Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Donald Trump's Only Chance

It looks like Donald Trump has finally figured out that his only chance is to actually act to help make the pandemic actually get better, and substantially better as in what has been going on in most of Europe and East Asia.  That is the only way he will get his sustained economic growth that he has had on his mind as the key to getting reelected.

So in his briefing last night he both stopped repeating fantasies about everything being great and the virus just disappearing, blah blah.  He actually admitted it is likely to get worse before it gets better. He also did probably the most important single thing he can do: he clearly and publicly supported the public wearing of masks, which indeed might actually get things under control, if his followers pay attention to him and start wearing masks.

Now, he undercut that by not wearing a mask himself when going out to the briefing, although he had one in his pocket to wave around at one point.  And he is still handing out fantasies about the availability of various kinds of covid-relevant medical equipment around the country. And while suddenly also making some noises about taking "responsibility," he also seems to still put most of it on governors. And we also have him apparently still supporting axing funding for testing and other such things, although there were hints in the briefing that he might back off that in the ongoing negotiations with Congress over the next, and probably final before the election, package.  So, he is not at all doing all he could and should to combat the virus.

But he did make a couple of big moves, especially on the mask issue.  If in fact the pandemic slows soon and actually gets seriously under control by November, with a booming economy by then, the race will be a lot closer than it is now, and Trump will have done the best thing he could to get reelected.  But it is a long way still to November, and darned near anything can happen. That is really the bottom line.

Oh, for the next two days I shall be totally occupied chairing the conference I announced in an earlier post that is happening online.

Barkley Rosser


Not Trampis said...


One day makes a big difference. Back to the old trump

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Divided Republicans Near Agreement on an Opening Offer for Virus Aid

The proposal would send money to schools and directly to Americans,
and provide $16 billion for states to conduct testing and contact tracing.

(Presumably, also to include measures that authorize sending
Homeland Security thug battalions wherever Trump deems necessary.)

Republicans, Deeply Divided on Virus Aid, Near Agreement on an Opening Offer

NY Times - July 23

WASHINGTON — Conservatives are apoplectic about its $1 trillion cost. Embattled mainstream Republicans are desperate to act quickly and aggressively to show voters they are doing something about the pandemic and resulting recession. And President Trump keeps insisting on proposals, like a costly payroll tax cut, that will do nothing to help tens of millions of jobless Americans and thateven members of his own party do not support.

The debate over the next round of coronavirus relief has exposed deep divisions among Republicans over spending and policy, leaving the fate of a huge economic rescue package in limbo as the virus surges around the country and posing an election-year dilemma for a party already facing a grim political landscape.

After three marathon days of talks, Senate Republican leaders and White House officials expressed confidence on Wednesday evening that they had reached an agreement in principle on a proposal that would dole out more than $100 billion to schools, send additional checks directly to Americans and provide $16 billion for states to conduct testing and contact tracing. But some of the biggest issues, including what to do with enhanced unemployment insurance and Mr. Trump’s payroll tax cut idea, were not finalized.

In a sign of their differences, some Republican senators suggested at one point Wednesday that they might pursue a short-term extension of the enhanced unemployment benefits expiring next week to buy more time to reach a final agreement. Even that idea sparked infighting: Conservatives loathe the extra $600-per-week benefit, regarding it as a disincentive to work, and the White House chief of staff panned it. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Enough is enough

Boston Globe - John Kasich - July 22

A nation that’s lost its way needs to reject the division and anger that have taken us down this sorry road.

America, we’ve lost our way. As a nation, and as individuals, we’ve been thrown off course by an endless barrage of shocking words and divisive deeds from the president who is supposed to lead us.

Watching each new step in the wrong direction over the past three and a half years, we shuddered and told ourselves that America could never stray further from the path our Founders intended. As bad as each outrage from President Trump was, we thought this was it, that things could never get worse. Until they did.

Like many who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for him, I tried to give this president a chance, with the hope he might rise to the occasion and keep us, however shakily, on the right path. Those hopes were quickly dashed, not only by his words, but especially by his policies, positions, and outright deceptions.

There’s been no saving grace left by a rising stock market or any other bragging points he may have earned or fallen into. Nothing he’s done is protecting us from the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic — over 141,000 American souls have already been lost to it, and the surge continues — or from the pain and anger in divided communities, the bloated government finances, or the eager adversaries emboldened by our global retreat.

Haven’t we all had enough? Aren’t we sick and tired of losing our way? I know I am. And, as a life-long Republican, I find it’s been enough to override my sturdiest political attitudes and party loyalties for as long as this crisis lasts.

While there are many issues on which my Democratic friends and I do not see eye to eye, my love for America allows me to put those differences aside for now. I look forward to working with anyone who shares this same, singular concern: America’s soul will be irreversibly eroded under four more years of our current “leadership.”

Americans must find our way again. Just as we can no longer tolerate the path we are on, we must also reject the temptation to protest one man’s divisive and mean-spirited acts with division and meanness of our own. We must choose another path, the path of unity.

Healing the nation after nearly four exhausting years of systematic splintering of the American spirit requires us to remember those values that have always united us. These are ideals we have sometimes fallen short of, but never — until now — threatened to abandon: the America of freedom, equality, opportunity, the rule of law that protects democracy. The America that still believes in common decency. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Enough is enough

Boston Globe - John Kasich - July 22

A nation that’s lost its way needs to reject the division and anger that have taken us down this sorry road.

America, we’ve lost our way. As a nation, and as individuals, we’ve been thrown off course by an endless barrage of shocking words and divisive deeds from the president who is supposed to lead us.

Watching each new step in the wrong direction over the past three and a half years, we shuddered and told ourselves that America could never stray further from the path our Founders intended. As bad as each outrage from President Trump was, we thought this was it, that things could never get worse. Until they did.

Like many who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for him, I tried to give this president a chance, with the hope he might rise to the occasion and keep us, however shakily, on the right path. Those hopes were quickly dashed, not only by his words, but especially by his policies, positions, and outright deceptions.

There’s been no saving grace left by a rising stock market or any other bragging points he may have earned or fallen into. Nothing he’s done is protecting us from the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic — over 141,000 American souls have already been lost to it, and the surge continues — or from the pain and anger in divided communities, the bloated government finances, or the eager adversaries emboldened by our global retreat.

Haven’t we all had enough? Aren’t we sick and tired of losing our way? I know I am. And, as a life-long Republican, I find it’s been enough to override my sturdiest political attitudes and party loyalties for as long as this crisis lasts.

While there are many issues on which my Democratic friends and I do not see eye to eye, my love for America allows me to put those differences aside for now. I look forward to working with anyone who shares this same, singular concern: America’s soul will be irreversibly eroded under four more years of our current “leadership.”

Americans must find our way again. Just as we can no longer tolerate the path we are on, we must also reject the temptation to protest one man’s divisive and mean-spirited acts with division and meanness of our own. We must choose another path, the path of unity.

Healing the nation after nearly four exhausting years of systematic splintering of the American spirit requires us to remember those values that have always united us. These are ideals we have sometimes fallen short of, but never — until now — threatened to abandon: the America of freedom, equality, opportunity, the rule of law that protects democracy. The America that still believes in common decency. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

The GOP is in disarray.

via @BostonGlobe - July 22

Is this a glimpse of the post-Trump Republican Party?

In recent days, we got a glimpse of what the Republican Party may look like after the November election. It’s super messy.

... What happens to the Republican Party once Trump is gone, whether he wins or loses in November?

In the past week, there has been a number of important developments to show just how chaotic it has become inside of the GOP.

Where do we even start?

There was the private meeting Senate Republicans held Tuesday with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows hoping settle some obvious disagreements about what Republicans should push for in another COVID related financial assistance package.

The additional $600 in unemployment benefits that Americans have been receiving since the spring is due to expire next week. Democrats want to extend it until the end of the year. Republicans — from the White House to the House and Senate — are not on the same page.

In the Senate meeting, two Republicans potentially eyeing a run for president in 2024, were at direct odds on what the most conservative thing to do was in this moment. According to the Washington Post, Senator Ted Cruz stood up and asked, “What in the hell are we doing?” in agreeing to a package that would be at least another trillion in spending. Meanwhile, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas (who is headed to New Hampshire this month) told his colleagues that the Senate should agree to something in order to help our more vulnerable Republicans up for reelection this year. After all, Cotton, contended, if Republicans don’t keep the Senate majority then Democrats will spend even more.

But that was on Tuesday. On Wednesday, there was talk of a side deal from other Republican Senators like Lamar Alexander and Richard Shelby to offer additional unemployment assistance through the year, but at a lower rate.

Here’s where we are at: the White House hoped to secure a Republican proposal last weekend, but now the thinking from Capitol Hill is that a Senate plan would come Thursday at the earliest, according to the Post.

But at least the discussion on the Senate wasn’t personal. It totally was in the House.

It’s hard to get more Republican than someone with the last name Cheney. However, her strong support for Dr. Anthony Fauci on the coronavirus has made her a target. She was called out by seven Republican members including Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and Matt Gaetz of Florida for not being sufficiently in Trump’s corner, according to CNN. Why? She backs the nation’s top infectious disease expert amidst a global pandemic and has departed from Trump recently on foreign policy.

Some called on her to resign from her leadership position in the House, which she has refused to do. Donald Trump Jr. tweeted about Cheney that “we don’t need another Mitt Romney,” an apparent reference to Romney’s vote to remove Trump from office during the Senate impeachment trial. Senator Rand Paul also weighed in on the House business by saying Cheney should resign from her position as House Republican Conference Chair. ...

Anonymous said...

July 22, 2020



Cases ( 4,100,875)
Deaths ( 146,183)

Anonymous said...

July 22, 2020



Cases ( 4,100,875)
Deaths ( 146,183)


Cases ( 1,239,684)
Deaths ( 29,890)


Cases ( 356,255)
Deaths ( 40,400)


Cases ( 296,377)
Deaths ( 45,501)


Cases ( 204,470)
Deaths ( 9,182)


Cases ( 112,206)
Deaths ( 8,870)


Cases ( 83,707)
Deaths ( 4,634)


Cases ( 78,504)
Deaths ( 5,667)

Anonymous said...

There were 72,306 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on July 22.

Anonymous said...

There were 72,306 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on July 22: that is in the United States.

Anonymous said...

July 23, 2020

Chinese mainland reports 22 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

Chinese health authority said Thursday that the Chinese mainland registered 22 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, including 3 cases from overseas and 19 domestically transmitted.

Of the 19 domestically-transmitted cases, 18 were reported in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the remaining was in Liaoning Province.

Of the 3 cases from overseas, 1 was reported in Shanghai, 1 in Guangdong Province and 1 in Shaanxi Province, said the National Health Commission.

No deaths related to the disease or new suspected COVID-19 cases were reported Wednesday, while 15 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals.

Chinese mainland new locally transmitted cases

Chinese mainland new imported cases

Chinese mainland new asymptomatic cases

pgl said...

Some were saying that Trump in mid-July finally rolled out the plan that Biden proposed 6 months ago. That would be a generous interpretation of Trump's speech this week. Yea he finally said wear masks but other than that - there was no specific plan put forth. Six months into this and he finally hints at forming a plan but even there he falls short.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

It has been observed (on MSNBC anyway)
the Donald Trump is vigorously rolling
out the 'Law & Order' election strategy
used effectively by Dick Nixon in 1968
and '72, basically scaring the bejezus
out of the electorate, or at least the
GOP base.

Supposedly, the very important suburban
component of that electorate (which Trump
won, nationally, in 2016) are now solidly
behind Biden, which why Trump is panicky.

Where peaceful protests are happening, it
is evidently necessary to bring in federal
thugs to instigate riots, so they will do that.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

GOP unveils coronavirus aid

AP via @BostonGlobe - July 23

White House drops bid for payroll tax cut

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House reluctantly dropped its bid to cut Social Security payroll taxes Thursday as Republicans unveil a $1 trillion COVID-19 rescue package, yielding to opposition to the idea among top Senate allies.

“It won’t be in the base bill,‘' said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking on CNBC about the payroll tax cut, killing the idea for now. The cut in the tax that finances Social Security and Medicare has been a major demand of President Donald Trump.

“The president is very focused on getting money quickly to workers right now, and the payroll tax takes time,” Mnuchin said at the Capitol. Only Sunday, Trump said in a Fox News interview that “I would consider not signing it if we don’t have a payroll tax cut.”

The long-delayed legislation comes amid alarming developments on the virus crisis. It was originally to be released Thursday morning by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but the Kentucky Republican instead hosted an unscheduled meeting with Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Afterward, Mnuchin declared the administration had reached a “fundamental agreement” with Senate Republicans.

Given the hold-up, however, Mnuchin and Meadows floated the idea of passing a bill next week that would be limited to maintaining jobless benefits that would otherwise expire and speeding aid to schools. It wasn’t clear whether the measure would still be introduced Thursday, they said.

McConnell’s $1 trillion package is an opening GOP bid in talks with top Capitol Hill Democrats — who back a $3.5 trillion House bill that passed two months ago — in a negotiation that could be rockier than talks in March that produced a $2 trillion rescue package. GOP senators and Trump are at odds over priorities, and Democrats say the Republican plans are not nearly enough to stem the health crisis, reopen schools and extend aid to jobless Americans. ...

Anonymous said...

July 23, 2020



Cases ( 4,120,033)
Deaths ( 146,533)

Fred C. Dobbs said...

'Tossup in Texas'

Biden leads Trump by one point in Lone Star State

via @usatoday - July 22

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump are neck-and-neck with voters in Texas, according to a new poll released Wednesday, with the presumptive Democratic nominee leading by just one point.

The Quinnipiac University poll, conducted from July 16 to July 20, found that 45% of self-described registered Texas voters back Biden and 44% support Trump, a virtual tie. The same poll last month found an equally close race, with Trump leading Biden by one point, 44%-43%.

