Monday, August 31, 2020

Last Call For America Goes Super-Viral

The Trump regime has given up any pretense of trying to save the country from a deadly pandemic and is now openly toying with the idea of simply stopping the fight against COVID-19 and to let it run its course by lifting all safety precautions, with a couple hundred million people infected and millions dead as a result.

One of President Trump’s top medical advisers is urging the White House to embrace a controversial “herd immunity” strategy to combat the pandemic, which would entail allowing the coronavirus to spread through most of the population to quickly build resistance to the virus, while taking steps to protect those in nursing homes and other vulnerable populations, according to five people familiar with the discussions.
The administration has already begun to implement some policies along these lines, according to current and former officials as well as experts, particularly with regard to testing.

The approach’s chief proponent is Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist from Stanford’s conservative Hoover Institution, who joined the White House earlier this month as a pandemic adviser. He has advocated that the United States adopt the model Sweden has used to respond to the virus outbreak, according to these officials, which relies on lifting restrictions so the healthy can build up immunity to the disease rather than limiting social and business interactions to prevent the virus from spreading.

Sweden’s handling of the pandemic has been heavily criticized by public health officials and infectious-disease experts as reckless — the country has among the highest infection and death rates in the world. It also hasn’t escaped the deep economic problems resulting from the pandemic.

But Sweden’s approach has gained support among some conservatives who argue that social distancing restrictions are crushing the economy and infringing on people’s liberties.

That this approach is even being discussed inside the White House is drawing concern from experts inside and outside the government who note that a herd immunity strategy could lead to the country suffering hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lost lives.

“The administration faces some pretty serious hurdles in making this argument. One is a lot of people will die, even if you can protect people in nursing homes,” said Paul Romer, a professor at New York University who won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2018. “Once it’s out in the community, we’ve seen over and over again, it ends up spreading everywhere.”

Atlas, who does not have a background in infectious diseases or epidemiology, has expanded his influence inside the White House by advocating policies that appeal to Trump’s desire to move past the pandemic and get the economy going, distressing health officials on the White House coronavirus task force and throughout the administration who worry that their advice is being followed less and less.

Atlas declined an interview request. White House spokesman Judd Deere did not respond to specific questions for this story and instead said in a statement that Atlas is a “world renowned physician and scholar of advanced medical care and health care policy” and criticized the media for reporting on the topic.

White House officials said Trump has asked questions about herd immunity but has not formally embraced the strategy. The president, however, has made public comments that advocate a similar approach.

It's okay, the White House has been lying about the response to COVID-19 for months now.

Today, Rep. James E. Clyburn, Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, released eight weeks of White House Coronavirus Task Force reports obtained in response to the Select Subcommittee’s July 29, 2020, request to Vice President Mike Pence and White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx. These reports—which the White House sent privately to states but did not disclose to the public—directly contradict the Administration’s rosy public statements downplaying the threat of the virus.

The Task Force reports released today show the White House has known since June that coronavirus cases were surging across the country and many states were becoming dangerous ‘red zones’ where the virus was spreading fast,” said Chairman Clyburn. “Rather than being straight with the American people and creating a national plan to fix the problem, the President and his enablers kept these alarming reports private while publicly downplaying the threat to millions of Americans. As a result of the President’s failures, more than 58,000 additional Americans have died since the Task Force first started issuing private warnings, and many of the Task Force’s recommendations still have not been implemented. It is long past time that the Administration finally implement a national plan to contain this crisis, which is still killing hundreds of Americans each day.”

There's little doubt that if the American people refuse to make Republicans pay politically for the 185,000 dead, then millions more will be sacrificed in a second Trump term on the altar of "freedom". These assholes finally will have a national strategy, and that's "Let the states decide who survives, we no longer care."

Of course, that's been the actual strategy from March of this year, but now it'll have the CDC stamp of approval on it. You'll get sick and live, or not. Liberty and Justice for all!

Russian To Judgment, Con't

In a story based on NY Times reporter Michael Schmidt's book on the Mueller probe, "Donald Trump v The United States" out this week, we find that the more we find out about the Mueller probe, the more it appears that Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein tied Robert Mueller's hands to sabotage the investigation from Day 1.

The Justice Department secretly took steps in 2017 to narrow the investigation into Russian election interference and any links to the Trump campaign, according to former law enforcement officials, keeping investigators from completing an examination of President Trump’s decades-long personal and business ties to Russia.

The special counsel who finished the investigation, Robert S. Mueller III, secured three dozen indictments and convictions of some top Trump advisers, and he produced a report that outlined Russia’s wide-ranging operations to help get Mr. Trump elected and the president’s efforts to impede the inquiry.

But law enforcement officials never fully investigated Mr. Trump’s own relationship with Russia, even though some career F.B.I. counterintelligence investigators thought his ties posed such a national security threat that they took the extraordinary step of opening an inquiry into them. Within days, the former deputy attorney general Rod J. Rosenstein curtailed the investigation without telling the bureau, all but ensuring it would go nowhere.
A bipartisan report by the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee released this month came the closest to an examination of the president’s links to Russia. Senators depicted extensive ties between Trump associates and Russia, identified a close associate of a former Trump campaign chairman as a Russian intelligence officer and outlined how allegations about Mr. Trump’s encounters with women during trips to Moscow could be used to compromise him. But the senators acknowledged they lacked access to the full picture, particularly any insight into Mr. Trump’s finances.

Now, as Mr. Trump seeks re-election, major questions about his approach to Russia remain unanswered. He has repeatedly shown an openness to Russia, an adversary that attacked American democracy in 2016, and refused to criticize or challenge the Kremlin’s increasing aggressions toward the West. The president has also rejected the intelligence community’s finding that Russia interfered in 2016 to bolster his candidacy and the spy agencies’ assessment that Russia is trying to sabotage this year’s election again on his behalf.

Mr. Rosenstein concluded the F.B.I. lacked sufficient reason to conduct an investigation into the president’s links to a foreign adversary. Mr. Rosenstein determined that the investigators were acting too hastily in response to the firing days earlier of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, and he suspected that the acting bureau director who approved the opening of the inquiry, Andrew G. McCabe, had conflicts of interest.

Mr. Rosenstein never told Mr. McCabe about his decision, leaving the F.B.I. with the impression that the special counsel would take on the investigation into the president as part of his broader duties. Mr. McCabe said in an interview that had he known Mr. Mueller would not continue the inquiry, he would have had the F.B.I. perform it.

“We opened this case in May 2017 because we had information that indicated a national security threat might exist, specifically a counterintelligence threat involving the president and Russia,” Mr. McCabe said. “I expected that issue and issues related to it would be fully examined by the special counsel team. If a decision was made not to investigate those issues, I am surprised and disappointed. I was not aware of that.”

Rod Rosenstein killed the FBI's investigation into Trump's Russia financial ties more than three years ago, and since then all kinds of evidence have emerged showing that Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner were deep in the pockets of Russian oligarchs with a huge money laundering scheme, posing an unprecedented national security risk due to financial blackmail.

And speaking of Kushner, he's just as much of a national security threat as Trump is, if not more.

On Feb. 23, 2018, White House counsel Don McGahn sent a two-page memo to Chief of Staff John Kelly arguing that Jared Kushner's security clearance needed to be downgraded, the New York Times' Michael Schmidt reports in his forthcoming book, "Donald Trump v. The United States."

