Anger AND Schadenfreude

I don’t want Fat Donnie to die right away.

I’d prefer that he suffer for a while.

I hope he lives long enough (though in pain and mabe on a ventilator) to see him and his gritting Republican enablers get swept out of office in a landslide.

I hope he lives long enough to get put out of the office, and indicted on numerous counts of fraud, criminal money laundering, rape, bribery, extortion, and more.

I hope he goes bankrupt so bad that the Russian mafia and Deutsch Bank both send people to rearrange his anatomy in unpleasant ways.

But most of all I want blacks, whites, asians, Latinos, etc who belong to the middle class and working class and poverty stricken class to realize that we are not each other’s enemies: we are being divided and set upon each other by the agents of the tiny class of billionaires who don’t want ANY of us to have decent schools for our kids. Or decent, guaranteed medical care. Or healthful food in stores. Or decent pay or any job security. While they make out like — I was gonna say “bandits” but the Koch brothers, the Walton family, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Vladimir Putin, Saudi monarchs, and all the rest — they are wealthier than any ruling class ever dreamed of being in the past.

Yet they want more.

LEt us keep note of all the sycophantic grifters and perverts in his entourage, and not forget their sins nor forgive them too easily. Let us remember all the racist and fascistic thugs that hang onto Fat Donnie’s latest lies, no matter what. Those people cannot be trusted under any circumstances. Remember them!

Published in: on October 2, 2020 at 11:34 pm  Comments (1)  

How to stop a Coup

I am more and more certain that Trump and his racist gangs of violent thugs will attempt a coup when the polling results come in after November 3.

A racist coup d’etat (or armed overthrow of the government) has, in fact, happened before here in the US: Wilmington NC, in 1898. Look it up. There was also an unsuccessful attempt by bankers to overthrow FDR in 1934.

Here are some ideas from one group on how to stop a coup.

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10 Things You Need to Know to Stop a Coup

1. Don’t expect results Election night.

Election season 2020 is shaping up to be very unusual. Many mail-in ballots may not be counted until days or weeks after Election Day. Since Democrats are expected to use them more frequently than Republicans, voter tallies are expected to swing towards Democrats post-election night (they call it a “blue shift”). A wave of confusion may unfold starting Election night.

During this time expect false flags and outlandish claims. Be very cautious with news. Don’t simply pass on whatever seems dramatic examples of wrongdoing — but take the time to check if it has been verified, already debunked, or from a source you don’t trust.

Encourage people in your community to prepare for some uncertain weeks. As election results start coming in the message needs to come through loud and clear: count all the votes.

2. Do call it a coup.

People who do power grabs always claim they’re doing it to save democracy or claim they know the “real” election results. This doesn’t have to look like a military coup with one leader ordering the opposition to be arrested.

We can know it’s a coup if the government:

  • Stops counting votes;
  • Declares someone a winner who didn’t get the most votes; or
  • Allows someone to stay in power who didn’t win the election.

Here’s just one possible scenario: the night of the election (November 3) no victor is determined. Ballots keep getting counted. Meanwhile, there are claims (likely with minimal evidence) the incoming mail-in ballots now being counted are fraudulent. On December 14 the delegates for the electoral college meet in the state capital. But if the results are being contested, Governors and State Legislatures may each send in different results — one reflecting the results from voters, the other claiming “it’s a fraud” and “we know best” — undermining the integrity of the voting process.

This set of differences has to get resolved on January 6 by the new Congress. And if the House and Senate don’t agree about the result, then a convoluted process unfolds where the newly seated House selects (one-state-one-vote) the President and the Senate (by Majority) votes for the new Vice President. (#ShutDownDC provides a very helpful break-down of these steps.)

In any scenario, if any of those three principles are violated, we have to declare loudly and strongly: this is a coup.

3. Know that coups have been stopped by regular folks.

Coup attempts have happened all over the world, and over half have failed. That’s because coups are hard to orchestrate. Because they are a violation of norms, they require quick seizure of multiple levels of institutions with a claim that they are the rightful heir.

Coups tend to fail when government institutions (like elections) are trusted, there is an active citizenry, and other nations are ready to become involved.

The role of citizenry is crucial. That’s because during the period right after a coup attempt— when the new government is claiming it is the “real” government — all the institutions have to decide who to listen to.

A failed coup in Germany 1920 gives an example. The population felt beaten down by defeat in World War I and high unemployment. Right-wing nationalists organized a coup and got the help of a few generals to seize government buildings.

The deposed government fled but ordered all citizens to obey them. “No enterprise must work as long as the military dictatorship reigns,” they declared.

Widespread nonviolent resistance quickly began. Printers refused to print the new government’s newspapers. Civil servants refused to carry out any orders from the coup. And leaflets calling for an end to the coup were spread by airplane and by hand.

There’s a story of the coup leader wandering up and down the corridors looking in vain for a secretary to type up his proclamations. The acts of resistance grew and eventually the democratic government (which still had grave problems) was returned to power.

The moments after a coup are moments for heroism amongst the general population. It’s how we make democracy real.

4. Be ready to act quickly — and not alone.

Typically power grabs are organized in secret and launched suddenly. Most campaigns that defeat coups do so in days: Soviet Union in 1991 took 3 days, France in 1961 took 4 days, and Bolivians in 1978 took 16 days.

It’s rare for any country leader to publicly admit they might not respect the results of an election. There’s some good news in that — because people who stop coups rarely have the chance to get training, warning, or preparation. In that way, we’re ahead of the game.

