Monday Reads: Trumpist Death Cult parties on in Nevada, Dude

Lesnoi pozhar,A. K. Denisov-Uralsky, around 1900.

Good Day Sky Dancers!

The West Coast is burning. The Gulf Coast faces a significant hurricane likely to cause deadly flooding. The country is nowhere near out of the Covid-19 Pandemic. We lose about a 1000 of us a day to the disease and many survive with life changing aftereffects.  However, the Trump Depraved Indifference Murder National Tour continues to prop up a rapidly deteriorating president’s ego and may be the ultimate Super Spread Event.

From NBC News: ‘Reckless and selfish’: Nevada Gov. Sisolak slams Trump for holding big indoor rally, violating state rules.  The Democratic governor said Trump appears to have “forgotten that this country is still in the middle of a global pandemic.”

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, criticized President Donald Trump for violating the state’s rules on Sunday night by holding an indoor campaign rally attended by thousands of people.

Trump “is knowingly packing thousands into an indoor venue to hold a political rally” the governor wrote in a lengthy Twitter post. He added that Trump has “forgotten that this country is still in the middle of a global pandemic.”

“This is an insult to every Nevadan who has followed the directives, made sacrifices, and put their neighbors before themselves,” Sisolak said. “It’s also a direct threat to all of the recent progress we’ve made and could potentially set us back.”

“As usual, he doesn’t believe the rules apply to him,” Sisolak said of Trump, and accused the president of “reckless and selfish actions.”

Trump held his first indoor rally in months in Henderson, Nevada, on Sunday night. Aides said that every attendee would have their temperature checked before entering and would be provided with a mask that they were encouraged to wear. They also had access to hand sanitizer. However, like the president’s recent rallies, most supporters were not wearing face coverings.

Henderson authorities said in a statement late Sunday that officials warned the event organizer in writing and verbally that they must obey the governor’s directives, which include not gathering in groups larger than 50 people, wearing face coverings and social distancing.

In response to criticism the campaign received for holding the indoor rally, Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign 2020 communications director, said in a statement, “If you can join tens of thousands of people protesting in the streets, gamble in a casino, or burn down small businesses in riots, you can gather peacefully under the 1st Amendment to hear from the president of the United States.”

Autumn Scene, Charles Linford ,(American, 1846–1897)

Bob Woodward’s book showed us that  ‘The president of the U.S. possessed specific knowledge that could have saved lives’  How are these actions that caused the death of thousands of Americans not depraved indifference murder?

In an interview with Savannah Guthrie on NBC’s “TODAY” show, Woodward said he found out about a briefing the president received from his national security advisers on Jan. 28 about the pandemic coming to the United States and, only a few days later, Trump didn’t share that information in his State of the Union address to Congress on Feb. 4, which 40 million people watched.

Woodward said Trump missed an opportunity that night to convey that warning, but the president said only that the U.S. was doing everything possible. Woodward said it’s like if President Franklin Delano Roosevelt told the American people the truth after Pearl Harbor that a lot more could have been done.

“It is one of those shocks, for me, having written about nine presidents, that the president of the United States possessed the specific knowledge that could have saved lives and historians are going to be writing about the lost month of February for tens of years,” Woodward said.

Jonathan Chait makes a controversial argument on locking Trump up in NYMag today: “Lock Him Up? For the Republic to survive Trump’s presidency, he must be tried for his crimes. Even if that sparks a constitutional crisis of its own.” Considering Barr and Trump are doing everything possible to get revenge on any one involved with the Russian investigation, this may seem tit for tat but is it when Trump actually is a criminal and has been for decades?

Mutual toleration means that political opponents must accept the legitimacy and legality of their opponents. If elected leaders can send their opponents to prison and otherwise discredit them, then leaders are afraid to relinquish power lest they be imprisoned themselves. The criminalization of politics is a kind of toxin that breaks down the cooperation required to sustain a democracy. This, along with the misogyny, was what made Trump’s embrace of “Lock her up!” so terrifying in 2016. He was already using the threat of imprisoning opponents as a political-campaign tool.

If the government is run by lawbreakers, though, the state faces a dilemma: Either the principle of equal treatment under the law or the tradition of a peaceful transition of power will be sacrificed. It’s hard to imagine any outcome under which the rule of law survives Trump unscathed.

One of the most corrosive effects of Trumpism upon the political culture has been to detach the law from any behavioral definition and to attach it to political identity. As Trump likes to say, “The other side is where there are crimes.” He has trained his supporters to understand this statement as a syllogism: If Trump’s opponents are doing something, it’s a crime; if Trump and his allies are doing it, it isn’t. The chants, which applied enough pressure to force James Comey to announce a reinvestigation of Hillary Clinton in October 2016, simply to protect the FBI from being delegitimized by Republicans after an expected Clinton victory, showed how the field had been sown for Trump even before he took office.

