Sunday, May 31, 2020

Something to Know - 1 June

This is actually being sent out the night before.  HCR has it all again on yesterday's events.   I would like to add my opinion that some or much of the discord that is creating divisions and conflicts within our society may be the work of Russian hackers; the same group that messed up on 2016 election, and has not stopped doing since.  The group is in a building in St. Petersburg, Russia, and is known at the IRA - Internet Research Agency.   Google them to see what I mean.   HCR provides some interesting information about the cowardice of our president, and his unwillingness to make any attempt to speak to the nation on unity and peace.  Let's see what happens now:

Protests continue across the country in the wake of George Floyd's murder by police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis last Monday.

Black Americans and their allies have had enough of unequal justice in America.

After that observation, the field gets very confusing, very fast. It appears that the protests have been infiltrated by white people bent on causing destruction, but to what end? Are they anarchists eager to destroy the state; white supremacists seeking to discredit black protesters; or bored young people thinking rioting is cool? Or all of the above?

Arrests might give us some leads. Tonight, Nashville police arrested a 25-year-old white man for setting fire to Nashville's Historic Courthouse last night. He was one of three caught on video attacking the building; the other two were African Americans, one man and one woman. Police have also arrested the man who drove a tanker truck into protesters in Minneapolis.

Also notable is that some police officers are attacking protesters and journalists, while others are honoring their badges and listening to the protesters. In some cities, police are escalating the tensions while in others, they are kneeling in a sign of solidarity with the protesters and joining them as they march.

In Minnesota, Governor Tim Walz has appointed Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison to lead the case against Chauvin, whose murder of Floyd was captured in a widely circulated video. The Hennepin County Attorney, Mike Freeman, had charged Chauvin with third-degree murder, but has not yet charged the other three officers present, two of whom were actively participating in the arrest. Floyd's family had asked that Attorney General Keith Ellison take over the case.

In all this confusion, it feels like the lines are becoming clearer between those determined to reclaim fairness and equality before the law in America, and those determined to destroy civil society altogether.

For all the uncertainty, there was one very clear story today. Although he tweeted angrily, Trump stayed out of sight, and from the safety of the White House continued to feed the flames burning America. "The Lamestream Media is doing everything within their power to foment hatred and anarchy," he tweeted this morning, apparently unmoved by the videos of journalists arrested and shot with rubber bullets last night. "As long as everybody understands what they are doing, that they are FAKE NEWS and truly bad people with a sick agenda, we can easily work through them to GREATNESS."

He announced "The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization," although there is actually no organized group of radicals identified as Antifa (a term drawn from "anti-fascist"), and U.S. law does not permit the government to designate domestic groups as terrorist organizations anyway. "FAKE NEWS!" he tweeted, and "LAW & ORDER!"

Trump's attempt to project strength took on quite a different cast when a New York Times story this evening revealed that he had spent an hour Friday night in the White House underground bunker, where Secret Service had taken him. The Associated Press reported that Trump has told advisors he is worried for his safety, and that he and his family "have been shaken by the size and venom of the crowds," according to "a Republican close to the White House."

An A. P. story then offered a doozy of a paragraph: "As cities burned night after night and images of violence dominated television coverage, Trump's advisers discussed the prospect of an Oval Office address in an attempt to ease tensions. The notion was quickly scrapped for lack of policy proposals and the president's own seeming disinterest in delivering a message of unity."

That Trump hid in the White House while he was urging others to violence captures his personality, but it undercuts his carefully crafted image as a man of courage. The leak of this story is itself astonishing: we should not know how a president is being protected, and that Trump is bullying to project an image of being a tough guy while he is actually hiding is a big story, especially since presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was out in the streets talking to protesters today. And to admit that Trump has no policy proposals and has no interest in delivering a message of unity…. Wow.

A curfew goes into effect at 11:00 tonight in Washington, D.C. For the past several days, trouble has begun as peaceful protesters go home, leaving the streets to those spoiling for a fight. As 11:00 hits, crowds around the White House are setting fires and attempting to break into the White House grounds.

Just before the curfew, the lights that usually illuminate the outside of the White House were turned off.



tanker truck:

Trump and Antifa:

Trump in bunker:


Mark Knoller @markknoller
Exterior lights at WH turned off just before 11pm as protests continued in vicinity.

June 1st 2020

508 Retweets894 Likes

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© 2020 Heather Cox


CoronaTrump is a nasty virus, and if we distance ourselves like
Patriots, like a miracle it will all be gone in the Fall.

