It’s a real mess out there vol. 1

While taking my “newscation” from posting daily stories I stumbled upon around the internet, I decided it was time to change the formula. Why? There are just too many good daily newsletters, news briefs and established websites and it’s both vain and futile to think something could be done better here.

Also I’ve enjoyed having more time to work on my self-improvement projects during the early morning hours before sunrise. So, going forward I’ll be posting things I find are really insightful and beneficial instead of what stupid shit Trump or his lackeys/followers did in the past 24 hours.

I’ll continue to hope others will share stuff they find but knowing full well in these times of Twitter and Facebook, those platforms have sucked up most of the blog traffic.

Our future hasn’t been this dire since the 2008 collapse, WWII, the Great Depression and the Civil War. Once again we’re at a point where nothing in the past is a sure fix for the problems we now face. So, the new solutions will be the kinds of stories I’ll be posting as I stumble upon them.

Biden/Harris 2020

Trump/Pence Dustbin of History

36 thoughts on “It’s a real mess out there vol. 1

  1. Chuck Schumer Needs to Fight Trump’s SCOTUS Pick By David Sirota and Andrew Perez

    Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer has the power to try to stop Trump’s nominee, but he has previously caved to the GOP on judges. The only way he’ll put up a fight is if he feels pressure from his left.


    Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to reporters alongside House speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on August 6, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Samuel Corum / Getty Images)

    If 2020 wasn’t apocalyptic enough for you, now comes the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the prospect of a Supreme Court battle in the final weeks of the most critical election in the nation’s modern history. As Republicans are already promising a vote on a nominee from Donald Trump, the obvious question is: What can be done to stop conservatives’ full takeover of the nation’s high court for the rest of our lives?

    We don’t have all the answers, but we have one answer among many: a serious New York Democratic candidate needs to step up and announce a 2022 primary challenge to Sen. Chuck Schumer — who already has a record of helping fast-track Donald Trump’s judicial appointments.

    That primary challenge needs to be announced right now — and it needs to be clear that the primary challenge will be a referendum on Schumer’s record on Trump judges.

    As minority leader, Schumer will lead Senate Democrats as President Donald Trump and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell inevitably try to install a justice onto the court sometime before Trump has to leave office, should he lose the 2020 election. That means Schumer needs to face maximum pressure every single day to use all possible power that his caucus has — and it has power — to stop a Trump appointment.

    Not just pressure as in phone calls and protests — pressure as in you-will-be-voted-out-of-office pressure.

    Schumer Has Previously Agreed to Advance Trump Judges

    We know Schumer needs that kind of pressure because as Vox reported, in 2018 he agreed to a deal “to fast-track the confirmations of fifteen Trump-nominated judicial picks.” Additionally, under Schumer’s leadership, members of the Democratic caucus provided votes to confirm Trump’s two previous judges, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. We also know that Democrats have periodically voted to install Trump judges on lower courts.

    You could argue that there was nothing Schumer could do to prevent conservative Democrats from voting the way they did, but that’s bullshit. Schumer controls the party apparatus and its fundraising machine — if his excuse is he can’t do anything, then he shouldn’t be the leader.

    Schumer and Democrats have chronically mismanaged judicial appointments. Obama left office with a Supreme Court seat open and far too many district and court of appeals vacancies. Republicans have rushed to fill those seats, and Democrats have rubber-stamped most of their nominees with little fight. While House Democrats and Senate Republicans haven’t managed to agree on a new COVID-19 relief bill since March, Democrats this week helped confirm eight new district court judges this week.

    It’s true that if Republicans hold together, then they can vote a Supreme Court nominee through with a simple majority — that is, if they are able to force a vote, and it’s not a given they will be able to if Democrats use all of their power.

    Grinding the Senate To a Halt

    The Senate runs on the unanimous consent system — which basically means that to do its most basic business, all senators must consent. In this situation, Senate Democrats have the power to use that system to grind everything to a halt.

    They can refuse to grant unanimous consent for the smallest things.

    They can force the reading of entire bills aloud.

    They can hold up the federal budget that the government needs to run.

    They can use these tactics to try to push back any confirmation hearings on a potential nominee.

    And they can try to do these things at least until after the next president is installed — all while they remind the public of the hypocrisy of GOP senators who said they would not try to install a judge during an election year.

    If Trump loses or if Republicans lose the Senate, then any semblance of moral authority to move the nomination forward will have completely collapsed: the electorate will have explicitly rejected the people responsible for it.

