Posted: October 10, 2020 Filed under: just because | Tags: 2020 presidential election, Amy Coney Barrett, caturday, coronavirus, Donald Trump, superspreader events
Photo by Cecil Beaton, 1930s
The election is just 23 days away, and Trump is desperate. It’s difficult for Democrats traumatized by the 2016 horror to trust the polls, but things really are looking bad for the Covid-weakened orange lunatic.
Sahil Kapur at NBC News: ‘The president is likely toast’: Trump’s woes raise GOP fears of a blue wave.
A series of setbacks for President Donald Trump has left some Republican operatives and donors fearing that the race for the White House is slipping away and proposing that the party shift focus to protecting seats in Congress.
Vulnerable GOP candidates are currently tethered to an unpopular president, fighting for survival against a potential blue wave after Trump’s widely panned performance in the first debate, his coronavirus diagnosis and his erratic behavior on economic stimulus talks.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s lead over Trump has topped 10 points in the NBC News national polling average. Across the country, Trump is hemorrhaging support among seniors and faces widespread defections among white college graduates, particularly women.
“The president has had possibly the worst two-week stretch that a candidate could have going into the final month of an election,” Ken Spain, a Republican strategist, said.
Sailor on board the HMAS Melbourne holding two ship’s cats, 1917I
Spain, who worked for the party’s House election arm during Barack Obama’s blowout 7 percentage point first presidential victory, said he sees “echoes of 2008” in the current landscape, with growing chances of a tsunami that drowns congressional Republican candidates.
“In 2016, the president was a buoy. In 2020, he’s more of an anchor. There’s no question there are going to be losses down the ballot,” he said. “Six months ago, Republicans were hoping that we would be talking about Senate races in Colorado, Arizona and Maine. Instead, there’s concern about the potential outcomes in states like South Carolina, Georgia and Kansas.”
Politico: Republicans are finally ready to diss Don.
For Republicans, fearful of a possible electoral disaster just weeks away, it has become safe at last to diss Donald Trump — or at least to distance themselves from him in unmistakably purposeful ways.
A barrage of barbed comments in recent days shows how markedly the calculus of fear has shifted in the GOP. For much of the past four years, Republican politicians were scared above all about incurring the wrath of the president and his supporters with any stray gesture or remark that he might regard as not sufficiently deferential. Now, several of them are evidently more scared of not being viewed by voters as sufficiently independent.
* Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas acknowledging in a Friday interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that he’s “worried” about the election, which he warned could be a “bloodbath of Watergate proportions” for his party, depending on how voters view the pandemic and economy on Election Day.
* Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell telling reporters Thursday he has not been to the White House in more than two months, since Aug. 6, because he doesn’t have confidence that Trump and his team are practicing good coronavirus hygiene. McConnell said, “my impression was their approach to how to handle this was different than mine and what I insisted that we do in the Senate, which is to wear a mask and practice social distancing.”
* Sen. Thom Tillis, in a perilous fight for reelection in North Carolina, telling POLITICO in an interview that one reason to vote for him is to help Republicans keep their Senate majority as “the best check on a Biden presidency.”
* Sen. Martha McSally, running behind in her bid to keep her Arizona seat, refusing to say at a debate with challenger Mark Kelly — despite being pressed repeatedly by the moderator — whether she is proud of being a backer of Trump. “Well, I’m proud that I’m fighting for Arizonans on things like cutting your taxes … ” she filibustered.
* Sen. John Cornyn, still ahead in polls but facing a tougher-than-usual race in Texas, told the Houston Chronicle that Trump did not practice “self-discipline” in combating the coronavirus, and that his efforts to signal prematurely that the pandemic is receding are creating “confusion” with the public. Trump got “out over his skis,” Cornyn said.
Meanwhile, Trump will resume his superspreader events today, even though we have no way of knowing whether Trump is still contagious, because the White House will not provide results of any recent tests or the date of his last negative test before contracting the coronavirus.
Bijin with a Kitten 1907
The Washington Post: Trump will speak at a public event at the White House; it is not clear if he’s still contagious with coronavirus.
The afternoon event — scheduled to feature Trump speaking from a balcony to a crowd of supporters on the South Lawn — has already caused concern among some officials in the White House, which has been rocked by an outbreak of the deadly disease, according to administration officials who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal plans.
But Trump has brushed aside his advisers’ calls for caution, instead embracing a political strategy built on playing down the virus and using his own battle with it to argue that the nation has already overcome the pandemic.
“People are going to get immediately better like I did. I mean, I feel better now than I did two weeks ago. It’s crazy,” Trump told Rush Limbaugh on his talk radio show Friday, a day when more than 850 Americans died of the coronavirus. “And I recovered immediately, almost immediately. I might not have recovered at all from covid.”
Speaking from the balcony like Mussolini again–brilliant.
Trump’s campaign announced that he would lead a rally in Florida on Monday at an airport hangar, similar to the events he had been doing before his diagnosis. There was no indication that extra safety precautions would be in place or that social distancing would be encouraged.
