Sunday, May 31, 2020

Journalists Beware

Following the arrest on Friday morning of CNN reporter Oscar Jiminez in Minnesota, Ben Smith of the New York Times was interviewed on Hill TV. At 2:30 of the video below, he can be seen noting "you know, there's a long tradition of cops mistreating journalists, particularly black journalists, during protests."

Forbes' Patricia Brownlee has remarked "CNN reporter Omar Jimenez was arrested arguably for 
doing nothing other than having the audacity to do his job while also being a person of color." She asked three questions, one of which was "How would this have played out differently if the person were white (male or female)?"

We're getting a pretty good idea of the answer now that

Linda Tirado, a freelance photographer, activist and author, was shot in the left eye Friday while covering the street protests in Minneapolis.

Ms. Tirado is one of a number of journalists around the country who were attacked, arrested or otherwise harassed — sometimes by police and sometimes by protesters — during their coverage of the uprisings that have erupted nationwide after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

With trust in the news media lagging, journalists have found themselves targeted.

A television reporter in Louisville, Ky., was hit by a pepper ball on live television by an officer who appeared to be aiming at her, causing her to exclaim on the air: “I’m getting shot! I’m getting shot!”

Outside the White House, protesters attacked a Fox News correspondent and his crew, taking the journalist’s microphone and striking him with it.

The latter journalist, Leland Vittert, appears to be white. So do Kaitlin Rust, the unlucky journalist in Louisville, and Linda Tirado.

None of these journalists- unlike Jiminez- was identified by his or her ethnicity. That journalistic failure is as common as it is critical.

It's a huge problem because we're thereby missing a major story- or, depending upon interpretation- a major part of the entire story. Jiminez, an Afro-Latino, himself may have been targeted in part because he appears a "person of color," a/ka/a "colored person."  Some people have pointed out that Josh Campbell, a white CNN reporter a block away, was not detained at all.. However, we do not have hard evidence as to the reason for the arrest, other than the apparent comment by the arresting officer that he was "following orders."

Nonetheless, we do know that in one instance (Rust) the culprit was a police officer and that in one instance (Vittert) the culprit was a citizen mob.  The attacker of Leland- who is now blind in her left eye- probably was a law enforcement officer, but that has not been definitively determined. All three appear to be non-Hispanic whites. (Vittert's crew may or may not have been.)

The report of only one incident was honest and complete. In Jiminez' case, we were told, properly, that he was not a non-Hispanic white. The reports on the other cases unsurprisingly omitted mentioning the individuals' ethnicity. In America. In 2020. After the killing of George Floyd.

We're learning many things, among them that (as the left periodically complains) we don't talk enough about race and that the media is all too ready to accommodate that.  Further, we know the answer to Patricia Brownlee's question. It's not mandatory that journalists be black or Latino. It's mandatory that they be journalists.

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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Standard Operating Procedure

It's not as brutal or revolting as the apparent murder of a black man by a white policeman in Minneapolis, as stunning as the protests which it provoked nor as dramatic and destructive as the riots which followed. But it probably will be even more deadly that

The Trump administration shelved a document created by the nation’s top disease investigators with step-by-step advice to local authorities on how and when to reopen restaurants and other public places during the still-raging coronavirus outbreak.

The 17-page report by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” was researched and written to help faith leaders, business owners, educators and state and local officials as they begin to reopen.

It was supposed to be published last Friday, but agency scientists were told the guidance “would never see the light of day,” according to a CDC official. The official was not authorized to talk to reporters and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

The AP obtained a copy from a second federal official who was not authorized to release it. The guidance was described in AP stories last week, prior to the White House decision to shelve it.

This was guidance. The CDC was not ordering churches or municipal officials, nor was it discouraging churches from swinging their doors open. There was nothing partisan or political. It was scientists and doctors presumably staying in their own lane, offering advice which would help save lives.

No surprise, then, that it was shelved by the Trump Administration. When the big boss wants people to die, no one must get in his way.

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Friday, May 29, 2020

May 29, 2020

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States... (Section 2, Clause 1, Constitution of the United States of America)

December 7, 1941, a day that will live in infamy.  August 29 (or September 5), 1967, the day the running stopped.. One was catastrophic, the other fictional yet poignant.

And now we have May 29, 2020. That's 5/29/20, when as most normal people were sleeping

Don't be distracted, as was Twitter, which

later placed warnings on Trump’s tweets, saying that the messages violated the social media giant’s rules against glorifying violence.

“This Tweet violates our policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today,” the site shared.

Trump's tweets were not primarily about violence. The key word in the first tweet was "I," as in "I will send in the National Guard...."  Similarly, in the second tweet the key words are "Military" and "we will assume control." National Guard troops can be "folded into the regularly Army" (here inapplicable) or federalized by the President so "they can be used in domestic emergencies much like they are used in state emergencies." Minnesota Governor Walz has activated National Guard soldiers, a wise decision in part because it virtually eliminates any excuse for the President to nationalize them.

