September 9, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 9:39 PM


Trump Was 'Ecstatic' About Talking to Woodward--Until He Wasn't (Asawin Suebsaeng, Maxwell Tani, Sam Stein, Sep. 09, 2020, Daily Beast)

For weeks leading up to the publication of Bob Woodward's latest book, West Wing aides were chatting about how damaging some of President Donald Trump's quotes would be. In the past couple weeks, two senior Trump administration officials told The Daily Beast they were quietly gaming out how to combat or downplay what they'd heard was going to appear in the published work, and attempting to ferret out what other big tidbits would be in there as well.

"It's been known for a while that this was going to be something that...needed some dealing-with," one of the officials said. "The anticipation was that it would probably be worse than the other [earlier] Woodward book."

That sense of impending dread stood in contrast to how the president initially felt about Woodward's Rage, which deals with Trump's handling of a range of high stakes national security issues in addition to the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump was "ecstatic" about the prospect of sitting for interviews with Woodward, according to a White House official, and relished some of his conversations with the famous Washington Post journalist. 

Ultimately, Trump spoke with Woodward 18 times for the book. And at some point along the way, he had a change of heart, becoming convinced that Woodward was using him. Trump then began rage-tweeting the very reporter with whom he was so psyched to go on the record.

Posted by orrinj at 7:45 PM


Trump Has Reportedly Already Blown Through Nearly a Billion Dollars of His Campaign Cash (ELLIOT HANNON, SEPT 08, 2020, Slate)

Part of the problem appears to be that running a disciplined, functional campaign for an undisciplined, dysfunctional leader might just be impossible. Throw in that the candidate is vain, unfocused, and corrupt at a cellular level, and you have a recipe for campaign grift and graft, both of which point to unprecedented waste. The Trump campaign, for example, paid $11 million to run Super Bowl ads in February. That might not seem like much when you have a billion dollars to throw around, but, by comparison, the two game day ads cost more than Trump would spend through the end of July on local TV ads in four pretty important upper midwest battle ground states combined: Wisconsin ($3.9 million), Michigan ($3.6 million), Iowa ($2 million), and Minnesota ($1.3 million).

As with every campaign ever, it's hard to look good if you're losing--and impossible to look smart if you lose. But the Times data shows the shady decadence of a number of now typical Trump-style expenses has started to add up: more than $1 million in TV ads in the D.C. market solely to flatter the president's ego and millions spent at Trump properties, office space in Trump Tower, lavishly courting donors at Mar-a-Lago in Florida and at the steakhouse at Trump's Washington hotel. And that doesn't even include the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been paid out through the shady limited liability company, American Made Media Consultants, to God knows where. The opaque company is thought to pay the Trump family and assorted hangers-on abnormally high sums for their campaign "services." The campaign even spent nearly a million dollars in ads promoting its now former campaign manager Brad Parscale's Facebook and Instagram pages. Let's not forget, Trump and his clan have never shied away from spending other people's money.

Posted by orrinj at 7:14 PM


Posted by orrinj at 6:57 PM


PODCAST: Simon Schama on the Romantics (BBC History Extra, 9/09/20)

Ahead of his new BBC Two series The Romantics and Us, the renowned art historian and broadcaster Simon Schama explores the legacy of the 18th and 19th-century artistic movement on the modern world. 

Amazing how thoroughly the Trumpist Right has incorporated every malignancy of Romanticism from emotion to Nationalism.

Posted by orrinj at 6:55 PM


Senate paralyzed over coronavirus relief (JOHN BRESNAHAN, MARIANNE LEVINE and ANDREW DESIDERIO, 09/09/2020, Politico)

With the coronavirus pandemic still battering the United States, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked his fellow senators on Wednesday whether they "want to do something? Or do you want to do nothing?"

The answer looks to be ... nothing.

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FBI's Terror Hunters Turn to a Different Threat: Incels  (Adam Rawnsley  & Seamus Hughes, Sep. 09, 2020, Daily Beast)

The FBI's top terrorism cops took down a different kind of alleged terrorist in a complaint filed earlier this month: an incel.

In a complaint filed in federal court in White Plains, New York, an FBI agent with the Bureau's Joint Terrorism Task Force detailed a year-long campaign of harassment, rape, and death threats levied at a Long Island couple by David Kaufman, a self-described member of the "incel" movement and supporter of one of its most notorious murderers, Elliot Rodger.