“All attendees will be given a temperature check, masks which they are encouraged to wear and access to hand sanitizer,” the campaign said, using language similar to previous announcements before events where few attendees wore masks.
Woman holding cat, 1940s
And, get this: the rally will be in Sanford, FL! Will George Zimmerman be invited?
Results are still coming in from Trump’s previous superspreader events.
Politico: Nine coronavirus cases tied to Trump Minnesota rally.
Nine people who have contracted the coronavirus reported attending a Donald Trump rally in Bemidji, Minn., last month, state health officials said Friday, including two who were hospitalized.
One of them remains in an intensive care unit.
Doug Schultz, a Minnesota Department of Health spokesman, said in an email that the department cannot say definitively that the infections were acquired at the rally, due to widespread community transmission of the disease — “only that they attended the rally during the time when they were likely to have been exposed to the virus that made them ill (i.e. 14 days prior to illness onset).”
At least one person was likely infectious while at the rally, the department said.
Two other people who contracted the virus reported attending a protest in response to the rally.
The Washington Post: Two students and a teacher at school attended by Barrett children test positive for coronavirus.
Seaman with a cat and kitten, c 1910, Australian Maritime Museum
A private school in South Bend, Ind., attended by some children of President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, notified parents late Thursday that two students and a teacher had tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The emails from the Trinity School principal came less than two weeks after the Barrett family was honored at a White House event attended by several people who subsequently tested positive for the virus, including President Trump. The principal’s announcement alarmed some school families, though there is no evidence linking the school infections to the White House event.
Two of Barrett’s children are of high school age.
At USA Today, two experts speculate about what could be happening with Trump’s health: Trump’s COVID prognosis: 3 scenarios based on sparse facts from an opaque White House, by Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel and Dr. Vin Gupta
At a minimum, there will be 3.5 months between when President Donald Trump first contracted coronavirus and when a president will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021. While this seems a brief time, the world is a dangerous place. President Trump’s health matters.
What can the American public anticipate regarding his expected clinical course over this time period? The answer to this question is absolutely vital, since many survivors of severe COVID-19 pneumonia (which the president had) have experienced setbacks, hospital readmissions and prolonged intensive care stays requiring months of rehabilitation.
An English Woman and her cat
►Scenario One: Trump rapidly recovers from his pneumonia with no residual effects in approximately two weeks’ time from the onset of his symptoms (Oct. 1). This is the best case outcome for him, his inner circle and the country’s national security. The shortage of information makes the likelihood of this scenario ultimately unknown, although Trump planned to resume public events as early as Saturday. He is unique in receiving the Regeneron cocktail almost immediately after diagnosis in combination with Dexamethasone and Remdesivir.
►Scenario Two: Trump is readmitted to Walter Reed for recurrent shortness of breath and low oxygen levels, an outcome that would amount to a guilty verdict that the president’s physicians were uniquely cavalier in permitting discharge when virtually every other expert argued otherwise.
What’s clear about COVID-19 is that its course is unpredictable across demographics and even within the same age or ethnic category. Yet, there’s consensus that those older than 65 years of age, particularly those like the president who are technically obese, are hospitalized and ultimately die at far higher rates than the rest of the population. Of these victims, many have variable courses. Some initially improve, as in the case of the president, only to decline again 7-10 days after symptom onset, often with severe manifestations requiring ICU-level care.
Stopping short of speculating on probabilities for this scenario, the data is clear: More than 90% of individuals who end up hospitalized with COVID-19 have at least one cardiovascular risk factor like obesity and are primarily elderly (65 or older).The president meets both criteria. Therefore, a friendly pre-recorded TV interview aside, vigilance is demanded, particularly as the president continues to be symptomatic as evidenced by his coughing on the phone Thursday night with Fox’s Sean Hannity.
►Scenario Three: Trump recovers from the acute episode but goes on to develop chronic symptoms. This is the vaguest of possibilities but physicians are seeing a growing number of “long-haulers” — individuals who’ve survived severe COVID-19 pneumonia after a hospitalization, but months after their initial recovery, they have not regained full functionality and their normal activity level. In addition to fatigue and shortness of breath, many experience some mental fog or slowness. Only time will tell if this outcome is the president’s fate, but as we learn more about COVID-19’s impacts on the human body, it is one to keep closely in mind.
More stories to check out, links only:
CNN: Biden enters final weeks in commanding position as Trump wastes precious days.
The New York Times: Trump Engineered a Sudden Windfall in 2016 as Campaign Funds Dwindled.
Olivia Nuzzi at New York Magazine: The Entire Trump Presidency is a Superspreading Event.
The Daily Beast: Sixteen ‘Boogaloo’ Followers Have Been Busted in 7 Days.
NBC News: Regeneron board member and executive sell $1 million in stock after Trump touts treatment.
USA Today: Live updates: Delta weakens to tropical storm; 780K without power as heavy rains, winds continue to pound Louisiana.
NBC News: North Korea holds military parade with missiles.
New York Daily News: Trump, Pompeo hope to release Hillary Clinton emails the president has been ranting about for years.
