Tuesday, June 30, 2020

President Fumbledick is on Line 2




In hundreds of highly classified phone calls with foreign heads of state, President Donald Trump was so consistently unprepared for discussion of serious issues, so often outplayed in his conversations with powerful leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan, and so abusive to leaders of America's principal allies, that the calls helped convince some senior US officials -- including his former secretaries of state and defense, two national security advisers and his longest-serving chief of staff -- that the President himself posed a danger to the national security of the United States, according to White House and intelligence officials intimately familiar with the contents of the conversations. 

The calls caused former top Trump deputies -- including national security advisers H.R. McMaster and John Bolton, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and White House chief of staff John Kelly, as well as intelligence officials -- to conclude that the President was often "delusional," as two sources put it, in his dealings with foreign leaders. The sources said there was little evidence that the President became more skillful or competent in his telephone conversations with most heads of state over time. Rather, he continued to believe that he could either charm, jawbone or bully almost any foreign leader into capitulating to his will, and often pursued goals more attuned to his own agenda than what many of his senior advisers considered the national interest.

Each and everything we are learning about right now was evident during Trump's first 90 days in office. If the GOP had circled ranks, found their balls, and sent emissaries to the White House, we would be in the third year of Pence's caretaker presidency and the Republicans would probably still be in charge of solid majorities in the House and Senate.

But, no. They decided to grab the tiger by the tail and this is how we live now.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Wet Wipes Litter the Ground Where the Queen Vacations



Walkers are relieving themselves in the grounds of Queen Elizabeth's Scottish residence, staff have said.
Employees at Balmoral Castle, which the Queen frequently visits for holidays throughout the year, have complained about wet wipes being left on the estate and urged people not to use the spot as an outdoor toilet.
Most public facilities are closed in the United Kingdom due to the country's lockdown, but people are allowed to exercise and socialize outside, leading many to seek quiet public places if nature calls during a day out.
"Disappointed to see so many wipes discarded on the Estate today. Next to paths and monuments. Please remember there are no public toilets open for miles around at the moment," staff at Balmoral wrote.
"Part of the problem is that we are seeing a lot of non biodegradable wipes being discarded in the countryside," they added. "Also, people are choosing to relieve themselves right next to busy paths or monuments rather than move a little bit further away to avoid contamination."
A person who cleans themselves with a wet wipe is a person with a plan. Why don't we celebrate that?
If you don't want to see this trash, then put up some bins and relax.
This is a first world problem of the highest order, and who's got time for any of that right now?

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Let's Regulate and Break Up Facebook




A growing list of companies say they'll join an advertiser boycotton Facebook in protest of what they say are the site's failures to stop the spread of hate.
 
A civil rights coalition, which includes the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the NAACP, launched the #StopHateforProfit campaign last week when it called on major corporations to put a pause on advertising on Facebook, citing the company's "repeated failure to meaningfully address the vast proliferation of hate on its platforms."
 
Within days, outdoor retailers REI, The North Face, and Patagonia said they were in. Other companies, including Upwork and Dashlane, joined too.

We are not living in a period of "good government." The corruption we're seeing at all levels of the public and private sectors is not something that can be sustained. When you see the value of Facebook plummet like this, you have to ask yourself, "was that really the value of the company in the first place?"

In as much as Facebook could monetize your data, freely given, yes. But the reality is, without proper regulation, a company like this cannot continue to operate in the same way for very long. An activist, law-respecting government would have already regulated how Facebook uses data and what it sells it for. A government that protects consumers would have already broken up the company and would be looking at Amazon and a host of others because their business model--screwing people eight ways to Sunday--isn't the sort of thing that should be tolerated.

And no, Facebook is not being censored. It's being brought into the 21st Century, kicking and screaming like an anarcho-libertarian problem child.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Republicans Continue Their Push to Abolish Obamacare



Republicans want more Americans to go without health care and that's all there is to it:

In the midst of a global pandemic with the presidential election just months away, the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, the landmark health care law that enabled millions of Americans to get insurance coverage and that remains in effect despite the pending legal challenge.
In a late-night filing, Solicitor General Noel Francisco said that once the law's individual coverage mandate and two key provisions are invalidated, "the remainder of the ACA should not be allowed to remain in effect."

