Heather Cox Richardson

August 19, 2020 (Wednesday)

In a sign of just how rough things have been lately, I read the news today and thought, “Oh, good. Nothing much has happened today, so tonight’s Letter can focus on tonight’s Democratic National Convention.”

Here’s the “nothing much”:

This morning, Trump urged Americans not to buy Goodyear tires because of a rumor that the company had banned MAGA hats. Goodyear tweeted that its policy had been misconstrued, but Goodyear stock dropped more than 2% after the president’s tweet. The company’s headquarters are in Akron, Ohio, a city in an important swing state for the upcoming election. Goodyear employs about 63,000 people. But if his call for a boycott hurts the company, Trump said, workers will “be able to get another good job."

On Twitter, the City of Akron, Ohio responded: “Goodyear has believed in this community for generations, investing in the power, tenacity and honest people of the heartland, which is more than we can say for this president. # WeStandWithGoodyear”

At a press conference this afternoon, Trump appeared to endorse QAnon, the conspiracy-theory group that believes Trump is secretly undermining a ring of elite pedophiles and cannibals who have taken over the highest ranks of world government and economy. The FBI assesses that the spread of QAnon will likely lead to more domestic terrorism and is a threat to national security. When asked about the group, the president said “I don’t know much about the movement other than, I understand, they like me very much which I appreciate… I have heard that it is gaining in popularity … I heard these are people who love our country." A reporter followed up: “QAnon believes you are secretly saving the world from this cult of pedophiles and cannibals. Are you behind that?” Trump responded: “Is that supposed to be a bad thing? We are actually. We are saving the world.”

Reporter Ally Mutnick in Politico today pointed out that Trump has remade the Republican Party in his image. In districts with safe Republican seats, the ticket to winning primaries this year was to cling tight to the president. As a result, the Republican ranks next year will have Trump loyalists, including QAnon supporters, where there previously were Republicans willing to criticize the president. The new Republicans’ only political principle is blind devotion to Trump.

The scandal in the United States Postal Service continued to grow, as we learned that the USPS refused to share with Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) information about how its board of governors chose new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump loyalist. It appears Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was involved in the selection, suggesting inappropriate political influence.

Yesterday, DeJoy stated that he was halting further changes to the USPS until after the election, but today House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed that DeJoy has no plans to replace the sorting machines and post boxes already removed on his orders.

Yesterday’s Senate Intelligence Report on connections between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russian operatives is beginning to attract the media notice it deserves. Authored by a Republican-dominated committee, the report established that Konstantin Kilimnik, the longtime business associate of Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, is a Russian intelligence officer. While chairing Trump’s campaign, Manafort both communicated often with Kilimnik in encrypted conversations and gave him sensitive internal polling data from the campaign. The report says Kilimnik may have been directly involved in the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails and handing the stolen files to Wikileaks. The report also establishes that Trump repeatedly discussed the Wikileaks document dumps with operative Roger Stone, then lied about those discussions with investigators.

Washington Post conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin today published an article titled “As it turns out, there really was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.” Norman Eisen, lawyer for the House impeachment managers, told her: “Collusion simply means Trump and those around him wrongly working together with Russia and its satellites, and the fact of that has long been apparent…. Indeed, it was clear to anyone with eyes from the moment Trump asked, ‘Russia, if you’re listening.’… The Senate report is a valuable contribution advancing our understanding, including explaining former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort’s nexus to Russian intelligence. The report further elucidates our understanding of collusion via WikiLeaks, which acted as a Russian cut-out.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi focused not on 2016 but on the present, noting that “America’s intelligence and law enforcement communities have made clear that the Russian Government is continuing to wage a massive intervention campaign to benefit the President, warning of a ‘365-days-a-year threat’ to compromise the 2020 elections and undermine our democracy.” She noted that the very first thing the Democrats did when they took a majority in the House was to pass H.R. 1, the For the People Act, to secure our elections, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has refused to take the bill up.

And now, tonight’s Democratic National Convention….

With actress Kerry Washington as emcee, the convention tonight first focused on the power of immigrants and investment in green energy to create jobs and protect the planet. Then it turned to a celebration of women in politics.

