Think Trump’s Not Moving Toward Total Autocracy? This International Analyst Knows the Signs Too Well…

Earlier today, I re-blogged a post from Annie of annieasksyou fame, and this evening I am sharing another. Annie has collected a series of observations made by International Analyst Michael McFaul that paint a picture that is … chilling. Please do take a minute to check it out. Thanks again, Annie!

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Michael McFaul, Stanford University

[Note from Annie:I’ve extracted from Twitter a series of observations made by Michael McFaul last week after viewing the Republican National Convention that I think form a compelling picture of the dangers we’ll face if we don’t remove President Trump from office in November.(The emphases are mine.)

McFaul served as Special Assistant to President Obama and Senior Director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House from 2009 to 2012, and then as the United States Ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014. The author of several books and an academic at Stanford, he cites his research interests as American foreign policy, great power relations, and the relationship between democracy and development.]

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For those of us who study autocracies, including elections in autocracies, there were a lot of familiar messages, symbols, and methods on display this week…

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The Choice

Blogger friend Annie posted this post earlier this month (where has September gone???) and it is an excellent and timely reminder for those who may still be sitting on the fence about the November election. Please take a few minutes to read. Thank you, Annie & Infidel!

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[Note from Annie: I feel the post below, written by my fellow blogger Infidel753, is so thoughtful and persuasive that I’m featuring it here.Infidel’s highly informative, provocative, and often entertaining blog may be accessed at infidel753.blogspot.com.]

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This November, one of two things will happen. Either Biden will be elected president, or Trump will be re-elected. Many people fervently believe there should be some third option. There isn’t. It’s going to be one of those two.

This post is addressed to those who, for whatever reason, don’t like Biden. Maybe you consider him too centrist or too old or too old-fashioned or “Republican-lite” or whatever. Maybe you think the Tara Reade accusation has credibility (though there are good reasons to believe otherwise). Maybe you think the process by which millions of rank-and-file Democrats chose the nominee (from among a remarkably large and varied group of candidates) was tainted…

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Roger Stone Strikes Again

I have long been against the death penalty, but I think I could make an exception in the case of Roger Stone. On July 10, Trump commuted a 40-month prison sentence that was handed down to Stone after he was convicted of lying to Congress and tampering with witnesses as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into 2016 election interference. Namely, Stone lied to Congress about his contacts with WikiLeaks, which released hacked emails with the aim of boosting Trump’s prospects. In the weeks leading up to the commutation, Stone made a number of media appearances where he asked Trump to grant him clemency and said that in exchange, he could be a more effective campaigner for the president’s 2020 reelection efforts.  Well, he is living up to that promise.roger-stoneLast Thursday, Stone made a video appearance on Alex Jones’ conspiracy theory program, InfoWars.  Stone declared that the only legitimate outcome to the 2020 election would be a Trump victory. He made this assertion on the basis of his entirely unfounded claim that early voting has been marred by widespread voter fraud.

Stone argued that “the ballots in Nevada on election night should be seized by federal marshalls and taken from the state” because “they are completely corrupted” and falsely said that “we can prove voter fraud in the absentees right now.” He specifically called for Trump to have absentee ballots seized in Clark County, Nevada, an area that leans Democratic. Stone went on to claim that “the votes from Nevada should not be counted; they are already flooded with illegals” and baselessly suggested that former Senator Harry Reid (a democrat from Nevada) should be arrested and that Trump should consider nationalizing Nevada’s state police force.

Are you growling yet?  Just wait … it gets even better.

Stone recommended that Trump consider several actions to retain his power. Stone recommended that Trump appoint former Representative Bob Barr, a republican from Georgia, as a special counsel “with the specific task of forming an Election Day operation using the FBI, federal marshals, and Republican state officials across the country to be prepared to file legal objections and if necessary to physically stand in the way of criminal activity.”

Stone also urged Trump to consider declaring “martial law” or invoking the Insurrection Act and then using his powers to arrest Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, “the Clintons” and “anybody else who can be proven to be involved in illegal activity.”  Apparently, Stone defines “illegal activity” as anything that is not supportive of Donald Trump!  In essence, I am engaging in illegal activity by his definition simply by writing this post. roger-stone-3Now, it’s easy enough to write Stone off as the nutcase he is, but the danger here is that in the past he has been one of the people Trump listened to.  Is he still?  Are there saner heads in the Trump administration who would … or could … talk Trump out of following Roger Stone’s clearly unconstitutional advice?  Would the republicans in Congress finally grow a pair and understand that this behaviour is in essence burning the U.S. Constitution, breaking the highest law in the land?  Would the military refuse to do Trump’s bidding, should he decide to follow Stone’s advice?  Would William Barr finally decide to do his job instead of toadying up to Trump?

Yes, I hear you saying, “It’s not possible.  Even Trump wouldn’t act in such an irresponsible dictatorial manner.”  Think again.

The ‘norms’, the restraints on presidential power that are built into the Constitution, the checks and balances we once believed would ensure that we would not lose the democratic principles on which the nation was founded, have all been shattered in the past three years.  You also never imagined a president would turn on the people of this nation, calling them anarchists and criminals, simply because we don’t agree with him.  You also never dreamed a president would have so little regard for our lives that he would keep the secret of a deadly virus and encourage us to go out and be exposed, and if we die, well, “it is what it is”.  Think back … there are hundreds of things he has done that you never thought possible.

I told you this morning how the Trump administration is once again playing Russian roulette with our lives, altering and manipulating CDC data so as to not “make Trump look bad”.  The agencies we have always counted on to protect us are now agents of Donald Trump and are diligently seeking to undermine our freedoms, our Constitution, our alliances, and in fact our very lives.  So, is it really such a stretch to believe that Trump might impose martial law, or break the law to devalue our election?  Are we really so sure the safeguards are strong enough to hold against a corrupt president and his band of boot-licking sycophants?  Think about it.

