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June 30, 2020

Hal Brown's blog

 Website slow, click here because a quirk of this website is that it opens a much longer webpage than it should  This is a blog with my own opinion plus new stories that piqued my interest. A few of them are from websites you are unlikely to read. I hope they interest you too.... Now covering stories about Hong Kong and China.

July 9, 2020

Click above to enlarge

Twitter has a spell check:

Trump may want to "move on" from the virus, but alas for him, the virus doesn't care what you think. It's going to stick around and keep doing it's thing, especially when confronted with spineless policy-makers beholden to a president who can't sustain the attention needed to mount a real, long-term strategy to control or defeat the virus. 
A similar phenomenon is playing out with the Black Lives Matter protests. In this case, the story has been sustained by the concentrated efforts of activists across the country, who have kept the protests up, day after day for weeks now, making it impossible for Trump to move on, even if he wanted to. 
The wild part about this, however, is that Trump doesn't even seem to want to move on. The same deep psychological damage that has allowed him to hijack the news cycle with his tantrums and impulsive tweets has also made it impossible for him to pivot away from the BLM protests. He's both a racist and a cable news addict, and as such, he can't help but keep on reacting to the protests and — being a glutton for attention — doing everything in his power to thrust himself center stage.  

Democrats increasingly worry Trump will push out dangerous COVID-19 vaccine as ‘October surprise’


 Not even waiting for Chapter 1 to depict her uncle Donald as a sociopath whose family has grown cynical of his public illusions, the clinical psychologist Mary Trump prefaces her memoir with a scene from the 2016 campaign trail.
“Does anybody even believe the bullshit that he’s a self-made man?” Mary Trump recalls asking one of the future president’s sisters. “What has he even accomplished on his own?”
The reply from Maryanne Barry, a former federal judge, is cutting: “‘Well,’ Maryanne said, as dry as the Sahara, ‘he has had five bankruptcies.’”

July 8, 2020

Tucker Carlson Accused Of Echoing White Supremacist Talking Points On Fox News \\\\\\\\\\

Related: Tucker Carlson Calls Combat Veteran Tammy Duckworth A ‘Coward’ For Not Debating Him 

Facebook Audit Reveals ‘Deeply Troubling’ And ‘Weaponized’ Platform, Zuckerberg in Trump's pocket

While auditors applauded the company for a “number of positive and consequential steps,” they warned that progress is being undone by other “vexing and heartbreaking decisions,” effectively setting Facebook on a “seesaw of progress and setbacks.”
One example: failing to act on a series of recent posts by President Donald Trump in which he labeled protesters as “THUGS” and said that “looting” leads to “shooting.” The posts were left up after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke with Trump and claimed, despite evidence to the contrary, that they didn’t incite violence and therefore didn’t violate company rules.
After Facebook’s inaction on the Trump posts, other politicians and businesses ran ads with similar language, advocating that armed vigilante citizens shoot “looters” and “ANTIFA terrorists.” Even though the ads violated the platform’s rules, they weren’t flagged by the company and received more than 200,000 impressions before they were brought to Facebook’s attention and removed.
In addition to carving out problematic exceptions for the president, the report found Facebook is generally “far too reluctant to adopt strong rules to limit misinformation and voter suppression,” effectively “weaponizing” the platform to suppress voting.
“With less than five months before a presidential election,” the report said, “it confounds the auditors as to why Facebook has failed to grasp the urgency.”

Oregon News

July 7, 2020

From The Washington Post review of Mary Trump's book:

For her uncle Donald, however, “lying was primarily a mode of self-aggrandizement meant to convince other people he was better than he actually was,” Trump writes.
Mary wrote that her father had a “natural sense of humor, sense of adventure, and sensitivity,” which he worked hard to hide from the family patriarch.
“Softness was unthinkable in his namesake,” she writes.
“Fred [Sr.] hated it when his oldest son screwed up or failed to intuit what was required of him, but he hated it even more when, after being taken to task, Freddy [Fred Jr.] apologized. ‘Sorry, Dad,’” Mary wrote of the way her grandfather treated her father, known as Freddy. Fred Sr. “would mock him. Fred wanted his oldest son to be a ‘killer.’”
Donald, seven-and-a-half years younger than his brother, “had plenty of time to learn from watching Fred humiliate” his eldest son, Mary Trump wrote.
“The lesson he learned, at its simplest, was that it was wrong to be like Freddy: Fred didn’t respect his oldest son, so neither would Donald.”
Donald delighted in tormenting his younger brother Robert, whom he perceived as weaker, Mary Trump writes. Donald repeatedly hid his brother’s favorite toys, a set of Tonka trucks he received for Christmas, and pretended he didn’t know where they had gone. When Robert threw a tantrum, “Donald threatened to dismantle the trucks in front of him if he didn’t stop crying.”

Among other things, Mary Trump claims that Fred Trump, Sr. limited his son’s “access to his own feelings and rendering many of them unacceptable,” which she said “perverted his son’s perception of the world and damaged his ability to live in it.”
“That’s what sociopaths do: they co-opt others and use them toward their own ends — ruthlessly and efficiently, with no tolerance for dissent or resistance,” she added.

July 6, 2020

These are times of pain, mass death, fear and deprivation and the Trump show may be losing its allure, exposing the empty space once filled by the empathy and seriousness of presidents leading in a crisis................“You’re never going to come out a major natural disaster unscathed but you can mitigate the damage by an empathetic response that describes the path out of this. That’s what Trump is literally incapable of doing.”

July 5, 2020

COVID-19 NEWS: Elegant but unproven, RNA experiments leap to the front in coronavirus vaccine race. Will they work?

Trump and his lackeys are too delusional to turn around their flailing campaign

My comment:

I have thought of this many times:
When pundits point out that with four months to go until Election Day, it isn’t too late for Trump to turn his campaign around, what they’re really saying is that there’s sufficient time left on the calendar for a candidate who grasped why he or she was losing to change course and abandon a clearly failing strategy.

Trump’s malignant narcissism makes that impossible. Unable to grasp that he lucked into the White House as a result of a perfect storm of factors despite being the most unpopular candidate in history, Trump is convinced that his ugly demagoguery was a stroke of political genius, and is now doubling down on the bigotry in the belief that he might finally score a win in the culture wars even as the public is trending away from his side of the conflict.
As a therapist who has written about Trump's psychopathology and labeled him a malignant narcissist I have concluded as you have that he can't alter his strategy because, like the Scorpion and the Frog story, it is in his nature to sting the frog even though it means both he and the frog will die.

Trump secretly hates being president by Farron Cousins.

