Indivisible Upper Yellowstone – Weekly Journal
The Week of Saturday, August 29 through Friday, September 4, 2020 [Vol.2 No.7]
‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’
The Week’s Most Notable
The credibility of Trump’s disdain for the military. As a man who avoided service during the Vietnam War on the strength of five deferments (one medical, four college), Trump has said and done many things over the years that make him unpopular with the military, or more specifically the officer corps. The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg has tied together all of the bits and pieces, anecdotes and observations, from many incidents and many people that make it clear the Commander-In-Chief does not understand military service or service to the country. While some items of evidence have been challenged (“fake news”), it doesn’t seem to matter – Trump’s antipathy for the military and his inability to understand why people do things that don’t make them rich, famous, or powerful – are credible. However, as usual, even this will probably not shift voter opinion appreciably – except – potentially except – among the millions of military service people, their families, their friends, and people associated with them. That is the cause of what appears to be a real panic in Trump’s campaign and its desire to move beyond this as quickly as possible.
Saturday, August 29
[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases – 6,124,984; Deaths – 186,829 [25,000,000 cases worldwide]
[National Security] ODNI to End In-person Congressional Briefings – In a blatant pro-Trump maneuver, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced there will be no more verbal briefings to Congress – which means congressional committees will not have the opportunity to question Director John Ratcliffe or other ODNI officials. The briefings will be in written form only. The blanket move was “justified” by alleging congressional leaks of sensitive information.
[Racism – Protest] Portland Protest: One Shot and Killed – This apparent murder of a right-wing Patriot Prayer member by someone from Antifa lingered as an open issue for most of the week. The initial cause was a clash between a caravan of armed right-wing militia groups and BLM protesters. The incident was fodder for media coverage, especially right-wing media. [Update: The purported perpetrator was shot and killed near Olympia, WA on Thursday during an arrest attempt.]
Sunday, August 30
[Coronavirus] FDA Head Might Okay Early COVID-19 Vaccine – Causing an immediate furor, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said he is willing to issue an emergency authorization for a vaccine that had not completed human trials. This is considered unethical and dangerous by most health officials, and while Hahn maintained there would be no political influence, it is difficult to not see this happening conveniently just before the election.
[Belarus – Protest] Huge Crowds Again Assemble to Protest Lukashenko Regime – As Putin begins to fulminate about possible intervention in Belarus, the crowds continue to protest and call for Lukashenko’s resignation. So far, there has been no comment from the White House.
[Mueller Investigation] DOJ Secretly Limited Investigation of Trump’s Russia Ties – According to The New York Times, a very significant decision was taken by then Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to preclude an investigation into Trump’s personal ties, especially financial, with Russia. The upshot of several later inquiries indicates that due to Rosenstein’s actions, miscommunication among agencies, and the attitude of the Trump administration, no investigation was conducted into counterintelligence of either Trump or his campaign. Fertile ground for future inquiry.
Monday, August 31
[Flynn Case] Appeals Court Denies DOJ Request to End Flynn Case – The saga continues: In an 8-2 en banc decision the D. C. Circuit Court of Appeals restored the power of the original judge, Emmet Sullivan, to determine the future of the case. He will likely resume the arguments provided by an independent lawyer. The case is now likely to continue beyond the election. Although legal consensus is that he will concede to DOJ demands and close the case, he will do so without prejudice, which means it could be opened again at a later time.
[McGahn Case] D. C. Federal Appeals Court Dismisses House Lawsuit Against McGahn – As expected, the three-judge panel ruled 2-1 to reject the House subpoena. This decision now goes to the full court (en banc), which is expected to follow its previous ruling and overrule the three-judge panel. Since the Supreme Court has already cleared the House’s right to subpoena, it’s likely the full court ruling will stand. Timeline: conclusion sometime in first quarter 2021.
[Coronavirus] COVID-19 Cases Involving Children are More Numerous and Serious – A rise from 5% to 9% of the nation’s coronavirus cases now involve children. Moreover, the number of these cases suffering serious complications has also risen. Bottom line: It’s now apparent that while children are not as affected as adults, they are by no means immune.
[Elections 2020] Biden and Trump Square off on Protests and Violence – While Biden strenuously denounces looting and other forms of street violence, he also recognizes that grievances fostered by social injustice and police brutality must be addressed. Trump takes the position that violence is widespread across all cities of the United States and that we are descending into a pit of lawlessness, which only he can curb. Stark differences based on fundamentally different views of human nature. Biden called Trump “a toxic presence.” Trump defended the teenage shooter at Kenosha who shot three people, killing two.
