Friday, July 31, 2020

Last Call For Listen Up Y'All It's Sabotage

The Trump regime is burning down everything so that Joe Biden and the Democrats will have an impossible task ahead of them come January.  They've burned down the economy, they've burned down the public health system, they're now in the process of burning down the Postal Service.

President Trump’s yearslong assault on the Postal Service and his increasingly dire warnings about the dangers of voting by mail are colliding as the presidential campaign enters its final months. The result has been to generate new concerns about how he could influence an election conducted during a pandemic in which greater-than-ever numbers of voters will submit their ballots by mail.
In tweet after all-caps tweet, Mr. Trump has warned that allowing people to vote by mail will result in a “CORRUPT ELECTION” that will “LEAD TO THE END OF OUR GREAT REPUBLICAN PARTY” and become the “SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES.” He has predicted that children will steal ballots out of mailboxes. On Thursday, he dangled the idea of delaying the election instead.

Members of Congress and state officials in both parties rejected the president’s suggestion and his claim that mail-in ballots would result in widespread fraud. But they are warning that a huge wave of ballots could overwhelm mail carriers unless the Postal Service, in financial difficulty for years, receives emergency funding that Republicans are blocking during negotiations over another pandemic relief bill.

At the same time, the mail system is being undercut in ways set in motion by Mr. Trump. Fueled by animus for Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, and surrounded by advisers who have long called for privatizing the post office, Mr. Trump and his appointees have begun taking cost-cutting steps that appear to have led to slower and less reliable delivery.

In recent weeks, at the direction of a Trump campaign megadonor who was recently named the postmaster general, the service has stopped paying mail carriers and clerks the overtime necessary to ensure that deliveries can be completed each day. That and other changes have led to reports of letters and packages being delayed by as many as several days.
Voting rights groups say it is a recipe for disaster.

“We have an underfunded state and local election system and a deliberate slowdown in the Postal Service,” said Wendy Fields, the executive director of the Democracy Initiative, a coalition of voting and civil rights groups. She said the president was “deliberately orchestrating suppression and using the post office as a tool to do it.”

Trump will burn down the Census next month.

The Census Bureau is cutting short critical door-knocking efforts for the 2020 census amid growing concerns among Democrats in Congress that the White House is pressuring the bureau to wrap up counting soon for political gain, NPR has learned.

Attempts by the bureau's workers to conduct in-person interviews for the census will end on Sept. 30 — not Oct. 31, the end date it indicated in April would be necessary to count every person living in the U.S. given major setbacks from the coronavirus pandemic. Three Census Bureau employees, who were informed of the plans during separate internal meetings Thursday, confirmed the new end date with NPR. All of the employees spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of losing their jobs.

"It's going to be impossible to complete the count in time," said one of the bureau employees, an area manager who oversees local census offices. "I'm very fearful we're going to have a massive undercount."

Asked why and when the decision was made to move up the end of door knocking, the Census Bureau replied in a written statement Friday: "We are currently evaluating our operations to enable the Census Bureau to provide this data in the most expeditious manner and when those plans have been finalized we will make an announcement."

About 4 out of 10 households nationwide have still not participated in the constitutionally mandated count of every person living in the U.S., and self-response rates are even lower in many communities.

This month, the bureau began deploying door knockers to visit unresponsive homes in certain parts of the country. Door-knocking efforts are expected to roll out nationwide Aug. 11.

It's unclear how much longer households can submit census responses on their own by going online, over the phone and by mail. The bureau's website — which as recently as Thursday still listed Oct. 31 as the end of the "self-response phase" that began in March — now reads that phase will last until the end of field data collection.  
Kim Wyman, the Republican secretary of state in Washington, one of five states where mail-in balloting is universal, said Wednesday on NPR’s “1A” program that “election officials are very concerned, if the post office is reducing service, that we will be able to get ballots to people in time.”

It's straight-up sabotage of the government, and it helps Trump disenfranchise voters for years to come.  It may not save him in 2020, but it will be a massive obstacle to Democrats in 2022 and 2024, and with a massive Census undercount, it could be a decade-long disaster.

If Trump can;t control and profit from the government, then he will destroy the country to the point where misery will wreck everything.

We'll be fighting this for years.

The State Of The Police State, Con't

In Portland, Trump's Brownshirts are now going after the press as "national security threats" for exposing the use of military contractors for his private army.

The Department of Homeland Security has compiled “intelligence reports” about the work of American journalists covering protests in Portland, Ore., in what current and former officials called an alarming use of a government system meant to share information about suspected terrorists and violent actors.

Over the past week, the department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis has disseminated three Open Source Intelligence Reports to federal law enforcement agencies and others, summarizing tweets written by two journalists — a reporter for the New York Times and the editor in chief of the blog Lawfare — and noting they had published leaked, unclassified documents about DHS operations in Portland. The intelligence reports, obtained by The Washington Post, include written descriptions and images of the tweets and the number of times they had been liked or retweeted by others.

After The Post published a story online Thursday evening detailing the department’s practices, the acting homeland security secretary, Chad Wolf, ordered the intelligence office to stop collecting information on journalists and announced an investigation into the matter.

“Upon learning about the practice, Acting Secretary Wolf directed the DHS Intelligence & Analysis Directorate to immediately discontinue collecting information involving members of the press,” a department spokesman said in a statement. “In no way does the Acting Secretary condone this practice and he has immediately ordered an inquiry into the matter. The Acting Secretary is committed to ensuring that all DHS personnel uphold the principles of professionalism, impartiality and respect for civil rights and civil liberties, particularly as it relates to the exercise of First Amendment rights.”

Some of the leaked DHS documents the journalists posted and wrote about revealed shortcomings in the department’s understanding of the nature of the protests in Portland, as well as techniques that intelligence analysts have used. A memo by the department’s top intelligence official, which was tweeted by the editor of Lawfare, says personnel relied on “FINTEL,” an acronym for financial intelligence, as well as finished intelligence “Baseball cards” of arrested protesters to try to understand their motivations and plans. Historically, military and intelligence officials have used such cards for biographical dossiers of suspected terrorists, including those targeted in lethal drone strikes.

The DHS intelligence reports, which are unclassified, are traditionally used for sharing the department’s analysis with federal law enforcement agencies, state and local officials, and some foreign governments. They are not intended to disseminate information about American citizens who have no connection to terrorists or other violent actors and who are engaged in activity protected by the First Amendment, current and former officials said.

You can bet this order came from the White House, and Acting Brownshirt Coordinator Chad Wolf is pleading plausible deniability, but there's no way that federal agents willingly make more work for themselves like this unless they were told to do so.

And yes, it gets worse.  They are going to start putting journalists in jail by the boatload.

Federal officials responding to the long-running protests in Portland are asking that a court order protecting journalists be lifted on the grounds that some of those engaged in violence are masquerading as members of the press. 
Justice Department lawyers leveled the claims of misconduct by purported journalists in filings submitted Thursday to U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon, who issued a temporary restraining order last week forbidding federal authorities from targeting the press. 
His order also requires law enforcement to allow individuals claiming to be journalists to remain in place even when crowds are ordered to disperse.

