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September 5, 2020

Hal Brown Blog


This is an internationally read blog
  with original essays and my  
opinions on news stories that pique my interest. My Bio; also Internet search for Hal Brown and Trump 

Sept. 11, 2020

A retired judge scalded the Department of Justice and President Donald Trump in a new filing in the case against Michael Flynn.

Former judge John Gleeson filed a brief Friday accusing the president of improperly pressuring the Justice Department to drop the case against his former national security adviser, who pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents about his contacts with Russia, reported Bloomberg.

“In the United States, presidents do not orchestrate pressure campaigns to get the Justice Department to drop charges against defendants who have pleaded guilty — twice, before two different judges — and whose guilt is obvious,” Gleeson wrote.

Gleeson was named a “friend of the court” and tasked with arguing against dismissal in the Flynn case.

‘We’ll put them down very quickly’: Trump threatens to quash election night riots

“Look, it’s called insurrection,” the president said.

“Look, it’s called insurrection,” he added. “We just send in, and we do it very easy. I mean, it’s very easy. I’d rather not do that because there’s no reason for it, but if we had to, we’d do that and put it down within minutes.”

Trump drew bipartisan criticism in June after police officers and National Guard troops fired rubber bullets and deployed flash-bang grenades to force largely peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square outside the White House.

The incursion against protesters by U.S. law enforcement officials allowed the president, top White House aides and senior administration officials to walk across the street to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church — where Trump posed with a Bible for a political photo opportunity.

Amid other mass demonstrations this summer against police brutality and racial injustice, Trump has faced further scrutiny for his treatment of protesters and at times unwelcome federal intervention.

PTSD expert Seth Norrholm: Americans "are being psychologically abused by Donald Trump" also from Salon

Leading neuroscientist says America will face a health crisis from "post-Trump syndrome" for years to come

Also on Salon:

Sept. 10, 2020

 my Daily Kos story'

I found this column from Canada because I have a Google News search for malignant narcissism:

Some examples of dandy word-smithing by Ian Cobb (story above) in red:

  • A president who has driven a massive white privilege wedge through the heart of a once great nation, whose lack of leadership and malignant narcissism has helped make America the greatest failure of all global nations in the handling of the pandemic, CALLED Bob Woodward to blab like a bored teenager. That’s like a honey-slathered fawn inviting a starving grizzly over for drinks and a cuddle.
  • It’s like he’s trying to sabotage his re-election but the sticky maw of courts awaits when 45 leaves office so one must assume he’s desperate to stay in power. Again, how braindead is this guy?
  • Bob Woodward’s Rage is most assuredly timed to slam a spread of torpedoes into the side of the labouring tub that is the Trump campaign, complete with passengers like this screaming meemie and other great statesmen such as other people from his family.
  • I have always admired Bob Woodward’s work. How he managed to convince Captain Cadmium to go on such a rampage of guilt-stapling blabbery is beyond comprehension!
  • Sadly, Trump is more than likely just a lonely old man who thought Bob Woodward, from his own generation, was being a friend and he let down his guard and unleashed his tongue, which obviously has communications issues with his brain.
  • I’ve been reluctant to write about Trump lately because the thought of the bigoted blob of misogynistic prevarication with the brain-of-a-goat makes me want to get into fist fights. But this latest self-swung shovel upside his chubby Cheeto face has to be addressed.
Below: Fox and Friends spinning story like an EF 5 tornado:

Sept. 9, 2020

Here's a good one from  Jennifer Bendery Senior politics reporter for HuffPost. President of Washington Press Club Foundation. If someone lies about someone else's lies, do the lies negate themselves and become true?

The big news is the tapes Bob Woodward made, scroll down. 


Right: 8 minute segment on CNN with tapes. President Trump’s head popped up during his top-secret intelligence briefing in the Oval Office on Jan. 28 when the discussion turned to the novel coronavirus outbreak in China.

“This will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency,” national security adviser Robert O’Brien told Trump, according to a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward. “This is going to be the roughest thing you face.”

Matthew Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser, agreed. He told the president that after reaching contacts in China, it was evident that the world faced a health emergency on par with the flu pandemic of 1918, which killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide.

Ten days later, Trump called Woodward and revealed that he thought the situation was far more dire than what he had been saying publicly.

“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in a Feb. 7 call. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”

“This is deadly stuff,” the president repeated for emphasis.

At that time, Trump was telling the nation that the virus was no worse than a seasonal flu, predicting it would soon disappear, and insisting that the U.S. government had it totally under control. It would be several weeks before he would publicly acknowledge that the virus was no ordinary flu and that it could be transmitted through the air.

Trump admitted to Woodward on March 19 that he deliberately minimized the danger. “I wanted to always play it down,” the president said.