A hundred years after the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution giving women the right to vote, American women are redirecting American democracy to a new emphasis on community and inclusion. In her segment tonight, Pelosi—the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives-- noted that there are now 105 women in the House (this number includes women delegates from American Samoa, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands). Ninety are Democrats.

Tonight’s DNC emphasized issues important to women, including the provision of childcare as national infrastructure and legislation addressing domestic violence. It showed images of women who “make trouble… the good kind.”

Former Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords, shot in the head in 2011 as she held a constituent event, set the message for the evening: “Today, I struggle with speech, but I have not lost my voice. America needs all of us to speak out, even when you have to fight to find the words. We are at a crossroads. We can choose to let this continue or we can act.” She implored listeners to vote.

In a somber speech, former President Barack Obama warned that, in this election, American democracy is at stake. He outlined the strengths he sees in Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, then warned people not to let “this president and those in power… those who benefit from keeping things the way they are… [to] take away your power. Don’t let them take away your democracy…. What we do echoes through the generations.”

It was a powerful speech—one for the ages, really—and it set up the night’s final speaker, California Senator Kamala Harris, now the Democratic candidate for vice president.

Harris tied Obama’s theme to her own story as the American-born child of immigrants, reminding us that America is a “a beloved community where all are welcome.”

But not everyone sees America that way. “I think we need to ask ourselves, why don’t they want us to vote?” she said. “Why is there so much effort to silence our voices? And the answer is because when we vote, things change. When we vote, things get better…. Years from now, this moment will have passed. And our children and our grandchildren will look in our eyes and ask us: Where were you when the stakes were so high? … And we will tell them. We will tell them, not just how we felt. We will tell them what we did."


August 20, 2020 (Thursday)

Sheesh. What a day.

It began last night, while I was writing last night’s letter, when shortly after midnight we learned that Alexei Navalny, outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin’s government, has apparently been poisoned. He collapsed in pain on an airplane after drinking tea at Russia’s Tomsk airport. The plane made an emergency landing, meeting medics who raced Navalny to the hospital, where he is gravely ill. The poisoning is a chilling reminder of Putin’s tactics just days after the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election established that the Trump campaign invited his influence into our affairs.

Then, today, federal prosecutors in New York acting for a grand jury indicted Steve Bannon, Brian Kolfage, and two others for fraud and money laundering in connection with an online crowdfunding campaign that raised more than $25 million to build a wall on the U.S. southern border with Mexico. The men told donors to “We the People Build the Wall” that “100% of the funds raised… will be used in the execution of our mission and purpose,” and that “we’re a volunteer organization.” In fact, they allegedly pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars, routing the money through a shell company and false invoices.

The indictment quotes text messages between the men indicating they were quite deliberately running a scam. The messages highlight how the Republican system of fundraising from small donors, pioneered by direct-mail guru Richard Viguerie in the 1960s to fund Movement Conservatives rejected by traditional Republicans, now is used to funnel money from unsuspecting marks into the pockets of people who stoke rightwing outrage.

Bannon’s arrest means that two of Trump’s 2016 campaign chairs—Paul Manafort and Bannon-- have now been indicted and arrested on charges of fraud. The third, Corey Lewandowski, was also arrested on a misdemeanor battery charge against a reporter, but while video proved the reporter’s account was accurate, the charge was dropped. The campaign’s deputy chairman, Rick Gates, an associate of Manafort, was also charged with financial crimes and conspiracy, and was sentenced to 45 days in jail after agreeing to cooperate with investigators.

Trump immediately tried to distance himself from Bannon, saying he hadn’t “been dealing with him for a very long period of time.” Bannon was the chief executive of Trump’s 2016 campaign, replacing Manafort, and upon entering the White House, Trump named Bannon to a newly created position as “chief strategist” on a level with the chief of staff. So influential in the early administration was Bannon that Trump gave him a full seat on the “principals committee” of the National Security Council, while pushing the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence down to occasional attendees. Bannon left the White House after the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally highlighted the dangers of having an open white nationalist in the White House. Then-White House chief of staff John Kelly asked Bannon to leave. But at least for a while, Trump continued to call Bannon when Kelly was not around.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany issued a statement saying Trump “has not been involved with Steve Bannon since the campaign and the early part of the Administration, and he does not know the people involved with this project.” In fact, supporters of the project include Donald Trump, Jr., his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, and anti-immigrant activist Kris Kobach. Last year, Kobach said Trump had given the effort his blessing, and there is a testimonial from Trump Jr. on their website. Trump Org spokeswoman Amanda Miller said Trump Jr. had given one speech at one of their events, and they used his words as a testimonial without his permission.

