Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Last Call For The Dear Leader Show

The Republican National Convention is at this point one long propaganda festival so blatant in its misinformation, gaslighting, and Trump idol worshipping that Goebbels himself would applaud. We're passing 180,000 dead from COVID-19 and Trump is getting kudos for it.

The Republican National Convention put President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic front and center on opening night, depicting him as a decisive leader who marshaled resources, forcefully responded to the deadly threat, and “moved mountains” to save American lives. 
What it didn’t say is that the United States, with more than 5 million cases and more than 175,000 dead, with schools and businesses still closed and millions unemployed, has had one of the worst records on the pandemic in the world. Or that Trump repeatedly downplayed the virus threat until it had already spread throughout the country unchecked, and that to this day he inexplicably asserts that it will one day magically disappear. 
The virus — alongside some false assertions claiming that Democratic candidate Joe Biden planned to ban private insurance and introduce socialized medicine — set the tone for the evening, with a rural nurse, a doctor who himself had Covid-19, and front line workers praising Trump’s action to tame the disease.

A video recapped the statements Trump has made repeatedly at his press briefings — blaming China, the World Health Organization, and mistakes by scientists early on, as they worked to quickly learn about a virus none had ever seen before. The video also depicted Democratic governors like Gavin Newsom of California and Andrew Cuomo of New York either bumbling their own response or praising Trump for his. 
“One leader took decisive action to save lives, President Donald Trump,” the narrator of the video said. “Banning travel from China and coronavirus epicenters, Biden charged xenophobia. But President Trump was right.” 
But numerous public health experts, including top scientists whom Trump has diminished or contradicted, have said that the president failed, tragically, to mount a coordinated national response using the basic building blocks of public health, including a widespread, efficient and accessible national testing program.
That wasn’t the image at the convention. 
One speaker, Amy Johnson Ford, a nurse from West Virginia, praised Trump for expanding telemedicine to rural areas like her own community. The Trump administration did use emergency powers so many more people could access telehealth, not only in rural areas. It’s one of the administration’s few pandemic policies that has received wide bipartisan approval.

“I can tell you without hesitation Donald Trump's quick action and leadership saved thousands of lives during Covid-19,” Ford said. 
G.E. Ghali, an oral surgeon and chancellor of the LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, La., praised Trump's response — despite the fact that hospitals, doctors and other health providers were pleading at that time with Washington to use all of its powers to get personal protective equipment like masks and gowns to hospitals. Without adequate PPE, hundreds of health care providers have died. 
Ghali himself got the virus. He was able to get a rapid test, receiving the results in minutes and starting remdesivir treatment within hours, although the drug is in short supply. After that he got convalescent plasma — a treatment that is safe but not yet proven to be effective. Trump has championed it, and publicly pressured the FDA to grant an emergency use authorization for plasma, which it did on Sunday. 
Ghali praised Trump for speeding up testing and supplies — the very things that many public health experts have cited as the administration’s biggest shortcomings. Testing in particular has been a chronic problem, allowing the virus to spread. 
“As a physician, I've seen firsthand how these breakthroughs have saved countless lives. As a patient, I've benefited from the expedited therapies made possible by the swift action of this administration,” Ghali said. “President Trump truly moved mountains to save lives.”

There still remains no national strategy to fight COVID-19 other than "the states are dealing with it".

As I said earlier today, the strategy is to go after Suburban women with the fear card.  But Trump's cavernous ego must be fed by State TV all the same.

