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unraveling

30.June 2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

A danger to the national security of the United States Permalink to this item

February is short, July and August are long, so we're not exactly half way through this year (that will be midnight Thursday, still a day and a half away), but going by months, this is it. With no reason to expect the 2nd half to be less consquential than the first, we'd better buckle up, because it's going to be one hell of a ride.

After Friday's news about Russia providing bounties to Afghan militants for killing US and coalition troops, and the day-long silence to come up with a story (while +rump went golfing), what @PressSec Kayleigh McEnany rolled out was nothing short of incredible. The President and Vice president hadn't been briefed. As if... knowing they were out of the loop would make things better?

Republicans have been promoting the "government is broken so let's dismantle it" line for so long now (no joke: it's been 40+ years), they seem to have fully lost the plot. The party of "Law and Order" has made a mockery of the phrase, in service to a lawless crime family of grifters. Responding to a pandemic with half a year of deadly incompetence has brought the country and its economy to its knees, establishing an unimaginable nadir of "American exceptionalism."

What the founder of the party said: a house divided against itself cannot stand. He also said "Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?"

But Donald Trump has no friends. He has sycophants, enablers, collaborators, all on their way to becoming scapegoats when the inevitable disaster arrives. Putin and Xi and Erdoğan and Kim are not so much temporary "friends," as idols. Dictators who don't have to care what the press or opposition say; that's the country Trump longs for. He's got Bill Barr weaponizing "law and order" now, waving away crimes when it suits him, and making up new ones as need be. His boss already demonstrated he's prepared to overlook arson when it serves his agenda.

This president was impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors enlisting a foreign power to dig dirt on his political opponent, phone calls that so alarmed members of his administration that they talked to their superiors, to lawyers, and testified in the House. (The Senate GOP declined the opportunity to hear any testimony, in their haste to issue a carte blanche.) Even John Bolton was so alarmed that he quit, to try to cash in his insider view with a tell-some book.

What Heather Cox Richardson said about Carl Bernstein's deeply researched piece about Trump's phone calls with world leaders, with my emphasis:

Trump is unprepared, boastful, and deferential to Putin and Turkey’s autocratic ruler Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with whom he talks frequently. When he picks up the phone, he is unable to distinguish between his own interests in revenge and reelection and the interests of the nation. According to Bernstein, U.S. withdrawal from northeastern Syria and abandonment of our Kurdish allies to a Turkish invasion last fall was at Erdoğan’s urging.

Trump caves to autocrats but bullies allies, including Germany’s Angela Merkel and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May. He also denigrates former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush to foreign leaders.

According to the piece, Trump’s senior officials, “including his former secretaries of state and defense, two national security advisers and his longest-serving chief of staff,” have concluded “that the President himself" is "a danger to the national security of the United States.”

UPDATE: There are receipts.

"American officials intercepted electronic data showing large financial transfers from a bank account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency to a Taliban-linked account, which was among the evidence that supported their conclusion that Russia covertly offered bounties for killing U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan, according to three officials familiar with the intelligence."

28.June 2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Lost in translation Permalink to this item

First of all, the reason it's the front page story with a jump to a two-page spread in the NY Times: the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 can be and is spread by people who don't exhibit symptoms. How the World Missed Covid-19's Silent Spread. Not only, and with significant uncertainty, which, how could that not create uncertainty?

"It is now widely accepted that seemingly healthy people can spread the virus, though uncertainty remains over how much they have contributed to the pandemic. Though estimates vary, models using data from Hong Kong, Singapore and China suggest that 30 to 60 percent of spreading occurs when people have no symptoms."

The story goes into detail about German doctors had the first inkling in late January and early February, and fussing over publication and semantics kept the important part from getting the attention it needed. It's instructive, informative, and sobering. Teases out the difference between presymptomatic, asymptomatic, and oligosymptomatic.

Anyway, in the middle of the story in print, and online, there's a photo by Laetitia Vancon, of one of the principles in the story, Dr. Merle Böhmer, at a laptop under a mobile of poetry, sketches, and origami, with one poem, in German, centered. I know just enough to be dangerous, and I could see there was love, fish, a knife, flesh and blood, a table, and in the context, I wanted to know more.

Google translate helped with the basic vocabulary, and the theme, if not the nuance, or the source, or how deeply this metaphor was swimming. The web doesn't pop the author for me, but expanded its travels from a German doctor to a blog review of a "French" restaurant in Tokyo, on a German site with a Frech name, "Trois Etoiles," which is to say, Three Stars. You know.

The restaurant named Quintessence, the blog hook stumm verrinnt mein Blut; silently runs my blood. On my phone, there was a translate button that gave me the whole thing, close enough, an interesting, evocative, somewhat banal review of a toney restaurant (but maybe that's just me; it's not a genre I follow). The unattributed globe-trotting poem in question:

Silver spotted grunt

in deiner liebe netz verfing
ich mich als fisch /
in deiner küche blieb
in qual ich fisch /
nun öffnet deiner liebe messer
rot mein fleisch /
und stumm verrinnt mein blut
auf deiner liebe tisch

Trying to make sense of it gives one appreciation for the difficulty translating poetry, but here goes:

in your dear net caught
me as a fish
in your dear kitchen kept
in agony I fish
now your dear knife opens
red my flesh
and silent runs my blood
on your dear table

I want it to be more than just lunch, you know? Especially since fish for lunch doesn't sound as tasty just this moment. I did go on to find evidence that it's a lyric, by Eva Padberg, part of the duo Dapayk & Padberg, whose techo-thing is not my techno-thing, so maybe I'm just reading too much into everything.

27.June 2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The cuckolded state Permalink to this item

Our current president's* affection for Russia used to be about the possibility of a hotel deal, but it swelled considerably for the help in getting him elected in 2016. Remember how jolly he was meeting with the Sergeys in the Oval back in 2017, fresh off firing Jim Comey and imagining he'd got "that Russiar thing" off his back. He even leaked a little Israeli intelligence as a sign of goodwill.

Remember when CNN put together a catalog of 80 times +rump talked about Putin? That was less than one month into his time in office (and before the Sergeys debacle). Remember when Vlad called Donny "a genius" and the ridiculous flattery worked a treat? When the Republican Party tweaked its platform in Vlad's favor?

Teasel

"If he says great things about me, I'm going to say great things about him. I've already said, he is really very much of a leader," +rump said in a Sept. 2016 TV-town hall, on his way to tossing out that Putin has "been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader."

Remember that third debate, Oct. 19, 2016, when Hillary Clinton pointed out—with complete accuracy, we've come to see—that +rump was Putin's "puppet," and his witless rejoinder was "No puppet. You’re the puppet"?

Remember when the G7 became the G8, last millennium? Fresh out of its Soviet Union, Russia joined the big economies of the west (and Japan), we'd won the Cold War and everything was sweetness and light until Russia started working to recreate its empire and annexed Crimea, and got booted out, in 2014?

Russia, Russia, Russia keeps popping up, and here it is totally swamping the pandemic's record 44,702 new cases in the US yesterday, at the top of the headlines with a blockbuster from the New York Times: Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops.

And the +rump administration... "has been deliberating for months about what to do."

Maybe Don could go to Helsinki again and deny our own intelligence agencies by saying say something colossally stupid like "I don't see any reason why it would be Russia," and then try to stumble it back the next day, as if he meant exactly the opposite.

Because that couldn't be much worse or much more stumbling than the response over the first half of this year, and the last three months. Heather Cox Richardson made a list, an April 1 (of course) PR coup, an April 25 joint statement, a long telephone call on May 3, humanitarian aid on May 21, calling for Russia to brought back into the G7 June 1, and announcing plans to remove a quarter of our troops from Germany two weeks after that.

