Wednesday Reads: Coup… Excuse Me.

The front page of the New York Times for Wednesday…

The New York Times contacted the offices of the top election officials in every state on Monday and Tuesday to ask whether they suspected or had evidence of illegal voting. Officials in 45 states responded directly to The Times. For four of the remaining states, The Times spoke to other statewide officials or found public comments from secretaries of state; none reported any major voting issues.

Statewide officials in Texas did not respond to repeated inquiries. But a spokeswoman for the top elections official in Harris County, the largest county in Texas with a population greater than many states, said that there were only a few minor issues and that “we had a very seamless election.” On Tuesday, the Republican lieutenant governor in Texas, Dan Patrick, announced a $1 million fund to reward reports of voter fraud.

https://twitter.com/nick_anderson_/status/1326392659594911744?s=21

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Visit link in bio for full story.

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Yep

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I still have anxiety:

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Someone sent me this

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Omg

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Someone sent me this and it’s perfect

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Straight up? #NewYorkerCartoons 🖋 Seth Fleishman

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Happy Birthday Sesame Street…

Today is Veterans Day…

As we reflect on those who gave their lives fighting for our rights of democracy, let us think on the current occupant of the White House. tRump and his fellow Republicans, who are attempting to coup the very foundation of government these Veterans have for, are threatening the heart of a democratic government. The people’s voice, their vote.

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November 11 is Veteran's Day in the US and Remembrance Day in commonwealth countries, a memorial day observed since the end of World War I to remember all those who died in service to their country. . In Canada we always wore poppies on Remembrance Day because they are mentioned in the opening lines of the World War I poem "In Flanders Fields," referring to poppies growing among the graves of war victims in Belgium.  . This illustration of a poppy is from the 16th-century Great Hours of Anne of Brittany held at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS Lat. 9474. It contains the Latin text of Psalm 101: 12-18, which, interestingly enough, is quite fitting for this day. . Dies mei sicut umbra declinaverunt, et ego sicut foenum arui. Tu autem, Domine, in aeternum permanes, et memoriale tuum in generationem et generationem. Tu exsurgens misereberis Sion, quia tempus miserendi ejus, quia venit tempus: quoniam placuerunt servis tuis lapides ejus, et terrae ejus miserebuntur. Et timebunt gentes nomen tuum, Domine, et omnes reges terrae gloriam tuam: quia aedificavit Dominus Sion, et videbitur in gloria sua. Respexit in orationem humilium. . My days have declined like a shadow, and I have withered like the grass in the field. But you, O Lord, remain forever, and your remembrance endures for generation and generation. You shall rise up and remember Sion, because it is the time for mercy, because the time comes. For its stones have pleased your servants , and they will have pity on the earth. And the people will fear your name, O Lord, and all the kings of the earth your glory, because the Lord has built up Sion, and he shall be seen in His glory. He has considered the prayer of the humble. . #medieval #remembranceday #poppy #psalm #latinlanguage #lingualatina #vulgate #Bible

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He ate rats with rice and survived Japanese war camps, but on Saturday Bal Bahadur Basnet, the last surviving Gurkha prisoner of World War II succumbed to Covid-19 at the age of 99. Basnet was captured by the Japanese during the fall of Singapore, and survived four years in a prisoner of war camp in New Guinea. The British Gurkha defending Burma from Japanese invasion had to flee to Malaya, and were captured as Singapore fell. Those who refused to surrender were executed. The war camps were enduring. “On empty stomachs we were made to work carrying heavy loads, and had to bury the bodies of our friends,” Basnet told Nepalitimes in an interview in December last year. “The dead were the lucky ones, those who were alive worried that there would be no one to bury them after they died,” remembered Basnet. After the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the camps were liberated by Australian troops who took Basnet and others to Darwin from where they were brought to Bombay. Basnet took a train to Gorakhpur, and then to his village in Galkot of Baglung to reunite who had assumed his demise. Before he was infected with Covid-19, he was perfectly fit and never took any medication. He got up every morning at four, took a cold shower and a walk, and did not even need prescription glasses for reading and writing. Read more about Basnet and his lived experiences at the link in bio @nepalitimes #wwii #prisonersofwar #gurkha #nepal #nepalitimes #covid-19 #war #warcamps #hiroshima #nagasaki

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The latest on Covid:

And…let’s not end on a depressing thought:

Congratulations Chris, fanfuckingtastic!

What’s going on in your part of the world?


Sunday Reads: Ditto

I’ve got plenty of links for you today, the only thing is…I can’t remember if these links have been shared already. All the days and news horrors meld together, it has become so difficult to make sense of anything.

