about the reasons for Dannehy’s concerns. But it notes that other “Durham associates” believe that Barr has been pressuring him to produce some sort of result before the November election.

    It also offers this fairly detailed insight into the life of a Durham investigation prosecutor, as it stands today:

    Dannehy was told to expect an assignment of from six months to a year when she agreed to join Durham’s team in Washington, colleagues said. The work has taken far longer than expected, in part because of complications caused by the corona virus pandemic. In the meantime, team members — some of whom are current or former federal investigators or prosecutors with homes in Connecticut — have been working long hours in Washington under pressure to produce results, associates said.

    […]

    Link

  222. says

    From Wonkette: “Nevada Shuts Down Trump’s Planned Maskless Moron Rallies. Sad!”

    Donald Trump desperately wants to keep having his campaign Klan-bakes. They remind him of a simpler time when his negligence and lies hadn’t resulted in the deaths of almost 200,000 Americans. He scheduled a couple hate rallies in Nevada this weekend, both at airports, where he presumably believes COVID-19 can’t get past security.

    However, the 5,000 idiots expected to attend Trump’s Saturday rally at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport would violate Gov. Steve Sisolak’s emergency directive limiting public gatherings to no more than 50 people who enjoy living. Tina Iftiger, senior vice president and chief commercial officer at the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority, sent a letter to the company that leased the airport hangar to Trump’s campaign. She politely explained to Hangar 9, LLC all the reasons why Trump can’t have his superspreader event at the airport.

    Claude Cognian, a manager at Hangar 9, issued a whiny response Wednesday, conceding defeat by science.

    “Based on our conversation yesterday that, if we were to proceed we will be in violation of our lease with the RTTA and create a default and, we would found ourselves with no hangar for the aircrafts in the future,” Cognian wrote. “Then, this leave us with no other option than to communicate to President Trump and his campaign that we cannot help him/them and we are withdrawing the offer to use the hangar.”

    Awww … so sad! Hangar 9 had offered the Trump campaign a sweetheart deal where the company would let Trump use the hangar for his rally and his campaign would pay for moving the aircrafts and prepping the space (this was probably another bill that would go unpaid).

    The president also planned to hold a rally Sunday evening outside Las Vegas at private jet operator Cirrus Aviation. This was news to the folks at McCarran International Airport, which Cirrus never contacted for permission as required by the company’s lease. That coronapalooza isn’t happening either.

    Adam Paul Laxalt, Nevada’s former attorney general, tweeted Wednesday morning that both Nevada rallies were cancelled in an “unprecedented” act of “partisan political retribution.” Yes, Nevada has a Democratic governor, but COVID-19’s political leanings are unknown. Given its callous disregard for human life, we assume it’s college-aged libertarian. […]

    Laxalt somehow thinks Nevada is a swing state. The most recent poll showed Biden comfortably ahead. He should know how Nevada rolls considering Sisolak kicked his ass in the 2018 governor’s race.

    Trump’s campaign spokesman, Tim Murtaugh, reassured his supporters that Trump would find some way to spit COVID-19 on them. He also claimed without evidence that the cancelled rallies were part of some leftwing conspiracy. Democrats didn’t make Trump such a malignant narcissist he’d insist on holding large gatherings in defiance of public health guidelines. He was born that way.

    MURTAUGH: Democrats are trying to keep President Trump from speaking to voters because they know the enthusiasm behind his reelection campaign cannot be matched by Joe Biden — a historically weak candidate controlled by the radical left who could hold a campaign event in a broom closet.

    The kitchen sink attack continues: Biden is as boring as a Pat Boone concert while simultaneously in the thrall of the “radical left.” If Republicans want to blame Biden for the antifa riots, they should at least give him credit for the turnout. He’s headlining a multi-city, commie Coachella fest.

    You can tell Trump is jealous. Tuesday, during his maskless moron event in North Carolina, Trump described his rally as a “peaceful protest.”

    “You can’t go to church,” Trump said. “But if you are willing to riot … you are allowed to do that because you’re considered a peaceful protester. So we decided to call all of our rallies peaceful protests.”

    This doofus thinks people are allowed to riot. The police immediately declare an “unlawful assembly” at the sight of a water bottle held aggressively. Rioters and looters are arrested. Actual peaceful protesters are still roughed up, pepper-sprayed, and tear-gassed. It’s not a big party. Trump should know. He sent the feds in to crash it.

    Our thanks to everyone who ensured Nevada remains safe and Trump-free.

    Link

  223. says

    Just Security – “Breaking: Colonel Montano, Extradited from the United States, Found Guilty of the Jesuits Massacre by Spanish Court”:

    A Spanish court has convicted Colonel Inocente Orlando Montano for his role in the 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter. Montano, who was Vice-Minister for Public Security at the time, was sentenced for 26 years’ imprisonment for each of the murders (although the Spanish maximum sentence is 30 years)—effectively a life sentence for a man of his age. Montano’s claims of innocence were contradicted by a key former soldier who turned “state’s witness” and testified against him as well as expert testimony from my colleague Terry Karl. The case was initiated by the Center for Justice & Accountability and tried by lawyers with the Guernica Centre for International Justice, part of the Guernica Group of international lawyers, and Spanish co-counsel Ollé & Sesé Abogados, acting as private prosecutors.

    As I discussed earlier, the United States extradited the defendant in 2017, after a drawn out process following his conviction for visa fraud. El Salvador refused to extradite other individuals charged in Spain, so Montano was alone in the dock. Because he was technically extradited only to stand trial for the murders of the five Spanish victims, the court did not convict Montano for the deaths of the three Salvadoran victims. This is by operation of the international law principle of specialty, which states that when a person is extradited to stand trial for a certain criminal offense, they may only be tried for that offense and not for any additional charges without the express consent of the surrendering state. That said, the court determined that Montano was responsible for all the deaths as well by virtue of his involvement in the conspiracy.

    To date, most cases arising out of the “dirty war” in El Salvador have proceeded in foreign courts, including here in the United States under the Alien Tort Claims Act and Torture Victim Protection Act. For many years, a blanket amnesty law blocked cases—civil and criminal—in El Salvador. That law was declared unconstitutional in 2016. As such, a few cases are moving forward in El Salvador, the most important being the case involving the horrific El Mozote massacre, which is proceeding notwithstanding the pandemic. In an important new development, a Salvadoran judge recently issued an order to protect military files related to the massacre.

    Declassified documents collected by the indomitable National Security Archive (NSA)—from the State Department, Department of Defense, and Central Intelligence Agency—coupled with the testimony of NSA analyst Kate Doyle played a key role in securing this conviction. Not all files from this era have been declassified, however. The United States should declassify the remaining U.S. government files relating to the conflict in El Salvador (as it has done with respect to Chile and Argentina) given the passage of time and the global movement to reckon with Cold War era atrocities. In a statement, the lead lawyer Almudena Bernabeu explained that this case was perhaps easier to prosecute after the events in question because more evidence—documentary and testimonial—was available than would have been in the immediate aftermath of the massacre.

    Coming 31 years after the events in question, this verdict is a testament to the patience and tenaciousness of victims, the inevitability of justice, and how impunity can be ephemeral.

    One of the murdered priests was liberation psychologist Ignacio Martín-Baró.

  224. says

    In comment 261, the woman’s name is “Dannehy.” [Federal prosecutor Nora Dannehy] Autocorrect messed me up and I didn’t catch the error.

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    […] If this is accurate, it’s an important development: a respected career prosecutor has apparently seen first-hand evidence of political pressure — during an election season — into in a supposedly independent federal investigation.

    Matthew Miller, a Justice Department veteran and an MSNBC analyst, noted today that is Dannehy “an incredibly well-respected prosecutor,” who is “not the type of person who would take this step for no reason.” […]

    From text quoted by SC in comment 264: “impunity can be ephemeral.” Please let it be so for Trump.

  225. tomh says

    @ #248 Re: Flynn case

    Oral Argument is set for 9/29/2020 at 11:00 AM Via Teleconference.

    It seems unlikely that Flynn will get sentenced quickly enough so that Trump will pardon him before the election as I had hoped, but in any case it will be a circus.

  226. KG says

    “In #Belarus, de facto president Lukashenka tells security forces that ‘sometimes you have to break the law when you are facing horrible interference from abroad’. SC@189, quoting Alex Kokcharov

    One of the replies makes the exact comparison I was going to with Johnson’s shameless violation of international law (simply announcing the intention to pass a law overriding an international treaty is already such a violation, apparently).

  227. KG says

    Further to SC@191 – comparison of Thursday’s US and EU Covid-19 deaths.

    There is an unexplained divergence between the US and Europe. Right across Europe, Covid-19 cases have been rising, in some cases very fast – but while there has been some increase in hospitalizations and deaths, this has so far been much less. There are several possible explanations, but AFAIK, no-one knows which have contributed to the difference:
    1) Time. The resurgence in the USA came considerably earlier, and deaths rose several weeks late than cases. Possibly the same will happen in Europe. This would mean the comparison @191 flatters Europe.
    2) Inadequate testing in the US. There may just be many more cases in the US than are being recorded. But it’s worth noting that the current pattern is the reverse of that found over the whole course of the pandemic, where the ratio of deaths to cases has been considerably higher in Europe (currently 183,697 to 2,511,049 across the EEA and UK, i.e. most of non-Russian Europe).
    3) Different demographics. A large proportion of cases in Europe are currently in younger people, although there are now signs it’s spreading into older people. I don’t know the demographics of the infections in the USA. Overall, Europe has a significantly older population.
    4) Lower European levels of some medical and social conditions that increase the risk of death from Covid-19 if you catch it, notably obesity and poverty.
    5) Earlier andor better treatment in Europe. Going to hospital will not, for citizens, result in huge expense.

  228. KG says

    SC@238 (Nixon and Trump),
    I recall when the existence of the White house tapes that did for Nixon first emerged, Private Eye ran a cartoon with the caption “Nixon bugs himself” (he was already known to have recorded others), and a speech bubble emerging from the White house, bearing the words: “I’m a silly bugger”. But this pales into insignificance next to Trump allowing Woodward to record his boasts about lying over Covid-19.

  229. blf says

    Trump ally who sought to change CDC Covid reports claims he was fighting deep state:

    […]
    A former Trump campaign official [and] now spokesman for the US health department sought to change key reports on the coronavirus pandemic, in some cases “openly complaining” that they “would undermine the president’s optimistic messages about the outbreak”, according to internal emails seen by Politico [Trump officials interfered with CDC reports on Covid-19].

    The official, Michael Caputo, told the website he was attempting to stymie ulterior deep state motives in the bowels of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC.

    The news comes after reports that a whistleblower at the Department of Homeland Security said he was told to stop making Donald Trump look bad, via reports on Russian election interference.

    […]

    Caputo, who became spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services in April, is a Republican consultant who worked on the Trump campaign in 2015 and 2016. He has links to Russia, having worked in the country’s energy industry, and to Roger Stone […].

    Politico reported that under Caputo’s direction, CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports [MMWR] were subject to “substantial efforts to align … with Trump’s statements, including the president’s [sic] claims that fears about the outbreak are overstated, or stop the reports altogether”.

    “Caputo and his team have attempted to add caveats to the CDC’s findings,” the website said, “including an effort to retroactively change agency reports that they said wrongly inflated the risks of Covid-19 and should have made clear that Americans sickened by the virus may have been infected because of their own behavior.”

