The October surprise!


It’s here! Rudy Giuliani has it. Hunter Biden, who is not running for office, is claimed to have left incriminating evidence of terrible crimes on a hard drive.

“The process was that the laptop was left by Hunter Biden, in an inebriated, heavily inebriated state with the merchant,” Giuliani told conservative radio host David Webb of SiriusXM Patriot 125 on Thursday. “The merchant fixed the laptop, tried to reach out to Hunter Biden, and Hunter Biden never came back for it. The document that I have signed by Hunter Biden says that after 90 days, the hard drive is abandoned, and becomes the property of the merchant.”

The shop owner told the New York Post that he had given a copy of the computer’s hard drive to Giuliani, who later provided a copy of the drive to the tabloid earlier in October. The New York Post subsequently published some of the contents in the hard drive on Wednesday, including an email that spoke of potentially setting up a meeting between a senior official from Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings, where he sat on the board, and his father, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Uh, OK. So Hunter Biden got drunk, left a broken laptop at a repair shop, and forgot about it, so the repair shop owner gets possession and passes it on to the always credible Giuliani, who sits on it for 6 months and is now trickling out little bits info while promising that the remainder proves that Hunter Biden is owned by China.

Weak sauce.

A better surprise is that Rudy Giuliani’s daughter, Caroline, has repudiated her father’s politics.

If being the daughter of a polarizing mayor who became the president’s personal bulldog has taught me anything, it is that corruption starts with “yes-men” and women, the cronies who create an echo chamber of lies and subservience to maintain their proximity to power. We’ve seen this ad nauseam with Trump and his cadre of high-level sycophants (the ones who weren’t convicted, anyway).

What inspires me most about Vice President Biden is that he is not afraid to surround himself with people who disagree with him. Choosing Senator Harris, who challenged him in the primary, speaks volumes about what an inclusive president he will be. Biden is willing to incorporate the views of progressive-movement leaders like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on issues like universal health care, student debt relief, prison reform, and police reform. And he is capable of reaching across the aisle to find moments of bipartisanship. The very notion of “bipartisanship” may seem painfully ludicrous right now, but we need a path out of impenetrable gridlock and vicious sniping. In Joe Biden, we’ll have a leader who prioritizes common ground and civility over alienation, bullying, and scorched-earth tactics.

Do people still listen to Giuliani? He’s terrible.

Comments

  1. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Even if there was something there, it is too late this year to be as effective as Hair Furor wants due to the large amount of early/mail in voting. My mail in ballot has been received by by the County Clerks office and is being examined by the election judges.

  2. Artor says

    “The very notion of “bipartisanship” may seem painfully ludicrous right now,”
    It does indeed. The GOP has aptly demonstrated that there is zero to be gained by working with them. I hope they lose the Senate, and can be completely sidelined while the serious work restoring the country is done, because you know damn well they aren’t going to help. In fact, they will kick and scream and drag their feet, doing everything in their power to spoil any efforts forward. I hope Biden doesn’t try courting them with concessions. The work to be done is too important to invite spoiled toddlers to offer their input.

  3. birgerjohansson says

    Oh fuck, I just learned remdesivir does not reduce the mortality of those infected….so if Joe Biden gets it, he may not survive (good luck trying to give him the kind if treatment DT got, the Repub secretary with power over Walter Reed will nix it).

  4. says

    birgerjohannson@#4:
    The death rate has dropped pretty sharply now that doctors have figured out when and how to deliver supplemental oxygen, steroids, etc. It’s still not negligible but someone with high end care has less than half the chance of dying that they had in February/March.

  5. birgerjohansson says

    Marcus Ranum, thanks for the reassurance.
    .
    Surprise! USA is a necrocracy?
    -A GOP governor has cast his vote on Ronald Reagan by mail, since he feels he cannot vote for either Biden (that terrible socialist-communust-nazi-atheist-muslim) or for Trump.
    If Haiti can provide a suitably skulle religious practicioner, this could be interesting….

  6. robro says

    This is interesting in light of yesterdays news cycle. Giuliani was in the news yesterday because someone told the NYTimes and Washington Post that when Rudy was in Ukraine looking for evidence against the Bidens he was being manipulated by Russian intelligence agents. However, the idea that he was unwittingly being a “useful idiot” is pretty ridiculous. I’m confident he knew who he was dealing with and what he was doing.

  7. PaulBC says

    Prominent members of the Trumposphere (not just Giuliani but notably AG Barr) are about as delusional as the average Fox News viewer or QAnon member. I mean, they lie all the time so it’s hard to know, but the scariest thing is crazy stuff they think is true.

    Mainstream outlets have reported that Giuliani is conveying claims that are spoon fed to him from Russia. It’s a pretty serious accusation, but regardless of the source, it’s a safe bet that his addled mind is in no condition to evaluate any of it critically. He really is a sad case, and I hope he is finally seen as the buffoon he always was.

  8. gnokgnoh says

    Marcus Ranum, as of two days ago, the cumulative mortality rate is at 2.8% and the seven-day average daily mortality rate is at 1.5%. From the very beginning, the epidemiologists were telling us the mortality rate would eventually be 1-1.5%. Yes, at the beginning, it was as high as 7% in the U.S. None of this is surprising in the least, and yes, thankfully, doctors have become much better at treating the coronavirus. It is still more than 10x deadlier and far more contagious than the flu.

  9. robro says

    PaulBC @ #8 — I am skeptical of the “addled brain” defense for Giuliani or any of Trrump’s gang including Trump himself. As we don’t have an authoritative assessment of the state of their brains, it seem judicious to assume they are being deliberately and consciously criminal.

  10. daved says

    robro @ #10 — the only really authoritative assessment comes via autopsy, so the sooner we get that on the entire administration from Trump on down, the better.

  11. xohjoh2n says

    Weak sauce.

    How can you be so damn forgetful? It worked a fucking charm on Clinton…

    And it may well do serious damage this time too.

  12. says

    double bullshit

    The only reason why this “revelations” are meh is because there is nothing really new here. Children and family of influential politicians being given “do nothing jobs” they are not qualified to do and being given outrageous salaries for said job? That’s completely bipartisan, the only difference between Trump and Biden is that Trump is doing that openly and Biden is a hypocrite.
    And if you think Hunter got paid all he was paid because he is an expert in the field, I have a bridge to sell to you.
    And about Biden being ready to take to his cabinet people who disagree with him? Don’t be childish. He took Harris because she is beloved by Wall Street neoliberal shapeshifter, miss intersectionality who is willing to play the ball with donors and be good to Wall Street. He allowed Bernie end Warren to pretend they have any sway over him, but no one sane really believes he cares what is in “his” platform. It is not binding anyway.
    What Biden has himself to say about Bernie and his ideas about medicare? He would veto it and he beat socialist.

    It is still necessary to vote Trump out and Biden is the only hope, but don’t get fooled by partisan hackery.

    The bigger story is Twitter and facebook censoring it.
    You may be happy that bad Guliani was stopped, but you are naive if you think that it won’t be used against you at some point.

  13. stroppy says

    robro @ 8
    “I am skeptical of the “addled brain” defense for Giuliani or any of Trrump’s gang including Trump himself.”

    I’m skeptical that “addled brain” is a “defense.” Sounds more like an indictment of the whole damned system to me.

    For many of Trump’s gang I’d accept that craven looniness covers it. As for Trump, addled is not a particularly clinical diagnosis and pretty well describes his dissipated, disorganized state of mind. Giuliani is clearly not the man he used to be. I’m too lazy to hunt down some of the wtf examples of him before he lowered his profile a while back, but he’s been pretty feeble minded for someone who’s supposedly some kind of criminal mastermind. Go with criminal, but terms like “mastermind” and “self-aware” just don’t apply here.

    I know, it’s hard to accept that people this piss poor in the brain box could survive, let alone rule, at the apex of American society unchecked. But yes, we are indeed really that fucked, IMO.

  14. KG says

    Gorzki,

    You think Twitter and Facebook should allow obvious and libellous lies to be spread on their platforms? The scandal as far as they are concerned is that they have been far too willing to do so for years. (BTW, of course I don’t believe Hunter Biden was paid for his expertise. That doesn’t mean this crap about him drunkenly handing over a laptop with compromising material on it to a Trump fan needs to be taken seriously.)

  15. stroppy says

    @ 14
    Yeah, I’m pretty fed up with the Biden/Trump false equivalence that’s constantly being spewed by certain parties. It’s straight out of the white supremacist accelerationist playbook. It’s a steaming pile of malicious shite, is all.

  16. PaulBC says

    robro@10 Sure, but I don’t consider “bat shit crazy” a defense except in a criminal trial. I am sure they lie about many things. I also have reason to believe they buy into large parts of the Trump cult. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. How about high-ranking Scientologists? They may understand that some of what they tell cultists is nonsense, but it doesn’t mean they don’t believe much of it themselves. (Or any religion really.)

