Sunday, September 27, 2020
Well, it's official now: as of September 22,
200,000 Americans are now confirmed dead from Covid-19. For more:
Africa has defied the covid-19 nightmare scenarios. We shouldn't be
surprised. Some numbers here: Liberia, with 5 million people, has
had 82 deaths; Senegal, with 16 million, 302; Rwanda, with 12 million,
26. On the other hand, police in Kenya have killed 15 just enforcing
It's not vaccine nationalism, it's vaccine idiocy.
How Trump is undermining his own vaccine race.
'It's like every red flag': Trump-ordered HHS ad blitz raises alarms.
US coronavirus case count passes 7 million.
'It affects virtually nobody': Trump downplays virus threat to young
Ron DeSantis will get people killed -- and probably won't get Trump
reelected: "This is insane."
Trump is escalating his coronavirus lies: "As the death toll increases,
so does his deceit."
9 experts reflect on the US reaching 200,000 Covid-19 deaths. Most
say things like Tara Smith: "In February, I knew that 200,000 deaths
were theoretically possible, but I honestly didn't believe we'd get to
that point." David Rehkopf points out "that the US is currently 46th i
the world in terms of life expectancy," adding that "all of these same
factors that impact our COVID prevalence and COVID deaths also are in
many ways similar to what leads to our higher overall deaths as well."
He sees "lack of universal health care" as a major contributor.
With 200K dead, Trump spews lies then golfs for the 298th time during
We'll never know the pandemic's true toll on the working class.
Let's start with overflow from the Supreme Court crisis, opened up
by the death last week of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Some articles
came out in anticipation, but it's now official:
Trump selects Amy Coney Barrett to Fill Ginsburg's seat on the Supreme
RBG, the 2020 election, and the rolling crisis of American democracy.
Packing the court might work. Threatening to pack it did. Reviews
Franklin Roosevelt's 1937 court packing proposal, which was ill-fated
in the sense that it didn't get passed. But under pressure, the Supreme
Court stopped invalidating major New Deal legislation, and gradually
Roosevelt's appointees took over the Court. Block emphasizes similarities
between now and 1937, but I'm more struck by two key differences: FDR
and his Democrats had a huge electoral mandate after the 1936 election,
whereas the most Biden can hope for is a slim majority; and while the
majority on the 1930s Supreme Court was casually selected from upper
class conservatives, the Trump Court is stocked with card-carrying
Federalist Society cult members -- not just predisposed to right-wing
sentiments but selected and cultivated for them.
GOP scores huge victory over democracy, integrity as Trump announces
pick to replace RBG.
How Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court could affect LGBTQ
Trump's selection of Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court is part of
a larger antidemocratic project.
Mitch McConnell rams through six Trump judges in 30 hours after blocking
coronavirus aid for months.
Amy Coney Barrett's stare decisis problem -- and ours.
Republicans prep lightning-quick Supreme Court confirmation.
Amy Coney Barrett deserves to be on the Supreme Court: "I disagree
with Trump's judicial nominee on almost everything. But I still think
she's brilliant." I doubt Feldman, a Harvard law professor and former
clerk for Supreme Court Justice David Souter, wrote that headline. He
does say that she's brilliant, and can be expected to produce carefully
reasoned opinions -- "even if I disagree with her all the way." I find
that degree of legalistic wiggle room disturbing. Note that this post
bleeds into another unrelated one of interest: Timothy L O'Brien:
Elections aren't the only things Trump thinks are rigged: "It's
always somebody else's fault when things turn against him." By the
way, another friend of Barrett's has chipped in: O Carter Snead:
I've known Amy Coney Barrett for 15 years. Liberals have nothing to
fear. I recall similar pieces popping up as soon as Cavanaugh got
nominated. All nominees come with PR machines paving the way. Sooner
or later we'll discover that millions of dollars have been raised to
promote this and other nominations. And thanks to recent Supreme Court
rulings, it will be impossible to establish criminal culpability when
the new Justice rewards her benefactors.
Amy Coney Barrett wants felons to have guns, but not votes.
The false link between Amy Coney Barrett and The Handmaid's Tale,
American women need a revolution. It has to be bigger than RBG.