Prosecutors alleged that Kaufman terrorized a couple he knew from college and their friends in a series of messages on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube in retaliation for "for rejecting and depriving him of sex to which he believed he was entitled," according to the complaint. He's charged with making threatening interstate communications and stalking.

Neither Kaufman's lawyer nor the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York responded to requests for comment. 

Members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, comprised of federal, state, and local law enforcement officials coordinating together on extremism investigations, typically work cases associated with Islamist extremist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda or right-wing extremists, like neo-Nazis. 

Posted by orrinj at 6:32 PM

WE'RE FOUR YEARS IN; WHO IS STUNNED? (profanity alert):

Four stunning revelations Bob Woodward reveals about Donald Trump in his devastating new book "Rage" (ALEX HENDERSON, SEPTEMBER 9, 2020, Salon)

1. Trump rages about the generals

Woodward quotes Woodward as saying, "My [****]ing generals are a bunch of [Donald's]. They care more about their alliances than they do about trade deals."

2. Mattis and Coats recognized Trump's unfitness

"Rage," according to Washington Post reporters Robert Costa and Philip Rucker, contains "brutal assessments of Trump's conduct from Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, former Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats and others:

Mattis quietly went to Washington National Cathedral to pray about his concern for the nation's fate under Trump's command and, according to Woodward, told Coats, "There may come a time when we have to take collective action" since Trump is "dangerous. He's unfit."

In a separate conversation recounted by Woodward, Mattis told 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."

Posted by orrinj at 6:28 PM


Nord Stream 2: Who needs the Russian gas pipeline after all? (Deutsche-Welle, 9/09/20)

Christoph Weber, a professor of energy economics at the University Duisburg-Essen in Germany, believes the additional capacity is not really needed. "Nord Stream 2 isn't essential for maintaining Germany's energy security," he told DW. "There is sufficient access to natural gas resources in Norway, the United States and North Africa."

Marc Oliver Bettzüge also thinks that the termination of Nord Stream 2 won't open up a supply gap in Europe. At the same time, he acknowledged that gas prices in Europe would decline "noticeably, but not dramatically" if the controversial pipeline would be allowed to deliver gas to the continent.

In an interview with the German FAZ newspaper, the director of the Energy Institute at the University of Cologne, said that prices could fall "by about 5%," citing the findings of his own experts in a study published in April.

By contrast, the verdict of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) is more devastating. DIW's senior energy expert, Claudia Kemfert, told DW that Nord Stream 2 is "unnecessary" in respect to German energy policy, as well as "environmentally destructive and commercially inefficient." Even Russian energy analysts doubt that the project would ever turn a profit for Gazprom, the Kremlin-backed Russian energy giant, she says.

Posted by orrinj at 6:18 PM


Ben Sasse Calls for Repealing 17th Amendment, Eliminating Popular-Vote Senate Elections (BRITTANY BERNSTEIN, September 9, 2020, National Review)

Senator Ben Sasse (R., Neb.) called to repeal the 17th Amendment on Tuesday, which would eliminate the requirement that U.S. senators be elected by popular votes.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled "Make the Senate Great Again," Sasse called for an end to the amendment, among other changes to the Senate "aimed at promoting debate, not ending it."

He also recommended abolishing standing committees, requiring senators to show up for debates, implementing 12-year term limits, and requiring senators to live together in dorms when in Washington.

"What would the Founding Fathers think of America if they came back to life?" Sasse wrote. "Their eyes would surely bug out first at our technology and wealth. But I suspect they'd also be stunned by the deformed structure of our government. The Congress they envisioned is all but dead. The Senate in particular is supposed to be the place where Americans hammer out our biggest challenges with debate. That hasn't happened for decades--and the rot is bipartisan."

Along the same reform lines, Electors should be freed and control over primaries should be restored to the political parties with no interference from state governments--they are private, not public.

Posted by orrinj at 6:10 PM



In 1962, Thomas Kuhn wrote his ground-breaking book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in which he argues that scientific consensus is not neutral and disinterested, but emerges out of paradigms held by factions and in-groups devoted to their own survival. It is, hands down, the single most influential work of philosophy of science in the last century.  It's core message, however, has not filtered down to popular culture, because questioning the disinterested status of science is, peripherally, to question the disinterested neutrality of liberal nation states.    

