Friday: Something Fascist This Way Comes

Good Day Sky Dancers!

It’s just so hard to start this morning because the headlines are particularly disturbing and not what one expects to see in what was once a fully mature democracy and a highly developed nation. The economic numbers are truly devastating. What makes it worse is that policy and lack of national health strategy is making us live through more than a shock to the economy and more than a national health crisis.

We’ve had a crisis in national health for years. Our broken system and the continuing focus of Republicans on hyping cultural wedge issues and voodoo economics while funneling taxpayer money to billionaires has just hit something that’s put the Republican agenda since Reagan on its destructive full display. It’s no longer slowly killing most of us. It’s actively killing most of us and the world is watching us like we’re living the real version of American Horror Story.

I’ve always enjoyed a good horror movie but sheesh, do we have to live in one? Sir John Cleese has started a zoom performances, speeches, thoughts, etc. He’s spot on here as quoted in the Daily Beast. He’s doing a series of live stream talks from an empty Cadogan Hall in London that is the very essence of the art of dark comedy.

“I don’t mean there’s no hope for us as individuals,” he clarifies when I ask him to elaborate on the ominous title. What he means is, “There is no hope for us that we could ever live in an intelligent, kind, well-run society. Mainly because most people have no idea what they’re talking about.”

Whenever he meets someone who is at the top of their respective field, Cleese asks them how many people in their profession “really know what they’re doing.” He says most people answer in the 10-15 percent range, which may say more about individual arrogance than widespread ineptitude, but he takes them at their word.

“So that means that six out of seven people really don’t know what they’re doing,” he says. “They can just follow routines. But if the routines don’t work, then they don’t understand it at that deeper level.” As is often the case with Cleese, the serious point is followed by a joke: “They’re like I am when my computer crashes.”

From there, Cleese says he moves on the question of why people seek power, which of course brings him to Donald Trump. The comedian has been prolifically anti-Trump on his Twitter account for the past several years and does not need much prompting to start ranting against the American president.

“If you look around at the moment, most of the people who seek great power are complete assholes, who are really only out for themselves,” he says. “Well, if someone’s out for themselves primarily, like our dear President Donald Trump, with no interest in other people at all, it’s not very likely that they’re going to be very good at building a society. And you see that the characteristics of people who are powerful is that they have a deep, deep fear of losing their power.”

“So with all these things going on there’s very little chance we will ever have a sensible society and this is a particularly bad moment,” Cleese adds.

Referring to the rise of strongman leaders around the world like Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and others, Cleese says, “We have madness and power-seeking and complete unscrupulousness and pathological lying. And it’s very interesting why. Is it because people are very stupid? That’s a possible explanation.”

It’s really hard to watch and listen to the eulogies from three past presidents for such a towering human as John Lewis with normal behavior then return to the Daily Trumpist Reality Shit Show. It was on express view yesterday since former President Obama is an ongoing trigger for which ever personality disorder is front most at that particular point in time. However, President Obama did a job on him that should royally trigger him without even mentioning his name. This article is from Stephen Collinson at CNN: “Obama warns that Trump’s actions threaten US democracy.”

In one of the most jolting moments in modern political history, former President Barack Obama reclaimed his political pulpit with a stark warning that his successor is a grave and imminent threat to American democracy and racial justice.

Then, even more remarkably, President Donald Trump went on television and proved him right, putting a foreboding shadow over an election that he is already seeking to cast as illegitimate in the eyes of millions of Americans.

The campaign between Trump and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has mostly chugged along out of sight, obscured by a pandemic that has killed more than 150,000 Americans.

But the extraordinary interventions Thursday of two presidents, whose legacies will be forever entwined, suddenly underscored how this election, in the words of the quadrennial cliché, will actually be the most important one of our lifetimes.

Thursday brought a tableau of one president, liberated now that he is out of office, at the funeral of Rep. John Lewis, weaving the life of a national hero into a parable of America’s long struggle to reach its promise. The current commander in chief, mired in crisis and desperate to cling to power, reached not for inspiration but for lies and disinformation to obscure the truth.

Yes. Trump held a press conference so he could do his magic hands routine to distract the press away from everything and anything. The shocking but not possible announcement of the day was his inkling of putting off the national election. The shock was undoubtedly the point. From archconservative and a co-founder of The Federalist Society Steven G Calabresi writing in a NY Times Op Ed today: “Trump Might Try to Postpone the Election. That’s Unconstitutional. He should be removed unless he relents.” Trump has been doing things since he came down that elevator shadowing the need to remove him and every time that happens Mitch McConnell calls a recess and leaves town.

But I am frankly appalled by the president’s recent tweet seeking to postpone the November election. Until recently, I had taken as political hyperbole the Democrats’ assertion that President Trump is a fascist. But this latest tweet is fascistic and is itself grounds for the president’s immediate impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his removal from office by the Senate.

Read the paragraph that precedes this one and realize that this man is really a major indicator of the problem. His late arrival to the party pearl clutching is really just typical of an oligarch realizing there’s a guillotine out there with his name on it. Trump is a champion mangler of the US Constitution. Where has he been?