“It Is What It Is” Says He

According to the latest reported numbers, the U.S. now has 6,676,601 total cases of the coronavirus, and 198,828 total deaths.  Both of those statistics are under-reported.  Let’s be clear, the daily “new cases” number has been significantly smaller of late, but NOT because we have fewer cases!  It is a result of a combination of things, including less testing being done, per Donald Trump’s orders.  Remember when he said that if we did less testing, we would have fewer cases?  Only an imbecile would make such a statement, but it is Trump we’re talking about here.  But there’s more … there seems to be some outright manipulation of the numbers.

From a Politico report yesterday …

The health department’s politically appointed communications aides have demanded the right to review and seek changes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly scientific reports charting the progress of the coronavirus pandemic, in what officials characterized as an attempt to intimidate the reports’ authors and water down their communications to health professionals.

In some cases, emails from communications aides to CDC Director Robert Redfield and other senior officials openly complained that the agency’s reports would undermine President Donald Trump’s optimistic messages [emphasis added] about the outbreak, according to emails reviewed by POLITICO and three people familiar with the situation.

Now listen, folks.  I know all about political gaming and I know that with Donald Trump, everything is a game, is all about him, his image, his profit, and what benefits him.  BUT these are our lives he and his adoring sycophants are playing with and I’m sick and damn tired of it!  We are not simply Donald Trump’s chattel to play with as he wishes!

The story continues …

But since Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign official with no medical or scientific background, was installed in April as the Health and Human Services department’s new spokesperson, there have been substantial efforts to align the reports with Trump’s statements, including the president’s claims that fears about the outbreak are overstated, or stop the reports altogether.

Caputo and his team have attempted to add caveats to the CDC’s findings, including an effort to retroactively change agency reports that they said wrongly inflated the risks of Covid-19 and should have made clear that Americans sickened by the virus may have been infected because of their own behavior, according to the individuals familiar with the situation and emails reviewed by POLITICO.

Caputo’s team also has tried to halt the release of some CDC reports, including delaying a report that addressed how doctors were prescribing hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug favored by Trump as a coronavirus treatment despite scant evidence. The report, which was held for about a month after Caputo’s team raised questions about its authors’ political leanings, was finally published last week. It said that “the potential benefits of these drugs do not outweigh their risks.”

As a CPA, I once worked for a company that asked me to make the monthly revenue numbers match the predictions the managers had sent to the corporate offices earlier in the month.  In other words, alter the facts to mirror the projection.  I refused and gave my notice the next morning.  It’s called ‘integrity’.  Facts and statistics cannot be tampered with to make a corporate manager or politician look good, for at that point they are no longer facts and statistics but are mere fantasy. Just as financial reports should have integrity, so should reports about how many people are sick and dying because of the greed and cruelty of the so-called president.

We the People cannot make wise decisions if we don’t have the facts.  Period.  If we had believed Trump back in the first quarter of this year, we would have gone on about our merry way, exposing ourselves on a daily basis … oh wait, that is what a lot of people, mainly Trump supporters, did, and that is why our death toll will surpass 300,000 by the end of this year!

And we now know, thanks to Bob Woodward’s book, Rage, coming out on Tuesday, that not only did Trump lie to us, but he did so fully knowing that lives would be lost as a result of his lies.  And now … he’s trying to fit a square peg into a round hole as he has his minions trying to manipulate the actual numbers.  Now, we have no credible source of information.  Now, we are entirely on our own to try to figure out what is safe and what isn’t.  And we will never know how many cases there actually were in the U.S., nor how many died as a result of the pandemic when they could have been saved if only Trump had put us ahead of his own financial & political gain.  Remember last month, when in an interview where he was being questioned about the death toll, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “It is what it is.”  That is how much he cares about you, me, or anybody else.

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Snarky Snippets Sunday!

Ol’ Snarky is back with more Snippets …


It would seem that the power of the office of the president has gone to Trump’s head, giving him the mistaken illusion that he controls far more than the law allows.  But then, ol’ Bill Barr has said that Trump is “above the law”, so I guess he figures he can do whatever he likes.  Much of what he has done could be challenged as overstepping the bounds of his position, but perhaps his greatest crime is his assault on the freedom of the press.  The latest?  He is ‘demanding’ that a reporter be fired.

Yesterday, I wrote a post about the article in The Atlantic detailing Trump’s denigration of the military, of men and women who gave their lives for this country.  Other news outlets picked up on the story, some adding their own knowledge of incidents of Trump’s insulting attitude to American soldiers.  Even Fox ‘News’ national security correspondent, Jennifer Griffin, confirmed in a Twitter thread that Trump called soldiers “suckers”, had questioned why anyone would want to become a soldier and had not wanted to honor war dead at the Aisne-Marne cemetery in France.

“Two former sr Trump admin officials confirm .@JeffreyGoldberg reporting that President Trump disparaged veterans and did not want to drive to honor American war dead at Aisne-Marne Cemetery outside Paris.

According to one former senior Trump administration official: “When the President spoke about the Vietnam War, he said, ‘It was a stupid war. Anyone who went was a sucker’.”

This former official heard the President say about American veterans: “What’s in it for them? They don’t make any money.” Source: “It was a character flaw of the President. He could not understand why someone would die for their country, not worth it.”

I read the source a few quotes from The Atlantic article. This former Trump admin official said, “The President would say things like that. He doesn’t know why people join the military. He would muse, ‘Why do they do it’?”

Re: trip to mark 100th anniversary of WW I

Source: “The President was not in a good mood. Macron had said something that made him mad about American reliability and the need perhaps for a European army. He questioned why he had to go to two cemeteries. ‘Why do I have to do two’?”

President Trump’s staff explained he could cancel (his visit to the cemetery), but he was warned, ‘They (the press) are going to kill you for this’.” The President was mad as a hornet when they did.

When asked IF the President could have driven to the Aisne-Marne Cemetery, this former official said confidently:

“The President drives a lot. The other world leaders drove to the cemeteries. He just didn’t want to go.”

