Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Ted Lieu Has A Plan-- Señor Trumpanzee And His Evil Elves Are Not Going To Like It One Bit


Yesterday, you may have read about Ted Lieu's proposal to strengthen Congress’ contempt power to break administration stonewalls. Ted and 5 other members of the Judiciary Committee-- Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Joe Neguse (D-CO), David Cicilline (D-RI), Val Demings (D-FL), and Madeleine Dean (D-PA)-- have been frustrated and angry enough about the Trump Regime systematically defying subpoenas to propose a strong "inherent contempt" rule that would ratchet up their power to punish executive branch officials who reject their legitimate requests. If Congress adopts the rule, they would be giving themselves "authority to unilaterally punish anyone who defies a subpoena for testimony or documents."
Though Congress has long had inherent contempt power, it has been in disuse since before World War II. This power, upheld by courts, has included the ability to levy fines and even jail witnesses who refuse to cooperate with congressional demands.

But such extreme measures have fallen out of favor over the years, as Congress has relied instead primarily on litigation to enforce its subpoenas and officials across government have acknowledged the unappetizing prospect of using force to impose its will. It's even trickier when applied to a coequal branch of government, which may have its own privileges and protections to assert.

...“We've seen unprecedented and illegal obstruction by the Trump administration to Congress where the administration has essentially directed witnesses not to show up to committees even after they have been given lawful congressional subpoenas,” Lieu said in an interview. “We need an enforcement mechanism.”

Lieu's proposal only focuses on monetary penalties. It would establish a process for negotiations between Congress and executive branch officials when disputes arise over testimony and records. The measure would allow federal agencies to lodge objections to congressional requests, and it would permit the president to weigh in and assert any applicable privileges. The measure would also establish a process for holding recalcitrant officials in contempt, including hearings before the full House in which the subject would be permitted to present a defense and would face questions from lawmakers on the House floor.

If the House supports contempt after such a proceeding, it would then vote a second time to impose a financial penalty of up to $25,000. The penalty would be delayed for 20 days to allow for continued negotiations before subsequent penalties may be imposed up to an aggregate of $100,000. The measure would also bar taxpayer dollars from being used to cover any fines assessed through this mechanism.

Democrats say the measure is a crucial effort to formalize and reinvigorate Congress' long-dormant powers.

Lieu said he is hopeful to implement it quickly but at the very least would like it in future Congress’ toolbox. He said the prospect that inherent contempt would be abused by lawmakers is slim.

“The way to prevent it from being abused is pretty simple: the witness just shows up,” Lieu said.
Speaking of which... I got my hands on a letter Lieu's office sent to the Honorable Mike Pompeo, Trumpist Secretary of State, yesterday. "Dear Secretary Pompeo," he began, "As Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who served on active duty, we are deeply disturbed by the explosive allegations that Russia paid bounties to militants to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan. We are equally disturbed that the Trump Administration apparently knew about these bounties in March but has failed to respond in any meaningful way. Additional reporting has suggested that U.S. intelligence officers and Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan alerted their superiors about suspected Russian bounties as early as January. However, rather than confronting Russia and standing up for our servicemen and women, the President last month invited Vladimir Putin to the G7 summit. This appeasement of Russian aggression is unacceptable and must stop."

Sounds like trouble. " Over the past several years," continued Lieu, "we have seen an emboldened Russia take increasingly aggressive actions against the United States and its allies. In 2014, Russia illegally invaded Ukraine. Our best intelligence has repeatedly confirmed that Russia engaged in a sweeping and systematic attack on U.S. elections in 2016. The Russian military routinely flies military planes into U.S. airspace. And, if the bounty allegation is true, Russia is now paying militants to kill Americans. Despite Russia’s repeated hostile actions, the Trump Administration has often had weak responses or no response whatsoever. The United States cannot stand idly by as Russia brazenly threatens our servicemembers and our national security. We urge you to take diplomatic action immediately. In light of continuing Russian aggression, we request that you answer the following questions as soon as possible:"
Is Russia paying, or has Russia paid, bounties to people who kill U.S. troops? If yes, when were you first made aware of these bounties? Did you discuss this information with the President and, if so, when?
What diplomatic efforts, if any, have you made to inform Russian leaders that the United States will not stand for foreign governments paying bounties to kill American servicemembers?
Is Russia providing any other assistance to the Taliban that may harm U.S. troops or our national security interests?
Is the Administration planning on imposing sanctions or taking other diplomatic actions against Russia to deter their hostile behavior? If so, what is the timeline?
How has the alleged Russian intervention in Afghanistan affected the Administration’s the Administration’s timeline for troop withdrawal and overall plan for peace?

We request that you provide the answers within 14 days upon receipt of this letter.  Thank you for your attention to this critical matter.
As reasonable as it is, Pompeo is likely to ignore this request. If inherent contempt were functioning... he might think twice.

Labels: , , ,

Choice Survives Trump's Supreme Court To Fight Another Day-- John Roberts Disappoints Team Red Again


As usual, there was a lot of news yesterday-- head-spinning. But one thing that no-one should overlook is the importance of the Supreme Court striking down a Louisiana abortion law that was meant to prevent abortions in the state. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the 4 liberals on the Court to override the far right contingent working to overturn Roe v Wade. Roberts said "respect for precedent compelled him to vote with the majority," an indication that he would probably vote to uphold Roe v Wade as well.

Last week Roberts also sided with the liberals to preserve workplace equality for the LGBTQ community and to uphold the DACA program. I checked over at Breitbart to see what the lunatic fringe was taking the news.