The “rigged campaign” Trumpist Election Strategy is basically a strategy of projection. We’re supposed to look the other way while they rig the campaign and depress and fail to count votes. This is from Politico: ‘Rigged election’ goes from Trump complaint to campaign strategy. The notion that the president might not accept the election results has jumped from the partisan fever swamps to center stage in the campaign.” Translation of this is that if his rigging of the election doesn’t quite work he won’t leave but will try to tie things up endlessly in the courts.

Donald Trump’s suggestion that he might try to delay the election — or might not accept the result — is rapidly coming to the forefront of the presidential campaign, foreshadowing a final stretch roiled not only by the coronavirus and the economy, but by clashes over the nation’s most fundamental democratic norms.

Though Trump has no authority to move the election — an idea he floated Thursday — Democrats are already bracing for Republican challenges to absentee ballots and at vote counting on Election Day. They have good cause to be prepared: the president has repeatedly raised the prospect of a “rigged election” and recently declined to say if he’ll accept the results.

Trump’s rhetoric points increasingly to the possibility that he will dispute the outcome in a year marked by primary election administration meltdowns — a prospect that is heightened by his absolute control of state and national party machinery and an attorney general who has amplified Trump’s unsubstantiated claims about mail-in voting fraud.

“I don’t have any doubt that’s where he’s headed,” Pete Giangreco, a Democratic strategist who has worked on nine presidential campaigns, said of Trump’s effort to discredit the election. “He wants to delay the election because if they had the election today, he’d lose. The further out he gets from today, the better off he is … So, he wants more time to jerry-rig the system to somehow spit him out as the winner.”

So, here’s a horrifying report from WAPO on the DHS. And you thought they only sent secret police out to terrify those folks peacefully assembled while exercising the first amendment rights! “DHS compiled ‘intelligence reports’ on journalists who published leaked documents.” Everybody gets to lose their first amendment rights but whacko white nationalist christianists.

The Department of Homeland Security has compiled “intelligence reports” about the work of American journalists covering protests in Portland, Ore., in what current and former officials called an alarming use of a government system meant to share information about suspected terrorists and violent actors.

Over the past week, the department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis has disseminated three Open Source Intelligence Reports to federal law enforcement agencies and others, summarizing tweets written by two journalists — a reporter for the New York Times and the editor in chief of the blog Lawfare — and noting they had published leaked, unclassified documents about DHS operations in Portland. The intelligence reports, obtained by The Washington Post, include written descriptions and images of the tweets and the number of times they had been liked or retweeted by others.

After The Post published a story online Thursday evening detailing the department’s practices, the acting homeland security secretary, Chad Wolf, ordered the intelligence office to stop collecting information on journalists and announced an investigation into the matter.

“Upon learning about the practice, Acting Secretary Wolf directed the DHS Intelligence & Analysis Directorate to immediately discontinue collecting information involving members of the press,” a department spokesman said in a statement. “In no way does the Acting Secretary condone this practice and he has immediately ordered an inquiry into the matter. The Acting Secretary is committed to ensuring that all DHS personnel uphold the principles of professionalism, impartiality and respect for civil rights and civil liberties, particularly as it relates to the exercise of First Amendment rights.”

Some of the leaked DHS documents the journalists posted and wrote about revealed shortcomings in the department’s understanding of the nature of the protests in Portland, as well as techniques that intelligence analysts have used. A memo by the department’s top intelligence official, which was tweeted by the editor of Lawfare, says personnel relied on “FINTEL,” an acronym for financial intelligence, as well as finished intelligence “Baseball cards” of arrested protesters to try to understand their motivations and plans. Historically, military and intelligence officials have used such cards for biographical dossiers of suspected terrorists, including those targeted in lethal drone strikes.

Yeah. Isn’t that special!

And then there’s this from CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin ” Fearing Trump interference, FBI agents hid copies of Russia investigation docs”. It’s excerpted from his new book TRUE CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS: The Investigation of Donald Trump,” by Jeffrey Toobin. Feeling better yet?

From Comey’s first meetings with Trump, shortly after he won the presidency, the FBI director developed misgivings about his new boss’ behavior — about Trump’s demands for “loyalty,” and even more unnerving, his request that the Bureau drop its investigation of Flynn. Comey’s conversations with Trump had been so distressing that the director started writing up contemporaneous summaries of their interactions and sharing them with a handful of top officials at the Bureau. Now, suddenly, Comey was out — and the question arose of what to do with his memos about his conversations with the President

Andrew McCabe, who was Comey’s deputy and now the acting director of the FBI. McCabe thought Trump’s behavior was sufficiently problematic to be investigated for possible obstruction of justice, and he told his team to open a criminal case.

Given the wild pace of events, McCabe couldn’t be sure how long he’d last as director, so he wanted to lock down as much evidence as possible. Most important, he told the investigating agents to place Comey’s memos in SENTINEL, the FBI’s case management software. McCabe knew that once documents were inside the system, they were virtually impossible to remove. With Comey’s memos in the system, the investigators were certain to have access to them — even if McCabe himself would eventually be gone.