Breaking news on MSNBC

Woodward has never released tapes to confirm his reporting and he plans to do so now.

Kayleigh McEnany Says Trump ‘Never Lied’ About COVID-19 After Recordings Show He Lied

This is what John Roberts, a Fox News reporter, tweeted:

Just saying: Trump sure knows how to keep something in the news. Yet another example is having, or trying to have, Bill Barr's DOJ take over his defense in the E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit. HB
Read Salon story:

Bill Barr leverages Justice Dept. to "cancel" E. Jean Carroll's rape accusation against Trump

Republicans claim to hate "cancel culture." So why is Bill Barr using federal powers to silence E. Jean Carroll?


Disney's Mulan OPENLY THANKS Chinese Government, Star Praises Hong Kong Crackdown. The hell with Chinese human rights violations, Disney is for the dollars.

Sept. 8, 2020


President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign continues to flout health guidelines and local COVID-19 regulations.

On Tuesday evening, Trump is scheduled to deliver remarks in Winston-Salem, North Carolina — where a large crowd has already gathered.

NBC News correspondent Garrett Haake estimated that approximately 10% of attendees were wearing masks and that there was “no distancing to speak of.” He noted the event was exceeding North Carolina rules against gatherings with more than 50 people. RAWSTORY Click images to enlarge.

THE ARMY'S MOST SENIOR officer pushed back Tuesday on President Donald Trump's assertions that Defense Department leaders choose to continue fighting wars abroad in an attempt to keep private defense firms "happy."

I don't think it's an accident that "THE ARMY'S MOST SENIOR officer Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville pushed back Tuesday on President Donald Trump's assertions that Defense Department leaders choose to continue fighting wars abroad in an attempt to keep private defense firms 'happy.'" Top brass have had enough. This is very significant because even though McConville is not as well-known a name as the chair of The Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley is (none of the other members are well known to the public) he is still a member.

McConville at first declined to comment on Trump's increased criticism of the Pentagon's top leaders in recent days, saying the military is apolitical, and must remain that way particularly during an election year. He later responded when asked about private companies' influence in the decision to go to war.... 

.... McConville on Tuesday also said that the issue of Army bases named for Confederate generals has affected some of his soldiers, saying, "it's a very emotional issue." Trump has previously tweeted that he does not want the military to consider renaming those bases.

"What we want to do, at least as the leadership of the Army, is identify those things that may divide us and take a look at and come up with solutions that may bring everyone together and make us a more cohesive team," McConville said. from

Hopefully other generals, current and retired, will speak out. The more well known (Mattis and Kelly for example) the better, but two generals would be better than one, and three better than two. As they see the president harming the morale of those under their comment, and also unable to do anything to punish them, hopefully they will be emboldened.

Death Star blows itself up: Trump ran his campaign finances like his businesses — into the ground

It's no surprise that Trump's campaign is a giant grift. But will his donors keep pouring good money after bad? By Amanda Marcotte, Salon

EXCERPT: The "Death Star": At the beginning of this year, that's what Donald Trump's then-campaign manager, Brad Parscale, dubbed the billion-dollar fundraising operation at the heart of the Trump campaign.

The choice was a telling one, largely as a reminder that many Republicans in the Trump era are not only aware that they're the bad guys, but are proud to align themselves with some of the notorious villains of pop culture history. But more than one commentator was also quick to point out that the Death Star isn't just a symbol of evil, but of hubris, because it's destroyed by the plucky heroes who may be outgunned but have the wit and courage to defeat the foolhardy tyrants of the Empire. 

"Dude, the Death Star gets blown up in the end of just about every Star Wars movie," MSNBC host Joe Scarborough tweeted back in May, in response to Parscale bragging that he was about to "start pressing FIRE for the first time" on Trump's "juggernaut campaign."

Life rarely plays out like a children's sci-fi movie, but I am happy to say that the people who made Death Star jokes turned out to be right. The Trump campaign's Death Star had its own version of the ray-shielded particle exhaust vent that allowed the Rebel Alliance to fly directly into its reactor core to blow up the entire apparatus: The greed and incompetence that defines Trump and everyone around him. (See below)

The book also details AMI’s (National Enquirer) other attempts to tip the scales in favor of Trump by spreading unverifiable information on the president’s 2016 Republican presidential primary opponents. 

Cohen recalls how Pecker called him gleefully during the primary about a questionable photo the National Enquirer planned on running, allegedly showing Sen. Ted Cruz's father Rafael and JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald passing out leaflets on a New Orleans street corner.

According to the book, Pecker showed Cohen a mock-up of the publication's spread on the photo before it was published. When Cohen asked about the photo's veracity, Pecker did not seem concerned.