Bannon pleaded not guilty and was released on a $5 million bail bond secured with $1.75 million in cash. “This entire fiasco is to stop people who want to build the wall,” he told reporters as he left the federal courthouse.

The arrests set off a tweet storm from the president. Trump also called into the show of Fox News channel personality Sean Hannity tonight, claiming again that mail-in voting will create a fraudulent election and emphasizing—in unfortunate words about sending law enforcement to polling places—that he plans to deploy all the means he can to challenge the 2020 vote.

Today a federal judge rejected the argument of Trump’s lawyers that the subpoena of Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. for eight years of Trump’s tax returns is “wildly overbroad.” Judge Victor Marrero upheld the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers immediately indicated they would appeal the decision.

Meanwhile, Trump has asked the Supreme Court to overturn a ruling last year by a federal appeals court that he may not block his critics on Twitter. The lower court said that since Trump uses the account for official announcements, he violates the First Amendment whenever he blocks someone and silences them. Today his lawyers argued that his account is his personal property and that he does not have to tolerate opposing views on it. Blocking critics would enable Trump to control what his followers see on his account, preventing visible pushback to his tweets. In effect, he could dominate the discourse in a public space.

Trump certainly has critics.

Deborah L Hughes, the director of the Susan B. Anthony museum, today rejected Trump’s pardon for Ms. Anthony, saying the pardon validated a legal process Anthony called an outrage.

Then, shortly before the Democratic National Convention kicked off tonight, more than 70 senior national security officials from the Republican Party released a letter announcing that they are supporting Biden in 2020. Their letter lists ten reasons Trump has “failed our country.” Donald Trump, they write, “is dangerously unfit to serve another term.”

Tonight was the night that former Vice President Joe Biden gave his acceptance speech in response to the Democratic Party’s nomination of him as their presidential candidate.

Tonight was Biden’s, as military families and former service people testified to his support for them, 13-year-old Brayden Harrington explained how Biden helped him deal with his own stutter (huge props for this young man taking on this assignment and executing it so well), Biden’s former rivals for the nomination talked of Biden’s kindness and decency, and, above all, Biden’s family emphasized again and again that for Biden, family and faith is everything. The picture was of a fundamentally decent and moral man, a striking contrast to his Republican rival.

The Democratic National Committee has pulled off an astonishing accomplishment with this, the nation’s first virtual political convention. It was tightly choreographed, inclusive, passionate, and fun, drawing in viewers with its variety and quick pace. It demonstrated professionalism, talent, and skill even without taking into account its content.

But the content was key. Rather than weakening the event, the lack of audience created an intimacy between speakers and viewers that lent a shining new authenticity to the voices the convention highlighted.

Biden is always a better speaker than people who know him for his gaffes expect, and tonight he hit it out of the park. On FNC, Chris Wallace noted that the Trump campaign’s attempt to convince voters Biden is mentally impaired backfired badly as he delivered “an enormously effective speech.”

Rather than simply outline his plan for his presidency, Biden also gave an impassioned plea for the nation, tying his love for it to his own life and values. He treated voters not as tools to be manipulated, but as people who can be trusted to choose their own future.

“America is at an inflection point,” he said. “A time of real peril, but of extraordinary possibilities. We can choose the path of becoming angrier, less hopeful, and more divided. A path of shadow and suspicion. Or we can choose a different path, and together, take this chance to heal, to be reborn, to unite. A path of hope and light. This is a life-changing election that will determine America’s future for a very long time. Character is on the ballot. Compassion is on the ballot. Decency, science, democracy. They are all on the ballot. Who we are as a nation. What we stand for. And most importantly, who we want to be. That’s all on the ballot. And the choice could not be clearer.”


Misread this as “infection point” and my brain just stumbled into something something shadow and suspicion, something something reborn something hope and light, something character something compassion, and something about a choice.