The justices will hear arguments in the case sometime next term, although it is unclear if they will occur before the November election.

This is a relentless assault on decency. If, by some miracle, they were to "invalidate" the ACA, would anybody even notice? Would we finally see some realization in this country that all the GOP wants is for Americans to go without health care and die needlessly?

Everything we're seeing is a last-ditch run at whatever still works. The Republican Party wants to wreck everything so that they can sit back and say, "government doesn't work!" That's how they're going to survive the next decade or so--they'll leave the country in ruins so they can criticize every Democrat who tries to put things right.

I can't even with these people anymore. It's an evil thing to do, leaving people without the care they need. It's deliberate and direct. It's a constant assault on trying to do the right thing for people.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

You Gotta Be Crazy to Work For Trump


I'm not exaggerating. This guy is effing crazy:
The White House's nominee for a top Pentagon post repeatedly spread conspiracy theories that a former CIA director tried to overthrow President Donald Trump and even have him assassinated in newly discovered comments from radio and television appearances as well as on social media. 
Retired Army Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata, who was nominated to become the under secretary of defense for policy at the Department of Defense, promoted conspiracy theories that John Brennan, the former CIA director, wanted to oust Trump from office, and pushed a bogus conspiracy theory that Brennan sent a coded tweet to order the assassination of Trump in 2018.
A spokesperson for Brennan declined to comment.
CNN's KFile reviewed dozens of Tata's radio and television appearances and found that he also spread conspiracy theories that a "deep state cabal" of officials would rather see Trump fail than succeed in office, a sentiment echoed by the President and his allies, using extreme rhetoric. Tata also said then-President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama engaged in "borderline treasonous" behavior by expressing their dismay over a Trump presidency during the transition period.
How did he even make it to General? Did they feel sorry for him? Was this how they helped him transition to the civilian world? Here's a pity star for you, now go.

There's no one left who will work for Trump. That's how his "second term" will look, if there is one. We will be seven years into a Trump presidency and the only people who will work for him will be the absolute crazies who drool and dance around at his rallies, not understanding the world around them. They're the ones in the dirty t-shirts who lost their MAGA hat when they vaulted over the chain link fence because they didn't know where the gate was.

I'm convinced that this is why he'll end up serving five or six presidential terms--there are too many unemployable people in this country whose only real shot at a job is wrapped up in making sure Trump is never thrown out of office. You better vote or this guy Tata is going to end up Vice President some day.


Saturday, June 20, 2020

White Privilege



This is an incredible story, and the reporting here is worthy of awards and praise:

Chauvin was booked at the county jail the same day he was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.

As Chauvin arrived, all officers of color were ordered to a separate floor, and a supervisor told one of them that, because of their race, they would be a potential “liability” around Chauvin, according a copy of racial discrimination charges obtained by the Star Tribune.

“I understood that the decision to segregate us had been made because we could not be trusted to carry out our work responsibilities professionally around the high-profile inmate — solely because of the color of our skin,” wrote one acting sergeant, who is black. “I am not aware of a similar situation where white officers were segregated from an inmate.”

Here you have a situation where, because of the notoriety of the prisoner, a decision was made to segregate him from prisoners and guards.  Think about that for a moment. They decided to keep Chauvin in a different county altogether. The crime he is accused of was committed in Minneapolis, which is in Hennepin County. Ramsey County, where they decided to jail him, is the next county over.

The decision was based on bigotry and nothing more. They put all of the minority guards on a different floor from Chauvin and then they tried to cover it up.

I feel like I don't know what country I live in anymore. Is this America? Because I can't fucking tell anymore. I really can't.

This is just an amazing detail as well:

On May 30, multiple officers reported seeing surveillance footage of a white lieutenant who was granted special access to Chauvin’s cell, where she sat on his bunk and allowed him to use her cellphone — a significant policy violation.