There is, however, no doubt about "the Military." The President is commander in chief of the military and any failure on its part to disobey or disregard his orders can bring swift disciplinary action.

When Donald Trump invokes the threat of using the "military," it can mean only one thing. Were he to do so, those forces, under control of the President, would be unlikely to be removed once the crisis were resolved.  They would remain there, and they would remain under control of President Donald J. Trump.

The misunderstanding of Trump's motives extended to the extraordinary news of this Friday morning when

A CNN crew was arrested while giving a live television report Friday morning in Minneapolis -- and then released about an hour later -- as the crew covered ongoing protests over the death in police custody of George Floyd.

State police detained CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez, his producer and his photojournalist shortly after 5 a.m. CT (6 a.m. ET) as Jimenez was reporting live from a street south of downtown, near where a police precinct was earlier set ablaze.

Jimenez could be seen holding his CNN badge while reporting, identifying himself as a reporter, and telling the officers the crew would move wherever officers needed them to. An officer gripped his arm as Jimenez talked, then put him in handcuffs.

"We can move back to where you like. We are live on the air here. ... Put us back where you want us. We are getting out of your way -- wherever you want us (we'll) get out of your way," Jimenez said to police before he was led away.

"We were just getting out of your way when you were advancing through the intersection," Jimenez continued.

Police told the crew they were being detained because they were told to move and didn't, one member of the CNN crew relayed to the network.

That claim is almost certainly false. Much more credible, however, is the remark Jiminez, back in the streets, made to the CNN audience after he was released. The officer stated (at 2:45 of the video below) that he had made the arrest because he was "just following orders."

Assuming that Jiminez is being truthful- a near-certainty- and that the officer was telling the truth- not as certain but very likely- this is a critically important element.

CNN's Josh Campbell was not arrested and network pundit Bakari Sellers stated "We have a white reporter on the ground, and we have a brown reporter on the ground. They are a block
apart. The brown reporter is arrested and the white reporter is telling us what's happening."

While as an observation that is accurate, as an opinion it is misguided. Although ethnicity may have been a factor, it was not the prime motive of whomever in the state police ordered or encouraged the arrest.

The most relevant aspect was that the individual arrested was a reporter- and for extra points, one representing CNN.  In an interview in the Oval Office last June, a reporter from TIME magazine

reminds Mr Trump that some of his aides had "testified under oath, under threat of prison time" that the president had tried to influence the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Mr Trump snaps back: "Excuse me... Well, you can go to prison instead, because if you use, if you use the photograph you took of the letter that I gave you confidentially.

"I didn't give it to you to take photographs of it - So don't play that game with me."

Only five weeks ago, the President admonished CNN as he often has in the past:

It's hard to believe that anyone can do more damage to the country than President Trump has done in his first term.  But the rule of law, freedom of speech, and other cornerstones of American representative democracy are on the line on November 4, 2020.  And this time Donald Trump is making sure everyone hears his threat loud and clear.

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

"Recognize It"

Do you remember Dr. Anthony Fauci?

Of course you do because he is still in the Trump Administration, even after two weeks ago he cautioned against premature reopening of schools and businesses and the President countered "I was surprised by his answer, actually. It's just -- to me it's not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools."

He remains because he has shilled for the return of professional sports and has suggested there may be a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine by the end of the year, a possibility the President wants voters to consider on November 3, 2020. But most of all, he remains because he is great on television, and there may be nothing  more admired by Donald Trump. That helps the President maintain credibility with the American people and the media.

And so I know Charlie Pierce is underestimating the danger:

He may be raving or even a maniac, depending upon interpretation of the word. However, he's neither out-of-control nor stupid. From a rising political scientist, a more important take:

Perhaps he'll come first for Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, which will be more easily controlled pursuant to an executive order the President is preparing as of this moment. Then it may be "the boring but very nasty magazine, The Atlantic"  or the Washington Post's Jeff Bezos, whom Trump wants to bring down, not because of Amazon but rather The Washington Post.

In a second Trump Administration, the President wouldn't have to shut any of them down.  As of Thursday morning, Trump was prepared to sign an executive order "that could open the door for federal regulators to punish" the three social media platforms. There is a variety of options a re-elected, re-energized Trump claiming the Mandate of All Mandates could employ to strike fear into media organizations throughout the nation, to persuade them to acquiesce in the dismantling of the First Amendment.

It is not a joke from a broken-down or maniacal stand-up comedian. It is a threat. Donald Trump recognizes an excellent communicator- such as Dr. Fauci- when he sees one and uses him accordingly. He knows what he is doing and his Administration is warning us.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Safety In Numbers

After the videotaped killing by a police officer of Charles Floyd, Minneapolis authorities wasted no time:
How did that work out for you, Minneapolis?

Police used tear gas to disperse a crowd after some protesters turned unruly, Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder told CNN.

