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unraveling

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

This is how much your vote frightens them Permalink to this item

One hell of a story for the next edition of the New York Times Magazine: THE ATTACK ON VOTING: How President Trump’s false claim of voter fraud is being used to disenfranchise Americans. It features a familiar cast of monkey-wrenchers, and a few names new to me. James O’Keefe III! Roger Stone! Hans von Spakovsky! John G. Roberts Jr.! Kris Kobach! Steve Bannon! The Mercers! Peter Schweizer! Mark Paoletta, Pence’s chief counsel, is new to me. Helped run the opposition-research effort against Anita Hill, and stuff.

The "Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity," with Kris Kobach as chairman, was set to cook up all sorts of allegations of fraud in sections and subcategories set in advance. As the token Democrats added to the commission smelled the rats, and started exposing them, it was abruptly shut down and moved to... the Department of Homeland Security. Still being run by illegally-acting Chad Wolf.

“We still have the opportunity to convert pushback into official confusion to justify our call for top-down overhaul,” [Public Interest Legal Foundation spokesman Logan] Churchwell wrote to Adams. “The fog of war favors the aggressor here.” Von Spakovsy is on the PILF board. These agressors running a war on American voters keep losing in court, but they don't care about that. Time is of the essence. A court case some time in the future won't matter in November, December and January. It's the fog of war they're after, and they're manufacturing it to order.

"The 2018 midterm elections did see one bona fide large-scale ballot-fraud effort. A political operative in North Carolina ran a complicated scheme in which he requested hundreds of ballots on behalf of unwitting voters and then intercepted them and filled them out for the candidate he was working for: the Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris. Election officials spotted the suspicious activity shortly after the vote, refused to certify the results and conducted a new election. Trump never posted on Twitter about this rare actual instance of fraud."

Last but not least, Attorney General William "Jabba the" Barr, who went on CNN on September 2nd and "issued a series of patently false statements about voting." Our highest law enforcement officer, in the most Orwellian sense. Telling a totally fake story about 1,700 fraudulent ballots in Texas.

Barr’s mendacity during the Blitzer interview made a lot of news. But there was something else Barr said that much of the coverage missed. Blitzer asked Barr if the president could legally make good on his recent threat to send “sheriffs, law enforcement and U.S. attorneys” to polling stations on Election Day. Barr answered, “If there was a specific investigative danger that we detected some problem and risk — yes.”

He had, of course, just enumerated several “investigative dangers.”

"Some problem and risk," and the GOP has been making up stories about those very things for 20 years, and 20 years before that.

"The strategy was now in full view: Flood every state, every television news network, every newspaper and news feed with manufactured evidence of fraud to suppress Democratic votes before Election Day — and to knock them out of state-by-state tallies in the courts and counting rooms afterward."

Manufacturing jobs facts Permalink to this item

A Daniel Dale fact check of one of +rump's false claims last night: He said he "brought back 700,000 manufacturing jobs."

"Through August, it’s a net *loss* of 237,000 manufacturing jobs. Through February, before the pandemic crash, it was a gain of 483,000, so “700,000” would still be a big exaggeration."

His tweet links to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Economic Research (love their acronym, "FRED"), and its time series of US employment in manufacturing for the last eight decades. That's from the eve of WWII, when employment was climbing up from 9 million to peak at 16.6 million in November, 1943, retreating to 12 million after we'd won the war, and then building up to the all-time high of 19.5 million in June 1979. Over the course of my 17 years in manufacturing and product development (1983-1999), it whoop-de-did between 16.7 and 18M jobs, ending the last century slipping to 17.2 million.

During the last year of Clinton's presidency, and George W. Bush's two terms, ending with the Great Recession spilling into Obama's first term, we lost a full third of that employment in manufacturing. From the nadir of 11.5M in early 2010, the steady, but slow recovery brought back fewer than a million by January 2017. From there to the peak a year ago, another half million.

The shutdown from the pandemic erased the gains of a decade in the space of one month. What's been recovered since has us back to where we were 6½ years ago. Preliminary reporting for September shows a good uptick, 130k in manufacturing, which would put us not quite to where we were when +rump took office.

FRED 80y manufacturing jobs time series

"You'd be surprised" Permalink to this item

Are there any surprises left? More than a few commentators had some version of "oh my god, that was worse than I imagined it could be" after last night's debacle. I was part of the sizeable "I can not even watch this" demographic, and left the room; Jeanette was able to remain emotionally attached and pay attention to what was going on, how Biden managed to keep his cool, mostly, address the audience, address the issues, point out the record of failure that the first term of President Psychopath has visited upon us.

"Where others might leave, I leaned in. Joe did fine. Overcame a slight stutter a couple of times. Looked straight at all of us and soldiered through his plans. Joe worked his way through a disability to become a leader and a doer. Don blustered and bullied his way through an enormous inheritance. Which can take us where we need to go as a nation?

Speaking of bluster and blunder, the $413 million inheritance built on "dubious tax schemes," and "outright fraud" was the subject of the New York Times' detailed reporting two years ago. "The Times documented 295 distinct streams of revenue Fred Trump created over five decades to channel wealth to his son" as part of that reporting. It's such a rich vein of malfeasance, Kenneth W. Boyd has made it an object lesson for the CPA Accounting Institute for Success: Tax Fraud by the Numbers. Gift tax fraud. Appraisal fraud. Securities fraud. Loan fraud. Expense reports fraud. Estate tax fraud. "I've been treated so unfairly," Don the Con likes to say. He really has. Fair treatment would have had him in prison a long time ago.

Trying to blunt this year's blockbuster exposé at our podium in the White House, Mr. Accordion Hands was pumping for all he's worth. "Totally fake news," he likes to say, dismissing thousands of hours of reporting in a facile motto. Do you find this convincing?

"And you'll see that as soon as my tax returns – it's it's under audit. They've been under audit for a long time. The IRS does not treat me well. They treat me like the Tea Party, like they treated the Tea Party. And they don't treat me well. They treat me very badly. Ah, you have people in the IRS, they're very, they treat me very, very badly. But they're under audit, and when they're not, I would be proud to show it."

You'll see. Any day now. He's paid "millions and millions" he kept saying last night when asked the most direct question by moderator Chris Wallace. Somewhere. Sometime. You'll see.

Before I'd left the room, I noted the psychopath's advantage: if you don't care about other human beings, rules, integrity, truth, you just talk over everyone. (It was more than that, of course: it was a deliberate, calculated attempt to trigger Biden, to confuse him, to keep him from using the "debate" as a serious opportunity to compare the candidates and their agendas.

Wallace: "...Let him speak."
Biden: "He doesn't know how to do that."
+rump: "You'd be surprised."

We'd be surprised to learn that +rump does know how to let someone else speak? It's the future imperfect plu-subjunctive.

There are no more surprises. Just the psychopath.

As usual, Heather Cox Richardson took the trouble to analyze what just happened, and deliver a comprehensive letter before sunrise.

The first presidential debate of 2020 was unlike anything we have seen before. CNN’s Jake Tapper said: "That was a hot mess, inside a dumpster fire, inside a train wreck." "He was his own tweets come to life." “We’ll talk about who won the debate, who lost the debate ... One thing for sure, the American people lost.” Conservative pundit William Kristol called it “a spectacle… an embarrassment… a disgrace… because of the behavior of one man, Donald Trump. The interrupting and the bullying, the absence of both decency and dignity—those were Donald Trump’s distinctive contributions to the evening, and they gave the affair the rare and sickening character of a national humiliation.”

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

Today's stand-in for John Wilkes Booth is the Proud Boys, a neo-fascist domestic terrorist organization that, like our current president, started as a joke. When Biden said their name as a specific example of the "white supremacists and militia groups" Wallace asked +rump if he would condemn and tell to stand down, President Psychopath said "Stand back and stand by." That chilling tell of what he is about, not a surprise. HCR:

"It was a performance designed to show a strong man who is calling out his armed supporters to enable him to seize an election he cannot win freely.

But Trump performed as he did because it’s all he’s got. He has no policies, no platform, no plans that he can sell to the American people, and no attention span either to govern or to explain how he wants to govern. So his only option is to dominate. Even he knows that ploy is a desperate one. Tonight’s tell was actually in his dominance play itself: overt bullying like he displayed tonight is actually a sign of weakness and abuse, not of true power.

29.Sept.2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Malpractice Permalink to this item

You've heard of the basic principle derived from the Hippocratic Oath: Primum Non Nocere (First, do no harm)? If not, here's an open letter from ONE HUNDRED SIX infectious disease physicians and researchers, microbiologists, immunologists, epidemiologists and health policy leaders at Stanford Medicine to inform you.

Their reason for writing is to call out the "falsehoods and misrepresentations of science fostered by Dr. Scott Atlas, a former Stanford Medical School colleague and current senior fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University." Also, a talking head for a disreputable "news" and opinion channel (which dovetails with one's work as a Hoover Fellow). Also, now acting as a shill for the president, to "undermine public-health authorities and the credible science that guides effective public health policy."

"Failure to follow the science—or deliberately misrepresenting the science—will lead to immense avoidable harm."

Atlas' specialty before he left the Stanford University Medical Center eight years ago and joined the commentariat gravy train was neuroradiology. His considered opinon is, in essence, that we need to get more children and young people infected with SARS-CoV-2 so we can get past the pandemic. Get those kids back in school! Playing sports! Herd immunity! The Party of Life!

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield was overheard talking on the phone on a plane ride saying "everything he says is false," confirmed the "he" in that was Scott Atlas. Dr. Anthony Fauci, god love him, told CNN "he was concerned that Atlas was at times providing misleading or incorrect information on the pandemic to" the president. Or is he amplifying the bees already inside +rump's head? From The Guardian:

"Atlas has misleadingly called into question the efficacy of masks and social distancing, has echoed Trump’s call for reopening schools, and perhaps most controversially has supported the purposeful contraction of the virus by young people to create so-called “herd immunity.”