"All of these friendly overtures to Russia were alarming enough when all we knew was that Russia attacked the 2016 U.S. election and is doing so again in 2020. But it is far worse that those overtures took place when the administration knew that Russia had actively targeted American soldiers."

Idaho's junior Senator is the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, and we'll be damned if he ever lets out as much as a squeak about +rump selling us down the river. They have private conversations, he likes to assure us, they're the best of pals.

But what is on Jim Risch's mind is making sure we don't provide Congressional representation to U.S. citizens in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, through statehood. "Keynoting" the state GOP's convention yesterday, Risch described how "really, really bad" statehood would be.

“I will be the last Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee forever, because they will pick up four Democratic seats that will never flip over. ... Republicans will never [again] be in the majority in the United States Senate,” Risch told Republican crowd at the Ford Idaho Center.

Risch isn't worried about the "rough patch" +rump is going through right now, and is all-in on the reelection. He "praised Trump’s leadership and defended his handling of the coronavirus pandemic," to circle us back to the other top story. 2.5 million cases and counting. 125,000 deaths and counting. And the infection rate is accelerating and setting records in state after state, including ours.

Such "leadership."

26.June 2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

When crazy comes to town - part 2 Permalink to this item

Another member of the Horrible Media® attended yesterday's state Republican Party convention in nearby Nampa, and reported on the doings. Thanks to Nathan Brown of the Idaho Falls Post Register for coverage of the platform debate.

An effort to distill the 14-page laundry list of lunacy to "a short statement of principles" died on the vine. Predictably? Where's the fun in a one-pager, really. But kudos to Bear Lake County's Charles Horikami for the suggestion to eliminate the whackiness in favor of "a short statement of support for the U.S. Constitution and principles such as the rights to life and to bear arms, free enterprise and fiscal conservatism," keeping it short, sweet, and tweetable. Components at 280 characters or less! Bonneville County's Bryan "B.S." Smith wasn't having that. Not enough wit and wisdom in just two contributors to make up for what's been "prepared and debated over years and years and years." (Not sure where "just the two of you" came from; surely the committee could and would still wrangle over the contents.)

Lee Barron brought a proposal to provide each county one state senator instead of apportioning them by population, as is done now. Because that system works so well on the national scene? Idaho currently has 35 legislative districts, and 44 counties, so that's a bit of a division problem. One could simply increase the size of the Senate, of course. Amend the Constitution and what-not. It's only the party platform, it doesn't have to make sense.

"I see a looming big trouble in Idaho and what it is is the one man, one vote," Barron said, apparently not aware that women can vote now, too. A looming big trouble.

Barron hails from Camas County, 1,079 square miles with maybe 1,127 people in it, tucked next to Blaine Co., home of Sun Valley and Ketchum (ten times the people in twice the area), and two counties over from this here Ada, about the same area as Camas, but with more than four hundred times the population. From his point of view, Idaho is “a beautiful country of rednecks and flyover people, surrounded by a thin blue line of population,” which, wut?

Rod Beck, long-time affiliate of the "further-right" wing and trying for a promotion from Precinct 1505 Committeeman up to Ada County commissioner and a 6-figure salary, had to step up to be the voice of reason, if you can believe that. (Nobody had that on their 2020 BINGO card.) "How am I going to run as a county commissioner saying, ‘Well I’m a Republican, and we want to take away every senator you have here which is now nine and only make it one?’"

There's also the impossibility of it, and the illegality, after the Supreme Court mandated proportional representation more than half a century ago. Barron said yeah, sure, but he thinks the state could win in court! He's not a lawyer, one presumes, but would be happy to commit taxpayer money to a fool's errand.

The possibility of literal Luna-cy exists, as well: former TEA Party Congressional back-bencher Raúl Labrador has had his fill of being Party Chairman, and vying to replace him is a Bonneville County fellow also "affiliated with the party's further-right wing," nice, who will have to face off against former Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom "At Least There's the Name Recognition" Luna.

Masks were available; Brown reports that most people weren't wearing them, because FREEDOM.

When crazy comes to town - interlude Permalink to this item

Charles P. Pierce tapped the Idaho RWNJ Zeitgeist accurately enough, reading between the lines of Betsy Russell's advance coverage of FREEDOMAN: What Would an Extra-Legal Armed Gathering Be Without America's Foremost Freeloaders?

"No tear gas was used to break up this illegal gathering, and no flash-bangs were deployed, either. The National Guard was not summoned. All was white with the world."

In other cultural news, The Chicks renounced their Dixie, and rolled out this powerful anthem. Among the arresting images, another child with a sign, I MATTER, and the dancer with PLZ DON'T KILL ME on the back of his jacket.

When crazy comes to town - part 1 Permalink to this item

Earlier this week, we had the Crazy Showboat visit the Capitol with a symbolic/shambolic "special non-session" led by the self-identifying loons of the Idaho Legislature. Our Senators have to stand for election every two years, same as the House members, but since there are only half as many of them (35), they seem to take themselves more seriously, and it was only the House extremists who gathered in the House well to the delight of a hundred-some, snugly-packed and unmasked fellow travelers.

Excerpt of Brian Myrick photo at Idaho Capitol

Local media took their chances and their masks, and covered the scene, starting with the outdoor preamble. Brian Myrick of the Idaho Press collected a few photos, including think of the children, carrying signs their parents made for them. "I KNOW MORE ABOUT VACCINES than BRAD LITTLE" said one, charming in its innocence? And a pudgey cherub with a circle-slash MARTIAL LAW. That's right, no martial law. Yet. Rebel without much of a cause Ammon Bundy was the celebrity headliner, sort of, he'd called for "500, 600, 1,000, 2,000" people to show up and didn't get 'er done.

There's an unregistered political action committee called Freedom Man (aka FREEDOMAN in their red, white, blue and Eagle logo), led by "former legislative candidate and Bundy associate Diego Rodriguez," and you can check out his blog post explaining the disappointments ("that it was necessary in the first place," and that "official business was not able to be carried out") the alternate crowd count lacking photographic evidence ("nearly 300"), and WHAT THIS ALL MEANS. There is "injunctive power" (wut; "This, at least, is what we’ve been told and we’re still waiting to see if this argument is valid..."); a petition to redress the airing of grievances; lays the groundwork; advances public awareness. Freedom Man did accurately assess that it "ended up being only a meeting of frustrated legislators to voice their opinions and publicly make an official “proclamation,” so there is that.

A complaint against Freedom Man PAC is said to be under investigation; for his part Ammo said "We have no intention of registering. We have no intention whatsoever." FREEDOMAN's About page doesn't list Ammo among its "we." Their board comprises Adonijah Mehr, Founding Director; Gunner Steele, Staff Columnist; Diego Rodriguez, Communications and Marketing Director; and Levi Anderson, Ambassador for Action. They have liberty loving, avid writing, professional speaking and stray apostrophes covered. (Ambassador's for Action promote taking action for freedom and liberty.)

FREEDOMAN has also taken the trouble to survey all 44 Sheriffs in the state to ask if they will or will not enforce the Governor's "Stay Home" order. That was issued March 25, for 3 weeks, and with the possibility of a 3 week extension, amended April 2, and amended again on April 15, and lasting through the end of April. We've moved on to detailed, sequential "Stay Healthy Orders" in four stages, and we're seeing (yesterday's post) how well that's working, not very. Which is all to say a lot of people have been trying to figure out how to deal with the pandemic in an effective way, while eight, count 'em, eight Sheriffs put themselves on record as planning to disobey the law and good sense, and 31 Sheriffs REFUSED TO RESPOND to FREEDOMAN and I don't know why four were given a "Not yet responded" pass (but they were framed in don't-vote-for red).