Most memorable line here, about Ginsburg's "improbable" friendship
with Antonin Scalia: "There's no ethical disagreement so profound
that a shared class position can't bridge it." How much harder is it
to form an ethical bridge over a class difference?
Amy Coney Barrett and the triumph of Phyllis Schlafly.
As embraced by jurists like Barrett and her old boss, Antonin Scalia,
originalism is its own dogma; the extension of a political theology
committed to an older and more exclusionary version of America.
Barrett understands all that. She's exactly as intelligent as her
advocates say, and she's made all her choices with a sound mind. Her
reward is power. If she's confirmed by the Senate, she'll be able to
finish what Schlafly once started. She could help lock in Trump for
another four years. She'll be able to deal democracy and yes, the
feminist movement the blows the Christian right has dreamed of
landing for years.
Amy Coney Barrett will strip millions of health insurance.
Meet the man who vets Trump's Supreme Court picks: Leonard Leo,
of the Federalist Society. I've long found it peculiar how Republicans
invariably wind up appointing conservative Catholics to the Court --
are Protestants, who long held sway but lately have become virtually
extinct, too inclined to respect people as individuals?
For more on Leo, see: Robert O Harrow Jr/Shawn Boburg:
A conservative activist's behind-the-scenes campaign to remake the
You might call it a coincidence that Leo is Catholic and all of the
Supreme Court justices he has been involved with since the 1990s have
been Catholic -- with the exception of Gorsuch, who was raised Catholic
but attended an Episcopal church after he married an Anglican. At this
point, the two women who appear to be in contention for nomination by
Trump (and put forward by Leo and the Federalist Society) are also
Catholic. What is of concern, however, is not their religion, but how
it influences their view of the role of the courts. For example, while
a professor at Notre Dame, Barrett said that a "legal career is but a
means to an end . . . and that end is building the Kingdom of God."
Dems should turn Barrett hearings into an anti-GOP informercial.
We've seen at least some of this starting, especially with the ACA case:
This said, Democrats may be well-advised to make the ACA their
number-one issue in the confirmation fight. The conservative legal
challenges to Obamacare don't just constitute an attempt to strip
millions of potentially life-saving insurance subsidies, or change
health-care policy in a toxically unpopular manner; it also represents
an assault on democracy itself. The American people's democratically
elected representatives entertained the question of whether this law
should exist twice, first in 2009 and then in 2017. The verdict is
clear. The unpopularity of the conservative alternative is unmistakable.
Nevertheless, the right has refused to take the electorate's "no" for
an answer, and is now seeking to use its influence over the judiciary
to override the will of the people. In this way, the Obamacare case
conveniently weds the threat that Trump poses to the material interests
of working people with the threat he poses to democracy itself.
Democrats may have no real chance of blocking Barrett's confirmation.
But the Senate's hearings will provide the party an opportunity to clarify
the stakes of the impending vote that they can still win.
Would court packing be too slippery a slope? I think it's premature
to talk about it. People need to understand two things: it's not such a
radical idea; and it's necessitated by the Supreme Court's obstruction
of popular and necessary policies. A good start would be to refer to
Trump's appointments as "packing the Court" -- that is clearly the
intention, and it's been happening for some time (a deliberate effort
to install partisan ideologues, especially relatively young ones, to
build up a long-lasting right-wing majority, and use that to radically
change laws, subverting the normal processes of democracy). You can
also start pointing out how this "packed" right-wing court has already
broken with established norms to further their partisan schemes (e.g.,
campaign bribery = free speech, unlimited gun rights, allowing voting
Trump kept the quiet part quiet about Amy Coney Barrett: In his
announcement, Trump "stayed mum about the real reason he needs her."
As has been noted many times over this past week, the GOP has lost the
popular vote in six of the last seven elections and yet appointed 15
out of the last 19 justices. Barrett would make that 16 out of 20
seats. And that is why the people most assuredly cannot be allowed to
decide the future of reproductive freedom, the future of health care,
or even whether and how their own ballots will be counted in just over
a month. Trump cannot talk about those things because they will
further harm his own polling and will also reflect badly on GOP
senators who pledged to vote for the nominee before they even knew
whom she would be. They cannot talk about those things because
minority rule doesn't poll as well in the U.S. as it does in, say,
Hungary or medieval France. But minority rule is on the ballot. It may
well be the only thing on the ballot. Because if, as the president
promises, his independent justice needs to be seated to decide whose
ballots count, this isn't merely a commitment to entrench unpopular,
dangerous, and partisan policies into constitutional law. It's also a
commitment to commandeering the high court itself into deciding
whether and how to count votes, in an election in which a sitting
president has already pledged that only some voters will be allowed to
pick the winner.
