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Insanity

? Nick Anderson

木瓜电影Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa was a complete disaster, but that didn’t stop him from having another rally yesterday in Phoenix AZ. This wasn’t actually a rally, as it was not organized by the Trump campaign, which probably gave it a better chance of success. Plus it was held in a church with a much smaller capacity, so it was able to be filled with 3,000 people. That’s less than half the number of people who showed up in Tulsa, but the optics were better. So Trump was all over twitter, bragging “A GREAT DAY IN ARIZONA!”

木瓜电影However, I suspect that this second rally could be just as damaging to Trump’s campaign as the first one. The hall was packed, with no social distancing (which was at least possible in Oklahoma where 2/3 of the seats were empty). And there were virtually no masks in sight, despite a local ordinance requiring them and a direct plea from the mayor. Arizona is in the middle of a COVID-19 spike, and the attendees of this event were all local students, so it should be easier to watch how many of them will end up stricken by the coronavirus.

Most of all, unlike Oklahoma, Arizona has become a swing state, and it has a large population of senior citizens. As more of them get sick due to Trump’s incompetence and lack of leadership, the bluer Arizona will become.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. Trump appears to be incapable of learning this lesson (or any other lesson, for that matter).

Sizing up the situation

Donald Trump and his campaign bragged over and over (and over) again about how huge his rally in Tulsa was going to be. After all, they had received a million requests for tickets! But only around 6200 people showed up, filling less than one-third of the venue.

Porn star Stormy Daniels (who Trump paid off to keep quiet about their dalliance) had something to say about that:

And nice to hear from Al Franken:

And of course, the Lincoln Project released another ad:

Last but not least, here’s Sarah Cooper on “How to Empty Seat”:

The Underlying Problem

The police are a reflection of a society. They’re not a rogue alien organization that came down to torment the black community. They’re enforcing segregation. Segregation is legally over, but it never ended. The police are, in some respects, a border patrol, and they patrol the border between the two Americas. We have that so that the rest of us don’t have to deal with it. Then that situation erupts, and we express our shock and indignation. But if we don’t address the anguish of a people, the pain of being a people who built this country through forced labor — people say, ‘I’m tired of everything being about race.’ Well, imagine how [expletive] exhausting it is to live that.

– Jon Stewart, from an extensive interview in the NY Times. Also quoted in Rolling Stone (if you can’t get through the Times paywall). But read the Times article if you can.

This isn’t just true for black people. America largely equates “rich” with “good”. And conversely, poor people are frequently blamed for their misfortune, because in America, anyone can succeed if they try hard enough (so, logically, if you are poor, it must be your fault). Winning is everything, so greed rules.

Some of you may know that Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show was one of the main things that inspired me to start this blog. I couldn’t find a political blog that combined humor in the ways that Stewart did on a TV show, and I wondered if it could be done. Of course, the blog that really put me to shame at doing that was Margaret and Helen.

? Matt Bors

You’re Fired?

You know, whoever hired Bolton should get fired. … I think he knew what he was getting.

– John Bolton responds when asked about Donald Trump calling him a “sick customer,” a “dope” and “washed up guy”

It isn’t often I agree with John Bolton, but this is one of those times.

Why We Hate

Friday, I just finished watching the Steven Spielberg series from the Discovery Channel “Why We Hate“, which looks both at hate, how it can fester and grow into genocide and destruction, but also at how we can work against hate to keep it from spreading. The series examines infamous examples of genocide or mass ethnic violence (Rwanda, South Africa, Cambodia, Nazi Germany, Colombia, lynchings, and others).

Saturday, just out of curiosity I watched Trump’s rally in Tulsa and it felt like I was listening to the same words from the instigators of past genocide and violence. The common themes are:

  • Dehumanizing the victims by calling them thugs, killers, rapists, animals or vermin (in Rwanda, it was calling the ethnic Tutsi “cockroaches”),
  • Stoking fear by claiming that the victims are out to destroy you, your family, and your way of life (taking away your guns, your jobs, and killing babies),
  • Most importantly, an authority figure or leader telling the people that they have to use violence against the victims (telling them to not be gentle or to “rough them up”).

But the important message is that we cannot stop hate with more hate. Hate must be fought with understanding. There was so much good information and ideas in this show, coming from amazing experts who have spent their lives fighting and successfully overcoming hate. I hope we learn how to stop what is going on before it is too late for us.

UPDATE: this post made it into Electoral-Vote!

