Friday, July 31, 2020


Shockingly, it appears that trying to kill constituents is bad for your poll numbers if you're an elected official.
A look at recent polling of nine governors ... shows that the governors who instituted face-mask requirements, urged social distancing and reopened more slowly than other states have seen a jump in their approval ratings.

By contrast, the governors who eschewed public health experts’ advice and reopened quickly — as President Trump urged — have seen their approval ratings drop, by double digits in some cases.

The five governors listed at the top of the chart have taken the pandemic seriously, and have seen their poll numbers rise. The Trumpian governors of Arizona, Florida, and Texas, who downplayed or blocked serious public health measures, have seen massive COVID-19 spikes in their states -- and massive declines in their popularity. People actually don't like being placed at mortal risk by their elected officials! Who knew?

But I understand why these Republican governors -- and the Republican president -- thought they could harm their constituents and pay no political price: because Republicans have been harming constituents for forty years and getting away with it.

Since the Reagan era, corporatist Republicanism has weakened the middle class, increased inequality, gutted regulations on corporations, and, in this century, crashed the economy twice. But because Republicans distract their base with culture-war talk and other forms of lib-owning, none of the harm GOP politicians do to their voters has ever seemed to cause them trouble at the polls.

I'm reminded of something I read a few years ago in a review of Arlie Russell Hochschild's book Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right.
The paradox that most baffles Hochschild is the question of environmental pollution. Even the most ideologically driven zealots don’t want to drink poisoned water, inhale toxic gas, or become susceptible to record flooding. Yet southwestern Louisiana combines some of the nation’s most fervently antiregulatory voters with its most toxic environmental conditions....

Hochschild discovers a walking personification of these ironies in a Cajun oil rig engineer named Mike Schaff. In August 2012, Schaff was entering his home in Bayou Corne, about seventy miles west of New Orleans, when he was jolted by a tremor....

More than a mile beneath the bayou, a Houston-based drilling company named Texas Brine had drilled into a vast salt dome, ignoring warnings from its own engineer.... Texas Brine drilled too closely to an oil deposit and the structure ruptured, sucking down forest and causing seismic damage to the homes of 350 nearby residents. Officials began referring to Schaff’s neighborhood as the “sacrifice zone.”

Texas Brine refused to take responsibility for the accident.... Four years later the sinkhole is 750 feet deep at its center and has grown to thirty-five acres. Methane and other gases bubble up periodically. Residents who defied evacuation orders avoided lighting matches.

... [Schaff] marched on the statehouse, wrote fifty letters to state and federal officials, granted dozens of interviews to local, national, and foreign press. When state officials claimed they had detected no oil in the bayou, he demanded that the EPA check their work.

But Schaff continued to vote Tea Party down the line. He voted for the very politicians who had abetted Texas Brine at every turn, who opposed environmental regulation of any kind. He voted to “abolish” the EPA, believing that it “was grabbing authority and tax money to take on a fictive mission ... lessening the impact of global warming.” The violent destruction of everything he held dear was not enough to change his mind.
So you can understand why Republicans thought they could refuse to build public-health infrastructure, ridicule and block mask mandates, and demand the premature reopening of businesses and schools -- sure, some folks would die, but GOP politcians won't be blamed, will they? They never are.

Well, voters don't blame Republicans when they can't quite grasp the direct connection between policies they dislike and Republican politicians they support. And maybe they don't assess blame when the stakes aren't obvious. But in this case, it's simple: Get the virus and you might die -- and the Republican governor doesn't think it's a terrible thing if that happens.

GOP politicians have gotten away with so much. Is it surprising that they thought they'd get away with this, too?


Peggy Noonan, even though she's no fan of Donald Trump, rejects the call by some Never Trumpers to "burn down" the Republican Party.
Now various of [Trump's] foes, in or formerly of his party, want to burn the whole thing down—level the party, salt the earth where it stood, remove Republican senators, replace them with Democrats.

This strikes me as another form of nihilism. It’s bloody-minded and not fully responsible....

Many if not most of those calling for burning the whole thing down are labeled “Never Trump,” and a lot of them are characterologically quick to point the finger of blame. They’re aiming at Trump supporters in Congress....

But Never Trumpers never seem to judge themselves. Many of them, when they were profiting through past identities as Republicans or conservatives, supported or gave strategic cover to the wars that were such a calamity, and attacked those who dissented.... Never Trumpers eloquently decry the vulgarization of politics and say the presidency is lowered by a man like Mr. Trump, and it is. But they invented Sarah Palin and unrelentingly attacked her critics. They often did it in the name of party loyalty.
The wars she's referring to are the quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan -- "two unwon wars, which constituted a historic foreign-policy catastrophe," as she puts it.

But she has some nerve chastising others for pounding the war drums. Here was Noonan in 2003:
Last Thursday night Tom Brokaw carried a war report that featured an American GI who’d been shot in the leg outside Baghdad. They showed him being treated in the field on a gurney. His pants had been cut away, and you could see his shorts. They were red, white and blue. They had stars and stripes like a flag. And one of the soldiers treating him looked up and smiled. “Nice shorts,” he said....

Our young troops love their country. That is why they are where they are. It has had me thinking a happy thought, about the success with which our country, for all its troubles the past few decades, has continued to communicate to new generations the simple idea of the goodness of loving America. They have picked up the sheer exuberant joy of understanding a thing and, because one understands it and because it is good, loving it, and then acting on that love to the extent that you would fight for it, you would even die for it. This is a beautiful thing, more precious than gold....

Is this corny? Too bad. It’s beautiful to see Americans stand up and embrace their patrimony and go forth into the world with faith. And none of this is unconnected to our president. George W. Bush has given our soldiers something to be proud of, something they can understand and respect. He is, now, after all he’s been through the past two years, Mr. Backbone. He has demonstrated to a seething and skeptical world that America can and will stand and fight for a cause, see it through, help the tormented and emerge victorious....

America appears to have a president worthy of its people.
The wars are good and our troops are good and George W. Bush, who sent them to fight in those wars, is very, very good. That was the message of Peggy Noonan when it counted.

Oh, and also this, written shortly after Bush was reelected in 2004 as a war president:
About a year ago I was visiting West Point, and I was talking to a big officer, a general or colonel. But he had the medals and ribbons and the stature, and he asked me what I thought of President Bush. I tried to explain what most impressed me about Mr. Bush, and I kept falling back on words like “courage” and “guts.” I wasn’t capturing the special quality Mr. Bush has of making a tough decision and then staying with it if he thinks it’s right and paying the price even when the price is high and—

I stopped speaking for a moment. There was silence. And then the general said, “You mean he’s got two of ’em.” And I laughed and said yes, that’s exactly what I mean.
And while Noonan soured on Sarah Palin fairly early, she was dazzled by Palin's 2008 Republican convention speech.
She has the power of the normal. Hillary Clinton is grim, stentorian, was born to politics and its connivances. Nancy Pelosi, another mother of five, often seems dazed and ad hoc. But this state governor and mother of a big family is a woman in a good mood. There is something so normal about her, so “You’ve met this person before and you like her,” that she broke through in a new way, as a character vividly herself, and vividly genuine....

What she did in terms of the campaign itself was important. No one has ever really laid a glove on Obama before, not in this campaign and maybe not in his life. But Palin really damaged him. She took him square on, fearlessly....

By the end, Democrats knew they had been dinged, and badly....