The cover-up continues, and the damage that has been done to this institution is devastating.

The Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on that allegation. Chauvin was moved to the Hennepin County jail on May 31 and for security reasons transferred again to the Oak Park Heights maximum security prison, where he remains.

Nearly a week after the initial incident, dozens of jailers met with Sheriff Bob Fletcher and elected an acting sergeant to read a two-page letter on the behalf of the minority staff. The note recalled his confrontation with Lydon, the shock he felt upon being called “a liability” around Chauvin and the command to notify other officers of color that they were being reassigned to a different floor.

“I immediately left feeling sick to my stomach,” the letter states. “The hurt and anger these officers displayed was evident not only in their body language, but in their voice.”

The sergeant went on to explain that the order caused division among the ranks and cast doubt on the professionalism of even veteran officers. He did not request Lydon’s termination, but said his judgment “caused us officers to lose faith in his ability to run this facility.”

All of this just leaves me speechless. What can you even do to comprehend how insane all this is? White privilege is real, and this is what it looks like.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

It Was Always Bullshit


If you're reading this out of context, like I just did, don't worry.

This is what John Bolton put into his book about his time in the Trump Regime. This is what former Chief of Staff John Kelly said about Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. And that's Trump's response--how else are we going to stop the caravans?

The caravans were just a bunch of bullshit. Everything about Trump and his regime is a criminal act that has gone unpunished.

Thanks again, GOP. You own this mess. You own this fiasco. You own all of it, forever.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Trump and His Goons Stole All That Money



Catherine Rampell of The Washington Post is one of the most important writers in America, and she asks a very important question about what Trump and Mnuchin did with your money.
What are they hiding?

That’s the question taxpayers should be asking as the Trump administration refuses to reveal where a half-trillion dollars of our hard-earned cash has gone.

In March, back when Congress was rushing to provide more coronavirus relief, lawmakers passed an unprecedented $2 trillion bill known as the Cares Act. After initially fighting to prevent any meaningful oversight of the bailout programs it would administer — at one point even demanding a few-strings-attached Treasury slush fund — the Trump administration eventually agreed to several major oversight and disclosure measures. Senior officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, repeatedly pledged “full transparency on anything we do.”

Yeah, right.

Since then, the administration has worked to sabotage virtually all of these accountability mechanisms. While paying lip service to “transparency,” it has fired, demoted or otherwise kneecapped inspectors general, some of whom recently wroteto congressional leaders warning of systematic efforts to avoid scrutiny required by law. The watchdog Government Accountability Office also complained that the administration has refused to provide critical data on the bailout.
We are inventing new ways to talk about how a third-rate mobster like Trump can get away with stealing money from the government and shoving it into the pants of his buddies. A phrase like "sabotage virtually all of these accountability mechanisms" is just a polite way of saying, "look the other way while we rob this bank."

Literally. They have stolen your money. Trump and his buddies walked off with it, and that's the simple truth.

And what's funny is that, in about six months, there will be "no money" for President Biden to spend on repairing the economy. There will be "no money" anywhere and we have to CUT SPENDING and CUT ENTITLEMENTS and FIX THE DEFICIT that Trump created.

The GOP will suddenly become the party of responsible governance and the only mature adult in the room when it comes to fiscal discipline. Writers like Rampell are smart enough to tell us how they will have zero credibility when it happens, and I am hoping we can continue to get this sort of analysis and commentary from a major American newspaper. The problem is, there are a hundred hacks out there who are going to repeat the Republican talking points about how WE ARE BROKE and OH MY GOD YOU HAVE TO SLASH BENEFITS FOR THE POOR and that's all you're going to hear during Biden's first term in office.

Don't fall for any of it. We need to spend money to save American jobs and we need to feed people when Trump is thrown out of office. We need to raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for it. That's the only sane path forward.

