September 12, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 5:16 PM


'Loser in chief' Trump trolled by columnist for his 'gratifyingly dismal' record in the courts (Tom Boggioni, 9/12/20, Raw Story)

"These are not your previous Republican presidents' very conservative judges. Elliot Mincberg of the liberal group People for the American Way has identified more than 100 cases in which the position of Trump judges was so extreme that judges nominated by previous Republican presidents broke with them," Marcus wrote before adding, "But notwithstanding these eager foot soldiers in the conservative legal battle, the administration's record in the federal courts remains gratifyingly dismal."

According to political scientist Lee Epstein and law professor Eric Posner, when it comes to the Supreme Court the president, "has prevailed only 47 percent of the time ... a worse record than that of his predecessors going back at least as far as Franklin D. Roosevelt."

Trump fares even worse at the lower court level, Marcus explained.

"The New York University School of Law's Institute for Policy Integrity has calculated that just 14 percent of the Trump administration's regulatory actions were upheld against challenges in the lower courts -- the rest were blocked or withdrawn. Trump's recent predecessors have tended to win on regulatory matters at least 60 percent of the time," she wrote before returning to Trump's census case smackdown.

They are conservative; Donald is not.

Posted by orrinj at 1:32 PM


Posted by orrinj at 1:29 PM


Dakotas lead US in virus growth as both reject mask rules (STEPHEN GROVES and DAVE KOLPACK, 9/12/20,  Associated Press)

North Dakota and South Dakota lead the country in new cases per capita over the last two weeks, ranking first and second respectively, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers.

The states have also posted some of the country's highest positivity rates for COVID-19 tests in the last week -- nearly 22 percent in North Dakota -- an indication that there are more infections than tests are catching.

Infections have been spurred by schools and universities reopening and mass gatherings like the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which drew hundreds of thousands of people from across the country.

"It is not a surprise that South Dakota has one of the highest (COVID-19) reproduction rates in the country," Brookings City Council member Nick Wendell said as he commented on the many people who forgo masks in public.

The Republican governors of both states have eschewed mask requirements, tapping into a spirit of independence hewn from enduring the winters and storms of the Great Plains. [...]

Noem, who has yet to appear at a public event with a mask, carved out a reputation as a staunch conservative when she defied calls early in the pandemic for lockdown orders.

But both governors face increasing pressure to step up their approach. North Dakota's average rate of test positivity has been nearly 22% over the last seven days, according to the the COVID Tracking Project; South Dakota's has been 17%.

Posted by orrinj at 11:48 AM


Dannehy Resignation Confirms Barr's Intent to Use Durham Probe for Political Ends (Liam Brennan, September 12, 2020, Just Security)

In the months leading up to Dannehy's resignation, Barr started making public statements strongly hinting that he might release a report on Durham's investigation before the 2020 election. The DOJ has longstanding norms against taking actions that may affect the outcome of an election. But Barr has erroneously reframed those norms and stated that Durham's activity falls outside of them. Dannehy's reported concern that there was pressure from Barr to release a report before the election makes the attorney general's actions appear to be what skeptics always feared they were - naked partisan ploys.

But the attorney general's partisan machinations are not the only take away from Dannehy's resignation. As former federal prosecutor Daniel Goodman first noted, DOJ prosecutors rarely resign in protest. Not only has Dannehy resigned, but all four of the prosecutors resigned from the case of Trump associate, Roger Stone,  after Barr intervened; one, like Dannehy, resigned completely from the DOJ (which freed him up to write an op-ed about the episode). The lead prosecutor in the case against Trump's first national security advisor, Michael Flynn, also withdrew after Barr's intervention. Moreover, the fact that Dannehy's colleagues are discussing her motivations with the press is indicative of the unrest in the Justice Department. Line federal prosecutors do not speak to reporters without authorization. It is against DOJ policy and their culture. Each individual action is surprising; taken together, they are wholly unprecedented.

Posted by orrinj at 11:16 AM


Trump lied about science (H. Holden Thorp, Science  11 Sep 2020)

This may be the most shameful moment in the history of U.S. science policy.

In an interview with Woodward on 7 February 2020, Trump said he knew that COVID-19 was more lethal than the flu and that it spread through the air. "This is deadly stuff," he said. But on 9 March, he tweeted that the "common flu" was worse than COVID-19, while economic advisor Larry Kudlow and presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway assured the public that the virus was contained. On 19 March, Trump told Woodward that he did not want to level with the American people about the danger of the virus. "I wanted to always play it down," he said, "I still like playing it down." Playing it down meant lying about the fact that he knew the country was in grave danger.

It also meant silencing health officials who tried to tell the truth. On 25 February, Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), said, "It's not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness." She was right and Trump knew it. But he shut her down. He also tried to control messaging from Anthony Fauci, the nation's foremost leader on infectious diseases. Trump's supporters insisted that Fauci and Messonnier were not being muzzled, but now we have clear evidence in emails that they were.