The world-beating mismanagement of the pandemic in this country has already contributed to more than 200,000 deaths. How many more Americans have to die for to fill the bottomless pit of +rump's insatiable psychopathy?

The Stanford Daily covered the academic brawl ten days ago (along with an iconic image of HooTow) as Scott Atlas' lawyer shook his fist at the sky:

Atlas’ attorney Marc Kasowitz warned in his Wednesday letter to the signatories that “[Y]our letter, which you wrote and sent with no regard for the truth, maliciously defames Dr. Atlas” and demanded that “you immediately issue a press release withdrawing your letter and that you contact every media outlet worldwide that has reported on it to request an immediate correction of the record.” Kasowitz gave the signatories until Friday to retract their claims or face legal action.

Worldwide! By Friday! Four days ago. Which they didn't do all that. Also, Marc Kasowitz seems like a familiar name... He did a stint as "personal outside attorney" for Dear Leader and counts Russian Oleg Deripaska among his clients. That's nice. Counsel for the Stanford faculty members did provide the courtesty of a reply:

“If [Atlas] cannot tolerate science-based criticism of his opinions and statements concerning this public health crisis, then he has no business advising anybody, let alone the President of the United States.”

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

The Tax Man Cometh Permalink to this item

That old joke about scientists finally decoding the language of cats: It turns out, everything they say translates to "all this is mine." In 2018, Michael Lewis' book, The Fifth Risk documented various ways that the new president's transition to power threatened to deconstruct, disable and ultimately destroy the competence of our federal government. Between the dedication and the table of contents, Lewis reproduced a tweet from mid-November, 2016:

Very organized process taking place as I decide on Cabinet and many other positions. I am the only one who knows who the finalists are!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 16, 2016

His homage to his greatest hit, The Apprentice, playing to a mass audience while his convention finale, "I alone can fix it" still occupied the imagination of his base. Even two years later, and with benefit of Lewis' detailed account, a "#1 Hall of Fame Top 10 Reviewer" on Amazon could still write, with a straight face, "If President Trump read only the first 25 pages, with an open mind, I believe he actually would try to turn things around."

Lewis starts with Chris Christie, earlier in 2016, a few months after he'd dropped out of the race, when the remaining candidates sent representatives to Obama's White House to begin the preparation to run the federal government.

"The guy Trump sent to the meeting was, in Christie's estimation, comically underqualified. Christie called up Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, to ask why this critical job hadn't been handed to someone who actually knew something about government. 'We don't have anyone,' said Lewandowski.

"Christie volunteered himself for the job: head of the Donald Trump presidential transition team. 'It's the next best thing to being president,' he told his friends. 'You get to plan the presidency.' He wet to see Trump about it. Trump said he didn't want a presidential transition team. Why did anyone need to plan anything before he actually became president? It's legally required, said Christie. Trump asked where the money was going to come from to pay the transition team. Christie explained that Trump could either pay for it himself or take it out of campaign funds. Trump didn't want to pay for it himself. He didn't want to take it out of campaign funds, either, but he agreed, grudgingly, that Christie should go ahead and raise a separate fund to pay for his transition team. 'But not too much!' he said."

That was in late April, when +rump actually becoming president was utterly implausible to most of us, and you could sort of understand why a miser wouldn't want to waste his own money on a hypothetical. His own campaign money, was of course the same to him as his own money. But Christie set about the job, and after +rump became the Republican nominee, "went looking for people to occupy the top five hundred jobs in the federal government."

Until the candidate read about what was going on with Christie, who was answering to an "executive committee" comprising Jared Kushner, Ivanka, Donald Jr., Eric, Paul Manafort, Steve Mnuchin, and Jeff Sessions. Raised several million dollars, whaaa? He called for his Bannon, who

"stepped off the elevator to find the governor of New Jersey seated on a sofa, being hollered at. Trump was apoplectic, actually yelling. You're stealing my money! You're stealing my fucking money! What the fuck is this?? Seeing Bannon, Trump turned on him and screamed Why are you letting him steal my fucking money? Bannon and Christie set out to explain to Trump federal law..."

That "executive committee"! It's the Trump Crime Family Next Generation, and a couple of outside directors, one on his way to the crossbar hotel, another to be put in charge of the Treasury, and another the Department of Justice. How perfectly cozy. It took some doing, but after a thousand tweets from David Corn, the stage was set for the first salvo from the New York Times, and buckle up for "additional articles about our findings in the weeks ahead."

NYT web front page today

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

The law and its asses Permalink to this item

Today's NYT headline featured DASH TO VOTE because what could be more appropriate for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land than a mad DASH while an impeached and increasingly lawless president works to subvert an election? There's work to be done, people!

When Amy Coney Barrett was the "likely" pick two days ago, David Sirota and Andrew Perez noted this fun fact: she was part of the legal team working on Bush v. Gore in 2000. Confirmation would make her the third justice on the court to have worked on the case "that handed the 2000 election to the GOP," and "the second installed on the court by +rump." (She offered it up to the Senate Judiciary Committee 3 years ago as "one significant case" she worked on, supporting her nomination to the Seventh Circuit, even though

She declined to detail the scope of her work on the case and for other clients at the firm, saying: “I no longer have records of the matters upon which I worked.”

That short item on the Daily Poster notes "She said she worked on the case with the law firm Baker Botts while it was in Florida courts." (Her questionnaire responses to the Senate at the time noted that she worked for Miller, Cassidy, Larroca & Lewis, LLP, which merged with Baker Botts on Jan. 1, 2001, but OK, they were working together.)

May, 2018 photo, D.C.

That firm's name rang a bell for me. In 2018, I was in the middle of the biggest legal case of my engineering career, working as an expert witness, and Baker Botts was the opposing counsel. I was called to Washington to answer off-book questions about work that I'd done 20 years before, in a (not to exceed) 7-hour, on-camera deposition. (As usual, I finished the test early, and was out on the street, mid-afternoon. I did bill 8.0 hours on the day, getting through a review of the first 164 pages of the rush transcript before bedtime.) The BB lawyers did their best to trip me up, capitalize on any error in minutiae they could find. Nothing personal, of course.

Their case was garbage, in my professional opinion, but with a large enough team of lawyers, the outcome is never certain. That's a story for another day.

The 2000 election was in the middle of a decade-long spell with no SCOTUS appointments, and 4½ years before John Roberts was nominated to be Chief Justice. He was part of the story, behind the scenes:

...Roberts counseled then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush during that election, according to emails. The Los Angeles Times reported that Roberts “traveled to Tallahassee, the state capital, to dispense legal advice” and “operated in the shadows at least some of those 37 days” that decided the election. Roberts has a long record of working to limit voting rights.

It is a similar story for Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The Miami Herald reported that during the Florida standoff, “Kavanaugh joined Bush’s legal team, which was trying to stop the ballot recount in the state.” Kavanaugh appeared on national television to push for the ruling that halted the statewide recount and handed Bush the presidency.

"Get rid of the ballots and you'll have a very peaceful—there won't be a transfer frankly. They'll be a continuation."
Donald J. +rump

That same effort that featured monkey-wrenching by Roger Stone and Matt Schlapp. It was all hands on deck back then, and if our thieving gaslighter-in-chief has his way, they'll be joining forces to "get rid of the ballots" once again. With a minimum of a quarter and possibly a third of the SCOTUS pre-bagged. Most especially, the Chief Justice, who has made a crusade against voting rights a significant part of his life's work.

"On the basic question of who is allowed to vote and which ballots will be counted, the most important issue in any democracy, Roberts is still the same man who tried and failed to strangle the Voting Rights Act nearly four decades earlier."

Five presidents put their signatures on the Voting Rights Act over the years, four of them Republicans after Lyndon Johnson's original, until the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder case drove a stake through its heart. Amy Coney Barrett's mentor, Antonin Scalia claimed the VRA was a "perpetuation of racial entitlement," no less. And, as Ian Millhiser put it for Vox this month, "Roberts’s majority opinion in Shelby County posits that the United States simply isn’t racist enough to justify a fully operational Voting Rights Act."

North Carolina’s GOP-controlled legislature was chomping at the bit for that decision; they cooked up an omnibus bill timed to come out just after it, that targeted “African Americans with almost surgical precision,” the appeals court striking it down noted. Roberts and his fellow conservatives on the high court failed to overturn that decision, hoist on a 4-4 deadlock with Scalia's seat open after his death.

This time around, Roberts could lead a 5-3 majority, even without Coney Barrett. With a third of the court packed by +rump, it's poised for judicial activism that would make Ronald Reagan blush.

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

All the Honorables Permalink to this item

Flying under the hooves of an amateurish colonial rider, flapping a banner "New Democrats are anti-God Marxists," Richard Viguerie's ConservativeHQ is featuring the "over 100 conservatives condemn[ing] attacks on the religious faith of Judge Amy Coney Barrett."

Without irony, of course.

FedUpPAC's CPR Rider

That sketchy cartoon is the "Conservative Paul Revere (CPR) Rider" of Viguerie's political action committee, "a Paul Revere type army" [sic] of a million volunteers spreading his garbage "that bypasses the biased media to educate their family, friends, neighbors and others... that the New Democrats are Mean, Evil, Violent Anti-God, Elitist Marxists." Sic, sic, sic.

Viguerie loves print, and top billing among his PAC's offerings include "Pocket BRANDING Cards" bulleting that "Democrats are Anti-Catholic" which is so weird, because their nominee for president (once again) is a Catholic.

Anyway, the gathered conservatives condemn the attacks on all potential nominees (of the current president), but especially the ones on Coney Barrett, a front runner among the gender-tested probables for tomorrow's big reveal. "The Constitution mandates that there is no religious test to hold public office, and we reject the so-called “critiques” of Barrett’s faith which merely act as a guise under which that test is applied," they declare.