    One report Caputo’s team tried to stop, the website said, concerned hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug which Trump and key aides pushed for use in treatment of Covid-19 but which studies have said can be dangerous. The report was published last week, reportedly after being held for a month because its authors’ political views were in question.

    This is what Politco has to say on the incident (see embedded link above):

    Caputo’s team also has tried to halt the release of some CDC reports, including delaying a report that addressed how doctors were prescribing hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug favored by Trump as a coronavirus treatment despite scant evidence. The report, which was held for about a month after Caputo’s team raised questions about its authors’ political leanings, was finally published last week. It said that “the potential benefits of these drugs do not outweigh their risks.”

    No so much as “its authors’ political views were in question” as teh wannabe-dalek was throwing shite around and “raised questions about its authors’ political leanings”.

    Back to the Gruaniad:

    In one August email seen by Politico, another political appointee accused the CDC of writing hit pieces on the administration and trying to hurt the president.

    […]

    The Grauniad’s summary article, and/or (especially) the Politico report, is worth reading in its entirety. For example, another snippet from Politico:

    Caputo’s team has spent months clashing with scientific experts across the administration. [Appointee Paul] Alexander this week tried to muzzle infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci from speaking about the risks of the coronavirus to children, and The Washington Post reported in July that Alexander had criticized the CDC’s methods and findings.

    But public health experts told POLITICO that they were particularly alarmed that the CDC’s reports could face political interference, praising the MMWRs as essential to fighting the pandemic.

    “It’s the go-to place for the public health community to get information that’s scientifically vetted,” said Jennifer Kates, who leads the Kaiser Family Foundation’s global health work. In an interview with POLITICO, Kates rattled off nearly a dozen examples of MMWR reports that she and other researchers have relied on to determine how Covid-19 has spread and who’s at highest risk, including reports on how the virus has been transmitted in nursing homes, at churches and among children.

    This Paul Alexander apparent stooge is “an assistant professor of health research at McMaster University near Toronto”, whom teh wannabe-dalek describes as “an Oxford-educated epidemiologist who specializes in analyzing the work of other scientists“.

  230. says

    TPM link

    The Colorado Secretary of State says USPS is sending ‘misinformation’ to voters. Aiyiyiyi.

    Colorado secretary of state Jena Griswold (D) took aim at the U.S. Postal Service on Twitter late Friday after she said the mail service had sent out a misleading informational postcard to voters containing an inaccurate checklist for mail-in voting that could undermine the election and “suppress votes.”

    […] The postcard, sent to homes across the country, contained a checklist intended to help those voting by mail prepare for the upcoming November elections […]

    Among its listed priorities is for eligible voters to “request a ballot,” which is unnecessary in some states where elections officials send out ballots automatically to every registered voter.

    The USPS postcard also incorrectly advises voters to “mail your ballot at least 7 days before Election Day,” even though voters in some states — including Colorado– are told by local election officials to mail them back sooner.

    “Why is the USPS telling voters a different timeline?” Griswold tweeted.

    “Confusing voters about mail ballots in the middle of a pandemic is unacceptable,” Griswold tweeted. “It can undermine confidence in the election & suppress votes. I will do everything in my power to stop @USPS from sending misinformation to voters.”

    Griswold said that secretaries of state had asked postmaster general Louis DeJoy to review a draft before election information was sent out to voters to make sure it was accurate, adding that the Trump-allied, former GOP mega-donor refused. “Now millions of postcards with misinformation are printed & being mailed to voters,” Griswold wrote. She added that officials in her state had asked the USPS not to send the postcards but “they flat out refused.”

    […] marred by “refusal” from postal officials to heed the recommendations of election experts.

    She contended that a failure to listen to local experts combined with the recent postal delays in some parts of the country is “beyond suspect.” […]

    USPS spokesperson David Rupert issued a statement Friday obtained by a local NBC-affiliated station, KUSA, addressing Griswold’s concerns, saying that the USPS had started a multi-pronged public information effort in August that will continue through Election Day. The “nonpartisan” campaign was aimed at educating the public about the mail service’s role in the mail-in ballot process.

    “The non-partisan campaign neither encourages nor discourages mail-in voting; rather, it is designed to reach and inform all voters about the importance of planning ahead if they plan to vote by mail, Rupert said.

  231. says

    “Science” Editor’s Scathing New Column: Trump’s COVID Lies “Cost Countless Lives” (Mother Jones link.)

    The Editor-in-Chief of the influential academic journal Science has slammed […] Trump as a dangerous liar, whose deliberate distortions of the coronavirus crisis have “demoralized the scientific community and cost countless lives in the United States” by muzzling health officials and sowing confusion.

    In a new column published Friday by the peer-reviewed outlet, H. Holden Thorp argued that, “Trump was not confused or inadequately briefed: He flat-out lied, repeatedly, about science to the American people.” This, he says, “may be the most shameful moment in the history of U.S. science policy.”

    Thorp, a distinguished chemist and the top editor for the Science family of journals, was reacting to revelations contained in a new book by journalist Bob Woodward, and accompanying tapes, that show Trump knew about the severity of the coronavirus, and even how the pathogen might spread in the air, in early February, even as he obfuscated and misled the public by insisting the virus would miraculously disappear. “I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told Woodward in March. “I still like playing it down.”

    “Trump was not clueless,” Thorp concludes. “He was not ignoring the briefings. Listen to his own words. Trump lied, plain and simple.”

    The newly reported Trump comments provide crucial new ways to understand how the coronavirus crisis unfolded in the U.S.—and makes watching this Mother Jones super-cut of Trump’s early denials and deflections even more chilling: [Video available at the Mother Jones link]

    Science magazine link
    Excerpt:

    Trump also knew that the virus could be deadly for young people. “It’s not just old, older,” he told Woodward on 19 March. “Young people, too, plenty of young people.” Yet, he has insisted that schools and universities reopen and that college football should resume. He recently added to his advisory team Scott Atlas—a neuroradiologist with no expertise in epidemiology—who has advocated for a risky and misguided course: somehow isolating the older and more vulnerable while allowing the virus free rein among young people. The opening of colleges and schools has accelerated the spread of the virus and will mean untold suffering among both students and the people to whom they are now spreading the virus.

  232. says

    Mike Pompeo Plans to Push His Anti-LGBTQ Commission at the UN

    The commission’s report described abortion and same-sex marriage as “divisive social and political controversies.”

    Two months after a controversial State Department commission elevated religious freedom at the expense of LGBTQ equality and reproductive rights, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is planning to promote its findings at the United Nations, Mother Jones has learned.

    During the UN General Assembly, which begins on September 15 in New York, Pompeo is expected to lead an event centered on human rights and, specifically, the report from the Commission on Unalienable Rights, which he formed last year. Meanwhile, on September 16, the commission’s chair and secretary are staging a virtual event with the US ambassador to the UN office in Geneva to present its report to the international community.

    Since its formation, the commission has been a Pompeo project through and through, stacked with anti-LGBTQ scholars and headed by his former boss. Its ostensible purpose, which Pompeo outlined in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, was to distinguish between unalienable rights, which “are by nature universal,” and ad hoc rights created by “politicians and bureaucrats.” That argument—and the extremely public, anti-LGBTQ views held by its members—led the human rights advocacy community to disavow the commission and its report, which unsurprisingly turned out to prioritize religious freedom while labeling abortion and same-sex marriage as “divisive social and political controversies.”

    The harsh response has not deterred Pompeo in the slightest. Within weeks of the draft report’s publication in July, it had been translated into six languages, including Farsi. (Given the Trump administration’s increasingly hostile stance toward Iran, that was certainly no accident.)

    “It just shows this is Pompeo’s pet project and he’s not going to let it go,” Mark Bromley, chair of the Council on Global Equality, told me. In an effort to blunt Pompeo’s broad promotion of the report, Bromley’s group and several other advocacy organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Equity Forward, and Human Rights First, have been emailing foreign diplomats urging them to reject the report and not support Pompeo’s UN event. […]

  233. says

    Twitter again flags Trump tweet about voting in North Carolina.

    https://twitter.com/TwitterSafety/status/1304793046542880768

    We placed a public interest notice on this Tweet for violating our Civic Integrity Policy, specifically for encouraging people to potentially vote twice.

    Trump’s tweet:

    NORTH CAROLINA: To make sure your Ballot COUNTS, sign & send it in EARLY. When Polls open, go to your Polling Place to see if it was COUNTED. IF NOT, VOTE! Your signed Ballot will not count because your vote has been posted. Don’t let them illegally take your vote away from you!

  234. says

    More than a million acres have been burned in Oregon. At least six people died as a result of wildfires in Oregon.

    Wildfire news related to Washington State:

    […] In Washington, fires spread rapidly amid howling, dry winds. More than 600,000 acres — the largest burned area in state history since 2015′s historic season — have burned in active fires this week alone, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said Friday. […]

    Washington Post link

    Maps of fires in Washington, Oregon and California are available at the link.

    In California alone, 28 major wildfires were burning Friday, including the state’s largest on record. Five of the state’s top 20 largest wildfires are actively burning. Since the beginning of the year, wildfires have burned over 3.2 million acres in California.

  235. blf says

    Trump in Fox News interview to accuse Biden of taking drugs:

    […]
    Fox News will broadcast an interview on Saturday night in which Donald Trump accuses Joe Biden of taking performance-enhancing drugs.

    I think there’s probably — possibly — drugs involved, Trump told Jeanine Pirro, in a released excerpt. That’s what I hear. I mean, there’s possibly drugs. I don’t know how you can go from being so bad where you can’t even get out a sentence…

    Trump did not finish his own sentence, but he went on to say he was referring to the Democratic presidential nominee’s hesitant performances in early primary debates, before his surge to victory on the back of a win in South Carolina.

    […]

    Trump’s claim came not long after his oldest son, Donald Trump Jr, denied claims he used cocaine before speaking at the Republican convention. […]

    [… hair furor has tried this dubious assertion about Biden before…]

    This week, Trump claimed to have been channeling Churchill when he chose not to tell the public what he knew about the coronavirus threat. The claim met with ridicule.

    Asked by the [Washington] Examiner if he was comparing the debates to a boxing match, before which fighters are tested for banned substances, Trump said: Well, it is a prizefight.

    It’s no different from the gladiators, except we have to use our brain and our mouth. And our body to stand. I want all standing. They want to sit down.

    […]

    Trump is famously teetotal and disapproving of drug use but his political rise has been fueled by a well-documented love for Diet Coke and junk food.

    Beset by speculation about his physical and cognitive health, earlier this month the president [sic] was moved to deny rumours that a “series of ministrokes” prompted a short-notice visit to hospital in Washington last November.

  236. blf says

    Follow-up to SC@187, Mike Pence backs out of fundraiser hosted by QAnon supporters:

    […] Mike Pence has cancelled plans to attend a campaign fundraiser for President Donald Trump in Montana following revelations that the event’s hosts had expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory.

    […]

    Pence has said QAnon is a conspiracy theory and last month told CBS, “I don’t know anything about QAnon and I dismiss it out of hand.”

    I opted not to set Pence’s blatterings as an eejit quote — which is normally automatic for anything hair furor, Pence, or teh dalekocrazies bellow — because, whilst the first part is dubious, the second part is both clear and sensible.

    Trump, however, has not said outright that QAnon is false and even has had positive things to say about supporters and Republican Party candidates who embrace the movement.

