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June 19, 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.... 

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. Army bases 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.
This was the comment I posted to the Rubin OpEd

I was going to just post the lyrics to Dixie, the MAGA crowd's theme song. To find the lyrics I found Union versions which I didn't know existed. 

Here's the MAGA Confederacy version:

I wish I was in the land of cotton,
old times there are not forgotten, 
Look away, look away, look away, Dixie Land. 
In Dixie Land where I was born in,
early on a frosty mornin',
Look away, look away, look away,
Dixie Land. 

Then I wish I was in Dixie, hooray! hooray!
In Dixie Land I'll take my stand to live and die in Dixie, 
Away, away, away down South in Dixie, 
Away, away, away down South in Dixie

Here are two Union versions:

Frances J. Crosby's lyrics: 

On! ye patriots to the battle,
Hear Fort Moultrie's cannon rattle!
Then away, then away, then away to the fight!
Go meet those Southern traitors,
With iron will.

And should your courage falter, boys,
Remember Bunker Hill.
Hurrah! Hurrah!
The Stars and Stripes forever!
Hurrah! Hurrah! 
Our Union shall not sever!

A second "unofficial" Union version was popular among Union troops, referred to as Union Dixie: 

Away down South in the land of traitors,
Rattlesnakes and alligators,
Right away, come away, right away, come away.

Where cotton's king and men are chattels,
Union boys will win the battles,
Right away, come away, right away, come away.
Then we'll all go down to Dixie,
 Away, away,
Each Dixie boy must understand
That he must mind his Uncle Sam.

Click above to watch cartoon

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.

JUNE 18, 2020

Just amusing myself is my reply to Laura Bassets' reply to Trump's tweet "Do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn't like me?" The GQ political writer tweeted "Do these SCOTUS decisions make my butt look big" - hence my answer below: (click image to enlarge)

Image augmented by Hal Brown

I couldn't decide which image to use. Here's the other one I made:
Hardball, softball, Nerf ball, or
marshmallow questions? You be the judge.

I am sure there's a chemist out there who could come up with some money-making use for 7-chloro-4-[4-[ethyl(2-hydroxyethyl)amino]1-methylbutylamino]-quinoline; 7-chloro-4-[4-[ethyl(2-hydroxyethyl)amino]1-methylbutylamino]quinoline that doesn't involve ingesting it. Perhaps it could be used as an additive to a toilet bowl cleaner. It even sounds like one. You could use it in a gasoline additive like STP and advertise that it will double your fuel economy and make your car run like Donald Trump's mouth.

Breaking News: Trump just spouted off one bizarre claim after another in a Wall Street Journal interview — here are the highlights (below)

1.) Trump says China may have deliberately allowed the novel coronavirus to spread to the United States in retaliation for his tariffs2.) Trump says he hired John Bolton to make foreign leaders fearful that he’d go to war with them unless they gave him what he wanted3.) Trump says that he actually was threatening to have looters shot in his now-infamous tweet4.) Trump calls COVID-19 testing “overrated” then brags about how many tests the United States has done5.) Trump brags that he made more people aware of Juneteenth by holding a rally on that date in a city known as the site of the worst anti-black pogrom in American history6.) Trump suggests some people are wearing face masks to damage him politically.

Joe Biden's first official TV ads are winners. See them here.

Depending on which article you read there are five, seven o4 10 big claims in Bolton's book. BBC lists 10 of them, explained here.

1. Trump wanted help from China to win re-election... 

2. ... and said building internment camps was the 'right thing to do'

3. Trump offered 'personal favors to dictators' 

4. The Democrats should have gone further with impeachment efforts

5. Trump suggested he wanted to serve more than two terms 

6. Trump didn't know the UK was a nuclear power...

7. ... or if Finland was part of Russia

8. He was very close to actually quitting Nato

9. Invading Venezuela would be 'cool'

10. Even allies ridiculed him

EXCERPT: "These right-wing extremists want to replace America's constitutional democracy with authoritarian right-wing rule. Online, these right-wing extremists spend a great deal of time talking about the 'boogaloo' and killing federal law enforcement agents. They also fantasize about societal breakdown and killing their neighbors for supplies," he said. "This organizing is being done online on Facebook and elsewhere. Facebook thinks this is fine and has not taken it down."

Carrillo's charges come after the FBI arrested three other "Boogaloo" boys with military experience who prosecutors claim plotted terror attacks surrounding a Black Lives Matter protest in Las Vegas. The three men wanted to attack federal officers and other targets in hopes of sparking mass chaos, according to prosecutors.
President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr have sought to blame violence surrounding several of the protests on "antifa," a decentralized anti-fascist movement, despite little evidence of its supporters' involvement. Trump has criticized those who argued that right-wing extremists were also exploiting the protests.

