Monday, July 6, 2020

Indepen-Dunce Week: Follow The Money

The two-thirds of a trillion or so in Trump regime "small business loans" that I told you was going to turn into massive corporate graft, sleaze, and outright theft was even worse than anyone could have known and in tens of thousands of cases not a single job was saved as they took the money and ran.

Data released Monday by the Small Business Administration show that businesses owned by members of Congress and the law practice that represented President Trump were among the hundreds of thousands of firms that received aid from the agency.

As part of its $660 billion small business relief program, the SBA also handed out loans to private schools catering to elite clientele, firms owned by foreign companies and large chains backed by well-heeled Wall Street firms. Nearly 90,000 companies in the program took the aid without promising on their applications they would rehire workers or create jobs.
The data, which was released after weeks of pressure from media outlets and lawmakers, paints a picture of a haphazard first-come, first-serve program that was not designed to evaluate the relative need of the recipients. While it buttressed a swath of industries and entities, including restaurants, medical offices, car dealerships, law firms and nonprofits, the agency did not filter out companies that have potential conflicts of interest among influential Washington figures.

Several major chains owned by big investment firms, including PF Changs, Legal Sea Foods, and Silver Diner, received millions of dollars, which may rekindle questions about whether large companies with Wall Street connections should accept the money or not. Over the past weeks, dozens of publicly traded companies returned money after they were told by the Treasury Department that the program was not meant for large, well-capitalized companies.
Companies applying for the money were required to certify that the money was “necessary to support the ongoing operations,” while taking into account “their ability to access other sources of liquidity," the SBA’s website states.

Treasury and SBA spokespersons declined to comment. Other administration officials declined to speak on the record about the data.

“We think we’ve done a reasonably good job of suggesting that those who were not going to be able to meet the certification should have returned money,” said one senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to follow the administration’s rules for releasing the information.

And of course, members of Congress outright looted the Treasury, nearly all of them Republicans.

Among some of those receiving relief were Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s family’s shipping business. In addition, at least seven members of Congress or their spouses received loans, including lawmakers who were directly involved in shaping regulations and also benefited from a blanket waiver of ethics concerns.

Among the loan recipients disclosed is KTAK Corporation, a Tulsa-based operator of fast food franchises owned by Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.). Hern had advocated to increase the size of loans available to franchises, including in a March letter to Senate leaders Mitch McConnell and Charles E. Schumer.
KTAK reported receiving between $1 million and $2 million to support 220 jobs. Hern spokeswoman Miranda Dabney said the letter was “a bipartisan idea meant to simplify the way loans were calculated,” and said the franchise rule that Hern advocated for did not benefit KTAK because it employs fewer than 500 people.

“These PPP loans are all about paying employees so any expansion or increased funding measures were aimed at helping employees of franchisees stay employed,” Dabney said. “The whole program was designed to keep people off of unemployment.”

Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) benefited when three of his car dealerships, located outside of Pittsburgh, received a combined total of between $450,000 and $1.05 million to retain 97 jobs, according to the data.

Kelly is not involved in the day-to-day operations of his auto dealerships, said spokesman Andrew Eisenberger, and did not participate in discussions between the dealerships and the PPP lender. 
“Kelly’s small family business employs more than 200 western Pennsylvanians whose jobs were at risk because of [Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s] business shut down order,” Eisenberger said.

Several plumbing businesses affiliated with Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), all based in Broken Arrow, Okla., each received between $350,000 and $1 million. A spokeswoman said Rep. Mullin is not involved in the day-to-day operation of his businesses.

The rich took the cash, fired employees anyway, and pocketed hundreds of billions.

"But Zandar, they have to pay it back, right?"

Sure, they pull accounting tricks and write off losses.

Meanwhile, tens of millions of us lost jobs and the rent's due.

Indepen-Dunce Week: Retribution Execution

The Trump regime's future fascism can ill afford another incident where the Pentagon talks him out of US troops putting a few thousand rounds into protesters, so the loyalty checks and purges are on in the Defense Department.

A pair of 20-something White House staffers will begin conducting interviews with political appointees at the Defense Department starting next week, three current and former U.S. officials told Foreign Policy, a move that some fear could lead to more dismissals of Pentagon officials considered disloyal to President Donald Trump.
The White House liaison office sent an email to political appointees at the Pentagon on Wednesday, inviting officials to schedule a meeting with representatives from the Presidential Personnel Office (PPO). The message, described in detail to Foreign Policy, touts the meetings as a platform for noncareer officials to show off their credentials for a position in a possible second Trump term.

Advertised as “office calls,” the meetings over the course of several weeks will include each political appointee in the Pentagon, from presidentially appointed and Senate-confirmed appointees to their subordinates, according to the email. “This is an opportunity for each appointee to discuss their career and interests for 2021 and beyond,” the email said.
The interviews will be conducted by two subordinates of John McEntee, Trump’s former body man who now runs the personnel office: John Troup Hemenway, an undergraduate student at the University of Virginia, and Jordan Hayley, who graduated from Liberty University in June and heads up PPO’s external relations. Politico first reported in April that Hayley had joined PPO, after Hemenway was brought on in March.

“These meetings were set up by DoD so that our political appointees could discuss second-term opportunities at the Department and throughout the administration,” Chief Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Rath Hoffman told Foreign Policy.

Though the email described to Foreign Policy appears to include all appointed Pentagon officials, a defense official said senior officials such as Defense Secretary Mark Esper are not intended to participate and described the meetings as nonmandatory. Following interviews at the Pentagon, White House personnel are also expected to interview appointees at the State Department and Department of Homeland Security in the coming weeks, officials familiar with the matter said.