    While it would be naive to think that quaint concerns about the consent of the governed will rule the day with most Senate Republicans, if this shifts even a few into the “no” camp then we will have won. Moreover, if Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly wins his race against GOP incumbent Martha McSally (to fill the remainder of John McCain’s term), he would be seated at the end of November, rather than in January. But continued obstructionist tactics might yet be needed to prevent them from using the lame-duck session to ram a nominee through.

    If Republicans still go forward with an appointment, then all of this becomes the justification for Democrats to immediately pass legislation in the new Congress to expand the court.

    It would certainly be unprecedented, but we are living in unprecedented times — and this is what a Democratic leader must be forced to try to do, and the best way to force a senator to do something is to make clear they are risking their job if they don’t do that thing.

    New York Has Plenty of Dems Who Could Primary Schumer

    Schumer has been in the Senate long enough to know exactly how to make life impossible for Trump and Republicans. Up until now, he has chosen not to do that. He cannot make that choice now — and the only way to best guarantee that he won’t is for a major Democrat in New York to step up right now and make clear they are running against him in the 2022 primary, and they will make his behavior in this Supreme Court fight the central issue of their campaign.

    New York is a blue state. It has plenty of potentially powerful contenders — it has Democratic state lawmakers. It has Democratic congresspeople (including a very well-known one from the Bronx). It has statewide elected officials. It has New York City officials. There is no shortage of progressive Democrats in that state who could run credible, well-financed campaigns.

    We know from past experience that Democratic primaries can quickly force establishment Democrats to suddenly step up their game. One example of many: when conservative Arkansas Democrat Blanche Lincoln in 2010 faced a progressive primary challenge, she suddenly shifted from a reliable Wall Street ally into a populist who championed a crackdown on the derivatives that blew up the global economy in the financial crisis. As the Wall Street Journal noted at the time, she shifted because she knew she could pay an electoral price at home if she didn’t.

    There’s even more potential of such a dynamic when it comes to Schumer, because New York is a reliable Democratic state. There is literally no rationale for him to wuss out on this.

    Sure, maybe on his own Schumer wouldn’t end up going soft and letting Trump and McConnell steamroll their way through the Senate. But he might — which is exactly why someone needs to step up.

    Read more


  2. How Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death could affect Senate races – and Trump v Biden

    Susan Collins of Maine is among vulnerable Republican senators as polls indicate voters trust Biden more on justice picks


    Susan Collins talks with reporters after announcing her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, in October 2018. Photograph: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

    On the question of supreme court nominees, the Republican senator Susan Collins has repeatedly threaded the same political needle. It is one with a shrinking eye.
    Ruth Bader Ginsburg changed America long before she joined the supreme court
    Moira Donegan
    Read more

    A 64% majority of voters in Collins’ home state, Maine, believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases – yet Collins has voted to confirm Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, two justices nominated by Donald Trump who could roll back abortion rights.

    Collins has explained that based on her private impressions, the justices would not overturn the landmark Roe v Wade decision.

    But with the death on Friday of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and a vow by Trump and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, to replace the liberal lion despite the proximity of a presidential election, the eye of the needle may have closed.

    Collins is in the middle of a difficult re-election fight of her own, one in which voters will weigh her commitment on issues including reproductive rights. Recent polls have put her as much as 12 points behind her Democratic rival, Sarah Gideon.

    Now, it appears Collins will be pressured to pass judgment on a third Trump nominee, whom the president pledged on Saturday to select “without delay”, even though the Senate might not vote until after election day. This time, in the judgment of activists on both sides of the abortion issue, a vote in favor would clearly be a vote in favor of overturning Roe.

    This Month, Collins told the New York Times the calendar was too close to the election to advance a new justice.

    “I think that’s too close, I really do,” she said.

    On Saturday afternoon, the senator duly sought to straddle a particularly nasty chasm. Though Trump had “the constitutional authority to make the nomination” and she would have “no objection to the Senate judiciary committee beginning the process”, she said, the decision “should be made by the president who is elected on 3 November”.

    Collins is not alone among senators for whom the death of Ginsburg has given rise to a potential political crisis. In battleground states across the country – North Carolina, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, South Carolina, Georgia – Republicans are locked in close re-election fights that could be tipped by the battle over the next supreme court justice.

    Read the rest


  3. Editorial

    In the battle over the US supreme court, Democrats can still have the last laugh

    If Biden wins, he could pack the courts. That would be a justified gesture of constitutional restoration, not usurpation


    Adding two additional justices to Court’s ranks would simply counterbalance the abuse of constitutional rules that enabled the confirmation of Gorsuch and RBG’s replacement.’ Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

    “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” Such was the dying hope of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a wish the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, is determined to deny the late, great justice.

