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.
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