Fire HR!

An article in WaPo by Philip Bump tries to answer the extremely important question, “Who keeps hiring these administration staffers Trump thinks are so terrible?”

Maybe all the problems we are having with our economy, health, foreign relations, race relations, education, hatred, and on and on, are just due to one or two bad apples in the Human Resources department at the White House who are hiring bad staff. We just need to find those incompetent HR people and fire them!

After all, Trump repeatedly promised during his campaign that he would only hire “the best people“. But just look at how many bad hires there have been!

  • The most recent is John Bolton. According to tweets from Trump, Bolton is a “wacko”, “a disgruntled boring fool who only wanted to go to war” and “Never had a clue, was ostracized & happily dumped. What a dope!” Many people (including me) probably agree that Bolton is a wacko, but still. Trump says he should have fired Bolton “early on”, but somehow Bolton managed to stay on for a year and a half, despite Trump’s concerns about him.
  • Jim Mattis, Trump’s defense secretary for two years. Trump now says Mattis is “our Country’s most overrated General. He talked a lot, but never ‘brought home the bacon’. He was terrible!”
  • Jeff Sessions, Trump’s first Attorney General. Trump said that hiring Sessions “was a mistake, a big mistake” and that Sessions was “played like a drum” and “didn’t have a clue”. Last month Trump said that he “didn’t want to make him attorney general”, but somehow he got the job anyway. Who in HR screwed up?
  • Daniel Coats, Trump’s director of national intelligence for two years, but now says, “He sat there, he didn’t do anything.”
  • Stephen K. Bannon, senior aide, who Trump says was “sloppy” and “leaked more than the Titanic.”
  • Anthony Scaramucci, one of Trump’s communications directors. Trump was especially nasty about the Mooch, saying that he was “totally incapable of handling” the job, is “a highly unstable nut job” and displayed “gross incompetence” and “made a fool of himself”. This might have been a simple mistake, as Scaramucci only lasted 11 days in the job. Well, except for the fact that before that he had worked for Trump’s election campaign. Surely someone must have noticed that he would not be a good employee.
  • Omarosa Manigault Newman, of whom Trump said afterward “People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart” and she “never made it, never will”.
  • Rex Tillerson, who was Trump’s first secretary of state (a very important job!). After which, Trump said Tillerson is “dumb as a rock”, “lazy as hell” and simply “didn’t have the mental capacity needed” and was “totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State”. Trump said he “couldn’t get rid of him fast enough” but tellingly claimed he was hindered from ousting Tillerson for reasons out of his control. Aha! It was someone else’s fault! Could it have been someone in HR?

UPDATE: At today’s press briefing, a reporter asked press secretary Kayleigh McEnany the following question:

Why does the president keep hiring people that are “dumb as a rock, overrated, way over their heads, whacko, and incompetent”?

Her answer shows that she just might qualify as one of those people who actually is “dumb as a rock” and “way over their heads”:

He likes the model of having a team of rivals, like what we saw in President Lincoln’s administration.

Not only that, but when CBS News asked Donald Trump himself why he keeps hiring “wackos” and “liars” … Trump just stared in silence, like he was dumb (definition of dumb: temporarily unable or unwilling to speak).

Subversive Science!

The anti-science forces finally have direct evidence that science is subversive! No wonder they have been warning us that global climate change is a hoax, vaccines cause autism, 5G is a form of mind control, andour glorious president knows more about how to cure COVID-19 than those egg-head scientists at the CDC and WHO.

The evidence was published in, of all places, Popular Mechanics. It pretends to be keeping people from “getting hurt”. But the title says it all: “How to Topple a Statue Using Science“. It starts out innocently enough:

Should you happen to find yourself near a statue that you decide you no longer like, we asked scientists for the best, safest ways to bring it to the ground without anyone getting hurt—except, of course, for the inanimate racist who’s been dead for a century anyway.

After that, the article dives into such subversive scientific terms as “yield strength”, “megapascals”, and graphs of the strengths of metals versus temperature.

It then quickly moves on to more dangerous topics, like the use of thermite and liquid nitrogen. Clearly we should stop teaching science immediately in schools, before riots and general mayhem break out. ?

Disinformation

? Jen Sorensen

You may be wondering about some of the panels in this comic, but they are actual events. This would be laughably funny if it weren’t so pathetic and stupid.

