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Rudy’s New York Post October Surprise

New York Post dropped a story based on “emails” surrounding Hunter Biden and Burisma supplied by known bullshit artist Rudy Giuliani. It is a the dumbest fucking thing I’ve heard in a good while, figures that the Trump and Qanon crowd would jump on it like flies to Pence’s head.

Let’s start with the source of these supposed emails, a computer shop owner:

Mac Isaac said he had a medical condition that prevented him from actually seeing who dropped off the laptop but that he believed it to be Hunter Biden’s because of a sticker related to the Beau Biden Foundation that was on it. He said that Hunter Biden actually dropped off three laptops for repair, an abundance of hardware that he chalked up to the Biden son being “rich.”

Throughout the interview, Mac Isaac switched back and forth from saying he reached out to law enforcement after viewing the files in the laptop to saying that it was actually the Federal Bureau of Investigation that contacted him. At one point, Mac Isaac claimed that he was emailing someone from the FBI about the laptop. At another point he claimed a special agent from the Baltimore office had contacted him after he alerted the FBI to the device’s existence. At another point, he said the FBI reached out to him for “help accessing his drive.”

Mac Isaac referenced the infamous Seth Rich conspiracy theory—which holds that a DNC staffer who police say was murdered in a botched robbery was actually killed off by Clinton allies because he leaked committee emails—as reason for his paranoia.

What a start.

You’d think this campaign could come up with dirt more imaginative than “emails found on a laptop” dropping in mid-October. It’s almost as if the Russian government is trolling the US:

A newly discovered laptop, the FBI, a trove of emails, October, a presidential election—it sounds familiar. Especially when you add in a Russian disinformation campaign. On Wednesday, the New York Post released what it hailed as a bombshell: an unidentified computer repair store owner in Delaware had come to possess a laptop that contained Hunter Biden emails (and purportedly a sex tape), the hard drive and computer was seized by the FBI, the store owner at some point passed a copy of the hard drive to Rudy Giuliani, and one of the emails suggested that Hunter, who served on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma, may have in 2015 introduced a Burisma official to his dad, Vice President Joe Biden. The story depicts this as a big scandal, and Guiliani tweeted, “Much more to come.” 

But the key point of the article was predicated on false information that Giuliani has been spreading for a long time—and that appears to be linked to a Russian disinformation operation that the Post neglected to note in its article. That is, the Post piece, based on an unproven smear, is in sync with Moscow’s ongoing effort to influence the 2020 election to help President Donald Trump retain power. (The FBI and other parts of the US intelligence community have stated that Vladimir Putin is once again attacking the US political system to boost Trump.) And this story presents a challenge to the American media: how to report on an orchestrated campaign to affect the election that relies on disinformation, salacious and sensational material, and the revival of allegations that have already been debunked. 

The bad faith animating the Post story is demonstrated by its open embrace—in the first sentence—of a demonstrably false narrative and by its failure to report Giuliani’s association with a Russian intelligence agent who the Department of Treasury has accused of interfering in the 2020 election. 

The article begins: “Hunter Biden introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company, according to emails obtained by The Post.” The claim that Biden forced the firing of a Ukrainian prosecutor to protect Burisma has been the centerpiece of Giuliani’s long-running, Fox-hyped effort (on behalf of his client Donald Trump) to dig up dirt on Biden in the former Soviet republic. 

Biden in 2016 did push for the firing of this prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, but there is no indication this was done to assist Burisma. In fact, there is a boatload of evidence that Shokin was canned because of his own corruption. There was no active investigation of Burisma at the time of his dismissal. (The absence of such a probe was even cited at the time as one sign of Shokin’s malfeasance)

And as has been widely documented, Biden’s demand that Shokin be dumped was part of an international effort to pressure Ukraine’s government to clean itself up in order to receive financial assistance. (Several Republican senators also called for Shokin’s removal.) Yet Trump and others have falsely claimed that Biden nefariously bounced Shokin to cover up supposed Burisma misdeeds.  

The Post repeating this baseless accusation is an act of propaganda—and the foundation for the article. The email the tabloid touts as big news suggests that in 2015 Hunter introduced a Burisma board member to his dad. The newspaper implies that this was somehow connected to Biden urging Shokin’s dismissal the following year. If there was nothing untoward about Biden pressing the Ukrainian government to replace Shokin, there certainly isn’t anything necessarily scandalous about Biden having met with the board member.

