The Evening Blues - 5-15-20


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: The Animals

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features British r&b band The Animals. Enjoy!

The Animals - Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

“The fall of Empire, gentlemen, is a massive thing, however, and not easily fought. It is dictated by a rising bureaucracy, a receding initiative, a freezing of caste, a damming of curiosity—a hundred other factors. It has been going on, as I have said, for centuries, and it is too majestic and massive a movement to stop.”

-- Isaac Asimov

News and Opinion

New Documents From the Sham Prosecution of Gen. Michael Flynn Also Reveal Broad Corruption in the Russiagate Investigations

... But the prosecution of Flynn — for allegedly lying to the FBI when he denied in a January 24 interrogation that he had discussed with Kislyak on December 29 the new sanctions and expulsions imposed on Russia by the Obama administration — was always odd for a number of reasons. To begin with, the FBI agents who questioned Flynn said afterward that they did not believe he was lying (as CNN reported in February, 2017: “the FBI interviewers believed Flynn was cooperative and provided truthful answers. Although Flynn didn’t remember all of what he talked about, they don’t believe he was intentionally misleading them, the officials say”). For that reason, CNN said, “the FBI is not expected to pursue any charges against” him.

More importantly, there was no valid reason for the FBI to have interrogated Flynn about his conversations with Kislyak in the first place. There is nothing remotely untoward or unusual — let alone criminal — about an incoming senior national security official, three weeks away from taking over, reaching out to a counterpart in a foreign government to try to tamp down tensions. As the Washington Post put it, “it would not be uncommon for incoming administrations to interface with foreign governments with whom they will soon have to work.”

What newly released documents over the last month reveal is what has been generally evident for the last three years: the powers of the security state agencies — particularly the FBI, the CIA, the NSA and the DOJ — were systematically abused as part of the 2016 election and then afterward for political rather than legal ends. While there was obviously deceit and corruption on the part of some Trump officials in lying to Russiagate investigators and otherwise engaging in depressingly common DC lobbyist corruption, there was also massive corruption on the part of the investigators themselves, exploiting and abusing their vast and invasive investigative and prosecutorial powers for ideological goals, political subterfuge, election manipulation and personal vendettas. The former category (corruption by Trump officials) has received a tidal wave of endless media attention, while the latter (corruption and abuse of power by those investigating them) has received almost none.

For numerous reasons, it is vital to fully examine with as much clarity as possible the abuse of power that drove the prosecution of Gen. Flynn. To begin with, cable and other news outlets that employed former Obama-era intelligence operatives, generals and prosecutors to disseminate every Russiagate conspiracy theory they could find — virtually always without any dissent or even questioning — have barely acknowledged these explosive new documents. More disturbingly, liberals and Democrats — as part of their movement toward venerating these security state agencies — have completely jettisoned long-standing, core principles about the criminal justice system, including questioning whether lying to the FBI should be a crime at all and recognizing that innocent people are often forced to plead guilty — in order to justify both the Flynn prosecution and the broader Mueller probe.

But the most critical reason to delve deeply into this case is that it reveals one the most dangerous abuses of power a democracy can suffer: the powers of the CIA, FBI and NSA were blatantly and repeatedly abused to manipulate election outcomes and achieve political advantage. In other words, we know now that these agencies did exactly what Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer warned they would do to Trump when he appeared on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC program shortly before Trump’s inauguration:

This is what The Guardian apparently thinks is hard news these days. This was not in the opinion section. If you want to see media bias under the guise of media criticism in action, give this one a full read.

'Obamagate': Fox News focuses on conspiracy theory rather than Covid-19

On his primetime show on Wednesday night, the Fox News host Sean Hannity addressed a federal judge who has put a hold on a justice department attempt to drop its case against the former Trump aide Michael Flynn. “You reek of ignorance,” he said. “You reek of political bias.”

Hannity might have been aware of the irony at play. In recent days, the US president’s favourite network has elevated the spurious “Obamagate” scandal over all other subjects, most obviously the deaths of more than 84,000 Americans in a pandemic which the Trump administration has failed to contain.

According to research compiled by the Internet Archive, analysed by GDELT and released on Wednesday, since last week Fox News and Fox Business have mentioned Flynn, the FBI and Obama far more often than the coronavirus. Nor has such coverage just been pursued by opinion hosts like Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson. Hosts of supposedly straight news content have happily followed suit.

Critics and other media outlets have been quick to call out the supposed scandal, which the former Obama adviser David Plouffe called a “sideshow to distract from the shitshow”.

But Trump and his supporters at Fox and in Congress are firing on all cylinders. They are seeking to turn Flynn’s plight – fired as national security adviser for lying to the vice-president, pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with a Russian ambassador who was a target of an investigation into election interference – into a scandal to ensnare Barack Obama and Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee in November.

To do this, they are portraying “unmasking” – a routine intelligence process by which American citizens speaking to surveilled foreign nationals are identified by official request – as part of a sinister plot meant to kill Trump’s presidency in its cradle.

Never mind that if such a sinister plot was mounted, it evidently didn’t work. ...

Aaron Mate on New #Russiagate Bombshells, Plus More From the Stupid Bay of Pigs | Useful Idiots

Reviving Emoluments Case, Federal Court Says Trump's Legal Objections 'Gravely Offend Separation of Powers'

A federal court on Thursday ruled against President Donald Trump, rejecting the administration's effort to stop a lawsuit that accused him of violating the Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution.