    Recall: this is the same Mitch McConnell who, in the wake of Antonin Scalia’s death nine months before the 2016 election, solemnly announced: “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next supreme court justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

    Never mind that the “McConnell rule” lacked grounding in constitutional materials and historical practice. The constitution empowers the president to nominate justices and tasks the US Senate with confirming or rejecting them. In a 150-year span – from 1866 to 2016 – the Senate never once prevented a president from filling a US supreme court vacancy. But armed with a rule of his own invention and a Republican majority in the Senate, McConnell brazenly refused to so much as grant a hearing to Merrick Garland, Barack Obama’s eminently qualified nominee to fill the supreme court vacancy left by Scalia.

    But no sooner had news of Ginsburg’s death broke than McConnell promised a Senate vote on Donald Trump’s replacement nominee – notwithstanding the fact that we are but six weeks removed from a presidential election and early voting has already started in some places. It turns out that the McConnell rule had a serious catch – it only applies when different parties control the Senate and the White House. And so the McConnell non-rule can be stated crisply: Republican incumbents in election years get to fill supreme court vacancies, but not Democrats.

    To accuse McConnell of breathtaking hypocrisy is to waste our breath. The charge sticks only if the hypocrite feels a tug of conscience for failing to follow their pronounced principles. In McConnell’s case, one senses nothing but a cynical, chuckling pride in applying and abandoning made-up rules to justify whatever result he wants.

    And chuckle he should. McConnell’s cynical distortion of the Senate’s role in judicial confirmations has served his party well. In 2017, McConnell used the so-called “nuclear option” to end debate on Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the supreme court. (Gorsuch was Trump’s pick to fill the vacancy that Obama had chosen Garland to fill.) McConnell insisted this was simply payback for Harry Reid’s use of the same option, in 2013, to remove obstacles to Obama’s lower federal court appointments.

    But McConnell’s tit-for-tat argument obscured how he and his fellow Senate Republicans had weaponized the use of the filibuster during Obama’s presidency. From the time that cloture rules were introduced into the Senate in 1917 until the end of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the filibuster was deployed 385 times. During Obama’s presidency, Senate Republicans launched over 500 filibusters, many of them to block Obama’s appointments to the federal bench. Reid’s use of the nuclear option was something of a desperate response to Republican obstructionism – or, more precisely, nullification. When it came to shutting down a Democratic filibuster of Gorsuch’s confirmation, McConnell then used the very poisoned conditions that he had helped create to justify a yet more extreme act of partisanship.

    Adding two additional justices to court’s ranks would simply counterbalance the abuse of constitutional rules

    True, it isn’t a foregone conclusion that McConnell will be successful in his rush to replace Justice Ginsburg. The vetting and confirmation process can take weeks, even months. At present, McConnell presides over 53 Republican seats, and certain defections are possible, if not likely. Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican trailing in her re-election bid, has expressed reservations about a rushed, last-minute confirmation. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has already gone on record as opposing the confirmation of a new justice before the election.

    Yet the deeper question is not whether McConnell will be successful. It is how Democrats should respond if he is. The answer, of course, will turn on the results of the coming election. But should Democrats capture the White House and the Senate, they need to bear in mind that it is Congress and not the Constitution that sets the size of the supreme court. In 1937, Franklin Roosevelt, frustrated by a hidebound supreme court that had struck down New Deal laws, proposed expanding the number of justices to fifteen. That court-packing plan was rightly rejected by Congress as a heavy-handed attempt to manipulate the court’s composition to generate specific political outcomes.

    A new Democratic court-packing plan in 2021 would be prompted by a very different logic. Adding two additional justices to court’s ranks would simply counterbalance the abuse of constitutional rules that enabled the confirmation of Gorsuch and RBG’s replacement. Such an act would be a justified gesture of constitutional restoration, not usurpation. So much for Mitch McConnell’s chuckling.

    Lawrence Douglas is the James J Grosfeld professor of law, jurisprudence and social thought at Amherst College, Massachusetts. He is the author of Will He Go? Trump and the Looming Election Meltdown in 2020. He is also a contributing opinion writer for the Guardian US

    Read at the source


  4. Facebook Versus Democracy

    A staff revolt highlights the social media giant’s reactionary politics, which are rooted in both business strategy and ideology.