The federal government’s drive to dissolve the injunction came just one day after the Trump administration struck a deal with Gov. Kate Brown (D-Ore.) to try to quell unrest and violence around the federal courthouse in Portland. 
Under the pact, Oregon State Police agreed to set up a security perimeter around the building, while federal law enforcement agents dispatched from around the country would retreat and eventually leave town. 
However, the feds’ bid to rescind the restraining order signals their desire to maintain maximum flexibility in responding to the unrest if they again assume a front-line role or if the state police arrangement proves inadequate. 
“Individuals are abusing the TRO to masquerade as members of the press and evade lawful orders, or actively participating in protest activities and even illegal acts while holding themselves out to be members of the press under the protection of the TRO,” Justice Department lawyers wrote. “Even individuals who are not expressly taking advantage of the TRO are often within crowds of protesters or between officers and active protesters making it incredibly difficult and dangerous to observe the restrictions while implementing crowd control measures.” 
“Savvy protesters abuse the TRO to evade lawful orders, impede law enforcement, and perpetrate crimes. The TRO has become ‘an instrument of wrong,’ and must be dissolved,” DOJ attorneys argued.

We got that?

The press is covering for terrorists, and we get to determine who the terrorists are. If they happen to be the press, well...

Again, this is the White House quite literally treating journalists as terrorists.  They are building intelligence files on the men and women covering the Trump regime's test run in Portland.  It absolutely will be rolled out to every major city in advance of the election.

We're a few months away from losing the country unless Trump is removed from office, and I no longer believe an election will do the job.

Tales Of The Trump Depression, Con't

Second-quarter GDP estimates are in and they are heart-stopping: the United States economy is on track to shrink by one-third by year's end.

The coronavirus pandemic sent the U.S. economy plunging by a record-shattering 32.9% annual rate last quarter and is still inflicting damage across the country, squeezing already struggling businesses and forcing a wave of layoffs that shows no sign of abating.

The economy’s collapse in the April-June quarter, stunning in its speed and depth, came as a resurgence of the viral outbreak has pushed businesses to close for a second time in many areas. The government’s estimate of the second-quarter fall in the gross domestic product has no comparison since records began in 1947. The previous worst quarterly contraction — at 10%, less than a third of what was reported Thursday — occurred in 1958 during the Eisenhower administration.

Soon after the government issued the bleak economic data, President Donald Trump diverted attention by suggesting a “delay” in the Nov. 3 presidential election, based on his unsubstantiated allegations that widespread mail-in voting will result in fraud. The dates of presidential elections are enshrined in federal law and would require an act of Congress to change.

So steep was the economic fall last quarter that most analysts expect a sharp rebound for the current July-September period. But with coronavirus cases rising in the majority of states and the Republican Senate proposing to scale back aid to the unemployed, the pain is likely to continue and potentially worsen in the months ahead.
The plunge in GDP “underscores the unprecedented hit to the economy from the pandemic,” said Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics. “We expect it will take years for that damage to be fully recovered.”


An unknown number of years to recover.

Just to get back to 4th quarter 2019.

And so many of us will not make it.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Last Call For Election Rejection

Donald Trump is now openly voicing the idea of not having an election in November due to "massive fraud" caused by people being allowed to vote for Joe Biden, or something.

President Donald Trump explicitly floated delaying November's presidential election on Thursday, lending extraordinary voice to persistent concerns that he would seek to circumvent voting in a contest where he currently trails his opponent by double digits. 
Trump has no authority to delay an election, and the Constitution gives Congress the power to set the date for voting. Lawmakers from both parties said almost immediately there was no likelihood the election would be delayed. 
Yet Trump's message provides an opening -- long feared by Democrats -- that both he and his supporters might refuse to accept the presidential results. In questioning the results ahead of time, Trump is priming those in his camp to doubt the legitimacy of whatever outcome emerges in the first weeks of November. 
In his tweet on Thursday morning -- coming 96 days before the election and minutes after the federal government reported the worst economic contraction in recorded history -- Trump offered the suggestion because he claimed without evidence the contest will be flawed
"With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA," he wrote. "Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???" 
There is no evidence that mail-in voting leads to fraud. 
Trump has previously sought to stoke fear and lay the groundwork to question the election's results by promoting the idea that mail-in voting leads to widespread fraud and a "rigged" election. Democrats have warned his efforts are meant both to suppress voting and to provide a reason to refuse to leave office should he lose. 
Trump's representatives had previously scoffed at Democratic suggestions he would attempt to delay the election, claiming they were unfounded conspiracies. His tweet on Thursday marks the first time Trump has openly raised the idea of moving the date of voting. 
On Thursday, Trump's campaign said the President was offering a query. 
"The President is just raising a question about the chaos Democrats have created with their insistence on all mail-in voting," campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley said. "They are using coronavirus as their means to try to institute universal mail-in voting, which means sending every registered voter a ballot whether they asked for one or not."

I'm glad Democrats understand that this is a ploy to undermine a Biden win giving cover to red states not to certify results showing Biden was victorious.  Mitch McConnell anf the GOP poured cold water on this idiocy this afternoon.

Trump's remarks were immediately panned by many top Republicans interviewed by CNN. US Senators including Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, and Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah —who represents a state where all registered voters are sent a mail ballot — said they disagreed with Trump and believed the election should go on as scheduled.

McConnell's top Republican counterpart in the House, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told CNN that "Never in the history of federal elections have we ever not held an election and we should go forward with our election."

Still, keep an eye on this.  There's plenty Republicans can do to delay, disenfranchise, and destroy this election, and they will.

The Final Nine, Nine, Nine

Former GOP presidential nominee Herman Cain has succumbed to COVID-19 after being hospitalized for the entire month of July.

Herman Cain, a former presidential hopeful who was once considered by President Donald Trump for the Federal Reserve, has died after being hospitalized with the coronavirus. He was 74.

Cain’s death was announced Thursday on his website by Dan Calabrese, who edits the site and had previously written about his colleague’s diagnosis.

“Herman Cain – our boss, our friend, like a father to so many of us – has passed away,” Calabrese said in the blog post. “We all prayed so hard every day. We knew the time would come when the Lord would call him home, but we really liked having him here with us, and we held out hope he’d have a full recovery.”

Cain was among the highest-profile public figures in the United States to have died from Covid-19. Less than two weeks before receiving his diagnosis, Cain had attended Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Cain had been a business executive and board chairman of a branch of Kansas City’s Federal Reserve Bank before moving into Republican politics and eventually becoming a presidential candidate.

Last year, Trump briefly considered picking Cain as his nominee to join the Federal Reserve Board. Cain remained a vocal supporter of Trump’s after his nomination was withdrawn.

Cain had been hospitalized in Atlanta on July 1, two days after being told he had tested positive for Covid-19, according to a statement posted to his social media accounts at the time.

He did not require a respirator and was “awake and alert” when he checked in to the hospital, the statement said. “Please join with us in praying for Mr. Cain, and for everyone who has contracted the coronavirus – as well as their families,” it said.

Cain tweeted a photograph of himself at Trump’s rally showing him surrounded by other attendees, none of whom appeared to be wearing masks or other protective gear.

I'm not noting this because Cain was a particularly great figure, he was a con man and cultist just like the rest of the GOP, Clarence Thomas without the robes.

I'm noting this because Donald Trump killed him.

Herman Cain didn't have to die.

153,000 Americans didn't have to die.

4.5 million Americans didn't have to get sick.

More are dying every day.

And it's only going to get worse this fall.

Orange Meltdown, Con't

The Trump campaign is writing off Michigan in an effort to go after the more competitive Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and to defend Iowa and Nevada.