The case was brought forth by the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia and focused on Trump's Washington, D.C. hotel. From NPR:

Officials from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other countries have collectively spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at the hotel, just a few blocks from the White House. The lawsuit's plaintiffs say those profits are funneled directly to Trump's business coffers.

"We recognize that the president is no ordinary petitioner, and we accord him great deference as the head of the Executive branch," Judge Diana Gribbon Motz of 4th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote for the majority. "But Congress and the Supreme Court have severely limited our ability to grant the extraordinary relief the president seeks."

The president's claim that requests for records constitute "intrusive discovery" is "puzzling," wrote Motz.

"The president has not explained, nor do we see, how requests pertaining to spending at a private restaurant and hotel threaten any Executive Branch prerogative," she wrote, adding that "the notion that the president is vested with unreviewable power to both execute and interpret the law is foreign to our system of government."

"Allowing the president to be the final arbiter of both the interpretation and enforcement of the law—as the dissents would—would gravely offend separation of powers," Motz wrote.

The Associated Press gave this background on the legal challenge:

U.S. District Judge Peter Messitte refused to dismiss the lawsuit, but his ruling was overturned in July by a three-judge panel of the Richmond-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The judges found that the two jurisdictions lack standing to pursue their claims against the president.

But on Thursday, the panel's ruling was overturned by the full court of 15 judges. In a 9-6 ruling, a divided court found that the three-judge panel overstepped its authority when it ordered Messitte to dismiss the lawsuit.

The case may now end up at the Supreme Court. As CNN reported:

The D.C. and Maryland case against the Trump International Hotel has been a long-running but serious challenge to the businessman president, and is likely to position the Supreme Court to interpret a key constitutional anti-corruption clause that has rarely if ever been taken to court.

The new ruling was welcomed by government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

"We thank and applaud the judges of the Fourth Circuit for their decision today," said CREW executive director Noah Bookbinder. "We should never have arrived at a point where states had to fight in federal court to compel the president to follow the Constitution. Nevertheless, President Trump has left no choice, bringing us to this historic day for the Constitution."

"Americans deserve an ethical government under the rule of law," he continued. "President Trump should finally do the right thing and end the harms caused by his unconstitutional conduct. Now is the time to divest from his businesses and stop violating the Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution."

If that doesn't happen, Bookbinder says he'll work with the state authorities to "move this case forward to victory."

Such a brain trust we have running the country. It should make every 'merkin proud.

'150,000 Americans Sacrificed for the Stock Market': Kushner Reportedly Advised Less Covid-19 Testing to Calm Wall Street

President Donald Trump's son-in-law and special advisor Jared Kushner reportedly urged his father-in-law in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic not to prioritize testing or ordering potentially life-saving equipment like ventilators because of fears it might drive down stock prices.

Kushner's efforts to convince the president not to take decisive action were first reported in the Financial Times:

"Jared [Kushner] had been arguing that testing too many people, or ordering too many ventilators, would spook the markets and so we just shouldn't do it," says a Trump confidant who speaks to the president frequently. "That advice worked far more powerfully on him than what the scientists were saying. He thinks they always exaggerate."

"And there you have it," tweeted strategist Mark Elliott. "150,000 Americans sacrificed for the stock market."

GQ's Luke Darby pointed out Thursday that the advised ploy didn't even work.

"Kushner's advice did nothing to prevent a market crash," wrote Darby, "and it's likely that the administration's refusal to act in time only threw the economy into more chaos."

"And while the stock market largely affects the investment portfolios of the rich (the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans own more than 80 percent of stocks)," he added, "the fallout has the rest of the country reeling, with a historic 36 million people filing unemployment claims."

The president's obsession with the economy is tied to his re-election hopes, according to the Financial Times reporting:

In the meantime, Trump will probably continue to dangle the prospect of miracle cures. Every week since the start of the outbreak, he has said a vaccine is just around the corner. His latest estimate is that it will be ready by July. Scientists say it will take a year at best to produce an inoculation. Most say 18 months would be lucky. Even that would break all records. The previous fastest development was four years for mumps in the 1960s.

On Thursday, Trump appeared to suggest to reporters at the White House that testing was itself the source of the problem.

"If we didn't do any testing we would have very few cases," the president said.

Biden Can’t Return Things To Normal, Because Trump Is A Normal US President. That’s The Problem.

Donald Trump is a normal US president.

To be clear, this is not a good thing. Trump has kept the bloodthirsty imperialism, corporate cronyism, Orwellian oppression, neoliberal exploitation and police militarization that holds the US empire together ticking along in basically the same way as his predecessors, in some ways more egregiously and in some ways less so. For all the evils he’s helped inflict on our world he still hasn’t done anything as bad as the two wars Bush launched during his first term, or arguably even Obama’s destruction of Libya and attempted destruction of Syria during his.

Trump hasn’t even matched Obama’s deportation numbers, but he has imprisoned Julian Assange, re-started the Cold War, killed tens of thousands of Venezuelans with starvation sanctions, vetoed attempts to save Yemen from US-backed genocide, is working to foment civil war in Iran using starvation sanctions and CIA ops with the stated goal of effecting regime change, occupied Syrian oil fields with the goal of preventing Syria’s reconstruction, greatly increased the number of troops in the Middle East and elsewhere, greatly increased the number of bombs dropped per day from the previous administration, killing record numbers of civilians, and reduced military accountability for those airstrikes. To name just a few of the ways Trump has continued and expanded upon the depravity of his predecessors just as they did theirs.