“Does it matter?” Pecker said, according to the book. “All we have to do is allege that it is.”

My story today isn't about politics, nonetheless it was recommended enough times to make the Daily Kos Trending List:

The latest Lincoln Project ad shows Kenosha killer Kyle Rittenhouse in the front row at a Trump rally (click below for video) 


In emails we asked the participants to send to President Trump, you can feel that the spirit that led them to join the working-class revolt is just broken. While some hope he will get back in the right direction, most used their email to express their deep disillusionment. You can feel that they wanted a president who didn’t divide the country and make it a “laughingstock” (two writers used that exact word) internationally. They wanted a president who put the interests of the people, not just big business, first.

“I supported you in the beginning over Hillary but in the end unfortunately, you show me you’re just not for the people,” wrote one man from Wisconsin. “You lied to the American people about COVID,” wrote another. “You are everything that is wrong with America, you have effectively ruined this country,” added a woman from Ohio. “Congrats, you suck.”

It is critical to listen for what they did not say: “What an ass I was to vote for that guy in the last election.” They did not regret or say they made a mistake. All working Americans have been in financial trouble since the 2008 crash, and rising health care problems and disabilities, health care costs and deductibles, and empowered insurance and pharmaceutical companies were an explosive brew. It is why many working people voted for Trump in 2016. It is why many working-class Democrats of color and millennials failed to turn out and defend Obamacare in midterm elections and in 2016. All these voters had reasons for those choices.

COVID has shattered so many lives, but also seemingly insurmountable political barriers. The great majority of working people, regardless of color, are desperate for a government that stops taking direction from the pharmaceutical companies, and brings the boldest feasible changes to our health care system.

This is from the a column in the conservative Washington Examiner


 I don’t think it’s a “wash,” though. I think a generic Republican would do better in November than Trump will.

All of this “what if” speculation arises again because of the double whammy of a caustic book about Trump by his former lawyer Michael Cohen and of the multiple reports late last week that Trump in numerous ways had denigrated U.S. soldiers who had been killed or captured. Trump, of course, denies all the stories (and there’s no need to belabor the details here), but there is no denying he has said and done enough things similar to the ones in these new reports that most of them are at least broadly plausible. 

While the decision-making process of voters, especially “swing voters,” involves a somewhat mysterious psychological alchemy, reports such as these certainly reinforce doubts about Trump. The simple reality many analysts and committed voters forget is that there is always a small but significant percentage of voters whose preferences — between candidates or between voting and not voting at all — remain quite fluid right up until Election Day. Committed voters might dismiss reports such as the ones that emerged against Trump last week, but the opinions of swing voters really do get buffeted around stories such as these.

All of which explains why some of us who are conservative still dream of a different Republican at the top of the ticket. We wonder if winning would be easier without all of Trump’s self-inflicted wounds or whether those wounds are more than counterbalanced by the way he motivates some nontraditionally Republican voters.

We’ll never know. What we do know, though, is that the stories of Trump’s alleged narcissism, racism, and cruelty come so repeatedly and so vividly that they wear on the nerves. If Trump would just get out of the way, maybe we would have a campaign dominated not by Trump’s outlandish personality but by ideas for America’s future.

Quote of the day: 
Trump reminds one of someone trying to fake fluency in a foreign language. Over and over, he makes glaring errors because he has no idea what he is talking about. Jennifer Rubin

At least Trump was savvy enough to understand that this wasn't good optics:

The Guardian on Tuesday reported on other tidbits from Cohen, such as a story about Donald Trump Jr. and his father’s alleged disgust with his penchant for trophy hunting. In one scene from the book, the president confronts Trump Jr. over the matter. “‘What the f*ck is wrong with you?’ Trump screamed at his son, according to Cohen. ‘You think you’re a big man sitting on the rocks and then boom! You kill some f*cking animal? Then you drag your brother into this bullsh*t? Why the f*ck would you post photos like that? Get the f*ck out of my office.'”

Trump eyes spending $100M of his own money in reelection bid - sounds like a desperation move to me

I would amend this sentence:
Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesman, told Bloomberg News. “President Trump has also built the world’s greatest digital fundraising operation, a dominant ground game, and a third advantage Joe Biden can never match -- enthusiasm.”  “President Trump has also built the world’s greatest digital fundraising operation, a dominant ground game, and a third advantage Joe Biden can never match -- unbridled manic hysteria fueled by cult like reverence to a leader who stokes bigotry, fear, and hatred.”

People who wear face masks become less sick if they do contract coronavirus, researchers find

Masks don't just stop the coronavirus's spread — they make you more likely to be asymptomatic, study says.

