1. says

    Thank you, PZ, for giving The Infinite Thread a new lease on life.

    Even among whacko candidates running for office, Mark Robinson stands out. NC Gov Nominee Mark Robinson Not Personally Coming To Kill You. He’s Just Asking Others To Kill You.

    […] The Republican nominee for governor of North Carolina, […] is also a paranoid lunatic who hates trans people, thinks the Holocaust is overblown, and demands that all you jezebels keep your skirts down instead of fornicating like rabbits and then constantly running from your latest abortion right to yoga class.

    Martin Luther King Jr. he is not, no matter what American historian Donald Trump says.

    Robinson is also pro-murder, as he noted in a sermon to an evangelical church in North Carolina last Sunday. Though it is not exactly clear to us who the “folks” are he wants to kill. Communists? Liberals? (Same difference.)

    “Some folks need killing!” Robinson, the state’s lieutenant governor, shouted during a roughly half-hour-long speech in Lake Church in the tiny town of White Lake, in the southeast corner of the state. “It’s time for somebody to say it. It’s not a matter of vengeance. It’s not a matter of being mean or spiteful. It’s a matter of necessity!”

    […] Robinson refers to “a class of people in this nation” who want “control.” Control of what? It’s unclear. He can’t be referring to people who want to control women’s bodies, Robinson and his political ilk see nothing wrong with that.

    Aside from the above passage, there is plenty more apocalyptic horse-hockey that appeals to far, far, far more of our fellow Americans than we are comfortable with. It is your bog-standard evangelical call to arms, in which mysterious forces are aligning against the people in this church, but through the power of Jesus Christ and the freedom America declared in 1776, Robinson and his followers will win the war against evil. Or something:

    “We now find ourselves struggling with people who have evil intent. There was a time when we used to meet evil on the battlefield, and guess what we did? We killed it! We didn’t quibble about it, we didn’t argue about it, we didn’t fight about it! We killed it!”

    […] “Some liberal somewhere is gonna say that sounds awful. Too bad! Some folks need killing!”

    […] “We have wicked people doing wicked things. Torturing, murdering, and raping. Time to call out those guys in green and go have them handle it. Those boys in blue, and have them go handle it.

    This is the ZOMG IMMIGRANTS AND ANTIFA BATTALIONS ARE DESTROYING AMERICA dog whistle we had been waiting for. Sure, turn the military loose on the undocumented (many of whom are probably the ones out picking North Carolina tobacco to drive the state’s economy while Lake Church’s congregation is sitting in air-conditioned comfort listening to the crazy man rant).

    Then Robinson says some shit about getting too far away from the concepts of freedom from 1776 and letting communism and socialism take over and the mysterious “they” who “cancel you and dox you” and drive you out of business. […]

    According to 538, Robinson was running about even with his Democratic opponent in the race for the governor’s mansion in early June. So silver lining: Wonkette might have lots more content about this loon over the next four years, assuming Generalissimo Trump doesn’t shut us down for being mean to him.

  2. birgerjohansson says

    “Reformist Masoud Pezeshkian wins Iran presidential election” | Iran | The Guardian

    Alas, the “Guardian council ” of regressive imams hold the real power.
    But it is a start. The repressive religious establishment has lost most of its legitimacy now, and you cannot rule with bayonets forever unless you go full North Korea.

  3. says

    For the convenience of readers, here are a few links back to the previous chapter, which only accumulated 18 comments before it hit the automatic FreeThoughtBlogs time limit for a thread.
    I watched George Stephanopoulos of ABC News interview President Biden.
    Oxford University Mathematician REACTS to “Animation vs. Geometry”
    Hamas is losing the backing of ordinary people in Gaza who are paying the human price of its war

  4. says

    Mississippi’s sodomy law cost taxpayers nearly half a million dollars, but remains on the books

    Mississippi coughed up more than $400,000 this year to attorneys who sued the state over an unconstitutional sodomy law that criminalizes oral and anal sex, and if a similar suit is filed in the future, it could pay even more money.

    The Legislature appropriated and paid the fees to civil rights attorneys from multiple legal organizations after Mississippi Attorneys General Jim Hood and Lynn Fitch spent years defending the antiquated sodomy law—Mississippi Code Section 97-29-59.

    […] lawmakers this session let die in committee a bill to repeal the state’s “unnatural intercourse” law, which was primarily used decades ago to target LGBTQ+ Mississippians and sex workers.

    Mississippi officials no longer prosecute people for having consensual sex, but some people convicted in the past of sodomy are still required to register as sex offenders.

    This means the people who, due to a quirk of the lawsuit, remain on the Mississippi Sex Offender Registry for sodomy convictions could sue the state at any time, Strugar [Matthew Strugar, an attorney] said, even though state officials are no longer requiring those convicted of sodomy to register as sex offenders. […] Some of these people were convicted decades ago.

    The U.S. Supreme Court declared unconstitutional laws that criminalize private, consensual sexual conduct in the 2003 case Lawrence v. Texas. Even the conservative U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals acknowledged Mississippi’s law was unconstitutional when it reviewed and affirmed the attorneys’ fees […]

    Initially considered a common-law crime, sodomy has been illegal in Mississippi since the state’s founding and was codified into law in 1839. In the original 1890 state Constitution, sodomy was included in a list of crimes, along with rape, adultery and fornication, for which courts were allowed to exclude the public from attending or witnessing the prosecution.

    Strugar has sued a number of states over sodomy laws. He noted there are more problems with Mississippi’s law than the possibility of more litigation. The law states: “Every person who shall be convicted of the detestable and abominable crime against nature committed with mankind or with a beast, shall be punished by imprisonment in the penitentiary for a term of not more than ten years.”

    The law is vague, Strugar said, lacking a description of what is a “crime against nature committed with mankind.” It also doesn’t distinguish between consensual and nonconsensual oral and anal sex. “There’s a lot you can do with a law that doesn’t say what it’s prohibiting,” Strugar said. “You can say it prohibits whatever you want it to prohibit.”

    The same law is also Mississippi’s only prohibition against bestiality. When people in Mississippi are prosecuted for bestiality, they are technically charged under the sodomy law, Strugar said.

    […] The men who remain on the registry are mainly poor, Strugar said, and likely not in a position to navigate the process of getting in touch with a civil rights attorney.

    Still, Strugar said he and the other attorneys fought to invalidate Mississippi’s law. They had hoped U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves, who initially ordered the state to fork over money in attorneys’ fees, would take that step. Instead, he ordered the state to purge the plaintiffs from the sex offender registry.

    “He is one of the most courageous judges in the country, but he still took a narrow ruling,” Strugar said.

    The easiest way the state could protect itself from a similar suit in the future and avoid paying more fees is to repeal its sodomy law, which state Rep. Jeramey Anderson, a Democrat from Moss Point, has tried to do for several years.

    Anderson has introduced a bill numerous times that would have simply deleted the “mankind” portion of the statute but left the bestiality part of the law intact, which would have essentially repealed the sodomy law.

    […] Senate Appropriations Chairman Briggs Hopson, a Republican from Vicksburg who authored the bill doling out the money in attorneys’ fees, did not respond to a request for comment about the appropriation bill or whether he thinks the expenditure was a wise use of taxpayer dollars. Lawmakers routinely appropriate tax dollars each year to go toward various legal cases.

    This article first appeared on Mississippi Today.

  5. says

    Bloomberg News:

    President Joe Biden registered his best showing yet in a Bloomberg News/Morning Consult tracking poll of battleground states, even as voters offered withering appraisals of his debate performance amid panic within his party.

    Republican Donald Trump led Democrat Biden by only 2 percentage points, 47% to 45%, in the critical states needed to win the November election. That’s the smallest gap since the poll began last October. Biden now leads Trump in Michigan and Wisconsin. He’s within the poll’s statistical margin of error in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and North Carolina, and is farthest behind in the critical state of Pennsylvania.


    […] conservatives work the media refs so hard, to the point that traditional journalists internalize the claim that they are “liberal media.” As a result, those journalists prove their “fair and balanced” bona fides by skewing their coverage against Democrats. […]

    Aside from a few anomalies (like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, hated in her caucus), Republicans don’t have this problem. They have a convicted felon leading their ticket, yet they know to focus their attacks against Democrats. […]

    […] Dwelling on Trump & his fascist movement — however justified by the objective facts — just doesn’t bring that juice, doesn’t get the clicks & the high-fives, doesn’t feel brave & iconoclastic. It’s just … no fun.

    So, say Biden stepped aside in favor of Harris tomorrow. How long until the vapid gossips we call political reporters find something wrong with her, some alleged flaw they just have to write 192 stories about? How long until the hopped-up mediocrities we call pundits find some “counter-intuitive” reason that the new Dem ticket is flawed after all? How long until the irredentist left gets over the temporary thrill of its new Harris memes & remembers that she’s a cop & turns on her? How long before the ambient racism & misogyny in the US lead center-leftists to conclude that, sure, they’d support a black woman, just not *this* black woman? In other words: how long before everyone reverts to their comfortable, familiar identity & narratives? About 30 f’ing seconds, is my guess.

    Thirty seconds sounds about right.

    We’re not in a great position right now, but the best time for Biden to deal with this is now, in the middle of the summer holiday season when the last thing people want to think about is politics.

    Biden can step aside, but here’s what will happen: instead of a few weeks of self-induced Democrats-in-disarray chaos, we will have two months of drama as Democrats fight over who the nominee will be. Trump will be forgotten in that noise. That gets us to the August convention, at the end of the month.

    Then it will be September, and the new nominee will face a few more months of “vetting” by the national media, until the end of October. Trump will be forgotten in that noise.

    And then, people will vote, having mostly forgotten about Trump. All thanks to Democrats’ inability to keep their eye on the ball.

    THAT is the scenario that keeps me up at night.


  6. says

    We the People of the United States, in Order to Allow This One Rapist to Commit Crimes…

    […] Been a bit GRIM of late, huh?

    […] And let us bear witness.

    Where to begin?

    Oh, right. That.

    As you may’ve heard, everybody’s favorite gang of grifters, theocrats, and sex pests took that 6-3 SCOTUS majority Yertle n’ Donnie [decision] on their darkest joyride to date. Turns out, when you’re a star, or at the very least a President belonging to the same party as the financiers of Clarence Thomas’ lavish lifestyle, they let you grab all sortsa shit.

    So I guess we’re officially elevating Off-Brand Orbán beyond the reach of the law now? Okay. That is certainly…a choice.

    I fear in a restored Turd Reich, nary a West Wing mattress tag would be safe. To say nothing of Liz Cheney. […]

    Honest to God, how many quarters do you have to shove up your fucking nose to hand Donald J. Trump (the “J” stands for adJudicated rapist) a constitutional blank check? He commits so many crimes already, you guys.

    …well, perhaps that will teach you peasants not to criticize Mrs. Alito’s traitor flags.

    The visibly deteriorating doofus who absolutely must be granted these limitless criming powers thinks electric airplanes plummet to presumably fiery dooms whenever the sun’s not out, by the way, kinda like how he thinks magnets break when they get wet, so we’re obviously gonna need some clarifications from Chief Justice Roberts n’ friends…like, can he legally mandate bleach chugging? Excuse me, “disinfectant injection?”

    …and somehow it’s the other guy’s cognitive ability we’re talking about, because of how fair life is. While the aforementioned rapist giddily tests the limits of his newfound impunity. Again, on account of all the fairness.

    I suppose we should be grateful the subpar supremacists who would rule over us’re still willing to allow a more-or-less “bloodless” revolution, (no need to get your knickers in a twist over every little hammer attack, libtards) but all things considered, I think I’d rather hang the electoral millstone of the mad, fashy planz they were dumb enough to commit to writing around their dorky, Nazi necks.

    Honestly hard to blame ‘em for moving their platform-drafting process behind closed doors. Who wants the Lügenpresse around while you copy/paste from Project 2025?

    Even the Dotard himself is now frantically backpedaling away from that freaky little doc, mostly for spoiling the surprises he had planned for his day one dictatorship. […] Gettin’ pretty hard to ignore, frankly.

    The Republican candidate for Governor of North Carolina, “Pastor” Mark Robinson, struck death cult branding gold this week, and I’ve no doubt we’ll be seeing his catchy new campaign slogan, Some Folks Need Killing, upon many a made-in-China red ballcap, in many a riot to come.

    “Some folks need killing.” [See comment #1]

    […] As a policy proposal, it seems unwise, but I’m sure the Roberts Court would uphold it.

    […] Seems Indiana Congressdolt Victoria Spartz earned herself a criminal charge, for she could not bear to be parted from her beloved firearm for e’en the duration of a single flight. Look, in Spartz’s line of work, you just never know when you’ll be called upon to assist the lynching of a disloyal Vice President, or fend off a carpetbagging colleague’s wandering hands during an otherwise pleasant evening of musical theatre.

    Forgive me for staring, UK, I just couldn’t help but ogle your peaceful transfer of power this week. Anyway, once the celebrating dies down, I think you might find some of us’re willing to revisit the whole “price of tea” issue, among others.

    It’ll be a shame if David Cronenberg doesn’t direct the inevitable RFK Jr. biopic. It writes itself: maniac runs world-wrecking spoiler campaign, whilst unsuccessfully battling cranial parasite […]

    Amidst all the GRIM, I do hope you took a moment to appreciate the latest moist, mushy bounce of Rudy Giuliani’s spectacularly satisfying fall from grace, it was a good’n. Traitors don’t get disbarred every day, y’know. I’d drink to that even if I wasn’t looking for excuses.

    …but since I am, may as well toast the pitch black timing of that nihilistically narcissistic Voting Is Like, Dumb n’ Stuff editorial the New York Times picked this of all weeks to publish. Ah, however did we find ourselves so far up shit creek, with the steady hand of our media gatekeepers guiding the discourse? [See PZ’s post Matthew “Choad” Walther gets a free pass at the NY Times ]


  7. says

    Oh FFS.

    Judge Aileen Cannon grants Trump’s request to pause some deadlines in classified documents case amid immunity questions

    U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon on Saturday granted former President Donald Trump’s request for further briefing on the issue of presidential immunity in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case and delayed certain deadlines. […]

    she paused two upcoming deadlines for Trump and his co-defendants.

    Smith’s brief is now due on July 18, and a reply from Trump’s team is due on July 21.

    […] There is no trial date in sight in the classified documents case.

    […] Through an order earlier this week, Judge Juan Merchan, who presided over Trump’s criminal hush money trial earlier this year, stayed Trump’s July 11 sentencing hearing to allow for briefing on Trump’s motion to set aside the verdict in that trial.

    Trump’s brief, which is expected to focus on evidence involving his official acts admitted during the trial to prove his knowledge and intent, is due on July 11. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s response is due on July 24.

  8. Rob Grigjanis says

    birger @9: That’s referring to what’s depicted in the movie. Of course it was a disaster. It was directed by Peter Jackson. The ride as depicted in the book is classical cavalry tactics (from what I’ve read of cavalry tactics). The approach and charge as shown in the movie actually made me laugh.

  9. Pierce R. Butler says

    Textbook authors told climate change references must be cut to get Florida’s OK

    A high school biology book also had to add citations to back up statements that “human activity” caused climate change and cut a “political statement” urging governments to take action to stop climate change, said Ken Miller, the co-author of that textbook and a professor emeritus of biology at Brown University. …

    Miller, also president of the board of the National Center for Science Education, said the phrase “climate change” was not removed from his high school biology text, which he assumed happened because climate change is mentioned in Florida’s academic standards for biology courses.

    But according to his publisher, a 90-page section on climate change was removed from its high school chemistry textbook and the phrase was removed from middle school science books, he said. …

    The actions seemed to echo Florida’s previous rejection of math and social studies textbooks that state officials claimed include passages of “indoctrination” and “ideological rhetoric.” …

    In May, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that stripped the phrase “climate change” from much of Florida law…

    DeSantis has said the new legislation, passed by Florida’s Republican-dominated Legislature, was “restoring sanity in our approach to energy and rejecting the agenda of the radical green zealots.” …

    Miller’s and the other author’s books were among those approved. The texts have not yet been printed so the Sentinel was unable to review them.

    But there are no textbooks for high school environmental science classes on the approved list, though three companies submitted bids to supply books for that class…

    Florida had already earned a D — and was among the five lowest-ranked states in the country — in a 2020 study that graded the states on how their public school science standards addressed climate change, said Glenn Branch, deputy director of the center for science education, which was a partner in the study. …

    Science textbook publishers were told in advance to keep “critical race theory,” “social emotional learning” and other “unsolicited strategies” out of their textbooks. However, the “rubric” used to evaluate the books made no mention of “climate change.”

    Small Favors Dept: no mention made of censoring evolution – yet.

  10. says

    every mention of florida opposing action on climate change should be mandated by law to mention most of the state is going to cease to exist within the next several decades.

  11. Pierce R. Butler says

    Great American Satan @ # 12: … most of the state is going to cease to exist …

    Aw c’mon – submerged debris and rubble doesn’t cease to exist just because it’s not buildings any more!

  12. birgerjohansson says

    Do you have any reliable summary of the polls for the ‘battleground’ states?

  13. John Morales says

    For something rather different, puzzle box delectation:

    The Greatest Puzzle I’ve Ever Solved!

    Today I’ll be attempting to solve a one of a kind custom-made puzzle by martin Raynsford. This puzzle idea was given to Martin last year and he absolutely absolutely Ran with the idea of using AI. The programming in this and the artwork and this is all inspired by artificial intelligence.

  14. KG says

    Alas, the “Guardian council ” of regressive imams hold the real power. – birgerjohansson@2

    Well, I’ve been pretty disappointed with the Guardian at times, particularly over trans rights, but I hadn’t realised what they were up to in Iran!

  15. KG says

    THAT [Biden withdrawing in favour of Harris, who then gets targeted] is the scenario that keeps me up at night. – Lynna, OM@5 quoting DailyKos

    The one that keeps me up at night is Biden staying on, and his cognitive decline becoming much more evident before November. Considering the difference between the State of the Union and the debate, it doesn’t seem unlikely.

  16. says

    Here’s a link to the France 24 liveblog of the second round of legislative elections:

    Polls opened in the second and final round of France’s snap legislative elections on Sunday with more than 500 seats still up for grabs in the lower-house National Assembly. Midday turnout is reported to be the highest in 43 years, reaching 26.63% at noon. The vote will determine France’s next prime minister, who will likely come from the party or coalition winning the most seats. Follow our liveblog for the latest updates on the French legislative elections….

    – French President Emmanuel Macron dissolved parliament and called for snap legislative elections after the far right trounced his centrist alliance in June 9 elections for the European Parliament.
    – The National Assembly’s 577 total MPs are elected for five-year terms in two rounds (June 30 and July 7). Still up for grabs on Sunday are 501 seats after dozens of MPs were elected outright in the first round.
    – Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party led after the first round with 33% of the vote, according to interior ministry figures, with the New Popular Front leftist alliance following in second place with almost 28%. President Macron’s ruling coalition trailed in third place with 20%.
    – The second-round voting began Saturday off the Canadian coast in the North Atlantic territory of Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon and was followed by French territories across the Caribbean, South Pacific and the Indian Ocean along with French voters living abroad.
    Initial polling projections are expected when the final voting stations close at 8pm Paris time (1800 GMT), with early official results expected late Sunday and early Monday.

    Preliminary results announced in some overseas territories

    In Guadeloupe, the outgoing left-wing MPs were re-elected with scores of between 69 and 77.5% in the four constituencies, after notably facing two National Rally (RN) candidates who had made a breakthrough by qualifying for the second round.

    In Martinique, all four constituencies went to New Popular Front (NFP) candidates.

    In French Guiana, the two outgoing candidates supported by the NFP were re-elected, with Davy Rimane receiving 100% of the votes, in the absence of an opponent….

  17. says

    CBS – “Florida sees COVID-19 surge in emergency rooms, near last winter’s peaks”:

    Rates of COVID-19 have surged in Florida emergency rooms over recent weeks, according to new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and are now near peaks not seen since the worst days of this past winter’s wave of the virus.

    The weekly average of emergency room patients with COVID-19 has reached 2.64% in Florida, according to CDC data updated Friday, and now rank among the highest of any state during this summer’s COVID-19 wave.

    Trends from Florida have also climbed steeply in other key metrics that authorities now use to track COVID-19, including in wastewater and nursing homes.

    Florida’s steep increase in COVID-19 emergency room patients echoes that in some western states, which saw trends of the virus pick up in recent weeks.

    Trends remain high across the West, though COVID-19 emergency room visits now appear to have peaked in Hawaii after recording some of the highest rates of patients in over a year.

    “Over the past few weeks, some surveillance systems have shown small national increases in COVID-19; widespread as well as local surges are possible over the summer months,” the CDC said in a bulletin issued Wednesday.

    Nationwide, the majority of states are also now estimated to be seeing COVID-19 cases grow, the CDC’s forecasters said this week.

    A growing number of states have also begun to see COVID-19 increase in data from hospitals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday in its weekly report on the virus.

    “Some areas of the country are experiencing consistent increases in COVID-19 activity, including increases in COVID-19 test positivity and emergency department visits and increases in rates of COVID-19–associated hospitalizations among adults 65+ at several sites,” the agency said.

    The agency has been cautious in recent weeks saying that this year’s summer COVID-19 surge had arrived, saying that recent increases were coming off of record low levels of the virus.

    “This past winter, COVID-19 peaked in early January, declined rapidly in February and March, and by May 2024 was lower than at any point since March 2020,” the CDC said.

    Outside of Florida and the West, rates of emergency room visits with the virus remain far from previous peaks, despite recent increases. Overall, the CDC says that nationwide activity of COVID-19 remains “low.”

    Previous years have seen COVID-19 activity pick up at least twice a year since the pandemic began, once during the summer or early fall after a lull during the spring, and then again during the winter, driven by new variants of the virus.

    The closely related KP.2 and KP.3 variants are currently dominant nationwide, driving more than half of cases in recent weeks, according to estimates published Friday by the CDC.

    Behind them, a mix of other variants have accelerated. LB.1 is next largest, at 14.9% of cases. And in the region spanning New Mexico through Louisiana, the CDC estimates a new variant called KP.4.1 surged to 17.9% of infections through June 22.

    I’ve been listening to Dr. Jonathan Howard’s podcast We Want Them Infected, and read his book of the same name. In one of the book chapters he has a long section of quotes from the doctors[!] who opposed almost all measures to control COVID and started advocating for a return to normal and letting the virus tear through the population in 2020. The quotes are their endlessly repeated claims that the pandemic is over/the virus has been “defanged”/herd immunity has been reached over the years alongside the rising total number of deaths in the US at the time each statement was made. It was nauseating to read, and in a recent episode of the podcast (beginning about 50 minutes in, IIRC) he has a recording of an actor reading the quotes along with the rising death numbers (I’m not sure if it’s excerpted from the audiobook or done separately for the podcast). These doctors are still claiming they were right and attacking public health officials, and they haven’t been held accountable in any way for behavior that contributed to massive suffering and tens of thousands of deaths.

  18. KG says

    Admittedly, it’s possible he’s been intermittently as bad as he was in the debate for some time, but I don’t think that’s particularly reassuring.

  19. says

    How Trump is training his supporters to laugh themselves into fascism

    On June 22, Donald Trump told an audience of Christian conservatives in Philadelphia that he’d once urged Dana White, the head of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, to create a team of (presumably undocumented) immigrants who would be trained to fight the UFC’s regular league. Of course, Trump never elaborated on how such a league would be created or what methods would be used to enforce its compliance, leaving that to his listeners’ imaginations.

    As reported by Politico’s Natalie Allison and Jared Mitovich, Trump’s supporters in the crowd later minimized the remarks as jokes, noting that this was Trump’s way of “expressing how some of these illegal immigrants coming [into] this country are hardened criminals.” As Allison and Mitovich observe, the crowd reacted to Trump’s statements with laughter and approval.

    Trump repeated the statement later at a speech at Temple University in Philadelphia. According to The Washington Post, White confirmed that Trump had in fact made those statements to him, but also contended that they were “a joke.” The media apparently agreed, and the statements were swiftly consigned to that gaping memory hole where Trump’s many thousands of outrageous utterances inevitably disappear.

    As most of us realize by now, this was nothing unusual for Trump. He consistently exploits the use of crass humor to convey cruel, autocratic, and often violent aspirations that might otherwise be deemed offensive and unacceptable. Trump’s followers not only expect this use of humor, they actually crave it because it solidifies their allegiance to him. Through such statements Trump conjures up a common enemy for his crowds and supporters to focus their resentments and grievances on: liberals, Democrats, women, immigrants, […] for ridicule and debasement. These are his perennial targets, the ones who by definition are not in on the joke.

    These statements are usually delivered at his rallies and often appear in the form of belittlement or demeaning slanders that serve as a secret handshake between Trump and his supporters. As they were in Philadelphia, these “jokes” are routinely met with boisterous laughter and applause. To an outside observer they may seem more mean-spirited than comedic: a politician going off the rails with provocative cheap shots and self-parody. But to his rapt, attentive followers there is something quite different going on.

    […] As we know, the end result of these guffaw-inducing jibes played itself out on American television screens in the shocking hours that followed [that followed the attack by MAGA cult followers on January 6]

    A constant thread running through all of Trump’s speeches—whether he is channeling humor in them or not—is the lack of empathy or genuine affinity toward anyone but himself. The same can be said of his governing style, vividly on display throughout his entire tenure in office. In fact, that total absence of empathy is a singular hallmark of Trump’s personality. But total lack of empathy is not particularly attractive to most people, Trump tends to cloak it in his own peculiar brand of mean-spirited, often racist or misogynist humor. What ought to be repugnant is instead repackaged as entertainment. […]

    [Fintan O’Toole wrote:]

    Racist, misogynistic, antisemitic, xenophobic, antidisabled, and antiqueer jokes have always been used to dehumanize those who are being victimized.” This brand of humor “[C]reates an economy of compassion, limiting it to those who are laughing and excluding those who are being laughed at.” In other words, “[i]t makes the polarization of humanity fun.

    […] Fascist regimes throughout the 20th century routinely employed humor as a means of cultivating support and criticizing or mocking their political opponents. But as O’Toole suggests, this use of ironic humor to serve up attacks on discrete subgroups of people has also been a characteristic of modern-day fascists (or “populists”) from Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi to Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro. The genius of this is that the joking quality masquerades the perpetrator’s actual intent, creating plausible deniability among those who wield it.

    […] But this use of humor does more than simply bind the leader’s followers together. It also insulates him—and them—from accountability to those targeted by their hate. Because it’s only a joke, right?

    […] It’s how, for example, Trump can be dismissed as joking when he refers to being a dictator on “Day One,” without ever explaining what that actually means. Or how he can desensitize his followers’ views on immigrants by so-called jokes about staged fights. […]

    […]historical experience shows that deliberately maligning, targeting, and demonizing groups of people invariably encourages harming them.

    […] But when the thrill of violating those social taboos through such humor becomes routine—or worse, normalized by a presidential candidate—the reasons those norms exist in the first place are cast aside and forgotten. At that point the insults and insinuations are viewed as acceptable again, along with all the cruelty, hate, and intolerance that flow from them. But what happens next is never particularly funny.

  20. says

    The media’s Anti-Biden noise isn’t an accident.

    Nothing on this tweet surprises me. [posted by John C. Varner:]

    -CNN: CEO Trump donor
    -ABC: CEO Trump donor
    -CBS: CEO Trump donor
    -NBC: CEO Trump donor
    -MSNBC: CEO Trump donor
    -Washington Post: owner Jeff Bezo
    -Wall Street Journal: Owner: Rupert Murdoch
    – New York Times: CEO Trump donor.

    Yep. That’s who the major mainstream media outlets are featuring in their coverage. It’s wall-to-wall coverage of people against Biden. And it is not wall-to-wall coverage of Trump telling 28 lies during the debate, telling “jokes” about having immigrants fight each other, or claiming immunity for taking classified documents to Mar-a-Lago.

    We may need to discuss Biden’s health, but not like this.

  21. says

    Senator Bernie Sanders:

    “What we are talking about now is not a Grammy Award contest for best singer,” he said. “Biden is old. He is not as articulate as he once was. I wish he could jump up the steps on Air Force One. He can’t. What we have got to focus on is policy — whose policies have and will benefit the vast majority of the people in this country.”

  22. says

    Representative Adam Schiff:

    “Given Biden’s incredible record and given Trump’s terrible record he should be mopping the floor with Donald Trump,” Schiff said. “It should not be even close, and the reason it is close is the president’s age. […] The interview didn’t put concerns to rest. No single interview is going to do that.”

    Schiff talking about Kamala Harris:

    “I think she has the experience, the judgment, the leadership ability to be an extraordinary president.”

    More details from Adam Schiff’s conversation with Kristen Welker about President Biden:

    “I think Biden should take the time talk to people outside of his immediate circle, talk to people he respects, people with objectivity, people with distance, and make the right decision for the country,” he said. “And I’m confident Joe Biden has always made the fundamental distinguishing distinction between he and Donald Trump.”

    Sounds carefully worded to me. Also true.

  23. says

    Israeli protesters block highways, call for cease-fire to bring back hostages as war marks 9 months

    The demonstrations come as international mediators renew efforts to broker a deal, with Hamas appearing to drop demands that Israel commit to ending the war.

    Marking nine months since the war in Gaza started, Israeli protesters blocked highways across the country Sunday, calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step down and pushing for a cease-fire that could bring back the hostages held by Hamas.

    The demonstrations come as international mediators have renewed efforts to broker a deal. Hamas over the weekend appeared to have dropped a key demand for an Israeli commitment to end the war, according to Egyptian and Hamas officials who spoke to The Associated Press.

    […] Meanwhile, fighting in Gaza continued, with nine Palestinians reported dead from Israeli strikes overnight and into the early hours of Sunday.

    Six Palestinians were killed in central Gaza after a strike hit a house in the town of Zawaida, according to the al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital. Another Israeli airstrike early Sunday hit a house west of Gaza City, killing another 3 people, the strip’s Hamas-linked civil defense said.

    The Gaza Health Ministry said Saturday an Israeli airstrike killed at least 16 people and wounded at least 50 others in a school-turned-shelter in the Nuseirat refugee camp. The Israeli military said they were targeting Hamas militants and had taken “numerous steps” to reduce civilian casualties.

    Also Sunday morning, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah said it launched dozens of projectiles toward northern Israel in the north, targeting areas more than 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the border, deeper than most launches.

    A 28-year-old Israeli man was seriously wounded in Kfar Zeitim, a small town near the city of Tiberias, Israel’s national rescue service reported. […]

    Washington’s phased deal would start with a “full and complete” six-week cease-fire during which older, sick and female hostages would be released in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. During those 42 days, Israeli forces would withdraw from densely populated areas of Gaza and allow the return of displaced people to their homes in northern Gaza, the officials said.

    […] The Israel-Hamas war has caused widespread damage in Gaza. Israeli restrictions, ongoing fighting and the breakdown of law and order have curtailed humanitarian aid efforts, causing widespread hunger and sparking fears of famine. The top U.N. court has concluded there is a “plausible risk of genocide” in Gaza — a charge Israel denies.

    More at the link.

  24. says

    Trump Campaign Tells Evangelicals: Ixnay On The Bortionaay Ansbay

    […] the Republican position on abortion (NO ABORTIONS EVER SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP BABY-KILLER) is galactically unpopular all across America. […]

    You know who is not well-informed and is a fucking idiot? Donald Trump. And yet, if The Washington Post is correct, even he knows the NO ABORTIONS EVER SHUT UP position is unpopular with the majority of Americans. Which is why Trump’s staff is trying to modify the language of the abortion plank in the party platform ahead of the Republican National Convention kicking off a week from Monday.