Trump is a very normal president, the media just yell about this president a lot more than usual because he puts an ugly face on the horrific normal that was already there. Sure he makes rude tweets and says dumb things and has made a mess of the pandemic response, but by and large when you strip away the narrative overlay Trump has been a reliable establishment lapdog advancing more or less all the same status quo imperialist and oligarchic agendas as the presidents who came before him. There are just a lot of establishment loyalists with a vested interest in spinning the ugliness his oafishness is exposing as caused by and unique to him.

So when they say “Biden 2020, for a return to normal”, all they’re really saying is “Biden 2020, for a depravity you can sleep through”.

“Biden 2020, for a return to normal. We can’t say exactly what ‘normal’ is; it will still definitely involve military expansionism, mass murder, ecocide, omnicidal cold war escalations, crushing austerity and economic, social and racial injustice. But by golly, it’ll feel normal.”

“Biden 2020, for a return to normal. Nothing will fundamentally change, but the media will stop screaming in your face all the time about how freakishly abnormal this particular presidency is.”

“Biden 2020, for a return to normal. No, not a return to sanity, peace, prosperity, democracy and equanimity in America; America never had those things, so there’s no returning to them. We just mean we’ll return to making it easier for you not to think about that.”

“Biden 2020, for a return to normal. To when you were able to sleep comfortably through the violence, insanity and depraved psychopathy of the status quo instead of having it unpleasantly drawn to your attention by rude tweets.”

“Biden 2020, for a return to normal. A return to the days where a competent president makes important decisions in accordance with the will of the electorate. That’s right, a return to a fictional fantasy land where you can live in your imagination.”

“Biden 2020, for a return to normal. A return to the days when you could happily pretend that freakish, murderous madness spanning the entire planet is normal.”

“Biden or Trump 2020, for a return to normal. Because ‘normal’ never bloody left.”

Trump is normal. Trump is normal. Trump. Is. Normal. Trump is the thing that normal is.

And that’s precisely the problem.

It isn’t Trump’s abnormality that makes him truly heinous, it’s his normality. It’s his perpetuation of a status quo which is brutal, corrupt, and utterly fascistic. And which got there long before he did.

This is what your government is, America. This is what it’s always been. If you don’t like what you’re seeing, don’t just try to put a nicer mask on it so you can go back to sleep. Change it. Change your normal. Create a new normal.

Trump is everything America is. As one reader recently put it, “Trump didn’t make things the way they are, he is the personification of the situation. If the United States was a suit, then it was tailor made for Trump.”

Trump is normal. If you don’t like your normal, America, then push for real change, not cosmetic change. It’s not going to come from any president. It’s going to have to come from you.

Despite Progressive Objections, House Pushes HEROES Act Forward

House progressives on Friday fell short of defeating a procedural rule that sets the stage for a final vote on the HEROES Act, meaning the 1,815-page coronavirus relief bill that has been criticized as woefully inadequate is almost certain to pass later in the day.

Fourteen House Democrats—nine of which are members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus—voted against the procedural rule: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), Mark Pocan (Wis.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.), Ro Khanna (Calif.), Katie Porter (Calif.), Jesús García (Ill.), Conor Lamb (Penn.), Abigail Spanberger (Va.), Abby Finkenauer (Iowa), Cindy Axne (Iowa), and Haley Stevens (Mich.).

Following the procedural vote, Jayapal, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, vowed in a statement to vote against the HEROES Act itself.

"While this legislation has some good elements, it ultimately fails to match the scale of this crisis," said Jayapal. "I believe we can and must do better. This is urgent and the American people cannot wait. We must choose differently."

The Washington Democrat lamented that the sprawling legislation does not include a federal paycheck guarantee to stem mass layoffs or an expansion of Medicare to provide desperately needed health coverage to the millions of newly unemployed and uninsured.

"We are in the midst of a health pandemic that has already taken more than 86,000 lives, with tens of thousands more deaths projected," said Jayapal. "Now, more than ever, people need to know their access to healthcare is guaranteed."

Demanding 'Unprecedented' Action From Congress, Sanders Says HEROES Act Must Include Medicare Expansion and $2,000 Monthly Payments

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday highlighted the major shortcomings of House Democrats' newly introduced coronavirus stimulus legislation and said the final version of the bill must include $2,000 monthly payments to U.S. households, Medicare expansion, and a paycheck guarantee if Congress is to address the "most urgent needs facing working families right now."

"The Senate must improve this legislation," the Vermont senator said in a statement. "This unprecedented crisis demands an unprecedented legislative response."

While applauding several provisions of the HEROES Act, including hazard pay for frontline workers and emergency funding for the U.S. Postal Service, Sanders said the bill does not do enough to ensure economic security and healthcare coverage for ordinary people as tens of millions lose their jobs and insurance.

The HEROES Act proposes expanding federal subsidies for COBRA, an expensive healthcare program that allows laid-off workers to remain on their employer-provided health insurance plans.

Sanders said "instead of subsidizing COBRA—which would be a massive giveaway to the health insurance industry—I believe Medicare must be empowered to pay all of the healthcare bills of the uninsured and under-insured until this crisis is over."

House Democrats' bill proposes an additional round of one-time $1,200 stimulus payments, but Sanders said that is "not enough."

"The Senate must provide a $2,000 per month emergency payment for every American until this crisis is over," said the Vermont senator.

In place of the HEROES Act's proposed expansion of the Employee Retention Tax Credit—a convoluted reimbursement mechanism for employers—Sanders called for the inclusion of his more straightforward plan "to guarantee 100 percent of the paychecks of workers up to $90,000 a year" in order to stem ongoing mass layoffs.