Kuhn begins by thinking about the textbooks from which we all learn about science and how they form our minds.  He worries that the image of science they present is as glossed over as a tourist brochure.[1]  Textbooks tend to praise the achievements of great lone scientists and downplay science as a communal, cultural enterprise.  Perhaps most perniciously, because of their aim of getting novices up to speed so that they can understand (and even practice in) today's scientific landscape, they select episodes in the history of science and arrange them in a seamless narrative all leading, scientific modernity.  Inevitably, this has the effect of confirming our positivist prejudices; it makes science look like a straight line of progress, only opposed by the forces of superstition.

If you look at the actual revolutions of thought in the history of science, Kuhn argues, this isn't what you'll see.  Science is done by real human beings.  Its history is a history of fights between groups of scientists not only over particular facts but over method and what counts as science at all.  By uncovering the personal and social dimensions of science, Kuhn ushered in the "historical" or "sociological" turn in philosophy of science.  

Kuhn's historical studies paint a far more nuanced and interesting picture of science.  Its history is more than the history of ideas; it is also a history of real people, with all their flaws and foibles.  There is more to science than facts simply presenting themselves to great minds.  It is a history of genius and innovation, sure.  But it is also a history of cliques, defending theories despite counter-evidence, and dead ends.  But these never make it into the textbooks, both because it would undermine the progressive, positivist narrative that is meant to attract new scientists to the discipline, and also because stories of dead ends don't help students learn current scientific theories.  Any history that includes successes but never failures is bound to look linear and progressive.[2]  Yet the effect, Kuhn thinks, is a picture of science that is pure science fiction.

According to Kuhn, most science--what he calls "normal science"--is not revolutionary.  That is, it doesn't set out to answer groundbreaking questions but to slightly extend our knowledge in some very limited domain.  Normal science doesn't question its foundations but, rather, works within a paradigm or large set of settled assumptions about its subject matter.[3]  Now, paradigms can sound very negative, because their job is to be settled and dogmatic, to force us to view nature in preconceived categories and rigidly indoctrinate students.  And this is indeed a major lesson of Kuhn's work.  However, the advantage of paradigms is that the scientist doesn't have to constantly justify her basic outlook but can treat some things as settled and dive deeper into nature on those assumptions.  Kuhn likens it to a settled judicial decision.[4]  In this way, real but limited progress is made.

But there are also periods of science where there is a sense of unease and dissatisfaction with the reigning paradigm.  Kuhn especially has in mind the growing unease with the increasingly baroque Ptolemaic model of the solar system.  In these revolutionary periods, fundamental assumptions are challenged.  

Importantly, this is not a dispassionate process by which the evidence is obvious to all and the best theory automatically wins out.  Kuhn's historical study revealed that new paradigms are created not by seasoned veterans of the field but by the young or those new to the field who haven't had their minds ossified by years of thinking in the old paradigm.[5]  Instead of convincing the old guard, advocates of the new paradigm simply attract more young scientists to their research program (e.g., they attract more graduate students with an exciting new way of thinking).  

And the minute the new paradigm wins out, say, the Copernican model, its rivals are ridiculed as "non-scientific."  The old guard is shunned, their work ignored.[6]  The revolution does not take place because the old guard become convinced by overwhelming evidence, see the light, and recant. (That is to say, the scientists do not actually behave scientifically, disinterestedly following the evidence wherever it leads.)  Rather, the revolution happens when they die off.  The historical record, he argues, challenges the positivist narrative of science as uniquely rational and automatically progressive.  Science isn't populated by Spock-like, neutral, open-minded observers following the evidence wherever it leads.  It is populated by actual humans.

Why Do We Invoke Darwin? (PHILIP L. SKELL, 8/28/05, The Scientist)

Darwin's theory of evolution offers a sweeping explanation of the history of life, from the earliest microscopic organisms billions of years ago to all the plants and animals around us today. Much of the evidence that might have established the theory on an unshakable empirical foundation, however, remains lost in the distant past. For instance, Darwin hoped we would discover transitional precursors to the animal forms that appear abruptly in the Cambrian strata. Since then we have found many ancient fossils – even exquisitely preserved soft-bodied creatures – but none are credible ancestors to the Cambrian animals.