    Unfortunately for the staff, they are running smack into the evangelicals who have supported Trump in order to get rid of abortion and are none too happy with what they see as him equivocating. Probably should have thought of that before they hopped into bed with a lifelong conman […]

    The new language in the platform would abandon the GOP’s call to extend personhood to fetuses by amending the Constitution. The party has been hollering about doing this for decades, and the fact that the idea remains unpopular with the public — and more specifically, with swing state voters — is not going to give them pause.

    Come, let us read the Washington Post together and wallow in the schadenfreude, which has been in short supply in recent days:

    The escalating behind-the-scenes disagreement over the abortion language has become so tense and acrimonious in recent weeks that some social conservative leaders have issued public warnings of a coming split within Trump’s coalition. […] Trump advisers, in turn, have been angered by the public pressure from antiabortion activists

    Had Trump’s staff never met antiabortion activists before now? They have bombed clinics and shot doctors to stop abortion. They are not exactly shy about publicly expressing opinions.

    Trump allies have argued that letting states decide their own abortion limitations helps the former president seem more moderate on the issue.


    Trump appearing more moderate is not something the antis care about. They figure they have the momentum and six Supreme Court justices who will buy whatever they are selling, so why be modest?

    Trump has been repeating his claim that “everyone” wanted to send the issue of abortion back to the states. This is of course horseshit, which we know, and you know, and anyone with more intellectual candlepower than a zucchini knows. Maybe the GOP should run a zucchini instead of Donald Trump and see if anyone notices the difference.

    They argue that a constitutional amendment on abortion — a feature of the GOP platform since the 1980s — can be seen as a state issue, since any amendment would ultimately need to be ratified by at least 38 of the 50 states. [Wow. That’s some spin.] They also say that Trump’s recent statements on abortion fail to address the abortions performed in more liberal states that allow the procedure with relatively few limitations.

    Man, the ads for Democrats practically write themselves on this issue. That does not mean the Democrats will then shoot and edit and put those ads on the air, possibly because they are going to be too busy hitting each other in the face with shovels over whether Joe Biden should keep running or not. But the ads are right there.

    At least we are consoled knowing Americans aren’t going to care what the platform says; they are going to care about how many women they may know who are now being forced to carry unwanted pregnancies or begging doctors for emergency abortions […]

    Considering how much they suck as both political operatives and human beings, we have to give the Trump campaign a smidge of credit here. Between this abortion question and, as Marcie noted, Donald throwing Project 2025 under the bus on Friday, it seems the people running this shit show recognize just how unpopular their policies are with the public. So they are trying to distance themselves, at least publicly, from the harder right elements of those policies. We honestly didn’t think they had that much self-awareness.

  25. says

    KG @ #24:

    Admittedly, it’s possible he’s been intermittently as bad as he was in the debate for some time, but I don’t think that’s particularly reassuring.

    It’s also possible he’s been somewhere in the middle all along and that both of these public events are outliers, that he’s been as good as he was at the SOTU all along and the debate was an uncharacteristically bad night, and any number of other plausible scenarios. As I said, it’s two data points.

    As for Kamala Harris replacing him, I don’t even get it. She’s literally the Vice President. She’s first in the line of succession, required to be ready to replace him at a moment’s notice, and fully capable of carrying out the duties of the presidency should anything happen to him.

  26. Paul K says

    KG, at 24 and elsewhere. I have loads of respect for your knowledge and explanations of UK politics, as well as your thoughts on most other topics, but I’m just totally not on board with your take on Biden and his possible decline.

    We have only two choices come November. Biden or Trump. There is simply no way for anyone else to take Trump on. No one with the funds, recognition, record, organization. I would vote for Harris in a general election, without hesitation. She’s the only possible replacement with any chance at all. But what Lynna, at comment 5, quoted, is spot on. Racism and misogyny are bad enough that, especially at this late date, they would be enough to keep Harris from winning. The other bits in that piece at #5 are true as well.

    The media has been absolutely terrible on this whole manufactured mess. Biden is old, we kept being told. Now he’s in mental decline, we get inundated with. Anyone who replaces him will get the same unfair scrutiny. We also have been hearing that Trump has been ‘lying low’, when he hasn’t. He just keeps saying the same crazy, lying, nasty crap that we’ve heard so often that it just doesn’t crack the media’s craving for shiny things.

    I wrote in the last iteration of the thread that I’d vote for Biden even if he was a turnip. I still say that. No one has written a compelling case for any other specific person and how they could realistically beat Trump. (Funding being the biggest obstacle). That is insane; a turnip should beat him soundly. But we are where we are, and Trump gets a pass as he just keeps telling us just who he is. I was concerned and angry when the media just kept harping on Biden’s age while ignoring Trump’s utter failure at being coherent at all. Now I’m actually scared that this current hype about Biden’s mental state will mean Trump gets back into power. I’ve been hopeful for the success of decency up until now.

    If Biden does get re-elected and becomes unable to do the job, we have systems to replace him, and he’s surrounded himself with competent people who will deal with any issues so that we get past them. If Trump wins, we’re just fucked.

  27. says

    From the Guardian liveblog:

    The polls take place two days before France’s football team takes on Spain in the semi-final of the Euro 2024 tournament in Germany.

    Earlier this week, Kylian Mbappé branded the first-round results of France’s snap parliamentary election “catastrophic”, and urged voters to turn out in force and fend off the threat of a National Rally-controlled government when polls opened for the runoff vote on Sunday.

    In the latest of several interventions by members of the France national football team, the influential captain Mbappé warned that the country must take its chance to ensure the far right, anti-immigration party is unable to seize power in what has become a tumultuous political battle.

    “It’s an urgent situation,” he said when asked for his thoughts on a parlous state of affairs that saw National Rally win 33% of the popular vote in the first round.

    “We cannot let our country fall into the hands of these people. It is pressing. We saw the results, it’s catastrophic. We really hope it’s going to change: that everyone is going to rally together, go and vote, and vote for the correct party.”

    His remarks drew a strong rebuke from Le Pen, who said, despite being a “very good” footballer, Mbappe should not “lecture” French voters.

  28. says

    From the Guardian:

    Left-green alliance takes the lead: first projections

    The polls are closed in France and the first projections have been published.

    France’s national assembly has 577 seats, with 289 seats needed for an absolute majority.

    Here is the first projected seat distribution, from Ipsos. It shows the left in the lead, in a major shift compared to opinion polls during the campaign.

    Left-green New Popular Front: 172-192 seats

    Emmanuel Macron’s allies: 150-170 seats

    Far right National Rally and allies: 132-152 seats

    Fingers crossed!

  29. says

    The Guardian also links to a tweet from the pollster IFOP, with even better numbers:

    Projection en sièges à l’Assemblée nationale

    Nouveau Front Pop. : 180-215
    Ensemble (Majo. Pres.) : 150-180
    RN et alliés : 120-150

  30. birgerjohansson says

    Nigel Farage says his party will take on Labour. If he genuinely believes he has the support to do that, his craziness will have beneficial effects.
    Also, if the tories think they can rebuild by turning further right, it will leave a bigger opening for the lib dems.
    Familiar faces but not all from politics: meet the surprise Labour ministers | The Guardian

  31. says

    Followup to SC @34, 35, and 36.

    Shocking and shockingly good news out of France. A longtime TPM Reader who I am constant touch with is an immigrant from France. And through conversations with him over the last few weeks I was expecting – though by no means sure – that Le Pen’s National Rally party would come up short in the run off. But the actual results are even more dramatic. They appear to be coming in third. Not just behind the the parties of the left running as a consolidated new United Front, but actually behind President Macron’s centrist party too. A couple weeks ago I think the best anyone was hoping for was keeping National Rally short of an absolute majority. It was treated as a foregone conclusion they’d get a plurality of seats. But even the Republicans – the old center right party of government which has been thoroughly marginalized – is over-performing relative to expectations. It’s really a stunning reversal.

    There are lots of lessons to draw from this. […] But one that is obvious even from across the Atlantic is [that] the first sine qua non that gets you to this moment is the parties of the left agreeing on a common front. The strongest party in each district runs […] Then the Macronists, after running hard against the left in round one, turned around and agreed to a modified version of this kind of cooperation in round two.

    It was never really in the cards that Le Pen’s party would get that much more than a third of the vote. But that could have created a majority in the parliament and essentially given them keys to the state. (Labour just got a third of the vote in the UK and now totally dominate parliament.) But in the second round most of the other parties – complicated, but big picture this is what happened – agreed to let the most viable candidate face the Le Pen candidate one on one in most districts. So Le Pen/RN candidates couldn’t win with a thin plurality in a divided field. That worked.

    There’s also some real extent to which numerous Le Pen/RN candidates were revealed as racists, scoundrels, wife beaters (Frenchified Trumpers basically) and that hurt them some too. Not that this is terribly surprising. But Marine Le Pen has managed over the last decade a significant rebranding of the party her father founded. Kinder gentler racist nationalists basically, with less Vichy nostalgia and tchotchkes. But reporting over the last few weeks showed that lots of the candidates were totally the old team under a thin patina of gold paint. […]

  32. says

    Meet the group behind Trump’s fascist 2025 agenda, by Mark Sumner.

    The large red fingerprints of the Heritage Foundation seem to be everywhere in the news. The group authored Project 2025, which would empty the federal government, populate it with MAGA loyalists, and, in its own words, “deconstruct the administrative state.” As The New Republic puts it, Project 2025 is “a remarkably detailed guide to turning the United States into a fascist’s paradise.”

    They’re thrilled by the Supreme Court’s recent immunity ruling, deeply involved in attacks on diversity and equity initiatives, and obsessed over strange things like Prince Harry’s visa.

    And they promise not to kill all leftists—as long as we sit quietly and acquiesce to their dominion over the nation.

    The Heritage Foundation so kindly offering to let us have our lives in exchange for our freedom is a malignancy that has festered in the group for decades. Though it benefits from a name and a network of donors stretching back five decades, today’s Heritage Foundation is a much more dangerous beast.

    It has wealth. It has connections. And it has democracy in its sights.

    The Heritage Foundation was founded in 1973 by the founder of Coors Brewing and conservative strategists Paul Weyrich and Ed Feulner. They thought that President Richard Nixon [sheesh!] had moved too far to the left and that other Republican organizations were too timid. They promoted a strong anti-communist message and a social conservatism that didn’t recognize a wall between church and state, and pushed for a smaller government.

    The group quickly gained power under President Ronald Reagan, who embraced its “Mandate for Leadership”—a 1,100-page document of policies—and distributed it among his staff. Much of what came to be known as “the Reagan doctrine,” both domestically and internationally, was a repackaging of this product from the Heritage Foundation.

    Having established deep inroads in the Republican Party, Heritage maintained that position through both Democratic and Republican administrations. They were largely responsible for shaping Republican positions to oppose the universal health care plan offered by President Bill Clinton. The Heritage plan, “Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans,” would go on to be the basis of then-Gov. Mitt Romeny’s health care plan for Massachusetts and eventually form the core of the Affordable Care Act. By this time, the Heritage Foundation was attacking it.

    Like many organizations, Heritage has seen turnovers in leadership, staff purges, shifts in philosophy, and difficulties in maintaining its place in a changing political environment. But the Heritage Foundation that exists today is practically a toddler. With a razor blade.

    This iteration of the Heritage Foundation dates to the pandemic, when the group’s previous leader, Kay Coles James, made the mistake of trying to follow safety guidelines, including closing the group’s offices for an extended period and putting up signs that encouraged masking. That led to her replacement by conspiracy theorist Kevin Roberts, who had been on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s COVID-19 task force and immediately pushed Heritage into suing to stop any vaccine mandate. [Interesting! Hmmm]

    Under Roberts, the group moved swiftly away from its traditional conservative positions—and into Christian nationalism. It retained its funding and deep roots in the Republican Party, but it began pushing for the ouster of existing Republican leadership and for the historically hawkish organization to oppose military aid to Ukraine.

    The organization also switched from supporting former Vice President Mike Pence in the months after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection to condemning Pence for his failure to go along with Trump’s plans and ordering members to take down posts opposing Jan. 6 violence.

    If the MAGA movement is the red-hatted equivalent of “brownshirts,” Heritage is now the SS—the real power behind the throne. It does the plotting and planning, so Trump can stand around and rail against wet batteries.

    Anyone on the right who is currently amused by Roberts’ none-too-subtle hints about killing progressives who oppose Trump might want to think again. When the long knives come out, Heritage will be there for them, as well.

    Because whatever heritage this group stands for, it definitely isn’t American democracy.

  33. says

    Tressie Cottom, writing for The New York Times:

    […] However poorly Biden performed at that debate (and he was embarrassing), debates are theater. However ill equipped the Democratic Party is to provide an heir apparent — and they are embarrassingly unprepared for this predictable eventuality — their dysfunction is not the clear and present danger. The Supreme Court’s decision on presidential immunity is a harbinger of not just the court’s growing power but of Democrats’ inability to mount a populist defense. This conservative bloc on the court reflects years of undemocratic political maneuvering, from Mitch McConnell stealing a seat to the political activism of Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Samuel Alito and Justice Clarence Thomas. Their decisions are not only codifying minority interests, they are a show of strength for a Republican Party that has no intention of ever ceding power to majority will again.

    If you take your eye off the ball of democracy for any length of time, no amount of history will save you.

    Americans have taken our eyes off the ball. I have not wanted to make that call. It is an easy thing to say. Too easy. Critical thinkers too often toss about pronouncements about the demise of democracy when they lose a political battle or just want to seem erudite. It can make professional critics sound like Chicken Little, always claiming the end is near until no one cares to hear our squawking.

    But it is time to squawk. It is not just that my side — the ideas I believe in like bodily autonomy, economic justice and diversity — are losing in the marketplace of ideas. It is that many of the ideas that I believe in absolutely kill in the marketplace of ideas, and it does not matter. The majority of Americans want women to have access to safe abortion care. The majority of Americans want strong social welfare programs. They want affordable housing and safe schools and sensible gun control. My ideas are winning but our electoral politics no longer care about representing the winning ideas. […]

  34. says

    Persistent heat wave in the U.S. expected to shatter new records as it bakes West and swelters in East

    An excessive heat warning — the National Weather Service’s highest alert — was in effect for about 36 million people, or about 10% of the population.

    A long-running heat wave that has already shattered previous records across the U.S. will persist, baking parts of the West with dangerous temperatures that will soar into the 100s and holding the East in its hot and humid grip throughout the week, forecasters said Sunday.

    An excessive heat warning — the National Weather Service’s highest alert — was in effect for about 36 million people, or about 10% of the population, with temperatures in Oregon expected to exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 degrees Celsius) and as high as 115 degrees (46.1 C) in some parts of California on Sunday, said NWS meteorologist Bryan Jackson.

    “We’re expecting a few dozen of them, on the order of 30, to tie or break their daily high temperature record” in the West and Pacific Northwest, Jackson said.

    Scorching temperatures broke numerous records on Saturday: Reading, California, had a record high of 119 degrees Fahrenheit (48.3 degrees Celsius), breaking its all-time record high of 118; Ukiah, north of San Francisco, hit 117 degrees Fahrenheit (47 degrees Celsius), breaking the city’s record for the date and tying its all-time high; and Livermore, east of San Francisco, hit 111 F (43.8 C), breaking the daily maximum temperature record of 109 F (42.7 C) set more than a century ago in 1905.

    Las Vegas tied the record of 115 F (46 C), last reached in 2007, and Phoenix topped out at 114 F (45.5 C), just shy of the record of 116 F (46.7 C) dating to 1942.

    […] On the more-humid East Coast, temperatures above 100 degrees were expected, though no excessive heat advisories were in effect for the region on Sunday, Jackson said. On Saturday, Raleigh, North Carolina, reached an all-time record high of 106 degrees F (41.1 C), with a maximum heat index of 118 F (47.7 C), he said.

    […] Rare heat advisories were extended even into higher elevations including around Lake Tahoe, on the border of California and Nevada, with the National Weather Service in Reno, Nevada, warning of “major heat risk impacts, even in the mountains.”

    “How hot are we talking? Well, high temperatures across (western Nevada and northeastern California) won’t get below 100 degrees (37.8 C) until next weekend,” the service posted online. “And unfortunately, there won’t be much relief overnight either.”

    Indeed, Reno hit a high of 104 F (40 C) on Saturday, smashing the old record of 101 F (38.3 C).

    More extreme highs are in the near forecast, including 129 F (53.8 C) for Sunday at Furnace Creek, California, in Death Valley National Park, and then around 130 F (54.4 C) through Wednesday. […]

    In Arizona’s Maricopa County, which encompasses Phoenix, there have been at least 13 confirmed heat-related deaths this year, along with more than 160 other deaths suspected of being related to heat that are still under investigation, according to a recent report.

    That does not include the death of a 10-year-old boy last week in Phoenix who suffered a “heat-related medical event” while hiking with family at South Mountain Park and Preserve, according to police.

    […] “when you’re in the sun, it feels like you’re cooking”

  35. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Lynna #44:

    The Heritage Foundation was founded in 1973 by the founder of Coors Brewing and conservative strategists Paul Weyrich and Ed Feulner.
    Under [conspiracy theorist Kevin Roberts], the group moved swiftly away from its traditional conservative positions—and into Christian nationalism.

    Paul Weyrich was on the conference call among evangelical leaders when they picked abortion to stoke the next big moral panic to maintain an angry voting bloc. Before that, Weyrich had built their political evangelical movement to rally behind defending tax-exempt status for segregationist Bible schools. Weyrich later coined and co-founded “Moral Majority” with Jerry Falwell.

    Wikipedia – The Heritage Foundation

    advocated for pro-business policies and anti-communism in its early years, but distinguished itself from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) by also advocating for cultural issues that were important to Christian conservatives”

  36. says

    The Supreme Court decided to give Donald Trump immunity before they crafted their opinion

    That’s according to Judge J. Michael Luttig, the same man that advised Mike Pence that he couldn’t steal the election for Donald Trump. Just a few minutes ago, I heard Judge Luttig say it in Michael Popok’s Meidas Touch interview with him. After I heard him say it, I transcribed the most important thing, not according to me but according to Judge Luttig, because I thought y’all would be interested to read it. I’m also posting a link to the full interview below the transcript.

    Vote Democracy 2024!

    Judge Luttig in his own words —

    The most important thing that I want to say today about the decision is this:

    The Supreme Court decided to give absolute immunity to Donald Trump and then wrote the opinion to justify it. How do we know it? This is how we know it. Donald Trump has been charged with the gravest crimes possible against the United States of America. Those charges and those allegations were the only issue before this Supreme. That’s all the court was required to decided and, by the way, for almost 250 years, that’s the only issue that any Supreme Court in history would have decided.

    What did this Supreme Court do? It decided the issue of presidential immunity for all times in all contexts possible under the Constitution. It’s the precise opposite of what any court, any court of the United States, and especially the Supreme Court of the United States, ever does.

    Now why did they do it? There’s only one possible explanation. They had to decide that the president, that Donald Trump had absolute immunity because he’s alleged to have committed the gravest crimes against America. So if they were going to hold that he was immune, they had to adopt his argument that he was absolutely immune from even the gravest crimes that a president could commit against the United States of America. The court had no choice, if it were going to hold that Donald Trump was immune from prosecution for the grave offenses that he committed.

    This is a classic case where the Supreme Court decided what it wanted to decide and then went in search of the constitutional reasoning that would support that decision. Unfortunately for America, there was no constitutional reasoning, none based in the Constitution, the court’s precedence, history, anything anywhere, to support that decision that they made before this argument ever took place.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    Any lower court that made such a decision would be very quickly overturned. The remedy for this decision is 3 fold. First we get unity control of Congress — and pass a law overturning this decision, holding that immunity is limited only to the president carrying out his duties in good faith. For instance, designating a monument under the Antiquities Act. It does not apply to any effort to stonewall a investigation by Congress or a special counsel, and does not extend to any advice given to him that tries to mislead the American people The president is subject to indictment for crimes committed against the government, such as obstruction of justice, or the states, for things like fraud. Former presidents have NO immunity, any such immunities apply only to the incumbent president, and only when acting in good faith. Any attempt to undermine or overturn an election is treason and the president is automatically removed from office .

    To address this decision by the court, we pass a law clarifying what good behavior is and remove the 6 justices from office for this decision which destroys the notion of checks and balances. We set the court at 15 and give the justices 20 years tenures. Lengthy, but not for life.
    Immunity doesn’t apply to the VP, to Cabinet Officers, or to anyone other than the President. So, all these folks ought to be very aware that, even if Trump — were he elected — they could be charged and could only hope for a pardon. In the event of a sufficiently egregious action by the President, public opinion would be damning if covered up by a pardon.
    I think it was obvious when they took the case to begin with
    Bingo, there’s nothing in the Constitution about immunity so they invent it. These hypocrites said abortion is not in the Constitution so Roe should be overturned. In other words, the Constitution is irrelevant to them; it’s the outcome that matters, as the Judge says—they work backwards from their desired end.

  37. John Morales says

    In the news:

    In the initial chaos of the Hamas attack on 7 October, Israel’s armed forces employed what is known as the Hannibal protocol, a directive to use force to prevent the kidnapping of soldiers even at the expense of hostages’ lives, according to a report.

    The Israel daily Haaretz reported on Sunday, nine months to the day after the assault in which about 1,200 people were killed and another 250 abducted to the Gaza Strip, that the operational procedure was used at three army facilities attacked by Hamas, potentially endangering civilians as well.

    Another message given to Israel’s Gaza division at 11.22am, about five hours after the attack began, ordered: “Not a single vehicle can return to Gaza.”

    A southern command source told the paper: “Everyone knew by then that such vehicles could be carrying kidnapped civilians or soldiers … Everyone knew what it meant to not let any vehicles return to Gaza.”

  38. John Morales says

    Since France is already in the news:

    Napoleon’s pistols sell for €1.69m at auction

    Two pistols owned by the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, with which he once intended to kill himself, have been sold at auction for €1.69m (£1.4m).

    The weapons, which were created by the Paris gunmaker Louis-Marin Gosset, had been expected to fetch between €1.2m and €1.5m.

    They were sold at the Osenat auction house on Sunday – next to the Fontainebleau palace where Napoleon tried to take his own life following his abdication in 1814.

    The pistols’ sale comes after France’s culture ministry recently classified them as national treasures and banned their export.

    This means the French government now has 30 months to make a purchase offer to the new owner, who has not been named. It also means the pistols can only leave France temporarily.

  39. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Restoring Indigenous aquaculture heals both ecosystems and communities in Hawai’i

    Unlike commercial aquaculture, these traditional fishponds thrive without feed input and need little management once established.

    “Aquaculture has a really bad reputation for basically destroying areas around it, but those are commercial approaches […] Rather than ensuring the health of the system, commercial aquaculture is concerned with maximizing profits.”
    Indigenous aquaculture produces herbivorous fish, whereas most commercial aquaculture produces lucrative carnivores such as tuna and salmon.
    “From a capitalist model it makes sense to grow predators, but from an environmental stewardship model that’s the dumbest idea ever, […] Because you could either feed your people 100 pounds of baitfish, or you can feed your people with a 10-pound ahi [tuna].”
    Today, Hawai’i imports almost 90% of its food, including 63% of its seafood. But historically, working fishponds […] supported almost 1 million people, close to its current level of 1.4 million. […] Imports increased as development, land-use change and invasive mangroves destroyed most fishponds. Only in the 1970s did a revival movement begin. Now, of the nearly 500 original ponds, 20 have received restoration permits

    Indigenous people in the Amazon are helping to build bridges & save primates

    the Reconecta Project and the Waimiri-Atroari Indigenous people build bridges that connect the forest canopy […] Brazil has the world’s fourth-largest road network, while 40% of its primate species are threatened with extinction; being run over on roads such as BR-174 is a leading cause of death.
    good results. In the first 10 months of monitoring, eight different species were documented [climbing them]. […] local arboreal mammals prefer […] just a single, thick rope weaved over a steel cable.
    In the coming months, Reconecta will be tested in other states and even abroad, in Suriname. […] [Brazil’s Department of Transport Infrastructure] plans to install almost 100 canopy bridges

    Nepal’s tiger revival

    Over the past decades, Nepal is the only developing country in the world that doubled its forest cover to 45 percent. Nepal has further tripled its tiger population to 355 wild cats in the last 15 years.
    As apex predators, tigers have cascading effects on their ecosystems. […] To protect just one tiger, an estimated 10,000 hectares of forest is conserved.
    Tigers also bring prosperity to the people. […] Every rupee spent by visitors raises the income of local households around [Chitwan National Park] by 1.78 rupees.

  40. John Morales says

    Now, for something different.

    I can’t help feeling the concept is grander than its instantiation:

    Chessboxing | Chox Con24 | Live Stream

    What is Chessboxing? It’s a wild mix-up of two of mankind’s oldest sporting obsessions. Opponents battle on the board and slug it out in the ring, alternating between rounds of chess and boxing, until there is a winner by checkmate or KO.

    [actual stream content begins 45 minutes in, which is itself informative]

  41. John Morales says

    Oh, right. I’ve just watched Perun’s most recent video.

    (So nice to see an actual analyst analysing!)

  42. John Morales says

    Well, it seems I am in an eclectic jag.

    Another good channel:

    The 10 Most DISTURBING MANGA I’ve Read

    00:00 – INTRO
    00:47 – Paranoia Star
    02:57 – Ingoshima
    04:07 – 17 SAI
    05:49 – Shoujo Tsubaki (Midori)
    07:45 – Ichi The Killer
    10:26 – Maru Psi: Bizarre Crime Division
    12:26 – Mai Chan’s Daily Life
    14:37 – Comedy Station Massacre
    15:31 – Applicant For Death
    16:23 – Kedamonotachi No Jikan (Time of The Beast)
    20:04 – OUTRO

  43. John Morales says

    Oops. Forgot.

    Content warning my previous, though only conceptually — it’s fully compliant with YouTube standards, which don’t include cognitive content. Yet.

  44. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    An essay occasioned by pinker-esque historians citing an old book of speculation.

    Beyond kingdoms and empires

    For some scholars […] empires are obvious and natural structures for human beings to inhabit, or even attractive […] The suggestion is that if the subjects of empire in times past could have escaped, they’d have been unwise to do so, […] to whatever lay beyond, in the forest or marshes, in the mountains and foothills, or out on the open steppe. […] not just our notion of empire as handmaiden to civilisation, but also our contemporary image of life before and beyond empire as being small-scale, chaotic and largely unproductive. In short, everything that is still implied by the word ‘tribal’.
    it is worth reflecting on what it means to talk of the ‘competitive advantage’ of states governed by extractive elites. […] What ‘advantages’, we might ask, accrued to a girl captured by Cilician pirates, and sold in the slave markets of Roman-era Delos, over one living freely in the Nuba Hills of southern Kordofan? Slaves were said to change hands at a rate of 10,000 per day in Delos, and the total number of slaves in the early Roman Empire could have been between 6 and 10 million. In what sense can their numbers be added to the side of the ‘winners’?
    What, exactly, were ancient empires ‘successful’ at, if extraordinary levels of violence, destruction and displacement were required to keep them afloat? Today it seems very possible that another 2,000 years of world governance by ‘powerful extractive elites’ could lead to the destruction of most life on Earth.
    Over the past few decades, geographical spaces once written off as blanks on the map, or dismissed as ‘an unchanging palaeolithic backwater’ […] have been […] revealing entire traditions of urban life, spanning centuries or even millennia, where none were previously suspected. All of them lie within the scope of the past 5,000 years, but surprisingly few can be convincingly identified with the rise of bureaucratically ordered kingdoms or empires.
    The world we live in today is not just the one created by the likes of Tiberius of Rome, or even Emperor Wu of Han. Until surprisingly recent times, spaces of human freedom existed across large parts of our planet. Millions lived in them. We don’t know their names, as they didn’t carve them in stone […] in which one could move away, disobey, experiment with other notions of how to live

  45. John Morales says

    Heh. Anyone else remember Pournelle’s Co-Dominium?

    Even as little as a decade before the Soviet Union imploded, it was seen as a thing that would last into the indefinite future. Part of how the world was.

    Or: the past informs the future (well, it should) but does not define it.

    One more:

    We don’t know their names, as they didn’t carve them in stone […] in which one could move away, disobey, experiment with other notions of how to live

    Ah, right.

    Another thing: ancient empires were ‘successful’ at having names carved in stone.

    (That’s two things, so far)

  46. John Morales says

    Monty Pythonesque question, really.

    Travel within the Roman Empire

    The Romans did more to facilitate travel than any other empire. They built major roads, cleared the seas of pirates, and instituted one currency. Until the invention of the steam engine, there was no time easier to travel than in Paul’s day. It is estimated that Paul travelled the equivalent of nearly half-way around the world, over 16,000 km (10,000 miles) by land and sea.

    The Pax Romana, or Roman Peace, declared by Emperor Augustus (27 BC – AD 14) enabled people like Paul to travel relatively safely in the first century. Epicetus, the Stoic philosopher wrote: “There are neither wars nor battles, nor great robberies nor piracies, but we may travel at all hours, and sail from east to west.”


    Arguable, but still.

  47. John Morales says

    History, eh?

    See, this is the way of empire.

    One day, you set up this Constitution and system of governance, then a bit later you get a civil war but kinda sort it out, then before you know it a couple of hundred years have gone by and things have been learned.

    Well, experienced at least.

    And make no bones about it, it may not be de jure, but in terms of influence and power and hegemony, the USA is functionally an empire. IMO, of course.

  48. KG says

    Even as little as a decade before the Soviet Union imploded, it was seen as a thing that would last into the indefinite future. Part of how the world was. – John Morales@63

    I once wrote notes for an article/story “How the Cold War ended” in which I listed and briefly described a dozen or more possibilites, including nuclear war, alien invasion and others even more far-fetched. But I didn’t include one side simply giving up, without being conquered or even attacked.

  49. KG says

    And make no bones about it, it may not be de jure, but in terms of influence and power and hegemony, the USA is functionally an empire. IMO, of course. – John Morales@66

    See How to Hide an Empire: A Short History of the Greater United States by Daniel Immerwahr. He describes the USA’s empire as a “Pointillist Empire”, refering to its global archipelago of military bases, and explains the difference from previous empires by advances in communication and travel technologies.

  50. birgerjohansson says

    “Empires” are not interested in changing the status quo.
    Both the hellenistic kingdoms and the Roman republic intervened to crush slave uprisings in adjacent countries.
    And after the empire had established itself, it was static (except for some details about how autocratic the rulers were) right up until the end.

  51. birgerjohansson says

    John Morales
    Not a manga but really messed-up animes:
    -Tokyo Gore Police.
    -Big Man Japan (not so much splatter, just weird).
    And there are several bizarre animes created by a cult known as Happy Science, promoting crap that is as weird as the weirdest religions.

  52. KG says

    Vive La France!