President Trump’s campaign has quietly receded from the television airwaves in Michigan in recent weeks, shifting money elsewhere as one of the key Midwestern states that powered his surprise victory in 2016 threatens to move more firmly back into the Democratic column in 2020. 
Michigan began the year with expectations that it would be one of the most intense battlegrounds in the country, but its share of Trump television advertising dollars dwindled this summer as Joseph R. Biden Jr. built a steady advantage in the polls. 
Since the end of June, Mr. Trump has spent more money on ads in 10 other states — with Michigan falling behind even much smaller states like Iowa and Nevada — and in recent days, Mr. Trump’s campaign stopped buying ads in Michigan entirely. 
The Biden campaign has more than tripled what Mr. Trump spent on television in Michigan in the last month, by far the most lopsided advantage of any swing state where both are advertising. And in Detroit, the state’s largest media market, the Trump campaign last ran a television ad, outside of national ad buys that include the state, on July 3, according to data from Advertising Analytics. 
Mr. Trump faces a trifecta of troubles in Michigan, according to political strategists and state polling: reduced support among less educated white voters in a contest against Mr. Biden compared with Hillary Clinton; motivated Black voters in the state’s urban centers; and suburban voters who continue to flee Mr. Trump’s divisive brand of politics. 
“Of all the states he won in 2016, Trump would be most hard-pressed to keep Michigan in his column this time around,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster for Priorities USA, a Democratic super PAC.

Trump still gets re-elected if he should lose Michigan and  keeps all his 2016 states, and he can lose Pennsylvania and Wisconsin too if he picks up Nevada and New Hampshire, both of which are more competitive than Michigan right now.

It's good that Biden is pushing his lead and making Trump retreat, but the fact is Trump still can get to 270 without Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, or Michigan if Biden's not careful.

I'd still rather be Biden than Trump.  But Biden's lead is going to shrink, probably dramatically, as the race tightens up, and with mail-in ballots and GOP state legislatures possibly not certifying election results for weeks or months, nothing should be taken for granted.

Not even Trump giving up on Michigan.


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Last Call For The State Of The Police State, Con't

Oregon Democratic Gov. Kate Brown and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler have figured out that what Trump really wants from his performative stormtrooper ballet is something he can call a victory, and very wisely the effort is being made to give the Toddler-In-Chief a win on the scoreboard that doesn't involve splitting open people's heads like ripe melons.

The Trump administration has started talks with the Oregon governor’s office and indicated that it would begin to draw down the presence of federal agents sent to quell two months of chaotic protests in Portland if the state stepped up its own enforcement, a senior White House official said Tuesday. 
The official stressed to The Associated Press that the talks with the office of Democratic Gov. Kate Brown are in the early stages and there is no agreement. The official was not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations and spoke on the condition of anonymity. 
Brown didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office also didn’t immediately respond to an email. 
Just a day earlier, the U.S. Marshals Service and Department of Homeland Security were weighing whether to send in more agents. The marshals were taking steps to identify up to 100 additional personnel who could go in case they were needed to relieve or supplement the deputy marshals who work in Oregon, spokesman Drew Wade said. 
Homeland Security was considering a similar measure with Customs and Border Protection agents, according to an administration official with direct knowledge of the plans who was not authorized to speak publicly about the plans and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity. 
President Donald Trump did not let up on criticizing local authorities in their handling of the protests that began after George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police and have grown to include the presence of federal agents in Portland and other Democratic cities. 
The nightly protests often spiral into violence as demonstrators target the U.S. courthouse in Oregon’s largest city with rocks, fireworks and laser pointers and federal agents respond with tear gas, less-lethal ammunition and arrests. 
“We, as you know, have done an excellent job of watching over Portland and watching our courthouse where they wanted to burn it down, they’re anarchists, nothing short of anarchist agitators,” Trump said Tuesday. “And we have protected it very powerfully. And if we didn’t go there, I will tell you, you wouldn’t have a courthouse. You’d have a billion-dollar burned-out building.”

Trump wants to send in more contractors and spur a violent event that will become the catalyst for a crackdown. What Brown and Wheeler are trying to do is to give Trump a political win he can brag about, so he can go on TV and say he "saved Portland".  Trump fancies himself to be a dealmaker, not because he's good at making deals (he's horrific at it) but because his malignant narcissism requires that he believes everyone else operates within the same transactional social framework as he does.

What Trump wants is for people to say good things about him on TV, about how smart he is and how good of a negotiator he is, and how only he could resolve the protests in Portland. That's his ticket to a second term, he thinks.

He's wrong, and Brown and Wheeler are trying to manipulate him the way you would deal with any tantrum-prone 4-year-old. Someone's going to point that out to him and this ploy is probably going to fail miserably and end in bloodshed anyway, because Trump is also easily manipulated by his cadre of revenants, ghouls, and vampires and they've had a lot more practice at it.

But you have to give Brown and Wheeler credit here.  They are honestly trying to save lives by placating a buffoon in love with the smell of his own flatulence.

Not A Shutdown Countdown But Could Have Been

If you're wondering why Democrats refuse to use the power of the purse to punish Trump, it's because Dems don't have the desire to shut down the government and aren't going to pick a fight over anything in a presidential election year, not even DHS funding.

House Democrats on Tuesday were forced to pull their Homeland Security spending bill from the floor just days before it was slated for a vote, after it faced strong blowback from both progressives and centrists within the caucus.

Dozens of vulnerable Democrats in swing districts as well as progressives had threatened to torpedo the measure in recent days: The moderates argued the bill went too far in cracking down on immigration enforcement, while liberals argued it didn't do nearly enough to rein in the Trump administration's draconian policies.

“Frontline members raised serious concerns that the Homeland bill was a tough vote in swing districts because of its progressive provisions,” a House Democratic aide said Tuesday.

“At the end of the day, frontliners are our majority makers and there is no reason to force them to take a tough vote," the aide said, noting that the House would ultimately still need to negotiate with the Senate GOP to avert a government shutdown this fall. Congress is widely expected to enact a stopgap measure in September and punt any major funding decisions until after the November election.

The House had planned to take up the Department of Homeland Security funding measure on Friday, as part of a seven-bill, $1.4 trillion minibus. The package will now include just six bills, and is expected to easily pass.

The decision by Democratic leaders — while a relief for more moderate members — is a disappointment for appropriators, who had laced the bill with language to curb the Trump administration’s immigration agenda and cut Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention.

“This is probably the most progressive Homeland Security bill that has ever been presented to the House,” Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), the chair of the Homeland Security spending panel, said last week.

“It literally has everything in it that the advocates, the members, have told me over the years, had to be in the bill,” said Roybal-Allard, ticking off provisions that limit the number of detention beds and prevent the Trump administration from moving money around for its immigration priorities.

Democrats had also crafted an amendment to the DHS bill to block federal funding for the administration’s use of paramilitary action to quell protests in Oregon and Washington state, in hopes of winning over more progressive votes.

But leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus made clear that the amendment wasn't enough, and had been pressing leadership to strip the measure from the minibus.

“Voting to put so much money into this agency, at this moment, when these bills aren’t going to go anywhere in the Senate, I think makes no sense whatsoever,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of the CPC, said in an interview last week.

The reversal comes after several weeks of complaints from many Democrats, who questioned the merits of voting on a contentious immigration bill on the floor in an election-year, when it stood no chance of becoming law and would only highlight party divisions on the issue.

It's easy to say this is a rare misfire by Nancy Pelosi, bringing a bill to the floor she didn't have the votes for, and it sounds like she was nowhere near close to having them.  Not sure what she was thinking here, but it was an unforced error on her part.

The larger issue is that the Congressional Progressive Caucus in safe blue seats decided making the perfect the enemy of the good is why this vote had to be pulled.

It's also exactly why Trump never gets punished.

Fraud Of The Yankees

Donald Trump is such a thin-skinned man-child that he couldn't stand to see Dr. Anthony Fauci be invited to throw out a first pitch for the Washington Nationals last week, so much so that he invited himself to throw out the first pitch at a Yankees game, which was news to the Yankees and everyone else and then he "canceled" days later.