    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks via video conference during the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law hearing on Online Platforms and Market Power in the Rayburn House office on July 29, 2020, on Capitol Hill. (Mandel Ngan-Pool / Getty Images)

    Facebook, long criticized for facilitating hate speech and incitement all over the world, is finally cracking down on one particular form of incendiary rhetoric: any criticism of Facebook management. The company has an internal message board that mirrors the platform it provides to users, a kind of private Facebook. On that forum, employees have been increasingly critical of senior executives for their cozy relationship with Donald Trump and other authoritarian leaders, which often leads the company to violate its own stated policies about disseminating hate speech and political disinformation.

    As The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday,

    Facebook Inc. is moving to curb internal debate around divisive political and social topics, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday, after a spate of disputes and criticism that has fueled discord among staffers. The steps will include delineating which parts of the company’s internal messaging platform are acceptable for such discussions, and careful moderation of the discussions when they occur, Mr. Zuckerberg told employees at a company meeting, according to a spokesman. Employees shouldn’t have to confront social issues in their day-to-day work unless they want to, the CEO said.

    The internal crackdown on speech comes after a period of heightened tension between management and employees. One source of conflict was the repeated actions of head of policy Joel Kaplan, who had once been George W. Bush’s deputy chief of staff, to carve out special exemptions for right-wing speech even when it violates Facebook’s rules.
    An extensive Bloomberg Businessweek report, also published on Thursday, traced the conflict back to Trump’s campaign in 2016. One pivotal incident was Trump’s posting in late May, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

    Trump posted these sentiments on both Twitter and Facebook. Twitter quickly hid the comments from users, with a note explaining that it broke the terms of service forbidding the glorification of violence. But, as Bloomberg Businessweek notes, “Trump’s post remained on Facebook, sparking a virtual walkout. Employees began criticizing Zuckerberg openly and leaking to the press.”

    The magazine goes on to observe that “a flurry of stories appeared over the next two months detailing instances that reinforced the suspicions about the alliance between Facebook and Trump. For instance, media outlets reported that the president had no negative hashtags associated with his name on Instagram, while Joe Biden had lots; that a Facebook employee was fired after complaining that the company seemed to be allowing far-right pundits, such as Diamond and Silk, to break rules about misinformation; and that an investigation into Ben Shapiro, whose site the Daily Wire routinely broke the rules to boost its audience, was thwarted by Kaplan’s policy group.”

    Read more at The Nation -or- Read a pdf of this article


  5. Rest In Peace Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Thank You


    Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Dying Wish: DISSENT!

    To honor RBG, we’ve got to fight with all our might to reclaim the Supreme Court—and that means packing it.


    US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on her 20th anniversary on the bench, in August 2013. (Nikki Kahn / The Washington Post via Getty Images)

    She should have died hereafter.

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away tonight at the age of 87. I would like to mourn her. But even Ginsburg herself realized there would be no time for that. On her deathbed, she dictated a message that was recorded by her granddaughter: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” Even near her end, Justice Ginsburg was citing precedent. Here, she was specifically invoking the precedent set by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell when he decided to hold open a seat on the Supreme Court vacated after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia (who died in February of 2016) until after the election that November and the inauguration of a new president in 2017.

    McConnell has already indicated that he doesn’t care about that precedent. Within hours of Ginsburg’s death, he told The Washington Post that Trump’s nominee to replace Ginsburg will receive a full vote on the Senate floor. McConnell will use all his considerable power to confirm a new Supreme Court justice in record time: either before the election, if he thinks he can get away with it, or during the lame duck session after the election, should Republicans lose either the Senate or the White House.

    Ginsburg herself surely knew this. Her deathbed dictation should not be read as the fleeting hope bubbles of a dying old lady, but as an exhortation to fight from the fiercest defender of women’s rights of her generation. This was her dying dissent: a message not about what Trump and McConnell should do, but about what we must do. We must not let her be “replaced” until a new president is installed.

    The prospects for near-term success are grim. McConnell has already removed the filibuster rule for Supreme Court appointments, which means he needs only 50 votes to confirm a new justice (since the vice president breaks any ties), and he has 53 Republicans. Democrats would have to convince four of those Republicans to agree to wait until after the election to move on a nominee. Even if political pressure can be brought against Republicans in close Senate races to reject McConnell’s hypocrisy, Democrats would have to keep those Republicans on board, against McConnell, through the transition to the next presidential term. It’s entirely possible that some of those vulnerable Republicans will lose their election campaigns anyway, and thus have no real reason to stick with Democrats before the inauguration, instead of voting with their party as they transition to their post-electoral careers in Republican politics.

    Read more


    Ruth Bader Ginsburg: ‘My Most Fervent Wish Is That I Will Not Be Replaced Until a New President Is Installed’

    May her memory be a blessing, and may we fight to assure that she will truly rest in power.