    Good news from France: the fascists failed miserably to take the National Assembly, coming in third after the Nouveau Front Populaire and Macron’s crew. The result will make it difficult for Macron to appoint a stable government: the largest componnet of the NFP is La France Insoumise (LFI), led by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who is demanding that Macron appoint an NFP government, but most centrist parties and factions would not enter government with LFI, and NFP is far from a majority (it has 182 seats out of 577). Other NFP parties would probably be willing to join a broad coalition, but with what policies? Still, a thoroughly satisfying slap in the face for Le Pen – one may hope for internal ructions in the fascist party. Their spokespeople are whining about how unfair the second-round alliance between the left and the Macronists was, but that alliance, which involved a large number of candidates standing down instead of contesting the second round, would not have worked if a majority of the French people had not been willing to vote to thwart the fascists. On BBC Radio 4’s Today this morning, a fascist spokesperson was interviewed, and allowed to spew his lies with little comeback. Not unreasonable to interview him, but one would have thought that a representative of the winners would have been interviewed first. I suppose it ws annoying for the Beeb to have its “Rise of the Right*” narrative disrupted.

    *Actually, I’ve noticed a switch in BBC terminology: both Le Pen’s fascists (the RN), and Reform Party UK Ltd. are now being labelled “Hard Right” rather than “Far Right”. Previously, “Hard right” has been reserved for right-wing factions in “centre-right” parties such as the Tories, with “Far Right” used for parties which hardly bother to disguise their racism but expel overtly fascist members, and “Extreme Right” for openly fascist ones.

  53. birgerjohansson says

    A 4,500-year-old collective tomb in France reveals final stage in formation of the ‘European genome’

    BTW there were two distinct pulses of genome mixing ca 500 years apart, a fact I did not know.
    (Also, Colin Renfrew might have been right – we cannot rule out that the anatolian neolithic farmers also used indo-european languages. But genes say nothing about languages)

  54. KG says

    And after the empire had established itself, it was static (except for some details about how autocratic the rulers were) right up until the end. – birgerjohansson@70

    That really is the most ridiculous tosh. Even if you date “the end” as the fall of the Western Empire in the late 5th century (which you shouldn’t, the Roman Empire lasted almost another millennium in the East), there was the extension of citizenship to all free inhabitants by Caracalla in 212 CE, the institution of co-emperors ruling the eastern (from Constantinople) and western halves of the Empire, the shift of the effective administrative capital of the west from Rome to Milan, the adoption of Christianity as the state religion, the reorganization of the army into frontier guards and mobile formations, the recruitment of large numbers of “barbarian” troops and settlement of “barbarian” populations within the bounds of the Empire…

  55. John Morales says

    In the news:

    A Sydney council has removed a “playful” artwork of Jesus Christ overlaid with Looney Tunes characters after a torrent of online abuse.

    Sydney artist Philjames’ work, Jesus Speaks to the Daughters of Jerusalem, was removed from the Blake Art Prize exhibition at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre after fierce criticism was directed at the artist and gallery on Friday, just two days before the eight-week exhibition ended.

    The biennial prize at the Liverpool city council gallery recognises contemporary artwork that explore spirituality and religion and draws artists from all beliefs and cultural backgrounds.

    But a last-minute online protest claimed the 2023 oil-on-lithograph work mocked the Christian religion, with some protesters threatening the museum and its staff – many of whom are volunteers – with violence.

    Chorus: And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
    yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

  56. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @76: The Blake Art Prize? I suspect Blake would have disapproved of the removal.

    I went to the Garden of Love,
    And saw what I never had seen:
    A Chapel was built in the midst,
    Where I used to play on the green.

    And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
    And ‘Thou shalt not’ writ over the door;
    So I turn’d to the Garden of Love,
    That so many sweet flowers bore.

    And I saw it was filled with graves,
    And tomb-stones where flowers should be:
    And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,
    And binding with briars, my joys & desires.

  57. anat says

    birgerjohansson @68:

    From the press release about said study:

    Physiological synchrony refers to the alignment of physiological responses between individuals. This can include parameters like heart rate, respiration, and skin conductance. When two people are physiologically in sync, their bodily functions align in a way that is measurable and often occurs naturally during interactions.

  58. says

    The ‘Bloodless Coup’ Has Started…with the Court

    How the Supreme Court pulled a Jedi mind trick to elect and protect Trump

    […] there are so many implications written between the lines that fundamentally alter the balance of power among the branches, not only making the President effectively a king, but making the Court’s conservative majority the kingmakers who rubber stamp or veto what kinds of actions get immunity (thereby ensuring that any potential dictator is symbiotically dependent on the Court to preserve his facade of legitimacy).

    […] What you might notice if you follow the lines above [illustration available at the link] carefully is that the question of motive — the reason that an action was taken — doesn’t even enter the equation until after the determination of whether the actions was official or unofficial has been made. Indeed, the Court explicitly states that “In dividing official from unofficial conduct, courts may not inquire into the President’s motives.”

    This is an astonishing statement, because it effectively means that it does not matter if a President uses the official levers of power with corrupt intent, for personal gain, or as retribution. In other words, the Court engages a sleight of hand where a critical distinction between lawful and unlawful conduct — the heart of criminal law, which rests on whether a person acted with a specific state of mind, or mens rea — ceases to exist when it comes to the President. Once this distinction is erased, the office of the presidency is basically a get out of jail free card, enabling the President to do pretty much anything that could plausibly be characterized as “official.” Take a look at this table: [table available at the link]

    […] The President Can Obstruct Justice
    […] so-called “process crimes” — crimes prohibiting obstruction, witness tampering, forging evidence, etc. — no longer apply to the President, provided he uses his own Justice Department or other executive branch officials to engage in them.

    […] In short, the Court implicitly reads the Take Care Clause as imposing no constraint on how the laws should be enforced, meaning that as long as the President uses his Attorney General or other “official” subordinates to obstruct justice or otherwise thwart the administration of justice, or commit any other crimes, he is untouchable.

    The Court Sees the “Real” Problem as Sham, Politically-Motivated Prosecutions…Except When They are Actual Sham, Politically-Motivated Prosecutions
    I’ve been hearing a refrain from the MAGA right that “the Court didn’t do anything new, it just stated how it has always been for the last 200 years.” I have seen this claim repeated on social media so many times that I can only conclude that Hannity or Breitbart has put it into circulation. In any event, it is, not surprisingly, untrue.

    […] the power to bring criminal cases is not only centralized in relatively few government prosecutors, but is limited by their ability to overcome evidentiary and procedural hurdles in charging and proving a case.

    Writing for the Court, however, Justice Roberts thinks these due process protections aren’t enough to protect a former president. Apparently, not providing immunity would suddenly open the floodgates of prosecution (though the Court does not explain why this has never been a problem before now). This fiction can only be maintained, however, if you think that the motive for an action is irrelevant to whether an action can properly be considered official or not official. If you think that the intent matters, most ordinary criminal laws don’t even reach what we would consider lawful presidential acts. For example, in her partial dissent Justice Amy Coney Barrett notes that statutes prohibiting “unlawful” killings would not include military or law enforcement actions taken to protect U.S. interests, like if the president ordered a hostage rescue mission and some people got killed. (This public authority exception is also why the oft-cited argument that without immunity Obama could be prosecuted for ordering a drone strike against Anwar al-Awlaki is so dumb, and incorrect.)

    In other words, absent evidence of a corrupt motive, prosecutors wouldn’t be incentivized to bring politically-motivated prosecutions because they simply wouldn’t be able to prove a case against a former president for executing his actual official duties, or even have probable cause to indict him. (Barrett notes that Presidents also get a benefit that most other defendants don’t enjoy, which is that they can challenge the constitutionality of a statute as applied to them before trial, allowing meritless charges to be thrown out from the get-go.)

    […] Because all official acts are completely shielded from any kind of investigation or review, a President can now use his Justice Department to bring false charges against former presidents for “unofficial” acts, and even fabricate evidence to do so. Indeed, the one act, and piece of evidence, which the Court explicitly took off the table in Jack Smith’s January 6 case was Trump’s orders to Acting Attorney General to Jeffrey Clark to send a letter to Georgia officials containing false allegations of voter fraud. That was an attempt at a sham investigation, based on fabricated allegations. That is now an official act, folks.

    […] In short, the Court conveniently places a bad faith former president out of the reach of a good faith sitting president […]

    we are on the brink of authoritarianism […]

    More at the link.

  59. says

    Followup to comment 79.

    Former Appeals Court Judge J. Michael Luttig:

    The Supreme Court cut the heart and soul out of America with this abominable decision… The defining maxim of America has been that no one is above the law. That can never be said about America again after this decision from the Supreme Court. Without any question whatsoever, the Supreme Court held that the President of the United States, and in particular, the former President of the United States Donald Trump, is above the law.

    Video at the link.

  60. says

    Vice President Harris:

    Sadly, the press has not been covering it as much as they should in proportion to the seriousness of what just happened. The Supreme Court essentially told this individual, who has been convicted of 34 felonies, that he will be immune from the activity he has told us he is prepared to engage in if he gets back into the White House. […]

    Video at the link. The video is 1:10 minutes long.

  61. says

    Just counting the repetitions must be wearying.

    According to Citizens for Ethic (CREW),

    Trump has spread election conspiracies about the 2020 election over 500 times on Truth Social.

    Congress should pass voting rights legislation, and act to protect election workers from threats, so these conspiracies don’t affect future elections.

  62. says

    In an interview with Robert Costa of CBS’ Face the Nation today, Costa asked Senator Sanders about the movements orchestrated in the Senate by conservative Democrat Senator Mark Warner to push POTUS aside in the wake of the debate performance brouhaha and whether he would participate. Senator Sanders replied:

    “No. Look, Mark is a friend of mine, I like Mark, is one of the more conservative members of the Democratic Caucus. No, I have not been invited. No, I will not attend…Biden had a terrible debate performance. I think he’s done better since..But I think most importantly, now, this is not a beauty contest, it’s not a Grammy Award contest. It is a contest of who stands with the vast majority of the people in this country, the elderly, the children, working class, the poor. And that candidate is obviously Joe Biden.”

    Earlier in the interview, Sanders also stated that Biden’s record with respect to being the “first president in American history to walk a picket line; to put more money into fighting climate change than any time in the history of this country and to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure makes him the clear choice for President.” He did however, advise POTUS to spell out in detail his agenda for the next term which will uplift the working class in his interactions with the public. He believes that if POTUS provides such a plan, he will not only win, but “win big.”

    […] Read the entire interview transcript here:…

    The Heritage Foundation is already planning to legally challenge ballot access for ANY replacement nominee.

  63. JM says

    RNC Abortion Platform approved
    No surprise that the platform was approved, this sort of thing is not brought to a vote until approval is pretty sure. The Trump campaign and the RNC are effectively one organization even more then usual for an election year. A couple of hard-line anti-abortion members were removed from the committee to insure it would vote strongly in approval.
    The final wording follows Trump’s hand it back to the states formulation. It favors anti-abortion positions and has nothing that would oppose a national ban. It does slip in words about birth control that some hard liners won’t like but that is a minor matter.
    This is essentially Trump washing his hands of the issue. Hand it back to the states and Trump can avoid saying anything about what he personally supports. He doesn’t want to be seen as pro or anti abortion because being pro-choice is much more popular nationally but will cost him right wing votes.
    As a whole the new Republican Platform is expected to be much smaller then the previous one and apparently Trump will have a hand in writing the new one.

  64. says

    Liberal democracy ain’t dead just yet, by Mark Sumner

    French voters defied the expectations of pollsters on Sunday as a progressive alliance soared to victory over right-wing nationalists in the country’s legislative elections. On Monday, President Emmanuel Macron, whose own centrist party came in second, refused the resignation of France’s prime minister. A new government is expected to emerge from a coalition of the progressive New Popular Front, which took the greatest number of seats, and Macron’s Ensemble alliance. Forming that coalition government may not go smoothly, but the nationalist National Rally was relegated to a third-place finish.

    Marine Le Pen, the de facto leader of National Rally, had promised to curtail French support of Ukraine, end birthright citizenship, block immigrants from accessing social services, and align France with Russia. But on Monday, National Rally leaders found themselves complaining that progressive parties had cheated as they faced another cycle in the political wilderness.

    The result follows a landslide victory for U.K.’s center-left Labour Party, which sent the Conservative Party packing after a 14-year hold on the British government. Labour leader Keir Starmer was sworn in as the new prime minister shortly thereafter, and the more progressive leadership promises to repair more than a decade of damage done to the national health care system, raise the minimum wage, provide free meals to schoolchildren, improve environmental protections and public transportation, and create a new, publicly owned energy company.

    In other words, despite the rising threat against democracy in many places around the world (and at home), liberal democracy isn’t dead just yet.

    There has been story after story suggesting that liberal democracy is on its last legs. That’s been particularly true over the last few years when authoritarian populists celebrated and supported by Russia have dominated reports on election cycles, both in America and Europe.

    Stories continue to herald the rise of a new authoritarian right in Europe, but the nationalist leaders who often dominate headlines share one thing in common: They usually lose. Nigel Farage, leader of the far-right Reform U.K. party, may have given a so-called “victory speech” following his country’s elections, but his party took just 14% of the vote. That’s more than Reform earned in previous elections, but the result earned them only five seats in the U.K.’s 650-seat House of Commons—five seats that are worth a lot less without a right-wing government in charge.

    Germany’s far-right Alternatives for Germany party may have increased its support in the last round of elections, but it still earned less than 16% of the vote in the European Parliament elections held on June 9. That’s slightly below what polls showed a week from the election, and far below what they showed a few months earlier.

    Outside of Europe, Mexico celebrated a substantial progressive victory last month, when Claudia Sheinbaum and her left-wing Morena party took the highest percentage of the vote in that nation’s democratic history. In India, parties on the left overperformed expectations, though they failed to displace a right-wing leader.

    The pundits ready to play taps for democracy in Europe need to take off their funeral suits because it doesn’t seem like liberal democracy is going anywhere this week. If anything, it’s the right-wing parties that have emerged from recent elections rattled by voters who moved to install more progressive leadership. It seems like nationalists may have had their big moment in 2016 with the unexpected victory of Donald Trump in the United States and the shocking vote for “Brexit” in the U.K.

    Since then, Brexit has been recognized as a mistake, with recent polling showing that most Britons want to rejoin the European Union’s single market, and now voters in the U.K. have kicked out the Tories, who were responsible for the Brexit vote. And in the U.S., voters held up their end in 2020.

    Now we just have to do it again.

    Marine Le Pen:

    Marine Le Pen: “The policies I represent are the policies that are represented by Trump and Putin.”

    Her party just lost in a major upset.
    Video at the link.

  65. says

    Oh For Fucks Sake.

    Latest GOP conspiracy theory: Biden’s doctor is part of the ‘crime family’

    The House Republicans’ most reliable conspiracy theorist is trying to make political hay out of President Joe Biden’s bad debate night and the ensuing media feeding frenzy and Democratic bed-wetting. Oversight Committee Chair James Comer is demanding an interview with Biden’s doctor, suggesting in his letter that White House physician Kevin O’Connor is part of the Biden “crime family” and is covering up Biden’s health.

    No, seriously. Comer writes that the committee is “concerned your medical assessments have been influenced by your private business endeavors with the Biden family,” and that “evidence obtained by the committee shows your [O’Connor’s] and James Biden’s involvement with Americore Health, LLC. James Biden, the President’s brother, used funds from Americore to pay Joe Biden $200,000 as the company was facing financial distress.” Americore Health operates a number of rural hospitals.

    He continues, writing that on the “same day James Biden received the $200,000 wire transfer from Americore into his bank account, James Biden wrote a check to his brother, Joe Biden, for $200,000 for a ‘loan repayment.’” Yes, the scare quotes are in the original.

    “Given your connections with the Biden family, the Committee also seeks to understand if you are in a position to provide accurate and independent reviews of the President’s fitness to serve,” Comer wrote.

    In February, O’Connor examined Biden, finding he is a “healthy, vigorous, 80-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency.” O’Connor wrote that Biden underwent “an extremely detailed neurologic exam” and that there were “no findings which would be consistent with any cerebellar or other central neurological disorder.” O’Connor has been Biden’s personal doctor since 2009.

    […] Yes, this latest from Comer is whack and ridiculous, but it’s also an entirely predictable GOP response to Democrats publicly shitting the bed over Biden’s health, and as Markos wrote, their “inability to keep their eye on the ball.”

    The longer Democrats feed the traditional media beast with their angst, the more you will see moves like this from the GOP.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    we’re going to see this kind of garbage from Republicans no matter what happens. I do not believe we should be tailoring or altering our race because of it.
    It’s especially rich, and exceedingly lame, for anyone associated with the Trump crime family to try to cast the Democratic president in a similar mold. The only theory of management that Trump has even a passing understanding of is “crime boss.”
    That report says Biden met with the neurologist in January and March so far this year, that doesn’t sound like a medical emergency. There are physical tests for dementia looking for proteins in the brain. A preliminary pencil and paper test is an indicator for random patients. I would guess that the medical staff has extensive data on the President health not available to ordinary US seniors.
    Pop quiz for Rep.Comer, someone you loves needs emergency medical care and your only choices are:

    a) President Biden’s White House physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor

    b) The Cheeto Jesus’ witch doctor/drug mule, Dr. Ronny Jackson (or is it Johnson)?

    Pick one or your loved one dies. Pick the wrong one and your loved one dies.
    Biden had a test in February of this year. A pretty extensive test, not like the little mock test that TFG went through for the MSM.

  66. says

    Followup to comment 87.

    […] Comer and his fellow Republicans looked into all this crap during their interminable investigations of the Biden family over the last year and a half. The “loans” from Americore were actually payments James Biden took in lieu of a 35 percent stake in the company that he had decided he did not want. The $200,000 he gave his brother was payback for another loan the president had given him. He denied in an interview with Oversight that he had made the “open doors” comment, and no one seems to have ever found any evidence to contradict him on any of this.

    It is not even clear from the transcript of James Biden’s interview with Oversight how Kevin O’Connor fits in with Biden’s involvement with Americore, other than he was Joe Biden’s personal physician while he was vice president and the company had something to do with medical services. It’s a bit like if Comer was investigating “The Daily Show” for something and wanted to question Wonkette because we also write politically themed humor.

    In short, this was yet another wild hair the Republicans had up their ass, they couldn’t prove anything illegal or unethical had gone on, and they were reduced to their usual impotent sputtering.

    The White House dismissed Comer’s letter to O’Connor as him indulging yet again in silly conspiracy theories. […].

  67. says

    Washington Post link

    2 dead as Beryl, now a tropical storm, batters Houston area

    Tropical Storm Beryl is pulling away from Houston after pounding the city and region with intense winds and rain. More than 2.7 million people are without power in Texas, according to At least two people have been killed in the storm, officials said. Beryl made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane about 4 a.m. Central time Monday near Matagorda and was downgraded to a tropical storm later Monday morning, the National Hurricane Center said. […]

    Houston airports are essentially nonoperational for most of Monday, as airlines have canceled hundreds of flights in and out of the city in the morning and afternoon, according to

    […] A tornado watch is in effect through 10 p.m. in the border region of Texas and Louisiana as well as parts of southwestern Arkansas. This area is north and east of the center of Tropical Storm Beryl, in a favorable zone for tornadoes to develop.

    Around 2:30 p.m. Central time, more than 10 tornado warnings were active in northeast Texas and western Louisiana, including two for “confirmed large and extremely dangerous” twisters. […]

    More at the link.

    Beryl hit in areas seeing some of the world’s fastest rates of sea level rise.

  68. says

    Ukraine’s top high-jumper breaks world record in lead-up to Paris 2024

    Yaroslava Mahuchikh, who left her hometown of Dnipro shortly after the war with Russia began, erased a mark that had stood for 37 years.

    […] The 22-year-old Mahuchikh and world indoor champion Nicola Olyaslagers both cleared 2.01 meters on their second attempt. After Olyslagers failed three times at 2.03, Mahuchikh cleared that height to secure victory.

    She then cleared 2.07 meters to set a Ukrainian record and had the bar raised to 2.10, which she cleared on her first try.

    […] Mahuchikh left her hometown of Dnipro shortly after the war with Russia began. Like virtually all elite athletes in her country, she has been training in foreign countries while keeping tabs on the war back home. She has been outspoken about the role Ukrainian sports can play to give signs of hope to those fighting for Ukraine’s survival.

    “We all are fighting for our people, for our soldiers,” she said last month after defending her European title. “We want to show every person in the world that we will continue fighting […] We should fight in every field to show that Ukraine is strongest.”

    World Athletics, which runs track on a global basis, has banned all Russian athletes from next month’s Olympic track meet, a decision Mahuchikh agrees with.

    Just last weekend, World Athletics president Sebastian Coe visited Kyiv and reiterated his support for the Ukrainian effort in the war.

    “Nothing I witnessed tells me that the decision we’ve taken is anything other than the right decision, but the right decision on behalf of our sport,” Coe said.

  69. says

    Heh. Unintended consequences: Trump’s denial generates a surge of reporting on diabolical Project 2025

    Donald Trump’s denial of Project 2025 has morphed into a classic example of the “Streisand Effect,” finally bringing threats of this dangerous, radical plan to public attention. By lying about his connection to the plan, Trump has generated a rise in reporting and public interest that is making Americans aware of a scheme to turn the federal government into a “fascist’s paradise.”

    Trump’s denial was spurred by the pushback generated when Kevin Roberts, leader of the Heritage Foundation, which developed Project 2025, threatened to kill the left if they failed to roll over to the authoritarian capture of the government. “We are in the process of the second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless if the left allows it to be,” Roberts said on the far-right news channel America’s Voice.

    President Joe Biden’s campaign responded to this threat with a statement that strongly attacked “Donald Trump’s revenge, resentment, and retribution.” Then Trump responded by claiming that he knew “nothing about Project 2025.”

    The fresh attention brought to Project 2025 through Trump’s loud denial has generated an increase in stories in the media and a surge of interest online: [Chart at the link]

    Trump’s denial has now entered the second round, as surrogates like Marco Rubio march forth to repeat his false claims. But even as Rubio tries to brush this off as “think tank stuff,” and Trump advisers try to disown their involvement, expanding the effort to place a facade between Trump and Trump’s aggressive plan for reshaping America in his image is likely to only continue to generate more coverage. A big part of that is his claims of ignorance are so ridiculous. [X post and list of Trump acolytes who are involved]

    Project 2025 contains so many horrors, that it seems like it should have been at the top of every newspaper every day. Reporters have sporadically mentioned aspects of the plan for months, including how it plans to purge the federal government, weaponize the DOJ, and threaten democracy. And let’s not forget cutting Social Security, eliminating Medicare, and putting immigrants in “camps.” But when compared to the incredible levels of attention given to other stories in this election, a scheme that contains so much potential destruction has gotten off incredibly lightly. [Biden-Harris X post showing list of main goals of Trump’s Project 2025]

    Even now, too many of the stories in the news still treat Project 2025 as if it’s nothing more than a distraction for Democrats rather than something that should concern every voter in the nation.

    To highlight only a few aspects of the plan, Project 2025 would reclassify 50,000 federal workers so they could be easily dismissed and replaced with a MAGA army of Trump loyalists. Those loyalists could then execute the plan and lock down America in a vision of right-wing Christian nationalism.

    “It is not enough for conservatives to win elections,” reads the introduction to the plan. “If we are going to rescue the country from the grip of the radical Left, we need both a governing agenda and the right people in place, ready to carry this agenda out on day one of the next conservative administration.”

    It demands that the FDA reverse its approval of abortion drugs or support for military members seeking abortion. It takes the right-wing war on diversity to a new level, requiring that regulations delete any terms for gender, gender equality, or reproductive rights and makes a case for ending enforcement of hate crime legislation by saying that Americans shouldn’t be deprived of “their First Amendment rights.”

    Both the authors and supporters of the plan call it a “handbook for dismantling the administrative state,” devolving the nation into a collection of states under one ultra-powerful executive.

    The list contained in the image above doesn’t even come close to containing everything that it features in the 900-page plan, such as a scheme to end public broadcasting and turn Voice of America into a propaganda outlet for the National Security Council.

    It’s taken too long for the media to start talking about Project 2025 in a way that’s garnering serious public attention. […]

  70. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    What Trump doesn’t want you to know about Project 2025

    of the 38 people responsible for writing and editing Project 2025, 31 were appointed or nominated to positions in the Trump administration and transition. […] Trump’s claim that he has “nothing to do” with the people behind Project 2025 is clearly false.
    Prior to the 2016 election, the Heritage Foundation created a similar project called “Mandate for Leadership.” […] “334 unique policy recommendations.” One year into Trump’s term, […] “64 percent of the policy prescriptions were included in Trump’s budget, implemented through regulatory guidance, or under consideration for action in accordance with The Heritage Foundation’s original proposals.”

    Seventy Heritage Foundation employees had already joined the administration, and other Heritage officials “briefed administration officials on the recommendations […]”
    In October 2017, Trump was the keynote speaker at a Heritage Foundation event […] He credited the organization with helping him confirm Justice Neil Gorsuch and “ending the war on beautiful coal.” Trump said that he needed “the help of the Heritage Foundation” to advance other priorities, including large tax cuts. He concluded by expressing his “gratitude” to “the dedicated scholars and staff at the Heritage Foundation.”

  71. John Morales says

    In the news:

    Kristi Noem, the Republican governor of South Dakota who has been dogged by controversy since recounting how she chose to shoot dead a puppy and a goat, attracted new questions when it was noted that some of her official social media accounts appeared to have been deleted.

    On Monday, a link from Noem’s official website led to an error message on Facebook, which said: “This content isn’t available right now. When this happens, it’s usually because the owner only shared it with a small group of people, changed who can see it or it’s been deleted.”

    On Twitter/X, the governor’s site linked to Noem’s personal page. The official @GovKristiNoem page displayed the message “This account doesn’t exist”.

    A new X account, @GovNoemOffice, created this month, had 309 followers, far fewer than the roughly half-million of Noem’s old account.

    The new official account featured links to press releases.


    Noem’s spokesperson, Ian Fury, told news outlets the new X page was the source for official updates but did not say what happened to the old account or why it was deleted.

  72. says

    U.S. troops formally withdrew from a major air base in Niger on Monday, the first of two bases to be evacuated by American forces after Niamey fell to a military coup in 2023 and Nigerien officials ordered Washington to leave.

    American forces left Air Base 101, near the capital of Niamey, after a ceremony formalizing the departure of the troops, according to U.S. Africa Command (Africom).

    […] The U.S. will leave Air Base 201 in the city of Agadez in September.

    U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Kenneth Ekman, Africom’s director of strategy, engagement and programs, said he was grateful for the orderly and safe withdrawal of American troops.

    A military junta took control of Niger in July 2023, part of a series of Sahel countries falling to coups in recent years. Niamey has since grown closer to Russia.

    The transition process to leave Air Base 101 began on May 19 when the U.S. and Niger signed a document stipulating the terms of withdrawal.

    […] “United States Africa Command will maintain our focus on building partner capacity and strengthening relationships and trust,” he said. “We are committed to listening to West African militaries to best support their partner-led, U.S. enabled operations to counter violent extremism and improve security and stability.”


  73. birgerjohansson says

    Niger is north of Nigeria.
    Imagine a pyramid getting wider at the bottom. Likewise, the name of Nigeria (“underneath” Niger) is longer than Niger.
    Lynna, OM @ 94

  74. birgerjohansson says

    Anton Petrov:
    “Geological Solution to the Fermi Paradox: Plate Tectonics and Alien Life”
    Yeah. There may be plenty of primitive life, but getting beyond that probably requires plate tectonics.

    I say it over and over again: “being the only known sapient life means we have a special duty to survive, and preserve the biosphere”

  75. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Reminder of Heritage Foundation’s thinking regarding contraception.

    Heritage Foundation – LinkedIn / Twitter (2023-05-27)

    Conservatives have to lead the way in restoring sex to its true purpose, & ending recreational sex & senseless use of birth control pills.

    [Embedded video of Mary Harrington]:
    [Claimed birth control causes bipolar-like personality changes to drug women into accepting degrading sex.]

    It seems to me that a good place to start would be a feminist movement against the pill, and for rewilding sex, returning the danger to sex, returning the intimacy and really the consequentiality to sex.

    And a great deal follows from an intentional reconnection of women’s opting intentionally to reconnect with the fullness of our embodied nature.

    Vox translates…

    built atop one fundamental premise: There are unalterable differences between the sexes, and mainstream feminism has ignored them at women’s expense. This idea is at the core of Harrington’s indictment of casual sex. In her telling, the Pill may have reduced women’s susceptibility to pregnancy, but it did not erase the psychological predispositions that males and females inherited from millennia of evolution.
    women prefer a committed relationship to casual hookups. But the existence of oral contraception and legal abortion—combined with feminism’s insistence on male and female interchangeability—has left them without an excuse for withholding sex until commitment is offered. […] they extrapolate that predatory high-status men are each stringing along several women at a time, exploiting them for degrading and unfulfilling sex […] before assembling new harems.
    She posits that people have gravitated toward BDSM as a way of compensating for the drab safety of protected sex, writing that eliminating the risk of pregnancy “takes much of the dark, dangerous and profoundly intimate joy out of sex” […] She provides approximately zero evidence for this theory. […] it seems doubtful to me that the majority turn to BDSM in an attempt to recapture the lost “thrill” of worrying mid-coitus that a condom just broke.

  76. John Morales says

    It’s Anton Petrov, of course it’s just clickbait. Goes without saying, really.

    I say it over and over again: “being the only known sapient life means we have a special duty to survive, and preserve the biosphere”

    Why? I certainly don’t feel that duty.

    Heck, I made sure to never have children, as I wanted neither the responsibility or the resource expenditure they would necessitate.

    (Yes, I know, the concept is that life entails being biological, which is basically geocentrism, but that’s just a definition. But that’s begging the question)

  77. John Morales says

    This has been so obvious for so long.

    DC to DC charging. One more step to off grid living!

    Living off grid is a dream for many. But if you want to combine that lifestyle with an electric vehicle, then charging that vehicle up at home is going to be a headache. At least it was…until now. A US start-up has just started taking orders for a DC to DC ‘Solar to Vehicle’ battery charger, and one of the worlds largest solar PV brands, Solar Edge, is hot on their heels with their own competitive product. One more step on your off-grid odyssey?

    The focus is in off-grid, but I have for a very long time been amused that so many devices we use are DC-powered though household power supplies are AC.
    So all those devices need the AC power to be converted to DC with all the attendant losses and limitations involved.

    (“Power adapters”)

  78. JM says

    I have seen several commentators online mocking the idea that Trump doesn’t know about Project 2025. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t. Yes he has pulled a lot of people recommended by the Heritage Foundation, but he isn’t the sort to care what they do as long as they say “Yes Mr President” when Trump asks them to do something. He isn’t the sort to get into long term or large scale planning.
    He never got anywhere on building a wall along the south because he couldn’t get organized enough or manage the government well enough. He is the sort of manager that calls in from the golf course most of the time and never shows up for strategic planning sessions. His contribution to company planning is “Make it so” and “Why isn’t it done yet?”.
    When Project 2025 came up somebody told Trump it was long term planning and he wandered off to harass a secretary.

  79. John Morales says

    JM, in my estimation, it’s just a convenient thing to have around.

    He doesn’t give a shit about any specific agenda, any specific policy, any particular tactic, any given strategy.

    He just wants to be The Man.

    (No more, but no less, either)

  80. whheydt says

    Re: JM @ #104…
    I seriously doubt that he doesn’t know it exists. He probably knows some of what’s in it. He probably doesn’t know much of the details. His complete denial is very much in the same vein as “I never met her” and “she’s not my type”. In other words…a damned lie. If he weren’t ignorant of so much on so many topics, I would assert that he uses log-log paper…but he wouldn’t understand that.