Regarding Trump’s July 4th military parade, during a planning session at the White House after seeing the Bastille Day parade in 2017, the President said regarding the inclusion of “wounded guys” “that’s not a good look” “Americans don’t like that,” source confirms.

Regarding McCain, “The President just hated John McCain. He always asked, ‘Why do you see him as a hero?” Two sources confirmed the President did not want flags lowered but others in the White House ordered them at half mast. There was a stand off and then the President relented.

And now, Trump is calling for her to be fired …

“Jennifer Griffin should be fired for this kind of reporting. Never even called us for comment. Fox News is gone!”

If it were The Washington Post, New York Times, or any other legitimate news outlet, I would not be concerned, for they would just ignore him.  But this is Fox, his bootlickers, owners of such characters as Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham.  Keep an eye on this ball, folks, for if she is fired, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that Trump will target other journalists and chip away at the freedom of the press even more than he has already done.


I found a bit of humour in this one.  Yesterday, there was an event organized on Lake Travis, near Austin, Texas.  The event, organized on Facebook, was called Lake Travis Trump Boat Parade.  Steve Salinas, one of the organizers of the event, said it was “one way that Trump supporters can get out and express themselves without causing too much trouble or congestion in streets.”

Now, it seems unclear how many boats were on the lake for this event, but all of a sudden, the boats started sinking!  It is also unclear just how many boats sank … the Travis County Sheriff said it was still uncertain, and the New York Times reports at least four, possibly more.  The weather was only a bit breezy, not enough to cause boats to sink. Lake-Travis-boatFirefighters rescued several people and there are no reports of death or serious injury.  Last I checked, the cause was still ‘under investigation’, but the Sheriff’s Department says there is no reason at this time to suspect foul play.  My granddaughter suggested that perhaps Mother Nature is trying to tell Trump supporters something!

Some of the comments on the Facebook page were fun …

  • On Twitter they have dubbed it #Dumbkirk 😂
  • This was obvious antifa/BLM sabotage
  • Boater suppression!!
  • Insurance companies will deny the claims, since the boats had pre-existing conditions.
  • This is good, but I look forward to the trump Hindenburg parade in November even more

Another similar boating event, Nation’s Capital Trumptilla Boat Parade And Rally, is scheduled for 1:00 this afternoon on the Potomac River.  While I hope nobody is injured, I can’t help wishing them to have the same luck as the bunch at Lake Travis had!


Once again, the Republicans have proven just how low they are willing to stoop.  You may remember the name Marjorie Taylor Greene, the republican from Georgia who, despite her affiliation with the hate/conspiracy group QAnon, won the Republican primary for the seat in the U.S. House of Representatives currently held by Doug Jones.  Well, she seems to have a nasty streak longer than my right arm.marjory-taylor-greeneThis week, she posted an advertisement on Facebook featuring an image of herself holding a rifle with photos of three liberal congresswomen of color and the vow to “go on the offense” against members of the “Squad,” an unprecedented threat against lawmakers from a probable future colleague.

The three congresswomen, of course, were the same three that Donald Trump said should “go back” to the countries they came from: Representative Ilhan Omar from Minnesota, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York, and Representative Rashida Tlaib from Michigan.  All three women, by the way, are U.S. citizens and all but Ms. Omar were born in the U.S.

Ms. Greene’s post claimed …

“Hate America leftists want to take this country down. Politicians have failed this country. I’m tired of seeing weak, Establishment Republicans play defense. Our country is on the line. America needs fighters who speak the truth.”

Facebook removed the post on Friday, saying it violated its policies against incitement of violence.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday called on top House Republican Kevin McCarthy to condemn Greene’s “dangerous threat of violence against Democratic Congresswomen.”  But, of course, McCarthy is just another Trump bootlicker, and Trump has already expressed his support for Ms. Greene and his disdain for the three duly-elected congresswomen.

Ms. Greene is person of little or no character, rather like Trump himself, and the Republicans in Congress who fail to denounce her behavior have shown themselves to be of equally low character.  Period.  I hope to see the vast majority of them voted out of office in November, and I further hope that Ms. Greene never sees the inside of the Capitol!

Liars And Cheaters!

Steve Scalise is 54 years old and a member of the United States House of Representatives from the state of Louisiana.  Dan Scavino is 44 years old and currently serves as the White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications and Director of Social Media.  Both of these men are legally and by most standards considered to be adults.  And yet, they have behaved in a manner more befitting 12-year-old children.

Steve-ScaliseSteve Scalise tweeted a video that spliced together footage from an interview between, Ady Barkan, who has ALS and speaks using a computerized artificial voice, and Biden.  In the original video, Barkan asks Biden if he can agree that “we can redirect some of the funding,” for police departments toward mental health services, to which Biden replies, “Yes.”

The clip tweeted out by Scalise, however, splices in the words “for police” from one of Barkan’s other questions to make it sound as if Barkan is asking Biden if he agrees they can “redirect some of the funding for police.”

Scalise used the tweet to promote the popular and false talking point that Democrats are responsible for sowing unrest as protests continue nationwide following shootings of Black people by police, adding in his tweet: “No police. Mob rule. Total chaos. That’s the result of the Democrat agenda.”  Barkan did not appreciate Scalise’s little trick, saying …

“These are not my words. I have lost my ability to speak, but not my agency or my thoughts. You and your team have doctored my words for your own political gain. Please remove this video immediately. You owe the entire disability community an apology.”

Ady-BarkanI had never heard of Mr. Barkan until tonight, but he gets two thumbs up from me!  Scalise did take the tweet down, but that isn’t the point.  The point is that an adult, a member of one of the highest governmental authorities in the nation, would lie and cheat, for that is exactly what a doctored video is … a lie, an attempt to cheat.  I thought Steve Scalise was a better man than that, but obviously I was wrong.

Dan-ScavinoDan Scavino also posted a manipulated video, this one purporting to show Joe Biden falling asleep during a live television interview.  According to Snopes …

This was not a genuine video of Biden during a television interview.

