Three Things: Loads of Bricks, White Chicks, Made-up Schtick

[NB: I want to make sure you take note of the byline. Thanks. /~Rayne]

Especially after last night this one’s been really bugging me so I’ll lay it out here first.

~ 3 ~

Why was riot gear more important than personal protective gear for the nation’s health care system back in March? This has bothered the hell out of me since I looked at the purchase orders and dates.

31-JAN-2020 — Trump declared a public health emergency under the Public Health Service Act

13-MAR-2020 — Trump issued two national emergency declarations under both the Stafford Act and the National Emergencies Act (NEA)

17-MAR-2020 — Federal purchase order from Veterans Affairs signed for POLICE PROTECTION EQUIPMENT FOR WASHINGTON D.C. VA POLICE IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19 OUTBREAK

18-MAR-2020 — Trump invoked emergency powers via Executive Order under the Defense Production Act

19-MAR-2020 — Trump named the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as the lead agency in the COVID-19 emergency response efforts (designation previously held by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS))

19-MAR-2020 — California issued Stay Home order

21-MAR-2020 — Illinois, New Jersey issued Stay Home orders

22-MAR-2020 — New York, Ohio issued Stay Home orders

23-MAR-2020 — CT, LA, MI, OR, WA issued Stay Home orders

23-MAR-2020 — Federal purchase order from Veterans Affairs signed for POLICE GEAR, DISPOSABLE CUFFS, GAS MASKS, BALLISTIC HELMETS, RIOT GLOVES

06-APR-2020 — FEMA seized orders of N95 masks
16-APR-2020 — FEMA seized orders of N95 masks
21-APR-2020 — FEMA seized orders of N95 masks

Why did the federal government seize private orders of N95 masks in April when it could have been ordering them instead of riot gear in March?

The government clearly had COVID-19 in mind because it’s spelled out in the order for POLICE PROTECTION EQUIPMENT entered Tuesday 17-MAR-2020 after the first national emergency declaration — the order uses PRESIDENTIAL ISSUED EMERGENCY DECLARATION, OR A MAJOR DISASTER DECLARATION as its emergency acquisition justification.

But why not order personal protective equipment for health care roles instead?

Why were they planning for riots in March, which is clear from the order for RIOT GLOVES on 23-MAR-2020?

They could predict rioting but not mass deaths from contagion?

Something really smells here.

I’d hate to think the White House used its power to acquire riot gear in order to pull off last night’s double-header campaign stunt-voter suppression gig.

Because that’s what this POS was.

Still can’t wrap my head around the U.S. Park Police and National Guard using tear gas and flash bang grenades on peaceful protesters to clear a path to St. John’s Episcopal Church in D.C. last evening so Trump could have an unauthorized photo-op in front of the church.

I don’t ever want to hear that Christians support Trump because he protects their religious freedoms when he just crapped all over them, especially if it turns out the White House planned for this months ago instead of working constructively to stem COVID-19.

~ 2 ~

The press has been traumatized by police assaults on them as they covered the protests over the last several days. In my opinion this is deliberate; it keeps the media from investigating what were the triggering events moving police toward violence against peaceful if angry protesters, launching property damage which further triggered police abuse. Protesters repeatedly caught on camera white people, some times in clusters, taking active roles in beginning property damage.

There are videos of black protesters trying to stop white people — too often dressed in black, acting in teams — who were the original actors causing property damage.

They ignore the pleas of black people to stop the damage.

There are several videos in which piles of bricks are pointed out by black protesters — bricks where no construction is apparent, left on sidewalks or in the middle of the street. One video shows white persons dressed in black removing barricades around the bricks. An academic noted on Twitter that any images of brick piles documented in Fayetteville, AR were there because brick walkways are constantly under repair. But at least a couple images show bricks piled on ashphalt street surface or concrete sidewalk, with no obvious construction or repair work in progress.

Yet another video circulating shows a black-clad white man handing out what is believed to be cash to black persons and pointing them to construction materials for the purposes of a temporary barricade. Wish the person recording the video had asked questions of their subjects.

There are some other disturbing signs about the content shared about white people allegedly involved in the property damage. This one may be a fake — there’s nothing in local news about this person.

There are claims in the thread about this person I can’t validate because I don’t use Facebook. Something about this is synthetic. Claims made attributing the source of support behind some of these vandals are clearly false and have been debunked.

The police have done themselves no favors, failing to arrest many of these vandals — in some cases simply watching them. Note how black protesters make this white vandal stop and drag them to police who are watching, doing nothing until forced to do so.

Police have also de-legitimized themselves by failing their duty to protect and serve, instead attacking citizens who are exercising their First Amendment rights.

Something isn’t right here, whatsoever. It looks systemic — rather like COINTELPRO and yet potentially manufactured at another remove — and the media needs to stop licking their wounds and get digging.

The press also needs to ask itself why this was not the face of this week’s civil rights protests in the wake of George Floyd’s murder-by-cop.

~ 1 ~

Meanwhile, this man on the left:

Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) with Confederate flag
continues to work on Trump’s and the GOP’s agenda:

deliberately ignoring this reality.

Nearly a thousand more Americans have died since yesterday morning.

~ 0 ~

One last thing: if you have time for a reading assignment, I recommend Anne Applebaum’s essay in The Atlantic, History Will Judge the Complicit. I’m so pissed off at Trump for making me miss John McCain right now.

This is an open thread. Bring it.

132 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    So damned angry every time I think about any government agency ordering riot gear in MARCH when we could see personal protection equipment was in short supply and desperately needed.

    I want heads on a platter for this bullshit.