"If we are to avoid another Great Depression, it is absolutely imperative that every worker in this country continues to receive a paycheck and benefits," said Sanders. "This is what is being done successfully in many European countries and what should be done here."

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, pushed to include her ambitious paycheck guarantee proposal in the bill but was rebuffed by House Democratic leaders who complained that the plan would be "too costly and too complicated."

The House is expected to vote on the HEROES Act as early as Friday. Jayapal and her fellow Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) on Tuesday demanded that the vote be delayed, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) rejected their call. ...

HuffPost reported that "late on Wednesday, CPC leaders went further, developing a plan to threaten to stop a vote on the bill if Democratic leaders don't improve paycheck protections and health care provisions, according to an aide to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), the CPC's whip."

"The caucus estimates that it needs 18 votes to defeat the rule teeing up the bill for a vote, which it might assemble by reaching out to allies in the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus," according to HuffPost.

'Monstrous Cruelty: As Hunger Soars, Trump USDA Resumes Effort to Take Nutrition Benefits From More Than a Million People

With hunger rising at an alarming rate across the U.S.—particularly among children—as the coronavirus crisis sends unemployment to levels not seen since the Great Depression, the Trump administration this week resumed its effort to strip nutrition benefits from more than a million people by appealing a court ruling that blocked the Agriculture Department from imposing more punitive work requirements.

After briefly backing off its push to implement the rule change last month, the USDA on Tuesday filed court documents appealing Judge Beryl Howell's stay of the administration's long-sought policy, which would limit states' ability to waive work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

While the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which President Donald Trump signed into law in March, suspended SNAP work requirements for the duration of the public health emergency, analysts have warned that the economic crisis and the need for nutrition assistance will persist long after Covid-19 is effectively contained.

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) ripped the USDA's appeal in a statement late Wednesday, saying that if Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and other Trump administration officials "had any decency or compassion, they would abandon this appeal immediately."

"Secretary Perdue and his officials at USDA continue to show their true colors when it comes to our nation's hungry," said Fudge. "The nation's unemployment percentage has seen its worst spike since the Great Depression. Jobless claims are up over 30 million. The lines at food banks have never been longer. And by any reputable account the worst is yet to come.

"The administration has decided that now—amid the most pervasive need in a century—is a great time to crack down on Americans who rely on food stamps to keep their families from going hungry," Fudge added.

By the Agriculture Department's own estimates, the rule change—which was finalized in December despite the flood of public comments opposing the policy—could strip nutrition assistance from around 700,000 people. Analysts say the actual number would likely be more than a million.

Wisconsin lockdown ruling is latest in partisan war

A conservative majority on the Wisconsin supreme court struck down a stay-at-home order from the state’s Democratic governor on Wednesday, further illustrating the remarkable amount of power Republicans have in the state and the way they have been able to curb the authority of their Democratic rivals.

The Wisconsin decision is the most significant legal victory for conservatives, egged on by Donald Trump, who are beginning to challenge stay-at-home orders across the country through protests and legal actions. Republican lawmakers in Michigan, where the legislature is extremely gerrymandered, are also challenging the legal authority of a similar order issued by the state’s Democratic governor there. Other suits from businesses challenging stay-at-home orders in other states have been largely unsuccessful, so far. ...

In Wisconsin, conservatives hold a 5-2 majority on the state supreme court, and all but one of the conservative justices voted to strike down the order on Wednesday, saying Tony Evers, the Democratic governor, didn’t follow proper procedure when he issued the order. Some businesses immediately opened after the ruling and some bars were flooded with patrons.

“Republican legislators have convinced four justices to throw our state into chaos,” Evers said in a statement.

Michigan forced to recognize right to literacy after students take legal action

A landmark battle over four years resulted Thursday in the state of Michigan agreeing to settle a lawsuit with Detroit students that aimed to improve school facilities and learning conditions. The settlement comes weeks after a federal appeals court issued a groundbreaking decision to recognize education and literacy as a constitutional right.

“This landmark court decision recognizes that every child in Michigan deserves an opportunity to obtain an education, which is essential to having a strong foundation in life and a brighter future,” the governor, Gretchen Whitmer, said in a press conference Thursday announcing the settlement. In a joint statement with the governor, the plaintiffs said the settlement “will help secure the right of access to literacy for students in Detroit who faced obstacles they never should have faced”.

It was brought by seven Detroit students who, in 2016, argued they were deprived access to literacy because of a lack of books, teachers and poor building conditions. The first alleged that the city’s public schools were in “slum-like conditions” and “functionally incapable of delivering access to literacy”. The suit was sent back to a federal judge in Detroit, after being rejected by the appeals court.

A US appeals court judge had previously dismissed the case in 2018, insisting the constitution doesn’t guarantee a fundamental right to literacy. But on 23 April, the appeals court said students at poor-performing, dilapidated Detroit schools are entitled to a basic minimum education.

Thanks, Bernie! Welcome to Stasiland.

Bernie Bails! Allows Warrantless FBI Spying On Americans

Developments as FBI probes Burr, Feinstein, Loeffler in stock scandal

Richard Burr steps down as Senate committee chair over FBI investigation

A Republican US senator stepped down from a key committee leadership role in Congress on Thursday after his phone was seized overnight by investigators with a warrant looking into allegations that he used private briefings as inside information to dump shares before the market plummeted over the coronavirus crisis.

Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina will “step aside” from his post as the chair of the Senate intelligence committee, the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, a fellow Republican of Kentucky, announced on Thursday afternoon. ...