Have a nice Indigenous People’s Day weekend and please drop by Sky Dancing blog if you have the time and inclination. We love to hear from you!
Posted: July 11, 2020 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Angela Merkel, Baroque Bohemian Tarot Deck, caturday, cognitive test, coronavirus pandemic, Covid-19, Donald Trump, fascist dictatorship, Gov. Greg Abbot, Joe Biden, Montreal Cognitive Assessment, New Hampshire hate rally, Roger Stone, Ronnie Jackson, Sarah Cooper, Texas
NOTE: Today’s illustrations are from the Baroque Bohemian Cats Tarot Deck.
Have you heard the news?
Trump “aced” a cognitive “test” that is typically given to people who may have dementia or other cognitive deficits. He is very proud of his performance and claims the doctors couldn’t believe how well he did.
Maggie Haberman at The New York Times: Trump Says He ‘Aced’ Cognitive Test, but White House Won’t Release Details.
President Trump on Thursday volunteered to Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, that he “very recently” took a test at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center measuring his mental acuity and “aced” it, but the White House would not say when he took it or why.
Mr. Trump boasted that his success on the test surprised his doctors as he continued his attempt to make a campaign issue of whether his presumptive Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., was mentally fit.
“I actually took one when I — very recently, when I — when I was — the radical left were saying, is he all there? Is he all there? And I proved I was all there, because I got — I aced it. I aced the test,” Mr. Trump, 74, said in his interview with Mr. Hannity.
He went on to say that Mr. Biden should also take the test.
“And he should take the same exact test, a very standard test. I took it at Walter Reed Medical Center in front of doctors,” Mr. Trump said. “And they were very surprised. They said, that’s an unbelievable thing. Rarely does anybody do what you just did. But he should take that same test.”
Mr. Trump described taking the test after Mr. Hannity mentioned that Mr. Biden had said he had taken several cognitive tests. The president insisted that Mr. Biden must have meant tests he took for the coronavirus and that his rival “couldn’t pass” a cognitive test.
What kind of “test” did Trump take? Mediaite: What’s on the Cognitive Test That Trump Brags He ‘Aced?’ Drawing a Cube, Correctly Identifying a Camel, and More!
[T]he Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MOCA), the test that Trump first took as president in 2018 according to then-White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson.
At a now-infamous press conference, Dr. Jackson told reporters that Trump had scored a “30 over 30” on the MOCA, and that the test was not “clinically indicated,” but Trump insisted on taking it.
The test is used to screen for mild cognitive issues, and consists of 8 sections with a total of 12 tasks, successful completion of which are awarded points. Those tasks are:
— Connecting lettered and numbered dots in order– Drawing a cube
— Drawing a clock (These tasks are worth up to five points)
— Correctly identifying pictures of a lion, a rhinoceros, and a camel (up to 3 points)
— Recalling a list of five words (no points)
— Reading a list of numbers (2 points)
— Reading a list of letters (1 point)
— Counting backwards from 100 by sevens (3 points)
— Repeating the phrases “I only know that John is the one to help today” and “The cat always
hid under the couch when dogs were in the room. (2 points)
— Explaining the similarities between objects like “train – bicycle” and “watch – ruler”
— Recalling the five words from earlier in the test, in any order (5 points)
— Knowing where you are, and what the date, time, and day of the week are. (6 points!)
According to Dr. Jackson, Trump is the first president to take the MOCA test, which means there’s no way of knowing whether President Barack Obama could play connect-the-dots or recognize a camel. But according to Trump, he’s done it at least twice now.
One more bit of humiliating news for Trump from NBC News:
Concern over turnout was factor in postponing Trump rally, GOP advisers say.
Well before the call was made to postpone President Donald Trump’s Saturday re-election rally in New Hampshire, the warning lights were flashing red.
There were no signs of the typical throngs of supporters camped out days in advance for a good spot; the Republican governor said he would skip it, advising anyone at high risk to stay home over coronavirus concerns; fears of a repeat of Tulsa’s disappointing turnout weighed heavily; and then came the stormy weather reports, which could have further stifled attendance.
By the time the campaign announced that the Portsmouth event was off, citing “safety concerns” over a tropical storm barreling toward the Northeast on Friday afternoon, people close to the campaign said fears over low turnout also motivated the decision to scrap the event.
The coastal town is not currently expected to be hit directly by the storm, but the decision to reschedule over bad weather is a “convenient excuse” for the Trump 2020 team, one outside adviser told NBC News.
Unfortunately there actually is some serious news and comment to check out today.
The Washington Post Editorial Board: Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s sentence is an unforgivable betrayal of his office.
THERE ARE no doubt thousands of people in federal prison who deserved a presidential commutation more than Roger Stone. But after President Trump’s intervention on Friday, Mr. Stone will serve none of his prison sentence. The president may have had the power to help his longtime friend. But that does not make it any less a perversion of justice — indeed, it is one of the most nauseating instances of corrupt government favoritism the United States has ever seen.
