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Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Current location: PA
Member since: Wed May 11, 2005, 09:48 PM
Number of posts: 10,659

About Me

I love spending time with my grandchildren and gardening.

Journal Archives

Dr. Birx would roam the halls of the White House, sometimes passing out diagrams to bolster her case

Inside the Failure: 5 Takeaways on Trump’s Effort to Shift Responsibility
President Trump and his top aides sharply shifted their pandemic strategy in mid-April after seizing on optimistic data suggesting the virus would disappear, a Times investigation found.


Dr. Birx was more central than publicly known to the judgment inside the West Wing that the virus was under control and on a downward path.

But her model-based assessment of the outlook failed to account for a vital variable: how Mr. Trump’s rush to urge a return to normal would undercut the social distancing and other measures that were holding down the numbers.

During the morning meetings in Mr. Meadows’s office, Dr. Birx almost always delivered what the new team was hoping for: “All metros are stabilizing,” she would tell them, describing the virus as having hit its “peak” around mid-April. The New York area accounted for half of the total cases in the country, she said. The slope was heading in the right direction. “We’re behind the worst of it.”

During much of mid-April, Dr. Birx focused intensely on the experience that Italy had fighting the virus. In her view, it was a particularly positive comparison, telling colleagues that the United States was on the same trajectory as Italy, where there were huge spikes before infections and deaths flattened to close to zero.

Dr. Birx would roam the halls of the White House, sometimes passing out diagrams to bolster her case. “We’ve hit our peak,” she would say, and that message would find its way back to Mr. Trump.


"the logical conclusion of a lot of things the Republican Party has been doing" for decades

The Lincoln Project, the rogue former Republicans trying to take down Trump, explained
The Lincoln Project’s goal is to get Trump out of office. But some argue its members helped him get in.


But as historian Eric Foner argued in 2016, Trump can be seen as “the logical conclusion of a lot of things the Republican Party has been doing” for decades, with predecessors like Richard Nixon’s “law and order” presidential campaign, rife with racist implications, and populist appeal as a businessman railing against Washington corruption. To many liberals, Trump isn’t an aberration; he’s the culmination of a decades-long political project.

The Lincoln Project and its GOP exiles, writer Eric Higgins argued on July 12 in the newsletter Welcome to Hell World, are an example of a “memory hole” in action: Everything that happened before Trump (like the Iraq War or the existence of the Bush administration or the murder of Trayvon Martin) has been forgotten by liberals allying with the group and sharing their ads in service of getting Trump out of office.

The fact is that the coalition is made up of people who until very recently were happily ensconced in the GOP—meaning that it’s not the policies pursued and beliefs espoused by Trump that are the issue. It’s just his delivery. This is not an abstract issue. The president is part and parcel of the entire Republican project and its logical conclusion after five decades of cultivating an increasingly enraged white base filled with economic and cultural grievances for which the GOP has blamed on the uneven but inexorable march to greater equality in American society.


Higgins told me that the Lincoln Project’s ads were an appeal to liberals who believe that conservatives are their ideological opponents but not their enemies. “The commercials are part of a general effort by LP to present Trump as an aberration, a mistake, something out of the right-wing mainstream,” he said, “rather than the logical endpoint of the GOP and the direct ideological heir of the movement that began in earnest with Ronald Reagan.”

When I asked him about the ads themselves, he said, “Frankly all they do is make me angry by pretending there’s any major difference between Reagan [or] George W. Bush and Trump other than style.” He added, “I’m clearly not the target audience."


Andrew Weissmann: We Can Still Get the Truth From Roger Stone

We Can Still Get the Truth From Roger Stone
The Justice Department should vindicate the rule of law by putting him before a grand jury.
By Andrew Weissmann
Mr. Weissmann was a senior prosecutor in the Mueller investigation.
July 14, 2020, 5:00 a.m. ET

Attorney General Bill Barr reportedly opposed President Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s prison sentence for seven felonies — the latest act by this administration to undermine the rule of law. If Mr. Barr’s resistance is to be believed, the Department of Justice still has a path to vindicate the rule of law by putting Mr. Stone before a grand jury.

In November 2019, a federal jury unanimously found Mr. Stone guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt, of lying to Congress about the coordination between the Trump 2016 campaign, Mr. Stone, WikiLeaks and Russia. The seven counts included five of perjury and one count each of obstruction of Congress and tampering with a witness. Mr. Stone was sentenced to spend 40 months in prison until he got his reward for keeping his lips sealed.

This does not have to be the end of the story.

