Saturday, August 8, 2020

The Country Goes Viral, Con't

As the US surpasses 160,000 COVID-19 deaths, a new study from the Institutes for Health Metrics and Evaluation, operated by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, finds that the US could reach 300,000 dead by December 1.

Researchers behind an influential model are projecting that the US death toll from coronavirus could reach nearly 300,000 by December 1 -- but that can be changed if Americans consistently wear masks. 
According to Johns Hopkins University, 159,990 people have died in the United States since the pandemic began. 
"The US forecast totals 295,011 deaths by December," the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation statement says. 
The model doesn't have to come true, said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray: "The public's behavior had a direct correlation to the transmission of the virus and, in turn, the numbers of deaths. 
The statement said that if 95% of the people in the US wear face coverings, the number would decrease to 228,271 deaths, and more than 66,000 lives could be saved.
Murray told CNN his group looks at studies on the effects of mask use and the best estimate is they can cut spread by 40%. 
"You get this really huge effect that accumulates over time," he told Anderson Cooper, "because every individual that is wearing the mask is putting the brakes on transmission by 40%. That starts to add up." 
The model comes the same day the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released an ensemble forecast that projects 181,031 deaths by August 29. 
"State-level ensemble forecasts predict that the number of reported new deaths per week may increase over the next four weeks in Hawaii and Puerto Rico and may decrease in Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, the Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Texas, Vermont and the Virgin Islands." the CDC says on its forecasting website. 
The forecast relies on 24 individual forecasts from outside institutions and researchers.

Again, the biggest single factor in preventing deaths would be a national mask mandate, and that will never happen as long as Republicans are in charge.  We're looking at a third of a million deaths by the end of 2020, meaning COVID-19 would be the third leading cause of death in the US this year, behind only heart disease and cancer.

But we'd have to start now, and Donald Trump will simply never allow that to happen, so tens of thousands of Americans will die as the flu season ramps us this fall and COVID becomes even more rampant, overwhelming hospitals and clinics and people die from secondary knock-on effects.

As many people are going to die as Trump allows.
 

Friday, August 7, 2020

Last Call For Legally Bland

The good news is that House Democrats can enforce subpoenas against former Trump White House officials like former WH Legal Counsel Don McGahn.  The bad news, McGahn also gets to challenge that subpoena in court, and is doing so.

House Democrats can sue to force President Trump’s former White House counsel Donald McGahn to comply with a congressional subpoena, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

In a 7-2 decision, the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirmed Congress’s oversight powers and said the House has a long-standing right to force government officials to testify and produce documents. The ruling came in one of a set of historic clashes between the White House and Democratic lawmakers.
The “effective functioning of the Legislative Branch critically depends on the legislative prerogative to obtain information, and constitutional structure and historical practice support judicial enforcement of congressional subpoenas when necessary,” Judge Judith W. Rogers wrote for the majority.

The decision is a legal victory for House Democrats, but the ruling does not mean that McGahn will immediately appear on Capitol Hill. The court sent the case back to the initial three-judge panel, which had ruled against the House, to consider McGahn’s other challenges to the subpoena. The timeline makes it unlikely that the case will be resolved before Congress adjourns in January and the subpoena expires.
The opinion also cleared the way for a second House lawsuit, finding that lawmakers are not barred from going to court to challenge the Trump administration to block the diversion of billions of dollars to build the president’s signature southern border wall. 
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), whose panel issued the subpoena, said the decision in the McGahn case “strikes a blow against the wall of impunity that President Trump has tried to build for himself.”

He pointed to a pair of Supreme Court decisions in July rejecting the president’s claims of sweeping immunity from investigations by a state prosecutor and Congress.

“No one—not even the President—is above the law,” Nadler said in a statement.

In response to the rulings, Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said, “While we strongly disagree with the standing ruling in McGahn, the en banc court properly recognized that we have additional threshold grounds for dismissal of both cases, and we intend to vigorously press those arguments before the panels hearing those cases.”

In other words, the clock will run out before this even gets to the Supreme Court, and I suspect in any future deliberations where the House or Senate of the opposite party of the White House issues subpoenas, they can be run out within the two years of any Congress with this process.

Should Trump win in November, or if Biden wins and the GOP still controls the Senate (both I figure are about 25% chances), we will see this fight play out again in 2021 and 2022.

Householder Of Cards, Con't

The massive bribery scandal in Ohio against former State House Speaker Larry Householder has crossed state lines into Kentucky, as Republican attorney Eric Lycan is being named as the money man behind the multi-billion dollar racket.

An attorney who has served as general counsel for Republican committees and candidates in Kentucky is mentioned in a massive political bribery case in Ohio.

Eric Lycan is affiliated with a political dark money group that is accused by federal prosecutors of serving as a corporate slush fund for indicted former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder.

Lycan incorporated Generation Now as a political 501(c)(4) group in 2017 and serves as its treasurer. It is accused by the FBI of illegally funneling $60 million from FirstEnergy Corp. affiliates to assist the campaigns of political allies of Householder, so that he could pass a $1 billion bailout of two aging Ohio nuclear plants and block an anti-bailout voter referendum.

An FBI affidavit detailing the scheme referred to Lycan as "the attorney" and describes two other unnamed political committees funneling money to campaigns that were incorporated by Lycan: The Growth & Opportunity PAC and the Coalition for Growth & Opportunity. He served as treasurer for both groups.


Lycan served as the general counsel of the Republican Party of Kentucky from 2016 until April 2019 and has served for almost three years as the general counsel of the Republican majority leadership of Kentucky’s House of Representatives.

He also previously served as counsel for the 2014 campaign of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, chairing its Lawyers for Team Mitch group for attorneys supporting his reelection.
Lycan has also served as treasurer of or incorporated several political committees and groups in Kentucky such as Kentucky Rise PAC, a federal super PAC that in 2014 contributed more than $35,000 to a slew of Republican state House candidates and the House Republican Caucus Campaign Committee in the party's attempt to win back the majority in that chamber.

Lycan did not return an email seeking comment on the indictment and Generation Now.

And this all connects back to Mitch McConnell, who has been the country's biggest advocate for exactly the type of dark money groups that fueled the Householder scandal.

This one's got legs, folks.  A lot of people are going down, and not all of them are in Ohio.


Tales Of The Trump Depression, Con't

A par of researchers took a granular look at unemployment by Census tract and found that millions of Americans -- nearly all of them Black and Latino -- live in neighborhoods where unemployment in the Trump Depression is above 30%.

The economic damage from the coronavirus is most visible in areas like Midtown Manhattan, where lunch spots have closed, businesses have gone dark and once-crowded sidewalks have emptied.

But some of the worst economic pain lies in other neighborhoods, in the places where workers who’ve endured the broadest job losses live. In corners of the Bronx, South Los Angeles or the South Side of Chicago, unemployment is concentrated to a breathtaking degree. And that means that other problems still to come — a wave of evictions, deepening poverty, more childhood hunger — will be geographically concentrated, too.
Data estimating neighborhood-level unemployment rates suggests that as many as one in three workers in these areas are jobless, deeply widening economic disparities within cities.