But current and former officials who spoke to Foreign Policy worry that the 30-minute interviews will be used to root out officials who aren’t seen as sufficiently loyal to Trump, as the Pentagon has been rocked by the recent departures of several top appointees who broke with the White House on the hold of military aid to Ukraine or had ties to Trump’s political foes.

“I think the assumption is correct—aligned with Trump or you’re out,” a former senior Trump administration official told Foreign Policy.

“Suffice it to say that in my 30 years in government I am unaware of anything quite like this,” Eric Edelman, a former Pentagon policy chief during the George W. Bush administration, told Foreign Policy in an email.

Foreign Policy reported this week that the McEntee-led PPO has been pushing for Rich Higgins, a former National Security Council staffer under Trump fired for a memo that alleged “deep state” political actors were conspiring to overthrow the president, to be hired for a top job in the Pentagon over objections from inside the department. Moving loyalists into political appointments at the Pentagon could position them to move into higher-level jobs if Trump is reelected in November.

The news of the interviews also comes after high-profile departures of officials perceived as disloyal to Trump. The resignation of Kathryn Wheelbarger, who performed the duties of assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs for nearly two years, will become effective on Saturday, after the White House dropped her intended nomination for a top Pentagon intelligence post.

Other recent Pentagon exits appear to be casualties of the House’s impeachment of Trump. Elaine McCusker resigned her role as acting comptroller in June. She was removed from consideration for the permanent post after raising questions about Trump’s aid freeze to Ukraine at the center of the impeachment trial. Former Pentagon policy chief John Rood was also fired in February after finding himself at odds with the president on Ukraine and other behind-the-scenes clashes with the White House

So yeah, just remember, a second Trump term means a rubber stamp military that will obey not the Constitution, not the rule of law, but Trump.

And only Trump.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Last Call For Indepen-Dunce Week

Taking the week off to recharge, as it's been necessary to do so.  I'll post at least one thing daily, but right now it's time to decompress a bit.

The fireworks in DC got hot last night.

As the official fireworks show began over the National Mall, some people gathered at Black Lives Matter Plaza offered up a counter narrative in the form of Lift Every Voice and Sing, the Black national anthem. Others opted instead to chant “fuck your fireworks.”

The plaza played host to protesters throughout the day, a largely tension-free scene as demonstrators continued to demand racial justice. But as Independence Day shifted to night, a series of small confrontations played out, a microcosm of ongoing debate about the right tactics to confront white supremacy.

Around 10:40, a group of Trump supporters walked through, only for protesters to escort them out. Another person walked through, and a protester through his red hat over a fence.

Some protesters wanted to get more physical with the president’s supporters, while others just wanted to help facilitate their exit. Police eventually formed a line to prevent the Trump supporters from reentering the plaza on Vermont Ave.

Earlier in the night—just before the official Fourth of July military flyovers began—a small group of protesters gathered for a “Flag-Burning Challenge,” where they set small U.S. flags alight before eventually torching a larger flag that was laying on the ground. The event sparked a brief scuffle, as other protesters tried to stop the flag-burning from happening.

“This is what they want, don’t give it to them,” said one person, alluding to how the act could generate negative coverage of the movement. (Stories about the flag-burning quickly started circulating in right-wing media.)

But for Jamel Mims of the New York City Revolution Club, burning the U.S. flag was justifiable.

“[Trump has] fucking called us terrorists, and called those people, that lynch mob that he’s enabled, ‘fine people.’ And so those fireworks represent a fucking disgrace, and that flag represents the ugly history of that country and its ugly present,” he said. “And there’s only one way to properly display it: fucking on fire.”

The country is burning in more ways than one.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

Another Black Lives Matter protester was killed in Seattle by a car, run over by an angry driver who deliberately drove onto a closed highway and hit two protesters.

A 24-year-old woman died Saturday of her injuries after she and another woman were hit by a car on a closed highway in Seattle while protesting against police brutality, authorities said.
Summer Taylor of Seattle died in the evening at Harborview Medical Center, spokeswoman Susan Gregg said.

Taylor and Diaz Love, 32, of Portland, Oregon, were hit by the car that barreled through a panicked crowd of protesters on Interstate 5 early Saturday morning, officials said.

Dawit Kelete of Seattle drove the car around vehicles that were blocking I-5 and sped into the crowd about 1:40 a.m., according to a police report released by the Washington State Patrol. Video taken at the scene by protesters showed people shouting “Car! Car!” before fleeing the roadway.

Love is in serious condition in the intensive care unit, Harborview, Gregg said.

Love was filming the protest in a nearly two-hour-long Facebook livestream captioned “Black Femme March takes I-5” when the video ended abruptly; with about 15 seconds left, shouts of “Car!” can be heard as the camera starts to shake before screeching tires and the sound of impact are heard.

A graphic video posted on social media showed the white Jaguar racing toward a group of protesters who are standing behind several parked cars, set up for protection. The car swerves around the other vehicles and slams into the two women, sending them flying into the air.

The driver, who was alone, fled the scene after hitting the protesters, Trooper Chase Van Cleave told The Associated Press. One of the protesters got in a car and chased the driver for about a mile. He was able to stop him by pulling his car in front of the Jaguar, Van Cleave said.

Troopers arrived, and the driver was put in custody, Washington State Patrol Capt. Ron Mead said.