The speech was, in its way, a call so tender it made grown-ups weep on the floor. The things she spoke of were the beating heart of the old America. But as I watched I thought, I know where the people in that room are, I know their heart, for it is my heart.
And after Palin's debate with Joe Biden:
She killed. She had him at “Nice to meet you. Hey, can I call you Joe?” She was the star. He was the second male lead, the good-natured best friend of the leading man....

As far as Mrs. Palin was concerned, Gwen Ifill was not there, and Joe Biden was not there. Sarah and the camera were there. This was classic “talk over the heads of the media straight to the people,” and it is a long time since I’ve seen it done so well....

Sarah Palin saved John McCain again Thursday night. She is the political equivalent of cardiac paddles: Clear! Zap! We’ve got a beat! She will re-electrify the base. More than that, an hour and a half of talking to America will take her to a new level of stardom.
Noonan blames Trump on things others did: got us into wars we couldn't win, let too many immigrants into the country (Noonan is practically Ann Coulter on this issue), gave us Palin.

But somehow, none of the blame for Trump can be laid at Peggy Noonan's feet, even though Noonan helped invent Ronald Reagan, the original ignorant but telegenic dilettante who became president after turning right-wing politics into a late-life hobby.

Noonan says we got Trump because neither party seemed to care much about "on-the-ground Americans." But Noonan, in what's considered one of her finer moments, had George H.W. Bush tell those Americans that they didn't need government to help solve domestic problems, because prvate citizens -- "a thousand points of light" -- would make everything all better. Bush wasn't the first to sell that nonsense, but Noonan's prose poetry made the idea seem lofty. Thirty-two years later, Donald Trump abandoned responsibility to the American people in a once-in-a-century pandemic, and here we are, with 150,000 dead, no end in sight, and not nearly enough points of light visible.

Many people are responsible for the state of the Republican Party, the party that has dragged down America. Give the Never Trumpers credit for at least trying to undo some of the damage, even if they've never apologized for most of the harm they've done. I don't see any effort at undoing or apologizing on Peggy Noonan's part.

Thursday, July 30, 2020


This morning, President Trump tweeted this:

We know this was, among other things, an attempt to distract from the dismal GDP report that was announced this morning. But was Trump serious about a possible election postponement?

We're now at the stage where we're being told it was a brilliant joke and the stupid libs were just fished in.

And from the Gateway Pundit comments:

So was it a joke? Reporters, please ask the president directly the first chance you get. If he's not available, ask his press secretary to confirm or deny that it was a joke.

Remember the last time we were told that the president was just kidding:
President Donald Trump on Tuesday insisted he was serious when he revealed that he had directed his administration to slow coronavirus testing in the United States, shattering the defenses of senior White House aides who argued Trump’s remarks were made in jest.

“I don’t kid. Let me just tell you. Let me make it clear,” Trump told reporters, when pressed on whether his comments at a campaign event Saturday in Tulsa, Okla., were intended as a joke.
We're being assured that Trump can't postpone the election.
Mr. Trump has no authority to unilaterally change the date of the election, which is set by federal law....

Article II of the Constitution empowers Congress to determing the timing of the election. An 1845 federal law fixed the date as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
Yes, but that law says,
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the electors of President and Vice-President shall be appointed in each State on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November of the year in which they are to be appointed: ... provided also, When any State shall have held an election for the purpose of choosing electors, and shall fail to make a choice on the day aforesaid, then the electors may be appointed on a subsequent day in such manner as the State shall by law provide.
Which suggests that states can alter their procedures for choosing presidential electors. And this, from the National Constitution Center, is ominous:
Three opinions from the Congressional Research Service explain scenarios about the possible delays in the presidential election process. One report, released [in March], indicates a state under its own laws could postpone the general election date that results in the selection of electors; in the election this year that date is Tuesday, November 3, 2020. At least 45 states have statutes that deal with election day emergencies, the CRS says.
There are several states in which Republicans fully control the government but voters might prefer Joe Biden to Donald Trump -- Florida, Arizona, and possibly Georgia and Texas. There are other possible Biden states in which Republicans control the legislature -- Pennsylvia, Michigan, North Carolina, Wisconsin. What might happen in those states?

And are we sure the Republicans won't just violate the law with impunity?

I've never believed that Donald Trump would refrain from tampering with the 2020 election because he respects the law or cares about democracy. I assumed he wouldn't do it because he's persuaded himself that he's winning.

I think he still tells himself that he's winning. But it's clear from today's tweet that on some level he doesn't believe it. Now I think he's telling himself that he would win if it weren't for those millions of fraudulent Demoratic mail-in votes (and he's trailing in the polls because every pollster is conspiring against him).

Maybe the election will go on as planned. Maybe Trump and Senate Republicans will merely cripple the Postal Service's ability to handle mail-in ballots. But I don't consider this a joke.


I'm still worried about the November elections. I'm worried that Trump's poll numbers have stopped declining. I'm worried that Joe Biden's running mate won't be embraced by voters (or even by his own advisers).

Know what I'm not worried about? This:
Barr says he won’t wait until after election to reveal Durham’s findings. Democrats fear a campaign-altering surprise.

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

Republicans have been eagerly awaiting Durham’s findings — hopeful that the prosecutor Barr handpicked last year to investigate the investigation of possible coordination between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia will validate their fierce criticisms of the bureau. Democrats, meanwhile, have worried that the Connecticut U.S. attorney is aiding a political stunt designed to undercut an investigation that dogged Trump’s presidency.
Obviously Barr intends this to be an October surprise.
Barr recently told Fox News he expected developments in Durham’s investigation “hopefully before the end of the summer.” ...

Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.) asked Barr: Would he “commit to not releasing any report by Mr. Durham before the November election?”

“No,” Barr responded.
But while angry liberals and Trump loyalists still want to talk about Russian election interference and the investigation of the Trump team's ties to Moscow, the rest of America seems bored with the subject -- and seemed that way even before the country became consumed with pandemic fears, a severe economic downturn, and the problem of systemic racism. Americans seem unable to wrap their minds around the Russia story, or, for that matter, the subsequent Ukraine story -- the complex timelines and huge casts of characters appear to be more than most voters can absorb.

The Durham report, whenever it arrives, seems designed to appeal exclusively to people who watch Fox News fourteen hours a day (and to infuriate those who watch hours of MSNBC). It won't be about Donald Trump or any top official directly. It will be about all those people your Fox-watching relatives despise and your apolitical relatives have never heard of.
Exactly what Durham is focused on is not clear....

One focus, people familiar with the matter said, seems to be on why the bureau kept pressing forward after it came to have doubts about the credibility of Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer on whose work the FBI relied in part to get a secret court order to surveil former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Investigators were particularly interested in doubts raised about Steele by one of his sources of information, the people said....

Another line of inquiry Durham has pursued is whether the CIA was inappropriately withholding material from the National Security Agency and the FBI to enable a finding about Russia’s covert activities sought by then-CIA Director John Brennan, according to people familiar with the matter....

Kerri Kupec, a Justice Department spokeswoman, said earlier this year that Durham also had been examining the issue of “unmasking” — or intelligence officials asking to reveal a name that has been shielded in a sensitive government document....
"Unmasking"! People are dying in overcrowded ICUs and we're supposed to worry that the election will turn on "unmasking"?