EXCERPT: Maybe sometimes it’s better to just take the loss and move on, but his ego won’t let him do that. His ego, I mean, this, this pathological narcissism is forcing him to do this thing that his conscious brain at this point understands he doesn’t want to do anymore. He doesn’t want to be this, but his compulsion is what is forcing him to do this. When you think about it, when you get down into the psychological level of it here, it’s almost sympathetic, almost sympathetic, uh, rest assured I have no sympathy for this man, but there is something pathological about this.
Like something very diagnosable by somebody in this field. In fact, by lots of somebodies in this field, because we have been told these things by dr. Bandy Lee from Yale and all of the other mental health professionals, uh, who contributed to the book that she put together. They have been telling us this for a very long time. The president doesn’t want to do this. He wanted the prestige, he wanted the power. He wanted the title. He wanted the desk, but that’s it. He didn’t want the responsibility. He didn’t want the scrutiny, but his, his desperate desire to be the best to be at the top to be loved, which yes, folks, those are clinical characteristics of the narcissism that forced him to do this and has forced him since then to stay in this position that he hates.
If he had done anything in his life that showed that he was even capable of empathy. I would have some sympathy for him, but I do not. The man in addition to his pathological narcissism is a pathological liar. The man is borderline psychopathic with his treatment of other human beings. You can be a narcissist, but still be capable of caring for other people. From time to time, Trump has shown that he can’t do that. So I don’t care if he hates his job. And I don’t care if he’s afraid of losing, because I hope he does lose. And I hope he loses the job he hates. So then he can do what he loves, spend the rest of his life every single day, whining on Twitter, about how he was such, such a victim treated so unfairly for the four years that he was in his own brain. The best president this country’s ever seen.

July 4th

In the Trump era the f-word is beginning to appear in headlines: America Is Done With Trump and Stupid Cruel Tough Guy Acts

As stubborn older American men cling to the belief that their brand of Fuck You masculinity isn’t a ridiculous failure, the Get This Guy The Hell Out Of Here coalition is growing.

Trump has gone from ‘merely losing’ to ‘flailing’ in one month as he faces a November election wipeout

Trump’s a traitor — and the Russian bounty scandal is the final straw

EXCERPTS: The first story of the rest of Donald Trump's life was published last Friday in the New York Times, revealing that the Russian intelligence agency known as the GRU has been paying bonuses to Taliban fighters to kill Americans, and that this intelligence had been reported to Trump and had been known at least since March. The story was subsequently confirmed by the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the AP.

But at least as interesting as the facts in the story was this gem a few paragraphs down: "Spokespeople at the National Security Council, the Pentagon, the State Department and the C.I.A. declined to comment," the Times reported, pretty much giving us a list of who in government wants Donald Trump out of office. Remember that old saying, "When they tell you it's not about sex, it's about sex." Well, when newspapers tell you who refuses to comment on a story, they're telling you who leaked the story to them in the first place and hinting strongly at their motive. 
It's getting serious out there, folks. The word "treason," as in giving aid and comfort to the enemy, is being thrown around not only on op-ed pages but in Congress. This may turn into yet another Ukraine aid scandal, in which Trump commits impeachable offenses and simply gets away with it because Republicans refuse to confront his treachery, let alone  do anything about it. 
But he's surrounded by people in important, powerful positions who are privy to big, important secrets, and they want him out of office. With their leaks about the Russian bounties, they have in effect put a bounty on Trump's head. He has been wounded by the coronavirus, he's wounded by the economy, he's wounded by Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the streets and he's getting grievously wounded by this. 

You know he's desperate when he starts calling a real threat to the lives of our soldiers fighting on foreign soil a "hoax." Trump is a threat to our national security. He's not a president. He's a co-conspirator with dictators who are enemies of this country. He's a traitor, and he needs to go

 This Kos story, worth quoting, is not by me. 

EXCERPT: I'm genuinely confused, however, as to how anyone could seriously think anyone in the Trump administration, and especially Trump and Pence themselves, would be even slightly interested in "reassessing" their policy encouraging religious services to be held without proper safety precautions just because worshippers were getting sick and dying. They do not care. They have given zero indication that they care. They insisted on reopening churches because they believed their evangelical base would reward them for it, and what happens to any member of that base is of absolutely no interest to Mike Pence, man of Jesus, or Donald Trump, man of Himself Alone.
What sort of delusional insanity could possibly convince anyone otherwise? What evidence?
Here is what will happen if evangelical Trump supporters begin to die in large numbers: Trump and Pence will blame immigrants. Or minorities. Or the press for reporting it. Or Democrats for no reason whatsoever. Or bears, or wild boars, or Crayola crayons, or anarchists, or the harvesting of fall crops. It does not matter, because they do not care. If public officials urge churches to take basic safety precautious even as the pandemic explodes in Arizona, Florida, and Texas, Trump and Pence will attack those public officials for suggesting it.
Donald Trump is incompetent, delusional, and sincerely does not care how many more Americans after the first 125,000 might die. Mike Pence is a cultish pseudo-Christian whose faith is microns deep; the rest of him is filled with glassy-eyed ambition. Stop thinking anything but the absolute worst about either of them: Not once, not even onetime during the last four years, has either of them done anything but the absolute worst they could do.
Trump has made mask-wearing and other basic precautions deeply political, gambling with the lives of everyone in the nation on the one-in-a-million chance that the pandemic will simply vanish without intervention. He is a delusional and incompetent nut. There is no going back from that, and there will never be, at any point, remorse.
And every competent pundit in America already knows I am right.

Ivanka Trump buried for her COVID-19 advice during the packed Mt Rushmore rally: ‘What a clown’ and Donald Junior tests positive, goes to Mt. Rushmore anyway , summary of Michelle Goldberg's OpEd about Trumps white power Rushmore speech.

July 3, 2020

Karma is circling the White House:

Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend, tests positive for coronavirus

Guilfoyle was supposed to be in South Dakota on Friday.

Best quote this week: 

Trump finally wore a mask the other day & said he felt like the #LoneRanger. But the Lone Ranger’s mask had two eye holes in it, while Trump’s mask had only one asshole in it.

— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) July 2, 2020
Read article in The Mary Sue here

Excerpt: My appeal to those Trump supporters is simple. It is to become former Trump supporters.
Because this has surely become perfectly clear in recent months to patriotic and thoughtful men and women who have been Trump supporters: Donald Trump is not up to the job of president; he is particularly unsuited to lead the nation in a context of twin public health and economic crises; he can’t be trusted not to throw the country into a crisis of democracy and legitimacy during the forthcoming election campaign; and he shouldn’t be entrusted with the powers of the presidency for another four years.
Many Trump administration officials know this. Many Republican elected officials and donors know this. Many conservative leaders know this.
They may not want Joe Biden as president. Fine. They may not want the Democrats in power. Fine. But they have, after all, an alternative.
His name is Mike Pence.
I am no fan of Mike Pence. Not at all. But it is self-evident that it would be much better for the country if Donald Trump were out of office for the next six months, and if he had no chance to be president for the next four years. A President Pence for the next several months—even with the possibility of a President Pence for the next four years—would be a good outcome for all Americans.

The political theater of Kayleigh McEnany’s scripted walk-offs (WaPo subscription)


It happened again at the White House on Monday. President Trump’s press secretary was speaking to reporters when one asked about his denial of reportsthat Russian operatives offered bounties to Taliban members who kill American troops in Afghanistan. But, a reporter noted, Trump had also claimed that he had never been briefed on the subject — so how could he be certain there were never any bounties?
McEnany was ready for this one.

Quickly flipping pages in her briefing binder, McEnany launched into an extended critique of the New York Times, which broke the Russia story last week. Reading from her notes, she rattled off a series of alleged errors published by the Times in its reporting about Russia over the past four years, including a claim that 17 intelligence agencies had agreed about Russian interference in the 2016 election. (Only four agencies had done so.)

