Friday, October 23, 2020

Something to Know - 23 October

If you know that only 11 days remain until election day, then you pretty much know what is going on.   Finding something hidden, or the emergence of an October Surprise, neither of which look like they are going to happen.  Sure, there are factual accounts of foreign interference, but speculative talk is difficult to determine the actual impact.   The only thing that is worrisome is interference in the reporting of ballot counting results.   If the content of Trump's tax records are made public, that would be a big news story, but unlikely to happen before the election.   I am going to suggest that the meme of the Democrats, going forward after the election, is a giant Claw Hammer; symbolic of what is going to be needed to undo and smash the damage done by the Republican Party (Trump, the enablers, and Moscow Mitch).

aluminum hammer - claw hammer stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Today had two important takeaways:

Intelligence officials warned today that Russia recently hacked into our local and state computer networks. This could compromise our voting infrastructure. Intelligence officials believe our adversaries will try to help Trump, possibly by casting doubt on the voting results. While the administration has tried to insist that Iran and China are as significant a threat, experts disagree. Yesterday, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe identified Iran as the originator of fake emails purporting to be the from the alt-right gang the Proud Boys warning Democrats to vote for Trump, but the information they used for the enterprise was all public. Russia, though, has hacked our private election systems, making officials worry that it could change or delete voter data, throwing people off the rolls or invalidating mail-in ballots.

Bottom line on tonight's final presidential debate: Trump needed to move the needle in his direction. He didn't. Biden needed not to lose voters. He didn't. The debate will likely not change the trajectory of the election.

If you need a break after this week's news hurricane, you can quit reading right here.

For those sticking around….

This was not a good day for the president's reelection campaign. He seemed unable to get over how angry he was at Lesley Stahl from CBS's 60 Minutes after yesterday's interview for a special program Sunday evening, and ultimately decided to post on Facebook the video the White House took during it. Trump's team had said they were recording "for archival purposes only," and posting the video meant Trump violated his agreement with the network.

Trump seemed to think showing the clip would illustrate how poorly the media treats him, but in fact it shows Stahl behaving professionally, asking solid questions and fact-checking the president, while Trump argues and denigrates her. If the clip was supposed to generate sympathy for him, it backfired.

The debate did him no favors either. Debate moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News was far more effective at keeping control over the debate than the previous two moderators were, especially at first, when the two men appeared to be afraid of her cutting their mics. Trump could not contain himself for long, though, and slipped pretty quickly back into talking over Welker and Biden both. Still, he was far more restrained than he was at the first debate.

More significantly, he made little effort to use his time to connect with voters. He focused simply on badgering Biden and rehearsing the talking points that have become almost set pieces in his performances. They are not entirely comprehensible to someone who is not reading or watching right-wing media, but they are quite shockingly full of lies. And while his language is familiar to his usual audience, it is unlikely to attract new voters, who will likely be confused at best and, possibly, bored after hearing the same phrases for so long.

While Biden, too, strayed from the truth on occasion, CNN fact checker Daniel Dale put it this way: "For a fact checker, you're kind of sitting there w/Biden. Occasionally you're like oh that's wrong. With Trump you're like the 'I Love Lucy' episode in the chocolate factory. You don't know which one to pick up because there's just so much." He noted, "From a lying perspective, Trump is even worse tonight than in the first debate."

Trump did not make much of a case for his reelection tonight. He seemed to have no plans for what he would like to accomplish in a second term, although he did say he hoped to create a new healthcare plan (he has said repeatedly he already has one). He mocked Biden for talking about the so-called "kitchen table issues" that are important to ordinary voters, and insisted that Biden should have done everything he talks about accomplishing in the future back when he was vice president under President Barack Obama. At one point, Trump talked about what he would do "when I become president."

For his part, Biden largely ignored Trump's wild answers and tried to outline his policies, which he described with more detail than clarity, but which were interesting nonetheless because they offered something new when compared with Trump's rote performance, worn thin by familiarity. Biden had no major slips. Trump pounced on Biden's declaration that the nation must transition away from oil, instantly responding, "Will you remember that Texas, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Ohio?" But Pennsylvania and Ohio produce just a tiny bit of crude oil—they are both primarily natural gas states—and Trump's identification of Texas and Oklahoma was a self-own. He is worried about carrying Texas and Oklahoma?