Trump also knew that the virus could be deadly for young people. "It's not just old, older," he told Woodward on 19 March. "Young people, too, plenty of young people." Yet, he has insisted that schools and universities reopen and that college football should resume. He recently added to his advisory team Scott Atlas--a neuroradiologist with no expertise in epidemiology--who has advocated for a risky and misguided course: somehow isolating the older and more vulnerable while allowing the virus free rein among young people. The opening of colleges and schools has accelerated the spread of the virus and will mean untold suffering among both students and the people to whom they are now spreading the virus. [...]

They have seen neither quality exhibited by their president and his coconspirators. Trump was not clueless, and he was not ignoring the briefings. Listen to his own words. Trump lied, plain and simple.

Donald thought your death could help him.

Posted by orrinj at 10:12 AM


Toots Hibbert's pure, powerful voice carried reggae to the world: By blending gospel and R&B into nascent reggae music, the late singer became a cornerstone of Jamaican culture alongside his peer Bob Marley (Alexis Petridis,  12 Sep 2020, The Guardian)

The Maytals had cut a swathe through Jamaican music in the 1960s and early 70s, releasing a succession of fantastic singles - Sweet and Dandy, Pressure Drop, Monkey Man, 54-46 That's My Number (later re-recorded as 54-46 Was My Number) and more - that had made them the country's biggest band. They had effectively named the genre they worked in with 1968's Do the Reggae. They had two songs on the soundtrack of The Harder They Come, the first reggae album to make commercial inroads in the US, and a great album of their own, Funky Kingston, in 1972. If Bob Marley stole their thunder, and he undoubtedly did, then it was as much about canny marketing as it was about the standard of their music - the way Island Records boss Chris Blackwell sweetened the Wailers' sound with British and American session musicians, or packaged Catch a Fire (1973) more like a progressive rock album than a product of Kingston.

Toots and the Maytals started life as the Vikings, with some of the singles they made after changing their name to the Maytals released as the Vikings or the Flames; their frontman-boosting shift in the late 60s to Toots and the Maytals was pre-empted by the fact that they'd already randomly deployed that name since 1965.

What never varied was the quality of their releases: tight harmonies and Hibbert's powerful lead, both of which increasingly demonstrated the influence of American R&B. While the Wailers' American guiding light was Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions, the Maytals seemed to be looking further south. There was a distinct hint of gospel about the harmonies, while, in a certain light, Hibbert's voice seemed not unlike that of Otis Redding.

Posted by orrinj at 9:30 AM


New Polling Confirms Americans Welcome Immigrants More Than Ever (Gabe Ortiz, September 12 | 2020, AlterNet)

"In 2016 voters were about evenly divided in the share saying that the growing number of newcomers strengthens American society," Pew said, finding that 46 percent of all voters agreed with the statement. Four years later, that number has now surged to 60 percent. Americans "across the political spectrum have shifted in a more liberal direction in this domain," researchers said.

Previous polling has similarly found that as the impeached president has spent years pushing horrible anti-immigrant policy after horrible anti-immigrant policy, Americans have been viewing immigration more and more favorably--and sometimes in historic numbers.

Gallup this past summer found that 34 percent of Americans wanted to see more immigrants welcomed to the U.S., "the highest support for expanding immigration Gallup has found in its trend since 1965," the organization said. "Meanwhile, the percentage favoring decreased immigration has fallen to a new low of 28 percent, while 36 percent think it should stay at the present level."

"This marks the first time in Gallup's trend that the percentage wanting increased immigration has exceeded the percentage who want decreased immigration," Gallup noted.

"Supporters of both major party candidates this year are more likely than 2016 supporters to have positive views of immigrants to the United States," Pew found.

Everyone wants Donald's old white men Replaced.

Posted by orrinj at 7:39 AM


Posted by orrinj at 7:27 AM


Catalonia and Spain Are Reaching the Breaking Point: The time to halt escalation was ten years ago. What might happen now? (Nick Ottens, 9/12/20, National Interest)

There are good reasons for Catalonia to become independent. This region of Spain, with a population of 7.5 million, has its own language and traditions. It has a long history of semi-detachment from the rest of the peninsula. The County of Barcelona was created in 801 by the Carolingians, when they pushed the Moors south. Barcelona joined the Kingdom of Aragon in 1137, which in turn merged with Castille to form Spain in 1479. Catalonia retained its autonomy until the War of the Spanish Succession, when it backed the losing pretender. Self-government was briefly restored in the 1930s, but Catalan nationalism was brutally suppressed by Francisco Franco, who went so far as to ban the Catalan language.

Yet those arguments seldom come up when I ask supporters of independence why they want to leave Spain. The first thing they usually mention is that Catalonia pays more into the Spanish treasury than it takes out.