[Environment] EPA Relaxes Standards on Lead, Selenium, Arsenic, and Other Toxins from Power Plants – In a move that will save many old coal-fired power-plants tens of millions of dollars, the relaxed regulations will allow considerably more dumping of lethal metallic toxins into public waterways.
Tuesday, September 1
[Racism – Protest] Trump Visits Kenosha, Highlights Destruction – Calling the previous nights’ violence “domestic terrorism,” Trump spent most of the day praising police efforts to control rioting without mentioning the police shooting of an unarmed black man, Jacob Blake, which triggered the riots in the first place.
[Coronavirus] Trump Administration Refuses to Join International COVID-19 Vaccine Production – More than 170 countries joined together to participate in Covax (Vaccines Global Access Facility) to manufacture and distribute effective vaccines globally. The White House rejected the WHO leadership of Covax and commented “The U.S. will win the global race to produce a vaccine.” What could possibly go wrong with that?
[Russian Election Interference] Facebook: Russians Targeting 2020 Elections – Facebook took down a network of accounts affiliated with a website called Peace Data, a front for the same Russian troll group (Internet Research Agency) in the 2016 election. The network of relatively sophisticated disinformation appears aimed at dividing Democrats.
[Coronavirus] CDC Issues Orders Blocking Rental Evictions – The order could potentially affect 43 million residential renters and remains in effect until the end of the year. This is flying way below the radar. There are caveats: applies only to renters, a sworn statement with about six conditions must be provided to the landlord, courts may not accept the conditions, accumulated rent still due January 1, 2021. Even the Treasury Department does not think this program will be heavily used. If Congress eventually supplies relief money, this program could be a complication.
[Elections – 2020] Massachusetts: Markey Defeats Kennedy in Democratic Senate Primary – Marking the first defeat for a Kennedy in a Massachusetts election, progressive support (AOC and others) for incumbent Markey appears to have been decisive.
Wednesday, September 2
[Coronavirus] Herd Immunity Comes to the White House – Without official recognition, the new White House guru for the coronavirus crisis, Scott Atlas (a radiology MD) has apparently convinced Trump and others to quietly implement measures for a “herd immunity” policy. This means making little or no attempt to stop the spread of coronavirus on the grounds that after a while enough people will be immune so the virus can no longer spread. Trade-off – a million or more dead.
[Elections – 2020] Trump Begins Encouraging Voters to Vote Twice – In a theme that he continues to repeat, Trump suggested that voters turn in their mail-in voting ballot and also go to in-person polling stations and attempt to vote again, which in all states is illegal and in many states a felony. Classic Trump distraction, provocative but not real. (AG Barr declined to comment.)
[Elections – 2020] Trump Orders Funding Cuts to Democratic Cities – More classic Trump distraction, as the order only asks federal agencies to find ways of cutting funding. If they actually tried to do so, it would be instantly challenged as unconstitutional. Trump’s sentiment: “My administration will not allow federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones.” Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York called this a “campaign stunt.”
[Elections – 2020] Trump Campaign and RNC Sue Montana to Block Expansion of Mail-In Voting – A bipartisan coalition of Montana County Clerks and Recorders approved Gov. Steve Bullock’s directive allowing counties to send absentee ballots to all registered voters. Forty-six counties (out of 54) agreed to this plan as a matter of public safety in a time of coronavirus. The Trump lawsuit claims this will lead to inconsistent procedures for voting.
[Russia – Poison] German Government Says Navalny Poisoned by Novichok – Since only the Russian government manufactures this category of poison, and it has in the past been used by Russian agents, Chancellor Merkel announced unequivocally, “It was the Russian government.” Trump has said only that “We haven’t had any proof yet, but I will take a look.”
Thursday, September 3
[Economy] New Unemployment Insurance Claims: .9 Million – Reading of the unemployment tea leaves this week has been murky with plenty of room for alternative interpretations. While the U.S. unemployment rate has fallen from 10.2% to 8.4% and 1.4 million jobs were added, the rate of job growth is declining – the economy has absorbed most of the “recovery jobs” from the coronavirus crisis. In fact, one third of the job growth in August was actually hiring for the U.S. Census. Economists maintain that businesses are reluctant to hire in a recession of indeterminate depth and length, especially considering that the pandemic is still not under control.