We're reminded that in May, "Barr said publicly that he did not expect Durham would investigate former president Barack Obama or Biden — seeming to disappoint some conservatives who hoped otherwise." If that's accurate, then this report will generate hours of Fox News content that the president will gleefully consume, as will voters who are solidly committed to voting for Trump already. But it won't matter to the rest of America. I'm not concerned.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020


You'd think this would inspire right-wingers to take the coronavirus seriously:
Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican who has frequently walked around the Capitol without wearing a face mask or maintaining social distance from others, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to a person familiar with the results.

Gohmert had been scheduled to travel with President Trump aboard Air Force One to Texas on Wednesday but tested positive at the White House and did not join the trip....
It won't matter to them. Right-wingers continue to treat this virus as if it's no big deal. It's rarely serious! It's 100% treatable! It's a hoax! The stats are fake news!

From the comments at Gateway Pundit:
COVID-19 is so horrible that most people have to be tested to even realize that they have it... smh


There are many false positives too.





I betcha Barr is taking HCQ , also seems a bit of a coincidence that Nadler blew up about them not wearing masks. Then the pictures and the news make a big story . Wouldn't be surprised if Louis takes HCQ also could be a set up .Your right retest


COVID-19 is so horrible, it takes control over trucks and sharks and attacks people. That explains why half the people dead of COVID19 are car crash or shark attack victims


These leftists have a severe psychological obsession with masks. It’s truly disturbing.


Masks have essentially become the perfect metaphor for control, virtue signaling, and submission.. So therefore what’s not to like if you’re a Leftist?...


They see it as controlling a person -- having a control/controlling influence over somebody. Leftists are all about that.


Not to worry. They will both have access to hydroxychloroquine, Z-Pac and Zinc.


Pardon me if I question the test.. I think a test from another source is in order.. Interesting the coincidence between Gomer's speech about dems being attached to slavery and should be removed from Government like the names of the military bases and now this....


So who gave it to Mr. Gohmert ?

BTW... a mask will not save you.... just make you sicker !
Also... I have heard a lot of people have tested positive for this cold on the Hill..... but, ......never have I heard of anyone being Hospitalized or even actually showing any symptoms....... I wonder why ?
And at Breitbart:
The timing is suspicious. Was he "given" the virus, or maybe a deliberate "false positive". This test could easily be used as a weapon to sideline people.


He might get the sniffles for a day or two.


hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin & zinc


According to the doctor's using this protocol, it works nearly at 100% when administered early.


Many people are asymptomatic.


Asymptomatic is a good lie to make everyone wear masks. Many are false positive. What about regular coronavirus, the common cold?


Many people never had it and will never get it. Where did SARS go? ALL flu viruses get weaker, ALL of them, it's the natural course. It does NOT EVER "get worse before it gets better".


You know what else works nearly 100 percent of the time, doing nothing because survival is 99.9%


..and how many died from the flu knuck-knuck? That’s right, you don’t know because no one care about those 70K deaths, even with the effing vaccine used. Only COVID lives elect Biden.
The playbook the fossil fuel industry has used in response to climate change -- muddy the waters, create doubt -- is the one being used by right-wing plutocrats in order to get the economy open in spite of the pandemic. With conservative Americans, it's working perfectly: They don't believe the virus is terribly harmful (though masks are), they think the death tolls are exaggerated (everyone who dies with the virus, they'll all tell you, is recorded as having died of the virus), and they believe the disease is completely curable by means of hydroxychloroquine (or a hydroxychloroquine cocktail) -- but "they" (meaning the evil liberals) don't want to allow it.

If you've been asking yourself who's profiting from all this hydroxychloroquine hype, the answer is: all the people who want the economy reopened no matter how many people die.

I don't think every plutocrat is part of this doubt-creating propaganda campaign, but many are. Remember, plutocrats routinely shrug off widespread health damage from corporate pollution, whether in the Third World or in Louisiana's Cancer Alley. They don't care if we die. They want us thinking that precautions are evil and business as usual is better. And they have your right-wing relatives convinced.

It's statistically unlikely that Louie Gohmert will die -- and if he doesn't, that's even more proof to right-wingers that the disease is trivial and the pandemic is a hoax.

Maybe they'll change their minds if more of their ideological heroes die or experience severe illness. (Herman Cain has been in the hospital for a month with Covid, but do they even remember him?) More likely, they'll believe the Deep State was responsible. They'll never come around on this.


UPDATE: It gets worse.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on Wednesday blamed his positive COVID-19 test on wearing a mask.

Gohmert claimed that "moving the mask around" was "bound to have put some virus on the mask that I soaked in."

... From a July 29 interview on KETK:
... REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R-TX): There are an awful lot of people that think it's the great thing to do all the time, but I can't help but think that if I hadn't been wearing a mask so much in the last 10 days or so, I really wonder if I would have gotten it.

But I know, you know, moving the mask around, getting it just right, I'm bound to put some virus on the mask that I soaked in. That's most likely what happened.
But there's at least one person in his office who's not part of the idiocracy:

What a debased country this is.


David Leonhardt of The New York Times is right, obviously:
Why is the U.S. enduring a far more severe virus outbreak than any other rich country?

There are multiple causes, but one of them is the size and strength of right-wing media organizations that frequently broadcast falsehoods. The result is confusion among many Americans about scientific facts that are widely accepted, across the political spectrum, in other countries.

Canada, Japan and much of Europe have no equivalent to Sinclair — whose local newscasts reach about 40 percent of Americans — or Fox News. Germany and France have widely read blogs that promote conspiracy theories. “But none of them have the reach and the funding of Fox or Sinclair,” Monika Pronczuk, a Times reporter based in Europe, told me.
As Leonhardt notes,
Sinclair Broadcast Group recently published an online interview with a conspiracy theorist who claimed that Dr. Anthony Fauci created the coronavirus using monkey cells. Sinclair — which operates almost 200 television stations — has also run segments downplaying the severity of the virus.

Fox News has repeatedly run segments promoting ideas that scientists consider false or that question the seriousness of the virus.
Yes, and remember when many Very Serious People were praising Tucker Carlson for taking the pandemic seriously and persuading the president that it wasn't a hoax? Well, now Carlson is using the Fox airwaves to defend a group of right-wing doctors that included President Trump's "demon sperm" doctor.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson ... defend[ed] a viral video of fringe doctors peddling COVID-19 falsehoods and claiming the group was only attacked because they criticized the “sainted” Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Hours after President Donald Trump doubled down on his support for the doctors—including eccentric pediatrician Dr. Stella Immanuel, who has previously said “demon sperm” causes gynecological ailments—Carlson kicked off his primetime program by railing against social media platforms for cracking down on the video’s disinformation.

... Besides claiming controversial anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine could prevent and even “cure” coronavirus, “America’s Frontline Doctors” also said masks and social distancing were unnecessary to prevent the spread of the virus.

... the Fox News star tied the removal of the video to the 2020 presidential election, claiming it was only taken down because Trump retweeted it and that “enraged Democrats.”

“Any scientific advancement that reduces the suffering of Americans in the election year is a threat to Joe Biden’s campaign so they decided to pull the video off the internet,” Carlson huffed.
So there's Trust Fund Tucker and the billionaire Murdoch family promoting a coronavirus disinformation video. And who's behind the video?
The event was hosted and funded by the Tea Party Patriots, a right-wing political nonprofit group led by Jenny Beth Martin, the group's co-founder, who spoke at the news conference.

The group, which collects funds through two nonprofit groups and a political action committee, has raised over $24 million since 2014 to support Republican causes and candidates.