"It's ANTIFA and the Radical Left," the president tweeted. "Don't lay the blame on others!"

But federal charges filed by the Justice Department against protesters thus far show no evidence of any links to antifa.

"Typically, when we're talking about Antifa, which doesn't exist as a group in the way the president imagines, it would make it difficult to associate somebody with a group that doesn't exist as an organization," former FBI agent Mike German told The Daily Beast. "They're imagining something that isn't real. It'll be hard for an agent focused on facts to list it."


According to screen captures by the Washington Post, the campaign is going after anti-fascist protesters in Facebook ads using the upside-down triangle that some prisoners of Nazi death camps were forced to wear during the Holocaust. 

“The red inverted triangle was first used in the 1930s to identify Communists, and was applied as well to Social Democrats, liberals, Freemasons and other members of opposition parties,” said the Post. “The badge forced on Jewish political prisoners, by contrast, featured a red inverted triangle superimposed on a yellow triangle.”

JUNE 17, 2020

Keep an eye on this story: Prosecutor in Roger Stone Case Will Testify About Barr’s Intervention (NY Times, subscription)

EXCERPT — A career Justice Department prosecutor who quit the case against President Trump’s friend Roger J. Stone Jr.after political appointees intervened to seek a more lenient sentence has agreed to testify under subpoena next week before the House Judiciary Committee.
House Democrats issued subpoenas on Tuesday to the prosecutor, Aaron S.J. Zelinsky, along with a second Justice Department official, John W. Elias, who has also agreed to testify in public on June 24 about politicization under Attorney General William P. Barr — setting up a potential fight with the department about what they will be permitted to say.
Mr. Elias is a career official in the Justice Department’s antitrust division, which opened an inquiry into a fuel efficiency dealbetween major automakers and the State of California; congressional Democrats have called the scrutiny politically motivated.
Democrats are calling the officials whistle-blowers, suggesting they are covered by federal laws that prohibit reprisals against civil servants who give information to Congress.

Putin's not afraid of looking unmanly: Russia Sets Up ‘Disinfection Tunnel’ To Protect Putin From Virus, State Media Says

Who knew? She has a PhD in clinical psychology (From Forbes)

Mary Trump is the daughter of Donald Trump’s older brother, Fred Trump Jr., who died in 1981 at age 42 from a heart attack caused by alcoholism, leaving behind Mary and her brother, Fred III. 
The death of Mary’s father has been an ongoing source of tension in the family, surfacing publicly when Fred Jr.’s children brought a court case against Donald and his siblings in 2000, contesting the division of assets of their grandfather’s real estate empire in his will.
A subject that will be explored in further detail in the book, Mary gave an uncharacteristic interview to the New York Daily News in 2000, saying her “aunt and uncles should be ashamed of themselves” for their handling of the will and treatment of family members, including her father, alleging Donald, Maryanne and Robert Trump also cut off funds needed to treat their nephew’s cerebral palsy. 
Mary earned a bachelor’s and master’s in English Literature from Tufts University and Columbia University, respectively, and then completed a master’s degree and Ph.D in clinical psychology at Adelphi University, later contributing to a 2002 book about schizophrenia. 

Image by Hal Brown

Mike Pence Hammered (on Twitter) Over Coronavirus Op-Ed: ‘As Pathetic As It Reckless’


 The Political Covid

Hydroxychloroquine truther Laura Ingraham urges Trump campaign to ignore "alarmist COVID drivel"

The Fox News host also used her platform to accuse Anthony Fauci of leading the nonexistent "medical deep state"

The real COVID-19

 We are still in toddlerhood (hopefully have moved past infancy)in using the tools of modern science such as cutting edge imaging techniques like fMRI's to CRISPR gene editing, to Scanning transmission electron microscopy

Covid-19 has been a sobering disease for the general public, a splash of ice cold water in the face of those who think medicine is infallible, because despite all the advances in medicine and the belief among the public there are some life and death medical mysteries that are yet unsolved. 

JUNE 16, 2020

I assume he will lose, but David Cay Johnston warns us: Don’t make the mistake of counting Trump out — yet


Trump was the most unqualified of all, a man who I had seen at times be delusional and had never done a day of public service in his life. He was a draft dodger, a pal of mobsters including a major cocaine trafficker he was in business with and who he helped evade the long prison sentence he was rightly due.

But few knew this or that he had put a sickly infant’s life in jeopardy as part of a scheme to get a bigger share of his father’s fortune. What they knew was his polished image as a master businessman, an image that had no connection to reality.

Very few realized Trump suffered from serious mental illness. He believes he is the greatest of all humans, smarter and more competent than everyone else despite abundant evidence that he is not very smart, doesn’t understand basics of science or economics and has spent his entire life blowing one fortune after another, aided by lying on accounting, loan and tax documents. He even cheated novice roulette players at Trump Castle, the only known cheating at any Atlantic City casino.