Amy Coney Barrett is even more extreme than Antonin Scalia.
Amy Coney Barrett has a years-long record of ruling against
How the coming fight over Ginsburg's SCOTUS replacement could shape
the Senate elections.
What Amy Coney Barrett on the Supreme Court would mean for abortion
Conservatives are already playing up hypothetical anti-Catholic bias
against Amy Coney Barrett: Because we all know how concerned
conservatives are when it comes to prejudice against minorities?
I'm old enough to remember the old protestant prejudice against
Catholics -- my grandmother was a prime example -- but Catholics
back then (like John Kennedy) disarmed the prejudice by emphasizing
tolerance and the separation of church and state, not by forcing
their most arcane beliefs on their subjects, as Barrett seems to
want to do.
McConnell will sacrifice anything to fill Ginsburg's seat -- even his
Is Amy Coney Barrett joining a Supreme Court built for the wealthy?
"Future decisions by a very conservative majority could give corporations
even more weight and workers less."
RBG's fingerprints are all over your everyday life.
A dangerous moment for the Supreme Court. Can we start referring
to the Federalist Society as a cult?
Trump and McConnell now stand poised to create a conservative majority
on the Court that could last decades. The moment marks a triumph for
the Federalist Society, a conservative and libertarian legal group that
has worked since the nineteen-eighties to recruit ultra-conservative
lawyers to serve as judges. Republicans face a potential backlash in
November, but a dramatic and historic change in American democracy and
jurisprudence is under way that could vastly increase the power of the
Presidency, corporations, and the wealthy, and curtail, or bring to an
end, abortion rights, Obamacare, and expansive voting rights.
'Scranton v Park Avenue' is Biden's best campaign issue -- not the
Supreme Court. He has a point, but as Yglesias points out below,
the two are not unrelated. The Supreme Court in itself is unlikely
to persuade anyone who isn't already committed, but it doesn't hurt
to point to the Republicans' hypocrisy viz. 2016, to the naked power
grab, to the packing of the court with Federalist Society cultists.
Also, the most immediately tangible case before the Supreme Court is
a suit to throw out all of Obamacare on the thinest of technicalities,
and Barrett could be the vote that decides to strip health insurance
from millions of people. Still, the overriding issue of the election
is the conflict between one party which blindly serves an unaccountable,
unelected oligarchy and another party which at least recognizes and is
accountable to the vast majority of Americans. Since winning elections
depends on building a majority coalition, that seems like the obvious
point to make.
The case for ending the Supreme Court as we know it.
There should be no doubt why Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett.
Still, it's worth remembering the real priorities of Trump and Mitch
McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, in this nomination. They're
happy to accommodate the anti-abortion base of the Republican Party,
but an animating passion of McConnell's career has been the deregulation
of political campaigns. The Supreme Court's Citizens United decision
brought the issue to wide public attention, but McConnell has been
crusading about it for decades. He wants the money spigot kept open,
so that he can protect his Senate majority and the causes for which
it stands. This, too, is why the Federalist Society has been so lavishly
funded over the years, and why it has expanded from a mere campus
organization into a national behemoth for lawyers and students. Under
Republican Presidents, Federalist Society events have come to operate
as auditions for judicial appointments. The corporate interests funding
the growth of the Federalist Society probably weren't especially
interested in abortion, but they were almost certainly committed to
crippling the regulatory state.
Barrett is a product of this movement, and not just because she
clerked for Scalia. Her writings and early rulings reflect it. Her
financial-disclosure form shows that, in recent years, she has
received about seven thousand dollars in honoraria from the Federalist
Society and went on ten trips funded by it. But it's not as if Barrett
was bought; she was already sold. The judge has described herself as
a "textualist" and an "originalist" -- the same words of legal jargon
that were associated with Scalia. (She believes in relying on the
specific meaning of the words in statutes, not on legislators' intent.