Moreover, the 2015 email to Hunter—which simply says, “thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father”—discloses nothing about any conversation the board member might have had with the vice president. It’s not even confirmed that this meeting occurred. (The Biden campaign issued a statement saying it had reviewed Joe Biden’s schedule and no such meeting “ever took place.”)

Lemme get this straight. Hunter Biden, elbow deep in a conspiracy to make a fuckton of money by giving some Ukrainians access to his dad, drops off a water logged laptop at some random laptop shop. He then never returns to get it. The shop owner then decides to call the FBI to report this laptop and before they can take it, makes a copy of the hard drive. Upon realizing what he really has, very incriminating emails between the son of the vice president and some gas and power guys gives the hard drive to Rudy. Rudy then knowing he holds evidence of a crime hands the emails over to the newspaper and not the FBI. Then the newspaper reports these emails without doing even a modicum of research to see if the meeting alleged on the incriminating emails ever happened, which according to the vice presidents publicly available schedule, did not.

In other news, I found a phone in my dumpster this morning. It had a MAGA sticker on it. It is clearly Trump’s phone. Expect lots of texts, emails, nudes, and a pee tape in the coming days.

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McConnell thinks 200,000-plus Americans dead is funny

“Sen. McConnell built a Senate that is so dysfunctional and so partisan that even in the middle of a national crisis he can’t get it done,” McGrath said. “Think about that.”

Wonder how many Americans could be saved if Trump would just sneeze on McConnell real quick…

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COVID-19 is Far More Deadly Than We’re Being Told

A new study published in JAMA estimates that between March and July, there were 225,000 more deaths in the U.S. than expected, based on the previous five years of data. Of those, a little over half were officially attributed to the covid-19 pandemic.

It’s the latest research to show that we’ve been undercounting deaths caused by the viral illness. Is it really that suprising when red-state states have been blocking COVID tracking? They’re killing you and destroying the receipts.

To make matters worse, notice how the red-cap anti-maskers are quick to get on social media to cast doubt on any official death counts on COVID, accusing hospitals of inflating their COVID deaths, and coroner offices of deliberately mislabeling COVID as a cause of death, all in order to get more federal funding.

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Amy Coney Barrett is a POS, Suprised?

Democrats shouldn’t expand the court because it will hurt the legitimacy of the institution!

Or we can look at reality. Mitch McConnell has manipulated the nomination process to the point of breaking. The court is completely out of touch with the country. It must be rebalanced to save the union.

Now, on Amy Coney Barrett. Are we suprised that the POS president has appointed another POS justice. The “Devil’s Triangle Boofer” has given way to a People of Praise cultist who enjoys cruelty.

This piece by Tom Scocca in Slate reveals how nasty this woman is:

As she introduced herself to the nation in the White House Rose Garden, Amy Coney Barrett, Donald Trump’s newest Supreme Court nominee, almost sounded respectful. “The flag of the United States,” she said, “is still flying at half-staff in memory of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to mark the end of a great American life.”

Really it was a taunt. Barrett, in a venue deliberately decorated to copy Ginsburg’s own nomination scene, was showing up to snatch Ginsburg’s job before the late justice’s body was even in the ground. “I will be mindful of who came before me,” Barrett said—but not so mindful as to acknowledge, let alone respect, Ginsburg’s direct dying wish that the seat stay vacant until a newly elected president could fill it.

The words fit the deed. When Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court, he used his introductory remarks to praise Trump for having put more thought and effort into the selection than any previous president had. It was absurd to claim Trump had done any  such thing; Kavanaugh was merely pledging loyalty, demonstrating that he is a ridiculous liar and a toady. In the same vein, by bringing up Ginsburg, Barrett established who she is: a shameless, cynical careerist who believes nobody can stop her.

[…]

So far, the debate around this nomination has purported to be about people being unkind or unfair to Barrett, with Republicans preemptively denouncing Senate Democrats for their plans to attack her charismatic Catholic religious identity or her traditionalist wife-and-mother persona—and Senate Democrats shying away from attacking her at all, in favor of vague hand-wringing about how Trump and Mitch McConnell are abusing the nomination process.