Driving the news: Schmidt reports directly from the confidential McGahn memo for the first time, describing how Kelly had serious concerns about granting Kushner a top-secret clearance in response to a briefing he had received related to the routine FBI investigation into Kushner’s background. 
"The information you were briefed on one week ago and subsequently relayed to me, raises serious additional concerns about whether this individual ought to retain a top security clearance until such issues can be investigated and resolved," McGahn wrote in the memo to Kelly. 
The details of the highly sensitive intelligence that raised alarms with Kelly are not revealed in the McGahn memo or in Schmidt's book. 
McGahn wrote that he had been unable to receive the briefing or "access this highly compartmented information directly" about Kushner, Schmidt reports. 
"Interim secret is the highest clearance that I can concur until further information is received," McGahn concluded, referring to the level of classified information Kushner would be able to access.

Between the lines: "By reducing Kushner's clearance from top secret to secret, McGahn and Kelly had restricted Kushner's access to the PDB, the closely held rundown provided by the intelligence community six days a week for the president and his top aides, and other highly sensitive intelligence that exposed sources and methods."

Trump directly gave Kushner the highest security clearance so he could be briefed on top intelligence Trump didn't have to deal with it.

And on top of all that, Schmidt's book reveals that after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, he offered to give the job to then DHS head John Kelly on the condition that his loyalties remained solely with Trump.

The day after President Trump fired FBI boss James Comey, the president phoned John Kelly, who was then secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, and offered him Comey's job, the New York Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Michael Schmidt reports in his forthcoming book, "Donald Trump v. The United States."

Driving the news: "But the president added something else — if he became FBI director, Trump told him, Kelly needed to be loyal to him, and only him." 
"Kelly immediately realized the problem with Trump's request for loyalty, and he pushed back on the president's demand," Schmidt writes. 
"Kelly said that he would be loyal to the Constitution and the rule of law, but he refused to pledge his loyalty to Trump."

Why it matters: This previously unreported conversation sheds additional light on the president's mindset when he fired Comey. Special counsel Robert Mueller never learned of this information because the president's lawyers limited the scope of his team's two-hour interview with Kelly. 
"In addition to illustrating how Trump viewed the role and independence of senior officials who work for him, the president's demand for loyalty tracked with Comey's experience with Trump," Schmidt writes.

We knew Muller was sabotaged, now we know why.

Donald Trump has moved mountains and suborned an entire political party, not to mention the American judiciary to protect his financial records from any scrutiny. The DoJ failed to look into his fiances. The Senate failed to look into Trump's finances. The House was blocked by years of lawsuits.

We're about to find out the truth.

Biden, His Time

Democrats keep having to play by the rules while nobody cares what the GOP does, especially Trump. Bill Clinton had to denounce rapper Sister Souljah in a 1992 moment that became shorthand for white Democrats telling Black America to stop being so violent all the time, something Republicans constantly bring up whenever we get too rowdy, Barack Obama had to denounce Pastor Jeremiah Wright's "God Damn America" speech, and now apparently Joe Biden has to denounce the Black Lives Matter movement or he loses persnickety white voters for good, despite the fact that it was young white Trump supporter who was arrested for killing two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin last week.

Mr. Biden, who has been a firm supporter of peaceful protests, is expected to travel on Monday to condemn violence, and to note that chaos has unfolded on Mr. Trump’s watch, according to someone familiar with his plans. He is also expected to charge more broadly that the president is seeking to change the subject from the coronavirus and economic challenges the country faces. Details of his Monday plans weren’t immediately clear.

On Saturday, he also got some cover on the left from Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who at once praised Mr. Biden’s candidacy and policy positions and stressed the ways he and Mr. Biden “disagree on a number of issues.” The comments reflect the Democrats’ delicate balancing act as they try to keep their moderate and progressive wings united at the same time that Republicans are trying to portray Mr. Biden and his party as too progressive.

In Mr. Sanders’s speech, which was broadcast over livestream, he denounced Mr. Trump’s handling of the economy during the pandemic. Mr. Sanders, the standard-bearer for the party’s left wing, then commended several of Mr. Biden’s proposals that he said would “go a long, long way in improving life for working families.”

Among the policies that he called attention to were Mr. Biden’s support for a $15 federal minimum wage, equal pay for women, investment in infrastructure and universal prekindergarten. And while Mr. Sanders prefers a single-payer “Medicare for all” health care system — which Mr. Biden does not support — he also offered some praise for Mr. Biden’s health care proposal.

Trump will apparently counter with a rally in Kenosha itself on Tuesday, because of course we need more violent rhetoric from the Terrorist-in-Chief.

A spokesman for the president said that on Tuesday, Mr. Trump will visit Kenosha, Wis., where a police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, led to an outpouring of anger and protests that in some cases turned destructive. The president would meet with local law enforcement, the spokesman, Judd Deere, said in a tweet. National Guard troops were deployed to Kenosha last week. 

Democrat keep falling into this, what I call the "Sun Tzu trap":  If you engage the enemy using rules that the enemy does not follow themselves, you will find yourself at a disadvantage.

Trump, for instance, never has to denounce anything. People will go out of their way to gaslight and say "He never meant that" or "He never said that" and the perfect example of this is his "very fine people on both sides" comments on the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia a few years ago. The first time he did it was a stretch to say "and he also condemned the white supremacists" but then he equated both sides again just days later.

Combative and insistent, President Donald Trump declared anew Tuesday “there is blame on both sides” for the deadly violence last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, appearing to once again equate the actions of white supremacist groups and those protesting them. He showed sympathy for the fringe groups’ efforts to preserve Confederate monuments.

The president’s comments effectively wiped away the more conventional statement he delivered at the White House a day earlier when he branded members of the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists who take part in violence as “criminals and thugs.”

Trump’s advisers had hoped those remarks might quell a crush of criticism from Republicans, Democrats and business leaders. But the president’s retorts Tuesday suggested he had been a reluctant participant in that cleanup effort and renewed questions about why he seems to struggle to unequivocally condemn white nationalists.

The blowback was swift, including from fellow Republicans. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said Trump should not allow white supremacists “to share only part of the blame.” House Speaker Paul Ryan declared in a tweet that “white supremacy is repulsive” and there should be “no moral ambiguity,” though he did not specifically address the president.

Even Republicans called on Trump to denounce his own rhetoric. But that became "The media lied about the very fine people quote" as vomited out by Ann Althouse earlier this month. (no link, because ugh.)

But I'm reading the text this morning because I saw in a tweet that he was forefronting the Charlottesville "fine people" hoax. On his first day of campaigning with his running mate, he led with that. I say "he," but I don't really believe it's him. I think it's more likely that he's a foggy-minded figurehead, and other people have decided to frame the message like that. I consider these people — whoever they are — despicable. They have chosen quite deliberately to commit to a lie that is intended to make black people feel hated and they are doing it for political gain.

As my earlier post about the tweet says, I blogged in April 2019, "If Biden does not come forward and retract [a video relying on the Charlottesville hoax] and apologize and commit himself to making amends, I consider him disqualified. He does not have the character or brain power to be President." Now, more than a year later, Biden has done the opposite. He's doubled down on the lie and he's making it the centerpiece of his campaign!

Except as you can see above, Joe Biden was right. Donald Trump absolutely used the phrase "there is blame on both sides" regarding Charlottesville, which explains why Ann Althouse is a shitty law professor, completely disregarding the fact Trump said it just days after the incident.