  2. dude says:

    Just a few minutes ago, Raw Story posted an image of an arrest at a Floyd rally in Boise (story credited to a Mark Chapman tweet). Shows a white man face down with his hands being bound by a police officer.

    The man had fired a gun. The police officer was standing.

    My reaction was: why didn’t he have the officer’s knee on his neck? He fired a gun during an otherwise peaceful demonstration.

    Story says the discharge may have been an accident and the man posted bond on a misdemeanor and was released later. It’s all good. Just a misunderstanding.

  3. P J Evans says:

    People showing up with hammers or pipes (or firearms) are people I’d assume were there to start trouble and then loot. Peaceful protesters don’t need those.

      • John K says:

        Amen- a thousand times. Cell phone videos will prove to be historically significant in this regard. Without them, police brutality would go unnoticed by white America and continue unabated. It seems that media-blindfolded, decent white people are finally seeing what black people go through on a daily basis. The MSM reveal their complicity by not showing videos like the ones you have here in this thread. Black Aziz aNANsi deserves the viewership of all the major networks combined. This is important stuff, Rayne, and I can’t thank you enough for finding it and bringing it together.

        • Rayne says:

          I don’t know how much is complicity on the part of media. In 1992? Yeah, absolutely yeah. Media depicted all the protesters as angry rioters and the tensions between police and protesters blew up, fulfilling media’s narrative.

          Now, under Team Trump, when police are smashing Australian media’s video cameras and arresting identified journalists after pushing them face down into the street? I think the media has been completely preoccupied with keeping it shit together under attack — which was one of my points in the post, head of Item 2.

          Social media has been both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that we bypass filters when average citizens can share directly what’s happening. The curse the lack of adequate, appropriate editing and curation. We don’t know how much is manufactured, how much is skewed, and platform creators like Mark fucking Zuckerberg are ethically challenged.

    • Jenny says:

      Agree. Individuals in Ninja apparel and carrying weapons are looking for a fight. Seems very strategic and coordinated. Peaceful protest on one street, then violence on another.

      On January 21, 2017, I attended the Women’s March on Washington. Peaceful protest wearing pink pussy hats. No violent issues with approximately 500 thousand in attendance.

      Now we have the occupant of the WH who seems to relish in the power to dominate spewing toxic masculinity.

  4. Molly Pitcher says:

    I am so angry I am crying tears of rage. This is what we should expect from a President who uses Proud Boys as ‘security’ at his rallies.

    Growing up in Berkeley I have personal memories of Viet Nam/Civil Rights/Black Panther demonstrations from my childhood. This feels different.

    This feels like George Wallace and Bull Connor on steroids. Imagine what they would have been like with the communication of the internet at their disposal?

    Were this a more normal administration I would say that the answer is a general strike. That the streets be flooded with everyone, peacefully, like the Women’s March. But this isn’t a normal administration.

    • Bobby Gladd says:

      I hear you. I am just aghast. Is his ostensible “call-up” of military police specifically just another of his BS bully stunts, or are there wafts of “martial law” in the fetid White House air?

      What an absolute mess.

      • John K says:

        I think martial law has been in Trump’s head for a while as a means to prevent an election from removing him from office. I think it is the answer to Rayne’s super-legitimate question about prioritizing police equipment over PPEs.

      • John K says:

        I think the idea of declaring martial law has been on Trump’s mind for a while as a means of avoiding his removal from office by a fair election. I also think it provides an answer to Rayne’s super-legitimate question about why the administration prioritized military style police equipment over health care PPEs.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      I have similar memories (North Carolina, early 1960’s, cross burning in our front yard after my parents marched for civil rights) and the same Bull Connor deja vu. Followed by all the assassinations, then Nixon’s sanitized “law and order” version of the old segregationist tune. After Kent State the message was clear: the power of the government can and will be wielded to suppress dissent, especially those advocating for the systematically disempowered. Trump’s rhetoric about “terrorists” frightens me because I’ve seen tactics like this work before. The most frightening aspect of all: Nixon at his worst had brakes put on him by his own party. I see no evidence of similar patriotism as this administration accelerates past the brink.

      • J R in WV says:

        My family was in favor of integration, which wasn’t as big a deal in WV as in most of the more southern states — there was never Jim Crow laws in WV — so, of course, we had a cross burning in my grandfather’s yard, next door. Maybe 200 yards away from my folk’s house.

        I got called ni**er lover in grade school, too. No scars, just grew up radical liberal, demonstrated against the Vietnam war… Hey, Hey LBJ, how Many Kids did You Kill Today?!??!?!!!! Tear gas in 1969, nearly drafted in 1970, joined the Navy.

        Still a liberal, now donating to political candidates, not demonstrating, as am too frail for that. Cops would kill me with one or two blows from a “baton” club.

        Trump and all his minions are monsters. I dunno what they plot late at night, but I do know it is pure evil. Un-American, too.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Ronald Reagan’s fevered imagination notwithstanding, the average government can walk and chew Beemans at the same time. The USG could have purchased PPE and riot gear by the shipload. It seems to have intentionally ordered only the latter.

    Plus, all of Jared’s secretive toing and froing – I’m a member of Donald Trump’s family and I’m here to help – seems to have led government to seize PPE, as if it were contraband, and prevent rather than aid its distribution,

    I don’t think the moronic president’s insistence that actually doing things is the states’ problem answers the question. It demands a fuller answer. To echo Rayne, that’s fishy as hell.

