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Zorro

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Member since: 2001
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Airline Job Cuts Could Pressure Congress and Trump on Stimulus

American Airlines said it would furlough 19,000 workers if lawmakers do not extend aid to the industry, which has been hammered by the pandemic.

American Airlines warned employees on Tuesday that it would cut up to 19,000 workers on Oct. 1, saying that there was little sign that the pandemic-induced reluctance to travel was diminishing.

The airline is looking to cut thousands of flight attendants, pilots, technicians, gate agents and other staff, it said. Including buyouts, retirements and leaves of absence, the company expects to have about 40,000 fewer employees on Oct. 1 than it did before the pandemic, a 30 percent decline in its work force.

American is just the latest airline to predict bad news. Earlier this summer, United Airlines said that it could furlough as many as 36,000 employees in the fall. And, on Monday, Delta Air Lines warned that it might have to furlough as many as 1,941 pilots in October, even after nearly as many had accepted buyouts.

While weak demand is spurring these announcements, the airlines are also seeking to put pressure on Congress and the Trump administration to strike a deal on another coronavirus stimulus package. Passenger airlines received $25 billion to help pay workers under a March legislative package, with American alone receiving $5.8 billion.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/25/business/american-airline-furlough-19000.html

The Epic Shamelessness of the Republican Convention

Norms are for chumps, not for Trumps.

By Frank Bruni
Opinion Columnist

Conventions lie. Or at least they tell extravagant fibs. That’s how they transform their nominees from mere mortals to near messiahs. That’s how they whip up the faithful and woo the agnostics.

But the Republican convention is going well beyond that. It’s less a feat of pretty storytelling than an act of pure derangement.

To turn Donald Trump into a president worthy of a second term, speakers are conjuring an entirely different person in his place. I can tell that Trump is the man they’re talking about, because he keeps popping up amid all the monumental imagery. (Did Leni Riefenstahl consult via séance?)

But I otherwise don’t recognize their version of Trump. Their Trump brims with empathy. Their Trump burns with passion to improve the lives of ordinary Americans. Their Trump heroically spared the country from the worst ravages of Covid-19, which is surely news to the relatives and friends of more than 175,000 Americans (and counting) who have died from it.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/26/opinion/trump-melania-rnc.html

Margaret Hunter, wife of disgraced former congressman Duncan Hunter, gets 8 months home confinement

A federal judge sentenced Margaret Hunter to three years probation, including eight months of home arrest, for her role in a years-long criminal conspiracy with her husband, former Rep. Duncan Hunter, to use campaign contributions for personal expenses.

The sentence, handed down Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Whelan, closed a case that began more than four years ago with questions about unusual spending the couple racked up on campaign accounts.

Margaret Hunter, 45, served as the campaign manager for her husband and used a campaign credit card and other political funds for personal expenses for the family, ranging from fancy vacations overseas to dozens of fast-food meals.

Federal law prohibits using campaign contributions for personal expenses.

While prosecutors acknowledged Margaret Hunter was responsible for the majority of the illegal spending, they recommended she not serve time in prison, citing “extraordinary” cooperation she gave to prosecutors against her husband.

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/watchdog/story/2020-08-24/margaret-hunter-wife-of-disgraced-former-congressman-duncan-hunter-gets-8-months-home-confinement

Kimberly Guilfoyle trashed California. She goes way back with two of the state's most important Dems

Early in her speech at the Republican National Convention on Monday night, Kimberly Guilfoyle used her home state as an ominous warning.

“If you want to see the socialist Biden-Harris future for our country,” she cautioned, “just take a look at California."

What she recalled as a “place of immense wealth, immeasurable innovation [and] an immaculate environment” had been razed by Democrats “into a land of discarded heroin needles in parks, riots in streets and blackouts in homes,” she said.