But, Biden is the one who has to denounce the violence. Remember how that works. You'll be seeing a lot more of it.

Imagine roving patrols of Trump faithful attacking every Black and brown person they can find. Imagine that happening all over America in the wake of a Biden win...or a Trump win.

In another country, this would be described as "Militias loyal to the regime".

We're at an extremely dangerous point right now in history. The country is ready to explode in a series of mass shooting events and Donald Trump couldn't be happier.

But only Biden has to denounce the violence. 

John Oliver explains what's going on. Set aside 20 minutes to get it together here, so we can go forward.


Sunday, August 30, 2020

Last Call For Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

Trump gave the white supremacists already in our midst permission to be as racist as possible, to do as much psychic damage as they can on a regular basis. The only thing that will stop them is if enough of them get caught in the act.

An Arkansas sheriff resigned Friday after coming under fire over a leaked racist recording.

Sheriff Todd Wright of Arkansas County, about 85 miles southeast of Little Rock, resigned effective immediately on Friday during a public meeting on the incident at the county's Quorum Court, which is its governing legislative body.
The meeting, which was recorded live and posted on Facebook, was held after a local news outlet, the Pine Bluff Commercial, identified Wright as the man heard in a five-minute audio recording delivering a racist rant.

According to the local outlet, Wright is heard on the recording, which has been widely shared on social media, becoming upset that a woman he was with spoke to a Black person in a store.

Throughout the recording, the woman refers to the man as “Todd.” The man in the recording uses a racial slur against Black people about nine times.

Wright apologized at the court meeting for any offense his recorded remarks may have caused and said that he made those comments in the heat of the moment when he was "upset over certain things."

He also insisted he was not racist.

"That's not me," he said.

Following his remarks, a woman who identified herself as the mother of the man Wright disparaged in the recording said she doesn't know why Wright felt the need to call her son, whom she described as a hardworking man with two jobs, "names like that" over and over.

"I don't appreciate you calling him or anybody else the N-word," she said. "If you got problems, don't bring them to work."

It would have been the former Sheriff's word against that of a Black employee at a store and it would have been immediately dismissed. Later on, that Black employee would have been fired, and/or worse, faced an entire county's worth of angry deputies that would have absolutely found an excuse to put him in a cell, or put him in a grave.

See, that still might happen.

But the only reason that Black employee isn't already in the county lockup or in a pine box is because somebody recorded Todd's rant here. Because no matter how furious you get as a white person in America, you always, always have the option to take it out on the nearest Black person and make them suffer for existing in your white America, and odds are extraordinarily high that you will get away with it.

The more power you have, the easier it is to do things like this.

Brian Henry, mayor of the town of Pawleys Island and owner of Get Carried Away and Palmetto Cheese, is facing public backlash after posting that Black Lives Matter should be treated like a terror organization, among other comments that some have deemed racist and divisive.
In the aftermath of a double murder in Georgetown County on Monday afternoon, Henry publicly posted the following on Tuesday:

“I am sickened by the senseless killings in Georgetown last night.

“2 innocent people murdered. Not 2 thugs or people wanted on multiple warrants. 2 white people defenselessly gunned down by a black man. Tell me, where is the outrage? When and where will we begin rioting and burning down businesses in Georgetown. Answer is simple, it won’t happen. Because we live in a civil society, and it won’t change what happened. The victims’ families and friends will mourn and undoubtedly feel anger and confusion. Can’t imagine their pain. So why do we stand by and allow BLM to lawlessly destroy great American cities and threaten their citizens on a daily basis? Should they have a carte blanche license to pillage and destroy? Why? This has gone on too long. Rise up America. This BLM and Antifa movement must be treated like the terror organizations that they are. Law and order, protection of liberty, and the right of peaceful enjoyment. If we don’t have that, we no longer have a country. My wife cried last night when she read about these murders. I’m sure their family is devastated. This did not have to happen. Does the senseless murder of these people not matter as much because it doesn’t fit the media narrative. You are damn right their lives matter. And we should all be outraged and engaged to demand action and stem the tide of lawless fringe. We can’t stay silent anymore. All lives matter. There I said it. So am I racist now? I think not. How about the POS who just gunned down 3 defenseless white people? You be the judge.

“We need Law and Order. Now!”

Henry was referring to both Charles Nicholas Wall and his stepdaughter, Laura Anderson, being shot and killed after a vehicle collision on U.S. 521 in Georgetown County.

The Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office has charged Ty Sheem Ha Sheem Walters III, 23, of Moncks Corner, with two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and three counts of possession of a weapon during a violent crime. He made his first appearance in court Wednesday, where his bond was denied. Walters remains in jail at the Georgetown County Detention Center.

Now, Walters here is facing a double murder rap. He will get what he deserves.

But every other Black person in Georgetown County, SC just got put on notice that their lives are officially forfeit. Every Black person who's not Ty Walters is going to have to be taught a lesson by the Mayor here.

This time, the backlash against Black Lives Matter is going to lead to deaths. It's going to lead to lynchings. It's going to lead to Black bodies hanging like strange fruit. And in a Trump second term? It's going to be national.

As a law enforcement officer, the odds of getting away with it go up exponentially.

Just like the cops who killed Breonna Taylor here in Kentucky.

Unless you get caught on audio/video, that is, and the whole world sees it.

There's a reason why police want to outlaw recording cops.

Black Lives Still Matter.

Florida Goes Viral, (We Think Anyway)

Good news for parents, educators, and students in the Sunshine State: you don't need to know the number of COVID-19 cases in your child's school district because Florida county health departments and GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis are too busy covering for Donald Trump's failures in the most important battleground state in the nation.

After the first full week of classes in Duval County, school officials say they are still counting how many teachers and students test positive for the novel coronavirus. But, the district said, it can’t share those numbers.

The Duval County Health Department told Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) officials Tuesday they needed to get permission from the state level in order to tell parents and the community how many cases are in its schools.
On Friday, after multiple requests for answers, the Florida Department of Health said the information about the number of COVID-19 cases in schools was “confidential.”

“In the interest of public health in Florida, the Surgeon General instructed County Health Departments to provides [sic] school districts with information regarding COVID-19 cases in their schools. However, this information is considered confidential,” a Florida Department of Health spokesman said in an emailed statement.

The health department said school districts have been advised the information about COVID-19 cases in schools is confidential, per state law. But, the spokesman added, the department does not regulate school district operations.

Healthcare law experts who spoke to News4Jax have denied that the statute cited by Florida health officials applies to school systems.

The Florida Department of Health did not respond to questions asking if or when it will give school districts approval to publish the data. The health officials also didn’t give a specific date for when they plan to release the updated copy of the data themselves.

“Unfortunately, that’s not a question that I have a solid answer to. I can’t really predict how the state’s going to manage the request and manage the process,“ said DCPS Director of Communications Tracy Pierce.

DCPS, which reported four coronavirus cases in its schools before being asked to stop, said it believes the information should be available for parents.

“We feel very strongly that families need to know this information. Particularly parents, because they are making enrollment, attendance decisions based on this information. It’s the district’s stance that we want to provide it,” said Pierce. “We have engaged our own attorneys assigned to the school system and we are now in the process of doing what the DOH advised that we do. Which, is to seek the permission of the state department of health because again, you know, if I were a parent with a child in school right now, I would want to know because that’s going to impact the decisions I make.”