The first presidential campaign to hit my awareness was Kennedy v. Nixon in 1960, when there was some question in the air about whether a Catholic could be President, given that they all answer to the Pope, and stuff. Needless to say, conservatives were in the anti-Catholic vanguard back then, and not for the first time. In 1928, Quaker Herbert Hoover beat Catholic Al Smith. Today's CHQ can't hold a candle to John Higham's description of anti-Catholicism as "the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of paranoiac agitation in American history," but they're in the running in the paranoiac agitation category.

And I'm reminded of George Herbert Walker Bush's infamous patrician sniff when he was running for president in 1988. "I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God," he said.

That was the same year that the cloud of scandals surrounding Edwin Meese III finally caught up with him and forced his resignation from Attorney General, after several top Justice Department officials had resigned in protest. Says here the official report of the scandal that brought him down is "still confidential." More than 3 decades on. That's some special privilege, isn't it? All the while since, he's been in the "Ronald Reagan Chair" at the Heritage Foundation, that's nice.) In his dotage, Ronald Reagan himself quipped that "If Ed Meese is not a good man, there are no good men" a syllogism that might not mean what he imagined it did.

While we're handing out awards, the Republican National Lawyers Association gives out the "Edwin Meese Award" every year, to the likes of Senator Lindsey Graham, John Ashcroft, Don McGahn, C. Boyden Gray, Michael Mukasey, and a year ago, the inestimable Donald +rump draped Meese with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, what used to be known as the highest civilian honor in the United States.

Seeing the first four signers of this Conservative Action Project letter denoted "The Honorable," and that they were Meese, Matt Schlapp(!), J. Kenneth Blackwell(?), and CHQ's managing editor George K. Rasley Jr. piqued my curiosity about the honorific. There is a fairly ridiculous catalog of who all can claim it, for life if they want, because who's going to say they can't? Scott Walker, once a county executive with big ambition, then an awful governor of Wisconsin, and now CEO of "Young America's Foundation" way past his sell-by date is "The Honorable." Tony Perkins of the "Family Research Council," who has a list of religions he can't abide. Gary L. Bauer, late of the FRC and "Focus on the Family" and now running "American Values."

Don't cry for Amy Coney Barrett, though: if she's +rump's pick, the Republicans in the Senate have already signaled they're prepared to push her through, the same way they did Brett Kavanaugh, and the same way they rubber-stamped the Don "not guilty" of what everyone could see he was too guilty of. Anybody +rump picks is fine with them!

In the meantime, we can appreciate the list of organizations looking to curry a little Catholic favor out of this performance art. Club for Growth; Let Freedom Ring, Inc.; Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform; Bob Jones University; Less Government; Faith Wins; Tradition, Family, Property, Inc.; Beaman Automotive Group; Tea Party Patriots Action, and their Citizen Fund; Tea Party Nation; FreedomWorks; Judicial Watch, Inc.; Universal Minerals Group; Phyllis Schlafly Eagles.

P.S. There is no link to the CHQ the forgoing. You can find them if you want to, and I don't mind getting their emailed daily screeds to keep an eye on them, but I limit my intake, and don't care to advertise for them, beyond occasional commentary.

P.P.S. CHQ is also featuring an unsigned opinion (from Viguerie, I think) that +rump should keep the SCOTUS seat open through the election, as a more advantageous tactic "for America" (yeah, right), "Republicans, your MAGA base, and your re-election." Go figure.

24.Sept.2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Meanwhile, back in the pandemic Permalink to this item

Two things from the NYT Covid-19 updates: Infected young people begin waves of the virus that sicken older people, CDC report says, and the guy whose mismanagement has led to most of the 200,000+ deaths in this country complains that the Food and Drug Adminstration updating guidelines for approving a vaccine "sounds like a political move."

Through the summer, Covid-19's spread was highest among the 20-29 age group, accounting for 20% of confirmed cases, and "seed[ing] waves of new infections among the middle-aged, and then in older Americans." College campuses a particular threat: NYT's database has "more than 88,000 coronavirus infections reported on nearly 1,200 campuses as of early September." Dr. Fauci said don't send them home; "accommodate [them] in a facility, maybe a separate dorm or a separate floor so they don’t spread among the student body. But do not send them home to their community because of the likelihood of them bringing infection in the community."

1,200 campuses corralling college students against their will? With no legal basis? And no societal norm to do the right thing, rather than YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF ME? Gee, what could go wrong?

The nationwide interactive tends to be a little overwhelming, but the big picture is that the infection has moved from the coasts to the heartland now, and plenty of red states are getting hit. The Dakotas lead the "last 7 days" rate chart, at 347 and 265 per hundred thousand. For total cases, Louisiana (3,525/100k), Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Iowa, Texas, Arkansas, North Dakota and Nevada (2,497) are all head of New York (2,347). Idaho still makes the "where new cases are higher and staying high" round-up of 19 states.

NYT infographic, 2020-09-24

Speaking of politically-driven mental illness, people pay attention to the Man Who Knows So Little. From May to September, Pew Research reports that "Would/Would not get the vaccine" went from 72/27% in May to 51/49% in September.

Our idiot king, desperate for "like a miracle, it just goes away," and then rolling out an October surprise vaccine, has managed to sow a whirlwind of doubt over what we once thought would save us. And because our political polarization is behind every story now, we divide the sample by red, and blue. Republicans were more skeptical back in May, but 65/34 "definitely" or "probably"; now a majority (56%) say definitely or probably not.

For me, it'll depend on the when, and data demonstrating that the trials have shown safety and efficacy. October? No way.

This is how democracy dies Permalink to this item

Godwin's Law? Overblown hyperbole? It seems less so every day. Having perceptive observers previewing it, chronicaling it weekly, and daily is cold comfort. But what we saw yesterday. My god. I haven't seen Barton Gellman's piece in The Atlantic yet, "detailing the method by which the Trump campaign is planning to steal the 2020 election," but I did see the clip of the Q&A in the White House briefing room, in which

a reporter this afternoon asked Trump if he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election. "Well, we’re going to have to see what happens," Trump said. "You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster." He went on to say:"Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very — we’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer frankly, there’ll be a continuation."

"Another watershed moment," HCR notes. "Another watershed event is the fact that Republicans are not condemning it." (Mitt Romney said something. "Both unthinkable and unacceptable." But you see there, Donald +rump is not only thinking it, he's saying it out loud. To the press.)

Cox Richardson notes the "tells" in our demented dictator's performance: the headline the gasbag is trying to swamp is that 58% of Americans do not approve of the way +rump is doing his job. "Voters see Biden as more honest, intelligent, caring, and level-headed than Trump. They think Biden is a better leader." Lest we forget, "the Republicans didn’t bother to write a platform this year, simply saying they supported Trump, but Trump has not been able to articulate why he wants a second term."

I can think of reasons he might have. Staying out of jail. Continuing to shake down middle eastern autocracies for rent money. Maybe there's finally going to be a hotel deal in Moscow for him? #TrumpCrimeFamily, the Next Generation will certainly want to keep the game going, but it's not like the Don is thinking about his offspring. There is only me, me, me in his life. And people who will do his bidding.

The president’s antics also overshadow the reality that many prominent Republicans are abandoning him. Yesterday, Arizona Senator John McCain’s widow Cindy endorsed Biden. “My husband John lived by a code: country first. We are Republicans, yes, but Americans foremost. There's only one candidate in this race who stands up for our values as a nation, and that is [Biden].” She added “Joe… is a good and honest man. He will lead us with dignity. He will be a commander in chief that the finest fighting force in the history of the world can depend on, because he knows what it is like to send a child off to fight."

Jan. 2001 photo

And to take the focus off of the hypocritical U-turn the Senate GOP took to get one more reactionary SCOTUS justice implanted quick as a wink. Here's a fun poll-fact from HCR: "Sixty-two percent of Americans, including 50% of Republicans, think the next president should name Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement."

"We must be prepared for chaos surrounding this election," she concludes, "but the future remains unwritten." I remember the shock and awe when that Brooks Brothers riot happened 20 years ago (unaware at the time that it was organized by Roger Stone, and with Matt Schlapp the on-site leader). The Supreme Court stepped in and put a thumb on the scale of Justice! Handing the election, effectively, to George W. Bush.

I see from my still wet-behind-the-ears blog entry it was nearly December when the dust had settled and the last chad was hung before the Republican fait was accompli. We were in California, four days after a family Thanksgiving in Spokane. It seems a million miles away.

23.Sept.2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

A man, a plan, a canal through a swamp – McConnell! Permalink to this item

Apologies for those of you looking for a good palindrome. This is just another cigar in the punchbowl. Jake Morrill spelled out the preamble for our next Supreme Court Justice pretty well on Facebook. Start when the Senate Majority Leader figured out how far breathtaking, norm-breaking audacity could take him.

In 2016, when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died 269 days before the Presidential election, and President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, the 52 Republican Senators said that to have hearings to confirm a justice in an election year was to override the will of the people. Let the people elect the new President, they said, and the new President would nominate the new Justice. On the Senate floor, Mitch McConnell said, over and over, that their decision not to hold confirmation hearings in an election year was about “a principle and not a person.”

A principle, he said, with a suit and tie on, from the well of the (so-called) greatest deliberative body in the world. Not a person. Not that we should need it spelled out, but Morrill spells it out:

"Principles are what we uphold irrespective of whether or not they serve our short-term interests; we stick to principles exactly in the moments when it's hard to do so."

Are there any principles in politics? Would Democrats have done the same thing if only they'd thought of it, thought they could get away with it, and had the opportunity? While we might imagine, we can't know. That doesn't stop ample commentators from saying they're just as bad as if it were a fact, and as if it justified any and all duplicity.

