Trump’s Latest Executive Orders: Head Fakes and Head Games

[NB: Check the byline, thanks! /~Rayne]

Before we look at the craptacular bullshit Trump and his henchmen pulled over on major media outlets Friday and Saturday, let’s take a look at what needs urgent resolution.

A COVID-19 patient was evicted from her home while she was still recovering. The ownership of the home is in question yet she was booted out, still struggling to breathe while all her belongings are tossed out on the lawn.

This is likely not the only example like this. The article above notes there have been 9,000 eviction filings in the Memphis, Tennessee area as of June. How many are there today?

How many eviction filings are there across the entire country?

Bloomberg reported as much as a third of renters don’t think they will be able to make August rent payment:

Renters across America are wading into unknown territory. With the lapse of the federal moratorium on evictions that expired July 31 and the end of the $600 per week boost to unemployment benefits, a recent survey reveals the breadth of financial uncertainty now plaguing Americans.

An estimated 27% of adults in the U.S. missed their rent or mortgage payment for July, according to a nationwide survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau weekly over the last three months. Among renters alone, just over one-third (34%) said during the waning days of July that they had little to no confidence that they could make their August rent payment, a stark measure of the ongoing economic devastation for households stretched to the brink by coronavirus pandemic.

There were 43 million renters in 2019. If that number hasn’t changed we could be looking at nearly 15 million evictions within the next month.

This doesn’t include homeowners who haven’t or may not be able to make their mortgage payments.

This is a massive crisis which is kicking off slowly thanks to the GOP Senate refusing to negotiate with its HEALS Act to meet the House Democrats’ HEROES Act which was passed in May and has been ready to go since then.

Given 51 million Americans were unemployed by mid-July and many had difficulty collecting unemployment compensation on a timely basis, the scale of homelessness we are about to see because Trump and the GOP are such massively useless asshats will make the 2008 crash look like nothing.

~ ~ ~

At his Bedminster golf club Friday evening — in front of club members who didn’t wear masks in spite of New Jersey’s emergency orders — Trump threw out teasers about executive orders to help Americans:

These are Steve Herman’s live tweets capturing the event.

Many major media outlets reported Trump’s comments without any skepticism.

Just before 5:00 p.m. Saturday, Trump signed so-called executive orders. Again, major media reported this straight without any pushback, as Josh Benton noted in his feed:

In reality, what Trump signed was a head fake which did jack shit to address problems. Major media failed to portray it that way. To its credit, the Washington Post did sketch this as an end run around Congress — but it was far worse than that.

~ ~ ~

Let’s check with Bharat Ramamurti, member of Congressional Oversight Commission who spelled out the problems in a Twitter thread:

Let’s take a look at the actual text of these executive orders.

Here’s the heart of the one on evictions. As you can see, it doesn’t create an eviction moratorium. It asks certain federal agencies to see if they can maybe do something on evictions.

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Here’s the payroll tax one. It’s a deferral. That means either employers will continue to withhold your payroll taxes and you won’t see any difference, or they won’t withhold (unlikely), and you’ll have it all withheld from your paycheck when the deferral expires at year-end.

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Here is the key part of the unemployment insurance one.

*To be clear, the legal authority to do this is highly dubious.*

But, at best, it’s a $300/week federal contribution redirecting money that, by my estimate, would cover about 4 weeks for the currently unemployed.

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On unemployment insurance, evictions, and on student loans, these orders and memoranda — even if they are found legal — provide far, far less relief than what Democrats provided in the HEROES Act that passed three months ago and has languished in the Senate ever since.

The House’s HEROES Act passed on May 15. The GOP-led Senate dragged its feet for two months; HEALS Act wasn’t introduced until July 27, offering only a third of the aid the HEROES Act offers while it also contains pork like spending on the F-35.

Because the GOP senate continues to take marching orders from the White House, adhering to an arbitrary $1 trillion limit which is inadequate to the size of the crisis, they avoid good faith negotiation with the House to reconcile the differences between the HEROES Act and HEALS Act.

The White House then throws out useless memoranda to keep the media occupied — a classic Bannon-esque move, treating the media as the enemy by flooding the zone with shit they have proven incapable to process correctly.

The intent is to do nothing. Absolutely nothing.

There is almost nothing actionable in the scribbles: orders like “shall identify,” “shall consider,” “shall take action,” “shall review” are worthless because they are not specific and not supported by legislation which would make them specific.

Nothing in any of the bullshit Trump signed in a reality TV-like gesture will help the millions of Americans already under threat of eviction, or those already evicted like that poor COVID-19 patient in Tennessee.

~ ~ ~

There are a number of analyses already published across the internet which spell out the flaws with the White House’s approach including its fundamental illegality.

Bob Greenstein at the Center on Budget points out the shortcomings in Trump’s “executive actions,” which is a more accurate description than executive orders. What’s missing:

– Funding for testing, contract tracing and other critical publc health needs to help get the pandemic under control
– Food assistance for millions who aren’t getting enough to eat, including students missing out on school breakfast and lunch
– Extension of the federal eviction ban and funding to help renters struggling to pay the rent
– Funding for schools to provide distance learning and take needed precautions to reopen safely
– Funding to keep child care providers afloat so they can care for children safely when parents are able to work
– Fiscal relief for states, including additional Medicaid funding, to avoid more layoffs and cuts in health care and other critical state services
– Employment benefits at adequate levels that would last more than the next six weeks or so for people who have lost jobs.

All the kinds of aid which legislation can provide and an executive order can’t, since the power of the purse lies solely with Congress.

It wouldn’t hurt at this point to brush up on executive orders; the Congressional Research Service worked up a paper on them in 2014. Probably wouldn’t hurt to revisit Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer.

As important as wrestling with this executive bullshit is, it’s essential to recognize the White House is absolutely useless to the American public right now. They aren’t doing anything to help the people, only to save their asses in the general election.

A Washington Post article published last evening tells us how chief of staff Mark Meadows and his minions are addressing the pandemic:

As the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows is responsible for coordinating the vast executive branch, including its coronavirus response. But in closed-door meetings, he has revealed his skepticism of the two physicians guiding the anti-pandemic effort, Deborah Birx and Anthony S. Fauci, routinely questioning their expertise, according to senior administration officials and other people briefed on the internal discussions.

Meadows no longer holds a daily 8 a.m. meeting that includes health professionals to discuss the raging pandemic. Instead, aides said, he huddles in the mornings with a half-dozen politically oriented aides — and when the virus comes up, their focus is more on how to convince the public that President Trump has the crisis under control, rather than on methodically planning ways to contain it.

That’s what they are doing with the economic aid, the same damned thing — head fakes to appease their base, pretending to do something constructive when they’re doing nothing but campaigning.

The White House isn’t interested in addressing the pandemic’s economic problems any more than they are interested in addressing the pandemic itself.

That’s why the pretense of doing anything with worthless executive orders — it only needs to snow the media with head games and prop up Trump until the next head fake is required.

Meanwhile, the country continues to burn out of control.

GOP Senate Walked Out of DC for a Reason: Voter Foreclosure, 2020 Edition [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Check the byline, thanks!  Updates at bottom of post. /~Rayne]

Come on, media. You’re still screwing up coverage of BOTH the pandemic economy and the general election.