Despite this and other difficulties, the modern form of Darwin's theory has been raised to its present high status because it's said to be the cornerstone of modern experimental biology. But is that correct? "While the great majority of biologists would probably agree with Theodosius Dobzhansky's dictum that 'nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution,' most can conduct their work quite happily without particular reference to evolutionary ideas," A.S. Wilkins, editor of the journal BioEssays, wrote in 2000 "Evolution would appear to be the indispensable unifying idea and, at the same time, a highly superfluous one."

I would tend to agree. Certainly, my own research with antibiotics during World War II received no guidance from insights provided by Darwinian evolution. Nor did Alexander Fleming's discovery of bacterial inhibition by penicillin. I recently asked more than 70 eminent researchers if they would have done their work differently if they had thought Darwin's theory was wrong. The responses were all the same: No.

I also examined the outstanding biodiscoveries of the past century: the discovery of the double helix; the characterization of the ribosome; the mapping of genomes; research on medications and drug reactions; improvements in food production and sanitation; the development of new surgeries; and others. I even queried biologists working in areas where one would expect the Darwinian paradigm to have most benefited research, such as the emergence of resistance to antibiotics and pesticides. Here, as elsewhere, I found that Darwin's theory had provided no discernible guidance, but was brought in, after the breakthroughs, as an interesting narrative gloss.

In the peer-reviewed literature, the word "evolution" often occurs as a sort of coda to academic papers in experimental biology. Is the term integral or superfluous to the substance of these papers? To find out, I substituted for "evolution" some other word – "Buddhism," "Aztec cosmology," or even "creationism." I found that the substitution never touched the paper's core. This did not surprise me. From my conversations with leading researchers it had became clear that modern experimental biology gains its strength from the availability of new instruments and methodologies, not from an immersion in historical biology.

Posted by orrinj at 6:02 PM


Whistleblower says top Trump appointees tried to censor reports on Russian influence (KYLE CHENEY, NATASHA BERTRAND and DANIEL LIPPMAN, 09/09/2020, Politico)

The report, filed by former senior DHS official Brian Murphy, alleges that acting secretary Chad Wolf, his predecessor Kirstjen Nielsen and other senior DHS brass engaged in "a repeated pattern of abuse of authority, attempted censorship of intelligence analysis and improper administration of an intelligence program related to Russian efforts to influence and undermine United States interests."

That pattern, Murphy alleged, stretched from March 2018 until last month.

The report describes a series of additional alleged abuses and legal violations by current and former leaders, including Nielsen, Wolf and an acting deputy, Ken Cuccinelli.

Murphy, who served as the Office of Intelligence and Analysis' undersecretary, filed the 24-page complaint on September 8, alleging that he was instructed to halt the assessments because they were making "the president look bad." The report was delivered by Murphy's attorney, Mark Zaid, to the Intelligence Committee on Tuesday.

Posted by orrinj at 12:27 PM


QAnon is a Nazi Cult, Rebranded (Gregory Stanton, September 9, 2020, Just Security)

A secret cabal is taking over the world. They kidnap children, slaughter, and eat them to gain power from their blood. They control high positions in government, banks, international finance, the news media, and the church. They want to disarm the police. They promote homosexuality and pedophilia. They plan to mongrelize the white race so it will lose its essential power.

Does this conspiracy theory sound familiar? It is. The same narrative has been repackaged by QAnon.

I have studied and worked to prevent genocide for forty years. Genocide Watch and the Alliance Against Genocide, the first international anti-genocide coalition, see such hate-filled conspiracy theories as early warning signs of deadly genocidal violence.

The plot, described above, was the conspiracy "revealed" in the most influential anti-Jewish pamphlet of all time. It was called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It was written by Russian anti-Jewish propagandists around 1902. It collected myths about a Jewish plot to take over the world that had existed for hundreds of years. Central to its mythology was the Blood Libel, which claimed that Jews kidnapped and slaughtered Christian children and drained their blood to mix in the dough for matzos consumed on Jewish holidays.

The Nazis published a children's book of the Protocols that they required in the curriculum of every primary school in Germany. The Nazi newspaper, Der Stürmer (derived from the German word for "Storm") spread the Blood Libel. Hitler's Mein Kampf, his narcissistic autobiography and manifesto for his battle against the Jewish plot to rule the world, copied his conspiracy theories from the Protocols.