Be sure you watch this clip, so you can have a good laugh before the serious news links hit like bricks.

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I can't take it any more.

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In Poland:

Other weather updates:

Picture above from the Oslo episode of Veep…showing the map of chickenpox outbreaks that follow the exact path of Jonah’s Presidential campaign rallies…

Want to laugh…read the comments:

Sean Connery passed away yesterday:

That was a lot of tweets and links, but there is a whole bunch of shit going on…this is an open thread.


Thursday Reads: Trump, Barr, and Russia vs. American Democracy

Anna Sahlstén

Good Morning!!

Former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats spoke out about Trump in Bob Woodward’s new book Rage; now he’s authored an op-ed in The Washington Post about the 2020 election: What’s at Stake in This Election? The American Democratic Experiment.

We hear often that the November election is the most consequential in our lifetime. But the importance of the election is not just which candidate or which party wins. Voters also face the question of whether the American democratic experiment, one of the boldest political innovations in human history, will survive.

Our democracy’s enemies, foreign and domestic, want us to concede in advance that our voting systems are faulty or fraudulent; that sinister conspiracies have distorted the political will of the people; that our public discourse has been perverted by the news media and social networks riddled with prejudice, lies and ill will; that judicial institutions, law enforcement and even national security have been twisted, misused and misdirected to create anxiety and conflict, not justice and social peace.

If those are the results of this tumultuous election year, we are lost, no matter which candidate wins. No American, and certainly no American leader, should want such an outcome. Total destruction and sowing salt in the earth of American democracy is a catastrophe well beyond simple defeat and a poison for generations. An electoral victory on these terms would be no victory at all. The judgment of history, reflecting on the death of enlightened democracy, would be harsh.

The most urgent task American leaders face is to ensure that the election’s results are accepted as legitimate. Electoral legitimacy is the essential linchpin of our entire political culture. We should see the challenge clearly in advance and take immediate action to respond.

Coats argues that Congress should form a bipartisan commission to protect voting and ensure that Americans will see the results of the election as legitimate. Unfortunately, there’s almost no chance that Congressional Republicans would go along with such a project. They clearly support Trump’s goal of a “rigged” election.

Delphin Enjolras. Woman Reading at the Window woman reading at the window

At Vanity Fair, Chris Smith reports on Joe Biden’s preparations for dealing with election interference by Trump and his personal attorney Bill Barr: “We’re Not Going To Let Donald Trump Steal This Election”: Democrats Are Strategizing For All-Out Warfare.

Donald Trump, true to form, is stoking chaos, trying to undermine faith in the accuracy of November’s election. He has floated stationing armed guards at the 2020 polls and maintained a steady stream of lies about “rigged” mail-in ballots. Joe Biden’s counteroffensive is shaping up to be equally in character: It relies on his trust in rational process and in projecting calm. It’s a strategy that makes a great deal of sense—and also feels quaint considering Trump’s evil genius for asymmetrical warfare.

Biden has solicited the help of two former solicitors general, one former attorney general, and a small army of attorneys, building up its own law firm to beat back Trump’s attempts at voter suppression both before and after Election Day. Those lawyers are assisting in the legal battles already playing out in courts across the country that will shape the rules about whose votes get counted—in the words of Democratic strategist Brian Fallon, the “mini Bush v. Gores.” The lawyers and the vast voter-protection program being rolled out by the Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee are designed to do two things: ensure that all legitimate votes are counted, and bolster Democratic turnout by raising confidence that their votes will be counted. Biden’s second tactic is more subtle, and riskier: By not engaging directly and loudly with Trump’s claims of rampant fraud, Team Biden believes it will reduce the potency of the president’s frenetic disinformation.

We’ll see. We all remember how the Supreme Court installed George W. Bush in 2000.

When Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown University law professor and a cofounder of the Transition Integrity Project, brought together dozens of party veterans, pollsters, and media players to simulate outcomes, only one scenario—a Biden landslide—led to a fairly orderly transfer of power. The rest devolved into a constitutional crisis mixed with street violence. “The Democratic elites, God bless them, have had a lot of faith, historically, in institutions and the law,” Brooks says. “But our exercises underscored the tremendous advantage the first mover has in a disputed election, and the tremendous structural advantage of incumbency….The president can have Bill Barr initiate a politically motivated investigation. And I think we can expect all kinds of efforts, legal and extralegal, to stop the counting and to challenge mail-in ballots.”