Indeed, FBI officials even went a step farther. Once McCabe became director, Bureau employees grew so concerned that Trump would try to shut down the investigation that they secreted at least three copies of key documents, including Comey’s memos, in remote locations around the Bureau. This was to make sure that in the event Trump directed an end to these inquiries, the documents could always be preserved, located, and shared.

On May 17, eight days after Trump fired Comey, Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, announced that he had appointed Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the FBI from 2001 to 2013, to serve as special counsel. Rosenstein gave Mueller a broad mandate — to investigate ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, as well as any matters that arose from his investigation. Mueller’s team ultimately took possession of Comey’s memos, and they proved to be important evidence in the report Mueller filed two years later. As Mueller later learned, and included in his report, Trump seriously contemplated firing the special counsel on several occasions — so the initial suspicions at the FBI, about the President’s real intentions, were well-grounded.

And, I haven’t even gotten to the economy yet. Dan Rather puts it rather succinctly.

Yes. There’s that. We’re officially in a recession and this is the worst Quarter’s GDP ever.

The US economy contracted at a 32.9% annual rate from April through June, its worst drop on record, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said Thursday.

Business ground to a halt during the pandemic lockdown in the spring of this year, and America plunged into its first recession in 11 years, putting an end to the longest economic expansion in US history and wiping out five years of economic gains in just a few months.

A recession is commonly defined as two consecutive quarters of declining gross domestic product — the broadest measure of the economy. Between January and March, GDP declined by an annualized rate of 5%.

Okay, we’ll let’s listen to something a little more uplifting.

Please be safe! Be gentle with yourself and others! Give yourself space to heal and relax! Check in with us! We love and value your thoughts!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today!


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

Claude Monet, Water Lillies, 1916

Here we go folks. Trump is not just laying the groundwork for martial law; he now wants to delay the election.

Associated Press: Trump floats November election delay – but he can’t do that.

President Donald Trump is for the first time floating a “delay” to the Nov. 3 presidential election, as he makes unsubstantiated allegations that increased mail-in voting will result in fraud.

The dates of presidential elections — the Tuesday after the first Monday in November in every fourth year — are enshrined in federal law and would require an act of Congress to change. The Constitution makes no provisions for a delay to the Jan. 20, 2021 presidential inauguration.

Still, the mere suggestion of the delay was extraordinary in a nation that has held itself up as a beacon to the world for its history of peaceful transfer of power.

Trump tweeted Thursday: “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

CNN: Trump floats delaying election despite lack of authority to do so.

President Donald Trump explicitly floated delaying November’s presidential election on Thursday, lending extraordinary voice to persistent concerns that he would seek to circumvent voting in a contest where he currently trails his opponent by double digits.

Trump has no authority to delay an election, and the Constitution gives Congress the power to set the date for voting. Yet Trump’s message provides an opening — long feared by Democrats — that both he and his supporters might refuse to accept the results of the presidential results.

But in his tweet on Thursday morning — coming 96 days before the election and minutes after the federal government reported the worst economic contraction in recorded history — Trump offered the suggestion because he claimed without evidence the contest will be flawed.

Trump has previously sought to stoke fear and lay the groundwork to question the election’s results by promoting the idea that mail-in voting leads to widespread fraud and a “rigged” election. Democrats have warned that his efforts are meant both to suppress voting and to provide a reason to refuse to leave office should he lose.

Dove 1949 Pablo Picasso

Bill Barr appears to be planning an “October surprise.” The Washington Post: Barr says he won’t wait until after election to reveal Durham’s findings. Democrats fear a campaign-altering surprise.

Attorney General William P. Barr reiterated this week that he will not wait until after November’s election to release whatever U.S. Attorney John Durham finds in his examination of the FBI’s 2016 investigation into President Trump’s campaign, raising fears among Democrats that Barr and Durham could upend the presidential race with a late revelation.

Republicans have been eagerly awaiting Durham’s findings — hopeful that the prosecutor Barr handpicked last year to investigate the investigation of possible coordination between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia will validate their fierce criticisms of the bureau. Democrats, meanwhile, have worried that the Connecticut U.S. attorney is aiding a political stunt designed to undercut an investigation that dogged Trump’s presidency.

As the election draws near — and much of what Durham is doing remains a mystery — both sides have grown increasingly anxious, with liberals fretting over an October surprise, and Republicans wondering whether Durham’s work could push into the next administration.

Barr has repeatedly and stridently attacked the Russia investigation — saying that what happened to Trump was “one of the greatest travesties in American history” — while hinting vaguely that he is “troubled” by what he knows Durham has found. That has drawn accusations from Democrats and legal analysts that he is inappropriately talking about an ongoing case and prejudging its outcome.

“There’s a real danger, in fact an urgent threat, that anything the Department of Justice does will be timed to aid the president,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D- Conn.) said in an interview, adding, “Barr has proven ready, willing and able to distort, distract and deceive.”

I wonder if this news will affect Trump’s attitude about the pandemic?

Cain attended Trump’s hate rally in Tulsa and didn’t socially distance or wear a mask.