Something to Know - 31 May

If you live in or very near a major metropolitan city, you may be keenly aware of the sadness and violence where you live.   I live about 40 miles away from downtown Los Angeles, and it is my TV that has the images of what is going on.   Frankly, I have turned off, or stayed away from the news.   I lived through the LA riots of the 60s, and all since then.  Nothing has really changed.  People of color are still abused and some are killed for no reason.   I doubt if we (my generation) will ever see the day when things get better.  One thing that has changed is that everyone now is carrying a cell phone, and has the ability to transmit images of the abuse, which in turn spreads like wildfire to others, including far away places.  People react to what is on their small screens.  A local protest becomes a national, or global protest in the blink of an eye.  People who have no affinity to the actual protest, use it as an excuse to riot, destroy, loot, and take down our rules of law in the process.   Trying to sort through who are the protesters, and who are the anarchists and white supremacists will eventually be analyzed by law enforcement and the FBI.  In the meantime, the economy and the hopes of many struggling to make a business profitable are in a heap of ashes.   I like what I saw in a news item, and it was something like...."the governors and mayors are trying to cool the situation while the president is playing with matches".   Let HCR fill you in on the rest:

It is too early to know what is actually happening inside the protests and riots happening in cities across the country, especially Minneapolis, after the murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin there on Monday. That is, we know there are protests and looting and violence, but who is doing what remains unclear, and will stay unclear for a while. There are plenty of videos and tweets, but they can only give us windows into events, not a full picture.

That being said, there do seem to be some patterns emerging.

The protests began as Black Americans and allies protested Floyd's murder, coming, as it did, after a number of similar murders—such as Breonna Taylor's, shot in her own home during a botched police raid—that illuminated police brutality against Black Americans. Quickly, though, the protests appeared to turn into something else, as more people—possibly (and I would guess probably) from outside the cities—rushed in to create chaos.

It is not clear who these people are. This morning, Trump tweeted that the protesters at the White House were "professionally organized," and midday, Attorney General Barr gave a hasty press conference in which he claimed that "outside radicals and agitators are exploiting the situation to pursue their own separate and violent agenda." He said, "in many places, it appears the violence is planned, organized and driven by anarchic and left extremist groups, far-left extremist groups, using antifa-like tactics, many of whom travel from outside the state to promote the violence."

There is currently no evidence that what Barr said is true.

He went on to say "It is a federal crime to cross state lines or to use interstate facilities to incite or participate in violent rioting, and we will enforce those laws." After Barr spoke, Trump tweeted: "80% of the RIOTERS in Minneapolis last night were from OUT OF STATE. They are harming businesses (especially African American small businesses), homes, and the community of good, hardworking Minneapolis residents who want peace, equality, and to provide for their families." He added: "It's ANTIFA and the Radical Left. Don't lay the blame on others!"

About the same time Barr was speaking, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter told reporters that "Every single person we arrested last night, I'm told, was from out of state," and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz estimated that 80% of those destroying property were from out of state. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey added: "We are now confronting white supremacists, members of organized crime, out-of-state instigators, and possibly even foreign actors to destroy and destabilize our city and our region." The Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said they had begun tracing those they arrested to see if they were part of larger networks.

A preliminary study today by local network KARE found that, in fact, 86% of those arrested were from Minnesota. Of the others, at least one was associated with a white supremacist group.

While we cannot know yet what's going on now, it is of note that the president has encouraged violence lately in his tweets, retweeting a video in which a supporter says "The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat," and a famous line from segregationist politician George Wallace "When the looting starts, the shooting starts."

In some places, police are deescalating protests and things are calming. In others, they seem to be deliberately escalating riots and violence.

In the places the police are escalating the riots, they seem to be targeting journalists and photographers, as well as people of color—there are harrowing videos of young men dragged from cars or from the street and mobbed by officers. Multiple stories tonight tell of journalists arrested or shot with rubber bullets, even after identifying themselves as press. One has lost an eye.

This recalls the president's constant attacks on the press. He has tweeted the phrases "Fake News" and "Enemy of the People" 796 times, and suggested in a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that he, Trump, should "Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn't it? You don't have this problem in Russia [where Putin has journalists killed], but we do."

If we cannot yet fully know the dynamics of the protests, there are a few things we do know.

First, the protests have wiped from public discussion all the major stories that were distressing Trump: the deadly toll of the coronavirus and his administration's abysmal response to the pandemic, the skyrocketing unemployment as the economy falters, and Friday's revelations about his 2016 campaign team's collaboration with Russian spies.

Second, the president has gone missing in the midst of this crisis. While presidents traditionally speak to the nation to try to reassure Americans in such times, neither he nor Republican leaders are trying to calm the nation.