Some demonstrators wheeled a shopping cart full of rocks just outside the precinct and dumped the rocks on the ground for people to throw, a CNN team there reported. A police cruiser's back window was shattered when someone threw something at it.

Police outside Minneapolis Police Department's 3rd Precinct fired what appeared to CNN's team on the scene to be non-lethal projectiles at demonstrators.

Officers fired "foam marking rounds," but no rubber bullets, after some protesters became unruly, Elder said.

Those rounds are meant to mark individuals that officers believe may be instigating violence for later investigation, Elder said.

Walter Shaub notes an obvious disconnect:
Of course, there is a difference. Elected officials and the police, who are normal people, want most of all to simplify their jobs, prevent discord, and go home to their families. In Michigan (and a few other places), protesters brazenly violated orders from the governor, who knew instinctively that her political future lay in not doing anything. Unless she chose- as a Democrat would not- to exploit the riots which otherwise would have resulted, scenes of street violence would have been hard to explain away.  

By contrast, in Minneapolis the rioting already had begun and directly threatened police officers, which they rarely find comforting.

As Shaub noted, there is a contradiction. However, law enforcement officers, backed by superiors within and without their departments, must perform their job as they are sworn to do.  They should respond when, encouraged by decisive action in dismissing officers complicit in a killing, citizens violently attack police vehicles. And they should respond when armed protesters defy legal orders to practice social distancing.

In the latter case, the Police Department failed in its mission. In the former, it reacted promptly with non-lethal force.  The problem lay not with the response of law enforcement in Minneapolis, but in Michigan.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

An Invitation From The Governor

For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God. While according to Scripture that leaves us all short, some people sin more than others. The Washington Post on Sunday reported

Vacationers flocked to the Lake of the Ozarks over the holiday weekend, flouting social distancing guidelines as they packed into yacht clubs, outdoor bars and resort pools in the Missouri tourist hot spot.

Images of the revelry rippled across social media, showing people eating, drinking and swimming in close quarters. In one picture shared by the news station KSDK, dozens of people could be seen crammed on an outdoor patio underneath a sign reading, “Please practice social distancing.”

If you build it, they will come; so too, if you encourage them.  Those partygoers are extremely irresponsible, and the media had a field day- actually, three field days- showing video to the disgust and ridicule of viewers, a convenient outlet for our moral outrage.  However, individuals do inevitably sin- or to employ technical terminology, many people are jackasses.  Put two and two together, human nature (or nurture) and a generally Republican state and region (apologies to residents of the city of St. Louis or Kansas City), and you have a recipe for disaster.

This one must not be on them.As The Post explained

After Missouri’s stay-at-home order expired May 3, Gov. Mike Parson (R) said a range of businesses, including large venues, could resume service as long as seating was spaced out to enforce social distancing. State guidelines mirror those issued by the federal government, instructing people to stay six feet apart when they are outside their homes.

Social distancing.  This is not Costco or Wal-Mart but the Lake of the Ozarks, where people shop out of necessity and don't expect to have a rollicking good time. What, pray tell, did Governor Parson expect state residents to do? They might have stayed home, in which case there would have been little benefit to opening such venues. Or they could have taken the governor's cue and come out in force- and neither would they, nor could they, practice social distancing.

The governor likely knew what to expect, for 

Many businesses around the Lake of the Ozarks closed in the spring when the pandemic hit. But as the state moved to reopen, they allowed guests to rebook reservations. Several hotels and resorts told local media last week that they were fully booked through the weekend.

In videos shared widely on social media, people could be seen lined up outside Backwater Jack’s, waiting to enter the already packed bar and grill.

The governor knew what would occur- or his staff completely failed him. Congregating by the hundreds without proper safeguards endangers the participants. But it especially endangers the friends, relatives and co-workers they have by now returned to. And if the latter contract Covid-19, that is to many Trumpists less bug than benefit, and misery loves company.

Governor Parsons realizes that. However, the show must go on, business must thrive, and greed also. "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil," the apostle Paul wrote, and "some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."

One governor, one foolish decision, and people will die as a result. Let's place the blame squarely on the individual most responsible.

 "A pandemic couldn’t cancel America’s most crowded parties this Memorial Day weekend," another Washington Post reporter wrote. But it could have, and would have= at least in Missouri- if only the state's chief executive had assumed the responsibility he should have. 

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Sunday, May 24, 2020

Violence Awaits

How is this for "Minnesota Nice"?

Come for the taunts, stay for the assault at :07.

A week earlier, this was- or appeared to be- bad enough when it occurred on Long Island, NY:

The bearded guy at :20 dared the reporter to respond, after which the mob would have turned on the reporter. So it was only a matter of time until an assault would take place.

Pierce is wrong about the more recent incident. It was not a mere "nuisance" but a misdemeanor assault under the criminal statues of the state of Minnesota.There is little doubt that the woman attempted to cause fear in Lou Raguse, have him respond, and let the mob do the work for her.