[Racism – Protest] Biden Visits Kenosha, Highlights Jacob Blake – Neither Trump’s nor Biden’s visit was wanted by residents of Kenosha, who would rather go about healing and solving their problems without being in the middle of a political rally. On the other hand, the Blake family approved of Biden’s visit. Biden obviously staked out his humanitarian approach to contrast with Trump’s emphasis on violence and destruction. So far, polls show that events in Kenosha have had little or no effect on support for either candidate.
[Election – 2020] The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg Report: Losers and Suckers – Overnight this article became a bomb-blast for the Trump campaign. It pieced together multiple statements and instances where Trump referred to fallen soldiers as “losers” and “suckers,” or otherwise showed disdain for military service as an honor. The story touched a nerve.
Friday, September 4
[Election – 2020] Multiple Outlets Confirm Trump “Losers and Suckers” Anecdotes – Even Fox News joined in the corroboration of various parts of the Jeffrey Goldberg article on Trump’s unfitness to be Commander-in-Chief. Denials from the White House came fast and furious but remained behind the pace of confirmation. As expected, Biden and the Democratic campaign jumped in with excoriating statements. Votevets.com had a punishing ad ready within 24 hours. Fox News added a report by Jennifer Griffin that in planning his Fourth of July parade Trump was opposed to including “wounded guys – that’s not a good look, Americans don’t like that.” Overall, this was a hard punch to the gut of the Trump campaign.
[Coronavirus] Coronavirus Vaccine Manufacturers Pledge Safety First – In an unprecedented draft statement, apparently designed to head off accusations of unsafe political manipulation, key COVID-19 drug makers, including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna, pledged not to release products until they have been proven safe and effective. Read: No clear vaccine confirmation until the end of the year. Also read: Lawsuits for false vaccine claims destroy companies.
[Coronavirus] U.S. Coronavirus Totals: Cases – 6,389,057; Deaths – 192,111
Coronavirus (Crisis) Notes
On the one hand the White House has unofficially adopted the “herd immunity” policy, which means it found a convenient medical rationale for doing what it had always been doing, that is, next to nothing. Just let the coronavirus infect enough people to establish a general immunity, roughly 60% of the population. On the other hand, there is the report from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation that by the end of the year the U.S. will have over 400,000 coronavirus deaths. The report also notes that if a “herd immunity strategy” were pursued and “no further government intervention is taken from now to January” the death toll could increase to 620,000. Their predictions assume a continuing decline in the use of masks and other mitigation, and that the impact of seasonal illness (seasonal flu) will bring the U.S. to approximately 3,000 COVID-19 related deaths a day. Somewhere in there is a crisis of policy. Too many deaths to be ignored? Too many sick people for a healthy and recovering economy? Will there ever be a head-to-head between Tony Fauci and Trump guru Scott Atlas?
Racism Protest (Crisis) Notes
What do these cities have in common: New York, Ferguson, Cleveland, Charleston, Baton Rouge, St. Paul, Sacramento, Louisville, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Rochester? Answer: Horrific incidents of police killing Blacks and subsequent violence. Rochester, New York is the latest. There is no pattern to this, as yet, but it’s increasingly apparent that the hostility toward Blacks in police departments is widespread. AG Barr denies this, as in fact do most Republicans. No systemic racism, they say. Like saying a garden full of weeds is in great shape.
Constitutional, Political, Election (Crisis) Notes
The Trump campaign may be running out of spaghetti. Or, it’s running out of wall space. It’s tried so many ways to demonize Biden and/or Harris, and none of it sticks. (Is Biden senile or a deep state devil?) For the next two months we can expect more of the same, an almost daily instance of some outrageous act or claim that is designed to encourage immediate negative reaction, especially from liberals and the media, before fading quietly and quickly away. The philosophy is that in propaganda only first impressions count. A handy motto: In this, ignorance is bliss.
Trump-bits. Top T conspiracy of the week: “We had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend, and in the plane, it was almost completely loaded with thugs, wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms, with gear and this and that.” T on Biden wearing a mask: “A man that likes a mask as much, it gives him a feeling of security. If I was a psychiatrist, I’d say this guy has some big issues.” T on police officers shooting black men: “They choke under pressure, just like in a golf tournament, they miss a three-foot putt.
Quotes of the Week
If I didn’t INSIST on having the National Guard activate and go into Kenosha, Wisconsin, there would be no Kenosha right now.
Trump tweet, 8/31/2020.
It was governors, not the president, who sent the National Guard to Kenosha. [Governors of Arizona, Michigan, and Alabama sent troops requested by the WI governor, as part of a mutual aid compact.]
The New York Times Fact Check, 9/1/2020.
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