The Daily Beast: Herman Cain Dies After Month-Long Battle With Coronavirus.

Herman Cain, the one-time Republican presidential candidate and prominent businessman, has died a month after he was hospitalized with COVID-19.

“We knew when he was first hospitalized with COVID-19 that this was going to be a rough fight,” a post on his website said Thursday. “He had trouble breathing and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. We all prayed that the initial meds they gave him would get his breathing back to normal, but it became clear pretty quickly that he was in for a battle.”

The post said there were “hopeful indicators, including a mere five days ago when doctors told us they thought he would eventually recover, although it wouldn’t be quick.”

Vincent Van Gogh, Water Lillies 1887

However, he “never quite seemed to get to the point where the doctors could advance him to the recovery phase.” [….]

Cain was 74. He had been “pretty healthy” in recent years, the post said. However, he was considered at higher risk for severe coronavirus complications due to his history of cancer.

Whatever semblance of normal business remained on Capitol Hill during the COVID-19 outbreak was upended when U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Tyler Republican, disclosed Wednesday he tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

Several other members of Congress similarly tested positive to little fanfare over the last several months. But Gohmert’s diagnosis unleashed a commotion on Capitol Hill unlike anything the nearly two dozen staffers, consultants, lobbyists and members interviewed for this story could recall in recent memory.

Gohmert’s aversion to wearing masks and following other practices intended to mitigate the spread of the virus led many here to believe he might eventually contract the virus and potentially expose his colleagues. For months, members and staffers on the Hill watched with simmering fury as Gohmert and a handful of other Republican lawmakers made their rounds each day without masks.

“I just find it very disturbing that there are still many of my colleagues, especially in [the] Judiciary [Committee], that are just not following the attending physicians’ guidelines,” said U.S. Rep. Sylvia R. Garcia, a Houston Democrat who spent much of Tuesday in the same room as Gohmert in a hearing that included testimony from U.S. Attorney General William Barr.

“We’re going to have to find a way to make it a rule — and perhaps make it a rule with sanctions — because we’re spending too much time in Judiciary either arguing about it or talking about it, and we’re all on edge because they’re not wearing their masks,” she added. “I’m not sure why, but it’s just very disturbing.”

Water Lillies, Claude Monet

Gomert thinks wearing a mask is what made him sick.

“I can’t help but wonder if by keeping a mask on and keeping it in place, if I might have put some … of the virus on the mask and breathed it in. … But the reports of my demise are very premature,” he said. “If somebody feels strongly about everybody should wear a mask, then they shouldn’t be around people that don’t wear masks.”

What a moron.

California and Florida recorded record numbers of coronavirus deaths per day yesterday. CBS News:

Both California and Florida — the two states with the highest number of coronavirus cases in the country — set new records for single-day coronavirus deaths on Wednesday. The heartbreaking milestones come as the U.S. surpasses 150,000 deaths from the virus.

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday said 197 people in the state died from COVID-19 on Tuesday, the state’s highest in a single day. The state also reported 8,755 new positive cases.

According to Johns Hopkins University, California has the highest number of confirmed cases in the U.S., with at least 473,785. If California were its own country, it would have the fifth-highest number of cases behind only the U.S., Brazil, India and Russia….

Florida’s Department of Health confirmed Wednesday that 216 people died from the virus on Tuesday, a new single-day record for the state just one day after setting its previous record of 186 new deaths. An additional 9,448 people tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to at least 451,423 confirmed cases.

The Sunshine State surpassed New York — a former hot spot that reported six new COVID-19 fatalities Wednesday — in total confirmed cases Saturday. Many ICUs across the state are at or nearing capacity.

Picasso, Dove of Peace, 1949

I’ll end with this from The New York Times. John Lewis wrote an essay shortly before he died: Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation. Though I am gone, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.

While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity.

That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.

Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor. He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me. In those days, fear constrained us like an imaginary prison, and troubling thoughts of potential brutality committed for no understandable reason were the bars.

Though I was surrounded by two loving parents, plenty of brothers, sisters and cousins, their love could not protect me from the unholy oppression waiting just outside that family circle. Unchecked, unrestrained violence and government-sanctioned terror had the power to turn a simple stroll to the store for some Skittles or an innocent morning jog down a lonesome country road into a nightmare. If we are to survive as one unified nation, we must discover what so readily takes root in our hearts that could rob Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina of her brightest and best, shoot unwitting concertgoers in Las Vegas and choke to death the hopes and dreams of a gifted violinist like Elijah McClain.

Like so many young people today, I was searching for a way out, or some might say a way in, and then I heard the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on an old radio. He was talking about the philosophy and discipline of nonviolence. He said we are all complicit when we tolerate injustice. He said it is not enough to say it will get better by and by. He said each of us has a moral obligation to stand up, speak up and speak out. When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Democracy is not a state. It is an act, and each generation must do its part to help build what we called the Beloved Community, a nation and world society at peace with itself.

Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key. The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed. You can lose it.

Head over to the NYT to read the rest.