The bothsides-ism the media clings to so desperately as a norm does not work when one party consistently makes bad choices, or no choices with the same effect as bad choices. There is no bothsides when one side acts in bad faith.

Think about it: making no choice is a choice. Taking no action is a choice. The outcome from no-choice/no-action can be very bad; making no decision to rescue a drowning person yields the victim’s death.

In the case of the stimulus and aid bill, it’s NOT the Democrats in Congress who are the impediment. Stop portraying that way.

Start digging into the why behind the White House and the GOP senators resistance to the economic aid in the bill — money which would be plowed back into the economy and ultimately into their donors’ pockets as profits.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has a bead on one reason: a portion of the investor class wants real estate values to crash so they can sweep in and buy distressed properties.

… The Wall Street Journal recently reported that investors are “preparing for what they believe could be a once-in-a generation opportunity to buy distressed real-estate assets at bargain prices.” This profiteering is far from “once-in-a-generation” though: It’s straight out of private equity’s playbook during the 2008 financial crisis. We all know what happened then: Homeowners targeted by predatory mortgages lost their homes to foreclosure, and private equity swept in to buy those homes at depressed prices. Communities of color were hit fastest and hardest. Just a handful of years after Black homeownership hit its highest point, the devastating waves of foreclosures wiped out nearly all of the growth in Black homeownership since the Fair Housing Act repealed Jim Crow redlining in 1968. …

“Once-in-a generation opportunity”? Meaning an even more dramatic plummet of property values compared to the 2008 crash a dozen years ago?

We can see the crash coming with an impending 30-40 million Americans on the verge of eviction but neither the White House nor the GOP senate feel a sense of urgency. This is NOT bothsides but one, and one which is and has been comfortable with vulture capitalism.

One side led by a man who claimed to be a billionaire based in no small part on his real estate development business.

This no-choice/no-action is intended to both evict roughly 12% of Americans from their homes, forcing their relocation or homelessness, while a small segment of the investor class reaps benefits.

The rest of the investor class which relies on stability in order for consumption to remain constant or increase won’t benefit. Their values will drop off as they did in 2008 during the crash.

Why are the White House and the GOP senate proceeding as if it doesn’t matter if they come to an agreement on the aid and economic stimulus package?

We’ve seen this before, though; the difference was that the crash hadn’t yet been fully set in motion as it is this time with the pandemic.

~ ~ ~

In 2008 with an evenly split Senate, the 110th Congress faffed around from June to early September, happy with irrationally high oil price which were hurting consumers badly while paying inadequate attention to investment banking and credit markets. Congress threw crappy legislation at the problem of subprime mortgages while the financial sector floundered.

When consumers had to choose between paying for gasoline to get to work or paying their crappy adjustable rate mortgage, they paid for the former rather than the latter hoping to catch up on the latter at a later date. But for many consumers there wasn’t a later date — they were foreclosed upon and evicted.

The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 passed in late July 2008 did far too little, far too late, and for the wrong end of the economic food chain.

Congress should have learned from this experience. Some of the GOP senators were in office when the 2008 crash happened. They know better.

In September 2008 as the crash loomed days away, a GOP county party chairman in Michigan admitted to a reporter that the GOP was going to use a list of foreclosed homes and addresses to “make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses.

The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee sued the GOP; the Republican National Committee, Michigan Republican Party, and Macomb County Republican Party settled, acknowledging the existence of an illegal scheme by the Republicans to use mortgage foreclosure lists to deny foreclosure victims their right to vote.

At the time the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division told Congress it would monitor for the use of foreclosure records to contest voters’ ballots though it wouldn’t dispatch DOJ personnel to the polls.

But everything is different under the Trump administration. The GOP may try to use foreclosure records this election because they may be able to get away with it after setting a foreclosure crisis in motion.

The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division is helmed by a Trump appointee; can we be certain they will see the use of foreclosure records the way the Civil Rights Division did in 2008?

A Trump appointee may be the U.S. attorney for each state most at risk — they may be more loyal to Trump and the GOP than to the law.

A Trump appointee may be the judge overseeing any case brought to them about voter foreclosure.

And the GOP is desperate, more so than it was in 2008 because both the White House and the Senate are now at risk if a blue wave sweeps them as a rejection of Trump and his policies.

They’re planning ahead for something, because the GOP has amassed a $20 million legal fund for the election. For what do they need such a big legal fee kitty?

It’s right there in their selection of no-choice/no-action toward economic aid and stimulus.

The entire GOP, from Trump on through the GOP congressional caucus, want to foreclose on Americans’ homes and then their votes.

~ ~ ~

If the media was to stop bothsides-ing their reporting, was to stop treating the GOP’s bad faith as if it were legitimate, the GOP might reverse its position.

Might — don’t hold your breath, though.

For some Americans it’s already too late. They are already behind on rent or mortgage payments, and/or their household isn’t getting enough to eat. Innocent children are suffering for this. Their parents feel compelled to send them to schools which can’t handle COVID-19 conditions because it may mean a meal for their kids they might not get at home.

But the GOP continues to walk away from doing what it takes to ensure American families get the care they need, let alone that the public is able to safely ride out the time between now and an effective vaccine while socially distanced and masked.

The GOP senate caucus has chosen since May to load up their bill with funding for military equipment the public can’t eat or use to pay their mortgage, and let protections against evictions expire without replacement.

The reason is evident in the results, and the media needs to do a better job of holding the one party accountable for them.

Why isn’t there protection against evictions?

Because the GOP — from White House to the Senate — wants evictions and foreclosures.

Why isn’t there financial aid for Americans who have lost their jobs, are behind on their rent, need food?

Because the GOP wants these particular Americans to suffer enough that they are disenfranchised.

Why doesn’t the GOP save the person from drowning?

In the absence of acting to reach for their hand and pull them from the water, we can only assume it’s because the GOP wants the flailing victim dead.

The media needs to stop bothsides journalism and get the GOP on the record. Ask them why they are clinging to funding military spending instead of financial and food aid, why the GOP isn’t preventing evictions and foreclosures with a moratorium.

Ask the GOP whether they are going to attempt to foreclose on voters to save Trump’s ass this November.

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UPDATE-1 — 08-AUG-2020 12:25 P.M. EDT —

Three lies in three minutes. The lie about COVID-19 was bad enough on a day when over 1200 Americans died of the disease. The other two lies though…the GOP senate hadn’t budged yesterday. These two issues, both unemployment benefits and an eviction moratorium, can’t be resolved with an executive order which he doesn’t even claim he’ll try to use.

 

Call it what it is: gaslighting the American public.

I don’t know why his Bedminster course members are willing to pay hundreds of thousands for memberships so they can be gaslighted in person, but rich people do all kinds of stupid shit.

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This is an open thread.

Three Things: Death, Death, and More Death

[NB: Check the byline, thanks! /~Rayne]

By now most folks who pay attention to the intersection of politics and COVID-19 news have heard about Axios’ Jonathan Swan’s interview with Trump.

This is, in my opinion, the key few seconds at 7:25 minutes into the interview:

Trump just doesn’t give a damn about a thousand Americans dying each day or the total number of COVID-19 deaths to date.

“It is what it is.”

As if this wholly preventable mass death event was inevitable.

As if he was powerless to stop it after being warned in November 2019 there was a risk of pandemic due to an unknown pathogen in China.