She interprets the Constitution according to her belief in what the
words meant when the document was ratified, not what the words mean
now.) But these words are abstractions. In the real world, they operate
as an agenda to crush labor unions, curtail environmental regulation,
constrain the voting rights of minorities, limit government support
for health care, and free the wealthy to buy political influence.
The Supreme Court's role in economic policy, explained. Reminds us
that the point of having a conservative majority on the Supreme Court
is less to legislate from the bench than to veto efforts by Congress and
the Executive to implement changes that regulate business, regardless of
how popular those changes may be.
It's a nice vision, in my opinion, and also a vision of a world in
which the courts play a smaller role in the political process. It is
not the way American politics works. When Alfred Stepan and Juan Linz
surveyed the United States and 22 other peer nations to see how many
electorally generated veto points each country had, they found the US
to be a huge outlier. More than half their sample had just one elected
body that could block policy change -- a parliamentary majority. Seven
had two veto players. France often had one, sometimes two, but since
then has tweaked its rules to ensure that it's always one. Switzerland
and Australia had three. And the United States had four.
Which is just to say it's really, really hard to change the law in
America. In their magisterial work Lobbying and Policy Change: Who
Wins, Who Loses, and Why, Frank Baumgartner and his co-authors
find something superficially encouraging -- it's not the case that the
side with more money backing it normally wins in Congress. The reason,
however, is less encouraging. It simply turns out that there are so
many veto points in the US political system that the status quo almost
always wins. What the increasingly active conservative courts do,
under the guise of aw-shucks balls and strikes refereeing, is
essentially introduce yet another veto player into the system.
Senate Republicans were always going to do whatever they wanted with
the Supreme Court vacancy: "Their actions are deeply hypocritical --
Some scattered links on other topics this week:
Trump's appeals to white anxiety are not "dog whistles" -- they're
racism. That's because Trump's no whistler. He's the dog. He
isn't the leader of the Republican Party. He's just a guy who watches
too much Fox News, but because he has money and has spent his whole
adult life seeking fame, he's come to represent all the little people
whose prejudices and fears and psychoses he embodies.
Half of Americans who lost their job during the pandemic still don't
The complicity of Republican leaders in support of an immoral and dangerous
Trump and Nixon were pen pals in the '80s. Here are their letters.
Just to creep you out, from the original CREEP.
The Republican Party is an authoritarian outlier: "Compared to
center-right parties in developed democracies, the GOP is dangerously
far from normal."
'I feel sorry for Americans': A baffled world watches the US: "From
Myanmar to Canada, people are asking: How did a superpower allow itself
to be felled by a virus? And why won't the president commit to a peaceful
transition of power?" The answer to both questions is hubris: the latter
specifically by Donald Trump, the former much more generally. Even the
Soviet Bloc, with nothing we recognize as democracy, generally allowed
a peaceful transfer of power. (As Jeffrey St Clair mentions, in the
piece below, the exception was in Romania, where Ceaucescu's generals
took the leader out into a field and shot him, then outlawed capital
punishment.) The US used to be better regarded, even more generously
than was really deserved, but in the late 1940s Truman decided to
kick the Soviet Union out of the coalition that had won WWII, and
to direct US foreign policy against communists, socialists, labor
unions, and anti-colonial resistance everywhere. When the Soviet
Bloc collapsed, Washington doubled down on its economic program to
impose capitalist austerity everywhere. Where Republicans differed
from Democrats was in their insistence on treating their own folk
as shabbily as the rest of the world. Trump's only innovation to
this Washington Consensus was to stop pretending that the "medicine"
was good for others. His vision is a world of oligarchs who can buy
and sell whole countries. His "America First" is really just Trump
First. Otherwise, if he really represented a system or a party, he
wouldn't cling to power so desperately.
156 countries are teaming up for a Covid-19 vaccine. But not the US or
China. Interview with Seth Berkley, of "Vaccine Alliance, one of the
partners behind Covax."