The snag in districts reporting COVID-19 cases in schools comes after the state accidentally published a draft report of school-related cases. The data, however, was complicated and would not give a clear picture of successful mitigation or of outbreaks within a school or school district.

The draft report was taken down quickly after being published on Monday but showed cases were being counted based on where a staff member or student lived and not based on the location of the school where the person attended or was employed.

Nine weeks until the election, and you think any county health department in Florida is going to be able to publish the number of COVID-19 cases in schools?

You live in America.  America doesn't work like that.  Shut up and praise Dear Leader and Governor DeSantis for their great work in protecting you and your family from the Invisible Enemy™.

Your kids bringing home COVID-19 is nothing you need to worry about, citizen. If you're still alive in November and not dying in a hospital, vote for the GOP. Everything is fine. Enjoy Florida's beaches, restaurants, and theme parks today!

Sunday Long Read: A History Of Police Brutality

Police brutality and unaccountability have been with us a long time, and it hasn't always been Black folk as the victims, and it hasn't always been in the South or in the Midwest, or even NYC. Ten years ago, Native woodcarver John T. Williams was shot and killed by Seattle police, and the journey to justice for his brother Rick has been a long, lone road.

THE BROTHER’S WORDS COME TO HIM AT NIGHT. They come clear and strong, no matter what sounds roil off six-lane Aurora Avenue and through the motel room window. They come to him in the morning, on the bus as it hammers south into the city. And as he sits on the patch of grass in the shadow of the Space Needle, where he carves nearly every day. Wherever Rick Williams is, whatever he’s doing, if anger or rage or even revenge fills his mind, the words of his late brother John put out the storm.

He first heard them more than 50 years ago, when he was 14. John was nine. “I want you to say ‘peace,’” the younger brother said, “and I want you to learn peace.” Unusual thing for a child to say, enough that the words stuck with Rick through the decades.

They came to him again on the afternoon of August 30, 2010, when a cop told him another officer had shot his brother to death. “Say peace.” “Learn peace.” Hard concepts to juggle in the moment. Even harder once the details came to light.

As the city learned of his brother’s final moments, so did Rick. How Seattle police officer Ian Birk—unprovoked, gun already drawn—rushed up to 50-year-old John T. Williams, who was hearing impaired in one ear, losing his eyesight, and held only a pocketknife and a piece of cedar, the tools of his trade. How Birk commanded Williams to drop the knife and, seven seconds into their encounter, fired five bullets, four striking and killing the woodcarver. How when other officers arrived they could see that the knife on the ground was closed.

Protests began almost immediately, Seattle’s streets a preview of the scenes a decade later, of Black Lives Matter and the long hunt for justice for those murdered by police. During the inquest, Officer Birk told jurors a story that contradicted that of eyewitnesses. Williams was menacing, Birk said, in attack mode, seconds from lunging with the knife.

The inquest left no one satisfied. At least one witness would remain traumatized for years, by both what she saw in the moments of the shooting and the lack of justice afterward. On the question of whether Officer Birk should be charged with a crime, the decision lay in the hands of the King County prosecutor. The choice he made haunted him in subsequent reelection bids, made his stomach burn whenever he talked about it. Most significantly the U.S. Department of Justice opened an investigation into the SPD’s discriminatory policing and overall use of force.

This one was hard to read. So often have the lives of Black and Indigenous persons of color ended the way John T. Williams's life did. I'm tired of it, the stress hurts some days, the wondering, the fear.

The only way accountability comes is to demand it.

Through it all, Rick Williams, the older brother turned family spokesman, clenched his jaw in every hearing, through every bad thing he heard about John, every time he saw a cop on the street and was expected to act like there was no bad blood. He held back his rage as much as he could, held it back even as he watched, like everyone else in the city, again and again, the video.

Enemies Of The People, Con't

Village press still think Trump is their friend, and that he doesn't mean all this "Enemies of the People" stuff at rallies like in New Hampshire yesterday?

Think again, folks.

Bomb threat, made live on camera.  Just casually walks up.  "To wake Joe Biden up from his fucking nap and his pudding."

Next time, maybe it's not just a threat.  Maybe it's a live device. Maybe it's not a bomb threat at all, it's a jackass with an AR-15. Bang bang bang.

Maybe you guys should treat Trump and his cult followers like the threats they are.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Last Call For Orange Meltdown, Con't

Now that the conventions are over and the campaign gets underway for real next week, the Trump regime is quietly making moves to cover up their election fraud.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has informed the House and Senate Select Committees on Intelligence that it'll no longer be briefing on election security issues, a senior administration official told CNN. It'll provide written updates, the official said.

Now ask yourself why the ODNI would refuse briefings on election security right before a presidential election?  Why would the regime not want Congress to ask questions directly to the ODNI's office, the people responsible for making sure the elections are protected?

I have a pretty good idea as to why.

Miles Taylor, a former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff, says President Trump's disinterest in election security and unwillingness to take a tough stand against Russia have made the November election more vulnerable to hacking and disinformation attacks.

Trump viewed any discussion about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election as attacking the legitimacy of his presidency – and ignored recommendations from his officials intended to help protect the vote, Taylor said in an interview.

During the first and only publicly acknowledged National Security Council meeting on election security in advance of the 2018 midterms, Taylor said, the president was dismissive, distracted and unwilling to issue a public warning to Russia and other U.S. adversaries to back off.

Instead of listening intently to officials briefing about the election threats, Trump talked about which counties he won in 2016, Taylor said. Officials were unable to convince him to issue a public warning that Russia would face serious consequences if it interfered in the midterms. Instead, those messages were largely delivered by lower-level officials.

“His bully pulpit was one of the things that we saw as most critical to keeping the bad guys from doing this,” Taylor said. “If the president of the United States stands up and says there are going to be severe repercussions, that sends a very different signal to a capital like Moscow than it does for the assistant secretary for X, Y or Z to say there will be consequences. But that’s what we were left with.”

A recent assessment from U.S. intelligence officials found that Russia is already “using a range of measures” to interfere in the 2020 contest aimed largely at hurting Trump's opponent Joe Biden.

“The president's attitude toward election security was effectively an open door to adversaries who wanted to meddle in our democracy,” Taylor said. “He has essentially offered up warm appeasement rather than tough deterrence. The consequences are evident in the fact that these countries have not been dissuaded from interfering. They have continued their efforts. In fact, more are getting in the game.”

Taylor is one of several former Trump officials to come out in favor of Biden in the 2020 election.

He's made no secret of his disdain for the president in a series of YouTube videos in recent weeks produced by the group Republican Voters Against Trump. Among his serious allegations is that Trump offered pardons to federal officials if they faced charges for actions aimed at limiting illegal border crossings.

But his criticisms on election security are particularly damning because they suggest the president is, at best, ambivalent about foreign efforts to undermine the very machinery of democracy.

He went so far as to argue the president’s disinterest in election security may be driven by an expectation that any Russian intervention in the 2020 election will help his candidacy, as it did in 2016. That’s a claim Democratic leaders have also leveled at Trump and Republican congressional leaders.

“Our biggest vulnerability from an election security standpoint going into this cycle is the president really hasn't made this a priority,” Taylor said. “He hasn't focused on how to keep governments like the Chinese, the Russians and the Iranians from meddling. And the simple reason is the president sees that interference largely as being beneficial toward him.”