Four and a half years ago, no one bought that bullshit from McConnell, but the whole wave of Republicans unctuously used it for cover. Now, with less than zero days between the event and the election (voting is already underway in some states), and to a man, the GOP message is loud and clear: we know no principle other than power. (Two women in the party have said they'll stand down: Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and the ever-disappointing, ever-concerned Susan Collins of Maine. She's willing to act if it doesn't really matter, it seems.)

So many secretly limited investigations Permalink to this item

Yeah, we're still talking about that Russia, Russia, Russia thing, and Saudia Arabia, and Qatar, and Ukraine. For some reason. Maybe it's the fresh report of the efforts to swing another presidential election in favor of the malleable dupe?

“We assess that President Vladimir Putin and the senior most Russian officials are aware of and probably directing Russia’s influence operations aimed at denigrating the former U.S. Vice President, supporting the U.S. president and fueling public discord ahead of the U.S. election in November,” the first line of the [CIA] document says, according to the sources.

Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Derkach—identified as a Russian agent by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Treasury Department—and the president's "personal lawyer" Rudolph W. Giuliani are still thick as thieves, we read.

The FBI director's testimony last week also confirmed the obvious, that there are “very active efforts” by Russia “to both sow divisiveness and discord, and I think the intelligence community has assessed this publicly, primarily to denigrate Vice President Biden.”

And just as the big guy has pretzled the CDC and FDA to spout his preferred narratives about the pandemic rather than facts, +rump responded to say he was bothered that Christopher Wray didn't talk about China. And Iran. "Trump has also personally promoted the anti-Biden information Derkach is peddling." Because of course he is.

That WaPo story is quite the blockbuster. Members of Congress being used to launder information as part of a foreign interference operation? Anything you'd like to add, Sen. Johnson? Or Rep. Nunes? Huh. Nobody's going to out-do Rudy Giuliani in the useful idiot category these days (well—other than his biggest client):

Following the Treasury Department’s announcement sanctioning Derkach, Giuliani told the New York Times he had “no reason to believe [Derkach] is a Russian agent,” but added, “How the hell would I know?”

He's just a country bumpkin, I guess is the angle he's going for? Once the mayor of a small town on the coast. Thanks to another amazing daily from Heather Cox Richardson for the link to that front-page news. As she details, what we're not getting around to, enough, is following the money.

"Peter Strzok, who led the FBI’s Russia investigation, told journalist Natasha Bertrand at the beginning of September that it is crucial to examine Trump’s financial documents in order to see if he is compromised. Strzok wondered why Special Counsel Robert Mueller appeared not to look at them. “I personally don't see how they could have done [the counterintelligence investigation] because I don't know how you do that without getting tax records, financial records, and doing things that would become public,” Strzok said. “Had they done it, I would have expected to see litigation and screaming from Trump. And the absence of that makes me think it didn’t occur.”

"It turned out Strzok was right. Reporter Michael Schmidt of the New York Times wrote in his own new book that former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein secretly limited what the FBI could look at when it was examining Trump's ties to Russia. Rosenstein limited Special Counsel Robert Mueller to a criminal investigation rather than allowing a counterintelligence operation, so the full scope of Trump’s personal and financial ties to Russia, developed over decades, has never been examined."

Yesterday's episode of Fresh Air featured Forbes senior editor Dan Alexander, who, you guessed it, also has a book coming out, on How Donald Trump Turned The Presidency Into A Business. The blurb winds up a little breathless: "White House, Inc. is a page-turning, hair-raising investigation into Trump and his team, who corrupted the U.S. presidency and managed to avoid accountability. Until now."

Until now? It sounds like he's done a good job of burning up shoe leather to solve the "big puzzle" of the reticulating +rump Inc. crime and business network. 555 California Street in San Francisco, which Alexander says is +rump's "most valuable property," has, by his estimate, "150 different tenants accountable for an estimated $177 million of revenue per year," with countless conflicts of interest embedded therein. (The Wikipedia page for the building fka the Bank of America Tower lists a couple dozen "major tenants.")

One of those clients that Alexander ferreted out is Qatar Investment Authority, whose suite has the lights on, but nobody home. "Assuming they're paying market rates," the rent wouldn't be worth that much, Alexander notes, but small amounts of money matter more to Donald +rump than pretty much any billionaire in the world. He also cares about his place on the Forbes 400 list more than anyone else, too.

"Lobbying" is what Alexander calls the p.r. campaign Qatar undertook after the Saudis accused them of funding terrorism, and got +rump to amplify that story. Maybe the Saudis were just trying to cover their tracks to overcome Never Forget what country's nationals were behing 9/11? At any rate, it worked a treat!

"The position +rump takes on Qatar takes a total 180," and for the Emir's second visit to the U.S., a year later, the state dinner is hosted at the Cash Room of the U.S. Treasury. You couldn't hardly make this up.

Alexander notes that the US President and Vice-president enjoy an exemption from the federal Conflicts of Interest statue that prevents the rest of our government's employees from taking any action that will clearly benefit them or their spouses personally.

"Every other president and vice-president has acted like it pertained to them anyways, just because of the optics of it... There's no legal restriction on him benefiting from his own power... doing something to push money to his own properties. There are some other– it's not that he's totally free of any rules, there are some other things that he can't do, you know, he can't bribery, he can't participate in bribes, he can't violate the foreign emoluments clause..."

Except the Senate GOP decided that actually they were fine with bribery of a foreign country's leaders. And emoluments.

+rump specializes in optics, look over here! Now look over here! Now look over there! What were we talking about? Fake news? The Russia hoax? Sorry, time's up, I've got a tee time. Or a tweet time, something.

The bodies, their selves Permalink to this item

It stands to unreason that the folks in the Idaho's Southwest public health district would be the ones to raise the alarum for people being "threatened or mandated on things."

“We do have rights, and these rights won’t be infringed on when it comes to a vaccine — or even wearing a mask. It’s our decision; it’s our bodies,” the [Gem County] man told the district’s Board of Health, which oversees Gem, Canyon, Washington, Owyhee, Adams and Payette counties.

And a Nampa woman gets it, too:

“They should be allowed to make their own choice about their bodies,” the woman said. “Because where I come from, even though I left at 13, I do remember the government mandating every area of our lives. … I see this country heading south very fast and becoming a communist nation. It happens with (encroachment) on freedoms, like health freedoms.”

And unhealth freedom, too. A Caldwell woman:

“To mandate the vaccine would be a gross violation of our rights and personal autonomy,” she said. “No one should have a foreign body punctured into their person against their will. Under any of circumstance, it would be an act of violence. … Please stand against federal and state pressures, and be a hero to your citizens.”

You can imagine the perplexity of Canyon Co. Commission and SWDH Board member Tom Dale, who "said he hadn't heard any talk of a mandated vaccination — not on a local, state or national scale." "I’m not hearing it, and I don’t know where all this talk is coming from," he said.

Psst, Tom: it's coming from inside the room.

Equinox Permanent URL to this day's entry

Now for something apolitical: cross bore Permalink to this item

The usual ho-hum utility bill, $9.40 for our natural gas for a month of hot water heating, and I just happened to click through one of the attachments, piqued by the anchor text, "Cross Bore."

You may have heard of the "Dig Line," or "call before you dig," the free service at 8-1-1 to help you not run into buried utility lines when you start digging in the back (or front) yard. (Hmm, I see on their About page, it covers "39 of Idaho’s 44 counties," 24/7 including holidays, started in 1990, and whoops, "experiencing limited service and it may be difficult to reach an operator at this time," wonder what that's about.)

But you may not have heard about Cross Bore Safety. "There is a possibility that our gas pipeline may cross through the sewer pipe on your property. This is called a cross bore and occurs when trenchless technology was used to install underground utility lines."

Cross Bore infographic from callbeforeyouclear.com

Say whaaaat? Now you should CALL BEFORE YOU CLEAR A SEWER LINE too, lest you auger right through a gas line punched through your sewer line. That's right, "trenchless technology" can drill a gas line right through your sewer. I'm looking at this informative graphic, gobsmacked at the engineering and management teams that signed off on the blind mole approach to gas plumbing. "It'll be cheaper!"

Update: Looking to adapt that infographic to a Twitter-thumbnail to connect the dots between cross-bored sewer lines and our current political scene, an image search turned up an annotated still from a borehole camera that makes the point (and metaphor) maybe too well.

We understand that no one intended for this unfortunate juxtaposition to happen. When you drive a sharp bit through the earth and push a pipe behind it, you may crack a pipe here and there. Sorry! And a pipe through a pipe is an obstruction that will cause solids (ahem) to accumulate, and even with the big pipe now leaky, that might back things up, and, well, you get the picture.

Borehole camera image from a cross-bored sewer. OMG

About that election coming up Permalink to this item

Chilling forecast from Greg Palast: Warning: Trump and his Rioters can win using “The XII”. It was just 20 years ago this fall that we had an election-driven consitutitional crisis, and the Supreme Court of the United States decided the election in favor of George W. Bush, likely contrary to what Florida's voters had actually said, and abetted by Al Gore's and the Democrats' capitulation. There wasn't what you could call mayhem at the time. This year could be very different.

"I want people to think about this carefully. For example, the Gucci Riot with Roger Stone back in 2000 where we saw $1,200 an hour consultants banging on the windows and stopping the vote count. Now we’ll get Boogaloo Boys in Hawaiian shirts with crowbars and pipes who will be smashing the buildings, Molotov cocktails thrown into post offices because our president has said there are a million ballots in these 12 Post Offices from Venezuela and we have to stop the election from being stolen.

"There will be protests in the streets on both sides. We already had the test run in Portland. It’s a test run of the unmarked SUVs picking up people as if we were in Peronist Argentina. ..."