Kelete was described by offices as reserved and sullen when he was arrested, according to court documents. He also asked if the pedestrians were OK, the documents say.

Kelete was booked into the King County Correctional Facility on Saturday morning on two counts of vehicular assault. Bail was denied.

A judge found probable cause to hold Kelete on an investigation of vehicular assault. He faces a second court hearing on Monday at which the judge will determine if he can be released on bail, according to court documents.

It was not immediately clear if Kelete had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.

Officials were trying to determine the motive as well as where he got onto the interstate, which had been closed by the state patrol for more than an hour before the women were hit. Mead said they suspect Kelete drove the wrong way on a ramp. Trooper Rick Johnson said the driver went through a barrier that closed the freeway before striking the women.

Troopers did not know whether it was a targeted attack, but impairment was not considered a factor, Mead said.

The cops are shrugging and saying that protesters shouldn't be on the road, and that state police in Washington can't -- and won't -- guarantee safety.

Black Lives Still Matter.

Sunday Long Read: Why It Was Never Mueller Time

Legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin goes over the autopsy report of the Mueller Report's death on arrival in this week's Sunday Long Read , and how the Justice Department was able to defuse it from his first day on the job. In hindsight it was clear how Mueller's careful, by-the-book actions were doomed from the start, and all of them, save Michael Cohen's conviction, will be undone by the time Trump leaves office.

Robert Mueller submitted his final report as the special counsel more than a year ago. But even now—in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and the Administration’s tragically bungled response to it, and the mass demonstrations following the killings by police of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others—President Trump remains obsessed with what he recently called, on Twitter, the “Greatest Political Crime in the History of the U.S., the Russian Witch-Hunt.” In the past several months, the President has mobilized his Administration and its supporters to prove that, from its inception, the F.B.I.’s investigation into possible ties between his 2016 campaign and the Russian government was flawed, or worse. Attorney General William Barr has directed John Durham, the United States Attorney in Connecticut, to conduct a criminal investigation into whether F.B.I. officials, or anyone else, engaged in misconduct at the outset. Senator Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has also convened hearings on the investigation’s origins.

The President has tweeted about Mueller more than three hundred times, and has repeatedly referred to the special counsel’s investigation as a “scam” and a “hoax.” Barr and Graham agree that the Mueller investigation was illegitimate in conception and excessive in execution—in Barr’s words, “a grave injustice” that was “unprecedented in American history.” According to the Administration, Mueller and his team displayed an unseemly eagerness to uncover crimes that never existed. In fact, the opposite is true. Mueller had an abundance of legitimate targets to investigate, and his failures emerged from an excess of caution, not of zeal. Especially when it came to Trump, Mueller avoided confrontations that he should have welcomed. He never issued a grand-jury subpoena for the President’s testimony, and even though his office built a compelling case for Trump’s having committed obstruction of justice, Mueller came up with reasons not to say so in his report. In light of this, Trump shouldn’t be denouncing Mueller—he should be thanking him.

The events that led to Mueller’s appointment began shortly after Trump took office, when he met several times with James Comey, the director of the F.B.I. Over dinner at the White House, on January 27, 2017, Trump said that he expected “loyalty” from Comey—specifically, as he would later make clear, he wanted an announcement from the F.B.I. that he was not under suspicion for misconduct with Russia during the campaign. At the time, Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national-security adviser, was being investigated for lying to the F.B.I. As Comey later testified, on February 14th, at a meeting in the Oval Office, the President told everyone else to leave, then asked Comey to drop the investigation of Flynn. “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump said. “He is a good guy.”

Comey declined either to publicly clear Trump of wrongdoing or to close the investigation of Flynn, and the President resolved to fire him. On May 8, 2017, Trump told Rod Rosenstein, who had recently been confirmed as the Deputy Attorney General, to write a memo describing Comey’s performance as the F.B.I. director, in particular his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of private e-mail. The following day, Rosenstein submitted the memo and Trump fired Comey. Sean Spicer, the President’s press secretary, told reporters that the President had done so for the reasons stated in Rosenstein’s memo, but, as Trump soon confirmed in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt and in a conversation with visiting Russian officials, the real reason was related to the Russia investigation.

Rosenstein was distraught over how the White House had used his memo. Concerned about Trump’s firing of Comey, he named an independent prosecutor, now known as a special counsel, to look into a possible connection between the Trump campaign and Russia. (Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, had recused himself from matters relating to Russia.) Rosenstein didn’t consider anyone except Mueller for the post. Mueller had both the skills and the bipartisan credibility that the job required. Having worked in the Justice Department during the Cold War, he hardly needed lessons on the malign intentions of the government in Moscow. Mueller had been a federal prosecutor in the nineteen-eighties, the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division during the George H. W. Bush Administration, and then, starting in 2001, the F.B.I. director for twelve years. Until May 17th, when Rosenstein named him as the special counsel, Mueller knew very little about the state of the Russia investigation. Andrew McCabe, who, as Comey’s former deputy, was the acting director of the F.B.I., invited Mueller to the J. Edgar Hoover Building for a briefing.

At the first Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Russia investigation, on June 3, 2020, Graham opened the proceedings by saying, “It’s important to find out what the hell happened.” He wanted to know whether, when Mueller was appointed, there was any evidence that Trump’s campaign had been colluding with the Russians. McCabe’s briefing of Mueller, along with a subsequent meeting between Mueller and Rosenstein—neither of which has been previously reported—begin to address Graham’s question. These meetings demonstrate that, from the beginning, Mueller was instructed to conduct a narrow, fact-based criminal investigation.