  81. John Morales says

    Quick update on Russia’s quick and easy special operation:

    How is the war going? — July 2024

    An overview of the frontlines in Ukraine and what to expect in the coming months.

    0:00 Intro
    0:39 Kharkiv sector
    3:22 Donbas frontline
    5:57 The southtern front
    6:37 Kharkiv diversion?
    7:47 Strategic bombing
    8:31 The big picture
    9:35 Point of culmination
    10:04 The coming months

  82. birgerjohansson says

    John Morales @ 102

    A psychozooicum is the beginning of sapience, but there is no need to assume it cannot make the leap to silica and metal over geologic time scales (assuming HAL9000 would be around at 2001 was way too optimistic).

    But for that to happen, the squiggly carbon thingies (that’s us) need to avoid self-extinction. Despite narcissistic buggers like Bojo and Trump (and the oligarchs that finance them).

  83. John Morales says

    Birger @108, no worries.

    We are mostly in accord.


    blockquote>But for that to happen, the squiggly carbon thingies (that’s us) need to avoid self-extinction.</

    Here’s the nub. The Omphalos.

    What about after that has happened?

    (And yes, I too think the Culture represents the best aspirational outcome in the long run)

    Hey, have you read Blindsight?

    (Thesis: sapience is not just over-rated, but an impediment to living)

  84. KG says


    Of course the media CEOs are lying shitbags, but anyone not convinced of the extent of Biden’s decline should compare his performance in the interview with Stephanopoulos (which was supposed to show that the debate was just a “bad night”) with recordings from the 2020 contest. You can do so here. The contrast is stark and shocking.

  85. John Morales says

    KG, FWIW, I recently saw both Jon Stewart and Stephen colbert (in YouTube over the last few hours) and they are both rather scathing and, well, agree with your stance.

    (Which is not insignificant, if not as great as the power that print media retains in the UK)

  86. birgerjohansson says

    John Morales @ 110
    Yes, I have read Blindsight. Scary. The sequel is scarier.
    The Culture is a much better future.
    Neal Asher has written a series of books about The Polity, not quite as anarchistic as the Culture. Earth Central dominates their federation.
    The Prador aliens (with biological constraints that pre-adapt them to being vicious) are the nastiest beleivable aliens I have read about.

  87. says

    The more Donald Trump demands credit for Joe Biden’s successful policy on insulin costs, the more bonkers the Republican’s rhetoric appears.

    It’s not a secret that Donald Trump spends a great deal of time watching television, which means he occasionally sees Democratic campaign ads — many of which note President Joe Biden’s accomplishments. If I had to guess, I’d say the former president saw just such an ad yesterday afternoon, leading to this item by way of his social media platform:

    “I got the price of Insulin for seniors brought WAY DOWN, not Biden. He just inherited this, and many other things, and then always tries to take credit for it. He’s done nothing but destroy our Country!!!”

    If the message sounded at all familiar, it’s not your imagination. About a month ago, the presumptive Republican nominee published this item, insisting, “Low INSULIN PRICING was gotten for millions of Americans by me.” He added that the Democratic incumbent “had NOTHING to do with it.”

    Soon after, during the first presidential debate of the 2024 cycle, Biden briefly referenced his success in making insulin more affordable. Trump was outraged. “I’m the one that got the insulin down for the seniors,” the former president claimed. “I took care of the seniors.”

    The day after the debate, Trump held a rally in Virginia and repeated the lie. “I was the one that got you the inexpensive [insulin], not him,” the Republican said, adding, “I did the insulin!” [video at the link]

    Even by Trump standards, this is pretty weird. Indeed, the truth is unambiguous, whether the former president understands it or not.

    In reality, it’s true that Trump said he would address insulin costs while in office, but he didn’t. The issue then fell to Biden, who signed the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act — which included the policy on insulin costs. As a result, American consumers are benefiting from a policy that caps the cost of insulin at $35.

    Complicating matters, Trump isn’t just claiming credit for one of Biden’s accomplishments, he’s also planning to undo the Inflation Reduction Act, which would necessarily mean the end of the price caps that the Republican is falsely attributing to himself.

    It doesn’t help that the former president might not know what insulin is. At an event four years ago, for example, the then-Republican president said, “I don’t use insulin. Should I be? Huh? I never thought about it. But I know a lot of people are very badly affected, right? Unbelievable.”

    To this day, I still don’t know what point he was trying to communicate. Nevertheless, the issue has returned to the fore in an unexpected way, and Trump’s rhetoric is plainly bonkers.

  88. says

    The new Republican platform is special, but not in a good way

    The fact that the Republican National Committee has written a platform suggests the party has finally cleared a low bar. It was, after all, just four years ago when the RNC — for the first time since 1856 — skipped the platform-writing process altogether and instead declared that it simply wanted whatever Donald Trump said he wanted.

    With this in mind, the fact that Republicans actually bothered to write down their principles, priorities, values and goals certainly looks like progress — at least until one actually reads the document the party produced. USA Today’s Rex Huppke made the case that the Republicans’ new platform reads as if it were generated “by an authoritarian-leaning AI that was fed a Trump rally transcript.”

    On Monday, the Republican National Committee’s platform committee adopted the strangest document ever created and declared it the party’s new official platform. It was less a serious expression of a party’s values and plans for governing and more a reminder that Republicans think actual policy proposals are for woke ninnies and American voters should just shut up and let billionaires control things.

    What, specifically, makes the Republican platform so extraordinary? Let us count the ways.

    The preamble: Before the blueprint begins in earnest, there’s a preamble, spanning nearly three pages, which appears to have been written by Trump himself. It’s filled with vapid, all-caps, bumper-sticker-style declarations, featuring a combination of vague goals and proposals that President Joe Biden has already delivered.

    The contents: Some of the reporting about the new RNC blueprint has suggested that it was made deliberately more “moderate” than some far-right partisans preferred. Don’t believe it. As American Bridge’s Brandon Weathersby summarized in a statement, “The Republican National Committee platform is one of the most extreme party platforms ever in the history of modern presidential elections.” From immigration to education, taxes to law enforcement, there should be no doubt that this assessment is correct.

    The omissions: Hoping to avoid campaign-season attacks, the Republican platform no longer calls for federal prohibitions against abortion and same-sex marriage, but as the editorial board of The Washington Post summarized, “The former president wants the 2024 GOP platform to be anodyne, but don’t be fooled. He has an extreme agenda.”

    The language: It was hard not to notice that the new Republican platform condemns “Christian-hating Communists,” which is a phrase with a deeply ugly history.

    The length: The party’s platform in 2016 was nearly 60 pages. There were some reports indicating that this total, at Trump’s insistence, would be cut in half. Those reports understated matters: The actual text of the 2024 platform spans roughly 10 pages — reinforcing the fact that the contemporary Republican Party just isn’t serious about governing and policymaking.

    The process: While Republicans have spent decades crafting the party’s platform in public, this year, the process was moved behind closed doors. Even more incredibly, Politico published this report on the way in which the platform was approved: “Representatives from Trump’s campaign walked around the room with a ‘vote yes’ sign as voice votes were being held. … One RNC member who was present inquired about why staff of the Trump campaign and RNC were taking photographs of delegates as they voted.”

    For now, the document is still a draft platform: As NBC News reported, the blueprint “still must get approval from the full Republican National Committee.” Watch this space.

  89. says

    Good news, as reported by The New York Times:

    The Kansas Supreme Court reaffirmed abortion protections in the state’s Constitution on Friday, striking down Republican-backed laws that banned a common second-trimester abortion procedure and created additional licensing requirements for abortion clinics.

  90. says

    Senator Mike Lee is spreading he lies, (as reported by the Salt Lake Tribune):

    On Friday evening, Utah Sen. Mike Lee used his personal X/Twitter account to amplify a baseless claim that President Joe Biden was having a “medical emergency” on Air Force One. It’s unclear if Lee tried to verify the falsehood before sharing it with his 224,000 followers.

  91. says

    There’s ignorant, and then there’s Marjorie Taylor Greene:

    Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene spent the Fourth of July weekend getting barbecued after boldly declaring that several people who did not sign the Declaration of Independence were signers of America’s most well-known document. […]


    A note added to MTG’s post by moderators:

    James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, James Monroe, Aaron Burr, Paul Revere, and George Washington were not signers of the Declaration of Independence.

    Additional commentary:

    It’s unclear where Greene got this information, what prompted her to post it, or why, days after making it, she hasn’t taken it down or corrected it. One user mused that were Greene to have to take a citizenship test, as all immigrants to the United States seeking citizenship must do, she would likely fail, while others wondered how a sitting member of Congress could be so brazenly ill informed about U.S. history. […]

    Why do we have people making laws who couldn’t pass a fifth grade history class? […]

    I know this is crazy, but hear me out—maybe we shouldn’t elect morons to Congress. […]

    Other users skewered Greene by building on her list of signers detached from reality, adding names like Karl Marx, Gandalf, Kermit the Frog, and Beethoven. […]

    Only two of the people Greene named actually signed the Declaration of Independence: Thomas Jefferson, who wrote it, and John Hancock, who was the first to sign it. Here’s the full list of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and here’s an explainer about the differences between the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution.

    From the explainer:

    […] the Declaration, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are different kinds of documents with different purposes. The Declaration was designed to justify breaking away from a government; the Constitution and Bill of Rights were designed to establish a government. The Declaration stands on its own—it has never been amended—while the Constitution has been amended 27 times. (The first ten amendments are called the Bill of Rights.) The Declaration and Bill of Rights set limitations on government; the Constitution was designed both to create an energetic government and also to constrain it. […]

  92. birgerjohansson says

    Lynna OM @ 118

    Ever since the Tea Party I have known the Republicans are ‘special’.
    FFS Candance Owens is flirting with flat-Earth belief.

  93. says

    Josh Marshall:

    Yesterday evening I saw the first thing that made me think Joe Biden will weather this storm and remain the Democrats’ candidate for President. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appeared outside the Capitol stating clearly and categorically that Biden’s in the race and she supports him. Period. Interestingly she referred to having spoken to him “extensively” over the weekend. By my subjective impression, she didn’t say this, as I’ve seen some Democrats say things over the last week, in a way that struck me as a holding pattern remark. AOC obviously carries a lot of weight in the progressive wing of the party. But beyond that she has exceptionally good political instincts, both as to the general election as well as the mood within the congressional party. When I saw the video of her comments it was the first card I’d seen on the table in ten days which made me think this whole drama would go in President’s direction.

    Then after seeing this I saw something that happened earlier in the day but which I hadn’t seen yet. (I spent much of the afternoon working on something else.) The Congressional Black Caucus came out squarely in favor of the President. This fits a historical pattern. The CBC remained steadfast for Bill Clinton in his most beleaguered days. But it also lines up with what I’d heard anecdotally about reactions to the last week among many African-American voters.

    This thing has spun in so many directions I’m not inclined to make any predictions. But these developments strike me as very big deals.

  94. says

    Americans can look past sexual assault. Just don’t hurt dogs

    Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is a conspiracy-spouting, fact-hating jackass whose work spreading lies about vaccines directly led to the death of children. However, he’s still politically astute enough that when Vanity Fair ran a story on July 2 claiming that he had eaten a dog, Kennedy rushed to deny it.

    Kennedy may have denied chowing down on a canine, but he did not deny the other part of the Vanity Fair story—the part alleging that he sexually assaulted a former nanny. In fact, Kennedy seemed both to confirm the story and find it all amusing.

    “I’m not a church boy,” Kennedy told the host of the “Breaking Points” podcast, adding that he had “many skeletons in my closet.”

    News stories about Kennedy over the past few days have focused on his standing in the polls and his engagement with 9/11 conspiracies. And, of course, there were several more stories about Kennedy denying that he ate that dog. What seems to be avoiding any scrutiny is that other sordid allegation revealed by Vanity Fair.

    Because America, or at least the American media, seems to care more about dead dogs than it does the live women who are victims of sexual assault.

    [snipped details of South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem shooting a dog]

    But when it comes to the other half of that RFK Jr. story, here’s the entire exchange from that “Breaking Points” interview:

    Host: Vanity Fair came out with a major profile today. I want to give you a chance to respond to this. There’s a photo circulating, I believe with you posing with what looks like a dog and also—a barbecued dog. I’m not going to show the picture. I’m a dog lover and I know you have pets yourself. And also a sexual assault allegation from one of your former nannies. So I want to give you a chance to respond to that.

    Kennedy: The article is a lot of garbage. The picture of me they said is of me eating a dog is actually me eating a goat in Patagonia on a white water trip many years ago on the Futaleufú River. They have an expert that has identified that as a dog carcass. It’s just not true. You know, in terms of the other allegations, listen, I said this from the beginning. I am not a church boy. I am not running like that. I said it in my— I had a very, very rambunctious youth. I said in my announcement speech that I have so many skeletons in my closet, that if they could all vote I could run for king of the world. So, Vanity Fair is recycling 30-year-old stories and I’m not going to comment on the details of any of them, but, you know, I am who I am.

    This isn’t a denial. This is the opposite of a denial. This is a dismissal of sexual assault as just something very rambunctious. As a byproduct of youth. As “boys will be boys.”

    The story about the nanny is in fact from 1998, so Kennedy’s claim about the story’s age is only off by about four years. But when it comes to his age, Kennedy was 44 years old at the time. Is there anyone who genuinely believes that a 44-year-old married man represents “rambunctious youth”?

    [snipped details of Trump having being an adjudicated sexual abuser]

    One dead dog may keep anyone from running for high office. But it seems that any number of live women who are victims of sexual assault can be overlooked, or minimized as youthful hijinks of the type men talk about in locker rooms.

    As much as we all love dogs, something about that just seems wrong.

  95. says

    birger @123, yep, quite special.

    In other news: The White House faces questions about Biden’s health. Here are some answers, by Associated Press

    President Joe Biden’s terrible performance at the June 27 presidential debate has raised concerns about his age, health and ability to lead the federal government.

    Administration officials have blamed his confused and at times indecipherable answers at the debate with Republican Donald Trump on a head cold, exhaustion and poor preparation at Camp David. But at 81, Biden has found his health to be a key issue for many voters going into November’s election. Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Biden’s physician, issued his first comment since the debate late Monday, after White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre struggled to address questions about the president’s health at Monday’s news briefing. [I saw the briefing. I thought Karine Jean-Pierre answered the questions well.]


    Biden has extensive yearly physical exams, Jean-Pierre said. She added that most Americans don’t understand the extent of the medical care provided to the president, as many people are lucky if they get to see their doctors once or twice a year. By contrast, the president’s medical unit is “just steps down from the residence” at the White House. “A couple times a week,” Biden does a “verbal check-in with his doctor while he’s exercising,” Jean-Pierre said, adding that he had a check-in on Monday.

    There has been confusion as to whether Biden saw his doctor about his cold after the presidential debate on June 27. The White House initially said there was no medical exam, but it later said there was a “short verbal check-in” and it was determined that no exam was needed.


    “He has seen a neurologist three times,” said Jean-Pierre. “Not more than that.”

    The White House spokesperson repeated the phrase “three times” in 17 instances during the Monday briefing. She stressed that all three meetings with a neurologist were tied to the president’s annual physical exams. But Jean-Pierre declined to say where Biden had seen the neurologist — whether the visits were at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center or elsewhere. “I don’t have anything to state as to location,” she said.


    Not according to the report of the president’s most recent physical, issued in February. Jean-Pierre cited that document Monday in response to reporters’ questions.

    That letter said “an extremely detailed neurologic exam was again reassuring” in that there were no findings consistent with a stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s or ascending lateral sclerosis. The letter added that no tremors or “motor weakness” were detected. Written by Biden’s physician, O’Connor, the letter added that Biden “demonstrates excellent fine motor dexterity.”


    Visitor logs show that Dr. Kevin Cannard, a neurologist who has conducted research into Parkinson’s, went to the White House eight times between July 2023 and this past March.

    Jean-Pierre declined to confirm the name of the doctor or say why he was going to the White House. She told reporters this was due to security reasons and noted that the White House medical unit treats more people than just the president. “There are thousands of military personnel who come on to this White House,” Jean-Pierre said. “Many of them get the care from the White House medical unit and so we need to be super careful.”

    Jean-Pierre encouraged the public to “connect the dots.”

    Later Monday, O’Connor released a letter with the permission of both Biden and Cannard and confirmed that Cannard had been the neurologist who evaluated the president at each of his three physicals since he took office.

    But most of Cannard’s visits to the White House were pursuant to his role as a specialist attached to the White House Medical Unit, treating patients there for a wide array of neurological issues over a dozen years, O’Connor said.

    Cannard made similar trips to the White House during the Obama administration, according to visitor logs, and during the Trump administration — which did not publish visitor logs — according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Cannard did have one visit with Biden’s personal physician this January in the White House Residence clinic, weeks before the president’s physical in February. O’Connor repeated that the findings of that physical that didn’t detect signs of any neurological disorder.

    “President Biden has not seen a neurologist outside of his annual physical,” O’Connor said in his letter.


    At Monday’s news briefing, Jean-Pierre was asked whether Biden could choose to release his full medical records. She said the president had “shared a comprehensive medical report that is pretty detailed” and in line with what was provided by former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Sen. John McCain, in 2008, allowed reporters to review more than 1,100 pages of his medical records when he was running for president at 71, which would have made him the oldest elected president at the time.

  96. says

    Followup to comment 124


    “Joe Biden is our nominee. He is not leaving this race. He is in this race, and I support him.” She added: “What is critically important right now is that we focus on what it takes to win in November, because he is running against Donald Trump, who is a man with 34 felony convictions.”

  97. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    A warning about Peter Watts’ book Blindsight—not its philosophizing but rather some grating tropes employed.

    a book with neither an autistic author nor autistic characters […] despite the aforementioned lack, this is a book that keeps coming up every so often in discussions of autism in SFF. […] I want to talk about why that is, and what an autistic reader might get out of this book
    The character […] most often described as autistic—or as an unintentional autistic stereotype—is the narrator […] he has difficulty with empathy or with relating to why people behave in the way that they do […] analyzing these emotions by rote.
    for someone who supposedly knows so much about how NTs interact, he shows a really remarkable inability to understand that people in romantic relationships might desire tenderness […] beyond the most reductive possible variety of evo-psych bullshit. […] (Spoiler: it’s a Peter Watts book: EVERYONE is maladjusted.) So I may be protesting too much on that point.
    You don’t get autism in real life by taking a regular person and removing […] the bits that handle social/emotional processing, and get an autistic person […] Despite certain corporate logos, we are not NTs with a piece missing.
    Wikipedia—somewhat inexplicably to me—describes not Siri, but the book’s vampires as autistic. […] struck me as being something more like superintelligent predatory animals
    according to many sources […] Siri is not meant to be an autistic character—he is meant to be a philosophical zombie. […] I’m pretty sure that stating you can become a p-zombie because of having a hemispherectomy is even more offensive to people who have had this procedure than it is for autistic people.

  98. says

    Power outages in SE Texas leave 2 million without air conditioning; Houston submerged by Beryl.

    More than 2.4 million customers were without power Monday night after historic record-breaking Hurricane Beryl landed in heavily populated SE Texas. Residents struggled with moist, soupy heat and a lack of air conditioning overnight.

    Today, even hotter heat arrives and is expected to last until Thursday. The danger for the populace may result in the deaths of many residents before power is restored, which could take a couple of weeks. Few to no cooling centers are available. Houston and other lowland cities are still submerged by flood waters.

    CNN —

    […] Beryl slammed into southern Texas as a Category 1 hurricane Monday, knocking out power to more than 2.5 million homes and leaving at least 8 people dead in Texas and Louisiana.

    The storm – now a tropical depression – unleashed flooding rains and winds that transformed roads into rushing rivers, ripped through power lines and tossed trees onto homes, roads and cars. As it hurtles toward the Midwest Tuesday, it threatens to trigger more flooding and tornadoes along its path.

    As difficult recovery and cleanup efforts are underway in southeast Texas, including the Houston area, extreme heat will bear down on the region Tuesday and Wednesday, creating hazardous conditions for those working outdoors or without adequate cooling.

    A heat advisory is in place Tuesday for southeast Texas, where heat indices – a measure of how the body feels under both heat and humidity – could hit 105 degrees and high temperatures in the 90s are forecast across the region.

    […] Where is Ted Cruz? No one knows precisely, but he is believed to be at an ill-timed vacation resort in California. [Photo of Ted Cruz on a whale watching boat in California. Photo of Abbott in South Korea] Governor Abbot is reportedly in South Korea.

    […] Cruz’s Senate seat is in danger.

    From Newsweek:

    Ted Cruz may not have as big a lead as he would have been hoping for in the race for his Texas Senate seat, according to a poll. [good news]

    A Manhattan Institute survey of 600 likely voters in Texas found that Cruz has a 3 point lead (46 percent to 43 percent) over his Democratic rival, rep. Colin Allred. This margin is down from a double-digit lead the incumbent Republican has enjoyed in previous Texas senate surveys.

    When broken down further, the Manhattan Institute poll found that Allred has an 11-point lead over Cruz among female voters (49 percent to 38 percent) as well as an eight-point lead over the potentially crucial independent voters (43 percent to 35 percent).

    The polling group also suggests that Cruz may find himself in a “tight race” partially because of Allred’s favorability. The Democrat holds a net favorability rating of plus 12 points, compared to minus nine for the GOP Senator. [more good news]


  99. says

    Is Joe Biden Too Old To Stop Methane Leaks? Washington Post Demands Answers!

    Why yes, this $850 million grant program to fight emissions is another part of the Inflation Reduction Act.

    […] the Biden administration has rolled out a joint grant program from the EPA and the Energy Department to reduce methane leaks from the oil and gas sector. The grant program is part of $1.5 billion that Congress authorized in the Inflation Reduction Act for measuring and mitigating emissions of methane, a “super pollutant” that’s among the nastiest, most potent greenhouse gases out there.

    Of course methane is also the main ingredient in “natural” gas, which has overtaken coal as the most common fuel used in generating electricity. Burning fossil gas releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, causing global warming; about the best that can be said for gas is that its carbon emissions are far lower than those from coal, but they’re plenty bad enough. And in its raw form, methane itself is a much more potent greenhouse gas by volume than CO2, about 84 to 86 times more harmful over 20 years, and 28 to 34 times worse over a century.

    CO2 is still considered Climate Enemy Number One because there’s simply so damn much of it produced by fossil fuels, which is why we need to transition to renewable, carbon-free energy as quickly as possible. But because methane is so much more powerful — it’s estimated that it’s responsible for about a third of planet-warming emissions today — we’ll also get the greatest short-term reductions in warming by eliminating every source of methane emissions we can. Go ahead and say “most bang for the buck,” but don’t have any open flames around methane gas, please.

    That’s why taking on methane has been a top priority in the Biden/Harris administration’s climate plan, which has also included fines against industry for methane leaks, the EPA’s new, tighter limits on methane emissions, and the creation of a global methane pledge to get international cooperation on cutting methane. (Hey, China, still need you to get on board with that!)

    The new grant program, announced in late June, will attack methane emissions from three main directions, each with its own tranche of grant funding, according to Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk.

    E&E News summarizes thusly:

    The first category will offer three [classes of] awards for projects focused on reducing emissions from existing oil wells and infrastructure, while the second will include up to 26 awards for addressing leaks in equipment prone to methane leaks — including engines and compressors.

    The third category will go toward projects to enhance methane leak monitoring in communities near oil and gas facilities, especially those that are lower-income areas or communities of color, and will fund partnerships aimed at tracking methane emissions in specific oil and gas basins.

    Well, there goes that Joe Biden again with the “Climate Justice” thing that’s been central to the administration’s climate policy from right off the bat. As with other parts of the Biden/Harris climate plan’s Justice40 Initiative, grant applicants will need to show that 40 percent of the benefits go to disadvantaged communities. The application process will open up in August.

    As the Environmental Defense Fund explains, that first category of emissions reduction grants is aimed primarily at shutting down methane leaks from wells owned by fairly small operators, who might otherwise be unable to afford eliminating the leaks. Another part of that first tranche would go to stopping leaks on wells on Tribal lands.

    Prioritizing marginal wells is crucial because despite producing only about 6% of the nation’s oil and gas, they’re responsible for approximately half of wellsite methane emissions. Inspecting these smaller producing wells on a regular basis is a key requirement in the nationwide oil and gas methane regulations finalized by EPA in December and this funding is specifically designed to assist states, tribes and the oil and gas industry in cutting emissions and complying with those rules.

    The second category of grants is aimed at cleaning up the equipment and infrastructure in the industry, basically seed money for new methane emissions solutions that can be adopted and deployed widely.

    And the third set of grants will increase monitoring of methane emissions, especially in frontline communities, because if you don’t measure where the pollution is, you can’t know what needs cleaning up. There too, the emphasis will be not only on monitoring specific sites, but also on developing tech and data collection methods that can be deployed not just in the US, but also by other nations.

    Exciting, heady stuff, we know, but that’s part of how tackling climate change works: getting into the machinery of the oil and gas industry and reducing emissions wherever possible, while we’re also pursuing a wider energy transition to get off the fossil fuel teat altogether.

    Not that everyone is on board yet. As E&E News notes:

    In December, EPA announced a new rule that requires oil and gas operators to monitor for methane leaks and update their equipment to ensure it is less prone to leaks. It also bans oil and gas companies from burning off — or flaring — excess gas at oil wells in most instances, among other things.

    Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) filed a lawsuit challenging the rule earlier this year, alleging that it exceeds EPA’s authority.

    [Ken Paxton on the wrong side again!]

    And now that the Supreme Court has tossed out “Chevron deference” by deciding that federal agencies can’t actually regulate anything that Congress didn’t specify they can regulate, it remains to be seen whether Paxton’s seemingly laughable suit will get anywhere. [JFC]

    Lots of good data in that article.

  100. says

    New York Times Says Orkin Man Visited White House, IS JOE BIDEN INFESTED WITH WASPS?

    Whatever legitimate concerns exist with Joe Biden and his age and fitness for office, there are those who are asking serious questions, and there are shit-stirring hacks, chaos agents and losers on the internet, and at the New York Times, which arguably started it all with their endlessly ridiculous stories on “Biden is old.” (As of July 5, they had published 192 stories on Hillary Clinton’s Biden’s emails debate performance. As of today, they have published a higher number than that.)

    Did this start because the Times takes its journalism seriously, or is it because the Times is [a media outlet] that’s been mad for months that Biden wouldn’t do an interview with them, which ultimately set the ball rolling to this point? Wellllll.

    Anyway, Parkinson’s! Does Joe Biden have it? Because you see, this Parkinson’s doctor went to the White House a humber of times, the New York Times is just saying. Does Joe Biden have Parkinson’s?

    Also, the Orkin man went to the White House a bunch of times, does Joe Biden have wasps?

    Also the HVAC man went to the White House a bunch of times, is Joe Biden low on Freon?

    Also a sexy pizza delivery man went to the White House a bunch of times, is Joe Biden embarking on a secret life of porns?

    The story is, um, not much of one. A Parkinson’s expert from Walter Reed, a neurologist named Dr. Kevin Cannard, went to the White House eight times in the past year or so. Once, he met with Joe Biden’s doctor.

    “It was unclear whether Dr. Cannard was at the White House to consult specifically about the president or was there for unrelated meetings,” said the newspaper in paragraph three […]

    Not only did Dr. Cannard go to the White House a bunch while Biden was president, he went there a bunch while Obama was president, and he might have gone a bunch when Trump was president, but “Mr. Trump rescinded Mr. Obama’s voluntary White House visitors disclosure policy, so records are not available for his four years in office.”

    Unfortunately, Dr. Cannard did not respond to the New York Times’s hounding about the nature of his visits in time for publication, so they just went with whatever they had.

    Of course, the “no there there” nature of the story didn’t stop members of the White House press corps yesterday from showing their asses during the press briefing, because Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, for privacy reasons, wouldn’t disclose the exact reasons for each and every one of Cannard’s visits. CBS’s Ed O’Keefe was easily the most obnoxious, sitting next to Fox News’s Peter Doocy, who appeared for once to be sitting back and letting somebody else be the trifling asshole. [video at the link]

    Jean-Pierre told the reporters the president has seen a neurologist three times during his presidency, every time he has a physical. She told them they have policy against confirming names and details of specialists who come to the White House. At one point she stopped the briefing because they were being so rude, especially Ed O’Keefe. [!!!] [video at the link]

    Jean-Pierre said, in part:

    “We understand that freedom of the press, we respect the freedom of the press. You heard me talk about this last week. We — I appreciate the back and forth that we all have. It is, I try to respect you and I hope you try to respect me,” Jean-Pierre said, referring back to a tense exchange she had with CBS News’s Ed O’Keefe.

    “And we literally do everything that we can,” Jean-Pierre said. “My team does everything that we can to make sure we get the answers to you. That’s what we do. And sometimes we disagree. Sometimes we are not in agreement. But you know what? That’s democracy. That is what is important to have that healthy back and forth. And so to say that I’m holding information or allude to anything else is really, really unfair. I think people who are watching and have been watching this briefing for this past week could say that we are doing our best in this briefing to provide the information that we have, and I will admit, I will be the first one to admit, sometimes I get it wrong. At least I admit that. At least I admit that. And sometimes I don’t have the information. And I will always, always admit that. But I do take offense to what was just happening at the beginning of this briefing. It’s not okay. Go ahead.”

    The New York Times has now updated its story to reflect that last night at 9:40 p.m., Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the White House physician, broke protocol — with Biden’s and Cannard’s blessing — to release a statement saying that Dr. Cannard has seen Joe Biden three times, during his normal physicals, but — and here’s where NYT gets conspiratorial again — “did not directly say whether any of his other visits were related to consulting on the president’s health.” They continued:

    Instead, Dr. O’Connor implied that most of Dr. Cannard’s visits were related to treating other people who work at the White House. “Prior to the pandemic, and following its end, he has held regular neurology clinics at the White House Medical Clinic in support of the thousands of active-duty members assigned in support of White House operations,” Dr. O’Connor wrote.

    Oh. (During at least one of them, Joe Biden wasn’t at the White House at all. He was in Lake Tahoe, at Tom Steyer’s house. Somebody could have checked the dates and cross-referenced them, you’d think.)

    The Times explains that according to the results of Biden’s most recent physical, there are no signs of Parkinson’s, stroke or other neurological issues. The Times also explains many more words, because serious journalists write long articles, with lots of details.

    As of this printing of Wonkette, the Parkinson’s story is nowhere to be found on the front page of the New York Times.

    We’d say it’s maybe because it’s not polite to jerk off in the front yard right where everyone can see, but that’s never stopped the Times before.

  101. says

    Nation’s Beloved Health Insurance Companies Might Be Scamming Medicare? That Can’t Be Right!
    And therefore scamming us.

    There are few institutions more adored in the United States of America than private health insurance companies. People love the choices they provide, which definitely exist, even if I have no idea what they are and no one can explain them to me.

    And yet, these companies keep doing practically everything they can to deplete the seemingly bottomless trough of trust that Americans have in them.

    For instance! On Monday, the Wall Street Journal — the truism about their reporting being excellent while their op-ed board runs amok may still hold! — ran an exposé about the tendency of these companies to claim Medicare Advantage customers suffer from a variety of ailments for which they never receive any treatment, so Medicare will give them more money.