Authorities have been intimidated into passivity by crowds there and rallying outside of state capitols,. Police officers, their superior officers, and the public officials who bear ultimate responsibility are counting on reporters exhibiting extreme self control when protesters attempt to incite violence in Long Island, Minnesota, and at places to come.

But at some time there will be a reporter or another individual performing his or her job and will respond as most individuals would, and as John Wayne would have recommended:  “I won't be wronged. I won't be insulted. I won't be laid a-hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.” Supporters of Donald Trump will not be satisfied, and will eventually provoke the violence they are encouraging until law enforcement recognizes the threat being posed.

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Saturday, May 23, 2020

Biden And Trump


Cutting short (apparently unavoidably) an interview with an African-American talk show host on Thursday, Joe Biden was asked if he'd return later in the year for a second interview. Biden rashly responded  "If you have a problem figuring out whether you're for me or Trump, then you ain't black."

It was a stupid and insulting remark. It also missed the point of the invitation, which was less to figure out whether the host would vote for Biden than to get the candidate more on the record and to elicit a commitment from him on issues important to the black community. 

The real concern should be why the presumptive Democratic nominee for President, as well as other politicians and celebrities, would grant an interview with someone who calls himself "tha God.' However, Joseph Robinette Biden, rather than the multi-millionaire Lenard Larry McKelvey, is running for President and the candidate does not want to make the same mistake as did presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, who foolishly turned down an opportunity to sit down and chat with Howard Stern.

Moreover, as bad as was the comment made by Biden, the Never Trump Republican married to Kellyanne Conway had a fine retort to Republicans who quickly exploited the gaffe. President Clinton's press secretary had an even better response.
It's not a matter of apologizing. Politicians rarely actually apologize, strategically avoiding stating "I shouldn't have said (or done) what I did. It was wrong."  Donald Trump, as much as he has squashed and obliterated practically every norm, has strictly adhered to this regrettable custom.

Nonetheless, Trump's praise of Henry Ford for his "bloodlines" is not only reprehensible, but offers a window into his partiality for eugenics. When he stated "The company founded by a man named Henry Ford -- good bloodlines, good bloodlines, if you believe in that stuff. You got good blood," Trump yet again implied that those he considers winners in life got there through heredity. He is a guy who believes that some people are born superior to others, and it's no one's responsibility to help those who are inferior.

Noel Casler, the comic who previously worked on the set of The Apprentice, has tweeted "Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to let the smallest, most ignorant, venal, racist, drug addicted sexual predator this country has ever produced be POTUS." And it was a particularly bad idea during a pandemic, when the goal should be to keep people- all people, regardless of their station in life- alive, rather than the reverse.

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President Trump's speech in Ypsilanti, Michigan on Thursday was fascinating in two respects, though the the Intercept's Thomas Mackey addresses only one in the report in which he writes

In an apparent ad-lib, Trump looked up from his prepared remarks — which praised the firm for teaming up with General Electric to produce ventilators and face shields for medical workers — to observe that Henry Ford’s descendants, like the current chairman, Bill Ford, who had introduced the president, have “good blood.

“The company founded by a man named Henry Ford,” Trump’s prepared text appeared to say, “teamed up with the company founded by Thomas Edison — that’s General Electric.” But when Trump came to Ford’s name, he looked up from the text and observed: “good bloodlines, good bloodlines — if you believe in that stuff, you got good blood.”

 We can't blame this one on Stephen Miller, the most prominent immigration restrictionist in the Administration, given that the remark evidently was ad-libbed. And as Mackey indicates, it fits in perfectly with what we understand as Trump's view of nature and nurture, which in turn corresponds intimately with the President's biases.  Mackey notes

Trump has made no secret of his own belief that he inherited everything from intelligence to an ability to withstand pressure through the “great genes” passed on to him by his parents and grandparents. He has also frequently compared the importance of “good bloodlines” in humans to the breeding of champion racehorses, a view that overlaps in uncomfortable ways with those of eugenicists and racists like Ford.

“I’m proud to have that German blood,” Trump once told an interviewer. “You’ve all got such good bloodlines,” Trump reportedly told British business leaders at a dinner in 2018. “You’ve all got such amazing DNA.”

Trump has also frequently suggested that because his uncle, John Trump, taught for decades at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he is similarly smart. “My uncle was a great professor and scientist and engineer, Dr. John Trump at MIT,” Trump said at a South Carolina rally in 2015. Pointing at his right temple, he then added: “Good genes, very good genes — okay? — very smart.”

Then in March, after he spoke to scientists working on the coronavirus response at the CDC in Atlanta, Trump told reporters: “I like this stuff. You know, my uncle was a great person. He was at MIT, he taught at MIT for, I think, like a record number of years. He was a great super genius. Dr. John Trump. I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it…. Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability.”

So it should be no surprise that the President has engineered a response to the coronavirus crisis either horribly incompetent- or frighteningly competent, with intent to create as much death and suffering as possible.  Some people simply don't have good bloodlines, and the gene pool cannot be allowed to be degraded because of their continued existence.