There is no doubt about Mr. Stone’s guilt. During the 2016 presidential campaign, he tried to play intermediary between WikiLeaks, which had become a front for the Kremlin, and the Trump campaign, which reaped the benefits of WikiLeaks’s publication of stolen Democratic emails. A jury concluded that Mr. Stone obstructed Congress, lied to investigators and tampered with a witness in the investigations that followed the 2016 race — “covering up for the president,” as the judge in his case noted.
Though Attorney General William P. Barr moved to reduce Mr. Stone’s sentencing recommendation after conviction, even he called the case against Mr. Stone a “righteous” prosecution. He was sentenced to 40 months in prison and was due to surrender on Tuesday — thus prompting Mr. Trump’s Friday night action.
As Mr. Trump discussed granting clemency to his criminal friend, Mr. Barr publicly defended the sentence, perhaps to prevent a mutiny among Justice Department staff who signed up because they believe in the rule of law, not the arbitrary rule of an unusually petty man in the White House.
Now, the department’s career investigators and prosecutors must absorb yet another insult to their profession from political leaders who abuse their trust. We can only sympathize with their impossible position.
The Washington Post: Coronavirus update: U.S. death toll rises as new infections reach record levels.
The daily coronavirus death toll in the United States increased this week after months of decline, as new infections soared to record levels and hospitals in the South and West faced a crush of patients.
More than 4,200 deaths were reported nationally in the past seven days, and experts warn that the trend could continue to get worse. Texas, Arizona and South Carolina have all seen their death toll rise by more than 100 percent in the past four weeks. Four more states — Mississippi, Tennessee, California and Louisiana — have seen at least a 20 percent jump in that time span.
Here are some significant developments:
The United States reported its largest single-day caseload increase — more than 67,000 new infections — on Friday.
More than 131,000 people have died of coronavirus in the United States since the pandemic began, and at more than 3.1 million confirmed cases have been reported.
Republican governors who have opposed or even blocked orders mandating mask-wearing are watching from the sidelines as local officials impose strict measures to contain the spread.
More details at the link.
In Texas, Gov. Abbot is finally coming around to taking the virus seriously, not that it’s too late. The Texas Tribune: Gov. Greg Abbott warns if spread of COVID-19 doesn’t slow, “the next step would have to be a lockdown”
With Texas continuing to break records for new coronavirus deaths and hospitalizations this week, Gov. Greg Abbott reiterated Friday afternoon that things will continue to get worse. And if people keep flouting his new statewide mask mandate, he said, the next step could be another economic lockdown.
“Things will get worse, and let me explain why,” he told KLBK TV in Lubbock. “The deaths that we’re seeing announced today and yesterday — which are now over 100 — those are people who likely contracted COVID-19 in late May.
“The worst is yet to come as we work our way through that massive increase in people testing positive.”
Texans will also likely see an increase in cases next week, Abbott said, and people abiding by his face mask requirement might be the only thing standing between businesses remaining open and another shutdown.
“The public needs to understand this was a very tough decision for me to make,” Abbott told KLBK of his face mask mandate. “I made clear that I made this tough decision for one reason: It was our last best effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. If we do not slow the spread of COVID-19 … the next step would have to be a lockdown.”
Trump won’t like what Angela Merkel had to say about the pandemic. CNN: ‘You cannot fight the pandemic with lies’ — Angela Merkel knows how to insert a dagger.
Angela Merkel may not scream down the phone at President Donald Trump — but she knows how to insert a dagger.
Trump, as well as Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, must have felt his ears burning when the German Chancellor demolished their approaches to the coronavirus in a speech Thursday. “As we are experiencing firsthand, you cannot fight the pandemic with lies and disinformation any more than you can fight it with hate or incitement to hatred,” Merkel said. “The limits of populism and denial of basic truths are being laid bare.”
Merkel and Trump were destined to clash. A former scientist, she is cool, cautious, self-contained, fact-oriented and quiet despite her toughness. Trump is … none of those things. Late in 2016, the outgoing US President, who Merkel sometimes referred to as “Liebe (dear) Barack,” flew to Berlin on a mission — to convince her to run for another term. Once Trump was in the Oval Office, Obama reasoned, Merkel would need to lead the liberal international order.
One more from investigative journalist and novelist Jonathan Greenberg at The Washington Post: Twelve signs Trump would try to run a fascist dictatorship in a second term.
I first reported on Trump in 1982, when he conned me into putting him on the Forbes 400 rich list. That Trump was just a younger version of this Trump, and now I worry that what happened in June was a mere prelude; he’s certainly capable of a far worse Reichstag-fire-like event that would allow him to steal the 2020 election. And if he does win a second term, legitimately or not, his words and actions of the past four years provide 12 indicators that he would seek to replace our democracy with a fascist dictatorship.
Here are the twelve signs–head over to the WaPo to read more details.
1. Trump uses military power and federal law enforcement to suppress peaceful political protest.
2. Trump persistently lies about voter fraud, setting the stage for him to use emergency powers to seize control of the election or challenge the results if he loses.