    The way it works is that these companies offer to send a doctor to the home of someone subscribed to Medicare Advantage (a program in which private insurers contract with Medicare to provide health insurance to seniors and the disabled), and then the doctor puts it in their file that they have certain health issues. In most cases, the patient and their actual doctor were entirely aware of this.

    Medicare pays these companies a base rate of $3735 per person they cover, but this number increases with each additional diagnosis. For instance, a diagnosis of diabetic cataracts will net an additional $2,863, while seizures will bring in $2,806. From 2018 to 2021, the article alleges, these companies bilked Medicare out of $50 billion this way.

    Via Wall Street Journal:

    The Journal reviewed the Medicare data under a research agreement with the federal government. The data doesn’t include patients’ names, but covers details of doctor visits, hospital stays, prescriptions and other care. The Journal identified the patients named in this article through their doctors.

    Some diagnoses claimed by insurers were demonstrably false, the Journal found, because the conditions already had been cured. More than 66,000 Medicare Advantage patients were diagnosed with diabetic cataracts even though they already had gotten cataract surgery, which replaces the damaged lens of an eye with a plastic insert.

    “It’s anatomically impossible,” said Dr. Hogan Knox, an eye specialist at University of Alabama at Birmingham. “Once a lens is removed, the cataract never comes back.”

    Whoops! You’d think that would be something that their very thorough doctors would pick up on, but apparently not. Oddly enough, 36,000 of those the insurers said were suffering from diabetic cataracts were not being treated for diabetes, either. Is that dangerous? It seems dangerous!

    This has also happened with HIV.

    About 18,000 Medicare Advantage recipients had insurer-driven diagnoses of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, but weren’t receiving treatment for the virus from doctors, between 2018 and 2021, the data showed. Each HIV diagnosis generates about $3,000 a year in added payments to insurers.

    Everyone with HIV should be on antiretroviral drugs, the only effective treatment, and nearly all Medicare patients whose doctors diagnosed the virus took the drugs. Less than 17% of patients with insurer-driven HIV diagnoses were on them, the Journal found.

    Sure, it’s possible that these people just had bad judgment and thought, “You know, I’m just gonna see how this goes — who needs retrovirals?” … but it’s not likely.

    Naturally, insurers like UnitedHealth and Humana denied that any of this is happening. They say that their doctors are simply more thorough than regular doctors and catch health problems even before they become an issue. This also does not seem very likely.

    If it is true, however, these companies are stealing from us, and not just in the usual way where they take our money and then pay people to figure out how to keep us from getting anything in return for it. When they diagnose people with health conditions they don’t have in order to get more money from the US government, they are stealing our tax money that we could hypothetically use to actually help people […]

    Andrew Witty, the CEO of UnitedHealth, makes $23 million a year. As understandable as it is that he may not feel this is enough for him to live on, that does not justify stealing from hard-working Americans (in a slightly different way than he usually does).

    There are contractors whose job it is to audit these payments and get our money back if it is determined that these companies scammed us — so hopefully they can get some of it back if that is the case. And perhaps someday, somehow we can figure out a way to provide our citizens with healthcare in a less stupid way.

  102. says

    2024 election live updates: More Democrats voice public support for Biden

    Despite some divisions within the party, House Democrats have remained largely supportive of the president after his debate performance last month.

    What’s happening on the campaign trail

    President Joe Biden continues to push back on calls for him to drop out of the presidential race, criticizing “party elites” and calling Democratic anxiety a distraction.

    House Democrats have remained largely supportive of Biden despite party divisions on his re-election.

    The possibility that former President Donald Trump could be re-elected — and the prospect of a decrease in Ukraine aid as a means to pressure Kyiv into a peace deal with Russia — is casting a shadow over the NATO summit in Washington.

    […] After today’s House Democrats meeting, several sources painted a picture to NBC News of a caucus concerned about its nominee, but still publicly on his side— even as some expressed resignation about that.

    […] Another told NBC News that the “overwhelming consensus” was that Biden would stay in the race and the party should unify to support him. “Those with concerns should voice them privately,” this person advised.

    Certainly, that’s what top Democrat Hakeem Jeffries was trying to ensure: that colleagues, including him, had a chance to listen and take stock of where fellow lawmakers are at on this. […]

    Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., told reporters outside the House Democrats’ caucus meeting at the DNC that he is in support of the Biden campaign again.

    “Whether I have concerns or not is beside the point,” he said. “He’s going to be our nominee, and we all have to support him.”

    This comes days after Nadler and three other congressional Democrats told their colleagues on a phone call that Biden should step aside, according to multiple sources familiar.

    […] National Security Council spokesman John Kirby again pushed back this morning against the notion that Biden doesn’t allow information to be shared with him late at night.

    Kirby said during an interview on CNN that being president is a “24-hour job, seven days a week” and from his experience working with Biden, “It doesn’t matter what the hour on the clock says.”

    “He knows the world doesn’t take a breather after a certain time of day,” Kirby said.

    […] Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., emerged from the closed-door House Democratic Caucus meeting signaling that he and his colleagues are largely backing Biden for president.

    “We’re ridin’ with Biden,” Clyburn said repeatedly in response to reporters’ questions. Clyburn was largely credited with turning around Biden’s 2020 primary campaign on his way to winning the party’s nomination.

    Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., another member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the “squad” of more progressive House members, told reporters after the meeting that she doesn’t want to be distracted by a 90-minute debate, and said Democrats should focus on the Project 2025 proposal, an initiative by the conservative Heritage Foundation to create a policy framework for a Republican administration.

    […] Rep. Juan Vargas, D-Calif., a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, criticized the handful of colleagues who have called on Biden to drop out of the presidential race.

    “It’s a circular firing squad,” Vargas said to reporters after leaving the closed-door House Democratic Caucus meeting. “It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.”

    Vargas said he has always supported Biden as the nominee and hasn’t changed his position since the president’s debate.

    […] On the heels of reaffirming his commitment to staying in the presidential race, Biden is scheduled to deliver remarks at the NATO summit in Washington to commemorate the alliance’s 75th anniversary.

    Trump is back on the campaign trail today with a scheduled rally at his golf course near Miami. […]

  103. says

    […] as a report by The New York Times reminded readers overnight, “Mr. Trump once declared NATO ‘obsolete,’ threatened to exit the alliance and more recently said he would let the Russians do ‘whatever the hell they want’ to any member country he deemed to be insufficiently contributing to the alliance.”

    A Politico report added that U.S. allies in NATO want President Joe Biden to win another term […]

    But as concerned as NATO members are about the future of American leadership, unease in Kyiv is at a whole other level. The Times reported over the weekend:

    Ukraine, which depends on American military aid for its survival, has long tried to maintain bipartisan support in the United States. That has never been easy, but it is getting harder, especially with the increased possibility that Donald J. Trump, no great friend of Ukraine, will return to the White House.

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke to Bloomberg News last week, for example, and was rather candid about his fears.

    “If there are risks to Ukrainian independence, if we lose statehood — we want to be ready for this, we want to know,” the Ukrainian leader said. “We want to understand whether in November we will have the powerful support of the U.S. or will be all alone.”

    “If Trump knows how to finish this war, he should tell us today,” Zelenskyy added.

    That said, it’d be an overstatement to suggest every prominent foreign official is fearful about Trump’s possible second term. The Times’ report added that Russia’s Vladimir Putin recently delivered public remarks and “seemed to relish the prospect of Mr. Trump’s return.”

    Imagine that.


  104. says

    Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called President Biden “extremely effective” amid growing calls for him to step aside after a poor showing in his first presidential debate against former President Trump.

    Rep. Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) asked Yellen during a House committee hearing if she had “noticed any mental or cognitive decline” in any of her meetings with Biden.

    “The president is extremely effective in the meetings I’ve been in with him. That includes many international meetings that are multi-hour like his meetings with President Xi [Jinping of China],” Yellen said Tuesday during an annual hearing with the House Financial Services Committee on the international financial system.

    The Treasury secretary declined to answer Lawler’s question about the last time she met with the president.

    “I’m not going to comment on my meetings with the president. Those are private,” Yellen said.

    Yellen also offered a single “no” when Lawler asked if there had been any discussion among Biden’s cabinet about invoking the 25th Amendment, which would allow a majority of the Cabinet to transfer powers from the president to the vice president if they believe they are unable to perform their duty. […]


  105. John Morales says

    CompulsoryAccount7746, whoever wrote that about ‘Blindsight’ entirely missed the point, and focuses on a silly aspect due to their own misapprehension.
    All the characters are basically superheroes and cyborged, none are baseline.

    The POV character (the ‘autist’) is a child who had radical brain surgery (a hemispherectomy ) as a child and is now a ‘synthesist’ who can ‘read’ people by their ‘surfaces’. The autism, in short, is story-telling autism, not a reflection of the real thing, but a functional effect resulting from having half his biological brain missing.

    In short, if anyone reads that book and imagines it’s a realistic depiction of autism as it exists today, which is a rather wide spectrum, they’re doing it wrong. Very wrong.

    Might as well complain that the vampirism in that book is not quite like real vampirism!

    (Have you yourself read the book?)

  106. John Morales says


    Erratum: “had radical brain surgery as a child”, not “is a child who had radical brain surgery”.

  107. John Morales says

    In the news:

    Joe Biden has announced that Nato countries will provide Ukraine with five new strategic air defense systems as leaders began a summit in Washington where the alliance was expected to declare Ukraine’s path toward Nato to be “irreversible”.

    The promise of weapons deliveries, including anti-air defenses sought after by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, came just a day after a deadly missile strike against a pediatric cancer hospital and other civilian targets in Ukraine that Biden called a “horrific reminder of Russia’s brutality”.

    “All told, Ukraine will receive hundreds of additional interceptors over the next year, helping protect Ukrainian cities against Russian missiles and Ukrainian troops facing their attacks on the front lines,” said Biden.

    The headline speech was a critical step to convincing foreign leaders that Biden, 81, remains up to the task of leading the 32-member military alliance. It was also a key test in saving his presidential campaign following a disastrous debate against Donald Trump that led many in his own party to question his mental acuity.


    In remarks to the Guardian, Ruslan Stefanchuk, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, said that the strike on the Okhmatdyt children’s hospital should be a “turning point” in the war and lead to great supplies of anti-air weapons to Ukraine.

    “I believe that what happened today must be a turning point to change everyone’s attitude to what is happening in Ukraine, and I believe that without the F-16 fighter jets, without the new air defence systems, without the ammunition for those systems, we won’t be able to cover the skies to defend Ukraine,” he said.

  108. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @John Morales #138:

    the characters are basically superheroes and cyborged

    I’d gleaned as much from synopses. Even from those and fan chatter, I caught hints of said tropes. (Yes, I saw some fans sought autism diagnoses based on resonance with the character or self-identified. Wikipedia currently says “vampires operate with diminished sentience presented as comparable to high-functional autism with comparable dysfunction in affect and speech”)

    As I said, the point of the warning was of tropes. You could claim it’s not a book meant to promote philosophy, just cyborgs and aliens. But it functions as a vehicle for such musing. Likewise, the author hewed close enough to harmful stereotypes to be problematic when he designed his superheroes and repeated them to his audience. The reviewer went into more detail.

    if anyone reads that book and imagines it’s a realistic depiction of autism as it exists today, which is a rather wide spectrum, they’re doing it wrong. Very wrong.

    From the article: “If the first thing that you think of, when trying to imagine how a p-zombie would live, is autism because of what these people say about autism… Then that’s a problem.” The reviewer was writing about that problem, not the storyline.

    “some of Siri’s descriptions of how [rote processing] works seem to have been lifted straight from real-life autistic people’s descriptions”

    Have you yourself read the book

    I added it to my todo list and consider giving it a shot. Was already familiar with the philosophical themes it drives at. Not keen on ‘awful people reacting to eacher’ dramas either. Or evopsych.

  109. gijoel says

    It’s a day that ends in y, and another force-birther is caught raping children.

    An Alabama Department of Education employee who once headed up an anti-abortion committee in the state was arrested Wednesday on charges of sexual abuse of a child under age 12.

    Marty Decole “Cole” Wagner, who was employed by ALSDE in government relations until his arrest on Wednesday, was indicted by a Montgomery grand jury on June 30, according to court records, for subjecting a child under 12 to “sexual contact.” A source familiar with the specifics of Wagner’s arrest told APR that the alleged victim in the case is under 10.

    What a good, christian gentleman.

    A source familiar with the specifics of Wagner’s arrest told APR that the alleged victim in the case is under 10.

    I’m not sure if I want to throw up or fly into a blind rage.

    “The allegations against Mr. Wagner are serious, tragic and shocking,” a statement from ALSDE said Thursday.

    Two out of three ain’t bad.

    APR reported in 2018 that Wagner had been tapped to head up the anti-abortion committee Alliance for a Pro-Life Alabama, which was formed primarily to push a constitutional amendment saying there was no right to an abortion in Alabama. The amendment, which ultimately passed, had no effect on actual abortion laws…
    …“The Alliance for a Pro-Life Alabama is tasked with educating voters about the constitutional amendment and providing them with accurate and truthful information while, at the same time, refuting falsehoods and misinformation that may be disseminated by pro-abortion forces within the state,” Wagner said at the time.

  110. John Morales says

    Appreciate the response, CA7746.

    As I said, the point of the warning was of tropes.

    Maybe. Seemed more to me that the author imagined it was supposed to be a depiction of actual autism and therefore fit the tropes into which autism fits, since it’s not depicted as regular autism normally presents. Or something like that.

    The article began thus: “Today’s Book: “Blindsight” by Peter Watts”.
    and ended thus: “The Verdict: Not Recommended”

    (Emphases in the original)

    Likewise, the author hewed close enough to harmful stereotypes to be problematic when he designed his superheroes and repeated them to his audience. The reviewer went into more detail.

    Um, I read the article. It’s rather short, and — again! — it misses the point.

    Whatever ‘tropes’ the author imagines are more from their prejudiced perception than in the work itself.

    The crew of the ship is the very best of the best, the cream of the cream.
    All superbly gifted.

    Seriously. It is not a book about autism, it’s a book about how useful consciousness is.

    From the article: “If the first thing that you think of, when trying to imagine how a p-zombie would live, is autism because of what these people say about autism… Then that’s a problem.” The reviewer was writing about that problem, not the storyline.

    Yeah, but here’s the thing:
    That’s the article writer’s personal opinion, not what is actually in the book.

    Here’s a different take:

    I was surprised, upon listening to a two part interview with Peter Watts, to find him tentatively supporting Chalmer’s positions on qualia and the hard problem. Part of the reason is that Watts is a(n ex-) scientist with a background in biology and neuroscience, and also both very intelligent and spectacularly good at not avoiding unpleasant trains of thought. The other reason I was surprised is that I read Blindsight, and interpreted it as an amazingly good takedown of the Chalmers philosophical zombie idea along the same lines as Dennett’s.

    (See what I mean?)

    Was already familiar with the philosophical themes it drives at.

    Really. Even though you haven’t yet read the book.

    Fair enough.
    That for sure is self-confidence, but.

  111. John Morales says

    PS re:”Even from those and fan chatter, I caught hints of said tropes.”

    More specifically,

    The protagonist, a “Synthesist” sent as part of the crew aboard the Theseus in response to an alien transmission codenamed Burns-Caulfield. As a child he suffered from epilepsy, which his parents chose to treat through a procedure which cut out half of his brain. Though his condition was cured, the operation left him with a radically altered mind, lacking normal emotion but capable of expertly interpreting the subconscious thoughts of others. Now, he works as a translator of sorts who uses his abilities to understand the post-human thinking of minds even more advanced than his own and communicates this information to baseline humans.

    (It’s not autism!)

  112. John Morales says

    Well, one more. Thread is endless, after all…

    I just about snickered when I read this:

    I have a few additional points to make before we wrap up this review. First, I focused on Siri in this review because most of the fan discussions I’ve seen center around Siri as a supposedly autistic character. That’s not the only way to discuss autism in the context of “Blindsight”. In fact, the Wikipedia–somewhat inexplicably to me–describes not Siri, but the book’s vampires as autistic. (Yes, there are vampires. In space. Long story.) This is so baffling to me that I’m not sure what to say about it, except that the vampires really do not strike me that way, and apart from their lack of desire for social contact, I’m not even sure why anybody would read them that way. To me the vampires (and, please note, I liked the vampires) struck me as being something more like superintelligent predatory animals in human form.

    Truly clueless, even having read the book, is what I think.

    The actual reference: (I so very much wish I could embed!)

  113. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @John Morales #144:

    Seemed more to me that the author imagined it was supposed to be a depiction of actual autism […] not depicted as regular autism normally presents. […] I read the article. […] Seriously. It is not a book about autism […] and ended thus: “The Verdict: Not Recommended”

    From the article:

    despite the aforementioned lack [of autistic characters], this is a book that keeps coming up every so often in discussions of autism in SFF. It shows up on lists of books with autistic characters, it gets recommended to autistic friends, etc. Not super often, but not just once, and not in just one way. So I want to talk about why that is […] and why I disagree
    understand why so many people read Siri as autistic. […] there is enough rough correspondence that it feels very plausible Watts might have been influenced […] by previous acquaintance with autistic stereotypes—even if it wasn’t his conscious intent. […] I adamantly believe that Siri Keeton is not autistic
    My biggest problem with the reading of Siri as autistic [*snip*] It’s exactly this qualitative different-ness that is missing from Siri.* It’s also exactly this qualitative different-ness that people ignore when they spin the worst forms of propaganda about autism.

    * Because it’s not real autism. It is not a book about autism. However, it was written close enough to ambient propaganda that audiences have been reading that prejudiced caricature into it and think it is autism. Which would be wrong. And people sick of such propaganda, such as those targeted, may find the similarity irritating. Hence the negative recommendation for the book.

  114. John Morales says

    Yes, yes, CA7746. Exactly!

    It’s an opinion, and not a well-founded one at that, about the work itself.

    That video, BTW, is super-excellent.


    It was a Flash promo for the book like, um, around a couple of years in advance.

    It perfectly explains the backstory to the vampire featured in the story itself.

    It’s a perfect representation of the dry, amoral style of a scientist working for Big Pharma (check out the logos on the lower right!) who documents their progress.

    Yes, vampires are autistic people, but it turns out autism is the result (this is hard SF, BTW) of the restoration of functionality of what was thought to be ‘junk’ DNA, and in the process they unearth vampirism. Turns out that it’s only a tiny facet of the vampire genome manifesting in otherwise regular people.

    (Akin to the Neanderthals)

    The science is magnificent.

    The conceit is he took the elements of the vampire myth and made it scientifically-explainable.
    Biology, ecology, physiology, behaviour, sociology, psychology of vampires are all covered.
    All the mythic attributes are covered, as well, not just the scientific ones.
    Crosses, more than covered. But garlic deprecated.


    By the way, that video is in itself a short story, not just a backstory.

    It’s positively Jonathan Swift-level quality when it comes to Big Pharma.

    It excoriates the lack of scruples in that industry, and the way they insidiously do their regulatory capture.
    It features Texas (a great place where there is a huge convict population, a number of them in death row, and also access to controls since Texas is so, um, generous in its jail hospitality and not so fussed about pesky human rights stuff).

    Gotta see it to get the gist, of course. But I assure you, it’s excellent.
    And one can tell he is a fully-trained and practiced neuroscientist.

    Main spoiler: What we perceive as ‘autism syndrome’ is actually the manifestation of a dormant geneplex and in its full flowering makes us look worse than second-rate.

    (this is of course only approximate, but might be something that the person to whose opinion you so defer might understand; whether you do, well, I cannot say)

    Anyway, point being, anyone who writes this is indicating they just don’t get it:
    “This is so baffling to me that I’m not sure what to say about it, except that the vampires really do not strike me that way, and apart from their lack of desire for social contact, I’m not even sure why anybody would read them that way.”

    (PW is Canadian, BTW. Had an incident on the USA border, was not good. Googleable, if you care to know some more context)

    However, it was written close enough to ambient propaganda that audiences have been reading that prejudiced caricature into it and think it is autism. Which would be wrong.

    To the undiscerning (such as the opinionator you quoted), sure.

    And, again: it is autism, just not for the POV character.

    (Humans are but prey, and predators are smarter than their prey)

  115. John Morales says

    One more.

    Re: “audiences have been reading that prejudiced caricature into it and think it is autism”

    Now, don’t call me cynical or anything (heh), but it seems to me someone considering reading the book and having read that particular opinion and without my sort of other input or context will either be primed to read it in that manner, or to not bother reading at all.

    Bit of a disservice to a most excellent work, I reckon.

    And, remember: Science Fiction, right.

    (Anyway, good luck — surely you are not thus primed, CA7746)

  116. John Morales says

    HP Lovecraft: We are insignificant motes in the cosmic vastness. Mankind is as nothing.
    Peter Watts: It’s worse than that; we are also burdened by consciousness, and weak as fuck.

  117. John Morales says

    In the news:

    Keir Starmer has denied that his decision to bring in a retirement age of 80 for the House of Lords means he believes Joe Biden should stand down as US president.

    Ahead of his first bilateral talks with Biden at the White House, the UK prime minister said the “primary driver” for bringing in a retirement age for peers was the size of the second chamber.

    “The simple fact is that our House of Lords is massive. It is the second biggest political chamber in the world. I think it’s only the Chinese who have a bigger political chamber than our House of Lords. We have to reduce it.

    “That is the primary driver of the retirement at 80. You can see why that needs to be done. We’ve got 800-plus members of the Lords, it’s simply too big. We need to reduce it.

    “So it doesn’t reflect on how other elected representatives are chosen in other countries, it’s to do with the size of the House of Lords.”

  118. John Morales says

    In Russia:

    Russia has issued an arrest warrant for Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Alexei Navalny and a leading dissident living in exile, imposing a two-month detention order on grounds that she participated in an “extremist” group.

    The warrant was issued in absentia by a Moscow court on Tuesday, five months after Navalny died in a Russian Arctic penal colony. Navalnaya held the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, responsible for her husband’s death.

    In Russia, the label “extremist” is routinely applied to dissident or independent civic groups by courts, which typically carry out the wishes of the Kremlin in political cases.

  119. StevoR says

    The graphs are shouting warmings on Global Overheating :

    Plus :

    Also as discussed here :

    Sixty per cent of the world’s population experienced extreme heat reaching CSI levels of at least 3, indicating that climate change made these temperatures at least three times more likely to occur.(Supplied: Climate Central)

    Source :

  120. birgerjohansson says

    Russia and other dictatorships have “rubber” crimes that can be applied to absolutely everything.
    Russia: “extremism”, “hooliganism”, China “separatism”. Muslim countries:”causing unrest in the realm”.

    “Ghost Ship of the Baltic Sea: Inside Sweden’s Ultimate Stealth Corvette”
    (The presentation is by a US channel, but is blissfully free of verbal narration, a component that is often so over the top that it ruins the experience)
    I would rather serve on this than on one of those unsinkable Russian vessels.

  121. says

    At the recent presidential debate, Donald Trump lied uncontrollably about Jan. 6. At his latest campaign rally, Trump made matters worse.

    At the presidential debate two weeks ago, Donald Trump lied uncontrollably about a great many things, but the Republican’s rhetoric about the Jan. 6 attack stood out for its detachment from reality. The former president claimed, for example, that there were a “small” number of rioters, which wasn’t true. He said the insurrectionists attacking the U.S. Capitol in his name were “ushered in” by police, which also wasn’t true.

    The presumptive GOP also said he offered 10,000 National Guard troops to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which wasn’t true, before claiming that Pelosi said, “I take full responsibility for January 6,” which is something the California Democrat never said.

    In case that weren’t quite enough, at the same event, Trump said some of the imprisoned rioters are “so innocent,” which (a) isn’t true; and (b) is contradicted by the fact that many of the convicts pleaded guilty during their prosecutions.

    A New York Times report noted soon after that for many of the former president’s critics, Trump’s “embrace of Jan. 6 and his refusal to agree to unqualified acceptance of a democratic election” were worse than President Joe Biden’s unnerving performance on the same stage.

    […] Two weeks later, Trump is still at it — as we were reminded overnight at the former president’s rally in Miami. Reading from his teleprompter, the GOP candidate told his followers:

    “[W]hen people who love our country protest on January 6 in Washington, they become hostages unfairly imprisoned for long periods of time. But fortunately, the Supreme Court has just ruled, and they should be out soon.”


    If you watch the clip, note that the creepy music was played at the campaign event; it was not added afterward to make the remarks sound more ridiculous.

    […] while the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that will affect some Jan. 6 cases, the idea that convicted rioters and insurrectionists “should be out soon” is just plainly wrong.

    Nevertheless, Trump has referenced the ruling to call for the release of all Jan. 6 criminals and suspects.

    In other words, when it comes to Jan. 6, the former president still has no idea what he’s talking about. [Trump is bonkers. Trump is stuck in rut where he keeps proving that he doesn’t understand a fucking thing.]

    Stepping back, Trump hasn’t exactly been subtle in recent months with his focus on Jan. 6 rioters, offering them praise, support and vows of future pardons. A recent Associated Press report noted that the former president has positioned “the violent siege and its failed attempt to overturn the 2020 election as a cornerstone of his bid to return to the White House.” This coincided with a related Semafor report on the degree to which the Republican has put Jan. 6 rioters “at the heart of his campaign.”

    That report was published in March. It’s worse now.

    Surely, at some point this misrepresentation of January 6, and Trump’s focus on it, will backfire.

  122. says

    KG @157: “That a remarkably Trumpy thing to say.”

    Yep. That’s what I thought when I heard it. That’s a big mistake to word it that way, a mistake to even try to frame it that way.

  123. says

    After mandating Christian Bibles in public schools, Oklahoma’s Ryan Walters assembled a right-wing team to overhaul the state’s social studies standards.

    Over the last couple of years, Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters has cultivated a reputation as a right-wing Christian nationalist — even some Republicans have expressed discomfort with his radicalism — prompting discussion among Democratic legislators about possible impeachment proceedings.

    Walters has generally responded to criticisms with right-wing and legally dubious tactics, as evidenced by his declaration last month that Oklahoma educators keep Christian Bibles in every classroom and incorporate his preferred holy text into public school curricula.

    Walters soon after said that public school teachers who resist his demands for Bible lessons could lose their teaching licenses.

    That was a striking offensive in the larger culture war, but it was not the last skirmish. The Daily Beast reported this week on the latest antics from Oklahoma’s top education official.

    Superintendent Ryan Walters plans to overhaul Oklahoma’s social studies curriculum with the help of a committee that includes a laundry list of right-wing think tank veterans and influencers — including Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts, whose work on the presidential policy proposal document Project 2025 has gone viral in recent days.

    At face value, it might not seem especially notable that a state is reviewing its social studies curriculum. Plenty of states do this as a matter of course.

    But what makes Walters’ move in Oklahoma so notable is his choice of partners: The Oklahoma superintendent of public instruction isn’t turning to scholars, academics, historians, and qualified educators; he’s turning to likeminded ideologues. His committee includes:
    – Kevin Roberts, president of the Heritage Foundation, a far-right think tank responsible for the radical Project 2025 agenda;
    – Prager U’s Dennis Prager, who has openly admitted that he hopes to “indoctrinate” American children with a right-wing worldview;
    – Steve Deace, a far-right media personality;
    – and David Barton, a far-right activist often described as a “pseudo-historian.”

    [JFC. The worst of the worst.]

    In a statement to The Washington Examiner, Walters said, “Our goal is to give Oklahoma students an education that focuses on history, not indoctrination.”

    If the Oklahoma Republican expects people to take such an assertion seriously, he’s likely to be disappointed.

  124. says

    Sen. Josh Hawley not only falsely claimed that the U.S. is a “Christian nation,” he went on to endorse a right-wing concept called “Christian nationalism.”

    On the Fourth of July last year, Sen. Josh Hawley stumbled into a mess of his own making. The Missouri Republican — who majored in history at Stanford before getting a law degree from Yale — honored Independence Day by publishing a tweet that quoted Patrick Henry claiming that the United States was “founded … on the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

    Henry, however, never said any such thing: Hawley was actually quoting a report from a white nationalist publication that ran in 1956 — more than a century and a half after the Founding Father’s death.

    [Yep. Hawley is either blatantly lying or really ignorant (ignorant despite his studies in history at Stanford). Either way, he is depending on his audience of MAGA cult followers to be ignorant.]

    […] the far-right GOP senator make a similar mistake almost exactly a year later. HuffPost reported:

    Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is under fire after a speech Monday night in which he advocated “Christian nationalism” for the good of the nation. The Missouri Republican was speaking at the National Conservatism Conference in Washington, D.C., when he attempted to put a positive spin on “Christian nationalism,” a far-right ideology that promotes the belief that America was founded as a Christian nation and that policy should be decided using a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible.

    The Republican lawmaker wasn’t exactly subtle in his messaging.

    “Some will say I’m calling America a Christian nation. And so I am,” Hawley said at the conference’s gala dinner. “Some will say I’m advocating Christian nationalism. And so I do.” [video at the link]

    […] Hawley made two related but distinct mistakes.

    The first is the idea that the United States is a “Christian nation.” This is, to be sure, a popular idea within the GOP’s theocratic wing, but it’s also offensive, ahistorical nonsense.

    The United States is based on a secular Constitution, which in turn created a secular government. Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1802 that our First Amendment built “a wall of separation between church and state.” In 1797, John Adams agreed: “The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.”

    Americans unsure what to believe have a straightforward choice: They can listen to Hawley, or they can read the Constitution and honor the declarations of actual Founding Fathers. This doesn’t seem like an especially tough call.

    Just as outrageous is the sentiment behind the rhetoric: Those who espouse the idea that the United States is a “Christian nation” appear eager to tell everyone else, “You’ll be tolerated, but you’re still The Other, relegated to second-class status.” It’s a sentiment at odds with our highest ideals, though Hawley doesn’t seem to care.

    But then there was the rest of the quote, in which the senator boasted about “advocating Christian nationalism.”

    The New York Times’ David French wrote a good piece on the radical philosophy earlier this year, explaining that Christian nationalism is rooted in the belief “that there should be Christian primacy in politics and law. It can manifest itself through ideology, identity and emotion. And if it were to take hold, it would both upend our Constitution and fracture our society.”

    It’s an approach that starts with a radical premise — adherents of one faith tradition must enjoy exalted status in the United States — before advancing to insist that American Christians must rule, dictate and govern in ways they see fit.

    To see and hear a prominent Republican senator publicly espouse such radicalism is chilling.

  125. says

    Lynna’s post at 160 made me want to fish for this article. Like Jordan Peterson’s desire to use violence in social conflicts, this is what permanently set me against Dennis Prager.

    I tie this to emotional neglect and abuse at many levels of society. Including abuse of employees by customers. It is natural for humans to display their moods. This is an inhumane view on happiness.
    The “damage” caused by the unhappy, not the damage that causes unhappiness.

    People like this can’t lose power fast enough and it’s my hope that the suppressed unhappy of all kinds (which likely align with his politics) take their humanity back. It’s part of why I do rational abandonment of civility.

  126. says

    Brony @162, good points. Thanks for that input. Dennis Prager is despicable, atrocious, heinous, odious, contemptible, horrible, execrable … and any other synonyms you can add.

    In other news: Biden blames Texas officials for delayed federal response to Beryl

    Texas is receiving federal aid for Hurricane Beryl later than needed because state leaders were slow to request an official disaster declaration from the White House, President Joe Biden told the Houston Chronicle Tuesday.