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden late tonight stepped into the breach, issuing a statement. "Protesting such brutality is right and necessary. It's an utterly American response. But burning down communities and needless destruction is not. Violence that endangers lives is not. Violence that guts and shutters businesses that serve the community is not. The act of protesting should never be allowed to overshadow the reason we protest. It should not drive people away from the just cause that protest is meant to advance."



Minnesota officers:

NBC News @NBCNews
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter: "Every single person we arrested last night, I'm told, was from out of state."

May 30th 2020

7,342 Retweets13,718 Likes


Attacks on journalists:

Andy Rowell @AndyRowell
So the story tonight in Minneapolis, (perhaps because I follow many journalists) is media getting shot with rubber bullets, gassed, and arrested as they get between protesters and police. (Many media were terrified of the mayhem without police presence the last two nights).

May 31st 2020

87 Retweets118 Likes


Corey @shenpafree
@Weinsteinlaw @HC_Richardson Honestly, 796 seems really low.

May 31st 2020


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CoronaTrump is a nasty virus, and if we distance ourselves like
Patriots, like a miracle it will all be gone in the Fall.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Something to Know - 30 May

We have have family over for the weekend, so not much time to explore and spend much time away from them.   HCR is the best contributor for wrapping up all of yesterday's events, and she does it with deft conciseness.   My grandson and I are going to plant some morning glory seeds, and then hang a hummingbird feeder from a tree; good way to get away from the chaos that reigns.

"The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born: now is the time of monsters."

America feels completely chaotic today. Protesters are marching in major cities, sometimes looting; police appear to be attacking them and the journalists covering the protests. Rather than calming the situation, the president has thrown gasoline on the fire, which escalated yesterday's fight with Twitter. Trump launched a blistering verbal attack on China and announced that the United States is withdrawing from the World Health Organization in the midst of a deadly pandemic. Meanwhile, new information suggests that the Trump administration did, indeed, collude with Russia.

George Floyd is dead. So is Breonna Taylor. And so are more than 100,000 victims of a deadly pandemic.

The news is overwhelming. It is designed to be overwhelming.

This sort of chaos and confusion destabilizes society. In that confusion, as tempers run hot, people who are desperate for certainty return to old patterns and divide along traditional lines. Many are willing to accept a strong leader who promises to restore order, or simply are so distracted and discouraged they stop caring what their leaders do. They simply hunker down and try to survive.

As cities across the country erupted in protest last night over the murder of George Floyd and everything that deadly demonstration of white male dominance over another human's life symbolized, Trump tweeted: "….These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won't let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!"

Twitter slapped a warning on the tweet, noting that it "violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence." In response, the official White House twitter account retweeted what Trump had written… and Twitter slapped a warning on that, too. This is the first time Twitter has attached such a notice to any public figure's tweets.

This afternoon, Trump appeared briefly in the Rose Garden not to address the protests, but to attack China and to announce he was withdrawing the U.S. from the WHO.

Trump accused China of a slew of misdeeds, including espionage and economic warfare, and called China an existential threat. He promised to ban certain Chinese nationals from the U.S., but identified no concrete measures he's planning to take.

It seems Trump has decided his best bet for reelection is to use China as a foil. He is trying to blame China for America's mounting coronavirus deaths, which is his excuse for withdrawing from the WHO, over which he insists China has "total control." (This is false; the WHO has 194 member states, and until now, we were a leading partner in it.) He left without taking any questions.

Trump's withdrawal from the WHO removes America from yet another international partnership. This horrified doctors and epidemiologists. Health researcher Dr. Atul Gawande called it a "disaster." "I can't imagine a worse thing to do in the midst of a pandemic and ongoing work to fight back TB, HIV, polio, and other health threats," he tweeted. Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice agreed: "Unspeakably stupid and self-defeating."

Defense technology journalist Kelsey D. Atherton made a different, and quite crucial, point. "[M]aybe the weirdest thing about the right's strategy of quitting international institutions is they were built, expressly, to give the United States an outsized role in shaping and directing the post-1945 international order, but they can only do that so long as the US stays in."

He's right. Once again, Trump has led the US out of an international agreement that we used to dominate. Just two days ago, president of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass said that Trump's foreign policy doctrine should be called the "Withdrawal Doctrine." Trump has pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact designed to pressure China to meet international rules; the Paris climate accord; the 2015 Iran nuclear deal; the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, limiting nuclear weapons; UNESCO, the U.N.'s educational, scientific, and cultural agency; the Open Skies Treaty that allowed countries to fly over each other to monitor military movements. He pulled U.S. troops away from our former Kurdish allies in Syria, and has threatened to leave the North Atlantic Treaty Organization—NATO—that ties 30 North American and European countries into a military alliance.