  17. drew says

    Isn’t this broken laptop scenario just a rerun of how they lied us into a war? I think I remember the original episode . . .

  18. waydude says

    If there’s one thing I will always remember about Giuliani, it’s that whenever they interviewed someone on the street about him, they would always say “FUCK GIULIANI”

  19. says

    I honestly wonder if they aren’t right this time. What the hell are they doing in Ukraine anyways? It’s one of the top corrupt countries in the world. I think these guys are almost as corrupt as Trump, and a helluva lot better at hiding it.

  20. PaulBC says

    @13

    It is still necessary to vote Trump out and Biden is the only hope, but don’t get fooled by partisan hackery.

    Who’s fooled? Biden was about my last choice. (OK, Bloomberg if you want to count him, and wasn’t he supposed to do some kind of massive money drop by now?) At this point, the choice is just as clear now as it always was.

    Where were all the purists in 2004? Are you telling me John Kerry is that much better than Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton?

  21. Azkyroth, B*Cos[F(u)]==Y says

    <

    blockquote>I honestly wonder if they aren’t right this time. What the hell are they doing in Ukraine anyways? It’s one of the top corrupt countries in the world. I think these guys are almost as corrupt as Trump, and a helluva lot better at hiding it.

    Clunky phrasing. I assume it was more eloquent in the original Russian.

  22. PaulBC says

    And I mean it as a serious question. I guess Al Gore and Hillary Clinton weren’t “good enough” so it was important to muddy the water just enough for them to lose the electoral college. Maybe Obama was OK or something, though I have heard plenty of leftists express their dissatisfaction (sometimes in offensive terms). (Obama was also the best campaigner Democrats have had on a national level in decades, so there’s that.)

    But in 2004, was just like “Eh, Kerry will probably lose this one without our help. No need to run a 3rd party challenge.” (It was also closer than many people may remember and he had a credible chance of winning at some points.)

  23. PaulBC says

    Erlend Meyer@22 You are garbling a lot of recent history in that glib pronouncement.

    Ukraine has been in upheaval for years and Russia is largely responsible. Yes, there has been corruption, but Biden’s action in 2014 was to address corruption, and it was uncontroversial at the time.

    The prosecutor general was fired soon after. But it wasn’t long before the new prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, was drawing allegations of corruption, including from State Department officials who suspected he was shaking down targets and intentionally slow-walking investigations to protect allies.

    Mr. Giuliani has claimed, without evidence, that Mr. Biden’s push to oust Mr. Shokin was an attempt to block scrutiny of his son’s actions. In fact, Mr. Biden was just one of many officials calling for Mr. Shokin to go. Good-government activists were protesting his actions in the streets, as were eurozone power players like Christine Lagarde, then the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, along with Ms. Nuland and Senate Republicans.

    “The position regarding getting rid of Shokin was not Vice President Biden’s position; it was the position of the U.S. government, as well as the European Union and international financial institutions,” said Amos J. Hochstein, former coordinator for international energy affairs at the State Department and one of the few administration officials who directly confronted Mr. Biden at the time about his son.

    That doesn’t mean Hunter Biden got his job “on merit” but that’s just garden-variety nepotism (especially compared to what Trump does). The big story is that Russia really hates Biden (as they hated Hillary Clinton) and they are pulling out all stops to help Trump and his gang.

  24. consciousness razor says

    You think Twitter and Facebook should allow obvious and libellous lies to be spread on their platforms?

    What are you talking about? They still do. “You’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” How they happen to treat one specific obvious lie is an exception, not the rule.

    And honestly, can you trust any such corporation to do fact-checking or to be on the side of the truth? Well, no … your next sentence makes quick work of that:

    The scandal as far as they are concerned is that they have been far too willing to do so for years.

    As it is with the numerous other ways that rich people control practically everything, it doesn’t fucking matter how “willing” they are for a system not crafted/maintained by them and isn’t catering to them. That’s what we need anyway, no apologies necessary.

    Just prepare yourself, I guess, for inevitable disappointment and outrage, whenever our corporate overlords don’t happen to be on “your side” regarding one thing or another, because they don’t believe it’s profitable enough. And just quietly wonder to yourself how it is that they ever got so powerful, what ever happened to the free press, why so many people everywhere came to believe so much obvious crap….

  25. spinynorman8 says

    Giuliani is a complete buffoon…which makes him a perfect fit for the Trump crime syndicate. The “detail” about Biden being in a “very heavily inebriated state” really seals it.

  26. PaulBC says

    I believe that Biden will be on “my side” as regards dropping US citizens out of helicopters. I am not sure about Trump… not sure about the helicopters that is, though I am sure that some extrajudicial executions will start as soon as he’s consolidated power. (Will they be official or “privatized” as are all good things Republican? Lots of unknowns here, all of them bad.)

    Sorry, it’s not a great choice, and I never said it was.

  27. consciousness razor says

    You don’t need to drop people out of helicopters, dumbass. You’ve got health coverage, while many others don’t … especially now that so many more are unemployed, and without a federal jobs guarantee (also not on Biden’s menu), that won’t change. So what you’ve really got is that many such people will die, but maybe you won’t. Good for you. You can say that you wish for something else, that the dead people who aren’t you have your thoughts and prayers, but then it’s right back to peddling some bullshit about helicopters. Fuck that noise.

  28. says

    The physical hard drive might have become the property of the repair shop, but I very much doubt that the contract included assignment of all intellectual property stored on the hard drive.

    This is unauthorised copying on a grand scale, aka copyright piracy and theft. I thought the GOP was for LAW AND ORDER!

  29. consciousness razor says

    I shouldn’t have to point it out, but there are zero cases of fucking helicopter drops. That’s what you’re fucking fantasizing about though. The paranoia is palpable, but it’s all you’ve got, because you can’t or won’t think about the real things that are actually happening in this fucking country. Not to mention around the world…. Do I have to say anything about Biden’s support of our endless wars? I probably do. Dropping bombs on a person’s head is also somewhat bad for their health, or so I am told.

  30. PaulBC says

    @33 I have been living with that my entire life. That is not an argument for making things even worse as fast as possible.

    To be clear, I don’t think that Biden and a Democratic senate will really be much more than a stopgap. Obama had control of both houses in 2009 and fucked around for two years until he lost it. Biden is nearly guaranteed to be worse.

    Yes, I’m intentionally using alarmist terms, but my thinking is more along the lines of I hope I take this seriously enough to get out of here if necessary before I’m bribing somebody for an exit visa. Because that really does happen. It’s far from a fantasy. I do mean to save my own skin and my immediate family. (I have some options available, but I also have a nice life here.)

  31. PaulBC says

    CR@33 But simple question for you. What do you propose I do with my vote in the upcoming election? (Because I thought that was the focus of this discussion.)

  32. KG says

    You think Twitter and Facebook should allow obvious and libellous lies to be spread on their platforms?

    What are you talking about? They still do.

    Oh fuck off, consciousness razor@28 (and @30) I’ve had it with your dishonesty and bad faith. You completely misrepresent what I said @17 – as must have been obvious to you since you go on to quote me saying:

    The scandal as far as they are concerned is that they have been far too willing to do so for years.

    (Your following paragraph, BTW, is sheer gibberish.) I was responding to Gorski complaining about those companies for once hesitating to propagate far right lies – though I see Twitter has thought worse of this since. You similarly, with no justification whatever, misrepresent PaulBC’s point @30 as a statement of selfishness. The pretence that there is no signfiicant difference for people in general between a Biden victory and a Trump victory is mendacious and ludicrous – and so are you.

    keep pretending that those you disagree with think Biden is a saviour.

  33. says

    @Azkyroth #24: Nah, not even close (European).

    @PaulBC #26: That garden variety nepotism can be quite insidious when done systematically. And as far as I can tell corruption is still a massive problem in Ukraine. And the VP’s son is doing business there? It stinks…
    But I agree, Trump is worse. Just as a diarrhea soup is worse than a shit sandwich. He docent even try to hide what he’s doing. Or he does, he’s just that bad at it. I don’t know what’s worse.

  34. xohjoh2n says

    @37:

    Just as a diarrhea soup is worse than a shit sandwich.

    I’m not entirely sure that is true. You could at least suck the diarrhea soup through a straw and try and get it down quickly without thinking too much about it. You’ve got to actually engage with the shit sandwich, chew on it etc.

  35. PaulBC says

    By my estimation, 2009 was about the last chance for the US to take a turn for the better. The public was burnt out across the board by Bush’s wars. There was a serious economic crisis that hurt many people, but which was really just a matter of bookkeeping and could have been fixed by everyone agreeing to change the books (e.g. loan forgiveness and massive deficit spending).

    Obama entered office with public support, optimism, and rare Democratic control of congress. The first big own-goal for Democrats was to go light with the stimulus package (thinking incorrectly a redo was possible–Krugman has covered this extensively). The second was to cobble together such a terrible and confusing healthcare proposal that half of the people who voted for it stood ready to trash-talk it given the slightest chance. The third was to ignore the fact that the party was about to get its clock cleaned in 2010 at a state and national level, even though there were signs all around, and (again incorrectly) assume this was a correctible setback ignoring the fact that it was a census year.