Then she unleashed the uppercut punch: “It is inexcusable, the failed Russia reporting of the New York Times. And I think it’s time that the New York Times, and also The Washington Post, hand back their Pulitzers.”

And with that, McEnany snapped her binder shut and strode out of the briefing room, trailed by the unanswered shouts and murmurs of the White House press corps.
Such dramatic exits have become a signature of McEnany’s brief tenure as press secretary. Since taking the job in April, the former Trump-friendly CNN pundit and spokeswoman for Trump’s reelection campaign has often waited until the briefing’s conclusion — that is, the moment when shedetermines the briefing is concluded — to unload on the assembled reporters.

The excoriation is typically punctuated by a binder slam and a determined stride away from the lectern, almost like the slugger who doesn’t bother to watch the pitch he just swatted as it sails into the bleacher seats. The unspoken message seems to be: Take that, hacks!

Hmmm... just saying: Trump is heading to Mt. Rushmore for a huge pandemic defying July 4th rally.  Not only will this most likely lead to people infecting each other with Covid-19 but there's a chance the fireworks, the first display in 10 years, could start wildfires. I don't give a damn about the MAGIDIOTS getting Covid-19 though I don't like that they may infect others. I do give a damn about the forest even though if there are wildfires it will be difficult for even Fox News to deny they were caused by Trump's insistence on a grand fireworks display.

Hong Kong police make first arrests under new security law

Hong Kong protest leader Nathan Law pledges to fight for democracy in exile after fleeing city


Law praised the courage of Hong Kong citizens who turned out to protest even after the new security law was implemented on Wednesday, and insisted the movement had "a strong tenacity and perseverance" even in the face of a "zero tolerance" approach by security forces.
"We have to stand in different fronts, maybe with more swift, or even tougher, ways of protesting. But I don't think Hong Kong people are giving up now," he said.
Law added that Hong Kongers were preparing for a long struggle and understood that the "near future will be very bleak" as the authorities seek to limit dissent.
"We all understand that fighting for democracy takes decades," he said. "We have to hang on, and we have to be very persistent. Otherwise we'll be defeated by a very short-term vision on Hong Kong's future. But I think we have a long way to go, and I think Hong Kong people will hang on."
The new security law dramatically broadens the powers of local and mainland authorities to investigate, prosecute and punish dissenters.
Asked about his decision to keep his whereabouts secret, Law said that disclosing that information "would create uncertainties or potentially endanger my safety" and that of others.
Law said a lot of businessmen and professionals he knew were also "seriously thinking" about leaving Hong Kong because the law "creates a huge insecurity, not only for political activists but for talented people in Hong Kong who enjoy freedom of speech and free flow of information, and the law will basically endanger these fundamental elements for Hong Kong's prosperity."
Law ended a statement on Thursday with the slogan "Glory to Hong Kong," a reference to an anthem of the protests, which is often heard sung at demonstrations and marches, but could soon be deemed illegal. 
The anthem references the slogan "liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times." Plastered across graffiti, posters, t-shirts, and even political advertisements, it has been one of the most popular slogans of the protests which began last year. Use of it going forward, however, could result in a sedition charge under the new law, the government said Thursday. 
"The slogan 'Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times,' nowadays connotes 'Hong Kong independence,' or separating the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) from the People's Republic of China, altering the legal status of the HKSAR, or subverting the State power," a spokesman said, adding that the new law "prohibits secession, subversion of state power and other acts and activities which endanger national security."

July 2, 2020

Trump’s Plan: Run As Outsider Against ‘Incumbent’ Non-President Biden

EXCERPT: You may have heard that Donald J. Trump is president of the United States. If you are inclined to forget it for a moment, he is ever ready to remind you by incessant tweets, abrasive public comments, loud rallies, expensive ads, and the hallelujahs of his chorus of supporters that he is the man. Not only is he the president, he is, he insists, the greatest president ever, whose administration is dizzy with success and muscle-bound with accomplishments. His midterm self-assessment was modestly entitled “500 Days of American Greatness.” Trump’s presidency is quite possibly the most imperial of imperial presidencies, characterized by contemptuous disregard for any constitutional limits on his power (“I have an Article 2 [of the Constitution] where I have the right to do whatever I want as president” he once said).
I reiterate these well-known attributes of our narcissistic chief executive by way of background for this astonishing Wall Street Journal story:
President Trump’s case for re-election reprises his pitch for a first term in office, as he and his team try to portray presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden as an incumbent while accentuating his own outsider credentials.

In advertisements, interviews and social-media posts, Mr. Trump is highlighting Mr. Biden’s four decades as a Delaware senator and vice president — the most consistent message among several the president has driven so far about his competitor.
Now, it’s not surprising that an incumbent president running for reelection at a time when objective conditions in the country are dreadful — in part because of his own hubris, negligence, and, yes, narcissism — wants to avoid a “referendum” election. And that’s particularly true of an incumbent whose personal favorability indices are as horrible as Trump’s (about half the electorate has a very unfavorable opinion of him). Typically, a president in this sort of jam will try to engineer a “choice” election; when Jimmy Carter was in a world of hurt in 1980, his strategy was to frame the election as a “two futures” choice between him and his controversial challenger Ronald Reagan. It didn’t work, but it made sense.

But I don’t believe a president running for reelection has ever sought to depict his challenger as the real incumbent and pose as the real “outsider.” And it’s particularly laughable coming from a president so endlessly puffed up with his own presidential status. I’m guessing “Hail to the Chief” plays in an endless loop in the back of Trump’s mind 24/7. This “outsider” strategy even sounds ludicrous to one of the architects of the 2016 Trump “insurgency”:

As Russian bounty scandal unfolds, remember this: Robert Mueller found plenty of collusion

Trump's agreement to look the other way on Putin's dark deeds is nothing new — remember the Mueller report?

A story you probably missed
Excerpt: Although Donald Trump now claims the whole thing is a "hoax" — his favorite term to discredit any story that's true — the president was clearly told by intelligence officials that Russia was paying bounties to Afghan fighters to kill American troops.
Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that Trump was briefed and there was a large intra-agency meeting held by the National Security Council. When the White House denied that Trump had ever heard anything about this, sources came up with a date for the briefing: Feb. 27. Further reporting from the Associated Press indicates that Trump was shown an earlier version of this intelligence more than a year ago, and that then-national security adviser John Bolton personally briefed him in March 2019. Financial documents also back up the story, and the name of one Afghan middleman has surfaced

Indeed, it's obvious Trump is lying about this is just from the fact that he's dismissing the entire story as a "hoax," even though his White House officials and Republican politicians are not contesting that these intelligence reports about Russian bounties actually exist. Yet Trump continues both to deny that he was briefed and also to claim, preposterously, "this is all a made up Fake News Media Hoax."


What happens to a person like Donald Trump when they suffer a narcissistic injury, such as what happened in Tulsa with his failed rally?
Donald Trump is incapable of tolerating losing without withdrawing into delusional paranoid explanations of what happened. His fundamental need to be always right and an absolute ruler, a God above all criticism, is what has led to his inability to tolerate democracy, and his repeated efforts to destroy it with his attacks on Congress, the judiciary system and a free press.