A group of DC insiders called the Transition Integrity Project ran multiple simulations on Trump attempting to hold onto power no matter what. In every simulation they concluded that a “show of numbers in the streets may be decisive.” Regular people make the difference.

To start preparing, talk to at least 5 people who would go into the streets with you — the safest way to take to the streets is with people you know and trust. Talk to people you know in civil service and various roles about how they could non-comply with coup attempts. Use this time to get yourself ready to act.

5. Focus on widely shared democratic values, not on individuals.

In Argentina 1987, a coup got started when an Air Force Major, resenting attempts to democratize the military and bring it under civilian control, organized hundreds of soldiers at his base.

While the civilian government tried to quietly negotiate a settlement, people took to the streets. Against the government’s pleading, 500 regular citizens marched to the base with the slogan “Long live democracy! Argentina! Argentina!” They could have spent time attacking the Major. Instead, they were appealing to their fellow citizens to choose democracy.

The Major tried to keep them away with a tank, but the protesters entered the base anyway, and he knew that open firing on nonviolent civilians would cause him to lose more credibility. Soon 400,000 people took to the streets in Buenos Aires to rally in opposition to the coup.

This gave strength to the civilian government (which had largely been absent). Civic organizations, the Catholic church, business groups, and labor unions united under a pledge to “support in all ways possible the constitution, the normal development of the institutions of government and democracy as the only viable way of life of the Argentines.” The coup plotters lost their legitimacy and soon surrendered.

This approach is different than protesters going in the street with a list of issues or a grievance against a vilified leader. Instead, it’s exalting widely-shared core democratic values. In our project we use the language of “choosing democracy.”

6. Convince people not to freeze or just go along.

Imagine that at your job a corrupt boss gets fired and a new one is brought in. Instead of leaving, your old boss says, “I’m still in charge. Do what I say.” A bunch of your co-workers say, “We only take orders from the old boss.” At that point, doubt arises.

That doubt is how coups succeed. Enough people freeze. Even when only a few people go along with the coup and act as though that’s normal, people may reluctantly accept it as inevitable.

In all the research on preventing coups, there’s one common theme: people stop doing what the coup plotters tell them to do.

In Germany, from military commanders to secretaries, they refused to obey the orders of the coup. In Mali they called a nationwide strike. In Sudan protestors shut down government-supported radio stations and occupied airport runways. In Venezuela all shops were closed.

Coups are not a time to just watch and wait until “someone else” figures it out. No matter who you are you can be part of choosing democracy.

7. Commit to actions that represent rule of law, stability, and nonviolence.

Stopping a coup is dependent on the size of mobilizations and winning over the center. It is really a fight for legitimacy. Which voice is legitimate? Some people will have already made up their minds. The aim then is convincing those who are uncertain — which may be a more surprising number than you expect.

But to swing to our side, that uncertain center has to be convinced that “we” represent stability and “the coup plotters” represent hostility to the democratic norms of elections and voting.

We prevent that possibility when we dehumanize potential defectors, make sweeping statements like, “the police won’t help”, never encourage people to join our side, and create chaotic scenes on the street.

Historically, whichever side resorts to violence the most tends to lose. In a moment of uncertainty, people pick the side that promises maximum stability, respects democratic norms, and appears to be the safer bet. It’s a contest of who can be the most legitimate.

Mass resistance to coups wins by using walk-outs and strikes, refusing orders, and shutting down civil society until the rightful democratically elected leader is installed. For mass movements to succeed against coups, they should refuse to do violence to the other side.

8. Yes, a coup can happen in the United States.

It may be hard to imagine that a coup could happen in this country. But whenever there is an order to stop counting votes, we call it a coup.

Even by the strictest definition of coups, there has been a militarized coup in the United States. In 1898 after reconstruction in Wilmington, NC, seeing the rise of a prosperous and successful Black population, white racists organized a coup. They gave rallying cries like, “We will never surrender to a ragged raffle of Negroes, even if we have to choke the Cape Fear River with carcasses.”

Despite a terror campaign before the election, Black turnout was high and a slate of Black candidates was voted in. Black power was met with white supremacist violence, with white squads killing 30 to 300 people, including newly elected officials. Over 3,000 Blacks fled this extreme violence, and the era of Jim Crow began.

9. Center in calm, not fear.

It’s scary to believe we’re having to talk about a federal coup in the United States.

And we know that fearful people are less likely to make good decisions. Let’s aim for calm and avoid hyperbole. Be a reliable source by double-checking rumors and spreading high-quality facts. Sure, read social media… but spend some time, you know, doing real things that ground you.

Breathe deeply.

Remember how you handle fear.

Play out scenarios, but don’t become captured by them.

We’re doing this to prepare, just in case.

10. Prepare to deter a coup before the election.

The best way to stop a coup is to never have one. People are doing lots of good work on issues of voting rights, urging turn-out, stopping repression, uncovering fraud, and getting people to commit to democracy. That may be enough.

One of the easiest things you can do is to sign the pledge to Choose Democracy and get a lot of people across the political spectrum signing the as well!

Because the best way to stop a coup is to deter it.

Published in: on October 1, 2020 at 10:55 am  Comments (1)  

The Cheater-in-Chief

www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/09/27/us/donald-trump-taxes.html

A long story, full of graft and lies by MangoMussolini.