    (And I was blindsided too, but I’m just a software engineer. I expect these people to get it.)

    On ACA, obviously it could have been much better, but what really angers me is the fact that Democrats immediately started to claim they didn’t really like it and would “fix” what they just did. This is about the lousiest election pitch I can think of for 2010. Think about Republicans and the 2017 tax giveaway to the very rich. They don’t talk about it much at all, because it’s unpopular, but if pressed, they’ll still insist it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.

    This is only partly Obama’s fault. The other big issue are “centrist” Democrats. Obama (who by the way I admire as a writer, a thinker, and a campaigner) really did fall right into an obvious GOP trap with the whole “grand bargain” idea. And maybe he really believes this, or maybe he just doesn’t give a rat’s ass about handing victory to Republicans. I have no idea. He remains the only president in my lifetime (with maybe the exception of post-presidency Jimmy Carter) who conjures up any warm feelings to think about.

    By 2016, we were already looking at a GOP machine that had near complete control of US politics. The one necessary and sufficient step was to keep a Republican out of the White House and hold down the fort while regrouping. It could have been Clinton or Sanders. I voted for Clinton in 2016 primaries (Sanders in 2020 FWIW) but would have voted for either on in the general election.

    But at this point we were already damaged beyond where we were in 2009. The idea that it was time for big popular reforms made no sense to me. There was no power behind reforms like that. Obama was not a new FDR. I really doubted that Sanders would be.

    Today we are so damaged as a nation, that it’s literally about just hanging on. I appreciated today’s NYT editorial

    Mr. Trump stands without any real rivals as the worst American president in modern history.

    Sort of an obvious point, but still something else to be reading it in the NYT. They didn’t actually refer to a “long train of abuses and usurpations” but that was pretty much the tone.

    Sorry, this sucks, but I am really not interested in hearing about anyone’s protest vote. It has been purely a game of lowered expectations since 2009 when I admit they were briefly raised. Hold the country together long enough for me to say “So long suckers.” like Bugs Bunny in a cartoon exit. That’s how I cast my vote in 2020 and I know it ain’t for Trump.

  36. consciousness razor says

    PaulBC:

    What do you propose I do with my vote in the upcoming election? (Because I thought that was the focus of this discussion.)

    It’s a secret ballot, as it should be, so I won’t actually know, even after the fact. Does it matter what I propose? I doubt it, and I doubt I would know what your response was anyway. But whatever…. Can you vote against Nancy Pelosi in your district or does she “represent” a different area? Vote for Shahid Buttar instead. I hear CA has lots of ballot measures, but I don’t pay attention to them, because I don’t live there. You get lots of votes. Technically speaking, only electors get votes in the presidential election, and we know how CA is going this year.

    So your question is a bit mystifying…. Why would you ask it, and why am I supposed to be concerned? Is it just a rhetorical move that you’re making, as it seems to be, or do you sincerely think that you need my input about something?

    But put all of that to the side. You’ll notice that my comments were not about what you do with your ballot. You clearly have a life before and after that. For example, right now, we’re having a discussion, and what you decide to say in it is up for discussion and is subject to criticism. If it doesn’t always circle back around to what happens in polling places, I think that’s perfectly okay.

    KG:

    keep pretending that those you disagree with think Biden is a saviour.

    My comment to you had nothing to do with Biden or your opinion of him. I think it’s terrifying that some people (seems like a lot) are supportive, or at best unreflective, when it comes to measures taken by Twitter/Facebook/Google/etc., as if they ought to be in the truth-deciding business. This story doesn’t have a good ending. Most don’t want a fascist dystopia in the future, but that’s what we’ll get, if you keep asking for more of that. Then it will be too late to un-ask it, because nobody will hear what they’re able to decide shouldn’t be heard.

  37. PaulBC says

    So your question is a bit mystifying…. Why would you ask it, and why am I supposed to be concerned? Is it just a rhetorical move that you’re making, as it seems to be, or do you sincerely think that you need my input about something?

    How is it mystifying? I am curious how your position translates to action. In fact, I’m faced with a slightly interesting choice between long-time representative Anna Eshoo and challenge Rishi Kumar, who are both Democrats. I think Eshoo will probably win and I’m not sure who I’ll vote for though I’m leaning towards Kumar. I won’t be losing much sleep either way.

    Do you think I don’t value your input? Sure I do. I read just about everything you post in reply to me. Why would I do that if I didn’t care? It probably won’t change my vote in the presidential election, but I am still trying to understand your proposal. You have one, right? At this point I don’t have the option of going back in time and somehow changing the upcoming decision, and my activities after this election may be more forward looking. I am going to vote for Biden in the presidential election. I won’t do it with “nose held” but I won’t do it with a great deal of enthusiasm. Obviously I am not going to vote for Trump. Any other vote would register in final count and is therefore not quite equivalent to not voting at all, but the difference it pretty slight (occasionally a large showing by a 3rd party candidate has some impact).

  38. PaulBC says

    Technically speaking, only electors get votes in the presidential election, and we know how CA is going this year.

    Granted, California is an extreme case, but that’s the kind of thinking that leaves elections to those who bother to show up. I intend to show up, no matter where I live, and I only vote for candidates that I believe to be viable. It’s a pretty simple algorithm. Why add unnecessary twists?

  39. stroppy says

    “dropping people out of helicopters”
    I don’t think that’s meant to be taken literally, but more as an ironic, if hyperbolic, reference to an attitude that came out of Viet Nam — wrapping wire around the head and across the eyes of Viet Cong and shoving them out of helicopters.

    I think the kind of violence we’re most likely to see would be an escalation of what we’re already seeing now, street level stuff. Biden would like to dial that back, Trump would like to dial it up. Trump will likely have his way for a little while, depending.

    It will be interesting to see how Republicans react to a general defeat after the election. If they’re going to continue encouraging unrest, it could simmer for a long, long time perhaps periodically boiling over.

  40. logicalcat says

    Alright CR lets get talking about whats happening right now. 215,000 dead. I have zero doubt that Biden would jave handled the pandemic better than Trump who was a known antivaxxer prior and even during the election. Lets talk about his son in law admitting that poor response was due to the hardest hit regions being promarily democratic. No helicopters needed. Its genocide by neglect.

    Also empowering militias. Shits a powder keg.

  41. logicalcat says

    @stroppy

    It actually comes from fascist Chile and their dictator Pinochet dropping leftist off helicopters. Its a common fantasy among Trumps fascist base do adopt that policy here.

  42. says

    “The “detail” about Biden being in a “very heavily inebriated state” really seals it.”

    The story is obviously fake. The real Hunter Biden would have burned an American flag right outside the shop.

  43. unclefrogy says

    is there anything more likely to be a fake then a hard drive from some computer coming from “one of the most corrupt countries on the planet”? The provenance of sounds like bad Hollywood
    why should anyone take the word of Giuliani?
    one step at a time makes a journey, sorry there are no time-machines nor transporters. it takes time from seed to harvest you still have to wait and weed and feed and water and take care of things there are no short cuts and we still end up dead.
    uncle frogy

  44. says

    @37: “And the VP’s son is doing business there? It stinks…”

    Could you please articulate what precisely Hunter Biden did wrong when he was in Ukraine? Because nobody else has, including his Republican accusers who’ve managed to completely bypass that part of their conspiracy theory. That’s the thing that stinks.

  45. stroppy says

    logicalcat @ 46

    Yeah, although death flights are not unique around the world and predate Pinochet. But it’s the (alleged) American practice that is likely to loom large in America’s imagination. For all I know the CIA introduced it to Pinochet…

  46. PaulBC says

    stroppy@44 I was actually thinking of Pinochet, and I’m pretty sure it’s documented, but the means aren’t that significant, just a dramatic image of a dictatorship.

    Since his impeachment was nullified by the GOP Senate, it’s clear that Trump has the expectation that he can do anything he likes. If he “wins” the next election, he’ll take that as complete vindication: that not only his party cronies, but the public through something like an electoral process supports the proposition that he can do whatever he wants.

    Now this is Trump we’re talking about, so he always assumed he has absolute power, but having a process behind it will definitely strengthen his position. I have always considered it disastrous to re-elect Trump but in that brief period between the end of the impeachment and the pandemic turning into the biggest news, I had already thought this through.

    The pandemic is just more bad news on top of it, but it doesn’t change the big story, which is that Trump has evaded every attempt to put his power in check. To endorse this view through an election is to vote for the end of the US system of government as we know it.

  47. PaulBC says

    logicalcat@46

    It actually comes from fascist Chile and their dictator Pinochet dropping leftist off helicopters. Its a common fantasy among Trumps fascist base do adopt that policy here.