Winning Above All

But Trump benefitted from feral instincts that feed him from any social norms, any notion of fair play or even decency. To the Trump family, only one thing matters–winning. And it’s a win if you get the money and don’t get indicted.

Honor is a word unknown in the Trump family. Lying, cheating, stealing and denying are absolutely OK to the Trumps so long as they benefit.

Another good story from Salon: A brief history of the "Lost Cause": Why this toxic myth still appeals to so many white Americans

More religion: Franklin Graham fumes over SCOTUS ruling: My rights to fire LGBTQ people ‘are the freedoms our nation was founded on’

I don't know what word coming from Graham's god, the one and only capital G God according to him, he is referring to. I do know a few words I'd apply to people like Graham who wrap their bigoted beliefs under the cloak of region.

Excerpt: Anti-LGBTQ activist Franklin Graham is furious over Monday’s Supreme Court ruling that finds Title Vii of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects LGBTQ workers from discrimination, and says America was founded on his right to fire them.
“As a Bible-believing follower of Jesus Christ, my rights should be protected,” Graham writing on Facebook about the SCOTUS decision, insists. “Even if my sincerely held religious beliefs might be the minority, I still have a right to hold them. The same holds true for a Christian organization. These are the freedoms our nation was founded on.”
“I believe this decision erodes religious freedoms across this country,” the evangelical Christian preacher continued. “People of sincere faith who stand on God’s Word as their foundation for life should never be forced by the government to compromise their religious beliefs.”


JUNE 15, 2020

Washington Post reporter Phil Rucker revealed Monday that their paper had no intention of writing about President Donald Trump’s trouble descending a ramp and drinking a glass of water with one hand. It was only after Trump freaked out on Twitter and posted about it that the Post wrote it up. Related story: Why is Trump right to Worry About a Glass of Water (Photo opps or Glass of Watergate?) 

Quote of  the day comes from Greg Sargent's WaPo column: New questions about Trump’s ugly Bible stunt hint at some dark truths

Click above to enlarge
In other words, this episode stands as the precipitating moment at which some of the darkest and most seminal truths about the Trump presidency emerged. Trump’s abuses led military officials to feel the need to signal to the country that something is very wrong, that our values and ideals are under serious threat.

We are now learning that the crackdown might have been more tightly tied to Trump’s desire to stage a messianic and megalomaniacal photo op than previously known — and that the abuses undertaken to facilitate it might have been worse than we thought.

A full reckoning with this episode is urgently needed. When that happens, it will indeed stand as an iconic moment of the Trump presidency — yet not at all how he and his spinners had hoped.

This is what I found in my Google News alert for malignant narcissism today:
There is something wrong with Donald Trump. Besides, you know, the obvious malignant narcissism, the racism, the ignorance, the lack of attention span, the cruelty, the sexism, etc. We could go on. But during his graduation speech at West Point this weekend, the President needed two hands to drink from a glass of water, and seemed to struggle to walk down a ramp. 
Many are wondering if Trump is suffering from some sort of cognitive decline or dementia. He slurs his words, he rambles, and his thoughts aren’t connected to one another. And then there was that mysterious rush visit to Walter Reed last year, which the White House claimed was “phase one” of Trump’s physical. You know, how we all get our physicals in multiple phases?

Forbes: Questions Continue About President Trump’s Health - mental and physical...

Why are Trump’s issues with walking and drinking water with two hands causing so much speculation? First, Trump appears loathe to admit any weakness or vulnerability. He tends to dig in deeper to explain that everything is fine, even when there is video evidence is to the contrary. It is a characteristic of a person who could be covering up a larger issue or a person who is in denial of an issue. Either option is concerning. With narcissism, denying any physical weakness tends to be common.
Second, there has been speculation that Trump’s unscheduled visit to Walter Reed in November 2019 was not for a routine physical. Reporters were told to not disclose the visit until Trump arrived at Walter Reed. Presidential physicals at Walter Reed are usually announced on public schedules. In March 2020, Trump had not completed the remainder of his annual exam. He stated, “I’m so busy, I can’t do it,” stating he would go “probably over the next 90 days.” The White House has released virtually no information from the November 2019 visit, except for Trump’s weight and cholesterol count. 
In October 2017, the book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump was published. It was written by 27 psychiatrists and psychologists, who detail what they see as Trump’s mental state causing a danger to the nation and to individuals. In December 2019, 350 psychiatrists and other mental health professionals signed a statement that Trump had “narcissistic rage,” and “destructive impulses.” The statement said that “failing to monitor or to understand” Trump’s mental state “could lead to catastrophic outcomes.” All three head psychiatrists on the statement stated they were willing to testify during Trump’s impeachment inquiry. 
Trump has made comments about Joe Biden’s cognitive abilities, which are drawing attention to his own possible cognitive issues. Trump has waved his arms during the national anthem like he was conducting an orchestra, advocated for police brutalityrage tweeted, spread conspiracy theories even when a deceased woman’s family asked him to stop, and disputes his poll approval numbers while there are nationwide protests against police brutality, amongst other behaviors. In addition, there continues to be a lack of disclosure about Trump’s November 2019 impromptu visit to Walter Reed. Trump’s gait and two-handed water behavior are concerning to many, as there may now be a clear physical manifestation in addition to behaviors witnessed before and during his presidency.