A few days after the Tulsa rally, Trump traveled to Arizona where he spoke to thousands of hand-picked adoring supporters at a right-wing evangelical church. So on one day he is in the pits of despair and anger, but the next day he is elated and flying high. How does such an emotional rollercoaster impact his mind?

Trump is able to appear more in touch with reality when he is being worshiped. Indeed, when his primitive needs are not being challenged, he can look like a normal person — it's what has made him a successful con man.  When he is challenged, however, his cruelty, sadism, paranoia, lack of conscience, incitement to violence and active pursuit of policies that kill people become obvious. These traits are properly described as "evil." In professional terms, they mean he is a psychopath. 

At his rally in Tulsa, Donald Trump admitted to ordering that testing for the coronavirus be limited and slowed down so that it would appear that fewer Americans are becoming ill in this pandemic. In Trump's mind, this helps his re-election chances. Trump is killing people. Does he know that he is doing that? Or is he so delusional that he cannot connect his actions to the many thousands of Americans who are now dead?

Trump knows what he is doing, and he does not care. Many people cannot accept that Trump doesn't care about all this human suffering because they cannot grasp the idea of the president of the United States being as deeply disturbed as he is. That denial is a pretty normal reaction; nobody wants to believe we have a president who lacks human empathy and is willing for others to die for his personal gain. 

 Bolton details how Trump wants journalists to be killed and imprisoned. Bolton's also writes about Trump's support for the concentration camps in China where Uighur Muslims have been tortured, and even reportedly have their organs "harvested" without anesthesia.
The Guardian

Protesters appear to be laying low in Hong Kong the day after the introduction of sweeping draconian national security laws prompted demonstrations, violence, and mass arrests.
More than 370 people were arrested on Wednesday, including 10 under the new laws imposed directly by Beijing and without the involvement of Hong Kong’s semi autonomous legislature.
The swift use of the laws to crack down on protests appears to have had a chilling effect already, with social media and encrypted channels that usually buzz with alerts for new demonstrations going conspicuously quiet and no protests planned for the coming days.
“Due to the imminent implementation of the national security law, the operation of this channel has been suspended until further notice,” said one channel. “Please forgive us for the inconvenience.”
Others remained active but instead of calls to action there were mournful posts about Lennon walls being torn down, websites removing potentially illegal stories and posts, and a few rumours of further arrests.

Lennon Walls at “yellow” businesses and institutions – those in favour of the pro-democracy protest movement – had become a fixture across the city, but business owners were warned by police on Thursday that displaying such material was now potentially illegal.

Hong Kong football fan briefly detained 'after shouting long live Liverpool'

Police reportedly interrogated lifelong fan who said he ‘felt an urge’ to voice his joy at club winning Premier League title

Excerpt: Hong Kong media say police briefly detained a man in a Liverpool FC shirt who shouted “long live Liverpool” during anti-government protests on Wednesday, over suspicion he was inciting independence.

More than 370 people have been arrested in Hong Kong protests, including at least 10 for offences under the newly enacted national security laws which came into effect late on Tuesday night.

According to In-Media, the man was across the street from police officers who were conducting stop-and-searches on a group of protesters, when he shouted “long live Liverpool!” Others reportedly cheered and joined in the chant, before officers detained him.

The man told In-Media police had accused him of inciting Hong Kong independence – a now punishable crime.

He said he had been a fan of the English football team for 30 years and “felt an urge” to voice his feelings over their recent Premier League win. Ten minutes after his initial detention, he was released.

July 1, 2020

My tweet for the day (click to enlarge)

I posted this frivolous story on Daily Kos early this morning. It took four hours for Catte Nappe (get it, cat nap), a regular reader of my stories there, to find the answer.

Now for the serious news:

Subscription, but this is the gist of the OpEd


Excerpt (conclusion)

\A perilous pattern persists that underscores Mr. Trump’s strange propensity to serve Russian interests above America’s. Recall that, during his 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump publicly urged Russia to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails and praised WikiLeaks for publishing stolen documents.

He denied and dismissed Russian interference in the 2016 election, then took Mr. Putin at his word at a Helsinki meeting while undercutting the U.S. intelligence community, and obstructed the Mueller investigation and distorted its findings. Mr. Trump recklessly removed U.S. troops from northern Syria and allowed Russian forces to take over American bases.

Next, Mr. Trump unilaterally invited Mr. Putin to attend the Group of 7 meeting, a move that apparently upended the organization’s annual summit. Subsequently, without any consultation, Mr. Trump announced his decision to remove nearly a third of U.S. troops from Germany — a sudden and inexplicable withdrawal that weakens the U.S.-German relationship and harms NATO, while benefiting Russia.

Most recently, we have learned that even Russian efforts to slaughter American troops in cold blood do not faze this president. Mr. Trump brushes off the information, evades responsibility and fails to take action — not even lodging a diplomatic protest. Now Mr. Putin knows he can kill Americans with impunity.

What must we conclude from all this? At best, our commander in chief is utterly derelict in his duties, presiding over a dangerously dysfunctional national security process that is putting our country and those who wear its uniform at great risk. At worst, the White House is being run by liars and wimps catering to a tyrannical president who is actively advancing our arch adversary’s nefarious interests.

Image modified by HB
Trump is obviously seen as a clown. But he's also seen as an easy mark. Bernstein writes that Trump's chiefs of staff and national security officials were "flabbergasted" by his solicitous behavior toward Russian President Vladimir Putin, and quotes two high-level officials who say that Trump achieved nothing of substance in his dealings with Putin and was so unschooled in the subject that he elevated Russia back to the level of a major power: "He's given Russia a lifeline — because there is no doubt that they're a declining power ... He's playing with something he doesn't understand and he's giving them power that they would use [aggressively]."

He has been similarly taken advantage of by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who, working in concert with Russia, managed to completely outmaneuver Trump on the Syrian civil war:
Two sources described the President as woefully uninformed about the history of the Syrian conflict and the Middle East generally, and said he was often caught off guard, and lacked sufficient knowledge to engage on equal terms in nuanced policy discussion with Erdogan. "Erdogan took him to the cleaners," said one of the sources.
These sources told Bernstein that Trump was often "delusional" in his dealings with foreign leaders, and did not become more "skillful or competent" as time went on. He refuses to listen to experts or really to anyone, except those, like his daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, who fawn over him, telling him how terrific he is. These high-level White House aides came to believe at some point that "the President himself posed a danger to the national security of the United States."

Well, yes.

These are major leaks of highly guarded conversations, obviously by people who were close to Trump, and we rightly wonder why in the world they didn't speak out before. But consider the fact that we've had all those other shocking insider accounts of this administration and it has made no difference. Republican officials have been unmoved by all of them. In fact, major figures in the party have enabled him every step of the way, and it's not as if they didn't know what was on John Kelly's or Rex Tillerson's minds when they left the White House. And as long as a circle of political loyalists protected Trump, he obviously wasn't going to change and wasn't going to go anywhere.

So, no — it probably wouldn't have mattered if these people had stepped up and told the truth earlier. But maybe it will matter now. Trump is proving himself incapable of handling the gravest crisis of his presidency and his polling numbers are dismal. If these people who come forward now can deliver the coup de grâce, perhaps it was all for the best. 


