Pablo Picasso Self portrait with palette 1906
“To me, this is just classic textbook Soviet Russian tradecraft at work,” former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says as authorities are investigating if recently published emails are tied to a Russian disinformation effort targeting Biden. https://t.co/kCvZhYY2Jj pic.twitter.com/V2i83KSVXw
— CNN (@CNN) October 17, 2020
⚠️IS IT AUTHENTIC? @RudyGiuliani describes how the Hunter hard drive material was authenticated. Best one: Hunter Bidens OWN BIG MOUTH LAWYER CALLED THE REPAIRMAN ASKING FOR “HIS CLIENTS’ HARD DRIVE BACK”. Plus, disgusting photos of sex acts could ONLY come from Hunter. WATCH: https://t.co/MsagZMUptI pic.twitter.com/CJTT36i5uq
— Land of the Free (@trustrestored) October 16, 2020
"We can deal with the process all you want, but nobody dealt with the process when they stole Trump's tax returns & published it without verifying anything & they don't even have an unnamed source for it"@RudyGiuliani responds to the veracity of the info published by @nypost pic.twitter.com/5W9O3zHW8k
— Sagnik Basu (@_sagnikbasu) October 16, 2020
Think electoral college.
While national polls may reliably forecast the national popular vote in a presidential election, given the electoral college map, battleground state polling is more meaningful — and in 2020 battleground polls show a much tighter race between President Trump and challenger Joe Biden. In the RealClearPolitics polling averages on Thursday, Biden led Trump by 9.4% nationally but just 4.9% in key battleground states. In the battleground states, moreover, Trump on Thursday was running 0.5% ahead of where he was at this stage of the 2016 campaign, according to the RCP average — the 12th consecutive day on which the president outperformed his corresponding 2016 numbers.
Pollster Scott Rasmussen, who conducts the Just the News Daily Poll, also released for PoliticalIQ a series of polls in four battleground states showing a race for the White House that remains competitive. Trump was victorious in all four states in 2016, and they are crucial to his reelection hopes. Rasmussen reported that Biden leads narrowly in all four — Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. However, with a slightly stronger-than-expected Republican turnout, Rasmussen said the president would take the lead in Florida and North Carolina. Like the polls in the RealClearPolitics average, Rasmussen’s nationwide poll for Just the News also showed a wider lead for Biden than among his PoliticalIQ key battleground polls.
And the PoliticalIQ polls conducted among 800 likely voters show results in all four states that were within the margin of error, meaning that Trump could prove victorious and defy conventional wisdom as he did in 2016. “One particular challenge involves estimating the number of mail-in votes that will be cast,” Rasmussen wrote. “Those who plan to vote by mail overwhelmingly prefer Biden over Trump. Therefore, the larger the number of votes cast by mail, the better it is for the Democrat.” Rasmussen told Just the News that the polling wild card this cycle is sampling during a pandemic — something for which there is no precedent, as polling wasn’t practiced in 1918 during the last global pandemic. Rasmussen said if the race remains close, this could create a crisis of legitimacy for whoever wins.
They think they’ll have massive power. Ask Bernie why they’re wrong.
The election is still 18 days away but Democrats are already drawing battle lines over what a Biden administration ought to look like. Left-wing House members including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Katie Porter, Ayanna Pressley, Raúl Grijalva and candidate Jamaal Bowman along with 39 progressive groups signed a letter, obtained by POLITICO, arguing that no C-suite level corporate executives or corporate lobbyists ought to have Senate-confirmed positions in a Biden administration. “One of the most important lessons of the Trump administration is the need to stop putting corporate officers and lobbyists in charge of our government,” they wrote. “As elected leaders, we should stop trying to make unsupportable distinctions between which corporate affiliations are acceptable for government service and which are not.”
The letter, which was delivered to Senate leaders Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell on Friday morning, called on both parties to adopt this standard, but organizers told POLITICO it was also intended to send a message to Joe Biden’s transition team as it vets potential candidates. “It’s not addressed to Biden, but there’s an understanding that he’d be in charge and be the person making nominations,” said Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat, who drafted the letter and recruited the signees. The letter is the latest sign of the deep divisions that continue to simmer within the Democratic Party.
The clashes between the left-wing and the center — particularly over economic policy — have eased over the past several months as the factions unite to defeat President Donald Trump but are likely to reignite if Biden is victorious. Biden would be forced to manage a potentially unwieldy coalition of aggressive left-wing Democrats and a new class of more moderate swing district Democrats from the suburbs. Those divisions could result in an intraparty brawl over nominations for senior level posts at Treasury and other economic agencies early in Biden’s term. The dueling sides could also put Schumer in a difficult position as he tries to fend off a potential primary challenge in 2022 — possibly by Ocasio-Cortez.