    [… more about some of the kooks scheduled to be at the covidathon…]

  237. blf says

    Big Pharma wages stealth war on drug price watchdog:

    Big Pharma is using stealth tactics to undermine credibility of non-profit that holds down US drug prices.

    As evidence grew this spring that the drug remdesivir was helping COVID-19 patients, some Wall Street investors bet on analysts’ estimates that its maker, Gilead Sciences Inc, could charge up to $10,000 for the treatment.

    Then a small but increasingly influential drug-pricing research organisation, the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER), said the treatment only justified a price between $2,800 and $5,000. Shortly after, Gilead announced it would charge about $3,100 for a five-day treatment and $5,700 for 10 days — in line with the ICER recommendation.

    The episode illustrates the growing power of the Boston-based nonprofit to hold down US drug prices. Over the past five years, ICER has pressured drugmakers to lower the cost of nearly 100 drugs. It aims to play a similar role with emerging COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. Health insurers increasingly use ICER’s fair-value analyses to limit access to expensive drugs or to negotiate steeper discounts with drugmakers.

    The industry has moved aggressively to combat the threat to its profits in two ways: With open criticism of ICER’s formula and with a stealthier campaign to undermine its credibility through proxies, including veterans’ groups and organisations that claim to advocate for patients but have ties to the pharmaceutical industry, Reuters news agency found in a review of industry connections and funding among groups targeting ICER.

    Two such groups — the Partnership to Improve Patient Care (PIPC) and Value our Health — are led by employees of Thorn Run Partners, a Washington, DC-based lobbying and public relations firm that counts nearly a dozen drugmakers as clients. […]

    As remdesivir gained momentum, PIPC complained to ICER in a June letter that its methodology, which examines how a drug improves patient quality of life, was unfair for COVID-19 drugs. It also held a webinar for patients criticising ICER’s methods.

    […]

    ICER’s assessments are not used to deny care to patients based on their health, [the Harvard academic who started ICER, Steven] Pearson said. Rather, the formula helps insurers or government programmes choose the most cost-effective treatment for a specific condition, based on its price and benefit in providing a better quality of life. Pearson pointed out that the formula has long been used in the health systems of countries including England, Canada, the Netherlands and Sweden.

    […]

    The industry has followed the same playbook before: soliciting criticism from outside groups — some of which it finances or staffs — to create the impression of a broad-based patient uprising against ICER’s pricing assessments rather than an industry push to protect profits.

    […]

    Last year, ICER invited input as it revamped its assessment methods. Two of more than 50 comment letters came from six California veterans’ groups, who blasted an ICER contract with the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), saying its formula denies veterans care and inherently discriminates against people with disabilities.

    But no one from the veterans’ groups wrote the complaints. Officials from the organisations told Reuters news that they lent their names to letters composed instead by Peter Conaty, the pharmaceutical industry’s go-to lobbyist in California. Half-a-dozen health policy specialists told Reuters that the veterans’ complaints look like part of an “astroturf” campaign — a phoney grassroots movement backed by corporate interests. […]

    […]

    Matt Eyles, president of insurance lobby America’s Health Insurance Plans, said ICER plays a key role in holding down “out of control” drug prices. “Big Pharma is doing everything in its power — including pushing other groups to levy false claims of analytical bias and discrimination — to undermine ICER’s long history of independence and its commitment to bringing value into drug pricing.”

    The VA […] started using ICER drug-value assessments in 2017 to negotiate lower prices with pharmaceutical firms. […]

    […]

    ICER uses a decades-old formula called the quality-adjusted life year (QALY) — the cost of one year of good health for one patient — to estimate fair value. European nations have long used QALY to guide their drug coverage, and ICER defends it as the gold standard.

    […]

    The industry’s largest US trade group — the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA — has publicly criticized ICER’s formula as undervaluing drugs, arguing it fails to consider certain patient benefits, such as the ability to return to work. Randy Burkholder, one of PhRMA’s top lobbyists, called the method fundamentally and intractably flawed in an interview. The National Pharmaceutical Council, an industry-financed research group, has regularly criticised ICER in the media, arguing that drugmakers will invest less in future treatments if ICER’s recommendations limit prices.

    Groups, including PIPC, are parroting the industry arguments while claiming to represent patients — without disclosing their industry ties, according to a Reuters review of the groups’ press releases, blogs, webcasts and letters. Value our Health — which has been represented by Shea McCarthy, a Thorn Run public relations partner and lobbyist — is one of half-a-dozen organisations that has regularly flooded health and policy journalists with emails lambasting ICER.

    Sara van Geertruyden, PIPC’s executive director, is also a Thorn Run public relations partner. She said the group advocates for patients and denied that PIPC is a proxy for pharmaceutical-industry interests or that it has concealed its industry ties. She blasted ICER as a payer-focused organisation delivering skewed assessments that allow insurers to deny patients access to drugs. Is it any surprise patients would be concerned? she asked.

    […]

    ICER responds to industry accusations of discrimination by arguing that its review process is flexible and considers additional measures besides QALY when warranted. As an example, ICER points to its verdict on Luxturna, an $850,000-per-patient gene therapy from Spark Therapeutics Inc, now part of Roche Holding AG. Luxturna improves eyesight in children who have a rare genetic disorder causing blindness. Though the QALY numbers did not support that price, ICER determined that Luxturna was cost-effective because it reduced the burden on the children’s’ caregivers.

    […]

    ICER started focusing on drug prices in 2015 and has since evaluated nearly 100 treatments, taking on those that insurers worry will raise overall healthcare costs. ICER has considered only a handful of those therapies to be cost-effective at full list price, and only a third to be fairly priced after considering drugmaker discounts, according to data it provided to Reuters.

    Big Pharma had its first big ICER problem in 2015 when the group recommended to health insurers that two new drugs to treat high cholesterol should cost about one-third of the manufacturers’ prices. The analysis prompted insurers to sharply limit use of the treatments and eventually forced drugmakers Amgen Inc, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc and Sanofi SA to slash prices. […]

    […]

    Today, the largest US health insurers, such as Cigna Corp and CVS, use ICER findings to negotiate discounts. New York’s Medicaid program has used ICER to push drug companies to lower prices, and other states are considering it.

    In July, the New York State Medicaid board voted to demand that Biogen Inc sell its spinal muscular atrophy drug to the state at the ICER-prescribed price of about $77,000 for a typical year of treatments — an 80-percent discount off Biogen’s list price. […]

    […]

    It’s a much longer article as suggested by the above long excerpt.

  238. blf says

    Trump admin actions throw spotlight on Russian election meddling:

    Charges and sanctions against Russia-linked individuals revive spectre of foreign interference in US elections.

    The Trump administration has charged a Russian national in a sweeping plot to sow distrust in the American political process and imposed sanctions against a Russia-linked Ukrainian lawmaker accused of interfering in the US presidential election.

    Those actions on Thursday, combined with a Microsoft announcement on hacking attempts targeting US political campaigns, parties and consultants, underscore the extent to which the same cyber-intrusions and foreign influence operations that defined the 2016 White House race remain a persistent concern today.

    They also reflect a dichotomy in the administration, with officials taking aim at Russian interference in the political process even as President [sic] Donald Trump expresses doubt about Russian meddling. In the case of the sanctions, officials denounced audio recordings that had been released by the Ukrainian parliamentarian and promoted by Trump on Twitter.

    The criminal charges accuse Artem Mikhaylovich Lifshits of serving as a translation manager in a Russian effort that since at least 2014 has tried to disrupt the political system in the United States and other countries and spread distrust about candidates. Members of the initiative, known as Project Lakhta, travelled to the US to collect intelligence and operated bogus social media accounts that could pump out messaging to millions of Americans on divisive social issues.

    The group operated through entities including the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll farm […], according to a criminal complaint charging Lifshits with using stolen identities to open fake accounts at banks and digital currency exchanges.

    The goal of the department where Lifshits worked was to sow discord, incite civil unrest and polarise Americans with social media posts that touched on hot-button topics including gun rights, immigration, the Confederate flag and race relations, prosecutors say.

    […]

    Lifshits was one of the four people cited on Thursday by the Treasury Department, including Andrii Derkach, a Ukrainian lawmaker who was characterised by the US government as “an active Russian agent” for more than 10 years. Officials say he has interfered in the 2020 election by releasing edited audio recordings designed to denigrate Biden.

    The Treasury Department action is the second time in as many months that the administration has called out Derkach by name. US intelligence officials said in a statement last month that Derkach’s disclosure of the recordings, which capture conversations between Biden and Ukraine’s then-president, was part of a broader Russian effort to disparage Biden before the November 3 election.

    [… more details…]

    Also on Thursday, Microsoft said the same Russian military intelligence outfit that hacked the Democrats in 2016 has attempted similar intrusions into the computer systems of more than 200 organisations, including political parties and consultants. Most of the infiltration attempts by Russian, Chinese and Iranian agents were halted by Microsoft security software and the targets notified.

  239. says

    Nazis love Trump

    In news that should surprise exactly nobody, on Tuesday The New York Times reported that Donald Trump is very, very popular among a certain segment of the German population. Specifically, German neo-Nazis. German neo-Nazis absolutely adore our weird-haired, buffoonish, racist leader. They’re putting his face on shirts and flags. They’re screaming their praises for him. They’re declaring him their new savior. […]

    Oh, no. It always raises red flags when a group of people looks for and finds a “savior.” Cult followers of the “savior” will see what they want to see, and they will hear what they want to hear. Meanwhile, an unethical buffoon is leading them. This is dangerous.

    The Trump appeal to Germany’s neo-Nazi groups, a source of domestic terror in that nation as their far-right allies are in this one, is simple to understand. Trump is an avowed nationalist and nativist. He’s brazenly racist. He’s both a sponge for far-right conspiracy theories and an avid distributor of them. And he’s a practicing fascist—leading an administration that has increasingly simply ignored federal laws […] Trump is currently closer to the neo-Nazi ideal government than perhaps any other top nation […]

    Nobody in Germany is confused over what Donald Trump represents or what his intentions are. They understand him, and those he has staffed his administration with, perfectly fine. […]

    […] But it’s the emergence of “QAnon” themes among Germany’s violent far-right that’s perhaps the most intriguing bit of the Times’ reporting. The Times spoke to several experts who pointed out the widespread adoption of “Q” conspiracy theories among German neo-Nazis and far right. It is a “good fit with local conspiracy theories and fantasies popular on the [German] far right,” says the Times.

    Indeed, but it’s more than that. QAnon’s conspiracy theories are a recasting of past far-right and Nazi claims, in large part mimicking anti-Semitic propaganda from the last century. The Times points to current European “great replacement” theory, which claims that white Europe is being intentionally colonized to subvert white European identity and a mirror of the American far-right’s conspiracy-peddling toward Central and South American immigrants, and “the belief that Germany is not a sovereign country but an incorporated company and occupied territory controlled by globalists.”

    The German far-right is definitionally batshit-insane, but in this nation, we’ve got Republican politicians eagerly going just as far—directly and publicly accusing a Jewish billionaire of being the secret financier of the emerging “replacement.” We find the “occupied territory” nonsense in the far-right militia crowds (see: Bundy family).

    As for QAnon’s foundational claim that a secret underground group not only controls all nations, but does so through a secret program of murdering white children—that is literally a retelling of anti-Semitic “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” claims.