Ada County's Sheriff, Steve Bartlett took the trouble to meet with FREEDOMAN "to clarify his position," but "was not enough to warrant an endorsement" from the scofflaw PAC. The account of the conversation is actually an interesting read, and gives a picture of the narrow path that government officials are trying to navigate right now, and also why we can't have nice things.

In the well of Idaho's House on Tuesday, there was praying, posturing, and proclamating, and an exchange of aerosols. Tim Remington, "Pastor" for his regular job up north, Paul Shepard out of Riggins, Tammy Nichols (Middleton) "teared up" for riots and statutes being torn down, Brent Crane (Nampa), Judy Boyle (Midvale), Dorothy Moon (Stanley), Mike Kingsley (Lewiston), Priscilla Giddings (White Bird), Vito Barbieri (Dalton Gardens), Tim Remington (Coeur d'Alene), Heather Scott (Blanchard), Tony Wisniewski (Post Falls), Chad Christensen (Ammon), Terry Gestrin (Donnelly), Ron Mendive (Coeur d'Alene), Christy Zito (Hammett), they'd make a better scenic tour than a legislative body.

A dishonorable mention goes to Rep. Heather Scott for casually referring to the Governor as a "tyrant," and for decrying "our horrible media." She is, demonstrably, a horrible legislator.

Notably not making an appearance was our off-the-right-edge Lieutenant Governor, Janice McGeachin who'd hinted that she might just have to preside over such a special session, but no-showed when (a) there was no Senate over which she could preside, and (b) there was no actual Special Session of anything, either.

So anyway, what was that proclamation? Is there a press release or something? Anybody? There was Judy Boyle's advance copy in a tweet, if nothing else, a Proclamation [sic] of the 65th Legislature Sitting in Extraordinary Session [sic], with its head somewhat up its WHEREAS, demanding the Legislature "must immediately convene" [sic] long before BE IT RESOLVED that the Legislature must immediate reconvene."

It turned out to be "just the way [she] feel[s]," which is fine, and something useful, they all established that the Legislature cannot, in fact, and in spite of what some lawyers in Arizona opined, call itself into session. In order to call itself into session. (If you're not confused, you're not paying attention.) For Boyle, and any of the others who really believe in that Proclamation, having identified their collective "failing said oath," "failing its responsibilities" and "derelict in its duties," shouldn't they all resign?

It would be the honorable thing.

25.June 2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

It's like a miracle Permalink to this item

Our oval idiot now says we're testing too much, and if only we would look away, everything would be fine. Shades of his make-believe promise on February 27, when he said "It's going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear." That was cover? for the CDC on his watch having utterly botched testing for a crucial month, saying "the CDC preferred to have its own, more precise test" when in fact their test was no good. (In mid-January, the WHO was already distributing the test made by the German Center for Infection Research worldwide.)

Buzzfeed infographic, annotated

Fast forward 4 months, USA NUMBER ONE with a bullet, 2.4 million cases and counting, counting, counting, 122,000 dead, and counting, counting counting. If only we'd stop counting, it would be like a miracle.

Buzzfeed News details how the CDC Lost Control Of The Coronavirus Pandemic. Then The Agency Disappeared and wears out the vocabulary of failure. Anyone countering the Good News Miracle from the top got pushed aside. Officials felt they had to lie to us to protect PPE supplies for healthcare sector. (Perhaps justifiably; this when people were emptying stores of toilet paper.)

Did we say "the current risk from this virus to the general public is low"? That was so last month. Now let us just say "this virus is capable of spreading easily and sustainably from person to person based on the available data."

"A fateful misjudgment of the basic biology of the virus — drove a flawed strategy to contain the outbreak." The failure and limits on testing "left the country blinded." An agency "vanishing act." "A Band-Aid on a dam about to burst." "Things went bad quickly." Confusion. Contamination. Finger-pointing. "Consistently underestimated the need for urgency." "Trump’s increasingly erratic messages," Jared Kushner's “fumbling” and “inexperienced” procurement fubar. Botched. Baffling. Puzzling. Inept.

Deadly.

Top of today's news is a new record for the US daily case count: 36,880 "as the virus surged in the South and West," setting state records in Florida, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas and rising in 29 states, the outbreak "stronger than ever." Here in Idaho, our trend is up, up and awaaaaaaay:

Idaho DHW trend graph, link to source

Barring disaster Permalink to this item

House Judiciary chair Jerry Nadler isn't as strident as I'd like to see, although he did get to the point in his opening statement. Louie Gohmert on my committee, tap, tap, tapping on the dias while someone's testifying? I would have the Sergeant at Arms haul his ass right out of there. There would be subpoenae, and not with a month leadtime for the nexus of metastasizing corruption in the Department of Justice. There would be motions for contempt. There would be articles of impeachment drafted, at least.

"The sickness that we must address is Mr. Barr's use of the Department of Justice as a weapon to serve the president's petty private interests." - Chairman Nadler

ICYMI, and let me fix the NYT headline, Justice Department officials outline corruption under Barr. There was "stinging detail" of "politicization," which is a more difficult to pronounce kind of corruption. Michael Flynn's guilty plea dropped. Roger Stone leniency, after his conviction for seven felonies. The witch hunt for imagined malfeasance in the last admnistration, now nearly a whole term in the rear-view mirror, but a reliable bogeyman.

And of course the Republican clown show, abetted by their witness, George W. Bush's undistinguished AG, Michael Mukasey, who is "without reservation" about singing the praises of +rump's current fixer. Without reservation.

“The politics was in the previous administration,” said Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the top committee Republican. “Bill Barr is doing the Lord’s work trying to clean it up so that it doesn’t happen again.”

It's the "I know you are but what am I?" defense. Speaking of cleanup and the Lord's work, why hasn't Jim Jordan answered for his shrugging off the sex scandal in process when he was at the Ohio State University?

Republicans are thrilled by his pugnacity, and shameless in their complicity in that, too. His indignation about "if they can do it to a president," when "they" haven't succeeded in "it," thanks to the quisling Republicans in the Senate, and "they" also haven't succeeded in the "it" he deserves is an oleaginous embarrassment.

Update: Heather Cox Richardson's June 24 daily dissects the corruption of the DOJ in finer detail, ending with her brief on yesterday's House Judiciary hearing.

She reminds us that more than 1100 former DOJ officials called for Barr to resign over his handling of the Roger Stone case. Yesterday, more than 80% of the faculty at George Washington University Law School —where Barr got his degree—called for Barr’s censure and resignation after he managed to get the US Attorney for the SDNY, Geoffrey Berman fired, having "undermined the rule of law, damaged public confidence that the law applies equally and fairly to all persons, and demonstrated contempt for basic constitutional rights." (Here's the letter, on Google Drive, with 69 signers as of June 24.) The last word goes to Donald Ayer, Deputy AG under George H.W. Bush the last word for the moment, with my emphasis:

"I believe that William Barr poses the greatest threat in my lifetime to our rule of law ... working to destroy the integrity and independence of the Justice Department, in order to make Donald Trump a president who can operate above the law.... Bill Barr’s America is not a place that anyone, including Trump voters, should want to go. It is a banana republic where all are subject to the whims of a dictatorial president and his henchmen."

Solstice Permanent URL to this day's entry

Friday Night Mascara Permalink to this item

The timing was presumably supposed to bury it in the Tulsa Rally and SARS-CoV-2 Superspreading Event, MAGA cheers drowning out the wailing and gnashing about Rule of Law. As Maggie tweeted the early synopsis, Barr asked Berman to resign but he refused so Barr moved to fire him. "[A]ccording to a person familiar with the matter[, +rump] had been discussing removing Mr. Berman for some time with a small group of advisers." Barr lined up SEC chairman Jay Clayton, with "no prosecutorial experience," if that matters, and just to speed the blow, he'd put US Attorney for New Jersey, Craig Carpenito in charge while we wait for the Senate to confirm Clayton.