3. Trump has repeatedly suggested that he might remain in office after a second term and has offered reason to doubt he’d leave peacefully after this first term.
4. Trump appears to believe he has the power to outlaw speech critical of him, and he calls the free press “the enemy of the people.”
5. With Fox News promoting Trump’s lies as truth, the president controls one of the most powerful propaganda machines ever created.
6. Trump believes that he has the power to do what he wants, regardless of Congress or the courts.
7. Trump acts as if he owns our government and can fire any official who defends the law.
8. Trump uses federal prosecutorial powers to investigate his opponents and anyone who dares scrutinize him or his allies for the many crimes they may have committed.
9. Trump viciously attacks his critics and has publicly implied that the Ukraine whistleblower should be hanged for treason.
10. Trump has messianic delusions that are supported with religious fervor by millions of his supporters.
11. Trump subscribes to a doctrine of genetic superiority and incites racial hatred to scapegoat immigrants and gain power.
12. Trump finds common ground with the world’s most ruthless dictators while denigrating America’s democratic allies.
Have a great weekend, Sky Dancers! What stories have you been following?
Posted: June 13, 2020 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Abraham Lincoln, caturday, Civil Rights, Civil War, Donald Trump, Fox News, Harris Faulkner, John F. Kennedy, Racism
On Thursday, June 11, Lawrence O’Donnell discussed the speech on Civil Rights that President John F. Kennedy gave from the Oval Office on that day in 1963. The purpose of the speech was to propose the Civil Rights bill that passed after Kennedy’s assassination. Fifty-seven years later, we’ve made some progress, but systemic racism still runs rampant in this country. I thought I’d share some excerpts from that long-ago speech today.
NPR: John F. Kennedy’s Address on Civil Rights.
On June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy addressed the nation on the most pressing domestic issue of the day: the struggle to affirm civil rights for all Americans. His administration had sent National Guard troops to accompany the first black students admitted to the University of Mississippi and University of Alabama.
Excerpts selected by NPR:
…It ought to be possible… for American students of any color to attend any public institution they select without having to be backed up by troops.
…It ought to be possible for American consumers of any color to receive equal service in places of public accommodation, such as hotels and restaurants and theaters and retail stores, without being forced to resort to demonstrations in the street, and it ought to be possible for American citizens of any color to register and to vote in a free election without interference or fear of reprisal.
Painting by Ekaterina Mateckaya
It ought to be possible, in short, for every American to enjoy the privileges of being American without regard to his race or his color. In short, every American ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated. But this is not the case….
…This is not a sectional issue…Nor is this a partisan issue…This is not even a legal or legislative issue alone. It is better to settle these matters in the courts than on the streets, and new laws are needed at every level, but law alone cannot make men see right.
We are confronted primarily with a moral issue. It is as old as the scriptures and is as clear as the American Constitution.
The heart of the question is — whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities. Whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated. If an American, because his skin is dark, cannot eat lunch in a restaurant open to the public, if he cannot send his children to the best public school available, if he cannot vote for the public officials who represent him, if, in short, he cannot enjoy the full and free life which all of us want, then who among us would be content to have the color of his skin changed and stand in his place? Who among us would then be content with the counsels of patience and delay?
One hundred years of delay have passed since President Lincoln freed the slaves, yet their heirs, their grandsons, are not fully free….
…It is not enough to pin the blame on others, to say this is a problem of one section of the country or another, or deplore the fact that we face. A great change is at hand, and our task, our obligation, is to make that revolution, that change, peaceful and constructive for all.
Those who do nothing are inviting shame as well as violence. Those who act boldly are recognizing right as well as reality…
You can watch the entire speech at C-Span. I watched it yesterday and it made me so sad. The comparison between Kennedy and the current occupant of the White House so so glaring. Not only was Kennedy capable of compassion and empathy, but he also spoke eloquently, in complete sentences and paragraphs. Today we have a fraudulent “president” who babbles nonsense, effortlessly lies about everything and has no idea how to do the job he holds even if he actually wanted to be a leader.
Cat in the window, by Joanna DeRitis
Speaking of Trump’s incoherent babbling, on Thursday he gave another strange Fox News interview with Harris Faulkner (who is black). For Fox, the questions were pretty tough. You can read the transcript and watch video excerpts at Factbase.
The most stunning moment in the interview was when Trump claimed to have done more for black Americans than any previous president, including Abraham Lincoln. Business Insider: Trump says Abraham Lincoln ‘did good’ for the Black community but that ‘the end result’ is ‘questionable.’
“So I think I’ve done more for the Black community than any other president, and let’s take a pass on Abraham Lincoln because he did good, although it’s always questionable, you know, in other words, the end result —” Trump said before Faulkner interjected.
“Well, we are free, Mr. President, so I think he did pretty well,” she said, referring to Lincoln.
“We are free,” Trump said. “You understand what I mean.”
“Yeah, I get it,” Faulkner said.
This isn’t the first time Trump has claimed he’s done more for the Black community than his predecessors.