Published in: on September 30, 2020 at 8:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

100 good reasons to push for a Biden Landslide

And then keep the pressure on afterwards!

Copied from a friend:

I’ve heard from people that they want a reason to vote FOR Biden beyond that he’s not Trump. Okay, I respect that, so I went on his website, poured through his policies, and came up with 100 reasons to vote for #JoeBiden that don’t mention Trump.

1.) $15.00 federal minimum wage
2.) Reinstate DACA – allowing new applicants to apply
3.) 12 Weeks federal paid family leave
4.) Universal Pre-Kindergarten/Childcare for ages 3 and 4
5.) Tuition free college for those with household income less than $125,000.00
6.) Allow student loans to be relieved in bankruptcy
7.) LGBTQ+ Equality Act in the first 100 days in office
8.) Rejoin the Paris Climate Accords
9.) Decriminalize cannabis use and expunge convictions
10.) Eliminate cash bail system
11.) Eliminate mandatory minimum sentences
12.) Outlaw all online firearm and munition sales
13.) Restore the voting rights act
14.) Create a new $20 billion competitive grant program to spur states to shift from incarceration to prevention.
15.) He’ll triple funding for Title I Programs
16.) Appoint the first Black Woman to the Supreme Court of the United States
17.) Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
18.) Ensure the US achieves a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions no later than 2050
19.) Protecting Biodiversity, slowing extinction rates and helping leverage natural climate solutions
20.) Develop a plan to ensure that America has the cleanest, safest and fastest rail system in the world, for both passengers and freight
21.) Expand the safety net for survivors
22.) Confront online harassment, abuse and stalking
23.) End the rape kit backlog
24.) Address the deadly combination of guns and domestic violence
25.) Change the culture that enables domestic violence
26.) Support the diverse needs of survivors of violence against women
27.) Protect and empower immigrant women
28.) Lead the global effort to end gender-based violence
29.) End capital punishment
30.) End federal private prisons
31.) End all incarceration for drug use alone and divert individuals to drug courts and treatment
32.) Invest in public defenders’ offices to ensure defendants’ access to quality counsel
33.) Expand and use the power of the US Justice Department to address systemic misconduct in police departments and prosecutors’ offices
34.) Reform qualified immunity for officers
35.) Ban choke-holds/neck restraints by police
36.) Launch a national police oversight commission
37.) Stop transferring weapons of war to police force
38.) Free access to testing for all with national testing board
39.) Double drive through testing sites
40.) 100,000 contact tracing workforce
41.) Guarantee first responders have priority access to PPE
42.) Emergency paid leave for anyone who gets COVID or needs to take care of a loved one
43.) Free housing for health care workers to quarantine
44.) Ramp up large scale manufacturing of as many vaccine candidates as necessary
45.) Nationwide vaccination campaign to guarantee fair distribution
46.) Ask every American to wear a mask
47.) End the mismanagement of the asylum system, which fuels violence and chaos at the border
48.) Surge humanitarian resources to the border and foster public-private initiatives
49.) End prolonged detention and reinvest in a case management program
50.) Rescind the un-American travel and refugee bans, also referred to as “Muslim bans.”
51.) Order an immediate review of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for vulnerable populations who cannot find safety in their countries ripped apart by violence or disaster
52.) Ensure that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel abide by professional standards and are held accountable for inhumane treatment.
53.) Revitalize the Task Force on New Americans and boost our economy by prioritizing integration, promoting immigrant entrepreneurship, increasing access to language instruction, and promoting civil engagement.
54.) Convene a regional meeting of leaders, including from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Canada, to address the factors driving migration and to propose a regional resettlement solution
55.) Raising the corporate tax rate to 28 percent.
56.) Requiring a true minimum tax on ALL foreign earnings of United States companies located overseas so that we do our part to put an end to the global race to the bottom that rewards global tax havens. This will be 21% — TWICE the rate of the Trump offshoring tax rate and will apply to all income.
57.) Imposing a tax penalty on corporations that ship jobs overseas in order to sell products back to America.
58.) Imposing a 15% minimum tax on book income so that no corporation gets away with paying no taxes.
59.) Raising the top individual income rate back to 39.6 percent.
60.) Asking those making more than $1 million to pay the same rate on investment income that they do on their wages.
61.) Tackle the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
62.) Ensure tribal nations will have a strong voice and role in the federal government
63.) Restore Tribal lands and safeguard natural and cultural resources
64.) Joe will dramatically increase funding for both public schools and Bureau of Indian Education schools.
65.) Invest $70 billion in Tribal Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions.
66.) Ensure full inclusion of people with disabilities in policy development and aggressively enforce the civil rights of people with disabilities.
67.) Guarantee access to high-quality, affordable health care, including mental health care, and expand access to home and community-based services and long-term services and supports in the most integrated setting appropriate to each person’s needs and based on self-determination.
68.) Expand competitive, integrated employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
69.) Protect and strengthen economic security for people with disabilities.
70.) Ensure that students with disabilities have access to educational programs and support they need to succeed, from early interventions to post-secondary education.
71.) Expand access to accessible, integrated, and affordable housing, transportation, and assistive technologies and protect people with disabilities in emergencies.
72.) Advance global disability rights
73.) Double the number of psychologists, guidance counselors, nurses, social workers, and other health professionals in our schools so our kids get the mental health care they need
74.) Invest in our schools to eliminate the funding gap between white and non-white districts, and rich and poor districts
75.) Improve teacher diversity
76.) Support our educators by giving them the pay and dignity they deserve.
77.) Invest in resources for our schools so students grow into physically and emotionally healthy adults, and educators can focus on teaching.
78.) Ensure that no child’s future is determined by their zip code, parents’ income, race, or disability.
79.) Provide every middle and high school student a path to a successful career.
80.) Start investing in our children at birth.
81.) Double funding for the State Small Business Credit Initiative.
82.) Expand the New Markets Tax Credit, make the program permanent, and double Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) funding
83.) Improve and expand the Small Business Administration programs that most effectively support African American-owned businesses.
84.) Increase funding for the Minority Business Development Agency budget.
85.) Make sure economic relief because of COVID-19 reaches the African American businesses that need it most
86.) Reserve half of all the new PPP funds for small businesses with 50 employees or less
87.) Help families buy their first homes and build wealth by creating a new refundable, advanceable tax credit of up to $15,000
88.) Protect homeowners and renters from abusive lenders and landlords through a new Homeowner and Renter Bill of Rights.
89.) Establishing a $100 billion Affordable Housing Fund to construct and upgrade affordable housing
90.) Fully implement Congressman Clyburn’s 10-20-30 Plan to help all individuals living in persistently impoverished communities
91.) Expand access to $100 billion in low-interest business loans by funding state, local, tribal, and non-profit lending programs in Latino communities and other communities of color and strengthening Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs
92.) Expand broadband access to every American.
93.) Protect and build on the Affordable Care Act to improve access to quality health care in rural communities.
94.) Expand access to high-quality education in rural schools.
95.) Transform our crumbling transportation infrastructure – including roads and bridges, rail, aviation, ports, and inland waterways.
96.) Expand bio-based manufacturing to bring cutting-edge manufacturing jobs back to rural America.
97.) Strengthen antitrust enforcement
98.) Introduce a constitutional amendment to entirely eliminate private dollars from our federal elections
99.) End dark money groups
100.) Ban corporate PAC contributions to candidates, and prohibit lobbyist contributions to those who they lobby