SEPTEMBER 8, 2020 9:12PM (UTC)
Face masks are a well-proven preventative measure for slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus. But it turns out that mask-wearing has a second, surprising benefit, too, in that they may actually confer heightened immunity upon those who wear them. 

That's the conclusion of a fascinating new study from University of California, San Francisco researchers. The study's findings: mask-wearing, aside from limiting virus spread, seems to make those who do contract coronavirus feel less sick.

Sept 7, 2020

On the right, click to read replies to Stormy Daniels (example: "
Would be so nice If we lived in a country where Generals like John Kelly, James Mattis or even big mouths like John Bolton had at least half the balls of Sally Yates, Marie Yovanovitch, Fiona Hill, Reality Winner, Christine Blasey Ford, or Stormy Daniels." Below excerpts from David Frum article:

Amid the clamor, it’s easy to overlook those who are not yelling, those who are keeping silent. Where are the senior officers of the United States armed forces, serving and retired—the men and women who worked most closely on military affairs with President Trump? Has any one of them stepped forward to say, “That’s not the man I know”?

How many wounded warriors have stepped forward to attest to Trump’s care and concern for them? How many Gold Star families have stepped forward on Trump’s behalf? How many service families?

The silence is resounding. And when such voices do speak, they typically describe a president utterly lacking in empathy to grieving families, wholly uncomprehending of sacrifice and suffering.


In June 2017, Sergeant Dillon Baldridge and two other soldiers were killed in Afghanistan. Trump called the Baldridge family. On the call, Baldridge’s father, Chris, complained about the slowness of military survivor benefits. To which Trump replied, “I'm going to write you a check out of my personal account for $25,000.” The promised check, of course, never arrived. Three months later, the elder Baldridge told his story to The Washington Post. “I could not believe he was saying that, and I wish I had it recorded because the man did say this. He said, ‘No other president has ever done something like this,’ but he said, ‘I’m going to do it.’”

Only then, after Baldridge went public, was Trump shamed into making good on his weird, inappropriate, and insincere promise of personal assistance.

Trump has rarely met families who received remains of their loved ones at Dover Air Force Base. Media reports count just four visits, because—in the words of an aide—he had been “rattled” by an angry outburst from the father of William “Ryan” Owens, killed in action in Yemen in February 2017. The elder Owens had refused to shake Trump’s hand.  

Trump soon recovered his composure. At his first speech to a joint session of Congress in February 2017, Trump told Ryan Owens’s widow, Carryn, that Owens would have been happy because the applause at the mention of his name “broke a record.” Later that month, Trump gave an interview to Fox News and shoved blame for the failed raid that cost Owens’s life onto “the generals.” “They lost Ryan,” he said.  


Trump has also abused General Stanley McChrystal, a former commander of forces in Afghanistan:“‘General’ McChrystal got fired like a dog by Obama. Last assignment a total bust. Known for big, dumb mouth. Hillary lover!”

And how did he treat Marine General John Allen, another former Afghanistan commander, who later coordinated the fight against ISIS? “His record = BAD”  

(It pays to increase your word power. Look up the word trumpery.)

Or Marine General James Mattis, Trump’s own former secretary of defense? “The world’s most over-rated general.”  

So perhaps it’s no surprise that when Trump went looking for military character witnesses, he could find so few to vouch for him.


Few former employees of the Trump administration praise him as a boss. Few business partners speak of his honesty. Few tenants of Trump buildings have anything good to say about the homes he supposedly built. Few officials of any city have been willing to celebrate any contribution to urban life. Few beneficiaries of any Trump philanthropy.

Imagine a man who has lived in the public eye for half a century, supposedly one of the country’s leading business figures, and when in trouble he struggles to summon credible or trustworthy witnesses from outside the Fox Cinematic Universe. There’s just a gaping zero where goodness should be.

So when it is reported—first in The Atlantic, then by The Washington Post, the APCNN, and Fox News—that multiple sources have heard Trump sneer and jibe at America’s fallen, the reporting rings true because it is consistent with the public record. The denials ring false because they defy that public record.

The things reported fit in the mouth you know. Everybody knows it’s true, and most especially those who have been tasked to deny it

Michael Cohen may have zero credibility with the maggots (and they don't read the Wall Street Journal anyway), but this is believable enough that if it gets more publicity they may hear about it and believe it… not that it matters: 

Trump said it was a lot easier to pay off Stormy Daniels than Melania: Michael Cohen

Also related to sex, Trump wants to dismiss what Peter Strzok alleges the more time he tries to disparage him and call him a liar the more publicity he gets.