    • dude says:

      Reagan’s fever dream—do you remember Adm. John Poindexter? Iran-Contra and Total Information Awareness. Reagan Republicans have long desired that their brand of government become able to keep secrets by misdirection and excel at ruling. Reagan’s crowd nurtured this current bunch, but Trump is a slow learner in the secrets department.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Yep, Poindexter, DARPA and Iran-Contra. If Congress doesn’t like what he’s doing, he’ll shut it down, but only by changing the project’s name. I don’t think that crew was into governance. It was into getting what it wanted, like Trump.

  6. Raven Eye says:

    I’m not offering this as an apology for — or justification of — the purchase of police gear by the VA, but it does represent one element of a range of thinking that goes on before and during these situations…

    About 20 years ago my team and I sat down with city, county, and health care representatives planning a biological WMD (point source release) tabletop exercise that took place at a large enclosed industrial facility – where the workforce was from a very wide area. The city was one of the 120 largest in the U.S. As we worked through the epi study and other elements of the exercise the emergency manager of one hospital system ran through some his concerns, including how serve the people (which would include the symptomatic and the “worried well”) in facilities with many exterior entrances while maintaining safety and preventing transmission/contamination. Part of that involved how to use security guards and LEOs…And chaplains too, for that matter.

    There are a lot of threads in planning for and responding to these events. To not assess security concerns and capabilities at the VA facilities would have been negligent. Nobody could be sure of how individuals or groups would react to the pandemic.

    Too often the police agencies of the executive departments and agencies are considered to be little more than “door shakers”. Even when “trained up”, they might not have access to the tools they need. That can result in higher risk to the police agency, or higher risk to the public due to impromptu solutions that utilize improper equipment and/or methods. The Pentagon Police underwent major changes after 9/11.

    I’m not sure what a deep dive into the VA’s actions and acquisitions will eventually discover. However, these line items aren’t a complete surprise to me.

    • Rayne says:

      If VA already has security personnel, why didn’t they have adequate gear BEFORE the emergency declaration? Sorry, not buying this considering VA hospitals serve populations which could be volatile for a number of reasons without COVID-19.

      I want to know where the equipment went because I don’t think it went to the VA any more than those N95 masks ended up where they were supposed to go.

      • P J Evans says:

        It would be good to know where stuff went. I’d suspect those fairly small amounts went to guards for VIPs.

        • Rayne says:

          Those are just the orders I tripped on. I wonder what else was ordered and where it went. Didn’t hear about any orders of riot gear being seized.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          To borrow from another industry, the Syndicate’s first rule of value is scarcity.

          Jared did spend a lot of time with his private sector buddies cooking up some secretive program, rather than providing leadership in the production and distribution of a badly needed commodity.

      • Jenny says:

        Rayne thanks. Interesting article about equipment and where it went.

        The Secret, Absurd World of Coronavirus Mask Traders and Middlemen Trying To Get Rich Off Government Money

        The federal government and states have fueled an unregulated, chaotic market for masks ruled by oddballs, ganjapreneurs and a shadowy network of investors.

        • John Lehman says:

          “Trying To Get Rich Off Government Money”
          Isn’t that how Fred Trump got rich? Trump’s rich dad.

        • John Lehman says:

          “Trying To Get Rich Off Government Money”
          Isn’t that how Fred Trump got rich?

          • Geoguy says:

            This is a small part of the Wikipedia entry for Fred Trump:
            “In early 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and other federal leaders began denouncing real-estate profiteers. On June 11, The New York Times included Trump on a list of 35 city builders accused of profiteering from government contracts.[42] He and others were investigated by a U.S. Senate Banking committee for windfall gains. Trump and his partner William Tomasello (who previously had mafia ties)[43] were cited as examples of how profits were made by builders using the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).”

      • Raven Eye says:

        I can certainly understand your not buying this. But as anyone who has first-person experience inside a federal agency knows, the pieces and parts of a program don’t always synchronize. Also, an entity can make a “risk management” decision (and federal agency risk management decisions have a pretty checkered history) that puts the acquisition of some of the equipment (used only for higher threat levels?) below the cut line for years running. (Did I read somewhere that MPD ended up providing helmets to the Secret Service Uniformed Division?)

        Did the threat level change? Maybe it was a conspiracy to get the equipment headed somewhere else? Maybe someone just used a VA contract as a procurement vehicle under the Economy Act?

        Seeing the paper trail will get some of that straightened out. A FOIA request is certainly in order, though that might get halted if the information sought is determined to be FOUO or SBU — a pretty good chance for that, actually.

          • Raven Eye says:

            Concur. Normally I try to follow the advice to never attribute to a conspiracy that which can be better explained by incompetence. However, with this administration I’m leaning to the opinion that incompetence (as applied to the “normal” workings of society and government) IS the conspiracy.

  7. PieIsDamnGood says:

    Excellent Atlantic article.

    “They believe that “we are approaching the Rapture, and this is a moment of deep religious significance.” Barr, in a speech at Notre Dame, has also described his belief that “militant secularists” are destroying America, that “irreligion and secular values are being forced on people of faith.” Whatever evil Trump does, whatever he damages or destroys, at least he enables Barr, Pence, and Pompeo to save America from a far worse fate. If you are convinced we are living in the End Times, then anything the president does can be forgiven.”

    True believers are absolutely terrifying, we have to take their statements at face value. Barr, Pence and Pompeo are ready for the world to end and all of our lives with it.

    • P J Evans says:

      Their “end times beliefs” aren’t based on the bible, which was talking about death, in the gospels, and in Revelation, the Roman empire. Their rapture is straight-up fear of dying, in its claim that they’ll be taken to heaven alive.