    It’s not that QAnon is a “good fit” with neo-Nazi conspiracy theories popular in both Germany and America. QAnon is a direct copy of long-held neo-Nazi claims. QAnon is a far-right, neo-Nazi, white nationalist and fascism-premised group. The most popular tropes of the anti-Semitic far right, of “globalists” secretly controlling all and preying on young white children in order to maintain their power, have simply been given a new coat of paint and hidden behind a layer of troll-like gibberish and obfuscation.

    It’s not a coincidence that it emerged exactly as white supremacist violence became a major domestic terror threat. It’s not a coincidence that all of its supposed enemies are Democrats, racial justice groups, equality advocates, and non-conservatives in general and that its allies are Donald Trump, anyone associated with Donald Trump, and any actual pedophiles in proximity to Donald Trump. […]

    The recasting of Protocols claims into something that is not quite that, but a close enough clone that any devoted anti-Semite will pick up on them immediately, is likely responsible for the explosion of QAnon devotion among Republican heartland voters. Overt anti-Semitism and racism is still frowned upon, in all but the most grotesque of groups, but filter it through the “Q” kaleidoscope and it gains at least a bit of plausible deniability. It’s not “the Jews” who control the world and drink the blood of children,” but “globalists” who control the world and sexually abuse and murder children. In league with Democrats, and minority groups, and liberals, and anti-fascists, […]

    Tell them they’re repeating Nazi-era nationalist propaganda and they’ll get mad at you. This is different, they will say. The targets this time around are “globalists,” and “globalists” could be anybody.

    So yes, German neo-Nazi groups love Trump, and they love QAnon, and the American far-right loves Trump, and loves QAnon, and both groups enjoy the support of power-obsessed politicians willing to spread the claims with a just asking questions smirk. It’s all the same movement. It’s all the same resurgence of fascism, a far-right shudder at their own nations’ steady transition into more diverse, less racist government. It is not likely to succeed, in Germany. In our own country, the outlook is more dicey.

    Link

  240. says

    QAnon is a Nazi Cult, Rebranded

    A secret cabal is taking over the world. They kidnap children, slaughter, and eat them to gain power from their blood. They control high positions in government, banks, international finance, the news media, and the church. They want to disarm the police. They promote homosexuality and pedophilia. They plan to mongrelize the white race so it will lose its essential power.

    Does this conspiracy theory sound familiar? It is. The same narrative has been repackaged by QAnon.

    I have studied and worked to prevent genocide for forty years. Genocide Watch and the Alliance Against Genocide, the first international anti-genocide coalition, see such hate-filled conspiracy theories as early warning signs of deadly genocidal violence.

    The plot, described above, was the conspiracy “revealed” in the most influential anti-Jewish pamphlet of all time. It was called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It was written by Russian anti-Jewish propagandists around 1902. It collected myths about a Jewish plot to take over the world that had existed for hundreds of years. Central to its mythology was the Blood Libel, which claimed that Jews kidnapped and slaughtered Christian children and drained their blood to mix in the dough for matzos consumed on Jewish holidays.

    The Nazis published a children’s book of the Protocols that they required in the curriculum of every primary school in Germany. The Nazi newspaper, Der Stürmer (derived from the German word for “Storm”) spread the Blood Libel. Hitler’s Mein Kampf, his narcissistic autobiography and manifesto for his battle against the Jewish plot to rule the world, copied his conspiracy theories from the Protocols.

    The Nazis worshiped Adolf Hitler as the Leader who would rescue the white race from this secret Jewish plot. Nazi “storm troopers” (“storm detachment” – Sturmabteilung) helped bring Hitler to power. Nazi Germany went on to conquer Europe and murder six million Jews and millions of Roma, Slavs, LGBTQ and other people. […]

    QAnon purveys the fantasy that a secret Satan-worshiping cabal is taking over the world. Its members kidnap white children, keep them in secret prisons run by pedophiles, slaughter, and eat them to gain power from the essence in their blood. The cabal held the American Presidency under the Clintons and Obama, nearly took power again in 2016, and lurks in a “Deep State” financed by Jews, including George Soros, and in Jews who control the media. They want to disarm citizens and defund the police. They promote abortion, transgender rights, and homosexuality. They want open borders so brown illegal aliens can invade America and mongrelize the white race.

    QAnon true believers think Donald Trump will rescue America from this Satanic cabal. At the time of “The Storm,” supporters of the cabal will be rounded up and executed. […]

    More at the link.

  241. blf says

    Roger Stone to Donald Trump: bring in martial law if you lose election (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Trump meanwhile promises to put down leftwing protests and says US Marshals killing Portland suspect was retribution

    Roger Stone […] has said Trump should seize total power and jail prominent figures including Bill and Hillary Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg if he loses to Joe Biden in November.

    […]

    Both men were in Nevada on Saturday, Trump holding campaign events while Stone sought to raise money for himself. He outlined his advice to Trump should he lose in a call to conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s Infowars online show, on Thursday.

    Citing widely debunked claims of fraud around early voting, absentee balloting and voting by mail, Stone said Trump should consider invoking the Insurrection Act and arresting the Clintons, former Senate majority leader Harry Reid, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Tim Cook of Apple and anybody else who can be proven to be involved in illegal activity.

    Stone also said: The ballots in Nevada on election night should be seized by federal marshals and taken from the state. They are completely corrupted. No votes should be counted from the state of Nevada if that turns out to be the provable case. Send federal marshals to the Clark county board of elections, Mr President [sic]!

    […]

    Commenting on a Daily Beast report about leftwing activist groups planning what to do “if the election ends without a clear outcome or with a Biden win that Trump refuses to recognize”, Stone told Jones the website should be shut down.

    If the Daily Beast is involved in provably seditious and illegal activities, he said, their entire staff can be taken into custody and their office can be shut down. They wanna play war, this is war.

    Stone also advocated forming an election day operation using the FBI, federal marshals and Republican state officials across the country to be prepared to file legal objections {to results} and if necessary to physically stand in the way of criminal activity.

    In an interview broadcast on Saturday night, Trump told Fox News he would happily put down any leftwing protests.

    […]

    We have the right to do that. We have the power to do that if we want. Look, it’s called insurrection. We just send in and we, we do it very easy. I mean, it’s very easy. I’d rather not do that, because there’s no reason for it, but if we had to, we’d do that and put it down within minutes, within minutes.

    [… Hair furor] also said protests such as those in Portland would lead to a backlash from the political right, the likes of which you haven’t seen in many, many years.

  242. says

    Navarro threw a fit on CNN.

    White House trade adviser Peter Navarro [today] found himself in a heated exchange with CNN’s Jake Tapper as the anchor took him to task on […] Trump’s purposeful downplaying of the COVID-19 pandemic in its early stages, according to legendary journalist Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book.

    When pressed on why Trump misled the public on COVID-19 — citing his remarks to Woodward in a Feb. 7 interview when the President privately expressed fear over COVID-19 after being warned by national security officials in late January that it would be the worst pandemic in a century, which contrasted his public downplaying of the threat in the following weeks — Navarro brought up Trump’s so-called travel ban on China imposed at the end of January and plans that the White House made in early February in preparation for COVID-19.

    After calling Navarro out for dodging his question, Tapper grilled him on the stark contrast between Trump’s public comments versus his remarks those to Woodward on COVID-19.

    “Why wasn’t the president straightforward with the American people?” Tapper asked.

    Navarro insisted that Trump was “straightforward” before accusing Tapper of “cherry-picking.”

    Tapper continued pressing Navarro to answer his question as he denied that he was “cherry-picking.”

    After Navarro defended Trump’s comments again and claimed that “CNN is not honest with the American people,” Tapper abruptly ended the interview by talking over Navarro — who insisted that he “answered the question” — and reminding the American public of the country’s dire statistics on COVID-19.

    “I would just like to remind the American people that are watching that the United States has less than 5% of the world’s population, and the United States has more than 20% of the world’s coronavirus deaths,” Tapper said. “That is a fact. It does not matter how many times he insults CNN.”

    Link

  243. says

    Follow-up to blf @282.

    Trump: Extrajudicial Killing Of Portland Shooting Suspect Is ‘The Way It Has To Be’

    […] Trump leaned into his self-proclamation of being the President of “law and order” further as he appeared to approve of the “retribution” of federal law enforcement officers fatally shooting a man suspected of killing a pro-Trump supporter amid protests in Portland, during an interview on Fox News that aired Saturday night.

    After mocking Portland mayor Ted Wheeler for refusing Trump’s offer to send in federal troops to the city to quell protests, [Trump] then turned his focus to the fatal shooting earlier this month of Michael Forest Reinoehl — a man suspected of killing a member of the Patriot Prayer group during violent clashes in Portland — by U.S. Marshals.

    “We sent in the U.S. Marshals for the killer, the man who killed the young man on the street. He shot him… just cold blooded killed him,” Trump said. “Two and a half days went by, and I put out ‘when are you going to go get him?’ And the U.S. Marshals went in to get him, and they ended up in a gunfight.”

    Trump called Reinoehl a “violent criminal” before suggesting that his extrajudicial killing was par for the course.

    “This guy was a violent criminal, and the U.S. Marshals killed him,” Trump said. “And I will tell you something — that’s the way it has to be. There has to be retribution when you have crime like this.” […]

  244. says

    Whistleblower reveals how Trump has unleashed another plague: white-supremacist terrorism.

    […] a Department of Homeland Security whistleblower’s complaint [revealed] that intelligence assessments had been altered or shelved in order to protect Trump politically […]

    The report, from demoted intelligence-division chief Brian Murphy, claims that DHS chief Chad Wolf and others in the department attempted to manipulate official DHS intelligence by downplaying concerns about Russian interference in the 2020 election—but even more disturbingly, by ordering threat assessments to dilute concerns about white nationalism while playing up the right’s concocted bogeyman, ‘antifa.’

    The spread of toxic white nationalism and its always-attendant violence has become, as Renée Graham at the Boston Globe observes, another kind of pandemic that Trump has downplayed and allowed to spread. […]

    Trump’s response all along has been to dance a tango in which, after sending out a signal of encouragement […], he follows up with an anodyne disavowal of far-right extremists that is believed by no one, least of all white nationalists. Whenever queried about whether white nationalists pose a threat […] Trump has consistently downplayed the threat.

    The whistleblower’s complaint reveals the depth of the rot that Trump has inflicted on the law-enforcement agencies tasked with dealing with the threat in his administration. […]

    “Mr. Cuccinelli stated that Mr. Murphy needed to specifically modify the section on white supremacy in a manner that made the threat appear less severe, as well as include information on the prominence of violent ‘left-wing’ groups,” the complaint says.

    When Murphy made another push for the report’s release in early July, the complaint says, Wolf reiterated Cuccinelli’s complaints and asked for it to include “information on the unrest in Portland, Ore.” Murphy noted that he believed such information would undermine the gathered intelligence.

    Michael German, a national-security analyst for the Brennan Center for Justice and an expert on domestic terrorism, noted that this kind of manipulation of intelligence at top federal levels has profound consequences for all levels of law enforcement nationally.

    […] “If police are misinformed about threats facing their communities from the top, we can’t be surprised when those same biases affect their street-level work.”