The Biden campaign and the DNC certainly see all the potential for Trumpian mischief—and Ron Klain, one of Biden’s longtime senior advisers, was a senior adviser to Gore in 2000. So the campaign has constructed “the largest election-protection program in presidential campaign history,” a Biden strategist says. Biden allies have met with major media executives, urging them to be cautious in calling states on election night when millions of mail-in ballots will have yet to be processed. Another hopeful sign is that the Biden campaign is leaning on the expertise of Stacey Abrams and Lauren Groh-Wargo, who managed Abrams’s 2018 run for Georgia governor and now runs Fair Fight, the group Abrams founded to push for, well, fairness in elections.

Read the whole thing at Vanity Fair.

Woman Reading, Henri Lebasque

Meanwhile, Bill Barr has come out as a full-on fascist. He seems to be working overtime to out-Trump Trump. Remember how Barr helped clear Lafayette Square so that Trump could have a photo-op with a bible? The Washington Post reveals more details about that episode: Federal officials stockpiled munitions, sought ‘heat ray’ device before clearing Lafayette Square, whistleblower says.

Hours before law enforcement forcibly cleared protesters from Lafayette Square in early June amid protests over the police killing of George Floyd, federal officials began to stockpile ammunition and sces that could emit deafening sounds and make anyone within range feel like their skin is on fire, according to an Army National Guard major who was there.

D.C. National Guard Maj. Adam D. DeMarco told lawmakers that defense officials were searching for crowd control technology deemed too unpredictable to use in war zones and had authorized the transfer of about 7,000 rounds of ammunition to the D.C. Armory as protests against police use of force and racial injustice roiled Washington.

In sworn testimony, shared this week with The Washington Post, DeMarco provided his account as part of an ongoing investigation into law enforcement and military officers’ use of force against D.C. protesters….

DeMarco’s account contradicts the administration’s claims that protesters were violent, tear gas was never used and demonstrators were given ample warning to disperse — a legal requirement before police move to clear a crowd. His testimony also offers a glimpse into the equipment and weaponry federal forces had — and others that they sought — during the early days of protests that have continued for more than 100 days in the nation’s capital.

DeMarco, who provided his account as a whistleblower, was the senior-most D.C. National Guard officer on the ground that day and served as a liaison between the National Guard and U.S. Park Police.

[Emphasis added.] Recall that Barr was seen inspecting the protests before officers attacked the crowd. Now Barr wants to charge protesters with trying to overthrow the government and actually suggested criminally charging the mayor of Seattle. The New York Times: Barr Told Prosecutors to Consider Sedition Charges for Protest Violence.

Attorney General William P. Barr told federal prosecutors in a call last week that they should consider charging rioters and others who had committed violent crimes at protests in recent months with sedition, according to two people familiar with the call.

The Artist’s Wife, Henry Lamb, 1933

The highly unusual suggestion to charge people with insurrection against lawful authority alarmed some on the call, which included U.S. attorneys around the country, said the people, who described Mr. Barr’s comments on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

The attorney general has also asked prosecutors in the Justice Department’s civil rights division to explore whether they could bring criminal charges against Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle for allowing some residents to establish a police-free protest zone near the city’s downtown for weeks this summer, according to two people briefed on those discussions. Late Wednesday, a department spokesman said that Mr. Barr did not direct the civil rights division to explore this idea….

During a speech on Wednesday night, Mr. Barr noted that the Supreme Court had determined that the executive branch had “virtually unchecked discretion” in deciding whether to prosecute cases. He did not mention Ms. Durkan or the sedition statute.

“The power to execute and enforce the law is an executive function altogether,” Mr. Barr said in remarks at an event in suburban Washington celebrating the Constitution. “That means discretion is invested in the executive to determine when to exercise the prosecutorial power.”

More stories on Bill Barr’s latest crazy rantings:

CNN: Barr says calls for coronavirus lockdown are the ‘greatest intrusion on civil liberties’ other than slavery in US history.

Fox News: Barr claims anti-Trump element in DC working to ‘thwart’ administration.

Bloomberg: Barr Says ‘Black Lives Matter’ Doesn’t Care About Black Lives.

The New York Times: In an interview, Barr warned of the U.S. going down ‘the socialist path’ if Trump is not re-elected.

Steve Benen at MSNBC: AG Bill Barr’s election deceptions go from bad to worse.

The Washington Post: Barr accuses Justice Department of headhunting and meddling with politics.

Raw Story: Trump and Barr are creating a perfect storm for post-election violence: British journalist.

A couple more related stories:

Maria Karalyos, Woman reading a book

Neal Kaytal and Joshua Geltzer at The New York Times: This Is How Bad It’s Gotten at the Justice Department.

In his time as the head of the Justice Department, Attorney General William Barr has alienated many federal prosecutors. The latest appears to be Nora Dannehy, a longtime prosecutor who has resigned from the department, where she was part of a team looking into the Russia investigation.