Russ Buettner/Susanne Craig/Mike McIntire:
The President's taxes: Long-concealed records show Trump's chronic losses
and years of tax avoidance: "The Times obtained Donald Trump's tax
information extending over more than two decades, revealing struggling
properties, vast write-offs, an audit battle and hundreds of millions
in debt coming due." Major article, although it's still far short of
what a full public release of Trump's tax records might show. Side
Charting an empire: A timeline of Trump's finances;
18 revelations from a trove of Trump tax records;
An editor's note on the Trump tax investigation. For more:
How the US keeps poor people from accessing abortion.
Trump says he won't commit to leaving office if he loses the election
because of a "ballot scam". I'm growing weary of repeatedly asking
Trump about whether he'd agree to "a peaceful transition of power" if
he loses the election. It should be obvious by now that his repeated
refusals signify two things: he doesn't believe that elections in the
US are fair, not least because he's spending a lot of effort and money
in scamming them for his own benefit; and underlying that, he clearly
doesn't believe that fair and open democratic processes are valuable
in their own right. When Al Gore in 2000 and Hillary Clinton in 2016
conceded, despite receiving more votes than Bush or Trump, they were
showing their respect for a flawed but established democratic system.
Trump has no such respect. He probably regards Gore and Clinton as
suckers and losers for rolling over so easily. In contrast, he wants
to appear tough, as someone who will fight for his beliefs down to
the last technicality -- his dedication is something his supporters
love about him, whereas the willingness of Democrats to back away
from power fights has made them look weak and indecisive. Nor is
this just Trump being his authoritarian bad self. Republicans have
signalled their contempt for democracy for decades ago, as they've
exploited every imbalance and loophole available to them to secure
power far beyond their numbers. Indeed, their agenda is so tailored
to narrow (and unpopular) special interests that it's hard to see
how they could prevail in fair and open elections. (Indeed, it's
easy to find instances where Republicans admit as much.) Still, I
think a large part of Trump's refusal to say something as obvious
as "of course, if I lose I'll respect the law" is that he feels
obligated to project confidence in his electability -- especially
given that polling has consistently shown him to be way behind.
Muddying the waters, casting suspicion on the integrity of voting,
is one of the few ways he can gain credibility for his campaign,
even if it's as likely as not to backfire on him. Given all the
horrors of the last four years, given his manifest ineptness for
the job, given the malevolence of his administration, he should
have no chance to win a second term. Yet your uncertainty just
goes to show that his ploy is working. But it also adds to the
sense of how ominously he looms over the future of the country,
and how much of a toll even recognizing him as a legitimate
political figure is taking from our psyches. [BTW: I previously
wrote more on this, see Rupar below, which includes additional
links on post-election worries.]
Trump is attacking American democracy at its core.
Adam Clark Estes/Rebecca Heilweil:
The most dangerous conspiracy theory in 2020 isn't about blood-sucking
pedophiles: "QAnon is scary, but misinformation about voter fraud
poses a bigger and more immediate threat to democracy."
Susan B Glasser:
Here are twenty other disturbing, awful things that Trump has said
this month, and it's not over yet.
Costly lessons from the Second Avenue Subway.
Trump's destruction of America started with Ronald Reagan: "Why
Reaganism needs to be ripped out by the root."
Scientists fear the Western wildfires could lead to long-term lung
Joe Biden is repeating the same mistakes that cost Hillary Clinton the
election: "Biden is trying to woo unhappy Republicans, when he
should be mobilizing hundreds of thousands of Democrats." Well, that's
one way to get your attention -- Hillary Clinton is, after all, the
only Democrats who's ever managed to lose an election to Trump -- but
why should those options be either/or? No doubt the Biden campaign
needs to put a lot of effort into getting out the base vote -- that's
how Obama won two elections for Biden, and that's one place Clinton
dropped the ball. On the other hand, I don't see any harm from touting
a few Republican endorsements -- former Michigan governor Rick Snyder
(of Flint water notoriety) is mentioned here. I would worry if Biden
started tailoring his program to make vague cross-party appeals, but
considering his opponent, he has a readymade case -- e.g., sanity.
Apple won't take a cut -- for now -- when Facebook sells online classes:
The underlying story is that Apple currently claims 30% of all charges
for digital services that occur using apps from their app store (thus
exploiting their control over iPhone users). I wasn't aware of that --
I've studiously avoided doing business with Apple ever since my Apple II
days, when I got disgusted over their pricing of hardware components --
but evidently Google does the same thing with Android apps (I have an
Android phone, but don't think I've ever downloaded any apps from their
store, and certainly haven't paid them any money for them).