... America's Frontline Doctors is led by a group of 10 doctors of varying specialties, according to its website, which was registered two weeks ago. The group's leader, Dr. Simone Gold, is a "concierge immediate-needs physician," who offers private medical consultations, according to an archive of her recently deleted professional website.

... In recent months, Gold has been a fixture on conservative media and at protests and rallies calling on reopening, and was on the panel that recommended that the Orange County Board of Education reopen schools without masks or distancing.
Remember that disturbing news from Orange County? This wingnut welfare recipient was partly responsible for that terrible decision.

The Associated Press reported in May that CNP Action discussed recruiting doctors who were willing to push narratives about reopening the economy before safety benchmarks were met in a May 11 phone call.

CNP Action is part of an alliance of conservative think tanks called the Save Our Country Coalition, which previously hosted viral "Liberate" Facebook events in April, urging protesters to rally in states that had adopted social distancing restrictions.
As that May AP story noted,
CNP Action is part of the Save Our Country Coalition, an alliance of conservative think tanks and political committees formed in late April to end state lockdowns implemented in response to the pandemic. Other members of the coalition include the FreedomWorks Foundation, the American Legislative Exchange Council and Tea Party Patriots.
A pandemic disaster, brought to you by deeply politicized right-wing billionaires.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020


I think we've all followed this story with a mix of amusement and horror:
A Houston doctor who praises hydroxychloroquine and says that face masks aren’t necessary to stop transmission of the highly contagious coronavirus has become a star on the right-wing internet, garnering tens of millions of views on Facebook on Monday alone. Donald Trump Jr. declared the video of Stella Immanuel a “must watch,” while Donald Trump himself retweeted the video.

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

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

She alleges alien DNA is currently used in medical treatments, and that scientists are cooking up a vaccine to prevent people from being religious. And, despite appearing in Washington, D.C. to lobby Congress on Monday, she has said that the government is run in part not by humans but by “reptilians” and other aliens.
If a Democratic presidential challenger -- never mind a president -- gave credence to a person like this, every Democrat in Washington would be pressed to disavow the endorsement. As far as I know, no Republicans are being asked about Trump's retweet.

Dr. Immanuel's speech has been removed from Facebook and Twitter. That means, of course, that on the Trumpist right the party line is that she's a hero and a free-speech martyr.
Immanuel’s video was embraced by the Trumps, conservative student group Turning Point USA, and pro-Trump personalities like Diamond & Silk.

Is this the future of the GOP?

Okay -- maybe it's farfetched to imagine Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy embracing the notion that endometriosis is caused by sex with demons. But the party continues to move in an anti-science direction. Consider the possible next senator from the state of Kansas:

And if you think Kobach has become too much of an extremist on many issues to win, even in Kansas, please note that he's being heavily bankrolled by tech billionaire Peter Thiel.

In a few years, will opposition to mandatory vaccines be the default Republican position? As late as 2008, the Republicans ran a presidential candidate who acknowledged the problem of climate change and proposed to address it; now it's all but unthinkable for an ambitious Republican to recommend taking the climate seriously. So why shouldn't we imagine that vaccines are next, because freedom?

What's appalling about this is that Republican abandonment of science hasn't lost them any respect among the political elite. Mainstream journalists don't treat Republicans as fringe-dwellers, even though more and more of them are.

As the GOP blocks climate action, rejects vaccines, and increasingly flirts with crackpottery such as QAnon, mainstream media figures still treat Republicans as responsible governing partners. How far do Republicans have to go before it's generally acknowledged that they're unfit to hold office? Do they have to start talking about demon sex? Would they be shunned even then?


Bret Stephens imagines what the Republican Party will do if Donald Trump suffers a decisive loss in November.
The infighting will begin the moment Florida, North Carolina or any other must-win state for Trump is called for Joe Biden. It will pit two main camps against each other. On the right, it will be the What Were We Thinking? side of the party. On the further right, the Trump Didn’t Go Far Enough side. Think of it as a cage match between Marco Rubio and Tucker Carlson for the soul of the G.O.P.

Both sides will recognize that Trump was a uniquely incompetent executive who — as in his business dealings — always proved his own worst enemy, always squandered his luck, never learned from his mistakes, never grew in office. Both sides will want to wash their hands of the soon-to-be-former president, his obnoxious relatives, their intellectual vacuity and their self-dealing ways. And both will have to tread carefully around a wounded and bitter man who, like a minefield laid for some long-ago war, still has the power to kill anyone who missteps.

That’s where agreement ends. The What Were We Thinking? Republicans will want to hurry the party back to some version of what it was when Paul Ryan was its star. They’ll want to pretend that Trump never happened. They will organize a task force composed of former party worthies to write an election post-mortem, akin to what then-G.O.P. chair Reince Priebus did after 2012, emphasizing the need to repair relations with minorities, women and younger voters. They’ll talk up the virtues of Republicans as reformers and problem-solvers, not Know-Nothings and culture warriors.

The Didn’t Go Far Enough camp will make the opposite case. They’ll note that Trump never built the wall, never got U.S. troops out of the Middle East, never drained the swamp of Beltway corruption, ended NAFTA in name only, did Wall Street’s bidding at Main Street’s expense, and “owned the libs” on Twitter while losing the broader battle of ideas. This camp will seek a new champion: Trump plus a brain.

These are two deeply unattractive versions of the party of Lincoln, one feckless, the other fanatical. Even so, all who care about the health of American democracy should hold their noses and hope the feckless side prevails.
I used to believe that there'd be a Didn't Go Far Enough camp, and that it would prevail. Now I don't.

There's no doubt in my mind that the GOP will get worse. I'd love to believe that the Never Trumpers could succeed in their efforts to "burn it all down." It would be good for America if Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, and many of Trump's other enablers in the House and Senate went down to defeat. It would be helpful if a new Republican Party emerged that rejected Trumpism, white nationalism, and defiant ignorance.

But that won't happen. Even if Democrats sweep in 2020, the remaining Republicans will be Trumpist ultras. Fox News will still be built on a conflict narrative in which the greatest heroes are those who put up the maximum resistance to whatever the left, liberals, or even moderate Democrats want. So it will either be Trumpism without Trump or Trumpism with Trump (because he'll still tweet and still command respect from the vast majority of GOP voters, and he might even continue to hold rallies).

But won't he be perceived as, y'know, a loser? No. Stephens's mistake is to argue that Republican voters will agree that Trump lost because of something he did. But this is a party that still largely believes in a team of supervillains called the Deep State, which has spent four years on a project that makes D-Day or the moon landing look simple: defeating Trump by any means necessary. They believe George Soros, China, antifa, Black Lives Matter, John Bolton, Anthony Fauci, the U.S. military, the U.S. media, Joe Biden, the Portland Moms, Kathy Griffin, Twitter, Google, YouTube, and probably your local superarket with its mandatory mask policy are all part of a Conspiracy So Vast to crush Donald Trump at the polls. The virus was the bioweapon we needed. No loss, of whatever size, will persuade them that Trump bears any responsibility for his defeat. The fix was in.

And the mainstream media will probably confirm their beliefs. I believe this:

I believe it except that I don't think it will take a few years. I think this will be the conventional wisdom starting on Election Night, if not earlier. Here was the headline of a piece by Michael Kruse at Politico yesterday:

Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic is what’s principally sinking his approval ratings and chances at the ballot box, but it’s true as well that all but gone is so much of what fueled Trump’s bid four years back—the freewheeling ability to hopscotch the country, the long lines and the packed venues, the relentless trolling of his equally mobile rival. These tools he used to foment such fervor have been rendered moot....
When much of the right believes that the coronavirus was engineered in a Chinese laboratory -- possibly with Dr. Fauci's assistance -- and also believes (as does the president) that China could have easily prevented its global spread, no one will blame Trump for his loss. (Never mind the fact that Trump was trailing Joe Biden by considerable margins long before the pandemic began.