      • Beth from Santa Monica says:

        When Donald Trump and his cronies took over St. John’s Episcopal Church on inauguration day 2017, and put Robert Jeffress in the pulpit to preach, members of our parish in Beverly Hills were furious. Our then-rector, Steve Huber, reminded us that we, as does St. John’s, tell the world that “everyone is welcome” at our table. Everyone necessarily includes hate mongers like Jeffress and Trump. It was a hard pill to swallow.
        Fast forward to yesterday’s stunt by Trump: he had William Barr arrange for priests and a seminary student to be chased off the steps of St. John’s with tear gas and flash-bang grenades, where they had been caring for the community of protesters with water and hand sanitizer and love, so that Trump could pose in front of my church with a Bible. I speak two languages fluently, have passing knowledge of two others, and can give a cab driver directions in a fifth yet I lack the words to describe how utterly despicable this stunt was.
        We believe, and teach, that all are welcome at our table, no exceptions. But I also believe that people must be held accountable. It’s hard to hold people accountable. It’s hard to fight hypocrisy. It’s hard to counter people who act with impunity. It’s so hard to deal with people who have no shame, care nothing for the truth, devalue competence, and focus solely on expedient self-gratification. I sit here now, at a loss for how to proceed. But tomorrow I will get up, brush the dirt off, and move forward. The millions out there now will be joined by millions more to make sure that we close the doors of our society to this malignant administration, its henchman, and its enablers, forever.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I’m pretty sure “they” think their end times beliefs are about fulfilling biblical prophesy. If making the Rapture happen now means ending their lives here, it is a small price to pay for eternal bliss in heaven.

      Bill Barr has also convinced himself he’s protecting something rather than destroying it. I think he’s committed to that view as much as he’s committed to having and wielding the power to make any of it come about.

      There’s no end of irony in their beliefs. My view is that Jesus wanted people to find god in their everyday lives, and to be able to live them here and now as if they enjoyed the bounty of heaven.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Which makes this part of the essay even more poignant:

      They don’t seem to realize that the American Senate really could become the Russian Duma, or the Hungarian Parliament, a group of exalted men and women who sit in an elegant building, with no influence and no power. Indeed, we are already much closer to that reality than many could ever have imagined.

      Trump has neutered the Republicans in Congress. They were complicit in their own castration.

      Except for Romney.
      Let that sink in.

      • P J Evans says:

        Romney is also complicit. For all his brave talk, he still votes for the GOP judges and bills.

        • Sonso says:

          Yes: do not be fooled (not than anyone here would be) by Romney, Cheney or any other R, who occasionally gets up on his/her miniature political hind legs and takes a nip a Trump’s heels. They have always been Tories (and worse) since the beginning.

  8. jo6pac says:

    As trump calls up NG and Army it reminds of the days that Obama called in all law enforcement to crush OWS. Sadly real change never see the light of day.
    This will only get worse I’m afraid:-(

    Thanks for the link to AA article.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The task of making historical parallels is fraught with peril, inaccuracy chief among them.

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      Ya know “jo6pac”, I very curious to know what you think you are accomplishing by posting the things which you post here?

      You are not going to change anyone’s mind with your lack of evidence for what you say. You are not going to engage anyone in an argument. Most everyone here is far too polite to slap you down, other than bmaz who is just doing his job.

      What are you getting out of this ?

  9. BobCon says:

    On the subject of cops as bystanders, one bit I read on Minneapolis is that it reflects what happened in Baltimore during the Freddie Gray protests, where the police deliberately refused to protect firefighters — they wanted the visuals of burning businesses to embarass city leaders. (Fortunately, the Washington Post has reported that Baltimore so far has dodged the chaos in other cities).

    I think there is also something to the theory that in most cities, the police are largely suburbanites who have no ties to these communities, often share suburbanite disgust at cities, and just don’t care if city businesses are looted and burned.

    • P J Evans says:

      It’s certainly true in L.A., where a lot of cops (and firefighters) live in suburbs. Simi Valley is one of those that’s heavily uniformed. (Some take the train in to downtown L.A.)

    • dude says:

      This has been true for ages. Perhaps it can be changed. In the same way teachers are given bonuses to live in the neighborhood of the school where they teach, perhaps police could be given the same incentive. Make ‘community policing’ a meaningful reality. I live in a small city (under 120,000) and even here the divide between homeplace and workplace is clear.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      It’s hard to think what cop in Seattle, Portland, SF or NY could actually afford to live within the city limits with a reasonable commute. We’d need better federal housing policies to allow for that — currently, public servants are priced out of many US cities.

      • Raven Eye says:

        During research for the Pentagon After Action Report we found out that only two Arlington County firefighters actually lived in the county. (For non-Beltway types, Arlington County is functionally a city with a county governance structure.)

        • AndTheSlithyToves says:

          Don’t know if you heard about this, Raven Eye, but the killing of retired NYTimes reporter, David Rosenbaum, in 2006 exposed problems in our DC Fire and EMS departments. Despite the tragedy and many attempts by activists to overhaul the system, it ultimately led to nothing.

          • Raven Eye says:

            Aware of the problems through responder interviews conducted following 9/11 and through colleagues who worked in or with DCFEMS.