It is because Trump views the law as a morally empty category, a weapon for the powerful to use against their enemies, that he has spent his presidency calling for the prosecution and/or imprisonment of a constantly growing list of adversaries: Joe Biden and Barack Obama (for “spying” and “treason”), House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (for paraphrasing Trump’s Ukraine phone call in a speech), John Kerry (for allegedly violating the Logan Act), John Bolton (for writing a tell-all book), Joe Scarborough (for the death of a former staffer), Nancy Pelosi (for tearing up his State of the Union Address), and social-media firms (for having too many liberals). Trump has alleged a variety of crimes against at least four former FBI officials and three Obama-era national-security officials.

Things just really keep getting more disturbing as Trump gets more paranoid and shows more signs of dementia.

Grassfire 1,1995, Jennifer Walton

Here are two headlines that show us that things are not normal here.

Andrew Solender / Forbes:
Trump Says He Will ‘Negotiate’ Third Term Because He’s ‘Entitled’ To It  —  President Trump said Saturday that he plans to “negotiate” to run again in 2024 if he wins reelection in November, his latest in a series of comments that have alarmed critics who say he has little regard for constitutional boundaries.

Shane Goldmacher / New York Times:

Biden Creates Legal War Room, Preparing for a Big Fight Over Voting  —  With two former solicitors general and hundreds of lawyers, the Biden campaign is bracing for an extended legal battle and hoping to maintain trust in the electoral process.  —  Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign is establishing

Alexander Vindman speaks out in a Atlantic interview with a really damning statement. This is by Jeffrey Goldberg: Alexander Vindman: Trump Is Putin’s ‘Useful Idiot’. In his first interview, a key witness in the impeachment trial says Trump goes out of his way to try to please the Russian president.

On July 25 of last year, Vindman, who, as the National Security Council’s director for European affairs, organized the call, listened, with other officials, to a conversation between Trump and the newly elected Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

“I would like you to do us a favor,” Trump told Zelensky, working his way to the subject of Joe Biden: “There’s a lot of talk about Biden’s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution, and a lot of people want to find out about that, so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you can look into it …”

Vindman was surprised by Trump’s approach, and by its implications. Like other American specialists in the successor states of the former Soviet Union, he was invested in the U.S.-Ukraine relationship. And like most national-security professionals, he was interested in countering Russia’s malign influence—along its borders, in places like Ukraine and Belarus and the Baltic states; across Europe; and in American elections. He believed in buttressing Ukraine’s new leadership. He also had an aversion to shakedowns, and this, to him, felt like a shakedown.

This really is a skillfully executed interview and an interesting conversation with a man who is quoted as simply saying this:

“I did my duty as an American citizen and Army officer.”

So, this will be a busy day for me as I have to work while Hurricane Sally barrels towards us and hopefully turns north before it gets to us. So, I’ll leave you with these stories knowing that as with every Monday that there is more fresh hell in the headlines.

Please be safe.  Please be kind and gentle with yourself and others. Please continue to check in.  We care about you.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


September 11 Reads

Good Day Sky Dancers!

This is the 19th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. It is a tragic event in our history and still very much shaping our policies.  New York City’s skyline changed in a matter of hours as it lost many first responders and citizens to what was an unimaginable act of foreign terrorism.

Today, the FBI considers election interference by the Russians and Domestic Terrorism threats represented by White Right Wing Racist militias to be a bigger threat.  However, our policies no longer reflect proper priorities for our National Security because the biggest threats to our security are also the biggest Trump supporters.  Our President is a Russian Asset and White Nationalist. It is no wonder that the art that continues to speak to me is still German Expressionism which rose to prominence in Germany between the wars.

There are many interesting takes on exactly how much threat Trump, his base, and his Russian overlords are to our republic.  Me, I’m running around here with  my hair on fire.  Here’s one from The Independent and writer Carl Hiaasen: “Carl Hiaasen: ‘They’re gonna have to drag Trump out of the White House’. The bestselling Floridian crime writer talks to Kevin E G Perry about returning to writing after his brother’s death in a mass shooting, his visit to the president’s Palm Beach mansion, his election fears, and his gripping new novel ‘Squeeze Me’”

Creating laughter in a tough world may be Hiaasen’s hallmark, but his razor-edged sense of humour never diminishes the very real anger he feels towards those whose actions are destroying the planet, either through malice or callous indifference. While he says he takes some solace from the passion of the younger generation – he’s written environmental activism-focused novels for children since 2002’s Hoot – he fears it may be too little, too late. “There might be hope in there, just because their generation cannot possibly muck it up worse than my generation,” he says. “But then you look at the political scene and it’s very, very depressing. The Trump administration is trying to open up Alaska to more oil drilling at a time when the industry itself isn’t even showing any great enthusiasm for going into the Arctic. His ego is such a shrivelled little nub that he has to undo Obama’s policies even when there’s no political pressure to undo them.”

