Comments

  1. says

    Here’s a link to the November 23 Guardian (support the Guardian if you can!) coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    A coronavirus vaccine developed in the UK has been hailed as a “vaccine for the world” by one of the experts behind it.

    AstraZeneca and Oxford University reported that their vaccine was up to 90% effective in preventing the virus, with plans for 700m doses to be ready globally by the end of March next year.

    The vaccine’s supply chain and a “no-profit pledge” by the two partners means that if approved, the jab will be affordable and available globally, according to developers at the pharmaceutical company.

    But while the data was welcomed worldwide, charities urged collaboration between vaccine developers to ensure international demand is met, PA Media reports.

    Global charitable foundation Wellcome warned that at least 2bn doses wold be required to vaccinate high-risk populations around the world over the next year.

    Responding to the results, Prof Andrew Pollard, the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said Monday was “a very exciting day”.

    “We have a vaccine for the world, because we’ve got a vaccine which is highly effective – it prevents severe disease and hospitalisation,” he said.

    Speaking to reporters during a Science Media Centre briefing, Prof Pollard said the vaccine could be stored at fridge temperature.

    Compared with the -70C to -80C needed for the Pfizer and Moderna jabs, the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine can be transported and distributed more easily, and will be easier to store in lower-income countries. [I believe this is incorrect – the Moderna vaccine needs to be stored at -20C. – SC]

    Pascal Soriot, the chief executive of AstraZeneca, said it marked an “important milestone” in the fight against the pandemic.

    “This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against Covid-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency,” he told the briefing.

    “Furthermore, the vaccine’s simple supply chain and our no-profit pledge and commitment to broad, equitable and timely access means it will be affordable and globally available, supplying hundreds of millions of doses on approval.”

  2. says

    SC talked about “sanctioned madness” in comment 500 in the previous chapter of this thread.

    I’m going to steal that phrase. It is so apt, especially in states where the elected leaders are making the coronavirus pandemic worse by sanctioning the madness of a minority of deluded citizens.

  3. says

    To protect Confederates’ names, Trump eyes veto of military funding

    It’d be oddly perfect for Trump to end his term by rejecting military funding because he’s determined to honor those who took up arms against Americans. [Steve Benen wrote]

    From NBC News:

    […] Trump is threatening to veto legislation to fund the military as one of his final acts in office unless a widely supported, bipartisan provision to rename military bases honoring Confederate military leaders is removed, according to White House, defense and congressional sources. Since the Nov. 3 election, Trump has privately told Republican lawmakers that he won’t back down from his position during the campaign that he would veto the annual National Defense Authorization Act if it includes an amendment to rename the bases.

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    In June, U.S. Army leaders opened the door to renaming military bases after Americans instead of Confederates who took up arms against Americans. Soon after, Trump tried to slam that door shut, insisting he would “not even consider” renaming military bases that honor Confederate leaders. ([Trump] added that naming the bases after Confederates reflects “a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom” — suggesting he may not understand the Civil War as well he as probably should.)

    Congress, however, didn’t take Trump’s position especially seriously. Indeed, lawmakers ignored the president’s position and added a provision to a massive defense spending bill known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would rename military bases named after Confederate leaders. It was a rare display of bipartisanship: the House passed its version, 295 to 195, while the Senate passed its version, 86 to 14.

    Though the House and Senate bills were slightly different, both included a provision to rename the relevant military bases. Also, both bills passed with veto-proof majorities, even after Trump formally vowed to reject military funding if the NDAA included this change.

    A White House statement went so far as to argue, “President Trump has been clear in his opposition to politically motivated attempts like this to rewrite history and to displace the enduring legacy of the American Revolution with a new left-wing cultural revolution.”

    What do the names of Confederate leaders have to do with “the enduring legacy of the American Revolution”? Why would the president’s team describe a bipartisan idea that enjoys U.S. military support as evidence of “a new left-wing cultural revolution”? I still have no idea.

    […] So what happens now? In theory, the House and Senate can finish work on a compromise NDAA, pass it, override Trump’s veto, and end the drama. But in practice, NBC News’ report added that “some Republicans are now shifting their positions to align with Trump,” and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) may not even bring a vetoed bill to the floor for reconsideration.

    If the matter isn’t resolved, lawmakers would have to start over in January, delaying, among other things, a pay raise for U.S. troops.

  4. says

    Trump Lawyer Tries To Toss Out His Own Vote In Wisconsin Recount

    Jim Troupis, one of the Trump campaign lawyers seeking to throw out tens of thousands of 2020 ballots in the 2020 election vote recount in two deeply blue Wisconsin counties, unveiled a head-scratching gambit on Sunday.

    As he was explaining to Wisconsin’s Dane County Board of Canvassers why in-person absentee ballots ought to be deemed illegal and thus invalidated, Troupis presented a list of those who had voted with those ballots-and then admitted he himself was one of the voters who had done so.

    “I’m sure I’m on that list,” he said, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

    The Journal Sentinel also reported that Troupis’ wife had voted the same way. […]

  5. says

    Trump is facing calls from business leaders to concede.

    […] Trump is facing increasing pressure from corporate America to finally concede to President-elect Joe Biden after the sitting president’s ill-fated attempts to legally challenge the legitimacy of the election process have fizzled.

    Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, a close confidant of Trump throughout his presidential term, told Axios in a statement on Monday that Biden won the presidential election and it’s time to move on.

    “I’m a fan of good process,” Schwarzman, who initially defended Trump’s right to legal action, said, according to Axios. “In my comments three days after the election, I was trying to be a voice of reason and express why it’s in the national interest to have all Americans believe the election is being resolved correctly. But the outcome is very certain today, and the country should move on.” […]

    “Like many in the business community, I am ready to help President-elect Biden and his team as they confront the significant challenges of rebuilding our post-COVID economy,” Schwarzman said, according to Axios.

    Schwarzman is not the only corporate exec to finally step forward to declare that Trump’s presidency is coming to a close.

    More than 100 chief executives are expected to ask the Trump administration on Monday to immediately acknowledge that Biden is President-elect and demand that Biden’s formal transition begin, according to the New York Times.

    The Times reported on Monday that business leaders will send a letter to General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy urging her to sign a letter of ascertainment affirming Biden and VP-elect Kamala Harris’ election victory. […]

    “Every day that an orderly presidential transition process is delayed, our democracy grows weaker in the eyes of our own citizens and the nation’s stature on the global stage is diminished,” the executives wrote in a draft of the letter, which was obtained by the Times. “Withholding resources and vital information from an incoming administration puts the public and economic health and security of America at risk.”

    According to the Times, business leaders who plan to sign the letter include George H. Walker, the chief executive of the money manager Neuberger Berman and a second cousin to President George W. Bush, and Jon Gray, president of the private-equity firm Blackstone. […]

    The Times also reported that some executives weighed withholding campaign donations from both Republican Georgia Senate candidates, Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA), in an effort to demand that the senators push for a presidential transition. […]

    Link

  6. says

    Will Trump’s Accusers Finally Get Their Day In Court?

    He soon will be unable to hide from the women suing him for defamation.

    […] E. Jean Carroll declared that Trump had raped her in a department store dressing room in late 1995 or early 1996. Carroll, a veteran advice columnist at Elle magazine and one of at least 26 women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct since the 1970s, claimed that Trump had subsequently smeared her when he denied he knew her, accused her of fabricating her story to sell books, and insulted her appearance in statements to reporters. She was now suing him for defamation, demanding a retraction and damages. “Nobody in this nation is above the law,” her complaint began. “Nobody is entitled to conceal acts of sexual assault behind a wall of defamatory falsehoods and deflections.”

    But before her claims could be heard in a New York state court, Trump needed to be served. First, the process server made his way through a Secret Service checkpoint. Then he spoke to the concierge, who called upstairs to a legal office before refusing to accept the documents. The server tried to leave the sheaf of papers and head back toward the lobby’s golden doors, but Secret Service officers stopped him, ordered him to take the papers, and kicked him out. One officer said they had instructions to keep process servers from leaving documents with the concierge, according to an affidavit. Three subsequent attempts to serve papers at Trump Tower and one at the White House ended similarly.

    For nearly four years, Trump has wielded the office of the presidency as a shield against lawsuits from women who have accused him of sexually assaulting them before his election. “It started the moment the lawsuit was filed,” Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, says in an email. Trump claimed presidential immunity in state court, argued that he couldn’t be sued in New York because of his temporary residence in the White House, and had the Department of Justice intervene on his behalf.

    Now that he’s lost his office to President-elect Joe Biden, Trump is facing the prospect of finally having to deal with both Carroll’s claim and a similar defamation lawsuit filed in New York by former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos. Legal experts say that both women’s cases could proceed quickly once Trump returns to civilian life. And that means the soon-to-be-former president could imminently face the question of either settling their claims or going to trial over the truth of their allegations. […]

    Much more at the link.

  7. says

    https://twitter.com/carlbernstein/status/1330710304519405569

    Wow. Carl Bernstein names names:

    I’m not violating any pledge of journalistic confidentially in reporting this: 21 Republican Sens–in convos w/ colleagues, staff members, lobbyists, W. House aides–have repeatedly expressed extreme contempt for Trump & his fitness to be POTUS.

    The 21 GOP Senators who have privately expressed their disdain for Trump are: Portman, Alexander, Sasse, Blunt, Collins, Murkowski, Cornyn, Thune, Romney, Braun, Young, Tim Scott, Rick Scott, Rubio, Grassley, Burr, Toomey, McSally, Moran, Roberts, Shelby.

    With few exceptions, their craven public silence has helped enable Trump’s most grievous conduct—including undermining and discrediting the US the electoral system.

  8. says

    Follow-up to comment 11.

    From Wonkette:

    […] Okay, so Rob Portman, Lamar Alexander, Ben Sasse, Roy Blunt […], Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, John Cornyn, John Thune, Mitt Romney, Somebody Named Braun Is in the Senate?, Same With Somebody Named Young?, Oh They Are Both From Indiana? Okay, Tim Scott, Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, Chuck Grassley, Richard Burr, Pat Toomey, Martha McSally Who Doesn’t Even Go Here Anymore, Jerry Moran, Pat Roberts, and Richard Shelby Who Is Apparently From Alabama all think the president of the United States is not fit to be the president of the United States but can’t seem to get the words out of their mouths.

    My goodness, it must be hard to be a United States senator […] mostly men from every state including for some reason Indiana and both Dakotas empowered by The People to represent their interests and needs in our nation’s capital but can’t say shit when their mouths are stuffed with it.

    “Moron Idiot over here is endangering the country, and killing all our most faithful Republicans and lunatic street preachers, and we can’t even disagree with him about ‘don’t lick strangers’ maskless faces’ because he might do a tweet […]” is just a hell of a message from very proud men and women but mostly men.

    Link

  9. KG says

    What do the names of Confederate leaders have to do with “the enduring legacy of the American Revolution”? – Steve Benen quoted by Lynna, OM@4

    Well, if by “the enduring legacy of the American Revolution,” Trump’s spox means institutionalised racism, I guess they have a point!

  10. says

    About Chuck Todd, as seen through the eyes of Wonkette:

    […] it’s an irrefutable fact that Chuck Todd brings the same level of charisma and intelligence that Tucker Carlson used to when he was wearing a bowtie […]

    “Chuck Todd is so bad he wakes Tim Russert to trend from the grave.”

    So what did Todd do this time? Let’s start with giving time to the senator of the second Worst Dakota, Kevin Cramer of South Dakota. […]

    After checking audio issues, Todd read Sen. Pat Toomey’s statement basically saying it’s over and Republicans need to accept that Joe Biden is the president-elect and will be inaugurated next January. Cramer made it clear that despite this reality, he was gonna spend his time saying outright bullshit while Todd stood there not pushing back like a drunk crossing guard:

    CRAMER: Chuck, first of all, again, thanks for the opportunity to be with you, and no, I do not, although I think it’s very likely. But that said, I think we — again, I don’t know why we’re so easily offended by a president that’s carrying out all of his legal options in court, not enhancing or encouraging any riots or burnings of buildings or beating up of Democrats coming out of Democratic meetings or events.

    This isn’t carrying out legal options, Kevin. This is filing frivolous lawsuit after frivolous lawsuit (a Trump specialty) as he runs the clock down in the hopes his installed Supreme Court can steal it for him. There may not be “riots or burnings” (so far) but we are losing precious time for coordinating the transition in the middle of a pandemic while he incites his MAGA cult/21st Century Confederacy to send death threats to Republicans who won’t break democracy while the cult chants about how they will “rise again.”

    CRAMER: It’s just a simple, legal process and really there have not been a lot of evidentiary hearings that have involved the Trump case. There have been other hearings. And I noticed that you used a number that was rather large of cases that have been thrown out or dismissed, but when it comes down to actually looking at evidence, there have not been many, if any, and maybe the Pennsylvania one was the first one.

    The reason there is no evidence presented is because THERE IS NO EVIDENCE! Their smoking guns have turned out to be Rudy’s dripping hair dye and the “biblical” rapture of batshit lawyer Sidney Powell. Every time they’ve publicly alleged fraud or that they have proof of it, they have provided neither to the courts. Law Twitter is having quite a laugh watching them smash into legal walls while their sycophants make up fantasy scenarios. […]

    CRAMER: So, I think everyone ought to calm down a little bit. I don’t see this as an attack on our democracy. I mean, we spent four years listening to news shows and liberals discrediting, trying to discredit the Trump administration to the point of spying on him by the last administration. Forty million dollars spent on an independent counsel that started with no evidence and ended proving that there was no evidence. And then, of course, this crazy impeachment. So, I think — I think what we’re experiencing now, everyone ought to just relax and let it play out in the legal way. We’ll be just fine.

    Okay, here is this fucking bullshit again. Let’s handle each discredited lie here one at a time:

    No one “spied” on Trump’s campaign. His idiots were caught talking to Russians while the government was surveilling the Russians. It’s like you claiming the FBI “tapped” your phone because you called a Mob boss and got caught on tape discussing a hit.

    Most of the expense from Mueller’s investigation was recovered from judgments against Manafort and other Trump mooks.

    The impeachment was Trump trying to extort Ukraine to get “dirt” on Joe Biden to try to win the election (how’d that work out for him, btw…).

    Cramer, while implying that all this is not damaging democracy, inadvertently told a fact but not quite like he meant.

    CRAMER: Well, there was a lot of damage done in the last four years.

    Now there is an understatement of the clusterfuck that has been the Trump occupation. Cramer then told us not to worry about a coup because the military has control of vaccine distribution:

    CRAMER: I think that Vice President Biden has been a bit overdramatic as it relates to Operation Warp Speed and the distribution of the, of the vaccines and things. I mean, none of those things are a secret. The military is in charge of Operation Warp Speed. The military is still going to be there after the election. […]

    https://www.wonkette.com/meet-the-putz-with-chuck-todd

    I wish Wonkette writer Michael Mora could have replaced Chuck Todd in that interview, and that Mora could have replied to Cramer’s bullshit on live TV.

  11. says

    More Biden picks:

    Homeland Security Secretary – Alejandro Mayorkas
    DNI – Avril Haines
    Presidential Envoy on Climate – John Kerry (this doesn’t have to be confirmed by the Senate)

  12. says

    KG @14, good point.

    In other news, Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis (whom we have discussed before) also said this stupid stuff: “You media morons are all laughing at @RudyGiuliani, but he appears to have already established a great rapport with the judge, who is currently offering recommendations on martini bars for Team Trump in open court.”

    From Wonkette:

    […] Indeed, we were all laughing at Roodle Doodle, because his appearance in court on Tuesday was inexpressibly, cringingly terrible. Which is why Judge Brann dropkicked it and dismissed the case with prejudice on Saturday night. […]

    The Trump campaign has already appealed to the Third Circuit, and you will be shocked, shocked to learn that the latest filing is also a piece of crap. But to understand just how gobsmackingly shite this appeal is requires a brief lesson in federal civil procedure. […]

    In federal court, the plaintiff is entitled to amend her complaint once, but after that, she needs the court’s blessing for further revisions. In this case, the original complaint alleged a whole bunch of gobbledygook about Trump’s poll watchers being excluded from the vote count in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. (They weren’t excluded.) But when the Third Circuit ruled that candidates lack standing to sue the state to enforce election law, the campaign’s competent (but evil) local counsel “used up” that mulligan on a revision complying with the Third Circuit ruling — that is, she took out the stuff about the poll watchers.

    After which Giuliani pitched a fit, then marched into court and demanded to file a new brief putting back all the gobbledygook, seemingly unaware that he’d need the judge to sign his permission slip. In fact, he continued to behave as if all the nonsense from the first brief was still part of the official complaint, attempting to introduce photos of the canvass into evidence during Tuesday’s hearing on the motion to dismiss. Which the court indulged, because shouting, “OMG, you can’t introduce evidence now, you great, farting turnip!” is just rude.

    So Judge Brann saved it for his order dismissing the case, in which he denied Rudy’s motion to amend the complaint, ruled that the Trump campaign lacked standing, and held that even if the plaintiffs had standing, they failed to state a claim for which there is a legal remedy.

    “It is not in the power of this Court to violate the Constitution,” he wrote.

    After which there was great rejoicing in Trumpland. “Today’s decision turns out to help us in our strategy to get expeditiously to the U.S. Supreme Court,” the campaign blarped. That’s like saying a chill compartment in the hospital morgue is part of your strategy to get closer to God, but sure, you bet.

    On Sunday night, the campaign filed its appeal to the Third Circuit in which it asked not for a re-hearing in the Supreme Court’s waiting room, but to be sent back down for another shot at Judge Brann.

    […] In plain English, they didn’t appeal the denial of standing or the ruling that they failed to state a legally cognizable claim. All they want is for the appellate court to tell Judge Brann to let them amend their complaint again. Which is cool and all, except that it (a) won’t get them to the Supreme Court, (b) tacitly concedes that they lack standing and so will lose even if they get to amend again, (c) won’t stop counties from certifying the results today, and (d) is highly unlikely to happen, since the appeals court would have to find that the trial judge had abused his discretion, and Judge Brann laid out multiple reasons for his denial in the order.

    But other than that, A-PLUS LAWYERIN’!

    Meanwhile, all was not well back at the Trump campaign. Rudy’s leaky head stole the show at Thursday’s presser, overshadowing Sidney Powell’s batshit nattering about Venezuela and stolen votes. But no one puts Sidney in a corner, so Saturday she gave an interview to Newsmax in which she accused Georgia’s Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of getting paid off to use Dominion voting machines to steal the election for Joe Biden and Kelly Loeffler. (Yes, Kelly Loeffler, because obviously Doug Collins actually won.) […]

    Link

    See also: https://twitter.com/bennyjohnson/status/1330339378892247043 That’s Sidney Powell displaying her full-on batshit bonkers mode on Newsmax. Scary.

  13. says

    From the Washington Post fact checking team:

    […] During Giuliani’s news conference on Thursday, he made claims about overvotes, which he said signaled many people voted twice.

    “The overvote was so high, monstrously high in about two-thirds of the precincts in the city of Detroit, which means, magically, two and three times the number of registered voters turned out to vote,” he declared. “In fact, we have precincts in which two times the number of people who live there, including children, voted. That’s absurd.”

    But the next day, Power Line, a conservative website, pointed out something very odd about the affidavit that made this claim. […]

    Under a blog post titled “Do Trump’s lawyers know what they are doing?” Power Line pointed out that the precincts that were listed in the affidavit were from Minnesota, not Michigan.

    Someone had apparently mixed up two states that started with “Mi.” The precincts were not in Wayne County but in some of the reddest parts of Minnesota — Trump country.

    That’s a pretty big error — one that the lawyer who filed the affidavit, L. Lin Wood, acknowledged in an email to PolitiFact. “We are imperfect,” he said.

    Our colleague Aaron Blake further dug into the data and found that even in those Minnesota precincts, the data in the affidavit was off. Minnesota has same-day registration and very high turnout rates. Blake determined that the number of voters matched the number of votes cast. He speculated that the affidavit might have been relying upon incomplete “estimated voters” data from the Minnesota secretary of state in the days after the election.

    Okay, that’s a second big error.

    Finally, the affidavit has a quote from a Princeton University professor raising concerns about a particular type of Dominion voting machine, suggesting this was what was used in Wayne County. But Blake confirmed that the counties in Minnesota in question did not use Dominion machines. And Andrew Appel, the Princeton professor, wrote that Michigan also does not use the machine he warned about — and, in fact, uses paper ballots. […]

    So that’s the third big error.

    And yet here is Giuliani, two days later, still touting the same bogus information, even after these embarrassing facts came to light. He did not respond to a request for comment (though he indicated with a “like” that he had received our text message).

    […] Four Pinocchios.

    Link

  14. says

    Kasie Hunt:

    DAM BREAKING? ⁦@senrobportman weighs in

    Portman: No proof of mass fraud that would change election result

    “On or before Dec. 8, any ongoing efforts to ensure an accurate count must be concluded and the 2020 election brought to a close. In the meantime, the GSA should go ahead and release the funds and provide the infrastructure for an official transition.”

    “I voted for President Trump, was a co-chair of his campaign in Ohio…But I also believe that there is no more sacred constitutional process in our great democracy than the orderly transfer of power after a presidential election…”

    “… It is now time to expeditiously resolve any outstanding questions and move forward.”

  15. says

    Bits and pieces of campaign news, from Steve Benen:

    * After a recount in Georgia failed to deliver the results Donald Trump wanted to see, the president’s campaign said over the weekend that it’s planning to pursue a third count of the state’s ballots.

    * Speaking of recounts, the Associated Press reported that the process in Wisconsin isn’t going smoothly: “Election officials in Wisconsin’s largest county accused observers for President Donald Trump on Saturday of seeking to obstruct a recount of the presidential results, in some instances by objecting to every ballot tabulators pulled to count.”

    * Though her test results have pointed in competing directions, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) is currently in quarantine after one of the tests produced a positive result.

    * Speaking of Georgia, the Senate Leadership Fund and American Crossroads said on Friday they’re prepared to blitz the state with $70 million in advertising in advance of the Jan. 5 Senate runoff elections.

    * Jennifer Carnahan, the chair of Minnesota’s Republican Party, claimed to be aware of “extreme abnormalities and statistical variations from Minnesota’s historic voter trends” in the 2020 election. Minnesota Public Radio scrutinized her claims and found them to be “off-base, vague or flat-out wrong.”

    […]

    * And in Utah, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said late last week, “I’m not terribly popular with my party in the state of Utah. But that consequence is nowhere near as great as the consequence of violating your own conscience.”

  16. says

    ‘ICE must be held accountable’: Watchdog launches investigation into abuse against Black immigrants

    A government watchdog has requested Immigration and Customs Enforcement turn over internal documents dating back to 2017, following allegations in a civil rights complaint that taxpayer-funded agents and private prison guards at CoreCivic’s Adams County Correctional Center camp in Mississippi tortured Black immigrants to coerce them into deportation. ICE subsequently attempted to deport some of those men.

    “Obtaining these documents would shed light on these detainees’ experiences at ACCC and ICE’s responsibility in these grave human rights violations,” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said, seeking years-worth of documents under the Freedom of Information Act for evidence of other similar abuse by officials. “ICE must be held accountable for their failure to protect detained asylum seekers from enduring patterns of coercion and physical abuse.”

    The civil rights complaint, filed by groups led by Freedom for Immigrants, described “coercive tactics, including threats of violence and direct physical abuse to obtain submission, forced taking of fingerprints while individuals are in restraint, and the use of pepper spray against those who decline to sign their deportation papers.” One man was reportedly left with several broken fingers. […]

  17. says

    From HUD director Ben Carson:

    Thank you everyone for your support and prayers as Candy and I battled COVID-19. I was extremely sick and initially took Oleander 4X with dramatic improvement. However, I have several co-morbidities and after a brief period when I only experienced minor discomfort, the symptoms accelerated and I became desperately ill. President Trump was following my condition and cleared me for the monoclonal antibody therapy that he had previously received, which I am convinced saved my life.

    Commentary:

    […] As epidemiologist Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding tweeted, “He survived after using monoclonal antibody drugs—*before* it was FDA approved. So much privilege—250k Americans weren’t so lucky.”

    Estimates on what this treatment would have cost any of the 250,000 Americans who have died after contracting the virus range from well above $100,000 to about $650,000, in our current system. Whether or not this combination of drugs helped save Carson’s life is not entirely proven. Carson was able to receive the treatment well before the FDA approved it, on Saturday—the day after Carson’s Facebook post.

    The drug, according to the Washington Post, made by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, is the second monoclonal antibody therapy cleared for treating COVID-19. It works by imitating an immune response from the patient’s body. In cases where the patient’s body is not creating an adequate immune response, this drug can help mitigate how severe someone’s illness becomes.

    Research has suggested that what works for some people will not work for others. However, the very real public health problem here is that our country cannot provide even a few hundred people with these treatments every day, let alone thousands every day. Part of that is our country’s medical infrastructure and the costs of producing the drug itself. […]

    Link

  18. says

    “Biden presidency brings hope for the Kurds”:

    …Political soothsayers will of course be closely looking at Biden’s track record as an indication of how his policies may take shape. And for the Kurds in particular, this will make hugely encouraging reading. Indeed, Biden may well be the most pro-Kurdish president to take office yet.

    Over the course of his career, both as a senator on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and vice president, the president-elect has consistently demonstrated a deep understanding of, and sympathy for, the Kurdish people.

    Biden’s concerns for the Kurds go back to the Gulf War, a military endeavour he was opposed to and during which he highlighted his concern for the fate of the Kurdish community. Throughout the later Iraq War in 2003, which he supported, he was again vocal in his concern for the Kurds, arguing they had suffered more than anyone at the hands of Saddam Hussein. In 2002, while visiting Iraqi Kurdistan, he famously declared that “the mountains are not your only friends”.

    Biden’s actions have matched his words. As vice president, and one of the Obama administration’s senior figures overseeing policy in Iraq, he visited Iraq no less than 24 times, forging a particularly strong relationship with the late president Jalal Talabani and former president Masoud Barzani.

    Short of supporting Kurdish independence, Biden has been as vocal a proponent of the Kurdish people as the constraints of US diplomacy will allow. Indeed Biden’s support for the Kurds of Syria in recent years has been so resolute that the Erdogan-sympathetic Turkish press have branded him an “enemy of Turkey”.

    In contrast, Donald Trump’s administration has shown at best disregard and at worst disdain for the Kurdish movement. In 2016, he said he was a “big fan” of Kurdish forces but was already at that stage looking to reap the political fruits of a close relationship with Turkey, Kurdistan’s modern-day regional nemesis. Former national security adviser John Bolton wrote in his book that Trump was already declaring his dislike for the Kurds in 2017.

    The great betrayal came two years later, when Trump authorised a US withdrawal from northern Syria that left regional Kurdish forces at the mercy of a Turkish offensive. His justification? That the Kurds “didn’t help us with Normandy”.

    During the Trump administration, we lived in a cycle of Machiavellian post-truth politics, in which facts became superseded by falsity and traditional loyalties were brushed aside without hesitation. Biden, on the other hand, has proven himself a genuine and resilient ally of the Kurdish people – having extended a hand of friendship not out of political opportunity, but out of principal.

    The Kurdish people pride themselves on the values of democracy and pluralism, and with these values again instilled in the White House, we look forward to a positive new chapter in US-Kurdish relations and a strengthened Kurdish identity and influence across the region.

  19. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Loren Culp lost Washington’s gubernatorial race by more than 545,000 votes, but he’s not conceding — and says he’s not going away. Culp, the Republican who took 43% of the statewide vote against Gov. Jay Inslee, has taken a page from […] Donald Trump’s playbook by attempting to sow doubts about the election results and lobbing unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

    Quoted text above is from the Seattle Times.

  20. says

    Trump loses an ally in a court fight over environmental standards:

    […] General Motors will no longer be siding with the Trump administration in a legal battle to hinder California’s ability to set tougher vehicle emissions standards.

    In a letter to environmental groups involved in the same suit, General Motors said they have withdrawn from the litigation, citing the incoming Biden administration as well as their own plans to electrify their suite of vehicles.

    “We believe the ambitious electrification goals of the President-elect, California, and General Motors are aligned to address climate change by drastically reducing automobile emissions. We are confident that the Biden administration, California, and the U.S. auto industry, which supports 10.3 million jobs, can collaboratively find the pathway that will deliver an all-electric future,” General Motors wrote in the letter.

    “To better foster the necessary dialogue, we are immediately withdrawing from the preemption litigation and inviting other automakers to join us.”

    […] The suit – one of just many resulting from the Trump administration’s actions rolling back fuel efficiency standards– come shortly after […] Trump revoked a waiver that for decades allowed California to craft tougher emissions standards that were in turn adopted by more than a dozen other states.

    The fallout between the Trump administration and California has left automakers in a confusing position.

    The Trump administration followed through on their pledge to roll back Obama-era emissions standards in March, asking automakers to craft fleets reaching about 40 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2026, bringing mileage below what automakers have said is possible for them to achieve.

    Five automakers have since signed agreements with California committing to reach mileage closer to the 55 mpg by 2025 required under Obama. […]

    Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), who has been critical of the dueling goals created by the California waiver system, encouraged Toyota and Fiat Chrysler to also leave the litigation. […]

    Link

  21. says

    Biden has chosen Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary.

    Biden also chose the first Latino, (Alejandro Mayorkas) to head the Department of Homeland Security; and he chose the first woman to be directory of national intelligence, (Avril Haines).

    […] Haines previously held top national security positions in the Obama administration. She served as deputy director of the CIA in 2013, the first woman to hold the position, and later served as Obama’s principal deputy national security adviser. From 2007 to 2008, she was deputy chief counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where Biden was chair. If confirmed, Haines will be the highest-ranking woman to serve in the intelligence community. […]

    Link

  22. says

    Follow-up to comment 29.

    As Biden’s team takes shape, radical normalcy returns

    Among the most striking takeaways from Biden’s incoming foreign policy team: they’re all normal, qualified officials with expertise.

    President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team made its first cabinet-level announcements today, with an emphasis on foreign policy, diplomacy, intelligence, and national security. His statement read in part:

    “These individuals are equally as experienced and crisis-tested as they are innovative and imaginative. […]”

    While Senate confirmation remains an open question, one of the things that immediately jumps out when reviewing Biden’s list is just how dramatically different the incoming team will be from Donald Trump’s foreign policy operation.

    Secretary of State: Biden will nominate Antony Blinken, a former Deputy Secretary of State, a former deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama, a former National Security Council staffer under President Clinton, and a former staff director for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Trump’s first choice for Secretary of State was Rex Tillerson, an oil executive with no experience in U.S. foreign policy.

    Homeland Security Secretary: Biden will nominate Alejandro Mayorkas, a former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the former director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and a former federal prosecutor.

    United Nations Ambassador: Biden will nominate former Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a 35-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service. Trump’s first choice for United Nations Ambassador was Nikki Haley, who had no experience in U.S. foreign policy.

    Special Presidential Envoy for Climate: Biden will appoint former Secretary of State John Kerry, who’ll serve on the National Security Council. Under Team Trump, the climate crisis has been ignored.

    Director of National Intelligence: Biden will nominate Avril Haines, a former Deputy Director of the CIA and Deputy National Security Advisor. She’ll replace John Ratcliffe, who was literally unqualified for the position before Senate Republicans confirmed him anyway.

    White House National Security Advisor: Biden will appoint Jake Sullivan, a State Department veteran and Biden’s National Security Advisor during his vice presidency. Trump’s first White House National Security Advisor was an agent for a foreign government, who ended up facing felony charges after lying to the FBI about his interactions with Russia.

    […] After the last four years, we’ve grown accustomed to bizarre presidential choices for key roles — members of the president’s family, assorted figures Trump saw on Fox News, people with no substantive background in the areas in which they were expected to serve — and Biden’s new list is a reminder of how the executive branch is supposed to work in a functioning administration that values competence.

    This is not to say that Biden’s choices are perfect or undeserving of scrutiny. Blinken’s corporate work, for example, will raise questions that deserve answers.

    But if we were drawing up an abstract list of the kinds of folks to fill these roles, we’d expect to see nominees and appointees just like these.

    Is this clearing a low bar? Sure, but it’s a bar that the outgoing White House never really bothered to acknowledge the last four years.

  23. says

    Yeah, I wonder why Trump’s job approval rating has slipped. No I don’t. It hasn’t slipped enough.

    Trump’s approval rating has dipped 3 points since the Nov. 3 election, according to a new Gallup poll.

    […]Thirty-nine percent of independents approved of the president in the new survey, compared to 41 percent prior to the election. His 3 percent approval rating among Democrats was unchanged. […]

    Link

  24. says

    Larry Sabato:

    Michigan has certified Biden as the winner of its 16 EVs. All paths to ‘victory’ are blocked for President Sore Loser. Hey @GSAEmily, DO YOUR JOB AND CERTIFY THE TRANSITION to #PresidentElectJoeBiden. Or do you want to be a permanent villain for all time?

  25. says

    Elizabeth Warren:

    Janet Yellen would be an outstanding choice for Treasury Secretary. She is smart, tough, and principled. As one of the most successful Fed Chairs ever, she has stood up to Wall Street banks, including holding Wells Fargo accountable for cheating working families.

    For the past four years, Secretary Mnuchin has catered to the wealthy and well-connected, while struggling families and small businesses were left behind. I’d look forward to working with Secretary Yellen to strengthen our economy, tackle inequality, and protect consumers.

  26. says

    ABC – “Secret Service members asked about protecting soon-to-be-former president Trump full time in Florida: Sources”:

    As states begin to certify election results that seal a victory for President-elect Joe Biden, even though Donald Trump hasn’t conceded there is one clear sign his post-presidency life is taking shape: Secret Service agents in the president’s detail are being asked whether they’re interested in transferring to Palm Beach, Florida, sources have told ABC News.

    The Secret Service’s Miami field office also has begun looking at physical reinforcements to Mar-a-Largo… These moves are considered unofficial as Trump has yet to concede to Biden.

    Renovations to living quarters expected to be occupied by Trump and first lady Melania Trump are underway, ahead of when they’ll be living there full time after the Jan. 20 inauguration, sources familiar with the planning told ABC News.

    Sources have described the renovations as “updates” to living quarters, in part because the residence has been used only on a temporary basis. The Mar-a-Lago club also had been opened only seasonally, and it remains unclear how a permanent residency by Donald and Melania Trump could change that….

    I’m guessing Melania won’t be there for very long (I suppose it’s detailed in whatever agreement she negotiated).

  27. says

    From Neal Katyal:

    Joining @TheBeatWithAri right now to discuss the biggest loser American courts have ever, ever seen.

    Also from Neal:

    If @GSAEmily does not permit transition to happen now, in the wake of the Michigan certification, she should face civil and perhaps even criminal sanctions. She is willfully violating her most sacred duties and no system can tolerate that.

  28. johnson catman says

    re SC @39: Regarding the threats that Murphy has received, I would be interested to know the ratio of people threatening her for starting the transition process as opposed to people threatening her for not starting the transition process. I would speculate that the former would be a higher percentage.

  29. says

    Murphy claimed that the decision was her own, that she was not pressured by anyone.

    Trump promptly tweeted that he was his decision, that he had instructed her.

    Other backstage news: Trump’s White House sent legal counsel to advise Murphy earlier.

  30. johnson catman says

    re SC @42: What is the betting line on the over/under time period after January 20 that Melania seeks a divorce?

  31. says

    OMG: “This romantic moonlit scene in RUDY: THE RUDY GIULIANI STORY absolutely murdered me. I am dead.”

    johnson catman @ #43, hmmm. It really is hard to say! What do you think? One thing I wonder about: It’s still the middle of the school year. Are they going to pull their kid out of his school and move him down to Florida?

  32. johnson catman says

    SC @45: I am not so sure that Melania would want to move to Florida. I think she would be more inclined to move back to New York, but that is total speculation. I do think that she has probably had enough of his BS and will be ready to scram. I would say six months would be a good starting point for the betting. I also think that she is an awful person, she just masks it better than her husband.

  33. johnson catman says

    re SC @45: The Rudy story!!!!! OMFG!!! What a load of horse crap!!!!! That is a REAL movie! Made for TV, but still a real thing.

  34. says

    Here’s a link to the November 24 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    South Korean delivery workers say the coronavirus boom has cast them into what they call a “legal blind spot”. They have told Reuters that it’s a deadly place to be as the coronavirus drives an unprecedented boom in online business.

    Labour activists say they have compiled accounts from relatives of 14 people whose deaths this year they attribute to a system that means workers have to put in unreasonably long hours to make ends meet.

    Labour minister Lee Jae-kap said this month delivery workers were paying the price for the explosive growth of the business and he promised help.

    Parcel shipments surged 23% from February to October this year, compared with the same period last year, as the pandemic hit, according to government data.

    But most of South Korea’s 54,000 delivery workers are hired under subcontracts that deny them the safeguards and benefits regular employees get.

    Workers and union officials say legal loopholes leave them exposed to pressure to put in unsustainable hours – conditions, they say, that have contributed to deaths. There are 2.2 such workers, equivalent to 8% of the workforce, according to government data.

    Following a public outcry over the recent deaths, the big logistics firms apologised for causing public concern and offered condolences to families of those who died. They also promised to ease the workload.

    A spokesman for Hanjin said it would introduce annual check-ups for couriers and extra sorting staff from this month.

    CJ announced a similar plan for health checks and more workers, a spokesman said.

  35. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The developers of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine have claimed it has 95% efficacy and will cost less than $10 a dose internationally.

    They also said the two-dose vaccine can be stored at between 2C-8C, instead of the temperatures below freezing required for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

    The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine can also be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures.

    Previous announcements from the Russian team have prompted warnings from scientists internationally that they were being made prematurely without adequate data.

    The latest calculations of the vaccine’s effectiveness were based on preliminary data obtained 42 days after the first dose, Russia’s health ministry, the state-run Gamaleya research centre and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said in a statement reported by AFP.

    The statement said that 22,000 volunteers had been vaccinated with the first dose and more than 19,000 with both doses.

    It added that the vaccine had shown 91.4% efficacy 28 days after the first dose, a figure based on 39 cases.Forty-two days later, after a second dose, data showed “an efficacy of the vaccine above 95%”.

    The statement did not note the number of coronavirus cases used to make the final calculation, however.

    The Sputnik V vaccine has not been universally trusted. EU leaders recently warned Hungary against importing the vaccine until it was authorised by the European Medicines Agency.

    Svetlana Zavidova, the executive director at Russia’s association of clinical trials organisations, said of a previous set of promising results that the Gamaleya Insititute may have “looked at Pfizer’s results and just added 2%”.

  36. says

    AP – “White House still planning holiday parties, despite warnings”:

    Public health officials are sounding alarms and urging Americans not to travel and limit gatherings this holiday season amid a new surge in coronavirus cases.

    But that isn’t stopping the White House from planning a host of festivities, including holiday parties, which kicked off Monday with the arrival of the White House Christmas tree.

    “Attending the parties will be a very personal choice,” said Stephanie Grisham, First Lady Melania Trump’s spokeswoman and chief of staff. “It is a longstanding tradition for people to visit and enjoy the cheer and iconic décor of the annual White House Christmas celebrations.”

    The decision to move forward with indoor events and other gatherings comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, top White House advisers and public health professionals across the nation have been pleading with Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving or spend the holiday with people from outside of their households.

    As the weather has cooled, the virus has been spreading out of control, with cases and hospitalizations surging across the nation and more than 250,000 people dead.

    The White House has already been the site of several suspected “super-spreader” events and dozens of staff — along with the president, the first lady and their son — have been infected, along with a long list of campaign aides and other advisers.

    U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Monday repeatedly evaded questions about indoor holiday parties scheduled at the White House while calling other Americans’ indoor gatherings potential “super-spreader” events….

  37. says

    PA Gov. Tom Wolf:

    Today @PAStateDept certified the results of the November 3 election in Pennsylvania for president and vice president of the United States.

    As required by federal law, I’ve signed the Certificate of Ascertainment for the slate of electors for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

    Again, I want to thank the election officials who have administered a fair and free election during an incredibly challenging time in our commonwealth and country’s history.

    Our election workers have been under constant attack and they have performed admirably and honorably.

  38. tomh says

    Fifth Circuit Rules Texas Can Exclude Planned Parenthood From Medicaid Program
    November 23, 2020 DANIEL CONRAD

    CN) — The Fifth Circuit Monday ruled against Planned Parenthood it its suit over Texas’ efforts to deprive the family planning and health services provider of Medicaid funds.

    Planned Parenthood is not entitled to bring a civil rights claim to challenge Texas’ determination that its providers are not “qualified” under Medicaid law, the majority of an en banc panel of the Fifth Circuit decided in a ruling authored by Chief U.S. Circuit Judge Priscilla Owen, a George W. Bush appointee.
    […]

    Planned Parenthood characterized the ruling as “a blatantly political attack that will jeopardize critical health care access for Texans with low incomes during a global pandemic.”

    “…once again, political ideology is driving health care policy, resulting in reduced access to care,” Planned Parenthood South Texas President and CEO Jefrey Hons said in a statement Monday…
    […]

    In a press release Monday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton touted the appellate ruling as a decision to “Defund Planned Parenthood.”

  39. says

    So nice to see that Pennsylvania certified its election results today. Those 20 electoral votes were always going to the Biden/Harris ticket, but now it is doubly certain.

    Meanwhile, Jenna Ellis, a member of Donald Trump’s campaign legal team, told Ari Melber, “The election was stolen and President Trump won by a landslide.” She was serious. I wonder how much Trump is paying her to say that. During the interview, she tried several times to talk over Ari Melber as she spewed a torrent of lies similar to those being told by Rudi Giuliani.

  40. says

    All is not well.

    As President-elect Joe Biden’s transition process formally begins, there will probably be a temptation in some circles to say, “All’s well that ends well.” Those voices will no doubt acknowledge Donald Trump’s autocratic efforts, but they’ll add with relief that in the end, “The system worked.”

    Let’s nip this line of thinking in the bud.

    The sitting American president sought a second term while actively trying to undermine public confidence in his own country’s electoral system. He also broke new ground by refusing to commit to a peaceful transition of power in the event of his defeat.

    After Election Day, Trump proceeded to pretend that he’d won an election that he’d lost. The more reality told the incumbent what he didn’t want to hear, the more ferocious the president’s attacks against his democracy became — up to and including calls for nullifying election results he didn’t like.

    Trump filed ridiculous lawsuits […] He raised the specter of state legislatures overturning election results and appointing their own slate of electors in defiance of public will, even bringing some state lawmakers to the White House for in-person lobbying.

    He celebrated state and local election officials who resisted their vote-certification processes. He fired the head of the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency because he dared to tell the public the truth about the integrity of the election results. He lied uncontrollably. He sought the disenfranchisement of many Americans, especially in communities of color.

    An American president, in other words, sought to overturn an election he lost. It was, as NBC News’ First Read team recently put it, “arguably the biggest political scandal we’ve ever seen in this country.” […]

    Some will look at the current landscape and stress the fact that cooler heads prevailed. […]

    It’s alarmingly easy to imagine a different conversation unfolding right now, following a radical court ruling or two, or perhaps a handful of state and local election officials deciding they’d prefer to invalidate election results they don’t like.

    That this didn’t happen obviously matters, but the idea that it could happen, and the sitting president of the United States wanted it to happen, is emblematic of a systemic threat that will linger. […]

    Link

  41. says

    On Biden’s to-do list: repairing much of the executive branch

    Once in the White House, Biden and his team will have to rescue and restore the CDC. And the Pentagon. And the intelligence community. And the DOJ. And…

    “It was nine months ago tomorrow when Nancy Messonnier, the head of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, delivered a striking warning about the coronavirus.

    “It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” Messonnier said during a media briefing. She added, “We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad.”

    Almost immediately, Wall Street reacted badly, and Donald Trump’s White House decided Messonnier was a voice that needed to be sidelined.

    Nine months later, Politico reports that President-elect Joe Biden intends to restore trust in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in part by putting scientists back in charge. […]

    This is clearly a worthwhile goal […]

    But reading about the efforts, it was hard not to think about all of the other areas of the executive branch the incoming White House team will also try to restore.

    The Washington Post recently reported, for example, that Biden and his team are “seeking to restore stability” at the Pentagon. The same day, the New York Times reported on the challenges associated with trying to “overhaul the Department of Homeland Security, which has been bent to President Trump’s will over the past four years.”

    […] “The Justice Department can’t take four more years of President Donald Trump.” […]

    The week before that, The Atlantic reported on the need to rescue what’s become of the State Department. The piece, written by someone who’s worked at the State Department for nearly four decades, said the damage done to the agency during the Trump era “may be generational.”

    And the week before that, Politico reported that Trump’s term has left the U.S. intelligence community “bruised and battered.” The article added that Biden’s team recognized “what a heavy lift it will be to restore morale inside the agencies, legitimacy on Capitol Hill and public trust in the intelligence community’s leadership.”

    It’s quite a to-do list for the incoming administration, isn’t it.