    US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Jeff Chiu / AP Photo)

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg swore an oath to defend the Constitution when she joined the United States Supreme Court in August of 1993. With true faith and allegiance to that oath, she made it clear in the last years of her remarkable tenure that she did not want Donald Trump to choose her successor. Before the president was elected, Justice Ginsburg said, “I can’t imagine what this place would be—I can’t imagine what the country would be—with Donald Trump as our president. For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be—I don’t even want to contemplate that.”

    The senior liberal on a delicately balanced high court—where she had served as a courageous and consistent champion of women’s rights, civil rights, and voting rights—spoke those words in July of 2016.

    For four long years, Justice Ginsburg kept the faith—battling cancer and advancing years. Just days before her death Friday, at age 87, the justice dictated a statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera that read: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

    That was not her wish alone. Tens of millions shared it. Now, however, the dread prospect is upon us.

    Thousands gathered outside the Supreme Court building Friday night to mourn. They recognized immediately that we must honor Justice Ginsburg’s service—not merely because, as Chief Justice John Roberts said Friday evening, “our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature,” but because of this remarkable woman’s epic role in advancing the cause of gender equity. “Justice Ginsburg was a trailblazer, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, the first Jewish woman, and a voice for all Americans, not just the wealthy and powerful,” said Alliance for Justice president Nan Aron. “Justice Ginsburg blazed trails on her way to greatness, authoring and joining opinions that advanced women’s equality, LGBTQ rights, reproductive freedoms, and so many other protections so many hold dear.”

    “She was a giant, and we shall not see her likes again,” said American Constitution Society President Russ Feingold, a former member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who observed that “by means of her towering intellect and unflinching courage, she blazed a path toward a better life for American women, and all Americans.”

    This is a time to grieve, and to reflect.

    Yet Justice Ginsburg has died in a presidential election year—just 46 days before Donald Trump will face his day of reckoning with the voters.

    It does not disrespect the justice’s memory to speak in this moment of honoring the Notorious RBG’s most fervent wish.

    But keeping faith will not be easy.

    This president is determined to nominate someone to replace Justice Ginsburg. “He really has an ego,” she said of Trump back in 2016, and it is unimaginable that this man’s ego would allow him to respect the wishes of the woman whose seat on the high court is now vacant. Most likely, Trump will move quickly. Most likely, he will nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett, whom the president placed on the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

    But this is not Trump’s choice alone.

    Trump’s nominee must be approved by the full Senate.

    Read more


  6. This is followup to the story I posted earlier by Galbraith

    Fool Me Twice: How Democrats Risk Repeating the Mistakes of the Financial Crisis in the Era of Covid-19

    Economist James Galbraith explains what the U.S. economy will need to get back on its feet.

    As the U.S. economy was spiralling out of control in 2008 and 2009, economist James Galbraith predicted that an insufficiently large stimulus would lead to a prolonged recession. He was right, and today he has a different set of economic prescriptions to address the economic crisis brought on by Covid-19. If Biden wins, will he listen? Senior politics editor Nausicaa Renner talks to Galbraith about his recent piece for The Intercept.

    Ryan Grim: In the fall of 2008, the U.S. economy was spinning out of control. The housing crisis had sent the financial sector into a tailspin, and Wall Street demanded that Congress pony up a $700 billion, no-strings-attached bailout. If they didn’t, there would be financial armageddon.

    With a gun to its head, Congress passed the bailout bill. Huge payouts were made to financial institutions with little accountability, and the Great Recession followed.

    Twelve years later, it’s starting to feel a bit like déjà vu, isn’t it?

    Sen. Bernie Sanders: Some of our Republican friends still have not given up on the need to punish the poor and working people.

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: One of the largest corporate bailouts, with as few strings as possible in American history.

    Robert Reich: Now is not the time to worry about the national debt.

    [Musical interlude.]

    RG: Today on the show, we’re gonna talk to someone who made the right call when it counted — 12 years ago. Someone who predicted that the approach the white house was taking was too weak to seriously address the banking and housing crises. Because if we want to avoid the mistakes of 2008 and 2009, we might want to listen to him this time around.

    I’m Ryan Grim, D.C. bureau chief for The Intercept. Welcome to Deconstructed.

    Read more


  7. From the “Never Trumpers aren’t necessarily your friend” department

    Why Does The Washington Post Publish This Never-Trump Drivel?

    A recent op-ed by AEI’s Danielle Pletka is the latest evidence of the immense bad faith of conservatives.