Other recent polls have shown that Biden may be competitive in Texas, a state typically won by Republicans and where Trump won over Hillary Clinton by nine points in 2016. that opens up the state's 38 electoral college votes, the second-largest state by electorates, for the possibility of a Democratic win. ...

ilsm said...

Best on your conferences!

Anonymous said...

July 23, 2020



Cases   ( 4,143,733)
Deaths   ( 146,807)

Anonymous said...

July 23, 2020



Cases   ( 4,164,781)
Deaths   ( 147,232)

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Cases (4,164,781)
Deaths (147,232)

So, the death rate has dropped,
somewhat. Now down to 3.5%.

Even better, if the 'Cases' number
is actually ten times higher, the
death rate is really a much more
acceptable 0.35%.

ilsm said...


What is observable is deaths in Tx, Ca, Fl, Az are down wrt NY, NJ, Ma, Ct. May be median age of positive is much lower, may be season effect humans better health in summer, may be virus mutating, may be better therapeutics, may be.........

Also, hospital ED, beds and ICU census not approaching calling in FEMA assets.

Trump jumping in this week is interesting, suppose the virus flows in the new surge like in NY........ headlines may be looking good in late August!

Death rates: infection (total symptomatic and asymptomatic, we may get an estimate in 2040) fatality rate, case (positive test base, not timely nor error free) fatality rate, crude (vague denominator what makes headlines) fatality rate, etc............

I follow CDC excess deaths, which are trailing indicator by at least one month. These have been above the model (normal since NYC blewit up in Apr! Seeing trends?

At this point therapeutics is best bet! RPI researchers leading way to use heparin early......... a few days ago.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Until otherwise informed,
one should assume that the current
'lower death rates' in CA, TX, AZ
and FL have much to do with younger
people catching the coronavirus.

There's no reason those rates can't
go up, until the excess population
of elders becomes depleted.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Fauci: "We could start talking about real normality again" with a vaccine in 2021

via @CBSPolitics - July 24

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, said "we could start talking about real normality again" in 2021 with the development and implementation of a COVID-19 vaccine. Fauci's comments came as the number of coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 4 million.

Fauci said in an interview with CNN's David Axelrod Thursday that the companies behind vaccines told him they "would have doses to the tunes of tens of millions early in the year, and up to hundreds of millions as we get well into 2021."

"The timetable you suggested of getting into 2021, well into the year, then I can think with a successful vaccine — if we could vaccinate the overwhelming majority of the population — we could start talking about real normality again," Fauci said. "But it is going to be a gradual process."

Fauci made the remarks ahead of next week's launch of an unprecedented effort by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to find a vaccine, dubbed "Operation Warp Speed." The operation aims to deliver 300 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by January 2021. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Baker issues strict new rules on people traveling to Mass

via @BostonGlobe - July 24

including possible $500 per day fine for violators

(Unless you're arriving from any neighboring state, or NJ, or Hawaii.)

Hoping to keep the coronavirus pandemic from flaring up again in Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker on Friday announced strict new travel rules that all people entering the state must comply with.

The new travel order goes into effect Aug. 1 and applies to all travelers entering the state, including both out-of-state residents and Massachusetts residents returning home, the governor’s office said.

Under the order, everyone coming to the state must fill out a “Massachusetts Travel Form” and quarantine for 14 days unless they are coming from a state where the coronavirus risk is lower or they can produce a negative coronavirus test result administered no more than 72 hours prior to arriving in Massachusetts, the governor’s office said.

Individuals who get a test must remain in quarantine until they receive their negative test results.

“Those who do not comply with the new travel order are subject to a $500 per day fine,” Baker said at a State House news conference.

“Every traveler coming to Massachusetts, no matter where they’re from, has a responsibility to help keep COVID-19 out of the Commonwealth,” he said.

Previously, the governor had issued travel “guidance” and there was no fine for anyone violating it. Baker said he was signing an executive order Friday making the new rules mandatory.

Travelers are exempt from this requirement if they are coming from a state that has been designated as a lower-risk state or fall into another narrow exemption category.

Based on current public health data, those lower risk states will include: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Hawaii, the governor’s office said. ...

Anonymous said...

July 24, 2020



Cases   ( 4,210,609)
Deaths   ( 147,943)

Anonymous said...

July 24, 2020



Cases ( 4,230,696)
Deaths ( 148,180)

Anonymous said...

July 24, 2020



Cases ( 4,242,586)
Deaths ( 148,348)

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Trump’s Portland tactics are the stuff we decry in other countries

Boston Globe = Stephen Kinzer = July 24

Using unidentified paramilitary squads to maintain order is deeply anti-democratic.

Squads of heavily armed men, often in uniforms without identifying insignia, attack suspected enemies of the state, throw them into unmarked cars, and carry them away. This is the scenario that has unfolded in Portland, Ore., over recent days. Although it is new in the United States, in other parts of our hemisphere it is a familiar tactic. I saw it many times during years of covering repressive regimes in Latin America.

In Argentina during the 1970s, secret police officers would arrive at the homes of dissidents, usually at night, and grab their victims without identifying themselves. For decades in Guatemala, men with no insignia regularly attacked protesters. In El Salvador during the 1980s, newspapers carried almost daily reports of kidnappings and killings carried out by what were chillingly described as “heavily armed men in civilian clothes.”

Police in every country have a duty to maintain order. Some do it more harshly than others. Yet in a state of law, police officers should be identifiable, either by name or badge number or through insignia that shows who they work for. The use of paramilitary squads, whose members apparently work for the government but are otherwise unidentified, is deeply anti-democratic.

This approach to repression was not born in Latin America. During World War II, Nazi administrators in occupied countries were instructed to deal with troublemakers through a policy called “night and fog.” Night is when victims were abducted, and fog was all that their loved ones encountered when they tried to find out what had happened.

Conditions in Portland are hardly that dire. Death squads, secret detention centers, and clandestine executions are not part of American life. The use of unidentified police, however, takes us across a scary line. It gives officers anonymity that shields them from accountability.

What makes the situation in Portland so extraordinary is that these enforcement squads have been deployed against the will of the mayor and the governor. The state’s two senators, decrying what they call “paramilitary occupations,” have introduced a bill they call the “Preventing Authoritarian Policing Tactics on America’s Streets Act.” One co-sponsor, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, made the essential point: “Without identification there is no way to hold these officers accountable, and there is no way to know if they are really federal officers.” ...

Whether protesters pose such a danger to public safety that they must be violently suppressed is a legitimate subject for debate. Yet in responding to protests, political leaders should respect two principles: The choice of tactics should be up to state and local authorities, and the officers sent to restore order should be identifiable. When we abandon those principles, we embrace the repressive practices that we so vigorously condemn in others.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

It get's worse.

Judge Rejects Challenge to Federal Agents Targeting Portland Protesters

Oregon’s attorney general had sued to prevent federal agents from patrolling the city in unmarked vehicles and detaining protesters.

PORTLAND, Ore. — A federal judge in Portland on Friday rejected Oregon’s legal bid to restrict the operations of federal agents who have been battling protesters nightly in the city.

The lawsuit by Oregon’s attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, argued that the operations of federal authorities, who were using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters, resembled abductions. It called on the court to order the agents to stop arresting individuals without probable cause and to clearly identify themselves and their agency before detaining or arresting “any person off the streets in Oregon.”

In his ruling, Judge Michael W. Mosman of the U.S. District Court in Portland said the attorney general’s office did not have standing to bring the case because it had not shown that the issue was “an interest that is specific to the state itself.”

“I find the State of Oregon lacks standing here and therefore deny its request for a temporary restraining order,” the judge wrote in his ruling.

“I am quite disappointed,” Ms. Rosenblum said in an interview. “If I don’t have standing, I’m not quite sure who does.”

A number of other lawsuits have been filed by private parties against the presence of the federal agents, and Ms. Rosenblum said she hoped they would be more successful.

“Every American needs to be concerned about what’s happening in Portland,” Ms. Rosenblum said. “It could be happening in your city next.”

“There’s no reason for this kind of secret police tactics,” she said. ...

Anonymous said...

July 24, 2020



Cases ( 4,248,327)
Deaths ( 148,490)


Cases ( 1,337,022)
Deaths ( 31,406)


Cases ( 370,712)
Deaths ( 41,908)


Cases ( 297,914)
Deaths ( 45,677)


Cases ( 205,960)
Deaths ( 9,201)


Cases   ( 180,528)
Deaths   ( 30,192)


Cases ( 113,206)
Deaths ( 8,881)


Cases ( 83,750)
Deaths ( 4,634)

Anonymous said...

July 24, 2020



Cases ( 4,248,327)
Deaths ( 148,490)

There were 78,336 new confirmed coronavirus cases on July 24.

Anonymous said...

July 25, 2020



Cases ( 297,914)
Deaths ( 45,677)


Cases ( 180,528)
Deaths ( 30,192)

Notice the coronavirus deaths to cases ratios for the United Kingdom and France are 15.3% and 16.7% respectively.

Anonymous said...

This is your occasional reminder that insider trading by top execs does not maximize shareholder value

Corporate Insiders Pocket $1 Billion in Rush for Coronavirus Vaccine
Well-timed stock bets have generated big profits for senior executives and board members at companies developing vaccines and treatments.

8:51 AM · Jul 25, 2020

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Corporate Insiders Pocket $1 Billion in Rush for Coronavirus Vaccine

NY Times - July 25

On June 26, a small South San Francisco company called Vaxart made a surprise announcement: A coronavirus vaccine it was working on had been selected by the U.S. government to be part of Operation Warp Speed, the flagship federal initiative to quickly develop drugs to combat Covid-19.

Vaxart’s shares soared. Company insiders, who weeks earlier had received stock options worth a few million dollars, saw the value of those awards increase sixfold. And a hedge fund that partly controlled the company walked away with more than $200 million in instant profits.

The race is on to develop a coronavirus vaccine, and some companies and investors are betting that the winners stand to earn vast profits from selling hundreds of millions — or even billions — of doses to a desperate public.

Across the pharmaceutical and medical industries, senior executives and board members are capitalizing on that dynamic.

They are making millions of dollars after announcing positive developments, including support from the government, in their efforts to fight Covid-19. After such announcements, insiders from at least 11 companies — most of them smaller firms whose fortunes often hinge on the success or failure of a single drug — have sold shares worth well over $1 billion since March, according to figures compiled for The New York Times by Equilar, a data provider.

In some cases, company insiders are profiting from regularly scheduled compensation or automatic stock trades. But in other situations, senior officials appear to be pouncing on opportunities to cash out while their stock prices are sky high. And some companies have awarded stock options to executives shortly before market-moving announcements about their vaccine progress.

The sudden windfalls highlight the powerful financial incentives for company officials to generate positive headlines in the race for coronavirus vaccines and treatments, even if the drugs might never pan out.

Some companies are attracting government scrutiny for potentially using their associations with Operation Warp Speed as marketing ploys.

For example, the headline on Vaxart’s news release declared: “Vaxart’s Covid-19 Vaccine Selected for the U.S. Government’s Operation Warp Speed.” But the reality is more complex. ...

Executives at a long list of companies have reaped seven- or eight-figure profits thanks to their work on coronavirus vaccines and treatments.

Shares of Regeneron, a biotech company in Tarrytown, N.Y., have climbed nearly 80 percent since early February, when it announced a collaboration with the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a Covid-19 treatment. Since then, the company’s top executives and board members have sold nearly $700 million in stock. The chief executive, Leonard Schleifer, sold $178 million of shares on a single day in May.

Alexandra Bowie, a spokeswoman for Regeneron, said most of those sales had been scheduled in advance through programs that automatically sell executives’ shares if the stock hits a certain price.

Moderna, a 10-year-old vaccine developer based in Cambridge, Mass., that has never brought a product to market, announced in late January that it was working on a coronavirus vaccine. It has issued a stream of news releases hailing its vaccine progress, and its stock has more than tripled, giving the company a market value of almost $30 billion.

Moderna insiders have sold about $248 million of shares since that January announcement, most of it after the company was selected in April to receive federal funding to support its vaccine efforts. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Once a Source of US-China Tension, Trade Emerges as an Area of Calm

NY Times - July 25

WASHINGTON — For the better part of three years, President Trump’s trade war with China strained relations between the world’s largest economies. Now, the trade pact the two countries signed in January appears to be the most durable part of the U.S.-China relationship.

Tensions between the United States and China are flaring over the coronavirus, which the Trump administration accuses China of failing to control, as well as accusations of espionage, intellectual property theft and human rights violations. American officials on Tuesday ordered the closure of China’s consulate in Houston, saying that diplomats there had aided in economic espionage, prompting China to order the closure of the American consulate in Chengdu.

Earlier in the week, the Trump administration added another 11 Chinese companies to a government list barring them from buying American technology and other products, citing human rights abuses against predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region in China’s far west. The two countries are also clashing over China’s security crackdown in Hong Kong, its global 5G ambitions and its territorial claims in the South China Sea.

But unlike previous moments of heightened tensions between the United States and China, Mr. Trump has not threatened to impose additional tariffs on Chinese goods or take other steps to punish companies that export their products to America. And neither side is threatening to rip up the initial trade deal they signed in January, which took years of painful negotiations to complete.

Trade, long the most contentious part of the U.S.-China relationship, has suddenly become an area of surprising stability.

The reasons have more to do with politics than diplomacy. Both the Trump administration and Chinese leaders invested time and political capital in reaching their initial trade deal, which removed barriers for foreign firms doing business in China and strengthened the country’s intellectual property protections. The deal also required China to purchase an additional $200 billion of American goods by the end of next year, including some agricultural goods like soybeans, pork and corn from farm states that are crucial to Mr. Trump’s re-election chances.

As tensions between the two countries rise again, both sides appear to think they have more to lose from rupturing the agreement than they would gain.

“Ironically, trade has become an area of cooperation or stability,” said Michael Pillsbury, a China expert at the Hudson Institute who advises the Trump administration. ...

