Blood, Sweat, and Miracles

I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.

– Winston Churchill

It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.

– Donald Trump

There is no featured post this week.

This week everybody was talking about the wildfires in the West

The fires are still being battled in California, Oregon, and other western states. I’m not going to try to cover the breaking news: Here’s CNN’s latest.

Even in a year with so many signs of the Apocalypse that we joke about it, the smoke-filled orange skies of San Francisco stand out. The local ABC TV station shot a drone video at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

This shot of the Golden Gate Bridge was taken about an hour later.

Air quality measures in parts of Oregon and California have literally been off the charts.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index – or AQI – measures air pollution on a scale of one to 500, with lower numbers indicating healthier air. A reading over 200 is considered “very unhealthy” for humans. Above 300 is considered “Hazardous.” On Wednesday afternoon, AQI readings along the I-5 corridor in Oregon hit 599 on the EPA’s map for Oregon, and upwards of 700 in some locations on the popular PurpleAir monitoring site.

Grist explains the health hazzard:

The problem is all the fine particulate matter that’s being generated by the West Coast wildfires. These particles get suspended in the air and can cause health problems when they’re inhaled. The smallest particles — known as PM 2.5 — are especially concerning, since the body can’t filter them out.

“The 2.5 will just cruise past everything in your nose,” said Amy MacPherson, a public information officer for the California Air Resources Board. These particles can get lodged in people’s lungs, she explained, “and if they’re even smaller than that they can get into your bloodstream.” Health effects include an increased chance of cardiac arrhythmias, asthma attacks, and heart attacks.

These are all major concerns for a particulate matter AQI value as low as 300. It’s unclear what could happen to human health with an AQI that more than doubles that number.

Lest you think those off-the-charts air quality index readings were in obscure smoke-collecting valleys, it also went over 500 in Portland.

Right-wing disinformation is becoming a permanent part of the landscape: Q-Anon and numerous other conservative voices have been pushing the false rumor that Antifa agents have been arrested for starting the fires.

The next note talks about the things Trump wants or doesn’t want the public to panic about: Don’t panic about real threats like Covid-19; do panic about Mexican rapists and caravans of migrant “invaders” and planeloads of Antifa terrorists headed for your town to start a riot.

One of the real threats he doesn’t want the public to lose sleep over is climate change, which creates the conditions that produce massive wildfires. He does seem to have stopped calling climate change a “hoax” (though with him you can never tell when a zombie lie will rise again). Instead, he just doesn’t mention it, as if he could make it go away by refusing to talk about it.

I had planned to demonstrate how little Trump cares about climate change by quoting the Issues section of his campaign web site, but instead I made an even more startling discovery: There is no Issues section of the Trump 2020 web site. Instead, there is an entirely backward-looking “Promises Kept” page promoting Trump’s “accomplishments” while stating no intentions or goals for a second term — just like the 2020 Republican platform, which is the 2016 platform.

Anyway, the “Energy and Environment” page of Promises Kept — can’t let the Environment steal top billing from Energy — does not contain the word “climate”. It mentions “greenhouse gases” only once: in a claim that Trump’s Affordable Clean Energy plan will reduce greenhouse gases. (The claim is false.) The page does brag about rescinding Obama’s “costly” regulations, many of which were intended to reduce America’s contribution to climate change. (The methane emissions regulation, for example.) But the only thing to know about these regulations is that they cost somebody something; what they might have achieved is not discussed.

While we’re talking about “promises kept”, the NYT’s Nicholas Kristoff evaluates:

  • The Wall isn’t built.
  • Mexico isn’t paying for it.
  • Undocumented immigrants are still here
  • If the “crime and violence” had “soon” gone away, as he promised, he wouldn’t be running on law and order again.
  • Instead of defending the lives of Americans, he bears a lot of responsibility for the 195K dead of Covid.
  • He made the burden of student loans heavier, not lighter.
  • He neither repealed ObamaCare nor presented any plan for replacing it.
  • Five million jobs have been lost since the start of his administration.
  • Rather than “drain the swamp”, his administration has eviscerated ethics rules, and eight of his associates have been either accused or convicted of crimes.
  • He fulfilled his promise to appoint a lot of conservative judges.
  • He promised “the truth” and delivered an unprecedented number of lies.
  • He never tried to pass an infrastructure bill.
  • His tax cut mainly benefits the rich, not the middle class.
  • Rather than pay off the national debt, he has seen it increase from $19 trillion to $26 trillion.
  • He did increase the military budget, as he promised.
  • ISIS was defeated, largely by continuing the strategy Obama left behind.
  • There is still no peace between Israel and Palestine.
  • He claimed “nobody will be pushing us around”, but Vladimir Putin leads Trump by the nose.

and the Woodward book

Another week, another damaging Trump exposé. This week, it’s Bob Woodward’s Rage, which is based on 18 on-the-record conversations with Trump, all on tape. So we can skip the did-he-really-say-that part of last week’s exposé, the Atlantic article that has him calling American soldiers killed in combat “losers” and “suckers”.