We don’t know for sure exactly what happened; she isn’t talking, nor is Mr. Barr. But The Hartford Courant, which broke the story, reported that Ms. Dannehy’s colleagues said that she departed because of Mr. Barr’s politicization — in particular, because Mr. Barr is evidently eager to break drastically with past practice and issue an incomplete report intended to help President Trump in his re-election efforts.

Her resignation looks like part of an extremely troubling pattern. Earlier this year, highly respected prosecutors in the Michael Flynn and Roger Stone cases dramatically resigned or withdrew. One of them testified to Congress that the Justice Department under Mr. Barr was treating Mr. Stone “differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the president.” The Justice Department inspector general has opened an investigation.

When civil servants resign, skeptics often ask what difference one person really can make by leaving. The answer is simple: a lot. Ms. Dannehy’s departure isn’t just likely a major assertion of integrity by her; it’s also a big problem for Mr. Barr — and therefore for Mr. Trump.

Head over to the NYT to read the rest.

Julia Davis at The Daily Beast: Russian Media Is Rooting for Civil War in America: ‘The Worse, the Better.’

State-controlled media’s slant is a telling indicator of the Kremlin’s leanings. To imagine the relationship between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his massive media apparatus, one may reference the coziness between Sean Hannity and Trump—and magnify that intensity tenfold, with directives flowing only from the top down. Obsessed with retaining his dominance and fully realizing the power of propaganda, Putin leaves nothing to chance….

Gari Melchers, Woman Reading by a Window

Russian lawmakers, state media experts and pundits on tightly-choreographed TV shows openly reveal that the Kremlin is still rooting for Trump. But Moscow has a growing concern that this time around, their preferred candidate might lose. Appearing on a state TV show The Right To Know, Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of the Kremlin-funded propaganda networks RT and Sputnik, said about Trump’s chances of re-election: “I think Trump will lose, but then I think there will be a major blow-up from the standpoint of accepting or not accepting the outcome of the election. They’ll be battling over that for a long time, who knows how it might end.”

Having openly wished for Trump to drive the United States into civil war, Russian state media figures are now relishing that idea with renewed enthusiasm. They believe it would destabilize America to such an extent as to undermine its very sovereignty, thereby untying the Kremlin’s hands to wreak even more havoc upon the Western world. Appearing on Russia’s state TV show The Evening with Vladimir Soloviev, analyst Dmitry Drobnitsky explained his belief that U.S. elections “can be considered America’s internal affairs only up to the point when an actual civil war starts there.” The idea of a coup d’état seems all but inevitable, Drobnitsky argued: “The loser in this election would be an idiot to accept the outcome.”

Russian state media repeatedly echoed Trump, who is doing the Kremlin’s bidding by attacking the legitimacy of the 2020 elections, falsely suggesting that mail-in voting is completely fraudulent, and that Democrats are rigging the process to falsify the outcome. There is no doubt that the Kremlin would align with Trump in case of a contested election, as the groundwork for accusing the Democrats of fraud has been laid in advance.

Russian state media analysts also make no secret as to the Kremlin’s preferred candidate. Writing for the newspaper Kommersant, Dmitry Kosyrev, political columnist for state media outlet RIA Novosti, pondered: “Is Trump ours?” This popular refrain can be interpreted in one of several ways: to signify Russia’s hold over the American president, to express that Trump’s position is in perfect alignment with that of the Kremlin—meaning, “he is on our side”—or to signal Russia’s preference: “He is the one we choose.”

Things are getting really scary. Unbelievably, this year’s election will likely be much worse than 2016. I don’t know what more to say. I guess we just have to take it one day at a time, and hope that Biden and the Democrats have the guts to stand up for democracy.

Take care, Sky Dancers!


Thunderous Thursday Reads: Bolton From The Blue

Good Morning!!

John Bolton’s book is scheduled for release next Tuesday, but you don’t have to buy it. The best parts are already being published everywhere, despite Trump’s and Barr’s efforts to stop publication.

Bolton was interviewed by ABC’s Martha Raddatz, and the interview will be shown on Sunday in an hour-long special beginning at 9PM. ABC News: Bolton: Trump’s not ‘fit for office,’ doesn’t have ‘competence to carry out the job’

President Donald Trump is not “fit for office” and doesn’t have “the competence to carry out the job,” his former national security adviser John Bolton told ABC News in an exclusive interview.

In an explosive new book about his 17 months at the White House, Bolton characterizes Trump as “stunningly uninformed,” ignorant of basic facts and easily manipulated by foreign adversaries.