The growing divide could also have damaging implications for President Donald Trump's reelection bid. Economic downturns historically have been harmful if not fatal for incumbent presidents, and Trump's base of working-class, blue-collar voters in the Midwest are among the demographics hurting the most. The White House has worked to highlight a rapid economic recovery as a primary reason to reelect the president, but his support on the issue is slipping: Nearly 3 in 5 people say the economy is on the wrong track, a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found.

"The economic inequities that began before the downturn have only worsened under this failed presidency," Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Friday. "No one thought they'd lose their job for good or see small businesses shut down en masse. But that kind of recovery requires leadership — leadership we didn't have, and still don't have."

Watch ad below

White House has talked to VA secretary about taking Pentagon job if Trump fires Esper

Trump has told aides for months he's unhappy with Mark Esper and wants to fire him. Trump's allies have told him doing so before the election would create turmoil.

Two senior administration officials said Trump has not entirely ruled out the possibility of making a change in Pentagon leadership before the election, although some of the president's allies have cautioned him to wait until after. Two senior administration officials said there are no current plans for Esper to be removed before the election.

"There are no plans to replace Secretary Esper," one of the officials said.

The White House declined to comment on the record. The Veterans Affairs Department and the Pentagon declined to comment.

The relationship between Trump and Esper was further strained last week when the two again publicly clashed over a policy decision. The president pointedly rebuffed Esper's decision to cut funding in the Pentagon budget for Stars and Stripes, a newspaper for U.S. military personnel that has been published since the Civil War. Esper had been advised by multiple aides not to propose cutting the newspaper's funding because the move would draw a political backlash, and it did from Republicans and Democrats.

The vice-presidential candidates will be on opposite ends of Wisconsin, a battleground that is increasingly essential to President Trump in November.

The decidedly uncharismatic Pence heads to the crucial state to speak to a bunch of pasty faced white voters... HB

The vice president is speaking to employees at the Dairyland Power Cooperative in La Crosse, a heavily white Mississippi River city at the western edge of the state. Ms. Harris, who is making her first trip to a battleground state since joining the Democratic ticket, is visiting with union workers and leaders as well as African-American businesspeople and pastors in Milwaukee, the Black hub of the state.

Each is expected to focus on the economy, with Mr. Pence hailing the state’s job growth before the coronavirus pandemic and Ms. Harris critiquing the administration’s handling of the virus and the resultant impact on the economy.

Yet their political missions are different. The vice president is hoping to appeal to voters in a historically Democratic part of Wisconsin, where Mr. Trump outperformed his Republican predecessors, in hopes they abandon their political roots again. Ms. Harris, for her part, is not traveling to heavily Democratic Milwaukee to win over Republicans. She’s hoping to rouse Black Democrats in a city where far fewer of them showed up in 2016 than in Mr. Obama’s two winning campaigns.

The strategy is clear: Trump wants to portray Biden as a doddering, senile old man who can easily be corrupted by extreme forces on the left. A guy whose brain is an AirBnb available for cheap rental by Antifa, or looters, whoever is the villain of the morning on Fox & Friends.
This strategy has not (yet) worked.

Recently, Donald Trump was asked about his party’s embrace of QAnon, whose followers believe that Tom Hanks, Ellen DeGeneres, the Dalai Lama, Hillary Clinton, and George Soros are all involved in a secret pedophile ring in which children are killed and eaten in order to cultivate a life-saving chemical from their blood.

“I’ve heard these are people that love our country,” Trump said. “So I don’t know really anything about it other than they do supposedly like me.”

This was not surprising. The very fine people of QAnon always say nice things about Donald Trump, so of course he reciprocates. That’s literally his entire strategy for life.

But it is pretty funny.

The absolute fact is that the batshit crazy QAnon vote won’t swing the election Trump’s way….

Because if you’ve got a red hat, a Facebook account, and two thumbs, the president of the United States is going to take your side, no matter what sort of bat-shit crazy you’re selling.

If you say that Satan-worshipping Bill Gates is controlling the world but that Donald Trump is the hero trying to save us, then Donald Trump, like a good puppet, he’s going to dance.

If Trump is reduced to tweeting about OANN it shows how desperate he is… 

Some good replies:

From a psychotherapist 


Two of my favorite columnists are Heather "Digby" Parton and Amanda Marcotte, both of who write for Salon and post a story almost every day.  Amanda's story today was the Salon featured top of the page story and was a real change of pace for her.

Here's my comment: Terrific story! am a fan of your political writing but this change of pace was, dare I say, refreshingly bubbly, downright fizzy. I clicked on all the links so you know they weren't a total waste of your time. I have a WaPo and NYT subscription so I read those articles too. 

Click below to enlarge this compelling photograph to full size and then click here to read the story.

Most recent readership stats (click to enlarge)

Sept. 6, 2020

Director of Strategic Campaign Response, Francis Brennan, who helps manage the Trump War Room campaign, took to social media this morning to attack Vice President Biden this way (link below):
This is the cemetery where Beau Biden (a veteran) is buried. This is after religious services.