I also checked in on some of the Blue America-endorsed candidates who are running against anti-choice candidates, starting with Audrey Denney, who is running against a California GOP dinosaur, Doug LaMalfa (CA-01). "This is a terrifying moment in U.S. history, when 46 years of precedent for recognizing women’s right to privacy and sovereignty over their own bodies is being systematically dismantled," she wrote. "The policymakers who have put forward these archaic bans on safe and legal abortion claim to be doing so because they value human life... Making the decision to end a pregnancy is a difficult and tragic one-- but having the right to make that decision is foundational to protecting women’s health, privacy, and well-being. If the people who wrote these laws truly cared for the sanctity of life, they would be working tirelessly to reduce our country’s maternal mortality rate (currently the worst among industrialized nations), but instead they are limiting or eliminating care, and more mothers are dying during childbirth. They would be investing in initiatives to improve infant and child health and access to early education and child care. They would be fighting for paid family leave, so that parents have adequate time to regain their own health and support their new child. They would be losing sleep over the 12 million children in this country who will go to bed hungry because their parents are trapped in poverty, unable to earn a living wage... The legislators who support abortion bans have failed us. They have failed their constituents. They have failed our nation. Their time is up."

Goal ThermometerJon Hoadley know exactly what she's talking about. He's running for Congress, while still a member of the Michigan state legislature, where he often has to debate with the kinds of failed legislators Denney was writing about. "Reproductive healthcare is healthcare," he told me today. "Frankly, I was surprised but also encouraged to see the Supreme Court affirming the right to access to healthcare for folks in Louisiana, and across the country. For Michiganders, Fred Upton has been a steadfast vote to scale back or otherwise diminish reproductive healthcare. While this decision from the Supreme Court is encouraging, it's critical that we elect leaders up and down the ballot who will continue to protect healthcare going forward." And that reminds me-- this Blue America 2020 congressional thermometer on the right will allow you to contribute to pro-Choice candidates all on one page. Just click on it.

Julie Oliver is running for a seat in Central Texas, taking on an entrenched anti-Choice incumbent, Roger Williams. "Every woman should have the choice of when she wants to have children, when she doesn’t, and every woman should have the freedom to raise those children in a safe, healthy environment," said Julie today. "But in Texas, ideological attacks on womens' reproductive healthcare have led to a tragic, alarming maternal mortality crisis that disproportionately harms Black women and their babies. We need to enshrine Roe v. Wade and repeal the Hyde Amendment."

Chris Armitage is a man in eastern Washington running for a seat held by a woman-- but she's anti-Choice and he's pro-Choice. "Cathy McMorris," he told me, "wants to criminalize abortion; she doesn't believe in a person's jurisdiction over their own body. She wants to see Roe vs Wade overturned. She is an extremist who is trying to create an America where victims of rape have no choice, and their voice over what happens to their body is once again taken away, as the government forces them to have a child without their consent. Then in Cathy's America they also cut SNAP benefits so that the mother and child subsequently starve. We can do better, we need to stop Cathy, and I will be the candidate to unseat her."

Kathy Ellis lives in southeast Missouri, a hot house of right-wing ideology and anti-choice fanaticism. Her opponent, in fact, is a right-wing fanatic who vehemently opposes women's choice. She told me that "As a candidate in a state like Missouri-- with some of the strictest abortion laws in the country-- I’m relieved to hear of SCOTUS’s decision today. It’s one many hope-inspiring decisions we’ve seen recently, and it reminds us that organizing and advocacy works. Now, about my opponent Jason Smith who is staunchly anti-choice and parades around his Right to Life endorsement at every chance he gets-- it’s time for him to go. He’s clearly on the wrong side of history and his stance on this topic is one held by only a few Americans. Even in a district like mine that’s rural and recently red, we’ve seen large actions and progress surrounding abortion rights. It’s time for a leader who agrees with the majority of Americans on this topic. Further, if Smith was truly 'pro-life,' he’d fight for healthcare for all, access to healthy food, and strong education systems. Instead, he regularly votes against all of these things. It’s a facade, and the American people see that clearly."


Labels: , , , , , , ,

The Attack Of The Mask Truthers. Trump Even Politicizes The Wearing Of A Safety Mask


-by Noah
"You literally cannot mandate somebody to wear a mask knowing that that mask is killing people. It literally is killing people and my the people we the people are waking up and we know what citizens arrest is because citizen arrests are already happening okay and every single one of you that are obeying the Devil laws are going to be arrested and you, doctor, are going to be arrested for crimes against humanity. Every single one of you have a smirk behind that little mask but every single one of you are going to get punished by God. You cannot you cannot escape God. You cannot escape God. I'm gonna say that again. You cannot escape God, not even with the mask or six feet of separation. Okay. Six feet like I said before is military protocol and you're trying to get the people to train them so when the cameras the 5G comes out what they're gonna they're gonna scan everybody. We got to get scanned. We got to get temperature the kids have to go to school with masks. Are you insane? Are you crazy? I think all of you should be in a psych ward right the heck now because none of you, none of you know what the hell you you are all talking about. This is insane and then you want to open this meeting up with a prayer to God. Are you praying to the devil because God is not listening to that prayer because all of you are practicing the Devil's law. What happened to Bill Gates? Why is he not in jail? Why is Hillary Clinton not in jail? Why are all of these pedophiles that are demanding you all to listen to their rules? Why are they not in jail? Oh is it because you're part of the Deep State? The Deep State is going down and if any of you are in the Deep State, you're going down with me."
- Anti-Mask Trumpie Lady, one of many similar citizens who spoke out at last week's Mandatory Mask meeting held by the Palm Beach County Commission
She sure has the best words, doesn't she? I call her one of Trump's Mask Truthers. I know the rambling, disjointed, stream of "consciousness" wacko quote above is a lot to read and it's a lot to take in but it is representative of a painfully large number of the citizen comments made in public at last week's Palm Beach County meeting on whether or not to mandate the wearing of safety masks when in public. Keep in mind that this was late June, not March or April or even May. But, it was in Flor-i-duh, so, there is that. Nothing like talking about if you should close the barn door when the horses have long ago disappeared over the horizon.

When you read the quote, you can be forgiven for wondering if some of these people should be allowed out in public at all, with or without a mask. Like I always say, "They walk among us," more of them in Flor-i-duh, perhaps, but well, if you ever wondered what Republicans are thinking when they go to cast their votes, the above woman paints you a pretty good picture. Should I assume the woman and the others like her who were there with their MAGA banners have removed the seat belts and airbags from their cars? Do they drive on the wrong side of the street because "how dare the government tell me, me, me how to drive my car!" Maybe they drive on the sidewalks, backwards, down there. I don't know. Wouldn't surprise me.