    • AndTheSlithyToves says:

      As I respond to your comment, BobCon, I can hear the helicopters flying back and forth overhead every few minutes between the National Mall and Pennsylvania Avenue. Those sounds are punctuated intermittently by sirens, which could be more cop cars and ambulances, since the GWU Hospital is nearby and I live between the White House and the hospital. Virginia Avenue, a couple of blocks south, has been the main drag for ambulances heading to GWUH during the pandemic.
      Earlier this evening, I was returning home from the grocery store with my hands full when I crossed paths with several hundred demonstrators walking calmly and peacefully, while chanting respectfully, down 21st Street toward the State Department entrance (the one where Mike Pompeo has been holding his faux fundraising dinners) and watched them continue on to the National Mall. There were a few random DC cop cars, Federal cop cars, and unmarked black SUVs racing and zigzagging around on cross streets, and I fully expected them to inadvertently crash into one another.
      You are correct about the cops being non-residents. There have been problematic issues around that situation since I’ve lived here, but it also extends to all government employees, both DC and Federal, most of whom aren’t residents. All of this has contributed to a systemic corruption that has built up over decades. Trump and his cronies are just malignant symptoms of a sclerotic system in need of change.
      Shout out to Rayne for this important topic!

    • vvv says:

      Chicago requires police and fire personnel to reside in the city, as well as most teachers (I believe there are some private contracts for teachers with specialty qualifications) and most other city employees.

      Of course, that means that there are cop neighborhoods where they tend to congregate, cops and fire -Edison park on the North side, Mt. Greenwood (the only part of Chicago that voted Trump in ’16) on the South. The latter is pretty insular, with a reputation for racism.

  10. punaise says:

    not unlike those frogs in the slowly heating water, at what point do we switch from the vague specter of fascism to “oh shit, Madge, we’re soaking in it…”

    (only some metaphors were harmed in the construction of this comment).

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          “Mr Whipple, clean up in aisle White House. Bring extra Charmin’, the effluence is three feet high and rising”.

          (I actually think I bowdlerized more than you, punaise !)

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Trump reminds me of Inspector Japp in the episode where he reluctantly stays with Poirot for a few days. He discovers that he hates his newfangled central heating, but is relieved when he finds a drinking fountain next to the toilet.

    • Raven Eye says:

      Tucker is another of those people who have never had a job where if they screw up, people die in their sleep — immediately.

      • P J Evans says:

        Even at the first utility-company job I had, as a contract data-entry person, I was made aware that mistakes could result in people getting killed. (I aimed for 100% accuracy, and usually got more than 95%.)

    • P J Evans says:

      The NC governor told them they couldn’t have a convention in NC unless they observed the COVID-19 rules (masks and distancing).

    • Rugger9 says:

      Time for a pool on which Trump Org property the RNC Convention goes to, and “no convention” is a distinct possibility so add that to the options. First one with the right answer wins… something.

      I vote for no convention, seeing how DJT has already kiboshed the GOP primaries in many states (particularly red ones) and he won’t listen to discouraging words anyway. Jared is already pushing for a one-page platform which almost makes sense because the GOP won’t follow through on their promises anyhow and why waste the effort? Then the convention money can be used for other stuff like the inaugural money was…

      This site needs some swag for prizes.

  11. P J Evans says:

    The DEA has been given authority to surveill people without warrants.

    The next time Donald Trump, or Devin Nunes, or Mike Pompeo, or Sean Hannity, or anyone else complains about the authority to begin an investigation into foreign action that went through the FISA courts, Trump is claiming the right to covertly surveil ANYONE with no court at all.

    (link to Buzzfeed)

    • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

      Maybe the agency most willing to launder NSA collections infrastructure through an agency with authority to “operate” inside the US?

      That’s what puzzles me though – given the borderless nature of internet communications and all the carveouts which effectively enable the NSA to Hoover up global traffic, including our own, why involve a domestic agency? Maybe the domestic agency will be granted greater access to query against NSA collections?

      WAGs though.

      Hoping EW does a post on this with thoughts of what and why.

        • Rayne says:

          That facial recognition avoidance is too advanced for current protesters. Since all of us should be wearing masks because of COVID-19, the best answer to fooling AI is masks.

          At least until the US government acquires technology like the Chinese developed which is 95% effective identifying people wearing masks. It will take more than an adversarial patch to fool perception of height, head, eye spacing dimensions.

    • soothsayer says:

      You know what I think, I think that maybe they were surveilling their political foes or anyone else they considered an annoyance to them. If they could not legally do it, they possibly used proxies e.g. UAE with ex intel people, to do it. I saw an article on how UAE was using ex-NSA people, and that some of their targeted “lists” were found to contain Americans. I wonder, if it was the UAE who asked for these targets, or some people in or associated to the admin. I mean I am hypothesizing, but I would not put it past them so they could get around unmasking and wire tapping laws to target anyone they wanted. This might even somewhat explain some of the shenanigans that happened to me. Who knows.

  12. John A. Broussard says:

    I make it a point to not attempt a rational discussion with anyone who simply insults whoever they disagree with, rather than dealing with the issues involved. So let’s try considering an important issue…rationally, without rancor, or name-calling.

    Let me begin this hopeful debate by pointing out that I am not a master chef, not a trained auto mechanic, not a physician, and certainly not a certified psychiatrist. However, I know when an omelet’s been burnt, when a finger is broken, when my car’s brakes don’t work, and when a person is mentally deranged.

    Naturally, I might very well be wrong in any or all of these instances. I could be in a restaurant in France, where I’m told that omelets are typically reheated and browned on the bottom. That “broken” finger may simply be a congenital condition with no serious consequences. I could, and have, accidentally put my foot on the wrong pedal. And the object of my “analysis” could simply be clowning.

    But, should actual experts in any of these fields make such “diagnoses at a distance”? That is a serious question, which is a crucial one in these troubled times. Here goes my attempt to answer it.

    Not being a psychiatrist, I see no reason why I can’t state unequivocally, and based entirely on his tweets, speeches, interviews, and his public statements, that President Donald Trump is mentally ill.