Yet it is perhaps no coincidence that Guilfoyle, a prosecutor-turned-Fox News host-turned Trump surrogate, has long, contentious ties with two of that state’s most prominent Democrats: Gov. Gavin Newsom, her ex-husband, and Sen. Kamala D. Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee and her former office rival.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/25/kimberly-guilfoyle-speech-rnc-california/

Just take a look at California? Works for me!

A rotten way to start convention week for Republicans

Opinion by Jennifer Rubin

Convention week got off to a miserable start for Republicans. I don’t just refer to the whiny first appearance by President Trump, who launched a rambling, incoherent and fact-free rant on Monday, wherein he lied by saying “They’re trying to steal the election from Republicans. Just like they did it last time, with spying.” (This is, of course, based on the crazy, false allegation that the Obama administration “spied on him.”)

The bad-news avalanche started even before the Republican National Convention roll call’s resembling a hostage video — a far cry from the uplifting video trip around the country put on by the Democrats last week. And, yes, it started before Vice President Pence hilariously promised to “Make America Great Again, again” (because they sure have wrecked things since 2016?).

For starters, Trump is deeply unpopular. A new Associated Press-NORC poll shows his approval down to a paltry 35 percent, and approval for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic even worse at 31 percent. While the president repeatedly hypes a phony figure of more than 90 percent approval among Republicans, this poll pegs it at a mediocre 79 percent. Moreover, the poll found that “just 23% think the country is heading in the right direction, while 75% think it’s on the wrong path. . . . The federal government as a whole has also taken a hit with the public, with approval down from 38% in March to 23% now.” For a party banking on a cult of personality, it might want to find a more popular personality.

Moreover, the sleaziness of the Trump world is on full display. Last week, former Trump campaign strategist Stephen K. Bannon was arrested on charges of defrauding Americans in connection with a private build-the-wall scheme (Bannon has pleaded not guilty). We then learned of yet another investigation into Trump’s finances.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/08/25/rotten-way-start-convention-week-republicans/

Republicans' 'uplifting' convention turned into a rage-fest

Opinion by Dana Milbank

President Trump over the weekend said he expected a “very uplifting and positive” convention.

Uh-oh. Dude must have gotten into the hydroxychloroquine again.

The Republican National Convention on its opening day was as uplifting as the apocalypse, as positive as perdition.

“The woke-topians,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) warned, “will disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home and invite MS-13 to live next door, and the police aren’t coming when you call.”

Kimberly Guilfoyle, the former Fox News personality and current girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr., informed the convention that Democrats “want to destroy this country and everything that we have fought for and hold dear. They want to steal your liberty, your freedom. They want to control what you see and think and believe so that they can control how you live. They want to enslave you to the weak, dependent, liberal victim ideology, to the point that you will not recognize this country or yourself.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/08/25/republicans-uplifting-convention-becomes-festival-fear/

WITH HIS TELL-ALL ON DECK, MICHAEL COHEN IS PLOTTING ANTI-TRUMP ADS FOR DEMOCRATS

After throwing his own manuscript into the Passover flames at Otisville to prevent leaks, the president’s ex-lawyer is dropping hints about his tell-all, partnering with a Democratic PAC during the RNC, and gearing up for a potential legal slugfest with Eric and Don Jr.

Early in April, Michael Cohen found himself facing a snap decision. Nearly a year into his 36-month sentence at the Otisville federal correctional facility, about 70 miles northwest of his Trump Park Avenue apartment, he had gotten into an altercation with a fellow inmate, who had complained about Cohen’s phone use. As a result, Cohen was being transferred to the Special Housing Unit, known as the “shu” or solitary confinement. At any moment, prison guards would arrive to pack up his belongings. This process sometimes meant guards would discard contraband or things they thought were trash, and Cohen panicked. Hidden in his cell was a 500-odd page preliminary manuscript for the tell-all he had decided to call Disloyal. He knew the guards largely supported Donald Trump, Cohen’s former boss and a subject of the book. He also knew they sometimes leaked things about him or other high-profile inmates in his minimum-security camp. That manuscript would be a jackpot.