JUNE 14, 2020

via Gfycat Trump as a baby

Revealed: The Family Member Who Turned on Trump

Excerpt: “There are a few pollsters who are bought and paid for, and they will tell you [the client] what you want to hear,” Frank Luntz, a famed-GOP pollster and Trump-skeptical conservative, said, without naming names. “There are pollsters [for whom] if the check is big enough, the lie will be big enough.”
“I don’t envy those who have to tell Donald Trump what he doesn’t want to hear,” Luntz continued. “I’ve met him several times, I’ve met Biden several times. I would rather present bad [polling] information to Biden than Donald Trump. Presenting bad information or tough information to Joe Biden, you’ll break his heart, if you present tough information to Donald Trump, he breaks your arm.”

JUNE 13, 2020

Add caption

Worries Trump is ‘deteriorating rapidly’ after video shows him struggling to walk down ramp: ‘They can’t hide this much longer’

Quoting Covet writing, “Your trust toward me becomes higher, and I can call upon that trust many times if I need to. I can even make mistakes and that trust level, that emotional reserve, will compensate for it,” Lewis adds, “The opposite, Covey warns, results in your emotional bank account being overdrawn. And that is exactly where Trump finds himself in the summer of 2020. Trump has made significant withdrawals against the nation’s emotional (and physical) bank account. He’s like an abusive deadbeat dad who misses years’ worth of birthdays but thinks he can make up for it all with one-weekend road trip.”

 “While Trump’s campaign coffers might be overflowing, he hasn’t stored up much goodwill in his social rainy-day fund. In fact, he’s in the red,” the Daily Beast columnist continued. “OK, Trump’s die-hard base (the people who are, in a sense, “married” to him) frequently have their erogenous zones massaged. But nobody else does, and his base’s 40 percent of the vote isn’t going to be enough.”

Lewis then checked off a sampling of the president’s sins.

“Trump has put kids in cages, said there are good people on ‘both sides’ of a racist march and counter-march, attacked a gold star family, mocked a disabled reporter, ordered police to use tear gas to ‘clear’ protesters for a photo op, and suggested that a former congressman is guilty of murder (just to mention a few of the ‘greatest hits’). These are not offenses like forgetting to put the toilet seat back down or wearing black shoes with a brown belt,” he elaborated. ” In relationship terms, what Trump has done is the equivalent of, I don’t know, paying off a porn star after having sex with her while your wife is pregnant. Trump’s multitude of sins (including an economy that is circling the drain) can’t be absolved by a dozen roses.”

It's long past time to stop excusing Donald Trump's racist trolling as the accidental bumblings of an idiot who doesn't know better. That's not to claim Trump is a political genius — or even a person of average intelligence. But he has managed to direct the limited IQ points at his disposal towards the practice of racist trolling, and he knows what he's doing. Like anyone who focuses single-mindedly on a specific skill for decades, he has gotten good at this one thing. 

This reality is critical to keep in mind when interpreting Trump's response to the rising tide of national protests against racism and police brutality in the past couple of weeks. The temptation is strong to resort to "he's too dumb to know what he's doing" argument, which might fluff one's own ego but has the unfortunate side effect of downplaying how sinister Trump's fascistic impulses actually are.

Trump’s Use of the Military Does Not Create the “Appearance” of Abuse. It Is Abuse. Dalhia Lithwick

‘They’re cooked’: Team Trump ‘terrified’ because voters are no longer buying GOP’s racist ‘hoodoo juice’

The Media:

 It's not just toxic powerful men

‘To Say That She’s An Abusive Figure Is An Understatement’: At ABC News, Toxicity Thrives

Presidential Virus Update

How long before Dr. Fauci is fired? He is certainly tempting it by coming out against him even if it is in an interview with the Canadian Broadcast Corp.  He's been sidelined anyway, not that it matters because Trump has decided away the danger of the pandemic. Covid-19, if Trump couldn't wash it away with Lysol he believes he has wished it away. Good on him, let's hold a rally in Tulsa and have his maggoty MAGA's scream their germs at each other.