Do they have the same interests as voters?
The joint committees, which raise money for the Biden campaign, the Democratic National Committee and state parties, are being fueled, at least in part, by Wall Street executives. Those committees accept six-figure contributions. This surge of donations from people in the finance and investment industry comes even as Biden calls for raising taxes on those making over $400,000, as well as an increase in the corporate tax rate. It also comes as Biden faces pressure from progressive activists not to allow Wall Street leaders to join his Cabinet if he were to defeat Trump. Tim Geithner, former Treasury secretary under President Barack Obama and current president of private equity firm Warburg Pincus, contributed $150,000 to the Biden Action Fund in August.
Antonio Gracias, founder of Valor Equity Partners, and Jonathan Shulkin, a partner at the same firm, each shelled out more than $300,000 that same month to the committee. John Doerr, chairman of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, gave over $355,000 to the Biden Action Fund last quarter. Stephen Mandel, founder of Connecticut-based hedge fund Lone Pine Capital, contributed more than $310,000. Pete Muller, founder of investment manager PDT Partners, gave the committee $360,000. Jonathan Soros, an investor and son of billionaire George Soros, gave just under $145,000. Biden Action also saw large contributions from leaders at Blackstone, JPMorgan Chase, The Carlyle Group and Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts, among other firms.
The Biden Action Fund raised more than $4 million from those in the finance industry in the third quarter of 2020. The fund raised over $30 million overall last quarter. People in the financial industry have largely favored Biden, spending more than $50 million to back his candidacy, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, compared with more than $10 million for Trump. Several finance executives privately say that they’re tired of dealing with the impact of Trump’s tweets on their investments. They are starting to be convinced of a sweep by Democrats come Election Day.
Utter chaos. Cui bono?
A Michigan appeals court on Friday struck down a two-week extension ordered to tally votes after the election, ruling all mail-in ballots in the battleground state must arrive by Nov. 3 to count. The decision in a case brought by a group know as the Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans was a victory for President Trump, who has argued long delays in counting could lead to fraud, and a loss for Democrats who embraced the extension. The three-judge panel ruled unanimously that the 14 extra days ordered by a lower state court was not legal, or warranted by the pandemic or concerns about the postal service’s ability to deliver ballots.
The judges ruled the state constitution requires all votes to be turned in by 8 p.m. of Election Day to be counted, and could not be changed by a judicial order. “The Constitution is not suspended or transformed even in times of a pandemic, and judges do not somehow become authorized in a pandemic to rewrite statutes or to displace the decisions made by the policymaking branches of government,” Judge Mark Boonstra in one of the opinions. Trump won Michigan narrowly in 2016 and and Democrats are trying to turn the state back to blue this tie around.
There’s a reason she never polled above 2%. As someone said recently, she makes Hillary look likeable.
With the 2020 US presidential election less than a month away, there is widespread speculation concerning Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s mental and physical fitness at 77 years of age if he were to defeat incumbent Donald Trump on November 3rd. The former Vice President and Senator from Delaware would surpass his opponent as the oldest to ever hold the office of the presidency if victorious, while his generally acknowledged cognitive decline has led many to question whether he is even capable of serving a single term. Given the concerns about his health, the likelihood that Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, would become his successor has put the controversial former prosecutor and California Attorney General’s own politics under scrutiny, though not to a degree sufficient with the odds she could very well become commander-in-chief in the near future.
Trump himself suggested it was the hidden motivation behind House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent introduction of a 25th Amendment commission on removing a “mentally unfit” president to enable the replacement of an incapacitated Biden with Harris after the election. Even Saturday Night Live recently joked about Biden’s poor first debate performance as a Harris term in-the-making — but as journalist Caleb Maupin explains in his new book Kamala Harris and the Future of America: An Essay in Three Parts, the prospect of her becoming president is no laughing matter. Maupin’s ambitious essay surpasses the redundant analysis of the vice-presidential nominee by placing her political success in a broader historical context while forewarning the unique danger of a budding Harris administration waiting in the wings.
The majority of the critical examinations of Harris during the campaign have critiqued her rebranding as an outwardly “progressive” figure in stark contrast with the reality of her career as a ruthless criminal prosecutor turned establishment politician. While that is true, Maupin’s analysis takes an important step further by formulating the rise of Harris, who is the first Jamaican and South Asian-American nominee on a major party ticket, as the culmination of the US left’s failures in the last several decades resulting in its present deteriorated state preoccupied with liberal identity politics.