And thus, it only makes sense that

“Some governors have deemed liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential, but have left out churches and other houses of worship,” the president told reporters at the White House on Friday. “It’s not right. So I’m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential.”

Trump added: “The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now. For this weekend. If they don’t do it, I will override the governors. In America we need more prayer, not less.”

In many houses of worship, especially those which draw big numbers, attendance will not be safely restricted. there may be contact with other attendees or with the pastor. Droplets with the coronavirus will abound when attendees sing.  Prayer itself poses dangers.

There will be death which would be avoidable if worship services are not held. There will be death among parishioners and among individuals whom they return home to or work with.

Initially, Trump's skeptics suggested that the President was choosing the economy over caution. Once they understood that people realized that failure to fight SARS-Cov-2 itself would harm the economy, they began gingerly to imply that Trump was as concerned about re-election as about easing the pandemic.

Recognition that the President is unconcerned will prove inescapable, and even that is generous. Of course the President left the briefing room immediately after issuing his statement, obviously wishing to avoid questions. He does care about whether Americans get sick and die- just not in the traditional and conventional sense of rooting against it.

*The original version of this post referred  to "the most prominent immigration restrictionist in the Administration" as "Stephen Moore." It should have been "Stephen Miller."

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Friday, May 22, 2020

Sent By God- But For What?

Resist laughing:
It depends upon the meaning of "our."  You'll remember last August when Donald Trump "turned from reporters, looked up at the sky, and proclaimed  'I am the chosen one.'"

And no, Chris Cillizza and Politico's Matthew Choi, Trump was not "joking" or sarcastic. Sarcastic would be if Trump were to refer to himself as modest, skinny, or short.  The humor comes in the words being the opposite- not an approximation or exaggeration- of what is apparent.

Talk show host and Trump enthusiast Bill Mitchell believes the President  "was sent by God to lead America."   Whether Donald Trump was sent by God or not, the apostle Paul wrote

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

Candidate Trump himself once infamously- and uncharacteristically- quoted the Bible, reading "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." He stated that the verse was from "Two" Corinthians, doubling down by lying "a lot of people in different sections of the world say two, and I've had many, many people say that to me. My mother, as you know, was from Scotland, and they say two."

Speaking at his inauguration "one by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind," Donald Trump seemed to be prophesying his presidency, absent the 95,000 (and counting) deceased Americans. 

"False apostles ... disguising themselves as apostles of Christ" and Satan disguising "himself as an angel of light?" It couldn't be more fitting that among the 66 books of the Bible, that appears in..... Second (2)Corinthians.

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Thursday, May 21, 2020

His Would Not Be The Death

On Tuesday night

“Our president is a hydroxymoron,” Jimmy Kimmel quipped on his ABC show. “It’s hard to process, but are we surprised that the guy who thought windmills cause cancer thinks a lupus drug kills coronavirus?”

Like a number of the reporters present during Monday’s event, Kimmel had the same question for Trump: Why?

“Why would he do this?” Kimmel asked. “Why would he do this to prevent coronavirus and not wear a mask to prevent the virus?”

Kimmel answered his own question, telling viewers that he had “thought about it for a long time” before coming to what he said is “the only reasonable conclusion.”

“He’s trying to kill himself,” Kimmel said. “Remember how we all said he didn’t really want to be president? He wished he was home at Mar-a-Lago playing golf and finding ways to humiliate his friends, that he’s miserable in the White House? Well, guess what: I think we were right and I think he’s had enough.”

But is President Trump really trying to kill himself, thus possibly a hydroxymoron?

It's uncertain that President Trump actually is taking the dangerous drug, though Dr. Jonathan Reiner, longtime cardiologist of Dick Cheney and frequent guest on "OutFront" with Erin Burnett, believes that he is. As Reiner explains below (and has at other times), he thinks- as a doctor- that Trump's decision is unwise.

Nonetheless, we shouldn't jump to the conclusion that taking hydroxychloroquine is as dangerous for the king as it would be for any of the king's subjects. On Friday, Reiner had noted

So it's a very interesting question and having at least peeked into that world for a while, I can tell you that it's not so easy to answer. So let's look at it another way and look I've dumped on this drug for two months now. And I know, at least, from the clinical data that it doesn't work in sick patients.

I don't know if it works or doesn't work in this setting, but this is what I know, the President has a significant exposure to COVID-19, maybe from two people, from both his valet and from Ms. Miller.

We know because he's almost 74 and he has some evidence of heart disease and he's clearly obese. We know that he has a substantial risk of dying from COVID-19, maybe somewhere between 15 percent and 20 percent. We also know that there are demonstrable risks to taking the drug, but because he's the President of the United States, because he has unparalleled access to 24/7 healthcare, on demand healthcare, basically stapled to him, his medical team can attenuate some of that risk by doing frequently EKGs, measuring is QTc interval, which is the EKG interval, which is increased by the drug and can create a problem.