The new information here is the mettings between Mueller and Andrew McCabe, and Mueller and Rod Rosenstein, with the express intent of limiting the scope of Mueller's investigation in order to make sure there was no indication of impropriety.  Mueller of course had no defense against being constantly accused of it, and the investigation found nothing on Trump himself that he could reveal. Toobin goes on to reveal that as most of us suspected, the Mueller team was handcuffed from day one because they didn't know how to deal with cheaters like Trump and especially Barr.

In other words, Mueller was told not to exceed his mandate.  He didn't.  And it cost the country everything, as the regime has been able to hide all the evidence since then, including the grand jury testimony, from House Democrats.  It's entirely possible that we'll never know the full story of what Trump did with Russia for years, if ever.

In all honestly think Joe Biden's first act as President should be to declassify the entire Mueller report and make it public. It won't happen, but it needs to.

The GOP's Race To The Bottom, Con't

The political, social, economic and electoral story of the last decade in America is the vast demographics change in the country's non-Hispanic white population, or rather, the non-change. The number of white Americans has essentially remained unchanged since 2010 according to preliminary census data analysis by the Brookings Institution.

U.S. racial and ethnic minorities accounted for all of the nation’s population growth during the last decade, according to new Census Bureau estimates.

The data underscore the nation’s growing diversity and suggest that the trend will continue as the White population ages and low birth rates translate to a declining share. Non-Hispanic Whites declined to 60.1% of the populace in 2019 and their number shrank by about 9,000 from the 2010 Census to slightly more than 197 million.
Over the same period, the U.S. added 10.1 million people identified as Hispanic. The median age for White non-Hispanics rose to 43.7 years — more than a decade older than the median Hispanic of any race — with Black and Asian American residents in between.

“The declining White population share is pervasive across the nation,” according to a report by William Frey, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. The decline was “accentuated in the past few years by a reduction of births among young adult White women and an uptick in deaths, perhaps associated with drug-related ‘deaths of despair.’”

If the data are confirmed by the 2020 census that’s underway, the decade after 2010 would be the first one since the first population count was taken in 1790 that the White population didn’t grow, according to Frey.
White people’s share of the population declined in all 50 states, increasing only in the District of Columbia, according to the Brookings analysis. It fell in 358 of the 364 U.S. metropolitan areas and in 3,012 of its 3,141 counties.

Everything the GOP is doing, the Trump regime is doing, the white supremacists are doing, is driven by this.  All the racism, all the voter suppression, all the redlining, all the immigration stuff, all the deportations and kids in cages and school funding devastation and abortion TRAP laws and and all of it, all of it in service of raising that percentage of white Americans that has fallen now to sixty percent, trying to save the dying system of white supremacy in America.

I repeat.


Everything they have done has been in service to white supremacy, yes.  But now for the first time it is in real danger because white people are simply being outpopulated by the rest of us.

That's it.  That's the entire deal, folks.

Thanks for coming out.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

A Capital Punishment Fourth

Donald Trump went full on white nationalist last night in a disgusting speech at Mount Rushmore, all but declaring millions of Black Lives Matter protesters, supporters, speakers and activists to be enemies of the state to be crushed under his heel, and he made it very clear that his supporters should take action against them.

President Donald Trump devoted his Fourth of July weekend speech at Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota on Friday night not to uniting the country for Independence Day, but to trying to own the libs who take issue with the Confederate statues he sees as vital to American culture.

“There is a new far-left fascism that demands absolute allegiance,” Trump proclaimed to supporters who came out to see him in spite of the recent surge in coronavirus cases in the United States. “This left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution,” the president said, before repeatedly going on to compare himself and his supporters to Patriots during the American Revolution—and protesters to members of the British Army.
Speaking as if preparing his political supporters for battle, he said, “Just as patriots did in centuries past, the American people will stand in their way, and we will win, and win quickly.”

“Their goal is not a better America. Their goal is to end America,” he said of the “radical left” who he claimed is intent on “indoctrinating our children.”

“We will not be tyrannized, we will not be demeaned, we will not be intimidated by bad, evil people,” he said.

Following weeks of a resilient pandemic, a still-cratered U.S. economy, and his ongoing diminished standing in the polls against presumptive Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden, the president decided to focus heavily Friday evening on protesters and Black Lives Matter activists who want various American monuments, including those honoring Confederate, white-supremacist, and slave-owning figures of history, torn down and destroyed for good.
“Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders,” he said. “They think the American people are weak, and soft, and submissive.”

To prove that he has taken decisive action against protesters who want to tear down monuments, the president claimed he has taken executive action to ensure anyone caught defacing federal statues or monuments gets a 10-year prison term, even though a law mandating such a sentence for such a crime has already been on the books for almost two decades. Perhaps sensing that the prison term would not be enough, Trump went on to announce further executive action for the creation of a “national garden of American heroes,” an outdoor park that will be home to statues of “the greatest Americans to ever live.”

Trump also appeared to take a shot at former Vice President Biden, saying, “no person who remains quiet at the destruction of this resplendent heritage can possibly lead us to a better future.”

The rhetoric of a needed second American revolution, a violent civil war that will be won "quickly" by Trump and his supporters against "bad, evil people" who are trying to "destroy our culture" is stock white supremacist propaganda.