    […] For Johnson [Former DHS terrorism analyst Daryl Johnson]—who authored the now-infamous 2009 DHS bulletin warning of increasing far-right organizing and recruitment, including returning war veterans, that set off a right-wing media reaction resulting in the gutting of the DHS section responsible for monitoring far-right terrorism—this is all too familiar. “It’s the same thing that was going on there ten years ago […]

    “This is a government bureaucracy,” he added. “It’s a department that is gunshy because of what’s happened in the past, and it’s also people in the department who I guess are reluctant to acknowledge that threat and do something about it. So they’re still dragging their feet.”

    […] “The positive thing is that there are people higher in the department at higher levels who see that it’s a problem, that white supremacy is an issue and a national-security concern,” Johnson observed. “But they’re being offset by these people that don’t want that to happen.”

    Some of those people, however, are also leaving the agency. Earlier this month, the former assistant secretary of DHS’ counterterrorism and threat-prevention unit who resigned in April, Elizabeth Neumann, gave a series of media interviews describing how Trump is “pouring fuel on the fire” of far-right extremism.

    “A very common refrain that I was asked was, ‘Does the president’s rhetoric make your job harder?’ And the answer is yes,” she said in an ad for Republican Voters Against Trump. “The president’s actions and his language are, in fact, racist. … And I do think that the president’s divisive language is indirectly tied to some of the attacks that we have seen in the last two years.”

    She told NPR’s Steve Inskeep that a responsible national leader would recognize the threat and speak up prominently about it:

    If you had a very clear voice at the top, from the president, from other senior leaders in the Republican Party, denouncing this and warning conservatives — warning Republicans — that these groups are trying to recruit you based on things that might sound like a typical conservative belief, but behind it is this insidious, ugly, evil thing, if we had more clear voices talking about it — it would somewhat inoculate people from that recruitment and that radicalization. But instead, we have the opposite effect. We have the president not only pretty much refusing to condemn, but throwing fuel on the fire, creating opportunities for more recruitment through his rhetoric.

    […] German [Michael German, a national-security analyst for the Brennan Center for Justice and an expert on domestic terrorism] said the whistleblower’s complaint “also highlights how willing law enforcement leaders are to punish internal dissent, which is deadly to objective analysis of intelligence. […]

    […] “One of the reforms we recommended is to strengthen whistleblower protections in law enforcement because those on the inside can see the problem every day and need to be encouraged to root it out,” German added. “We also need to hire law enforcement leaders who welcome internal dissent and reward officials who report the racist behavior within the ranks.”

    Neumann [said] “If you look at the people that have been arrested for that, by and large, I mean, it’s the Boogaloo movement or it’s an association with QAnon. It’s the right side of the spectrum. It is not antifa,” she told NPR. “The threat of domestic terrorism is not from antifa. It is from these right-wing movements.”

    […] “I’m expecting things to escalate not just up to the election, but beyond the election and into next year, because I don’t think this election’s going to be finalized until weeks after because of mail-in ballots and everything, and I also think there are going to be lawsuits filed by each political party to prolong vote counts or contest them,” [Johnson] said. “So that, plus the pandemic plus the civil unrest, suggests we’re going to have increasing confrontation and violence.”

    Link

  245. says

    Bloomberg Is Finally Ready to Open His Wallet for Biden

    The billionaire is committing $100 million to help in Florida—roughly 10 percent of what he spent on his own campaign.

    Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who pledged to spend big in order to help Democrats beat Donald Trump this November, is committing $100 million to support Joe Biden in the critical battleground state of Florida, where the former vice president is struggling to gain traction with the state’s Latino voters.

    The announcement on Sunday comes on the heels of Trump’s promise to spend “whatever it takes” of his own money after his campaign reportedly squandered its substantial cash advantage against Biden. (As my colleague Russ Choma wrote, it’s unclear if Trump even has enough cash on hand to make a real dent in the race.) Polls in Florida show that Biden’s lead in the Sunshine State has shrunk to a virtual tie in recent weeks. A senior adviser to Bloomberg said that the influx of cash in a notoriously expensive state for TV ads will free up Biden to spend campaign funds in other key states like Pennsylvania, where polls have similarly tightened. […]

    Trump is a liar. Unless the courts force him to do so, he rarely spends his own money. He spends other people’s money, including donors’ money, even to pay his legal bills.

  246. says

    Right-Wing Conspiracists Linked Antifa to the Wildfires. Then They Got a Big Boost from Russian Media.

    How overlapping false claims about the wildfires ricocheted around conservative social media thanks to a bogus story from Russia.

    […] the blazes consuming the West Coast became part of an election cycle culture war when claims that antifa started wildfires in Portland went viral. There’s no evidence that antifa started any wildfires, but conservatives on social media ran with the claim anyway, spreading it far and wide in Facebook groups and on YouTube.

    It’s unclear how the conspiracy theory originated, but its first big boost appears to have come courtesy of RT (formerly Russia Today, a Russian state-controlled media outlet known for mixing news with Russian propaganda.) RT’s signal boost came in the form of an article that smashed together separate pieces of information about policing in Portland and the wildfires, insinuating a nefarious (and non-existent) link between the two.

    […] Portland police ask protesters not to start blazes amid statewide wildfire emergency,” read a RT headline from September 9th. The story focused on how the Portland Police Department was imploring protestors not to use fire during their demonstrations “since fire danger is very high right now.” While the facts of the story are technically true, RT goes out of its way to connect the current wildfire crisis with antifa, by eliding dates, and wrongly conflating incidents. […]

    The headline is also misleading. Portland Police never said “Antifa are thrilled to hear this”. That quote was in a tweet from Andy Ngo, a right-wing propagandist who has been associated with the violent far-right group, Patriot Prayer. […]

    Matt Binder, a journalist who writes a newsletter on misinformation and who noticed RT trying to link antifa to wildfires, noted that this is how Russian political interference often works. “A lot of the coverage of the Russia stuff always sort of pushes the idea that Russia is creating narratives and then spreading,” he explained over the phone. “That’s not what happens. They see the stuff already happening online, and then they just help push it.” […]

  247. says

    Trump’s Nevada rally was an exercise in delegitimizing voting — and denying reality

    Trump keeps holding probable superspreader events in the middle of a pandemic.

    Trump traveled to Minden, Nevada — a town about 50 miles south of Reno — for a rambling, grievance-filled campaign rally on Saturday.

    Over the course of a 90-minute speech, Trump attacked mail-in voting, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, and Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, while lamenting his press coverage, long drives, and the fact he was not able to have Air Force One behind him as he spoke. He also once again suggested that he should be allowed to serve more than two terms in office, which would be unconstitutional.

    Notably absent from his speech was anything approaching a cohesive second-term agenda or a policy platform. What little policy his speech did contain was delivered suggestively, in the context of what the president is against, including limiting fracking and teaching children “poisonous anti-American lies in school.” Far more of Trump’s remarks focused on attempts to demean his opponents and preemptively cast doubt on an election that national polls show him trailing in.

    Trump has spent much of the summer searching for an attack that will stick to Biden — that he’s senile; he’s a puppet of the radical left; and that he’ll usher in the apocalypse — and all three messages were on display in abundance Saturday.

    Biden, Trump claimed Saturday, is “unable,” a “pathetic human being,” and suggested that his physical and mental condition are such that he “doesn’t know he’s alive.” The president worked to assert vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris is the actual driver of Biden’s policy, incorrectly calling her to the left of Sen. Bernie Sanders, and telling supporters that if Biden were to win, Harris would become president “in about a month.” Later in the speech, Trump also told supporters that a Biden victory would “permanently destroy the lives and dreams of tens of millions of Americans … and lead [to] countless deaths from suicide.” […]

    More at the link, including details relating how Trump is trying to delegitimize the November election.

    From Aaron Rupar:

    Trump calls Joe Biden “a pathetic human being.” If a guy sounding like this approached you on the other street, you’d run the other way.

    https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1304975326905335808 Video at the link.

    More from Trump’s blustering, lying speech:

    “We’re gonna win four more years in the White House, and then we’ll negotiate, because based on the way we were treated, we’re probably entitled to another four years after that”
    ———————
    Trump says “the biggest problem the country has right now” is the media — not the coronavirus pandemic.

  248. says

    Trump and Biden condemn shooting of Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies.

    Washington Post link

    […] The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department said Saturday night that the two deputies “were ambushed as they sat in their patrol vehicle” in Compton and were shot multiple times, leaving them in critical condition. The department later released a video that appeared to show a person walking up to a parked police car, pointing a gun at the passenger side window and then running away.

    They were able to radio for help, according to the Associated Press.

    The Associated Press cited Sheriff Alex Villanueva as saying that the 31-year-old female deputy and 24-year-old male deputy underwent surgery Saturday night.

    In an early-morning tweet, Trump called for a forceful response to the incident. “Animals that must be hit hard!” he said.

    Later Sunday morning, Trump tweeted of the officers: “If they die, fast trial death penalty for the killer. Only way to stop this!”

    Biden also condemned the shooting.

    “This cold-blooded shooting is unconscionable and the perpetrator must be brought to justice,” the former vice president tweeted Sunday morning. “Violence of any kind is wrong; those who commit it should be caught and punished. Jill and I are keeping the deputies and their loved ones in our hearts and praying for a full recovery.”

    […] Authorities are still searching for the suspect and have blanketed the area around the shooting […]

  249. says

    The Case for Dumping the Electoral College

    New Yorker link

    In 1961, Estes Kefauver, the crusading Democratic senator from Tennessee, denounced the Electoral College as “a loaded pistol pointed at our system of government.” Its continued existence, he said, as he opened hearings on election reform, created “a game of Russian roulette” because, at some point, the antidemocratic distortions of the College could threaten the country’s integrity. […] polls indicate that Donald Trump is likely to win fewer votes nationally than Joe Biden this fall, just as he won fewer than Hillary Clinton, in 2016. Yet Trump may still win reëlection, since the Electoral College favors voters in small and rural states over those in large and urban ones. […] criticizing the Electoral College simply because it has given us our Trump problem would be misguided. His Presidency, and the chance that it will recur despite his persistent unpopularity, reflects a deeper malignancy in our Constitution, one that looks increas­ingly unsustainable.

    James Madison, who helped conceive the Electoral College at the Constitutional Convention, of 1787, later admitted that delegates had written the rules while impaired by “the hurry­ing influence produced by fatigue and impatience.” The system is so buggy that, between 1800 and 2016 […] members of Congress introduced more than eight hundred constitutional amendments to fix its technical problems or to abolish it altogether. In much of the postwar era, strong majorities of Americans have favored dumping the College and adopting a direct national election for President. […] during the civil-rights era, this idea gained momentum until, in 1969, the House of Representatives passed a constitutional amendment to establish a national popular vote for the White House. President Richard Nixon called it “a thoroughly acceptable reform,” but a filibuster backed by segregationist Southerners in the Senate killed it.

    That defeat reflects the centrality of race and racism in any convincing explanation of the Electoral College’s staying power. In the antebellum period, the College assured that slave power shaped Presidential elections, because of the notorious three-fifths compromise, which increased the electoral clout of slave states. Today, it effectively dilutes the votes of African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian-Americans, because they live disproportionately in populous states, which have less power in the College per capita. This year, heavily white Wyoming will cast three electoral votes, or about one per every hundred and ninety thousand residents; diverse California will cast fifty-five votes, or one per seven hundred and fifteen thousand people. […]

    Much more at the link.