Here’s the most frequently quoted revelation:

“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in a Feb. 7 call. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus.”

“This is deadly stuff,” the president repeated for emphasis.

At that time, Trump was telling the nation that the virus was no worse than a seasonal flu, predicting it would soon disappear and insisting that the U.S. government had it totally under control. It would be several weeks before he would publicly acknowledge that the virus was no ordinary flu and that it could be transmitted through the air.

Trump admitted to Woodward on March 19 that he deliberately minimized the danger. “I wanted to always play it down,” the president said. “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”

Woodward assesses the damage:

Trump never did seem willing to fully mobilize the federal government and continually seemed to push problems off on the states. There was no real management theory of the case or how to organize a massive enterprise to deal with one of the most complex emergencies the United States had ever faced.

Woodward also spent hundreds of hours talking to current and former top Trump administration officials, including the ones collectively known as “the adults in the room” (back in the early days of the administration when there were adults in the room): Jim Mattis, Rex Tillerson, and Dan Coats, who seem unified in their belief that they needed to cover for a president who was dangerously unfit.

For the most part, I have to agree with Washington Post reviewer Rosa Brooks: “we knew all this already”. And yet, I have to wonder if hearing Trump say this stuff himself will make a difference. All those times when he compared coronavirus to the flu, or claimed that it would soon go away “like a miracle”, he knew better. That’s not debatable now, we have it in his own words.

And for all his followers who are still claiming the virus has been overblown by some deep-state conspiracy: We have Trump on tape saying the opposite.

A bunch of bloggers and columnists have made this point: Trump’s I-didn’t-want-people-to-panic explanation for playing down the virus doesn’t pass the laugh test.

Trump tries to raise panic all the time. He wants us to panic about caravans of MS-13 gangsters and Middle Eastern terrorists coming to “invade” or “infest” our country, about planes full of Antifa conspirators going from city to city starting riots, about babies being “executed” just after birth, and so on. His campaign ads look like trailers for the horror movie Joe Biden’s America. Sometimes people get so panicked by Trump’s wild rhetoric that they start shooting Hispanics in an El Paso mall.

The primary difference between Covid-19 and all the stories Trump has told to panic his followers is that Covid-19 is a real danger.

A real leader would have told the country to the truth back in February: that this is serious, and it’s going to require some adjustments and sacrifices from all of us. That leader wouldn’t have stoked panic, but would have reassured the country that we will get through this if we take appropriate action.

Instead, again and again, Trump has undercut appropriate actions, while telling the public fairy tales. He has never put together a national plan of action or mobilized the power of the federal government. He has pushed states to reopen too quickly, and is still pushing. He has encouraged protesters who threatened violence against governors who followed medical advice. He has held dangerous rallies. He has ridiculed Joe Biden and others for taking appropriate precautions. He has promoted snake-oil cures like hydroxychloraquine and oleandrin.

Trump and the usual collection of Trump sycophants have placed the Woodward quotes in the context of calming statements from the great leaders of World War II.

Trump compared himself to Churchill, which caused Daniel Dale to look up Churchill’s first speech as prime minister in May, 1940:

I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.

What Churchill never said during the Blitz was “The Luftwaffe is very much under control in Great Britain.”

Keeping to the theme, Fox & Friends’ Steve Doocy invoked Franklin Roosevelt:

The president said he did not want to freak people out. He wanted to keep people calm during this time of great national uncertainty. Think about it, during the depression, it was FDR who had his fireside chats to calm America.

Similarly, it’s worth a minute or two of your time to look at the text of FDR’s first fireside chat on March 12, 1933 (eight days after his inauguration). He explained why he had temporarily closed the banks, what the government had done since to make banks more secure, and what the public could expect as banks began to reopen. He did not say that the Depression was just the sniffles, or promise that it would disappear “like a miracle“. (That sounds more like the quote Herbert Hoover is known for, but never actually said: “Prosperity is just around the corner.”) Instead, FDR closed like this:

Confidence and courage are the essentials of success in carrying out our plan. You people must have faith; you must not be stampeded by rumors or guesses. Let us unite in banishing fear. We have provided the machinery to restore our financial system; it is up to you to support and make it work. It is your problem no less than it is mine. Together we cannot fail.

Imagine if Trump had done that in February: explained what the government would do to get the epidemic under control, described the public’s role in that plan, and then said “Together we cannot fail.” Instead, he repeatedly sugar-coated the situation and did nothing.