Take care Sky Dancers, and please give a shout out in the comments if you can. I love you all and don’t know how I could have made through the past four years without your voices.


Wednesday Reads: Damn you…

My internet has been cutting out all day long, so this is going to be brief.

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Visit link in bio for full story.

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A cartoon by @rozchast. #NewYorkerCartoons

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No, this next one is not the onion:

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By @tglnyc

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By @tglnyc

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Stay awake, America.

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For example…this kidnapping:

I was going to do a post about Olivia de Havilland, but let’s do that on Sunday.

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From @JillKargmqn via @plannedalism

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This is an open thread.


Tuesday Reads: 97 Days Until November 3

Good Morning!!

Trump personal attorney Bill Bar will testify before the House Judiciary Committee today. The hearing will begin around 10:45. I should watch it, but I’m going to spare myself that maddening experience. Megan Mineiro of Courthouse News will be tweeting about it, so I’ll check her timeline for updates.

Barr has released his opening statement. CNN: Barr calls Russia scandal ‘bogus,’ says he acts independently of Trump in blistering opening statement: Barr calls Russia scandal ‘bogus,’ says he acts independently of Trump in blistering opening statement.

In Barr’s prepared remarks, which were provided to CNN by the Justice Department on Monday, the attorney general says he has acted independently of President Donald Trump in the decisions he’s made in several criminal cases he’s handled.

“Ever since I made it clear that I was going to do everything I could to get to the bottom of the grave abuses involved in the bogus ‘Russiagate’ scandal, many of the Democrats on this Committee have attempted to discredit me by conjuring up a narrative that I am simply the President’s factotum who disposes of criminal cases according to his instructions. Judging from the letter inviting me to this hearing, that appears to be your agenda today,” Barr says in his written remarks.

Barr’s testimony on Tuesday is his first before the House Judiciary Committee, where Democrats have accused him of committing numerous abuses. It comes after he did not appear at a hearing before the panel last year and a March date was postponed. Democrats plan to push Barr on his intervention into the prosecutions of two Trump allies, his move last month to oust a prominent and powerful US attorney, and the Justice Department’s use of force against protesters to Barr’s threats to state and local officials over their handling of coronavirus. A Democratic committee counsel told reporters Monday that Democratic lawmakers will seek to paint Barr as repeatedly overruling career staff to serve the President’s interests first.

Barr will also face questions on his role in the administration’s crackdown on the protests across the country that followed George Floyd’s killing in May, including the decision to forcibly disperse a peaceful demonstration at Lafayette Square in June and the dispatching of federal officers to Portland, Oregon, where rioters have clashed with authorities nightly outside a complex of federal buildings.

In his opening statement, Barr said the President “has not attempted to interfere” in the criminal decisions he’s made, which would include lessening the sentencing recommendation for Trump’s longtime friend Roger Stone and to move to dismiss charges against Trump’s first national security adviser Michael Flynn.

He’s lying, of course. Just Security: “He’s Lying.” New Book Reveals Havoc Bill Barr Wrought Inside Congress.

On Tuesday morning, when Attorney General William Barr finally appears before the House Judiciary Committee, a book will be released covering one of Barr’s most controversial and most consequential actions to date: the attorney general’s grossly misleading summary of the Mueller Report.

The book’s author is Ambassador Norman Eisen, who served as special counsel to the Judiciary Committee during the impeachment hearings of Donald J. Trump. His was not simply a ringside seat; Eisen was a key player. That’s why this behind-the-scenes account sheds new light on the history-shaping impact of Barr’s actions.

“He’s lying.” Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Jerrold Nadler privately told Eisen and other staff as they tried to make sense of Barr’s 4-page summary without the benefit of the Mueller Report itself. The Chairman “saw right through Barr’s fabrications and was blunt about it,” writes Eisen in the book.

Not everyone else did. Former FBI Director James Comey said in a CNN interview at the time that “Bill Barr, our attorney general, deserves the benefit of the doubt.”

Nadler would be proven correct once the Mueller Report was released, but that would be more than three weeks later—a lifetime in American politics. And it would be almost an exact year before a federal court would weigh in. Judge Reggie B. Walton used part of his opinion in March of this year to call out Barr for the attorney general’s “misleading” and “distorted” account of Mueller’s findings.

That was a harsh assessment with added weight due to its legal significance. As Lisa Gilbert observed at Just Security, “To underscore the significance of Judge Walton’s findings: Barr’s summary of the Mueller Report was not simply a lie told to the media or public. It was a statement Barr submitted to Congress.”

More books about Trump’s and Barr’s corrupt behavior are coming. Andrew Weissmann, one of the top prosecutors in the Mueller investigation has a book coming out on September 29. And now a book by Trump FBI nemesis Peter Strzok has been announced. AP: Ex-FBI agent Strzok due out with book about Trump, Russia.

Former FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok, who played a key role in the Russia investigation but whose pejorative text messages about Donald Trump during the 2016 campaign made him a target of the president’s wrath, is releasing a book on his concerns the president could be compromised.

“Compromised: Counterintelligence and the Threat of Donald J. Trump” is due out Sept. 8, publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books & Media said in a statement to The Associated Press.