When he abruptly announced on Sunday that he would not be throwing out the first pitch at the Yankees game August 15, Donald Trump claimed that it was because he couldn’t break his “strong focus” on the coronavirus pandemic and a host of other issues he’s never before had a problem ignoring. But the real reason he won’t be taking the mound next month is far simpler: He hadn’t actually been asked.

According to the New York Times, the president surprised both the Yankees and his own staff when he said during a press conference that he’d be tossing the opening pitch on the 15th next month—a day he hadn’t been invited to do so, and which evidently conflicted with something already on his schedule. It’s not clear what that prior engagement is, but aides—shocked by his announcement—“scrambled to let the ballclub know that he already had plans for that Saturday. “We will make it later in the season!” Trump promised in his tweet canceling the outing.

Why would Trump impulsively announce he’d been asked to throw a ceremonial first pitch at a baseball game he hadn’t actually been invited to, on a date when he already had something on his schedule? Because Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert whose clear-eyed assessments of the coronavirus crisis contradict the president’s wishful thinking, was about to throw out the first pitch at the Washington Nationals home opener against the Yankees. Jealous of Fauci, and irritated that the public health expert is stealing the spotlight, Trump said an hour before the doctor’s first pitch Thursday that he, too, would be taking the rubber before a Yankees game. “Randy Levine is a great friend of mine from the Yankees,” the president said. “And he asked me to throw out the first pitch, and I think I’m doing that on August 15 at Yankee Stadium.”

Trump has done this kind of thing before, and for equally stupid, selfish reasons. The most recent example, perhaps, was his announcement in April that he’d be giving a commencement speech at West Point—surprising the school, and forcing cadets to return to campus in the middle of a pandemic to listen to him ramble. That outing didn’t go so well; his address was overshadowed by his slow, ginger walk down what he’d later claim, in one of his numerous ludicrous explanations for his careful gait, was a “very long & and steep…[and] very slippery” ramp. It’s possible he would have fared better on the mound; having a catch with former Yankees great Mariano Rivera outside the White House last week, his arm looked like it had some pop in it—enough, perhaps, to get the ball closer to the plate than Fauci, whose opening pitch was a bit low and outside. (“I completely miscalculated the distance from the mound,” Fauci told the Times Monday.)

He's a child.  I keep saying this, he keeps doing childish things, we admit he does, and we keep not saying "This is a child who should resign because he is an infantile moron incapable of the job". 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Last Call For Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

Riots in downtown Richmond over the weekend were instigated by white supremacists under the guise of Black Lives Matter, according to law enforcement officials.

Protesters tore down police tape and pushed forward toward Richmond police headquarters, where they set a city dump truck on fire.

Police declared the event an “unlawful assembly” and ordered people to leave, later deploying tear gas.

Six people were arrested. The mayor of Richmond thanked the Black Lives Matter protesters he said tried to stop the white supremacists from spearheading the violence.

“Their mission is simple, not the Richmond we know,” said Mayor Levar Stoney.

Besides the police department, damage also occurred in and around the VCU campus.

Meanwhile, the Trump regime is trying to instigate its own riot in Portland.

The Trump administration is sending more federal agents to Portland, Ore., as officials consider pushing back harder and farther against the growing crowds and nightly clashes with protesters, vandals and rioters, The Washington Post has learned.

To strengthen federal forces arrayed around the city’s downtown courthouse, the U.S. Marshals Service decided last week to send 100 deputy U.S. Marshals to Portland, according to an internal Marshals email reviewed by The Post. The personnel began arriving Thursday night, the email says.

The Department of Homeland Security is also considering a plan to send an additional 50 U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel to the city, but a final decision on the deployment has not been made, according to senior administration officials involved in the federal response who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations.

Such moves would mark a significant expansion of the federal force operating at the courthouse — there were 114 federal agents there in mid-July — though it is unclear how many personnel there now would be relieved and sent home once the reinforcements arrive.

“The agency took steps to identify up to 100 personnel to send to the District of Oregon in case they were needed to relieve or supplement deputies permanently stationed in the district,” Drew J. Wade, a spokesman for the Marshals Service, said in written statement. “They may also be used to rotate with personnel already sent there to support district operations during the civil unrest mission to insure the function and safety of judicial proceedings.”

A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security did not respond to requests for comment.

It'll just take one particularly bloody event where a lot of people are hurt or killed for Trump to start declaring martial law nationwide.

Just one.

And he needs it to happen before the election.

A Taxing Explanation, Con't

The fight over Trump's tax returns continues after the Supreme Court punt a few weeks ago, and the regime has no intention of cooperating with New York state prosecutors.

In a second amended complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan, Trump’s lawyers argued that the subpoena was “wildly overbroad,” and was issued in “bad faith” and amounts to “harassment.”

The subpoena “is so sweeping that it amounts to an unguided and unlawful ‘fishing expedition’ into the President’s personal and financial dealings,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in the complaint.
Trump, who is seeking re-election on Nov. 3, asked the court to declare the subpoena invalid.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance last August issued the grand jury subpoena to Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, demanding eight years of his business and personal returns and other documents as part of an investigation involving Trump and the Trump Organization, his family’s real estate business.

On July 9, the Supreme Court in a 7-2 vote rejected his argument that he was immune from state criminal probes while in the White House. The high court said, however, that Trump could challenge the subpoena on other grounds.

In the newly amended complaint, Trump’s lawyers say Vance is demanding documents that relate to topics beyond New York jurisdiction, and argue the subpoena was issued in bad faith because it mirrors a congressional subpoena.

Vance’s investigation began after reports that Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen paid pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 for her silence before the 2016 election about sexual encounters with Trump, which he has denied.

Carey Dunne, general counsel for Vance, on July 16 warned U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero against allowing Trump to delay long enough to get beyond statutes of limitations.

That's the real issue.  Trump's lawyers are trying to run out the clock on his tax crimes, ones that would almost certainly put him in prison for the rest of his life.  If he wins, he gets away with it. If he loses, he goes to jail.

That's the core of all of this.

Kentucky Goes Viral, Con't

Here in Kentucky, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear is closing bars and rolling back restaurant seating capacity for two weeks in order to cut down on COVID-19 cases.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday that Kentucky bars must close and restaurants will have to reduce their indoor capacity to 25 percent.

The order, which comes around a month after bars were allowed to open and restaurant capacity was allowed to increase to 50 percent, goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday and will last for two weeks.

“This is going to hurt a lot of restaurants,” Beshear said. “But the White House’s modeling shows this is absolutely necessary to control the spread.”

He dismissed the idea of increasing restrictions only in counties that are hardest hit, noting that 74 of Kentucky’s 120 counties are either listed as red or yellow by the White House as coronavirus cases spread.

Beshear said the administration will enforce “seat rules” for bars that serve food. Everyone who comes in must have a seat and must stay in that seat unless they’re going to the bathroom. Restaurants can have unlimited outdoor seating, so long as it complies with social distancing orders. He said he is hopeful that restaurants will be able to get back up to 50 percent after two weeks.

The order comes as the extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits from the federal government has expired. Congress is still negotiating whether they should extend the benefits. There are currently around 68,000 unresolved unemployment claims in Kentucky.

He also recommended that public and private schools in Kentucky wait until at least the third week of August to start in-person instruction.