As if he was powerless to stop it after the risk was communicated in the Presidential Daily Briefing in early January, after Chinese media published stories about an unknown pneumonia-like illness.

As if he was powerless to recover and relaunch the pandemic response team he disbanded in May 2018 after the first case of COVID-19 was identified in the U.S. on January 21.

As if he was powerless to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase production of personal protection equipment and ventilators in the U.S. at any time from January to mid-March to get ahead of the surge in cases he failed to stop.

As if he was powerless to expedite production under the DPA instead doing nothing for months as production floundered and the Federal Emergency Management Agency stole PPE from health care providers for the national stockpile.

Every step along the way Trump failed to do what was necessary to save American lives.

Every action he took when he did take any it was late — like shutting down travel to China, when COVID-19 was already here on the west coast. Or like shutting down travel from Europe in a manner which caused maximum confusion and chaos and likely accelerated an explosion of cases from Europe.

He repeatedly throttled the experts, preventing them from communicating openly what the public needed to know.

He shared bullshit happy talk — it’ll be down to zero, it’ll soon disappear, he said.

He shared dangerously erroneous medical information — like hydroxychloroquine is safe and bleach will kill the virus.

He harassed and harangued blue state governors like “that woman in Michigan” when they had the audacity to demand more from the federal government to deal with COVID-19.

He ignored the threats to these same governors from armed protesters who didn’t want to change their habits to mitigate COVID-19’s spread.

He undermined any and all messaging intended to encourage the public to act responsibly to reduce COVID-19 cases.

Because the entire point has been this non-choice, the no-plan, the void strategy.

Because no choice, no plan, no strategy is a plan. Its outcome is death.

There is no choice on Trump’s part to do anything except play golf.

There is no plan to do anything because Trump is fine with the current outcomes.

There is no strategy because that would interfere with the outcomes.

There is only death, death, and more death.

~ ~ ~

Unless you’re a Trump supporter. Then you would have received an email which said “wearing masks is patriotic.”

And if you’re a Floridian with whom Trump identifies because of his residency and his businesses, you would have read this tweet

For you exceptions Trump will exert himself because you represent something he needs, whether your vote or your campaign contribution or the narcissistic supply you’ll provide him.

Lucky you.

Not so lucky you if you’re a Nevadan because your state only has a tenth of the population of Florida, only six electoral college votes compared to Florida’s 29, only ~280,000 residents age 60 or older, and too many brown people who vote Democratic. Nope, you will not be encouraged to wear masks and voting by mail will be strongly discouraged.

~ ~ ~

And now Trump has denied that COVID-19 can be transmitted to, sicken, and even kill children. Fortunately social media platforms are beginning to wise up:

For the first time, both Facebook and Twitter acted to remove content shared by the campaign to re-elect President Donald Trump from their platforms, citing policies against spreading false claims about COVID-19.

Both the @TeamTrump campaign Twitter account and the official Donald Trump Facebook account shared a video late yesterday in which Trump claimed children are immune from the novel coronavirus. The video was a clip from an interview in which the president spoke by phone with Fox & Friends hosts about schools reopening this fall. “My view is that schools should be open,” Trump said. “If you look at children, children are almost—and I would almost say definitely—but almost immune from this disease. So few, they’ve got stronger, hard to believe, I don’t know how you feel about it, but they have much stronger immune systems than we do somehow for this. They don’t have a problem. They just don’t have a problem. They are virtually immune from this problem.”

COVID-19 may not result in many hospitalizations among children, but we simply do not know how the disease affects them and if the results are long term or permanent. Unlike adult cases there hasn’t been an adequate number of postmortem examinations of children who died of COVID-19, let alone comprehensive follow-up studies given the relative recency of the pandemic.

It’s grossly irresponsible to say children are immune when they do get infected, can become sick, and do spread the virus. From the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Children and COVID-19: State-Level Data Report:

Summary of Findings Reported on 7/30/20:
(Note: Data represent cumulative counts since states began reporting)

Cumulative Number of Child COVID-19 Cases*

  • 338,982 total child COVID-19 cases reported, and children represented 8.8% (338,982/3,835,573) of all cases
  • Overall rate: 447 cases per 100,000 children in the population

Change in Child COVID-19 Cases, 7/16/20 – 7/30/20

  • 97,078 new child cases reported from 7/16-7/30 (241,904 to 338,982), a 40% increase in child cases

But Trump just doesn’t care to do the right thing, keeping American children safe.

Unless that’s the point: He will do the opposite of the right thing.

By actively choosing gross negligence and malfeasance, Trump will ensure not only that American adults continue to sicken and die from COVID-19 but that children will also be increasingly exposed because it’s not the right thing.

He’s going to kill us all.

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This is an open thread.

Killer Clown Attacks American’s Freedoms…and Dr. Fauci

Rep. Jim “Begged Witness Not to Squeal” Jordan went off on Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during the first round of questioning of Friday’s House Select Committee on COVID Oversight hearing.

The point of the hearing was to address the lack of a national strategy to contain COVID-19.

Jordan, as usual, derailed the hearing’s focus to score political points with Trump.

Fauci can’t say that any crowd is better than another at this point, not just because he’s supposed to provide ideology-free advice as a medical professional — not to mention Fauci can’t advocate shutting down an exercise of the First Amendment when Jordan asks “Should we limit the protesting?”

The doctor can’t say anything which would encourage activity in groups even with masks because it’s just too risky right now.

But Jordan, being the circus clown he is, continues to harangue Fauci in pursuit of usable digital content to help Trump’s agenda. Content later used like this idiotic context-sanitized bullshit:

Take a look around the internet; the right-wing horde seized on Jordan’s clown show with ALL CAPS and wrestling-action verbs like EXPOSES, HAMMERS, PRESSES, CRUSHES to describe Jordan’s antics. (Sadly, C-SPAN used “grills” which isn’t neutral.)

Fauci was too nice and too cautious on this point; he could have pointed to Trump’s misbegotten Tulsa campaign rally and Herman Cain’s subsequent death from COVID-19 but he didn’t.

Nor did Fauci refer to the study later submitted to the record which analyzed COVID-19 case counts after anti-racism protests.

The study found the protests did not result in increased COVID-19 cases.

Source:

Dave, Dhaval and Friedson, Andrew and Matsuzawa, Kyutaro and Sabia, Joseph and Safford, Samuel, Black Lives Matter Protests, Social Distancing, and COVID-19 (June 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27408, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3632635

So no, Killer Clown Jordan, protests in the streets against systemic racism in policing by mask-wearing participants do not increase COVID-19 cases or deaths.

If you want to be technical about it, there have been too many anecdotes of events indoors like church choir practices which have resulted in clusters of COVID-19 cases and deaths. These kinds of meetings needed to be outdoors with participants wearing masks, even if socially distanced and washing hands as appropriate. Being indoors was the key problem along with not wearing masks.

But there’s one more problem with the clown show Jordan put on.

What Jordan did with his usual ignorant and loud routine was not to educate the public, not to encourage an improvement in services from NIAID or CDC or Dr. Fauci.

What Jordan did with his typical filibuster is to continue to obstruct development of a national response to COVID-19.

What Jordan did was to continue the political genocide and ethnic cleansing of Americans by ensuring federal services are withheld under a national response to the pandemic.

Jordan denied Americans, particularly those in blue cities and minority communities, honest goods and services to which they are entitled. He’ll get away with it, though, because his circus act will fall under Speech or Debate.