"We will never let them rip America’s heroes from our monuments or from our hearts. By tearing down Washington and Jefferson, these radicals would tear down the very heritage for which men gave their lives to win the Civil War, they would erase the memory that inspired those soldiers to go to their deaths, singing these words of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, “As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, while God is marching on.” They would tear down the principles that propelled the abolition of slavery and ultimately around the world ending an evil institution that had plagued humanity for thousands and thousands of years. Our opponents would tear apart the very documents that Martin Luther King used to express his dream and the ideas that were the foundation of the righteous movement for Civil Rights. They would tear down the beliefs, culture and identity, that have made America the most vibrant and tolerant society in the history of the earth. My fellow Americans, it is time to speak up loudly and strongly and powerfully and defend the integrity of our country."

On the Third of July, Donald Trump declared war on his own people.

We are the country of Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Frederick Douglas. We are the land of Wild Bill Hickock and Buffalo Bill Cody. We are the nation that gave rise to the Wright brothers, the Tuskegee airmen, Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, Jesse Owens, George Patton, General George Patton, the great Louis Armstrong, Alan Shepard, Elvis Presley, and Muhammad Ali, and only America could have produced them all. No other place.

Starting off a list of famous Black Americans with "We are the country of Andrew Jackson" is everything you need to know about Trump and his ilk.  Yes, Black America is mentioned. After Andrew Jackson, one of the worst racists this country ever had leading it. Again, full-on white nationalist propaganda while the 99% white crowd screamed USA USA USA USA.

And all the while, thousands are dying to a pandemic while he's talking about statues.

There's a war coming, folks. An absolute bloodbath.

In the days after George Floyd's death in police custody in Minneapolis last month, as massive protests against police brutality spread across Texas and other states, conservative power broker Steve Hotze of Houston called Gov. Greg Abbott's chief of staff to pass along a message.

"I want you to give a message to the governor," Hotze told Abbott's chief of staff, Luis Saenz, in a voicemail. "I want to make sure that he has National Guard down here and they have the order to shoot to kill if any of these son-of-a-bitch people start rioting like they have in Dallas, start tearing down businesses — shoot to kill the son of a bitches. That’s the only way you restore order. Kill ‘em. Thank you."

The voicemail, which The Texas Tribune obtained Friday via a public information request, came on the weekend of June 6, several days after Abbott activated the Texas National Guard as some of the protests became violent. It is unclear whether Saenz responded, and Abbott's office declined to comment on the voicemail.

A Hotze spokesperson said he was not immediately available for comment. However, several hours after the publication of this story, Hotze shared it on his personal Facebook page and another Facebook page affiliated with him.

They fantasize about butchering us, lynching us, slaughtering us. What about the rest of the Republican party? Are they going to go full white supremacist too?

On Capitol Hill, some Republicans fret — mostly privately to avoid his wrath — that Trump’s fixation on racial and other cultural issues leaves their party running against the currents of change. Coupled with the coronavirus pandemic and related economic crisis, these Republicans fear he is not only seriously impairing his reelection chances, but also jeopardizing the GOP Senate majority and its strength in the House.

“The Senate incumbent candidates are not taking the bait and are staying as far away from this as they can,” said Scott Reed, a veteran Republican operative and chief strategist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has invested heavily in keeping GOP control of the Senate. “The problem is this is no longer just Trump’s Twitter feed. It’s expanded to the podium, and that makes it more and more difficult for these campaigns.

Trump has all but ignored the outcry and remains convinced that following his own instincts on race and channeling the grievances of his core base of white voters will carry him to victory against former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, according to a White House official and an outside Trump adviser who requested anonymity to speak candidly.

“It’s the 2016 campaign all over again, when we had the Muslim ban and the wall, just add Confederate statues,” the outside adviser said.

Trump allies say insist president’s words and actions are not racist, but rather attentive to his core voters.

“President Trump has been more exposed to black people, black leaders and black culture than most previous presidents,” said Armstrong Williams, a longtime adviser to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. “He doesn’t see the implications of his tweets in the way that his critics do. He just loves his supporters.”

Williams added, “This is someone who spoke at length on the phone to Don King on election night — I was with Trump when he took the call. This is someone who welcomed Kanye West at the White House. That’s who Trump is.”

Not all of Trump's enablers are Republican politicians, but all of them are cowards and lickspittles.

If he gets a second term, we're done as a country, as a people, as a superpower, as a real nation, and we will all suffer.

Some more than others.

The Regime Goes Viral

The message from the White House on 50,000 new COVID-19 cases per day: you're on your own, learn to live with it.

After several months of mixed messages on the coronavirus pandemic, the White House is settling on a new one: Learn to live with it. 
Administration officials are planning to intensify what they hope is a sharper, and less conflicting, message of the pandemic next week, according to senior administration officials, after struggling to offer clear directives amid a crippling surge in cases across the country. On Thursday, the United States reported more than 55,000 new cases of coronavirus and infection rates were hitting new records in multiple states.

At the crux of the message, officials said, is a recognition by the White House that the virus is not going away any time soon — and will be around through the November election. 
As a result, President Donald Trump's top advisers plan to argue, the country must figure out how to press forward despite it. Therapeutic drugs will be showcased as a key component for doing that and the White House will increasingly emphasize the relatively low risk most Americans have of dying from the virus, officials said.

So after months of calling the virus a hoax, the Trump regime now says "Oh well, the virus is here, get back to work, school, church and play."