When representatives from all the major TV networks visited the White House's South Lawn on Monday, part of what's known as a "walkthrough" to prepare for President Trump's Thursday night speech there, there was a surprise: A mystery anchor platform. 
The platform hadn't been on any of the diagrams given to the networks for the prime time address Trump is slated to deliver at the end of the Republican National Convention. So calls were made. Emails were exchanged. And the network executives discovered that the platform was built for one of the president's biggest supporters: Sean Hannity. 
That means Hannity, who's sometimes talked about as a "shadow chief of staff" for Trump, is getting special treatment from the Trump re-election campaign, according to multiple sources involved in the planning. It's the latest in a long line of examples of Trump favoring the Fox News personalities who promote him the most. 
Hannity said on his Monday night program that he will be live from the White House Rose Garden on Tuesday ahead of First Lady Melania Trump's speech; live on Wednesday from Fort McHenry in Baltimore, where Vice President Mike Pence will be speaking; and live from the South Lawn on Thursday. 
No other TV network has an anchor position along the South Lawn. On Tuesday, however, complaints lodged by other networks did lead to some small improvements in White House access. 
The political conventions are high-stakes television shows where every production detail matters. 
Understandably, given the network's extraordinarily cozy relationship with Trump, the people planning the GOP's convention want Fox front and center. 
The conservative network scored the biggest TV audience during the 2016 Republican convention, and Monday's preliminary ratings confirmed that the same will almost certainly hold true this year.

It's all a pageant of cultism. Only Dear Leader can save you from the Horde. We need to elect Biden if only to get FOX News reigned in.

I'll pass.

The GOP Suburban Strategy

The first night of the Republican convention was predictably bonkers and a mess of lies and mistruths.

The Republican National Convention started off with a parade of dishonesty, in stark contrast with last week's Democratic convention. While CNN also watched and fact-checked the Democrats, those four nights combined didn't have the number of misleading and false claims made on the first night of the Republicans' convention.

That wasn't the point.  The point was the McCloskeys.

The couple that chased Black Lives Matter protestors away from their front lawn in St. Louis at gunpoint hit up the Republican National Convention on Monday night. And what they had to say was downright dark.

The McCloskeys, a pair of personal injury lawyers who famously pointed guns at demonstrators in front of their palatial residence this summer, instantly went down as one of the most unusual appearances in the history of presidential conventions. They’re a pair no other president would have invited — but Trump.

Mark and Patty McCloskey warned that in an America under a future President Joe Biden, other Americans would likewise be forced to defend themselves from protestors on their own front lawns.

“No matter where you live, your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats’ America,” said Patty McCloskey.

The couple beamed into the convention from their Renaissance palazzo-style mansion in St. Louis, seated on a couch in a room richly-paneled with dark wood, and spoke straight to the camera.

They warned other Americans that they, too, may soon have to wave their own weapons at unruly gangs of demonstrators if Donald Trump loses the 2020 election.

“What you saw happen to us could just as easily happen to any of you who are watching from quiet neighborhoods across this country,” Patty McCloskey said. “And that’s what we want to speak to you about tonight.”

The one thing that will nearly guarantee a Biden loss is if the college-educated White suburban women that voted for the Democrats in 2018 and supported Black Lives Matter over the last three months turn on him over Fear Of Those People In My Neighborhood™.

Patricia McCloskey: They’re not satisfied with spreading the chaos and violence into our communities. They want to abolish the suburbs altogether by ending single family home zoning. This forced re-zoning would bring crime, lawlessness and low quality apartments into now thriving suburban neighborhoods. President Trump smartly ended this government overreach, but Joe Biden wants to bring it back. These are the policies that are coming to a neighborhood near you. So make no mistake, no matter where you live, your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats America.

Mark McCloskey: At this moment in history, if you stand up for yourself and for the values our country was founded on, the mob spurred on by their allies and the media will try to destroy you. You’ve seen us on your TV screens and Twitter feeds. You know that we’re not the kind of people who backed down. Thankfully, neither is Donald Trump. President Trump will defend the God given right of every American to protect their homes and their families. But more than that, Trump’s vision for America is a country where you have an opportunity to work hard and build the life you dream of with a job you love, with your children being educated in great schools in a community where your family can play in the backyard without fear, worship in a church without shame and express your beliefs without retribution. Trump brought us the greatest economy our country had ever seen. The Democrats have brought us nothing but destruction.

Patricia McCloskey: When we don’t have basic safety and security in our communities, we’ll never be free to build a brighter future for ourselves, for our children or for our country. That’s what’s at stake in this election and that’s why we must re-elect Donald Trump. God bless you. God bless the president and God bless the United States. 

This right here?  This is the real GOP Suburban Strategy.