Then U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman weighed in for himself, via Twitter, because, 2020. He's not the first one to call US AG Bill Barr a liar, but he did that, and that the SDNY has lots of important cases that will continue in the pursuit of justice.

“I learned in a press release from the Attorney General tonight that I was ‘stepping down’ as United States Attorney. I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning, my position, to which I was appointed by the Judges of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York."

David Post of the Volokh Conspiracy explains: the previous AG, J. Beauregard III appointed Berman to succeed freshly fired Preet Bahrara, but "for some reason," "Berman's name was never formally put forward for required Senate confirmation" which gave him a 4 month expire-by date. Then, pursuant to 28 USC 546(d), the District Court appointed Berman to stay on. Until someone is nominated and confirmed by the Senate to replace him.

So anyway, what is the SDNY working on these days? Something something Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, Michael Cohon, the Turkish bank Halkbank, maybe a little Deutsche Bank kicker, some +rump businesses here and there?

The House Judiciary Chairman, Rep. Jerry Nadler says he'd "welcome Mr. Berman's testimony" come Wednesday. As would we all.

The sorry book deal Permalink to this item

Hard to compete with the Friday Night Mascara, William Barr trying to preempt the SDNY from getting all up in IMPOTUS' business, and the US Attorney saying "no, thank you" here five months before the election, but also in the news this morning, US DC District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth denies the government's motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to keep John Bolton from publishing his book. Not because it doesn't deserve to be stopped, but because it's a fait accompli. "By the looks of it, the horse is not just out of the barn—it is out of the country."

"For reasons that hardly need to be stated, the Court will not order a nationwide seizure and destruction of a political memoir."

John Bolton

We are amused to read that John Bolton "bristles," as the Court agrees that the government could succeed on the merits of its case, but that the asked-for remedy can not prevent irreparable harm.

"This was Bolton’s bet: If he is right and the book does not contain classified information, he keeps the upside [of publicity and sales]; but if he is wrong, he stands to lose his profits from the book deal, exposes himself to criminal liability, and imperils national security. Bolton was wrong."

"[T]he Court is persuaded that Defendant Bolton likely jeopardized national security by disclosing classified information in violation of his nondisclosure agreement obligations."

We'll get the benefit of Bolton's note-taking skills, and, if the government proceeds (and wins), we would enjoy "all royalties, remunerations, and emoluments that have resulted, will result or may result" from his violation of his nondisclosure agreements. What we did not get is his timely and appropriate participation in the impeachment and trial of Donald John Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors. His bristley testimony doubtless would not have swung enough of the quisling Republican Senators, but perhaps one or a few more than just Mitt Romney would have admitted the obvious fact of +rump's guilt.

Keeping Bolton from profiting from his work even as it helps sink the S.S. Trumptanic seems like a win-win, as much as there can be winning at this point in our story. (The same judge will oversee that question.)

The Court applied the legal standard of Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. (2008), that four factors, taken together warrant an extraordinary remedy: (1) a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, (2) that the movant would suffer irreparable injury if the injunction were not granted, (3) that an injunction would not substantially injure other interested parties, and (4) that the public interest would be furthered by the injunction.

One out of four ain't bad?

The judge didn't opine on whether the book will cause "irreparable injury" to national security interests, just that the remedy couldn't stop it. "There is no restoring the status quo."

"Counsel for the government still press for an injunction. In its motion, the government asks this Court to order Bolton “to instruct his publisher to take any and all available steps to retrieve and destroy any copies of the book that may be in the possession of any third party.” ... For reasons that hardly need to be stated, the Court will not order a nationwide seizure and destruction of a political memoir."

Juneteenth, 2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Bad hiring Permalink to this item

Railful of video segments atop the 37 most shocking lines from Donald +rump's 'interview' with Sean Hannity, I watched a couple, including a remarkable 2 minutes 20 between Jim Sciutto and John Michael Mulvaney, a mending dip into the Universe According to "Mick." (Bizarro World, for lack of a better term.) Throw your mind back to the early days of the millennium, when a two-bit con-man and serial bankrupt playboy became a Reality TV star for embodying the savviest businessman ever, able to select the Special People out of central casting, and tell everyone else (real slow, to fill the time and build the excitement), "you're fired!"

Those were the days. Here now yesterday, we have the head of the Office of Management and Budget who got to be Acting Chief of Staff too for a while boiling down what's wrong with the current administration as a case of some guy being out of his league and just not very good at hiring decent people.

"I think if there's one criticism that I would level against the president is that he didn't hire very well, um, he did not have experience at running government and didn't know how to put together a team that could work well with him."

All those "military personalities," you know, "just not the type that works well with Donald +rump, who's a, a small businessman who's done extraordinarily well..." There are a few people left in the administration who don't have any complaints, so shut up, why don't you?

Still, "Mick" has a point. The bad hiring goes back to the campaign, with that water boy with the loose lips, that campaign manager who turned out to be a self-dealing felon, the first National Security Adviser with the lying problem, and, you know, "Mick" Mulvaney, just sitting there. The guy who +rump hired twice.

18.June 2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

The redoubtable Heather Scott Permalink to this item

One of Idaho's staunchest right-wing nutjob legislators, Heather Scott from District 1 (way up yonder) sends out a regular Legislative Update, even with the legislator is long gone out of town. Today's edition starts with a focus on "sharing more information about funds available to Idaho small businesses and communities and to provide a brief update on the status of efforts by the Idaho Department of Labor’s Unemployment Office to meet the demands of citizens" with the promise of more, "on the Executive branch's actions" by the end of the week.

Parade of dollars

We note that the evergreen anti-government theme slides into Available money with surprising ease. The economy, of course, always comes first. Then some unfocused concern trolling about Idaho Broadband, and on to Responsible Government, illustrated with a pile of burning debris from some locale not in Idaho. Let us begin with defining some terms: "Responsible government is a blessing and a benefit to its citizens. Irresponsible or oppressive government is not."

Watch out for bloating and gas, demand accountability, and "citizens must identify and remove bad or dangerous behaving government employees to ensure responsibility and accountability at all levels." Dangerous behaving.

"Law enforcement departments around the country are tasked with handling and defusing dangerous and demanding circumstances in high profile environments. These situations can lead to isolated incidents of abuse of power. But is that reason to abolish police departments completely? Can you imagine if we used this same principle in our state government? Our federal government? Our schools? Our hospitals? Our military?

"The call to defund the police reminds me of a tactic that is used in society against populations, to shift the range of ideas the public is willing to accept. It involves asking for something extreme and unthinkable, wait until there is public outcry and chaos to the absurd notion, and then settle for what is really desired. It has worked well on unsuspecting populations.

"So, what is the real agenda here? It’s unclear, but we do know that nationalization of police forces around the country has been a goal of globalists for many decades...."

What a great segue. I don't know what's going on here, so let me trot out my favorite bogeyman. NATIONALIZED POLICE! As if... anybody is calling for that? She might have considered what the people who are saying "DEFUND POLICE" say they mean by that, but that would be too easy. Or just look it up on Wikipedia, at least, if she's worried about George Soros cookies from having a look at Tessa Stuart's piece for Rolling Stone.

She could even spin a conspiracy theory or two of real stuff, such as the time when her party's leader was calling for 10,000 active-duty troops to be deployed in the homeland, earlier this month. Somehow, she's remarkably circumspect about the most egregious dangerous behaving government employee on the current scene, one who has definitely earned removal. (I don't remember her lamenting the US Senate GOP falling down on that job, either.)

Give her credit for occupying her own special epistemic redoubt on the j-axis of the political spectrum.