June 12, 2020

White House divide on Floyd response, as some push Trump for tougher tactics and

Trump ignites confusion with an ‘incoherent’ rant about ‘questionable’ Abraham Lincoln

In a television interview recorded Thursday, Trump said the date had not been chosen deliberately but dismissed concerns about the timing.
“Think about it as a celebration. My rallies are celebrations,” Trump told Fox News. “In the history of politics, I think I can say, there’s never been any group or any person that’s had rallies like I do. . . .The fact I’m having a rally on that day you can really think about that very positively.”
During the same interview, Trump also asserted that, “I think I’ve done more for the black community than any other president.”
“And let’s take a pass on Abraham Lincoln, ’cause he did good, though it’s always questionable, you know,” he added.  (Washington Post)

Quote of the day: Twitter Trump is the man himself. He has pioneered a method of presidential communication unmonitored by advisers, unchecked by White House fact-checkers (assuming they still exist) and untethered to normal human values and self-restraint. It is our window into his shriveled soul. If what you see doesn’t revolt you, you have lost the capacity for revulsion. Michael Gerson, Washington Post

Really an amusing excerpt:

Trump’s own advisers keep offering different advice on the best way he can help the nation move forward, while the president relies on his own instincts to guide him as he usually does — leaving people of color and their allies feeling largely unheard.

For many White House aides, Trump’s handling of these protests takes them back to another pivotal moment in his presidency: His response to the August 2017 protests in Charlottesville, Va. Trump at the time would not quickly condemn white supremacists after the murder of a young woman by a man who drove through a crowd. After 48 hours, Trump delivered a line that continues to haunt his presidency: “You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”
Both then and now, Trump aides wrestled with their boss’ equivocation.

“Trump is not sharing any sense of empathy at all, because that is not who he is. You cannot ask him to magically turn it on because it is not there,” one former senior administration official and person of color said. 

“America, in 2016, elected a barroom brawler. Does America need in its president what it needed in 2016? Times have changed,” the same former official added. “My vote is open. I am a Republican and I worked in this administration, but who I vote for in November will depend on what America needs in five months. If the country is still burning like this, it will be an issue.”

How Trump rationalizes his hate:

Oh North Korea, how much love doth Trump have for you? Gotta hand it to Kim for kicking Trump while he's desperately waging war against his own citizens and pretending not to be down.


GOP Senate losses
 predicted, click to enlarge
These trends, combined with polls showing a big, rapid shift in the direction of support for Black Lives Matter, are convincing some on the left that the dam has finally broken — that years of quasi-fascist trolling by Trump has triggered a long-hoped-for lurch to the left in public opinion.

But this is premature. The far more likely scenario is that the left will overreach — indeed, that it already has — and that even if a sizable portion of the electorate decides that it's time for Trump to go in November, this shift will be followed by a rapid rebound in the other direction. That's because we now live in an era of polarization and centrifugal ideological forces that aren't just going to be dissipated by a single electoral repudiation of the Republicans.

Such is the dynamic in a time of tilt-a-whirl politics that a big landslide for the left might actually be the best possible scenario for the GOP, just as Trump himself was rocket fuel for Democrats in 2018 and perhaps this year as well. That's because while Trump has practiced and shown the electoral viability of a harder right form of politics, his distinctive incompetence and malevolent narcissism have made him an atrocious president by any measure. A Trump trouncing in 2020 would enable the GOP to coalesce around a less flamboyantly terrible model of leadership for the future of the party and the country. Tom Cotton, Nikki Haley, Mike Pompeo, Mike Pence, Marco Rubio, Tucker Carlson — any of these and possibly many other potential presidential candidates would be nicely set up by a Trump defeat for a strong run in 2024.

But that scenario will not only be rendered more likely by Trump getting booted from the White House in November. It will also be advanced by the left overplaying its cards.

Science Friday

EXCERPT: The French mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749-1827) believed that the Universe was a piece of machinery, and that physics determines everything. Napoleon, who had read up on Laplace’s work, confronted him about the conspicuous absence of a creator in his theory. ‘I had no need of that hypothesis,’ came the reply. Laplace might have said the same thing about free will, which his mechanistic universe rendered superfluous.
Since Laplace’s day, scientists, philosophers and even neuroscientists have followed his lead in denying the possibility of free will. This reflects a widespread belief among theoretical physicists that if you know the initial values of the variables that characterise a physical system, together with the equations that explain how these variables change over time, then you can calculate the state of the system at all later times. For example, if you know the positions and velocities of all the particles that make up a gas in a container, you can determine the positions and velocities of all those particles at all later times. This means that there should be no freedom for any deviation from this physically determined trajectory.
Consider, then, that everything we see around us – rocks and planets, frogs and trees, your body and brain – is made up of nothing but protons, electrons and neutrons put together in very complex ways. In the case of your body, they make many kinds of cells; in turn, these cells make tissues, such as muscle and skin; these tissues make systems, such as the heart, lungs and brain; and these systems make the body as a whole. It might seem that everything that’s happening at the higher, ‘emergent’ levels should be uniquely determined by the physics operating beneath them. This would mean that the thoughts you’re having at this very moment were predetermined at the start of the Universe, based on the values of the particle physics variables at that time.