American officials say that China’s behavior has become increasingly provocative in recent months, prompting tougher action not just from the United States but also Australia, Britain, India and other nations. Some public figures in China have blamed increasing tensions on Democrats and Republicans in the United States competing to appear tougher on China ahead of the general election in November. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Trump’s federal law-and-order troops are ‘not welcome here,’ in Massachusetts

via @BostonGlobe - July 24

(Hoo boy. They are probably piling into
their SUVs and heading our way even now.)

... Massachusetts politicians have made clear they would not welcome armed federal agents, but legal scholars say their options — at least in the short term — would be limited.

“Physically, there is nothing to do,” said Lawrence Friedman, a law professor and constitutional expert at New England Law Boston. “You need a court to say it’s illegal, or you need Congress passing a law to say you can’t do that.”

But the danger, according to constitutional scholars, would extend beyond any physical clash between residents and federal officers.

“If it goes unchecked, then it’s an invitation to this, or a future administration, to deploy federal officers beyond the limits of their constitutional authority,” said Noah Feldman, a constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School, who testified before Congress last year about Trump’s impeachment. “And in the end, that makes us all less free, less safe, and less protected.”

Trump’s deployment of a secret paramilitary force in Portland, purportedly to protect against vandalism of a federal complex, has triggered growing clashes in a city with a reputation for activism. Portland’s mayor was among those tear gassed earlier this week in a scene he described as “urban warfare.”

Trump said this week that he intends to send federal agents to Chicago and Albuquerque, N.M. ― part of a “law and order” campaign that he says was in response, not to street protests, but to violent crime. It expands upon a similar effort in Kansas City. There is no indication he wishes to send agents to Boston.

To the surprise of Washington Governor Jay Inslee, federal troops were deployed to his state after the Trump administration assured him there would be no “surge of additional personnel to Seattle,” Inslee said in a series of tweets late Thursday.

He said he feared the federal presence would “aggravate the situation” and urged them to stand down unless summoned.

“It is critical that the administration only provide what is needed by state and local officials, and do not engage unless asked,” Inslee said.

The federal forces are necessary, Trump says, in cities and states where liberal mayors and governors have lost control of civil unrest and violent crime.

“We’re not going to let this happen in our country,” Trump said this week. “Look at what’s going on — all run by Democrats, all run by very liberal Democrats. All run, really, by radical left ... and we’re not going to let it go to hell.”

Not only is the deployment of a secret federal force unconstitutional — federal forces are not allowed to move in and take over as street crime fighters — but it also turns the whole notion of federalism upside down, Feldman said. It pits states against the federal government, upsetting and undermining the delicate balance between the two.

“What we should be watching for is if this actually happens at any scale,” he said. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

‘Wall of Vets’ Joins the Front Lines of Portland Protests

NY Times - July 25

PORTLAND, Ore. — A week after federal officers in Portland, Ore., brutally struck a Navy veteran who said he had approached them simply to ask a question, a group of military veterans on Friday joined the front lines of the city’s growing protests.

Duston Obermeyer, a Marine Corps veteran, said he and other veterans were there to make sure federal officers did not infringe on the free speech of protesters, who numbered in the thousands.

“Our veterans are here specifically to support the rights of the protesters to protest,” said Mr. Obermeyer, who said he had deployed three times during a decade in the Marines.

The group of vets lined up in front of a fence erected outside the federal courthouse. They stayed together until a cloud of tear gas scattered much of the crowd.

While President Trump and the Department of Homeland Security have repeatedly labeled the protesters in Portland as “violent anarchists,” demonstrators have banded together in groups. A “Wall of Moms” has grown to include hundreds of women in yellow shirts linking arms. A “Wall of Dads” in orange shirts has included some with leaf blowers used to push tear gas away from the crowds. Many nurses on Saturday showed up in blue scrubs.

Local officials have demanded that federal agents leave the city, saying their presence has inflamed tensions and their tactics have been outrageous. One of those concerning cases was that of Christopher J. David, a Navy veteran who said he went to the protests for the first time last weekend to ask officers whether they felt their actions violated the Constitution.

As he stood still in front of the officers, one began hitting him with a baton. Mr. David said the attack broke his fingers.

Mr. Obermeyer cited that case as one of the motivations of the “Wall of Vets.”

Another veteran, Clint Hall, said he came out to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Carrying a “Disabled Veterans 4 BLM” sign, the Army veteran said the federal presence in the city had simply increased the tension.

“Things were getting better, and then they came here and made it worse,” Mr. Hall said. “Enough is enough.”

After suffering through the tear gas that was shot into the crowd, Mr. Hall said that the tear gas was so strong that it was leaving burns on his skin. He said it felt worse than the tear gas he recalled from his time in the Army.

“This response from the feds is over the top,” he said.

Anonymous said...

July 25, 2020



Cases   ( 4,276,600)
Deaths   ( 148,950)

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Officials Push US-China Relations Toward Point of No Return

NY Times - July 25

Can this be used as a Trump campaign strategy? Is 'authoritarianism' in China
of much concern in the US. It seems we have other worries that take precedence.
But Trump & Pompeo might want to see if it has any traction, election-wise.

WASHINGTON — Step by step, blow by blow, the United States and China are dismantling decades of political, economic and social engagement, setting the stage for a new era of confrontation shaped by the views of the most hawkish voices on both sides.

With President Trump trailing badly in the polls as the election nears, his national security officials have intensified their attack on China in recent weeks, targeting its officials, diplomats and executives. While the strategy has reinforced a key campaign message, some American officials, worried Mr. Trump will lose, are also trying to engineer irreversible changes, according to people familiar with the thinking.

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has inflamed the fight, brushing aside international concern about the country’s rising authoritarianism to consolidate his own political power and to crack down on basic freedoms, from Xinjiang to Hong Kong. By doing so, he has hardened attitudes in Washington, fueling a clash that at least some in China believe could be dangerous to the country’s interests.

The combined effect could prove to be Mr. Trump’s most consequential foreign policy legacy, even if it’s not one he has consistently pursued: the entrenchment of a fundamental strategic and ideological confrontation between the world’s two largest economies.

A state of broad and intense competition is the end goal of the president’s hawkish advisers. In their view, confrontation and coercion, aggression and antagonism should be the status quo with the Chinese Communist Party, no matter who is leading the United States next year. They call it “reciprocity.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared in a speech on Thursday that the relationship should be based on the principle of “distrust and verify,” saying that the diplomatic opening orchestrated by President Richard M. Nixon nearly half a century ago had ultimately undermined American interests. ...

And what about our own country’s rising authoritarianism?

Anonymous said...

July 25, 2020



Cases   ( 4,308,855)
Deaths   ( 149,320)

Fred C. Dobbs said...

A bipartisan group secretly gathered to game out a contested Trump-Biden election

via @BostonGlobe - July 26

WASHINGTON — On the second Friday in June, a group of political operatives, former government and military officials, and academics quietly convened online for what became a disturbing exercise in the fragility of American democracy.

The group, which included Democrats and Republicans, gathered to game out possible results of the November election, grappling with questions that seem less far-fetched by the day: What if President Trump refuses to concede a loss, as he publicly hinted recently he might do? How far could he go to preserve his power? And what if Democrats refuse to give in?

“All of our scenarios ended in both street-level violence and political impasse,” said Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown law professor and former Defense Department official who co-organized the group known as the Transition Integrity Project. She described what they found in bleak terms: “The law is essentially ... it’s almost helpless against a president who’s willing to ignore it.”

Using a role-playing game that is a fixture of military and national security planning, the group envisioned a dark 11 weeks between Election Day and Inauguration Day, one in which Trump and his Republican allies used every apparatus of government — the Postal Service, state lawmakers, the Justice Department, federal agents, and the military — to hold onto power, and Democrats took to the courts and the streets to try to stop it. ...

In the scenarios, the team playing the Trump campaign often questioned the legitimacy of mail-in ballots, which often boosted Biden as they came in — shutting down post offices, pursuing litigation, and using right-wing media to amplify narratives about a stolen election. ...

In multiple scenarios, officials on both sides homed in on narrowly decided swing states with divided governments, such Wisconsin, Michigan, and North Carolina, hoping to persuade officials there to essentially send two different results to Congress. If a state’s election is disputed, a legislature controlled by one party and governor of another each could send competing slates of electors backing their party’s candidate. ...

The scenario that produced the most contentious dynamics, however, was the one in which Trump won the Electoral College — and thus, the election — but Biden won the popular vote by 5 percentage points. Biden’s team retracted his Election Night concession, fueled by Democrats angry at losing yet another election despite capturing the popular vote, as happened in 2000 and 2016. In the mock election, Trump sought to divide Democrats — at one point giving an interview to The Intercept, a left-leaning news outlet, saying Senator Bernie Sanders would have won if Democrats had nominated him. Meanwhile, Biden’s team sought to encourage large Western states to secede unless pro-Democracy reforms were made.

That scenario seemed highly far-fetched, but it envisioned a situation in which both sides may have incentives to contest the election.

“There is a narrative among activists in both parties that the loss must be illegitimate,” he said. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Trump Could Still Break Democracy’s Biggest Norm

The Atlantic - June 16

Some of the president’s opponents fear that he’ll refuse
to leave the White House if he loses the election. Here’s why.

... If Biden were to notch a narrow victory, Trump could look to contest the results and claim he’d actually won. He could put the military and other tools of presidential power in an awkward spot, pressuring them to pick sides and untangle competing claims about who won. A supine Justice Department led by Attorney General William Barr might bolster Trump’s claims by putting out statements that the vote was tainted.

“It’s really hard for anyone in the military, at any level, to say anything other than ‘Yes, sir.’ They’re not lawyers,” Rosa Brooks, a former Pentagon official in the Obama administration and a professor at Georgetown Law, told me.

The potential for chaos exposes the frailties of an electoral tradition that depends on the goodwill of the two candidates involved. If one won’t cooperate, the system seizes up. The nation survived a couple of scares, but only because the loser was willing to fold. In 2000, Al Gore conceded the race when a divided Supreme Court stopped a recount in Florida, locking in George W. Bush’s narrow victory. When he bowed out, Gore ended his career in elective politics, a gesture that Trump might not be so quick to emulate. ...

Trump’s political career is the story of norms upended. He’s denigrated war heroes and sparred with Gold Star families. Would he honor one of the nation’s most precious norms—the peaceful transfer of power—if it meant admitting failure?

When the fateful moment arrives, Trump would need to accept the same sobering reality that Gore absorbed: He lost. What some in Washington ask is whether he’d be in denial. ...

Brooks, the Georgetown Law professor and former Obama official, is helping lead an informal bipartisan group called the Transition Integrity Project that is looking to ensure the election and potential transition go smoothly. More than 60 people are involved, including former governors and Cabinet secretaries. They’re planning to meet on Zoom in the next few weeks and hold “tabletop” exercises meant to think through various scenarios: a narrow Trump defeat, a clear Trump victory, and a resounding Biden victory among them. They’ll game out what might happen if Trump and his supporters use social media to intimidate the election workers tallying votes, or if he refuses to leave in the event of defeat, among other possibilities ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

About a half-mile from Trump Tower.

The Virus Turns Midtown NYC Into a Ghost Town, Causing an Economic Crisis

NY Times - July 26

Editors and account managers at the Time & Life Building in Midtown Manhattan could once walk out through the modernist lobby and into a thriving ecosystem that existed in support of the offices above. They could shop for designer shirts or shoes, slide into a steakhouse corner booth for lunch and then return to their desks without ever crossing the street.

To approach this block today is like visiting a relative in the hospital. The building, rebranded a few years ago and renovated to fit 8,000 workers, now has just 500 a day showing up. The steakhouse dining rooms are dark.

On a sidewalk once lined with food carts, a lone hot-dog vendor stood one recent Friday on a corner below the building. His name is Ahmed Ahmed, and he said he used to sell 400 hot dogs a day.

How many now? “Maybe 10.”

Midtown Manhattan, the muscular power center of New York City for a century, faces an economic catastrophe, a cascade of loss upon loss that threatens to alter the very identity of the city’s corporate base. The coronavirus’s toll of lost professions, lost professionals and untold billions of lost income and tax revenue may take years to understand and resolve.

Other neighborhoods are rushing to reopen, while Midtown remains stuck in a purgatorial Phase Zero, its very purpose — to bring as many human beings together as possible — strangling most hope of a convincing comeback in the foreseeable future and offering a sign of what may lie in store for business districts across the country.

Upstairs, floors are mostly empty, as companies reassess their need for office space, raising serious questions about the future of the city’s commercial real estate market. Downstairs, streets were lined with the creature comforts that made working in Midtown not only bearable, but even fun. They are vanishing, and with them, the men and women who fed, clothed, poured drinks for and drove the people in those tall buildings. ...

Anonymous said...

July 25, 2020



Cases ( 4,315,709)
Deaths ( 149,398)

There were 67,382 new confirmed coronavirus cases in the US on July 25.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Trump will not throw first pitch at Yankees-Redsox game on Auguat 15

President Trump says he'll throw out first pitch at Yankee Stadium in August via @usatoday - July 23

President Trump postpones plans to throw out first pitch at Yankee Stadium via @usatoday - July 26

President Donald Trump will not be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox game next month, as he announced at the White House last Thursday.

The planned Aug. 15 appearance at Yankee Stadium would have been the first time during his presidency that Trump has thrown out a first pitch at a Major League Baseball game. ...

AXEC / E.K-H said...

The US economy hangs on the state ventilator for its survival
Comment on Nathan Tankus on ‘Where do profits come from?’* and Barkley Rosser on ‘Donald Trump's Only Chance’

Macroeconomic profit is not made from a longer labor time, not from higher productivity, not from innovation/creative destruction, not from a lower wage rate, not from more greed, not from exploitation, not from monopoly power, not from risk-taking, not from rent-seeking, not from profit maximization or any other subjective factor, but in the most elementary case of the production-consumption economy from the dissaving/deficit spending of the household sector, i.e. Qm≡−Sm. Starting with a balanced-budget economy, macroeconomic profit presupposes credit/money creation by the banking sector (central bank and commercial banks). Macroeconomic profit has nothing to do with property rights. The Profit Law holds for capitalism and communism.