But what’s wrong with Barrett isn’t that she’s too pious, or that she’s submissive in her personal life. It’s that she’s bent on making herself one of the nine most powerful judges in the country, even if she has to do it in the most graspingly partisan and destructive way possible.

“I never imagined that I would find myself in this position,” she said in the Rose Garden—a lie as brazen, in context, as Kavanaugh’s claim to have been the product of unprecedentedly rigorous presidential vetting. In fact, Trump had long ago hailed her as a Supreme Court justice in waiting, because she’s a dedicated right-wing judicial politician who’s been angling for the job for years. She’s a member of the Federalist Society, loyal to the band of wealthy and publicly anonymous donors who put millions of dollars of ads and campaign donations behind McConnell’s blockade of Merrick Garland.

Their ethics are her ethics. Her own current seat on the federal bench, on the Seventh Circuit, was held open for her by another Senate blockade of an Obama nominee. Her work as a judge, in her brief time doing it, has been cruel and heavily slanted rightward, and she has a prior history of supporting illiberal activist groups and endorsing absolutist positions. To argue about her past holdings or her potential future decisions, though, is to miss the point: She doesn’t care what the public, or the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, think about  her as a judge. She didn’t even bother to complete her disclosure forms. What explains this approach? It’s ‘When you’re a star, they let you do it,’ for seats on the bench.

Some liberal legal scholars have gone out of their way to give testimonials about Barrett’s temperament and decency. She is surely kind to her colleagues, but all they’re describing is a networking strategy. Everyone who maneuvers themself into position for a judicial nomination is nice to the other people who populate or operate the pipeline. Yale Law professor Amy Chua wrote an op-ed praising Kavanaugh when he was up for the court; Kavanaugh gave Chua’s daughter a Supreme Court clerkship in return. Barrett’s endorsers are telling the public nothing more than that they personally want to have a Supreme Court justice on their side. Whose side she’ll take in actual court business is irrelevant to them.

[…]

Since the Rose Garden speech, Barrett’s pursuit of the seat clarified her character. Her announcement festivities—a crowded series of indoor-outdoor events, full of maskless VIPs schmoozing the maskless nominee and her maskless family, in defiance of basic public-health protocols and municipal limits on gatherings—turned out to be a COVID superspreader event, sickening Trump himself and infecting a broad swath of the administration and multiple senators. Instead of slowing down and trying to take stock of the disaster, or even fully tracing the outbreak and notifying the people who may be in danger, the Republican Party is stampeding on with her confirmation process: abandoning any effort to pass COVID relief legislation, convening yet more meetings with potentially infectious people in them, refusing to even test all the senators so that they won’t have to be quarantined.

And Barrett is encouraging this. The coverage of her campaign for the position projects an odd passivity onto her, as if she’s simply been caught up in events controlled by others. But the truth is that she’s actively lobbying for the job, calling senators to help push the process along, even as the virus runs loose through official Washington. She reportedly already had the virus during the summer, so the odds are it’s not going to harm her personally.

Some people, if they discovered themselves at the center of an orgy of illness and destruction, staged for their own aggrandizement—and to boost the reelection bid of a bigot and multiply accused rapist—might have second thoughts about what they were doing. Barrett could stop  the circus if she wanted. She is only 48 years old. If she has to wait for another chance—even until the winner of the 2024 election is sworn in—she’ll be 52. That’s still younger than Kavanaugh, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, or Samuel Alito were when they were nominated, to just look at the current justices.

Why would she need to wait even that long, though? Surely if the American public wants Donald Trump making Supreme Court picks and Mitch McConnell’s Senate majority confirming them, the voters will reelect them a month from now, and Barrett’s seat would be assured, with no need for frantic plague-dodging. She could even take the time to complete her paperwork and go through more than pro forma vetting and hearings, for courtesy’s sake.

But Barrett knows perfectly well that the public is against Trump and McConnell, and against her, too. She is determined to win this victory right now, while she still can, for herself and her agenda. The will of the public doesn’t enter into it, any more than morality does. Barrett is an educated person. She graduated at the top of her law school class. She certainly can count past four. She knows Antonin Scalia, the justice she clerked for, died in February of 2016, and that Ginsburg died in September of 2020—four years and seven months apart—and that Trump is claiming the right to fill both vacancies.