    But, should a professional psychiatrist make such a statement about our President? My answer is “yes”. Diagnosis at a distance by professionals in their field of expertise is ordinarily, at the very least, an absurdity. But, as in many instances in this life, actions which may be flat-out wrong in most instances could, under extenuating circumstances, be essential.

    Since Donald Trump is clearly one of the most powerful persons on earth, can order someone killed without being held to account, may even plunge us into war through his position as Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces…public recognition of his fragile mental condition by psychiatrists is not only acceptable but even required.

    It has been some years since I’ve read Gulliver’s Travels, but I do remember that the protagonist did what would ordinarily be regarded as an unpardonable act…having made use of his giant stature and the contents of his bladder to urinate on the Lilliputian monarch’s palace. But it was on fire, and that was the only water readily available.

    Maybe now is indeed the time when psychiatrists must commit what would ordinarily be an inexcusable offense, which consists of diagnosing a person at a distance. However, this time the subject is a person who could do, and has already done, irreparable damage to others, to this country, and even to the world.

    And, perhaps, psychiatrists are even justified in analyzing at a distance anyone who can casually overlook the evidence that President Donald Trump is clearly showing signs of a serious mental illness.

    John A. Broussard
    broupome @

    [Welcome to emptywheel. FYI, your email address has been “broken” with blank spaces to prevent spiderbots from picking it up for spamming. /~Rayne]

  13. e.a.f. says:

    I watched some of what was going on last night on the Seattle news stations which are carried in B.C., Canada. What surprised me was the number of whites out in what was supposed to be rioting protestors. I can’t figure out what is going on in the USA but it is scary. Trump’s verbage and carrying on, its like he want a civil war. He wants the military in the streets. I am of the opinion this is where he has wanted to be for awhile, a military dictatorship. Makes me wonder where those ICE swat type troops they moved around sanctuary cities are now

    The attacks on those at the Church was so just crazy. firing at people so he can have a photo op. what ever he is up to, the USA is not going to come out the better on this. In my opinion trump wants a civil war or something along those lines.

    some of us in Canada are concerned because what happens in a country with approx. 350M who are in a civil war. How would Canada and Mexico deal with several million refugees? Well if trump keeps going at this rate China will have won. The U.S.A. will be destroyed. If Trump attempts to send the military to states, uninvited, how will the people re act? Will they use arms to keep them out? Would the armed forces shoot at civilians? What would the military leadership do if trump orders them to occupy major American cities?

    Where are the rest of the republican politicians in all of this?

    • P J Evans says:

      The GOP-T politicians are either pretending it isn’t happening, or they’re saying the words but not doing anything to back them.

      Yes, Trmp would like a civil war: he’s been convinced that the majority of the population will back him by the sycophants at Fox and OANN and talk radio. Reality has a hard time intruding on his fantasies of being god-emperor, though the polls are starting to do that.

    • Manwen says:

      Republicans remain in hiding, make meaningless statements, or some, like Tom Cotton, encourage him. The comparison to the Dumas was excellent. Until the Democrats took the House we were there. The public pushed back in 2018; hopefully, they even more will push back in 2020. I think amid the excellent discussion here, we should also note that several important things happened today. Pat Robertson spoke out against it in fairly strong terms.
      The Catholic Archbishop of DC, Wilton Gregory condemned the visit to the John Paul memorial. Both are threats to Trump base. The head of the DC National Guard is looking into the use of helicopter in the “show of force dislapy.” Esper ordered regular troops returned to base and blasted the idea of using force after earlier saying he was unaware he was headed to a photo op on Monday. Trump said he did not issue the order and he was unaware protestors were there in yet another strange Fox Radio News Interview today. (He also said he went to inspect the bunker during the day, not shelter in it at night!) In short, the push back was from many quarters, there is a hasty retreat in progress for the military and rhetorically for the “law and order” President. Leadership that threatens peace and prosperity is not long tolerated in US society. Political leaders who fail to deliver both rarely last long.
      The leaders of the Civil Rights Movement knew that; they used it very effectively. Their children and grandchildren learned from them. Groups like BLM plan well, effectively, and they know that their work requires them to push without threatening. Phone videos and protest marshals are the greatest defense the movement has against the tactics at the moment. Getting some police and national guard to join in the marches with the protesters could also be a tactic deployed soon to protect the integrity of the cause. We are already seeing some of that in symbolic form.
      Middle class America’s white children are joining this movement. Civil disobedience has already worked–Trump’s move on St. John’ Church to portray himself as defenders of white christianity backfired, in no small part because he doesn’t even know how to hold a Bible with respect, or find words within to reflect on the moment. He became more transparent to more of his base. And, he figured that, thus he says, “I didn’t say move them out.
      I didn’t know was there.” I don’t think Pat Robertson believes that one.

  14. misteranderson says:

    I just read Anne Applebaum’s article. That was really good. I think one thing that she missed was what I would call unofficial acts of coercion & retribution that get missed by the media. E.g. A moderate Republican congressman was saying something negative about Trump at a weekday lunch & one of his colleagues told him that the White House would hear of it. It sent a chill thru him. Another e.g. I think Don Mcgahn’s law firm(Jones Day?) lost business. I think Trump uses a lot of tactics like this to scare the shit out of people so they don’t speak up. It’s definitely consequential in people’s calculation over whether to speak up. Richard Branson told a story of Trump telling him in the late 2000’s that he would get even with the banks & individuals who would not loan him money. Trump is one scary individual. He’s a psychopath & a narcissist.