Here’s a Trump comparison that fits much better than Churchill or Roosevelt: the mayor from Jaws.

Republicans in Congress have almost uniformly either made excuses for Trump or dodged questions about the Woodward book. Friday, Susan Collins had the misfortune to be in a televised debate with her challenger Sara Gideon — a setting where you can’t just have an aide jump in and say, “No more questions.” Forced to comment, Collins came up with this: Trump “should have been straightforward with the American people … I have said since the beginning that the President’s performance has been uneven.”

Uneven? Getting 200K Americans killed, probably about half of them through sheer incompetence, is an uneven performance?

A meme for attacking these spineless politicians: Pathetic Cowards for Trump.

and Bill Barr’s latest corruptions of the Justice Department

Tuesday, the Justice Department filed a motion to take over the defense of a defamation lawsuit against Trump. in her book What Do We Need Men For? published last year, E. Jean Carroll accused Trump of raping her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s. Trump accused her of lying and claimed he had never met her and could not have raped her because she’s “not my type”. Carroll sued for defamation, and a New York state court had moved the case into the discovery phase, when Trump might be obliged to produce a DNA sample.

That’s the case that Barr thinks the Justice Department should defend, using taxpayer funds. He also wants the case moved to federal court where it would go away,

because Trump would come under the protection of the federal government’s “sovereign immunity.” Barr’s minions are, quite literally, trying to deny Carroll her day in court. At taxpayer expense.

Barr’s rationale is that Trump denied Carroll’s charges, and commented on her type, while “acting in his official capacity”. Apparently, insulting women accusing you of rape is now considered part of the President’s job. I hope the federal judge who rules on this motion asks a lot of probing questions about exactly which line in Article II of the Constitution defines that presidential responsibility.

Marcy Wheeler:

As I contemplated Barr’s decision to claim that accusing a credible alleged rape victim was all part of Trump’s job as President, I thought briefly about what it says of Bill Barr’s faith, that he would make it official DOJ policy to condone attacks on claimed rape victims like this. But then I remembered that Bill Barr is of the generation of Catholics where that is the job of the official bureaucracy, to throw all the institutional weight of the Church into protecting alleged rapists and suppressing credible accusations, even to the point of attacking the victims.

A different case is disturbing in a different way. In fact, I’m not sure which is more disturbing: federal agents killing the suspected Portland shooter Michael Reinoehl on September 3, or the way Trump and Barr have been crowing about it.

Killing a suspect, even justifiably (and it’s not clear yet whether this killing was justified), should always be a regrettable event for law enforcement officers. They’re not supposed to be judge and jury; they’re supposed to apprehend suspects and let the judicial system do its work. But Bill Barr’s statement expressed none of that regret:

The tracking down of Reinoehl — a dangerous fugitive, admitted Antifa member, and suspected murderer — is a significant accomplishment in the ongoing effort to restore law and order to Portland and other cities. I applaud the outstanding cooperation among federal, state, and local law enforcement, particularly the fugitive task force team that located Reinoehl and prevented him from escaping justice. The streets of our cities are safer with this violent agitator removed, and the actions that led to his location are an unmistakable demonstration that the United States will be governed by law, not violent mobs.

In fact, killing Reinoehl does exactly the opposite: It calls into question whether the United States will be ruled by law or by federal death squads.

[BTW, Reinoehl said on social media he was “100% Antifa all the way”, but that’s the only evidence connecting him to Antifa. Whether he was a “member” or just a sympathizer is still debatable. It’s not even clear what being a “member” of Antifa means. It’s not like they have a directory and ID cards.]

Meanwhile, Trump makes Portland sound like the Wild West, with lawmen killing Reinoehl like he was Jesse James or Billy the Kid.

In Portland the other day we had to send in the U.S. Marshals. A man who’s a bad guy, bad guy, shot somebody right in the middle of the street. … Two and a half days nothing happened, I said, “What’s going on?” We sent in the U.S. Marshals, it was taken care of in 15 minutes.

And his crowd cheered. In a country under the rule of law, murder suspects should not be “taken care of in 15 minutes”. That’s nothing to brag about or cheer about. The previous day he said something similar to Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro:

Two and a half days went by, and I put out “When are you going to go get him?” And the U.S. Marshals went in to get him in a short period of time, and it ended in a gunfight. This guy was a violent criminal, and the U.S. Marshals killed him. And I will tell you something: That’s the way it has to be. There has to be retribution when you have crime like this.

Retribution is not for the Marshals — or anyone in the Executive Branch — to dish out. And we certainly don’t want the President to be able to call the Justice Department and ask them to go kill somebody (which is what Trump seems to be claiming he did). But we have a President who either doesn’t know or doesn’t believe that.

and the virus

The daily new cases and new deaths numbers are declining, but are still at levels that just about any other country would consider disastrous. The seven-day rolling averages are down to about 35,000 new cases per day and 800 deaths. These death rates are like 200 Benghazis a day or two 9-11s each week.