Any real action on the environment seems unimaginable without a change of administration in November, but Hiaasen says he’s among those Americans who fear Trump will attempt to stay in office regardless of the election results. “I think they’re going to have to back a tow truck up to the White House and drag his fat ass out of there, to be honest with you,” he says. “He’s never done anything with dignity, so he’s not leaving with dignity. I’m very uneasy about how ugly it’s going to get and the potential for violence, because the most violent demonstrators we have now in this country are right-wing lunatics showing up to these protests with guns.”

Hiaasen knows all too well just how terrifying a prospect that is. The world may be filled with senseless violence meted out beneath an indifferent heaven, but at least on the page he is able to deliver karmic justice. In that context, the idea of sending mammoth pythons slithering their way into the president’s inner sanctum sounds suspiciously like wish fulfilment. “Yeah, well, you caught me,” says Hiaasen with a sly smile. “The pythons had been rattling around in my mind for a while. They’re an invasive species and they’ve completely decimated the ecosystem. They’ve eaten their way through the Everglades and now they’re showing up in various suburbs around Florida, so I thought: pythons? Mar-a-Lago? Why the hell not?” He laughs. “Is it a sick fantasy? Yes, it is, but I suspect I’m not the only one who has thought along those lines.”

I can see this headed to my Kindle shortly.

So, where’s Trumpo?  He was firmly planted in Pennsylvania trying to pull another election ‘miracle’ there.

And, BTW, did I mention that native Louisiana son Retired Army LT General Russsel Honore is and will always be my hero?

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Self-portrait as a soldier

So, the weird thing to me is that we know both Rice and Dubya managed to miss the briefing that said that the Taliban were planning an attack and the result was that people died. We also know that Obama knew that there were signals and warnings  coming from the FBI on the connection between Russia and the Trump organization and attacks on our election.  He dithered the opportunity away with second guessing. The Trumpist regime is just one on going shit show of dead Americans and inadequate responses to natural disasters. Why didn’t Obama do more? Now, we don’t have to ask why Trump isn’t doing more about threats to our National Security but I do sense a pattern here.

BB wrote yesterday about the Strzok book where both he and Dan Coates and many others felt Trump was compromised by the Russians.  And, of course, we know it’s all because of his great need for money because he fails at every project he attempts.

David Corn has written about how the Russian attacks on our election and the Trumpist negligenceand planned response to the Pandemic is tantamount to the greatest act of betrayal since the Confederates took up arms against our Country.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Tavern

Not since the Civil War—when leaders responsible for the enslavement and brutalization of millions of Americans sought to destroy the United States and took military action that resulted in the violent deaths of hundreds of thousands of citizens—has a group of politicians so profoundly betrayed the republic. And this band—Donald Trump and GOP officials—has done so on two fronts simultaneously. They have failed to respond effectively to a pair of immense threats: a pandemic that has claimed the lives of close to 200,000 Americans, and a foreign attack on the political foundation of the country. What exacerbates this double tragedy is that Trump and his Republican supporters have done so purposefully. This has been no accident or act of unintentional incompetence. In each case, they sacrificed the public interest—including the well-being and the lives of millions of Americans—to serve their own interests. Trump and his crew have forsaken the United States of America.

It can be easy to lose sight of this big picture, as headlines explode every hour within a political media world cursed by tribalized partisan divisions. There already exists more than enough information to support such an extreme-sounding verdict. But evidence piles up each day—perhaps coming so fast as to overwhelm. The latest revelation (as I write) regarding Trump and the coronavirus crisis is that he told reporter Bob Woodward in March, “I wanted to always play it down.” Here is confirmation of what Americans had repeatedly seen with their own eyes for months: Trump lied about the dangers posed by this killer virus. And those lies, mostly unchallenged by his Republican allies and largely echoed by conservative media propagandists, shaped the ineffectual federal response and influenced how millions of Americans viewed the risks posed by the pandemic. One example: sticking with this big lie, Trump, who in early February privately told Woodward that the virus was airborne, refused to encourage mask-wearing. It’s likely that thousands—or tens of thousands—have died due to this.

Trump now claims he did not want to spark a panic. That is clearly another lie. This man relishes in causing panic when it doesn’t exist: the immigrant caravan, antifa, the end of the suburbs. He downplayed the pandemic because in his misguided political calculation he believed such bad news would harm his election prospects. (Actually, doing his job well in response to this crisis would have been a damn good electoral strategy. But that did not seem to occur to Trump.) So he tossed out bullshit while Americans were perishing and the economy was crashing. He abandoned his solemn duty to protect the citizenry instead holding rallies, focusing on his TV ratings, and dismissing (and promoting disinformation about) the gravest threat to the nation in decades.