  42. says

    Ted Cruz haunted by ridiculous coronavirus prediction

    Cruz effectively saw state and local Democratic officials as engaging in a sociopathic election-season scam. He was tragically, spectacularly wrong.

    Quoting Ted Cruz:

    “If it ends up that Biden wins in November — I hope he doesn’t, I don’t think he will — but if he does, I guarantee you the week after the election, suddenly all those Democratic governors, all those Democratic mayors, will say, ‘Everything’s magically better. Go back to work. Go back to school. Suddenly all the problems are solved.’ You won’t to have to wait for Biden to be sworn in. All they’ll need is Election Day and suddenly their willingness to just destroy people’s lives and livelihoods, they will have accomplished their task. That’s wrong. It’s cynical. And we shouldn’t be a part of it.”

    Commentary:

    […] To be sure, [Ted Cruz] wasn’t alone in making comments like these. Indeed, Donald Trump spent much of the summer and fall pushing an identical line, confident in his belief that state and local officials were only pretending to care about limiting the spread of a deadly virus.

    […] Cruz, however, went further than most. As far as the GOP senator was concerned in July, Democrats were not simply pretending to care about the spread of COVID-19, they also were “willing” to “destroy people’s lives and livelihoods” in order to make Trump look bad.

    Or put another way, Cruz effectively saw Democratic officials at the state and local level as engaging in a sociopathic election-season scam, which would all be revealed the moment Joe Biden became the president-elect.

    The Texan “guaranteed” it.

    We’ll probably never know much real-world harm the senator did with rhetoric like this. It’s impossible to say how many Americans heard such talk, assumed he was right, believed the coronavirus pandemic was more of a political scheme than public-health threat, and failed to take necessary precautions in their daily lives.

    But as we’re seeing across the country right now, in the midst of a brutal third peak, as Joe Biden prepares to assume the presidency, Ted Cruz was tragically, spectacularly wrong.

    By all appearances, it’s unrealistic to think the senator will express any regrets for slandering public officials and peddling such odious garbage during a crisis. If, however, he’s still capable of shame, now would be an excellent time for some.

  43. says

    About the transition to Joe Biden’s administration finally getting underway … it’s not all good news:

    […] as encouraging as it is to see the gears of the transition machine finally start to turn, the good news is not without caveats.

    Right off the bat, Emily Murphy’s letter was problematic. She did not address it to the president-elect; she did not use the word “ascertainment”; and she included complaints about alleged mistreatment for reasons that weren’t altogether clear.

    SC mentioned this upthread, and how tired we all are of the whining and complaining.

    Complicating matters, the GSA administrator claimed in writing that she arrived at yesterday’s decision “independently.” That was soon after contradicted by Donald Trump himself, who said in a tweet, “I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done.”

    Yeah, Emily Murphy did not act “independently.” If she had, she would have ascertained the apparent winner of the election on November 7. She is a Trump toady. She even had members of the White House legal team in her office, like devils on her shoulders talking into both ears.

    […] while the formal start of the transition process seems to signal a new milestone in the process, the outgoing president is still embracing the fantasy that his fight to hold onto power has merit and must continue. Indeed, his tweet about the GSA added, “Our case STRONGLY continues, we will keep up the good fight, and I believe we will prevail!”

    Hours later, echoing nonsensical and discredited conspiracy theories, Trump added, “What does GSA being allowed to preliminarily work with the Dems have to do with continuing to pursue our various cases on what will go down as the most corrupt election in American political history? We are moving full speed ahead. Will never concede to fake ballots & ‘Dominion.'”

    Or put another way, Biden’s transition process can finally begin, but Trump hasn’t conceded — and it’s entirely possible he never will.

    A senior Trump campaign adviser told the Washington Post last night, in reference to the outgoing president, “He basically just conceded. That’s as close to a concession as you will probably get.” Another told Politico, “You’ll have stuff like this that’s very close, but you’ll never be an outright confirmation of the results or acknowledgment of a loss.”

    Link

  44. says

    Marco Rubio tweeted:

    Biden’s cabinet picks went to Ivy League schools,have strong resumes,attend all the right conferences & will be polite & orderly caretakers of America’s decline

    I support American greatness

    And I have no interest in returning to the “normal” that left us dependent on China

    Rubio was taken to task.

    From Aaron Rupar:

    wait, so having a good education, resume, and not being a total jerk is a bad thing now?

    From Igor Bobic:

    Pompeo – Harvard
    Mnuchin – Yale
    Barr – Columbia
    Ross – Yale
    Azar – Yale
    Carson – Yale

    From David Frum:

    You know what made America great? Sending taxpayer-paid staff in taxpayer-paid vehicles to Ritz Carltons to buy speciality moisturizers for you. […]

    From Jason O. Gilbert:

    YES. I want a Cabinet who attends the WRONG conferences. A Secretary of State who goes to a trade show for speedboats. An Attorney General who shows up at a Scrabble tournament.

    From comments posted by readers of the TPM article:

    By almost any measure China is in a stronger position vis-a-vis the U.S. than it was when Trump took office. The “trade war” has been a total failure and our abdication of leadership in the world has left a huge vacuum for China to fill. Plus we can no longer take the high road on democracy or human rights, after Trump has repeatedly trashed and badmouthed both.
    ————————
    All I could think of was colleague Ted Cruz, who stood out as the biggest asshole in his cohort at Harvard Law.
    ———————-
    Senator Rubio needs to take a marketing class. I thought he was branding himself as one of the ‘sane, sensible Republicans’, but now he seems to be positioning himself as some version of Sarah Palin
    ———————–
    Oh c’mon…they are fed the crap and regurgitate it without checking…‘America’s decline’? Oh yeah…I remember 2008 and the last 4 years…where the only thing that is ‘up’ is the stock market…which is ‘owned’ by the ‘elites’. Next time you decide not to run Marco…stick with it.

  45. says

    It’s quite a contrast. I’m watching Joe Biden announce his cabinet picks. Biden is providing a short resume for each pick, and it is obvious that they are all highly qualified. In contrast, Trump just put a conservative gun advocate, a guy who spreads falsehoods about the 2020 election, in a post at the Justice Department.

    […] John Lott, author of the book “More Guns, Less Crime,” has spent years advocating for widespread gun ownership and against firearms restrictions. He’s now a senior adviser for research and statistics at the DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs, a grant-writing office that doles out billions of dollars per year.

    It’s not clear whether the position is a political appointment, which President-elect Joe Biden could replace, or a civil service position with protections beyond January.

    Lott is also a vocal supporter of Donald Trump, Politico noted. He falsely claimed on Facebook earlier this month that there had been “Massive vote fraud in Pennsylvania,” and has kept up his pro-Trump commentary on social media despite reportedly leaving his former job for the DOJ last month.

    “NPR is pretty much Pravda at this point,” he said of the outlet’s coverage of the “March for Trump” event held in D.C. earlier this month. Lott added, falsely, that “a million plus people” had been present for the event.

    […] Lott’s Facebook page now says he is “Senior Advisor for Research and Statistics” at the Justice Department.

    Lott came to the DOJ from the the Crime Prevention Research Center, a pro-gun group he founded in 2013. Politico noted the group’s board includes Trumpy media personalities like former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and the Trump-supporting musician and NRA board member Ted Nugent.

    OMG. Lott has connections to Sheriff David Clarke and Ted Nugent. All the best people.

    […] Lott’s commentary has at times strayed from the gun debate to voter fraud alarmism.

    In 2017, for example, he was a witness at a meeting of […] Trump’s so-called “elections integrity” commission, a few months after falsely asserting there had been “massive” vote fraud with absentee ballots in the North Carolina gubernatorial election. At the panel, Lott trolled Democrats by pitching a background check system for voting. […]

    Link

  46. says

    Follow-up to SC @60.

    From Aaron Rupar:

    LOL what was this? There’s something bizarre about Trump trying to sell himself to voters when he was just rejected by them.

  47. says

    Ohio rocked by ‘exponential’ explosion of COVID hospitalizations

    The number of coronavirus hospitalizations has increased nearly 60 percent from just two weeks ago.

    “The high volume of these numbers is overwhelming the system,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said during a news briefing Monday.

    Richard Lofgren, president and CEO of the University of Cincinnati HC Health system, warned the hospital system is nearing the point where the influx of coronavirus patients will “displace non-COVID care.”

    Cleveland Clinic Chief of Medical Operations Robert Wyllie said the hospital is short nearly 1,000 health care workers because they are either infected with COVID-19 or are under quarantine, increasing the probability that elective procedures will have to be postponed.

    […] More than 4,300 people are currently hospitalized across the state with COVID-19 symptoms, including 1,079 patients in the intensive care unit and 573 on ventilators, according to The Covid Tracking Project.

    The number of coronavirus hospitalizations has increased nearly 60 percent from just two weeks ago.

    […] “We are responding to the surge, but as the surge increases, we’ll need to make more decisions about how we triage and how we take care of patients appropriately,” DeWine said.

    […] Over the past two weeks, the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases across the state has increased from more than 4,400 to more than 7,600, according to The COVID Tracking Project.

    On Monday, 11,885 new cases were reported, an additional 282 Ohioans were hospitalized and 24 died.

    Ohio has reported more than 363,000 cases and more than 6,000 deaths over the course of the pandemic.

    The situation in Ohio comes as the U.S. is experiencing an unprecedented surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The U.S. is reporting an average of more than 167,000 new cases every day and 1,515 deaths. More than 85,000 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, the most since the pandemic began.

  48. says

    From Wonkette: “Emily Murphy To Let Joe Biden Have His Precious Transition If You’re All Going To Be SO MEAN ABOUT IT”

    Can someone get General Services Administrator Emily Murphy a pacifier? And a blanket, and a bottle, and her favorite teddy, and maybe a pudding cup if she promises to stop whining so the country can get some work done?

    Yesterday, the government official whose IRL job is to greenlight transition planning finally allowed the process to begin. A mere two weeks after Biden’s victory became a mathematical certainty, and just shy of three weeks since the election itself, she’s acceded to objective reality […] And she did it in a breathtakingly self-indulgent letter in which she praised her own integrity while complaining mightily about having to do her damn job.

    Just look at this shit!

    I have dedicated much of my adult life to public service, and I have always strived to do what is right. Please know that I came to my decision independently, based on the law and available facts. I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official—including those who work at the White House or GSA—with regard to the substance or timing of my decision. To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination. I did, however, receive threats online, by phone, and by mail directed at my safety, my family, my staff, and even my pets in an effort to coerce me into making this determination prematurely. Even in the face of thousands of threats, I always remained committed to upholding the law.

    […] the entire world can see on Twitter where Trump admits that he quit blocking the transition and “in the best interest of our Country, I am recommending that Emily and her team do what needs to be done with regard to initial protocols.”

    […] while we’re very sorry that Ms. Murphy was threatened, and people should not do that, it has nothing to do with her obligation to hand over the $7 million and government access to which President-elect Biden is legally entitled.

    The letter begins with a baldly self-serving misstatement: “As the Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration, I have the ability under the Presidential Transition Act of 1963, as amended, to make certain post-election resources and services available to assist in the event of a presidential transition.” In fact, Ms. Murphy has an affirmative duty, not just an “ability” — that’s why the enabling law says “shall” not “can, if she feels like it […]

    “I strongly believe that the statute requires that the GSA Administrator ascertain, not impose, the apparent president-elect,” she wrote, in a protracted explanation for her unprecedented delay […] in “ascertaining” the results of an election which have been apparent for weeks now to everyone capable of third grade arithmetic.

    GSA does not dictate the outcome of legal disputes and recounts, nor does it determine whether such proceedings are reasonable or justified. These are issues that the Constitution, federal laws, and state laws leave to the election certification process and decisions by courts of competent jurisdiction. I do not think that an agency charged with improving federal procurement and property management should place itself above the constitutionally-based election process. I strongly urge Congress to consider amendments to the Act.

    Which is a long way of saying that she, like every other hack in Trumpland, has rejected the evidence of her eyes and ears in favor of a cult leader who insists that “what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.” […]

    Here’s how the Washington Post described poor Emily Murphy’s dilemma:

    But Murphy wanted more certainty before triggering the transfer of power, those close to her said, even as her resistance was upending hundreds of years of peaceful handovers. […] Battleground states would certify the vote and Trump’s legal fight would play out, she told colleagues.

    Then there was the president’s anger, and the risk that he would fire her and her top aides if she moved forward. […]

    Then threats came in as furious Trump critics demanded that she release the money. The GSA had to provide her with a security detail. Democrats on Capitol Hill were summoning Murphy to brief them and threatening to haul her to a public hearing.

    Oh, noes! Should she acknowledge objective reality and risk being fired from a position she’ll be out of in two months anyway? Are we supposed to feel sorry for Murphy — a former Hill staffer! — for having to face Katie Porter and explain why she’s unwilling to do her damn job? Oh never mind: She refused to show up to face Katie Porter anyway.

    The Post fails to point out in this article that Murphy has had no trouble fudging her testimony before Congress before. She’s the one who dummied up the math to make it seem like moving the FBI building outside DC to a location where it could be secured wouldn’t work, a feat accomplished by omitting the anticipated revenue from selling the property. Of course selling the property would likely result in a competing hotel being erected across the street from Trump’s DC Emoluments Palace, and we can’t have that. […]

    So, yeah, slow clap for Emily Murphy, who finally put on her big girl pants and agreed to do her job. We knew you could do it! Probably time for a nap now […]

    Link

  49. says

    The demise of the Open Skies Treaty part of an unfortunate pattern

    “As he abandons another international agreement, we’re reminded that Trump isn’t a builder […]”

    After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States and its partners forged an international agreement called the Open Skies Treaty. […] in the interest of peace and stability, participants to the treaty — most notably, the United States and Russia — had the authority to conduct unarmed surveillance flights over each other’s countries.

    The transparency mattered, not just in terms of arms capabilities, but also with regard to military activities and troop movements. Nevertheless, to Moscow’s delight, Donald Trump announced in May that he intended to withdraw from the international agreement.

    Yesterday, as Rachel explained on last night’s show, the outgoing Republican president made it official. The Wall Street Journal reported:

    The Trump administration formally shut the door on the Open Skies treaty Sunday, exiting the agreement while moving to get rid of the U.S. Air Force planes that have been used to carry out the nearly three-decade-old accord.

    Before anyone assumes that President-elect Joe Biden will simply try to re-enter the international agreement, it’s worth emphasizing why that won’t be an option: the Trump administration, the WSJ article added, is “taking steps to dispose of the two specially equipped OC-135B planes the U.S. has used to carry out Open Skies flights.”

    One official explained, “We’ve started liquidating the equipment.”

    […] one of the most striking aspects of the outgoing president’s foreign policy legacy — I’m using the word loosely — is the frequency with which he’s abandoned international agreements, many of which served the United States’ vital interests, some of which enjoyed bipartisan support for many years.

    Trump also, for example, withdrew last year from a nuclear arms control treaty with Russia called the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty. The INF treaty was largely uncontroversial for decades […]

    He took a similar approach to the international nuclear agreement with Iran. And the Paris climate accord. And the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which he’d vowed to renegotiate, and then promptly forgot about.

    Trump has also abandoned the World Health Organization. And the United Nations Human Rights Council. And the United National Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

    Most modern American presidents point to forged international partnerships as evidence of global leadership; Trump points to his abandonment of international agreements as evidence of his disinterest in global leadership.

    Some voters probably thought having a former real-estate developer in the Oval Office would mean having a president who’s good at building things. […]

    It looks like Trump abandoned the Open Skies Treaty as a gift to Putin. I wonder if Trump thought that no one would notice that he is also destroying the planes, without providing a replacement.

  50. says

    WTF?!

    Gang of young Marines and ex-porn star moved to Idaho to create Nazi ‘death squad,’ plot attacks

    Three Marine Corps veterans and their porn-star neo-Nazi guru were arrested last month on charges that they engaged in an interstate gun-running scheme, comprised of a band of violent fascists who had recently moved to Idaho with the intent of making it a base of operations for their plans to engage in acts of domestic terrorism, federal prosecutors revealed this week.

    […] the men’s schemes went well beyond those with which they have been charged—namely, buying semiautomatic rifles, altering them into automatics, then shipping them from Idaho to North Carolina. The foursome not only engaged in paramilitary training in the Idaho desert, they surveilled two separate Black Lives Matters marches in Boise this summer and discussed killing participants. They also plotted to assassinate BLM founder Alicia Garza.

    Three of the four men—Justin Hermanson, 21, who used the code name “Sandman”; Liam Collins, 21, aka “Disciple”; and Jordan Duncan, 25, aka “Soldier”—had met while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. The fourth—Paul Kryscuk, 35, whose nom de plume was “Deacon”—was a porn star (under the stage name “Pauly Harker”) who had lived most of his life on Long Island, New York. He met the other men online in the now-defunct neo-Nazi message board Iron March, and was the group’s general leader, though all they identified as members of the terrorist organization Atomwaffen Division.

    Back in 2017, when Iron March was still active, the men had discussed among themselves how to create “a modern day SS,” as one of them put it, referencing the Nazi paramilitary organization Schutzstaffel, the indictment says. Kryscuk outlined the group’s long-range plan then:

    “First order of business is knocking down The System, mounting it and smashing it’s face until it has been beaten past the point of death … eventually we will have to bring the rifles out and go to work.”

    “Second order of business … is the seizing of territory and the Balkanization of North America. Buying property in remote areas that are already predominantly white and right leaning, networking with locals, training, farming, and stockpiling.”

    “Start buying property now in the types of regions mentioned above and get to work on building your own group. …As time goes on in this conflict, we will expand our territories and slowly take back the land that is rightfully ours. … As we build our forces and our numbers, we will move into the urban areas and clear them out. This will be a ground war very reminiscent of Iraq as we will essentially be facing an insurgent force made up of criminals and gang members.”

    Kryscuk bought a home in the Boise area in February 2020 and moved there, and Duncan and Collins gradually followed suit. Hermanson—who was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and remains an active member of the Marine Corps—joined them in July for a training exercise in the Idaho desert. The participants compiled a video of the live footage from that training, showing Kryscuk and another person firing a variety of rifles. At the end, the four men—all outfitted in Atomwaffen masks—are seen giving the Nazi salute beneath a Sonnenrad, an occult Nazi symbol. The final frame reads: “Come home white man.”

    Prosecutors say the purpose of the gun-running scheme was “to regularly and repetitively manufacture and transport firearms and firearm parts, to include suppressors, in a manner that the government would not know the recipients had them, for criminal purposes”—namely “in furtherance of a civil disorder.”

    […] Kryscuk and Duncan just last month discussed in a text chat how things would go down after their group—which they called “the BSN” (a prosecutors office spokesman declined to explain the meaning of the acronym)—attacked BLM marchers as they envisioned:

    “How the BSNs finna be pulling up to chipotle after hitting legs,” Duncan asked.

    “Death squad,” Kryscuk answered, adding: “Assassins creed hoodies and suppressed 22 pistols.”

    “People freaking tf out,” Duncan replied.

    “About what,” Kryscuk asked.

    “‘The end of democracy’,” Duncan wrote.

    “One can hope,” Kryscuk answered.

    Trump is partially responsible for promoting white supremacist fanatics like this group.

  51. says

    Trump loses 5 more post-election challenges, just in Pennsylvania

    As Michigan was certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s win in that state, and the General Services Administration’s Emily Murphy was finally bowing to the inevitable and allowing the transition to begin, Trump was getting his ass handed to him in court in Pennsylvania. Again.

    The Pennsylvania Supreme Court wiped out five cases in one decision, including reversing a previous minor Trump win. The suits were attempting to invalidate 8,329 ballots in total over technicalities and the three-justice majority deciding the cases were having none of it. They wrote that “no allegations of fraud or illegality” was discovered in the canvassing of the ballots. Trump was trying to get entire blocs of ballots tossed on the “one bad apple” theory, which was rejected. “Failures to include a handwritten name, address or date in the voter declaration on the back of the outer envelope, while constituting technical violations of the Election Code, do not warrant the wholesale disenfranchisement of thousands of Pennsylvania voters,” Justice Christine L. Donohue wrote for the majority.

    And Pennsylvania has gone ahead and certified without the final four counties being done, given the outcome was inevitable.

    While he was losing there, his “elite strike force team” of very bad lawyers and conspiracy theorists was trying to appeal a federal case to the U.S. Third Circuit with a filing that one appellate lawyer said “ascended the Mount Rushmore of banana-pants.” […] the team was 19 minutes late in filing. It really goes downhill from there, including the fact that they’re asking the appeals court to do things an appeals court doesn’t do—like grant temporary restraining orders. It’s just a mess, but the ultimate intent is to somehow get the appeals court to prevent the certification of Pennsylvania’s vote—throw out all of the 6.8 million Pennsylvania votes so that the Republican legislature can pick Trump electors.

    […] The electoral college meets and makes the election official on Dec. 14. […]

    Out of 43 post-election cases in six states, there are now 11 active and Trump has lost 35 times.

  52. says

    Erik Wemple, WaPo:

    There’s notice of a settlement in the suit of Joel and Mary Rich against Fox News et al. for infliction of emotional distress over the network’s retracted promotion of the Seth Rich conspiracy theory.

    Here’s a statement from Fox News on the matter: “We are pleased with the resolution of the claims and hope this enables Mr. and Mrs. Rich to find a small degree of peace and solace moving forward.”

    The Daily Beast’s @willsommer reported this fall that Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs were scheduled to give depositions in the case. I’ve asked Fox News whether those proceeded.

    But let’s be clear about all this: Fox News’s propagation of this conspiracy theory was one of the most heinous acts in media of the 21st Century. The fact that they fought the Riches in court for more than two years is an outrage of comparable magnitude.

    I’ve long been interested in what happened to the reporter on that Seth Rich story — Malia Zimmerman, who remained employed at Fox News but apparently stopped doing stories:… Fox News says she’s no longer with the network.

  53. says

    Day Trump Repeatedly Emails His Supporters a Dangerous Message: Democracy Doesn’t Work

    “Be outraged, don’t accept the election results…and send money.”

    I’ve heard from Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Lara Trump. I’ve heard from Rudy Giuliani, Ronna McDaniel, and Newt Gingrich. And I’ve heard from Donald Trump. Over and over again. The 2020 election was stolen from Trump. The left-wing mob, the Democrats, the fake news media—they successfully plotted together to pull off the greatest political heist of all time. Trump really won. But fake ballots were counted. Real ballots were trashed. American democracy was undone. The people have been robbed of their rightful president.

    Yes, this is what I am told every day—multiple times—by Trump, his family, and his lieutenants. I am on several rightwing email lists, including various Trump campaign lists, and for the past three weeks, each day I have received a steady stream of emails signed by Trump or one of his minions. These missives all request money for Trump’s so-called “Election Defense Fund” […] and they are obvious acts of grift. […] These emails are merely the latest iteration of Trump’s campaign money-grab, as he tries to financially exploit the clown-show Giuliani has been running for him.

    But this barrage is doing more than squeezing cash out of Trump fanatics. For the recipients, it is solidifying a dangerous message: the election was illegitimate. Though campaigns typically do not disclose such information, it is a fair assumption that millions of people are receiving these solicitations on a daily basis. Your pro-Trump uncle or aunt—they are constantly being told that the evil Democrats have mounted a coup to topple Trump. Yes, Trump tweets this every day. But for those Trump-supporting Americans not on Twitter, these emails form a ceaseless reinforcement of Trump’s false counter-narrative: the 2020 election was rigged. […]

    It’s all a scam. The Trump family wants your money.

  54. says

    YouTube temporarily suspends OANN account after spreading coronavirus misinformation

    That’s the so-called “news” network that Trump has been touting as Fox News has failed to be completely loyal to him.

    YouTube has suspended the pro-Trump One America News Network from posting new videos for a week and has had its old content demonetized. [OANN uploaded] a video containing misinformation about the coronavirus, YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi confirmed to The Hill on Tuesday.

    The week-long suspension is the result of a “strike” issued for saying that there is a guaranteed cure for COVID-19, a claim that runs afoul of YouTube’s coronavirus specific policy.

    The demonetization came as a result of “repeated violations of our COVID-19 misinformation policy and other channel monetization policies,” Choi said. Axios first reported on the suspension and demonetization.

    […] In order to start making money off videos again, the network will have to re-apply for the YouTube Partner Program.

    […] Trump and his allies have escalated their promotion of OANN as an alternative to Fox News in the aftermath of his electoral loss.

    “Many great alternatives are forming & exist. Try @OANN & @newsmax, among others!” [Trump] tweeted Sunday, referring to another right-wing network […]

  55. says

    Funny.

    CNN host Jake Tapper joked on Tuesday that he’s retained Rudy Giuliani to look into fraud in “Sexiest Man Alive” election.

    During an appearance on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show,” DeGeneres opined that Tapper should have been included in People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man” issue. She pointed out that Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, was included.

    “Look, here’s the thing, Ellen. That election to get in the ‘Sexiest Man Alive’ was riddled with fraud,” Tapper jokingly said. “And I have retained an attorney, I don’t know if you know him, his name is Rudy Giuliani.”

    “I have retained him for $20,000 a day, which was his asking price, and he is going to be looking into the fraud,” Tapper continued. “Apparently there was some Venezuelan software that was used to change the votes in this. And I won, I mean I am the sexiest man alive, I did win.” […]

    Link

  56. says

    SC @75, LOL.

    In news about a very different press conference: Why Trump’s weird appearance in the briefing room matters

    When the White House announced that Donald Trump would make an unexpected appearance in the press briefing room this afternoon, there were plenty of questions about what the outgoing president might say. Would he concede? Would he announce some new scheme in the hopes of holding onto power? Were there new developments of note regarding a coronavirus vaccine?

    As it turns out, no. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, one of the leading stock market indexes, topped 30,000 this morning, so the president decided to throw an exceedingly short celebration in the briefing room.

    Trump, who is facing mounting pressure to publicly concede, cheered the stock market rally Tuesday, telling reporters in the White House briefing room he wanted to “congratulate the people of our country because there are no people like you,” and called the Dow’s milestone a “sacred number.”

    I’ve seen quite a few presidential appearances behind that podium over the years, but this was the strangest. Trump strolled in, spoke for almost exactly one minute, took no questions, and walked away. The only thing he addressed was the Dow Jones topping 30,000.

    The whole appearance was basically a tweet in speech form.

    So why do I care? It’s not because the Republican president still doesn’t appreciate the differences between the stock market and the economy, though that’s important. It’s also not because he doesn’t appear to have any idea what “sacred” means, though that’s amusing.

    It’s not because Trump repeatedly told voters that Wall Street would “crash” and “collapse” if Biden won the election, though that’s certainly notable. It’s not even because Trump tried to take credit for stock market gains during his 2016 transition period, which would necessarily mean that he should give Biden credit for the gains we’re seeing now.

    Even if we put all of those angles aside, what struck me as important about this is the fact that the economy is still struggling badly, and it’s still up to federal policymakers to consider an economic aid package before the end of the year. Progress has been elusive, in part because [Trump] has been entirely disengaged from the negotiations.

    If Trump looks at the Dow Jones Industrial Average, instead of cars lined up at food banks, and assumes that the economy is fine, many families are poised to experience additional suffering that should be avoided.

  57. says

    Trump’s ICE is inflicting maximum pain on children and their parents to the bitter end

    More than two dozen children, a number of them currently detained at migrant family jails in Pennsylvania and Texas, are facing imminent deportation along with their parents […] All are families who were prevented from asking for protections under the Trump administration’s asylum ban and subsequently refused to be separated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

    But while that cruel asylum ban was thrown out in the court, these families, some detained for over 400 days now, continue to face deportation. ICE doesn’t have to separate or continue jailing these families. ICE doesn’t have to deport these families either. ICE is choosing to make these 28 children and their families suffer.

    “It would be fundamentally unfair to deport these children based upon rules and policies that have since been declared unlawful,” more than 60 organizations said in a letter to the Trump administration. “For many of these children, deportation is a death sentence.” NBC News reports that one child, an 11-year-old named Juan David, wrote in a letter that he fears being killed if his family is deported.

    “They asked me why I am afraid to return to my country. I’m afraid that the gangsters will hurt me, that they will kill me and my mom,” Juan David said according to the report. “That’s why I ask God to soften the hearts of the asylum officers and that I can go live with my aunt and uncle in New York. I want to have a normal life, make friends, go to a normal school, be with my family, living a normal life. Here, I always have a headache and anxiety.”

    The boy has been detained with his mom at a migrant family jail for over a year now. The Trump administration horrifically gave detained parents a “choice” amid the pandemic this year that was really no choice at all: either agree to have their kids released without them, or remain jailed together indefinitely. No families agreed to be separated because no family wants to be separated.

    “In July, a federal judge ruled the children should be released from the centers, potentially triggering separations, but later that order was deemed ‘unenforceable,’” the report continued. ICE has felt unaccountable to no one and abused detained people. Alexa, a child who was jailed with her mom for nearly a year, said in a video from Human Rights First that detention staff commonly ignored requests for medical attention. “They treated us less than. They did horrible things to us in that detention center.” […]

    Among those waiting for a last-minute miracle is 14-year-old Katherin. “I don’t have the warmth of family anymore, I feel alone and sad because of everything that has happened in this place,” she said in the letter released by Casey and Booker. “I see so many people who arrive and leave and my mom and I remain here detained.

    “Our lives are also in danger because of so many people who are infected with COVID-19,” she continued. “It hurts me to see that many kids like me are locked up even more because of COVID-19. They spend more time locked up in their rooms. Please, I implore you, I beg you, help us leave this place as soon as possible. I don’t want to spend another Christmas locked up here.”

    Video is available at the link.

  58. says

    Marc Elias:

    BREAKING: Nevada Court REJECTS Republican challenge to the use of mail ballot processing machine and request for new election.

    Trump and his allies are now 1-36 in post election litigation.

    “request for new election.”

  59. says

    From NBC News, a “yikes!” moment:

    A Russian warship chased a U.S. Navy destroyer from waters in the Sea of Japan, known in South Korea as the East Sea, on Tuesday, Russia’s military said — the latest in a string of close contacts between Russian and American forces across the globe. […]

  60. says

    From CNN, an “oh, FFS!” moment:

    Kash Patel, a Trump loyalist who was connected to efforts to spread conspiracy theories about Joe Biden has been put in charge of the Pentagon transition effort with the incoming Biden-Harris administration, according to two US defense officials. Patel is the chief of staff to Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller.

    A follow-up, of sorts, to comment 79.

  61. says

    From the Associated Press:

    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Tuesday he hopes a reset of U.S.-European relations under the Biden administration can end years in which Europe was mainly concerned with “damage control.”

    We know how the German Foreign Minister feels.

  62. says

    Good news:

    The top appropriators in the House and Senate on Tuesday struck a deal on spending allocations, clearing a hurdle in the path toward reaching a broader deal to avoid a government shutdown on Dec. 11.

    “This agreement allows bipartisan, bicameral negotiations to proceed at the subcommittee level and provides further momentum for enacting full year appropriations bills by the December 11 government funding deadline,” a House Democratic aide said. […]

    Link

  63. says

    Lynna @ #80, I imagine they’re going to go around him and the other stooges and talk to the career people (or the reverse – the career people will get in touch with them). Biden told Lester Holt he’s getting genuine outreach/cooperation from the national security staff, and I believe it. Also, Patel has no idea how anything works, so it should be easy enough to keep him largely out of the loop, even without his knowing it.

    That’s how I hope it’ll go down, anyway.

  64. says

    Here are some excerpts from the link provided by SC in comment 82:

    Pennsylvania responds to Trump’s 3d Cir. appeal: “It is beyond time for this baseless litigation to come to an end.”

    It argues that Trump’s campaign made a mess of the litigation, and giving it permission to file a new complaint would be futile because that one would lose, too.

    “Their proposed second amended complaint is Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, randomly re-cobbled together, even more illogical and haphazard than the first.”

    The state also says that because Trump’s lawyers chose not to challenge most of Judge Brann’s decision — that their claims lack merit — they’re now stuck with it.

    The state points out, in a footnote, that Trump’s claim that Bush v. Gore means federal courts can interpret state election law is actually based on a concurring opinion joined by only 3 justices, so is “not a correct statement of the law.”

    That’s … embarrassing.

  65. says

    SC @ 85: “Patel has no idea how anything works, so it should be easy enough to keep him largely out of the loop, […]”

    That’s true. I hadn’t thought of that.

  66. says

    Good news: President Obama sold a record-breaking 1.7 million copies of his memoir in the first week that it was available.

    And he didn’t even have to bully the Democratic National Committee into buying thousands of copies, (that’s how Donald Trump Junior racked up sales … making the Republican National Committee buy truckloads of books).

  67. johnson catman says

    re SC @93: NC resident here. We keep trying!!! The bigots who live away from the urban centers are BARELY outpacing us, but the reckoning is coming.
    .
    .
    Fuck Cal Cunningham for being such a fucking IDIOT and not keeping his dick in his pants until at least AFTER the election. STOOOOOOOOOOPID!!!!!! We could have rid ourselves of fucking Thom Tillis if Cunningham had just show A LITTLE restraint.

  68. tomh says

    Trump tells confidants he plans to pardon Michael Flynn
    Axios
    Jonathan Swan, Zachary Basu

    President Trump has told confidants he plans to pardon his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts, two sources with direct knowledge of the discussions tell Axios.

    Sources with direct knowledge of the discussions said Flynn will be part of a series of pardons that Trump issues between now and when he leaves office.

    Flynn’s pardon would be the culmination of a four-year political and legal saga that began with the FBI’s investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in the 2016 election…

    Earlier this year, Trump commuted the sentence of Roger Stone, another associate charged in the Mueller investigation who the president complained had been unfairly targeted in a political witch hunt.

    I thought maybe Judge Sullivan was holding off until Jan 21 to sentence Flynn, in the hopes that Trump had forgotten about him, but of course, Trump can pardon him at any time.

  69. says

    Guardian – “Millions of Americans to travel and gather for Thanksgiving despite expert warnings”:

    Millions of Americans are traveling and gathering for the Thanksgiving holiday, despite dire and urgent warnings from US doctors, nurses, health authorities and hospitals not to do so.

    The travel raises the possibility of a “surge superimposed on a surge”, in the words of Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and of a wave of deaths as Christmas arrives.

    “There is so much community transmission all over the United States that the chances of you encountering somebody that has Covid-19 is actually very, very high, whether it’s on an airplane, at the airport or at a rest area,” said Dr Syra Madad, an infectious disease epidemiologist for New York City hospitals.

    Nearly 12.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and more than 258,000 have died, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker. Doctors and nurses have reported severe burnout, and some healthcare facilities have seen emerging staff shortages. States such as North Dakota have recently led the world in the death rate from the disease.

    Despite this, several recent surveys show a meaningful minority of Americans have not changed Thanksgiving plans, and intend to go ahead with travel and gatherings.

    Historical trends have shown the “second wave” of respiratory viruses – typically in the cooler, fall weather – tend to be more severe than initial outbreaks, experts said. That is a history some worry Americans are about to repeat.

    “This wave will surely be as bad as the first wave and could be twice as bad,” said Dr Nicholas Christakis, a professor at Yale’s Institute for Network Science and recent author of Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live.

    “I’m very worried we’re just not doing the right things we need to do as a nation, and it’s going to be bad, get worse,” Christakis said on the Journal of the American Medical Association’s daily podcast.

    In addition to people traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday, millions of college students will also return home, as universities send potentially infected students back to family members.

    In an interview with Washington Post Live on Monday, Fauci said the entire country was in “a very steep escalation of cases”.

    “When you do the things that are increasing the risk [of spreading Covid-19] – the travel, the congregate settings, the masks – the chances are you will see a surge superimposed upon a surge,” Fauci said.

    A high degree of Covid-19 spread over the holiday could help result in the US hitting upwards of 300,000 deaths this year, Fauci said, just as the nation heads into Christmas.

    Ultimately, the extent of spread over the holiday weekend will remain unknown for two weeks because of the coronavirus’s long incubation period. Deaths from infections acquired over Thanksgiving will follow further behind, because Covid-19 takes weeks to kill its victims.

    Life, “will be getting better and better as the months go by”, Fauci said, urging Americans to wait for vaccines to gather indoors without masks.

    “You want to hang in there, not get infected, not infect your loved ones, because there is help that is close by,” he said.

    More atl.

  70. says

    Here’s a link to the November 25 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Authorities in Sicily have asked Cuba’s government to send to the region about 60 health operators, including doctors and nurses, as hospitals are struggling with a shortage of medical personnel during the second wave.

    The request was filed this week to the Italian embassy in Cuba and consists of intensive care specialists, nurses, anaesthetists, resuscitators, virologists and pneumologists, the Italian newspaper la Repubblica has reported.

    On 4 November, Rome designated Sicily as an “orange zone”, at high risk, mainly because of the lack of health facilities and beds in intensive care units.

    On Monday, Italy’s government asked health inspectors to investigate whether Sicily attempted to avoid going into the high-contagion-risk red zone by inflating ICU bed numbers.

    There were a further 48 deaths on the island on Tuesday; the highest daily toll since the beginning of the pandemic.

    Also via the Guardian, Photographers Against Oppression are selling prints to benefit the democracy movement in Belarus.

  71. says

    AP – “Ga. Sen. Perdue boosts wealth with well-timed stock trades”:

    As the ravages of the novel coronavirus forced millions of people out of work, shuttered businesses and shrank the value of retirement accounts, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged to a three-year low.

    But for Sen. David Perdue, a Georgia Republican, the crisis last March signaled something else: a stock buying opportunity.

    And for the second time in less than two months, Perdue’s timing was impeccable. He avoided a sharp loss and reaped a stunning gain by selling and then buying the same stock: Cardlytics, an Atlanta-based financial technology company on whose board of directors he once served.

    On Jan. 23, as word spread through Congress that the coronavirus posed a major economic and public health threat, Perdue sold off $1 million to $5 million in Cardlytics stock at $86 a share before it plunged, according to congressional disclosures.

    Weeks later, in March, after the company’s stock plunged further following an unexpected leadership shakeup and lower-than-forecast earnings, Perdue bought the stock back for $30 a share, investing between $200,000 and $500,000.

    Those shares have now quadrupled in value, closing at $121 a share on Tuesday.

    The Cardlytics transactions were just a slice of a large number of investment decisions made in the early days of the pandemic by Perdue and other senators. They stirred public outrage after it became clear that some members of Congress had been briefed on the economic and health threat the virus posed. The transactions were mentioned briefly in a story published by the Intercept in May.

    Now that Perdue is locked in a pitched battle for reelection in a Jan. 5 runoff, his trades during a public health and economic crisis have become an issue in what already has become a negative, expensive campaign that will determine which party controls the Senate….

    More atl.

  72. says

    BBC – “Kylie Moore-Gilbert: Lecturer ‘released by Iran’ in prisoner swap”:

    A British-Australian academic serving a 10-year sentence in Iran for espionage has been freed in exchange for three jailed Iranians, Iranian media say.

    Kylie Moore-Gilbert, a lecturer at Melbourne University, had been detained in Iran since September 2018.

    She was tried in secret and strongly denied all the charges against her.

    According to Iranian state media, she was exchanged for an Iranian businessman and two Iranian citizens “who had been detained abroad”.

    They have not yet been named.

    News of the exchange came on Wednesday in a statement on the website of the Young Journalist Club, a news website affiliated to state television in Iran.

    Video purporting to show the exchange was published by state broadcaster IRIB news and the Tasnim website.

    Dr Moore-Gilbert, a Cambridge-educated academic, had been travelling on an Australian passport when she was detained at Tehran airport in 2018 as she tried to leave following a conference.

    In letters smuggled out of Tehran’s Evin prison earlier this year, the lecturer said she had “never been a spy” and feared for her mental health. She said she had rejected an offer from Iran to become a spy.

    “I am not a spy. I have never been a spy, and I have no interest to work for a spying organisation in any country.”

    Concerns for her wellbeing escalated in August when news emerged that she had been transferred to Qarchak, a notorious prison in the desert.

    Before being moved to Qarchak, Dr Moore-Gilbert had spent almost two years sleeping on the floor of a cell at Evin prison, according to a friend.

    She had been in solitary confinement and on several hunger strikes, and was said to have been beaten for trying to comfort new prisoners.

    Iran has detained a number of foreign nationals over the years, mostly on spying charges. Human rights groups have accused Tehran of using the cases as leverage to try to gain concessions from other countries.

  73. says

    Excerpts from the Washington Post link to which SC referred in comment 92:

    […] the lawyering intended to keep President Trump in office [has] descended into a sort of surrealism, with madcap news conferences unspooling conspiracies masterminded by dead Venezuelan dictators, and rivulets of hair color trickling down Rudolph W. Giuliani’s cheeks. […]

    seeking, on frivolous grounds, to stop the counting of votes, stop the certification of results, change the rules, and ultimately to simply award electoral votes to Trump on a judge’s say-so — never mind what the voters decided. […] Again and again, what was left after contact with the courts was a soggy mess on the floor. The haplessness of the legal work was oddly juxtaposed against the enormity of the judicial interventions they requested to steal the election.

    […] Within the firm Jones Day, for example, some lawyers criticized their colleagues for advancing the Trump campaign’s arguments. (Another large firm, Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, held meetings over similar concerns, according to the New York Times; lawyers from that firm later withdrew from a federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania.) […]

    Lawyers are taught, and generally believe, that the adversarial system of American law works best when all litigants — even people and causes despised by public opinion — have competent lawyers. […]

    The idea reaches back to John Adams’s masterful and successful defense of the British soldiers accused of murder in the aftermath of the Boston Massacre. […] Over the years, that example has been expanded and refined into the maxim that everyone deserves a lawyer, and no lawyer should be criticized for taking on clients that the community scorns.

    That broad formulation, however, rests on three essential, though unstated, principles. Without them, it is simply a license for lawyers to cause as much damage to our society as their clients wish.

    […] the notion that everyone deserves a lawyer has rested on the rationale of service. We celebrate a lawyer’s competent work defending a criminal suspect (even one later proved to be guilty), or a civil suit advocating for a client’s interests (even if they are unpopular) because it demonstrates the system’s impartiality and the community’s enduring commitment to fairness. […] That rationale won’t stretch to cover Trump’s cause: He seeks to mute the community’s voice in choosing its government. If his efforts were successful in installing authoritarianism by judicial fiat, they would reveal the courts to be the tools of a dictator. One cannot serve the community by silencing it, or serve the republic by attempting to destroy it.

    Second, lawyers are not simply advocates in court; they are also gatekeepers for the court. Each lawyer has a responsibility to evaluate the merits of a case or an argument before bringing it before a judge. No one, in fact, has a right to file frivolous lawsuits, and lawyers are supposed to either talk their clients out of filing frivolous claims or withdraw from the representation. Telling a client they have no case, when that’s what the facts and law indicate, is an essential part of the job. If lawyers fail to do so, court-imposed sanctions or bar discipline can follow.

    […] those who are wasting courts’ time with meritless cases deserve criticism and accountability.

    Third, while lawyers will defend clients for their past conduct, they’re of course not supposed to participate in ongoing criminal behavior. […] the privilege that protects communications between a lawyer and their client disappears when evidence shows that the lawyer is participating in an ongoing criminal scheme. […] the overall purpose of the Republicans’ efforts in the courts is to steal this election and illegitimately keep Donald Trump in power. […] that’s a crime, a historic one, and any lawyer who knowingly assists with it deserves all the criticism and accountability in the world.

    Every time a loss or potential loss has stared him in the face [snipped examples], Trump has resorted to attacking the system that (actually or theoretically) produced it — always without any evidence. […] if he doesn’t have the goods, it’s not his lawyers’ job to open up the doors of the courtroom to him; they owe a duty not only to their client, but to the country. It’s their job to keep those doors shut.

    Washington Post link

    Luppe B. Luppen is a writer and a lawyer in New York City. He is @nycsouthpaw on twitter.

  74. says

    SC @105, you’re welcome. “Southpaw” is not only a good writer, but also a good lawyer. What a combination! We are lucky to have him as a resource.

    In other news, voter turnout in Minnesota this year reached 79.9% — the best in the nation and the highest in Minnesota since 1956. Minnesota certified Biden’s victory in that state yesterday.

    Biden’s total of popular votes has exceeded 80 million, and votes are still being counted in some states.

  75. says

    The one thing Trump got right: The world really is watching

    It was just a few days ago when Donald Trump suggested via Twitter that it was a mistake for President-elect Joe Biden to work on choosing a cabinet. As far as the outgoing president was concerned, there was still a chance “the courts and/or legislatures” would “flip” states and allow him to maintain power.

    The missive was, of course, ridiculous. But it culminated in a notable phrase: “THE WORLD IS WATCHING!!!”

    Despite Trump’s track record for brazen dishonesty, he was right about this specific point: the world really is watching. Unfortunately, what the world has seen of late hasn’t exactly inspired confidence in the United States. The Washington Post reported yesterday on international reactions to the outgoing president’s attacks on his own country’s democracy, leaving foreign observers struggling “to maintain confidence that America’s principles and ideals will prevail.”