The biggest single threat to national election security is Donald Trump himself. And the last thing Trump wants is televised hearings where the Acting Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe is on the hot seat saying Russia is in the middle of another massive operation to help Trump against Joe Biden while Trump is all but begging Putin to do just that.

The election is being compromised as we speak, and the cover-up is already underway.

Tales From The Trump Depression, Con't

As the Paycheck Protection Program, allowed to expire by Senate Republicans, has run out of money, and business leaders still see no clear plan from the failed Trump regime on COVID-19, companies are turning worker furloughs into millions of permanent job layoffs as the myth of the "V-shaped recovery" is being shattered.

A new wave of layoffs is washing over the U.S. as several big companies reassess staffing plans and settle in for a long period of uncertainty. 
MGM Resorts International and Stanley Black & Decker Inc. recently told some employees furloughed at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic that they wouldn’t be put back on the payroll. And companies bringing back the majority of furloughed workers, including Yelp Inc. and Cheesecake Factory Inc., are making reductions as they adjust to the new reality that many coronavirus-related closures won’t be resolved this fall.

More fresh layoffs at big employers loom. A day after Inc. posted record quarterly sales, the business-software company notified its 54,000-person workforce that 1,000 would lose their jobs later this year. Coca-Cola Co. said Friday it plans to lay off some employees and offer voluntary buyouts to about 4,000 employees in the U.S. including Puerto Rico as well as Canada. American Airlines Group Inc. and United Airlines Holdings Inc. have said more than 53,000 workers could be affected in about a month if the airlines don’t receive another infusion of funds from the government. 
The outlook reflects an acceptance by corporate executives that they will have to contend with the pandemic and its economic fallout for a longer period than they had hoped. Some CEOs and other executives suggest more pain is ahead, said David Rubenstein, co-executive chairman of Carlyle Group, a private-equity firm with around $220 billion in assets under management.

“Privately, some of them may hint that they probably won’t need as many workers as they once thought,” Mr. Rubenstein said. “They’ll have to reinvent their businesses in ways that they hadn’t done before.” 
The latest layoffs come as there have been glimmers of an economic recovery. Many employers have rehired some workers after cutting jobs this spring, pushing the U.S. unemployment rate down to 10.2% in July after it nearly touched 15% in April, according to federal data. Some salaried workers and executives are seeing their pandemic pay cuts restored. That has led some to theorize that the economy is increasingly proceeding on two tracks, as companies modifying operations or shutting down entire divisions determine that they need fewer people, especially lower-income workers. 
A survey of human-resources employees released by Randstad RiseSmart found nearly half of U.S. employers that furloughed or laid off staff because of Covid-19 are considering additional workplace cuts in the next 12 months.

New applications for unemployment benefits, a proxy for layoffs, have hovered around one million a week for much of the summer. A drop in jobless claims one week tended to be snuffed out within a few weeks when claims rose again. Summer unemployment has improved since March, when a peak of about seven million people applied for jobless benefits in one week, but the numbers remain stubbornly high.  
Economists say the new layoffs reflect a shift in corporate thinking toward a more protracted crisis. 
“Companies that thought they could either cut wages temporarily or cut costs temporarily or hold on are now finding out that the weakness of the pandemic is now longer than they hoped,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton.
Following casino shutdowns and furloughs in March, MGM Resorts said it would lay off 18,000 furloughed workers in the U.S. as the global travel slowdown impedes the gambling industry’s recovery. The job cuts, which start Monday, represent about one-fourth of the company’s prepandemic workforce of 68,000 U.S. employees.

American Airlines said that unless it receives more federal aid, it will furlough 17,500 union workers and move forward with 1,500 layoffs in its management ranks this fall. Flight attendants, 8,100 of whom are furloughed, would be the most affected. Airlines agreed not to terminate employees or cut pay rates through the end of September as a condition of taking $25 billion in federal funds. 
United Airlines said it would furlough 2,850 pilots, which is 600 more than it had anticipated, as it seeks more federal aid. United has warned that as many as 36,000 of its employees could be eliminated Oct. 1 if the airline doesn’t get more government help. The union that represents United’s pilots called it tragic that the carrier hasn’t provided more options to allow pilots to leave voluntarily. Delta Air Lines Inc. said it would let go of 1,941 pilots. 
After furloughing or reducing hours for more than 10,000 workers earlier this year, tool maker Stanley Black & Decker said that in October it will permanently lay off 1,000 of them but bring back 9,300 to a full-time schedule. Chief Executive Officer James Loree told investors on a recent call the cuts are part of a $1 billion cost reduction.
“It paves the way for us to manage successfully through any reasonable economic scenario which may unfold in the coming months,” he said. 
Hundreds of furloughed workers at C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc., one of the largest freight companies in North America, won’t be put back on the payroll, in part because their positions have been automated, the company told investors on a recent earnings call. The job cuts will become “permanent cost savings from our investments in tech,” said Bob Biesterfeld, chief executive of C.H. Robinson.

I fully expect the rebound that happened in June and July to be reversed completely and then some as the reality of a vicious COVID-19 flu season hits with the force of Hurricane Laura all across the US. We're still seeing 1,000+ deaths per day with literally no end in sight to the casualties.  We've passed six million COVID-19 cases, headed for seven million, headed for 200,000 dead by Labor Day.

By the time Joe Biden enters the Oval Office, we're going to have to deal with a full-blown depression with crippling double-digit unemployment as a pandemic burns through the US for a second year. And should Trump retain power, everything is lost.

It will take years to get us out of this hole, and that's only if Biden and the Democrats can win back the White House and Senate and keep power from the nihilist GOP in 2022, if we can avoid a full-blown terrorist insurrection by white supremacist militias, if we can avoid a pandemic causing systemic breakdown of basic services. We're going to permanently lose tens of millions of jobs, and they will have to be replaced by something.

None of this is guaranteed.  It's going to take a massive generational effort to come out of this decade just to get back to 2019's economy, much less 2005. But it starts with cleaning house and getting rid of the GOP, and getting to work again.

Without that, we're done.

The Turtle And The Sandmann

The right takes care of their own through a web of crony capitalism and nepotism, as evidenced by professional Junior Trumpentroopen Nick Sandmann getting a job with the McConnell campaign here in Kentucky.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's 2020 reelection campaign has hired Nick Sandmann, the Kentucky teenager who settled defamation lawsuits he brought against the Washington Post and CNN after his recorded encounter with a Native American elder went viral last year.

Sandmann, a Transylvania University student who was once again in the spotlight this week when he spoke at the Republican National Convention, now lists himself as a grassroots director for Team Mitch on his Twitter account.

McConnell is running for another term in the Senate this November, and Team Mitch press secretary Kate Cooksey confirmed Friday that Sandmann is a paid employee of the longtime senator's campaign.

McConnell's campaign manager Kevin Golden provided this statement on the new hire: "We’re excited to have Nicholas on Team Mitch. Along with our already strong team, his efforts to bring people together all across Kentucky will be critical to Senator McConnell’s victory this November."

He's exactly what Republicans want: a young white male face who cried FOUL and VICTIM so loudly that he was able to sue and settle with a number of media outlets, so that everyone can pretend he won a back-breaking victory over the forces of Fake Nooz™.