According to Gallup’s ongoing tracking of the percentage of Americans who approve of a president’s job performance, Carter’s and Bush’s numbers sank below 40 percent during this period and pretty much stayed there through Election Day. It’s as if they both met their fates on the cusp of summer.

And the cusp of summer has been a mean season for Trump, who has never flailed more pathetically or lashed out more desperately and who just experienced the Carter-Bush dip. According to Gallup, his approval rating fell to 39 percent in early June from 49 a month earlier. So if Carter and Bush are harbingers, Trump is toast.

He’s toast by other measures as well. Two much-discussed polls by The Times and Siena College that were published last week suggested that in key swing statesas well as nationally, he’s the limping dead, trailing Joe Biden by double digits. That assessment is mostly consistent with other modeling and projections since the economy turned on Trump.

According to some abstruse algorithm that The Economist regularly updates, he has only a one in 10 chance of winning the Electoral College and thus the presidency. According to a historical averaging of election-year polls by the website FiveThirtyEight, Biden’s lead over Trump right now is the biggest at this stage of the contest since Bill Clinton’s over Bob Dole in 1996, when Clinton won his second term.

Trump’s response? To set himself on fire.

His gratuitously touted instincts are nowhere to be found, supplanted by self-defeating provocations, kamikaze tantrums and an itchy Twitter finger. There’s a culture war for him to exploit, but instead of simply pillorying monument destroyers, he created his own living monuments: a white supremacist astride a golf cart in a Florida retirement community and a pistol-toting Karen shouting at peaceful Black protesters from the stoop of her St. Louis manse. As a statement of values, it’s grotesque. As a re-election strategy, it’s deranged.

“Trump is in a deep hole and his reaction is to keep digging,” David Axelrod told me. “What he’s doing is shrinking his vote to excite his base.” But that base is almost certainly not big enough to carry him to victory.

By conservative Max Boot. Excerpts:

An Ohio state legislator said, “I don’t want to cover people’s faces” because “we’re created in the image and likeness of God.” A Palm Beach, Fla., woman complained that masks “throw God’s wonderful breathing system out the door,” while a fellow Palm Beach resident denounced mask advocates for “practicing the Devil’s law.” A North Carolina woman burned a mask, complaining that it represented “nanny state overreach.” Wait till these freedom-lovers find out about speeding laws, seat-belt laws and drunken-driving laws, which restrict their “right” to get wasted and careen down the highway at 95 mph without a seat belt.

Granted, few Americans are as maniacal in their opposition to the basic dictates of public health. But far greater numbers seem recklessly indifferent to them. A 30-year-old Scottsdale, Ariz., man went drinking with his buddies and even shared drinks with them in a “super packed” bar. A few days later, he woke up with a 103-degree temperature. “I didn’t take this seriously,” Jimmy Flores now admits. “I didn’t think I was gonna get covid.”

Summarized on HUFFPOST

Update: Hong Kong Police Make First Arrests Under New Security Law Imposed By China


No subscription required. Top story on HuffPost
HONG KONG — A museum that commemorates the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre is rushing to digitize its archives, afraid its artifacts could be seized. Booksellers are nervously eyeing customers, worried they could be government spies. Writers have asked a news site to delete more than 100 articles, anxious that old posts could be used against them.

And on Wednesday, the anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese control — a day usually observed by huge pro-democracy marches — a scattered crowd of protesters tried to rekindle that energy, only to be corralled by the police and arrested over offenses that did not exist a day earlier.

The Chinese government’s new security law for Hong Kong is less than a day old, and already the city is feeling its chilling effect. The law was designed to stamp out the anti-government demonstrations that have wracked the semiautonomous territory for more than a year. But it also threatens the fabric of life that has made Hong Kong, with its freewheeling cultural scene and civil society, distinct from the rest of China.

“You can say this law is just targeting protesters and anti-Chinese politicians, but it could be anyone,” said Isabella Ng, a professor at the Education University of Hong Kong who founded a charity that helps refugees in the city.
“I’d be lying if I said I don’t think twice about posting something on Twitter before pushing the button,” said Mr. Richburg, a former foreign correspondent with The Washington Post.
One of the starkest indicators that the national security law was already having its intended effect came on Tuesday, directly after lawmakers in Beijing unanimously approved it.
Joshua Wong, the 23-year-old who is perhaps Hong Kong’s best-known activist, announced on social media that he would withdraw from Demosisto, the youth political group that he founded in 2016, citing fears for his safety. Demosisto, which has called for greater autonomy for Hong Kong, was for many the face of the protest movement’s future.
Soon after, three other leading members of Demosisto also resigned. A few hours later, the group announced it was disbanding altogether.
In a note explaining his decision, Mr. Wong wrote, “Nobody can be sure of their tomorrow.”




专家说,这可能会将香港带入一个新时代,公民自由受到严格限制,对党的忠诚至关重要。纽约大学法学教授、中国法律体制专家孔杰荣(Jerome A. Cohen)说:“总的来说,这是接管香港。”





JUNE 30, 2020

The man is seriously sick... 

"As I watch the Pandemic spread its ugly face all across the world, including the tremendous damage it has done to the USA, I become more and more angry at China. People can see it, and I can feel it!"
Click above to read relies to this tweet

Now we know: Trump actually puts down his phone when he putts.

Breaking news: Judge Temporarily Blocks Release Of Tell-All Book By Trump’s Niece

Mary Trump’s book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” was set to hit bookstores in July.

Looking back on the nation’s recent past, baffled Americans are left to ponder two questions: how could this have happened? And what can we do to escape from the terrible straits in which we find ourselves?
A partial answer to the first question is this: for too long, ruling elites allowed the purported obligations of global leadership to take precedence over tending to the collective wellbeing of the American people. This was a conscious choice made by leaders of both political parties. We are now living with the consequences of that choice, with the persistence of racism offering just one example of what neglect has produced. Yet it deserves to be emphasized: the neglect was not Trump’s doing; he was merely its ironic beneficiary. We are its victims.
A preliminary answer to the second question must begin with this admission: the era of US dominion has now passed. So Americans can no longer afford to indulge in the fiction of their indispensability, cherished in elite circles. In fact, the sun has set on the American empire. Subordinating the wellbeing of the American people to ostensible imperatives of global leadership — thereby allowing racism, inequality, and other problems to fester at home — has become intolerable.
A massive reordering of national priorities is required. It goes without saying that Trump is incapable of presiding over any such reordering. Yet whether anyone else in mainstream politics is capable of doing so remains very much an open question.
Andrew Bacevich is president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. This article is in The Spectator’s July 2020 US 


Introducing the Slate Trump Vincibility Watch: Do White Power and Potential Treason Make for a Good Campaign Pitch? Not as much as they used to, apparently!

If the election were held tomorrow, assuming the pandemic-ravaged nation were able to hold an election at all, every available indicator says Trump would lose. But November is more than four months away, and many things can change between now and then. Theoretically, some of those things might be bad for Joe Biden instead of bad for Trump. Verdict: Right now, Trump is SLIGHTLY NON-INVINCIBLE.