“The line and the trend is undeniable,” Beshear said. “This virus is now escalating and spreading so much statewide that statewide action is necessary.”
Beshear made the order after a month of increased spread of COVID-19 throughout Kentucky. The 11,977 COVID-19 cases so far in July is nearly double the number of cases in June, even though the number of tests completed is similar. There were 169,495 people tested in June and 184,145 people have been tested so far in July. 

Bars and restaurant indoor seating never should have happened, and schools should remain closed.  Kentucky has nearly doubled our total cases in July and we almost certainly will by the end of the month, from 15,624 on June 30 to 27,601 now.  We'll almost certainly hit that 31,000 mark by Friday, and if we don't, we will by this time next week.

The depressing part is our daily testing average remains under 10k. We need to be testing 1% of the population per day to have any shot at rounding this thing up, and that means 45k tests per day.

The bigger issue is that daily hospitalizations have jumped 50% in the last two weeks from 400 per day on July 18 to 600 now.  We're rapidly running out of ICU beds here.

Right now deaths are coming in at about 10 per day still, but it's going to get much worse quickly if this rate keeps up.  We'll see if Beshear's latest order helps.

School starts in two weeks.


Monday, July 27, 2020

Last Call For Trump Goes Viral, Con't

Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Washington Post asks why Trump seems completely uninterested in getting rid of the virus.  The answer is he thinks it'll kill Black and Latino Americans and Democratic voters for him and make him president.

People close to Trump, many speaking anonymously to share candid discussions and impressions, say the president’s inability to wholly address the crisis is due to his almost pathological unwillingness to admit error; a positive feedback loop of overly rosy assessments and data from advisers and Fox News; and a penchant for magical thinking that prevented him from fully engaging with the pandemic.

In recent weeks, with more than 146,000 Americans now dead from the virus, the White House has attempted to overhaul — or at least rejigger — its approach. The administration has revived news briefings led by Trump himself and presented the president with projections showing how the virus is now decimating Republican states full of Trump voters. Officials have also set up a separate, smaller coronavirus working group led by Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, along with Trump son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

For many, however, the question is why Trump did not adjust sooner, realizing that the path to nearly all of his goals — from an economic recovery to an electoral victory in November — runs directly through a healthy nation in control of the virus.

“The irony is that if he’d just performed with minimal competence and just mouthed words about national unity, he actually could be in a pretty strong position right now, where the economy is reopening, where jobs are coming back,” said Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser to former president Barack Obama. “And he just could not do it.”
Many public health experts agree.

“The best thing that we can do to set our economy up for success and rebounding from the last few months is making sure our outbreak is in a good place,” said Caitlin Rivers, epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “People are not going to feel comfortable returning to activities in the community — even if it’s allowed from a policy perspective — if they don’t feel the outbreak is under control.”

Some aides and outside advisers have, in fact, tried to stress to Trump and others in his orbit that before he could move on to reopening the economy and getting the country back to work — and life — he needed to grapple with the reality of the virus.

But until recently, the president was largely unreceptive to that message, they said, not fully grasping the magnitude of the pandemic — and overly preoccupied with his own sense of grievance, beginning many conversations casting himself as the blameless victim of the crisis.

In the past couple of weeks, senior advisers began presenting Trump with maps and data showing spikes in coronavirus cases among “our people” in Republican states, a senior administration official said. They also shared projections predicting that virus surges could soon hit politically important states in the Midwest — including Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, the official said.

This new approach seemed to resonate, as he hewed closely to pre-scripted remarks in a trio of coronavirus briefings last week.

“This could have been stopped. It could have been stopped quickly and easily. But for some reason, it wasn’t, and we’ll figure out what that reason was,” Trump said Thursday, seemingly to simultaneously acknowledge his predicament while also trying to assign blame elsewhere.

He can't do it. 

He's emotionally and intellectually incapable of doing it. He thought that 1) COVID-19 was an "urban" problem that would punish big cities and spare his voters, and 2) he thought blue state governors like Cuomo and Newsom would get all the blame.

On top of that, he news stories in April that COVID-19 was causing a higher mortality rate among Black and Latino communities was when the virus stopped being a national concern to Republicans in general.  They all thought Trump was right and that COVID-19 was going to become a "poor Ni-CLANG!" disease that was going to be the Democrats' problem in 2020.

They weren't going to lift a finger until it started killing Florida seniors in The Villages.

Now it's too late.

The Road To Gilead, Con't

Two Bible Belt Republicans laid out their plans for what a post-Trump GOP will look like this weekend, and it looks like current GOP plans only without Trump's personal baggage weighing things down, making things much easier for them. Alabama Sen. Tom Cotton is all in on the police fascism angle and the slavery was 100% necessary evil angle, and now Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley is laying his marker down on ending abortion.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Sunday that he would not support any future nominee for the Supreme Court unless they had publicly stated before their nomination that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established federal protection for abortion, was “wrongly decided.”

“I will vote only for those Supreme Court nominees who have explicitly acknowledged that Roe v. Wade is wrongly decided,” Hawley said in an interview with The Washington Post. “By explicitly acknowledged, I mean on the record and before they were nominated.”

Hawley added: “I don’t want private assurances from candidates. I don’t want to hear about their personal views, one way or another. I’m not looking for forecasts about how they may vote in the future or predications. I don’t want any of that. I want to see on the record, as part of their record, that they have acknowledged in some forum that Roe v. Wade, as a legal matter, is wrongly decided.”

Hawley’s new marker comes as Republicans are preparing for the possibility that President Trump could name a third member of the court later this year, should there be a vacancy.

And it comes as conservatives nationally are pushing to overhaul the court’s jurisprudence supporting the right of a woman to choose the procedure. But they have recently been disappointed by the court’s rulings on this front — and particularly by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

Last month, the Supreme Court struck down a restrictive Louisiana abortion law. It was a dramatic victory for abortion rights activists and a bitter disappointment to conservatives in the first showdown on the issue since Trump’s remake of the court.

This is a win-win for Hawley, if Trump does win he's made his play for why he should be the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary as opposed to Huckleberry Graham, and if Trump loses, he has an instant 2024 platform to run against Biden on.

Meanwhile, Marco Rubio just got some bad news for 2022.

Former U.S. Rep. David Jolly may have some bigger moves in his future.

Jolly, the U.S. Rep. for Florida’s 13th Congressional District from 2014 to 2017, indicated on Twitter Sunday morning that he’s considering a run for Florida Governor or the U.S. Senate in 2022.

A tweet from TV personality Lea Black kicked off the idea. Black, a member of the cast of The Real Housewives of Miami, tweeted that she thought Jolly should run for Governor.

And Jolly, about five hours later, replied to her tweet.

“Thank you Lea. Very kind,” he tweeted at 7:05 a.m. “Haven’t ruled it out, but strongly considering the U.S. Senate seat in ’22. Will consider whether either is the right decision and decide about this time next year. For now, I’m loving the time at home with our little one! Many thanks.”

Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will be on the ballot in 2022.

Jolly, a former Republican, switched to be an Independent in 2018, and he indicated elsewhere on Twitter Sunday that he is not likely to return to his old party.

He replied to a comment critical of the GOP by saying, “Fully agree. Not going back.”

Ron DeSantis probably isn't going to be too popular in 2022 the way things are going on the COVID-19 front in the state right now, so that means Jolly can be a real nuisance for the Florida GOP in two years with either a run at Rubio or a run at DeSantis.

We'll see which one the GOP wants more.

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

Investigators believe a fire that caused extensive damage to state Democratic Party headquarters early on Friday in downtown Phoenix was intentionally set.

Heavy smoke and fire were billowing from the building about 1 a.m. near Central Avenue and Thomas Road as Phoenix firefighters arrived at the scene. They quickly entered the building in search of people and began a fire attack to put out the flames, according to officials.