Jim Jordan, killer clown, in name and in fact.

 

This is an open thread.

Three Things: Look Over There, Not at Trump’s Failures [UPDATE-1]

[NB: Updates will appear at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

Trump’s Thursday morning tweet stirred up people more than his average tweets do — which is saying a lot since his average tweets are pretty annoying.

But this one crossed a line by suggesting a potential violation of the Constitution.

This tweet could be taken in isolation, but it really shouldn’t be. There were other things which Trump wanted us to ignore so he lobbed a massive turd in the punch bowl.

From what was he trying to redirect our attention?

~ 3 ~

You probably already know these two facts about COVID-19:

— The U.S. passed the 150,000 benchmark this week; Americans are 23% of the total COVID-19 deaths globally;

— Herman Cain, business man, Tea Party activist, and 2016 GOP presidential candidate died of COVID-19 today after more than a month in ICU. Cain had attended Trump’s Tulsa rally and did not wear a mask.

All these deaths including Herman Cain’s are due to Donald Trump’s gross negligence and malfeasance.

A Vanity Fair article published today also suggests that Trump did nothing about COVID-19 because it initially impacted blue states most heavily.

In other words, Trump committed and continues to commit political genocide.

Herman Cain was collateral damage.

Is it possible that Trump had been informed of Cain’s death before the public was notified, and wanted to get out in front before the public focused heavily on Cain’s death by COVID-19?

~ 2 ~

Economic data released Thursday showed a dramatic -10% drop in quarterly GDP, equivalent to -32.9% annualized rate. It’s the worst drop ever recorded in U.S. GDP.

The unemployment rate tracks with this plummet, with 47.2% Americans unemployed as of the end of June.

None of this had to happen. It was entirely preventable had Trump dealt effectively with COVID-19 beginning in Jan-Feb but killing off blue state voters and blaming their governors was more important to him for his re-election prospects than protecting the country’s economic well being.

~ 1 ~

After multiple repeated attempts to delay or obstruct their release, the Ghislaine Maxwell papers were released as ordered by Judge Loretta Preska on Thursday evening.

Papers can be found via this link to Courtlistener.

Courthouse News’ Adam Klasfeld made a first pass through the documents and filed a report.

In two separate tweets, Klasfeld noted the documents are not entirely new material.

… Multiple documents in the #MaxwellFiles data dump tonight are either old documents or previously released, making the rounds as though new. …

… Some old documents have nuggets of newly unsealed information contained within them, but the files themselves are being rediscovered as though new. …

Also noted: Maxwell lied to the court.

There will be more analysis and more bullshit thrown in the air by the White House and proxies to obscure details in the papers apart from content further compromising former president Bill Clinton and other Democrats like former governor Bill Richardson. You can bet those points will be boosted to fuzz the links between Trump, Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s lawyer Alan Dershowitz, Jeffrey Epstein, and Ghislaine Maxwell.

Some of the obscuring may already have begun with Trump’s fascistic tweet.

~ 0 ~

Trump doesn’t have the power to delay elections. We went all through this back in April when it came up. What should happen now — and we should look for it and insist on it — is that journalists should get every Republican on record about Trump’s election delay tweet.

We as citizens should be asking them as our congressional representatives where they stand on the election delay suggested by Trump, since Congress and not the Executive Branch has the power to delay the election.

We should also check with our state election officials since they can mess with the conduct of the elections. Recall after delaying their primary because of COVID-19, Kentucky shut down all but one voting place for its primary in the most populated portion of Louisville, attributing the change to pandemic safety.

States could do this for the general election which will already have been affected by the U.S. Postal Service’s Trump-crony slow down of first class mail.

Work on this now before the tangerine hellbeast in the White House tweets out something outrageous to throw us off our mission to ensure a safe, secure, and timely general election.

This is an open thread.

UPDATE — 10:00 A.M. ET —

Hearing now underway this morning:

NIAID Director Dr. Fauci along with CDC Director Dr. Redfield & HHS ADM Giroir will appear before Select Committee on COVID Oversight beginning at 9:00am ET to discuss the urgent need for a National Strategy to contain COVID-19.

Live stream at https://youtu.be/YkP1t_2u5B0

Joe Biden must be watching the hearing:

Republicans are doing their best to whitewash Trump’s failures — nauseating, I must say. I do feel for Rep. Walorski (Republican, IN-02) who is trying to discourage anti-vax propaganda with her line of questioning, might be the only GOP questioning of late which hasn’t been intended to prop up Trump.

Ceci N’est Pas La Violence: The Treachery of Chad Wolf

I’ve had this image stuck in my head since the non-lawyer, movie-villainesque Secretary of Homeland Security complained about violence in Portland, Oregon.

In a now-deleted tweet, acting DHS Secretary Wolf posted this with three other photos in which he is looking at graffiti deposited on the federal courthouse’s exterior walls.

Violence, he calls it.

His nonsensical labeling called to mind a surrealist work with which you are likely familiar:

Image: La Traihison des Images (The Treachery of Images) by Rene Magritte, c. 1929, owned by Los Angeles County Museum of Art, via Wikipedia. Displayed here under Fair Use.

Just as this is not a pipe, what Wolf displays in his photos is not violence even if he calls it that. This palimpsest of paint is not “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation.”[1]

It’s graffiti expressing outrage against state violence, a protest not unlike that in December 16, 1773, when protesters demonstrated against the state by tossing tea into Boston Harbor.

Tossing the tea wasn’t violence. It was a protest expressing rejection of oppressive state policies which denied colonists both representation and fair competition in the marketplace.

The graffiti in Portland protests and rejects systematic abuses by police — the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against persons of color which has resulted in higher rates of injury, death, excessive prosecution, and constant low level fear of police.

Wolf has been pushing this ‘graffiti is violence’ argument for days now. You’d think someone with a bachelor’s degree in history would have learned that graffiti is historically anything but violence.

Photo: Ancient Pompeii graffito caricature of a politician, by Zebulon via Wikipedia (CC0)

What destroyed Pompeii wasn’t the graffiti on its walls.

He’s also gone on a right-wing media tour, shifting his language to equate vandalism with terrorism. What horse shit. It wasn’t burning boxes and spray paint which took down the World Trade Center, giving rise the department he now leads.


Wolf has linked protests and vandalism — the latter can’t be blamed solely on protesters in the absence of any investigative effort to determine if agents provocateur were involved — with “violent anarchism,” using that label 72 times in a list of grievances against anti-racism protesters. Again, more bullshit.

It’s amazing how few federal employees and Portland police have been injured amid all this violence Wolf claims has occurred; it’s equally amazing how the streets of Portland continue to function under the pressure of all these anarchists.


Gosh, just look at the devastation — people walking about pandemic-emptied streets unimpeded, minding their own business. Unmarked security forces conducting undocumented warrantless arrests are the answer to this kind of outrageous calm, aren’t they?

Chad Wolf is an idiot who’s damaged what little remained of Homeland Security’s legitimacy. Even employees within DHS have expressed concerns about their mission under Wolf’s questionable leadership.

Wolf certainly isn’t ensuring the security of this country by actively targeting American citizens exercising their First Amendment rights, sending out personnel untrained in crowd control and riot response to deal with amorphous groups’ peaceful protests, armed to the teeth and ready to toss pepper spray and non-lethal loads at the drop of a hat, fomenting violence.