Now he has withdrawn the US from the World Health Organization that combats global disease and pandemics.

The U.S. walking away from our former allies benefits other countries, notably Russia, which is keen to destabilize NATO alliances.

The Russia story, too, is back in the news, with Trump's new Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe today releasing summaries of the phone calls between Michael Flynn—who was advising Trump on foreign policy—and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. What was released were not transcripts, although Senator Chuck Grassley, who released them, and much of the media that reported on them, all called them transcripts. These are summaries of the conversations. Occasionally they have quotations in them, but they are not the whole conversation.

Even so, they were bad enough. They show Flynn taking a weirdly weak position considering he knew the Russians had attacked the election. Rather than making demands, Flynn reassured Kislyak that the Trump team would roll back sanctions and retaliation for Russian interference in the 2016 election, established that Trump and Putin would talk immediately upon Trump taking office, and talked about a secure video link between the two leaders.

Asha Rangappa, a former FBI counterintelligence specialist, explained back in 2017 that Flynn's lying to the FBI indicated just how bad the conversations were, and then explained just why they were so bad. For the U.S. to expel a diplomat is exceedingly rare and difficult, and usually results in a tit-for-tat expulsion of one of our diplomats. In both cases, the individuals usually are spies, which means that losing them is a big deal for our intelligence. For the Obama administration to expel 35 Russians in response to Russia's attack on our 2016 election, along with imposing economic sanctions, was a microphone-dropping sign to Russia that we would not look the other way.

But Flynn assured Kislyak that they could expect a different response from the Trump administration, essentially telling Russia that, so far as the Trump team was concerned, the 2016 attack was okay. So the Russians did not retaliate as expected for the expulsion of their diplomats. But Trump could not get rid of the sanctions and instead, in July 2017, under great pressure, signed a bipartisan sanctions bill that had such strong support Congress could override his veto. In retaliation for the measure, Russia expelled 775 American diplomats, crippling our intelligence in that country.

And over all this looms Covid-19, which has killed more than 104,000 of us already. Infections are climbing again.

I started out tonight by noting that this chaotic onslaught of news is designed to divide Americans and make us fall back into old animosities in order either to get us to accept a strong leader or to exhaust us until we quit caring what happens. In either case American democracy is over.

But there is another possibility. Chaos does not have to destroy us. The leaders creating it are doing so precisely because they know they are not in control, and the same uncertainty they are trying to leverage can just as easily be used by their opponents. At this crazy, frightening, chaotic moment, it is possible to reach across old lines and create new alliances, to reemphasize that most Americans really do share the same values of economic fairness and equality before the law, and to rebuild a "government of the people, by the people, and for the people."

The old world is certainly dying, but the shape of the new world struggling to be born is not yet determined.






Withdrawal doctrine:

Russia and Europe:


Russian expulsion:

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CoronaTrump is a nasty virus, and if we distance ourselves like
Patriots, like a miracle it will all be gone in the Fall.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Something to Know - 28 May

Okay, my level of frustration and being just mildly pissed, was elevated upon delving into this short article.  See if you can maintain your cool as you read a narrative that the continued pressure of the one-tenth of one percent (really wealthy plutocrats) on the current WH occupant is any way to run a democracy that works for the people:

Republicans Think They Can Get Away With It. They Might Be Right.

The leaders of the governing party can't seem to stop doing and proposing unpopular things.

By Jacob S. Hacker and 

Mr. Hacker and Mr. Pierson are the authors of the forthcoming "Let Them Eat Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality."

  • May 27, 2020

President Trump with Republican Senators Mitch McConnell (left) of Kentucky and Roy Blunt of Missouri in Washington.
President Trump with Republican Senators Mitch McConnell (left) of Kentucky and Roy Blunt of Missouri in Washington. Credit...Nicholas Kamm/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Does the Republican Party have a death wish?
Its most prominent leaders — particularly President Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader — have dug themselves into positions that defy all conventional rules of electoral survival. In an election year, even ideologically extreme politicians should try to do popular things and avoid doing unpopular things — if for no other reason than so that they can resume pursuing their extreme goals after Election Day.
Instead, top Republicans in Washington are pulling out all the stops to do unpopular things and avoid doing popular things. Their main proposals — more tax cuts for the rich, corporate legal immunity, pushing the post office into bankruptcy — have strikingly little support among voters, even among Republican voters. Meanwhile, they are resisting highly popular measures, such as additional relief for states, localities and ordinary workers, that would almost certainly increase their likelihood of holding onto power this fall.
This situation isn't just surreal. It's genuinely scary. In a democracy, leaders of a governing party shouldn't act as if they can brazenly defy large majorities of voters and still hold onto power. The alarm bells only get louder when you begin to examine why current Republican leaders think this way — and why they might be right.
The United States is a profoundly polarized nation. Yet despite angry protests on the far right, the pandemic has actually lessened the divide among American voters. Large bipartisan majorities favor much more aid to states, localities and workers; believe the federal government has primary responsibility for ensuring adequate Covid-19 testing; and support a cautious reopening of the economy guided by public health expertise.

