A Picture Worth Far Fewer Than a Thousand Words

Masket Trump

Charlotte Klein writes,

On Twitter, Trump allies gushed about the president wearing a mask, effectively applauding him for doing the right thing—the bare minimum—amid the coronavirus spikes. Campaign advisers Boris Epshteyn and Jason Miller seemed to see Trump’s move as a political victory, captioning a photo of a masked Trump with “Joe Biden is finished” and “Goodnight, @JoeBiden.”

Yessiree, a brilliant tactical victory, all right.

Screen Shot 2020-07-12 at 4.34.04 PM

Insanity on a Sunday Afternoon

Politico, Trump isn’t secretly winking at QAnon. He’s retweeting its followers: There were 14 retweets on July 4th. And those around Trump are even more explicit. It’s giving a boost to the sprawling, Trump-centric conspiracy movement.

As Orange Man becomes ever more bonkers in the bunker, a screaming WaPo headline informs us that Coronavirus update: Florida shatters single-day infection record with 15,300 new cases

Meanwhile, there is talk of selecting Tucker Carlson as the 2024 presidential candidate of the White Grievance Party, formerly known as the Republican Party. Eric Wemple’s reporting shows that he would be a perfect, perfect fit.

And, as icing on the cake, there is news from Sweden, home of the herd immunity theory. Daily Kos, Those right-wingers who praised Sweden’s response to COVID-19 are looking pretty stupid now

Like Trump, the Swedish authorities saw a false dichotomy between “economy” and “safety.” Like him, they picked economy over safety. Their death rate is astronomical. And, because “the human will to survive is greater than their will to shop,” the Swedish economy is in the shits. Having thought they had to choose between economy and safety, they got screwed on both counts.

And, don’t let us forget, Trump’s coronavirus approval rating is sinking like a stone. That would probably have something to do with the fact that “the human will to survive is greater than the will to shop.”

Special Counsel Mueller Would Like to Set the Record Straight

liar

Mr. Mueller writes,

The work of the special counsel’s office — its report, indictments, guilty pleas and convictions — should speak for itself. But I feel compelled to respond both to broad claims that our investigation was illegitimate and our motives were improper, and to specific claims that Roger Stone was a victim of our office. The Russia investigation was of paramount importance. Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.

Russia’s actions were a threat to America’s democracy. It was critical that they be investigated and understood. By late 2016, the FBI had evidence that the Russians had signaled to a Trump campaign adviser that they could assist the campaign through the anonymous release of information damaging to the Democratic candidate. And the FBI knew that the Russians had done just that: Beginning in July 2016, WikiLeaks released emails stolen by Russian military intelligence officers from the Clinton campaign. Other online personas using false names — fronts for Russian military intelligence — also released Clinton campaign emails.

Following FBI Director James B. Comey’s termination in May 2017, the acting attorney general named me as special counsel and directed the special counsel’s office to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The order specified lines of investigation for us to pursue, including any links or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump campaign. One of our cases involved Stone, an official on the campaign until mid-2015 and a supporter of the campaign throughout 2016. Stone became a central figure in our investigation for two key reasons: He communicated in 2016 with individuals known to us to be Russian intelligence officers, and he claimed advance knowledge of WikiLeaks’ release of emails stolen by those Russian intelligence officers.

In 2019, The Post’s editorial board argued the president tried to manipulate the justice system, wrongdoing that Congress must not let go. (The Washington Post)

We now have a detailed picture of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. The special counsel’s office identified two principal operations directed at our election: hacking and dumping Clinton campaign emails, and an online social media campaign to disparage the Democratic candidate. We also identified numerous links between the Russian government and Trump campaign personnel — Stone among them. We did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government in its activities. The investigation did, however, establish that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome. It also established that the campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and released through Russian efforts.

Uncovering and tracing Russian outreach and interference activities was a complex task. The investigation to understand these activities took two years and substantial effort. Based on our work, eight individuals pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial, and more than two dozen Russian individuals and entities, including senior Russian intelligence officers, were charged with federal crimes.

Congress also investigated and sought information from Stone. A jury later determined he lied repeatedly to members of Congress. He lied about the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks. He lied about the existence of written communications with his intermediary. He lied by denying he had communicated with the Trump campaign about the timing of WikiLeaks’ releases. He in fact updated senior campaign officials repeatedly about WikiLeaks. And he tampered with a witness, imploring him to stonewall Congress.

The jury ultimately convicted Stone of obstruction of a congressional investigation, five counts of making false statements to Congress and tampering with a witness. Because his sentence has been commuted, he will not go to prison. But his conviction stands.