But his assessment that Trump is not “fit” to be president is among the most stunning indictments of a sitting president by one of their own top advisers in American history.

“There really isn’t any guiding principle that I was able to discern other than what’s good for Donald Trump’s reelection,” Bolton told ABC News chief global affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz.

“He was so focused on the reelection that longer-term considerations fell by the wayside,” he added.

The New York Times: Bolton Says Trump Impeachment Inquiry Missed Other Troubling Episodes.

John R. Bolton, the former national security adviser, says in his new book that the House in its impeachment inquiry should have investigated President Trump not just for pressuring Ukraine but for a variety of instances when he sought to use trade negotiations and criminal investigations to further his political interests.

Mr. Bolton describes several episodes where the president expressed a willingness to halt criminal investigations “to, in effect, give personal favors to dictators he liked,” citing cases involving major firms in China and Turkey. “The pattern looked like obstruction of justice as a way of life, which we couldn’t accept,” Mr. Bolton writes, saying that he reported his concerns to Attorney General William P. Barr.

Mr. Bolton also adds a striking new accusation by describing how Mr. Trump overtly linked tariff talks with China to his own political fortunes by asking President Xi Jinping to buy American agricultural products to help him win farm states in this year’s election. Mr. Trump, he writes, was “pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win.” Mr. Bolton said that Mr. Trump “stressed the importance of farmers, and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome.”

A bit more:

Mr. Bolton’s volume is the first tell-all memoir by such a high-ranking official who participated in major foreign policy events and has a lifetime of conservative credentials. It is a withering portrait of a president ignorant of even basic facts about the world, susceptible to transparent flattery by authoritarian leaders manipulating him and prone to false statements, foul-mouthed eruptions and snap decisions that aides try to manage or reverse.

Mr. Trump did not seem to know, for example, that Britain was a nuclear power and asked if Finland was a part of Russia, Mr. Bolton writes. The president never tired of assailing allied leaders and came closer to withdrawing the United States from NATO than previously known. He said it would be “cool” to invade Venezuela.

At times, Mr. Trump seemed to almost mimic the authoritarian leaders he appeared to admire. “These people should be executed,” Mr. Trump once said of journalists. “They are scumbags.” When Mr. Xi explained why he was building concentration camps in China, the book says, Mr. Trump “said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which he thought was exactly the right thing to do.” He repeatedly badgered Mr. Barr to prosecute former Secretary of State John F. Kerry for talking with Iran in what he insisted was a violation of the Logan Act.

There’s plenty more at the NYT link.

The Guardian: Trump was willing to halt criminal investigations as ‘favor’ to dictators, Bolton book says.

Donald Trump was willing to halt criminal investigations to “give personal favors to dictators he liked”, according to a new book written by his former national security adviser John Bolton….

Bolton alleges that Trump pleaded with China’s President Xi Jinping to help him get re-elected by buying more US agricultural products, according to accounts of his forthcoming memoir.

In his pursuit of a good personal relationship with Xi, Trump is described as brushing aside human rights issues, even providing encouragement to the communist leader to continue to build concentration camps for China’s Muslim Uighur population….

According to excerpts published by the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and the Washington Post, Bolton describes a pattern of corruption in which Trump routinely attempts to use the leverage of US power on other countries to his own personal ends.

“The pattern looked like obstruction of justice as a way of life, which we couldn’t accept,” Bolton writes, adding that he took his concerns to the attorney general, William Barr.

Axios: Bolton’s Revenge.

Highlights from a copy obtained by the N.Y. Times’ Peter Baker:

Impeachment: Bolton says Democrats failed by focusing the probe on Ukraine rather than on other cases involving China and Turkey.

Gossip: Bolton alleges Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slipped him a note calling Trump “full of shit” during a 2018 meeting with Kim Jong-un.

Trump gaffes: Bolton alleges Trump didn’t know the U.K. was a nuclear power and claims Trump asked if Finland was part of Russia.

Journalists: Bolton alleges Trump privately told him reporters deserve prison. “These people should be executed. They are scumbags.”

Bolton’s own words, via an excerpt published in the WSJ:

“Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win. He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome.”

“I would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.”

“At the opening dinner of the Osaka G-20 meeting in June 2019, with only interpreters present, Xi had explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang.

According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do.”

“One of Trump’s favorite comparisons was to point to the tip of one of his Sharpies and say, ‘This is Taiwan,’ then point to the historic Resolute desk in the Oval Office and say, ‘This is China.’”

CNN has a list of stunning revelations from the book, including this one:

Trump wanted Attorney General Bill Barr to make CNN reporters ‘serve time in jail.’