Burr’s phone was seized by the FBI on Wednesday night, when investigators served him a warrant at his Washington home amid an ongoing investigation into whether he engaged in insider trading.

Burr previously denied he had kept the public in the dark about the scale of the threat of coronavirus and also denied insider trading, saying he was relying on publicly available information when he dumped stock as the pandemic hit the US.

Burr and his wife sold between around $628,000 and $1.7m in more than 30 separate transactions in late January and mid-February.

Krystal Ball: Russiagate BRAINWORMS re-emerge in Burr investigation

Jeff Bezos Could Be the World’s First Trillionaire

Jeff Bezos is on track to become the first person in the world with a net worth of a trillion dollars. And it turns out a lot of people aren’t thrilled with the prospect of the Amazon founder and CEO reaching yet another highwater mark for obscene wealth. The 56-year-olds’ current net worth is $142.8 billion, according to Forbes, which puts him nearly $40 billion ahead of Bill Gates at no. 2. But Bezos’ wealth could explode even further in the coming years, according to a study by the website Comparisun.

Bezos, who owns an 11% stake in Amazon, could hit the $1 trillion mark as early as 2026, according to Comparisun’s analysis. After Bezos, the most likely candidates to hit $1 trillion are Chinese real estate developer Xu Jiayin (2027) and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma (2030).

The study dates back to at least March but recently resurfaced as Amazon has continued to reap the benefits of nationwide coronavirus lockdowns. In the first quarter of this year, Amazon made $75 billion in revenue, a first-quarter record.

It didn’t take long for the idea that Bezos could be a trillionaire to strike a nerve online, especially as tens of millions have been forced out of work in recent months.

“If that doesn’t make you want to wash, season, deep fry, & eat the rich, you must not be hungry,” former Illinois congressional candidate Anthony Clark said in a tweet.

the horse race

Democracy At Stake: “Faithless Electors” SCOTUS Case Tests If Electoral College Members Can Go Rogue

“Can Democracy Survive the Pandemic?”: Election Hangs in the Balance as Trump Attacks Mail-In Voting

Bernie Sanders Hates That His Staff Launched a Super PAC, So They're Changing the Name

When a bunch of Bernie staffers formed a super PAC name-checking his old slogan “Future to Believe In,” he was none too pleased given his well-known hatred of groups that skirt campaign finance limits. So, they changed the name. The group will now be known as America’s Promise PAC. The change was filed with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday.

“We wanted to be as clear as possible that there is no association between the PAC and the senator,” super PAC head and Sanders adviser Jeff Weaver told VICE News. Weaver launched the group in late April with a number of other Sanders alumni shortly after Sanders dropped out of the presidential race and endorsed Joe Biden. Their stated goal: To help elect Joe Biden to the presidency while pushing his policies to the left. ...

"The senator was informed about the creation of the super PAC before the paperwork was filed, and he was not happy about it,” Sanders political spokesman Mike Casca told VICE News. Numerous other Sanders staff used more colorful language to describe Sanders’ reaction to the group.

“He didn’t authorize it, he doesn’t like Super PACs and doesn’t want it to exist,” said one senior former Sanders staffer familiar with Sanders’ feelings about the group. “Bernie’s pissed off,” said another.

Bad News for Biden as New Battleground States Poll Shows Trump Could Lose Popular Vote But Win White House—Again

New polling from CNN shows the Democratic Party's presumptive 2020 presidential nominee Joe Biden trailing President Donald Trump in crucial battleground states even as the former vice president continues to lead nationally—portending an ominous repeat of 2016.

"I hope everyone understands that Trump could lose the popular vote by an even bigger margin in November and still pull off the same narrow electoral college win," tweeted Vox writer David Roberts. "In fact, that seems the most likely outcome."

Roberts added that he was "really getting 'reliving the exact same nightmare all over again' vibes lately."

The poll results, which were released Wednesday, show Biden with a 51% to 46% voter preference lead over Trump nationally. But in 15 battleground states, Trump averages 52% over Biden's 45%.

the evening greens

Democrats target diseases spread by wildlife in $3T coronavirus bill

The new coronavirus rescue package from House Democrats would dedicate funding to track diseases that spread to humans through wildlife, an effort to prevent any future pandemics similar to COVID-19. The coronavirus originated from a group of viruses carried by bats, but researchers have yet to pinpoint how it jumped to humans.

The Heroes Act, Democrats’ $3 trillion relief bill unveiled Tuesday, would dedicate $111 million to track species “that could pose a biohazard risk to human health,” blocking their import to the U.S. and increasing penalties for those who seek to trade them.

But some wildlife experts said those steps would fall well short of what could be a herculean task: Seventy-five percent of emerging infectious diseases in humans come from animals, the vast majority coming from wildlife. Complicating matters is the fact that the U.S. is one of the top importers of animals, bringing in at least 200 million live animals each year.

Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said the federal government likely doesn’t have the capacity to review the potential for dangerous disease across hundreds of thousands of animal species. He also doubts scientists will be able to detect which diseases pose a risk to human transmission before it’s too late.

“It presumes a level of knowledge of the natural world we don't have and never will have and that this current pandemic illustrated,” he said. “There's no way to know until after the fact when the horse has already left the barn that something was bad.”

Microsoft, Visa and others worth combined $11.5 trillion want Congress to include climate in COVID-19 recovery plan

Chief executives and other representatives from more than 330 businesses, including Capital One, General Mills, Microsoft, Nike, Salesforce, Visa and more are calling on bipartisan federal lawmakers to build back a better economy from COVID-19 by infusing resilient climate solutions. ...