This has turned into a very ugly game.
Last friday, the Trump administration offered House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a $1.8 trillion stimulus deal, which she promptly rejected. It’s $400 billion smaller than the House Democrats’ plan and probably wouldn’t pass the GOP-controlled Senate. A handful of Democrats are calling on Pelosi to take it anyway, and dare Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to be the one to kill it. Now, Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are back on the phone, and reportedly inching closer to an agreement. But most House Democrats haven’t spoken out one way or another, in part because no House Democrat other than Pelosi knows what’s actually in the proposal.
The top-line spending amounts and some of the major provisions have been confirmed, but no one has seen the text, and no one’s sure what else Republicans have stuffed into it. Meanwhile, the typical lines of battle in the House have been scrambled. The left is urging Pelosi to quickly cave to Trump and take whatever deal is on offer, while the centrist Problem Solvers Caucus is doing the same, hoping to pick off enough progressives that they can team with Republicans to box McConnell in. It’s politically disorienting, made all the more confusing by Pelosi’s inability to put forward anything other than a callous rationale for her objections.
Pelosi defended her strategy in a contentious interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday, repeatedly lashing out at the host for asking why she wouldn’t accept Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s recent $1.8 trillion offer when Americans are being evicted and waiting in food lines. Blitzer cited the pressure within the Democratic Party to accept a deal, pointing to California Rep. Ro Khanna and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who have called on Pelosi to accept the GOP’s offer. “I don’t know why you’re always an apologist and many of your colleagues are apologists for the Republican position,” Pelosi told Blitzer. “Ro Khanna, that’s nice. That isn’t what we’re going to do. And nobody’s waiting until February. I want this very much now because people need help now. But it’s no use giving them a false thing just because the president wants to put a check with his name on it in the mail.”
Why did they ever talk in the first place?
Russia’s decision to quit the three-sided consultations with the Netherlands and Australia on flight MH17 is not surprising. It’s surprising that Moscow hasn’t done this earlier, having been declared guilty from day one.
Almost as soon as the terrible news came out on 17th July 2014 that a passenger airliner had come down over eastern Ukraine with the loss of all 298 people on board, the fingers of blame in the West were pointing at Russia, and the Kremlin was declared guilty until proven innocent. ‘Putin’s Missile’ was the headline of the Sun newspaper, implying that the Russian President had personally fired the missile which allegedly downed the airliner. ‘MH17: Can Russia be held to account?’ asked The Economist – again implying it was a foregone conclusion who was responsible.
Russia’s guilt was already established – before any inquiry was held – and even saying ‘let’s wait a while before we see more evidence’ could bring you under attack as part of ‘Putin’s lie machine.’ That has more or less been the case ever since. Just eight days after the tragedy, the Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said the EU would widen its already existing sanctions on Russia on account of the crash. The explanation for the disaster was simple. The plane had been shot down by separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine who had been armed by Russia. End of Story. Since 2014 we’ve had investigations into the crash by the Dutch Safety Board and the Joint Investigation Tim (JIT) – which included Ukraine.
But, as the Kremlin has stated, both appeared to have started off from the premise Russia was guilty, and worked backwards from there. Those who weren’t prejudiced against Russia – and simply wanted to get to the truth without fear nor favour, saw clearly what was happening. “We are very unhappy, because, from the very beginning, it was a political issue on how to accuse Russia of the wrongdoing. Even before they examine, they already said Russia. And now they said they have proof. It is very difficult for us to accept that.” was the view of the Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed. “As far as we are concerned, we want proof of guilt … but so far, there is no proof. Only hearsay,” he added. “I hope everybody will go for the truth.”
The fact that Malaysia, the country whose airliner was the one lost in the tragedy, believed there was ’no proof’ of Russian guilt should have been front-page news in the West, but of course it was ignored because it didn’t fit the dominant anti-Russian narrative. In 2018 Russia agreed to hold trilateral consultations with the Netherlands and Australia but it was clear that the aim of these consultations was only to try and make Russia admit guilt – and in the process make it liable for compensation to the relatives of the crash victims. Proof of this is the fact that the Dutch government did not even wait for the preliminary results of these consultations before taking Russia to the European Court of Human Rights in July, for its ’role in the downing’ of MH17. The only surprise is that it’s taken Russia three months after that incredibly provocative act to quit the consultation.
Steve also predicts a “full-blown GFC-style global financial crisis” next year.