We’re getting close to 200,000 total deaths, and should pass that total this week or next (depending on how you total up). In deaths-per-million-people, the US will likely pass 600 today. That leaves us still doing better than countries like Belgium (856), Spain (636), and the UK (613), but considerably worse than Germany (112), Canada (243), Japan (11), and South Korea (7). Our numbers are now even worse than Italy’s (589). Remember when Italy was the country nobody wanted to be?

Recently, the virus has faded in the South and broken out in the Great Plains. Friday, Kansas (population 2.9 million), had 13 deaths. Canada (population 37.6 million), zero.

Meanwhile, we wait to see if Labor Day socializing or the reopening of schools or the fans returning to some sporting events will spark a new surge. We probably won’t know for another couple weeks.

Last night, Trump held an indoor rally in Henderson, Nevada. Despite a statewide ban on meetings of over 50 people, he spoke to thousands of supporters inside a manufacturing plant. The rally ignored social distancing and few attendees wore masks. It was Trump’s first large indoor rally since the Tulsa rally that was blamed for a surge in coronavirus cases in the area and may have killed Herman Cain.

Astra Zeneca briefly stopped its vaccine trials after a patient got sick in a way that suggested an adverse reaction. But Saturday testing resumed.

and you also might be interested in …

Lots of speculation concerns how long we’ll have to wait after Election Day to find out who won. Well, there is one scenario where we know right away: if Biden wins North Carolina.

North Carolina allows election officials to begin counting mail-in ballots before Election Day. (Technically, the ballots are run through tabulating machines, but election officials don’t see results until Election Day. Only on November 3 can somebody push a button to see what the tabulator knows.) People who mailed early plus those who voted in person might be enough of the electorate to call the state.

North Carolina is a state that Trump has to have, but Biden doesn’t, and Biden currently has a tiny lead in the state polling. So if we know early that Biden took North Carolina, we can be pretty sure he’s going to win the election. If Trump wins it, we might not know for a long time who will be the next president. If it’s too close to call, that suggests Biden will win, but isn’t as conclusive as if he had NC’s 15 electoral votes in his pocket.

Protesters are continuing to brave repression in Belarus. Meanwhile, their dictator Lukashenko is meeting with Putin.

Brexit is still not a done deal. There is a treaty, but details of trade between the UK and EU are still to be worked out. The treaty, though, protects the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland: The Ireland/Northern Ireland border has to stay open. But that puts the burden on the UK to keep goods out of Northern Ireland that would be either banned or tariffed in the EU. Prime Minister Johnson is now saying the UK won’t fulfill that obligation, which means the whole thing could still fall apart into a no-deal Brexit.

The Trump/Russia conspiracy is ongoing: Rudy Giuliani has been working with a Russian agent to smear Joe Biden.

Thursday, the Treasury Department sanctioned “four Russia-linked individuals for attempting to influence the U.S. electoral process”. One of them is kind of significant.

Treasury designated Andrii Derkach (Derkach) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13848 for his efforts to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Derkach, a Member of the Ukrainian Parliament, has been an active Russian agent for over a decade, maintaining close connections with the Russian Intelligence Services. Derkach has directly or indirectly engaged in, sponsored, concealed, or otherwise been complicit in foreign interference in an attempt to undermine the upcoming 2020 U.S. presidential election.

… From at least late 2019 through mid-2020, Derkach waged a covert influence campaign centered on cultivating false and unsubstantiated narratives concerning U.S. officials in the upcoming 2020 Presidential Election, spurring corruption investigations in both Ukraine and the United States designed to culminate prior to election day. Derkach’s unsubstantiated narratives were pushed in Western media through coverage of press conferences and other news events, including interviews and statements.

Russian agents like this don’t work alone, though. They work through American dupes and accomplices, including two you may have heard of.

[Derkach] was a key source for baseless information touted by [Rudy] Giuliani and [President Donald] Trump smearing Biden and his son, Hunter, over activities in Ukraine when Biden was vice president.

Jonathan Capehart asked Giuliani the obvious question, and got no substantive answer.

You’re a former prosecutor from the Southern District of New York, a former mayor of New York City, you have a national security firm. How could you not know that this person you were talking to was a known Russian agent?

A crazy epilogue to the tear-gas-protesters-for-Trump’s-photo-op story: It may have caused a Covid-19 outbreak in the Farmville, Virginia immigrant detention center.

Trump wanted ICE agents to join Bill Barr’s non-army army to quash the protests in D.C., and the quickest way to do that was to charter flights. But rules prevent ICE agents from flying on those planes unless they are accompanying detainees. So they shipped detainees to Virginia unnecessarily. Some of those transported immigrants were Covid-positive.