Accordingly, microeconomic profit is the result of the continuous redistribution of macroeconomic profit between the firms that constitute the business sector. If macroeconomic profit is zero, i.e. if the household sector's budget is balanced, then the sum of microeconomic profits is equal to the sum of microeconomic losses.

In the elementary production-consumption economy with a state sector, macroeconomic profit comes ultimately from the household and state sector’s deficit spending/money creation, i.e. Qm≡(G−T)−Sm.#1-#6

This means that the greater part of the profit in the United States is actually produced by the state. The US economy hangs for a long time already on the state ventilator for its survival.

The policy of deficit spending/money creation is ultimately a means of postponing the breakdown of the US economy. Deficit spending/money creation is a free lunch for the Oligarchy. Financial wealth grows in lockstep with public debt. Mr. Trump’s current policy will blow up macroeconomic profit to hitherto unimaginable proportions. This, after all, is why the Oligarchy put him into office in the first place.

Egmont Kakarot-Handtke


#1 Profit

#2 The Levy/Kalecki Profit Equation is false

#3 Truth by definition? The Profit Theory is axiomatically false for 200+ years

#4 The profit theory is false since Adam Smith

#5 Cross-references Profit

#6 The Profit Law, Wikimedia AXEC143d

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Moderna and NIH Begin Vaccine Trial With 30,000 Americans

One of the first large studies of the safety and effectiveness
of a coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. began today.

President Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien,
has tested positive for the coronavirus, the White House said.

Republicans plan to unveil their $1 trillion proposal for a
coronavirus relief package this afternoon.

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the Trump administration’s coronavirus
response coordinator, urged states to close bars and ban gatherings.
Vietnam will evacuate tourists after its first cases in months.

Gold reached a record high on Monday, continuing its rise
as nervous investors sought out a safe place to put their money.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

FLOTUS Will Revamp White House Rose Garden

NY Times - July 27

WASHINGTON — Melania Trump, the first lady, announced on Monday a plan renovate the White House Rose Garden, a signature showcase of power used by presidents for decades, as her husband enters a crucial stretch of his re-election effort.

The project, which includes electrical upgrades for television appearances, a new walkway and new flowers and shrubs, is meant to be an “act of expressing hope and optimism for the future,” according to remarks Mrs. Trump delivered to the Committee for the Preservation of the White House on Monday morning. “Our country has seen difficult times before, but the White House and the Rose Garden have always stood as a symbol of our strength, resilience and continuity.” ...

Over the course of his term, President Trump has ushered reporters into the garden in 40-degree weather to rail against Democratic leaders and announce an end to a record-length government shutdown. He has hosted gatherings with his fans, who have picked profanity-laced fights with journalists among the roses.

Lately, largely confined to the White House and struggling to respond to the dire economic and public health consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, Mr. Trump has taken to delivering meandering news conferences in 90-degree heat. Aides say he believes the natural lighting favors his complexion.

Mrs. Trump’s project is taking place as Mr. Trump is employing the so-called Rose Garden strategy, coined by political strategists to describe the tactics incumbent presidents use to bolster their campaign efforts: ceremonial signings, dedications, executive announcements and, yes, press availabilities in the Rose Garden. But with his campaign-rally-like appearances, Mr. Trump has pushed the boundaries further than his predecessors. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Democrats are angry about Trump’s use of federal agents

But as a political tactic, it doesn’t worry them much.

President Trump seems insistent on making the protests in the streets of America’s cities — including those in response to the deployment of federal agents in Portland, Ore. — a key focus of his re-election campaign: in remarks from the White House briefing room, in his television ads and across his Twitter account.

But while Democrats have expressed dismay at the use of federal law enforcement in Portland, Ore., advisers to Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his Democratic allies seem mostly unconcerned about the impact of Mr. Trump’s tactics politically, even as protests escalated and spread over the weekend.

For one thing, the president’s dire warnings of a dark Democratic-run future is in dissonance with the reality that the current unrest is happening during his own Republican tenure.

“The sense of disorder that Trump is promoting as a national threat actually works against him because it reinforces a sense that America under Donald Trump is a country in disorder and disarray,” said Geoff Garin, a pollster who works for a leading Democratic super PAC, Priorities USA.

For another, Democrats believe the issue of violence at protests is being perceived by many voters as a distraction by Mr. Trump from his faltering pandemic response and the economic downturn.

“It’s not geared toward quelling the violence,” Karen Finney, a Democratic strategist, said of Mr. Trump’s response to unrest in the streets. “It’s geared toward creating clashes that create the imagery he can use in the election.”

One particular challenge for Mr. Trump is that his “law and order” focus is not necessarily the current obsession of the voting public. As Jared Leopold, another Democratic strategist, put it, “It’s very hard to take an issue that’s not on people’s top five issues on their plate and turn it into something they give a damn about.”

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Tom Cotton under fire after calling slavery a ‘necessary evil’

via @BostonGlobe - July 27

Senator Tom Cotton is under fire after calling slavery a “necessary evil” in an interview with the Arkansas Democrat Gazette as he advocated for legislation that would ban schools from teaching the New York Times’ 1619 Project in their curriculum.

The 1619 Project, which argues in a 2019 series of essays, poems, and art that slavery was the very foundation upon which the United States was created, won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary and has been adapted into a curriculum for use in schools. Cotton has introduced a measure that would prevent schools that use the curriculum from receiving certain federal funding, calling it “neo-Marxist propaganda.”

In an interview with the Democrat Gazette, Cotton said slavery and the views of the Founding Fathers must be studied.

“We have to study the history of slavery and its role and impact on the development of our country because otherwise we can’t understand our country. As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction,” Cotton told the paper in a story that ran on Sunday.


Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton defends slavery remarks (BBC)

... "America is a great and noble country founded on the proposition that all mankind is created equal. We have always struggled to live up to that promise, but no country has ever done more to achieve it."

"Describing the *views of the Founders* and how they put the evil institution on a path to extinction, a point frequently made by Lincoln, is not endorsing or justifying slavery," he tweeted after the backlash. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Barr Defends Protest Response Ahead of Testimony

WASHINGTON — Attorney General William P. Barr defended the federal response to the protests and unrest around the nation in recent weeks, declaring in comments released late Monday that the rule of law must be upheld as “violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests to wreak senseless havoc and destruction” in places like Portland, Ore.

“We should all be able to agree that there is no place in this country for armed mobs that seek to establish autonomous zones beyond government control, or tear down statues and monuments that law-abiding communities chose to erect, or to destroy the property and livelihoods of innocent business owners,” Mr. Barr said in a written opening statement distributed ahead of a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday. ...

Mr. Barr also defended himself against accusations that he had politicized the Justice Department and abused his powers to undermine the Trump-Russia investigation and had shown special leniency to presidential favorites charged in connection with the inquiry.

“Ever since I made it clear that I was going to do everything I could to get to the bottom of the grave abuses involved in the bogus ‘Russiagate’ scandal, many of the Democrats on this committee have attempted to discredit me by conjuring up a narrative that I am simply the president’s factotum who disposes of criminal cases according to his instructions,” Mr. Barr complained.

He insisted he had acted independently and “without partisan considerations.”

Mr. Barr has long been a critic of law enforcement and intelligence officials’ attempts to understand Russia’s efforts to tilt the 2016 election in Mr. Trump’s favor and whether any Trump associates conspired. ...

Mr. Barr was to present his statement at a congressional oversight hearing, his first appearance before lawmakers in more than a year. The hearing offers Mr. Barr the highest-profile platform to date to explain his rationale for the protest response, the Russia investigation and other issues like voter fraud. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Barr opening statement (CNN)

Fred C. Dobbs said...

The three words likely guiding Joe Biden’s VP hunt in the final days before his decision

via @BostonGlobe - July 28

When Joe Biden essentially captured the Democratic presidential nomination in March, the underlying, if largely unspoken, mantra guiding the beginning of his vice presidential selection process was “fix your problems.”

Biden didn’t have a smooth path to the nomination. The problems were many and obvious. His campaign’s premise wasn’t exactly inspiring. He ran as a safe, logical option for Democrats focused solely on beating President Trump in the general election. This approach ignored a huge chunk of the party that was moving further left and didn’t want just a return of the Obama years. They wanted something bolder, beginning with Medicare for All, something that Biden still hasn’t backed.

He wasn’t even that good at being the establishment option. He didn’t get the overwhelming endorsements that a former vice president typically gets and he was bad at fund-raising.

It was Bernie Sanders, not Biden, who basically tied or won outright won the first three contests on the primary calendar. Paying tribute to the left had to be on Biden’s agenda. ...

As we head into the final week of Biden’s self-designated deadline of early August there might be one overarching three-word phrase that will drive his final decision: Do no harm. ...

... Biden is already winning on his own and his thinking could be to just pick someone who ... doesn’t mess anything up ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

According to Joe Biden's notes for a
speech on Tuesday, caught on video,
it looks very much like it's going
to be Kamala Harris as his VP.

Biden's notes on display: 'Do not hold grudges' against Sen. Kamala Harris

AP via @nbcnews

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Kamala Harris, presumptive VP choice?

Joe Biden spotted with Kamala Harris talking points

via @nypost - July 29

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden was photographed holding notes with talking points on Sen. Kamala Harris as speculation mounts that the former 2020 contender is the frontrunner for the VP slot.

The notes were spotted Tuesday during the former vice president’s midday press conference in Wilmington, Delaware. They were written on Joseph R. Biden, Jr. stationery and covered five topics, the top one being Harris (D-Calif.).

Under Harris’ name, five talking points were listed on the stationery, including, “Do not hold grudges,” “Campaigned with me & Jill [Biden],” “Talented,” “Great help to campaign” and “Great respect for her.”

Lower down on the list, under the heading “VP,” Biden’s list reads “highly qualified,” and “diverse group.”

Despite Harris being at the top of Biden’s notes, the former VP was not asked about her during the press conference.

The bullet points were listed for Biden, however, just one day after Politico reported that former Sen. Chris Dodd, a longtime Biden ally on the VP selection committee, had become concerned about Harris as the frontrunner because she felt no remorse over their debate sparring.

Dodd, the outlet reports, recently asked Harris about ambushing Biden during the first Democratic primary debate on the issues of busing and working with segregationists.

“She laughed and said, ‘that’s politics.’ She had no remorse,” Dodd told a longtime Biden donor, who alleged that Dodd was stunned by the response. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Some Democratic Insiders Are Lobbying Against Kamala Harris Becoming Biden’s VP Pick

via @LAMag - Juky 27

Though California Senator Kamala Harris has been at the top of Joe Biden’s list of potential running mates since the spring, there remains a contingent of Democrats who have been lobbying against her, expressing concerns about her trustworthiness and her policy record to Biden’s Vice Presidential search committee.

One major point of contention remains Harris’s June 2019 debate attack on Biden’s opposition to a federal student busing program in the 1970s, in which she implied that his position was soft on racism, though she later admitted her own opinion on the subject was largely in line with Biden’s.

One longtime Biden supporter and donor tells Politico that when former Senator Chris Dodd, a member of Biden’s VP vetting team, asked Harris about the ambush, “She laughed and said, ‘That’s politics.’ She had no remorse.”

According to the source, “Dodd felt it was a gimmick, that it was cheap.” Dodd’s concerns about a Harris nomination ran so deep that he pushed Los Angeles congresswoman Karen Bass toward the top of the list. Dodd urged Biden he should choose Bass because “she’s a loyal number two. And that’s what Biden really wants,” the donor said. ...

(Karen Bass, unfortunately, is too 'uncharismatic'. Whereas, Harris may be the opposite.) said...

I find this push for Bass ridiculous. She is qualified to be president? I don't think so. Moulitsas at Daily Kos is pushing her because supposedly Harris, Warren, Rice, and Demings all have "baggage," but anybody worth anything will have that. Somwbody without baggage is a nobody.

I must confess that while I have never met her, I know Kamala's dad, Don Harris, quite well. Took Advanced Macro Theory from him in grad schsool. Curiously, the two of them do not get along all that well, largely kind of a holdover from the bad divorce between her parents reportedly. I kind of like Harris myself.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

It is said that Harris was a colleague & friend of
Biden's late son Beau when they were both attorneys
general, of CA and Delaware respectively. That gives
her an edge.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Some Biden allies reportedly waging 'shadow campaign' against Kamala Harris for VP

SFGate - July 29

... According to a CNBC report, a "disgruntled group of at least a dozen Biden backers, including a few of his top donors, initiated the move against Harris close to a month ago" and are questioning the senator's loyalty. The anti-Harris Biden allies are reportedly voicing concerns to members of Biden's running mate search committee and pushing instead for Florida Rep. Val Demings, California Rep. Karen Bass, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth or former Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

New Data Expected to Reveal Record Decline of American Economy

New figures released today will almost certainly show that US
gross domestic product fell by more than 10 percent in the
second quarter of the year.

Economists predict unemployment claims to hover around 1.4 million,
about the same as the week before, showing no respite.

Here’s the latest.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Trump ramps up attacks on mail-in ballots, floating a ‘delay’ in the election.

Since the pandemic began, Democrats have feared that President Trump would seek to cancel or postpone November’s general election. On Thursday, for the first time, Mr. Trump in a tweet suggested the vote be delayed “until people can properly, securely and safely vote,” something he cannot legally do.

Even for Mr. Trump, suggesting a delay in the election is an extraordinary breach of presidential decorum that will increase the chances that Mr. Trump and his core supporters don’t accept the legitimacy of the election should he lose to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

His suggestion came minutes after the Commerce Department announced that the nation’s gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced, fell 9.5 percent during the three months ending June 30, the largest quarterly drop on record.
“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Mr. Trump wrote. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Trump floats delaying the election, but he can't do that

NBC News - July 30, 2020

While states have the authority to delay their primary elections,
only Congress can change the date of the presidential election.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday suggested that the 2020 presidential election should be postponed, claiming it could be ripe for fraud.