When news leaked about a hush-hush meeting on Afghanistan at Trump’s Bedminster resort, Trump complained that CNN had reported the summit was taking place, Bolton writes. The President told White House counsel Pat Cipollone to call Attorney General Bill Barr about his desire to “arrest the reporters, force them to serve time in jail, and then demand they disclose their sources.”

More highlights from the book:

The Guardian: John Bolton’s bombshell Trump book: eight of its most stunning claims.

The New York Times: Five Takeaways From John Bolton’s Memoir.

Book Reviews

Jennifer Szalai at The New York Times: In ‘The Room Where It Happened,’ John Bolton Dumps His Notes and Smites His Enemies.

David Ignatius at The Washington Post: John Bolton’s book is full of startling revelations he should have told us sooner.

More Reactions

A powerful commentary by Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast: John Bolton Shows That All the President’s Men Are Cowards.

The book is 592 pages, and it’s already #1 on Amazon even before it’s out next week. Trump sued to block publication, with Bill Barr inevitably doing his hopeless dirty work there. He will lose. The book will be published. And the news is already here.

Americans will read or at least hear about how Trump has given the law the finger virtually every day of his presidency, didn’t know that England is a nuclear power, thought invading Venezuela would be “cool” and that Finland was part of Russia. And that Trump was, in Mike Pompeo’s eyes, “so full of shit.” And it’s great that we’re learning this now, five months before the American people render their verdict on this fraud.

On the other hand… why are we just learning this now?

Because John Bolton didn’t have the guts to stand up and say these things when it might have mattered more. Or maybe it was less a matter of guts than cash. His agent and publisher surely leaned on him to save it for the book, and well, it’s #1, so in that sense they were right, but what is that sense, exactly?

It’s the sense in which, in a contest between market and polity, the race isn’t even close. The market will win that race every time in today’s America. The president of the United States has been destroying this country, eroding its decent values every single day of his presidency, until matters have finally reached the point that, through his malevolence and stupidity and lack of empathy, he is actually and literally responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans.

Bolton had a chance to speak up before all those people died from Trump’s selfish incompetence. Of course he couldn’t have known that was coming. But with Trump, something bad was coming. It was inevitable. Maybe with a different roll of the dice, war with Iran. The man is a lunatic, completely in over his head in this job, mentally unstable, and an instrument of national grief just waiting to happen every day. It’s been obvious to everyone for years.

Bill Kristol at The Bulwark: John Bolton Tells the Truth.

I’m not particularly surprised by John Bolton’s revelations. (I should make clear that neither of the individuals described above was Bolton.)

But whether or not one is surprised by what Bolton reports, no one should really doubt the truth of it. I have no doubt that Bolton is telling the truth. Not simply because of my two, as it were, generally corroborating sources. But because I’ve known John Bolton a long time, and John Bolton is an honest man. He tells the truth.

Full stop.

John Bolton is neither a liar nor a fantasist. John Bolton may not be the epitome of warmth, humor, or even kindness. But he is honest.

Nor is he the type to get confused. He is a meticulous note-taker. When we read Bolton’s book, we will almost certainly be reading the nearest thing to the truth about the Trump administration that we’re likely to get before historians have a chance to get inside the administration’s archives.

Here is what is relevant for Republican elites going forward: They have known John Bolton for a long time, too. Almost every Republican elected official, every influential Washington conservative, and many Republican donors know John Bolton. And they, too, know he’s honest.

So what do they have to say about a president who blesses Chinese concentration camps, pleads for re-election help from an enemy dictator, and routinely subordinates the national interest to personal and political considerations?

How can they continue to support this president?

I’m sure they will find ways. But those who continue to support Trump need to accept that they’re supporting a man who has done what Bolton says Trump has done. And those who support a Trump second term need to accept that they are supporting four more years in office for a president who has done what Bolton says Trump has done.

And those who continue to keep silent are keeping silent from us, their fellow citizens, their judgment of a president who has done what Bolton says Trump has done.

Enough. Bolton has spoken. Surely there are others who will now dare to disturb the sound of silence.

We’ll have to wait and see if Bolton’s revelations will hurt Trump in the run-up to the election. What do you think? What other stories are on your radar today?


Tuesday Reads: Coronavirus Deaths Mount as Evidence of Trump’s Pandemic Cover-up Emerges

Good Morning!!

U.S. deaths from Covid-19 in the past few months will soon surpass our casualties from the Vietnam war. Now Trump has upped his prediction of the total death toll to 70,000.

Real Clear Politics: Reporter to Trump: If A President Loses More Americans To Coronavirus Than Vietnam War, Do They Deserve To Be Reelected?