    Drew Angerer/Getty Images

    Three weeks ago, as protests against police violence raged in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Portland, Oregon, Never Trumpers had a stern warning for Joe Biden: Condemn the violence or lose the election. Never mind that Biden had condemned rioting and looting, repeatedly, for months. If he didn’t find a Sister Souljah moment—a reference to Bill Clinton’s dog-whistle attack on a virtually unknown rapper in 1992—and assert “independence” from the progressive left, argued George Will in The Washington Post, he could be in serious trouble.

    Those calls came at a moment when polls showed Biden and Donald Trump inching toward one another. Trump’s favorability even appeared to flutter upward. Given the role that riots played in the 1968 election, the assumption was that what was true 50 years ago was also true today: Urban violence helps the Republican law and order man and hurts the weak-kneed Democrat. It didn’t matter that America has changed significantly since then, or that the Republican law and order man, in this case, is the incumbent presiding over all this alleged chaos.

    Three weeks later, those calls seem opportunistic. Pundits like Will waited for a moment of maximum bed-wetting to insist that a Democrat campaign like a Jeb Bush Republican. But the feared collapse of Biden’s campaign hasn’t happened; indeed, polling has showed that voters favor Biden over Trump on the issue of law and order. So what’s a political hack to do?

    Earlier this week, Danielle Pletka provided an answer: Ignore all the evidence and keep insisting, as loudly as possible, that Biden must do more to placate conservatives. Her op-ed in The Washington Post, headlined “I never considered voting for Trump in 2016. I may be forced to vote for him this year,” is not just another example of the rot at the core of what’s left of the conservative movement. It’s also the clearest sign yet that the Biden campaign can afford to dial back its significant overtures to figures like Pletka, and that media institutions like the Post op-ed page need to tighten up their standards to avoid running incoherent drivel by bad-faith conservatives.

    Pletka casts herself as your standard Never Trump figure, a sensible Republican who is repulsed by Trump’s “erratic, personality-driven decision-making” and disgusting personality. “I don’t need a bumper sticker or a lawn sign to convey my distaste for Trump—his odious tweets, his chronic mendacity and general crudeness,” she writes. Joe Biden, in contrast, is a “decent” person. This juxtaposition would seemingly be enough for a Never Trumper—particularly a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who is appalled whenever vulgarity and politics align—to make the right choice.

    But, alas, there are greater evils than megalomania, constant lying, and several credible allegations of sexual harassment and assault. Something sinister is afoot on the left. Joe Biden, she writes, would be a Manchurian president, a Trojan Horse containing an army of leftist boogeymen. He “would be a figurehead president, incapable of focus or leadership, who would run a teleprompter presidency with the words drafted by his party’s hard-left ideologues,” she writes. This 77-year-old lifetime moderate and former vice president known for his across-the-aisle backslapping and advocacy on behalf of the credit card industry is little more than a stooge of the Squad.

    This argument channels—coincidentally, I’m sure—the president’s own. It’s an op-ed that works by omission, to the extent it works at all. Pletka proudly lists her anti-Trump bona fides—which basically start and end at not voting for him in 2016 and thinking he’s gross—but neglects to mention that she was also proudly “Never Hillary.” Her own career as a far-right political operative who worked for segregationist Jesse Helms also goes unmentioned. Biden’s political career is memory-holed, as is his bedrock identity as a moderate, beyond being “decent.”

    Also skipped over is the fact that Biden, arguably the most moderate candidate in the Democratic primary race, bested a number of progressives in his path to the nomination. Why would Biden exert so much energy running against Medicare for All and the party’s left wing only to bow to it once he reaches the White House?

    None of it adds up, but apparently Pletka isn’t alone in feeling this way. “I cannot even count the number of people from whom I have heard this exact argument, in conversations & private emails,” tweeted National Review’s Dan McLaughlin.

    Pletka writes that she fears “the leftward lurch of the Democratic Party” even more than what’s happening now under this president. That, alone, is demented. On the one hand, you have activists demanding universal health care, corporate tax increases, and green energy, and on the other, you have the worst pandemic response in the world, family separation, demagoguery, corruption, xenophobia. Pletka argues that a Biden victory would “begin an assault on the institutions of government that preserve the nation’s small ‘d’ democracy,” while Trump makes the case that any election result that doesn’t end with him winning is illegitimate. There’s pearl-clutching about liberal groupthink, but no mention of the fact that Trump has turned the GOP into a personality cult in which anything the Dear Leader says becomes gospel. There are the usual lazy attacks on cancel culture and critical race theory but no mention of the president’s praise for white nationalists—or the fact that Trump and the right cancel plenty.