In New York City, it’s as if parts of the Bronx were experiencing the Great Depression while the Upper East Side faced only modest drops in employment, according to Yair Ghitza and Mark Steitz, analysts who have estimated unemployment at the census tract level based on national economic statistics over the last six months.

The federal government doesn’t report unemployment data down to the neighborhood level, so the two researchers modeled these fine-grained statistics in a way that makes them consistent with state and national surveys. Through June, they found most neighborhoods in the Bronx had unemployment rates in excess of 20 percent, while most neighborhoods south of 95th Street in Manhattan had rates less than half that.

“What’s salient and visible right now is the businesses that are shuttered, and the office buildings that are empty,” said Ingrid Gould Ellen, a professor of urban policy and planning at N.Y.U. “What we’re not quite seeing at least the physical manifestations of yet is the really just stark decline in incomes in so many neighborhoods around the city, and in a lot of working-class neighborhoods.”

“We will see them,” she predicted, warning that concentrated distress in these neighborhoods could also have long-term consequences for the children growing up there.

Mr. Ghitza, the chief scientist at Catalist, a Democratic data firm, and Mr. Steitz, a principal at TSD Communications, have tried to solve a large multiplication problem in modeling neighborhood-level unemployment. Official government statistics estimate, for example, the share of residents in a given census tract who are women, the share who are African-American, and the share who work in food service. Using such data, Mr. Ghitza and Mr. Steitz created an educated guess of the number of Black female food-service workers in each tract, then matched those demographics to national monthly unemployment statistics on the occupations and demographic groups most severely affected in this downturn.

The approach makes it possible to gauge employment differences at a finer level of geography than what the government reports. But these estimates also come with much wider room for error than official statistics, and the researchers warn that the results should be viewed alongside other data as policymakers try to understand an economy in free fall.

The resulting maps capture the flip side of recent analyses of private-sector data showing where restaurants have cut hours or where stores have closed their doors. Those business closings have been clustered, too, often in downtown districts where office workers no longer come in, or in wealthy neighborhoods where residents have sharply reduced their spending (or where they have left town altogether).

These maps reflect, instead, where the workers who once staffed those restaurants, bars, hotels and offices commuted home at night.

The maps also highlight how the distinct nature of the coronavirus economic shock has divided cities into neighborhoods where most people can work from home and neighborhoods where most can’t. And because the latter group is disproportionately made up of Black and Hispanic workers, those lines also largely follow patterns of racial segregation, as in Chicago.

It's very possible that these numbers get worse now that unemployment aid has lapsed thanks to the GOP. We're still very much a consumer economy, and if businesses aren't getting any business because people don't have money to spend, they go under and take jobs with them.

It's bad, absolutely bad now.  It's going to be catastrophic in a few months unless we fundamentally change the way aid works in this country.  We could lose a third of small businesses, lose 20% of existing jobs permanently.  We could see average unemployment hit 20% or more and it's awful enough at 14% now.

Another 1.2 million Americans filed for unemployment last week. More than 50 million unemployment claims have been filed in the last four months.

We'll see what Mitch McConnell and the GOP surrenders on this week, but if there's no bill and the Senate goes on vacation until after Labor Day, our economic situation may crumble.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Last Call For Going In Guns Blazing

New York State Attorney General Letitia James is suing the NRA out of existence, and it couldn't be happening to a more deserving criminal enterprise.

The Attorney General of New York took action today to dissolve the National Rifle Association, following an 18-month investigation that found evidence the powerful gun rights group is "fraught with fraud and abuse."

Attorney General Letitia James claims in a lawsuit filed Thursday that she found financial misconduct in the millions of dollars, and that it contributed to a loss of more than $64 million over a three year period.
The suit alleges that top NRA executives misused charitable funds for personal gain, awarded contracts to friends and family members, and provided contracts to former employees to ensure loyalty.

Seeking to dissolve the NRA is the most aggressive sanction James could have sought against the not-for-profit organization, which James has jurisdiction over because it is registered in New York. James has a wide range of authorities relating to nonprofits in the state, including the authority to force organizations to cease operations or dissolve. The NRA is all but certain to contest it.

NPR has reached out to the NRA for comment, but has not received a response.

"The NRA's influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets," James said in a statement. "The NRA is fraught with fraud and abuse, which is why, today, we seek to dissolve the NRA, because no organization is above the law."

James' complaint names the National Rifle Association as a whole, but also names four current and former NRA executives: Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, general counsel John Frazer, former CFO Woody Phillips, and former chief of staff Joshua Powell.

It lists dozens of examples of alleged financial malfeasance, including the use of NRA funds for vacations, private jets, and expensive meals. In a statement, her office said that the charitable organization's executives "instituted a culture of self-dealing, mismanagement and negligent oversight" that contributed to "the waste and loss of millions in assets."

The lawsuit seeks to dissolve the NRA in its entirety and asks the court to order LaPierre and other current and former executives to pay back unlawful profits. It also seeks to remove LaPierre and Frazer from the organization's leadership and prevent the four named individuals from ever serving again on the board of a charity in New York.

My question though is "What's stopping the NRA from setting up shop in Texas or North Dakota?"

We'll find out.

Retribution Execution, Con't

The comically blatant corruption at the Trump regime continues as the "new" Inspector General brought in to bury the previous IG's investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's criminality is now resigning after just three months.

After less than three months on the job, the internal watchdog of the State Department has resigned, U.S. officials said, marking another significant shake-up for an office sworn to investigate malfeasance and wrongdoing.

Stephen Akard’s departure was announced to staff by his deputy, Diana R. Shaw, who told colleagues that she will become the temporary acting inspector general effective on Friday.

Akard became inspector general after President Trump abruptly fired Steve Linick in May at the recommendation of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. That decision immediately prompted criticism from lawmakers because Linick had been investigating allegations that Pompeo and his wife, Susan, had improperly used State Department resources. Linick was also examining several other issues, including Pompeo’s decision to expedite arms sales to Saudi Arabia over the objections of Congress.
Trump and his administration have come under increasing criticism for trying to evade oversight because the president has fired five officials in recent months who lead inspector general offices across the federal government.

In a note to her inspector general’s office colleagues that was obtained by The Washington Post, Shaw said Akard was taking a position with a law firm in Indiana, his home state. It’s unclear whether there were other factors in his decision.

Pompeo dismissed a question about Akard’s departure during a news conference on Wednesday. “He left to go back home,” Pompeo said. “This happens. I don’t have anything more to add to that.”


Akard’s resignation again throws into turmoil an office responsible for ongoing investigations into wrongdoing at the department, including those started by Linick. Shaw told colleagues: “I will do my best not to let this latest change negatively affect our operations.”

So who knows.  We'll be on the State Department's third IG in three months, and Pompeo will continue to flout federal law while he should be in prison along with Trump and most of the rest of his Cabinet of Corruption.

Just another day in the broken executive branch.


Biden, His Time

The race for Biden's running mate is apparently down to Sen. Kamala Harris and former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice, after Rep. Karen Bass blew her shot last weekend over Cuba and Scientology and while I have to imagine both Liz Warren and Tammy Duckworth are still in play, it looks to be a two-woman race. But Republicans are especially salivating over Susan Rice so they can spend the next 90 days yelling BENGHAZI as loudly as possible.