Russian efforts to interfere in our political system, and the essential question of whether those efforts involved the Trump campaign, required investigation. In that investigation, it was critical for us (and, before us, the FBI) to obtain full and accurate information. Likewise, it was critical for Congress to obtain accurate information from its witnesses. When a subject lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government’s efforts to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable. It may ultimately impede those efforts.

We made every decision in Stone’s case, as in all our cases, based solely on the facts and the law and in accordance with the rule of law. The women and men who conducted these investigations and prosecutions acted with the highest integrity. Claims to the contrary are false.

How Popular is the Hoax Hoax?

Virus Sharpie

Trump has tried to talk the virus away with happy talk, magical thinking, and perpetrating a hoax hoax.

How popular is the approach?

In polling taken on June 22-23, “37% of Americans approved of the way Trump has responded to the pandemic … Fifty-eight percent said they disapproved.” That, by the way, would be the Reuters/Ipsos poll. And that would be twenty days ago.

Yesterday saw the release of an ABC News/Ipson poll. The 37 percent approval number had dwindled to 33 percent. The 58 percent disapproval number had risen to 67 percent?

Two thirds of the country have now grasped that Trump is killing them.

They Didn’t Become Plutocrats by Throwing Good Money After Bad

Mono Man

NOR ARE THEY PEOPLE LIKELY TO FALL FOR THE HOAX HOAX

William D. Cohen reports—and I certainly hope it’s true—that “THEY’RE SAYING, ‘WE’D LIKE TO SEE BIDEN CRUSH TRUMP’”: FOR SOME ON WALL STREET BEATING TRUMP IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN MONEY:

Most of Wall Street, it seems, is happily preparing for a Joe Biden victory in November. “The majority of my friends on Wall Street would like to see Trump lose to Biden,” one very senior investment banker tells me. “They’re saying, ‘We’d like to see Biden crush Trump.’” And that is without knowing exactly what Biden and the 117th Congress—to be elected on November 3—will do about such important economic topics such as the corporate tax rate, the capital gains tax rate, or taxes on the wealthiest Americans. The consensus on Wall Street seems to be that a Biden presidency will mean an overhaul of the Trump 2018 tax law. That means higher tax rates for the very wealthy, for corporations—likely an increase in the tax rate to 28%, from 21%—and on capital gains.

At a virtual fundraiser on June 29 with Wall Street types, Biden said he’ll likely roll back much of Trump’s $2 trillion tax cut “and a lot of you may not like that.” Interestingly, in my conversations with Wall Street executives, bankers and traders, higher taxes seems to be a small price to pay to be rid of Donald Trump. “Wall Street’s not this amorphous, unified blob,” the senior Wall Street banker continues, “but the majority of people I talk to on Wall Street think it’s worth taking the hit to get Trump out of office. They view him as an existential threat.”

 

The Hoax Hoax and the Mississippi Legislature

Democraticv Hoax

Dear Fellow Rednecks,

I regret to inform you that you have been victimized by a great hoax. I also regret to inform you that the perpetrators of this horrific hoax were not the Lamestream Media, not the liberal Democrats, not Bill Gates, and not George Soros and the Rhymes-With-You-Know-Whos. (Hint: they killed a famous religious figure.)

No, ladies and germs, the perpetrators of the great hoax—that would be the hoax that is now threatening your lives—were in fact Donald Trump and Faux News. And the great hoax about which they informed you is itself a hoax. You have been had. You have been well and truly screwed, blued, and tattooed.

This morning, I am indebted to old friend Vasari for pointing me to this news: CNN, Dozens of Mississippi lawmakers have coronavirus aafter weeks of refusing to wear masks.

I bear them no ill will. I wish them all a speedy recovery.

But whatever my wishes may be, I cannot keep them from suffering the consequences of their willful choice not to use their reason and to be guided by science.

The Hoax Hoax: the consequences are coming soon to a city or town near you.

A Candle for Saint Isidore

St Isidore

I was off the internet for a couple of days, until I figured out how to get back on. And so, today, I light a candle for Saint Isidore of Seville.

Saint Isidore (560-636), archbishop of Seville, wrote a famous encyclopedia containing all of human knowledge, as of the seventh century. Most of it was wrong.

Saint Isidore is, of course, the patron saint of the internet.

And so, Saint Isidore, this candle is for you.

candle

American Exceptionalism

Exceptionalism

Had some email exchanges this morning with Hans, who lives on the other side of the pond. Always informative. We have put together this little chart comparing covid-19 in our respective home places.