It's hard to get over that "can't happen here" feeling, when life has been so relatively normal for so long. It's not feeling all that normal at the moment.

Given that there's never been an election decided in the House of Representatives in anyone's living memory, most of us can be forgiven for failing to note that the 12th amendment provides that "in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote," which, is mind-blowing. 60 million people in NY and California boiled down to the same two votes as the fewer than a million and a half in Wyoming and Alaska.

Idaho is in the bag for +rump, so there aren't likely to be any post offices set on fire here. But Florida. Michigan. Wisconsin. Pennsylvania. Palast's recommendation for people in states that matter:

Massive in-person early voting.
Go mid-week when there are no lines.
Bring mask, gloves, sanitizer, ID and resolve.

Newspaper ad for estate auction

National insecurity Permalink to this item

Were it not for the pandemic, there would be a parade of scandals to seize our attention just now. We're in a toxic swamp of corruption and incompetence, focused on the feeding the bottomless pit of Donald +rump's insatiable ego, and enriching his spawn.

Remember those tax returns we still haven't seen? Of course you don't. An unnecessary and costly trade war disrupting the US agriculture, lit up with unilateral actions under a banner of "national security"? Bill Barr burying the Mueller report with a stream of lies to the public, and to Congress? Fake news! The fact that the Russians worked to elect, and are now working to re-elect him. It's a hoax! He says.

NO MORE BULLSHIT the +rump flags say, a flapping testament to how fully the base has bought into Gaslight Supreme.

"We are dealing with a lawless President who has no allegiance to our Constitution or values."
General Barry McCaffrey

Contrary to what you may have heard, Mr. +rump does not, in fact, "know more than the Generals." He knows less, and is less capable of absorbing new information. As a rule, flag officers tend to be circumspect about public statements, but here are nearly a dozen who have raised the alarm, one way or another. Admiral William McRaven, former Commander of U. S. Special Operations Command. General James Mattis, former Secretary of Defense. Lt. General John Allen, former Commander of US Forces in Afghanistan. General Michael Hayden, former Director of the NSA, and of the CIA. General Barry McCaffrey, with 3 Purple Hearts, 2 Distinguished Service Crosses, and 2 Silver Stars for valor. General John Kelly, +rump's former Chief of Staff. Admiral James Stavridis, former supreme allied commander of NATO. General Colin Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State. General Stanley McChrystal, former Commander of JSOC / US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander.

Our stature in the international community is in the crapper, and swirling lower. China, France, Russia, the UK, the US and Germany, under the Obama administration, negotiated a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to prevent, or at least slow down Iran's nuclear weapons program, and because Obama, and as an attempted campaign boost two years ago, +rump declared we were quitting.

Everyone else said ah, we're not quitting. After that fizzling incompetence, and because it's campaign season again, this most important one for what's left of Don John's sorry life, the administration issued an executive order to reimpose "UN sanctions." The UN said ah, no we didn't, and besides, you left that agreement two years ago.

Our comically inept bully risen to Secretary of State because all the better people left, Mike Pompeo says we're still "a participant." The United Kingdom, France and Germany have been our staunchest allies, and now look on in horror. For its part, Iran is treating us with all due respect. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the Council on Foreign Relations that they weren't listening. "The United States must first prove that it's worthy of the trust that is required for its re-entry into the deal before it sets conditions."

Mr. I-Alone-Can-Fix-It has made the office he occupies a laughing stock. That's not to say he's not dangerous. Quite the opposite: weakness is dangerous.

20.Sept.20 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Inside the Health Districts, sort of Permalink to this item

Good on the Idaho Press for spotlighting the Idaho health districts, front and center here in the pandemic. The two local districts, Southwest, and Central, comprise nine counties between them, and There are 14 board members in the two local districts, which have almost half (46%, per the 2017 estimate) of the state's population. The reporters reched out to every one of the fourteen members, and got... three to respond. Keeping their heads down?

As Olivia Heersink AND Thomas Plank note, "the ongoing pandemic has forced board members around the state to make politically charged decisions about masks, quarantines and public meeting sizes." It might be more accurate to say that board members have had to make decisions about masks, quarantines and public meeting sizes, that have become charged by the misguided and deadly political calculations of the +rump regime, but either way, the political scene is charged.

With just 3 of 14 responding, they did manage to get most of the gamut, it seems. Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo gave a thoughtful statement about why she accepted the position ("a deep interest in proactive, thoughtful measures that can prevent more costly interventions ... [and] to promote wellness and protect health among Ada County residents"). Kelly Ray Aberasturi from the Owyhee County Commission accepted his SWDH board position because "the other two commissioners delegated the role" to him. His priority is "doing the will of the citizens," which seems to be a matter of who shouts loudest and brings the longest guns to the board meetings.

The SWDH board has one health professional, Dr. Sam Summers, of Caldwell, with 36 years in family practice before retiring two years ago. Four of CDH's 7 board members have professional experience: Dr. Ted Epperly, president and CEO of the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho, and Jane Young, certified registered nurse practitioner and family nurse practitioner, from Ada County; Ryan Stirm, a Boise County commissioner and paramedic; and Betty Ann Nettleton, a R.N. from Elmore County.

It's a mixed bag in our corner of the state.

19.Sept.2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

On the mark Permalink to this item

You should read Jeffrey Goldberg's interview with Alexander Vindman for The Atlantic. It's his first since he testified in the inquiry for the impeachment of Donald John Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors last November.

Goldberg tells us that Lt. Col. Vindman's first day at the National Security Council, July 16, 2018, "was also the day that President Trump, meeting Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, told a press conference that he trusted Putin no less than he trusted U.S. intelligence agencies." Shouldn't that have been a... warning? Vindman said he thought he could make a difference.

“We all believed we could make a difference. I thought I could potentially communicate with him, maybe speak to his better angels, explain to him that his ideas about Russia were harmful to the United States.”

So that didn't exactly work out.

I ask Vindman the key question: Does he believe that Trump is an asset of Russian intelligence?

“President Trump should be considered to be a useful idiot and a fellow traveler, which makes him an unwitting agent of Putin,” he says...

With no need for blackmail.

“They have more effective and less risky ways to employ him. He has aspirations to be the kind of leader that Putin is, and so he admires him. He likes authoritarian strongmen who act with impunity, without checks and balances. So he’ll try to please Putin.”

Vindman continues, “In the Army we call this ‘free chicken,’ something you don’t have to work for—it just comes to you. This is what the Russians have in Trump: free chicken.

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

A profile in courage: Olivia Troye Permalink to this item

Thanks to Susan B. Glasser for her profile of Olivia Troye, going public on +rump's narcissistic mishandling of Covid-19: “It Was All About the Election.” You can watch Troye's scorching video at the beginning, or after reading Glasser's piece, powerful either way.

There aren't any big surprises for anyone who's paid even modest attention to what's going on, but the clarity and directness of the inside view put a long list of less forthcoming witnesses to shame. John Bolton concerned about his book deal, for example. A couple of generals who came and went, and let misplaced loyalty for the office keep them quiet about the man in it who gives none, and deserves none. And the former Director of National Intelligence, former Ambassador, former US Senator Dan Coats, who went as far as a New York Times op-ed, but not as far as naming the elephant in the room.

And the still-insiders working the "she's just disgruntled" rope line. It's worse than that, Mike, and Keith. She's seen you. She knows who you are, and what you're capable of. To be “no longer capable of keeping up with her day-to-day duties” is a badge of honor in this admnistration. Day-to-day duties that include putting a re-election campaign ahead of preserving, protecting, and defending our Constitution, and the well-being of the American people.

17.Sept.2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Let's not go down the same rathole again Permalink to this item

James Fallows, for The Atlantic: The Media Learned Nothing from 2016. The headline is a bit overstated, but the subhead seems on the mark: "The press hasn’t broken its most destructive habits when it comes to covering Donald Trump." Old habits die hard. Journalism is a profession, ideally, and standards of professionalism are built on a foundation of time, and corrected errors. And the press isn't the only organization that has been snookered. It happened to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, too.

"In his book about the Mueller investigation, True Crimes and Misdemeanors (and in a New Yorker article, Jeffrey Toobin argues that Mueller’s tragic flaw was a kind of anachronistic idealism—which had the same effect as naivete. Mueller knew the ethical standards he would maintain for himself and insist on from his team. He didn’t understand that the people he was dealing with thought standards were for chumps. Mueller didn’t imagine that a sitting attorney general would intentionally misrepresent his report, which is of course what Bill Barr did. Mueller wanted to avoid an unseemly showdown, or the appearance of a “fishing expedition” inquiry, that would come from seeking a grand-jury subpoena for Donald Trump’s testimony, so he never spoke with Trump under oath, or at all. Trump, Barr, and their team viewed this decorousness as a sign of weakness, which they could exploit."

For the press, the peanut butter in the mousetrap is ratings! when they broadcast the reality TV conman's barking madness, and the you-won't-believe-what-he-said-today, day after day. How to filter out the noise and cut to what really matters?

+rump is on record (we don't use tapes anymore, but shades of Tricky Dick, they are audio recordings) admitting that he knew how dangerous, and deadly the pandemic was, but "I wanted always to play it down," and you know, stop testing to speed the miracle just around the corner. Vaccine for everybody in October, step right up! The DHS—being run by illegals, no less—has been falsifying evidence. The Attorney General of the United States sees himself and is acting as the President's fixer.