No one was inside the building at the time, and no injuries were reported.

Phoenix Fire Investigation Task Force and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigators were investigating the fire. Phoenix police spokeswoman Sgt. Mercedes Fortune said the incident is being investigated as an arson based on evidence discovered at the scene.

Phoenix police also responded to the fire to assist with security and traffic control in the area, according to Fortune.

More information will be released as it becomes available, according to Fortune.

Felecia Rotellini, chair of the state Democratic Party, learned of the fire at 2 a.m. after the security system went off and staffers made her aware.

“At this point, it’s too soon to tell,” she said, referring to the extent of the damage. “The investigators are scheduled to be at the scene at 8 a.m. so we don’t know anything right now, but we’re very fortunate that everyone is safe and in this virtual environment. We can continue to run the party and do everything we need to do for November. 

The state's Democratic Party convention went on this weekend as planned because it was a mostly virtual event anyway.

Although members of the party were in "complete shock" at the news of the fire, they still managed to go on with the convention with some changes to the agenda, according to the party's communications director, Edder Diaz-Martinez.

The event was already planned to be virtual through Zoom because of COVID-19 with more than 700 people signed up.

Unlike previous meetings, Democratic Party members spent a few minutes speaking about the fire. Thousands of dollars in donations from legislative districts poured in to support the rebuilding of the party's headquarters later in the meeting with the state Democratic Party receiving more than $40,000 in donations.

Steven Slugocki, the county party chair, choked back tears while speaking about the fire that destroyed their office on Friday morning. Investigators say the fire was intentionally set based on the evidence discovered at the scene.

He described the event as a "heinous crime" that was deliberately set by someone who threw a "bomb" into the window.

Although most of the building was damaged, Slugocki pointed out that the Arizona and U.S. flags survived the flames.

"We won't let this deter us like the bird this city is named after — the Phoenix," Slugocki said. "We will rise from the ashes stronger than ever before."

"We have never backed down in the face of adversity. We will rebuild stronger than ever before," he added.

I hope so.  It won't be long now until one of these terrorists manages to cause a massive casualty event.

Then all bets are off as to what happens.

Donald Trump has many weapons at his disposal if he wants to try to cling to power after an election loss, but the general impression that he's a figure of stability is not one of them. He's trying to make that case right now by sending armed provocateurs into major cities. This is stirring the blood of Trump's base, but the rest of the country appears to be reacting with indifference -- Trump's job approval numbers continue to be awful, and his numbers in a matchup with Biden aren't getting better.

If Trump steals this election, it won't be because he wins respect as the strongman in a turbulent nation. It'll be because no one knows how to prevent him from doing legally indefensible things that the majority of Americans don't want done. It'll be because he has the Supreme Court, the U.S. Senate, and Rpublican-controlled state legislatures on his side, and no one can force them to acknowledge or ratify Biden victories in key states. Under these circumstances, Trump will continue to be widely hated, and to be seen as having driven the nation into a state of chaos, but he might emerge from the chaos having manipulated his way to a second term, with the help of people much smarter than he is, and nearly as amoral -- William Barr, Mitch McConnell, John Roberts -- along with lockstep loyalists in state governments.

Besides, Trump doesn't really want to be a stabilizing influence. He may think he does, but what he really wants is what he enjoys so much on Fox: endless conflict, with people like him depicted as heroes fighting a never-ending battle against the forces of pure evil. A public that doesn't want that seems prepared to defeat him decisively. Let's hope we succeed.

Assume now that Trump gets all the electoral votes in Florida, Georgia, Texas, NC, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and  Pennsylvania because the state legislatures refuse to certify elections. In fact, if we went solely by state legislatures, the electoral map looks like this:

Click the map to create your own at

Definitely something to keep in mind.


Sunday, July 26, 2020

Last Call For All Out, The Family

America is no longer a great place to raise a family, and the precipitous decline in birth rates (not to mention the massive disparity in pregnancy-related deaths among Black and Latino women) mean that increasingly the American dream of a house, two kids and a car are out of reach for the vast majority of us and that the increasingly majority decision by younger Gen Xers like myself, Millennials, and Zoomers now entering their twenties to not raise a family in the US is a completely conscious, if not moral one.

In case you thought America wasn’t experiencing enough turmoil of late, the United States has been named the second-worst wealthy nation in which to raise a family in 2020, according to new research by travel site Asher & Lyric.

“The first time I looked at the data, I was in disbelief,” co-founder Lyric Benson-Fergusson said of the findings in the “Raising a Family Index” (RAFI).

The Los Angeles-based mother of two started the site with her Aussie husband, Asher Fergusson, to help people “stay safe, healthy, and happy at home and while traveling,” per the website’s description.

To determine the most and least family-friendly countries, the couple rated 35 OECD countries (part of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development forum) according to safety, happiness, cost, health, education and time.

The US clocked in at an abysmal 34th place, just ahead of last-place finisher Mexico, whose murder rate jumped to the highest in nearly two years as drug cartels have run amok during the coronavirus lockdown. Leading the pack of overall fam-safe nations were Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland.

“I think if we, as Americans, are truly honest with ourselves, we might understand why the United States ranks solidly as the second-worst country to raise a family,” said Benson-Fergusson.

Case in point: The red-white-and-blue came in dead last in terms of time — which the RAFI gauged by maternity leave, vacation days and other factors — and cost, as measured by out-of-pocket health spending, cost of living, income ratio and more.

The study noted that the US is the only country that doesn’t require employers to offer maternity leave. Even worse, the average household blows 31.79% of their income on child care compared to the 4 to 10% spent by Scandinavian nations.

Most surprising was America’s global safety rating, which was, according to the research, the second-poorest after Mexico.

Despite statistics showing that reported crimes have been on the decline nationwide, the US homicide rate is still eclipsed only by Mexico, per the research. And America reportedly tops the list in school shootings with a whopping 288 incidents from 2009 to 2018, with Mexico placing second at eight and all other countries recording zero, per the study.

The Land of the Free also came in “fourth-worst” for human rights — here defined broadly across several categories including “protection against enslavement, the right to free speech and the right to education.”

Think about that.  We're 34 out of 35, just ahead of a literal narco-state, and the main reason Mexico's crime rate is so bad is because of our War on Drugs.

Do you blame anyone between 18-45 in not having kids?  Because I'm noticing that it's becoming a majority position for a lot of us these days.

Working The Refs, Senate GOP Edition

With 100 days to go until the election, Senate Republicans are now directly complaining to the media that Democratic challengers aren't being "scrutinized" enough and the GOP wants the Village to start demanding Important Debates In The Age Of Covid.

In Iowa, Sen. Joni Ernst (R) has challenged her Democratic competitor to six debates, starting in August. In North Carolina, Sen. Thom Tillis (R) pressed his Democratic opponent to accept five debates, which he wanted to start in the spring.

And in Maine, Sen. Susan Collins (R) declared that she wants to debate her opponent 16 times, once in each of the state’s counties, starting immediately.

Republicans acknowledge that this upends the usual debate about debates, in which an incumbent rarely wants to give the challenger the same platform. Incumbent senators are pleading with their lesser-known rivals to join them on debate stages, or Zoom, trying to elevate the profile of these Democrats.
But they view this as a matter of necessity in a campaign in which Republicans are running into the head winds of President Trump’s sagging poll numbers amid his stumbling response to the coronavirus pandemic.

And the pandemic has limited campaign activities that are normal for a big Senate race, activities such as state fairs, beach walks and large church services — and without those staples, there are fewer chances for candidates to make mistakes.