Which disease is worse? COVID-19 or Trumpism? Speakers like the wackjob above are a prime example of what President Psychopath's actions have done to completely politicize the COVID-19 plague. It's a perfect storm. Trump brought the two together, not just when he called the whole thing a hoax, not just when he deliberately chose not to act and thereby give the virus free reign, but also when he said that he himself would not wear a mask. That was his leadership tone. Normal people see it as disastrous. He sees it as an achievement. As the Palm Beach meetin' showed, it's right down to whether or not you should wear that safety mask to slow the plague's spread, be courteous to others and maybe even save your own life. Courteous to others? Trump? Surely, you jest! Trump himself even claims, in fact, that people who wear the mask do so because they don't like him. In his warped mind, it's all about him. His political message is that if you wear a mask, you are Anti-Trump. He has blended being Anti-Trump and Anti-COVID-19. He's publicly made it that simple; if you don't wear a mask, you're with him. If you do you're against him. That passes for logic and common sense in Republican World. Don't believe me? Ask Louie Gohmert or any other Republican Congress Loon or Republican $enator.

Some will tell you that Trump's politicization of the plague we are going through now is only part of his win reelection at all costs strategy, like that's all it is, but there is clearly more involved. He had every warning as to the severity of the threat. Only a narcissistic psychopath would, knowing that, proceed in the way that he did. Now, the number of cases of COVID-19 exponentially increases every day, and all he does is call for the ending of testing for it so it can spread some more. Across the country, new records for the numbers of cases and numbers of needless deaths are being set on an almost daily basis. He even tries to use the disease as a weapon of racism towards Americans of Chinese heritage and China itself. At his recent rally in Arizona, he tested out his litany of derogatory anti-Chinese terms for the virus. Kung Flu got the biggest amount of cheers so we can now expect that to be the name for the virus that he uses the most.

To really understand Trump's approach to this plague, you have to put his approach to it in the context of who and what he has repeatedly demonstrated himself to be. In short, every choice he makes about anything regarding the health and well being of the United States even as a viable country is the choice that is the cruelest and most damaging to the most Americans and to this country that he can make.

This is not, as way too many naively claim, mere incompetence and/or stupidity. It's a grim, consistent pattern that can only be deliberate. Every action by Trump demonstrates a total lack of empathy, a sure mark of psychopathology. Worse, his words have become a siren call to action for every supporter. That woman in Palm Beach may as well be Squeaky Fromme or some prime recruiting material for ISIS. None of this is an accident and only the fools among us will see it as an accident. Stop and think about it. One or two choices or strategies that any of us make may inadvertently result in needless cruelty, human misery, or worse. Accidents do happen. There are such things as unintended consequences or even unforeseen influences that give a bad result. But, in the case of Trump, his family, and his party, every decision he has made, and they have eagerly followed, has obviously been made in order to inflict as many wounds upon human beings as individuals and us as a country as possible. This isn't incompetence. It is sadism. This is true about everything about the Trump presidency. When assessing what Trump has done with the current plague, consider the following as context:

1. Trump's often openly declared love for murderous dictators who kill their citizens, sometimes even personally, with impunity,
2. Ripping children out of the arms of their parents and throwing them in cages and sadistically keeping them there.
3. Taking away the hard fought for freedom to vote from millions of voters that he and his party deem inferior.
4. Maximizing the amounts of carcinogens and other pollutants in our water and air.
5. Attacking peaceful protesters with clubs, gas, and rubber bullets, all for a blasphemous photo op.
6. Suppressing education and decent paying job opportunities.
7. Executive orders that escalate damaging weather patterns that destroy our economic well-being, our property, and our lives. In his insane grandiose fantasies, he obviously sees himself as some sort of Lex Luther in control of a weather machine.
8. Encouraging, endorsing, and even cheering police brutality.
9. Fighting the concept of healthcare for American citizens even during a pandemic (He did that again Thursday night when he, once again, urged the Supreme Court to negate Obamacare).
10. Supporting the most vile governments abroad and the end of democracy wherever it tries to take hold.
11. Risks the lives of his own fans holding rallies without safety procedures.
12. Gave the commencement speech at West Point while doing and saying absolutely nothing about his friend Putin's bounty on their lives. (Traitor Don now ridiculously claims he didn't know and neither he or anyone else in the White Kremlin have denounced it!)

This is all blatant psychopathy, yet our people in authority and our media hacks deliberately downplay it by calling it or dismissing it as "incompetence." What Trump has done is transform the White House and his entire administration into the most powerful engine of harm to humanity since the days of Stalin and Hitler and it's clear that, if he continues to go unchecked, he aims to match them. All of this is the mark of a true psychopath. He is making the villains of the Superman and Batman comic books look to be not so bad by comparison and it makes him and his brainwashed party of supporters happy. And, why wouldn't it make them happy? If you look at the list, it's a large chunk of what amounts to the Republican Party platform. It is the rancidly inhumane, ravage of conservatism. This is a mass affliction. It is a Death Cult.

The words of the woman above is one manifestation of this. The wallet card depicted below is another. It is being made available by people who share her viewpoint. It's a complete fake and a fraud, but Anti-Maskers in the Carolinas and other places in the Trump Confederacy swear by its righteous need if not legitimacy. They pull it out when asked why they aren't wearing the mask that they refuse to wear. The card is not worth the paper it's printed on. Apparently to them, neither is human life, even their own. They will do anything for Dear Leader.

Labels: , , , ,

Some Dare Call It Treason


Damage Control by Nancy Ohanian

Friday, as soon as I read the NY Times piece about how Trump failed to react when he was briefed on Russia paying bounties to Afghan rebels and criminals for the deaths of U.S. soldiers, I knew Señor T was cooked. Treason doesn't fly-- not even in Wyoming, the Trumpiest state in the Union. The Washington Post, CNN and even the Wall Street Journal have all confirmed that Trump was briefed on the story (it was in his briefing book), although-- caught like a rat, he's been denying it. Nervous congressional Republicans are either hiding under their beds or issuing tepid statements calling for all the facts. Besides Liz Cheney, peeping up cautiously were French Hill (R-AR), Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Rodney Davis (R-IL), but Trump knows congressional Republicans are afraid if him and will toe the party line when push comes to shove.