  250. says

    How the Trump Campaign’s Mobile App Is Collecting Massive Amounts of Voter Data

    New Yorker link

    […] On its face, Phunware seems like a strange choice to develop the [Trump] campaign’s app. Before working for […] Trump, Phunware’s software was being used in relatively few applications, the most popular being a horoscope app. And, since 2019, it has been embroiled in a lawsuit with Uber, a former client of the company’s ad-placement business. The dispute stems from a yearlong investigation by two former Phunware employees who discovered that the company was pretending to place Uber ads on Web sites like CNN when, in fact, they were appearing on pornography sites, among others, if they appeared at all. But, according to former Phunware employees and business associates, the company’s value to the Trump campaign is not in software development. “The Trump campaign is not paying Phunware four million dollars for an app,” a former business partner of the company told me. “They are paying for data. They are paying for targeted advertising services. Imagine if every time I open my phone I see a campaign message that Joe Biden’s America means we’re going to have war in the streets. That’s the service the Trump campaign and Brad Parscale”—the Trump campaign’s senior adviser for data and digital operations—“have bought from Phunware. An app is just part of the package.”

    To me, that sounds like Phunware is a perfect match for the Trump campaign. It is run by scam artists and the service it provides obscures from users its real purpose(s).

    The Trump 2020 app is a massive data-collection tool in its own right. When it launched, on April 23rd, Parscale, who was then Trump’s campaign manager, urged his followers on Facebook to “download the groundbreaking Official Trump 2020 App—unlike other lame political apps you’ve seen.” Despite the hype, the 2020 app recapitulates many of the functions found on the 2016 app. There’s a news feed with Trump’s social-media posts, an events calendar, and recorded videos. The “gaming” features that distinguished the 2016 app are still prominent—a “Trump’s army” member who accumulates a hundred thousand points by sharing contacts or raising money is promised a photograph with the President, while other members can use points to get discounts on MAGA gear. Users are prompted to invite friends to download the app—more points!—and can use the app to sign up to make calls on behalf of the campaign, to be a poll watcher, to register voters, and to get tickets to virtual and in-person events.

    The most obvious new feature on the 2020 app is a live news broadcast, carefully curated by the campaign to push the President’s talking points. It is hosted by a cast of campaign surrogates, including Lara Trump, Eric Trump’s wife, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump, Jr.,’s girlfriend and the campaign’s national finance chair. There are also channels aimed at particular demographic groups, among them Women for Trump, Black Voices for Trump, and Latinos for Trump. Though it is a crude approximation of a traditional news outlet, the Trump app enables users to stay fully sequestered within the fact-optional Trump universe. “I think everything we do is to counter the media,” Parscale told Reuters in June. “This is another tool in the tool shed to fight that fight, and it’s a big tool.” In May, after Twitter labelled one of Trump’s tweets as being in violation of its standards, sparking renewed claims of liberal-media censorship of conservatives (despite the fact that the tweet was not taken down), downloads of the campaign app soared.

    To access the Trump app, users must share their cell-phone numbers with the campaign. “The most important, golden thing in politics is a cellphone number,” Parscale told Reuters. “When we receive cellphone numbers, it really allows us to identify them across the databases. Who are they, voting history, everything.” Michael Marinaccio, the chief operating officer of Data Trust, a private Republican data company, said recently that “what’s new this year, or at least a sense of urgency, is getting as many cell-phone numbers as we can in the voter file data.” An effective way to do that is to entice supporters to share not only their own cell-phone numbers with the campaign but those of their contacts as well. One estimate […] is that 1.4 million app downloads could provide upward of a hundred million phone numbers. This will enable the Trump campaign to find and target people who have not consented to handing over their personal information. It’s not unlike how Cambridge Analytica was able to harvest the data of nearly ninety million unsuspecting Facebook users, only this time it is one’s friends, family, and acquaintances who are willfully handing over the data for a chance to get a twenty-five-dollar discount on a MAGA hat.

    By contrast, the new Biden app still collects data on users, but it outlines the specific uses of that data and doesn’t automatically collect the e-mail and phone numbers of users’ friends and family. “Unlike the Biden app, which seeks to provide users with awareness and control of the specific uses of their data, the Trump app collects as much as it can using an opt-out system and makes no promises as to the specific uses of that data,” Samuel Woolley, the director of the propaganda research project at the University of Texas’s Center for Media Engagement, told me. “They just try to get people to turn over as much as possible.”

    […] Among its main contributions to the app’s data-mining capabilities is a “location experience kit,” […] According to one former employee the company’s location software, which functions even when the app is not open, may be capable of sucking up more than geographic coördinates. It could potentially “sniff out all of the information you have on your phone. Any sort of registration data, your name, your phone number, potentially your Social Security number, and other pieces of data. It could sniff out how many apps you have on your phone, what type of apps you have on your phone, what apps you deleted recently, how much time you’ve spent in an app, and your dwell time at various specific locations. It could give a very intimate picture of that individual and their relationship with that mobile device.” (Phunware did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)

    […] While it is illegal to advertise in the vicinity of the polls, using location data in this way to send targeted ads could enable a campaign to breach that border surreptitiously.

    […] In its promotional materials, the company also claims to have unique device I.D.s for more than a billion mobile devices worldwide, and to have developed what it calls a Knowledge Graph […] Much like Facebook’s social graph, which has been described as “the global mapping of everybody and how they’re related,” this enables the company to quickly sort through large data sets, uncovering connections and relations that otherwise would be obscured. For example: middle-aged women who live alone, rarely vote, own guns, and live in a border state.

    So how did Phunware obtain a billion unique device I.D.s? As the company described it to the S.E.C., they were collected from phones and tablets that use Phunware’s software. But, according to people who have worked with the company, in addition to the data it obtains through its software, Phunware has been using its ad-placement business as a wholesale data-mining operation. When it bids to place an ad in an app like, for example, Pandora, it scoops up the I.D. of every phone and tablet that would have been exposed to the ad, even if it loses the bid. By collecting and storing this information, the company is able to compile a fairly comprehensive picture of every app downloaded on those devices, and any registration data a user has shared in order to use the app.

    […] I learned this firsthand after downloading the Trump 2020 app on a burner phone I bought in order to examine it, using an alias and a new e-mail address. Two days later, the President sent me a note, thanking me for joining his team. Lara Trump invited me (for a small donation) to become a Presidential adviser. Eric Trump called me one of his father’s “FIERCEST supporters from the beginning.” But the messages I began getting from the Trump campaign every couple of hours were sent not only to the name and address I’d used to access the app. They were also sent to the e-mail address and name associated with the credit card I’d used to buy the phone and its sim card, neither of which I had shared with the campaign. Despite my best efforts, they knew who I was and where to reach me.

    More at the link.

  251. says

    The physic and chemistry of orange skies, from WIRED, (no, it is not an apocalyptic reference to the color of Trump’s face):

    […] First, the chemistry side. Smoke is what’s left after something burns, reduced to particles; that might be hydrocarbon molecules or soot, which is just straight-up black carbon. Now, the thing to remember here is that even though unfiltered noontime sunlight looks roughly whitish or whitish-yellow, it actually contains a roughly equal amount of every wavelength of light, from the reddish end of the visible spectrum to the bluish, all mixed up in a subatomic pointillist spray. And even though you’re likely to associate carbon-heavy things like oil or coal with the color black—absorbing light from across the visible spectrum—carbon atoms actually have a preference. They absorb and also scatter more longer-wavelength red hues than shorter-wavelength blues. “The soot particles are absorbing the blue light from the sun, and we don’t see it,” says Mark Marley, a researcher at NASA’s Ames Research Center who studies the atmospheres of planets outside Earth’s solar system. Those particles absorbed or scattered back the blue—but let that Mordorish red-orange through.

    That smoke wasn’t the only layer in the sky. A marine layer of moist air slid beneath it—San Francisco’s famous Karl the Fog, creeping in like steamed milk beneath the foam of a third-wave latte. Here’s where some physics creeps in as well. Unlike carbon, water vapor typically absorbs more on the red-orange side of the visible spectrum. But those water molecules, just two hydrogens and an oxygen, are also bigger than most particles in smoke. And in the physics of light scattering, size matters. Down at the scale of a molecule or two, some hundreds of nanometers, light might refract and change direction around a particle or bounce off it and head back the way it came depending on its wavelength. Which is to say, different-sized particles interact differently with different colors of light.

    In fog, “those are bigger particles, so they scatter at all wavelengths,” Vahidinia says. “Normally that layer would’ve been a diffuse gray.” Bay Area standard, in other words. But on Wednesday, the smoke acted like a filter, so Karl the Fog couldn’t play the blues. “You get a filter on top of the blanket of the marine layer, and that marine layer is multiply scattering whatever is coming to it,” Vahidinia says. “It’s not coming directionally. It was an orange haze all over the place.” That’s why the orange light seemed so omnipresent, so there. […]

  252. says

    Despite ethics concerns, Pompeo’s controversial Madison Dinners return

    Faced with questions about alleged ethical lapses, the Kansas Republican chooses to engage in more overt ethical lapses.

    […] Secretary of State Mike Pompeo […] has been accused of using governmental business to advance his political ambitions. Pompeo has also allegedly misused federal resources to benefit himself and his family. Just three weeks ago, a panel on the House Foreign Affairs Committee opened an investigation into the cabinet secretary’s bizarre remarks at the Republican National Convention.

    Meanwhile, late last week, McClatchy News reported that “Pompeo assigned official government work to one of his top advisers through his wife, Susan, who used a private email account to relay his requests,” according to congressional testimony from Toni Porter, one of Pompeo’s longtime confidantes and employees.

    Politico added the same afternoon, “Two close aides to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a colleague she could take her time before talking to the State Department inspector general’s office for an investigation into Pompeo and his wife. The two Pompeo aides appeared to be hinting that the probe could fade away — ‘resolve itself,’ in the words of the fellow staff member. Pompeo, after all, had recently managed to have the inspector general fired.”

    […] Pompeo should be going out of his way to stay out of trouble right now. And yet, NBC News reported overnight that Pompeo is “quietly relaunching his extravagant, taxpayer-funded ‘Madison Dinners’ during the coronavirus pandemic.”

    Pompeo’s Madison Dinners […] had been on pause since March, when the country shut down because of the coronavirus. But now they’re back, with a dinner scheduled for Monday and at least three others on the calendar in September and October, two U.S. officials said.

    […] today’s event will be held at the State Department.

    […] hosting a series of elaborate and unpublicized Madison Dinners at the State Department, with elite guest lists featuring “billionaire CEOs, Supreme Court justices, political heavyweights and ambassadors.”

    As regular readers may recall, the soirees — paid for by taxpayers and held in a public building — led State Department officials to ring the alarm, and for good reason. […] officials saw these gatherings as “essentially using federal resources to cultivate a donor and supporter base for Pompeo’s political ambitions — complete with extensive contact information that gets sent back to Susan Pompeo’s personal email address.”

    The dinners ceased for six months, not because of the controversy, but because of the pandemic. The crisis, of course, is far from over, but the cabinet secretary is relaunching the gatherings anyway.

    It’s an example of a specific political posture: aggressive indifference. Faced with questions about alleged ethical lapses, the Kansas Republican engages in more overt ethical lapses. […]

    If Pompeo seeks the presidency in 2024, keep all of this in mind.

  253. says

    Prominent climate denier tapped for key NOAA position

    […] Trump considers himself “a great environmentalist.” In fact, [he] told a Florida audience that he’s “the number one environmental President since Teddy Roosevelt,” adding, “[I]t’s true: number one since Teddy Roosevelt. Who would have thought Trump is the great environmentalist?”