I definitely need a weekend. For the mind is dark, and full of errors.


Stealing this!!


twitter would be surprised about that one. as would their eula


That’s an argument that his account should be banned.


August 21, 2020 (Friday)

After the cascade of news in the past several days and the Democratic National Convention, today was a relatively calm day… at least in politics.

There are, though, some important stories.

The first is getting less play than it should: the nation has lately been hit by a series of environmental catastrophes. California is in the midst of a brutal heat wave, and has been hit by 560 fires, many of them sparked by lightning. Some of the fires have come together to create two dozen large and complex conflagrations. Land the size of Rhode Island has been burned over, six people have died in the fires, and one hundred thousand Californians have been evacuated from their homes. Air quality is dangerously bad.

California’s ability to fight the fires has been hampered by a lack of prison inmates, who have been used to fight fires since the 1940s. Usually the state can mobilize 192 inmate firefighting crews, but this year, the coronavirus has thinned their ranks both from disease and from release, as the state sent inmates home to relieve crowded facilities and slow the virus’s spread. Less than half the crews are available this year.

Inmate firefighters make up to $5.12 a day (that’s not a typo) and earn two days off their prison sentence for each day firefighting. Each year, they provide about 3 million hours of emergency response time to the state.

In an extremely rare weather event, two tropical depressions—Laura and Marco-- are currently developing in the Gulf of Mexico. If they become hurricanes, the event will be unique: never before in recorded history has the Gulf had two hurricanes at the same time. Weather Channel meteorologist Greg Diamond notes that the town of Chauvin, Louisiana, has the dubious honor of being located at the site where both forecast cones overlap.

Illinois and Iowa were hit with a “land hurricane” or “derecho” on August 10. The winds of up to 110 miles per hour damaged homes and businesses in Iowa and destroyed at least 10 million acres of crops. Many are still without power. Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds ® asked for $3.9 billion in federal aid on Sunday, and Trump tweeted that he had “Just approved (and fast) the FULL Emergency Declaration for the Great State of Iowa.”

But, in fact, he approved only about $45 million in aid to repair government buildings and utilities and remove debris from them. He did not fund assistance for homeowners or farmers. This appears to reflect the Republican conviction that the federal government has no role to play in providing a safety net for individuals.

There are a few political stories as well today.

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified before the Senate. He acknowledged that the changes he has made at the United States Postal Service have slowed mail delivery—the LA Times had a ghastly story today about rotting parcels and shipments of dead chickens in mail facilities in California—but says he will not replace the sorting machines he has had removed because “they’re not needed.” He promises the USPS will be able to handle the expected volume of mail-in ballots this fall, and insisted he had made “no changes in any policies with regard to election mail for the 2020 election.” In fact, internal USPS documents show clearly that the USPS intended to treat ballots according to their marked postage, rather than all as first-class mail, as it has done in the past. Treating ballots as bulk mail would have slowed delivery.

The Senate hearing before the Republican-led Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee was announced after the House Oversight Committee had arranged a hearing for Monday with DeJoy and USPS Board of Governors Chair Robert Duncan. While senators of both parties today expressed concerns over delays in the mail, the hearing was much friendlier than Monday’s, in front of a committee led by Democrats, is likely to be.

Trump’s apparent embrace of the QAnon conspiracy theory has put Republicans in an uncomfortable spot. The victory of QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene in her conservative district in Georgia Tuesday means she will likely be going to Congress, along with her racism, anti-Semitism, and adherence to the belief that Trump is leading a secret crusade to purge the world of a gang of pedophiles and cannibals who have taken over governments and economies. When Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger tweeted that there is “no place in Congress” for QAnon, Greene retorted: “He’s a never Trumper who did nothing to stop the Russian collusion conspiracy/witch hunt…. America can’t afford any more RINOs!” (A “RINO” is a “Republican in Name Only," an epithet used since the 1990s to purge the party of moderates.)

“If she’s the future of the Republican party, we’re in trouble,” said freshman Representative Denver Riggleman (R-VA), who was replaced in his primary by a far-right candidate. And there’s the rub for Republican leaders: QAnon supporters like Trump, but their extremism threatens to turn off all but fellow extremists. So far, Republican leaders have been quiet about the QAnon believers in their midst, but there are rumblings of discontent from lower lawmakers at the inclusion of conspiracy theorists in their caucus.