I don’t think of the NYT as a neutral source when the subject is The Intercept, the left-of-center online publication started by Glenn Greenwald after he received the trove of information leaked by Edward Snowden. But its account of how The Intercept mishandled the Reality Winner leak pulls together a story I had only heard in pieces.

I have mixed feelings about Greenwald, whose “Unclaimed Territory” blog was one of the influences that got me into blogging. In the early days of the Iraq War, he was a rare voice speaking out bluntly against the militaristic rah-rah-America spirit of the times. In recent years, though, he has been so stubbornly unwilling to see the Russian disinformation and manipulation threat that at times I wonder if he came out of the Snowden Affair compromised in some way. (WikiLeaks followed a more extreme version of the same trajectory, from pro-freedom-of-information to pro-Russia.)

The Chinese company ByteDance has a proposal to retain ownership of TikTok, but still escape US sanctions: US software giant Oracle takes over management of TikTok’s US operations and data in the cloud. Ars Technica summarizes the issues:

The big challenge facing ByteDance is the need to to satisfy the potentially conflicting demands of the US and Chinese governments. The US government has threatened to shut down TikTok over concerns that the Chinese government would compromise Americans’ privacy or exercise undue influence over the content Americans see. Transferring TikTok’s US operations to an American company could address those concerns.

But the Chinese government isn’t happy about the possibility of the US government essentially seizing a major Chinese technology asset for the benefit of a US competitor. Late last month, Beijing announced new export control rules restricting the sale of artificial intelligence technology—rules that apparently apply to the algorithm TikTok uses to recommend videos to its users. This means that ByteDance will need the approval of the Chinese authorities—as well as the Trump administration—before any deal can go through.

The non-sale to Oracle might thread the needle via corruption:

It’s a victory for Larry Ellison, the chairman of Oracle and one of the few technology tycoons who has been openly supportive of Donald Trump. Ellison held a fundraiser for Trump in February. … So if ByteDance believed Larry Ellison could use his personal relationship to Trump to get the deal approved, that would have been a compelling reason to choose Oracle [rather than accept a competing bid from Microsoft].

If the deal goes through, it is another step down the road to Putinism: A valuable corporate franchise can be channeled to a Trump-allied oligarch.

NBC’s Think blog provides tips for talking to friends and relatives who have gone down the Q-Anon rabbit hole. The tricky thing about any cultlike system is its epistemic closure: If the only information that can be trusted comes from the cult itself, the cult’s beliefs become unassailable.

In any such situation, I remember the Danny DeVito character from The War of the Roses. At one point his good friend says something truly insane about the process of splitting up with his estranged wife. And DeVito observes in a tone of concerned fascination: “This seems rational to you.”

A pattern that probably deserves a longer discussion sometime: Once belief systems start closing themselves off, they can become incubating grounds for even more closed systems.

For example: During the 20th century, Evangelical Christianity developed defense mechanisms to keep Darwinism at bay. The scientific community, and any media that trusts the scientific community, became suspect. Hence conservative Christians need their own news network and their own research institutes.

More recently, Trumpism has grown into a cult inside this protective Evangelical shell, and now Q-Anon is growing inside Trumpism. The kind of objective thinking that Evangelicals need to do if they’re going to root out these cancers could also threaten Evangelicalism itself.

and let’s close with something graphic

I grew up loving maps, especially ones that make you look at something in a different way. This map asks the question: What if we made US states out of the river basins, the way political divisions are drawn in Gambia? Some states, like Alabama or Tennessee, remain recognizable distortions of their current selves, and Santee is more or less South Carolina. But Mississippi goes all the way up to Minneapolis, Ohio goes from Erie to beyond Louisville, and Missouri winds up west of Yellowstone.

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  • Anonymous  On September 14, 2020 at 2:17 pm

    Delaware is labeled as Susquehanna? Really?

  • Guest  On September 14, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    Greenwald is a Russian asset now? This is Q-anon Sift style.
    Jokes aside, in his defense, he’s not stuck in his head in the sand about Russian interference. It’s more that, (from my read on him) 1) on substance, he’s never seen anything to match the hype and hysteria around the Trump Tower meeting that Dem leadership and folks like Maddow were serving up and building their whole case against Trump around, and, related, 2) on the way it’s been handled politically, the Cold War/Red Scare redux around the Trump Tower meeting (x person has a take on Russia that colors outside the lines of centrist-approved messaging, so they must be a Russian agent) takes oxygen away from more serious threats and problems, is used as an excuse for Clinton’s loss and a shield against any real criticism for how Dems handled 2016 or the impeachment, and finally, it doesn’t seem to play well with voters broadly anyway.