The book will offer an insider’s view on some of the most sensational and politically freighted investigations in modern American history, including into whether the 2016 Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to sway the presidential election. Due out two months before the November election, the book adds to the list of first-person accounts from other senior FBI and Justice Department officials during the Trump era.

“Russia has long regarded the United States as its ‘Main Enemy,’ and I spent decades trying to protect our country from their efforts to weaken and undermine us,” Strzok said Tuesday in a statement accompanying the book announcement.

“In this book,” he added, “I use that background to explain how the elevation by President Trump and his collaborators of Trump’s own personal interests over the interests of the country allowed Putin to succeed beyond Stalin’s wildest dreams, and how the national security implications of Putin’s triumph will persist through our next election and beyond.”

Remember when Trump claimed he was invited to throw out the first pitch at a NY Yankees game and later cancelled the appearance because he supposedly is working so hard to defeat the coronavirus pandemic? It turns out the Yankees never actually invited him. The New York Times: Trump Announced, Then Canceled, a Yankees Pitch. Both Came as a Surprise.

An hour before Dr. Anthony S. Fauci threw the first pitch at the season opener between the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals, President Trump stood on the briefing room stage at the White House and declared that he, too, had been invited to throw out his own opening pitch.

“Randy Levine is a great friend of mine from the Yankees,” Mr. Trump, referring to the president of the baseball team, told reporters on Thursday as Dr. Fauci was preparing to take the mound. “And he asked me to throw out the first pitch, and I think I’m doing that on Aug. 15 at Yankee Stadium.”

There was one problem: Mr. Trump had not actually been invited on that day by the Yankees, according to one person with knowledge of Mr. Trump’s schedule. His announcement surprised both Yankees officials and the White House staff.

But Mr. Trump had been so annoyed by Dr. Fauci’s turn in the limelight, an official familiar with his reaction said, that he had directed his aides to call Yankees officials and make good on a longtime standing offer from Mr. Levine to throw out an opening pitch. No date was ever finalized.

Trump just can’t stand it when he isn’t the center of attention. He took a break last night from his “hard work” to retweet vile conspiracy theories that were removed by both Facebookand

The Washington Post: Facebook deleted a viral video full of false coronavirus claims. Then Trump shared it on Twitter.

On Monday evening, Facebook scrubbed from its site a viral video showing a group of doctors making misleading and false claims about the coronavirus pandemic after more than 14 million people had watched it. Hours later, President Trump tweeted out multiple clips of the same video to his 84.2 million followers.

Trump shared the video — which claims that face masks and lockdowns are not needed to stop the disease — as he shared 14 tweets over a half-hour span defending the use of hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug that the president has repeatedly promoted, and attacking Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-diseases expert.

Twitter soon followed Facebook and YouTube in removing the videos, deleting several of the tweets that Trump shared, and even adding a note to its trending topics warning about the potential risks of hydroxychloroquine use….

The video Trump shared Monday night showed a collection of doctors speaking in favor of treating covid-19 patients with the antimalarial drug. The clip focused on the testimony of a woman named Stella Immanuel, who received a medical license in Texas last November, according to state records. The doctor did not return a request for comment.

NBC News: Twitter removes tweet highlighted by Trump falsely claiming COVID-19 ‘cure.’

Twitter removed a tweet that had been retweeted by President Donald Trump that falsely said that there was a cure for the coronavirus.

Late Monday night, Trump retweeted the tweet from an account with the handle “@stella_immanuel” that said: “Covid has cure. America wake up.”

Twitter soon after removed the tweet and replaced it with a gray box that says, “This Tweet is no longer available.”

A cure for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, doesn’t exist and scientists have been working on developing both a range of treatments as well as vaccines. They and the Trump administration are racing to have a vaccine ready by the end of the year….

Trump also retweeted tweets defending the use of the drug hydroxychloroquine, including one that accused Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, of misleading the public by dismissing the drug.

“Doctor” Immanuel has quite a resume. The Daily Beast: Trump’s New Favorite COVID Doctor Believes in Alien DNA, Demon Sperm, and Hydroxychloroquine.

A Houston doctor who praises hydroxychloroquine and says that face masks aren’t necessary to stop transmission of the highly contagious coronavirus has become a star on the right-wing internet, garnering tens of millions of views on Facebook on Monday alone. Donald Trump Jr. declared the video of Stella Immanuel a “must watch,” while Donald Trump himself retweeted the video.

Before Trump and his supporters embrace Immanuel’s medical expertise, though, they should consider other medical claims Immanuel has made—including those about alien DNA and the physical effects of having sex with witches and demons in your dreams.

Immanuel, a pediatrician and a religious minister, has a history of making bizarre claims about medical topics and other issues. She has often claimed that gynecological problems like cysts and endometriosis are in fact caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches.

She alleges alien DNA is currently used in medical treatments, and that scientists are cooking up a vaccine to prevent people from being religious. And, despite appearing in Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress on Monday, she has said that the government is run in part not by humans but by “reptilians” and other aliens.