The Nazis worshiped Adolf Hitler as the Leader who would rescue the white race from this secret Jewish plot. Nazi "storm troopers" ("storm detachment" - Sturmabteilung) helped bring Hitler to power. Nazi Germany went on to conquer Europe and murder six million Jews and millions of Roma, Slavs, LGBTQ and other people.

America had its own dark side. Henry Ford echoed Nazi hatred of Jews and had 500,000 copies of the Protocols printed and distributed in the U.S. Father Coughlin preached the Protocols on national radio. The Ku Klux Klan combined its white supremacist racism with hatred of Jews.

QAnon's conspiracy theory is a rebranded version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Posted by orrinj at 12:19 PM


'Play it down': Trump admits to concealing the true threat of coronavirus in new Woodward book (Jamie Gangel, Jeremy Herb and Elizabeth Stuart, d September 9, 2020, CNN)

President Donald Trump admitted he knew weeks before the first confirmed US coronavirus death that the virus was dangerous, airborne, highly contagious and "more deadly than even your strenuous flus," and that he repeatedly played it down publicly, according to legendary journalist Bob Woodward in his new book "Rage."

"This is deadly stuff," Trump told Woodward on February 7.

In a series of interviews with Woodward, Trump revealed that he had a surprising level of detail about the threat of the virus earlier than previously known. "Pretty amazing," Trump told Woodward, adding that the coronavirus was maybe five times "more deadly" than the flu.

Trump's admissions are in stark contrast to his frequent public comments at the time insisting that the virus was "going to disappear" and "all work out fine."

The book, using Trump's own words, depicts a President who has betrayed the public trust and the most fundamental responsibilities of his office.

The notion of Donald understanding anything strains credulity.

Posted by orrinj at 12:13 PM


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Trump's contempt for the military reveals his fatuous, bloated ego -- and could finish him off (HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, SEPTEMBER 9, 2020, Salon)

Just to recap briefly, Trump has allegedly referred to soldiers as "losers" and "suckers" for joining the military in the first place, and for having the poor judgment to die in battle when they could have been making money instead. Indeed, he's reported to have remarked to former White House chief of staff and retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, "I don't get it. What was in it for them?" He said this at Arlington National Cemetery at the gravesite of Kelly's son, a Marine who died in Afghanistan.

Trump also reportedly had a temper tantrum during his 2018 visit to France over something that President Emmanuel Macron said (probably his denunciation of "nationalism") and refused to attend a ceremony honoring the U.S. Marines who died in the World War I battle of Belleau Wood. Then the president reportedly proceeded to strip the home of the U.S. ambassador to Paris of every piece of artwork that took his fancy to display in the White House. And he really, really didn't want to acknowledge the late Sen. John McCain's funeral.

These anecdotes and more have been confirmed by The Associated Press, the Washington Post and the New York Times among others, including Fox News. Trump has denied them in a flurry of desperate-sounding tweets, even as he continued to denigrate McCain, making it clearer than ever that the claims were true. Nobody can claim that these sorts of insults "just don't sound like something he'd say," even as numerous of his current and former henchmen and sycophants stepped forward to say just that.

We've all seen the video of his nasty insult toward John McCain in 2015:

And we have recently been reminded that he said the same thing 16 years earlier when he was interviewed by Dan Rather, so that insult wasn't just issued in a fit of pique over something McCain said in 2015. He has clearly believed for a long time that a naval pilot who gets himself shot down is no hero.

On Monday, Trump held another of his campaign "briefings" at the White House in which he inexplicably added yet another insult to the litany:

I'm not saying the military's in love with me -- the soldiers are, the top people in the Pentagon probably aren't because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy.

According to a recent poll of the military, even before this latest flap, while it's true that officers dislike him even more than enlisted personnel, the latter aren't "in love" with him either...

Posted by orrinj at 5:41 AM


'I'll have to say it's total bull***t': How political sources play the anonymity game (Tom DeFrank, 9/09/20, NATIONALJOURNAL)

Being hammered for relying on anonymous sources is the price that reporters are often willing to pay to obtain vital information that otherwise would never be printed.

As Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg, the author of the piece, has noted, "these are people who are not anonymous to me." On the other side of the ledger, even some of the most ardent Trump defenders furiously insisting that Goldberg's anecdotes "never happened" frequently play the very same game when it suits their interests.