    The funny thing is that I had already thought “That’s what it’ll eventually come to.” before looking up if anyone else was using the image and finding to my shock that it is a popular fantasy among the alt-right. Sometimes I think those guys (mostly guys) know their history better than us and for the wrong reasons.

  48. garnetstar says

    The first thing I thought when I read this elaborate tale was that Guiliani must have concocted it personally, since Russian agents would have fabricated something much more credible. Now the FBI is investigating whether or not a foreign intelligence operation was behind this (the answer is yes, just not enough to accomplish it well.)

    These republicans are just so incompetent! If you’re going to lie and cheat, for heaven’s sake, do it well. These guys wouldn’t last ten minutes in Westeros.

  49. says

    @Area Man #49: I’m basically questioning the motives and integrity of anyone doing business in Ukraine. They’re crooks, all of them. Money movers and Big Corp that is.

  50. PaulBC says

    The whole “emails found on laptop” shows a really limited imagination. Pretty sure that’s been done before.

    Trump has expressed many bizarre beliefs, such as the existence of a single server in Ukraine that had all the damning evidence, and once accused Hillary Clinton of “acid-washing” her emails. I don’t think either of these guys have the wherewithal to make up a credible scandal involving these newfangled computers, so maybe it really did come from Russian operative. Who knows what Giuliani is talking about?

    On implausible movie plots, the idea that Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin were sharing a laptop that she was using for government business and he was using for sexting minors is something I would dismiss out of hand it it wasn’t documented. Do these political idiots practice the slightest data security?

  51. consciousness razor says

    PaulBC:

    I am curious how your position translates to action.

    Here’s something: say things that I’m not going to criticize, and then I won’t criticize them. If that’s not what you were looking for, too bad. It’s my position and not yours, so don’t tell me what it’s supposed to be about. But your vote (or non-vote) for Biden in California really, deeply, sincerely does not matter in the slightest to me. I never said it did.

    So, it’s got nothing to do with your behavior in a voting booth. Partly because you’re not writing your comments from a voting booth, and I’m as sure of that fact as you are. Hopefully that’s all a little bit clearer now.

    logicalcat:
    I’ll say it again: I don’t need any convincing that Trump’s bad or that Republicans are bad.

    If the message were “most likely, fewer people will die, but there will be many deaths resulting from deliberate and sociopathic policy choices made by the Democratic party, so make sure you vote for bad guy #2 instead of bad guy #1” then I’m more likely to take that seriously. It’s kind of a weird thing to say, but I’m not the one who put you in the position of needing to say it to anybody who will listen on this blog.

    Why was all this nonsense about Ukraine an issue in the first place, by the way? It’s because “we” wanted to give military aid, but Trump was being a particularly depraved asshole about it on the phone? Okay then…. But it should probably be noted that our policy of supporting death and destruction around the world has not generally worked out so well, like during the Soviet-Afghan war for instance. Is it okay if I simply don’t align myself with any part of that entire shitfest? I think it’s okay. Because I had nothing to do with it, and I don’t want to have anything to do with it. Leave me out of it. Just find somebody else to be a useful idiot for the warmongers. I have to apologize when I make my own mistakes, so I’m just going to let them handle theirs. Sounds fair?

  52. PaulBC says

    @57

    Here’s something: say things that I’m not going to criticize, and then I won’t criticize them. If that’s not what you were looking for, too bad.

    Now I’m confused. Why would I be going out of my way to say things that you or anyone else aren’t going to criticize? Doesn’t that kind of miss the whole point of saying anything at all. It’s up to you if you want to respond. We don’t even have a “like” button, so there’s no way to agree without sounding trite. What do I want except criticism?

    Since I didn’t refer to you directly in @30 but I think you correctly saw it as a reply, it makes total sense that you’d have something to say about it. That’s fine. I was neither soliciting a reply (in which case I’d have been more explicit) or trying to avoid one (not trying too hard anyway).

    I am still personally hurting very badly from the election of 2016 and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. I had what I thought was a clear idea of an obvious strategy, admittedly with limited return, but an unacceptable alternative. I was blindsided. I’m still lashing out at that. I still really don’t get it. I think things would obviously be better now if Hillary Clinton had been elected president. They would not be “good” overall (though I actually think in some areas of domestic policy we’d have seen tangible improvement).

    The other thing is that I interpret 2016 very differently from Sanders supporters (whether you’re one, CR, isn’t the point). Hillary Clinton was a terrible candidate because a lot of people really despise her, not because she’s a “establishment” Democrat with Wall Street ties who view Henry Kissinger as her foreign policy mentor. I mean, those things are totally acceptable in American politics, whatever I think of them, and you don’t lose elections because of them. She lost because there was a quarter-century billion dollar smear campaign against her, and because we still live in a misogynist nation. So I’m pretty angry about all that. Though I will say that if Sanders had been elected president in 2016, that would also be very good.

    In short, maybe Hillary Clinton did not “deserve” to be president, but she lost for all the wrong reasons.

    I merely state my viewpoint. I state it again and again, hoping it will make sense and particularly that I can come to grips with being so thoroughly blindsided. I also think that those on the left who are supporting third party candidates without a hope of being elected are tilting at windmills. If you’re supporting, say Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, that’s a whole different matter. She wins elections and fights in the arena where it matters. Sanders too, and maybe I would have considered the 2016 campaign differently in hindsight.

    But I’m really sick of having the absolute worst people win every contest simply because they are able to maintain a united front and we’re not.

  53. PaulBC says

    CR@57

    “most likely, fewer people will die, but there will be many deaths resulting from deliberate and sociopathic policy choices made by the Democratic party, so make sure you vote for bad guy #2 instead of bad guy #1”

    Uh, OK. That’s a view I can endorse. If I repeat it enough, can I count on your vote for Biden (not my primary aim, but heck, if it’s that simple, I’ll give it a go).

  54. Rob Grigjanis says

    cr @57:

    Leave me out of it.

    So you’re not voting? That’ll show ’em! Whoever they are.

  55. consciousness razor says

    Nope, Rob, that little snippet also isn’t about voting. A nice attempt at listening, other than being totally pathetic of course.

    Biden can defend himself, people. If he really wants to pitch the idea that people like me don’t matter, but he wants us to vote for him anyway, then he can say it one more time, just to be sure the message was drilled into our stupid fucking heads.

    In fact, I will be voting … in a “red state,” what many of you call a “flyover state” because you think so little of us. I’m sure it will elect Trump, with or without me, just like California voters will select Biden. Of course, nobody ever asks. You probably should’ve asked, if you actually cared.

    So look, if you can somehow make it feel like I’m not back in Catholic school, like I’m not being told to agree with things I don’t believe in order to be a welcome member of the cult, then I will try to be a friendly and agreeable person. Sometimes I am anyway, but I’ll always despise shit like that, whether or not it’s obvious. It may not be your fault, not entirely at least, so don’t take it too personally. I recognize that. On the other hand, I wasn’t expecting the fucking inquisition. And if what I need is an exorcism, I don’t think anyone here is qualified for that either.

  56. PaulBC says

    CR@61 I would never ask you to agree with me on things like this. I still have a viewpoint, right? I express things I feel strongly about. The day people actually start paying attention is when I get worried.

  57. Rob Grigjanis says

    cr @61: Oh, cry me a fucking river. People have asked, but you’ve set new standards for ‘coy’ and ‘verbose’. Do as you will, but spare us the lectures about how awful the Democrats and Biden are. We have The Vicar for that, and neither of you has ever said anything that we don’t already know. So what’s your game? A public airing of the inner agonies of your conscience? Boring.

  58. PaulBC says

    BTW, I don’t say “flyover state” and I don’t say “white trash.” Both are offensive, though for different reasons. I live where I do because it’s the obvious place to do my line of work. I also enjoy living in a so-called majority-minority area. It keeps life interesting. I grew up in Philadelphia exurbs next to a small farm that rotated between soybeans and winter wheat (and eventually some corn before the owner died in the 1980s and the land was all developed into McMansions). I do not “think so little of” anyone just because of where they choose to live. On the other hand, I don’t kid myself that I would fit in most of these places either.

  59. raven says

    It actually comes from fascist Chile and their dictator Pinochet dropping leftist off helicopters.

    IIRC, the Argentinians started it first with their military dictatorship.
    The disappeared.
    The number of disappeared were quite high, 20,000-30,000.

    Human rights groups in Argentina often cite a figure of 30,000 disappeared; Amnesty International estimates 20,000. Many were killed in death flights, a practice initiated by Admiral Luis María Mendía, usually after detention and torture.

    Death flights – Wikipedia

  60. raven says

    We in the USA already have high numbers of extrajudicial killings.
    There are far more ways to kill people than just firing a gun at them at close range. A few:

    .1. Access to health care for large segments of our population is nonexistent.
    Most years lately, average lifespans in the USA have been falling, and falling sharply for some segments of our population, i.e. older rural white females and middle aged white males.
    .2. Don’t forget the opioid pandemic.
    .3. Police shootings and violent arrests, mostly but not always of unarmed Black males.
    .4. The USA has the highest maternal mortality of the First World.
    .5. The thugs of ICE/Border Patrol have killed a large but unknown number of children, women, and men. They operate in secret with no accountability so the numbers are unknown but likely higher than you would imagine.
    .6. Last but not least, the death toll from Covid-19 virus is now 220,000 and on track to 300,000 by the end of the year.
    I knew one of them.