    The article quoted Krzysztof J. Pelc, a political science professor at McGill University in Montreal, who offered a chilling view of the American political system.

    “The spectacle of the past weeks implies that even if the White House becomes more open to greater cooperation with its allies, it may simply be unable to act on those good intentions,” he said. “The great lesson that U.S. allies have drawn from the past four years is that the American ideals of democratic freedom and openness rest on a fragile basis. American political institutions have proven more delicate than most international observers thought. As a result, we are always one election away from U.S. commitments coming undone.”

    […] Those around the world who would love to see the United States reclaim a global leadership role are left to wonder about the relative strength — or lack thereof — of the pillars of the American system […]

    Politico had a related report this week on global reactions to recent U.S. developments, noting, among other things, that some in South Korea — a longtime ally — have begun to question “whether the United States is truly a democracy.” Axios added a day later:

    A longtime diplomat and Joe Biden adviser tells Axios that the United States has lost international credibility as […] Trump spreads conspiracies while challenging his losing election results…. Nicholas Burns, a Harvard professor who previously served presidents from both political parties as a former ambassador and undersecretary of state, says the president’s baseless challenges have undercut the U.S. as a beacon of democracy and critical voice against governmental overreach in other nations.

    “Donald Trump is doing more damage to American democracy than Russia or China or Iran or North Korea could ever do with their cyberattacks on us,” Burns said, adding, “I think it’s the most serious threat to our democracy in my lifetime.” […]

  76. says

    From Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger:

    By all accounts, Georgia had a wildly successful and smooth election. We finally defeated voting lines and put behind us Fulton County’s now notorious reputation for disastrous elections. This should be something for Georgians to celebrate, whether their favored presidential candidate won or lost. For those wondering, mine lost — my family voted for him, donated to him and are now being thrown under the bus by him.

    Commentary:

    […] Georgia’s secretary of state and his family supported the outgoing president, both financially and at the ballot box, but Raffensperger is nevertheless joining the long list of people who’ve learned a lesson about Trump’s limited capacity for fidelity.

    One wonders how many buses are going to have to run over Lindsey Graham before he sees the error of his ways.

  77. says

    Unemployment claims keep moving in the wrong direction

    There’s fresh evidence that the U.S. job market is getting worse, not better, as the number of layoffs grows unexpectedly.

    […] it was considered a catastrophe during the Great Recession when jobless claims topped 600,000.

    But in 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic started taking a brutal toll on the U.S. economy, Americans confronted an entirely new set of standards — to the point that it seemed like relatively good news in September when initial jobless claims fell below 1 million for the first time since March.

    Progress has nevertheless been hit or miss, and the new report from the Labor Department, for the second consecutive week, pointed in a decidedly discouraging direction.

    In the week ending November 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 778,000, an increase of 30,000 from the previous week’s revised level. The previous week’s level was revised up by 6,000 from 742,000 to 748,000. The 4-week moving average was 748,500, an increase of 5,000 from the previous week’s revised average.

    Note, there’s been an increase of 67,000 filings over the last two weeks, which is the worst shift we’ve seen since the summer, and evidence of a job market that’s getting worse, not better. We’ve also now had 36 consecutive weeks in which the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits was worse than at any time during the Great Recession. […]

  78. says

    Trump’s economic team accused of ‘sabotaging’ Biden before exiting

    The outgoing Trump administration doesn’t have to make it harder for the Biden administration to boost the economy. But they’re doing it anyway.

    When policymakers approved the CARES Act in March, the massive federal response to the coronavirus pandemic included several emergency lending programs to prevent deeper economic losses. With the economy still struggling, common sense suggests those programs should continue in the coming months, taking advantage of money that hasn’t yet been spent.

    The Trump administration, however, disagrees. Earlier this week, the Federal Reserve explicitly requested that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin extend the lending programs beyond Dec. 31 — a legal option under the CARES Act — but the cabinet secretary refused, insisting instead on pulling the plug.

    As Neil Barofsky, the former special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, explained this week, “The decision appears intended to limit the incoming Biden administration’s options to deal with the continuing crisis.”

    Yesterday, as Bloomberg News reported, Donald Trump’s outgoing economic team made matters just a little worse.

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will put $455 billion in unspent Cares Act funding into an account that his presumed successor, former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, will need authorization from Congress to use. Mnuchin plans to place the money into the agency’s General Fund, a Treasury Department spokesperson said Tuesday. That fund can only be tapped with “authority based on congressionally issued legislation,” according to the Treasury’s website. The money includes $429 billion that Mnuchin is clawing back from the Federal Reserve — which backed some of the central bank’s emergency lending facilities — and $26 billion that Treasury received for direct loans to companies.

    If Janet Yellen is confirmed as Treasury secretary, she’ll able to use just under $80 billion in the department’s Exchange Stabilization Fund to bolster the economy. Were it not for Mnuchin’s latest actions, Yellen would have access to a pot of resources nearly six times larger to work with.

    The outgoing Treasury secretary doesn’t have to do this. As Bloomberg News’ report added, “Mnuchin isn’t required to move the money into the General Fund — the Cares Act states that the Treasury Department can maintain access to the money by keeping it in its Exchange Stabilization Fund until 2026.”

    But Trump’s cabinet secretary is doing it anyway.

    MSNBC’s Chris Hayes yesterday described this as “flat out sabotage.” Paul Krugman stressed the same point, adding that the Trump administration’s move is “sabotage, pure and simple.”

    […] When the Bush/Cheney administration prepared for the incoming Obama administration’s arrival, then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson made every effort to make crisis-era resources available to the new team. […]

    But on their way out the door, Trump and his team appear a little too eager to salt the earth behind them.

    We’ll probably never get a straight answer, but I’d love to ask Mnuchin, “Who, exactly, told you to do this? Was it your idea, or did someone give you direction?”

  79. says

    From Republican Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida:

    President Trump should pardon Michael Flynn. He should pardon the Thanksgiving turkey. He should pardon everyone, from himself to his administration officials to Joe Exotic if he has to.

    Because you see from the radical left a bloodlust that will only be quenched if they come after the people who’ve worked so hard to animate the Trump administration with the policies and the vigor and the effectiveness that delivered for the American people. So I think that the President ought to wield that pardon power effectively and robustly.

  80. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 104.

    […] Trump will not be appearing at an event in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, with his lawyer Rudy Giuliani aimed at trying to discredit the results of the 2020 election, which Joe Biden won.

    The decision comes after a member of Trump’s campaign legal team, Boris Epshteyn, announced Wednesday he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

    Epshteyn attended a press conference with Giuliani in Washington last week during which Giuliani continued to lob meritless accusations of mass voter fraud despite no evidence to support his claims.

    Also in attendance was Giuliani’s son, who works at the White House and announced a day later that he had tested positive.

    Trump’s appearance was never confirmed or announced by the White House. But the Federal Aviation Administration had placed a flight restriction over the area, and Giuliani had teased it was a possibility in a radio interview en route to the event. […]

    Link

  81. says

    Yet another sign that Trump is useless:

    […] “We do not feel that it is necessary for President-elect Biden to speak with President Trump to get that information,” Bedingfield [Biden communications director Kate Bedingfield ] said. “We believe we’ve been getting the information that our teams need.”

    Bedingfield added that the transition team is open to speaking with Trump if the sitting President would like to.

    “Certainly should President Trump want to speak with President-elect Biden, then that’s something we would work out in the future,” Bedingfield said. “But in terms of whether it is mission critical to being able to move the transition forward efficiently, no.” […]

    Link

  82. says

    Politically-active young people in Georgia:

    When 17-year-old Georgia students Edward Aguilar, Jordan Umusu, Sahan Reddy, and Michael Giusto founded the website Students For 2020, they wanted to provide a place that would not only help college students register to vote but also help them determine which state their vote would matter most in. With many students having dual residency, the choice is often theirs to vote at home or in their college towns. “We kind of like to think of it as reverse gerrymandering,” Aguilar said in a recent interview with Daily Kos.

    It worked. They ended up registering more than 65,000 students nationally for the 2020 presidential election and 17,000 students in Georgia alone by sharing their website in college email threads and group chats. It was the kind of showing of force with young people that grassroots efforts throughout the state have embraced. Now, Aguilar, Umusu, Reddy, and Giusto have their eyes on getting 40,000 new student voters registered and flipping 60,000 students planning to vote for Republican Sen. David Perdue in Georgia’s upcoming runoff.

    “Our goal is to flip these elections entirely through the student voting bloc [given that the mass majority of the incoming waves of political funding will be targeted to the older demographics,]” Giusto said in an email to Daily Kos. His organization, which recently launched a new website with the goal of attracting more young people to government service overall, is focusing in part on more than 23,000 17-year-olds in Georgia. They’ll be turning 18 between November 3 and January 5 and eligible to vote for the first time in the Senate runoff. It’s a demographic that youth-focused organizations throughout the state are focusing on from Campus Vote Project efforts at Historically Black Colleges and Universities to the youth empowerment movement Opportunity Youth United.

    […] Williams, 20, said what’s more important is keeping messaging short and to the point and listening to understand young voters “not to push your own issue.” “There’s this idea that young people aren’t doing anything. That’s not true,” Williams said. In the middle of a pandemic, people are working and taking care of their families. Students are balancing online classes and final exams. They don’t have a lot of free time, Williams said.

    Aguilar touched on similar misconceptions about young voters. “People think students are apathetic, but the truth is a lot of them are just disillusioned,” he said. They don’t know their power, but they’re learning.

    Link

    More at the link.

  83. says

    Sheesh! And Yikes!

    Trump’s plan to burn the civil service to the ground is moving forward at one major agency

    Donald Trump signed an executive order last month taking aim at the existence of a nonpartisan civil service with job protections for career employees that prevent the entire government from being politicized. […] 88% of the workers at the Office of Management and Budget are already in the crosshairs […]

    OMB Director Russell Vought has determined that 425 OMB workers—again, 88% percent of them—should be converted to the new “Schedule F,” which would allow Trump to purge those who aren’t sufficiently loyal to him personally, and would potentially strip the agency of many of its most experienced, knowledgeable staff immediately before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

    A long list of good government and government ethics organizations sent Congress a letter urging lawmakers to block Trump’s executive order, writing “Our nonpartisan civil service has served as a model for other countries for more than a century. Since the passage of the Pendleton Act of 1883, civil servants have been hired based on their qualifications, and have been protected from removal based on political affiliation. These protections do not exist for the sake of the civil servants themselves, but rather to ensure the government delivers services insulated from undue political influence.”

    The executive order risks doing concrete damage to the function of government—as Team Trump no doubt intended.

    “At best, this EO will serve as a distraction at a time when the focus should be on ensuring a smooth transfer of power from one administration to another,” they write. “At worst, career civil servants upon whom Americans rely for deep expertise and lifesaving services during the pandemic and economic crisis—from approving vaccines to distributing loans—could be removed for political reasons.”

    And if Trump officials hire a large number of new staff following a purge of the existing civil servants, it could be incredibly difficult for the Biden administration to undo the damage. This may sound like an obscure issue, but it is dangerous stuff, and it’s just one part of Trump’s efforts to trash the entire federal government on his way out the door.

  84. says

    SC @117, That’s Trump subverting the course of justice. That’s Trump obstructing justice. That’s Trump still hiding the true nature of his relationship with Putin.

    Flynn was/is guilty.

  85. says

    From Steve Benen:

    Flynn twice pleaded guilty to felonies — under oath and in open court — but Donald Trump pardoned him anyway.

    From Adam Schiff:

    It’s no surprise that Trump would go out just as he came in – crooked to the end.

    QAnon cult followers are going to love the Flynn pardon.

  86. says

    Cogent comments from Rosalind S. Helderman, writing for The Washington Post:

    […] The president and his allies have touted Flynn’s cause in their efforts to discredit the special counsel inquiry into whether individuals associated with Trump’s campaign cooperated with Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. […]

    Not long before Trump announced the pardon publicly, Flynn tweeted an image of the American flag and the words “Jeremiah 1:19,” a reference to a Bible verse in which God says, “They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you.”

    […] House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold R. Nadler (D-NY) called the pardon “undeserved, unprincipled, and one more stain on President Trump’s rapidly diminishing legacy.”

    […] Sidney [batshit bonkers lawyer] Powell said that Flynn “is entitled to a public exoneration by the court. If the system works right, the wrongful prosecution will be dismissed with prejudice. No pardon should be needed. General Flynn is innocent.”

    Trump’s pardon shortcuts Sullivan’s ongoing review. The Justice Department will no longer be able to pursue charges against Flynn for lying to the FBI, even after President-elect Joe Biden and his new attorney general take over next year.

    […] [Much, much earlier] Trump’s top aides concluded they did not think Flynn could have forgotten the conversation [with the Russian ambassador] and concluded he had lied. Flynn was then forced to resign from his post.

    Link

  87. says

    From NBC News:

    Chinese President Xi Jinping has congratulated President-elect Joe Biden, state media reported on Wednesday, becoming one of the last world leaders to do so.

    Putin still has not congratulated Biden..

  88. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Trump Complains On Speakerphone To PA GOP That No One Will ‘Overturn’ Election For Him

    Jenna Ellis, a member of President Donald Trumps legal team, holds up a cell phone to the microphone so […] Trump can speak during a Pennsylvania Senate Majority Policy Committee public hearing Wednesday at the Wyndham Gettysburg hotel to discuss 2020 election issues […]

    That was a problem for Trump, because he was addressing the committee via speakerphone, and the beeps from the incoming call to his lawyer’s phone were an annoying interruption. Trump was reportedly planning on attending the meeting in person with Ellis and the campaign’s other lead attorney as of late, Rudy Giuliani, but he ultimately decided against it.

    Still, the President managed to get his point across: The Democrats cheated all over the country! The election was fraudulent! After all, he’d heard a commentator on television say there was no way he’d lost Pennsylvania, because “the energy industry was all for him.” In fact, not only had he won in Pennsylvania by a lot, he’d won “all of these swing states” by a lot.

    His solution to this predicament was clear: He deserved to win, tallied votes and court losses be damned.

    “Why wouldn’t they overturn an election?” he seethed, referring to the judges who’ve rejected his campaign’s attempts. Trump added later: “We have to turn the election over, because there’s no doubt we have all the evidence, we have all the affidavits, we have everything. All we need is to have some judge listen to it properly.”

    Some elected officials might have been aghast at the President’s request to deliver him a “victory” in defiance of the voters’ will. But Sen. David Argall (R), the committee’s chairman, beamed. “What you’ve just heard guarantees that 100 years from now, that this is the most important public hearing ever held by this Senate committee,” he said after Trump hung up. [JFC]

    […] while Giuliani and Ellis’ appearance before the committee was billed as a hearing on “2020 election issues and irregularities,” Giuliani quickly made clear that he came with a singular demand: Deliver the state for Trump.

    In real terms, Giuliani asked the state legislature to simply ignore more than 682,000 votes in Philadelphia and Allegheny County (home to Pittsburgh) that he falsely said “were not observed by any single Republican.”

    That’s not going to happen — the state has already certified it’s results, and Joe Biden won. But, apparently, the President’s team felt it was worth a shot.

    “We don’t want to disenfranchise anyone,” Giuliani said, referring to a judge’s ruling against the campaign Saturday that summarized, “Plaintiffs ask this Court to disenfranchise almost seven million voters.”

    “We want to disqualify 682,000 votes,” Giuliani continued, “so that 74 million people are not disenfranchised.”

    To support that argument, Giuliani called up a series of Republican witnesses […]

    Unsurprisingly, the testimony didn’t fully cohere. Some witnesses complained of the distances observers were required to stand away from where ballots were being counted, creating what they described as an insurmountable obstacle to election integrity. […]

    David Shestokas, a Republican elections attorney, voiced frustration that mail-in ballots came tri-folded in envelopes, requiring elections workers to flatten them before counting them and creating delays.

    “There’d be workers kneading the ballots to try and make them so they could go through the machines!” he said, calling the process “absurd and obscene.” (Ironically, the state’s Republican-controlled legislature failed to pass legislation that would’ve allowed for “pre-canvassing” of mail-in ballots, which would have addressed this concern.)

    Lest the proceedings get too pedestrian, some of Giuliani’s witnesses spiced things up a little bit, even renewing the conspiracy theory offered by since-sacked Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell at Giuliani’s last off-the-walls event, in which she made her case that communists had infiltrated America’s voting system.

    Phil Waldron, a retired Army colonel, did the heavy lifting. “The voting systems in the U.S. and in Pennsylvania were built to be manipulated,” he said, explaining the lengthy chain of title of the corrupt communist DNA behind America’s electoral infrastructure.

    […] “I know there’ve been statements to the contrary, but I personally debriefed the son of a Cuban intelligence officer, who had first-hand knowledge of Hugo Chavez’s family members, who told him not to worry about the populist threat against Maduro’s election in Venezuela. Quote-unquote, that ‘it was guaranteed, their father invested the money to build the SGO voting machine system.’”

    “So… I have no reason to doubt this gentleman,” Waldron said, as the hearing entered its second hour.

    Clown show.

  89. DanDare says

    https://eand.co/why-freedom-became-free-dumb-in-america-4947e39663f2

    America became obsessed with free-dumb: the idea of freedom as the removal of all restraint, the right to harm others, the ability to do anything you please, no matter how destructive, toxic, foolish, or inane. Covid’s a jaw-dropping example of it. Think about the example above: it involves at least three levels of free-dumb. The right to “believe” Covid doesn’t exist, the right not to have to wear a mask, the right not to have to lock down. All these effectively add up to the idea that Americans should be free to infect anyone they please with a lethal disease. What on earth?

    Where does this amazingly, jaw-droopingly stupid idea of free-dumb come from? Covid’s hardly some kind of anomaly. It’s part of a larger pattern. Americans — in the vast, vast majority — think of freedom in a way that by now the rest of the rich world and much of the poor one regards as dangerously backwards. Freedom is the right not to ever have to cooperate, to invest, to act for the common wealth or common good.

  90. tomh says

    Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions
    Rebecca Falconer

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that restrictions imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.

    The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds one of the first significant actions by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.

    While the groups are no longer subject to the 10- and 25-person occupancy restrictions, the ruling signals a shift in the now-conservative majority court.

    The court earlier this year declined to lift pandemic restrictions in California and Nevada when the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was on the court.

    Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts dissented the latest decision, along with the court’s three liberal members.

  91. KG says

    Lynna, OM@108,
    I must admit my sympathy for Brad Raffensperger is limited. OK, he’s done the right thing in the current situation – but by his own account, he was supporting Trump up until the moment the latter directly pressured him to assist his coup attempt. Trump’s malignant nature, and his attack on the democratic features of the American political system, have been abundantly clear from the moment he became a significant political actor.

  92. KG says

    That was a problem for Trump, because he was addressing the committee via speakerphone, and the beeps from the incoming call to his lawyer’s phone were an annoying interruption.
    Lynna, OM@124 quoting TPM

    I’d have said Trump’s torrent of lies was an annoying interruption to the incoming beeps ;-)

  93. says

    Sort of a follow-up to Lynna’s #124 – southpaw: “Started trying to proofread the Sidney Powell complaint and I didn’t get very far. I wouldn’t recommend filing this version in court, Sod….”

    Proofread pages atl. (I got a warning at the link to the full document, so wouldn’t recommend it.) I’d add:

    Several of their commas should be semicolons.

    The sentence on p. 3 should read “…Forsyth, Paulding, Cherokee, Hall, and Barrow Counties.”

    It’s Chávez.

    The claim is that Chávez participated in the development of some machines before his death to ensure future victories for himself and Maduro, but here’s what happened in the 2015 Venezuelan parliamentary elections:

    The result was a decisive defeat for the PSUV, which lost control of the Assembly for the first time since 1999. The MUD, composed of politicians opposed to the government of both Chávez and his successor, won 109 seats, and with the support of the three indigenous representatives, gained a supermajority of 112 seats against 55 won by the GPP. In terms of popular vote, the MUD received 7.7 million votes, an increase of 2.4 million from the 2010 elections, becoming the most voted party in Venezuelan electoral history. In comparison, the GPP only managed to gain an additional 200,000 votes, to total 5.6 million votes.

  94. says

    Here’s a link to the November 26 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    French winter sports resorts are free to open for the Christmas holiday season, the prime minister, Jean Castex, said on Thursday, but ski lifts will have to remain shut.

    President Emmanuel Macron warned on Tuesday that coronavirus risks made it “impossible” to allow winter sports to resume quickly, adding he hoped restrictions could be lifted in January.

    France’s 350 ski resorts have been up in arms over the decision, saying the weeks around Christmas and new year are crucial for their survival as they account for up to a quarter of their annual revenues.

    Castex said mountain holidays were still on the cards but downhill skiing – by far the most popular pastime for crowds of French and foreign skiers in Alpine and Pyrenees resorts – was effectively ruled out.

    “Naturally, everybody is free to travel to resorts to enjoy the clean air of our beautiful mountains, and the shops which will be open, although bars and restaurants won’t be,” Castex told a news conference.

  95. says

    BBC – “Loujain al-Hathloul: Saudi activist’s trial ‘moved to terrorism court'”:

    The family of the jailed Saudi women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul says her trial has been transferred to a terrorism tribunal.

    Ms Hathloul’s sister Lina had expressed hope that she would be freed when the trial resumed in Riyadh on Wednesday.

    But she said their parents had now been informed that the case would be heard by the Specialised Criminal Court.

    Ms Hathloul and 12 other activists are accused of conspiring with foreign organisations hostile to the kingdom.

    They were arrested in May 2018, weeks before King Salman lifted a ban on women driving that they had campaigned against for years.

    Last weekend’s G20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia was overshadowed by calls from international human rights groups to free the women and other imprisoned critics of the government.

    The kingdom rejected the calls, saying it would not allow people to lecture it.

    The BBC’s Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet, who is in Riyadh, says Loujain al-Hathloul has come to symbolise activists detained in Saudi jails.

    The 31-year-old first came to prominence as a campaigner for women’s right to drive in the kingdom.

    Saudi officials insist her detention has nothing to do with that issue. They say the charges she faces are related to her contacts with foreign diplomats, media, and activist groups.

    Ms Hathloul’s family say she was held incommunicado for three months following her arrest, and that she was subjected to electric shocks, whippings, and sexual harassment. They also allege that that she was offered freedom if she agreed to say she was not tortured.

    The Saudi government denies the allegations of torture.

    Wednesday’s hearing was the first time since 26 October that Ms Hathloul’s family has had any news of her since she went on hunger strike in protest over her conditions in detention.

    Her sister Lina tweeted that she looked weak and shook uncontrollably when she appeared in court, where their parents were present.

    She also said that Loujain had told them that she ended her hunger strike after two weeks because the guards at her prison began waking her up every two hours at night and deprived her of sleep.

    Ms Hathloul’s family are even more worried now that her case has been transferred to the Specialised Criminal Court, our correspondent adds.

    Human rights groups say the SCC, which was set up in 2008 to try terrorism cases, has been used to prosecute peaceful dissidents and that it is notorious for violations of fair trial standards.

    She said it was important that her sister’s plight was kept in the public eye.

    “When we were silent and the world didn’t know about her, she was being tortured in an unofficial prison. Every time we don’t make noise, she’s put in solitary confinement. So I think the only thing that works now with Loujain’s case and the other activists’ case is outside pressure.”

    Ms Hathloul is one of five defendants in the case who continue to be detained. Three of the other women – Samar Badawi, Nassima al-Sada and Nouf Abdulaziz – reportedly also appeared in court on Wednesday.

  96. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Berlin is racing to open six mass vaccination centres capable of handling up to 4,000 people per day by mid-December, the project coordinator told Reuters on Thursday, as the city waits for authorities to approve the first vaccines.

    An empty trade fair hall, two airport terminals, a concert arena, a velodrome and an ice rink will be turned into six vaccination centres where it plans to administer up to 900,000 shots against the coronavirus in the first three months.

    Albrecht Broemme said plans envisage 3,000 to 4,000 people per day being ferried through each centre in the same way as shoppers are guided through IKEA stores in one direction.

    “The biggest challenge will be succeeding in getting the right people at the right time at the right vaccination centre,” Broemme said on the sidelines of a fire drill at the city’s makeshift Covid-19 hospital in a trade fair hall.

    Germany appears to be the furthest ahead of European nations in its planning for the daunting logistical and administrative challenge that could be just a few weeks away if the first vaccines gain approval.

    Europe’s drug watchdog expects to receive the first application for conditional marketing approval for a Covid-19 vaccine “in the coming days”, it said on Thursday, the latest step towards making a shot available outside the United States.

    Broemme said Berlin is working on the assumption that around 80% of its doses in the first instance will come from Pfizer / BioNTech with the remaining 20% of the doses from AstraZeneca.

    The health minister Jens Spahn said Germany has secured around 300 million vaccine doses. Other German states have said vaccination centres will be ready from mid-December and mobile teams will inoculate the most vulnerable.

    Mass vaccination against Covid-19 is unlikely to start in Africa until midway through next year and keeping vaccines cold could be a big challenge, the continent’s disease control group said on Thursday.

    Some European countries expect to start rolling out vaccination campaigns as early as January.

    But health campaigners are worried that Africa will find itself near the back of the queue for Covid-19 vaccines after wealthier nations signed a raft of bilateral vaccine supply deals with pharmaceutical companies.

    “We are very concerned as a continent that we will not have access to vaccines in a timely fashion,” said John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, an African Union agency.

  97. tomh says

    NYT:
    Trump’s Pardon of Flynn Signals Prospect of a Wave in His Final Weeks in Office
    By Kenneth P. Vogel and Eric Lipton
    Nov. 25, 2020

    … bolstered the hopes of a wide array of clemency seekers that he might deliver a wave of pardons and commutations before leaving office. Among the others looking for pardons are two former Trump campaign advisers, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos…

    But lawyers and others who have been in touch with the White House say they anticipate that Mr. Trump will use his authority in cases that extend beyond those involving the special counsel’s inquiry and the lengthy cast of aides and associates who have gotten in legal trouble since he first ran for the presidency.

    Alan Dershowitz, the law professor who represented Mr. Trump during his impeachment trial, is advising two of his clients — a New Jersey man serving more than 20 years for defrauding investors, and a billionaire businessman convicted in what’s been called “one of North Carolina’s worst government corruption scandals” — on whether to seek clemency…

    The end of any presidential administration is a time for intense lobbying related to pardons.

    But in Mr. Trump’s case, it extends to his own personal and political considerations, his lingering bitterness over the Russia inquiry and his transactional approach to governing…

  98. says

    David Begnaud, CBS:

    WATCH: West Virginia’s Republican Governor: I had many people calling saying to me we want to be like South Dakota, we want to be S.D.. Well, I don’t wanna be S.D. I don’t want to be S.D. and this is probably the most accurate thing that I think you could see about S.D.:…

    The governor of West Virginia went out of his way to mention Brookings S.D. which we reported on b/c Brookings has some of the lowest infection rates in the state. They also have implemented a mask mandate and have occupancy limits for businesses.

    West Virginia’s GOP Governor – who implemented a statewide mask mandate – then told his residents I’m NOT trying to take any of your rights away, but I don’t have bullets left in the gun.

    Video atl. “You gotta help me right now. Please, please help me.”

    Meanwhile (CNN link),

    President Donald Trump’s annual Thanksgiving proclamation calls for Americans to “gather” for the holiday, even though federal public health officials have explicitly warned against it.

    The final line of the proclamation, issued by the White House press secretary’s office Wednesday evening, reads: “I encourage all Americans to gather, in homes and places of worship, to offer a prayer of thanks to God for our many blessings.”

    Public health experts are warning that Thanksgiving could be “the mother of all superspreader events.” And the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends against traveling for Thanksgiving as a means to preventing further spread of the coronavirus.

    Coronavirus cases are surging, and public health officials warn that family gatherings like Thanksgiving, which are often indoors and multi-generational, could put vulnerable people at risk.

  99. says

    More re the Kraken filing:

    I’m reading Sidney Powell’s much-hyped “kraken” legal filing. So far, she misspells her key expert’s name twice — his name is William Briggs, she calls him “Williams Briggs” and “William Higgs.”

    These are the first lines of Sidney Powell’s “kraken” lawsuit that Trump supporters have been claiming would save his presidency, not looking great. The rest is just rehashed witness affidavits, including one that claims the ballot paper was suspiciously clean.

    A key part of Sidney Powell’s Michigan kraken lawsuit relies on a guy who claims he infiltrated an antifa conference call about rigging the election. Sounds believable!

  100. says

    Carol Leonnig:

    NEW…”It’s an admission of wrongdoing, for sure.”
    @NRA makes stunning declaration that Wayne LaPierre and other officers used NRA funds for personal benefit and enrichment? after years of saying such claims were bogus.
    Me and @bethreinhard

    WaPo link atl.

  101. says

    Brian Beutler:

    Here’s a glimpse into a very long future: A dissent so irrefutable the majority should be embarrassed, but the majority has five votes even without John Roberts and they will lift a collective middle finger at suffering Americans and those trying to make things better.

    NY should vindicate both public health and its own legitimate power over the corrupt court by reissuing regs to apply generally across comparable gathering places, stripping houses of worship of the favorable treatment the Gorsuch Five used as pretext to wage deadly culture war.

  102. says

    KG @128, funny! I agree.

    The contrast between the Trump clown show and the Biden/Harris introduction of newly-chosen cabinet members was as stark as it could be.

  103. says

    Amy Coney Barrett helped to block New York’s limits on human occupancy in houses of worship. That was, I think, her first SCOTUS vote. She voted to put religious worshippers in more danger of getting and of spreading COVID-19.

    […] The Diocese of Brooklyn and Agudath Israel of America have churches and synagogues in areas of Brooklyn and Queens previously designated red and orange zones. In those red and orange zones, the state had capped attendance at houses of worship at 10 and 25 people, respectively. But the those particular areas are now designated as yellow zones with less restrictive rules neither group challenged.

    The justices acted on an emergency basis, temporarily barring New York from enforcing the restrictions against the groups while their lawsuits continue. In an unsigned opinion the court said the restrictions “single out houses of worship for especially harsh treatment.”

    “Members of this Court are not public health experts, and we should respect the judgment of those with special expertise and responsibility in this area. But even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten. The restrictions at issue here, by effectively barring many from attending religious services, strike at the very heart of the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty,” the opinion said.

    The opinion noted that in red zones, while a synagogue or church cannot admit more than 10 people, businesses deemed “essential,” from grocery stores to pet shops, can remain open without capacity limits. And in orange zones, while synagogues and churches are capped at 25 people, “even non-essential businesses may decide for themselves how many persons to admit.”

    Roberts, in dissent, wrote that there was “simply no need” for the court’s action. “None of the houses of worship identified in the applications is now subject to any fixed numerical restrictions,” he said, adding that New York’s 10 and 25 person caps “do seem unduly restrictive.”

    “The Governor might reinstate the restrictions. But he also might not. And it is a significant matter to override determinations made by public health officials concerning what is necessary for public safety in the midst of a deadly pandemic,” he wrote.

    Roberts and four other justices wrote separately to explain their views. Barrett did not. […]

    Link

    From comments posted by readers of the TPM article:

    In a statement, COVID-19 thanked the Supreme Court for allowing it to roam freely and infect even more people than it already has. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/26/us/supreme-court-coronavirus-religion-new-york.html
    ———————-
    So the rights of the non-religious people they will infect mean nothing? The first amendment is now a suicide-murder pact?
    ———————
    The NYC measures are not restrictions. They’re precautions. Their purpose is not to restrict religious expression but to keep folks alive so they can pursue those religious beliefs in the future.

    These folks don’t just pray 27/7. They go shopping, walk down the streets, use public transportation like all of us. They mingle with us. This decision motivated entirely by religious extremist beliefs doesn’t jeopardize just those that seek COVID in a church. It reaches all of us. It threatens our lives not just theirs. I see Barrett is living up to what we knew she was and not the crap she presented herself to be. She’s going to kill people.

  104. tomh says

    Lynna @142
    Without a doubt. The Times article hinted at it with the code words “his transactional approach.”

  105. says

    Trump Races to Weaken Environmental and Worker Protections, and Implement Other Last-Minute Policies, Before Jan. 20

    The Trump administration is rushing to approve dozens of eleventh-hour policy changes. Among them: The Justice Department is fast-tracking a rule that could reintroduce firing squads and electrocutions to federal executions.

    Six days after […] Trump lost his bid for reelection, the U.S. Department of Agriculture notified food safety groups that it was proposing a regulatory change to speed up chicken factory processing lines, a change that would allow companies to sell more birds. An earlier USDA effort had broken down on concerns that it could lead to more worker injuries and make it harder to stop germs like salmonella.

    […] Even as Trump and his allies officially refuse to concede the Nov. 3 election, the White House and federal agencies are hurrying to finish dozens of regulatory changes before Joe Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20. […] They impact everyone from the most powerful, such as oil drillers, drugmakers and tech startups, to the most vulnerable, such as families on food stamps, transgender people in homeless shelters, migrant workers and endangered species.

    […] solidifying conservative policy objectives that will make it harder for the Biden administration to advance its own agenda […]

    “The bottom line is the Trump administration is trying to get things published in the Federal Register, leaving the next administration to sort out the mess,” […] “There are some real roadblocks to Biden being able to wave a magic wand on these.”

    […] slapdash rules may contain errors, making them more vulnerable to getting struck down in court.

    […] Many of the last-minute changes would add to the heap of changes throughout the Trump administration to pare back Obama-era rules and loosen environmental and consumer protections, all in the name of shrinking the government’s role in the economy. […] Brian Harrison, the chief of staff for the Department of Health and Human Services, […] was unveiling a new proposal to automatically purge regulations that are more than 10 years old unless the agency decides to keep them.

    […] Easier to Pollute, Harder to Immigrate

    One proposal has raced through the process with little notice but unusual speed — and deadly consequences. This rule could reintroduce firing squads and electrocutions for federal executions, giving the government more options for administering capital punishment as drugs used in lethal injections become unavailable. The Justice Department surfaced the proposal in August and accepted public comments for only 30 days, instead of the usual 60. The rule cleared White House review on Nov. 6, meaning it could be finalized any day. […]

    Once finalized, this rule might never be put into practice. The Trump administration executed a federal prisoner in Indiana on Nov. 19 and plans five more executions before Jan. 20, all with lethal injections. After that, Biden has signaled he won’t allow any federal executions and will push to eliminate capital punishment for federal crimes.

    […] the Environmental Protection Agency is on the cusp of finalizing several rules that would make it harder to justify pollution restrictions or lock in soot levels for at least five years. The agency wants to keep the soot standard unchanged over the objections of independent scientific advisers and despite emerging evidence that links particulate pollution to additional coronavirus deaths.

    […] The White House is close to completing severalrules that would extend Trump’s record of restricting immigration and make the changes harder for the Biden administration to reverse. The pending rules would make it more difficult to claim asylum by excluding people with criminal convictions (even those that have been expunged), drastically shortening the application time and giving immigration judges more latitude to pick and choose what evidence to consider. […]

    the departments of Homeland Security and Labor unveiled regulations to raise wage and education requirements for H-1B visas, which are often used in the information-technology industry. (The proposal drew opposition from theSmall Business Administration, saying the higher costs would stifle innovation and growth.) But while raising the wage scale for skilled immigrants, the administration is pushing a different new rule to lower wages for “low-skilled” immigrant farmworkers. […]

    Other rules are more clearly accommodating powerful business interests. A rule completed on Nov. 13 would restrict pension managers from considering social and environmental impacts (known in the industry as ESG) when choosing investments. Another Labor Department rule would make it easier for companies like Uber to withhold benefits by classifying workers as independent contractors instead of full employees. […]

    Chicken Plants on the Fast Track
    […] The rules change has the support of the National Chicken Council, an industry trade group, which argues that the timing is not political. […]

    The USDA has been laying the groundwork for the rule change for years. Even though safety concerns scuttled the USDA’s previous attempt to raise speeds from 140 birds per minute to 175, in 2018 the agency started granting one-off waivers to individual plants that sought permission to run faster.

    […] The USDA funded the study through a no-bid contract worth up to $500,000 awarded in 2018 to Louis Anthony “Tony” Cox Jr., a statistician who consults for business interests such as the American Petroleum Institute and the American Chemistry Council […]

    […] Other evidence, however, suggests faster speeds could make chicken less safe to eat. In a September article in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science, USDA researcher Jeremy Marchant-Forde and a co-author found that USDA inspectors threw out record-low amounts of chicken when the agency let more plants speed up since May. The authors called this “a major threat to public health” to the extent it suggests inspectors were failing to find contaminated carcasses (rather than the birds having suddenly become much cleaner). […]

    While the food safety issues are debated, there’s already clearevidence that running faster lines poses higher worker risks, both repetitive strain injuries like carpal tunnel and traumatic injuries like cuts and amputations. But the USDA maintains that it is responsible only for food safety; worker safety is the job of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

    That’s exactly the kind of interagency dialogue that the White House is supposed to coordinate when planning new regulations […]

    Leasing Against the Clock
    […] The Trump administration is also pressing ahead with opening up more federal lands to oil and gas development, despite low prices, sluggish demand and complaints from environmental groups that drilling would encroach on wildlife habitats and national parks. Bids are starting at just $2 an acre for more than 445,000 acres of public land with leases for sale to energy companies […]

    An Interior Department spokesman said the agency is taking “a significant step” to implement Congress’ direction in the 2017 Republican tax bill to start drilling in ANWR. “The department will continue to implement President Trump’s agenda […]

    […] once leases are issued, companies need permits and authorizations before actually taking action on the ground, […] groups are already suing to block the Arctic drilling program as a whole. […]

  106. tomh says

    Finally, some good news!

    Trump’s conspiracies have MAGA world talking Georgia boycott
    By TINA NGUYEN and JAMES ARKIN
    11/26/2020

    President Donald Trump’s demonization of mail-in voting may have cost him votes in the recent election. Now, his demonization of Georgia’s entire electoral system is hurting his party’s chances at keeping the Senate.

    Driven by Trump’s insistence that Georgia’s elections are indelibly rife with fraud, conspiratorial MAGA figures are calling for a boycott of the two Senate runoff races, slated for Jan. 5, that will determine which party controls the upper chamber.

    Their reason: The two GOP candidates, Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, are not only insufficiently pro-Trump, they may be complicit in Georgia’s electoral fraud.

    On Twitter and its less-restrictive alternative Parler, Trump’s more hardline followers have linked the duo to the president’s favorite — and untrue — voter-fraud theories. Hashtags like #CrookedPerdue and #CrookedKelly are flying around. The two lawmakers’ Parler accounts are brimming with posts accusing them of being secret “liberal DemoRats.”
    […]

    I vote for spreading this theory far and wide.

  107. says

    From The Washington Post: “Fact-checking Trump’s cellphone rant of election falsehoods”

    […] The presidential rant lasted less than 10 minutes, but Trump still managed to squeeze in at least 15 false or misleading statements. Here’s a rundown of his falsehoods.

    “This was an election that we won easily. … This election was rigged, and we can’t let that happen. We can’t let it happen for our country. … This election was lost by the Democrats. They cheated. It was a fraudulent election.”

    Trump lost decisively, with Biden earning 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. That’s the same margin that Trump had when he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016, in what he repeatedly called a “landslide.” Many key swing states have already certified the results, with Biden’s margin of victory in some key states significantly higher than Trump’s margin four years ago. For instance, Biden won Michigan by more than 150,000 votes, compared with Trump’s margin of about 11,000 in 2016.

    “We won Pennsylvania by a lot, and we won all of these swing states by a lot.”

    Again, Biden’s margin of victory in Pennsylvania — more than 80,000 votes — was almost twice as wide as Trump’s margin in 2016.

    “I was called by the biggest political people, ‘Congratulations, sir, on a big win.’ And all of a sudden ballots were dumped all over the place.”

    Regular readers know that Trump’s use of the word “sir” is a tell that he’s probably recounting an invented conversation. The “biggest political people” all knew that in several key states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, absentee ballots would be reported later because state rules would not allow pre-canvassing of absentee or mail-in ballots before Election Day.

    “We have poll watcher affidavits piled up to the ceiling. They’re all over. They were treated horribly all over this. … The poll watchers weren’t allowed to watch. They were, in many cases, whisked out of the room, not only in pens that were 20, 30, 40, 60, 100 feet away where you couldn’t even see.”

    Affidavits can be offered as evidence but they are not established as fact until a judge or jury decides they are facts. In virtually all cases, the affidavits submitted by the Trump campaign and its allies have been dismissed by judges as failing to demonstrate serious fraud. Many simply reported complaints about rude behavior or unpleasant looks from poll workers or Democratic poll watchers. In other words, Trump keeps repeating claims that have already been rejected in court. […]

    “If you were a Republican poll watcher, you were treated like a dog. And the Democrats had no problem. But they were rough. They were literally pushed out. And it was rough tactics.”

    Trump’s legal team has failed to prove this. In Michigan, Politico reported, even as the state Republican chair tweeted that GOP poll watchers were being blocked from entering the TCF Center in Detroit, where absentee ballots were being counted, “at the time of her tweet, several hundred of her party’s poll challengers, attorneys and representatives were already inside the TCF Center monitoring the count.”

    “We have many, many cases, many, many cases of people walking in. A woman, an elderly woman, walks in looking forward to voting November 3rd and says, ‘Oh, good, where would I go about voting?’ ‘I’m sorry, you’ve already voted. Your ballot is in.’ She said, ‘No, I didn’t vote.’ ‘No, your ballot is in. You’ve already voted.’ In all cases for Biden, by the way … and then they gave her a provisional ballot to sign, which goes nowhere.”

    This is another fairy tale. Trump’s chief lawyer, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, has suggested that 17,000 provisional ballots were cast in Pittsburgh because Democrats had already cast fraudulent ballots on behalf of someone who unexpectedly turned up to vote. But there is no evidence that is the case; instead, there were a variety of issues, such as a missing signature on a form, that cause a provisional ballot to be used.

    “We won this election by a lot. We got 74 million votes.”

    Trump may have received almost 74 million votes — but Biden has earned more than 80 million. That’s a margin of nearly 4 percent, and the gap is expected to keep growing as votes are still being counted in New York and California, two Biden strongholds. Biden’s margin in the popular vote is now larger than Barack Obama’s victory in 2012 and George W. Bush’s victory in 2004.

    “We got many votes more than Ronald Reagan had when he won 49 states.”

    This is a dumb comparison. The U.S. population is now almost 40 percent larger than in 1984, when Reagan defeated Walter Mondale. The voter turnout was also higher in 2020 than in 1984.

    “All you have to do is take a look at the numbers at 10 o’clock in the evening, when everybody thought the election was virtually over. And very weird things happen. But they’re not weird to professionals, and they’re not weird to Dominion and other people that operate machines.”

    Here, Trump slips in a reference to the debunked conspiracy theory that emerged from the fever swaps of the Internet. Dominion Voting Systems, which makes voting machines that local governments use to help run their elections, was founded in Canada but now effectively has its headquarters in Denver. Trump’s allies have falsely claimed the Dominion machines are under the control of software made by a company linked to the Venezuelan government that is designed to change election results.

    That’s all nonsense, but it’s still jarring to see a president embrace such fantasies as plausible.

    “They’re not weird to the people that handle the ballots where they were flooding the market. People were getting two and three and four ballots in their home.”

    Trump continues to baselessly malign mail-in voting. It’s illegal to vote more than once in an election, and in some states, it’s a felony. […]

    “People that were dead were signing up for ballots. Not only were they coming in and putting in a ballot, but then people were requesting ballots, and they were dead for years, and they were requesting valid ballots.”

    The Trump campaign has been repeatedly caught making false allegations that dead people had voted, but that has not stopped Trump from repeating the claim. In one case, the widow of a deceased man had cast her ballot with a “Mrs.” prefix before her husband’s name, a style that went out of fashion in the 1970s. In another case, a dead person did not vote but someone with a very similar name had voted legally. Other alleged cases of dead voters also did not pan out.

    “We have judges that are afraid to make a decision. … Why wouldn’t they overturn an election?”

    Judges in numerous states have repeatedly made decisions, dismissing Trump’s claims as unproven or fiction. […] the president’s slapdash legal effort has further undermined his case. […]

    “You look at the things that happened in Detroit, where you have a voter, but you have more votes than you have voters.”

    This is false. There were more registered voters than actual voters. Trump appears to be referring to a debunked claim about over-votes of as much as 300 percent in some precincts in Wayne County. That was based on an affidavit filed in a since-dismissed case that bizarrely mixed up Michigan and Minnesota […] Moreover, the number of voters matched the number of votes cast in those precincts. […]

    “They went absolutely wild because we got far more votes than they thought possible. And they’ve just stepped on the gas, and they got caught, just like they got caught spying on my campaign.”

    [Trump] here is channeling the deranged theory offered by Sidney Powell — who was fired from the president’s legal team — that an “algorithm” in Dominion machines manipulated by Democrats switched votes from Trump to Biden.