Trump’s aides and allies accuse Rice — without delving too deeply into the evidence — of helping cover up crimes for two of the president’s favorite foils, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, making her just the kind of "deep state" villain who could fire up his MAGA base.

“She is absolutely our No. 1 draft pick,” a Trump campaign official said.
Rice, a former ambassador to the United Nations and national security adviser for Obama, is accused of revealing the identities of top Trump associates in 2016 after they were picked up as part of U.S. surveillance of foreign officials.

Four years earlier, she faced allegations that she misled Americans when she announced on national TV that the fatal attacks in Benghazi, Libya, occurred after spontaneous protests in response to an anti-Muslim video. That was determined to be inaccurate.

On Monday night, Tucker Carlson, the Fox News host influential in Trump’s orbit, opened his show with a lengthy diatribe about Rice and her role in the 2012 Benghazi raid — strikingly similar to the attack Republicans lodged against Clinton in the 2016 race against Trump.

“I can’t think of anyone that is more polarizing who would fire up the base than Susan Rice,” said former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican who investigated the Obama administration as chairman of the House oversight committee. “They know her, and they don’t like her.”

Biden is nearing the end of his search for a vice president, with in-person interviews expected this week. Attention has focused on Rice, Rep. Karen Bass and Sens. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Duckworth. Aides said Biden has pushed back his planned announcement to next week. An outside Trump adviser described Rice as the "most target-rich environment."

Biden’s campaign and Rice declined to comment. But Democrats and others have dismissed the attacks against Rice as outdated and unsubstantiated, and said they won’t matter to Americans struggling with the coronavirus outbreak.

No offense, but I'm really, really, really hoping that Biden absolutely does not pick Susan Rice.  Huckleberry Graham will have her in hearings tout suite and Bill Barr is absolutely waiting for the opportunity to make his Durham investigation dog-and-pony show into the October Surprise and "Biden Running Mate Under DOJ Investigation" would be something I absolutely expect Bill Barr to do.

And it will hurt Biden down the stretch.  I'm sorry, but our media will blow it out of proportion and it will only help Trump.

Biden's call is Biden's call, whomever he picks I will support.  And all of the running mates come with built-in GOP attack angles.  Rice seems to be the largest violation of the "first do no harm with the pick" theory.

We'll see what happens.

StupidiNews!

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Orange Meltdown, Con't

Things are so bad in America right now that Trump is actually starting to lose his base in states like California, and that's only making things worse for Republicans down the ballot. The fever-bright, "own the libs!" faithful in the Golden State -- the kind of people so fanatical in their Trump support that they back him in a state like California -- are becoming less faithful by the day.

President Trump’s support among Republicans and other conservative voters has begun to erode amid the continued coronavirus pandemic and its associated economic havoc, a new poll from UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies shows.
The poll shows Trump far behind Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, in California. That’s no surprise — even at his strongest Trump was unlikely ever to be competitive in California, a heavily Democratic state.

What is notable, however, is the size of the gap and the degree to which approval of Trump’s work as president has declined among groups that until now have supported him.

Biden leads Trump in California by 39 percentage points, 67% to 28%, the poll found. That’s 9 points larger than the margin by which Hillary Clinton beat Trump statewide in 2016 — a record at the time. And the share of Californians who approve of Trump’s performance in office, which has held steady in the mid-to-low 30% range for nearly his entire tenure, has now ticked downward to just 29%.

That’s consistent with other polls nationally and in battleground states that show a nationwide tide lifting Biden, swelling his margin in states like California, moving him solidly ahead in close-fought states like Pennsylvania and Michigan and making him potentially competitive in states that Trump won more handily last time, such as Texas and Georgia.

“There was a question of whether his support was already so low in the state that it couldn’t go lower,” said Berkeley political scientist Eric Schickler, co-director of the Institute of Governmental Studies. The poll “shows the answer is no.”

Aides to both candidates believe the biggest factor in Trump’s decline is voters’ fear of the coronavirus and belief that the administration has botched its handling of the pandemic. The poll provides further evidence of that.

About two-thirds of the state’s voters see the health threat from the coronavirus getting worse. They back Biden 84% to 11%. By contrast, about 1 in 8 say the health threat is getting less serious; they back Trump 87% to 10%. About 1 in 5 voters say the threat from the virus is about the same as it’s been; they’re closely divided.

Imagine being in California and thinking Trump is the answer, imagine how God-awful your morality system there is, now imagine that Trump has finally broken you.

Yes, I keep telling people there are more registered Republicans in California than adults in about 42 of the 50 states, and they are a special breed of reality-deniers, but they're starting to crack.

You don't get more "hardcore Trump supporter" than his California contingent.

Even they are starting to give.

Trump Goes Viral, Con't

An increasingly desperate Trump White House is about to wreck COVID-19 relief package negotiations with a series of executive orders that will make both Democrats and Republicans in Congress furious and could capsize any real bill until after Labor Day.

The White House is considering a trio of executive orders aimed at shaking up coronavirus relief negotiations with Democrats, a sign of frustration within the Trump administration at the sluggish pace of the talks with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The three actions under consideration would delay the collection of federal payroll taxes, reinstitute an expired eviction moratorium, and in the riskiest gambit of them all, extend enhanced federal unemployment benefits using unspent money already appropriated by Congress.


This plan is the brainchild of White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, and President Donald Trump on Tuesday confirmed that he was reviewing his options for unilateral action but hadn't made any decisions to move forward yet.

"We're looking at it," Trump said at a press briefing. "Were also looking at various other things that I'm allowed to do under the system. Such as the payroll tax suspension."

Following another session with Pelosi and Schumer, Meadows called it "the most productive meeting we've had yet," and added that Trump wouldn't issue any executive orders if the negotiations with Democratic leaders are moving toward a conclusion.


"Really right now, we're continuing to consider all of the options that we have before us, but as long as we're making substantial progress in our negotiations, we're hopeful that will provide the fruit necessary to bring it to a close," Meadows told reporters after the meeting with Pelosi and Schumer.

The two Democratic leaders — who have refused to yield much ground in the discussions so far — suggested there had been positive development during Tuesday's closed-door talks.

"They made some concessions, which we appreciated. We made some concessions, which they appreciated," Schumer said. "But we're still far away on a lot of the important issues, but we're continuing to go at it."

What this says to me is if Mitch doesn't have a bill by the end of the week and August recess, the Trump regime will start doing things by executive order.  A moratorium on federal evictions in federal Section 8 housing will definitely help, as will restoring some unemployment benefit money, but the payroll tax moratorium will only blow a hole in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and everyone knows it.

The good news is Mitch knows he's going to have to give in to Democrats at this point.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell conceded Tuesday that he will lack Republican support to pass further coronavirus aid and instead will rely on Democrats to fashion a deal with the White House.

"It's not going to produce a kumbaya moment," McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters in the Capitol. "But the American people in the end need help."