What sort of prospective Supreme Court justice believes a president should get five years’ worth of court picks in a four-year term? The same kind who puts herself forward for an impossibly rushed confirmation process, and who declines to say if she’ll recuse herself from cases that might decide the reelection of the president who is taking such extraordinary measures to give her the job. Like McConnell and Trump, her vision of the law is based on nothing more than what she can get away with; the Constitution is a set of rules to be gamed for personal advantage, not a framework for popular legitimacy or justice. The entire presidency of Donald Trump has been building toward this moment, and Amy Coney Barrett is the woman he was waiting for.

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Pure Evil: We need to take away children

Adding to the pile of projection and lies that is the right. As they make up fake news bullshit about Biden and try to hide Qanon as #savethechildren, they’re busy propping up literal monsters who are stealing children away from their parents.

From the New York Times:

The five U.S. attorneys along the border with Mexico, including three appointed by President Trump, recoiled in May 2018 against an order to prosecute all undocumented immigrants even if it meant separating children from their parents. They told top Justice Department officials they were “deeply concerned” about the children’s welfare.

But the attorney general at the time, Jeff Sessions, made it clear what Mr. Trump wanted on a conference call later that afternoon, according to a two-year inquiry by the Justice Department’s inspector general into Mr. Trump’s “zero tolerance” family separation policy.

“We need to take away children,” Mr. Sessions told the prosecutors, according to participants’ notes. One added in shorthand: “If care about kids, don’t bring them in. Won’t give amnesty to people with kids.”

Rod J. Rosenstein, then the deputy attorney general, went even further in a second call about a week later, telling the five prosecutors that it did not matter how young the children were. He said that government lawyers should not have refused to prosecute two cases simply because the children were barely more than infants.

“Those two cases should not have been declined,” John Bash, the departing U.S. attorney in western Texas, wrote to his staff immediately after the call. Mr. Bash had declined the cases, but Mr. Rosenstein “instructed that, per the A.G.’s policy, we should NOT be categorically declining immigration prosecutions of adults in family units because of the age of a child.”

The Justice Department’s top officials were “a driving force” behind the policy that spurred the separation of thousands of families, many of them fleeing violence in Central America and seeking asylum in the United States, before Mr. Trump abandoned it amid global outrage, according to a draft report of the results of the investigation by Michael E. Horowitz, the department’s inspector general.

Here’s Rosenstein’s pinned tweet:

Tell me Rod, exactly what virtue besides rage am I supposed to be feeling at this moment?

Here’s how one, of many thousand, separations went according to PBS:

A father, H.P.M., was separated from his 6-year-old daughter, A.P.C., between May 12 and May 15 in 2018, after crossing the U.S. border into Arizona.

A Border Patrol agent immediately approached H.P.M. and his daughter, and took them to a detention center, disclosing neither the facility’s name nor location. The agents then took the migrants’ outer garments and gave them each an aluminum blanket before escorting them to a locked, windowless room. H.P.M. described the room as an “hielera” or “icebox” due to the “three large vents” in the room “spouting freezing air at all times.”

After what H.P.M. thought was two days in the cold and constantly lit room with very little food, A.P.C. told her father that she was feeling unwell and fell asleep, and became “almost non-responsive.” H.P.M. tried to get an officer’s attention, but “officers who walked by only ignored him.”

On what H.P.M. believed to be the third day of their detention, an officer gave the father a bar of soap and instructed him to give his daughter a bath. A.P.C. was so weak she could barely stand. After the bath, H.P.M. saw a group of officers waiting for them outside the bathroom.

One “officer explained that the children were being taken to a place for children about half an hour away,” the court documents state.

“A.P.C. tried to run closer to H.P.M., but an officer put his arm in front of her and pushed her back. A.P.C. threw herself to the floor and began crying and screaming. H.P.M. felt devastated but did not know what to do to prevent the officers from taking A.P.C.”

During separation:

The father was moved to another detention center, and then another, and at both places he asked several officers for information about his daughter. Officers ignored his questions or said they knew nothing about her circumstances.

H.P.M. met with an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer, who asked him if he wanted to be deported. HPM said no and that he was still waiting to be reunited with his daughter.