Now you might be forgiven for doubting whether William Shakespeare’s sonnets, Winston Churchill’s speeches and the words in Stephen Hawking’s book A Brief History of Time(1988) really came into being in this way. And you would be right to doubt: there are many problems with the skeptics’ position.


So what determines which messages are conveyed to your synapses by signalling molecules? They are signals determined by thinking processes that can’t be described at any lower level because they involve concepts, cognition and emotions in an essential way. Psychological experiences drive what happens. Your thoughts and feelings reach ‘down’ to shape lower-level processes in the brain by altering the constraints on ion and electron flows in a way that changes with time.

For example, suppose you’re walking down the street, and just in front of you a terrible accident happens – smashed-up cars, people injured, blood everywhere. You react with horror: sympathy for those who’ve been hurt, fear that they will die, a guilty sense of relief that it didn’t happen to you. These are all mental events that take place because of the way your brain functions at the psychological level, based on some combination of past experience and innate responses. None of those qualities – sympathy, fear, guilt – occur at the ion or synapse level. These high-level mental operations act down to alter the shape of ion channels, and so change the motions of billions of ions and electrons in your brain. In an intricate causal dance between levels in your brain, those thoughts are able to occur because of the underlying spike chains, but it’s their essentially psychological nature – what it means to recognise an accident, which thoughts flow through your mind as you decide what to do, what it feels like to experience the shock of seeing the event – that causes what happens. Physics enabled what took place in your head and body, but didn’t determine it; your mental interpretation of the event did.
June 11, 2020

News Corp executive chairman Rupert Murdoch is reportedly pessimistic about President Trump’s odds of winning his re-election.

According to a Vanity Fair report on Thursday, citing two sources, Murdoch recently told people that Trump will “crash and burn” in the November election.

“It’s a clear-eyed assessment, just based on just looking at the news,” one person who has spoken with Murdoch regarding the election told Vanity Fair.

News Corp declined when asked by TPM for comment. The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment. 

Vanity Fair’s report of the pessimism that Murdoch has over Trump’s re-election comes amid the President’s increasingly fraught relationship with Fox News. The media mogul’s family owns its parent company, Fox Corporation.



By Angelo Lynn
Donald Trump is a failed president. Americans are facing the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression of the 30s, the worst pandemic since the Spanish Flu of 1918, and the worst civil unrest and protests since the riots of the late 1960s.
It is no coincidence that these three calamities have occurred under Trump’s caustic leadership, abysmal ignorance and deeply flawed character.
And rather than even try to unite the nation, Trump’s reaction is to lead Americans in a war against each other. The question of the day is whether Republicans would follow Trump if he called out the troops against our own, or would they defend America’s democracy?
Dramatic? Yes. But shockingly it’s not clear whether Republican leaders in the Senate would defy a president who has so consumed their party they have nothing left to defend—and much to lose if Americans turn them out of power in November. And one would have to be blind not to see the capitulation to Trump’s every whim from the majority of Republican leaders at the state and national level. SCROLL DOWN

What we have learned over the past four years is that Trump is a crass, amoral, seriously dysfunctional person who is mean-spirited at his core. His narcissism is boundless and his intolerance of criticism dangerous.
In the face of a national insurrection over police brutality, he encourages police, mayors and governors throughout the country to get tougher on protesters and threatens to send in the U.S. military in battle against American citizens. In actions that defy logic, each day he seems to compound his troubles by making yet another egregious error in judgment. The news cycle of each day’s horrendous events is exhausting, unbelievable, and yet, frightfully true.


The problem for Trump—but actually the problem for all the rest of us—is that we all saw the video. We all saw a peaceful 75-year-old approach the Buffalo police officers, who then push him to the pavement and walk past his bleeding body. In fact, the existence and wide circulation of that video are what forced the Buffalo Police Department, which originally claimed that a person “was injured when he tripped & fell” during a “skirmish involving protestors,” to suspend the two officers. The existence of the video, for all intents and purposes, closed the case, at least in the court of most sentient public opinion.