Hong Kong News  香港新聞

While those of us in the United States are desperately hoping to see Trump and his authoritarian rule end with a resounding defeat in the coming election, in Hong Kong citizens have no such hope. With Xi president for life and a huge army to enforce his demands, freedom loving Hong Kongers have no recourse but to protest. We think we have had it bad. They have it far worse. HB

Beijing’s swift imposition of the law and a lack of transparency over its details have alarmed some diplomats, business leaders and activists who say it is the latest example of China’s tightening grip over the former British colony. 
Chinese and Hong Kong authorities have said the law is necessary to tackle separatism, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces following anti-government protests that escalated in June last year. 
Wong, who rose to prominence during a series of protests in 2014, has rallied support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement overseas, in particular in the United States, drawing the wrath of Beijing, which says he is a “black hand” of foreign forces. 
He has said he expects to be targeted under the law. 
“If my voice will not be heard soon, I hope that the international community will continue to speak up for Hong Kong and step up concrete efforts to defend our last bit of freedom,” Wong said on his Twitter feed, announcing he was stepping down from his group, Demosisto. 

A short while later, Demosisto members Nathan Law and Agnes Chow also said they were also stepping down.


Jimmy Lai, a Hong Kong media tycoon known for his outspoken support of the city's pro-democracy movement, said the law "spells a death knell to Hong Kong because it supersedes our law and our rule of law." 

"The democratic movement will have to adjust its strategy because it's a fact that a lot of the people in the democratic movement are scared -- either they find ways to leave or emigrate or to sidestep the movement." Lai, who was arrested in February in relation to a protest march, said he would stay in the city and "keep on fighting."
Rights group Amnesty International said the legislation "represents the greatest threat to human rights in the city's recent history."

"The speed and secrecy with which China has pushed through this legislation intensifies the fear that Beijing has calculatingly created a weapon of repression to be used against government critics, including people who are merely expressing their views or protesting peacefully," said the head of Amnesty International's China Team, Joshua Rosenzweig.

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen said reports on China passing the security law "proves that 'one country, two systems' is not credible." Tsai said that Taiwan will start an office from July 1, which will "provide humanitarian aid for our friends in Hong Kong."

In Japan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga called the passing of the law "regrettable."

On Monday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced an end to the exports of US-origin defense equipment and dual-use technologies to Hong Kong. Pompeo said the move was necessary to protect American national security as the tensions between the US and China continue to escalate. 

"As Beijing moves forward with passing the national security law ... We can no longer distinguish between the export of controlled items to Hong Kong or to mainland China," Pompeo said.

This is the first action the US government has taken to upend the special status trade relationship between the US and Hong Kong, following the determination that Hong Kong was no longer autonomous from China due to Beijing imposing the national security law on the city. 

It comes as Beijing on Monday said it would impose visa restrictions on certain Americans in response to Washington's move last week to place similar limits on Chinese officials over Hong Kong.

Articles you probably missed:

Adolf Hitler, the genocidal monster of the twentieth century, would not seem to be someone likely to seek psychological counseling, let alone respond. Since his death at the end of the war, there has been a vast outpouring of literature on the Nazi Fuhrer. Until recently, he was not known to have had psychological treatment—with one questionable exception.1This encounter was rumored to have occurred at Pasewalk Hospital at the end of World War 1 when he was hypnotized by psychiatrist Dr Edmund Forster. However, it has been firmly discounted by historians.2
In 1990, however, there came a surprising revelation: Hitler had been treated by a psychologist at Landsberg Prison in 1924, with a positive response to treatment.3 Alois Maria Ott, the prison “teacher,” was responsible for the rehabilitation. Ott first disclosed his involvement with Hitler at the hearty age of 98, with reports that he was going to write a book on his experiences, which has not occurred. A devout Catholic, Ott was a firm believer in the power of goodwill, having a nonjudgemental approach to his patients.4

JUNE 29, 2020


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

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

Congress demands answers from Trump administration on Russia bounty intelligence

I like Rick Wilson but not enough to subscribe to Daily Beast to read this. Still, I thought I'd share what you can see for free: You can read more excerpts here.

He’s tired of the job, but he knows that without the power of his office (and Bill Barr to protect him), every conceivable chicken will come home to roost. He’s not quitting. Yes, everyone would love to believe the rumors sweeping Trumpland and the Washington media that it’s gotten so bad Donald Trump is considering quitting the race. Never gonna happen. Trump isn't suiting until the last dog dies. It's dumb wish casting. If Trump is fucked we all are for the next four months.
You need a subscription to read the rest.

Lot's of news....

 My story:

Other version uses this image:


The big revelations of the moment — the reports that Russia may have paid bounties for the killing of U.S. troops, and the news that a U.S. attorney was ousted after investigating Trump cronies — are a reminder that Trump has found a gaping hole in our system.

If a president refuses to cooperate with congressional oversight in just about every conceivable way — and if that president has the near-total backing of a party that controls one chamber of Congress — any such scrutiny can basically be ground to a halt, with no repercussions.

But a group of House Democrats is now calling on its chamber to get a lot tougher in this regard.

This group of Democrats — which is led by Rep. Ted Lieu of California and includes other high-profile lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee — is introducing a resolution Monday that, if successful, would dramatically increase the House’s ability to compel compliance with oversight.

This resolution would create a new, modernized mechanism by which the House could seek to levy stiff fines on officials who defy subpoenas for testimony or documents. It would in effect bring into the 21st century a power that Congress has used only rarely in the past — the power to enforce its own subpoenas.

The resolution

Lieu’s resolution — which is backed by Reps. Val Demings, Jamie Raskin, Joe Neguse, David Cicilline and Madeleine Dean, all of the Judiciary Committee — would change House rules to create a stiffer mechanism of accountability for flouting oversight.

Under it, any House committee that wanted to bring proceedings against an official for defying subpoenas could refer a resolution of contempt to the full House. If approved, the House can authorize its counsel to go to court to sue and ask it to freeze the offender’s assets.

This process would give the official 20 days to comply with the subpoena, after which the House counsel would ask the court to levy a fine of up to $25,000, to be increased as high as $100,000 over time.

The process would also provide for the House to negotiate with the administration over their reasons for noncompliance (the administration can also contest the fine in court), and to reach an accommodation if possible.

In effect, this attempts to modernize Congress’s power to employ civil enforcement of subpoenas, which it does have (see this Congressional Research Service report), and tries to create a rigorous process for it.

“This is a power Congress has repeatedly used in the past, and the courts have upheld,” Lieu told me.

JUNE 28, 2020


My trivial story:

No subscription needed to read this:

OPINION |The Trump referendum 

My photoshop
By a psychiatrist and retired Army general

JUNE 27, 2020

Scientists Just Beginning To Understand The Many Health Problems Caused By Covid-19

“We thought this was only a respiratory virus. Turns out, it goes after the pancreas. It goes after the heart. It goes after the liver, the brain, the kidney and other organs.

Trump targets individual anti-racism protesters in post-golf tweetstorm to catch those who committed violent crimes against statues.

Park Police Major Crimes Unit and FBI's DC Violent Crimes Task Force apparently have nothing better to do.