There are signs that some Republican candidates are desperate. In Arizona, Martha McSally, who was appointed to her seat by Governor Doug Ducey in late 2018 after losing an election for Arizona’s other senate seat, is running significantly behind her Democratic challenger, former astronaut Mark Kelly. (Kelly is married to former Arizona Representative Gabby Giffords.) Tonight, news leaked that at a recent event McSally said: “We’re doing our part to catch up, you know, to get our message out. But it takes resources. So, anybody can give, I’m not ashamed to ask, to invest. If you can give a dollar, five dollars, if you can fast a meal and give what that would be.” After pushback on Twitter over the statement that people should go hungry to fund her campaign, a spokesperson said McSally had been joking.

The president’s tax returns were back in the news again today. Yesterday, Federal Judge Victor Marrero dismissed the president’s argument that the Manhattan district attorney’s subpoena for eight years of his taxes was “wildly overbroad.” Marrero permitted the subpoena to stand. Trump’s lawyers then filed an emergency motion to block a grand jury from obtaining the records. The court today denied their request and scheduled a hearing about the matter on September 1. Trump’s lawyers have argued that the presidency makes Trump “constitutionally different” from other people, and thus should be treated differently than others. The court disagrees. Yesterday’s decision prompted Trump to complain, “This is just a continuation of the most hideous witch hunt in the history of our country.”

Finally, the White House has made no statement on the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. European leaders as well as American politicians of both parties have condemned the attack.


people keep asking the gods for a sign and the gods keep bringing them.


Good eye!


August 22, 2020 (Saturday)

Writing fitfully tonight, first one thing and then another, and it occurs to me I should maybe just go to bed and recharge. It was quite a long week, and next week will also be chock full.

There was one big story that dropped tonight: Trump’s niece secretly recorded her aunt-- Trump’s sister-- talking honestly about Trump, and the tapes are ugly. But that will come as no surprise to anyone, I suspect, and it can wait another day.

Despite all this, you know, the world can still be a beautiful place.

Tonight’s picture is courtesy of my daughter.


If there would be any god’s, they hopefully had better things to do than showing their wrath based on a French surname which became eponymous of an idiotic state of mind.


Il faut imaginer Sisyphe heureux.

Il faut.


i don’t know if you’ve ever read any of the stories about the god yahweh* or not. your hopes for him are probably a bit high of the mark. he loved him some arbitrary wrath

(* he’s pretty popular in the us right now for weird historic reasons. and especially in the crowd that seems to be against all things middle eastern. go figure. )


August 23, 2020 (Sunday)

Trump is running far behind Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the polls. In early February 2020, at its best, his overall popularity rating hovered close to 50%. In the same month, according to a Gallup poll, 63% of Americans approved of the way he was handling the economy. To keep this economic success story going, Trump downplayed the coronavirus, leaving us wide open to its devastation. It hit the U.S. in earnest shortly after this poll was taken. The economy shut down, and we plummeted into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

But Trump is determined to be reelected, so determined that he has begun to suggest he will not accept a Biden victory as valid. There is room to speculate about why he is so obsessed with reelection that he took the unprecedented step of filing for reelection way back in January 2017, on the day of his inauguration. One possible answer is that campaign money can be used to pay for lawyers under certain circumstances. As of May, the campaign had spent more than $16 million on legal services—in comparison, George W. Bush spent $8.8 million; Barack Obama spent $5.5 million; and, in May, Biden had spent just $1.3 million. Another possible answer is that the Department of Justice maintains that a sitting president cannot be indicted.

To pull off a win Trump is trying to guarantee loyal Republican voters will show up to vote. To that end, he is favoring evangelical voters, his most loyal bloc. Last week’s posthumous pardon for Susan B. Anthony was a gift to anti-abortion activists; yesterday Trump explicitly called the attention of evangelical Christians to his lie that “The Democrats took the word GOD out of the Pledge of Allegiance at the Democrat National Convention.” (They didn’t. The Muslim caucus and the LGBTQ caucus, both of which met privately, left the words “under God” out. All the public, televised events used the words.)