Repost from: David Ferree

In order to change the minds of others we must break through their wall. I encourage you to share this.

VOTE BIDEN/HARRIS2020 🇺🇸💙

BidenHarris2020

Published in: on September 30, 2020 at 7:29 pm  Comments (1)  

A very apt photo

Published in: on September 30, 2020 at 7:16 pm  Comments (1)  

DA Never Gave Grand Jury the Option of Indicting Cops for Murder

Notoriously corrupt, convicted ex-judge Sol Wachsler once said that he could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, if that’s what the powers that be wanted the DA to do.

But as the case of Breonna Taylor shows, DA’s really, really don’t like indicting cops. As you can see by reading these details in Salon:

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Breonna Taylor case grand juror: We weren’t given the option of indicting the two cops who shot her

Grand juror said AG Daniel Cameron misrepresented the deliberations. Cameron agreed to release grand jury recording

IGOR DERYSH

SEPTEMBER 29, 2020 3:25PM (UTC)

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said he would comply with a judge’s order to release the grand jury recording in the Breonna Taylor case after a grand juror alleged that Cameron had misrepresented the deliberations.

The juror filed a motion calling for the release of the transcripts on Monday so that “the truth may prevail.”

“The Grand Jury is meant to be a secretive body. It’s apparent that the public interest in this case isn’t going to allow that to happen,” a spokesperson for Cameron said in a statement. Despite the concerns over the release, the attorney general’s office said it would comply with the order to release the recording on Wednesday in response to the juror’s complaint.

An attorney for the juror told The New York Times that Cameron “misrepresented” the deliberations and “failed to offer the panel the option of indicting the two officers who fatally shot the young woman.”

The attorney general’s office said it is “confident” in the case they presented but acknowledged that jurors were not given the option of indicting Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove in Taylor’s shooting.

“The evidence supported that Sergeant Mattingly and Detective Cosgrove were justified in their use of force after having been fired upon by Kenneth Walker,” Taylor’s boyfriend, the statement said. “For that reason, the only charge recommended was wanton endangerment.”

Former Det. Brett Hankison, the lone officer fired after the shooting, was indicted on three counts of wanton endangerment after some of the bullets he “blindly” fired into Taylor’s home struck a wall adjoining her neighbors’ apartment. None of the three officers who fired their weapons were charged in Taylor’s death, even though the city of Louisville agreed to pay Taylor’s family $12 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit.

Hankison pleaded not guilty on Monday.

Kevin Glogower, the juror’s lawyer, told the Times that the juror approached him after Cameron claimed during a news conference that state law prevented him from charging Mattingly and Cosgrove.

“While there are six possible homicide charges under Kentucky law, these charges are not applicable to the facts before us because our investigation showed — and the grand jury agreed — that Mattingly and Cosgrove were justified in the return of deadly fire after having been fired upon,” Cameron said during the news conference last week.

Glogower told the outlet that the juror was “unsettled” by the fact that they were only presented with possible charges for Hankison. He said in the petition that it was “patently unjust” that Cameron “attempted to make it very clear that the grand jury alone made the decision.”

“Using the grand jurors as a shield to deflect accountability and responsibility for these decisions only sows more seeds of doubt in the process while leaving a cold chill down the spines of future grand jurors,” the petition said.