In reality, Sandmann settled for fractions of pennies for his multi-million dollar defamation suits and his lawyers took 95% of it, but the goal was the exposure and becoming a Racial Grievance All-Star as counter-programming to what in the right's eyes are the manufactured Black Lives Matter "victims".

It's a disgusting, toxic level of cynicism, but that's what the right needs. They need someone to rally around, a name to chant so they can "beat" the "martyrs created by the media" like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, or Jacob Blake and "win".

And there's nobody better at this style of manipulation than Mitch McConnell. This is the equivalent of Palpatine finding young Anakin Skywalker and taking him under his wing.

It's gross. It's also happening anyway.

The King Goes Home

Actor Chadwick Boseman, known for a number of groundbreaking black roles in film including Marvel superhero Black Panther, and two real-life superheroes, Thurgood Marshall and Jackie Robinson, has died from Stage 4 colon cancer at age 43.

In a statement posted to Twitter, the actor's reps said Boseman was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer in 2016, but despite medical treatment, it processed to Stage 4. He had never spoken publicly about his diagnosis.

"A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much," his reps said.

Boseman died in his home with is family by his side, they added.

Born Nov. 29, 1977, in Anderson, South Carolina, Boseman studied at Howard University before landing at the Schomburg Junior Scholars Program in Harlem as a drama instructor.

He eventually moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting, and landed multiple roles in film and television. His career took a major upswing with lead roles in the movies 42, Get on Up, and Marshall in 2017 before he entered the Marvel Studios cinematic universe as the comics character T'Challa, king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, in Black Panther in 2018. That award-winning film went on to gross more than $1.3 billion worldwide and became the first superhero movie to get an Oscar nomination.

Black Panther was considered to be a major game changer in terms of showing Hollywood an all Black, big budget film could succeed at the box office.

In an interview with Esquire about the impact of the film's success, Boseman said he had noticed some change in the industry.

"I’ve seen a willingness of production companies and studios to castings in a way that they wouldn’t normally do," he said. "You can’t make certain statements about a Black lead, or a Black cast, or having a certain number of people of color — it’s not just Black actors — anymore. In fact, it’s been proven that audiences want to see difference. They want to see variety and a world that reflects them whether it be race, gender, or sexuality. They want to see those things, so I think people are looking for opportunities in storytelling now."

The runaway success of Black Panther, a movie that made more than $1.3 billion dollars, unheard of for a majority black cast, let alone a superhero movie set in a fictional African nation of high technology, made a lot of other movies possible. Boseman was at the heart of that revolution and continued to be right up until his passing.

I am heartbroken for his family, but I will remember what he meant to the world over the last several years.  If you haven't caught his last film, Netflix's Da 5 Bloods, directed by Spike Lee, do yourself a favor and see it.  Black Lives Matter, and Boseman helped make that a literal truth.

Wakanda Forever.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Last Call For The Rand Grandstand

Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul, a man I am utterly disgusted by to have representing me in the US Senate, was out last night confronting protesters with a phalanx of armed police, trying to provoke a violent event. Since it didn't happen, he's calling for all the protesters to be arrested by the FBI anyway.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul is calling for the FBI to arrest the few dozens protestors who hassled him after he left President Donald Trump’s RNC speech Thursday night. The Kentucky Libertarian Republican’s claims don’t appear to match the reality of what happened, based on multiple videos.

Sen. Paul says he and his wife left the White House and at some point instead of taking a shuttle they decided to walk several blocks to their hotel.

At 1:39 AM he posted this tweet:

Later, he went on “Fox & Friends,” which told viewers based on the videos it was more like about 30 people, not 100.

Paul, who all by himself for months has been holding up Senate passage of the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act – which already passed the House almost unanimously, 410-4 on February 26 – claims he and his wife could have been killed.

“They were inciting a riot and they would have killed us had the police not been there,” Paul told Fox News.
“I truly believe this with every fiber of my being, had they gotten at us they would have gotten us to the ground, we might not have been killed, might just have been injured by being kicked in the head, or kicked in the stomach until we were senseless,” he added.

And he’s pushing a literal conspiracy theory.

“I believe there are going to be people who are involved with the attack on us that actually were paid to come here, are not from Washington, D.C., and are sort of paid to be anarchists,” Paul says. “This is disturbing because really, if you’re inciting a riot that’s a crime, but if you’re paying someone to incite a riot that person needs to go to jail as well.”
Fox News adds, “the senator is still calling on the FBI to make arrests and conduct an investigation into the ‘interstate criminal traffic being paid for across state lines’ because people have already been killed in other cities.”

It does not appear Paul offered any evidence of “interstate criminal traffic being paid for across state lines.”

Let's frame this correctly from the word go here: Paul did this on purpose.  Like every US Senator, he has a car service.  He could have gone to his hotel in minutes.  But he chose to confront a crowd, with a phalanx of Capitol police protection mind you, and provoked them. This was planned.

They yelled back at him like I would have if I had been there.  And Paul is trying to turn this literally into a federal case against the people who hurt his feelings.


Rand Paul was in more danger from his Neo-Praetorian Guard than he was from the protesters. But the greater issue is that not only is he trying to impress Dear Leader, he's trying to get people arrested like the fascist he is.

It's what he is, and what he does. The Libertarian, small government act is just that, an act, an affectation. What he really wants is government power used ruthlessly against his enemies and against them alone.

That's fascism, folks.

Our Little White Supremacist Domestic Terrorism Problem, Con't

Fighting police brutality, police militarization, and police terrorism is being made all the more difficult when you realize that white supremacist groups and America's police departments are inextricably linked and have been for years now. A new report finds America's police are effectively compromised by right-wing white supremacist terrorists, and they're more than happy to use their positions to end Black lives.

White supremacist groups have infiltrated US law enforcement agencies in every region of the country over the last two decades, according to a new report about the ties between police and far-right vigilante groups.

In a timely new analysis, Michael German, a former FBI special agent who has written extensively on the ways that US law enforcement have failed to respond to far-right domestic terror threats, concludes that US law enforcement officials have been tied to racist militant activities in more than a dozen states since 2000, and hundreds of police officers have been caught posting racist and bigoted social media content.

The report notes that over the years, police links to militias and white supremacist groups have been uncovered in states including Alabama, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

Police in Sacramento, California, in 2018 worked with neo-Nazis to pursue charges against anti-racist activists, including some who had been stabbed, according to records.

And just this summer, German writes, an Orange county sheriff’s deputy and a Chicago policeman were caught wearing far-right militia logos; an Olympia, Washington, officer was photographed posing with a militia group; and Philadelphia police officers were filmed standing by while armed mobs attacked protesters and journalists.

The exact scale of ties between law enforcement and militias is hard to determine, German told the Guardian. “Nobody is collecting the data and nobody is actively looking for these law enforcement officers,” he said.

Officers’ racist activities are often known within their departments and generally result in punishment or termination following public scandals, the report notes. Few police agencies have explicit policies against affiliating with white supremacist groups. If police officers are disciplined, the measures often lead to protracted litigation.

Concerns about alleged relations between far-right groups and law enforcement in the US have intensified since the start of the protest movement sparked by the police killing of George Floyd. Police in states including California, Oregon, Illinois and Washington are now facing investigations for their alleged affinity to far-right groups opposing Black Lives Matter, according to the report.