To achieve racial justice, America's broken democracy must be fixed.
Yes, Russia is interfering in the 2020 election. "It wants to cause
chaos, again. But it's also learned some lessons from 2016." It's no
secret that Russian hackers favor Trump, and reasonable to infer that's
because Putin favors Trump. But why seems to be nothing but speculation:
maybe it's to sow chaos, maybe it's because Putin thinks Trump will be
easier to deal with, maybe it's because Russia just wants to be viewed
as a serious player, maybe the Republicans are subcontracting (an angle
Mueller doesn't seem to have considered, distracted as he was by high
level contacts between people who don't really work).
David French and I debate polarization, secession, and the filibuster.
French has a new book: Divided We Fall: America's Secession Threat
and How to Restore Our Nation. For a review, see Joshua Keating:
David French's new book arguing that the US will break apart is too
When did good governance become an "armageddon option"?
How Mitch McConnell is changing the Democratic Party. Republicans
did a lot of things to gain the upper hand in politics, and McConnell
has been just one cog in a big machine designed to grind up democracy
and turn control of government over to autocracy and its self-appointed
agents. Newt Gingrich and his crew transformed the House in the 1990s.
Mostly for social reasons, the Senate has taken longer, but thanks to
the greater visibility of individual Senators, the transformation looks
This is the true McConnell rule: What parties have the power and authority
to do, they should do. And to give him his due: It is much stranger, by
the standards of most political systems, for the reverse to be the case,
for senators to refuse to use their power to pursue their ideological ends
on a question as important as a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.
But that's how American politics has traditionally worked.
Donald Trump, facing financial ruin, sought control of his elderly
father's estate. The family fight was epic.
A young Kennedy, in Kushnerland, turned whistle-blower.
A post-Ginsburg Court could be one more climate obstacle: Give
him any arbitrary headline, and he'll write you a piece about how
it threatens the planet, adding "any chance we still have will require
abnormal action." Presumably, not abnormal as in McConnell's rush to
approve Trump's pick. More like abnormal in attending demonstrations
led by McKibben. I don't recall Ginsburg ever taking a stand on
anthropogenic climate change, but I do recall the Supreme Court
overturning EPA limits on greenhouse gases because they didn't
consider the economic impacts. She may have dissented from that.
Trump's next pick certainly won't, so I guess McKibben has a point.
But it's always the same one.
How the Supreme Court revived Jim Crow voter suppression tactics:
Interview with Carol Anderson, author of One Person, No Vote: How
Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy.
Section 230, the internet free speech law Trump wants to change,
The Trump administration's war on birth control: "The Affordable Care
Act made birth control more accessible than ever. Then came Trump."
We need to rethink social media before it's too late. We've accepted a
Faustian bargain: "A business model that alters the way we think,
act, and live our lives has us heading toward dystopia." Well, we never
thought it through in the first place. Social media was created by
private companies, and designed in ways to allow those companies to
profit by taking advantage of their users, and delivering them to
advertisers. There are as lot of problems with that, but giving the
government more control over them, even if it's just regulating them
as monopolies, isn't much better, and could be worse. I'd like to see
non-profit entities set up to chip away at their market, with some
kind of public funding replacing their need to sell things. One great
thing about the Internet is that the marginal cost of data is nil,
so there's no reason anyone has to excluded from anything. Working
back from that point, it should be possible to subsidize content
creation in ways that don't make it subject to political control.
And all sorts of ancillary processes could be generated on the basis
of what people actually want, as opposed to what a few entrepreneurs
calculate can be turned into profit.
The TikTok fiasco reflects the bankruptcy of Trump's foreign policy.