It’s so patently obvious Wolf’s minions have no intention of deescalating tensions and aren’t there to protect federal property but instead to mete out punishment even on passive dissenters. Indeed,Wolf is the source of violence.

This Navy veteran who reminded Wolf’s minions of their oaths put them on notice. Any of these federal employees who are not upholding their oaths by executing unlawful orders and violating civil rights should be investigated and prosecuted. They have personal agency and should be pushing back at Wolf for failing his own oath of office.

Meanwhile, the real work of Homeland Security is given short shrift in order to unlawfully surveil Americans using protests as a pretext to treat citizens like hostile foreign adversaries. This is yet another distortion of words and meaning, shifting the identity of our country’s enemies from intrusive foreign agents and terroristic white supremacists to citizens who have legitimate protests against a system which is killing Americans with impunity.

Seriously, though: is Chad Wolf going to start spying on moms, invading their Facebook groups, Instagram cooking posts, and bookclub blogs to suss their plans this evening?

Is he going to start calling mothers ‘enemies of the people’?

When moms in yoga pants and bike helmets are under attack for protecting peaceful protesters, Wolf needs to stop the word games and ask himself just who the real enemy is, and whose side he’s really on.

As one sign held by a mom read, “Step Off, Chad.”

It’s time for Wolf to go.

 

[1] Definition from The World Health Organization’s World report on violence and health 

Trump’s Rump Coverer’s Other Mission: Militarized Voter Suppression [UPDATE-3]

[NB: Updates at bottom of post. /~Rayne]

We all know Bill Barr has been hard at work covering Trump’s ass since he was sworn in February 14th last year. What a nasty Valentine’s Day present for us.

His lies have been ridiculously egregious, from the manner in which he misled the public about the findings in the Special Counsel’s Report, to his lies to broadcast media about the election.

He’s also obstructed justice by politicizing and obstructing investigations, including removal of personnel overseeing their conduct.

A particularly low point in Barr’s tenure was his deployment of federal personnel to harass and intimidate peaceful protesters so that Trump could get a photo-op, occupying a church without clerical permission so Trump could wave a Bible upside down on camera.

It’s all of a piece, and it’s getting worse.

Federal personnel without clear identification have been snatching people off the street in Portland, Oregon.

Read the entire Twitter thread. This is like Pinochet’s Carabineros de Chile and secret police, disappearing civilians. It’s not clear what has happened to these people who’ve been grabbed — they aren’t Mirandized in public view, they aren’t told why they are being dragged away.

And the state and local government didn’t ask for this federal intervention, just as Mayor Bowser didn’t ask for Barr to deploy Department of Justice personnel in Washington D.C. to ensure Trump could get his obscene photo-op.

Worse, we can’t be certain exactly who it is pulling people off the streets. It could be white nationalists in cosplay.

Why aren’t local law enforcement demanding more accountability from Barr and his Stasi?

Oregon’s Senator Ron Wyden has been asking for answers after federal employees shot unarmed peaceful protesters hitting one in the face:

This is a clear violation of citizens’ First Amendment rights. But Wyden hasn’t yet asked about these secret federal police who are acting without state or local authorization, snatching citizens off the streets.

Trump has been warning/threatening to send federal agents to cities in blue states — this is pointed politicization of law enforcement, and more since these states have not requested federal help in policing protests.

But these Stasi aren’t there to de-escalate tensions. They’re deployed instead to suppress citizens trying to exercise their right to vote, like these National Guard in Philly’s streets on primary election day:

There’s no way around it: Bill Barr is setting up a secret federal security force which may end up working like death squads targeting anyone who protests Trump or his administration, particularly citizens in cities which vote for Democrats.

The threats are getting worse, what with White House press doofus implying Chicago may be targeted next.

Mayor Lightfoot isn’t having any of it, but where is Congress?

Both houses need to address this immediately before it gets any worse. Congress needs to investigate Bill Barr’s use of armed federal personnel who are not clearly identified while policing without the request of states and cities, violating citizens’ rights in the process.

GOP senators may argue they aren’t affected but can they really afford to lose any more votes because Barr overreached and suppressed their voters, too?

There’s enough here apart from Barr’s obstruction of justice that Barr should be impeached and removed from office.

 

UPDATE-1 — 10:00 P.M. ET —

Which agencies? Is it just U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and Customs and Border Protection’s BORTAC or are there more involved so far? We need answers from their leadership about the lack of identification.

Portland’s mayor wants the feds out.

The federal agencies’ presence is not making things better, it’s making things worse.

Perhaps like Trump’s response to COVID-19 that’s the point: it’s about making things worse.

 

UPDATE-2 — 10:45 P.M. ET —

Not getting better. It looks like it’s getting rapidly worse. Somebody in DOJ or DHS want to explain why this vehicle is in Portland?

 

UPDATE-3 — 11:23 P.M. ET —

That’s it? That’s all DHS would provide? The utter arrogance of a department funded by our tax dollars.

Persons garbed like federal agency personnel are kidnapping American citizens off the street without any explanation and this is all the information the feds will share?

Bullshit. Unacceptable.

Happy ‘PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT’ Day! [UPDATE-5]

[NB: Updates at bottom of post. /~Rayne]

We’ve been waiting too long for this day.

Not this day:

But this day:

UPDATE-1 — 11:05 a.m. ET —

A reminder not to get too excited about tax documents being produced before November:

And Rep. Ted Lieu continues to press for expanded inherent contempt powers:

UPDATE-2 — 11:43 a.m. ET —

Could Trump be indicted by Vance’s office before November?

Fingers crossed.

UPDATE-3 — 11:58 a.m. ET —

Yup…and a specific reason why we can’t expect a speedy resolution.

This will have to work its way through the system.

UPDATE-4 — 2:08 p.m. ET —

Rep. Adam Schiff’s take on SCOTUS’ decision:

Another important SCOTUS decision today, which should not be lost to the hubbub over Trump v. Vance:

In a 5-4 decision, the Muscogee tribe of eastern Oklahoma has won in McGirt v. Oklahoma. Justice Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion.

JUSTICE GORSUCH delivered the opinion of the Court.
On the far end of the Trail of Tears was a promise. Forced to leave their ancestral lands in Georgia and Alabama, the Creek Nation received assurances that their new lands in the West would be secure forever. In exchange for ceding “all their land, East of the Mississippi river,” the U. S. government agreed by treaty that “[t]he Creek country west of the Mississippi shall be solemnly guarantied to the Creek Indians.” Treaty With the Creeks, Arts. I, XIV, Mar. 24, 1832, 7 Stat. 366, 368 (1832 Treaty). Both parties settled on boundary lines for a new and “permanent home to the whole Creek nation,” located in what is now Oklahoma. Treaty With the Creeks, preamble, Feb. 14, 1833, 7 Stat.418 (1833 Treaty). The government further promised that “[no] State or Territory [shall] ever have a right to pass laws for the government of such Indians, but they shall be allowed to govern themselves.” 1832 Treaty, Art. XIV, 7 Stat. 368.
Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of federal criminal law. Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word.