The mainstream press is also primed to shift to a "failed Biden presidency" narrative almost instantly after the election. In fact, it may already be happening. Again according to Politico, Biden's running mate selection process is already a failure:

The GOP won't need to change. It will still be pleasing to the base, and it will be increasingly appealing to mainstream opinion-shapers, who'll be content just to have Trump gone. (In this way, the MSM is likely to be more sympathetic to the remaining Trump enablers than the Lincoln Project is now.)

If Biden wins, Democrats need to be ready for these immediate efforts to put them on the defensive -- and we all need to be ready for a media campaign to rehabilitate the Republican Party without ever holding it accountable.

Monday, July 27, 2020


I had hopes for this Washington Post opinion piece by Brian Klaas, titled "Here’s How to Prepare for Trump Rejecting the Election Results in November." Klaas has coauthored a book called How to Rig an Election; he knows what happens when elections results are disputed in other countries.

Some of his advice is not bad, if obvious:
... the media should do more to educate voters about election administration. Trump’s lies about election procedures work when people don’t understand the process. For example, Trump tried to attack mail-in ballots while saying that he has no issue with absentee ballots, even though no-fault absentee ballots and mail-in voting are exactly the same thing.

... state and local election officials should do more contingency planning for a pandemic election. Things will go wrong. The more preparations are done now, the fewer examples Trump and his allies can cherry-pick to make false claims of being the victim of an unfair vote.
But a couple of his recommendations just wouldn't work in America today.
First, we need a bipartisan pact endorsing the results. Incumbents who reject results solely because they lost tend to get more traction when their party backs them uniformly. When cracks show, the self-serving farce falls apart. Democrats and Republicans who believe in democracy should agree to immediately and publicly accept the election results (barring any major irregularities).

All living former presidents should be involved.
All living former presidents? Here's the complete list: three Democrats, all of whom are regarded by American right-wingers as among the worst people who ever lived (Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama), plus George W. Bush, a Republican who's now regarded by Trumpists as a suspect "globalist" and crypto-Democratic member of the Deep State. They would have credibility with all the people who didn't vote for Trump, but with hardly any of the people who did.
It would also be particularly helpful to ensure that former members of the Trump administration — such as John Kelly, H.R. McMaster and Jim Mattis — are on board. The broader the coalition, the more Trump’s desperate ploy would be exposed for what it is.
Kelly, McMaster, and Mattis? Omigod, more Deep Staters! Not one of them would command the respect of the Trump base if they challenged the God Emperor's take on how the voting went.

And yes, this sounds nice in theory...
Second, shore up public confidence with oversight. State election officials can conduct quick randomized audits and release results that demonstrate the integrity of the process. Many states do not automatically mandate such audits, but there is still time to expand them before November.
But the very states where Trump will challenge the results are the ones where Trumpist officeholders will probably choose to sow doubt about the outcome rather than express confidence in the process. I think secretaries of state will defend their work. But GOP governors and state legislators won't back them up if they think there's an angle to be played.

And this is a terrible idea:
... while some states have put up roadblocks to independent international election observers in the past, now would be a good time to welcome them with open arms. They might shine an embarrassing light on any state’s electoral failings, but can quickly debunk false claims of manipulation made by losers.
I don't think it would be a terrible idea in a rational world. I'd actually like to see UN observers reporting on election procedures in, say, Brian Kemp's Georgia.

But if you want right-wing militias out in the streets, persuaded that the One Worlders' takeover of America has begun and we're at war, then send international observers to supervise elections in the red states. Maybe there wouldn't be masses of wingnuts with AR-15s physically preventing the observers from doing their jobs, but I wouldn't bet against it.

Klaas's final bit of advice is his best:
Finally, it would help if the margin was clear and court rulings were swift and decisive to uphold democracy. As professor Sarah Birch, author of “Electoral Violence, Corruption, and Political Order,” told me: “Malawi provides a good example of a country that recently weathered a contentious election more successfully than many observers had expected.” Even though the president tried to manipulate the vote — and even tried to cancel it — “the clear margin of victory of the winner together with the resoluteness of the courts in insisting on adhering to democratic electoral norms” blunted the damage done by the losing incumbent.
I don't know how much we can count on the courts in the America of Trump, Mitch McConnell and Leonard Leo, but nothing will blunt Trump's efforts to the steal the election as effectively as kicking his ass by many millions of votes. Gray eminences and international institutions won't get the job done.


Axios reports that the president's new plan to make people like him is to take credit for all upcoming good medical news on the pandemic.
Top Trump advisers and GOP leadership have told the president in recent weeks that he needs to switch gears on the coronavirus and go all in on messaging about progress on vaccines and therapeutics....

They see this new strategy of leaning hard into the progress on therapeutics and vaccine R&D as the fastest way to restore confidence in Trump and avoid having the election be a referendum on his handling of the pandemic.

The plan: When scientists and health care researchers make big strides on vaccine and therapeutic development, the White House wants Trump at the podium, delivering the good news himself.

... The White House wants Trump to speak directly to the American people and have them make no mistake that this is coming from him — not Dr. Deborah Birx or Dr. Anthony Fauci.

... "If you get ill from COVID, you have a significantly lower chance of getting seriously ill or dying since we have remdesivir, convalescent plasma, and steroids to treat the virus — which we didn’t have in the early stages of the outbreak," a White House official said.

... "We are making significant progress on a vaccine and working simultaneously on a distribution plan so that when we reach it we can get it to hundreds of millions of people immediately," the official told Axios.
Yes, but:
It's nearly impossible that a vast majority of the public will have access to a vaccine by 2021, let alone before the election. And that assumes a vaccine proves to work....

Therapeutics are still in development, and many have shown promising leads. But the timeframe for getting these to market before Nov. 3 is a very ambitious goal, and none — including remdesivir — have come close to presenting a cure to the virus.
So this is the genius plan: Trump should go out there every night and do his Power of Positive Thinking selling act for the American people, despite the fact that huge breakthroughs probably aren't imminent.

In the work world, even if we're not in sales jobs, ordinary schlubs like us are told, "Don't overpromise and underdeliver." Don't say you can finish the project in two days when you know you'll need closer to a week, because then you'll have to tell people it's late.

But Trump thinks it's good to overpromise and underdeliver. In his pre-presidential, pre-pandemic past, that wasn't a problem for him -- he provided so much copy for his favorite New York journalists that most people would forget a story about him that had turned embarrassing because he was already on to the next publicity stunt.

But it doesn't work that way when you're the president of the United States and you're talking about an issue that's literally life or death for every American.

We know Trump can't do "cautiously optimistic" -- he'll describe anything that's in the works as the miracle cure, coming to your pharmacy any minute now.

The breakthroughs won't be breakthroughs. They'll be incremental improvements in treatment that save a few more lives. But meanwhile, outbreaks will continue to happen, death tolls will remain high, and we'll have a new wave of horror stories as some schools open in the fall.

Maybe this will work for Trump as we get closer to a vaccine. Maybe he'll be able to claim credit even if the vaccine won't be ready for public consumption until 2021.