The President has on-demand health care. Moreover, he can undergo an electrocardiogram, which would pick up a heart arrhythmia- the most dangerous side effect of the drug- any time he wishes.

It's likely, therefore, that if Trump suffered any complications from the hydroxychloroquine, it would be promptly discovered by his physician. At worst, he then would have to be taken to a hospital, presumably the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. You may remember Walter Reed from Trump's sudden trip there last November, for which purpose is still unknown, and which caused the President exactly zero political problems.

So if Trump suffered from ill effects of taking the drug, we might never even learn of it. However, some supporters of his, those who trust his every word, will be tempted to take the drug.  A few of them will do so, under a doctor's care or not.

Probably a few of those will die from the medication. Meanwhile, were the President to take the drug and not contract Covid-19 (and he probably wouldn't), he can tout the effectiveness of the substance, an implied rebuke to medical experts, whom many Trump acolytes already distrust or even loathe.

That's a win-win for Donald Trump, who is not trying to kill himself, and is not a "hydroxymoron." Nor is he any kind of moron- somewhat unhealthy (physically and/or mentally), ignorant, heartless, even evil, but no moron.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Corruption Is Transparent

The video below indicates as minority leader of the Georgia House of Representatives Stacey Abrams did relatively little to promote progressive values. Moreover, she appears to be just the vice-president a Democrat would not want negotiating with a senate majority leader Mitch McConnell.

However, after leaving the state legislature and losing an extremely close gubernatorial race, Abrams founded Fair Fight 2020 to combat GOP voter suppression efforts. And she can been in the puff interview below noting (at :53)

Voting rights serves as the conduit to which all other change is possible. You cannot tackle economic insecurity, you cannot fight for better climate change legislation, you cannot protect access to criminal justice reform.The things we want to see become real become so because of voting.

So if any politician had made the following statement before Donald Trump swallowed the Republican Party, it would be his most significant lie. And for this President, still in the top 10% is his tweet (since deleted)

Breaking: Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election. This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!..

This didn't go unnoticed:

Not deleted, however, is

Obviously, Trump is setting the predicate for declaring that his defeat (if it occurs) in November is a "rigged election"- and worse.  The armed mobs supporting him will follow.

Not quite as obvious is the more immediate motive.   The President is sending a message about mail balloting to secretaries of state throughout the USA. Do it my way, he screams, or your state can forget about receiving funds from the federal government- not unlike his message to Ukraine.

The American people are deeply cynical about government, one of the reasons they didn't resoundingly throw Donald Trump onto the ash heap of history, or back to the gutter he came from, when he shot his mouth off about the upcoming 2016 election being "rigged."  Organizations like those of Abrams and Eric Holder's National Redistricting Foundation should be supplemented by a narrative which would serve to counter Trump's continuing project to portray himself (and his party) as a victim.

It's not sufficient for Democrats to insist they believe in democracy and access to the ballot box.  the incumbent is intent on stealing the election, they should argue.  That would not only be a reasonably effective counter-narrative; it also would be accurate. Donald Trump has told us so.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

One Path To Republican Victory

On Monday evening, Nancy Pelosi famously- or infamously- stated of Donald Trump

As far as the president is concerned, he's our president and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and in his, shall we say, weight group, morbidly obese, they say. So, I think it's not a good idea.

Many people (not all of them fat) believe that making this statement was not a good idea:
Credit Chris Cillizza for doing the nearly unthinkable in American media nowadays, considering less the political impact than the accuracy of Pelosi's remark. (If Trump's personal physician is in the right zip code about the President's weight, Trump is obese but not morbidly so, according to CDC guidelines.)

Admittedly, being overweight appears to be among the least of Donald J. Trump's 1,251 faults, although asserting that he is an "idiot" is even more ridiculous. That's because Donald Trump, and the Party whose extreme right-wing ideology he promulgates, is no dummy. On the day before we learned that Republican governor Brian Kemp of Georgia cancelled an election so he could appoint a successor to a retiring state Supreme Court justice, The New York Times reports on a GOP program

which has gained steam in recent weeks, envisions recruiting up to 50,000 volunteers in 15 key states to monitor polling places and challenge ballots and voters deemed suspicious. That is part of a $20 million plan that also allots millions to challenge lawsuits by Democrats and voting-rights advocates seeking to loosen state restrictions on balloting. The party and its allies also intend to use advertising, the internet and Mr. Trump’s command of the airwaves to cast Democrats as agents of election theft.

The efforts are bolstered by a 2018 federal court ruling that for the first time in nearly four decades allows the national Republican Party to mount campaigns against purported voter fraud without court approval. The court ban on Republican Party voter-fraud operations was imposed in 1982, and then modified in 1986 and again in 1990, each time after courts found instances of Republicans intimidating or working to exclude minority voters in the name of preventing fraud. The party was found to have violated it yet again in 2004....

The Republican program escalates a focus on limiting who can vote that became a juggernaut after the Supreme Court dismantled the Voting Rights Act in 2013. It also reflects an enduring tension in American life in which the voting rights of minorities — whether granted in 1870 by the 15th Amendment or nearly a century later by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — seldom seem free from challenge.