Most telling was that Trump was unprepared for Welker's final, excellent but softball question: if they were to be elected, what would they say on Inauguration Day to voters who did not support them. Trump claimed that rebuilding the economy "to make our country totally successful as it was prior to the plague coming over from China" would bring Americans together, and then pivoted to attacking Biden, warning that if he were elected, "you will have a depression the likes of which you've never seen."

Biden, though, recognized that Welker had deliberately lobbed them the opportunity to make a final pitch to voters. He promised to represent all voters, not just those who voted for him, and promised to put "science over fiction" and "hope over fear." "We're going to choose to move forward because we have enormous opportunities, enormous opportunities to make things better," he said. "We can grow this economy, we can deal with the systemic racism, and at the same time we can make sure that our economy is being run and moved and motivated by clean energy creating millions of new jobs. That's the fact."

On the ballot this year, he said, are "Decency, honor, respect, treating people with dignity, making sure that everyone has an even chance, and I'm going to make sure you get that."

Instant polls gave the debate to Biden by the same margins showing in the polls in general. CNN had Biden at 53% and Trump at 39%; Data Progress had Biden at 52% and Trump at 41%; US Politics had Biden at 52% and Trump at 39%.

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Juan

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Something to Know - 19 October

Today is a ho-hum feeling.  Bolstered by the polling of the election, but with a nervous glance back over the shoulder in memory of the 2016 election.   The weather here in Claremont, California is trending cooler (finally), and the Dodgers are in the world series again.   I would hope that the people who keep filling the air with political advertising realize that most of us have already voted, and should stop with the incessant noise.  Watching pre-recorded programming and my remote's mute button are helping to navigate the minefield of irritation.

Today reinforced some of the developing storylines of the 2020 election.

Last night, at a rally in Michigan, Trump once again attacked Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer for locking down her state in the early days of the pandemic. When the crowd started to chant "Lock her up!" Trump responded: "Lock them all up!" Just ten days ago, the FBI arrested eight men plotting to kidnap Whitmer and put her on trial for "treason." Whitmer called Trump out for "inspiring and incentivizing and inciting this kind of domestic terrorism." She told NBC, "It is wrong. It's got to end. It is dangerous, not just for me and my family, but for public servants everywhere who are doing their jobs and trying to protect their fellow Americans. People of goodwill on both sides of the aisle need to step up and call this out and bring the heat down."

Lara Trump, who is married to Eric Trump and is a senior advisor to the Trump campaign, disagreed. She told CNN's Jake Tapper, "Well, look, he wasn't doing anything, I don't think, to provoke people to threaten this woman at all…. He was having fun at a Trump rally." The Trump campaign then insisted that a small "8645" emblem on a table beside Whitmer during her television interview was "encouraging assassination attempts" against Trump. (To "86" something is slang for getting rid of it.) While observers have noted Trump's use of gaslighting—making someone believe something that is not true—another abusive pattern is "DARVO," which stands for "Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender."

Today, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that political officials in the Trump administration have restricted his media appearances. He also explained that he now has federal protection because of threats to his life, and to his wife and children. "That's sad," he told Jonathan Lapook of CBS's "60 Minutes," "The very fact that a public health message to save lives triggers such venom and animosity to me that it results in real and credible threats to my life and my safety."

The editorial board of the New York Times today ran a special section of the Sunday Review to explain to readers in thirteen essays why Trump "is unfit to lead the nation." The essays cover his corruption, incompetent statesmanship, attacks on women and minorities, rejection of science, and so on. The editorial introducing the issue begins: "Donald Trump's re-election campaign poses the greatest threat to American democracy since World War II." What follows is a blistering litany of the actions of the man who is "without any real rivals as the worst American president in modern history," the editors say. He is conducting "an intolerable assault on the very foundations of the American experiment in government by the people." The editorial concludes: "Mr. Trump is a man of no integrity. He has repeatedly violated his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States…. Now, in this moment of peril, it falls to the American people — even those who would prefer a Republican president — to preserve, protect and defend the United States by voting."