    It’s fair to say that my government does not have my interests or well being as a goal any more.

  61. consciousness razor says

    On the other hand, I don’t kid myself that I would fit in most of these places either.

    You might figure it out eventually, assuming you survive. It may help to watch this documentary (a brief four minute excerpt).

  62. PaulBC says

    @67 I believe that was in driving distance of Manhattan, maybe rural New York or Connecticut. I’m not sure if they are ever very clear. I think I could handle East Coast rural better than Midwest, and the Deep South, forget it. Texas? Not sure. In Vermont, the country folk are all socialists, right?

    It is true that “I just adore a penthouse view.” When I was commuting to SF a couple of years ago, I found myself shamefully coveting some of the new condos going up though it’d be a stretch to convince the family to move.

  63. wzrd1 says

    I’m still shaking my head over the improbability of the entire hard drive nonsense.
    First, Hunter ostensibly drops off a notebook computer for repair, it suddenly is a hard drive, which would’ve had to have been recovered if the HD was damaged, it magically gets imaged and stored. Because computer repair shops have phenomenal data storage facilities in the attic or something.
    The owner then goes through the files on the hard drive, which would still remain not his property, even if the computer was abandoned, violating every notion of privacy in the business and is beyond ethically out of bounds by a continent and somehow reads all of the e-mails and understands what was being said.
    Ignoring that things like Outlook and Lotus Notes encrypt their data files, but computer guy manages to break AES encryption far more easily than the pikers at the NSA.
    Oh, saw something else about this increasingly mythical computer guy, he’s allegedly legally blind, but recognized Hunter…
    Add in, if he had at least three operational brain cells, Hunter would turn on disc encryption in Windows and with any quality business computer, would interact with the TPM chip to render the data on that HD unreadable without the master key string to force decryption.

    Oh boy, the last time I saw this much bullshit, I was in the middle of a pasture and hurrying before the bull discovered me there!

  64. PaulBC says

    wzrd1@69 I wouldn’t expend more mental effort than Giuliani did on this, which is to say any effort at all.

  65. consciousness razor says

    There are plenty of rural places a lot closer to New York (and were probably a lot more in the 60s).

    Well, that’s hardly the same thing. I always figured it was supposed to be set in some little town deep in the Ozarks, in southern Missouri or Arkansas. That’s not based on anything too specific though. Except for people treating a pig like one of the townsfolk. That’s totally normal there.

  66. danielwall says

    She’s right about those yes-men. Donald Trump is practically gone. He was always all kinds of awful, but now he isn’t even really there. What matters isn’t what lunacy he dreams up anymore; it’s the fact that he is surrounded by people willing to pretend they believe in him because that gives them access to power.

    I expect most fancy themselves the adults in the room. They are just sycophants.

  67. wzrd1 says

    @PaulBC, I was always under the impression that Hooterville straddled state lines, divided by the border between the states of Confusion and Euphoria.
    Next time I’m in town, I’ll ask Arnold. ;)

    Oh, didn’t put any real thought, those were momentary thoughts about how many ways the story is ridiculous and falls apart under its own weight. If Rudy built his cases that way, it’s little wonder he left law for being a shyster.

  68. logicalcat says

    @CR

    You know why I hate the “But he’s a bad guy too!” line of reasoning? Because its not true. Biden is fine. He’s fucked up, admitted he fucked up (with regards to Iraq im talking about specifically). The problem with politicians is that when they mess up peoples lives are affected. And sure criticize it. Go ahead, but you know what? I doubt you could have done better. Because the left has never in recent memory placed itself in the position to make a bad decision by not winning any seats. Oh, other than Sanders. Bernie the Bomber (look it up) who voted for the bill that allowed the president to declare war without congressional approval. So he may have voted against the Iraq war, but he voted for the thing that allowed it to happen. But of course like I would do better. Maybe, maybe not. Ive never been placed in the position to make that choice.

    Biden honestly thought the CIA, the intelligence agency he and everyone in the government rely on for intelligence, was telling the truth. He believed the president at his word that authorization to use force was to strengthen our position in the UN to get inspectors in there. It was all a lie. This is stupid of Biden. Gullible as fuck. But eventually the dishonest propaganda of the left morphed the scenario of a man who was the victim of another assholes dishonesty into a man who supports endless wars and dropping bombs on other peoples heads. This is why Ive grown disillusioned with the left. Because a lot of it is straight up dishonesty and propaganda. It wasn’t “deliberate sociopathic policies” or whatever. And I choose the Iraq situation as the best example but there are plenty. Literally every problem Biden has is something that can be explained rationally from a man who is human. You may not agree with the rational, but its hardly deliberate sociopathic stuff here. You can reduce any politician you could think of into such a caricature easily and make them look like the bad guy.

    I don’t think you are dishonest CR, but I do think, like a lot of leftists you fell for the propaganda. I know I did.

    https://www.factcheck.org/2019/09/bidens-record-on-iraq-war/

  69. logicalcat says

    @Raven

    Didn’t know about the Argentinians. I assumed Chile started it because Pinochet is what the alt-right use in their memes.

  70. says

    Do these political idiots practice the slightest data security?

    A lot of them fight to bypass it because they’re important. Nobody gets to tell them to mask up!

  71. stroppy says

    Death Flights

    So, from the wikipedia article the earliest listed practice is Madagascar in 1947 (the Malagasy uprising). The list is hardly exhaustive unless there’s a restricted definition of “death flights.” The CIA dit it Vietnam. There are instances in the Philippines, and the Middle East. If you think about it, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to come up with shoving people out of aircraft. It probably started all over as soon as there was space for cargo and an exit door.

    I wasn’t aware that the the alt-right had made an icon of Pinochet, but it makes sense. They seem to have a special bug up their collective butt about anything having to do with South America, and Pinochet was pretty high profile back in the day.

  72. PaulBC says

    logicalcat@75

    You know why I hate the “But he’s a bad guy too!” line of reasoning? Because its not true.

    I’m half with you here, but there is plenty of culpability to go around, and the US has committed many atrocities. All I would say is that Biden is not much worse than the typical Democratic senator of his generation. The US has been bombing other nations with impunity since I was barely old enough to remember and the Vietnam War was raging. It doesn’t really get better going back in it. Go far enough back and we have the genocide of Native Americans on our hands, among other things. (I grew up listening to Phil Ochs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gv1KEF8Uw2k and I understood this point from an early age).

    I don’t consider Hillary Clinton “bad” either, but I can see that argument (which she encouraged herself by bragging about how much she learned from Henry Kissinger) and I think she would have done a better job on domestic policy, partly just by being smarter and harder working than Biden.

    Again, I think John Kerry provides an interesting contrast. At least I don’t recall a strong leftwing challenge to him in 2004, i.e. nobody like Nader in 2000 or Sanders in 2016. He could have won, and probably the biggest thing that helped to defeat him was the “swiftboating” campaign. But unlike the “OMG emails!” scandal the left wasn’t complicit in repeating the smears.

    I guess it depends on what’s a “bad guy”. The banality of evil is real thing, but it is dishonest to see it in one place and ignore it in another. There are other reasons I disagree with Biden’s stances (and would have preferred Elizabeth Warren, and actually voted for Sanders in the primary this time around).

    It is true that electing Biden won’t change US foreign policy in a significant way and we’ll have as much blood on our hands as ever, the precise number of new bombings dependent on circumstances. That’s a given in any election and I doubt even Sanders could do much about it.

    I also make a distinction between presidents who cause deaths abroad due to evil policies carried out effectively and those who cause death and suffering domestically due to a combination of incompetence and a callous disregard for the lives of our own people. When the former is a given, I will still vote to avoid the latter.

    I don’t vote to render a moral judgment. I vote to wield some insignificant influence in an outcome (and yes, it’s really insignificant in a state like California where the outcome is determined beyond doubt, but this isn’t something I plan to overthink.)

  73. PaulBC says

    stroppy@78 I imagine some people love Pinochet for the same reason he is legitimately despised. Allende’s government had gained global admiration on the left and was overthrown in an CIA backed coup that installed Pinochet. Immediately on rising to power, he brutally killed many people including some of the most beloved artists in Chile such as Victor Jara. But if you “hate leftists” I suppose this all seems hilarious.

    I can’t really predict what “Trump ascendent” would look like, probably not quite like Pinochet, and I just hope I don’t have to find out. Trump himself suffers from the fact that he has poor attention span and appears to crave publicity more than power, so he may fail as an autocrat even given the green light. But that’s not something to count on. Once the unchallenged power of presidency is established, it’ll be too good for other would-be autocrats to pass up.