    With Gov. Greg Abbott out of the country on an economic development trip in Asia, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has served as acting governor amid the storm, making him responsible for putting in the state’s request for aid.

    A White House spokesperson told the Chronicle that officials had tried multiple times to reach Abbott and Patrick, and Biden said he only connected with Patrick Tuesday, after which he issued the disaster declaration. Beryl came ashore on Texas’ Gulf Coast early Monday morning, bringing heavy rain and winds that wreaked havoc over Houston and other parts of southeast Texas.

    Patrick denied Biden’s account, writing on social media that the president was “falsely accusing” him of being unreachable.

    “I am disappointed that President Biden is turning Hurricane Beryl into a political issue,” Patrick said, describing a “cordial call” with Biden earlier Tuesday in which the president granted his request for a major disaster declaration.

    Patrick added that state officials “needed to determine what our outstanding needs were” before they could make an official request. [Sounds to me like it is true that state officials were slow to make the request.]

    […] In a statement early Tuesday evening, Biden noted that FEMA resources had been on the ground in Texas “since well before the storm.” That included 500,000 meals and 800,000 liters of water that were “ready to distribute at the state’s request,” FEMA officials said in a statement Monday. The agency also deployed 60 generators “to provide power to critical infrastructure, if needed.”

    The disaster declaration includes 121 counties, including Harris County and other parts of southeast Texas that were hit hard by Beryl, Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.

    […] Politics have also regularly infused the response to past Texas storms, most recently when then-Land Commissioner George P. Bush, a Republican, feuded with then-Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a Democrat, over Hurricane Harvey aid. Bush also accused the Biden administration of using “red tape” and “complex regulations” to slow the distribution of aid.

    The political sparring came as millions of Texans remained without power as temperatures climbed into the 90s in parts of the state, one day after Beryl’s deadly winds and rain caused widespread damage.

    Texas officials are blaming Biden and the Biden administration is blaming Texas officials. Patrick cannot be trusted.

    Posted by readers of the article:

    a few years go, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick was quite explicit about this. During the early stage of the Covid-19 pandemic Dan Patrick said that old people should be willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the economy.
    Actually, I suspect they are following T***p’s dictum of not letting Biden look competent, as the Republicans did on the Immigration Bill. They’d kill their own grandmothers if they thought it would help them politically.
    the admin is getting ahead of the story the R’s will try to spin.
    I sure hope Biden brings receipts and POTUS phone logs to this fight. My bet is that Patrick was stretching out the wait just so Texas could complain about Biden.
    While blabbing about “Biden turning this political”, Patrick admitted what the Biden Adminsitration was saying is accurate. What a buffoon.

    A White House spokesperson told the Chronicle that officials had tried multiple times to reach Abbott and Patrick, and Biden said he only connected with Patrick Tuesday, after which he issued the disaster declaration.

    “I am disappointed that President Biden is turning Hurricane Beryl into a political issue,” Patrick said, describing a “cordial call” with Biden earlier Tuesday in which the president granted his request for a major disaster declaration.

    I guess it’s Biden’s fault that Abbott didn’t want to call the White House and interrupt his vacation in sunny Japan and South Korea.

  127. says

    Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced on Tuesday that she is releasing the delegates she earned in the Republican primaries and asking them to vote for Donald Trump. This will not alter the outcome; Trump secured enough delegates to ensure his nomination months ago. But now he may be spared the distasteful distraction of hearing someone else’s name entered into nomination during his coronation next week in Milwaukee.

    For Haley, this is the final step down a descending staircase of self-abasement and humiliation.

    The move comes just over a month after Haley endorsed the man she had called “unstable and unhinged.” Which came after she suspended her campaign while refusing to endorse Trump. Which came after she lost her home state but vowed she was staying in the race. Which came after Trump threatened to blacklist Haley donors and supporters.

    Now Haley’s voters, who continued to cling to her name as a symbol of their dislike for Trump even after Haley officially suspended her campaign, are finding that Haley’s tough talk about Trump has vanished. They’re getting confirmation that being a Republican in 2024 means supporting Trump. And nothing else.

    For months during the campaign, Haley repeatedly signaled to her voters that she was never going to get behind Trump’s run to return to the White House. In February, she declared that Trump was a “bully” who was “getting meaner and more offensive by the day.”

    Haley may have offered a series of proposals on foreign policy and her own plan for the economy, but most of those who voted for her simply did not care about any of that. As The Atlantic wrote in May, they voted for Haley, and continued to vote for her long after her candidacy was no longer viable, for a simple reason: “as a way to stop Donald Trump.”

    Haley didn’t get nearly 29% of the vote in Minnesota a week after suspending her campaign because they were enamored with her thoughts on Israel or her plans for economic investment. They voted for Haley as a symbol, as a life raft. As the one remaining spot of earth lingering about a rising MAGA tide.

    […] On Tuesday, Haley stood up to that “bully,” to the “mean” and “offensive” and “unstable” and “unhinged” man who had threatened both her and her supporters, and gave her last abject surrender. She’s far from the first to make this descending journey. But in this round, she’s pretty much the last.

    Millions of Republicans still seem to believe that there’s room in the Republican Party for someone who didn’t bow to Trump. They’re wrong.


  128. says

    Most of the doofuses that worked in and around the Trump campaign/administration last time are still around and still popping up in the news.

    Sebastian Gorka Really Lets His Nazi Flag Fly At Kamala Harris

    It remains to be seen whether the crisis that came about after that debate between Joe Biden and the babbling loon rapist criminal will ultimately pass. (The babbling loon rapist criminal did a rally last night where he said nobody eats bacon anymore because of Joe Biden, and said incoherent words about Hannibal Lecter, as usual. The New York Times should do 192 stories about that sometime!)

    For what it’s worth, there are some distinct signs the tide may have turned in the conversation in favor of the president. Of course, Politico Playbook is still leading with 75,000 words about every single fart, belch, and rumor they’ve heard on the subject on Capitol Hill. We are certain that if the nominee changes, we’ll hear about it.

    But goodness gracious, America’s least necessary white men sure are tipping their hands about how scared they are to run against Kamala Harris, should such a thing ever come to pass.

    Here is a Newsmax segment featuring host Rob Schmitt, most recently featured on Wonkette having a breakdown because of a gay flag football team; Matthew Whitaker, known better to Wonkette readers as Meatball McPeenerToilet, the single dumbest oaf ever to hold the position of “acting” attorney general in the Trump administration; and loser Trump Nazi — or at least Nazi-adjacent — Sebastian Gorka, who gets very triggered by people like soccer superstar Megan Rapinoe […]

    Listen to this talking urinal cake — who literally worked in Trump’s White House — though nobody really knows what he did — call Kamala Harris a “DEI hire” and “colored.” [video at the link]

    These three extraneous men were yapping at each other about Beltway rumors about whether Joe Biden will stay or whether he will go, and Gorka was making up conspiracy theories on the fly about how Hunter Biden is part of the negotiations, demanding pardons and cash. [raised eyebrows … really?]

    And Rob Schmitt asked:

    ROB SCHMITT: Do these donors really think that Kamala Harris is going to do better in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania than Joe Biden would? I mean, that’s — because it can’t be anybody else, right?

    SEBASTIAN GORKA: Rob, you’re being logical. Stop it. All right. She’s a DEI hire, right? She’s a woman. She’s colored. Therefore, she’s got to be good. And at least her brain doesn’t literally freeze in mid-sentence.

    We would mention whatever Meatball McPeenerToilet said, but he’s never said anything important, so fuck it. He mispronounced “Kamala,” because that’s a thing white racist MAGA men do.

    But oh, these men are so scared of Kamala Harris.

    You see, guys like Gorka, Schmitt, and Whitaker think they know how to run against Joe Biden. He’s “old” and “debate” and “China” and “Hunter Biden’s penis,” and so forth.

    But with Harris, a woman far smarter, more accomplished, and quite frankly better than they are in every way — did we mention she is Black? That is important, we should mention, because it’s relevant here — they have no idea what to do.

    The one word they all want to say about her — the thing many white MAGA conservatives say about her at the dinner table at night when they think the wokes can’t hear them — they know they can’t say.

    So we get these euphemisms like “DEI hire,” like Gorka did here, like white racist Texas GOP Rep. and discard pile human Chip Roy said this week, and like that little KKKlan-ifesto the New York Post published this weekend described Harris. And we get not-even-euphemisms like “colored.” Gorka really peacocked around in his white hood with that one, didn’t he?

    As we said at the top, we have no idea how this is all going to shake out. But this particular Wonkette would love to see Kamala Harris run for and win the presidency some day, because it’s just going to be really fun watching these dorks lose their goddamned shit trying to live in a country where she is their Madam President.

    Also will be funny whenever Pete Buttigieg is president and a gay who is smarter, handsomer, stronger, and better than them is their president.

    Some day.

    From coverage in 2017: Sebastian Gorka Made Nazi-Linked Vitezi Rend ‘Proud’ by Wearing Its Medal

  129. says

    Brony @164, :-)

    In other news:

    This Lawyer Blamed A 12-Year-Old For Seducing Trump Pastor Robert Morris

    His name is J. Shelby Sharpe and there is something deeply wrong with him.

    Content Note: child sexual abuse

    Last month, it came to light that Robert Morris, the founder and pastor of Texas’s Gateway Church and one of Donald Trump’s “spiritual advisors,” had sexually abused Cindy Clemishire when she was 12 years old, while he was staying with her family. To make matters worse, rather than describe the incident as child molestation, as it clearly was, he referred to it as “inappropriate sexual behavior.”

    One thing that should not come as any kind of surprise to anyone is that he also had friends who were terrible human beings — including his lawyer, one J. Shelby Sharpe.

    As if describing child sexual abuse as “inappropriate sexual behavior,” were not horrific enough, Sharpe somehow managed to make it worse by claiming that it was the 12-year-old girl who started it.

    Via NBC:

    25 years later, when Clemishire hired an attorney and threatened to sue Morris, accusing him of repeatedly molesting her as a child, a lawyer representing Morris responded by blaming Clemishire for what happened to her, according to 2007 correspondence obtained by NBC News.

    “It was your client,” wrote lawyer J. Shelby Sharpe, referring to Clemishire at age 12, “who initiated inappropriate behavior by coming into my client’s bedroom and getting in bed with him, which my client should not have allowed to happen.”

    I think we can all assume that, if that did happen, it’s highly unlikely that the child did so looking for some action.

    As if that were not repulsive enough, Sharpe also had the gall to bring up two other times Clemishire was assaulted by adult men at the ages of 12 and 13 as though that were evidence of some sort of moral failing on her part.

    She also “acted inappropriately with two other men who stayed in her home between 1982 and 1987,” Sharpe wrote in his letter.

    In an interview, Clemishire disputed Sharpe’s characterizations. She said two other men touched her inappropriately at her home when she was a child, but she said she did not initiate those interactions. In one instance, Clemishire said, it was Morris who instructed her, when she was 13, to go into a bedroom at her childhood home where another traveling evangelist was staying. Once she was inside, she said, the man, whom she declined to name, began to kiss her but eventually pulled away and told her she was too young.

    In another instance, in 1986, Clemishire said, another man who was staying with her family climbed on top of her while she was sleeping on a sofa bed next to his 3-year-old daughter. She believed he planned to rape her, but she said the man suddenly got off of her.

    Again, that is not a 12-year-old being “inappropriate,” that is a 12-year-old being sexually assaulted by adult men.

    When asked about the letter by a reporter, Sharpe denied knowing that the girl was 12 at the time, though the lawyer representing Clemishire explicitly told him that she was 12 in their correspondence. [Sheesh. Once again, not even good at telling lies.]

    In addition to defending Morris, Sharpe has also defended Southern Baptist Convention leader Paige Patterson, who was accused of not doing anything to prevent the sexual abuse of children. So he’s got some interesting priorities there.

    Speaking of which, here he is talking about how “no-fault divorce” is somehow the cause of school shootings. [video at the link]

    Of course, even those who “get it” (“it” being that it is bad to molest children) still have a long way to go. The NBC article I cite here specifies that “Cindy Clemishire was a 12-year-old girl who dressed in flowery pink pajamas and still liked to play with Barbie dolls” — and, you know, I’d really like to take a moment to point out how completely fucking unnecessary every word in that sentence after “Cindy Clemishire was a 12-year-old girl” is. There is no such thing as a 12-year-old who is or ever could be remotely complicit in their own sexual abuse by an adult. It doesn’t matter what they were wearing or what their preferred after-school activities are. Why? Because they’re 12. They are children, regardless of anything else they may do.

    That is the same mindset that allows people like Morris, like Sharpe, to justify child sexual abuse by claiming the child was somehow more mature than they actually were — like they did to Cindy Clemishire.

    No one is ever asking for it, least of all a child.

  130. says

    So What Are The Trump/Jeffrey Epstein/Underage Girls Rape Accusations? A Very Gross Explainer.


    With “Katie Johnson” and #TrumpPedoFiles trending on Xitter, time for an unrefreshing refresher to the many ties between dirty old creep Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein. […]

    A plaintiff with the pseudonym “Katie Johnson” filed a lawsuit in April 2016, repped by lawyer Lisa Bloom, claiming Trump raped her when she was 13. But she dropped the suit under strange circumstances that November and has been hiding ever since, her lawyer citing threats. So, any claims that Trump raped her when she was 13 are neither proven nor disproven in court.

    […] Trump and Epstein had an “epic bromance.”

    Trump partied with Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell for years, and they were photographed together dozens of times. Trump’s in Epstein’s little black address book 16 times, and Trump left Epstein phone messages. Trump is on the flight logs of the Lolita Express seven times, once with Eric.

    Epstein and Trump shared women. They both dated the unfortunately named Celina Midelfart, a Norwegian cosmetics heiress whom Trump squired about town in 1998, when she was 25 and Trump was 52. She was with Trump at an old-man-young-model-mingle party the night he met one Melanija Knavs. A 2021 story in Rupert’s raggiest rag the Daily Mail has photos of Midelfart with both Trump and Epstein, also of Midelfart and Epstein visiting Mar-a-Lago in 1995. Midelfart also took at least 13 trips on Epstein’s private jet. From a 2016 New Yorker profile of Melania:

    [Melania] met Trump in 1998 at the Kit Kat Club in New York, at a party thrown by Paolo Zampolli, the owner of a modelling agency. Their courtship story is as chaste as its backdrop is louche: Donald saw Melania, Donald asked Melania for her number, but Donald had arrived with another woman — the Norwegian cosmetics heiress Celina Midelfart — so Melania refused. Donald persisted.

    Also Anouska De Georgiou. In 1994, the London Daily Mirror reported that Epstein introduced De Georgiou to Trump and Maxwell, and that Maxwell often introduced Trump to her “friends”:

    [Trump] met London model Anouska De Georgiou at a party in Manhattan. Several American millionaires already had their eyes on Anouska. But she was there with Robert Maxwell’s daughter Ghislaine, who has introduced several of her attractive friends to the property developer.

    Trump flew Madam Maxwell and the model south to the sunshine state where all three enjoyed a happy weekend together. When they returned to New York, Anouska was installed in one of Donald’s many apartments there.

    Anouska later described Trump as “generous-spirited,” and claimed to have been abused by Epstein.

    Trump openly creeped on young women and used them to attract business connections to his parties. He sponsored, hosted, and judged Elite modeling’s Look of The Year contest with models as young as 14, and teenage models said the agency required them to attend dinners and events with him. He bought the Miss Universe Organization, including Miss USA and Miss Teen USA, and bragged about going backstage while teen girls were changing. [video at the link]

    He opened Trump Model Management, and hosted parties at the Plaza Hotel where “wealthy friends, high-rollers from his Atlantic City casinos, and potential Trump condominium buyers could meet models.”

    Male witnesses told the Daily Beast about the social life of Trump in the ‘90s, “partying in a room with cocaine, very young women and underage girls, and rich, old men there to … fuck them.”

    “Trump was in and out. He’d wander off with a couple girls. I saw him. He was getting laid like crazy. Trump was at the heart of it. He loved the attention and in private, he was a total fucking beast.”

    Leonardo DiCaprio, while at the height of his “[P-word] Posse” fame, thanked Trump for offering “one-stop date-shopping.”

    It’s all very pimp-scented.

    Trump and Epstein creeped on young girls together. In ‘92 Trump and Epstein hosted a party at Mar-a-Lago with 28 young models, with themselves as the only male guests. The organizer was aghast and complained, “Donald, this is supposed to be a party with VIPs. You’re telling me it’s you and Epstein? … I know Jeff really well, I can’t have him going after younger girls.”

    Trump reveled back then in his and Epstein’s mutual horny-chickenhawking proclivities, telling New York Magazine in 2002, “I’ve known Jeff for fifteen years. Terrific guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it — Jeffrey enjoys his social life.”

    And then there’s footage of them creeping at a party together, and the only time Trump has ever looked truly happy: [video at the link]

    And that is the filthy ecosystem in the background of the lawsuit filed in April of 2016 by the woman with the pseudonym “Katie Johnson,” who claimed Trump raped her repeatedly when she was 13. The suit was withdrawn seven months later, right before the election, with Johnson’s lawyer Lisa Bloom claiming it was due to “numerous threats” against her. Bloom claimed her firm’s website was hacked, that Anonymous had claimed responsibility, and that death threats and a bomb threat came in afterwards.

    The publicist who was claiming to rep Johnson turned out to be a shady former Jerry Springer producer, and Katie Johnson herself disappeared. Media dropped the story because without Johnson’s cooperation there’s no way to verify if her claims are true, or if she even exists. Then again, there’s no way to prove that they aren’t.

    The allegations are explosive. She sued both Trump and Epstein for a hundred million dollars, claiming they raped her multiple times at Epstein’s New York home over a four-month time span, when she was just 13 and had come to New York to model, and instead she got lured into being a “sex slave” for Epstein’s horrific old-man orgies. She claims Trump and Epstein took tandem naked “massages” together, and she saw Trump get a “massage” from another 13-year-old girl. Johnson claims she had to jerk off Trump herself, and perform in a threesome with him and a 12-year-old girl, where he forced them to perform together for him, and give him a blowjob together.

    Johnson also claims that a different time she was tied to a bed and raped by Trump, he slapped her when she asked him to wear a condom, and when she cried and said she was worried about getting pregnant, Trump threw money at her and screamed “get a fucking abortion.” Then, Trump and Epstein got into a bitter fight because Trump rudely took her virginity before Epstein could, and Trump screamed at Epstein that he was a “Jew bastard.”

    Could it be entirely invented, sure, but it’s mighty interesting how the story lines up with what we’d all later learn about Trump and Epstein’s close ties and shared proclivities. And this lawsuit dropped way before all of Trump’s 26 other sexual misconduct accusations became public, showing the same pattern of an enticement with a job […]

    Trump fits the description of “Doe 174” in the Epstein documents. Business Insider’s analysis cross-referencing filings from transcripts of depositions from Sarah Ransome, Virginia Giuffre, and Epstein’s Palm Beach housekeeper Juan Alessi solves the acrostic of the identity of Doe 174, who is identified as an Epstein friend who hung out at his house sometimes.

    Trump appears in a filing from Alan Dershowitz’s own lawyer, who repeated Sarah Ransome’s claim that she had a friend who was “one of the many girls that had sexual relations with Donald Trump” and that the friend said she had sex with Trump in Epstein’s Manhattan mansion. Dershowitz’s lawyer brought it up as part of a claim that Ransome is a liar, because Ransome claimed to have video footage, but didn’t have any, so therefore the underlying claims couldn’t possibly be true.

    “She told me how he kept going on about how he liked her ‘pert nipples,’ […] Donald Trump liked flicking and sucking her nipples until they were raw.”


    Dershowitz admits to getting a massage at Epstein’s but claims it was from some old Russian woman, and he kept his underwear on.

    Trump and Epstein shared Bill Barr. Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr’s dad hired an under-qualified young Epstein to teach at Dalton high school. Epstein died in prison, the result of what Bill Barr called “the perfect storm of screw-ups.”

    Trump’s Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta brokered Epstein’s extremely lenient plea deal in 2008, and Trump downplayed Acosta’s role and defended him.

    Trump and Epstein shared Steve Bannon. Lachlan Cartwright, the former National Enquirer editor and the Wall Street Journal’s source for the original Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels hush money story, reported that Epstein approached Steve Bannon in 2017 and asked for PR help to rehab his image.

    Trump wished Ghislaine Maxwell well. “I’ve met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach, and I guess they lived in Palm Beach. But I wish her well, whatever it is,” he said, after Maxwell was arrested on charges of transporting children for illegal sex acts. What. The. Fuck.

    Trump balked and dithered when Fox interviewers asked him if he would declassify Epstein files. “I guess I would. I think that less so because, you don’t know, you don’t want to affect people’s lives if it’s phony stuff in there, because it’s a lot of phony stuff with that whole world. But I think I would. I don’t know about Epstein so much as I do the others. Certainly about the way he died. It’d be interesting to find out what happened there, because that was a weird situation and the cameras didn’t happen to be working…”

    Yes, it sure would be interesting to find out.

    Also we’ve already found out plenty! At least 26 women, dozens of corroborating witnesses, Trump’s own words, and a couple of juries saying Trump is a sex pest and rapist … the GOP and his whackadoodle cult will never care nor mind. A lotta them are a bit underage-rapey themselves! […]

    Additional embedded links in the article lead to corroborating material.

    It’s all too iffy … and way too much covered up, with insufficient investigation.

  131. says

    […] The heat is hampering efforts to transport patients and conduct rescues in the region’s national parks, places that can rely on choppers amid the vast wilderness. When hikers get lost or become stranded on remote trails, helicopters are sometimes sent to locate and pull them out.

    National parks including Joshua Tree and Death Valley warn visitors that a helicopter may not be able to reach ambitious hikers in the heat, park rangers said. When temperatures pass 122 degrees — which has already happened this year in parts of California including Death Valley — medical helicopters often cannot fly. […]

    Washington Post link

    More at the link.

  132. birgerjohansson says

    You don’t get it. Biden used a big magnet or something to drag the hurricane ashore in Texas.
    ‘Magnets, how do they work?’

  133. says

    As summarized by Steve Benen from a Washington Post article:

    In his campaign rally last night in Miami, Trump spent far more time than usual going after Vice President Kamala Harris — whose name he repeatedly mispronounced. Given the broader circumstances, the shift did not go unnoticed.

    Summarized by Steve Benen from an NBC News article:

    while the political world waits for news about Trump’s new running mate, the former president told the NBC affiliate in Miami yesterday that Republican Sen. Marco Rubio “certainly will“ have a role in prospective administration, even if the Florida senator isn’t the vice president.

  134. says

    Often In Dissent, Sometimes Alone, Jackson Lays Out Progressive Vision For The Court

    As they reshape American life, the conservative Supreme Court justices are working to realize the vision developed by the right-wing legal world they came from: weak regulatory agencies, an omnipotent executive, a flexible enough rule of law to imbue the courts (particularly theirs) with awesome power.

    They employ (and create) a variety of tools to give their rulings a patina of legitimacy. […]

    The liberals have long been relegated to writing stridently in dissent, picking apart their conservative colleagues’ cherrypicked rulings. But in the years since the majority has charged hard to the right, liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson have increasingly and sometimes furiously started to outline a competing vision of America. And this term, in many of the banner cases, newcomer Jackson led the charge.

    In her sophomore year on the bench, Jackson hasn’t shied away from writing alone on some of the term’s biggest cases. She occasionally pushed beyond the often joint opinions of Kagan and Sotomayor both to intensify their critiques and, importantly, to situate them in a greater philosophical framework.

    That project has been, to this point, anemic on the political and legal left, to the movement’s detriment. […] The three liberals — and, in particular, Jackson — are starting to fill some of that silence.

    The Vision
    In her solo dissent from the Donald Trump immunity case, where the conservatives granted presidents sweeping protections from criminal prosecution, Jackson situated the majority ruling as an ahistorical break with the individual accountability model that had long undergirded our criminal justice system (in theory).

    […] She outlined a counterargument to the Trumpist, and thus Republican, vision of an untouchable, imperial presidency and super-powerful Supreme Court unchecked by a flaccid Congress and lording over increasingly hobbled federal agencies. It’s a structure in which power pools in the least democratic corners of our governmental structure, insulated from popular will.

    In Jackson’s vision of the rule of law, defendants, including former presidents, are given a gamut of protections, both before and during their trials, able to challenge prosecutions that are wrongly brought and to mount a robust defense of their actions. The Court’s new theory of immunity is an affront to such a system, where the most powerful person, the one best equipped to avail himself of these protections, is shielded from being prosecuted even for egregious crimes committed in plain sight.

    […] confined to the dissent, she formulated an overarching counterargument that those on the left have neglected to make outside of myopic cases or individual policy issues.

    “It is a core tenet of our democracy that the People are the sovereign, and the Rule of Law is our first and final security,” she wrote.

    She took a similarly philosophical view on United States v. Rahimi, where all but Justice Clarence Thomas ruled that domestic abusers could be stripped of their gun rights.

    […] She countered the conservative fixation on originalist “tradition” with a series of questions pointing out its obvious weaknesses — including that laws at or around the founding were written to protect a vanishingly small slice of Americans.

    […] She again made the case for the rule of law, arguing that this inconsistent and arbitrary “originalism” has forced judges to don the ill-fitting hats of historians, leading to a patchwork of contradictory opinions.

    […] In her vision, history would be a factor, and not the sole basis, for judicial review of gun regulations. […] individual judges wouldn’t sift through historical episodes to get to their chosen end result.

    Unbalancing Power
    Jackson also earned the distinction of being perhaps the most consistent justice in her decrying of the conservatives’ project to unbalance the branches of government, to the detriment of both Congress and the regulatory agencies in the executive branch. This was a leading theme for all of the liberals, given the gargantuan strides the right-wing majority took this term in shifting power away from federal agencies to itself.

    But Jackson wrote on a couple major cases where the other liberals kept silent.

    She was the only one to write outside of the majority in Starbucks Corp. v. McKinney, partially dissenting from an otherwise unanimous decision that gave the coffee behemoth a modest victory in its efforts to quash unionization efforts at its stores. […]

    She characterized the decision as yet another judicial power grab, another case where the Court blessed judicial discretion over the agency’s, despite Congress’ clear intent to tilt the scales the other way.

    […] And in this specific case, Congress insisted on empowering the board because courts have such a dismal record of protecting workers’ rights: “To put it bluntly, courts exercising their equitable discretion amidst labor disputes today do so against the backdrop of an ignominious history of abuse,” she added.

    She wrote alone, without the support of the other liberals, to underscore that the labor dispute was actually just the latest in an unmistakable trend of the right’s long-pursued mission to defang the administrative state.

    She did similar work in Moore v. United States, a right-wing effort to preemptively head off a wealth tax, and Moyle v. United States, a case pitting state abortion bans against federal emergency room requirements.

    […] These positions aren’t novel, but the left, outside of academia, has still failed to articulate them as the foundation of its policy goals, the ideology from which everything else (abortion rights, environmental and worker protections, progressive tax schemes) flows. With her solo opinions, Jackson is building up this progressive vision of the rule of law, of the balance of power, of judicial restraint and congressional vigor.

    She often writes in dissent and sometimes writes alone; but for any liberal on the bench, this game is a long one and the construction of a left-wing counterargument to the predominating right-wing theory of law and governance is a worthwhile cause in the meantime.

  135. says

    Feds Say They’ve Unraveled A Russian Bot Network

    The FSB is coming up with increasingly creative ways to create low-follower X accounts.

    In early 2022, a senior employee at the Russian state news agency RT pitched his superiors on an idea: could RT create an in-house social media bot farm to reach people outside of its traditional news broadcasts?

    Per federal court documents released on Tuesday, RT executives said yes.

    The result was a quixotic attempt involving the FSB, the successor agency to the KGB, to use AI to develop a mushrooming series of fake X accounts that parroted Russian propaganda.

    In a search warrant affidavit, the FBI said that it had identified 968 accounts after an unnamed “U.S. government agency” tipped it off to the inner workings of RT and its alleged cooperation with an FSB official in setting up the network. Per a statement, X moved to shut down the accounts while the DOJ seized two domain names related to the network.

    The affidavit — in which an unnamed FBI agent recounted how federal investigators learned of the bot farm, assessed at least part of its scope, and moved to dismantle it — reads partly like a spy novel, and partly like a skeptical take on the value of Russian disinformation efforts. The impression the affidavit leaves of what the FBI demolished is less that of a devious effort to pour gasoline on nuanced differences within the American public, and more of a scattershot approach: creating as many accounts as possible, and then using them to take the propaganda that Russia trains on its own citizens abroad. […]

    Enter the FSB
    That relatively small reach — and focus on the kind of Eastern European historical issues on which President Putin has long obsessed over but which seem likely to elude most American audiences — belies the lengths to which both Russian officials and U.S. law enforcement went to create and then demolish the network.

    […] An officer from the KGB successor recruited the two RT employees to work for an unnamed “private intelligence organization” that he had created. The group’s purpose, the FBI said, was to advance Russian government goals, including by using fake social media accounts to broadcast Russian propaganda. Per the tip, the Kremlin approved the group’s creation.

    From there, the affidavit says, the unnamed U.S. government agency determined that the intelligence organization began to provide “investigative services” to RT last year, effectively acting as a cover within the Russian state organization for what was really going on: the FSB was using RT to “conduct influence operations against foreign adversaries in coordination with the Kremlin,” including via the bot farm.

    […] What makes this different are the many layers of deception. Per the affidavit, not only was the FSB’s involvement concealed from RT, but RT then used subterfuge to create the network of fake social media accounts with which to spread FSB messaging.

    […] Many of the addresses were registered to unknown domains; after obtaining information for who bought the domains (they were sold by an Arizona provider), the FBI found that they were registered to a fake person with a VPN in Lithuania.

    […] it was created from an IP address that traces back to Russia. […] [snipped many-layered references to Russian nesting dolls approach to trying to hide the source of the social media manipulation.]

    The FBI found that it listed an associated phone number. That traced back to the beginning: one of the two RT employees that worked on the bot farm.

  136. says

    AOC files impeachment articles targeting Justices Alito, Thomas

    In the wake of the Supreme Court’s immunity ruling in Trump v. U.S., Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York issued a statement condemning the high court’s “corruption crisis beyond its control.” But the congresswoman — who’s sometimes known by her “AOC” initials — didn’t stop there.

    “Today’s ruling represents an assault on American democracy,” the New York Democrat added, referring to the immunity case. “It is up to Congress to defend our nation from this authoritarian capture.”

    To that end, Ocasio-Cortez vowed to introduce articles of impeachment against Supreme Court justices after Congress’ Fourth of July break. Evidently, she meant it. NBC News reported this afternoon:

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., on Wednesday introduced articles of impeachment against Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. “The unchecked corruption crisis on the Supreme Court has now spiraled into a Constitutional crisis threatening American democracy writ large,” she wrote. She cited Thomas and Alito’s financial and personal entanglements as a “grave threat to American rule of law” and the “integrity of our democracy.”

    AOC has already picked up some allies: Her impeachment resolutions are backed by eight original co-sponsors: Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee of California, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, Delia Ramirez of Illinois, Maxwell Frost of Florida, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Jamaal Bowman of New York, and Jasmine Crockett of Texas.

    The move also comes against a backdrop of several related efforts on Capitol Hill. Democratic Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Ron Wyden, for example, have asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to appoint a special counsel as part of a potential criminal investigation into Thomas.