But closed cases are actually Donald Trump’s specialty. And the more compelling the evidence of a closed case is, the more apt he is to relitigate it. It’s no accident that some of Donald Trump’s most incendiary claims require his true believers to accept that their own eyes cannot be believed. Whether it’s photographic evidence of his lackluster inaugural crowds or hand-altered meteorological maps, almost every Trumpian fictionalized tour de force starts with a false claim—also known as a lie—that is readily disproven or even obviously wrong to the naked eye, and then subverts it. The more overtly false, the better.

Indeed, Trump himself has made the Orwellian claim that, among the many entities he insists lie constantly—the media, the FBI, the intelligence community, the entire House of Representatives now that it’s Democrat-led, the nameless and faceless “deep state” conspirators—the lyingest liars out there are our own eyes and ears. In July 2018, Trump, while addressing a Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Kansas City, told those assembled that they shouldn’t trust their eyes and ears at all and should instead get their facts from Trump alone. “Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening,” Trump said. 

“Just stick with us, don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.” In some ways it’s an old play, presaged by George Orwell in 1984 when he warned that “the Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” It’s a double whammy that demonizes and delegitimizes the media as a whole while also—as Tyler Cowen has argued—wringing loyalty from all those who must then repeat the lie and cover for it. Every repetition of a lie deepens their loyalty.

But casual lies alone are for amateurs; the real authoritarian move is to construct an entire false reality—an unreality—around those lies.

By my friend Howard Covitz

June 10, 2020

Donald Trump roasted for collapsing on Twitter after losing Joe Biden in CNN poll

Image modified by Hal Brown

Trump Just Cited This Crazypants “News” Report Narrated by a Russian-Accented Computer

“Her dissociative ability played out again over the weekend,” wrote Fox (in Vanity Fair). “The controversy unfolded on Thursday, when Wichita State University Tech decided it would not air a speech that Ivanka had prerecorded for its virtual graduation ceremony on Saturday. The school made the decision after students and staff condemned the White House’s response to the protests in the wake of George Floyd’s killing. Ivanka had been asked to deliver the address in February, and she recorded the address, which largely talked about coronavirus and did not address matters of race, before the protests began.” However, following outrage, the school acknowledged the lineup was insensitive and canceled her engagement.
“Ivanka decided to release the taped address on her own Twitter account, where in the days since Floyd’s murder, she has also tweeted to express sympathy to his family and all those hurting, as well as to promote her father’s economic agenda, a farming initiative, and to wish Vice President Mike Pence a happy birthday by posting a photo of the two of them waving together,” Fox wrote. “‘Our nation’s campuses should be bastions of free speech. Cancel culture and viewpoint discrimination are antithetical to academia,’ she posted on Friday. ‘Listening to one another is important now more than ever!’ Immediately, her remarks caught ire online, and the hashtag #ByeIvanka trended.”

Here’s the real reason why so many right wingers are terrified of antifa

June 9, 2020

Trump mulls firing Jared: "Trump is malignantly crazy about the bad poll numbers," a former West Wing official told Vanity Fair.
"He's going to broom Kushner and [campaign manager Brad] Parscale — the numbers are not getting better," a Republican source close to the campaign added.
Trump has blown up "frequently" at Kushner in the past, apparently angry that Kushner "received too much positive press" earlier this year when he appeared on the cover of Time, a longtime Trump obsession.

Quote of the day from Chris Wallace on Fox News on The View:

“The president has his base and he has his beliefs and he’s entitled to them,” Wallace began. “I would say that the last week was a very bad week for the president in terms of politics, in terms of his potential re-election prospects. When you’re getting called out by the Episcopal bishop of Washington and the Archbishop of the Catholic Church of Washington; when you’re getting called out by Jim Mattis, to the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Mike Mullen, and your own current Secretary of Defense [Mike Esper] breaks with you, that’s not a good week. He had some good news on the economy. Clearly — there’s a new poll in the Washington Post that indicates by a two to one margin people don’t think the president has handled the last week properly. His approval ratings have dropped. You can argue as to whether he’s right or wrong, but politically it’s been a bad week.”

Click above to read more replies to this tweet

The man the police pushed has been a Catholic social worker all of his adult life. This is what Trump claims:


For swimmers with a spare $2000 who are stuck at home
You know those guys in a parade who follow behind the elephants, scooping up their crapola as they go? Trump is surrounded by guys like that. His presidency couldn't survive without them.

For instance, most of us remember when Trump floated the cockamamie notion of buying Greenland. In the wake of that story, advisers across the board had no choice but to scramble into action to awkwardly justify the ridiculousness. Trump's chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow appeared on Fox News that weekend, hilariously beclowning himself to explain why it'd be an excellent idea to buy the massive frozen island — something about "valuable minerals." 