House Democrats unveiled their opening bid Tuesday in the next debate on Capitol Hill over how to fight the coronavirus and revive the economy. The sweeping bill, projected to cost a little over $3 trillion, was set to be voted on at the end of the week. ...

The businesses behind the pledge want Congress to work toward putting Americans into clean-energy jobs, as well as foster an accelerated transition to a net-zero emissions economy by 2050 or sooner and provide more investment in sustainable infrastructure. The business leaders also urge Congress to consider a goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 and setting a carbon price. Setting a market-based carbon price remains a policy sticking point in a divided quest for a solution to man-made accelerating climate change, although has been increasingly, if slowly, adopted.

Some economists believe that raising the cost of burning coal, oil and gas can be a cost-effective way to curb emissions. But countries using the practice have found it politically difficult to set prices that are high enough to spur truly deep reductions in emissions.

London Joining Global Trend of Car-Free Streets to Cut Pollution, Fight Covid-19

Following in the footsteps of leaders in Milan and New York City who are heeding global calls to #BuildBackBetter from the coronavirus pandemic, London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Friday unveiled plans to create "one of the largest car-free zones in any capital city in the world" to improve local air quality and encourage more walking and cycling.

"This is genuinely exciting," London-based author and physicist Helen Czerski tweeted of the plans. "Yes, of course, it will be disruptive (and like any change, there will be both winners and loser at the start). But it could also make London a far more human place and a new sort of city, with huge health benefits for everyone." ...

Khan announced the upcoming transformation of central London streets—intended to help promote social distancing—in a joint statement with Transport for London (TfL). The government body will release more details in the weeks ahead, but the statement said roads between London Bridge and Shoreditch, Euston and Waterloo, and Old Street and Holborn may soon be limited to buses, pedestrians, and cyclists.

Beginning Monday, the city will also reintroduce fee schemes for drivers that aim to cut pollution and help tackle the climate emergency: the low emission zone, the ultra low emission zone, and the congestion charge—the last of which may temporarily increase next month.

Khan has made tackling London's polluted air a top priority since taking office in 2016. The Labour Party member released figures last month showing how air quality in the U.K. capital has "dramatically improved" in the wake of both anti-pollution measures introduced in 2017 and the city's pandemic-related lockdown.

Also of Interest

Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.

Federal Whistleblower Rick Bright Tells Congress How Trump Officials Bungled Coronavirus Preparations

Cuomo is letting billionaires plan New York's future. It doesn't have to be this way

As Another Perjury Trap is Exposed the FBI’s Case Against Trump Collapses

NYT Falsely Blames Russia For Cyberattack Committed By British Hacker

US Jobless Rate Broke Depression-Era Record—but Most Media Missed It

Reopening Isn’t Reopening—It’s Cutting Off Unemployment

Evidence Suggests U.S. Financial Crisis Started on August 14, 2019

Steny Hoyer challenger blasts Dems for Tara Reade response

David Sirota: Here's why I'm so hard on establishment Democrats

Biden says if you believe Tara Reade, don't vote for me

Krystal and Saagar: Clapper's camera goes BLACK on CNN when asked about Obamagate

Krystal and Saagar React: China threatens SANCTIONS on U.S. lawmakers, heating up economic warfare

Beer today, gone tomorrow: Australian brewers tip 7.8m pints down the drain

A Little Night Music

The Animals - Boom Boom

The Animals - We Gotta Get Out Of This Place

The Animals - Around And Around

The Animals - Bring It On Home To Me

The Animals - It's My Life

The Animals - Shake

The Animals - House of the Rising Sun

The Animals - Lucille

The Animals - Animalism Sessions 1967

17 users have voted.


Benny's picture

I always enjoyed this song by this Animals alum.

Anyone been watching Mrs. America mini-series on Hulu or FX? I think the actresses picked for leading roles are quite catching and work well together. The show's premise though is that Schlafly was a feminist in her own right. I'm not certain I buy that, but she certainly was the forerunner of the Reagan Revolution, definitely an activist.

4 users have voted.

One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will. To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.--Tennyson

joe shikspack's picture


heh, thanks for the tune, i haven't listened to that one in a while. it's good to hear it again.

have a great weekend!

3 users have voted.

5 users have voted.

On to Biden since 1973

joe shikspack's picture

4 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

And Happy Friday.
I thought this was funny:

Of course you know, joe, that every time you post somebody's cover of this one
I have to post the all-time best version ever.

I've had this earworm all afternoon, don't know how I got it. Have a great weekend.

10 users have voted.

We wanted decent healthcare, a living wage and free college.
The Democrats gave us Biden and war instead.

joe shikspack's picture


thanks for the vids! heh, it's good to see jimmy relax and make jokes again. he's dead on, though, that they'd have to pay people to watch hillary and tom perez have a conversation. i guess it's a dubious benefit for them that it's online so nobody can see a mostly-empty convention center.

5 users have voted.
Lookout's picture

Thanks for the news and the blues.

The oligarchs play the music to which we dance. Too bad we can't hear our own tunes.

Been thinking about the incredible con that we've been fed. Sadly we seem to have lost our ability to think for ourselves. Perhaps we never had it?

Anyway, happy for my life and wishing others have a good situation. All the best to all of you!

We often play the house of the rising sun. Been missing our weekly gatherings.
Sometimes adding amazing this version.

Have a great weekend!

12 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

@Lookout thank you.

7 users have voted.


Lookout's picture


it is fun to play and sing that way.

6 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

ggersh's picture


7 users have voted.