For example, take the bus in the third panel. You should read the short article about it, but if you are too lazy, here’s the tl;dr version:

  • The bus is stopped by a SWAT team. It’s a small group of street performers who travel to places and juggle things. Nothing is amiss, nobody is arrested, nothing to see there.
  • Then it gets weird. The next day the police go on Facebook and announce this:
  • Yes, there is a hatchet, sitting next to a pile of wood and a wood stove that they use for heat. There is one (singular) meat cleaver, in the kitchen and used for cooking. My favorite thing are the “rocks”, which are crystals and some fossils. Better watch out, those magic crystals can be dangerous!
  • Nevertheless, this gets picked up by the far-right disinformation machine, and is spread far and wide as proof of an Antifa invasion. Marco Rubio even tweets this:

The last panel is about the “Autonomous Zone” in Seattle. Fox News actually issued an apology for digitally creating false and misleading photos. For example, they inserted an image of an armed man into a photo of broken windows. Then even inserted the same image of the armed man into an unrelated photo of the autonomous zone. That would be enough to scare anyone, which I guess is the whole point.

Fox News also used a frightening photo of a burning city with stories about the Seattle Autonomous Zone, even though the photo was actually from Minnesota (where a precinct station was burned).

Again, the right-wing media went bat-shit crazy. Even Donald Trump falsely claimed that Seattle was out of control. Fox eventually removed the photos, and apologized for the misinformation. But the damage had already been done.

Here’s an actual photo from the “Autonomous Zone”. It’s like a street fair, with food trucks, free water, art, … and no fires:

? Getty Images

We’re Number Ten!

The US consistently used to be the most competitive economy in the world. Then Donald Trump got elected, assuming office in 2017. In 2018, we lost the top spot to Singapore. In 2019 we continued our slide to #3. This year, we are now in the #10 spot, behind Singapore, Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Sweden, Norway, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates.

The primary reason for the drop is our ongoing trade war with China, which has not only caused the US to fall, but also China (because we are their largest trading partner), who are now in the #20 spot. According to the report, “Trade wars have damaged both China and the USA’s economies, reversing their positive growth trajectories.”

Our economy is now less competitive than countries in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. At least we are still ahead of most of the third world.

What’s ironic is that as the US economy has started to disintegrate due to the coronavirus, polls show Trump still getting high marks for his handling of the economy. Five months ago, 75% of voters rated the economy as excellent or good, but now 75% say that it is not so good or poor. That’s a drop of 50% (no surprise, given that 40 million Americans have lost their jobs and businesses are dropping like flies). But at the same time, Trump’s approval rating for his handling of the economy has slipped only 4%, to 51% approval (which is much higher than his general approval rating).

Law and Order?

Donald Trump has declared himself to be the “law and order” president.

This is such a joke. Trump has looted the environment, is guilty of obstruction of Congress, and has disbanded the police, who in this case are Inspectors General who are supposed to enforce the law in the executive branch of our federal government. He has also violated several clauses of the constitution, the ultimate law of the land, including the first amendment.

It seems possible Trump has violated more laws than all the protesters put together.

I say, lock him up.

? KAL – The Economist

UPDATE: Trump and the Republicans aren’t just looting the environment, they are looting the country. The GOP snuck in a tax change to the Cares coronavirus relief package they passed in late March that lets the wealthy avoid $82 billion in taxes. And why am I not surprised that the biggest recipients of this windfall is rich real estate investors (like Trump).

His Own Words

No, not Trump’s words. The group Republican Voters Against Trump has released a new ad using only the words of South Carolina Republican senator Lindsey Graham to attack Donald Trump and praise Joe Biden. The ad is being run in both South and North Carolina, and also on Fox News in DC (likely to poke Trump in the eye).

Most of these quotes are from less than five years ago, but after Trump was elected, Lindsey Graham started tightly hugging Trump, a flip-flop turnabout that is reportedly already hurting Graham’s popularity in his home state.

The ad not only attacks Trump, it attacks Graham by showing his abject hypocrisy and lack of any backbone. So it works not only against a bad president, but also against a pitiful Republican senator. And winning the Senate is crucial for reversing the damage already done to our country. Besides getting control of Congress, it is the Senate that confirms judges, including the Supreme Court justices. And Graham is up for reelection this year.

Even more brilliantly, the ad features Graham effusively praising Biden. This is especially important because a new study shows that ads that are just about Trump are no longer effective:

People have already heard a lot about Trump, and neither pro-Trump nor anti-Trump ads are very effective at shifting people’s perceptions of him.