Immanuel gave her viral speech on the steps of the Supreme Court at the “White Coat Summit,” a gathering of a handful of doctors who call themselves America’s Frontline Doctors and dispute the medical consensus on the novel coronavirus. The event was organized by the right-wing group Tea Party Patriots, which is backed by wealthy Republican donors.

Read more at the link.

That’s all from me today. What stories are you following?


Monday Reads: Horticulture

Woman With Flower 1932 By Pablo Picasso

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I’m going to borrow something–well steal it directly–with attribution to my friend and writer Michael Tisserand. It’s a reference to Dorothy Parker which is a hell of a lot better to read about than anything I can find on a Monday Morning in Trumpist America. It’s also a one word reminder for me to get my horticulture class finished up shortly despite that the weather here is really messing with everything except my damn banana trees. Michael wins the internet for the entire month of July with his tweet hands down! (See below).

So, let’s do the background work for Michael’s punchline in which Dorothy is brilliant and Michael is spot on. You can see his tweet below and how he revamped it for the bizarre announcement that Melania has suddenly taken an interest in revamping the Rose Garden.

There is substantive evidence that Dorothy Parker created the horticulture pun while she was participating in a word game at a party. She may have spoken it during a meeting of the famed Algonquin Round Table. These gatherings were held regularly by a group of columnists, playwrights, actors and other bright individuals at lunch within the Algonquin Hotel in New York City between roughly 1919 and 1929.

The earliest evidence, however, appeared several years later in 1935 in the widely-syndicated column of Walter Winchell. The actual pun was too taboo to print in a newspaper in the 1930s; hence, Winchell’s comment was curiously cryptic. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

Dorothy Parker can make up a sentence containing the word “Horticulture,” but hardly here.

A month later another gossip columnist named Harrison Carroll printed an elliptical comment that also linked Parker to the pun without sharing with readers the details of the witticism: 2

What was Dorothy Parker’s priceless offering when the gang at the James Gleason party were playing one of those “make a sentence with a word” games and someone suggested “horticulture”?

Special thanks to top researcher Bill Mullins who located the two citations given above.

The earliest account presenting a full version of Parker’s remark that QI has located was published in 1962 in a magazine of arts and literature called “Horizon”. An article by the prominent drama critic John Mason Brown referred to two puns. The first quip was based on the word “meretricious”, and an exploration of its provenance is available in another entry here. The second jest was ascribed to Parker: 3

Frank Adams’s solving the problem of building a sentence around “meretricious” with “Meretricious ‘n’ a Happy New Year,” and Mrs. Parker’s solving the same problem with “horticulture” by coming up with “You may lead a whore to culture but you can’t make her think”—these and a hundred others of their kind may by now have become enfeebled by familiarity. But they were born of a moment, and meant for that moment, and at that moment they were triumphant.

In addition to wordplay with “horticulture” Parker cleverly refashioned a very old English proverb about stubbornness: You may lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. As noted previously, when Parker delivered her joke it was too racy to be reprinted in contemporaneous books or periodicals published for a wide audience.

See the source image

Frederic Bazille: Black Woman with Peonies 1870

So, given those disastrous–albeit not permanent–Christmas displays where she ruins the White House annually, I can only wonder how dark and deranged the nation’s First Illegally visa’d sex worker will make the Rose Garden. My guess is this is another attempt to distract us from the miserable job her Sugar Daddy has done on everything and his continued assault on civil liberties as well as his massive grifting enterprise.

And then, not to mention the folks around him like crank Economist Peter Navarro who felt inclined to mock Dr. Fauci’s first pitch today.

“You know, the only thing I regret is Dr. Fauci’s pitch the other day at Opening Day. I felt bad for him,” Navarro said. “But I always look forward, and we’re all part of the team. And he actually tells people to wear the masks, and my job is to get them made.”

All the best people! All the BEST! People! Be BEST!

Henri Matisse (1869-1954) Jeune fille aux anémones sur fond violet

Okay, enough levity. It’s back to the Sugar Daddy billing it all to us and the depths of depravity he brings to this country.

So, I don’t often read Town & Country, but when I do I make sure the article is almost as cheeky as Dorothy Parker. “How Brooks Brothers Became a Symbol of What Not to Wear to the Revolution. That notorious “Ken and Karen” couple from St. Louis politically slimed a 202-year-old staple of American belonging. Is it still Ok to wear sensible chinos and a pink polo?”

Clothes are not the only politicized aspect of our appearances now—nor were they ever; hair is also a prominent battleground. During the French Revolution, Marie Antoinette’s signature powdered pouf was copied by the bourgeoisie, but it was reviled by the starving sans-culottes, who saw it as a wasteful indulgence, another representation of her to loucheness and profligacy.

A more modern hairdo once popular with hipsters is the shaved/faded sides and long-on-top look, or grown-out “high and tight” once favored by everyone from Macklemore to David Beckham. That, too, has been appropriated by far-right figurehead Richard Spencer and his ilk, who have taken to wearing it with Brooks Brothers suits, because Nazis used to wear the hairdo to look tidy under their helmets.