The Daily Beast puts it succinctly: “Has Any American Killed More Americans Than Donald Trump?”

So Donald Trump copped to it. He told Bob Woodward that he knew how deadly the virus was—and downplayed it anyway, encouraging MAGA nation to act as if COVID-19 was a cheap Chinese knockoff of the flu.

“It’s remarkable that in these interviews, the president of the United States confessed to fucking manslaughter,” Molly Jong-Fast says on the latest episode of The New Abnormal.

The lawyers might debate whether Trump has any criminal culpability. But to Rick Wilson, there’s no question about Trump’s moral responsibility

“No American has killed more of their fellow Americans in this country than Donald Trump, except for Robert E. Lee and Jefferson fucking Davis,” he says. “No one has a body count to rival Trump’s. He knew it. He knew it was there. He did it. He let it happen. It is the most unbelievable and horrifying outcome that we can imagine.”

Molly adds, “Mike Pence was at a pro-life event the other day. And I was thinking about the irony, right? This administration has killed 100,000 plus plus plus people. And they’re talking about embryos. Like, it’s almost beyond parody”

Wassily Kandinsky, Bedroom in Aintmillerstrasse

We also had the notion that Russian Trolls were using leftwing media to try to drive numbers away from Clinton in 2016 . The Daily Beast also has this exclusive which is quite the read. : “Leaked Documents Show Russian Trolls Tried to Infiltrate Left-Wing Media”. Dimwits like Susan Sarandon and Jill Stein were clearly useful fools. So were some of the more well known socialist media outlets.’

It’s no secret that Russia’s trolls, hackers, and spies are pulling for Donald Trump in 2020—just like they famously did at the last election. But Moscow’s propaganda-peddlers aren’t just pushing MAGA memes and Biden disinfo—they’re also attempting to infiltrate left-wing sites.

The Russian trolls’ private chat logs and emails, reviewed by The Daily Beast, show they tried to get their American contributors to write for Jacobin, a leading socialist outlet; recruited from Truthout, a left-leaning nonprofit news site; and tried to buy their way onto the website of the long-pedigreed liberal outlet In These Times.

The reporting also shows that none of these particular outlets bit.  But, there were some that did. Read more at the link if you can get through the paywall.

Meanwhile, the unhinged continues to go unchallenged by most Fox entertainment personalities.  The insanity just continues.

Movie poster for The Cabinet Of Dr. Calagari – 1920  (Italian version)

So, just  to end and wrap up the topics of the day we get this exclusive from  NYDN: “EXCLUSIVE: Trump administration secretly withheld millions from FDNY 9/11 health program”  from investigative reporter Michael McCauliff.

The Trump administration has secretly siphoned nearly $4 million away from a program that tracks and treats FDNY firefighters and medics suffering from 9/11 related illnesses, the Daily News has learned.The Treasury Department mysteriously started withholding parts of payments — nearly four years ago — meant to cover medical services for firefighters, emergency medical technicians and paramedics treated by the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program, documents obtained by The News reveal.

The payments were authorized and made by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which oversees the program. But instead of sending the funds to the city, the Treasury started keeping some of the money.

“This was just disappearing,” the program’s director, Dr. David Prezant, told The News. “This is the most amazing thing. This was disappearing — without any notification.”

Prezant said he was docked about half a million dollars each year in 2016 and 2017. Then it crept up to about $630,000 in 2018 and 2019. This year, Treasury has nearly tripled its extractions, diverting $1.447 million through late August, according to Prezant.

“Here we have sick World Trade Center-exposed firefighters and EMS workers, at a time when the city is having difficult financial circumstances due to COVID-19, and we’re not getting the money we need to be able to treat these heroes,” said Prezant, the FDNY’s Chief Medical Officer.

“And for years, they wouldn’t even tell us — we never ever received a letter telling us this,” he explained.

Prezant was never able to get an explanation from NIOSH or the mammoth Department of Health and Human Services which has the agency under its umbrella.

After years of complaining, Prezant did get a partial answer when Long Island Republican Rep. Pete King put his political weight behind the inquiry. That answer was that some other agency in the city has been in an unrelated feud with the feds over Medicare bills.

Let me just sum up here …

Trump LIED, people DIED  and TRUMP is still LYING and people are still DYING.

Have a good weekend! Be safe!  Please check in with us if you’re on the west coast.  We’re so worried about you with those fires so out of control!  I cannot believe I have friends in Oregon City that will likely not have a home to return to and are fortunate to have gotten out with pets and a few things.

We can put an end to this!  We must vote!  Every one of us!  We cannot take any more of this!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?