As I write these words, Spain is suffering from its second wave of Covid-19, and it ranks 7th in the world for Covid-19 cases, while its rank in world population is far lower. It has, and is, experiencing more than its fair share of pain from the novel coronavirus. Spain suffered far more than its fair share of pain during the Global Financial Crisis too. There is now a terrible danger that these two crises will compound each other, because neither Spain nor the rest of the world had truly recovered from the financial crisis when Covid-19 began. I use the USA for most of my examples in this book, but in many ways Spain is a textbook example of the economic forces that caused the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), and how conventional economic thinking — epitomized most dramatically in the European Union’s limits on government debt and government deficits—helped cause the crisis, and made its impact even worse.
The data on Spain’s crisis and its bungled aftermath are so obvious that you might wonder why the thesis I defend in this book—that economic crises are caused not by government debt, but by private debt—is not the conventional wisdom. The role of the Euro in triggering the boom in private debt, and thus making a crisis more likely, is also obvious. After an exciting first eight years, the Euro and its “Growth and Stability Pact” have led to contraction and instability. Much was made of Spain’s success in meeting the Growth and Stability Pact’s target of government debt being below 60% of GDP. Government debt was 70% of GDP when the Euro commenced in 1999, and it fell to a low of 35% of GDP by mid-2008.
It was almost the only country in the Eurozone to meet and exceed both of the Euro’s policy targets: a government debt level of less than 60% of GDP, and a deficit of less than 3% of GDP. In fact, it exceeded the deficit target handsomely, running not merely a small deficit, but a substantial surplus between 2004 and the crisis, peaking at 2.5% of GDP in mid-2006—see Figure 1. If the Euro’s rules had the effect they were intended to have, this should have meant that Spain was less likely to experience a crisis, and well prepared to handle it if one did occur. This proved to be the opposite of the truth.
The reason is starkly evident in Figure 2: while Spain was lauded for halving its level of Government debt, across the same time span, private debt almost trebled—and throughout, it dwarfed government debt. Private debt had no trend before the introduction of the Euro: it was 67% of GDP in 1970, rose as high as 85% in 1977, but by the start of the Euro, it had risen not at all: it was also 85% of GDP in 1999. However, from the introduction of the Euro until 2010, it rose far more rapidly than government debt fell: as government debt fell by 35% of GDP, private debt rose by 140%.
All Your Base R Belong to Us.
Big Tech is bucking two big workforce trends. Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google are all scooping up New York City commercial real estate after prices have plummeted due to the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. The companies are making a bold contrarian bet that Manhattan will bounce back and there will still be a need for people to work in offices. According to the New York Times, Facebook leased enough space in the city to triple the amount of people that can work in New York. Apple, which has been in the city for at least a decade, plans to expand its footprint there. Google and Amazon are snatching up space in New York—greater than any other place in the U.S. Amazon recently paid about $1 billion to acquire the Lord & Taylor flagship building in Midtown Manhattan from WeWork. Collectively, the tech behemoths can accommodate over 20,000 workers.
After seven months of remote work, it seems that both employees and employers are seeking a balance and options. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said in an interview at the TIME100 Honorees: Visions for the Future event, the company will be more “flexible” with its workers and offer a “hybrid” model that will include a blend of both remote and in-office methods of working. Pichai, who was recognized by TIME as one of the world’s most influential people, acknowledged that his employees have distinct needs, as it relates to their work style and preferences, stating, “We firmly believe that in-person, being together, having a sense of community is super important when you have to solve hard problems and create something new so we don’t see that changing. But we do think we need to create more flexibility and more hybrid models.”
“incredibly precise . . . tracking systems”
Moncef Slaoui, the official head of Operation Warp Speed, told the Wall Street Journal last week that all Warp Speed vaccine recipients in the US will be monitored by “incredibly precise . . . tracking systems” for up to two years and that tech giants Google and Oracle would be involved. Last week, a rare media interview given by the Trump administration’s “Vaccine Czar” offered a brief glimpse into the inner workings of the extremely secretive Operation Warp Speed (OWS), the Trump administration’s “public-private partnership” for delivering a Covid-19 vaccine to 300 million Americans by next January. What was revealed should deeply unsettle all Americans.
During an interview with the Wall Street Journal published last Friday, the “captain” of Operation Warp Speed, career Big Pharma executive Moncef Slaoui, confirmed that the millions of Americans who are set to receive the project’s Covid-19 vaccine will be monitored via “incredibly precise . . . tracking systems” that will “ensure that patients each get two doses of the same vaccine and to monitor them for adverse health effects.” Slaoui also noted that tech giants Google and Oracle have been contracted as part of this “tracking system” but did not specify their exact roles beyond helping to “collect and track vaccine data.”