Fallows identifies the Big Three problems as both-sides-ism, tracking the horse race (Fatuous Fascist vs. Regular Joe), and going after ratings. I'll let you take the jump and see his expansion of all that, but highlighting his list of people to pay attention to in the meta-media realm (all his links, minus the data-omni-click foo) seems eminently blog-worthy. This is a Very High Quality List:

"Over the past few years, [the most destructive habits of the medai in dealing with +rump have] been the object of careful, continued analyses by the likes of Margaret Sullivan, now of The Washington Post and the last really effective public editor of The New York Times (before the paper mistakenly abolished that position); Dan Froomkin, formerly of the Post and now of Press Watch; Jay Rosen, of New York University and PressThink; Eric Boehlert, of Press Run Media; Greg Sargent of “The Plum Line” at The Washington Post; Brian Beutler of Crooked Media; Eric Alterman of CUNY Brooklyn College, author of the new book Lying in State; the linguist George Lakoff, who has promoted the concept of countering lies with a “truth sandwich”; and many others. For my own part, I wrote a book called Breaking the News nearly 25 years ago, excerpted as an Atlantic cover story, about trends like these that were evident then and have metastasized through the years since."

Metastacized is of course the exact word for the moment. There is a cancer on the presidency. The House made the diagnosis, and the Republican-controlled Senate declined to operate. 47 years on, John Dean is still around to remind us of what was true then, and is more true now.

(Dean has a new book fresh out last month: Authoritarian Nightmare: Trump and His Followers. I'd be tempted, but I need to finish Hiding In Plain Sight first.)

15.Sept.2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Subject: Business Proposal Permalink to this item

One phishing lure and one regular-old scam stood out in today's mailbag. The former inspired me to forward it to the impersonee with a pithy preamble that I hope will make her laugh, and the latter was trimmed by the mail filter that only tentatively marked it as spam. It's nice that the filter values my opinion and gives me the right of refusal.

Hello,
How are you doing today? [Fake name redacted]. I am sorry for contacting you directly to your email.I have a very genuine and Lucrative opportunity that won't distract you from your daily schedule. I would like to talk to you about something very

Bombus in Helianthus

It made me think about lucre (and Lucre!). How often does "lucre" get used without "filthy" right before it? If you can believe Google's search results, more than you'd expect. 8 million hits for the plain word, and only 596,000 for "filthy lucre". (Also, searching for "lucre -filthy" without the quotes gives 7.3M, so rough, and surprising confirmation.)

Along the way, I noted "lucre" is Biblical, or at least King James-Biblical. Paul's first greeting to Titus, who he left behind in Crete to put things in order. In the part about Correcting False Teachers, there it is filthy in 1:11:

"For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth."

The New Revised Standard Version is my more usual preference, and in that, it comes out "sordid gain," not so punchy. NRSV retains the casual libel toward "those of the circumcision," which would have of course included Jesus himself, go figure.

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

Oh, and that other fascist thing he did Permalink to this item

I'd almost forgotten. God damn. In an interview with "Judge" Jeanine Pirro, our proto-fascist dictator endorsed the execution of Michael Reinoehl by a Washington law enforcement potpourri. Never mind innocent until proven guilty, we've gone fast forward to dead men tell no tales.

Most of the facts of the encounter that ended Reinoehl's life are yet to be made public, but that's no reason for +rump to hold his tongue.

"I will tell you something. That’s the way it has to be. There has to be retribution when you have crime like this."

Walter Einenkel's post on Daily Kos has the story outline, and the Fox News video, 15½ minutes of the president with one of his favorite fluffers. I couldn't get through a minute and half; either one of these miscreants makes my skin crawl, together they're more than I can stand.

Last week, the Oregonian reported that a witness who lived in the apartment complex near the shooting said Reinoehl wasn't obviously armed, and that there were no warnings or commands given, before police opened fire.

Reinoehl ducked for cover near his car, but it was blocked by police cars and he never got into it, according to [39 year old Nathaniel] Dingess.

“Officers shot multiple rapid-fire rounds at Reinoehl before issuing a brief ‘stop’ command, quickly followed by more rapid-fire shooting by additional officers,” according to the statement.

Do we have any conscience left to shock? My god.

There is no bottom Permalink to this item

The depth and detail of the corruption of the +rumpence administration has beggared our imaginations. There are the weekly and daily compilations, and it seems impossible to keep up. I mentioned some of what was in Heather Cox Richardson's Sept. 12 Letter yesterday, slipping a malleable factotum into one of our greatest government agencies, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but there was more than just that.

There is always more.

Her lede was Dan Diamond's bombshell report in Politico that +rump officials interfered with CDC reports on Covid-19, demanding the right to review scientific reports, and realign them to the effectively murderous talking points of the day.

We're talking about the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, "authored by career scientists and serve as the main vehicle for the agency to inform doctors, researchers and the general public about how Covid-19 is spreading and who is at risk."

The death toll being edited—by a former Trump campaign official with no medical or scientific background—to suit political ends. There is no bottom to the corruption.

But there is more.

The Department of Homeland Security has political appointees gaslighting us about threats of domestic terrorism, downplaying the top findings of intelligence experts that our biggest issues come from white supremacists and Russian attacks on another election, in favor of the preferred narratives of you-know-who, antifa coming after your suburbs, and Iran and China/don't look at Russia.

Said appointees are the illegally Acting Director Chad Wolf, and the his illegally acting Deputy, Ken Cuccinelli. Last week a whistleblower filed a complaint with particulars about these two, and the administration's response was to nominate Wolf for the actual job he has held illegally for more than ten months. And then cite "standard practice" as precluding Wolf's long-overdue testimony.

Immediately, DHS told the House that Wolf could not testify in front of the committee, because “it is standard practice for nominated officials not to testify in their acting roles in front of a congressional committee before they have been confirmed.”

But there will be more.

We await with bated breath the October surprise that Attorney General and +rump's Roy Cohen, Bill Barr is cooking up with U.S. Attorney John Durham. The stew is fetid enough that a long-time aide to Durham, federal prosecutor Nora Dannehy pulled the ripcord, as the Hartford (Connecticut) Courant reported last week.

"As an assistant U.S. Attorney in Connecticut, Dannehy was known for building complex corruption cases against high-profile politicians."

What's been hinted about Durham's work so far is inconsequential, but for a team willing and able to fabricate "massive fraud" out of tweets and rumors, one altered memo is being raised up as the Holy Grail. This while the complex corruption case of the +rump crime family financial dealings cries out for someone with Dannehy's skill. Instead, the platoon of +rump lawyers inside and outside the DOJ has successfully obstructed release of financial records (+rump's tax returns, et cetera) for four full years, the pettifogging set to run out the clock past November 3.

That will all be a sideshow compared to the plan to declare victory before key battleground states' results are fully counted, and then the gaslight de résistance of declaring "massive voter fraud" for absentee/mail-in voting, and negate the will of the nation's voters to finally drain this noisome swamp.

13.Sept.2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Fire season Permalink to this item

AirNow map snapshot, 1:40pm MDT today

We have a dose of Air Quality index at the verge of "Very unhealthy" today. We were just under 200 this morning, and north of 300 is where "Hazardous" (maroon) starts. The wind was up at Lucky Peak, and the air didn't seem too horrible at the house, I could see the moon high in the sky (a bit orange tinted), so I headed up to the lake before sunrise, anticipating the pleasure of starting my day windsurfing.

Headed south to get to the freeway, up the second bench, and the smell of smoke was getting into the car in spite of all the windows being closed. The scene was much denser gray. I hoped that maybe the katabatic flow would be carrying cleaner mountain air to the Boise River canyon, but nope. I see on the AirNow map there's a worse blob in the Boise Mountains, so that was feeding down the canyon. At (the time of) sunrise, some of my buddies were rigging up; I took a picture and wished them well, not wanting to be breathing that stuff for a couple of hours. I was disappointed, but it wasn't that far up the scale of life's disappointments.

Friends and family have checked in from up north, Moscow, and Colfax, and from Portland, where the AQI is off the scale Hazardous. Boise isn't actually in the thick of it, so far. Yreka to Portland is. The Columbia River basin. The Palouse, Spokane, north Idaho, SE British Columbia.

This was the scene at the lake, overlooking the Barclay Bay beach (now 60 ft. above the lake as it's drawn down for fall and winter), at the time of sunrise (which is a while before the sun gets over the hills down to the water):

This morning, 7:21 am MDT

As opposed to what it looked like three days and ten minutes earlier (left of the boat ramp, where you can see the waterline at a lower beach):

Thursday, 7:12 am MDT

In the Los Angeles Times today: How climate change is fueling record-breaking California wildfires, heat and smog.

“This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone,” said Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. “Maybe we underestimated the magnitude and speed” at which these events would occur, he said, but “we’ve seen this long freight train barreling down on us for decades, and now the locomotive is on top of us, with no caboose in sight.”

In a matter of weeks, California has experienced six of the 20 largest wildfires in modern history and toppled all-time temperature records from the desert to the coast. Millions are suffering from some of the worst air quality in years due to heat-triggered smog and fire smoke. A sooty plume has blanketed most of the West Coast, blotting out the sun and threatening people’s lungs during a deadly pandemic. ...

As one 1988 internal Shell Oil Co. document noted, “by the time the global warming becomes detectable it could be too late to take effective countermeasures to reduce the effects or even to stabilize the situation.”

Down the story, along with the 130°F in Death Valley you might have heard about last month, there are the record temperatures in L.A. County (121°F in Woodland Hills) and at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, 10 miles from the Pacific Ocean, the highest temperature recorded in a century and a half since recordkeeping began. 120°F. Wildfires triggering firestorms "unprecedented in our historical experience."

What this year’s extreme heat, fire and air quality degradation is showing, said Columbia’s Williams, is that we are, in a sense, blindly stepping off a cliff from a world in which we could somewhat predict what was going to happen, based on decades and centuries of data.

“We’re finding that we’ve lost complete control,” he said. “The baselines we’ve used for decades no longer apply. There really isn’t a normal anymore.”