European intelligence agencies have also confirmed that Russia's version of the CIA-- the GRU, which is tightly controlled by Putin-- has been paying rewards for dead American and British soldiers. At first the official stand by the Trumpets Regime was that neither Trump nor Pence were briefed and knew nothing about it. Both Trump, Kayleigh McEnany, the Russian embassy in DC, the Taliban and the joke Trump and McConnell installed Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe, claimed the NY Times story had no merit. Yesterday Ellen Nakashima, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter covering intelligence and national security, and John Wagner reported that Trump, who has been waffling on his story, claimed on Sunday night that the CIA didn't find the bounty story credible so never bothered telling Trump about it-- a typically Trumpian bold faced lie.

Last night the Associated Press reported that "Top officials in the White House were aware in early 2019 of classified intelligence indicating Russia was secretly offering bounties to the Taliban for the deaths of Americans [and that] the assessment was included in at least one of President Donald Trump’s written daily intelligence briefings at the time, according to the officials. Then-national security adviser John Bolton also told colleagues he briefed Trump on the intelligence assessment in March 2019." High-level sources at the Pentagon leaked the secret report to the press.
Russian bounties offered to Taliban-linked militants to kill coalition forces in Afghanistan are believed to have resulted in the deaths of several U.S. service members, according to intelligence gleaned from U.S. military interrogations of captured militants in recent months.

The intelligence was passed up from the U.S. Special Operations forces based in Afghanistan and led to a restricted high-level White House meeting in late March, the people said.
Traitor by Chip Proser

Trump tried distracting Republicans with one of his childish bait-and-switch tweets Sunday at 4:30 AM: "Nobody’s been tougher on Russia than the Trump Administration. With Corrupt Joe Biden & Obama, Russia had a field day, taking over important parts of Ukraine - Where’s Hunter? Probably just another phony Times hit job, just like their failed Russia Hoax. Who is their 'source'?"

Biden didn't cut Trump any slack at his virtual town hall over the weekend. Trump's response was to call Biden names and claim he didn't write his remarks himself.

Monday, The Guardian ran a Lisa O'Kelly interview with Russian-American author and journalist, Masha Gessen. She asked him, "who's worse, Putin or Trump?" He responded that "In a way, I think Trump is worse. I never thought I would hear myself say that. They share a lot of characteristics although they are temperamentally extremely different men. They both have this contempt for excellence, they both have a hatred of government, and they both have this way of campaigning against government as such, even as presidents of their respective countries. I think in the end, Putin is somewhat less cynical. He has an idea-- it is self-aggrandising and absurd on the face of it--that if he stepped away Russia would fall apart and so he has to carry this burden. And for his labours he deserves to have the yachts and the palaces and all that. But he is doing it for his country. Trump doesn’t even have that delusion. It’s all power and money in their purest form. And you could dig as deep as you want, you would never find a shred of responsibility."

She also asked "What is the most important rule for surviving autocracy?"
For the state of one’s soul, for the state of one’s mind, I think it is absolutely essential to protest and show outrage. Does that have political consequences? Not immediately and not on its own. But I think what we’re seeing in America right now is several steps on from outrage. It’s outrage, plus organising, plus sustained political activity. The big question is how sustained will it be? If it is sustained in some manner, then I think we are in a revolutionary moment. In the book I talk about how in order to actually survive Trump’s attempt at autocracy we have to give up the idea of some imaginary pre-Trumpian normalcy and commit to reinvention. And that is really what these protests are about.

I don’t think there is anyone who is involved who would say: “Oh, we just have to get rid of Trump.” These protests are about the fatal flaw at the root of this democracy and that’s a really upsetting idea for a lot of somewhat conservative commentators. But culturally and politically Americans have a story of being born of protest. These protests are calling for an American reinvention. They are protesting for a more perfect union.

Labels: , , ,

Will The Republican Plague Lead To Voters Repudiating Trumpism In Landslide Proportions?


Four months before people will be filling in their absentee ballots Trump's national approval rating has been cratering. The latest Ipsos poll for Reuters, shows him with just 37% approving (+2% leaning towards approval) and 55% disapproving (and again with 2% leaning towards disapproval). Among registered voters, the poll shows Biden leading Trump 47-37%.

When it comes it his actions on confronting the pandemic, he's a dead man walking-- Only 17% strongly approve, while 44% strongly disapprove. And with the pandemic sweeping through Trump strongholds in Texas, Florida, Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, South Carolina, Iowa and North Carolina and starting to come on strong in Oklahoma and Missouri, voters who "somewhat approve" and "lean" approve are going to increasingly move towards disapprove. The latest Georgia poll, for example, just came out from Fox News. Keeping in mind that Trump beat Hillary by over 5 points-- 50.44% to 45.35%-- the new poll must be panicking the Trump campaign. Biden is actually leading Trump 47-45%. When asked who will do a better job handling the coronavirus, Biden leads Trump by 4 points. Trump's overall disapproval is 51% with just 47% approving.

Yesterday, a Politico headline went right to the crux of the matter: A Sun Belt time bomb threatens Trump’s reelection. Natasha Korecki and Marc Caputo wrote that the explosion of COVID-19 cases in Sun Belt states is becoming another albatross for Trump's campaign and "Republican governors in Florida, Arizona and Texas followed Trump’s lead by quickly reopening their states while taking a lax approach to social distancing and mask-wearing. Now each of them is seeing skyrocketing coronavirus caseloads and rising hospitalizations, and Republican leaders are in retreat. It’s hard to overstate the gravity of the situation for Trump: Lose any one of the three states, and his reelection is all but doomed. Liberal outside groups and the Biden campaign have launched digital and TV ads in Florida, Arizona and Texas hitting Trump for allowing a second wave of coronavirus. The developments have buttressed Biden’s main argument against Trump: that he’s incapable of bringing stability or healing in a time of crisis... Trump’s campaign accuses Democrats of exploiting tragedy."

