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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 75,786

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Trump badly miscalculated in Portland - and even he knows it

Trump badly miscalculated in Portland – and even he knows it
Cas Mudde

Trump overestimated how much voters fear ‘antifa’ - and underestimated how terrible his ham-fisted authoritarianism would look

(Guardian UK) Opponents of Donald Trump often describe him as a “political genius” who has a cunning understanding of the anxieties and fears of American society, and is able to create and use crises to his favor. The current standoff in Portland shows, yet again, that this is not the case. While his alleged fight against antifa will satisfy some of his far-right supporters, it increasingly risks further alienating the so-called “moderate” Republicans – which seems mostly used to describe better-off pocketbook Republican voters – who are already feeling uneasy over his Covid-19 handling and the economic fallout of the pandemic.

An almost ignored aspect of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is that Trump failed to use it to push through his authoritarian agenda by increasing executive powers, weakening the powers of other institutions, like Congress, and marginalizing dissent, for instance by banning demonstrations. Almost all other countries implemented a more repressive approach to Covid-19, including those governed by progressive parties (like Spain), while most far-right governments used it to push through draconian repressive measures (such as Hungary and India).

Of course, the explanation is that Trump initially denied and ignored the dangers of Covid-19, arguing that “it’s going to work out fine” and “the warmer weather” would take care of it. This made it difficult for him to later shift to an authoritarian approach. Difficult, but certainly not impossible. But clearly Trump never wanted to. Instead, he kept insisting on an economic approach to re-election, repositioning himself as the savior of the US economy, and aggressively pushing for the “reopening of America”.


But the problem is that the Portland protests play only to one of Trump’s ideological strongholds: authoritarianism. Given that Portland is the whitest big city in the US, the vast majority of protesters are white, which leaves his biggest asset, racism, largely irrelevant. Similarly, populism is largely useless, as few people will believe that “the elite” live in, or deeply care for, Portland – unlike, for instance, New York.

Portland is not only a bad choice because of the limited appeal to the broader Republican electorate. It could also seriously backfire. Police brutality against small, and even radical, groups of protesters could lead to broader support for the protesters. ............(more)


Florida man driving with candle sets car on fire

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Charlotte County Fire Department and EMS has a warning for drivers.

Do not drive with an open candle!

According to the department’s Facebook page, the fire started after a fragrant candle that was burning in the car, tipped over onto some papers, and caught on fire.

The man driving stopped his car and ran for a trashcan to fill with water and when he got back, the car was engulfed in flames. .............(more)


Confession Time for Big Banks in Europe: Banco Santander Reports $12.7 Billion Loss

Confession Time for Big Banks in Europe: Banco Santander Reports $12.7 Billion Loss
by Nick Corbishley • Jul 29, 2020 •

Too-Big-To-Fail Santander is also one of the Eurozone’s worst capitalized banks.
By Nick Corbishley, for WOLF STREET:

Banco Santander, Spain’s largest lender and one of the Eurozone’s eight global systemically important banks (G-SIBs), has posted its first ever loss in 163 years of operations. And it was gargantuan. During the first half of the year, the bank racked up a loss of €10.8 billion ($12.7 billion).

The loss was caused by heavy provisions for expected loan losses. This quarter wiped out the equivalent of one-and-a-half years of the bank’s global profits — in 2019, it posted total global profits of €6.5 billion, and in 2018 of €7.8 billion.

The losses were the result of a €2.5 billion charge related to the recoverability of tax deferred assets as well a €10.1 billion write-down on assets across a number of key overseas markets:

In the UK: €6.1 billion write-down of “goodwill” — amount overpaid for prior acquisitions, which included Abbey National and Alliance and Leicester. Santander already took a €1.5 billion write-down on the value of its UK business last year, blaming new regulations and the expected economic fallout from Brexit.

In the US: €2.3 billion write-down for Santander Consumer USA, which specializes in consumer lending, particularly subprime lending, and these consumer loans are now particularly at risk.

In Poland, its largest market in Eastern Europe: €1.2 billion goodwill impairments charge.
In its consumer finance division, which is present in 15 markets: €477 million hit.

Santander’s shares initially reacted to the news by slumping 5.8%. They then staged a partial recovery, only to slump again, ending the day down nearly 5%. Shares are down an eye-watering 45% this year, making it one of the continent’s worst-performing large financial institutions. ...........(more)


Trump's properties: A playground for white nationalists, Groypers and other far-right loons

(Salon) Conspiracy theorists, alt-right memers and prominent white nationalists have frequently appeared at properties owned by President Trump, where they've hosted gatherings, mingled with officials and spent money, according to research obtained by Salon.