“This may well be the president’s most audacious claim ever,” Michael Fauntroy, a professor of political science at Howard University, told The New York Times earlier this month. “Not only has he not done more than anybody else, he’s done close to the least.”
Of course it’s not really clear what Trump was trying to say, because his speech is so incoherent. At Slate, Jeremy Stahl tries to make sense of Trump’s words: What Was Trump Trying to Say About Abraham Lincoln?
A lot of people saw the transcript of those words—and perhaps watched the clip—and interpreted Trump as having said that “the end result” of Lincoln’s presidency—i.e., winning the Civil War, preserving the union, and ending the atrocity of chattel slavery—was “always questionable.” [….]
By Utagawa Hiroshige
I would never definitively state that I believed Trump didn’t mean the most racist possible interpretation of one of his often hard-to-grasp word salads. Indeed, he has in the past questioned the fact that the Civil War needed to occur, stating in 2017 that had Andrew Jackson been president at the time he would have stopped the Civil War from happening because he would have realized “there’s no reason for this.”
“The Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask the question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?” Trump said back then.
As my former colleague, Jamelle Bouie, wrote at the time, that statement—apparently that Jackson could have come up with a perfect “deal” to prevent the Civil War—was as dangerous as it was ahistorical.
Given that past remark, it’s certainly plausible that Trump’s brain is so rotted from his own racism that he would say that the end results of Lincoln’s presidency were “questionable.” Based on the context of the question, though, and more recent comments from Trump, I think that is unlikely.
I interpret this particular word salad to be an attempt by Trump to validate his recent tweet that his administration “has done more for the Black Community than any President since Abraham Lincoln.”
Trump was likely attempting to say that while “I think I’ve done more for the black community than any other president,” he would ask that in such a ranking “let’s take a pass” on including Lincoln, because it’s an unfair comparison, but—even if he were to go head-to-head with Lincoln for the title of “best president for black people ever”—despite the fact that Lincoln “did good,” it would still be “always questionable” whether Trump was better, because you have to consider “the end result” of each man’s presidency.
Okay . . . I guess that’s as good an interpretation as any.
At Vox, Zach Beauchamp discusses another howler from the interview: Trump: “The concept of chokehold sounds so innocent, so perfect.”
When asked about police use of chokeholds on suspects like George Floyd, who was killed after a Minneapolis officer pinned him by the neck with his knee for nearly nine minutes, Trump initially told Faulkner that “I don’t like chokeholds,” even saying that “generally speaking, they should be ended.” But he contradicted that pretty quickly, saying that when you’ve got someone who is “a real bad person … what are you gonna do now — let go?”
He even went further, saying that “the concept of chokehold sounds so innocent, so perfect,” if a lone police officer is attempting to detain someone.
Deborah DeWitt, Birdwatching
His position, as far as I can tell, seems to be that maybe sometimes individual officers need to use chokeholds, but the more police there are, the less likely it is they’ll need to use one:
TRUMP: I think the concept of chokehold sounds so innocent, so perfect. And then you realize, if it’s a one-on-one. But if it’s two-on-one, that’s a little bit a different story. Depending on the toughness and strength — you know, we’re talking about toughness and strength. There’s a physical thing here too.
FAULKNER: If it’s a one-on-one for the [officer’s] life …
TRUMP: And that does happen, that does happen. You have to be careful.
The most relevant part here isn’t the president’s views on the details of self-defense tactics, but rather the lack of empathy in the way he talks about the issue. The only world in which police using chokeholds could sound “innocent” or “perfect” is a world in which you don’t think about what happens to people when they’re literally being choked — or one where you assume that it won’t happen to people like you.
A recent LA Times investigation found that 103 people were “seriously injured” by police using “carotid neck restraints” in California between 2016 and 2018. Black people, who make up 6.5 percent of the state’s population, were 23 percent of those injured in such holds.
Trump’s thinking seems so deeply shaped by his sense of generalized police innocence, his unwillingness to really process the fact of racial discrimination in police use of force, that he’s capable of saying out loud that chokeholds sound “innocent.”
What all this interpretation really boils down to is that Trump is disastrously incapable of doing the job of POTUS. And yet we’re stuck with him, so writers struggle to figure out what the hell he is talking about.
Stories to check out today
David Smith at The Guardian: ‘He just doesn’t get it’: has Trump been left behind by America’s awakening on racism?
The Washington Post: Trump says he’ll ‘go on and do other things’ if he loses in November.
Julian Borger at The Guardian: ‘Trump thought I was a secretary’: Fiona Hill on the president, Putin and populism.
The New York Times: Trump’s Actions Rattle the Military World: ‘I Can’t Support the Man’
NBC News: From ‘beautiful letters’ to ‘a dark nightmare’: How Trump’s North Korea gamble went bust.
The New York Times: Trump Moves Tulsa Rally Date ‘Out of Respect’ for Juneteenth.
The Daily Beast: Survivors of KKK’s Ax Handle Attack Appalled at Trump Speech.
The Washington Post: Republicans and Trump want a Jacksonville convention party. Some locals are worried about the area’s health.