This was a mashup combining a 2011 clip of singer Harry Belafonte and a misleading clip of Biden during the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

The video of Belafonte comes from an appearance the then-84-year-old singer made on KBAK, a California television station, in October 2011. After the video went viral, Belafonte’s spokesperson released a statement blaming the singer’s “nap” on a technical glitch. The spokesperson said that Belefonte’s earpiece wasn’t working and that the singer was meditating while the issue was being worked out.

The clip of Biden comes from the 2020 Democratic National Convention. The manipulated footage appears to show Biden sleeping, but it’s clear in the original footage that Biden was never actually asleep.

The segment used in the manipulated footage comes from the moment during the DNC in which former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton endorsed Biden for president. In the full video from C-SPAN, Biden can be seen momentarily looking downward, but it doesn’t appear that he ever actually falls asleep.

The video shared by Scavino loops together a few seconds of footage from this video in which Biden either has his eyes closed or is looking downward and then plays it beneath unrelated audio of a person snoring.

Again, an adult with a responsible position, taking a salary of $179,700 per year that we the taxpayers provide, and this is the behaviour we must tolerate?

Personally, I would like to think the good people of Louisiana will abhor this juvenile behaviour on the part of their representative, Steve Scalise, and elect his democratic opponent, Lee Ann Dugas.  And as for Mr. Scavino, I will take great joy in knowing that he is likely to be fired in about five months when Joe Biden takes office.

The real danger here, folks, is that far too many people get their ‘news’ from social media such as Twitter, Facebook, or others.  These are people who are not highly educated, don’t understand much about how government works, or should work, and tend to believe whatever they read on their favourite social media platform.  They won’t stop and ask a question, or go digging for further information, or seek a fact-checker to find the truth.  Even though Scalise’s tweet was removed, by that time it had already received tens of thousands of views.  The same is true of Scavino’s tweet.  People saw, they will believe, and they will remember.  Once seen, it is unlikely to be forgotten.

Just another of the many ways in which Trump and his band of thugs are attempting to rig this election in his favour.  I wonder if there is a single republican in our government who actually possesses a conscience?  Obviously, Steve Scalise and Dan Scavino do not.

Snarky Snippets Waiting For The Asteroid

A few days ago, I read that there is a slight possibility … about .04% … that an asteroid could hit planet earth before election day.  My first thought was to cross my fingers that it lands squarely on the head of Donald Trump.  My fingers are still crossed.asteroid-trump

Meanwhile, I shall open the vent and let off some steam in the form of snarky snippets …


Penalizing the Free Press???

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Fahrenthold is under fire by the Trump administration.  Why?  Because of his report in The Washington Post on Thursday exposing the way in which Trump’s company has been gaining financial benefit from the Secret Service when he travels to his own properties.

“Federal spending records show that taxpayers have paid Trump’s businesses more than $900,000 since he took office. At least $570,000 came as a result of the president’s travel …

Trump Organization charged the Secret Service — a kind of captive customer, required to follow Trump everywhere. In addition to the rentals at Mar-a-Lago, the documents show that the Trump Organization charged daily “resort fees” to Secret Service agents guarding Vice President Pence in Las Vegas and in another instance asked agents to pay a $1,300 “furniture removal charge” during a presidential visit to a Trump resort in Scotland.”

Apparently, Trump & Co took umbrage, though Mr. Fahrenthold has the facts to back up every statement in his story.  Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere issued a ‘statement’ …

“The Washington Post is blatantly interfering with the business relationships of the Trump Organization, and it must stop. Please be advised that we are building up a very large ‘dossier’ on the many false David Fahrenthold and others stories as they are a disgrace to journalism and the American people.”

Say WHAT???  Mr. Deere has a B.A. in Political Science and History from Lyon College in Batesville, Arkansas, but apparently he never managed to take a course in Constitutional Law, else he might have a better understanding of the First Amendment as it relates to freedom of the press!

No doubt such a dossier would go back to Fahrenthold’s best-known article, the one that exposed Trump describing how he felt stardom gave him permission to assault women on the Access Hollywood videotape.

Fahrenthold responded to Deere’s threats …

“If you think the Washington Post got something wrong in a story, we want to know about it. Doesn’t have to be in dossier form, and you don’t have to be the president. We listen to everybody.”

Trump & Co need to tread very cautiously here, for their own house is riddled with vermin, the latest being multiple violations of the Hatch Act in their campaign rally known as the Trump Circus earlier this week.  We the People will not tolerate our free press being infringed upon!  We the People have every right to know where our hard-earned tax dollars are being spent, and I for one salute Mr. Fahrenthold for uncovering the fact that Trump’s businesses are benefitting from his travel.  This is a blatant ethics violation and should be public knowledge.  It only makes me wonder how many other abuses of our money are being hidden from us.


Speaking of that Hatch Act …

Doesn’t it seem to you that the “president”, the person who is tasked with ensuring the laws of the land are enforced, should … obey the laws?  Well, we all heard Attorney General Bill the Boob Barr say that Trump is ‘above the law’, but that immunity does not extend to his family and members of his administration!  There were numerous violations of the law known as the Hatch Act this past week, and this wasn’t the first time, but what made it worse this time was the blatant, in-your-face violations by more than a few people in the Trump administration, including his daughter, Ivanka.

The Hatch Act prohibits civil service employees in the executive branch of the federal government, except the president and vice president, from engaging in some forms of political activity.  Any way you cut it, the Republican National Convention is political activity.  And yet … Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appeared from Jerusalem, where he was on official state business, to make a campaign speech with the Old City as backdrop. Melania Trump delivered a speech from the White House Rose Garden. And acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf performed a naturalization ceremony on television as Trump looked on.

Ethics officials warned that using the White House (which, technically, belongs to We the People) as a backdrop for campaign speeches could constitute a violation of the Hatch Act, but their concerns were ignored.  And White House chief of staff Mark Meadows proved his complete disrespect for all of us when he said …

“Nobody outside of the Beltway really cares.”