    […] The whole idea is plainly ridiculous.

    […] David Legates, a University of Delaware professor of climatology who has spent much of his career questioning basic tenets of climate science, has been hired for a top position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Legates confirmed to NPR that he was recently hired as NOAA’s deputy assistant secretary of commerce for observation and prediction.

    Jane Lubchenco, a professor of marine biology at Oregon State University and head of NOAA under President Barack Obama, told NPR, in reference to Legates, “He’s not just in left field — he’s not even near the ballpark.” To help bolster the point:

    In 2007, Legates was one of the authors of a paper that questioned previous findings about the role of climate change in destroying the habitat of polar bears. That research was partially funded by grants from Koch Industries, the American Petroleum Institute lobbying group and ExxonMobil, according to InsideClimate News…. Legates also appeared in a video pushing the discredited theory that the sun is the cause of global warming. […]

    To be sure, the Delaware professor won’t be the first climate denier to join the administration in a prominent role, but the circumstances make the personnel move that much more jarring. As the climate crisis fuels fires in the West, the public confronts evidence of the White House applying political pressure on NOAA, and Trump pretends to be an “environmentalist,” did the administration really need another climate science critic?

  254. says

    A Trump supporter was interviewed at his most recent rally. She said that she was not wearing a mask, and that was how she shows support for “my president.”

  255. says

    Trump is intensifying his lies about the voting system:

    […] At a Nevada rally on Saturday night, the president twice told supports the 2020 race is “rigged,” before adding, “They don’t even have to have an authorized signature in Nevada, did you know that?”

    Rally attendees did not know that because it’s not true. Trump made it up.

    Link

    From the Washington Post:

    This is a breathtaking onslaught on the truth and the integrity of an upcoming U.S. election. We expect it from Russia, especially after the copious evidence of its disinformation campaign in 2016 to benefit Trump. But to see it emanate from the president of the United States [and his close allies] is nothing short of stunning.

  256. says

    Follow-up to comment 296.

    Biden is doing something about Trump’s attacks on the election system: he has formed an “Election Protection” team.

    [The Biden campaign’s] new legal operation will be led by Dana Remus — who has served as Biden’s general counsel in the 2020 campaign — and Bob Bauer, who served as White House counsel during the Obama administration, general counsel on both of Obama’s presidential campaigns and joined the Biden campaign full-time over the summer as a senior adviser.

    […] two former solicitors general, Donald B. Verrilli Jr. and Walter Dellinger, will head up the Biden campaign’s “special litigation” unit. Hundreds of lawyers are in the unit — which includes a team at the Democratic law firm Perkins Coie, led by Marc Elias — that will home in on the state-by-state fights over vote casting and counting rules.

    Former Obama administration attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. plays a role in Biden’s new legal operations, as well, serving as a liaison between the campaign and the many independent groups involved in the legal challenges mounting over the presidential election.

    […] Both Remus and Bauer described a multi-pronged program to the Times, which combines elements that were fixtures in past presidential campaigns — such as combating voter suppression and ensuring people understood how to vote— and some that address concerns that are more relevant to 2020, such as handling an election during the COVID-19 pandemic and guarding against foreign interference.

    […] Biden officials also said that the campaign aims to combat Trump’s baseless voter fraud claims without amplifying them further.

    “A lot of what Trump and his allies would have us do is amplify their disaster scenarios,” Bauer told the Times. “We’re not going to get caught up in alarmist rhetoric they are using to scare voters.”

    According to the Times, Bauer also argued that “the constant return to the issue of fraud is itself a voter suppression tool.”

    Link

    Here’s hoping that Biden has better lawyers and that they can beat Trump’s lawyers.

    I don’t really see how they can combat Trump’s baseless voter fraud claims without amplifying them further.

  257. says

    About that indoor rally Trump held in Nevada:

    Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) blasted President Donald Trump on Sunday night for flouting the state’s restrictions on large gatherings by holding an indoor campaign rally amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In a statement posted on Twitter, Sisolak accused Trump of “taking reckless and selfish actions that are putting countless lives in danger” with the event in Henderson that night, which violated Nevada’s restrictions on gatherings of more than 50 people.

    “As usual, he doesn’t believe the rules apply to him,” the governor tweeted.

    Sisolak blasted the rally, which also saw few masks being worn by Trump’s supporters, as an “insult to every Nevadan who has followed the directives, made sacrifices, and put their neighbors before themselves.”

    “At a time when Nevada is focused on getting our economy back on track and protecting public health, the President’s actions this weekend are shameful, dangerous and irresponsible,” the governor wrote.

    The campaign event was Trump’s first indoor rally held entirely indoors since the rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma in June.

    Link

    If the rally violated Nevada’s restrictions, why wasn’t it shut down?

    From comments posted by readers of the article:

    Nevada should pull the business license of the jacksss who let Trump illegally use his facilty and fine him into poverty.
    —————-
    Anyone who does that will be portrayed as anti-business, anti free speech, anti-freedom. This crowd has no shame.
    ————–
    Why Sir, what you call reckless and selfish, the administration calls ‘not causing a panic’ and ‘cheerleading’.
    ——————-
    The Republican party is hitting the Badger State [Wisconsin] hard this week as three campaign events, including a visit from President Donald Trump, are planned.
    —————–
    Most of the president’s supporters, according to reports and pictures of the event, attended the event inside a warehouse in Henderson without wearing masks and did not practice social distancing.

    But there was an exception.

    According to the Associated Press, those standing directly behind the president — who were therefore likely to appear in TV news footage — were required to wear face coverings.
    ————————
    He’s deliberately breaking the law, threatening public safety and spreading the virus. Anyone else would be in jail if they acted this way.
    ———————
    I’d like to hear what the lawful penalties are.

    Or if the “restrictions” do not come with penalties, I’d like to know that
    ———————-
    it looks to me like a lot of the work of expanding his base is happening through dishonest social media, as we knew would happen. It’s difficult to know if stories of people saying that they are going to vote for him based on some outrageously dishonest claim or if those stories come from bots.

  258. says

    […] Trump is ‘not at all concerned’ about indoor rally during COVID-19—because he personally is safe

    I think Trump might be wrong about that. Indoor air is usually recirculated throughout the facility. But’s let see what Trump is thinking about his safety:

    […] Trump packed in the fans for an indoor rally at a Henderson, Nevada manufacturing company facility on Saturday night, but he’s not worried about the spread of COVID-19. To himself, anyway.

    “I’m on a stage and it’s very far away,” Trump told a Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter. “And so I’m not at all concerned.”

    People in the crowd were not very far away from each other—actually, they were right next to each other, and many weren’t wearing masks. But screw the little people, Donald Trump himself is safe.

    […] But hey, many of Trump’s supporters aren’t worried about their own health either, even though they are shoulder to shoulder in an indoor crowd. “This is our First Amendment, it’s my right to choose,” a 60-year-old Trump supporter told CNN. “This is not a dictatorship, this is a republic. And we have a right to be who we are and take whatever risks we so desire.” (Note: This is false, as many laws about vehicle safety remind us.)

    Screw anyone else who comes into contact with Trump supporters who rallied indoors because, as another said, “if I catch Covid, that’s the consequences of my actions, so I’m willing to take that risk and have a good time today.” Screw the entire state of Nevada, which currently has an 8.5% positive test rate. Trump and his supporters are going to have their fun, and they don’t care about anyone else.

    Trump also attacked Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak at length in his Review-Journal interview, continuing to lie about Sisolak having personally intervened to block him from holding rallies at some locations.

    Trump’s team did position a group of supporters wearing masks directly behind him on the stage so that it would look good for the cameras. See Twitter link

    https://twitter.com/AlanAriano/status/1305519174672936962/photo/1

  259. says

    Los Angeles sheriff suddenly stops commenting after video reveals lies about reporter’s arrest

    A large group of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies violently arrested a reporter doing her job on Saturday night, and then lied about what had happened. The whole thing is on video, though, so once again we have rock-solid evidence that police lie and should not be believed.

    According to the the police, NPR and LAist reporter Josie Huang didn’t have press credentials, didn’t identify herself as a reporter, and refused to leave an area when told to do so. In reality, Huang says she was wearing a lanyard with a press credential and the video shows Huang backing away from police at their orders and repeatedly yelling “I’m a reporter,” even as a group of deputies throw her violently to the ground, ultimately arresting her and charging her with obstruction.

    Huang had been at a news conference outside a hospital, reporting on the shooting ambush of two L.A. Sheriff’s deputies. Afterward, she heard shouting and went to see what was going on, she recounted in a Twitter thread. She recorded as some men taunted deputies, who then followed them as they left. Using her phone’s zoom function to allow herself to maintain physical distance, she recorded as the deputies arrested one man. Then, “I was filming an arrest when suddenly deputies shout ‘back up.’ Within seconds, I was getting shoved around. There was nowhere to back up.”

    Huang was thrown to the ground and arrested—describing the experience as “like being tossed around in the ocean and then slammed into rock”—with deputies refusing to allow her to put her mask back on or put her shoe back on her bleeding foot. Her camera recorded throughout, even as deputies stepped on and kicked it, and there’s also video from other reporters on the scene.

    Here’s how the sheriff’s office described the arrest. Supposedly, as deputies were making an arrest, “a female adult ran towards the deputies, ignored repeated commands to stay back as they struggled with the male and interfered with the arrest.” She “did not identify herself as press,” according to the department, “and later admitted she did not have proper press credentials on her person.” All of this is lies, and the department has had no comment since video revealed those lies.

    ”We hold the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department accountable to provide answers for the excessive use of force in the detainment of our colleague,” the Asian American Journalists Association said in a statement. “The Los Angeles chapter of AAJA demands an investigation and apology for her arrest. We will not stand idly by as the mistreatment of journalists, especially journalists of color, continues by law enforcement.”

    L.A. County Inspector General Max Huntsman, who is investigating the incident, told The Los Angeles Times: “That’s what surprises me the most is that once she was identified as a reporter that they transported her, that they cited her.”

    It shouldn’t be surprising, though, given the frequency with which law enforcement has intentionally targeted reporters this summer, and the continuing vilification of the press by a national leader who is outright encouraging summary execution by law enforcement of people he considers enemies.

    See also: https://twitter.com/josie_huang/status/1305268315669946368

  260. says

    ‘This is f—ing crazy’: Florida Latinos swamped by wild conspiracy theories

    A flood of disinformation and deceptive claims is damaging Joe Biden in the nation’s biggest swing state.

    George Soros directs a “deep state” global conspiracy network. A Joe Biden win would put America in control of “Jews and Blacks.” The Democratic nominee has a pedophilia problem.

    Wild disinformation like this is inundating Spanish-speaking residents of South Florida ahead of Election Day, clogging their WhatsApp chats, Facebook feeds and even radio airwaves at a saturation level that threatens to shape the outcome in the nation’s biggest and most closely contested swing state.

    […] “It’s difficult to measure the effect exactly, but the polling sort of shows it and in focus groups it shows up, with people deeply questioning the Democrats, and referring to the ‘deep state’ in particular — that there’s a real conspiracy against the president from the inside,” he said. “There’s a strain in our political culture that’s accustomed to conspiracy theories, a culture that’s accustomed to coup d’etats.”