Which is true, but not unusual. Bavaria is richer than other German states. California and New York pay more money to Washington DC than they get back. The Paris region accounts for almost a third of French economic output. Holland subsidizes the rest of the Netherlands.

Americans, Germans, the French and the Dutch accept those differences, because they feel part of one nation. Catalans and Spaniards don't.

California will similarly shear off eventually.  

Posted by orrinj at 7:15 AM


Voters have made up their minds (Neal Rothschild, 9/12/20, Axios)

A wealth of evidence suggests more Americans have made up their minds by this point compared with years past:

The conventions had practically no impact on the shape of the race: Biden's national polling lead (+7.5 per FiveThirtyEight's average of polls) is just a half-point smaller than it was a month ago.

Just 3% of likely voters said they didn't know who they'd vote for in a recent national Quinnipiac poll. The same percent of registered voters said they were undecided in a Monmouth poll this week.

An August poll by the Pew Research Center found that among those who preferred Biden or Trump, just 5% said there was a chance they'd change their minds.

Compare that to Pew's poll in August 2016, which found that 8% of Hillary Clinton's supporters said there was a chance they might vote for Trump. Similarly, for those who preferred Trump, 8% said they might vote for Clinton.

Even in the swingiest of swing states, most people's minds appear made up. Just 5% of Floridians say they might change their minds, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll.

The big picture: Trump's approval rating has held remarkably steady in the low 40s despite his impeachment, a pandemic, a trade war, rule-of-law crises, an endless barrage of damaging reporting and national reckonings on sexual assault, guns, immigration and race.

The election is just a test of his floor.

Posted by orrinj at 7:00 AM


Trump officials interfered with CDC reports on Covid-19 (DAN DIAMOND, 09/11/2020, Politico)

The health department's politically appointed communications aides have demanded the right to review and seek changes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's weekly scientific reports charting the progress of the coronavirus pandemic, in what officials characterized as an attempt to intimidate the reports' authors and water down their communications to health professionals.

In some cases, emails from communications aides to CDC Director Robert Redfield and other senior officials openly complained that the agency's reports would undermine President Donald Trump's optimistic messages about the outbreak, according to emails reviewed by POLITICO and three people familiar with the situation.

CDC officials have fought back against the most sweeping changes, but have increasingly agreed to allow the political officials to review the reports and, in a few cases, compromised on the wording, according to three people familiar with the exchanges. The communications aides' efforts to change the language in the CDC's reports have been constant across the summer and continued as recently as Friday afternoon.

The CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports are 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. Such reports have historically been published with little fanfare and no political interference, said several longtime health department officials, and have been viewed as a cornerstone of the nation's public health work for decades.

But since Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign official with no medical or scientific background, was installed in April as the health department's new spokesperson, there have been substantial efforts to align the reports with Trump's statements, including the president's claims that fears about the outbreak are overstated, or stop the reports altogether.

Caputo and his team have attempted to add caveats to the CDC's findings, including an effort to retroactively change agency reports that they said wrongly inflated the risks of Covid-19 and should have made clear that Americans sickened by the virus may have been infected because of their own behavior, according to the individuals familiar with the situation and emails reviewed by POLITICO.

Caputo's team also has tried to halt the release of some CDC reports, including delaying a report that addressed how doctors were prescribing hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug favored by Trump as a coronavirus treatment despite scant evidence. The report, which was held for about a month after Caputo's team raised questions about its authors' political leanings, was finally published last week. It said that "the potential benefits of these drugs do not outweigh their risks."

...Donald is also just as hellbent on killing Americans.

Posted by orrinj at 6:52 AM


Dated 1920, a Postcard Finally Gets Delivered (Johnny Diaz, Sept. 11, 2020, NY Times)

The postcard, faded and weathered, has a postmark dated Oct. 29, 1920, and a green stamp of George Washington, priced 1 cent.

Its message is written in cursive, its front shows a witch and a goose wearing a pumpkin on its head, and its address is to a Mrs. Roy McQueen in Belding, Mich. It took almost a century to be delivered.

The postcard's arrival this week has baffled Brittany Keech, the Belding resident who found it in her mailbox with some bills and junk mail, and set her off on a new mystery -- how to find the intended recipient, or any of the person's living relatives.

"When I first saw it, I thought, 'This is old,'" recalled Ms. Keech, 30, in an interview Thursday. "I was shocked. Why is this here all of the sudden?"

She added, "I would love to be able to get it to a relative who is alive."

The postcard is a personal family letter, providing the kind of quick update one might send in a text message or in a social media post today. It has a Halloween theme, featuring the gray-haired witch, the goose, an owl, a bat and cat with a broom. It also has a pun: "'Witch' would you rather be ... a goose or a pumpkin head?"

...Kris Kobach said this shows that when the mail-in ballots finally get delivered Donald will have beaten Hillary.