QUESTION: If an American president loses more Americans over the course of six weeks than died in the entirety of the Vietnam war does he deserve to be reelected?

TRUMP: So, yeah, we have lost a lot of people but if you look at what original projections were 2.2 million we are probably heading to 60,000, 70,000–it’s far too many. One person is too many for this and I think we made a lot of really good decisions. The big decision was closing the border or doing the band people coming in from China obviously other than American citizens which had to come in, can’t say you can’t come in, you can’t come back to your country. I think we have made a lot of good decisions. I think that Mike Pence and the task force have done a fantastic job. I think that everybody working on the ventilators you see what we have done there, have done unbelievable. The press doesn’t talk about ventilators anymore. They just don’t want to talk about them and that’s okay but they reason they don’t want to talk–that was the subject that nobody would get off of. They don’t want to talk about them.

We are in the same position on testing. We are lapping the world on testing and the world is coming to us as I said they are coming to us saying what are you doing, how do you do it and we are helping them. So, no, I think we have done a great job and one person I will say this, one person is too many. Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you.

As you can see, Trump didn’t answer the question, but he did increase his prediction for total deaths. Of course we’ll probably pass 70,000 in a couple more weeks, and then he’ll make excuses for that.

Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast: America Is About to Blow Past the 60,000 Coronavirus Deaths Trump Said Would Be a Win.

As for where we may be headed, Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert who’s been warning about pandemics for more than a decade, told CNN’s Peter Bergen that he thinks the ultimate tally in the United States over the next 18 months or so will be around 800,000. You’re thinking, “Ah, no way”? Go read his reasoning and see what you think then.

Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office released a report last week making a few predictions on the economy. CBO sees a real GDP of -39.6 percent in the second quarter of this year (April, May, and June). Then it forecasts a good rebound, 23.5 percent in Q3 and 10.5 percent in Q4, but that still leaves us at -5.6 percent for the year. At the worst of the Great Recession, in 2009, it was -2.5 percent. Unemployment will be above 15 percent into the fall and above 10 percent all of this year—and next.

We’re in deep trouble, and the idiot President of the United States is telling people to drink Lysol, and idiot politicians like Brian Kemp and other governors are trying to make sure that Osterholm becomes a prophet, and idiot protesters are out there acting like common-sense public safety is a conspiracy against liberty, and idiot reactionaries like the Dorr brothers of Iowa are financing these protests because, well, you know, the libs suck. These Dorrs have launched Facebook pages in at least five states that abcnews.com calls a “hotbed of misinformation.”

It’s idiocy top to bottom, but it’s more than that, and it’s important that we understand this and never lose sight of this. It’s ideology.

Tomasky writes that Trump’s non-stop lying is not an anomaly among Republicans.

With a few laudable exceptions, Republicans lie about virtually everything. They have to—to advance their goals, which are both insanely unpopular (more tax cuts for rich people!) and completely fantastical (those tax cuts will lift all boats), they have to try to create a reality that is the opposite of real reality and then spend billions getting people to believe it.

They’ve been doing it for decades. That’s why Trump isn’t some accident. It was inevitable that eventually they’d nominate and fawn over someone who lies every time he opens his mouth.

Trump, though, it’s gotten to a scale I never thought we’d see in the United States. Trumpism is an ideology in which the only thing that matters, the only thing that is true, is what the leader believes and says at any given moment. Which is surreal, of course, because virtually everything he says is untrue. But objective truth is a lib trap. And the vast majority of Republicans endorse this.

Read more at the The Daily Beast.

More stories are coming out about Trump ignoring or covering up the seriousness of the building pandemic.

The Washington Post: President’s intelligence briefing book repeatedly cited virus threat.

U.S. intelligence agencies issued warnings about the novel coronavirus in more than a dozen classified briefings prepared for President Trump in January and February, months during which he continued to play down the threat, according to current and former U.S. officials.

The repeated warnings were conveyed in issues of the President’s Daily Brief, a sensitive report that is produced before dawn each day and designed to call the president’s attention to the most significant global developments and security threats.

For weeks, the PDB — as the report is known — traced the virus’s spread around the globe, made clear that China was suppressing information about the contagion’s transmissibility and lethal toll, and raised the prospect of dire political and economic consequences.

But the alarms appear to have failed to register with the president, who routinely skips reading the PDB and has at times shown little patience for even the oral summary he takes two or three times per week, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified material.

The advisories being relayed by U.S. spy agencies were part of a broader collection of worrisome signals that came during a period now regarded by many public health officials and other experts as a squandered opportunity to contain the outbreak.