But in the interim, he'll be telling America that the crisis is basically wrapping up, and it will be clear that that's not the case. Eventually he'll get bored with this approach -- how many alleged breakthroughs will there be to announce? -- and move on to some other form of information management. Whatever happens, it'll always be about information management for the Trumpers, because, as "a source close to the Trump campaign" makes clear in the Axios story, he and his team see the pandemic as primarily a public relations problem.
"The polling has been clear on this stuff. People want Trump to take it seriously. And I do think this past week was probably the first week in a couple of months since the [George] Floyd protests started where I thought Trump won every single day of the week."
Yes, in the bubble, they believe "Trump won every single day" last week. Who wants to tell them that the American people want real efforts to save lives, not hype and happy talk? Who wants to tell them that Trump's inability to take the work (as opposed to the PR) seriously is why he didn't actually "win" any days last week?

Sunday, July 26, 2020


I don't know how seriously to take reports like this:
On the second Friday in June, a group of political operatives, former government and military officials, and academics quietly convened online for what became a disturbing exercise in the fragility of American democracy.

The group, which included Democrats and Republicans, gathered to game out possible results of the November election, grappling with questions that seem less far-fetched by the day: What if President Trump refuses to concede a loss, as he publicly hinted recently he might do? How far could he go to preserve his power? And what if Democrats refuse to give in?

“All of our scenarios ended in both street-level violence and political impasse,” said Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown law professor and former Defense Department official who co-organized the group known as the Transition Integrity Project. She described what they found in bleak terms: “The law is essentially ... it’s almost helpless against a president who’s willing to ignore it.”
This Boston Globe story doesn't give us a lot of details about how the secenarios unfolded. We're told that Trump was forcibly escorted out of the White House at the end of one. In three of the four scenarios, Joe Biden won the Electoral College. Did Trump manage to cling to power after any of those wins? It's not clear.

At least some of the participants in this exercise were well known. Few are named, but the Republicans were anti-Trumpers -- two who are identified were Bill Kristol and Colin Powell's former chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson. We're also told that the participants included " a former swing state governor" (I suspect it was John Kasich), "a former White House chief of staff, and a former head of the Department of Homeland Security."

This certainly seems plausible:
In the scenarios, the team playing the Trump campaign often questioned the legitimacy of mail-in ballots, which often boosted Biden as they came in — shutting down post offices, pursuing litigation, and using right-wing media to amplify narratives about a stolen election.
But one participant -- possibly speaking for others -- really seemed to misread the country.
“The more demonstrations there were, the more demands for recounts, the more legal challenges there were, the more funerals for democracy were held, the more Trump came across as the candidate of stability,” said Edward Luce, the US editor of the Financial Times, who played the role of a mainstream media reporter during one of the simulations.
Donald Trump has many weapons at his disposal if he wants to try to cling to power after an election loss, but the general impression that he's a figure of stability is not one of them. He's trying to make that case right now by sending armed provocateurs into major cities. This is stirring the blood of Trump's base, but the rest of the country appears to be reacting with indifference -- Trump's job approval numbers continue to be awful, and his numbers in a matchup with Biden aren't getting better.

If Trump steals this election, it won't be because he wins respect as the strongman in a turbulent nation. It'll be because no one knows how to prevent him from doing legally indefensible things that the majority of Americans don't want done. It'll be because he has the Supreme Court, the U.S. Senate, and Rpublican-controlled state legislatures on his side, and no one can force them to acknowledge or ratify Biden victories in key states. Under these circumstances, Trump will continue to be widely hated, and to be seen as having driven the nation into a state of chaos, but he might emerge from the chaos having manipulated his way to a second term, with the help of people much smarter than he is, and nearly as amoral -- William Barr, Mitch McConnell, John Roberts -- along with lockstep loyalists in state governments.

Besides, Trump doesn't really want to be a stabilizing influence. He may think he does, but what he really wants is what he enjoys so much on Fox: endless conflict, with people like him depicted as heroes fighting a never-ending battle against the forces of pure evil. A public that doesn't want that seems prepared to defeat him decisively. Let's hope we succeed.

Saturday, July 25, 2020


Many of you believe that the Lincoln Project is a Trojan horse designed to insinuate itself into the Democratic Party and steer it to the right -- it may help depose Trump, but it will leave the rest of the GOP intact. Call me naive, but I believe the Project's founders and allies when they say they're disgusted with the Republican Party and want to reform it. I'm not saying I'd like the party they hope to create, which would undoubtedly favor huge military budgets and overseas adventurism while rejecting regulation, increased taxation on the wealthy, and government social programs. But in some areas, I think the party the Lincoln Project wants to create would be at least be a slight improvement over the current GOP.

As Max Boot notes, Stuart Stevens, a former Republican consultant, now calls the GOP "a white grievance party” and acknowledges that “there is an ugly history of code words and dog whistles in the party.” Boot writes,
If you accept Stevens’s searing critique of the Republican Party — and I do — then it is incumbent on the Lincoln Project to target not just Trump but also his enablers. That’s just what it has done with commercials such as this one urging the defeat of Republican senators.
I think the ad is sincere:

But I also think it's too late. Trump might be on the way out, and Democrats might be on the verge of retaking the Senate, but the Republican Party that remains -- a party that still commands the respect of a majority of white American voters -- appears to be getting crazier and crazier.

At least 14 candidates affiliated with QAnon will be on ballots nationwide in November.

This weekend, the right-leaning Sinclair group of television stations will air an interview with a prominent COVID-19 conspiratorialist.
Local television stations owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group are set to air a conspiracy theory over the weekend that suggests Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top expert on infectious diseases, was responsible for the creation of the coronavirus.

The baseless conspiracy theory is set to air on stations across the country in a segment during the program "America This Week" hosted by Eric Bolling....

In this week's episode of the show, Bolling spoke with Judy Mikovits, the medical researcher featured in the discredited "Plandemic" video that went viral earlier this year and which was banned from platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. Throughout the segment, the on-screen graphic read, "DID DR. FAUCI CREATE COVID-19?" ...

During the interview Mikovitz told Bolling that Fauci had over the past decade "manufactured" and shipped coronaviruses to Wuhan, China, which became the original epicenter of the current outbreak. Bolling noted that this was a "hefty claim," but did not meaningfully challenge Mikovits and allowed her to continue making her case.
Bolling, of course, is a former Fox News host who resigned in disgrace after sexual harassment allegations surfaced. The Plandemic video argues, falsely, that "If you've ever had a flu vaccine, you were injected with coronaviruses," that vaccines increase susceptibility to COVID-19 by 36%, and that "Wearing the mask literally activates your own virus. You're getting sick from your own reactivated coronavirus expressions." Before the video was removed from YouTube and social media platforms, it had more than eight million views, after being promoted by, among others, QAnon influencers and the Reopen movement.

And a story that appeared this week as part of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch coverage reminds us that a new right is being built out of a toxic combination of racist extremism, crackpottery, and new conservative media outlets:
Jack Posobiec, a correspondent for One America News Network (OANN), ... produced a segment for OANN in September 2018 in which he interviewed “Microchip,” who was at that time a pseudonymous contributor to the white-supremacist-friendly website Gab. Microchip achieved notoriety during Trump’s 2016 run for president for his involvement in a number of high-profile disinformation campaigns. Posobiec also linked his Twitter followers to Microchip’s Gab feed at least five times after the interview was aired, archives show. Microchip posted statements to Gab prior to being interviewed on OANN that celebrated Hitler, and alluded to terrorism and murder.