Instead, Republicans are growing fearful that Democratic candidates are receiving such little scrutiny that they could steamroll to victory, and to the Senate majority, mostly by raising huge amounts of money that fund smart media campaigns on TV and social media.

“The more voters see their candidates, the worse off they are. This is a very weak crop of recruits,” said Jesse Hunt, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

No writing by WaPo's Paul Kane that the Democrats are not a "weak crop of recruits".  In fact this seems like a straight up NRSC press release.

Republicans think that if they can get on a debate stage with these nominees, they can make them look foolish.

“We’ve invited him — how many times does an incumbent invite a challenger to debates? He’s deferred on all,” Tillis complained in a recent interview with the conservative outlet Newsmax.

Tillis’s campaign has created a logo accusing Cunningham of campaigning from the “DSCC windowless basement.”

Cunningham and Tillis agreed Friday to two debates and are trying to schedule a third, not quite the five the incumbent wanted.

I don't blame the GOP here, they're headed for loss of the Senate unless something changes dramatically overall (very unlikely) or enough changes individually in each race.  But this nonsense where Republicans are demanding eight or ten or sixteen debates is pure working the ref, and I'm glad to see that Democrats aren't falling for the "debate me you coward!" ploy.

Our Village betters though are already vulnerable.  Expect to see a lot more of this in the weeks ahead as they try to create a controversy.

Sunday Long Read: The Most Luxurious Lip-Sync

Author and comic Sarah Cooper has become something of an internet phenomenon by lip-syncing Donald Trump's rambling speeches on social media, and in treating Trump like the gigantic cosmic buffoon that he is, we all get a much needed laugh.

Donald Trump is hard to listen to. That was true even before he was elected president of the United States, but the power he commands now makes hearing from him that much more agonizing. 
At press conferences and rallies, his words tumble out in a furious clutter. Some of it is hateful and frightening. Some of it is incomprehensible, which is alarming for its own reasons. When he submits to interviews, even well-prepared journalists like Leslie Stahl and Chris Wallace look somewhat agog. He said what?

The problem is also his voice. The novelist Lorrie Moore has insisted that it “has music,” but I hear the record skipping. His voice sounds pinched and abrasive, even grating. It sounds condescending. It sounds familiar to women who have been talked over in meetings.

So it comes as a surprise to those of us who once preferred not to listen to it for extended periods of time that that voice has begun to inspire a different reaction—not despair or rage but laughter.

For the past several months, comedian and actor Sarah Cooper has been posting videos to TikTok and Twitter in which she impersonates the president. The imitations set her apart from those who’ve mocked Trump in the past. Unlike Alec Baldwin, who crowned his famous impressions with a flaxen helmet, she makes no effort to look like him. Unlike Stephen Colbert, who has at this point caricatured most members of the Trump clan, she doesn’t even attempt to sound like him.

In truth it isn’t fair to write that Cooper mimics Trump when what she does so well is pantomime him. While his voice rambles on in her videos, Cooper moves her own lips with frightening precision. The result feels like watching the social media era’s first silent film star. The bluster and performance are the point.

Case in point:

Cooper has been doing this bit since April and it's still hysterical.

He's getting exactly what he deserves, and I hope Cooper gets an amazing gig out of this.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Last Call For Not Even The Ghost Of The Gipper

Not even Zombie Ronald Reagan wants anything to do with Der Trumpenfuhrer anymore.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, which runs the 40th president’s library near Los Angeles, has demanded that President Trump and the Republican National Committee (RNC) quit raising campaign money by using Ronald Reagan’s name and likeness.
“It was simply handled with a phone call mid-last week to the RNC, and they agreed to stop,” Reagan Foundation chief marketing officer Melissa Giller said in an email Saturday.

What came to the foundation’s attention — and compelled officials there to complain — was a fundraising email that went out July 19 with “Donald J. Trump” identified as the sender and a subject line that read: “Ronald Reagan and Yours Truly.”

The solicitation offered, for a donation of $45 or more, a “limited edition” commemorative set featuring two gold-colored coins, one each with an image of Reagan and Trump. The coins were mounted with a 1987 photograph of Reagan and Trump shaking hands in a White House receiving line — the type of fleeting contact that presidents have with thousands of people a year.

“Friend,” the fundraising email purportedly from Trump said, “I just saw our new Trump-Reagan Commemorative Coin Sets and WOW, these coins are beautiful - I took one look and immediately knew that I wanted YOU to have a set. These aren’t any ordinary coins. They symbolize an important time in our Nation. This year, in addition to being re-elected as YOUR President, it also marks the 40th anniversary of our Nation’s 40th President, Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately, we already sold out of the first batch we had in stock. But I liked these coins so much that I asked my team to rush order another batch for my TOP SUPPORTERS ONLY.”

It cautioned: “I’ve authorized a very limited production of these iconic coins, which is why I’m ONLY offering them to our top supporters, like YOU. This offer is NOT available to the general public, so please, do NOT share this email with anyone.”

Proceeds from the coin sales went to the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising operation that benefits both the Trump campaign and the RNC.

I keep thinking of Reagan's infamous "11th Commandment" -- Thou Shalt Not Disparage Another Republican -- and I laugh for a good fifteen minutes.

Not even Reagan wants anything to do with Trump the Nazi loser.

The Country Goes Viral, Con't

Our old friends at Sinclair Broadcasting are openly working to discredit Dr. Fauci publicly through the dozens of local TV news station that they own, with a horrific lie that may threaten public safety across the country.

Local television stations owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group are set to air a conspiracy theory over the weekend that suggests Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top expert on infectious diseases, was responsible for the creation of the coronavirus. 
The baseless conspiracy theory is set to air on stations across the country in a segment during the program "America This Week" hosted by Eric Bolling. The show, which is posted online before it is broadcast over the weekend, is distributed to Sinclair Broadcast Group's network of local television stations, one of the largest in the country. A survey by Pew Research Group earlier this year showed that local news was a vital source of information on the coronavirus for many Americans, and more trusted than the media overall. 
In this week's episode of the show, Bolling spoke with Judy Mikovits, the medical researcher featured in the discredited "Plandemic" video that went viral earlier this year and which was banned from platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. Throughout the segment, the on-screen graphic read, "DID DR. FAUCI CREATE COVID-19?" 
Bolling also spoke with Mikovits' attorney, Larry Klayman, a right-wing lawyer who also has a history of pushing misinformation and representing conspiracy theorists. 
During the interview Mikovits told Bolling that Fauci had over the past decade "manufactured" and shipped coronaviruses to Wuhan, China, which became the original epicenter of the current outbreak. Bolling noted that this was a "hefty claim," but did not meaningfully challenge Mikovits and allowed her to continue making her case. 
Klayman, who did not respond to a request for comment, also pushed conspiracy theories about the coronavirus. He said the "origins" of the virus were in the United States. Bolling didn't meaningfully challenge Klayman either. 
In the segment that immediately followed, Bolling spoke to Dr. Nicole Saphier, a Fox News medical contributor, to get her response to the claims from Mikovits and Klayman. 
Bolling and Saphier agreed that it was, in Saphier's words, "highly unlikely" that Fauci was behind the coronavirus. But they went on to theorize about other possible explanations for what had happened. Saphier said it was possible the virus was "man-made within a laboratory" and escaped. That claim has been rejected by experts who have studied the virus' genetic sequence. 

And now millions of people who get their information from the local news station they trust are going to be wondering if Dr. Fauci created the "China virus" to hurt Donald Trump's reelection and to destroy America on purpose.