    […] none of this happened, just as [Trump’s] claims that Obama spied on his campaign have remained firmly in the realm of fantasy. […]

    Four Pinocchios

    Link

  108. says

    “From Australia, this looks like a mindbogglingly dangerous chapter in the out-of-control American COVID-19 story,” Ian Mackay, an associate professor of virology at the University of Queensland, wrote in an email. “Sadly, for some, this will be a Thanksgiving that is remembered for all the wrong reasons.”

    […] Yap Boum, a Cameroonian epidemiologist and regional representative for Epicenter Africa, the research arm of Doctors Without Borders, said the willingness of some Americans to risk their and their family’s health to gather for a single day has left him befuddled.

    “From my perspective, I found it really crazy,” he said of large numbers of Americans choosing to travel for Thanksgiving. “On one hand, you see the people dying, on the other hand … you see that the vaccine is close. Why can’t you wait despite, of course … the mental challenge?”

    […] “No nation suffers as much from corona as America — and yet in a few days a large part of the population here will meet to celebrate,” a U.S. correspondent for Germany’s Die Welt newspaper wrote this week.

    “Like mask-wearing, Thanksgiving has become another front in the country’s partisan left- and right-wing culture wars,” the Sydney Morning Herald observed.

    Noting that many people were still planning to travel by air this week, London-based journalist James Ball tweeted that the United States was in “absolutely deadly, delusional denial about Coronavirus.”

    “It goes well, well beyond Trump,” added Ball, who works as an editor at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. […]

    Washington Post link

  109. says

    From The Washington Post editorial board:

    […] year after year, Americans wondered when Donald Trump would change. But winning primaries, claiming the GOP nomination, taking the White House and being president did not snap him out of a lifelong habit of indecency. It was too much to imagine that losing his reelection bid would bring a change of character. […] Trump is leaving the White House just as he entered it: a total disgrace.

    [Trump] pardoned Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser, on Wednesday, the afternoon before Thanksgiving. Mr. Flynn freely pleaded guilty to lying to FBI investigators, […] “I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong, and, through my faith in God, I am working to set things right,” Mr. Flynn said then. “I accept full responsibility for my actions.” But then he took it all back.

    Mr. Flynn switched lawyers, hiring Sidney Powell — yes, the same Sidney Powell who last week alleged a vast international communist plot to flip the 2020 presidential election to President-elect Joe Biden — and insisted that he was the victim of FBI manipulation. […] Finally, Attorney General William P. Barr bailed out Mr. Flynn, moving to drop the case against the former Trump staffer, despite his previous guilty plea.

    Mr. Flynn’s judge balked, igniting a debate about whether he could stop the Justice Department from showing such obvious favoritism for one of the president’s friends based on legal reasoning the department rejected in other cases. A former federal judge hired to advise the court found Mr. Barr’s justifications “an unconvincing effort to disguise as legitimate a decision to dismiss that is based solely on the fact that Flynn is a political ally of President Trump.” No matter: Now the case is closed. Mr. Trump steamrolled the facts and debate, deploying one of the least reviewable powers of his office — his pardon authority — to officially end the Flynn drama. He enabled an admitted felon to walk free solely because he was a loyal Trumpist.

    […] Guilty is innocent; lies are truth; traitors are patriots. The question is not whether Mr. Trump has degraded the presidency. The question is how much long-term damage he has done. Will future presidents now feel free to use the pardon power — or the other vast powers of office — with such nakedly crooked motives? How many will calculate that they can make corruption appear to be patriotism as long as enough of the country wants to believe the lies they tell?

  110. says

    From Elizabeth Warren:

    Millions of people in Massachusetts and across the country are going hungry this Thanksgiving because Senator Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans have sat on their hands for months instead of helping struggling families in this crisis. It’s shameful. Congress needs to act immediately to increase SNAP benefits and make it easier for people to enroll so that none of our neighbors have to worry about where their next meal will come from during this pandemic.

    Also From Elizabeth Warren:

    Secretary Mnuchin’s COVID-19 response has been a corrupt and incompetent failure. He needs to stop sabotaging the Biden administration from cleaning up his mess and helping states, cities, and small businesses.

    Bloomberg News link to “Mnuchin Plans to Put $455 Billion Beyond Yellen’s Easy Reach.”

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will put $455 billion in unspent Cares Act funding into an account that his presumed successor, former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, will soon need authorization from Congress to use.

    The money will be placed in the agency’s General Fund, a Treasury Department spokesperson said Tuesday. Most of it had gone to support Federal Reserve emergency-lending facilities, and Mnuchin’s clawback would make it impossible for Yellen as Treasury secretary to restore for that purpose without lawmakers’ blessing.

    Democrats swiftly criticized the move, with Bharat Ramamurti, a member of the congressionally appointed watchdog panel overseeing Fed and Treasury Covid-19 relief funds, saying “the good news is that it’s illegal and can be reversed next year.”

  111. says

    Here’s a link to the November 27 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has said he will not take a coronavirus vaccine, the latest in a series of statements he has made expressing skepticism toward coronavirus vaccination programs. “I’m telling you, I’m not going to take it. It’s my right.”

    South Korea’s intelligence agency foiled North Korean attempts to hack into South Korean companies developing coronavirus vaccines, a member of a parliamentary intelligence committee was quoted as saying. It follows revelations last week, that hackers working for the Russian and North Korean governments have tried to break into the networks of seven pharmaceutical companies and vaccine researchers in South Korea, Canada, France, India and the United States.

    South Korea was seen as a model of how to clamp down on the coronavirus through measures such as aggressive contact tracing. But a third wave is under way in the country and it is being driven by people who do not have any symptoms, making the disease much more difficult to track.

    South Korea reported 569 new cases in the 24 hours ending Thursday midnight, a level unseen in nearly nine months, Reuters reports.

    Young people are at the centre of the surge and health authorities estimate that asymptomatic patients – those who do not show any of the typical Covid symptoms such as a persistent cough, high temperature or loss of taste and smell – now account for 40% of total infections, up sharply from 20-30% in June.

    That compares with research suggesting about one in five infected people in general will experience no symptoms.

    Authorities introduced tougher social distancing measures this week to contain transmission and encouraged people to get tested, yet cold weather is driving more people to meet inside.

    The UK communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, has insisted there is a prospect of some areas in England “de-escalating” from a higher to a lower tier of coronavirus measures before Christmas, despite scientists warning that the 16 December review will be too soon to make changes.

    Many Conservative MPs reacted with anger after the UK government announced that 99% of the population in England would be placed under the top two tightest levels of restriction – tiers 2 and 3 – when the nationwide lockdown ends next week.

    With suggestions that up to 70 Tory backbenchers are considering rebelling when the rules come to the House of Commons next Tuesday, Jenrick was keen to hold out the prospect of an early shift towards looser rules if compliance is high.

    “There will be a review point every 14 days – so on the 16 or 17 December there will be an opportunity for those parts of the country where the judgment was finely balanced to potentially de-escalate from tier 3 to tier 2, and tier 2 to tier 1,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

  112. says

    Guardian – “‘Mini desk. Tiny hands. Small soul’: Trump mocked for giving speech at little table”:

    For a US president obsessed by size – his hands, his wealth, his crowds – Donald Trump made something of a bold U-turn on Thursday night by addressing the country from a desk seemingly designed for a leprechaun.

    Trump said on Thursday he would leave the White House if the electoral college votes for the Democratic president-elect, Joe Biden – the closest he has come to admitting defeat – but his furniture stole the limelight.

    While he harangued reporters and repeated unfounded allegations of electoral fraud, the internet zeroed in on his unusually small desk. Some called it symbolic of Trump’s diminished stature, some wondered if it was photoshopped (it wasn’t), most just laughed.

    The actor Mark Hamill tweeted: “Maybe if you behave yourself, stop lying to undermine a fair election & start thinking of what’s good for the country instead of whining about how unfairly you are treated, you’ll be invited to sit at the big boy’s table.”

    The hashtag #DiaperDon swiftly trended on Twitter, with people mocking the president as an infant banished to the children’s table for Thanksgiving.

    “Thought this pic was photoshopped, but nope, just hilariously symbolic! Mini desk. Tiny hands. Infinitesimally small soul,” tweeted Adam Lasnik.

    Trump later sent a blizzard of tweets accusing the media of misreporting his comments and Twitter of making up “negative stuff” for its trending section.

    Photos and more mocking tweets atl.

  113. says

    The Hill – “Pope Francis swipes at groups protesting COVID-19 restrictions in NYT op-ed”:

    Pope Francis on Thursday praised medical workers and criticized groups protesting COVID-19 restrictions in an op-ed published for The New York Times.

    In the article, his Holiness talked about the ways in which his own personal health crisis helped him to understand how science is used to help people recover.

    At 21, the pope had part of his lung was removed.

    According to Francis, two nurses — Cornelia and Micaela — helped him survive, adding that “They taught me what it is to use science but also to know when to go beyond it to meet particular needs. And the serious illness I lived through taught me to depend on the goodness and wisdom of others.”

    The pope lauded doctors and medical workers who continue to take care of the sick during the pandemic, stating that they understand that “it is better to live a shorter life serving others than a longer one resisting that call.”

    “That’s why, in many countries, people stood at their windows or on their doorsteps to applaud them in gratitude and awe. They are the saints next door, who have awakened something important in our hearts, making credible once more what we desire to instill by our preaching,” he added.

    However, the pope swiped at groups who have insisted that measures put in place to stem the spread of the pandemic are an attack on their personal freedoms.

    “Looking to the common good is much more than the sum of what is good for individuals. It means having a regard for all citizens and seeking to respond effectively to the needs of the least fortunate,” he writes.

    The pope echoed similar sentiments in a book ghost-written in English by his biographer Austen Ivereigh.

    “You’ll never find such people protesting the death of George Floyd, or joining a demonstration because there are shantytowns where children lack water or education… They turned into a cultural battle what was in truth an effort to ensure the protection of life,” he wrote.

  114. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The spread of the coronavirus virus around the world has slowed slightly this week, but is still rising fast in South America, according to data on the pandemic processed by AFP, the French state-backed news agency.

    While Europe remains the centre of the pandemic, with an average of 236,900 new case daily – far ahead of the US and Canada’s 174,000 a day – the rise in infections has slowed for the second week in a row they slid, falling back 10 percent with many countries in lockdown.

    But Europe is the only continent where new cases are clearly dropping, according to AFP.

    While infections are stable in the US and Canada, Africa and the Middle East, they are up a tenth in Latin America and the Caribbean and 13% in Asia.

    While there were only 24 new cases a day in Oceania, that was a rise of 64 percent on last week.

    The biggest increase in the spread was in Mexico, where infections were up 113% over the week to an average of 8,400 new cases a day.

    Turkey saw the world’s second biggest rise, up 76%, followed by Azerbaidjan (60% up) and Serbia (45%). Pakistan, Japan and South Africa all saw a 27% increase.

    The biggest falls were all in Europe, with France down nearly a half, Belgium down 37%, Switzerland down one third and Spain and the UK down around a quarter.

    All five countries have imposed lockdowns or very strict restrictions.

  115. tomh says

    If you can’t convince a Trump-appointed judge it’s time to give up.

    Court rejects Trump campaign’s appeal in Pennsylvania case
    Axios

    A federal appeals court on Friday unanimously rejected the Trump campaign’s emergency appeal seeking to file a new lawsuit against Pennsylvania’s election results, writing in a blistering ruling that the campaign’s “claims have no merit.”

    It’s another devastating blow to President Trump’s sinking efforts to overturn the results of the election. Pennsylvania, which President-elect Joe Biden won by more than 80,000 votes, certified its results last week and is expected to award 20 electoral votes to Biden on Dec. 12.

    “Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy. Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here,” Trump-appointed Judge Stephanos Bibas wrote in the Third Circuit Court of Appeal’s ruling.

  116. says

    Pierce @162, I had the same question. Coronavirus infections in the USA are not “stable,” they are rising. Very sloppy of The Guardian to report it that way.

    In other news, more responses to Trump’s “tiny table” appearance:

    Somebody lied to him several times.

    The ever-camera hungry President Donald Trump held Thanksgiving video teleconference call with members of the military in front of the press, and it was the first time Trump took questions from the media since his defeat on Election Day.

    Though the President peddled the same tired lies about the election results, he seemed to acknowledge reality, saying he’d “certainly” leave the White House if the Electoral College cemented President-elect Joe Biden’s decisive victory.

    But repeatedly getting challenged on his false claims got to be too much: At one point, Trump lashed out at Reuters correspondent Jeff Mason, shouting “You’re just a lightweight! Don’t talk to me that way! I’m the President of the United States! Don’t ever talk to the President that way!”

    And he did all that while sitting at an absurdly small desk, blissfully unaware of the wave of ridicule it would inevitably inspire […]

    Link

    See examples at the link.

  117. says

    Follow-up to 164.

    Awww, look what Trump got for Christmas: Fisher Price’s ‘I’m still President’ Miniature Desk Playset! So cute… 😊

  118. says

    The North Korean government under leader Kim Jong Un has ordered the execution of at least two people, locked down the capital of Pyongyang and implemented other measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, according to South Korean lawmakers who were briefed by members of the country’s intelligence agency.

    According to The Associated Press, lawmakers told reporters about the findings presented by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) in a private briefing.

    The lawmakers said that Kim is concerned about the economic impact the pandemic could pose, and has also ordered overseas diplomats to not engage in any actions that could provoke the United States amid the transition to President-elect Joe Biden.

    “We’ve been told that there have been orders to exercise utmost prudence in language,” lawmaker Kim Byung-kee told reporters, according to NPR.

    One of the lawmakers, Ha Tae-keung, quoted the NIS as saying Kim is displaying “excessive anger” and taking “irrational measures” over the pandemic and its economic impact, the AP reported.

    The NIS informed South Korean officials that those executed include a well-known money changer in Pyongyang. Kim reportedly blamed the person for North Korea’s falling exchange rate.

    The other is a key official who in August was found to be in violation of restrictions placed on goods coming from outside the country amid the pandemic.

    Kim also implemented a ban on fishing at sea to prevent seawater from being infected with the virus, according to the NIS. The government also reportedly placed a lockdown on the capital and the northern Jagang province to limit the spread of the coronavirus […]

    Link

  119. says

    Iraq fears Trump’s final weeks could see confrontation between U.S. and Iran.

    Washington Post link

    The Iraqi government is on edge as the Trump presidency enters its final weeks, fearing that a last-minute confrontation between the United States and Iran could erupt on Iraqi soil.

    Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is under pressure from U.S. officials to escalate his government’s crackdown on Iran-backed militias in Iraq, whose rockets have repeatedly targeted diplomatic and military sites used by Americans over the past year. […] Trump has now told his advisers he is prepared to order a devastating response if any Americans are killed in attacks attributed to Iran.

    With tensions running high, there are concerns here that provocative actions by either side could spark unintended conflict.

    “As a government, I think the Iraqis are just wishing they could close their eyes and have these two months fly by. The potential for escalation is high,” said Sajad Jiyad, an Iraq expert and fellow at the Century Foundation.

    Tensions in the region spiked further on Friday after a prominent Iranian nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was killed in an apparent targeted attack in Tehran. Iranian officials implicated Israel in the killing, raising the prospect that Iran or its proxies in the Middle East might retaliate against Western targets.

    Last week, a militia fired rockets toward the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone, breaching a month-old truce but causing no casualties among Americans or Iraqi security forces.

    […] After the Nov. 17 rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy, the influential Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah group denied involvement and said the truce was still in effect, highlighting apparent divisions in the militia camp and potential threats posed by factions that strike out on their own.

    “The fact that this scene is becoming more complicated means that danger is lurking everywhere,” said Jiyad.

    […] In calls to Kadhimi and Iraqi President Barham Salih in late September, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to shutter the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad unless militia rocket attacks were reined in. U.S. officials say that a plan for closing the embassy remains a live possibility, and administration officials have been instructed to prepare for various scenarios.

    While U.S. officials have advised Trump against a preemptive strike on Iran, according to a senior official, they say that Trump has described the killing of an American as a red line that would prompt immediate and “crushing” retaliation.

    […] The United States has repeatedly clashed with Iran and its allies on Iraqi territory. In early January, the U.S. killed senior Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a drone attack near Baghdad’s international airport. In retaliation, Iran fired ballistic missiles at bases hosting U.S. military personnel.

    Months later, the U.S. launched airstrikes on a site that is said was linked to Kataib Hezbollah, after blaming the militia for rocket attacks that killed a U.S. serviceman and two Britons on an Iraqi military base north of Baghdad. Citing inadequate intelligence, the British government declined to join that military action.

    No Westerners or Iraqi security personnel were killed in the rocket attack last week on the U.S. Embassy. Instead, an 18-year-old Iraqi woman was caught in the crossfire, struck by shrapnel outside a popular fairground. As the glowing Ferris wheel kept turning, eyewitnesses said, Zara Othman’s male companion begged for help from passing traffic. “I need a car, someone! She’s bleeding,” he shouts in a video from the night.

    “It was tragic to see them like that,” said Bahaa Husein, a street seller outside the park that evening. “It was just a quiet night before the rockets landed and suddenly we were trapped in someone else’s battle.”

  120. says

    Follow-up to comments 126 (tomh) and 145.

    […] The impact of [Amy Coney] Barrett’s arrival goes well beyond tying states’ hands in the fight against covid-19. Her vote will accelerate a trend toward deference to religious institutions that her fellow conservatives — including the chief justice — have been pursuing for a decade. Once upon a time, the court sought to balance the twin religion clauses of the First Amendment — separation of church and state on one hand and free exercise of religion on the other. More recently, its right wing has been all but ignoring the Constitution’s proscription against an establishment of religion while deferring to increasingly far-fetched religious-liberty claims.

    Barrett is likely to ramp up the court’s support for people and organizations that demand carve-outs from rules that the rest of society must follow. In recent years, the Supreme Court has let religious corporations off the hook from an Affordable Care Act requirement that employee health insurance include free contraception. It has bowed to religious nonprofits that refuse to even sign a form giving them an exemption from this mandate. It has expanded the “ministerial exemption” to federal anti-discrimination claims for religious-school teachers. And it told a Christian baker he did not need to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, despite the state’s protections for LGBT customers.

    Now the court seems bound to favor religion even more heavily. The wedding-cake decision was a narrow ruling based on specific evidence of anti-religious hostility from a state civil rights commissioner; the justices did not grapple with the more fundamental tensions between anti-discrimination law and religious prerogatives. But earlier this month, the court considered whether Philadelphia can be forced to work with a Catholic social services agency that rejects same-sex couples as foster parents. This case tees up a reconsideration of Employment Division v. Smith, a 1990 case written by Antonin Scalia holding that neutral laws that apply equally to all do not violate the Constitution, even if they have an incidental impact on religious exercise.

    This shift is bringing with it a notable testiness among the justices. In his concurring opinion in the New York case, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch took aim at Roberts and the liberal dissenters, accusing them of sending the Constitution on “a holiday during this pandemic.” Roberts swatted back with his customary restraint: The dissenters, he wrote, “simply view the matter differently after careful study and analysis reflecting their best efforts to fulfill their responsibility under the Constitution.”

    This is not the first time we have seen tensions between Roberts, who strives to tamp down the court’s perceived politicization, and the justices to his right. But Gorsuch’s bombast — and the uncommonly partisan and recrimination-filled speech Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. delivered to the Federalist Society this month — carries a disturbing air of triumphalism. With Barrett’s arrival, the court’s staunchest conservatives have something to give thanks for: a five-vote majority that does not rely on the chief’s assent.

    Washington Post link

  121. tomh says

    NYT:
    E.P.A.’s Final Deregulatory Rush Runs Into Open Staff Resistance
    By Lisa Friedman, Nov. 27, 2020

    WASHINGTON — President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency was rushing to complete one of its last regulatory priorities, aiming to obstruct the creation of air- and water-pollution controls far into the future, when a senior career scientist moved to hobble it.

    Thomas Sinks directed the E.P.A.’s science advisory office and later managed the agency’s rules and data around research that involved people. Before his retirement in September, he decided to issue a blistering official opinion that the pending rule — which would require the agency to ignore or downgrade any medical research that does not expose its raw data — will compromise American public health…

    The filing of a “dissenting scientific opinion” is an unusual move; it signals that Andrew Wheeler, the administrator of the E.P.A., and his politically appointed deputies did not listen to the objections of career scientists in developing the regulation. More critically, by entering the critique as part of the official Trump administration record on the new rule, Dr. Sinks’s dissent will offer Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s E.P.A. administrator a powerful weapon to repeal the so-called “secret science” policy.

    E.P.A. career employees this month also quietly emailed out the results of a new study concluding that the owners of half a million diesel pickup trucks had illegally removed their emissions control technology, leading to huge increases in air pollution…

    Current and former E.P.A. staff and advisers close to the transition said Mr. Biden’s team has focused on preparing a rapid assault on the Trump administration’s deregulatory legacy and re-establishing air and water protections and methane emissions controls.

    “They are focused like a laser on what I call the ‘Humpty Dumpty approach,’ which is putting the agency back together again,” said Judith Enck, a former E.P.A. regional administrator who served in the Obama administration.

    There are plans to revamp scientific advisory boards that Mr. Wheeler and his predecessor, Scott Pruitt, had stacked with allies of private industry and purged of many academic scientists…

    Racing against those efforts is Mr. Wheeler, who has a long list of priorities that aides and confidants said he is determined to complete before Inauguration Day on Jan. 20. He has also maneuvered legally to erect time-consuming hurdles that Mr. Biden will have to clear to unwind some Trump administration policies.

    At the top of Mr. Wheeler’s to-do list is finalizing the science rule, officially called “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science.”

    Under it, the agency would have to dismiss or give less weight to scientific studies that fail to release all their raw data to the public…

    But thousands of medical and scientific organizations say the plan would cripple the E.P.A.’s ability to create new air and water protections because people who participate in epidemiological or long-term health studies that examine exposure to toxins typically take part only if their personal health information is kept private.

    Thomas A. Burke, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who served as E.P.A. science adviser in the Obama administration… called the rule “a very thinly-veiled dream rule for polluters.”

  122. tomh says

    Trump moves to strip job protections from White House budget analysts as he races to transform civil service
    By Lisa Rein
    November 27, 2020

    The outgoing Trump administration is racing to enact the biggest change to the federal civil service in generations, reclassifying career employees at key agencies to strip their job protections and leave them open to being fired before Joe Biden takes office.

    The move to pull off an executive order the president issued less than two weeks before Election Day — affecting tens of thousands of people in policy roles — is accelerating at the agency closest to the White House, the Office of Management and Budget.

    The employees would then be vulnerable to dismissal before Trump leaves office if they are considered poor performers or have resisted executing the president’s priorities, effectively turning them into political appointees that come and go with each administration.

    The Office of Personnel Management is also rushing to shuffle many of its own roughly 3,500 employees into the new category, a senior administration official said. Other agencies are pulling together lists of policy roles, too — but the budget and personnel offices volunteered to be test cases for the controversial policy, this official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal administration deliberations…

    The phrase “Salt the Earth” comes to mind.

  123. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz:

    In a series of blistering tweets, Donald J. Trump ripped President-elect Joe Biden for choosing Cabinet members woefully lacking in reality-show experience.

    Calling the Cabinet picks a “bunch of losers who have spent their lives working at desks,” Trump questioned the team’s preparedness to take on the challenges presented by today’s complex reality-show landscape.

    “These people have never earned an immunity idol, presided over a rose ceremony, or danced with a star,” Trump said. “This is the best Sleepy Joe could do?”

    He saved his most withering criticism for Janet Yellen, Biden’s pick for Treasury Secretary. “If Joe really wanted a woman for this position, why didn’t he choose one of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills?” Trump asked. “They know a lot more about money than this clown.”

    Leaving aside Biden’s failure to pack his Cabinet with experienced reality-show participants, Trump was baffled by his successor’s decision to bypass other highly talented candidates. “Ivanka, Jared, Eric, and Don, Jr., are all looking for jobs,” he said.

    New Yorker link

  124. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Milwaukee County Recount complete.

    A recount in Wisconsin’s largest county demanded by Republican President Donald Trump’s election campaign ended Friday with Democratic President-elect Joe Biden gaining votes.

    After the recount in Milwaukee County, Biden had a net gain of 132 votes, out of nearly 460,000 cast. Overall, Biden gained 257 votes to Trump’s 125.

    Trump’s campaign had demanded recounts in two of Wisconsin’s most populous and Democratic-leaning counties, after losing Wisconsin to Biden by over 20,000 votes. The two recounts will cost the Trump campaign $3 million. Dane County is expected to finish its recount on Sunday.

  125. tomh says

    Trump administration moves ahead on gutting bird protections
    The Trump administration is moving forward on gutting a longstanding federal protection for roughly 1,000 species of birds in the United States
    By ELLEN KNICKMEYER and MATTHEW BROWN Associated Press
    November 27, 2020, 9:53 AM

    The Trump administration moved forward Friday on gutting a longstanding federal protection for the nation’s birds, over objections from former federal officials and many scientists that billions more birds will likely perish as a result.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published its take on the proposed rollback in the Federal Register. It’s a final step that means the change — greatly limiting federal authority to prosecute industries for practices that kill migratory birds — could be made official within 30 days.

    The wildlife service acknowledged in its findings that the rollback would have a “negative” effect on the many bird species covered by the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which range from hawks and eagles to seabirds, storks, songbirds and sparrows…

    The administration has continued to push the migratory bird regulation even after a federal judge in New York in August rejected the administration’s legal rationale…

    Trump was “in a frenzy to finalize his bird-killer policy,” David Yarnold, president of the National Audubon Society, said in a statement Friday…

    It’s part of a flurry of last-minute changes under the outgoing administration benefiting industry. Others would expand Arctic drilling, favor development over habitat protections for imperiled species and potentially hamstring future regulation of environmental and public health threats, among other rollbacks.

  126. lumipuna says

    Re satire at 173:

    Leaving aside Biden’s failure to pack his Cabinet with experienced reality-show participants, Trump was baffled by his successor’s decision to bypass other highly talented candidates. “Ivanka, Jared, Eric, and Don, Jr., are all looking for jobs,” he said.

    “What these candidates lack in reality-show experience, they make up in natural born talent for attracting nepotistic favoritism.”

  127. says

    lumina @176, funny. Taking advantage of nepotism is the one skill the next generation of Trumps and near-Trumps have mastered.

    Comments from Trump regarding some of his recent, election-related lawsuits:

    They say, sir, you don’t have standing. I say, I don’t have standing you mean as president of the United States, I don’t have standing? What kind of a court system is this? And the judges stay away from it.

    I’m going to use 125% of my energy to do it. You need a judge that’s willing to hear a case. You need a Supreme Court that’s willing to make a real big decision, based on everything that it’s not like you’re going to change my mind.

    Trump added that his “mind will not change in six months.”

    He cannot speak coherently, let alone guide a legal battle.

    If he is going to use “125%” of his energy, he may have to stop playing golf. Comment from a reader: “Decimal error. 1.25%.”

  128. says

    From retired U.S. admiral Michael Mullen:

    One of the things I learned in the job that I had is you don’t want to, you’d like to do all you can to not box in the president – to give any president as many options and as much space as possible. So, this is obviously the opposite case right now. It appears that the current administration is trying to lock in as many options as, as many issues as possible to make it much more difficult for President-elect Biden to govern. And actually, historically, that has just never been the case.

    Specifically, the challenge we have in the economy, and national security issues do not wait. That’s going to be a particularly difficult transition in that arena, actually having started three weeks late.

    I think I’m actually very concerned about the Trump loyalists who have now gone to work in the Pentagon. I mean, recently, Secretary Esper was fired, and a host of other people left the building. And there are some real Trump loyalists there now in charge and it’s pretty difficult to think that over the course of 50 or 60 days you can do something constructive. But you can do something that’s really destructive.

  129. says

    https://twitter.com/SenKamalaHarris/status/1116413385535569922
    From Kamala Harris:

    Dogs are always welcome in my Senate office – here are a few paw-licy advisors who regularly stop by. #NationalPetDay

    Harris posted that in April 2019, but it is still relevant since people who love pets will soon be taking over in the White House. Adorable photos at the link.

    I don’t think we can classify Ivanka as Trump’s pet.

    The Biden family has two German shepherds, Champ and Major.

  130. says

    From The Washington Post: “These brutal police dog attacks were captured on video. Now some cities are curtailing K-9 use.”

    A half-mile from the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., where police once beat civil rights protesters, Selma police pulled over an unarmed 36-year-old Black man in 2018 for a series of traffic violations that began with him rolling his white Jaguar through a stop sign.

    Robert Fitts got out of the car, arms raised, eyewitnesses said, but was quickly knocked to the ground and swarmed by three White officers as a fourth White officer led a lurching police dog to his body and ordered an attack. A Black officer arrived at that moment, yelling obscenities as he demanded that the dog be pulled away. […]

    “Get the dog back! Get the godd— dog back!” Selma Police Officer Robert Tyus shouted, as the other officers ignored his pleas and the German shepherd continued to bite and shake Fitts’s left leg for nearly 30 seconds.

    The incident is one of at least 37 video-recorded K-9 attacks that have surfaced over the past three years across the country, many showing people under attack even though they are unarmed, have surrendered to police, are already handcuffed or are innocent bystanders […]

    […] Similar to the way that footage of chokeholds and fatal shootings has led to a reassessment of police tactics, video of attacking police dogs and the resulting physical injuries are beginning to alter the image of the controllable, lifesaving K-9, sometimes known as the Lassie or Rin Tin Tin effect. For decades this image has blunted the scrutiny of the roughly 15,000 police dogs now working in the United States […]

    […] The image of police dogs started to shift several months ago in Salt Lake City. Video showed Jeffery Ryans, a 36-year-old Black man who was about to leave for his job as a train engineer, putting his hands in the air and kneeling on the ground in his backyard as he told officers he was surrendering. A German shepherd was unleashed on him anyway, chomping down on his left leg, causing injuries that required multiple surgeries in an attempt to repair nerve, muscle and tendon damage.

    […] Key videos from those encounters, reviewed by The Post, show officers repeatedly siccing dogs on individuals after they had surrendered or were under the physical control of officers.

    […] In four cases, the people were in handcuffs when the K-9 attacked them. Another four were accidental bites of innocent bystanders who were walking their dog, sleeping in a tent or strolling down the sidewalk.

    […] Anglero-Wyrick said in an interview that he thought he was going to die.

    “I could tell if I moved while the dog was on me, they were going to shoot me. So I allowed the dog to keep eating me the whole time,” he said. “They sadistically watched the dog eat my leg and kept saying ‘Good dog. Good dog.’ They ruined my life.”

    […] Richard Polsky, who holds a doctorate in animal behavior and has served as an expert witness in K-9 court cases, said the dogs are referred to as “officers” but do not have the ability to make judgment calls like their human counterparts. They often bite without releasing, even after repeated orders to do so, and sometimes bite the wrong person.

    Their handlers, he said, often cannot manage them.

    “These dogs are already genetically programmed for aggression, and then they put them through attack training,” Polsky said. “They can’t be controlled.” […]

    The force of a K-9 bite can be as much as 1,500 pounds per square inch — three times as powerful as the jaws of an untrained dog of similar size, experts say. German shepherds and Belgian Malinois are the most common K-9 breeds, weighing 70 to 90 pounds. They are trained to bite with a full mouth, using all of their teeth. […]

    Washington Post link

    More at the link.

  131. says

    From David Remnick, writing for The New Yorker:

    [snipped history of former presidents battling the “mendacious” press]

    Donald Trump began his career convinced that reporters, once exposed to his myriad charms, would be willing stenographers of his story. He learned to elevate himself, his brand, and his interests largely by supplying the New York tabloids with a ready-made character, a strutting snake-oil salesman who provided an unending stream of gossip-page items about his personal and commercial exploits. It was of little concern to anyone that these items were, in the main, preposterous. Occasionally, investigative reporters, profile writers, and the courts would look more deeply into Trump’s swindles and business bankruptcies, but, as long as he skirted total ruin, he seemed to think that even his bad press added to his allure.

    Trump’s relationship with reporters inevitably changed when he shifted his occupation to the command of the federal government. First as a candidate, and then in the early days of his Presidency, he discovered that the press was a variegated beast […] He could still depend on toadying support from some quarters, particularly the editorial holdings of Rupert Murdoch and emerging properties like Breitbart and Newsmax […] Trump craved the acceptance of such institutions as the Times and the Washington Post, but he knew that his base loathed them. And so he would loathe them, too, while at the same time declaring a new, Trumpian reality, constructed of what his adviser Kellyanne Conway memorably called “alternative facts.”

    On his second day in office, Trump sent his press secretary, Sean Spicer, to the White House briefing room to con the nation the way he had conned the tabloids. The crowds on the Mall for Trump’s Inauguration, Spicer insisted, were unprecedented, despite the evidence to the contrary. A few weeks later, as news coverage further nettled Trump, he took to Twitter to declare that CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, and the Times were “the enemy of the American People.” The resonance was clear. In the Soviet era, to be branded an “enemy of the people” was to await a boxcar to the Gulag. […]

    During a meeting at Trump Tower, Lesley Stahl, of CBS News, asked why he kept attacking the press. “You know why I do it?” he said. “I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so that, when you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you.”

    Trump may have devoted more mental energy to his degradation of the press—through lawsuits, threats, and hundreds of tweets—than to any other issue. He called reporters “corrupt,” “scum,” and “some of the worst human beings you’ll ever meet.” And those words riled up his base, so much so that at his rallies reporters were often berated and menaced. Last year, the F.B.I. arrested a Coast Guard officer who had drawn up a hit list that included reporters at MSNBC and CNN, and an Army officer was arrested after allegedly conducting an online discussion in which he talked about blowing up the headquarters of a major TV network.

    […] Perhaps Trump’s most disgraceful act in this regard was his refusal to speak a critical word against the Saudi leadership after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for the Post.

    […] It is now estimated that one American dies every minute from covid-19. Every two or three days there is a 9/11-scale death count. How many of those people died because they chose to believe [Trump’s] dismissive accounts of the disease rather than what public-health officials were telling the press? Half of Republican voters believe Trump’s charge that the 2020 election was “rigged.” What will be the lasting effects on American democracy of that disinformation campaign? Bit by bit, Trump is being forced to give up his attempt to overturn the election. But he will continue his efforts to build an alternative reality around himself. Now that Fox News has proved insufficiently servile, he is likely to join forces with, buy, or launch an even more destructive media enterprise.

    As President, Joe Biden cannot battle the debasement of a reality principle in American life by executive order. But support for press freedoms ought to be a central element of his domestic and foreign policies. What’s more, the press itself needs to learn from the prolonged emergency of the past four years. Just as it must go on applying investigative and analytical pressure to all forms of power, […] it cannot relax in calling out the deeply anti-factual and anti-democratic foundation of a movement like Trump’s. The stakes are high. Donald Trump may be moving to Mar-a-Lago, but he, and the alternative reality he has created, could be with us for a long time.

    New Yorker link

  132. Rowan vet-tech says

    As a vet tech I’ve had to deal with a couple police dog patients. I can confirm these are not safe animals. The only good police dog I’ve ever dealt with was a sniffer dog, a big doofy black lab. But the German Shepherds all had to be muzzled and and basically pinned by their handler for any exam to occur.

  133. says

    From The Washington Post: “Sarah Fuller made college football history Saturday. She also delivered a fine halftime speech.”

    […] people sprinkled around the country tuned in to watch Vanderbilt University play football. That did seem improbable. […]

    A winless team amid a wretched season with a disfigured roster had found a sports-historic moment on a sunny day in mid-Missouri. When Vanderbilt’s harsh helping of coronavirus quarantines and contact-tracing woes had left the team barren of kickers, Coach Derek Mason and staff turned to a goalkeeper from the soccer team, which had won the SEC tournament championship Sunday.

    That would be the women’s soccer team.

    “I think it’s just incredible that I am able to do this,” Sarah Fuller said hours later in the postgame video news conference with reporters. “And all I want to do is be a good influence to the young girls out there because there were times I struggled in sports, but I am so thankful I stuck with it, and it’s given me so many opportunities.”

    The Vanderbilt senior and native of Wylie, Tex., had become the fourth woman to play in a major college football game but the first to appear in the Power Five, the sport’s tiptop tier. When she kicked off to open the second half […], she followed upon three other kickers — Ashley Martin of Jacksonville State in 2001, Katie Hnida of New Mexico in 2002 and April Goss of Kent State in 2015 — and even volunteered to give a halftime pep talk.

    […] ‘Yeah, they need a kicker,’ ” she said. “I was like: ‘All right, I’ll be there in an hour. I’ll be there within the hour.’ ”

    […] “Look, I’m not about making statements,” Mason said later. “This was out of necessity,” […] in terms of who was available” amid the pandemic. He said he had scoured the roster for those with kicking experience, considered a backup quarterback, another skill-position guy, and found “nobody who had had probably as much experience in practice or just the natural capability or more natural than Sarah.”

    She waited, held up her left hand per football custom and went into the kick. She squibbed it to the right, where Missouri downed it at its 35-yard line — not the typical college kick but precisely per instruction. “That was designed for her,” Mason said, “because that’s what she’s used to striking. . . . We tried to go with the most natural kicks in her arsenal, tried not to, you know, over-coach her, but let her do and understand what felt comfortable to her. And that’s what we went with, and I thought she punched it exactly where she needed to punch it.”

    […] “I would love to get out there and score a field goal. I’d love to get out there and [kick] an extra point and everything,” she said. “I would be happy if they will have me. I love the team. They are amazing; the entire staff has been so incredible in this transition, and I could not ask for a better team behind me to get me prepared. Honestly, I’m having so much fun and I want to learn more about how to kick and how to do things better because I think I really can refine it and get better from here.”

    Link

  134. says

    PA Supreme Court Rejects Another GOP Effort To Block Certification Of Biden’s Win

    TPM link

    Pennsylvania’s highest court on Saturday night threw out a lower court’s order preventing the state from certifying dozens of contests on its Nov. 3 election ballot in the latest lawsuit filed by Republicans attempting to thwart President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state.

    The state Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, threw out the three-day-old order, saying the underlying lawsuit was filed months after the expiration of a time limit in Pennsylvania’s expansive year-old mail-in voting law allowing for challenges to it.

    Justices also remarked on the lawsuit’s staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively.

    “They have failed to allege that even a single mail-in ballot was fraudulently cast or counted,” Justice David Wecht wrote in a concurring opinion.

    The state’s attorney general, Democrat Josh Shapiro, called the court’s decision “another win for Democracy.”

    […] Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, meanwhile, have repeatedly and baselessly claimed that Democrats falsified mail-in ballots to steal the election from Trump. Biden beat Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016.

    The week-old lawsuit, led by Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania, had challenged the state’s mail-in voting law as unconstitutional.

    As a remedy, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law — most of them by Democrats — or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors.

    In any case, that request — for the state’s lawmakers to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors — flies in the face of a nearly century-old state law that already grants the power to pick electors to the state’s popular vote, Wecht wrote.

    While the high court’s two Republicans joined the five Democrats in opposing those remedies, they split from Democrats in suggesting that the lawsuit’s underlying claims — that the state’s mail-in voting law might violate the constitution — are worth considering.

    Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough, elected as a Republican in 2009, had issued the order Wednesday to halt certification of any remaining contests, including apparently contests for Congress.

    It did not appear to affect the presidential contest since a day earlier, Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, had certified Biden as the winner of the presidential election in Pennsylvania.

    Wolf quickly appealed McCullough’s decision to the state Supreme Court, saying there was no “conceivable justification” for it.

    The lawsuit’s dismissal comes after Republicans have lost a flurry of legal challenges brought by the Trump campaign and its GOP allies filed in state and federal courts in Pennsylvania.

    On Friday, a federal appeals court in Philadelphia roundly rejected the Trump campaign’s latest effort to challenge the state’s election results. […]

    Trump’s lawyers vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court despite the judges’ assessment that the “campaign’s claims have no merit.”

  135. says

    From the New York Review of Books:

    […] The dominant power in the land, the undead Republican Party, has made majority rule aberrant, a notion that transgresses the new norms it has created.

    From the perspective of this system, it is Biden, and his criminal voters, who are the deviant ones. This is the irony: Trump, the purest of political opportunists, driven only by his own instincts and interests, has entrenched an anti-democratic culture that, unless it is uprooted, will thrive in the long term. It is there in his court appointments, in his creation of a solid minority of at least 45 percent animated by resentment and revenge, but above all in his unabashed demonstration of the relatively unbounded possibilities of an American autocracy. As a devout Catholic, Joe Biden believes in the afterlife. But he needs to confront an afterlife that is not in the next world but in this one—the long posterity of Donald Trump. […]

    Link

    More at the link.

  136. says

    From Dr. Birx:

    We saw what happened post-Memorial Day. Now we are deeply worried about what could happen post-Thanksgiving because the number of cases, 25,000 versus 180,000 a day, that’s where — that’s why we are deeply concerned. […]

    From Surgeon General Jerome Adams:

    I want to be straight with the American people — it’s going to get worse over the next several weeks, but the actions that we take in the next several days will determine how bad it is or whether or not we continue to flatten our curve.

  137. says

    ‘Thugs’: Trump resorts to namecalling in first televised interview since losing election

    […] Trump isn’t even listening to himself these days. He tweeted on Saturday how Fox News daytime is “virtually unwatchable, especially during the weekends.” Then, in the spirit of true hypocrisy, he gave Fox News his first televised interview since he lost the election against President-elect Joe Biden 26 days ago on November 3.

    In a phone interview on Sunday with host Maria Bartiromo, the soon-to-be-former president used the opportunity to tote his usual baseless allegations of voter fraud. He went from suggesting that the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) are involved in a conspiracy against him to alleging that dead people applied for mail-in ballots and poll watchers were thrown out of counting rooms by “thugs” in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Nevada.

    “This election was rigged,” Trump said. “This election was a total fraud, and it continues to be as they hide. And the problem we have, we go to judges, and people don’t want to get involved.”

    […] And by not wanting to get involved, he means the courts keep throwing out his frivolous lawsuits, as was the case when Reps. Mike Kelly and Sean Parnell alleged on the president’s behalf that mail-in ballots were unconstitutional.

    “We’re not allowed to put in our proof,” Trump told Bartiromo. “They say you don’t have standing. (…) I would like to file one nice big beautiful lawsuit, talking about this and many other things, with tremendous proof. We have affidavits, we have hundreds and hundreds of affidavits.”

    […] One of the more troubling moments of Trump’s interview—I mean besides seeing the President of the United States reduced to a breathy rant of unfounded allegations—was hearing him refuse to confine his claims to a timeline and instead saying he would give his efforts to change his fate “125 percent of my energy” while the coronavirus pandemic rages.

    “I led the charge. We won state houses. We won Congress. We won the Senate, and I lost. They say ‘it’s statistically impossible for that to happen,’” Trump said. And yet it did.

    Video snippets are available at the link.

  138. says

    From Aaron Rupar:

    Maria Bartiromo’s facial expressions as Trump pushes obscene lies about election fraud are priceless.
    https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1333068258862370819

    Trump’s own lawyers conceded in court that the claim he makes here about poll watchers is a lie — but Maria Bartiromo lets Trump lie with impunity

    “Look at the election you have coming up [in Georgia] right now. You’re using the same garbage machinery, Dominion” — Trump demoralizes Republicans by suggesting their votes don’t matter because the upcoming Senate runoffs in Georgia are rigged

    “I’m ashamed that I endorsed him” — Trump disses Brian Kemp for not doing more to help him steal the election in Georgia

    “Joe Biden did not get 16 million more votes than Barack Hussein Obama,” Trump says, before adding in the next breath that he doesn’t believe Biden did better than Obama with black voters

    “We actually have thousands of votes, in some cases hundreds of thousands of votes, more than we need in every swing state that we’re talking about” — delusional stuff from Trump, who decisively lost the election

    Trump whines at length that the DOJ and FBI aren’t doing more to help him overturn his loss to Biden

    Maria Bartiromo is basically a North Korean news anchor now

    Trump is out of breath as he rants and raves about the “Russia Russia hoax”
    https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1333077509257179137

    Video snippets are available on the thread posted by Aaron Rupar.

  139. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Elections continue. Just signed some petitions for the Spring Local elections. They left a music stand with the petitions on clipboards near the front door and stepped back a proper distance. Felt save signing. I’m all for getting more people at least on the primary ballot.

  140. johnson catman says

    Bulls on parade: https://nypost.com/2020/11/27/kentucky-officer-punches-man-livestreaming-an-arrest/

    A Kentucky man was slugged by cops as he filmed the scene of an arrest. Bennett of Jeffersontown was on his way home from work last week when he saw police cars surround a vehicle and Bennett decided to tape the incident — from his own ride about 50 feet away.
    .
    Two officers approached Bennett. When one of the men asked to see his ID. Bennett refuses and asks why to which the officer replies: “You’re filming a crime scene investigation… and you’re involved.”

    I guess it is a good thing that Bennett is white, otherwise he would have been shot to death.
    Video atl.