    The failures of this op-ed speak to a larger problem at the Post. Under Jeff Bezos’s ownership, the paper has come a long way in challenging the supremacy of The New York Times. But the Post’s opinion page is still stuck in the past, its credibility damaged by hacks like Pletka, Hugh Hewitt, and Marc Thiessen. The Post, in part because it is still viewed as being in the shadow of the Times, has avoided the scrutiny that its competitor receives, but its opinion coverage is so much worse—as Pletka’s op-ed testifies.

    The idea that Biden is a Manchurian president is catnip to Republicans like Pletka for a simple reason. For the last four years, conservatives like her have insisted that they find the president abhorrent, that they hold country over party, that they would gladly vote for a “reasonable” alternative to him. In Joe Biden, one would have to conclude, they got their wish. He ran against Medicare for All and the Green New Deal; the progressive policies he has adopted are vaguely defined and easily abandoned. Most importantly, he’s done everything possible to woo Republicans. The Democrats turned their convention into a four-day lovefest aimed at winning over Trump-skeptical Republicans.

    And yet this isn’t enough. One almost gets the sense that she wanted to vote for Trump the whole time.

    Alex Shephard @alex_shephard

    Article printed in full but here’s the link anyway


  8. From the “Trump shoots both his feet” department

    TikTok: Trump questions Oracle deal if ByteDance keeps stake

    President warns any agreement to continue operating in US must be ‘100% as far as national security is concerned’


    Any deal between Oracle and TikTok would also need the approval of the Chinese authorities. Photograph: Florence Lo/Reuters

    You can read the story at the link but the key takeaway here is this is not the deal Trump wanted. This is a deal where Trump supporter and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison is trying to help Trump save face.

    What’s really going down here is the opening of a huge can of worms where other companies in other countries will demand they same kind of sweetheart deal Trump may be giving to Oracle. This watered down deal may result in profits for Oracle but it will not address the “national security” concerns Trump made his cornerstone. China is not going to cave and if Trump follows through on his threat to block TikTok in the U.S. he will alienate 100M+ Americans many of whom are voters.

    Another Trump business boondoggle.

    Read story at The Guardian


  9. Republican memo warns US Senate ‘at risk’ of falling into Democratic control

    Memo summarizes senate races of 10 states and how the outcome of each could determine who controls the Senate


    Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. Democrats are ‘even eyeing states like South Carolina, where Jaime Harrison reported raising a staggering $10.6m in August alone.’ Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock

    A memo by Senate Republicans’ campaign arm has admitted that control of the upper chamber is “at risk” and that Democrats could win the Senate in November’s elections.

    The September 2020 political update from the National Republican Senatorial Committee summarizes the state of the race of 10 states with Senate races around the country and how the outcome of each could factor into whether Republicans or Democrats control the chamber in January.

    The memo, obtained by the Guardian, has been circulating among political operatives, donors and interested parties. It comes just shy of 50 days before the November 2020 elections.

    “The next few weeks will define the future of our country for generations to come,” the NRSC memo reads.

    Memos like these are often shaped like dispassionate updates but in actuality they are often used to convince interested parties that races slipping out of reach are still in play. They are also often used to juice donations to lagging candidates and counter trending narratives.

    Democrats need to pick up three or four seats to take control of the Senate. The fact that the NRSC memo categorizes seven Senate races as ones that simply can’t be lost or deserve serious attention suggests that it’s possible, but not certain that Democrats can take control of the Senate.

    “Make no mistake: the Senate Majority is at risk. Beyond the four battleground states of Colorado, North Carolina, Arizona and Maine, Democrats are going on offense in historically red states like Montana, Iowa and Georgia,” the memo continues. “They’re even eyeing states like South Carolina, where [Democrat] Jaime Harrison just reported raising a staggering $10.6m in August alone.”

    Read more


  10. Trump squirms in TV spotlight as voters pin him down on Covid, health and race

    The president stepped outside his Fox News bubble on Tuesday night – and endured a barrage of criticism he couldn’t bat back

    In a rare excursion outside the friendly media bubble of Fox News on Tuesday night, Donald Trump took questions directly from uncommitted American voters at a televised “town hall” type event, in an experiment his campaign might not be in a hurry to repeat.
    Trump insists October vaccine possible despite CDC director’s caution – as it happened
    Read more

    Under sometimes aggressive questioning from ordinary members of the voting public about healthcare, immigration and the coronavirus, Trump at times twisted in the spotlight, narrowing his eyes at a question about the “race problem in America” and trying to interrupt another voter’s question about health insurance.