    My point is that there’s a real difference between an unpopular Senate majority making excuses for Trump and a process that looks like an election legitimizing their past four years of excuses. Once that happens, there is no longer any limit on what Trump (or extended Trump junta) will do.

  74. KG says

    KG:

    keep pretending that those you disagree with think Biden is a saviour.

    My comment to you had nothing to do with Biden or your opinion of him. I think it’s terrifying that some people (seems like a lot) are supportive, or at best unreflective, when it comes to measures taken by Twitter/Facebook/Google/etc., as if they ought to be in the truth-deciding business. This story doesn’t have a good ending. Most don’t want a fascist dystopia in the future, but that’s what we’ll get, if you keep asking for more of that. Then it will be too late to un-ask it, because nobody will hear what they’re able to decide shouldn’t be heard. – consciousness razor@41

    The bit you quote there was a relic of an earlier version of the comment, and supposed to have been removed, but of course you weren’t to know that. I won’t apologise for it because it’s fairly apposite in general with regard to your comments.

    As for the response, if I’ve interpreted the clotted prose correctly, you think Twitter/Facebook/Google should just go ahead and allow any accusation about anyone to spread via their servers, whatever (a) its obvious falsity and (b) the consequences of doing so. At least, that’s the only interpretation I can reach.

    Most don’t want a fascist dystopia in the future, but that’s what we’ll get, if you keep asking for more of that.

    Says the person who’s entire effort appears to be going into disuading people from voting to prevent a fascist dystopia.

    @61,
    Jesus wept, you really are a champion self-absorbed whiner.

  75. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    @consciousness razor: By your reasoning, no one should be concerned when a mugger points a gun at them, because the number of bullets being fired by that mugger at you is zero.

    Fascism is a process. And no one expects at the beginning of it where it will end up. Not even the elites.

    So the correct question is to ask, “In how many similar instances do people start getting thrown out of helicopters?”

    And it is a high number. It’s not just Italy, Germany and Spain. It is Chile and Guatemala and every other society where a dictator took over. (Yes, in many cases that dictator had outside assistance.. often from the US. No need when the call is coming from within the house, but this wannabe-dictator actually does have outside assistance).

    What is so galling is how ultimately racist and/or nationalistically chauvinistic this reasoning is. It is acting as if we in America are really just so much nicer and gentler and more decent, just better, than all those filthy Germans or Japanese or Italians or Chileans or Salvadorans or Guatemalans who fascism happened to. (And no, the argument that we have more robust democratic institutions won’t cut it. True, Italy and Germany in the 30s had not been stable republics for as long as we have been. But not only is it actually a matter of some contention how robust our systems are, given our very low level of democratic concordance and numerous structural flaws that have been gamed into the system, but Chile s parliamentary system had been around for generations before Pinochet who took advantage of left-right polarization – sound familiar?) It’s actually morally and intellectually offensive to act as if the possibility of our government, the government that had recently been formally committed to torture’s legality, is zero. I am actually convinced that if Biden wins Trump will probably hand over the reins of power (he is a grifter not an ideologue and I am not at all convinced he has the actual chutzpah, not mere posturing, to be willing to threaten a civil war which is what that would do), and I don’t think we are likely to see much more serious fascism than we have… but then again, I thought Clinton was going to win in 2016. We need to stop being so eager to bet against Trump and what he openly represents.

    They are already dispersing crowds with gas to secure photo ops, running concentration camps for children, violating international law, backing dictatorships, planning on criminalizing dissent, openly discussing an unwillingness to ignore the peaceful transfer of power and to contest the legitimacy of the election, abducting suspects in vans, and on and on and on. And the political system is allowing it, and media resistance to it remains largely along partisan lines. Countless international and domestic crimes are being committed. An impeachment was blatantly ignored along partisan lines. None of the institutional brakes that were supposed to work have. So what makes you think any new ones will? What makes you so sure that they will that you are willing to say it is literally a 100% chance?

  76. Rob Grigjanis says

    Some mildly optimistic US election news from the CBC.

    The polling error that did occur in 2016 wasn’t a fluke. Something did go wrong — and many pollsters have taken steps to avoid the same thing happening again.

    The politics and data journalism website FiveThirtyEight surveyed a series of American pollsters to find out what changes they had made to their methodologies since 2016. The most common change has been that pollsters are now weighting their samples by education.

    The fact that many pollsters did not do this in 2016 was cited as one of the main sources of the error in a post-election report by the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). According to the report, only half of national pollsters weighted by education in 2016.

  77. PaulBC says

    @85 All well and good (though FiveThirtyEight set the odds of a 2016 win about right as far as I can tell, but people misinterpreted it).

    What gives me optimism has less to do with polling error than the fact that Joe Biden is not viscerally hated by many of the people whose votes he’s counting on. The left may want to believe that Clinton’s loss was due to her status as an establishment Democrat, but this is more of neutral than a negative. Many Americans are prepared to vote for someone who accepts donations from Wall Street and counts Henry Kissinger as their mentor. The ones who aren’t will be hard to attract without putting other factors in play.

    Biden is just as establishment as Clinton, but he’s a man, eliminating misogyny as a factor, and there has not been a 25-year running billion dollar smear campaign against him. He’s an accomplished glad-hander, tending to neutralize the tendency of insecure people to imagine he is talking down to him. Considering that Hillary Clinton won the most votes by a comfortable margin and only missed slightly in the 3 states that tipped the electoral college, I conclude that Trump (even before proving how disastrous he would be) was an incredibly vulnerable candidate, who was set up to lose an election against one of the most reviled figures in American politics.

    Without Comey’s interference, Hillary Clinton would now be president (at least there are analyses to back that up). It’s not the only “what if” factor, and the Clinton campaign made plenty of its own mistakes.

    I think a Biden win is a near certainty barring some kind of surprise (but how do you rule out anything)? (Or whether the GOP will respect anything other than a landslide victory, which we may yet have.) The other big question is what happens to the Senate. Biden with a GOP senate is going to be a long, extended root canal (which still beats getting kicked in the teeth with a steel-toe boot).

  78. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Paul BC: “Biden is just as establishment as Clinton, but he’s a man, eliminating misogyny as a factor, and there has not been a 25-year running billion dollar smear campaign against him.”

    Oh would that were true. The dumbasses at National Review are saying they have to beat Biden because he is just a puppet of Harris–and Pompeo is promising more Hillary Clinton “Buttered emails.” If can’t win against the candidate you have, win win against the candidate you want.

  79. says

    @87
    On rare occasions I engage with MAGAts I have to keep firmly reminding them it is not 2016, Hilary Clinton is not running for president, and Trump tanked the economy. NOBODY GIVES A SHIT about her e-mails. It doesn’t matter.

  80. PaulBC says

    @89

    But despite those fears, the former mayor said he has been “laughing my head off” about the whole affair.

    Fits of uncontrollable laughter. A sure sign of high credibility.

    “My guess is that George Soros is behind this counter-offensive… because he wants to create a socialist country,” Giuliani baselessly alleged. “He’d like to see us collapse and see us taken over by the international… whatever.” Giuliani said that Derkach’s eventual sanctioning was the result of “an intelligence ploy to try to create problems for Trump—because Derkach could probably bury Obama.”

    Exactly, and Soros is lurking right there in the back of the pizza parlor, receiving rejuvenation treatments composed of harvested fetuses. We must act before he becomes youthful and unstoppable, like Donald Trump.

  81. consciousness razor says

    Frederic Bourgault-Christie, #84:

    By your reasoning, no one should be concerned when a mugger points a gun at them, because the number of bullets being fired by that mugger at you is zero.

    I’ve said no such thing. That’s more like the reasoning of some here who don’t want me criticizing conservative Dems. People are hit, and I’m saying that’s a problem. The excuse given is that it’s not everybody or not the specific people they seem to care about … or maybe I don’t understand why, but for some reason, they’re a bit agitated when anyone brings up stuff like that. Typically, the subject quickly changes to Republicans or to voting itself.

    Whatever you want to call that, it’s not a serious attempt to address what these Dems have done, are doing, or will do. Where’s the concern? Should no one be concerned?

    So what makes you think any new ones will? What makes you so sure that they will that you are willing to say it is literally a 100% chance?

    I have no idea how you’re getting any of that from me.

    PaulBC, #86:

    The left may want to believe that Clinton’s loss was due to her status as an establishment Democrat, but this is more of neutral than a negative. Many Americans are prepared to vote for someone who accepts donations from Wall Street and counts Henry Kissinger as their mentor. The ones who aren’t will be hard to attract without putting other factors in play.
    Biden is just as establishment as Clinton, but he’s a man, eliminating misogyny as a factor, and there has not been a 25-year running billion dollar smear campaign against him.

    Again with this stuff, which I ignored in #58….. For one thing, I didn’t only hear it from the left that Clinton is a corporate type who was not very trustworthy. Far from it. Those are big problems for many voters. Maybe not you, but maybe most of us are not like you.