Besides the national party and Mr. Trump’s campaign strategists, conservative advocacy groups are joining lawsuits, recruiting poll monitors and mounting media campaigns of their own....

"Collateral damage,"  instead of killed; "enhanced interrogation," instead of torture; "slept with" instead of had sex with. Now we have "poll monitors" instead of thugs. The Times continues

“They don’t need to keep millions of people away” from the polls, Ms. Groh-Wargo said. “Challenge a couple of voters here, a couple there, and it all aggregates up. They realize they’re going to win or lose this thing at the margins.”

Among other things, Democrats cite Mr. Trump’s repeated demands that law enforcement officers patrol the polls and the recent creation of voter-fraud task forces by Republicans in four state governments, at least in part at the national party’s urging.

History suggests this is well-founded concern because

The court order vacated in 2018 involved repeated efforts to depress Democratic turnout. In the first instance, the party recruited off-duty police officers wearing “National Ballot Security Task Force” armbands to monitor polling places in black and Latino neighborhoods in New Jersey. A Democratic lawsuit claimed the officers hectored poll workers and voters and stopped volunteers from helping voters cast ballots....

Joe Biden may stumble as the Democratic presidential nominee.  The economy may stabilize. The Speaker of the House may enrage some people with "fat shaming."

Any of these, and other factors, might contribute to Donald Trump's re-election and maintenance of a GOP-controlled Senate. However, they are small potatoes.  Republicans know their way victory in November is through voter suppression, and they won't be stymied unless Democrat understand that and aggressively prepare.

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Monday, May 18, 2020

Trump's Effort Paying Off

"Many people who are dying, both here and around the world were on their last legs anyway, and I don’t want to sound callous about that."  -Bill O’Reilly, April 8, 2020

Donald Trump knows better than to be so blunt. However, The Washington Post has reported

Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, told Congress on Thursday that political pressure forced “dozens of federal scientists” to spend a harried 48-hour stretch rushing to put together a protocol for approving hydroxychloroquine for widespread use in covid-19 patients. Ultimately, that approach wasn’t taken. The FDA issued an emergency authorization for hospitalized covid-19 patients who cannot participate in a clinical trial.

In his whistleblower complaint, Bright said he was removed from his position in part because of his reluctance to promote the use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, because they had not been tested and deemed safe for treating covid-19....

“So we have had some great response, in terms of doctors writing letters and people calling on the hydroxychloroquine,” Trump told reporters Thursday. “And this guy is fighting it. There’s no reason to fight it. There’s no reason. But more importantly than that, we’ve had tremendous response to the hydroxy.”

But doctors, health experts and officials from Trump’s own administration say the evidence does not back up the president’s positive assertions. Those assertions, which Trump has claimed are partly based on “a feeling,” could be costing lives, they said.

One can only hope, President Trump (and O'Reilly) can almost be heard thinking. In one study of Veterans Affairs patients

More than 27 percent of patients treated with hydroxychloroquine died, and 22 percent of those treated with the combination therapy died, compared with an 11.4 percent death rate in those not treated with the drugs, the study said.

And in a collateral benefit for Donald Trump, as of March the USA had

all but exhausted its supplies of two anti-malarial drugs that are being used by some doctors in the U.S. and China to treat the coronavirus, but which lack definitive evidence as effective treatment or approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Hopes that the decades-old drugs could be effective against the coronavirus were also boosted by President Trump, who told a White House press briefing last week that the compounds were “a game-changer'' and have shown “very, very encouraging results.'' He made similar remarks Friday and tweeted the recommendation again on Saturday morning, saying he hoped the medicines will "be put in use IMMEDIATELY.”

The sudden shortages of the two drugs could come at a serious cost for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis patients who depend on them to alleviate symptoms of inflammation, including preventing organ damage in lupus patients.

That sounds like a win-win for a President who last week in Allentown, Pennsylvania, described his concept of beauty- death to the weak- as nurses who are

warriors aren't they, when you see them going into those hospitals and they're putting the stuff that you deliver, but they're wrapping themselves, and the doors are opening, and they're going through the doors, and they're not even ready to go through those doors, they probably shouldn't, but they can't get there fast enough, and they're running into death just like soldiers run into bullets in a true sense, I see that with the doctors and the nurses and so many of the people that go into those hospitals, it's incredible to see, it's a beautiful thing to see.

We're presently at 91,000+ deaths in the USA from covid-19, and Donald Trump's frustration is only that we cannot get to the six digit milestone soon enough.

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Sunday, May 17, 2020

Not Taking That Chance, No, Sir

Any article, book, seminar, or political science course entitled "How to Win a Presidential Primary," must include as its first rule a lesson learned the hard way by Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar and sixteen years earlier by Richard Gephardt and Howard Dean. In the run-up to the Iowa caucus in January of 2004, CNN reported

The campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful Dick Gephardt on Thursday accused Howard Dean's camp of illegally sending out-of-state supporters to Iowa to caucus in cities and towns across the state -- an accusation Dean's manager called "ridiculous on its face."