Maybe the federal government should do something? Ah, but California supported Hillary Clinton over +rump by more than 30 points in 2016, they're dead to our mob boss. In Heather Cox Richardson's Sept. 12 Letter from an American, there's this latest nugget:

"[W]e learned that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has hired a climate-change denier. David Legates has spent his career casting doubt on climate science: in 2014, he told the Senate that the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which identifies international consensus within the scientific community of 195 countries (no mean feat) is wrong. His work has been funded in part by grants from Koch Industries, ExxonMobil, and the American Petroleum Institute. Neither he nor NOAA would tell NPR why he was hired."

NPR's story says Legates is to be NOAA's deputy assistant secretary of commerce for observation and prediction, where he will report to Neil Jacobs, the acting head of the agency. Of course there's an acting head, serving without Senate confirmation, at the whim of +rump. And of course Jacobs was the guy sitting there in the Oval Office lending "expertise" to Don the Con after he'd rerouted a hurricane forecast with a Sharpie a year ago. It was like a miracle.

CNN image, via WLOX story, linked

Legates, affiliated with the think tank specializing in climate change-denial, the Heartland Institute, got an attaboy from one of its board members. He'll "a great deal of much-needed science to NOAA," as if they were short on the subject. You might remember the "conservative and libertian" Heartland Institute from its past campaigns, against tobacco regulation, for privatizing federal services, tax credits for private schools, and "free-market reforms" in healthcare.

11.Sept.2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

This exemplar of the Senate GOP Permalink to this item

"You're talking about the Woodward book?" Sen. John Kennedy asked, and you can see the wheels spinning in his head as he flips to the right talking point with a slow "UM."

From CNN

"All I can do is share with you mah point of view... These 'gotcha books' don't really interest me that much..."

He's rehearsed this line in preparation. He repeats it three times, drawled word for word, before later saying he doesn't want to repeat himself. Any more.

She calls him out "as a human being" and... he fails the test. Astoundingly, the Senator from Louisiana—where 5,000 of his constituents have died from Covid-19—pulls up his college philosophy bona fides. He's an existentialist about this.

"I have learned in Washington D.C., I'm I'm I'm sort of... existential, or Sartrean about Washington D.C., ah, to be is to act.

Unless you die, in which case, you are unable to act.

"Ah, you larn pretty quickly not to judge people up here by what they say, you have to judge them by what they do."

The Senator is doing a good job of not panicking. And not paying too close attention to the murderous psychopathy that he's supporting with his complicity. It doesn't really interest him that much.

"The president, by his deeds, and he's never done it by his words with me either, has ever downplayed the coronavirus, quite the contrary."

Then this master of jaw-flapping spluttering suck-up derides expertise in its entirety. He spits out "expert" like a cuss word. You could find an expert to say anything you want. You might as well call the Psychic Hotline. So why not have a psychopath who knows we're on the verge of a deadly pandemic tell people "it'll be like a miracle, it'll just go away in April"?

I mean golleee, whar's the harm in that, Pam?

2020.09.09 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Through the looking glass Permalink to this item

Lots of hot takes on Bob Woodward's latest book, here in September, because he talks about how the president of the United States admitted that he knew how serious Covid-19 could be, but wanted to keep it mum. “I wanted to always play it down,” the president said on March 19. In the midst of publicly downplaying the threat dozens of times, fueling conspiracy theories and effectively torpedoing one public health initiative after another.

He's now saying he did it to quell panic.

A guy whose entire re-election campaign is based on engendering fear and panic is saying that he lied to prevent panic is an interesting plot twist.

— Charles P. Pierce (@CharlesPPierce) September 9, 2020

Panic was also theme of his election campaign in 2016. Just check that RNC platform they're re-using this year.

There's a lot more to "explore" than just the murderous mishandling of the pandemic. The racism, the "diplomacy" with North Korea and of course some "brutal assessments" from the people who worked for him and then got the hell out. It's based on "18 on-the-record interviews Woodward conducted with the president between December and July," and more.

In a ... conversation recounted by Woodward, [former defense secretary and retired Marine General Jim] Mattis told [former director of national intelligence Daniel] Coats, “The president has no moral compass,” to which the director of national intelligence replied: “True. To him, a lie is not a lie. It’s just what he thinks. He doesn’t know the difference between the truth and a lie.”

Mattis also is said to have told Coats "There may come a time when we have to take collective action" since Trump is "dangerous. He’s unfit." And he's still in office, unlike Mattis and Coats.

The +rumpian projection is as pitch-perfect as ever. Seeing images of women of color "calmly and silently watching him deliver his State of the Union address, he said “Hate! See the hate! See the hate!”

Yes sir, we see it.

2013 photo from the north Cascades

The guy who's not really qualified for a security clearance, let alone being a "senior advisor," but married cleverly, gives the plot away:

"The most dangerous people around the president are overconfident idiots....

"Kushner is quoted extensively in the book ruminating about his father-in-law and presidential power. Woodward writes that Kushner advised people that one of the most important guiding texts to understand the Trump presidency was “Alice in Wonderland,” a novel about a young girl who falls through a rabbit hole. He singled out the Cheshire cat, whose strategy was endurance and persistence, not direction."

Can someone please find the one pill to make it go away? Woodward's fly-on-the-wall reporting seems simultaneously half a year late (yeah, but "if Woodward HAD gone public then with this info, would it have changed a damn thing?" a friend asks, rhetorically), and soon enough to multiply the damage.

[Infectious-disease expert Anthony] Fauci at one point tells others that the president “is on a separate channel” and unfocused in meetings, with “rudderless” leadership, according to Woodward. “His attention span is like a minus number,” Fauci said, according to Woodward. “His sole purpose is to get reelected.”

Obviously. But further diminishing Fauci's potential effectiveness will only make the pandemic death toll worse. As foretold by the last word:

In their final interview, on July 21, Trump vented to Woodward, “The virus has nothing to do with me. It’s not my fault.”

Labor Day Permanent URL to this day's entry

Common sense can kill you Permalink to this item

Andy Slavitt, podcast host of In the Bubble, "health care leader, turnaround expert and #stayhome architect Andy Slavitt is making it his mission to give Americans critical information in real-time [and] also hope for a path forward." I've been following him on Twitter (@ASlavitt), and just noticed this thread, from three days ago:

Occasionally I see something which makes me realize COVID isn’t our toughest enemy any more.

There is a growing refusal to participate in any public health activities— not just social distancing:masks—but testing & contact tracing. And it definitely means no quarantining. 2/

— Andy Slavitt @ 🏡 (@ASlavitt) September 4, 2020

It's all-too-familiar in our neck of the woods. It's the Wild West party of Ammon Bundy, Heather Scott and the other no-nothings on the right wing fringe of Idaho's right wing fringe. (Just two days ago, etc.)

A couple years at Iowa State University and your 21st birthday could qualify you to be a spokesperson for covidiocy. Take it from Mady, quoted in the NYT piece on the New Front in America’s Pandemic, College Towns:

“If people get sick, they get sick — it happens,” Mady Hanson, a 21-year-old exercise science major, said last week on campus. She added that she and her family had survived Covid-19 and that she resented the city’s “ridiculous” restrictions.

“We’re all farmers and don’t really care about germs, so if we get it, we get it and we have the immunity to it.”

It's coming to a college or university near you, you can be certain.

Signs of a safe group/leader Permalink to this item

A retweet from 2017 brought this concept to the top of my stack, and the top search result for "signs of a cult leader" was from the Cult Education Institute. Rick Ross, "Expert Consultant and Intervention Specialist" provides two lists about cults, and one converse list.

Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe group/leader; ten regarding people involved in/with a potentially unsafe group/leader; and ten signs of a safe group/leader. The first two will seem all-too familiar, starting with "Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability" and "No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry." But let's think positive today. Give us that last list.

A safe group/leader...:

The mysteriously all-knowing internet also offered up this 2016 chestnut from Jordan Klepper and the Daily Show, from back when we had in-person national political conventions and before we learned that the joke of +rump running for president would be on us. All praise to our Godly Leader.

5.Sept.2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Monopolizing violence Permalink to this item

Yesterday's AP headline was "Portland killing suspect and victim had guns, documents say," a rather anodyne title for someone dispatched in what today's headline announces was a "hail of gunfire," delivered by "four agents serving on a U.S. Marshals Service task force," not to be confused with U.S. Marshals. (Searches for the "hail of gunfire" headline return stories with the "documents say" one, huh. Here, somebody's News Tribune: Suspect in Portland protest killing dies in hail of gunfire.)

The story talks about "federal agents from the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service" and informs us that such task forces include "deputy marshals, other federal agents and local law enforcement officers from a variety of agencies" who "are responsible for apprehending violent felons and other wanted suspects."

A U.S. Marshals Service statement issued later said the fugitive task force had "attempted to peacefully arrest him," so that was a failure, huh? The four "task force members" who took out Michael Forest Reinoehl were "were two Pierce County [Washington] Sheriff's deputies, a police officer from the Washington city of Lakewood and Washington State Department of Corrections officer," which sounds pretty damn deputy rag-tag, doesn't it?

Documents say Reinoehl had a "semi-automatic handgun," which we don't know if he fired. But we are told there were "dozens of gunshots" and "bystanders ducking for cover" and they had a warrant and whoops, no body- or dashcam footage? Some "senior Justice Department official in Washington," "[not] authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity," that's nice, said Reinoehl "pulled a gun." Is that Washington D.C. or Washington state, because it kind of matters, eh? The "hail" of gunfire, variously "dozens" of shots, "40-50." They haven't reported whether or not Reinoehl did any of the shooting. It sounds like maybe not. After the "task force members" "confronted" him, "they fired into the vehicle, Reinoehl got out and ran and was shot" according to a spokesman in another County Sheriff's department.

Dead men tell no tales. Reinoehl won't be making a "stand your ground" (or any other) defense for the crime he was accused of, with the presumption of innocence until proven beyond a reasonable doubt. He should have followed instructions? Or just walked on by, with a long gun slung over his shoulder and his hands up, like Kyle Rittenhouse.