“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history," Trump tweeted. "It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

The president cannot unilaterally change the date of the presidential election, which is on Nov. 3 this year.

NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss tweeted that there has never been a successful effort to delay it.

Earlier in the morning, Trump tweeted that mail-in voting is “already proving to be a catastrophic disaster.”

“Even testing areas are way off. The Dems talk of foreign influence in voting, but they know that Mail-In Voting is an easy way for foreign countries to enter the race. Even beyond that, there’s no accurate count!” he tweeted.

Critics have voiced concern that Trump will press for the 2020 election to be delayed amid the coronavirus pandemic. At a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Attorney General Bill Barr was asked if a sitting president can change the date of the election.

“I haven’t looked into that question, under the Constitution,” Barr said.

While states have the authority to delay their primary elections, only Congress can change the date for the general election for president, because the Constitution gives Congress the authority to set the general election date. ...

Hopefully, AG Barr will dig out his copy of
the Constitution and verify this, forthwith.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Supposedly, it's in Article II.

President Trump floats idea of delaying election

President Trump, who in recent polls has been lagging far behind his presidential rival as he faces a devastating public health crisis and economic collapse, on Thursday railed again against voting by mail and suggested that the election should be delayed until people can “properly” vote.

It’s an unprecedented proposal from an American president and one which he appears to have no authority to implement. ...

Trump does not have the constitutional authority to make such a decision. Though the administration of elections is largely left to state and local governments, the date of the general election is spelled out in federal statutes. Article II of the US Constitution explicitly gives Congress authority to set the date of the election. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

US economy shrank at a record-breaking 33% rate last quarter

AP via @BostonGlobe - July 30

WASHINGTON — The US economy shrank at a dizzying 33 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter — by far the worst quarterly plunge ever — when the viral outbreak shut down businesses, throwing tens of millions out of work and sending unemployment surging to 14.7 percent, the government said Thursday.

The Commerce Department’s estimate of the second-quarter decline in the gross domestic product, the total output of goods and services, marked the sharpest such drop on records dating to 1947. The previous worst quarterly contraction, a 10% drop, occurred in 1958 during the Eisenhower administration.

Last quarter’s drop followed a 5% fall in the January-March quarter, during which the economy officially entered a recession triggered by the virus, ending an 11-year economic expansion, the longest on record in the United States.

The contraction last quarter was driven by a deep pullback in consumer spending, which accounts for about 70% of economic activity. Spending by consumers collapsed at a 34% annual rate as travel all but froze and shutdown orders forced many restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and other retail establishments to close.

Business investment and residential housing also suffered sharp declines last quarter. Government spending, diminished by a loss of tax revenue that forced layoffs, also fell.

The job market, the most important pillar of the economy, has been severely damaged. Tens of millions of jobs vanished in the recession. More than 1 million laid-off people have applied for unemployment benefits for 18 straight weeks. So far, about one-third of the lost jobs have been recovered, but the resurgent virus will likely slow further gains in the job market. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Top Republicans offered a rare rebuke of President Trump on Thursday, condemning his suggestion that the Nov. 3 general election be delayed — something he has no authority to order.

“Never in the history of the federal elections have we not held an election and we should go forward,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, adding that he understood “the president’s concern about mail-in voting.”

Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, declined to answer questions on Capitol Hill, but dismissed Mr. Trump’s suggestion in an interview with WNKY television in Bowling Green, Ky.

“Never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions, and the Civil War have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time, and we’ll find a way to do that again this Nov. 3,” Mr. McConnell said. “We’ll cope with whatever the situation is and have the election on Nov. 3 as already scheduled.”

Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, 2016 rivals for the Republican presidential nomination who have since become staunch Trump supporters, both dismissed the idea that Election Day could change. Senator Lindsey Graham, Mr. Trump’s foremost public defender in the Senate, said there would be a safe vote in November. And officials in key swing states showed little interest in engaging on the topic.

“We’re going to have an election, it’s going to be legitimate, it’s going to be credible, it’s going to be the same as it’s always been,” Mr. Rubio told reporters at the Capitol in Washington.

Mr. Cruz agreed. “I think election fraud is a serious problem,” he said. “But no, we should not delay the election.”

Even for Mr. Trump, suggesting a delay in the election is an extraordinary breach of presidential decorum that will increase the chances that he and his core supporters don’t accept the legitimacy of the election should he lose to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

The GOP break with Trump on moving the election is a rare party split.

Since Mr. Trump won the 2016 presidential election, fellow Republicans have rarely crossed him, and nearly all of those who did were subsequently drummed out of the party.

But when Mr. Trump proposed delaying the Nov. 3 election, something he cannot do, Republicans sought to thread a needle by not attacking him personally while making it clear they had no interest in his idea. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Trump rows back on delaying election

via @usatoday - July 30

but not on mail-in ballots

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Thursday appeared to row back on the idea of delaying the 2020 election, even as he continued to raise doubts about efforts to expand mail-in voting in some states to respond to the coronavirus.

"Do I want to see a date change? No," Trump said at the White House hours after raising the idea of a delay in a tweet. "But I don't want to see a crooked election."

Trump drew bipartisan derision Thursday for questioning whether the presidential election should be delayed over concerns about voting during the pandemic – and his longstanding and unproven assertion that mail-in ballots would lead to election fraud.

Congressional Republicans bluntly rejected the idea and Democrats accused the president of attempting to sow doubt if the election doesn't go his way. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

The Economy Is in Record Decline, but Not for the Tech Giants

(Microsoft not included, yet. Facebook is somewhat less of a 'giant'.)

Even though the tech industry’s four biggest companies were
stung by a slowdown in spending, they reported a combined
$28 billion in profits on Thursday.

A day after lawmakers grilled the chief executives of the biggest tech companies about their size and power, Amazon, Apple, Alphabet and Facebook reported surprisingly healthy quarterly financial results, defying one of the worst economic downturns on record. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

on Trump's complaints about mail-in ballots

Such ballots, on paper, marked legibly, are the
best sort of auditable ballot one could imagine.

We should all be using such ballots.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Y'know, large tech companies such as these
four, and Microsoft, were well positioned
to be successful, with hundreds of millions
of American consumers being home-bound for the
past five months. Dare one say, more power to them.

Sad to say, it's an ill wind that blows nobody good.

And this continues to be a particularly ill wind.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Lobbying Intensifies Among V.P. Candidates as Biden’s Search Nears an End

Two women, Representative Karen Bass and Susan Rice, the former national security adviser, are among the most formidable contenders on Joe Biden’s list.

… Two candidates who received scant attention early in the process are now among the leading contenders: Representative Karen Bass of California and Susan E. Rice, the former national security adviser, according to Democratic officials briefed on the selection process. Ms. Bass in particular has moved rapidly toward the top of Mr. Biden’s list amid an intensive lobbying drive by her fellow House Democrats, and has impressed the former vice-president’s search committee. …

Kamala Harris, a top vice-presidential contender, confronts double standards.

With Joseph R. Biden Jr. considering her as his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of California on Friday pushed back against criticism that she was too ambitious, a characterization often used as a double standard against women and one that some allies of Mr. Biden have used about her recently.

“There will be a resistance to your ambition,” she said during Black Girls Lead 2020, a virtual conference for young Black women. “There will be people who say to you, ‘You are out of your lane,’ because they are burdened by only having the capacity to see what has always been instead of what can be. But don’t you let that burden you.” ….

Politico reported on Monday that former Senator Christopher J. Dodd, a member of Mr. Biden’s search committee, had complained privately that Ms. Harris had not apologized for attacking Mr. Biden in a Democratic primary debate last year. (“She had no remorse,” Mr. Dodd told a Biden supporter, according to Politico.) And CNBC reported on Wednesday that unnamed allies of Mr. Biden considered Ms. Harris “too ambitious” because she ran for president herself and might want to do so again.

This week, a Biden campaign official reached out to The New York Times, unprompted, to say that some of the former vice president’s own staff members did not support her as well.

“Too ambitious” is a common criticism of women in politics, but is rarely levied against men. One study, released by Harvard researchers in 2010, found that voters expressed contempt and anger toward women whom they perceived as “power-seeking,” but saw power-seeking men as stronger and more competent. …

Fred C. Dobbs said...

In this new Gilded Age, it must mean
something awful when the GDP can decline
by one-third, with unemployment obscenely high,
the NASDAQ index can be up by about 20% for the year
(led by tech giants), while the Dow index can be down 7.4%.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Joe Biden nears final decision on running mate

AP via @BostonGlobe - August 1

WASHINGTON — As Joe Biden nears the announcement of his vice presidential choice, the top contenders and their advocates are making final appeals.

The campaign hasn't finalized a date for naming a running mate, but three people who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the plans said a public announcement likely wouldn't happen before the week of Aug. 10. That's one week before Democrats will hold their convention to officially nominate Biden as their presidential nominee.

Biden said in May that he hoped to name his pick around Aug. 1 and told reporters this week that he would “have a choice in the first week of August.” He notably stopped short of saying when he would announce that choice. ...

The leading contenders include California Sen. Kamala Harris, California Rep. Karen Bass and Obama national security adviser Susan Rice. The deliberations remain fluid, however, and the campaign has reviewed nearly a dozen possible running mates.

“For Joe Biden, this is crunch time. After all the vetting, all the investigations into the prospective nominees, it’s now up to Joe. It’s personal,” said former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who was vetted for vice president in 2008. “It’s now about his gut feeling.”

Representatives for Biden declined to comment for this story.

The selection amounts to the most significant choice Biden has confronted in his nearly five-decade political career. He has pledged to select a woman and is facing calls to choose the first Black woman to compete on a presidential ticket. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

... As a decision looms, the camps are jockeying for position.

Harris' allies mobilized this week after Politico reported that the co-chair of the vetting committee, former Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd, was concerned about Harris’ tough debate stage performance and that she hasn’t expressed regret.

Several California elected officials and labor leaders initiated a call with the vetting team to emphasize that Harris has strong support among labor and political leaders in her home state. The call was organized by Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis and included the mayors of Oakland, Long Beach and Stockton and former Gov. Gray Davis.

“A group of us really felt we needed to organize and speak out and correct the record because she has tremendous support,” Kounalakis said.

Beyond emphasizing their strong relationships with Harris, they also pushed back against the idea that Harris wouldn’t be a loyal partner.

Harris, while not directly addressing her vice presidential prospects, told a group of young Black women Friday that it's common for Black women to face resistance when they exercise their power.

“There will be a resistance to your ambition. There will be people who say to you: ‘You are out of your lane,'" she said during the digital summit. “They are burdened by only having the capacity to see what has always been instead of what can be. ... I've had that experience my entire career."

Biden has sought feedback on his pick from former President Barack Obama, who has provided advice but has insisted the choice is his to make, according to a person who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversations.

Biden allies say his wife, Jill, and sister, Valerie Biden Owens, are likely to play a key role in the decision, as they have with many of Biden’s biggest political decisions throughout his career. Jill has held online campaign events and fundraisers with virtually all the potential contenders in recent weeks, as has Biden himself, effectively offering the contenders a try-out opportunity with the presumptive Democratic nominee.

On Thursday night, Bass joined Biden for a virtual fundraiser that raked in $2.2 million. She has also taken steps to build her national profile, including providing interviews to multiple outlets over the past week. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

It was all a lie

via @BostonGlobe - August 1

... “One of the hallmarks of the Trump era is the alacrity with which intelligent people embrace stupidity.”

You might imagine these are the words of a partisan Democrat or a political columnist for a large metropolitan daily.

But they come from “It Was All A Lie,” a new book by Stuart Stevens, a political consultant who has spent much of this adult life trying to get Republicans elected to office, including a number of presidential candidates.

Stevens’ book is a blistering attack on the modern Republican Party and its wholesale surrender to Donald Trump.

For Stevens, that surrender hardly comes as a surprise. The GOP is, at its heart, a “white grievance party,” he writes. And with Trump’s victory in 2016, it could “breathe a sigh of relief that no longer did it need to pretend that it must reach out more to nonwhite voters.” ...


I Hope This Is Not Another Lie About the Republican Party

NY Times - Stuart Stevens - July 29

After Mitt Romney lost the 2012 presidential race, the Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus, commissioned an internal party study to examine why the party had won the popular vote only once since 1988.

The results of that so-called autopsy were fairly obvious: The party needed to appeal to more people of color, reach out to younger voters, become more welcoming to women. Those conclusions were presented as not only a political necessity but also a moral mandate if the Republican Party were to be a governing party in a rapidly changing America.

Then Donald Trump emerged and the party threw all those conclusions out the window with an almost audible sigh of relief: Thank God we can win without pretending we really care about this stuff. That reaction was sadly predictable.

I spent decades working to elect Republicans, including Mr. Romney and four other presidential candidates, and I am here to bear reluctant witness that Mr. Trump didn’t hijack the Republican Party. He is the logical conclusion of what the party became over the past 50 or so years, a natural product of the seeds of race-baiting, self-deception and anger that now dominate it. Hold Donald Trump up to a mirror and that bulging, scowling orange face is today’s Republican Party.

I saw the warning signs but ignored them and chose to believe what I wanted to believe: The party wasn’t just a white grievance party; there was still a big tent; the others guys were worse. Many of us in the party saw this dark side and told ourselves it was a recessive gene. We were wrong. It turned out to be the dominant gene.

What is most telling is that the Republican Party actively embraced, supported, defended and now enthusiastically identifies with a man who eagerly exploits the nation’s racial tensions. In our system, political parties should serve a circuit breaker function. The Republican Party never pulled the switch.

Racism is the original sin of the modern Republican Party. While many Republicans today like to mourn the absence of an intellectual voice like William Buckley, it is often overlooked that Mr. Buckley began his career as a racist defending segregation.

In the Richard Nixon White House, Pat Buchanan and Kevin Phillips wrote a re-election campaign memo headed “Dividing the Democrats” in which they outlined what would come to be known as the Southern Strategy. It assumes there is little Republicans can do to attract Black Americans and details a two-pronged strategy: Utilize Black support of Democrats to alienate white voters while trying to decrease that support by sowing dissension within the Democratic Party.