The Daily Beast: A Black Man Was Found Hanging From a Tree—Residents Don’t Buy That It Was a Suicide.
Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine: Michael Flynn Writes Column Confirming He Is Definitely Insane.
The Atlantic: Coronavirus Researchers Tried to Warn Us. Before the pandemic hit, they struggled to get funding that might have helped us fight COVID-19.
USA Today: Fired Florida scientist builds coronavirus site showing far more cases than state reports.
Posted: May 30, 2020 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: Boogaloo movement, caturday, Covid-19, Donald Trump, George Floyd, Minneapolis, pandemic, police brutality, street cats, unemployment, violent protests, Wu Hongli
The photos in today’s post are by Chinese photographer Wu Hongli, who has photographed street cats across China and several other countries. Read more about him and his project at National Geographic.
This week the U.S. added 1968-style violent protests to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and the growing madness of the monster in the White House who is doing his very best to make both of these crises so much worse.
Michelle Goldberg: America Is a Tinderbox. Scenes from a country in free fall.
The last two and a half months in America have felt like the opening montage in a dystopian film about a nation come undone. First the pandemic hit and hospitals in New York City were overwhelmed. The national economy froze and unemployment soared; one in four American workers has applied for unemployment benefits since March. Lines of cars stretched for miles at food banks. Heavily armed lockdown protesters demonstrated across the country; in Michigan, they forced the Capitol to close and legislators to cancel their session. Nationwide, at least 100,000 people died of a disease almost no one had heard of last year.
Then, this week, a Minneapolis police officer was filmed kneeling on the neck of a black man named George Floyd. As the life went out of him, Floyd pleaded that he couldn’t breathe, echoing the last words of Eric Garner, whose 2014 death at the hands of New York policemen helped catalyze the Black Lives Matter movement. Floyd’s death came only days after three Georgia men were arrested on charges of pursuing and killing a young black man, Ahmaud Arbery, whom they saw out running. A prosecutor had initially declined to charge the men on the grounds that their actions were legal under the state’s self-defense laws.
In Minneapolis protesters poured into the streets, where they met a far harsher police response than anything faced by the country’s gun-toting anti-lockdown activists. On Wednesday night, peaceful demonstrations turned into riots, and on Thursday Minnesota’s governor called in the National Guard.
For a moment, it seemed as if the blithe brutality of Floyd’s death might check the worst impulses of the president and his Blue Lives Matter supporters. The authorities were forced to act: All four of the policemen involved were fired, police chiefs across the country condemned them and William Barr’s Justice Department promised a federal investigation that would be a “top priority.” Even Donald Trump, who has encouraged police brutality in the past, described what happened to Floyd as a “very, very bad thing.”
But Trump can never allow himself to support human beings against authoritarian power.
But on Thursday night, after a county prosecutor said his office was still determining if the four policemen had committed a crime, the uprising in Minneapolis was reignited, and furious people burned a police precinct. (One of the officers was arrested and charged with third-degree murder on Friday.) On Twitter, an addled Trump threatened military violence against those he called “THUGS,” writing, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
Whether Trump knew it or not, he was quoting a racist phrase from the 1960s used by George Wallace, among others. The president later tried to tamp down outrage by saying he was just warning of danger — the Trump campaign has hoped, after all, to peel off some black voters from the Democrats — but his meaning was obvious enough. This is the same president who on Thursday tweeted out a video of a supporter saying, “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.”
The Trump presidency has been marked by shocking spasms of right-wing violence: the white nationalist riot in Charlottesville, Va., the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the mass shooting targeting Latinos in El Paso. But even as the country has simmered and seethed, there hasn’t been widespread disorder. Now, though, we might be at the start of a long, hot summer of civil unrest.
It certainly looks that way.
Julie Pace at the Associated Press: Analysis: Trump fuels new tensions in moment of crisis.
Over 48 hours in America, the official death toll from the coronavirus pandemic topped 100,000, the number of people who filed for unemployment during the crisis soared past 40 million, and the streets of a major city erupted in flames after a handcuffed black man was killed by a white police officer.
It’s the kind of frenetic, fractured moment when national leaders are looked to for solutions and solace. President Donald Trump instead threw a rhetorical match into the tinderbox. “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he declared ominously in a late-night tweet.
Trump’s words were so jarring that Twitter attached a warning to his post — as well as to an identical message from an official White House account — saying that the president of the United States was “glorifying violence.” It’s the first time the social media giant has taken such a step with any world leader, prompting new claims of bias from Trump and some of his conservative allies.
The episode encapsulated Trump’s approach to the presidency and to this time of national crisis, which has upended nearly every aspect of American life and put his November reelection prospects at risk. He’s latched on to personal grievances and cast himself as a victim, while making only occasional references to the staggering loss of life across the country. He’s willingly stoked partisan divisions over public health, and now racial divisions in the face of a death, rather than seeking opportunities to pull the nation together.
Read the rest at AP.
Matt Zapotosky and Isaac Stanley-Becker at The Washington Post: Gripped by disease, unemployment and outrage at the police, America plunges into crisis.