Eager to move forward and reopen the economy amid a recession and a looming presidential election, the White House is now pushing acceptance. 
"The virus is with us, but we need to live with it," is how one official said the administration plans to message on the pandemic. 
As often is the case with plans crafted for Trump by his aides, the question hanging over this effort is whether he will stick to the script. Trump said this week that he's "all for masks," after months of resisting pressure for him to embrace face coverings. Yet in that same interview with Fox Business on Wednesday, the president said the virus will "just disappear, I hope." 
That's not the message senior administration officials said they're preparing, and some of the president's allies have cringed when he's talked in the past about the virus disappearing, only to then see it further spread. 
Next week administration officials plan to promote a new study they say shows promising results on therapeutics, the officials said. They wouldn't describe the study in any further detail because, they said, its disclosure would be "market-moving." 
Officials also plan to emphasize high survival rates, particularly for Americans who are within certain age groups and don't have underlying conditions. The overall death rate from COVID-19 in the U.S. has been on the decline. More than 130,000 Americans have died of the virus. 
Trump is expected to be briefed by Dr. Deborah Birx, one of the most visible members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, before Monday on her assessment of new hot spots that she's visited this week, including what governors have said they need and how the new surge is affecting minority communities, officials said. Birx was in Florida, Texas and Arizona this week.

Accept that we're not going to lift a finger to help you and your family, accept that people you know are going to die from the virus, and accept that you and your loved ones will need to take risks we've determined as acceptable.

Rent's due.

Put on a mask or don't, we don't care.  But get back to work or you're out on the streets.  Good luck avoiding COVID-19 then.

Accept it.

You don't have much of a choice, now do you?

Friday, July 3, 2020

Last Call For Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

The Black Lives Matter movement in June may have been the largest protest movement in American history, an astounding number well into the millions -- if not tens of millions -- nationwide.

The recent Black Lives Matter protests peaked on June 6, when half a million people turned out in nearly 550 places across the United States. That was a single day in more than a month of protests that still continue to today.

Four recent polls — including one released this week by Civis Analytics, data science firm that works with businesses and Democratic campaigns — suggest that about 15 million to 26 million people in the United States have participated in demonstrations over the death of George Floyd and others in recent weeks.

These figures would make the recent protests the largest movement in the country’s history, according to interviews with scholars and crowd-counting experts.

“I’ve never seen self-reports of protest participation that high for a specific issue over such a short period,” said Neal Caren, associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who studies social movements in the United States.

While it’s possible that more people said they protested than actually did, even if only half told the truth, the surveys suggest more than seven million people participated in recent demonstrations.

The Women’s March of 2017 had a turnout of about three million to five million people on a single day, but that was a highly organized event. Collectively, the recent Black Lives Matter protests — more organic in nature — appear to have far surpassed those numbers, according to polls.

“Really, it’s hard to overstate the scale of this movement,” said Deva Woodly, an associate professor of politics at the New School.

Professor Woodly said that the civil rights marches in the 1960s were considerably smaller in number. “If we added up all those protests during that period, we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people, but not millions,” she said.

Even protests to unseat government leadership or for independence typically succeed when they involve 3.5 percent of the population at their peak, according to a review of international protests by Erica Chenoweth, a professor at Harvard Kennedy School who co-directs the Crowd Counting Consortium, which collects data on crowd sizes of political protests. 
Precise turnout at protests is difficult to count and has led to some famous disputes. An amalgam of estimates from organizers, the police and local news reports often make up the official total.

But tallies by teams of crowd counters are revealing numbers of extraordinary scale. On June 6, for example, at least 50,000 people turned out in Philadelphia, 20,000 in Chicago’s Union Park and up to 10,000 on the Golden Gate Bridge, according to estimates by Edwin Chow, an associate professor at Texas State University, and researchers at the Crowd Counting Consortium.

Across the United States, there have been more than 4,700 demonstrations, or an average of 140 per day, since the first protests began in Minneapolis on May 26, according to a Times analysis. Turnout has ranged from dozens to tens of thousands in about 2,500 small towns and large cities

If the numbers are correct than anywhere from 6-10% of all Americans joined BLM protests in June. It's different this time because we participated in numbers literally too big to ignore, and now the Trump regime is terrified.

Black Lives Still Matter.

Biden, His Time, Con't

The polls continue to look good for Joe Biden heading into July, at least according to the latest Monmouth University national survey of which candidate people know they won't vote for.

Half of the nation’s electorate says they have ruled out voting for Donald Trump in November, while 4 in 10 say the same about Joe Biden. Biden currently holds a 12 point lead in the presidential race according to the latest Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll. Biden holds a significant advantage among the 1 in 5 voters who do not have a favorable opinion of either candidate. Slightly more voters say they are confident about the challenger’s mental and physical stamina than say the same about the incumbent.

Biden currently has the support of 53% of registered voters and Trump has the support of 41%. This is similar to the Democrat’s 52% to 41% lead in early June. Biden’s edge stood at 50% to 41% in May, 48% to 44% in April, and 48% to 45% in March.

Slightly more voters say they are certain about their support for Biden (40%) than say the same about Trump (34%). Fully half (50%), though, say they are not at all likely to support the incumbent while 39% say the same about the challenger. In addition to Biden’s current firm support, another 3% say they are very likely to vote for him and 9% are somewhat likely, while 6% are not too likely. In addition to Trump’s current firm support, another 2% say they are very likely to vote for him and 6% are somewhat likely, while 6% are not too likely. Among white voters with a college degree, 62% have ruled out a vote for Trump while just 31% say the same about Biden. On the other hand, 56% of white voters without a college degree are not at all likely to support Biden while 37% say the same about Trump. Among voters from other racial or ethnic groups, 61% have ruled out Trump and just 22% say the same for Biden.