16.June 2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Challenges of contact tracing Covid-19 Permalink to this item

The Health Care Blog authors break it down by its ten unique challenges, not least of which is #3: We Lack Scientific Understanding of COVID-19. As Nicholas Kristof observed:

"[N]onexperts are supremely confident in their predictions, while epidemiologists keep telling me that they don't really know much at all."

#TestAndTrace data, as of 5/31/2020

Dunning-Kruger and malignant sociopathy are an especially powerful combination. Scientific advancement depends on understanding ignorance; knowing what you don't know is of the essence. Confidence in ignorance is a bulwark against learning. Will Rogers boiled it down for us, long before most of us were born:

"It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so."

It spoils the pithy humor to point out that of course, what we don't know can certainly hurt us. In particular, you can be presymptomatic (or asymptomatic) and spread Covid-19. The current estimates from the CDC are that 40% of coronavirus transmission is occurring before people feel sick and that 35% of people infected with coronavirus don't have symptoms. Unique challenges #4 and #5.

In order to make contact tracing useful, testing has to be available, which requires new, extensive funding. (Here's good news: the handful of $billions needed are about in the rounding error in the many hundreds of $billions being sloshed out of D.C. these days.) The massive support for patients that follows the tracing and testing is a heavier lift. Still, $4.5 billion for “voluntary self-isolation facilities utilizing vacant hotels” and $30 billion for “income support for voluntary self-isolation” don't seem like impossibly large numbers these days.

The #TestAndTrace organization, "working to popularize the concept" and help implement it, has a scorecard for states, with a curiously north/south divide in the map as of the end of May. You can look up your state in their data table. The need is estimated based on the number of positive cases per day, and Idaho is still ahead of the curve in that. Other states are crazy behind the curve. Florida: needs 9,000, has 1,500, plans for 1,000. Arizona has 100, plans 500, needs 6,500. Alabama has 120, plans 200, needs 4,000. Those states are "planning" to meet 11%, 8%, 5% of their apparent need. (Unlike some of our states, #TestAndTrace is clearly a learning organization; I spotted a couple errors in their tabulation, and an obvious link on the paget for how to notify them. They have columns in the data for where they got their data, and their confidence in the source.)

The last of the Health Care Blog challenges is the big one: the fragmented and inconsistent federal response, as the misled executive branch avoids a centralized role in the Covid-19 response, and contributes to tens of thousands of unneeded deaths. We're Number One in cases (2.1 million), and deaths (116,341). The president is desperate to deflect criticism and assign blame. The rest of the world used to look to us for leadership. Now they look at our collapse with justified horror.

14.June 2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Our slippery slope Permalink to this item

Here we are with the POTUS top of the news for his performance at West Point yesterday. It could be the bone spurs acting up again, although he did not use them as an excuse when he responded to observers who had many questions, and to be fair, were not posing them in a kindly way.

He responded to his critics. On Twitter. I'd embed the tweet, but it's hard to believe he'll keep it up on his timeline. Here's what he tweeted, and I have to add, I am absolutely not making this up:

"The ramp that I descended after my West Point Commencement speech was very long & steep, had no handrail and, most importantly, was very slippery. The last thing I was going to do is “fall” for the Fake News to have fun with. Final ten feet I ran down to level ground. Momentum!"

Millions of people could see the scene for themselves, and there is pretty much no way not to be alarmed by what you saw. The hashtag #TrumpIsNotWell trended. #RampGate trended as well. And #RampGait. I saw the bits and bobs on Aaron Rupar's thread, the oddly mispronounced words, the drinking of the water, Ulyssius S. Grant, General McGarther, and then the 20 second descent with the military band's tweedling accompaniment. Rupar adds "it was sunny throughout [his] appearance at West Point. If the ramp was indeed 'slippery' it wasn't because of rain. And it certainly didn't appear to be steep."

C-Span, as ever, includes more context, a full two and a half hour video if you the patience for it.

The cadets strode out onto the Plain with masks on, to a snappy snare drum, the band in Plexiglassed cubicles, the announcer voiceover suitable for a commercial production, the Secretary of Defense oddly out of synch, and the seats very widely spaced. Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney voiced over from "my backyard" and said "we need leaders now more than ever" and ain't that the truth!

Duty, Honor, Country. Decency. Integrity. The introductory recorded exhortations ended with one mentioning the challenge of the pandemic, of course, "and the outrage being expressed over the killing of George Floyd. All of us share in that outrage."

"Prepare to be better than we were at all your responsibilities."

"Sound attention!" (It's sounded.) "Class, attention!" The command "Class, attention!" command relayed, and they all waited in the sun as the president took his sweet time making his way to the stage. A 21 gun salute, and its 21 echoes took up some of the time. Casually taking a look at some helicopters. Taking his time. Comfortable walking on flat ground. Every single cadet at attention holding their perfect salute. The President of the US Military Academy salutes them, and the Commander in Chief, following Ronald Reagan's lead does too. Hail to the Chief struck up as Trump ascends the ramp, easily enough.

They segue to our National Anthem, and Trump again salutes. One fellow at the side with a blue tie, doesn't put his hand on his heart. What's he doing there? I note that the "United States Military Academy WEST POINT" banner has a ® symbol. Don't you be copying that banner.

"Uncover heads. Un. Cover." For the religious invocation to the "All Seeing God." Col. Fr. Matthew Pawlikowski delivers it in rhyme. "Make us instruments of your peace... Where there is darkness, let us bring light."

"Take. Seats."

View of the Plain via C-Span

A big musical number, overloaded orchestration of "Tis a Gift to Be Simple," ever unironically, with narrated exhortations. There is no general audience to applaud the performance, as they segue into Toby Keith's "American Soldier," a patriotic country tear-jerker. The C-Span mobile videographer found a nice low-angle with a flag in the background. The men (they are all men?) on the dias applaud. They are the only live audience, it seems. Friends and family are watching remotely, with the rest of us.

One of the three women from the quartet breaks into "America" with lower voices accompanying her, and we are reminded how much better that would be as our anthem. We come to the president's remarks, delivered from his private, center podium, off of a TelePrompTer.

"Everyone have a good time, enjoy yourselves, because we are here to celebrate your achievements, and great achievements they are." Not your usual angle for a commencement speech, but sure. He likes a parade of superlatives. And the speech that Stephen Miller wrote, I suppose. "Great clouds of smoke, and shrapnel. ... and the mighty forces who sent tyrants, terrorists, and sadistic monsters running scared through the gates of Hell."

He brings up the virus, and the country where it came from, sneering.

Mostly, he did better than expected at reading the speech, claiming us all as exceptional. A nod to "what has historically made American unique," "the durability of its instutitions against the passions and prejudices of the moment." More sneering.

"It was this school that gave us the men and women who fought and won a bloody war to extinguish the evil of slavery within one lifetime of our founding."

Granted, it was two and a half centuries after the start of slavery, a bit more than "one lifetime." And it was more than a century later that the first women were accepted into the Corps of Cadets, overcoming "numerous setbacks, bizarre predicaments, and battl[ing] embarrassment and disrespect," "resentment and chauvinism."

The speech celebrated "courageous, selfless, faithful patriots" who have embodied values that are utterly unembodied in the president and his family. That paragraph wraps up with a blanket absolution to those cadets who "pushed the limits a bit too much" and "who have not finished walking off their hours," for their "minor conduct offenses." That seems more like him.

Then that little sip of water, oddly delivered to himself. He misquotes Grant with an added "never" that doesn't belong. "'If you see the president,' Grant said, 'tell him from me that whatever happens, there will never be no turning back.'"