“Those who choose the lesser evil forget very quickly that they chose evil.”
— Hannah Arendt

Azazello's picture

2 users have voted.

We wanted decent healthcare, a living wage and free college.
The Democrats gave us Biden and war instead.

joe shikspack's picture


i don't think that we've lost the ability to think for ourselves, though many of us don't use the gift well and don't trouble themselves to think beyond the memes that they are fed by the oligarch media.

heh, speaking of the oligarchs calling the tune, here's an old robbie burns song for ya...

2 users have voted.

I ---- --- Jared Kushner and wish him - ---- --- ------- -----, as well as the Wall Streeters that didn't call him out on his murderous plan for We, the Poor People.
You know how hard it is to tell an elected official or some candidate to go ---- themselves?
Not hard at all. The worst thing that happened to me was a cop grabbed me by the arm and said, "Let's go." He escorted me from the room, said for me to leave.
Last year, that cop died. I was hired by his wife to probate his will, even showed up at "the viewing".
Those Wall Streeters would have NEVER had a hand laid on them if they had told Jared to go ---- -------. They were in accord.
While I do laundry and wash dishes, Greenwald will be playing in the background.
Thanks, js.

12 users have voted.
Shahryar's picture

@on the cusp

not too hard to fill in the blanks!

6 users have voted.

@Shahryar I do try for a modicum of civility.
I think I just posted another comment that dropped all pretenses.
S--- happens!

5 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@on the cusp

heh, if you get a chance to get close enough to tell jared to go ---- himself, send my best regards as well. Smile

have a great weekend!

6 users have voted.

@joe shikspack Lol!

3 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Good lord can you sink any lower?

Guess Bernie didn’t see that Pelosi did pass the COBRA bill as well as the one bailing out the payday loan dudes and so much more shit that shows how evil she is. Jimmy said that she is no different than any Nazi because of how many people have been killed after she gave her permission to kill them.

I asked him why he keeps coming on Twitter and telling us that "we must do this" when WE have no power to do ANYTHING? I’m getting ready to block him because he’s full of crap because he has not once stood up and blocked bills that were bad during this latest heist. I did just block a lot of organizations that tell people that Bernie is still on the ballot and people should vote for him. I don’t get it. After everything he has done since he dropped out just kisses the ring of the same people who screwed him. And not showing up for the spy bill yet is just as unforgivable as the democrats who voted against the amendment. This also shows that any republicans who now bitch about the FBI’s spying on Trump are hypocrites. It’s not okay for them to spy on a powerful person, but it is okay to spy on us? Blehh!

14 users have voted.

It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

joe shikspack's picture


it is pretty awful watching bernie humiliate himself so thoroughly. i've been largely trying to avoid paying attention to him, because i know that just about everyhing that he says from now until at least november is just going to piss me off. since i still read the news, though, i guess i am doomed to listening to his wretched drivel more than i'd like.

8 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Smiley posted it in one of this week’s OT and boy does it make a lot of sense.

BTW folks if you missed the video I posted of the sports reporter and his dawgs you should watch it. I laughed so hard and then realized how much the bullshit from congress had gotten to me and it was a way to release the pressure or something I’ve been holding in. So do yourself a favor and watch it.

7 users have voted.

It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

Granma's picture

The navy ship in port in Guam has been returning recovered sailors to the ship. 5 of them have tested positive for Covid 19 again after recovering and returning to the ship. They had tested negative twice a couple of days apart before being declared recovered. A total of 4,800 sailors had been removed from ship to recover from Covid. Worth noting, these sailors are mostly young and were previously healthy.

I personally now doubt there is such a thing as immunity to Covid. More's the pity.

Edit for clarity

10 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


well, if being young, fit and otherwise healthy doesn't help maintain an immunity, it looks like this is going to be an ugly time until a vaccine can be formulated.

pretty sad news.

5 users have voted.

@Granma (they are reporting and tracking all of them), but the opinion of the S. Korean doctors is that it's a reactivation and not reinfection and that these people aren't infectious.

3 users have voted.

He stresses the plea bargains of the extremely pressured innocents.
98% of all criminal cases in Texas resolve by plea bargain.
While there is tons of pressure brought by the is true that prosecutors want a win. They are elected to office. Spectacular jury "not guilty" verdicts are to be avoided.
What Greenwald doesn't mention is the tiny leverage a defense attorney might have. The willingness and ability to take a case to trial. I could list 2 dozen local defense attorneys who would not know how to do that. They get routinely crappy plea bargains.
The other thing Greenwald doesn't mention is that even at the state level, making provably false statements to a cop can, in very exceptional cases, be a crime. Usually a misdemeanor. It is more along the lines of making a false report to get someone arrested.
What wasn't mentioned is that the FBI has no obligation to tell you that you have a right to remain silent, that anything you say can and will be used against you, that you have the right to have an attorney present. State cops must indicate you are being questioned and not free to leave.
The FBI does not.
As my sweetheart lady that I sort of helped raise from age 15, and who worked for the FBI 3 years says, "If they want you, they will get you."

7 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@on the cusp

perhaps greenwald did not mention the litigator's leverage because it is so infrequently used and so fraught with peril for the defendant. a local tradition in baltimore city at least always seemed to be penalizing those who declined plea deals by throwing the book at them and seeing to it that they got much longer jail terms than the plea deal called for. ymmv.

quibbles aside, i'm glad that greenwald is putting this stuff out there.

