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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,622

Journal Archives

The Useful Idiot: How Donald Trump killed the Republican Party with racism and the rest of us.....

The Useful Idiot
How Donald Trump killed the Republican Party with racism and the rest of us with coronavirus.

By S.V. Date

The following is excerpted from “The Useful Idiot: How Donald Trump Killed the Republican Party with Racism and the Rest of Us with Coronavirus,” by S.V. Dáte.

(HuffPost) A pandemic never occurred to them. The idea that Donald Trump would ever be required to sit still, pay attention and make rational decisions that would determine whether hundreds of thousands of Americans would live or die not once crossed the minds of those who put him into the Oval Office.

Oh, they all had their various reasons for wanting him there. For white evangelical Christians, he had explicitly promised to appoint the federal judges they had so longed for to turn back the nation’s cultural clock. For Mitch McConnell, a Trump win — as unlikely as it seemed — was the only real path to making sure Republicans retained control of the Senate and he himself remained majority leader. And for Vladimir Putin, having Trump in the White House — as unlikely as it seemed — would be a dream come true, an opportunity to wreak havoc on his longtime adversary and weaken its historic alliance with Western Europe.

Russia’s dictator, of course, was not remotely interested in what Trump’s ascension might mean for Americans in the event of an actual calamity. If they were dumb enough to vote for him, well, they deserved whatever they got. In any event, it was not his problem.

As for Trump’s American supporters, perhaps so much time had passed since Sept. 11, 2001, that the idea of a genuine national emergency was but a faded memory. Perhaps the quiet competence that President Barack Obama’s team had employed with the 2009 flu pandemic and later with the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak had diminished the perceived threat that a simple virus could present. ..............(more)


Unemployment Crisis Going in Wrong Direction: Week 25 of U.S. Labor Market Collapse

Unemployment Crisis Going in Wrong Direction: Week 25 of U.S. Labor Market Collapse
by Wolf Richter • Sep 10, 2020 •

Continued unemployment claims rise for second week, to 29.6 million, worst since Aug 1, meaning 18.4% of labor force is on unemployment insurance. State & federal initial claims jumped to 1.7 million in the week (not seasonally adjusted).

Total continued claims for unemployment insurance (UI) under all state and federal programs rose by 380,000, to 29.6 million people (not seasonally adjusted), the highest since August 1, according to the Department of Labor this morning. This was the second weekly increase in a row, after the 2.2-million jump last week.

These 29.6 million people who continued to claim UI under all programs translate into 18.4% of the civilian labor force of 161 million:

Blue columns – continued claims under state programs: +54k

The number of people who continued claiming UI under state programs rose by 54k to 13.2 million (not seasonally adjusted), the first increase after five decreases in a row. .........(more)


Donald Trump's fatal flaw: Of his many defects, Bob Woodward may have identified the worst

Donald Trump’s fatal flaw: Of his many defects, Bob Woodward may have identified the worst
Trump's failures come from a deep, dark well of fear and cowardice. He doesn't believe in anything, even himself

SEPTEMBER 12, 2020 12:00PM (UTC)

(Salon) According to interviews recorded by Bob Woodward for his book, "Rage," Donald Trump was briefed by national security adviser Robert O'Brien on Jan. 28 of this year that the coronavirus "will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency," that the virus was five times more deadly than ordinary flu, that it was spread when "you just breathe the air," and that it would soon become a worldwide pandemic. At the moment Trump told Woodward these things, on Feb. 7, the president had one job: Persuade the American people to work together to deal effectively with this threat to their health and well-being.

That would mean, in the coming months, that Trump would have to convince people it was not just in their interest, but necessary for their very survival, to do a whole bunch of stuff they would not want to do. They would have to endure lengthy "lockdowns," when they would essentially be confined to their homes. They would have to take their kids out of school and learn to cope with "remote learning" from home. Many of them would have to close down their businesses or be laid off from their jobs. Sports competitions, from junior high and high school level right on through college and professional sports like baseball and basketball, would be canceled. Concerts would be canceled. Museums and zoos and national parks and public attractions like Disneyland and other amusement parks would close. Restaurants and bars would close. People wouldn't be able to gather in large groups to attend conventions or watch movies or plays or attend their children's graduations, or even in smaller groups for birthdays and dinner parties and weddings. People would be forbidden to visit their elderly relatives in nursing homes. If their family members got sick, they would not be able to visit them in hospitals. If loved ones died, it would not be possible to celebrate their lives in person at funerals. It would become necessary for people to learn how to "socially distance" themselves and even to wear protective masks when they were around others.