Negotiations between congressional leaders and the White House over another round of aid that could top $1 trillion continue to crawl forward, with sticking points like whether to extend the expanded unemployment benefits that expired last month.

Democrats are eager to restore the jobless payments, but Republicans have remained divided over how large they should be, as well as the level of deficit spending the federal government should undertake to finance them.

"If you're looking for total consensus among Republican senators, you're not going to find it," McConnell said after a lunch meeting with Republican senators. "We do have division about what to do."

But both Republicans and Democrats are going to like and hate the results if Mark Meadows gets his way, and that's the point.  Meadows isn't quite as blockheaded as his boss is.  It's a race now to see whether or not a package can be done before Mitch leaves town and Trump blows everything up.

The clock is ticking.

Feet Of Clay, Defeated

Ten-term St. Louis Democratic Rep. Lacy Clay has been knocked out by Ferguson, Missouri activist and nurse Cori Bush in last night's Democratic primary.

Cori Bush, a onetime homeless woman who led protests following a white police officer’s fatal shooting of a Black 18-year-old in Ferguson, ousted longtime Rep. William Lacy Clay Tuesday in Missouri’s Democratic primary, ending a political dynasty that has spanned more than a half-century.

Bush’s victory came in a rematch of 2018, when she failed to capitalize on a national Democratic wave that favored political newcomers such as Bush’s friend, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

But this time around, Bush’s supporters said protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis and outrage over racial injustice finally pushed her over the edge.

An emotional Bush, speaking to supporters while wearing a mask, said few people expected her to win.

“They counted us out,” she said. “They called me — I’m just the protester, I’m just the activist with no name, no title and no real money. That’s all they said that I was. But St. Louis showed up today.”

Bush’s campaign spokeswoman, Keenan Korth, said voters in the district were “galvanized.”

“They’re ready to turn the page on decades of failed leadership,” Korth said.

Bush, 44, also had backing from political action committee Justice Democrats and Fight Corporate Monopolies this election. She campaigned for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during his presidential bid.


Bush’s primary win essentially guarantees her a seat in Congress representing the heavily Democratic St. Louis area. Missouri’s 1st Congressional District has been represented by Clay or his father for a half-century. Bill Clay served 32 years before retiring in 2000. William Lacy Clay, 64, was elected that year.

Clay didn’t face a serious challenger until Bush. This year, he ran on his decades-long record in Congress.

Clay ran on his record and on support from the Congressional Black Caucus. Clay's father Bill founded the CBC more than 50 years ago when he held the seat and Clay had the open support of current CBC leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries. Clay figured he had this in the bag, he beat Bush by 20 points in 2018. He had every reason to believe his legacy would secure him another term.

Precisely none of that was able to save his political career in the George Floyd era of Black Lives Matter. Not only did Clay lose, he didn't even get more than 45.5% of the vote, as a third candidate, Kat Bruckner, got 6%. Even with Bruckner splitting the anti-Clay vote, it wasn't enough. Bush won with 48.6%.

Oh, and Missourians approves a ballot measure for expanded Medicare 53-47%. You'd better believe that helped Bush too.

All legacies come to a close.

Here endeth the lesson.

StupidiNews!

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Last Call For Ditching Mitch

Things are not looking good for Amy McGrath here in Kentucky when it comes to beating Mitch McConnell this fall, as a new poll finds her down 17 points.

A new survey by independent polling firm Morning Consult shows Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with a commanding lead in his bid for a seventh term in Kentucky, leading 53% to 36% over his Democratic challenger Amy McGrath. 
About 700 likely voters in Kentucky were surveyed online from July 24 to Aug. 2 by Morning Consult, whose results have a margin of error of +/- 3.5%. 
The race between McConnell and McGrath is expected to be one of the most expensive U.S. Senate races in the country this year, as both campaigns had over $16 million in cash on hand at the end of June. 
McGrath spent over $9 million in June alone to pull out a narrow victory over underdog Charles Booker in the Democratic primary, whose campaign surged in the final month by portraying him as a more authentic and progressive Democrat. 
The poll showed McGrath still has work to do in consolidating support among Booker voters and other Kentucky Democrats, with 79% supporting her, 12% supporting McConnell and 6% indicating they will vote for someone else. 
McConnell had the support of 84% of Republicans surveyed, while independents favored the senator 45% to 33% over McGrath. 
Over 6% of the likely voters surveyed indicated they would vote for someone besides McConnell and McGrath, with nearly 6% still undecided. 
While a survey two weeks ago from the internal pollster of McGrath's campaign showed McConnell leading by only 4 percentage points, two other polls since June found McConnell up by at least 20 percentage points. 
A survey conducted in mid-June by Oakland, California-based pollster Civiqs and commissioned by progressive think tank Data for Progress found McConnell leading McGrath 53% to 33%.

This is going to be as bad or worse than 2014 and Alison Lundergan Grimes's loss.  Kentucky Democrats have always had a problem with registered Dems voting straight up for Republicans, but McGrath can't even get 80% of the party.  It's very clear that voters here still see Mitch as Senate Santa, delivering the money and the power to the state.  It worked for Hal Rogers in the House for decades, and it's worked for Mitch for some time now and will continue to.

Mitch is pretty much going to win this comfortably because voters here believe Mitch when he lies like this:


This is a lie.  It's Mitch and the Senate GOP who have refused to vote on the House Democrats' HEROES Act which passed May 15. But people here believe Mitch because he delivers. He's Senate leader.  He wouldn't lie to us, right?  Not to his constituents, right?

Oh, and Charles Booker?

He would be losing by 20 points or more. Just sayin'.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance is indeed looking into the Trump Organization's criminal fraud and racketeering activities, run by the Mobster-In-Chief.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office suggested on Monday that it has been investigating President Trump and his company for possible bank and insurance fraud, a significantly broader inquiry than the prosecutors have acknowledged in the past.

The suggestion by the office of the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., came in a new federal court filing arguing that Mr. Trump’s accountants should have to comply with a subpoena seeking eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns. Mr. Trump had asked a judge to declare the subpoena invalid.


Until now, the district attorney’s inquiry had appeared largely focused on hush-money payments made in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election to two women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump.

In the new filing, the prosecutors did not directly identify the subject of their inquiry. But they said that “undisputed” assertions in earlier court papers and several news reports about Mr. Trump’s business practices showed that the office had a wide legal basis for the subpoena.

“In light of these public reports of possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization,” there was nothing improper or even unusual about the subpoena, the filing said.

They cited newspaper investigations that concluded the president may have illegally inflated his net worth and the value of his properties to lenders and insurers. They also included an article on the congressional testimony of his former lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, who told lawmakers last year that the president had committed insurance fraud. Lawyers for the president have denied wrongdoing.


The suggestion that the investigation, which has gone on for nearly two years, was broader than Mr. Vance’s office had previously acknowledged could raise the stakes for Mr. Trump, his company and its executives, if the inquiry were ever to lead to charges of bank or insurance fraud, which are felonies.

The inquiry into the hush-money payments seemed to center on a less serious crime, the filing of false business records.

A spokesman for Mr. Vance’s office declined to comment. Lawyers for Mr. Trump did not reply to requests for comment.