This week, police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, faced intense scrutiny over their response to armed white men and militia groups gathered in the city amid demonstrations by Black Lives Matter activists and others over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black father of three who was left paralyzed after being shot in the back. On Wednesday, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old who appeared to consider himself a militia member and had posted “blue lives matter” content, was arrested on suspicion of murder after the fatal shooting of two protesters.

Activists in Kenosha say police there have responded aggressively and violently to Black Lives Matter demonstrators, while doing little to stop armed white vigilantes. Supporting their claims is at least one video taken before the shooting that showed police tossing bottled water to what appeared to be armed civilians, including one who appeared to be the shooter, the AP noted: “We appreciate you being here,” an officer said on loudspeaker.

Police also reportedly let the gunman walk past them with a rifle as the crowd yelled for him to be arrested because he had shot people, according to witnesses and video reviewed by the news agency.

This is why the right is so quick to dismiss structural racism, and racism doesn't get much more structural than "law enforcement dedicated to the collective punishment of Black America on a daily basis." Without the police, they lose their power to cause fear. An America where we're allowed to make it by becoming the exception that prove the rule isn't a free and fair America.

Exit question:

Spoilers: the number's going to be the same.

Lowering The Barr, Con't

Bill Barr's "Justice Department" is now openly targeting Democratic governors heading into the election, accusing them of killing seniors in veterans homes with COVID-19.

President Donald Trump’s top civil rights official at the Department of Justice announced this week that he was considering launching investigations into how state-owned nursing homes responded to the coronavirus. The four states he targeted all have Democratic governors. This highly unusual public announcement of potential investigations raised alarm bells among Civil Rights Division alumni and Democrats that DOJ’s move was motivated by partisan politics.

Eric Dreiband, the assistant attorney general running the Civil Rights Division, sent letters to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday, requesting documents and information under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) about how public nursing homes in their states responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cuomo and Whitmer said in a joint statement that the inquiries were “nothing more than a transparent politicization of the Department of Justice in the middle of the Republican National Convention.” They called DOJ’s move a “nakedly partisan deflection” and questioned why Republican-run states that, based on federal guidelines, had similar rules about nursing home admissions were not being targeted.

In a press release on Wednesday, the Justice Department claimed, without pointing to evidence, that state orders “may have resulted in the deaths of thousands of elderly nursing home residents.” The department said it was “evaluating whether to initiate investigations,” meaning that it had not actually launched a probe. It is unusual for DOJ to highly publicize such a preliminary inquiry.

The press release went on to compare the COVID-19 death rate in the blue state of New York to the death rate in the red state of Texas, despite the vast array of factors and variables ― including population density and the geographical progression of COVID-19 ― that made the Empire State more vulnerable to the pandemic than the Lone Star State.

The bigger problem is that CRIPA cases cover prisons and jails, which have had massive outbreaks of COVID-19 in states like Alabama, Texas, Florida, Mississippi, and Oklahoma, but the Justice Department has yet to open a single investigation involving inmate deaths.

CRIPA is a 40-year-old federal statute meant to protect Americans held in government-run institutions like jails, prisons, mental health facilities and state-owned nursing homes. The vast majority of nursing homes in the United States are privately run and therefore not covered by CRIPA, even if those entities receive most of their funding through Medicare. Pennsylvania, for example, has just seven such state-owned facilities, which house roughly 1,300 residents ― a small fraction of the state’s nursing home population of more than 80,000.

With more than 180,000 Americans dead in a pandemic that has devastated the U.S. economy, Trump’s reelection campaign benefits from drawing heat away from the administration’s handling of the crisis and onto Democratic governors’ decisions. The best-known state-run nursing facilities tend to be veterans homes, allowing the administration to suggest that Democratic governors failed to protect our nation’s elderly war heroes.

Moreover, the most common CRIPA cases involve jail and prison conditions. But DOJ hasn’t announced any inquiries into how such facilities have handled COVID-19 despite the fact that jails and prisons have seen some of the biggest coronavirus clusters in the U.S. Nearly 160,000 incarcerated individuals and staffers have tested positive for the virus, and at least 1,000 have died ― including 116 people held in facilities run by the Justice Department’s own Bureau of Prisons.

While CRIPA gives DOJ limited jurisdiction over state-owned nursing homes, a department official suggested that the inquiry could drive at a much larger question that goes far beyond the scope of the preliminary probe.

“Those 50,000 COVID dead in NY/NJ deserve to have an investigation to determine if their Governors are responsible for their deaths,” the DOJ official wrote.

The Trump Regime is scrambling to remove blame for the federal government's failed COVID-19 response by any means possible, even if that means prosecuting Democratic governors. This is 100% a political witch hunt, announced on the final day of the Trump Dear Leader Show, and in a second term, Bill Barr will be completely free to prosecute as many Democrats as he can find.

And he will.  The thing with enemies' lists is that there's always more enemies to fill them with.


Thursday, August 27, 2020

Last Call For Enemies Of The People, Con't

Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold has been on the Trump corruption beat for four years now, and the White House is making it clear that he's on the list of Enemies of the People to be dealt with in a second Trump regime term as the Post has uncovered even more corruption at Mar-a-Lago.

The Secret Service had asked for a room close to the president. But Mar-a-Lago said it was too late. The room was booked. Would agents like a room across the street from the president, instead?

“I do have a Beach Cabana available,” a staff member at President Trump’s club in Palm Beach, Fla., wrote in March 2017 to a Secret Service agent seeking rooms for the upcoming weekend. “Across the street at the Beach Club, North end of the pool.”

The next time, the Secret Service didn’t take the same risk. It paid Mar-a-Lago to book rooms for two weeks at a time — locking them up before the club could rent them to others, according to newly released records and emails.

For Trump’s club, it appeared, saying no to the Secret Service had made it a better customer. The agency was paying for rooms on nights when Trump wasn’t even visiting — to be ready just in case Trump decided to go, one former Trump administration official said.

Trump has now visited his own properties 270 times as president, according to a Washington Post tally — with another visit planned for Thursday, when he is scheduled to meet GOP donors at his Washington hotel.

Through these trips, Trump has brought the Trump Organization a stream of private revenue from federal agencies and GOP campaign groups. Federal spending records show that taxpayers have paid Trump’s businesses more than $900,000 since he took office. At least $570,000 came as a result of the president’s travel, according to a Post analysis.
Now, new federal spending documents obtained by The Post via a public-records lawsuit give more detail about how the Trump Organization charged the Secret Service — a kind of captive customer, required to follow Trump everywhere. In addition to the rentals at Mar-a-Lago, the documents show that the Trump Organization charged daily “resort fees” to Secret Service agents guarding Vice President Pence in Las Vegas and in another instance asked agents to pay a $1,300 “furniture removal charge” during a presidential visit to a Trump resort in Scotland.

In addition, campaign finance records have provided new details about the payments the Trump Organization received from GOP groups, as a result of the 37 instances in which Trump headlined a political event at one of his properties. Those visits have brought the company at least $3.8 million in fees, according to a Post analysis of campaign spending records.

The regime's response? An enemies' list.

In response to questions for this report, White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement that Trump has “turned over the day-to-day responsibilities of running the company though he was not required to, [and] has sacrificed billions of dollars” because of discarded deals.

Deere did not directly address questions related to the second set of promises Trump made before taking office — the promises that he would not use his presidency to help the Trump Organization.