  141. says

    Nerd @191, sounds good.

    johnson @192, sheesh! So scary.

    In other news:Two senators help capture the GOP’s post-election troubles

    Following Trump’s election attacks, disparate groups of congressional Republicans have emerged. Rand Paul and Roy Blunt represent distinct contingents.

    After weeks of Donald Trump’s attacks on his own country’s electoral system, three groups of congressional Republicans have emerged. The first contingent is made up of GOP lawmakers who’ve acknowledged the outgoing president’s defeat, discarded the crackpot conspiracy theories, and recognized President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

    This is, incidentally, the smallest of the party’s three factions.

    Yep. It figures that that would be the smallest contingent. Tiny, minority amounts of reasonableness.

    The second group is comprised of congressional Republicans who genuinely seem to believe the crackpot conspiracy theories have merit. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), for example, yesterday took a break from saying unfortunate things about the coronavirus pandemic to instead say unfortunate things about the election. Newsweek noted:

    Rand Paul has been criticized for suggesting that “fraud” may be the reason Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden in key election states because of “data dumps” which occurred during a five-hour period. The Kentucky Senator tweeted about disputed claims of voter fraud which were made in a lengthy blog post entitled “Anomalies in Vote Counts and Their Effects on Election 2020.”

    In the Kentucky senator’s tweet, Paul referenced Trump’s “defeat” in scare quotes — as if the outgoing president didn’t actually lose — before referencing the possibility of “fraud” that Team Trump has failed spectacularly to prove. “Look at the evidence and decide for yourself,” Paul concluded.

    The Lincoln Project responded soon after, “Is Rand Paul a moron? Look at the evidence and decide for yourself.”

    Heh. Good point, Lincoln Project.

    And while that’s obviously impolite, the larger point is that Trump isn’t alone in peddling baseless nonsense about non-existent “fraud.” […]

    […] there’s the third group of congressional Republicans, who know Trump lost, who know better than to believe conspiratorial nonsense, and who may not be altogether comfortable with the outgoing president’s autocratic tactics designed to nullify election results he doesn’t like, but who can’t quite muster the courage to fully acknowledge reality. The Washington Post took a look at Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R-Mo.) appearance yesterday on CNN.

    Asked whether Joe Biden is the president-elect, Blunt dodged the question time and again. He first tried to hide behind the fact that “there is no official job of president-elect.” (That’s technically true, but it didn’t stop Blunt from applauding “President-elect Trump” four years ago.) Then Blunt blamed the media for setting up a “straw man.” He finally admitted that Trump’s lawyers haven’t presented any proof of voter fraud “in a way that was acceptable to any court.” But then he offered his own opinion: “I think there was some element of voter fraud.”

    […] if any Senate Republicans can be expected to take a responsible line on the 2020 elections, it’s Roy Blunt. He chairs the Senate committee with jurisdiction over federal election laws; he’s a former Missouri secretary of state with experience administering elections; and his panel is responsible for overseeing the 2021 presidential inauguration.

    When Blunt talked to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos the weekend after Election Day, the host asked the Missouri Republican why he couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge Biden’s success. If we’re grading on a curve, Blunt’s answer was almost reasonable: he said it was time for Trump’s lawyers to present evidence, and he conceded that any possible changes to vote totals in the coming days were “unlikely” to “make a difference.”

    But as Trump’s offensive against his own country’s democracy intensified, Blunt regressed, to the point that he recently questioned the legitimacy of the outgoing president’s defeat.

    Neil King, a longtime journalist, wrote in response to the senator’s interview yesterday, “This just shows what Trumpism has done to the once rational, once balanced Republican brain. Because Roy Blunt is no fool. We should be alarmed by this lack of decency and standards.”

  142. says

    Summary from Steve Benen:

    North Carolina venture capitalist Fred Eshelman donated millions to a group called True the Vote in the hopes of uncovering voter fraud and helping Trump’s post-election scheme. Now, Eshelman is headed to court, trying to get his money back.

    More details: Donor In Trump’s Election ‘Fraud’ Fight Sues To Snatch Back His $2.5 Million Contribution

    […] The lawsuit filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas by North Carolina venture capitalist Fred Eshelman argued that the nonprofit group True the Vote promised to keep him informed of how his millions were being used in what was pitched as a strong case against alleged election fraud. Instead, the suit alleged, he was fed “vague responses, platitudes and empty promises of follow-up” that never occurred.

    He was kept in the dark when weak cases filed in Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia and Pennsylvania were voluntarily withdrawn in a decision the investor claimed was made in “concert with counsel for the Trump campaign,” the suit said.

    In the Wisconsin case, Republican powerhouse attorney James Bopp promised that “evidence will be shortly forthcoming.” But Bopp withdrew the case last week just hours before scheduled oral arguments without ever providing a shred of evidence. Bopp won the the infamous Citizens United case before the U.S. Supreme Court, which opened the floodgates of dark money into campaigns.

    A fed-up Eshelman last week ordered True the Vote in an email to immediately wire back his contribution. When the organization failed to comply, he filed the lawsuit.

    Eshelman is a major Trump backer who has twice donated the maximum allowable individual contribution of $2,700 to Trump’s campaign, as well as a $100,000 contribution to the Trump Victory PAC, according to records.

    Heh! It’s about time that some of Trump’s donors/cult members started complaining about their contributions being misused — or thrown into a black hole of stupidity and malfeasance.

  143. says

    ‘Like a dog’: Trump’s favorite comparison clearly needs work

    When Trump said Republican poll watchers “treated like dogs,” he was relying on a comparison he loves, but has never understood.

    One of the oddities of Donald Trump’s post-election antics came last week, when Rudy Giuliani delivered a ridiculous presentation to Pennsylvania Republicans in a hotel ballroom, joined by the president, who rambled for a while via a speakerphone.

    As the Washington Post noted yesterday, Trump’s pitch included a familiar phrase. “If you were a Republican poll watcher, you were treated like a dog,” Trump complained, using one of his favorite put-downs, even though many people treat dogs well, like members of their own families.

    Right off the bat, the idea that Republican poll watchers have been systemically mistreated is difficult to take seriously.

    But putting that aside, why in the world does the outgoing president keep referring to dogs like this?

    In June, Trump was interviewed by Sean Spicer, his former White House press secretary, and argued that the impeachment charges against him were “thrown out like dogs.” A year earlier, the president boasted to the world that ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi “died like a dog” — a phrase Trump liked so much, he used it twice.

    The phrasing seemed familiar for good reason. As regular readers may recall, shortly before his State of the Union address in 2019, Trump told a group of television anchors that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) “choked like a dog” at a press conference a few days prior.

    A few weeks before that, we learned of an anecdote from Cliff Sims’ book in which Trump told then-House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), in reference to the closing days of the 2016 election cycle, “You were out there dying like a dog, Paul. Like a dog!”

    It’s clearly one of this president’s favorite metaphors. Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, for example, was “fired like a dog.” According to Trump, so were conservative media figures Erick Erickson and Glenn Beck.

    Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak was “dropped like a dog.” Steve Bannon was “dumped like a dog.” Mitt Romney “choked like a dog.” Ted Cruz “lies like a dog.” Brent Bozell allegedly went to Trump’s office “begging for money like a dog.”

    “Robert Pattinson should not take back Kristen Stewart,” the future president wrote in 2012. “She cheated on him like a dog.”

    Asked why he went after Arianna Huffington’s appearance, Trump wrote, just two months before launching his presidential campaign, “Because she is a dog who wrongfully comments on me.”

    After Omarosa Manigault-Newman left the White House, Trump called her “a crazed, crying lowlife,” before adding, “Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”

    For a guy who doesn’t want a dog, he sure does seem focused on them. Now all he needs is for someone to explain to him that a lot of people actually like dogs.

  144. says

    Doesn’t sound serious … minor accident: Biden’s doctor says he has hairline fractures in his foot after slipping while playing with his dog.

    CNN link

    […] Biden has hairline fractures in his “mid-foot” and will “likely require a walking boot for several weeks,” his doctor said in a statement Sunday, after Biden slipped while playing with his dog, Major, Saturday.

    “Initial x-rays did not show any obvious fracture, but his clinical exam warranted more detailed imaging,” Dr. Kevin O’Connor said Sunday. “Follow-up CT scan confirmed hairline (small) fractures of President-elect Biden’s lateral and intermediate cuneiform bones, which are in the mid-foot. It is anticipated that he will likely require a walking boot for several weeks.”

    Earlier Sunday, Biden’s office announced he was going to be examined by an orthopedist “out of an abundance of caution” after he twisted his ankle playing with the dog. […]

  145. says

    Guardian – “Rio voters inflict humiliating electoral wipeout on mayor”:

    Rio de Janeiro is rejoicing after voters inflicted a humiliating electoral defeat on a widely loathed neo-Pentecostal bishop considered by some to be the worst mayor in the city’s history.

    Marcelo Crivella, a gospel-singing preacher who has branded homosexuality a “terrible evil” and had shunned Rio’s annual carnival, lost in every one of the city’s 49 constituencies in Sunday’s run-off vote.

    Observers called the result a triumph for diversity and a blow to Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, who had backed Crivella’s campaign.

    “Rio is free of the worst government in its history – of its most negligent, most unprepared, most prejudiced government,” the victor, Eduardo Paes, proclaimed after his landslide win.

    “I want to tell all cariocas [Rio citizens] that today – whatever your faith, orientation or skin colour – you are free,” added Paes, a samba-loving centre-right politician who was mayor from 2009 until 2016.

    Many voters have misgivings about Paes but there was widespread jubilation on Monday as news of Crivella’s catastrophe sank in.

    “He was probably our most incompetent mayor in more than 100 years and at the same time the least carioca of them all. So it’s a major, major, major relief to be rid of him,” said Pedro Doria, a Rio-based author and editor of the political newsletter Meio. “This guy was a major reactionary in a city that is driven by such a freewheeling spirit.”

    Rio newspapers united to gloat over the demise of the former missionary who is the nephew of the founder of the controversial Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.

    Mello Franco called Crivella’s “fiasco” a setback to the Universal Church’s project to tighten its already considerable grip on Brazilian politics by packing the corridors of power with believers.

    It is also a reverse for Bolsonaro, who publicly endorsed Crivella as a way of thwarting the “poisonous” left.

    Rio was not the only city to reject Bolsonarian chauvinism in Sunday’s second-round vote amid growing signs some Brazilians are tiring of their president’s incendiary style.

    São Paulo elected Bruno Covas, a centre-right member of one of the city’s most famous political dynasties.

    “The days of denialism and obscurantism are numbered. São Paulo has said ‘Yes’ to science and moderation,” Covas told supporters in an unmistakable reference to Bolsonaro’s anti-scientific handling of the Covid-19 epidemic. More than 172,000 Brazilians have been killed by a disease Bolsonaro has dismissed as a “bit of a cold”.

    Pro-Bolsonaro candidates were also defeated in the cities of Belém and Fortaleza. In the election’s first round a fortnight ago, Bolsonaro-backed candidates lost in cities including Manaus, Recife and Belo Horizonte.

    The Workers’ party (PT) of Bolsonaro’s leftwing nemisis, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, also fared badly, failing to win control of a single state capital for the first time since democracy returned in 1985.

    Another leftwing force, the Socialist and Liberty party (Psol), appears to be filling part of the void, with its 38-year-old candidate, Guilherme Boulos, picking up more than 2m votes in São Paulo.

    “This wasn’t our election,” Boulos told supporters from the rooftop of his home, where he is recovering from Covid-19, “but we will prevail.”

  146. says

    News concerning Biden’s economic team:

    […] Biden said that he would nominate former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to serve as Treasury secretary and Neera Tanden, president of the liberal Center for American Progress think tank, as director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

    If confirmed, both Yellen and Tanden would play crucial roles in the incoming administration’s efforts to repair the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

    Biden also announced that he would nominate Cecilia Rouse, dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, to chair the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), the president’s internal economic analysis team.

    […] Rounding out the choices announced on Monday is Wally Adeyemo, whom Biden will nominate to serve as deputy Treasury secretary.

    “As we get to work to control the virus, this is the team that will deliver immediate economic relief for the American people during this economic crisis and help us build our economy back better than ever,” Biden said in statement.

    “This team is comprised of respected and tested groundbreaking public servants who will help the communities hardest hit by COVID-19 and address the structural inequities in our economy.” […]

    Link

  147. says

    Here’s a link to the November 30 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    Also from there – “Moderna Covid vaccine has 94% efficacy, final results confirm”:

    Final results from the trials of Moderna’s vaccine against Covid-19 confirm it has 94% efficacy and nobody who was vaccinated with it developed severe disease, said the company, kickstarting the approval process with regulators around the world.

    The US company is submitting the data to the regulators in the US, Europe and the UK for an emergency licence. It expects the Food and Drug Administration in the US to consider it at its meeting on 17 December, Moderna said.

    Although the firm has done deals around the world, the US will get access first. Moderna said it expected to have 20m doses of its vaccine ready for use in the US by the end of this year. In August, the US bought 100m doses with an option on 400m more. Moderna says it is on track to manufacture 500m to 1bn doses globally in 2021.

    The full trial data has not been released, but would be published in a peer-reviewed journal in due course, Moderna said….

  148. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @195:

    For a guy who doesn’t want a dog, he sure does seem focused on them. Now all he needs is for someone to explain to him that a lot of people actually like dogs.

    The Bidens have recently announced that Major and Champ would occupy bedroom formerly used by the previous president, and would be encouraged to urinate on the bed. When The Orange Toddler-Tyrant heard about this, he begged to be invited to watch. (/s)

  149. says

    SC @200, thanks for that link. This excerpt stuck with me:

    These difficult conversations are only set to increase now that a new vaccine is on the horizon. Certain niches of internet are already rife with the “plandemic” theory, which alleges that the spread of the virus has been designed to create big bucks for pharmaceutical companies and the philanthropist Bill Gates (whose charity is funding many of the efforts). The idea has been debunked numerous times, whereas there is good evidence that conspiracy theorists such as David Icke are themselves reaping huge profits from spreading misinformation. The danger, of course, is that their ideas will discourage people from taking the vaccine, leaving them vulnerable to the actual disease.

    It’s important to realize not just that conspiracy theories about Bill Gates (etc.) have been debunked, but that dunderheads like David Icke are “reaping huge profits” from spreading misinformation.

  150. says

    johnson @201, mocking Trump is good way to go. The guy deserves to be mocked.

    In other news: GOP eyes new voting restrictions based on made-up fraud claims

    There’s no great mystery as to why Donald Trump and his allies are attacking their own country’s electoral system. [Trump] obviously lost his re-election bid, which led him to launch an offensive against the United States’ democracy […].

    The effects of such an assault will likely be felt for quite a while. For example, the GOP’s lies about the integrity of the nation’s electoral system are corrosive and undermine public confidence without cause. What’s more, the lies appear designed to undermine the legitimacy of the incoming Biden administration, despite the fact that the president-elect won by a margin Team Trump considers a “landslide.”

    But just as important are some of the policy measures Republicans are envisioning to address the problem that doesn’t exist. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) published this tweet last week: “This election has shown we need major reforms to our election systems, including Voter ID laws across the nation, to protect against fraud and rebuild the American people’s trust in fair outcomes.” [Bullshit]

    Over the holiday weekend, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) published a Twitter thread along the same lines: “The 2020 election chaos is embarrassing [and] must be fixed. Election integrity must be a priority at every level of [government] moving forward. The integrity of elections must be self-evident, an airtight process that withstands scrutiny, where no one can plausibly question results.”

    […] new restrictions, including voter-ID requirements and new limits on mail-in voting.

    The circular reasoning is amazing:

    1. Leading Republicans respond to an election defeat by lying about the integrity of the system.

    2. Much of the country, incredulous about election results they don’t like, believe the lies.

    3. Leading Republicans exploit the confusion to call for new voting restrictions, which in turn would help Republican candidates.

    Look at those quotes again. Rick Scott believes the 2020 elections prove “we need major reforms to our election systems.” But why? What was wrong with the administration of the 2020 elections? The Florida Republican says it’s time to “rebuild the American people’s trust in fair outcomes,” but it’s his party that’s undermined the American people’s trust with baseless and unsubstantiated claims.

    Likewise, Dan Crenshaw believes the 2020 cycle has been “embarrassing.” Perhaps so. But the embarrassment has been a series of deliberate GOP decisions that deliberately created an unnecessary mess.

    […] Republicans, in other words, are trying to both manufacture and address made-up concerns.

    To be sure, this is not to say the existing system is perfect. There are a series of worthwhile civic reforms — creating automatic voter registration, ending partisan gerrymandering, expanding voting rights, making Election Day a national holiday, et al. — that would make a positive difference.

    But the bottom line remains the same: there’s no defense for Republicans generating unnecessary questions and then answering them with unnecessary measures designed to help Republicans win more elections.

    Well said.

  151. says

    Democracy Now! – “The Lame-Duck Executioner: Trump Prepares to Execute Five Prisoners in Closing Days of Presidency”:

    We look at the unprecedented five federal executions President Trump’s Department of Justice has scheduled before Inauguration Day, starting with Brandon Bernard on International Human Rights Day, and ending with Dustin Higgs on January 15, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Four of the people set to die are Black men, and the other is Lisa Montgomery, a severely mentally ill white woman who faced a lifetime of sexual abuse and would be the first woman executed in nearly 70 years. “When you give absolute power over life and death to government officials, they can really do what they want,” responds Sister Helen Prejean, one of the world’s most well-known anti-death-penalty activists. She also discusses the life and legacy of Bill Pelke, who co-founded the group Journey of Hope and partnered with Prejean to campaign against the death penalty and spare the life of the woman who was 15 years old when she killed his grandmother….

    60 Minutes last night – “Fired director of US cyber agency Chris Krebs explains why he says vote was “most secure in Ameri[can history?]”:

    Chris Krebs, a lifelong Republican, was put in charge of the agency handling election security by President Trump two years ago. When Krebs said the 2020 election was the country’s most secure ever, Mr. Trump fired him. Now, Krebs speaks to Scott Pelley.

    Robert Mueller will be the guest on Chuck Rosenberg’s podcast The Oath this week. (I believe it will be on Wednesday.)

  152. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    WHO head urges ‘extreme caution’ over festive gatherings

    Spending time with friends and family at Christmas is “not worth putting them or yourself at risk”, according to the head of the World Health Organization.

    Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the body’s director general, said people should consider whether travelling during the festive period is necessary. Urging “extreme caution”, he said that “gains can easily be lost”.

    He said: “We all need to consider whose life we might be gambling with in the decisions we make.

    “[The] Covid-19 pandemic will change the way we celebrate but it doesn’t mean that we can’t celebrate. We still can celebrate.”

    He warned that “this is no time for complacency,” despite last week seeing the first decline in newly-reported cases globally since September.

    More than a million French cyclists have used a €50 ($60) subsidy to get their old bikes repaired as part of measures to fight the coronavirus and now the government wants more people to start riding them.

    Following France’s first lockdown in the spring, the government offered subsidies to get old bikes fixed. That programme will now be extended until the end of March following the relaxation of a second lockdown last weekend.

    “After this second lockdown, the government wants to encourage French people to use bicycles to move around,” environment minister Barbara Pompili said during a visit to a training centre for bicycle mechanics in Paris on Monday.

    She said about half of the people who got their bikes repaired under the scheme had rarely cycled before.

    “This has put 500,000 people back in the saddle,” she said. But only 3% of French people use their bikes every day and the government wants to triple that number.

    Pompili also announced a new three-year €30m scheme to encourage employers to improve cycling facilities, with financing for 20,000 secure parking spaces.

    French cycling federation chief Olivier Schneider said there are 25m – 40m bicycles in France, but about 15m of those are in a poor state of repair.

    “There is huge demand for new bicycles worldwide and new bikes can be hard to find, so the repair subsidy scheme is a great way to get old bikes on the road again,” Schneider said.

    Spain appeals for Covid ‘common sense’ after shopping crowd scenes. The Spanish government has called on people to behave responsibly and use their “common sense” after pictures over the weekend showed the streets of Madrid and other big cities heaving with crowds despite the country’s ongoing struggle with the second wave of the coronavirus.

  153. says

    Oh, dear (Deere), more of the same kind of misinformation from White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany:

    […] “President @realDonaldTrump already has an ALL FEMALE Senior White House Press Team,” McEnany tweeted with a screenshot of the Post’s headline.

    The White House official went on to gripe that “the completely DISCREDITED
    @washingtonpost once again reveals their blinding propagandist Fake News proclivities.” [Referring the Post’s coverage of Biden’s all-female communications team.]

    However, she apparently forgot that her own deputies, Judd Deere and Brian Morgenstern, are male. In fact, much of TPM’s outreach to the White House has been fielded by Deere. […]

    Link

  154. says

    Follow-up to comment 211.

    From Mehdi Hasan:

    Your own deputy press secretary, who you just hilariously erased, is a *man* named @JuddPDeere

    Comments from readers of the TPM article:

    I actually remember when this insane liar took over the job from the previous insane liar and proclaimed ” And I will never lie to you ! “. I can’t imagine that anyone actually believed her but at this point the press corp should throw that back in her face on a daily basis. Maybe she’d acquire some shame and resign.
    ——————
    I hear that they’re all ritually castrated when they join the MAGAdministration.
    ———————
    Gotta feel some sads for K-Lie here. Her calls to OANN are not being returned…what is a [woman] with in depth experience telling lies got to do to get a new job.

    In other news, Jared Kushner is headed to Saudi Arabia and Qatar this week. That does not bode well.

  155. says

    Update on the clown show featuring Trump’s legal team, (this was mentioned up-thread, and I am providing more details … and more snark):

    The state of Arizona—represented by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich and Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs—certified President-elect Joe Biden’s win over Donald Trump in that state. Biden won that state by 10,457 votes, netting eleven more electoral votes.

    While the state’s Republican leaders were certifying those results, Trump’s “elite strike force team” of lawyers, in real life known as habitual losers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, were holding what they called a “hearing” with nine Republican state legislators, in which Hunter Biden’s laptop apparently featured. Because of course it did. The meeting was held in a downtown Phoenix hotel, AP reports. Apparently no landscaping company parking lots were available.

    The “elite strike force” is also demonstrating stupid lawyer tricks in Georgia, where they are asking for an audit of signatures on absentee ballot envelopes for the fifth time. Yes, a hand recount has already been conducted and yes, Biden won the state, again.

    Also, too, former elite strike force member Sidney Powell, who had been kicked off of the team for being too much of a conspiracy theorist, has been freelancing in the state because something something Dominion resulted in Republicans voting Republican but not for Trump and “near zero Black votes” for Trump, “which is also highly improbable” according to Powell who apparently has never met any Black people.

    Link

  156. says

    Macho posturing, and macho religious posturing:

    Last week, while we were all mostly not here and also not really paying much attention to the news, the Justice Department announced a rules change that would allow firing squads, electrocution and nitrogen gas to be used in federal death penalty cases, if the laws in the state where the prisoner is meant to be executed allow for such things. As grotesque as this is, there is not much of a point to it besides macho posturing, as President-elect Joe Biden has promised to abolish the federal death penalty once he is in office and four of the five prisoners whose executions are scheduled up until then have already chosen lethal injection.

    Well, unless you ask noted End Times preacher Rick Wiles, who has his own ideas about things. Last week, during a little pre-Thanksgiving roundtable, Wiles speculated that the real reason this rules change was rushed through was because “they’re gonna shoot some people” and that Trump is planning to execute all of the bad leftists in media, science, academia, etc., simply because we “deserve it.” [video at the link>

    He said:

    They’re gonna have a bunch of traitors, they’re gonna line ’em up against a wall and start shooting them. Because that’s what they deserve.The Democrats, the news media. If the leftists, if scientists, professors have been working secretly with the Chinese Communist Party, then line ’em up against the wall and shoot them. That’s what you do with them.

    Fantasize much?

    Secretly working with the Chinese Communist Party to do what?

    This just goes to show you how very little Rick Wiles even knows about “Leftists” or “Communists” in the United States. Communists do not consider China (or the former Soviet Union, for that matter) to even be communist, and tend to not be too thrilled about the human rights abuses and the labor situation over there. Particularly all the child labor.

    […] I can tell you right now that as a long-time “Leftist” who works in the media, the only contact I have ever had with the Chinese Communist government were the letters I sent them in high school demanding that they free the Panchen Lama, and the only people I have heard defending American companies who use Chinese labor or products made with Chinese labor have been capitalists. You know, like Ivanka Trump.

    But back to the firing squads.

    Wiles’s theory is honestly a little awkward, timing-wise, because wingnuts only have about a month and a half to go until they need to switch gears and start screaming about how Joe Biden is going to murder all of them with firing squads, throwing them into FEMA camps or otherwise Jade Helming them. It’s like they’re in a limbo period where they should really hush about all of their weird murder plans for a while. And how many professors, journalists and scientists is Donald Trump even going to be able to murder in a month and a half? Even by firing squad, that seems rather difficult to pull off. Especially since it will not change the result of the election, which he lost. It’s hardly as if there’s some constitutional clause that says if you murder enough of your political enemies you get to continue being president even if you lost the election.

    Of course, fantasizing about getting to see all of the imaginary pro-Chinese Government Leftists getting their brains blown out is probably just what Wiles needs to do to cope with the loss of the election. It’s not the route I’d go, personally, being that I faint at the sight of blood and also do not believe in the death penalty, but it is clearly what he needs to do to get through the day. Surely, he will soon adjust and be back to fantasizing about getting to watch God set us all on fire as he gets vacuumed up into heaven, or however that whole Rapture thing is supposed to go.

    https://www.wonkette.com/rick-wiles-firing-squad

  157. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Labour will abstain in a vote on England’s new coronavirus tier system on Tuesday, over a disagreement on support for the hospitality sector.

    The party is understood to believe that government support must go further and will abstain in the vote on the tiers system, which is due to replace lockdown rules from Wednesday. The vote is still expected to pass.

  158. says

    Trump admin is pushing rule changes on its way out attacking vulnerable populations

    The new rule that freezes wages for seasonal farm workers for two years hasn’t been the only policy change the Trump administration is grossly pushing in its final weeks. ProPublica has tracked dozens of rule changes the administration has continued pushing as impeached president Donald Trump’s days in office tick down […] At least one dozen of these “midnight regulations” have been finalized; and at least 13 others are under White House review.

    “It’s common for outgoing administrations to rush through last-minute rules,” the report notes. What’s not common is the disturbing, cruel, and downright evil nature of some of the new shit. Example: one rule finalized since the election “would broaden the acceptable forms of federal capital punishment to include methods that are or may soon be legal in various states, such as firing squads and electrocution,” the report said.

    Other horrific rules moving forward would result in more people going hungry in the middle of a pandemic, and a disgusting, hateful rule discriminating against unhoused transgender people. The former “would remove about 3 million individuals from food stamp rolls by changing eligibility so that recipients of other types of benefits do not automatically qualify,” ProPublica said. “Advocacy groups say the change will put more people at risk of hunger during the pandemic.” The latter “would allow Housing and Urban Development-funded homeless shelters, when segregating men and women, to assign transgender people to an area based on their biological sex, rather than the individual’s self-identification.”

    Another rule would block undocumented immigrants with deportation orders from work permits that allow them to work legally, meaning families will have no way to support themselves legally as they are potentially still fighting their cases here in the U.S.

    […] there’s no valid reason for any of these rules, other than to inflict cruelty on some of the most vulnerable populations among us.

    “The government has designated farmworkers as essential workers; they’re expected to work during a pandemic,” Farmworker Justice President Bruce Goldstein told HuffPost about the farmworker wage freeze. “The federal government refused to mandate safety standards to protect farmworkers and others against COVID-19. Now the administration is punishing farmworkers by effectively cutting their wage rates. It’s just cruel and unreasonable.” […]

  159. says

    Neoliberal Lysenko is out – CNN – “Dr. Scott Atlas resigns from Trump administration”:

    Dr. Scott Atlas, a highly controversial member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, has resigned from his post in the Trump administration.

    A source familiar with what happened told CNN that Atlas turned in his resignation letter to President Donald Trump on Monday. As a special government employee, Atlas had a 130-day window in which he could serve and that window was technically coming to a close this week.

    Atlas tweeted out a photo of his resignation letter later Monday. In the letter, he said his “advice was always focused on minimizing all the harms from both the pandemic and the structural policies themselves, especially to the working class and the poor.”

    “I sincerely wish the new team all the best as they guide the nation through these trying, polarized times,” he wrote, apparently referring to President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming coronavirus team….

  160. says

    HE’LL GET BACK TO YOU Back in July, Gov. Ducey said he changed his White House ringtone to ‘Hail to The Chief’ so he wouldn’t miss a call from Trump/Pence. Guess who called while Ducey was certifying Arizona’s election? (7 secs in) [Rachel Maddow showed this tonight.]

    TRUMP CALLS BACK ‘Arizona will not forget what Ducey just did,’ he tells crowd at Phoenix hotel ballroom that’s spent day listening to Guiliani & others’ baseless claims about election.

    LET’S GIVE THEM SOME SPACE Is the Ducey-Trump bromance over? This is a really bad public breakup.”

    Videos atl. End-of-cult vibe.

  161. lotharloo says

    Neera Tanden is an atrocious picks it seems. I was not familiar with her too much but really, stuff like this is pretty bad.

    [Tanden wrote:] “We have a giant deficit. They have a lot of oil,” Tanden wrote in an October 2011 email titled “Should Libya pay us back?”

    “Most Americans would choose not to engage in the world because of that deficit. If we want to continue to engage in the world, gestures like having oil rich countries partially pay us back doesn’t seem crazy to me,”

    https://theintercept.com/2015/11/05/leaked-emails-from-pro-clinton-group-reveal-censorship-of-staff-on-israel-aipac-pandering-warped-militarism/

  162. says

    #215

    If the leftists, if scientists, professors have been working secretly with the Chinese Communist Party, then line ’em up against the wall and shoot them. That’s what you do with them.

    And what about those who worked secretly with the Russians, the Turks, and the Saudis? What do you do with them?
    Apparently, you pardon them. Go figure.

  163. says

    lotharloo @ #225, that Greenwald article came out in 2015, when Tanden was advising Hillary Clinton and Faiz Shakir was becoming involved with the Sanders campaign. It’s a total hit piece, and that single sentence, from yet more leaked personal communications, already presented through Shakir’s hostile perspective, has been blown out of proportion and trumpeted by Greenwald, Putin’s propagandists, and the right for five years. (If you google it today, there are new articles and tweets from Greenwald, the Gr-yzone, RT, and Reason.) My feeling is that if a few remarks from some 2011/2012 emails are the best they have to go after her in 2020 then they’re grasping at straws.

    Tanden is one of the people whose Twitter I regularly read. It’s almost entirely sharing information about social and economic justice projects and policies and supporting people who are doing good work. She regularly promotes people further to the left, but is nonetheless misrepresented and attacked relentlessly by Sanders supporters. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it – she tweeted a picture of a bunny she saw on a walk this spring and the responses were a flood of invective. It’s honestly unsettling. Everyone should make up their own minds, of course, but I’d urge people to look at the entirety of her record. I’d take Tanden over Greenwald any day of the week.

  164. tomh says

    @ #225
    You may not have to worry about Neera Tanden since a GOP senate seems unlikely to confirm her.

    Biden’s pick to lead White House budget office emerges as lightning rod for GOP
    By Jeff Stein, Annie Linskey and Seung Min Kim
    November 30, 2020

    President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to lead the powerful White House budget office generated early controversy Monday, with Neera Tanden emerging as an immediate target for conservatives and Republican lawmakers…

    Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who is in line to chair the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee — said he hopes that Biden will decide not to formally nominate Tanden.

    “The concern I have is both judgment… and it’s the partisan nature,” said Portman…

    The other potential committee chairman who would oversee Tanden’s hearings, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), chuckled when asked about Tanden on Monday, noting that she in the past has had a lot to say about him…

    Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters, “I’m not disqualifying anybody, but I do think it gets a lot harder obviously if they send someone from their progressive left that [is] kind of out of the mainstream.”…

    Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), a member of the Senate GOP leadership…said Tanden was Biden’s “worst nominee so far.”

    She is a close ally of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and served as a senior adviser to President Barack Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services, where she helped draft the Affordable Care Act. She is the president of the Center for American Progress (CAP), a left-leaning think tank with deep ties to Democratic policymakers. The OMB plays a pivotal role in the White House because of its work in setting the federal budget and clearing new regulations….

  165. lotharloo says

    @ 227 SC.

    That sounds like a very Sam Harris-ish “out of context” defense. Was she trying to play devil’s advocate? Because otherwise, it is a very indefensible statement. And about her “promoting the people on the left”, I have no doubt that she is 1000000% better than anyone Trump has in place but that doesn’t mean she’s good. There are plenty of people who “promote people” on the left but they have some enormous flaws. This is not a comparison but to illustrate the point, there are a lot of TERFs who are very strong feminists, promote a lot of women, fight for equal pay, fight against the rape culture and so on. But that doesn’t mean it is okay to put them in a position of power. She might be a totally fine person in most aspects, but if she is a deficit-hawk, or war-hawk or whatever, then it’s not good at all.

  166. says

    Here’s a link to the December 1 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From Arwa Mahdawi’s latest in the Guardian – “Operation Rebrand Melania: what can we expect from the first lady’s rumoured memoir?”:

    …Extreme pettiness is not a good trait in a human being. However, it can make for excellent content in a memoir. I have high hopes that Melania will fully embrace her dark side after leaving the White House and take down the Trump family in a scandalous tell-all. If she does not dish the family dirt, her memoir risks being extremely anaemic: her time as first lady has not exactly been action-packed, after all. Chapter one: It was Be Best of times and Be Worst of times; I launched an anti-bullying initiative despite being married to the world’s biggest bully. Chapter two: Stormy Daniels compared my husband’s genitals to “the mushroom character in Mario Kart”. Chapter three: I went on a Kenyan safari in a weird colonial hat. Chapter four: I ranted about migrant children and Christmas. Chapter five: I dug up the Rose Garden. Chapter six: I contracted coronavirus.

    As Melania prepares for the next chapter of her life, it seems that she has already started throwing her nearest and dearest to the wolves in an attempt to clean up her image. On Monday, the New York Post published a fawning piece about the first lady, declaring that she had been done a severe disservice by Stephanie Grisham, her chief of staff and press secretary….

  167. tomh says

    White House planning a packed season of holiday parties
    By Josh Dawsey
    Dec. 1, 2020

    While many public health professionals have asked Americans not to congregate in large group settings and avoid travel over the holidays because of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 266,000 Americans and infected 13 million more, the White House is expected to throw more than a dozen indoor parties, including a large congressional ball on Dec. 10, officials say.

    The parties will be paid for by the Republican Party, a person with knowledge of the planning said, and will cost millions of dollars.
    […]

    The events will include more than 50 people and could risk the health of White House staff and others who work the parties — along with contributing to a rise in coronavirus cases during an especially grim stretch of the pandemic. Most guests will not be tested in advance, an official said.
    […]

    The events celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah and other religious holidays, and the invitees include donors, lawmakers, senior staffers on Capitol Hill, family members of White House aides, and prominent conservative supporters. The president and first lady Melania Trump usually make an appearance at such events, officials said…

    There is considerable interest among Republicans on Capitol Hill in attending the parties, a senior Republican aide said…

    They sound fun.

  168. says

    lotharloo @ #229:

    That sounds like a very Sam Harris-ish “out of context” defense. Was she trying to play devil’s advocate? Because otherwise, it is a very indefensible statement.

    She was at a think tank in a group of people discussing ideas – Greenwald notably doesn’t provide the exchange leading up to these two emails even though it’s clear they’re part of a chain, introducing them only with “After one CAP official, Faiz Shakir, noted how perverse it is to first bomb a poor country and then make it turn over its revenues to you for doing so, Tanden argued that this made a great deal of sense:…” (I suspect if the original suggestion had been hers he would have included that, so it appears he left it out on purpose.) She said in some email nine years ago that she thought something didn’t “seem crazy” given the political context, and Greenwald does everything possible to frame it in the worst possible way. He later updated with a statement from CAP: “We’re a think tank, and we have internal discussions and dialogues all the time on a variety of issues. We encourage throwing out ideas to spur conversation and spark debate. We did not take a position on this, but ThinkProgress covered it. The posts certainly did not endorse the idea.”

    This is very similar to what was done by the same group of people with the Clinton campaign emails (including Tanden’s) hacked by Putin, taking a handful of remarks from among thousands and giving them a diabolical spin. Do I think it was a shitty idea, whoever came up with it? Yes. Do I think Tanden’s suggestion that it wasn’t a crazy idea and explanation for why not are wrong? Yes. Do I think they’re indefensible and make her an atrocious choice for OMB in 2020? No. Do I find the seething hatred Greenwald, Shakir, Duss, and the like have for Tanden and their leaking and spinning of her private communications and mining of her emails hacked by a reactionary kleptocratic authoritarian regime to try to destroy her gross, misogynistic, appalling, and helpful to the right? Yes. Am I annoyed that this is distracting from the totality of her record? Yes.

    And about her “promoting the people on the left”, I have no doubt that she is 1000000% better than anyone Trump has in place but that doesn’t mean she’s good. There are plenty of people who “promote people” on the left but they have some enormous flaws.

    FFS, I didn’t say she promotes “people on the left.” Please don’t put quotation marks around things I didn’t say. I said she “regularly promotes people further to the left.” She’s on the fucking left. I was thinking mostly about AOC.

    She might be a totally fine person in most aspects, but if she is a deficit-hawk, or war-hawk or whatever, then it’s not good at all.

    If you want to get your impression from Greenwald and crew, I can’t stop you, but I will say that from what I’ve seen over the past several years they operate in bad faith and are actively harmful to the causes they claim to support. I suggested above that people get more information before forming an opinion, and I stand by that. Also keep in mind that the president-elect is Biden. His picks are going to be more establishment. We can’t assess them in comparison to who Warren or Sanders might choose, because they didn’t win the nomination or the election. For the range of people Biden would consider, she’s on the left end of the spectrum, and she’s also extremely capable.

  169. says

    Trump tweeted a few hours ago:

    “Do something @BrianKempGA. You allowed your state to be scammed. We must check signatures and count signed envelopes against ballots. Then call off election. It won’t be needed. We will all WIN!”

    and then retweeted some rando who links to his Parler account in his bio saying:

    “Why is Doug Ducey still pretending he’s a member of the Republican Party after he just certified fraudulent election results in Arizona that disenfranchised millions of Republicans?”

  170. says

    SC @232 “This is very similar to what was done by the same group of people with the Clinton campaign emails […]” And, it is similar to what was done to Hillary Clinton in general.

    This business of harking back to remarks from some 2011/2012 emails (without adequate context) smells very much like the attacks on Hillary Clinton. You make a mountain out of a mole hill, and then you repeat the calumny over and over again to try to make your mountain seem real and insurmountably bad. Also, of course you choose a woman to be the target. People on the rightwing were looking for a another woman to be the bogeyman/bogeywoman to represent the evil left. Now they have found one. They will attack full force.

    As tomh noted in text he quoted in comment 228, “She is a close ally of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton […]” That may be enough to turn Republicans against her … without good cause.

    Greenwald has already proven that he can’t be trusted. That guy becomes more of a dunderhead by the day. He is twisting, molding, manipulating and cherry-picking in order to present a deceptive picture. He has thrown the best and most useful facts about Neera Tanden out the window.

    Some people have developed an addiction to Trump. Some people have developed an addiction for smearing women with whatever bullshit they can manufacture. Some people get up in the morning to feed both addictions. This is not good.

  171. says

    Woooooow: “Now that it’s confirmed: József Szájer, the MEP busted during a gay gangbang [in Brussels], is not only a close ally of PM Orbán, he personally re-wrote Hungary’s constitution to include the following line: ‘Hungary shall protect the institution of marriage as the union of a man & a woman…'”

  172. says

    Senator Kelly Loeffler (a Republican, running in the Georgia race) says voters need a senator who understands “how it feels” to be “waiting on that paycheck.” Loeffler is the Senate’s wealthiest member.

    In other campaign news:

    Advisers to Donald Trump Jr. have reportedly put together a super PAC — called the Save the U.S. Senate PAC — focused entirely on Georgia’s Senate runoffs. The first minute-long radio ad features the outgoing president’s son saying his father’s record is at stake in the contests.

    AXIOS link

  173. says

    SC @233, Trump is asking the Georgia governor, Brian Kemp, to call off the state’s Senate runoff elections!

    From the New York Times:

    […] Trump’s sustained assault on his own party in Georgia, and his repeated claims of election fraud in the state, have intensified worries among Republicans that he could be hurting their ability to win two crucial Senate runoff races next month. [Trump] has continued to claim without evidence that his loss in the new battleground state was fraudulent, directing his ire in particular at Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both conservative Republicans, whom he has accused of not doing enough to help him overturn the result.

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    […] the Washington Post explained that “at least some hardcore Trump supporters in the state are turning on the GOP.” Of course they are: as Rachel noted on last night’s show, this has happened in large part because [Trump] has peddled nonsense about corruption and conspiracies that the Republican base is eager to believe.

    A campaign adviser to far-right Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), one of the two candidates who’ll be on the January ballot, said, “You can’t say the system is rigged, but elect these two senators.”

    Except, Trump apparently doesn’t much care. Sure, he’d like to see Loeffler and Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) win, but his principal concern is his ego, his rejection of electoral realities, his sense of betrayal from those whom he expects to cheat on his behalf, and his eagerness to capitalize on his scam. If that depresses turnout, or leaves his followers with the impression that there’s no real point in voting for some Republicans, so be it.

    He did, after all, promote a tweet late yesterday that read, “Who needs Democrats when you have Republicans like Brian Kemp?”

    The president is expected to travel to Georgia this week, ostensibly to boost the GOP incumbents ahead of their competitive races. Party officials are clearly scared of what Trump might say about the party and its state leaders. Given the circumstances, can you blame them?

    Postscript: Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R) said this morning he’ll be busy when the president visits his state on Saturday.

    Link

    So now that Trump has totally fucked up when it comes to turning out the Republican base in Georgia, he thinks he can fix it all by paying a visit to the state; and/or he thinks he can fix it by insisting that the Governor cancel the runoff elections. Trump is bonkers.

  174. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 235.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/the-proto-fascist-cauldron

    From Josh Marshall:

    This situation with Joe DiGenova saying whistleblower (in the informal sense) Chris Krebs should be “taken out at dawn and shot” deserves our attention for a few reasons. The first, of course, is the sheer unacceptability and outrageousness of it. But it’s also a window into the permissive and transgressive far-right/Trumpist ecosystem.

    Joe DiGenova wasn’t always this far out there. He’s actually a one-time US Attorney and was seen as upstanding, though always conservative, member of the DC bar. Last year he was a key player in Rudy Giuliani’s work with Russian intelligence operatives and oligarchs, bagging millions with his partner/wife Victoria Toensing as well as plotting to sabotage a US election. A week ago he was part of that nutty Trump lawyer press conference that appears to have broken the back of Trump’s low energy coup plot. And now he’s calling for a guy Trump fired to be shot.

    It’s important to be clear on this. Sometimes people can use ambiguous language that is clearly meant as a metaphor. DiGenova clearly went way past that line […]

    In any case, what happened here? I’m not saying what happened to Joe DiGenova like he was some upstanding guy and something awful happened to him. I suspect this was always who DiGenova was. I’ve been watching the guy for 25 years. But there is something about the far-right lawyer/commentator/operative ecosystem where any expression of aggression or appeal to illegality is basically accepted. It’s a permissive, enabling environment. I mean, that’s why we have Trump. It’s why we have Trumpism. It’s something with deeply political and historical roots. But whatever the roots it exists. And it’s why you have someone like DiGenova openly saying someone who is already getting very real death threats should be shot.

    It’s also why you have people suddenly pretty much openly demanding that state legislatures toss out the results of an election and declare a different candidate the winner. It’s a seedbed and […] attacks on civic democracy and the republic itself.

  175. says

    Triage, what does it mean in the USA where hospitals are being maxed out due to increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients? Here are some examples:

    Texas
    The Dallas County Medical Society has guidelines for triaging patients that north Texas hospitals have been using in the crisis.

    A separate palliative care team created to relieve the pain of those who can’t get full treatment and a triage committee to direct who gets what care
    Doctors start evaluating new patients for criteria that would deny them hospital admission
    Surgeries only performed on those who need it to live or for discharge

    California
    California developed crisis standards of care guidelines in June for how its hospitals should triage patients amid a total lack of capacity.

    Doctors recommended not to try saving those already dying
    Those most likely to survive get limited oxygen tanks, ventilators
    Family members called upon to provide basic hygiene services to patients

    New York City
    In late April, weeks after the worst phase of the pandemic had come to an end in the five boroughs, New York City released its crisis standards of care plan. That has since become a model for other local governments and hospital systems as they try to anticipate what is to come.