Monday, June 15, 2020

The Betrayal of Neil Gorsuch



I wouldn't confuse Neil Gorsuch with Earl Warren, but this is stunning:

Many conservatives were in a state of shock on Monday morning when they learned that Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch had authored a majority opinion stating that it is illegal for businesses to fire people for being gay or transgender.
 
Even though Gorsuch has been a reliable conservative on the Supreme Court throughout most of his tenure, he nonetheless joined with Chief Justice John Roberts and liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elana Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Stephen Breyer to rule that existing Civil Rights laws protect LGBT Americans from discrimination.

The advantage of being a Supreme Court Justice is that you can basically tell the whole world to fuck off when you do something out of character. The original intent was, you can be independent of political considerations. Lifetime tenure is supposed to afford a person the ability to show allegiance to the law instead of a cause or faction. Insert eye roll here.

There was never any indication that Gorsuch was going to be an independent thinker on the court. In fact, his numerous engagements with the conservative movement indicated that he was going to be a reliable vote that could be combined with Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas.

Well, to hell with that after today.

Gorsuch probably realizes that the religious right is now going to shun him, and what's the great loss there? Who would want to rub elbows with the God botherers and the smarmy movement conservatives that are quickly dying out? If you look at the future of this country, it doesn't include the religious right.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The President of Conspiracy Theory America


That's it.

That's the craziest fucking thing he's tweeted today.

I certainly hope that Mr. Gugino has already been contacted by a very fine and reputable lawyer and can begin the process of suing in order to preserve his good name. No American citizen should be subjected to this horror.

We already know that Twitter will do nothing so, there you go.

There is no bottom, there never will be a bottom, and I can promise you that you'll see worse things in the months ahead.

Trump is full on crazy, probably howling at the carpets and slapping away trays of medication. Congratulations, Republican Party. This is what you have delivered to the American people.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Malignantly Crazy is Not a Thing


I really don't know what to make of this. Anyone who believes that they can engineer an electoral college victory out of being insanely unpopular for every day of his presidency has to be convinced of their own brilliance. In the case of Jared Kushner, yep, that makes sense.
In Donald Trump’s West Wing, being a member of the Trump family has historically been the ultimate job security. But that truism is being stress-tested after a run of polls consistently show Trump losing to Joe Biden at this stage of the race—a CNN poll this morning has him down 14 points. According to a source close to the White House, Trump has mulled taking oversight of the campaign away from his son-in-law Jared Kushner. “Trump is malignantly crazy about the bad poll numbers,” a former West Wing official said. “He’s going to broom Kushner and [Brad] Parscale—the numbers are not getting better,” a Republican close to the campaign said.

Long before the reelection campaign went sideways, Trump frequently blew up at Kushner. For instance, former West Wing officials recall how Trump hated when Kushner received too much positive press (In January, Trump was rankled when Kushner’s portrait graced the cover of Time). “Any time Jared is in the papers, Trump complains, ‘We have to get Jared back to New York!’” said a Republican who heard Trump make the comment. In the end, the source cautioned that Trump won’t push Kushner out. “This is typical with him and Jared,” the source said.
An individual who can be described as "malignantly crazy" is really just a psychopath. I suspect that someone is trying to profit from the idea that if you can convince Trump he's winning, you'll make millions.

That's all we're seeing now. Someone has to figure out how to convince Trump he's a winner when, in fact, he's destined for a pretty lopsided defeat. They have to sell him on the idea that they can reverse the numbers when, in fact, there's nothing that can be done about Trump's historically unpopular status with the American people. There's nothing that indicates the 2020 election will be close. The American people cannot claim to be "better off" than they were four years ago unless they have $100 million dollars stashed somewhere.

Any American who hasn't made up their mind about Trump at this point is likely incapable of voting on the right day anyway, so there you go.

Trump has to find people who can competently lie to him about his chances in November. Do those people even exist? Are there any credible human beings left who could work for him for more than a few days?

We are literally at the point in Trump's presidency when he can't fire anyone because there's no one left who will be able to take the job. As in, there's no one with a pulse and no one who wants to go down in flames with the man in the bunker.

