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RIP RBG

Thing that I expect will happen:

  • Evangelicals will claim that God killed Ruth Bader Ginsburg so that Republicans can appoint another arch conservative to the court.
  • Mitch McConnell will ram someone through, despite the hypocrisy of sitting on Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland for most of a year. In fact, McConnell has already said he will do that.
  • The GOP actions will enable the Democrats to pack the court, assuming that Democrats prevail in both the presidency and the Senate in this election. The only question is whether they will stop at 11 or go to 13.
  • Partisanship will get even worse.
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REPAIR

Last week, former DHS officials Miles Taylor and Elizabeth Neumann formed the REpublican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform (REPAIR), consisting of current and former Trump officials who oppose his reelection. We already knew that Biden leads Trump in the key demographic of people who used to work for Trump, but it is interesting that some current members of the Trump administration are also members of REPAIR.

The new newest members of REPAIR are Josh Venable, the former chief of staff to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and Olivia Troye. You might not have heard of Troye, but she was Mike Pence’s top advisor for homeland security and counter terrorism, and significantly was also the lead staffer for the coronavirus task force.

On Thursday, Troye released a video that tears into Donald Trump and condemns his handling of the pandemic. You really should watch it. It is only two minutes long:

Of course, Trump dismissed Troye, but he did this by calling her a disgruntled employee, and ironically observed that 99% of people who depart his administration are disgruntled and seem to have a personal beef with him. So I’m curious — what percentage of former members of the Trump administration have gone on to condemn Donald Trump. Or, as Troye just did, announce they will vote for Joe Biden?

We already know that the number of people who did the same thing during the Obama administration is pretty much zero.

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Three Tweets

“Biden leads Trump among women, people of color, and former members of the Trump administration.” @WindsorMann

“Trump campaign strategy now clear: he’s running against the election itself.” @sbg1

“Is it just me, or did Nixon do a hell of a lot less than Trump at this point?” @chipfranklin

© Jen Sorensen
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The Trump IQ Test

[I can’t resist reprinting today’s entire post from Helen Philpot, she of the wonderful blog “Margaret and Helen“. It is epic. Enjoy! –iron]

This old lady took the Trump IQ Test and she is smarter than the President. You can take the test here.

Margaret, there is a new test out to determine if you are smarter than Donald Trump. I took it and, shockingly, he is a moron. You should take it too. It’s pretty simple but let me explain how it was developed.

President Trump [sic] told reporters that the US is doing very well with COVID. Despite our leading the world in deaths, Trump explained, “If you take the blue states out, we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at. We’re really at a very low level.”

If you take the Blue States out, America would be doing better than every other country. Key to this premise is that Blue States have to be taken out. Big Blue States like California which has the same number of deaths as Big Red Texas. Or Blue States like Illinois which has fewer deaths than Crazy Red Florida. Or Super Blue Colorado which has done better than Super Red Tennessee.

By the way, related but unrelated. There are reports that some White House staffers have tested positive. I offer thoughts and prayers. I’m not sure they are the right thoughts and prayers, but prayer is a deeply personal thing for me.

Anyway, back to the point of my story…

I know what you are all probably thinking. I am sure that Blue States would like nothing more than to get the hell out of Trump’s America. And you can be just as sure that Red States would love to see the Blue States go. Without the Blue States, there is even a slight chance Trump might win the popular vote this fall. From where I stand, for Trump the departure of the Blue States might be a win win. But sadly, the Red States simply can’t afford it. 

Any moron with half a brain knows that California, New York, and Illinois make up almost a third of the nation’s economy. Or another way to put it, 30% of the nation’s economy is driven by 3% of its states. To put a finer point on it, Texas PLUS Florida don’t add up to California. And without New York the Red Southern States would be broke in a month.

But I am kind of getting off track here. We are talking about COVID deaths in Blue States making Trump look bad. Don’t you understand? All you people dying are making him look bad. Just wear a damn mask and stop dying.  No. Wait.  Masks make him look bad.  Plus, waiters hate masks. Forget the masks. Just stop dying. Be more like Red States.

Let’s make this simple just in case any of Trump’s supporters are actually reading this.

Take Canada. Those idiots to our North with national healthcare, low gun violence, Anne Murray, a Prime Minister who looks stunning in a mask and a flag that is less offensive than a dress made from a pattern purchased at Hobby Lobby must be doing worse than the Red States. I mean that flag is the opposite of offensive. It’s a damn leaf. How tough can you be if your flag is a wussy maple leaf? So, let’s see how those idiots in Canada have been doing.