According to Walker, the lawsuit filed by Taylor’s family, and more than a dozen neighbors, the officers serving a “no knock” search warrant, part of a narcotics investigation targeting Taylor’s ex-boyfriend Jamarcus Glover, did not announce themselves. Cameron claimed at the news conference that a lone witness corroborated the officers’ statement that they made an announcement, arguing that it was not a “no knock” warrant.

Walker opened fire on the officers, claiming he believed someone was breaking in. Mattingly and Cosgrove returned fire, hitting Taylor six times. An FBI analysis determined that Cosgrove fired the fatal shot. Hankison ran into a parking lot and shot into Taylor’s home through a sliding door and bedroom window, resulting in charges against him. Unlike the other officers, he was not shot at by Walker.

Cameron claimed at the news conference that ballistics showed that the bullet that struck Mattingly during the gunfire was Walker’s. But Vice News reported last week that the initial ballistics report did not prove the bullet was Walker’s and found that “due to limited markings of comparative value, [the bullet] was neither identified nor eliminated as having been fired from” Walker’s gun.

Vice News also published a video of body camera footage showing Hankison entering Taylor’s apartment as investigators were working the scene in an apparent violation of department protocol.

Ben Crump, an attorney for Taylor’s family, called the grand jury process a “sham proceeding that did nothing to give Breonna Taylor a voice.”

“I never had faith in Daniel Cameron to begin with,” Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, said after the decision. “I was reassured Wednesday of why I have no faith in the legal system, in the police, in the law. They are not made to protect us Black and brown people.”

IGOR DERYSH

Igor Derysh is a staff writer at Salon. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

Tips/Email: iderysh@salon.com Twitter: @IgorDerysh

How Democrats Should Address the ACBarrett nomination

I wanted to share an absolutely brilliant series of suggestions on how to deal with Trump’s nomination of Judge Barrett. The best parts are towards the end, so read all the way through!

This is by Bill Svelmoe.

I never heard of him before, but this is great. Drag it out until almost the election, and use the hearings to get Barrett on record as either approving or condemning Trumps’s many documented instances of repeated, actual, non-hypothetical but illegal conduct.

Here are Svelmoe’s words:

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A few thoughts on Amy Coney Barrett, our new Supreme Court justice.

  • As noted above, she’s a done deal. So Democrats should not waste time trying to besmirch her character, focusing on her religion, trying to box her into a corner on how she will vote on hypothetical cases.

The People of Praise is not a cult. I’ve had half a dozen of their kids in my classes, including some men who heard about me from their female friends. Almost without fail, these have been among the best students I’ve ever had. Extremely bright. Careful critical thinkers. Wonderful writers. I loved having them in class. So don’t go after the People of Praise.

By all accounts Barrett walks on water. I’ve had that in a roundabout way from people I know at Notre Dame, including from folks as liberal as me, who actually look forward to seeing her on the court. I have no first hand knowledge of her, but take the above for what you will.

So Democrats should not take a typical approach with her.

  • Stay focused on the election. If the election were tomorrow, Biden wins comfortably, and the Democrats likely take the Senate as well. The latest polls were taken after RBG’s death. No gain for Trump. In fact the majority of Americans think the Supreme Court seat should not be filled until after the election. Watching Republicans ram Barrett through helps Democrats. So don’t mess with her. Let Republicans do what they’re going to do. As a great man once said, It is what it is.

If the Democrats take the presidency and the Senate, none of this matters much. A Democratic administration will not let a conservative court mess with Democratic priorities. Lots of avenues, including adding justices, passing a law that no act of Congress can be overturned by the Court except by a seven vote majority, etc. So keep the focus where it matters. On November 3.

So how should Democrats approach these hearings? I’ve seen one good suggestion today. Turn all their time over to Kamala Harris. I like that one.

Here’s a few more suggestions.

  • Don’t show up for the hearings. There is no reason to dignify this raw exercise in political hypocrisy. Don’t legitimize the theft of a Supreme Court seat with your presence. This also shows Barrett that the nation knows she is letting herself become a pawn in Trump’s game. That in itself says something about character.
  • Schedule high interest alternate programming directly opposite the hearings. Bring together all 26 of the women who have accused Trump of sexual assault. Let them tell their stories on air. Or interview liberal justices that Biden will add to the court next year. Hearings with only Republicans extolling Barrett’s virtues will get low ratings. It shouldn’t be hard to come up with something people would rather watch. Hell, replay the Kavanaugh hearings! Bring in Matt Damon to reprise his role on SNL! I’d watch that! How about a show “Beers with Squee”?!
  • If Democrats do attend the hearings, they should not focus on Barrett’s views on any future cases. She’ll just dodge those questions anyway. They’re hypothetical. She should dodge them. Don’t even mention her religion.

Instead Democrats should focus on the past four years of the Trump administration. This has been the most corrupt administration in American history. No need for hypotheticals. The questions are all right there.

Judge Barrett, would you please explain the emoluments clause in the Constitution. [She does.] Judge Barrett, if a president were to refuse to divest himself of his properties and, in fact, continue to steer millions of dollars of tax payer money to his properties, would this violate the emoluments clause?

Then simply go down the list of specific cases in which Trump and his family of grifters have used the presidency to enrich themselves. Ask her repeatedly if this violates the emoluments clause. Include of course using the American ambassador to Britain to try to get the British Open golf tournament at a Trump property. Judge Barrett, does this violate the emoluments clause?

Then turn to the Hatch Act.