One of Idaho's least distinguished lawmakers, Heather Scott of way up yonder, was also in today's paper, Zooming in to Ammon Bundy's Emmett warehouse to say "I should be clapping for you guys" who swarmed the Idaho Capitol just last week to turn the legislature's special session into a rodeo clown show, ensuring that none of our citizens in their right minds could participate in person (and without any "virtual" means to participate).

With a classic "screenshot via Peoples Rights [sic] on Facebook," Bundy in his ubiquitous hat, arms crossed, Scott looking like an apparition from the Addam's Family, the warehouse interior looking like it's been used for target practice by the gang that couldn't shoot straight, and, naturally, the image through the looking glass.

FB screenshot via Idaho Press

"Scott went on to praise the group for its showing at the Idaho Legislature’s special session last month, which turned unruly and led to arrests; she encouraged members to elect officials, from mayors to county sheriffs, who won’t enforce coronavirus restrictions."

That's right, FREEDOM for the coronavirus to continue its deadly run through the world. Scott says "we need to secure our communities," against the United Nations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "a tyrannical governor," and health districts. She thought it was "really sad" "to see so many people in Ada County with masks on," which is to say following the health district's order to provide for public health.

The State of Idaho did not see fit to applaud Bundy's rabble rousing, but they have not yet brought out a hail of gunfire against him. The Idaho State Police did amass a fairly overwhelming show of force to round 'im up and head 'im out ziptied to an office chair, then carrying him out of the gallery the next day, after he'd been banned from the statehouse and its grounds for a year. Something tells me that won't shut him up.

4.Sept.2020 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Mailbag Permalink to this item

In the good old days, our southwestern Idaho cities were enclaves onto themselves, and folks could make their urban, suburban or nonurban choice largely free of outside disturbance. Boise could do its own things, while inheld Garden City and the un- and less-incorporated parts of the county could do their own things. Canyon County and beyond marched to its own drums. Things have grown up, grown out, run together now. There is unwanted mixing. Every workday, a torrent of commuters flow from Red districts to Blue for work, return home, complain about rampant Liberality and Worse. You can imagine the Blues' attitude, too.

Photo from yesterday

Our current daily paper is the Idaho Press, well on its way to superseding the long time dean of state dailies, the Idaho Statesman. I've been a fan of the Letters to the Editor section in whatever paper was in my neighborhood almost all my life, making my own contributions from time to time (but less so in the years since the web provided my own publishing outlet). The Statesman's section as I remember it was pretty tightly controlled. 200 words, and I could've sworn there was editing. I certainly edited the heck out of mine before sending them in, because 200 words never seemed like enough to say all I had to say. The discipline was good, I appreciated the motivation to cut the chaff, whittle it down, get to the point.

The Idaho Press currently allows 300 words, which seems generous, and excessive, by turns, as you read through what they publish. It does not appear that they edit them in any way, whatsoever. Nor is there any quality-based selection in evidence. When I sent one in recently (maybe my first to them?) I waited, and waited, wondering if it wasn't good enough, or what. It was certainly short enough; I only used 170 words. Eventually, they ran it, not as timely a rejoinder as I'd hoped for, but it seems there's a two-week queue. (Two weeks seems an eternity these days.) Or maybe longer, and mine was so good they moved it up, who knows?

Anyway, the Idaho Press' letters section is like none other I can remember, for the range and quality of expression. It is a crossroads of opinion between the Wild West and the Great State of Ada, between Red America and Blue America. Not that geography divides us that cleanly, though. In today's batch, Tony Diehl of Boise rails against the paper's use of "BCE" for dates more than two millennia distant. And "CE" supplanting "AD." How dare they! When he is president, we'll all be able to say Anno Domini again. Pat Cone of Eagle, who "in the past" has "voted both democrat & republic," wrote that "I for one am sick of political speek" (and punctuation, apparently) concluded that "this year I will vote Republic." Among her complaints is, and I quote verbatim:

Polosi's house does not want to stay in town& do what owe elected them to do, such as get bills passed to help alll of us get the help we need to survive this virus, unless we send billions to State that did not

control their budgets. I don't expect some one to step in & bail me out when I do wrong. I think that's called responsibility.

There is a poignant letter from John Landers of Wilder, illustrating mental illness more directly, from the inside.

"I have problems with voices in my head and nightmares but also I tend to see things in the hospital that no one else can see and I also tend to isolate but it doesn't make me a bad person I just can't cope with the world because I see it as twisted and upside down."

We're gaining new-found empathy for that these days. Rex Dent, also of Boise, offers "one more chance before I cancel my subscription..." He "was told that the Idaho Press was a local paper that represented local values" and so has "not appreciated the unbalanced coverage of the AP stories selected and published. All the stories covering national politics are either pro Biden or anti Trump." He wants the IP "to pursue alternative view points and represent both candidates."

That got me looking closer at today's AP stories. A9 has Biden, in Kenosha, hails fight for racial progress, and a picture of Joe speaking (we presume) with a mask on, in front of an altar. Across the gutter on A8 (with a much smaller font), Trump suggests polling place double-check for mail-in voters, which is charitably understated, given that

In a series of tweets, Trump encouraged voters to go to their polling site to “see whether or not your Mail In Vote has been Tabulated (Counted). If it has you will not be able to Vote & the Mail In System worked properly.”

That's representing both candidates, I'd say. The AP story goes on to detail the "widespread alarm [of] various officials and voting rights groups," at the president urging voters to commit a felony (which, in North Carolina is a felony itself), and +rump spox and press performer Kayleigh McEnany walking it back. "The president does not condone unlawful voting," she said. Good to know.

But today's winning letter is from Martin Duarte of Meridian, remarkably stopping 14 words shy of his limit (unless maybe they were counting some of the 22 exclamation points?) under a headline "Pattern." Before the last sentence ("What more is there to say?"), it has the feel of "let's just use the 2016 platform over again." Duarte fires for effect on, you guessed it, "Joe Biden’s friend and political/partner Barack Obama."

It's like the Golden Oldies channel, all the greatest hits. "God Dam America" sermons! Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, George Soros, and BENGHAAAAAZI. "4 Americans died!" (The CSSE at JHU dashboard currently shows that 186,830 and 4 Americans have died from Covid-19, and the world-leading mismanagement of the pandemic this year.)

History: Democracy’s/republics fail in approximately 200 years! It happens when the government is obligated to feed/provide for more of its citizens then it can support, and were well on our way!!!

I'm guessing Duarte will find more to say, sooner or later. Back in 2013, when he signed in from Kuna, he was more abstemious with the exclamations, but definitely sounding the alarm. Threats to American sovereignty are real, he wrote, and the 2nd Amendment can save us. "America’s private militia needs the same technology weaponry as an invading army!"

P.S. For anyone keeping score, this runs over 1,000 words. And a picture worth another 1,000, don't you think?

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

"We don't agree in any of it" Permalink to this item

One of Jeanette's long, long-time friends shared Heather Cox Richardson's Aug. 30 Letter from an American with her, and a short list of friends. It's the one that starts

"Lots of folks are finally paying attention to the rise of authoritarianism here in the U.S. They are right to be concerned."

And goes on to detail exactly why we are right to be concerned.

Garden photo

"[+]rump is clearly trying to change the national narrative from his disastrous response to the coronavirus and the economic crash to the idea that he alone can protect white Americans from their dangerous Black neighbors.

"Stoking violence is a key tool in the authoritarian’s toolkit. The idea is to increase civil disorder. As violence increases, people will turn to a leader who promises “LAW & ORDER,” as Trump keeps tweeting. Once firmly in power, an authoritarian can then put down his opponents with the argument that they are dangerous criminals.

"Trump is advancing just such a strategy. ..."

She goes on to describe some of how he and members of his administration are doing so. I recommend it all, and that you subscribe to her nearly daily updates. They're an essential read, in my humble opinion. But anyway, the friends (?) of a friend were not as taken as I was. They replied to all, peevishly mangling prepositions:

"You indicated you would not send anymore if this political stuff. We don’t agree in any of it and we don't appreciate any of it."

How nice it must be to opt out of "this political stuff" and the gathering darkness, to choose "not to agree in any of it" and just la la la la la I can't hear you. Except that Some People Are Not Getting The Message, and insist on bringing it up after you asked so nicely to make it stop.

Election Day* Permalink to this item

Photo of outer ballot envelope

After her absentee ballot request went unanswered, Jeanette masked up and rode her bike to Fairmont Junior High, one of the limited polling places for today's Boise School District election. She was first to arrive after their 8 am opening, and so got to (officially) witness the ballots being unlocked. The pollworkers seemed a bit unsure of themselves, took a while to track her down in the roll, one of her many possible (and legal, as far as that goes) variations of surnames. Turns out there's an errant '-' in the works, and records vary. Maybe that's why the absentee ballot didn't get delivered? If Kris Kobach were in charge, she probably wouldn't have been allowed to vote.

As elections go, three people running for two Trustee seats on the school board, it's not all that exciting, but we can consider it as a low-stress practice run for what's coming. (Not that any of the BSD learning will get leveraged to November.) There were more issues than there should have been, explanations for each one.

It's more than a little quixotic and irksome that the BSD runs its elections outside of consolidation. (Ada County had a consolidated election a week ago, that could have just as well included this one.) The reason, given in don't-call-it-a-FAQ Facts, Questions and Answers, seems to combine "we called our schedule first," and "because we can."

The Boise School District Charter, established in 1881 and amended 65 years ago, declared the elections to be “biennially on the first Tuesday of September in the even numbered years.” And, "according to the Secretary of State and Ada County Elections, the Boise School District is exempt from the Election Consolidation Law passed in 2010 for Trustee Elections only." So there.

raveling

Tom von Alten
ISSN 1534-0007