Trump properties are well-documented hot spots for MAGA-world luminaries and hangers-on, particularly Trump International Hotel in Washington, where the lobby is frequently a blur of lobbyists, administration officials, lawmakers, corporate leaders and foreign dignitaries — the physical embodiment of the president's numerous conflicts of interest.

But in a sense those properties are also real-world iterations of the president's Twitter feed, a running scroll of the same groups. Both are also sprinkled to varying degrees with influential right-wing extremists and internet trolls (Diamond and Silk kicked off their 2019 "Chit Chat Live" tour at Trump Hotel D.C.), some of whom now are now moving into legitimate electoral politics under the auspices of the Republican Party in various states, including Oregon, Colorado, Georgia and Trump's new home state of Florida.

And though Trump fandom is little more than an ironic lark to young fringe-right adherents, who see themselves as more pure, edgy and extreme, those places draw an older generation that has influence, but might be looking for someone who knows better how to wield it today. ...............(more)


Would-be dictator Donald Trump would be unstoppable in a second term. That must not happen

Would-be dictator Donald Trump would be unstoppable in a second term. That must not happen
As mental health professionals, we cannot remain silent. Trump's authoritarian presidency is a national emergency

JULY 30, 2020 12:00PM (UTC)

(Salon) Donald Trump is a malignant narcissist with antisocial proclivities and a core sadism. It is this combination of psychopathology that leads him to be intensely attracted to the powers of a dictator. Indeed, Trump has proven repeatedly that he wants America to be an autocracy, not a democracy. He has systemically and purposefully guided our country toward dictatorial rule during the past four years. He has frequently embraced, admired, complimented, envied and even fawned over autocratic leaders throughout the world.

Donald Trump in a second term would be unstoppable. And America might be changed forever.

Trump seeks complete power and control. According to him, the president has absolute, all-encompassing authority. As such, Trump does not abide by norms or rules. He breaks laws with impunity. He interferes with all attempts at oversight and accountability. He believes that he is free to exert his power as he sees fit, no matter the motivation or legality or well-being of anyone other than Donald Trump.

Despite taking the presidential oath, Trump exhibits no intention to uphold or defend our Constitution. He does not recognize that the three branches of government are co-equal. He has demonstrated his belief that the executive branch holds all power. Look at how he has politicized the Department of Justice; he has been able to get investigations of himself and his cronies stopped. Branches of government in a dictatorship exist solely for the benefit and pleasure of the leader. Trump treats our judicial branch as an extension of himself, and as a vehicle for obtaining power and hiding his corruption. .............(more)


Ridiculous, Corny, Dead: Andrew Martin's Cool for America

Ridiculous, Corny, Dead
Andrew Martin’s Cool for America.

By Jennifer Schaffer

(The Nation) Like many writers of my socioeconomic, educational, and psychochemical background, I often find myself bound up in mental contortions over problems that, under sober scrutiny, are not problems at all, but that—left to foxtrot about in the recesses of one’s mind—present themselves as urgent questions. Questions like: What is the role of realist fiction in an age of political upheaval? How should a critic’s identity bear on her reading, and how should a writer’s identity bear on how he is read? And what should we do, now, with all the well-heeled, hetereosexualish, white-man writers who, up until quite recently, might have strolled chest first onto the literary scene, but who now find themselves met with a healthy dose of corrective skepticism?

Mercifully, these questions tend to recede in the face of good fiction, which proves its purpose in its pleasures. While reading Andrew Martin’s new story collection Cool for America, the follow-up to his excellent 2018 debut novel, Early Work, I didn’t have space for neurotic third-person self-examinations. For the length of each of the collection’s 11 stories, there was just pleasure to be had. Yes, at a glance, Martin’s work belongs to an established tradition whose moment has largely passed—comfortable white male writers broadly concerned with the life and times of comfortable white male writers. But Martin strikes me as less of a kind with Roth or Foster Wallace or Franzen and more decisively a descendent of the great Ann Beattie.