In a more recent and certainly more serious example of the backstopping, we learned the other day that Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had to practically hog-tie Trump in order to keep the president from ordering regular army soldiers into major American cities to quell the demonstrations that arose in the wake of George Floyd's murder in Minneapolis. According to Dexter Filkins, reporting for The New Yorker:
In a meeting in the Oval Office, Trump expressed a desire to quell the protests by sending forces—not the National Guard but regular military—into American cities. Milley resisted. "They got into a shouting match," the senior military official told me. Trump finally backed down.
Make no mistake: Milley isn't a hero, but perhaps his obstinance here saved lives as well as prevented an unprecedented violation of the Posse Comitatus Act. For Trump's presidency as well, Milley may have prevented a deeper collapse in Trump's popularity polling, once again saving this badly inept president from his own cruel whimsy — his own worst instincts.

Watch new ad
Unfortunately for Trump, no one was around to wrestle the president to the ground before he dragged his ponderous bulk over to St. John's church for what was the most ridiculous photo-op since Mike Dukakis hopped aboard a tank during the 1988 election.

Speaking of which, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who participated in the photo-op, later compared Trump's hamfisted exploitation of the church to Winston Churchill surveying the Nazi-inflicted damage in London during World War II. This is sort of like saying your office's victory in that after-work softball game was just like the famous "Giants won the pennant!" moment.

June 8, 2020

‘Absolutely not’: Top general vows troops will never obey illegal orders from Trump Gen. Mark Milley, current Chair of Joint Chiefs of Staff 

 This is now Amerika.

Click image to enlarge

Another general

Ivanka's inspiring new video
Another General dumps Trump: 
Trump is also trying to maintain control of the political narrative in these months before the election and he is doing this through chaos. It is really a very a difficult time for many people in America. Trump's lack of leadership on racial issues is especially painful. In fact, instead of being a leader on questions of racial equality Donald Trump appears to be doing everything possible to inflame these issues. Donald Trump is a transactional leader. He thinks that being president of the United States is the same as buying real estate. Donald Trump also believes that he can use reckless rhetoric and that there will not be any consequences. In both international and domestic politics, language has consequences. Trump's abusive language is very problematic. Reliability and consistency are very important. Trump does not have those qualities.

Best tweet on Trump starting re-starting rallies
Go for it!

John Bolton Aims To Publish Tell-All White House Memoir In June whether White House approves or not

Bolton is already talking to TV networks to line up interviews to promote the book titled “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” according to the Post. 
Bolton plans to go ahead with publication regardless of whether he gets formal approval from the Trump administration, sources told the newspaper, which described the hefty (592-page) book as “scathing,” “caustic” and “unvarnished.”
I added the crying eyes

Former Harvard psychiatrist Lance Dodes: Trump is trying to "turn America into a police state"

Dr. Lance Dodes: As Trump sinks into "paranoid rage," he will likely seek to cancel or overturn 2020 election

When Donald Trump took office there was a lot of talk about how he would "become presidential" and grow into the office and its responsibilities.
But he could not change his behavior because, as a sociopath or psychopath, he has a severe personality disorder. People with personality disorders don't change depending on the job they hold. The hope that Donald Trump would stop being sadistic, that he would develop the human quality of empathy for others, that he would value the rights and feelings of others, was never realistic. I think people keep pleading with him to be someone he is not because we all wish to have a president who is mature and compassionate rather than someone who is, in his essence, cruel.

June 7, 2020
Click to enlarge

Between the protesters, the police and storm troopers, and the people like those next to the three not wearing their masks on the right in front of the Pussycat Tattoo Parlor in Milwaukie, Oregon I think we will see a national surge of Covid in the next 1-3 weeks.  It is next to my vet where I had to take my dog the other day — I don’t know if they named it this because it was next to the vet clinic. 

In a turnabout a RawStory, which often republishes Salon stories,
had one of their original articles republished on Salon

Colin Powell (another retired general) buries ‘birther and liar’ Trump in CNN interview — and vows to vote for Biden

This obviously didn't set well with Trump: 

Trump ridiculed for meltdown on Gen. Colin Powell after CNN appearance: ‘Cadet Bone Spurs says what?

This is what people in India are reading. The Indian Express is an English language paper founded in 1932. It went online in 1996 and currently has 700,000 hits daily. The story has gone viral and was covered on MSNBC.

Video Shows Law Enforcement Officers Slashing Tires at Minneapolis Protests (at least they weren't slashing protesters)

This Daily Kos story, not mine damnit, made it onto AlerNet. It is about my state.

Try as I might to become a minor online personage I remain an obscure blogger and Daily Kos community contributor. I did have one of my columns republished on AlterNet though. Renowned Economist Turns Psychologist on Donald Trump: ‘He’s a Delusional, Psychopathic Threat’ was published there on June 3, 2018. It was hardly an original piece of writing.

June 6 and before