    When I first saw Greenwald mentioned here above, I was hoping it would be in relation to the recent US court decision in favor of the ACLU that the mass surveillance program exposed by Snowden and Greenwald were in fact illegal. Hmm, wonder why that didn’t get more attention?

    It’s strange to read Greenwald get thrown under a bus in the same entry that treats Woodward uncritically. The flip side of the “we knew all this already” presented is that we did not in fact know it at the time Woodward did. He knew about the pandemic response stuff going back to February and instead of letting Americans know when it would have mattered most, it looks like he sat on it to boost book sales later. Contrary to the framing here, Greenwald keeps getting vindicated, and it’s Woodward that’s looking like an accomplice. So it goes.

    • jh  On September 16, 2020 at 12:46 pm

      Nope. I understand the cause for concern. Greenwald claims to have integrity and “enlightened centrism”. But in his actual reporting, it seems remarkably biased. Where are the articles about Hannity and Tucker? Why does Greenwald constantly punch left? It seems that he holds corporate “called leftist” media to a far higher standard than the bastions of conservative media.

      I’ve seen this story before. They just want to talk about ideas and free speech. They claim to be liberals. They claim all sorts of things. But you can see that they reserve their venom for the left side.

      I have to question the scorn for click bait ‘media reporting” from the cable channels. How many “the caravans are coming, the caravans are coming” did we have to endure? How many “covid19 is a flu. It’s nothing serious.” did we have to endure? I’m just asking questions. Where was the same critique?

      I’d respect Greenwald more if he actually pretended better. As in, viciously attack the Maddow woman 5 times and then, attack Tucker Carlson once. That’s how low my bar is for the fakers and liars such as Greenwald.

      I don’t like moderates. All they are is selfish, bored, disinterested losers. They mask it with the lie that they are above it all because the reality is that they don’t care. If they stopped lying and just admitted it, I’d respect them more. I really don’t like “enlightened” moderates like Greenwald who can’t even bother to do his job well. He’s part of the media. Yet, he can’t even produce content to hold the powerful accountable. All he does is attack and define himself by his enemies. He’s the guy with no ideas masquerading as a liberal moron for the social bennies. He doesn’t even talk about the consequences of his positions because all of his bs is fantastical hypotheses that fail every time in the real world.

      As for Woodward… what exactly would have happened? The rest of us understand the world. Your silly Trumptard morons would have sent death threats to Woodward just like they are sending them to Fauci or anyone else who seems to oppose Trump. The conservative media would have attacked Woodward and created excuses for their god. What Woodward’s role is to investigate and discover and THEN publish and let the public decide. He isn’t a whistle blower. He’s a detective. He doesn’t just randomly spurt out critical information until he’s got a case built up that will lock the murderer up in jail for a long time. And notice.. the right is attacking the messenger again. Why? Because the message damages their god. If they were honorable people, they would address the message and seek some explanation that would be accepted by reasonable people. I mean, all they’d have to say to make their case is “Trump is a moron”. I’d accept that claim in a heartbeat. (After all, I was on the side that said that Trump is too stupid to conspire with anybody. He’s a useful idiot. He’s just a corrupt, amoral, venal piece of trash that can be bought with cheap dollars. Trump’s the guy who sells the goose that lays the golden egg because he likes to wear a crown. He doesn’t recognize value and I find that to be one of Trump’s most egregious failures. If he’s going to sell out the US, at least sell it out for big money. Not for cheap patents and hotel land deals. )

      I would point this out. .. it is to Russia’s benefit that Trump is elected. In any game, the objective is to win. Winning involves denying the opponent any benefits. Even if Trump were perfect Superman American, I would deny Russia the win. That’s how the game is played. Notice the chaos. The power vacuum. The annexation of Crimea. The Russian influence in the middle east. The loss of our traditional NATO allies. The loss of influence in the Asian countries with regards to checking China’s power. N. Korea’s continued weapons development. Where exactly are we winning? All I see are losses. I mean, the US was never going to be the top dog forever. But why accelerate that day? Couldn’t we enjoy a century or century and a half of dominance while developing alternate power alliances? Why be so dumb? Look at the tech giants doing this same strategy to win. All they do is buy out little companies and then, offer those services to their market share. There’s very little innovation that comes out of a Facebook. They just buy their perk “innovations”. Same for all the others. They don’t let their enemies gain market share like that. In contrast, you can see how failures occur. Sears – the ultimate store to home pioneer lost to Amazon. Why? Because Sears ceded their power and their market to Amazon because they pined for the past and didn’t adapt to the future. Sears made mistakes and Amazon took advantage of Sear’s moronic mistakes. They didn’t extend a helping hand but rather capitalized on the mistake and they made damn sure that Sears couldn’t win. Same for a Blockbuster vs. Netflix showdown. Blockbuster could have easily started their own direct mail DVD service combined with the brick and mortar store. Netflix would have lost. But Blockbuster made a mistake and Netflix was allowed the room to grow and then, to eat up Blockbuster like a piece of candy. America is losing. There’s only so long we can babble about WWII. There’s only so long we can spread our lies about American exceptionalism. Those students and people who are smart and have money are looking to go elsewhere. We’re losing even in terms of brain drain. So wake up because this is stuff that a kid playing a MMORG has figured out. It speaks of how stupid the US educational system is that we generate so many morons. By moron, I mean intellectually slow, morally defective, lacking the ability to think systematically, and definitely lacking the ability to be critical and as unbiased as possible. To think long term. There’s a good third of the US population and most of the middle that are effing morons.