    Democratic Rep. Joe Morelle of New York, meanwhile responded to the Trump v. U.S. ruling by vowing to introduce a constitutional amendment that would reverse the Supreme Court’s “harmful immunity decision and ensure that no president is above the law.” Democratic Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey added in a written statement that read in part, “We must take all available measures to reign in the increasingly unfettered power of this radical court, including … expanding the number of justices.”

    […] I continue to think there are a couple of ways to assess efforts like these. The first is on the merits, and on that front, it’s easy to be sympathetic to the Democratic proposals. The Supreme Court’s radicalized Republican majority has taken indefensible steps in recent years, but to elevate the presidency above the law is a uniquely pernicious act.

    This, coupled with recent ethics scandals, put Democratic efforts on firm ground.

    The second, however, is more pragmatic. No sitting justice has ever been removed from office through the impeachment process, and the last time such a case even went to the Senate was 220 years ago. Given the Republican majority in the House, the earliest such a move could even be considered is next year, and if Democrats fall short of a majority, the idea would again be off the table. [None of those pragmatic issues is a reason not to try to rectify the Supreme Court’s error.]

    Relatedly, the Constitution has never been amended to reverse a misguided Supreme Court decision; and while Congress has expanded the Supreme Court before, it’s been 155 years, and the odds of such an effort clearing Capitol Hill anytime soon are extraordinarily remote.

    Or put another way, Democrats are taking the broader issues seriously, as they should, but those hoping to see their efforts amount to meaningful changes should probably lower their expectations.

    But if Congress can’t fix what Republican justices have broken, what is the remedy?

    There is “very little we can do except elect a Democrat [as president] who will appoint vacancies if Democrats hold [the] Senate,” Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee recently told Axios.

    In other words, those looking for a near-term recourse shouldn’t look to Congress, they should look to voters, who now have an added reason to choose wisely in the fall.

  137. says

    Political ads online are full of misinformation and scams, study finds

    The online advertisement to Donald Trump supporters was clear enough: Click here, and receive a free Trump 2024 flag and a commemorative coin. All in exchange for taking a quick survey and providing a credit card number for the $5 shipping and handling.

    “You’ll get two free gifts just by taking this quick poll in support of Trump,” says the ad’s narrator.

    The ad—which has appeared on Facebook, YouTube, and other platforms—didn’t mention the $80 charge that would later appear on credit card statements. Those that clicked were scammed.

    Political advertisements on social media are one of the best ways for candidates to reach supporters and raise campaign cash. But as a new report from Syracuse University shows, weak regulations governing online ads and haphazard enforcement by tech companies also make ads a prime source for misleading information about elections—and a tantalizingly easy way for con artists to target victims.

    “There is very little regulation on the platforms,” said Jennifer Stromer-Galley, the professor who led the research for the ElectionGraph Project at Syracuse University’s Institute for Democracy, Journalism & Citizenship. “It leaves the American public vulnerable to misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda.”

    Stromer’s research examined more than 2,200 groups on Facebook or Instagram that ran ads between September and May mentioning one of the presidential candidates. Combined, the ads cost nearly $19 million and were seen more than 1 billion times.

    […] Many of the ads contained misleading information, or deepfake video and audio of celebrities supposedly crying during a speech by former First Lady Melania Trump. Stromer-Galley noted that falsehoods in ads about urban crime and immigration were especially common.

    […] Stromer-Galley found that some of the pages shared common creators, or ran virtually identical ads. When one page disappeared—perhaps removed by Facebook moderators—another would pop up quickly to take its place.

    Many of the pages sold Trump-related merchandise such as flags, hats, banners, and coins or advertised fictitious investment schemes. The true motive, apparently, was to get a user’s credit card information.

    The ads promising a free Trump flag were placed by a group called Liberty Defender Group. Emails sent to several addresses listed for the company were not returned, and a phone number for a company representative could not be found. […]

    The Trump campaign, which has no known ties to the network, did not respond to a message seeking comment.

    The researchers at Syracuse were only able to study ads on Meta platforms because other companies do not make such information public. As a result, Stromer-Galley said the public is in the dark about the true amount of misinformation and scams spreading on social media.

  138. says

    […] Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Ron Wyden delivered a 14 page letter to Merrick Garland yesterday detailing a whole bunch of off-the-books gifts to Clarence Thomas and suggesting that he be investigated for tax fraud.

    The list of potentially secret gifts also includes a loan of more than $267,000 provided by Thomas’ close friend Anthony Welters, the yacht trip to Russia from the Baltics, and the helicopter ride to Yusupov Palace in St. Petersburg. ProPublica first reported last year on the existence of extensive undisclosed gifts and lavish trips from Crow. [excerpted from a Daily Beast article.]


    So Clarence Thomas visited Russia? Clarence Thomas got a helicopter ride to Yusupov Palace in St. Petersburg?

    I expect to hear more regarding these details.

  139. says

    President Biden will sit down with Lester Holt of NBC News for an exclusive interview that will air Monday, the network announced Wednesday.

    The interview, which will be taped in Austin, Texas, will air in full as part of a prime-time special on the network starting at 9 p.m. Eastern.

    NBC said portions of the interview will be aired earlier that day on “NBC Nightly News” and at

    Biden’s sit-down with NBC’s top news anchor comes just days after he granted a similar interview to George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, which also aired that conversation in prime time.

    […] Monday evening is also the first night of the Republican National Convention, creating a potential split-screen moment for the country as voters weigh a match-up between Biden and former President Trump this fall.


  140. says

    Biden Delivers Barn-Burner NATO Speech, Doesn’t Even Threaten To Quit Alliance And Marry Putin

    We guess it DOES matter who’s president.

    Last night, during Donald Trump’s rally at Doral, he admitted that before he was president, he didn’t even “know what the hell NATO was too much,” but said he figured it out really fast, “like two minutes.” He then proceeded to give his perpetually confused explanation for NATO funding. “They weren’t paying, we were paying!”

    Trump has always seemed to believe there’s a NATO checking account somewhere, that only America pays into. (NATO funding is an agreement among member nations to each spend two percent of GDP on their own defense.)

    He also told his followers that he told NATO allies that he wouldn’t defend them against Russia, if they didn’t “pay.” (He told it as a “sir” story, so it’s almost certainly a lie that he was such a tough guy with NATO allies in private. He’s not known for being a really tough guy, in private.)

    Meanwhile, there is a real NATO summit of the real NATO alliance happening in Washington DC, hosted by President Joe Biden, who gave a barn-burner of a speech last night to welcome NATO leaders.

    Go ahead and watch it. Biden starts just after the 45-minute mark. [video at the link]

    Biden called NATO the “single-greatest, most effective defensive alliance in the history of the world.” He noted that NATO is “stronger than it’s ever been in its history,” having just finally brought Finland and Sweden into the alliance, to defend against a rogue Russia.

    About Russia, Biden said that Vladimir Putin “wants nothing less than Ukraine’s total subjugation, to end Ukraine’s democracy, to destroy Ukraine’s culture, and to wipe Ukraine off the map.” He added that “we know Putin won’t stop with Ukraine.”

    But he continued, “Make no mistake, Ukraine can and will stop Putin,” and said in no uncertain terms Ukraine would continue to do that with NATO’s full support. He announced new air defense systems for Ukraine, courtesy of the USA and NATO.

    Biden even bragged on his own success in getting NATO members to pay up, as Trump is so obsessed with them doing, noting that in 2020 — you know, the last year Trump was president — only nine members paid the requisite two percent of their GDP for defense spending. Now it’s 23.

    At the end, Biden said he wanted to end his speech “a slightly unusual way.” […] he gave NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg the Presidential Medal Of Freedom for his leadership over the last decade, and especially since the beginning of Russia’s evil war on Ukraine.

    So yeah, he nailed it. They gave him a standing ovation, like you give to the leader of the free world.

    The reviews for Biden’s speech were strong. In fact, just about everybody used the word “forceful.” Even the New York Times.

    President Biden opened NATO’s 75th anniversary summit on Tuesday seeking to bolster confidence in both the alliance and his own political standing with a forceful speech warning of the threat posed by Russia and other authoritarian states as the world plunges into a new era of superpower conflict.

    Mr. Biden, speaking in a strong voice, with few errors, sounded themes from some of the most memorable speeches of his presidency, painting an image of a fearsome and growing NATO with an ironclad commitment to Ukraine in its fight against a Russian invasion.

    Strong voice! Few errors! That fucking killed them to write, you just know it.

    They mentioned the debate in paragraph four, and a number of times after, but grudgingly conceded:

    By all measures, he passed the test,

    Wait for it …

    though he was speaking from a teleprompter — meaning there was no risk he would wander into incomplete thoughts.

    Unlike other presidents, who just fuckin’ wing it when they give formal addresses to world leaders, we guess.

    Biden’s schedule for this NATO week is bugfuck by anyone’s standards, and that’s after his past week full of events. (Trump, comparatively, spent the week with his thumbs up his ass before he reappeared for his rally last night. You would too if the American media was dutifully doing your job of taking down your opponent for you.)

    He’s got 12 straight hours of presidenting and NATO hosting today, and then tomorrow he’s doing a real live press conference.

    We’ll see how that goes! Regardless, we are sure the New York Times will have something really important to say about it.

  141. says

    Michael Cohen is asking the Supreme Court to revive his lawsuit against Trump

    The former fixer turned star witness in the hush money trial wants to force Trump to pay for jailing him in response to his refusal to promise not to write a book.

    Michael Cohen is asking the Supreme Court to wade into his fight with former President Donald Trump after a federal appeals court rejected his latest attempt to seek compensation for being jailed in what another judge called an act of retribution.

    In a filing he will make with the court on Wednesday, Cohen asked for a review of a Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decision that denied his request to hold Trump, former Attorney General Bill Barr and other Justice Department officials accountable for throwing him back in jail because he refused to agree not to write a book that was going to be critical of Trump.

    “This is a case of first impression,” Cohen said of his filing. “No president should ever be permitted to weaponize the Department of Justice through a willing and complicit attorney general to have a citizen unconstitutionally remanded to prison (solitary confinement) because they refused to waive their First Amendment right. It’s a case ripe for the SCOTUS.”

    Cohen is asking the Supreme Court to apply the Bivens precedent which would allow some suits against federal officials. Bivens claims are virtually impossible to obtain after recent Supreme Court decisions gutted the prior ruling, an NBC News investigation found.

    Cohen’s filing argues that his case should qualify as a Bivens claim because of “a finding by a federal judge who found that the president’s most public critic was incarcerated for retaliation for attempting to speak and write about the president.” Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted an extension to Cohen of the filing deadline from June to July 10th.

    Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York found that Cohen was incarcerated in retaliation for attempting to speak and publish his book. He ordered Cohen released and ordered the government never to jail him again.

    A district judge ruled against Cohen’s initial attempt to sue Trump and the other officials, determining that Supreme Court precedent does not allow him to pursue damages and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, ruling that his ultimate release was sufficient to meet his claims. District Judge Lewis Liman, in denying Cohen’s claim, did concede that his rights were violated but said Supreme Court precedent barred him from letting the case move forward.

    “The case represents the principle that presidents and their subordinates can lock away critics of the executive without consequence,” Cohen said in an appearance on MSNBC’s “Deadline: White House.” “That cannot be the law in the country the Founders created when they threw off the yoke of the monarch who imprisoned Wilkes.”

    Cohen served as a star witness in Trump’s New York hush money trial, during which a jury found the former president guilty of 34 counts of business document falsification related to hush money payments to a porn actress ahead of the 2016 election.

    Cohen has painted a frightening picture of what he expects would happen in a second Trump presidential term. “He is capable of absolutely anything and everything, don’t discount what he is telling you, he will have unlimited power,” Cohen said in the interview on MSNBC. “You allow your mind to wander into the farthest level of dystopia, and then you finally get a small glimpse into how far he will push this.”

    Jon Michael Dougherty, Cohen’s attorney, says Trump and other presidents must be held accountable. “This is one of the most un-American acts of executive abuse imaginable. The reason we need this kind of remedy is to ensure every officer at every level of the government from ordering the arrest and incarceration of critics for refusing to be silent.”

    Alina Habba, Trump’s attorney, has called the lawsuit frivolous, “We are very pleased with today’s ruling,” she said when the complaint was initially dismissed. “Mr. Cohen’s lawsuit was doomed from its inception. We will continue to fight against any frivolous suits aimed at our client.”

  142. whheydt says

    Re: Lynna, OM @ #167….
    Perhaps they noticed that Kamala Harris was (1) elected DA of San Francisco, (2) elected Attorney General of the State of California, and (3) elected to be a US Senator from California.

  143. birgerjohansson says

    Lightbulb moment:
    Michelle Obama is a genuinely popular human being but does not like politics.
    -Dubya had not exactly been awarded a Nobel Prize, but he stumbled through 8 years by delegating thinking to various Republican thugs.

    Solution (that is better than the Dubya years): make Michelle Obama president, with the understanding big political decisions can be delegated to some reasonable competent and honest Veep.
    I write this after the devastating criticism written by Clooney, because it implies the debate screwup was not an isolated event.
    I know Biden is perfectly capable of policy, but right now the issue is defeating fascism in a political campaign.

    Biden cannot do this purely from behind well-spoken proxies.
    The way Merican election campaign functions, the Democratic nominee must be front and center blasting away like Demosthenes or Cicero. This is goddamn Trump they are facing.

  144. JM says

    @186 birgerjohansson: The US is actually working on new strategy for artillery. Based on analysis of what has happened in Ukraine they realized the old systems would not be good in an actual army vs army engagement shortly after the war started. The US Army depends on too much towed artillery, good for fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq against insurgents but too slow and fragile for duty against a hostile army with long ranged artillery also. The M109 is decent but terribly out dated.
    Defense News – US Army readies new artillery strategy
    The article is from 2023 and outdated at this point. The Army canceled the ERCA system early in 2024, it had too many problems. Some have pushed for improved artillery shells but the Army seems to have come to the conclusion that isn’t a good idea for a basic weapon either, in a war they couldn’t be produced fast enough and would be too expensive.
    Shipping artillery to Ukraine seems to have reminded the army that in an actual war they would need a lot of shells and thus they need to be easy to make and cheap.

  145. John Morales says

    Birger @175, FWIW, that’s a great video by Phil.

    (I don’t usually make such comments, but can’t be relentlessly critical, either)

  146. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    From a clip of a news article above

    […] the power to bring criminal cases is not only centralized in relatively few government prosecutors, […]

    Note that this is grossly misleading in context. I have no idea why nearly all legal scholars continue with this fiction, especially for those on our side when the real history is very different and that would be very useful to supporting the rule of law. Again, at the time of the founding in America, many / most criminal prosecutors were the victims of the (supposed) crimes acting in their own private capacity. It was the common law right of every person to seek an indictment from a grand jury to become prosecutor (or presumably appoint someone else of their choosing to be prosecutor). Criminal prosecution was never an exclusive power of the executive. Rather, it was a common law right of the people which was then usurped by various acts of the legislature, and then granted to the executive by the legislature.

    Is Prosecution a Core Executive Function? Morrison v. Olson and the Framers’ Intent
    Stephanie AJ. Dangel
    The Yale Law Journal
    Vol. 99: 1069

    See also:

    Are Cops Constitutional?
    Roger Roots
    Seton Hall Constitutional L.J. 2001, 685

    Note that this argument also seriously undercuts some of the arguments used by the king-of-America decision because even under a unitary executive theory, the president still has no special powers over prosecution except those that congress took from the people and gave to the president.

  147. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Sorry for copy-pasting it here too, but I think others should see it, if only for the conversations that it might start and the brainstorming that it might lead to.

    Upon reflection, this is what I think Biden should do. Joe Biden should order the arrest of Trump and the 6 MAGA SCOTUS judges and ordered them held at GitMo, without access to lawyers, without habeas corpus. After that is accomplished, he should make the following public announcement.

    Trump tried to overturn the election and stop the peaceful transition of power on 6 January 2021. By the definition in the Constitution, he is a traitor and was part of an insurrection against the United States. With the recent Trump v United States decision by the Supreme Court, 6 Supreme Court justices have become complicit in this attempt to overthrow the government. Through their actions, they have also violated their oaths of office. Consequently, I have taken the drastic action of ordering their arrest and detention pending trial.

    Furthermore, I have taken it upon myself to enforce the provision of the 14th amendment that bans traitors who have previously taken an oath of office from running for public office again. Under that authority, I am ordering that Trump shall be removed from all ballots for the November election, and the 6 Supreme Court justices shall be immediately removed from their position on the supreme court.

    Given the severity of these crimes, and how the initial crimes happened during an armed rebellion against the constitution, and giving the ongoing threat of armed rebellion by their many collaborators in the federal congress, and in the State legislatures, and elsewhere, I have revoked their right to habeas corpus as allowed by the federal constitution.

    It is my goal that the State legislatures will work to immediately pass a new federal constitutional amendment that affirms that no officer or agent of the executive branch, including the president, shall have any immunity for unlawful actions because everyone should be equal before the law in court, even if they are the president. Our nation was founded on this central premise, that everyone should be equal before the law in court. That’s what it means to be equal before the law.

    Next, I will work with both parties in the Senate to immediately appoint 6 new supreme court justices to fill the new vacancies. I will strive for moderate, non-partisan picks. In particular, I will endeavor to find judges who wish to respect precedent and preserve the prior status quo, including Chevron Deference, but also the people’s inalienable right to weapons as guaranteed by the second amendment. However, make no mistake: I will not hesitate to make my selections without the cooperation of one political party in the Senate if they decide to not cooperate and instead side with the people who would tear down our republic constitution and replace it with a monarchy.

    Finally, to show that this is not about my own personal power, nor the power of my party, I plan on resigning as president as soon as these two things are accomplished, and I will not run for reelection.

    May god bless America.

    The point of this new plan is that it’s not actually unlawful. Arguably everything is part of the legal process, although the invocation of the 14th amendment in this way by the president would be highly controversial among those who support traitors, e.g. the Republican party. The 14th amendment does not specify an enforcement mechanism for the clause about traitors who violate their oath of office, so the president might as well claim enforcement power, to kick Trump off the ballot, and to remove the 6 MAGA traitor justices from SCOTUS.

  148. John Morales says

    Joe Biden should order the arrest of Trump and the 6 MAGA SCOTUS judges and ordered them held at GitMo, without access to lawyers, without habeas corpus.

    Right. Biden should break the law, in other words.

    The point of this new plan is that it’s not actually unlawful. Arguably everything is part of the legal process, although the invocation of the 14th amendment in this way by the president would be highly controversial among those who support traitors, e.g. the Republican party.

    You got one word in the wrong place, there. Entirely changes the meaning.

    (It’s a thing in both law and coding)

    Here’s the fix (I double-clicked, then dragged that word to its proper place):
    ‘The point of this new plan is that it’s Arguably not actually unlawful. everything is part of the legal process, although the invocation of the 14th amendment in this way by the president would be highly controversial among those who support traitors, e.g. the Republican party.’

  149. John Morales says

    PS “May god bless America.”

    Nononono… this is supposedly a public announcement, according to the vision.

    It should be “God bless America!”.

    (Oratorical techniques are a thing)

  150. John Morales says

    Still, it is indeed better than “maybe god can bless America?”.

    (So, could be worse)

  151. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Right. Biden should break the law, in other words.

    How does it break the law? It’s Biden’s power and duty under his oath of office to prevent coups, and the 14th amendment is quite clear that traitors cannot hold public office. Trump is clearly a traitor, and IMAO the 6 MAGA SCOTUS justices are clearly complicit in the attempt to overthrow the government by retroactively granting Trump immunity for trying to overthrow the government so he can try it again.

  152. John Morales says

    For example: “America could sure use God’s blessing!”.

    (But then again… this is the USA of which we speak)

  153. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    That’s tradition for America, and I’m trying to use persuasion. I don’t actually believe in gods, but that’s the kind of thing that sells well to certain very large segments of America.

  154. John Morales says

    How does it break the law?

    Due process.

    It’s Biden’s power and duty under his oath of office to prevent coups, and the 14th amendment is quite clear that traitors cannot hold public office.

    Due process.

    Trump is clearly a traitor […]

    Due process.

    […] and IMAO the 6 MAGA SCOTUS justices are clearly complicit in the attempt to overthrow the government by retroactively granting Trump immunity for trying to overthrow the government so he can try it again.

    I get that.

    Again: in your case, you say ((X is true) and (it’s arguable that X is true because [blah]) whereas I hold that you should have said ((X is arguably true because [blah])

    IOW, you can’t just assert something is true and follow that up with an arguable reason for its purported truth, if you want to be at all cogent.

  155. John Morales says

    … that’s the kind of thing that sells well to certain very large segments of America.

    Now that, I sure cannot dispute. :)

  156. John Morales says

    [To be clear, I’m not dissing your perception, only your argumentative technique, Gerrard]

  157. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    During a coup in progress, there is no due process concerns at all. That’s why our constitution explicitly allows suspending habeus corpus during an invasion or rebellion.

    Due process does not necessarily apply to someone’s ability to hold public office. There is no obvious legal standard under the 14th amendment that someone should get due process before being removed for being a traitor. Historically, when it was passed, there was no due process for the traitors of the Confederacy for being barred from holding public office. They were simply barred. You sound like the Trump defenders in the Colorado ballot court battle where the Colorado court made the same determinations that I just did in this paragraph, but the Colorado court decided that it was their power to remove Trump from the ballot (again because the 14th amendment doesn’t specify an enforcement mechanism). You sound just like Trump’s defenders saying that “no no, it should work differently (while also not specifying how it should work)”.

    Under my plan, Trump and the 6 MAGA traitor judges will get their date in court for treason, but no date in court for being removed from office.

    Again, SCOTUS just created a king of America, and is doing it clearly for that traitor Trump to have another chance to overthrow the government. If that’s not treason, then I don’t know what is.

  158. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    [To be clear, I’m not dissing your perception, only your argumentative technique, Gerrard]

    Thank you. I see.

  159. John Morales says

    Um, were you not the very person who not so long ago held the Rule of Law to be an indispensable platform for proper government, Gerrard?

  160. John Morales says

    One more, but endless, right?

    Again, SCOTUS just created a king of America, and is doing it clearly for that traitor Trump to have another chance to overthrow the government.

    The current cynical narrative is that SCOTUS made the Prez immune to official actions of the office, the little caveat is that SCOTUS (ultimately, after all, due process) decides what is and what is not an ‘official act’.

    Ain’t POTUS being made the king, it’s SCOTUS making itself the éminence grise.
    They like whatever it was, they can decide it was official, and therefore immune to prosecution.
    They don’t, well… you see where this leads.

  161. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    Um, were you not the very person who not so long ago held the Rule of Law to be an indispensable platform for proper government, Gerrard?

    Yes. Which is why I’m so incensed, so angry, so worried, so upset. The president immunity decision is a direct attack on rule of law. An attack in the worst way possible. “Rules for thee and not for me”. “Rule of law” means that people are answerable to the law via a grand jury and petite jury in a court of law. That’s what “rule of law” means. That what “under the law” and “answerable to the law” means. They have practically destroyed the rule of law with this decision. At least mortally wounded it.

    When the enemy is breaking the rules and trying to install a Christian theocratic fascist regime, we shouldn’t play by the old rules if that gives them a chance for victory.

    Also, I think that my plan is still mostly playing by the old rules. The 14th amendment, aka the highest law because it’s in the constitution, based on the historical record, arguably can be enforced simply by presidential decree. I might not support that interpretation in more normal times, but these are not normal times.

  162. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    The current cynical narrative is that SCOTUS made the Prez immune to official actions of the office, the little caveat is that SCOTUS (ultimately, after all, due process) decides what is and what is not an ‘official act’.

    Yea. IIRC, I was the first to mention this in the old “July 4” thread.

  163. John Morales says

    Well, anyway.

    Tell ya what, Gerrard: I’m an Aussie, and my skin in this game is second, maybe third hand.

    I can but speak of generalities, but as I reckon it, anything along those lines is surely beyond mere brinkmanship; rather, at best, a provication, then worse, an ultimatum, with the obvious opening to spin it as trolling and total hypocrisy.

    (Neither of us are politicians, of course)

  164. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    I think I’m prepared to face those potential consequences compared to letting them destroy the rule of law and make a king in America, although I’m open to a less extreme plan.

  165. says

    Making the case that the Republican Party is increasingly hostile toward democracy is simple: One need only quote Republican officials.

    In recent years, the Republican Party has been credibly accused of becoming hostile toward democracy. The evidence to bolster the allegations has been overwhelming: From voter-suppression measures to election denialism to rejecting the certification of vote tallies, the contemporary GOP has been unsubtle in suggesting that Americans no longer resolve our differences at the ballot box.

    But there’s another dimension to this that’s even less oblique: Some Republicans have been explicit in their rejection of democracy.’s Kyle Whitmire, for example, took note of the latest rhetoric from John Wahl, the chair of the Alabama Republican Party, who shared some odd thoughts during an appearance on a local radio program last week.

    “The mainstream media wants us to think of ourselves as a democracy because that leads to socialism,” Wahl said on the program. … “Even our Republican elected officials call us a democracy far too often, and we are not.”

    To be sure, that’s quite a conspiracy theory. Rascally journalists, we’re apparently supposed to believe, have secretly launched an effort to convince Americans that they live in a democracy — not just to deceive them, but also to advance the cause of “socialism.”

    As best as I can tell, Wahl wasn’t kidding.

    But the Alabama Republican isn’t alone. A few months ago, GOP officials in the state of Washington assembled for an election-year convention and passed a resolution that read in part, “We encourage Republicans to substitute the words ‘republic’ and ‘republicanism’ where previously they have used the word ‘democracy.’” The same resolution added that Republicans in the state of Washington “oppose legislation which makes our nation more democratic in nature.”

    One delegate to the state GOP convention declared at the event, “We are devolving into a democracy. … We do not want to be a democracy.”

    Such thinking has even popped up on Capitol Hill. About a month before Election Day 2020, for example, Sen. Mike Lee raised a few eyebrows by declaring via social media that the United States is “not a democracy.” The Utah Republican added soon after, “Democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prospefity [sic] are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that.”

    Nearly a year later, Sen. Rand Paul made a related argument. “The idea of democracy and majority rule really is what goes against our history and what the country stands for,” the Kentucky Republican argued in June 2021, despite reality.

    One need not be a hysterical partisan to accuse the Republican Party of growing increasingly hostile toward democracy; one need only quote Republican officials.

  166. says

    Up until fairly recently, the “Appeal to Heaven” flag was a relatively obscure symbol, at least in contemporary times, though as a New York Times report recently noted, it’s become “a symbol of support for former President Donald J. Trump, for a religious strand of the ‘Stop the Steal’ campaign and for a push to remake American government in Christian terms.”

    Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick added, “That flag is not merely another January 6 signifier but also rooted in John Locke’s ‘appeal to heaven,’ meaning ‘a responsibility to rebel, even use violence, to overthrow unjust rule.’”

    With this in mind, it was rather unsettling when the public learned that the Appeal to Heaven flag, also known as the Pine Tree flag, was hoisted above Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s vacation home in New Jersey last year.

    This week, the same symbol became politically relevant anew, thanks to the latest reporting from NOTUS’s Haley Byrd Wilt.

    Rep. Jim Banks — a Republican who is seeking a Senate seat in Indiana this year — isn’t saying whether he opposes armed rebellion against the American government. “I don’t take you seriously enough to answer your question,” Banks told NOTUS on Tuesday when asked, for the fourth time in person, if he opposes violent revolution against the United States.

    Let’s back up and review how we arrived at this point.

    Hours after a jury convicted Donald Trump of 34 felonies, Banks published an image — without text or a caption — of the Appeal to Heaven flag to his social media platform. (As of this morning, it remains the Indiana Republican’s pinned tweet, suggesting he places special significance on the symbol.)

    This led NOTUS’s Haley Byrd Wilt to note that some commenters speculated the image meant that the GOP congressman “might view what was happening to Trump as dire enough to warrant some new kind of American revolution.”

    Banks has been given a variety of opportunities to reject the idea of armed rebellion. He’s chosen not to take advantage of those opportunities.

    “I’ll let you make your own conclusions,” he told NOTUS.

    The outlet also asked the Republican lawmaker whether he condemns any kind of violent insurrection. Instead of saying “yes” or “of course,” Banks said he condemns “the Democrats for what they’ve done to weaponize the federal government against their political enemies.” (There is literally no evidence of Democrats weaponizing the federal government against their political enemies. There is, however, overwhelming evidence of Donald Trump trying to weaponize the federal government against his political enemies — which Banks has never publicly criticized.)

    Asked whether he believed his promotion of the Appeal to Heaven flag, the night of Trump’s conviction, could be misconstrued, Banks added, “I’m not sure what there is to misconstrue.”

    It seems like it would’ve been quite easy for the Indiana Republican — who’s all but certain to be elected to the Senate in the fall — to simply express his opposition to armed rebellion. For reasons he has not yet explained, Banks apparently doesn’t want to deliver such a message.


  167. says

    Rex Huppke of USA Today covers the utter incoherence and lies of yet another Donald Trump rally speech.

    During the event, the former president slurred words, claimed his son Don Jr. is married when he’s actually just engaged, and consistently described the world around him in a manner wholly inconsistent with reality.

    During one heartbreaking moment, Trump stopped talking for a full minute while the usual eerie music favored by an unhinged conspiracy group called QAnonplayed in the background. He sweatily moved his head back and forth and randomly pointed at people, appearing to not know exactly what he was doing. […]

    At one point during Tuesday’s rally, Trump said tourists who go to Washington, D.C., and visit the Jefferson Memorial or the Washington Monument “end up getting shot, mugged, raped.” It was troubling to see a man hoping to become president again act so confused. Violent crime in the District of Columbia is down more than 20% this year, as crime nationwide has plummeted.

    USA Today link.More at the link.

    Various X posts are also showing Trump stopping talking for a full minute.

    More from Rex Huppke:

    Slurred words, imagined dystopian scenes and a rant about airports

    Trump slurred his words again while apparently making a promise that, if reelected, no American will ever overdose on drugs again: “Mothers will never again be forced to watch their children overdosing and hosplee.”

    I don’t know what hosplee means. I don’t even know if Trump knows what it means or if he even knew he was there in the South Florida heat, randomly talking about airports:

    “We are a nation whose once revered airports are a dirty, crowded mess. You sit and wait for hours and then are notified that the plane won’t leave, that they have no idea when they will, where tickets prices have tripled, they don’t have the pilots to fly the planes, they don’t seek qualified air traffic controllers and they just don’t know what the hell they are doing.”

    Trump’s imagined view of dystopian airports has no basis in reality. This past Sunday, a one-day record of 3 million travelers were screened by the Transportation Security Administration.

    USA TODAY recently reported that the average domestic airfare last year was only 9% more than what it was in 2019, compared with overall inflation at 19% in the same period.

    Trump also babbled about Hannibal Lecter (a fictional serial killer) again, for the umpteenth time.

  168. says

    Good bully policy.

    Someone picking through project 2025 with a “divide and conquer” mindset. I like this. Relatedly there are many kinds of right-wing Christian and other with contradictory views and beliefs here. The authoritarian/fascist infighting can be encouraged.

  169. birgerjohansson says

    On a recent conference samples of tissue and enzymes taken from dead Greenland sharks were discussed – it looks like there is no decline in enzymatic activity in greenland sharks with age (they become sexually mature at 150 and may live as long as 500 years).