Prosecutors are well armed to get to the bottom of what Mr. Stone knows but has refused to disclose. If there was nothing nefarious about his coordination efforts, why did he lie about them to Congress? This question remains unanswered, as the Mueller report notes.

In spite of the president’s commutation, prosecutors can seek to discover the answer by calling Mr. Stone before a grand jury. Grand juries are used every day all across the country, at the federal and state levels, to investigate potential criminal matters.


Are Trump's coronavirus failures Ronald Reagan's fault?

Op-Ed: Are Trump’s coronavirus failures Ronald Reagan’s fault?

Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis has been deeply flawed. The administration’s pandemic faults are vast and varied, and the president should be held accountable for them. But so should the Republican Party: In many ways, the author of the Trump administration’s COVID-19 fiasco is the man who remade the party in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan.

At every stage of the COVID-19 challenge, Trump has failed to mobilize the federal government effectively. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been ill-prepared or blocked from coordinating a national response that matches the crisis. Experts, especially scientists, have been sidelined. Despite Congress authorizing trillions in stimulus and relief aid, the actual management of those programs has been slipshod and haphazard. And the number of cases just keeps rising, ominously.

Trump’s lack of leadership reflects an agenda that takes its cues from an idealized President Reagan. From the start of his presidency, Reagan trumpeted a rejection of using government to help the country, to act as a partner in solving its problems. In his first inaugural address in 1981, Reagan declared, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” In his second term, during a news conference in August 1986, he phrased the issue in even starker terms: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

Is it any surprise that, today, a Republican Party that is spiritual heir to Reagan would be ineffective in using a tool its most revered recent president disowned? “While the economic pain is nowhere close to ending,” reported the New York Times in May, “Republicans seem disinclined to renew huge spending programs, particularly as November looms.” Said top presidential advisor Stephen Moore: “All government can do right now is make things worse, not better.” Sound familiar?

In particular, Reagan’s legacy has hamstrung Republican support for a strong scientific response to COVID-19. Richard Nixon bonded the GOP with Southern conservatives in the late 1960s over race, then Reagan moved this alliance in a new direction by courting the often anti-science religious far right.


Yes, the Looting Must Stop

Yes, the Looting Must Stop

Looting is the word of the day, on the lips of every newscaster, the president, and elected officials across the country. And, indeed, looting is a major problem in America

In 1981, when Ronald Reagan ended the New Deal era, crushed labor unions, and massively cut the top personal and corporate tax rates, he kicked off the most massive and widespread looting of America since the 1920s.

Working people all across the nation have seen over $7 trillion of their wealth looted by the top 1 percent just in the past two decades, reducing them from the middle class to the working poor.

Small and medium sized businesses, since Reagan stopped enforcing the Sherman AntiTrust Act in 1983, have seen their companies looted by giant monopolies and predatory banksters like Mitt Romney.

Millions of homeowners across the nation had their homes looted by thugs like Steven Mnuchen, California’s “Forclosure King,” and Wall Street banksters like Jamie Dimon, a practice that’s again exploding.


He is no longer president. The sooner we stop treating him as if he were, the better

Fire, pestilence and a country at war with itself: the Trump presidency is over
Robert Reich
A pandemic unabated, an economy in meltdown, cities in chaos over police killings. All our supposed leader does is tweet

You’d be forgiven if you hadn’t noticed. His verbal bombshells are louder than ever, but Donald J Trump is no longer president of the United States.

By having no constructive response to any of the monumental crises now convulsing America, Trump has abdicated his office.

He is not governing. He’s golfing, watching cable TV and tweeting.


His advisers aren’t truth-tellers. They’re toadies, lackeys, sycophants and relatives.

Since moving into the Oval Office in January 2017, Trump hasn’t shown an ounce of interest in governing. He obsesses only about himself.

But it has taken the present set of crises to reveal the depths of his self-absorbed abdication – his utter contempt for his job, his total repudiation of his office.

Trump’s nonfeasance goes far beyond an absence of leadership or inattention to traditional norms and roles. In a time of national trauma, he has relinquished the core duties and responsibilities of the presidency.

He is no longer president. The sooner we stop treating him as if he were, the better.

We Need to Speak Honestly About the GOP's Evolution Into a Conspiracy Cult

We Need to Speak Honestly About the GOP’s Evolution Into a Conspiracy Cult


One of the challenges in analyzing modern American politics is accurately describing the Republican Party without seeming unserious and hyperbolic. Major publications are understandably in the habit of presenting both sides of the partisan divide as being inherently worthy of respect and equal consideration, both as a way of shielding themselves from accusations of bias and as a way of maintaining their own sense of journalistic integrity.