The opinion is filled with remarkable little bites which have pointed teeth, like the first sentence in Sect. II:

Start with what should be obvious: Congress established a reservation for the Creeks. In a series of treaties, Congress not only “solemnly guarantied” the land but also “establish[ed] boundary lines which will secure a country and permanent home to the whole Creek Nation of Indians.” 1832 Treaty, Art. XIV, 7 Stat. 368; 1833 Treaty, preamble, 7 Stat. 418. …

Right there, in the text of the law, even.

And then this closing in the last graf of the majority opinion — whew, this seems like a message to another audience altogether:

…If Congress wishes to withdraw its promises, it must say so. Unlawful acts, performed long enough and with sufficient vigor, are never enough to amend the law. To hold otherwise would be to elevate the most brazen and longstanding injustices over the law, both rewarding wrong and failing those in the right.

This decision will likely result in a few death sentences being overturned, according to Sister Helen Prejean.

One might wonder at the impact on the ongoing threat to the Mashpee Reservation.

 
UPDATE-5 —  by Ed Walker, a very long comment

SCOTUS handed down two decisions in cases involving Trump’s tax returns: Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP, the House subpoena case, an Trump v. Vance, the New York State subpoena case. Here are some preliminary thoughts.

1. In both cases SCOTUS is forced to pretend that Trump is a normal President. This is from Vance, discussing Clinton v. Jones, the case about Clinton’s sex life.

The Court recognized that Presidents constantly face myriad demands on their attention, “some private, some political, and some as a result of official duty.” Id., at 705, n. 40. But, the Court concluded, “[w]hile such distractions may be vexing to those subjected to them, they do not ordinarily implicate constitutional . . . concerns.” Ibid.

No one thinks Trump is normal. His only time constraint is his TV schedule, and his need to spend quality time with his friends at Fox News. So, when reading these cases we have to remember that they apply to normal presidents of both parties, mostly, at least we hope so.

2. In Mazars, Roberts says that Congress can only issue subpoenas in pursuit of information needed for legislative purposes. Therefore, the only issue is whether this subpoena exceeds the authority of the House, considering that it makes demands on a different branch of government. SCOTUS makes up some considerations for balancing the need for information with the demands on the President. This makes sense in the normal run of things. As the Courts says, prior demands have been resolved without the courts. However a normal President doesn’t hide his tax returns, and doesn’t have significant business dealings with traditional enemies of the US.

This case exposes the Democrats as failures. They had information suggesting that Trump or his businesses or both had extensive business dealings with Russians, including some connected to Putin, and had reason to suspect that those relationships affected his official actions towards Russia. Two obvious points: Trump ignored and denied Russian meddling in US elections; and Mike Flynn explicit kowtowed to Putin over sanctions. Why wasn’t this the explicit rationale for the subpoena for his transactions with Deutsche Bank, which is thought to be the vehicle for those transactions. The grounds would be impeachment, which is a power solely reserved for Congress, and one in which the role of SCOTUS would be severely reduced.

This was a specific decision by Speaker Pelosi and the rest of the House Leadership Gerontocracy. Pelosi resisted demands for an investigation of the lies of the Bush/Cheney administration that led to the sickening attack on Iraq. She resisted any effort at serious investigation of Trump, and had to be forced into investigating the extortion of Ukraine.

3. The underlying problem in Mazars is the weakness of Congress. Trump and his contemptible lackeys refuse to cooperate with Congress. Bill Barr thinks the President has absolute authority, and can ignore Congress.

The Constitution provides that each house sets its own rules. Each house could easily set up its own rules about subpoenas and enforcement of subpoenas. One possibility would be that an administrative official who refused to comply with a subpoena could be held in contempt, and then that person and all underlings would lose all authority to act under any law or regulation.

4. The delay issue in Vance is similar. We’ve wasted a year on arguments that had no possibility of success except in the minds of Presidential absolutists. Now we can expect Trump to move to quash the Vance subpoena in New York state courts, starting the whole thing over. Neal Katyal disagrees; he thinks the matter can be settled quickly in New York courts. We’ll see.

5. Trump has damaged America and Americans while this case stumbled along. One obvious remedy is a law that Congressional subpoenas are deemed enforceable by Congress unless there is a final court decision within a short period, say two months. Current court rules ignore the speed with which legal matters can be handled with the internet. Legal research is easier and quicker, filing is trivial, and video-conferencing solves all travel and scheduling problems. The rest of us have had to speed up. So should Courts.

The Fourth Ahead and The Forgotten

Yeah, I know, you just want to get your holiday on. We’re all suffering from pandemic fatigue which makes everything we do more challenging.

We can’t just hop in the car and go to the store without planning ahead — not merely shopping lists but whether you have a mask, a backup mask, hand sanitizer, a container of sanitizing wipes, something in which to corral potentially contaminated items, so on. Our lives have become complicated if we’re taking the risk of COVID-19 seriously.

And we want a break from it. We want a slice of normalcy — a cold beverage in hand, burgers on the grill, fireworks overhead, fireflies after dark, family and friends all around us. And we want it now.

Some of us, though, won’t get these things. Some of us have been forgotten.

Some Americans will have to spend the coming Fourth of July holiday in a place we thought we’d have left by now, watching out for deadly attacks we thought were going to diminish.

Some Americans will have to “celebrate” knowing the commander-in-chief simply doesn’t give a rat’s butt about them. Certainly not enough to deal with pushing back at threats against them. They will have to spend the holiday doubling down on security because the president is going to do nothing except his usual nonsensical bullshit talking about himself.

Which is why some of the rest of us Americans can’t let them be forgotten. We need to continue to hold our elected officials’ feet to the fire no matter whether a holiday lies ahead. We need to insist the GOP senators who have majority control whether they are going to simply roll over and do nothing like Trump, or if they are going to uphold their oaths, do their damned jobs, and remember our service members in Afghanistan and elsewhere who have likewise sworn an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution and protect our nation.

~ ~ ~

Here’s your action item, same as posted a couple days ago:

— If you have a GOP senator(s), call their office and ask for a statement from the senator about the Russian bounties on our troops in Afghanistan. Where do they stand? What action will the senator take?

— Share the results of your call here in the comments.

Congressional switchboard number is (202) 224-3121. Or you can look up their local office number at https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact. You can also use Resistbot and ask them to respond but this will much slower than a phone call.

Here are all the GOP senators; note the ones especially who are Class II running for re-election this year. Contact only your own senator — they represent you, after all — and share what you hear from their office.

Special note to Floridians and Kentuckyians: Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and other leaders in the U.S. intelligence community are supposed to brief the “Gang of Eight” today about the Russian bounties. Feedback from Sens. Rubio and McConnell will be of particular interest for this reason.