Judge Barrett, would you please explain the Hatch Act to the American people. [She does.] Judge Barrett, did Kellyanne Conway violate the Hatch Act on these 60 occasions? [List them. Then after Barrett’s response, and just fyi, the Office of the Special Council already convicted her, ask Barrett this.] When Kellyanne Conway, one of the president’s top advisors openly mocked the Hatch Act after violating it over 60 times, should she have been removed from office?

Then turn to all the other violations of the Hatch Act during the Republican Convention. Get Barrett’s opinion on those.

Then turn to Congressional Oversight.

Judge Barrett, would you please explain to the American people the duties of Congress, according to the Constitution, to oversee the executive branch. [She does so.] Judge Barrett, when the Trump administration refuses time and again [list them] to respond to a subpoena from Congress, is this an obstruction of the constitutional duty of Congress for oversight? Is this an obstruction of justice?

Then turn to Trump’s impeachment.

Read the transcript of Trump’s phone call. Judge Barrett, would you describe this as a “perfect phone call”? Is there anything about this call that troubles you, as a judge, or as an American?

Judge Barrett, would you please define for the American people the technical definition of collusion. [She does.] Then go through all of the contacts between the Trump administration and Russians during the election and get her opinion on whether these amount to collusion. Doesn’t matter how she answers. It gets Trump’s perfidy back in front of Americans right before the election.

Such questions could go on for days. Get her opinion on the evidence for election fraud. Go through all the Trump “laws” that have been thrown out by the courts. Ask her about the separation of children from their parents at the border. And on and on and on through the worst and most corrupt administration in our history. Don’t forget to ask her opinion on the evidence presented by the 26 Trump accusers. Judge Barrett, do you think this is enough evidence of sexual assault to bring the perpetrator before a court of law? Do you think a sitting president should be able to postpone such cases until after his term? Judge Barrett, let’s listen again, shall we, to Trump’s “Access Hollywood” tape. I don’t have a question. I just want to hear it again. Or maybe, as a woman, how do you feel listening to this recording? Let’s listen to it again, shall we. Take your time.

Taking this approach does a number of things.

  1. Even if Barrett bobs and weaves and dodges all of this, it reminds Americans right before the election of just how awful this administration has been.
  2. None of these questions are hypothetical. They are all real documented incidents. The vast majority are pretty obvious examples of breaking one law or the other. If Barrett refuses to answer honestly, she demonstrates that she is willing to simply be another Trump toady. Any claims to high moral Christian character are shown to be as empty as the claims made by the 80% of white evangelicals who continue to support Trump.
  3. If she answers honestly, as I rather suspect she would, then Americans get to watch Trump and his lawless administration convicted by Trump’s own chosen justice.

Any of these outcomes would go much further toward delegitimizing the entire Republican project than if Democrats go down the typical road of asking hypothetical questions or trying to undermine her character.

Use her supposed good character and keen legal mind against the administration that has nominated her. Let her either convict Trump or embarrass herself by trying to weasel out of convicting Trump. Either way, it’ll be great television …

Published in: on September 28, 2020 at 6:59 pm  Comments (17)  

A full time worker at the national median would be making about $100,000 per year if…

… income were distributed fairly, according to a recent RAND study. Instead, they make about half that amount. The remainder has been sucked up by the top 1%.

https://www.fastcompany.com/90550015/we-were-shocked-rand-study-uncovers-massive-income-shift-to-the-top-1

Published in: on September 15, 2020 at 11:29 am  Comments (2)  

Who is crazy enough to believe such bullshit?

What this senior Trump hack is alleging is complete, bat-shit crazy nonsense. Apparently a good fraction of the American people believe it, even though Caputo apparently also says that he himself is nuts.

Read for yourself. This is from the NYT.

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Trump Health Aide Falsely Alleges Conspiracies and Warns of Armed Revolt

Michael R. Caputo told a Facebook audience without evidence that left-wing hit squads were being trained for insurrection and accused C.D.C. scientists of “sedition.”

Michael Caputo, the top communications official at the Department of Health and Human Services, complained that he was under siege by the news media and said his “mental health has definitely failed.”Credit…Sam Hodgson for The New York Times

By Sharon LaFraniere

  • Sept. 14, 2020Updated 6:35 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — The top communications official at the powerful cabinet department in charge of combating the coronavirus made outlandish and false accusations on Sunday that career government scientists were engaging in “sedition” in their handling of the pandemic and that left-wing hit squads were preparing for armed insurrection after the election.

Michael R. Caputo, the assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, accused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of harboring a “resistance unit” determined to undermine President Trump, even if that opposition bolsters the Covid-19 death toll.

Mr. Caputo, who has faced intense criticism for leading efforts to warp C.D.C. weekly bulletins to fit Mr. Trump’s pandemic narrative, suggested that he personally could be in danger from opponents of the administration. “If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get,” he urged his followers.

To a certain extent, Mr. Caputo’s comments in a video he hosted live on his personal Facebook page were simply an amplified version of remarks that the president himself has made. Both men have singled out government scientists and health officials as disloyal, suggested that the election will not be fairly decided, and insinuated that left-wing groups are secretly plotting to incite violence across the United States.

But Mr. Caputo’s attacks were more direct, and they came from the official most responsible for shaping communications around the coronavirus.

C.D.C. scientists “haven’t gotten out of their sweatpants except for meetings at coffee shops” to plot “how they’re going to attack Donald Trump next,” Mr. Caputo said. “There are scientists who work for this government who do not want America to get well, not until after Joe Biden is president.”