These are the Sunday ---> Monday new cases and the (number of cases per million people) in these 4 states:
Florida +8,530 (6,568 cases per million) ---> 5,266 (8,814 cases per million)
Texas +4,330 (5,283 cases per million) ---> 6,135 (5,494 cases per million)
Arizona +3,857 (10,154 cases per million) ---> 3,079 (10,577 cases per millions)
Georgia +2,225 (7,272 cases per million) ---> 2,207 (7,480)
Korecki and Caputo summarized the situation in each state and certainly Florida and Arizona look dire for Trump at this point. Phoenix Congressman Rubin Gallego, they wrote, "expects hospitalizations and deaths to rise in the coming weeks in the state. 'Ballots drop in October. The president essentially has two months to try to turn this around in Arizona,' Gallego said. By then, 'What’s going to be on the TV is Covid-19.' In late March, Republican Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order barring local governments from requiring masks in public. Two weeks ago, Ducey reversed himself amid pressure from mayors, residents and health care professionals. As infections surged, Trump held a rally last week with thousands at a Phoenix mega-church, where photos showed the crowd sitting in close proximity and few wearing masks. Ducey brushed off calls to cancel the event. Days before, Phoenix required mask-wearing, but the city order was ignored. 'We’re going to protect people’s rights to assemble in an election year,' Ducey told reporters at a press conference last week, defending his decision to wait until after the Trump event to emphasize to all Arizonans to wear masks. Trump won Arizona by just three-and-a-half percentage points in 2016, with the help of suburban voters. 'Those suburbs that initially won Arizona for Trump have soured since,' said Mike Noble of OH Predictive Insights, who polls the state for non-partisan clients."

Texas is a harder nut to crack for Democrats, who haven't had a presidential win since Carter ran in 1976 but demographics are moving blue and the Democrats flipped 2 congressional seats last cycle and look likely to win 4 more this year (TX-10, TX-21, TX-23 and TX-25). strong Democratic campaigns in districts previously ignored by Democrats, will help the top of the ticket and if Biden campaigns there-- Hillary ignored the state except for fundraising among corrupt elites-- Texas could flip.

Gov. Abbott "moved to reopen Texas in early May even though it had not met benchmarks set by the Trump administration. The state had one of the shortest shutdown in the country. At the time, Trump applauded Abbott. 'Texas is opening up and a lot of places are opening up. And we want to do it, and I’m not sure that we even have a choice,' Trump said during an Oval Office meeting on May 7 with Abbott. 'I think we have to do it. You know, this country can’t stay closed and locked down for years.' Texas soon saw the proportion of coronavirus tests that came back positive spike to nearly 12 percent, in addition to a record-breaking number of hospitalizations. Last week, Abbott said Covid-19 'is now spreading at an unacceptable rate in Texas, and it must be corralled.' He ordered bars to re-close and restaurants to limit capacity to 50 percent, down from 75 percent." That isn't enough to slow anything down much and by the time people are voting, Houston won't be the only city without hospital capacity for new patients.

"Of the three states," wrote Caputo, "only Florida has been a true presidential swing state in recent decades. If Trump loses its 29 Electoral College votes, his chances of a second term are close to zero. The Real Clear Politics polling average in Florida has Biden ahead by nearly 7 percentage points. Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a staunch Trump ally, has offered mixed messaging in response to coronavirus. He's repeatedly boasted about his 'data-driven' approach but refused to heed advice from medical experts who say that a statewide mask-wearing order would work. While DeSantis said he was deferring to local governments, Republicans filed a lawsuit last week when a mask-wearing ordinance was passed by Leon County, where the state Capitol is located. 'Our people are ticked off. Most of them are upset about the media coverage about the coronavirus and feel it’s overblown and it’s part of a strategy to bring down the president,' said Evan Power, chairman of the county GOP, the plaintiff in the lawsuit."

Goal ThermometerBlue America is in the middle of a campaign to support state legislative candidates running in red districts that have not even been contested by the hapless Florida Democratic Party in recent years. If nothing else, these candidates are going to turn out votes up the ballot. Some may also win because of the anti-Republican tsunami headed towards Florida. The Blue America Florida thermometer on the right will allow you to contribute to progressives running for Congress, state Senate and state House, all in one place. Even a dollar to each candidate will help.

"While many Democrats have watched their poll numbers rise as they’ve handled coronavirus," continued Caputo, "DeSantis’s approval ratings have dropped (though, unlike Trump, he’s still above water). Emboldened Democrats released an ad on Twitter last week contrasting DeSantis’s swagger in late May with the recent rise in coronavirus infections. State Democratic Party Executive Director Juan Peñalosa said he’s considering putting money behind the ad because 'it struck a nerve. Trump has botched every stage of this response and people are starting to see DeSantis as Trump’s lapdog,' Peñalosa said." This is the ad:

Dr. Elias Zerhouni was director of the National Institutes of Health in 2005 when George W. Bush was president. Yesterday he assessed Trump's response to the pandemic for NPR:
It was basically amateur hour. There is no central concept of operations for preparedness, for pandemics, period. This administration doesn't want to or has no concept of what it takes to protect the American people and the world because it is codependent. You can't close your borders and say, "OK, we're going to be safe." You're not going to be able to do that in this world. So it's a lack of vision, basically just a lack of understanding, of what it takes to protect the American people.