Former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski wrote about it in his book about the campaign, saying Trump would order two Big Macs, two Filet-o-Fish sandwiches and a chocolate milkshake.

Sarah Cooper Skewers Donald ‘All Of A Sudden I’m President’ Trump Trying To ‘Second Term’

Asking Trump to stop being a narcissist is some kind of psychiatric malpractice, since a narcissist isn’t free to think about other people. Asking him to talk policy is laughable. And to ask him to debate policy with a man who has spent a lifetime in the Senate and White House is a suicide mission. Lindsey Graham might as well advise Trump to levitate while farting firecrackers.
Not a link

JUNE 26, 2020

Click to read my story.

How a cognitive failing explains why so many people reject the facts about the pandemic - and why Fauci  doesn't seem to understand this.

Read story - My thought is that thanks to Covid-19 even if Trump wins in GA, NC, and TX, if he only loses in FL he will be defeated. The reality of Covid-19 there may prove him to have been the incompetent dangerous liar he is.

As CNN’s Harry Enten pointed out, Biden doesn’t need to win a single one of these states to prevail in the election. If Biden wins any of these states, he’s most likely already surpassed the 270 electoral votes needed to become the next president. I wouldn’t bet on him winning all four states; the idea that Biden will win Texas, in particular, seems farfetched — if not impossible — despite what this poll found. But Biden’s 9-point lead in Florida should be particularly concerning for Trump. The president absolutely needs to hold the Sunshine State to maintain his grip on the presidency, and this poll — as well as many others — makes it look like a real challenge for Trump.

Why you read this blog? Where else will you find links to stories like this?

JUNE 25, 2020

Worth reading carefully: The 6 Trump Bombshells Still Waiting to Explode - Politico

From BuzzFeed News (image embellished by me)

How Chinese spies penetrated the Trump White House

JUNE 24, 2020

Excerpt from WaPo 

Image without a caption

   Oped (subscription): Trump’s sway over Lindsey Graham — and all Republicans — is weakening

Late in the 1939 film classic “The Wizard of Oz,” one learns — probably without realizing it — a fundamental lesson of politics. Dorothy’s stalwart friends the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion come to free her from certain death at the castle of the Wicked Witch of the West. The witch’s Praetorian guards surround the noble band as she arrives to set fire to the Scarecrow. Seizing a handy bucket, Dorothy flings the water and, quite by accident, melts the Wicked Witch.
To the girl’s surprise, the captain of the guard cries: “Hail to Dorothy!” One second they’re ready to kill for the witch; the next, they delight over her smoldering remains. The lesson: To rule by fear, a leader must remain fearsome.

Hold that thought as we turn to the latest from Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.). Over the weekend, Graham appears to have thwarted the Trump administration’s power play in the Manhattan federal prosecutor’s office. Since when does Graham tell the president no? A human windsock, whose loyalties exquisitely reflect the gusts and lulls of power in the GOP, Graham was the wise-cracking wingman to the late Sen. John McCain when the Arizonan carried the party’s flag. But that went out the window when President Trump took over. Graham swung the full 180 degrees to become Trump’s golf buddy, footstool and dutiful apologist.

Two things have happened recently to weaken Trump’s sway over Graham — and the same shifting breezes are being felt elsewhere in the Senate. First, Graham passed his reelection primary test with flying colors on June 9, winning nearly 70 percent of the votes. Any concern the senator might have had that he must mollify the president or risk a Trump-backed challenger melted away.

Meanwhile, Trump’s own poll numbers melted down. A recent Fox News survey of registered voters found just 38 percent in favor of reelecting the president. A number in the 30s is the political equivalent of a bucket of water in the face.

Compare and Contrast - Dr. Fauci the optimist and Dr. Osterholm the realist in the two articles below.
Osterholm avoids being too optimistic and fostering false hopes the way Fauci tried to do (in my opinion) yesterday before Congress. I don't think Fauci was a doctor who treated terminally ill patients, but if he was I think he'd be the one who tells his patients what they want to hear (you might be one of the 5% who lives for five years on chemo) rather than what they and their family need to hear to prepare for death sooner rather than later.
As much as I dislike sports analogy so many people think in those terms that saying we're in the second inning of a baseball game is a good way to communicate that we've barely begun the quest to beat the virus.
I do know that a baseball game has nine innings, and also that if it is tied at the end of the ninth it goes into the grimly termed and for Covid-19 aptly named "sudden death" extra innings.
Here's what Fauci said yesterday:
Fauci: Coronavirus vaccine could be available by end of 2020.
This is a lot different that what Osterholm says:
“Our goal obviously is to try to get to a vaccine, which is very, very important. If we can do that, then that’ll help us get to that immunity status without having to have people end up dying from it or getting sick.”
JUNE 23, 2020

Trump supporters mocked for ignoring public health guidelines at rally: ‘The Superspreadysburg Address’

In case you hadn't guessed, I added the photo.

Quote: Just the rumor that Nadler intends to subpoena Barr was enough to get Jim Jordan to wrestle up some paper and pin down a letter. In what may be the most amusing example of projection not coming directly from Trump, Jordan accuses Nadler of having a “partisan posture” toward Barr by, you know, wanting him to ask him things. Jordan also finds it just outrageous that Nadler would think there was anything at all to see in Barr announcing the resignation of a U. S. attorney who had not resigned, or saying that Trump had fired that attorney, when Trump denied it. 

Related: The Supreme Court May Be Tired of Bill Barr - Dahlia Lithwick

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In the early 20th century the American South was ravaged by pellagra, a nasty disease that produced the “four Ds” — dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia and death. At first, pellagra’s nature was uncertain, but by 1915 Dr. Joseph Goldberger, a Hungarian immigrant employed by the federal government, had conclusively shown that it was caused by nutritional deficiencies associated with poverty, and especially with a corn-based diet.
However, for decades many Southern citizens and politicians refused to accept this diagnosis, declaring either that the epidemic was a fiction created by Northerners to insult the South or that the nutritional theory was an attack on Southern culture. And deaths from pellagra continued to climb.
Sound familiar?

EXCERPT: If we had been living in normal times, Donald Trump would have been relentlessly heckled off the national stage while he was still riding down that escalator five years ago. Instead, he managed to lie and finagle his way into the White House, where he remains the most dangerous, incompetent American president in history.

The thing about Trump's janky, out-of-his-depth presidency is that a significant number of his biggest derps have negatively impacted Trump himself, leading me to observe (once again!) that Trump always makes things worse for Trump. His deadly laziness in responding to coronavirus, his horrendously dictator-friendly foreign policy, his blindingly obvious racism and the myriad other examples of his ineptitude aside, he constantly paints himself into political corners. 

The very fact that Trump routinely panders to the convulsive whimsy of his cult of Red Hat disciples, capping his appeal at around 43 percent of American voters, proves he's almost deliberately undermining himself, while simultaneously believing he can do no wrong. He thinks he's winning, despite enraging 55 percent of us. It doesn't make any sense until we realize that, yeah, Trump always makes things worse for himself. 

This past weekend's fiasco in Tulsa was a huge example of this self-sabotaging phenomenon. 