Donald Trump is going to a New York state penitentiary for the rest of his days if he leaves power (or he'll skip the country for Moscow.) He knows he will die in prison if he stays in the US. He knows a future Republican president won't be able to pardon or commute his sentence.

He will do everything he can to hold on to power, including everything illegal he and his crew of gangsters can think of.

Be prepared.

BREAKING: Massive Explosion In Beirut

A catastrophic explosion in Lebanon's capital of Beirut was caught on video as a smaller explosion and subsequent fire that broke out at the city's port warehouse district, the smoke visible for miles, turned into a blast wave that absolutely devastated the city earlier today.

At least two explosions in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, resulted in widespread damage and injuries on Tuesday, throwing a country already mired in political and financial distress into further chaos.

Videos posted on social media show massive blasts near Beirut’s port, one of the busiest in the Eastern Mediterranean. A top Lebanese Red Cross official reported at least “hundreds” of casualties, including those dead and wounded.

Lebanon’s general security chief, Abbas Ibrahim, told local reporters that the initial explosion was not a bombing. He said it was caused by a fire in a warehouse that had been storing “confiscated highly explosive materials.”

Initial reports from Lebanese state-run media said the fire had broken out in a facility storing fireworks, but Ibrahim dismissed that theory.

According to the country’s health minister, the blast left scores of casualties and inflicted severe damage on the city.

“I have never in my life seen disaster this big, this grand, this catastrophic,” said Beirut’s governor, Marwan Abboud, before he broke down crying. “This is a national catastrophe. This a disaster for Lebanon. We don’t know how we’re going to recover from this. … We need to stay strong and we need to be courageous, but this, our people have been through so much.”

Lebanese Prime Minister Hassam Diab has declared Wednesday a national day of mourning.


More as the story develops...

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

Set aside 30 minutes for this US History class taught by John Oliver.



That's it, that's the post.

Share it with someone who can benefit from it, which is basically all of us.

StupidiNews!

Monday, August 3, 2020

Last Call For Retribution Execution, Con't

The Trump regime does whatever it wants to do at this point and nobody in the Senate GOP seems too keen on stopping them.

A controversial Trump administration pick for a top Pentagon post has been placed into a senior role days after his nomination hearing was canceled amid bipartisan opposition to his nomination. 
Retired Army Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata has formally withdrawn his nomination to be the Defense Department undersecretary of defense for policy and has been designated "the official Performing the Duties of the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy reporting to the Acting Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Dr. James Anderson," a Pentagon spokesperson said in a statement. 
When the nomination hearing for Tata was canceled Thursday, President Donald Trump told aides the plan was to put him in a position he could have without a confirmation hearing, according to a source familiar with the discussions. The role he'll be in now is essentially the deputy of the role he had been nominated for. 
It was previously reported that Trump had a call with Senate Armed Services Chairman Jim Inhofe the evening prior and that the Oklahoma Republican bluntly told the President his nominee was in trouble. 
Tata was expected to face a tough nomination hearing on Thursday before the committee after CNN's KFile reported that he made numerous Islamophobic and offensive comments and promoted conspiracy theories. 
"There are many Democrats and Republicans who didn't know enough about Anthony Tata to consider him for a very significant position at this time," Inhofe said last week. 
A GOP aide to a lawmaker who previously expressed concern about Tata's nomination told CNN that the administration's move regarding Tata "was a matter of when, not if." 
Withdrawing his nomination was legally necessary so he could be placed in a role to perform the duties. 
Steve Vladeck, a CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law, said in a tweet Sunday the administration's move is "all a naked end-run around" the federal provision that bars Tata from being named to the same position he was nominated for -- unless he's spent 90 days as the first assistant to the position. 
"That clock is now running," Vladeck said.

At this point Trump is now openly steamrolling his Senate GOP protectors because he now knows they will never hold him accountable, and that if he sics his base on them, they will be destroyed. Jim Inhofe must be furious, but he won't do a thing, and if he does, Trump will ignore it.

He's ignoring it just like he's ignoring the Supreme Court on DACA.

The Trump administration announced on July 28 that it will continue to defy a federal court order compelling the full restoration of DACA, the Obama-era program that allows 700,000 immigrants to live and work in the United States legally. By doing so, the administration has chosen to flout a decision by the Supreme Court, effectively rejecting the judiciary’s authority to say what the law is. 
Donald Trump first attempted to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in September 2017, a move that would’ve stripped its beneficiaries of work permits and subjected them to deportation. But his administration continually cut corners, failing to explain the basis for its decision and refusing to consider the impact of DACA repeal on immigrants, their communities, and their employers (including the U.S. Army). This June, the Supreme Court ruled that the administration’s actions were “arbitrary and capricious” under federal law and therefore “set aside” DACA repeal. 
To implement that decision, U.S. District Judge Paul Grimm compelled the administration to restore DACA to its pre-repeal condition on July 17. Grimm’s order required the Department of Homeland Security to let DACA beneficiaries renew their status for two years, accept new applicants, and restore “advance parole,” which permits travel outside the country. But DHS did not do that. Instead, the agency maintained that it would reject new DACA applicants. It also declined to accept DACA renewals or reinstate advance parole. 
At a hearing Friday, Grimm tore into Justice Department attorneys for flouting his order. The government’s actions, he explained, created “a feeling and a belief that the agency is disregarding binding decisions” from the Supreme Court. DOJ attorneys insisted that DACA applications were merely “on hold,” or “placed into a bucket,” while the administration decided how to proceed. But, as Grimm retorted, “it is a distinction without a difference to say that this application has not been denied, it has been received and it has been put in a bucket.” The judge once again directed DHS to comply with the law by accepting new applicants and processing renewals. 
Incredibly, the agency has decided to disobey this order, as well. On Tuesday, acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf declared that it would not accept new applications and would only grant one-year extensions to current beneficiaries “on a case by case basis.” This tactic will make it easier for Trump to deport DACA beneficiaries if he wins reelection, since their status will expire sooner. The agency will also deny advance parole “absent exceptional circumstances.” This new policy is nothing less than brazen defiance of a federal court ruling. Grimm, and the Supreme Court itself, ordered DACA’s full resuscitation, which requires the acceptance of new applicants and the conferral of two-year renewals. There is simply no legal basis for DHS’s zombie version of the program.

Trump will do it anyway.

Who's going to stop him?

Tales Of The Trump Depression, Con't

How bad is the Trump Depression right now?  It's "Can't even make money selling coffee and donuts as gas stations" bad.

Dunkin' is permanently closing 8% of its United States locations, which amounts to roughly 800 restaurants. 
The company announced the changes in its second quarter earnings, released Thursday. Dunkin' described the closures as "real estate portfolio rationalization" and said the affected locations are in "low-volume sales locations" that only represent 2% of its US sales as of 2019. 
More than half of the closures are in Speedway convenience stores, a change it previously announced in February. These locations are set to be closed by the end of this year. 
Dunkin' (DNKN) also said approximately 350 locations "may permanently close" outside of the US.

It's "Can't even sell Big Macs in a Wal-Mart" bad.