By contrast, large bipartisan majorities oppose states having to declare bankruptcy; the post office going insolvent; helping out corporate executives, the wealthy and big business with bailouts and other special deals; states handling testing on their own or a quick reopening without robust safeguards.

Rather than celebrating and heeding this unusual convergence, top Republicans in Washington have snubbed it. They have rejected what bipartisan majorities demand and demanded what bipartisan majorities reject. And they've done so knowing that voters will soon get their say.

In a few cases, they may believe voters will eventually move toward the party's stances. In others, they may be posturing so Democrats have to yield costly concessions. And yet, as the stalemate wears on, it becomes harder and harder to avoid the simplest explanation for Republicans' poisonous positions: They are devoted to them, and they think they can get away with them.
Their devotion may be shocking, but it really shouldn't be surprising. Since the 1990s, Republicans have increasingly embraced the most extreme goals of the party's corporate and big-money supporters. In 2017, Republican leaders advanced an agenda that managed to feature the two most unpopular pieces of major legislation of the past quarter century: repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act and big, deficit-funded tax cuts for corporations and the rich. The former barely failed. The latter narrowly passed after Republican donors made clear that, if the party didn't deliver, the funding spigot would run dry.

As the official death toll from Covid-19 passes 100,000, these plutocratic priorities look even more glaring. Amid a crisis that's laid bare American inequality, Republicans' first instinct has remained the same: to go to the mat for the superrich. They've twisted relief bills to provide unrelated tax cuts and no-strings bailouts, shuttered the Senate amid a national health and economic crisis (though opened it long enough to strong-arm conservative judges onto the bench) and continued to float toxic ideas in an election year — say, making people give up some of their Social Security benefits in return for a financial lifeline today. If there's an idea popular among conservative billionaires and nobody else, Republicans are probably pushing for it now.

But if Republicans lose big in the fall, then those who benefit from their consistent embrace of plutocracy lose, too. Why do Republicans and their organized allies think they can get away with it — or at least have a good enough chance to justify the risk?

The answer offers a stark warning about American democracy. Republicans benefit from two formidable bulwarks against electoral accountability. The first is tribalism: Republican elites have encouraged their high-turnout voting base to see every election as an epic battle to save white Christian America from a socialist, secular, gun-seizing left, with right-wing media and surrogate groups like the N.R.A. leading the charge.
The second bulwark isn't solely of Republicans' creation. Our political system guarantees less populated areas outsize clout in the Senate and gives control over election administration to the states. Republicans have built a growing advantage in rural America over the past two decades. The result is that the Senate (and, to a lesser extent, the Electoral College) remains a counter-majoritarian stronghold — not invulnerable to electoral reversal but highly resistant to it.

At the same time, Republicans in red states have used partisan gerrymandering and voter restrictions to disadvantage citizens outside their base. The latter include voter ID laws, the indiscriminate purging of the voter rolls and rules that make it harder to register, get to the polls, vote early and (especially crucial now) vote remotely. In the latest move, the Republican National Committee and other Republican groups sued California to stop the state from mailing all registered voters absentee ballots for the fall election. Besides being fundamentally at odds with democratic equality, all these efforts further undermine electoral accountability.
In the pandemic, these strategies have become much more dangerous. If Republicans stick to their unpopular positions, they will have to build their twin bulwarks even higher to escape accountability, magnifying racial and cultural divisions and undermining free and fair elections in ways that threaten not just the health of citizens but the health of our democracy
Republicans could end up losing, despite all this. But their determination to defy the most basic law of electoral gravity — that you respond to the pull of voters as an election approaches — should set off a blaring alarm. In the midst of a health and economic catastrophe, they are putting their dangerous indifference to popular sentiment to the ultimate test.

Jacob S. Hacker, a professor of political science at Yale University, and Paul Pierson, a professor of political science at the University of California at Berkeley, are the authors of the forthcoming "Let Them Eat Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality".


CoronaTrump is a nasty virus, and if we distance ourselves like
Patriots, like a miracle it will all be gone in the Fall.