Senator First Name Party State Class Position
Class I – 2024
Scott Rick R FL I
Braun Mike R IN I
Hawley Josh R MO I
Wicker Roger R MS I
Cramer Kevin R ND I
Fischer Deb R NE I
Blackburn Marsha R TN I
Cruz Ted R TX I
Romney Mitt R UT I
Barrasso John R WY I
Class II – 2020
Sullivan Dan R AK II
Cotton Tom R AR II
Gardner Cory R CO II
Perdue David R GA II Called, but no comment to date.
Ernst Joni R IA II
Risch Jim R ID II
Roberts Pat R KS II [1]
McConnell Mitch R KY II Gang of Eight member
Cassidy Bill R LA II
Collins Susan R ME II
Hyde-Smith Cindy R MS II
Daines Steve R MT II
Tillis Thom R NC II https://twitter.com/SenThomTillis/status/1277629794167984132
Sasse Ben R NE II
Inhofe James R OK II
Graham Lindsey R SC II
Rounds Mike R SD II
Alexander Lamar R TN II [2]
Cornyn John R TX II
Capito Shelley Moore R WV II
Enzi Mike R WY II [3]
McSally Martha R AZ III [4]
Class III – 2022
Murkowski Lisa R AK III
Shelby Richard R AL III
Boozman John R AR III
Rubio Marco R FL III Gang of Eight member
Loeffler Kelly R GA III Called, but no comment to date.
Grassley Chuck R IA III
Crapo Michael R ID III
Young Todd R IN III
Moran Jerry R KS III
Paul Rand R KY III
Kennedy John R LA III
Blunt Roy R MO III
Burr Richard R NC III
Hoeven John R ND III
Portman Rob R OH III
Lankford James R OK III
Toomey Pat R PA III
Scott Tim R SC III
Thune John R SD III
Lee Mike R UT III
Johnson Ron R WI III

[1] Retiring in 2020. Seat open.
[2] Retiring in 2020. Seat open.
[3] Retiring in 2020. Seat open.
[4] Appointed to fill John McCain’s seat, running in 2020.

~ ~ ~

These are the forgotten Americans. There are families including children who won’t see them or hear from them this coming holiday, let alone ever again. At least two young Americans will never, ever have seen them for any holiday.

22. Jan. 2019 Army Sgt. 1st Class Joshua “Zach” Beale, 32, killed by small-arms fire in southern Uruzgan province. https://www.stripes.com/news/fort-bragg-green-beret-killed-in-action-was-on-third-tour-in-afghanistan-1.565656
22. Mar. 2019 Army Sgt. 1st Class Will D. Lindsay, 33, Cortez, Colo., died after being wounded during combat in northern Kunduz province. https://www.stripes.com/news/us/defense-department-identifies-two-soldiers-killed-in-afghanistan-1.574044
22. Mar. 2019 Army Sgt. Joseph P. Collette, 29, Lancaster, Ohio, died of wounds sustained in combat operations in northern Kunduz province. https://www.stripes.com/news/us/defense-department-identifies-two-soldiers-killed-in-afghanistan-1.574044
8. Apr. 2019 Marine Sgt. Robert A. Hendriks, 25, was one of three Marines killed by a car bomb outside Bagram Airfield. https://www.stripes.com/news/middle-east/marines-killed-in-afghanistan-blast-died-only-days-before-they-were-to-come-home-1.576402/cpl-robert-hendriks-1.576470
8. Apr. 2019 Marine Staff Sgt. Benjamin S. Hines, 31, of York, Pa., died in a car bomb explosion outside Bagram Airfield. https://www.stripes.com/news/middle-east/marines-killed-in-afghanistan-blast-died-only-days-before-they-were-to-come-home-1.576402/cpl-robert-hendriks-1.576470
8. Apr. 2019 Marine Staff Sgt. Christopher K.A. Slutman, 43, was killed by a car bomb outside Bagram Airfield. https://www.stripes.com/news/middle-east/marines-killed-in-afghanistan-blast-died-only-days-before-they-were-to-come-home-1.576402/cpl-robert-hendriks-1.576470
6. May. 2019 Army Spc. Miguel L. Holmes, 22, died in eastern Nangarhar province from wounds sustained in a noncombat incident. https://www.stripes.com/news/middle-east/pentagon-identifies-soldier-who-died-monday-in-afghanistan-1.580080
25. May. 2019 Army Sgt. James G. Johnston, 24, was killed by small-arms fire in southern Uruzgan province. https://www.stripes.com/news/us/fort-carson-green-beret-fort-hood-eod-soldier-killed-in-afghanistan-firefight-1.587825
25. Jun. 2019 Army Master Sgt. Micheal B. Riley, 32, was killed by small-arms fire in southern Uruzgan province. https://www.stripes.com/news/us/fort-carson-green-beret-fort-hood-eod-soldier-killed-in-afghanistan-firefight-1.587825
30. Jun. 2019 Army Sgt. 1st Class Elliott J. Robbins, 31, a Green Beret medical sergeant from Utah, died from noncombat injuries in southern Helmand province. https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2019/07/01/10th-group-green-beret-dies-from-non-combat-incident-in-helmand/
23. Jul. 2019 Army Sgt. Maj. James “Ryan” Sartor, 40, died from injuries sustained by enemy fire in northern Faryab province. https://www.stripes.com/news/middle-east/pentagon-identifies-green-beret-killed-in-afghanistan-1.590174
29. Jul. 2019 Army Spc. Michael Isaiah Nance, 24, of Chicago, died after being shot by an Afghan soldier at a military camp in southern Uruzgan province. https://www.stripes.com/news/us/the-worst-day-in-our-family-s-history-grieving-uncle-says-of-chicago-soldier-killed-in-combat-in-afghanistan-1.592728
29. Jul. 2019 Army Pfc. Brandon Jay Kreischer, 20, died after an Afghan solider opened fire at a base in southern Uruzgan province. [Never saw his son.] https://www.stripes.com/news/middle-east/pentagon-names-two-paratroopers-killed-during-insider-attack-in-afghanistan-1.592589
21. Aug. 2019 Army Master Sgt. Luis F. DeLeon-Figueroa, 31, was one of two Green Berets killed in northern Faryab province by small-arms fire. https://www.stripes.com/news/one-of-the-toughest-kids-i-ve-ever-met-families-mourn-green-berets-killed-in-afghanistan-1.595504
21. Aug. 2019 Army Master Sgt. Jose J. Gonzalez, 35, of La Puente, Calif., was killed during a raid alongside Afghan special forces in southern Faryab province. https://www.stripes.com/news/us/green-beret-killed-in-afghanistan-last-week-was-veteran-of-seven-deployments-1.596136
29. Aug. 2019 Army Sgt. 1st Class Dustin Ard, 31, died of wounds received in combat in southern Zabul province. [Never saw his second child.] https://www.stripes.com/news/middle-east/green-beret-killed-in-combat-in-afghanistan-leaves-behind-daughter-pregnant-wife-1.596656
5. Sep. 2019 Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, 34, from Morovis, Puerto Rico, died in a suicide blast in Kabul. https://www.stripes.com/news/army/soldier-killed-in-afghanistan-was-compassionate-leader-say-those-who-knew-him-1.597820
16. Sep. 2019 Army Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy W. Griffin, 40, was killed by small-arms fire in central Wardak province. https://www.stripes.com/news/us/army-identifies-green-beret-killed-by-small-arms-fire-in-afghanistan-1.599290
20. Nov. 2019 Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kirk Fuchigami Jr., 25, was killed in a helicopter crash. The incident happened in eastern Logar province. https://www.stripes.com/news/army/fallen-army-pilot-laid-to-rest-with-full-military-honors-1.610573
20. Nov. 2019 Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 David C. Knadle, 33, was killed in a helicopter crash while providing security to ground troops in eastern Logar province. https://www.stripes.com/news/apache-pilot-killed-in-afghanistan-gladly-and-willingly-accepted-risks-of-deploying-family-and-friends-say-1.609718
23. Dec. 2019 Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Goble, 33, was killed in a roadside bombing in northern Kunduz province. https://www.stripes.com/news/army/special-forces-soldier-killed-in-afghanistan-remembered-as-the-definition-of-a-patriot-1.612394
11. Jan. 2020 Staff Sgt. Ian P. McLaughlin, 29, Newport News, Virginia, killed by an improvised explosive device. https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2020/01/12/soldiers-killed-by-bomb-blast-in-kandahar-identified/
11. Jan. 2020 Pfc. Miguel A. Villalon, 21, Joliet, Illinois, killed by an improvised explosive device. https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2020/01/12/soldiers-killed-by-bomb-blast-in-kandahar-identified/
27. Jan. 2020 Lt. Col. Paul K. Voss, 46, Yigo, Guam, killed in crash of an E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node aircraft in eastern Afghanistan. https://www.airforcemag.com/dod-identifies-airmen-killed-in-e-11-crash/
27. Jan. 2020 Capt. Ryan S. Phaneuf, 30, Hudson, N.H., killed in crash of an E-11A Battlefield Airborne Communications Node aircraft in eastern Afghanistan. https://www.airforcemag.com/dod-identifies-airmen-killed-in-e-11-crash/
8. Feb. 2020 Sgt. Javier Jaguar Gutierrez, 28, killed in an insider attack in Nangarhar province. https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2020/02/08/report-says-multiple-us-troops-killed-in-afghanistan-firefight/
8. Feb. 2020 Sgt. Antonio Rey Rodriguez, 28, killedin an insider attack in Nangarhar province. https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2020/02/08/report-says-multiple-us-troops-killed-in-afghanistan-firefight/