This morning he was more abrupt. He tweeted: “Happy Sunday! We want GOD!” And then he went golfing.

He is also trying to consolidate power over Republican lawmakers, making the party his own. The Republican National Convention starts tomorrow night, and it seems it will be the Trump Show. The convention was initially supposed to be in Charlotte, North Carolina, and then Trump moved it to Jacksonville, Florida, when North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, would not guarantee he could have full capacity despite the coronavirus. Finally, in the wake of the under-attended Tulsa rally, Trump recognized that the convention would have to be virtual. But this has left planners scrambling to plan a convention in four weeks, when planning one usually takes a full year. No one seems quite sure what is going to happen.

It is traditional for a candidate to put in a short appearance to acknowledge the nomination and then give a keynote acceptance speech on the last day. But the RNC’s announced line-up features Trump speaking every night in the prime-time slot. The speakers include the First Lady and all of the adult Trump children, including Tiffany, but do not include any of the previous Republican presidents or presidential nominees, which is unusual.

Trump will speak live from the White House. This raises legal questions because while the president and vice-president are not covered by the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activities, the rest of the White House staff is. Further, it is against the law to coerce federal employees to conduct political activity.

Vice President Mike Pence will also speak from federal property—possibly Fort McHenry— the First Lady will speak from the newly renovated Rose Garden, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will apparently speak from Jerusalem while on an official trip to the Middle East, although secretaries of state generally do not speak at either political convention. Democrats have raised concerns about the overlap between official property and business and the Trump campaign.

The Republicans have written no platform to outline policies and goals for the future. Instead they passed a resolution saying that “the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda.” The party appears now to be Trump’s.


The Republicans’ next resolution calls on the media “to engage in accurate and unbiased reporting, especially as it relates to the strong support of the RNC for President Trump and his Administration.” And a final resolution prohibited the Republicans from making any motions to write a new platform.

If you read that carefully, you see people trying to convince everyone that they are united, when they are, in fact, badly split.

Trump’s extremism is alienating the voters that other Republican lawmakers need to stay in power, and those lawmakers are trying to keep their distance from him without antagonizing his base. Yesterday, in Portland, Oregon, the police refused to respond as neo-fascist Proud Boys and armed militia members staging a “Back the Blue” rally attacked Black Lives Matter protesters, who fought back. It is a truism in American history that violence costs a group political support, and militia groups are angry because Facebook has banned them, hurting their ability to recruit.

Today, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officers shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, in the back multiple times in front of his children; the shooting was caught on video and has sparked outrage.

Tell-all books are also undermining the president. Yesterday, it came out that when researching her book, Mary Trump, the president’s niece, recorded her aunt, Maryanne Trump Barry, Trump’s sister, discussing Trump. “All he wants to do is appeal to his base,” Barry said. “He has no principles. None. None.” “Donald is cruel,” she said, “he was a brat.” A new book by CNN reporter Brian Stelter shows how Trump simply echoes the personalities at the Fox News Channel. And former Trump fixer Michael Cohen is about to release his own book about his years working for Trump.

Trump also took a personal hit tonight, when advisor Kellyanne Conway announced she was leaving the White House. Both she and her husband, George Conway, a co-founder of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, are stepping away from the public eye to deal with family issues exacerbated by the political drama of the past several years.

And the Russia story, revived by the fifth volume of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on Russian connections to the 2016 Trump campaign, is not going away. Tonight, the Daily Beast reported that Jared Kushner—who after, all, could not get a security clearance until Trump overruled authorities-- has been using a secret back channel to communicate with a Putin representative. According to the story, Steve Bannon, who was arrested on Friday by the acting U.S. Attorney at the Southern District of New York and so now has an excellent reason to flip, knew all about it.

This afternoon, Trump tried to change the news trend when he called a press conference to announce what he called a “safe and effective treatment” for Covid-19. The FDA has approved an Emergency Use Authorization for convalescent plasma, a treatment involving giving anti-body rich plasma from those who have had the virus to those ill with it. Studies show that the treatment has some potential, but there has been little scientific study of it, and it is certainly not established as an effective treatment. Federal health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have objected to the EUA until there is more information; Trump has accused the doctors of delaying approval for political reasons. He walked out of the press conference after a reporter asked about the discrepancy between his triumphant announcement of a treatment and a doctor’s explanation that plasma has potential.