The day before the Wall Street Journal interview was published, the New York Times published a separate interview with Slaoui where he referred to this “tracking system” as a “very active pharmacovigilance surveillance system.” During a previous interview with the journal Science in early September, Slaoui had referred to this system only as “a very active pharmacovigilance system” that would “make sure that when the vaccines are introduced that we’ll absolutely continue to assess their safety.” Slaoui has only recently tacked on the words “tracking” and “surveillance” to his description of this system during his relatively rare media interviews.
I can see the potential crisis, but why not tell us how many children we’re talking about?
With the recent announcement that the NHS will provide services for patients with long covid, there was a palpable sense of triumph among the community of long haulers. We both have long covid and are active campaigners for this condition. We should have been elated; after all, this was the recognition campaigners had been advocating for since the release of the video “Message in a bottle—Long Covid SOS.” Although we are pleased by this commitment from the NHS to recognise long covid, we have ongoing concerns for the lack of paediatric services for children with covid-19. One of us (Frances Simpson) is a mother of two children who have also been experiencing symptoms for almost seven months, and has met many other parents whose children have had covid-19.
Existing research shows that children have generally been found to have less severe covid-19, but there is concern among campaigners that paediatric long covid has received much less attention. Many of the parents in online support groups share this concern, describing their fear at the strange and fluctuating symptoms experienced by their children, their frustration at the lack of medical care, and their struggles to be believed. When the World Health Organization extended an invitation to the campaign group LongCovidSOS to share experiences of Long Covid, Frances took the opportunity as a speaker at the meeting to present the narratives of children and parents who have symptoms of long covid. She shared the views from the many long covid support groups on social media, as a means of drawing attention to the possibility that symptoms of long covid may extend to children.
The quantification of this was impossible due to the lack of empirical data. However, with this in mind, she conducted an informal poll on closed social media groups including the Body Politic/Slack support group, the LongCovid Support Group, and the Parents of Longhauler children support group on Facebook. There are of course limitations of a survey of this kind due to selection and other types of reporting biases, but in the absence of any existing data, this was a scoping exercise. Parents reported that their children experienced fatigue, general gastrointestinal issues, sore throats, headaches, and muscle pain or weakness. Other symptoms included fevers, nausea, mood changes, rashes, dizziness, breathing difficulties and cognitive blunting. The findings of this very informal patient-led survey demonstrate that there is a need for further epidemiological data collection, in order to quantify and qualify the existence of long covid in children. There is also need for research into pathophysiology of these symptoms as is being currently instigated in adult cohorts.
Pretty incredible that 80% of English covid patients admitted to ICU are overweight (32%), obese (37%) or morbidly obese (11%).
Is this why Japan and S.Korea have got off so lightly? (population obesity rates 4% and 5% respectively, versus 31% in England) pic.twitter.com/hPeGHWffED
— Alistair Haimes (@AlistairHaimes) October 15, 2020
Deaf and dumb politics.
Couples living apart in areas with Tier 2 restrictions are not allowed to have sleepovers unless they are in a “support bubble”, Downing Street confirmed today. Boyfriends and girlfriends will be able to meet outdoors in Tier 2 but are expected to adhere to social distancing rules such as hands, face and space. They must also adhere to the rule of six. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a briefing of Westminster journalists: “The rules on household mixing in Tier 2 set out that you should mix with your own household only unless you’ve formed a support bubble and that obviously does apply to some couples.”
A support bubble is a network between a single-person home and one other household of any size , according to the government rules. It comes as both London and Essex are set to be plunged into Tier 2 at midnight tonight. Asked why there was no exemption for people in established relationships in Tier 2, he replied: “Because the purpose of the measures that were put in place is to break the chain in transmission between households and the scientific advice is there is greater transmission of the virus indoors.” Asked if couples in Tier 2 can meet outside, he said: “Yes, as it was set out in the guidance that was published this week the ban on household mixing is in relation to indoors and outdoors the rule of six applies.”
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“No public institution or agency should be created without an expiration date”
– Nassim Taleb
I’m starting to wonder if Joe Biden is half blind. Look at this big ass Teleprompter they had put up for him. pic.twitter.com/KeVN3Z6pQX
— The Dirty Truth (Josh) (@AKA_RealDirty) October 17, 2020
Biden smear campaign
I asked Joe Biden: What is your response to the NYPost story about your son, sir?
He called it a “smear campaign” and then went after me. “I know you’d ask it. I have no response, it’s another smear campaign, right up your alley, those are the questions you always ask.” pic.twitter.com/Eo6VD4TqxD
— Bo Erickson CBS (@BoKnowsNews) October 17, 2020
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