    A triage officer or committee is activated to decide who receives lifesaving care and who receives palliative care
    Patients on limited “life-saving technologies” re-evaluated at 48 and 120 hours to determine if the plug should be pulled
    Family members may be asked to operate manual oxygen ventilators

    North Dakota
    North Dakota, stricken by case loads and hospitalization rates that may be showing signs of stabilization, has a plan for triaging a pandemic from years ago.

    Volunteer-staffed minimal care field hospitals set up for pandemic patients
    No attempts to resuscitate people in cardiac arrest, either at a hospital or by paramedics in the field
    Paramedics treat people in the field to prevent additional crowding at emergency rooms

    Wisconsin
    Wisconsin’s state government committed to creating triage guidelines in March, but as cases dropped off, so did the effort. Instead, the state’s hospital association has a plan for its members to use.

    Expanding bed space to include conference rooms, hallways, outdoor tents
    Patients excluded from treatment based on pre-existing conditions
    Palliative care for those who “altruistically choose to forego treatment”

    Florida
    The State of Florida has yet to draft crisis guidelines for its hospitals, and instead punted the question to the private sector. The Florida Hospital Association ratified triage guidelines developed by a group of in-state hospitals in April.

    Public health workers given treatment priority
    New patients scored for admission based off of condition of organs, dementia, cancer, and other issues with age as a tiebreaker
    Patients taken off ventilators if their condition gets worse after 48 hours and 120 hours after intubation

    Arizona
    Arizona’s department of health services has an extremely detailed and comprehensive plan for its crisis standards of care. To date, it’s the only state to have activated its plan.

    Comfort care sites established for patients expected to die
    Scored admission to hospitals based on pre-existing conditions, likelihood of survival
    Triage officers appointed at hospitals to direct patients to ICU or comfort care

    Oklahoma
    The Oklahoma State Department of Health has a detailed list of triage guidelines for hospitals in the state.

    Staff at laboratories, radiology, testing re-directed to treat patients
    Patients receive smaller doses than needed of medications in shortage, or are asked to take expired medicines
    Look for additional medical equipment like IV hookups at veterinary offices
    Some patients only receive comfort care before death, no effort is made to save them if they’re beyond a certain point

    Idaho
    Idaho just developed its triage protocols, as cases have been spiking in the state.

    Emergency responders decline 911 calls with no immediate threat to life
    Hospitals only admit patients with a chance of survival
    Palliative care teams of “physicians, nurses, clergy, and lay persons” created to provide for the dying

  176. says

    Update regarding Trump pardoning himself:

    Rudy Giuliani has discussed a potential carte blanche of a pardon with his client, President Trump, the New York Times reports.

    The report doesn’t specify who raised the issue with who, and what class of yet-to-be-charged crimes such a pardon would cover.

    Manhattan federal prosecutors have been investigating Giuliani since last year, reportedly asking questions about the former New York City mayor’s finances and his involvement in elements of President Trump’s effort to pressure the Ukrainian government into manufacturing dirt on Biden.

    In addition to proclaiming his own innocence, Giuliani has also steadfastly maintained that President Trump actually won the election last month. [LOL]

    If true, that would seem to obviate the urgency of a pre-emptive pardon. [LOL] An attorney for Giuliani did not immediately return a request for comment regarding this and other questions.

    In a tweet, Giuliani denied the report. […]

    Link

    From the comments posted by readers:

    So, bang there it is. He knows he’s guilty of stuff that could send him to prison or there would be no mention of a pardon at all. That explains all the crazier and crazier antics. He is desperate.

  177. tomh says

    Grifters gonna grift.

    Trump raises more than $150 million appealing to false election claims
    By Josh Dawsey and Michelle Ye Hee Lee
    November 30, 2020

    President Trump’s political operation has raised more than $150 million since Election Day, using a blizzard of misleading appeals about the election to shatter fundraising records set during the campaign, according to people with knowledge of the contributions…

    Much of the money raised since the election is likely to go into an account for the president to use on political activities after he leaves office, while some of the contributions will go toward what’s left of the legal fight…

    The surge of donations is largely from small-dollar donors, campaign officials say, tapping into the president’s base of loyal and fervent donors who tend to contribute the most when they feel the president is under siege or facing unfair political attacks. The campaign has sent about 500 post-election fundraising pitches to donors, often with hyperbolic language about voter fraud and the like.

    “I need you now more than ever,” says one recent email that claims to be from the president. “The Recount Results were BOGUS,” another email subject line reads. “Our democracy and freedom is at risk like never before, which is why I’m reaching out to you now with an URGENT request…”

    The donations are purportedly being solicited for the Official Election Defense Fund, which is blazed in all red across the Trump campaign’s website, with an ominous picture of the president outside the White House.

    There is no such account, however. The fundraising requests are being made by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee that raises money for the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee. As of Nov. 18, that committee also shares its funds with Save America, a new leadership PAC that Trump set up in early November and which he can use to fund his post-presidency activities…

    The contributions, from thousands of grass-roots donors across the country, are split into several accounts… and could be used to personally benefit the president after he leaves the White House.

  178. says

    Follow-up to comment 222 from SC.

    Medical Pros Celebrate Atlas’ Resignation As COVID Adviser

    Doctors and health experts celebrated Dr. Scott Atlas’ resignation as [Trump’s] COVID-19 adviser on Monday, suggestingstating clearly that Atlas’ controversial takes on the pandemic response had contributed to a mounting coronavirus-related death toll in the United States that has now reached roughly 268,000.

    […] Trump had tapped Atlas as an adviser on the pandemic in August after he emerged repeatedly on Fox News as a kind of celebrity scientist. A radiologist, who now serves as a senior fellow at a libertarian-leaning think tank at Stanford University, Atlas suggested in his resignation letter on Monday that he had “always relied on the latest science and evidence, without any political consideration or influence.”

    Yet many experts have pointed out that the Hoover Institute fellow, whose own academic home distanced itself from his bogus claims, has no formal background in infectious disease — typically a requirement for a scientist serving in a capacity to provide advising on pandemic response.

    Atlas’ resignation, which he posted to Twitter on Monday night, was promptly met by ridicule from colleagues in the scientific community who celebrated his departure:

    [From Jeremy Faust MD MS] Many felt his best days of advocating for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans while vaccines began to be distributed remained ahead of him…

    No single physician did more to harm Americans in such a brief period of time as @ScottWAtlas has.

    His disgrace will be for all time.

    [From Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH] cott Atlas resignation from @WhiteHouse comes not a moment too soon

    His time was marred by barrage of misinformation, from promoting anti-mask quackery to falsehoods about testing

    He repeatedly tweeted disingenuous “data” & promoted widespread infections as a strategy

    He supposedly was a policy expert, but in my 2 decades of working on US health policy, he was never a serious player

    Scott rose to prominence saying on TV what pandemic experts would never say

    And found a buyer for his herd immunity strategy in @realDonaldTrump

    @ScottWAtlas elevated @SunetraGupta, Bhattacharya & @MartinKulldorff…herd immunity advocates who wrote shameful “Great Barrington Declaration”

    They claimed to promote “protect the vulnerable” & let others get infected strategy…but didn’t do much to protect vulnerable

    Few people as responsible for how badly things are going as Scott

    His tenure on federal payroll truly awful

    Claiming that he followed the science and actually doing so are not the same thing

    Wish him no ill will but our nation is better off without him involved in policy

    More at the link.

    See also:
    https://twitter.com/PeterHotez/status/1333633684495327232

  179. says

    Biden planning massive stimulus, flurry of executive actions to start erasing stain of Trump

    President-elect Joe Biden has ambitious plans for addressing the COVID-19 crisis immediately upon taking office, already developing executive actions that will kickstart the economic recovery and undo Trump’s sabotage across government. It’s the tallest order any incoming president has faced since FDR took office in the Great Depression, made even more complex because it’s a public health crisis, economic crisis, and racial disparity crisis being handed over by an administration that not only didn’t adequately address any of those issues, it purposefully made them all worse.

    […] The pandemic, however, is the top concern. Getting the upcoming vaccines distributed is a massive undertaking on its own, with a federal government that’s been gutted by Trump and states that have been starved of funding and of revenue. Ramping up all federal, state, and local public health entities to do this job is going to be a big lift, not to mention just the logistics of getting the vaccines delivered. On top of that, there’s got to be a public service campaign to convince people to take the vaccine.

    Biden has a surprising ally in the House for his ambitious plans: Rep. Richard Neal, who’s at the helm of the powerful Ways and Means Committee. He’s looking at least $4 trillion in a combined pandemic, climate change, and infrastructure package. Neal has not been known as an aggressive legislator, so this is helpful. Biden needs that ally, because in the Senate—even with two new senators for Georgia, if Democrats win those seats—it’s going to be touch and go to get a 50-50 Senate on board.

    The good news is that there are unilateral actions he can take […] That includes, Biden told NBC News last week, rolling back Trump’s “very damaging” executive actions, particularly his climate sabotage, and rebuilding the Environmental Protection Agency that Trump has “eviscerated.” Biden is also considering a push from Sens. Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren to cancel as much as $50,000 per person in student debt.

    He’ll begin cleaning up the Department of Justice with an executive order “directing that no White House staff or any member of his administration may initiate, encourage, obstruct, or otherwise improperly influence specific DOJ investigations or prosecutions for any reason.” He’ll rejoin the Paris Climate Accord and the World Health Organization.

    So, yeah. He’s got his hands full, even not knowing what in the hell Trump has planned for the next 49 days. Hopefully just lots of golf.

    It’s important to note that the Trump administration starved states of funding they will need to vaccinate people. It’s not just logistical expertise, it is money that states need.

  180. says

    Attorney General William Barr said Tuesday the Justice Department has not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

    His comments come despite […] Trump’s repeated claims that the election was stolen, and his refusal to concede his loss to President-Elect Joe Biden.

    In an interview with The Associated Press, Barr said U.S. attorneys and FBI agents have been working to follow up specific complaints and information they’ve received, but they’ve uncovered no evidence that would change the outcome of the election.

    “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,” Barr told the AP.

    The comments are especially direct coming from Barr, who has been one of [Trump’s] most ardent allies. Before the election, he had repeatedly raised the notion that mail-in voter fraud could be especially vulnerable to fraud during the coronavirus pandemic as Americans feared going to polls and instead chose to vote by mail.

    Last month, Barr issued a directive to U.S. attorneys across the country allowing them to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities, if they existed, before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence at that time of widespread fraud. That memorandum gave prosecutors the ability to go around longstanding Justice Department policy that normally would prohibit such overt actions before the election was certified. Soon after it was issued, the department’s top elections crime official announced he would step aside from that position because of the memo.

    Link

    As Pete Williams put it, “Barr opened the door, and now he is closing it.”

  181. says

    Canadian border update:

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that his country is not ready to loosen border restrictions with the United States giving spiking U.S. coronavirus cases, though he said it was “welcome news” that President-elect Joe Biden was taking the situation seriously.

    “We are incredibly lucky that trade in essential goods, in agricultural products, in pharmaceuticals is flowing back and forth as it always has,” Trudeau told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., according to the Washington Post. “It’s just not people traveling, which I think is the important thing.”

    Trudeau said he has discussed the ongoing border restrictions with Biden, but added “the situation in the United States continues to be extremely serious, and it will take a while to turn the ship around.” […]

  182. says

    Joe Biden seemed hesitant, or a little tired, or a little off his game when he introduced his economic team today. Biden is definitely not the accomplished orator that Barrack Obama is. However, the team members spoke well.

    Link

    Video is available at the link.

    […] Biden described his team as capable of steering the U.S. through the crisis and helping to rebuild the economy so that it’s stronger than it was before the pandemic and lifts up the middle class.

    “The team that I am announcing today will play a critical role in shaping our plan for action starting on day one and move fast to revive this economy,” Biden said in prepared remarks in Wilmington, Del., before announcing six intended members of his team, including his nominee for Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen.

    “Our message to everybody struggling right now is this: Help is on the way,” he added.

    Biden urged Congress to promptly pass a “robust package for relief,” while noting that any COVID-19 legislation passed during the lame-duck session “is likely to be, at best, just a start.” He said his transition team is working on a measure that he plans to introduce after Inauguration Day.

    […] Yellen, who spoke immediately after Biden on Tuesday, emphasized the need for swift action to address the pandemic and recession, noting the crises have disproportionately impacted the most financially vulnerable Americans.

    “It’s an American tragedy and it’s essential that we move with urgency,” Yellen said. “Inaction will produce a self-reinforcing downturn, causing yet more devastation.”

    […] Wally Adeyemo, Biden’s nominee for deputy Treasury secretary, said he looked forward to working with Yellen to reduce inequality, expand the middle class and ensure that American economy “works for everyone.”

    […] Neither Biden nor Tanden addressed the controversy surrounding her nomination at Tuesday’s event. Instead, they focused on Tanden’s background.

    Tanden spoke of being raised by a single mother who immigrated to the United States from India and relied on social-safety net programs to help her family as she worked to reach the middle class.

    “I’m here today because of social programs, because of budgetary choices, because of a government that saw my mother’s dignity and gave her a chance,” Tanden said. “Now it is my profound honor to help shape those budgets and programs to keep lifting Americans up.”

    In addition to Yellen, Tanden and Adeyemo, the event included Council of Economic Advisers chair nominee Cecilia Rouse and CEA member appointees Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey. Most of Biden’s picks served in the Obama administration in some capacity, much like the members of Biden’s intended national security team announced last week. […]

  183. says

    From Wonkette: “Dueling Jerks Perdue, Loeffler Get Their Racist On In Georgia Runoff”

    Even before Joe Biden flipped Georgia, it felt like Republican incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler were running Senate campaigns in 1950s Alabama. Georgia is on the same demographic and electoral trendline as Virginia 15 years ago, but Perdue and Loeffler won’t turn off the dog whistles.

    During the 2020 campaign, Perdue mocked Kamala Harris’s name like he was an emotionally immature racist, and Loeffler demonized Black Lives Matter and picked fights with the Black women on the WNBA team she co-owns. […]

    they’re doubling down on bigotry and culture war garbage, and hey, that might still work out for them. You’ll never go broke overestimating the racism of the average right-leaning voter.

    Rep. Doug Collins finished third in November’s special election for the Senate seat Loeffler acquired at an estate sale. Despite a fierce contest with a quite a few low blows, Collins quickly conceded the race to Loeffler (before the second recount and everything!), and they mutually agreed that the Black guy was worse.

    Democrat Raphael Warnock finished comfortably ahead of Loeffler in the special election. He’s also a more dynamic candidate who hasn’t committed COVID-19-related insider trading (allegedly). Loeffler has already released some gross, racist ads linking Warnock to Fidel Castro and Jeremiah Wright, the controversial preacher […]

    COLLINS: Let me touch on a few things. I’m not sure, Kelly, what a pro-choice pastor looks like.

    The crowd booed because they know a “pro-choice pastor” is more likely to resemble Raphael Warnock than Doug Collins. More Black Americans believe abortion is morally acceptable and should remain legal than non-Black Americans. We’ve actually grown more liberal on the subject over the past decade. […]

    COLLINS: I know what it doesn’t look like. It doesn’t look like what my Bible tells me when …

    Oh fuck you, Collins. Don’t quote the Bible to me when you’re a loyal political supporter of its major antagonist. Trump bears false witness 24/7 […]

    Warnock, the son of two Pentecostal pastors, is the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the spiritual home of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It’s appalling that anyone would question his faith, but we shouldn’t expect anything more from Republicans. This is direct from the Karl Rove swiftboating playbook.

    Last week, Ossoff visited the Atlanta restaurant Slutty Vegan during a tour of area small businesses (the ones suffering the most from the economic fallout of COVID-19). Perdue’s team thought it was clever to mock Ossoff for eating a “plant burger” like some sissy politician who’s aware that humans aren’t obligate carnivores.

    Perdue, once more demonstrating the classiness of your average schoolyard bully, said Ossoff can keep that plant burger because he “don’t go that route.” No, Mr. and Mrs. Perdue are gonna have the all-star special at Waffle House […] Did we mention that this rich asshole has his own island? […]

    Link

    See the link for a video taken inside the Slutty Vegan Burger Joint in Atlanta, and for details of Perdue, having thrown shade on vegans, perhaps did not realize that Slutty Vegan is a Black-owned business.

  184. says

    Coverage of the ‘bipartisan’ COVID relief package should be a lot less about optics and a lot more about the poison-pill liability shield from lawsuits against companies for putting people in danger”

    Would be helpful if the coverage were about that at all. Especially given that pretty much all of the Democratic leaders who’ve spoken to the media for weeks and weeks now bring that up constantly. Gillibrand was being interviewed several weeks ago and referred to the Republicans’ poison pill multiple times, only to have those comments completely ignored during the interview and subsequently. The coverage is almost exclusively framed as “Why can’t the Dems compromise on a smaller package?”

  185. says

    Ryan Goodman:

    Key and well respected Pentagon official on counterterrorism—Chris Maier—was forced out Monday, did not resign as first reported.

    Timing is highly disruptive to information sharing during presidential transition

    “Maier’s team … was in the midst of answering dozens of questions from the incoming Biden team about the status of terrorist threats, relations with allies and counterterrorism missions when his team was disbanded.”

    NYT link atl.

  186. says

    From the NYT article to which SC referred in comment 255:

    The Pentagon policy official overseeing the military’s efforts to combat the Islamic State was fired on Monday after a White House appointee told him the United States had won that war and that his office had been disbanded, according to three people briefed on the matter.

    The ouster of the official, Christopher P. Maier, the head of the Pentagon’s Defeat ISIS Task Force since March 2017, came just three weeks after […] Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper and three other Pentagon officials, and replaced them with loyalists.

    In a statement late Monday, the Pentagon said that Acting Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller had accepted Mr. Maier’s resignation and that his duties would be folded into two other offices that deal with special operations and regional policies. Those offices are led by Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Anthony J. Tata, two of the Trump appointees who have been promoted in the recent purge.

    Yikes! Ezra Cohen-Watnick and Anthony J. Tata! Sound the warning sirens.

    […] Mr. Maier’s supporters say he was summarily forced out of an important but low-profile job that required navigating the shoals of Washington’s counterterrorism bureaucracy as well as flying off to combat zones, including northeast Syria and Iraq, to work with precarious partners on the ground in the fight against the Islamic State.

    “Chris is a nonpartisan professional and carries years of institutional knowledge on an exceedingly complex set of issues,” Brett H. McGurk, Mr. Trump’s former special envoy to the coalition to defeat the Islamic State, said in an email. “It really makes no sense to force out someone like that 50 days before a transition to a new administration.”

    Mr. Maier’s task force was responsible for overseeing policy and strategy development as well as international negotiations regarding the fight against ISIS. […]

    Mr. Maier’s team served as a clearinghouse for the government’s counterterrorism operations and policies. It was in the midst of answering dozens of questions from the incoming Biden team about the status of terrorist threats, relations with allies and counterterrorism missions

    Yikes again. Sounds like yet another attempt to hobble the incoming Biden administration. And, perhaps, an attempt to hide evidence that shows Trump in a poor light?

    […] the move by the newly promoted Pentagon leadership to eliminate that central hub will almost certainly slow the flow of counterterrorism information to Biden transition aides in the coming weeks, several officials said.

    The Pentagon statement said Mr. Miller thanked Mr. Maier for his service. But a senior U.S. official said relations were strained between Mr. Maier and Mr. Miller […]

    Mr. Maier, 44, an Air National Guard intelligence officer who has worked in counterterrorism jobs in Republican and Democratic administrations for two decades, declined to comment.[…]

    While Mr. Maier’s backers expressed dismay at the manner of his dismissal — summoned midday Monday by the White House liaison officer at the Pentagon, Joshua Whitehouse, and told to clear out that day — they also criticized the new Defense Department leadership for playing to Mr. Trump’s overly optimistic assessment of the Islamic State’s status. […]

    When Mr. Miller announced last month that the United States would draw down to 2,500 troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan by Jan. 15, he trumpeted the demise of the Islamic State. “Thanks to our more than 80 partners in the Defeat-ISIS Coalition, we have destroyed the ISIS caliphate and will ensure they never again gain a foothold to attack our people,” Mr. Miller said in remarks on Nov. 17.

    But two months earlier, in late September, while still in his previous job as director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Mr. Miller struck a more sobering note in testimony to a House committee: “ISIS has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to rebound from severe losses […]

    Other counterterrorism officials estimate that the Islamic State, despite having lost its territorial control in Iraq and Syria, still has as many as 10,000 guerrilla fighters there, and maintains resilient affiliates across East and West Africa and Afghanistan.

    “Chris is a straight-up pro,” Nicholas J. Rasmussen, a former director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said of Mr. Maier. “The idea this is justified because we’ve won the war against ISIS strains credulity.”

    […] The disbanding of Mr. Maier’s office and his 15 or so staff members follows a similar consolidation at the State Department, where the counter-ISIS duties carried out by James Jeffrey were transferred to the department’s permanent counterterrorism coordinator when Mr. Jeffrey retired last month. […]

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/01/us/politics/pentagon-firing.html

  187. says

    Brad Heath:

    Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting systems manager, is just exasperated. “It has all gone too far.” A technician in Gwinnett County was told he should be hung for treason. The Secretary of State’s wife is getting “sexualized threats.”

    “It has to stop.”

    Sterling, a Georgia election official and a Republican: “Mr. President. It looks like you likely lost the state of Georgia. … Stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence. Someone’s going to get hurt, someone’s going to get shot, someone’s going to get killed.”

    “These are elections. One of our goals was to make elections boring again. Well guess what, that didn’t happen. This is all wrong.”

    Sterling means “Sen. David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, two people whom I still support in the election booth, but they need to step up on this particular thing. And that’s me speaking as a Republican, not in this office cuz I probably stepped out of line but I’m kinda pissed”

    Sterling says Trump’s statement that Brad Raffensperger is an “enemy of the people” “helped open the floodgates to this kind of crap. … There are some nutballs out there who are going to take this and say ‘The president told me to do this.’

    “You have to be responsible.”

    Sterling: “You have to be responsible. You have to be responsible in your rhetoric, you have to be responsible in your statements, you have to be responsible in your deeds. That shouldn’t be too much to ask from people who ask us to give them responsibility.”

    I’m glad a few of them are speaking out now, but where were they when Trump and his allies were using this same inciting rhetoric against Muslims, immigrants, Obama, Clinton, journalists, intelligence people, Adam Schiff, AOC, Ilhan Omar, George Soros, Mitt Romney, Gretchen Whitmer, Tony Fauci, state and local public health officials, BLM activists, anarchists,…? When people plotting or committing terrorist attacks against them were arrested?

  188. says

    The coming tsunami.

    […] Three dialysis patients are brought via ambulance within an hour of one another. There was an outbreak of COVID amongst the staff at the dialysis center, and these patients were unable to receive their normal treatments. Even worse, one of them turns out to be COVID positive themselves. The same happens with an infusion center patient who arrives in dire need of a blood transfusion. An elderly Alzheimer’s patient, whose daughter caught COVID and, as the sole caregiver to her ailing father, gave it to him, is brought in with extreme delirium, an underappreciated consequence of COVID infections. His vital signs are stable, but he yells. Screams. Refuses to wear a mask. Kicks and bucks at the staff.

    A classic COVID patient, on day 9 of their symptoms, arrives in triage. Their blood oxygen level is 60%, and while able to talk, are quickly worsening. It’s determined that they will need to be intubated. Except the hospital’s ICU is full, so calls are desperately made to other nearby hospitals, attempting to find an ICU willing to accept them. While half of the ER staff is assisting with the intubated patient and covering that nurses’ other patients, the COVID Alzheimer’s patient rips his IVs out and gets out of bed, wandering maskless and infectious down the hallway, trailing blood, opening the doors to other patients’ rooms. A scream brings the attention of a CNA who is “sitting” outside the door of a room with a 1:1 suicidal patient, who has been waiting four days for a bed placement; she and a x-ray technician, both only wearing surgical masks due to a critical shortage of N95 masks that hasn’t improved since the pandemic started, call for help and attempt to corral the patient.

    In triage, the wait time has grown to a minimum of six hours, perhaps double that for “less acute” patients. Large, white surge tents are setup in the triage parking garage, but even that extra space cannot decompress the waiting area fully. The sardonic joke of flu seasons in the past of, “if you don’t have the flu when you go to the ER, you will by the time you leave” takes on new meaning. Unlike during the summer, when patients and visitors could wait on a bench outside, it is now almost winter. The temperature at night drops below freezing. Environmental engineers have given it their all, having received the greenlight from administration to do whatever is necessary to increase patient and staff safety. Eventually, they jury-rig the ventilation system to pull in fresh air instead of recirculating it, and make the entire unit as “negative pressure” as possible, to keep COVID particles from aggregating dangerously. But without shutting down the hospital and conducting a wholesale gut of the building’s HVAC system, no permanent solutions will be found in time for this pandemic.

    The ER charge nurse gets a call from the nursing supervisor- the neighboring level-one trauma center is going on “divert”, meaning that they have decided their emergency department is too busy to manage any more patients. If an ambulance tries to bring a patient to the level-one, they’ll be instructed to take that patient elsewhere… and this is the only other emergency department within fifty miles. Indeed, within minutes of that notice, five ambulances have called in, saying they were re-routed and will be arriving momentarily.

    Except there are no beds to be had. […]

    Much more at the link.

    From the conclusion:

    […] Effective intervention was needed from the get-go. A coordinated message to push for masking. Using the Defense Production Act to make sure there was enough PPE to go around. Onshoring critical national security supply lines. Keeping schools and teachers safe. Not forcing working-class folks and small business owners to choose between paying bills and getting sick or dying.

    […] This story is not hyperbole. It has already happened, this spring and summer- in a number of places in the United States of America; it will happen again in the coming days. Some places won’t be as bad as what is described here; some will be worse. Regardless, we had a chance to avoid it; we could have done so with a modicum of national effort and competency.

    But that chance is gone.

    And the price will be paid in blood.

    The only question now is how much.

  189. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    With New York beginning to finally get through the backlog of mail-in votes (95% reporting at last glance), Biden’s vote total is now nearly 81 million, and exceeds Darth Cheeto’s by over 6.86 million or 4.3%. This was NOT a close election. When all is said and done, Biden may well have a clear majority, perhaps 4.5 percentage points higher than his opponent and have defeated him by over 7 to 7.5 million votes!

    Hey, Donnie! Choke on that, Loser!

  190. says

    Ben Collins:

    The guy who ran 8chan, who spent the last several years in the Philippines, is driving a harassment campaign against a random IT professional in an effort to further the Dominion conspiracy theory.

    He’s doing it on this website, using the army of QAnon fans he’s built for years.

    This is not just a particularly amoral way to boost a dying conspiracy theory. And it’s not just a terrible thing for democracy.

    It’s also just a rotten thing to do to a random fellow human, who woke up today the target of horrific threats just for doing his job.

    I got started on this beat because an old college buddy of mine became a target of one of these conspiracy theories in the weeks after the worst days of his life.

    His girlfriend was killed on live TV. YouTube and Google told the world it was staged.

    I know, I know. The guy who runs 8chan is going to accuse random people of being part of the New World Order plot. Water’s wet. The sky is blue.

    But public figures can denounce those lies, even when they’re benefiting from them. Social media platforms can make them fringe again.

    It’s not an exorbitant ask to expect social media networks to study and quell the systems on their platforms that put the lives of random private figures in danger on a regular basis.

    On days like today, when the harm’s so profound, it’s hard to believe it’s not the point.

    Anyways, it’s all a game to the 8chan guy, and that’s fine. But it’s not a game to his followers, and the private citizen he’s singling out fears for his life now.

    Don’t take it from me. Take it from Georgia Republicans, who have also seen enough….

    [He provides a link to the video of Sterling’s speech @ #257 above.]

  191. says

    The redacted name of the person who wants the pardon is quite short, likely one syllable. I read recently about this:

    …Alan Dershowitz, the law professor who represented Trump during his impeachment trial, is considering seeking clemency for two of his clients — a New Jersey man serving more than 20 years for defrauding investors, and a billionaire businessman convicted in what’s been called “one of North Carolina’s worst government corruption scandals.”

    Dershowitz said he recently discussed the pardon process with the White House.

    The North Carolina guy is named Greg Lindberg, which seems too long. I can’t find the name of the NJ client. Seems unlikely it’s them, but it’s someone rich. Could be a non-USian…

  192. says

    Hm. On p. 16, a sentence reads “At most, [redacted] provided merely a coordinating role, including with the redacted] and the White House Counsel’s office, to help ensure [redacted]’s work on behalf of [redacted]’ clemency petition reached the targeted officials.”

    That’s one of two places on that page where the redacted name is followed by ‘ and not ‘s, which seems to suggest the name ends in an s…?

  193. says

    Stacey Abrams:

    Fair Fight and I condemn in the strongest terms possible all threats against election workers, contractors, and election officials. We are deeply grateful for the local elections staff and elections volunteers who devote their time and talents in service to our democracy.

    Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who echo election conspiracies without evidence and contribute to the culture of intimidation and fear, should join us in condemning those who engage in these despicable acts. Georgians deserve better from their leaders than self-serving silence.

  194. says

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

    * […] “Attorney General William Barr has given extra protection to the prosecutor he appointed to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, giving him the authority of a special counsel to complete the work without being easily fired.”

    * A striking moment: “Gabriel Sterling, a high-ranking [Republican!] Georgia elections official, walked to a lectern in the State Capitol in Atlanta on Tuesday and angrily denounced the violent threats and harassment directed at people working on elections issues, urging President Trump to condemn it.”

    * Jerome Powell is right; Steven Mnuchin isn’t: “The chair of the Federal Reserve and the secretary of the Treasury painted starkly different visions of the challenges facing the United States economy in the months ahead on Tuesday, further exposing a rift that began to show last month.”

    * […] “A bipartisan group of lawmakers outlined a temporary $908 billion coronavirus relief proposal on Tuesday, far less than Democrats had hoped for, aimed at breaking a stalemate that has persisted for months.” [See SC’s comment 254, “The coverage is almost exclusively framed as “Why can’t the Dems compromise on a smaller package?”]

    […] Jobless data: “The nation’s weekly unemployment statistics have been plagued by backlogs, fraud and inconsistent data reporting state by state, making them a seriously flawed measurement that has likely overstated the number of individuals claiming unemployment during the pandemic, according to a federal report released Monday.”

    […] * Impeachment in Ohio? “While trying to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has faced throngs of armed protesters at the statehouse and crowds outside his home. Now, he is facing efforts from within his own party to push him out of office entirely.”

    Regarding Jerome Powell and Mnuchin, Lynna adds this excerpt from the New York Times article:

    While Jerome H. Powell, the Fed Chair, pointed to ongoing uncertainty over vaccine speed and distribution, the economic dangers of a surge in virus cases and the grim reality that many remain out of work while testifying before the Senate Banking Committee, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin painted a sunnier image of the economic recovery, emphasizing state and local lockdowns as the main threat to growth.

    The contrast underlines the divide between two economic policymakers who, earlier in the crisis, worked closely as partners to usher in a sweeping economic response.

    That cooperation has cracked. Mr. Mnuchin announced in November that he would end several Fed emergency loan programs, which are meant to keep credit flowing to state and local governments and medium-sized businesses alike. Now, the pair are voicing starkly different economic diagnoses.

    Mr. Mnuchin touted the strength of the economic recovery and blamed continuing economic shutdowns in some parts of the country for impairing progress, saying those are causing “great harm” to American businesses and workers.

    The Treasury secretary pointed to fact that many jobs have come back and said the unemployment rate had dropped far faster than many had expected. While he agreed that some industries, like restaurants, need support, he reiterated that any additional fiscal spending should be “targeted.”

    Mr. Powell warned that ”the outlook for the economy is extraordinarily uncertain” given the ongoing surge in virus cases. He said the winter could be a “tough few months” and small firms might go out of business, even though the economy might rebound strongly in the medium-term as a vaccine becomes available.

    “We do have a long way to go,” Mr. Powell said, noting that 10 million people remain out of work and that it is possible to both acknowledge the progress and pay attention to the remaining gap. “We’ll use our tools until the danger is well and truly past, and it may require help from other parts of government as well, including Congress.”

    The Fed Chair reiterated that positive clinical trial results for several vaccine candidates spell good news for the medium term, but warned that there are still big risks on the horizon, including related to the vaccine. […]

    Link

  195. says

    What Is Bill Barr Up To With New Special Counsel To Investigate The Investigators?

    U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr has made John Durham, the U.S. attorney who has been leading the dubious investigation into the Russia probe, a special counsel — creating a potentially messy situation for the incoming Biden administration.

    […] Barr ordered the appointment on Oct. 19, two weeks before the election, but kept it secret until Tuesday, “given the proximity of the presidential election,”according to a letter he sent the House and Senate judiciary committees Tuesday.

    […] Why Barr made the appointment and what it will actually achieve flummoxed former Justice Department prosecutors, many of whom have been critical of Barr’s larger politicization of the department.

    “The best possible explanation is that Barr is doing this stuff to mollify Trump,” said Peter Zeidenberg, a defense attorney who previously worked at the Justice Department for 17 years. “If that’s not the case, it’s just that Barr has really gone off the deep end”

    Durham was first tasked to review the genesis of the Russia probe in the spring of 2019 […] But so far, it has only produced one public prosecution: a guilty plea from a mid-level FBI lawyer who admitted to altering an email related to the Department’s effort to secure a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

    […] “This is just a stunt to use the [special counsel regulations] to continue the investigation,” Nick Akerman, a former prosecutor who worked on the Watergate investigation, told TPM. “He’s trying to make it difficult for the new Attorney General to put the kibosh to it if there is nothing to do it.”

    In the days and weeks leading up the election, Trump made known his anger that Durham had not brought any more indictments or published a report. […]

    What makes the move to anoint him special counsel more perplexing is that assigned him the role undercuts the whole point of a special counsel in the first place

    “The whole point is that it’s a person who’s not supposed to be entirely under the thumb of the Attorney General,” Sandick said. “But someone who serves as a U.S. attorney is in the hierarchy under the thumb of the Attorney General.

    […] “I am concerned that the more experience we undertake with Special Counsels pursuant to the Justice Department regulations, the more we recognize that they impose political constraints on the process and the resulting investigations are not truly independent,” Samborn said.

    Yeah, especially with Bill Barr still at the head of the Justice Department.

  196. says

    ‘Utterly arbitrary and unlawful act’: Farmworker groups sue Trump administration over wage freeze

    For the second time in recent months, the United Farm Workers has sued the Trump administration over its attacks on essential workers who feed the nation, this week filing a lawsuit against the Department of Labor over a recently published rule that would freeze wages for hundreds of thousands of seasonal farmworkers for two years.

    DOL’s decision “is an utterly arbitrary and unlawful act that inflicts grave harm to some of the most vulnerable workers in the nation,” said Farmworker Justice President Bruce Goldstein, which represents the organizations in the lawsuit. […]

  197. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 254.

    McConnell poisons the COVID-19 stimulus negotiations again with cruelest offering yet

    It’s been 199 days since the House passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act, and 61 days since the House passed their compromise $2.2 trillion bill, both of which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to consider. He has instead offered a few “skinny” proposals filled with poison pills, which he knew Democrats would reject, to allow his Republicans to say they tried to do something before the election.

    […] McConnell is offering another inadequate and dangerous proposal, reportedly with Trump administration approval. It does not provide any funding for state and local governments. It includes just one month’s worth of extended emergency unemployment insurance for both gig workers and for regular workers, but does not include any extra weekly benefits above normal universal income (UI)—no $600/week bump. Not even the $300/week bump that was in the September skinny bill from Republicans. It provides exactly $0 in direct stimulus payments. It does not extend the federal moratorium on evictions. It does not extend student loan payment forbearance.

    It does include the “Free Pass to Tyson for Murdering Workers” provision, which he is calling “Safe to Work” because he is a fucking monster. It also includes 100% deduction for business meals because that’s really how you deal with millions of people going hungry. It doesn’t not raise the limits for SNAP benefits. […]

    It ends unilateral lending authority for the Federal Reserve and Treasury with any unspent funds, meaning President-elect Joe Biden won’t have any of that available. It creates barriers for people trying to qualify for unemployment insurance, making them jump through additional hoops with short deadlines, which he calls “guardrails against fraud.” Again, because McConnell is a fucking monster who wants to inflict the maximum amount of suffering and to hogtie Biden’s new administration, all while claiming that Republicans acted on the crisis.

    This is garbage. It comes at the absolute worst point in the pandemic with an unprecedented surge in cases nationwide and with months ahead before the vaccine helps get us out of the pandemic. Millions are going hungry. And McConnell’s focus is on letting businesses get off scot-free for endangering, even killing, their employees. Oh, and free business meals. Because he is a fucking monster.

    At least the poison pills were mentioned in this coverage.

  198. says

    Trump fired me for saying this, but I’ll say it again: The election wasn’t rigged

    On Nov. 17, I was dismissed as director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a Senate-confirmed post, in a tweet from President Trump after my team and other election security experts rebutted claims of hacking in the 2020 election. On Monday, a lawyer for the president’s campaign plainly stated that I should be executed. I am not going to be intimidated by these threats from telling the truth to the American people.

    Three years ago, I left a comfortable private-sector job to join, in the spirit of public service, the Department of Homeland Security. At the time, the national security community was reeling from the fallout of the brazen Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. I wanted to help.

    Across the nation’s security agencies, there was universal acknowledgment that such foreign election interference could not be allowed to happen again. The mission was clear: Defend democracy and protect U.S. elections from threats foreign and domestic.

    With the advantage of time to prepare for the 2020 election, we got to work. My team at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, had primary responsibility for working with state and local election officials and the private sector to secure their election infrastructure — including the machines, equipment and systems supporting elections — from hacking. (Other agencies handle fraud or other criminal election-related activity.) The Russian assault in 2016 had not included hacking voting machines, but we couldn’t be sure that Moscow or some other bad actor wouldn’t try it in 2020.

    States are constitutionally responsible for conducting the nation’s elections. At CISA, we were there to help them do it securely. Our first job was to improve CISA’s relationships with state and local officials, building trust where there was none. We also worked closely with representatives from across the election-security community, public and private, in groups called coordinating councils. A key development was the establishment of the Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center to share security-related information with people who can act on it for defensive purposes. By the 2018 midterm elections, all 50 states and thousands of jurisdictions had joined the center.

    We offered a range of cybersecurity services, such as scanning systems for vulnerable software or equipment, and conducting penetration tests on networks. Election officials across the country responded by markedly improving cybersecurity, including upgrading to more modern systems, hardening user accounts through additional log-on measures and being quicker to share suspicious-event information.

    But there was a critical weak spot. Voting machines known as Direct Recording Electronic machines, or DREs, do not generate paper records for individual votes. And paper ballots are essential pieces of evidence for checking a count’s accuracy. With DREs, the vote is recorded on the machine and combined with voting data from other machines during the tabulation process. If those machines were compromised, state officials would not have the benefit of back-up paper ballots to conduct an audit.

    In 2016, five states used DREs statewide, including Georgia and Pennsylvania, with a handful of others using DREs in multiple jurisdictions. Fortunately, by 2020, Louisiana was the last one with statewide DRE usage. Congress provided grant funding in 2018, 2019 and 2020 to states to help them retire the paperless machines and roll out auditable systems. As the 2020 election season began, Delaware, Georgia, Pennsylvania and South Carolina all swapped over to paper-based systems. Then the emergence of the pandemic prompted a nationwide surge toward the use of voting by mail.

    The combined efforts over the past three years moved the total number of expected votes cast with a paper ballot above 90 percent, including the traditional battleground states. While I no longer regularly speak to election officials, my understanding is that in the 2020 results no significant discrepancies attributed to manipulation have been discovered in the post-election canvassing, audit and recount processes.

    This point cannot be emphasized enough: The secretaries of state in Georgia, Michigan, Arizona, Nevada and Pennsylvania, as well officials in Wisconsin, all worked overtime to ensure there was a paper trail that could be audited or recounted by hand, independent of any allegedly hacked software or hardware.

    That’s why Americans’ confidence in the security of the 2020 election is entirely justified. Paper ballots and post-election checks ensured the accuracy of the count. Consider Georgia: The state conducted a full hand recount of the presidential election, a first of its kind, and the outcome of the manual count was consistent with the computer-based count. Clearly, the Georgia count was not manipulated, resoundingly debunking claims by the president and his allies about the involvement of CIA supercomputers, malicious software programs or corporate rigging aided by long-gone foreign dictators.

    The 2020 election was the most secure in U.S. history. This success should be celebrated by all Americans, not undermined in the service of a profoundly un-American goal.

    Christopher Krebs is the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

  199. says

    Andrew Prokop:

    Okay, after reading it again it looks there are four people involved.

    1) The Pardonee (in Bureau of Prisons custody)
    2) Lobbyist 1 (described as an “attorney-advocate”)
    3) Lobbyist 2 (not a lawyer, said to have “political connections”
    4) The briber (a campaign donor)

    Yes, this seems right. And the person whose name probably ends with an s (or z) wouldn’t appear to be the pardonee, since p. 15 refers to “[redacted]’s surrender to BOP custody.”

  200. tomh says

    Republicans Confirm More Trump Judges Amid Pandemic Relief Talks
    December 1, 2020MEGAN MINEIRO

    WASHINGTON (CN) — Senate Republicans pressed ahead with confirming two of President Donald Trump’s nominees to the federal bench on Tuesday, as a partisan face-off over new coronavirus relief and a massive spending package continued…
    […]

    But in the meantime, McConnell said, Republicans would move ahead with the “pressing business” of seating Trump judicial nominees…. bringing the total number of judges confirmed under the Trump administration to 229.

    Four more of Trump’s picks for the federal bench are waiting to be confirmed with a vote in the Senate. Another four nominees are soon to be reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Democrats are calling for a halt to judicial confirmations during the lame-duck period.

  201. johnson catman says

    re SC @282: So Flynn is calling on The Orange Toddler-Tyrant to execute a coup. No wonder he needed a pardon for “any and all crimes” since he is advocating treasonous acts now.

  202. says

    RightWingWatch – “Pro-Trump Attorney Lin Wood and Pardoned Michael Flynn Call for Trump to Declare Martial Law”:

    Lin Wood, an Atlanta-based lawyer who says President Donald Trump asked him to join the effort to challenge Joe Biden’s election victory, is promoting a right-wing group’s call for Trump to declare martial law and use the military to oversee a new election. Retired Gen. Michael Flynn also promoted the call for martial law just a day after the Justice Department released the language of the extremely broad pardon Flynn received from Trump

    We the People Convention, an Ohio group with Tea Party roots, made the call for martial law in a full-page ad in the right-wing Washington Times and a press release distributed Tuesday. As of Tuesday afternoon, the press release had been shared more than 70,000 times online. Wood tweeted a link to the press release, adding his own message:…

    Wood, who is apparently working on his own rather than as an official part of Trump’s legal team, sued unsuccessfully to block certification of Biden’s victory in Georgia. He recently suggested that Georgia voters should hold off voting for Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in their runoff election until the senators did more to support Trump’s election challenges. Wood, whose Twitter bio includes the QAnon movement hashtag #WWG1WGA, is scheduled to hold a press conference in Georgia with former Team Trump attorney Sidney Powell Wednesday afternoon.

    Wood also represents Kyle Rittenhouse, who has become a right-wing folk hero after being charged with killing anti-racism protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin….

    The ad calling for martial law cites constitutionally suspect actions that Abraham Lincoln took during the Civil War as precedent for Trump to act. “Today, the current threat to our United States by the international and domestic socialist/communist left is much more serious than anything Lincoln or our nation has faced in its history – including the civil war,” the ad reads.

    The ad claims that leftist activists, colluding with Big Tech and a corrupt media, are out to destroy the United States, and that their “attempted stealing of these elections” is an act of “rebellion.”

    Here are the concluding paragraphs:…

    More atl. Lying fascist coupmongers.

  203. says

    Here’s a link to the December 2 Guardian coronavirus world liveblog.

    From there:

    Britain’s initial approval of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine should give Americans confidence as the drugmaker next week moves further toward seeking US approval, US health secretary Alex Azar said.

    “For the American people this should be very reassuring: an independent regulatory authority in another country has found this vaccine to be safe and effective for use,” Azar told Fox Business Network. “Here we’re going to let the FDA run through its process.”

  204. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    Vaccines won’t prevent short-term coronavirus surge – WHO expert

    The World Health Organization does not believe there will be enough quantities of coronavirus vaccines in the next three to six months to prevent a surge of infections, its top emergency expert said.

    “We are not going to have sufficient vaccinations in place to prevent a surge in cases for three to six months,” Mike Ryan said, calling on people to maintain social distancing and respect other measures to restrict the spread of Covid-19.

  205. says

    Monica Alba, NBC:

    Dire warning in the latest White House coronavirus task force report to states: “The COVID risk to all Americans is at a historic high… We are in a very dangerous place due to the current, extremely high COVID baseline and limited hospital capacity.”

    Significant: “If state and local policies do not reflect the seriousness of the current situation, all public health officials must alert the state population directly.”

    This is essentially the task force telling state health authorities to take charge themselves.