McDonald's is permanently closing 200 of its 14,000 U.S. locations this year with "low-volume restaurants" in Walmart stores making up over half of the closures. 
During its quarterly earnings call Tuesday, the fast food giant said the closings were previously planned for future years but are being accelerated. Officials also shared the continued impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on sales globally. 
"Within a matter of weeks, the McDonald's system made operational modifications across 30,000 restaurants, while closing and then reopening another 9,000 restaurants," CEO Chris Kempczinski said during Tuesday's earnings call. "We introduced new safety procedures in all our restaurants, modified our menus and developed new contactless ways to serve our customers."

Sit-down restaurants are done.  They are taking those jobs with them, millions of them.  As restaurants and bars are shut down again thanks to COVID-19 spikes, with the GOP killing the PPP, the next several months are going to be brutal.

Even in pre-COVID 2020, at least five restaurant chains filed for bankruptcy protection. The fact that COVID-19 wasn’t even on the radar two weeks before the wave of virus-related closures should be predictive of the additionally massive impact of these temporary closures. 
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) helped slow the tide of failures among smaller chains, but for some, PPP money was really just prolonging the inevitable. COVID-19 has provided an additional untimely blow to the casual dining space that cannot transition as nimbly to a takeout-only model. Furthermore, as restaurants start to reopen — potentially more than once as several states have recoiled some of their earlier opening plans — casual-dining restaurants have to deal with reduced seating capacity in addition to a litany of other unfamiliar COVID-related requirements (providing and requiring personal protective equipment, and requiring reservations for seating). 
In the interim, several restaurant companies are renegotiating (or trying to renegotiate) lease terms — most after missing April’s rent payment at a minimum — as well as renegotiating their loan operating covenants. In my experience, banks are more sympathetic than landlords, perhaps because landlords have banks to deal with as well. 
Historically, landlords have generally been unflinching to threats of bankruptcy when dealing with delinquent tenants. Perhaps that will change with the realization that there may not be a lot of new tenants available. Candidly, financing new restaurant growth won’t be very easy from either an equity or debt perspective. 
So where does that leave us today? Some restaurant chains, such as those in the quick-service space, will continue to fare better. For other chains, such as those in the casual-dining space, bankruptcy may be the only option. Other than a fortunate buyer, there are few winners in a Chapter 7 filing.
Equity owners and landlords are on the losing end of this. Even secured creditors usually receive a pittance of their original investment; sales of used restaurant capital equipment were poor before COVID-19, so one can only imagine how abysmal they will be post-COVID. 
For those restaurants with creditors willing to finance a bankruptcy, a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing may be the only option. To be clear, a Chapter 11 is expensive — requiring teams of bankruptcy lawyers, “turnaround” management firms, and other professionals who all require secured and expensive payments upfront. 
However, whatever the faults of the process, it is inevitable that there will be an onslaught of Chapter 11 filings for chain-restaurant companies in the balance of 2020 and likely through 2021.

I don't know any nice, friendly way to say this folks. A third of all restaurants will be gone by the end of next year.  Millions of jobs will be gone with them.  It's going to take another dismal jobs report or two where "the V-shaped recovery" myth disintegrates, and the GOP will be dragged kicking and screaming into another COVID-19 package...probably...but by that time it will be too late.

The restaurant business was in bad trouble before COVID. It is a doomed, absolutely doomed business model now in the era of pandemics. The big boys like Mickey Ds will survive, moving to a delivery model with limited seating. The Mom and Pop, hole-in-the-wall local places that you know and love?  Odds are they'll be gone in six months, twelve tops, and they won't come back.

Nobody's going to have the money to eat out anyway.  A lot of damage will be done before a new Democratic Congress and president can be sworn in, and should Republicans remain in charge of the Senate, or God forbid the White House, we'll be referring to 2020 as "the good old days". The best case scenario is that restaurants are bailed out and become massive corporate endeavors, like Yum Brands only with hedge fund money.

Order up.

The check is here, and somebody has to pay.

A Conspiracy Of Dunces

Trump's longest-lasting mess may be the GOP itself, now infested with QAnon nutjobs and conspiracy theorists openly running for office across the nation, as social media like Twitter fights back against them.

Followers of the far-right QAnon conspiracy believe a “deep state” of federal bureaucrats, Democratic politicians and Hollywood celebrities are plotting against President Trump and his supporters while also running an international sex-trafficking ring (an FBI memo released last year warned QAnon’s followers could be possible “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists”).

Forbes confirmed that 14 candidates (first identified by the left-leaning media watchdog Media Matters and Rantt Media) running in 2020 and verified by Twitter have actively supported the theory on Twitter.

Three of the 14—Republican House candidates Alison Hayden, in California’s 15th District, and Nikka Piterman, in California’s 13th district; and Jo Rae Perkins, the Republian candidate for Senate in Oregon—have tweeted about QAnon since Twitter’s July 22 crackdown, while Mike Cargile, a Republican candidate for California’s 35th district, keeps multiple QAnon hashtags in his Twitter bio.

Even as Twitter fact-checks President Trump, many of the tweets about QAnon sent by verified political candidates remain up on its site, without any warning labels. Twitter’s sweeping actions against QAnon removed accounts from its platform and blocked the conspiracy from appearing in its trending section.

After Forbes reached out to Twitter about whether the crackdown would apply to politicians—especially those verified by the platform—Twitter issued Forbes a statement that read: We are constantly iterating on our policies and are evaluating the expansion of this policy to include candidates and elected officials.

The 14 candidates Forbes confirmed citing QAnon include one candidate for the U.S. Senate, Jo Rae Perkins, the Republican candidate in Oregon; KW Miller, an independent House candidate in Florida; and 12 Republican House candidates: Joyce Bentley, Nev.; Mike Cargile, Calif.; Erin Cruz, Calif.; Marjorie Taylor Greene, Ga; Alison Hayden, Calif; Buzz Patterson, Calif.; Nikka Piterman, Calif; Bill Prempeh, N.J.; Theresa Raborn, Ill.; Angela Stanton-King, Ga.; Rob Weber ,Philanise White, Ill.

Buoyed by their verification status, some of the QAnon-supporting candidates have racked up huge followings that dwarf their opponents. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican House candidate in Georgia who has called “Q” a “patriot,” has 45,000 followers—more than 36 times her GOP runoff challenger John Cowan, and presumptive Democratic challenger Kevin Van Ausdal combined. And multiple candidates told Forbes they have had problems getting verified. Allen Ellison, a Democratic House candidate in Florida, told Forbes he was verified only a “few weeks ago” after trying repeatedly to obtain a blue check since March when he originally filled out the required questionnaire. Dr. Carolyn Salter, a Democratic House candidate in Texas, has yet to receive Twitter verification, even though her campaign filled out a form on Ballotpedia on June 15, a website which Twitter has partnered with to verify candidates. Gary Wegman, a Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania’s 9th district, has also not received blue check verification, though Mallie Prytherch, Wegman’s campaign director, told Forbes that the campaign completed the questionnaire and appeared on Ballotpedia around two months ago. Prytherch was also told by Twitter that it would have to wait for applications to be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Twitter doesn't like disrupting accounts that have lots of followers because it reduces their ad revenue, pure and simple.  Look at Trump.