  Deaths per 100,000 population—Hans’s Home Deaths per 100,000 population—Arius’s Home
County 1.2 22
State 7.6 27
Country 10.9 34

 

An Idiocy, Wrapped in a Stupidity, Inside an Act of Flop Sweated Desperation

So, I was watching the TV, when I saw this ad. The channel I was watching was MSNBC.

Just exactly how many MSNBC viewers does Orange Man think are going to vote for him because they watched this ad?

Moreover, in the remote event that any gettable Trump voters happened to be watching MSNBC on that occasion—and they would surely have been as scarce as hens’ teeth—wouldn’t you want to appeal to them by some quasi-plausible claim, like “Back before the pandemic, the economy was really good under Trump”? Not the kind of horseshit only a learning challenged eight year old might possibly entertain.

Finally, ladies and germs, please note that I live in a Red State. How stupid, and how desperate, is it to be caught advertising nonsense to the urban audience of the largest city in a Red State that, a few months ago, looked as if it were going for Orange Man anyway?

Trump’s in Deep Doodoo, But Not to Worry, ‘Cause the Market’s Doing Really Well

monopoly animated

Axios, Wall Street is no longer betting on Trump

Good news: the market is up, despite (because?) they now expect Trump to fall down the crapper.

More good news: if you are a busy hedge fund manager—or maybe a mom working from home while trying to tutor your three brats, I mean beautiful children—Axios lets you know that their article only takes two minutes to read. If you are a slow reader.

And, Speaking of Orange Man’s deep doodoo, Greg Sargent lets us know that helium balloons still rise and water still flows downhill:

For many weeks, the basic story that President Trump told the country — and himself — went like this: The only thing restraining us from roaring back to greatness is the oppressive restrictiveness of overzealous officials, mostly Democratic governors and pointy-headed health experts.

In this narrative, by tweeting things such as “LIBERATE MICHIGAN,” Trump aligned himself with the proposition that once lockdowns were lifted, Americans chafing to resume normal activity would instantly do so by the millions, unleashing a miraculous “V-shaped recovery.”

CNN reports that Trump allies and top Republicans are “only now coming to the realization” that mask-wearing will be key to containing the coronavirus’s resurgence. With cases rampaging once again, White House officials are “discussing taking a more active role in encouraging masks.”

Now gaze upon this, and try not to slam your head violently into the nearest wall:

The bungled response has caused grave damage to the President’s political outlook — with his reluctance on masks only deepening the impression that Trump is not taking the pandemic seriously. Many of Trump’s closest allies now say in private that wearing a mask in public could help him appear more attuned to the crisis.

They fear his failure to do so — and to encourage his supporters to follow suit — could threaten the economic recovery Trump is counting on to fuel his reelection, because further outbreaks could roll back the reopenings he desperately needs to have a chance in November.

Do You, Like Me, Hear a Non-Barking Dog Here?

Like maybe these “top Republicans” don’t give two hoots about whether their delusional base actually lives or dies?

Well, I’m Really Glad They Set the Record Straight on That One

WaPo, McEnany defends Trump’s view on Confederate flag by claiming he doesn’t have one

Meanwhile, in Other News

Meanwhile, in other news, depicted below is Republican National Committee spokespuppet Liz Harrington, who has fallen onto her fainting couch, aghast at Joe Biden’s brazen argument that all people are created equal, not just all men.

fainting couch

I Think We Need to Tell the Women About This, Don’t You?

woman katsup

Someone named Liz Harrington—described as [a][the] spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee—has found a new reason to be incensed at the perfidy of Joe Biden. It is this, and I quote:

His party is trying to rewrite history, tear it all down. It’s very fitting that Joe Biden, in this op ed, has the audacity to literally rewrite the greatest foundational document in the history of mankind — the Declaration of Independence. His woke staffers changed it to, not all “men are created equal,” all “people are created equal,” and are guaranteed equality throughout life.

We should make sure that the 17 college-educated women in the whole country who still call themselves Republicans are fully informed of this shocking development.