The New York Times once dubbed it the “Hitler Youth,” but it has since gone on to be nicknamed the “Fashy Haircut”—short for fascist, natch—and some of its adherents seem blithely unaware of the politics telegraphed by their coiffure. In 2016, the Washington Post once noted the irony of white nationalists “sporting a hairstyle that’s already been repurposed in the 21st century by young people whose ethos is radical safe-space inclusiveness, not ethnophobic separatism with eugenic undertones.”

In the context of today, that misdirection is precisely the point. The alt-right has intentionally become more sophisticated about blending in, substituting red tank tops and MAGA hats with more ambivalent iconography, the kind of fungible avatars that can be taken at face value, or interpreted as dog whistles if weaponized.

Arguably, another head of hair that looks suspect in the current climate is worn by perennially corporate hyper-conservatives like Jared Kushner. It’s the third-grade-picture-day, combover haircut that announces you have a turtle in your lunchbox and get to wear big boy pants because you haven’t wet the bed in weeks. It’s hair that looks excessively Boy Scouty and feckless precisely because it isn’t, like when predatory octopods camouflage themselves by mimicking the ocean floor.

For maximum due diligence, ask yourself a few difficult questions before opting for the old standbys when getting dressed for your next Zoomtinis. Remember that something that looks “safe” on the surface rarely is. We must all make sacrifices during times of (culture) war, but dressing in flip flops and pajama bottoms is arguably better than walking out of your house looking like you want to annex the Sudetenland.

The McCloskeys, by the way, are looking at a possible felony for what the Circuit Attorney’s Office in St. Louis called unlawful use of a gun “in an angry or threatening manner.” The fashion police, however, has not yet pressed charges, though a guilty verdict seems like a foregone conclusion.

⊰ Posing with Posies ⊱ paintings of women and flowers - Suzanne Valadon | The Blue Room, 1923

Suzanne Valadon | The Blue Room, 1923

And of course, having enough money to eke a roof and essentials during a global pandemic and a country wide depression is just too much for Republican Senators who want every one back lifting that bale and toting that barge. Maybe they should be forced to find a job in this environment. After all, they caused it.

From WAPO: “GOP, White House aim to temporarily reduce weekly unemployment benefit from $600 to $200. House Democrats have proposed keeping $600 benefit in place through January but the program is set to expire later this week; $200 would be bridge as states move to new system.”

“We have unemployment running out, we have renter protection running out, we have state and local governments going into new month and won’t have the money and will lay off thousands and thousands of people,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Monday morning on MSNBC. “We’re at all these cliffs and we still at this very moment don’t have a plan from the Republicans. We want to sit down and negotiate. But you can’t negotiate with a ghost.”

Given the difficulty of reaching agreement on the multiple contentious issues at play, Meadows and Mnuchin suggested over the weekend that Congress might need to pass a narrow bill including just the unemployment insurance, schools money and liability provisions.

Democrats have rejected that approach, and McConnell has yet to publicly embrace it, either.

The legislation will exclude the payroll tax cut President Trump had demanded, which Senate Republicans opposed. But it is expected to include language related to the FBI headquarters building that is diagonal from Trump’s hotel in downtown D.C. It was unclear exactly what the language would say, but Trump has said he wants to see a new headquarters building built on the site, and his administration killed a plan to relocate the headquarters to the suburbs.

The legislation also appeared likely to contain a number of other provisions pushed by a variety of Senate Republicans, which could potentially help secure more votes. These include a bill by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) aimed at bringing production lines back to the U.S. from China. Graham predicted over the weekend that half of Republicans wouldn’t support a new coronavirus spending bill.

Legislation by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on increasing incentives for advanced chip manufacturing also was being eyed for inclusion, as was a bill by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) called the Safeguarding American Innovation Act.

See the source image

Woman Seated By A Bouquet Of Flowers Artwork By Suzanne Valadon

Nothing like the smell of bacon in the morning!!! Grifters gotta grift!!!

The plan does include an August payment to all of another $1200. The generosity and humanity underwhelms! So Greg Sargent has an interesting hypothesis up today. Is this just Click Bait or Wishful Thinking? “How Fox News may be destroying Trump’s reelection hopes”. This is also from WAPO.

It would be a peculiarly apt form of poetic justice if the entity that has done so much to help President Trump run this country into the ground — Fox News — ends up playing an outsize role in helping destroy his chances at reelection.

Yet that may be exactly what’s happening.

This possibility is thrust upon us by two remarkable new reports: one in The Post illuminating Trump’s unsettled mental universe as he grapples with the new coronavirus surge, and one in the New York Times reporting that his law enforcement crackdowns are only accelerating more protests in response.

For Trump, Fox News has two functions: With some exceptions, it largely functions as his “shameless propaganda outlet,” as Margaret Sullivan put it, aggressively inflating his successes and faithfully pushing his messages. When Fox occasionally departs from this role, Trump rages at it as a form of deep betrayal.

Okay, so this is enough for me today. But hey, we got the whole week and at least until January to endure all this pettiness, meanness, greed, law breaking, … oh, go ahead! Add to that list!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?