    Specific example: “It must be made clear that if you are over 65 or have significant health conditions, you should not enter any indoor public spaces where anyone is unmasked due to the immediate risk to your health; you should have groceries and medications delivered.”

  206. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    North America seeing record-setting daily Covid-19 cases

    Covid-19 deaths in the Americas have increased nearly 30% in November compared to the end of October, while North America is seeing record-setting daily cases registered, World Health Organization regional director Carissa Etienne said.

    Hospitalisations in the US are at their highest since the onset of the pandemic, and in Canada Covid-19 is spreading to indigenous communities in remote areas such as the Yukon and Nunavut, Etienne warned in a briefing.

  207. says

    At a White House holiday reception last night, Trump told the people gathered indoors, “We’re trying to do another four years. Otherwise, I’ll see you in four years.” I don’t know what he means by that second sentence. Just Trump not making sense, as usual? NBC News reported yesterday that Trump plans to announce his 2024 campaign on Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day.

    In other campaign news, here is a summary from Steve Benen:

    As part of his misguided offensive against Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R), Trump yesterday promoted a tweet claiming the Republican governor disenfranchised “millions of Republicans” by certifying the state’s results. Arizona doesn’t have millions of Republicans, and the certification process didn’t disenfranchise anyone.

  208. says

    After contradicting the party line on fraud, Barr faces GOP pushback

    Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis pried themselves away from losing more cases and issued a statement denouncing Bill Barr’s conclusions.

    “With the greatest respect to the Attorney General, his opinion appears to be without any knowledge or investigation of the substantial irregularities and evidence of systemic fraud,” Giuliani and Ellis said in a statement.

    More details:

    […] “To date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,” Barr told the AP. The Republican lawyer added, “There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all, and people don’t like something they want the Department of Justice to come in and ‘investigate.'”

    […] if the president’s hapless legal team had proof of “substantial irregularities and evidence of systemic fraud,” they probably wouldn’t keep losing in court.

    […] there’s still no evidence of widespread “irregularities.” […] there may be “questions” and “suspicions,” but that’s because Trump and his allies have told a lot of lies to too many people. […]

    The “questions” and “suspicions” reference is to a statement made by Republican dunderhead Senator Ron Johnson, the chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

  209. says

    Trump threatens to veto military bill for the Trumpiest of reasons

    This new threat clearly represents an escalation.

    It was just last week when the White House drew a strange line in the sand: Donald Trump was prepared to veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — a massive, annual defense spending bill — unless lawmakers agreed to protect the names of bases that honor Confederate leaders.

    The good news is, the president appears to be moving away from his pro-Confederate ultimatum. The bad news is, Trump has come up with a new ultimatum.

    […] Trump is threatening to veto a defense policy bill unless it ends protections for internet companies that shield them from being held liable for material posted by their users. On Twitter Tuesday night, Trump took aim at Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which protects companies that can host trillions of messages from being sued into oblivion by anyone who feels wronged by something someone else has posted — whether their complaint is legitimate or not.

    Condemning the telecommunications policy as “very dangerous & unfair,” the outgoing president wrote that he will “unequivocally VETO” the defense spending package until the provision of the law is “completely terminated.”

    […] quite dumb. The president has long been convinced that tech giants such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google have secretly conspired to undermine him and his party. Like Trump’s other conspiracy theories, he’s never been able to substantiate the claims or produce any meaningful evidence, but true to form, [Trump] has convinced himself that nefarious enemies are out to get him — even if others can’t see it.

    Nevertheless, [Trump] now expects lawmakers to “completely terminate” Section 230, or he will reject the NDAA. What do liability protections for internet companies have to do with a U.S. military package? Nothing, but Twitter keeps telling people that Trump’s anti-election missives aren’t true […]

    Indeed, from his perspective, Trump seems to think he has some leverage: Democrats and Republicans both want the NDAA to pass, so he apparently believes they’ll give in to his demands, and he can exact revenge on those rascally tech companies.

    He should probably start lowering his expectations. For one thing, while there may be room for reforming Section 230 at some point, “completely terminating” the policy is foolish, especially in response to made-up industry biases that exist only in conservatives’ imaginations. For another, there’s no reason to believe lawmakers will simply add this to the NDAA — without scrutiny, hearings, or concern for the consequences — as a way of dealing with the latest presidential tantrum. A Politico report added:

    “It’s a f***ing joke,” said the staffer, who spoke anonymously to discuss private negotiations. “This is a complex debate that has no business as an eleventh-hour airdrop.” The senior staffer said the push to include other proposals targeting Section 230, even a bipartisan bill led by Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), in the defense bill won’t make it either. “Full stop,” the staffer said.

    In case this isn’t obvious, the annual NDAA is more than just a spending package. As NBC News’ report noted, the measure “guides Pentagon policy and cementing decisions about troop levels, new weapons systems and military readiness, military personnel policy and other military goals.” The package, which has passed every year for six decades with bipartisan backing, also includes a pay raise for U.S. troops.

    Trump is willing to veto it anyway, apparently because some tech companies have interfered with his lying.

    Ideally, Congress could pass the NDAA anyway — competing versions cleared the House and Senate by veto-proof majorities — but would scared congressional Republicans have the courage to override a Trump veto on his way out of office. I doubt it.

    Either way, the president has left himself in a strategically bad position: he’ll either derail an important and bipartisan military bill for a dumb reason, or he’ll sheepishly retreat as one of his last acts in his failed term.

  210. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 257.

    After impassioned plea in Georgia, Trump makes things worse

    Republicans in Georgia have practically begged Trump to stop putting people in jeopardy with his self-serving lies, and he’s choosing not to care.

    […] Not long after Sterling’s impromptu remarks generated attention [see comment 257], [Trump] unsatisfied with having inspired violent threats, doubled down on his ugly and baseless campaign, publishing a tweet in response to Sterling, falsely insisting that Georgia’s election was “rigged” and marred by “massive fraud.”

    In the same tweet, Trump suggested Kemp and Raffensperger — two conservative Republicans who’ve supported the president politically — are part of a conspiracy against him.

    The circumstances are breathtaking: confronted with pleas to lower the temperature as Georgia officials who’ve done nothing wrong face violent threats, [Trump] deliberately did the opposite. Republicans in the state have practically begged Trump to stop putting people in jeopardy with his self-serving lies, and he’s choosing not to care.

    If responsible GOP officials want to deal with this madness before it gets worse, they could start by following Gabriel Sterling’s example.

  211. says

    Follow-up to comments 151, 282, 285, and 286.

    From Josh Marshall:

    Last night, fresh off his pardon for past crimes, retired General Mike Flynn endorsed a call for […] Trump to suspend the constitution and declare martial law. It came in a tweet in which Flynn tweeted and endorsed a manifesto calling on [Trump] “to immediately declare a limited form of Martial Law and temporarily suspend the Constitution and civilian control of these federal elections for the sole purpose of having the military oversee a national re-vote.”

    There’s a lot more awful stuff in the declaration. But that quote, I think, includes all we ever need to hear: declare martial law, throw out the results of an election you lost. In a democracy, this is essentially sedition, a call to overthrow the state.

    In 2015 and 2016 we saw in Gen. Flynn a man of extraordinarily bad and reckless government married to vast personal, venal corruption. Here he shows us again this is who he is and remains.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/flynn-tells-us-who-he-is-again

  212. says

    Awww. Tiny violins.

    Brad Parscale, […] Trump’s former 2020 campaign manager who was hospitalized in September over a suicide threat, said on Tuesday night that he and [Trump] haven’t been in contact lately.

    “I have not,” Parscale replied when Fox News host Martha MacCallum asked in a pre-taped interview if the two men had spoken with each other recently. “And it’s pretty hurtful.”

    “But it’s probably just as much my fault as his,” he added. “I love that family, and I gave every inch of my life to them. Every inch.”

    Asked what he would say to Trump, Parscale said “Keep fighting. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. The country needs you.”

    Near the end of September, Fort Lauderdale Police (FLPD) officers were dispatched to Parscale’s home after his wife Candice Blount reported that the then-campaign official, who had been demoted several months prior, was armed and threatening suicide. Parscale was then taken to a nearby hospital.

    Several days later, Parscale announced that he was “stepping away” from “any role in the campaign for the immediate future.”

    Shortly after the incident, Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh called Parscale a “member of our family” whom “we all love.”

    “We are ready to support him and his family in any way possible,” said Murtaugh.

    Link

    From comments posted by readers:

    Poor, poor Brad. Treated like just another contractor. But with one major exception: He was between Toadglans and the money instead of the other way around, so he got paid. Handsomely, I might add.
    ——————-
    Brad, here’s a hint and half for you: Donnie doesn’t care about you. He never did. He only cares about himself, and will jettison anyone, family, friend, or foe.
    ———————–
    Cry me a river, scumbag.
    ——————–
    I’ll bet the millions you stole are a calming salve though, eh?
    ———————
    Maybe they’ll get adjoining cells and can reconnect.
    ———————
    “The Family Is Worried Brad Will Start Talking”

    […] Parscale’s public meltdown happened while he is reportedly under investigation for stealing from the Trump campaign and the RNC. According to the source close to the campaign, the Trump family is worried that Parscale could turn on them and cooperate with law enforcement about possible campaign finance violations. “The family is worried Brad will start talking,” the source said.

  213. says

    Follow-up to comment 296.

    Congress shoots down Trump’s threat to veto defense bill

    Top Republicans and Democrats plan to ignore the president’s eleventh-hour demand to repeal a legal shield for social media companies.

    […] Key Republicans also made clear they weren’t going to bend to Trump.

    Senate Armed Services Chair Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said that while he agrees with Trump on Section 230, the provision “has nothing to do with the military.”

    “You can’t do it in this bill. That’s not a part of the bill,” Inhofe said, adding that he has conveyed that belief to Trump.

    In a pair of tweets Tuesday evening, Trump threatened to veto the bill if it does not include repealing Section 230, which he has criticized as a shield for social media companies whom the president believes are biased against him.

    “It seems to be more out of spite than anything else,” Reed said of the president’s threat, warning that Trump’s posture threatens several important policy moves, including a pay raise for U.S. troops. […]

    Ignoring Trump sounds like a good idea.

  214. says

    Yeah, it is not a good idea to attend a swingers convention.

    41 people who attended New Orleans swingers convention have COVID-19

    […] According to The Washington Post, approximately 250 people participated in the event at a New Orleans hotel on Nov. 14. Just more than two weeks later, 41 attendees had contracted the infection.

    The outbreak was first reported by NOLA.com on Tuesday after Bob Hannaford, the organizer of the annual Naughty in N’awlins swingers gathering, published a blog post last week admitting organizational failures that likely contributed to the spread.

    […] A spokesman for New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell (D) told The Post that the swingers event was a “very stark example of what can happen when you don’t obey the social distance guidelines.” […]

  215. says

    The Republican case against Neera Tanden crumbles under scrutiny

    As President-elect Joe Biden gradually announces his cabinet selections, Republicans appear to have focused much of their enmity on one person: Neera Tanden. As the New York Times reported overnight:

    Republicans said they were stunned by the selection of Ms. Tanden, whom many knew mainly as a hostile social media presence, to head the Office of Management and Budget. Even though many Republicans have refused to recognize Mr. Biden as the winner of the election, they said they were surprised that his team had not checked in with them on how they might react to her nomination to an agency that lawmakers in both parties see as critical when it comes to advancing congressional priorities.

    Let’s get a few things out of the way at the outset. First, the idea that Senate Republicans want Biden to consult with them on personnel decisions while many of them publicly maintain the fiction that his victory lacks legitimacy is completely bonkers.

    Second, no one seems to have any concerns about Tanden’s extensive qualifications and impressive background. […]

    And third, let there be no doubt that OMB matters — a lot. As Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum recently summarized, “The Office of Management and Budget is one of those agencies that’s little known to the public but surprisingly important in real life. In addition to managing the budget process, it’s also the agency that does things like regulatory review and cost-benefit analysis, which can make all the difference between environmental regulations succeeding or failing.”

    So, what’s the problem? Over the last several days, Republicans have come up with a variety of complaints about Tanden, and they’re so pitiful, I’m inclined to consider each of them one at a time:

    * Tanden has published intemperate tweets. That’s true, but if GOP senators are really concerned about those who publish intemperate tweets, I’d love to introduce them to Donald J. Trump, whose record of deranged tweets hasn’t prevented Republicans from offering him sycophantic support for the last several years.

    * Tanden is “overtly partisan.” Perhaps, but the idea that the OMB director should be non-partisan is a standard that didn’t exist up until a few days ago. As Jonathan Bernstein explained very well yesterday, “There hasn’t been a non-partisan budget director since the Bureau of the Budget became OMB 50 years ago. The directors who haven’t been politicians have usually been governing professionals, some with campaign experience and all with a consistent record of sticking with one political party. And rightly so. The job, one of the most important in the administration, consists of balancing the president’s and the party’s policy and political interests.”

    In fact, let’s not lose sight of the fact that Donald Trump’s current OMB director, Russell Vought, has been accurately described as “a political brawler.” His predecessor was Mick Mulvaney, who was a fringe congressman — and founder of the far-right House Freedom Caucus — before joining Team Trump. But when Mulvaney’s nomination reached the Senate, every Republican but one voted to confirm him, despite his role as an “overt partisan.”

    * Tanden is “nutjob.” That was the label Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) used to describe Tanden this week. Of course, the last person Graham described as a “nutjob” was Donald Trump. If recent history repeats itself, it suggests the South Carolina Republican will spend the next several years carrying Tanden’s golf clubs. [LOL]

    […] * Tanden is an “activist.” That was the label Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) used to describe her, but again, Russell Vought, before joining the Trump administration, helped lead Heritage Action, a far-right activist organization.

    * Tanden is “one of the architects of ObamaCare.” This was a complaint raised by Nikki Haley this morning, for reasons unknown. To the extent that reality still has meaning, the Affordable Care Act is a popular and successful piece of legislation, and Tanden’s role in helping shape it speaks to her qualifications. […]

  216. says

    Guardian world liveblog:

    The Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador suggested on Wednesday that politicians who impose lockdowns or curfews to limit Covid-19 are acting like dictators, the Associated Press reports.

    The comments came as López Obrador once again fended off questions about why he almost never wears a face mask, saying it was a question of liberty. He said pandemic measures that limit people’s movements are “fashionable among authorities … who want to show they are heavy handed, dictatorship”.

    “A lot of them are letting their authoritarian instincts show,” he said, adding “the fundamental thing is to guarantee liberty.” It was unclear if the Mexican leader was referring to authorities in other countries, or the mainly opposition-party local leaders who have tried to impose limits in Mexico.

    Many governments across the world have effectively implemented lockdowns or limits on when people can leave their homes, something López Obrador has fiercely resisted doing, arguing some people live day-to-day on what they earn on the streets.

    Some local governments in Mexico have tried to use police to enforce limits on masks or movement, which resulted in scandals of abusive behaviour by police. López Obrador argues such measures should be voluntary. “Everyone is free. Whoever wants to wear a face mask and feel safer is welcome to do so,” López Obrador said.

    The Mexican government has gone against the grain of international anti-virus practices in two ways. It has offered changing and contradictory advice on the utility of wearing face masks, and has described mass testing as wasteful and pointless.

    But one area in which Mexico has joined with the rest of the world is in the rush to acquire vaccines. López Obrador urged the country’s medical safety commission, known as Cofepris, to hurry up and approve the vaccine developed by US drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, which has already been given the go-ahead by regulators in the UK.

    “The whole process of authorization in Cofepris is being simplified, we don’t want that to get held up in bureaucracy there,” López Obrador said. “This is an urgent issue, the final paperwork is being started and Cofepris is going to be working day and night to approve it as soon as possible.”

    And on Wednesday, Mexico’s health department signed a contract for 34.4 million doses of that vaccine, and said it hoped to receive 250,000 doses in December. Each person requires two doses.

    Mexico has seen almost 107,000 test-confirmed deaths so far, the fourth-highest tally in the world, but Mexico does relatively little testing and officials estimate the real death toll is closer to 150,000.

  217. says

    Follow-up to comment 239.

    From Nicole Lafond:

    […] As his rhetoric puts the safety of innocent election workers, and even state officials, at risk, the outcome of the two runoff Senate races in the Peach State will show the value of […] Trump’s waning political influence — at least over Republican voters in Georgia.

    Trump plans to head to the state for a big rally in Sens. Kelly Loeffler’s (R-GA) and David Perdue’s (R-GA) favor over the weekend, just weeks out from the Jan. 5 election. The GOP is hoping Trump’s presence will reignite his base’s enthusiasm and get Republicans in the state amped up enough to vote for the two Republican incumbents in January.

    But Trump has been playing with fire. His voter fraud conspiracy mongering could have the opposite impact and depress GOP voter turnout as he rages against a system he claims is fraudulent and rigged just because he lost. There’s a chance Republican voters will buy into his conspiracy theories and avoid participating in the system altogether, spelling doom for Loeffler and Perdue, but also the GOP’s control of the Senate.

    It’ll also reveal just how influential Trump’s rhetoric remains over Republican voters on his way out the door. And whether it’s strong enough to reinvigorate in four years (or slowly sustain until then), when he, apparently, plans to run again.

    Link

    Irrelevant and counter-productive. That’s where Trump is headed.

  218. says

    Good news:

    VP Mike Pence administered the oath of office to Sen. Mark Kelly, who put his hand on a bible held of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema

    Arizona now has two Democratic senators for the first time since Barry Goldwater took office in 1953, my @ap colleague @asfram reports. (And one of them is from Tucson for the first time since Dennis DeConcini left office in 1995.)

    That Bible was passed down from @GabbyGiffords maternal grandmother, Thora Elnora Ackard, says Kelly spox.

    The story of Sinema’s purple hair, from @Katie_Surma in May….

    Photo atl.

  219. says

    New statement from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican:

    “This is exactly the kind of language that is at the base of growing threat environment for election workers who are simply doing their jobs,” Raffensperger said, referring to a tweet Tuesday night in which Trump fanned the flame on false claims of voter fraud that have imperiled the lives of election workers in the Peach State.

    “We will continue to do our jobs, follow the law and follow the process.”

    “It’s about the time that more people are out there speaking the truth.”

    The Georgia official urged voters to “look ahead” amid the state’s upcoming Senate runoff elections in January and to continue to advocate for their values “but do so peacefully.”

    “We are a nation of laws and not of men,” Raffensperger said on Wednesday imploring voters to be vigilant in upholding the nation’s democratic foundations.

    Link

  220. says

    Vital win as Trump admin agrees to not deport gynecologist’s immigrant victims amid investigation

    After trying to deport detained women who have spoken out about abuse at the hands of a notorious Georgia gynecologist, Vice News reports that the Trump administration has agreed to not take any further action on the cases of perhaps as many as a dozen women until President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January. The threat of deportation is over, for now.

    “It’s a victory for the women, who allege they were given gynecological procedures which they did not consent to or understand,” the report said. And it’s a vital concession by the outgoing administration, which had despicably tried two different times (that we publicly know of) to deport these women for exposing this horrific, criminal abuse.

    Among those expected to remain protected through January are Ana Cajigal Adan and “JR,” who said last month they again feared deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after discovering that their commissary accounts at the privately operated Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla had been emptied out. This usually indicates deportation is imminent.

    […] the agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office could cover additional other women: “Mbeti Ndonga, who immigrated from Kenya as a toddler,” and “Yanira Yessenia Oldaker, who was brought to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 3,” the report said.

    In condemning attempts to deport these women, more than 100 congressional Democrats had said they may in fact be eligible for special visas as victims of crime who then cooperate with law enforcement, and urged officials to release them as the investigation against Dr. Mahendra Amin continued.

    “Deporting these witnesses—especially when none of them have received independent physical or mental health evaluations by medical experts—amounts to a de facto destruction of evidence,” legislators wrote in the letter, The Washington Post reported. They write that the women—there’s more than 50 who have stepped forward—should have the chance to apply for what’s called a U-visa, which puts undocumented immigrant victims of violent crime who work with law enforcement on a path to legal status.

    […] The next steps should be for ICE to release these women from harmful detention conditions that the novel coronavirus pandemic has only made worse as the incoming Biden administration fully investigates these abuses. As legislators have noted, victims should also be considered for special visas.

    “I joined @SenJeffMerkley & colleagues in supporting advocates’ efforts to halt the deportations,” Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted in response to the report. […]

  221. says

    WTF?

    EPA joins conservative social network Parler

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) along with its administrator Andrew Wheeler have joined the conservative social network Parler.

    Parler describes itself as a place where people can “speak freely…without fear of being ‘deplatformed’” and does not do fact-checking. Experts and journalists have found disinformation including climate change denial on the platform.

    […] Asked why the agency joined Parler, EPA spokesperson Molly Block said in an email that the reason was “to reach new audiences and promote the numerous environmental accomplishments made under the Trump Administration.”

    The initial posts from the agency promoted its 50th anniversary, which was Wednesday, and touted the administration’s record on environmental issues.

    Its new Parler audience gave the EPA a mixed reception. Some commenters on the agency’s posts praised the Trump administration while one particularly vulgar comment called the agency a “CLIMATE NAZI!!!!”’

    Bret Schafer, a Media and Digital Disinformation Fellow at Alliance for Securing Democracy told The Hill that he sees some positives in the agency’s decision to join Parler. “It is generally a good thing to reach the audience where they are,” Schafer said. “There’s a potential to maybe debunk some things that are surfacing.”

    He expressed concern, however, about legitimizing the platform if it becomes a place dominated by extremists.

    Yeah, that would be my concern.

    “It’s hard to predict what that platform is going to become in six months and if it truly does become sort of a conservative alternative to Twitter, then sure I think it’s helpful to have government agencies there,” he said. “If it becomes more of a 4Chan, 8Chan place where conspiracies are running wild, I don’t know necessarily if having a government agency on a platform… then just sort of legitimizes some of the more problematic content that’s being shared there.”

    The agency’s time on the platform may also wind up being short, as it would be up to the Biden administration to determine whether it wants to continue using Parler post-inauguration.

    I predict that any voices of reason will be overwhelmed by the tsunami of garbage on Parler. And, yes, we should not legitimize that platform. Starve it of attention, (except for law enforcement, which should be paying attention to the many threats of violence and other encouragements toward rightwing extremism).

  222. says

    Brad Heath livetweeting the Powell/Wood “news conference” in GA:

    Anyway, after Georgia voting official @GabrielSterling basically implored people to tone down the rhetoric that’s leading to violent threats, Trump ally L. Lin Wood says “You listen up, Gabriel. You’re not going to sell our votes to China.” Trumps ex-lawyer is in the background.

    And now they crowd has moved on to a “lock him up” chant for Georgia’s Republican governor.

    This is insane. There’s no other word for it. This isn’t planet Earth.

    Wood says he demanded that Georgia’s governor swear on a Bible that he didn’t take money from China, but the governor didn’t take him up on it, so that’s evidence of fraud.

    Ex-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell encourages “all Georgians to make it known that you will not vote at all until your vote is secure.” She says there shouldn’t be a Senate runoff.

    She says we need to have voter ID and paper ballots. Georgia has both of those things.

    Trump ally L. Lin Wood – a plaintiff in one, err, long-shot suit to overturn the election and a lawyer in another – says “Joe Biden will never set foot in the Oval Office of this country. It will not happen on our watch. Never gonna happen.”

    Wood says Republicans should withhold their votes from Sens. Perdue and Loeffler unless they publicly endorse these utterly unsubstantiated claims that the Nov. 3 election was rigged.

    Wood: “How about Sidney Powell and Mike Flynn in 2024.”

    Related:… [LOL]

    Wood: China’s “making its move.” It needs “our land” to grow its food. This is quite the multinational conspiracy.

    Somebody asks why, if Dominion secretly switched lots of votes, you couldn’t just prove that by conducting a hand recount. This is a good question that blows up the whole theory.

    Wood and Powell just flat-out lie and say Georgia didn’t do a hand recount. It did.

    The lawsuit filed on Wood’s behalf literally included affidavits from people who watched the hand recount.

    Overturning elections in the name of freedom.

  223. says

    SC @310, JFC.

    Excerpts from the New York Times link to which SC refers in comment 314:

    As a member of the Senate’s cybersecurity subcommittee, David Perdue has raised alarms that hackers from overseas pose a threat to U.S. computer networks. Citing a frightening report by a California-based company called FireEye, Mr. Perdue was among the senators who asked this spring that the National Guard prepare to protect against such data breaches.

    Not only was the issue important to Mr. Perdue, so was FireEye, a federal contractor that provides malware detection and threat-intelligence services. Beginning in 2016, the senator bought and sold FireEye stock 61 times, at one point owning as much as $250,000 worth of shares in the company.

    […] Last week, The New York Times reported that the Justice Department had investigated the senator for possible insider trading in his sale of more than $1 million worth of stock in a financial-analysis firm, Cardlytics. Ultimately, prosecutors declined to bring charges. Other media outlets have revealed several trades in companies whose business dealings fall under the jurisdiction of Mr. Perdue’s committees.

    An examination of Mr. Perdue’s stock trading during his six years in office reveals that he has been the Senate’s most prolific stock trader by far, sometimes reporting 20 or more transactions in a single day.

    […] His 2,596 trades, mostly in stocks but also in bonds and funds, roughly equal the combined trading volume of the next five most active traders in the Senate.

    The data also shows the breadth of trades Mr. Perdue made in companies that stood to benefit from policy and spending matters that came not just before the Senate as a whole, but before the committees and subcommittees on which he served.

    Nearly half of Mr. Perdue’s FireEye trades, for example, occurred while he sat on the cybersecurity panel, a role that potentially could have provided him with nonpublic information about companies like FireEye. During that period, FireEye landed a subcontract worth more than $30 million with the Army Cyber Command, which had operations at Fort Gordon, in Mr. Perdue’s home state. In 2018, Mr. Perdue reported capital gains of up to $15,000 from FireEye trades.

    And as a member of the Senate banking, housing, and urban affairs committee since 2017, Mr. Perdue bought and sold shares of a number of financial companies his panel oversaw, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Regions Financial.

    Mr. Perdue disputes the notion that his investment activity posed a conflict, saying that his trades were handled by outside advisers without his input, although his instructions to Goldman Sachs to sell Cardlytics suggest that he directed at least some trades.

    […] In April, after questions were raised about stock trades that Mr. Perdue and other senators had made around the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, he abruptly sold virtually all of his stock holdings — between $3.2 million and $9.4 million worth. (Members of Congress report their transactions in ranges, so it is impossible to pinpoint the exact dollar values.) In May, he announced that his advisers would no longer trade in individual stocks for his portfolio, with the exception of a few companies on whose boards he had previously served, including Cardlytics; the utility Alliant Energy; and Graphic Packaging, a paper-based packaging provider.

    […] While there is no law or regulation prohibiting such trading, the practice has long invited questions about possible conflicts — and the potential for insider trading — that can arise when members of powerful congressional committees buy and sell shares of companies directly affected by the issues before them.[…]

    […] Mr. Perdue’s Democratic challenger, Jon Ossoff, has seized on the trading as a campaign issue. In a news conference on Monday, he accused Mr. Perdue of “using his office to enrich himself” through the stock trades. A spokesman for Mr. Perdue called the critique a “discredited line of attack” that was “baseless,” and his campaign recently unveiled an ad arguing that he was “totally exonerated” by federal overseers who had studied his trades.

    Yet others have also found fault with Mr. Perdue’s trading.

    In a letter last week to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat, requested an investigation of Mr. Perdue’s trades in BWX Technologies, a Virginia-based company that supplies nuclear components for Navy submarines. […]

    Mr. Perdue began buying the company’s stock about a month before he took over as chairman of the Senate’s seapower subcommittee, where he pushed to beef up the nation’s defenses, including by adding a multibillion-dollar nuclear submarine of the type BWX Technologies provides components for.

    He reported earning between $15,000 and $50,000 in capital gains when he sold the stock.

    […] “There is no way that the public can’t sense, can’t absolutely smell, that this is corrupt, that you have it in the back of your mind when you vote,” said [Senator Jeff] Merkley, a Democrat. “You may have the public interest in your mind, but you also have in your mind how that decision might impact the value of your portfolio.”

    Mr. Perdue, whose estimated net worth is more than $15 million, arrived on Capitol Hill in 2015, billing himself as an outsider and emphasizing his experience as a top executive at companies like Dollar General, Reebok and Haggar Clothing. He immediately established himself as a skeptic of government regulation, at various points suggesting the abolishment of both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    […] On Nov. 12, 2015, Mr. Perdue sold his position in Devon, worth between $50,000 and $100,000, on a day the stock’s price closed at $45.06. Over the next month, Devon’s price would fall as low as $31.54, a 30 percent drop from the date Mr. Perdue liquidated his holdings. Analysts attributed the stock’s decline to the company’s announcement, after Mr. Perdue’s sale, that it would acquire assets from Felix Energy.

    […] the transactions that invite special scrutiny are those involving industries that were within his direct oversight through his committee positions.

    Mr. Perdue actively traded in First Data, a financial firm based in Atlanta. Like his trading in Devon Energy, Mr. Perdue’s transactions in First Data appear to have been well timed […]

    After selling his entire stake in First Data in November 2018, Mr. Perdue repurchased shares in the company that December, three weeks before it announced a merger with the financial services technology firm Fiserv on Jan. 16, 2019. Mr. Perdue subsequently reported capital gains of $50,000 to $100,000 in First Data.

    Mr. Perdue had received campaign contributions from First Data executives.

    During his Senate term, Mr. Perdue has at various times held shares in roughly a dozen banks, ranging in size from JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank with nearly $2.7 trillion in assets, to the comparatively tiny First Hawaiian Bank.

    Regions Financial, a regional lender based in Birmingham, Ala., has been one of Mr. Perdue’s frequent trades. He spent much of his term loading up on the stock, buying shares on 30 occasions.

    […] During that time, he was also pushing to roll back financial regulations that had imposed additional scrutiny and cash constraints on banks with more than $50 billion in assets after the financial crisis. […]

    Between May 2017, about four months before Mr. Perdue introduced his legislation, and that November, he made more than a dozen purchases of Regions shares. And between Mr. Perdue’s first purchase of Regions stock in 2017 and the time Mr. Trump signed the bill in 2018, the bank’s shares rallied 35 percent. […]

    […] Mr. Perdue purchased up to $260,000 worth of Pfizer stock between Feb. 26 and Feb. 28, in the early days of a market downturn. On the 28th, he issued a news release reporting that he had regularly attended briefings led by the coronavirus task force; records subsequently showed that he had bought the third tranche of Pfizer shares that same day.

    The news release also emphasized that the U.S. government was expediting the development of a coronavirus vaccine. And in March, Pfizer announced its partnership with a German biotechnology company, BioNTech, to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

    […] In late February and early March, Mr. Perdue sold stock in Caesars, an entertainment company whose casino business would be hard-hit by the pandemic […]

    Midway through April, Mr. Perdue began selling most of his stocks. He moved some of his money into mutual funds and exchange-traded funds, which track baskets of stocks or bonds.

    The shift appeared timed to counteract harsh criticism leveled by the senator’s political opponents. But given that President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. and a sharply divided Senate are unlikely to favor the energy and financial stocks in which Mr. Perdue was once so active, it may also have been a prescient financial move.

    Link

  224. johnson catman says

    re SC @317: So would those charts be kind of like 8 x 10 color glossies with circles and arrows?

  225. says

    Humor/satire from Andy Borowitz: “White House Says Pardons Will Be Given First to Essential Frontline Criminals”

    With fewer than fifty days until the Inauguration, the White House is facing the daunting task of distributing thousands of pardons to those who are desperately in need.

    In an effort to insure an orderly rollout of pardons, the Trump Administration announced that the first recipients would be essential frontline criminals.

    According to the announcement, essential frontline criminals include all White House staffers and Cabinet members who have spent the past four years receiving improper emoluments, destroying evidence, and subverting democracy.

    “These essential criminals have risked imprisonment day in, day out, for the good of President Trump,” the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said. “They need to be immunized, so that they can continue their important work.”

    The announcement immediately raised concerns among frontline criminals, who fear that their swelling numbers, believed to be in the tens of thousands, could mean that there would not be enough pardons to go around.

    McEnany, however, sought to allay those fears. “President Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act to ramp up the manufacturing of Sharpies,” she said.

    New Yorker link

  226. tomh says

    Pompeo invites hundreds to indoor holiday parties, leaving health expert ‘flabbergasted’
    By John Hudson

    Following a sharp spike in coronavirus cases across the country, State Department leadership sent out a notice to employees one week ago recommending that “any non-mission critical events” be changed to “virtual events as opposed to in-person gatherings.”

    That same week, U.S. event planners were told that the guidance did not apply to the upcoming functions they were working on: large indoor holiday parties hosted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife, Susan, on the eighth floor of the State Department involving hundreds of guests, food and drinks.

    A copy of one invitation, obtained by The Washington Post, welcomes guests to a Dec. 15 event titled “Diplomacy at Home for the Holidays” in the Benjamin Franklin Room, the department’s flagship reception space, which features cut-glass chandeliers and towering Corinthian columns. Invitations have already gone out to 900 people, said two U.S. officials familiar with the planning, raising concerns about a potential superspreader event.

    “I’m flabbergasted,” said Ian Lipkin, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University. “An indoor event of this kind is dangerous on so many levels.”

  227. says

    Giuliani, with Michigan GOP chair Cox beside him, urged activists to pressure lawmakers to remember their oath to the constitution & to award electors to Trump. ‘Sometimes it even requires being threatened.’

    Giuliani’s comments to activists justifying threats to lawmakers came just a day after Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey’s office said it has referred several threats to law enforcement”

  228. says

    AP – “Trump’s grievances feed menacing undertow after the election”:

    The last throes of Donald Trump’s presidency have turned ugly — even dangerous.

    Death threats are on the rise. Local and state election officials are being hounded into hiding. A Trump campaign lawyer is declaring publicly that a federal official who defended the integrity of the election should be “drawn and quartered” or simply shot.

    Neutral public servants, Democrats and a growing number of Republicans who won’t do what Trump wants are being caught in a menacing postelection undertow stirred by Trump’s grievances about the election he lost.

    “Death threats, physical threats, intimidation — it’s too much, it’s not right,” said Gabriel Sterling, a Republican elections official in Georgia who implored Trump to “stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence.” Trump in response only pressed his groundless case that he lost unfairly, neither discouraging trouble nor explicitly calling for it.

    The triggering of emotions has always been a Trump staple….

    But in the final weeks of Trump’s presidency, the tenor has taken on an even more toxic edge as state after state has affirmed Biden’s victory, judge after judge has dismissed Trump’s legal challenges and his cadre of loyalists has played to his frustrations. As Biden builds the foundation of his new administration, Trump is commanding attention for the agitations he is likely to carry forward when he is gone from office.

    “I do not think this goes away on January 20,” Eric Coomer, security director for Dominion Voting Systems, said from the secret location where is hiding out from death threats. “I think it will continue for a long time.”

    Tough beans, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said of the state officials who are fearing for their safety.

    “They’re the one who should have the courage to step up,” Giuliani said Wednesday in Michigan. ”You have got to get them to remember that their oath to the Constitution sometimes requires being criticized. Sometimes it even requires being threatened.”

    For Coomer, the trouble began around the time Trump campaign lawyers falsely claimed his company rigged the election.

    Far-right chat rooms posted his photo, details about his family and address. “The first death threats followed almost immediately,” he told The Associated Press. “For the first couple days it was your standard online Twitter threats, ‘hang him, he’s a traitor.’”

    But then came targeted phone calls, text messages and a handwritten letter to his father, an Army veteran, from a presumed militia group saying: “How does it feel to have a traitor for a son?” Even now, weeks later and relocated to a secret locale, Coomer is getting messages from people saying they know what town he has fled to and vowing to find him.

    “It’s terrifying,” he said. “I’ve worked in international elections in all sorts of post-conflict countries where election violence is real and people end up getting killed over it. And I feel that we’re on the verge of that.”

    Intruders have been found on the property of GOP Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who has defended the integrity of his state’s election, which resulted in a narrow Biden victory. And a young Dominion systems contractor has been harassed with death threats and a video showing him working with election data. Dominion is the sole voting system provider in Georgia, so the company has been a lightning rod.

    “There’s a noose out there with his name on it,” Sterling said of the contractor, in a broadside against the rhetoric and threats in the election’s aftermath.

    Election security expert Matt Blaze tweeted angrily about the threats.

    “This is just sickening,” he said. “Every conversation I have with election folks, we start with death threats we’ve gotten. There’s no excuse for this no matter who the target is, but going after the on-the-ground technicians and other staff is a new low. Have you no shame?”

    In Arizona, Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said she’s faced threats of violence directed at her family and her office.

    For Coomer, Dominion’s director of product strategy and security, “this election was incredibly smooth across the board.”

    But sometime around Eric Trump’s post-election tweets about Coomer and a bizarre news conference where Trump lawyers Giuliani and Sidney Powell spun fabrications about Dominion and called him out by name, the real trouble started for him.

    Dominion hired third-party security for him, and he was told not to go back to his house.

    A few nights ago, he said, he was told in texts that people were watching him, and that he’d better run. Others had already said they’d rented a house in the town where he was hiding and would find him.

    “It’s a daily thing,” he said, “and no, I have not had a decent night’s sleep since all of this.”

    More atl.

  229. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Joe Biden currently leads Darth Cheeto by nearly 6.9 million votes in the popular contest–that’s 4.3% of total votes cast. This was NOT a close election. However, if the totals differed by just 50000 votes in the most swinging of the swing states–WI, GA and AZ, Donald J. Trump would be cruising to a win in the electoral college! Think about that–it means that a Democrat needs to win by well over 7 million votes in the popular contest, and probably more than 5% for the popular will to register!

    We have seen just how fragile democracy is in America. The elections in 2000, 2004, 2016 and 2020 have been our warning shots. The bizarre election rules in our country have allowed a minority of ultra-rich libertarian assholes to team up with racist, sexist, homophobic religious nuts and gun nuts to drive the country toward fascism. That has to change.

  230. says

    More from CNN re tomh’s #323:

    …The planned events are leaving State Department career officials enraged, as they have concerns about the parties contributing to the spread of the deadly virus. Career and contracted staff feel like they cannot say no to working the events, explained one of the officials. There is concern about the potentially dangerous position into which this forces people.

    “What makes Secretary Pompeo and his Chief of Protocol, Cam Henderson, think they are above the rules and have the virus under control to throw numerous parties when there is literally a pandemic raging inside the building that they can’t fix,” the second State Department official said.

    “It is simply irresponsible,” the first official said, noting that some of the contractors who work in the kitchen may not have health insurance….

    There’s a union that represents State employees, AFGE, but I haven’t seen anything from them about this. The first three items in the local’s mission statement are:

    “secure good and improved working conditions of covered employees”

    “secure and assure fair and decent treatment by agency management of individual covered employees”

    “represent covered employees in relation to agency management for purposes of securing desirable working conditions and proper individual treatment”

    Seems like this is something to vehemently and urgently oppose (for everyone! but for the union especially).

  231. says

    The obvious (and less obvious) problems with Trump’s epic rant

    Trump has an actual job to do, but he is posting ridiculous 46-minute Facebook videos instead.

    Donald Trump described it as perhaps “the most important speech” he’s ever delivered. By any fair measure, “important” was not the first adjective that came to mind.

    The outgoing president, still pretending he won an election he lost, released a 46-minute tirade recorded in the White House’s Diplomatic Reception Room. Elements of the lengthy tantrum were familiar –[Trump] stood behind the presidential seal, repeated a series of lies, and lashed out at state and local election officials for failing to be corrupt — but as the Associated Press noted, what Americans saw was a leader unraveling.

    Increasingly detached from reality, […] Trump stood before a White House lectern and delivered a 46-minute diatribe against the election results that produced a win for Democrat Joe Biden, unspooling one misstatement after another to back his baseless claim that he really won. […]

    The timing of the harangue could’ve been better: Trump peddled obvious nonsense about imagined voter fraud the day after his own attorney general, Bill Barr, conceded that the Justice Department couldn’t find evidence of systemic voter fraud.

    And that, in turn, made obvious one of the principal problems with Trump’s 46-minute rant: he lied repeatedly throughout the video. Despite impassioned pleas from members of his own party to stop deceiving the public about the integrity of his own country’s democracy, the outgoing president clearly does not care. Indeed, releasing lies via social media appears to have become a security blanket of sorts for the pitiful and defeated man to cling to in the wake of public rejection.

    But that’s not the only thing that made the mind-numbing video notable. It was also deeply unpatriotic. As the Washington Post noted, “Standing behind the presidential lectern in the Diplomatic Reception Room, flanked by the flags of his office and the country whose Constitution he swore to uphold, Trump tried to leverage the power of the presidency to overturn the election results.”

    […] But let’s also not overlook the broader context: the United States actually needs a real president right now. We’re in the midst of a deadly pandemic crisis that’s intensifying. We’re approaching 9/11-level death tolls on a daily basis, and hospitalizations have reached record levels. The economy is struggling, and proposed aid packages may not survive a tenuous legislative process. There’s a possibility of a government shutdown next week. There’s a challenging administrative transition process underway.

    Leadership matters. Trump has an actual job he should be doing, but the post-policy president, indifferent toward governing, has abandoned it, choosing instead to invest his efforts into ridiculous 46-minute Facebook videos.

    Facebook should not have allowed that pack of dangerous lies to be broadcast (live stream), nor should it still be available on their platform.

  232. says

    A Sketchy Trump Appointee At Census Is Involved In Wacky GA Election Lawsuit

    A top Trump-appointed Census Bureau official who was installed this summer under controversial circumstances is also serving as an expert for a Georgia lawsuit seeking to stave off [Trump’s] defeat in the state.

    Ben Overholt — who, earlier in the administration, was discussed as a potential hire for President Trump’s bogus voter fraud commission — filed an affidavit in support of the state court lawsuit, which dubiously alleges that there are enough anomalies within the ballot data to justify “decertifying” Georgia’s results.

    […] Overholt, the Bureau’s deputy director for data, “conducted this work on his personal time and in his capacity as a private citizen,” the Census Bureau said in a statement to TPM.

    […] Nevertheless, Overholt’s involvement in the increasingly bonkers legal campaign to try to muck up the election results will add to the scrutiny that has already arisen around his and other recent appointments to the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau, under earlier administrations, has strived to insulate itself from political influences. The Trump administration’s move to create new top roles at the Bureau and then fill them with officials with partisan entanglements has raised concerns about the pressure being placed the Bureau.

    […] Overholt claims that thousands of mail ballots — enough to change the results of the election — should have been rejected. He bases that argument on the fact that Georgia’s rate of ballot rejections for signature issues was lower in the November election than it was in prior elections.

    […] There are plenty of other explanations for why rejection rates went down in Georgia during the general election. Overholt’s affidavit never explains why he assumes the gap in rates means that those ballots should have been rejected. [not surprised]

    For one, there was a massive public education campaign, as the pandemic’s impact on voting became known, informing voters that they could fix ballots that stood to be rejected due to signature mismatch. […]

    Overholt’s analysis makes “a substantive leap that is wholly unsupported,” said Justin Levitt, a Loyola Law professor who was a top official in the Justice Department Civil Rights Division under President Obama.

    “There’s no reason to assume that the error rate would be the same as any specific prior election, if voters actually changed their behavior in reaction to external context,” Levitt told TPM in an email. “He’s got to present a reason to believe that the error rate should have stayed the same before his conclusion has any validity at all.”

    […] Some of the [Trump] appointees came to the [Census] Bureau after having done explicitly partisan work for Republican-linked causes. Overholt was shifted over to the Bureau from the Justice Department […]

    […] One of the panel members, Christy McCormick — a voter fraud alarmist who overlapped with Overholt at the DOJ before being appointed to her current role at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission — said in an email at the time that her conversations with Overholt made her “pretty confident he is conservative (and Christian, too).”

    […] Overholt’s affidavit in the Georgia lawsuit said that he was offering his expertise because it was based on his “experience” and because of his “personal interest in the matter,” and that he was “qualified to do so.” It also noted his five years of experience reviewing election data for the Justice Department’s “Voting Rights Section” — flubbing the name of the section, which is called the “Voting Section.” […]

    All the best people are flopping around like dying fish.

    From the comments posted by readers:

    it sure builds confidence in the Census being fair and precise when an asshole like this has power over it. It’s a very good thing that the final results have been pushed back until after the inauguration, that will give actually competent people a chance to look over the work and see how Overholt and other Republican operatives tried to twist the Census for their own ends.

  233. tomh says

    Democrats File Bar Complaint Against Trump Campaign Lawyer for ‘Blatant Threat’
    MATT NAHAM Dec 3rd

    Joe diGenova said he was joking, but Democrats weren’t laughing and they filed a bar complaint against him with the D.C. Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel…

    Democratic Reps. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) and Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), both of them attorneys, filed a complaint
    alleging direct violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct:

    …Mr. diGenova’s blatant threat to Mr. Krebs’ life inexorably interferes with the work of the courts in addressing the President’s claims about the security of the election in violation of Rule 8.4. Further, Mr. diGenova should have known this threat, which was made by means of mass public communication, could prejudice any proceeding in which Mr. Krebs would be called as a witness in violation of Rule 3.6…

    On Tuesday, diGenova told the Washington Examiner that he meant “no harm” when he said Krebs should be shot.