Like Beattie, Martin compassionately chronicles the sorrows and sex lives of drifting overeducated malcontents who, in another era, may have resigned themselves to more overtly conventional lifestyles but who, in Beattie’s 1970s and Martin’s 2010s, commit themselves to gently bohemian (though never truly subversive) projects, like graduate school and self-aware promiscuity and drinking too much. Both Beattie and Martin wrote during periods of heightened political awareness oscillating with burned-out ambivalence. Yet, thrust into their respective moments in history, their protagonists rarely attempt to affect their surroundings. Rather than make productive use of the limited but real power they wield as educated adult citizens, Martin’s characters are desperate to assume a posture of powerlessness—in sex, in politics, in their careers. In Martin’s vision, there is something borderline spiritual in the millennial’s desire to consider themselves beholden to forces outside their control. .......(more)


Welcome to Donald Trump's terrordome: But even this may not save him

Welcome to Donald Trump's terrordome: But even this may not save him
Trump's last-ditch display of fascist theatrics is straight out of Orwell. It's ghastly, but it might not be enough

JULY 29, 2020 11:00AM (UTC)

(Salon) Donald Trump is a political arsonist. He has unleashed a firestorm across America. The kindling was always there. Trump chose to throw gasoline on it and set it afire.

Trump's political cult members and other followers are dancing in a circle around the flames. In the light and noise, they see and hear things which are not there. Like the troglodytes in Plato's allegory of the cave, they have lost the ability to discern truth from lies. All that matters is their proximity to Trump's fire.

Good Americans have encircled Trump's conflagration. They know the danger and power it possesses. They are also willing to be burned and suffer other injuries to save the country from its worst inclinations in the form of the fire devils that Trump commands.


Last Friday, Trump's White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, presented the regime's own version of a Joseph Goebbels propaganda film in the form of a video purporting to show "riots" in Portland. This presentation was so tasteless that even Fox News cut away from the White House press briefing.

Of course, there are no "riots" except for those instigated by Trump's enforcers and the right-wing extremists and other paramilitaries who have infiltrated what are largely peaceful gatherings. ...............(more)


Bill Barr on Capitol Hill: Lies, evasions and a promise to "follow the law." Be very afraid

Bill Barr on Capitol Hill: Lies, evasions and a promise to "follow the law." Be very afraid
Barr defends the shock troops, lies about mail-in voting and won't quite say whether he'll leave if Trump loses

JULY 29, 2020 1:28PM (UTC)

(Salon) Attorney General Bill Barr finally showed up for his long-scheduled hearing before the House Judiciary Committee and once again proved himself to be Trump's eager henchman. He didn't read aloud some of the more incendiary parts of his opening statement (which as Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., observed, "reads like it was written by Alex Jones or Roger Stone" ) but for all his braying about "the law" his arrogant attitude and slippery answers left no doubt about where his allegiance lies. Let's just say Trump doesn't have to worry about Barr's loyalty.

The list of Barr's odious comments is a mile long, starting with his fatuous answers regarding the question of systemic racism in policing. He evidently thinks it's cute, just as his boss does, to insist that "more white people are shot by police than Black people" when responding to the question of why Black people, who make up only 13 percent of the U.S. population, account for 25 percent of those shot and killed by police since 2015 while "non-Hispanic" whites, who are more than 60 percent of the population, only account for 45 percent. This answer is insulting to the intelligence of the American people.

Barr also obfuscated, dissembled, misled and evaded questions about his interference in cases on behalf of Trump's cronies, the firing and reassigning of U.S. attorneys working on cases involving the president, the shocking events at Lafayette Square in June and his inconsistency in applying federal laws to benefit the president, while ignoring them when they don't. As hard as it is to believe, he even took it upon himself to strenuously defend the president's botched COVID-19 response in great detail, something he could have easily avoided by saying it isn't his purview.

But no, Barr had the temerity to use some of Trump's most spectacularly absurd excuses by blaming the Obama administration, which hasn't been in office for three and a half years, for allegedly destroying the CDC and failing to replenish the national stockpile of PPE. If there was one moment that captured Barr's total immersion in Trump's ocean of self-deception and lies, it was that series of inane talking points. ...........(more)


Naked Florida man tells deputies he's 'Batman'

I guess he left his cape in the room.....

ENGLEWOOD, Fla. — A southwest Florida man is accused of wandering around a hotel naked and identifying himself as Batman, authorities said.

Christopher L. Jackson, 49, of Englewood, was arrested Friday and charged with loitering and exposure of sexual organs, according to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.

The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call at the Suncoast Inn in Englewood late Friday after the motel’s manager reported a naked man had tried to enter his room, WINK-TV reported.

Deputies found Jackson at a table outside the motel, the television station reported. Jackson claimed to have a room at the motel and had accidentally locked himself out of the room, but the manager said Jackson was not registered there, WINK reported.

“I made multiple attempts to obtain his name and date of birth which he replied with ‘I’m Batman,’” the deputy wrote in an arrest report. ............(more)


Nobody Knows How to Ever Get Out of This Mess

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