Unfortunately, the modern Republican Party’s abdication of seriousness, good faith and reality-based communications or policy-making has stretched even the most open-minded analyst’s capacity for forced balance. Donald Trump’s own inability to string together coherent or consistent thoughts has led to a bizarre normalization of his statements in the traditional media, as journalists unconsciously try to fit his rambling, spontaneous utterances into a conventional framework. This has come at the cost of Americans seeing the full truth of the crisis of leadership in the Oval Office for what it is. For instance, it was ironically salutary for the American public to witness Donald Trump’s bizarre pandemic press conferences where he oddly attacked reporters for asking innocuous questions and recommended researching bleach and sunlight injections, because they got to see Trump raw as he truly is, without the normalization filter. Republicans have long argued that the “mainstream media filter” gives them a bad shake, but the reality is the opposite: sure, it’s not as good as being boosted by Fox News’ overt propaganda, but it does them a greater service than letting the public see them unfiltered at all.

But there comes a tipping point at which it becomes too dangerous to keep up the pretense. Most people left of center would argue (rightly, I believe) that we hit that point long, long ago and the time to re-evaluate journalistic norms and practices should have been decades earlier when the GOP was busy covering up the Iran Contra scandal and promoting the Laffer Curve as serious public policy. Or that any number of catastrophes of conservative public policy and norm erosion since should have sounded the alarms along the way, from the Bush v Gore decision and the Brooks Brothers Riots to the lies justifying the invasion of Iraq, to the deregulation-fueled Wall Street crash, birtherism, the Benghazi obsession and the nomination of Donald Trump. Many would point with legitimate outrage to the abdication of responsibility in the face of climate change, yawning inequality, forced family separation policy, children in cages and so much else.

But even faced with awful consequences of all these horrors, a defender of traditional journalism might simply chalk them up to policy differences in a democratic society. They would be wrong to do so, but the position would be intellectually defensible in principle.

But recently there has been a shift among GOP voters that is different not just in degree of virulence, but also in kind. For a host of different reasons, core Republican voters have begun to reconstitute themselves as a conspiracy theory cult devoted to beliefs that were once relegated to the farthest fringe–fictions that cannot help but end in civil conflict and violence if they fully become canon among conservative voters nationwide. This process arguably began as far back as Glenn Beck’s prominence on Fox News, but it has now blossomed into a grandiose collective paranoid fantasy.


George W Bush paved the way for Trump - to rehabilitate him is appalling

George W Bush paved the way for Trump – to rehabilitate him is appalling


On Saturday, Bush put out a video calling for compassion and national unity during the coronavirus crisis. In it, he declared: “We are not partisan combatants; we are human beings.” This is a lovely message; really, it is. It is just a shame he wasn’t so invested in our shared humanity when he used the fabricated threat of weapons of mass destruction to bomb Iraq into oblivion. It is a pity he didn’t think about “how small our differences are” when he fought LGBTQ+ rights. It is unfortunate he wasn’t so concerned about compassion during his botched and heartless response to Hurricane Katrina.

If there were an Oscar for best use of cinematography to whitewash a bloody legacy, then Dubya has certainly earned it. His three-minute message – which was part of The Call to Unite, a project featuring videos from celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and Julia Roberts – has been viewed more than 6m times and generated widespread praise. With Trump in office, suddenly Bush doesn’t seem so bad to many observers. At least Bush could reach across the political aisle now and again. “Bush handled post-Katrina by asking his father and Bill Clinton to help,” tweeted Maggie Haberman, the New York Times’ White House correspondent. “The current president has been uninterested in asking his predecessors to get involved as the country deals with Covid.”

We don’t have to do this. We don’t have to normalise Bush or rewrite his record just because Trump is unleashing his own campaign of shock and awfulness. We don’t have to minimise the enormous damage Bush did just because he didn’t tweet misspelled abuse at his political enemies. We don’t have to do any of this – but a lot of Americans seem desperately to want to. This is partly because the US has a deep-seated reverence for its heads of state, as illustrated by the fact they retain the honorific of president after they have left office. Perhaps because Britain is a monarchy with a longer history than the US, we don’t see our head of government as a national mother or father figure in quite the same way.

However, the bigger motivation behind the apparent desire to rehabilitate Bush is probably a desperation among liberals to see Trump as an anomaly who doesn’t reflect the “real” US. But Trump is not an aberration. He didn’t emerge from a vacuum. The lies, jingoism and anti-intellectualism of the Bush era helped pave the way for him – and the steady rehabilitation of Bush is paving the way for Trump to evade accountability in the future.