A longtime Trump loyalist with no background in health care, Mr. Caputo, 58, was appointed by the White House to his post in April, at a time when the president’s aides suspected the health secretary, Alex M. Azar II, of protecting his public image instead of Mr. Trump’s. Mr. Caputo coordinates the messaging of an 80,000-employee department that is the center of the federal public health bureaucracy. The Department of Health and Human Services oversees the Food and Drug Administration, the C.D.C. and the National Institutes of Health., three agencies that are all deeply involved in the pandemic response.

“Mr. Caputo is a critical, integral part of the president’s coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.

Mr. Caputo’s Facebook comments were another sign of the administration’s deep antipathy and suspicion for its own scientific experts across the bureaucracy and the growing political pressure on those experts to toe a political line favorable to Mr. Trump.

This weekend, first Politico, then The New York Times and other news media organizations published accounts of how Mr. Caputo and a top aide had routinely worked to revise, delay or even scuttle the core health bulletins of the C.D.C. to paint the administration’s pandemic response in a more positive light. The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports had previously been so thoroughly shielded from political interference that political appointees only saw them just before they were published.

Mr. Caputo’s 26-minute broadside on Facebook against scientists, the news media and Democrats was also another example of a senior administration official stoking conspiracy theories about the “deep state” — the label Mr. Trump often attaches to the federal Civil Service bureaucracy — and public anxiety over the election.

Mr. Caputo predicted that the president would win re-election in November, but that his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., would refuse to concede, leading to violence. “And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin,” he said. “The drills that you’ve seen are nothing.”

There were no obvious signs from administration officials on Monday that Mr. Caputo’s job was in danger. On the contrary, Mr. Trump again added his voice to the administration’s science denialism. As the president visited California to show solidarity with the fire-ravaged West, he challenged the established science of climate change, declaring, “It will start getting cooler.” He added: “Just watch. I don’t think science knows, actually.”

Mr. Caputo’s remarks also dovetailed in part with those of Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime confidant of both Mr. Caputo and Mr. Trump. Mr. Stone, whose 40-month prison sentence for lying to Congress was commuted by the president in July, told the conspiracy website Infowars on Friday that Democrats were striving to rig the November vote, and that Mr. Trump should consider declaring martial law if he lost re-election.

Mr. Caputo noted with pleasure during his Facebook monologue that Grant Smith, a lawyer for Mr. Stone, was among the followers who had joined his talk on Sunday. Mr. Caputo has 5,000 Facebook friends, and his video was viewed more than 850 times and shared by 44 followers. He has now shut down his account.

Over all, his tone was deeply ominous: He warned, again without evidence, that “there are hit squads being trained all over this country” to mount armed opposition to a second term for Mr. Trump. “You understand that they’re going to have to kill me, and unfortunately, I think that’s where this is going,” Mr. Caputo added.

He said his physical health was in question, and his “mental health has definitely failed.”

“I don’t like being alone in Washington,” Mr. Caputo said, describing “shadows on the ceiling in my apartment, there alone, shadows are so long.” He also said the mounting number of Covid-19 deaths was taking a toll on him, telling his viewers, “You are not waking up every morning and talking about dead Americans.” The United States has lost more than 194,000 people to the virus. Mr. Caputo urged people to attend Trump rallies, but only with masks.

In a statement on Monday, Mr. Caputo told The Times: “Since joining the administration, my family and I have been continually threatened” and harassed by people who have later been prosecuted. “This weighs heavily on us, and we deeply appreciate the friendship and support of President Trump as we address these matters and keep our children safe.”

He insisted on Facebook that he would weather the controversies, saying, “I’m not going anywhere.” And he boasted of the importance of his role, stating that the president had personally put him in charge of a $250 million public service advertising campaign intended to help the United States return to normal.

The Department of Health and Human Services is trying to use that campaign to attract more minority volunteers for clinical trials of potential Covid-19 vaccines and to ask people who have recovered to donate their blood plasma to help other infected patients. Department officials have complained that Democratic members of Congress are obstructing them.

While Mr. Caputo characterized C.D.C. scientists in withering terms, he said the agency’s director, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, was “one of my closest friends in Washington,” adding, “He is such a good man.” Mr. Caputo is partly credited with helping choose Dr. Redfield’s new interim chief of staff.

Critics say Dr. Redfield has left the agency open to so much political interference that career scientists are the verge of resigning. The agency, based in Atlanta, was previously seen as mostly apolitical; its reports were internationally respected for their importance and expertise.

Mr. Caputo charged that scientists “deep in the bowels of the C.D.C. have given up science and become political animals.” He said they “walk around like they are monks” and “holy men” but engaged in “rotten science.”

He fiercely defended his scientific adviser, Dr. Paul Alexander, who was heavily involved in the effort to reshape the C.D.C.’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports. Mr. Caputo described Dr. Alexander, an assistant professor at McMaster University in Canada, as “a genius” and said that public criticism had served only to make his position “permanent” as a watchdog over politically motivated scientists.

“To allow people to die so that you can replace the president is a grievous venial sin, venial sin,” Mr. Caputo said. “And these people are all going to hell.”

A public relations specialist, Mr. Caputo has repeatedly claimed that his family and his business suffered hugely because of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Caputo was a minor figure in that inquiry, but he was of interest partly because he had once lived in Russia, had worked for Russian politicians and was contacted in 2016 by a Russian who claimed to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Caputo referred that person to Mr. Stone and was never charged with any wrongdoing. Mr. Caputo later wrote a book and produced a documentary, both entitled “The Ukraine Hoax,” to undermine the case for Mr. Trump’s impeachment.