Some rich people are hilariously freaked out about a Biden presidency:
"The mere prospect of a Democratic president nominally meddling with
their plunder has generated anxiety among the wealthy." The photo is
of Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, worth $1.3 billion, and among
the seriously worried:
report released last week by the RAND Corporation revealed an
astonishing upward redistribution of $47 trillion from the bottom 90
percent to the top 1 percent between 1975 and 2018. In their paper,
authors Carter Price and Kathryn Edwards argued that if the country's
economic gains over that time period had been distributed as they were
in the postwar era -- that is, prior to the explosion of a bipartisan
free market mania that slashed taxes, hobbled unions, and eviscerated
public programs -- median worker pay today would be about twice what
it is. "This really is the entire country versus a very small number
of people," the Center for American Progress's Ben Olinsky said of the
report. After nearly half a century of raking it in at the expense of
everyone else, with the enthusiastic blessings of right-wing think
tanks and policymakers from both major parties, it's no wonder that
the one percent is now scandalized by whispers of even the mildest
Heather Digby Parton:
Trump's eugenics obsession: He thinks he has "good German genes,"
because he's a fascist: "Trump's 'racehorse theory' of genetics
is profoundly racist -- it's also why he thinks he's a natural-born
China is on a building binge, and metal prices are surging.
China's commitment to become carbon neutral by 2060, explained.
Trump's weekend rallies showed just how unhinged his campaign is:
"Trump's Minnesota rally featured praise of 'good genes' and an extended
apologia for Robert E Lee."
"It affects virtually nobody": Trump erases coronavirus victims as US
death toll hits 200,000.
Kayleigh McEnany has made a mockery of her promise not to lie. Tuesday's
briefing was case in point.
"We're gonna have to see what happens": Trump's comments about the peaceful
transfer of power, explained: "Trump won't commit because he's hoping
the Supreme Court will save him." That does seem to be part of the rush to
get a new Supreme Court Justice confirmed before the election. Still, I
think he's overplaying a weak hand. Sure, there are people willing to fight
to keep him as president, but they aren't organized, and won't be effective.
If the election returns are decisive, there will be a lot of pressure on
him to step down, and very little he can do about it. On the other hand,
if it turns into a muddle (as 2000, 2004, and 2016 were), he'll have some
options. On the other hand, Democrats are much less likely to roll over
this time if the election counting looks to be crooked, and secured only
by his packed Supreme Court. More post-election worries:
Trump made a rare public appearance in DC to pay his respects to RBG.
It did not go well.
I don't know where this ends. But I cannot stop panicking about November.
Sounds like he's my age, or a bit more -- talks about being at Chicago in
1968, whereas I only watched it on TV. Still, I can relate to this:
Call it liberal bedwetting; being afraid, unable to maintain our emotional
hull-structures and psychological balance. Of course, it is all of that.
Our internal shields collapsed. Not just waking up in the middle of the
night thinking about how bad Trump and the Republicans are and have been.
(That's been a norm for four years, never being able to "normalize" the
actions of this ruling class.) But feeling like we were staring in the
face of something bigger. And personal. Something like . . . our faith
in America -- our mealy-mouthed, privileged, na´ve liberal conviction
that the country would get better, erratically and only through fighting,
but in some way that felt nevertheless reliable. I have always assumed
that while the arc of history is long and hard and fraught, that in the
end it really will arc toward justice. This was probably always foolish,
but I felt it. The most pressing questions about progress always seemed
to be when? and how fast? and over what obstacles?
I was pretty quickly disabused of the notion that America always does
right -- the Vietnam War did that, but it was easy to find much more --
but it seemed like we always lucked out from the worst consequences of
our deeds. After all, Americans are fundamentally practical people, so
sooner or later you have to adjust to reality and go with something that
works. Clearly, lots of things in America aren't working right now, and
fixing them is going to be hard, in no small part because the solutions
often run against myths right-wingers have propagated over the last 40
(to 75) years. Some such problems are subtle, intricate, difficult to
see, and those will be the hardest. But some are as fucking obvious and
transparent as Donald Trump, and can be solved as simply as
voting him out (or if you're as angry as you should be,
try this one).
When I grew up, it was literally impossible to watch
a movie or TV show that didn't inexorably lead to a happy ending, so you
can see where my instincts came from. That started to change with the
advent of "anti-heroes" (coincidentally with the Vietnam War), and has
progressed to the point where villains are our heroes, and vice versa.
And in this world, it's hard to believe that we'll catch a break, and
see Trump and the Republicans caught up short.