America’s persistent political dysfunction and racial inequality were laid bare this week, as the coronavirus death toll hit a tragic new milestone and as the country was served yet another reminder of how black people are killed by law enforcement in disproportionately high numbers. Together, the events present a grim tableau of a nation in crisis — one seared by violence against its citizens, plagued by a deadly disease that remains uncontained and rattled by a devastating blow to its economy.
“The threads of our civic life could start unraveling, because everybody’s living in a tinderbox,” said historian and Rice University professor Douglas Brinkley.
Barbara Ransby, a historian at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a longtime political activist, said the toll of the coronavirus outbreak made long-standing racial inequities newly stark. Then, images of police violence made those same disparities visceral.
“People are seething about all kinds of things,” said Ransby, the author of “Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the Twenty-First Century.” “There are major turning points and ruptures in history. . . . This is one of these moments, but we’ve not seen how it will fully play out.”
Read more at the WaPo.
This seems really ominous from James LaPorta at the Associated Press: Pentagon puts military police on alert to go to Minneapolis.
As unrest spread across dozens of American cities on Friday, the Pentagon took the rare step of ordering the Army to put several active-duty U.S. military police units on the ready to deploy to Minneapolis, where the police killing of George Floyd sparked the widespread protests.
Soldiers from Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Fort Drum in New York have been ordered to be ready to deploy within four hours if called, according to three people with direct knowledge of the orders. Soldiers in Fort Carson, in Colorado, and Fort Riley in Kansas have been told to be ready within 24 hours. The people did not want their names used because they were not authorized to discuss the preparations.
The get-ready orders were sent verbally on Friday, after President Donald Trump asked Defense Secretary Mark Esper for military options to help quell the unrest in Minneapolis after protests descended into looting and arson in some parts of the city.
Trump made the request on a phone call from the Oval Office on Thursday night that included Esper, National Security Advisor Robert O’ Brien and several others. The president asked Esper for rapid deployment options if the Minneapolis protests continued to spiral out of control, according to one of the people, a senior Pentagon official who was on the call.
I’m not a lawyer, but I thought it was illegal for the U.S. military to police American citizens. More from the AP story:
The person said the military units would be deployed under the Insurrection Act of 1807, which was last used in 1992 during the riots in Los Angeles that followed the Rodney King trial.
“If this is where the president is headed response-wise, it would represent a significant escalation and a determination that the various state and local authorities are not up to the task of responding to the growing unrest,” said Brad Moss, a Washington D.C.-based attorney, who specializes in national security.
Members of the police units were on a 30-minute recall alert early Saturday, meaning they would have to return to their bases inside that time limit in preparation for deployment to Minneapolis inside of four hours. Units at Fort Drum are slated to head to Minneapolis first, according to the three people, including two Defense Department officials. Roughly 800 U.S. soldiers would deploy to the city if called.
One more and I’ll end this catalog of horrors. I read this post at bellingcat a couple of days ago, and Michelle Goldberg discusses it in her NYT op-ed quoted up top: The Boogaloo Movement Is Not What You Think.
As Minneapolis exploded over the death of a another black man at the hands of police, members of a weird political subculture weighed a response.
On the internet, meanwhile, a largely white, and far right movement publicly contended over what risks its members should take to support a black man killed by police.
Wu Hongli and his rescued cat
On the Facebook page, Big Igloo Bois, which at the time of writing had 30,637 followers, an administrator wrote of the protests, “If there was ever a time for bois to stand in solidarity with ALL free men and women in this country, it is now”.
They added, “This is not a race issue. For far too long we have allowed them to murder us in our homes, and in the streets. We need to stand with the people of Minneapolis. We need to support them in this protest against a system that allows police brutality to go unchecked.”
One commenter added, “I’m looking for fellow Minneapolis residents to join me in forming a private, Constitutionally-authorized militia to protect people from the MPD, which has killed too many people within the last two years.”
These exchanges offer a window into an extremely online update of the militia movement, which is gearing up for the northern summer. The “Boogaloo Bois” expect, even hope, that the warmer weather will bring armed confrontations with law enforcement, and will build momentum towards a new civil war in the United States.
Mostly, they’re not even hiding it. And for the last several months, their platform of choice has been Facebook.
Like many other novel extremist movements, the loose network of pro-gun shitposters trace their origins to 4chan. What coherence the movement has comes from their reverence for their newly-minted martyrs and a constellation of in-jokes and memes
The article describes how this subculture has used Facebook to advance its agenda. Facebook is aiding numerous violent right wing movements and actively enabling the campaign of Donald Trump. Read more at these links:
Zeynep Tufekci at The Atlantic: Trump Is Doing All of This for Zuckerberg.
John Stanton at The Daily Beast: Mark Zuckerberg Profits from Rage as Much as Donald Trump Does.
Donnie O’Sullivan at CNN Business: Mark Zuckerberg silent as Trump uses Facebook and Instagram to threaten ‘looting’ will lead to ‘shooting.’
That’s it for me. What do you think? What stories are you following today?