Though not all of these service members may have been killed by Taliban for bounty money, they all deserve to be remembered. Their families, friends, and fellow service members deserve answers. All Americans deserve answers, accountability, and action.

When did Trump get a Presidential Daily Briefing on these bounties and what was his response that day? Why didn’t the Commander-in-Chief take action after the intelligence community learned Russia had offered bounties on U.S. service members? Why have we heard multiple different excuses — didn’t hear about, wasn’t credible, didn’t rise to level of action, it’s a hoax — rather than the truth about what happened in the executive office when this intelligence was brought to Trump’s attention?

What action will the Senate take, because the Senate under a GOP majority possesses the deciding votes for any action to be taken?

We need to do our part now to ensure a democracy. We shouldn’t need to take an oath the way every service member and member of Congress and the president do to achieve this aim. We only need to take a few minutes before the Fourth of July holiday to do it. Let’s roll.

Three Things: There Is Really Only One Thing

My schedule is a mess today, as messy as my sleep last night. I don’t think I’ve lost as much sleep about COVID-19 in the last handful of months as I have since Friday about these Russian bounties on troops.

Because I’m out of sorts from lack of sleep I don’t have a lot organized to share here in three discrete subjects. It’s ultimately all one thing: Donald J. Trump needs to be removed from office for abuse of power and dereliction of duty.

The Washington Post’s article published Sunday evening made it very clear numerous people knew about the bounties and that nothing had been done about them:

Russian bounties offered to Taliban-linked militants to kill coalition forces in Afghanistan are believed to have resulted in the deaths of several U.S. service members, according to intelligence gleaned from U.S. military interrogations of captured militants in recent months.

Several people familiar with the matter said it was unclear exactly how many Americans or coalition troops from other countries may have been killed or targeted under the program. U.S. forces in Afghanistan suffered a total of 10 deaths from hostile gunfire or improvised bombs in 2018, and 16 in 2019. Two have been killed this year. In each of those years, several service members were also killed by what are known as “green on blue” hostile incidents by Afghan security forces who are sometimes believed to have been infiltrated by the Taliban.

Multiple interrogations. Multiple people familiar.

Zero action taken.

And along with multiple U.S. service members dead, an unknown number of allies’ troops, contractors, and civilians killed.

If Trump genuinely believed in getting out of Afghanistan through an effective peace agreement, this is its opposite even with a partial American force draw down. It’s how a country becomes even more destabilized and how its violence will spill over and follow U.S. and coalition partners home.

Trump had no problem with Putin stabbing him in the back because it was Putin, and he never has anything negative to say about Putin.

A little after midnight The New York Times published another article, this time expanding the period of time Trump should have known about Russia’s bounties to February 2019, along with the period of time in which Trump took zero action.

Three U.S. service members were killed in a blast last April, attributed to Taliban motivated by the Russian bounties.

Trump was notified at least once in a Presidential Daily Briefing in ample time to do something.

The excuses offered by the White House have been little more than variants of “The dog ate my homework.”

All bullshit.

The response has been just as stupid and ugly — offering Congressional Republicans a briefing first, allowing them to coordinate a response to cover the White House’s wretchedness.

But here’s the rub: nothing Trump, his evil minions in the White House, his useless family, his political party can do will explain away the lack of interest in protecting national security.

Because while the intelligence about the Russian bounties lay around collecting dust, at the very same goddamned time, Trump and his minions were busy working on developing a quid pro quo aimed at Ukraine.

Trump spent more time focused on using the power of the executive office to shake down Ukraine, harassing faithful federal employees like former ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, in order to get himself re-elected to the job he refuses to do.

He put more effort into a couple of phone calls to Ukraine’s president.

More effort into halting shipments of arms to Ukraine.

More effort bitching about a whistleblower.

And zero effort into addressing his buddy Putin’s bounties on U.S. troops.

Donald J. Trump is a threat to this nation because he cannot and will not do anything to protect this country unless it’s about him.

More than 130,000 Americans have now died because of this immutable truth: 3000 Puerto Rican Americans, an untold number of American troops, and at least 128,000 COVID-19 victims are dead because Trump is absolutely useless for anything but golf and grifting from taxpayers.

He is unfit for the office of the presidency.

He must be removed from office.

~ ~ ~

But Trump is not the only failure. Every GOP senator who voted not to convict him this January is responsible for this debacle. American blood is on their hands having enabled Trump’s continuing incompetence and malignance because they were worried about him tweeting mean things at them.

They should be worried about their asses meeting the wrath of the American public.

We can start by demanding better of the GOP senators who we will be forced to live with for another two to four years. Find out where they stand on Trump’s failure to protect the troops.

And if one of the following senators up for re-election is your senator, vote them out of office. Vote for a Democrat to replace the two open seats because no matter who wins the White House, we need a veto-proof majority in the Senate to fix this mess.

Senator First Name Party State
Ernst Joni R IA
Perdue David R GA
Sasse Ben R NE
Cotton Tom R AR
Daines Steve R MT
Rounds Mike R SD
Cornyn John R TX
Enzi Mike R WY
Inhofe James R OK
Cassidy Bill R LA
McConnell Mitch R KY
Risch Jim R ID
Sullivan Dan R AK
Tillis Thom R NC
Gardner Cory R CO
Graham Lindsey R SC
Capito Shelley Moore R WV
Collins Susan R ME
Hyde-Smith (1) Cindy R MS
McSally (2) Martha R AZ
Loeffler (3) Kelly Lynn R GA
Roberts (4) Pat R KS
Alexander (5) Lamar R TN

(1) Appointed to fill Thad Cochran’s seat, expected to run in 2020
(2) Appointed to fill John McCain’s seat, running in 2020
(3) Appointed to fill Johnny Isakson’s seat, running in 2020
(4) Retiring in 2020. Seat open.
(5) Retiring in 2020. Seat open.

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