But Donald Trump didn't know how to convince others to do things they didn't want to do. All he understood was fear and money. Trump had spent his entire life dealing with people in two ways: He would try to intimidate and frighten them, and if that didn't work, he would buy them off. Two things which you and I probably look at as to be avoided, yes, like a plague — meeting with lawyers and accountants — Donald Trump did on practically a daily basis. This was the way Trump moved through the world. When he encountered a problem, he would get one of his lawyers to threaten lawsuits or file them, and when the lawsuits failed, he'd ask his accountants to figure out a way to move money that wasn't his — for example, money from his supposed charitable foundation — so he could buy his way out of trouble with a settlement.


Donald Trump had no understanding of what I call the exercise of power in the absence of money. This is power at its most absolute, the power to motivate soldiers to risk their lives in combat, the power to motivate doctors and nurses to risk their lives treating patients with deadly communicable diseases, the power that motivates someone to give his or her life for another. ............(more)


Manhattan rental market plunges, leaving 15,000 empty apartments in August

The number of empty rental apartments in Manhattan nearly tripled compared with last year, as more New Yorkers fled the city and prices declined.

There were more than 15,000 empty rental apartments in Manhattan in August, up from 5,600 a year ago, according to a report from Douglas Elliman and Miller Samuel. The inventory of empty units is the largest ever recorded since data started being collected 14 years ago, the report said.

Analysts say the rental market is the best barometer of overall strength in Manhattan's real estate market, since rentals account for 75% of apartments and that market reacts more quickly to demand changing than the sales market. .......(more)


Naomi Osaka keeps victims of racial injustice in spotlight with US Open masks

(Guardian UK) Naomi Osaka continued to highlight racial injustice in the United States by wearing a mask displaying the name of George Floyd, the black American who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck in Minneapolis in May, before her quarter-final win at the US Open. It was the fifth of seven face coverings the former champion has brought to Flushing Meadows.

After Osaka’s 6-3, 6-4 victory over Shelby Rogers, ESPN showed video messages from Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, and Marcus Arbery Sr, the father of Ahmaud Arbery, two of the five names she has worn on face masks at the grand slam.

Fulton said: “I just want to say thank you to Naomi Osaka for representing Trayvon Martin on your customised mask and also for Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Continue to do well. Continue to kick butt at the US Open. Thank you.”

Arbery Sr said: “Naomi, I just want to tell you thank you for the support of my family. God bless you for what you’re doing and you’re supporting our family with my son. My family really, really appreciates that.”

Two more masks bearing the names of black people unjustly killed at the hands of police or civilians in the US remain in Osaka’s kit bag for her semi-final against Jennifer Brady and if she goes on to reach her second US Open final on Saturday. .............(more)


How George Michael transformed pop

How George Michael transformed pop
Thirty years ago, the star released the commercially disappointing Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1. Now, it is rightly recognised as a groundbreaking masterpiece, writes Nick Levine.

(BBC) When George Michael released his second solo album Listen without Prejudice Vol 1 in September 1990, he wasn’t asking fans to embrace a captivating new persona as equivalent pop giants like Madonna and David Bowie did during their imperial phases. But in a way, he was attempting something just as audacious: he wanted to shed the misleading image he had created for himself as one of the most recognisable stars of the 1980s. Now he wanted to show the world more, though not yet all, of who he really was. “Today the way I play the game has got to change,” he sang on the album’s astonishing second single Freedom! ‘90, a song the producer Mark Ronson has described as a “funk groove masterpiece” and “the Mona Lisa”.

In the same song, Michael delivered the rather pleading refrain “I just hope you understand – sometimes the clothes do not make the man”, then drove home his message in the accompanying music video by torching his signature leather jacket from the Faith album campaign three years earlier. However, in a typically contradictory artistic statement, the video in which he asked us to embrace the new, more authentic him featured five huge supermodels of the era – Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford – but not a single glimpse of the artist himself. As singer-songwriter Leo Kalyan notes wryly, Freedom! ‘90 has “one of the most iconic music videos of all time – despite George Michael’s absence from it”. Indeed, Michael refused to appear not only in Listen without Prejudice Vol 1’s music videos, but even on its album cover. Though still only 27 years old, he already had the music industry clout to do exactly as he pleased.

As it turns 30 this month, Listen without Prejudice Vol 1 is now widely acknowledged as a modern pop classic. An October 2017 reissue released to coincide with George Michael: Freedom, a posthumous documentary film about the singer who had passed away 10 months earlier, returned the album to the top of the UK charts 27 years after it first made number one. With sophisticated pop songs influenced by The Beatles (Heal the Pain) and The Rolling Stones (Waiting for That Day) and a stripped-down cover of Stevie Wonder’s They Won’t Go When I Go that shows off Michael’s chops as a soul singer, it is seen in retrospect as the album that successfully cemented his position as a pop maestro, not a mere pop puppet.