Mr. Caputo worked on Mr. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign for a time but was passed over for a job early in the administration. He remained friendly with Dan Scavino, the former campaign aide who is now the deputy chief of staff for White House communications and played a role in reconnecting Mr. Trump and Mr. Caputo.

Some of Mr. Caputo’s most disturbing comments were centered on what he described as a left-wing plot to harm the administration’s supporters. He claimed baselessly that the killing of a Trump supporter in Portland, Ore., in August by an avowed supporter of the left-wing collective known as antifa was part of that effort.

“Remember the Trump supporter who was shot and killed?” Mr. Caputo said. “That was a drill.”

The man suspected in the shooting, Michael Forest Reinoehl, was shot dead this month by officers from a federally led fugitive task force in Washington State. He “went down fighting,” Mr. Caputo said. “Why? Because he couldn’t say what he had inside him.”

Mr. Caputo continued his social media messaging after the Facebook event, retweeting a conspiratorial post that hinted with no evidence that armed camps were being established in Washington, D.C.: “Occupants don’t look like vagrants. Looks like forward basing for militant street ops,” J. Michael Waller, a conservative provocateur, posted on Twitter.

On Monday, Mr. Caputo blocked access to his personal Twitter account.

Where actual Fake News comes from

DAVID CHAVERNIDEAS09.14.2020 09:00 AM

Section 230 Is a Government License to Build Rage Machines

The law serves as Facebook and Google’s get-out-of-jail-free card for conspiracies and disinformation. It’s time for this to stop.

Propelling misinformation and suppressing competitors shouldn’t be government-protected activities.PHOTOGRAPH: CARLOS BARRIA/REUTERS

FACEBOOK HAS BEEN called the “ largest piece of the QAnon infrastructure.” The app has not only hosted plenty of the conspiracy group’s dark and dangerous content, it has also promoted and expanded its audience. QAnon is hardly the only beneficiary: Facebook promotes and expands the audience of militia organizers, racists, those who seek to spread disinformation to voters, and a host of other serious troublemakers. The platform’s basic business, after all, is deciding which content keeps people most engaged, even if it undermines civil society. But unlike most other businesses, Facebook’s most profitable operations benefit from a very special get-out-of-jail-free card provided by the US government.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects “interactive computer services” like Facebook and Google from legal liability for the posts of their users. This is often portrayed as an incentive for good moderation. What is underappreciated is that it also provides special protection for actively bad moderation and the unsavory business practices that make the big tech platforms most of their money.

David Chavern is the president and CEO of the News Media Alliance.

Google might be viewed as a search engine, and Facebook as a virtual community, but these services are not where the profits lie. They make money by deciding what content will keep readers’ eyeballs locked near ads. The platforms are paid for their ability to actively select and amplify whatever material keeps you hooked and online. And all of that content is specifically protected by Section 230, even when they are recommending QAnon or Kenosha Guard.

This unusual state of affairs exists because, while Section 230 was intended to limit the platforms’ responsibility for bad content, the courts have also perversely interpreted it as providing protection for commercial decisions to elevate and push stories to users. This allows Google and Facebook to focus on user engagement to the exclusion of everything else, including content quality and user well-being. If I threaten or defame someone in an online post (assuming I’m not acting anonymously), I can be sued. If a platform decides to promote that threatening post to millions of other people to drive user interest and thus increase time on the site, they can do so without any fear of consequences. Section 230 is a government license to build rage machines.

The platforms like to avoid any discussion of their liability-free business model by focusing on the difficulties of blocking bad content. This is evidenced by Mark Zuckerberg’s constant defense of “free speech” and the problems with dealing with information “at scale.” While stopping the public from posting bad content is a truly difficult problem, all decisions about amplifying that content are the platforms’ own. They should be expected to police themselves.

That license to engage in irresponsible behavior is particularly hard on market participants like news publishers (whom I represent) that invest in creating quality content. They are forced to compete in attention markets that don’t value quality and are subject to ever-changing algorithmic decisions about which content favors the platforms’ interests. Under Section 230, news publishers also retain liability for what they produce. We get the responsibility, and Google and Facebook get most of the money.

You might think the platforms would value quality journalism as a partial antidote to the bad information they host, but, as recently indicated by Facebook’s threat to terminate access to news in Australia, they just don’t believe it’s important to their business. Section 230 means they don’t have to care about the quality of the content they deliver.

The internet is no longer in its infancy, as it was when the Communications Decency Act was passed in 1996. We need new rules for the digital market that limit government distortions and promote genuine competition. Roger McNamee, the venture capitalist and early investor in Facebook, has correctly argued that the protections of Section 230 are inconsistent with algorithmic amplification. We could start by limiting Section 230 and making the platforms responsible, like any other publisher, for content they decide to promote and amplify. This wouldn’t stop the spread of all hateful content. But it would, at the very least, require the platforms to carefully track and filter what they promote, and introduce incentives to support known sources of quality information.

Propelling misinformation and suppressing competitors shouldn’t be government-protected activities. While Google and Facebook like to preach libertarian virtues like open competition and free speech, they are really living off a giant government subsidy. And when you wrap massive companies in special protections, markets and society suffer. It’s time for them to take responsibility for their commercial decisions, just like any other business

Published in: on September 14, 2020 at 4:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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