Donald Trump thinks coronavirus testing is a plot to destroy him — and no, he's not kidding - Amanda Marcotte

Lifelong con man has convinced himself he can make voters un-see the pandemic if he just keeps lying about it

But as the low turnout in Tulsa on Saturday suggested, there's evidence that while plenty of Republican voters may be happy to display tribal loyalty by telling a pollster over the phone that they're not afraid of the virus, they're still eager to avoid large crowds in indoor spaces. Only time will tell how much Trump's propaganda blitz is working on them. 
One thing, however, is certain: Trump, ever the terminal narcissist, has embraced the idea that this global public health crisis is nothing more than a political plot to destroy him.
 Now that he's suffered a major humiliation after the debacle in Tulsa, he is doubling down on his anger over the coronavirus tests.
For Trump, of course, the problem is not that thousands of people are getting sick and dying. In his eyes, it's only a problem if the public finds out about it. As Election Day gets closer, Trump is convinced that his last chance of victory is to make the viral pandemic disappear beneath a cascade of outright lies. 

JUNE 22, 2020

Yesterday's Daily Kos story was recommended, stayed on all day, and prompted over 300 comments:

JUNE 21, 2020

Here's a quote from the WaPo OpEd: 

Trump’s rally looked like his vision of America. Limited and pitiless.

But Trump is not an everybody wins sort of president. Some people soar and others don’t. He stood at the microphone, pinching at the air with his hands, ruminating and fulminating until everything becomes a blur of interminable, unearned preening. He has been draining the swamp, he says, even as so many of his former staff accuse him of being the slimiest of all its monsters.

Trump says niece "not allowed" to write book because of nondisclosure agreement, Jonathan Swan, AXIOS
I asked the president about his niece's allegation that he "dismissed and derided" his father when he began to succumb to Alzheimer's.
  • "It's totally false; the opposite," Trump said. "Actually, the opposite. I always had a great relationship. I didn't know that she said that. That's a disgraceful thing to say."
Just a photo:

JUNE 20, 2020


Absent a major economic measure or turnaround, Trump’s options for reversing his polling slide are slimmer. In an interview with Politico that was published on Friday, the president did express a degree of worry about his chances against Biden. But he couched his concern in baseless theories about the potential for rampant voter fraud in mail-in ballots. “My biggest risk is that we don’t win lawsuits [regarding mail-in voting],” the president said. “We have many lawsuits going all over. And if we don’t win those lawsuits, I think—I think it puts the election at risk.”
Increasingly, Trump seems content to try and re-run the playbook he used in 2016 in hopes that it works again. Elsewhere in that Politico interview, he warned other Republican candidates—including those running to help preserve the party’s Senate majority—not to tiptoe away from him, no matter what his poll numbers look like. And in recent days his team has made another aggressive effort to troll Biden (much as they did Hillary Clinton) as physically and mentally unwell. The president has brought back top aides from his last presidential run and is turning to one of his most prominent surrogates from that race to help, as well. 
On Thursday, Politico reported that the Trump campaign had enlisted former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani—who as Trump’s personal lawyer launched a dirt-digging expedition into the Bidens that led directly to the president’s impeachment—to “spearhead a campaign to press for more debates this fall, starting earlier than usual and to have a say in choosing the moderators,” so that Trump can have more opportunities to publicly humiliate Biden, someone who the president seems convinced will crack under a one-on-one grilling.

Asked on Thursday if he now has an official title on Trump 2020, Giuliani told The Daily Beast, “No sir I am just helping out.”

Inquiring minds may ask dept: John Bolton isn't super-rich but a net worth of $6 million isn't chump change (read story).


JUNE 19, 2020

How superspreading is fueling the pandemic — and how we can stop it - VOX - it fills the entire screen...

This is the image they used with my addition.

Click above to enlarge.


From Jennifer Rubin

I have always wondered when the MAGA crowd and its Great Leader thought America was great. We know their appeal to disgruntled white voters is an exercise in phony nostalgia and wish fulfillment. Implicit in their slogan is a desire to go back to a time when whites — white men, to be specific — were numerically, politically, economically and culturally unchallenged. But when was this, exactly? 1950? 1920? We might have to go back to the 19th century. We got a hint this week when President Trump restated his support for U.S. refuses to retain names of Confederate traitors and white supremacists. He said in one of his more bizarre interviewsthat removing the names would “divide” Americans. (We aren’t divided now, I suppose, because “America” to him is his white base.) We wouldn’t want to “bring people apart,” he insisted — as the traitors did when they took up arms against fellow Americans? In the same interview, he said that no one really knew about Juneteenth (meaning, he and his lily-white staff were ignorant of it) until he brought it up. He also argued that his “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” comment was appropriate. Meanwhile, Republicans in the Senate blocked an effort to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol. I am getting the sense that Trump and his followers look back favorably on the Confederacy, the memory of which swells them with pride. (Does Trump know that, in addition to being racists and traitors, they were losers?)

It seems the leader of the MAGA crowd would be most at home when the Confederacy was still revered (by racists who promulgated the “Lost Cause” nonsense), when scientists lacked the ability to contradict him and when only certain kinds of voters (his) could manage to cast their ballots. For the rest of us who live in a modern, multiracial, technologically sophisticated 21st-century America, he seems like a poor fit for president.
Click above to watch cartoon

I originally posted this on Daily Kos but took it down because hardly anybody was reading it.
One of the things I’ve noticed as I read online articles is how many include tweets from politicians, celebrities, and ordinary people. Tweets have become the primary way to gauge how the general public reacts not only to Donald Trump but to others who make the news, even those who nobody ever heard of until a video of them goes viral, see The “McMuffin Cop” Is Speaking Out About Her Viral Video on BUZZFEED by way of an example.
Tweets have become the modern version of man on the street interviews.
I don’t know how the authors of these articles find the tweets to include. I assume some at least have assistants to do this for them.
By way of illustration I’ll use the HuffPost article “Twitter Users Pile On Trump After He Asks If Supreme Court Dislikes Him” where there are  snarky tweets from actor Morgan Freeman, frequent MSNBC guest Neal Katyal, three Democratic members of the House, The Sierra Club, novelist Terry MacMillan, writer Cheri Jacobus, someone who seems to be just an ordinary person who identifies himself as a dreamer, and an unnamed documentary film maker. I think that all of the tweets make good reading, some more clever and biting than others.
The last, and I think the best and most snarky tweet, in the story is from Laura Bassett who is a political columnist at GQ.

Here’s the tweet:. 
My reply to her tweet was, after eight hours, still right under her HuffPost article-worthy tweet. It has an image of Trump with a big butt which I guarantee you haven’t seen before.

I don’t have any illusions that tweets like this will get me a paid gig working to scour Twitter for HuffPost or any of the other websites for writers to include in their stories about Twitter reaction to things Trump has said or tweeted, however here’s:

Hal’s Job application

This tweet from about a month ago was basically an illustration I put together. It had 3,448 impressions:


1,866 impressions for this tweeted image which I put together.
I have no way to determine if any of my tweets ever made it into an article. For all I know one of them was posted on a website in an article I didn’t read. Getting this exposure may be good for my ego, but that and a dime won't even pay me for the  Keurig cup of Breakfast Blend which I am about to make. 
I’m waiting for the job offers to flood in, but I’m not holding my breath.

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