By contrast, despite his 48 years in national politics, Joe Biden is not as well known. Both pro-Biden and anti-Biden messages can move the needle: People who don’t like Trump can still be convinced to dislike Biden, and people who do like Trump can be convinced that Biden is okay.

There are very few voters who are undecided about Trump. If someone is a Fox-news-watching Trump lover, an ad attacking Trump is unlikely to convince them to vote for Biden. At best, it might make people who hate Trump happy, but they already plan to vote for Biden.

But an ad that says good things about Biden can convince former Trump voters to switch. And if these good things about Biden are coming from a (now) Trump-loving Senator, that makes them even more powerful and believable.

And it looks like there can be more ads like this. For example, I just found an article that quotes Mitch McConnell publicly saying to Biden on the Senate floor, “You’ve been a real friend, you’ve been a trusted partner, and it’s been an honor to serve with you. We’re all going to miss you.” (The ad should end with “Joe Biden, someone you can trust.”)

His Voters

The tell-all book by former National Security Advisor John Bolton was supposed to have been released in March, but the White House has been working hard to delay it, claiming that it contains some (unspecified) classified information. So on Friday, the book’s publisher released some content from it.

As expected, the book is very negative about Donald Trump. The released content is about how everything that the president does is predicated primarily on how it helps him win reelection. We already know that Trump tried to force the Ukraine to release lies damaging to Joe Biden before it would give them desperately needed aid that had been allocated by Congress. But the book will detail many other examples of this kind of mafia-like extortion by Trump.

According to the publisher, “Trump’s Ukraine-like transgressions existed across the full range of his foreign policy — and Bolton documents exactly what those were, and attempts by him and others in the Administration to raise alarms about them.” This applies to everything, not just Trump’s foreign policy, including his response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to the racial protests that are currently rocking the US.

For the pandemic, we already know that Trump is strongly pressuring states to reopen, even as cases start to spike again around the country. On Friday, a Whirlpool plant in Tulsa OK that employs 1,600 workers announced that it was shutting down temporarily because of an outbreak of COVID-19. But Trump is still going ahead with his planned rally there in seven days, and has already announced that the attendees are not required to social distance or wear masks.

What attendees will be required to do is sign a waiver that they will not sue Trump or the venue if they catch the disease. Like in Shrek,

So far in June, twelve states have seen hospitalizations increase. This in turn caused the Dow Jones to drop 1,862 points (6.9%) on Thursday, the worst drop since March. So Trump is not just causing people to die, he is visiting economic chaos on the country purely in service to his reelection.

But wait, there’s more! Also on Friday, it leaked from the Trump White House that when Trump’s advisors tried to give advice on how to respond to the protests against racism that have erupted in all 50 states (and around the world), Trump responded on multiple occasionsthose aren’t my voters“.

There is an enormous amount of proof that Trump will “sacrifice” everything — our lives, our economy, even the rest of the world — to get reelected. Ironically, the only thing we can do about it is to defeat him and his Republican enablers at the ballot box in November.

This is a joke, right?

Actually, no. These are actually things that Donald Trump, the master of racist dog whistles and champion of white supremacists, said at an event about race and policing, which took place in a largely white megachurch in an upper class part of Dallas.

President Trump says America will be done with “bigotry and prejudice” before we know it.

Trump?traveled?to Dallas on Thursday for a roundtable on race and policing, though for some reason didn’t invite the top three law enforcement officials in the area, all of whom are black. There, Trump defended police departments and offered up an executive order that he suggested will help repair America’s centuries of racism “very quickly and very easily.”

Trump started his talk by defending discriminatory and otherwise unethical police, saying “you always have a bad apple no matter where you go,” but adding “there are not too many in the police department.” Americans, as well, “are good and virtuous people,” Trump added. “We have to work together to confront bigotry and prejudice wherever they appear,” he said, and then?posited?that “we’re going to do it very quickly and very easily.”

And then, of course, he started talking about using force to “dominate” the protesters.

Also, in an interview on Fox News, Trump said “I think the concept of chokeholds sounds so innocent and so perfect.”

??Ward Sutton

PR

Donald Trump treats pretty much everything as a PR problem. Why bother to actually, you know, govern? If there is bad news, he brands it as “fake news”, uses whataboutism, and attacks the source. If there is no good news, he just makes crap up and repeats it so much that at least some people believe it (typically his base).