The bigger problem is that more than a dozen Republicans are running on this conspiracy theory, and odds are at least one or two of them will win, as they are running in pretty red seats. And we're going to have to listen to them puke up this nonsense on the floor of the House as they scream at Democrats and other "deep state agents".

The Trumpian insanity will take decades to root out of our politics even if Democrats take control of the White House and Senate.

StupidiNews!


Sunday, August 2, 2020

Last Call For Biden, His Time

We won't find out who Joe Biden's running mate will be until next week, with the short list appearing to be Sen. Kamala Harris, Rep. Karen Bass, former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and Sen, Tammy Duckworth, but Biden is starting to pull away in swing states like Pennsylvania ahead of Trump as people realize that hating the Democrat won't help them in 2020.

Senior citizens and suburban voters are sinking President Donald Trump’s campaign across the country.

But here in Pennsylvania — home to one of the largest populations of residents age 65 or older and where suburbanites comprise more than half of the electorate — their defection to Joe Biden is hurting Trump even more acutely.

It’s a very big problem in a swing state that’s central to his Rust Belt path to victory. Four years ago, Trump became the first Republican presidential candidate since 1988 to carry Pennsylvania, in part by winning older and suburban voters, as well as blue-collar white workers in ancestrally Democratic areas. Now, with less than 100 days till Election Day, surveys show those voters are eyeing something different yet again.

Joe Biden has an overall early lead in the state of 6 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics’ polling average, and has led Trump in all 12 public polls released since the beginning of June.

“Joe Biden — his party is not in power — so just by definition, he’s the candidate of change. That’s a huge advantage,” said Democratic Sen. Bob Casey. “No matter what Hillary Clinton did with her campaign schedule, she was running after eight years of a Democratic president. So when you’re running after eight years of your party, you are not the change candidate.”
Democratic elected officials, party leaders and strategists in Pennsylvania said that Biden is ahead because of Trump’s mishandling of Covid-19 — which is particularly risky to seniors — as well as his broken campaign promises to workers about spending big on infrastructure and rewriting trade deals to benefit them. They believe voters like Biden because he is known as someone who can work across the aisle to solve the nation’s problems.

They argued Biden is also being buoyed by the fact that he is a Scranton native and former Delaware senator who was covered by the Philadelphia media network for years. And they said that Biden doesn’t anger GOP or swing voters like Clinton — instead, he’s a moderate white man who rarely makes waves in a state that has elected more than its fair share of milquetoast white male politicians.

“Hating Joe Biden doesn’t juice up their base and their Fox News viewers the way going after Hillary and Nancy Pelosi and AOC do,” said Rep. Brendan Boyle, who endorsed Biden the day he launched his 2020 campaign. “You can make certain assumptions and wonder why that is. Is gender a factor? Is race a factor? I don’t know. I have certain suspicions.”

The starkly cynical, overly pragmatic side of me says the moment Biden names his woman VP pick, we'll go back to Geraldine Ferraro and hourly attacks on "If anything happens to OLD, INFIRM, SENILE Joe Biden, we'll have A VAGINA for President" and it will start hurting the Democrats.

Will it be enough to reduce Biden's lead?  I think with the adjustment in polls to likely voter models, GOP voter suppression efforts, and COVID-19, I think Biden and his team can't count on that lead at all.

I think things are going to be a lot closer come October.

If you can vote early, do it.

Tales Of The Trump Depression, Con't

August 2.  Rent's due.

And the checks have stopped coming because of Mitch and the Senate GOP.

People have nowhere to go, no money, no job, no hope, and thousands of residents of Washington DC are facing life on the street in a pandemic, where COVID-19 awaits.

He had five days to move out of the house in Brightwood Park, and now Daniel Vought stood looking at the plastic crates stacked in the living room holding his things. T-shirts. Power cords. Pokémon cards and stuffed animals. His beloved guitar — a Gibson Explorer electric — still hung on the wall. He figured it would be safer staying behind.

A new housemate was coming, one who could actually pay $800 a month for the room Vought, 30, had lived in rent-free since the coronavirus pandemic shut down the Georgetown bar where he worked.

For four months, his unemployment benefits application had been snared in red tape at the D.C. Department of Employment Services, a black hole of unanswered emails, phone holds and automated voice messages offering delays instead of answers.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of people in the nation’s capital have been sucked down the same confusing abyss. Through July 29, the employment office has fielded more than 133,000 claims, nearly five times the number processed in all of 2019.

The pileup has led to delays for applicants knocked from their economic perch, many of them reaching for government help for the first time. Although the D.C. Council recently approved a major modernization of the system, implementing it will take years.

In the meantime, the end of July meant the end of the initial round of federal emergency pandemic assistance. Republicans and Democrats in Congress are deadlocked over the scope of a second wave of federal help. No matter what that future assistance looks like, for people like Vought, still waiting for benefits from the spring and living without a financial cushion, the damage has been done.

People pushed into poverty by the coronavirus pandemic could face years of increased dependence on government help, experts say, and greater housing insecurity and homelessness. A single mother with another baby due this summer found herself choosing between buying food or paying the rent. A former D.C. police officer spent months on a relative’s sofa, unable to find work or collect unemployment so he could find his own housing.

Their desperation morphed at times into isolation and anger, feelings Vought confronted as his cracked iPhone rang that Friday in late June. It was an aide from the office of D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) who had responded to his earlier messages and complaints.

“I understand your frustration,” the aide said. But she didn’t have any news.

“Can you do me a solid and just bug them once a day for me?” Vought begged her. “I don’t know if they’re forgetting me. I don’t know if somebody is skipping me in the line. I don’t know if this is just the worst time to have a last name that starts with ‘V.’ ”

“I think it’s just an overwhelming amount of people,” the aide answered, promising to follow up. “Have a good weekend.”

Vought stared into the living room, where stray sunlight from the drawn blinds fell on the crates he would have to store or haul or trash by Wednesday. His bank account was overdrawn. He had $10 in his wallet. A week from now, he could be homeless.

“Oh,” he mumbled. “I’m going to have a great weekend.”

This story is being played out a million times in a million places all over the US this weekend.   Republicans at the local, state, and national level have all made sure that the safety net protecting Americans has frayed to the point of collapse. The Trump Depression is like dropping an anvil on a spider's web, overwhelming state unemployment systems and rendering them useless, flooding them with the broken wreckage of Trump's failure to contain a deadly virus ravaging 80% of the nation's population and showing no sign of rolling back as we get ready to send kids to schools, creating all-new outbreaks.

Something has got to give in the next couple of months, if not in the next few weeks. I hope it will be Republicans giving up in order to try to save any hope they may have of keeping the Senate. I dread it will be Mitch or Trump demanding trillions more for the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us, and an August recess that breaks the country by the time Labor Day rolls around.

Millions will be evicted by then.  It will be a cataclysm.

We have one week.