Oh yes, Mr. Meadows … I REALLY CARE!  This was reminiscent of when Donald Trump first refused to make public his tax returns, saying that nobody would understand them.  BULLSHIT!  I would understand his tax returns (far better than he does, no doubt), and I DO care about the people in this administration using the power of their positions for political gain!  If we cannot trust them to follow one law, then in my opinion, we cannot trust them to obey any law.  Which makes them lawless.


Heads will roll …

The U.S. now has 187,000 deaths that we are aware of as a result of the coronavirus.  So far, Trump has pushed his uneducated theories that ingesting household disinfectants could be a cure, and has claimed that an anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, is also a cure.  Neither are true, both can be lethal, but this is what happens when you let an idiot dictate to the scientific community.  His latest promotion is for another treatment, blood plasma treatment.  This, too, is unproven as a cure for the coronavirus and may well have negative effects.

However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can no longer be trusted and has gone along with Trump’s touting of the blood plasma treatment, authorizing its use without further testing and against the warnings of the medical community.  FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn initially said that 35% of people could be saved by this unproven treatment.

Mr. Wayne Pines served 10 years in senior positions at the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). He was FDA’s chief of consumer education and information, chief of press relations and associate commissioner for public affairs. He was the chief media spokesman for the FDA for seven years and also was the founding editor of FDA Consumer magazine.  Mr. Pines was fired last week.  Why?  Because he recommended that Hahn reverse his misleading claim on blood plasma.  Such is life in the Trump administration … you either go along, or you go out the door!

Hahn later admitted that he had “oversold” the treatment and it was more likely that only 3-5% of people might … might be helped by blood plasma treatment.  Another FDA staffer, Emily Miller, was also fired this week, after only 11 days in her job as Assistant Commissioner for Media Affairs, although I’m unclear of the reason, for she was playing along nicely with Mr. Hahn’s myth.  Perhaps she was the ‘sacrificial lamb’.


A double whammy …

The poor people of Louisiana … first they are hit with Hurricane Laura, and then in a double whammy, they are hit with Hurricane Donnie.  Donnie went to Louisiana and Texas to “survey storm damage and receive briefings on emergency operations and ongoing relief efforts”.  His appearance helps nobody and accomplishes nothing, but is yet another photo op.  Ask yourself, if he weren’t campaigning, fighting to retain his title, would he have bothered?  I think not, and I can only wonder if he took a case of paper towels to throw at people as he did when he toured Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017.  Ask yourself this:  how much did this photo op cost U.S. taxpayers?  I wouldn’t begrudge any amount of money to actually provide help to the victims of the storm, but I absolutely do not wish to fund Trump’s pointless trip.

The Week’s Best Cartoons 8/29

As always on Saturday, our friend TokyoSand has picked the cream of the crop in this week’s political cartoons. She also shares a story of one of those cartoons that appalls me and I think it will you, too. Thank you, TS, for all your work on this. By the way … I did go follow Luckovich on Twitter and re-tweeted this important cartoon!

Political⚡Charge

ByMike Luckovich, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

As a lifelong admirer of editorial cartoonists, I love looking for the cartoons that grab my attention throughout the week and compiling my favorites for all of you. This week, the cartoonists were primarily focused on the GOP convention and the ongoing fallout from the police violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

In a slight departure from what I normally do on Saturdays, which is to let the cartoons speak for themselves, I do want to point out that I picked Mike Luckovich’s “Active Shooter Drill” cartoon as the header for a very specific reason. That story is at the end of today’s roundup.

GOP Convention

ByMatt Davies, Newsday

ByClay Jones

By David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Daily Star

ByAnn Telnaes, Washington Post

ByPat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

ByMichael de Adder

ByMatt Wuerker, Politico

ByTom…

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Our Next President Speaks …

Last night concluded the Democratic National Convention, the results of which contained no surprises.  I initially thought the convention served no purpose at this time … we all knew the outcome, it was just more pomp, more meaningless ceremony.  But I was wrong, for yes, we knew Biden would be the nominee, but a number of excellent speeches inspired and gave us hope, including those by Michelle Obama, President Barack Obama, soon-to-be First Lady Jill Biden, and lastly, soon-to-be President Joe Biden himself.  In case you missed it, here is both the speech and the transcript of Joe’s speech … I hope you find inspiration and hope in it, as I did.


Good evening.

Ella Baker, a giant of the civil rights movement, left us with this wisdom: Give people light and they will find a way.

Give people light. Those are words for our time.

The current president has cloaked America in darkness for much too long. Too much anger. Too much fear. Too much division.

Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us not the worst. I will be an ally of the light not of the darkness.

It’s time for us, for we the people, to come together. For make no mistake. United we can, and will, overcome this season of darkness in America. We will choose hope over fear, facts over fiction, fairness over privilege.

I am a proud Democrat and I will be proud to carry the banner of our party into the general election. So, it is with great honor and humility that I accept this nomination for president of the United States of America.

But while I will be a Democratic candidate, I will be an American president. I will work as hard for those who didn’t support me as I will for those who did.

That’s the job of a president. To represent all of us, not just our base or our party. This is not a partisan moment. This must be an American moment.

It’s a moment that calls for hope and light and love. Hope for our futures, light to see our way forward, and love for one another.

America isn’t just a collection of clashing interests of red states or blue states.

We’re so much bigger than that. We’re so much better than that.

Nearly a century ago, Franklin Roosevelt pledged a New Deal in a time of massive unemployment, uncertainty, and fear. Stricken by disease, stricken by a virus, F.D.R. insisted that he would recover and prevail and he believed America could as well. And he did. And so can we.

This campaign isn’t just about winning votes. It’s about winning the heart, and yes, the soul of America. Winning it for the generous among us, not the selfish. Winning it for the workers who keep this country going, not just the privileged few at the top. Winning it for those communities who have known the injustice of the “knee on the neck.” For all the young people who have known only an America of rising inequity and shrinking opportunity. They deserve to experience America’s promise in full.