It happened to be the first night of Passover, the holiday for which Jewish people forgo leavened bread and replace it with matzah, and Otisville houses a fair number of Orthodox inmates who were preparing to observe. As such, they’d built a customary fire to torch the hametz—leavened products—on the premises. Cohen grabbed his manuscript, made his way to the fire, and dropped the pages in.

Luckily, his wife had a copy of the manuscript on a thumb drive. Cohen’s book is now set to be released in the coming weeks, after years of speculation about what he may have witnessed. The foreword of the book, which Cohen published on his website earlier this month, fans the flames. “I know where the skeletons are buried because I was the one who buried them,” it reads. “I was the one who most encouraged him to run for president in 2011, and then again in 2015, carefully orchestrating the famous trip down the escalator in Trump Tower for him to announce his candidacy. When Trump wanted to reach Russian President Vladimir Putin, via a secret back channel, I was tasked with making the connection in my Keystone Kop fashion. I stiffed contractors on his behalf, ripped off his business partners, lied to his wife, Melania, to hide his sexual infidelities, and bullied and screamed at anyone who threatened Trump’s path to power. From golden showers in a sex club in Vegas, to tax fraud, to deals with corrupt officials from the former Soviet Union, to catch and kill conspiracies to silence Trump’s clandestine lovers, I wasn’t just a witness to the president’s rise—I was an active and eager participant.”

Cohen told people that after he posted the foreword online, his website crashed. He upped its bandwidth, but a half hour later it supposedly crashed again. The book shot up the Amazon charts, even without a powerhouse publisher. Like his boss, Cohen has often been his own best marketer. It helped that the book has been a subject of fascination since before he wrote a single word. At least four members of Congress asked him if he planned to write a book when he testified on Capitol Hill in the winter of 2019. “Will you today commit to donate any further proceeds to book deals, to film reviews, to charity?” asked Rep. Michael Cloud. Cohen said he would not.

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/08/michael-cohen-is-plotting-anti-trump-ads

The Republican Party announces that it stands for nothing

Opinion by Editorial Board

IN RECENT years, people have tended to ignore or even gently deride the deliberations of party platform committees. All these arguments over arcane questions of policy, and for what? The nominee, if elected, won’t be bound by any of it.

True enough. Yet the Republican decision this year to adopt no policy platform whatsoever shines a light on the democratic significance of the exercise — and the alarming vacuity of the Republican Party under President Trump. The Republicans are announcing that they stand for nothing. The party’s only reason for being is to gain and retain power for itself and its comparably unprincipled leader. What kind of future can there be for such a party? And how healthy can the two-party system be if one party has no principles?

Leading up to the Democratic convention last week, supporters of former vice president Joe Biden spent hours debating with supporters of some of the candidates he had beaten for the nomination, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). They argued over health care, education funding, foreign affairs and more. They compromised at times, found new ground at times and hammered out a platform that the party could unite behind. If elected, Mr. Biden and Democrats in Congress won’t be bound by it, but the exercise will help shape their governing priorities. It was a useful democratic exercise.

The Republicans can’t risk such a debate. Many of the party’s senators and other leaders used to have principles, or at least claimed to. They believed in fiscal rectitude, free trade, limited executive power. Now, they have fallen in line behind a president who believes in none of that. So, are they the party of managed trade, unbridled presidential power, unlimited debt? No one wants to say that. Instead, they define themselves as the party of Donald J. Trump.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/republicans-no-party-platform-rnc/2020/08/24/a56c057c-e61c-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html

The Senate Intelligence Committee's report really is damning

Opinion by Jennifer Rubin

Sen. Mark R. Warner (Va.), ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, appeared on television Sunday to discuss the fifth and final volume the committee has published on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election on behalf of Donald Trump. Keep in mind that this volume was approved 14 to 1 by the committee, including the chairman who oversaw most of the investigation, Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.). Republicans can publicly spin all they like, but the facts are there, nearly unanimously confirmed. The report is replete with damning details of contacts between the Trump campaign (including Roger Stone on the WikiLeaks hack and email dump) and Russian operatives.