And then the isolationism policy nugget from shrinking imaginations:

"We are restoring the fundamental principles [sic] that the job of the American solider is not to rebuild foreign nations but defend, and defend strongly our nation from foreign enemies. We are ending the era of endless wars. In its place is a renewed clear-eyed focus on defending America's vital interests. ... We are not the policeman of the world. ...

"My administration has embarked on a colossal rebuilding of the American armed forces. A record like no other. After years of devestating budget cuts and a military that was totally depleted from these endless wars, we have invested over two trillion—trillion, that's with a 't'—dollars in the most powerful fighting force, by far, on the planet earth."

(Naturally, his braggadocio is mostly false, and misleading in its particulars. "Most weapons and infrastructure are the same as they were before Trump took office." Tell him from me that whatever happens, there will never be no turning back.)

He finishes in just under half an hour, and then salutes his way through an hour+ parade of the graduates called out by name (mostly in pairs). 500+ salutes, that could wear out a right arm. For what I watched, he did it smartly, and well. Again, better than expected. Another UN. COVER. for the benediction. A prayer for all in authority. And as if, "under God."

And then that very, very long walk down a short ramp, slippery in at least one man's imagination. After his "10 foot" "run" at the end, back to level ground, he seemed fine.

The strange moments take on outsized importance when isolated; he seemed more or less normal for more or less all of the 2+ hours. But on that slippery slope, those twenty seconds, something was very much amiss.

But that may not be the most disturbing element out of the day. After the entrance theater and the Plain array at possibly safe distancing, after the cadets had put in two weeks of quarantine in preparation for this presidential pageant, all bets—and masks—we're off for the celebration. Hugs and handshakes all around. If there's any coronavirus among this crop of 1,000 2nd Lieutenants—how could there not be?—they'll be taking that home to friends and family.

12.June 2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Advice and consent Permalink to this item

Nobody does "sycophant" quite like Idaho's junior Senator, Jim Risch. Interviewed by Neil Cavuto on Fox News, he starts by complimenting the Treasury Secretary about how he'll get "a chapter" in the book of Covid. And the "tremendous success" of the government intervention he loves to hate, except when it's +rumpian.

Oversight of dispensing $HALF A TRILLION? Hey, it's "de minimus"!

Troops out of Germany?! He'll want to hear some "details" before he agrees to whatever he's told. There is not the vaguest hint that the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations has or will have any role in consultation.

Then, for the police assault on 75 year old Martin Gugino, we get the Sergeant Schultz routine.

"I don't know who the gentleman was, I don't know what he was doing there, I don't know what he had in his hand, uh, I don't know what the rea-, I, uh, y'hope the officers had body cameras on so you can, uh, you, you can see what they were seeing as they approached the individual, there's a long way to go before you make a judgment on that. ..."

Cavuto (who didn't preface his next question with "given that the president is every bit as ignorant of the circumstances as you are") asked "do you think that was responsible [when] we really don't know...?"

Risch weasels right on out of there. Neil should give the president a call himself. "I enjoy his company," Risch adds, very pleased with himself for implying +rump takes his calls, and simultaneously dodging the chuckle-headed idea that he could be baited into saying the least little negative thing about the president.

We totally get that, Jim.

With the split screen showing two dozen riot police dominating a peaceful protester with the utmost compassion.

Fox News screen shot

It was Saturday, June 6 that the two officers at the point of the spear, Aaron Torgalski and Robert McCabe were charged with second-degree assault. Three days later that the President of the United States, in his Twitter capacity, amplified the conspiracy theory from his new favorite propaganda network, the OANN. Narrated by a Russian native who has also worked for Sputnik, no less. ("[H]e fell harder than was pushed," POTWEETOH wrote.)

"I haven't reached a conclusion yet," Risch says.

He may not be a useful idiot, but he sure knows how to play one on TV.

Poor little rich kid Permalink to this item

Heather Cox Richardson's Letters from an American is a daily chronicle of the decline and fall of the Grandiose, Old Party. She does it so well, more blogging from me seems possibly superfluous, but at least I can give her props where due, and recommend you subscribe. Her latest: June 11, 2020.

She writes well, has an eye for the salient details of the day, gets to the point, provides plenty of follow-up links (at the end). In today's yesterday edition, after the market plunge and the General apology, we read of the convention to be split between North Carolina and Florida, with plans to just skip the whole party platform inconvenience. There is no platform anymore; there is only Dear Leader. (I will say, the idea of some of the convention remaining in NC due to contractual obligations seems odd. When has the nation's leading crime family hesitated to renege on a contract?)

The idea of boiling a platform down to "a single note card of bullet points" seems perfectly +rumpian; this is what's left of your old brain on Adderall. That might well come back around. And we'll certainly be seeing more attendee Covid-19 liability waiver agreements such as the one for the Tulsa, Oklahoma Juneteenth rally.

Oversight for disbursement of more than half a $trillion in pandemic "relief"? Sorry, there's a signing statement that says we'll just skip that. What's Congress going to do about it, impeach him? It's so perfectly on-brand, it takes your breath away.

The same way "dominating the streets with compassion" in our Transition to GREATNESS takes your breath away.

It has been pointed out that the scams and phishing that fill your spam bucket on a daily basis are mostly laughably obvious as a way to filter out the less than fully credulous. The laughably obvious elements of the +rump crime family's grifting are not a "bug," they're a feature. The people who are (or who think they can be) in on the grifting are wink, winking and nudge, nudging each other, and cashing the checks for $580,600 per couple, even as IMPOTUS is refighting the Civil War, on the losing side.

It doesn't have to make sense. It just has to make money. For +rump, and his enablers.

10.June 2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Police rioting Permalink to this item

One of my cousins shared a meme on Facebook about George Floyd's rap sheet, right out of the Bob Kroll/Russian troll playbook. In case you don't know that middle name, Minneapolis Police Union President Lt. Bob Kroll, famously appearing in support of our so-called president of "Law and Order," as if NBC's interminable TV series had yet another sequel and we're all living it. This one is uglier than the last half dozen. Or maybe it just is the one said to be "in development," Law & Order: Hate Crimes.

Anyway, I pushed back with some facts about what it meant to amplify such a meme, in a medium that is for me, generally a happy bubble. Other than pointing to a blog post now and again, my Facebook presence is almost entirely personal, about and among people I'm close to, people with similar politics, religion and beliefs as mine. And photography. Political-me is out on Twitter, and here in the blog. My Facebook friends list has always been carefully curated, and the vast majority of my posts are friends-only. I go beyond that in commenting on others posts, of course, and in including family members who don't show me that they're beyond the pale. So we'll see if this particular relationship survives. Maybe I've already been cut off; I didn't see an immediate response (which I dreaded, in any case). (Then I looked through my activity log, and don't see the entry for the comment I posted. Was it deleted? Am I unfriended? No... but his timeline doesn't show anything more recent than January 15 just now. Seems a bit unlikely he thought better of it all and scrubbed out the last 5 months of stuff?! Now downloading my complete Facebook dossier, for reference, and stuff; I've done it two or three times previously. It took almost two hours to assemble, and is now 3½GB. My comment appears gone; swept away with the original post deleted? That would be good.)

This past Sunday's "Review" section of the New York Times teases Jamelle Bouie's op ed with the big question (set in yellow-on-black, à la the paint announcing BLACK LIVES MATTER Plaza): "Why don't the police act as if they're accountable to black Americans?" Because they aren't was my reflex answer. "They were never intended to be" is Bouie's. His headline is more direct than the pulled quote: The Police Are Rioting. We Need to Talk About It. With links from the original, and my emphasis:

"Rioting police have driven vehicles into crowds, reproducing the assault that killed Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. They have surrounded a car, smashed the windows, tazed the occupants and dragged them out onto the ground. Clad in paramilitary gear, they have attacked elderly bystanders, pepper-sprayed cooperative protesters and shot “nonlethal” rounds directly at reporters, causing serious injuries. In Austin, Texas, a 20-year-old man is in critical condition after being shot in the head with a “less-lethal” round. Across the country, rioting police are using tear gas in quantities that threaten the health and safety of demonstrators, especially in the midst of a respiratory disease pandemic.