    But the voter shut the president down. “Please stop and let me finish my question, sir,” said the questioner, Ellesia Blaque, a professor from Philadelphia who explained that as a Black woman with a pre-existing health condition, “I’m minimized and not taken seriously.”

    Trump looked away sourly, but did not try to interrupt again.

    Read more


  11. Most plastic will never be recycled – and the manufacturers couldn’t care less
    Arwa Mahdawi

    Oil and gas companies make far more money churning out new plastic than reusing old. Meanwhile, the public gets the blame


    Is recycling plastic a waste of our time? Photograph: Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty Images/iStockphoto

    Plastic recycling is a scam. You diligently sort your rubbish, you dutifully wash your plastic containers, then everything gets tossed in a landfill or thrown in the ocean anyway. OK, maybe not everything – but the vast majority of it. According to one analysis, only 9% of all plastic ever made has likely been recycled. Here’s the kicker: the companies making all that plastic have spent millions on advertising campaigns lecturing us about recycling while knowing full well that most plastic will never be recycled.

    A new investigation by National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) reports that the large oil and gas companies that manufacture plastics have known for decades that recycling plastic was unlikely to ever happen on a broad scale because of the high costs involved. “They were not interested in putting any real money or effort into recycling because they wanted to sell virgin material,” Larry Thomas, former president of one of the plastic industry’s most powerful trade groups, told NPR. There is a lot more money to be made in selling new plastic than reusing the old stuff. But, in order to keep selling new plastic, the industry had to clean up its wasteful image. “If the public thinks that recycling is working, then they are not going to be as concerned about the environment,” Thomas noted. And so a huge amount of resources were diverted into intricate “sustainability theatre”.

    Multinationals misleading people for profit? Hold the front page! While the plastics industry’s greenwashing will come as no surprise to anyone, the extent of the deception alleged in NPR’s investigation is truly shocking. (I should state for the record that an industry representative interviewed by NPR contested the idea that the public was intentionally misled, although he does “understand the scepticism”.)

    The subterfuge around recycling plastic is also an important reminder of just how cynically and successfully big companies have shifted the burden of combating the climate crisis on to individuals. This might be best encapsulated in a famous ad campaign that aired in the US during the 1970s with the slogan “People Start Pollution. People can stop it.” The campaign was created by a non-profit group called Keep America Beautiful, which happened to be heavily funded by beverage and packaging companies with a vested interest in convincing people that they were the ones to blame for a polluted planet, not capitalism.

    Read more


  12. Dear news media, stop covering the US as if it’s a democracy

    The US is on its way to becoming an authoritarian state. That requires a radically different kind of journalism that doesn’t just cover the news, but defends democracy.


    Images by Thomas Kuijpers (for The Correspondent)

    The problem with the fall of a democracy is that it doesn’t simply happen, like a rain shower or a thunderstorm. It unfolds, like the slow and steady warming of the climate.

    Liberties aren’t eliminated, they are restricted and violated – until they erode. Rights aren’t abolished, they are undermined and trampled – until they become privileges. Truths aren’t buried, they are mocked and twisted – until everyone has their own.

    A democracy doesn’t stumble and fall; it slides into decline.

    The problem with daily news is that it obsesses over what’s happening, making it harder to grasp what unfolds. Breaking news, by its nature, is ill-equipped to cover the demise of democracy – just as the weather report never really shows us the climate is changing.

    Breaking news shows the world as a place of sheer madness without rhyme or reason – a non-stop series of unrelated events. It’s like a diary without a memory or a notion of the future: it tells us of today, while it has forgotten all about yesterday, and pretending there’s no tomorrow. It warns and warns and warns, but immediately forgets what it’s warning against – thus never learning from its own wailing sirens.

    For four years, US news has been what you get when you combine a North Korean obsession with the head of state with Rupert Murdoch’s business model

    For the past four years, ever since Donald J Trump took presidential office, this fundamental flaw in the fabric of news has hit harder than ever before.

    For four years, US news has been what you get when you combine a North Korean obsession with the head of state with Rupert Murdoch’s business model. A deranged cult of personality, interrupted only by commercial breaks. A presidential hypnosis, paid for by Procter & Gamble and Amazon. A totalitarian Twitterocracy in which we lurch from incident, to riot, to tweet, to disaster, to lunacy, to lie, to crisis, to disbelief, to attack, to mudslinging, to insult, to conspiracy theory, without facing the consequences of the pattern – the steady slide into decline.

    The disturbing story behind all this frenzied chaos of news is that of a country that is a democracy in name only, a kleptocracy
    in actual practice, and well on its way to becoming an autocracy
    full stop.

    Finish at The Correspondent . -or- Read as pdf


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