No generation ever knows what history will ask of it. All we can ever know is whether we’ll be ready when that moment arrives. And now history has delivered us to one of the most difficult moments America has ever faced.

Four historic crises. All at the same time. A perfect storm. The worst pandemic in over 100 years. The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The most compelling call for racial justice since the ’60s. And the undeniable realities and accelerating threats of climate change.

So, the question for us is simple: Are we ready? I believe we are. We must be.

All elections are important. But we know in our bones this one is more consequential. America is at an inflection point. A time of real peril, but of extraordinary possibilities.

We can choose the path of becoming angrier, less hopeful and more divided. A path of shadow and suspicion. Or we can choose a different path, and together, take this chance to heal, to be reborn, to unite. A path of hope and light.

This is a life-changing election that will determine America’s future for a very long time. Character is on the ballot. Compassion is on the ballot. Decency, science, democracy. They are all on the ballot. Who we are as a nation. What we stand for. And, most importantly, who we want to be. That’s all on the ballot.

And the choice could not be clearer. No rhetoric is needed. Just judge this president on the facts: Five million Americans infected with Covid-19. More than 170,000 Americans have died. By far the worst performance of any nation on Earth. More than 50 million people have filed for unemployment this year. More than 10 million people are going to lose their health insurance this year. Nearly one in six small businesses have closed this year.

If this president is re-elected we know what will happen. Cases and deaths will remain far too high. More mom-and-pop businesses will close their doors for good. Working families will struggle to get by, and yet, the wealthiest 1 percent will get tens of billions of dollars in new tax breaks.

And the assault on the Affordable Care Act will continue until its destroyed, taking insurance away from more than 20 million people — including more than 15 million people on Medicaid — and getting rid of the protections that President Obama and I passed for people who suffer from a pre-existing condition.

And speaking of President Obama, a man I was honored to serve alongside for eight years as vice president, let me take this moment to say something we don’t say nearly enough: Thank you, Mr. President. You were a great president. A president our children could — and did — look up to.

No one will say that about the current occupant of the office. What we know about this president is if he’s given four more years he will be what he’s been the last four years: a president who takes no responsibility, refuses to lead, blames others, cozies up to dictators, and fans the flames of hate and division. He will wake up every day believing the job is all about him. Never about you.

Is that the America you want for you, your family, your children? I see a different America. One that is generous and strong. Selfless and humble. It’s an America we can rebuild together.

As president, the first step I will take will be to get control of the virus that’s ruined so many lives. Because I understand something this president doesn’t. We will never get our economy back on track, we will never get our kids safely back to school, we will never have our lives back, until we deal with this virus.

The tragedy of where we are today is it didn’t have to be this bad. Just look around. It’s not this bad in Canada. Or Europe. Or Japan. Or almost anywhere else in the world.

The president keeps telling us the virus is going to disappear. He keeps waiting for a miracle. Well, I have news for him, no miracle is coming.

We lead the world in confirmed cases. We lead the world in deaths.

Our economy is in tatters, with Black, Latino, Asian-American, and Native American communities bearing the brunt of it. And after all this time, the president still does not have a plan.

Well, I do. If I’m president on day one we’ll implement the national strategy I’ve been laying out since March. We’ll develop and deploy rapid tests with results available immediately. We’ll make the medical supplies and protective equipment our country needs. And we’ll make them here in America. So we will never again be at the mercy of China and other foreign countries in order to protect our own people. We’ll make sure our schools have the resources they need to be open, safe, and effective. We’ll put the politics aside and take the muzzle off our experts so the public gets the information they need and deserve. The honest, unvarnished truth. They can deal with that. We’ll have a national mandate to wear a mask — not as a burden, but to protect each other. It’s a patriotic duty. In short, I will do what we should have done from the very beginning.

Our current president has failed in his most basic duty to this nation. He failed to protect us. He failed to protect America. And, my fellow Americans, that is unforgivable.

As president, I will make you this promise: I will protect America. I will defend us from every attack. Seen. And unseen. Always. Without exception. Every time.

Look, I understand it’s hard to have hope right now. On this summer night, let me take a moment to speak to those of you who have lost the most. I know how it feels to lose someone you love. I know that deep black hole that opens up in your chest. That you feel your whole being is sucked into it. I know how mean and cruel and unfair life can be sometimes. But I’ve learned two things. First, your loved ones may have left this Earth but they never leave your heart. They will always be with you. And second, I found the best way through pain and loss and grief is to find purpose.

As God’s children each of us have a purpose in our lives. And we have a great purpose as a nation: to open the doors of opportunity to all Americans. To save our democracy. To be a light to the world once again. To finally live up to and make real the words written in the sacred documents that founded this nation that all men and women are created equal. Endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. Among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

You know, my dad was an honorable, decent man. He got knocked down a few times pretty hard, but always got up. He worked hard and built a great middle-class life for our family. He used to say, “Joey, I don’t expect the government to solve my problems, but I expect it to understand them.” And then he would say: “Joey, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about your dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about your place in your community. It’s about looking your kids in the eye and say, honey, it’s going to be O.K.”

I’ve never forgotten those lessons. That’s why my economic plan is all about jobs, dignity, respect and community. Together, we can, and we will, rebuild our economy. And when we do, we’ll not only build it back, we’ll build it back better. With modern roads, bridges, highways, broadband, ports and airports as a new foundation for economic growth. With pipes that transport clean water to every community. With five million new manufacturing and technology jobs so the future is made in America. With a health care system that lowers premiums, deductibles, and drug prices by building on the Affordable Care Act he’s trying to rip away. With an education system that trains our people for the best jobs of the 21st century, where cost doesn’t prevent young people from going to college, and student debt doesn’t crush them when they get out. With child care and elder care that make it possible for parents to go to work and for the elderly to stay in their homes with dignity. With an immigration system that powers our economy and reflects our values. With newly empowered labor unions. With equal pay for women. With rising wages you can raise a family on. Yes, we’re going to do more than praise our essential workers. We’re finally going to pay them. We can, and we will, deal with climate change. It’s not only a crisis, it’s an enormous opportunity. An opportunity for America to lead the world in clean energy and create millions of new good-paying jobs in the process.