"None of this quells disorder. Everything from the militaristic posture to the attacks themselves does more to inflame and agitate protesters than it does to calm the situation and bring order to the streets. In effect, rioting police have done as much to stoke unrest and destabilize the situation as those responsible for damaged buildings and burning cars. But where rioting protesters can be held to account for destruction and violence, rioting police have the imprimatur of the state.

"What we’ve seen from rioting police, in other words, is an assertion of power and impunity."

Abetted by a man "who has incited America’s police forces to be even more violent with protesters" and praised and encouraged abuse. Those two links (in Bouie's piece) are +rump classics: summer of 2017, +rump staging—and applauding—himself in front of white-gloved, white police, and now the June 1st Rose Garden speech, given as a mob of police cleared protesters from Lafayette Square to enable BunkerBoy's triumphal arc to St. John's to hold up a Bible. (His Bible? "A Bible.") It was days later than I saw any of the speech, oleaginous with Stephen Miller's fingerprints, delivered with the inimitable police robot styling of our slow reader leader.

The accusation of "domestic terror," the dog whistle to vigilantes to use "your Second Amendment rights," the call to "deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets," and the dictat that "mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled, or else... "I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them." Fortunately, cooler heads in the military quietly (and some not so quietly) vetoed that idea quickly.

If you want to see why +rump hates CNN with the heat of the sun, this three minute description of the June 1 debacle covers it succinctly. That was done just the next day, and it not only stands up well 8 days on, the benefit of more detailed hindsight shows it to be spot-on accurate.

"With the constant sound of helicopter blades overhead and a steady succession of bangs from nearby Lafayette Park, Trump declared himself an "ally of all peaceful protesters."

"But as he was speaking, peaceful protesters were being urgently dispersed outside the White House gates by police using rubber bullets, tear gas and flash bangs..."

Screencap of WCCO video of police rioting against protesters and journalists

A police riot potpourri, black uniforms with white lettering MILITARY POLICE, SECRET SERVICE, plain old POLICE, straight-up punching a photojournalist, and who doesn't love the cavalry scene? CNN's split screen seems over the top, except for the fact that yes, the police were rioting in earshot of the Rose Garden, as our Manchurian president mouthed the accusation, "these are acts of domestic terror."

The Washington Post's detailed timeline leaves little to the imagination. There is Bill Fucking Barr at 6:10 p.m., calling the shots. There's the coordinator of the National Park Police behing told by the Attorney General what he has to do, "hang[ing] his head as though in resignation" and getting a little AG pat on the back to buck up. There are the police starting the riot on schedule just before "your president of law and order" starts his speech. "Intelligence had revealed calls for violence against the police, and officers found caches of glass bottles, baseball bats and metal poles hidden along the street," a statement tells us.

CNN live shot, 6:10pm, June 1, 2020

Hidden along the street. Gosh, with the FBI, Secret Service, Park Police, ATF, DEA, Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Marshals Service, Capitol Police, Department of Homeland Security’s CBP and Border Patrol units, and others all coordinating the preparations, caches of rioter weapons just happened to appear on scene. Thank goodness that the myriad law enforcement agencies there to, uh, protect us all, against all those "professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa, and others."

"Others" keep popping up, don't they?

We might wonder which "others" it was who attacked CNN headquarters in Atlanta on May 29, and why. There were plenty of riots to cover at that point, and Atlanta and CNN didn't get a lot of special attention in the mainstream press, but Townhall, New York Post, Daily Express, RedState, The Blaze (!), and Breitbart are all over the search results, gleefully reporting on the "irony" of CNN being attacked. You think? Looking through the May 29 timeline from the Atlantic Journal Constitution, or CNN's own timeline (click the "Atlanta" tab), there's no evidence of the mob going after CNN in particular, but plenty to make you go "hmm" about how easy it is to provoke a mob. Firecrackers. Setting stuff on fire. Throwing something to break windows.

Step forward to last Sunday's newspaper again, the two-page spread at the jump features Isaac Bailey's op-ed, I'm Finally an Angry Black Man, and Juan Williams, Black Voters Are Coming for Trump. The blurb for Williams, late of NPR and now battling from inside Fox News, mentions his book with the inimitable line from our boogieman: "What the Hell Do You Have to Lose?"

What +rump has to lose is the coming election, and damned if we don't need black people to save our asses right now and help make that happen.

"Black Americans have had enough. They have an explosive, personal investment in defeating Mr. Trump in 2020. More than 80 percent of them [in a January poll said] Mr. Trump is a racist. For them, defeating him is the civil rights movement of 2020."

6.6.2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Symbols of our fascist state Permalink to this item

Or maybe that should be cymbals? Too early for the greatest Fourth of July parade and fireworks the world has ever seen, but here on the anniversary of one of history's greatest comebacks, the Normany landings, 76 years ago today. Back then, just 24,000 American, British, and Canadian airborne troops led the way, onto five beaches covered by gun emplacements, mines, wooden stakes, metal tripods and barbed wire. Reenacting the flight of warplanes from the US was one of the highlights of last year's commemoration. No small matter getting across the Atlantic in those things, refueling in Newfoundland, Greenland, Iceland, Scotland and England to get to France. Not too many of the orignal pilots left at this point.

The headline for today's anniversary is Large Protests Expected as Videos of Police Tactics Amplify Calls for Accountability. And on the op-ed page, Michelle Goldberg has something to say about Tom Cotton's Fascist Op-Ed. As in Senator Tom Cotton, the same one who must have been reliving the past glory of his campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, calling for the 101st Airborne to be deployed against civil unrest in this country. And what the hell, bring in the "10th Mountain, 82nd Airborne, 1st Cav, 3rd Infantry—whatever it takes to restore order. No quarter for insurrectionists, anarchists, rioters, and looters."

"No quarter" would be a war crime, Captain Cotton.

Quite a step for someone who parlayed his 101st Airborne career, accusations of espionage against journalists, and a stint at McKinsey & Company into what passes for a political career these days, backed by the Club for Growth, Sen. John McCain, the TEA Party, and the "GOP establishment." As a Congressman during the Obama administration, he voted against pay increases for federal workers, against Farm Bills, and food stamps, and with then-fellow back-bencher Mike Pompeo, did a little counterintelligence against the JCPoA with Iran.

It could be worse; Cotton has been passed over for Secretary of Defense twice already. Our current SecDef, Mark Esper, warmed the president's* heart on Monday, using gnarly milspeak to opine on domestic affairs in the White House-to-Governors call out the troops! on Monday:

“I think the sooner that you mass and dominate the battlespace, the quicker this dissipates and we can get back to the right normal.”

Trump at St. John's

The right normal. In our battlespace. But then on Wednesday, after being entrained (with Army General Mark Milley) in +rump's triumphal march across Lafayette Square to hold up a Bible at St. John's Episcopal, after peaceful protesters had been dispersed with "less lethal weapons" as we call them now, our Secretary of Defense said "I didn't know where I was going." IMPOTUS was not pleased by that waffling. (Also, it's a great candidate for the new working motto of the cuckolded Republican Party.)

Maybe it's a good thing that Esper is spineless enough to reverse himself on withdrawing active-duty troops from the District of Columbia? That was on Wednesday, too. Congratulations, Mark, you get to keep your job for a few more days!