    Even conservatives who use such things very cynically/hypocritically know that if you give them an easy target, they can fire away at it. So that’s what they do. That can change the minds of some people, especially if it’s based on real facts which are well-known and well-documented. They wouldn’t bother to put themselves at risk of being criticized on similar grounds, and you and I wouldn’t complain about it whenever they do, if it were otherwise.

    You can add to that, saying there was also a “smear” campaign. (If I were using the word, that means it doesn’t consist of accurate and important information. But if they’re relevant facts that we ought to know about, that’s not a “smear” in my book.) However, it’s very unlikely that most of us don’t really care about those things, because it all just hinges on nothing more than a bunch of “smears.” So you’re not going to explain much voting behavior with that.

    Clinton did win the popular vote, as I remember pointing out several times just after 2016, when some were making it sound like she was the less popular candidate. Also, not campaigning heavily in some important swings states certainly didn’t help in the electoral college. If you’re interested in getting the history right, then that was also a factor.

  82. PaulBC says

    CR@91

    Also, not campaigning heavily in some important swings states certainly didn’t help in the electoral college. If you’re interested in getting the history right, then that was also a factor.

    This is completely true (and I’ve acknowledged it before). It also didn’t help for Chuck Schumer to explain as her campaign surrogate that they would “replace” disaffected working class voters with “suburban Republicans.” (And I’ll admit I missed that story from July 2016 until after the election, and I am furious at the Clinton campaign for crap like that. Beyond being bad politics, it’s an act of betrayal.)

    They still had a reasonable campaign strategy that was just exactly enough to win until Comey broke it. (Or you could look at campaign mistakes as the breaking factor. You could look at “Russian interference” and fake news on social networks as a breaking factor, though it’s not my big emphasis.)

    This is all kind of besides the point. I just haven’t seen pure leftwing candidates succeed well outside of specific regions. I could be completely off base here, but the way I see it, a large number of Americans work in a corporate world. They might be a little disgusted, but they don’t see it as evil. Why not take money from Wall Street? Give them a war like the first Gulf War (Bush Sr.) where body bags aren’t coming back here, and they are entirely capable of ignoring it or treating it as TV spectacle. We’re talking about human beings here, and we’re not that much different from Romans assembled for a gladiator fight.

    Does this disgust me? Sure. But if I were voting based on personal disgust I would probably not be showing up at all.

    (And look CR I am just venting and really don’t care how you vote or what you think about me.)

    I found life in the 1980s incredibly demoralizing because people around me actually liked Ronald Reagan. When I saw Democrats capable of winning, I got very interested in elections that did not look like Charlie Brown and the football. Bill Clinton is a pretty disgusting person, but I have to hand it to him that he was able to end a big losing streak. Barack Obama is better as a human being, but on balance I’m not sure what he accomplished (it looks very easy to undo).

    Biden is nearly the worst candidate I have had to vote to be president (though John Kerry is a close runner up; Dukakis was a lousy candidate, but he’s actually kind of a funny insightful person in interviews).

    Anyway, sorry, but I really want to end this particular nightmare that we caused with Trump’s election. That is the whole of what I’m getting at.

  83. Rob Grigjanis says

    cr @91:

    for some reason, they’re a bit agitated when anyone brings up stuff like that.

    The stuff you bring up (an appropriate term in this case) is already well known. What’s agitating is your clueless, whiny self-aggrandizement, all with no readily discernible point.

  84. consciousness razor says

    Does this disgust me? Sure. But if I were voting based on personal disgust I would probably not be showing up at all.

    The funny thing is that you still do believe most voters are genuine when they make their decisions based on some dishonest, brazen, personal smears that shouldn’t matter to anyone. But for mystery reasons, this doesn’t apply when they’re real substantive issues that by all accounts seem to be very unpopular. That’s when all these people become nihilists or liars or whatever. Why? Because.

    As I said: not likely. It’s convenient, if you don’t want to admit that “mistakes were made.” But it’s not likely. You could just be completely off base, as you said.

  85. consciousness razor says

    Yeah, people who think healthcare is a right are just clueless, whiny, self-aggrandizing, and have no point.

    Oh, but maybe that’s one of the cases when you knew they’ve got a point … so how dare we make you read it? Why force you to spend your time in such a miserable way? Or it’s just whining, etc. One or the other. With certain people, it’s hard to tell which way they’re going to land on the issue. Maybe there’s not much difference.

  86. PaulBC says

    @94

    The funny thing is that you still do believe most voters are genuine when they make their decisions based on some dishonest, brazen, personal smears that shouldn’t matter to anyone. But for mystery reasons, this doesn’t apply when they’re real substantive issues that by all accounts seem to be very unpopular. That’s when all these people become nihilists or liars or whatever. Why? Because.

    This is a valid question, and Matt Yglesias (Harvard smartypants and erstwhile Iraq war apologist) has an explanation I find compelling.

    I know that a lot of smart, competent people who are kind and friendly in their interpersonal behavior sincerely believe that depriving working and middle-class families of economic resources to reduce taxation on the rich is the right thing to do. … But most voters find these ideas so outlandishly bad that they’ll only believe someone espouses them if you can convince them first that the person in question is a heartless monster.

    Most Americans really don’t believe (as Mick Mulvaney among others has stated he does) that people who can’t afford to pay for healthcare should just shut up and die because they don’t deserve it. But it’s astonishingly difficult to convince them that they are voting for people who do believe that. So they vote for their tribe and overlook dissonant evidence that would suggest a member of their tribe is a heartless monster.

    But if you just want to accuse someone of accepting a bribe, rigging a vote, being stuck up, or an all around meanie. Sure, they’ll believe that. It’s only human. So I think that personal smears may very well be more effective than demonstrated evidence that some politician really will trade other people’s lives for personal gain. It’s a matter of believability.

  87. unclefrogy says

    I read this thread and the last half is just about impossible to get through. I would suggest that most of the people here want a very similar outcome long term, yes we all recognize I hope the history of how we got to here and the imperfection of all us human beings.
    So am having a hard time trying to figure out what this dispute is for.
    I do not jive a fig what any particular name a a self-organizing group of people call themselves. Names change all the time I do not think the long term goals change very much.
    The question what to do now. Which direction shall we push forward? If I can use an analogy, if this struggle is WWII we are not in 1944 some time in the winter but I would say more like winter 1942. There is a long way to go. This Biden and the group called the democrats seem to be trying to go in the desired direction we know where the other guy and his clack are headed.
    It is the goal that is important and leader is just the guy in front he can and will be replaced as needed.
    Steering a huge complicated country is not like ridding a BMX bike it turns slow. and needs a lot of help in close quarters
    I just want to add something about Ukraine which was mentioned above. They need a lot of help, they are under attack from all angles by the new Russian kingdom. The boss of bosses Putin just may get us all killed if not just crippled beyond resistance.
    uncle frogy

  88. littlejohn says

    Putting aside for a moment the hypocritical snarkiness of Giuliani calling anyone inebriated (Michael Cohen has said Giuliani is drunk at all times), the original story included the gem that the computer contained a photo of Hunter Biden “passed out” on cocaine. Cocaine is a stimulant. No one passes out on cocaine.
    The entire story isn’t merely irrelevant, it sounds entirely made up. The Post is a right-wing rag, and you’ll notice most other media outlets wouldn’t touch the story. I’m surprised the writer of this bit of fiction didn’t mention a photo of a half-eaten baby.

  89. PaulBC says

    unclefrogy@97

    I would suggest that most of the people here want a very similar outcome long term

    A disagreement isn’t necessarily just an agreement with misunderstanding, and who knows what anyone wants? I’m not a mind reader.

    I considered things as urgent in 2016 as they are now. I remain angry at the entire Sanders campaign for sweeping people up in the idea that it was a great time for positive change. We were right at a tipping point with Republicans in control of congress, an open SCOTUS seat, and the only significant healthcare improvement in years in serious jeopardy.

    It was a great time to “protect” (as my daughter’s softball coaches would call out sometimes) not swing for the fences.

    So am I saying they should have looked at whatever the Democratic party had done to “rig” the outcome, looked at the influence of big money, looked at the ongoing abuse of American military power, looked at the unlikelihood of a Clinton administration bringing any of Sanders’s reforms (and actually shutting out people connected to him), and just sucked it up and voted for Hillary Clinton?

    In short, yes. Because that’s what I did. That, in fact, is what a lot of people did. Enough to give Hillary Clinton nearly 3 million more votes overall. And the failure of enough people to do it specific states brought us to the predictable catastrophe we’re now living through. (And fine, it’s Clinton’s fault that her campaign did not campaign to the people who mattered, though actually there was a lot of presence in Pennsylvania.)

    Note “should” is a funny word. Yes, of course you should vote according to your own judgment. It’s a secret and personal ballot. So in this context it means something like: you had the right to do it, and I respect that, but you wrecked everything and it pisses me off.