While even short drops can be lethal, people have survived horrendous falls. In 1972, Vesna Vulovic, a cabin attendant, survived a 10,160m fall when the DC-9 she was in exploded over what is now the Czech Republic. Earlier this week, a 102-year-old woman survived after toppling from her fourth-floor balcony in Turin. Fortunately, her fall was broken by a children's playhouse. 

In very high falls, bodies can reach terminal velocity, the speed at which air resistance becomes so high it cancels out the acceleration due to gravity. Once at terminal velocity, you can fall as far as you like and you won't gather any more speed. 

Vulovic undoubtedly reached terminal velocity before hitting the ground, but it is hard to achieve when falling from a building. "A free-falling 120lb [54kg] woman would have a terminal velocity of about 38m per second," says Howie Weiss, a maths professor at Penn State University. "And she would achieve 95% of this speed in about seven seconds." That equates to a fall of around 167m, which is nearer 55 storeys high.

Cthulhu is a fictional cosmic entity created by writer H. P. Lovecraft and first introduced in the short story "The Call of Cthulhu", published in the American pulp magazine Weird Tales in 1928. Considered a Great Old One within the pantheon of Lovecraftian cosmic entities, the creature has since been featured in numerous popular culture references. Lovecraft depicts it as a gigantic entity worshipped by cultists, in shape like an octopus, a dragon, and a caricature of human form. Its name was given to the Lovecraft-inspired universe where it and its fellow entities existed, the Cthulhu Mythos.


In this fear-disordered view of the universe, Donald Trump does not appear to be a creature subject to reason or logic. He's more like the demonic entity in a horror narrative — Cthulhu or Candyman or Freddy Krueger or Vigo the Carpathian — who gains more power over you, and becomes more real, the more you think about him. 

If those fictional creations have cultural or psychological or perhaps even metaphysical explanations, so does Donald Trump. If they are best understood as bits and pieces of leftover diabolical theology, or as metaphors for mental illness — well, so is Donald Trump. 

There is no question that Trump feeds on attention, positive or negative, and delights in the anguish and anxiety of his enemies. That's been obvious from the beginning, when he rode down that now-legendary escalator and launched a campaign that was always more about speaking the unspeakable than about any specific ideas or proposals. But no one has been able to resist his hypnotic allure, and it does no good to blame "the media" or to claim that if the news networks hadn't begun airing his campaign rallies live, the entire Trump enterprise would have dried up and blown away.

That was also a circular, "Call of Cthulhu" phenomenon, with no beginning, no ending and a magical, self-reinforcing character. Media focused on Trump because the audience wanted more Trump, and in defiance of all known laws of the media universe, the more Trump they delivered, the more the audience wanted. Salon's core readership officially despises Trump, of course, and I can testify after years of back-and-forth experimentation that it remains challenging to persuade them (sorry, that would be you) to read about anything else.

I'm not claiming that Trump does not exist, or that there's no mathematical possibility he could be re-elected. If his 2016 campaign "drew to an inside straight," to use the poker metaphor I've heard many times, and won an election in statistically improbable fashion, that unlikely event is no less likely the second time around. 

I'm saying that Trump's demonic power does not exist, or to be more precise that it's something we invented — all of us, the media and the public, his fans and his haters — and vested in him, for mysterious but deeply troubling reasons. We have known from the beginning that Trump was a showman and a con man, doing a transparent act that all of us could see through, in different ways and from different perspectives. (His supporters delight in his performance, to be sure, but I have always believed it's a profound categorical error to conclude that they're a bunch of ignorant rubes who take the things he says literally.)

If Trump's act "worked," in the sense that he successfully devoured an inbred and decrepit political party and won a flukish, "inside straight" election, that happened because some of us desperately wanted it to and the rest of us desperately feared it might. That's the Candyman-Cthulhu effect in action, or an illustration of the psychological truism that every fear hides a wish. The really difficult question America must answer, not just right now but over the long haul, is not whether or how we can make Donald Trump go away. The answer to that is obvious. It's why we needed him in the first place.


We must vote — by any means necessary. If you cannot brave your polling place, take heart in knowing there is still great value in voting by mail. This is true whether you’re in a swing state, where your vote counts extra, or whether you live in a state where a Trump victory or defeat is a foregone conclusion.

Although the popular vote does not determine the president, it’s important to “run up the score” in that tally to make a statement of public will. For Democrats — and for the sake of a healthier future for the Republican Party — this election result has to take on the appearance of a tsunami, a roaring repudiation of Trump misrule and abuses and the dysfunctional political culture that paved the way.