“I wish [Atomwaffen Division] had survived. They did great work in scaring the living shit out of everyone,” the person behind the Microchip Gab account wrote on July 24, 2018, across two posts. “We need more hatred and fear. Everyone needs to stop being such f------ p------.”

Atomwaffen Division is a terroristic neo-Nazi group responsible for at least five murders in the U.S. since 2017. On July 14, John Cameron Denton of Atomwaffen Division, who goes by the online moniker “Rape,” pled guilty to charges related to “swatting” journalists, which means calling police on false grounds to the homes of people in an effort to provoke accidental violence against them....

Posobiec based the OANN segment with Microchip on claims the pseudonymous personality made about inventing “QAnon,” along with the help of one other person....

Posobiec has an apparent personal connection to Microchip that goes beyond interviewing him on OANN. Posobiec referred to what he claimed was the creator of QAnon as his friend in a tweet he published on March 8, 2019. He made the claim six months after he produced the segment reporting that Microchip created QAnon with another person.
Which reminds me of another story that appeared last week:
The head of the New York Police Department's second-largest police union gave a television interview Friday afternoon while sitting in front of a mug emblazoned with QAnon imagery and slogans.

The mug was positioned behind Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, during a roughly seven-minute interview on the Fox News show "Your World with Neil Cavuto." ...

The mug behind Mullins featured the word "QANON" and the hashtag #WWG1WGA, which stands for "where we go one, we go all," a popular slogan among QAnon supporters. At the center of the mug was a large letter Q....
The Lincoln Project isn't the future of conservatism and the Republican Party -- this toxic brew of nuttery and racism is the future. I enjoy the Lincoln Project's work, but I don't think the party the Project's members and allies want to save can be made respectable again. It's too far gone.


UPDATE: Sinclair has reversed course.
The Sinclair Broadcast Group ... said Saturday it will postpone and rework a segment it planned to air this weekend that suggested Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, was responsible for the creation of the coronavirus....

In a memo sent to its local television stations on Saturday, Sinclair instructed news directors to avoid airing for now the most recent episode of Bolling's show, which was supposed to include the conspiracy theory.
... Media Matters has found that the segment already aired on at least one local station based in Charleston, West Virginia.

And they still plan to inject this poison into the conversation, but in a way that appears "responsible."
"After further review of this week's originally planned episode, it's clear that we need to provide additional context to the highly controversial segment regarding the COVID pandemic and Dr. Fauci," Scott Livingston, Sinclair's senior vice president of news, wrote in the memo, which was obtained by CNN Business.

"In order to meet our standard of providing an open and honest marketplace of ideas and viewpoints, even if incredibly controversial," Livingston added, "we will need to rework the segment to ensure viewers get the best information available.
How about not airing it and issuing a correction wherever it was already viewed? This is on the same level as flat-eartherism. It doesn't need to be presented with "additional context." Its advocates need to be shunned.

Friday, July 24, 2020


In The Washington Post, Trump bootlicker Marc Thiessen writes:
President Trump is a marketing genius, who plasters his name on literally everything — Trump hotels, Trump high-rises, Trump wines, Trump Steaks, Trump water, Trump mattresses, Trump vodka, Trump board games, Trump Magazine, a Trump airline and a Trump University.
Most of these products failed, so the word "genius" clearly does not mean what Thiessen thinks it means. But let's continue.
So why not Trump masks?

On his campaign website, you can buy Trump-branded straws, beverage coolers, pens, Christmas ornaments and dog collars. But there are no Trump masks to be found on the site. Some private entrepreneurs are selling red “Make America Great Again” masks, but not Trump. It seems as though the president is missing a “yuge” marketing opportunity.

He’s also missing a huge political opportunity. Imagine how differently things would have played out at his Tulsa, Okla., rally if, instead of removing signs from seats asking participants to social distance, his campaign had left up the signs and handed out MAGA masks to everyone who entered. Rather than fending off criticism about how the rally was a third empty, the arena would have been filled to its socially distanced capacity with a sea of Trump supporters wearing MAGA masks.
Except that Trump's people wouldn't have worn masks, because they believe the pandemic is a hoax, are certain the virus is no more dangerous than the flu, and assume that we evil libs will drop the subject ten minutes after the polls close on November 3, because defeating Trump is the only reason they think we're talking about it now.

But Thiessen is on to something.
Trump’s goal should be to make MAGA masks to the 2020 election what MAGA hats were to the 2016 election. Doing so will help protect the country — and help him win a second term.
Why didn't Trump try to position himself as the solution to this problem? It worked for Thiessen's former boss, George W. Bush (Thiessen was a Bush speechwriter). Bush ignored warning sabout 9/11, then rebranded himself as the post-9/11 war president. Most of America gave Bush a mulligan for missing the signs of an impending terrorist attack. Trump could have been perceived as the master of the pandemic -- most Americans would have given him credit even if he hadn't been effective, just as long as he seemed to be trying to do a good job.

But you can always tell when a candidate is losing by the fact that the candidate's fans in the media keep concocting ways the campaign could be run better. Thiessen is not a smart guy, but he's smarter than Trump on this subject. MAGA masks would have lowered the infection rate and the death count. Alas for Thiessen, his so-called market genius wasn't smart enough to realize that.


The Trump campaign keeps trying to make an issue of Joe Biden's mental acuity. There's some reason to be concerned -- at times Biden struggles to remember words in a way that could suggest impairment (or could just suggest that he has a normal older person's difficulty with word memory, something I've experienced since I was about fifty, as have most people my age, with no other evidence of decline).

President Trump rarely gropes for words -- as we've seen in his many recent interviews and off-the-cuff diatribes, he just talks and talks. The words flow.

But sometimes they're odd words. A couple of years ago, he said, "I have the best words." That's ... not normal English. Repeatedly, on Twitter, he's called himself a "stable genius" or a "very stable genius." We're used to Trump's massive ego (which itself seems like a mental impairment), but who would put these words together and expect them to be received as an ordinary boast, rather than a denial that he's volatile and ignorant?

This seems like a serious mental impairment: Trump seems incapable of understanding how his words and deeds are received. Lately he's been boasting about the results of the cognitive exam he took a couple of years ago. As Steve Benen notes, in a Fox interview that aired this week, his questioner, Dr. Marc Siegel, fed Trump a question designed to get the president talking about the cognitive test.
According to the transcript, Siegel initially asked Trump to reflect on what "should come out" about Joe Biden's health. It was, to be sure, a curious question.

But not as curious as the president's answer. To demonstrate how difficult he found the cognitive exam, Trump said the administrator read him a list of five random words, which he was expected to read back. In this case, the Republican listed five nouns: "Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV."

... the president said ... that he was able to recite the five random words, both immediately after hearing them and then again 10 to 20 minutes later. Trump boasted, “They say, ‘That’s amazing. How did you do that?’ I do it because I have, like, a good memory, because I’m cognitively there."

As part of the same celebration of himself, the president added, “They said nobody gets [the five words] in order. It’s actually not that easy, but for me, it was easy."
Since this was Fox, where I assume most interviews with favored subjects are structured to elicit predetermined answers, it's clear that Fox and Trump wanted this answer to be a key part of the interview -- or at least that Trump wanted this out there and Fox dutifully complied. (Remember, the tough Chris Wallace interview wasn't on Fox News -- it was on the Fox broadcast network. Wallace is a token objective reporter in the Fox news operation, kept on as window dressing to shield the biased nature of the rest.)