More Republicans who have appeared to move in lockstep with the president are distancing themselves from him. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) needs independents to swing his way in a tight race with Democrat MJ Hegar, a retired Air Force combat pilot. On Friday, Cornyn told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Editorial Board that his relationship with Trump was "maybe like a lot of women who get married and think they're going to change their spouse, and that doesn't usually work out very well." Cornyn claims to have stood up to Trump, but privately.

In all this there is nothing really new.

But there is a story that might have new information in it.

Last Wednesday morning, October 14, the tabloid New York Post ran a complicated and unbelievable story about Hunter Biden dropping off three laptops at a repair store and never going back for them, the FBI subpoenaing hard drives, and the repair shop owner making copies before turning them over and then giving the copies to Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who gave them to the New York Post. Allegedly, the material on the laptops was incriminating.

The story was pretty transparently bogus from the start, especially since Giuliani has been hanging around with Andrii Derkach, a Ukrainian lawmaker who, according to the Treasury Department, is a longtime Russian agent. According to the Treasury, Derkach has been working to promote "false and unsubstantiated narratives concerning U.S. officials in the upcoming 2020 election." Giuliani was an eager listener.

Today, Katie Robertson at the New York Times reported that the New York Post article was so suspect that its lead author refused to put his name on it. The two main sources for the story were Stephen Bannon, Trump's former advisor who is under federal indictment for fraud, and Giuliani. Giuliani said he took the story to the Post because "either nobody else would take it, or if they took it, they would spend all the time they could to try to contradict it before they put it out." One woman whose name finally appeared on the story is a former associate producer for Sean Hannity's show and has been at the newspaper only since April. The other did not work on the story and only discovered her name was on it after it was published. The New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal have all said they could not verify the story.

The startling new "revelations" about Hunter Biden mirror classic disinformation campaigns in Russia, and look a great deal like the last-minute "revelations" about Hillary Clinton's emails "discovered" on a laptop in Fall 2016, all of which later came to nothing. Former CIA officer Evan McMullin tweeted: "For weeks, there's been awareness in intel circles of Russian plans to return (with Trump) to their bogus Biden-Burisma narrative and, as I've warned, their plan to expand that to include bonkers pedophilia and human trafficking allegations against the Bidens. Don't fall for it!"

And yet, certain Republican lawmakers are running with the story. Republican Representative Lee Zeldin of New York tweeted that "Joe Needs to answer some questions ASAP about this dirty $ setup." Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) went onto the Fox News Channel to suggest that the computer at the center of this story, allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden, had child pornography on it. This prompted intelligence specialist Malcolm Nance to tweet: "Whoa. The Republicans tried to tie Hunter Biden to child pornography. This is a 100% FSB [Russian Intelligence Agency] tactic. The FSB ALWAYS claims/plants Child porn on their opponents."

For at least a year now, intelligence officers have warned us that Russia is interfering in this election, trying to swing it to Trump. Despite the fact that Trump's polling numbers are abysmal, our Electoral College system means that the swing of relatively few voters in key states could enable him to eke out a victory, just as he did in 2016. It is worth remembering that Trump's plan in 2020 has never been to win a majority; it has been to win by gaming the system. It seems to me also worth remembering that Trump has consistently refused either to criticize Russia or to acknowledge that Putin's agents are working to help him get reelected.

While many Trump campaign officials are already trying to blame each other for their candidate's apparent weakness, Trump and his loyalists remain adamant that he is going to win. They are allegedly taking names of those whom he considers insufficiently supportive. He is mad at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who has rejected the president's plans for a coronavirus relief bill and who publicly criticized the White House approach to the pandemic. He has gone after Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) for her coolness toward Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, and Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) for his condemnation of the president in a phone call with constituents. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), who has made his dislike for Trump clear in recent statements, is also on the outs.