A huge gamble

But when it first came out in September 1990, this deeply introspective and mostly downbeat LP was a massive risk for a singer who had become a global superstar by crafting glittering, radio-friendly hits like 1984’s debut solo single Careless Whisper and 1998’s pop-soul gem Father Figure. It was also the first time that Michael, the north London-born son of a Greek Cypriot restaurateur and an English dancer, allowed his personal happiness to impinge on his vaulting professional ambition. ..............(more)


Australia shark attack: surfer dies after being mauled off Gold Coast beach

A surfer has died after a shark attack on the Gold Coast with authorities saying he suffered critical leg injuries.

The Queensland ambulance service said the attack occurred at Greenmount Beach at Coolangatta about 5pm on Tuesday.

Paramedics treated the 46-year-old Gold Coast man on the beach but he could not be saved.

Queensland police said the man had suffered severe injuries to his lower leg. A police spokesman said he was taken out of the surf near the Tweed Heads and Coolangatta surf lifesaving club and treated by paramedics at the scene.


Tuesday’s attack was the sixth fatality in Australian waters in 2020. ...........(more)


Head of Pro-Trump Super PAC Says Brad Parscale Spent Campaign Cash 'Like a Drunken Sailor'

(Newsweek) A financial crisis might be looming for the campaign for the re-election of President Donald Trump according to The New York Times which has reported around three-quarters of the $1.1 billion raised between the start of 2019 and July 2020 has already been spent.

A review of federal campaign filings and interviews with more than a dozen current and former campaign aides by the paper, including Ed Rollins, a veteran Republican strategist, paint a picture of a potential cash crunch for the Trump campaign.

The Quote

Rollins, who runs a small pro-Trump super PAC took aim at Trump's former campaign manager, Brad Parscale, accusing him of spending money "like a drunken sailor," telling The Times: "If you spend $800 million and you're 10 points behind, I think you've got to answer the question 'What was the game plan?'"

Why it matters

Starting an election campaign as the incumbent confers a financial advantage, as it did for Trump's predecessors Barack Obama and George W. Bush, and Trump's filing for re-election on the day of his inauguration was intended to give him a head start to the stockpiling of his war chest. ...............(more)


The mystery of the shrinking fish: Alaska's salmon are getting smaller

The mystery of the shrinking fish: Alaska's salmon are getting smaller
A new study has found four species reduced in size, with climate change and competition from hatchery-raised cousins as possible factors

Nat Herz in Anchorage, Alaska
Tue 8 Sep 2020 05.30 EDT

(Guardian UK) The fishermen and women knew something was off with their catch. “At first, it was just a general comment by everybody: ‘The fish, yeah, I didn’t get any big ones this year,’” said Richard Burnham, who has commercially harvested salmon for four decades in the interior Alaska village of Kaltag.

Now, a new study has borne out those observations on a huge scale, documenting body size declines in fish across the entire state of Alaska in four different species of salmon: chinook, sockeye, silver and chum.

Alaska is “the last largely pristine North American salmon-producing region”, the authors write. Yet the size of the Yukon region chinooks – the largest of the four salmon species – has diminished the most, by 10% compared with those caught before 1990.

The bodies of commercially valuable sockeye shrank by 2% statewide, and silver salmon grew 3% physically smaller. ............(more)


Here's how to make sure your vote gets counted

More than 550,000 mail ballots rejected so far: Here’s how to make sure your vote gets counted
In an election like no other, too many ballots may be disqualified on technicalities. Here's how to avoid that

SEPTEMBER 8, 2020 11:00AM

(Salon) Election officials are working to make sure voters are not disenfranchised in November after an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots have been rejected in primary elections so far this year.

A Washington Post analysis found that more than 534,000 mail ballots were rejected in primaries in 23 states this year and a separate NPR analysis found more than 558,000 ballots rejected in 30 states. By comparison, less than 318,000 ballots were rejected in the 2016 general election, raising concerns that ballot issues could tip the election. After all, the 2016 presidential race was decided by about 77,000 combined votes, spread across in three states.

"We've been worried about this problem," said Ellen Kurz, a veteran of several presidential campaigns who co-founded iVoteFacts, a nonprofit that seeks to educate voters about new voting options amid the pandemic. "New York's [21%] rate was crazy and New Jersey was 10%. And one of the big problems is the fact that voting by mail is going to be new in a lot of these states."

"You can't have 10% of voters disqualified because of a technicality," she told Salon in an interview. "That's nuts."

Twenty states have expanded mail voting amid the pandemic this year, resulting in many voters casting mail ballots for the very first time. A recent study found that first-time mail voters in Florida were twice as likely to have their ballots rejected than voters who had previously voted by mail. The issue is particularly concerning in key battleground states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the three states that tipped the race to President Trump in 2016. Election officials in those states alone "tossed out more than 60,480 ballots" during the primaries, according to the Washington Post. More than 60,000 more votes were rejected in swing states such as Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Nevada and Maine. ...........(more)


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