6 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture


The following article

Despite Progressive Objections, House Pushes HEROES Act Forward

repeatedly referenced a procedural rule that sets the stage ... but somehow cannot bring itself to bother telling the readers even the broad basic gist of the rule in question. IF they are still operating under "unanimous consent", any Dem can stop HEROES, and single one of them, so maybe somebody should put up or shut up.

eb well and have a good one.

7 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

heh, as i understand it, the house is still operating under unanimous consent, so theoretically any "progressive" could object and force a roll call vote.

i suspect that the specious heresy "heroes act" would still pass - after all what congressworm could resist voting to tip his lobbyists that write legislation for them?

oh well, have a great weekend!

3 users have voted.
Unabashed Liberal's picture

sitting out the vote--read other day that '6' Dem Senators didn't even bother to return to D.C. for the current Session.

Also, '1' Repub Senator 'called in'--that is, before, Repub Lamar Alexander & several others skedaddled out of town, following a positive reading of one of his staffers.

Personally, don't care if they all decide they can't be bothered to do their jobs--so long as they forfeit their bloated and mostly undeserved salaries. IMO, they're basically just figureheads (with staffers doing all the real work), and are there only to serve the 1 Percent.

Chuckled when I saw this piece--Purell is being sued for not curing COVID-19!!!

(kidding, but, almost as bad)

From Bloomberg Law,

Coronavirus Outbreak

Purell’s Claim to Combat Disease Spurs Demand -- and Lawsuits
May 15, 2020, 6:00 AM

Hand sanitizer sales surge as states begin to ease lockdowns
Consumers sue over claims gel can prevent viral infections

Gojo (Industries) said the complaints pending against it are without merit. Three other suits against the company were withdrawn without explanation.

The suits follow a warning letter to Gojo from the Food and Drug Administration on Jan. 17, days before the first coronavirus infection in the U.S. was announced. The letter faulted the company for saying on its websites that Purell is effective in preventing infection by Ebola, MRSA, norovirus, flu, the fungus Candida auris and VRE, a drug-resistant bacterium. The FDA also said Gojo made unsupported assertions that Purell can reduce student and teacher absenteeism due to contagious illnesses.

Read Yves' piece--UE insurance could be denied for decades if a person rejects employment (in most states). The exception that I was told, the only time I was eligible for it, many decades ago--an individual can't be forced to take a position that pays less than the one previously held (or, a lot less, don't remember which). Most likely, Red States will have the wording (in UE law) which prevents folks from being able to use 'fear of contracting COVID' as a valid reason for rejecting a job offer--unless, they're in one of the high risk groups--over 60, or elderly, and/or,medically compromised/comorbidity. Some folks in Blue states may be a bit more fortunate. Time will tell, I suppose.

Like BR at Photography Thread--waiting for Pizza (contactless) delivery--yeah! Biggrin Loved Jet's Pizza (they mysteriously shut down, almost overnight); then, found Marco's Pizza. Some of best we've ever had from a chain/franchise joint. Yum!

[Edited: Corrected typo - 'fear' not 'ear']

Hope Everyone has a safe and delightful weekend.

Take care, and be well.

Bye Pleasantry


“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive.”
~~Gilda Radner, Comedienne

5 users have voted.

Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.

joe shikspack's picture

@Unabashed Liberal

heh, yeah, the congressworms may as well stay home - their actions are pretty useless to the general public.

i think that the rules on ue vary widely from state to state (just like the payouts), so i don't know how easy it will be for red states to kick people off for rejecting a job under a variety of circumstances.

i think that there are osha regulations that say employees can't be forced to perform work in the face of imminent danger. so maybe people in red states will have to accept the employment and then claim their rights under osha.

4 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture


I would not bet against your prognosis, but I believe there remains an almost even chance that the truth and some measure of justice will emerge.

The next few months will tell. I think Barr is serious and will give Durham his head, IF the president does not chicken out as he has in the past. (What, for example, ever happened to those eight criminal referrals that Congressman Nunes had ready to send to DOJ 13 months ago?) Still, the situation is not yet hopeless.


Durham and Barr have been scurrying the world for evidence into the creation of the Russia Gate saga and Durham has subpoenae power that Horowitz did not have so maybe there is a slight chance that some people will be charged. Of course it won’t be Obama or Hillary, but I’d settle for Brennan and Clapper. But then they both got away with lying to Congress. Brennan more than once.

9 users have voted.

It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

joe shikspack's picture


ray is a hopeful guy. i am far more cynical than he is about the prospect of a deep state jackass facing legal accountability for their criminality.

7 users have voted.
Shahryar's picture

Hilton Valentine is a facebook friend of mine!

Anyway...I believe Tara Reade so that puts me in a funny situation....Joe.

6 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


i think that the animals are underrated by the public amongst their contemporaries, perhaps if the group had lasted longer, they might be better known now.

heh, tara reade has never lied on the record before, on the other hand, joe biden, um, seems to have done so many times. if it's down to credibility, too bad, joe.

7 users have voted.
GreatLakeSailor's picture

The Koch Kourt (WI Supreme Court) striking of the gubbnah's "safer at home" order was followed in my county by:
"Kenosha County, city leaders jointly support local order until May 26"
then the same day:
"Kenosha County withdraws local order on Safer-at-Home"

And with that my local watering hole opened and was full of people - but not me.

My guess is this is gonna go sideways.

5 users have voted.

Compensated Spokes Model for Big Poor.

joe shikspack's picture


it's great to hear that your fellow wisconsinites/cheeseheads are now liberated to drink and drive die.

i'm delighted to hear that you are going to stay among us. stay safe!

6 users have voted.