A List of Trump's Transgressions Against Democracy


The great Bill Moyers has written an eloquent list of what Trump has done to destroy our democracy.

I'm putting this here for reference purposes because hell yeah, I agree with this.

He has declared himself above the law, preached insurrection by encouraging armed supporters to “liberate” states from the governance of duly elected officials, told police not to be “too nice” while doing their job, and gloated over the ability of the Secret Service to turn “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons” loose on demonstrators — to “come down on them hard” if they get too “frisky.
He has politicized the Department of Justice while remaking the judiciary in his image.
He has stifled investigations into his administration’s corruption, fired officials charged with holding federal agencies accountable to the public, and rewarded his donors and cronies with government contracts, subsidies, deregulations, and tax breaks.
He has maligned and mocked the disadvantaged, the disabled, and people of color.
He has sought to politicize the military, including in his entourage the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs (dressed in combat fatigues), as his orderlies unleashed chemical fumes on peaceful protesters – all so that the president could use them as stage props in a photo op, holding up a Bible in front of a historic church, just to make a dandy ad for his re-election campaign.
He has purged his own party of independent thinkers and turned it into a spineless, mindless cult while demonizing the opposition.
He has purloined religion for state and political ends.
He has desecrated the most revered symbols of Christian faith by converting them to partisan brands.  
He has recruited religious zealots for jobs in his administration, rewarding with government favors the electoral loyalty of their followers.
He has relentlessly attacked mainstream media as purveyors of “fake news” and “enemies of the people” while collaborating with a sycophantic right- wing media – including the Murdoch family’s Fox News — to flood the country with lies and propaganda.
He has maneuvered the morally hollow founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, into compromising the integrity of the most powerful media giant in the country by infusing it with partisan bias.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

These Men Committed Crimes Against Humanity


Make no mistake about it. When William Barr ordered that the area around St. John's Church should be "cleared" for Trump, it was a crime against humanity.
Attorney General William Barr defended the shocking use of force on peaceful protesters outside the White House Monday, saying at a news conference on Thursday that difficulties with relocating authorities earlier in the day had forced the clash.
Flanked by federal law enforcement leaders at the Justice Department in his first public remarks since the extraordinary episode, Barr maintained that his decision to disperse the crowd followed signs that the crowd was "becoming increasingly unruly" and had nothing to do with a photo-op staged by President Donald Trump at a nearby church that took place minutes later.
"There was no correlation between our tactical plan of moving the perimeter out by one block and the President's going over to the church," Barr said.
The explanation came after criticism had mounted over the situation, with lawmakers and public figures, including the President's first defense chief, Jim Mattis, decrying the violent spectacle.
Peaceably assembled Americans were violently assaulted on Barr's orders. This is not some abstract thing that can be excused away or considered a "minor blip" in our quest to hold the Trump Regime accountable. It was a criminal act.

I love the Democratic Party, but I am going to raise holy hell if, at some point, we do not address what Barr ordered and what happened to the Americans who were exercising their First Amendment rights of protest. If we sweep this under the rug and do nothing if Trump is thrown out of office, we will be giving every future American president the green light to use physical violence to intimidate and harass the American people.

This is one of those moments where we should take stock of the fact that we have an Attorney General who is so venal and corrupt as to be a walking, talking violation of everything we believe in.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Ban the Use of Rubber Bullets


Halsey is one of many artists that are looking for a way to formally begin the process of banning the use of rubber bullets:
Kacey Musgraves and singer-songwriter Victoria Monét are among a host of artists who have called on the police in the US to ban the use of rubber bullets.
Halsey revealed she was among a number of people who have been hit by rubber bullets during recent peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd.
“[The police] fired rubber bullets at us. We did not breach the line. Hands were up. Unmoving. And they gassed and fired,” Halsey posted recently with photos of the altercation.
“This hit me through layers of fabric and for that, I am extremely privileged. At close range it would have caused serious injury.”
There's a way to skirt this issue and claim that the use of rubber bullets and pepper spray and those pepper balls fired out of paintball guns is actually the humanitarian application of advanced crowd control techniques. That's all bullshit. A device fired at people that can cripple or maim them is just as bad as shooting them with bullets if it is done without any regard for public safety. You have people who have lost an eye or have been severely injured by these things. I support banning their use outright.