Tim Murtaugh, communications director for the Trump campaign, says, "President Trump won in 2016 without the vocal support of the political insider crowd, and he's going to do it again. The President enjoys the support of over 90 percent of Republicans…."

It is certainly possible that the Trump campaign is putting a brave face on the terrible polls, but the ham-handed attempt to dump disinformation about the Bidens is an excellent reminder that foreign operatives have been trying to influence our elections since 2016, and they have not gone away.

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Notes:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/18/business/media/new-york-post-hunter-biden.html

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/fauci-covid-cases-increase-latest-60-minutes-2020-10-18/

https://www.thedailybeast.com/trumps-taking-down-names-as-republicans-like-mitch-mcconnell-susan-collins-start-jumping-ship

https://www.star-telegram.com/news/politics-government/article246503045.html

https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/18/politics/gretchen-whitmer-lara-trump-cnntv/index.html

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/michigan/2020/10/18/whitmer-asks-trump-cool-it-says-hes-inciting-domestic-terrorism/3702262001/

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/10/16/opinion/donald-trump-worst-president.html

Johnson:

https://www.npr.org/2020/09/11/911957914/giuliani-distances-himself-from-ukrainian-sanctioned-by-u-s-as-russian-agent

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/hunter-biden-laptop-new-york-post-story/

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Juan

The person who comes to our home to keep our yard looking well-tended and orderly pays more in taxes that our current president.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Something to Post in the White House

In consideration of an appropriate memoir to be left hanging on a wall, as a record of the 45th president, this image is offered.   
With the stipulation that it be removed on the 1st of April of the year 2021.   No other mention or reference will be allowed in
The White House of the gap between the 44th and the 46th.   Justice will be served as he watches from Federal Prison.




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Juan

The person who comes to our home to keep our yard looking well-tended and orderly pays more in taxes that our current president.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Something to See and Hear

A friend recommended this to all of you.  Thanks to Charlene Krueger 


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Juan

The person who comes to our home to keep our yard looking well-tended and orderly pays more in taxes that our current president.

Object in the Sky?

Look...up in the sky....IT'S.....

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Juan

The person who comes to our home to keep our yard looking well-tended and orderly pays more in taxes that our current president.

Something to Know - 16 October

Couple of things here.  First, is HCR and an overall view of yesterday's noteworthy political events.  The second one is about the "dueling town halls"  I was not going to watch either one, but then I tuned in to ABC and watched Biden.  I thought he did very well, and gave great chatty answers, and made no gaffes.   After the town halls were over, I got some glimpse as to what went on with NBC and Savannah Guthrie's questioning of #45.   I should have realized that what I have said before in that trump is his own worst enemy.   Giving him enough rope to talk, talk, talk, and he will step into his piles of mar-a-crappo every time; and he did.   If you are in the mood to watch the trump saga, this YouTube video will provide you with informative entertainment:


Trump Town Hall 10/15/20   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIBkKOKvpn4

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Juan

The person who comes to our home to keep our yard looking well-tended and orderly pays more in taxes that our current president.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Something to Know - 14 October

Monitoring voter suppression and all the nasty tricks one can imagine, the Republicans are desperate people doing desperate things.  I try not to be dragged into the swamp of analysis or discussion; it is not healthy.  HCR is here to provide the narrative on yesterday, and I saw this piece below from today's LA Times that concentrates attention to what I think is the only solid issue that Trump is guided by.  It is the center of his racism and follows the demented center of where Adolf Hitler stood.

Donald Trump Wearing Corona Virus Mask on Face Blinded Eyes Cartoon Vector Drawing. March 12 , 2020
We all must resist the horror of eugenics
By Adam Cohen
P oliticians often flatter their audiences, but at a rally in Bemidji, Minn., last month, President Trump found an unusual thing to praise about the nearly all-white crowd: its genetics. "You have good genes," he insisted . "A lot of it is about the genes, isn't it, don't you believe? The racehorse theory. ... You have good genes in Minnesota."
In case it was not clear from the sea of white faces that he was making a point about race, Trump later said the quiet part out loud. "Every family in Minnesota needs to know about Sleepy Joe Biden's extreme plan to flood your state with an influx of refugees from Somalia, from other places all over the planet," he declared.