For example, when video came out clearly showing 75-year-old pacifist protester Martin Gugino being violently pushed down by police, hard enough that he ended up in the ICU (police had claimed that Gugino “tripped and fell”), it was hard to call “fake news” — Gugino is white, was acting peaceably, has no police record. But that didn’t stop Trump, who tweeted “Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur.” And said what happened “Could be a set up?”

There is no evidence linking Gugino to Antifa. In fact, the tweet was based on an article from far-right-wing site OANN that was written by a reporter who also works for the propaganda outlet Sputnik News, which is owned by the Russian government. In other words, there is more evidence that Trump is a tool of Russian intelligence than Gugino is part of Antifa.

But is gets worse. 木瓜电影 in public relations is “Don’t Believe Your Own PR!“(or variously, don’t believe your own publicity / hype / press / bullshit / etc.). It is also enshrined in the (biblical-based) popular saying “Pride comes before the fall.” Recently there is plenty of evidence that Trump has fallen into this fatal trap.

The first sign was Trump’s purge or silencing of federal employees who are “not sufficiently loyal to President Trump.” (Don’t take my word for it, the White House actually announced this.) It doesn’t matter how vital or popular they are (like Anthony Fauci, who was silenced for making the fatal mistake of contradicting some of Trump’s lies). Trump is now completely surrounded by yes-men and sycophants, but does Trump actually believe them?

What got me thinking about this is Trump’s response to a recent negative poll. The CNN poll showed Joe Biden ahead of Trump by 14 points. Trump demanded that CNN retract the poll and apologize, and tweeted:

First of all, McLaughlin is such a terrible pollster that even most Republican politicians won’t use him anymore. For example, McLaughlin told his client (House majority leader) Eric Cantor he was winning by 34 points, just before Cantor lost by 11 points. That’s a whopping 45 point error. McLaughlin is infamous for telling his clients what they want to hear, rather than the truth.

Which is exactly what Trump wants. Because every recent legitimate poll shows Trump losing by five or more points.

In April, Trump actually threatened to sue his own campaign manager Brad Parscale because he gave Trump negative poll results. Trump yelled at Parscale “I’m not fucking losing to Joe Biden” and it looks like he believes it. I guess the “incredible enthusiasm we are receiving” proves it to him.

To get more of that “incredible enthusiasm”, Trump has scheduled his first mass rally in Tulsa, OK next week. Trump should be campaigning in swing states, not in Oklahoma, where he won by 36 points in 2016. From a political viewpoint, that rally is a complete waste of time and money, but it will make Trump feel better.

Not only does Trump believe his own PR, the sycophants surrounding him are explicitly pushing him to believe it. Starting in late May, the Trump campaign spent more than $400,000 to run pro-Trump ads in the Washington DC area on cable channels that Trump is known to watch (mainly Fox News). Because Trump has no chance of winning in DC or the surrounding states of Maryland or Virginia, these ads are also a complete waste of money. The ads are actually aimed at an audience of one.

Trump is now sealed off in his bubble (or bunker), entirely detached from reality. I just hope the country can survive until he’s gone.

? Lalo Alcaraz

Everything

? Matt Wuerker

If you think things are bad now, remember that as Donald Trump gets more and more desperate to win the upcoming election, things will likely get more and more unpleasant.

In fact, they are already getting worse. In the first week of June already, 14 states and Puerto Rico have recorded their highest-ever seven-day average of new coronavirus cases since the pandemic began, Right now is the time those states — Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah — should be instituting strict measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus. We seem to have completely forgotten how quickly the virus took off in March, so instead most of these states are opening things up even more, with Trump playing the cheerleader to eliminate crucial restrictions.

Trump is already planning on restarting his in-person rallies in the next two weeks. His campaign manager released a statement saying:

Americans are ready to get back to action and so is President Trump. The great American comeback is real and the rallies will be tremendous. You’ll again see the kind of crowds and enthusiasm that sleepy Joe Biden can only dream of.

Meanwhile, the massive protests over the killing of George Floyd, which have happened in all 50 states, are perfect breeding grounds for the virus. Tear gas and pepper balls that irritate the nose and lungs will add complications to those who contract the disease. These cases will start to show up in the next two weeks after their incubation period, during which time infected people will be asymptomatic and spreading the virus even further.

And economists are predicting that the economy will not bounce back immediately, even if all restrictions are removed and everyone who can will go back to work. Many businesses have simply gone bankrupt and shut down, and business investment and consumer spending will take years to ramp up.