Crowd control is necessary because of what? In order to suppress the will of the people who have decided to protest? Why is there a need for it in the first place when all it does is put the police in a position to abuse their power? There used to be widespread use of dogs and water cannons as well. The military has these vehicle-mounted devices that emit painful sound waves. When aimed at demonstrators, they can cause severe injury to hundreds of people at once.

This is all you need to know about the Active Denial System, and when you do read about it, try not to panic if you can imagine what Trump would do with it if he knew it was available for his own personal use.

None of this is humane and none of it should be used.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Bunker Bitch


This is one hell of a campaign sign. I expect to see it displayed prominently for the next few months.

Wow.

A Symbol of Distress


It should be noted that General Michael Hayden was a creature of the Republican establishment. He ran several intelligence agencies during the George W. Bush administration. I do not believe him to be a hysteric nor do I think he has become a flower child hippie in his retirement.

This is a serious wake-up call to the American people. It should not pass without comment.

Justice


A simple, powerful statement that encapsulates everything that really matters right now.


Monday, June 1, 2020

War Porn


So, what happened today?

Trump had the area around the White House cleared so that he could take this photo. It is, without getting too graphic, a perfect example of an image of "war porn" as you're ever going to see. It is designed to flatter the vanity of the dictator and make him look powerful and strong.

These doughy, overly serious looking men are flanked by blonde women and tough guy security forces. You can see a little diversity creeping in, but barely. They have hapless General Mark Milley in his Battle Dress Uniform because having him out there in his Class A uniform would be considered too weak, of course. If General Milley had a shred of dignity or pride, he would have resigned months ago. For him to participate in a Trump campaign photo op is embarrassing. 

This image of war porn is, of course, just campaign paraphernalia from the Trump organization. It's an abuse of power. 

You're witnessing the creation of a myth. 

The myth is that Trump is surrounded by competent people. He is not. He is surrounded by lawless sycophants. 

The myth is that he is a strong man. No, he's a #BunkerBitch, a man who cowers in fear when Americans gather around him to protest. 

The myth is that he is there to protect his blonde young women. Nothing could be more ridiculous. It's another dog whistle that he's blowing to his racist followers -- look at me and my property. 

Here's the wide angle shot, staged with the same slapdash urgency of a White House that couldn't organize a one car parade.


Looks like a future perp walk to me. We will need a modern-day equivalent of the Nuremberg Trials when we reach the point where we can reckon with all of the damage these people have done to our country.

Here's the reality of today's dog and pony show.


Photo by Doug Mills, NYT

Incredibly Unpopular and Universally Disliked


Buried in today's "transcript" or "retelling" of the call that Trump had today with the nation's governors is a plea from the governor of Maine to stay the hell away because he is a toxic stew of boiling shit:

I really thought this was going to be about Trump making demands for a cash payment or something along those lines. We know that he likes to wet his beak and we know that he uses his visits to enrich himself. Not sure what going to Maine gets him because he's going to be blown out there like any other Northeastern state. If Trump's campaign thinks they have to fight for one or two of Maine's electoral votes, then they're already on the path to being beaten this fall.

But what was buried in the call was Trump talking about himself in the third person and asserting that the people "like their president."

The hell they do.

This week should have been a stark reminder that Trump is a divisive, unpopular figure who is not wanted anywhere. For a while there, he couldn't show up at major sporting events because he was so universally reviled. And now he believes he is popular in places like Maine where Senator Susan Collins is getting beaten in the polls?

Someone is feeding Trump a huge lump of bullshit every minute of every day and it's just sad that at this point that he feels the need to tell people that the people like him.

Read the room, asshole. They don't even want you when you're hiding in your bunker.