Trump's ugly endorsement of race-based eugenics got national attention , but in a presidency filled with outrages, our focus quickly moved to the next. Besides, this wasn't the first time we'd heard about these views. A " Frontline"documentary reported in 2016 that Trump believed the "racehorse theory" of human development that he referred to in Minnesota — that superior men and women will have superior children.
That same year, the Huffington Post released a video collecting Trump's statements on human genetics, including his declarations that "I'm a gene believer" and "I'm proud to have that German blood."
On eugenics, as in so many areas, the scariest thing about Trump's views is not the fact that he holds them, but that there is no shortage of Americans who share them.

The United States has a long, dark history with eugenics. Starting in 1907, a majority of states passed laws authorizing the sterilization of people deemed to have undesirable genes, for reasons as varied as "feeblemindedness" and alcoholism. The Supreme Court upheld these laws by an 8-1 vote, in the infamous 1927 case Buck vs. Bell , and as many as 70,000 Americans were sterilized for eugenic reasons in the 20th century.
America's passion for eugenics waned after World War II, when Nazism discredited the idea of dividing people based on the quality of their genes. But in recent years, public support for eugenics has made a comeback. Steve King, a Republican congressman from Iowa, tweeted in 2017 , "We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies." The comment struck many as a claim that American children were genetically superior, though King later insisted he was concerned with "the culture, not the blood" of foreign babies.

Eugenics has also had a resurgence in England, where the movement was first launched in the 1880s by Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin. In February, Andrew Sabisky, an advisor to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, resigned after it was revealed that he had reportedly written blog posts suggesting that there are genetic differences in intelligence among races, and that compulsory contraception could be used to prevent the rise of a "permanent underclass." Richard Dawkins, one of Britain's most prominent scientists, added fuel to the fire by tweeting that although eugenics could be criticized on moral or ideological grounds, "of course" it would "work in practice." Eugenics "works for cows, horses, pigs, dogs & roses," he said. "Why on earth wouldn't it work for humans?"
There is reason to believe the eugenics movement will continue to grow. America's first embrace of it came at a time when immigration levels were high, and it was closely tied to fears that genetically "inferior" foreigners were hurting the nation's gene pool. Eugenicists persuaded Congress to pass the Immigration Act of 1924, which sharply reduced the number of Italian, Jewish and Asian people allowed in.

Today, the percentage of Americans who were born outside the United States is the highest it has been since 1910 , and fear of immigrants is again an animating force in politics. As our nation continues to become more diverse, the sort of xenophobia that fueled Trump's and King's comments is likely to produce more talk of "better" genes and babies.
It is critically important to push back against these toxic ideas. One way to do this is by ensuring that people who promote eugenics are denounced and kept out of positions of power.
It is encouraging that Sabisky was forced out and that King was defeated for reelection in his Republican primary in June. Hopefully, Trump will be the next to go.

Education, including an honest reckoning with our own tragic eugenics history, is another form of resistance. It is starting to happen: Stanford University just announced that it is removing the name of its first president, David Starr Jordan, a leading eugenicist, from campus buildings, and that it will actively work to better explain his legacy.
We need more of this kind of self-scrutiny from universities like Harvard, Yale and many others that promoted eugenics and pseudo race science, as well as institutions like the American Museum of Natural History, which in 1921 hosted the Second International Eugenics Congress, at which eugenicists advocated for eliminating the "unfit."
Trump's appalling remarks in Minnesota show how serious the situation is now. Seventy-five years after the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, a United States president not only spoke about "good genes" in racialized terms — he believed that his observations would help him to win in the relatively liberal state of Minnesota. It is crucial that everyone who understands the horrors of eugenics works to defeat these views — before they become any more popular.
Adam Cohen , a former member of the New York Times editorial board, is the author of "Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck" and, this year, "Supreme Inequality: The Supreme Court's Fifty-Year Battle for a More Unjust America."

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Juan

The person who comes to our home to keep our yard looking well-tended and orderly pays more in taxes that our current president.