That strategy has worked so well that it was copied by the Russians in their 2016 efforts to help elect Mr. Trump. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

The numbers show it: Joe Biden is
winning the presidential race by not really running

Fifty percent of Biden voters said their main reason for
voting for him was to oppose President Trump, one poll found.

The numbers show it: Joe Biden is winning the presidential race

via @BostonGlobe - July 31

... take a look at a CBS/YouGov poll, which conveniently broke down the motivations of likely voters who took part in the national survey. For context, Biden led Trump 51 percent to 41 percent, which is in line with other polls lately. One other piece of background: these voters have largely made their minds up. A whopping 94 percent said their mind is made up or “probably won’t change.” These are voters who have thought about things.

Specifically, they have thought a lot about Trump. Those who backed Trump were asked for the main reason why and 68 percent said it was because they liked Trump and just 17 percent said it was to oppose Biden. It was the opposite among Biden supporters. Only 27 percent said the biggest reason for their support was that they liked Biden, while 50 percent said it was to oppose Trump. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Voting for Biden so as to oppose Trump

So what. I would not vote for any Republican
candidate for federal office. I'm not
registered in a party, but I believe
voting is important. Third party
voting is dangerous. So, I'll
be voting for Biden.

I expect a lot of people
feel just the same.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

As Cases Rise, US Officials Are at an Impasse Over Aid

The debate in Washington over new aid is set to take center stage, and negotiators were meeting this weekend in hopes of reaching a deal.

Lawmakers remain at odds over a Republican proposal that includes cutting by two-thirds the $600-per-week unemployment payments that lapsed on Friday.

The United States recorded more than 1.9 million new coronavirus infections in July, more than double any monthly total. Here’s the latest. ...


Trump wants $377M for West Wing remodel money in coronavirus relief bill

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Lawmakers and White House officials remain at an impasse on a new relief package.

With coronavirus cases soaring across the United States, the debate in Washington over a new relief package to help people and businesses weather the crisis is set to take center stage in the coming week, and negotiators were meeting over the weekend in hopes of making progress on a deal.

“The president’s determined to spend what we need to spend,” said Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, speaking on the ABC program “This Week.” “We’re acting very quickly now.”

Unemployment benefits lapsed this week for tens of millions of people, but officials have struggled to agree over new aid. Mr. Mnuchin’s remarks came after he and Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, met with top congressional Democrats in a rare Saturday meeting on Capitol Hill. ...

At issue is the gap between the latest relief packages put forward by Democrats and Republicans.

A $1 trillion proposal issued by Senate Republicans and administration officials last week includes cutting by two-thirds the $600-per-week unemployment payments that workers had received since April and providing tax cuts and liability protections for businesses.

(And a pile of WH renovation money that could wait a little longer.)

Fred C. Dobbs said...

The vice-presidential watch begins in earnest this week.

It will be one of the most attention-grabbing moments of the campaign: Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has said he expects to announce his choice for a running mate early this month.

Like everything else in this presidential campaign, the whole process has been odd.

It may be harder, if not impossible, for Mr. Biden to do in-person interviews with the person he wants as his running mate. News organizations will be unable to use their best sleuthing techniques — like tracking down the tail number of private planes to figure out who is flying into town for the big reveal (since no one is likely to be flying anywhere for the announcement). And the announcement is likely to be as scaled back as this year’s conventions: no crowds, no hugs or hands hoisted in the air, no final shots of the families gathered around at the front of a stage.

Coronavirus aside, it’s already been an unusual vice-presidential nomination process. In a break from tradition, which dictated that the candidates laid low as the selection unfolded behind the scenes, many of the prospective choices have been freely giving interviews, talking policy or going on television. There has even been the rebuttal — in real time — of revelations that might have derailed a contender’s candidacy. (Some of those revelations may even have been dug up by supporters of rivals in the vice-presidential race.)

Over the weekend, one possible Biden running mate, Representative Karen Bass, Democrat of California, posted a tweet in response to the disclosure that she had offered warm praise for the Church of Scientology when she spoke at a groundbreaking of its headquarters in her Hollywood district 10 years ago. She explained why she had attended (it was a big project in her district) and added: “Just so you all know, I proudly worship at First New Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in South LA.” ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

How the media (NYT included) could get the election story wrong.

The coronavirus crisis means that November’s election results may be delayed, as states like Pennsylvania count mail-in ballots for weeks while Mr. Trump tweets false allegations about fraud. That means the country’s news outlets will have an outsize role to play in conveying to the public what’s really happening.

Our media columnist, Ben Smith, spoke last week to executives, TV hosts and election analysts across leading American newsrooms, and wrote that he was struck by the blithe confidence among some top managers and hosts, who generally said they’ve handled complicated elections before and can do so again.

And he was alarmed by the near panic among some of the people paying the closest attention — the analysts and producers trying, and often failing, to get answers from state election officials about how and when they will count the ballots and report results.

“The nerds are freaking out,” said Brandon Finnigan, the founder of Decision Desk HQ, which delivers election results to media outlets. “I don’t think it’s penetrated enough in the average viewer’s mind that there’s not going to be an election night. The usual razzmatazz of a panel sitting around discussing election results — that’s dead.”

Fred C. Dobbs said...

These conservatives’ focus: ‘owning the libs.’

When Democrats think of Mr. Trump’s allies in the conservative media, they might immediately picture Sean Hannity or Tucker Carlson, who make dogged defenses of the president on Fox News.

But another group of conservative commentators — who have large social media followings, successful podcasts and daily Fox News appearances themselves — has also helped insulate the president and preserve his popularity with his base, even as many Americans say they are likely to vote against him in November.

These writers and pundits, including Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist and the author and podcast host Ben Shapiro, don’t tend to fiercely defend Mr. Trump. Often, they don’t bother at all with the awkward business of trying to explain away Mr. Trump’s latest folly.

Instead, they offer an outlet for outrage against those the president has declared his enemies, often by reducing them to a culture war caricature of liberalism.

The capacity that many Trump supporters have developed to focus so intensely on the perceived wrongdoing of his opponents is a powerful asset for the president as he runs for re-election amid growing economic and social turmoil and a public health crisis that a majority of voters say they don’t trust him to handle.

This almost entirely white cohort of conservative commentators can spend ample time mocking the mainstream and liberal media for focusing on Mr. Trump’s racist and divisive messaging without giving nearly as much consideration to the harm caused, for instance, when he promotes a video of someone shouting “white power.”

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Relief package deal remains elusive as disagreements over jobless benefits persist

NY Times via @BostonGlobe - August 2

WASHINGTON — Top Trump administration officials and lawmakers cautioned Sunday that a deal over a new relief package to help people and businesses weather the coronavirus crisis remained elusive even as the debate over the details of the aid was set to take center stage in the coming week.

A meeting Saturday in the Capitol Hill suite of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been the most productive discussion in recent days, officials said, but they remain divided on a number of issues, including how to revive lapsed unemployment benefits for tens of millions of Americans and how broad any deal should be.

“We still have a long ways to go,” Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, who is negotiating on behalf of the administration, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I’m not optimistic that there will be a solution in the very near term.”

He continued to push for Democrats to agree to a stand-alone measure that would restore the weekly federal jobless benefits, which expired Friday, as a way to continue providing relief.

But Pelosi, who is expected to again meet with administration officials Monday, reiterated that she would reject a so-called skinny bill in favor of a sweeping package that includes a national health strategy to counter the spread of the virus and extend the full $600-a-week unemployment benefit.

She charged that Meadows and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, remained reluctant to commit to a strategic health plan or to address the needs of American families.

“We have to defeat the virus, and that’s one of the contentious issues that we have to deal with yet,” Pelosi said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“We will be close to an agreement when we have an agreement,” she added.

Lawmakers have already approved spending nearly $3 trillion to address the public health crisis and economic collapse caused by the pandemic, but the two parties remain bitterly divided over the scope and cost of another relief package. Democrats, who remain publicly united behind the $3 trillion stimulus measure the House approved in May, contend that another significant infusion of cash is necessary. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

(TikTok, TikTok)

Trump Reverses Course on TikTok

Opening Door to Microsoft Bid

WASHINGTON — President Trump gave the go-ahead for Microsoft to pursue an acquisition of TikTok, in his first public comments about the popular Chinese-owned video app after he had threatened to ban it from the United States entirely.

Speaking at the White House on Monday, Mr. Trump said that TikTok would shut down on Sept. 15 unless Microsoft or another company purchased it, and that he had suggested in a call this weekend that the chief executive of Microsoft “go ahead” with the acquisition.

“It can’t be controlled for security reasons by China,” Mr. Trump said of TikTok, adding that he did not mind if Microsoft or another very secure, “very American” company bought it instead.

Mr. Trump said that such a purchase would funnel a large amount of money to China, and argued that the United States should receive money in return for letting the deal happen, without explaining how that would work.

“A very substantial portion of that price is going to have to come into the Treasury of the United States, because we’re making it possible for this deal to happen,” Mr. Trump said.

His comments indicated at least a temporary reprieve for TikTok, which has come under scrutiny in Washington for its Chinese ownership. Trump administration officials and lawmakers of both parties have argued that the app, which is known for dance videos and other fun viral clips, could pose a national security threat by potentially giving the Chinese government access to vast quantities of American user data. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Trump derides Democrats

as lawmakers and administration officials try to break stimulus impasse.

Mr. Trump on Monday hurled insults at Democratic leaders who were huddling with his top advisers in search of a compromise economic recovery package, threatening to act on his own to ban evictions as he again undercut negotiations to reach a broader deal.

Mr. Trump floated the possibility of using an executive order to address an expired federal moratorium on evictions, even though a $1 trillion Republican aid proposal did not include such a pause. He said he remained “totally involved” in stimulus talks, even though he wasn’t “over there with Crazy Nancy,” a reference to Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.

But the president has been notably absent from the negotiations on a sweeping economic stabilization package, even as tens of millions of Americans have been cut off from enhanced jobless benefits they have depended on for months during the coronavirus pandemic.

At the same moment that Mr. Trump was blasting her, Ms. Pelosi met on Capitol Hill with Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, and Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, in search of a compromise. It was the fifth such meeting in eight days, following a staff policy call on Sunday and a rare Saturday session with the four negotiators.

At the White House, Mr. Trump accused Democrats of being single-mindedly focused on getting “bailout money” for states controlled by Democrats, and unconcerned with extending unemployment benefits.

“All they’re really interested in is bailout money to bail out radical left governors and radical left mayors like in Portland and places that are so badly run — Chicago, New York City,” Mr. Trump said.

Democrats have proposed providing more than $900 billion to cash-strapped states and cities whose budgets have been devastated in the recession, but it is Republicans who have proposed slashing the jobless aid. Democrats have refused to do so, feeding the stalemate. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Spoiler alert: "Professor Lichtman just made my day! I do feel
hopeful we can be rid of the worst president in U.S. history.
Waiting to exhale...."

He Predicted Trump’s Win in 2016. Now He’s Ready to Call 2020

NYH Times - August 5

Most historians just study the past. But
Allan Lichtman has successfully predicted the future.

Right now, polls say Joe Biden has a healthy lead over President Trump. But we’ve been here before (cue 2016), and the polls were, frankly, wrong. One man, however, was not. The historian Allan Lichtman was the lonely forecaster who predicted Mr. Trump’s victory in 2016 — and also prophesied the president would be impeached. That’s two for two. But Professor Lichtman’s record goes much deeper. In 1980, he developed a presidential prediction model that retrospectively accounted for 120 years of U.S. election history. Over the past four decades, his system has accurately called presidential victors, from Ronald Reagan in ’84 to, well, Mr. Trump in 2016.

In the video Op-Ed above, Professor Lichtman walks us through his system, which identifies 13 “keys” to winning the White House. Each key is a binary statement: true or false. And if six or more keys are false, the party in the White House is on its way out.

So what do the keys predict for 2020? To learn that, you’ll have to watch the video.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Russia Continues Interfering in Election to Try to Help Trump, US Intelligence Says

NY Times - August 7

WASHINGTON — Russia is using a range of techniques to denigrate Joseph R. Biden Jr., American intelligence officials said Friday in their first public assessment that Moscow continues to try to interfere in the 2020 campaign to help President Trump.

At the same time, the officials said China preferred that Mr. Trump be defeated in November and was weighing whether to take more aggressive action in the election.

But officials briefed on the intelligence said that Russia was the far graver, and more immediate, threat. While China seeks to gain influence in American politics, its leaders have not yet decided to wade directly into the presidential contest, however much they may dislike Mr. Trump, the officials said.

The assessment, included in a statement released by William R. Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, suggested the intelligence community was treading carefully, reflecting the political heat generated by previous findings.

The White House has objected in the past to conclusions that Moscow is working to help Mr. Trump, and Democrats on Capitol Hill have expressed growing concern that the intelligence agencies are not being forthright enough about Russia’s preference for him and that the agencies are introducing China’s anti-Trump stance to balance the scales.

The assessment appeared to draw a distinction between what it called the “range of measures” being deployed by Moscow to influence the election and its conclusion that China prefers that Mr. Trump be defeated. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Unwanted Truths: Inside Trump’s Battles With US Intelligence Agencies

NY Times magazine - Robert Draper - August 8

Last year, intelligence officials gathered to write a classified
report on Russia’s interest in the 2020 election. An investigation
from the magazine uncovered what happened next.

... The president’s displeasure with any suggestion that he was Putin’s favorite factored into the discussion over the N.I.E. that summer, in particular the “back and forth,” as Dan Coats, then the director of national intelligence, put it, over the assessment that Russia favored Trump in 2020. Eventually, this debate made it to Coats’s desk. “I can affirm that one of my staffers who was aware of the controversy requested that I modify that assessment,” Coats told me recently. “But I said, ‘No, we need to stick to what the analysts have said.’”