Canada has a population of roughly 37 million. They have seen 9,200 deaths from COVID.  That’s 24 deaths per 100,000 Canadians.  And don’t forget, Trump said this virus goes away with warm weather. Canada is a lot of things, but it is not warm. It’s a God damn sheet of ice. The average temperature is like 30 degrees below zero. Well, actually, I am not really sure what the average temperature is, but the lowest temperature ever recorded there was −63 °C. Google it and see it you can find the average temperature for Canada. It’s so bad they won’t publish it. And they report their temperature in C. What the hell is Celsius? Those bastards. Anyway, it’s cold and yet they have a COVID death rate of 24 per 100,000 or less than 10,000 total deaths for the entire country.

Let me pause here.

My sincere condolences to every single family who has lost a loved one… in Canada… in America… in the entire world. Truly. My heart goes out to you and I wish you peace. Why our President is unable to show anything resembling sympathy is beyond me. So, on behalf of 68% of the American people, we are terribly sorry. And we are thankful that your rate isn’t worse. And your Prime Minister really is stunning in a mask. You are lucky to have someone who leads by example.

But speaking of death rates that are worse…

Trump said, “…we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at.”  If you take out the Blue States.

OK.  Simple civics.  Simple math.

Simple civics:  One nation under God, indivisible.

Simple math: Canada wins.

  • Mississippi rate per 100,000 is 92
  • Georgia rate per 100,000 is 60
  • Florida rate per 100,000 is 60
  • South Carolina rate per 100,000 is 60
  • Alabama rate per 100,000 is 51
  • Texas rate per 100,000 is 50

In fact, if Canada was a state it would rank 35th out of 51. Alaska does better which is really odd because Alaska is just a bunch of frozen water. And some trees. It has trees. But not the exploding kind. And mountains. Alaska is lovely, really. Those Red States are lucky to have Alaska. Birthplace to Sarah Palin. But the Blue States have Hawaii. Thank God for Hawaii. Birthplace to President Barack Obama… we think.

Other countries that are doing better than Red States:

  • Argentina – 24
  • Honduras – 21
  • Iraq – 20
  • Kuwait – 13
  • Germany – 12
  • Finland – 6
  • Australia – 3
  • Kenya – 1

In fact, 43 countries are doing better than Trump’s Red States. It could be more. There were so many, I just stopped counting.

But hey, here is some good news. The United States under President Trump is doing better than Peru.  #MAGA.

So, about that new test. The one that can determine if you are smarter than Donald Trump… It’s an amazingly simple test.  You add up all those numbers and you get one question. Oddly enough it’s a Math Word Problem.

TRUMP IQ TEST

If two trains pull away from a station at the same time and one is going south at a rate of 15 miles per hour and the other is going north at a rate of 20 miles per hour and Donald Trump is the Engineer on one of the trains, do you get on the train without Donald Trump or do you just kill yourself at the station?

Answer: Donald Trump lies. Absolutely don’t get on the Trump train because it will fucking kill you. I mean it. Really.

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Signs of the Times

We have a new commandment:

I guess the clothing company Patagonia has had enough. They have started putting a new hidden tag into their lines of active clothing:

Many people are buying Patagonia products just to get one (or more!) with the special tag. The best part of this is that it isn’t even overtly partisan. Of course, everyone knows who the assholes are (including the assholes themselves!). But according to the company, they are specifically targeting climate deniers.

Of course, Donald Trump just a couple of days ago told Californians (who are getting burned by a record number of out-of-control fires) not to worry about climate change, saying “It”ll start getting cooler. You just—you just watch.” The head of California’s Natural Resources Agency responded “I wish science agreed with you.” Trump shot back “I don’t think science knows, actually.” Of course, this is a guy who thinks you can fight Covid-19 by injecting bleach into your veins.

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“A Fire Hose of Lying”

Daniel Dale fact-checks claims made by Donald Trump during the ABC town hall. It has gotten to the point that the majority of what Trump says is a baldfaced lie.

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Anti-Social Media

I believe that social media has become the most powerful and potent purveyor of propaganda in existence.

A memo written by a now-former data scientist at Facebook is full of multiple concrete examples of the company being aware of it being used to spread propaganda, but doing nothing about it. In fact, Facebook and other social media build their algorithms to maximize sensational content (at the expense of truth) in order to attract eyeballs and make more money. They don’t really care about checking facts or shutting down bots that amplify misinformation. And they are only too happy to take money from foreign governments to influence our elections.