Sunday Long Read: Jared Went Viral

If you're wondering whatever happened to Jared Kushner's super top secret national testing strategy, it was delivered stillborn at the White House, according to Vanity Fair's Catherine Eban. The bottom line is that the Trump regime believed from the start that COVID-19 would be relegated purely to blue states: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, California, Oregon and Washington state, and nobody pushed that vile lie harder than Trump himself.

Countries that have successfully contained their outbreaks have empowered scientists to lead the response. But when Jared Kushner set out in March to solve the diagnostic-testing crisis, his efforts began not with public health experts but with bankers and billionaires. They saw themselves as the “A-team of people who get shit done,” as one participant proclaimed in a March Politico article. 
Kushner’s brain trust included Adam Boehler, his summer college roommate who now serves as chief executive officer of the newly created U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, a government development bank that makes loans overseas. Other group members included Nat Turner, the cofounder and CEO of Flatiron Health, which works to improve cancer treatment and research. 
A Morgan Stanley banker with no notable health care experience, Jason Yeung took a leave of absence to join the task force. Along the way, the group reached out for advice to billionaires, such as Silicon Valley investor Marc Andreessen. 
The group’s collective lack of relevant experience was far from the only challenge it faced. The obstacles arrayed against any effective national testing effort included: limited laboratory capacity, supply shortages, huge discrepancies in employers’ abilities to cover testing costs for their employees, an enormous number of uninsured Americans, and a fragmented diagnostic-testing marketplace. 
According to one participant, the group did not coordinate its work with a diagnostic-testing team at Health and Human Services, working under Admiral Brett Giroir, who was appointed as the nation’s “testing czar” on March 12. Kushner’s group was “in their own bubble,” said the participant. “Other agencies were in their own bubbles. The circles never overlapped.” 
As it evolved, Kushner’s group called on the help of several top diagnostic-testing experts. Together, they worked around the clock, and through a forest of WhatsApp messages. The effort of the White House team was “apolitical,” said the participant, and undertaken “with the nation’s best interests in mind.”

Kushner’s team hammered out a detailed plan, which Vanity Fair obtained. It stated, “Current challenges that need to be resolved include uneven testing capacity and supplies throughout the US, both between and within regions, significant delays in reporting results (4-11 days), and national supply chain constraints, such as PPE, swabs, and certain testing reagents.”

The plan called for the federal government to coordinate distribution of test kits, so they could be surged to heavily affected areas, and oversee a national contact-tracing infrastructure. It also proposed lifting contract restrictions on where doctors and hospitals send tests, allowing any laboratory with capacity to test any sample. It proposed a massive scale-up of antibody testing to facilitate a return to work. It called for mandating that all COVID-19 test results from any kind of testing, taken anywhere, be reported to a national repository as well as to state and local health departments. 
And it proposed establishing “a national Sentinel Surveillance System” with “real-time intelligence capabilities to understand leading indicators where hot spots are arising and where the risks are high vs. where people can get back to work.” 
By early April, some who worked on the plan were given the strong impression that it would soon be shared with President Trump and announced by the White House. The plan, though imperfect, was a starting point. Simply working together as a nation on it “would have put us in a fundamentally different place,” said the participant.
But the effort ran headlong into shifting sentiment at the White House. Trusting his vaunted political instincts, President Trump had been downplaying concerns about the virus and spreading misinformation about it—efforts that were soon amplified by Republican elected officials and right-wing media figures. Worried about the stock market and his reelection prospects, Trump also feared that more testing would only lead to higher case counts and more bad publicity. Meanwhile, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, was reportedly sharing models with senior staff that optimistically—and erroneously, it would turn out—predicted the virus would soon fade away. 
Against that background, the prospect of launching a large-scale national plan was losing favor, said one public health expert in frequent contact with the White House’s official coronavirus task force. 
Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert. 
That logic may have swayed Kushner. “It was very clear that Jared was ultimately the decision maker as to what [plan] was going to come out,” the expert said.

They thought it would kill blue state voters and turn them against Biden and the governors like Gavin Newsom and Andrew Cuomo, so Trump let the virus kill people, and that by June it would be all over and he would look like a hero for protecting "the rest of America". They though tens of thousands of dead New Yorkers and Californians would help them win, so they let people get sick and die.

And then it got into red states like Texas, Georgia, Florida and Arizona, which anyone with an eighth of a brain could have told you was going to happen.

Now the entire country is suffering.  It's uncontrolled. 150,000 are dead and thousands more will die every day. 200,000 dead by Labor Day isn't out of the question.

Donald Trump is a monster.  We have to remove him from power.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Last Call For Orange Meltdown, Con't

Donald Trump is now publicly screaming at Dr. Anthony Fauci, because of course the fact that 150,000 plus Americans have died, the fact that Trump is losing, and the fact that he's going to prison can't be Donald Trump's fault.

President Donald Trump publicly rebuked Dr. Anthony Fauci on Saturday, forcefully rejecting the nation’s top infectious disease expert's testimony on why the U.S. has experienced a renewed surge in coronavirus cases.

“Wrong!” Trump wrote in a retweet of a video where Fauci explained to a House subcommittee that the U.S. has seen more cases than European countries because it only shut down a fraction of its economy amid the pandemic. “We have more cases because we have tested far more than any other country, 60,000,000. If we tested less, there would be less cases,” the president added.
Fauci made the remarks during his Friday testimony on the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, appearing with CDC Director Robert Redfield and Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir, contended that the White House’s decision to leave shutdown decisions to states allowed the virus to run rampant.

“If you look at what happened in Europe when they shut down … they really did it to the tune of about 95-plus percent,” Fauci said in his testimony after panel chair Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) presented a chart contrasting Covid-19 cases in the U.S. and Europe.

“When you actually look at what [the U.S.] did — even though we shut down, even though it created a great deal of difficulty — we really functionally shut down only about 50 percent of the totality of the country.”

Tensions between Trump and Fauci have been simmering for months. The president has previously retweeted posts calling for Fauci’s firing and allies of Trump’s, including top trade adviser Peter Navarro, have publicly attacked him in a smear campaign. Both Trump and Fauci maintain relations between them are good.

Trump has repeatedly claimed that the U.S. has a higher amount of cases because it tests more than any country, contradicting officials in his own administration and confounding public health experts. The president also said at a rally he had as such requested a slowdown in national testing — a claim White House officials later said was a joke.

The "we test more so we have more cases" theory is actually very sinister.

Trump believes that:

  • The majority of COVID-19 tests are false positives.
  • The majority of people sick from COVID-19 are sick for other reasons.
  • The majority of the deaths from COVID-19 are from people who have high-risk factors.
  • The CDC is recording the data to hurt him.
  • The CDC data is not real and has been manufactured.
  • Proof that Trump is the target is that the virus has been contained elsewhere.
  • The virus was safely contained elsewhere because it's not lethal.
  • All of this is a huge international conspiracy to deny him a second term.
In other words, Trump's malignant narcissism will ensure that the American people will never be allowed to take the steps needed in order to stop the virus, and that 30-40% of the population will openly refuse anyway, again ensuring that the virus can't be eradicated here, much less contained.

Trump attacking Fauci is all part of this.  Trump always needs an enemy to blame.

Always.
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