I bet Dr Zerhouni has a very high IQ-- a lot higher than the doofus who can't even put on a mask

It's what I call the boom and bust of preparedness. The old saying that we use for NIH is if you think research is expensive, try disease. And in this case, Claire Pomeroy from the Lasker Foundation came up with a different sentence: "If you think preparedness is expensive, try a pandemic." That's where we're living. It's a result of lack of preparation and short-term thinking.
What people are thinking of as the Republican Plague is causing businesses and governments to pull back from opening up plans. Some have reimposed restrictions. Voters are blaming Trump and his puppet governors like Abbott, DeSantis, Ducey and Kemp. CNN reported that with July 4 approaching, "officials are trying not to repeat scenes from Memorial Day, when thousands across the country flocked to beaches, bars and parties while experts cautioned the crowds could lead to spikes in cases down the road. Remember, the U.S. accounts for just 4% of the world's population, but because of Trump's incompetence and malignant narcissism, our country has 25% of the cases and deaths, At least 12 states-- or parts of states-- have slammed on the brakes, including Texas, California, Florida, Washington.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Midnight Meme Of The Day!


by Noah

Today is the 1-year anniversary of the consummation of Trump's love for Kim Jong un behind closed doors. There were no witnesses meeting with Kim where he most likely made some private deals and asked Kim to use North Korea's prowess in computer hacking to help him win reelection this fall. All you have to do to surmise what went on is ask yourself who and what the two men are and how they operate.

I hereby present the above clip in honor of Donald J. Trump's bullshit North Korean photo op and sell out of our country to yet another dictator who he worships and grovels before. It's a must see and a must forward. Post it on your own social media.

Labels: , ,

Monday, June 29, 2020

Trump Is Leading His Church-Going Fans Into The Arms Of The Virus


Butte County in northern California has about 220,000 people. The closest towns that could pass for cities are Chico (pop-103,301) and Oroville (pop-20,737). After the devastation of the 2018 Camp Fire, the city of Paradise went from a population of 26,218 to just 4,476.Now Butte has another problem its residents never imagined they would have to confront: a pandemic. About a month ago, writing to the L.A. Times, Laura Newberry reported about a Butte County church at the nexus of the county's pandemic. Pastor Mike Jacobsen of Palermo Bible Family Church defied public health officials and held an in-person Mother’s Day service exposing 180 congregants to the coronavirus (71 were infected). In a Facebook post Jacobsen said that an asymptomatic congregant who attended the May 11 service woke up the next morning "needing medical attention," was tested that day and confirmed positive two days later.

While local health officials began attempting to notify every person who attended the service and instruct them to self-quarantine, Danette York, Butte County public health director, issued a statement noting that "At this time, organizations that hold in-person services or gatherings are putting the health and safety of their congregations, the general public and our local ability to open up at great risk... Moving too quickly through the reopening process can cause a major setback and could require us to revert back to more restrictive measures."

Butte County leans Republican-- but not overwhelmingly so. Trump won there is 2016 with 48% of the vote to Hillary's 44%. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian got nearly 5%. Butte was one of the counties Gavin Newsom gave permission to open too early. There is little social distancing in the county and, as in the rest of California, no endorsement of "mandatory" mask rules.

Newberry reported that the pastor "said it’s important for Palermo Bible’s many young, new believers to be supported in their fledgling faith-- and part of that is being able to attend church in person. He compared the act of depriving these congregants of in-person worship to taking 'an infant out of the arms of its mother. We’ve really tried to raise the bar and do a good job with what we’ve been given,' Jacobsen said of virtual services, 'but it’s not the same as being together in fellowship with one another.'"

As of Saturday, just 2 people had died in Butte. Of the 143 COVID cases in the county, only 47 are still active. Coronavirus has spread among church congregations all over the world, famously in Germany and South Korea, but most notoriously here in the U.S., where a dozen churches have sued to overturn restrictions on their freedom of worship.

Reporting for Politico Sunday, Gabby Orr wrote about how Trump has made-- as is his wont-- a bad situation worse. Just a month after the self-serving sociopath ordered all governors "to immediately reopen churches, his administration is facing a difficult dilemma. Clusters of Covid-19 cases are surfacing in counties across the U.S. where in-person religious services have resumed, triggering questions about whether his administration should reassess its campaign to treat houses of worship the same as other essential businesses, or leave them alone and risk additional transmission of the deadly coronavirus-- including in communities that are largely supportive of the president."
An outbreak at a Pentecostal church in Oregon, where hundreds of worshipers resumed gathering over Memorial Day weekend, forced an entire county to return to phase one of its reopening after local officials traced 258 cases of Covid-19 back to the facility. In West Virginia, six health departments across the state have reported coronavirus outbreaks linked to churches. One of them, a Baptist church in Greenbrier County, had 34 congregants test positive for the virus. And in Texas, which hit an all-time high of new cases last week, health officials have received numerous reports of church-related exposures.

The disturbing trend did not stop Trump and other senior administration officials from visiting an Arizona mega-church this week for a “Students for Trump” rally, where MAGA ball caps were far more ubiquitous than face masks. Images from the event-- showing hundreds of mask-less teenagers sitting in close quarters for the president’s remarks-- embodied the predicament Trump now faces: Many of his Christian supporters rushed to embrace the country’s reopening, which has included the return of in-person worship services in many states. Now, re-imposing previous restrictions to protect other Americans could impair the president’s relationship with his own base.

"I just encourage every American to continue to pray. Pray for all the families that have lost loved ones. Pray for our health care workers on the front lines. Pray that by God’s grace, every single day, will each of us do our part to heal our land."

So far, administration officials have declined to single out church-related outbreaks as problematic.

A senior administration official briefed on the discussions said members of the White House coronavirus task force began expressing serious concerns this week about rising infection rates in a dozen states, particularly after Florida reported record-breaking cases last Wednesday-- leading to the task force’s first briefing in two months on Friday. But the same official said the task force does not consider churches to be super-spreaders, or hotspots for Covid-19 transmission, at this time.

Others, including Trump, have chalked up the rising number of cases in places like Arizona, Texas, North Carolina and Florida to expanded testing capabilities, even as White House officials privately acknowledge the volume of newly confirmed cases exceeds that which increased testing would account for.

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department, which intervened in several states to seek equal treatment for churches in the reopening process, declined to comment on whether the agency plans to change its current approach pushing to reopen houses of worship.