But there’s undeniable strategic value in our showing up in person, whether at our polling places or in the mass protests that might be necessary in the days and weeks that follow — even during a pandemic made worse by the administration’s maladroit response. Some risks are worth taking.

So if you can vote in person, do vote in person. I certainly will, even if I have to go on hands and knees through that broken glass that my friend John vows to brave.

A member of USA Today’s Board of Contributors, Tom Krattenmaker writes on religion and values in public life. His most recent book is Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower.

My illustration 


As Kristin Kobes Du Mez argues in her recent book, "Jesus and John Wayne," white evangelical culture has focused on the declining sanctity of white manhood. This is why Donald Trump captured 78% of the white evangelical vote in the face of numerous claims of sexual misconduct and racism. And, in the 2017 Alabama Senate race, former judge Roy Moore, who had also been accused of sexual misconduct, received 80% of the white evangelical vote.

As ordained bishop of the church of white masculinity, President Trump has attempted to impose his masculinity by questioning the masculinity of his male opponents and showing disgust for his female adversaries. In the face of a call for social justice, the president has sacrificed free speech at the altar by dispatching federal officers and troops to stop peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park for a photo-op in front of St. John's Church. He proclaimed the sanctity of his white masculinity by rebuking the suggestions of scientists and downplaying the harm of the COVID-19 virus. He resisted wearing a mask to show the world his strength. In suit his followers have harassed protesters and questioned the masculinity of those who take precautions against the virus.

The actions of Trump and his worshippers, among most other Americans, are considered deplorable. At the church of white masculinity, these behaviors are saintly.

In The Washington Post:

Distinguished pol of the week: A true American hero explains honor to a soulless Trump

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who lost her legs and partial use of her right arm in service to the United States, said on a campaign call, “I am not shocked to hear yet more instances of Donald Trump belittling the sacrifices of those who have shown more bravery than he is capable of," although she said she was “appalled.” She continued, "I take my wheelchair and my titanium legs over Donald Trump’s supposed bone spurs any day.” She argued, “I’m not shocked but I am appalled. Of course he thinks about war selfishly. He thinks about it as a transactional cost.” She added, “This is a man who spends every day redefining the concept of narcissism. A man who’s met a life of privilege, with everything handed to him on a silver platter.”

Later in an interview on CNN she said, “This is who he is, people know that this story is accurate because he’s consistently said these things over the years and continues to act in a way where he likes to use the military for his own personal ego as if we were some sort of toy soldiers you could pull out and line up on your desk to play with.” She pinpointed the defect in Trump’s character, saying that “he really doesn’t understand the sacrifice, and he truly does not understand what it means to put something above yourself to serve this nation and be willing to lay down one’s life for this nation.” As she pointed out, Trump “does nothing that does not benefit Donald Trump, bottom line.”


I doubt that Trump actually reads articles in The Washington Post. However he might click on their website and read the titles of their top stories (he’d need a subscription to do this but he could see the front page without one). If he did this today this is what he’d see:

Article: Jennifer Griffin defended by Fox News colleagues after Trump Twitter attack over confirmation of Atlantic reporting, and Opinion:

Trump’s bad marriage with the military has finally exploded, (Jennifer Rubin, a conservative;
Trump’s insulting the troops is just the latest episode of the ‘nothing matters’ presidency, Max Boot, another conservative.

The vaccine story uses a  term: fixate which commonly means an obsession with something or someone. It is also a psychological term which originally referred to sexuality. (Freud distinguished the fixations of the libido on an incestuous object.) Here’s an excerpt from the Post article:


President Trump is so fixated on finding a vaccine for the novel coronavirus that in meetings about the U.S. pandemic response, little else captures his attention, according to administration officials.

Trump has pressed health officials to speed up the vaccine timeline and urged them to deliver one by the end of the year. He has peppered them with questions about the development status and mass-distribution plans. And, in recent days, he has told some advisers and aides that a vaccine may arrive by Nov. 1, which just happens to be two days before the presidential election.

Trump’s desire to deliver a vaccine — or at least convince the public that one is very near — by the time voters decide whether to elect him to a second term is in part a campaign gambit to improve his standing with an electorate that overwhelmingly disapproves of his management of the pandemic.

“We remain on track to deliver a vaccine before the end of the year and maybe even before November 1st,” Trump told reporters at a Friday news conference. “We think we can probably have it some time during the month of October.”

Trump has repeatedly offered similar promises, adding to the pressure scientists and officials at the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health feel to develop, test and authorize a coronavirus vaccine on what some of the president’s aides refer to as “Trump time.”