Coats had been director of national intelligence since early in Trump’s presidency, but his tenure had been rocky at times, and earlier that year, he and Trump agreed to part ways; Coats expected to resign near the end of September. So it surprised him when on July 28, not long after he was approached about the change to the N.I.E., Trump announced via Twitter that Coats’s last day in office would be Aug. 15. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Virus aid talks collapse; no help expected for jobless now

AP via @BostonGlobe - August 8

WASHINGTON — A last-ditch effort by Democrats to revive Capitol Hill talks on vital COVID-19 rescue money collapsed in disappointment at week’s end, making it increasingly likely that Washington gridlock will mean more hardship for millions of people who are losing enhanced jobless benefits and further damage for an economy pummeled by the still-raging coronavirus.

President Donald Trump said Friday night he was likely to issue more limited executive orders related to COVID, perhaps in the next day or so, if he can't reach a broad agreement with Congress.

The day's negotiations at the Capitol added up to only "a disappointing meeting,” declared top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer, saying the White House had rejected an offer by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to curb Democratic demands by about $1 trillion. He urged the White House to “negotiate with Democrats and meet us in the middle. Don’t say it’s your way or no way.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, "Unfortunately we did not make any progress today.” Republicans said Pelosi was relying on budget maneuvers to curb costs and contended she has overplayed her hand.

Often an impasse in Washington is of little consequence for the public — not so this time. It means longer and perhaps permanent expiration of a $600 per-week bonus pandemic jobless benefit that’s kept millions of people from falling into poverty. It denies more than $100 billion to help schools reopen this fall. It blocks additional funding for virus testing as cases are surging this summer. And it denies billions of dollars to state and local governments considering furloughs as their revenue craters.

Ahead is uncertainty. Both the House and Senate have left Washington, with members sent home on instructions to be ready to return for a vote on an agreement. With no deal in sight, their absence raises the possibility of a prolonged stalemate that stretches well into August and even September.

Speaking from his New Jersey golf club Friday evening, Trump said “if Democrats continue to hold this critical relief hostage I will act under my authority as president to get Americans the relief they need.”

Trump said he may issue executive orders on home evictions, student loan debt and allowing states to repurpose COVID relief funding into their unemployment insurance programs. He also said he'll likely issue an executive order to defer collection of Social Security payroll taxes, an idea that has less support among his Republican allies. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Millions of evictions a sharper threat as government support ends

NY Times via @BostonGlobe - August 8

(Not to mention the impact on landlords,
like Trumps and Kushners.)

For the 108 million people who live in a rental home or apartment, Aug. 1 was a grim milestone. It marked the first time rent was due after much of the nation’s economic response to the coronavirus had expired.

The lapse of expanded unemployment benefits and federal, state and local eviction moratoriums is forcing lawmakers to figure out how to extend those protections. It has also left experts resorting to natural disaster metaphors (“avalanche,” “tsunami”) to describe the scale of potential evictions.

Unlike the U.S. economy, which was enjoying the longest expansion on record, housing — specifically rental housing — was troubled before the virus hit, with problems going back decades. A little under 4 million evictions are filed each year, 1 in 4 tenant households spends about half its pretax income on rent, and each night some 200,000 people sleep in their cars, on streets or under bridges. ...

On Friday, after talks between the Trump administration and Democrats effectively stalled, advisers to President Donald Trump said they would recommend that he extend the moratorium through an executive order.

The moratoriums were supposed to be emergency measures to give tenants some relief until the virus subsided and the economy returned to health.

Except that didn’t happen. The virus continues to surge around the country, and parents are unsure when schools will reopen. Each week more than 1 million laid-off employees continue to file for unemployment insurance, while temporary layoffs are becoming permanent job losses.

Landlords hold that the most extreme predictions of evictions are overblown. For starters, the limited data available suggests that most tenants have stayed current on their bills. Also, property owners, facing rising vacancies and falling rents, are increasingly working out rent cuts and extended payment plans. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

What’s Ahead For U.S. Renters And Landlords

via @forbes - July 5

... many of the roughly 43 million renter households in the country have made at least incremental rent payments in the four months of the Covid-19 outbreak. The National Multifamily Housing Council’s rent payment tracker shows that 94.2% of households in market-rate apartments covered their rent either in full or in part last month ...

Industry experts argue that despite the precipitous drop in employment, many renters have continued to make payments thanks to generous unemployment benefits. Beyond the conventional state unemployment benefits, which can amount to as much as a half of lost income, the supplemental $600 a week in federal support has been credited with keeping renters afloat.

“The enhanced unemployment benefits are very important to people, especially those that are in lower paying jobs,” Pinnegar told me a month ago. “They're really helping them to make ends meet and to be able to put food on the table, to pay their utilities and to pay their rent. The challenge is going to be going forward.”

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Sidestepping Congress, Trump Signs Executive Measures for Pandemic Relief

NY Times - August 8

President Trump took executive action on Saturday to circumvent Congress and try to extend an array of federal pandemic relief, resorting to a legally dubious set of edicts whose impact was unclear, as negotiations over an economic recovery package appeared on the brink of collapse.

It was not clear what authority Mr. Trump had to act on his own on the measures or what immediate effect, if any, they would have, given that Congress controls federal spending. But his decision to sign the measures — billed as a federal eviction ban, a payroll tax suspension, and relief for student borrowers and $400 a week for the unemployed — reflected the failure of two weeks of talks between White House officials and top congressional Democrats to strike a deal on a broad relief plan as crucial benefits have expired with no resolution in sight.

Mr. Trump’s move also illustrated the heightened concern of a president staring down re-election in the middle of a historic recession and a pandemic, and determined to show voters that he was doing something to address the crises. But despite Mr. Trump’s assertions on Saturday that his actions “will take care of this entire situation,” the orders also leave a number of critical bipartisan funding proposals unaddressed, including providing assistance to small businesses, billions of dollars to schools ahead of the new school year, aid to states and cities and a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks to Americans.

“Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have chosen to hold this vital assistance hostage,” Mr. Trump said, savaging the two top Democrats and their $3.4 trillion opening offer during a news conference at his private golf club in New Jersey, his second in two days. A few dozen club guests were in attendance, and the president appeared to revel in their laughter at his jokes denouncing his political rivals.

“We’ve had it,” he added, repeatedly referring to his directives as “bills,” a term reserved for legislation passed by Congress. He accused the Democrats of holding up negotiations with demands for provisions that appeared to have little to do with the pandemic, though he made little mention of comparable items in the $1 trillion proposal Republicans unveiled last month.

Democrats have refused to agree to that plan, pressing instead for a far more expansive economic relief package, at least twice as large, that would provide billions more for states and cities and food aid, and revive the lapsed $600-per-week enhanced federal jobless aid payments. (Republicans are proposing to revive the payments, but at a rate of $400 a week.)

It was unclear whether the effort to bypass Congress would kill the already-stalled negotiations altogether, though Mr. Trump told reporters he would be open to continuing the discussions and Democratic leaders responded by demanding that the talks resume. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

... Shortly after the event on Saturday, the White House released texts of the measures — one executive order and three memorandums — which included several flourishes that read like political documents in accusing Democrats of playing games. One invoked the Stafford Act, a federal disaster relief statute, to divert money from a homeland security fund and allow states to use money already allocated by Congress to help people who have been laid off amid the coronavirus pandemic, effectively allowing them to apply for disaster relief to cover lost wages. The mechanism would pull from the same fund that covers natural disasters in the middle of what is expected to be a highly active hurricane season.

Mr. Trump claimed that the action would provide $400 weekly in enhanced unemployment benefits, $200 less than laid-off workers had been receiving under benefits that lapsed at the end of July. But with states being directed to pick up $100 of that aid, the federal amount would be no more than $300 a week.

And there is another catch — the text of the memorandum says that the $300 can only be paid to people who first qualify for $100 in aid paid by their state.

It was unclear how quickly states, whose unemployment systems had already been overburdened by the record numbers of new jobless claims, would be able to adjust to a new system, or whether they will have the resources to supplement an additional benefit.

“If they don’t, they don’t — that’s going to be their problem,” Mr. Trump said.

He also retroactively signed a memorandum suspending the payroll tax from Aug. 1 through the end of 2020, though the order would just defer the payment of the taxes. (Mr. Trump vowed that if re-elected in November, he would extend the deferral and the payments.)

If Mr. Trump tried to make a payroll tax cut permanent, it would have a drastic effect on the funding of Social Security, which he has previously vowed not to cut.

The memorandum that Mr. Trump called a moratorium on evictions did not revive the expired moratorium that was part of the $2.2 trillion stimulus law passed in March. Instead, it said that federal policy was to minimize evictions during the pandemic and that officials should identify statutory ways to help homeowners and renters.

Long before taking office, Mr. Trump criticized Barack Obama for what he described as an overreliance on executive orders to accomplish policy goals that had been blocked by Congress, but in acting unilaterally, Mr. Trump was vastly expanding the use of such measures. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Presidential Actions

Aug 8, 2020

Memorandum on Authorizing the Other Needs Assistance Program for Major Disaster Declarations Related to Coronavirus Disease 2019

Memorandum on Deferring Payroll Tax Obligations in Light of the Ongoing COVID-19 Disaster

Executive Order on Fighting the Spread of COVID-19 by Providing Assistance to Renters and Homeowners

Memorandum on Continued Student Loan Payment Relief During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Congrats, Joe Biden’s running mate!

via @BostonGlobe - August 8

Congratulations [insert name here]!

After much deliberation, and frenzied speculation, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has chosen you as his running mate!

Of the eleventy spectacular, accomplished women whose names have been floating about for months, you have emerged as the most valuable, electorally. You are clearly a superstar!

You’ve run plenty of gauntlets in your career, but this one was the tippety topper. You made it through the grueling vetting process, the polls and focus groups to gauge your appeal, the trial balloons and dredgings-up of your imperfections and long-ago missteps.

And you are intact, more or less. Thanks to that nice thick skin you’ve grown over a lifetime of being held to standards that magically evaporated when it came to the men around you. Your whole life has been a quest for that elusive sweet spot, which you’d swear does not exist, but for the fact that many voters know it when they see it and wonder why you and every other woman can’t seem to find it. It’s right there, between too old and too young; dumpy and too attractive; smart and lecture-y; pushy and pushover; passionate and angry. At that same spot also lies likability, authenticity, a nice laugh, and a standable voice.

There, too, you will find that divine balance between healthy and unhealthy ambition. That last one appears from some reports to have been especially important to Biden advisors, who let it be known that they didn’t want the veep nominee to be eyeing the top job, lest she try to outshine him in the White House.

It’s odd that this doesn’t seem to have been a problem when Biden was selected as Barack Obama’s running mate: Biden clearly wanted to be president, having twice run unsuccessfully for the nomination before ascending to the number two spot. Yet that didn’t stop him from being a fiercely loyal second fiddle.

But in the lead-up to Biden’s announcement, it seemed like his advisers didn’t trust some veep candidates to do the same. It seems an odd standard, but you’ve met it: You’re ready to step into the top job — to succeed, if need be, a 77-year-old nominee who has called himself a transitional figure — but you don’t really, really want to do it. Well done!

Of course, no matter what you’ve told the codgers, you will overshadow Biden. How could you not? Like every other woman considered for this job, you’re younger, more vibrant and more eloquent than he is, more fluent on policy, and definitely less gaffe-prone. You’re a trailblazer whose ascension would be historic. You could not fade into the background if you wanted to.

But let’s not dwell on all of that. Now is the time to celebrate!

Quickly, though, because you have, oh, about five minutes before the garbage starts raining down upon you. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

It is what it is.

President Trump signs four executive orders after economic relief talks with Democrats collapsed

Washington Post via @BostonGlobe - August 8

Trump claims his orders will provide a supplement to
Americans' unemployment checks and defer payroll tax payments.

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Saturday bypassed the nation's lawmakers as he claimed the authority to defer payroll taxes and replace an expired unemployment benefit with a lower amount after negotiations with Congress on a new coronavirus rescue package collapsed.

Trump's orders encroached on Congress' control of federal spending and seemed likely to be met with legal challenges. The president cast his actions as necessary given that lawmakers have been unable to reach an agreement to plunge more money into the stumbling economy, which has imperiled his November reelection.

Trump moved to continue paying a supplemental federal unemployment benefit for millions of Americans out of work during the outbreak. However, his order called for up to $400 payments each week, one-third less than the $600 people had been receiving. How many people would receive the benefit and how long it might take to arrive were open questions.

The previous unemployment benefit, which expired on Aug. 1, was fully funded by Washington, but Trump is asking states to now cover 25%. He is seeking to set aside $44 billion in previously approved disaster aid to help states, but said it would be up to states to determine how much, if any of it, to fund, so the benefits could be smaller still. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

(The progressives' main problem with Kamala Harris:)

‘Top Cop’ Kamala Harris’s Record of Policing the Police

NY Times - August 9

... As a leading contender to be Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s running mate, Ms. Harris has emerged as a strong voice on issues of police misconduct that seem certain to be central to the campaign. Yet in her own, unsuccessful presidential run, she struggled to reconcile her calls for reform with her record on these same issues during a long career in law enforcement.

Indeed, an examination of that record shows how Ms. Harris was far more reticent in another time of ferment a half-decade ago.

Since becoming California’s attorney general in 2011, she had largely avoided intervening in cases involving killings by the police. Protesters in Oakland distributed fliers saying: “Tell California Attorney General Kamala Harris to prosecute killer cops! It’s her job!”

Then, amid the national outrage stoked by the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., came pleas for her to investigate a series of police shootings in San Francisco, where she had previously been district attorney. She did not step in. Except in extraordinary circumstances, she said, it was not her job.

Still, her approach was subtly shifting. During the inaugural address for her second term as attorney general, Ms. Harris said the nation’s police forces faced a “crisis of confidence.” And by the end of her tenure in 2016, she had proposed a modest expansion of her office’s powers to investigate police misconduct, begun reviews of two municipal police departments and backed a Justice Department investigation in San Francisco. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

If Trump loses, expect him to exact revenge on his way out

Boston Globe - Ralph Nader - August 10

During a July 21 speech, Trump asserted that Article II
of the Constitution gives him “the right to do whatever
I want as president.”