  15. Stacey says:

    EXCELLENT post! and I also thoroughly enjoyed The Atlantic article. I personally love exploring the psychological machinations of ‘the one who gets away’ from the cult.

    I’m watching a series on Hulu exploring Scientology and interviewing the people who’ve left and why and what’s happened to them in the cult, in the leaving of the cult, and since. Startlingly, across the board, they each have a fairly small moment where they flip. They describe themselves as 100% on board and then something not that huge (comparatively) happens and they are like 80% out, and all that’s left to do is figure out how to physically escape (yes, people are held literally in ‘the hole’ they call it, against their will for weeks to months to years!) or how to get their family out, a HUGE issue for them, because family disconnection is a huge weapon they use against people. But over and over again, it’s surprising how they will say such a small thing just flipped them, and then there are the perhaps majority (?) of people who never flip no matter what.

    But when you see these absolutely heroic people getting out of THAT cult–where they LITERALLY send throngs of private investigators to destroy your life if you speak out against them–versus these weak-ass Republicans who would rather let the country burn to the ground than suffer a mean Tweet from Donald F. Trump. Now that is some serious psychological weakness! Hard to overstate the cowardly nature of these people!

    The encouragement I do wish to leave one with is that small things can wake up very asleep people in ways that would surprise you. And I hear stories every day of people who experience one of those small wake up moments and they turn around from his cult of personality. God knows he tries every day to give them a plethora of ‘small things’ to possibly be turned off because of :-)

  16. posaune says:

    Rayne, thanks for the link to Anne Applebaum’s article. Although I don’t always agree with her, what she says here is right on the mark. I only hope this country can survive and make it to a “lustrowania,” revelation of all collaborators’ deeds. We need an Adam Michnik now. Desperately.

    • Rayne says:

      We’ll definitely need a truth and reconciliation process if we’re ever going to get past the hostility of white supremacy in this country.

      • Budd says:

        I agree; information and an honest history is key. Even locally, our decisions (e.g. regarding environmental contamination, zoning, etc) are more limited by information than philosophy or politics. Justice requires evidence, and evidence must be seen.

  17. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Donald Trump is going to make everything that was already bad much, much worse in the days to come. But we aren’t just spectators anymore. There are no orange Cheeto signs on the streets because he was the culmination of a centuries long sickness, not the cause of it. This moment is not about him, but about what created him, and whether we can finally break the spell.

  18. Rugger9 says:

    Malcolm Nance posted a picture of the use of a Red Cross helo for rotor washing protesters. Note that such military use of a protected symbol is usually considered a war crime. Nance was pretty pissed and apparently the DOD IG is looking into this (until they’re fired, of course) since it is a pretty fundamental line to cross and the ICRC is also raising questions about this. It also would be an illegal order to fly under a false flag (like spying) for which the the pilot should have refused to do so especially with the Red Cross. It has also been noted that several of the units in DC have removed their identifications, only stating that they are “DOJ” when reporters asked, which is also pretty illegal. The reason one doesn’t do this is to protect medics in the field, but when lines are blurred like this then doctors become fair game as well.

    Note: WashPo usually has a free access to articles counter.

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Imagine Trump’s evangelical supporters, assessing his Orange Photo Op, saying this in their best stentorian Richard Burton voice: “He wears the armor of God.” It makes Him invincible.

    “[M]any of Trump’s evangelical supporters, far from Washingtons [sic] political stage, saw the move as a victory in a world rife with evil.” Evil that they now make happen and flourish. Their “take” seems more power politics than religion, though some would call that a distinction without a difference.

  20. Jenny says:

    Aired on PBS 6/27/2016.
    FRONTLINE: Policing the Police – Season 2016 – Episode 10
    How do you change a troubled police department? FRONTLINE goes inside the Newark Police Department – one of many forces in America ordered to reform. As the country’s debate over race, policing and civil rights continues to unfold, the New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb examines allegations of police abuses in Newark, N.J. and the challenge of fixing a broken relationship with the community.

  21. Manwen says:

    Republicans remain in hiding, make meaningless statements, or some, like Tom Cotton, encourage him. The comparison to the Dumas was excellent. Until the Democrats took the House we were there. The public pushed back in 2018; hopefully, they even more will push back in 2020. I think amid the excellent discussion here, we should also note that several important things happened today. Pat Robertson spoke out against it in fairly strong terms.
    The Catholic Archbishop of DC, Wilton Gregory condemned the visit to the John Paul memorial. Both are threats to Trump base. The head of the DC National Guard is looking into the use of helicopter in the “show of force dislapy.” Esper ordered regular troops returned to base and blasted the idea of using force after earlier saying he was unaware he was headed to a photo op on Monday. Trump said he did not issue the order and he was unaware protestors were there in yet another strange Fox Radio News Interview today. (He also said he went to inspect the bunker during the day, not shelter in it at night!) In short, the push back was from many quarters, there is a hasty retreat in progress for the military and rhetorically for the “law and order” President. Leadership that threatens peace and prosperity is not long tolerated in US society. Political leaders who fail to deliver both rarely last long.
    The leaders of the Civil Rights Movement knew that; they used it very effectively. Their children and grandchildren learned from them. Groups like BLM plan well, effectively, and they know that their work requires them to push without threatening. Phone videos and protest marshals are the greatest defense the movement has against the tactics at the moment. Getting some police and national guard to join in the marches with the protesters could also be a tactic deployed soon to protect the integrity of the cause. We are already seeing some of that in symbolic form.
    Middle class America’s white children are joining this movement. Civil disobedience has already worked–Trump’s move on St. John’ Church to portray himself as defenders of white christianity backfired, in no small part because he doesn’t even know how to hold a Bible with respect, or find words within to reflect on the moment. He became more transparent to more of his base. And, he figured that, thus Trump says, “I didn’t say move them out.
    I didn’t know who was there.” I don’t think Pat Robertson believes that one.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      LOL x2. Before becoming president, Trump spent seven decades being 6’2″. If he’s 244 lbs, he’s Isaac Newton. Three hundred is more likely. His clothing sizes would go a long way toward verifying that, but his chin and his side profile in golfing clothes already do.