A personal example: In the spring of 1987, I interviewed Texas businessman George W. Bush in Dallas for Newsweek's 1988 special election project, to be published only 36 hours after the presidential victor had been determined.

Our ground rules for the interview--the first of many over the next 18 months, and again in 1992--were that I could use everything he told me but couldn't identify him as the source. In other words, we were on background, a staple of the journalistic trade.

The man formerly known as "Junior," who later became "Bush 43," was amazingly helpful, dishing the sort of inside-baseball detail and real-time dialogue that reporters dream about. He was totally fearless in analyzing the campaign; after all, he answered to only one official, his father, who'd recently introduced us at a White House reception and encouraged him to cooperate. And none of the anonymous reporting would be public until after the polls had closed.

After an unusually productive interview, I gratefully thanked him for his candor. "Now, let me ask YOU a question," he said with a smirk. "When this thing comes out I'll probably be asked about some of this stuff. I'll have to say it's total [*****]. Are you gonna have a problem with that?"

I assured him that wouldn't be bothersome. Sources often deny inconvenient truths on the record that they've leaked on background.

In more than a half-century as a Washington correspondent, in fact, the very people who gave me my information often later tried to debunk my reporting publicly. Among them were presidents, vice presidents, Cabinet officers, high-ranking government officials, and four-star generals. I've sat in briefings, trying to suppress a smile, as my very source denounced my story.

That's the way it works. As a White House chief of staff once told me, "I'm not talking about this story, but if you run it on Monday you won't look stupid." But when asked about the article, he was able to tell associates he hadn't commented.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


White supremacy is 'most lethal threat' to the US, DHS draft assessment says (Geneva Sands, September 8, 2020, CNN)

White supremacists will remain the most "persistent and lethal threat" in the United States through 2021, according to Department of Homeland Security draft documents.

The most recent draft report predicts an "elevated threat environment at least through" early next year, concluding that some US-based violent extremists have capitalized on increased social and political tensions in 2020.

Although foreign terrorist organizations will continue to call for attacks on the US, the report says, they "probably will remain constrained in their ability to direct such plots over the next year."

The threat assessment -- which also warns of continued disinformation efforts by Russia -- is especially notable as President Donald Trump has often employed race-baiting tactics in his quest for reelection and frequently downplayed the threat from white supremacists during his term in office. The Trump administration has portrayed Antifa and anarchists as a top threat to the US, with the President tweeting this summer that the US will designate Antifa as a terrorist organization.

The recently released draft reports, which were made public by Lawfare Editor in Chief Benjamin Wittes and first reported by Politico, assess a host of threats, including cyber, foreign influence and irregular migration.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


'A new low': CNN's Elie Honig buries DOJ's 'grotesque' defense of Trump in civil defamation lawsuit (Brad Reed , 9/09/20, Raw Story)

"This is just a new low, and a particularly grotesque one," he said.

Honig went on to explain that the DOJ will typically step in to defend the president if he is sued for something he does as part of his official duties as president.

However, he said that Barr appears to have expanded the scope of the DOJ's defense of the president to include actions that have traditionally been outside the scope of official duties.

"What Bill Barr and the DOJ and the president have decided is getting accused of rape, denying that rape, attacking the accuser, and getting sued, that's just part of the job of being president," he said. "And as a result, John, as you said, guess who's picking up the tab? All of our viewers, you, Alisyn, me, this one's on the taxpayers now."

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Biden leads in six 2020 swing states as Trump sees no convention bounce (Jacob Pramuk, 9/09/20, CNBC)

Biden holds at least a narrow lead in all six of the states, which will play a major role in determining who wins the White House on Nov. 3. Here is where the race stands in all of those states, and how it has changed from the last survey: 

Arizona: Biden 49%, Trump 45% (was Biden 49%, Trump 47%) 

Florida: Biden 49%, Trump 46% (unchanged)

Michigan: Biden 49%, Trump 43% (was Biden 50%, Trump 44%) 

North Carolina: Biden 49%, Trump 47% (was Biden 48%, Trump 47%)

Pennsylvania: Biden 50%, Trump 46% (was Biden 49%, Trump 46%)

Wisconsin: Biden 50%, Trump 44% (was Biden 49%, Trump 44%)

The poll, taken Friday through Sunday, surveyed 4,143 likely voters across the six states and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.4 percentage points.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


GOP senator apologizes after a staffer is caught on tape saying what Republicans actually believe on health care (Cody Fenwick, 9/08/20, AlterNet)

As first reported by WRAL, Bev Veals of Carolina Beach, a three-time cancer survivor, called her senator out of fear that her health insurance was at risk. She has previously faced medical bankruptcy and difficulty accessing care, WRAL said, and her husband was furloughed because of the pandemic. She wanted assurance that she'd have coverage if she lost her health insurance.