Warner explained on “Meet the Press” that there were “unprecedented contacts between Russians and folks on the Trump campaign. The Trump campaign officials welcomed that help.” He added, “Maybe one of the most stunning was the level of detail of the then-campaign manager, Paul Manafort, sharing very specific campaign information with a Russian agent.” Warner said, “We’ll never know what the Russians did with that information. But think about that. A campaign manager sharing with a known Russian agent during the middle of a campaign.” That is quite simply collusion.

The suggestion by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) that no collusion occurred and that the committee report actually proves this (!!) ignores the connection between Manafort and Russian intelligence officer Konstantin Kilimnik, the 2016 meeting at Trump Tower among campaign officials and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya (who had much closer ties to Russian intelligence than previously was known), Roger Stone’s connection to WikiLeaks, and Trump’s open invitation to Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Trump left the door wide open to foreign influence in U.S. elections. Only the sycophants and dregs are left in the Trump administration. Warner pointed to the departures of respected, independent figures including Daniel Coats as director of national intelligence, acting director of national intelligence Joe Maguire and “both their deputies, to Michael Atkinson.” He added, “Trump intel officials who all told the truth about the Russian ongoing investigation ... were all fired because this president and this White House doesn’t want to hear the truth.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/08/24/senate-intelligence-committees-report-really-is-damning/

TRUMP'S ANSWER TO THE DNC: LOTS MORE OF ME

Joe Biden capped off a surprisingly effective virtual Democratic National Convention on Thursday night with what just may have been a career-defining speech: a paean to decency, to democracy, to hope in the face of pain. “It’s time for us, for we, the people, to come together,” Biden said, promising to be an “ally of the light.” “United we can and will overcome this season of darkness in America.” In another time, such a call might sound platitudinous. But for a nation mired in despair, consumed by crises, the promise of a better tomorrow was heartening, familiar and foreign at the same.

The unity and hope and decency of which he spoke were overarching themes of this week’s DNC. From progressives like Bernie Sanders to Republicans like John Kasich, from rising stars like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to party leaders like Barack Obama, speakers sought to remind a weary nation that, whatever policy disagreements that might exist under this big tent, all can agree that there’s a better way to live. The pandemic doesn’t have to be an unconquerable oppressor. The systemic injustice that has plagued our society since its inception doesn’t have to persist. The heaviness that has hung over the national mood even before the coronavirus crisis exploded, that prevailing sense of gloom and anxiety, can be lifted. “This chapter of American darkness,” as Biden put it Thursday, can be drawn to a close.

“We can choose a path of becoming angrier, less hopeful, more divided — a path of shadow and suspicion,” Biden said Thursday. “Or, we can choose a different path and together take this chance to heal, to reform, to unite—a path of hope and light.”

What a contrast that message is from that of Donald Trump, whose mean and joyless presidency has given way to a somehow even darker reelection campaign. From the Democrats this week, the narrative was all about coming together as a nation, the power of democracy. In Trump’s counterprogramming, there was only more division, fear, and ugliness: American cities are “terrible,” everyone’s out to get you, and Biden is trying to “destroy the American way of life.” All that stands in the way of this looming national annihilation, he says, is himself.

He’ll surely seek to further advance his “American carnage” narrative next week at the Republican National Convention, though it’s not quite clear what shape it’ll all take. That’s because, with just three days before it’s set to begin, the particulars are still being worked out by the president and his aides. Trump, a bona fide television addict, has taken the lead in the effort to produce a four-day GOP telethon that outshines that of the Democrats. But watching hours and hours of television does not necessarily qualify one to produce television, and the re-coronation party he’s planning for himself seems poised to descend into his typical chaos.

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/08/trumps-answer-to-the-dnc-lots-more-of-me
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