So the best option for the president to win in 2020 might be to keep Biden supporters from voting. Yesterday, the House passed a bill committing $25 billion to the United States Postal Service and to stop Postmaster General Louis DeJoy from making more changes that are delaying the delivery of the mail. Today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to take up the bill.

But Americans have figured out that they can avoid using the slowed USPS by turning to Ballot Drop Boxes. So today, Trump tweeted that “Mail Drop Boxes… are a voter security disaster,” that are “not Covid sanitized.”

Twitter slapped a warning on it: “This tweet violated the Twitter rules about civic and election integrity.”


Trump blathering on about God is especially repugnant to watch. The man is a living embodiment of all the seven mortal sins, and can’t even fake being a Christian for a softball two-minute interview. And the Evangelicals seem to be lapping the lies up, and asking for more.


Well, we already know they’re perfectly happy to shut out evidence in favor of a delusional fantasy.


just like suburbanites, you always have to insert the word “white” whenever you hear “evangelical” because media often leaves it out

and black evangelicals really really dislike trump

more than 8 in 10 disapprove of his time as president


August 24, 2020 (Monday)

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy appeared before the House of Representatives today to explain recent changes to the United States Postal Service. Those changes—removal of sorting machines and postboxes, and an end to overtime hours, for example—have drastically slowed mail delivery. Undelivered mail has piled up in USPS facilities, and there is real concern that the USPS will not be able to handle the volume of mail expected when large numbers of voters begin to return their mail-in ballots for the November election.

DeJoy seemed incensed that he had to answer to Congress; he rolled his eyes, laughed derisively at questions, and talked over the representatives. He claimed that he did not order the changes that have caused the back-ups, but could not say who had. He also insisted that he was not trying to sabotage the election, but refused to replace the missing machines, saying they were not needed. He committed to delivering ballots in time, despite warnings from the USPS that it is not sure it can handle the expected avalanche of ballots. Under questioning from Katie Porter (D-CA), a law professor who has won a reputation as a thorough questioner, DeJoy confessed he did not know how much most postage costs, nor how many Americans voted by mail in the last election.

Maine Senator Angus King, an Independent, tweeted: “The Postmaster General’s appearances before Congress have betrayed his lack of knowledge about the USPS, and shown his indifference towards the challenges Americans are facing as a result of his policies. Inexcusable.”

Congressional questioning of Robert M. Duncan, the chair of the USPS’s Board of Governors, confirmed a story that appeared last week in the New York Times saying that DeJoy was not on the list of 53 names a search firm provided the board as candidates for the Postmaster General position. DeJoy was apparently inserted into the process by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, suggesting political pressure over a traditionally nonpartisan office.

Former president of Liberty University Jerry Falwell, Jr., has resigned from his position after a former pool attendant, Giancarlo Granda, went public about a sexual arrangement he had with Falwell and his wife for six years, in which Granda and Becki Falwell had sex while Jerry Falwell watched. Yesterday, the Washington Examiner published a story in which Falwell claimed that he and his wife were being blackmailed because Becki had had an affair, and the fallout from the affair had driven Falwell into depression.

This is a major political story because Falwell Jr., the son of the Reverend Jerry Falwell Sr., is an important figure in the evangelical community, and his sudden and unexpected endorsement of Donald Trump in 2016 brought evangelicals to the thrice-married and unreligious long-shot candidate, rather than to Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who expected Falwell’s support. Falwell, who is a lawyer and real estate developer rather than a minister, said he was endorsing Trump out of respect for his business experience.

Now, of course, that picture looks different. There were apparently photos that reflected the Falwell-Granda arrangement in some fashion, and Michael Cohen, Trump’s fixer, in 2015 was involved in making them go away and so got his hands on them. He also brokered Falwell’s endorsement of Trump. How exactly all that transpired is unclear, but it seems likely that Falwell’s endorsement was related to his desire to make sure the story of his unusual marital arrangement did not become public. As Josh Marshall at TalkingPointsMemo put it: “Trump Owned Jerry and Jerry Knew It.”