© Michael Ramirez

Note: I don’t normally post comics by Michael Ramirez because he mostly just repeats Republican talking points, but I couldn’t resist on this one. Here’s a comic by another artist for “balance”:

© Steve Sack

UPDATE: Article from the Washington Post headlined “Pro-Trump youth group enlists teens in secretive campaign likened to a ‘troll farm,’ prompting rebuke by Facebook and Twitter”. Here’s a quote:

The messages have been emanating in recent months from the accounts of young people in Arizona seemingly expressing their own views — standing up for President Trump in a battleground state and echoing talking points from his reelection campaign.

Far from representing a genuine social media groundswell, however, the posts are the product of a sprawling yet secretive campaign that experts say evades the guardrails put in place by social media companies to limit online disinformation of the sort used by Russia during the 2016 campaign.

Teenagers, some of them minors, are being paid to pump out the messages at the direction of Turning Point Action… The campaign draws on the spam-like behavior of bots and trolls, with the same or similar language posted repeatedly across social media. But it is carried out, at least in part, by humans paid to use their own accounts.

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Panic

Donald Trump claiming that he totally downplayed the seriousness of Covid-19 and the pandemic to “prevent panic” is one of the most hilarious things I have ever heard come out of his mouth. If it weren’t for Trump’s incompetence, far, far fewer people would have spread the disease. Did he not think that hundreds of thousands of people dying — parents, family, friends, loved ones — wouldn’t cause a little panic? Or a helluva lot?

Even more hypocritical, here is just a top-of-my-mind list of things, people, and groups that Trump has used to scare people and create panic:

  • Mexican “drug dealers, criminals, rapists”.
  • MS-13.
  • Immigrants in general, from virtually anywhere other than Europe, especially Trump’s “shithole countries“.
  • Peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters, even encouraging his followers to shoot them.
  • Kneeling football players.
  • Blacks in general.
  • Democrats in general.
  • Scientists, especially climate scientists, and those who take Covid-19 seriously.
  • Mainstream media sources (“fake news”).
  • Military leaders (“war lovers“)
  • Foreign leaders who aren’t far-right, despots, or dictators.
  • People who vote by mail.
© Rick McKee

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Weather or Not

Heatwaves, out of control fires, strong hurricanes, shrinking ice sheets, sea level rise — these are all dangerous effects of global climate change. So how does the Trump administration respond? By appointing climate science denier David Legates to a top post at NOAA, which runs the National Weather Service.

The head of NOAA under Barack Obama says about Legates, “He’s not just in left field — he’s not even near the ballpark.” According to a prominent climate scientist:

At a time when those impacts are playing out before our very eyes in the form of unprecedented wildfires out West and super-storms back East, I cannot imagine a more misguided decision than to appoint someone like Legates to a position of leadership at an agency that is tasked with assessing the risks we face from extreme weather events.

© Brian McFadden
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Poseidon for Biden!

Last weekend there was a boat parade in support of Donald Trump on Lake Travis near Austin, Texas. But high winds (and too many boats) caused havoc with many boats taking on water, engines stalling, and boats capsizing. Five of the boats sank entirely.

Which led to the following faux campaign poster:

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Why people cling to Trump

I know this article is a week old, but there were just too many things going on that pushed this down in my stack. But you really should read this article in The Atlantic titled “Why Trump Supporters Can’t Admit Who He Really Is“.

When I’m talking to various liberal people, a common refrain is that we can’t figure out why Trump’s base continuously dismisses his terrible behavior and even believes his obvious lies and even rejoices in his venal corruption. Well, here’s your answer.

The bottom line is that they believe that “If Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins the presidency, America dies.” If you believe that Biden is an existential threat to you, your family, and your beliefs, then you will find a way to tolerate and even justify virtually anything Trump does to save you.

That is the message that is being delivered to them by the Republicans, by Fox News and other right-wing media, and even by their churches:

During last week’s Republican National Convention, speaker after speaker insisted that life under a Biden presidency would be dystopian. Charlie Kirk, the young Trump acolyte who opened the proceedings, declared, “I am here tonight to tell you—to warn you—that this election is a decision between preserving America as we know it and eliminating everything that we love.” President Trump, who closed the proceedings, said, “Your vote will decide whether we protect law-abiding Americans or whether we give free rein to violent anarchists and agitators and criminals who threaten our citizens. And this election will decide whether we will defend the American way of life or allow a radical movement to completely dismantle and destroy it.” And in between Americans were told that Democrats want to “disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home, and invite MS-13 to live next door” and that they “want to destroy this country and everything that we have fought for and hold dear.”