“Half of all registered voters have ruled out backing Trump. Trump showed in 2016 that he can thread the needle, but these results suggest the president has even less room for error in 2020. He must convert some of those unlikely supporters if he is to win a second term,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

A key difference from four years ago is that fewer voters have a negative opinion of the Democratic nominee. Biden’s rating stands at 44% favorable and 44% unfavorable. It was 42%–49% in early June. Hillary Clinton’s rating in July 2016 was 34% favorable and 52% unfavorable. Trump currently has a negative 38% favorable and 55% unfavorable opinion. It was 38%–57% in early June. As a candidate four years ago, he held a 31% favorable and 53% unfavorable rating.

Overall, 21% of all registered voters do not have a favorable opinion of either party’s nominee. Trump did well with this “double negative” group in 2016. The National Election Pool exit poll showed him ultimately winning their vote after Clinton held a small edge throughout the campaign. But he is getting swamped among these voters this time around. Biden leads by 55% to 21% among this group.

No need to tell you once again that the Hillary hate spread by the media in the last two weeks of the election especially was what put Trump in the White House, but it looks like all that is backfiring on Trump four years later.

If half of voters have ruled Trump out, he can't win.

Russian To Judgment, Con't

If it's actually possible, somehow the Russia bounty scandal just keeps getting worse for the Trump regime as the NY Times is reporting that Afghan military contractors were the middlemen when it came to paying Taliban militia for Russian bounties on the heads of US troops.

He was a lowly drug smuggler, neighbors and relatives say, then ventured into contracting, seeking a slice of the billions of dollars the U.S.-led coalition was funneling into construction projects in Afghanistan.

But he really began to show off his wealth in recent years, after establishing a base in Russia, though how he earned those riches remained mysterious. On his regular trips home to northern Afghanistan, he drove the latest model cars, protected by bodyguards, and his house was recently upgraded to a four-story villa.

Now Rahmatullah Azizi stands as a central piece of a puzzle rocking Washington, named in American intelligence reports and confirmed by Afghan officials as a key middleman who for years handed out money from a Russian military intelligence unit to reward Taliban-linked fighters for targeting American troops in Afghanistan, according to American and Afghan officials.

As security agencies connected the dots of the bounty scheme and narrowed in on him, they carried out sweeping raids to arrest dozens of his relatives and associates about six months ago, but discovered that Mr. Azizi had sneaked out of Afghanistan and was likely back in Russia. What they did find in one of his homes, in Kabul, was about half a million dollars in cash.

American and Afghan officials have maintained for years that Russia was running clandestine operations to undermine the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and aid the Taliban.

But U.S. officials only recently concluded that a Russian spy agency was paying bounties for killing coalition troops, including Americans, which the Kremlin and the Taliban have denied.

According to officials briefed on the matter, U.S. intelligence officials believe the program is run by Unit 29155, an arm of the Russian military intelligence agency known as the G.R.U. that has carried out assassinations and other operations overseas.

That a conduit for the payments would be someone like Mr. Azizi — tied to the American reconstruction effort, enmeshed in the regional netherworld, but not prominent enough to attract outside attention — speaks to the depth of Russia’s reach into the increasingly complicated Afghan battlefield, exploiting a nexus of crime and terror to strike blows with years of deniability.

Again, this GRU operation was going for years and was part of a larger in-theater effort by Russia to undermine the US and coalition efforts in Afghanistan. Going from the dryly clinical and theoretical "well it's possible somebody may have paid bounties" to "Yes, we have a guy in custody who we know purchased the death of US troops by corrupting local militia with Russian cash" is a hell of a thing, and the Trump regime knows it.

They can't blame this on Obama or Biden. They can't pretend this is fake news, either. More details keep coming out, and it's absolutely devastating.

No, this won't lead to Trump resigning or a magical impeachment scenario, that's dangerous magical thinking for a despot who knows if he leaves office, he spends the rest of his life in prison. But it can lead to a Biden victory so overwhelming that Trump heads for the nearest flight out of town on January 19th.

Again, this one has legs, guys.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Last Call For Tales Of The Trump Depression

The country recovered 4.8 million jobs in June, a massive number that supports evidence of the "V-shaped recovery" that the Trump regime promised. Unfortunately, the evidence doesn't hold up on further inspection.

The US unemployment rate fell to 11.1% as the economy added a record 4.8 million jobs in June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Thursday. 
The data was far better than economists predicted, and the unemployment rate also fell more than expected. It was the second-consecutive month of growth after more than 20 million jobs were wiped out in April during the coronavirus lockdown. The reopening of the economy is easing the burden on America's stressed labor market. 
But after two months of rampant growth, the American economy is still down nearly 14.7 million jobs since February. Although the unemployment rate has come down from 14.7% in April, it remains higher than at any point during the Great Recession. 
A full job market recovery is far from certain as long as the US economy remains in its current, deep recession, and "with the spread of the virus accelerating again, we expect the recovery from here will be a lot bumpier and job gains to be more muted," said Michael Pearce, senior US economist at Capital Economics, in a note. 
America is dealing with a severe joblessness crisis and millions of people are relying on government aid to make ends meet. 
The Department of Labor also reported Thursday that 1.4 million workers -- more than expected -- filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week. While the claims data is collected weekly, the survey for the jobs report wraps around the middle of each month. 
The number of Americans filing for unemployment at least two weeks in a row rose slightly, to 19.3 million. These numbers do not include claims filed for pandemic unemployment assistance. 
For the fourth month in a row, the Labor Department noted that its data collectors misclassified some workers as "employed not at work," when they should have been classified as "unemployed on temporary layoff." If it weren't for that issue, the unemployment rate would have been as high as 12.3% in June. 