      BTW – I knew. Any moron with internet and 2 hours could have figured it out. What does it say when China is building temporary hospitals to house their sick? What does it say when China shuts down their province – their manufacturing industries? What does it say when Italy and Germany and France start showing issues and shut down? What does it say when other nations start implementing UNIVERSAL travel bans? How stupid are Americans that they need everything spoon fed to them. Don’t blame anyone but yourself. At that time, I too discounted this disease. Then, I watched a few medical lectures, I watched spanish and italian doctors in tears. I watched the hospitalizations and the deaths and thought … Better to be safe than sorry. The people who are too stupid to connect the dots deserve everything they get and they deserve to be mocked and scorned and ridiculed. This way, they learn. I’m kinder than covid19. My bark won’t kill them or harm them. It’s only hurt feelings. So feel ashamed. I understand why you guys are angry with the Democrats, with liberal media, with Woodward. it’s because you are the suckers and you need to feel right even when you are objectively wrong. This is your SOP. Attack the messenger. Blame everybody, especially liberals and brown people for your problems. Deny any personal responsibility. Viciously attack others, especially those who have less power than you. Mouth empty platitudes like “We don’t hit kittens” to score social points on the moderate morons.
      You know where I went wrong? I thought that Trump – a person who has always let other people do the work – would let Fauci and the others do their work and then, dance in to take the victory lap like he has in the past. Trump is even more bonkers than I thought he was and that’s saying a lot. There’s no reason that the US should have this kind of death count or the nonsense with PPE. This is what happens when you let conservatives in charge of anything. All they do is fuck up. (and then, they blame everybody else because they never take personal responsibility for their fuck ups. It’s always somebody else’s fault. The gays. Feminism. Stalin. Soros. Satan. The list is endless because conservatives don’t have anything but excuses.)

      Again… what does it say when China shuts down the province? Has their military construct hospitals that quickly? That other countries start their shutdowns? Does everything have to be spoon fed to a conservative moron? How dumb are conservatives? Because right now, your scoring a -1000. A virus is more intelligent than a conservative. So stop blaming Pelosi or Cuomo or Soros or Gates or Woodward or anyone else. Blame yourself. America can only be great if the parts work. Right now, conservatives are a defective part that should be thrown away and replaced with better parts.

      • Guest  On September 16, 2020 at 4:44 pm

        Thanks for the reply, jh, that’s a lot to unpack!

        Greenwald claims to be a liberal, and can’t produce content to hold the powerful accountable, etc? I don’t think we are talking about the same guy. He doesn’t only punch to the left, you may have a little selection bias where you’re only feeling the sting when he holds liberal establishment feet to the fire.

        On the defense of Woodward in the comments above and below, it seems there is some “confusing strategy with outcome” going on. And again, the juxtaposition of smearing Greenwald who helped expose the govt’s greatest trespass on the 4th amendment, right alongside defending Woodward sitting on a big pandemic story early in the process, is really remarkable. The truth is, we don’t know what would have happened if Woodward told us what he discovered on COVID-19 in February or even March. It’s not like he’s some unknown journalist though. Maybe it does nudge public opinion or the admin response a bit, who knows? Could it have saved a thousand lives? A hundred? Even if it had no effect as you and others seem to contend, it would still be his duty as a citizen, let alone a journalist, to let the public know.

        On the America losing so much piece, it seems to counter your own argument that the companies you mention (FB, Netflix, Amazon) are some of the biggest, most successful companies in the world.

        On all the blaming and ad hominems on large swaths of the population, I won’t say you’re necessarily wrong in every case. But if we want to build a coalition that can move us forward as a country, calling all moderates idiots may not win us the most converts. That approach seems more likely to push potentially convince-able folks to doubling down on their apathy or inherited conservative positions. We’ve got to do better.

  • Anonymous  On September 14, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    While I agree with your comments about Trump’s interview with Woodward, I’m sad that you aren’t also criticizing Woodward for withholding that information for so long. We can’t know if it would have made a difference, but still, sitting on that interview for months seems so crass.