The problem with Trump's incessant talk about this cognitive test is that we know the test isn't difficult. Chris Wallace said so in the Fox News Sunday interview. This has been widely reported elsewhere. Those of us who've watched elderly parents take the test, or similar tests, know that it's designed to measure cognitive decline, not brilliance.

Yet Trump keeps portraying it as a mark of genius. What mental impairment does he have that makes it impossible for him to perceive how his words are received? Or does he seriously not understand that the test is easy for anyone with normal cognitive function? Why can't he learn that?

For that matter, why can't he learn that tariffs are passed off to consumers, not paid directly out of national treasuries? I would assume that Trump is trying to bamboozle the public about how tariffs work, but he mischaracterizes them so often, and so insistently, that it's hard to believe he genuinely understands how they work.

And then there's his take on coronavirus testing.

We know that the narcissistic Trump finds the pandemic embarrassing -- he had everything going great, low unemployment, booming stock market, and then this came along. We know he's incapable of empathy (another mental impairment) and doesn't feel anything when he's told about death and suffering in the pandemic.

But beyond that, he seems unable to grasp the purpose of widespread testing. You test for a deadly contagious disease in order to limit its spread until its transmission is reduced to very low numbers. I don't think Donald Trump can follow that sequence of events. I don't believe he's a denialist exactly -- a person who thinks the virus is no worse than the flu. I think he can't wrap his mind around the way viruses spread and the way testing helps human beings to contain that spread. A reasonably intelligent grade schooler can grasp it, but there's no sign that Trump can.

This is more worrisome to me than Joe Biden groping for the occasional word. I don't think it's mental decline -- I question whether Donald Trump could ever think or reason like a normal person. And yet he's president.

Thursday, July 23, 2020


President Trump just announced that the portions of the Republican National Convention that he abruptly switched to Jacksonville, Florida, won't take place there after all.
President Donald Trump announced Thursday that there will not be Republican convention activities in Jacksonville, Florida....

"I looked at my team and I said the timing for this event is not right. It's just not right," Trump said at the White House. "To have a big convention, it's not the right time."

"There's nothing more important in our country than keeping our people safe," Trump said.

He said he would still deliver a convention speech but in a "different form."
Trump pulled the convention (or at least its main events) from Charlotte, North Carolina, in a snit in early June, after the Democratic governor expressed health concerns about the indoor event. On June 11, he announced that the main events would take place in Jacksonville. It was reported this week that that wasn't enough time for the city and county to prepare, especially given the pandemic, as well as the unprofessionalism of Trump's party, which can't even offer a schedule of events.
The sheriff of Jacksonville, Fla., said he can’t provide security for the Republican National Convention because of a lack of clear plans, adequate funding and enough law enforcement officers.

“As we're talking today, we are still not close to having some kind of plan that we can work with that makes me comfortable that we're going to keep that event and the community safe,” Duval County Sheriff Mike Williams told POLITICO....

Williams said the event, scheduled for Aug. 24-27, was announced in June, giving his agency little time to plan and prepare. The Republican National Committee has not yet nailed down which convention events will be at which venues, making it more challenging. And a pledged $50 million grant has been paired back to $33 million and, Williams said, there are strings attached that make letting contracts too difficult.
Jacksonville's city council president expressed his opposition to the convention this week. Polls showed that a majority of Jacksonville residents also opposed holding the convention in their city.

At Free Republic, many commenters are in despair -- they're certain that the president is falling for a hoax.
Trump is compromised.

Well, I am shocked he lasted as long as he did.

Goodbye America.


So now he is playing into the hoax narrative.

This is what the DNC wanted.

Very disappointed.


I think that Trump is way too gullible. It is obvious that the numbers of dead are way off. False information.

People died of the flu, pneumonia and the chinese virus plus anyone with the virus but died of others causes including to much to drink .55 <-8 times over the legal limit, and shot and getting hit by a car.

Next he will call off the debates and knuckle under to the democrats.


The GOPee has a [anit-Trump] Death Wish that they are acting on.

The GOPee face the abyss of obsolescence similar to the NFL.


The primary goal of the Democrat-Media-Oligarch "COVID Southern Strategy" has now been achieved.

The "record cases!!!" panic (with almost NO deaths) was brilliantly engineered by the Uniparty globalists to stop ANY Trump rallies or convention, and keep Biden in his basement -- including NO IN PERSON DEBATES -- to deny Trump the target his campaign style demands.

Pray, folks. With tech overlords in full co-op, we are in big, BIG trouble.


The odds of dying from Corona Virus is 0.005.
The odds of dying in an auto accident is 0.014.

You have a bigger chance of getting killed in a car than from this Chinese flu. Yet, no one is shutting down cars!


He cancelled Jacksonville for "safety". What's next? Mail in voting?


Florida has 2 million more people than NY, but the same number of COVID deaths as tiny Connecticut.

If Gov. Ron DeSantis was a Democrat, the NYTimes would be championing him as a national hero and Democrats would be touting him for president


Democrat plan worked. They made Florida the epicenter because he chose there. if he chooses another place it will be the next outbreak.
But at Gateway Pundit, most commenters think this was a chess move of unqualified brilliance:
Antifa and BLM must be disappointed, they don't get to destroy Jacksonville.


I think you NAILED it! I have a huge suspicion that was the real reason, the shamdemic was just a cover!


Showing how much he loves our country and people. He didn't want more destruction where "they" were looking forward to destroying a city that wasn't Democratic as all others have been so far.


Funny, I seem to be hearing some loud whaling from some in DC & elsewhere, yelling "He foiled us again"!


Decisions like this are almost always multi-faceted. I think this is a wise move on Trump's part -- he's taking some of the wind out of Antifa and BLM's sails, and preventing the media from creating unnecessary diversions by whining about the convention.


Look for antifa and blm "supplies" going real cheap on craigslist now in Jacksonville.


Nothing to do with COVID. President Trump is improving in the poles and does not need to give the Ds any chance to upstage the convention. They are trying to create a Kent State event to turn public opinion against him.


I would have to say that we are a nation at war, I have no doubt that the left has plans to ramp up the violence, murder, and mayhem. In these times, I get very concerned when Trump is in public. like a rally or convention. They are gunning for him, literally.


It is entirely possible someone takes a shot.

In this environment it is actually surprising that it hasn't yet happened.


Oh they have... Even with a missile. They scope out the area weeks in advance and place lookouts and snipers all over.

He's well protected.


Yeah, but no one has called for defunding the Secret Service, yet.


Given the level of Obama infiltration, I don't think any government agency can be trusted now.


Trump had to open back up these moronic pressers and cancel the convention to garner votes from the "Mushy Middle" and the hysterical housewives. That's a fact Jack. That includes canceling the convention. The Leftist media can't have even a small box of ammo for the next three months! It's a sad thing to watch, but it's got to be done.


Yep the housewives have gone bananas. I hate to sound sexist but I can see why the framers kept women from voting. Not saying its right.....but I understand!


When you have no skin in the game it all boils down to emotion. Madison et al knew what they were doing.


Spot on. It is all about the female vote.

The 19th amendment will eventually doom this nation, but hopefully not yet.
So is Trump one of the sheeple now? Or is he playing 11-dimensional chess against Antifa, Black Lives Matter, the media, and (ick!) women (who shouldn't vote)?

You decide!