Today was the first day of the Republican National Convention. The Republicans attacked the Democratic National Convention as negative and dark, and promised that they would share an optimistic, uplifting vision of America. Instead, the Republicans presented a dark fantasy vision of a hellscape where Democrats want to turn America into a war zone. In a fascinating echo of the Republican Party of the late nineteenth century, when party leaders tried to overcome voters’ dislike by claiming that the Democrats were anarchists and socialists who would destroy the nation, today’s Republicans said that the election is a choice between “church, work and school” and “rioting, looting and vandalism.” The intersection of race and gender with this vision today was striking, as the delegates nominating Trump were noticeably white, older, and male, in contrast to the diversity of the Democratic delegates last week.

As expected because of the short timeline, the convention has been disorganized with much lower production values than the DNC, but it nonetheless set out to convince Americans that, as Trump said, “We’ve accomplished more during the first three and a half years of this administration than any president in the history of our country.” As soon as delegates on video had officially nominated him, he surprised everyone by taking the stage for a largely unscripted speech that hit his usual points: the Democrats want to take way guns, religion, and U.S. energy production.

Most significant to the speech, though, was Trump’s repeated insistence that the Democrats are rigging the election, and that if they win, the results will not be legitimate. When the crowd cheered “four more years,” he urged attendees instead to cheer for “twelve more years.” This refrain has become so commonplace it can no longer be dismissed as the joke he initially claimed it was. He seems to be setting up his followers to refuse to accept a defeat at the polls.

Tonight’s program was designed to try to repair the political damage caused by the administration’s poor response to the coronavirus, which has already claimed at least 177,000 lives in the U.S. and infected almost 6 million people. The U.S. has 4% of the world’s population and we have suffered 25% of its deaths, but Trump tried to spin his response to the coronavirus as a great success. To the degree there were problems he was willing to admit, he blamed them on “ill-prepared” governors. In a taped segment tonight with Trump chatting with nurses and front-line workers—a human side of him we rarely see—Trump accepted their praise for his great leadership.

This was the sort of gaslighting we’ve come to expect from this administration. Even as he spoke, reality undercut his message. In the segment, no one was masked, and he defended the unproven treatments for the virus hydroxychloroquine and convalescent plasma. Today, scientists—including one who worked on the study the FDA leadership cited yesterday in Trump’s press conference—said they had no idea where Trump got the statistic that convalescent plasma had reduced deaths by 35%. They have called on the FDA to correct the statement.

Tonight’s highest profile speakers were Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), and Donald Trump Jr. Scott attacked Biden’s record on race and offered an optimistic vision of America. A Black man, Scott said that Biden’s negative picture of racial justice in America was overblown and that his own story proved wrong the idea that African Americans operate under systemic racism that hampers their success. His grandfather, who was forced out of school in the third grade to work in the cotton fields, saw his grandson elected to Congress.

Don Jr., and his girlfriend Kim Guilfoyle also spoke, and their speeches were more problematic. Both sought to rile up the base, but they tipped beyond normal behavior. Don’s appearance, especially, led to speculation that he was high, and “Cocaine” began trending on Twitter.

This was an excellent start for a convention designed to feed Trump’s base but not an auspicious start for a convention designed to appeal to undecided voters. As notable for who is speaking at the convention is who is not. Few leading Republicans are showing up, and most incumbents running in this cycle are keeping their distance, recognizing that Trump is a drag on their campaigns.

Today more than two dozen Republican former members of Congress endorsed Biden. The former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security in the Trump administration, Miles Taylor, and Elizabeth Neumann, another former senior DHS official, today announced they are organizing the Republican Political Alliance for Integrity and Reform (REPAIR) to pull together current and former administration officials who oppose Trump. They claim to have at least two current senior officials on board.

Former chair of the RNC Michael Steele joined the anti-Trump Lincoln Project today. “Today is the day where things should matter and you need to take stock of what matters to you – and the kind of leader you want to lead in these moments. And for me, it ain’t him,” Steele said.


I suppose most people interested already know this, but he has backed off from resigning.


In, out, in, out.


As I typed, I was wondering if I was already wrong.