    […] Biden underperforming with this crucial Democratic leaning segment of the electorate, though he’s still running ahead of President Donald Trump by double digits. The race overall in the state is essentially tied. […]

    The GOP under Trump mastered social media, especially Facebook use, in 2016 and even Democrats acknowledge that Republicans have made inroads in the aggressive use of WhatsApp encrypted messaging.

    At the same time, there has been a rise of Spanish-language conservative media, especially revolving around politics connected to Colombia and Venezuela, that are increasingly showing up in the social media feeds of South Florida’s Latin America diaspora communities. […]

    WhatsApp group chats are widely popular among Latin Americans and other immigrant communities in the U.S. because the app doesn’t require a U.S. phone number or specific mobile service provider, making it easy to stay in touch with family abroad via text or voice communication. […]

    A Venezuela-focused news site that has a large following in Latin America, amplified disinformation with a story bearing the headline “social networks also accuse Joe Biden of being a pedophile.” A month later, when the lie resurfaced, “#BidenPedofilio” trended in Spain.

    On Facebook, a Puerto Rican-born pastor Melvin Moya has circulated a video titled “Signs of pedophilia” with doctored videos of Biden inappropriately touching girls at various public ceremonies to a song in the background that says, “I sniffed a girl and I liked it.” The fake video posted on Sept. 1 has received more than 33,000 likes and 2,400 comments. […]

    And various fake stories across WhatsApp and Facebook claim that Nicolás Maduro’s socialist party in Venezuela and U.S. communist leaders are backing Biden. […]

    Radio Caracol, for its part, received unwelcome attention Aug. 22 when it aired 16 minutes of paid programming from a local businesssman who launched into an anti-Black and anti-Semitic rant that claimed a Biden victory would mean that the U.S. would fall into a dictatorship led by “Jews and Blacks.” The commentator claimed that Biden is leading a political revolution “directed by racial minorities, atheists and anti-Christians” and supports killing newborn babies.

    […] much of the Spanish-language disinformation and conspiracy theories circulating in South Florida remain unchecked. […]

  261. says

    Top HHS official accuses scientists of plotting against Trump, tells supporters to buy ammunition

    The top communications official at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) accused career government scientists of plotting against […] Trump and told Trump supporters to arm themselves ahead of the November presidential election.

    In a Facebook Live on Sunday, Michael Caputo said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was harboring a “resistance unit” to Trump […].

    The career scientists “haven’t gotten out of their sweatpants except for meetings at coffee shops” to plot “how they’re going to attack Donald Trump,” Caputo said, according to the Times. “There are scientists who work for this government who do not want America to get well, not until after Joe Biden is president.”

    JFC.

    […] Caputo also warned Trump’s followers to be prepared for an armed insurrection when Democratic nominee Joe Biden refuses to concede the election.

    “When Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin,” Caputo said. “If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get.”

    JFC.

  262. says

    Woodward audio: Trump focused on stock market as coronavirus surged in August

    […] Trump remained largely focused on the stock market in August even as Bob Woodward told him the economic recovery would likely hinge on successfully mitigating the coronavirus pandemic, according to recordings of an interview between the president and the veteran journalist.

    During a call on Aug. 14, Trump asked Woodward: “So you think the virus totally supersedes the economy?”

    “Oh sure. They’re related, as you know,” Woodward responded.

    “You know the market’s coming back very strong, you do know that,” Trump responds before asking Woodward if that is covered in the book.

    The president also repeatedly asks Woodward if he intends to portray Trump positively in the book, according to audio of the interview. […]

  263. says

    Free to speak his mind, Vindman sees Trump as Putin’s ‘useful idiot’

    For months, Alexander Vindman made no real effort to defend himself or fire back at the Republicans who tried to tear him down. Now, it’s different story.

    It’s been nearly a year since Americans were introduced to Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman — at the time, the top Ukraine expert on the White House National Security Council — who heard the president try to extort Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky last summer. Vindman was so concerned by Donald Trump’s misconduct that he reported it to a superior and agreed to testify under oath about the controversy.

    […] Trump started taking shots at Vindman almost immediately. Soon after, the president hinted that he had secret evidence against the lieutenant colonel, which he would “soon” share with the media. Predictably, the information never materialized.

    […] It wasn’t long before [Trump] started mocking Vindman, publicly and privately, falsely accusing him of “insubordination,” and even demeaning Vindman’s heroic service.

    All the while, the lieutenant colonel who did everything right […] made no real effort to defend himself or fire back at the misguided partisans who tried to tear him down.

    But now that he’s retired from the military, Vindman has more options.

    […] the combat veteran wrote a Washington Post op-ed, which argued, “At no point in my career or life have I felt our nation’s values under greater threat and in more peril than at this moment. Our national government during the past few years has been more reminiscent of the authoritarian regime my family fled more than 40 years ago than the country I have devoted my life to serving. ”

    And now, Vindman has also spoken at some length with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg about his experiences. […]

    “President Trump should be considered to be a useful idiot and a fellow traveler, which makes him an unwitting agent of Putin,” he says. Useful idiot is a term commonly used to describe dupes of authoritarian regimes; fellow traveler, in Vindman’s description, is a person who shares Putin’s loathing for democratic norms.

    Asked whether he believes Vladimir Putin is blackmailing the Republican president, Vindman suggests it’s the wrong question.

    “They may or may not have dirt on him, but they don’t have to use it,” he says. “They have more effective and less risky ways to employ him. He has aspirations to be the kind of leader that Putin is, and so he admires him. He likes authoritarian strongmen who act with impunity, without checks and balances. So he’ll try to please Putin.” Vindman continues, “In the Army we call this ‘free chicken,’ something you don’t have to work for — it just comes to you. This is what the Russians have in Trump: free chicken.”

    As for his future, Vindman is now studying for his doctorate at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and he’s speaking out because he believes “it’s important for the American people to know that this could happen to any honorable service member, any government official. I think it’s important for me to tell people that I think the president has made this country weaker. We’re mocked by our adversaries and by our allies, and we’re heading for more disaster.”

    […] Here’s hoping he keeps on talking.

  264. says

    The one thing sustaining Trump’s support is itself highly dubious

    The problem isn’t just that Trump is lying about his economic record; it’s that much of the country doesn’t realize the extent to which he’s lying.

    […] some notable new 2020 polls were released, including this one from Fox News, which showed Joe Biden leading Donald Trump among likely voters by five points nationally. Take a look, however, at the issue-by-issue breakdown:

    Likely voters trust Trump over Biden on just one issue: the economy, by 5 points. Biden is favored on racial inequality (+12), coronavirus (+8), health care (+8), Supreme Court nominations (+7), and immigration (+7 points).

    […] To be sure, the incumbent president’s advantage on this one issue, at least for now, isn’t enough to position him to win. On the contrary, Trump is clearly trailing with 50 days remaining, his lead on economic issues notwithstanding.

    […] the only thing keeping Trump in contention right now is the impression that he can deliver strong economic results.

    […] the public’s impressions have likely been influenced by a hyper-aggressive messaging campaign. On a nearly daily basis for months, Americans have been told that Trump single-handedly created the single greatest economy in the history of the world. Voters have also been told, repeatedly, that Trump inherited an economic downturn from the Obama/Biden administration, which is why the GOP incumbent can be counted on to oversee another “comeback.”

    Given the importance of the issue, there are a handful of basic, demonstrable facts the electorate probably ought to be aware of:

    1. Trump inherited a healthy economy from the Obama/Biden administration.

    2. U.S. job growth slowed after Trump took office — even before the pandemic.

    3. In 2019, Trump’s third year in the White House, American job growth fell to an eight-year low, even as he pretended otherwise.

    4. As a candidate, Trump set specific targets for U.S. economic growth, and as a president, he failed spectacularly to deliver. What’s more, the best year of GDP growth in Trump’s first term fell short of the best year of Obama’s second term.

    5. The economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic is partially the result of Trump’s ineptitude in responsibly dealing with the crisis.

    The Washington Post published an interesting analysis about a year ago, “[I]f we are linking economic numbers to presidential performance, Trump’s insistence that his abilities are unparalleled are rendered somewhat suspect in that he ranks second out of the last two presidents” on several key economic indicators.” That, of course, was before this year’s severe downturn.

    [Trump’s] insistence that he created the strongest economy in history is plainly ridiculous. But looking at the polling data, the problem isn’t just that Trump is lying; it’s that much of the country doesn’t realize the extent to which he’s lying

  265. says

    Oh, no. The QAnon dunderhead is now a shoe-in. She will be a Congress critter.

    Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ga.) was already retiring, but on Friday, the Republican congressman announced he’s stepping down from Congress altogether next month. He’ll soon be replaced by Marjorie Taylor Greene, a right-wing conspiracy theorist who no longer has a major-party opponent in November.

    Other campaign news, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    […] despite the fact that Election Day 2020 is just seven weeks away, Trump hosted a campaign rally in Nevada on Saturday at which he focused once again on Hillary Clinton’s emails — at some length. The president similarly raised the prospect of imprisoning both his former opponent and her lawyers, which struck me as ironic, given that his lawyer actually did go to prison.

  266. says

    Trump was finally shamed into visiting fire-ravaged California.

    As if the air quality in California wasn’t bad enough, White House garbage fire Donald Trump is going to grace our already-burning state with his presence today. Oddly, there appears to be no state plan to stop him, despite California having both a National Guard and the largest public fleet of water-bombing aircraft on the planet.

    Trump is ostensibly coming for a “briefing” on the massive, historic fires that have been burning throughout the state for weeks. The briefing is one he wedged into his out-west campaign appearances after facing criticism for publicly ignoring the emergency for three weeks. He shouldn’t have bothered. Everyone in the state knows that the best possible place for Donald Trump to be during a disaster is far, far away. There’s absolutely no chance he visits the state without saying something either insulting, astonishingly ludicrous, or both.

    Oh, who are we kidding—it’s going to be both. It’s always both.

    Typhoid Hitler’s most likely stupid take—based on his record—is the repetition of his continued claims that what California needs to do if it doesn’t want fires like this is “rake” the forests. This talking point is absolutely based on him misunderstanding someone somewhere who explained to him that decades of California putting out fires rather than letting them burn has resulted, in some places, in explosively dense underbrush. Though there’s very good reason to believe this is a factor according to scientists, it’s also an especially common criticism from lobbyists who want to log more aggressively in the state’s federally owned lands.

    […] his mushbrain could only glean something about how we need to “clean” the forests, which he presumes from his golf course maintenance expertise means raking things, and there’s not one damn person in America that can drill the far more complicated version into his head because Donald Trump, the man who keeps saying stealth planes are “invisible,” is the most asinine, most stubborn grease puddle to ever have been let into the White House grounds.

    He also believes California is letting Too Much Water go into the Pacific Ocean. Again, because professional lobbyists told him so, not because he has any f–king hydrology expertise or could identify even one of the state’s rivers if you spotted him a map and the full powers of the U.S. presidency.

    […] As if a statewide natural disaster taking place during an ongoing worldwide natural disaster wasn’t enough to deal with, His Royal Orangeness is going to come explain to Californians that it’s not climate change causing these fires, it’s a lack of loyalty to him, personally, because reasons.

    I still say we should have the National Guard meet the plane when it lands, refuel it on the runway, and invite it to fly America’s aspirational fascist right the hell back out again, but no. He’s got to come and show us once again just how incompetent, indifferent, and buffoonish he can be, in person. And with our luck he’ll actually like it here: Finally, a state where the sky is the same orange color he paints his face.