The accusation by Gephardt's campaign is one of the most serious leveled at Dean, the front-runner who has become a larger target in the weeks before the January 19 Iowa caucus, the kickoff of the presidential election year.

Dean and Gephardt are running neck-and-neck in Iowa.....In a letter to Dean's campaign manager, Joe Trippi, Gephardt's manager, Steve Murphy, said a Dean staff member "has contacted us to confess that efforts to send non-Iowans to caucus is indeed a critical piece of your 'perfect storm' strategy."

The Dean and Gephardt campaigns savaged each other as John Kerry went on to win that caucus, with Dean finishing third and Gephardt fourth, and the Massachusetts senator went on to win the nomination.

Fast-forward to 2016 because the 2008 Democratic primary process was fought largely by two individuals, the incumbent president cleared the field in 2012, and 2016 came down to two rivals, B. Sanders and H. Clinton.

With a fairly crowded field in 2020, Amy Klobuchar went after Elizabeth Warren, who in turn savaged Pete Buttigieg and Mike Bloomberg. Only one of them (Warren) even made it to Super Tuesday, and she just barely. Comparatively speaking, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden  remained above the fray.

Most people have underestimated the importance of that dynamic to the 2020 primary campaign. Among those who have not, some ignore the parallel to the 2004 campaign.

Bill Maher's Real Time has a segment, with an eclectic mix of items, which the host calls "I don't know it for a fact, I just know it's true." And I don't know it for a fact, I just know it's true that former President Barack Obama understands very well that lesson of 2004 and 2020.  Politico notes

Former President Barack Obama on Saturday criticized the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic during a commencement address to college graduates, saying some leaders “aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”

"This pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they're doing,” Obama said during a two-hour virtual commencement for graduates of historically black colleges and universities that streamed on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

The former president, who did not mention President Donald Trump by name, has generally shied away from weighing in on politics or criticizing his successor since leaving office, but has more recently spoken out against the current administration’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

He's the last President with class, dignity, or any claim on truth-telling, the last who did not forfeit American leadership of the world, and one who currently receives high grades from the American people.

And he won't mention Donald Trump by name. He generally won't weigh in on politics or criticize President Trump.  In that manner, he does less than most Americans do, many of us every day, and many (not myself) who make a major sacrifice in doing so.

He's that way even though he has the second largest platform in the United States of America.  His speech to the 2020 graduates Saturday evening would be, according to this report, "shown on ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC as well as YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, California Music Channel, CNN, ESPN, The CW, FOX Business Network, FOX News Channel, Twitter, Freeform, MSNBC, Univision and over a dozen other outlets and platforms." (There there was earlier that day a speech for graduates of historically black colleges and universities.)

Former President Obama has a responsibility, and that responsibility goes beyond generalities, platitudes, even inspiring eloquence, Mr. Obama's specialty. He must name names, or at least one name.

He is invariably unwilling to do that, and it is no accident.  If Barack Obama were to criticize President Trump explicitly, Trump would counter-attack. The latter might then appear disingenuous, even foolish. He probably would look bad- but so would his target.

This would suit Donald Trump- who is determined to "flood the zone"- just fine. However, it would not suit Barack Obama, whose interest in undermining Trump is exceeded by his interest in not besmirching his own reputation, lest it chip away at his legacy.

And why should he take that chance? Barack Obama's favorability among Democrats is extremely high, and he didn't get that way by being daring, forthright, or progressive. There is no reason he should start now.

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Saturday, May 16, 2020

"Remedy" For A Free Media

In March of 2018, the well-respected Jonathan Swan of Axios could innocently remark

Capitol Hill wants Facebook’s blood, but President Trump isn’t interested. Instead, the tech behemoth Trump wants to go after is Amazon, according to five sources who’ve discussed it with him. “He’s obsessed with Amazon,” a source said. “Obsessed.”

President Trump cares no more about Amazon than the Midwestern reader of this blog does about today's weather in Asuncion, Paraguay. Ten months later, determined more people would recognize his intention, the President would tweet

It was clear it wasn't Facebook which Trump was obsessed with any more than he was concerned with AT&T when three months later
He wasn't bothered with AT&T but with a major news organization. However, to make sure he was understood, on May 15, 2020 the President ratcheted up his campaign with

Now we've been warned in very uncertain terms. The Administration is working to remedy this illegal situation of a media operating freely under the First Amendment. And without even calling upon law enforcement and other instruments of state control, a re-elected Donald Trump will be able to depend upon his minions to do his bidding:
This was in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York, home of gun control. In other states they won't be unarmed. 

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One of Our Own, Or So He Says

So do your thing ,Charles! Stephen A. Smith on Fox News on Wednesday night commented I got to tell you something. As much as people may ha...