      Trump’s supposed heart rate and blood pressure are numbers some aide pulled out of a textbook. It seems less than probable that he can have his real height and weight, his diet and activity pattern, and his stress load and have about a 120/80 blood pressure and a 63 beats/minute pulse. The president’s physician should worry about maintaining his license.

      These sorts of lies are critical to maintaining Trump’s distant from reality self-image. They mock disclosure requirements and the public’s interest in keeping tabs on the health and mental well-being of the person they empower to have so much control over their lives. As you suggest, whatever Dr. Conley is shoveling, it smells the way it looks.

      • P J Evans says:

        I’ve seen photos of him with people who are 6ft2. He’s no more than 6ft. And definitely over 244.
        121/78 is possible, with blood pressure meds. I’m not sure I believe that – it’s what mine runs, and I’m half his official weight and a foot shorter..

  22. BobCon says:

    NY Times opinion editor James Bennet published Tom Cotton’s op-ed today calling protestors “insurrectionists” and calling for the use of troops.

    Bennet needs to be fired ASAP.

    As reports started to roll in about the police targeting the press, I wondered whether media leadership would back their employees or take the side of the attackers.

    The leadership of the NY Times has made it clear they think the free press can go to hell.

    • Tom says:

      Oh yes, by all means, call out the regulars to intimidate protestors, clear the streets, and enforce respect for the authorities. It worked so well for George III and Lord North back in 1775. If Senator Cotton thinks Americans are going to be cowed into submission by the sight of bayonets in the street, he doesn’t know his own countrymen.

  23. earlofhuntingdon says:

    SecDef Esper seems to have decided he’s had enough of working for Donald Trump. He has come out against using the 1807 Insurrection Act to deal with the current protest movement. The White House is not amused. It has already forced the Pentagon to walk back its decision to pull back some of the troops currently parading round DC.

    I hope Esper enjoys his [probable] retirement, because there are a hundred more people who follow him out the door. One/several of them is that always anonymous WH source who complains about how hard it is to work for the man in the Oval Office.

    • BobCon says:

      The timing with Esper’s flailing attempt to pull back troops is probably not a coincidence. Not as a direct commentary on Esper so much as another signal that the military has a lot of doubts about this mission.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I think that’s right. Esper is probably caught between Trump and pushback from a military tired of being used as a prop in an illegal Trump reality show. Not to mention Trump’s selling out to Russia, not really backing the troops or generals, and all round fugging up.

  24. earlofhuntingdon says:

    What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black.

    — Robert F. Kennedy, Indianapolis, IN, April 4, 1968

  25. Geoguy says:

    This from Common Dreams: ‘Deplorable Monument to Racism’ Gone After Philadelphia Removes Statue of Former Mayor Frank Rizzo
    “While we are glad that the symbol is removed, we will continue to fight until the white supremacy that allowed Rizzo to come to power in the first place is eradicated.”
    by Eoin Higgins, staff writer

    • P J Evans says:

      They took it down last night, in the middle of the night.
      (My feeling is pretty much: good.)

  26. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Gen. Mattis’s views are welcome, if late. He’s wrong about Trump being unique in his divisiveness – George H. Bush and Dick Cheney were good at it, too, as was Richard Nixon. But Trump’s extremism and other failings are breathtaking.

    Mattis’s voice is especially welcome, given that he will be the public face of many others, senior current and retired military among them. Others who can need to join him. Their voices will be a necessary counterweight to Trump’s official authority, both with law enforcement, many of whom are ex-military, and current and former military, from generals to rank and file.

    All of them vote. All of them can choose to join or stop whatever Trump has in mind in order to stay in office and immune from consequences. That Mattis feels a need to speak out suggests he’s heard at least rumors that Trump intends more assaults on the Constitution and American life.

    • bmaz says:

      Mike Mullen has weighed in too. What would be helpful is if they would lend themselves to actual ads. Doesn’t have to be for Biden, but maybe one of the Republican anti-Trump groups like the Lincoln Project or something.

    • bmaz says:

      And, in fact, I just privately reached out to a friend who is one of the founders of the Lincoln Project to suggest this. Not sure Mullen and/or Mattis would do it, but would be pretty powerful if they did.

        • bmaz says:

          I read that as if they can make written statements, they can make oral ones, which is what I contemplated. They have both already exercised the written part. Openly and notoriously.

          • Rayne says:

            It’s one thing to say that the president isn’t adhering to their oath of office and job description, but another to make an advertisement for an entity which is actively campaigning against Trump’s re-election. It’s a really fine line and Mattis has already set enough bad ethical examples for active and former military personnel.

            • bmaz says:

              Meh, they have already argued against the President; it would not be an issue at this point.

          • BobCon says:

            Flynn was a general until two years prior to joining the Trump campaign, so his activities probably give a guide to what is legal.

            Aside from all of the kidnapping stuff, of course, but the Erdogan stuff was a side hustle.

            It wouldn’t make sense to have Mullen foaming “lock him up” but that obviously isn’t what is being suggested here.

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