Beware of the perils of President Trump’s infernal interregnum between Nov. 4 and Jan. 20, 2021, should he lose the election. During a speech in July, Trump asserted that Article II of the Constitution gives him “the right to do whatever I want as president.” In an interview with Fox’s Chris Wallace last month, he suggested he may not accept the results of the November election should he lose, saying “I have to see.” Some have walked out the possibility of Trump creating a post-election constitutional crisis.

If he is defeated, he may demonstrate his vengeance in the 77 days between the election and inauguration. Here are some actions that he could unleash:

(Do various Trumpy things, and...)

▪ Intensify the use of the Justice Department and his personal lawyers to challenge in every frivolous, obstructive way the results of the election in selected states, no matter what the margin of his defeat.

▪ Make a living obstructive hell for the Joe Biden transition team to impair the work of the new administration, while Trump allies engage in coverups and petty harassments.

▪ Pave the way abroad for his family’s business deals.

Of course, some of these destructive eruptions would be short-term and revocable by the incoming administration — but not all. Still, it won’t deter Trump, who relishes the chaos, confusion, and disarray he inflicts on each day’s news cycle. He’s honed that skill right up to his impulsive, disastrous bungling of the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s why the widespread demand for his resignation is important. With his disastrous, daily mishandling of the pandemic as well as his drop in his polls, he may find an excuse to leave because he can’t stand losing. But if he doesn’t, prepare for his revenge on his way out of office.

(Ralph Nader is best remembered as the spoiler in
the 2000 election where confused Florida voters chose him,
maybe, over Al Gore & obtained the presidency for George Bush Jr.)

Nader Elected Bush: Why We Shouldn't Forget

Fred C. Dobbs said...

(The tension in the land is palpable, but mostly for other reasons.)

It's decision time for Joe Biden

AP via @usatoday - August 9

WASHINGTON – The week Joe Biden will announce his running mate has finally arrived.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Susan Rice, former national security adviser to President Barack Obama, have emerged as the top contenders. Either one would make history as the first Black woman to be a running mate.

Biden, who has made it clear earlier he'll choose a woman as his running mate, is also considering Rep. Karen Bass of California, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Rep. Val Demings of Florida, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Biden’s VP Pick Is Said to Be Imminent

NY Times - August 10

WILMINGTON, Del. — Joseph R. Biden Jr. has told allies that he has interviewed every finalist in his vice-presidential search, and his advisers are planning an announcement for the middle of the week, people briefed on the selection process said on Monday.

In a sign that the choice is now in Mr. Biden’s hands alone, the four-member committee that screened his potential running mates is said to have effectively disbanded — its work is complete, Biden allies said, and there is little left to do except for Mr. Biden to make up his mind.

Mr. Biden’s political team has prepared rollout plans for several of the finalists, and he is expected to announce his decision as soon as Tuesday, though more Democrats expect it to come on Wednesday. The former vice president, however, has not been known for his punctuality so far in the presidential race and the timeline could well slip again.

Mr. Biden has spoken with the vice-presidential candidates through a combination of in-person sessions and remote meetings over the last few weeks, but the exact timing and circumstances of all of the meetings are not clear. Close advisers to Mr. Biden said he had been directly in touch with all of the leading candidates. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Russian vaccine works ‘effectively enough,’ President Putin said.

NY Times - August 11

A Russian health care regulator has become the first in the world to approve a vaccine for the coronavirus, President Vladimir V. Putin announced on Tuesday, though the vaccine has yet to complete clinical trials.

The Russian dash for a vaccine has already raised international concerns that Moscow is cutting corners on testing to score political and propaganda points.

Mr. Putin’s announcement came despite a caution last week from the World Health Organization that Russia should not stray from the usual methods of testing a vaccine for safety and effectiveness.

Mr. Putin’s announcement became essentially a claim of victory in the global race for a vaccine, something Russian officials have been telegraphing for several weeks now despite the absence of published information about any late-phase testing.

“It works effectively enough, forms a stable immunity and, I repeat, it has gone through all necessary tests,” Mr. Putin told a cabinet meeting Tuesday morning. He thanked the scientists who developed the vaccine for “this first, very important step for our country, and generally for the whole world.”

Mr. Putin also said that one of his daughters had taken the vaccine.

The Russian vaccine, along with many others under development in a number of countries in the effort to alleviate a worldwide health crisis that has killed at least 734,900 people, sped through early monkey and human trials with apparent success.

But the Russian scientific body that developed the vaccine, the Gamaleya Institute, has yet to conduct Phase III tests on tens of thousands of volunteers in highly controlled trials, a process seen as the only method of ensuring a vaccine is actually safe and effective. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Virus cases have surpassed 20 million worldwide

NY Times - August 11

The coronavirus has now sickened more than 20 million people worldwide, a number that has doubled in about six weeks, according to a New York Times database. The global death toll has reached nearly 735,000.

More than 200,000 cases are being reported each day on average, according to the database.

The United States leads all countries in cases, with 5.1 million. More than 47,000 cases and more than 530 deaths were announced across the nation Monday. The next highest caseloads are Brazil, with three million confirmed cases, and India, with 2.3 million.

After lockdowns went into effect across the world in March, cases leveled off in April. But as countries began to reopen again, cases started to rise. The virus is resurgent in Europe at the moment, with Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain among the countries seeing cases rise. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Trump considers a rule that would block Americans thought to have the virus from returning home

NY Times - August 11

President Trump is considering new immigration regulations that would allow border officials to temporarily block American citizens and legal permanent residents from returning to the United States from abroad if authorities believe they may be infected with the coronavirus.

In recent months, Mr. Trump has imposed sweeping rules that ban entry by foreigners into the United States, citing the risk of allowing the virus to spread from hot spots abroad. But those rules have exempted two categories of people attempting to return: American citizens and noncitizens who have already established legal residence.

Now, a draft regulation would expand the government’s power to prevent entry by citizens and legal residents in individual, limited circumstances. Federal agencies have been asked to submit feedback on the proposal to the White House by Tuesday, though it is unclear when it might be approved or announced. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

States grapple with how to pay

...for their part of the unemployment benefits that Trump promised.

Even as President Trump promised relief for tens of millions of unemployed Americans who saw critical $600-a-week benefits lapse at the end of July, it was unclear how quickly states would be able to set up the new system required to distribute aid under Mr. Trump’s executive action.

Experts warn that because the administration can only divert existing aid without the congressional approval of new funds, the combination of aid siphoned from a disaster relief fund with state aid may only last for a few weeks.

Mr. Trump said on Monday that “a lot of money will be going to a lot of people very quickly.” He said he had instructed Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, to move as quickly as possible to make it happen. It was unclear whether the aid would materialize if lawsuits were filed challenging the legality of the president’s actions.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said Mr. Trump’s directive would cost his state about $4 billion by the end of the year, making it little more than a fantasy. Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, said that no New Yorker would see enhanced unemployment benefits because of the president.

Even some Republican governors said the order could strain their budgets and worried it would take weeks for tens of millions of unemployed Americans to begin seeing the benefit. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Trump’s false push on preexisting conditions

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is teasing the possibility of executive action to require health insurance companies to cover preexisting medical conditions, something that he says “has never been done before.”

It’s been done before.

People with such medical problems have health insurance protections because of President Barack Obama’s health care law, which Trump is trying to dismantle. ...

The Emperor of the Northern provences said...

So many opinions far more complaints. Outright attacks on everything. But almost NO offering solutions They are so eager to tell you their "Opinion" of everything they think is wrong. Mostly they just rant and rave from frustration. They Government they complain about hasn't solved their problem. It's so ironic. There was a time things were different, People actually solved their own problems. Or if necessary formed a group to solve the problem. Point being Problems got solved, life went on. Not now, it's always someone else at fault. Personal responsibility, no longer exists. Cowards and weaklings replaced leaders who bravely took on the challenge of the unknown.And solved the problem. The too liberal left has morphed into a Cult religion, that practices Human sacrifice, creates guilt so it can control it as a political weapon. While it rewrites history. And installs a new vocabulary. Winston warned this was coming. Ben told us we were given a Republic, if we could keep it. There is only a sliver left and a sliver of time to rescue it. Where are the Brave when you need them? Will they rise in time and sweep the enemy out with the rest of the garbage? I have to believe they will. And that is the reason Capt. Bob is digging that miles deep hole in the middle of the swamp, it's a burial pit, the back fill will create a new mountain tall enough to tickle the clouds. Lead on McDuff millions are waiting to follow you into battle.

Fred C. Dobbs said...

A president ignored: Trump’s outlandish claims increasingly met with a collective shrug

Washington Post - August 9

Shortly after a deadly explosion in Beirut this week, President Trump offered a theory — backed by no apparent evidence — that the devastating incident was “a terrible attack,” claiming “some of our great generals” thought it was likely the result of “a bomb of some kind.”

Such a bold proclamation from a U.S. president would usually set off worldwide alarms. Yet aside from some initial concern among Lebanese officials, Trump’s assertions were largely met with a collective global shrug.

More than 3½ years into his presidency, Trump increasingly finds himself minimized and ignored — as many of his more outlandish or false statements are briefly considered and then, just as quickly, dismissed. The slide into partial irrelevance could make it even more difficult for Trump as he seeks reelection as the nation’s leader amid a pandemic and economic collapse.

In battling the coronavirus crisis, which has left more than 158,000 Americans dead, many of the nation’s governors have disregarded the president’s nebulous recommendations, instead opting for what they believe is best for their residents. So have the nation’s schools, with many of the country’s largest districts preparing for distance learning when they reopen this fall, despite Trump’s repeated calls for kids to return to classrooms in person. And the president’s own top public health officials are routinely contradicting him in public — offering grim, fact-based assessments of the raging virus in contrast to his own frequently rosy proclamations.

Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, never seriously entertained Trump’s desire for a payroll tax cut in the latest coronavirus stimulus bill, and the president has been more of a spectator than a key player in negotiations. Even former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, often seems to ignore the president he is running against, focusing his messaging elsewhere. ...

Biden, meanwhile, has made a core theme of his campaign the argument that Trump’s lack of credibility is eroding the presidency, as well as the relevancy of the United States on the world stage. He has called the president a “charlatan” and “a serial liar,” and criticized his response to the coronavirus, saying he should not be listened to.

“He’s like a child who just can’t believe this has happened to him,” Biden said during a speech earlier this summer.

At times, Biden has tried ignoring Trump altogether — or, when he does engage, doing so with a tone of exasperated mockery.

“I can’t believe I have to say this, but please don’t drink bleach,” Biden wrote on Twitter in April, after Trump suggested injecting disinfectant as a means of combating the coronavirus, in a missive that became the platform’s most-liked tweet that week.

John Anzalone, Biden’s pollster, said the strategy against Trump works because “a supermajority of people believe he’s a liar, so he can come into the Situation Room or he can come into people’s living rooms and they don’t believe him.”

That represents an electoral weakness for Trump, Anzalone said, making it harder for the president to effectively diminish Biden. Part of that, he said, is how the public views Biden — as a generally decent man — but part of that is the president’s own credibility deficit.

“His problem is that there’s also a collective shrug when he attacks Joe Biden,” Anzalone said. “He attacks, attacks, attacks, but people don’t believe his attacks. They kind of eye-roll and they shrug.” ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

What Is QAnon?

At least 14 Republican candidates with links to QAnon have made their way into runoffs or onto the ballot this November.

QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory and loosely organized network centered around the belief that the U.S. is controlled by a cabal of child sex trafficking, Democratic elites hell-bent on bringing down President Trump.

Followers believe these elites, led by Dr. Anthony Fauci, have gone so far as to manufacture the coronavirus to bring Trump down. They heed cryptic online dispatches of someone named Q who's anonymous — hence QAnon — who claims the highest government security clearance.

QAnon adherence includes people young and old of many backgrounds who try to push their “deep state” narrative into the mainstream. They show up at Trump rallies in Q merchandise, shirts and hats. President Trump has retweeted Q-supporting accounts many times — including at least 90 times since the pandemic began, says Alex Kaplan of Media Matters. ...


Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon Supporter, Wins House Primary in Georgia

NY Times - August 11

Conspiracy theorists won a major victory on Tuesday as a Republican supporter of the convoluted pro-Trump movement QAnon triumphed in her House primary runoff election in Georgia, all but ensuring that she will represent a deep-red district in Congress.

The ascension of Marjorie Taylor Greene, who embraces a conspiracy theory that the F.B.I. has labeled a potential domestic terrorism threat, came as six states held primary and runoff elections on Tuesday.

Those races included a well-funded Democratic primary challenge to Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who emerged victorious to secure a clean sweep of re-election fights for the group of first-term Democratic congresswomen of color known as the Squad. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said...

Israel and United Arab Emirates Strike Major Diplomatic Agreement

NY Times - August 13

President Trump announced that Israel and the United Arab Emirates will establish “full normalization of relations” and that in exchange Israel will forgo for now “declaring sovereignty” over disputed West Bank territory.

... and forgo for now plans to annex occupied West Bank territory in order to focus on improving its ties with the rest of the Arab world.

In a surprise statement issued by the White House, Mr. Trump said that Israel and the U.A.E. will sign a string of bilateral agreements on investment, tourism, security, technology, energy and other areas while moving to allow direct flights between their countries and set up reciprocal embassies in each other’s nation.

“As a result of this diplomatic breakthrough and at the request of President Trump with the support of the United Arab Emirates, Israel will suspend declaring sovereignty over areas outlined in the President’s Vision for Peace and focus its efforts now on expanding ties with other countries in the Arab and Muslim world,” according to a statement released by the White House and described as a joint declaration of Israel, the U.A.E. and the United States.

Mr. Trump summoned reporters to the Oval Office and said that he had spoken with leaders of the two countries. “Things are happening that I can’t talk about” but they are amazing, he told the reporters. ...