Ryan Goodman and How Trump and His Team Covered Up the Coronavirus in Five Days.

…Over the last five days of February, President Trump and senior officials….engaged in a cover-up.

A look at this window of time gives insight into how several members of the president’s team were willing to manipulate Americans even when so many lives were at stake.

The recent reports that the president wanted to fire the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s top expert on viral respiratory diseases, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, during this period helps put the pieces of the puzzle together….

In a conference call with reporters on the final Tuesday of the month, Dr. Messonnier spoke frankly. “We want to make sure the American public is prepared,” she said, then put it in personal terms by saying what she told her children that morning: “We as a family ought to be preparing for significant disruption to our lives.”

At the time, senior officials knew the coronavirus was an extreme threat to Americans. Thanks to information streaming in from U.S. intelligence agencies for months, officials reportedly believed that a “cataclysmic” disease could infect 100 million Americans and discussed lockdown plans. The warnings were given to Mr. Trump in his daily brief by the intelligence community; in calls from Alex Azar, the secretary of health; and in memos from his economic adviser Peter Navarro.

The same day that Dr. Messonnier spoke, the military’s National Center for Medical Intelligence raised the warning level inside the government to WATCHCON1, concluding that the coronavirus was imminently likely to develop into a full-blown pandemic.

But the White House did not want the American public to know.

Read the rest at the NYT.

Trump has dominated his so-called “coronavirus briefings” and given experts minimal time to speak. Now he is reportedly planning to silence them even further, according Eric Lutz at Vanity Fair: Trump In Talks to Sideline Fauci, Birx During Coronavirus Briefings.

With the coronavirus crisis still spinning out of control in the United States, Donald Trump appears to be training the White House’s focus away from public health and toward reigniting the economy. According to Axios, Trump is expected to sideline public health officials Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, shifting attention to business “success stories” and to governors and local leaders who heed the president’s calls to reopen their states. “[Fauci and Birx] will continue,” a White House official told the outlet, “but will take a back seat to the forward-looking, ‘what’s next’ message.”

Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany acknowledged Monday on Fox News that briefings later this week “may have a different look,” though declined to outline specific changes. Fauci and other public health experts have cautioned against attempting a premature return to normal, warning that social distancing guidelines cannot safely be lifted without increased testing that the Trump administration has so far failed to adequately provide. “You don’t make the timeline,” Fauci said late last month, as Trump first began floating plans to reopen the country. “The virus makes the timeline.” But the president, concerned the plunging economy and escalating unemployment due to the pandemic could stand in the way of his reelection, has insisted that the government has provided states with sufficient resources to combat the deadly virus and openly grown impatient with the social distancing measures that have only just begun to show promise in slowing its spread. “Remember,” Trump tweeted Saturday, “the Cure can’t be worse than the problem itself.”

Having wasted months downplaying the COVID threat, he has desperately grasped for a miracle cure that could make the problem go away without him needing to do any real work—first by promoting the unproven off-label use of an anti-malarial to treat the disease, then by ludicrously suggesting toxic cleaning products and/or “very powerful” light could be injected into the human body as a possible cure. Those bizarre remarks drew widespread mockery, condemnation, and disbelief, as well as warnings from supporters that his rambling performances at the daily coronavirus briefings are hurting him politically. “It’s not helping him,” one adviser said recently.

Evidence is also emerging that deaths from the coronavirus may be far more than the official totals.

The Washington Post: U.S. deaths soared in early weeks of pandemic, far exceeding number attributed to covid-19.

In the early weeks of the coronavirus epidemic, the United States recorded an estimated 15,400 excess deaths, nearly two times as many as were publicly attributed to covid-19 at the time, according to an analysis of federal data conducted for The Washington Post by a research team led by the Yale School of Public Health.

The excess deaths — the number beyond what would normally be expected for that time of year — occurred during March and through April 4, a time when 8,128 coronavirus deaths were reported.

The excess deaths are not necessarily attributable directly to covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. They could include people who died because of the epidemic but not from the disease, such as those who were afraid to seek medical treatment for unrelated illnesses, as well as some number of deaths that are part of the ordinary variation in the death rate. The count is also affected by increases or decreases in other categories of deaths, such as suicides, homicides and motor vehicle accidents.

But in any pandemic, higher-than-normal mortality is a starting point for scientists seeking to understand the full impact of the disease.

The Yale analysis for the first time estimates excess deaths, both nationally and in each state, in those five weeks. Relying on data that the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) released Friday, the analysis paints a picture of unusually high mortality that will come into sharper view as more data becomes available.

Keep on staying home as much as possible and take care of yourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We will get through this together Sky Dancers!