Sept. 5, 2020

With due apologies to weasels, a species that for various reasons have a bad reputation in several cultures.... Weasels have been assigned a variety of cultural meanings. Wiki tells us:

In North America, Native Americans (in the region of Chatham County, North Carolina) deemed the weasel to be a bad sign; crossing its path meant a "speedy death".[7] According to Daniel Defoe also, meeting a weasel is a bad omen.[8] In English-speaking areas, weasel can be an insult, noun or verb, for someone regarded as sneaky, conniving or untrustworthy. Similarly, "weasel words" is a critical term for words or phrasing that are vague, misleading or equivocal.

But Trump’s attack on Griffin was a bridge too far for her colleagues, seven of whom took to Twitter over the weekend to defend her.

“Jennifer @JenGriffinFNC is a great reporter and a total class act,” wrote Baier, the network’s chief political anchor.

“Jennifer Griffin is the kind of reporter we all strive to be like,” said national correspondent Bryan Llenas. “She’s courageous, smart, ethical, fair and a class act. She’s earned the trust of viewers throughout a distinguished career and is credibile.” 

“@JenGriffinFNC is a terrific reporter and a wonderful colleague,” State Department correspondent Rich Edson wrote.

“I’ll forever stand by @JenGriffinFNC,” said senior news producer Rocco Aloe.

“Jennifer Griffin is all you want in a journalist and a friend,” wrote senior field producer Yonat Friling. “She’s smart, courageous, she strives for professionalism and the truth. I am so proud to be her colleague.”

................Griffin, who joined Fox News in 1999, is one of the network’s most prized and distinguished journalists. In October 2019, after news anchor Shepard Smith, a frequent critic of the president, abruptly resigned, the network cited Griffin as evidence that a robust journalistic corps remained, despite external skepticism. “Tell that to Jennifer Griffin, whose report just went viral this week,” a spokesperson said at the time. “Or Chris Wallace, Bret Baier, Bill Hemmer, Martha MacCallum or Catherine Herridge, who have all done outstanding journalism.” (Herridge soon left the network for CBS News.)

“Jennifer is a straight shooter and always pursues reporting with the goal of uncovering the truth,” former Fox News foreign correspondent Conor Powell, who worked with Griffin, told The Washington Post on Saturday. “Unlike a lot of ‘news people’ at Fox News, she never was worried about being on the wrong side of a story and angering the opinion shows.” 


Anchor Neil Cavuto then endorsed her work. “Jennifer, you are a very good reporter,” he told her. Then, addressing his audience, he said, “She’s pretty scrupulous when it comes to making sure all the i’s are dotted, all the t’s are crossed.”

People Can’t Get Over Mike Pence’s Latest ‘Ridiculous’ Praise Of Donald Trump

“Do you think these guys wake up in the morning and say to themselves ‘What is the craziest thing I can say in defense of the boss today?’” wrote journalist Mehdi Hasan. Comedian Dom Joly had the best tweet in response: To know that somebody so shallow can say something so vapid about someone so empty

Not everyone who subscribes to parts of the QAnon mass delusion believes in all of it. Some people could be sharing the material in ignorance of its true depth. Others could be using it to carry out identity signaling — disenfranchised people seizing on a bizarre narrative to show that they are "Patriots," regardless of the content of the messages. And with such a mess of entry points, someone could very well pass along parts of the QAnon narrative without realizing what the whole entails — just look at the recent false rumors that Wayfair was involved in sex trafficking.

The copydesk wanted to focus on QAnon for this issue of Quibbles & Bits to emphasize that there’s more to the convoluted entity than the average reader might realize. The term we’ve decided to use — a mass or collective delusion — is not ideal; delusion could be interpreted as too sympathetic to Q believers, or as taking away their agency. (The word could also be related to a mental disorder, though that is not the context in which we’re using it here.) And, fair warning, you might still see conspiracy theory in a BuzzFeed News headline about QAnon since headlines and tweets aren’t conducive to nuance.

But delusion does illustrate the reality better than conspiracy theory does. We are discussing a mass of people who subscribe to a shared set of values and debunked ideas, which inform their beliefs and actions. The impact of QAnon is an example of “the real-world consequences of our broken information ecosystem,” the New York Times recently wrote. The proliferation of this delusion is in part a media literacy problem — which has become a reality problem.


Between the lines: Immigration has slipped significantly from 2016 in terms of Americans' priorities heading into the election — and most Americans do not support the construction of a physical border wall or hard-line immigration policies, per an NPR-Ipsos poll from late July.

  • Immigration fell to 12th place in terms of most worrisome topics, the poll found. COVID-19 commanded a clear lead, followed by health care, political polarization, racial injustice and crime or gun violence.
  • Still, the generic idea of a barrier that can protect people from elements they fear can provide comfort to people, which could potentially be converted to loyalty and votes.