But Tillis's office wasn't helpful. While speaking to a dismissive staffer, Veals began to record their conversation, which was provided to WRAL and can be viewed above.

Defend democracy. Click to invest in courageous progressive journalism today.
"You're saying that, if you can't afford it, you don't get to have it?" she asked. "That includes health care?"

"Yeah, just like if I want to go to the store and buy a new dress shirt. If I can't afford that dress shirt, I don't get to get it," the staffer explained.

"But health care is something that people need!" Veals said, clearly alarmed. "Especially if they have cancer."

"Well, you got to find a way to get it," the staffer said.

"So what do I do in the meantime, sir?" she asked, not hiding the irritation in her voice.

The response was snide: "Sounds like something you're going to have to figure it out."

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American Airlines Just Revealed a Brutal Truth. (BILL MURPHY JR., , 9/9/20, Inc)

There's a story I heard when I was writing a book about Harvard Business School.

It goes like this. A student at an elite college is upset a school policy. 

He complains to a dean: "What kind of a business treats its paying customers like this?"

The dean replies: "That's where you're mixed up. You're not the customer. You're the product."

I thought of this recently when I heard what American Airlines is saying about the passengers who are now flying -- and who it will need to attract to survive in the post-coronavirus world. [...]

The problem is that since the pandemic, there simply aren't as many business travelers anymore. Top airlines' revenue and passenger levels fell sharply -- to the point that American Airlines plans to cut 40,000 jobs (including voluntary separations), and United Airlines says it will furlough 19,000 employees on October 1. the extent he has killed the office (thus the commute) and air travel.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Top GOP election lawyer slams Trump's vote fraud claims, says the GOP searched fruitlessly for decades (Peter Weber, 9/08/20, The Week)

"The truth is that after decades of looking for illegal voting, there's no proof of widespread fraud," he concedes. "At most, there are isolated incidents -- by both Democrats and Republicans. Elections are not rigged."

"These are painful conclusions for me to reach," Ginsberg adds, setting out an overview of his "38 years in the GOP's legal trenches," including serving as counsel to the Republican National Committee and six of the last four GOP presidential nominees.

Each Election Day since 1984, I've been in precincts looking for voting violations, or in Washington helping run the nationwide GOP Election Day operations, overseeing the thousands of Republican lawyers and operatives each election on alert for voting fraud. In every election, Republicans have been in polling places and vote tabulation centers. Republican lawyers in every state have been able to examine mail-in/absentee ballot programs. [Benjamin Ginsberg, The Washington Post]

The GOP lawyers and conservative activists found only a "minuscule" amount of fraud, mail-in or otherwise, and despite looking, Trump's 2016 campaign "could produce no hard evidence of systemic fraud," Ginsberg writes. Trump even put "the most vociferous hunters of Democratic election fraud" in charge of presidential commission on "election integrity," he notes, and "it disbanded without finding anything." 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Trumpkins Are Losing Their Mind Over Occupy Wall Street's Faux Plans for a White House 'Siege' (Will Sommer, Sep. 09, 2020, Daily Beast)

Far-right blog The Gateway Pundit has described the protest with the headline  "Democrat Supported Marxist Group Plans Siege on White House," while right-wing blog Big League Politics called for its organizers to be tried "under federal RICO laws or under the federal War on Terror."

"I'm wondering if this is going to be a distraction from an even more diabolical plot to overthrow the government," nationally syndicated talk radio host Clyde Lewis warned his listeners in August. 

Defamation lawyer Lin Wood, who has represented former Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann in lawsuits against media outlets, may have gone furthest of all. To defend the White House against the "siege," Wood called for a siege of sorts himself: a government blockade of Washington, D.C., and citywide identification checks to ensure that protesters can't show up.

"Shut down all movement into & out of DC," Wood tweeted. "Require strict ID for critical officials & tell rest to stay home."