    • Anonymous Poster  On September 15, 2020 at 5:00 am

      Would his having revealed what Trump said in February really have accomplished anything, though? Trump could’ve written Woodward off as “an enemy of the people” or say the tape was “a hoax, like the coronavirus” or literally anything else he does to shift a news cycle away from his scandals. And back in February (when the U.S. population in general didn’t know much about COVID-19), Trump downplaying the virus was, as it regards only his re-election campaign, the best possible choice.

      If this tape had come out in February, not only would Woodward have lost the opportunity to continue interviewing Trump, but the news would’ve had a field day with the tape for all of a couple of days before moving on to another story. Releasing the tape then likely would’ve made little difference, if any, in how Trump would’ve handled COVID-19. I won’t say “Woodward did the right thing” because I don’t think that question has an easy answer. But I will say that in getting the interview at all, Woodward did the smart thing. That alone is enough.

  • William W Brewer  On September 14, 2020 at 5:08 pm

    I too have been concerned about the fact that Woodward withheld the information for so long, but then I have also seen the logic in, “If he had published the information from the first interview, the other interviews would never have happened”. I think that is true. I also do not buy Trumps criticism that, “If Woodward thought there was anything wrong with what I said, he should have brought it to the attention of the authorities.”. Woodward did bring it to the attention of the authorities; his book is bringing it to the attention of the American People, the ultimate authorities in our country. Hopefully, those authorities will give their final judgment on November 3, 2020.

  • ramseyman  On September 15, 2020 at 9:45 am

    “And yet, I have to wonder if hearing Trump say this stuff [presidential misdeeds] himself will make a difference.” – I would wonder who exactly it can make a difference to. It’s fairly obvious for anyone who truly wants to know anything about what’s going on. For the rest, consisting of the ideological right and the apathetic or otherwise uninformed, political truths don’t seem to be an issue. I see no mechanism by which people who are “not into politics” will suddenly realize where their self-interest lies. And not only will the ideological faithful not hear about it via their exclusive, conservative media, not only will they still have no habit of trying to discern what they’re hearing, rather it still doesn’t matter – not when their main concerns are loyalty to the home team, anger at the libtards and minorities, and a longing for mythologically taking their country back. No admissions I can think of can have any rational impact upon these basic underlying attitudes.

    • Guest  On September 16, 2020 at 4:58 pm

      “I see no mechanism by which people who are “not into politics” will suddenly realize where their self-interest lies.”

      There don’t seem to be any shortcuts, ramseyman, but there is some literature on it. Paulo Freire’s classic “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” leapt to mind as a good starting point. And of course Frantz Fanon’s “The Wretched of the Earth.”

      The situation is even more challenging though, as it’s not just getting the politically apathetic to engage, it’s also getting the comfortable, the “professional middle class” to risk their own self-interest by embracing solidarity with the folks at the bottom of our political and economic hierarchies. Amilcar Cabral coined the term “class suicide” to describe this. In concrete US examples, this might mean something like Ed Markey kissing centrism goodbye and embracing the Green New Deal, or, in an alternate timeline, Elizabeth Warren getting behind Bernie (in either 2016 or 2020) for the sake of those most harmed by racist and unjust policies. It’s not an insignificant ask, thus the harsh language of “class suicide.”

      • Anonymous  On September 17, 2020 at 9:55 am

        “Ed Markey kissing centrism goodbye and embracing the Green New Deal,”

        I don’t understand this comment. Ed Markey has already embraced the Green New Deal.

      • Guest  On September 17, 2020 at 10:49 am

        Sorry for the confusion, Anon. Markey was offered as a illustrative recent US example of a successful “class suicide” in the Cabral sense. A comfortable professional middle class type with a fairly uninspiring centrist record (voted for the ’94 crime bill, the Iraq War, Patriot Act, etc) who risked a change of course by uniting with the progressive struggle of those most negatively affected by our systems rather than continuing to serve those rooting for or otherwise comfortable with policies like the Iraq War, crime bill, climate change incrementalism/denial etc. Class suicide as I understand it is someone who benefits from a given (economic/political/social) hierarchy but who then unites their cause in solidarity with those at the bottom of the hierarchy.

        Even though it worked out for Markey, it was a risk to “betray his class” in this way. There are incentives to either go along with the status quo or to stay on the sidelines despite sympathies, like Warren did. Warren *would have* been another example like Markey had she read the writing on the wall and joined forces with the movement behind Sanders in the primaries. In her personal calculus, “class suicide” in this sense was a bridge too far. Thus the “in an alternate timeline” in the above comment.

  • Peter Johnson  On September 15, 2020 at 11:47 am

    Love your Gambia map

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