...Previous guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-- which urged churches to suspend choir activities, eucharistic sharing, the recitation of creeds and other programming-- had roiled Trump aides late last month who felt the public health agency was burdening faith communities with unnecessary restrictions. In updated guidance posted shortly after Trump demanded that states allow churches to reopen, the CDC said its recommendations were “not intended to infringe on rights protected by the First Amendment.”

“Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential. It’s not right, so I’m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential,” Trump had said at the time, following public complaints from some of his top allies on the religious right about ongoing church closures.

On the same day Trump pronounced churches “essential” businesses, the lead pastor at Lighthouse Pentescostal, the Oregon church now at the center of the state’s worst coronavirus outbreak, wrote in an Instagram post that he would begin in-person services that weekend “in accordance with President Trump.”

Other religious institutions filed lawsuits against state officials who declined to lift restrictions on church gatherings, calling the rules unconstitutional since other businesses were permitted to resume service.

Now Trump is grappling with the fallout-- unforeseen or not-- of his aggressive push to reopen churches at a time when he can’t afford to agitate his religious supporters.

Polls conducted since the coronavirus pandemic began have shown a steady decline in his favorability rating among white Catholics and white evangelicals, demographics that helped carry him to victory in 2016 and whose backing he will need to defeat Joe Biden, his expected Democratic challenger, this fall.

Despite the outbreaks occurring in churches and elsewhere, the president’s response lately has been to double down on his effort to jumpstart the U.S. economy and reopen houses of worship, restaurants, manufacturing facilities and retail suppliers.

As part of the White House’s efforts to maintain its indispensable bond with religious conservatives, Pence has visited two churches in the past month in Maryland and Pittsburgh, and-- despite postponing campaign events-- still has a planned appearance Sunday at First Baptist Dallas in Texas, which is run by Rev. Robert Jeffress, one of the president’s most visible evangelical advisers.

Republican operatives are starting to circulate a rumor that Typhoid Mary may find an excuse to not run for reelection

Labels: , , , , ,

Is Losing His Broadcasting License Enough Of A Punishment For Murdoch For All The COVID Deaths Fox Has Caused?


Believe it or not, I was once a dj-- and professional advisor-- at a radio station owned by the Jesuits-- KUSF in San Francisco. The friendly faculty advisor, Steve Runyon, frequently told me my broadcast license could be in jeopardy because of the songs with "dirty words" that I played. I recall, for example, him being unhappy when I played this unedited version of Prince's "Let's Pretend We're Married," not to mention with the frequent repetition on my playlist of the Pop'O'Pies' The Catholics Are Attacking. But I never did lose my broadcast license. In fact it was another Bay Area station, KSJO in San Jose, where I was suspended for having a couple of Sex Pistols--Paul Cook and Steve Jone-- on my show, where the session was eventually released as a track, "Big Tits Across America," on the album Some Product: Carri on Sex Pistols. I can understand why the suspended me. Two week suspension, but... it was worth it because years later, it helped with my music business bona fides in the U.K. no end.

But you know what... if I could get suspended for that interview, the entire Murdoch family and all of Rupert's Fox News hosts should get the death penalty for the thousands of Americans they killed with COVID-19. No, I'm not kidding. "The data," wrote Margaret Sullivan, "is in." Fox News broadcasters kept their viewers-- many of whom are old and out-of-shape-- from taking the pandemic seriously. And they died in droves. "Three serious research efforts," reported Sullivan, "have put numerical weight-- yes, data-driven evidence-- behind what many suspected all along: Americans who relied on Fox News, or similar right-wing sources, were duped as the coronavirus began its deadly spread. Dangerously duped. The studies 'paint a picture of a media ecosystem that amplifies misinformation, entertains conspiracy theories and discourages audiences from taking concrete steps to protect themselves and others,' wrote my colleague Christopher Ingraham in an analysis last week. Here’s the reality, now backed by numbers:"
Those who relied on mainstream sources-- the network evening newscasts or national newspapers that President Trump constantly blasts as “fake news”-- got an accurate assessment of the pandemic’s risks. Those were the news consumers who were more likely to respond accordingly, protecting themselves and others against the disease that has now killed more than 123,000 in the United States with no end in sight.

Those who relied on Fox or, say, radio personality Rush Limbaugh, came to believe that vitamin C was a possible remedy, that the Chinese government created the virus in a lab, and that government health agencies were exaggerating the dangers in the hopes of damaging Trump politically, a survey showed.

“That’s the real evil of this type of programming,” Arthur West of the Washington League for Increased Transparency and Ethics, which sued Fox News in April over its coronavirus coverage, told The Times of San Diego. “We believe it delayed and interfered with a prompt and adequate response to this coronavirus pandemic.” (A Fox News lawyer called the suit “wrong on the facts, frivolous on the law,” and said it would be defended vigorously; a judge dismissed the suit in May.)

Beyond the risks the general public faces from consuming this nonsense and misinformation, there’s the fact that the president himself has been picking up these same ideas and using them to steer policy. Instead of tapping experts in the medical and scientific community-- many of whom are on the government payroll-- he has chosen to educate himself by watching right-wing news outlets.

Recall the South Carolina campaign rally in late February where Trump dissed his political adversaries’ criticism of his virus response as “their new hoax.” Or the Feb. 26 White House news conference where he said of the virus: “We’re going to be pretty soon at only five people. And we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time.” The next day, he offered his now-infamous “it’s going to disappear” reassurance.

As the weeks went on, and the toll of the virus became undeniable, Fox’s offerings became somewhat more responsible, but viewers were misled for far too long. As late as March 6, a Fox “medical contributor” was falsely assuring Sean Hannity’s audience that the virus wasn’t all that bad: “At worst, worst-case scenario, it could be the flu.”

To his credit, Fox’s Tucker Carlson was delivering a different, much more reality-based, message, but he was an outlier on the network in those early weeks of the crisis. In fact, one of the studies found that Carlson viewers took protective measures much earlier than Hannity viewers.

The upshot was clear: For too long, many devotees of most right-wing news decided they didn’t need to stay home. Others absorbed the idea that wearing a protective mask was an act of left-leaning partisanship.

But disease leaps across the political aisle quite nimbly.