The New Moloch: “Trump Will Accept a ‘Steay’ Few Hundred Coronavirus Deaths a Day as the Cost of His Reelection”

Moloch

Philip Bump writes,

So we get the administration’s new approach to the pandemic, one which resembles the final moments of a climactic battle scene in an action movie. The protagonist, after fending off enemy after enemy, sees the finish line in sight. So he puts his shoulder down and makes a mad rush for perceived safety. In this case, the finish line is Election Day. In this case, the enemy is Americans who’ve died of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. …

The alternative to accepting even a “low and steady” rate of deaths (as Trump described the 3,300 deaths that have occurred in the past week) is addressing the pandemic through additional closures and restrictions on movement. The sort of activity that helped push down new infections in April and May — and that Trump prematurely rejected in hopes that the virus was sufficiently contained that normal economic activity could resume. That push to get back to normal is a significant reason the pandemic is getting worse, not better.

But Trump, looking at Election Day, clearly thinks that the economic slowdown from containing the virus will hurt his reelection chances more than a “steady” rate of hundreds of daily deaths from elderly or at-risk people, a disproportionate number of whom are nonwhite. So he puts his shoulder down, picks day-to-day messaging battles that distract from the pandemic, and charges forward.

What he may not recognize is that the death toll may not stay steady — and that he’s farther from the finish line than it might seem.

Please Hold That Thought

lolcat hold that thought

Jonathan V. Last gazes into his crystal ball, asking whether the Republican Party will return to sanity any time soon. Answer: no, probably not. He writes,

For starters, you’d have to believe that Donald Trump is going to disappear and decline to exercise any dynastic ambitions. This would run counter to information already in evidence about the Trump family.

Next, you’d have to believe that there were places in the party for non-Trumpy, non-conspiracy crazy, non-nationalists to get footholds. Well, here is a fun fact from Dave Wasserman: When Trump took office there were 241 R’s in the House; 115 of them have resigned, been defeated, or retired/are retiring.

What’s left of the elected party will be the Trumpiest parts.

The biggest factor, though, is what Republican voters actually want. And the evidence keeps piling up that the Republican party today is reasonably representative of voter preferences. Nearly half the GOP is against wearing masks in public. Less than half of Republican voters say they would get a COVID-19 vaccine. Then there’s the Q-Anon believers who keep winning primaries. So far, they’ve gotten 600,000 votes.

Please Hold That Thought

Please hold that thought as you look at the latest data from fivethirtyeight.com.

Screen Shot 2020-07-06 at 10.46.00 AM

Subtracting 40.7 from 55.9, you readily see that Trump “approval” is 15.2 points under water. That means that, among the wishy-washy, an. unfavorable view of Trump is getting baked into the cake.

But my point here is not the top number, it’s the bottom number. If you go to the actual website, grab hold of the vertical line, and roll it leftward, back to late March and early April, you will see that Trump approvers numbered 45.8, at their height.

In two months, he’s down from 45.8 to 40.7.

Still, a shockingly high, vomit-inducing number.

And yes, by George, he still has most of his base with him. (“Most” meaning just under 9 out of 10.)

And now, he’s trying to kill those folks off by making them believe lethal lies about the virus.

Reason would tell us he has a little ways yet to sink. And once he has sunk as low as he is going to sink, however low or high that is, we will be left with a Republican Party that has banished anyone exhibiting signs of sanity.

And, yes, there will always be Alabama.

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

middle finger

Apropos Orange Man’s incitement to fear and terror, I wish to insist again on two important things.

First of all, it is, I think, all too easy for those of us of a progressive persuasion to enjoy a cheap laugh at the expense of the coronavirus-spewing rubes who quake in their boots in fear of rabid mobs of progressives inciting violence in the cities.

Rabid mobs of progressives are not in fact inciting violence in the cities. And, much as the rubes may cheer Orange Man’s applause lines, they damn well know that mobs or progressives are not inciting violence in the cities. Nor is that what they fear.

The rubes quake and tremble because the country is becoming more progressive. And, specifically, because the majority is coming to recognize systematic racism. And because they now recognize systematic racism, the majority seriously threatens the continued existence systematic racism.

That is what the rubes fear.

And that is what they are entirely right to fear. Their world is crashing down around their shoulders. The rubes find themselves living in a world where even the Southern Baptist Convention wants to retire the Confederate flag. And the plutocracy no longer wants them on Team Plutocrat. The times they are a-changin’, and all they can do is stand there, scream, and shake their fists.

The second thing about which I would like to insist is this. Orange Man claims to be the protector of his rabid followers’ values. But Orange Man is no more preserving their way of life than he is defending them against the coronavirus.

Rather, Orange Man is leading his peeps in a mass display of middle fingers, aimed at the increasingly progressive modern world.

Not King Cyrus, who actually broke some heads. Instead, an incompetent, doddering old  charlatan, slurring his words as he tries to rouse the rabble.