Sinclair should have their FCC license revoked for this, but of course that won't happen.  But now we have to deal with this on top of everything else.

Bluenami Tsunami, Con't

Even grouchy contrarian Josh "The Democrats are always in trouble" Kraushaar now has the Republicans drowning in a tidal wave come November.

There are hints of the looming GOP shellacking all over. Joe Biden is up by a whopping 13 points in Trump’s new home state of Florida, according to a new Quinnipiac poll, as close to a must-win as it gets for the president. Trump is trailing in Texas by 1 point, consistent with other surveys showing the president in trouble in a state Republicans have carried in every election since 1976. Democrats are investing millions in Georgia, convinced that they can contest not just the presidential race but both Senate seats up for grabs in the traditionally red state. Democrats provided us with remarkable internal data from reliably Republican House seats—from Oklahoma to Indiana—showing districts that Trump carried by double-digits are now Biden battlegrounds in the presidential race.

Biden is now the heavy favorite to win the presidency. This week, The Cook Political Report declared Democrats are favored to win back the Senate, with a massive Democratic gain of five to seven seats more likely than a narrow Republican majority. And our House race rankings of the most competitive races contained more Republican-held seats than Democratic ones, a stunning dynamic given how many red-district seats Democrats are defending after riding a big blue wave in the 2018 midterms.

Indeed, the last midterm election is a useful benchmark for examining this year’s election. Optimistic Republican strategists are holding out hope that the political environment would be similar to that of two years ago, when Republicans badly struggled in the suburbs but ran competitively in wide swaths of the country. Republicans point out that GOP candidates notched a few significant wins that year despite their overall struggles, winning a big Senate seat and governor’s race in Florida, toppling a couple of red-state Democratic senators, and holding their own in working-class territory where Trump made major gains in his first presidential race.

Right now, replicating that 2018 environment looks like a best-case scenario for Republicans. They’re losing even more ground in the suburbs, forcing the party to write off nearly any district where Trump was already losing ground before. And as the coronavirus continues to spread across the country, Republicans are taking hits among normally dependable white working-class constituencies. The rural heartland of Iowa would normally be a golden opportunity for Republicans to mount a comeback. Instead, GOP Sen. Joni Ernst is struggling against a little-known challenger, and the GOP could whiff on three promising pickup opportunities in the House.
Actions are speaking as loudly for Republicans as the polls. Trump’s decision to dramatically scale back the Republican convention—canceling proceedings in Jacksonville after demanding a packed house full of Trump supporters weeks ago—is a sign of Republicans’ declining fortunes. A clear majority of voters don’t believe Trump has taken the pandemic seriously, and is continuing to punish him and his party for the misconduct. With early voting in many states beginning in two months, there’s not much time left for the president to shake off the widespread perception of incompetence on the biggest issue of the day. Businesses have again been forced to close in major hotspots across the South and Sun Belt, threatening another economic speed bump that Republicans simply can’t afford.

Internal Republican divisions are also beginning to emerge, in ways that suggest the party is already looking ahead to a post-Trump future. Republicans are struggling to find consensus on a new coronavirus-relief package, a fight that pits fiscal conservatives wary of spending additional public money against the risk of economic calamity that awaits if they don’t. Several House GOP hard-liners went after Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney this week, accusing her of being insufficiently supportive of the president. Cheney, a potential future party leader, fired back by portraying them as political nihilists. In Kansas, outside Republican groups are pouring millions into a primary in a desperate attempt to prevent a hard-right candidate from costing the party an otherwise winnable Senate race.

This is the sign of a political death spiral. At this point, Republicans would be content to suffer through another blue-wave election, holding out hope the Senate could remain narrowly in Republican hands. Right now, Republicans are staring at the reality of a historic tsunami, wiping out all their avenues of power in a rebuke against a hapless president

"Hotline" Josh Kraushaar usually can't get enough of Democratic misery, so for him to openly proclaim a "political death spiral" like this is a pretty good sign for November.

Also this weekend Cook Political Report's Amy Walter moves Florida into Biden's column, giving him an overwhelming electoral college win in November.

Given its track record in presidential campaigns over the last 20 years, it’s hard to think of Florida as anything other than a Toss Up. Since 2000, the winner of the state has never carried it by more than 5 points. In fact, in four of the last five presidential elections, the winner squeaked in by 3 points or less.

But, at this point, this battleground state looks less like a 50-50 proposition and more like a state that is leaning Biden’s way.
To paraphrase CNN’s crack polling analyst Harry Enten; sometimes politics is complicated, sometimes it’s not. Right now, it’s really not. When a major health crisis hits, Americans expect their leaders to handle it. If they don’t, voters will turn against them.

In Florida, as COVID-19 cases started to rise this summer, Trump has seen his vote margin and his job approval rating drop.

In the FiveThirtyEight poll tracker, Trump held a decent — though unimpressive, 47-48 percent of the vote against Joe Biden in the Sunshine state from March through April. By May, it had dropped to 45 percent. He has spent most of June in the 42-43 percent range. Biden’s lead has expanded from 2 points in March to almost 7 points in July.

It’s not just Trump who has seen his numbers slump as the state has struggled to contain the virus this summer. GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis has seen a drastic change in his political fortunes from spring to summer. A Quinnipiac poll released this week found DeSantis’ job approval rating at just 41 percent favorable to 52 percent unfavorable — a 19 point shift in negative opinion since April.

That July Quinnipiac poll found Biden leading Trump by 20 points on who is best able to handle the coronavirus, including an eight-point lead with those 65 and older. For months, Trump has questioned the severity of this crisis. But in Florida, 83 percent of voters see coronavirus as a serious problem, and 66 percent are very, or somewhat worried that they will get this virus. The only group not taking coronavirus seriously are Republican voters; 52 percent say they think the virus is under control.

Back in April, the last time Quinnipiac polled Florida, Biden had a narrow 4 point (46-42 percent) lead. In July, that lead has ballooned to 13 points (51-38). The big changes from April to July were among independents (Biden went from +7 to +16), men (Biden from -6 to +7) and white men (Biden from -21 to -11). Biden also improved his vote among Latinos by 9 points (from +8 to +17).

Trump supporters can criticize Quinnipiac’s recent track record in the state (their final polls in 2018 showed Democrats significantly ahead in both the Governor and Senate races). Even so, theIr final 2016 poll showed a dead heat in a state that Trump won by less than 2 points. More important than any polling, however, is the fact that Trump announced on Thursday that the RNC was cancelling their convention in Jacksonville. This is about all the proof you need that he and the campaign realize how big of a hole he’s currently sitting in.

Florida always finds a way to stay close. And, there’s reason to believe that Trump can win back some of the white men he lost from April to July. But, Biden is better positioned with these voters than Hillary Clinton was in 2016. A July 2016 Quinnipiac poll found Clinton’s favorable/unfavorable rating in the state at a dismal 35 to 59 percent (including 53 percent who viewed her very unfavorably). Opinions of Biden are evenly divided - 43 percent favorable to 43 percent unfavorable. Among white men, 71 percent viewed the former Secretary of State very unfavorably in July of 2016. Biden’s strongly unfavorable ratings among these voters are 44 percent.

Indeed, at this point Cook has Biden at 308 to Trump's 187, with tossups now moving to Trump's firewall states of AZ, GA, NC and Maine's 2nd. And yes, Iowa, Ohio, and Texas are all in play.

Having said that, my usual caveat: Trump's goal is to use COVID-19, federal mercenaries, a depression, and a broken Postal Service to drive turnout to under 40% so he can win.

Take nothing for granted, including your right to vote.

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