  234. says

    Barr Had A Rough Meeting With Trump After AG Couldn’t Back Unfounded Fraud Claims

    Attorney General Bill Barr reportedly had a “contentious” and “intense” meeting with President Trump on Tuesday hours after the Associated Press published Barr’s remarks that rebuked the sitting president’s bogus claims of widespread voter fraud, according to ABC News and CNN reports Thursday morning.

    On Tuesday, Barr spent about two and a half hours on White House grounds for what the White House and Department of Justice officials previously described as a pre-planned meeting with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.

    However, Barr didn’t just meet with Meadows while on White House grounds. Trump beckoned the attorney general — who was previously notorious for egging on the President’s baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud through mail-in voting — to meet him inside the West Wing.

    Barr’s remarks to the AP that undercut Trump’s unfounded voter fraud claims caused the sitting president to erupt on his attorney general during the “intense” and “contentious” meeting, according to ABC News and CNN.

    Despite tensions during Trump and Barr’s meeting on Tuesday, CNN reported that a source said that the President was not screaming at the attorney general. […]

    Well, Trump wasn’t screaming. Low bar.

  235. says

    Follow-up to tomh @337.

    Trump campaign lawyer Joe diGenova resigned from the elite Gridiron Club earlier this week after he suggested that a former cybersecurity official should be executed after touting a secure election and rebutting claims of widespread fraud made by […] Trump and his allies.

    The Trump lawyer and former U.S. attorney made the announcement on Tuesday after being asked to step down after more than 25 years as a “limited” member of a club frequented by Washington-area journalists, the Washington Post reported Wednesday evening.

    The news comes after diGenova faced swift backlash for telling conservative radio show host Howie Carr on Monday that Chris Krebs, a former federal elections official who Trump fired last month, should be “taken out at dawn and shot.”

    Club president Craig Gilbert, who is the Washington bureau chief for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, said that the 135-year-old social club where Trump has given remarks was “dismayed” by the lawyer’s comments which he said were “antithetical to what the club is about.” […]

    Link

  236. says

    ‘We have been repeatedly asking’: Trump admin only now shares new data that could reunite more kids

    The Trump administration has had in its possession additional contact information that could prove vital in helping reunite families it cruelly ripped apart at the southern border but has only just now given that data to advocates tasked by a federal judge with finding deported parents, NBC News reports. Attorneys said the data has not yet been fully reviewed but does include “phone numbers that had not previously been known.”

    The report said the data was turned over only after advocates have been pleading for months for any additional information that could prove vital in putting back together the families the federal government tore in two. “Everyone’s been asking whether the Trump administration has been helping to find these families,” American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Gelernt told NBC News. “Not only have they not been helping, but they have been withholding this data forever.” […]

  237. says

    So Ivanka Trump was deposed in DC this week about their inauguration grift (for which they can’t be pardoned, incidentally). She tweeted some snotty, dishonest comments about how she showed the AG’s office some email in which she instructed the hotel to charge a fair market rate.

    Susan Hennessey’s response:

    This isn’t actually a defense at all. The crux of the corruption in question is why a hotel owned by the incoming president determined that the “fair market rate” to stay there during his inauguration was so much higher than comparable hotels in DC.

    Maybe those Trump Hotel towels are just extra fluffy. Or maybe the president’s family decided that the market would be willing to pay a little extra for the privilege of putting money directly into his pockets and reaping the rewards.

    Inaugural committee staff *at the time* raised objections that prices were excessive and warned “events are in [Trump’s] honor at his hotel and one of them is for family and close friends. Please take into consideration that when this is audited it will become public knowledge.”

    And I’ll never get past just how corrupt, how outrageous, how wildly outside of any idea of proper presidential behavior this whole arrangement with his DC hotel and his private clubs has been and continues to be. Even if they had charged a fair market rate, the whole thing is just indecent.

  238. says

    Living in LaLa Land … and spinning wildly: “Pro-Trump Lawyers Say GOP Governor in Georgia Is a Chinese Agent and Blame George Soros”

    […] In a particularly deranged and conspiracy-filled press conference held in Georgia on Wednesday by attorney Lin Wood and Sidney Powell,[…] the two repeatedly affirmed, without citing any evidence, that Trump not only won Georgia but most other states, including California. They wildly described a massive (and fictitious) international conspiracy involving Dominion voting systems, China, George Soros, the Deep State, and the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez collaborating to steal the election from the president.

    “It’s 1776 in America again,” Wood, (an attorney and Trump ally who is currently representing Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who shot killed unarmed protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin), shouted with a preacher’s conviction to the crowd gathered in a North Atlanta suburb. He then shouted for George Soros to “get out of our country,” adding “you’re not going to sell our votes to China!” Powell falsely claimed that Georgia’s election was stolen from the president because voting machines manufactured by Dominion Voting systems were rigged to give Biden more votes. She added, without any evidence, that the recount of Georgia’s votes was also a sham and that both state and local election officials have been physically destroying ballots marked for Trump in order to get rid of evidence of voter fraud. Georgia certified its votes on November 20 with backing of its Republican Gov. Brian Kemp and election officials, including Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who is also a Republican. Both Wood and Powell called for Kemp and Raffensberger to resign as the crowd chanted for them to be locked up, with Wood bizarrely claiming that Kemp is a foreign agent working on behalf of China. Raffensperger, along with his wife, has received death threats in recent days.

    But the November 3 election wasn’t the only one they called a sham. Both Wood and Powell also falsely claimed that the upcoming runoffs for Georgia’s two US Senate seats were currently being rigged and called on supporters at the rally to not vote. “I would encourage all Georgians to make it known that you will not vote at all unless your vote is secure,” Powell said. “There should not be a runoff. Certainly not on Dominion machines.”

    This would all be extremely laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous. The people enabling Trump’s denial of reality—that he won the 2020 election by a landslide and that a rigged election is keeping him from serving a second term—are now inciting violence against people who are just doing their job. And the president himself is eating it up: In a lengthy, meandering speech posted onto his Facebook page Wednesday afternoon , Trump said that, “as president I have no higher duty than to defend the laws of the Constitution of the United States, that is why I am determined to protect our election system, which is now under coordinated assault and siege.” A statement par for course for a president who has spent four years trying to warp reality with disinformation.

    Link

  239. says

    In Korea, the United States is called 미국 (pronounced miguk), which directly translates to “beautiful country.” It has always seemed like a fitting name, considering Korea’s longstanding admiration of the U.S.

    Until now.

    These days in Korea, TV broadcasters talk about the U.S. with grim faces, flashing to B-roll of lines of Americans wrapped around buildings waiting for Covid-19 testing or graphs depicting an exponential growth of pandemic deaths. Newspaper headlines question the strength of U.S. democracy above pictures of demonstrators protesting mythical claims of voter fraud. One recent column in the Hankyoreh, a major center-left daily newspaper, is titled, “Covid-19 and the downfall of the U.S.” Another headline, in sisajournal, a popular weekly current events magazine, reads: “The surprising election system that makes you wonder ‘Is the U.S. actually a democratic country?’” And it’s not just in the news. In boardrooms, in classrooms and in casual dinner table conversations, you’ll hear the same sense of bewilderment: How did the U.S. lose its way?

    It’s a shocking development for a country that has, for decades, largely viewed the United States almost like an older sibling—a model of success and progress that Koreans were proud to emulate. Now, many Koreans see the U.S. as a failing country, deeply divided and unable to meet basic challenges. The shift began after President Donald Trump’s 2016 win, when many Koreans were shocked to see him claim the presidency after a string of scandals. But the clincher has been America’s bungled response to Covid-19, followed by Trump and the GOP’s recent efforts to contest the legitimate results of the 2020 U.S. election. For Koreans, the past year has exposed the deep problems within the American system, from hyperpartisanship and deep distrust in government to a poor health care system—issues that have long been familiar to Americans, but not to Koreans, many of whom have maintained the idea of American exceptionalism far longer and livelier than many Americans. […]

    “There was a strong belief that there was a lot to learn from the U.S., but then that faith in Americans crumbled after they voted from Trump,” he says. “As we’ve watched the U.S. fail to contain Covid-19 and rebel against mask-wearing through the media, we’ve come to realize that the U.S. is no longer a more ‘developed’ country than us.” […]

    Link

  240. says

    Another defeat, of sorts, in court for Trump:

    Wisconsin’s top court turned away a lawsuit from President Trump that sought to have the state’s election results decertified, yet another blow to Trump’s long-shot legal efforts to undo President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

    A majority of judges on the Wisconsin Supreme Court said on Thursday that the lawsuit filed this week would be best suited for one of the state’s lower courts.

    [Trump’s lawyers] filed the lawsuit on Tuesday, asking the Supreme Court to toss out more than 200,000 votes in Democratic-leaning counties that he alleges were illegally cast.

    Trump lost the battleground state to Biden by more than 20,000 votes.

    Trump and his allies have flooded battleground states with litigation in a Hail Mary attempt to nullify Biden’s victory. The effort has largely proved unsuccessful so far.

    Link

  241. says

    Federal, industry officials warn that hackers are targeting vaccine distribution process

    A senior FBI cybersecurity official and top security experts at leading healthcare groups on Thursday warned that nation state hackers and other cyber criminals are targeting the COVID-19 vaccine distribution process.

    “We see our most determined nation state adversaries not just relying on one method to target the supply chain, but combining cyber with using more traditional espionage and human sources to try to penetrate organizations,” Tonya Ugoretz, the FBI’s deputy assistant director of Cyber Readiness, Outreach, and Intelligence Branch, said at the Aspen Institute’s virtual Cyber Summit.

    Ugoretz’s comments were made the same day IBM issued a warning that a “global phishing campaign” was targeting the cold storage portion of the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) put out a joint alert to encourage groups involved in the vaccine distribution process to be on guard against attacks. […]

  242. says

    From Wonkette:

    […] Meet Mellissa Carone with two ‘L’s, one of the Trump legal team’s star witnesses for both day one and day two of their hearings before the Michigan legislature, where they are arguing that the entire election in Michigan was invalid because Black people voted and Trump did not win.

    You have perhaps already seen the now-viral video of Carone testifying on Wednesday, probably because she was so good at testifying that you shared it with everybody you ever met. If you haven’t seen it, though, watch it here, if only for the part where Rudy Giuliani tries to pull Carone back from the edge of the cliff: [Video at the link]

    You know you’re living life right when Rudy Giuliani — Rudy Giuliani — nudges you while you’re talking like, “OK lady, no offense, but you sound LI’L BIT BATSHIT.”

    Choice quote: “That poll book? Is completely off! Completely off! I’d say that poll book is off by over 100,000. That poll book? Why don’t you look at the registered voters on there? How many registered voters are on there? Do you know the answer to that? Zero. Zero. There’s zero.”

    ZERO! ZERO registered voters, in the WHOLE OF WAYNE COUNTY!

    When Republican state Rep. Steven Johnson — yes, Republican — tried to tell Carone that he simply didn’t see the discrepancies in the poll books Carone appeared to be hallucinating, she slurred, “WHADDDDDDDDDJU GUYS DO? TAKE IT AND DO SUMPIN’ CRAZY TO IT?” She added, “I signed something saying if I’m wrong, I can go to prison, DIDJU?”

    WELL DIDJU?

    Carone didn’t want to be under oath. As the Daily Beast reports, after exclaiming, “I have an affidavit!” she added, “I am a mother, I have two children, I have two degrees. I don’t know any woman in the world that would write an affidavit under oath just to write it.” (You remember all those Trump campaign Michigan affidavits, yeah? The ones Kayleigh McEnany has been waving around on TV? The ones that were like “I saw a Black man and he was big and he looked at me”? The ones a judge has already said are absolutely full of shit?)

    Carone claims she was a “contractor” for DOMINION!11!!1VOTINGMACHINEsS!!!HUGOCHAVEZ!11! though she had a pretty hard time explaining what exactly her “job” was, so who knows if that is even true? Who knows if her name is even Mellissa Carone? […]

    HuffPost reporter Ryan Reilly shared some screengrabs of this star witness, whom Rudy Giuliani claims he just met. […]

    [snipped examples from social media]

    Mellissa Carone is simply some loud camera-hogging idiot the Trump campaign found at a Stop The Steal rally. This is the best they got, kids.

    In Carone’s Tuesday testimony, she explained that she didn’t like the parking arrangements for poll workers, therefore fraud: [video at the link]

    She also made up some shit Tuesday about poll workers running batches of ballots over and over again.

    “Everything that happened at that TCF Center was fraud,” Carone explained about the vote tabulation center in Detroit that Sidney Powell tried to use as evidence for her Wisconsin lawsuit. As Wonkette noted yesterday in our post about the first day of sideshow hearings in the Michigan lege, a judge has already looked at Carone’s claims and credibility and found them to be … what’s the legal term? Oh yes, we believe the Latin term is LOLFUCKOFF.

    In summary and in conclusion, Donald Trump is probably right now this second hiring this woman as a full-timer on his legal team, or maybe considering her as a replacement for Bill Barr […]

    Link

    This incident, (more of an incident than actual testimony), which rivaled an SNL skit, was already mentioned up-thread. I thought I’d give it a bit more of a spotlight.

  243. says

    Representative Katie Porter giving dunderhead Mnuchin hell:

    […] After confirming with Fed Secretary Jerome Powell that the economy has not yet recovered from the pandemic, and that additional stimulus is needed to help people affected by the economic cliff-dive, Porter noted that Mnuchin demanded the Fed return unused stimmy funds to the Treasury, despite the continued economic instability.

    Then she pointed out that the CARES Act specifies that

    Secretary Mnuchin simply doesn’t have the authority to recall the $455 billion. I’m reading aloud now from section 4027 of the CARES Act: On or after January 1, 2026 any funds that are remaining shall be transferred to the general fund. In other words, sent back to the Treasury. Secretary Mnuchin, is it currently the year 2026, yes or no?

    Mnuchin avoided the day and date question, because he is not a telephone time recording from 1974, he is a very important man! When Porter asked again if it’s 2026, he went Full Indignant:

    Mnuchin: Of course it’s not 2026. How ridiculous to ask me that question and waste our time.

    Porter: Well Secretary Mnuchin, I think it’s ridiculous that you are playacting to be a lawyer when you have no degree–

    Mnuchin: Well actually, I have plenty lawyers at the Department of Treasury who advised me. So I’m more than happy to follow up with Chair Waters and explain all the legal provisions and the ranking members. So more than happy to make that access.

    Porter: Secretary Mnuchin–Secretary Mnuchin, are you in fact a lawyer?

    Mnuchin: I do not have a legal degree. I have lawyers that report to me.

    Porter then confirmed with Powell that yes indeed, the Fed secretary has practiced law, although he didn’t weigh in on when the funds had to be returned to the Treasury. Then, when Porter told Mnuchin she wasn’t sure she agreed 100 percent with Mnuchin’s lawyer work, he interrupted her to ask, “Are you a lawyer?” […]

    Porter then pointed out that the CARES Act only says the Fed can’t make new stimulus investments after the end of this year, but says nothing about continuing existing spending under the law.

    Also, yes, Katie Porter is a lawyer. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law, perhaps Secretary Mnuchin has heard of it? And she’s a tenured law professor at the University of California Irvine […]

    On Twitter, one of Porter’s former Harvard profs, a little-known woman named Elizabeth Warren, noted that her student knows how to read the law, thank you very much. […]

    Link

  244. tomh says

    NYT:
    New U.S. Citizenship Test Is Longer and More Difficult
    By Simon Romero and Miriam Jordan
    Dec. 3, 2020

    The Trump administration is rolling out sweeping changes to the test immigrants must take to become United States citizens, injecting hints of conservative philosophy and making the test harder for many learners of the English language.

    … adding dozens of possible questions, some nuanced and involving complex phrasing…

    One test question that has drawn particular scrutiny provides a new answer to the question, “Who does a U.S. Senator represent?” Previously, the answer was “all people of the state”; on the new test, it is “citizens” in the state.

    Another new question, “Why did the United States enter the Vietnam War?” has one answer that is considered correct: “to stop the spread of Communism.”

    Singled out for a new question is the 10th Amendment… a favorite among conservatives questioning federal authority…

    “It’s a last-ditch effort on their way out the door for the administration to keep people from realizing their dreams of becoming citizens,” said Eric Cohen, executive director of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco, a nonprofit group that helps permanent residents apply for citizenship.

    “There is no legal reason, no regulatory reason to do this,” said Mr. Cohen.

  245. says

    Vice President-Elect Kamala D. Harris will name Tina Flournoy Chief of Staff, the transition team announced Thursday, tapping a trailblazer with decades of Washington experience to help run the vice presidential operation.

    Harris’s longtime aide Rohini Kosoglu will serve as domestic policy advisor, and former ambassador to Bulgaria Nancy McEldowney will advise her on national security.

    Flournoy had been serving as Chief of Staff to former President Bill Clinton, hovering out of the direct Washington spotlight for a few years after serving in several prominent roles in the Democratic party throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

    […] She is one of a group of pioneering Black women, including Donna Brazile, Rev. Leah Daughtry, and others, with long resumes at the highest levels of Democratic politics who coalesced as advisers to Rev. Jesse Jackson’s campaign in the 1980s and have referred to themselves as “the Colored Girls” ever since.

    […] Former Hillary Clinton adviser Minyon Moore, has emerged as something of a gatekeeper in the Biden transition, serving as a point of contact for Black organizers and helping usher women of color into key roles in Harris’s office and beyond.

    Earlier this week, the transition team announced that two more Black women, Symone Sanders and Ashley Etienne, would serve as Harris’s spokeswoman and communications director, respectively. Sanders was courted by more than a handful of top Democrats as they launched presidential campaigns last year, and her pairing with Harris gives the Vice President-elect (and potential 2024 hopeful) one of the party’s more prominent, up-and-coming media envoys. Etienne served as a trusted adviser to both President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and she has established a reputation as a savvy behind-the-scenes operator. […]

    Washington Post link

    All the truly savvy people.

  246. says

    From The Washington Post editorial board:

    SWEDEN’S INITIAL response to the coronavirus pandemic was mild, keeping younger schoolchildren in class, allowing businesses and restaurants to stay open with distancing, limiting public gatherings to 50 people or fewer and hoping the population would develop immunity to a sufficient level that tighter restrictions would not be needed. Now, Sweden is caught up in a surge of infections and rising deaths, and a needed reconsideration is underway. There are important lessons, including: Don’t try this if you want to save lives.

    The response last spring, at the urging of state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, seemed attractive while the United States and others struggled with lockdowns. Many people wondered whether the Swedish experiment might offer an easier alternative, avoiding the severe economic and social costs of closure. […] Trump, after a few weeks of lockdown, essentially embraced it, urging states to reopen. More recently, his former adviser Scott Atlas championed the ideas that stricter shutdowns can cause damage to education and economic well-being and are not necessary for public health. On Oct. 22, the Swedish public health agency announced some relaxations for nursing homes and elderly people, and permitted gatherings of up to 300 people for cultural and sporting events as long as they were properly distanced.

    But Sweden is now caught in a wave of pandemic pain — and reversing course. Sweden has 48.9 new confirmed cases per 100,000 population, compared with 21.7 in Denmark, 8.2 in Norway and 7.7 in Finland. […] Sweden’s total 6,798 deaths, predominantly among the elderly, dwarf the toll in the other Nordic nations combined.

    Prime Minister Stefan Lofven declared Nov. 16 that Swedes were not following restrictions as closely as they did in the spring, so gatherings during the next four weeks would be limited to eight people. “This is the new norm for the entire society,” he said. “Don’t go to gyms, don’t go to libraries, don’t host dinners. Cancel.” Mr. Lofven gave a nationally televised speech on Sunday reiterating that people should “call it off, cancel, postpone.”

    In Sweden, people are inclined to follow crisis instructions voluntarily and the public health agency has a great deal of independence; the government had delegated the early pandemic response to Dr. Tegnell. But it appears the promised immunity was not reached. […] “We see no signs of immunity in the population that are slowing down the infection right now.” Polls show that Swedish public confidence in the authorities has sagged.

    Sweden probably was right to keep classrooms open. But in other respects, the experiment flopped. There are no magic wands. Until a vaccine is ready, the virus will leap from person to person in close contact, and the most effective way to stop it is to avoid that contact.

    Link

  247. says

    Some good news, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    With 33 days remaining before Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff elections, a new SurveyUSA poll found Jon Ossoff (D) narrowly leading incumbent Sen. David Perdue (R), 50% to 48%, and Raphael Warnock (D) leads appointed incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), 52% to 45%.

    Meanwhile, Republicans are dumping money into the state: “The Georgia Battleground Fund, led in part by Karl Rove, raised more than $30 million in three weeks.”

    Republican plans to cheat:

    Bill Price, a Republican lawyer in Florida, is reportedly under investigation after appearing on video giving other Florida Republicans instructions on how to commit voter fraud in Georgia’s upcoming Senate races.

  248. says

    TPM – “Ex-US Attorney Asks GA Officials To Probe Graham’s Alleged Ballot-Toss Scheme”:

    Former U.S. Attorney Michael Moore on Thursday sent the Georgia State Election Board and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger a request for an investigation into Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who allegedly asked Raffensperger about throwing away legal ballots in the state.

    “Based upon the public comments made by Secretary Raffensperger and given that the telephone call in question has been corroborated by both Secretary Raffensperger’s staff and Senator Graham, I request that the matter be fully investigated to determine if a violation of Georgia law occurred,” Moore wrote in his letter, which was first obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, to the officials.

    “I am particularly concerned that the chairman of the United States Senate Judiciary Committee would make any attempt to interfere with the Georgia Secretary of State as he endeavored to lawfully perform his constitutional duties in overseeing the 2020 election and the counting, and re-counting, of the votes cast in the state of Georgia,” he continued.

    The attorney warned that “time is of the essence” for a potential investigation, given the upcoming Georgia Senate runoffs on January 5 early next year.

    “I am confident that a thorough investigation of the matters contained herein will bolster public confidence in Georgia’s election outcome and will deter any future efforts to disenfranchise the voters of the sacred and fundamental right to choose their leaders,” he wrote.

    Graham has denied trying to pressure Raffensperger into discarding ballots, and brushed off the potential for an ethics investigation into the matter….

    (Whoever selects the photos at TPM is very talented.)

  249. says

    Marc Elias:

    BREAKING: Pennsylvania Supreme Court DENIES Congressmen Kelly’s application to stay his prior losing effort to block certification of election results (including his own).

    Trump and his allies are 1-41 in post-election litigation.

  250. says

    From John Cassidy, writing for The New Yorker:

    If you want to see how Donald Trump’s world works, register on his campaign Web site—it’s still active. To help keep tabs on the Trump campaign’s activities, I took this step many months ago, and, since then, I’ve been receiving text messages and e-mails every day, purportedly from Trump and his sons, asking for money. After the election, I thought these fund-raising alerts might stop arriving, but they didn’t. They just changed topic. Instead of requesting donations to help reëlect the President, they asked for money to finance his flailing challenge to the results. […]

    “Eric Trump: Almost out of time!” said one that arrived on Monday morning. “Our End-of-Month fundraising Deadline is almost here. Pres Trump activated a 1000% IMPACT for 1 HOUR. Donate.” After I failed to click the accompanying link to the WinRed online fund-raising platform, and become one of the campaign’s “IMPACT” donors, the Trumps kindly gave me another chance. “This is Don Jr.,” said a message that hit my inbox on Monday afternoon. “I spoke with my father & he’s REACTIVATED your 1000% offer for 1 more HOUR!… Donate NOW.” Again, I failed to click the link, but that didn’t get me off the hook. “Pres Trump: I UPPED the stakes & EXTENDED our End-of-Month Election Defense Deadline!” said a text that arrived the following afternoon. “All gifts in the NEXT HR will make a 1000% IMPACT! ACT!”

    […] Since the election, according to the Times, the President has raised about a hundred and seventy million dollars by continuing to “aggressively solicit donations.” Trump is no stranger to high-pressure sales tactics, of course. Years before he became President, employees of his Trump University, which wasn’t a university at all, allegedly encouraged people, including the elderly, to max out their credit cards to take courses that many said were worthless. In soliciting donations, his campaign is similarly relentless. On Tuesday morning, I got another message, which said, “FINAL NOTICE! Pres Trump EXTENDED your 1000% Offer. We need YOU to help us stop this CHAOS…Donate NOW.”

    After deciding to write this column, on Wednesday, I clicked on one of the fund-raising links. It took me to a WinRed Web page that featured a picture of Trump holding two thumbs up. “President Trump is counting on YOU to DEFEND the Election, so he asked us to EXTEND your 1000% offer,” said an accompanying piece of text. A bit farther down the page, there were a number of boxes with suggested donations, ranging from forty-five to twenty-eight hundred dollars. If I contributed the higher amount, the page said, I could join the “Election Defense Team,” the “Trump 100 Club,” and the “First Family Circle.”

    I didn’t cough up any money, of course. But if I had done so, where exactly would it have gone? Below the suggestion boxes, a piece of text said, “Your contribution will benefit Trump Make America Great Again Committee.” That seemed straightforward enough. In the past few years, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee has raised money for the President’s campaigns and the Republican National Committee, both of which have been deeply engaged in his post-election legal battles. Many Trump supporters who made modest donations may have assumed that their money was being passed on to the election-defense fund. But it wasn’t.

    The actual destination of the donations was revealed in some fine print located below a blue button marked “Continue,” which was the natural place to stop reading and start transferring cash. Any money donated to the Trump Make American Great Again Committee would be “allocated according to the following formula,” the fine print said: “75% of each contribution first to Save America, up to $5,000 … then to DJTFP’s Recount Account, up to a maximum of $2,800/$5,000…. 25% of each contribution to the RNC’s Operating Account, up to a maximum of $35,500/$15,000.”

    It’s not clear how many Trump donors have read this declaration or understood its meaning, which isn’t immediately obvious. What it seems to say is that, for any donation of up to five thousand dollars, not a cent goes directly to the campaign account that is helping pay for Trump’s legal battle—the Donald J. Trump for President Recount Account. Instead, a quarter of the donation goes to the R.N.C., and the other three quarters goes into a new Trump fund-raising vehicle called Save America. What is this entity? […]

    Save America is a so-called leadership pac, […] a “political action committee that can be established by current and former members of Congress as well as other prominent political figures.” […] Paul S. Ryan, a campaign-finance lawyer at the watchdog group Common Cause, used more colloquial language. “It’ll be a slush fund,” he said. Whereas the rules governing campaign pacs are fairly strict, the rules for leadership pacs are scandalously lax. […] some politicians use such funds to make campaign donations to other candidates in their party. Trump could end up doing this, too, but he also has many other options, including directing some of the donations to himself and his children. “Trump could decide to pay himself $1 million a year out of this fund,” Ryan noted. “That’s legal. He could pay Don Jr. and Ivanka, if he wanted to.”

    Is the forty-fifth President that skeezy? “Trump was a grifter before he was in the White House. He was a grifter while he was in the White House. […]

    his fund-raising alerts are still going out, many of them virtually repeating the previous ones. “CONGRATULATIONS!” said a message that arrived on Wednesday afternoon. “You won the Trump 1000% IMPACT extension! Pres Trump will look for your name in 1 HOUR, friend. Donate $10 & claim NOW.” Ten bucks doesn’t seem like a lot. But Trump will take everything he can get.

    New Yorker link

  251. says

    Ha! This is kind of funny, while also being horrifying (like a lot of incidents tied to the Trump administration):

    The official serving as […] Trump’s eyes and ears at the Justice Department has been banned from the building after trying to pressure staffers to give up sensitive information about election fraud and other matters she could relay to the White House, three people familiar with the matter tell The Associated Press.

    Heidi Stirrup, an ally of top Trump adviser Stephen Miller, was quietly installed at the Justice Department as a White House liaison a few months ago. She was told within the last two weeks to vacate the building after top Justice officials learned of her efforts to collect insider information about ongoing cases and the department’s work on election fraud, the people said.

    […] Stirrup had also extended job offers to political allies for positions at some of the highest levels of the Justice Department without consulting any senior department officials or the White House counsel’s office and also attempted to interfere in the hiring process for career staffers, a violation of the government’s human resources policies, one of the people said.

    […] Stirrup, who previously was a central figure in the Trump administration’s push for hard-line immigration policies, technically still remains in her position after being placed at the Justice Department by the White House Office of Presidential Personnel.

    The Trump administration has been working to have liaisons report directly to the White House instead of the agencies where they work. Across the administration, there have been concerns that the liaisons were undercutting the work not just of career professionals but also of Trump’s own political appointees.

    Shortly after the election, the presidential personnel office had also instructed the liaisons to fire any political appointees who were looking for jobs while Trump refused to accept the election results. […]

    The White House personnel office has been headed by former Trump personal assistant John McEntee, who has renewed Trump’s push to rid the administration of those deemed “disloyal” to the president.

    […] Stirrup, a close ally of Miller, previously served as the acting director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement and was also a deputy White House liaison at the Department of Health and Human Services.

    Link

    More trumpian cult followers should be banned.

    No wonder Trump believes in the “Deep State,” he has installed spies in various government agencies —spies that report back directly to him—spies that extend job offers to political allies—spies that were directed to fire people not über loyal to Trump. Trump tried to create his own pro-Trump deep state.

  252. says

    David Mack at BuzzFeed – “Rural Doctors And Nurses Are Treating COVID Patients They Know — And Watching Them Die”:

    …More than 1 million rural Americans are now among those who have tested positive, with infections spreading out of control in 7 out of 10 rural counties, according to the National Rural Health Association (NRHA).

    “From a public health perspective,” said NRHA CEO Alan Morgan, “COVID in rural America is a horror story.”

    Healthcare workers in smaller towns are as exhausted and despondent as their counterparts in bigger cities. They, too, are facing shortages of personal protective equipment and are watching hospital beds and ICU wards fill up rapidly. But these medical workers also often find themselves treating patients that they know.

    “In a rural environment, health care really is personal,” said Nick Wendell, a city council member in Brookings, South Dakota, whose cousin works at a hospital in the town of Gregory, population 1,200. “There’s an intimacy to the patient you’re treating. You know them well. They may be members of your church or former high school class or your friend’s parents. There’s a very up-close aspect in a small town.”

    Losing a patient can thus be a uniquely devastating experience for rural healthcare workers.

    “It’s a really hard one because we love and care for them in a different way,” said Ashley Kingdon-Reese, a home health nurse in Huron, South Dakota, population 13,600. “We know their whole family, the name of their pets, their kids. We’re part of their lives, so when it begins to get them, it’s hard and it’s not quick.”

    A nurse practitioner in Jonesboro, Arkansas — who asked not to be named so that her hospital, which serves as a hub for several rural communities, was not identifiable — recalled treating a patient who is still severely ill with COVID-19 and whom she has known for years. When the patient’s X-rays came back, the nurse could tell they resembled others she had seen from patients who had suffered extensive lung damage and were facing likely death. “I don’t like to see what’s coming for people that I know,” she said.

    “‘It’s not fair. I don’t want to die,’” she said the patient told her. “That’s a hard thing to hear from someone that you know.”

    Perhaps no states have been as hard-hit in recent months as the Dakotas. In November, North Dakota had the highest daily mortality rate of anywhere in the world. One in every 800 North Dakotans has died from the virus. The situation isn’t much better in South Dakota, where 1 in every 1,000 residents has died.

    Residents in these areas are more likely to be conservative and highly resistant to mask mandates or social distancing requirements. It took until mid-November for North Dakota’s Republican governor, Doug Burgum, to reverse course and order the public to wear masks. And South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, continues to falsely say there is no evidence mask-wearing slows the spread of the virus.

    “There are people still in denial that this is real,” said Kingdon-Reese, the South Dakota nurse who serves as government relations chair for her state’s nurses association. “Everything from QAnon to Trump supporters has made this so political. It’s almost more damaging than the disease itself.”

    “It feels like we’re fighting two pandemics: the virus and misinformation,” Kingdon-Reese said.

    Fox News and other conservative media outlets have repeatedly spread confusion or doubts about the severity of the pandemic to their audiences with real-world consequences….

    In Kansas, Oreck said she is tired of feeling like the “other” when she is the only one wearing a mask in her supermarket. One close friend whose wife died from complications of the virus in August still refuses to wear one.

    “I’ve talked to him about it ad nauseam. For years, he’s come to me for medical advice and he’s asked me to speak at his church, and yet he will not listen to me,” she said. “It makes me want to cry. It’s incredibly frustrating.”

    He’s not the only close friend or family member who Oreck said she has struggled to convince “even though I am the medical professional they have come to when they needed stitches on a Sunday night, or when their kid has a rash, or someone gets a cancer diagnosis and they want to hear what I think.”

    “Now, or at least in this arena, my professional opinion doesn’t seem to count for much.”

    Much more at the link.

  253. tomh says

    Re: #356

    Trump Has Already Rewarded Ally Who Was Banned from DOJ for Trying to Dig Up Info on Ongoing Election Matters
    MATT NAHAM Dec 3rd, 2020

    …Heidi Stirrup, a White House liaison to the Department of Justice, was banned from entering Main Justice within the last two weeks because she tried to dig up information about ongoing DOJ investigations of particular and current interest to President Donald Trump…

    Stirrup may have been banned for stirring things up behind the scenes, but she has already been rewarded for her attempts to keep the 45th president in the loop…

    the White House announced that Stirrup, a Stephen Miller ally, had been rewarded with a “spot on the Board of Visitors to the United States Air Force Academy…”

    Stirrup was one of a number of White House loyalists to get cushy gigs. The Charter of the Board of Visitors of the U.S. Air Force Academy notes that pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 9355(b)(1) board members designated by the president, as Stirrup has been, “shall serve for three years each, except that any member whose term of office has expired shall continue to serve until a successor is designated.”

  254. tomh says

    Trump raises $495 million since mid-October, including a massive haul fueled by misleading appeals about election fraud
    By Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy
    Dec. 4, 2020

    President Trump has raised $495 million since mid-October, with $207.5 million of it pouring in after Election Day — an extraordinary haul resulting from Trump’s post-election fundraising effort using a blizzard of misleading appeals about the integrity of the vote.

    The sum raised since Oct. 15 far exceeds fundraising records set by the Trump operation in roughly comparable time periods at the height of the 2020 presidential campaign and is an unusually large amount to raise after the election.

    That means between Oct. 15 and Nov. 23, Trump raised an average of nearly $13 million per day — a massive amount fueled by a deluge of email and text fundraising appeals sent out by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee that raises money for the president’s campaign, the Republican Party and Trump’s new leadership PAC, Save America.

    The figures were announced by the campaign Thursday and are to be made public in federal filings this month and in January…Much of the money raised since the election probably will go into Save America, a political action committee that the president can use for various activities after he leaves office.

  255. KG says

    An interesting article on FiveThirtyEight, arguing that there was not all that much split voting in the election. In particular, at the time it was written, Biden was on 51.1% of the popular vote, Democratic House candidates on 50.6%. It doesn’t give a figure for Republican House votes, however, so it’s possible significant numbers voted for third party candidates or no-one in the Presidential contest, and Republican for House candidates. I’ll keep a look out for final figures.

  256. says

    ABC – “Federal probe into alleged bribery-for-pardon scheme involved now-deceased billionaire: Sources”:

    The Justice Department investigation into a possible scheme to lobby the Trump Administration for a presidential pardon — news of which garnered attention earlier this week — was allegedly mounted by a now-deceased California real estate magnate on behalf of a Berkeley psychologist in prison for tax evasion, multiple sources tell ABC News.

    Neither figure is well-known in Washington, but the lawyer allegedly hired by billionaire Republican donor Sanford Diller to represent the psychologist was Abbe Lowell, one of the most prominent and powerful D.C. attorneys, the sources told ABC News.

    Lowell, who most recently represented Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump during the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, is not believed to be under investigation for his role in the matter, his attorney told ABC News.

    Lowell did not respond to email and phone messages from ABC News seeking comment. Reid Weingarten, a friend and attorney for Lowell, confirmed that Lowell represented Baras in the matter. He said no bribe was paid.

    “Abbe came to believe there were legitimate arguments to be made that this guy shouldn’t do time. Seeking clemency is a completely normal route,” Weingarten said. “The fact that he pursued that — there’s nothing wrong with it.”

    The sources told ABC News that in early 2017, Diller was trying to identify a well-connected attorney in Washington who could help procure a pardon for his friend, a Berkeley psychologist named Hugh Leslie Baras. In 2014, Baras, then 70, was convicted of tax evasion and theft of government property, and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.

    Sources said that Diller sought advice from Elliott Broidy, a well-connected Trump fundraiser who would later be swept into his own tangle of legal trouble. Broidy pleaded guilty in October to a charge of violating foreign lobbying laws. He declined through a spokesman to comment.

    William Burck, an attorney for Broidy, told ABC News that Broidy was “asked by Mr. Diller to refer him to a D.C. lawyer who could assist on a clemency petition. Mr. Broidy sent him to Abbe Lowell.”

    Diller died in 2018 and Baras did not receive a presidential pardon.

    Baras was released from prison in 2019, according to online prison records. Efforts by ABC News to reach Baras were unsuccessful.

    A complicating aspect of the bid for a pardon was the multiple hats worn at various times by Lowell, who would have been representing Baras and Kushner. Lowell also represented a cooperating witness in the later case against Broidy, which was part of a long-running investigation.

    Weingarten said Lowell never approached Kushner about the Baras clemency matter.

    “There is no connection to Jared Kushner,” Lowell’s attorney said. “He never asked Jared Kushner for anything related to this client — or for any other client having to do with clemency.”

    “No government official was or is currently a subject or target of the investigation disclosed in this filing,” a DOJ official said in a statement late Tuesday.

    Weingarten told ABC News he has “every reason to believe the Justice Department doesn’t have the slightest quarrel with anything Abbe did.”…

    Hm…

  257. says

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

    From there:

    Hungary reported 189 new Covid-19 deaths on Friday, its highest daily toll since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Reuters.

    The latest announcement brings the total death toll to 5,513 in Hungary, or 571 deaths per million inhabitants according to the Worldometers website.

    Infections rose by 6,212 to 238,056, government data showed.

    As of Thursday, Hungary had the European Union’s fourth-highest death rate per 100,000 people over a two-week period based on data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

    The government imposed a partial lockdown three weeks ago to slow the spread of the virus, including an 8pm curfew and closing secondary schools.

    The prime minister, Viktor Orbán, said his government would announce regulations for Christmas on Monday.

  258. lumipuna says

    “Senate Republicans are holding a fundraiser for Loeffler and Perdue tonight promising a ‘special appearance’ from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Dinner will cost you $25k a couple.”

    “Shell out to see Mitch come out of his shell!”

  259. says

    Trump tweeted: “Very sadly for our Nation, it looks like Senator @JimInhofe will not be putting the Section 230 termination clause into the Defense Bill. So bad for our National Security and Election Integrity. Last chance to ever get it done. I will VETO!”

    Inhofe had tweeted: “Proud to announce the completion of the 60th Annual National Defense Authorization Act — a bill that champions our troops, supports our military families, and strengthens our national defense….”

    Trump responded: “But doesn’t get rid of Big Tech’s windfall, Section 230, a grave threat to National Security. I will VETO!”

    The House and Senate votes should happen next week.

  260. quotetheunquote says

    @SC #359:

    I’m trying – really trying – to imagine a universe in which Mitch McConnell would be considered a “draw” to attend a dinner.
    . . .
    Nope, can’t do it.

  261. says

    TPM – “Trump Pentagon Nominee Boosted Calls For Martial Law This Week”:

    The President’s nominee for a top Pentagon job boosted calls for martial law on Wednesday.

    And that’s just one piece of the off-the-walls social media presence of Scott O’Grady, Trump’s nominee to become assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, CNN reported. O’Grady’s nomination was sent to the Senate on Monday.

    O’Grady also retweeted numerous false claims that Trump had in fact won a second term in office, by a landslide, and described Joe Biden’s winning the presidency as a “coup” attempt carried out in coordination with Chinese President Xi Jinping, according to CNN’s review.

    The Pentagon nominee, if confirmed, would serve through the end of Trump’s presidency.

    On Wednesday, O’Grady retweeted an article about Michael Flynn’s call for martial law in light of the election results. Then, he retweeted another message from the same account that had shared the article, CNN found.

    “I don’t know who needs to hear this,” read the message that O’Grady retweeted. “But calling for martial law is not a bad idea when there is an attempted coup against the president and this country happening right now.”

    Like other Pentagon officials in the wake of Trump’s purge of top Defense Department officials, O’Grady’s social media is full of conspiracy theories and outrageous claims — like the assertion that former President Barack Obama is a “sworn socialist” and that former Secretary of Defense James Mattis is a “traitor.”…

  262. says

    Oh, this is funny:

    […] in a new legal filing, former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell accuses Dominion voting machines of flipping votes from Biden to Trump — which means she thinks Trump received votes he didn’t deserve. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Greg Bluestein talked to a GOP attorney who described Powell’s filing as an “epic fail.”

  263. says

    Follow-up to SC @358.

    Add more to that list:

    […] Trump deployed unidentified law-enforcement officials in response to social-justice protests over the summer, and the NDAA makes that more difficult to do in the future […]

    The NDAA requires the Pentagon to submit a report on possible Russian-sponsored bounties against U.S. troops, which Trump denies happened. The legislation also directs the Defense Department to certify that we’re not seizing Syrian oil, a possible war crime about which Trump has repeatedly bragged. […]

    A bipartisan coalition of Congress critters is ignoring Trump. Trump is howling into the wind, and no one, not even Republican congressmen can hear him. Trump is going to lose this fight.

  264. says

    From New York magazine:

    On Thursday, Biden’s popular vote margin over Trump passed the 7 million vote mark, well over twice the 2.9 million margin won by Hillary Clinton in 2016. From a percentage point of view, Biden leads by 4.4 percent — again, well over twice the 2.1 percent margin won by Clinton over Trump four years ago, and also more than the 3.9 percent by which Obama and Biden defeated Mitt Romney in 2012. It’s also higher than the popular vote percentage margins of the winners in 2004, 2000, 1976, 1968, and 1960. […]

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    […] Note, Biden’s 51.3% of the popular vote — a figure that may yet inch just a little higher — is the second best of any Democratic presidential candidate in the last half-century, and the best of any challenger, from either party, since FDR.

    But for the outgoing incumbent, the news is far more discouraging. Trump’s 2020 showing is now down to 46.9%. The Atlantic’s David Frum noted yesterday that there have been 12 major-party presidential nominees in the 21st century, and when it comes to the popular vote, Trump’s 2016 showing ranks 11th out of 12, while his 2020 performance ranks 10th out of 12.

    For a politician who considers himself to be wildly popular, and celebrated far and wide, this should be a rather brutal embarrassment. Indeed, Trump’s popular-vote total from this year shows him earning a smaller percentage of the vote than John Kerry received in 2004 (48.3%), Hillary Clinton received in 2016 (48.2%), and Mitt Romney received in 2012 (47.2%).

    In fact, it’s that last one that stands out as especially noteworthy. Trump has repeatedly taken a degree of pleasure in mocking Romney’s 2012 defeat, publishing tweets that said Romney was “slaughtered” and “destroyed” by Barack Obama in their faceoff.

    But eight years later, let’s compare: Romney received 47.2% of the vote, compared to Trump’s 46.9% this year; and Romney lost by 3.9%, while Trump lost by 4.4%.

    If Trump believes Romney was “slaughtered” and “destroyed” in 2012, which words would he use to describe his even-larger defeat in 2020?

    Link

  265. says

    ‘Of No Personal Consequence’ To Biden Whether Or Not Trump Attends Inauguration

    President-elect Joe Biden said on Thursday that it is of “no personal consequence” to him whether or not outgoing President Donald Trump chooses to attend Biden’s inauguration next month, but that the move does have bearing on the nation’s image around the world.

    “It is totally his decision and it’s of no personal consequence to me,” Biden said during an interview Thursday when CNN’s Jake Tapper asked if he thought it was important for Trump to join in the event. “But I do think it is for the country.”

    The President-elect said if Trump attended it would “demonstrate at the end of this chaos that he’s created that there is peaceful transfer of power with the competing parties standing there, shaking hands and moving on.”

    […] “I really worry about the image we’re presenting to the rest of the world,” Biden continued on Thursday. He suggested that the world is watching as the United States fumbles amid its transfer of power, which has largely been precipitated by Trump’s false claims of fraud. According to Biden, onlookers are thinking that what’s unfolding in the wake of the recent election is fitting of the sorts of issues that arise in “tinhorn dictatorships” rather than the United States.

    “In that sense, the protocol of the transfer of power I think is important,” Biden said.

  266. says

    From Josh Marshall: “The Disintegration of a Presidency”

    […] Across the government, the agencies, departments, even in some cases Trump