The only question is how well it will work, and how many votes Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and down-ticket Democrats, are going to lose because of it. Look, I've told you before that the weakness in liberals is NIMBY stuff, and Republicans have always been able to prey on that weakness.  It's why Republicans have won the white vote since before I was born.

But how well will it work?  There's evidence that maybe, just maybe, it's not going to this time. Not even in the Charlotte suburbs like Cornelius, as Politico's Michael Kruse found out.

The suburbs, like this one, just up Interstate 77 from the official site of the start of this week’s Republican National Convention, make up the terrain on which the coming election almost certainly will be decided. The suburbs almost always are a political battlefield, or at least have been for the last generation or more. And if Trump can’t win or even loses a sufficient slice of his support in Cornelius, one of the whitest and most reliably Republican of the key suburbs in this critical swing state, he probably can’t win North Carolina, according to pollsters and strategists. And if he can’t win North Carolina, they say, he probably can’t win reelection. Hence the message he’s been delivering with increasing frequency and ferocity of late, appealing to the “Suburban Housewives of America,” charging that Joe Biden wants to “destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream,” and stressing that residents of American suburbia want “security” and not “low-income housing” forced “down their throats.”

“Why,” he asked in a tweet over the weekend, “would Suburban Women vote for Biden and the Democrats when Democrat run cities are now rampant with crime … which could easily spread to the suburbs?”

It was a prominent and recurring theme on the opening night of the mostly virtual RNC. “They want,” said Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the couple from St. Louis who pointed guns at Black Lives Matter protesters marching past their house earlier this summer, referring to Democrats and echoing language used repeatedly by Trump himself, “to abolish the suburbs.”

The response I got from actual suburban women here on Monday, though, was a mixture of eye-rolls, laughter and confusion. “It’s not something I’m afraid of,” said Connie Searle, 61, retired from a human resources job at a bank.

“I haven’t heard anyone voice concerns about being afraid that angry mobs are going to come out this way,” said Sue Rankin-White, 72, who worked for the Department of Education in Washington and lived in northern Virginia before moving here.

Afraid of the city? “I’m here because of its proximity to Charlotte,” said Camerin Allgood McKinnon, 36, a mother of two who teaches dance.

While Searle, Rankin-White and McKinnon are all Democrats, the prospect of lawlessness in the suburbs doesn’t appear to be a top-of-mind concern, either, for women who aren’t Democrats. On Monday evening, I knocked on the front door of Meredith Wolverton, because the school teacher had posted on the Nextdoor app a string of anti-mask comments and a read of her Twitter timeline confirmed her support for Trump, even though she’s registered as unaffiliated. Standing on her porch, though, when I asked if she was frightened by a possible “invasion” of crime coming up from Charlotte, she flatly said no.

“I’m not concerned about that,” she told me. And she also wasn’t afraid of the coronavirus pandemic. What she was afraid of, she suggested, was the Democrats’ overreaction to it. “I want to be able to go to church,” she said. “I want to be able to go to the gym. I want to be able to go do all these things and have my rights as an American citizen.”

Affixed to her house was an American flag. Ditto for the houses around her. Cornelius started more than a century ago as a mill town. Its growth along with the rest of the area in the last few decades has been dizzying—population less than 3,000 in 1990, still not quite 12,000 in 2000, almost 25,000 in 2010 and now more than 30,000 and still going, with people moving in from the Northeast, the Midwest and elsewhere. But it’s maintained a largely Republican character. The mayor is a Republican. All but one of the five-person town board are Republicans. Sen. Thom Tillis started his political career here as a member of that town board.

In 2008, in the four Cornelius precincts, John McCain beat Barack Obama by an aggregate 2,663 votes. In 2012, Mitt Romney beat Obama by 4,043 votes. And in 2016, Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 2,984 votes.

The last midterms, though, ushered in a hard-to-ignore change, a byproduct of court-ordered redrawing of districts but also the shifting demographics and political preferences of the many newcomers. Going into the 2018 election, people here were represented in the state house, the state senate and the county commission by three Republican men. After? Three Democratic women.

And this summer, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by Minneapolis police, citizens have clamored to have removed a monument of a Confederate soldier in front of a church on one of the town’s main drags — and marched for racial justice in a peaceful protest organized by a trio of local high school students.