And we can pay for these investments by ending loopholes and the president’s $1.3 trillion tax giveaway to the wealthiest 1 percent and the biggest, most profitable corporations, some of which pay no tax at all. Because we don’t need a tax code that rewards wealth more than it rewards work. I’m not looking to punish anyone. Far from it. But it’s long past time the wealthiest people and the biggest corporations in this country paid their fair share. For our seniors, Social Security is a sacred obligation, a sacred promise made. The current president is threatening to break that promise. He’s proposing to eliminate the tax that pays for almost half of Social Security without any way of making up for that lost revenue.

I will not let it happen. If I’m your president, we’re going to protect Social Security and Medicare. You have my word.

One of the most powerful voices we hear in the country today is from our young people. They’re speaking to the inequity and injustice that has grown up in America. Economic injustice. Racial injustice. Environmental injustice. I hear their voices and if you listen, you can hear them too. And whether it’s the existential threat posed by climate change, the daily fear of being gunned down in school, or the inability to get started in their first job — it will be the work of the next president to restore the promise of America to everyone.

I won’t have to do it alone. Because I will have a great vice president at my side. Senator Kamala Harris. She is a powerful voice for this nation. Her story is the American story. She knows about all the obstacles thrown in the way of so many in our country. Women, Black women, Black Americans, South Asian Americans, immigrants, the left out and left behind. But she’s overcome every obstacle she’s ever faced. No one’s been tougher on the big banks or the gun lobby. No one’s been tougher in calling out this current administration for its extremism, its failure to follow the law, and its failure to simply tell the truth.

Kamala and I both draw strength from our families. For Kamala, it’s Doug and their families. For me, it’s Jill and ours. No man deserves one great love in his life. But I’ve known two. After losing my first wife in a car accident, Jill came into my life and put our family back together. She’s an educator. A mom. A military mom. And an unstoppable force. If she puts her mind to it, just get out of the way. Because she’s going to get it done. She was a great second lady and she will make a great first lady for this nation. She loves this country so much. And I will have the strength that can only come from family. Hunter, Ashley and all our grandchildren, my brothers, my sister. They give me courage and lift me up. And while he is no longer with us, Beau inspires me every day.

Beau served our nation in uniform. A decorated Iraq war veteran. So I take very personally the profound responsibility of serving as commander in chief.

I will be a president who will stand with our allies and friends. I will make it clear to our adversaries the days of cozying up to dictators are over. Under President Biden, America will not turn a blind eye to Russian bounties on the heads of American soldiers. Nor will I put up with foreign interference in our most sacred democratic exercise — voting.

I will stand always for our values of human rights and dignity. And I will work in common purpose for a more secure, peaceful, and prosperous world.

History has thrust one more urgent task on us. Will we be the generation that finally wipes the stain of racism from our national character? I believe we’re up to it. I believe we’re ready.

Just a week ago yesterday was the third anniversary of the events in Charlottesville. Remember seeing those neo-Nazis and Klansmen and white supremacists coming out of the fields with lighted torches? Veins bulging? Spewing the same anti-Semitic bile heard across Europe in the ’30s? Remember the violent clash that ensued between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it? Remember what the president said? There were quote, “very fine people on both sides.”

It was a wake-up call for us as a country. And for me, a call to action. At that moment, I knew I’d have to run. My father taught us that silence was complicity. And I could not remain silent or complicit. At the time, I said we were in a battle for the soul of this nation. And we are.

One of the most important conversations I’ve had this entire campaign is with someone who is too young to vote. I met with 6-year old Gianna Floyd, a day before her daddy, George Floyd, was laid to rest. She is incredibly brave. I’ll never forget. When I leaned down to speak with her, she looked into my eyes and said, “Daddy changed the world.” Her words burrowed deep into my heart. Maybe George Floyd’s murder was the breaking point. Maybe John Lewis’ passing the inspiration. However it has come to be, America is ready to in John’s words, to lay down “the heavy burdens of hate at last” and to do the hard work of rooting out our systemic racism.

America’s history tells us that it has been in our darkest moments that we’ve made our greatest progress. That we’ve found the light. And in this dark moment, I believe we are poised to make great progress again. That we can find the light once more.

I have always believed you can define America in one word: possibilities. That in America, everyone, and I mean everyone, should be given the opportunity to go as far as their dreams and God-given ability will take them.

We can never lose that. In times as challenging as these, I believe there is only one way forward. As a united America. United in our pursuit of a more perfect union. United in our dreams of a better future for us and for our children. United in our determination to make the coming years bright. Are we ready? I believe we are.

This is a great nation. And we are a good and decent people. This is the United States of America. And there has never been anything we’ve been unable to accomplish when we’ve done it together.

The Irish poet Seamus Heaney once wrote:

History says,

Don’t hope on this side of the grave,

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed-for tidal wave

Of justice can rise up,

And hope and history rhyme.

This is our moment to make hope and history rhyme. With passion and purpose, let us begin — you and I together, one nation, under God — united in our love for America and united in our love for each other. For love is more powerful than hate. Hope is more powerful than fear. Light is more powerful than dark.

This is our moment. This is our mission. May history be able to say that the end of this chapter of American darkness began here tonight as love and hope and light joined in the battle for the soul of the nation. And this is a battle that we, together, will win. I promise you.

Thank you. And may God bless you. And may God protect our troops.