“They’re not satisfied with spreading the chaos and violence into our communities. They want to abolish the suburbs altogether,” a St. Louis couple who had brandished weapons against demonstrators outside their home, told viewers. “Make no mistake, no matter where you live, your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats’ America.”

This creates a strong tribal identity that people cling to:

When groups feel threatened they retreat into tribalism. They close ranks and become more insular, more defensive, more punitive, more us-versus-them.

As a result, they will justify almost anything. For example:

In just the past two weeks, the president has praised supporters of the right-wing conspiracy theory QAnon, which contends, as The Guardian recently summarized it, that “a cabal of Satan-worshipping Democrats, Hollywood celebrities and billionaires runs the world while engaging in pedophilia, human trafficking and the harvesting of a supposedly life-extending chemical from the blood of abused children.” Trump touted a conspiracy theory that the national death toll from COVID-19 is about 9,000, a fraction of the official figure of nearly 185,000; promoted a program on the One America News Network accusing demonstrators of secretly plotting Trump’s downfall; encouraged his own supporters to commit voter fraud; and claimed Biden is controlled by “people that are in the dark shadows” who are wearing “dark uniforms.”

Trump believes his own government is conspiring to delay a COVID-19 vaccine until after the election. He retweeted a message from the actor James Woods saying New York Governor Andrew Cuomo “should be in jail” and another from an account accusing the Portland, Oregon, mayor of “committing war crimes.” The president is “inciting violence,” in the words of Maryland’s Republican Governor, Larry Hogan. Trump defended 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, a supporter who is charged with first-degree homicide; and stated that if he loses the election in November it would be because it was “rigged.” At the same time, the second-ranking House Republican, among other of the president’s supporters, has shared several manipulated videos in an effort to damage Biden.

Telling these people that Donald Trump is a lying, corrupt con man won’t help. When people believe they are drowning, they will grasp at straws.

The article even points out that Democrats have done similar things in the past (albeit to a lesser degree). For example:

The degree to which Democrats, including feminists, overlooked or accepted Bill Clinton’s sexually predatory behavior—including his campaign’s effort to smear his accusers and its use of a private investigator to destroy Gennifer Flowers’s reputation “beyond all recognition”—is an illustration of this. So Flowers was branded a “bimbo” and a “pathological liar,” even though Clinton later, under oath, admitted to having an affair with her.

But as usual, Trump has taken this to an extreme:

But what’s different in this case is that Trump, because of the corruption that seems to pervade every area of his life and his damaged psychological and emotional state, has shown us just how much people will accept in their leaders as a result of “negative partisanship,” the force that binds parties together less in common purpose than in opposition to a shared opponent. As the conservative writer David French has put it, with Donald Trump and his supporters we are seeing “negative partisanship in its near-pure form, and it’s the best way to explain Trump’s current appeal to the Republican party.” His ideology is almost entirely beside the point, according to French: “His identity matters more, and his identity is clear—the Republican champion against the hated Democratic foe.”

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Tough being a Republican

Although equally tough to feel sorry for this pitiful senator.

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Bernstein on Woodward

The team that blew open Watergate, Carl Bernstein talks about Bob Woodward’s new book about Donald Trump, Rage. Woodward interviewed Trump 18 times and has recordings of Trump.

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Everyone Knows

The Atlantic, which published the article about how Donald Trump calls soldiers in the military “losers” and “suckers”, has published a follow-up article by David Frum titled “Everyone Knows It’s True“.

Frum points out that everyone who is claiming the original article is false is deeply beholden to Trump. While everyone who has actual knowledge of Trump’s behavior has remained completely and eerily silent. Nobody with any credibility has defended Trump, because everyone saw and heard Trump disparage John McCain and a Gold Star family. Everyone knows that Trump completely avoided serving in the military because of “bone spurs” that mysteriously disappeared once Trump was safe.

© Keef Knight
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Could Things Get Worse?

© Tom Tomorrow

In fact, today the Trump administration did something that even flabbergasted me. The first two paragraphs say it all:

The Justice Department on Tuesday intervened in the defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who says President Trump raped her years ago, moving the matter to federal court and signaling it wants to make the U.S. government — rather than Trump himself — the defendant in the case.

In filings in federal court in Manhattan, the Justice Department asserted that Trump was “acting within the scope of his office as President of the United States” when he denied during interviews in 2019 that he had raped journalist E. Jean Carroll more than two decades ago in a New York City department store. Carroll sued Trump over that denial in November.

That’s right, “L’état c’est moi” lives. The US government will now defend Trump’s personal (despicable) actions, and the taxpayers would be on the hook for any damages, not Trump. Sheesh!

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