“That is something that would not have happened even five years ago, I don’t believe,” Pam Jones, a founder and leader of a group called Unity in Community, told me.

Being from this part of NC, the blood-red foothills of Catawba County, I can tell you the shift from working-class white Democrats to Trump Republicans began 40 years ago with Ronald Reagan and was cemented in 1997 when the GE transformer plant in Conover moved to Mexico under Bill Clinton's NAFTA.  The plant was demolished in 2016 but the damage was done.

And if people here are even considering Joe Biden?

Trump is screwed.

I would love to see some Democratic women in an ad about what Republicans have really done to school funding and failed infrastructure.  And you know who is doing just that?  Amy McGrath, here in Kentucky.

This is a good ad.  For all his "bring home the bacon" stuff, Mitch McConnell hasn't lifted a finger to fix the Brent Spence Bridge and Rand Paul wants to make it into a toll project.

We need more, much more of this to counter the Republican fear card. This is how you do it.

In A New York Minute, Con't

New York State Attorney General Letitia James is suing the Trump Organization over financial fraud, this time for misrepresenting assets to lenders.

The New York Attorney General is investigating President Trump’s private business for allegedly misleading lenders by inflating the value of its assets, the attorney general’s office said Monday in a legal filing.

In the filing, signed by a deputy to Attorney General Letitia James, the attorney general’s office said it is investigating Trump’s use of “Statements of Financial Condition” — documents Trump sent to lenders, summarizing his assets and debts.

The filing asks a New York state judge to compel the Trump Organization to provide information it has been withholding from investigators — including a subpoena seeking an interview with the president’s son Eric.

The attorney general’s office said it began investigating after Trump’s former lawyer and “fixer,” Michael Cohen, told Congress in February 2019 that Trump had used these statements to inflate his net worth to lenders.

The filing said that Eric Trump had been scheduled to be interviewed in the investigation in late July, but abruptly canceled that interview. The filing says that Eric Trump is now refusing to be interviewed, with Eric Trump’s lawyers saying “we cannot allow the requested interview to go forward … pursuant to those rights afforded to every individual under the Constitution.”

Many of the details of the investigation were redacted or left out of the filing. But it mentioned valuations of three Trump properties: a Los Angeles golf course, an office building at 40 Wall Street and a country estate called “Seven Springs” in Westchester County, N.Y.

Last year, The Washington Post reported that Trump had inflated the potential sale value of the Seven Springs property in a “Statement of Financial Condition” — a type of document he sent to potential lenders to demonstrate his wealth. 
In 2011, Trump’s statement claimed that the property had been “zoned for nine luxurious homes,” and that the value of those home lots raised the value of the overall property to $261 million — far more than the $20 million assessed by local authorities. Local officials said Trump had received preliminary conceptual approval for those homes, but never completed the process or obtained final zoning permission. The homes were never built.

The court filing also mentions a question about a loan on Trump’s Chicago hotel, which one of Trump’s lenders forgave in 2010. The filing does not say why that forgiven loan is of interest to investigators.

The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment on Monday morning. Trump still owns his businesses, though he says he has given day-to-day control over to his sons.
This is a very polite way of saying that Eric Trump should appear at the AG's office before he is dragged bodily out of the White House by NY State Troopers serving a bench warrant.

The larger question though remains: it's not "Will Trump actually leave power peacefully?" but "Why can't he do so?"

The answer is "Because he will be indicted on January 21, 2021 and will spend the rest of his life in a New York state prison when convicted of felony fraud."

I fully expect Trump to skip town in January and never return to the US, so that he operates out of his golf resorts in Dubai or his licensed properties in Manila, Istanbul, or Pune, India.

Or, you know, Moscow.

Trump I can see operating as "US leader in exile" in some dacha on the Caspian Sea or something, given plenty of broadcast studio gear to show up on Russia Today or Sputnik to rally a violent, white supremacist terrorist militia movement dedicated to lethal attacks against the Biden administration and those who voted for him. An indictment and conviction won't make the lunatic Trump diehards suddenly turn into normal Americans again.

Just a cheery thought.


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