After supposedly "addressing concerns" about little green men in the nation's capital, "agents" [sic] who "don't wear badges and their names and stuff like that," the not as lily-livered Attorney General William Barr put out a statement expressing his appreciation to "the many federal law enforcement agencies and personnel who helped protect the District, including the FBI, Secret Service, Park Police, ATF, DEA, Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Marshals Service, Capitol Police, Department of Homeland Security’s CBP and Border Patrol units, and others."

Take your pick which of those is most disturbing, even before you start counting the National Guard members in or on the way. (Idaho is sending a rotation.) The Drug Enforcement Agency? The Border Patrol? The Burea of Prisons?! Who is in charge of coordinating the all-hands-on-deck maneuvers? (Whoops, no one from the Navy mentioned. Yet.) "And others." Such as...

Completely unmarked officers in riot gear holding protesters blocks away from the White House. No badges. No insignias. No name tags. Nothing. Refused to tell us who they’re with. #DCprotest #DCprotests pic.twitter.com/c4lFFCsX48

— Ben Davis (@bdaviskc) June 4, 2020

Back when we were invading Normandy to fight fascists instead of being fascists, we had a dancing horse accompanying Roy Rogers singing "Don't Fence Me In" to entertain the troops.

Wildcat Willy, looking mighty pale
Was standing by the Sheriff's side
And when the Sheriff said, "I'm sendin you to jail,"
Wildcat raised his head and cried,
"Oh give me land, lots of land,
under starry skies above,
Don't fence me in..."

From NYT, Sept. 2014

Back when we had a president who was not mentally unstable, and you might have forgotten this incident in the calmer times of 2014, an intruder armed with a knife jumped the existing fence and made it well inside the White House before being subdued. The scandal then was "whether an undisciplined culture inside the long-heralded [Secret Service] has eroded its ability to protect the president and his family."

The response to that incident was to design a 13-foot steel fence with “anticlimb and intrusion detection technology” to replace the historic one about half as tall, and to get around to starting construction almost 5 years later. In the more recent fantasy, a hint of barbarians at the gate brought forth a a tweet (there's always a tweet) about "the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen" waiting for anyone with the temerity to breach +rump's perimeter.

He didn't wait 5 days for an opportunity to Build That Wall! The new, fortified look "increasingly resembles a Washington version of the Green Zone that sheltered American and Iraqi officials in Baghdad."

Update: there's so much more that could have been included, but I'll just add one more item, from Laurence Tribe, this morning:

No badge, no authority! That’s a principle deeply engrained in international as well as domestic law. It’s at the root of the Geneva Conventions’ reduced protection for ununiformed and thus unlawful combatants. Yet Trump and Barr use unidentifiable secret police to control DC.

— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) June 6, 2020

1.June 2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

POTWEETOH in the bunker Permalink to this item

Speaking of carnage, the report from Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman of our incredible shrinking president is a hell of a thing. "Nervous for his safety, Secret Service agents abruptly rushed the president to the underground bunker used in the past during terrorist attacks." As fires were lit (and put out) around the District of Columbia and the city's mayor declared an 11 pm curfew, "the White House turned off at least some of its exterior lights."

Not sure whose photo; I got it from @acnewsitics on Twitter

"Mr. Trump remained cloistered inside, periodically sending out Twitter messages like “LAW & ORDER!” until the evening, when he went quiet..."

"Some officials were urging that Mr. Trump hold events to show black voters enraged over the latest videotaped act of brutality that he heard their views. A group of advisers discussed plans for a series of “listening” events. But others have counseled that the president should take a hard line, not quite as aggressive as his tweets but a message of solidarity to business owners whose property has been destroyed.

"Some in the president’s circle see the escalations as a political boon, much in the way Richard M. Nixon won the presidency on a law-and-order platform after the 1968 riots. One adviser to Mr. Trump, who insisted on anonymity to describe private conversations, said images of widespread destruction could be helpful to the law-and-order message that Mr. Trump has projected since his 2016 campaign."

As in... see, we told you there was carnage! But the idea of a "listening tour" is too absurd to contemplate. +rump? Listening? That's not his thang. Not so good at speaking, either. As Philip Rucker reported,

"Trump and some of his advisers calculated that he should not speak to the nation because he had nothing new to say and had no tangible policy or action to announce yet, according to a senior administration official. Evidently not feeling an urgent motivation Sunday to try to bring people together, he stayed silent.

"Trump let his tweets speak for themselves."

American Carnage Permalink to this item

A million years ago, mid-March, I was only about halfway through Tim Alberta's first draft of history from "the front lines of the Republican civil war and the rise of President Trump," as he explains his book in its subtitle. "American Carnage" is of course the inimitable word pairing featured by Stephen Miller for +rump's inaugural address, encapsulating the then make-believe problems that supposedly +rump alone could fix. "That was some weird shit" is reportedly how George W. Bush summed up the speech that simultaneously kicked off a term of office and a campaign for re-election.

On the day my copy from the Eagle Public Library, forwarded to me by my Boise public library system, was due, the city announced it was closing its libraries and extending all due dates to June 1, in response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. Two and a half months into the future, it seemed like forever. But here we are. Relieved of deadline pressure, and with more than enough to keep me busy, I waited until mid-May to pick it up again. Finished with days to spare, but struggled with how I might summarize it. It's sprawling, for one thing. And history refuses to stand still.

Alberta's date-ordered chapters start with February 2008, a year at a whack at first, and then dilating for the 2016 campaign, the election of you-know-who, the devolution that followed through the midterm reset. His Epilogue gets through Barr's takeover of the DOJ, and the "Complete and Total EXONERATION" of the Mueller report, as the soon-to-be-impeached president styled it.

It's a big enough book as it is, but I hope there's a sequel to try to make sense of this time when the actual carnage fully kicked in. A lot of Alberta's material is familiar to me, but I appreciated the more complete detail than what I noticed as it was whizzing by the first time, as the TEA Party morphed from bad joke, to persistent sabotage, to actual power. "Mick" Mulvaney at the OMB (he's still there, you know) and Chief of Staff, Mike Effing Pompeo as Secretary of State.

Idaho's Raúl Labrador rises to 18 entries in the index, and fizzles without getting into the cabinet. Credit his naïve idealism for something, I guess. Helping get rid of Boehner, and "purifying" the party enough for +rump to hijack it. Sort of a Bizarro John the Baptist role for him. I guess he did better than Liz Cheney, with only one brief mention, and miscasting her as "the new Congresswoman from Montana." (I'm sure there must be other corrections needed, but that one gaffe was the only one that jumped out at me.)

Update: I see the Boise Public Library! facilities are still closed to the public, and due dates extended again, to June 17. But book returns are open though, and curbside pickup available. Out with the done, and time to finish Malcolm Gladwell's Outlier.

Spam-o-Rama Permalink to this item

Richard Viguerie
It's Not A Protest, It's Not a Riot,...

Mitch McConnell (iPhone)
HOURS LEFT: This is it

Final Notice via NRSC
You're putting the Majority at risk

Tom Cotton
Our future is at stake

Sarah Huckabee Sand.
This can't wait - please read now

Conservative HQ
PUNISH CHINA for sending us C...

Mitch McConnell
I will be blunt with you...

Tom Cotton
Every moment we wait, we waste

Brad Parscale
It's up to YOU

The last one caught my eye, in part because I was seeing it along with the opening snippet of the body "Our GREAT President asked me to reach out to his top supporters today t..." it begins.

Inside, I see it's from the washingtonguardian.org, obviously a house of ill-repute. But there's no pandemic or carnage inside, just a straight-up pitch from... MCCONNELL SENATE COMMITTEE out of Louisville, Kentucky, "to PROTECT our Senate Majority this fall." I'm supposed to be ever-so PROUD and GREAT AGAIN and thrilled to send money by MIDNIGHT.

I'll be go to hell.

raveling

Tom von Alten
ISSN 1534-0007