Senate Republicans have made sure that help for American workers runs out this month and there's still no plans to take up any more stimulus measures. Rent moratoriums and pandemic unemployment insurance end this month as well.  Basicall, all federal measures to help Americans through the pandemic have ended or will end in the next couple of weeks.

Americans are on their own again. We're still trapped in a deep recession far worse than 2008, if not a major economic depression on par with 1929. And all indications are that from this point forward, things are going to get substantially worse for America.

We're still in the Trump Depression.  It gets bad from here.

The Country Goes Viral, Con't

A new Yale University medical study suggests that the true number of COVID-19 deaths in the US is 25-30% higher than the 130,000 we're at now.

The number of confirmed U.S. deaths due to the coronavirus is substantially lower than the true tally, according to a study published Wednesday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Using National Center for Health Statistics data, researchers at Yale University compared the number of excess U.S. deaths from any causes with the reported number of weekly U.S. Covid-19 deaths from March 1 through May 30. The numbers were then compared with deaths from the same period in previous years.

Researchers found that the excess number of deaths over normal levels also exceeded those attributed to Covid-19, leading them to conclude that many of those fatalities were likely caused by the coronavirus but not confirmed. State reporting discrepancies and a sharp increase in U.S. deaths amid a pandemic suggest the number of Covid-19 fatalities is undercounted, they said. 
“Our analyses suggest that the official tally of deaths due to Covid-19 represent a substantial undercount of the true burden,” Dan Weinberger, an epidemiologist at Yale School of Public Health and a lead author of the study, told CNBC. Weinberger said other factors could contribute to the increase in deaths, such as people avoiding emergency treatment for things like heart attacks. However, he doesn’t think that is the main driver. 
The study was supported by the National Institute of Health. 
The 781,000 total deaths in the United States in the three months through May 30 were about 122,300, or nearly 19% higher, than what would normally be expected, according to the researchers. Of the 122,300 excess deaths, 95,235 were attributed to Covid-19, they said. Most of the rest of the excess deaths, researchers said, were likely related to or directly caused by the coronavirus. 
Covid-19 affects nearly every system in the body, including the circulatory system, leading to an uptick in heart attacks and strokes that physicians now believe were indirectly caused by the virus.

The number of excess deaths from any causes were 28% higher than the official tally of U.S. Covid-19 deaths during those months. The researchers noted the increase in excess deaths in many states trailed an increase in outpatient visits from people reporting an “influenza-like illness.”

So we're really around 165K-170K COVID-19 deaths and that number is most likely going to go up dramatically in the weeks ahead. 50,000 new cases nationally per day will quickly mean several thousand deaths per day by the middle to the end of the month.

As bad as everything is, the reality is much worse.

Stay home, stay safe, mask up.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

Senate Republicans are signaling that they will have a two-thirds majority for passing this year's defense appropriation act with Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren's amendment that will rename several military bases named for Confederate traitors, and will easily be able to override an expected Trump veto.

Senate Republicans were unfazed Wednesday by President Donald Trump’s threat to veto the annual defense policy bill over his opposition to the renaming of U.S. military installations honoring prominent Confederate figures.

The reactions from GOP senators reflected a political reality this week as the Senate prepares to pass the National Defense Authorization Act: That the provision is unlikely to be stripped from the final bill to placate the president.

“It was expected,” Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), an Armed Services Committee member who was supportive of the proposal to rename bases, said of Trump’s veto threat. “You always want to be able to show your support for our military men and women, and that’s what this is about — providing protection for them.”

In fact, most Republican senators said they had no problem at all with Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) amendment, and they said Trump should not veto a bill as vital as the National Defense Authorization Act over minor objections.

“The NDAA is so important and there are so many important elements in it that I don’t believe that alone should be a reason to even vote against it or veto it,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said.

“Ultimately, I don’t think the name of a facility should be something that’s divisive or offensive to people, especially if there are better alternatives to it,” Rubio added. “But it has to be through a process — a considered process.”

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) acknowledged that it might be difficult to work through the amendment process on the behemoth yearly bill, but he noted that it would be several months before the legislation actually reaches Trump’s desk, during which time it could be changed as a result of negotiations between the Senate and House.

“The veto would take place sometime probably in November,” Inhofe said. “And we have a long, long time between now and November. So we’ll see.”

The blasé responses from Senate Republicans followed a midnight tweet from the president in which he said he would veto the defense bill unless the Senate scrubs an amendment from Warren that requires the Pentagon to remove the names of Confederate military figures from all U.S. bases, aircraft and other facilities and equipment within three years.

It’s highly unlikely that Warren’s amendment will be removed from the legislation; it would take 60 votes on the Senate floor to get rid of it. And even if Trump were to veto the bill, it is expected to pass with a veto-proof majority in both chambers.

In other words, the negotiations are "this doesn't pass until the lame duck session after the election."  It saves Trump from an overridden veto showing how weak he is, but it also means Mitch McConnell will sit on the bill for another four months minimum and that it won't help Democrats until after the election, lest McConnell pull the bill entirely and leave the resulting fallout for Biden to clean up.

Which might happen anyway.

Black Lives Still Matter.  Confederate traitors, not as much.


Related Posts with Thumbnails