NOT Hyperbole — But Truth

Thomas Friedman, three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, author of numerous books on foreign affairs, global trade, the Middle East, globalization, and environmental issues, and weekly columnist for the New York Times, has written a column this week that I think every adult in this nation needs to read.  I have long said that if Trump is allowed a second term, the structure of our nation will be forever changed, that Donald Trump has every intention of turning this nation into a full autocracy.  But my saying it is a bit less likely to reach the ears of many, and less likely to be taken seriously, than Thomas Friedman saying it.  So please, friends, read and if you can, share this one with any and all who might be sitting on the fence this election year.

Will 2020’s Election Be the End of Our Democracy?

A free and fair vote and the prospect of a peaceful transfer of power are both in question.

friedmanThomas L. Friedman

By Thomas L. Friedman

Opinion Columnist

Here is a sentence I never in a million years thought that I would ever write or read: This November, for the first time in our history, the United States of America may not be able to conduct a free and fair election and, should President Trump be defeated by Joe Biden, have a legitimate and peaceful transfer of power.

Because if half the country thinks their votes were not fully counted due to deliberate sabotaging of the U.S. Postal Service by this administration, and if the other half are made to believe by the president that any mail-in vote for Biden was fraudulent, that would not result in just a disputed election — not another Bush v. Gore for the Supreme Court to sort out — that would be the end of American democracy as we know it. It also isn’t hyperbole to say it could sow the seeds of another Civil War.

The threat is real.

So, personally, I will walk, I will jog, I will skip, I will crawl, I will slither, I will bike, I will hike, I will hitchhike, I will drive, I will ride, I will run, I will fly, I will roll, I will be rolled, I will be carried, I will trek, I will train, I will trot, I will truck, I will strut, I will float, I will boat, I will ramble, I will amble, I will march, I will bus, I will taxi, I will Uber, Lyft, scooter, skateboard or motorcycle — and I will wear a face mask, a face shield, gloves, goggles, a hazmat suit, a spacesuit or a wet suit — but I damn well will get to my neighborhood polling station to see that my vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is cast and counted on Nov. 3.

And it is not because I am some raving liberal. It’s because I believe that America, at its core, is still a center-left, center-right country and is best governed by someone who can reforge the two and lead from there. I believe that Biden is the one who can do that best, and that is actually the source of his appeal to many Americans.

I understand that in the midst of a pandemic in-person voting the way I intend to do is simply not an option for many people for reasons that have nothing to do with Trump.

To begin with, many retired people, who usually staff polling stations, are afraid to volunteer this year out of fear of contracting the coronavirus. And many other people legitimately fear that if they have to stand in crowded, longer lines at fewer polling stations, this, too, could increase their likelihood of infection.

Also, it is not Trump’s fault, per se, that the Postal Service is not normally set up to get a massive crush of mail-in ballots out and back in time for every vote to be cast and counted.

What is Trump’s fault is that instead of leading — pulling Congress and all the governors together to organize an emergency response to this unprecedented challenge posed to our national election — the president has used his bully pulpit to try to persuade the country that any mail-in vote — except in states that might support him, like Florida — should be seen as fraudulent, and he has deliberately sought to choke off funds to the Postal Service needed for an emergency expansion of its capacity to efficiently handle all these votes by mail.

Trump said in a press conference last Wednesday that he would not sign off on either $25 billion in emergency funds for the U.S.P.S. or $3.5 billion in election assistance to help states, both of which Democrats have been pressing for as part of a federal Covid-19 relief bill.

“They need that money in order to have the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” Trump told Fox Business Network the next day. “But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting, because they’re not equipped to have it.”

I have covered banana republic dictators who were more subtle than that in attempting to rig their elections or undermine votes for their opponent.

What to do policy-wise? Bombard your congressman’s and senators’ offices with email and protests, protect your neighborhood mailbox from being removed and, most important, join those protesters in the streets outside the Northwest D.C. home of Trump’s postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, putting him on notice that if he does not change his ways, for the rest of his life, everywhere he goes, every restaurant he enters, every movie he attends, every time he walks his dog, people will say, “There goes the man who deliberately eviscerated the Postal Service so that Americans could not have their votes counted in the 2020 election.”

That prospect already seems to have made some headway with DeJoy. While the president continues to plant utterly bogus seeds of doubt everywhere he can about mail-in voting, DeJoy on Tuesday declared that he was suspending cost-cutting and other operational changes.

But we cannot rely on DeJoy or Trump to play this election straight. For instance, DeJoy didn’t say that he would reverse moves already made that have been cited as intended to undercut vote-by-mail.

We have to help every locality recruit more poll workers — Republicans and Democrats, we need multitudes of both to ensure everyone feels represented — so that polling stations can open and handle everyone who wants to vote.

If you are young and healthy or have recovered from Covid-19, volunteer to work at the polls. Go to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s website for details on how to become a poll worker and rules for voting in each state.

At the same time, go to vote.org/am-i-registered-to-vote and make sure you are registered to vote and, if you are and want to vote by mail, go to vote.org/absentee-ballot and secure an absentee ballot for the November election.

To me, this is our generation’s D-Day or E-Day. Think about it. The American soldiers who landed on Normandy Beach, under a barrage of Nazi artillery fire, on June 6, 1944, were actually voting with their lives so that the rest of us could vote with our ballots — in person or by mail — in every election from that day forth, even if it was in the middle of a pandemic.

Now is our turn to step up, Don Baer, President Bill Clinton’s director of White House communications, remarked to me the other day, explaining: “There are millions of college students living at home or taking classes remotely. They are more or less the same ages as those troops who hit the beaches of Normandy that morning in June 1944.

“It would be so helpful if they enlisted to be poll watchers, to take Covid tests and, if they are free of the disease, help take at-risk voters, their fellow citizens, to the polls, one by one, so they can vote, and to help sanitize polling places as often as necessary to make them safe places for people to enter and exercise the most fundamental freedom we have.”

So, I don’t care who you vote for. But don’t let this election be stolen by people trying to deliberately engineer it so not everyone can vote — or so that not every vote will be counted. That would be the ultimate insult to the boys of Normandy Beach.