And so, it’s tragic-- but again not all that surprising-- to see the virus spiking now in red states where governors and other public officials joined Trump and his favorite news outlets early on in downplaying the dangers.

When confronted with the information in one study that cast Sean Hannity in a dim light, Fox News responded with defensive gaslighting-- even using the specific phrase “reckless disregard for the truth,” which is most typically deployed by those threatening a libel suit.

Fox’s response also included releasing a timeline of Hannity segments in the early months of this year-- with titles such as, “We have the best people working on coronavirus”-- to prove the show covered the topic relentlessly. The network noted that Hannity interviewed the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, Anthony S. Fauci, as early as January.

Hannity’s interviews, though, tend to be exercises in Trump sycophancy rather than fact-finding missions. His first probing question to Fauci in a March interview: “The quarantine that the president did within three weeks, [which was] the fastest ever-- do you believe it likely prevented thousands of Americans from contracting the virus and was a smart thing to do?”

One of the study’s authors persuasively rejected Fox’s criticism that underlying data was chosen unfairly: There’s no “cherry-picking” possible, he said, because the independent coders read every transcript between late January and late March. These academic studies, published in Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review and the National Bureau of Economic Research, are cautious. They don’t make wild claims, and they wisely hedge their conclusions because they don’t want to go too far.

Still, it’s difficult to come away from them without believing that serious harm has been done. And that it’s far from over.

Labels: ,

A Race Too Close To Call-- And Over Two-Thirds Of The Votes Uncounted


Lee Zeldin and his boss-- undermining America

When I lived there is the 1960s, Suffolk County was still to some extent a rural backwater. It was still the biggest potato-growing county in the U.S., although Idaho was coming on strong. I was once dragged in front of a grand jury in Riverhead, the county seat and, judging by the cast of characters and their values, I could have easily have been in Kansas. Today Suffolk County is the 4th most populous in New York State (about a million and a half people), after Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, with more people than the Bronx, Nassau, Westchester, Erie (Buffalo) or Monroe (Rochester). It takes up most of Long Island and is overwhelmingly suburban now, although it is still the most important farming county in New York.

NY-01 is most of Suffolk County, although both NY-02 in the south and NY-03 in the north both have sizable pieces. NY-01 is a swing district with a Republican congressman, Lee Zeldin. Obama won the district-- narrowly-- both times he ran, but in 2016 Trump beat Hillary by over 12 points.

A week ago, Democrats had a primary to pick the nominee who would take on Zeldin in November. Of the 3 serious candidates, two ran as moderately progressive, Perry Gershon and Nancy Goroff, and one ran as a typical conservative Democrat, Bridget Fleming. With all precincts counted, Wednesday showed an election way to close to call-- because most votes had been cast by mail and they had not been counted. This is what was counted:
Perry Gershon- 5,166 (35.4%)
Nancy Goroff- 5,002 (34.3%)
Bridget Fleming- 4,062 (27.8%)
As of the June 3 FEC reports, Goroff had raised $2,342,792 ($1,005,600 self-funded) and spent $1,584,630; Gershon had raised $1,113,460 and spent $925,637; and Fleming had raised $703,116 and spent $591,288. Two dark money groups spent independent money in the primary, Blue Tide NY-1 LLC spent $168,919 in favor of Gershon and a notorious scam-artist/grifter sewer money group, 314 Action Fund, spent $516,670 smearing Gershon and supporting Goroff.

So what do the candidates do while they sit in limbo waiting to see which one of them will be duking it out with Zeldin? He has raised $3,906,970 so far this cycle. An e-mail to her supporters from Goroff helped shed some light on how a candidate navigates this in between time.
This campaign has always been focused on facts, data, and reality. So let me tell you where things currently stand.

Here are the facts: after an incredible election day with almost 15,000 votes cast in person, we’re down 164 votes. There are currently over 35,000 absentee votes still to be counted-- over ⅔ of the votes in this election. We’re very much in this.

Those votes won’t be counted until at least July 1, and depending on how fast the Suffolk County Board of Elections can count, we may not know the winner of our Primary until mid-July. Our campaign has promised to support this process to ensure that votes are counted as smoothly and quickly as possible to help us declare the eventual nominee and move on to run against Lee Zeldin.

As the absentee count progresses, we are cautiously optimistic that once every vote is counted, I will be the Democratic nominee. Here’s why:

On election day, we won the town of Brookhaven, and Brookhaven makes up substantially more of the absentee ballots than of the in-person vote-- 61% compared to 58%.

Our very active field program was exclusively designed to encourage our supporters to vote absentee until right before election day, so there is reason to believe that our supporters heard from us and submitted their votes by mail.

We are modeling these results, and any small adjustments in the margins make all the difference. For example, if we increase our margins by .5% across the district compared to the in-person vote, we win. If the absentee votes are split like the in-person votes, but we do 1% better in absentees in Brookhaven, we win. The uncertainty is greater than the precision we can get in any of our models. The situation boils down to this: we need to make sure every vote is counted, and when they are, we remain hopeful we will win.

But here’s the thing: While we watch the vote counting, Lee Zeldin isn’t slowing down. In fact, he just announced a fundraiser featuring fellow Trump apologist Jim Jordan as a special guest!

The primary is a first stop on the way to our goal of beating Lee Zeldin and replacing him with a scientist who is working to actually make lives better. We need to begin raising money to compete with Zeldin’s $2 Million war chest. With just over 130 days until the General Election, we can’t miss a day, even with the Primary winner uncertain. So we’re going to keep sending emails with updates, we’re going to keep holding Zeldin accountable, and we’re going to keep asking for money to do exactly that. And if it turns out that I am not the nominee, any funds you donate from this date forward will be refunded.
With two-thirds of the votes uncounted, there is no telling who the winner will be, not in a race this close. And one has to wonder how many races from last Tuesday that is true of. It certainly is the case in Kentucky's Senate race, where the Schumer candidate looked like she was leading but, since then, Charles Booker, the progressive, has pulled ahead-- and where most votes are still unaccounted for, but where we should see final results tomorrow.

Labels: , , , , , ,