    It doesn’t matter who’s to blame, and it doesn’t matter whether I “feel” angry. But my anger is most of the reason I write and rewrite most of the same things that have been bothering me for four years. I am pretty sure I’m not alone in this.

    The worst part is that Biden is not even a better choice than Hillary Clinton, but he will probably win this time (we’ll see) and for reasons that have nothing to do with his merit. The GOP has simply failed to whip up the hatred they did for Clinton. See https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/18/us/politics/biden-clinton.html

    And I get that Sanders supporters are also angry at what happened in 2016 for a different set of reasons. They’re allowed. I don’t care.

  90. garnetstar says

    littlejohn@99, you are so correct re no media outlet or journalist wanting to touch this transparent fiction.
    The author of the Post’s piece used to be a booker on Hannity’s show, and this is their very first news story ever published (their first “byline” ever). The Post had to get someone who isn’t even a journalist to write it, because even scummy journalists knew an obvious fabrication when they saw it.

  91. PaulBC says

    garnetstar@101 The Post shows up in the news feed on my phone for some reason. They ran a story that their “expose” had caused a drop in Biden’s polling numbers, but I don’t think I saw that anywhere but the New York Post. They clearly don’t plan to back down any time soon.

    It worries me more to see the rest of the press carry the story if only to refute it.

    I will say this: I was completely dismissive of Comey’s announcement in 2016, because it was obvious to me that the only emails they were going to find were duplicates of what they knew already and that would sort itself out fast. But clearly, it was just enough of a distraction and did hurt Hillary Clinton. So while I think this is lame as October surprises go, I am not ready to rule out its effect. I remain very nervous about everything running up to this election.

  92. KG says

    PaulBC@100,102

    You’re right not to be totally dismissive of the “drunk Hunter Biden’s laptop” garbage, but AFAIK, no effect has yet shown up in polls (Five ThirtyEight yesterday had Biden 10.5% up in their national poll aveage, while their model (based mainly on state polls) gave him an 87% chance of winning the electoral college (of course it doesn’t account for intimidation, refusing to count postal votes, and other forms of rank cheating). The Comey intervention in 2016 had a pronounced effect because it made an already prominent campaign issue (Clinton’s alleged nefariousness) more salient – and for that reason, his later “nothing significant” finding made little or no difference. People seldom change their minds on issues quickly: what changes is what issues they are thinking about. This time, the pandemic, the economy, policing/BLM/political violence, and Trump himself have all been far more prominent over the entire campaign than any dodgy dealings of Hunter Biden (who, as raven noted above, isn’t running), and one story is unlikely to change that. On all those prominent issues, even in recent weeks the economy, public opinion favours Biden. I’d say that, barring video of Biden eating a baby or raping someone, we pretty much know he would win a fair election, and very probably even one with the slanted electoral college system but no cheating. But we’re not going to get that.

  93. PaulBC says

    KG@104 I hope so, but the last time I let myself ridicule any backlash movement, it was “teabaggers” and we all know how that turned out. I agree (at least I think this is agreement) that the most likely way for Trump to “win” at this point is voter suppression or outright cheating. But it’s not time to let our guard down on anything.

  94. KG says

    If I can use an analogy, if this struggle is WWII we are not in 1944 some time in the winter but I would say more like winter 1942. – unclefrogy@97

    I wish I thought the position was anythnig like that good. After Pearl Harbor and the Nazi failure to take Moscow in December 1941, the war’s final outcome was hardly in doubt: the balance of forces was overwhelmingly in the Allies’ favour. Now, the proto-fascists are in charge in the USA, Russia, the UK, India, Brazil… and arguably, China. And we’re in the middle of a pandemic and with climate disruption advancing at speed.

  95. unclefrogy says

    KG
    my first draft had it 1936 but that sounded a little harsh to me so I backed it off
    my point is that to get to peace, justice and enlightened prosperity is going to take plenty of time. We are no way near those goals and there are very many very difficult problems that need to be addressed. No single election nor action anyone can do is going to change that no journey of 1000 steps and all that is reality.
    uncle frogy

  96. PaulBC says

    @108

    my point is that to get to peace, justice and enlightened prosperity is going to take plenty of time.

    Yup, and let’s hope it’s not too late.

    However (new analogy I just came up with today), I see “Decision 2020” as something like “Should we let the monsters keep scratching at the windows, or should we throw open the front door and invite them in?” If someone had posed this to me in 2016, I would not have viewed it much differently.

  97. garnetstar says

    PaulBC, I’m more worried about states that Biden wins voting in their own panel of hand-picked republican electors who will vote for Trump. And, states that Biden wins declaring that their election was not free and fair, due to all the fraudulent mail-in ballots, so they send no electors and no one can get 270 in the electoral college, which would throw the election to the House. Every state gets one vote, and republicans have a majority in 26 states, just enough to elect Trump. Or, our charming new SCOTUS justice, and the rest of the bought-and-paid-for ones, deciding in a modern version of Bush v. Gore that all this is legal and Trump wins.

    And, of course, good old voter suppression, some of it violent.

    So, I don’t think that smears intended to lose Biden the popular vote is the biggest problem.

  98. unclefrogy says

    @110
    it would be interesting to speculate what the result would be if those things actually occurred. I think there would be some rather large demonstrations as well as many very smart lawyers being very busy to say the least.
    uncle frogy

  99. logicalcat says

    @80 PaulBC

    I’m not discounting the many fucked up things we’ve done as a nation. My problem is the rampant dishonesty of the left. That’s the catalyst on why I write.

    To use a comparison, its like anti-vaxxers. Anti-vaxxers have a legit grievance. Big pharma is bullshit and corrupt, but instead of focusing on the very real problems they focus on vaccines which is an noncontroversial good. That’s whats happening here with the anti-establishmentarian left. Biden is fine. So far I haven’t seen any actual evidence of evil sociopathic tendencies that the left love to pair him with. Every single example is either devoid of evidence, an out right lie, or dishonestly omitting or deliberate misinterpretation of his career decision. With such a long career its not even hard to find one. How about the time he bragged about gutting social security? Thats one. But instead what we get is bullshit, like how he voted for Iraq even though he didn’t do so with intention to kill Iraqis. The link I provided earlier is pretty clear as well as his actions after “shock and awe” commenced that he did not want an all out war and he believed in the intelligence agency he has relied on in the past to operate. But let leftists tell the story and it turns into “Biden supports endless wars because he doesn’t care about dead brown people and neither do you if you support him and you’ve never been in the receiving end of a drone attack”. Dishonest bullshit. And there’s plenty of examples other than Iraq. Like how everyone forgot that Hillary was the first victim of Citizens United and focus on her curting Wall Street because news flash everyone thinks you need money to win (and they are not wrong).

    As I’m sure you known the left has a history of being right wing propagandists without knowing it (and some deliberately knowing it for accelerationist purposes). If they want to continue to criticism Biden, a foolish act where a lot is hanging in the balance against Trump, then at least be honest about it. At least do that. I honestly still think Trump will win. I hope I’m wrong and most likely am, but assuming Clinton was going to win and Trump was going to lose was another factor in 2016 if you remember.

    I want leftists who tend to put themselves on a moral high ground, to earn that shit. I want them to have some humility and self reflection and strategic thinking. Leftists put themselves as above establishment democrats, but 1) they’ve never been in the position on even make a bad decision so its easy to criticize others and pretend you’re better, 2) realize that leftism in this country is failing because the rest of us see how dishonest they are and don’t want to bother, 3) realize that sometimes compromising is necessary to accomplish your goals in the long term, and 4) stop lieing. There’s more. The left needs criticism is my entire point.

  100. logicalcat says

    Also while I’m on this rant, stop pretending that the electoral college is a bad thing. If the situation was reversed and the flyover states were left wing and the coastal areas were right wing we would lvoe the electoral college and see right wingers desire to abolish it as tyranny.

  101. PaulBC says

    logicalcat@113 No pretending. The electoral college is bad. That doesn’t mean a direct popular vote is the best alternative, but the electoral college itself just carries a lot of historical baggage, and the winner-take-all for most states results is as effective in disenfranchising a minority as a popular vote would be. There are probably hundreds of thousands of liberals in Mississippi and millions of conservatives in California, neither of whom will get a real voice in the presidential election. So what would work? Nothing would work perfectly, but something would work better. Some other partitioning scheme, ranked choice voting? I don’t know. I do know that what we now have is broken.

    And while we’re at it, the Senate is broken, and lifetime judicial appointments don’t strike me as a brilliant idea. How about fix term? Is it really that hard to find a qualified SCOTUS justice?

    Finally, I will vote for Biden and was always prepared to. But honestly I think the 1988 plagiarism charges ought to be disqualifying in themselves. I guess that was just another era. I don’t think he’s a “bad” person, and I imagine he would seem congenial enough in person. His performance against Paul Ryan in 2012 debates was great too. He would have been close to my last choice. I do know that Trump needs to be removed from the White House for the continued survival of our nation (though it’ll be on something like life support for a long time to come).

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