A Federal Judge Condemned the "Roberts Court's Assault on Democracy.'' It's About Time

A Federal Judge Condemned the “Roberts Court’s Assault on Democracy.’’ It’s About Time.

Nowhere is the problem of asymmetrical rhetorical warfare more apparent than in the federal judiciary. For the past several years, federal judges, notably those appointed by Donald J. Trump, have felt unmoored from any standard judicial conventions of circumspection and restraint, penning screeds about the evils of “big government” and rants against Planned Parenthood. Most of the judicial branch, though, has declined to engage in this kind of rhetoric. There are norms, after all, and conventions, standards, and protocols. There seems to also be an agreement that conservative judges demonstrate deeply felt passion when they delve into such issues, while everyone else just demonstrates “bias” if they decide to weigh in. So when Justice Clarence Thomas just last year used a dissent to attack the integrity of a sitting federal judge in the census case, it was mere clever wordsmithing. But when Justice Sonia Sotomayor suggests, as she did recently, that the conservative wing of the high court seems to be privileging the Trump administration’s emergency petitions, she is labeled—by the president himself—unfit to judge. It’s such a long-standing trick, and it’s so well supported by the conservative outrage machine, that it’s easy to believe that critiques of fellow judges by conservative judges are legitimate, while such critiques from liberal judges are an affront to the legitimacy of the entire federal judiciary.

This dynamic is why it’s so astonishing to see progressive judges really go for broke in criticizing conservative bias in the judiciary, as U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman does in criticizing the five conservative justices on the Roberts Supreme Court in an upcoming Harvard Law review article. The article begins, brutally:

By now, it is a truism that Chief Justice John Roberts’ statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee that a Supreme Court justice’s role is the passive one of a neutral baseball “umpire who [merely] calls the balls and strikes” was a masterpiece of disingenuousness. Roberts’ misleading testimony inevitably comes to mind when one considers the course of decision-making by the Court over which he presides. This is so because the Roberts Court has been anything but passive. Rather, the Court’s hard right majority is actively participating in undermining American democracy. Indeed, the Roberts Court has contributed to insuring that the political system in the United States pays little attention to ordinary Americans and responds only to the wishes of a relatively small number of powerful corporations and individuals.

Adelman, who sits in the Eastern District of Wisconsin, goes on to methodically chronicle that which is hardly news to anyone who has observed the rightward turn of the Supreme Court. His article brings into clear relief the court’s systemic attack on voting rights for minority and other marginalized communities, by way of striking down a key section of the Voting Rights Act, as well as repeated blessing of voter suppression and decisions not to adjudicate political gerrymandering. He notes that the court privileges the wealthy and corporate interests at the expense of the public. He lays out in detail the rise of the conservative legal movement, starting with the infamous 1971 Lewis Powell memo that served as a right-wing call to arms and tracing its progress through the current well-funded effort to reverse the New Deal in the courts. The article ultimately portrays the slow movement of the Supreme Court to the right—and then the far right—through a long line of cases that reversed the Warren court’s protections for minority groups and poor and working-class Americans. It shows how the court has undermined unions and boosted corporate interests. The court, he notes, has greatly contributed to income inequality, health care inequality, and the hollowing out of the American middle class.

Adelman ends with this caution:

We are thus in a new and arguably dangerous phase in American history. Democracy is inherently fragile, and it is even more so when government eschews policies that benefit all classes of Americans. We desperately need public officials who will work to revitalize our democratic republic. Unfortunately, the conservative Justices on the Roberts Court are not among them.


"Mr. Barr could not be trusted." We all knew that, so what will come of this?



Mr. Barr could not be trusted, Judge Reggie B. Walton said, citing “inconsistencies” between the attorney general’s statements about the report when it was secret and its actual contents that turned out to be more damaging to President Trump. Mr. Barr’s “lack of candor” called into question his “credibility and, in turn, the department’s” assurances to the court, Judge Walton said.

The judge ordered the Justice Department to privately show him the portions of the report that were censored in the publicly released version so he could independently verify the justifications for those redactions. The ruling came in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking a full-text version of the report.

The differences between the report and Mr. Barr’s description of it “cause the court to seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller report in favor of President Trump despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller report to the contrary,” wrote Judge Walton, an appointee of President George W. Bush.

Mr. Barr’s public rollout of the Mueller report has been widely criticized. Still, it was striking to see a Republican-appointed federal judge scathingly dissect Mr. Barr’s conduct in a formal judicial ruling and declare that the sitting attorney general had so deceived the American people that he could not trust assertions made by a Justice Department under Mr. Barr’s control.

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