This billionaire built a big-money machine to oust Trump. Why do some
Democrats hate him? Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn and investor
in other ventures. Nicholas Lemann wrote about him in Transaction
Man: The Rise of the Deal and the Decline of the American Dream,
where he was profiled along with Adolf Berle and Michael Jensen to
illustrate the business thinking aligned with FDR's New Deal (Berle),
Reagan's right-wing reaction (Jensen), and the business-friendly New
Democrats like Clinton and Obama (Hoffman).
"Holy s---" is what we're thinking': Inside Facebook's reckoning with
Jeffrey St Clair:
Roaming charges: Simple twists of fate: Weekly column, one I long
avoided but these days he's starting to feel refreshing. Starts with
a series of bullet items on Breonna Taylor, ranging from "There were
146 arrests in Louisville on Wednesday, none for the murder of Breonna
Taylor" to this:
It's tempting to think: so, this is what we've come to. Police can
break into your house in the middle of the night on specious warrant,
shoot you in your bed, smear you after you're dead, entice witnesses
to lie about you, fabricate stories about their own actions and then,
after it's all been exposed, just walk. Free of charges. Free of
discipline. Free to do it all over again. Because they will and they
have. Yes, it's tempting to think this is what we've come to in the
age of Trump. But what if this is what we've always been? Since the
first slave patrols busted into houses late at night, to drag human
beings back into a state of enshackled property.
Also this on the Supreme Court, which could have added more old
cases (hundreds, maybe thousands) but stuck with the most notorious
I keep hearing about the "legitimacy crisis" that will engulf the
Supreme Court if the Senate moves forward with Trump's expected
nomination. Yet when did the institution that rendered Dred Scott
(1857), Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), Korematsu (1944), Bowers v.
Hardwick, upholding Georgia's sodomy statute (1986), Bush v. Gore
(2000), Exxon Shipping v. Baker, revoking punitive damages for
Exxon Valdez wreck (2008) and Citizens United (2010) acquire this
glittering aura of legitimacy?
The answer is that the 1940s-1970s court did a few things (but
not everything) right, which led people of my age to look to the
Court for protection against unjust political power. That Court
has been systematically undermined over decades, but three Trump
appointments pushes it over the edge into the abyss of despotism.
And, by the way, stopping Barrett won't save us. The Court is
already packed. On a different subject:
COVID-19 mortality rates were
30% lower in unionized nursing homes in New York. When there was
a union, workers had significantly greater access to N95 masks and eye
shields, and infection rates were lower.
We can end America's unemployment nightmare: "The problem with our
social safety net is clear. The solution is, too." This is part of a
series of articles Vox calls
The Great Rebuild. Others:
Four years ago, Trump survived 'Access Hollywood' -- and a media myth of
indestructibility was born. This fails to mention that the Wikileaks
dump of DNC emails came out right after the 'Access Hollywood' tape, a
feint the media readily fell for. Then came Comey's announcement that
the FBI was reopening its investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails,
which resonated with all the earlier email stories. On the other hand,
Trump managed to suppress the Stormy Daniels story until well after the
election, so we have no idea how it might have played out, especially
coming after the "Access Hollywood" tape. It certainly was true that
major mainstream media outlets thought playing Trump up was good for
business, and the polls suggested there wasn't much risk in doing so.
They're liable to think the same thing for the same reasons this time.
But repeatedly letting Trump off the hook isn't the same thing as
deeming him indestructible. They could just as well take that as a
challenge, and demolish him completely by election time. Lord knows,
they owe the public a break.
Katrina Vanden Heuvel:
Stephen F Cohen, 1938-2020. Obituary of the late Russia scholar
and noted critic of neo-Cold War jingoism, especially popular among
Clintonist Democrats since Hillary got shafted, by his wife, aka
editor of The Nation. Also on Cohen:
Republicans decry slow ballot counts while hampering efforts to speed
them up. This is typical of everything Republicans have done on
elections this round: they never offer anything to increase voting,
to make sure voting is representative of the public, and/or to make
sure the results are credible and trusted. They only work to scam
the system, which makes sense given that their agenda is contrary
to the interests of most people, and that most people recognize it
Jason Wilson/Robert Evans:
Revealed: pro-Trump activists plotted violence ahead of Portland