    Previously it was known that bowhead whales can get more than 200 years old.
    (Once aquatic species have grown to a size where they have no enemies evolutionary pressure for self-repair and longer life can manifest, as there is no predation)

  170. says

    Good news to which Republicans are trying to put a swift stop: IRS nabs $1 billion from rich tax cheats while GOP fights to defund it

    The Internal Revenue Service beefed up its enforcement efforts last fall—and the push is paying off quickly. The tax-collecting agency announced Thursday that it scooped up more than $1 billion in past-due taxes from millionaires since October, an achievement that the House GOP is still trying to undo.

    “With this collection activity, the IRS passed an important milestone in our effort to improve compliance and ensure fairness in the tax system,” said IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel. “Our increased work in this area means these past-due tax bills from high-end taxpayers are no longer being left on the table, like they were too often in the past.”

    The IRS launched its new enforcement efforts on millionaires and big corporations at the end of October 2023, and managed to reap this return in just eight months.

    “The collection results achieved in less than a year reveal the magnitude of what can be achieved over the long run as our Inflation Reduction enforcement continues to ramp up in the months ahead,” Werfel added.

    Werfel is referring to the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act championed by President Joe Biden and the Democrats, which provided a 10-year, $80 billion investment in the IRS, with $45.6 billion over 10 years specifically earmarked for tax enforcement. Every single Republican in the House and Senate voted against that bill.

    The Republican quest to protect tax-cheating millionaires continued with the very first policy vote the House GOP took in 2023 after regaining the majority. Republicans voted in lock-step to repeal that IRS funding—a repeal which the Congressional Budget Office said would decrease federal revenue by $186 billion between 2023 and 2032, costing the government more than $114 billion.

    That repeal effort was squashed by the Democratic-controlled Senate, but the GOP is still at it. Republicans are trying to defund the IRS in next year’s appropriations bill, attempting to cut $2.2 billion from the agency, or about 18% of its budget for next year alone. A full $2 billion of those cuts would come from enforcement funding.

    As always, Republicans are looking out for the super-rich (and the Pentagon) while drafting bills that would screw the rest of us.

  171. says

    […] In 2016, J.D. Vance was one of the harshest critics of Trump as well as one of the most insightful analysts in identifying the threat that he posed. On Facebook, Vance referred to Trump as “America’s Hitler.” In an op-ed for The Atlantic titled “The Opioid of the Masses,” Vance likened Trump to the fentanyl and heroin that featured in his book, “Hillbilly Elegy.”

    During this election season, it appears that many Americans have reached for a new pain reliever. It too, promises a quick escape from life’s cares, an easy solution to the mounting social problems of U.S. communities and culture. It demands nothing and requires little more than a modest presence and maybe a few enablers. It enters minds, not through lungs or veins, but through eyes and ears, and its name is Donald Trump.

    But by 2018, Vance began a well-timed pivot. Rather than fighting against the deadly rush generated by Trump’s message of hate, Vance began to indulge. And soon enough he was mainlining what he had previously called “cultural heroin.”

    Eventually, as Rolling Stone reported in 2022, Vance “kissed Trump’s ass just enough to make it to the Senate.” From there, he has gone on to be one of right-wing media’s favorite Trump surrogates, putting the gift of words he used to become a bestselling author to use in defending Trump’s every action.

    However, that’s probably not what put Vance on the shortlist. What got him noticed was not how Vance flip-flopped on Trump, but just how far toward wanna-be KGB he was willing to go. That was best showcased in a specific incident in 2023.

    When historian Robert Kagan wrote an essay in The Washington Post on the dangers of a dictatorship under Trump, Vance responded. Only he didn’t respond by trying to counter Kagan in print. Instead, Vance called on the Department of Justice to investigate Kagan for treason.

    In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland that is still highlighted at Vance’s campaign site, Vance asked: “Will the Department of Justice open an investigation into Robert Kagan for potential violations of 18 U.S.C. § 241, 18 U.S.C. § 2383, or any other federal criminal statute? If not, what factors counsel against such an investigation? Why were those factors inapplicable in President Trump’s case?”

    That’s the kind of loyalty to Trump-over-everything move that helped Vance rocket to the top of the VP list.

    Now that Vance is deep into the final stages of his Trump addiction, he’s still saying things that Trump might not find helpful. Like thanking the authors of Project 2025 in a recent speech at the same time Trump is trying to deny knowledge of the plan. Vance included a hat tip to Heritage Foundation leader Kevin Roberts, who recently threatened to kill “the left” if they didn’t go along with his plan.

    But it’s not likely that will hurt Vance’s chances. Trump loves people who have humiliated themselves to show their loyalty to him. Besides, pretty much every potential running mate was a never Trumper at some point.

    Overall, it’s hard to find anyone who has aggressively shredded more of their personal credibility than Vance. That’s what makes him such a Trump favorite.

    Trump sees that J.D. Vance can be manipulated, and that at his core Vance has no moral compass.


  172. says

    The GOP’s latest anti-Garland gambit fails, despite Trump’s push

    Congressional Republicans haven’t given up on their crusade against Attorney General Merrick Garland, but as NBC News reported Thursday afternoon, their efforts aren’t going especially well.

    The House of Representatives on Thursday rejected a resolution to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in “inherent contempt” for failing to turn over the audiotapes of President Joe Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur.

    [Good news.]

    The final tally was 210-204. The measure would’ve passed, but four House Republicans — Reps. David Joyce of Ohio, Mike Turner of Ohio, Tom McClintock of California, and John Duarte of California — balked and voted with the Democratic minority.

    […] Several months ago, former special counsel Robert Hur wrapped up his investigation into President Joe Biden inadvertently taking some classified documents after his vice presidential tenure ended. Not surprisingly, the prosecutor decided not to indict the incumbent president.

    Soon after, Hur released a report, which included a transcript of an interview that Biden volunteered to participate in. (Donald Trump, in contrast, refused to be interviewed by either special counsel Robert Mueller or special counsel Jack Smith.)

    In theory, that ended the story. In practice, however, there was one additional element that Republicans decided to pursue: the audio recording of the incumbent president’s Q&A with investigators. Republicans admitted that they were just looking for a campaign cudgel, but that didn’t deter the effort.

    When the White House asserted executive privilege, and the Justice Department told Congress it wouldn’t get the recording, House GOP members voted to hold Garland in contempt.

    And then things got a little weird.

    Republican Rep. Anna Paulina Luna of Florida recently announced a plan to go after the attorney general with an “inherent contempt” measure that would, for all intents and purposes, empower the House’s sergeant-at-arms to arrest Garland.

    When that failed to gain traction, Luna turned to Plan B — a second “inherent contempt” measure that would subject the A.G. to $10,000-a-day fines until the Justice Department provided lawmakers with the interview tapes.

    On Wednesday, this effort received a hearty endorsement from Trump. Roughly 24 hours later, the measure fell short in the House anyway.

    What’s next? One can only guess, though it seems inevitable that the GOP majority will continue to explore new ways to go after the attorney general. Watch this space.

  173. birgerjohansson says

    The good thing with the Trump era is, we now know the truth about the Republican party – we had really known it all along, but it is nice they hsve dropped the masks.
    And it is surprising to see that some really horrible conservatives somehow found the integrity to back out of the insane vlown posse.
    Like in 1860 and 1933, it is only in extreme circumstances you see what people really are like.

  174. says

    U.S., Germany foil alleged Russian plot to assassinate CEO of German arms firm sending weapons to Ukraine

    The alleged plot targeted the CEO of Rheinmetall, which provides artillery rounds to Ukraine and plans to open plants in Ukraine to make ammo and armored vehicles.

    Russia planned to assassinate the CEO of a major German arms manufacturer that provides artillery ammunition and armored vehicles to Ukraine, but the plot was uncovered and disrupted by U.S. and German authorities, according to a U.S. official and a source with knowledge of the matter.

    The alleged plot targeted Armin Papperger, the chief executive of Rheinmetall AG, Europe’s largest producer of ammunition, whose company makes 155 mm artillery rounds for Ukraine and plans to open several plants inside the country to produce both ammunition and armored vehicles, including the Lynx infantry fighting vehicle. U.S. intelligence agencies discovered the plan to go after Papperger earlier this year and informed the German government, the sources said.

    CNN first reported on the assassination plot.

    Papperger was one of a number of defense industry chiefs in Europe to be targeted but the plot against him was believed to be more advanced, the sources said.

    The revelations followed recent warnings from NATO’s secretary-general, European governments and U.S. officials about an expanding effort by Moscow to disrupt arms deliveries to Ukraine as it tries to defend itself against invading Russian troops.

    The White House National Security Council would not comment directly on the specific case involving Rheinmetall, but council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the Biden administration was concerned about the growing threat of Russian sabotage.

    “While I don’t have a comment on this specific report, Russia’s intensifying campaign of subversion is something that we are taking extremely seriously and have been intently focused on over the past few months,” Watson said. “The United States has been discussing this issue with our NATO Allies, and we are actively working together to expose and disrupt these activities. We have also been clear that Russia’s actions will not deter Allies from continuing to support Ukraine.”

    […] A spokesperson for the Democratic minority on the House Intelligence Committee declined to comment on the alleged plot but said: “As Putin continues to fail to accomplish his maximalist agenda in Ukraine, Russia has increasingly turned to illegal and aggressive malign activities abroad, including in NATO countries. The Intelligence Committee is closely following these threats, which only strengthen our resolve to support Ukraine.”

    […] Last month, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said alliance members planned to impose more restrictions on Russian intelligence agents and to bolster security for key infrastructure to counter Moscow’s use of sabotage, cyberattacks and disinformation to undercut Western support for Ukraine following Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.

    “We have seen several examples of sabotage, of arson attempts, of cyberattacks, of disinformation,” Stoltenberg told reporters.

    NBC News has previously reported that Russia is conducting a sabotage campaign across Europe in an increasingly aggressive effort by President Vladimir Putin to undermine Western support for Ukraine, seeking to damage railways, military bases and other sites used to supply arms to Kyiv.

    The attempted sabotage includes an alleged Russian-backed arson attack on a Ukrainian-linked warehouse in the United Kingdom, a plot to bomb or set fire to military bases in Germany, attempts to hack and disrupt Europe’s railway signal network and the jamming of GPS systems for civil aviation. […]

  175. says

    By design, Ukraine was this week’s big winner at the NATO summit in Washington.

    It was NATO’s 75th birthday party, and despite not being a member of the alliance, Kyiv stole the spotlight. Over the course of three days, the 32-member military alliance rallied around Ukraine’s war efforts to combat the Russian invasion.

    […] The alliance agreed to language declaring the country’s membership in the alliance “irreversible,” intends to provide $43 billion in military assistance next year, has started transferring F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, and is sending dozens of air defenses including four Patriot missile systems to Kyiv.

    In a joint communique, NATO members also condemned Moscow’s nuclear saber-rattling, and called China the “decisive enabler” in Russia’s war against Ukraine — which is already bothering Beijing.

    While Ukraine didn’t get everything it wanted, Kyiv made clear today it was happy with the result.

    […] In a call with reporters Thursday morning, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the summit is proof that Biden is capable of doing the job.

    “The capacity and strength of this alliance should send a clear message to any of our adversaries anywhere in the world.”

    […] Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, whose country recently assumed the temporary European Union presidency, cozied up with China and Russia ahead of the summit, drawing criticism from across Europe. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, for his part, accused the U.S. and Western countries of making the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Gaza conflicts worse. [Orbán and Erdoğan are not helpful.]


  176. says

    Heritage Foundation president Kevin Roberts: “The overlap is tremendous” between Trump’s campaign platform and Project 2025

    Unearthed video: Project 2025 director said project has “great” relationship with Trump and he’s “very bought in with this”

    Paul Dans, a former Trump administration official and the director of Project 2025, told a right-wing podcast last year that his group has a “great” relationship with former President Donald Trump, and “Trump’s very bought in with this.” His comments fly in the face of Trump’s recent attempts to distance himself from Project 2025.

    Project 2025, which is organized by right-wing think tank The Heritage Foundation, states that “Dans directs Heritage’s 2025 Presidential Transition Project, organizing policy and personnel recommendations and training for appointees in the next presidential administration. Prior to joining Heritage, Dans served in the Trump Administration as Chief of Staff at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.”

    Media Matters has heavily documented the extreme nature of Project 2025. Notably, Heritage Foundation president and key Project 2025 figure Kevin Roberts recently sparked heavy criticism when he said, “We are in the process of the second American Revolution, which will remain bloodless if the left allows it to be.”

    Following the controversy, Trump attempted to distance himself from the Heritage plan and has repeatedly claimed, “I know nothing about Project 2025.” But media outlets including Media Matters have documented the numerous connections between the project and the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

    Dans himself appears to have contradicted Trump’s claim that he knows nothing about the project. During a podcast interview that aired on May 20, 2023, the Project 2025 director assured a pro-Trump host that “we’ve had great relationships” with Trump and other Republicans, adding that “ultimately, yes. I think, you know, President Trump’s very bought in with this.” […]

    Video at the link.

  177. says

    Donald Trump is dangerous. The media is finally talking about it, by Mark Sumner

    On Thursday, The New York Times published an editorial accurately noting that Donald Trump is “dangerous” and “unqualified” to be president.

    “[Trump] has demonstrated an utter lack of respect for the Constitution, the rule of law and the American people,” the Times’ editorial board wrote. He is “animated by a thirst for political power: to use the levers of government to advance his interests, satisfy his impulses and exact retribution against those who he thinks have wronged him.”

    That’s all true. And it would be better if it didn’t come several paragraphs into an editorial that starts off complaining about “the post-Covid era of stubborn inflation, high interest rates, social division and political stagnation.” Not to mention running it on the same morning that inflation dropped to 3%, raising the strong possibility of an interest rate cut, with the biggest concern being that unemployment rates are too low.

    But at least the New York Times has taken a moment to notice that Trump still exists. It’s a nice change after a week in which it, and every other media outlet, have been dominated by stories of anyone with a passing thought about President Joe Biden’s campaign.

    Numerous papers have dropped editorials calling for Biden to drop out of the race following an unsteady debate performance. They are still at it. Before the Times ran their column on Thursday, only The Philadelphia Inquirer made a similar call for Trump to depart after his debate responses were filled with lies and fantasies about everything from immigration to the Jan. 6 insurrection.

    Thursday’s Times not only carries that editorial declaring that Trump is unqualified, but it also carries a front page notably less cluttered with thoughts on Biden’s viability as a candidate. That seems like a good sign ahead of the president’s press conference on Thursday.

    Still, there seems to be more concern in the media over noting every entertainer who has a thought about Biden—or even those who might have a thought—than in the long list of former Trump officials who want nothing to do with their old boss. It might seem like the fact that Trump’s former vice president is refusing to endorse him might rate more attention than any actor. It should.

    The challenge for the New York Times and others isn’t whether they will give Trump’s nastiness an occasional mention, but whether they will provide the kind of sustained and focused coverage that has been devoted to Biden’s status post-debate.

    Because, believe it or not, there has been good news for the media over the last week.

    As discussed on
    @KatyTurNBC in many ways, more damage has been done to Biden by the melt down post debate than was done by his performance in the actual debate. We need to spend more of our time attacking the GOP – another week of this circular firing squad & we’re all doomed. [Pie charts at the link.]

    Analysis shows that among Black voters who watched Biden’s debate performance, 21% had their view of Biden negatively impacted while 70% said the debate had made them more likely to vote for the president. However, 57% of Black voters who didn’t see the debate said they were now less likely to vote for Biden, with only 43% more likely.

    The big negative effect for Biden came not from the debate, but from people talking about the debate.

    How is that good news? It’s good news for the national media in the sense that shows how much power remains in their control. The sustained media coverage concerning Biden’s debate performance, and of Democrats dithering in response, has been much more impactful than Biden’s actual debate performance.

    That may come as a surprise to Politico writer and MSNBC correspondent Sam Stein.

    The killer for the White House and campaign has to be that there is tons of great/good news that is getting buried right now
    Inflation cooling
    Voters economic outlooks rising
    Nearing Israel-Hamas deal
    Jobs steady

    As it happens, there is a whole industry that is supposed to be telling voters about that good news. They could do that. They could explain that we’re not seeing “stubborn inflation” and that economic conditions have improved vastly following Trump’s departure. They might even point out that the Trump economy was absolutely awful, no matter what he claims.

    They could give Trump’s lies the kind of intense, sustained scrutiny that they provided to Biden’s every stumble. They could provide the same breathless attention to every former Trump cabinet official who refuses to get near him today, as they’ve given to every Democrat worried about Biden’s prospects. They could talk about the lies Trump told at his debate and continues to tell at his rallies.

    They could do that. And people would listen.

    What the last week has demonstrated is that the media really can give concentrated attention to a single issue, and that attention can still sway the opinions of voters in an age where the role of the media is frequently in doubt. Good for them.

    Now they just need to make it good for America—by pointing this power in the right direction.

  178. says

    Lawrence O’Donnell:

    The President’s physical and mental abilities are now under a microscope. [… But] the microscope only seems to be turned on when people can find something wrong. Whenever he seems to be behaving completely normally, that microscope seems to be turned off. No one seems to be interested in what that looks like.

    Now we are going to show you the president’s comments in full and again I would not normally run all of these, but this is the first time since the debate that we have seen the president speaking, extemporaneously without a teleprompter, no script, not answering questions in a question and answer format with an interview or debate moderator. And so we are going to show you this, because not only do people say he cannot do this, there are people saying he has not done it.

    There are people that don’t know he did this today, who are talking in public discussions about what the president is capable of and they are not even watching what he is doing. So we can all watch this video together. You can judge what you are looking at.


    Video at the link.

  179. John Morales says

    In China news:

    A food safety scandal has caused mounting public outrage in China days before a high-level Chinese Communist party meeting at which leaders will try to boost confidence in the economy.

    Last week the state-run newspaper Beijing News published an in-depth exposé on the “open secret” of fuel tankers being used to transport cooking oil, without the tankers being washed or disinfected in between.

    In the report, an undercover reporter interviewed a trucker who had driven a tanker of coal-derived fuel from Ningxia, a region in the west of China, to the east coast city of Qinhuangdao in Hebei, a journey of more than 800 miles (1,290km). The trucker told the journalist he was not allowed to return with an empty vehicle, and subsequently drove to a facility in another part of Hebei to load up with nearly 32 tons of soya bean oil, without cleaning the tanker. Several other tankers featured in the article made similar journeys.

  180. John Morales says

    In Gaza:

    Volunteer doctors at two Gaza hospitals said that a majority of their operations were on children hit by small pieces of shrapnel that leave barely discernible entry wounds but create extensive destruction inside the body. Amnesty International has said that the weapons appear designed to maximise casualties.

    Feroze Sidhwa, a trauma surgeon from California, worked at the European hospital in southern Gaza in April.

    “About half of the injuries I took care of were in young kids. We saw a lot of so-called splinter injuries that were very, very small to the point that you easily missed them while examining a patient. Much, much smaller than anything I’ve seen before but they caused tremendous damage on the inside,” he said.

    Weapons experts said the shrapnel and wounds are consistent with Israeli-made weapons designed to create large numbers of casualties unlike more conventional weapons used to destroy buildings. The experts question why they are being fired into areas packed with civilians.

    […] [photo in article]

    X-ray of the damage done to a 15-year-old’s leg by fragmentation shrapnel, some of which is still lodged in the bone. The surgeon said: “The shrapnel entered from the left into the tibia bone and exited through the fibula to the right of the image. Our word for very smashed bone is ‘comminuted’. Bone comminution does not get greater than this.” The surgeon has put in a stainless steel plate screwed into the tibia. Photograph: The Guardian

  181. birgerjohansson says

    Here is the link to Science about very early plate tectonics.
    My comment; If plate tectonics can get started that early, maybe biological processing of matter is not always needed for plate tectonics to be viable, making plate tectonics on exoplanets more plausible.
    “Ancient crystals point to a surprisingly early start for plate tectonics” | Science | AAAS

  182. birgerjohansson says

    I thought Tom Baker’s Doctor Who killed off Suhtek once and for all in Pyramids of Mars, but now they have a rematch.
    Worse, someone is doing a remake of a Sergio Leone / Clint Eastwood classic.

  183. JM says

    Rawstory – Biden and Trump remain tied

    Two new just-released national polls taken well after the June 27 presidential debate show President Joe Biden tied with or one point ahead of Donald Trump.

    This follows the pattern of several other polls after the debate. People think Trump won but that both Trump and Biden did badly in the debate in different ways, just Biden did worse. The end result is that very few votes shifted and the undecided are still undecided.

  184. John Morales says

    Birger @240,

    “But we have argued that consciousness may have evolved to facilitate key social adaptive functions.”

    It follows they must believe social adaptive functions existed prior to consciousness existing, which is on its face absurd.

  185. John Morales says

    I thought Tom Baker’s Doctor Who killed off Suhtek once and for all in Pyramids of Mars, but now they have a rematch.

    Ah, the show Moffat fucked beyond repair, where the Doctor has become a mythic demigod.

    Anyway, by the time I stopped watching (the Moffatification of the show had reached a terminal stage) it was all down to wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff.

    Translation: “it’s in the script”. Don’t have to justify anything at all.

  186. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @245: Moffat was also at least partially responsible for the execrable Sherlock.

  187. says

    birger @239, “Aaaargh. Biden calls Zelensky “Putin”.

    Yep, that’s so common with Biden, he has been a gaffe machine throughout his entire career. People used to keep lists of his gaffes 30 years ago.

    Biden also provided nuanced and fact-based assessments of:
    China and its leadership
    Unions and their effect on the economy
    South Korea’s new investments in chip manufacturing in the USA

    There is no such thing as a perfect, gaffe-free Biden. Never has been. Never will be. Often, he corrects himself in real time. That’s one gaffe he didn’t correct in real time.

    There is no way, in the current political climate, that anyone will let Biden get away with even one gaffe, let alone several. I don’t see any way out of this.

  188. says

    NBC News:

    Price increases slowed more sharply than expected in June, adding to evidence that high inflation has subsided and potentially clearing the way for the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates that affect everything from mortgages to credit card payments. … From May to June, prices fell 0.1% — the first time the monthly reading meaningfully declined since May 2020, early in the pandemic.

    Good news.

  189. says

    NBC News:

    China lashed out at NATO on Thursday, accusing it of smearing the country after the Western alliance called it a ‘decisive enabler’ of Russia’s war in Ukraine — the first time it has accused Beijing of involvement in the conflict.

    President Biden answered questions about this at the press conference. He did well with those answers. He explained the situation and then went on the outline a response that included Europe and other nations joining the USA in finding ways to show that China will a pay (does pay) price it doesn’t want to pay for siding with Russia. (Mostly economic/industry stuff related to lack of European and USA investment in doing business in China.)

  190. says

    Colorado Politics:

    Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-CO, suggested that President Joe Biden’s alleged mental decline was caused by his COVID-19 vaccination.

  191. says

    Biden delivers strong, insightful performance in closely watched press conference, by Mark Sumner

    President Joe Biden faced off with a large number of journalists on Thursday afternoon in his first press conference following a troubling performance in the first presidential debate. With a growing number of Democrats in Congress either calling for Biden to withdraw as a candidate or expressing concern about his ability to defeat Donald Trump in the fall, this press conference took on an outsized importance for the 2024 election.

    Biden opened his appearance with a clear rundown of the good news of the day: an economy that just keeps getting better, the success of the just-concluded NATO summit, and the improving chances for peace in Gaza.Throughout this opening, Biden was strong in describing the importance of NATO to both Europe and the United States. He also pointed out the threat that Trump represents through his efforts to undermine the NATO alliance and appease Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

    [Yes, that part of Biden’s performance at the press conference was really good, very good. And he spoke without a teleprompter. Biden provided an overview, and details.]

    As Biden moved on to the question-and-answer portion of the press conference, most of the queries were—as expected—about the questions that have swirled around his candidacy since the debate, and whether he felt that Vice President Kamala Harris is prepared to step into the lead. Biden was firm in stating that Harris was completely prepared to be president “or I wouldn’t have picked her,” but was consistent in defense of his ability to do the job.

    If I were Biden at this conference right now, I’d say something like, “You know, my memory must be going because I swear I’ve answered the same question at least four or five times.”— Ana Marie Cox ( Jul 11, 2024 at 4:49 PM

    Biden spoke from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center after a day in which he held a series of meetings with leaders of other NATO countries. Earlier in the day, he fumbled the names of Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, which became the subject of one of the questions during the press conference. But Biden quickly corrected himself at the earlier meeting and was insistent that the NATO meeting had been highly successful. He also noted that European leaders were concerned about the possibility of another Trump term and anxious that Biden remain president.

    Later in the press conference, Biden was asked questions about both the war in Ukraine and the involvement of China. He provided long, complex answers, detailing how China and North Korea were involved in Ukraine and the threat that China represents in the Pacific. Biden’s knowledge of the military aspects and the economic implications was clear, and he maintains a full grasp on a very complex situation.

    I have no doubt that reporters will focus on Biden confusing a few names and some mangled phrases … but Biden’s policy depth in this presser has been impressive and not something that Trump could come close to replicating—Michael Cohen [True!]

    Biden elaborated on an idea he brought to the NATO summit for improvements in industrial policy in the West, saying that it came as a surprise to some members of the alliance how they had fallen behind in the capacity to produce items such as vehicles and artillery.

    Biden also answered detailed questions on Gaza, describing the challenges of dealing with a conservative government in Israel that wanted to move aggressively, negotiating with unreliable Hamas leadership, and grappling with a shifting collection of neighboring nations whose positions are never certain.

    “Don’t make the same mistake America made after Bin Laden,” Biden said he told Israeli leaders in an answer that gave more insight into the U.S.’s role in negotiations. Biden expressed disappointment over his inability to convince the Israeli government to follow his advice in every instance, spoke to the declining support for Hamas, and provided a powerful, nuanced, and thorough answer.

    In general, he spoke with the kind of authority and broad knowledge that Trump could never match. The president also talked about what he still wants to do with such passion and obvious desire that it is clear he has no interest in stepping away from this fight.

    “I’ve got to finish this job,” Biden insisted. “I’ve got to finish this. Because there’s so much at stake.”

    Biden was also very clear in saying that no matter what he does, he knows it won’t be enough to satisfy his critics. [True.]

    He also had some fun with a question about whether he would allow his delegates to vote for someone else if they had doubts.

    “Sure,” said Biden, before adding, “That’s not going to happen” in a stage whisper. He followed that up by saying that, while there were other people he believed could beat Trump, he believes he is best suited to win the election.

    There were moments in which he misspoke, and others in which he paused or stumbled, but there were none in which Biden seemed to lose the thread or demonstrate less than authoritative knowledge on a series of complex topics. If anything, Biden’s issue on Thursday evening was the same as it has been through his career in both the White House and the Senate: a mind bursting with knowledge and a mouth that sometimes can’t keep up with his desire to share what he knows. [Yep. Good analysis. Sometimes Biden stepped on his own clear answers by trying to provide too many asides. He has always been like that. He is a better president than he is a communicator.]

    Earlier in the evening, ABC News reported that there were high-ranking Democrats standing by who hoped that Biden was going to have “a bad night,” because they were prepared to join the ranks of those calling for him to step aside. [Yep, I had that feeling too. Fucking overly excited vultures.]

    If those people exist, they were disappointed. Joe Biden did not have a bad night.

    Now you see why the media hates Biden, he’s old and boring and talks policy. They want to hear about Hannibal Lector eating people, cancer windmills, electric sharks and shit.—Alex Cole

  192. says

    German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday warned against underestimating President Biden, describing him as a “very focused” leader following this week’s NATO Summit in Washington, D.C.

    […] “I’m not someone that is able to say how will be the outcome of American elections,” Scholz responded. “But I think it would be a big mistake to underestimate the president. He is successful in doing the necessary things, for instance, in organizing the NATO alliance.”

    “And his leadership was very important in the last years and months, and also preparing this very meeting here in Washington. […]” he continued.

    Scholz later said he had not seen any moments from Biden in the past week that indicate he is not up for another four years in office, as some lawmakers and political pundits have argued after the presidential debate.

    “And I just can tell you, from my perspective, as someone that is speaking with Biden, he is very focused, and he is very intensely doing what the president of the United States has to do for leading the alliance,” Scholz said. […]


  193. says

    […] CNN anchor Jake Tapper is demanding Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s campaign remove an ad from social media that manipulates footage from news broadcasts falsely portraying them boosting his candidacy.

    The ad, published Wednesday evening, is deceptively edited to show leading cable news hosts such as Tapper, Dana Bash, MSNBC’s Joy Reid and others saying Democrats are “rallying” around Kennedy and lauding him as someone who knows how to “root out corruption” and “lead.”

    “This is so misleading and deceptive it should be taken down at once,” Tapper wrote Thursday on social platform X. “The quotes are falsely clipped together.” […]


    video at the link

  194. says

    “Tonight President Biden was knowledgeable, engaging, and capable,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said on X. “He displayed a level of depth on foreign policy that Donald Trump has never and could never. No one is more prepared to lead our nation forward than Joe Biden.”

    I like the joke Biden told about Trump filling out his score card before he ever hits the golf ball.

    People saw whatever they wanted to see. Commentators and politicians cherry-picked parts of the press conference that they thought proved their points.

    Critics, new and old, pounced before it was over […]

    [True! Critics especially had statements prepared and issued them before the press conference was over.]

    […] At least two more House Democrats called for the president to drop out of the race — bringing it to about 17 congressional members from his own party to express that view since the debate.

    “Today I ask President Biden to withdraw from the presidential campaign,” said Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.). “The stakes are high, and we are on a losing course.”

    Just minutes earlier, Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, also called on Biden to step aside in a post on X. And purple-district Rep. Eric Sorensen (D-Ill.) wrote on X: “I am hopeful President Biden will step aside in his campaign for President.”

    Republicans also piled on.

    […] “I think he convinced a lot of people he should stay in the race,” said Rep. Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat

    Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill) said in an interview on CNN that Biden “did a fine job” during the news conference but added, “We can’t have a situation where every day we are holding our breath. Whether it’s a press conference, debate or a rally.”

    […] the press conference wasn’t as bad as some Democrats feared. Biden demonstrated his deep knowledge of foreign policy — including his role in expanding NATO and a complex response to a question about China. He defended his accomplishments, including legislation to bring high-tech manufacturing back to the U.S. and working to bring down inflation and spur employment. […]


  195. John Morales says

    I note whoever Alex Cole may be, knowing know how to spell ‘Hannibal Lecter’ is not one of their abilities.

    (Sorry, was a bit bowled over by all the gushing)

  196. KG says

    Commentators and politicians cherry-picked parts of the press conference that they thought proved their points. – Lynna, OM@255

    If Biden was actually fit to stand (let alone remain President until 2029), those calling on him to go would not be able to cherry-pick anything. As it is, it looks increasingly likely the USA will be run by President Putin and Vice-President Trump come January.

  197. birgerjohansson says

    The Guardian 
    “Lowest turnout in UK general election since universal suffrage, report shows: | General election 2024
    Yep. When voters feel nobody listens, participation drops and dangerous populists get support.
    The Guardian
    “Disinformation networks ‘flooded’ X before EU elections, report says” | European Union |

  198. John Morales says

    Just apply John’s Rule of Headlines:

    “Time might be a mirage created by quantum physics, study suggests”
    “Time might not be a mirage created by quantum physics, study suggests”
    are the very same headline.

    (not even gonna look at it, but that lack of quantification is suggestive)

    Anyway, that’s definitely within Sabine’s expert purview.

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