“The officer appeared confused and asked H.P.M. for his daughter’s name. H.P.M. provided her name and showed the officer her birth certificate, which he carried with him at all times. The officer turned to his computer and began typing. After a few minutes, the officer said A.P.C. was in the country, but that she was an unaccompanied minor who had arrived in the United States alone, without a mother or father. The officer told H.P.M. that she would be put up for adoption,” the court filing said, and he began to think he would never see her again.

After nearly two and a half weeks, the father was able to speak with his daughter. When she got on the phone, she began to cry and asked: “Why did you leave me?”

In case you need to vomit a bit more, another from AP:

MIRIAM

Her 4-year-old son was asleep as immigration agents insisted on separating the two of them in the early morning before dawn.

“If I had known, I never would have come” to the United States, she said.

The Guatemalan mother said she was led to believe when arrested that her son would be returned to her, wherever she was held. She described the boy as tiny and shy.

She located him at a holding facility in New York. When she asked a social worker to speak with him, she was told the boy was angry and would not talk.

“He thinks you abandoned him,” she was told.

It’s unclear when they might be reunited as she pursues asylum in the U.S.

IRIS

Detained on June 15, she and her 6-year-old son clung to each other after learning they would be separated and that she was being sent to jail.

The 40-year-old single mother from Honduras asked that they be deported together immediately. She was told it was too late. She let go and persuaded her son to do the same after officials said they would be separated — one way or another.

Iris learned her son is somewhere in Arizona after a social worker contacted a relative. Most of the 32 recently released parents are likely to leave El Paso as they obtain more information and seek out their children.

“I go to sleep at night, and the first thing I do is dream of my son,” she said.

These people deserve zero respect, zero civility.

So Let’s Revel in the White House Plague Rat Situation

Sorry, I’m not going to feel bad for delighting in the visual of our “strongman” president struggling to breath while spreading COVID like a plague rat to every idiot he’s packed in the White House.

As always, the most powerful people in the country can enact policy that makes us die (211k as of today, excess deaths over 300k). But if we turn around and say fuck you, I hope you choke on your lung mucus, it’s somehow over the line? Ya, ok.

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Totally Under Control

Alex Gibney, in secrecy, has filmed a documentary about the US government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic called Totally Under Control. Gibney previously directed Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, Going Clear, and Zero Days. The film comes out in theaters on October 13 and on Hulu on October 20.

Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney, directing with Ophelia Harutyunyan and Suzanne Hillinger, interrogates this question and its devastating implications in Totally Under Control. With damning testimony from public health officials and hard investigative reporting, Gibney exposes a system-wide collapse caused by a profound dereliction of Presidential leadership.

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No Tears for Trump

If you’re one of the people demanding respect and solemnity for the president, just shove it. He deserves all the hate he gets.

Donald Trump’s opponent gets pneumonia.

Donald mocks his opponent for that.

Donald Trump gets COVID-19.

Donald’s opponent sends Donald and his family the opponent’s best wishes for Donald’s speedy recovery.

BOTH SIDES!!!!

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Republicans, Almost Self-Aware, Almost

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Federal law enforcement officials were instructed to make sympathetic public comments about the Kenosha shooter

More WTF from the department of nearly a quarter million dead US citizens.

An internal Department of Homeland Security document directed officials to note that Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager charged with killing two protesters, “took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners.” Additionally, the document instructed them to say that the media incorrectly labeled the group Patriot Prayer as racists. I suppose that’s true, Patriot Prayer is a racist terrorist organization.

They were also instructed to direct the conversation to the need to preserve law and order: “This is also why we need to stop the violence in our cities. Chaotic and violent situations lead to chaotic, violent and tragic outcomes. Everyone needs law and order.”

(NBC News)

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Trump Still Won’t Condemn White Supremacy

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany refused to give a declarative statement about whether or not Trump condemns white supremacy today.

Instead, McEnany pointed to Trump’s past statements denouncing the KKK and advocating for the death penalty for a white supremacist, while claiming that Trump’s “record on this is unmistakable and it’s shameful the media refuses to cover it.”

Is there some limit on how many times someone can condemn white supremacy? Trump calls Democrats “evil” about 105 times a day, apparently condemning white supremacy more than about 5 times in 4 years is just too much…

Wonder why.

(Axios / CNN)