“The Washington Post is blatantly interfering with the business relationships of the Trump Organization, and it must stop,” Deere wrote in his statement. “Please be advised that we are building up a very large ‘dossier’ on the many false David Fahrenthold and others stories as they are a disgrace to journalism and the American people.”

They're saying the quiet part out loud now. Journalists "must stop interfering" with the Trump Organization.

Or else.

I'd hope that the Village press realizes that in a second Trump term, they will be among the first disposed of.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

Downtown buildings set ablaze by arsonists were still smoldering from the night before when Kirk Ingram started to paint an angel on his boarded-up store front.

Ingram, a Democrat who runs a massage therapy business, said the war-zone images of his city on TV — armed people running through the streets, burned cars and broken windows — were bolstering President Donald Trump's get-tough message. Maybe a few uplifting murals could start to tell a different story about Kenosha, Ingram said Wednesday.

Trump has attempted to frame the violent unrest in the wake of Jacob Blake’s shooting as fallout from inept leadership and the inability of Democrats to take control of their cities. On Wednesday, he announced he would send in the National Guard, while criticizing Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers for not doing so, even though the Democrat had deployed guard troops on Monday and increased them on subsequent days.

As this battleground state grapples with social unrest, some Democrats fear that the looting and rioting and clashes are feeding Trump’s argument that this is what life would be like under the so-called radical left. The worry is that especially among suburban swing voters, the more upheaval and violence they witness, the more their sympathy for peaceful Black Lives Matters protesters will wane.

“There’s no doubt it’s playing into Trump’s hands,” said Paul Soglin, who served as mayor of Madison, on and off, for more than two decades. “There’s a significant number of undecided voters who are not ideological, and they can move very easily from Republican to the Democratic column and back again. They are, in effect, the people who decide elections. And they are very distraught about both the horrendous carnage created by police officers in murdering African Americans, and ... for the safety of their communities.”

Trump, of course, is positioning himself as the antidote to urban unrest. "So let me be clear: The violence must stop, whether in Minneapolis, Portland or Kenosha," Vice President Mike Pence declared in his Republican convention speech Wednesday night, with Trump looking on. "We will have law and order on the streets of this country for every American of every race and creed and color."

Republicans had chided Joe Biden and other Democrats for not calling out the violence in the aftermath of the Blake shooting. Biden immediately addressed the shooting, but didn’t condemn the ensuing violence until Wednesday in a video posted on social media.

Outrage in Wisconsin over the Blake shooting reverberated beyond the streets of Kenosha into the world of sports, when players for Milwaukee Bucks NBA team took the extraordinary step of boycotting a playoff game. The move set off a wave of other sports game cancellations, ensuring the Blake shooting and its aftermath would touch many more Americans.

On the ground in Kenosha, meanwhile, frustrations were palpable.

“The National Guard ought to be on the corners right now,” fumed resident Ron Dooley, who said he was on his way to check whether his favorite diner had been burned down. “Look at this.” he said pointing to blocks of boarded-up storefronts. “It looks like I’m in the slums of L.A.”

 The New York Times is going with blaming Kenosha's Democratic Mayor, and Gov. Tony Evers.

While many demonstrators have been peaceful, others have set fire to buildings. At least four businesses downtown have been looted. Men armed with guns have shown up to confront protesters, leading to the shooting of three people, two of them fatally. On Wednesday, a white teenager from across the state line in Illinois was arrested in connection to the shooting, and Mr. Trump vowed to send in federal law enforcement and additional National Guard troops.

In Kenosha County, where the president won by fewer than 250 votes in 2016, those who already supported Mr. Trump said in interviews that the events of the past few days have simply reinforced their conviction that he is the man for the job. But some voters who were less sure of their choice said the chaos in their city and the inability of elected leaders to stop it were currently nudging them toward the Republicans.

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And some Democrats, nervous about condemning the looting because they said they understood the rage behind it, worried that what was happening in their town might backfire and aid the president’s re-election prospects.

Yet the situation in Kenosha remains extremely fluid. Many people in the city are enraged about the police shooting of the Black man, Jacob Blake; the Democratic nominee for president, Joseph R. Biden Jr., spoke with his family and said that “justice must and will be done.” On Wednesday night, in response to the shooting, athletes from the N.B.A., W.N.B.A., Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer refused to participate in games. And following the arrest of the teenager in connection with the two fatal shootings, it emerged that he had displayed support for Mr. Trump on social media.

Ellen Ferwerda, who owns an antique furniture store downtown just blocks from the worst of the destruction that is now closed, said that she was desperate for Mr. Trump to lose in November but that she had “huge concern” the unrest in her town could help him win. She added that local Democratic leaders seemed hesitant to condemn the mayhem.

“I think they just don’t know what to say,” she said. “People are afraid to take a stance either way, but I do think it’s strange they’re all being so quiet. Our mayor has disappeared. It’s like, ‘Where is he?’”

I guess I have to pull out Dr. King's Letter From A Birmingham Jail once again, because nothing has changed in 67 years.

I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

"But it's violence, you say".  Some violence does happen. It's awful, I condemn it, and it needs to stop. But collective punishment of Black America through police brutality and military National Guard force is not the solution.

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured.

I guess I'm going to vote for Donald Trump's racism because you people won't behave" is a hell of a thing to admit, and yet here we are.  I was hoping that after George Floyd, this time would be different. After Jacob Blake, after Breonna Taylor, and after the murders of two by a 17-year-old boy in Kenosha itself, called to action by Trump's violent rhetoric.

If you tell me your support of my humanity rests solel, and conditionally, on what you choose to allow me to have by behavior you determine, then I will fight you every goddamn step of the way.

Because you? You're my number one problem.

Black Lives Still Matter.

Trump Goes Viral, Con't

The theme of the Republican Convention so far has been "We will act with total impunity" and while the Dear Leader Comedy Show is going on, it's distracting you from the 180,000-plus dead and the thousands upon thousands more casualties on the way.

A sudden change in federal guidelines on coronavirus testing came this week as a result of pressure from the upper ranks of the Trump administration, a federal health official close to the process tells CNN. 
"It's coming from the top down," the official said of the new directive from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
The new guidelines raise the bar on who should get tested, advising that some people without symptoms probably don't need it -- even if they've been in close contact with an infected person. 
Previously, the CDC said viral testing was appropriate for people with recent or suspected exposure, even if they were asymptomatic. 
CDC would not comment on questions about its own policy change. A CDC spokesperson referred all questions to the Department of Health and Human Services.
In a statement to CNN, HHS Assistant Secretary Brett Giroir said: "This Guidance has been updated to reflect current evidence and best public health practices, and to further emphasize using CDC-approved prevention strategies to protect yourself, your family, and the most vulnerable of all ages." 
HHS has not specified what change in "current evidence" may have driven the change. Giroir is expected to address these issues at a briefing Wednesday afternoon. 
But the new directive also lines up with a trend in policy and rhetoric from the White House. President Donald Trump has repeatedly suggested the US should do less testing.

Dear Leader wants less testing.  Less testing means fewer cases, and fewer deaths attributed to the pandemic, and less damage to his campaign.

That's all that matters, right?

The entire federal government now exists in service to Donald Trump and to keep him in power.

This is a regime. I have been calling it that for almost four years now. We live in a regime, ruled by a supreme leader. Whether or not your family suffers or dies from a raging pandemic is irrelevant to Donald Trump.

It has been from the beginning.
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